The U.S. spent an average of $7,681 per person on health care in 2008, for an eye-popping total of $2.3 trillion — even though spending actually slowed dramatically that year because of the recession, a new federal study says.
Health spending didn't slow down as much as the nation's overall economic output, the study said, in keeping with a decades-old trend that has now pushed health care costs to account for over 16 percent of the nation's economy.
The suicide bomber who killed eight people inside a CIA base in Afghanistan claimed to have information about Osama bin Laden's second-in-command, and was being recruited as a double agent to infiltrate al-Qaida, a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a foreign government official confirmed Monday.
The bombing killed seven CIA employees — four officers and three contracted security guards — and a Jordanian intelligence officer, Ali bin Zaid, according to a second former U.S. intelligence official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.
Economists from all sides of the political system are sounding a unified theme for the new year: The outlook for economic growth in America isn't good for now or in the future.
In fact, the economist say slow growth will be with us for most of the next decade.
And a depressed housing market will keep the screws on the economy.
Median home values have fallen more than 30 percent since 2005
"It will be difficult to have a robust recovery while housing and commercial real estate are depressed," Harvard Professor and former director of the National Bureau of Economic Research said in a speech to the American Economic Association's annual gathering of top economists from around the country.
Can the government create jubs by sinking the nation billions of dollars further into debt? That is a question the Senate faces as it tackles a jobs bill in the first month of the new year.
Republicans say the "Jobs for Main Street Act" is nothing more than another expensive government program that will spend money, raise the deficit and create few, if any jobs. The House passed the act 217-212 in the closing days of the December term. No Republicans voted for the bill.
The bill for the jobs act is $174 billion. Critics say it is nothing more than another ill-fated "stimulus plan," comparing it to the $787 billion economic plan that spent more and produced few jobs and little stimulus.
Fox News Channel may drive blood pressures to record highs among liberals but the right-wing cable channel just finished its best ratings year ever and easily tops CNN and MSNBC with viewers.
The only cable channels that do better than Fox News are entertainment ones. MSNBC and CNN aren't even in the top 10.
In fact, ratings are falling for more liberal-oriented MSNBC and CNN. Even the darlings of the "progressive" community -- Keith Olbermann and Rachael Maddow -- face erosion of viewers while their favorite targets -- Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck -- watch their numbers rise.
Most viewers, it appears, prefer their "news" with a conservative slant.
The brazen attack that killed seven CIA employees at a remote outpost in Afghanistan is likely to raise questions about whether the agency could do more to protect its operatives on dangerous assignments.
Lawmakers on Thursday issued their condolences and withheld any judgment. But officials said they expected an eventual inquiry as to whether the CIA should re-examine how it deploys individuals in hostile regions and the lengths operatives are allowed to go to get information.
"We owe these brave men and women, and their families who are forever impacted, our deepest appreciation and thanks," said Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who had met with the CIA team on a recent trip to Afghanistan.
A federal judge cited repeated government missteps in dismissing all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in a case that inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed the case against the guards accused of the shooting in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007.
The shooting in busy Nisoor Square left 17 Iraqis dead. The Iraqi government wanted the guards to face trial in Iraq and officials there said they would closely watch how the U.S. judicial system handled the case.
President Barack Obama is reviewing reports from homeland security officials as his administration tries to determine what U.S. policy and personnel failures preceded the attempted Detroit jetliner bombing.
Intelligence officials, meanwhile, prepared for what was shaping up to be uncomfortable hearings before Congress about miscommunication among anti-terror agencies and sweeping changes expected under Obama's watch.
Democrats joined a chorus led by Obama in declaring the government's intelligence procedures in need of repair. Among them, Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said that when the government gets tipped to trouble as it did before a 23-year-old Nigerian man boarded the Northwest Airlines jet with explosives, "someone's hair should be on fire."
Republican attorneys general in 13 states say congressional leaders must remove Nebraska's political deal from the federal health care reform bill or face legal action, according to a letter provided to The Associated Press Wednesday.
"We believe this provision is constitutionally flawed," South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and the 12 other attorneys general wrote in the letter to be sent Wednesday night to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"As chief legal officers of our states we are contemplating a legal challenge to this provision and we ask you to take action to render this challenge unnecessary by striking that provision," they wrote.
CIA employees are believed to be among the dead in Wednesday's suicide bombing inside a base in eastern Afghanistan, a congressional official said.
A former senior CIA officer who was stationed at the base said a combination of agency officers and contractors operated out of the remote outpost with the military and other agencies.
The CIA has not yet commented on or confirmed the deaths.
The congressional official said it was not clear how many of the victims were assigned to the CIA.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
U.S. officials said the attack occurred at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province, killing eight American civilians and wounding others.