Fiscal Cliff

Briefs, December 28, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 5:59am

George H. W. Bush in intensive care

AUSTIN - Former US president George H. W. Bush, who led a coalition that ejected Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991, was in intensive care at a Houston, Texas, hospital in a "guarded condition", family spokesman Jim McGrath said. Bush, 88, was admitted to hospital on November 23 for bronchitis. The former president was "alert, conversing with medical staff, and surrounded by family", McGrath added. A hospital spokesman had earlier said he was expected to be home in time for Christmas. AP


We're headed over 'fiscal cliff', warns Reid

WASHINGTON - Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid warned the US looks to be headed over the "fiscal cliff" of tax rises and spending cuts that will start next week if politicians do not reach a deal. Reid criticised Republicans for refusing to go along with any tax increases as part of a budget remedy as he sketched out a pessimistic outlook. "It looks like that is where we're headed," he said. Reuters


Huge storm batters American heartland

OKLAHOMA CITY - A winter storm system pounded the American heartland and headed toward the Northeast, where people braced for the high winds and heavy snow that disrupted holiday travel, knocked out power to thousands of homes and were blamed in at least six deaths. More than 1,000 flights were cancelled or delayed and scores of motorists got stuck on icy roads or slid into drifts. AP


Obesity rates among US children drop

CHICAGO - Obesity rates among small children may finally be on the decline after more than tripling in the US the past 30 years, a study has indicated. It found that obesity rates peaked in 2004 and then declined slightly among low-income children aged two to four who receive benefits from a federal food stamp programme. AFP


Iran's president sacks sole woman minister

TEHRAN - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sacked Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, the sole woman in his cabinet. The minister had proposed price rises for several medicines due to the plunge of the Iranian rial against the US dollar and Western sanctions imposed on the country over its disputed nuclear programme. Ahmadinejad opposed the price rise and dismissed her. Although the sanctions do not directly target medicines, they limit their importation because of restrictions on financial transactions. AFP


Mandela recovers at Johannesburg home

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was recovering at his Johannesburg home after a nearly three-week hospital stay. The revered 94-year-old was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on December 8 for treatment for a lung infection and gallstones in the latest health scare for South Africa's first democratically elected president. Doctors for now want him to stay in Johannesburg, near the country's top medical facilities. It was unclear if and when Mandela would return to his ancestral home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. AFP

Asian demand drives poaching slaughter

JOHANNESBURG - Africa's biggest animals were poached in near record numbers this year, with surging demand for horn and ivory from Asia driving the slaughter of rhinos and elephants. By the middle of this month, poachers had killed 633 rhinos in South Africa, according to environment ministry figures. That marks a new annual peak in the country that is home to most of the continent's rhinos, and a sharp rise from the record 448 poached last year and the mere handful of deaths recorded a decade ago. Elsewhere in Africa, the slaughter of elephants continued, with mass killings in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Reuters


Tunisian winner of egg-eating bet dies

TUNIS - A young Tunisian has died after winning a bet to eat 28 raw eggs in one sitting. Dhaou Fatnassi, 20, from the central town of Kairouan, swallowed the eggs after his friends challenged him for an undisclosed sum of money. He was taken to hospital after suffering stomach pains but was pronounced dead on arrival. AFP


Call her Mrs Rocknroll as Winslet weds again

LONDON - Actress Kate Winslet has married her third husband in a secret ceremony, tying the knot with Richard Branson's nephew Ned Rocknroll. Winslet, 37, was given away by her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio at an intimate service in New York attended by close friends and family earlier this month. Her new husband, 34, who changed his name from Abel Smith, works part-time for his tycoon uncle's space venture Virgin Galactic. AFP