Colorado floodwaters cascade downstream as more rain falls on water-logged mountain towns
LYONS, Colo. (AP) -- Coffee-colored floodwaters cascaded downstream from the Colorado Rockies on Friday, transforming normally scenic rivers and creeks into fast, unforgiving torrents and forcing thousands more evacuations from water-logged communities beset by days of steady rain.
The relentless rush of water turned whole towns into muddy swamps and brought most transportation to a standstill. Damage assessments were on hold as authorities tried to rescue more than 2,500 people stranded in an emergency that stretched from Colorado Springs all the way to the Wyoming border.
A break in the weather aided crews as they ferried a dozen residents at a time out of Lyons and other mountain towns that had been cut off by high water. The Colorado National Guard tweeted that it helped evacuate nearly 300 people from Lyons and on Friday added helicopter flights to the search-and-rescue efforts, spokeswoman Cheresa Theiral said.
Many roads remained impassable, and still more rain was expected later in the day.
The overflowing St. Vrain River sliced the town of Longmont in half. All major roads were closed, and several thousand homes and businesses were without power.
Water, then fire:
2 Jersey shore towns face another rebuilding less
than a year after Sandy
SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (AP) -- They were the kind of places that made for family memories of french fries and ice cream, but also created some raucous reality TV, like the time Snooki was laid out by a barroom sucker punch.
They included an arcade where New Jersey’s governor played Skee Ball with his wife and kids, and a shop where he ate pizza (at least before his recent weight-loss surgery). There were three frozen custard shacks, games of chance, and stores where tourists could buy naughty T-shirts.
And now they’re gone, reduced to smoldering ruins by a spectacular fire that engulfed more than four blocks of a Jersey shore boardwalk that had been rebuilt just five months ago after being destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
"We’re wiped out again. It’s just unimaginable," said Daniel Shauger, manager of Funtown Arcade, which reopened June 1 -- and struggled all summer -- after Sandy’s floodwaters ruined game machines and other equipment.
The cause of Thursday’s blaze was under investigation, though prosecutors said they had seen no evidence it was suspicious.
Taliban attack U.S. Consulate in western Afghanistan, killing at least 4 Afghans; Americans safe
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban attacked a U.S. Consulate in western Afghanistan with car bombs and guns on Friday, killing at least four Afghans but failing to enter the compound or hurt any Americans.
The attack in the city of Herat underscored concerns about an insurgency that shows no signs of letting up as U.S.-led troops reduce their presence ahead of a full withdrawal next year.
Within hours of the assault, the U.S. temporarily evacuated many of its consular personnel to the embassy in Kabul, 400 miles to the east.
Herat lies near Afghanistan’s border with Iran and is considered one of the safer cities in the country, with a strong Iranian influence. Friday’s attack highlighted the Taliban’s reach: The militants once concentrated their activities in the east and the south, but in recent years have demonstrated an ability to strike with more frequency in the once-peaceful north and west.
In a phone call, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi took responsibility for the assault.
Largely unseen, Syrian president’s younger
brother Maher Assad key
to regime’s survival
BEIRUT (AP) -- He is rarely photographed or even quoted in Syria’s media. Wrapped in that blanket of secrecy, President Bashar Assad’s younger brother has been vital to the family’s survival in power.
Maher Assad commands the elite troops that protect the Syrian capital from rebels on its outskirts and is widely believed to have helped orchestrate the regime’s fierce campaign to put down the uprising, now well into its third year. He has also gained a reputation for brutality among opposition activists.
His role underlines the family core of the Assad regime, though he is a stark contrast to his brothers. His eldest brother, Basil, was the family prince, publicly groomed by their father, Hafez, to succeed him as president -- until Basil died in a 1994 car crash. That vaulted Bashar, then an eye doctor in London with no military or political experience, into the role of heir, rising to the presidency after his father’s death in 2000. The two brothers -- the "martyr" and the president -- often appear together in posters.
The 45-year-old Maher Assad, however, has resolutely stayed out of the limelight. Friends, military colleagues and even his enemies describe him as a strict military man to the core.
The 15,000 soldiers in the 4th Armored Division that he leads are largely members of the Assad family’s minority Alawite sect -- who see the civil war as a battle for their very survival -- and represent the best paid, armed and trained units of the Syrian military. In the past year, his troops have launched repeated offensives against rebels firmly entrenched on Damascus’ outskirts, bombarding and raiding the impoverished suburbs they hold.
Some employers see
perks of hiring older applicants; cite experience, dedication, enthusiasm
Older people searching for jobs have long fought back stereotypes that they lack the speed, technology skills and dynamism of younger applicants. But as a wave of baby boomers seeks to stay on the job later in life, some employers are finding older workers are precisely what they need.
"There’s no experience like experience," said David Mintz, CEO of dairy-free products maker Tofutti, where about one-third of the workers are over 50. "I can’t put an ad saying, ‘Older people wanted,’ but there’s no comparison."
Surveys consistently show older people believe they experience age discrimination on the job market, and although unemployment is lower among older workers, long-term unemployment is far higher. As the American population and its labor force reshape, though, with a larger chunk of older workers, some employers are slowly recognizing their skill and experience.
About 200 employers, from Google to AT&T to MetLife, have signed an AARP pledge recognizing the value of experienced workers and vowing to consider applicants 50 and older.
One of them, New York-based KPMG, has found success with a high proportion of older workers, who bring experience that the company says adds credibility. The auditing, tax and advisory firm says older workers also tend to be more dedicated to staying with the company, a plus for clients who like to build a relationship with a consultant they can count on to be around for years.
United Airlines says people will get to travel on the $0 tickets it sold by mistake
United Airlines said on Friday that it will honor the tickets it accidentally gave away for free.
The decision is good news for people who snapped up the tickets on Thursday after United listed airfares at $0. Many customers got tickets for $5 or $10, paying only the cost of the Sept. 11 security fee.
The mistake was an especially good deal for any passengers who bought tickets for travel within the next week. For instance, a Houston-to-Washington Dulles flight for next weekend would have cost $877, according to United’s website on Friday.
Airlines have posted so-called mistake fares before. They generally decide on a case-by-case basis whether they’ll honor the ticket. On Friday, United Continental Holdings Inc. said it was honoring the tickets "based on these specific circumstances." On Thursday, United said there was an error in filing the fares to its computer system.
United would not say how many tickets it accidentally gave away, or how much the mistake cost. The wrong fares were available on its website for a few hours on Thursday. It eventually shut down bookings on the website until it could fix the problem.
Police move in on striking teachers in historic heart of Mexico City, firing tear gas
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Thousands of striking teachers briefly seized control of the historic heart of Mexico City on Friday, blockading the Zocalo plaza armed with metal pipes and wooden clubs. Minutes after a late-afternoon government deadline, riot police started pushing into the area, firing tear gas and ducking hurled rocks in a confrontation culminating weeks of protests against an education reform.
The teachers used steel grates and plastic traffic dividers to block the streets leading into the Zocalo, home to the Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor and National Palace, some of the city’s best-known tourist attractions. Hundreds of Mexico City and federal riot police massed on the other sides of the barriers, then swarmed into the square past the famed Aztec temple, chasing down and arresting protesters.
Mexico’s government had promised that Independence Day celebrations, including the traditional presidential shout of independence from a balcony overlooking the square, would take place in Zocalo Sunday and Monday.
The president’s office pointedly released an official schedule in the middle of the protests, noting that the independence "shout" would take place at the National Palace at its usual time Sunday night. Manuel Mondragon, the head of the federal police, warned on national television that police would move in at 4 p.m. local time. The teachers, many veterans of battles with police in the poor southern states where they live, promised not to move from the square where they have camped out for weeks, launching a string of disruptive marches around the city.
Shortly after the deadline, the police swarmed in, shooting tear gas from specially equipped fire extinguishers and tossed flash grenades. Protesters hurled sticks and chunks of pavement broken from the street.