Posted: Sep 13, 2013 4:00 PM
Updated: Sep 14, 2013 4:01 AM
Stranded residents rescued by air, ground from Colo. mountain towns as plains are inundated
LYONS, Colo. (AP) By air and by land, the rescue of hundreds of Coloradoans stranded by epic mountain flooding was accelerating as food and water supplies ran low, while thousands more were driven from their homes on the plains as debris-filled rivers became muddy seas inundating towns and farms miles from the Rockies.
For the first time since the harrowing mountain floods began Wednesday, Colorado got its first broad view of the devastation and the reality of what is becoming a long-term disaster is setting in. The flooding has affected parts of a 4,500-square-mile area, almost the size of Connecticut.
National Guard choppers were evacuating 295 people plus pets from the mountain hamlet of Jamestown, which was isolated by flooding that scoured the canyon the town sits in.
Mike Smith, incident commander at Boulder Municipal Airport, said helicopters would continue flying in and out late into the night.
The outlook for anyone who'd rather stay is weeks without power, cellphone service, water or sewer.
AP PHOTOS: Colorado deals with more flooding as rain continues to fall along Front Range
Floodwaters are forcing thousands more people from their homes in Colorado. The National Guard is helping to rescue residents of neighborhoods and even whole towns that have been cut off. Rain continues to fall up and down Colorado's Front Range, which has received more than 15 inches of rain this week.
Here's a gallery of images from the flooding.
Follow AP photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo
While focus is on chemical weapons, Obama's larger strategy to end Syria's war is in disarray
WASHINGTON (AP) After 2 years of civil war in Syria, President Barack Obama's larger policy is in disarray even as his administration, with help from Russia, averted a military showdown for the time being.
In an address to the American people, Obama said he was working with U.S. allies to "provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition and to shape a political settlement" for ending a conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people and made refugees of millions more.
That simple message belies a hodgepodge of often contradicting goals and strategies unlikely to be resolved by the new international effort to get Bashar Assad's government to relinquish its chemical weapons or by any U.S. military action if diplomacy fails.
These include Obama's vacillations on providing military assistance to rebels as part of a peace strategy and his repeated demand that Assad relinquish power but still retain a veto over any replacement government.
The difficulty in understanding what America is trying to do in Syria has persisted in the current debate over how to respond to the Assad government's alleged use of chemical weapons.
US, Russia talks on Syrian weapons reach pivotal point, deal key to resuming peace talks
GENEVA (AP) Negotiations between the United States and Russia on securing Syria's chemical weapons have reached a critical turning point after two days of intense diplomacy, with a deal key to a resumption of peace talks hanging in the balance.
After lasting late into Friday night, discussions entered a third day on Saturday with U.S. officials pointing to at least limited progress on some elements of a Russian proposal to inventory, isolate and eventually destroy Syria's chemical weapons stocks.
Saturday's session in Geneva, led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, comes as the Obama administration warned that there is a timetable for a diplomatic resolution of the weapons issue.
They are at a "pivotal point," a U.S. official said Friday. Progress was made on how to account for Syria's chemical weapons inventory, the official said, adding that the U.S. and Russia had narrowed their differences over what each country believes to be the size of the Syrian stockpiles.
Administration officials also said that President Barack Obama was open to a U.N. Security Council resolution that did not include military force as a punishment if Syrian President Bashar Assad doesn't follow through on promises regarding the weapons. While Russia would be all but certain to veto any measure with such a penalty, Obama's willingness to concede the point was likely to be viewed as a step forward.
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.
Health care and budget debates expose divide between tea party and GOP leaders
FLETCHER, N.C. (AP) Tea party activists, once unquestioned as a benefit to the Republican Party for supplying it with votes and energy, are now criticizing GOP leaders at seemingly every turn.
They're demanding that Congress use upcoming budget votes to deny money for implementing President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law, even amid warnings that the strategy could lead to a government shutdown. They're upset that Republicans didn't block a Senate-passed immigration bill. And many are outspoken opponents of any U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that more than 7 in 10 self-identified "tea party Republicans" disapprove of the job performance of GOP congressional leaders. Many of the major tea party groups are backing 2014 primary challengers against Republicans the activists deem too moderate, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky conservative who once declared it his job to make Obama a one-term president.
That leaves some Republicans quietly worried that an intraparty tussle could yield a repeat of 2012, when conservative candidates lost winnable Senate races and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney struggled through the primary and general election campaigns to win over conservatives while still appealing to moderate swing voters.
The health care debate puts the GOP in its tightest spot, with the wary Republicans recalling the 1995-96 shutdowns under President Bill Clinton, who persuaded many voters to blame Republicans and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Georgia Republican, for that budget impasse.
Flare-ups could complicate search for the cause of fire that destroyed NJ boardwalk businesses
SEASIDE PARK, N.J. (AP) Continuing hot spots could hamper investigators trying to figure out the cause of a fire that charred four blocks of bars, pizza shops and T-shirt stands perhaps 50 businesses in all on a Jersey shore boardwalk that still was trying to recover from Superstorm Sandy.
The initial problem is spots where flames could keep flaring up among the rubble from the blaze that shot fireballs 50 feet into the sky Thursday night before crews got it contained.
In a news briefing Friday, Gov. Chris Christie said it would be "irresponsible for any of us to speculate" what sparked the fire that is believed to have started in or near a frozen custard stand.
He said the firefighters working on spraying down any flare-ups are also doing their best to preserve evidence for the fire investigation team that's trying to piece together just what happened.
In the meantime, plans to rebuild again already are in the works.
UAE leads Gulf pact with Egypt's new leaders: Cash and crackdowns on Muslim Brotherhood
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) More than six months ago, Dr. Mahmoud al-Jaidah was asked to step out of line as he transited through Dubai en route home to Qatar. He has been held ever since, allowed to visit his family once a month after a blindfolded trip from an undisclosed detention facility.
UAE authorities have given no public statements on the case. But the family of the 52-year-old doctor has no doubt why he was detained: He has been caught up in the escalating pressures across the Western-backed Gulf states against the now-battered Muslim Brotherhood and its perceived Islamist allies.
The crackdowns in the Gulf began more than a year before the Muslim Brotherhood's political collapse in Egypt this July, but now they take on wider regional implications, meshing with the campaign of arrests by Cairo's new military-protected leadership against the Brotherhood.
The Egyptian military's ouster of President Mohammed Morsi on July 3 further emboldened the UAE and other Gulf states to step up arrests of suspected Brotherhood supporters, whom they see as a threat to the Gulf's tightly run fraternity of monarchs, sheiks and emirs.
And in turn, several Gulf countries have stepped up as critical sources of cash for Egypt's new military-backed leadership as it cracks down on Morsi's Brotherhood. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have promised Cairo $12 billion in aid. Several thousand Brotherhood members and other Islamists have been arrested in Egypt since Morsi's fall.
Police move in with tear gas, ending occupation of Mexico City center by striking teachers
MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexican riot police have cracked down on the strongest challenge yet to President Enrique Pena Nieto's reform program, sweeping thousands of striking teachers out of Mexico City's main square with tear gas and water cannons.
Workers moved swiftly late Friday to demolish the half-burnt protest camp where striking teachers had camped out for weeks in a bid to block Pena Nieto's education reforms, which are aimed at introducing teacher evaluations and reducing union discretion in hiring.
But while Pena Nieto can now use the vast main square known as the Zocalo to hold the country's traditional Independence Day celebration on Sunday, it's unknown whether the crackdown will heighten opposition to his energy and tax reforms.
Moving against the striking teachers may have set the tone for any future protests of Pena Nieto's proposals for a steep tax hike and profits-sharing contracts for private companies in the state-owned oil industry. Both the tax and oil proposals have drawn howls of opposition.
Friday's massive raid by thousands of police against the teachers was a dramatic reassertion of state authority after weeks of near-constant disruption in the center of one of the world's largest cities. The teachers have marched through the capital at least 15 times over the last two months.
With a piece of history in the book, Furyk now sets his sights on winning
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Before he could take his place in PGA Tour history with a 59, Jim Furyk had to get in the right frame of mind.
And that wasn't easy.
He was grouchy after the opening round of the BMW Championship. The day that began over breakfast with two friends who are on the Presidents Cup, a stinging reminder that Furyk was left off an American team for the first time in 15 years. Then, he opened with a 72 at Conway Farms and already was nine shots out of the lead.
"I kind of kicked myself in the rear end and said, 'You know, it's done with. There's nothing I can do to change it now. It's over, and let's just focus on this week,'" Furyk said. "I talked to my dad a little bit about my round and told him I felt like I played a lot better than 1-over. He gave me advice that it's a long week, it's four rounds. ... 'You've got three days to get it back.'"
Furyk paused to smile.