- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

Trump declines to correct town hall questioner who says Obama is Muslim

ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has declined to correct a questioner at a town hall event who incorrectly stated that President Barack Obama is Muslim and said he’d be “looking at” claims of militant training camps on American soil.

Trump, who has a history of making controversial remarks about immigrants and other groups, was kicking off a town hall event Thursday evening in Rochester, New Hampshire - his first since Wednesday’s second Republican primary debate.

“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims,” said the first man Trump called on to ask a question. “We know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American.”

Trump, who was a driver of the “birther” movement that claimed Obama wasn’t born in the U.S, first responded with feigned exasperation - “We need the question,” he said, to laughs - but let the man continue.

“We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question,” the questioner continued. “When can we get rid of it?”

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Croatia shuts most Serbia border crossings, unable to handle migrant influx, angering Belgrade

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - Croatia closed all but one of its border crossings with Serbia after straining to cope with more than 13,000 migrants who have entered the country after Hungary closed its border.

Huge numbers of people surged into Croatia after Hungary erected a barbed wire-fence and took other tough measures to stop them from using it as a gateway into Western Europe. Croatia represents a longer and more difficult route into Europe, but those fleeing violence in their homelands had little choice.

Many of the migrants are Syrians and Iraqis fleeing war, who are seeking safety and prosperity in Germany and elsewhere in Western Europe.

Serbian officials, fearing the closure in Croatia would block thousands of migrants inside the country, protested Zagreb’s move. Aleksandar Vulin, Serbia’s social affairs minister, said Serbia will take Croatia to international courts if the international border crossings remain closed, arguing that it should have been prepared for the influx.

“We will not pay the price of someone else’s incapability,” Vulin said. “I am sorry to see that Croatian humanity and solidarity lasted just two days.”

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Compared to past waves, migrants seeking new lives abroad face less welcome, more danger

The people streaming into Europe are the faces of a world on the move, more so now than at any other time in recent history. Last year, the United Nations announced that the number of displaced people worldwide had surpassed 50 million for the first time since the end of World War II. It’s now nearly 60 million.

Yet migration is also a story as old as man - and in this case, woman and child. Here is a snapshot of today’s migration to Europe in the context of history and geography.

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A WORLD AT WAR

Today’s migration, a wave that has grown since the Arab Spring in 2011, is perhaps most often compared with the flight of refugees after World War II. It’s impossible to calculate accurately, mainly because we now have much better data and tracking systems than even a decade ago. But the U.N. reports that the number of displaced people during World War II exceeded 50 million - which is less than now, but at a time when the world’s population was smaller.

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House bills hit Planned Parenthood, some abortion doctors as GOP leaders try averting shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican leaders hope House passage of bills targeting Planned Parenthood and curbing some abortion procedures will mollify fractious conservatives demanding a face-off with President Barack Obama that could trigger a federal shutdown.

The GOP-run chamber was on track to approve the two measures Friday, despite White House veto threats and opposition from most Democrats. One would block Planned Parenthood’s federal funds for a year. The other would inflict criminal penalties on doctors who don’t try saving infants born alive during abortions.

The bills were a reaction to videos showing Planned Parenthood officials casually describing how they provide researchers with tissue from aborted fetuses. The debate also underscored how the age-old fight over abortion could affect next year’s elections because it touches emotional hotspots among each side’s most loyal partisans and could be pivotal as each party tries wooing female voters.

“It’s about preserving a pipeline of funding to the nation’s largest abortion provider,” Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., said of Democrats arguing that Planned Parenthood provides irreplaceable health services for women. “We all get that. So let’s drop the phony women’s health charade.”

“This bill is spiteful, it’s mean-spirited and it is cruel,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said of the measure halting Planned Parenthood’s funds. “It tells millions of low-income Americans, ‘Forget your health, you can just die.’ “

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Here’s what the Federal Reserve wants to see before raising interest rates from record lows

WASHINGTON (AP) - So what will it take for the Federal Reserve to finally raise interest rates?

The U.S. economy is now in its seventh straight year of expansion. It’s growing at a steady if unexciting 2.2 percent annual rate. Unemployment has sunk from a 10 percent peak to a reassuring 5.1 percent. Auto and home sales have accelerated.

Yet on Thursday, Fed officials declined to lift rates from record lows.

The decision left some Fed watchers mystified over what the central bank needs to see to begin phasing out a policy it launched in 2008 to help save a collapsing economy. Many consumers and businesses wouldn’t even likely feel the consequences of a single rate hike, at least not immediately. And Yellen has stressed that the Fed’s rate increases would be modest and gradual.

At a news conference, Yellen declined to spell out what exactly would give the Fed enough confidence to raise the federal funds rate - the interest that banks charge each other - from near-zero.

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Pope Francis plans to duck dissidents in Cuba, spawning bitter criticism from opposition

HAVANA (AP) - Pope Francis plans to meet with Cuba’s president and its priests, its young and its sick, its churchgoers and its seminarians as he travels around the island starting Saturday. But not its dissidents.

The absence on Francis’ agenda of any meeting with the political opposition has sparked bitter critiques from dissidents who say they feel let down by an institution they believe should help push for greater freedom in Cuba.

“He should exert more pressure,” said Antonio Rodiles, head of the hardline group Estado de SATS. “In many cases political systems have come under international pressure that has resulted in change, and that’s what needs to be happen with Cuba.”

Papal observers say it’s likely Francis will speak strongly to Cubans about the need for greater freedom in their country and may speak to President Raul Castro in private about the same topic. But in shying from meetings with dissidents, the pope is hewing largely to the Cuban Catholic Church’s strategy of advocating for change within bounds laid out by the communist state rather than pushing the system to change as John Paul II did in Eastern Europe. There is no one Cuban officials consider more out of bounds than the country’s dissidents, whom they call mercenaries paid by the U.S. government and Cuban-American interest groups in Miami.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said this week that Francis had not accepted any invitations to meet with dissidents, and well-known opposition members told The Associated Press they have received no invitation to see him.

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Communities look to become ‘dementia friendly’ to help make life easier for those affected

WATERTOWN, Wis. (AP) - Shirley Strysick sometimes forgets she’s met someone two hours prior or that she’s no longer a nurse.

So the 90-year-old is living in a nursing home in Watertown, about 50 miles west of Milwaukee. And lucky for her it’s in a city trying to make life easier for those with dementia.

Watertown and the state of Minnesota are helping lead the push nationally for communities to become “dementia friendly.” The Watertown effort includes a “Memory Cafe,” a monthly coffee-shop support and social group for people with dementia and their caretakers.

“Everybody was very pleasant and I never heard anyone say, ‘Well that’s a stupid thing’ or criticize you,” said Strysick, after attending a recent meeting.

In Minnesota, a website offers advice on how to be dementia friendly and includes downloadable documents, training videos and statistics.

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Taliban storm mosque, killing 16 people during brazen attack on air base in northwest Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) - The Pakistani Taliban launched a brazen assault on a military base on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar early Friday, storming a mosque inside the sprawling compound and killing 16 worshippers during prayers.

The attack triggered an hours-long firefight with Pakistani troops at the base, during which an officer and two guards were also killed, officials said. The Pakistani forces said they killed 13 of the attackers but it was unclear how many were involved in the assault.

The attack was a major blow for Pakistan’s military, which stepped up operations against the militants following a horrific Taliban attack last December at a Peshawar school that killed 150 people, mostly children.

In Friday’s assault, the attackers first stormed the guard room of the Badaber base, established in 1960s as an air force facility but mostly used as a residential place for air force employees and officers from Peshawar, according to air force officials.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said 13 attackers were killed by the security forces. He said the attack was quickly repulsed and that the “bodies of the slain terrorist” were lying on the ground in the base compound.

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Buffalo Wild Wings ending TV ads featuring comedian who said he lied about Sept. 11 attacks

NEW YORK (AP) - Buffalo Wild Wings will stop airing TV commercials featuring comedian Steve Rannazzisi, who said this week that he lied about being in the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Upon careful review, we have decided to discontinue airing our current television commercials featuring Steve Rannazzisi,” the Minneapolis company said in a statement Thursday.

The New York Times first reported Rannazzisi’s admission earlier this week. Rannazzisi, who is also a star on the FXX show “The League,” has said in the past that he was working as an account manager for Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of one of the World Trade Center towers when it was hit with a plane. He and described the “pandemonium” he witnessed when he ran out into the street.

In an interview with comedian Marc Maron, Rannazzisi also said six of the 10 members on a basketball team he played on died.

This week, Rannazzisi said on Twitter he was in fact working in another part of the city, and not at the World Trade Center.

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Manning leads Broncos to tying touchdown before fumble return lifts them past stunned Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - All those doubters who kept saying that Peyton Manning was washed up, that his arm strength was depleted and his drive for championships diminished?

He silenced them along with everyone else in Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night.

Manning calmly led the Broncos to a tying touchdown in the final minute, then watched from the sideline as Denver cornerback Bradley Roby returned Jamaal Charles’ fumble 21 yards for another score with 27 seconds left to cap a stunning 31-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

“The talk doesn’t really get to me,” said Manning, who threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns along with a pick-six. “I don’t read a lot of papers and watch a lot of analysis. But obviously, you get friends and teammates and it seems to make them quite angry.

“Obviously, it’s nice when guys on your team, and your friends and family have your back. But it doesn’t affect me,” he added. “We’re 2-0 and played two really good teams.”

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