Nation roundup for December 25
Bush in hospital during Christmas
HOUSTON (AP) — Former President George H.W. Bush will spend Christmas in a Houston hospital after developing a fever and weakness following a monthlong, bronchitis-like cough, his spokesman said Monday.
A hospital spokesman had said the 88-year-old ex-president would be released in time to spend the holiday at home, but that changed after Bush developed a fever.
“He’s had a few setbacks. Late last week, he had a few low-energy days followed by a low-grade fever,” Jim McGrath, Bush’s spokesman in Houston, told The Associated Press. “Doctors still say they are cautiously optimistic, but every time they get over one thing, another thing pops up.”
He said the cough that initially brought Bush to the hospital on Nov. 23 is now evident only about once a day, and the fever appears to be under control, although doctors are still working to get the right balance in Bush’s medications. No discharge date has been set.
“Given his current condition, doctors just want to hang on to him,” McGrath said, adding that he didn’t know what had caused the fever.
Bush, the nation’s 41st president, and his wife, Barbara, live in Houston during the winter and spend their summers in a home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The former president was a naval aviator in World War II — at one point the youngest in the Navy — and was shot down over the Pacific.
He achieved notoriety in retirement for skydiving on at least three of his birthdays since leaving the White House in 1992.
Bush’s son, George W. Bush, the 43rd president, has been among his visitors at the hospital.
Gulf Coast may see tornadoes
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nasty weather, including a chance of strong tornadoes and howling thunderstorms, could be on the way for Christmas Day along the Gulf Coast from east Texas to north Florida.
The storms will hold off long enough to let Christmas Eve bonfires light the way for Pere Noel along the Mississippi River, officials said.
Farther north, much of Oklahoma and Arkansas were under a winter storm warning, with freezing rain, sleet and snow expected on Christmas. A blizzard watch is out for western Kentucky. No matter what form it takes, travel today could be dangerous, meteorologists said.
The storms could bring strong tornadoes or winds of more than 75 mph, heavy rain, quarter-sized hail and dangerous lightning in Louisiana and Mississippi, the National Weather Service said. The greatest risk is in areas north of Interstates 10 and 12, with the worst storms likely along and southeast of a line from Winnsboro, La., to Jackson and DeKalb, Miss., according to the weather service’s Jackson office.
“We understand that most people will be focusing on the holiday,” said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. “Please plan now for how you will receive a severe weather warning, and know where you will go when it is issued. It only takes a few minutes, and it will help everyone have a safe Christmas.”
Stocks dip amid ‘fiscal cliff’ fears
Stocks fell in light trading Monday during a shortened holiday trading session with lawmakers running out of time to reach a budget deal that would prevent the U.S. from going over the so-called fiscal cliff.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 52 points to 13,139.08. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gave up 3 points to 1,426.66 The Nasdaq composite slipped 8.4 points to 3,012.60.
In more than a dozen interviews with The Associated Press, conservative activists said they would rather see the country fall off the cliff than agree to any tax increases for any Americans, no matter how wealthy. With many in Washington away for the holidays, that scenario appears increasingly likely.
“There is starting to become a little bit of an acceptance that we fall off the fiscal cliff,” said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist for TD Ameritrade. “People are starting to think about how they may plan their portfolio if that does happen.”
Stocks fell sharply Friday, with the Dow logging its biggest drop in more than a month, after House Republicans called off a vote on tax rates. That left federal budget talks in disarray just days before sweeping tax increases and government spending cuts are scheduled to take effect.
Sen. Crapo faces DUI court date
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A conservative U.S. senator from Idaho who has said he doesn’t drink because of his Mormon faith has been charged with drunken driving.
Sen. Michael Crapo, a three-term Republican with a reputation as a social and fiscal conservative, registered a blood alcohol content of .11 percent after police pulled his car over in this suburb south of Washington, D.C., authorities said.
The 61-year-old lawmaker, who faces a court date Jan. 4, apologized in a statement issued hours after his arrest early Sunday.
“I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance,” Crapo said in the statement Sunday night. “I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter.”
He also said he would take measures to ensure “this circumstance is never repeated.”
Crapo, who was elected in 1998 and is in his third Senate term, is expected to take over the top Republican spot next year on the Senate Banking Committee. He also serves on the Senate’s budget and finance panels and has been active on environmental and health issues. Crapo was a member of the so-called “Gang of Six” senators that worked in 2011 toward a deficit-reduction deal that was never adopted by Congress.
He also served for six years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Police in the suburb of Alexandria said Crapo was stopped early Sunday after his vehicle ran a red light. Police spokesman Jody Donaldson said Crapo failed field sobriety tests and was arrested at about 12:45 a.m. Sunday He was taken to the Alexandria jail and released on an unsecured $1,000 bond at about 5 a.m. Sunday.
“There was no refusal (to take blood alcohol tests), no accident, no injuries,” Donaldson said. “Just a traffic stop that resulted in a DUI.”
Police said Crapo, who was alone in his vehicle, registered a blood alcohol level of .11 percent. The legal limit in Virginia, which has strict drunken driving laws, is .08 percent.
In Virginia, the driver’s license of anyone who registers a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher is automatically suspended for seven days. A first-time conviction for DUI carries a mandatory, minimum $250 fine and license revocation for one year, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
A Crapo spokesman declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding the arrest.
Crapo had told The Associated Press in past interviews that he abstains from drinking alcohol.
A Mormon who grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho, Crapo was named a bishop in the church at age 31. He is an attorney who graduated from Brigham Young University and Harvard Law School. He has five children with his wife, Susan, and three grandchildren.
The Mormon church prohibits the use of alcohol, as well as coffee, tea and other substances. About one-quarter of Idaho residents are Mormon.
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