AP News in Brief

AP News
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Posted: Nov 07, 2009 6:11 PM

Obama tells Democrats to answer the call of history as they move toward health care vote

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama summoned Democrats to "answer the call of history" Saturday as the House pushed toward a vote on a landmark health care bill holding out the promise of coverage for tens of millions who lack it.

After months of struggle capped by a final wrenching compromise over abortion, Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted, "we will pass health care reform," and likened the events to the creation of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare 30 years later.

Across hours of debate, minority Republicans cataloged their criticism of the 1,990-page, $1.2 trillion measure. "The American people need to understand this is about a government takeover of the whole health care system," said Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga.

But with little or no doubt about the outcome, the rhetoric lacked the fire of last summer's town hall meetings, when some critics accused Democrats of plotting "death panels" to hasten the death of senior citizens.

The legislation would require most Americans to carry insurance and provide federal subsidies to those who otherwise could not afford it. Large companies would have to offer coverage to their employees. Both consumers and companies would be slapped with penalties if they defied the government's mandates.

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Fort Hood suspect told 'There's something wrong with you,' after others also saw trouble ahead

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) _ There was the classroom presentation that justified suicide bombings. Comments to colleagues about a climate of persecution faced by Muslims in the military. Conversations with a mosque leader that became incoherent.

As a student, some who knew Nidal Malik Hasan said they saw clear signs the young Army psychiatrist _ who authorities say went on a shooting spree at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and 29 others wounded _ had no place in the military. After arriving at Fort Hood, he was conflicted about what to tell fellow Muslim soldiers about the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, alarming an Islamic community leader from whom he sought counsel.

"I told him, `There's something wrong with you,'" Osman Danquah, co-founder of the Islamic Community of Greater Killeen, told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I didn't get the feeling he was talking for himself, but something just didn't seem right."

Danquah assumed the military's chain of command knew about Hasan's doubts, which had been known for more than a year to classmates in a graduate military medical program. His fellow students complained to the faculty about Hasan's "anti-American propaganda," but said a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim student kept officers from filing a formal written complaint.

"The system is not doing what it's supposed to do," said Dr. Val Finnell, who studied with Hasan from 2007-2008 in the master's program in public health at the military's Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. "He at least should have been confronted about these beliefs, told to cease and desist, and to shape up or ship out."

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Officer describes firefight that downed Hasan, ending deadly Fort Hood rampage

KILLEEN, Texas (AP) _ One of two police officers who confronted the alleged Fort Hood killer says he shot Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan before kicking the man's weapon away, handcuffing him and ending the nation's worst killing spree on a military base.

Sgt. Mark Todd joined Sgt. Kimberly Munley, hailed as a hero for her actions, in a firefight with Hasan that lasted less than a minute. Todd was not wounded, but the exchange left Munley injured and Hasan critically wounded.

Seconds after Todd arrived on the scene, he said he saw a calm-looking Hasan, his gun drawn and his fingers pointing at people outside the Soldier Readiness Processing Center. Todd said he then saw Hasan shooting at soldiers as they attempted to flee.

"He was firing at people as they were trying to run and hide," Todd told The Associated Press Saturday.

That's when Todd, a retired soldier who now works as a civilian police officer at Ford Hood, said he shouted at Hasan to stop.

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NATO investigating whether an alliance airstrike mistakenly killed 4 Afghan soldiers, 3 police

KABUL (AP) _ U.S. and Afghan authorities investigated Saturday whether a botched NATO airstrike was to blame for the death of Afghan soldiers and police during a search for two American paratroopers missing in a Taliban-infested area of the country's west.

The probe into a possible friendly fire incident further aggravates already strained relations between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the international community, which holds his enfeebled government partly responsible for rising instability.

After enduring a drumbeat of criticism from world leaders in recent days, the Afghan government struck back on Saturday, saying it viewed a U.N. official's prescription for ridding the country of corruption and warlords as an infringement on its national sovereignty.

The airstrike occurred Friday during heavy fighting in Badghis province, a remote area that borders Turkmenistan. Two days earlier, two American paratroopers disappeared there while trying to recover airdropped supplies that had fallen into a river. Fighting broke out between members of a search team and Taliban insurgents, the U.S. military said.

Eight Afghans _ four soldiers, three policemen and an interpreter _ were killed. Seventeen Afghan troops, including soldiers and police, five American soldiers and another Afghan interpreter were wounded, the U.S. said.

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Hunting at home: Alleged Ohio serial killer, with bodies in house, rare among mass killers

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Authorities say Anthony Sowell lured women into his home in a busy neighborhood, killed them _ most by strangulation _ and scattered their remains throughout the inside and buried some in the backyard.

Such brazenness defies logic, but experts identify a narrow subcategory of serial killers, including the 1893 Chicago Fair killer, Dr. H.H. Holmes, and Milwaukee cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, who hunt from home.

"These types are so rare that you can't make a summary estimation as to why or what went wrong or anything," said Robert Keppel, a national serial-killer expert who investigated serial killer Ted Bundy in Washington state in the 1970s.

"There's just not a whole lot of these folks running around the world," he said.

Sowell had the perfect lair.

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Navy's newest assault ship, built with World Trade Center steel, is commissioned in NYC

The USS New York, built with steel from the rubble of the World Trade Center, was put into Navy service Saturday both as a symbol of healing and strength.

"No matter how many times you attack us, we always come back," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said at the amphibious assault ship's commissioning. "America always comes back. That's what this ship represents."

He spoke on a Manhattan pier where hundreds of Navy officers and sailors joined first responders and families of Sept. 11 victims.

"I hereby place the USS New York in commission," Mabus announced.

And with a long drum roll, the ship's crew was set on the first watch, obeying the order, as traditionally worded: "Man our ship and bring her to life!"

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In Monday case, Supreme Court weighs whether life in prison for juveniles is cruel and unusual

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Joe Sullivan was sent away for life for raping an elderly woman and judged incorrigible though he was only 13 at the time of the attack.

Terrance Graham, implicated in armed robberies when he was 16 and 17, was given a life sentence by a judge who told the teenager he threw his life away.

They didn't kill anyone, but they effectively were sentenced to die in prison.

Life sentences with no chance of parole are rare and harsh for juveniles tried as adults and convicted of crimes less serious than killing. Just over 100 prison inmates in the United States are serving those terms, according to data compiled by opponents of the sentences.

Now the Supreme Court is being asked to say that locking up juveniles and throwing away the key is cruel and unusual _ and thus, unconstitutional. Other than in death penalty cases, the justices never before have found that a penalty crossed the cruel-and-unusual line. They will hear arguments Monday.

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Unemployment tops 10 percent again _ and it's tougher off the job than a generation ago

WASHINGTON (AP) _ It hurts more to be unemployed now than the last time the jobless rate hit 10 percent.

Americans have more than triple the debt they had in 1982, and less than half the savings. They spend 10 weeks longer off the job. And a bigger share of them have no health insurance, leaving them one medical emergency away from financial ruin.

For these reasons, the unemployed are more vulnerable today to foreclosure and bankruptcy than they were a generation ago.

Donald Schenk knows. He's been without work both times. It's worse now, he says.

Back in the early 1980s, when Schenk lost his job at a phone company, he was able to find several temporary jobs _ including one testing pinball machines _ to make ends meet until he landed full-time work nearly two years later.

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Police informant says Las Vegas 19-year-old was 'driving force' behind celebrity burglary case

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ A 19-year-old woman was the driving force behind a youthful burglary ring that preyed on Hollywood's rich and famous, often brazenly walking into unlocked homes to make off with cash, jewels and family heirlooms, authorities said.

A suspect turned informant, Nicholas Prugo, told Los Angeles police detectives that Rachel Jungeon Lee spearheaded the break-ins, motivated by a desire to own the designer clothes and jewelry of such celebrities as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, according to a Las Vegas police search warrant obtained by The Associated Press on Friday.

Prugo, 18, told police Lee would suggest a target, then Prugo would trawl the Internet for information about where they lived and when they would be away from home. Las Vegas police were involved because Lee lives there.

Officials said Lee was booked on a charge of possession of stolen property and released after posting $3,000 bail. Prosecutors in Los Angeles asked police to investigate her further.

Police say the Lee and Prugo were part of a group of at least six that stole from October 2008 until September.

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Northwestern knocks QB Ricky Stanzi from game, hands No. 8 Hawkeyes their first loss, 17-10

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) _ No. 8 Iowa finally ran out of time.

Dan Persa threw a touchdown pass and Marshall Thomas recovered a fumble for another score, and Northwestern snapped the Hawkeyes' 13-game winning streak with a 17-10 victory Saturday.

It was the first win over a top-10 opponent for the Wildcats (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) since knocking off then-No. 6 Ohio State 33-27 in overtime in 2004. It also ended the nation's second-longest winning streak.

Iowa played without starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi after he sustained an apparent ankle injury early in the second quarter. Freshman James Vandenberg was just 9 of 27 for 82 yards and couldn't lead the Hawkeyes (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) to any points after Stanzi left the game.

Northwestern scored twice off turnovers in the second quarter. Thomas recovered a fumble in the end zone after the hit that knocked Stanzi out of the game, and Drake Dunsmore caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Persa after another Iowa miscue.