AP News in Brief

AP News
Posted: Nov 06, 2009 6:23 PM

Fort Hood suspect gave away belongings, said methodical goodbyes, before shooting rampage

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) _ As if going off to war, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan cleaned out his apartment, gave leftover frozen broccoli to one neighbor and called another to thank him for his friendship _ common courtesies and routines of the departing soldier. Instead, authorities say, he went on the killing spree that left 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, dead.

Investigators examined Hasan's computer, his home and his garbage Friday to learn what motivated the suspect, who lay in a coma, shot four times in the frantic bloodletting that also wounded 30. Hospital officials said some of the wounded had extremely serious injuries and might not survive.

The 39-year-old Army psychiatrist emerged as a study in contradictions: a polite man who stewed with discontent, a counselor who needed to be counseled himself, a professional healer now suspected of cutting down the fellow soldiers he was sworn to help.

Relatives said he felt harassed because of his Muslim faith but did not embrace extremism. Others were not so sure. A recent classmate said Hasan once gave a jarring presentation to students in which he argued the war on terrorism was a war against Islam, and "made himself a lightning rod for things" when he felt his religious beliefs were challenged.

Investigators were trying to piece together how and why Hasan allegedly gunned down his comrades in the worst case of violence on a military base in the U.S. The rampage unfolded at a center where some 300 unarmed soldiers were lined up for vaccines and eye tests.


Officials: Gunman apprehended after killing 1, injuring 5 others at Orlando office building

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ A gunman opened fire Friday in the offices of an engineering firm where he was let go more than two years ago, authorities said, killing one person and injuring five others.

Jason Rodriguez, 40, surrendered about three hours later, after officers saw him through the window of his mother's home and asked him to come outside, Orlando Police Chief Val Demings said.

Asked by a reporter outside the police station why he did it, he replied: "Because they left me to rot."

Demings said Rodriguez brought a handgun to the firm in a downtown office tower where he once worked as an engineer, but investigators are not sure what his motive was.

"This is a tragedy, no doubt about it, especially on the heels of the tragedy in Fort Hood that is on our minds," Demings said. "I'm just glad we don't have any more fatalities or any more injuries than we currently have."


House Democratic leaders struggle for final votes needed to pass sweeping health care bill

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Amid intense lobbying by the Obama administration, House Democratic leaders struggled Friday for the final votes needed to pass sweeping health care legislation, working to ease concerns among Hispanic holdouts and abortion foes.

"We're very close" to having enough votes to prevail, said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, although he added a scheduled Saturday vote could slip by a day or two and sought to pin the blame on possible Republican delaying tactics.

"Nice try, Rep. Hoyer, but you can't blame Republicans when the fact is you just don't have the votes," shot back Antonia Ferrier, spokeswoman for the GOP leader, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio.

In a struggle that combined the fate of President Barack Obama's top domestic priority and a 2010 campaign issue, bipartisanship was not an option.

GOP leaders boasted that all 177 House Republicans stood ready to oppose the $1.2 trillion bill, which would create a new federally supervised insurance marketplace where the uninsured could purchase coverage.


Britain's Brown stands firm on Afghanistan but says 'corrupt' government must reform

LONDON (AP) _ Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Afghanistan's government on Friday to take action against corruption, saying he would not risk more British lives there unless it reforms.

Brown said in a speech that success in Afghanistan is vital to Britain's security _ but declared that if the Afghan government does not mend its ways it will forfeit the world's support.

"I am not prepared to put the lives of British men and women in harm's way for a government that does not stand up against corruption," he said.

Brown's ultimatum echoes the words of President Barack Obama, who said Wednesday that he told newly re-elected Afghan President Hamid Karzai that "this has to be a point in time in which we begin to write a new chapter" in Afghanistan.

The U.K. leader's speech comes after the deaths of seven British soldiers in the past week, including five who were shot by an Afghan police officer they were training. Corruption-marred presidential elections and rising casualties have undercut support for the war _ and increased pressure on Brown to justify Britain's presence in Afghanistan.


World leaders wanted: No climate deal without them at Copenhagen summit

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) _ After two years of tough U.N. climate talks often pitting the world's rich against the poor, negotiators said Friday a new global agreement now rides on industrial nations pledging profound emissions cuts next month in Copenhagen.

Negotiators from industrial nations, including the United States, said eleventh-hour promises are possible and a global warming pact can be reached.

But developing countries complained that pledges so far were nowhere near enough to avoid a catastrophe, and that world leaders need to take part in the 192-nation conference on Dec. 7-18 to cut a meaningful deal.

"Part of the frustration is that a deal is so close ... all the elements are there," said Kevin Conrad, the delegate from Papua New Guinea. "But it's absolutely conceivable for senior people to come together and spend a week and clean all this up."

The United States was universally seen as the linchpin to a deal, but it has been unable to present its position or pledge emissions targets because of the slow progress of climate legislation in Congress. "Everyone else wants to calibrate against" the Americans, Conrad said.


NJ jurors convict Fla. man who claimed he was too fat to kill former son-in-law

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) _ A jury convicted a Florida man Friday of murdering his former son-in-law, rejecting the man's defense that he was too fat to have run up and down a flight of stairs to commit the crime and make a quick getaway.

Edward Ates looked down and shook his head in court as he was found guilty of murder and weapons counts for killing Paul Duncsak, who was shot six times at his home in Ramsey, about 25 miles northwest of New York.

Ates' "too fat to kill" defense provided an angle to the trial that attracted attention from the news media but didn't sway the jury of eight women and four men, who reached a verdict on their second day of deliberations after a six-week trial.

Some of Duncsak's family members cried softly after the verdict was read. Ate's wife, Dottie, sobbed in the gallery as he was handcuffed and led away by court deputies.

"It doesn't bring him back, but at least he won't get away with it," said Duncsak's sister-in-law, Barbara Duncsak. "It's satisfying. It was a long time coming."


Fla. cops: Wife, lover faked abduction to scam hubby _ and the sex and lies are on audiotape

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A wealthy health care executive came home one night in September to find a terrifying note from his wife, Quinn Gray: The 37-year-old housewife and mother of two had been abducted from her posh Florida beach community.

"There are three men holding me right now and they want $50,000 cash," Gray wrote. "Do not do anything stupid. NO COPS!"

Authorities say the 25-year-old mechanic charged with trying to extort thousands from Gray's husband wasn't her captor _ but her accomplice and lover. Her husband, however, has stuck by his wife's side.

Gray said she went along with her captor's demands, eventually having audiotaped sex with him. Gray says she wasn't scheming, but went insane and started to believe the kidnapper's claims that her husband wanted her dead.

"I wish I knew how to write a screenplay, because if I did, I'd make some money off this story," said St. John's County Sheriff David Shoar.

Joblessness at 10 percent for 2nd time since WWII; millions of unemployed feel no recovery


NEW YORK (AP) _ Just when it was beginning to look a little better, the economy relapsed Friday with a return to double-digit unemployment for only the second time since World War II and warnings that next year will be even worse than previously thought.

The jobless rate rocketed to 10.2 percent in October, the highest since early 1983, dealing a psychological blow to Americans as they prepare holiday shopping lists. It was another worse-than-expected report casting a shadow over the struggling recovery.

President Barack Obama called it "a sobering number that underscores the economic challenges that lie ahead." He signed a measure to extend unemployment benefits and extended a tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

Economists had not expected the 10 percent mark to come so quickly and immediately darkened their forecasts. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, and Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc., predicted the rate will peak at 11 percent by mid-2010. They earlier had projected 10.5 percent.

Unemployment at 11 percent would be a post-World War II record. Only once since then has joblessness hit double digits in the United States _ from September 1982 to July 1983, topping out at 10.8 percent.


Rihanna says ex-boyfriend Chris Brown 'had no soul in his eyes' during assault in February

NEW YORK (AP) _ Rihanna on Friday described the horror she felt as her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown was biting and punching her during a violent argument in February, saying she saw "no soul in his eyes."

"There was no person when I looked at him," the 21-year-old singer recalled during the second installment of an interview airing on ABC's "Good Morning America." "He had no soul in his eyes. Just blank."

Brown was arrested Feb. 8, hours after he was accused of beating Rihanna after the two argued over another woman. He later pleaded guilty to felony assault.

In the interview, Rihanna, who is no longer with Brown, described him as "definitely my first big love." She said their relationship was intense.

"The more in love we became, the more dangerous we became for each other _ equally as dangerous," she said. "It was a bit of an obsession almost."


Crowds roar, confetti falls on Broadway as NYC fetes Yankees with parade, keys to city

NEW YORK (AP) _ Crowds roared, church bells rang and streams of paper rained down on Broadway as the New York Yankees celebrated their 27th championship Friday in a way only this city can, with a parade up the Canyon of Heroes.

The players, joined by a few celebrity fans and Yankees of the past, drank it all in as they rode on floats and double-decker buses through Manhattan's financial district.

It has been years since the city used actual ticker-tape to celebrate its World Series wins, but the experience was still authentic to the many thousands who crammed the sidewalks along the three-quarter-mile parade route near Wall Street.

"I love it!" said city sanitation worker John Freeman, as he raked up confetti and toilet paper rolls thrown from skyscrapers.

Whole families skipped work and school to be there. Players recorded the crowd with their cameras as they rode to a second celebration at City Hall, where the mayor presented the team with keys to the city.