Fed will reduce bond purchases by $10B in January WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Reserve has decided to reduce its stimulus for the U.S. economy because the job market has shown steady improvement. The shift could lead to higher long-term borrowing rates for individuals and businesses. The Fed's decision amounts to a vote of confidence in the economy six years after the Great Recession struck. It signals the Fed's belief that the U.S. economy is finally achieving consistent gains.
Task force urges limit on NSA snooping WASHINGTON (AP) - A presidential advisory panel is recommending stripping the National Security Agency of its ability to store Americans' telephone records and requiring a court to sign off on individual searches of phone and Internet data. The panel does not recommend that the NSA stop seizing phone and Internet data entirely. It was not immediately clear whether the proposed changes would limit the scope of the collections.
Ga. officials: Lotto winner has come forward ATLANTA (AP) - Though the Georgia winner in this week's $636 million Mega Millions jackpot has 180 days to claim the prize, state lottery officials said Wednesday that the ticketholder has come forward. Officials are set to identify the winner during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. The winner won't be in attendance, they said in a news release.
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Insurers allow more time to pay under health law WASHINGTON (AP) - Consumers anxious over tight insurance deadlines and lingering computer problems during the holidays will get extra time to pay their premiums under President Barack Obama's health care law, insurers announced Wednesday. The board of the industry's biggest trade group - America's Health Insurance Plans - said consumers who select a plan by Dec. 23 will now have until Jan. 10 to pay their first month's premium. That's 10 extra days beyond a New Year's Eve deadline set by the government.
Defense bill gives Obama rare Guantanamo victory WASHINGTON (AP) - Many detainees at Guantanamo Bay may be closer to heading home under a bipartisan deal reached in Congress that gives President Barack Obama a rare victory in his fight to close the prison for terror suspects. The compromise is part of a broad defense bill awaiting final passage in the Senate this week. The House approved the measure last Thursday. It's the first time since Obama came to office promising to close Guantanamo that Congress is moving to ease restrictions instead of strengthen them. And it could signal changing political views of the prison for terrorism suspects now that the war in Afghanistan is winding down.
Bipartisan budget agreement nears final passage WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate lined up Wednesday to give final congressional approval to legislation scaling back across-the-board cuts on programs ranging from the Pentagon to the national park system, adding a late dusting of bipartisanship to a year more likely to be remembered for a partial government shutdown and near-perpetual gridlock. President Barack Obama's signature was assured on the measure, which lawmakers in both parties said they hoped would prevent more shutdowns in the near future.
AP-GfK poll: Obama int'l ratings top domestic ones WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's approval ratings for handling foreign policy issues generally top his ratings for most domestic issues, including the economy and health care, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. But the poll also suggests a majority of Americans want the president to pull troops out of Afghanistan faster than he's doing, and many are skeptical about a tentative nuclear deal with Iran. The poll found that 57 percent now say going to war in Afghanistan after the 2001 terror attacks was probably the "wrong thing to do." And 53 percent say the pace of the planned withdrawal is too slow, 34 percent said the pace was just about right and 10 percent said it was too fast. All combat troops are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014.
Egypt's Morsi to face new trial on terror charges CAIRO (AP) - Egypt's top prosecutor on Wednesday referred toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to trial on charges he conspired with the Palestinian group Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah and others to carry out a campaign of terrorist violence to destabilize the country following his ouster. The charges, which carry a potential death penalty, are the most sweeping and heaviest accusations yet in a series of trials against the Brotherhood. The new trial of Morsi, the three top Brotherhood leaders and 32 other defendants appeared aimed at decisively crippling the top echelons of the group that dominated Egypt's politics during Morsi's one-year presidency.
Govt: 500 killed in South Sudan violence JUBA, South Sudan (AP) - At least 500 people, most of them soldiers, have been killed in South Sudan since Sunday, a senior government official said, as an ethnic rivalry threatened to tear apart the world's newest country. The clashes apparently are pitting soldiers from the majority Dinka tribe of President Salva Kiir against those from ousted Vice President Riek Machar's Nuer ethnic group, raising concerns the violence could degenerate into a civil war.
India diplomat in US is transferred to UN mission UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The Indian diplomat who says she was strip-searched after her arrest in New York City on visa charges has been transferred to India's mission to the United Nations. A former colleague at the Indian consulate in New York confirmed the move and said Devyani Khobragade was transferred Tuesday.