- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

US military planes deliver more Marines into Ebola hot zone; African leaders plead for help

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) - Six U.S. military planes arrived in the Ebola hot zone Thursday with more Marines, as West Africa’s leaders pleaded for the world’s help in dealing with “a tragedy unforeseen in modern times.”

“Our people are dying,” Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma lamented by videoconference at a World Bank meeting in Washington. He said other countries are not responding fast enough while children are orphaned and infected doctors and nurses are lost to the disease.

Alpha Conde of Guinea said the region’s countries are in “a very fragile situation.”

“This disease is today an international threat and deserves an international response,” he said, speaking through a translator.

Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he was reminded of the start of the AIDS epidemic.


Europe, others say flights from Ebola-hit African states must continue, focus on fast response

CASABLANCA, Morocco (AP) - After seven months in Ebola-stricken Liberia, Vijay Kumar was getting his temperature scanned Thursday at the airport by medical crews in blue gowns and masks - one of dozens who relied on Royal Air Maroc’s continuing flights to West Africa.

“Of course we are all scared,” the cellphone worker said as he and dozens of passengers made their way through the international airport in Casablanca, Morocco. But “we really appreciate their procedures, it’s a good system.”

He was finally heading home to Chennai, India, relieved that there were still flights operating, after British Airways and Emirates suspended travel to the region. Airlines from Morocco, France and Belgium are still flying in and out of West Africa, encouraged by the World Health Organization, because stopping would keep out needed aid workers and supplies - and wouldn’t necessarily halt the spread of the disease.

It can take up to 21 days before a person infected with Ebola starts to show symptoms that can be found in airport screening tests. During that period, an individual carrying Ebola can get a flight to anywhere in the world and fall ill later - as happened with a Liberian man who developed Ebola and died in the U.S. this week.

Departing passengers in Africa are being screened. U.S. officials said they will soon start screening arrivals from the affected countries. European governments so far have held off, even though it’s conceded infected passengers could arrive undetected. If someone gets sick in Europe, they are hoping to focus on quick response in advanced isolation wards like the one at Frankfurt, Germany’s University Clinic - not far from its international airport.


US-led coalition ramps up strikes on Syrian town as militants press offensive

MURSITPINAR, Turkey (AP) - The U.S.-led coalition intensified its aerial bombardment of Islamic State positions Thursday in the Syrian border town of Kobani as the extremist group fought street battles with Kurdish forces and reportedly rushed in reinforcements.

The battle for the town near the frontier with Turkey has emerged as a major early test for the air campaign aimed at rolling back and eventually destroying the extremist group.

It has also strained ties between Washington and Ankara over the long-term U.S. strategy in Syria. On Thursday, the U.S. special envoy for the coalition, retired Marine Gen. John Allen, and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg were in Turkey to press the country to join military operations.

Turkish officials have said that while they do not want Kobani to fall, they will not take on a greater role until the coalition outlines a broader strategy that also includes attacking Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is best positioned to benefit from any rollback of the Islamic State group.

But attacking Assad’s regime “is not the focus of our international coalition and not the focus of our efforts by the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.


A look at the most recent developments in same-sex marriage amid a landmark week

Weddings, court rulings and confusion are defining a week that started with the U.S. Supreme Court denying appeals from five states seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage, followed by a ruling overturning some bans in Western states. Some states affected by the decisions are going ahead with weddings; some are proceeding toward marriage deliberately; and some are putting up a fight.

Here’s a rundown of the most recent developments:



The marriage confusion even tripped up someone who should definitely know better.


Mexican officials confirm arrest of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, leader of Juarez cartel

MEXICO CITY (AP) - The alleged leader of the Juarez drug cartel, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, has been arrested in the northern city of Torreon, two Mexican officials said Thursday.

Carrillo Fuentes, 51, purportedly heads the cartel founded by his late brother, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, and both the U.S. and Mexico had million-dollar rewards for his arrest.

Carrillo Fuentes, better known as “The Viceroy” or “The General,” took over control of the Juarez drug cartel after his brother Amado, nicknamed “The Lord of the Skies,” died in 1997 in a botched cosmetic surgery. Amado got his nickname by flying planeloads of drugs into the United States.

It was the second capture of a major drug lord in as many weeks. Mexican authorities nabbed Hector Beltran Leyva as he ate fish tacos in a seafood restaurant in central Mexico on Oct. 1.

The two officials who revealed the information about Carrillo Fuentes’ arrest insisted on speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to speak to the press. They did not provide details of the capture.


Supreme Court inaction on same-sex marriage leaves gay couples in some states in limbo

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Days after the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear any appeals from states trying to uphold gay marriage bans, Diane Ansley and Cathy McGaughey waited for hours in a church basement for a federal judge’s order that would finally allow them to exchange their vows.

Similar scenes have played out across the country as same-sex couples waited for the go-ahead to wed, the aftermath of inaction by the high court that has sown confusion. Ansley and McGaughey had hoped to get their marriage license Thursday, then have their pastor marry them at the church not far from the courthouse.

“It’s been such a roller coaster for sure - what’s happened with the lawsuit and back and forth,” said the 54-year-old McGaughey. “Let’s just get it done and have the celebration.”

In North Carolina, where the ban had been overturned by a lower court judge and the attorney general had promised not to defend it anymore, the picture was still murky. In all, 11 states were affected by the Supreme Court’s decision.

Ansley and McGaughey and other gay couples there were expecting an imminent court decision to let them marry. But on Thursday, Republican legislative leaders appeared to be making a last-minute move to block or delay the nuptials.


Shooting of 18-year-old by St. Louis officer reignites anger among activists; protests planned

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Two months after a Ferguson officer killed Michael Brown, setting off intense national debate about law enforcement treatment of minorities, the shooting death of another black 18-year-old by police in nearby St. Louis has reignited anger among activists already planning weekend protests.

Police say Vonderrit D. Myers was shot Wednesday after he opened fire on a white, off-duty officer, but Myers’ parents say he was unarmed. Some activists and lawmakers say Myers was targeted because he was black and are asking the Justice Department - which has opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Brown, who was unarmed - to investigate his shooting.

“This here was racial profiling turned deadly,” said state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat.

The shooting happened as activists and other protesters from around the country prepared for four days of rallies, marches and protests over the Brown shooting. Organizers say the events, which start Friday and include a march Saturday in downtown St. Louis, have taken on added urgency.

“This is a racial powder keg,” said Jerryl Christmas, a St. Louis attorney who was among more than 20 black leaders who joined Nasheed at a news conference Thursday outside police headquarters. “All this is going to do is escalate the situation.”


Indiana newlyweds die in apparent murder-suicide hours after wedding, motive for it unclear

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - An Indiana couple was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide only hours after they were married, authorities say.

About a dozen friends and relatives gathered for an after-party at the home of George Samson, 54, and Kelly Ecker Samson, 50, following a wedding reception Saturday night at a Terre Haute banquet center, the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department said.

Witnesses told detectives George Samson left without his wife after becoming irritated near the end of the reception, and some guests saw that they weren’t talking with each other during the after-party. Investigators haven’t determined what led to the argument, Sheriff Greg Ewing told the Tribune-Star (https://bit.ly/1vQwWcDhttps://bit.ly/1vQwWcD ).

“We’re talking to attendees at the wedding, but we will never know the reason why,” Ewing said.

Only Kelly Samson’s young son and George Samson’s parents remained at the house when she made the first of four 911 calls within a few minutes starting about 1:20 a.m. Sunday, according to a sheriff’s department report.


Ohio official: Chrysler tells state, city that keeping Jeep Wrangler in Toledo challenging

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Ohio’s governor office says Chrysler insists that continuing to build the Jeep Wrangler in the state will be a challenge.

The automaker is considering moving production of the Wrangler out of Toledo so it can be constructed with an aluminum body to meet new government gas-mileage standards.

Chrysler says revamping the Wrangler plant in Toledo would be too costly.

A group led by Toledo’s mayor along with Ohio officials met with Chrysler officials Thursday.

A spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik) says Chrysler told the group that the new federal fuel-efficiency standards are putting enormous pressure on automakers.


Snowden, pope, refugees, Congo rights campaigner in the buzz for 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

STAVANGER, Norway (AP) - Bettors this year are putting their money on Edward Snowden, Pope Francis or a Pakistani schoolgirl as favorites to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

As usual, the secretive Norwegian Nobel Committee hasn’t dropped any hints ahead of Friday’s announcement, revealing only that it had received a record 278 nominations. Geir Lundestad of the Norwegian Nobel Committee has suggested the choice was more difficult this year, telling The Associated Press they had “seven meetings rather than five or six.”

Here’s a look at some names generating the most Peace Prize buzz this year:


The former National Security Agency contractor blew the lid on mass U.S. surveillance in the summer of 2013 - too late to be a contender for last year’s prize - but two Norwegian lawmakers nominated him for the 2014 award. One of them, Snorre Valen, said Snowden’s disclosures qualified for the peace prize because “surveillance is the latest arms race. For there to be any chance of peace, countries have to be able to trust each other.” Snowden, who remains exiled in Russia, has said he is proud to have been nominated but considers himself an outsider for the $1.1 million award.

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