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Nation Briefs for Dec. 12, 2013

Prisoner’s plea for release stuck in limbo

MIAMI (AP) — Three weeks after the first Obama-era parole board hearing at Guantanamo, a step toward realizing the White House goal of emptying the prison, the administration is still deciding what portions of a captive’s plea for freedom the public can see.

Representatives of six different government agencies heard Mahmud Mujahid address the panel by video link between the remote base in Cuba for about 75 minutes Nov. 20, according to participants.

Now, all six must sign off on what part of a transcript will be made public, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday.

The inability to release a transcript in three weeks, even with the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle, is the latest sign of the snail-pace administration efforts in having the parole boards.

While there are 162 captives at the prison camps in southeast Cuba, 82 of them already were cleared for transfers to other nations, six are in pretrial proceedings and three are convicted of war crimes. That leaves 71 captives eligible for the parole board process.

The next one is scheduled Jan. 28.

Key support gained for budget deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — A newly minted budget deal to avert future government shutdowns gained important ground Wednesday among House Republicans more accustomed to brinkmanship than compromise, even though it would nudge federal deficits higher three years in a row.

There was grumbling from opposite ends of the political spectrum — conservatives complaining about spending levels and liberal Democrats unhappy there would be no extension of an expiring program of benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Yet, other lawmakers, buffeted by criticism after last October’s partial government shutdown, found plenty to like in the agreement and suggested it could lead to future cooperation. The plan was announced Tuesday evening by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and quickly endorsed by President Barack Obama.

A House vote was expected as early as today as lawmakers race to wrap up their work for the year.

PDs buckling down on officers buckling up

LOS ANGELES (AP) —If you’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer for not wearing a seat belt, there’s a decent chance the officer also wasn’t buckled up.

While 86 percent of Americans now wear seat belts, an upcoming study that will be published by California’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training estimates roughly half of law enforcement officers don’t wear them.

With traffic-related fatalities the leading cause of death of officers on duty, departments nationwide are buckling down to get officers to buckle up.

“Something that can save a person’s life should be on a high priority of being enforced,” said Richard Ashton, a former police chief who has studied officer safety for more than a decade with the International Association of Chiefs of Police.


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