In brief: House OKs delay of part of health law

WASHINGTON – The Republican-led House voted on Wednesday to delay core provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care law, emboldened by the administration’s concession that requiring companies to provide coverage for their workers next year may be too complicated.

After a day of heated rhetoric, the House voted largely along party lines, 264-161, to delay by one year the so-called employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act. It voted 251-174 to extend a similar grace period to virtually all Americans who will be required to obtain coverage beginning Jan. 1, the linchpin of the law.

The dual political-show votes marked the 38th time the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or scale back the unpopular law since Republicans took control of the House in January 2011. The House legislation stands no chance in the Democratic-run Senate.

Opposition leader found guilty

KIROV, Russia – A Russian judge has found opposition leader Alexei Navalny guilty of embezzlement, a finding that could bring the charismatic anti-corruption blogger and Moscow mayoral candidate up to six years in prison.

Judge Sergei Blinov did not immediately state the sentence today. Under Russian court proceedings, full verdict readings can take several hours.

Insecticide in food, authorities believe

ISLAMABAD – Indian authorities on Wednesday were trying to determine how food served as part of a free school lunch program got tainted with insecticide, leading to the deaths of at least 22 children and the hospitalization of more than two dozen others.

The children, who were between the ages of 5 and 12, attended a school in a small village in the eastern state of Bihar. After eating a lunch of potatoes, soybeans, rice and lentils on Tuesday, they began complaining of severe stomach pain and were vomiting, authorities said.

Authorities told Indian media that preliminary laboratory tests showed the food contained an organophosphate used as an insecticide. But they were still trying to find out what part of the meal was contaminated.

More than 30 of the children remained hospitalized as of Wednesday, several of them in serious condition.

Yemen al-Qaida confirms death

SANAA, Yemen – The Yemen-based branch of al-Qaida confirmed on Wednesday that the group’s No. 2 figure, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

The announcement, posted on militant websites, gave no date for the death of Saudi-born Saeed al-Shihri.

The confirmation was significant, however, because al-Shihri had twice before been reported dead but the terror group later denied those reports.

His killing is considered a major blow to the Yemen-based al-Qaida branch, known as Al-Qaida in The Arabian Peninsula.

Yemeni security officials said al-Shihri died of serious injuries sustained when a drone strike targeted him in November last year.

Mexico investigates oil link to rays’ death

VERACRUZ, Mexico – Mexican authorities investigating the deaths of at least 250 rays found on a beach in the town of Ursulo Galvan say they are studying whether work being done by the country’s national oil company in the Gulf of Mexico might have been involved.

Veracruz state fishing director Tomas Rubio said his office will try to determine if the rays were poisoned or otherwise affected by Petroleos Mexicanos. Officials also are looking into reports from witnesses who said fishermen dumped the rays. Chopped stingray wings are commonly served as snacks in Veracruz restaurants.

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