- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

Party leaders clash over Obama as focus shifts to turnout and Election Day nears

WASHINGTON (AP) - Claiming new momentum 48 hours before polls open across America, Republicans on Sunday assailed President Barack Obama in a final weekend push to motivate voters as Democrats deployed their biggest stars to help preserve an endangered Senate majority.

GOP officials from Alaska to Georgia seized on the president’s low approval ratings, which have overshadowed an election season in which roughly 60 percent of eligible voters are expected to stay home.

“This is really the last chance for America to pass judgment on the Obama administration and on its policies,” the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, said in a message echoed by Republicans across the country on the weekend.

The president has avoided the nation’s most competitive contests in recent weeks, but encouraged Democrats to reject Republican cynicism during a Sunday appearance with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.

“Despite all the cynicism America is making progress,” Obama said, imploring Democrats to vote on Tuesday. “Don’t stay home. Don’t let somebody else choose your future for you.”

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AP Exclusive: Ferguson’s no-fly area zone aimed at media; police had cited safety in request

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. government agreed to a police request to restrict more than 37 square miles of airspace surrounding Ferguson, Missouri, for 12 days in August for safety, but audio recordings show that local authorities privately acknowledged the purpose was to keep away news helicopters during violent street protests.

On Aug. 12, the morning after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed the first flight restriction, FAA air traffic managers struggled to redefine the flight ban to let commercial flights operate at nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and police helicopters fly through the area - but ban others.

“They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out,” said one FAA manager about the St. Louis County Police in a series of recorded telephone conversations obtained by The Associated Press. “But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.

At another point, a manager at the FAA’s Kansas City center said police “did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn’t want media in there.”

FAA procedures for defining a no-fly area did not have an option that would accommodate that.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

1. PARTY LEADERS CLASH OVER OBAMA AS ELECTION NEARS

With only 48 hours left until midterms, Republicans assail the president in a final push to motivate voters and Democrats deploy their biggest stars to help preserve an endangered Senate majority.

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Critics say spacecraft owner and designer ignored complaints after deadly 2007 explosion

MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) - The loss of an experimental spaceship that broke up over the Mojave Desert, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another, has renewed criticism of the way the craft’s designer and Virgin Galactic handled a deadly explosion seven years ago.

Space enthusiasts watching Virgin Galactic’s race to send tourists on suborbital flights have complained for years about a 2007 explosion that killed three people on the ground and critically injured three others during a ground test in the development of a rocket engine for the same vehicle that crashed Friday.

“Now we’ve got another person killed, another person seriously injured. So we’ve got a lot that has hurt the industry,” said Geoff Daly, an engineer who has filed complaints with several federal agencies over the use of nitrous oxide to power the ship’s engine.

SpaceShipTwo tore apart Friday after the craft detached from the underside of its jet-powered mothership and fired its rocket engine for a test flight. Authorities have not given any indication what caused the accident. National Transportation Safety Board investigators were on the scene Sunday. The agency could take up to a year to issue a final report.

Daly was co-author of a critical report on the 2007 incident at Scaled Composites, the company owned by Northrop Grumman Corp. that designed SpaceShipTwo. The report was critical of Virgin’s claims that nitrous oxide was safe to use in engines for passenger flight, and it complained that the public was never given a full accounting of what happened.

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Gates Foundation boosts aid to stamp out malaria; targets Ebola, other tropical diseases

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Philanthropist Bill Gates says he wants to end malaria in his lifetime and will give more money toward that goal, part of his broader fight against tropical diseases that are getting unusual public attention because of the Ebola epidemic.

In an interview with The Associated Press and in a speech Sunday at a global health conference in New Orleans, the Microsoft co-founder said his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would increase its malaria program budget by 30 percent, to more than $200 million per year. That’s on top of the foundation’s other donations to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Small steps won’t get the job done, and scientists don’t have all the tools they need to eradicate malaria, Gates said.

His plan includes developing a drug or vaccine to purge the malaria parasite in people who carry it without showing symptoms - a “human reservoir” that helps spread the disease.

“I really do believe that malaria can be eradicated in my lifetime,” said Gates, who just turned 59.

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Daredevil Nik Wallenda walks tightrope between Chicago skyscrapers blindfolded

CHICAGO (AP) - Daredevil Nik Wallenda wowed Chicago and the world Sunday with two hair-raising skyscraper crossings on high wires without a safety net or a harness.

Thousands of cheering fans packed the streets around the city’s Marina City towers to watch the 35-year-old heir to the Flying Wallendas’ family business complete the back-to-back walks, including one wearing a blindfold.

As he stepped from the wire after completing the second leg, he tore off his blindfold and waved to the crowd below that erupted in cheers.

The spectacle was telecast almost-live on the Discovery Channel so producers could cut away if Wallenda fell.

Wearing a bright red jacket, Wallenda tested the tension of the first wire. It took him about six and a half minutes to walk the 454 foot stretch from the Marina City west tower to the top of a building on the other side of the river. The tightrope began at 588 feet from the ground and ended at 671 feet - a 19-degree incline.

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UN climate panel says emissions need to drop to zero this century to keep warming in check

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Climate change is happening, it’s almost entirely man’s fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the U.N.’s panel on climate science said Sunday.

The fourth and final volume of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s giant climate assessment offered no surprises, nor was it expected to since it combined the findings of three reports released in the past 13 months.

But it underlined the scope of the climate challenge in stark terms. Emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, may need to drop to zero by the end of this century for the world to have a decent chance of keeping the temperature rise below a level that many consider dangerous.

The IPCC did not say exactly what such a world would look like but it would likely require a massive shift to renewable sources to power homes, cars and industries combined with new technologies to suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The report warned that failure to reduce emissions could lock the world on a trajectory with “irreversible” impacts on people and the environment. Some impacts already being observed included rising sea levels, a warmer and more acidic ocean, melting glaciers and Arctic sea ice and more frequent and intense heat waves.

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Evangelical college in uproar after president’s stand on gay rights and religious liberty

WENHAM, Mass. (AP) - D. Michael Lindsay thought he was on safe political ground when he signed the letter.

President Barack Obama was about to expand job protection for gays employed by federal contractors. Under the proposed changes, faith-based charities with federal grants worried they could lose the right to hire and fire according to their religious beliefs. Religious leaders flooded the White House with pleas to maintain or broaden the exemption.

Among them was one endorsed by Lindsay, president of Gordon College, a small evangelical school, and 13 evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders.

In the end, Obama left the existing exemption in place. But it was no victory for Lindsay.

His stand last July came at a cost - to him and the school - that he never anticipated: broken relationships with nearby cities, the loss of a key backer for a federal grant, a review by the regional college accrediting agency, and campus protest and alumni pushback over whether the school should maintain its ban on “homosexual practice” as part of its life and conduct standards.

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Jerusalem on edge as Israeli, Palestinian politicians stoke religious fervor over shrine

JERUSALEM (AP) - This combustible city at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been edging toward a new conflagration, with politicians on both sides stoking religious fervor over an ancient Jerusalem shrine sacred to Muslims and Jews.

After months of escalating violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday made his clearest attempt yet to cool tempers, saying he won’t allow changes to a long-standing ban on Jewish worship at the Muslim-run site, despite such demands from ultranationalists in his coalition.

Netanyahu’s reassurances to Muslims came just days after the religious feud over the Old City shrine, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, threatened to spin out of control.

Israel closed the compound for a day last week, a rare move, after a Palestinian shot and wounded a prominent activist who has campaigned for more Jewish access to the site.

Angered by the closure, Jordan, the custodian of the mosque compound, warned it might seek diplomatic sanctions unless Israel halts what a Jordanian official said were “repeated violations” at the site. The U.S. has urged Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to show restraint.

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Brady outduels Manning, throws for 4 TDs as Patriots win 5th straight, 43-21 over Broncos

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - The chant began midway through the fourth quarter with the latest matchup between the all-time great quarterbacks long ago decided:

“Brady’s Better.”

On this day, Tom Brady and his New England Patriots certainly were the superior team, routing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 43-21 on Sunday to grab the best record in the AFC.

Brady outdueled Manning in the 16th installment of their rivalry and is 11-5 against Manning. He threw for four touchdowns and Julian Edelman returned a punt 84 yards for a score.

In his 200th career start, Brady passed for 333 yards. He has won 155 of those, the most for any quarterback in that many starts.

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