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The nation in brief

Posted: August 6, 2014 at 5 a.m.

North Salt Lake landslide wrecks home

NORTH SALT LAKE, Utah -- A landslide struck an upscale suburban Salt Lake City community Tuesday, destroying a home and forcing evacuations as a rain-soaked hillside as wide as three football fields tumbled from above.

No one was hurt in the slide in North Salt Lake, where residents of the manicured neighborhood near a tennis and swim club said they could hear the hillside rumbling hours before it tumbled.

Images showed the 2,960-square-foot home pushed onto the driveway and over large landscaping rocks. Walls were ripped from the roof, and windows were blown out. Three homes remained in immediate danger with more rain expected later in the day, and city crews were moving loose soil, building a berm and draining nearby pools to divert afternoon rain in hopes of preventing another landslide.

The slide came as severe thunderstorms hit Utah and Nevada. On Tuesday, cleanup was underway in Carbon County, southeast of Salt Lake City, after flooding damaged about 100 homes. Road crews were cleaning up and providing hundreds of sandbags for people affected by a severe thunderstorm Monday night.

Agency assessing overseas tax breaks

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration is weighing plans to circumvent Congress and act on its own to curtail tax benefits for U.S. companies that relocate overseas to lower their tax bills, seeking to stanch a recent wave of so-called corporate inversions, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Tuesday.

Treasury Department officials are rushing to assemble a broad array of options that would "change the economics of inversions," Lew said. Options are still being developed although no final decision has been made about whether to go forward with administrative action to strip away tax incentives for the deals.

The action comes in the face of a recent increase in U.S. companies reaching deals to reorganize overseas. Investment banks have been counseling companies to pursue such transactions because of the potential tax benefits. Two large U.S. pharmaceutical companies -- the drug giant AbbVie, based in Illinois, and the generic manufacturer Mylan, based in Pennsylvania -- agreed to such deals last month, and Walgreen, owner of the drugstore chain, is considering one.

"Time is of the essence," Lew said in an interview. "We are looking at a very long list of possible ways to address the issue."

Utah takes nuptials ban to high court

Utah asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revive its same-sex marriage ban, becoming the first state to do so since the high court last year struck down a law that barred the federal government from recognizing gay marriage.

Since that ruling in June 2013, gay-marriage advocates have tallied more than two dozen lower-court victories without a single defeat. Utah's prohibition was the first in that spate of cases to be found unconstitutional by a federal appeals court.

The 5-4 ruling in U.S. v. Windsor is the high court's most definitive take on the constitutional rights of gay couples. Striking down a 1996 U.S. law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex spouses, the court's majority said the measure created a "second-tier marriage" for gay couples.

While courts have consistently read last year's ruling as undercutting any rationale for state bans, Utah argued the opposite in Tuesday's petition for review. The state said the June decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver that its ban is unconstitutional runs afoul of the conclusion in the Windsor case that defining domestic relations belongs with the states.

Hawaii readies for back-to-back storms

HONOLULU -- Hawaii residents loaded up on bottled water and canned meat Tuesday to prepare for the unusual threat of a hurricane and tropical storm barreling toward the islands.

Two big storms so close together are rare in the eastern Pacific, and Hurricane Iselle could make landfall by Friday and Tropical Storm Julio could hit two or three days later, weather officials said.

News of the second storm system heightened the urgency to prepare, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said Tuesday. His county, also known as the Big Island, was expected to see Iselle first.

Hurricane Iselle is expected to weaken, "but it still could be at or near hurricane strength" when it hits, said James Franklin, chief of hurricane specialists for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

The outlook for Julio is more uncertain. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu would issue any hurricane watches or warnings.

The clustered storms are rare but not unexpected in years with a developing El Nino, a change in ocean temperature that affects weather around the world.

A Section on 08/06/2014

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