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US News: Budget, Healthcare Battle Continues; Tropical Depression Forms in Central Atlantic

By: ap
By: ap
White House: Obama will veto House shutdown bill... Hagel calls govt shutdown threat `shortsighted

Storm clouds hang over Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, as the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate stand at an impasse with Congress continuing to struggle over how to fund the government and prevent a possible shutdown. The Democratic-led Senate was ready Friday to approve legislation to keep the U.S. government running, but disputes with the Republican-run lower chamber of Congress ensured that the battle would continue through the weekend, as a potential shutdown hurtles closer. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

BUDGET BATTLE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says President Barack Obama would veto House Republican legislation that would avert a partial government shutdown but delay much his health care overhaul for a year and cancel a tax on medical devices which helps finance it.
The House passed the bill early Sunday. Even before the vote, Senate Democrats said it was going nowhere.
The Democratic-run Senate has approved legislation preventing the shutdown but leaving the health care overhaul alone. That 2010 law has been Obama's proudest domestic achievement.
The White House says the House bill, which it calls reckless and irresponsible, would advance a narrow ideological agenda and threaten the economy. It says the bill pushes the government toward a shutdown.

HAGEL
ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (AP) -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is criticizing Congress as "astoundingly irresponsible," and says that using threats to shut down the government to satisfy a political whim is dangerously shortsighted.
Hagel oversees as many as half of the government civilians who would be furloughed next week if Congress fails to agree on a short-term spending plan to keep the government running. Roughly 400,000 Defense Department civilians could face furloughs.
The defense secretary tells reporters that the impasse threatens to delay paychecks to troops serving in Afghanistan. He also warns that such actions will lead to the United States of America becoming a country that's "ungovernable."
Hagel made the comments Saturday while flying to South Korea for meetings with top defense and diplomatic leaders from South Korea and Japan.

NSA SURVEILLANCE-SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The New York Times is reporting that for almost three years the National Security Agency has been tapping the data it collects to map out some Americans' social connections.
The newspaper reports that tracking those social connections allows the government to identify some Americans' associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information.
The Times cites documents provided by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden.
In a story posted Saturday on its website, the Times reports that the NSA began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 after officials at the spy agency lifted restrictions on the practice. The paper says the purpose has been to examine some Americans' networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes.

CONGRESS-COMPOUNDING PHARMACIES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House has approved legislation aimed at improving the safety of drugs made by compounding pharmacies, which mix customized medicines.
The measure is a response to a meningitis outbreak last year that killed 64 people and sickened hundreds more. It was traced to a compounding company in Massachusetts that has since closed.
The House approved the legislation by voice vote on Saturday as lawmakers held a weekend session to focus on their budget and health care dispute with President Barack Obama.
It was hailed by lawmakers from both parties. Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro criticized it because it would let companies register voluntarily with the Food and Drug Administration.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco Police are investigating the robbery of a television reporter in which a security guard fired shots at the assailants.
Police say that incident occurred about 8 p.m. Friday in a high-crime neighborhood of the city. Police say that a person walked into San Francisco General Hospital a short-time later with gunshot wounds. They are investigating whether there's a connection to the robbery.
KRON4 reported on its Web site that reporter Jeff Bush handed over his equipment after he and the station's security guard were accosted by two armed men. Bush then took cover and the security guard opened fired on the two men. Bush and the security guard were unharmed.
The holdup is the latest in a series of robberies of San Francisco Bay Area news crews.

HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) -- A New Hampshire woman charged with plowing her car into a group of bicyclists, killing two Massachusetts women, has been released on $50,000 bail.
Nineteen-year-old Darriean Hess, of Seabrook, was charged with two counts of negligent homicide in last weekend's crash. Police say she was driving without a license when she ran into the bicyclists competing in a century ride.
Hess' attorney says she's "absolutely grief-stricken."
Meanwhile, legislators are considering changes to the penalties for driving without a license.
Hampton Rep. Renny Cushing has filed a bill that would make any moving violation by an unlicensed driver an automatic misdemeanor, which could allow the driver to be arrested.
Police say Hess had been stopped on the same road eight hours before and ticketed for driving without a license and speeding.

TROPICAL WEATHER
MIAMI (AP) -- Forecasters say a tropical depression has formed in the central Atlantic Ocean but is nowhere near land.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Saturday that the depression has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and that it's expected to strengthen into a tropical storm on Sunday.
The storm is about 1,010 miles (1,625 kilometers) east-southeast of Bermuda and is moving north at about 9 mph (15 kph).

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) -- A U.S. Virgin Islands boat captain charged with causing the death of a woman killed while parasailing has been sentenced to six months of home confinement.
Kyle Coleman also was ordered to serve one year of supervised release, pay $1.4 million in restitution to the victim's family and perform 150 hours of community service with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Police said Coleman took Bernice Kraftcheck and her daughter on a parasailing tour in November 2011 amid heavy winds. The tow line broke, causing the women to fall in the water. Authorities said the women were still attached to the parasail as it gained speed, killing Kraftcheck and seriously injuring her daughter.
Coleman pleaded guilty to operating the boat in a negligent manner. He was sentenced on Friday.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Officials at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise say a Bureau of Land Management smokejumper has died in a parachuting accident while training.
Authorities say 40-year-old Mark T. Urban of Boise died Friday afternoon about 45 miles east of Boise when something went wrong with the deployment of his parachute.
BLM spokesman Ken Frederick says Urban was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic who arrived by helicopter.
Urban was one of about 75 smokejumpers at the Great Basin Smokejumper Base in Boise. Smokejumpers are firefighters who parachute into remote areas to fight wildfires.
Frederick says Urban had been a smokejumper for 10 years. He's survived by his wife, Rebecca, and parents.
Frederick says smokejumpers in Boise held a meeting Saturday morning to deal with the loss.


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