For Paul Ryan and his budget ax, a perilous path to GOP ticket: hacking at popular programs
WASHINGTON (AP) — Paul Ryan traveled a perilous route to political stardom. While other lawmakers nervously whistled past trillion-dollar deficits, fearing to cut popular programs, he waded in with a machete and a smile.
Ryan wants to slice away at Medicare, food stamps and virtually every other government program but the military.
Democrats, led by President Barack Obama, have made him their budget boogeyman. Even many fellow Republicans were reluctant to follow him at first.
But Ryan has become a hero to deficit hawks. Twice now, the Republican-led House has embraced his austere budget plans. And in these tea party-infused, economically bleak days, Ryan's fiscal ideas have moved into the Republican Party's mainstream, just in time to be tested in the 2012 elections.
As Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, the GOP's boisterous budget outrider is now its loudest voice on taxes and spending.
Dems hit Romney, Ryan on Medicare; Obama in Iowa blames Ryan for blocking key farm bill aid
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Led by President Barack Obama, Democrats claimed on Monday that Republican challenger Mitt Romney privately backs controversial plans to overhaul Medicare and cut trillions from social programs that his new vice presidential running mate has publicly proposed.
Rep. Paul Ryan "has given definition to the vague commitments that Romney has been making," Vice President Joe Biden said as the Democrats welcomed the Wisconsin lawmaker to the race with a barrage of criticism. "There is no distinction" between the two, he said.
Romney lauded his running mate's work as he resumed his own four-day bus trip through campaign battleground states.
Ryan has "come up with ideas that are very different than the president's," Romney said in Florida, the state with the highest percentage of residents age 65 and over. "The president's idea for Medicare was to cut it by $700 billion. That's not the right answer. We want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare."
The former Massachusetts governor did not say so, but the tax-and-spending plans Ryan produced in the past two years as chairman of the House Budget Committee call for the repeal of Obama's health care plan but also would retain the $700 billion in Medicare cuts that were part of it.
Officer among 3 dead after gunman being served eviction notice opens fire from Texas house
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — A deadly shootout erupted Monday near the Texas A&M University campus when a man being brought an eviction notice opened fire on a Texas law enforcement officer, leaving three people dead, including the officer and the gunman.
Police say Thomas Alton Caffall, 35, opened fire on Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann just after noon as the lawman brought an eviction notice. Both men were later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police identified Chris Northcliff, 43, as the third person killed in the shootings at an off-campus home not far from the university's football stadium. Three other law enforcement officers and a 55-year-old woman were wounded, College Station Assistant Police Chief Scott McCollum said.
Caffall's sister said Monday night the family was "shocked" by the violence.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and this is just a senseless tragedy," said Courtney Clark, Caffall's sister, reached Monday evening at her mother's home in Navasota, about 20 miles to the south. "We are just distraught by the havoc that he has caused."
Panetta says Pakistan plans new combat operation in North Waziristan, targeting Taliban
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pakistan has told U.S. military officials that it plans to launch combat operations against Taliban militants soon in a tribal area near the Afghan border that also serves as a haven for leaders of the al-Qaida-affiliated Haqqani network, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday.
Speaking to The Associated Press in his Pentagon office, Panetta said Pakistan's military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, discussed the planned operation in recent conversations with the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.
Panetta said he did not know when the Pakistani operation would start, but he said he understands it will be in the "near future," and that the main target will be the Pakistani Taliban, rather than the Haqqani network.
Panetta welcomed Kayani's initiative, even though the main target may not be the Haqqani leadership.
"They've talked about it for a long time. Frankly, I'd lost hope that they were going do anything about it. But it does appear that they in fact are going to take that step."
Longtime Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown, who made sexual revolution accessible, dies at 90
NEW YORK (AP) — It was not the kind of advice women were used to hearing:
— Make a list of the men in your life and arrange them in categories: "The Eligibles," ''The Eligibles-But-Who-Needs-Them," ''The Don Juans," ''The Divorcing Man."
— "Marriage is insurance for the worst years of your life." Save the "best" for when you're single.
— "Travel on boats is strictly B.Y.O.M (Bring Your Own Man)."
— And forget about church. "Spiritual benefits," yes. Prospects for bed, unlikely.
Syrian rebels claim they downed warplane, release video purporting to show captured pilot
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels circulated dramatic video Monday of what they claimed was the downing of a warplane and armed men later holding the captured pilot who ejected as the MiG fighter was engulfed by flames. Syria acknowledged a pilot bailed out of a disabled plane but blamed the crash on a technical malfunction.
The authenticity of the images or the claims could not be independently verified. If the rebels did bring down their first aircraft, that could signal a significant jump in their firepower and give opposition forces their most high-profile military captive.
But wider questions remain even if the rebel reports are confirmed, including whether this could be just a one-time blow against expanding air offensives by the forces of Bashar Assad's regime. Just days ago, protesters across Syria pleaded for the rebels' main backers — including Turkey and Gulf states — to send anti-aircraft weapons for outgunned fighters.
Assad's military has significantly stepped up aerial attacks in recent weeks. Strafing from warplanes and close-range missile strikes from helicopter gunships have pushed back rebels in key fronts such as Aleppo, the country's largest city and the scene of fierce attacks to dislodge rebel positions.
As the sun was setting on Monday, an Associated Press reporter saw two fighter jets over the village of Marea, 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Aleppo.
President Morsi shifts Egypt's balance of power with major shake-up of military
CAIRO (AP) — In retaking key powers and shaking up the military brass, President Mohammed Morsi has sharply shifted Egypt's balance of power overnight and transformed his public image from a weak leader to a savvy politician.
If unchallenged, the moves could end six decades of de facto military rule in Egypt. But they also raise a new concern at home and abroad — the concentration of power in the hands of Islamists.
With the military as the backbone of the Egyptian state for the past 60 years, the country's first civilian and freely elected president must have closely coordinated his moves with top members of the military establishment to ensure their execution, according to analysts who closely monitor Egypt's military.
That reality underlines how much care a civilian president must take if he wants to assert his authority over a military accustomed to having one of its own filling the land's highest office.
The military sent a message of reassurance Monday about Morsi's surprise decision to retire the defense minister and chief of staff and retake powers the generals grabbed from his office days before his June 30 inauguration.
Mayo Clinic says Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. being treated for bipolar disorder
CHICAGO (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a Chicago Democrat who took a hushed medical leave two months ago, is being treated for bipolar disorder, the Mayo Clinic announced Monday.
The Rochester, Minn.-based clinic specified his condition as Bipolar II, which is defined as periodic episodes of depression and hypomania, a less serious form of mania.
"Congressman Jackson is responding well to the treatment and regaining his strength," the clinic said in a statement.
Bipolar II is a treatable condition that affects parts of the brain controlling emotion, thought and drive and is likely caused "by a complex set of genetic and environmental factors," the clinic said. The statement also mentioned that Jackson underwent weight loss surgery in 2004 and said such a surgery can change how the body absorbs foods and medications, among other things.
The statement Monday was the most detailed to date about the congressman's mysterious medical leave, which began June 10. But it raised new questions about when the congressman can return to work.
House files lawsuit against Attorney General Holder in effort to enforce contempt resolution
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-run House on Monday asked a federal court to enforce a subpoena against Attorney General Eric Holder, demanding that he produce records on a bungled gun-tracking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious.
The lawsuit asked the court to reject a claim by President Barack Obama asserting executive privilege, a legal position designed to protect certain internal administration communications from disclosure.
The failure of Holder and House Republicans to work out a deal on the documents led to votes in June that held the attorney general in civil and criminal contempt of Congress. The civil contempt resolution led to Monday's lawsuit.
Holder refused requests by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to hand over — without preconditions — documents that could explain why the Justice Department initially denied in February 2011 that a risky tactic was used to allow firearms to "walk" from Arizona to Mexico.
Federal agents lost track of many of the guns. The operation identified more than 2,000 illicitly purchased weapons, and some 1,400 of them have yet to be recovered.
Johnny Pesky, beloved by Red Sox fans and symbol of the club, dies at 92
BOSTON (AP) — Adored by generations of Red Sox fans, Johnny Pesky was so much a part of Boston baseball that the right-field foul pole at Fenway Park was named for him.
Pesky, who played, managed and served as a broadcaster for the Red Sox in a baseball career that lasted more than 60 years, died Monday. He was 92.
"The national pastime has lost one of its greatest ambassadors," baseball commissioner Bud Selig said. "Johnny Pesky, who led a great American life, was an embodiment of loyalty and goodwill for the Boston Red Sox and all of Major League Baseball."
Pesky died just more than a week after his final visit to Fenway, on Aug. 5 when Boston beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4.
Yet for many in the legion of Red Sox fans, their last image of Pesky will be from the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park on April 20, when the man known for his warmth, kindness and outstanding baseball career was moved to tears at a pregame ceremony. By then the former shortstop was in a wheelchair positioned at second base, surrounded by dozens of admiring former players and a cheering crowd.