CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Democratic New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan announced Monday she would challenge Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, setting the stage for a highly competitive race that will be critical in determining majority control of the Senate in the next president’s first year.
Hassan, who made her announcement in an online video, said she’s running to bring a bipartisan, common-sense governing approach to Washington that mirrors that of New Hampshire. She said Washington has given in to powerful special interests and lobbyists who rig the system against the middle class.
As evidence of dysfunction in Washington, she pointed to Republican efforts to end the president’s health care law, which would jeopardize Medicaid expansion, and the fact that people can’t refinance their student loans.
“The people of New Hampshire deserve better, and in order for us to make progress, we need to have the kind of bipartisan, problem-solving, results-driven approach that I’ve led here,” Hassan told The Associated Press.
Hassan, a two-term governor, has long been considered Democrats’ best chance of beating Ayotte, a former attorney general who won her seat during the 2010 Republican wave election. Democratic voter turnout spikes in New Hampshire in presidential years, handing the party a win here in 2008 and 2012. Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, the party’s front-runner for the presidential nomination, won the 2008 primary and has long been popular in the state, marking another potential hurdle for Ayotte.
Hassan, 57, is one of the last major Democratic recruits to jump into the 2016 race. New Hampshire joins Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and several other states as keys to control of the Senate, and the race between Hassan and Ayotte is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars. Ayotte raised $1.6 million in the third fundraising quarter and has $5 million cash on hand.
In a statement, Ayotte said she expects a spirited campaign and is seeking re-election to fight for “better opportunities and a brighter future for our kids and our state.”
Hassan’s announcement comes just more than two weeks after reaching a deal with legislators allowing an $11.3 billion budget plan to go into effect after a months-long stalemate with GOP lawmakers over business tax cuts.
Hassan comfortably won re-election in 2014, campaigning on a message of a bipartisanship that hinged on the state budget and passage of Medicaid expansion in early 2014. More than 42,000 people signed up for insurance under the expansion, but the law will sunset at the end of next year if lawmakers don’t vote to reauthorize it in the upcoming session. It’s a fight that is likely to suck up most of the political oxygen in Concord early next year.
Hassan cites several accomplishments in her campaign kick-off, including freezing tuition at state universities, lowering it at community colleges and doubling the research and development tax credit.
Women’s issues are likely to be a major focus of the 2016 campaign. Ayotte does not support government funding for Planned Parenthood, which has been questioned in recent months for providing fetal tissue from abortions for research. But Ayotte warned her fellow GOP lawmakers last week against shutting down the government over funding for the organization.
Hassan said key political differences with Ayotte include the incumbent’s opposition to that Planned Parenthood funding and her votes for budgets that would have turned Medicare into a voucher program and reduced Pell grants.
Republicans, meanwhile, charge Hassan with being a tax-and-spend liberal. In her initial budget proposal this year, Hassan proposed raising the cigarette tax and car registration fees.
“Hassan’s playbook of more taxes, more spending, and bigger government has not worked for New Hampshire families and small businesses,” Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the state Republican party, said in a statement.
Ayotte launched her re-election bid during the summer. One of a few female GOP senators, Ayotte rose quickly to national prominence and has become a leading Republican voice on national security and other issues, an area where Hassan is lacking experience. Ayotte is often mentioned as a potential vice presidential candidate.
NOWATA, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma police officer faces criminal charges for allegedly battering a man with the butt end of a shotgun during an arrest in June that was captured on video.
Owasso Police Lt. Michael Dwain Denton appeared with his attorney Monday in a Nowata County courtroom on a felony charge of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and a misdemeanor count of reckless conduct with a firearm. Denton was then booked into the Nowata County Jail and released on $5,000 bond.
Denton’s attorney Patrick Hunt says his use of force was justified.
The 49-year-old officer has been suspended with pay since June. The arrest was captured by the officer’s body cam and a dashcam.
Denton was fired in 2011 for using excessive force, but an arbitrator ordered him reinstated.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — A central Florida high school football coach is accused of hitting a referee after a disputed call, and he faces a battery charge.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that 36-year-old Leo Davis was arrested over the weekend.
Deputies say the referee was working a sophomore league game at Liberty High School in Kissimmee when he made a controversial call. Parents and coaches began arguing on the field, and officials say Davis hit the referee in the face before leaving the field.
The referee suffered minor injuries.
Davis told deputies he was trying to separate people fighting when he pushed the referee accidentally.
Deputies say video disputes that account.
Davis was being held on $1,000 bond at the Osceola County Jail. It wasn’t clear whether he’d hired a lawyer to contact for comment.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — In stories on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 about the bombing of a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in the Afghan city of Kunduz, The Associated Press reported erroneously that AP video appeared to show weaponry in the windows of the medical facility. Further review of the images cast doubt on whether they were rifles and a machine gun or simply debris from the bombing.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Doctors Without Borders: 19 dead in Afghan clinic airstrike
Doctors Without Borders says bombing of Afghan clinic kills at least 19, including 3 children
By LYNNE O’DONNELL
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Confusion reigned in the wake of the deadly bombing Saturday of a hospital compound in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz that killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens more. It remains unclear exactly who bombed the hospital run by Doctors Without Borders and the international medical charity has demanded an investigation into the incident.
Doctors Without Borders said that “all indications” pointed to the international military coalition as responsible for the bombing and called for an independent investigation. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said an inquiry was underway into whether the carnage at the clinic was caused by an airstrike from an American fighter jet, while Afghan officials said helicopter gunships had returned fire from Taliban fighters hiding in the compound.
Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been battling the Taliban street-by-street in Kunduz since Thursday to dislodge insurgents who seized the strategic city three days earlier in their biggest foray into a major urban area since the U.S.-led invasion of 2001. The insurgents have had the city encircled for months, and overran it in a surprise assault that embarrassed the U.S.-backed Afghan government and called into question the competence of the U.S.-funded Afghan armed forces.
Army Col. Brian Tribus, a spokesman for American forces in Afghanistan, said a U.S. airstrike on Kunduz at 2:15 a.m. “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility” and that the incident was under investigation. He said it was the 12th U.S. airstrike “in the Kunduz vicinity” since Tuesday.
Doctors Without Borders, also known by the French acronym MSF, said its trauma center “was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged.” At the time, the hospital had 105 patients and their caretakers, and more than 80 international and Afghan staff, it said.
The medical group did not say whether insurgents were present inside the compound as the Afghan Ministry of Defense claimed, and it was not immediately clear whether the staffers were killed by the Taliban or Afghan or U.S. forces. Doctors Without Borders said another 30 people were still missing after the incident.
The dead included 12 staffers and seven patients from the intensive care unit, among them three children, it said. A total of 37 people were injured, including 19 staff members, and 18 patients and caretakers. Five of the injured staff members were in critical condition.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani expressed his sorrow and said he and the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. John Campbell, had “agreed to launch a joint and thorough investigation.”
President Barack Obama said that he expected a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the bombing, and that he would wait for those results before making a judgment. He said the U.S. would continue working with Afghanistan’s government and its overseas partners to promote security in Afghanistan.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “strongly” condemned the airstrikes in Kunduz and said hospitals and medical personnel are “explicitly protected” under international humanitarian law, his spokesman’s office said in a statement.
Doctors Without Borders did not comment on the identities of the 30 missing people, but said all of its international staffers were alive and accounted for. It said it regularly updated its GPS coordinates with all parties to the conflict.
It said that from 2:08 a.m. to 3:15 a.m. Saturday, the hospital was hit by bombs at 15-minute intervals. It quoted Kunduz-based doctor Heman Nagarathnam as saying that planes repeatedly circled overhead during that time.
“There was a pause, and then more bombs hit. This happened again and again,” Nagarathnam said, according to the MSF statement. “When I made it out from the office, the main hospital building was engulfed in flames.”
“Those people that could, had moved quickly to the building’s two bunkers to seek safety. But patients who were unable to escape burned to death as they lay in their beds,” Nagarathnam said.
Airstrikes have been a point of contention between Afghan authorities and the U.S. military throughout the 14 years since the Taliban’s regime was ousted in a U.S. invasion in 2001 in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Kunduz has seen its share of mistaken bombings, notably in September 2009, when German forces called in a U.S. airstrike that killed more than 90 civilians.
The confusion over the airstrike overshadowed reports of human rights abuses and widespread looting committed by the Taliban before they began their retreat, leaving behind a city without water or electricity, and rapidly dwindling food and medicine supplies as roads into Kunduz were mined by the insurgents to thwart the government assault.
The Ministry of Defense said “terrorists” armed with light and heavy weapons had entered the hospital compound and used “the buildings and the people inside as a shield” while firing on security forces. Brig. Gen. Dawlat Waziri, the ministry’s deputy spokesman, told the AP that helicopter gunships fired on the militants, causing damage to the buildings.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said 10 to 15 “terrorists” had been hiding in the hospital at the time of the strike. “All of the terrorists were killed, but we also lost doctors,” he said. He said 80 staff members at the hospital, including 15 foreigners, had been taken to safety. He did not say what sort of strike had damaged the compound.
But Doctors Without Borders said “all indications currently point to the bombing being carried out by international coalition forces.”
The attack was a “grave violation of international humanitarian law,” it added. The MSF statement made no mention of whether Taliban fighters were present in the hospital.
The U.N. human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called the incident “tragic, inexcusable and possibly ever criminal.”
He said in a statement that “if established as deliberate in a court of law, an airstrike on a hospital may amount to a war crime.”
Fighting raged throughout the day, and at around 2 p.m., the Taliban seized the medical compound, according to Sarwar Hussaini, the spokesman for the provincial police chief. “Fighting is continuing between Afghan security forces and the Taliban,” he said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had earlier issued a statement saying there were no Taliban fighters in the hospital at the time of the bombing. He also accused Afghanistan’s intelligence service of deliberately directing airstrikes on the hospital. He said the Taliban would take revenge on the Americans and their Afghan “hirelings.”
Doctors Without Borders, which operates in conflict zones across the globe, said it had treated 394 people wounded in fighting since the Taliban attacked the city.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Humayoon Babur contributed to this report.
GROTON, Conn. (AP) — As NASA contemplates a manned voyage to Mars and the effects missions deeper into space could have on astronauts, it’s tapping research from another outfit with experience sending people to the deep: the U.S. Navy submarine force.
The space agency is working with a military laboratory at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, to measure how teams cope with stress during month-long simulations of space flight.
While one travels through outer space and the other the ocean’s depths, astronauts and submariners face many of the same challenges. Isolated for long stretches of time, they rely on crewmates for their lives in remote, inhospitable environments.
“We have a shared interest with the Navy in team resilience,” Brandon Vessey, a scientist with NASA’s human research program, told The Associated Press. “When you stick people together for a long period of time, how are they going to do?”
The Navy research that piqued NASA’s interest started about five years ago when the Groton-based Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, at the request of the submarine force, began examining ways to make tactical teams work together better.
Through observation of submarine crews, the Navy scientists developed a way to evaluate how teams are performing. The study singled out important team practices including dialogue, critical thinking and decision-making and developed a way to assess how teams respond to setbacks. The research was made available more than a year ago to submarines’ commanding officers, but it has not yet been institutionalized by the Navy.
“If this tool can identify precursors of when a team is about to change, that’s particularly what we’re hoping for,” said Jerry Lamb, the lab’s technical director.
The experiment with NASA is expected to begin in January or February. The space agency is taking a bigger interest in human behavior issues as it pursues the capability to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s.
NASA is using a capsule about the size of a two-bedroom apartment at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to study how astronauts might perform and behave during lengthy missions. Four volunteers at a time live and work for 30 days at a time aboard the habitat, known as the Human Exploration Research Analog, which includes an airlock and is supported by a small version of mission control.
Video and audio recordings of the subjects from the experiment with the Navy lab will be sent to scientists in Connecticut for their analysis.
Ronald Steed, a former submarine commander who participated in the Navy’s research, said the experience aboard a space ship will resemble that of submariners more as it travels farther into space and faces a longer delay in communications with Earth.
“Like a submarine commander can’t always call to shore, you can’t just call back to Earth for advice,” he said. “The commander’s going to have to have a set of tools that let him or her look at the crew and make a determination about where they are.”
The Major League Baseball playoffs begin this week, starting Tuesday night with the American League wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.
Big stars Andrew McCutchen, Prince Fielder and Zack Greinke, familiar faces David Wright, Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright and top rookies such as Kris Bryant fill the rosters of the 10 teams that reached the postseason.
A look at some of the themes going into October and beyond:
CURSED KERSHAW?: Clayton Kershaw has been the game’s best pitcher in recent years during the regular season, but has struggled mightily in the postseason. The Dodgers ace is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 11 career playoff appearances (three in relief), including four mostly miserable starts against the Cardinals over the last two Octobers. The three-time Cy Young winner won’t have to worry about St. Louis until the NL Championship Series, if at all, and instead turns his attention this week to an NL Division Series showdown versus the Mets, against whom he posted an 0.56 ERA in two starts this season.
FIRST-TIMERS: Jose Bautista is a home run champion, Jose Altuve is a hit machine and Jake Arrieta is the top winner in the majors. They’ll put something else on their resumes this week, too — their first postseason appearances. Altuve and Astros rookie teammate Carlos Correa, Arrieta and Cubs sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Bryant, young Mets aces Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, Yankees star Masahiro Tanaka and Dodgers newcomer Corey Seager are set to make their playoff debuts.
FRIENDLY CONFINES: Could this be the year the century-plus title drought ends on the North Side of Chicago? When the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, Roosevelt was president — Theodore Roosevelt. They haven’t even reached the World Series since 1945, two years before baseball’s championship was televised for the first time. But with Bryant and Arrieta, hopes are high at Wrigley Field, the quaint ballpark that moved into the 21st century this year with a renovation that included — gasp! — a 3,990-square foot video board above the left-field bleachers and a smaller one in right. With the Series extending into November, the Cubs hope fans everywhere will be watching as the ivy along the outfield walls turns red and brown.
A-ROD IS BACK: Written off by many last year during his one-season drug suspension, Alex Rodriguez returned this year and carried the Yankees’ lineup early. Shifted from third base to designated hitter, he hit .250 with 33 homers and 86 RBIs. He passed Willie Mays for fourth on the career home run list, reached 3,000 hits and settled a dispute with the team over a multimillion marketing payment. But around the time of his 40th birthday in late July, he went into a slump and tailed off badly. A-Rod hit .216 after the All-Star break and drove in just three runs in his final 18 games.
DH NEEDED: Runs will be at a premium in the National League, which featured a deep Cy Young Award field of pitchers mostly on contending teams. The Cubs’ Arrieta (22-6, 1.77 ERA) will face the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole (19-8, 2.60) in the wild-card game, one of the most anticipated pitching matchups in recent postseason history. After that, the Mets will take on the Dodgers in a series that features deGrom (14-8, 2.54), Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24) and Harvey (13-8, 2.71) for New York and Kershaw (16-7, 2.13, 301 strikeouts) and Greinke (19-3, 1.66) for L.A. Meanwhile, the Cardinals had four pitchers make at least 20 starts this year with ERA’s of 3.03 or lower, although one of them, Carlos Martinez, will miss the postseason with a strained right shoulder.