Iraqi officials: Suicide
bombing at cafe in Baghdad neighborhood kills 35
BAGHDAD (AP) -- A suicide bomber slammed his explosive-laden car Sunday night into a busy cafe in Iraq’s capital, part of a day of violence across the country that killed 45 people, authorities said.
The bombing at the cafe in Baghdad’s primarily Shiite Amil neighborhood happened as it was full of customers. The cafe and a nearby juice shop is a favorite hang out in the neighborhood for young people, who filled the area at the time of the explosions.
The blast killed 35 people and wounded 45, Iraqi officials said.
Violence has been on the rise in Iraq following a deadly crackdown by security forces on a Sunni protest camp in the northern town of Hawijah in April. At least 385 have died in attacks in Iraq so far this month, according to an Associated Press count.
In a village north of Baghdad, a car bomb targeted a police officer’s house, killing his father, brother and five nephews, officials said. Six others were wounded in the blast, which happened when the officer was not at home.
World talks with Iran
expose signs of early rift between U.S. and Israel
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Just days after the first round of global nuclear talks with Iran, a rift appears to be emerging between Israel and its closest ally, the United States.
Israel’s prime minister on Sunday called on the U.S. to step up the pressure on Iran, even as American officials hinted at the possibility of easing tough economic pressure. Meanwhile, a leading Israeli daily reported the outlines of what could be construed in the West as genuine Iranian compromises in the talks.
The differing approaches could bode poorly for Israel as the talks between six global powers and Iran gain steam in the coming months. Negotiators were upbeat following last week’s talks, and the next round of negotiations is set to begin Nov. 7.
Convinced Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes the Iranians are trying to trick the West into easing economic sanctions while still pushing forward with their nuclear program. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.
"I think that in this situation as long as we do not see actions instead of words, the international pressure must continue to be applied and even increased," Netanyahu told his Cabinet. "The greater the pressure, the greater the chance that there will be a genuine dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program."
50 years on, President Kennedy’s vision for mental health care never fully realized
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- The last piece of legislation President John F. Kennedy signed turns 50 this month: the Community Mental Health Act, which helped transform the way people with mental illness are treated and cared for in the United States.
Signed on Oct. 31, 1963, weeks before Kennedy was assassinated, the legislation aimed to build mental health centers accessible to all Americans so that those with mental illnesses could be treated while working and living at home, rather than being kept in neglectful and often abusive state institutions, sometimes for years on end.
Kennedy said when he signed the bill that the legislation to build 1,500 centers would mean the population of those living in state mental hospitals -- at that time more than 500,000 people -- could be cut in half. In a special message to Congress earlier that year, he said the idea was to successfully and quickly treat patients in their own communities and then return them to "a useful place in society."
Recent deadly mass shootings, including at the Washington Navy Yard and a Colorado movie theater, have been perpetrated by men who were apparently not being adequately treated for serious mental illnesses. Those tragedies have focused public attention on the mental health system and made clear that Kennedy’s vision was never fully realized.
The legislation did help to usher in positive life-altering changes for people with serious illnesses such as schizophrenia, many of whom now live normal, productive lives with jobs and families. In 1963, the average stay in a state institution for someone with schizophrenia was 11 years. But only half of the proposed centers were ever built, and those were never fully funded.
Arab League chief says Syria conference set, while UN envoy says no final date
BEIRUT (AP) -- Reflecting confusion in efforts to convene an international conference to end Syria’s civil war, the Arab League chief announced on Sunday that talks will take place next month in Geneva, only to have the U.N. envoy flatly deny a date has been set.
The bizarre diplomatic two-step between Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and the U.N. envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, at a joint news conference added to the uncertainty surrounding the proposed peace talks. A decision over whether the long-delayed negotiations will happen at all could come at a meeting of the Syrian opposition early next month that will focus on whether to sit down with President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The United States and Russia, who support opposing sides in the conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people, have been trying for months to bring the Damascus government and Syria’s divided opposition to the table for a peace conference. But with the war deadlocked, neither the regime nor the rebels showed any interest in compromise, forcing the meeting to be repeatedly postponed.
Even now, it remains unclear whether either side is willing to negotiate.
The main Western-backed opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, is scheduled to meet Nov. 1-2 in Istanbul to decide whether to take part in the proposed Geneva conference. One of the most prominent factions within the Coalition, the Syrian National Council, has said it has no faith in talks with Assad’s regime and won’t attend any Geneva negotiations.
With advent of gay marriage in New Jersey, some couples still facing issues getting licenses
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- With the advent of same-sex marriage in New Jersey, couples are thrilled and, in many cases, confused about how to proceed.
Advocates and others are claiming that the state of New Jersey did not give ample instructions to town clerks and others on how to administer marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Same-sex marriages were scheduled to begin Monday at 12:01 a.m. The New Jersey Supreme Court last week refused to delay a lower court order for the state to start recognizing marriages. The case, however, is still on appeal.
Several couples planned to marry minutes after the state began recognizing the unions. Yet other said they had not been able to get a license. New Jersey law requires that couples wait three days between obtaining a license and getting married.
"There’s a lot of mass confusion and it boils down to the fact that the state should have issued guidance a week ago," said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality.
Brutal death of neglected old woman in Australia shows how world is failing seniors in silence
SYDNEY (AP) -- By the time the ambulance showed up to the house, the old woman’s screams were, as the paramedics would later tell it, already at a 10 out of 10.
On a bed in the foyer lay 88-year-old Cynthia Thoresen, her eyes screwed up in agony, her skin covered in feces, with a broken leg gone untended for weeks.
The fact that Cynthia even lived in the house was a surprise to the neighbors. None had seen her. None had any idea she’d spent her final days in hellish pain after a fall. None knew that her daughter and caretaker, Marguerite Thoresen, had waited at least three weeks, and up to three months, before calling for help.
In the end, Cynthia Thoresen joined a large and growing cohort of elderly people across the world who live, and increasingly die, in silence, left to fend for themselves against a problem society has barely begun to notice: Elder abuse.
This type of abuse, which often includes neglect, is still so hidden that it is hard to quantify. But the broad picture gleaned from hundreds of interviews and dozens of studies reviewed by The Associated Press is clear: Tens of millions of elders have become victims, trapped between governments and families, neither of which have figured out how to protect or provide for them.
Argentines blame birth defects, cancer, on agrochemicals for biotech crops
BASAVILBASO, Argentina (AP) -- Argentine farmworker Fabian Tomasi was never trained to handle pesticides. His job was to keep the crop-dusters flying by filling their tanks as quickly as possible, although it often meant getting drenched in poison.
Now, at 47, he’s a living skeleton, so weak he can hardly leave his house in Entre Rios province.
Schoolteacher Andrea Druetta lives in Santa Fe Province, the heart of Argentina’s soy country, where agrochemical spraying is banned within 550 yards of populated areas. But soy is planted just 33 yards from her back door. Her boys were showered in chemicals recently while swimming in the backyard pool.
After Sofia Gatica lost her newborn to kidney failure, she filed a complaint that led to Argentina’s first criminal convictions for illegal spraying. But last year’s verdict came too late for many of her 5,300 neighbors in Ituzaingo Annex. A government study there found alarming levels of agrochemical contamination in the soil and drinking water, and 80 percent of the children surveyed carried traces of pesticide in their blood.
American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy and cotton and corn fields.