Poll: Health care exchange rollout draws a big audience and gets underwhelming reviews
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The debut of the government’s health insurance marketplaces drew a huge audience -- and underwhelming reviews.
Just 7 percent of Americans say the rollout of the health exchanges has gone extremely well or very well, according to an AP-GfK poll.
The reaction was somewhat better among supporters of the new health care law, but still middling: 19 percent said the rollout went extremely well or very well.
Among the uninsured -- a key audience for the health exchanges -- 42 percent said they didn’t know enough to judge how well the rollout had gone, suggesting an ongoing lack of awareness about the program in its early days.
Despite the bumpy rollout, plenty of Americans are giving the system a try.
Stocks soar as politicians move closer to a deal to avoid a U.S. default
NEW YORK (AP) -- You can almost hear Wall Street exhaling.
The Dow Jones industrial average soared more than 300 points Thursday after Republican leaders and President Barack Obama finally seemed willing to end a 10-day budget standoff that has threatened to leave the U.S. unable to pay its bills.
The news drove the Dow to its biggest point rise this year and ended a three-week funk in stocks. It also injected some calm into the frazzled market for short-term government debt.
Republican leaders said Thursday they would vote to extend the government’s borrowing authority for six weeks. A spokesman for Obama said the president would "likely" sign a bill to increase the nation’s ability to borrow money so it can continue paying its bills.
"Congressmen and women are coming to terms with how calamitous it would be if the debt ceiling was not raised," said Joseph Tanious, Global Market Strategist for J.P. Morgan Asset Management. "Cooler heads are prevailing."
Washington’s freeze of
aid to Egypt whips up
anti-American sentiment, may help army chief
CAIRO (AP) -- Washington’s decision to withhold millions of dollars in mostly military aid to Egypt is fueling anti-U.S. sentiment and the perception that Washington supports Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist president the military ousted in a July coup.
That could boost the popularity of the military chief, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, whom the U.S. is trying to pressure to ensure a transition to democracy and ease the fierce crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The aid freeze could also embolden Morsi’s supporters to intensify their campaign of street protests in the belief that the military-backed government is losing the goodwill of its top foreign backer. The protests, met by a fierce response by security forces that has left hundreds dead, have kept the new government from tackling Egypt’s pressing problems after 2 1/2 years of turmoil.
Still, Egypt’s military-backed government is unlikely to abandon the road map it announced when Morsi was removed in a July 3 coup -- to amend the nation’s Islamist-tilted constitution and put the changes to a nationwide vote before the end of the year, and hold parliamentary and presidential ballots in early 2014.
"Egypt is not so desperate that it needs to compromise on its political agenda," George Friedman, founder of the U.S.-based global intelligence firm, Stratfor, wrote this week.
Obama administration says it will allow states to pay to reopen some national parks
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Under pressure from governors, the Obama administration said Thursday it will allow some shuttered national parks to reopen -- as long as states use their own money to pay for park operations.
Governors in at least four states have asked for authority to reopen national parks within their borders because of the economic impacts caused by the park closures. All 401 national park units -- including such icons as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite and Zion national parks -- have been closed since Oct. 1 because of the partial government shutdown. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees have been furloughed, and lawmakers from both parties have complained that park closures have wreaked havoc on nearby communities that depend on tourism.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the government will consider offers to use state money to resume park operations, but will not surrender control of national parks or monuments to the states. Jewell called on Congress to act swiftly to end the government shutdown so all parks can reopen.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said his state would accept the federal offer to reopen Utah’s five national parks.
Utah would have to use its own money to staff the parks, and it will cost $50,000 a day to operate just one of them, Zion National Park, said Herbert’s deputy chief of staff, Ally Isom.
and 2nd American in
orbit, dies at age 88
DENVER (AP) -- Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, was guided by two instincts: overcoming fear and quenching his insatiable curiosity. He pioneered his way into the heights of space and the depths of the ocean floor.
"Conquering of fear is one of life’s greatest pleasures and it can be done a lot of different places," he said.
His wife, Patty Barrett, said Carpenter died in a Denver hospice of complications from a September stroke. He lived in Vail.
Carpenter followed John Glenn into orbit, and it was Carpenter who gave him the historic send-off: "Godspeed John Glenn." The two were the last survivors of the famed original Mercury 7 astronauts from the "Right Stuff" days of the early 1960s. Glenn is the only one left alive.
In his one flight, Carpenter missed his landing by 288 miles, leaving a nation on edge for an hour as it watched live and putting Carpenter on the outs with his NASA bosses. So Carpenter found a new place to explore: the ocean floor.
Libyan prime minister abducted for several hours in apparent retaliation for U.S. raid
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- The abduction was brief but still audacious: Gunmen from one of Libya’s many militias stormed a hotel where the prime minister has a residence and held him for several hours Thursday -- apparently in retaliation for his government’s alleged collusion with the U.S. in a raid last weekend that captured an al-Qaida suspect.
The brazen seizure of Prime Minister Ali Zidan heightened the alarm over the power of unruly militias that virtually hold the weak central government hostage. Many of the militias include Islamic militants and have ideologies similar to al-Qaida’s. The armed bands regularly use violence to intimidate officials to sway policies, gunning down security officials and kidnapping their relatives.
At the same time, the state relies on militias to act as security forces, since the police and military remain in disarray after dictator Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and killed in 2011. The militias are rooted in the brigades that fought in the uprising and are often referred to as "revolutionaries."
Many militias are paid by the Defense or Interior ministries -- which are in charge of the military and police respectively -- although the ministries are still unable to control them.
Not only was Zidan abducted by militiamen who officially work in a state body, it took other militias to rescue him by storming the site where he was held in the capital.
Report: Autoerotic asphyxiation possible in Ariel Castro death, guards falsified logs
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro’s death by hanging in his prison cell may not have been suicide after all but an ill-fated attempt to choke himself for a sexual thrill, authorities said in a report issued Thursday.
The report also said two guards falsified logs documenting the number of times they checked on Castro before he died.
Castro, 53, was found hanging from a bedsheet Sept. 3 just weeks into a life sentence after pleading guilty in August to kidnapping three women off the streets, imprisoning them in his home for a decade and repeatedly raping and beating them.
The report, from Ohio’s prison system, raised the possibility that Castro died as a result of autoerotic asphyxiation, in which people achieve sexual satisfaction while choking themselves into unconsciousness.
Castro’s pants and underwear were around his ankles when he was found, the report said.
’I’m ready to go:’ Ex-Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick sentenced to 28 years for corruption
DETROIT (AP) -- A former Detroit mayor was sent to prison for nearly three decades Thursday, offering little remorse for the widespread corruption under his watch but acknowledging he let down the financially troubled city during a critical period before it landed in bankruptcy.
Prosecutors argued that Kwame Kilpatrick’s "corrupt administration exacerbated the crisis" that Detroit now finds itself in. A judge agreed with the government’s recommendation that 28 years in prison was appropriate for rigging contracts, taking bribes and putting his own price on public business.
It is one of the toughest penalties doled out for public corruption in recent U.S. history and seals a dramatic fall for Kilpatrick, who was elected mayor in 2001 at age 31 and is the son of a former senior member of Congress.
While Detroit’s finances were eroding, he was getting bags of cash from city contractors, kickbacks hidden in the bra of his political fundraiser and private cross-country travel from businessmen, according to trial evidence.
Kilpatrick, 43, said he was sorry if he let down his hometown but denied ever stealing from the citizens of Detroit.
Evil genius Robert Kirkman keeps it fresh for fans of ‘The Walking Dead’ comic, TV show
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Nothing’s been as hard for Robert Kirkman as killing off Glenn.
Not only did he do away with a beloved character in the comic book version of "The Walking Dead," he knew he’d eventually have to face actor Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn on the hit AMC zombie apocalypse television series. Although the series departs from its source material, he knew Yeun would wonder about his fate on Season 4, which begins Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT.
"It was really strange for me writing that, knowing that Steven was going to read it," Kirkman said. "There was a concern like I didn’t want Steven to read it and think I was mad at him."
Lucky for Yeun, then, that Kirkman isn’t like George R.R. Martin. When fans went bonkers over the season-ending "Game of Thrones" episode "Red Wedding," Martin, author of the books the series is based on, chided fans they needed only to read his novels to know what was coming. Kirkman gives his watchers, readers -- and actors -- no such road map.
Kirkman and the show’s creators long ago decided to veer away from the source material in key places, so Glenn’s sudden passing in the pages of pivotal issue No. 100 -- we’re not going to tell you anything more, but rest assured it’s spectacularly terrible -- did not mean Yeun’s days are numbered on the show. Necessarily.