A short-term debt deal won't end fierce dynamics that killed past bids for a bigger accord
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hold the champagne.
Even if Congress reaches a last-minute or deadline-busting deal to avert a federal default and fully reopen the government, elected officials are likely to return to their grinding brand of brinkmanship — perhaps repeatedly.
House-Senate talks are barely touching the underlying causes of debt-and-spending stalemates that pushed the country close to economic crises in 2011, last December and again this month.
Late Tuesday, the GOP-controlled House dropped efforts to craft a bill to raise the debt limit and fully open the government. House members will wait for the Democratic-controlled Senate to act, which could push a final resolution past Thursday. That's when administration officials say federal borrowing powers will be tapped out.
Still, many in Congress expect a resolution, even if it's a few days late. At best, however, lawmakers and the White House will agree to fund the government and raise the debt limit for only a few months. They also will call for yet another bipartisan effort to address the federal debt's major causes, including restricted revenue growth and entitlement benefits that rise automatically.
Police arrest ground handling employee in dry ice explosions at Los Angeles airport
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A baggage handler has been arrested following a police investigation into two dry ice explosions at Los Angeles International Airport.
Dicarlo Bennett, a 28-year-old employee for the ground handling company Servisair, was booked Tuesday for possession of a destructive device near an aircraft. He is being held on $1 million bail.
Police had stepped up patrols and increased its checks on employees after the blasts took place Sunday night and then again Monday night.
Bennett took the dry ice from a plane and placed it in an employee restroom Sunday night and another device that was found on a tarmac outside the international terminal, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation who wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
Police had previously said they didn't believe the explosions were an act of terror because of the locations of the devices and because people weren't targeted.
Philippine quake's heavy damage to historic churches deals big blow as death toll rises to 144
LOON, Philippines (AP) — The earthquake that struck the central Philippines and killed at least 144 people also dealt a serious blow to the region's historical and religious legacy by heavily damaging a dozen or more churches, some of them hundreds of years old.
As rescuers reached some of the hardest hit areas on Wednesday and the death toll from the quake a day earlier continued to rise, images of the wrecked religious buildings resonated across a nation where 80 percent of the population is Catholic.
The bell tower toppled from Cebu city's 16th-century Basilica of the Holy Child — a remnant of the Spanish colonial era and the country's oldest church building — becoming a pile of rubble in the courtyard by the front gate.
Other churches on the neighboring island of Bohol, epicenter of the quake and a popular tourist destination, were also damaged, some beyond repair, while the Bohol seaside town of Loon was a jumble of toppled houses, churches and other buildings.
"The heritage old churches are also very close to the hearts of the Boholanos," said Bohol Gov. Edgardo Chatto, using the term for residents of the island.
A look inside the Muslim Brotherhood: Propelled to power by discipline, but hurt by dogma
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — On the day of his induction, Baraa Rantisi was told to wait near a mosque.
At the appointed time, a white car drove up. Baraa and the driver exchanged passwords — the name and nickname of an early Muslim leader — and Baraa got in.
Then a man in a sparsely furnished room instructed Baraa and two other recruits on the values of Islam. Baraa placed his hand on the Quran, the Muslim holy book, and swore "unwavering loyalty and obedience."
With that oath 10 years ago, Baraa joined the Muslim Brotherhood, an exclusive movement that sees itself on a divine mission to establish Islamic rule.
The story of Baraa, 24, and his extended family shows how the Brotherhood's cohesion and discipline have built it up into a successful movement that seized power in the Arab Spring. But some argue that the same closeness and authoritarian nature has worked against the Brotherhood, which now faces challenges in Egypt, Gaza and Tunisia.
Riding to rescue? Senators seek debt limit, shutdown deal after House bill crumbles
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders are optimistic about forging an eleventh-hour bipartisan deal preventing a possible federal default and ending the partial government shutdown after Republican divisions forced GOP leaders to drop efforts to ram their own version through the House.
Pressured by the calendar, financial markets and public opinion polls, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were hoping to shake hands on an agreement Wednesday and, if possible, hold votes later in the day.
Driving their urgency were oft-repeated Obama administration warnings that the government would exhaust its borrowing authority Thursday and risk a federal default that could unhinge the world economy. Lawmakers feared that spooked financial markets would plunge unless a deal was at hand and that voters would take it out on incumbents in next year's congressional elections — though polls show the public more inclined to blame Republicans.
"People are so tired of this," President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an interview with Los Angeles TV station KMEX.
Feeding concerns were a warning Tuesday from the Fitch credit rating agency that due to the budget impasse it was reviewing its AAA rating on U.S. government debt for possible downgrade. Stock markets gave negative reviews as well, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index both dropping Tuesday by nearly 1 percent.
San Francisco Bay Area rail strike again averted; Morning commute to proceed as talks continue
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco Bay Area commuters again waited late into the night before federal mediators announced late Tuesday that a planned rail strike would once more be delayed and negotiations would continue.
Bay Area Rapid Transit trains were scheduled to run Wednesday, averting would likely would have been a crippling morning commute.
Federal mediator George Cohen said Tuesday night that parties have made some progress in the intense negotiations to avoid a second strike in more than three months.
BART trains ran on a normal schedule Tuesday as unions and management returned to the bargaining table just hours after marathon negotiations ended around 5:30 a.m. The parties had agreed to extend labor talks past a midnight Monday deadline.
The BART unions, ATU Local 1555 and Service Employees International Union Local 1021, had said they would go on strike if they didn't reach a contract deal by midnight Monday after extending stalled negotiations from over the weekend.
Girls, aged 12 and 14, arrested after online post in Florida bullying-suicide investigation
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — It was a cold-hearted online post that a Florida sheriff said hastened the arrest of two girls, aged 12 and 14, in the bullying-suicide case of Rebecca Sedwick.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd repeated the older girl's Facebook comment almost word for word at a news conference Tuesday.
"'Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don't give a ...' and you can add the last word yourself," Judd said.
Authorities in central Florida said Rebecca was tormented online and at school by as many as 15 girls before she climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant and hurled herself to her death Sept. 9. But the two girls arrested were primarily the ones who bullied Rebecca, the sheriff said. They have been charged with stalking and released to their parents.
Rebecca is one of at least a dozen or so suicides in the past three years that were attributed at least in part to cyberbullying.
Technology inspires self-tracking devotees to chart daily lives in excruciating detail
WASHINGTON (AP) — Welcome to the measured life.
When Tim Davis of Beaver, Pa., tipped the scales at 318 pounds two years ago, he bought a Fitbit gadget to track his physical activity and the Lose It! app on his phone to track calories. He bought a Wi-Fi-enabled scale that published his daily weight on his Twitter feed and turned to other apps to track his pulse, blood pressure, daily moods and medications. At one point, Davis said he was using 15 different apps and gadgets, which he said helped him drop 64 pounds by that following year.
A growing category of devices and software applications promises to measure the mundane details of our daily lives: calories burned, diaper changes, how much and how well we sleep, caffeine intake, kids' studying habits, household chores, even whether a baby is nursing more frequently on Mom's left breast versus her right.
The apps have become increasingly sophisticated, tapping into a niche market of everyday consumers and aspiring amateur scientists to conduct mini-experiments on themselves.
"It's the second-by-second, minute-by-minute changes that really did it," said Davis, 39. "If you're the type of person who likes gadgets and devices and to collect metrics, you're also the kind of person who does not like gaps in data."
Cardinals beat Dodgers 4-2 to move within 1 game of reaching World Series
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Cardinals have been this close to the World Series before, and they don't want to blow it this time.
St. Louis got home runs from Matt Holliday and pinch-hitter Shane Robinson — the first of the NL championship series — and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Tuesday night for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff.
The Cardinals have lost the NLCS both times they owned such a commanding lead, most recently last season when they dropped three in a row to San Francisco, the eventual World Series winner.
"That's something that we thought last year — up 3-1 and all we have to do is win one more and we're there," closer Trevor Rosenthal said. "But that didn't work out, so we've just got to keep the same approach."
With a quick turnaround for Game 5 Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles, the Dodgers will try to forget the loss, and hope the Cardinals remember their recent past failures.
Explosion hits packed vehicle in southern Syria, killing at least 21 people
BEIRUT (AP) — An explosion struck a vehicle packed with passengers traveling in southern Syria overnight, killing at least 21 people, including four children, activists said Wednesday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blast hit the vehicle around midnight as it was driving near Tel al-Juma in Daraa province. Six women were also among the dead, it added.
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion, nor why a group of women and children were traveling in dangerous and disputed territory in the middle of the night.
The Observatory said local activists accuse government troops, who are stationed at an army outpost in the area besieged by rebels, of planting explosives by the roadside.
Daraa was the birthplace of the Syrian uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011.