New Obama policy will 'lift the shadow of deportation' from young illegal immigrants
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama eased enforcement of immigration laws Friday, offering a chance for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work. Immediately embraced by Hispanics, the extraordinary step touched off an election-year confrontation with congressional Republicans.
"Let's be clear, this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship, this is not a permanent fix," Obama said from the White House Rose Garden. "This is the right thing to do."
The policy change will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the "DREAM Act," congressional legislation that would establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who attend college or join the military.
Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.
Obama said the change would become effective immediately to "lift the shadow of deportation from these young people."
Romney begins bus tour of America's small towns, says Obama denying middle class a 'fair shot'
STRATHAM, N.H. (AP) — Mitt Romney launched the next phase of his presidential campaign Friday, kicking off a six-state, small-town bus tour and telling middle-class Americans that President Barack Obama hasn't given them "a fair shot."
"If there has ever been a president who has failed to give the middle class of America a fair shot, it is Barack Obama," the likely Republican presidential nominee told hundreds of people standing in the sunshine outside a farmhouse plastered with his bus tour's slogan, "Every Town Counts."
It was new attack on Obama, Romney's Democratic foe, who has repeatedly argued that it's Democrats who offer a "fair shot" to Americans who "work hard and play by the rules."
The tour is Romney's first traditional campaign swing aimed at undecided voters in a series of battleground states that will decide the presidential election. Romney is hoping to win over people who might have voted four years ago for Obama's promise of hope and change but who are now disappointed in the president.
Still, Obama overshadowed the start of Romney's bus tour as his administration announced it will stop deporting hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Romney ignored a reporter's question about the change in immigration policy as he shook hands with voters in New Hampshire.
Catholic hospitals say Obama compromise on birth control for women employees is unworkable
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sharpening an election-year confrontation over religious freedom and government health insurance rules, the nation's Catholic hospitals on Friday rejected President Barack Obama's compromise for providing birth control coverage to their women employees.
The Catholic Health Association was a key ally in Obama's health care overhaul, defying opposition from church bishops to help the president win approval in Congress. But the group said Friday it does not believe church-affiliated employers should have to provide birth control as a free preventive service, as the law now requires.
The hospital group's decision calls into question a compromise offered by the president himself only months ago, under which the cost of providing birth control would be covered by insurance companies and not religious employers. While churches and other places of worship are exempt from the birth control mandate, nonprofits affiliated with a religion, such as hospitals, are not.
In a letter to the federal Health and Human Services department, the hospital group said the compromise initially seemed to be "a good first step" but that examination of the details proved disappointing. The plan would be "unduly cumbersome" to carry out and "unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns" of all its members, the group said.
While some liberal-leaning religious groups see no problem with the birth control rule, Roman Catholic bishops and conservative-leaning groups are treating it as an affront and calling it an attack on religious freedom. Institutions ranging from the University of Notre Dame to Catholic Charities in several states to the Archdiocese of Washington have sued to block the rule.
After loss of parliamentary stronghold, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood pins hopes on presidency
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood pinned its hopes Friday on weekend elections to salvage its waning political fortunes, responding to a court order dissolving its power base in parliament by urging voters to support the Islamist group's candidate for president.
The runoff vote set for Saturday and Sunday pits Ahmed Shafiq, a military-rooted strongman promising a firm hand to ensure stability, against Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi.
The Islamist movement has seen its fortunes rise and fall dramatically in the 16 months since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Repressed under the old regime, it rose to become the strongest political force in parliament after elections that started in November only to lose that power when the legislature was dissolved by court order on Thursday.
The Brotherhood is now hoping to salvage its position by portraying itself as the last bulwark against the ousted president's loyalists bent on a comeback.
"Isolate the representative of the former regime through the ballot box," a Brotherhood statement said on Friday, referring to Shafiq. It was published just before the noon deadline to end campaigning.
Issa says he is willing to postpone contempt vote against AG Holder but still has concerns
WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Darrell Issa says he is willing to postpone a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder if the Justice Department turns over additional records as promised in the congressional investigation of a flawed gun-smuggling probe on the Southwest border.
However, Issa says he still has concerns that the number of documents the department says it will deliver may not be sufficient to end the investigation by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
On Thursday, the attorney general said the department is prepared to turn over documents detailing how Justice Department officials came to the realization that federal agents in Arizona had used a controversial investigative tactic that resulted in hundreds of illicitly purchased guns winding up in Mexico, many of them at crime scenes.
Suicide of Buffalo, NY, surgeon leaves unanswered questions in ex-girlfriend's slaying
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A former Army weapons expert pursued after the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend apparently killed himself with a gunshot to the head, quelling the risk of more bloodshed and silencing perhaps the only voice that might have answered the central question: What caused a gifted trauma surgeon widely beloved as a lifesaver to end his life in a spasm of violence?
After a two-day nationwide manhunt, police found the body of a man believed to be Timothy Jorden in thick brush near the doctor's Lake Erie shoreline home. A neighbor had reported hearing a gunshot from the area on Wednesday morning, and police with dogs found the body, dressed in surgical scrubs, on Friday morning.
Neighbor June Dupree said she was distraught over the developments.
"It doesn't make any sense that he did that and that he killed himself," she said. "Oh, my God, it's just terrible. I can't get over it. I'm just about in tears right now."
She said everybody loved Jorden.
US gov't reveals serious accusations against Secret Service officers, agents since 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) — Secret Service agents and officers have been accused of involvement with prostitutes, leaking sensitive information, publishing pornography, sexual assault, illegal wiretaps, improper use of weapons and drunken behavior, according to internal government reports reviewed by The Associated Press on Friday. It wasn't immediately clear how many of the accusations turned out to be true.
The new disclosures of so many serious accusations since 2004 lend weight to concerns expressed by Congress that the Secret Service prostitution scandal in April in Colombia exposed a culture of misconduct within the agency. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan apologized for the incident during a hearing in May but insisted that what happened in Colombia was an isolated case.
A leading senator who has been investigating the Colombia scandal, Susan Collins, R-Maine, said some of the accusations appeared legitimate and that "adds to my concern about apparent misconduct by some of the personnel of this vital law enforcement agency."
"The key question is whether these incidents indicate a larger cultural problem," Collins said Friday.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., said Friday an investigation by the Secret Service's inspector general is continuing and the public should withhold judgment until that review is complete.
Crowds begin jockeying for good spots to watch Nik Wallenda's Niagara Falls tightrope walk
NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario (AP) — The Wallenda family likes challenges.
Nik Wallenda will have plenty of them Friday night when he attempts what nobody has done before: A high wire walk directly over the precipice at Niagara Falls and 190 feet above the churning torrent below. Though tethered to the wire to prevent falling to nearly certain death, the seventh-generation funambulist will still have to contend with wind, water and an unfamiliar wire when he tries to walk from the U.S. to Canada.
A festive crowd started to gather on both sides of the border Friday afternoon, spreading blankets and setting up folding chairs under picture-perfect blue skies and summer-like temperatures.
"We're here on a lark. We're looking for an adventure," said Carole Halls, who with her husband, Mark Charlebois, pulled their 9- and 11-year-old kids out of school early to stake out space on a grassy slope across from where Wallenda will finish his walk on the Canadian side.
Halls, of Oakville, Ontario, was all in favor of the tether, Wallenda's one safeguard, designed to keep him out of the water if he falls.
Lindsay Lohan representative says actress treated for exhaustion, dehydration
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lindsay Lohan continued to bring drama to the production of her latest film, receiving treatment for exhaustion and dehydration a week after she was involved in a car crash that sent her to the hospital.
Lohan's publicist Steve Honig says producers of the Lifetime film "Liz and Dick" summoned paramedics to Lohan's hotel room Friday morning after she did not respond for a shoot. The incident occurred after the actress completed an all-night shoot and had kept up a grueling schedule in recent days, Honig said.
The actress was not transported to the hospital and will likely return to the set of the film Friday afternoon. The film focuses on the love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Lifetime declined comment. And it was unclear whether the incident led to any delay in the film's production.
Fire officials confirmed they were summoned to a hotel in Marina del Rey on Friday morning around 10:15 a.m., but said they did not transport anyone to the hospital. They also said they could not identify the patient.
Plague confirmed in Oregon patient who tried to remove rodent from cat's mouth
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Health officials have confirmed that an Oregon man has the plague after he was bitten while trying to take a dead rodent from the mouth of a stray cat.
The unidentified Prineville, Ore., man was in critical condition on Friday. He is suffering from a blood-borne version of the disease that wiped out at least one-third of Europe in the 14th century — that one, the bubonic plague, affects lymph nodes.
There is an average of seven human plague cases in the U.S. each year. A map maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that most cases since the 1970s have been in the West, primarily the southwest.
The plague bacteria cycles through rodent populations without killing them off; in urban areas, it's transmitted back and forth from rats to fleas. There's even a name for it, the "enzootic cycle."
The bacteria thrive in forests, semi-arid areas and grasslands, which plague-carrying rodents from wood rats to rock squirrels call home.