- Associated Press - Saturday, May 9, 2015

At least 1 dead, others unaccounted for after multiple tornadoes touch down in North Texas

CISCO, Texas (AP) - Multiple tornadoes tore through North Texas on Saturday, leaving one person dead and others unaccounted for in a sparsely populated farming and ranching area as the system slowly weakened while advancing toward Fort Worth.

Walter Fairbanks, fire chief in Cisco - about 100 miles west of Fort Worth, confirmed there was one fatality when the tornado hit Saturday afternoon near the town.

Authorities were going house to house to assess the damage, but that proved difficult amid the heavy rainfall, Eastland County Judge Rex Fields said.

“There is a considerable amount of damage,” Fields, who also serves as the county’s emergency services coordinator, told The Associated Press. “Homes have been lost.”

The extent of injuries or fatalities wasn’t immediately clear there or in the town of Burkburnett, about 15 miles north of Wichita Falls, where a second tornado touched down. A police dispatcher who declined to give her name due to department policy said tornado sirens could be heard in Burkburnett just before 6 p.m.

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The Latest on severe weather: Fire chief says 1 dead after tornado near North Texas town

7:50 p.m.

The fire chief in the North Texas town of Cisco says one person has been killed after a tornado swept through the area.

Chief Walter Fairbanks had no other details early Saturday evening. Damage was reported after the tornado hit Saturday afternoon in Eastland County, about 100 miles west of Fort Worth.

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7 p.m.

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In South Carolina, Republican White House hopefuls try ways to stand out in conservative field

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - Republicans making their pitch to be the party’s 2016 presidential nominee aimed to out-do each other Saturday in arguing that President Barack Obama is a failed leader.

But hitting Obama with the usual critiques - from his 2010 health care overhaul to allegations of missteps on foreign policy to the rise in the national debt during his time in office - also made it hard for the gaggle of White House aspirants to stand out during a forum in South Carolina hosted by the conservative group Citizens United.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tried by touting his ability to beat whomever is nominated by the Democratic Party, reminding activists that he won three statewide elections in four years in a state twice carried by Obama.

“The last time a Republican carried the state for president was 1984,” he said. “That’s a tough state.”

He even took the crowd back to his decision to run for county executive in heavily Democratic Milwaukee County. “Never ever had there been a Republican in that spot before,” he said.

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A disunited kingdom: Cameron is up against Scottish nationalism, English anti-Europeanism

LONDON (AP) - Standing outside 10 Downing Street the day after his unexpected election victory, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to govern for “one nation, one United Kingdom.” That will be easier said than done, as competing brands of nationalism threaten to pull the country apart.

Separatists have swept the board in Scotland, Wales wants greater autonomy and England saw spreading support for the insular U.K. Independence Party and its demand to leave the European Union.

Newspaper editorial pages on Saturday oozed anxiety about Britain’s future, worrying that Cameron could be the last leader of a truly United Kingdom.

The Independent said the election “leaves the prospect of the U.K. still being in one piece at the next general election in 2020 in some doubt.” The pro-Conservative Daily Telegraph agreed that “the biggest problem facing Mr. Cameron is the future of the Union,” while the liberal Guardian said leaving the EU would be “a catastrophe for Britain economically, politically and socially.”

What a difference eight months makes. In September, Cameron looked like the leader who had saved the U.K. In a referendum, Scottish voters rejected the idea of becoming independent and ending the 300-year-old union between England and Scotland.

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North Korea says it successfully test-fires newly developed ballistic missile from submarine

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - North Korea said Saturday that it successfully test-fired a newly developed ballistic missile from a submarine in what would be the latest display of the country’s advancing military capabilities. Hours after the announcement, South Korean officials said the North fired three anti-ship cruise missiles into the sea off its east coast.

Experts in Seoul say the North’s military demonstrations and hostile rhetoric are attempts at wresting concessions from the United States and South Korea, whose officials have recently talked about the possibility of holding preliminary talks with the North to test its commitment to denuclearization.

For the second straight day, North Korea said it would fire without warning at South Korean naval vessels that it claims have been violating its territorial waters off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea’s presidential Blue House held an emergency national security council meeting to review the threat and discuss possible countermeasures.

“By raising tensions, North Korea is trying to ensure that it will be able to drive whatever future talks with the U.S. and South Korea,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor from the Seoul-based University of North Korean Studies.

South Korean officials previously had said that North Korea was developing technologies for launching ballistic missiles from underwater, although past tests were believed to have been conducted on platforms built on land or at sea and not from submarines.

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Liberia cautiously marks end of Ebola, but cases grow in neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) - On the day Mercy Kennedy lost her mother to Ebola, it was hard to imagine a time when Liberia would be free from one of the world’s deadliest viruses. It had swept through the 9-year-old’s neighborhood, killing people house by house.

Neighbors were so fearful that Mercy, too, might be sick that no one would touch her to comfort her as tears streamed down her face. She had only a tree to lean on as she wept.

Now seven months later, Liberia on Saturday officially marked the end of the epidemic that claimed more than 4,700 lives here, and Mercy is thriving in the care of a family friend not far from where she used to live.

“What we went through here was terrifying,” said Martu Weefor, 39, who is now raising Mercy alongside her three biological children and Mercy’s older brother. “Nobody wanted to pass on our road or have anything to do with us, everybody was afraid of the community. I thank God that Liberia is free from Ebola.”

Saturday marks 42 days since Liberia’s last Ebola case - the benchmark used to declare the outbreak over because it represents two incubation periods of 21 days for new cases to emerge. The World Health Organization on Saturday called the milestone a “monumental achievement for a country that reported the highest number of deaths in the largest, longest, and most complex outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976.”

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AP-GfK Poll: Only 1 in 10 highly confident the Supreme Court can be fair in health law case

WASHINGTON (AP) - Many people in the United States doubt that the Supreme Court can rule fairly in the latest litigation jeopardizing President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The Associated Press-GfK poll finds only 1 person in 10 is highly confident that the justices will rely on objective interpretations of the law rather than their personal opinions. Nearly half, 48 percent, are not confident of the court’s impartiality.

“That lawsuit should have never made it this far,” said Hal Lewis, a retiree from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“If they rule for the people who are bringing the suit, it could be close to the destruction of Obamacare in this country,” added Lewis, who once edited a local newspaper in his city.

Lewis is one of the relatively few people - 13 percent - who say they are closely following the case, called King v. Burwell.

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Despite recovering US economy, nearly half of states expect to confront big budget gaps

ATLANTA (AP) - With the nation’s economy at its healthiest since the Great Recession, a surprising trend is emerging among the states - large budget gaps.

An Associated Press analysis of statehouse finances around the country shows that at least 22 states project shortfalls for the coming fiscal year. The deficits recall recession-era anxiety about plunging tax revenue and deep cuts to education, social services and other government-funded programs.

The sheer number of states facing budget gaps prompted Standard & Poor’s Ratings Service to call the trend a sort of “early warning.”

“After all, if a state is grappling with a budget deficit now, with the economic expansion approaching its sixth anniversary, what will be its condition when the next slowdown strikes?” credit analyst Gabriel Petek wrote in a recent report.

The forces at work today are somewhat different than when the recession took hold in 2008. In some states, revenue growth has been stagnant, missing projections and making it difficult to keep pace with expanding populations and rising costs for health care and education. Other states have been hurt by a steep decline in oil prices or seen their efforts to promote growth through tax cuts fail to work as anticipated.

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The Latest on 2016: Republican presidential hopefuls often point to their parents with pride

6:30 p.m. (EDT)

For many of the presidential hopefuls on stage Saturday for the South Carolina Freedom Summit, their parents are never far from their thoughts.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tells of his parents leaving India to go to Baton Rouge. “The first time they ever got on a plane was to come to America,” he says. Turning to some friendly ribbing, he describes his father as a miserly taskmaster. “Try to get an allowance out of a father like that,” he says.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has his father on hand for the event. Cruz notes that his dad, Rafael Cruz, is a Cuban political refugee. The elder Cruz, a pastor, has sometimes been a source of controversy, particularly with harsh critiques of the Obama administration and the gay rights movement. But he’s also an asset to the senator, sometimes accompanying Cruz on campaign trips and even traveling independently to promote his son.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has his own family story about parents who left Cuba for a better life. He recounts how they emigrated from Cuba, worked hard at menial jobs and still managed to raised four children and buy their own home.

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For family of Etan Patz, answers despite mistrial in 1979 missing-boy case that captivated US

NEW YORK (AP) - For decades, the father of Etan Patz believed he knew who killed his 6-year-old son on the way to school in 1979, and it wasn’t the man whose trial he just endured.

But after hearing every word of nearly three months of testimony, Stan Patz is sure that Pedro Hernandez kidnapped and killed Etan - even if the jury wasn’t.

“The family of Etan Patz has waited 36 years for an explanation as to what happened to our sweet little boy,” his father said after a hung jury spurred a mistrial Friday. After hearing prosecutors’ case against the former corner-store clerk who gave what his defense called a false confession in 2012, Patz said, “I’m convinced. … It makes sense, from beginning to end.”

As the trial ended unresolved, even Patz’s new certainty marked another twist in his family’s painful trajectory in trying to get answers and justice.

The investigation stretched across decades and continents. For years, Patz and many others blamed Jose Ramos, a convicted pedophile acquainted with a woman who sometimes walked Etan home from school. Patz was so sure he mailed a copy of Etan’s missing poster to Ramos in prison each year, asking: “What did you do to my little boy?”

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