Obama signs debt measure into law

Obama signs debt measure into law


President Barack Obama on Saturday signed separate measures into law to lift the federal debt limit and restore benefits that had been cut for younger military retirees.

Obama signed the bills during a weekend golf vacation in Southern California.

The debt-limit measure allows the government to borrow money to pay its bills, such as Social Security benefits and federal salaries. The Treasury Department is now free to borrow regularly through March 15, 2015.

Separate legislation passed in December would have held annual cost-of-living increases for veterans age 62 and younger to 1 percentage point below the rate of inflation, beginning in 2015.

Fossil shows reptile in act of being born

Scientists have discovered the fossil remains of an ancient marine reptile in the act of being born.

The fossil shows that the little icthyosaur was just starting to swim headfirst out of its mother’s body at the time of its death, with two other icthyosaur embryos still awaiting their own birth experience.

The rare fossil was discovered in what was once an inland sea that split China in two. Today, the site lies 150 miles east of Shanghai near the city of Chaohu in the Anhui province. Scientists believe the embryos and their mother were buried in a landslide.

Snowstorm in Japan kills 6, injures 1,000


A fresh storm in Japan has left six dead and about 1,000 injured amid further disruptions to the country’s road and rail services after a deadly blizzard last weekend.

Three people died as a result of collapsing buildings, while three others were killed in traffic accidents, media reported.

Some 1,000 people — including one in a coma — have been injured in snow-related accidents across Japan since the storm hit its western coast Thursday.

Last week, just under 11.8 inches of snow were recorded in Tokyo — the capital’s worst snowfall in nearly half a century.

Bahrainis protest; injured officer dies


Bahraini anti-government activists clashed with security forces as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Saturday, sending tear gas into a major shopping mall and bringing the capital’s streets to a standstill on the same day that authorities said a police officer died of injuries sustained from an earlier bombing.

The Interior Ministry said that the officer was one of two injured in what it called a “terrorist blast” on Friday in the village of Dair, near the country’s main airport. It did not identify the officer.

Son of Muppets creator dies in NY


John Henson, the son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson, has died in New York. He was 48.

Cheryl Henson says her brother died of a “massive heart attack” at his home in Saugerties on Friday. She says it happened after he had been building an igloo in the snow with his daughter.

Henson followed in his famous father’s footsteps as a puppeteer, performing as Sweetums the ogre in several films, including “Muppet Treasure Island” and “It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie.”

He also was a shareholder and board member of the Jim Henson Company.

Henson leaves behind his wife, Gyongyi, and two daughters, age 10 and 15. A private funeral service is planned.

Combined dispatches

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