McCarthy abruptly withdraws candidacy for House speaker WASHINGTON (AP) - Confronting insurmountable obstacles, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suddenly withdrew from the contest for speaker of the U.S. House on Thursday, shocking colleagues just before they were to vote and producing ever-deeper chaos for a divided Congress. "We need a new face," McCarthy declared after a closed-door meeting where House Republicans were prepared to nominate him as speaker but instead listened in disbelief as he took himself out of the running. "If we are going to be strong, we've got to be 100 percent united." Allies said that even though he would certainly have emerged the winner from Thursday's secret-ballot election of Republicans, McCarthy had concluded he did not have a path to getting the needed 218-vote majority in the full House later this month.
EU agrees to speed migrant deportation, buttress borders LUXEMBOURG (AP) - The European Union on Thursday took measures to buttress its porous external borders and toughen up its migrant return program in an attempt to build a credible refugee policy that would continue to embrace those fleeing for their lives yet punish those seeking economic gain. Facing their toughest refugee emergency since World War II, the 28 EU nations committed to speed up and intensify the deportation of people who do not qualify for asylum, including more special flights out and detention for those who might slip into illegal residence. It all was to underscore one key message: Europe feels overwhelmed and needs to be far more rigorous in sending economic migrants back if it wants to find enough goodwill among its population to continue harboring true refugees.
10 Things to Know for Friday Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday: 1. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT AFTER MCCARTHY ABANDONS SPEAKER SEAT QUEST The California Republican's stunning move throws Congress' leadership more deeply into chaos. 2. TRUE NUMBER OF HAJJ VICTIMS IN SAUDI ARABIA The stampede and crush last month outside the holy city of Mecca killed 1,399 people, at least 600 more people than the kingdom's official toll. 3. WHY STUDY ABROAD SEXUAL ASSAULT DATA HARD TO TALLY Federal reporting requirements for college study abroad sexual assault is murky, making it hard to get a handle on how common the problem is.
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US airman who thwarted French train attack stabbed in brawl SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, celebrated as a hero for helping to stop a terror attack on a French train over the summer, was stabbed and seriously wounded outside a bar in his hometown early Thursday in what police said was an alcohol-related brawl. Stone, 23, was knifed three times in the upper body but was expected to survive after about two hours of surgery, said Dr. J. Douglas Kirk, chief medical officer at UC Davis Medical Center. "This incident is not related to terrorism in any way," Deputy Police Chief Ken Bernard said. "We know it's not related to what occurred in France months ago." A grainy surveillance video from a camera outside a liquor store showed a man who appeared to be Stone fighting with several people at an intersection.
California agency votes to ban SeaWorld orca breeding LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) - The California Coastal Commission on Thursday approved a $100 million expansion of the tanks SeaWorld uses to hold killer whales in San Diego - but it banned breeding of the captive orcas that would live in them. Animal rights activists praised the decision as a death blow to the use of killer whales at the California ocean park. The no-breeding vote "ensures that no more orcas will be condemned to a nonlife of loneliness, deprivation and misery," said a statement from People from the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "These 11 orcas would be the last 11 orcas there," PETA lawyer Jared Goodman said after the meeting.
Sexual assaults in study-abroad programs draw new attention MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - As colleges wrestle with how to address sexual assault, a legal challenge involving a small Vermont institution brings an obscure part of the equation to the fore: how to report, investigate and punish sexual assaults that happen in overseas-study programs. Statistics on such assaults are scant, although no one disputes they occur. The federal requirements for schools to report and investigate sexual assaults overseas can be murky. And since perpetrators and victims can be from different schools or studying through programs run by other institutions, colleges' options on punishing students internally can be tricky. Responding to critics' arguments that campus sexual assaults are underreported, state governments and even Congress are beginning to take steps to better monitor those crimes, and are specifically including overseas study programs.
In Oregon visit, Obama will find grief but also resentment ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) - When President Barack Obama arrives here Friday, he will find a timber town still in mourning over the shooting that killed eight community college students and a teacher. But he will also find another deeply held emotion - seething anger over his calls for new gun restrictions. Only a week after a gunman strode into a writing class and opened fire on classmates, many people in the region known as Oregon's Bible Belt are quick to reaffirm their opposition to stricter gun laws. At least one parent of a shooting survivor says his family will not meet with the president, although his daughter said she hopes to do so. And gun-rights supporters plan to protest during Obama's visit.
After the flood, a rush to preserve drinking water COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's capital city had too much water. Now, officials are racing to make sure it has enough. A canal that serves as the main source of drinking water for about half of the Columbia water system's 375,000 customers collapsed in two places following historic rainfall and flooding over the weekend, sending contractors scrambling to build a rock dam to plug the holes while National Guard helicopters dropped giant sandbags in the rushing water. Water from the canal normally flows directly into the reservoir at the city's water treatment plant. But with the water level falling because of the levee breach, workers were forced to place orange pumps on the banks of the canal to pump water directly into the reservoir.
Merkel, Zerai, Pope Francis all in Nobel Peace Prize buzz OSLO, Norway (AP) - Europe's record-breaking refugee crisis was a hot topic ahead of the Nobel Peace Prize announcement on Friday, but a Saudi blogger, a pope who reveres the Earth and its poorest people and the key players in the Iranian nuclear deal were also generating buzz. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has given no clues but those bringing relief to the hundreds of thousands of desperate people arriving in Europe have attracted interest from gamblers and pundits. Here are some names being mentioned in the annual Peace Prize guessing game: --- ANGELA MERKEL The German chancellor became the face of European inclusiveness in September when she pledged to open the country's borders to refugees fleeing Syria and other war-torn areas.
Paul Prudhomme: Cajun spices and a love of local ingredients NEW ORLEANS (AP) - At K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen during the early 1980s, chef and owner Paul Prudhomme would drive to his hometown near Opelousas in his pickup truck and come back loaded down with supplies reflecting his native Cajun cuisine. Way before farm-to-table was hip in the foodie crowd, his restaurant was making its own andouille sausage. "The way Paul approached everything was to try to make things more local, more regional, fresher, cooked to order," said chef Frank Brigtsen, who worked for Prudhomme for seven years. "At the time all those concepts were fresh and new. Now we all cook that way." Prudhomme died Thursday after a brief illness, according to Tiffanie Roppolo, the CFO of Prudhomme's businesses.