EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 5, 2013

Around the World and Nation


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Medicare chief faces questions from Senate panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Under growing pressure, the administration refused repeatedly to state a position Tuesday on legislation formalizing President Barack Obama’s oft-stated promise that people who like their existing coverage should be allowed to keep it under the new health care law.

Senate Democrats spoke dismissively of the proposals, signaling they have no intention of permitting a vote on the issue that marks the latest challenge confronting supporters of “Obamacare.”

An earlier controversy appeared to be ebbing on a law that has generated more than its share of them. Even so, one strong supporter of the health care law, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R. I., good-naturedly told an administration official, “Good luck getting through this mess.”

Whitehouse spoke to Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the agency deeply involved in implementing the law. She had assured lawmakers that initial flaws with the government’s website were systematically yielding to around-the-clock repair effort.

Senate moves ahead on gay rights bill; foes largely remain silent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Invoking the Declaration of Independence, proponents of a bill that would outlaw discrimination against gays in the workplace argued on Tuesday that the measure is rooted in fundamental fairness for all Americans.

Republican opponents of the measure were largely silent, neither addressing the issue on the second day of Senate debate nor commenting unless asked. Written statements from some rendered their judgment that the bill would result in costly, frivolous lawsuits and mandate federal law based on sexuality.

The Senate moved closer to completing its work on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would prohibit workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said a final vote in the Senate is possible by week’s end.

Illinois was poised to become the 15th state to legalize gay marriage after a vote in the state House on Tuesday.

Toronto mayor admits smoking crack during ‘drunken stupor,’ insists he will stay in office

TORONTO (AP) — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that he smoked crack “probably a year ago,” when he was in a “drunken stupor,” but he refused to resign despite immense pressure to step aside as leader of Canada’s largest city.

Ford said he loves his job and “for the sake of the taxpayers, we must get back to work immediately.”

Allegations that the mayor had been caught on video smoking crack surfaced in news reports in May. Ford initially insisted the video did not exist, sidestepped questions about whether he had ever smoked crack and rebuffed growing calls to step down.

“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” Ford told reporters earlier outside his office. “There have been times when I’ve been in a drunken stupor.”

Hunter paralyzed in fall from tree choosesto end life support

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tim Bowers got to decide for himself whether he wanted to live or die.

When the avid outdoorsman was badly hurt Saturday in a hunting accident, doctors said he would be paralyzed and could be on a ventilator for life. His family had a unique request: Could he be brought out of sedation to hear his prognosis and decide what he wanted to do?

Doctors said yes, and Bowers chose to take no extra measures to stay alive. He died Sunday, hours after his breathing tube was removed.

“We just asked him, ‘Do you want this?’ And he shook his head emphatically no,” his sister, Jenny Shultz, said of her brother, who was often found hunting, camping or helping his father on his northeastern Indiana farm.

The 32-year-old was deer hunting when he fell 16 feet from a tree.

Corporate profits high, stock prices set records despite tepid economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Look at the U.S. economy and you’ll notice an unusual disconnect.

The economy is being slowed by a tight job market, scant pay raises and weak business investment. Yet corporate profits are reaching record highs and fueling record stock prices.

What gives?

How are companies managing to earn so much money in a sluggish economy? And why aren’t their profits goosing the economy?

For starters, weak job growth has held down pay. And since the recession struck six years ago, businesses have been relentless in cutting costs. They’ve also stockpiled cash rather than build new products or lines of business. And they’ve been earning larger chunks of their profits overseas.

NJ mall shootingleaves baffled relatives

TEANECK, N.J. (AP) — Relatives and friends of a young man who fired shots in New Jersey’s largest mall, trapping terrified shoppers for hours before killing himself, struggled Tuesday to reconcile those actions with a person they described as pleasant and well-liked.

Investigators don’t believe the gunman, identified as 20-year-old Richard Shoop, intended to shoot anyone when he began firing at the ceiling and elsewhere at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, about 15 miles northwest of New York City, shortly before the mall’s closed Monday night. There were no other injuries.

“We think he went in with the intent that he was not going to come out alive,” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.

News of Shoop’s suicide stunned friends and relatives. As recently as last week, Shoop had spoken about a potential new job and seemed especially happy about it, according to a woman who said she had known him since they were little.

“He told me that he was going to get a new job at this TV place and he was going to make good money,” Madison Barbarini said. “He told me that he was doing really well and it seemed like he was really happy. Things just don’t add up. Why would he do this? It doesn’t make sense.”

Zapruder film: Pre-smartphone, movie of JFK shooting became unique record, crucial evidence

If anything of consequence occurs in this era of smartphones and multi-G wireless networks, a horde of “citizen journalists” will doubtless be on hand to capture and broadcast the sights and sounds. But of hundreds of witnesses in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963, only a handful managed to record the biggest news story of a generation: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And of the documents they produced, only one stands out: the Zapruder film.

It’s not much: About 6 feet of narrow, cellulose material, containing fewer than 500 grainy images and running just 26 seconds long. And yet the home movie that clothier Abraham Zapruder shot with his Bell & Howell camera may be the single most important piece of evidence in perhaps the most argued-about crime in the nation’s history.

Zapruder was in a unique position to capture the events that day a half-century ago.

Standing on a 4-foot-high concrete pedestal, his receptionist bracing him from behind, the 58-year-old Russian immigrant followed the progress of JFK’s Lincoln limousine as it rolled toward him down Elm Street. He thought the popping noises he heard were part of some joke, he later told the Warren Commission, and “then I saw his head opened up.”

After decades of pushing American fine dining to its limits, chef Charlie Trotter dies at 54

CHICAGO (AP) — With a culinary style he likened to improvisational jazz, Charlie Trotter changed the way Americans view fine dining, pushing himself, his staff, his food and even his diners to limits rarely seen in an American restaurant. Yet it was his reluctance to move beyond those limits that may have defined the last years of his life.

Trotter, 54, died Tuesday, a year after closing his namesake Chicago restaurant that was credited with putting his city at the vanguard of the food world and training dozens of the nation’s top chefs, including Grant Achatz and Graham Elliot.

Paramedics were called around 10 a.m. to Trotter’s Lincoln Park home, where they found him unresponsive. An ambulance crew transported Trotter to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was declared dead after unsuccessful attempts to revive him, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said. An autopsy was planned for Wednesday.

Trotter was hospitalized in New York City this summer after having a seizure, close family friend and early Trotter mentor Norman Van Aken said Tuesday. Van Aken said he didn’t know what caused the seizure.

For decades, Trotter’s name was synonymous with cutting-edge cuisine. He earned 10 James Beard Awards, wrote 10 cookbooks and in 1999 hosted his own public television series, “The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter.”