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NATION IN BRIEF: Senate showdown may pave way for year-end tax deal

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans derailed legislation Saturday to extend expiring tax cuts at all but the highest income levels in a political showdown that paradoxically clears a path for a compromise with the White House on steps to boost the economy.

‘‘We need to get this resolved and I’m confident we can do it,’’ President Barack Obama said shortly after the near party-line votes. The public must have ‘‘the peace of mind that their taxes will not go up’’ on Jan. 1, he added.

Obama has signaled that he will bow to Republican demands for extending tax cuts at all income levels, and his remarks capped a day that lurched between political conflict and talk of compromise on an issue that played a leading role in last month’s elections.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., eyeing the 2012 campaign, accused Republicans of siding with ‘‘millionaires and billionaires’’ with their rejection of proposals that would let tax cuts passed during George W. Bush’s presidency lapse on seven-figure incomes.

Responders head to disabled ship in Bering Sea

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Emergency vessels hurried to reach a cargo ship carrying nearly half a million gallons of fuel as it struggled off Alaska’s remote Aleutian Islands for a second day Saturday.

The 738-foot Golden Seas, with a full load of canola seed, suffered engine troubles in strong winds and rough seas Friday that caused it to drift toward Atka Island, about 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage. During the night, after the weather eased, it motored at about 3 to 4 mph back out to sea. By Saturday morning it was about 40 miles from land, reducing fears it would run aground, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Dana Warr.

Teens accused of stealing calves

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Two teenage boys from central Minnesota are accused of stealing at least 17 calves to start their own dairy farm.

Authorities this week arrested a 19-year-old from Rothsay and a 16-year-old from Barnesville.

Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said deputies received a tip that led them to 17 calves and eventually the teens. The calves are believed to have been stolen from three counties: Douglas, Stearns and Todd.

Santas dole out $100 handshakes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — ‘‘Secret Santas’’ are roaming the streets of North Carolina, handing out $100 handshakes.

The Charlotte Observer reported that crew of donors, who insist on anonymity, handed out the C-notes Friday to anyone who looked like they could use it.

Felicia Adams was handed $100 while she was working at a Goodwill outlet store. She said the money will help her get to New York to visit her father who is dying of cancer.

The donors take thousands of dollars from their own bank accounts to hand out. It’s the fourth year the random acts of kindness have been done in Charlotte. This year, a half-dozen volunteers from the Charlotte police and fire departments tagged along, guiding the group through the city and suggesting people they could help.

Massey CEO expected to testify Dec. 14

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Massey Energy chief executive Don Blankenship is expected to honor an agreement to testify this month about the nation’s worst coal mine disaster in decades despite his sudden retirement plans, investigators said Saturday.

The Virginia-based coal company announced late Friday that Blankenship, who has been chairman and chief executive since 2000, will retire effective Dec. 31. The modern-day coal baron who made millions for investors while turning countless neighbors into enemies over mining’s effects on the environment has been with Massey since 1982 in a variety of roles.

Rep. Rangel: I still love Congress

NEW YORK — U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel returned to his home turf in the city’s Harlem neighborhood on Saturday, saying he still loves Congress — despite a showdown with colleagues over ethics violations that led to his censure by the House.

‘‘I have not lost my ability to love the Congress and to love this country,’’ the 80-year-old Democrat told reporters at Harlem Hospital, where a crowd at a town hall meeting gave him a standing, cheering ovation as he entered.