Feds wind down health program
Citing financial concerns, the Obama administration Friday began quietly winding down one of the earliest programs created by the president’s health care overhaul, a plan that helps people with medical problems who can’t get private insurance.
In an afternoon teleconference with state counter-parts, administration officials said the Pre- Existing Condition Insurance Plan will stop taking new applications. People already in the plan will not lose coverage.
Designed as a stopgap solution until the law’s full consumer protections are in effect next year, PCIP has served more than 135,000 people, a lifeline for patients with serious medical problems such as cancer and heart failure. But Congress allocated a limited amount of money, and the administration’s technical experts want to make sure it doesn’t run out.
US to build prisons in Haiti countryside
The U.S. government plans to build two prisons in Haiti’s countryside in an effort to stem severe overcrowding, disease and violence in the poor Caribbean nation’s prison system, a U.S. official said Friday.
Carl Siebentritt, director of the Narcotics Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy, wrote in an email to The Associated Press that a prison will be built in each of the coastal towns of Petit Goave and Cabaret.
US: Kidnap threat for visitors to Peru
A U.S. Embassy warning to U.S. tourists of a potential kidnapping threat in the Cuzco region, including the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, drew vehement objections from Peruvian officials Friday.
But a U.S. Embassy official said credible evidence exists of a threat from a Peruvian terrorist group.
The official confirmed a report in the Peruvian newspaper La Republica that said leaders of the cocaine- financed Shining Path outlaw band discussed kidnapping foreigners, principally Americans, in intercepted communications. Tens of thousands of Americans visit Peru each year.
School-bus strike ends in New York
The monthlong school- bus strike that affected tens of thousands of children in the nation’s largest school district ended Friday, after union leaders were assured by prospective New York City mayoral candidates that their concerns would be heard after this year’s election.
Leaders of the Amalgamated Transit Union said service for New York City schools would resume Wednesday, when classes resume after mid-winter recess.
Jesse Jackson Jr., wife take plea deal
In a spectacular fall from political prominence, former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife agreed Friday to plead guilty to federal charges growing out of what prosecutors said was a scheme to use $750,000 in campaign funds for lavish personal expenses, including a $43,000 gold watch and furs.
Federal prosecutors filed one charge of conspiracy against the former Chicago congressman and charged his ex-alderman wife, Sandra, with one count of filing false joint federal income-tax returns for the years 2006 through 2011 that knowingly understated the income the couple received. Both agreed to plead guilty in deals with federal prosecutors.
Both face maximum penalties of several years in prison; he also faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and forfeitures. But the government did not immediately release the text of its plea agreements.