Friday, November 8, 2013
Obama says he's sorry Americans losing insurance
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says he's sorry Americans are losing health insurance plans he said they could keep.
Obama is apologizing to Americans who have found themselves in that situation based on assurances they got from him. He tells NBC News that the administration will do everything it can to help people who are in a difficult situation because of the cancellations.
Obama for years told Americans that under his health care law, if they liked their health insurance, they would be able to keep it.
But millions are receiving cancellation notices in the mail. The White House in recent days has clarified that people can keep their plans as long as insurance companies haven't changed the plans since the law was enacted.
Obama: I wouldn't have run again without Biden
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says if advisers had suggested to him replacing Vice President Joe Biden, he would have told them there's no way he's running for re-election without Biden.
The book "Double Down — Game Change 2012" claims high-ranking Obama aides considered replacing Biden with Hillary Rodham Clinton on the 2012 ticket. The White House has said the campaign did poll to see if replacing Biden would help but that it never reached Obama's desk.
Obama tells NBC News that choosing Biden as vice president was one of his best decisions. He says he wouldn't be here without Biden's support. He's praising Biden as one of the best vice presidents in history.
Obama says Biden is his friend and one of his most important advisers on foreign and domestic policy.
Senate OKs gay rights bill banning discrimination
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has approved a bill outlawing workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
The vote reflected the nation's rapidly evolving attitude toward gay rights nearly two decades after Congress rejected same-sex marriage. The final tally was 64-32.
Despite the bipartisan vote, the measure's chances in the House are dim. Speaker John Boehner calls the shots, and he opposes the bill.
Gay rights advocates hailed Senate passage as a major victory in a year of significant change.
The Supreme Court in June affirmed gay marriage and granted federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to legalize gay marriage along with the District of Columbia.
AP sources: Kerry to join Iran nuclear talks
GENEVA (AP) — Officials say U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will fly to Geneva on Friday to participate in nuclear negotiations with Iran and other major powers.
The officials say Kerry will travel to the talks after a brief stop in Israel, where he will hold a third meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel's intense interest in Iran's nuclear ambitions is a likely topic between Netanyahu and Kerry as well as Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Iran's plan to cap some of the country's atomic activities in exchange for selective relief from crippling economic sanctions has been accepted by six world powers, the country's chief nuclear negotiator said Thursday.
Kerry's last-minute decision to join the talks suggests a deal could be imminent.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Kerry has not been formally invited by the Europeans to join the talks.
NEW: Councilwoman Hodges elected mayor of Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Betsy Hodges, a Democratic member of the Minneapolis City Council, has been elected as the mayor of Minnesota's largest city.
Hodges emerged as the winner Thursday night. She received the most votes of the 35 candidates but fell shy of an outright majority.
Minneapolis uses ranked-choice voting, which lets people make up to three choices of candidates on their ballots.
The 44-year-old Hodges has served on the council since 2006. She has chaired its influential budget committee since 2010, where she has been an ally of Mayor R.T. Rybak. She did split from Rybak by voting against city funding for the Minnesota Vikings stadium.
Rybak decided against seeking a fourth term. While he praised Hodges and several other candidates, Rybak stayed neutral.
WRESTLING MAT DEATH
School gym video doesn't satisfy Ga. teen's family
VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) — The parents of a Georgia teenager found dead at school inside a rolled-up gym mat still have unanswered questions after officials released hours of surveillance camera footage in the case.
The body of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson of Valdosta was found Jan. 11, and sheriff's investigators concluded he died in a freak accident. Johnson's parents insist someone must have killed him.
At a news conference Thursday, Johnson family attorney Chevene King Jr. said a lack of time codes and blurry footage from the gym where Johnson was found dead make him question the credibility of the surveillance footage released this week.
Jim Elliott, the attorney for the Lowndes County sheriff, has said surveillance cameras at the school did not capture the circumstances that led to Johnson's death.
BUS PASSENGER ON FIRE
Teen charged as adult in Calif. bus passenger fire
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A 16-year-old Northern California boy has been charged as an adult with assault and aggravated mayhem after police say he set another teen on fire on a public bus.
Alameda County prosecutors charged Richard Thomas, of Oakland, on Thursday in Monday's attack on 18-year-old Luke "Sasha" Fleischman.
District Attorney Nancy O'Malley says her office is charging both offenses as hate crimes, but she did not indicate why.
Oakland police say Fleischman was asleep on an AC Transit bus and wearing a kilt-like skirt when another passenger set the garment ablaze.
The young man's mother and friends say Fleischman identified as "genderqueer," a designation sometimes adopted by individuals who see themselves as neither male nor female.
Thomas didn't enter a plea during his arraignment Thursday. He's due back in court Nov. 12.
Top Catholic bishop presses House on immigration
WASHINGTON (AP) — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling on the House to act on immigration legislation before the end of the year.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner on Thursday saying passage of an immigration bill is a matter of "great moral urgency" that can no longer wait. Dolan said reports of delays in the House were troubling.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill in June, but legislation remains stalled in the House.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said the Speaker supports a step-by-step process to fix the broken immigration system.
Strongest typhoon of the year slams Philippines
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The world's strongest typhoon of the year has slammed into the Philippines.
One weather expert says Typhoon Haiyan was set to be the strongest any tropical cyclone has ever been when it made landfall.
The U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii shortly before landfall said the storm's maximum sustained winds were 314 kilometers per hour (195 mph), with gusts up to 379 kilometers per hour (235 mph).
Thousands of people have evacuated villages in its path.
U.S.-based expert Jeff Masters says, "There will be catastrophic damage."
Party in NC to mark Billy Graham's 95th birthday
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Hundreds of people have joined the Rev. Billy Graham to celebrate his 95th birthday.
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was among the people who attended Thursday's party in Asheville.
The event began with the debut of a new video of Billy Graham from his home as part of a nationwide religious outreach called "My Hope."
The video features clips of Graham filmed this year at his home in Montreat. Also included are audio excerpts of his early days, when he took his crusades around the nation and the world.
The elder Graham is at the party, but he is not expected to give a speech. He has been hospitalized for a number of health-related issues in the past few years and now uses a wheelchair.