National briefs: House keeps food stamp cuts

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WASHINGTON -- The House voted on Wednesday to cut food stamps by $2 billion a year as part of a wide-ranging farm bill.

The chamber rejected, 234-188, a Democratic amendment to the five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm legislation that would have maintained current spending on food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The overall bill cuts the $80 billion-a-year program by about 3 percent and makes it harder for some people to qualify.

The food stamp cuts have complicated passage of the bill and its farm-state supporters were working to secure votes Wednesday.

Letter threatened Obama

WHEELING, W.Va. -- Federal authorities say a West Virginia man sent anonymous letters to the White House in which he threatened to kill President Barack Obama and his family because he didn't like black people running the country.

Ryan Kirker, 20, of McMechen, a hamlet south of Wheeling, mailed a letter in April that was filled with racial slurs in which he said he would kill the president, according to a federal grand jury in Elkins. He was arrested in May.

The U.S. attorney's office in Wheeling unsealed the charges Wednesday.

SEC targets wrongdoers

WASHINGTON -- The Securities and Exchange Commission will seek more admissions of wrongdoing from defendants as a condition of settling enforcement cases, the agency's chairman said.

At a Wall Street Journal CFO Network event Tuesday, SEC chairwoman Mary Jo White said the change in policy would probably apply to cases in which investors were significantly harmed and the alleged fraud was egregious. The former federal prosecutor said last month she was reviewing the practice of settling cases without requiring defendants to admit misconduct.

Empire State offer

NEW YORK -- Rubin Schron, a New York City real estate investor, offered to buy the Empire State Building for $2 billion in cash as the skyscraper's supervisor prepares to make it the centerpiece of an initial public offering.

Mr. Schron's company, Cammeby's International, submitted the bid Tuesday to the attorney for Malkin Holdings, which sparred with a minority of investors over its plan to consolidate the iconic tower and 20 other properties into a real estate investment trust.

Mr. Schron, a partial owner of lower Manhattan's Woolworth Building, would make a non-refundable deposit of $50 million when a contract is signed and complete the deal within 90 days, according to a letter by Stephen Meister, a lawyer representing opponents of the IPO.

Hoffa search ends

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The excavation of a field in suburban Detroit has failed to turn up the remains of former Teamsters union leader Jimmy Hoffa, the FBI announced Wednesday, adding another unsuccessful chapter to a nearly 40-year-old mystery.

Authorities stopped the dig after just a few hours on the third day.

Northwest bridge reopens

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. -- Cars and trucks are rolling again across the Interstate 5 Skagit River bridge, restoring the traffic flow on the main route between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia.

A temporary span opened Wednesday morning, replacing a section of the bridge that collapsed May 23 when it was struck by a truck with an oversize load.



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