Consumer experience of health law to vary as states resist, build insurance markets
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- With new online health insurance exchanges set to launch Tuesday, consumers in many Southern and Plains states will have to look harder for information on how the marketplaces work than their counterparts elsewhere.
In Republican-led states that oppose the federal Affordable Care Act, the strategy has ranged from largely ignoring the health overhaul to encouraging residents not to sign up and even making it harder for nonprofit organizations to provide information about the exchanges.
Health care experts worry that ultimately consumers in these states could end up confused about the exchanges, and the overall rollout of the law could be hindered.
"Without the shared planning and the cooperation of the state government, it’s much harder for them to be ready to implement this complicated law," said Rachel Grob of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has studied differences in how states are implementing segments of the law.
Several of the 14 Northeast, Midwest and Western states running their own insurance exchanges have spent weeks on marketing and advertising campaigns to help residents get ready to buy health insurance. At least $684 million will be spent on publicity explaining what people need to do next and persuading the doubtful to sign up for coverage, according to data compiled The Associated Press.
Iran’s foreign minister: Nuclear facility inspections possible to open negotiations
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Iran would open its nuclear facilities to international inspectors as part of broad negotiations with the United States that could eventually restore diplomatic relations between the adversaries and those talks have the backing of the nation’s supreme leader, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday.
Zarif also said the United States and its allies must end their crippling economic sanctions as part of any deal. The Western-educated Zarif again repeated Tehran’s position that it has no desire for nuclear weapons but has the right to continue a peaceful nuclear program.
"Negotiations are on the table to discuss various aspects of Iran’s enrichment program. Our right to enrich is nonnegotiable," Zarif said during an English-language interview that comes amid a significant shift in U.S.-Iranian relations.
At the same time, Zarif’s deputy tried to calm hard-liners’ fears at home. "We never trust America 100 percent," Abbas Araghchi was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars News Agency, which has close ties to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard.
And Obama’s national security adviser expressed similar skepticism given decades of an anti-American record.
Israel’s Netanyahu heads for the U.S.
with a warning: Don’t be fooled by Iran
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Mortified that the world may be warming up to Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking an unpopular message to the White House and the United Nations this week: Don’t be fooled by Tehran’s new leadership.
Netanyahu contends Iran is using conciliatory gestures as a smoke screen to conceal an unabated march toward a nuclear bomb.
He will deliver those strong words of caution -- and fresh intelligence -- in an attempt to persuade the U.S. to maintain tough economic sanctions and not allow the Islamic republic to develop a bomb or even move closer to becoming a nuclear threshold state.
With the White House cautiously optimistic about its dialogue with Iran, Monday’s meeting between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama could be tense.
"I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the onslaught of smiles," Netanyahu said before boarding his flight to the U.S. on Sunday.
Suspected Islamic extremists kill at least 44 students in attack on Nigerian college
POTISKUM, Nigeria (AP) -- Suspected Islamic extremists attacked an agricultural college in the dead of night, gunning down dozens of students as they slept in dormitories and torching classrooms, the school’s provost said -- the latest violence in northeastern Nigeria’s ongoing Islamic uprising.
The attack, blamed on the Boko Haram extremist group, came despite a 4 1/2-month-old state of emergency covering three states and one-sixth of the country. It and other recent violence have led many to doubt assurances from the government and the military that they are winning Nigeria’s war on the extremists.
Provost Molima Idi Mato of Yobe State College of Agriculture told The Associated Press that there were no security forces protecting the college. Two weeks ago, the state commissioner for education had begged schools and colleges to reopen and promised they would be guarded by soldiers and police.
Idi Mato said as many as 50 students may have been killed in the assault that began at about 1 a.m. Sunday in rural Gujba. "They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels. They opened fire at them," he said, adding that most victims were aged between 18 and 22.
Soldiers recovered 42 bodies and transported 18 wounded students to Damaturu Specialist Hospital, 25 miles north, said a military intelligence official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Inspectors explain how they plan to halt Syria’s ability to make chemical weapons
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- Inspectors who will oversee Syria’s destruction of its chemical weapons said Sunday their first priority is to help the country scrap its ability to manufacture such arms by a Nov. 1 deadline -- using every means possible.
The chemical weapons inspectors said that may include smashing mixing equipment with sledgehammers, blowing up delivery missiles, driving tanks over empty shells or filling them with concrete, and running machines without lubricant so they seize up and become inoperable.
On Friday, the U.N. Security Council ordered the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons by mid-2014.
On Sunday, inspectors met with media in The Hague to explain their current plan of action, which is to include an initial group of 20 leaving for Syria on Monday.
The organization allowed two inspectors to speak on condition of anonymity out of concern for their safety amid Syria’s civil war; both are veteran members of the OPCW. Spokesman Michael Luhan said the men "are going to be deeply involved in Syria."
Nairobi morgue’s last victim of mall attack is ID’d; a nation’s grief is one mother’s tragedy
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Karen Wambui walked slowly through the Nairobi city morgue’s turquoise and yellow iron gates, still trying to process what she had seen inside.
She had just confirmed that the last body still there from the Westgate Mall attack nearly a week earlier was that of her son, Calan Munyaka.
The 27-year-old was one of 37 victims of the al-Shabab terrorist assault whose bodies were brought to the single-story main morgue building in the Kenyan capital, where a crucifix is nailed above the wooden entrance doors and the smell of the dead drifts out the open windows. Other bodies were taken to city hospitals and elsewhere.
For nearly a week, Munyaka lay in the morgue, identified only as "Kenyan male, adult."
On Friday afternoon, the pathologists pulled Munyaka’s corpse from a refrigerated chamber and showed Wambui.
Thousands hold protest in Sudan, as government promises cash to contain public discontent
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) -- Thousands of Sudanese protesters took to the streets of the capital Khartoum late Sunday, chanting "freedom" and renewing calls for their longtime autocratic president to resign after dozens of protesters were killed in a week of demonstrations sparked by austerity measures.
The government, which has imposed a media blackout, moved to appease the rancor with cash, saying it would distribute cash to half a million families to offset higher fuel and food prices in a country where nearly half the population lives below the poverty line.
The street demonstrations, which began after subsides were lifted last week, have been the most widespread in Sudan since Omar al-Bashir seized power 24 years ago.
Waving pictures of slain protesters, thousands held a Sunday-night memorial for Salah al-Sanhouri, a demonstrator shot Friday during an earlier protest in Burri, an old Khartoum district.
Women called for the "downfall of the regime" and chanted "freedom, peace and justice, revolution is the choice of people."
New commercial supply ship reaches space station after week’s delay, delivers lots of food
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA’s newest delivery service made its first-ever shipment to the International Space Station on Sunday, another triumph for the booming commercial space arena that has its sights set on launching astronauts.
Orbital Sciences Corp.’s unmanned cargo ship, the Cygnus, pulled up at the orbiting lab with a half-ton of meals and special treats for the station astronauts who assisted in the high-flying feat.
With the smooth linkup, Orbital Sciences of Virginia became only the second company to accomplish such a far-flung shipment. The California-based SpaceX company took the lead last year.
NASA officials along with White House representatives declared it a historic day.
"It was just a very, very impressive job ... I just couldn’t be happier and more proud," said the NASA manager overseeing this commercial effort, Alan Lindenmoyer.