- Associated Press - Friday, August 1, 2014

House passes tougher bill dealing with crisis on US-Mexico border; Obama condemns plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House has approved a $694 million bill to address the crisis of unaccompanied migrant youths arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The GOP legislation passed 223-189 late Friday on a nearly party-line vote. Last-minute changes won support from conservative holdouts who had forced GOP leaders to pull the bill from the floor a day earlier.

The bill would increase spending for National Guard at the border and add immigration judges and detention facilities.

It makes policy changes so that the migrant kids could be sent home more quickly.

But with the Senate already out of session for the summer, the bill stands no chance of becoming law.

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Israel pushes deeper into Gaza after soldier is captured by militants and cease-fire collapses

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Backed by tank fire and airstrikes, Israeli forces pushed deep into southern Gaza on Friday, searching for an Israeli army officer believed to be captured by Hamas fighters during deadly clashes that shattered an internationally brokered cease-fire.

The apparent capture of the soldier and the collapse of the truce set the stage for a possible expansion of Israel’s 25-day-old military operation against Hamas.

President Barack Obama and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon called for the immediate release of the soldier but also appealed for restraint. In Israel, senior Cabinet ministers convened late Friday in a rare emergency meeting after the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

The search for the missing soldier centered on the outskirts of the town of Rafah, on the Egypt-Gaza border.

At least 140 Palestinians were killed Friday in Gaza, with at least 70 killed in the Rafah area along with two Israeli soldiers.

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Obama says in aftermath of 9/11, US ‘tortured some folks’ and crossed the line

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States tortured al Qaida detainees captured after the 9/11 attacks, President Obama said Friday, in some of his most expansive comments to date about a controversial set of CIA practices that he banned after taking office.

“We tortured some folks,” Obama said at a televised news conference at the White House. “We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

Addressing the impending release of a Senate report that criticizes CIA treatment of detainees, Obama said he believed the mistreatment stemmed from the pressure national security officials felt to forestall another attack. He said Americans should not be too “sanctimonious,” about passing judgment through the lens of a seemingly safer present day.

That view, which he expressed as a candidate for national office in 2008 and early in his presidency, explains why Obama did not push to pursue criminal charges against the Bush era officials who carried out the CIA program. To this day, many of those officials insist that what they did was not torture, which is a felony under U.S. law.

The president’s comments are a blow to those former officials, as well as an estimated 200 people currently working at the CIA who played some role in the interrogation program.

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2 Americans detained in North Korea say they will be tried soon, appeal for US help

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - Two American tourists charged with “anti-state” crimes in North Korea said Friday they expect to be tried soon and pleaded for help from the U.S. government to secure their release from what they say could be long prison terms.

In their first appearance since being detained more than three months ago, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle told a local AP Television News crew that they were in good health and were being treated well. They also said they were allowed to take daily walks. The brief meeting was conducted under the condition that the specific location not be disclosed.

Fowle said he fears his situation will get much worse once he goes on trial.

“The horizon for me is pretty dark,” he said. “I don’t know what the worst-case scenario would be, but I need help to extricate myself from this situation. I ask the government for help in that regards.”

It was not clear whether they were speaking on their own initiative, or if their comments were coerced. The TV crew was permitted to ask them questions.

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Ebola treatments, vaccines still in development; should they be tried now during outbreak?

LONDON (AP) - In the four decades since the Ebola virus was first identified in Africa, treatment hasn’t changed much. There are no licensed drugs or vaccines for the deadly disease.

Some are being developed, but none have been rigorously tested in humans. One experimental treatment, though, was tried this week in an American aid worker sick with Ebola, according to the U.S-based group that she works for in Liberia.

Without a specific treatment, doctors and nurses focus on easing the disease’s symptoms - fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea - and on keeping patients hydrated and comfortable.

The outbreak in three West African countries - Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone - has sickened more than 1,300 people and more than 700 have died since March.

WHY ISN’T THERE A TREATMENT BY NOW?

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American aid workers sick with Ebola traveling from Africa to US for treatment

NEW YORK (AP) - Two American aid workers seriously ill with Ebola will be brought from West Africa to Atlanta for treatment in one of the most tightly sealed isolation units in the country, officials said Friday.

One is expected to arrive Saturday, and the other a few days later, according to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, where they will be treated. They are due to arrive in a private jet outfitted with a special, portable tent designed for transporting patients with highly infectious diseases.

It will be the first time anyone infected with the disease is brought into the country. U.S. officials are confident the patients can be treated without putting the public in any danger.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person, not through the air.

The two Americans - Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol - worked for U.S. missionary groups in Liberia at a hospital that treated Ebola patients. The State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are assisting the groups in their transfer.

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AP-GfK poll: Americans ready to close the book on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AP) - Three in four Americans think history will judge the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as failures, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll that shows that about the same percentage think it was right to pull forces from the two countries.

Americans surveyed in last month’s poll were not optimistic about the chance that a stable democratic government will be established in either country. Seventy-eight percent said it was either not too likely or not at all likely in Afghanistan and 80 percent said the same about Iraq.

Roughly three out of four Americans polled think that in hindsight, each war will be deemed as an outright “complete failure” or “more of a failure than success.”

A majority of those polled, or 70 percent, said the United States was right to withdraw American troops from Iraq in 2011 and pull most U.S. forces out of Afghanistan by December. The two conflicts have consumed the nation for more than a decade and claimed the lives of 6,800 U.S. troops.

Nelson Philip, 73, of Oswego, Illinois, is of two minds. He judges the Afghan war a failure, but wants U.S. troops to stay in countries that remain in turmoil.

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Medical examiner says chokehold by police officer caused NYC man’s death; ruled homicide

NEW YORK (AP) - The city medical examiner ruled Friday that a police officer’s chokehold caused the death of a man whose videotaped arrest and final pleas of “I can’t breathe!” sparked outrage and led to the announcement of an overhaul of use-of-force training for the nation’s largest police department.

Eric Garner, a black man whose confrontation with a white police officer has prompted calls by the Rev. Al Sharpton for federal prosecution, was killed by neck compressions from the chokehold and “the compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police,” medical examiner’s spokeswoman Julie Bolcer said.

Asthma, heart disease and obesity were contributing factors in the death of the 43-year-old Garner, a 6-foot-3, 350-pound father of six, she said.

The finding increases the likelihood that the case will be presented to a grand jury to determine whether Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner in the chokehold, or any other officers involved in the confrontation will face criminal charges. Pantaleo’s attorney, Stuart London, declined to comment.

Garner’s wife, Esaw Garner, told the Daily News, “Thank God the truth is finally out.”

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Denver County celebrates pot at county fair with contests for plants, bongs and edible treats

DENVER (AP) - Marijuana joined roses and dahlias Friday in blue ribbon events at the nation’s first county fair to allow pot competitions.

This weekend’s Denver County Fair includes a 21-and-over “Pot Pavilion” where winning entries for plants, bongs, edible treats and clothes made from hemp are on display.

There is no actual weed at the fairgrounds. Instead, fairgoers will see photos of the competing pot plants and marijuana-infused foods. A sign near the entry warns patrons not to consume pot at the fair.

A speed joint-rolling contest uses oregano, not pot. The only real stuff allowed at the event? Doritos, to be used in the munchie eating contest.

Organizers say the marijuana categories this year - which come with the debut of legal recreational marijuana in Colorado - add a fun twist on Denver’s already-quirky county fair, which includes a drag queen pageant and a contest for dioramas made with Peeps candies.

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Conservatives on board with toughened House bill on border crisis, Obama condemns plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans revived their bill on the U.S.-Mexico border crisis in dramatic fashion Friday, preparing to pass it after winning over conservatives with tough new provisions that could threaten deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants already working in this country legally. President Barack Obama condemned the Republican action and said he’d act unilaterally, as best he could.

A day after GOP leaders pulled the border bill from the floor in a chaotic retreat, tea party lawmakers were enthusiastically on board with the new $694 million version and a companion measure that would shut off a program created by Obama granting work permits to immigrants brought here illegally as kids. The second bill also seemed designed to prevent the more than 500,000 people who’ve already gotten work permits under the program from renewing them, ultimately making them subject to deportation.

Votes on both measures were expected later Friday.

“It’s dealing with the issue that the American people care about more than any other, and that is stopping the invasion of illegal foreign nationals into our country,” said Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. “And we got to yes.”

But Obama said no. “They’re not even trying to solve the problem,” the president said. “I’m going to have to act alone, because we do not have enough resources.”

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