Challenge to health care law has government on brink of shutdown
WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative challenge to the president's health care law has the federal government teetering on the brink of a partial shutdown.
The Senate has the next move on must-do legislation required to keep the government open past midnight on Monday, and the Democratic-led chamber is expected to reject the latest effort from House Republicans to use a normally routine measure to attack President Barack Obama's signature health care law.
Congress was closed for the day on Sunday after a post-midnight vote in the GOP-run House to delay by a year key parts of the new health care law and repeal a tax on medical devices as the price for avoiding a shutdown. The Senate is slated to convene Monday afternoon just 10 hours before the shutdown deadline, and Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has already promised that majority Democrats will kill the House's latest volley.
A House GOP leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, said the House would again rebuff the Senate's efforts to advance the short-term funding bill as a simple, "clean" measure shorn of anti-heath care reform provisions.
Since the last government shutdown 17 years ago, temporary funding bills known as continuing resolutions have been noncontroversial, with neither party willing to chance a shutdown to achieve legislative goals it couldn't otherwise win. But with health insurance exchanges set to open Tuesday, tea party Republicans are willing to take the risk in their drive to kill the law, so-called "Obamacare."
Israel's Netanyahu heads for the US with a warning to the White House: Don't be fooled by Iran
JERUSALEM (AP) — Mortified that the world may be warming up to Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking an unpopular message to the White House and the United Nations this week: Don't be fooled by Tehran's new leadership.
Netanyahu contends Iran is using conciliatory gestures as a smoke screen to conceal an unabated march toward a nuclear bomb.
He will deliver those strong words of caution — and fresh intelligence — in an attempt to persuade the U.S. to maintain tough economic sanctions and not allow the Islamic republic to develop a bomb or even move closer to becoming a nuclear threshold state.
With the White House cautiously optimistic about its dialogue with Iran, Monday's meeting between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama could be tense.
"I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles," Netanyahu said before boarding his flight to the U.S. on Sunday. "Telling the truth today is vital for the security and peace of the world and, of course, it is vital for the security of the state of Israel."
Uneasy Arab states in Persian Gulf watch US-Iran overtures from sidelines
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Lost in the blizzard of attention on Iran's cautious openings to the U.S. was another bit of noteworthy outreach by President Hassan Rouhani: Sending greetings to Saudi Arabia's king and appealing for more cooperation between the two regional rivals.
Rouhani's message last week also carried a subtext for Saudi Arabia and the other Western-allied Persian Gulf states. As Iran's diplomatic profile rises with attempts to recalibrate its dealings with Washington, the Gulf rulers will have to make adjustments, too.
That's not such an easy thing for the monarchs and sheiks to swallow.
Leaders such as Saudi King Abdullah are accustomed to having Washington's undivided focus and a prominent voice in shaping policies over Iran, which Gulf officials routinely denounce for allegedly trying to undermine their rule through suspected proxies and spies.
The prospect of Iran and the U.S. becoming something less than arch foes — a flirtation at the U.N. General Assembly capped by President Barack Obama's groundbreaking telephone call to Rouhani — pushes the Gulf states toward unfamiliar territory.
Hagel visits DMZ, says NKorea watching Syrian development on chemical weapons
PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) — Standing just steps from the heavily armed border with North Korea, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday that Pyongyang is closely watching the international response to Syria's use of chemical weapons against its own people.
And, with North Korean soldiers eyeing his every move, Hagel told reporters traveling with him that the U.S. has no plans to reduce its military presence in South Korea, despite the ongoing budget crisis.
Hagel's visit is timed to the 60th anniversary of the signing of the mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and South Korea, and to reinforce America's commitment to the security of the peninsula and the Asia-Pacific region.
"There is no margin for error up here," Hagel said after a stop in one of the three small blue conference houses that sit on the border of North and South Korea. "This is probably the only place in the world that we have always a risk of confrontation. Where the two sides are looking clearly and directly at each other all the time."
Inside the house, Hagel stepped briefly onto the North Korean side. And when he moved back outside to speak to a crowd of reporters, North Korean soldiers stepped up to the border just alongside the building and watched from about 40 feet away.
Kenya Red Cross cites progress in tracing missing people from deadly Nairobi mall attack
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A spokeswoman for Kenya's Red Cross says "progress" has been made in finding some of the 59 people who were still missing after the Westgate mall attack.
Wariko Waita said Monday that some were being reunited with their families, although she gave no details about numbers or where those people were found.
She said a Red Cross team was counseling the victims at a triage center 600 meters (yards) away from the shattered mall where forensics experts are combing through the crime scene for evidence. Some bodies are still believed to be trapped under the rubble.
The Red Cross said Friday the number of missing people stood at 59.
Kenyan authorities have given few details about the Sept. 21 attack, urging patience.
Inspectors explain how they plan to halt Syria's ability to manufacture chemical weapons
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Inspectors who will oversee Syria's destruction of its chemical weapons said Sunday their first priority is to help the country scrap its ability to manufacture such arms by a Nov. 1 deadline — using every means possible.
The chemical weapons inspectors said that may include smashing mixing equipment with sledgehammers, blowing up delivery missiles, driving tanks over empty shells or filling them with concrete, and running machines without lubricant so they seize up and become inoperable.
On Friday, the U.N. Security Council ordered the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons by mid-2014.
On Sunday, inspectors met with media in The Hague to explain their current plan of action, which is to include an initial group of 20 leaving for Syria on Monday.
The organization allowed two inspectors to speak on condition of anonymity out of concern for their safety amid Syria's civil war; both are veteran members of the OPCW. Spokesman Michael Luhan said the men "are going to be deeply involved in Syria."
Airlines shift focus from baggage fees to new services to make flying better, boosting revenue
NEW YORK (AP) — Airlines are introducing a new bevy of fees, but this time passengers might actually like them.
Unlike the first generation of charges which dinged fliers for once-free services like checking a bag, these new fees promise a taste of the good life, or at least a more civil flight.
Extra legroom, early boarding and access to quiet lounges were just the beginning. Airlines are now renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, selling hot first class meals in coach and letting passengers pay to have an empty seat next to them. Once on the ground, they can skip baggage claim, having their luggage delivered directly to their home or office.
In the near future, airlines plan to go one step further, using massive amounts of personal data to customize new offers for each flier.
"We've moved from takeaways to enhancements," says John F. Thomas of L.E.K. Consulting. "It's all about personalizing the travel experience."
Popes John Paul II and John XXIII to be made saints on April 27
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27, 2014.
Pope Francis announced the date Monday during a meeting with cardinals inside the Apostolic Palace.
Francis had announced in July he would canonize two of the 20th century's most influential popes together, approving a miracle attributed to John Paul's intercession and bending Vatican rules by deciding that John XXIII didn't need one.
Analysts have said the decision to canonize them together was aimed at unifying the church since each has his own admirers and critics. Francis is clearly a fan of both: On the anniversary of John Paul's death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both men — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.
A final session with Walter White as ever-darker 'Breaking Bad' concludes it 5 wicked seasons
NEW YORK (AP) — Any "Breaking Bad " fan could be forgiven for concluding that Sunday's finale held no major surprises.
That's because this AMC drama series has delivered surprises, shock and OMG moments dependably since its premiere five seasons ago.
Just like it did on its final episode.
For those who don't want to be reading how yet, stop reading! And let's take a few moments for you who aren't ready to find out what happened to tear your eyes away from this article.
Going to game No. 163: Rays, Rangers meet in AL wild-card tiebreaker, winner visits Cleveland
The Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are pushing this regular season to game No. 163.
On a Sunday punctuated by Miami's Henderson Alvarez pitching a no-hitter, Tampa Bay and Texas both won and wound up even, forcing a tiebreaker for the second AL wild-card spot.
The Rays will play at Texas on Monday night, with the winner visiting Cleveland on Wednesday night in another all-or-nothing matchup.
Rangers rookie Martin Perez starts against reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price. Texas gets a boost, too — All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz will be active after his 50-game penalty from Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis drug scandal.
"He's served his suspension," Rays star Evan Longoria said. "It is what it is. Justice has been served."