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Nation & World Briefs


Thursday, January 11, 2018
Missouri governor admits affair but denies blackmail

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — When Eric Greitens sought Missouri’s highest office, his resume seemed hard to top: former Navy SEAL, former Rhodes scholar and founder of a veterans’ charity. Most important, he said during the campaign, was his role as “a proud husband and father.”

On Thursday, the square-jawed 43-year-old was fighting allegations that he photographed a hairdresser naked while having an affair with her and threatened to publicize the image if she spoke about their relationship. The top prosecutor in St. Louis quickly launched an investigation, and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers asked the attorney general to investigate as well.

Greitens acknowledged being “unfaithful” in his marriage before he was elected governor but denied taking any naked photos and threatening the woman to stay quiet.

The bombshell report overshadowed his annual address to the Legislature and included blackmail allegations from the woman’s ex-husband, who secretly recorded a conversation with his ex-wife discussing the affair.

Trump puts work requirement in health care rules for poor

WASHINGTON — Rewriting the rules on health care for the poor, the Trump administration said Thursday it will allow states to require “able-bodied” Medicaid recipients to work, a hotly debated first in the program’s half-century history.

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said requiring work or community involvement can make a positive difference in people’s lives and in their health. The goal is to help people move from public assistance into jobs that provide health insurance. “We see people moving off of Medicaid as a good outcome,” she said.

But advocates said work requirements will become one more hoop for low-income people to jump through, and many could be denied needed coverage because of technicalities and challenging new paperwork. Lawsuits are expected as individual states roll out work requirements.

Walmart boosts starting pay, closing dozens of Sam’s Clubs

NEW YORK — Walmart confirmed Thursday that it is closing dozens of Sam’s Club warehouse stores — a move that a union-backed group estimated could cost thousands of jobs — on the same day the company announced that it was boosting its starting salary for U.S. workers and handing out bonuses.

The world’s largest private employer said it was closing 63 of its 660 Sam’s Clubs over the next weeks, with some shut already. Ten are being converted into e-commerce distribution centers, according to a company official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the decision publicly.

He said it was too early to say how many people overall would lose their jobs since some will be placed at other Walmart locations or rehired at the e-commerce sites. Making Change at Walmart, a campaign backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, estimates that 150 to 160 people work at each Sam’s Club store, meaning the closures could affect about 10,000 people.

Pope letter details concern over Chile bishop

SANTIAGO, Chile — The Vatican was so concerned about the fallout from Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest that it planned to ask three Chilean bishops accused of knowing about his decades-long crimes to resign and take a year’s sabbatical — a revelation that comes just days before Pope Francis makes his first visit to Chile as pope.

A confidential 2015 letter from Francis, obtained by The Associated Press, details the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the Vatican and Chile’s bishops to deal with the prelates connected to the disgraced Rev. Fernando Karadima. And it reveals the bishops’ concern about Francis naming a Karadima protege, Bishop Juan Barros, to the helm of the diocese of Osorno — an appointment that roiled the diocese, with hundreds of priests and lay Catholics staging protests against him.

Those protests are expected to greet Francis during his visit to Chile, which begins Monday.

Chile’s Catholic Church was thrown into crisis in 2010 when former parishioners publicly accused Karadima of sexually abusing them when they were minors, starting in the 1980s — accusations they had made years earlier to Chilean church leaders but that were ignored. The scandal grew as Chilean prosecutors and Vatican investigators took testimony from the victims, who accused Barros and other Karadima proteges of having witnessed the abuse and doing nothing about it.

Local governments won’t say what they’re offering Amazon

PHILADELPHIA — State and local governments have been more than happy to play up the amenities they think make their locations the best choice for Amazon’s second headquarters. But many of them will not disclose the tax breaks or other financial incentives they are offering the online giant.

More than 15 states and cities, including Chicago, Cleveland and Las Vegas, refused requests from The Associated Press to detail the promises they made to try to lure the company. Among the reasons given: Such information is a “trade secret” and disclosing it would put them at a competitive disadvantage.

“We want to be in the best possible position to negotiate. We don’t want the whole world to know our strategy, ” Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island said in a radio interview.

Amazon’s search for a second headquarters city has triggered an unprecedented competition among governments around North America to attract a $5 billion project that promises to create 50,000 jobs. The retailing behemoth has made clear that tax breaks and grants will be a big factor in its decision. It received 238 proposals and said it will announce a decision sometime this year.

Famed conductor faces 6 new sex claims, including 1 rape

SAN FRANCISCO — Six more women have stepped forward to accuse prominent conductor Charles Dutoit of sexually assaulting them in the United States, France and Canada, including a musician who says the maestro raped her in 1988.

The women say they were compelled to speak out after The Associated Press published a story Dec. 21 detailing accusations from three singers and a musician who said Dutoit forcibly restrained them, groped them and kissed them without permission.

The 81-year-old Grammy-winning conductor emphatically denied the accusations, but eight major orchestras immediately distanced themselves from him and two launched their own investigations.

The new accusers said they were angered by Dutoit’s initial denial and wanted to show the scope of his sexual misconduct during his globe-trotting career. They said the Swiss-born conductor attacked them in Paris, Montreal and the United States over a four-decade period, starting in the late 1970s.

From Associated Press