Sharply divided but politically safe, lawmakers may let government shutdown last days or weeks
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government shutdown could last for many days or even weeks because politically safe lawmakers in both parties feel little pressure to compromise.
Heavily gerrymandered districts make many House Democrats and Republicans virtual shoo-ins for re-election, insulating them from everything but the views in their slice of the country. That means some lawmakers can be greeted as heroes back home even if nationally the budget standoff comes to be viewed with scorn.
For decades, lawmakers have redrawn congressional boundaries to pack districts with like-minded people and ensure easy re-election for incumbents. But election results and lawmakers’ voting patterns show that the House is more sharply divided along party lines than perhaps at any other point in modern times.
"After every census and reapportionment, the blue districts get bluer and the red districts get redder," said former Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, using the colorful terms for liberal and conservative districts. "It’s against their electoral interests," he said, for lawmakers from such districts to move toward the center rather than feed "red meat" to their most ideological constituents.
Many House Republicans insist that President Barack Obama curtail all or part of his landmark health care law, which they call "Obamacare." But Democrats, who control the Senate, say it’s preposterous to yield ground on a major accomplishment that survived a Supreme Court challenge and Obama’s 2012 re-election.
A fire, a stampede and the sea: 114 African migrants die when crowded ship capsizes off Italy
ROME (AP) -- The rickety fishing boat was the third of the night to head toward the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, overloaded with African migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Most never reached shore.
After the boat started taking on water, someone on board set a fire to get the attention of passing ships. The flames spread and panicked passengers surged to one side to avoid the fire. The vessel capsized, and hundreds of men, women and children who didn’t know how to swim were flung into the Mediterranean Sea.
At least 114 people died and some 200 were still unaccounted for late Thursday, Italian officials said.
"We need only caskets, certainly not ambulances," said Pietro Bartolo, chief of Lampedusa health services.
It was one of the deadliest accidents in the perilous crossing thousands make each year, seeking a new life in the prosperous European Union. Smugglers charge thousands of dollars a head for the journey aboard overcrowded, barely seaworthy boats that lack life vests.
Twitter unseals papers for initial public offering, says it hopes to raise up to $1B
NEW YORK (AP) -- Twitter has unsealed the documents for its planned initial public offering of stock and says it hopes to raise up to $1 billion.
The company is also revealing for the first time the amount of money it makes. Founded in 2006, Twitter has never turned a profit and has an uninterrupted history of losses totaling $419 million since its inception. But its revenue is growing.
Twitter disclosed three weeks ago that it filed confidential IPO papers to start the process of going public.
On Thursday, San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. unsealed the papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission, giving potential investors and its user base a look inside its business. The company was taking advantage of federal legislation passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year to avoid submitting public IPO documents.
Twitter says that it generated $317 million in revenue in 2012 and that it had more than 218 million active users as of the end of June, up 44 percent from a year earlier. That compares with Facebook’s nearly 1.2 billion and LinkedIn’s 240 million.
Pills made from healthy people’s poop can cure serious bowel infections, doctors report
Hold your nose and don’t spit out your coffee: Doctors have found a way to put healthy people’s poop into pills that can cure serious gut infections -- a less yucky way to do "fecal transplants." Canadian researchers tried this on 27 patients and cured them all after strong antibiotics failed to help.
It’s a gross topic but a serious problem. Half a million Americans get Clostridium difficile, or C-diff, infections each year, and about 14,000 die. The germ causes nausea, cramping and diarrhea so bad it is often disabling. A very potent and pricey antibiotic can kill C-diff but also destroys good bacteria that live in the gut, leaving it more susceptible to future infections.
Recently, studies have shown that fecal transplants -- giving infected people stool from a healthy donor -- can restore that balance. But they’re given through expensive, invasive procedures like colonoscopies or throat tubes. Doctors also have tried giving the stool through enemas but the treatment doesn’t always take hold.
There even are YouTube videos on how to do a similar treatment at home via an enema. A study in a medical journal of a small number of these "do-it-yourself" cases suggests the approach is safe and effective.
Dr. Thomas Louie, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary, devised a better way -- a one-time treatment custom-made for each patient.
N.Y. woman who killed her 3 children in bathtub to ask judge for share of their $350,000 estate
MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) -- A mentally disturbed woman who drowned her three young children in a bathtub is going to court to ask a judge for a cut of their $350,000 estate.
Leatrice Brewer will be taken from an upstate psychiatric facility to testify about her request next month, Nassau County Surrogate’s Court Judge Edward McCarty ruled Thursday.
Brewer, 33, was found not guilty because of mental disease or defect in the deaths of her children, ages 1, 5 and 6, so her attorneys say she shouldn’t be subject to laws that bar convicts from profiting from their crimes.
Brewer admitted she drowned the children in the bathtub of her apartment in New Cassel, on Long Island about 20 miles east of New York City, in February 2008. She later placed the children’s bodies on a bed and tried to kill herself by swallowing a concoction of household cleaning chemicals. When that suicide bid failed, she jumped out her second-story window but again survived.
Instead of facing trial on three murder counts in the children’s deaths, Brewer pleaded not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect. Psychiatrists had determined she suffered a major depressive disorder and believed she killed the children to save them from the potentially fatal effects of voodoo.
Chicago restaurant garnishes burger with communion wafer, red wine sauce
CHICAGO (AP) -- A Chicago restaurant has cooked up a controversial burger of the month for October, garnishing it with an unconsecrated communion wafer and a red wine reduction sauce.
Kuma’s Corner, a foodie destination with just a few tables, names its hamburgers after heavy metal bands. For October, the restaurant chose to name the burger after the Swedish band Ghost. Members of the band dress in religious robes and wear skeleton face makeup.
It’s in poor taste, said Jeff Young of New Orleans who runs the blog Catholic Foodie.
"It’s not, for us, the Eucharist," Young said. "However this wafer is a symbol. There’s a cross on it. It’s like taking a flag and burning a flag."
Luke Tobias, Kuma’s Corner director of operations, said the restaurant never wanted to offend anyone. He said reaction has been a "mixed bag," but more positive than negative.
California joins growing list of states giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- California on Thursday joined the growing list of states that allow immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to obtain driver’s licenses -- a measure supported not only by Latino activists but by police chiefs and insurance authorities.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in front of a cheering crowd of immigrants and their supporters, predicting other parts of the country will follow the example set by the nation’s most populous state.
The licenses, which are expected to become available no later than January 2015, will carry a special designation on the front and a notice stating that the document is not official federal identification and cannot be used to prove eligibility for employment or public benefits.
"This is only the first step," Brown said outside City Hall in Los Angeles. "When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice. No longer are undocumented people in the shadows."
Ten other states have enacted measures to give driver’s licenses to immigrants in the country illegally, many of them in the past year, according to the National Immigration Law Center.