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Oct. 1, 2012 at 4:59 PM
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Fiscal cliff jump? $3,500 per household

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Nearly nine in 10 households would see their tax bills increase if the so-called fiscal cliff take effect, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center said Monday.

The report indicated the U.S. Treasury would be owed $536 billion more in 2013 if something isn't done to avert the fiscal cliff -- the name given to what would happen if nothing were done to prevent the tax increases from taking effect, The Hill reported.

The average household would see an increase of nearly $3,500, the report said.

While all households in all tax brackets would be affected, the policy changes would not be the same for all income levels, the report said.

The lowest-earning households would be hit by the end of the payroll tax cut and enhancements of tax breaks such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the report said.

On the higher end, the biggest impact would come from the expiration of tax rates on income and capital gains enacted during the George W. Bush presidency and tax increases included in the 2010 healthcare overhaul, the document said.

Taxpayers in the middle would be affected by the loss of the payroll tax cut and the return tax rates to the levels under President Clinton, the report said.

Court weighs int'l human rights law case

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court heard arguments on whether foreign victims of torture or other international law violations may sue their alleged perpetrators in U.S. courts.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. told the court Monday it should block civil claims against foreign companies for alleged wrongs happening overseas, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In the case, several Nigerian plaintiffs sued the Shell Oil Co., for allegedly aiding the former Nigerian regime in a campaign of torture, murder and imprisonment against opponents of oil drilling during the 1990s.

Verrilli said if the alleged perpetrator of abuses lived in the United States, it would be a different story. Shell, however, is owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum, and a suit could be filed the Netherlands, he said.

"There is no connection to the United States at all," he said, adding that the United States did not want to antagonize other countries by allowing such suits.

Los Angeles attorney Paul Hoffman said such claims should be decided in the United States because an 18th century law allows courts to hear claims for "a violation of the law of nations."

Ahmadinejad's cameraman defects to U.S.

NEW YORK, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The photographer who accompanied Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United States last week has applied for asylum, his lawyer said Monday.

Hassan Golkanbhan arrived with the Iranian delegation to photograph Ahmadinejad's address to the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, and filed documents to remain in the United States, attorney Paul O'Dwyer said.

"Once you've filed, which Hassan has, you are legally allowed to remain in the U.S., so we've gotten him that initial protection," O'Dwyer said.

Golkanbhan's whereabouts are unclear, and O'Dwyer offered no other details, CNN said Monday.

8 dead in Hong Kong ferry-boat crash

HONG KONG, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A ferry loaded with people on a company outing collided with a smaller boat off Hong Kong Monday night, resulting in at least eight deaths, authorities said.

Police said 101 people were rescued after the 8:30 p.m. accident near Lamma Island.

The South China Morning Post said there were 124 people aboard the ferry, including three crew members and 121 Hong Kong Electric employees and their families. They were on their way to watch the National Day fireworks display over Victoria Harbor, a company spokesman said.

It wasn't known how many were aboard the second vessel, which was described as a kaito, or small ferry, by the Post and as a tugboat by Xinhua News Agency.

An unidentified man who was aboard the ferry said the other boat "cashed into ours from the side at very high speed."

"The rear of the ferry started to sink," the man said. "I suddenly found myself deep under the sea. I swam hard and tried to grab a life buoy. I don't know where my two kids are."

Khost blast kills Afghan, coalition troops

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- A suicide bomber detonated his vest at a center in Khost as coalition and Afghan troops passed Monday, killing 20 troops, police and civilians, witnesses said.

The International Security Assistance Force said three coalition members and a civilian translator died in the blast, but didn't specify the location of the blast or provide other information in its release.

However, The New York Times reported the suicide bombing occurred in a gathering place as the patrol walked by, and 16 Afghan police officers and civilians were killed in addition to the three ISAF soldiers and translator.

Six police officers were among the dead and 59 Afghans were among the injured, provincial officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

"A foreign and Afghan force joint convoy was targeted this morning ... in the vicinity of the Khost governor's office, while the soldiers were dismounted in the area," the Taliban said in a statement released to the media.

Local officials said it was the third time in which targets were in the city of Khost, the capital of the eastern province of the same name.

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