Page One Daily News - December , 2013
U.S. begins multiple-entry visa program for Cubans
The United States announced a new policy Wednesday for Cuban visitors to the United States that will make non-immigrant visas valid for five years instead of the current six months, and good for multiple entries.
Now, eligible Cubans will be able to visit South Florida — or anywhere in the United States — for the holidays, return for a family wedding or come to tend to a sick relative without applying in person for a new visa each time. Cubans who want to remain in the United States have the option of applying for asylum and becoming permanent residents a year later under the Cuban Adjustment Act. The new policy also is expected to reduce the workload at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which handles U.S. affairs in Cuba.
Majority of Americans favor restricting abortion at 20 weeks
By a margin of 56 to 27 percent, more Americans say they’d prefer to impose limits on abortions after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than the 24-week mark established under current law, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Another 10 percent surveyed in the poll volunteered they would prefer to outlaw abortion in the United States altogether or limit it earlier than 20 weeks after fertilization. At the same time, however, 54 percent say they oppose state laws that make it more difficult for abortion clinics to operate; compared to 45 percent who support such legislation. Regardless of their popular support, some of these new limits on abortion will face stiff legal challenges. In at least three instances — in Arizona, Georgia and Idaho — federal and state judges have struck down as unconstitutional abortion bans at 20 weeks after fertilization
Metro workers get 11.4 percent pay raise
Metro’s board of directors approved a new four-year contract Thursday that includes an 11.4 percent pay increase over several years.
The new contract, effective July 1, 2012, calls for an 11 .4 percent pay raise over three years, starting this year. There is no pay raise retroactively for 2012. The contact also calls for employees to pay into their pensions, which are now fully funded by the transit agency. Employees will receive a 3 percent raise in 2013, a 4 percent raise in 2014 and another 4 percent raise in 2015. Workers will begin paying into their pensions at a rate of 1 percent and 3 percent of their pay, starting in 2014 and 2015, respectively. It is the first time in 30 years that employees will pay into their pensions, Metro officials said.
Department of Defense Furloughs ready to begin Monday
Furloughs for Department of Defense civilians begin Monday, a measure that amounts to a 20 percent cut in pay for hundreds of thousands of defense workers.
It will take place over the next three months and will disrupt operations at installations around the country, Pentagon officials warn. While many federal agencies have avoided furloughs, the Defense Department decided it could not meet the mandated cuts without them. The furloughs are estimated to save the Defense Department $1.8 billion, according to officials. Furloughed workers are prohibited from performing any work-related assignments while away from their job positions . Most furloughed employees face one day without pay for each week through the end of September. “Employees may request a specific furlough schedule; however, the department’s approach has generally been one day a week, two days per pay period not to exceed a total of 88 hours,” said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Defense Department spokeswoman.
Guantánamo prison adapts force feeding to Ramadan fast
The medical staff at Guantánamo will only feed hunger strikers after sunset and before dawn, during the Ramadan fast month a prison spokesman said Tuesday.
Navy Capt. Robert Durand said that the detention center had for years only fed Ramadan-observing detainees at night during Islam’s holy month, and this year would be no different — even with the majority of captives on hunger strike.Troops adjust their captives’ feeding schedules to after dark for those observing the fast, said Durand, and will still offer meals during the day for those who don’t fast. The prison has already “laid in supplies of lamb, dates and honey and zamzamwater” — water from a well in Mecca, said Durand.
Former Tiffany exec accused of stealing more than $1.3 in Jewlery
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun a former executive with Tiffany & Co. stole a little blue box bounty from the jeweler’s midtown Manhattan headquarters and resold it for more than $1.3 million, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Lederhaas-Okun was arrested Tuesday and she was to appear in the federal court in Manhattan to face charges of interstate transportation of stolen property and fraud. Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun was arrested Tuesday and she was to appear later in the day in federal court in Manhattan to face charges of wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property. As vice president of product development, Lederhaas-Okun had authority to “check out” jewelry from Tiffany to provide to potential manufacturers to determine production costs. According to a criminal complaint after the she left Tiffany in February, the company discovered she had checked out 164 items that were never returned. But an investigation found that Lederhaas-Okun resold the goods to an unidentified international dealer for more than $1.3 million, it said. If convicted, Lederhaas-Okun faces up to 20 years in prison.
Radical Arizona wildfire kills 19 firefighters
A wildfire in a forest northwest of Phoenix, killed 19 members of an elite fire crew. It is the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years.
The fire also destroyed an estimated 200 homes in the town of Yarnell in central Arizona, said Art Morrison, state forestry spokesman said. Most of the 700 residents of Yarnell had to evacuate. No injuries or deaths were reported. The National Fire Protection Association had previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., which killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.
American college student killed in Egyptian protests
An American was killed in Alexandria during the protests Friday, news services reported.
“We can confirm that a U.S. citizen was killed in Alexandria, Egypt,” said a State Department spokesman, who said appropriate consular assistance was being provided to his family. A family spokeswoman identified the American as Andrew Driscoll Pochter, 21, a college student from Maryland. An unidentified medical source told the Associated Press that the man had been shot; local media reported that the man was stabbed while taking pictures of the clashes with his mobile phone. The U.S. State Department confirmed the American’s death.
The financial impact of gay marriage in California
The Supreme Court has decided on two cases involving gay marriage: California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
. In addition to restoring same-sex marriage in California, the decisions will eventually allow same-sex couples in states where they're legally allowed to marry to apply for retirement, survivor and other benefits as married couples. They'll also be able to benefit from hundreds of other federal programs that have been, until now, reserved for heterosexual married couples under the Defense of Marriage Act's definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
Obama takes on power plants in new climate plan
President Barack Obama promised on Tuesday new rules to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants
Obama signaled he would block construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada if it contributed to climate change and other domestic actions including support for renewable energy. Obama's long-awaited climate plan, detailed in a speech at Georgetown University, drew criticism from the coal industry, which would be hit hard by carbon limits, and Republicans, who accused the Democratic president of advancing policies that harm the economy and kill jobs. Environmentalists largely cheered the proposals, though some said the moves did not go far enough.