Obama issues 5 pardons, one commutation
President Barack Obama on Monday pardoned five people convicted of charges ranging from intent to distribute marijuana to running an illegal gambling business. He also issued his first commutation, ordering the release of an Illinois woman next month after serving 10 years on a 22-year sentence for cocaine distribution. One of those pardoned was Dennis George Bulin of Wesley Chapel, sentenced in 1987 in an Alabama case to five years of probation and a $20,000 fine for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 1,000 pounds of marijuana. The actions mark Obama's third set of pardons. He pardoned eight people earlier this year, and issued nine pardons in December 2010.
U.S. challenges insurer's rate hike
The Obama administration on Monday called on a health insurance company in Pennsylvania to reduce what it is charging small businesses, using a tool in the new health-care law for the first time to pressure insurers to restrain rising premiums. Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services determined that Everence Insurance Co.'s plan to raise rates on 5,000 people in Pennsylvania by nearly 12 percent next year is unreasonable. Everence stood by the hike.
Soyuz returns with three astronauts
A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts returning from the International Space Station touched down safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan this morning. NASA astronaut Michael Fossum, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan's JAXA space agency landed at dawn after spending 165 days in space.
U.S. commander expects turbulence
The top U.S. general in Iraq on Monday predicted a level of upheaval in the country as militant groups jostle to fill the vacuum left behind by the withdrawal of all American forces in the coming weeks. Gen. Lloyd Austin said the threat from the Sunni extremist organization, al-Qaida in Iraq, could grow at the same time that Iranian-backed Shiite militias are also seeking to assert themselves.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa: A federal judge on Monday sentenced former elementary school principal Robert Burke, 43, to 30 years in prison for secretly videotaping dozens of young male students using the bathroom. The judge called his actions a shocking abuse of trust and among the worst crimes against children she had seen.
Washington: Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, 21, an Idaho man who allegedly fired rifle shots at the White House because he wanted to kill President Barack Obama, made his first court appearance on Monday and was ordered to remain in detention and undergo a psychiatric evaluation.