AP News in Brief

AP News
Posted: Nov 17, 2009 6:19 PM

AP sources: Senate health care bill likely to include new insurance program for long-term care

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Senate health care legislation expected this week is likely to include a new long-term care insurance program to help the elderly and the disabled avoid going into nursing homes, Democratic officials say.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to incorporate the voluntary program in legislation to be unveiled as early as Wednesday, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a final decision has not been made.

Known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, or CLASS Act, the program was a top priority for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. It would begin to close a gap in the social safety net that's received little attention in the health care debate.

Fiscal conservatives and government economists have questioned whether the program would be financially sustainable over the long run, and insurance companies are lobbying to strip it from the health care bill.

Nonetheless, the House included the program in its health care legislation, with the approval of the Obama administration. In the Senate, the Health Committee bill had included it, but the Finance Committee omitted it. The approach Reid is considering in a combined bill would address the objections of fiscal conservatives by stipulating that premiums from the program could not be counted in offsetting the cost of the broader health care bill. Reid's office had no comment on Tuesday.


Military to probe missed warning signs before Fort Hood massacre, hoping to prevent more

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Worried that the Army may have missed red flags about the alleged shooter in the Fort Hood massacre, the Pentagon will likely launch an inquiry into how all the military services keep watch on other volatile soldiers hidden in their ranks, officials said Tuesday.

The probe, still in the planning stages, would be a broad examination ranging beyond the specific case of Army psychiatrist Dr. Nidal Malik Hasan, officials said. The inquiry, they said, could look at personnel policies and the availability of mental health services for troubled troops.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants a unified probe that goes beyond the Army, but has not decided how far-reaching the inquiry would be or who would lead it, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Tuesday.

"There are issues that need to be looked at department-wide, and the focus at this point is trying to figure out some of these questions," Morrell said.

The Army's No. 2 officer bluntly said Tuesday that officials fear more people like Hasan may be undetected inside the armed forces.


Obama, China's Hu pledge joint action for broad climate deal at Copenhagen conference

BEIJING (AP) _ President Barack Obama, with China's leader at his side, lifted his sights Tuesday for a broad accord at next month's climate conference that he said will lead to immediate action and "rally the world" toward a solution on global warming.

Obama and President Hu Jintao talked of a joint desire to tackle climate change, but failed to publicly address the root problems that could unravel a deal at the 192-nation conference in Copenhagen: how much each country can contribute to curb greenhouse gases and how the world will pay the billions of dollars needed to fight rising temperatures.

Hu said nations would do their part "consistent with our respective capabilities," a reference to the now widely accepted view that developing nations _ even energy guzzlers like China, India and Brazil _ should be required only to set goals for reining in greenhouse-gas emissions, not accept absolute targets for reducing emissions like the industrialized countries.

Nonetheless, the symbolism of the world's two largest polluters pledging no half-measures in an agreement during the Dec. 7-18 conference took the sting out of the admission by Obama and other leaders over the weekend that Copenhagen would be only a way station rather than the endpoint envisioned two years ago when negotiations for a new climate treaty began.

Obama administration officials acknowledge that the Copenhagen talks are not expected to produce a final legal agreement, putting that off until next year. The administration sought to make clear Tuesday that Obama expects the talks to produce something more than "an agreement to have an agreement" at a future date.


Moussaoui trial, the first in US over 9/11, surprised everyone, confounded predictions

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ Zacarias Moussaoui was a clown who could not keep his mouth shut, according to his old al-Qaida boss, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. But Moussaoui was surprisingly tame when tried for the 9/11 attacks _ never turning the courtroom into the circus of anti-U.S. tirades that some fear Mohammed will create at his trial in New York.

And that wasn't the only surprise during Moussaoui's six-week 2006 sentencing trial here _ a proceeding that might foreshadow how the upcoming 9/11 trial in New York will go.

Skeptics who feared prosecutors would be hamstrung by how much evidence was secret were stunned at the enormous amount of classified data that was scrubbed, under pressure from the judge, into a public version acceptable to both sides.

Prosecutors were surprised when they failed to get the death penalty _ by the vote of one juror.

No one was more surprised than Moussaoui himself: At the end he concluded an al-Qaida member like him could get a fair trial in a U.S. court.


Warrant claims Missouri family accused of sex abuse may have also killed several people

LEXINGTON, Mo. (AP) _ Prosecutors in western Missouri filed 15 additional sex charges against a family already accused of sexually abusing children as a newly released search warrant claims some of the suspects forced their victims to help kill and bury a man in 1988.

The new rape and sodomy charges stem from 1984 to 1989 and accuse Burrell E. Mohler Sr., 77, of Independence, of rape, sodomy and use of a child in a sexual performance. His four sons, Jared Leroy Mohler, 48, of Columbia; Roland Neil Mohler, 47, of Bates City; and David A. Mohler, 52, of Lamoni, Iowa, were charged with rape.

The original complaint, which has allegations that date from 1988 to 1995, includes charges of forcible sodomy, rape with a child younger than 12 and use of a child in a sexual performance.

During a brief court appearance Tuesday, four of the five men said they were still working to find attorneys. Only Jared Leroy Mohler said he had hired a lawyer.

No additional charges were filed against the sixth person accused in the case, Darrel W. Mohler, 72, who is being held in Marion County, Fla. on two counts of rape stemming from 1986. He waived extradition Tuesday, but it was unclear when he would come to Missouri.


Woman pleads guilty, asks forgiveness of Elizabeth Smart in 2002 abduction

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Seven years after she was abducted at knifepoint, Elizabeth Smart finally has an apology _ and a guilty plea _ from one of her kidnappers.

"I am so sorry, Elizabeth, for all the pain and suffering I have caused you and your family," Wanda Eileen Barzee, 64, said Tuesday. "It is my hope that you will be able to find it in your heart to forgive me."

The appeal came minutes after Barzee pleaded guilty to federal charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor in U.S. District Court.

She also said she was "humbled as I realize how much Elizabeth Smart has been victimized and the role that I played in it."

Smart, now 22 and preparing to serve a mission in Paris for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was not in court to hear the apology. But her father, Ed Smart, said outside court that forgiveness was possible.


No fast-food phenom: Ancient Egyptian mummies show signs of heart disease, scientists say

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ You can't blame this one on McDonald's: Researchers have found signs of heart disease in 3,500-year-old mummies.

"We think of it as being caused by modern risk factors," such as fast food, smoking and a lack of exercise, but the findings show that these aren't the only reasons arteries clog, said Dr. Randall Thompson, a cardiologist at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City.

He and several other researchers used CT scans, a type of X-ray, on 22 mummies kept in the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo. The subjects were from 1981 B.C. to 334 A.D. Half were thought to be over 45 when they died, and average lifespan was under 50 back then.

Sixteen mummies had heart and blood vessel tissue to analyze. Definite or probable hardening of the arteries was seen in nine.

"We were struck by the similar appearance of vascular calcification in the mummies and our present-day patients," said another researcher, Dr. Michael Miyamoto of the University of California at San Diego. "Perhaps the development of atherosclerosis is a part of being human."


October dip in factory production signals bumpy road for recovery; wholesale inflation muted

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A decline in factory production in October signals that consumers and businesses remain cautious in their spending, with the economic recovery likely to be sluggish.

At the same time, the weak economy is taming inflation. Wholesale prices rose less than expected last month, giving the Federal Reserve more leeway to keep interest rates low to try to spur a stronger economic rebound.

Industrial production edged up 0.1 percent last month, the Fed reported Tuesday. It was the poorest showing since output fell 0.4 percent in June. Since then, industrial output had posted strong gains, helped by a rebound in auto production.

But auto output slipped 1.7 percent last month. That helped drag down total factory output, the biggest portion of industrial production.

Analysts say industrial production should post modest gains in coming months, consistent with their view that the economy has begun to recover from the worst recession since the 1930s. But they cautioned that the rebound in manufacturing, just as in other sectors of the economy, will be slow and halting.


Sarah Palin says a 2012 run is 'not on my radar,' but keeps door open for a potential role

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sarah Palin said in an interview broadcast Tuesday that a 2012 presidential bid is "not on my radar," but wouldn't rule out playing some role in the next presidential election.

"My ambition, if you will, my desire is to help our country in whatever role that may be, and I cannot predict what that will be, what doors will be open in the year 2012," she told Barbara Walters.

When asked whether she'd play a major role, the former Republican vice presidential candidate replied that "if people will have me, I will."

Palin is making the rounds to promote her new book, "Going Rogue," which came out Tuesday. On Monday, she appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Palin said she's gotten plenty of offers during the past few months, including to open up her family for a reality show, that she has rejected. She also said she wasn't sure whether a talk show would be best for her family.


Shy Zack Greinke wins AL Cy Young Award but uncomfortable with attention

NEW YORK (AP) _ When the phone rang, Zack Greinke let it go _ he didn't recognize the number. Only after listening to the voice mail did he call back and find out he'd won the American League Cy Young Award.

The Kansas City Royals ace easily beat out Felix Hernandez for the honor Tuesday after a spectacular season short on wins but long on domination. Winning left the extremely shy Greinke with mixed emotions.

"Back in Orlando, I haven't really got a whole lot of attention from people, which has been nice," he said. "So I hope it doesn't get that way, where everyone is like, `Oh, hey, Zack, hi.'"

He'd prefer to remain anonymous when he's not on the mound. He's not looking forward to being introduced at banquets as "Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke" for the rest of his life.

"In that way, it's kind of like a negative for me," he said.