Dec 26 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The New York Times on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Medical centers are rushing to turn nuclear particle accelerators, formerly used only for exotic physics research, into the latest weapons against cancer. Some experts say the push reflects the best and worst of America’s market-based health care system.
* Warren Buffett’s deal for an industrial conglomerate after just two weeks of talks suggests that he is finally finding some acquisitions he can get excited about. The Pritzker family of Chicago will sell to Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N), a 60 percent stake in Marmon Holdings Inc for $4.5 billion.
* Uneasy about the economy and unimpressed by merchandise, American shoppers delivered the bleak holiday shopping season retailers had expected. Spending rose just 3.6 percent over 2006.
* Merrill Lynch & Co Inc MER.N agreed to sell $5 billion of new stock to an investor from Singapore and a smaller stake to a domestic firm, as the fallout from mortgage mess continues to spread.
* Silicon Valley stars Jim Clark and Tom Jermoluk are finding it a lot harder to maneuver through the real estate market than to master the Internet.Five years after they decided to put their entrepreneurial talents and technology fortunes to work building Miami condominiums, the first two projects by their company, Hyperion Development, are plagued with delays and unhappy buyers.
* A proposal that Europe’s top environment official made last month, to ban the planting of a genetically modified corn strain, sets up a bitter war within the European Union, where politicians have done their best to dance around the issue.
* Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), which is trying to beat General Motors Corp (GM.N) to become the world’s biggest automaker by sales, said it’s aiming to sell 9.85 million vehicles worldwide in 2008, setting an ambitious target despite worries about a slowing U.S. car market.
* Riding the tailwinds of a humming Australian economy, Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN.AX) predicts a 40 percent increase in 2008 fiscal year profit.
* Kraft Foods Inc KFT.N will launch an ad blitz to give its popular cracker brand, Ritz, a punch of playfulness.
* Inspired by the gum-splotched sidewalks of New York, Terence Cosgrove, a British professor, is taking on the sticky problem and developing a nonstick chewing gum.