Vt. governor chased by 4 bears in backyard

Posted April 13, 2012, at 8:37 p.m.
Last modified April 13, 2012, at 9:03 p.m.

MONTPELIER, Vt. — A late-night encounter with four bears trying to snack from backyard birdfeeders gave Vermont’s governor a lesson in what not to do in bear country.

One of the bears chased Peter Shumlin and nearly caught the governor while he was trying to shoo the animals away, he said Friday.

“I had a close encounter with a bear, four bears to be exact,” Shumlin said.

Shumlin said he had just gone to bed inside his rented home on the edge of Montpelier late Wednesday when the bears woke him up. He looked out the window and saw the bears in a tree about five feet from the house trying to get food from his four birdfeeders.

“I open up the window and yell at them to get away from the birdfeeders. They kind of trot off,” Shumlin said Friday. “I go around to the kitchen to turn the lights on and look from the other side and they’re back in the birdfeeders. So I figure I’ve got to get the birdfeeders out of there or they’re going to make this a habit.”

He said he then ran out and first grabbed two of the feeders. As he grabbed the other two and made his escape, “one of the bigger bears was interested in me.”

“It was probably six feet from me before I slammed the door and it ran the other way,” Shumlin said.

Shumlin, 56, a first term Democratic governor from Putney, said he had part of the encounter

on video, which he refused to release.

Obama’s tax rate was 20.5%, lower than his secretary’s

WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama mounts an aggressive campaign on what he calls tax fairness, his own tax burden has fallen to the lowest of his time in the White House.

The president and first lady reported a joint adjusted gross income of $789,674 last year and paid $162,074 in federal taxes, or about 20.5 percent, according to the tax return released Friday by the White House. That income keeps the Obamas in the top 1 percent of taxpayers.

The Obamas’ overall tax rate is slightly lower than the average for people in the top tier, largely because they made significant donations to charity. Data compiled by the Tax Policy Center show the average income tax rate for those making more than $532,000 is 24 percent. Obama’s rate was closer to the average for household earning more than $210,000 — 19.2 percent

The Obamas’ overall rate was still much higher than that of most middle-income Americans. Households making between $60,000 and $100,000 paid on average 8 percent of their income in federal incomes taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Obama’s rate is also notably higher than the one paid by his presumed Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, who paid about 14 percent of his income in federal income taxes last year.

But the Obamas’ tax bite was slightly lower than the rate paid by the president’s secretary, Anita Decker Breckenridge, who makes a $95,000 salary, the White House confirmed Friday.

Romney asks to delay filing 2011 taxes

LOS ANGELES — Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney asked for an extension Friday to file his 2011 tax return.

The former Massachusetts governor and his wife Ann appear to owe no taxes, having $3.2 million in liability but having made $3.4 million in payments, according the documents filed.

Romney will file his return before the November election, according to a spokeswoman.

Romney’s taxes have been a continual cause of controversy in the 2012 presidential campaign because of his reluctance to release details. Under pressure from his Republican primary rivals, he released his 2010 returns in January, which showed he paid about $3 million on nearly $22 million of income.

He also contributed about $3 million to charity, reducing his effective tax rate to less than 14 percent.

The disclosures prompted additional controversy, because some investments listed on the tax returns, such as a now-closed Swiss bank account and other overseas funds, were not explicitly disclosed in a personal financial disclosure statement Romney filed in August.

Forecasters say Saturday storms ‘life threatening’

OKLAHOMA CITY — In an unusually early and strong warning, national weather forecasters cautioned Friday that conditions are ripe for violent tornadoes to rip through the nation from Texas to Minnesota this weekend.

On Friday storms were already kicking off in Norman, Okla., where a twister whizzed by the nation’s tornado forecasting headquarters but caused little damage.

It was only the second time in U.S. history that the Storm Prediction Center issued a high-risk warning more than 24 hours in advance, said Russ Schneider, director of the center, which is part of the National Weather Service. The first time was in April 2006, when nearly 100 tornadoes tore across the southeastern U.S., killing a dozen people and damaging more than 1,000 homes in Tennessee.

RI Marine killed in Afghanistan

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Military officials say a Marine from Camp Lejeune has been killed in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense announced Friday that 25-year-old Lance Cpl. Abraham Tarwoe of Providence, R.I., died April 12 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province,

Tarwoe was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee has ordered U.S. and Rhode Island flags on state public buildings to be flown at half-staff until Tarwoe’s funeral.

Syrians rally amid heavy military presence

BEIRUT — Tens of thousands of re-energized opponents of the Syrian government gathered Friday for demonstrations on a second day marked by relatively low levels of violence, but the U.N. Security Council was unable to agree on a mission to monitor further implementation of a peace plan.

The protests that now habitually take place after Friday prayers were much anticipated this week, coming 36 hours after a cease-fire mandated in the plan put forward last month by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, which also requires the government to allow peaceful demonstrations of dissent.

The plan has been endorsed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his allies in Russia and China and Western nations that have called for him to step down. However, a heavy military presence Friday thwarted major protests in most cities and eight civilians were killed across the country by security forces, according to a human rights official.

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