Wednesday April 17, 2013

House GOP resists naming negotiators for budget talks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans for years have criticized Democrats controlling the Senate for failing to pass a budget. But now that the Senate has passed its first budget in four years, it’s Republicans in charge of the House who are dragging their feet on naming negotiators to iron out the gaping differences between the chambers.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan told "The Hill" publication Tuesday that Republicans only want to name negotiators when the framework of an agreement has already been pretty much worked out.

At issue are negotiations on the congressional budget resolution, a non-binding blueprint that sets goals for follow-up legislation.

What may really be motivating House Republicans is wanting to avoid a series of political votes that Democrats could force upon them soon after a negotiating panel is named.

Maduro accuses U.S. of inciting violence in Venezuela over presidential election

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela’s President-elect Nicolas Maduro is accusing the United States of inciting all the violence that has occurred in the wake of Sunday’s contested elections.

Maduro charges that the U.S. Embassy has been "financing and leading all the violent acts." He says the embassy is backing what he calls "neo-Nazi groups" that he claims are behind the violence.


Advertisement

The United States said earlier Tuesday that it will not consider the election results valid unless the vote-by-vote recount demanded by opposition candidate Henrique Capriles is done.

Maduro is blaming Capriles for seven deaths that the government says occurred in post-election unrest.

The government has provided names of some people it says have been killed by opposition activists but has provided no evidence.

Senate gun control supporters struggle to salvage broader background checks

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate gun control supporters struggled Tuesday to salvage their drive to expand background checks to more buyers, buoyed by a visit from wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords but facing enough potential opponents to derail their endeavor unless they can figure out how to win more votes.

No. 2 Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois, his party’s chief vote counter, left a lunch of Democratic senators saying they would need support from nine or 10 Republicans -- a tall order. Subjecting more firearms transactions to the background checks now is the main thrust of the gun control effort launched after December’s killings of school children and adults in Newtown, Conn.

Attending Tuesday’s Senate lunch was Giffords, the Arizona Democrat severely hurt in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly. The two, gun owners both, have started a political committee that backs candidates who favor gun restrictions.

"His message was, ‘We’ve been through this,"’ Durbin said, describing Kelly’s remarks to the lawmakers. "’We’re ready to fight back to stand up for those who have the courage to vote for gun safety."’

Giffords did not address the lawmakers.

Tips for coping if you’re stranded at the airport by AA computer problem

NEW YORK (AP) -- American Airlines grounded all flights across the U.S. for most of Tuesday afternoon because of a computer outage. Flights resumed at 4:30 p.m. EDT. But the airline expects delays to linger throughout the evening. More than 720 flights were canceled, including 400 in Dallas and 200 in Chicago. More than 750 additional flights were delayed, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.

If you are stranded, here’s what to do:

-- To avoid a potentially long wait at the airport, think about canceling. American is offering free reservation changes and refunds for stranded passengers. If customers must travel and are not yet at the airport, they can rebook through American Airlines reservations or through another carrier and American will honor the fare difference, the airline announced. Flights are fuller than ever before, so it is unlikely there are many available seats on other carriers. If a customer chooses not to travel Tuesday, they can change a reservation without being charged a fee or receive a full refund.

-- To circumvent busy phone lines, Brian Kelly, founder of ThePointsGuy.com, suggests trying the airline’s international customer service phone numbers or reaching out via Twitter -- American’s hashtag is (at)AmericanAir.

-- Consider buying a one-day pass to the airline lounge. You can get away from the crowd and there are usually free drinks and small snacks. But the real benefit to the lounges is that the airline staffs them with some of its best and friendliest ticket agents. The lines inside will be much shorter and these agents are often able to find empty seats where nobody else can. One-day passes typically cost $50 per person. Up to three children under the age of 18 years of age may be admitted at no additional charge with an adult.