AP News in Brief

AP News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2010 6:18 PM
AP News in Brief

Bank of America plans to resume 100K foreclosures in 23 states, suggesting thaw in freeze

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The pace of U.S. home foreclosures may not slow much after all.

Bank of America said Monday that it plans to resume seizing more than 100,000 homes in 23 states next week. It said it has a legal right to foreclose despite accusations that documents used in the process were flawed.

It's not yet clear if other major leaders will follow suit and resume foreclosures in the states that require a judge's approval. But the move by the nation's biggest bank could give way to an industry-wide effort to push ahead with a wave of foreclosures that have depressed the housing market.

Bank of America Corp. says it's confident of its foreclosure decisions in a majority of its questionable cases. The bank is still delaying foreclosures in the 27 other states, which don't require a judge's approval.

Its move comes two weeks after the bank began halting foreclosures nationwide amid allegations that bank employees signed but didn't read documents that may have contained errors.

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Obama raising money for Senate candidates as Democrats struggle ahead of election

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama is asking big donors to help embattled congressional Democrats prepare for a final two-week push to Election Day.

The president is to raise money for the Senate Democratic campaign committee Monday night at a private event in Rockville, Md., a Washington suburb. Guests were paying the maximum of $30,400 a ticket to listen to him speak at a reception at the home of Rajeev and Seema Sharma.

Obama has been campaigning and fundraising around the country as he works to limit Democratic losses on Nov. 2 that could cost his party control of the House and maybe even the Senate. Later this week he heads West for a four-day campaign swing that includes stops in Seattle, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

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4 men are convicted in plot to blow up New York City synagogues, shoot down planes

NEW YORK (AP) _ Four men snared last year in an FBI sting were convicted Monday of plotting to blow up New York City synagogues and shoot down military planes with the help of a paid informant who convinced them he was a terror operative.

The sting never put New Yorkers at risk. But the defendants "thought this was real _ real bombs, real missiles _ every step of the way," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin said during closing arguments.

A jury in federal court in Manhattan deliberated eight days before finding alleged mastermind James Cromitie and three co-defendants guilty of charges including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles to kill U.S. officers and employees.

Cromitie and David Williams were convicted of all eight counts, while Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen were convicted of seven of eight counts. Sentencing was set for March 24, when the defendants could face up to life in prison.

Afterward, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement called homegrown terrorism a "serious threat" and added: "We are safer today as a result of these convictions." He said the defendants agreed to plant bombs and use missiles "they thought were very real weapons of terrorism."

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Authorities: 2 women working at West Tenn. post office shot and killed during possible robbery

HENNING, Tenn. (AP) _ Two gunmen opened fire Monday at a post office in a rural West Tennessee town that was home to "Roots" author Alex Haley, killing two workers during an attempted robbery.

The shooting happened Monday morning at the one-story, brick building in Henning, the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department said. Officers were searching for a maroon Chevrolet Malibu with two men inside, and no arrests have been made.

District Attorney Mike Dunavant said the case involved "disturbing violence" but did not elaborate.

The post office, which sits between a self-service car wash and a coin-operated laundry called "Mom's" in this town of about 1,200 people, often has residents coming in to pick up their mail. Home delivery isn't provided in Henning, some 45 miles northeast of Memphis.

Beth Barnett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service, said that five people usually work in the post office but that she was not sure how many were there at the time of the attack. Post offices are not immune to crime, but robberies at post offices are uncommon, she said.

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AP Enterprise: 6 months after oil spill, scientists rate Gulf health worse, but not fatally so

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Six months after the rig explosion that led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, damage to the Gulf of Mexico can be measured more in increments than extinctions, say scientists polled by The Associated Press.

In an informal survey, 35 researchers who study the Gulf lowered their rating of its ecological health by several points, compared to their assessment before the BP well gushed millions of gallons of oil. But the drop in grade wasn't dramatic. On a scale of 0 to 100, the overall average grade for the oiled Gulf was 65 _ down from 71 before the spill.

This reflects scientists' views that the spilled 172 million gallons of oil further eroded what was already a beleaguered body of water _ tainted for years by farm runoff from the Mississippi River, overfishing, and oil from smaller spills and natural seepage.

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EDITOR'S NOTE _ It will take time to see the full effects of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. In the second of an Associated Press occasional series, scientists grade the ecological health of the Gulf of Mexico.

By The Associated Press

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Fox, Cablevision dispute stretches into third day as negotiations fail

NEW YORK (AP) _ The dispute between Fox and Cablevision that left 3 million cable subscribers in the New York area without Fox programming over the weekend has stretched into its third day.

Fox, owned by owned by News Corp., and Cablevision Systems Corp. said talks Monday morning did not bring a new agreement on how much Cablevision will pay to carry the network.

The dispute has led to the highest-profile blackout over broadcast fees in years, leaving Cablevision subscribers without access to Sunday's New York Giants game. And with the next round of talks planned for Tuesday, fans of "House," the medical drama that's among Fox's highest-rated shows, will likely miss the latest episode Monday night.

This type of fight has become more common. Broadcasters want more money from cable and satellite providers so they don't have to rely as much on advertising, which, as the recession illustrated, can be a volatile source of income.

Cablevision and other subscription TV providers have resisted paying higher fees.

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Soldier testifies that Fort Hood gunman fired on anyone who moved; pregnant woman killed

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) _ A gunman who appeared to be trying to hit any Army personnel who moved during a deadly rampage at Fort Hood last year fatally shot a pregnant soldier who had recently returned from Iraq, a military court heard Monday.

Spc. Jonathan Sims said he had been talking to a female soldier when the first volley of gunfire rang out. She had just told him she was expecting a baby and was preparing to go home.

"The female soldier that was sitting next to me was in the fetal position. She was screaming: 'My baby! My baby!'" Sims told the Article 32 hearing to determine if Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan will stand trial in the Nov. 5 shootings _ the worst attack on an American military base.

Hasan, a 40-year-old American-born Muslim, has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

Addressing the hearing via video link from Afghanistan, Sims said he later saw nurses performing first aid on the woman, but that her eyes had rolled back and he knew she was dead.

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French strikes: Gas stations run short, airlines cancel flights, students clash with police

PARIS (AP) _ Airlines flying into France were ordered to slash schedules _ and to bring enough fuel for the trip out. Gas stations ran short or dry, while truckers jammed highway traffic Monday by driving at a snail's pace, a tactic known in French as "operation escargot."

Strikes over the government's plans to raise the retirement age to 62 from 60 disrupted daily life and a wide swath of industry _ from oil refining to travel to shipping _ as protesters fought a proposal they say tampers with the near-sacred French social contract.

Teens, who usually don't worry about old age, joined in the protests, with at least 261 high schools blocked or disrupted Monday. Some turned violent and 290 youths were arrested, the Interior Ministry said. Students set cars and tires on fire, toppled a telephone booth and hurled debris at police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, as well as in Lyon and elsewhere. At least five police officers were injured.

Street demonstrations were planned in more than 200 cities across France on Tuesday _ the sixth nationwide day of protest marches since early September. Tuesday was also expected to bring more severe disruptions to air travel, trains, schools and beyond.

Many in France consider retiring at 60 a pillar of France's hard-won social contract _ and fear this is just the first step in eroding their often-envied quality of life. Critics say President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to adopt an "American-style capitalist" system and claim the government could find pension savings elsewhere, such as by raising contributions from employers.

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Newspaper report: Facebook apps transmitted personal information to tracking companies

NEW YORK (AP) _ The latest Facebook privacy fiasco shows that the world's largest online social hub is having a hard time putting this thorny issue behind it even as it continues to attract users and become indispensible to many of them.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that several popular Facebook applications have been transmitting users' personal identifying information to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies. Facebook said it is working to fix the problem, and was quick to point out that the leaks were not intentional, but a consequence of basic Web mechanisms.

"In most cases, developers did not intend to pass this information, but did so because of the technical details of how browsers work," said Mike Vernal, a Facebook engineer, in a blog post Monday.

In a statement, Facebook said there is "no evidence that any personal information was misused or even collected as a result of this issue."

Even so, some privacy advocates said it's problematic that the information was leaked at all, regardless of what happened to it. Facebook needs its users to trust it with their data because if they don't, they won't use the site to share as much as they do now.

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Cliff Lee vs. Andy Pettitte in Game 3 of ALCS: The postseason ace and the ol' October pro

NEW YORK (AP) _ Cliff Lee's left arm has been the most dominant force in baseball during the past two postseasons. Now, all that October success has earned him another matchup with the New York Yankees.

"They're basically an All-Star team. From top to bottom, they have threats everywhere," Lee said. "I'm not going to get intimidated."

With the best-of-seven AL championship series tied at one apiece, the scene shifts to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 on Monday night, when a pair of pressure-proven pitchers will be back in the spotlight.

Lee is a spectacular 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA and three complete games in seven postseason starts the last two years. He gets the ball for the Texas Rangers against Andy Pettitte, who has an outstanding October resume of his own. The longtime Yankees lefty is going for his 20th postseason win.

"Obviously, it's a great matchup," New York manager Joe Girardi said Sunday, when the Yankees and Rangers worked out under blue skies in the Bronx. "Before we played Game 1, all the talk was about Game 3."