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STATES ASK HELP COLLECTING INTERNET SALES TAXES: More than 21 states have simplified how they collect taxes in hopes of recovering an estimated $20 billion in sales taxes that go uncollected by out-of-state online merchants every year. But the nation's governors say they still need help from Congress.

Speaking on behalf of the National Governors Association, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday it isn't fair to local businesses that online sellers are not required to collect and distribute state sales taxes for purchases made where they don't have a physical presence.

CONGRESS’ TAX TARGETS: Do you make more than $200,000 annually, or $250,000 between you and your spouse? Do you expect to inherit more than $1 million next year? Have a kid in college? Or have three children and earn so little that the government helps pay your taxes? If your answer to all the above is no — and that will be most of you — you're in that wide swath of people who Democrats and Republicans agree shouldn't face higher taxes in January.




OBAMA ADS MAY UNDERMINE HIS LIKABILITY: So much for the promise of hope, change and bipartisan unity that propelled Barack Obama to victory in 2008. To win a second term, the Democratic president has unleashed a barrage of highly critical campaign commercials against Republican rival Mitt Romney. In doing so, Obama risks tarnishing a cherished asset: his likability.

HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL-COSTS WIL LOWER DEFICIT: President Barack Obama's health care overhaul will shrink rather than increase the nation's huge federal deficits over the next decade, Congress' nonpartisan budget scorekeepers said Tuesday, supporting Obama's contention in a major election-year dispute with Republicans


WALL STREET DROPS TRIPLE DIGITS AGAIN: A parade of grim news, from weak corporate earnings to a pullback at U.S. factories to spreading fault lines in Europe's debt crisis, sent investors fleeing stocks for a third straight day on Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 104.14 points, or 0.8 percent, to 12,617.32. It was the third triple-digit point loss in row for the blue chip index. The last time that happened was September, when fears were rife that the U.S. was on the brink of another recession.


US, MEXICO DISAGREE OVER BORDER FENCE: An agency that monitors the U.S.-Mexico boundary is agreeing to a U.S. proposal to build border fence segments in a South Texas flood plain, a move Mexico opposes. The decision by the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission comes despite objections from its Mexican counterpart. Mexico argues the fence would deflect floodwaters to its side of the Rio Grande and violate a bi-national treaty. The Associated Press on Tuesday obtained a letter the commission sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection noting it will not oppose the project. The commission says its analysis found that the fence proposed for three areas in South Texas would not be a significant obstruction to river waters. Half of the 14 miles proposed would be in the flood plain.



EGYPT GOVERNMENT WOES SPARK FRUSTRATION: Armed Egyptians angry over poor services storm hospitals. Others occupy a governor's office to protest a water cut-off. Lawlessness and economic woes have been growing for months under uncertain leadership, and there's skepticism a new government being formed under the Muslim Brotherhood president can fix anything amid power struggles with the military. By SEXUAL HARASSMENT DOUBEL STANDARD IN FRANCE: The hooting and catcalls began as soon as the Cabinet minister stood, wearing a blue and white flowered dress. It did not cease for the entire time she spoke before France's National Assembly. And it came not from an unruly crowd, but from male legislators who later said they were merely showing their appreciation on a warm summer's day. A week later, the same Assembly is set to pass a law on sexual harassment - legislation France has lacked entirely for two months after the previous law was thrown out by a court


LA COUNTY VOTERS TO CAST BALLOT ON CONDOMS IN PORN: Los Angeles County officials have approved a ballot initiative that will ask voters to decide whether porn actors should be required to wear condoms in sex scenes. The Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to ask voters whether to require adult filmmakers to get health permits from the county for film production. The initiative is backed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and spokeswoman Lori Yeghiayan says condom use is one condition of getting the permits. Porn producers would pay a fee to get permits, and the funds would be used to pay enforcement costs.

MORE TEENS USING CONDOMS OVER PAST TWO DECADES: Nearly half of high school students say they've had sex, yet progress has stalled in getting them to use condoms to protect against the AIDS virus, government researchers reported Tuesday. Today, four of every 10 new HIV infections occur in people younger than 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and the teen years, just as many youths become sexually active, are key for getting across the safe-sex message. About 60 percent of sexually active high school students say they used condoms the last time they had sex, researchers said at the International AIDS Conference. That's an increase from the 46 percent who were using condoms in 1991.


GOP CHALLENGES MILITARY MARCH IN GAY PARADE: Congressional Republicans challenged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday to explain why the Defense Department allowed active-duty troops to wear their uniforms while marching in San Diego's gay pride parade last weekend. In a letter to Panetta, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma said department rules bar service members from participating in political activities while in uniform and pressed Panetta on why a waiver was granted, who requested it and why it was considered over others.

3 ARRESTED IN SEPARATE 'DARK KNIGHT' INCIDENTS: At least 3 men accused of making threats during or after watching the new Batman movie have been arrested in separate incidents, underscoring moviegoers' anxieties and heightened security in the wake of a deadly mass shooting at a Colorado theater showing the film. A Maine man was arrested when he told authorities that he was on his way to shoot a former employer a day after watching "The Dark Knight Rises," Maine state police said Monday. Timothy Courtois of Biddeford, Maine, had been stopped for speeding, and a police search of his car found an AK-47 assault weapon, four handguns, ammunition and news clippings about the mass shooting that left 12 people dead early Friday, authorities said.  Police searched Courtois' home later Sunday and found a machine gun, several other guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.