By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three years ago, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts cast the tie-breaking vote in a ruling that saved President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform. As the high court prepares to weigh another challenge that could shatter Obamacare, a review of Roberts’ recent votes and opinions suggest he could again sway the case the government's way. The conservative challengers in the case aim to persuade Roberts and the other eight justices that the federal government has overreached by providing tax subsidies to millions of people in 34 states that didn't create their own insurance exchanges. He has also recognized the need to consider the overall context of a law, not just an isolated phrase. The government says the Obamacare law, read as a whole, shows the subsidies were intended to be available nationwide. Oral arguments are set for March 4, with the ruling expected by the end of June.
By Lisa Maria Garza DALLAS (Reuters) - An ice storm battered parts of Texas on Monday, knocking out power to thousands of homes, causing hundreds of traffic accidents and prompting more than 1,500 airline flight cancellations. The storm, packing high winds and freezing rain, coated highways with sheets of ice, and authorities advised commuters to stay off the roads. Snow and freezing rain fell in parts of New Mexico and Colorado, while Utah and northern Arizona were also under winter storm warnings, the weather service said. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, one of the busiest in the United States and a hub for American Airlines, nearly 1,100 flights were canceled as of Monday afternoon, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
By Erwin Seba HOUSTON (Reuters) - Talks to end the largest U.S. refinery strike in 35 years are not expected to resume this week, sources familiar with the negotiations said on Monday after the number of plants hit by walkouts increased over the weekend. Face-to-face meetings between the United Steelworkers union (USW) and lead refinery owner representative Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, might remain on hold until the second week of March, the sources said. The halt in talks comes after the USW pulled workers from three Motiva Enterprises LLC [MOTIV.UL] refineries in Louisiana and Texas co-owned by Shell after oil companies balked at a possible settlement. About 6,550 workers are walking picket lines at 15 plants, including 12 refineries that account for one-fifth of U.S. refining capacity.
With the clock ticking down to a third, perhaps final deadline for a deal to rein in Iran's nuclear program, top diplomats are ramping up efforts to pin down details. US Secretary of State John Kerry met twice in Geneva with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday and Monday, and could join fresh talks planned next week in Switzerland, US officials said. "We're in the endgame now," Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, who has long worked on non-proliferation issues, told AFP. To reach a verifiable, comprehensive agreement that limits Iran's ability to harness enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb.
By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. lawmaker on Monday called on the Congress to investigate the medical scopes blamed for an outbreak of a bacterial "superbug" at a University of California, Los Angeles hospital that has infected seven patients. Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, said in a letter asking for a congressional oversight committee hearing that the outbreak of the drug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, bacteria posed "both health and national security" risks. Officials say the duodenoscopes, which are inserted down a patient's throat during gastrointestinal procedures, spread the antibiotic-resistant bacteria to seven patients at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, contributing to two deaths.
By Daniel Lovering FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - Housekeepers for former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez testified on Monday that they found several guns around his home in the weeks before the alleged murder of a man Hernandez is charged with killing. Housekeeper Marilia Prinholato, 28, said in Massachusetts Superior Court in Fall River that a black handgun fell onto the floor while she was changing sheets in a basement guestroom at the house where Hernandez lived with his fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, and their baby. "I just took the gun and looked at it and put it back," Prinholato said, adding that the gun was 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) long and had a full magazine. Hernandez, 25, is accused of fatally shooting associate Odin Lloyd, who had been dating Jenkins' sister, in an industrial park near his North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home in June 2013.
The U.S. Justice Department on Monday formally requested an emergency stay to put on hold a Texas judge's decision that temporarily blocked President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration from taking effect. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen had issued a court order to halt the immigration actions, which would grant temporary relief from deportation for 4.7 million people who are in the United States illegally. The Justice Department said Hanen lacked authority to issue that preliminary injunction. Officials also filed on Monday to appeal his decision, and they asked that the immigration actions be allowed to move forward while the appeals process plays out.
(Reuters) - General Motors Co received another 33 claims for compensation for ignition switch defects in its cars in the past week, bringing the total to 4,345, according to the administrator of the company's compensation program. Through Friday, GM had received 479 claims for death, 292 for catastrophic injuries and 3,574 for less-serious injuries requiring hospitalization, according to a report from lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, hired by GM to administer the program. The number of claims found to be eligible for compensation so far is 151, the report said. Feinberg has so far determined that 57 deaths, nine severe injuries and 85 other injuries are eligible for compensation.