CHINA'S REACH-MINING FARMLAND
GUNNEDAH, Australia â¿¿ Tony Clift's family has plowed the rich black soil of Australia's Liverpool Plains for six generations. The thought of selling never crossed his mind until a Chinese company came to town. Shenhua Watermark Coal offered to buy farms at unheard-of prices. The decision wasn't easy, Clift says. His pioneer ancestors settled the land in 1832. But farming is a business nowadays, and selling his 6,500 acres made business sense. Soaring coal prices fueled by China's economic growth have made mining parts of the Australian landscape far more lucrative than farming it. It's one example of how China's emergence as a global trading power may transform countries in ways never contemplated and not yet fully understood. By Rod McGuirk.
MARKETS & ECONOMYFISCAL CLIFF REDFORD, Mich. â¿¿ President Barack Obama warns that he "won't compromise" on his demands that the wealthiest Americans pay more in taxes, digging in on the chief sticking point between the White House and Republicans as they seek a way to avert the "fiscal cliff." By White House Correspondent Ben Feller. AP photos. Also: â¿¿ FISCAL CLIFF-STATES â¿¿ A plunge over the federal "fiscal cliff" may sound like a terrifying risk for many state officials anxiously watching as Washington struggles to avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to start with the new year. â¿¿ FISCAL CLIFF-BUSINESS TAXES â¿¿ Small business owners say they're concerned Obama's tax increase on them would stunt growth. AP photos. â¿¿ FISCAL CLIFF-MARKETS â¿¿ Fear of financial markets' reaction lends uncertainty to fiscal cliff talks as deadline nears. AP photo. MADOFF FRAUD NEW YORK â¿¿ When he was first told in 2008 about Bernard Madoff's epic Ponzi scheme, attorney David Sheehan had a response that now sounds inconceivable. "Who," he wondered, "is Bernie Madoff?" Since then, a trustee appointed to recover funds for Madoff victims and a battalion of lawyers headed by Sheehan have spent long days untangling the fraud. On the fourth anniversary of the financier's arrest, it's an international effort that shows no signs of slowing. By Tom Hays.