Monday, January 13, 2014

Published:

Lawmakers producing $1.1T spending bill in effort to bury last year's budget battles

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Top congressional negotiators Monday night released a bipartisan $1.1 trillion spending bill that would pay for the operations of government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year.

The massive measure fleshes out the details of the budget deal that Congress passed last month. That pact gave relatively modest, but much-sought relief to the Pentagon and domestic agencies after deep budget cuts last year.

The bill would avert spending cuts that threatened construction of new aircraft carriers and next-generation Joint Strike Fighters. It maintains rent subsidies for the poor, awards federal civilian and military workers a 1 percent raise and beefs up security at U.S. embassies across the globe. The Obama administration would be denied money to meet its full commitments to the International Monetary Fund but get much of the money it wanted to pay for implementation of the new health care law and the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations.

The 1,582-page bill was released after weeks of negotiations between House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who kept a tight lid on the details until its release late Monday.

"This agreement shows the American people that we can compromise, and that we can govern," Mikulski said. "It puts an end to shutdown, slowdown, slamdown politics."

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Older adults, more expensive to cover, outnumber young people so far in health care signups

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's an older, costlier crowd that's signing up so far for health insurance under President Barack Obama's law, according to government figures released Monday. Enrollments are lower for the healthy, younger Americans who will be needed to keep premiums from rising.

Young adults from 18 to 34 are only 24 percent of total enrollment, the administration said in its first signup figures broken down for age, gender and other details. With the HealthCare.gov website now working, the figures cover the more than 2 million Americans who had signed up for government-subsidized private insurance through the end of December in new federal and state markets.

Enrolling young and healthy people is important because they generally pay more into the system than they take out, subsidizing older adults. While 24 percent is not a bad start, say independent experts, it should be closer to 40 percent to help keep premiums down.

Adults ages 55-64 were the most heavily represented in the signups, accounting for 33 percent of the total. Overall, the premiums paid by people in that demographic don't fully cover their medical expenses. Some are in the waiting room for Medicare; that coverage starts at age 65.

Some questions remained unanswered.

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:

1. WHO'S SIGNING UP FOR 'OBAMACARE'

So far an older, costlier crowd is enrolling for president's health insurance, with fewer healthy, younger people who will be needed to keep the premiums down.

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5 days after chemical leaked into W.Va. river, ban on tap water lifted for small part of state

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Safe tap water gushed from faucets and shower heads in West Virginia on Monday, a welcome sight and sound for a small fraction of the 300,000 people who have not been able to use running water since a chemical spill five days ago.

It could still be days before everyone in the Charleston metropolitan area is cleared to use the water, though officials said the water in certain designated areas was safe to drink and wash with as long as people flushed out their systems. They cautioned that the water may still have a slight licorice-type odor to it, raising the anxieties of some who believed it was still contaminated.

"I'm not going to drink it. I'll shower in it and do dishes in it. But I won't drink it. I don't think it's (the chemical) all out," said Angela Stone, who started the 30-minute or so process of flushing her system out soon after the ban was lifted.

By Monday evening, officials had given the green light to about 15 percent of West Virginia American Water's customers, and company spokeswoman Laura Jordan said as much as 25 percent of its customer base could have water by the end of the day.

The water crisis shuttered schools, restaurants and day-care centers and truckloads of water had to be brought in from out of state. People were told to use the water only to flush their toilets.

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Federal forces to take over security in part of western Mexico as vigilantes clash with cartel

APATZINGAN, Mexico (AP) -- Federal forces will take over security in a large swath of a western Mexico state where firefights between vigilante groups and drug traffickers erupted over the weekend, a top Mexican official announced Monday.

Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said federal forces with support from Michoacan state police will patrol an area in the state known as Tierra Caliente, the home base of the Knights Templar drug cartel.

"Be certain we will contain the violence in Michoacan," Osorio Chong said.

He gave no details on what federal agencies would be involved or give numbers on planned forces. Some federal police and troops have been sent to the region in recent months because of the unrest, but have generally not intervened.

The federal Attorney General's Office said later in a statement it had sent 11 helicopters and 70 federal investigators and officers to help return law and order to the state.

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2 children die after getting trapped inside hope chest in Mass. home in apparent accident

FRANKLIN, Mass. (AP) -- A 7-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister died after getting trapped in a hope chest in their home, authorities said Monday.

Family members found the children together inside the chest, which had a lid that could only be opened from the outside. Police responded to the Franklin home at about 8 p.m. Sunday, and the children were taken to hospitals but did not survive.

David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, said multiple family members, including an adult, were in the house at the time. He would not say whether the adult was a parent of the children.

A neighbor whose daughter was friends with the 8-year-old girl identified her as Lexi Munroe and said her 7-year-old brother, Sean Munroe, also died.

Dawn Powers, who lives a few doors down the street from the Munroe family, said the brother and sister were very well-behaved, "the type of kids you invite into your home."

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'Octomom' accused of failing to report income, charged with welfare fraud in California

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "Octomom" Nadya Suleman did porn films, boxed D-list celebrities, even endorsed birth control for dogs after giving birth in 2009 to eight babies after she received in vitro fertility treatments.

Through it all, she never ran afoul of the law. At least until now.

On Monday, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced Suleman has been charged with three counts of welfare fraud.

Authorities say the 38-year-old single mother of 14 children failed to report $30,000 she earned while collecting public assistance money.

Suleman, who was charged Jan. 6, was not immediately taken into custody but was ordered to appear in court on Friday. Prosecutors planned to ask that bail be set at $25,000.

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Officers acquitted in death of California homeless man after confrontation with police

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Two California police officers who were videotaped in a violent struggle with a homeless man during an arrest were acquitted Monday of killing him.

It was a rare case in which police officers were charged in a death involving actions on duty. One of the officers acquitted had been charged with murder.

Jurors took less than two days to reach their verdicts.

The arrest was captured on a 33-minute surveillance video that was key evidence at the trial. It showed Kelly Thomas struggling with six police officers, who hit, kneed and jolted him with an electric stun gun as he was on the ground, calling out for his father over and over again.

Former Fullerton police Officer Manuel Ramos was acquitted of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of Thomas.

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Bacon, Purefoy admits that Fox's creep 'The Following' gives them nightmares

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Anyone who gets nightmares from Fox's creepy thriller "The Following" isn't alone. The two stars say it happens to them, too.

Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy both said Monday they take work home with them sometimes. Bacon plays former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who's on the trail of a sadistic serial killer played by Purefoy in the series, which attracted attention for violence in its debut season but also had strong ratings. "The Following" returns for its second season on Sunday.

"He's so profoundly dark," Purefoy said of his character, Joe Carroll. "Anybody who celebrates death and finds great beauty in it, absolutely, there are some fretful nights."

Jessica Stroup, who plays a police officer, said there was something so disturbing that happens to her character this season that it was hard to shake.

She can sleep soundly, but she's looking at her surroundings more carefully while awake, she said.

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A-Rod sues MLB, union after arbitrator finds 'clear and convincing' evidence of drug use

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez sued Major League Baseball and its players' union Monday, seeking to overturn a season-long suspension imposed by an arbitrator who ruled there was "clear and convincing evidence" the New York Yankees star used three banned substances and twice tried to obstruct the sport's drug investigation.

As part of the complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Rodriguez's lawyers made public Saturday's 34-page decision by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, who shortened a penalty originally set at 211 games last August by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig for violations of the sport's drug agreement and labor contract.

Horowitz, a 65-year-old making his second decision as baseball's independent arbitrator, trimmed the discipline to 162 games, plus all postseason games in 2014.

"While this length of suspension may be unprecedented for a MLB player, so is the misconduct he committed," Horowitz wrote.

Horowitz concluded Rodriguez used testosterone, human growth hormone and Insulin-like growth factor-1 in 2010, 2011 and 2012 in violation of baseball's Joint Drug Agreement. He relied on evidence provided by the founder of the now-closed Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida.