Al Qaeda's wing in Yemen blamed a renegade fighter for targeting medics and patients in a military hospital during its attack on the Defence Ministry compound in Sanaa earlier this month, it said in a statement released on Saturday. The killing of unarmed medics and patients, captured on closed-circuit television footage and broadcast by state media, caused widespread outrage in Yemen, where al Qaeda has portrayed itself as fighting for normal people against foreign drone strikes. Al Qaeda's offshoot Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) claimed responsibility earlier this month for the December 5 assault in which at least 52 people were killed, the worst such attack in Yemen for 18 months. The footage released on state television showed uniformed figures wandering around the hospital's corridors and wards shooting medics and patients.
By Keith Coffman DENVER (Reuters) - A 17-year-old Colorado student shot in the head earlier this month by a gunman at her high school died on Saturday at a hospital with her family at her side, the facility and her family said. Claire Davis was the only person wounded by gunfire when Karl Pierson, an 18-year-old senior at Arapahoe High School in suburban Denver, entered the school on December 13 and opened fire with a shotgun, police said. "Despite the best efforts of our physicians and nursing staff, and Claire's fighting spirit, her injuries were too severe and the most advanced medical treatments could not prevent this tragic loss of life," Littleton Adventist Hospital posted on the facility's official Facebook page. Pierson shot Davis in the face at point-blank range as she sat outside the library with a friend during in the 80-second rampage, police said.
By Ellen Wulfhorst NEW YORK (Reuters) - Love him or hate him, one thing is for sure: New Yorkers will not forget outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg anytime soon. As the independent billionaire politician bids farewell to City Hall by touting his accomplishments during 12 years in office, academics, urban planning experts and political pundits say the mark he made on New York is indelible and strong. While Bloomberg's final term was marred by a failed attempt to outlaw large sugary drinks and the furor over stop-and-frisk policing, he stands as one of the most successful mayors in New York history, they contend. "This will go down as, without question, one of the most influential and successful mayoralties in the history of the city," said David Birdsell, dean of the School of Public Affairs at the City University of New York's Baruch College.
By Caren Bohan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Last summer, White House officials planning a nationwide push to urge young adults to enroll in new health insurance plans had a big problem: Polls showed that many young, healthy people who could be key to the success of the Affordable Care Act knew little about it or its October 1 rollout. Stars such as pop singer Lady Gaga - a Twitter icon with nearly 41 million followers - singer John Legend (5 million followers) and actress Olivia Wilde (1.2 million followers) tweeted messages urging their fans to "get covered" by the program known as Obamacare. The tweets faded quickly, though, when it became clear that the launch of the Obamacare website designed to enroll millions of Americans was a disaster that threatened the viability of President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement. Now, with the HealthCare.gov website functioning better and enrollment deadlines for 2014 looming, the White House and its allies are making an urgent new pitch to "young invincibles" who may question whether they need health coverage.
By Keith Coffman DENVER (Reuters) - The former graduate student accused of gunning down scores of patrons in a Colorado movie theater last year was found competent to stand trial by court-appointed sanity evaluators, a judge said Friday. The disclosure by Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour came in the course of legal wrangling over the evaluations that threaten to delay for months a possible trial for 26-year-old James Holmes, who is charged with killing 12 people and wounding dozens more during a midnight screening of the Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises", in the Denver suburb of Aurora. Samour, in disclosing that Holmes was deemed competent in September to stand trial, did not say whether the evaluators viewed him as sane at the time of the shootings. However, longtime Colorado criminal defense attorney and legal analyst Wil Smith said that he could be found not guilty by reason of insanity even as he is viewed as competent to stand trial.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was released from the hospital after being diagnosed as exhausted and was cleared to return to work, a statement from his office said on Friday. The Nevada Democrat missed several key Senate votes as lawmakers wrapped up their work before the holiday break. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin earlier said that he had spoken with Reid. Reid, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 and became its leader in 2007, suffered a stroke in 2005 and was injured last year when his motorcade crashed in Las Vegas.
By Roberta Rampton and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday defended his administration's decision to delay for some people the requirement to buy medical insurance under his healthcare law, but acknowledged that the botched rollout of the policy was his biggest mistake of 2013. "Since I'm in charge, obviously we screwed it up," Obama said at his year-end news conference. The sudden change was announced four days before the federal government's deadline to sign up for coverage that starts on January 1 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010 and set up online exchanges, or marketplaces, for enrollment. Republicans seized on the latest announcement as further proof that the law known as Obamacare is unworkable, but Obama said it was just a bump in the road.
By Richard Weizel HARTFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - Members of a Connecticut panel charged with recommending ways to prevent gun violence in schools after last year's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday said a state attorney's report failed to address the role of the shooter's mental health in the attack. The 16-member commission complained that the report released last month, which concluded that questions about 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza's motive for killing 26 children and school staff "may never be answered conclusively," limited their ability to advise Governor Dannel Malloy on how to improve school safety. "Unlike the reports that came out of the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, we can garner very little about Adam Lanza and his family from the state report," said Dr. Adrienne Bentman, director of the adult psychiatry residency program at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living and a member of the commission.