Posted: Mar 31, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Apr 1, 2012 4:01 AM
Are all mandates equal? Other federal health care requirements raise questions for high court
WASHINGTON (AP) The individual insurance requirement that the Supreme Court is reviewing isn't the first federal mandate involving health care.
There's a Medicare payroll tax on workers and employers, for example, and a requirement that hospitals provide free emergency services to indigents. Health care is full of government dictates, some arguably more intrusive than President Barack Obama's overhaul law.
It's a wrinkle that has caught the attention of the justices.
Most of the mandates apply to providers such as hospitals and insurers. For example, a 1990s law requires health plans to cover at least a 48-hour hospital stay for new mothers and their babies. Such requirements protect some consumers while indirectly raising costs for others.
One mandate affects just about everybody: Workers must pay a tax to finance Medicare, which collects about $200 billion a year.
Myanmar holds landmark polling likely to see dissident Aung San Suu Kyi elected to parliament
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was poised to win her first elected office in a landmark election Sunday in Myanmar that drew crowds of voters determined to send the country's most famous ex-political prisoner to parliament.
A victory for Suu Kyi would mark a new era in her 24-year political career, which was spent mostly under house arrest, and for Myanmar as the government seeks legitimacy and a lifting of Western sanctions while emerging from a half-century of oppressive and hermetic military rule.
Sunday's by-election was called to fill just 45 vacant seats in Myanmar's 664-seat national Parliament and will not change the balance of power in a new government that is nominally civilian but still heavily controlled by retired generals. Suu Kyi and other opposition candidates would have almost no say even if they win all the seats they are contesting.
But Suu Kyi's candidacy has resurrected hope among Myanmar's downtrodden masses. If the 66-year-old Nobel peace laureate takes office as expected it would symbolize a giant leap toward national reconciliation.
"She may not be able to do anything at this stage," said one voter, Go Khehtay, who cast his ballot for Suu Kyi at Wah Thin Kha, one of the dirt-poor villages in the rural constituency south of Yangon that she is vying to represent.
After 24 hours adrift, stricken cruise ship with 1,000 aboard creeps toward Malaysian port
SANDAKAN, Malaysia (AP) A luxury cruise ship stranded at sea for 24 hours by a fire was limping toward a Malaysian port Sunday, as emergency services and embassy officials prepared to help the 1,000 people on board.
The Azamara Quest was adrift in waters off the southern Philippines for a full day after flames engulfed one of its engine rooms Friday night, injuring five crew members. It restored propulsion the next night and is expected to reach the harbor of Sandakan city in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island late Sunday.
It was the latest in a series of accidents hitting luxury cruise liners since January, when the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.
Sandakan authorities may have ambulances on standby, even though they have not received requests for assistance, said city police official Rudy Wiliding.
Five crew members suffered smoke inhalation, including one who was seriously injured and needed hospital care, the ship's operator has said.
Turkey hosts meeting of nations to back Syrian opposition, increase pressure on Assad
ISTANBUL (AP) Dozens of countries on Sunday sought to set conditions for a new Syria, pushing for tighter sanctions and diplomatic pressure to further isolate President Bashar Assad, while urging the opposition to offer a democratic alternative to his regime.
Yet the show of solidarity at the "Friends of the Syrian People" conference in Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, was marred by the absence of China, Russia and Iran key supporters of Assad who disagree with Western and Arab allies over how to stop the bloodshed. A peace plan by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has so far failed to take hold amid fresh reports of deadly violence.
"The Syrian regime should not be allowed at any cost to manipulate this plan to gain time," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an opening address. "This regime has never kept its promises."
Erdogan also indicated military options might have to be considered if the international community fails to unite in opposition to Assad. He referred to the vetoes of U.N. censure of Assad by Russia and China, who fear the measures could lead to foreign military intervention.
"If the U.N. Security Council fails once again to bring about its historic responsibility, there will be no other choice than to support the Syrian people's right to self-defense," Erdogan said.
Pope begins Holy Week with Palm Sunday Mass and good news for church in Cuba
VATICAN CITY (AP) Pope Benedict XVI has kicked off the Catholic Church's Holy Week celebrations with Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square and good news from Cuba.
Cuba's communist government on Saturday agreed to Benedict's request to make Good Friday a holiday, a request made during his visit to the Caribbean island last week. The day, which is celebrated this Friday, marks the solemn commemoration of Christ's death.
On Sunday, Benedict traveled into St. Peter's Square on the back of a white jeep at the start of Palm Sunday Mass, which marks Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem and inaugurates Holy Week.
Benedict and the cardinals who proceeded him clutched ornately braided palm fronds, while ordinary faithful carried olive and palm branches to recreate the welcome Jesus received. St. Peter's was nearly full under cloudy, chilly skies.
The pope looked rested despite having just returned from an exhausting, six-day trip to Mexico and Cuba, where he met with former and present Cuban presidents, Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul.
Raucous fans burn couches, flip cars in the streets after Ky.'s Final Four win over Louisville
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Riot police used pepper spray in small amounts for crowd control as thousands of rowdy fans swarmed into the streets near the University of Kentucky campus, overturning cars and lighting couches ablaze after a victory over cross-state rival Louisville in a Final Four matchup.
Police had been bracing for the possibility of post-game violence and resorted to pepper spray though large amounts weren't needed before they ultimately began dispersing the throngs, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.
She said 150 officers deployed on the streets at one point to quell what she called "a very dangerous situation with the fires and the violence" that dragged on for hours.
"It's a fairly difficult situation, but not anything we didn't plan for," Roberts told The Associated Press.
Lexington City spokeswoman Susan Straub said police made fewer than 10 arrests, and a few injuries were reported after the celebrations turned rowdy in the streets after the Wildcats' 69-61 win in New Orleans.
Searchers find body of renowned runner Micah True, who disappeared after going for a run in NM
Searchers on Saturday found the body of renowned long-distance runner Micah True, who vanished four days earlier after heading out from a lodge for a morning run in the rugged wilderness near New Mexico's Gila National Forest.
The body was discovered at about 6 p.m. in a remote, rugged area of the Gila Wilderness, the New Mexico state police said.
The cause of death was still unknown, but there were no obvious signs of trauma, incident commander Tom Bemis told the Boulder Daily Camera (http://bit.ly/Ham6Td). A medical examiner was en route to examine True's body around 7:30 p.m., he said.
The 58-year-old True, whose extreme-distance running prowess is detailed in the book "Born to Run," set out on what for him would have been a routine 12-mile run Tuesday from The Wilderness Lodge and Hot Springs, where he was staying. He left his dog at the lodge and never returned. A search began the next day.
Lodge co-owner Dean Bruemmer, who helped with the search Saturday, said he last saw his friend at breakfast. He said True gave no indication of a specific route, which made the search more difficult.
Bieber, Berry among the victims as slime pours freely at 25th annual Kids' Choice Awards
At the 25th annual Kids' Choice Awards, the slime runneth over.
Host Will Smith opened the 25th annual Kids' Choice Awards promising a record amount of the show's trademark green gunk. Though some 20 awards are presented at the KCAs, the real suspense isn't who will take home a "Blimp" (the show's Oscar), it's when and on whom the slime will spill.
It's like a baptism into kid-dome that can come at any moment: from a hidden bucket, dumped from the rafters or exploded from little orange blimps.
"No one is safe from the slime!" screamed Smith. "You have to earn the slime! It's an honor."
Halle Berry was the first to be covered, but she was far from alone. She was joined by "Twilight" star Taylor Lautner (who won favorite "buttkicker"), "Glee" star Chris Colfer and male singer winner Justin Bieber, who was utterly drenched along with Smith at the end of the show.
Tribune says no settlement reached with DirecTV; channels in 19 markets dropped
NEW YORK (AP) DirecTV Inc. subscribers in 19 U.S. markets have lost access to certain programming, after Tribune Broadcasting said it failed to reach a settlement with the satellite television provider in their contract negotiations.
Tribune Broadcasting said late Saturday in a statement that without a deal in place, DirecTV was barred by federal law from carrying the signal of Tribune's local television stations after midnight, when their agreement expired.
The affected markets include New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia.
Tribune president Nils Larsen called the situation "extremely unfortunate."
In its own statement, DirecTV said it had hoped Tribune would allow its programming to remain up while negotiations continue. But as it struck midnight in each time U.S. time zone, Tribune channels carried by DirecTV went blank.
Stay a little longer: Big comeback leads KU to 64-62 win over Ohio State; Wildcats next
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The tightrope walk rocks on for the Jayhawks.
Kansas, the underrated, undervalued team that's been teetering on the edge of the tournament since before it even began, is now one of the last two left.
Tyshawn Taylor made two big free throws late, and All-American Thomas Robinson finished with 19 points and eight rebounds Saturday night to lift the Jayhawks to a come-from-behind 64-62 win over Ohio State in the Final Four a game Kansas led for a grand total of 3 minutes, 48 seconds.
After scoring the game's first bucket, Kansas didn't lead again until Travis Releford made two free throws with 2:48 left. That lasted for 11 seconds, but the Jayhawks (32-6), who trailed by as many as 13, overcame another deficit and finally held on against the Buckeyes (31-8).
"It's just been our thing all year, coming back," Robinson said. "I don't like doing it, but for some reason my team is pretty good when we're down."