A year after Sandy, many beaten homeowners clamor for buyouts, but only a lucky few get them
NEW YORK (AP) — The forces of nature had been threatening the Staten Island's Oakwood Beach neighborhood for years, flooding the streets every time it rained, sending crabs skittering into bungalows and swamping basements so regularly that it was just accepted as part of life.
But after Superstorm Sandy swept in with 20-foot waves that crashed over roofs and killed three people, those who have lived here for generations decided it was time to go. Soon, the state will buy some 400 homes, bulldoze them and never again allow anything to be built here.
Oakwood Beach will finally surrender to the sea.
"The heartache of losing my home, the heartache of losing my memories, the blood and sweat and tears that I put into this home, is going to be healed by seeing trees and nature come back to that spot right there," said Joe Monte, a construction worker who had built his dream house overlooking the ocean. "And that's going to make me feel better."
The neighborhood is the first — and so far only — New York City community to be totally bought out under a state program that promises to turn wrecked neighborhoods into perpetual green space.
Still trying to recover from 2012 loss, GOP faces deeper establishment vs. tea party rivalries
WASHINGTON (AP) — A year after losing a presidential race many Republicans thought was winnable, the party arguably is in worse shape than before. The GOP is struggling to control tensions between its tea party and establishment wings and watching approval ratings sink to record lows.
It's almost quaint to recall that soon after Mitt Romney lost to President Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee recommended only one policy change: endorsing an immigration overhaul, in hopes of attracting Hispanic voters.
That immigration bill is now struggling for life and attention in the Republican-run House. The bigger worry for many party leaders is the growing rift between business-oriented Republicans and the GOP's more ideological wing. Each accuses the other of bungling the debt ceiling and government shutdown dramas, widely seen as a major Republican embarrassment.
The problems don't end there.
Polls show the GOP nominee trailing in a Virginia governor's race that history says a Republican should win. At the national level, it's hard to recall when Republicans seemed so leaderless. Romney has returned to private life. Potential rising stars have stumbled, as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida did when he angered conservative activists by pushing the immigration measure through the Senate.
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. ON THE HOT SEAT OVER 'OBAMACARE' ROLLOUT
Republicans intend to press HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this week on the Obama administration's troubled launch of the online portal to buy insurance.
Republicans ready to question Sebelius about troubled rollout of Obama's health care law
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans plan to seek answers from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the Obama administration's troubled start for its health care website to buy insurance, and are raising concerns about the privacy of information that applicants submit under the new system.
GOP lawmakers said Sunday that the Obama administration will face intense scrutiny this week to be more forthcoming about how many people have actually succeeded in enrolling for coverage in the new insurance markets.
Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner is scheduled to appear during a House hearing on Tuesday, followed Wednesday by Sebelius before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The officials will also be grilled on how such crippling technical problems could have gone undetected prior to the Oct. 1 launch of that website, healthcare.gov.
"The incompetence in building this website is staggering," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., second- ranking Republican on the panel and an opponent of the law.
Democrats said the new system needs more time and it can be fixed to provide millions of people with affordable insurance. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, said the system was "working in Kentucky."
AP Exclusive: Experts say hackers hit major Israeli roadway, a sign cyber warfare now reality
HADERA, Israel (AP) — When Israel's military chief delivered a high-profile speech this month outlining the greatest threats his country might face in the future, he listed computer sabotage as a top concern, warning a sophisticated cyberattack could one day bring the nation to a standstill.
Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was not speaking empty words. Exactly one month before his address, a major artery in Israel's national road network in the northern city of Haifa was shut down because of a cyberattack, cybersecurity experts tell The Associated Press, knocking key operations out of commission two days in a row and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
One expert, speaking on condition of anonymity because the breach of security was a classified matter, said a Trojan horse attack targeted the security camera system in the Carmel Tunnels toll road on Sept. 8. A Trojan horse is a malicious computer program that users unknowingly install that can give hackers complete control over their systems.
The attack caused an immediate 20-minute lockdown of the roadway. The next day, the expert said, it shut down the roadway again during morning rush hour. It remained shut for eight hours, causing massive congestion.
The expert said investigators believe the attack was the work of unknown, sophisticated hackers, similar to the Anonymous hacking group that led attacks on Israeli websites in April. He said investigators determined it was not sophisticated enough to be the work of an enemy government like Iran.
Decrying Western influence: Kuwaiti conservatives object to mixed-company smoking at cafes
KUWAIT CITY (AP) — One of the traditional pleasures of the Middle East — leisurely puffing on a water pipe filled with aromatic tobacco — has become ensnared in another of the region's customs: that of Islamic conservatives decrying what they see as liberal Western decadence.
Hard-liners are denouncing some shisha cafes as a "moral menace" because they allow young men and women to mix freely.
The pastime of smoking shisha — also known as nargile, hubbly bubbly, hookah or by other names across the Mideast — may seem like an unlikely subject for a showdown over values. In Kuwait, however, little is off limits to the increasingly influential Islamists and their conservative allies.
Such ideological skirmishes flare often across the region, with Turkey witnessing battles over head scarves and Saudi clerics denouncing the temptations of the Internet. But tiny, oil-rich Kuwait has emerged as a particularly noisy battleground.
Islamists in Kuwait have stepped up their challenges to Kuwait's Western-backed ruling family in recent years, first in Parliament and now mostly from the outside after boycotting elections. They have demanded death sentences for anyone convicted of insulting Islam, opposed women's participation in sports and forced art galleries to cancel shows of artworks depicting hypocrisies such as Arab men enjoying a scotch.
Phone-hacking trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson set to open in London
LONDON (AP) — They were once two of the most powerful people in the British media, senior executives for media mogul Rupert Murdoch and associates of Prime Minister David Cameron.
Former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson are due to go on trial Monday, along with several others, on charges of hacking phones and bribing officials while at the now-shuttered Murdoch tabloid.
The trial unfolding in a plain, starkly lit room at London's Central Criminal Court should provide high drama for media watchers — and an unwelcome reminder for Murdoch and Cameron of the two-year-old scandal that continues to tarnish Britain's media, politicians and police.
Murdoch tweeted about the upcoming trial earlier this month: "Remember, everyone innocent until proven guilty, entitled to fair trial in most countries."
Spanish newspaper says US has monitored 60 million calls in Spain in a month
MADRID (AP) — A Spanish newspaper has published a document it says shows the U.S. National Security Agency spied on more than 60 million phone calls in Spain in one month alone.
The report in El Mundo newspapers comes a week after Le Monde reported similar allegations of U.S. spying in France, and German magazine Der Spiegel reported that a document shows that Washington tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.
El Mundo said that a document provided by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shows that the NSA monitored the phone calls from Dec. 10, 2012, until Jan. 8, 2013, but not their content.
AGING AMERICA: Older workers report resounding satisfaction; benefits of work rise with age
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Not happy with your job? Just wait.
A study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 9 in 10 workers who are age 50 or older say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their job. Older workers reported satisfaction regardless of gender, race, educational level, political ideology and income level.
Consider Oscar Martinez.
If Disneyland truly is the happiest place on earth, Martinez may be one of its happiest workers.
Never mind that at 77, the chef already has done a lifetime of work. Or that he must rise around 3 a.m. each day to catch a city bus in time for breakfast crowds at Carnation Café, one of the park's restaurants. With 57 years under his apron, he is Disneyland's longest-serving employee.
Surprise-starter Gomes hits 3-run HR, lifts Red Sox over Cards 4-2 & evens World Series 2-all
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jonny Gomes arrived at Busch Stadium expecting to watch Game 4 of the World Series from the Red Sox dugout. Halfway through batting practice, Boston's plans changed.
"All I fought for in this year of mine is just the opportunity," Gomes said. "So when my number is called, I'm stepping up. I'm not dodging any situation."
Shane Victorino couldn't shake his bad back. With the Red Sox trailing St. Louis by two games to one in the World Series, Gomes was going to start in left field.
"Came out to the dugout, looked up the lineup card, and now you're going to have to protect David Ortiz," Gomes would say later. "Good luck with all of that."
Good luck, indeed.