GOP blocks Senate debate on Dem student loan bill
2012-05-08 18:45:19 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans derailed a Democratic bill on Tuesday keeping interest rates on federal college loans from doubling July 1 in an election-year battle aimed at the hearts — and votes — of millions of students and their parents.
Republicans said they favor preventing the interest rate increase but blocked the Senate from debating the $6 billion measure because they oppose how Democrats would pay for it: Boosting Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes on high-earning stockholders of some privately owned corporations.
GOP senators want a vote on their own version heading off the interest rate increases and paid f...
Redistricting leads to ugly GOP vs. GOP races
2012-05-08 18:33:39 UTC
LAKE MARY, Fla. (AP) — Community and business leaders in affluent Seminole County talked about the promise of jobs and economic development from the new 61-mile commuter rail through Orlando. They praised the man who pushed hard for the $1.3 billion project and many others: Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida.
"It puts us on the map," Frank Martz, city manager from Altamonte Springs, told some 300 local movers and shakers gathered at a lunch sponsored by the Orlando Business Journal.
A few feet away, Mica quietly rattled off a list of roads, trails and highways he helped ensure during his 20 years in Congress, including the past yea...
Obama's 'to do' list for Congress: jobs, mortgages
2012-05-08 18:40:51 UTC
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — President Barack Obama said Tuesday that only Congress can take the "bold action" needed to spur job creation, as he unfurled an election year "to do" list for lawmakers.
Obama's action plan for Congress centers on a series of economic initiatives he has already been pushing for months, including eliminating tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas and promoting new tax credits for small businesses and for companies to develop clean energy.
None of the items on the president's wish list has previously gained any traction in Congress, and there was little indication that they would in the six months bet...
Romney: Obama shouldn't be tried for treason
2012-05-07 20:18:00 UTC
CLEVELAND (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney says he doesn't think President Barack Obama should be tried for treason.
Obama's likely Republican opponent told reporters after a campaign rally Monday in Cleveland that "no, of course" the president should not be tried for such an offense.
Romney had a chance to make that clear during the rally, but passed on the opportunity when he ignored a questioner who called for Obama to be tried for treason.
Democrats, and Obama's re-election campaign, pounced on Romney's initial silence.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt questioned Romney's willingness to stand up to the "extreme voices" in h...
Evidence in homeless man's death to air in court
2012-05-07 18:44:32 UTC
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A judge is expected to weigh whether there's enough evidence to proceed with a trial for two California police officers charged with the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man in a case that spawned a federal civil rights probe and fueled weeks of protests by Fullerton residents.
The decision could come after prosecutors lay out their case against Officer Manuel Ramos and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli at a preliminary hearing Monday in Superior Court in Santa Ana.
Prosecutors say the officers are responsible for the July death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas during an investigation of reported car burglaries at a tran...
Federal agent says Clemens wasn't targeted
2012-05-07 18:18:39 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal agent Jeff Novitzky testified Monday that Roger Clemens was not a target when Novitzky began questioning Clemens' former strength coach, Brian McNamee, about performance-enhancing drugs.
Meanwhile behind the scenes Clemens' lawyers sought to strike the testimony of former teammate Andy Pettitte.
Under government re-direct questioning, Novitzky said that Clemens wasn't the only athlete Novitzky asked McNamee about. Novitzky, now an agent with the Food and Drug Administration, said that McNamee talked to him about a dozen professional athletes using performance-enhancing drugs.
Was Clemens ever a target, as...
Fed court reverses order for VA system overhaul
2012-05-07 18:03:08 UTC
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court is reversing its demand that the Veterans Affairs Department dramatically overhaul its mental health care system.
A special 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that any such overhaul needs to be ordered by Congress or the president.
The 10-1 ruling reversed an earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the same court.
The May 2011 ruling had ordered the VA to ensure that suicidal vets are seen immediately, among other changes. It found the VA's "unchecked incompetence" in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims ...
Cities seek more money from tax-exempt colleges
2012-05-07 17:29:04 UTC
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Wary of tax increases, weary of layoffs and determined to avoid bankruptcy, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras had only to gaze up at his city's Ivy League campus to see a way out of the morass.
On College Hill sits Brown University, with a $2.5 billion endowment and property worth an estimated $1 billion. Brown would pay the city $38 million in property taxes each year — more than enough to solve the city's budget problems— if only it wasn't tax exempt.
And so city officials and state lawmakers applied some pressure, and last week Brown agreed to contribute $31.5 million to Providence over the next 11 years. The ...
Clinton presses India to cut oil imports from Iran
2012-05-07 07:35:43 UTC
KOLKATA, India (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged energy-starved India on Monday to reduce its Iranian oil imports to keep up pressure on the Islamic republic to come clean about its nuclear program.
Clinton told a town hall meeting in the eastern city of Kolkata that there's an adequate supply in the market for India to find alternative sources of oil. Clinton noted India has taken some steps to reduce its imports from Iran but she says the U.S. wants to see more.
"If there weren't an adequate supply ... we would understand, but we believe that there is adequate supply," she said.
India could face U.S. sa...
Gingrich: Romney has earned the GOP nomination
2012-05-07 07:04:21 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former White House candidate Newt Gingrich says Mitt Romney has "earned the right to represent the Republican Party" against President Barack Obama and that he'll help Romney's campaign in any way he can.
Gingrich says Romney has "fought his way to the nomination" and that "nobody gave him an inch."
Gingrich also tells CNN's "State of the Union" that he's discussed speaking at events on Romney's behalf.
The former House speaker laughs off any suggestion that he would try to be Romney's running mate, noting that the campaign would probably prefer someone younger and hinting at his reputation as a domineering leade...
George Lindsey, known as TV's Goober Pyle, dies
2012-05-07 06:46:53 UTC
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — George Lindsey, who made a TV career as a grinning service station attendant named Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw," has died. He was 83.
The Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home in Nashville said Lindsay died early Sunday morning after a brief illness.
Lindsey was the beanie-wearing Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" from 1964 to 1968 and its successor, "Mayberry RFD," from 1968 to 1971. He played the same jovial character on "Hee Haw" from 1971 until it went out of production in 1993.
"America has grown up with me," Lindsey said in an Associated Press interview in 1985. "Goober is every ma...
New video of US aid worker kidnapped in Pakistan
2012-05-07 18:30:13 UTC
ISLAMABAD (AP) — A 70-year-old American aid worker kidnapped nine months ago in Pakistan said in a video released by al-Qaida that he will be killed unless President Barack Obama agrees to the militant group's demands. The White House called for his immediate release.
The video posted on militant websites Sunday followed one issued in December in which al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri said Warren Weinstein would be released if the U.S. stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. He also demanded the release of all al-Qaida and Taliban suspects around the world.
"My life is in your hands, Mr. President," Weinstein ...
Clinton hopes to see female US president
2012-05-07 05:57:27 UTC
KOLKATA, India (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday she has no desire to make another run for the White House but hopes to see an American woman president in her lifetime.
Politely turning aside questions about her political intentions at a town hall event in Kolkata, Clinton said she really wanted to see "that final glass ceiling" broken.
Clinton, who sought the Democratic nomination four years ago and barely lost to Barack Obama, noted that the American political process is difficult and heavily dependent on fund raising, which makes it hard for any candidate to succeed.
Still, she told her audience,...
US hikers who were held in Iran marry in Calif.
2012-05-07 00:09:45 UTC
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two Americans who were detained and accused of spying after hiking near the Iraq-Iran border three years ago have been married in Northern California, a family friend said Sunday.
Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd were married at 4 p.m. Saturday at an undisclosed location, San Francisco attorney Ben Rosenfeld said. About 200 people attended the wedding — a "beautiful ceremony" that was held in a setting "chosen for its pastoral beauty," he said.
Bauer, Shourd and Josh Fattal, all University of California, Berkeley graduates, were arrested on July 31, 2009, and held in Iran.
Iran accused the three of illegally enter...
Long fight predicted in Guantanamo Sept. 11 case
2012-05-06 20:16:06 UTC
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — The U.S. has finally started the prosecution of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, but the trial won't be starting anytime soon, and both sides said Sunday that the case could continue for years.
Defense lawyer James Connell said a tentative trial date of May 2013 is a "placeholder" until a true date can be set for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the attacks, and his co-defendants.
"It's going to take time," said the chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, who said he expects to battle a bar...
Paul wins majority of delegates from Maine GOP
2012-05-06 20:05:24 UTC
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — With Mitt Romney's nomination all but decided, Ron Paul supporters wrested control of the Maine Republican Convention and elected a majority slate supporting the Texas congressman to the GOP national convention, party officials said as the two-day convention neared its end Sunday. The results gave the Texas congressman a late state victory.
The names of 15 at-large delegates from Maine to the GOP nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., were posted Sunday as votes for the other delegation seats remained undecided. Maine is allotted a total of 24 delegates to the national convention.
"It's certainly a significant vi...
Biden OK with equal rights for married gay couples
2012-05-06 19:58:18 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden says he's "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples who marry getting the same civil rights and liberties as heterosexual couples, a stand that gay rights advocates interpreted as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
But the White House and President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, eager to avoid a debate on a hot-button social issue in an election year, insisted that Biden was not breaking ranks with Obama, who does not publicly support gay marriage.
Biden told NBC's "Meet the Press" that marriage should be about being loyal to someone you love, whether that marriage is between a man a...
Clinton warns against undermining Grameen Bank
2012-05-06 06:20:11 UTC
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday urged the government of Bangladesh not to do anything that could undermine the effectiveness of the internationally acclaimed Grameen Bank micro-lender.
Clinton told a town hall audience in the Bangladeshi capital that the pioneering bank founded by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus was a "tremendous" model for the developing world and that its structure should not be tinkered with. A search for a new bank chief is now underway since the government ousted Yunus last year in a heavily criticized step.
Clinton is a personal friend of Yunus and met with him fo...
2 hikers held in Iran to marry in SF Bay area
2012-05-06 01:18:09 UTC
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two Americans detained and accused of spying after hiking near the Iraq-Iran border three years ago will marry Saturday in the San Francisco Bay area.
A private wedding ceremony for Shane Bauer and Sarah Shourd was set for 4 p.m. at an undisclosed location, said San Francisco attorney and family friend Ben Rosenfeld.
Bauer, Shourd and Josh Fattal, all University of California, Berkeley graduates, were arrested on July 31, 2009, and held in Iran.
Bauer and Fattal were sentenced to eight years after being convicted on spy-related charges, but were released after more than two years.
Shourd was released after ...
9/11 defendants ignore judge at Guantanamo hearing
2012-05-06 01:10:31 UTC
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — They knelt in prayer, ignored the judge and wouldn't listen to Arabic translations as they confronted nearly 3,000 counts of murder. The self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and four co-defendants defiantly disrupted an arraignment that dragged into Saturday night in the opening act of the long-stalled effort to prosecute them in a military court.
It wasn't until more than seven hours into the hearing that prosecutors at the U.S. military base in Cuba began reading the charges against the men, including 2,976 counts of murder and terrorism in the 2001 attacks that sent hijacked jetlin...
Obama: Time to shift attention from wars to home
2012-05-05 19:23:31 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says his goal of defeating al-Qaida is within reach and that it's time to turn the country's attention to domestic concerns.
Just four days after his trip to Afghanistan, Obama said that money saved from ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should help pay down the national debt and go to health care, education and infrastructure.
"After more than a decade of war, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home," he said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday.
The president took note of the agreement he signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday that shifts security ...
Obama shifts to campaign mode, tears into Romney
2012-05-05 18:37:02 UTC
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — President Barack Obama launched a new phase of his re-election campaign on Saturday by branding GOP challenger Mitt Romney as an eager rubber stamp for extremist Republicans in Congress and offering himself as a hard-charging champion of an embattled middle class.
In the first formal rallies of his bid for a second term, Obama acknowledged the U.S. economy has struggled to recover from a painfully deep recession but declared, "We've been through too much to turn back now."
Obama's toughly worded speech at a noisy basketball arena at Ohio State University previewed a similar event later Saturday at Virginia Commo...
General balance: Romney tilts right
2012-05-05 07:53:33 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — He will need independents in November, but Mitt Romney isn't abandoning his "severely conservative" record.
Instead, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has launched an aggressive campaign against President Barack Obama that straddles two sometimes-conflicting political ideologies. On some days, he is both a social conservative and social moderate, a right-wing conspiracy theorist and promoter of political compromise. It's a delicate balancing act in a general election effort that's just weeks old but one that's leaning decidedly right so far.
Romney spoke out against China's "one-child policy" on Friday...
Obama escalates election fight in Ohio, Virginia
2012-05-05 07:49:21 UTC
WASHINGTON (AP) — He's been in campaign mode for months, but President Barack Obama makes his quest for a second term official with rallies Saturday in Ohio and Virginia. He'll be casting Republican rival Mitt Romney as a flip-flopping protector of the rich.
The events at two universities, Ohio State and Virginia Commonwealth, are billed as the official kickoff of Obama's re-election bid, even though he's been solidly engaged in his campaign. He filed the necessary paperwork to seek re-election over a year ago.
During the stops, Obama wants to convince voters that his policies have put the economy on more solid footing despite fresh ...
Romney: Regular people teach him about struggles
2012-05-04 20:38:02 UTC
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mitt Romney says he learns about what it's like to struggle in a difficult economy by sitting down to chat with regular people. But the Republican presidential candidate doesn't want anybody to see it — and his campaign won't say who he meets with or when the meetings occur.
In interviews and on the campaign trail, Romney regularly says that he learns about the struggling economy by talking to people affected by it. Earlier this week, he said he meets with families "almost every day." On Friday, Romney said the talks are "off the record" — and that he agrees to keep private the names of the people he meets with.