Specter of gov't shutdown over health care law divides emerging field of 2016 GOP contenders
MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) — Sen. Ted Cruz says he will fight "with every breath" to stop the health care overhaul, even if it means shutting down segments of the federal government. That approach, warns former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is "quite dicey" politically for Republicans.
A clear divide over President Barack Obama's health care law separates the emerging field of potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates. And it offers a preview of the battle Republicans nationwide will fight in their effort to build the party and win back the White House.
On one side of the health care fight are Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Texas' Cruz and others who say they are standing on principle and willing to oppose the law at all costs.
On the other side are those taking what they call a pragmatic approach by accepting the law, if grudgingly, and moving on. Holding that view are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who says that shutting down the government would violate the public trust.
The Republican-controlled House passed a short-term spending plan Friday that would continue funding government operations through mid-December while withholding money for Obama's signature domestic accomplishment. Some GOP lawmakers also advocate holding back on increasing the nation's borrowing limit, which could result in a first-ever default, unless what they call "Obamacare" is brought down.
NKorea indefinitely postpones family reunions set for Wednesday, blames conservative forces
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Saturday indefinitely postponed reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War scheduled to start Wednesday, an apparent setback after weeks of improving ties following springtime threats of war.
North Korea said the six days of reunions, which last happened three years ago, could not be held because of South Korean conservatives' "reckless and vicious confrontation racket" against Pyongyang, a claim that North Korea routinely makes. It also vowed, in similarly familiar rhetoric, to "take strong and decisive counteractions against the South Korean puppet regime's ever-escalating war provocations."
The development, which an analyst called a North Korean attempt to gain an advantage in negotiations with Seoul, is a twist in what had been gradually easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang tempering its threats and pursuing talks meant to restart various inter-Korean cooperation projects.
The biggest highlight is the recent return of North and South Koreans to a jointly run factory park just across the border in North Korea after a five-month shutdown.
Pyongyang's announcement was likely linked to its frustration over delayed talks with Seoul to resume lucrative, jointly run tours to a North Korean mountain resort, and to a perception that Seoul wasn't supporting the North's push to restart stalled international aid-for-nuclear-disarmament negotiations, said Yoo Ho-Yeol, a professor of North Korean studies at Korea University in Seoul.
Decision time for Germany: Merkel favored to win 3rd term, but uncertain of clear mandate
BERLIN (AP) — She enjoys overwhelming popularity and leads an economy that's the envy of Europe. But Angela Merkel is in a fight to clinch a new term for her ruling coalition in Sunday's national election, with polls showing her center-right alliance on a knife-edge as her junior partner's support slumps.
Merkel and her conservative Christian Democratic Union appear likely to fend off a challenge from center-left rival Peer Steinbrueck and emerge as the biggest party in the lower house of Parliament, whose members choose the chancellor — making her the strong favorite to win a third term.
But no single party has won an absolute majority in Germany in more than 50 years. And surveys show Merkel's coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party, has fallen from the nearly 15 percent support it won in 2009 to about the 5 percent level needed to keep any seats in Parliament.
If Merkel's alliance falls short of a parliamentary majority, the likeliest outcome is a switch to a Merkel-led "grand coalition" of her conservatives with Steinbrueck's Social Democratic Party, the same combination of traditional rivals that ran Germany from 2005 to 2009 in Merkel's first term.
That is unlikely to produce a radical change in government policies. However, it could signal a subtle shift in emphasizing economic growth over the austerity that Germany has insisted on in exchange for bailing out economically weak European countries such as Greece.
A recounting of the few ups and many downs in the history of US-Iranian relations
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Iran's new president are scheduled to attend the U.N.'s annual meeting of the General Assembly next week, setting up the possibility of the first exchange between American and Iranian leaders in more than three decades.
Although their disagreements are grave and plentiful, President Hasan Rouhani's recent overtures have raised hopes of a thawing of U.S.-Iranian relations, which have experienced few ups and countless downs since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and subsequent hostage crisis at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
No one has confirmed a meeting, though Obama has long said he'd be open to discussion if Tehran shows it is serious about curbing its nuclear program.
A brief history of the long-strained relations between the United States and Iran:
AP Analysis: US-Russia deal on Syria props up Assad, deals major blow to beleaguered rebels
BEIRUT (AP) — For Syria's divided and beleaguered rebels, the creeping realization that there will not be a decisive Western military intervention on their behalf is a huge psychological blow.
President Bashar Assad's regime has gained strength, largely because the world community is concerned that if he is toppled the result may be an Islamist Syria in the grip of al-Qaida.
The immediate result has been an uptick this week in fighting between moderate and jihadi rebels.
The long-term outcome is likely to be a prolonged war of attrition that continues the slow destruction of Syria as a coherent state and further fans the flames of sectarian hatred and extremism in a turbulent Middle East.
Only two weeks ago, the Obama administration appeared poised to launch a U.S. military strike against the Syrian regime in response to the Aug 21 chemical weapons attack it says was launched by Assad's forces, killing hundreds of civilians in opposition-controlled areas near Damascus.
UK charges 4 men over $2.1 million cyber theft from Barclays Bank
LONDON (AP) — British police have charged four men in connection with the theft of 1.3 million pounds ($2.1 million) from a Barclays Bank branch.
The men — aged between 26 and 47 — were arrested Friday and accused of installing a device on the bank's computer system made it possible to carry out the cyber theft.
Police said cash, jewels and thousands of credit cards were found in related searches of addresses in the greater London area.
Police said Michael Victor Harper and Lewis James Murphy were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. Darius Bolder faces that charge and a charge of conspiracy to steal, while Tony Colston-Hayter is facing one count of conspiracy to steal.
The four will appear at London's Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday.
Mexican officials look for landslide victims, missing chopper as toll from storms reaches 101
ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Mexican soldiers dug through tons of mud and dirt in search of victims of a massive landslide, as authorities looked for a federal police helicopter that went missing while carrying out relief operations on the flood-stricken Pacific coast.
The helicopter with three crew members on board was returning from the remote mountain village of La Pintada, where the mudslide occurred, when it went missing Thursday. There is still no sign of it, said Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong.
"They risked their lives all the time," Osorio Chong said. "We are truly worried."
Using picks and shovels, soldiers and farmers removed dirt and rock from atop the cement or corrugated-metal roofs of houses looking for bodies in this town north of Acapulco, where 68 people were reported missing following Monday's slide. Others carried away pieces of trees, wood and other debris.
Two bodies have been recovered, but it was unclear if they were among those on the list of missing.
'Hiccup girl' found guilty of 1st degree murder by Florida jury; weeps in court
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman who became famous for her uncontrollable hiccupping was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday night and will serve life in prison without parole.
A Pinellas County jury deliberated for four hours before delivering the verdict against 22-year-old Jennifer Mee.
Mee wept in the Clearwater courtroom as the verdict was read. Minutes later, Judge Nancy Moate Ley explained that the only possible sentence for the charge was life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The verdict and five-day trial was a sad end to a chapter in Mee's short and sad life. Her attorneys said she suffered from schizophrenia and Tourette's Syndrome, and a court psychiatrist said Mee's intelligence was "low normal."
As a 15-year-old, Mee developed a case of the hiccups that wouldn't go away. She appeared on several TV shows and while on the "Today" show, was hugged by fellow guest and country music star Keith Urban. She tried home remedies and consulted medical specialists, a hypnotist and an acupuncturist, until the hiccups finally stopped on their own, though not for good.
Chicago shooting injures 13 people, reveals gaps in stepped-up police fight against gangs
CHICAGO (AP) — A shooting that injured a 3-year-old boy and 12 others in Chicago occurred just outside a section of the city that police have flooded with officers, reigniting outrage over the toll of the community's gun violence and the inability of stepped-up police action to stop it.
Residents had gathered in a neighborhood park Thursday to watch a late-night basketball game when assailants armed with an assault rifle indiscriminately sprayed the crowd with bullets.
On Friday, residents decried the perpetrators' disregard for those caught in the crossfire, the invasion of drugs into their communities and a lack of local leaders to stand up for them. A prominent rap artist, meanwhile, said more must be done to understand the city's youth, and a frustrated police chief again called for tougher gun laws.
"We can do a lot of really good policing. ... We can reduce crime, like we're doing, but we're not going to have success occur as long as these guns keep flowing into our community," police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said during a news conference.
"Illegal guns, illegal guns, illegal guns drive violence," he said as he called on lawmakers to toughen the nation's gun laws.
A-Rod sets major league record with 24th career grand slam to lead Yankees over Giants 5-1
NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez's record-breaking grand slam was a big one for the Yankees, who can only hope it came in time for a last-gasp run at the playoffs.
Rodriguez set a major league mark with his 24th career slam, passing Lou Gehrig with a tiebreaking shot in the seventh inning that sent New York to a 5-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.
"It means I'm getting old," said Rodriguez, 38. "It's hard to think about things like that right now. We're really on a sprint to the end here and every win is huge for us."
A-Rod's drive helped CC Sabathia (14-13) beat Tim Lincecum in a matchup of former Cy Young Award winners having subpar seasons.
More importantly for the Yankees, it carried them to their second win in seven games as they cling to faint playoff hopes.