Prospect for swift end to partial shutdown dims as Congress looks to debt limit as next clash
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Prospects for a swift end to the 4-day-old partial government shutdown all but vanished Friday as lawmakers squabbled into the weekend and increasingly shifted their focus to a midmonth deadline for averting a threatened first-ever default.
"This isn't some damn game," said House Speaker John Boehner, as the White House and Democrats held to their position of agreeing to negotiate only after the government is reopened and the $16.7 trillion debt limit raised.
House Republicans appeared to be shifting their demands, de-emphasizing their previous insistence on defunding the health care overhaul in exchange for re-opening the government. Instead, they ramped up calls for cuts in federal benefit programs and future deficits, items that Boehner has said repeatedly will be part of any talks on debt limit legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also said the two issues were linked. "We not only have a shutdown, but we have the full faith and credit of our nation before us in a week or ten days," he said.
Reid and other Democrats blocked numerous attempts by Sen. Ted Cruz to approve House-passed bills reopening portions of the government. The Texas Republican is a chief architect of the "Defund Obamacare" strategy and met earlier this week with allies in the House and an aide to Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to confer on strategy.
Official: Woman killed in DC chase was delusional, believed president communicated with her
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A woman who was shot to death outside the U.S. Capitol after trying to ram her car through a White House barrier had been under the delusion the president was communicating with her, a federal law enforcement official said Friday.
The woman's family said she had been suffering from postpartum depression with psychosis.
Miriam Carey's killing at the hands of police Thursday was Washington's second major spasm of deadly violence involving an apparently unstable person in 2 1/2 weeks.
Interviews with some of those who knew the Stamford resident suggested she was coming apart well before she loaded her 1-year-old daughter into the car for the 275-mile drive to Washington, D.C.
Carey had suffered a head injury in a fall and had been fired as a dental hygienist, her former employer said.
Obama's Asia no-show is boost for China, setback for US effort to shift foreign policy focus
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's decision to scrap his Asia trip is a setback for his much-advertised pledge to shift the focus of foreign policy to the Pacific and a boost for China's attempt to gain influence in the region.
By staying home because of the partial government shutdown, Obama hands new Chinese leader Xi Jinping a chance to fill the void at two Asian summits Obama had planned to attend. It's the third time since 2010 that Obama has cancelled an Asia trip, all because of domestic political crises.
Washington's budget crisis has reached the point where the White House felt compelled to skip Asia, giving Obama room to work with Congress on reopening the government. Had Obama left to attend the meetings, it would have given weight to critics who have said he's more willing to negotiate with foreign leaders than the speaker of the House.
Secretary of State John Kerry will represent him at the summits in Indonesia and Brunei.
Budget strains had already put a damper on the Pentagon's push to assert itself in the Pacific, and administration officials had begun casting the shift in policy more in terms of expanding diplomatic efforts, creating more trade and economic ties and just showing up in Asia more often.
House hard-liners, backed by voters back home, stand united in showdown with Obama, Dems
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma is one of the hard-line House conservatives demanding concessions from President Barack Obama on his health care law in exchange for ending the federal government shutdown.
"We have got to get to the point where we're working like a functional government, not like a dictatorship," said Mullin, a 36-year-old rancher and plumbing business owner who insists that the president and Senate Democrats must negotiate on an emergency spending bill to re-open the government.
In Mullin's expansive district, which stretches along eastern Oklahoma from Kansas to Texas, many constituents stand firmly behind the young Republican congressman even as they begin to feel the impact of the first government shutdown in 17 years. They're unbending in their opposition to the 3-year-old health care law and endorse any effort to unravel it.
"Wait it out," Micah Thompson, a 32-year-old seminarian student and Army reservist from Canadian, Okla., advised Mullin. "It's chicken. Someone's got to blink first."
For Thompson, the shutdown isn't just a political fight in Washington. His brother, an employee at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, has been furloughed. This weekend, Thompson himself faces cancellation of his Army drills and the loss of pay.
Voices of stranded migrants floating at sea drifted to shore, confused with seagulls' song
LAMPEDUSA, Italy (AP) -- The friends were heading out on a fishing trip, when one heard voices from the sea.
Don't be silly, Vito Fiorino told him -- it's only the seagulls' early morning song. Then, about 500 yards (meters) from shore, he saw heads bobbing in the water.
Dozens of Africans were floating, too weak to grab a life preserver and so slippery from gasoline that it was hard to pull them on board. Some grasped empty water bottles to stay afloat.
"It was a scene from a film, something you hope never to see in life," he told The Associated Press. "They were exhausted. When I threw the lifesaver, they had a hard time doing two strokes to reach it."
Fiorino says he and his friends were the first to reach the fiery wreck around 7 a.m. Thursday, sounding the alarm and saving 47 people before the Coast Guard and other vessels arrived to help, eventually rescuing a total of 155 people. The migrants told Fiorino they had been in the water for three hours.
Man sets himself on fire on National Mall; taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A man set himself on fire on the National Mall in the nation's capital as passers-by rushed over to help put out the flames, officials and witnesses said Friday afternoon.
The reason for the self-immolation was not immediately clear and the man's identity was not disclosed. But it occurred in public view, on a central national gathering place, in a city still rattled by a mass shooting last month and a high-speed car chase outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday that ended with a woman being shot dead by police with a young child in the car.
The man on the Mall suffered life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to the hospital, said District of Columbia fire department spokesman Tim Wilson.
He was standing by himself in the center portion of the Mall when he emptied the contents of a red gasoline can on himself and set himself on fire moments later, said Katy Scheflen, who witnessed it as she walked across the area. Police say they responded around 4:20 p.m. Friday.
Scheflen said the man was clearly alive as the fire spread, and passing joggers took off their shirts in an effort to help put out the flames. It was not clear who actually extinguished the flames.
Vietnam military mastermind Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, who defeated French and Americans, dies, 102
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, the brilliant and ruthless commander who led the outgunned Vietnamese to victory first over the French and then the Americans, died Friday. The last of the country's old-guard revolutionaries was 102.
A national hero, Giap enjoyed a legacy second only to that of his mentor, founding president and independence leader Ho Chi Minh.
Giap died in a military hospital in the capital of Hanoi, where he had spent nearly four years because of illnesses, according to a government official and a person close to him. Both spoke on condition of anonymity before the death was announced in state-controlled media.
Known as the "Red Napoleon," Giap commanded guerrillas who wore sandals made of car tires and lugged artillery piece by piece over mountains to encircle and crush the French army at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The unlikely victory -- still studied at military schools -- led to Vietnam's independence and hastened the collapse of colonialism across Indochina and beyond.
Giap then defeated the U.S.-backed South Vietnam government in April 1975, reuniting a country that had been split into communist and noncommunist states. He regularly accepted heavy combat losses to achieve his goals.
Tropical Storm Karen weakens as it approaches northern Gulf Coast; heavy rains expected
BRAITHWAITE, La. (AP) -- Tropical Storm Karen is weakening as it approaches the Gulf Coast, but forecasters are keeping tropical storm watches and warnings in effect.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said late Friday that Karen was about 205 miles (330 kilometers) south-southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River, with maximum sustained winds that have decreased to 45 mph (72 kph). It was moving north-northwest at 7 mph (11 kph).
A hurricane watch was dropped Friday afternoon. A tropical storm warning was in effect from Morgan City, La., eastward to the mouth of the Pearl River. A tropical storm watch stretched from the mouth of the Pearl River eastward to Indian Pass, Fla. and includes the New Orleans area.
Along with strong winds, the storm was forecast to produce rainfall of 3 to 6 inches through Sunday night.
Social media fuel pursuit of potentially dangerous weight-loss goal: a gap between thighs
BALLWIN, Mo. (AP) -- Experts in eating disorders are concerned about an Internet-fueled trend in which teenage girls and young women pursue an elusive and possibly dangerous weight-loss goal: to become so slender that their thighs don't touch even when their feet are together.
Specialists say achieving a so-called thigh gap is risky and virtually impossible. But some exceptionally thin models have the gap, which is upheld as a beauty achievement on countless Tumblr pages, blogs and other social media sites.
"The issue of focusing on a particular body part is very common," said Claire Mysko, who oversees teen outreach and digital media for the National Eating Disorders Association, an advocacy group. "What is new is these things have taken on a life of their own because of the Internet and social media."
When the vast majority of people stand with their feet together, their thighs touch. A tiny percentage of people have thighs so slim that they don't come together. The "thigh gap" refers to this space.
Studies suggest that peer pressure from social media plays a significant role in eating disorders. A 2011 study at the University of Haifa found that adolescent girls who spent the most time using Facebook had a greater chance of developing a negative body image and an eating disorder.
Twitter follows up IPO tweet with a treatise that reveals company's opportunities, challenges
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Twitter, a privately held company built on blurbs, has finally laid itself bare in documents that read more like a treatise than a tweet.
The roughly 800-page filing Twitter Inc. released late Thursday on its way to an eagerly anticipated IPO contains tantalizing tidbits about its growth and its attempts to make money from its influential short messaging service.
The suspense surrounding Twitter's IPO was heightened by the company's decision to take advantage of a law passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue to keep their IPO documents under seal until management is ready to make formal presentations to investors.
With Thursday's lifting of the veil, Twitter can start pitching investors during a so-called "road show" as early as Oct. 24. The San Francisco company's stock could begin trading under the ticker symbol "TWTR" before Thanksgiving.
Here are five key details revealed in Twitter's tome: