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  |   May 3, 2012 at 10:00 PM
GOP budget would cut social programs

WASHINGTON, May 3 (UPI) -- Republicans were putting the final touches on a U.S. budget that would preserve defense spending at the expense of social programs, Politico reported Thursday.

The House Budget Committee is to meet Monday on the 10-year package, and Republicans hope to avoid new taxes Democrats have demanded.

Under the GOP spending plan, monthly food stamp benefits would be cut by the end of summer. Unemployed workers would stop receiving benefits until their cash savings fall below $2,000. And working-class parents, many of them Latino, wouldn't receive child tax credit refunds if they don't prove they're authorized to work in the United States.

House Republicans are taking up the budget after adopting another round of tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million a year, Politico said.

The House budget plans aren't expected to win passage in the Democratic Senate.

But the budget reflects a national debate over spending for defense and social programs as well as taxes going into November elections.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., argued at Georgetown University the GOP budget priorities are moral and went so far as quoting Pope Benedict XVI to make his case the national debt needs to be dealt with in this generation and shouldn't be passed on.

And, Ryan said, "Government safety-net programs have been stretched to the breaking point -- failing the very citizens who need help the most."

But among other critics, the Roman Catholic bishops came out against the House budget, saying it would disproportionately cut programs that serve poor and vulnerable people.


Police: 5 shooting deaths not planned

GILBERT, Ariz., May 3 (UPI) -- The shooting deaths of five people in an Arizona home were the result of a domestic-violence incident and not a planned attack, investigators said Thursday.

Gilbert police said suspected gunman J.T. Ready, who was running for Pinal County sheriff, went on a shooting spree in the home Wednesday, killing 47-year-old Lisa Mederos; her daughter, 23-year-old Amber Mederos; Amber's boyfriend Jim Hiott, 24; and the couple's 15-month-old daughter, Lilly, The Arizona Republic reported Thursday.

Investigators believe Ready, whose relationship to the family was not reported, then turned the gun on himself.

"Our investigation is directing us to murder-suicide," said Sgt. Bill Balafas. "There is no indication of outside players at all."

A woman inside the house who survived the attack said she heard arguing and gunshots, though police are still searching for a motive.

Balafas said the family living at the house had called police several times in the past for reports of domestic violence, though he could not verify if Ready was involved in those incidents.


ICE agent shot dead, teen son arrested

CARSON, Calif., May 3 (UPI) -- California authorities arrested the 14-year-old son of a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot to death, officials said Thursday.

The agent, whose name was not reported, died Wednesday after a single shot was fired into his Carson home, hitting him in the head, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Lt. Holly Francisco said the teen, whose name was not reported, allegedly fired the shot using his father's ICE-issued handgun from the family's back yard. Police have not determined a motive for the shooting, she told the Times.

"This was a domestic violence incident," she said.

The agent, 40, had been with ICE for four years. He is the second Los Angeles-area ICE agent to be killed by gunfire this year.


Kenyan troops fire on Somali insurgents

QOQANI, Somalia, May 3 (UPI) -- Kenyan armed forces Thursday launched an attack on al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab training bases in Somalia's southern region, witnesses said.

Local residents told Shabelle Media Network they saw Kenyan troops open mortar fire on rebel bases at Qoqani, an insurgent stronghold in the Lower Jubba region.

The witnesses said they observed many injured taken to hospitals for treatment, though the number of casualties was not reported.

Gunmen Wednesday shot to death a Somali journalist in Galka'yo. Farhan Jeemis Abdulle was gunned down as he walked to his home after leaving work, a colleague said.

He was the fifth journalist to be killed in Somalia this year, Shabelle said.

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