NEW YORK – American millionaires have seen their assets shrink by 30 percent during the economic crisis, a report said on Tuesday, with only 36 percent of them pleased with the performance of their financial advisers.

Of U.S. households worth $1 million or more, 55 percent are concerned they will not have enough assets to maintain their lifestyles, said Spectrem Group, a consulting firm specializing in the affluent and retirement markets.

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – In killing himself German billionaire Adolf Merckle has become the latest casualty of the global financial crisis, his family saying on Tuesday he was broken by the struggle to salvage their business empire. Merckle, who was the world’s 94th-richest person in 2008 according to Forbes magazine, spent his life building a business conglomerate with about 100,000 employees.

The empire was poised to come crashing down after his family made wrong-way bets on skyrocketing Volkswagen shares. The family has been under pressure to sell some assets or seek bridging loans and has been in talks with banks for weeks.

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Slovakia, one of the countries affected by this dispute between Ukraine and Russia, proclaimed state of emergency due to the huge cut of gas flow today.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Europe faced a deepening energy crunch and more sub-zero temperatures on Wednesday, with Moscow and Kiev showing little sign of a swift resolution of a pricing dispute that has slashed Russian gas supplies to the West. Russia accused its former Soviet neighbor of stealing about 15 percent the gas it ships across Ukraine to European states.

“Ukraine has stolen gas not from Russia, but from consumers who have bought the product and paid for it,” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in televised remarks late on Tuesday. Ukraine’s pro-West President Viktor Yushchenko blamed Moscow for the supply disruptions, saying Moscow would continue to close the gas taps to Europe or stop them altogether.

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A bank robber in the US is facing a life sentence after a blunder that led police straight to him.

Hooded bank robber mock up

The man walked into a Chicago bank and handed a teller a note that read: “Be Quick Be Quit (quiet). Give your cash or I’ll shoot.”

He was handed about $400 but mistakenly left half the note, written on his October payslip, behind.

Detectives found the other half outside the bank – complete with his name and address.

Police said they had known some strange bank robberies but none quite like this one.

“It’s fairly unusual that we see something that specifically stupid.” – FBI spokesman Ross Rice

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Pratt Receives Fastest Red In Football History

Non-league Chippenham Town striker David Pratt shot himself into international stardom, but for all the wrong reasons.

Within three seconds of a match against rivals Bashley, Pratt was issued a straight red card for a lunge at Chris Knowles.

It was the first move of the game, and it was to prove Pratt’s first – and last – contribution prior to his early bath.

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Israel’s attack on Gaza is, in effect, an attack on Iran’s empire, the first since its offensive on Iranian-backed Hezbollah in 2006. That attack failed for a number of reasons, not least of which was Israel’s poor intelligence on Hezbollah: historically, its intelligence on the Palestinians has been much better. Moreover, this attack seems more deliberately planned, with narrower, publicly stated aims – all in all, a more professional job. But there is a fundamental problem with what Israel is doing that goes to the heart of the postmodern beast that the Iranian empire represents.

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The higher speed of the Sun means the galaxy must have more mass — about 50 percent more — so as to generate a stronger gravitational pull to keep hold of the Sun, as well as all its other stars. That expands the Milky Way to roughly the heft of Andromeda.

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Madoff has caused losses basically equal to all the losses caused by all the conventional thieves in America for nearly three full years.

Media accounts immediately labeled the disappearance of $50 billion, masterminded by Bernard Madoff, as the largest fraud in history. It is a greater wealth loss than having one of many household-name companies — such as Walt Disney, 3M or Boeing — vanish without a trace.

The loss is mind-boggling. But the figure does nothing to convey the damage this alleged Ponzi scheme has done.

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So far, the Treasury Department has injected more than $250 billion into the U.S. financial sector. But precious little has come back out in the form of loans that were supposed to help get the economy going again.

In the meantime, banks have been anything but shy about using billions of dollars for other purposes, many of which seem to have little to do with getting the U.S. economy rolling. Top bailout recipients have spent billions on everything from purchases of foreign companies to extravagant spa retreats and from exorbitant golden parachutes and executive pay packages to CEO use of corporate jets for private trips.

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Two Democratic officials say President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to run the CIA. Panetta was a surprise pick for the post, with no experience in the intelligence world. An Obama transition official and another Democrat disclosed his nomination on a condition of anonymity since it was not yet public.

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Authorities say an elderly Port St. Lucie woman was so neglected by her son that her never-removed shoes had grown into her feet.

Investigators were called to an area hospital on Saturday after paramedics found 90-year-old Anna Chuboff emaciated and wearing clothes “soaked in urine.” She had been injured in a fall at her home.

Her son, 68-year-old Robert Rozenti, was arrested and charged with neglect of an elderly person. It wasn’t immediately known whether he had an attorney.

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