In Colorado, tropical air snagged on mountain range equals disaster
DENVER (AP) — Except for the Big Thompson fly fishermen and tubers lolling down Boulder Creek, most residents of the Colorado Front Range usually pay little mind to the small rivers that trickle by on their way from the mountains to the plains.
Until this week, when more than a foot of rain from a storm system hung up on the Rocky Mountains supercharged those streams and others with a deadly force that left vast corridors of destruction stretching from the foothills to the farmland of the plains.
"The water came over and it was 2, 3 feet deep and broke our doors down," said Jack Hammond, who left his home in the foothills west of Lyons for a Fort Collins shelter with his wife, their daughter and their dog.
Dams along a chain of five small reservoirs failed upstream of Hammond's home on a Little Thompson tributary as the rain picked up Wednesday. As the family huddled upstairs, water downstairs toppled their refrigerator and dumped 6 inches of mud. Finally, on Friday, a Colorado National Guard helicopter hoisted them and their young German shepherd to safety.
In semi-arid Colorado, the problem is usually too little rain that leads to drought and wildfires. But when the skies open up, the potential for the biggest drenching lies along the Front Range, where the eastern foothills meet the plains and most of the state's population lives.
Fed is expected to scale back bond purchases even with economy at less than full health
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hiring is soft. Pay is barely up. Consumers are cautious. Economic growth has yet to pick up.
And yet on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is expected to take its first step toward reducing the extraordinary stimulus it's supplied to help the U.S. economy rebound from its deepest crisis since the Great Depression.
If it does, the Fed will likely spark a debate: Has the economy strengthened enough to withstand the pullback?
The answer might not be clear for months.
The Fed is meeting this week at a time of deepening uncertainty about who will succeed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term ends in January. On Sunday, Lawrence Summers, who was considered the leading candidate, withdrew from consideration.
Obama touting economy on 5th anniversary of Lehman Brothers' collapse
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is seeking credit for an economic turnaround, using the fifth anniversary of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank to highlight signs of recovery and to warn against potentially market-rattling fights over the federal budget and the nation's debt ceiling.
Obama was scheduled to address the state of the economy Monday in a Rose Garden speech, accompanied by a selection of Americans who the White House says have benefited from the administration's policies. The event marks the start of a week-long focus on the economy after a month of preoccupation with the crisis in Syria.
For Obama, the anniversary of Lehman's bankruptcy in 2008, which marked the beginning of the global financial crisis and played havoc with an economy already in recession, is an opportunity to confront public skepticism about his stewardship of the economy and to put down his marker for budget clashes with Congress in the weeks ahead.
The White House's National Economic Council on Sunday issued a report detailing economic policies that it says have helped shore up the financial system and put the economy on a path toward growth. Those steps range from the unpopular Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, that shored up the financial industry and bailed out auto giants General Motors and Chrysler, to an $800 billion stimulus bill to sweeping new bank regulations.
Gene Sperling, a top Obama adviser and director of the National Economic Council, said Obama's policies "have performed better than virtually anyone at the time predicted."
AP IMPACT: Thousands of US bridges that carry millions daily have multiple safety red flags
WASHINGTON (AP) — Motorists coming off the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge into Washington are treated to a postcard-perfect view of the U.S. Capitol. The bridge itself, however, is about as ugly as it gets: The steel underpinnings have thinned since the structure was built in 1950, and the span is pocked with rust and crumbling concrete.
District of Columbia officials were so worried about a catastrophic failure that they shored up the horizontal beams to prevent the bridge from falling into the Anacostia River.
And safety concerns about the Douglass bridge, which is used by more than 70,000 vehicles daily, are far from unique.
An Associated Press analysis of 607,380 bridges in the most recent federal National Bridge Inventory showed that 65,605 were classified as "structurally deficient" and 20,808 as "fracture critical." Of those, 7,795 were both — a combination of red flags that experts say indicate significant disrepair and similar risk of collapse.
A bridge is deemed fracture critical when it doesn't have redundant protections and is at risk of collapse if a single, vital component fails. A bridge is structurally deficient when it is in need of rehabilitation or replacement because at least one major component of the span has advanced deterioration or other problems that lead inspectors to deem its condition poor or worse.
At Conn. home of Aaron Hernandez's uncle, a window into the other side of the ex-NFL star
BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — Two friends of Aaron Hernandez were hanging out at the blue Cape-style house in Bristol when the NFL star beckoned them for an outing that ended with another friend's slaying, authorities said. Days later, police searching the small home found an SUV, rented in Hernandez's name, that Massachusetts authorities were seeking in connection with a July 2012 shooting that killed two people near a Boston night club.
As investigators work to unravel both murder cases, the house at 114 Lake Ave. appears to hold answers about the other side of the man once known to the public only as a talented tight end for the high-powered New England Patriots offense. Hernandez himself never lived at the house, which belongs to his uncle, but it was home to many people close to him who have since come under intense police scrutiny.
"It seems like people came and went at different times," said Lt. Kevin Morrell, the head of the Bristol Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division. "We have Mr. Hernandez as a frequent guest. He would spend a night, but we don't have him ever living there."
Hernandez, who grew up not far from the house in Bristol, is charged with murder in the shooting death of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, whose body was found June 17 not far from Hernandez's mansion in North Attleborough, Mass. He has pleaded not guilty.
Ernest Wallace, one of two friends also facing charges related to the shooting, had been living at the Lake Avenue house, and the other, Carlos Ortiz, had spent time living there, according to police. The men, who each had criminal records, returned to the house after Lloyd was killed, according to court filings.
Gap in employment rates between rich, poor at widest levels in records dating back a decade
WASHINGTON (AP) — The gap in employment rates between America's highest- and lowest-income families has stretched to its widest levels since officials began tracking the data a decade ago, according to an analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press.
Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families — those earning less than $20,000 — have topped 21 percent, nearly matching the rate for all workers during the 1930s Great Depression.
U.S. households with income of more than $150,000 a year have an unemployment rate of 3.2 percent, a level traditionally defined as full employment. At the same time, middle-income workers are increasingly pushed into lower-wage jobs. Many of them in turn are displacing lower-skilled, low-income workers, who become unemployed or are forced to work fewer hours, the analysis shows.
"This was no 'equal opportunity' recession or an 'equal opportunity' recovery," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. "One part of America is in depression, while another part is in full employment."
The findings follow the government's tepid jobs report this month that showed a steep decline in the share of Americans working or looking for work. On Sunday, President Barack Obama stressed the need to address widening inequality, warning that proposed budget cuts will worsen the gap.
SKoreans relieved to return to factory park in NKorea but also worried about months of losses
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North and South Koreans got back to work Monday at a jointly run factory park after a five-month shutdown triggered by rising animosity between the rivals, with some companies quickly resuming production and others getting their equipment ready. South Korean business owners who have lost millions of dollars because of the hiatus say they'll need several months to recover.
"I feel good about the park's resumption, but I also have a heavy heart," said Sung Hyun-sang, president of apparel manufacturer Mansun Corporation, which has lost about 7 billion won ($6.4 million) because of the shutdown at the Kaesong factory complex. "We've suffered too much damage."
About 800 South Korean managers and tens of thousands of North Korean workers began returning Monday to the factories at the Kaesong park, just north of the Demilitarized Zone.
The reopening is a sign that relations between the Koreas are warming after a spring that saw threats of nuclear war from Pyongyang.
But for businessmen at Kaesong, many of whom operate small or mid-sized companies, there's a nagging worry about the future. The companies at Kaesong say they've lost a combined total of about 1 trillion won (about $920 million) over the past five months and will reportedly need up to a year to get their businesses back on track.
Operation to right shipwrecked Concordia liner off Tuscany begins after storm delays start
GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy (AP) — A complex system of pulleys and counterweights on Monday gently began lifting up the Costa Concordia cruise ship from its side on a Tuscan reef where it capsized in 2012, an anxiously awaited operation of a kind that has never been attempted on such a huge liner.
Engineer Sergio Girotto said the operation to right the ship began at about 9 a.m. (0700GMT) Monday, three hours late.
The delay was due to an early morning storm that pushed back the scheduled positioning of a floating command room center close to the wreckage. Once it was in place, engineers using remote controls began guiding a synchronized leverage system of pulleys, counterweights and huge chains looped under the Concordia's carcass to delicately nudge the ship free from its rocky seabed perch just outside Giglio Island's harbor.
The goal is to raise it from its side by 65 degrees to vertical, as a ship would normally be, for eventual towing. The operation was expected to take some 10-12 hours, with the initial hours winching the ship off the reef imperceptible to the unaided eye.
The operation, known in nautical parlance as parbuckling, is a proven method to raise capsized vessels.
Ocean frolic on tap for 1st day of new Miss America's reign
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The new Miss America will start the first day of her reign the same way most of her predecessors did — with a frolic in the Atlantic City surf.
Nina Davuluri will speak at a press conference earlier in the day at Boardwalk Hall, where she became the first contestant of Indian heritage to win the crown Sunday night.
The 24-year-old Syracuse N.Y., native wants to become a doctor.
A planned visit later in the day to the scene of last week's devastating boardwalk fire in the New Jersey communities of Seaside Park and Seaside Heights was canceled when pageant officials realized it would interfere with a rebuilding meeting set for the same time.
Thunder, lightning and Lynch: Seahawks rely on Marshawn Lynch in 29-3 blowout of 49ers
SEATTLE (AP) — Richard Sherman celebrated by dancing with cheerleaders, Marshawn Lynch cut, plowed and strolled his way to three touchdowns, and Pete Carroll got one rousing birthday gift.
The awaited NFC West showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers was a one-sided rout.
Lynch scored on touchdown runs of 14 and two yards, and added a seven-yard TD reception in the second half, Seattle flustered Colin Kaepernick into his worst passing game as a starter, and the Seahawks dominated in a 29-3 win Sunday night.
"Every game we feel like we should dominate, and we did," Seattle safety Earl Thomas said.
The game was delayed 60 minutes late in the first quarter when thunderstorms blew through the area. The highly anticipated matchup was sloppy as opposed to sensational, but Lynch more than did his part.