AP source: US considering ending spying on allied heads of state
WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior administration official says the United States is weighing ending spying against allied heads of state.
The official said late Monday a final decision has not been made and an internal review is ongoing. The review comes amid the furor in Europe over revelations that the National Security Agency allegedly eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AHN'-geh-lah MEHR'-kuhl).
The official was not authorized to discuss the ongoing review by name and insisted on anonymity.
White House OKs penalty-free health insurance sign-ups until March 31 amid website problems
WASHINGTON (AP) — With website woes ongoing, the Obama administration Monday granted a six-week extension until March 31 for Americans to sign up for coverage next year and avoid new tax penalties under the president's health care overhaul law.
The move had been expected since White House spokesman Jay Carney promised quick action last week to resolve a "disconnect" in the implementation of the law.
It comes as technical problems continue to trouble the website designed as the main enrollment portal for people who don't get health care at work.
As a consequence, Republican lawmakers, and some Democrats as well, are calling for a one-year delay in the penalties most Americans will face starting next year if they remain uninsured. Monday's action by the administration stops well short of that, and amounts only to a limited adjustment.
Under the latest policy change, people who sign up by the end of open enrollment season on March 31 will not face a penalty. That means procrastinators get a grace period.
10 Things to Know for Tuesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:
1. KEY SENATOR WANTS 'TOTAL' REVIEW OF US SPYING
The call by Diane Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, follows allegations that the NSA eavesdropped on Germany's chancellor.
Federal judge declares some Texas abortion restrictions unconstitutional, blocks enforcement
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge determined Monday that new Texas abortion restrictions place an unconstitutional burden on women seeking to end a pregnancy, a ruling that keeps open dozens of abortion clinics across the state while officials appeal.
The ruling by District Judge Lee Yeakel came one day before key parts of the law the Legislature approved in July were set to take effect. Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers argued in their lawsuit that a provision requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 30 miles away would have effectively shuttered about a third of the state's 38 clinics that perform abortions.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office argued the law protects women and the life of the fetus, immediately filed an appeal with the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
"I have no doubt that this case is going all the way to the United States Supreme Court," Abbott said during stop in Brownsville, Texas, as part of his campaign to replace retiring Gov. Rick Perry.
Although several conservative states in recent months have approved broad abortion limits, the Texas ones were particularly divisive because of the number of clinics affected and the distance some women would have to travel to get an abortion.
WORLD SERIES WATCH: Ross, Ellsbury put Red Sox back in front 3-1 in 7th inning of Game 5
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A look at Game 5 of the World Series at Busch Stadium on Monday night as the Boston Red Sox take on the St. Louis Cardinals:
BACK IN FRONT: David Ross hits an RBI double in the seventh inning to put Boston back on top.
It was a 1-2 curveball from Adam Wainwright and even though it was down, it was a bit of a hanger. Kind of rolled up there, not the sharp snap Wainwright has had most of the night.
Cardinals caught a break when the ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. That left runners at second and third and probably saved them a run — but only momentarily.
Chemical weapons inspectors in Syria miss early deadline due to security concerns
BEIRUT (AP) — International inspectors overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile have missed an early deadline in a brutally tight schedule after security concerns prevented them from visiting two sites linked to Damascus' chemical program.
The chief of the global chemical weapons watchdog disclosed for the first time in a report obtained by The Associated Press that Syria has declared 41 facilities at 23 chemical sites where it stored approximately 1,300 tons of precursors and agents, and over 1,200 unfilled munitions to deliver them.
Ahmet Uzumcu said in his first report to the U.N. Security Council that inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had corroborated the information provided by Syria at 37 of the 41 facilities.
But the OPCW said inspectors were only able to visit 21 of the 23 sites because of security risks — which means the tight timeline for visiting all declared sites by Oct. 27 was missed.
While there are no consequences for missing the deadline, the group's failure to meet it underscores the ambitious timeline as well as the risks its inspectors face in carrying out their mission in the middle of Syria's civil war.
Beleaguered Syrian Christians fear future, increasingly targeted by jihadis
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Sami Amir is used to the deep echoing rumble of the Syrian army artillery pounding rebel positions on the outskirts of Damascus. It's the thump of mortars launched from an Islamist-controlled neighborhood that scares him to death.
The mortars have repeatedly hit in his mainly Christian district of Damascus, al-Qassaa, reportedly killing at least 32 people and injuring dozens of others the past two weeks.
"You don't know when and you don't know where they hit," says Amir, a 55-year-old Christian merchant. "Life here is often too difficult."
Rebel shelling into the capital has increasingly hit several majority-Christian districts, particularly al-Qassaa, with its wide avenues, middle class apartment blocks, leafy parks, popular restaurants and shopping streets busy with pedestrians.
The shelling and recent rebel assaults on predominantly Christian towns have fueled fears among Syria's religious minorities about the growing role of Islamic extremists and foreign fighters among the rebels fighting against President Bashar Assad's rule. Christians believe they are being targeted — in part because of the anti-Christian sentiment among extremists and in part as punishment for what is seen as their support for Assad.
Penn State says it is paying $59.7 million to 26 young men over Jerry Sandusky abuse claims
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Penn State said Monday it is paying $59.7 million to 26 young men over claims of child sexual abuse at the hands of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a man once revered as a university icon who is now serving what is effectively a life prison sentence.
Nearly two years after the retired coach was first charged with child molestation, the school said 23 deals were fully signed and three were agreements in principle. It did not disclose the names of the recipients.
The school faces six other claims, and the university says it believes some of those do not have merit while others may produce settlements.
University president Rodney Erickson issued a statement calling the announcement a step forward for victims and the school.
"We cannot undo what has been done, but we can and must do everything possible to learn from this and ensure it never happens again at Penn State," said Erickson, who announced the day Sandusky was convicted in June 2012 that Penn State was determined to compensate his victims.
Chris Brown's latest arrest comes at crucial time for R&B singer's career, probation
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chris Brown's misdemeanor assault charge in Washington, D.C., could further complicate the R&B singer's unsettled legal situation. Additional time behind bars remains a possibility for the singer — both in the District of Columbia and California — where Brown remains on probation for his 2009 beating of his on-again, off-again girlfriend Rihanna.
Brown emerged from a Washington court on Monday flashing a peace sign after spending more than a day in custody on a charge filed after a man accused the Grammy winner and his bodyguard of punching him and breaking his nose outside a local hotel.
Brown's arrest early Sunday comes at a crucial time for the singer, who is releasing an album this winter and is under a deadline to complete hundreds of hours of community service to satisfy his sentence for the Rihanna attack.
His day and a half in custody are the longest time the scandal-plagued singer has spent behind bars and the case represents the most serious accusations he's faced since his attack on Rihanna. Brown left the courthouse to cheers from supporters, some of whom clapped when a judge announced he would be released.
His time in custody was much longer than the few hours he spent at a Los Angeles jail after the Rihanna attack. In contrast to Brown's LA court appearances, which routinely happen in the afternoon when his case is the only one on calendar, Brown appeared in a crowded D.C. courtroom and had to wait until the end of the day for his case to be called and his release granted.
Sports spotlight shines on St. Louis with World Series, Monday Night Football on same night
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Apparently, Monday Night Football had a message for the World Series: Meet me in St. Louis.
The big events taking place near the Gateway Arch meant more than 100,000 people were expected to be crammed into downtown St. Louis. Busch Stadium, hosting the pivotal Game 5 of the Series with the Cardinals and Red Sox tied at two games apiece, sits eight blocks south of the Edward Jones Dome, home of the Rams.
Games 3 and 4 of the World Series drew record crowds of more than 47,000 to Busch. The dome holds more than 66,000 fans. Whether or not the matchup of the 3-4 Rams against the 6-1 Seattle Seahawks draws anywhere close to capacity will have to be seen.
The prime-time NFL game has been around since 1970 but, until now, it had never been played in the same city where a World Series was going on. However, in 1986, Boston lost Game 7 of the Series at the New York Mets on a Monday night — a game that was pushed back a day by rain — while the NFL Giants hosted Washington that evening at Giants Stadium, across the Hudson River in New Jersey.
All on its own, the football game should have been a joyous occasion — it marked the first Monday night game in St. Louis since 2006, a drought largely due to the fact that the Rams have been mostly awful since then. But in baseball-mad St. Louis, the Rams were clearly taking a backseat.