MARYSVILLE, Wash. (AP) — A high school worker tried to stop a gunman who opened fire on a crowded lunchroom north of Seattle, killing one girl and badly wounding four others, authorities said Saturday.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The most powerful business group in the country is spending tens of millions of dollars to help Republicans win control of the Senate with one glaring omission — the tight Georgia Senate race.
NEW YORK (AP) — Dr. Craig Spencer, the physician now being treated for Ebola in New York City, is the kind of globe-trotting do-gooder who could walk into a small village in Africa and, even though he didn't know the language, win people over through hugs alone, according to people who worked with him.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in competitive races are treading gingerly around climate change this campaign season, often saying they are not in a good position to make a judgment on the issue, then pivoting quickly to express concern for the environment, the economy or both.
"I am not a scientist," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said numerous times, a response that other members of his party have employed when asked if human activity is causing the earth to warm.
Former Rep. Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, running to reclaim a House seat he once held, says, "I think the science is not complete on this issue."
Senate hopeful Joni Ernst of Iowa, said recently, "I don't know the science behind climate change. ... I can't say one way or another what is the direct impact from whether it's man-made or not." She prefaced her comments by saying she believes in protecting the environment, offering as evidence, "I drive a hybrid car, and my family recycles everything."
Polls routinely find that climate change is far down the list of voter concerns, particularly in an era of slow economic growth.
Yet the issue has come up persistently in the fall campaign, including in debates and interviews as well as political commercials.
Surveys suggest there may be political safety for Republicans in straddling the issue, since doing otherwise could anger conservative GOP voters who deny climate change's existence or offend the majority of the country that says it is an established fact.
A year-old survey by Pew Research showed that only 25 percent of tea party supporters believe global warming is occurring, compared with 67 percent for the nation as a whole. Nationally, 44 percent said the earth is warming mostly because of human activity, a view held by only 9 percent of tea party backers — a group that Republican candidates hope will turn out in large numbers this fall.
More recently, a New York Times poll said 42 percent of Republicans say global warming won't have a serious impact, a view held by 12 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of independents.
Global Climate Change, a WebSite of the nation's space agency, says, "Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position."
But that consensus is hotly disputed by critics, including some office-holders.
One high-profile doubter, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, published a 2012 book, "The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future."
Among Democratic candidates, there is a strong consensus that global warming is a fact.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, running for a new term in oil and gas-producing Louisiana, said during a recent debate, "I do believe our climate is changing, and I do believe humans contribute."
Sen. Mark Udall, another energy-state Democrat in a tough race, says on his campaign website, "Climate change threatens our special way of life in Colorado."
Yet many Republicans in this year's campaign appear highly reluctant to stake out an unequivocal position.
"Well, I am not a scientist," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said last spring.
More recently he expressed no opinion whether human behavior is affecting the climate. Instead, he said in a debate he focuses on solving problems.
"We've spent $350 million to deal with sea level rise; we spent $100 million to deal with protecting our coral reef; we've increased the funding by 45 percent for beach re-nourishment" and spent $880 million on the Everglades, he said.
Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, a physician, likewise avoided taking a definitive position.
"Global temperatures have not risen in 15 years," he said in a debate with Landrieu and Bob Maness, a third candidate.
"There might be climate change, but we are not seeing that reflected in temperatures. We are losing our coastline, but that's relative sea level rise. ... That's related to our levees on our river, taking needed sediment from restoring our coast as well as other factors that cause the land to sink as much as water rising."
McConnell, recently interviewed by The Cincinnati Enquirer, said, "I am not a scientist. All I can tell you is that country after country after country, given a choice between pursuing this goal (of curbing carbon emissions) and their own economic growth, are choosing economic growth." Kentucky is heavy producer of coal, which gives off carbon emissions.
Rep. Cory Gardner, challenging Udall in Colorado, took no position on the existence of global warming in a debate, and said talk of a scientific consensus is itself overrated. It doesn't exist "to the extent that has been reported in the news," he said. "I think there is disagreement as to that."
ONCUPINAR, Turkey (AP) — The Turkish border crossing of Oncupinar, an hour's drive from the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo, is a chaotic buzz of people waiting to pass into one of the most violent regions in the world. Border guards stand by with machine guns to prevent Islamic militants from joining the flow, but within their sight smugglers offer to take travelers across for a surprisingly small fee.
One of the men, who claimed to be a former officer for Syrian intelligence, said he charged just over $20 — but was willing to bargain. Abdul-Rauf, who gave only his first name for fear of prosecution for his illegal profession, said he could take clients within an hour and even help them carry their bags a few hundred meters (yards) into Syria.
Abdul-Rauf, a thin man in his thirties with a close-cropped beard, asked whether the travelers were headed for territory controlled by pro-Western rebels or by the Islamic State group. When told the latter, he shook his head disapprovingly.
"Why would you want to go?" he asked, drawing a finger across his throat.
Interviews with a half dozen a smugglers at Oncupinar and other border crossings indicate that foreign militants approach them regularly — and that the border is porous, with areas near Oncupinar and the adjacent city of Kilis as the primary illegal crossing points. All spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they feared arrest or violence from criminals and militants they help cross.
Some of the smugglers said they avoid people they suspect might be foreign fighters, while others said they don't ask questions.
Turkey, under pressure from its Western allies, stepped up its efforts to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters into Syria to join the Islamic State group, mainly with surveillance of travelers at airports and bus stations. Officials say their primary objective is to prevent foreign fighters from gaining entry to Turkey, with a secondary one stopping those who might want to leave.
They have established special investigative units and have deported hundreds of suspected foreign militants in recent months. But they said the more than 1,250-kilometer (800-mile) border with Iraq and Syria is often rugged and hard to patrol — and that the smugglers often know the contours better than they do.
"The measures that have been active right now will probably decrease all these activities, but bringing it to zero level — that is almost impossible," said Cemalettin Hasimi, an adviser to the Turkish prime minister's office.
Aaron Stein, associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank, said Turkey has done much to stop the flow of foreign fighters into the country: "They are tracking people to the best of their ability."
But he said the efforts are more lackluster at the border.
"You can still get yourself across the border for about 10 bucks and nobody can understand why," he said. "It seems clear that they could be arresting more people."
The smugglers say a crackdown by authorities over the last year has made their work more dangerous, but the border remains porous because of their knowledge of its vulnerabilities and the complicity of some border guards, who can be bribed.
The smugglers told stories about being approached by foreigners they suspect to be Islamic militants. Some said they avoid helping people who are not Syrian or Turkish, for fear of attention by authorities watching for foreign fighters. The stories could not be verified, but the accounts were consistent with one another. All of those interviewed said they had seen foreigners, including Westerners, trying to cross; it was impossible to tell how many were trying to join IS and how many other rebel groups.
One ex-smuggler, who now makes a living exchanging currency and asked to be identified only by his first name, Mustafa, said that late last month, he saw three tall blond men wandering around and approached them to ask if he could help.
Mustafa, an earnest 25-year-old Syrian who wore jeans and a Levi's shirt, said the men were dressed in shorts, sneakers and long shirts and apparently did not speak Arabic. One of them addressed him in English and asked how to get to Islamic State group territory.
"The accent was 100 percent American," he recalled. "I watch movies. His accent wasn't British or anything else."
He told the men about a nearby crossing to Islamic State territory and offered to take them there. They set an appointment to meet, but he said the three men never showed up.
Other smugglers backed his account of an the Islamic State group crossing point close to a refugee camp in Kilis, and also mentioned one further east near the Syrian city of Jarablus. The AP was able to verify separately a crossing point within a kilometer (half-mile) of the Oncupinar border gate, where there is an unmonitored gap in the border fence leading to territory controlled by the Western-backed Free Syrian Army.
Sipping tea in a black leather jacket, sandals and baseball cap in a cafe in Kilis, a smuggler who identified himself as Abu Mohammed said that he avoids foreign clients because undercover Turkish police officers have been leading a crackdown.
Early this month, he said, a Frenchman, his wife and two children approached him. The woman was wearing a hijab, but he could see blond eyebrows and blue eyes. One of the kids was about three; the other a baby.
"He told me he wanted to go to the Islamic State. I turned him away," said Abu Mohammed, a former house painter from Idlib province in Syria. "If you want to smuggle, you only smuggle Syrians."
Abu Mohammed said he also witnessed Turkish police detain two Uzbeks with their wives near the border crossing.
"It was clear that they were Daish," he said, using an Arabic term for the Islamic State group.
He gave his fee as 20 Turkish lira — just under $9. He splits that with a driver, who brings the travelers to a hole cut in the fence. Nothing stops them from bringing light weapons through.
"You can take over, say, five AK-47s in a bag like this," he said, motioning with his hands the size of a normal duffel bag.
As he spoke, another smuggler stood on a terrace with three men sealing a deal to cross the border.
Abu Mohammed said business has become more dangerous because border guards have stepped up their patrols and undercover work — but that the gap in the fence remains open and business continues because some of the border guard officers are corrupt.
"The officer will call the smuggler to tell him that if he has people, now is the time to cross," Abu Mohammed said.