Top Stories: Worldwide

The following are the day's top general news stories:

1. House Opens Debate on Republican Promise to Repeal Obama's Health-Care Law 2. Conrad Joins Republican Call for U.S. Budget Cuts With Any Debt Increase 3. Package That Ignited at Washington Post Office Was Addressed to Napolitano 4. Lottery Jackpots Are No Sure Thing for Ailing U.S. States as Sales Decline 5. Titans to Retain Fisher, Extending Longest Tenure of Any Current NFL Coach

1. House Opens Debate on Republican Promise to Repeal Obama's Health-Care Law

The U.S. House´s new Republican majority began its drive to repeal President Barack Obama´s health-care overhaul law, an effort Democrats derided as a politically motivated diversion from more pressing matters. The Republicans, who campaigned on a promise to repeal the health-care law enacted last year when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, scheduled a Jan. 12 vote on their two-page measure. It is entitled the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act." The measure has little likelihood of success because Democrats, who retained control of the Senate in November´s elections, have vowed to block it. The Obama administration, citing a Congressional Budget Office estimate that the repeal would add $230 billion to the deficit over a decade, said the president would veto the legislation should it reach his desk. Republicans today pressed their case against the overhaul, which passed the House in March solely with Democratic votes.

2. Conrad Joins Republican Call for U.S. Budget Cuts With Any Debt Increase

The Democratic head of the Senate Budget Committee said he won´t vote for a long-term increase in the federal debt limit unless the Obama administration and congressional leaders of both parties agree to trillions of dollars in budget cuts. Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota said today he will withhold his support for raising the debt limit unless the spending cuts approach the $4 trillion proposed last month by the chairmen of President Barack Obama´s debt commission. "I want a plan adopted that deals with the long-term debt before I vote for any long-term extension of the debt," he said in an interview. Conrad also said he wouldn´t object to a short- term increase in the debt limit while lawmakers work on a longer-term solution. Republican leaders, who now control the U.S. House, said yesterday they will insist on government spending reductions as a condition to boosting the $14.29 trillion debt limit by March 31, the date requested by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

3. Package That Ignited at Washington Post Office Was Addressed to Napolitano

A package that ignited today at a Washington post office was addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a U.S. official said. The official, who wasn´t authorized to speak on the matter and asked for anonymity, said the package caught fire when postal workers threw it into a bin. The package "was similar in nature" to two smoldering packages found yesterday at Maryland government buildings, Cathy Lanier, Washington´s police chief, told reporters at a news conference. Today´s incident, which prompted the post office´s evacuation, didn´t result in any injuries, said Officer Hugh Carew, a police spokesman, in an interview.

4. Lottery Jackpots Are No Sure Thing for Ailing U.S. States as Sales Decline

Even the lure of multimillion-dollar jackpots hasn´t been a sure bet for cash-strapped U.S. states to keep lottery revenue on the rise. Income from lottery-ticket sales in fiscal year 2009 fell to $52.3 billion, a 0.9 percent drop from the previous year, according to data released by the Census Bureau. It was the first decline since 1998 and cut profits by $511 million from a year earlier to $17.7 billion, leaving states with less cash to balance budgets and aid cities and towns. Figures released this week, based on government finance data from 50 states, show that once-steady streams of cash for capitals from Sacramento to Boston were slowed by the worst recession since the 1930s. As U.S. unemployment hovered around 10 percent, people cut back playing state-sponsored games to strike it rich. "When you have less money for everything, you´re going to cut back everywhere," said Mark Cavanagh, the executive director of the Massachusetts state lottery. "You´re not going to go out to eat as much, you´re not going to see as many movies, and you´re not going to play as much lottery."

5. Titans to Retain Fisher, Extending Longest Tenure of Any Current NFL Coach

Jeff Fisher will remain coach of the Tennessee Titans next season, extending to 18 years the longest tenure of any current National Football League coach with one franchise. Titans owner Bud Adams, who earlier this week said he was still deliberating whether to bring back Fisher after a 6-10 season, said in a statement released by the team that "Jeff Fisher will be our head coach next season." Fisher has a 142-120 record with the franchise. He spent three years as coach of the Houston Oilers beginning in 1994, then moved with the team to Tennessee in 1997. The 52-year-old Fisher began his NFL coaching career as an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1986. "Jeff has meant a great deal to this franchise and we have reached some incredible heights under his leadership," Adams said. "Obviously, I have very high expectations for our football team and want to deliver a championship to our fans. Jeff understands this and shares my expectations."

-0- Jan/08/2011 00:35 GMT

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