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CHICAGO (AP) — In a modest milestone for President Barack Obama's high-speed rail vision, test runs will start zooming along a small section of the Amtrak line between Chicago and St. Louis at 110 mph on Friday. The 30-mph increase from the route's current top speed is a morale booster for advocates of high-speed rail in America who have watched conservatives in Congress put the brakes on spending for fast train projects they view as expensive boondoggles. But some rail experts question whether the route will become profitable, pose serious competition to air and automobile travel, or ever reach speeds comparable to the bullet trains blasting across Europe and Asia at 150 mph and faster.
MORROW, Ga. (AP) — When Georgia officials announced plans to severely restrict public access to its state archives, it set off a firestorm not only among scholars and people tracing their family roots, but national historical groups. Archives supporters expressed outrage at plans to limit access to appointments-only on six days a month to view some of the state's most valuable papers, from the fading parchment of the 1798 Georgia state constitution to Jimmy Carter's 1976 statement of candidacy. They collected more than 17,000 signatures on an online petition, rallied at the State Capitol and hired a lobbyist.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi has long been one of the sickest and poorest states in America, with some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease and more than 1 in 7 residents without insurance. And so you might think Mississippi would jump at the prospect of billions of federal dollars to expand Medicaid. You'd be wrong.
NEW YORK (AP) — A Bangladeshi man snared in an FBI terror sting considered targeting a high-ranking government official and the New York Stock Exchange before authorities say he raised the bar by picking one New York City's most fortified sites: The Federal Reserve. In a September meeting with an undercover agent posing as a fellow jihadist, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis explained he chose the Federal reserve as his car bomb target "for operational reasons," according to a criminal complaint. Nafis also indicated he knew that choice would "cause a large number of civilian casualties, including women and children," the complaint said.
HONOLULU (AP) — In life, Mother Marianne Cope was known for her strength and kindness, battling bureaucrats in Hawaii as she led a group of fellow Franciscan nuns to care for leprosy patients in the islands. And since her death 100 years ago, she has been credited with helping cure two people.
NARBERTH, Pa. (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter was an "irreplaceable" force who approached politics — and life — with grit and determination, a who's who of politicians and others said Tuesday at the longtime senator's funeral. "I've never seen as much undaunted courage as Arlen had — both physically and politically. He believed he could change the world, if he just worked hard enough at it," Vice President Joe Biden told mourners, including three Pennsylvania governors, federal judges and hundreds of friends, at Har Zion Temple in Narberth, a Philadelphia suburb.
NARBERTH, Pa. (AP) — A law school friend of Arlen Specter says the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania did not let his illness deter him from teaching law school students just days before his death. Speaking Tuesday at Specter's funeral, U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois says Specter taught one last law class on Oct. 4 at the University of Pennsylvania Law School on the relationship between Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.
DENVER (AP) — It's not all hippies backing November's marijuana legalization votes in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Appealing to Western individualism and a mistrust of federal government, activists have lined up some prominent conservatives, from one-time presidential hopefuls Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul to Republican-turned-Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.
MARYSVILLE, Mont. (AP) — A day spent with Montana's Brian Schweitzer riding four-wheelers and talking politics makes it easy to understand why he's one of the most unusual — and most effective — governors in the country. At his ranch — and anywhere else — Schweitzer, a popular Democrat in a conservative state, never misses a chance to leave a lasting, even outlandish, impression. He loves every minute of it, including speculation about his political future once he steps down because of term limits in January.
DOS PALOS, Calif. (AP) — Cannon Michael is a folk hero across California's agriculture heartland, where these days the price of scrap metal influences a farmer's bottom line as much that of the fine pima cotton he grows. When thieves tore up yet another pricey water pump for the few dollars' worth of copper wire that energize it, the frustrated farmer considered taping $100 bills to the rebuilt system hoping crooks would just grab the easy money next time.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — After returning to the governor's office, Jerry Brown criticized a political culture he said lacked a common purpose and warned of a "war of all against all" unless the sniping camps learned to compromise and fix California's persistent budget problems. Those efforts failed, and now the Democratic governor finds himself fighting his own political battle as he tries to persuade voters to pass a $6 billion tax increase on the November ballot that he says is crucial for closing the state's deficit.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four weeks before the election, Republicans used a politically charged House hearing to confront State Department officials about security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya and assail the Obama administration's early response to the killing of the ambassador and three other Americans there. GOP lawmakers refused to accept the department's explanation Wednesday that protection judged adequate for the threat was overwhelmed by an unprecedented assault in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — For years, vacationers and farmers across northern Wisconsin and Minnesota have heard the eerie howl of the gray wolf and fretted the creatures were lurking around their cabins and pastures, eying up Fido or Bessie. The tables are about to turn: Both states plan to launch their first organized wolf hunts in the coming weeks. The hunts won't be anything on the scale of the two states' beloved whitetail deer hunts, when hundreds of thousands of hunters rearrange work and school schedules and fan out across the woods. Both states have limited the number of wolves hunters can kill and capped the number of permits, creating an exclusive club of hunters who will get what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take on the wiliest of predators.
BOSTON (AP) — The specialty pharmacy linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak may have misled regulators and done work beyond the scope of its state license, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Wednesday. Meanwhile, a second pharmacy connected to the New England Compounding Center in Framingham has shut down for state and federal inspection.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of three federal judges upheld a South Carolina law requiring voters to show photo identification, but delayed enforcement until next year, in a decision announced Wednesday, less than a month before this year's presidential election. In a unanimous ruling, the judges said there was no discriminatory intent behind the law, ruling that it would not diminish African-Americans' voting rights because people who face a "reasonable impediment" to getting an acceptable photo ID can still vote if they sign an affidavit.
WASHINGTON (AP) — To prepare for his biggest test yet on the national stage, untested debater Paul Ryan has been hauling two thick briefing books around the country and intently studying up on Vice President Joe Biden, who has been sparring over public policy since the Wisconsin congressman was learning how to talk. Ryan, the 42-year-old Republican vice presidential nominee, has suggested his youth will be an asset in connecting with voters at the sole vice presidential debate Thursday in Kentucky against the 69-year-old former senator. But risks abound for the GOP rising star, who hasn't participated in a campaign debate since his first run for office 14 years ago.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Former U.S. House Majority Leader and GOP heavyweight Tom DeLay is getting ready to make his case to an appeals court that his 2010 conviction for taking part in a scheme to influence Texas elections should be overturned. Attorneys for DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and the Travis County District Attorney's Office, were set to make oral arguments Wednesday before the 3rd Court of Appeals.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — State leaders — and drivers — hope to see gasoline prices drop soon, now that California officials have approved the release of "winter-blend" fuel that is expected to help bolster the state's supplies. State air pollution regulators say California's air quality isn't expected to get worse after the governor ordered the release of a dirtier blend of gasoline to help slash record-high pump prices.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — State air pollution regulators said Monday that California's air quality is not expected to worsen appreciably after the governor ordered the release of a dirtier blend of gasoline to help slash record-high pump prices. The California Air Resources Board issued a regulatory advisory a day earlier after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered them to allow so-called "winter-blend" gasoline to be sold in California earlier than usual to increase supply.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Republicans tried to distance themselves Saturday from a Republican state representative's assertion that slavery was a "blessing in disguise" and a Republican state House candidate who advocates deporting all Muslims. The claims were made in books written, respectively, by Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro and House candidate Charlie Fuqua of Batesville. Those books received attention on Internet news sites Friday.