By Edith Honan NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his final major policy speech before leaving office at year's end, on Wednesday warned that a budding U.S. urban revival is threatened by mushrooming public pension and health-care costs. Bloomberg, addressing the Economic Club of New York just two weeks before his three terms in office are due to end, said the "golden age of the suburb is over, and it has been replaced by a new urban renaissance that is re-defining the future." But he also urged the nation to confront what he said was the biggest looming crisis facing cities: exploding public pension and health-care costs. "It is forcing government into a fiscal straight jacket that severely limits its ability to provide an effective social safety net," Bloomberg said. Bloomberg argued that exploding pension costs faced by the city have limited what it can spend on other priorities such as affordable housing and called on his successor, Bill de Blasio, to take up "comprehensive benefit reform." He also echoed President Dwight Eisenhower's critique of the "military-industrial complex" by repeatedly criticizing what he termed the "labor electoral complex." After the speech, Harry Nespoli, chairperson of the Municipal Labor Committee, fired back with a statement.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate lined up Wednesday to give final congressional approval to legislation scaling back across-the-board cuts on programs ranging from the Pentagon to the national park system, adding a late dusting of bipartisanship to a year more likely to be remembered for a partial government shutdown and near-perpetual gridlock.
The bankruptcy judge overseeing Detroit's bankruptcy case on Wednesday suspended a hearing on a $350 million post-petition financing to end interest-rate swaps, urging the city to renegotiate the deal. The hearing was scheduled to continue through Thursday, but U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven Rhodes asked Detroit instead to use the time scheduled for court to hash out details of an agreement.
DETROIT (AP) — Christie's auction house has completed its final report on the value of about 2,800 city-owned pieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts and has offered alternatives to a potential sale to satisfy creditors during the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The first criminal trial produced by the Justice Department's sweeping probe of BP's massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ended Wednesday with a jury convicting a drilling engineer of trying to obstruct investigators by deleting text messages from his cellular phone.
A gunman who shot and killed a doctor and wounded two other people in a medical office in Reno, Nevada, before taking his own life was apparently not acting randomly but his motives remain unknown, police said Wednesday. The shooting, the latest in a rash of deadly gun violence in public places in the United States this year, occurred Tuesday afternoon inside a building adjacent to the Renown Regional Medical Center, Reno Deputy Police Chief Tom Robinson said. He killed doctor Charles Gara Gholdoian, 46, a urologist, and injured a patient, Shawntae Spears, 20. "We're still trying to piece together the timeline of events," Deputy Police Chief Mac Venzon told reporters.
By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - Tuesday's Mega Millions jackpot, which swelled to an estimated $648 million due to a spike in last-minute sales, will be split between two winning tickets purchased in Georgia and California, a lottery official said on Wednesday. The lucky winners, who purchased tickets in Atlanta and San Jose, California, had not come forward as of Wednesday afternoon, lottery officials said. The winners can each choose whether to take their half of the $648 million as an annuity paid over 30 years or as a lump sum cash payout worth an estimated $173.8 million to each of them, or $347.6 million in total, said John Hagerty, a spokesman for Virginia's lottery. Young Soo Lee, who owns a Gateway Newsstand in Atlanta's affluent Buckhead area, said she was thrilled to learn from local television news that someone had purchased a winning ticket at her store.
Some technical experts are perplexed at the U.S. government's plan to switch web hosts for its new health insurance portal, HealthCare.gov, in the midst of an expected last-minute rush to beat a March 31 enrollment deadline for 2014 coverage. Switching hosts is not in and of itself a huge risk if it is done carefully and with lots of preparation, according to technical experts interviewed by Reuters. It already has a poor technological track record in carrying out President Barack Obama's signature health law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is intended to provide millions of uninsured with medical coverage. The timing of the change in host services "is nonsensical in all dimensions," said Peter Neupert, who managed similar transitions when he ran drugstore.com, a website he took public in 1999, and while working as a corporate vice president at Microsoft Corp. "Why would you plan for a big transition six months after going live?" said Neupert, now an operating partner with Health Evolution Partners, a private equity firm that invests in health companies.