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  |   Jan. 8, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Poll: Obama won fiscal cliff debate

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Polling done since Congress and U.S. President Barack Obama reached a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff shows Obama coming out on top.

This, despite the fact the Pew Center for the People and the Public said the nation remains split on its opinion of the legislation -- 38 percent approve of it; 41 percent do not.

When asked "Who got more of what they wanted in the legislation?" voters overwhelmingly said they think Obama was the winner. Fifty-seven percent thought Obama came out ahead in the deal, while just 20 percent thought the GOP did. Conservative voters were particularly sanguine, with 74 percent thinking the Democratic president bested congressional Republicans.

When asked whether or not they approved of how the two sides handled the dispute, just 14 percent of independent voters in the poll said they approved of the GOP's actions. Conversely, 41 percent of independents approved of Obama's role in the debate -- and 48 percent of respondents overall said the same.

Democrats overwhelmingly approved of Obama's job relating to the deal, which raised income taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Eighty-nine percent of self-identified Democrats approved of Obama's fiscal cliff job performance.

The Pew poll surveyed 1,003 people using landlines and cellphones Jan. 3-6. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.


Clergy abuse file release to name names

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A Los Angeles judge has ruled names of religious leaders who mishandled sex abuse claims must be included in internal Catholic Church records released publicly.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias ruled Monday the release of 30,000 pages of Archdiocese of Los Angeles documents should include the names of archdiocesan officials, as well as the names of priests who had been accused of single acts of molestation.

The documents are to be released under terms of a 2007 settlement between the archdiocese and more than 500 sexual abuse victims.

The ruling overturned a decision of a private mediator, who had said those names should be redacted when the records are made public, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Don't you think the public has a right to know ... what was going on in their own church," Elias asked an attorney for the archdiocese, the largest in the United States.

The church has paid more than $720 million to settle abuse cases involving more than 200 priests during a span of several decades. The files include confidential personnel records encompassing psychiatric and investigative reports, documented complaints by victims' parents and correspondence with the Vatican.

An attorney for the archdiocese said it could take months to review the records and restore names of archdiocesan officials that had already been edited out, the Times reported.


'Dating Game' killer Alcala sentenced

NEW YORK, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A serial killer previously sentenced to death in California has been sentenced to 25 years to life in New York for the murders of two women in 1971 and 1977.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Bonnie Wittner handed the sentenced down Monday against Rodney Alcala, 69, for killing Cornelia Crilley in 1971 and Ellen Hover in 1977.

Alcala pleaded guilty in December to killing Crilley and Hover, who were both 23 when they died.

He was convicted in 1980 and sentenced to death in California for killing two women in 1977. He won two appeals in the case but was eventually found guilty of the murders of four women and a 12-year-old girl, who were all killed between 1977 and 1979 in Los Angeles suburbs.

The judge in New York cried as she imposed the sentence Monday, CNN reported.

"This kind of case, I have never experienced, and I hope to never again," she said.

Alcala was nicknamed the "Dating Game Killer" because he appeared in 1978 on the TV show of the same name while he was carrying out a series of murders.


Maduro: Chavez to miss inauguration date

CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, hospitalized in Cuba with cancer, will be unable to be sworn in to another term Thursday, his vice president said Tuesday.

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello read a statement from Nicolas Maduro in which the vice president said Chavez's doctors say he needs more time to recuperate from his cancer surgery, El Universal reported.

Maduro said Chavez's medical condition constitutes an "irrefutable" supervening reason for postponing the inauguration under Article 231 of the Constitution, the newspaper said.

The Catholic Church of Venezuela said Monday, however, it would be "morally unacceptable" for the government to alter the Constitution because of Chavez's health.

"At stake are the good of the country and the defense of ethics. To alter the Constitution to attain a political objective is morally unacceptable," the Venezuelan Bishops Conference said in a statement read by the group's president, Bishop Diego Padron.

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