The Norman Transcript

January 3, 2013

news in brief


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Boehner agrees to Sandy aid vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under intense pressure from angry Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner agreed Wednesday to a vote this week on aid for Superstorm Sandy recovery.

The speaker will schedule a vote Friday for $9 billion for the national flood insurance program and another on Jan. 15 for a remaining $51 billion in the package, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York said after emerging from a meeting with Boehner and GOP lawmakers from New York and New Jersey. The votes will be taken by the new Congress that will be sworn in Thursday.

King left the session with Boehner without the anger that led him to rip into the speaker Tuesday night.

“It was a very positive meeting,” King said, adding that Boehner, R-Ohio, assured the lawmakers present that the money from the two House votes would roughly equal the $60 billion package of aid that passed the Senate.

Since the votes will be taken in the new Congress, the Senate also will have to approve the legislation. If the House, as expected, approves the $9 billion flood insurance proposal, the Senate plans to move quickly in hopes of approving the aid on a voice vote Friday. The flood insurance money will help pay for claims by home and business owners with coverage.

Next fiscal crisis coming in 2 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — Onward to the next fiscal crisis. Actually, several of them, potentially. The New Year’s Day deal averting the “fiscal cliff” lays the groundwork for more combustible struggles in Washington over taxes, spending and debt in the next few months.

President Barack Obama’s victory on taxes this week was the second, grudging round of piecemeal successes in as many years in chipping away at the nation’s mountainous deficits. Despite the length and intensity of the debate, the deal to raise the top income tax rate on families earning over $450,000 a year — about 1 percent of households — and including only $12 billion in spending cuts turned out to be a relatively easy vote for many. This was particularly so because the alternative was to raise taxes on everyone.

But in banking $620 billion in higher taxes over the coming decade from wealthier earners, Obama and his Republican rivals have barely touched deficits still expected to be in the $650 billion range by the end of his second term. And those back-of-the-envelope calculations assume policymakers can find more than $1 trillion over 10 years to replace automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as a sequester.

“They didn’t do any of the tough stuff,” said Erskine Bowles, chairman of Obama’s 2010 deficit commission. “We’ve taken two steps now, but those two steps combined aren’t enough to put our fiscal house in order.”

In 2011, the government adopted tighter caps on day-to-day operating budgets of the Pentagon and other cabinet agencies to save $1.1 trillion over 10 years.

Full recovery expected for Clinton

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was released from a New York hospital on Wednesday, three days after doctors discovered a blood clot in her head.

Clinton’s medical team advised her Wednesday evening that she was making good progress on all fronts and said they are confident she will fully recover, said Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines. Doctors had been treating Clinton with blood thinners to dissolve a clot in a vein that runs through the space between the brain and the skull behind the right ear.

“She’s eager to get back to the office,” Reines said in a statement, adding that the secretary and her family are grateful for the excellent care she received at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Reines said details of when Clinton will return to work will be clarified in the coming days.

Clinton had been in the hospital since Sunday, when doctors discovered the clot on an MRI test during a follow-up exam stemming from a concussion she suffered earlier in December. While at home battling a stomach virus, Clinton had fainted, fallen and struck her head, a spokesman said.

Al-Jazeera buys Current TV from Al Gore

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Al-Jazeera, the Pan-Arab news channel that has struggled to win space on American cable television, has acquired Current TV, Al Gore confirmed Wednesday.

Gore and his partner Joel Hyatt announced the sale in a statement.

“Current Media was built based on a few key goals: To give voice to those who are not typically heard; to speak truth to power; to provide independent and diverse points of view; and to tell the stories that no one else is telling,” Gore and Hyatt said.

“Al-Jazeera has the same goals and, like Current, believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us.”

The acquisition could extend Al-Jazeera’s reach beyond a few large U.S. metropolitan areas, where some people can watch Al-Jazeera English.

Sperm donor balks at child support

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple after answering an online ad is fighting the state’s efforts to suddenly force him to pay child support for the now 3-year-old girl, arguing that he and the women signed an agreement waiving all of his parental rights.

The case hinges on the fact that no doctors were used for the artificial insemination. The state argues that because William Marotta didn’t work through a clinic or doctor, as required by state law, he can be held responsible for about $6,000 that the child’s biological mother received through public assistance, as well as future child support.

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