WASHINGTON (AP) — All things good, bad and unpredictable converge Jan. 1 for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul as the law's major benefits take effect, along with an unpopular insurance mandate and a risk of more nerve-wracking disruptions to coverage. The changes bring big improvements for some, including Howard Kraft of Lincolnton, N.C. A painful spinal problem left him unable to work as a hotel bellman. But he's got coverage because federal law now forbids insurers from turning away people with health problems. "I am not one of these people getting a policy because I'm being made to," Kraft said. "I need one to stay alive."
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — With fireworks, dancing and late-night reverie, millions around the world welcomed 2014 on Tuesday, gathering for huge displays of jubilation and unity as the new year was arriving across 24 time zones. In Australia, fireworks sprayed from the sails of the Sydney Opera House and the city's harbor bridge at midnight. Revelers in Dubai awaited what was supposed to be the world's largest fireworks show.
GRENOBLE, France (AP) — Michael Schumacher underwent a second surgery after a brain scan showed small, "surprising" signs of improvement, but grim doctors said Tuesday they could offer no insight into the prognosis for the Formula One champion. Schumacher, who turns 45 on Friday, suffered critical head injuries when he fell and struck a rock Sunday while skiing on a family vacation in the French Alps. His manager confirmed that the accident cracked his helmet, which doctors credited for giving him a chance at survival.
WASHINGTON (AP) — It says a lot about House Speaker John Boehner's rough 2013 that even friends debate when the low point hit. Some say it was Jan. 3, the first day of the 113th Congress. With the Ohio Republican's family watching from the House gallery, a dozen defiant GOP lawmakers refused to back his bid to be re-elected speaker. The mini-rebellion fell short but it delivered an embarrassing rebuke from conservatives.
CASSELTON, N.D. (AP) — A southeastern North Dakota town narrowly escaped tragedy when a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded nearby, the mayor said Tuesday, calling for changes in how the fuel is transported across the U.S. No one was hurt in Monday's derailment of the mile-long train that sent a great fireball and plumes of black smoke skyward about a mile from the small town of Casselton. The fire had been so intense as darkness fell that investigators couldn't get close enough to count the number of burning cars. The National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A 13-year-old California girl declared brain dead after tonsil surgery remained on life support Tuesday after a state judge gave her family at least another week to find a place to move her. Doctors at Children's Hospital Oakland want to take Jahi McMath off the machines that are keeping her body functioning, saying she will never recover. Her family wants to continue life support, saying they have hope she will still pull through.
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Uganda's president on Monday warned South Sudan's rebel leader against rejecting the government's offer of a cease-fire, saying regional leaders would unite to "defeat" the former vice president, who is accused of mounting a failed coup in the world's newest country. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told reporters in Juba, the South Sudan capital, that a regional bloc known as IGAD had given Riek Machar "four days to respond" to the cease-fire offer.
MOSCOW (AP) — Displaying the killer instincts of a chess grandmaster, Vladimir Putin rang out 2013 with an exceptional list of accomplishments. The Russian president humiliated the United States by sheltering NSA leaker Edward Snowden, brokered a Syrian chemical weapons deal that averted a seemingly inevitable U.S. military strike and outmaneuvered the 28-nation European Union in the wrestling match for influence over Ukraine.
BEIRUT (AP) — Through decades of conflict, there has been one thing all Lebanese could agree on: their adoration of the country's iconic singer Fairouz, who stood unquestioned above the fray with her anthems to Lebanon and Palestine and songs of love. Now the 78-singer has been dragged into the thick of the country's bitter political and sectarian divisions after her son said in an interview that she loves the leader of Hezbollah, sparking an uproar among opponents of the Shiite guerrilla group.
NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market was unstoppable in 2013. A U.S. government shutdown, fear of a default, the threat of military action in Syria, big budget cuts, and a European country looking for a bailout — any number of events might have derailed the stock market. But they didn't.