San Francisco Bay Area faces frustrating commute as 2nd transit strike in 4 months begins
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — People in the San Francisco Bay area faced a frustrating Friday commute as workers for the region's largest transit system walked off the job for the second time in four months.
Officials from both unions representing workers for Bay Area Rapid Transit as well as the agency itself confirmed the strike.
The walkout began at midnight Thursday, the culmination of six months of on-again, off-again talks that fell apart. The impasse came after a marathon negotiating session that led the agency and its two largest unions closer to a contract deal.
About 400,000 riders take BART every weekday on the nation's fifth-largest commuter rail system. The system carries passengers from the farthest reaches of the densely populated eastern suburbs to San Francisco International Airport across the bay.
Antoinette Bryant of Amalgamated Transit Union told The Associated Press early Friday morning that her workers were on strike as of midnight, while Cecille Isidro of the Service Employees International Union confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle that the unions were striking.
Shutdown affected us at home, at work and in school in ways we might not have seen
CHICAGO (AP) — Our food was a little less safe, our workplaces a little more dangerous. The risk of getting sick was a bit higher, our kids' homework tougher to complete.
The federal government shutdown may have seemed like a frustrating squabble in far-off Washington, but it crept into our lives in small, subtle ways — from missed vegetable inspections to inaccessible federal websites.
The "feds" always are there in the background, setting the standards by which we live, providing funds to research cures for our kids' illnesses, watching over our food supply and work environment.
So how did the shutdown alter our daily routines? Here's a look at a day in the life of the 2013 government shutdown.
Obama's pick to lead DHS suggests priority shift from immigration to national security
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's selection of a former top Pentagon lawyer to head the Homeland Security Department suggests the agency will be stepping back from its preoccupation with immigration to focus more on protecting the nation from attack.
Jeh C. Johnson, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who left the DHS last month to become president of the University of California system. Obama was expected to announce Johnson's nomination Friday.
Unlike Napolitano, Johnson has spent most of his career dealing with weighty national security issues as a top military lawyer. Issues he handled included ending the military's don't-ask-don't-tell policy for gay service members and changing military commissions to try terrorism suspects rather than using civilian courts. He also oversaw the escalation of the use of unmanned drone strikes during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as general counsel at the Defense Department.
Napolitano, who came to the DHS after serving as governor of Arizona, made clear that her top priority was immigration reform and routinely championed the issue in congressional testimony. During her first hearing on Capitol Hill, she did not mention terrorism. That is unlikely to be the case with Johnson, who left the Defense Department in 2012 and previously served as the general counsel of the Air Force under President Bill Clinton. Earlier in his career, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he handled public corruption cases.
Obama repeatedly has declared immigration reform a top priority, saying as recently as Thursday that he will push for a landmark overhaul bill this year. Based on Johnson's resume, which does not include immigration issues, that means the White House likely would lead the push for legal changes.
Obama outlines toned-down goals for rest of year, but even those priorities are no easy task
WASHINGTON (AP) — Regrouping after a feud with Congress stalled his agenda, President Barack Obama is laying down a three-item to-do list for Congress that seems meager when compared with the bold, progressive agenda he envisioned at the start of his second term.
But given the capital's partisanship, the complexities of the issues and the limited time left, even those items — immigration, farm legislation and a budget — amount to ambitious goals that will take political muscle, skill and ever-elusive compromise to execute.
"Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now," Obama said. "And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what's good for the American people."
A breakthrough on any of the three issues would be a welcome development for a political system whose utter dysfunction was put on full display when the government was partially shut down for 16 days and the nation came perilously close to default. Both parties are looking for signs of whether that squabble and its eleventh-hour resolution will make it easier or harder for the two parties to find common ground in the future.
Still, the scaled-back vision for what might be feasible in the short term could be disappointing for Obama's liberal supporters, who have been looking expectantly to the president to enact as much of his agenda as possible before Washington is consumed next year by midterm elections and the end of Obama's presidency draws nearer.
As government springs back to life, so do private industries that rely on feds to do business
The end of the federal shutdown means boats will be back out on the Bering Sea to fish for king crab. Loggers are being allowed back into national forests in Oregon. And barriers keeping nature lovers out of national parks across the country have been removed.
Crews on about 80 boats have been sitting out the multimillion-dollar harvest of red king crab because federal managers who assign fishing quotas were among workers furloughed during the government's partial shutdown. They're relieved that they'll soon be able to start their harvest, bringing back an industry that was one of many private sectors of the economy stalled around the country by the bickering in Washington.
"I'm glad the madness has ended," said Capt. Keith Colburn, a regular on Discovery Channel's popular reality show "Deadliest Catch."
Life started to return to normal as the federal government sprang back to life after the 16-day partial shutdown that came to a close after the House and Senate voted late Wednesday to end it. Even the popular panda cam at the National Zoo was back online, though the zoo itself won't reopen until Friday. Federal workers who were furloughed or worked without pay during the shutdown will get back pay in their next paychecks, which for most employees come Oct. 29.
National parks removed barriers and welcomed visitors who had previously been turned away. The Twitter feed of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state posted a picture of the 14,411-foot mountain backed by blue skies, with the message "What a beautiful morning to welcome us back to Mount Rainier! Park gates are now open."
Foreign Ministry: Saudi Arabia rejects seat on UN Security Council, day after election
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia is rejecting its seat on the U.N. Security Council and says the 15-member body is incapable of resolving world conflicts.
The move came just hours after the kingdom was elected as one of the Council's 10 nonpermanent members.
In a statement carried on Friday by the official Saudi Press Agency, the Saudi Foreign Ministry says the Council has failed in its duties toward Syria.
It says this alleged failure enabled Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to perpetrate the killings of its people, including with chemical weapons, without facing any deterrents or punishment.
The Ministry also says the Council has not been able to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict over the past decades and has failed to transform the Middle East into a zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
Authorities hunt for 2 killers who escaped Florida prison with forged court documents
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — As authorities hunt for two killers who were mistakenly freed by bogus court documents, prison officials and prosecutors across Florida scrambled to make sure no other inmates had been let out early.
The review comes three weeks after convicted murderer Joseph Jenkins walked out of prison, despite a life sentence. A week after he was let go, Charles Walker, who was also serving life, also was released.
It's not clear exactly who worked up the fake documents ordering their release. Authorities said the paperwork in both cases was filed in the last couple of months and included forged signatures from the same prosecutor's office and Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry. The documents also called for 15-year sentences.
Perry said Thursday there were several red flags that should have attracted the attention of the court clerk's office or the Corrections Department. Namely, it's rare for a judge to order a sentence reduction, and even more uncommon for the request to come from prosecutors.
"One of the things we have never taken a close look at is the verification of a particular document to make sure it's the real McCoy," he said. "I knew that that was always a possibility, but you never want that possibility occurring in the way that it did."
Russia's rags-to-riches media tycoons expand empire — with Kremlin's help
MOSCOW (AP) — The skinny man in a baggy, wrinkled shirt carting groceries back to his car could have been any Silicon Valley programmer, were it not for the Russian license plate on the car behind him.
The grainy photograph is the first to show NSA leaker Edward Snowden in his new life in Russia after leaving the Moscow airport.
The force behind the scoop? A father-and-son team who like to see themselves as Russia's Murdochs.
With a well-oiled system of paying for scoops, the Gabrelyanovs have been able to crawl into every crevice of Russian life from show business to the security services. Their website Lifenews, which published the photo confirmed authentic by Snowden's lawyer, is part of an expanding empire that has come to dominate Russia's media landscape in the decades since the elder Gabrelyanov started off as a provincial tabloid publisher.
A key reason for their recent success: obsequious loyalty to the Kremlin. The father, Aram Gabrelyanov, refers to President Vladimir Putin as the "father of the nation"— a fealty that was rewarded when one of Putin's oldest friends spent $80 million to become a key shareholder in the Gabrelyanovs' holding company, News Media, providing it with a flood of cash for investment.
More charges hinge on autopsy after fetus found in bag of teen charged with shoplifting in NYC
NEW YORK (AP) — The results of an autopsy could determine whether two teenage girls are hit with serious charges after one of them was found carrying a dead fetus in a bag while shopping at a Victoria's Secret store in Manhattan.
Police were called to the store Thursday after a security guard on the lookout of shoplifters searched the 17-year-old girls, discovered a strong odor coming from one of their bags and found the fetus.
The girls were arrested on charges of petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, police said. The teenager thought to have given birth was hospitalized, and the other was questioned by police.
One of the girls told detectives she was carrying the remains because she had delivered a day earlier and didn't know what to do, authorities said. It wasn't clear whether the fetus was alive or dead when delivered.
The medical examiner's office was performing an autopsy on the remains, and more charges could follow depending on the results.
Napoli's power, Boston's bullpen push Red Sox to 4-3 victory over Tigers, 1 win from Series
DETROIT (AP) — Mike Napoli provided the power and the Boston bullpen stymied Miguel Cabrera.
Twice in three games, that formula has worked for the Red Sox, and now they're one win from reaching the World Series.
Napoli opened the scoring with another big long ball, Junichi Tazawa again bested Cabrera in a crucial spot and the Red Sox edged the Detroit Tigers 4-3 Thursday night.
Boston returns to Fenway Park with a 3-2 lead in the AL championship series. The Red Sox can win the American League pennant Saturday, when the Tigers' Max Scherzer faces Boston's Clay Buchholz in Game 6.
Four of the five games in the ALCS so far have been decided by one run.