National briefs: GOP warns sports leagues

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate's Republican leader is telling major league sports: Don't play with "Obamacare."

Following news that the administration has approached the National Football League and other sports leagues to help promote new insurance coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law, Sen. Mitch McConnell fired off a letter Friday crying foul.

The Kentucky Republican wrote that leagues risk damaging their inclusive and apolitical brand and could be seen as taking sides in a highly polarized debate,.

The letter went to the NFL, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the PGA and NASCAR.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said this week the administration is talking with the NFL and other groups to help promote the benefits of health insurance.

Uninsured people can start signing up Oct. 1 under the health care law.

IRS official waived rights?

WASHINGTON -- A House panel determined that IRS official Lois Lerner waived her right against self-incrimination by making a statement professing innocence before refusing to answer questions.

The Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 22-17 Friday. The committee's action sets up a confrontation with Ms. Lerner that may land in federal court if she still refuses to respond to questions about her role in applying tougher scrutiny to Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

Pipeline's critics disputed

WASHINGTON -- The type of crude oil that would be pumped through the Keystone XL pipeline is no more likely to corrode pipelines or heighten the chance of leaks than other kinds of petroleum, according to a study by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

The finding rebuts one concern raised by opponents of the controversial 1,700-mile Canada-to-Texas pipeline. They have long argued that pipelines are more prone to corrosion and leaks if they carry diluted bitumen, the tar-like substance extracted in Alberta mostly by strip-mining, mixed with chemicals and pumped at high pressure through pipeline networks to refineries.

Ex-rep. could forfeit homes

WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutors asked a judge Friday to let the government seize the homes of former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., and his wife, Sandi, in Washington and Chicago, plus an IRA he has worth almost $80,000.

Mr. Jackson, 48, will be sentenced Wednesday for looting his campaign treasury of $750,000. The government wants him to pay a $750,000 forfeiture plus restitution in the same amount.

Report faults Gitmo guards

MIAMI -- A U.S. military investigation found Guantanamo troops didn't follow their own rules, allowing a captive to take a fatal overdose of an anti-psychotic drug days after he was moved into a disciplinary cell from the detention center's psychiatric ward.

A 79-page report, released Friday under the Freedom of Information Act, showed the "standard operating procedures," or SOP, governing U.S. Army Military Police required soldiers to regularly check on captives kept in solitary cells at Camp 5, Guantanamo's maximum-security lockup.

Troops didn't do it for at least two shift changes before Yemeni captive Adnan Latif was discovered dead on the floor of his Camp 5 cell at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba on Sept. 8, 2012.

Heat wave grips Southwest

PHOENIX -- A blazing heat wave expected to send the mercury soaring to nearly 120 degrees in Phoenix and Las Vegas settled over the West on Friday, threatening to ground airliners and raising fears that people and pets will get burned on the scalding pavement.

The heat was so punishing that rangers took up positions at trailheads at Lake Mead in Nevada to persuade people not to hike. And tourists at California's Death Valley took photos of the harsh landscape and a thermometer that read 121.

The mercury there was expected to reach nearly 130 on Friday -- just short of the 134-degree reading from a century ago that stands as the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth.



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