Thursday, July 28, 2011

nation/world stories under consideration at The Oakland Press

MICHIGAN-AFFIRMATIVE ACTION — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he’ll meet a Friday deadline to ask an entire appeals court to uphold the state’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions and government hiring. Schuette said Thursday that a recent 2-1 decision that struck down the law was “nutty.” He says there’s nothing illegal about a law that prohibits discrimination.
LAKE CRASH SURVIVOR — A New York pilot who crashed into Lake Huron while flying to Wisconsin and survived without a life jacket by swimming and treading water for 17 hours is to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon at a Michigan hospital where he is recuperating from his long exposure.
AP Photos.
Eds: Press conference scheduled for 1 p.m.
ADRIAN — A southern Michigan man has pleaded no contest to three counts of unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of his three young sons. John Skelton appeared Thursday in Lenawee County Circuit Court in Adrian. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 15. Skelton’s attorney says his client could receive up to 15 years in prison. Kidnapping and parental kidnapping charges were dropped.AP Photo.

— LAKE CRASH SURVIVOR — A New York pilot who crashed into Lake Huron and survived, treading water 17 hours, talks about his ordeal at 1 p.m. news conference.
— DEBT SHOWDOWN — House vote expected late afternoon.
DEBT SHOWDOWN — The Republican-controlled House struggles toward a showdown vote on legislation to avert a threatened government default. If it passes, the measure will be immediately taken up in the Senate, where Democratic leaders say it can’t win. Still, differences appear to have narrowed between the GOP and Democratic plans, raising hope a compromise can be reached by Tuesday’s deadline. AP photos, video, interactive.
— DEBT SHOWDOWN-HIGHLIGHTS — Differences and similarities between the competing plans by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
— DEBT SHOWDOWN-DAILY SUMMARY — Brief explanation of debt standoff and latest developments.
DEBT SHOWDOWN-ECONOMY — No matter how the debt crisis ends, it will probably be bad news for the economy. Failure to raise the federal borrowing limit could cause a default, pushing interest rates higher and maybe tipping the United States back into a recession. And even if there’s a deal, it will probably include spending cuts that could weaken the economy. “Pick your poison,” one economist says. AP photos.
EAST AFRICA-FAMINE — African Union troops launch an anti-militant offensive to ensure that aid groups can deliver food after intelligence reports show that 300 insurgents have moved into Mogadishu, raising fears that al-Shabab could try to attack the squalid camps filled with famine refugees. At least six people die and 39 are wounded, including 19 peacekeepers. By Jason Straziuso.
AP photos by Schalk van Zuydam and Farah Abdi Warsameh. AP video.
NORWAY-MASSACRE — Norway casts it as the isolated act of a lone wolf attacker whose boasts of a far-flung network are the fantasies of a sick mind. European officials at an emergency counterterror meeting see a continent-wide threat from right wing extremists amid mounting Islamophobia and warn of possible copycats. Two visions of the Norway atrocity emerge as Europe gropes for answers. At stake is the continent’s political and security response to the massacre. AP photos, video.
AGING AMERICA-BOOMER POLL-FINANCES — The “golden years” may lose some luster for baby boomers fretting about money. Many of the nation’s 77 million boomers are worried about being able to pay their medical bills as they get older — a concern so deep it outpaces worries about facing a major illness or dying, an poll finds. AP graphic.
KILLEEN, Texas — Authorities say an AWOL Muslim soldier is arrested and bomb-making materials are found in a motel room near Fort Hood, Texas — the same Army post where 13 people were killed during a shooting spree in 2009. Pfc. Naser Abdo, who was granted conscientious objector status before being charged with possessing child pornography at Fort Campbell, Ky., will face federal charges after a local gun dealer alerted police. AP photos.
AP ENTERPRISE: WOUNDED WARRIOR — For the past four years, Luis Carlos Montalvan has been advocating for injured Iraq war veterans. Since serving two tours of duty, for which he received two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart, the former Army captain has become a strong critic of the war and a promoter of better care of those who served. But his popular book “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrier and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him” is being called into question by several men who served with him. And documents obtained by The Associated Press contradict Montlavan’s claims about the extent and severity of his injuries. AP photos.
DEBT SHOWDOWN- WIRELESS AUCTION —The debt ceiling battle could produce an unlikely winner: smartphone users. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan would give the Federal Communications Commission authority to auction off highly valuable radio spectrum. The proposal would be a win for the nation’s big wireless carriers, which are struggling to keep up with the exploding use of smartphones and other devices on their networks. Reid’s proposal would raise more than $13 billion for deficit reduction. By Joelle Tessler.
US-IRAN-AL-QAIDA — The Obama administration accuses Iran of entering into a secret deal with an al-Qaida offshoot that provides money and recruits for attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Treasury Department designates six members of the al-Qaida unit as terrorists subject to U.S. sanctions.
EGYPT-MUBARAK — Hosni Mubarak goes on trial next week in a Cairo convention center outfitted with a medical facility and a metal defendants’ cage large enough to hold the man who ruled Egypt unchallenged for three decades, his two sons and eight associates. The trial is a key demand of activists who led the uprising that toppled his regime. AP photos.
PAKISTAN-FLOODS-TWO VILLAGES — Two villages, both devastated by Pakistan’s floods a year ago, now are vastly different. In one, sewage runs in the streets and some residents still get by in tents. In the other, villagers are moving into new houses that are better than those they lost. Recovery in Pakistan is patchy, and success can depend on access to the rich and powerful.
AP photos. AP video.
KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban were firing when Afghan policeman Jan Agha, already wounded in the hand by a bullet, heard the whoosh of an incoming rocket. Shrapnel sprayed his legs, but he lived to tell the story. Many comrades do not — Afghan policemen suffer more deaths than Afghan soldiers or U.S.-led coalition forces. And the toll on the 130,600-member force is likely to rise as it takes over from foreign troops. By Deb Riechmann and Ahmad Seir.
AP photos by Musadeq Sadeq.
— AFGHANISTAN — Three suicide bombers strike a government compound in southern Afghanistan, the opening salvo of an hours-long gunbattle that leaves at least 19 people dead.
MINNEAPOLIS — Two Americans held in Iran for nearly two years on espionage charges face what may be the final hearing in their case this weekend in Tehran. In the U.S., the families of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal say they are counting on the men being released but acknowledge they’ve been disappointed before. By Steve Karnowski.
AP photos. AP video will move Friday morning.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Hiking the nearly 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail is tough enough. Now hikers trekking from Georgia to Maine say the trip will be even tougher if the U.S. Postal Service proceeds with a plan to close post offices along the route that they use to pick up supplies like food, gear and cold-weather packs. By Renee Elder and Clarke Canfield.
AP photos.
JUNEAU, Alaska — A federal wildlife biologist whose observation that polar bears had drowned in the Arctic galvanized the global warming movement is now on leave, as officials investigate “integrity issues.” A watchdog group representing Charles Monnett says he is being persecuted and that the probe focuses on the scientific article he wrote about the bears. Whatever the outcome of the investigation, it is likely to fuel the ongoing fight between climate change activists and skeptics. By Becky Bohrer.
AP photos.
Strokes have spiked among pregnant women and new mothers, who are probably paying the price for rising rates of high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity, researchers report. By Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione.
— NJ GOVERNOR — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who suffers from asthma, is taken to a hospital for tests after having difficulty breathing, but spokeswoman says the brash politican is “fine and in charge.” AP photos, video.
— AVIATION SHUTDOWN — The shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration is producing big economic gains and little pain for the airlines, while thousands of federal employees and tens of thousands of other workers suffer layoffs.
— TROPICAL WEATHER — Tropical Storm Don moving across the Gulf of Mexico toward southeastern Texas
— POLYGAMIST LEADER — Warren Jeffs dismisses his legal team at the start of his sexual assault trial and tells the court he wants to represent himself.
— STRAUSS-KAHN-ASSAULT — The hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault personally thanks her New York supporters. AP photos.
— BRITAIN-PHONE HACKING — Charity says the mother of a murdered girl was targeted by a detective who worked for the News of the World.
— SKOREA-LANDSLIDE — Rescuers dig through mud in hopes of finding survivors of deadly landslides and flooding, and South Korea’s military warns that land mines may be buried in the muck.


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