NATION IN BRIEF: Idaho governor first to sign law against health bill

Idaho governor first to sign law against health bill

BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho Gov. C.L. ''Butch'' Otter on Wednesday became the first state chief executive to sign a measure requiring his attorney general to sue Congress if it passes health reforms that force residents to buy insurance.

Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states nationwide.

Constitutional law experts say the move is mostly symbolic because federal laws supersede those of the states. But the movement reflects a growing national frustration with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

Democrats are hoping to pass a version of the reform by this weekend.

Last week, Virginia legislators passed a measure similar to Idaho's new law, but Otter was the first state chief executive to sign such a bill, according the American Legislative Exchange Council, which created model legislation for Idaho and other states.

Drive shaft likely cause of deadly Texas bus crash

CAMPBELLTON, Texas -- A broken drive shaft likely caused a Mexico-bound bus to veer wildly on a Texas highway before flipping over, killing two passengers and injuring 40 others on board, investigators said Wednesday.

The drive shaft, which transfers power from the engine to the wheels, apparently fell off before the Americanos USA bus carrying 42 people careened from the right lane toward the median and spun wildly, Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said. She said the findings were preliminary, and that the investigation was ongoing.

The crash occurred along Interstate 37 about 45 miles from San Antonio, from where the bus had departed. It was carrying spring breakers and other travelers to the Mexican border city of Matamoros.

NY Gov.'s aide quits in scandal; fourth to fall

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Gov. David Paterson's press secretary on Wednesday became the fourth top staffer to quit amid dual scandals, resigning just hours after her boss publicly proclaimed for the first time that he did nothing wrong when he talked to a woman who had accused one of his top aides of abuse.

Paterson also said Wednesday on a radio show that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whom he appointed to the seat, threw him ''under the bus'' by suggesting he might have to resign over his role in the abuse allegations.

Judge in bodies case backs off from reporter

CLEVELAND -- A judge threatened to arrest a newspaper reporter who saw a psychiatric evaluation of a serial-killing suspect, then backed off Wednesday when she learned that her predecessor in the case had made it available.

The story by Gabriel Baird of The Plain Dealer said the psychiatric report concluded that suspect Anthony Sowell was unlikely to assault women after he finished a prison term for attempted rape.

Sowell was arrested and released without charges in 2008 after a woman alleged he attacked her. But the remains of 11 women were found at his home in fall 2009. Sowell, 50, has pleaded not guilty.

Group decries Islam textbooks as inflammatory

PHILADELPHIA -- A series of children's textbooks on Islam contains misleading and inflammatory rhetoric about the religion, inaccurately portraying its followers as inherently violent and deserving of suspicion, according to a Muslim civil liberties group.

The Pennsylvania chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations began what it calls a public awareness campaign Wednesday against the ''World of Islam'' books by Mason Crest Publishing.

''This is not about Muslims being offended,'' Moein Khawaja, the chapter's civil rights director, said at a news conference. ''Filled with incorrect information and deception, these books are contrary to the education mission of schools and libraries.''

Senate approves jobs legislation for Obama to sign

WASHINGTON -- Companies that hire unemployed workers will get a temporary payroll tax holiday under a bill that easily won congressional approval Wednesday in what Democrats hope is just the first of several election-year measures aimed at boosting hiring.

The 68-29 bipartisan vote in the Senate sent the legislation to the White House.