In brief | Nation & world | 7-25-14


Air Algerie jetliner with 116 people on board crashes in rainstorm in restive Mali

OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

The plane, owned by Spanish company Swiftair and leased by Algeria’s flagship carrier, disappeared from radar less than an hour after it took off from Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou for Algiers.

French fighter jets, U.N. peacekeepers and others hunted for the wreckage of the MD-83 in the remote region, where scattered separatist violence may hamper an eventual investigation into what happened.

It was found about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border of Burkina Faso near the village of Boulikessi in Mali, a Burkina Faso presidential aide said.

“We sent men, with the agreement of the Mali government, to the site, and they found the wreckage of the plane with the help of the inhabitants of the area,” said Gen. Gilbert Diendere, a close aide to Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore and head of the crisis committee set up to investigate the flight.

Feds cap maximum fine this year for not buying health insurance at $2,448 per person

MIAMI — Federal officials have capped the amount of money scofflaws will be forced to pay if they don’t buy insurance this year at $2,448 per person and $12,240 for a family of five.

The amount is equal to the national average annual premium for a bronze level health plan. But only those with an income above about a quarter of a million dollars would benefit from the cap. Those making less would still have to pay as much as 1 percent of their annual income.

The penalty for the first year starts at $95 per adult or $47.50 per child under 18. The penalty for not buying insurance increases to 2 percent of income or $325, whichever is higher, for 2015. The fines are due when people file their 2014 taxes.

The figures, released late Thursday, are important because the White House has only provided theoretical caps in the past. Conservative lawmakers and groups that are critical of the Affordable Care Act encouraged consumers to skip buying insurance, arguing it would be cheaper to pay a $95 penalty, but often failed to mention the 1 percent clause.

The uninsured will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month they or their dependents don’t have either coverage or an exemption, according to the IRS.

2 planes carrying remains from Malaysian Airlines disaster arrive in the Netherlands

KHARKIV, Ukraine — Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

Human remains continue to be found a full week after the plane went down, underlining concerns about the halting and chaotic recovery effort at the sprawling site spread across farmland in eastern Ukraine. Armed separatists control the area and have hindered access by investigators.

All 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 — most of them Dutch citizens — were killed when the plane was shot down on July 17. U.S. officials say the Boeing 777 was probably shot down by a missile from territory held by pro-Russian rebels, likely by accident.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who says he fears some remains will never be recovered unless security is tightened, has proposed a multinational force mounted by countries such as Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia that lost citizens in the disaster. Abbott said Thursday he had dispatched 50 police officers to London to be ready to join any organization which may result.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was traveling with her Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans to Kiev to seek an agreement with the Ukraine government to allow international police to secure the wreckage, Abbott said.

House panel clears way for vote on suit against Obama over implementation of health care law

WASHINGTON — Over Democratic objections, Republicans cleared the way Thursday for a House vote on legislation authorizing an election-year lawsuit accusing President Barack Obama of failing to implement the 4-year-old health care law as it was written.

The vote in the Rules Committee was 7-4, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed.

Republicans say the lawsuit is necessary because Obama is exceeding his authority as president by failing to carry out legislation that Congress passed and he signed into law.

“The Constitution that we have sworn to uphold provides separate powers for each branch of the federal government, so that no single branch can trample upon the liberties of the American people,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, the Texas Republican who chairs the panel. “Unfortunately the president has ignored the requirements of the Constitution.”

Democrats swiftly countered that the suit is a political maneuver designed to improve Republican prospects in the November elections. In a statement released shortly after the vote, the party’s House leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, said constitutional law experts have said the suit is without merit.

By wire sources