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DETROIT (AP) - Some experts believe the time is right for serious talks aimed at solving a pension shortfall in Detroit's bankruptcy case.

Judge Steven Rhodes said Tuesday that pensions can be cut as part of an overall plan to bring Detroit out of bankruptcy.  It's a blow to more than 20,000 retirees who argue that the Michigan Constitution offers complete protection.

Most city pensioners get less than $20,000 a year.

Former bankruptcy judge Melanie Cyganowski says a settlement would bring certainty to anxious retirees. Unions acknowledge that negotiation is important but they're pledging to appeal the judge's decision.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr says he understands the hardship. But he says the city doesn't have money to shore up pension funds that are underfunded by $3.5 billion.

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PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona's workplace safety agency is recommending that the state Forestry Division pay a nearly $560,000 fine in the deaths of 19 firefighters.

The citations proposed Wednesday by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health say forestry officials managing the Yarnell Hill Fire placed the protection of structures and pastureland above firefighter safety.

The proposals also say that downwind crews weren't removed when suppression became ineffective.

The safety agency is presenting the proposals to the state Industrial Commission at a meeting in Phoenix. The commission has the final say on whether the fines are imposed.

The Arizona State Forestry Division oversaw the blaze that trapped the Granite Mountain Hotshots on state land.

A separate report into the circumstances surrounding the June 30 deaths of the firefighters found communications lapses but concluded that proper procedure was followed.

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Recordings of 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting show town dispatchers calmly responding to a janitor, a teacher and others and assuring them help is coming.

The operators urge the people inside the school to take cover as they reach out to town officials and state police for help. The operators also ask about the welfare of the children.

A gunman shot his way into the school on the morning of Dec. 14 and gunned down 20 children and six educators with a semi-automatic rifle. He committed suicide as police arrived.

The calls to Newtown police were posted Wednesday on a town website. A court ordered the release of the tapes last week, despite the objections of prosecutors, after a legal challenge by The Associated Press.

Read more...

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