National news briefs: 7/6/13

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Pentagon set for furloughs

WASHINGTON -- More than 650,000 civilian Defense Department workers will begin taking the first of their 11 unpaid days off next week, but the cut in salary they will see in the three months may pale compared to what officials worry could be larger scale layoffs next year.

Roughly 85 percent of the department's nearly 900,000 civilians around the world will be furloughed, according to the latest statistics provided by the Pentagon. But while defense officials were able to shift money around to limit the furloughs this year, there are widespread worries that if automatic budget cuts go forward for 2014, thousands of civilian, military and contract jobs could be on the chopping block.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to provide senators with more details early next week on how the next wave of across-the-board budget cuts will affect the department, said Pentagon press secretary George Little.

Clergy-abuse payouts

MILWAUKEE -- Clergy sex abuse victims have long accused the Archdiocese of Milwaukee of spending more money on lawyers to protect itself than to care for those who suffered at the hands of abusive priests.

An Associated Press analysis of documents released this week found most of the $30 million the archdiocese paid out through mid-2012 went to victim settlements and therapy, but the bulk of it went to just a few victims -- while hundreds of others got no money at all.

The archdiocese released the records as part of a deal with victims suing it for fraud in federal bankruptcy court. The documents cover 88 settlements worth at least $6.6 million and provide the first detailed look at which victims were paid, how much and when. Until this week, the archdiocese had only released annual totals.

Tesla car sales petition

WASHINGTON -- A petition to the White House to allow Tesla Motors Inc. to sell its electric vehicles straight to consumers throughout the U.S. surpassed the 100,000-signature threshold it needed this week to prompt a response from the Obama administration.

The petition system on the White House's website requires petitioners to collect 100,000 signatures within 30 days before the administration will officially acknowledge them.

Life term for 2 killings

DURHAM, N.C. -- A man who once purported to subscribe to the tenets of a radical religious sect was sentenced Friday to life in prison without possibility for parole for the 2010 murders of a 4-year-old boy and a woman who tried to leave his group.

Peter Lucas Moses, 28, rose before Judge Orlando Hudson on Friday in a Superior Court hearing that offered a glaring view of consequences that can occur when mental health treatment is inadequate.

Moses, who was diagnosed as a young man as suffering from bipolar disorder and other mental health issues, pleaded guilty in June 2012 to two counts of first-degree murder.

Roller coaster hubbub

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A Northern California roller coaster, the Gold Striker at Great America in Santa Clara, had to be taken offline this week because riders were screaming too loudly.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that the shrieks were exceeding the decibel limit agreed upon in a settlement with Prudential Real Estate, which owns adjacent properties. So Great America had to cover a portion of the track in a sound-dampening tunnel. The wooden roller coaster reopened Wednesday after the work was completed.



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