Tests performed before the deadly blowout of BP's oil well in the Gulf of Mexico should have raised doubts about the cement used to seal the well, but the company and its cementing contractor used it anyway, investigators with the president's oil spill commission said Thursday. It's the first finding from the commission looking into the causes of the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. And it appears to conflict with statements made by Halliburton Co., which has said its tests showed the cement mix was stable. The company instead has said BP's well design and operations were responsible for the disaster.
WASHINGTON (AP) — When a widely publicized poll showed Republican John Kasich with a commanding, 10-point advantage in Ohio's governor's race, aides to Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland fought back hard. Against the poll. "With just two weeks until Election Day, it is our opinion that the Quinnipiac polls are irresponsible, inaccurate and completely removed from the reality of the Ohio governor's race," the campaign said in a statement that noted other private and public surveys were showing a much closer contest.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The tip that led to the FBI's subway bombing sting came from a source in the Muslim community: A Pakistani-born man from a middle-class suburb was trying to join a terrorist group, law enforcement officials said Thursday. Farooque Ahmed, a naturalized citizen arrested Wednesday, was a married father who had a good job with a telecommunications company. Authorities say he also was eager to kill Americans in Afghanistan and committed to becoming a martyr.
MIAMI (AP) — Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek on Thursday denied reports that he agreed to drop out of the Florida Senate race under pressure from former President Bill Clinton. Politico reported that Clinton, while campaigning with Meek in Florida last week, tried to talk him into quitting, and that Meek agreed twice to drop out and endorse independent candidate Gov. Charlie Crist. "Bill Clinton never asked Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race and Kendrick Meek never told Clinton that he was going to drop out of the race," Meek campaign spokesman David Hossman told The Associated Press.
WASHINGTON (AP) — House and Senate candidates aren't the only ones targeted by interest groups in this year's campaign. While they have spent at least $185 million just since Labor Day to influence voters in close congressional races, outside money is pouring at similar rates into state elections for governors and down the ticket to city councils and even local sewage boards. In just the past seven weeks, nonparty groups have spent at least $100 million on ads and get-out-the-vote efforts supporting or opposing specific candidates in state and local races, according to a state-by-state review by The Associated Press. The actual total is probably millions higher because there is no way to find out exactly how much was spent.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Armed men rumbled into a gritty neighborhood of the Mexican capital Thursday and gunned down six men hanging around a convenience store, fueling fears that one of the world's largest cities is falling prey to the cartel-style violence that has long terrorized other parts of the country. More than 50 people have been killed in the past week in five apparently unrelated massacres, including four shot Thursday near the border city of Ciudad Juarez. But the Mexico City shooting has raised alarm among residents about a drug war that has long seemed distant.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury on Thursday convicted Anna Nicole Smith's psychiatrist and boyfriend of conspiring to use false names to obtain prescription drugs for the former Playboy model and reality TV star but acquitted the doctor who prescribed a plethora of drugs for her. Prosecutors contended during the nine-week trial that the defendants were dazzled by Smith's glamor and filled her demands for prescription drugs to protect their insider status in her personal life and her celebrity world.
NEW YORK (AP) — Whistles, catcalls and lewd come-ons from strangers are all too familiar to New York City women, who say they are harassed multiple times a day as they walk down the street. Now lawmakers are examining whether to do something to discourage it. A City Council committee heard testimony Thursday from women who said men regularly follow them, yell at them and make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Advocates told stories of preteens and teenagers being hounded by adult men outside city schools and pleaded for government to address the problem.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Stage and screen actor James MacArthur, who played "Danno" in the original version of television's "Hawaii Five-O," died Thursday at age 72. MacArthur's agent, Richard Lewis, said the actor died in Florida of "natural causes," but no direct cause was specified. In a career that spanned more than four decades, MacArthur was most recognized for his role as detective Danny "Danno" Williams on "Hawaii Five-O," which aired from 1968 to 1980. Episodes often ended with detective Steve McGarrett, the lead character, uttering what became a pop culture catch phrase: "Book 'em, Danno."
NEW YORK (AP) — Sandy Alderson was chosen as the New York Mets general manager, and is now responsible for rebuilding a big-spending organization beset by problems on and off the field. Alderson will be introduced Friday at a Citi Field news conference, the team announced Thursday. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is allowing Alderson to leave his current job with Major League Baseball, in which he's leading efforts to reform operations in the Dominican Republic.