Talking tough, Kerry rejects Syria's offer on chemical weapons in opening meeting with Russia
GENEVA (AP) -- Striking a tough tone, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry opened swiftly convened talks with Russia on Syria's chemical weapons Thursday by bluntly rejecting a Syrian pledge to begin a "standard process" by turning over information rather than weapons -- and nothing immediately.
That won't do, Kerry declared at an opening news conference, a stone-faced Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at his side. "The words of the Syrian regime in our judgment are simply not enough."
"This is not a game," Kerry said of the latest developments in a series that has rapidly gone from deadly chemical attacks to threats of retaliatory U.S. air strikes to Syrian agreement with a Russian plan to turn over the weapons and, finally, to the crucial matter of working out the difficult details.
"We believe there is nothing standard about this process at this moment because of the way the regime has behaved," Kerry declared. And he kept alive the threat of U.S. military action, saying the turnover of weapons must be complete, verifiable and timely -- "and finally, there ought to consequences if it doesn't take place."
Adding to the drama, Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in from afar, raising eyebrows with an opinion piece in The New York Times that chided Americans for seeing themselves as "exceptional." That was an apparent reference to a comment President Barack Obama made in his Syria speech Tuesday night, explaining why he felt the U.S. needed to take action. Congress has shown little inclination to authorize military action, and a vote on that has been put off.
Heavy rains send water crashing down Colorado mountainsides; at least 3 are killed in deluge
LYONS, Colo. (AP) -- Heavy rains sent walls of water crashing down mountainsides Thursday in Colorado, cutting off remote towns, forcing the state's largest university to close and leaving at least three people dead across a rugged landscape that included areas blackened by recent wildfires.
After a rainy week, up to 8 more inches fell in an area spanning from the Wyoming border south to the foothills west of Denver. Flooding extended all along the Front Range mountains and into some cities, including Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Greeley, Aurora and Boulder.
Numerous roads and highways were washed out or made impassable by floods. Floodwaters poured into homes, and at least a few buildings collapsed in the torrent.
Boulder County appeared to be hardest hit. Sheriff Joe Pelle said the town of Lyons was completely cut off because of flooded roads, and residents were huddling together on higher ground. Although everyone was believed to be safe, the deluge was expected to continue into Friday.
"It is not an ordinary disaster," Pelle said. "All the preparation in the world ... it can't put people up those canyons while these walls of water are coming down."
10 Things to Know Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. KERRY TALKS TOUGH ON SYRIA
The secretary of state rejects a Syrian pledge to turn over information rather than Damascus' chemical weapons.
GOP leaders confounded on stopgap spending bill over conservative assault on 'Obamacare'
WASHINGTON (AP) -- GOP leaders eager to avoid blame for a possible government shutdown next month appear confounded by conservatives' passion for using fast-approaching deadlines to derail the implementation of President Barack Obama's health care law.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, conceded Thursday his plan was all but dead for quickly passing a temporary spending bill that also defunds Obamacare, make the Senate vote on each idea separately and then send only the portion for keeping the government open to the White House for the president's signature.
Meanwhile, new freelance effort by rank-and-file Republicans to condition keeping the government open or preventing a debt ceiling default on delaying Obamacare for a year hit a brick wall of opposition from Democrats vowing to never let the health care law be delayed or unraveled.
Nonetheless, some Republicans floated the idea of postponing all of the unimplemented portions of the new law for a year -- including a requirement that virtually everyone buys health insurance and with new tax subsidies to help many people pay for it -- in exchange for raising the government's borrowing cap and easing tens of billions of dollars in broad, automatic spending cuts.
"Let's give them something and then we get something in exchange," Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said. "We give the administration the debt ceiling increase they want. We give them maybe some sequestration dollars that they would like to have. And in exchange we delay Obamacare, which I think the president should want. ... He's already delayed big chunks of it. It's not ready for implementation."
Car bomb goes off outside US consulate in western Afghanistan; 1 dead, several wounded
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Militants staged a suicide car bombing then engaged in a gunfight with security forces near the American consulate in the western Afghan city of Herat early Friday, officials said. An Afghan translator was killed, while several other people, including police, were wounded.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which underscored the perilous security situation in Afghanistan, where U.S.-led troops are reducing their presence ahead of a full withdrawal planned for next year. The insurgent strikes are no longer concentrated in the country's south and east, but occur with troubling frequency in the north and west, which have been the more peaceful areas in years past.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul declined immediate comment.
The attack began around 6 a.m. with the powerful explosion. The car bomber detonated his explosives around 60 meters (66 yards) away from the consulate compound, said Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the governor of Herat province. Other militants then began firing on security forces in the area.
Gen. Rahmatullah Safi, chief of police in Herat province, said an Afghan translator who apparently worked at the consulate died, while two police and two private Afghan security guards at the U.S. post were wounded. One police officer was caught under some rubble in the area, and it was not immediately clear if he was killed.
Almost all boardwalk businesses destroyed by fire in NJ town still recovering from Sandy
SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (AP) -- A raging fire destroyed much of an iconic Jersey shore boardwalk that had just been rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy, but a last-ditch effort to halt its spread by ripping out boards that had yet to burn succeeded in saving the rest of it Thursday.
The wind-whipped fire devoured eight blocks of boardwalk -- four each in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights -- and destroyed dozens of boardwalk businesses and caused millions in damages to the economic lifeblood of the twin tourist spots.
The Hail Mary effort to save the remainder of the boardwalk began in the evening when public works crews ripped out a 25-foot swath of boardwalk to serve as a makeshift fire break, depriving the blaze of fuel.
They then filled the void with giant sand piles -- makeshift dunes that this time held back not water but fire.
"That appears to have done the trick," said Seaside Park Mayor Robert Matthies.
California Legislature raises minimum wage to $10 an hour, 1 of highest rates in nation
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- California's minimum wage would rise to $10 an hour within three years under a bill that is all but certain to head to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday, giving the state one of the highest rates in the nation.
Washington state currently has the top minimum wage at $9.19 an hour, an amount that is pegged to rise with inflation. Some cities, including San Francisco, have slightly higher minimum wages.
The state Senate approved AB10 on a party-line 26-11 vote, sending it to the Assembly for a final vote that will be a mere formality before it goes to the governor. Brown indicated earlier this week that he would sign the bill, calling it an overdue piece of legislation that would help working-class families.
The bill would gradually raise California's minimum wage from the current $8 an hour to $10 by 2016.
It would be the first increase in the state's minimum wage in six years and comes amid a national debate over whether it is fair to pay fast-food workers, retail clerks and others wages so low that they often have to work second or third jobs.
Twitter says it has filed confidential documents for an initial public offering of stock
NEW YORK (AP) -- Twitter finally has decided to go public, but it's taking a route that will keep most of the details about its business private for a while longer.
The company aptly used its own news-making short messaging service Thursday afternoon to announce that it has filed documents for an initial public offering of stock.
But the information filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is sealed because Twitter is taking advantage of federal legislation passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year to avoid submitting public IPO documents.
The secrecy will likely help Twitter minimize the public hoopla and intense scrutiny that surrounded the initial public offerings of other high-profile social networking companies, including Facebook Inc., which went public in May 2012.
The 7-year-old company posted on its official Twitter account that it has "confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO." A subsequent tweet said simply: "Now, back to work." It's accompanied by a blurry photo of people working in the company's San Francisco headquarters.
Scathing obituary about abusive NV mother goes viral after appearing in Reno newspaper
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- The children of an abusive woman whose horror stories prompted Nevada to become one of the first states to allow children to sever parental ties wrote a scathing obituary that was published in the local newspaper -- and has since become an Internet sensation.
The obituary opened with a harsh statement about the legacy of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick: "On behalf of her children who she abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame that she delivered on her children."
Katherine Reddick said she wrote it about her mother, who died at a Reno nursing home Aug. 30 at the age of 78.
Now a psychology consultant for a school district outside Austin, Texas, she said she decided to share the story of their painful physical and mental abuse after consulting with her brother, Patrick Reddick. They said they grew up with four siblings in a Carson City orphanage after they were removed from their mother's home and had been estranged from her for more than 30 years.
"Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit," the obit said. "Our greatest wish now is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America."
Tom Brady's 39-yard TD pass to Aaron Dobson helps give Patriots 13-3 lead over Jets at half
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Tom Brady connected with rookie Aaron Dobson on a 39-yard touchdown pass and Devin McCourty set up another score with a 44-yard fumble return Thursday night to help the New England Patriots open a 13-3 halftime lead over the New York Jets.
With longtime favorite receiver Wes Welker now in Denver and his replacement, Danny Amendola, out with a groin injury, Brady found Dobson alone in the defensive backfield and hit him in stride on the way to the end zone. It was Brady's 50th consecutive game with a touchdown pass, four short of Drew Brees' NFL record.
It was the first career catch for Dobson, a second-round draft pick who did not play in Week 1 because of a hamstring injury.
The teams traded three-and-outs, and on New York's next possession Geno Smith found Stephen Hill deep across the middle for a 33-yard gain. But as cornerback Aqib Talib was bringing Hill down, the receiver fumbled and McCourty scooped it up and took it all the way to the Jets' 3-yard-line.
Stephen Gostkowski's field goal made it 10-0.