National briefs: Contraception mandate struck

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WASHINGTON -- A federal court on Friday ruled that the health care law's mandate that employers provide free coverage for contraception infringed on individual religious liberty.

The case, Gilardi v. the Department of Health and Human Services, was the latest setback for the Obama administration. However, the fight over the mandate long preceded the law's enactment and will most likely go to the Supreme Court.

The mandate "trammels the right of free exercise," Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote for a divided three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The ruling was largely in line with most others around the country so far. Of nearly 40 challenges, only a handful of courts have upheld the government's requirement that employer health plans provide free birth control, emergency contraception and sterilization.

Feds investigate nonprofits

WASHINGTON -- Federal and state officials, troubled that nonprofit organizations have quietly lost millions of dollars to financial wrongdoing, this week launched multiple investigations into whether the groups properly reported losses to authorities.

Three ranking senators and a House committee chairman said they were distressed about new revelations regarding what are known as "significant diversions" of assets.

Regulators in seven states and the District of Columbia also said they moved this week to scrutinize how well nonprofits are safeguarding charitable funds meant to serve their communities.

BART unions ratify contract

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A second Bay Area Rapid Transit labor union has ratified the contract agreement that brought to an end a bitter labor dispute that led to two San Francisco area transportation strikes, officials said Saturday.

BART said the company had reached agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, whose members voted to approve the four-year deal. The agreement includes a 15 percent raise and safer working conditions.

'Subway vigilante' arrested

NEW YORK -- Bernhard Goetz, the "subway vigilante" who set off a national debate about crime and race after he shot four black men in New York in 1984, has been arrested on drug charges.

Mr. Goetz, 65, was arrested about 6:30 p.m. Friday in New York after he sold $30 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer outside his Manhattan apartment, said Detective Annette Markowski.

He was arrested on suspicion of criminal sale of marijuana, criminal possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Detective Markowski said the buy-and-bust operation had not targeted Mr. Goetz.

Health site issues probed

WASHINGTON -- Henry Chao, who supervised construction of the flawed U.S. health insurance website, was privately interviewed Friday for more than nine hours by congressional investigators, two people with knowledge of the event said.

Mr. Chao, the deputy chief information officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was questioned by staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by California Republican Darrell Issa.

Contractors who built the website, Healthcare.gov, have said Mr. Chao issued instructions late in the site's development that contributed to software errors and website outages.


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