US unemployment rate likely rose last month as employers post sixth month of weak hiring
WASHINGTON (AP) — With a month to go until the presidential election, the government on Friday issues its September jobs report, expected to show an uptick in the U.S. unemployment rate after employers added only a modest number of jobs.
Economists forecast that the unemployment rate edged up last month to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent, according to a survey by FactSet. Employers are expected to have added 111,000 jobs.
That would be an improvement from the 96,000 jobs gained in August. But that is still barely enough to keep up with growth in the working-age population.
The Labor Department issues the jobs report at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
An increase in the unemployment rate could add momentum to Mitt Romney's campaign to unseat President Barack Obama. Jobs and the economy were central issues in the first presidential debate Wednesday and most polls showed that voters considered Romney to have prevailed.
Romney seeking to grab momentum following first debate; new jobs report looms over race
FISHERSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney is trying to ride a wave of momentum from a strong debate performance against President Barack Obama and reset the presidential campaign as the government releases new unemployment data providing the latest update on the nation's economy.
Obama, seeking to rebound from a subpar debate performance, is accusing Romney of being dishonest about how his policies would affect the tax bills of middle-class families and the Medicare benefits of retirees — a squabble that has even injected Big Bird into the race.
"I just want to make sure I've got this straight: He'll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he's going to crack down on 'Sesame Street'?" Obama said Thursday in Madison, Wis., referring to Romney's statement in the debate that he would cut a federal subsidy for PBS, which airs "Sesame Street." ''Thank goodness somebody's finally cracking down on Big Bird."
Nearly a month before Election Day, both campaigns are seeking to move on from the first presidential debate to gain any possible advantage in a tight election. Romney emerged from Wednesday's debate energized, while Obama said the televised encounter showed areas where his Republican rival was not being candid with voters.
Both campaigns faced another potential turning point with the release of Friday's government report on unemployment for September. Joblessness was measured at 8.1 percent in August and economists predicted that employers added 111,000 jobs last month, up from the 96,000 jobs added in August. The jobless rate was expected to tick up slightly from 8.1 percent.
Turkey-Syria clashes show how quickly civil war can spill over to wider regional conflict
BEIRUT (AP) — Retaliatory Turkish artillery strikes deep into Syria have showed the speed with which the bloody civil war can entangle its neighbors and destabilize an already volatile region.
Beyond the cross-border flare-up, the 18-month battle to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad has already deepened sectarian rifts in Lebanon and Iraq, raised tensions along the long quiet frontier with Israel and emboldened Kurdish separatists in Turkey.
"There is not a single country bordering Syria that we can honestly say they are not facing a realistic threat to internal stability and national security," said Aram Nerguizian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
From the start, Syria's conflict burst over its borders. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians sought refuge across the country's borders with Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. Stray bullets and mortar rounds, sometimes with deadly result, have struck Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.
But in a dramatic escalation on Thursday, Turkey fired back for the first time after an errant Syrian mortar shell killed five people in a Turkish border town Wednesday. Turkey shelled Syrian military targets, and Turkey's parliament approved future retaliation under such circumstances.
When blips become big deals: Can 3rd party presidential candidates tilt elections?
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Virgil Goode are blips in the presidential race. They have little money, aren't on stage for presidential debates and barely register in the polls — when survey takers even bother to list them as options.
Yet in a tight race between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney that likely will be won or lost at the margins, even blips can be a big deal.
Obama's campaign has quietly been tracking the two former Republican officeholders who could be pivotal in key states. Romney's campaign insists it's not worried, even though Republican allies have failed to keep them off state ballots.
Johnson is the Libertarian Party nominee; Goode the Constitution Party candidate.
"At the end of the day this is a two-person race as we're factoring things in like vote goals, turnout," Romney political director Rich Beeson said. "We take it into account, but I can't say I stay up at night thinking about what Gary Johnson or Virgil Goode is going to do."
Health providers rush to notify patients in 23 states of meningitis-tainted steroid injections
NEW YORK (AP) — Health providers are scrambling to notify patients in nearly two dozen states that the routine steroid injections they received for back pain in recent months may have been contaminated with a deadly fungal meningitis.
It became apparent Thursday that hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people who got the shots between July and September could be at risk after officials revealed that a tainted steroid suspected to have caused a meningitis outbreak in the South had made its way to 75 clinics in 23 states.
The Food and Drug Administration urged physicians not to use any products at all from the Massachusetts pharmacy that supplied the preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate.
So far, 35 people in six states — Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina and Indiana — have contracted fungal meningitis, and five of them have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All had received steroid shots for back pain, a highly common treatment.
It is not clear how many patients received tainted injections, or even whether everyone who got one will get sick. The time from infection to onset of symptoms is anywhere from a few days to a month, so the number of people stricken could rise.
Fatal parasailing accidents renew calls for safety regulations in Florida, elsewhere
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Soaring high above the ocean, tethered to a boat, a parasail ride is at once exhilarating and peaceful, even quiet. But every year, there are accidents.
The Parasail Safety Council, which tracks injuries and deaths nationwide, reports more than 70 people have been killed and at least 1,600 injured between 1982 and 2012, out of an estimated 150 million parasail rides during those 30 years.
That's a casualty rate of about one per 90,000 rides. In comparison, the chance of being seriously injured at an amusement park is about one in 9 million rides, according 2010 data from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
Despite parasailing's inherent risk, few federal or state safety regulations exist for it. In Florida, which has by far the largest number of parasail operators at about 120, repeated efforts to enact new rules following fatal accidents have gone nowhere. Florida is seen by safety proponents as a national bellwether because of parasailing's popularity in a state highly dependent on tourist dollars.
The lack of safety regulations frustrates Shannon Kraus, mother of two girls who crashed into a Pompano Beach hotel roof in 2007 when their parasail line snapped during a storm. One of the girls, 15-year-old Amber May White, later died of her injuries, while her sister Crystal, then 16, has had a long road to recovery from head injuries.
New SF prelate jokes about DUI arrest, as installation draws gay rights protesters
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's new Roman Catholic archbishop made self-deprecating jokes about his recent drunken-driving arrest during his formal installation ceremony, which came just days after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.
But Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, a strong supporter of California's ban on same-sex marriage, did not refer to the distress his appointment has aroused in this gay-friendly city and mentioned marriage only obliquely Thursday.
Amid heavy security and the splendor of his faith's most sacred rites, Cordileone told an audience of more than 2,000 invited guests at St. Mary's Cathedral he was grateful for the support he had received from people of different religious and political viewpoints following the Aug. 25 arrest in his home town of San Diego.
"I know in my life God has always had a way of putting me in my place. I would say, though, that in the latest episode of my life God has outdone himself," Cordileone said with a chuckle as he delivered his first homily as archbishop.
The 56-year-old priest, the second-youngest U.S. archbishop, went on to say he did not know "if it's theologically correct to say God has a way of making himself known in this way," and asked for the indulgence of other high-ranking church leaders in the audience.
Producer who hoped to bring 'Rebecca' to Broadway says he was victim of bizarre fraud
NEW YORK (AP) — The psychological thriller "Rebecca" was a hit for author Daphne du Maurier and filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. Leave it to Broadway to one-up the master of suspense.
A planned New York production of the 1938 novel as a musical collapsed this week amid questions about its financial backing, and a growing suspicion that one of its primary investors — a secretive businessman named Paul Abrams who had supposedly pledged $4.5 million, then suddenly died of malaria — never existed.
The FBI has launched an investigation. Private investigators are on the case. The full truth may take some time to come out, but the lead producer of "Rebecca," Ben Sprecher, says he now believes he was taken in by an elaborate fraud.
"I never made up any investor. I never made up Paul Abrams. I never made up any of this," Sprecher said in a brief interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.
But two months after the "death," Sprecher's lawyer, Ronald Russo, said he has concluded that Abrams and the three other investors in the musical were indeed works of stagecraft, propped up by forged documents and bogus correspondence.
Rams sack Kevin Kolb 9 times, hand Cardinals first loss with 17-3 victory
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Without his favorite target, Sam Bradford seemed lost. The top pick of the 2010 draft completed a measly seven passes.
The St. Louis Rams defense was there to pick him up — by continually knocking down Kevin Kolb.
The Rams (3-2) totaled nine sacks, their most since 1998, in a 17-3 victory Thursday night that ended the Arizona Cardinals' early unbeaten run.
"They've played great all year," Bradford said. "They've kept us in a lot of games. Fortunately, we were able to make the big play in the fourth quarter to go up two scores, but all the credit tonight to our defense."
Danny Amendola made a spectacular one-handed grab for a 44-yard gain on an underthrown ball that set up Bradford's touchdown pass to Lance Kendricks' on the Rams' opening drive.
Nearly 3 dozen states fail to meet conditions of federal law to track sex offenders
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Nearly three dozen states have failed to meet conditions of a 2006 federal law that requires them to join a nationwide program to track sex offenders, including five states that have completely given up on the effort because of persistent doubts about how it works and how much it costs.
The states, including some of the nation's largest, stand to lose millions of dollars in government grants for law enforcement, but some have concluded that honoring the law would be far more expensive than simply living without the money.
"The requirements would have been a huge expense," said Doris Smith, who oversees grant programs at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Lawmakers weren't willing to spend that much, even though the state will lose $226,000.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, named after a boy kidnapped from a Florida mall and killed in 1981, was supposed to create a uniform system for registering and tracking sex offenders that would link all 50 states, plus U.S. territories and tribal lands. When President George W. Bush signed it into law, many states quickly realized they would have to overhaul their sex offender registration systems to comply.
Some lawmakers determined that the program would cost more to implement than to ignore. Others resisted the burden it placed on offenders, especially certain juveniles who would have to be registered for life. In Arizona, for instance, offenders convicted as juveniles can petition for removal after rehabilitation.