Nation Briefs

House Republicans offer to extend borrowing limit

WASHINGTON – House Republican leaders Friday offered President Barack Obama a three-month reprieve to a looming, market-rattling debt crisis, backing off demands that any immediate extension of the government’s borrowing authority be accompanied by stiff spending cuts.

The retreat came with a caveat aimed at prodding Senate Democrats to pass a budget after almost four years of failing to do so: a threat to cut off the pay of lawmakers in either House or Senate if their chamber fails to pass a budget this year. House Republicans have passed budgets for two consecutive years.

The idea got a frosty reception from House Democrats but a more measured response from the White House and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Republicans hadn’t settled on full details, but the measure would give the government about three more months of borrowing authority beyond a deadline expected to hit as early as mid-February, No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor of Virginia said Friday.

Overcharging batteries suspect in 787 mishaps

WASHINGTON – It’s likely that burning lithium ion batteries on two Boeing 787 Dreamliners were caused by overcharging, aviation safety and battery experts said Friday, pointing to developments in the investigation of the Boeing incidents as well as a battery fire in a business jet more than a year ago.

An investigator in Japan, where a 787 made an emergency landing earlier this week, said the charred insides of the plane’s lithium ion battery show the battery received voltage in excess of its design limits.

The similarity of the burned battery from the All Nippon Airways flight to the burned battery in a Japan Airlines 787 that caught fire Jan. 7 while the jet was parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport suggests a common cause, Japan transport ministry investigator Hideyo Kosugi said.

N.Y. paper removes handgun-permit data

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The suburban New York newspaper that outraged gun owners by posting the names and addresses of residents with handgun permits removed the information from its website Friday.

The Journal News took down the data just three days after the state enacted a gun-control law that included privacy provisions for permit holders.

The provisions were a reaction to interactive maps the newspaper published on LoHud.com that pinpointed thousands of permit holders in Westchester and Rockland counties.

Ex-New Orleans mayor Nagin charged with bribery

NEW ORLEANS – Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted Friday on charges that he used his office for personal gain, accepting payoffs, free trips and gratuities from contractors while the city was struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

The charges against Nagin are the outgrowth of a City Hall corruption investigation that already has resulted in guilty pleas by two former city officials and two businessmen and a prison sentence for a former city vendor.

The federal indictment accuses Nagin of accepting more than $160,000 in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of a local businessman who secured millions of dollars in city contract work after the 2005 hurricane. The businessman, Frank Fradella, pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy to commit bribery and has been cooperating with federal authorities.

New nonprofit to promote President Obama’s agenda

WASHINGTON – In an unprecedented move, President Barack Obama’s vaunted political organization is being turned into a nonprofit group – funded in part by corporate money – to mobilize support behind the president’s second-term agenda.

The tax-exempt organization will be called Organizing for Action and seek to harness the energy of Obama’s re-election campaign for future legislative fights. Officials said the group will be separate from the Democratic National Committee and advocate on key policy issues such as gun control and immigration, train future leaders and devote attention to local issues around the country.

Associated Press