Wildfire closing in on San Francisco Bay area’s chief water source; utility reassures public
TUOLUMNE CITY, Calif. (AP) -- A raging wildfire in Yosemite National Park rained ash on the reservoir that is the chief source of San Francisco’s famously pure drinking water, and utility officials Monday scrambled to send more water toward the metropolitan area before it becomes tainted.
Nearly 3,700 firefighters battled the approximately 230-square-mile blaze, the biggest wildfire on record in California’s Sierra Nevada. They reported modest progress, saying the fire was 15 percent contained.
Utility officials monitored the clarity of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and used a massive new $4.6 billion gravity-operated pipeline system to move water quickly to reservoirs closer to the big city. The Hetch Hetchy supplies water to 2.6 million people in the San Francisco Bay area, 150 miles away.
"We’re taking advantage that the water we’re receiving is still of good quality," said Harlan Kelly Jr., general manager of the city’s Public Utilities Commission. "We’re bringing down as much water as possible and replenishing all of the local reservoirs."
At the same time, utility officials gave assurances that they have a six-month supply of water in reservoirs near the Bay area.
Paralyzed soldiers, sobbing widows testify as jury weighs death sentence for Fort Hood gunman
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- A soldier left for dead after being shot in the head. A widow whose two sons won’t have their father to take them fishing or teach them how to be gentlemen. A grieving father who includes himself and his unborn grandson in the death toll of the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood.
Survivors of the attack and relatives of those killed testified Monday during the final phase of Maj. Nidal Hasan’s trial. Prosecutors hope the emotional testimony -- from sobbing widows, distraught parents and paralyzed soldiers -- helps convince jurors to impose a rare military death sentence on Hasan, who was convicted last week of killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others at the Texas military base.
The sentencing phase also will be Hasan’s last chance to tell jurors what he’s spent the last four years telling the military, judges and journalists: that the killing of unarmed American soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary to protect Muslim insurgents. But whether he plans to address jurors remains unclear.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Ziegler was among the first to testify, telling jurors how he was shot four times and underwent emergency surgery that removed about 20 percent of his brain. Doctors initially expected him to die or remain in a vegetative state.
Ziegler was hospitalized for about 11 months and had 10 surgeries. He is now paralyzed on his left side, unable to use his left hand, and blind spots in both eyes prevent him from driving.
Guards help escort Chicago kids across gang boundaries to new schools
CHICAGO (AP) -- Thousands of Chicago children whose schools were shuttered last spring walked to new ones on the first day of school Monday under the watchful eye of police officers and newly hired safety guards there to provide protection as the kids crossed unfamiliar streets -- many of them gang boundaries.
No incidents of trouble were reported, police said. While that didn’t surprise parents and grandparents, they said they were still concerned that the city’s obvious show of first-day force won’t keep their children safe in the weeks and months to come.
"I think it’s just show-and-tell right now," said Annie Stovall, who walked her granddaughter, 9-year-old Kayla Porter, to Gresham Elementary School, which is about five blocks farther from home than Kayla’s previous South Side school. "Five, six weeks down the road, let’s see what’s going to happen."
Kathy Miller stood in front of Gresham Elementary with her three children, waiting for a bus that would take them to another school. She scoffed at the Safe Passage program, in which guards clad in neon vests line Chicago streets, saying it won’t be long before brightly colored signs announcing the program’s routes will be riddled with bullets.
"Those signs don’t mean nothing," she said.
Bowing to pressure, Egypt’s former militant groups seek truce with the military
CAIRO (AP) -- Two former militant groups offered to call off street protests if the government agrees to ease its pressure on Islamists, a move that underscores how a onetime strong Islamist movement is now bowing to an unprecedented crackdown by security authorities.
The proposal comes after the military rounded up hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and other Islamists in the wake of the country’s worst bout of violence, which followed the Aug. 14 clearing of two sprawling sit-in camps housing protesters calling for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader.
Trial opened for the Brotherhood’s supreme leader Mohammed Badie and two other senior officials on Sunday on charges of inciting the murder of anti-Morsi protesters on June 30, the anniversary of his inauguration when millions took to the street to call on him to step down. The first day of their trial coincided with the retrial of ex-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2011, over similar charges.
Critics say the truce proposal reflects cracks within the Islamist alliance led by the Brotherhood, with much of its leadership either imprisoned or on the run.
"They want to lift pressure on their groups and jump off the Muslim Brotherhood boat that is sinking right now," said veteran journalist and analyst Makram Mohammed Ahmed. "Everyone is searching for a way out but this too late."
Obama awards Medal of Honor to Afghan war veteran, calls him ‘essence of true heroism’
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama bestowed nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, on Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter on Monday, saluting the veteran of the war in Afghanistan as "the essence of true heroism," one still engaged in a battle against the lingering emotional fallout of war.
Carter risked his life to save an injured soldier, resupply ammunition to his comrades and render first aid during intense fighting in a remote mountain outpost four years ago.
"As these soldiers and families will tell you, they’re a family forged in battle, and loss, and love," Obama said as Carter stood at his side and members of his unit watched in the White House East Room.
Then as an Army specialist, Carter sprinted from his barracks into a ferocious firefight, a day-long battle on Oct. 3, 2009, that killed eight of his fellow soldiers as they tried to defend their outpost -- at the bottom of a valley and surrounded by high mountains -- from the onslaught of a much larger force of Taliban and local fighters.
Still suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, Carter stood nearly emotionless during the ceremony, although a faint smile crossed his face near the end that turned into a broad grin as Obama hung the metal and its blue ribbon around his neck and the audience -- which included 40 members of the recipient’s family -- answered with a rousing standing ovation.
Atlantic City’s struggling casinos look to strippers to help the bottom line
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- What if, after seven years of plunging casino revenues and fleeing customers, Atlantic City’s real problem was this: People are wearing too much clothing?
Scores, the famous New York strip club, will open a satellite establishment inside the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort next month -- the first strip club inside an Atlantic City casino in the 35 years of legal gambling here.
It will be the most audacious adult offering in an Atlantic City casino, though it’s not the first: Revel has offered the Royal Jelly burlesque show since it opened, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa hosts a burlesque show every Thursday night, and dancers in bras and panties are common on gambling floors, including at the Tropicana Casino and Resort and the Showboat Casino Hotel.
"We feel this is the third leg of the Atlantic City triangle: gambling, alcohol and adult entertainment," said Bob Gans, the club’s managing partner. "It’s a natural."
Since 2006, when the first casino opened in Pennsylvania and began taking away business that had gone to New Jersey for three decades, Atlantic City has been struggling with new competition popping up all around it. Revenue has fallen from $5.2 billion that year to just over $3 billion last year, and thousands of jobs have been lost in a decline that shows no signs of ending.
Kate Gosselin sues ex-husband, says he stole hard drive and hacked phone, e-mail for book
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Former reality TV star Kate Gosselin filed a lawsuit Monday accusing her ex-husband of stealing her hard drive and hacking into her phone and computer to get material for a tell-all book.
Jon Gosselin accessed e-mail, bank accounts and other private information for a book called "Kate Gosselin: How She Fooled the World," according to the federal lawsuit.
The 2012 book was written by Jon Gosselin’s friend and business partner, tabloid writer Robert Hoffman, but pulled from the market after two days because the information had been illegally obtained, the lawsuit said.
"Jon violated a federal anti-hacking statute in order to publish salacious, scandalous and defamatory information about Kate," said her lawyer A. Jordan Rushie. "It’s damaged her reputation."
The couple starred in the TLC show "Jon & Kate plus 8," detailing life with their twins and sextuplets, before they separated in 2009 and later divorced.