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Obama continues ‘charm offensive’ against Congress

President Barack Obama Tuesday launched an unusual mission to woo lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but budget clashes with Republicans underscored the difficulty of striking a grand deficit bargain. Obama trekked up Pennsylvania Avenue for the first of three visits, flashing a broad smile as he went into lunch with Democratic…

Senate panel approves universal background checks on gun purchases

A US Senate panel voted along party lines Tuesday to approve a Democratic bill requiring universal background checks for firearm sales, but passage through the full Congress will be more problematic. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 for the bill, which would close a loophole that allows unchecked sales at…

Sen. Elizabeth Warren slams Republicans: Worry less about helping big banks

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts slammed Republicans on Tuesday for holding up the confirmation of Richard Cordray to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, the progressive senator suggested Republicans were using false arguments to fight the nomination of Cordray. Warren, who…

Welsh man who grappled shark away from children fired for being on sick leave

A British man hailed as a hero for wrestling a shark away from an Australian beach said Tuesday he had been sacked after it emerged that he was on sick leave at the time. Paul Marshallsea, a 62-year-old charity worker from Wales, won praise in January when he ran into…

Scientists use iPhones to diagnose intestinal worms

Scientists used an iPhone and a camera lens to diagnose intestinal worms in rural Tanzania, a breakthrough that could help doctors treat patients infected with the parasites, a study said on Tuesday. Research published by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene showed that it is possible to fashion…

Former death row inmate sues publisher over ditching book deal

Nick Yarris, who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for murder, sues publisher over abandoned life story From death row to the high court. Book publishing giant HarperCollins is embroiled in a bitter legal dispute with a former prisoner who spent 21 years in solitary confinement in the US…

Venezuela looks to Lenin’s embalming experts for Chavez’s body

It’s a process described as “not a pretty sight” that involves the extraction of all the blood from a corpse. But if Venezuela needs help embalming Hugo Chavez then Russia has expertise stretching back to Soviet revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. Authorities in Caracas announced last week that Chavez’s body will…

Google fined $7 million for collecting personal data with Street View

Google struck a deal with US authorities Tuesday to pay a $7 million fine for collecting people’s personal data without authorization as it combed neighborhoods for its Street View service. In a legal settlement with 38 states, the Internet giant agreed to destroy emails, passwords, and web histories it harvested…

Locked-away cardinals must eat ‘plain’ food while voting on next pope

The cardinals locked away to choose the next pope will be served plain but wholesome food — and nothing so delicious that they will want to drag out their deliberations, an Italian newspaper reported on its website on Tuesday. The nuns who will cook for the 115 cardinals during the…

French ethics panel opposes ‘sexual assistants’ for disabled

An ethics panel in France on Tuesday opposed the use of so-called sexual assistants for the disabled, an issue sparked by a true-to-life film recounting the experiences of a handicapped man. The National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE), which advises the government on health issues, said it saw too great a…

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