June 17, 2009 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Health plan to be unveiled

From Wire Reports

Washington – Trying to prevent a repeat of the 1990s standoff over health care, four former Senate leaders are preparing a plan that combines ideas from both political parties to guarantee coverage for all.

Democrats Tom Daschle and George Mitchell are set to join Republicans Bob Dole and Howard Baker today to release a $1.2 trillion proposal that would be fully paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

A summary of the plan calls for an individual requirement to carry health insurance, an idea that many Republicans support. But it would also impose new levies on large companies that don’t provide coverage to their workers, an approach preferred by Democrats.

Perhaps the most controversial part calls for taxing health insurance benefits worth more than the value of the coverage that members of Congress get.

Palin names attorney general

Soldotna, Alaska – Gov. Sarah Palin on Tuesday appointed a former Anchorage lawyer with White House and State Department service to be Alaska’s new attorney general after her earlier choice was rejected by state lawmakers.

Daniel S. Sullivan, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state in the Bush administration, must be confirmed by the Legislature but will serve in the role until lawmakers reconvene in January.

A blue-chip resume – including a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and law degree from Georgetown – coupled with his professional experience were hailed as a boon for the state’s law department, which had been the focus of tensions between Palin and lawmakers since she was the Republican vice presidential candidate.

Arizona may relax gun-carrying laws

Phoenix – The Arizona Senate has reversed itself and voted to allow people with concealed-carry permits to take handguns into restaurants that serve alcohol.

The Senate approved the bill on an 18-10 vote Tuesday, one day after it defeated the measure on a 14-14 tie when one supporter was absent. The bill now goes to the House.

Under the bill, a permit-holder carrying a weapon into a restaurant serving alcohol would not be allowed to drink.

Supporters of the bill say the current ban deprives law-abiding citizens of the means to protect themselves and others, and subjects their guns to the risk of theft if they’re left in parked vehicles.

‘Father Oprah’ weds girlfriend

Miami – A telegenic Miami priest known as “Father Oprah,” who left the Catholic Church amid an uproar over tabloid photos of him kissing his girlfriend on the beach, made the relationship official Tuesday, marrying the woman he was involved with for about two years.

The Rev. Alberto Cutie and Ruhama Canellis were married by a judge in Coral Gables, according to Miami-Dade County court records.

It was the latest in the public spectacle that started when photos of Cutie embracing his longtime girlfriend surfaced last month.

Amid the scandal, Cutie was removed from his South Beach parish, and he departed from Catholicism to become an Episcopal priest.

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