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Associated Press

Posted on January 1, 2013 at 12:02 AM

Highlights of tentative bipartisan agreement to avert 'fiscal cliff'

Highlights of a tentative agreement Monday between the White House and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., aimed at averting wide tax increases and budget cuts scheduled to take effect in the new year. The measure would raise taxes by about $600 billion over 10 years compared with tax policies that expire at midnight Monday. It would also delay for two months across-the-board spending cuts otherwise set to begin slashing the budgets of the Pentagon and numerous domestic agencies.

Highlights include:

—Income tax rates: Extends decade-old tax cuts on incomes up to $400,000 for individuals, $450,000 for couples. Earnings above those amounts would be taxed at a rate of 39.6 percent, up from the current 35 percent. Extends Clinton-era caps on itemized deductions and the phase-out of the personal exemption for individuals making more than $250,000 and couples earning more than $300,000.

—Estate tax: Estates would be taxed at a top rate of 40 percent, with the first $5 million in value exempted for individual estates and $10 million for family estates. In 2012, such estates were subject to a top rate of 35 percent.

—Capital gains, dividends: Taxes on capital gains and dividend income exceeding $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for families would increase from 15 percent to 20 percent.

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Democratic officials: White House, GOP reach fiscal 'cliff' deal on tax hikes, spending cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Racing the clock, the White House reached a New Year's Eve accord with Senate Republicans late Monday to block across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts in government programs due to take effect at midnight, according to administration and Senate Democratic officials.

Under the deal, taxes would remain steady for the middle class and rise at incomes over $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for couples — levels higher than President Barack Obama had campaigned for in his successful drive for a second term in office.

Spending cuts aimed at the Pentagon and domestic programs would be deferred for two months. That would allow the White House and lawmakers time to regroup before plunging very quickly into a new round of budget brinkmanship certain to revolve around Republican calls to rein in the cost of Medicare and other government benefit programs.

Democratic officials said that barring opposition from majority Democrats, a late-night Senate vote was possible on the deal, which was brokered by Vice President Joseph Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Passage would send the measure to the House, where Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, refrained from endorsing a package as yet unseen by his famously rebellious rank-and-file.

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US, Europe hope 2013 brings better times; Asia-Pacific greets new year with lavish fireworks

NEW YORK (AP) — From teeming Times Square to a once-isolated Asian country celebrating its first public New Year's Eve countdown in decades, the world looked to the start of 2013 with hope for renewal after a year of economic turmoil, searing violence and natural disasters.

Fireworks, concerts and celebrations unfolded around the globe to ring in the new year and, for some, to wring out the old.

"With all the sadness in the country, we're looking for some good changes in 2013," Laura Concannon, of Hingham, Mass., said as she, her husband, Kevin, and his parents took in the scene in bustling Times Square on Monday.

A blocks-long line of bundled-up revelers with New Year's hats and sunglasses boasting "2013" formed hours before the first ball drop in decades without Dick Clark, who died in April and was to be honored with a tribute concert and his name printed on pieces of confetti.

Security in Times Square was tight, with a mass of uniformed police and plainclothes officers assigned to blend into the crowd. With police Commissioner Raymond Kelly proclaiming that Times Square would be the "safest place in the world on New Year's Eve," officers used barriers to prevent overcrowding and checkpoints to inspect vehicles, enforce a ban on alcohol and check handbags.

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

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

1. FINALLY, A DEAL ON THE 'FISCAL CLIFF'

With scant hours to spare, the White House and congressional Republicans agree to extend tax cuts for the middle class, among other things.

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Doctor say Hillary Rodham Clinton being treated for blood clot in head, predict full recovery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton developed a blood clot in her head but did not suffer a stroke or neurological damage, her doctors said Monday. They say they are confident that she will make a full recovery.

In a statement that revealed the location of the clot, Clinton's doctors said it is in the vein in the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear. She is being treated with blood thinners to help dissolve the clot, the doctors said, and she will be released once the medication dose has been established.

Clinton, 65, is making excellent progress and is in good spirits, Dr. Lisa Bardack of the Mount Kisco Medical Group and Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi of George Washington University said in a statement.

Clinton, who was spending a second day at a New York hospital, developed the clot after suffering a concussion earlier in December. She had fainted, fallen and struck her head at home while battling a stomach virus, her spokesman said. She has not been seen publicly since Dec. 7.

Phillipe Reines, her spokesman, said her doctors discovered the clot Sunday while performing a follow-up exam on the concussion. She was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

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J&J gets FDA approval for Sirturo, first drug for drug-resistant tuberculosis

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a Johnson & Johnson tuberculosis drug that is the first new medicine to fight the deadly infection in more than four decades.

The agency approved J&J's pill, Sirturo, for use with older drugs to fight a hard-to-treat strain of tuberculosis that has not responded to other medications. However, the agency cautioned that the drug carries risks of potentially deadly heart problems and should be prescribed carefully by doctors.

Roughly one-third of the world's population is estimated to be infected with the bacteria causing tuberculosis. The disease is rare in the U.S., but kills about 1.4 million people a year worldwide. Of those, about 150,000 succumb to the increasingly common drug-resistant forms of the disease. About 60 percent of all cases are concentrated in China, India, Russia and Eastern Europe.

Sirturo, known chemically as bedaquiline, is the first medicine specifically designed for treating multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. That's a form of the disease that cannot be treated with at least two of the four primary antibiotics used for tuberculosis.

The standard drugs used to fight the disease were developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Pentagon to debut float in Rose parade to commemorate Korean War vets 60 years after armistice

SAN DIEGO (AP) — It's been almost 60 years since James McEachin returned home with a bullet still lodged in his chest, finding an America indifferent toward the troops who fought in Korea. Now he will get the homecoming parade he had expected.

The Defense Department for the first time will put a float in Pasadena's Tournament of Roses — one of the most watched parades — to commemorate the veterans from a conflict that still casts a shadow over the world.

"I think it's a magnificent gesture and it cures a lot of ills," said McEachin, who will be among six veterans who will ride on the float Tuesday. The 82-year-old author and actor starred in Perry Mason TV movies, among other things.

The $247,000 flower-covered float will be a replica of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Pentagon's debut comes ahead of events marking the 60th anniversary of the July 1953 armistice that halted the bloodshed but did not declare peace.

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Survivors of Oregon bus crash that killed 9 say some passengers were ejected through windows

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) — Survivors of a bus crash that killed nine people on a partly icy section of interstate in rural Eastern Oregon said Monday some passengers were thrown from the vehicle through broken windows after it skidded out of control, smashed through a guardrail and plummeted 200 feet down an embankment.

When the tour bus came to a rest, terrified passengers looked around for their loved ones.

"Some mothers screamed to find their son or daughter," said Jaemin Seo, a 23-year-old exchange student from Suwon, South Korea.

The charter bus, owned by a British Columbia company, crashed Sunday just east of Pendleton while returning to Canada from Las Vegas — one of the stops on a nine-day western tour.

Aboard were 48 people, some of them exchange students from South Korea. Some passengers were from British Columbia, and some from Washington state. Investigators say there also may have been a Japanese passenger and one from Taiwan, and they're working with consular officials from those nations to identify them.

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Suspect in death of man shoved in front of NYC subway train once arrested for random assault

NEW YORK (AP) — The family of a woman accused of shoving a man to his death in front of a subway train called police several times in the past five years because she had not been taking prescribed medication and was difficult to deal with, authorities said Monday.

Erika Menendez, 31, was being held without bail on a murder charge in the death of Sunando Sen. She told police she pushed the 46-year-old India native because she thought he was Muslim, and she hates them, according to prosecutors.

They had never met before she suddenly shoved him off the subway platform because she "thought it would be cool," prosecutors said. The victim was Hindu, not Muslim.

It wasn't clear whether Menendez had a diagnosed mental condition. But her previous arrests and legal troubles paint a portrait of a troubled woman.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly would not say what medication she was taking or whether she had a psychiatric history. Authorities were called to her home five times since 2005 on reports of an emotionally disturbed person.

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Marijuana clubs open in Colorado for members-only group smoking

DENVER (AP) — Recreational marijuana clubs opened Monday in Colorado, less than a month after the state governor signed into law a constitutional amendment allowing recreational pot use.

With a reggae soundtrack and flashing disco-style lights, Club 64 in an industrial area just north of downtown Denver opened Monday afternoon, with some 200 people signed up. The opening came less than 24 hours after club organizers announced they would charge a $29.99 admission price for the bring-your-own pot club.

Two Colorado clubs were believed to be the first legal pot dens in the nation.

New Club 64 members were firing up bongs and exchanging hugs before the sun set Monday, and they also planned to ring in the new year together.

"Look at this!" an excited Chloe Villano exclaimed as the club she created over the weekend opened. "We were so scared because we didn't want it to be crazy. But this is crazy! People want this."

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