- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

AP Enterprise: A chronicle of Ebola patient’s inexorable decline, doctors’ aggressive efforts

Despite five days of intensive treatment, Thomas Eric Duncan’s condition was deteriorating.

By the morning of Oct. 2, nurses noticed blood in the Liberian man’s urine, and his stools were getting darker. Lab tests revealed worrisome signs of liver and kidney failure. Doctors suspected the 45-year-old welder was slipping into acute respiratory distress.

Then, suddenly, a hopeful sign. Duncan was hungry.

At 3:45 p.m., nurses raised the patient into a sitting position and gave him a snack - a packet of saltine crackers and some Sprite. It wasn’t much, but no miracle was too small for the staff at Dallas’ Texas Health Presbyterian.

“Patient states that he is ‘happy right now,’” the nurse noted in the log.

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Stepped-up Ebola screening using no-touch thermometers starts at NYC’s Kennedy airport

NEW YORK (AP) - Customs and health officials began taking the temperatures of passengers arriving at New York’s Kennedy International Airport from three West African countries on Saturday in a stepped-up screening effort meant to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.

Federal health officials said the entry screenings, which will expand to four additional U.S. airports in the next week, add another layer of protection to halt the spread of a disease that has killed more than 4,000 people.

“Already there are 100 percent of the travelers leaving the three infected countries are being screened on exit. Sometimes multiple times temperatures are checked along that process,” Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine for the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, said at a briefing at Kennedy.

Cetron added, “No matter how many procedures are put into place, we can’t get the risk to zero.”

The screening will be expanded over the next week to New Jersey’s Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.

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Islamic State fighters besiege towns around Iraq’s capital, though fight in Baghdad unlikely

BAGHDAD (AP) - On the western edge of Iraq’s capital, Islamic State group militants battle government forces and exchange mortar fire, only adding to the sense of siege in Baghdad despite airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition.

Yet military experts say the Sunni militants of the Islamic State group, who now control a large territory along the border that Iraq and Syria share, won’t be able to fight through both government forces and Shiite militias now massed around the capital.

It does, however, put them in a position to wreak havoc in Iraq’s biggest city, with its suicide attacks and other assaults further eroding confidence in Iraq’s nascent federal government and its troops, whose soldiers already fled the Islamic State group’s initial lightning advance in June.

“It’s not plausible at this point to envision ISIL taking control of Baghdad, but they can make Baghdad so miserable that it would threaten the legitimacy of the central government,” said Richard Brennan, an Iraq expert with RAND Corporation and former Department of Defense policymaker, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.

The siege fears in Baghdad stem from recent gains made by the Islamic State group in the so-called Baghdad Belt - the final stretch between Anbar province, where the group gained ground in Janaury, and Baghdad. The group has had a presence in the Baghdad Belt since spring, Iraqi officials say, but recent advances have sparked new worries.

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For Obama, enforcing no-fly zone in Syria would mean war or cooperation with Assad government

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration’s promise to limit U.S. military engagement against Islamic State militants makes it difficult to accept Turkey’s terms for joining the fight in neighboring Syria.

Turkey and other American allies want the U.S. to create a no-fly zone inside Syrian territory. Yet doing that would mean embracing one of two options President Barack Obama long has resisted: cooperating with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government or taking out its air defenses, an action tantamount to war.

There are increasing demands for the creation of a secure buffer on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey.

The U.S. and others in the coalition fighting the militants are pleading with Turkey, a NATO ally, to prevent the fall of Kobani, a border town where the United Nations is warning of mass casualties.

A “safe zone” would require Americans and their partners to protect ground territory and patrol the sky, meaning enforcement of a no-fly area.

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Beyond marriage, other gay-rights challenges remain: HIV, anti-bias laws, transgender rights

NEW YORK (AP) - Even as they celebrate epic victories in the push for marriage equality, gay-rights activists acknowledge that other difficult issues remain on their agenda. There’s the persistent high rate of HIV infections, the struggles to expand transgender rights, and the striking fact that even in some states allowing same-sex marriage, people can lose their job for being gay.

For many activists, the top priority after marriage is federal legislation that would outlaw a broad range of discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. There’s no such federal law now, and more than half the states do not ban discrimination by employers or public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

“There’s absolutely no good reason - if you can get married - why you should be denied a hotel room or a job,” said Fred Sainz, a vice president of the Human Rights Campaign. “There will be a fair number of states where you can get married and be fired the same day for having gotten married.”

Anti-LGBT discrimination is among several issues likely to gain more attention following the Supreme Court’s Oct. 6 decision to turn away appeals by five states seeking to preserve their bans on same-sex marriage. The number of gay-marriage states - previously 19 - is expected to nearly double soon, and continue growing toward what many Americans now assume is inevitable expansion to all 50 states.

As a whole, the LGBT population is elated by the expansion of gay marriage. Yet according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, about 40 percent of LGBT adults aren’t interested in getting married, compared to 24 percent of the general public. And nearly 40 percent of the LGBT respondents said the marriage issue had drawn too much attention away from other concerns.

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AP PHOTOS: Joy and confusion as a week of court rulings extend gay marriage rights

Jubilation and confusion defined a week that started with the U.S. Supreme Court denying appeals from five states trying to retain bans on same-sex marriage.

Gay and lesbian couples rushed to marry as other court rulings followed, but temporary stays and a Supreme Court mix-up caused frustration in some states.

Eventually, there was joy as county clerks began issuing marriage licenses in states from Oklahoma to Nevada.

Same-sex weddings also took place in the nation’s South for the first time, crossing a threshold in the traditionally conservative region.

By week’s end, the number of states allowing gay marriage had jumped from 19 to about 32, although some are still trying to block the changes.

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Obama wraps up California fundraising trip, more campaign politics coming next week

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - President Barack Obama on Saturday wrapped up a week that saw him raise campaign money for Democrats on both coasts.

Obama attended a “round table” discussion at the home of Democratic donor and Zynga founder Mark Pincus and his wife, Ali, with about 25 supporters who paid up to $32,400 for the privilege, according to Democratic officials.

It was Obama’s fourth California fundraiser in three days and was closed to media coverage.

This coming week brings more of the same for the president, including his long-anticipated, first appearance at a campaign rally this election season. At an event Wednesday in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he’ll help boost Gov. Dannel Malloy and state Democrats. Malloy is in a tight re-election race in a state Obama won easily in 2012.

Obama has worked hard all year to raise money for Democratic congressional and gubernatorial candidates. But his dismal approval ratings - in the low 40s, according to recent polls - so far have sidelined him from the campaign trail as candidates have avoided appearing with him, especially those from states where Obama lost in past years.

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Thousands protest police shootings in St. Louis as newcomers join weekend rallies, marches

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Thousands gathered Saturday for a second day of organized rallies and marches protesting Michael Brown’s death and other fatal police shootings in the St. Louis area and nationwide.

The events remained peaceful but boisterous gatherings into the night. Vietnam-era peace activists, New York City seminarians and hundreds of fast-food workers bused in from Chicago, Nashville and other cities marched alongside local residents, spurred by a national campaign dubbed Ferguson October.

Outside Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, where the Cardinals hosted the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the National League Championship Series, several dozen protesters stood on the sidewalk, chanting and holding signs. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that fans headed to the game mainly went around the protesters without stopping to look, though a few cheered their efforts.

Four days of planned events began Friday afternoon with a march outside the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office. Protesters renewed calls for prosecutor Bob McCulloch to charge Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson officer, in the Aug. 9 death of Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old. A grand jury is reviewing the case and the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation.

“We still are knee deep in this situation,” said Kareem Jackson, a St. Louis rap artist and community organizer whose stage name is Tef Poe. “We have not packed up our bags, we have not gone home. This is not a fly-by-night moment. This is not a made-for-TV revolution. This is real people standing up to a real problem and saying, ‘We ain’t taking it no more.’”

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Suspension of New Jersey high school football powerhouse’s season puts focus on hazing

PARLIN, N.J. (AP) - The abrupt cancellation of football season at a New Jersey prep powerhouse signaled something more than locker room hijinks. Now seven teens are facing sex crime charges as this solidly middle-class town and its beloved football program find themselves at the center of the broader debate over how to deal with hazing.

The school’s superintendent says abuse by the Sayreville War Memorial High School students was so pervasive he had no choice but to call off the season for a team that has won three sectional titles in four years. His decision angered team parents but drew applause from advocates who called it the kind of bold stand necessary to confront hazing.

No coaches have been charged, and it isn’t clear if any knew about the alleged incidents. In his first public comments, head coach George Najjar told the Star-Ledger of Newark on Saturday that he would comment on the allegations but that “now is not the time.”

Najjar could not be reached by telephone Saturday evening.

The allegations involved attacks on four students over a 10-day span last month, authorities said. Six defendants were arrested Friday and the seventh surrendered Saturday. Their names were not released.

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Cowbell celebration: No. 3 Mississippi State topples No. 2 Auburn, 38-23

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen grinned broadly as he walked off the field, pumping his fist with one arm while holding his daughter Breelyn in the other. The deafening roar of the crowd’s trademark cowbells showered the field and the players danced around in celebration.

The biggest home game in Mississippi State history had just turned into its biggest victory.

Dak Prescott ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead No. 3 Mississippi State over No. 2 Auburn 38-23 on Saturday night at Davis Wade Stadium.

Prescott, who jumped into the Heisman Trophy conversation last weekend with a breakout game against Texas A&M;, turned in another solid performance. He completed 18 of 34 passes for 246 yards while running for 121 yards.

He also had lots of help. Josh Robinson ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns, De’Runnya Wilson caught four passes for 72 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown catch, and the Bulldogs defense bailed out the offense with red zone stops following turnovers.

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