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November 26, 2014

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Nation and world news briefs

NATION

Congressman pleads guilty to cocaine possession

WASHINGTON — Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., pled guilty in a soft voice Wednesday to one count of cocaine possession and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation.

Busted following an undercover sting outside a Washington, D.C. restaurant on Oct. 29, the conservative freshman lawmaker acknowledged that he is an addict and pledged to enter a residential treatment program near his hometown of Naples, Fla.

The 37-year-old ``tea party’’ favorite said he has already begun out-patient counseling in Washington, D.C., though the exact nature of his addiction was not specified during the 25-minute court hearing Wednesday morning.

—McClatchy Washington Bureau

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Serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin executed in Missouri

BONNE TERRE, Mo. — Missouri has executed Joseph Paul Franklin, a white supremacist killer who targeted blacks and Jews during a multistate crime spree from 1977-1980.

Franklin, 63, was put to death for the 1977 sniper killing of Gerald Gordon at a suburban St. Louis synagogue. The U.S. Supreme Court early Wednesday upheld a federal appeals court decisions overturning stays granted Tuesday by federal judges in Jefferson City, Mo., and St. Louis.

The execution was the first in Missouri using a single drug, pentobarbital.

Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement: “The cowardly and calculated shootings outside a St. Louis-area synagogue were part of Joseph Paul Franklin’s long record of murders and other acts of extreme violence across the country, fueled by religious and racial hate.”

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Homeland Security nominee advances to full Senate

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security moved a step closer to confirmation Wednesday, advancing to the full Senate after a swift committee vote.

At a time when many top presidential appointments have been blocked by Senate Republicans, Jeh Johnson’s nomination has proved remarkably smooth thus far. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee took just moments to approve Johnson with a voice vote during a meeting Wednesday, less than a week after his confirmation hearing.

—Tribune Washington Bureau

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Report: Detroit bankruptcy caused by state cuts, shrinking tax base

WASHINGTON — A New York-based think tank released a report Wednesday questioning Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s assertion that the city’s long-term debt is responsible for its fiscal problems or that pension contributions are a major hurdle for the city’s finances.

Instead, the report by Wallace Turbeville, a senior fellow at Demos, a public policy organization, said Detroit’s decline into bankruptcy was caused by a steep decline in revenues partially due both to a shrinking tax base and deep cuts in state revenue-sharing with the city.

“By cutting revenue sharing with the city, the state effectively reduced its own budget challenges on the backs of the taxpayers of Detroit,” Turbeville wrote. “These cuts account for nearly a third of the city’s revenue losses between (fiscal year) 2011 and FY 2013. ... Furthermore, the Legislature placed strict limits on the city’s ability to raise revenue itself to offset these losses.”

—Detroit Free Press

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Billy Graham hospitalized with respiratory ailment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly two weeks after celebrating his 95th birthday, the Rev. Billy Graham is back in the hospital for respiratory problems.

The Charlotte-born evangelist, who lives in Montreat, N.C., was taken to Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. on Tuesday.

“Mr. Graham is in the hospital with a respiratory congestion issue, similar to what he had a few weeks ago,” Graham’s spokeswoman, Mark DeMoss, said in a statement. “As was the case then, we expect he will be able to return home in a day or two.”

—The Charlotte Observer

WORLD

Nuclear talks resume between Iran, six world powers

GENEVA — International negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program resumed here Wednesday, with the U.S. team under growing pressure to deliver an interim deal as soon as possible.

Ten days after the last round broke off just short of the finish line, the Americans joined representatives of five other world powers and Iran in talks that are scheduled to run at least through Friday.

The six world powers met among themselves Wednesday morning, and were scheduled to meet with the Iranian team later Wednesday or Thursday following a lunch between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, who is the point person for the world powers.

—Tribune Washington Bureau

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US Ambassador to China Gary Locke to resign

BEIJING — Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American ambassador to Beijing, said Wednesday he will leave his post early next year to rejoin his wife and three children in Seattle.

The former Commerce Secretary and two-term governor of Washington said that his reasons were purely personal, revolving around the education of his children, two of whom are in high school.

“We wanted our kids to have junior and senior year of high school back in the United States,” Locke said in a telephone interview on Wednesday from the Beijing Airport, where he was about to fly on a trade mission to Kunming in southwestern China.

—Los Angeles Times

Distributed by MCT Information Services

McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)