$50.5B Sandy aid bill passed by Congress
Three months after superstorm Sandy ravaged coastal areas in much of the Northeast, Congress on Monday sent a $50.5 billion emergency relief measure for storm victims to President Barack Obama for his signature.
“I commend Congress for giving families and businesses the help they deserve, and I will sign this bill into law as soon as it hits my desk,” Obama said in a statement late Monday.
Despite opposition from conservatives concerned about adding billions of dollars more to the nation’s debt, the Senate cleared the long-delayed bill, 62-36, after House Republicans had stripped it earlier this month of spending unrelated to disasters. All 36 votes against the bill were from Republican senators.
In Egypt, a show of defiance of leader
Protesters battled police for hours in Cairo on Monday and thousands marched through Egypt’s three Suez Canal cities in direct defiance of a night-time curfew and state of emergency, handing a blow to the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi’s attempts to contain five days of spiraling political violence.
Nearly 60 people have been killed in the wave of unrest, clashes, rioting and protests that have touched cities across the country but have hit the hardest in the canal cities, where residents have virtually risen up in outright revolt.
The latest death came on Monday in Cairo, where a protester died of gunshot wounds.
Arsonist gets death for fire that killed 5
san bernardino, calif.
An arsonist was given the death penalty Monday for killing five men who died of heart attacks during a wildfire nearly a decade ago that ripped through the hills east of Los Angeles.
Rickie Lee Fowler, 31, was convicted in August of five counts of first-degree murder and two counts of arson. A jury later recommended the death sentence.
Prosecutors said Fowler lit the fire in October 2003 out of rage after he was thrown out of a house where his family was staying.
Oil cleanup ongoing
Experts say the stretch of Mississippi River where vessel traffic was halted after a barge hit a railroad bridge Sunday is one of the most dangerous along the 2,500-mile-long river.
Late Monday, cleanup crews were skimming oily water near Vicksburg, a day after a barge struck a bridge, rupturing a compartment holding 80,000 gallons of oil.
Authorities said that the oil was being contained and there was no evidence of it washing ashore downriver.
Dutch queen to end reign, pass crown
the hague, netherlands
The Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix announced Monday that she is ending her reign after 33 years and passing the crown to her eldest son, who has long been groomed to be king but who will have to work hard to match his mother’s popularity.
The widely expected abdication comes at a time of debate over the future of the largely ceremonial Dutch monarchy, but also as calm has descended upon the Netherlands after a decade of turmoil that saw Beatrix act as the glue that held together an increasingly divided society.
The queen, who turns 75 soon, said she will step down April 30. That day, her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, 45, will be appointed king at an inauguration in Amsterdam. He will be the Netherlands’ first king since Willem III died in 1890.