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Unemployment benefits bill clears hurdle
Written by DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 16:03

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House-backed legislation to renew jobless benefits unexpectedly cleared an initial Senate hurdle on Tuesday, raising the prospect of a mid-winter compromise to ease the impact of the recession on the long-term unemployed.

"Let's get it done," President Barack Obama exhorted lawmakers at the White House shortly after the vote.

The vote was 60-37 to limit debate on the three-month legislation, with a half-dozen Republicans siding with the Democrats on the test vote.

At the same time, the Republican leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said he and his rank and file would seek changes so the bill's $6.4 billion cost would not add to deficits.

Senate Democrats have so far rejected that approach, although there were signs they would eventually yield.

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Travelers spend night on three snowbound Amtrak trains
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 11:25

CHICAGO (AP) — Hundreds of Amtrak passengers who spent the night onboard three trains stranded in snow in northern Illinois have begun to arrive in Chicago, rail line officials said Tuesday morning.

About 300 passengers on two trains that were stuck near Mendota, about 80 miles from Chicago, boarded buses in Princeton for the final leg of their trip, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. They began arriving in downtown Chicago around 7 a.m. Tuesday and more were expected to arrive throughout the morning.

A third train loaded with 217 people spent the night at a BNSF rail yard in Galesburg; they were taking buses for the final 150 miles to Chicago.

The trains — The Southwest Chief from Los Angeles, the Illinois Zephyr from Quincy and the California Zephyr from the San Francisco Bay area — got stuck after 3 p.m. Monday in blowing, drifting snow and ice that Magliari said made the tracks impassable.

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"Rudolph" voice actor Larry D. Mann dies at 91
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 07:19

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Larry D. Mann, who voiced Yukon Cornelius in the animated Christmas favorite "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," has died. He was 91.

His son, Richard Mann, says the actor died of age-related causes on Monday in Los Angeles.

Beginning in the 1950s, the Canadian-born Mann had small roles in movies, including "The Sting" and "In the Heat of the Night."

On TV, his appearances included "Gunsmoke," ''Bewitched" and Hill Street Blues."

He also did voice work for animated shows, including 1964's "Rudolph."

His son says Mann's last role before retirement was playing a talent agent in the 1991 TV show "Homefront."


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

 
Six educators plead guilty in Atlanta test cheating scandal
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 07:28

ATLANTA (AP) — Six more indicted Atlanta Public Schools educators have pleaded guilty to their involvement in a standardized test-cheating conspiracy.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/1lKRehv) reported Monday that former Parks Middle School teacher, Starlette Mitchell, admitted to changing incorrect answers on tests between 2007 and 2009.

Former Venetian Hills Elementary principal, Clarietta Davis, pleaded guilty to making false statements.

Ex-Parks Middle School teacher Kimberly Oden pleaded guilty to obstruction.

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FBI: Voices drove man accused of San Francisco consulate fire
Written by SCOTT SMITH, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 07:12

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After turning himself into police, a Chinese national told federal authorities that he started a blaze at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco because he was hearing voices.

Yan Feng, 39, of Daly City, said he unsuccessfully tried to use his passport to ignite gasoline he had poured on the consulate's door and steps on New Year's Eve, according to an FBI affidavit.

No one was hurt in the fire that charred a doorway and damaged the lobby of the building.

FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson said Monday that Feng was arrested at his home Friday after he called police in Daly City, a San Francisco suburb.

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