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IRAQ DEATH TOLL
U.S. MILITARY DEATHS (IRAQ): 3218
U.S. MILITARY WOUNDED (IRAQ): 24,042
IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS (MIN): 59,326
'EXCESS' IRAQI DEATHS: 655,000
SICK & SAD
Police: Woman accused of killing newborn ate brain
By PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press Writer Paul J. Weber, Associated Press Writer – 07/27/09
SAN ANTONIO – A woman charged with murdering her 3 1/2-week-old son used a knife and two swords to dismember the child and ate parts of his body, including his brain, before stabbing herself in the torso and slicing her own throat, police said Monday.
Otty Sanchez, 33, is charged with capital murder in the death of her infant son, Scott Wesley Buchholtz-Sanchez. She was recovering from her wounds at a hospital, and was being held on $1 million bail.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the early Sunday morning attack occurred a week after the child's father moved out. Otty Sanchez's sister and her sister's two children, ages 5 and 7, were in the house, but none were harmed.
Otty Sanchez's aunt, Gloria Sanchez, said her niece had been "in and out" of a psychiatric ward, and that the hospital called several months ago looking to check up on her. She did not elaborate on the nature of her niece's health problems.
"Otty didn't mean to do that. She was not in her right mind," a sobbing Gloria Sanchez told The Associated Press on Monday by phone. She said her family was devastated.
McManus, who appeared uncomfortable as he addressed reporters, said Sanchez apparently ate the child's brain and some other body parts. She also decapitated the infant, tore off his face and chewed off three of his toes before stabbing herself.
"It's too heinous for me to describe it any further," McManus said.
McManus described the crime scene as so grisly that police officers barely spoke to each other while looking through the house. Parts of the child were missing, including pieces that Sanchez allegedly ate.
"At this particular scene you could have heard a pin drop," McManus said. "No one was speaking. It was about as somber as it could have been."
Officers called to Sanchez's house at about 5 a.m. Sunday found her sitting on the couch screaming "I killed my baby! I killed my baby!" McManus said. They found the boy's body in a bedroom.
Police said Sanchez said the devil told her to kill her son and that she was hearing voices.
"It was a spontaneous utterance," McManus said.
Police said Sanchez did not have an attorney, and they declined to identify family members who might speak on her behalf.
No one answered the door Monday at Sanchez's one-story home, where the blinds were shut. A hopscotch pattern and red hearts were drawn on the walk leading up to the house.
Neighbor Luis Yanez, 23, said his kids went to school with one of the small children who lived at the house. He said he often saw a woman playing outside with the children but didn't know whether it was Otty.
"Why would you do that to your baby?" said Yanez, a tire technician. "It brings chills to you. They can't defend themselves."
Authorities said Sanchez and her sister took turns watching the baby Sunday morning, and that the boy was placed in Sanchez's care at about 1:30 a.m. Her sister discovered what happened about three hours later and called police.
Investigators are looking into whether postpartum depression could have played a role in the attack, McManus said. Authorities said they were looking into Sanchez's mental health history to see if there was anything "significant" but did not elaborate.
Associated Press researcher Susan James contributed to this report from New York.
Gov't plan can coexist with private insurance
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press Writer – 07/27/09
WASHINGTON – A new government health insurance plan sought by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats could coexist with private insurers without driving them out of business, an analysis by nonpartisan budget experts suggests.
The estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — seen as good news by Democrats — comes as leaders pushed Monday to make progress on health care overhaul before lawmakers go home for their August recess.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says a floor vote is still possible in the next few days, and Democrats called a meeting of all their House members late Monday afternoon. In the Senate, a small group of lawmakers from both parties were resuming negotiations in search of an elusive compromise.
Obama's ambitious timetable for his top domestic priority has slipped as Democratic dissension has slowed the legislative work.
The White House and congressional Democrats were angered two weeks ago when the budget office director, Douglas Elmendorf, told Congress that the House bill lacked mechanisms to bring health care costs under control.
Now, Democrats are using the budget office's suggestion that a government-run insurance plan would not destroy private insurers to rebut one of the main charges against their proposal — that it would lead to a federal takeover of the private health insurance marketplace.
The controversy seems far from settled, given uncertainty over projections of how a revamped health care system would work.
Polls have shown that Americans support the idea of a public coverage option as part of health care overhaul. The insurance industry and employer groups say it could drive private insurers out of business, particularly if the government plan had the power to pay medical providers below-market rates.
More than 160 million workers and family members now get health insurance through an employer. A widely cited study by the Lewin Group, a private health research firm, estimated that more than 100 million people would sign up for the public plan proposed by House Democrats, making it the dominant insurer in the land.
But the budget office, in a letter Sunday to a senior Republican lawmaker, said its own estimate for the same legislation is "substantially smaller."
CBO estimates that only 11 million to 12 million people would sign up for the public plan — making it a much smaller player in the market. The government coverage would be available alongside private plans through a new kind of insurance purchasing pool called an exchange. CBO estimated about 6 million of those enrolled in the public plan would be workers and family members of employers that joined the exchange.
The reasons the estimates are so far apart have to do with different underlying assumptions.
The CBO estimated that the public plan would offer premiums about 10 percent lower than private plans; the Lewin analysis estimates the premiums would be at least 20 percent lower. The CBO estimates that only individuals and workers in companies with fewer than 50 employees would join the exchange, while Lewin estimated the exchange would eventually be open to all workers.
As if to underscore how such estimates can vary, the Urban Institute public policy center also ran calculations — and came up with different numbers. The Urban Institute estimated that about 47 million people would sign up for the public plan, if companies with fewer than 50 workers were allowed to join.
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