House Republicans signal support for budget deal WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans signaled support Wednesday for a budget deal worked out a day earlier, a plan narrowly drawn but promoted as a way to stabilize Congress' erratic fiscal efforts, avert another government shutdown and mute some of the partisan rancor that has damaged Americans' attitudes about their lawmakers. "There's a lot to like about it," said one GOP congressman, John Fleming of Louisiana, as he emerged from a closed-door caucus meeting.
Health care signups pick up pace in November WASHINGTON (AP) - Playing catch-up with a long way to go, President Barack Obama's new health insurance markets last month picked up the dismal pace of signups, the administration reported Wednesday. Enrollment statistics from the Health and Human Services Department showed that 364,682 people have signed up for private coverage as of Nov. 30 under the federal health law. Although that's more than three times the October total, it's less than one-third of the 1.2 million people officials had originally projected would enroll nationwide by the end of November.
Pope Francis is Time's Person of the Year NEW YORK (AP) - Time magazine selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year on Wednesday, saying the Catholic Church's new leader has changed the perception of the 2,000-year-old institution in an extraordinary way in a short time. The pope beat out NSA leaker Edward Snowden for the distinction, which the newsmagazine has been giving each year since 1927.
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Gun control groups still hopeful despite inaction NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - Despite a year of setbacks, the parents of children lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre insist they won't lose the fight to reduce gun violence. After 12 months of personal suffering and political frustration, they have become key players in an effort to pressure Congress to adopt changes ahead of next fall's elections. They're backed by organizations that are sending dozens of staff into key states, enlisting thousands of volunteers and preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars to try to influence congressional campaigns.
World leaders bow, pray at Nelson Mandela's casket PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - World leaders bowed and prayed Wednesday before the flag-draped casket containing the body of Nelson Mandela, having a final look at the anti-apartheid icon in the amphitheater where he was sworn in 19 years earlier as South Africa's first black president. Some made the sign of the cross, others simply spent a few moments gazing at Mandela's face through a glass bubble atop the coffin at the Union Buildings, the government offices in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.
Mandela ceremony interpreter called a 'fake' JOHANNESBURG (AP) - A man who appeared to provide sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was a "fake," the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said on Wednesday. The scandal over the interpreter is another indication of bad organization of the historic memorial service at a huge soccer stadium on Tuesday. Other difficulties included public transportation breakdowns which hindered mourners from getting to the event and a faulty audio system that prevented many of the tens of thousands in the stadium from hearing the leaders' speeches. In an apparent security failure, police did not search the first wave of crowds arriving at the stadium.
Nigerian survivor will never go to sea again WARRI, Nigeria (AP) - He survived three days in a sunken tugboat at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and was hailed as a miracle survivor, but now the Nigerian faces nightmares and questions on whether he used black magic. Harrison Odjegba Okene, 29, has transformed his life since a diver fished him out of the sea: He never again wants to find himself in a boat galley, and has since started working as a cook on firm ground.
India's Supreme Court upholds anti-gay sex law NEW DELHI (AP) - India's Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a 2009 lower court decision to decriminalize homosexuality, dealing a blow to gay activists who have fought for years for the chance to live openly in India's deeply conservative society. The judges said only lawmakers and not the courts could change a colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality.
GM CEO known for approachability, effectiveness DETROIT (AP) - Kettering University President Robert McMahan was traveling in China a few months ago when he bumped into one of the university's board members at an airport in Shanghai. Mary Barra, the busy global product development chief at General Motors Co., might have just said hello and turned back to her phone. Instead, she had a long discussion with McMahan's teenage son about his education and his efforts to learn Mandarin.
"12 Years a Slave," "Osage County" top SAG noms LOS ANGELES (AP) - Steve McQueen's historic saga "12 Years a Slave," Jon Wells' dysfunctional family adaptation "August: Osage County," Jean-Marc Vallee's AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club" and the sweeping White House servant tale "Lee Daniels' The Butler" topped the list of outstanding performances for the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. "12 Years a Slave" scored four nominations, while "Osage County" and "The Butler" earned three nominations in Wednesday's announcements. Each of the three films was nominated for overall performance by their casts. Also nominated for best ensemble cast was David O. Russell's 1970s con-artist romp "American Hustle."