Obama picks Johnson to lead Homeland Security
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Friday nominated the Pentagon’s former top lawyer to help craft the nation’s counterterrorism policy as secretary of homeland security, suggesting a shift from the department’s emphasis on immigration and border issues to a greater focus on security against possible attacks.
If confirmed by the Senate — and no organized opposition has been indicated — Jeh C. Johnson would replace Janet Napolitano, who left her post last month to become president of the University of California system. Johnson, whose first name is pronounced “Jay,” is now a lawyer in a private firm.
Norwegian-Somali identified as Kenya mall attacker
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Quiet and respectful at the mosque as a boy, Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow later became radicalized, people in the coastal town in Norway where he grew up said Friday of the Somali native — the first Westgate Mall attacker to be identified.
Security camera images show the 23-year-old and three other gunmen firing coldly on shoppers as they made their way along store aisles after storming the upscale mall four weeks ago Saturday.
U.S. shutdown widened GOP-tea party rift
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republicans’ clear defeat in the budget-debt brawl has widened the rift between the Grand Old Party and the blossoming tea party movement that helped revive it.
Implored by House Speaker John Boehner to unite and “fight another day” against President Barack Obama and Democrats, Republicans instead intensified attacks on one another, an ominous sign in advance of more difficult policy fights and the 2014 midterm elections.
Obama and Hill Democrats unified on budget battles
WASHINGTON (AP) — For President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, this month’s budget battles brought about a remarkable period of party unity, a welcome change for the White House after a summer of disputes over possible military action in Syria, government spying programs and the president’s pick to lead the Federal Reserve.
But Democratic solidarity will face a tougher test during the broader budget talks following the reopening of the government and the increase of Treasury’s borrowing authority.
While the prospect of a large-scale agreement is slim, Republicans will try to extract concessions from Obama on spending, deficit reduction and entitlement reform — all areas where Democratic lawmakers have worried the president is willing to give up too much.
NJ same-sex weddings can start Monday
TRENTON, NJ – Same-sex marriages can begin within days in New Jersey after the state’s highest court ruled unanimously Friday to uphold an order that they must start Monday and to deny a delay that had been sought by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.
The ruling puts New Jersey on the cusp of becoming the 14th state — and the third most populous among them — to allow same-sex marriage. The advocacy group Freedom to Marry said that as of Monday, one-third of Americans will live in a place where same-sex marriage is legal.
“The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: Same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” the court said in an opinion by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.
“The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”
A judge on a lower court had ruled last month that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriage and set Monday as the date to allow weddings. Christie, a Republican who is considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed the decision and asked for the start date to be put on hold while the state appeals.
A spokesman for Christie said that he will comply with the ruling, though he doesn’t like it.
Autopsy inconclusive for fetus found in NYC bag; police continue to investigate
NEW YORK (AP) — An autopsy of a fetus found in a teenage girl’s shopping bag at a New York City lingerie store was inconclusive, and more tests will be needed to determine how the fetus died, the city medical examiner’s office said Friday.
The needed tests could take a couple of weeks as police continue to look into the macabre case.
Preliminary reports from detectives were that the fetus was born alive and possibly had been asphyxiated, but chief New York Police Department spokesman John McCarthy said that the case was still being investigated and that police were awaiting the medical examiners’ determination of the cause of death.
The case began Thursday when a security guard stopped Tiana Rodriguez and Francis Estevez, both 17, to examine their bags at a Victoria’s Secret store in midtown Manhattan. The guard found the dead fetus in a bag Rodriguez was carrying, police said.
Rodriguez told detectives she was carrying the remains because she had delivered a day earlier and didn’t know what to do, authorities said. Police believe Rodriguez delivered at Estevez’ house.
Officials: Possible criminal charges for men who knocked over ancient Utah rock formation
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Authorities are mulling whether to press charges against a Boy Scouts leader who purposely knocked over an ancient Utah desert rock formation and against the two men who cheered him on after they posted video of the incident online.
Two of the men, who were leading a group of teenage Boy Scouts on a trip, said the top of the rock formation was loose and they feared it was dangerous.
“This is about saving lives,” Dave Hall, who shot the video, told The Associated Press on Friday. “One rock at a time.”
The rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park is about 170 million years old, Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg said. The central Utah park is dotted with thousands of the eerie, mushroom-shaped sandstone formations.
In a video shot last Friday and posted on Facebook, Glenn Taylor of Highland can be seen wedging himself between a formation and a boulder to knock a large rock off the formation’s top. Taylor and his two companions can then be seen cheering, high-fiving and dancing.
Cheney had heart device partially disabled to prevent a terrorist from sending a fatal shock
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice President Dick Cheney says he once feared that terrorists could use the electrical device that had been implanted near his heart to kill him and had his doctor disable its wireless function.
Cheney has a history of heart trouble, suffering the first of five heart attacks at age 37. He underwent a heart transplant last year at age 71.
In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Cheney says doctors replaced an implanted defibrillator near his heart in 2007. The device can detect irregular heartbeats and control them with electrical jolts.
Cheney says that he and his doctor, cardiologist Jonathan Reiner, turned off the device’s wireless function in case a terrorist tried to send his heart a fatal shock.
Years later, Cheney watched an episode of the Showtime series “Homeland” in which such a scenario was part of the plot.