Political maneuvering on Capitol Hill as threatened debt default creeps uncomfortably nearer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans and Democrats in Congress lumbered through a day of political maneuvering Saturday while a threatened default by the Treasury crept uncomfortably closer and a partial government shutdown neared the end of its second week.
"We haven't done anything yet" by way of compromise, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said after Senate leaders took control of efforts to end the impasse, although he and other Democrats said repeatedly there was reason for optimism.
Across the Capitol, tea party caucus Republican Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana said there was "definitely a chance that we're going to go past the deadline" on Thursday that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has set for Congress to raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit.
Lawmakers in both parties said they were watching for the reaction to the political uncertainty by the financial markets when they reopen after the weekend.
President Barack Obama met with Senate Democratic leaders at the White House after accusing Republicans of practicing the politics of extortion. "Manufacturing crises to extract massive concessions isn't how our democracy works, and we have to stop it," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Deal for US troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014 still faces troop jurisdiction issue
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The U.S. and Afghanistan reached an agreement in principle Saturday on the major elements of a deal that would allow American troops to stay in Afghanistan after 2014. U.S. officials said the potentially deal-breaking issue of jurisdiction over those forces must still be resolved.
U.S. officials traveling with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the deal negotiated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai meets all American conditions, including on the jurisdiction issue, and that all that remains is for Karzai to win political approval for it.
During the talks, Kerry made frequent phone calls back to Washington, speaking with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and national security adviser Susan Rice multiple times, the officials said.
The American contingent was hopeful that a national consultative assembly of tribal elders, or Loya Jirga, and the Afghan parliament would approve the agreement, the officials said. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the agreement by name.
Kerry spoke with Karzai after a marathon series of meetings and repeated delays of Kerry's departure from Afghanistan. Both men later said agreement had been reached on a series of contentious sovereignty issues and the safety of Afghan citizens at the hands of American and allied troops that had deadlocked talks in the past year.
Wind, rain pound eastern India as powerful cyclone hits, displacing 500,000
BEHRAMPUR, India (AP) -- An immense, powerful cyclone packing destructive winds hammered eastern India Sunday, forcing more than 500,000 people to evacuate and sending seawater surging inland. Reports of deaths and the extent of damage from Cyclone Phailin won't become clear until after daybreak.
The storm, which made landfall early Saturday night near the town of Golpalpur in Orissa state, was expected to cause large-scale power and communications outages and shut down road and rail links, officials said. It's also expected to cause extensive damage to crops.
Officials in both Orissa and Andhra Pradesh have been stockpiling emergency food supplies and setting up shelters. The Indian military has put some of its forces on alert, and has trucks, transport planes and helicopters at the ready for relief operations.
Roads were all but empty Saturday as high waves pounded the coastline of Orissa state. Seawater pushed inland, swamping villages where many people survive as subsistence farmers in mud and thatch huts.
As the cyclone swept across the Bay of Bengal toward the Indian coast Saturday, satellite images showed its spinning tails covering an area larger than France.
Egypt's military-backed government not likely to feel blow from US decision to suspend aid
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. decision to suspend delivery of tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to Egypt is more of a symbolic slap than a punishing wound to the military-backed government for its slog toward a return to democratic rule.
Egypt is awash in the tanks and planes it would need to fight a conventional war, and spare parts from U.S. manufacturers will continue to be delivered.
The Obama administration's announcement Wednesday did sound a warning that it no longer can be "business as usual" with Cairo, as President Barack Obama put, after the July 3 military coup that ousted Mohammed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, and led to the deaths of hundreds in police crackdowns on demonstrators.
In the short run, the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid will have little effect on Egypt's military and its ability to defend itself. The cutoff probably will not do much damage to most of the companies with contracts to build such weapons
The State Department did not say how much of the $1.5 billion in annual military and economic aid to Egypt was affected. It held up the delivery of Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, M1A1 Abrams tank kits, which are put together in Egyptian factories, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Xerox: Access to food stamp system is restored in the 17 states that were affected by outage
People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves temporarily unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine test of backup systems by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure. Xerox announced late in the evening that access has been restored for users in the 17 states affected by the outage, hours after the first problems were reported.
"Restarting the EBT system required time to ensure service was back at full functionality," spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer said in an email. An emergency voucher process was available in some of the areas while the problems were occurring, she said.
U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe underscored that the outage was not related to the government shutdown.
Earlier Saturday shoppers left carts of groceries behind at a packed Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford, Maine, because they couldn't get their benefits, said shopper Barbara Colman, of Saco, Maine. The manager put up a sign saying the EBT system was not in use. Colman, who receives the benefits, called an 800 telephone line for the program and it said the system was down due to maintenance, she said.
"That's a problem. There are a lot of families who are not going to be able to feed children because the system is being maintenanced," Colman said. She planned to reach out to local officials. "You don't want children going hungry tonight because of stupidity," she said.
NYC police arrest relative in killing of 'Baby Hope' 22 years after body discovered in cooler
NEW YORK (AP) -- Detectives solved the decades-old mystery of "Baby Hope," a little girl whose body was discovered inside a picnic cooler beside a Manhattan highway in 1991, and arrested a relative of the child Saturday after he admitted he sexually assaulted and smothered her, police said.
Conrado Juarez, 52, was arrested on a murder charge and was awaiting arraignment. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Juarez claimed he killed the girl at his sister's apartment and that she helped him dispose of the body. The sister has since died, police said. They were cousins of the little girl's father.
The girl's name, age and circumstances of her death were unknown for more than two decades. But earlier this week, police announced that a new tip and a DNA test had allowed them to finally identify the baby's mother, a dramatic turnaround in one of the city's more notorious cold cases.
On Saturday, they also revealed the girl's name: Anjelica Castillo, age 4.
The child's naked, malnourished corpse was discovered on July 23, 1991, beside the Henry Hudson Parkway by construction workers who smelled something rotten. Detectives thought she might have been suffocated but had few other clues as to what happened.
Disclosures of government surveillance prompt widespread backlash
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that sprinkles the Internet with red flag terms to confuse would-be snoops.
Policy makers, privacy advocates and political leaders around the world have been outraged at the near weekly disclosures from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that expose sweeping U.S. government surveillance programs.
"Until this summer, people didn't know anything about the NSA," said Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University co-director Amy Zegart. "Their own secrecy has come back to bite them."
Activists are fighting back with high-tech civil disobedience, entrepreneurs want to cash in on privacy concerns, Internet users want to keep snoops out of their computers and lawmakers want to establish stricter parameters.
Some of the tactics are more effective than others. For example, Flagger, a program that adds words like "blow up" and "pressure cooker" to web addresses that users visit, is probably more of a political statement than actually confounding intelligence agents.
From fetid garage, a face of aging China looks out: She sued children for care, still suffers
FUSHENG, China (AP) -- As the daughter-in-law rolls open the rusted doors to her garage, light spills onto a small figure on a straw mattress. A curious face peers out.
It's the face of Kuang Shiying's 94-year-old mother-in-law -- better known as the little old lady who sued her own children for not taking care of her.
The drama playing out inside this house reflects a wider and increasingly urgent dilemma. The world's population is aging fast, due to longer life spans and lower birth rates, and there will soon be more old people than young for the first time in history. This has left families and governments struggling to decide: Who is responsible for the care of the elderly?
A few countries, such as India, Singapore, France and Ukraine, now require adult children to financially support their parents. Twenty-nine U.S. states have similar laws, though they are rarely enforced because the government provides aid.
In China, where family loyalty is a cornerstone of society, more than 1,000 parents have sued their children for financial support over the last 15 years. But in December, the government went further, amending its elder care law to require that children also support their parents emotionally. Children who don't visit their parents can be sued -- by mom and dad.
Tragedy hits again for Adrian Peterson, whose lifetime of resilience has fueled stellar career
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- When Adrian Peterson was 7, he saw his older brother die in a bike accident when he was hit by a drunken driver.
For Peterson's teenage years, his father was in prison. He grew up poor in east Texas. Shortly before the Minnesota Vikings drafted him in 2007, a half-brother, was shot and killed.
Long before Peterson began running through the NFL record book, he learned to turn tragedy into fuel for an exceptional career. Football has always been his escape, and now he's dealing with more off-the-field strife.
One of Peterson's sons, a victim of alleged child abuse, died Friday of severe head injuries suffered in the attack. The man charged in the case, Joseph Patterson, was home alone with the 2-year-old boy Wednesday and called 911 to report he was choking, according to police. Patterson was the boyfriend of the child's mother.
Peterson missed practice Thursday to be in Sioux Falls, S.D., where the boy lived with his mother and Patterson. He returned to the Vikings on Friday.
Wacha too tough again, Cardinals beat Dodgers 1-0 to go up 2-0 in NLCS
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Matched against ace Clayton Kershaw, the only thing Michael Wacha lacked was a no-hit watch.
"He's becoming a guy a lot of teams wish they drafted," teammate David Freese said. "What he's done is remarkable, especially on this stage."
Wacha stared down a bases-loaded test in the sixth inning and pitched into the seventh, and the kids in the bullpen also were impervious to October pressure, keeping the Los Angeles Dodgers bats silent for the second straight day and winning 1-0 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the NL championship series.
"I'm kind of at a loss for words to describe him," said fellow rookie Kevin Siegrist, who got a big out to end the seventh. "It's kind of ridiculous how well he's done so far."
The Cardinals managed only two hits off Kershaw and the Dodgers, but Jon Jay's sacrifice fly set up by Freese's double and A.J. Ellis' passed ball in the fifth stood up.