AP Top News at 7:10 p.m. EDT

Associated Press
President Barack Obama speaks during a rally for Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010, at the University of Washington in Seattle. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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In a last-ditch effort to prevent electoral disaster, President Barack Obama and Democratic allies are vigorously wooing women voters, whose usually reliable support appears to have softened. From blunt TV ads to friendlier backyard chats, they're straining to persuade women that it's the Democrats who are on their side and it's in women's vital interest to turn out and vote in the Nov. 2 elections that could give Republicans control of one or both houses of Congress.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Anyone who's spent much time near parked cars has likely heard Rep. Darrell Issa's stern voice: "Protected by Viper. Stand back." After next month's election, Americans may be hearing a lot more from the millionaire congressman and car alarm inventor. Already President Barack Obama's chief antagonist in Congress, Issa, R-Calif., would take over the main House investigating committee and control its probes of the White House and the federal bureaucracy if Republicans win back the House.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators from both parties criticized Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday for signaling likely U.S. support for a $7 billion pipeline to carry Canadian oil to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Sens. Mike Johanns and Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jeff Merkley of Oregon called Clinton's comments premature and damaging to the integrity of the federal review process. The lawmakers cautioned Clinton to consider all sides before deciding whether to grant a permit allowing TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline to cross the U.S-Canadian border.

BAGHDAD (AP) — American influence has so dwindled in Iraq over the last several months that Iraqi lawmakers and political leaders say they no longer follow Washington's advice for forming a government. Instead, Iraqis are turning to neighboring nations, and especially Iran, for guidance — casting doubt on the future of the American role in this strategic country after a grinding war that killed more than 4,400 U.S. soldiers.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is bracing for the imminent disclosure by the WikiLeaks website of a vast cache of secret U.S. Iraq war documents, which could throw a light on some of the darkest episodes of that conflict. WikiLeaks, a self-described whistle-blower website, is expected to post up to 400,000 documents online this week after having shared them in advance with several news organizations.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey's governor wants to kill a $9 billion-plus train tunnel to New York City because of runaway costs. Six thousand miles away, Hawaii's outgoing governor is having second thoughts about a proposed $5.5 billion rail line in Honolulu. In many of the 48 states in between, infrastructure projects are languishing on the drawing board, awaiting the right mix of creative financing, political arm-twisting and timing to move forward. And a struggling economy and a surge of political candidates opposed to big spending could make it a long wait.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California businessman who spent more than two years in an Iranian prison after being accused of passing money to a rebel group was returning home Thursday. Reza Taghavi, 71, was due to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 8:30 p.m. with his attorney, former U.S. diplomat Pierre Prosper, who won Taghavi's release after talks with Iranian envoys.

WASHINGTON (AP) — "I'm not a bigot," longtime news analyst Juan Williams said. Then he talked about getting nervous on a plane when he sees people in Muslim dress. Fair game for one of his employers, Fox News Channel, but a firable offense for the other, NPR. Muslim groups were outraged, saying that Williams' remarks Monday on Fox's "The O'Reilly Factor" endorsed the idea that all Muslims should be viewed with suspicion. But conservatives and even some liberals said NPR went too far in axing his contract for being honest about his feelings in an interview where he also said it is important to distinguish moderate Muslims from extremists.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When NASA blasted a hole in the moon last year in search of water, scientists figured there would be a splash. They just didn't know how big. Now new results from the Hollywood-esque moonshot reveal lots of water in a crater where the sun never shines — 41 gallons of ice and vapor. That may not sound like much — it's what a typical washing machine uses for a load — but it's almost twice as much as researchers had initially measured and more than they ever expected to find.

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Police have launched an investigation after discovering that a Southern California woman drove around for months with a homeless woman's mummified body in her passenger seat. Costa Mesa police said Thursday they discovered the body after receiving a call about a car that was blocking a driveway.

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