- - Sunday, December 2, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to Europe to discuss Turkey’s defense and U.S. relations with Pakistan.

Her first stop is the Czech Republic for talks on energy policy in a country heavily dependent on Russian fuel.

Mrs. Clinton joins NATO foreign ministers in Brussels to discuss Turkey’s request for Patriot missile assistance. Violence is raging in neighboring Syria, which is believed to have several hundred ballistic surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads — a particular concern for Turkey, a NATO member.

On Friday, NATO said it will deploy the Patriots within weeks after the move is approved.

Mrs. Clinton also is to meet Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar.

Her trip, which began Sunday, ends Friday with visits to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.


GOP lawmaker publicly reveals that he is gay

Pennsylvania State Rep. Mike Fleck revealed publicly Saturday he is gay, making him the only openly gay Republican state legislator in the country and the first in Pennsylvania’s history, PoliticsPA reported.

Mr. Fleck told the Huntingdon Daily News that he is still the same person, still a Republican and “still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public.”

“The only difference now is that I will also be doing so as honestly as I know how,” he said.


Obama pressured on pipeline decision

President Obama faces mounting pressure to decide whether to approve Keystone XL, a $7 billion proposed oil pipeline between the U.S. and Canada.

Environmental activists and oil producers have fought for years over the potential environmental impact in states the pipeline will cross. But it’s really a proxy battle over broader issues, like climate change and energy consumption.

Both sides consider Mr. Obama’s decision a sign of what approach he will take to energy and the environment in his second term.

Opponents have been protesting in Washington and Texas. On Capitol Hill, support appears to be building. A bipartisan group of senators is urging Mr. Obama to approve the pipeline quickly.

After Mr. Obama rejected the initial proposal in January, the pipeline’s route was adjusted to satisfy some environmental concerns.


Ex-president remains hospitalized for cough

HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush remains in stable condition at a Houston hospital, where he is being treated for a lingering cough related to bronchitis.

George Kovacik, a spokesman for Methodist Hospital, said Sunday there has been no change over the past couple of days in the status of the 88-year-old Mr. Bush.

Aides originally said the 41st president could be released from the hospital over the weekend. But his cough has yet to clear up, meaning he has stayed put while doctors “play it safe.”

Mr. Bush has been in and out of the hospital recently for complications resulting from bronchitis.

Hospital visitors have included Mr. Bush’s son, former President George W. Bush, and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush. They live in Dallas.


Feds propose ‘pay to play’ for new insurance market

Health insurance companies will have to pay to play in new health insurance markets coming under President Obama’s health care law.

The federal Health and Human Services department said Friday it is proposing a “user fee” amounting to 3.5 percent of premiums for health insurers who want to offer policies in the new federal exchanges coming in 2014.

Exchanges are online markets where consumers will be able to buy individual policies and see if they qualify for government subsidies. Washington will run the exchanges in states that decline to do so.

The insurance industry says the fees will add to the cost of coverage.

The new markets are designed to be self-supporting, and backers of the approach say it’s more cost-effective than the current system.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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