Nation & World
Arts, Culture boost economy
New research from the National Endowment for the Arts and U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the arts and culture sector contributes more to the U.S. economy than previously thought. The analysis released Monday is based on 2012 data. It shows that arts and culture contributed more than $698 billion to the economy. That’s about 4.32 percent of U.S. goods and services.
Senate taking test vote on Keystone pipeline
Senate Republicans steered legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline toward an initial test vote on Monday, intent on forcing a quick veto showdown with President Barack Obama over the long-stalled project. The measure has sparked intense debate over the Canada-to-Texas pipeline’s potential impact on employment and the environment, yet there was little or no doubt that it would overcome Monday’s hurdle.
Family dollar pitches Dollar Tree merger
Almost a month after Family Dollar postponed a shareholder vote on its planned $8.5 billion merger with Dollar Tree, the company is making a direct pitch to investors to try to win support for the deal. In a public letter to shareholders released Monday, Howard Levine, Family Dollar’s chairman and chief executive, implored investors to support the deal despite a higher $9.1 billion bid from its larger rival Dollar General. A new vote on the deal is scheduled for Jan. 22.
Crayola apologizes for hackers’ posts
Crayola is apologizing after hackers filled its Facebook page with off-color content. The Forks Township, Penn.-based crayon and marker manufacturer regained control of the page late Sunday and removed the offending posts. Instead of burnt sienna and cerulean blue, the page’s 2.4 million followers saw cartoon breasts and sophomoric sex jokes.
Death toll from defective GM switches hits 45
At least 45 people have died and 68 have been injured in crashes involving General Motors cars with defective ignition switches. Attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who was hired by GM to compensate victims, updated the totals Monday. The numbers may change. Feinberg has received 303 death claims and 2,407 injury claims, and is still reviewing 738 of them. So far, 112 claims are eligible for compensation.
Social Security won’t seize tax refunds this year
People who owe old debts to the Social Security Administration are getting a reprieve this tax season: The federal government won’t be seizing their tax refunds. Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin suspended a debt collection program last spring in which thousands of people had tax refunds seized to recoup overpayments that happened more than a decade ago. Members of Congress complained that some people were being forced to repay benefits they received decades ago as children.
The Associated Press and The New York Times contributed.