US blames Iran for Saudi strike; big hit for oil prices
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. tried to build its case Monday that Iran was behind the fiery weekend attack on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities that raised new war worries and sent energy prices soaring. Iran denied responsibility, while President Donald Trump said the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond if necessary.
American officials released satellite images of the damage at the heart of the kingdom's crucial Abqaiq oil processing plant and a key oil field, and two U.S. officials said the attacker used multiple cruise missiles and drone aircraft.
The Americans alleged the pattern of destruction suggested Saturday's attack did not come from neighboring Yemen, as claimed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there. A Saudi military spokesman later made a similar accusation, alleging "Iranian weapons" had been used in the assault.
Iran rejected the allegations, and a government spokesman said there now was "absolutely no chance" of a hoped-for meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Trump at the U.N. General Assembly next week.
For his part, Trump sent mixed signals, saying his "locked and loaded" government waited for Saudi confirmation of Iran being behind the attack while later tweeting that the U.S. didn't need Mideast oil "but will help our Allies!"
Can Purdue Pharma's opioid settlement win judge's approval?
BOSTON (AP) — OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma has embarked on a multibillion-dollar plan to settle thousands of lawsuits over the nation's deadly opioid crisis by transforming itself in bankruptcy court into a sort of hybrid between a business and a charity.
Whether the company can pull it off remains to be seen, especially with about half the states opposed to the deal.
The pharmaceutical giant filed for bankruptcy late Sunday, step one in a plan it says would provide $10 billion to $12 billion to help reimburse state and local governments and clean up the damage done by powerful prescription painkillers and illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl, which together have been blamed for more than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. in the past two decades.
The plan calls for turning Purdue into a "public benefit trust" that would continue selling opioids but hand its profits over to those who have sued the company. The Sackler family would give up ownership of Purdue and contribute at least $3 billion toward the settlement.
It will be up to a federal bankruptcy judge to decide whether to approve or reject the settlement or seek modifications.
GM walkout brings factories and warehouses to a standstill
DETROIT (AP) — More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers went on strike Monday against General Motors, bringing more than 50 factories and parts warehouses to a standstill in the union's first walkout against the No. 1 U.S. automaker in over a decade.
Workers left factories and formed picket lines shortly after midnight in the dispute over a new four-year contract. The union's top negotiator said in a letter to the company that the strike could have been averted had the company made its latest offer sooner.
The letter dated Sunday suggests that the company and union are not as far apart as the rhetoric leading up to the strike had indicated. Negotiations continued Monday in Detroit after breaking off during the weekend.
But union spokesman Brian Rothenberg said the two sides have come to terms on only 2% of the contract. "We've got 98% to go," he said Monday.
Asked about the possibility of federal mediation, President Donald Trump, said it's possible if the company and union want it.
AP source: New York prosecutors subpoena Trump's tax returns
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City prosecutors have subpoenaed President Donald Trump's tax returns, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Monday.
Manhattan District Attorney's Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office recently sent a subpoena to Trump's accounting firm seeking the last eight years of state and federal tax returns for Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, the person said.
The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Asked about the subpoena as he left the White House on Monday, Trump said: "I don't know anything about it." A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Marc Mukasey, said he is "evaluating the situation and will respond as appropriate."
Vance, a Democrat, subpoenaed the Trump Organization last month for records related to payments Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, helped arrange to a porn actress who claimed she had an affair with Trump. His office is also pursuing a state mortgage fraud case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Times faces questions all around for Kavanaugh story
NEW YORK (AP) — Between an offensive tweet and a significant revision, the New York Times' handling of a new sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh attracted almost as much attention as the accusation itself.
The story also gave President Donald Trump and his allies fresh ammunition in his campaign against the media, where the Times was already a favorite target.
The revelation that led several Democratic presidential contenders to call for Kavanaugh's impeachment came in the 11th paragraph of a story labeled "news analysis" that ran in the Sunday opinion section. The story is based on an upcoming book by Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, "The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation," about the junior justice's brutal confirmation battle last year.
Headlined "Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not," the story was primarily about Deborah Ramirez, a Connecticut woman who alleged that Kavanaugh, as a freshman at Yale in 1983, had pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her. Kavanaugh has denied those claims.
Yet the authors said they'd uncovered a similar story involving Kavanaugh at another freshman year party, where he allegedly exposed himself and friends pushed his penis into the hands of a female student. The story said former classmate Max Stier reported the incident to the FBI and senators as Kavanaugh's nomination was being discussed, but said Stier would not discuss it with the authors. Kavanaugh would not comment on the story, a court spokeswoman said on Monday.
On vote eve, Netanyahu vows total West Bank settlement annex
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday to annex "all the settlements" in the West Bank, including an enclave deep in the heart of the largest Palestinian city, in a last-ditch move that appeared aimed at shoring up nationalist support the day before a do-over election.
Locked in a razor tight race and with legal woes hanging over him, Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival. In the final weeks of his campaign he has been doling out hard-line promises meant to draw more voters to his Likud party and re-elect him in Tuesday's unprecedented repeat vote.
"I intend to extend sovereignty on all the settlements and the (settlement) blocs," including "sites that have security importance or are important to Israel's heritage," Netanyahu said in an interview with Israeli Army Radio, part of an eleventh-hour media blitz.
Asked if that included the hundreds of Jews who live under heavy military guard amid tens of thousands of Palestinians in the volatile city of Hebron, Netanyahu responded "of course."
Israelis head to the polls Tuesday in the second election this year, after Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition following April's vote, sparking the dissolution of parliament.
$2B waterway through Deep South yet to yield promised boom
EPES, Ala. (AP) — More than a century in the making, the 234-mile (376-kilometer) Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway was supposed to fulfill a dream of "orderly growth and prosperity" when it opened in 1985, snaking its way through the poor, rural Deep South.
It hasn't worked out that way.
Delayed for decades by environmental concerns and detractors who called the project a boondoggle, the $2 billion shipping shortcut to the Gulf of Mexico — best known as the Tenn-Tom, or more derisively, the "big ditch" — has never come close to traffic projections used to sell it to the public, and poverty rates have increased in most of the counties it flows through in Mississippi and Alabama.
There are pockets of relative prosperity where the manmade waterway connecting the Tennessee River from Pickwick Lake to the Black Warrior-Tombigbee River system near Demopolis has helped lure industry. Yet these days, someone fishing along its banks is about as likely to see retirees headed to the Florida Keys on their cabin cruiser as they are a tugboat pushing a string of barges.
"It was the greatest thing that was going to happen. It was the thing. It was the hope," body shop owner Walter Porter said. "Now it's just a ditch."
Many US women say 1st sexual experience was forced in teens
CHICAGO (AP) — The first sexual experience for 1 in 16 U.S. women was forced or coerced intercourse in their early teens, encounters that for some may have had lasting health repercussions, a study suggests.
The experiences amount to rape, the authors say, although they relied on a national survey that didn't use the word in asking women about forced sex.
Almost 7 percent of women surveyed said their first sexual intercourse experience was involuntary; it happened at age 15 on average and the man was often several years older.
Almost half of those women who said intercourse was involuntary said they were held down and slightly more than half of them said they were verbally pressured to have sex against their will.
"Any sexual encounter (with penetration) that occurs against somebody's will is rape. If somebody is verbally pressured into having sex, it's just as much rape," said lead author Dr. Laura Hawks, an internist and Harvard Medical School researcher.
Noise but no breakthrough as Johnson, Juncker talk Brexit
LUXEMBOURG (AP) — Boris Johnson was booed by protesters and berated by Luxembourg's leader on a visit to the tiny nation Monday for his first face-to-face talks with the European Union chief about securing an elusive Brexit deal.
On a day of commotion and conflicting signals, Johnson pulled out of a news conference because of noisy anti-Brexit demonstrators, leaving Luxembourg's prime minister standing alone next to an empty lectern as he addressed the media.
Still, Johnson insisted there was a strong possibility of securing a divorce agreement before Britain is due to leave the 28-nation bloc in just over six weeks.
"Yes there is a good chance of a deal. Yes, I can see the shape of it," Johnson asserted at a separate appearance before reporters at the British ambassador's residence.
EU leaders were far more skeptical.
Propane blast kills firefighter, injures his brother, others
FARMINGTON, Maine (AP) — A fierce propane explosion leveled a newly constructed building after fire crews arrived to investigate the smell of gas Monday, killing one firefighter and injuring at least eight other people, including fellow firefighters, officials said.
The blast was so powerful it blew a vehicle across an intersection and damaged nearby buildings. Paper, insulation and building debris rained on the area.
The explosion shattered the two-story building that housed LEAP Inc., a nonprofit that serves people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, just a couple of months after it was finished.
"It's a war zone. It's just a mess," said Scott Landry, a member of the Farmington Town Select Board. "The building is gone."
The blast killed 68-year-old Fire Capt. Michael Bell and injured his brother, Fire Chief Terry Bell; five other firefighters; a maintenance worker for LEAP; and an ambulance worker, officials said.