Shutdown-Default rays of hope? Face-to-face talks at White House but there's no resolution yet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's economy on the line, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans groped inconclusively Thursday for a compromise to avert an unprecedented U.S. default as early as next week and end the 10-day-old partial government shutdown.
"We expect further conversations tonight," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said cryptically at nightfall, after he, Speaker John Boehner and a delegation of other Republicans met for more than an hour with Obama at the White House.
The White House issued a statement describing the session as a good one, but adding, "no specific determination was made."
Yet it seemed the endgame was at hand in the crises that have bedeviled the divided government for weeks, rattled markets in the U.S. and overseas and locked 350,000 furloughed federal workers out of their jobs. Both sides expressed fresh hopes for a resolution soon.
The up-and-down day also featured a dour warning from Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, who told lawmakers that the prospect of default had already caused interest rates to rise -- and that worse lay ahead.
Obama admin says it will allow states to pay to reopen some national parks
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Under pressure from governors, the Obama administration said Thursday it will allow some shuttered national parks to reopen -- as long as states use their own money to pay for park operations.
Governors in at least four states have asked for authority to reopen national parks within their borders because of the economic impacts caused by the park closures. All 401 national park units -- including such icons as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite and Zion national parks -- have been closed since Oct. 1 because of the partial government shutdown. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed, and lawmakers from both parties have complained that park closures have wreaked havoc on nearby communities that depend on tourism.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the government will consider offers to use state money to resume park operations, but will not surrender control of national parks or monuments to the states. Jewell called on Congress to act swiftly to end the government shutdown so all parks can reopen.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said his state would accept the federal offer to reopen Utah's five national parks.
Utah would have to use its own money to staff the parks, and it will cost $50,000 a day to operate just one of them, Zion National Park, said Herbert's deputy chief of staff, Ally Isom.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. SENSING A DEBT LIMIT DEAL, WALL STREET SOARS
The Dow rockets up more than 300 points, ending a three-week funk in stocks.
Scott Carpenter, pioneering astronaut and 2nd American in orbit, dies at age 88
DENVER (AP) -- Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, was guided by two instincts: overcoming fear and quenching his insatiable curiosity. He pioneered his way into the heights of space and the depths of the ocean floor.
"Conquering of fear is one of life's greatest pleasures and it can be done a lot of different places," he said.
His wife, Patty Barrett, said Carpenter died Thursday in a Denver hospice of complications from a September stroke. Carpenter, who lived in Vail, was 88.
Carpenter followed John Glenn into orbit, and it was Carpenter who gave him the historic sendoff: "Godspeed John Glenn." The two were the last survivors of the famed original Mercury 7 astronauts from the "Right Stuff" days of the early 1960s. Glenn is the only one left alive.
In his one flight, Carpenter missed his landing by 288 miles, leaving a nation on edge for an hour as it watched live and putting Carpenter on the outs with his NASA bosses. So Carpenter found a new place to explore: the ocean floor.
'I'm ready to go:' Ex-Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick sentenced to 28 years in prison for corruption
DETROIT (AP) -- A former Detroit mayor was sent to federal prison for nearly three decades Thursday, after offering little remorse for the widespread corruption under his watch but acknowledging he let down the troubled city during a critical period before it landed in bankruptcy.
Prosecutors argued that Kwame Kilpatrick's "corrupt administration exacerbated the crisis" that Detroit now finds itself in. A judge agreed with the government's recommendation that 28 years in prison was appropriate for rigging contracts, taking bribes and putting his own price on public business.
It is one of the toughest penalties doled out for public corruption in recent U.S. history and seals a dramatic fall for Kilpatrick, who was elected mayor in 2001 at age 31 and is the son of a former senior member of Congress.
While Detroit's finances were eroding, he was getting bags of cash from city contractors, kickbacks hidden in the bra of his political fundraiser and private cross-country travel from businessmen, according to trial evidence.
Kilpatrick, 43, said he was sorry if he let down his hometown but denied ever stealing from the citizens of Detroit.
Amid controversy, Obama signs bill to pay military death benefits during government shutdown
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Families of fallen troops will be assured of receiving death benefits under legislation President Barack Obama signed Thursday amid a national firestorm after the Pentagon suspended the roughly $100,000 payments during the partial government shutdown.
Obama signed the bill into law after it won final passage in the Senate earlier in the day.
But his chief spokesman, Jay Carney, had said the measure was unnecessary because a military charity had stepped in to continue the payments. Carney also had declined to say whether Obama would sign the bill, which reinstates benefits for surviving family members, including funeral and burial expenses, and death gratuity payments.
The Pentagon typically pays out $100,000 within three days of a service member's death. It said 29 active-duty service members have died since Oct. 1, when parts of the government shut down in a dispute between the White House and Congress over the president's health care law.
The Pentagon had said the lapse in funding meant it had no authority to continue the payments, but that explanation that did not sit well with members of Congress in either party. The Pentagon said a law allowing members of the military to be paid during the shutdown did not cover the death benefit payments. Congress passed and Obama signed that measure into law before the shutdown began, and lawmakers insisted the benefits shouldn't have been affected.
Calif. jury finds Toyota not liable in sudden acceleration incident that led to woman's death
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A jury found Thursday that Toyota Motor Corp. is not liable for the death of a California woman who was killed when her 2006 Camry apparently accelerated and crashed despite her efforts to stop.
Jurors deliberated for about five days before reaching their decision and concluding the vehicle's design didn't contribute to the death of 66-year-old Noriko Uno, who died in August 2009 when she was struck by another motorist, sending her vehicle into a telephone pole and tree.
Uno's family was seeking $20 million in damages, claiming that the crash could have been avoided if Toyota had installed a brake override system. The jury found the 86-year-old motorist who ran a stop sign and hit Uno should pay the family $10 million, plaintiffs' attorney Garo Mardirossian said.
Toyota blamed driver error for the crash.
The company recalled millions of vehicles worldwide after drivers reported some Toyota vehicles were surging unexpectedly. It already has agreed to pay $1 billion in lawsuits filed in federal courts.
Washington's freeze of aid to Egypt whips up anti-American sentiment, may help army chief
CAIRO (AP) -- Washington's decision to withhold millions of dollars in mostly military aid to Egypt is fueling anti-U.S. sentiment and the perception that Washington supports Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president the military ousted in a July coup.
That could boost the popularity of the military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, whom the U.S. is trying to pressure to ensure a transition to democracy and ease the fierce crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.
The aid freeze could also embolden Morsi's supporters to intensify their campaign of street protests in the belief that the military-backed government is losing the goodwill of its top foreign backer. The protests, met by a fierce response by security forces that has left hundreds dead, have kept the new government from tackling Egypt's pressing problems after 2 ½ years of turmoil.
Still, Egypt's military-backed government is unlikely to abandon the road map it announced when Morsi was removed in a July 3 coup -- to amend the nation's Islamist-tilted constitution and put the changes to a nationwide vote before the end of the year, and hold parliamentary and presidential ballots in early 2014.
"Egypt is not so desperate that it needs to compromise on its political agenda," the U.S.-based global intelligence firm, Stratfor, wrote this week.
Ohio report: Autoerotic asphyxiation possible in Ariel Castro death, guards falsified logs
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro's death by hanging in his prison cell may not have been suicide after all but an ill-fated attempt to choke himself for a sexual thrill, authorities said in a report issued Thursday.
The report also said two guards falsified logs documenting the number of times they checked on Castro before he died.
Castro, 53, was found hanging from a bedsheet Sept. 3 just weeks into a life sentence after pleading guilty in August to kidnapping three women off the streets, imprisoning them in his home for a decade and repeatedly raping and beating them.
The report, from Ohio's prison system, raised the possibility that Castro died as a result of autoerotic asphyxiation, in which people achieve sexual satisfaction while choking themselves into unconsciousness.
Castro's pants and underwear were around his ankles when he was found, the report said.
Jay Cutler throws 2 TD passes to Brandon Marshall, Bears lead Giants 27-21 after 3 quarters
CHICAGO (AP) -- Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall, and Tim Jennings returned an interception 48 yards for a score to help the Chicago Bears take a 27-21 lead over the New York Giants after the third quarter Thursday night.
Cutler completed 18 of 27 attempts for 223 yards to put the Bears in position to end a two-game losing streak.
With the Giants looking to avoid their first 0-6 start in 37 years, Eli Manning threw interceptions on New York's first two possessions, but rebounded with two touchdown passes and led a 91-yard scoring drive.
With New York down 27-14 midway through the third quarter, Manning attempted a comeback effort by connecting with Victor Cruz for 23 yards and Hakeem Nicks for 31. On third- and-7 from the Bears 32, Manning stepped up to find Rueben Randle for 18 yards.
Manning attempted a pass to Nicks in the end zone, but he was interfered with by Tim Jennings to put the ball on the 1. On the next play, Brandon Jacobs ran it in to cut the Bears' lead to 27-21 with 6 seconds left in the quarter.