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White House restores $5 billion of automatic cuts, congressional aides say

Washington

White House restores $5B of cuts

The White House budget office is recalculating how to apply automatic spending cuts for a handful of agencies, freeing up almost $4 billion for the Pentagon and another $1 billion or so for other agencies like the Homeland Security Department and NASA, the Associated Press reported Friday, citing unnamed congressional aides. The aides said the Obama administration has identified almost $5 billion in cuts that can be restored under its reading of the arcane budget rules governing the across-the-board cuts of $85 billion, known as sequestration. An administration official confirmed the calculations Friday but declined to comment further because the process is ongoing. The official and congressional aides spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the changes publicly.

Phoenix

After four months, jury gets murder case

Jurors began deliberations in Jodi Arias' murder trial on Friday after four months of testimony. Arias says she killed her one-time boyfriend Travis Alexander in self-defense, but prosecutors say it was an act of premeditated first-degree murder that could carry a death sentence or life in prison.

The jury deliberated for just about an hour Friday before concluding for the day. Deliberations resume Monday.

The trial has become a tabloid and cable TV sensation. It attracted spectators from around the country who lined up as early as 2 a.m. for a chance to score a few open seats in the courtroom.

Philadelphia

Deliberations continue in abortion case

A Philadelphia abortion provider will spend another weekend in custody after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his murder case.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell is accused of killing four babies born alive. He's also charged in the 2009 overdose of a patient.

Jurors deliberated for more than three days before leaving Friday without a verdict. They are to return Monday.

Washington

Biden, Kerry honor fallen diplomats

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the courage and dedication of U.S. diplomats slain in the line of duty as they led a memorial service on Friday to honor those killed in last year's terrorist attack on the American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and an April roadside bombing in Afghanistan.

Amid persistent Republican allegations that the Obama administration is trying to cover up the facts around the Benghazi incident, Biden and Kerry told the families of the fallen that they should be proud. They paid tribute to Benghazi victims Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Ty Woods, as well as Anne Smedinghoff, the young foreign service officer killed last month in Afghanistan.

Also honored was foreign service officer Ragaei Abdelfattah, who was killed in Afghanistan last year while working for the U.S. Agency for International Development. The names of those six, along with diplomats Joseph Fandino and Francis Savage who were killed during the Vietnam War, were added to memorial plaques at the State Department as its employees observed Foreign Affairs Day.

Miami

U.S. judge allows spy to remain in Cuba

One of the convicted spies known as the "Cuban Five" will be able to permanently remain in Cuba in exchange for renouncing his U.S. citizenship, a federal judge ruled Friday after U.S. officials dropped their opposition.

Rene Gonzalez, 56, has been in Cuba since April 22 to attend memorial services for his father, who died last month. Gonzalez was released from U.S. prison in October 2011 after serving 13 years but was still serving three years' probation, which the Justice Department had previously insisted must be completed in the U.S. This week, however, the Justice Department reversed its position, leading to U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard's ruling accepting Gonzalez's offer to give up U.S. citizenship.

Gonzalez and his four co-defendants, who are still in prison, have been considered heroes in Cuba since they were charged in 1998.

Elsewhere

South Korea: The last seven South Koreans stationed at a jointly run factory park in Kaesong, North Korea, pulled out Friday, silencing the complex for the first time since it was launched nine years ago in an era of reconciliation.

Times wires

White House restores $5 billion of automatic cuts, congressional aides say 05/03/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 11:19pm]

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