In brief | Nation & World, November 11, 2013


Republicans seize on health law’s growing problems to slam Dems

WASHINGTON — The health care law’s seemingly endless problems are giving congressional Republicans a much-needed boost of energy, helping them to move past the government-shutdown debacle and focus on a theme for next year’s elections.

Republicans are back on offense, and more quickly than many had expected, after seeing their approval ratings plunge during last month’s partial shutdown and worrisome talk of a possible U.S. debt default.

They pillory administration officials at Capitol Hill hearings. They cite the millions of people getting dropped by insurers despite President Barack Obama’s promise that it wouldn’t happen. They harp on the program’s flawed enrollment process.

Now they’re relishing Obama’s apology to those who are losing health insurance plans he had repeatedly said they could keep.

“If the president is truly sorry for breaking his promises to the American people, he’ll do more than just issue a halfhearted apology on TV,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement.

Syria activists say rebels reach deal easing blockade

BEIRUT — Government officials and rebels reached a deal to ease a weeks-long blockade on a rebel-held town near the Syrian capital on Sunday, allowing food to reach civilians there for the first time in weeks, activists said.

The truce is the latest to be struck in recent months between President Bashar Assad’s government and disparate rebel groups in the country’s more than 2 ½-year-old conflict.

It comes as the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group was holding the second of two days of meetings in Istanbul to decide whether to attend a proposed peace conference the U.S. and Russia are trying to convene in Geneva by the end of this year.

Miley Cyrus twerks with a dwarf, smokes a joint and wins best video

AMSTERDAM — In an unabashed — and likely successful — bid for attention, singer Miley Cyrus smoked a joint on stage and twerked with a dwarf during the MTV Europe Music Awards.

The 20-year old singer also won the Best Video award for her hit song “Wrecking Ball.”

Sunday’s strong lineup of performers also included Eminem and Katy Perry.

Cyrus opened the space-themed show singing the song “We Can’t Stop,” while wearing a silver spandex suit and gyrating her buttocks in the move known as twerking.

PG-13 movies exceed R rating for violence, troubling study shows

The prevalence of gun violence in top PG-13 movies has more than tripled since the rating was introduced in the mid-1980s, and last year it eclipsed even the amount in R-rated movies, according to findings to be published today in the journal Pediatrics.

The authors said their findings are particularly troubling given considerable research into what has been called the “weapons effect,” which suggests that depiction of gun violence in media could lead to more aggressive behavior in the real world.

“We know that movies teach children how adults behave, and they make gun use appear exciting and attractive,” said Dan Romer, another co-author and the director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Pennsylvania.

Researchers said they excluded violence not intended to harm anyone, such as accidents and run-of-the-mill sports aggression. They also excluded activities such as hunting and the use of large-scale weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades and military artillery.

In the end, they found that violence in films had more than doubled since 1950, and that violence had tripled in PG-13 films over the past quarter-century. In addition, while PG-13 movies initially had only about as much violence as G- and PG-rated films, since 2009 they have contained as much violence as R-rated films, or more.

By wire reports