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Last-minute insurance shoppers given grace period
Written by CARLA K. JOHNSON, AP Medical Writer   
Monday, 23 December 2013 14:44

CHICAGO (AP) — Monday's deadline for signing up for insurance under the new health care law has effectively been extended through Tuesday in case of heavy demand on the government website.

Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the federal agency overseeing the Obama administration's health overhaul, says the grace period is being offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to deal with potential technical problems that could result from a last-minute rush of applicants.

Monday was the deadline for Americans who wanted coverage that started on Jan. 1.

The federal HealthCare.gov system serves 36 states. Some other states have also extended enrollment deadlines slightly.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Judge allows gay marriage in Utah to continue
Written by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press PAUL FOY, Associated Press   
Monday, 23 December 2013 14:25

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal judge said Monday he will allow gay marriage in Utah to continue, denying a request from the state to halt same-sex weddings until the appeals process plays out.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby's decision came three days after he overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, ruling it is unconstitutional. Utah lawyers are expected to ask a higher court to put the process on hold.

The county clerk in Salt Lake City immediately began issuing licenses after Shelby's ruling Friday, and hundreds more gay couples were lined up Monday to get married.

The ruling has drawn attention given Utah's long-standing opposition to gay marriage and its position as headquarters for the Mormon church.

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Four mountain bikers missing in California mountains
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 23 December 2013 12:04

ALTADENA, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles County authorities are searching for four mountain bikers who went missing over the weekend in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The men began their ride Sunday morning near Mount Wilson in the Angeles National Forest but failed to return in the afternoon as planned. Family members found their cars at a parking area popular with cyclists.

Sheriff's Sgt. David Shoemaker tells City News Service that the four — cousins between the ages of 28 and 38 — had no phone contact and weren't dressed for a cold night. Temperatures dropped into the 40s overnight.

An overnight ground and air search for the men was halted at around 4 a.m. Monday but authorities planned to resume it at daylight.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Ringing the bells of Bethlehem a fading tradition
Written by MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH, Associated Press   
Monday, 23 December 2013 12:12

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — A Palestinian college student is one of the last keepers of a fading tradition — ringing the bells of Bethlehem.

Twice a week, Khadir Jaraiseh climbs to the roof of the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. He pulls the ropes of four bells in a rooftop tower for a total of 33 times to symbolize the number of years Jesus was believed to have lived.

Jaraiseh rings the bells for prayer services of the Armenian Apostolic Church, one of three denominations that administer the basilica, one of Christianity's holiest shrines. The Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox denominations at the Nativity church — each of which has its own set of bells — have switched to automatic bell-ringing.

But there's something special about the traditional approach, said Jaraiseh, who uses both hands and a floor pedal to pull the ropes.

"I feel like I'm making music and talking to God," said the 22-year-old, who has worked at the church for four years and is studying to become a tourist guide. "There is nothing better than working in the place of Jesus' birth."

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Apollo 8 astronaut to mark 1968 broadcast to earth
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 23 December 2013 07:09

CHICAGO (AP) — An Apollo 8 astronaut who was among the first to orbit the moon is set to help re-enact the 1968 Christmastime broadcast from space

Millions tuned in on Dec. 24, 1968, when Commander Frank Borman, Bill Anders and James Lovell took turns reading from the Book of Genesis as the Apollo 8 orbited the moon.

Lovell is expected to attend Monday's event at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, where the original Apollo 8 Command Module is.

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