AP News


Vodka to blame for high death risk in Russian men PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARIA CHENG, AP Medical Writer   
Friday, 31 January 2014 07:26

LONDON (AP) — Russian men who down large amounts of vodka — and too many do — have an "extraordinarily" high risk of an early death, a new study says.

Researchers tracked about 151,000 adult men in the Russian cities of Barnaul, Byisk and Tomsk from 1999 to 2010. They interviewed them about their drinking habits and, when about 8,000 later died, followed up to monitor their causes of death.

The risk of dying before age 55 for those who said they drank three or more half-liter bottles of vodka a week was a shocking 35 percent.

Overall, a quarter of Russian men die before reaching 55, compared with 7 percent of men in the United Kingdom and less than 1 percent in the United States. The life expectancy for men in Russia is 64 years — placing it among the lowest 50 countries in the world in that category.

It's not clear how many Russian men drink three bottles or more a week. Lead researcher Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University said the average Russian adult drinks 20 liters of vodka per year while the average Briton drinks about three liters of spirits.

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Senate passes bill to delay flood insurance hikes PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 31 January 2014 07:19

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of homeowners in coastal and flood-prone areas would win protection from sharply higher federal flood insurance premiums under legislation muscled through the Senate on Thursday after angry constituents inundated Capitol Hill with complaints.

The 67-32 vote reflects widespread alarm about changes enacted two years ago to shore up the program's finances. In many cases the changes produced unexpected, sky-high insurance rates that are unaffordable for many homeowners in flood-prone areas whose insurance has historically been subsidized by the government and other policyholders.

"Something is just terribly wrong when homeowners are more worried about raging flood premiums than they are about raging floods," said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

The bill would delay for up to four years huge premium increases that are supposed to phase in next year and beyond under new and updated government flood maps. It also would allow homeowners to pass below-cost policies on to people who buy their homes. People who have recently bought homes and face sharp, immediate jumps in their premiums would see those increases rolled back.

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Family fight: GOP debates next move on immigration PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 31 January 2014 07:05

CAMBRIDGE, Md. (AP) — House Republicans wrestled inconclusively with the outlines of immigration legislation Thursday night, sharply divided over the contentious issue itself and the political wisdom of acting on it in an election year.

At a three-day retreat on the frozen banks of the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern Shore, GOP leaders circulated an outline that would guide the drafting of any House Republican legislation on the subject — a document that Speaker John Boehner told the rank and file was as far as the party was willing to go.

It includes a proposed pathway to legal status for millions of adults who live in the U.S. unlawfully — after they pay back taxes and fines — but not the special route to citizenship that President Barack Obama and many Democrats favor.

Many younger Americans brought to the country illegally by their parents would be eligible for citizenship.

"For those who meet certain eligibility standards, and serve honorably in our military or attain a college degrees, we will do just that," the statement said.

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Utah school district apologizes after taking student lunches PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 31 January 2014 07:02

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Erica Lukes and other Utah parents were outraged when their children had their deep dish pizzas and other food taken and thrown away at their elementary school after a cashier said they owed money on their lunch accounts.

Lukes said taking the $2 meals from about 30 students was "humiliating and demoralizing."

"People are upset, obviously, by the way this has been handled because it's really needless and quite mean," she said. "Regardless if it's $2, $5, you don't go about rectifying a situation with a balance by having a child go through that."

The Salt Lake City School District apologized on Thursday and said it was investigating what happened at Uintah (Yoo-IN-tah) Elementary and working to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"This was a mistake," district spokesman Jason Olsen said. "There shouldn't have been food taken away from these students once they went through that line."

The students whose lunches were thrown out were given milk and fruit, a standard practice when students don't have lunch money.

The school is located in a middle-class neighborhood, and the district qualifies for federal reimbursement on lunches when students select certain offerings that are within nutritional guidelines.

Olsen said officials started notifying parents on Monday that many children were behind on the lunch payments. It appears one district employee decided to start taking lunches the next day, he said, even though district policy requires that parents be given time to respond to account shortfalls.

Lukes said she was never notified about an outstanding balance and later called a school cafeteria worker who said her 11-year-old daughter's account wasn't overdue and a mistake had been made when her meal was taken.

Her daughter reported children were upset and confused and some shared food with each other.

Olsen said school employees were upset by the situation and the district was getting angry messages from around the country.

He said the school principal has set up an account to cover lunch for students without money in their accounts, and other principals are taking steps to ensure that no more lunches are seized.

Two Utah lawmakers held a news conference outside the school saying they were outraged and wanted to call attention to the policy.

State Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said the district made a "grievous mistake" that was indefensible.

"To me, this rises to the level of bullying," he said. "These children were humiliated in their own school, in front of their classmates."

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, said the incident is a symptom of broader school funding issues.

"We just plain need more money to feed our school children," he said. "There should not be a hungry child in this state."

If the district does not address the problem, lawmakers will look at whether state policies need to change, the senators said.

After their news conference, the two senators met with school officials and talked to students over lunch of rotini with meatballs. Reporters were not allowed inside the school.

Lukes said she is speaking to other parents to see what they can do.

"I think at the very least," she said, "somebody should lose their lunch privileges."


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Amanda Knox's murder conviction reinstated PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by COLLEEN BARRY, Associated Press   
Friday, 31 January 2014 06:57

FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — More than two years after Amanda Knox returned to the U.S. apparently home free, an Italian court Thursday reinstated her murder conviction in the stabbing of her roommate and increased her sentence to 28½ years in prison, raising the specter of a long extradition fight.

Knox, 26, received word in her hometown of Seattle. The former American exchange student said she was "frightened and saddened by the unjust verdict" and blamed "overzealous and intransigent prosecution," ''narrow-minded investigation" and coercive interrogation techniques.

"This has gotten out of hand," Knox said in a statement. "Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system."

Lawyers for Knox and her 29-year-old ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, who was also found guilty, vowed to appeal to Italy's highest court, a process that will take at least a year and drag out a seesaw legal battle that has fascinated court-watchers on both sides of the Atlantic and led to lurid tabloid headlines about "Foxy Knoxy" and her sex life.

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