EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 12, 2013

Around the World and Nation


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Obama, GOP try to negotiate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Efforts accelerated in Congress on Friday to keep the U.S. Treasury from defaulting as early as next week and to end the partial government shutdown that stretched through an 11th day. At the White House and Capitol, President Barack Obama and top aides consulted repeatedly with both House and Senate Republicans.

“Let’s put this hysterical talk of default behind us and instead start talking about finding solutions,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

There was no shortage of suggestions. Yet there also was no evidence of agreement to end crises that have caused financial markets to shudder and interest rates to rise, while closing some federal offices and sending 350,000 workers home on furlough, without pay.

Senate and House Republicans each offered to reopen the government and raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit — but only as part of broader approaches that envision deficit savings, changes to the health care law known as Obamacare and an easing of across-the-board spending cuts that the White House and Congress both dislike. The details and timing differed.

“We’re waiting to hear” from administration officials, said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Air Force fires general in charge of nuclear missile force; 2nd nuke leader fired this week

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force fired the general in charge of its nuclear missiles on Friday, just two days after a Navy admiral with top nuclear weapons responsibilities was sacked. Both men are caught up in investigations of alleged personal misconduct, adding to a cascade of turmoil inside the nation’s nuclear weapons force.

The Air Force removed Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, a 35-year veteran, from his command of 20th Air Force, responsible for all 450 of the service’s intercontinental ballistic missiles. Carey, who took his post in Wyoming in June 2012, will be reassigned pending the outcome of an investigation into personal misbehavior, the service said.

The Air Force would not specify what Carey is alleged to have done wrong, but two officials with knowledge of the investigation indicated that it was linked to alcohol use.

They said it was not related to the performance or combat readiness of ICBM units or to his stewardship of the force.

Removing senior officers in the nuclear force is rare but has happened twice this week.

Obamacare a success? Lack of numbers makes it hard to say

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — After more than a week in action, is a key feature of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul a success or a bust? Judging by the dearth of data, it’s virtually impossible to say.

The federal government has released no comprehensive data on how many people have enrolled for health insurance using federally run exchanges, the online marketplaces being used in 36 states for residents to compare and buy insurance. In the 14 states running their own exchanges, the situation isn’t much better.

Officials with California’s exchange say it will be mid-November until they can say how many people signed up. In Oregon and Colorado, the official number of completed applications is zero. And in Minnesota, which billed itself as a leader in implementing the Affordable Care Act, officials won’t release data until next week about the number of applications started and completed.

As a result, a nation obsessed with keeping score to determine winners and losers is finding it difficult to pass immediate judgment on a law that will in large part define the president’s legacy.

“Obamacare has a lot of cynics in this country, and it needs to get off to a better start than what we see so far if it’s going to be a success,” said Bob Laszewski, a Washington, D.C.-based health care industry consultant.

Peace Prize goes to weapons watchdog

BEIRUT (AP) — The watchdog agency working to eliminate the world’s chemical weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a powerful endorsement of the inspectors now on the ground in Syria on a perilous mission to destroy the regime’s stockpile of poison gas.

In honoring the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said “recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons.”

The prize came 10 days after OPCW inspectors started arriving in war-torn Syria to oversee the dismantling of President Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenal.

While world leaders and former Nobel laureates praised the group’s selection, some in Syria lamented that the prize would do nothing to end the bloodshed, most of which is being inflicted with conventional weapons.

“The killing is continuing, the shelling is continuing and the dead continue to fall,” said Mohammed al-Tayeb, an activist who helped film casualties after the deadly chemical attack in August that the rebels and the government have blamed on each other.

Officials: 1 dead, dozens hurt in collision

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A logging truck collided with a train taking passengers on a scenic tour amid fall foliage in eastern West Virginia, killing one person and injuring more than 60 others Friday, emergency services officials said.

The cause of the accident between the truck and the Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad train on a trip at the height of the autumn leaf-watching season wasn’t immediately known.

Two passenger cars overturned in the accident at 1:30 p.m. Friday along U.S. Route 250 about 160 miles east of Charleston near Cheat Mountain, said emergency services director Shawn Dunbrack of Pocahontas County.

Randolph County emergency services director Jim Wise said at least three people were critically injured. He said 21 people were taken to a hospital in Elkins by ambulances and 45 others were transported there by bus with lesser injuries. There were no immediate details on the death and the nature of the injuries.

Hospital spokeswoman Tracy Fath said at least eight ambulances arrived at the hospital. She didn’t immediately know the condition of the arrivals. Medical personnel also were tending to those who arrived by bus.

New Syrian report could feed unease

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian villagers described watching rebels advance on their homes, as mortars thudded around them. By the end of the August attack, 190 civilians had been killed, including children, the elderly and the handicapped, a human rights group said Friday in its most detailed account of alleged war crimes committed by those fighting the Damascus regime.

Human Rights Watch said the offensive against 14 pro-regime villages in the province of Latakia was planned and led by five Islamic extremist groups, including two linked to al-Qaida. Other rebel groups, including those belonging to the Free Syrian Army, a Western-backed alliance, participated in the campaign, but there is no evidence linking them to war crimes, the 105-page report said.

The new allegations are bound to heighten Western unease about those trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad and about who would take over if they were to succeed.

“It creates justifiable alarm that the opposition has been infiltrated and undermined by radicals,” said David L. Phillips, a former U.S. State Department adviser on the Middle East.

The Free Syrian Army distanced itself from the five groups identified by HRW as the main perpetrators, saying it is not cooperating with extremists. “Anyone who commits such crimes will not belong to the revolution anymore,” said spokesman Louay Mikdad.

Parents charged in death of baby girl

QUINCY, Mass. (AP) — A couple accused of killing their 5-month-old daughter by giving her a bottle of formula with heroin in it were charged with manslaughter on Friday.

Ryan Barry and Ashley Cyr, both of Quincy, just south of Boston, were arrested Friday. They pleaded not guilty and were ordered held on $200,000 cash bail.

The couple’s daughter Mya Barry died in September 2011, when the family lived in Marshfield, a half-hour drive southeast of Quincy.

Police responded to a 911 call and found the baby on the living room floor with her grandmother performing CPR on her, Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz’s office said. The baby was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.

Police said they found 3 grams of heroin and hypodermic needles on a shelf in a bedroom shared by Barry, Cyr, the baby and her two sisters, ages 3 and 4.

‘Bionic man’ walks, breathes with artificial organs, limbs

NEW YORK (AP) — Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, after all. We have the technology.

The term “bionic man” was the stuff of science fiction in the 1970s, when a popular TV show called “The Six Million Dollar Man” chronicled the adventures of Steve Austin, a former astronaut whose body was rebuilt using artificial parts after he nearly died.

Now, a team of engineers has assembled a robot using artificial organs, limbs and other body parts that comes tantalizingly close to a true “bionic man.” For real, this time.

The artificial “man” is the subject of a Smithsonian Channel documentary that airs Sunday, Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. Called “The Incredible Bionic Man,” it chronicles engineers’ attempt to assemble a functioning body using artificial parts that range from a working kidney and circulation system to cochlear and retina implants.

The parts hail from 17 manufacturers around the world. This is the first time they’ve been assembled together, says Richard Walker, managing director of Shadow Robot Co. and the lead roboticist on the project.

Attorney in gambling scheme found guilty

SANFORD, Fla. — A Florida attorney has been found guilty of running a gambling operation that was disguised as a veterans charity.

Six jurors deliberated for 14 hours before finding attorney Kelly Mathis guilty Friday of possessing slot machines, helping operate a lottery and racketeering. He was found guilty on all but one of 104 counts against him.

Mathis was accused of operating dozens of so-called Internet cafes throughout the state. He is the first of 57 defendants to go on trial in the Allied Veterans case.

The case led to the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and caused the Florida Legislature to ban Internet cafes earlier this year.

Mathis had claimed he was merely acting as an attorney, giving legal advice, and that the Internet cafes were legal until this year.

He faces dozens of years in prison.