Nation, World Briefs: Insurance firm puts big rate hike on hold

  • Sat Apr 24th, 2010 10:51pm
  • News

LOS ANGELES — Anthem Blue Cross has again put a planned rate hike on hold. The Los Angeles-based health insurance company said this week that policyholders will not see a rate change beginning May 1. A spokeswoman for Anthem’s parent, Wellpoint Inc., said Friday that “Members will receive adequate notification of any rate change. Until they receive information indicating otherwise, rates remain unchanged.” In January, Anthem notified many individual policyholders that their rates would rise as much as 39 percent March 1.

Indoor pot-growing arrests

Authorities have arrested seven Sacramento-area residents suspected in two indoor marijuana-growing operations. The Drug Enforcement Administration said agents seized more than 4,300 plants, about $83,000 in cash and one vehicle during a two-day sweep. Six people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to grow and manufacture at least 1,000 marijuana plants and knowingly maintaining a place for manufacturing marijuana. One man was charged with manufacturing at least 1,000 plants.

New York: School will close

One of the nation’s oldest military-style boarding schools, whose students have included Donald Trump and Francis Ford Coppola, plans to close because of financial problems. The New York Military Academy was founded in 1889. The school superintendent said it will shut after the academic year ends this spring. The school had been trying to restructure its debt but hasn’t been able to raise enough money to keep operating.

New Jersey: Baby body found

A body found near a river may be that of a 3-month-old girl who police said was thrown off a highway bridge by her father earlier this year. Sayreville police said clothes and wrappings in which the child were found Saturday are consistent with the descriptions given of 3-month-old Zara Malani-Lin Abdur-Raheem. But they said the baby is considered unidentified until DNA testing or other means can prove her identity. Shamsid-Din Abdur-Raheem has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges.

Armenia: Genocide recalled

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians laid flowers Saturday at a monument to the victims of mass killings by Ottoman Turks, marking the 95th anniversary of the start of the slaughter. President Barack Obama called it “one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.” Historians estimate that up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

New Zealand: Chopper down

Three airmen are dead and a fourth seriously hurt after a New Zealand military helicopter en route to a military memorial flyover crashed on farmland north of the capital, Wellington, emergency services said Sunday. Earlier, three Vietnam-era Iroquois military helicopters failed to appear at a scheduled fly past at a dawn service in the capital to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian troops at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. Police said they found three dead at the scene about 25 miles northeast of Wellington after responding to an emergency call about 6:45 a.m. local time.

Ukraine: Navy deal protest

Several thousand Ukrainians rallied in front of parliament Saturday to protest a deal allowing Russia to keep its navy in Ukraine for another 25 years. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told the protesters that all opposition forces must unite to resist the deal signed earlier this week which she denounced as an “unprecedented step of national treason and shame.” The agreement signed Wednesday is the first concrete sign that newly-elected President Viktor Yanukovych will steer Ukraine back into Russia’s orbit, reversing his pro-Western predecessor’s attempts to decrease Moscow’s influence.

Paraguay: Emergency powers

Lawmakers gave Paraguay’s president emergency powers resembling martial law Saturday to pursue a guerrilla group known for its kidnappings in the north. Congress proclaimed constitutional order at risk as it declared a 30-day emergency for a five-state region where the Paraguayan People’s Army has sown fear with kidnappings for ransom in the name of political change to help the rural poor. President Fernando Lugo, who had asked for a 60-day suspension of due process, will be able to order arrests and the transfer of suspects without court approval.

From Herald news services