Sep 15, 2011, 9:43 p.m.

Marine awarded Medal of Honor believed he would die

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Marine who saved 36 of his comrades' lives during an ambush in Afghanistan was awarded the Medal of Honor on Thursday, the first living Marine to win the highest U.S. military decoration since the Vietnam War. Sergeant Dakota Meyer, 23, had the light blue ribbon of the Medal of Honor draped around his neck by President Barack Obama at a glittering White House ceremony.

Obama backs away from Social Security in deficits plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, yielding to pressure from his political base, has backed off a proposal to reform Social Security retirement benefits in a high-stakes deficits deal Congress needs to reach this year. The Democratic president upset many core supporters in July when he considered changing how the popular pension funds are linked to inflation during acrimonious negotiations with Republicans over raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

New Orleans policemen jailed over beating death of handyman

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A federal judge sentenced two former New Orleans police officers to prison time on Thursday for their roles in the beating death of a handyman in 2005 and a subsequent cover-up of the crime. The case is one of a handful of civil rights cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against New Orleans police during the last six years.

Texas police shoot fugitive who fled in police car

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) - Police in West Texas shot and wounded an "extremely dangerous" fugitive who earlier in the day overpowered a detective and fled in an unmarked police car with stolen guns and a bulletproof vest. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said an officer shot Fernando Lavenant, 19, late on Thursday. He was taken to an El Paso area hospital where he was in critical condition, spokeswoman Angelica Becerra said.

Teen accused of cancer hoax to get donations

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas teenager faces theft charges after police said she duped her community into giving her $17,000 because they erroneously believed she was dying of cancer. Ruth Angelica Gomez, 18, of Horizon City, Texas, created the Achieve the Dream foundation, under which she held fund-raising events. She solicited donations to help cure her leukemia, which she said would claim her life before the year ended, Horizon City police Detective Liliana Medina said.

U.S. nets thousands in offshore tax dodge crackdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Major progress is being made in a crackdown on international tax evasion, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service said on Thursday. In a program that offers leniency in exchange for volunteering information about undisclosed offshore assets and income, the IRS said that as of this month it had collected $2.7 billion from thousands of U.S. taxpayers.

Southern California union takes major step toward strike

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The union representing many of the 62,000 workers at Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons supermarkets in southern California issued a required 72-hour notice of its plan to cancel its extended contract, a move that could pave the way for a strike. The union and the supermarkets are at an impasse over healthcare coverage. Employees, who have been without a contract since it expired in March, have given the union the go-ahead to call a strike if an acceptable deal for a new contract cannot be reached.

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