US official: Bush's 2009 budget lean for domestic, health programs

WASHINGTON - President Bush's 2009 budget will virtually freeze most domestic programs and seek nearly $200 billion in savings from federal health care programs, a senior administration official said Thursday.

The Bush budget also will likely exceed $3 trillion, this official said.

Bush on Monday will present his proposed budget for the new fiscal year to Congress, where it's unlikely to gain much traction in the midst of a presidential campaign. The president has promised a plan that would erase the budget deficit by 2012 if his policies are followed.

Bush will propose nearly $178 billion in savings from Medicare - a number that's nearly triple what he proposed last year. Much of the savings would come from freezing reimbursement rates for most health care providers for three years. An additional $17 billion would come from the Medicaid program, the state-federal partnership that provides health coverage to the poor. The cuts would come over five years.

Bush says he won't jeopardize Iraqi security with hasty withdrawal

LAS VEGAS - President Bush said Thursday he will not jeopardize security gains in Iraq by withdrawing U.S. forces too fast, another signal that troop reductions could slow or stop altogether this summer.

The president said he would resist any temptation to bring troops home to score political points with a war-weary public or compromise with Democrats in Congress seeking to wind down the war.

The U.S. troop commitment is expected to be down to roughly 130,000 to 135,000 by July, the same number as before Bush sent in reinforcements a year ago.

Magruder pleads guilty in crashes during stroke

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Watergate conspirator Jeb Magruder pleaded guilty Thursday to a traffic charge stemming from two crashes that happened as he had a stroke while at the wheel last summer.

Magruder had been charged with failing to maintain proper distance and leaving the scene of an accident, but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless operation.

Magruder was fined $300, placed on one year of probation and lost his driver's license for a year. Franklin County Municipal Judge W. Dwayne Maynard suspended Magruder's 60-day jail sentence.

Police say nurse abused 14 patients

SANDUSKY, Ohio - A nightshift nurse charged with raping a partially paralyzed nursing home patient abused 13 other patients, including many who could not communicate, at health care centers since the mid-1980s, authorities said Thursday.

John Riems, 49, told police following his arrest last week that he abused almost 100 patients since the 1980s, but he could remember specific information on about only about two dozen, according to the authorities.

Through interviews with patients, family members and a review of records at the Sandusky-area nursing homes, investigators were able to verify 14 assaults, said Perkins Township Police Chief Tim McClung.

Hundreds attend viewing of Mormon president's body

SALT LAKE CITY - A few hundred people waited in freezing temperatures Thursday to view the body of Gordon B. Hinckley as the Mormon church began three days of public mourning for its president.

Joined by two friends, Michelle McAllister got up at 4 a.m. and skipped classes at Weber State University to be first in line at the conference center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Delays minimal as new ID laws go in effect at borders

DETROIT - Tougher identification rules went into effect Thursday along the nation's borders, but there appeared to be little added delay as travelers unprepared for the change were in many cases allowed to cross with a warning.

Rather than seeing a bottleneck over the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit, truck driver Paul Kraus said, 'It's actually slow today.' The 42-year-old regularly crosses the bridge from Windsor, Ontario, and said he always carries required documents.

FBI: Explosives students carried were fireworks

TAMPA, Fla. - Two Egyptian college students arrested near a South Carolina Navy weapons station last year were carrying low-grade fireworks, as they claimed, not the dangerous explosives as charged by federal prosecutors, the FBI has determined.

Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 26, and Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, have been in jail since sheriff's deputies found what they called bomb-making materials in the trunk of their car during a traffic stop near Charleston, S.C.