Family ties are front and center in several prominent Senate races in 2014
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) Sen. Mark Pryor likes to tell voters that he always puts Arkansas first, borrowing the campaign slogan associated with his family for decades. In Wyoming, Liz Cheney bets that her famous father's name will be gold in her Senate race. And in Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu counts on her kin's New Orleans ties to help lift her to re-election in a tough race.
Family does matter in the runup to next fall's Senate elections: Candidates are wielding famous political pedigrees in a number of races that could determine whether Democrats maintain control in the 2014 elections.
Famous last names mean automatic name recognition and, typically, an easier time raising money. Beyond that, and 15 months before Election Day, it's unclear whether family ties will translate into votes next fall.
For several Democrats, their deep family roots in conservative-leaning states could help them make the case that they are in touch with local values and act in constituents' best interests as they seek to rebut Republican arguments that they are nothing more than rubber stamps for President Barack Obama's policies. Yet, with congressional approval ratings dipping to record lows, a political pedigree also could turn into a liability if voters decide they'd rather have some new blood in the Senate.
History is filled with famous political families with national images the Kennedys, Rockefellers and Bushes are among them and there are similar political dynasties in individual states across the nation.
Egypt on edge after days of violence and storming of protester-held mosque by security forces
CAIRO (AP) Egypt remained on edge Sunday after security forces stormed a Cairo mosque a day earlier and the ousted president's Muslim Brotherhood remained poised to hold further street protests despite a possible outlawing of the group.
At one point, troops exchanged gunfire with men shooting from a minaret of the al-Fath mosque on Ramses Square, where hundreds of supporters of Mohammed Morsi had fled overnight after violent clashes killed 173 people.
The evacuation was prompted by fears that the Brotherhood again planned to set up a sit-in, security officials said, similar to those that were broken up Wednesday in assaults that killed hundreds of people.
Simultaneously, police arrested the brother of al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri, who officials said planned to bring in armed groups to provide support to those holed up inside the mosque.
Mohammed al-Zawahri, a Morsi ally, is the leader of the ultraconservative Jihadi Salafi group which espouses al-Qaida's hard-line ideology. He was detained at a checkpoint in Giza, the city across the Nile from Cairo, the official said.
'Victim 5' reaches settlement in Penn State-Sandusky scandal; 25 others expected to settle
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) A young man who testified he was fondled by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has reached a settlement that gives him some peace of mind while putting the university in a better position to recover the money through a third party, the man's attorney says.
The settlement is the first among dozens of claims made against the school amid the Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported that the young man known as "Victim 5," who took the stand at Sandusky's criminal trial and sentencing last year, settled for several million dollars.
Attorney Tom Kline confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Saturday, but would not specify the dollar amount. He said the parties signed off on the agreement Friday.
Kline said his 25-year-old client was relieved and expected to receive the money within a month. The man identified himself for his testimony, but AP generally does not identify people who are victims of sex crimes.
China says Bo Xilai, at center of major scandal, to stand trial this week in corruption case
BEIJING (AP) Bo Xilai, a rising Communist Party star who fell from power last year, will go on trial Thursday on corruption charges, a court announced, putting China's new leaders on course to wrap up a festering scandal as they try to cement their authority.
The former party secretary of the major city of Chongqing was dismissed last year in a scandal that saw his wife convicted of killing a British businessman.
Bo will stand trial in the Intermediate People's Court of the eastern city of Jinan on charges of taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power, the court said in a one-sentence announcement Sunday on its microblog account. The announcement also was carried by the government's Xinhua News Agency.
Until his downfall, Bo sat on the ruling party's 25-member Politburo, and he is only the third politician at that level of seniority to be tried on graft charges in recent decades.
Political analysts say the charges against Bo appear to be carefully crafted to get rid of a political liability without raising questions about how the ruling party's unchecked power enabled his misconduct.
34 dead, dozens missing in sunken ferry in Philippines while more than 750 rescued
CEBU, Philippines (AP) Divers plucked two more bodies from a sunken passenger ferry on Sunday and scrambled to plug an oil leak in the wreckage after a collision with a cargo ship. The accident near the central Philippine port of Cebu that has left 34 dead and more than 80 others missing.
Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said 751 passengers and crewmen of the MV Thomas Aquinas have been rescued after the inter-island ferry was in a collision late Friday with the MV Sulpicio Express Siete then rapidly sank off the Cebu pier.
Stunned passengers were forced to jump in the dark into the water after the captain ordered the doomed ferry abandoned.
Coast guard, navy and fishing vessels, backed by helicopters, scoured the choppy seas off Talisay city in Cebu, about 570 kilometers (350 miles) south of Manila, Sunday but found no sign of any more survivors. Divers, however, retrieved the bodies of a man and a woman in the ferry, which sank in waters about 33 meters (100 feet) deep.
"We're still on a rescue mission," Davide told reporters. "We have not given up on them."
Additional crews arrive to help battle wind-fueled Idaho wildfire; 2,300 residences evacuated
HAILEY, Idaho (AP) More people were forced from their homes outside the posh central Idaho ski town of Ketchum as a wildfire stoked by strong winds made a push to the north.
The number of residences evacuated by the blaze rose to more than 2,300 by Saturday evening. But despite the adverse conditions and extreme fire behavior, some progress was made on the Beaver Creek Fire's south end, where crews conducted mop-up along the borders of blackened foothills west of the Hailey.
Lightning ignited the blaze Aug. 7. Fire officials estimated it grew to 144 square miles Friday night, fed by dry timber and underbrush. But they expect a more accurate size assessment after a plane with infrared cameras flies over the burn Saturday night.
The fire is 6 percent contained.
More than 700 firefighters have been deployed to the mountains west of this affluent region, where celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis own pricey getaways. Five more hotshot crews arrived Saturday, and more are expected to arrive this weekend to continue focusing on protecting homes in a sparsely populated county.
Israeli military says hits source of Syrian mortar fire on Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
JERUSALEM (AP) An Israeli military official says Israeli forces have hit a target inside Syria that was the source of mortar fire into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The official said Sunday at least three shells landed near the Syrian frontier the previous evening, causing no injuries.
The official said Israel complained to the United Nations and then carried out a "pinpointed strike" on the source of the fire. He spoke anonymously because he wasn't authorized to speak publically about the incident.
He wouldn't identify the target, say how it was struck or say if Syrians were killed.
He said the army believes part of the mortars landed in the Golan accidentally, but it is still investigating.
Recall effort against San Diego mayor can start collecting signatures
SAN DIEGO (AP) The effort to recall San Diego's embattled mayor is kicking off in the nation's eighth-largest city Sunday, one day before Bob Filner is set to return to work at City Hall after undergoing behavior therapy.
The petition drive to boot Filner from office amid sexual harassment allegations was free to officially begin at midnight Saturday, and organizers said they expected some volunteers to start gathering signatures right away.
"This is a tremendous grassroots undertaking truly the people taking back their government from an abuser who has betrayed San Diegans, demeaned women and who can no longer lead our city," said Michael Pallamary, who filed the petition to recall the Democrat. "They're ready to tell Filner, 'It's over, Bob. The people are going to show you the door.'"
The 70-year-old former congressman has resisted numerous calls to resign from the nine-member City Council, and state and federal elected officials, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has said that Filner should step down and spare San Diego the pain and expense of a recall election.
More than a dozen women have publicly accused Filner of making inappropriate statements or advances. The latest came Thursday when a volunteer city worker who assists senior citizens said Filner repeatedly rubbed her hands, asked her on dates and made sexually suggestive comments.
AP-NORC Poll: Often criticized by teachers, standardized tests have support from parents
WASHINGTON (AP) Often criticized as too prescriptive and all-consuming, standardized tests have support among parents, who view them as a useful way to measure both students' and schools' performances, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.
Most parents also say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll.
They'd like to see student performance on statewide exams used in evaluating teachers, and almost three-quarters said they favored changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers.
"The tests are good because they show us where students are at, if they need help with anything," said Vicky Nevarez, whose son Jesse just graduated from high school in Murrieta, Calif. "His teachers were great and if there were problems, the tests let me know."
The polling results are good news for states looking to implement increased accountability standards and for those who want to hold teachers responsible for students' slipping standing against other countries' scores. Teachers' unions have objected to linking educators' evaluations to student performance.
Crimson Tide on top: Alabama begins quest for 3rd straight title as No. 1 in AP preseason poll
NEW YORK (AP) Alabama will begin this season the way it ended the last two No. 1.
Nick Saban's two-time defending national champions are top-ranked in The Associated Press preseason college football poll, with the Crimson Tide trying to become the first team to win three straight national titles.
Much like the BCS championship game against Notre Dame, the vote was an Alabama landslide. The Tide received 58 of 60 first-place votes from the media panel Saturday to easily outdistance No. 2 Ohio State. Alabama matched Florida in 2009 for the highest percentage of first-place votes received in the 63-year history of the preseason rankings.
The Buckeyes received one first-place vote.
Oregon is No. 3, followed by Stanford and Georgia, which received the other first-place vote.