BUDUBURAM CAMP, Ghana (AP) — Henry Boley left Liberia to attend a conference in Nigeria just days after his twins were born. Now, weeks later, he can't get home. Amanda Johnson, a 50-year-old Liberian living in Ghana, awaits her fiance's departure from their home country for their wedding, but refuses to return home because of Ebola.
Hundreds of Liberians are stranded in Ghana, separated from their families because of poverty, fear and logistics. Some are waiting for flights to resume after most airlines cancelled flights to Liberia. Others are having trouble navigating or affording the circuitous route back by bus. Many others feel it's too risky to return home, even if their spouses or children are desperately urging them to.
Boley and Johnson are neighbors in a camp for refugees just outside Accra, the Ghanaian capital, where they monitor the news for any signs that Ebola is slowing down in their home country. Their exile is likely to continue as the worst outbreak of the disease in history continues infecting more people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, with a total death toll of more than 4,500.
Ghana, which is still free of Ebola, has become the hub for an intensified international response to the crisis, with the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response based in Accra. Ghana is one of 14 West African counties seen as being at risk, and authorities have set up at least three Ebola isolation centers across the country in case there is an outbreak.
Boley, a 40-year-old Christian pastor, has been stranded for weeks. He is bored and often thinks of his babies, whom he barely knows.
"I have been trying to get back to Liberia but it's very difficult," he said. "This is tough for me. I am the man of the home and when I talk to my wife she says to me that I need to be there. But I can't do anything for her."
Boley believes more than 500 Liberians — often jobless, broke and desperate for good news out of their country — are at the Buduburam camp, an unsanitary maze of tin-roofed shacks, tents and other makeshift structures. Many more are said to be sheltering in other parts of Ghana. When he is not walking about idly, Boley sits huddled among other men who talk quietly over cold drinks. In a crowded market in Buduburam's dusty grounds, women sell fresh vegetables, bottled honey and other goods. The area stinks of rotting garbage.
Boley had flown to Nigeria on Gambia Bird, but after he left that airline stopped flying to Liberia. While in Lagos, Nigeria, people avoided him after learning he was from Liberia, he said. Disinvited from the conference, he took a bus to Ghana, where border officials announced there was a possibly Ebola-infected Liberian in their company. People panicked, he said.
The only way he can return home is by taking another long bus trip through four countries, including Guinea and Sierra Leone. It would cost him at least $350, money he doesn't have. The most direct route, through Ivory Coast, is closed, and French-speaking Ivorian border officials are hostile toward Liberians, he said.
A shuttered kiosk in the middle of the camp is a reminder of the stigma of Ebola: The Liberian man who used to run it, some said, was ignored and left to die in hospital because his doctors suspected Ebola was the reason for his high fever. Police also come to the camp at night in search of Ebola patients, residents said.
Johnson is awaiting her fiance's arrival in Ghana for a wedding at the end of the year. But he can't leave Liberia because of border closings.
"Some people are saying we will get married in December, others are saying maybe three years later. I just don't know what will happen," said Johnson, who runs a stall selling clothes and food in the camp. "I also can't go back to Liberia. I don't want to go."
Liberians are deeply religious people, and every morning many who live in this camp crowd into a church to pray for the end of Ebola
Boley, the Liberian pastor, said he genuinely believes that "only God can help us to solve" Ebola.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — So long Silicon Valley. These days entrepreneurs and engineers are flocking to a place better known for wave surfing than Web surfing. Amid the palm trees and purple sunsets of the Southern California coastline, techies have built "Silicon Beach."
In the past few years Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and YouTube have opened offices on the west side of Los Angeles from Santa Monica south to Venice and Playa del Rey. They are joined by hundreds of startups including Hulu, Demand Media and Snapchat, which nixed a $3 billion takeover offer from Facebook. Major Hollywood players like The Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. have launched startup accelerators to help local tech entrepreneurs. The city of Los Angeles even hired its first chief technology officer, former Qualcomm executive Peter Marx, earlier this year.
"Historically, Silicon Valley has been the center of gravity for tech and startups but I think more and more, these types of companies can be built anywhere," says Erik Rannala, who moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles with his entrepreneurial partner William Hsu several years ago.
Rannala and Hsu oversee MuckerLab, a technology incubator in Santa Monica, California, that has invested in 45 startups such as flower marketplace BloomNation and online tuxedo rental outfit The Black Tux. Many of the ideas for the companies were hatched in MuckerLab's concrete-walled space, which is covered with white boards and sticky tabs.
The vibe is eclectic. No office-park chic here. Graffiti murals mix with coffee shops, foodie scenes, and boutiques. Companies allocate ample space for bikes and surfboards so employees can hit the beach after work.
Social media software maker Epoxy TV, founded by Juan Bruce and Jason Ahmad, is located in a Venice complex formerly owned by the late actor Dennis Hopper. They still get his mail. One of Hopper's sculptures adorns the yard and inside, there's a staircase to nowhere designed by renowned Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry. The Venice scene also has helped online razor service Dollar Shave Club recruit employees, according to founder and Philadelphia native Michael Dubin.
"It's very different to be at the heart of Venice than to be in the heart of Mountain View," says Epoxy TV's Ahmad. "Culturally it's just a vastly different place."
What's happening here is part of a growing movement of U.S. cities seeking to duplicate the formula that turned northern California's Silicon Valley, slightly south of San Francisco, into a mecca of society-shifting innovation and immense wealth. Cupertino-based Apple Inc., Mountain View's Google Inc. and Menlo Park-based Facebook Inc. collectively have created more than $1 trillion in shareholder wealth while routinely paying employees six-figure salaries, generous benefits and stock options that can generate multimillion-dollar windfalls.
All the prosperity has caused the cost of living in Silicon Valley to soar. It's nearly impossible to buy even a small home for less than a $1 million in San Francisco and many other nearby cities. Tiny apartments can cost $2,500 to $3,500 per month.
Prices like those are one more reason that less expensive, but still enticing places like Los Angeles make sense to tech entrepreneurs, says Chris DeWolfe, who runs a rapidly growing company called the Social Gaming Network in Beverly Hills.
"It's more affordable to live almost anywhere in Los Angeles, and you still get a great variety of life here with an amazing culture, super beaches and great hiking," DeWolfe says. "And the sun is almost always shining."
The only thing that remains as a major benchmark for Los Angeles is to give birth to a city-defining company in the same way that Facebook, Google and Apple have defined Silicon Valley, or how Amazon and Microsoft have reshaped Seattle.
On the other opposite side of the U.S., New York's "Silicon Alley" has been a high-tech cove for the past 15 years. Boston and Washington D.C. also have had some success cultivating a vibrant technology scene, though neither city has coined a catchy nickname that has stuck. Billionaire Steve Case, who co-founded AOL Inc. in Virginia, is trying to spread the tech gospel in U.S. cities that have been brushed off as rusty relics of a bygone industrial era.
In June, Case visited more than 100 entrepreneurs and startups during a bus tour of Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Nashville, Tennessee that he called the "Rise of the Rest." This month he followed up with another round of technology-preaching stops in Minneapolis, St. Louis, Madison, Wisconsin; Des Moines, Iowa; and Kansas City, Missouri.
"This tech phenomenon in other parts of the country besides Silicon Valley is only going to increase as it becomes easier and cheaper to start companies," Case predicts.
DeWolfe said he had trouble luring technology engineers to Beverly Hills a decade ago when he was trying to expand MySpace, the social networking forerunner to Facebook that he co-founded. That's no longer a problem now that there's a steady stream of local students graduating with engineering degrees from local colleges like CalTech, UCLA and USC, says Marx, Los Angeles' chief technology officer.
Those students are flocking to local universities inspired by southern California's own success stories, including Internet search engine Overture Services of Pasadena, which Yahoo Inc. bought for $1.3 billion; MySpace, which News Corp. bought for $650 million; YouTube channel producer Maker Studios of Culver City, which sold to Disney in May for up to $950 million; and virtual reality headset maker Oculus of Irvine, which agreed to a $2 billion sale to Facebook in March.
Meanwhile, venture capitalists continue to pour more money into Southern California startups. In the first nine months of this year, venture capitalists invested $1.6 billion in startups based in Los Angeles County and neighboring Orange County. That's up 26 percent from the same time last year, according to figures compiled by PricewaterCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.
That's still a pittance compared to Silicon Valley, where venture capital investments nearly doubled to $17 billion during the same period.
DeWolfe, who shuttles between Social Gaming Network's Beverly Hills headquarters and a San Francisco office, doubts Silicon Beach will ever come close to matching Silicon Valley's technology prowess. "There is something about Silicon Valley lore that you will never be able to reproduce, no matter how much you say you want to," he says.
That doesn't mean Silicon Valley can't be toppled from its perch, Case cautions. "It's important to never get cocky or complacent. Fifty or 60 years ago, Detroit was like the Silicon Valley of its day. You have to constantly attract talent and constantly innovate."
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 50 years ago, scientists found bones of two large, powerful dinosaur arms in Mongolia and figured they had discovered a fearsome critter with killer claws.
Now scientists have found the rest of the dinosaur and have new descriptions for it: goofy and weird.
The beast probably lumbered along on two legs like a cross between TV dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks of Star Wars fame. It was 16 feet tall and 36 feet long, weighing seven tons, with a duckbill on its head and a hump-like sail on its back. Throw in those killer claws, tufts of feathers here and there, and no teeth — and try not to snicker.
And if that's not enough, it ate like a giant vacuum cleaner.
That's Deinocheirus mirificus (DY'-noh'-KY-ruhs mur-IHF'-ee-kuhs), which means "terrible hands that look peculiar." It is newly reimagined after a full skeleton was found in Mongolia and described in a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature. Some 70 million years old, it's an ancestral relative of the modern ostrich and belongs to the dinosaur family often called ostrich dinosaurs.
"Deinocheirus turned out to be one the weirdest dinosaurs beyond our imagination," study lead author Yuong-Nam Lee, director of the Geological Museum in Daejeon, South Korea, said in an email.
When scientists in 1965 found the first forearm bones — nearly 8 feet long — many of them envisioned "a creature that would strike terror in people," said University of Maryland dinosaur expert Thomas Holtz Jr, who wasn't part of the study. "Now it's a creature that would strike bemusement, amazement."
And yes, he said, "it's pretty goofy."
The find is tremendous but is a cautionary tale about jumping to conclusions without enough evidence, said University of Chicago dinosaur expert Paul Sereno, who wasn't part of the discovery.
It also reminds us that evolution isn't always what we think, Sereno said.
"This is evolution in a dinosaur — not a mammal — world," Sereno said in email. "The starting point is a two-legged animal looking somewhat like a fuzzy-feathered ostrich. Now you want to get really big and suck up lots of soft vegetation. In the end you look like a goofy Michelin ostrich with fuzz and a tail — not a cow."
Lee figures the tilted wide hips and massive feet show that Deinocheirus was a slow mover and probably grew so big to escape from being regularly feasted on by bigger dinosaurs.
It had a beak that could eat plants, but it also had a massive tongue that created suction for vacuuming up food from the bottoms of streams, lakes and ponds, Lee wrote.
Originally Lee's team couldn't find the dinosaur's skull, but a tip from another researcher led them to recover it from the private market in Germany.
Some kids will soon adopt this dinosaur as their favorite, Holtz said, "and those are kids with a sense of humor."
CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — A man who allegedly confessed to killing seven women in Indiana refused to even acknowledge his name to the judge Wednesday during his initial court appearance, and a sheriff explained later that the suspect was upset his hearing was in open court before dozens of journalists.
The judge asked Darren Vann, 43, of Gary, Indiana, if he swore to tell the truth and to also confirm his name at an initial court appearance in the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy. But Vann stood unmoving and stone-faced, staring back silently at the judge.
After a pause, Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan warned Vann as he stood before her in striped jail garb and with his wrists and legs shackled that he would be held in contempt. He still declined to speak, neither shaking his head nor uttering a word.
"Mr. Vann, are you choosing not to take part in this hearing?" Sullivan asked Vann during the hearing, which was in a hearing room at the Lake County Jail in Crown Point.
Sullivan then addressed Vann's public defender, Matthew Fech, urging him to advise his client speak.
"Tell your client that he stays in jail the rest of his life until this hearing takes place," she said.
Vann's public defender walked up to Vann and put his hand on his shoulder, encouraging him to speak. But he again offered no response.
The judge then found him in contempt and said she would schedule another initial hearing for next week.
Before entering the courtroom, Vann had peered through a window at spectator benches, asking his guards why so many journalists were there and refusing to even enter, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich told reporters later. Vann's lawyer finally convinced Vann to at least enter the room, he added.
Until Wednesday morning's hearing, the sheriff said Vann's demeanor had been "quiet, calm and collected," which included confessing to investigators and leading police to abandoned homes where several bodies were hidden.
Vann is already being held in isolation and is on 24-hour-a-day watch at the county jail, Bunich said, so it's unclear how the contempt charge will alter his status. His silence, if it persists, could raise complicated legal questions that might severely slow the prosecution process.
At the less than 10 minute hearing, the judge also issued a gag order, meaning investigators can no longer interview Vann unless they first get his permission through his attorney, Buncich said. It's unclear if Vann will, in fact, stop speaking to authorities about the killings. His public defender did not comment after the hearing.
Vann, a convicted sex offender, is charged with the strangulation death of Hardy, whose body was found Friday in a bathtub at a Motel 6 in Hammond, 20 miles southeast of Chicago. Authorities said Hardy was involved in prostitution and had arranged to meet Vann at the motel through a Chicago-area website.
Police arrested him Saturday in Hardy's death after obtaining a search warrant for Vann's vehicle and home in nearby Gary. After his arrest, investigators say Vann directed them to the bodies of six other women in Gary whom they say he also confessed to killing. More charges are likely.
Officers found the body of 35-year-old Anith Jones, of Merrillville, Indiana, on Saturday night in an abandoned home. She had been missing since Oct. 8.
Five more bodies were found Sunday in other homes, said Hammond Police Chief John Doughty, who identified two of the women as Gary residents Teaira Batey, 28, and Kristine Williams, 36. Police have not determined the identities of the other three women, including two whose bodies were found on the same block where Jones' body was found Saturday.
Investigators in Indiana and Texas, where he has also lived and served prison time, have been poring over cold case files and missing person reports to determine if there are more victims.
Vann was convicted in 2009 of raping a woman in his Austin, Texas, apartment. He was released from prison last year and moved back to Indiana.
Before that conviction, he served a year in prison in Indiana after he grabbed a Gary woman in a chokehold in 2004, doused her with gasoline and threatened to set her on fire.
In both the Texas and Indiana cases, the charges against Vann were reduced in plea bargains, and Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. Vann registered as a sex offender in Indiana and police made a routine check in September that he lived at the address he provided.
Most Americans say they dislike both the Republicans and the Democrats, but a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds more of them now say they would like the GOP to control Congress over the Democrats. That's in part because, on major issues including the economy and protecting the country, Republicans have gained an edge as the more trusted party among likely voters. But one major issue making headlines recently does not appear to be making much difference in how Americans are viewing the election, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.
Five things to know from the AP-GfK poll: Four that are shaping the contest, and one that likely won't.
THE ECONOMY, STILL TOPS
Most Americans remain deeply concerned about the direction of the economy, and the GOP is in a position to take advantage of that concern. Sixty-one percent of Americans describe the economy as poor, while only 38 percent say that it is good. Nine in 10 likely voters call the economy an extremely or very important issue, topping all other issues tested in the poll by more than 10 percentage points.
The new poll shows the two parties about even on which one adults trust to handle the economy, but among those most likely to cast a ballot in November, Republicans have the edge, 39 percent to 31 percent. The Republican advantage on the economy is more pronounced among men (14 points) than among women (3 points).
TERRORISM AND THE ISLAMIC STATE
Fears of terrorism, as well as the threat posed by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, continue to be top issues for Americans, and Republicans have an edge on handling both issues. Likely voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on protecting the country, 42 percent to 20 percent, and on handling international crises, 35 percent to 25 percent. Republicans also hold a smaller lead on handling the U.S. image abroad, 33 percent to 27 percent.
As airstrikes in Syria and Iraq continue, the poll suggests concerns about the Islamic State group may be retreating in importance. The percentage of likely voters saying the threat posed by the Islamic State is an extremely or very important issue fell 6 points to 73 percent, while the share calling terrorism (76 percent) or the U.S. role in world affairs (66 percent) important issues held steady.
THE EXPECTATIONS GAME
Most likely voters now say they think the Republican Party will capture control of Congress, putting the voting public largely in line with the most prominent election forecasters.
Voters' expectations aren't quite as black and white as those of electoral prognosticators, however. Combining a question about which party voters think will win the Senate with one on who they think will win the House, half of likely voters (50 percent) predict the Republicans will both capture the Senate and retain the House, while 22 percent think things will stay just as they are. Those who think the election will result in both a Democratic takeover of the House and a hold in the Senate make up 23 percent of likely voters. And a scant 5 percent think both houses of Congress will change hands, an outcome predicted by roughly zero election-watchers. Among those likely voters who say they are paying "a great deal" of attention to news about the election, just 2 percent foresee that outcome.
PREFERRED DOESN'T MEAN LOVED
Likely voters in the new poll say they would prefer to have the Republicans win control of Congress (47 percent) in greater numbers than favor the Democrats (39 percent). But there are few signs in the poll that the preference extends beyond the ballot box.
Majorities have unfavorable opinions of each party: 57 percent dislike the Democrats (including 13 percent of Democrats) while 54 percent are repelled by the Republicans (17 percent of Republicans report unfavorable views of their own party). Seventy percent say they're angry or dissatisfied with the Republican leaders in Congress, 62 percent with the Obama administration.
And none of either party's congressional leaders generates much love among the likely electorate. On the House side, both Nancy Pelosi (61 percent unfavorable) and John Boehner (55 percent unfavorable) inspire more dislike than affection, and in the Senate, Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid merit favorable reviews from just 22 percent each. McConnell is a bit less well-known and generates fewer unfavorable reviews (40 percent see him unfavorably) than his Democratic peer (50 percent unfavorable).
Although three-quarters of Americans see the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak as an important issue, neither party stands out to most voters as more trustworthy than the other on handling public health issues like it.
The Ebola outbreak is one of the top issues on voters' minds as Election Day approaches, with 74 percent saying it is a very or extremely important issue. And likely voters aren't happy with the administration's response, as 56 percent say they disapprove of Obama's handling of the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak.
But that doesn't mean either party is poised to take advantage of Ebola fears come Nov. 4. More than half of likely voters say either that they trust both parties equally (29 percent) or that they trust neither party (24 percent) to address public health issues like Ebola. Respondents who do have a favored party on the issue are about evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, 25 percent to 22 percent. Among those likely voters who call the issue "extremely important," Republicans do have an edge, 31 percent to 19 percent, yet 49 percent decline to choose one over the other.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20, using KnowledgePanel, GfK's probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents. Among 968 likely voters, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.6 points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — A Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial in the country's capital was shot to death Wednesday, and heavy gunfire then erupted inside Parliament. One gunman was killed, and police said they were hunting for as many as two others.
The bloodshed immediately raised the specter of a coordinated terrorist attack, with Canada already on alert because of a deadly hit-and-run earlier in the week against two Canadian soldiers by a man who police say was fired up with radical Muslim fervor.
Witnesses said the soldier was gunned down at point-blank range by a man carrying a rifle and dressed all in black, with a scarf over his face. They said the gunman then ran off and entered Parliament, a few hundred yards away, where dozens of shots soon rang out.
People fled the complex by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, while others took cover inside as police with rifles and body armor took up positions outside and cordoned off the normally bustling streets around Parliament.
Police gave no details on how the gunman died. But on Twitter, Member of Parliament Craig Scott credited Parliament sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers with shooting the attacker just outside the MPs' caucus rooms.
Ottawa police spokesman Chuck Benoit said two or three gunmen were believed to be involved in the attacks.
Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, called it a "dynamic, unfolding situation."
Ottawa Hospital said it received two patients, both listed in stable condition, in addition to the soldier.
"Today is a sad and tragic day for our city and our country," Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said. He said it was a tragedy with "origins as yet not fully known, causes not yet fully understood."
In Washington, President Barack Obama condemned the shootings as "outrageous," and in a telephone call with the prime minister, offered U.S. help and reassurance of the American people's solidarity with Canada.
The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa was locked down as a precaution, and security was tightened at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington.
Tony Zobl said he witnessed the soldier being gunned down from his fourth-floor window directly above the National War Memorial, a 70-foot, arched granite cenotaph, or tomb, with bronze sculptures commemorating World War I.
"I looked out the window and saw a shooter, a man dressed all in black with a kerchief over his nose and mouth and something over his head as well, holding a rifle and shooting an honor guard in front of the cenotaph point-blank, twice," Zobl told the Canadian Press news agency.
"The honor guard dropped to the ground, and the shooter kind of raised his arms in triumph holding the rifle."
Zobl said the gunman then ran up the street toward Parliament Hill.
Cabinet minister Tony Clement tweeted that at least 30 shots were heard inside Parliament, where Conservative and Liberal MPs were holding their weekly caucus meetings.
"I'm safe locked in a office awaiting security," Kyle Seeback, another member of Parliament, tweeted.
The top spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Harper was safe and had left Parliament Hill.
Officials canceled two events in Toronto honoring Pakistani teenager and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, including one in which she was supposed to receive honorary Canadian citizenship. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for supporting schooling for girls.
The attack came two days after a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier and injured another with his car before being shot to death by police.
The killer had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.
Canada had raised its domestic terror threat level from low to medium Tuesday because of what it called "an increase in general chatter from radical Islamist organizations."
In the hours after Wednesday's attack, police warned people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and rooftops.
Scott Walsh, a construction worker who was in a manhole in front of Parliament Hill, said he heard the shots at the war memorial.
"We're in construction and we're used to loud bangs. When people started screaming and running, that's when I clued, and I saw this guy running" with a gun, he said. "It was intense. I didn't think it was real. "
He said the gunman had long black hair with a scarf covering the lower half of his face.
Gillies reported from Toronto. Associated Press writer Benjamin Shingler also contributed to this report.