- Associated Press - Sunday, October 19, 2014

At his first campaign rally of the year, Obama says Democrats fighting for opportunity for all

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) - President Barack Obama says Democrats this year are fighting to ensure that opportunity in America is not limited to the elite few, but to everybody.

Obama is making his first major campaign appearance of the year at a rally for Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown at a high school outside Washington. Obama says Brown is running for governor to improve Maryland’s infrastructure, education and job-training. He says Republicans are blocking equal pay for women and a minimum wage hike.

Invoking the American Dream, Obama says Democrats are fighting to ensure every child can make it in America if they try. He asked the crowd: Which party will fight for you?

Roughly 8,000 people were attending. Brown faces Republican Larry Hogan on Nov. 4.


Obama confronts Ebola scares with high-profile action amid swirl of politics, second-guessing

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama delayed acting on immigration and an attorney general nomination this fall to dodge the politics of the midterm campaign season. But there was one topic he could not push aside - Ebola.

The past week’s jarring Ebola developments have put a spotlight on the president’s management skills just as he was earning praise for acting militarily against Islamic militants.

In recent months, Obama caught criticism for going golfing immediately after speaking about the beheading of an American, and for attending a fundraiser after an airliner was shot down in Ukraine. This time, as the Ebola threat hit home in America, the president suddenly cleared his schedule, canceling travel and appearances to consult with Cabinet members and talk with world leaders about how to contain the epidemic.

By Friday, he had named a point man for the U.S. response just as the clamor for an Ebola “czar” was nearing fever pitch.

“They are resisting their usual impulse to hunker down and wait it out,” said Jim Manley, a former top aide to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid who has in the past consulted with the White House. “This time they’ve decided to switch gears if only because it hasn’t worked in the past.”


CDC to update protocols for treating Ebola patients, Pentagon readies team to aid US doctors

ATLANTA (AP) - Revised guidance for health care workers treating Ebola patients will include using protective gear “with no skin showing,” a top federal health official said Sunday, and the Pentagon announced it was forming a team to assist medical staff in the U.S., if needed.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said those caring for an Ebola patient in Dallas were vulnerable because some of their skin was exposed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working on revisions to safety protocols. Earlier ones, he said, were based on a World Health Organization model in which care was given in more remote places, often outdoors, and without intensive training for health workers.

“So there were parts about that protocol that left vulnerability, parts of the skin that were open,” Fauci said.

The CDC guidance was expected as early as Saturday, but its release has been pushed back while it continues to go through review by experts and government officials.


Pope beatifies Paul VI after remarkable synod on families, says God isn’t afraid of new things

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis on Sunday beatified Pope Paul VI, concluding the remarkable meeting of bishops debating family issues that drew parallels to the tumultuous reforms of the Second Vatican Council which Paul oversaw and implemented.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI was on hand for the Mass, which took place just hours after Catholic bishops approved a document charting a more pastoral approach to ministering to Catholic families.

They failed to reach consensus on the two most divisive issues at the synod: on welcoming gays and divorced and civilly remarried couples. But the issues remain up for discussion ahead of another meeting of bishops next year.

While the synod scrapped its ground-breaking welcome and showed deep divisions on hot-button issues, the fact that the questions are on the table is significant given that they had been taboo until Francis’ papacy.

“God is not afraid of new things!” Francis exclaimed in his homily Sunday. “That is why he is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways.”


After finding remains, police hunt for clues, evidence in college student’s disappearance

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - After finding remains that could be University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, authorities interviewed nearby residents and picked through leaves on the side of a sparsely populated highway, searching for any clues or evidence.

Forensic tests were needed to confirm whether the remains match the 18-year-old Graham. They were discovered by a deputy Saturday in a heavily wooded area of Albemarle County that is home to horse farms about 12 miles from campus. Graham disappeared Sept. 13 after a night out with friends.

Her parents were notified that the remains were found, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said. It wasn’t immediately clear Sunday how long it would take for them to be identified. Investigators also wouldn’t say if they had found anything else.

The last person seen with Graham, 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham. He is being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 4.

The remains were discovered roughly 6 miles from where the body of 20-year-old Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington was found three months after she vanished in 2009.


US Marine suspected in transgender killing in Philippines tests country’s American alliance

OLONGAPO, Philippines (AP) - Inside a funeral parlor, a Filipino mother sits and weeps next to a coffin containing the body of her daughter and demands answers. On a hulking American assault ship moored at a nearby port sits a man who might have them - a U.S. Marine authorities suspect in the brutal slaying at a cheap hotel more than a week ago.

“We don’t eat without praying first. We don’t sleep without saying a prayer. Where were you when this happened?” Julita Laude beseeched God. “She had so many dreams and that killer destroyed them all.”

U.S. authorities are cooperating in the investigation, and have ordered the ship to stay at the Subic Bay Freeport, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Manila, until it is completed.

The killing of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old transgender whose former name was Jeffrey, has sparked public anger in the Philippines and revived a debate over the U.S. military presence in a country seen by Washington as a major ally in Southeast Asia. The nations signed a new accord in April that allows greater U.S. military access to Philippine military camps, part of Washington’s pivot back to Asia where it wants to counter China’s rising might.

Philippine police have identified the suspect as U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton. He was one of thousands of American and Philippines military personnel who took part in joint exercises earlier this month. He and other U.S. personnel were on leave in Olongapo city when Laude was found dead.


Money really does grow on trees in New England, where leaf peepers pump millions into states

JAFFREY, N.H. (AP) - On Mount Monadnock, hikers file up the 3,165-foot peak in lockstep, protected from drizzling rain by a luminous golden canopy of leaves. They’re not just gazing at foliage - they’re looking at cold, hard cash.

Money really does grow on trees in autumn in New England, and all six states are raking it in. Officials say tourists will spend upward of $3 billion to catch a glimpse of the red, yellow and orange hues - and the windfall is steadily rising as the economy regains strength.

Every year, the radiance of fall draws nature-lovers to Monadnock State Park - and countless other mountains, hills, scenic look-outs and shady country lanes - by the droves.

“We wanted to get out in the fresh air and see the colors while it’s still warm,” said Christopher LeBeau, who drove from Connecticut to hike Mount Monadnock. “This is full peak here, and it’s amazing.”

Lingering warm weather is causing leaves to stay on the trees longer in New England. Some experts say 2014 could be an outstanding year for foliage, aesthetically and financially.


Medical researcher’s cyanide poisoning trial figures to be battle of medical experts

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Nobody had any reason to question why a University of Pittsburgh medical researcher bought more than a half-pound of cyanide with his school-issued credit card, until his neurologist wife suddenly fell ill and died a few days later.

Now Dr. Robert Ferrante - a leading researcher on Lou Gehrig’s disease - is set to go on trial in the April 2013 death of his wife, who authorities said was poisoned by a cyanide-laced energy drink.

Ferrante, through his attorneys, has maintained he had nothing to do with his wife’s death and remains “devastated” by it. But detectives also contend someone used Ferrante’s computer days after Klein died to learn whether treatments she received after falling ill would have removed poison from her system.

The homicide trial scheduled to begin with jury selection Tuesday in Pittsburgh figures to be a battle of medical experts.

“If the defense doesn’t have some credible medical evidence to dispute the prosecution’s evidence, they’re in pretty bad shape,” said law professor John Burkoff, who’s been monitoring the case.


Friends, family of nation’s 1st Ebola victim reach milestone, can leave their homes

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - As her boyfriend Thomas Eric Duncan lay dying of Ebola in a Dallas hospital bed, Louise Troh battled loneliness and fear that she too had contracted the disease while confined to a stranger’s home under armed guard.

Troh’s confinement was ending Sunday night, along with several friends, family and others who had contact with Duncan after he first became infectious. Ebola has a 21-day incubation period, and the people who interacted with Duncan after he first arrived in Dallas from Liberia will be in the clear.

It’s an important milestone in the nation’s efforts to contain the outbreak and a cause for celebration for Troh. After three long weeks, she will be able to have a clean bill of health, leave the house and be done with twice-daily temperature readings by government health care workers. She likened the period to being a prisoner.

“I want to breathe, I want to really grieve, I want privacy with my family,” Troh told The Associated Press on Friday, lamenting that she was missing Duncan’s memorial service at his mother’s church in North Carolina because of the quarantine. Troh says she and Duncan planned to get married later in the week.

Duncan arrived in Dallas from Liberia in late September and went to the hospital complaining of headache and stomach pain. He was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics to treat a misdiagnosed sinus infection. He returned two days later, was diagnosed with Ebola and died Oct. 8.


LA comedy club owner thinks he has found path to world peace - find world’s funniest person

LOS ANGELES (AP) - It was last summer and Israeli-Palestinian tensions were at the highest they’d been in some time when Jamie Masada hit on a formula for world peace: Forget about guns and bombs, and just tell jokes to each other.

The onetime stand-up comic is, after all, the owner of the venerable Hollywood nightclub The Laugh Factory, so the idea wasn’t unfamiliar. Still, it’s one thing to get a liquored-up audience laughing at lines like, “Take my mother-in-law - please.”

It’s another to bring people from across the world who dislike each other together - and hope they will laugh at each other. And yet, that’s what he’s trying to do with what he calls the first Funniest Person in the World competition.

Masada has scoured comedy festivals from Afghanistan to South Korea and Egypt to Israel for candidates and had online voters winnow the list to 10 semi-finalists who would perform at the Laugh Factory and before a worldwide Internet audience on Oct. 20.

After online voters narrow the list to five, the finalists will travel to the Laugh Factory’s sister club in Las Vegas. There, following another competition and vote, the winner will be crowned on Oct. 24, United Nations Day.

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