Senator faults health law
A senior Democratic senator who helped write President Barack Obama’s health care law stunned administration officials Wednesday, saying openly he thinks it’s headed for a “train wreck” because of bumbling implementation.
“I just see a huge train wreck coming down,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., told Obama’s health care chief during a routine budget hearing that suddenly turned tense.
Baucus is the first top Democrat to publicly voice fears about the rollout of the new health care law. Polls show that Americans remain confused by the complex law, and even many uninsured people are skeptical they will be helped by benefits that start next year.
A six-term veteran, Baucus is still trying to recover from approval ratings that nosedived amid displeasure with the health care law in his home state.
Assad pins blame on U.S.
Syria’s president accused the West on Wednesday of backing al-Qaida in his country’s civil war, warning it will pay a price “in the heart” of Europe and the United States as the terror network becomes emboldened.
Bashar Assad also lashed out at Jordan for allowing “thousands” of fighters to enter Syria through its borders and warned that the “fire will not stop at Syria’s border.”
The rare TV interview with the government-run Al-Ikhbariya channel marking Syria’s independence day comes as the embattled president’s military is fighting to reverse rebel advances, with a rocket attack killing at least 12 people in a central village on Wednesday.
Army unit headed to Jordan
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress on Wednesday that the Pentagon is sending about 200 soldiers from an Army headquarters unit to Jordan to assist efforts to contain violence along the Syrian border and plan for any operations needed to ensure the safety of chemical weapons in Syria.
The 1st Armored Division troops are largely planners and will replace a similar number of U.S. forces that have been in Jordan for some months. They will include specialists in intelligence, logistics and operations.
The unit is based at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Pink diamond sells for $39.3M
A rare pink diamond once owned by Indian royalty has sold for $39.3 million at auction in New York City.
The price for the 34.65-carat diamond that sold at Christie’s on Tuesday was the second-highest ever for a jewel sold at auction. The seller and buyer were anonymous.
The gem nicknamed the Princie Diamond was discovered 300 years ago in the Golconda mines in India.
It once belonged to the Nizam of Hyderabad, an Indian prince. In 1960, the diamond was purchased at auction by the London branch of the jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels.
Its name was bestowed at a party at the firm’s Paris store. It was called Princie in honor of the 14-year-old prince of Baroda, who attended the party with his mother, Maharani Sita Devi.