Syrian opposition forces feel let down after Obama decision to seek diplomatic path
BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian opposition forces feel let down and more divided than ever because of President Barack Obama’s decision to seek a diplomatic path to disarming Damascus of its chemical weapons.
Many rebels who had held out hopes that U.S.-led strikes on President Bashar Assad’s government would help tip the scales as the two sides faced a deadly stalemate said America has indirectly given the embattled leader a second wind as a statesman negotiating with world powers.
"We’re on our own," Mohammad Joud, an opposition fighter in the war-shattered northern city of Aleppo, said via Skype. "I always knew that, but thanks to Obama’s shameful conduct, others are waking up to this reality as well."
Rebels who have been fighting for 2 1/2 years to topple Assad say the U.S. has repeatedly reneged on promises to assist their rebellion, offering only rhetoric. In June, Obama announced he would provide lethal aid to the rebels, but so far none of that assistance has gotten to the opposition and the Syrian leader’s forces have gained the advantage.
Violence continued Wednesday when government warplanes hit a field hospital in the town of al-Bab near Aleppo, killing 11 people and wounding dozens more, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group, which relies on reports from activists on the ground, said a Yemeni doctor was among those killed in the airstrike.
GOP spending plan to be delayed amid conservatives revolt
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A revolt by tea party conservatives forced House GOP leaders on Wednesday to delay a vote on a temporary spending bill required to prevent a government shutdown next month.
GOP leaders pulled the measure from the House schedule after initial vote counts showed them running into opposition from several dozen staunch conservatives who think the leadership is not fighting hard enough to block implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The conservatives are unhappy with a plan by GOP leaders to advance the measure through the House coupled with a provision to derail implementation of the new health care law but allow the Democratic Senate to send it on to the White House shorn of the "defund ‘Obamacare"’ provision so long as there is a vote on it.
The plan by top Republicans like Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia is designed to keep government agencies running through Dec. 15. Cantor’s office announced the delay.
The GOP leadership-sponsored strategy features an unusual twist: The measure would pass the House as a single bill but would be decoupled when presented to the Senate, a trick designed to permit the Democratic-led chamber to advance the must-do funding measure to the president as a "clean" bill that’s free of the assault on Obama’s signature health care law.
NSA has long-time role in computer security, creating tension with civilian coders
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than two decades ago, civilian government scientists were expressing concerns with the National Security Agency’s role in developing global communications standards.
Declassified documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that tensions involving secrecy and national security emerged in the 1990s when the government’s standards agency worked with the NSA to create code for digitally signing documents. That proposed standard was initially criticized by industry experts for being flawed.
The review comes after recent revelations that showed the NSA deliberately weakened Internet encryption in recent years as part of its effort to gather and analyze digital intelligence. The National Institute of Standards and Technology says it is reassuring the public of the safety of its data under government-approved encryption standards.
Less help for some uninsured as health care markets open in
a divided nation
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Having health insurance used to hinge on where you worked and what your medical history said. Soon that won’t matter, with open-access markets for subsidized coverage coming Oct. 1 under President Barack Obama’s overhaul.
But there’s a new wild card, something that didn’t seem so critical when Congress passed the Affordable Care Act back in 2010: where you live.
Entrenched political divisions over "Obamacare," have driven most Republican-led states to turn their backs on the biggest expansion of the social safety net in a half century. If you’re uninsured in a state that’s opposed, you may not get much help picking the right private health plan for your budget and your family’s needs.
The differences will be more glaring if you’re poor and your state rejected the law’s Medicaid expansion. Unless leaders reverse course, odds are you’ll remain uninsured. That’s because people below the poverty line do not qualify for subsidies to buy coverage in the markets.
"We are going to have a new environment where consumers may be victims of geography," said Sam Karp of the California HealthCare Foundation, a nonprofit helping states tackle practical problems of implementation.
Police: Zimmerman domestic dispute probe on hold until new evidence surfaces
LAKE MARY, Fla. (AP) -- The investigation of a domestic dispute between George Zimmerman and his estranged wife is on hold because there is no compelling evidence and neither one wants to press charges, a police spokesman said Wednesday.
That could change if new evidence surfaces or technicians are able to extract video that recorded the dispute from Shellie Zimmerman’s smashed iPad, said Officer Zach Hudson.
Law enforcement analysts are having difficulty extracting the video because the iPad is in bad shape, he said.
The dispute took place Monday, just days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers. In the papers, Zimmerman, 26, said she had separated from her husband a month after he was acquitted in the 2012 fatal shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin.
Ape version of Google Maps, Facebook; Orangutans plot trip, tell others the route
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It’s the ape equivalent of Google Maps and Facebook. The night before a big trip, Arno the orangutan plots his journey and lets others know where he is going with a long, whooping call.
What he and his orangutan buddies do in the forests of Sumatra tells scientists that advance trip planning and social networking aren’t just human traits,
A new study of 15 wild male orangutans finds that they routinely plot out their next day treks and share their plans in long calls, so females can come by or track them, and competitive males can steer clear.
The researchers closely followed the males as they traveled on 320 days during the 1990s. The results were published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One.
Typically, an orangutan would turn and face in the direction of his route and let out a whoop, sometimes for as long as four minutes. Then he’d go to sleep and 12 hours later set on the heralded path, said study author Carel van Schaik, director of the Anthropological Institute at the University of Zurich.
Colorado recall elections show risks of supporting gun restrictions in battleground states
DENVER (AP) -- Democratic voters in Colorado helped remove two state senators of their own party who voted for tighter gun control -- an ouster that was both intensely local and a national test of what can happen to lawmakers who support gun restrictions in battleground states.
The well-organized activists who sought to recall Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron got the backing of gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association. It turned out they didn’t need much assistance because voters were already so incensed by passage of the gun-control package.
Democrats, who maintain control of the Legislature, said the losses were purely symbolic. But they could be a sign of things to come in 2014, both in Colorado’s governor’s race and in scores of other political contests around the country.
After last year’s mass shootings, Colorado was the only state beyond Democratic strongholds New York, California and Connecticut to pass gun-control legislation. Gun-control measures died in Congress, as well as Minnesota, Oregon, Washington and Delaware.
Outspent by about 5-to-1, recall supporters cited a big anti-recall donation from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to make one of their main points -- that Democrats controlling the state Legislature were more interested in listening to the White House and outside interests than their own constituents.