Iraqi officials: Suicide bombing at cafe in Baghdad neighborhood kills 35, wounds 45
BAGHDAD (AP) — A suicide bomber slammed his explosive-laden car Sunday night into a busy cafe in Iraq's capital, part of a day of violence across the country that killed 45 people, authorities said.
The bombing at the cafe in Baghdad's primarily Shiite Amil neighborhood happened as it was full of customers. The cafe and a nearby juice shop is a favorite hang out in the neighborhood for young people, who filled the area at the time of the explosions.
The blast killed 35 people and wounded 45, Iraqi officials said.
Violence has been on the rise in Iraq following a deadly crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawijah in April. At least 385 have died in attacks in Iraq so far this month, according to an Associated Press count.
In a village north of Baghdad, a car bomb targeted a police officer's house, killing his father, brother and five nephews, officials said. Six others were wounded in the blast, which happened when the officer was not at home.
World talks with Iran expose signs of early rift between US and Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) — Just days after the first round of global nuclear talks with Iran, a rift appears to be emerging between Israel and its closest ally, the United States.
Israel's prime minister on Sunday called on the U.S. to step up the pressure on Iran, even as American officials hinted at the possibility of easing tough economic pressure. Meanwhile, a leading Israeli daily reported the outlines of what could be construed in the West as genuine Iranian compromises in the talks.
The differing approaches could bode poorly for Israel as the talks between six global powers and Iran gain steam in the coming months. Negotiators were upbeat following last week's talks, and the next round of negotiations is set to begin Nov. 7.
Convinced Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes the Iranians are trying to trick the West into easing economic sanctions while still pushing forward with their nuclear program. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.
"I think that in this situation as long as we do not see actions instead of words, the international pressure must continue to be applied and even increased," Netanyahu told his Cabinet. "The greater the pressure, the greater the chance that there will be a genuine dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program."
10 Things to Know for Monday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:
1. WHAT GOP WILL KEEP IN ITS SIGHTS
Republicans plan to continue attacking "Obamacare," although only 29 percent of the public favors its repeal.
50 years on, President Kennedy's vision for mental health care never fully realized
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The last piece of legislation President John F. Kennedy signed turns 50 this month: the Community Mental Health Act, which helped transform the way people with mental illness are treated and cared for in the United States.
Signed on Oct. 31, 1963, weeks before Kennedy was assassinated, the legislation aimed to build mental health centers accessible to all Americans so that those with mental illnesses could be treated while working and living at home, rather than being kept in neglectful and often abusive state institutions, sometimes for years on end.
Kennedy said when he signed the bill that the legislation to build 1,500 centers would mean the population of those living in state mental hospitals — at that time more than 500,000 people — could be cut in half. In a special message to Congress earlier that year, he said the idea was to successfully and quickly treat patients in their own communities and then return them to "a useful place in society."
Recent deadly mass shootings, including at the Washington Navy Yard and a Colorado movie theater, have been perpetrated by men who were apparently not being adequately treated for serious mental illnesses. Those tragedies have focused public attention on the mental health system and made clear that Kennedy's vision was never fully realized.
The legislation did help to usher in positive life-altering changes for people with serious illnesses such as schizophrenia, many of whom now live normal, productive lives with jobs and families. In 1963, the average stay in a state institution for someone with schizophrenia was 11 years. But only half of the proposed centers were ever built, and those were never fully funded.
Obama's health care law survives shutdown, but rollout problems hand GOP a new line of attack
WASHINGTON (AP) — "Obamacare" escaped unharmed from the government shutdown Republicans hoped would stop it, but just as quickly they have opened a new line of attack — one handed to them by the administration itself.
While Congress was arguing, President Barack Obama's plan to expand coverage for the uninsured suffered a self-inflicted wound. A computer system seemingly designed by gremlins gummed up the first open enrollment season. After nearly three weeks, it's still not fixed.
Republicans hope to ride that and other defects they see in the law into the 2014 congressional elections. Four Democratic senators are facing re-election for the first time since they voted for the Affordable Care Act, and their defeat is critical to GOP aspirations for a Senate majority.
Democrats say that's just more wishful thinking, if not obsession.
Although Obama's law remains divisive, only 29 percent of the public favors its complete repeal, according to a recent Gallup poll. The business-oriented wing of the Republican party wants to move on to other issues. Americans may be growing weary of the health care fight.
Arab League chief says Syria conference set, while UN envoy says no final date
BEIRUT (AP) — Reflecting confusion in efforts to convene an international conference to end Syria's civil war, the Arab League chief announced on Sunday that talks will take place next month in Geneva, only to have the U.N. envoy flatly deny a date has been set.
The bizarre diplomatic two-step between Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and the U.N. envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, at a joint news conference added to the uncertainty surrounding the proposed peace talks. A decision over whether the long-delayed negotiations will happen at all could come at a meeting of the Syrian opposition early next month that will focus on whether to sit down with President Bashar Assad's regime.
The United States and Russia, who support opposing sides in the conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people, have been trying for months to bring the Damascus government and Syria's divided opposition to the table for a peace conference. But with the war deadlocked, neither the regime nor the rebels showed any interest in compromise, forcing the meeting to be repeatedly postponed.
Even now, it remains unclear whether either side is willing to negotiate.
The main Western-backed opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, is scheduled to meet Nov. 1-2 in Istanbul to decide whether to take part in the proposed Geneva conference. One of the most prominent factions within the Coalition, the Syrian National Council, has said it has no faith in talks with Assad's regime and won't attend any Geneva negotiations.
With advent of gay marriage in New Jersey, some couples still facing issues getting licenses
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — With the advent of same-sex marriage in New Jersey, couples are thrilled and, in many cases, confused about how to proceed.
Advocates and others are claiming that the state of New Jersey did not give ample instructions to town clerks and others on how to administer marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Same-sex marriages were scheduled to begin Monday at 12:01 a.m. The New Jersey Supreme Court last week refused to delay a lower court order for the state to start recognizing marriages. The case, however, is still on appeal.
Several couples planned to marry minutes after the state began recognizing the unions. Yet other said they had not been able to get a license. New Jersey law requires that couples wait three days between obtaining a license and getting married.
"There's a lot of mass confusion and it boils down to the fact that the state should have issued guidance a week ago," said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality.
For President Obama, a frustrating rollout for his signature health care legislation
WASHINGTON (AP) — Last week, President Barack Obama gathered some of his top advisers in the Oval Office to discuss the problem-plagued rollout of his health care legislation. He told his team the administration had to own up to the fact that there were no excuses for not having the health care website ready to operate on Day One.
The admonition from a frustrated president came amid the embarrassing start to sign-ups for the health care insurance exchanges. The president is expected to address the cascade of computer problems Monday during an event at the White House.
Administration officials say more than 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges. The figures mark the most detailed measure yet of the problem-plagued rollout of the insurance market place.
However, the officials continue to refuse to say how many people have actually enrolled in the insurance markets. And without enrollment figures, it's unclear whether the program is on track to reach the 7 million people projected by the Congressional Budget Office to gain coverage during the six-month sign-up period.
The first three weeks of sign-ups have been marred by a cascade of computer problems, which the administration says it is working around the clock to correct. The rough rollout has been a black eye for Obama, who invested significant time and political capital in getting the law passed during his first term.
Brutal final weeks of neglected woman in Australia shows how world fails seniors in silence
SYDNEY (AP) — By the time the ambulance showed up to the house, the old woman's screams were, as the paramedics would later tell it, already at a 10 out of 10.
On a bed in the foyer lay 88-year-old Cynthia Thoresen, her eyes screwed up in agony, her fists clenched, with an untended broken leg. Feces caked her body, from her arms down to her feet, filling the crevices between her toes and under her fingernails.
The fact that Cynthia even lived in the house was a surprise to most of the neighbors. None had ever seen her. None had any idea she'd spent her final days in hellish pain after a fall. None knew that her daughter and caretaker, Marguerite Thoresen, had waited weeks before calling for help, or that the help would come far too late.
In the end, Cynthia Thoresen joined a large and growing cohort of elderly people across the world who live — and increasingly die — in silence. They are unseen and unheard, left to fend for themselves against a problem society has barely begun to notice, let alone fix: elder abuse.
This type of abuse, which in many cases includes neglect, is still so hidden that it is hard to quantify. But the broad picture gleaned from hundreds of interviews and dozens of studies reviewed by The Associated Press is clear: Tens of millions of elders have become victims, trapped between governments and families, neither of which has figured out how to protect or provide for them.
AP Investigation: Argentines blame birth defects, cancer, on agrochemicals for biotech crops
BASAVILBASO, Argentina (AP) — Argentine farmworker Fabian Tomasi was never trained to handle pesticides. His job was to keep the crop-dusters flying by filling their tanks as quickly as possible, although it often meant getting drenched in poison.
Now, at 47, he's a living skeleton, so weak he can hardly leave his house in Entre Rios province.
Schoolteacher Andrea Druetta lives in Santa Fe Province, the heart of Argentina's soy country, where agrochemical spraying is banned within 500 meters (550 yards) of populated areas. But soy is planted just 30 meters (33 yards) from her back door. Her boys were showered in chemicals recently while swimming in the backyard pool.
After Sofia Gatica lost her newborn to kidney failure, she filed a complaint that led to Argentina's first criminal convictions for illegal spraying. But last year's verdict came too late for many of her 5,300 neighbors in Ituzaingo Annex. A government study there found alarming levels of agrochemical contamination in the soil and drinking water, and 80 percent of the children surveyed carried traces of pesticide in their blood.
American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world's third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren't confined to soy and cotton and corn fields.