Morning News Briefs and Tuesday's Forecast

Posted: December 3, 2013

Winchester-Area Weather: A mini warm-up begins today under clear skies. We'll be about 6 degrees above normal today with a high of 53. Partly cloudy overnight with a low of 37. Perhaps a touch warmer at 54 for an overcast Wednesday, but the temperature will only drop to 47 Wednesday night. Then the "heat wave" day, a high of 63 on Thursday. There is, however, a 30 percent chance of rain.

Morning News Briefs from the Associated Press for Tuesday, December 3, 2013

NYC train derailment airs queries about technology
YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) — The revelation that a New York City commuter train derailed while barreling into a sharp curve at nearly three times the speed limit is fueling questions about whether automated crash-avoidance technology could have prevented the carnage. Safety authorities have championed what's known as positive train control technology for decades, but the railroad industry has sought to postpone having to install it because of the high cost and technological issues.

Updated healthcare.gov gets mixed reviews
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Counselors helping people use the federal government's online health exchange are giving mixed reviews to the updated site, with some zipping through the application process while others are facing the same old sputters and even crashes. The Obama administration had promised a vastly improved shopping experience on healthcare.gov by the end of November, and Monday was the first
business day since the date passed.

Thai protests ease as police lift key barricades
BANGKOK (AP) — Anti-government protesters swarmed into the Thai prime minister's office compound Tuesday as police stood by and watched, allowing them to claim a symbolic victory after three days of bitter clashes. The unexpected reversal in the government's strategy brings at least a lull in the violence before the revered king's 86th birthday later this week. Hundreds of protesters poured onto the lawn of Government House, waving Thai flags and blowing whistles. After speeches and shouts of "victory belongs to the people!" they left the compound an hour later, and the gates were locked again. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was not there at the time.

Detroit to get crucial ruling in bankruptcy case
DETROIT (AP) — A judge was expected to announce Tuesday whether Detroit can come up with a plan to get rid of $18 billion in debt in the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history, a case that ultimately could crack a shield protecting public pensions and also put the city's extraordinary art collection up for grabs. Judge Steven Rhodes will declare whether Detroit is eligible to stay in court, more than four months after filing for Chapter 9 protection. It's the most critical decision so far because it could give local officials a green light to scrub the balance sheet and slowly improve the quality of life in a city that has lost more than 1 million residents since 1950.

Egypt: Morsi's links to jihadists probed
CAIRO (AP) — During his year as president, Egypt's Mohammed Morsi cultivated ties with Islamic radicals, making them a key support for his rule by pardoning dozens of jailed militants, restraining the military from an all-out offensive against jihadis in Sinai and giving their hard-line sheiks a platform to spread their rhetoric. Now with Morsi ousted and imprisoned, investigators are looking into possibly putting him on trial for links to jihadis, accusing him and his Muslim Brotherhood of being behind a wave of violence by Sinai-based militants in retaliation for the July 3 military coup that removed the Islamists from power, military and security officials say.

Lawmakers convening special session on pensions
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois lawmakers were poised Tuesday to vote on a plan to solve the state's $100 billion pension crisis — a proposal many are calling the most important vote of their careers and one that could deeply reduce the retirement benefits of hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees. Gov. Pat Quinn and other supporters on Monday stressed the importance of the vote, saying approving the legislation is a crucial step toward improving Illinois' disastrous financial situation. Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, planned to travel to the state Capitol in Springfield and said he would meet with as many legislators as possible to try to get them to vote yes.

Biden: China air zone raises risk of accidents
TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden voiced strong opposition Tuesday to China's new air defense zone above a set of disputed islands, showing a united front with an anxious Japan as tension in the region simmered. Standing side by side in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Biden said the U.S. is "deeply concerned" about China's attempt to unilaterally change the status quo in the East China Sea.

Asian nations dominate international test
WASHINGTON (AP) — Teens from Asian nations dominated a global exam given to 15-year-olds, while U.S. students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading, according to test results released Tuesday. American students scored below the international average in math and about average in science and reading.

Japan food seeks heritage gong as young spurn rice
TOKYO (AP) — Washoku, the traditional cuisine of Japan, is being considered for designation as part of the world's priceless cultural heritage by the U.N. this week. But even as sushi and sake booms worldwide, purists say its finer points are candidates for the endangered list at home. The younger generation is increasingly eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts and McDonald's, not rice. Among cuisines, only French cooking has been distinguished as a national culinary tradition. Other picks by UNESCO for its World Heritage list, such as food from Mexico and Turkey, are more specific dishes. Washoku embraces seasonal ingredients, a unique taste, time consuming preparation and a style of eating steeped in centuries of tradition. At its heart is savory "umami," recognized as a fundamental taste along with sweet, sour, salty and bitter.