RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — As President Donald Trump argued about what he said to the family of a soldier killed in Niger, a North Carolina congressman was quietly doing what he's done more than 11,000 times: signing a condolence letter to that family and ...and more »
FALLEN SOLDIERS-CONGRESSMAN’S LETTERS
‘Penance’: NC congressman writes to families of dead troops
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — As President Donald Trump argued about what he said to the family of a soldier killed in Niger, a North Carolina congressman was quietly doing what he’s done more than 11,000 times: signing a condolence letter to that family and others.
Republican Rep. Walter Jones began signing the letters to families in 2003 as penance for his 2002 vote supporting war in Iraq.
He calls the letters “a sacred responsibility.”
The 74-year-old Jones says Trump would do well to stop arguing about what he said to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four soldiers killed Oct. 4 in Niger. He says the president’s best move is to “just let it go.”
Jones was elected to the U.S. House in 1994 in a district that includes Camp Lejeune.
PUERTO RICO-HURRICANE MARIA-WHITEFISH
Puerto Rico gov seeks to cancel $300M Whitefish contract
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor is demanding that the island’s power company cancel the $300M contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings amid increased scrutiny of the Montana company following Hurricane Maria.
Sunday’s announcement by Gov. Ricardo Rossello comes as federal legislators are seeking to investigate the contract awarded to the small company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown.
Neither Whitefish nor power company officials immediately returned calls for comment.
HEALTH OVERHAUL-STATE EXCHANGES
It will be a tale of 2 countries as open enrollment begins
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The open enrollment period to sign up for health insurance is shaping up as a tale of two countries.
On one side are the 38 states that rely on the federal marketplace to sell individual insurance policies. For them, the Trump administration has slashed the budget for marketing and enrollment specialists.
It also has cut the enrollment period in half, to six weeks.
On the flip side are the 12 states that opted to run their own health insurance exchanges. They have their own budgets and maintain control over advertising, the length of the enrollment period and the level of help they will offer consumers.
Larry Levitt from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation says those states are well-positioned to stabilize their markets when open enrollment begins Wednesday.
AP interview: Kenyan opposition leader Odinga wants new vote
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has said in an interview with The Associated Press that the repeat presidential election was a sham and that a new vote should be held within 90 days.
Odinga said Sunday that low voter turnout in the election on Thursday, a rerun of an August election, indicated that the process wasn’t valid and that the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta is trying to “destroy other institutions of governance in our country,” including the Supreme Court.
Odinga says he is open to dialogue with the Kenyatta camp about holding what he calls a free and fair election, but warns that Kenya is in “grave danger.”
The Supreme Court nullified the Aug. 8 vote after finding what it called irregularities and illegalities in the process.
Nursing homes struggled with choice to evacuate in hurricane
DALLAS (AP) — Deaths of elderly residents at Texas and Florida nursing homes after hurricanes made landfall have heightened scrutiny of the evacuation procedures.
Experts on aging say the risk of illness and death increases for elderly residents who are evacuated. They advocate for a patient-by-patient risk assessment system in the future.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officials are looking into nursing homes in both states that chose to shelter in place, asking whether that decision contributed to the deaths of former residents. No criminal charges have been filed in either state so far.
State regulators are also investigating complaints of patient neglect and several families have filed civil complaints alleging mistreatment of loved ones.
The Latest: Somalia fires police and intelligence chiefs
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia’s cabinet on Sunday voted to fire the police and intelligence chiefs in response to a recommendation by Somalia’s security minister Mohamed Abukar Islow after two serious extremist attacks in the capital this month.
Islow said in a statement that five people have been arrested in connection with the massive bomb on October 14 which killed over 350 people.
WEEK 8-THE LATEST
The Latest: Bills honor the late Cookie Gilchrist
The Buffalo Bills added running back Carlton Chester “Cookie” Gilchrist to their Wall of Fame at halftime of their game against the Oakland Raiders today.
Gilchrist, who died in 2011 at age 75, was posthumously recognized for his Bills’ career from 1962 through 1964.
Gilchrist was the American Football League player of the year in 1962 when he rushed for 1,096 yards and a league-leading 13 touchdowns. Along with quarterback Jack Kemp, he helped the Bills win their first of two AFL championships in 1964.
Gilchrist is third all-time in franchise history with 31 rushing touchdowns behind Thurman Thomas (65) and O.J. Simpson (57).
The Latest: Spanish PM praises pro-union rally in Barcelona
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has voiced his support for a rally in Barcelona to protest the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence.
Rajoy sent the message on Twitter: “Concord, peaceful coexistence and common sense, democracy and dialogue within the law.”
Hundreds of thousands rallied in downtown Barcelona on Sunday, two days after the separatist majority of Catalonia’s parliament defied Rajoy and the Spanish courts by voting in favor of seceding from Spain.
Rajoy responded by firing Catalonia’s government, dissolving its parliament and ordering a new regional election.
Rajoy also wrote that “Catalans will speak with liberty and guarantees” when called to vote on Dec. 21.
T25-COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLL
AP Top 25: Georgia rises to No. 2, Ohio State up to No. 3
Georgia moved up to No. 2 and took two first-place votes from top-ranked Alabama in a major reshuffling of the top 10 in The Associated Press college football poll.
Every team in the top 10 except idle Alabama changed positions in the poll released Sunday following Ohio State’s last-second victory over Penn State and Iowa State’s win over TCU. The Crimson Tide finished with 59 first-place votes, and Georgia snared two after turning the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” into a 42-7 runaway over rival Florida.
Ohio State moved up three places after rallying to beat then-No. 2 Penn State 39-38 , Wisconsin climbed one spot to No. 4 and Notre Dame rounded out the top 5 by moving up four places.
Penn State dropped to No. 7 behind Clemson, followed by Oklahoma, Miami and TCU, which dropped six spots after its 14-7 loss to the Cyclones .
Alabama and Georgia give the SEC the top two spots in the poll for the first time since 2013. The last conference to go 1-2 in the poll was the Big Ten in 2015, when Ohio State and Michigan State sat atop the poll.
More college football coverage: http://collegefootball.ap.org and www.Twitter.com/AP_Top25
What’s middle class? GOP, Dems court it but numbers murky
WASHINGTON (AP) — Just what is middle class?
President Donald Trump and Republican leaders are promoting their tax-cutting plan as needed relief for the stressed American middle class and a catalyst for job creation.
Democrats say they’re the ones looking out for the middle class, by fighting against proposed tax cuts that would benefit big companies and the wealthy but hurt the average American.
But what exactly defines this middle class — whose members are championed and courted for their votes?
Lawmakers and experts have differing views.
The Tax Policy Center sets its “middle quintile” — third slice of five — of household income, including tax-exempt employee benefits like health insurance, at $48,300 to $85,600 a year.
But be careful about calling that middle class, it says — there’s no formal definition.
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