In a Philippines city shattered by typhoon, Sunday services provide comfort for some
TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — Hours after the storm hit the Philippines, the Rev. Amadero Alvero was on the streets, sprinkling holy water over the dead and praying for them. By late afternoon, the 44-year-priest had blessed about 50 corpses in the remains of this shattered city.
He then returned to his half-destroyed Santo Nino church and led Mass. On Sunday, Alvero was again overseeing worship at the peach-colored building, leading services for hundreds of survivors of one of the worst storms on record.
"Despite what happened, we still believe in God," he said. "The church may have been destroyed, but our faith is intact, as believers, as a people of God, our faith has not been destroyed."
Sun shone for the first service, but by the second, rain was falling through a gaping hole crisscrossed by wooden beams in the roof of the downtown church and landmark. Its windows were blown out, and winds now snap at a silver cross on top of its steeple, which hangs upside down.
It was one of dozens of churches across the region holding services that were attended by thousands, many homeless and grieving. More than 80 percent of the 90 million people in the Philippines are Roman Catholic, the largest in Asia by far and a legacy of its history of Spanish colonial rule.
AP PHOTOS: Chapel serves as neonatal care unit in effort to save babies born after typhoon
In Tacloban, Philippines, a chapel has become a makeshift neonatal intensive care unit for 24 babies born in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. In a city with no electricity, one set of parents take turns pushing oxygen into the lungs of their days-old baby with a hand-held pump. Others rest on wooden pews near their struggling infants. Associated Press Chief Photographer for Asia David Guttenfelder visited the chapel Saturday.
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Obama struggles to save his cherished health law from the clutches of his own administration
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's health care law risks coming unglued because of his administration's bungles and his own inflated promises.
To avoid that fate, Obama needs breakthroughs on three fronts: the cancellations mess, technology troubles and a crisis in confidence among his own supporters.
Working in his favor are pent-up demands for the program's benefits and an unlikely collaborator in the insurance industry.
But even after Obama gets the enrollment website working, count on new controversies. On the horizon is the law's potential impact on job-based insurance. Its mandate that larger employers offer coverage will take effect in 2015.
For now, odds still favor the Affordable Care Act's survival. But after making it through the Supreme Court, a presidential election, numerous congressional repeal votes and a government shutdown, the law has yet to win broad acceptance.
GOP already on 2014 offensive on troubled health care law rollout, Dems hope to change subject
WASHINGTON (AP) — In his West Virginia district, the TV ads attacking Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall over the calamitous startup of President Barack Obama's health care law have already begun.
The 19-term veteran, a perennial target in a GOP-shifting state, is among many in the president's party who have recited to constituents Obama's assurance that they could keep insurance coverage they liked under the 2010 overhaul.
That has proved untrue for several million Americans, igniting a public uproar that has forced Obama to reverse himself on part of the law and sent many Democrats scrambling into political self-preservation mode ahead of next year's congressional elections.
Rahall was among 39 Democrats who, despite an Obama veto threat, voted Friday for a GOP measure that would let insurers continue selling policies to individuals that fall short of the health care law's requirements. It was approved 261-157.
"I'm concerned about my integrity with voters who have returned me here 38 years. They know me enough to know I wouldn't purposely mislead them," Rahall said this past week. "They have that confidence in me, and I want them to continue to have that confidence in me."
With chemical weapons up in smoke, Army now turns to destroying incinerators that ended them
ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) — The Pentagon spent $10.2 billion over three decades burning tons of deadly nerve gas and other chemical weapons stored in four states — some of the agents so deadly even a few drops can kill.
Now, with all those chemicals up in smoke and communities freed of a threat, the Army is in the middle of another, $1.3 billion project: Demolishing the incinerators that destroyed the toxic materials.
In Alabama, Oregon, Utah and Arkansas, crews are either tearing apart multibillion-dollar incinerators or working to draw the curtain on a drama that began in the Cold War, when the United States and the former Soviet Union stockpiled millions of pounds of chemical weapons.
Construction work continues at two other sites where technology other than incineration will be used to neutralize agents chemically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At the incinerator complex at the Anniston Army Depot — where sarin, VX nerve gas and mustard gas were stored about 55 miles east of Birmingham — the military this week said it's about one-third of the way into a $310 million program to level a gigantic furnace that cost $2.4 billion to build and operate.
24 new lives struggle to survive in chapel-turned-hospital in aftermath of Philippine typhoon
TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — Althea Mustacisa was born three days ago in the aftermath of the killer typhoon that razed the eastern Philippines. And for every one of those three days, she has struggled to live.
But she has clung to life because her parents have been pushing oxygen into her tiny body with a hand-held pump non-stop ever since she came into this world.
And "if they stop, the baby will die," said Amie Sia, a nurse at a hospital in typhoon-wracked Tacloban city that is running without electricity and few staff or medical supplies.
"She can't breathe without them. She can't breathe on her own," Sia said. "The only sign of life this little girl has left is a heartbeat."
More than a week after ferocious Typhoon Haiyan annihilated a vast swath of the Philippines, killing more than 3,600 people, the storm's aftermath is still claiming victims — and doctors here fear Althea may be the next.
Case of Detroit-area homeowner who shot woman on porch may hinge on single word: 'reasonable'
DETROIT (AP) — The way Renisha Marie McBride's young life ended Nov. 2 is not in dispute: A homeowner in suburban Detroit fatally shot the 19-year-old in the face as she stood on his porch before the sun came up.
Almost every other aspect of the case is not as clear-cut.
Did race play a role in the shooting? What exactly happened on that doorstep? Did the homeowner reasonably believe he was acting in self-defense?
Police and prosecutors say Theodore Paul Wafer fired once with a 12-gauge shotgun through his screen door at McBride.
The 54-year-old airport maintenance employee, who faces murder and manslaughter charges, is free on bail awaiting a Dec. 18 hearing that will determine if the case should go to trial.
Federal health officials warn that recalled Medtronic devices carry chance of serious injury
Federal health officials say that defects in some Medtronic devices used in heart procedures are severe enough that they could cause serious injury or death.
The warning covers about 15,000 recalled guidewires, which are inserted through an artery and used to guide other devices into place, such as stents to hold open blocked arteries.
A recall of the guidewires began Oct. 21 after Medtronic received reports of four complaints, including one patient who went into cardiac arrest but was resuscitated, company spokesman Joseph McGrath said Saturday.
The recall notice warned hospitals and distributors worldwide that coating on the guidewires could break off, which could raise the possibility of blocking a blood vessel. The wires are coated to make them slide through blood vessels more easily.
Medtronic announced Friday night that the Food and Drug Administration had classified the recall as Class I, a category reserved for products with reasonable potential to cause serious injury or death.
Suicide bomber kills 6 in Afghan capital near site of upcoming elder talks on US troop deal
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide car bomber tore through the Afghan capital Saturday, just hours after President Hamid Karzai announced U.S. and Afghan negotiators had agreed on a draft deal allowing U.S. troops to remain in the country beyond a 2014 deadline.
The blast, which killed six people near where thousands of tribal leaders will discuss the deal next week, was a bloody reminder of the insecurity plaguing the country after 12 years of war.
The suicide bomber attacked security forces protecting the Loya Jirga site, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. He said the blast killed six people and wounded 22. Among the dead were two security personnel, he said.
Sediqqi said Afghan security forces had prior knowledge of the suicide bombing, but were unable to stop the attack. He did not elaborate.
No group immediately claimed the attack, though blame is likely to fall on the Taliban, who have adamantly opposed the presence of any foreign soldiers in Afghanistan.
As crises multiply for Toronto's blustery mayor, a test of loyalty for his supporters
TORONTO (AP) — When Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto in 2010, his bluster and checkered past were widely known. A plurality of voters backed him anyway, eager to shake things up at a City Hall they viewed as elitist and wasteful.
Those voters — many from Toronto's conservative-leaning, working-class outer suburbs — got their wish, and perhaps more turmoil than any could have expected.
Now the loyalty of the mayor's constituency, known as Ford Nation, is being tested as he faces intense pressure to resign following sensational revelations about his drinking problems and illegal drug use, as well as repeated outbursts of erratic behavior and crude language.
The City Council voted Friday, on a 39-3 vote, to suspend Ford's authority to appoint or dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee, which oversees the budget. Further efforts are expected Monday to strip Ford of most of his remaining powers, though he vows to resist with court action.
Many of Ford's political allies — including most council members — are deserting him, and polls show his approval rate is down sharply from two years ago. Yet some of his loyalists want him to hang on.