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In brief: Study: Federal workers earn more

WASHINGTON – A new government study says the average federal worker earns about 2 percent more than a private sector worker in a comparable profession, though the government’s generous pension system means that overall compensation is significantly higher.

Once pension and health benefits are factored in, the average federal worker reaps 16 percent more in total compensation than do private sector workers.

The new Congressional Budget Office study says federal workers in lower-level jobs make more than private sector workers but that those with advanced degrees earn more outside government. Federal workers with a high school education or less earn about $4 more an hour than private sector employees.

The study comes as House GOP leaders have scheduled a vote this week to extend the current pay freeze on federal workers.

China says 29 still held in Sudan

BEIJING – None of the 29 Chinese workers abducted after an attack in a volatile region of Sudan have been freed, Chinese state media said today, dismissing reports that some of the workers had been released.

The workers were abducted Saturday by militants in a remote region in the country’s south. Sudanese state media reported Monday that 14 of them had been freed, but the official Xinhua News Agency and China Daily newspaper said all 29 were still being held.

Severe cold leaves 36 dead in Europe

BELGRADE, Serbia – A severe and snowy cold snap across central and eastern Europe has left at least 36 people dead, cut off power to towns, and snarled traffic. Officials are responding with measures ranging from opening shelters to dispensing hot tea, with particular concern for the homeless and elderly.

This part of Europe is not unused to cold, but the current freeze, which spread to most of the region last week, came after a period of relatively mild weather. Many were shocked when temperatures in some parts plunged Monday to minus 4 Fahrenheit.

Officials have appealed to people to stay indoors and be careful.

Woman gives birth to 13-pound boy

DES MOINES, Iowa – An Iowa woman has given birth to a boy weighing 13 pounds and 13 ounces – without the aid of surgery.

Asher Stewardson was born Thursday at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, measuring 23  1/2 inches long. Fifteen months ago, his brother, Judah, arrived weighing 12 pounds, 1 ounce, at birth.

The boys’ mother, Kendall Stewardson, endured six hours of labor without an epidural injection. She says she and her husband, Joshua, wanted to avoid cesarean delivery because that wouldn’t have been good for her or Asher.