Nation roundup for November 14
Grandma, uncle kill 3 children
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Caught up in a family disagreement over who should care for three young children, a grandmother and her son barricaded themselves and the kids in a garage and filled it with deadly carbon monoxide gas. All five died.
Police spent Tuesday trying to explain the heartbreaking scene discovered a day earlier at the home of 54-year-old Sandy Ford and her son Andy in a quiet Toledo neighborhood.
Firefighter’s using a sledgehammer broke down the garage door to find the bodies of 5-year-old Madalyn Hayes, her 6-year-old brother Logan and 10-year-old sister Paige slumped inside a car, along with their grandmother and uncle. Two hoses attached to the exhaust of a pickup truck pumped gas fumes through the car’s rear window. Police said letters inside the house indicated the woman and her son plotted the murder-suicide, beginning by picking up the children from school Monday morning after their mother had dropped them off earlier.
They also had disabled the garage door opener and nailed plywood over the windows, said Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan. He wouldn’t say what was in the letters, but it appeared some were written by the children.
“We’re trying to figure out all the why’s in this,” he said.
General demoted for lavish travel
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted the former head of U.S. Africa Command who was accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.
Panetta stripped Gen. William “Kip” Ward of a star, which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general despite arguments from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff against the demotion. Ward also has been ordered to repay the government $82,000.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to discuss a personnel matter.
The demotion comes as retired Army Gen. David Petraeus resigned as CIA director because of an extramarital affair and Marine Gen. John Allen is being investigated for potentially improper communications with a woman. According to the official, Panetta reviewed the Ward matter and concluded that the wrongdoing found by the Defense Department Inspector General, in a report released earlier this year, demanded accountability.
U.S. stocks fall in uneven trading
U.S. stocks closed lower after uneven trading Tuesday as fears about the “fiscal cliff” and Greece tipped major indexes between gains and losses. A surge in Home Depot’s stock prevented a steeper drop for the Dow Jones industrial average.
The Dow closed down closed down 58.90 points, or 0.5 percent, at 12,756.18. It would have been lower without support from Home Depot, whose stock jumped 3.6 percent after the big-box retailer beat expectations for its fiscal third-quarter earnings. Home Depot is benefiting from the gradual housing recovery and rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy. Home Depot rose $2.22 to $63.38.
Top bishop fights birth control rule
BALTIMORE (AP) — A top American bishop said Tuesday the Roman Catholic church will not comply with the Obama administration requirement that most employers provide health insurance covering birth control.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said church leaders are open to working toward a resolution with federal officials, but will meanwhile press ahead with challenges to the mandate in legislatures and in court.
“The only thing we’re certainly not prepared to do is give in. We’re not violating our consciences,” Dolan told reporters at a national bishops’ meeting. “I would say no door is closed except for the door to capitulation.”
The bishops have been fighting the regulation since it was announced by President Barack Obama early this year. Houses of worship are exempt, but religiously affiliated hospitals, charities and colleges are not.
Obama promised to change the requirement so that insurance companies, not faith-affiliated employers, would pay for the coverage.
But details have not been worked out. And not only the bishops, but Catholic hospitals and some other religious leaders generally supportive of Obama’s health care overhaul have said the compromise proposed so far appears to be unworkable.
Dozens of Catholic dioceses and charities have sued over the mandate, along with colleges, including the University of Notre Dame. The bishops have made the issue the centerpiece of a national campaign on preserving religious freedom, which they consider under assault on several fronts from an increasingly secular broader culture. The Department of Health and Human Services adopted the rule as a preventive service meant to protect women’s health by allowing them to space their pregnancies.
It’s unclear what, if any, influence the bishops have with the administration.
Many bishops spoke out sharply against Obama during the election. The bishops said they were protesting policies, not the candidate himself. Obama won the overall Catholic vote, 50 percent to 48 percent, according to exit polls, but Catholics split on ethnic lines. White Catholics supported Romney, 59 percent to 40 percent. Latino Catholics went for Obama, 75 percent to 21 percent.
A White House spokesman did not immediately comment.
The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said the administration should compromise. Although liberal-leaning Catholics disagree with the bishops on gay marriage and other issues, these same Catholics would oppose anything that threatened the church’s social service work with the poor, war refugees and other disadvantaged people.
“This is a situation where being a gracious victor is not only the right thing to do, it makes good political sense,” Reese said.
Dolan, archbishop of New York, would not say whether bishops would disobey the mandate if the lawsuits fail or church leaders can’t resolve their disagreements with Health and Human Services.
“It’s still not doomsday yet,” he said.
Separately, the bishops voted to shelve a statement on the economy that they’d been working on for months. The bishops voted overwhelmingly to draft the document last June, after objecting to social services cuts in the budget proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who was the Republican vice presidential nominee. This statement was intended as a brief message of concern and encouragement to Americans. But bishops meeting in Baltimore couldn’t agree on the wording or emphasis and rejected the document.
Also, the bishops endorsed the effort by the Archdiocese of New York to seek sainthood for Dorothy Day, a social activist and writer who converted to Catholicism as an adult. She was a founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, which advocates for social justice and aids the poor.
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