WASHINGTON

Budget talks going nowhere

A week after a standoff forced a three-day government shutdown, congressional budget talks remain bogged down by Democrats’ demands to protect “Dreamer” immigrants and GOP conservatives’ concerns about a booming federal deficit. The deadlock is deflating hopes that lawmakers will reach a breakthrough before another shutdown deadline next week. At risk are up to $80 billion in increases for the Pentagon this year alone, and nearly as much money for domestic programs. Almost $100 billion worth of overdue assistance for hurricane-slammed Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida is being held up.

GRETNA, La.

Man freed after four decades

A Louisiana man imprisoned for nearly four decades walked free Tuesday after his conviction in a 1979 rape was thrown out and prosecutors agreed to dismiss the charge. Malcolm Alexander, 58, sat quietly and smiled broadly as friends and relatives applauded and cried after state District Judge June Darensburg ordered his release. Roughly two hours later, he walked out of the Jefferson Parish jail in the New Orleans suburb of Gretna. Defense lawyers argued that Alexander’s trial lawyer failed to point out that the victim had been doubtful when she identified Alexander as her attacker in 1979.

JACKSON, Miss.

Ex-governor fined for gun

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he will pay a fine after being arrested with a loaded handgun in his briefcase as he went through an airport security checkpoint. Barbour — Republican National Committee chairman in the mid-1990s and governor from 2004-12 — told the Associated Press on Tuesday he was trying to board a flight Jan. 2 from Jackson to Washington. He said he forgot he was carrying the gun, which he had put in his briefcase after an assistant removed it from his car days earlier.

NEWARK, N.J.

Peacock not allowed on plane

A United Airlines passenger who tried to take her emotional support peacock with her on a cross-country flight had the bird turned away by the airline because of health and safety concerns. New York City-based photographer and performance artist Ventiko said she bought a ticket for her peacock, Dexter, so he would have his own seat on Sunday’s flight from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport to Los Angeles. A spokeswoman for United said the peacock didn’t meet guidelines for several reasons, including its size and weight and that the issues had been explained to the passenger three times “before they arrived at the airport.”

Beacon Journal/Ohio.com wires