WASHINGTON

Anti-tax increase pledge helps GOP, Norquist says

All but 13 of the 289 Republicans in the House and Senate have signed a pledge vowing to oppose tax increases. On Thursday, the author of that pledge met with some of them to help them understand exactly what it is they signed.

In the process, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist sparked a fresh barrage of criticism from Democrats who accuse him and his pledge of being one of the major impediments to a bipartisan debt-cutting deal. Norquist and Republicans defended the pledge, denied that he is hurting his party because he has become a political target, and said that Washington’s gridlock on the issue is not his fault.

The pledge has been “extremely helpful” to the Republican Party, Norquist told reporters after meeting privately with Republicans for about an hour, saying it has helped Republicans define a position that is popular with voters.

ALBANY, N.Y.

Bus monitor video becomes rallying point against bullies

A video of a 68-year-old school bus monitor being mercilessly taunted by seventh-graders became a rallying point against bullies Thursday, with a fund for the New York state grandmother raising at least $380,000 and a deluge of people demanding harsh punishment for the boys.

Police said Karen Klein does not want her young tormenters to face criminal charges, partly because of the storm of criticism leveled at the boys from the Rochester suburb of Greece after the video went viral.

The verbal abuse was captured in a 10-minute cellphone video recorded Monday by a student of Athena Middle School in suburban Rochester and later posted to YouTube. The video shows Klein trying her best to ignore the stream of profanity, insults and outright threats directed at her.

One student taunted: “You don’t have a family because they all killed themselves because they don’t want to be near you.” Klein’s oldest son killed himself 10 years ago.

— From news service reports