'Fiscal Cliff' Talks Stalling

White House, GOP not budging

Posted: December 04, 2012

WASHINGTON - The proverbial "fiscal cliff" is getting closer and closer, but the two sides tasked with negotiating a solution seem to be moving further away.

Republicans have to stop using "political math" and say how much they are willing to raise tax rates on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, President Obama's surrogate, said on Sunday.

House Speaker John Boehner countered that Republicans have a plan for providing $800 billion in new government revenue over the next decade and would consider the elimination of tax deductions on high-income earners.

Boehner's and Geithner's latest remarks indicate it could be some time before serious negotiations begin between the White House and Republicans on how to avert economic calamity expected in less than a month when many tax cuts expire and across-the-board spending cuts kick in.

Congo rebels threaten to return

GOMA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - Days after capturing and then abandoning the Congolese city of Goma, rebels believed to be backed by Rwanda said Sunday they would march right back in if the government does not agree to negotiate with them by Monday.

The M23 rebels completed their withdrawal from the strategic eastern city on Saturday, in compliance with an agreement reached between the rebel group and a regional body, but are now threatening to return because, they say, the government has not met their demands for political reform.

Code cracked - three centuries later


PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A mysterious code used by Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island in 1644 and was the first U.S. figure to argue for the separation of church and state, has been cracked by a team of Brown University students.

Williams' code consisted of 28 symbols that stand for a combination of letters or sounds. His decoded writings detail his thoughts on infant baptism, a major theological issue of the day, as well as the treatment of Native Americans, which he described as coercive.

Serbian vampire on the loose

ZAROZJE, SERBIA - Get your garlic, crosses and stakes ready: A bloodsucking vampire is on the loose.

Or so say villagers in the tiny western Serbian hamlet of Zarozje. After rumors spread, a local council warned villagers to put garlic in their pockets and place wooden crosses in their rooms to ward off vampires, although the move appears designed more to attract visitors to the impoverished region.

Many of the villagers are aware that the story of the supposed vampire - Sava Savanovic, Serbia's most famous bloodsucker - is a fairy tale. Still, they say, better to take it seriously than succumb to the vampire's fangs.

Youths booze, youths lose


HARRISBURG - Underage Pennsylvanians will face increased fines if they are caught drinking thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Tom Corbett set to go into effect Christmas Eve.

Senate Bill 941, sponsored by state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, increases first offenses from $300 to $500 and subsequent offenses from $500 to $1,000, according to a news release.

"It's a quality-of-life issue but also a safety issue, so it's important we take steps to deter behaviors like underage drinking and public drunkenness," Schwank said.

- Daily News wire services

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