US News: Fiscal Cliff Next Step?; Blackjack Dealer Attack; Oldest Gorilla; Low Miss River Levels Reveal Artifacts

In this July 13, 2012, photo, the Memphis Queen riverboat moves up the Mississippi River, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Nikki Boertman)
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Workers probably won't feel the full brunt of next year's tax increases in their January paychecks, but don't be fooled by the temporary reprieve.
No matter what Congress does to address the year-end "fiscal cliff," it's already too late for employers to accurately withhold income taxes from January paychecks.
Social Security payroll taxes are set to increase on Jan. 1, so workers should immediately feel the squeeze of a 2 percent pay cut.
But as talks drag on over how to address other year-end tax increases, the Internal Revenue Service has delayed releasing income tax withholding tables for 2013.
As a result, the American Payroll Association says employers are planning to withhold income taxes at the 2012 rates, at least for the first one or two paychecks of the year.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama has throttled back his ambitions for a sweeping budget bargain with Republicans.
Instead, he's calling for a scaled-back measure sufficient to prevent the government from careening off the "fiscal cliff" in January by extending tax cuts for most taxpayers and forestalling a painful set of agency budget cuts.
In a White House appearance Friday, Obama also called on Congress to extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed that would otherwise be cut off for 2 million people at the turn of the year.
Obama's announcement suggested that any chance for a smaller deal may rest in the Senate, particularly after the collapse of a plan by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio to permit tax rates to rise on million-dollar-plus incomes.

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A fight between two female blackjack dealers at a Las Vegas Strip resort sent one to the hospital and the other to jail.
KSNV-TV reports ( 50-year-old Brenda Wilson is accused of stabbing the other dealer Friday night in a blackjack pit at the Bellagio hotel-casino.
The incident comes a week after an Illinois man shot and fatally wounded an ex-girlfriend in the hotel lobby at the Excalibur resort on the Strip, then killed himself there.
Wilson was booked into jail on charges of battery with a deadly weapon and mayhem with substantial bodily harm.
Authorities say the victim, whose name wasn't immediately released, was taken to the hospital with deep facial cuts. Her condition was unknown.
Police couldn't confirm whether the two dealers were working at the time.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Hospitals across the country recommended hepatitis C testing for some 7,900 patients last summer after a traveling medical worker was accused of infecting patients with tainted syringes in New Hampshire. But five months later, nearly half of those who may have been exposed to the liver-destroying disease in other states have yet to be tested.
David Kwiatkowski (kwiht-KOW'-skee), who has pleaded not guilty to drug charges, is accused of stealing painkillers from New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital and replacing them with syringes tainted with his blood. Thirty-two people in New Hampshire have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries, along with six in Kansas, five in Maryland and one in Pennsylvania.
Hospital and public health officials told The Associated Press at least 3,700 patients haven't been tested.

HONOLULU (AP) -- The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye is being praised as a humble leader who embodied honor, dignity and duty during a public visitation at Hawaii's state Capitol.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie told hundreds of people gathered Saturday night that Inouye went from being considered undesirable as a Japanese-American at the start of World War II to gaining the respect of the country's leaders in Washington.
Abercrombie's remarks toward the end of an hourlong ceremony marked the start of seven hours of public visitation.
Inouye's casket, covered with an American flag, was escorted in by seven pallbearers and placed in a large tent as people lined up outside to pay their respects.

Reid urges quick appointment of Inouye successor
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is asking Hawaii's governor to act before the end of the year to fill the Senate vacancy created by the death of Daniel Inouye (ih-NOH'-way) of Hawaii.
Reid says he's asked Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint Inouye's successor "with due haste." Reid says he wants to ensure Hawaii is fully represented "in the pivotal decisions" the Senate will be making.
Inouye died of respiratory complications last week, leaving Democrats down one seat as the Senate prepares for the possibility of voting on a measure that would avoid a "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts.
Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is the favorite for the post. Inouye, a fellow Democrat, endorsed Hanabusa in a letter he sent to Abercrombie on the day he died.

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts voters weary from one of the nation's costliest and most divisive U.S. Senate races are facing yet another tumultuous election following President Obama's nomination of Sen. John Kerry as secretary of state.
If confirmed by the Senate, Kerry would resign the seat he's held for nearly three decades, sparking a special election -- the state's third Senate contest since 2010.
And there's no shortage of possible contenders.
At the top of the list is the Republican incumbent, Sen. Scott Brown, who last month lost his seat to Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.
On the Democratic side there's no clear front-runner. Possible candidates include the son of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Ted Kennedy Jr., and Democratic House members Michael Capuano, Edward Markey, Stephen Lynch, and Niki Tsongas.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The first gorilla born in a zoo is turning 56 and celebrating her birthday with some special treats at her central Ohio home.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums says the female western lowland gorilla named Colo is the oldest gorilla in any zoo. She was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 1956.
The zoo marked Colo's birthday Saturday with a cake specially prepared for her and other gifts, including her favorite food, tomatoes. The zoo included guests in the fun by having them sing "Happy Birthday."
Colo is a mother of three. Her family tree includes more than two dozen descendants living at zoos across the country.

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Drought-drained rivers are offering a rare and fleeting glimpse into years gone by.
Lack of rain has left many rivers at low levels unseen for decades, creating problems for river commerce and recreation and raising concerns about water supplies and hydropower if the drought persists.
But receding water offers an occasional treasure trove of history.
An old steamboat is now visible on the Missouri River near St. Charles, Mo., and other old boats are showing up elsewhere. A World War II minesweeper, once moored as a museum at St. Louis before it was torn away by Mississippi River floodwaters in 1993, has become visible -- rusted but intact.
And a rock containing what is believed to be an ancient map has emerged in the Mississippi River in southeast Missouri.