Obama to seek funding change for wildfires
President Barack Obama's annual budget request to Congress will propose a significant change in how the government pays to fight wildfires, administration officials said Saturday. They said the move reflects the ways in which climate change is increasing the risk for and cost of those fires. The proposal will ask Congress to pay the costs of fighting extreme wildfires in the same way it finances the response to disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, the officials said. When unpredictable events like Hurricane Sandy are destructive enough to be declared disasters by the president, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is authorized to exceed its annual budget and draw on a special disaster account. The account is adjusted each year to reflect the 10-year average cost of responding to such events. Obama would create a similar exception for the Interior and Agriculture departments, which are responsible for wildfire response.
New premier takes over, vows stability
Matteo Renzi became Italy's youngest premier on Saturday, promising a new era of stable government after ousting a fellow Democrat he deemed too timid to get the nation back to work. Renzi, 39, quit his post as Florence mayor to take the national government job, insisting Italy's leadership needed to be bolder. The economy is just beginning to show signs of rebounding after years of stagnation. Youth unemployment is about 40 percent.
U.S. Army chief seeks better ties
A top U.S. military commander said Saturday that the U.S. Army was working to start a formal dialogue and exchange program with the Chinese People's Liberation Army before the end of the year. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said at a news conference in Beijing that the program was aimed at expanding cooperation and "managing differences constructively."
4 dead, 2 critical after house fire
A fire swept through a small home in Indianapolis on Saturday, killing a couple and two of their children and leaving two siblings in "very critical" condition, a fire official said. Firefighters found the parents and their four children — ages 14, 11, 8 and 6 — unconscious inside the small bungalow-style home, Capt. Rita Reith said. The 14-year-old and the 6-year-old remained in critical condition, Reith said.
Egypt: A court acquitted six police officers Saturday on charges of killing 83 protesters during the 2011 uprising, something rights activists say could allow toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak to walk free on similar charges.
Columbia, Mo.: A firefighter was killed Saturday while helping evacuate students from a University of Missouri-run apartment complex after a walkway collapsed, officials said.