Sen. Chambliss shrugs off anti-tax pledge
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said he doesn't think abiding by conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge helps avoid the looming fiscal cliff.
Though he signed the pledge, Chambliss said strictly adhering to it will prevent Republicans and Democrats from working together to find a solution for the country's ballooning debt, CNN reported.
"I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge," Saxby said Wednesday. "If we do it [Norquist's] way, then we'll continue in debt and I just have a disagreement with him about that."
The Tea Party Nation website quickly labeled Chambliss "worthless" and "a liar," CNN reported.
"To call Chambliss an idiot is to insult people of lower intelligence," Tea Party Nation blogger Judson Phillips wrote, adding Chambliss is the worst RINO -- Republican in Name Only. "Chambliss is a poster child for every thing that is wrong with the political class in Washington.
"If you are a worthless Republican politician and you want some good press from the liberal media all you have to do now days is say you are considering abandoning your pledge not to raise taxes."
Thirty-eight senators and 219 House members have signed the pledge by Norquist, who heads the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform. About one dozen newly elected House members refused to sign the document, though, The Hill reported.
To avoid the impending Jan. 1 fiscal cliff when hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to begin, President Barack Obama has proposed tax increases for wealthy Americans. Republicans, though, prefer closing certain tax loopholes and eliminating deductions.
Chambliss said "Norquist has no plan to pay this debt down."
He said he's "willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves."
Abortion debate persists in Ireland
DUBLIN, Ireland, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The medical records of an India-born dentist who died in Ireland during a miscarriage don't show her requests for an abortion, a lawyer for her husband says.
Dr. Savita Halappanavar asked doctors at a hospital in Galway to terminate her pregnancy after they told her the fetus wasn't viable, her husband says. He said they were told that could only be done when the fetus had no heartbeat.
Medical records turned over to Praveen Halappanavar include notes on requests for tea and extra blankets but there are no notes for Oct. 22, the day the Halappanavar's requested an abortion, the Irish Independent reported. There are notes for Oct. 23 but they don't include a reference to a second requested to terminate the abortion, the newspaper said.
Gerard O'Donnell, who is representing Praveen Halappanavar, said the Indian ambassador will ask for an independent investigation, The New York Times reported Friday. Halappanavar has said he won't deal with the Irish Health Service Executive.
"I have seen the way my wife was treated in the hospital, so I have no confidence that the HSE will do justice," he told RTE, the Irish national TV channel, Wednesday. "Basically, I don't have any confidence in the HSE."
Irish Minister for Health James Reilly denied the absence of notes on Savita Halappanavar's request for an abortion mean the HSE inquiry is a shambles. He said the missing notes are "a concern and this is a substantive matter for the investigation," and he would welcome an inquiry into the matter by the Health Information and Quality Authority.
"I would hope to have a full report before Christmas and the HIQA report as well," Reilly said.
Savita Halappanavar's death has focused attention on Ireland's abortion laws. The Irish Supreme Court ruled in 1992 abortions can be performed if there is a "real and substantial risk" to the mother's life but the Parliament has never enacted laws that would protect doctors who perform such procedures.
Robert Dowds, a Labor member of Parliament, said Wednesday during a debate Ireland's proximity to Britain has allowed the country to evade the issue.
"The reality is that if Britain wasn't on our doorstep, we would have had to introduce abortion legislation years ago to avoid women dying in back-street abortions," he said.
A resolution asking the government to enforce the Irish Supreme Court decision failed 88-53.
Syrian rebels: Route to Iraq now open
DAMASCUS, Syria, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Rebels say they have "liberated" an Army base in northeastern Syria on a key supply route with Iraq as 60 people were reported killed in fighting Friday.
The artillery base is near the town of Mayadeen in Deir al-Zour province, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported. Gaining control of the area would allow the rebels to bring in weapons and fighters from Iraq.
"The military base was liberated early this morning. It was under siege for 15 days," an activist using the name Mohammed Saleh said Thursday. "This is the last military base in the countryside. Now the territory is liberated all the way to the borders with Iraq."
The province is also the location of much of Syria's oil, and the rebels now control two of the three biggest oil fields, the Telegraph said.
Saleh said the government of President Bashar Assad has withdrawn troops from the area to shore up the defenses of Damascus. But government forces remain in Deir al-Zour city, the sixth-largest in the country, and fierce fighting continued there, rebels said.
"There is shelling night and day. The bridges that cross the Euphrates River and connect the city together have been targeted by air strikes and destroyed," a young man using the name Abu Wissam told the Telegraph.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported 61 deaths across Syria including seven children. Twenty-two people were reported killed in Damascus and the surrounding area, 12 in Aleppo, five in Hama, four each in Daraa, Lattakia, Deir al-Zor and Idlib, two each in Homs and Raqqa and one each in Tartus and Kenitra.
Gas explosion in Springfield, Mass.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Nov. 23 (UPI) -- An explosion caused by a gas leak in Springfield, Mass., Friday night left several people injured, including two firefighters, officials said.
Eight people were being treated for non-critical injuries at Baystate Medical Center's emergency room, spokeswoman Jane Albert told WWLP-TV, Springfield.
Another eight patients, including two firefighters, were at Mercy Medical Center, spokeswoman Mary Orr said.
A Columbia Gas spokesperson told the TV station two workers were injured in the explosion but were expected to survive.
The explosion knocked people standing nearby to their feet, and it could be heard from as far away as Hardwick, Granby, Belchertown and Monson, the report said.