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May 25, 2011 at 10:00 PM   |   Comments

Senate rejects GOP budget measures

WASHINGTON, May 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Wednesday rejected a House-passed budget measure that would substantially restructure Medicare, with five Republicans voting against the plan.

The vote against the budget, introduced in the House by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was 57-40.

It came one day after a Democrat won a special election in a traditionally Republican New York state congressional district, in which the GOP candidate's support for the Ryan budget plan was widely seen as a major contributing factor in the outcome.

The Republican senators who voted with Democrats Wednesday were Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

The House passed the budget plan in April, with all but four Republican members voting in favor of it.

The Senate also voted Wednesday to reject two other GOP budget plans -- one by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and one by Paul -- that received only seven Republican votes, The Washington Post reported.


Joplin deals with aftermath of tornado

JOPLIN, Mo., May 25 (UPI) -- Joplin, Mo., Wednesday tried to deal with the aftermath of a deadly tornado, with the most damaged area barred to anyone without a reason to go there.

Officials announced plans are already being made for reconstruction of St. John's Regional Medical Center, a 400-bed hospital, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported. At a news conference, Dr. Sean Smith, who worked in the emergency room, said the hospital looks "like a bomb exploded inside."

The tornado, which cut a path of destruction through Joplin, killed at least 122 people, officials said Tuesday afternoon. More than 750 were treated at hospitals for injuries.

Four checkpoints were set up Wednesday morning around the area for emergency workers, volunteers and local residents trying to salvage their belongings. Hundreds of people lined up for pink placards identifying them as having legitimate business in the area.

Susan Warden, waiting in a line of about 400 people, told the Star her house had lost its roof and windows.

"We want to get back in and get what stuff we can out," she said. "We had other people's siding in our house."


Life term for Elizabeth Smart kidnapper

SALT LAKE CITY, May 25 (UPI) -- The Utah man who said he was divinely instructed to take young wives was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for kidnapping and raping Elizabeth Smart.

Brian David Mitchell sat singing hymns through most of the hearing, the Deseret News reported. He did not look at Smart when she spoke to him.

"I don't have very much say to you. I know exactly what you did, and I know that you know what you did was wrong and you did it with a full knowledge of that," she said. "I want you to know that I have a wonderful life now. No matter what you do, you will never affect me again. You took away nine months of my life that can never be returned. But I know that in this life or the next you will be held responsible for what you have done and I hope you're ready for that when it comes."

Smart, 23, was 14 when Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, abducted her from her bedroom in June 2002. She was kept as Mitchell's second wife, living with the couple in an encampment and traveling with them to California.

Mitchell, 53, was a homeless street preacher at the time. His trial was delayed for years by questions about his competency.


Fear of chaos paralyzes Yemeni capital

SANAA, Yemen, May 25 (UPI) -- Yemenis barricaded their homes and neighborhoods as fear gripped Sanaa Wednesday after the collapse of a transition deal, witnesses said.

Factions supporting and opposing President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who refused Sunday to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council deal to surrender power, blocked streets, the Yemen Observer reported.

"I went home and tried to arm myself by any means because I was afraid that if the president signs the initiative they will start looting and messing up the streets," said Mohammed Abdullah.

Bus passenger Salma Ahmad described a window-smashing attack by Saleh supporters as security forces stood by and did nothing.

Residents armed with guns and sticks guarded their neighborhoods against looters and many, especially women, stayed in their homes.

Yemeni aviation authorities closed Sanaa International Airport. Outgoing flights were suspended and incoming flights were diverted to other airports, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Citing an aviation official, Xinhua said the decision to close the airport was made "upon directions from the Yemeni political leadership."

At the offices of the government news agency Saba, journalist Farook al-Kamali was shot in the foot when tribesmen opposing Saleh attacked the building Monday, colleagues said.

Journalist Hassan al-Warith said Saba was bombarded with rocket-propelled grenades and other gunfire.

The attackers said the news agency and other government buildings were being used to attack the nearby compound of their tribal leader.

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