Scary Cash Crunch At Poe Museum

BALTIMORE, Aug. 7 (UPI) — The operators of the Edgar Allen Poe museum in Baltimore say the loss of financial support from the city could force them to close.

Poe House is located off the beaten tourist track and has been operating on its reserve funds since last year when the city cut off its annual $85,000 stipend.

“It would be ironic, after all these years of aggressively and actively promoting the Poe House and the Poe grave to have it close,” curator Jeff Jerome told The New York Times.

Poe is one of Baltimore’s more-famous sons. The writer penned creepy classics such as “The Raven” in the 1800s, but his birthplace is located in a housing development that hasn’t been able to draw in enough tourists to cover the costs.

The Times said the museum has hired a consultant to come up with a plan for survival.

More Witnesses Pending In Jeffs Trial

SAN ANGELO, Texas, Aug. 7 (UPI) — Prosecutors say they will present more witnesses when the penalty phase of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs’ trial resumes in Texas.

A rare Saturday session in the San Angelo courtroom included tearful testimony from a 28-year-old woman who claimed she was molested by Jeffs in his office when she was 8.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to tell him no,” the woman told the jury.

Jeffs, 55, was convicted last week of various sex charges involving underage members of his sect. The jury could recommend a life sentence.

The Salt Lake Tribune said Jeffs was not in the courtroom Saturday and has declined to have a lawyer present his case. Texas, however, does not allow defendants to be unrepresented in court, and standby attorneys have filled in.

Graham: Is Obama A One-term President?

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) — If President Obama were a coach in the Southeastern Conference, he’d be fired based on his performance, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday.

“He would not have his contract renewed,” Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

However, former presidential senior adviser David Axelrod said the 2012 election “isn’t just going to be about the president. It’s going to be about what direction we want to take as a country.”

The two traded views about Obama’s chances of winning re-election just two days after the first-ever downgraded credit rating following a bitter fight to tie lowering the federal deficits to raising the debt limit.

“We have to do much, much better,” Axelrod said, noting Obama has proposed extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, enacting an infrastructure bank to preserve construction jobs, passing trade treaties to expand exports and reforming patent and tax laws.

“There are things we can do to move this country forward,” he said. “What we need is cooperation and action on the part of the Congress.”

If Washington acts on those areas as soon as Congress returns from its August recess, “that would have a positive impact on the economy,” Axelrod said. “The question is whether we have the will to do it and whether we can lay the politics aside and work together, Republicans and Democrats, to do it.”

Obama has had three years to move the economy “and he’s failing,” Graham said.

“He’s had a chance,” Graham said, later saying, “This president has failed to lead and in any other private sector enterprise he would be fired. If he was asking to be re-upped to run a football team, they wouldn’t hire him. If he was trying to be a CEO for a second contract, he wouldn’t be hired.”

The Republican Party has a chance, but “we’ve got to be for things,” Graham said, such as a balanced budget amendment that would require both parties “to do what we should have done a long time ago.”

Graham said he also was for adjusting entitlement programs and for closing the tax deduction loopholes to bring money back into the U.S. Treasury so the government could pay down its debt.

“So this president hasn’t led. And the tale of the tape is in,” Graham said. “Statistically this has been a lousy presidency only getting worse.”

Mexican Copter Misses Mark; Lands In Texas

LAREDO, Texas, Aug. 7 (UPI) — The crew of a Mexican military helicopter was allowed to fly back across the border after mistakenly landing in Texas, U.S. Customs officials said.

The chopper touched down Saturday afternoon at Laredo International Airport after apparently mistaking the airport for a landing strip in Nuevo Laredo.

“The only thing that I can tell you is that they did land here,” agency spokeswoman Mucia Dovalina told the Houston Chronicle. “It was by mistake. They were processed and they were returned to Mexico.”

The agency did not say how many people were aboard the aircraft or if they were armed.

The Chronicle said the incursion was the latest inadvertent border crossing by the Mexican military since troop strength along the border has been increased in the battle against drug traffickers.

Re-enactor Shooter Says He’s No Outlaw

RAPID CITY, S.D., Aug. 7 (UPI) — A Western re-enactor who accidentally shot three tourists in South Dakota says his brushes with the law could give people the wrong idea about him.

Paul Doering, 49, of Summerset, S.D., says he is “not an outlaw” and was as shocked as anyone when the pistol he used in a staged gun fight earlier this summer turned out to be loaded with live ammo.

Doering, who served time for burglary in Minnesota, told the Rapid City Journal he had turned over a new leaf after moving to the Dakotas and joining the Wild Bunch Re-enactors.

“Just because I’m a felon and have made mistakes when I was younger doesn’t make me a terrible person,” said Doering, who now works as a truck driver and faces arraignment in federal court Thursday on a charge of being a felon in possession of a gun.

The spectators were injured when the re-enactors opened fire with what were supposed to be blanks during a June benefit show at a guest ranch.

Stem Cell Researchers Wary Of Republicans

BOSTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) — Scientists say they are concerned Republican presidential candidates are lining up against federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The Boston Globe said Sunday virtually the entire GOP field backed the idea of scaling back stem cell funding, a stance that has researchers worried the field of study would wither and die out.

“While many of us in the field end up raising private philanthropy to do the work, it is very important that labs have access to NIH dollars so more research can actually be done,” said Dr. Leonard Zon, president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Embryonic stem cells come from embryos donated by fertility clinics. Their properties are considered far more flexible than non-embryonic cells, but anti-abortion activists allied with Republicans want experimentation on them banned.

At the same time, supporters of stem cell research say the field could produce major breakthroughs and spawn big advances in the coveted biotechnology industry.

The Globe said while the Obama administration greatly expanded the number of specific stem cell lines that could receive federal funding, most GOP hopefuls have yet to say how many lines they would remove from the approved list.

Obama Marks 1998 Africa Embassy Bombings

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) — President Obama Sunday marked the 1998 bombings of two U.S. Embassies in Africa by calling this year’s death of the reputed mastermind as a blow against terror.

The blasts killed 218 people in Kenya and 11 more in Tanzania and were an early clash between the United States and al-Qaida.

Obama said the death of terrorist Harun Fazul in June was “an important blow” against al-Qaida.

“The remembrance of these tragic attacks spurs us to continue to work closely with our allies in East Africa and around the world to bring terrorists to justice and to redouble our efforts to prevent these attacks in the future,” Obama said in a statement.

The statement said the attacks in Africa showed al-Qaida was willing to attack people, including children, without consideration of ethnicity, religion or nationality.

‘Tea Party Downgrade’ On Lips Of Many Dems

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) — A former presidential adviser and several Democrats Sunday blamed the U.S. economic downgrade on Tea Party activists in Congress.

“The Tea Party brought us to the brink of a default,” David Axelrod, former adviser to President Obama, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“For months, the president was saying, let’s get together, let’s compromise,” Axelrod said. “We thought we had such an arrangement with the Speaker of the House … then he went back to his caucus; he had to yield to the most strident voices in his party. They played brinkmanship with the full faith and credit of the United States. This was the result in that.

“The fact of the matter is that this is essentially a Tea Party downgrade,” he declared. “That clearly is on the backs of those who were willing to see the country default.”

Late Friday, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time in history. S&P said it downgraded the rating because the deficit reduction plan passed by Congress wasn’t enough to stabilize the country’s debt situation and the political climate wasn’t conducive to policymaking or as stable as needed to deal with the current economic challenge.

David Beers, head of S&P’s government debt rating unit, said on “Fox News Sunday” the downgrade is the rating house saying “that a mild deterioration [is] in the U.S.” credit standing … and “we wouldn’t expect that much financial impact in terms of higher interest rates for example.”

On ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” S&P Managing Director John Chamber said the ratings agency has been saying for some time that the “fiscal trajectory of the United States was on a bad path and that the political gridlock in Washington leads us to conclude that policymakers don’t have the ability to proactively … put the public finances of the U.S. on a sustainable footing. … We think our message has been pretty consistent. And we also think that the numbers speak for themselves.”

Larry Summers, Obama’s former top economic adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” the House Republican majority “played chicken with America’s creditworthiness, and America’s families are going to be the losers, losers in terms of higher interest rates on their mortgages, losers in terms of what this is going to mean for employment, that we’ve got critical economic problems.”

Echoing Axelrod’s sentiments, also on “Face the Nation,” was Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman.

“I think they’re totally unreasonable and doctrinaire and not founded in reality,” Dean said. “I think they’ve been smoking some of that tea, not just drinking it.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, said the downgrade provided a “partial wake-up call.”

“I believe this is, without question, the ‘Tea Party downgrade,'” Kerry said. “This is the Tea Party downgrade because a minority of people in the House of Representatives countered even the will of many Republicans in the United States Senate who were prepared to do a bigger deal” of at least $4 trillion that included a mix of reductions, entitlement reforms and revenue enhancement.

On “Face the Nation,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the Tea Party movement didn’t create the economic mess the United States faces.

“The Tea Party hasn’t destroyed Washington,” Graham said. “Washington was destroyed before the Tea Party got there.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on “Meet the Press,” said he agreed the system in Washington was dysfunctional, but “a lot of it has to do with the failure of the president of the United States to lead. I would remind you that Republicans control one-third of the government.”

Beers on “Fox News Sunday” said Congress and the Obama administration were “jointly responsible” for the state of the country’s fiscal policy, so the decision to downgrade wasn’t politically motivated as has been suggested in some quarters.

“[This] is really not about either political party,” Beers said. “It’s about the difficulty of all sides in finding, you know, a consensus around fiscal policy choices, now and in the future.”

Bill Miller, with Legg Mason Capital Management, told “Fox News Sunday” he didn’t anticipate consumers would pay more in interest rates because of the downgrade.

“The downgrade was not an economic event,” Miller said. “It was a symbolic and psychological event, an important one.”

Summers said the critical problems were slow growth and the lack of jobs and that the long-term budget situation must be adjusted “in a rational way, and we have to find balanced approached going forward — balanced approaches to focus on the jobs deficit.”

New Hacker Ring Claims Attack On Cop Sites

ATLANTA, Aug. 7 (UPI) — An apparently new hacking group says it is releasing information it obtained from more than 70 law enforcement agencies in the United States.

The group calling itself AntiSec says it has no qualms about the release of 10 gigabytes of data, which it says includes personal information about police officers and confidential “snitch information.”

“We have no sympathy for any of the officers or informants who may be endangered by the release of their personal information,” AntiSec said in a posting on Pastebin.com.

CNN said Sunday AntiSec claims to be affiliated with hacker rings LulzSec and Anonymous and was retaliating against the investigations into those groups’ alleged intrusions.

CNN said a rundown of the 70 Web sites listed by AntiSec showed some were indeed crashed this weekend; however, several other agencies reported no significant disruptions.

Wildfire Flares Up In Sizzling Oklahoma

EDMOND, Okla., Aug. 7 (UPI) — A wildfire flared up Saturday and destroyed about a dozen homes in Edmond, Okla., firefighters said.

Several neighborhoods had to be evacuated and Interstate 35 was shut down for a period after the fire that had been burning since Thursday regained strength as a thunderstorm passed through the area.

“We had been watching the smoke since it flared up this afternoon,” resident Kim Moyer told The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City Saturday night. “The wind shifted and we were engulfed in smoke. Edmond police kind of stormed through our neighborhood with lights and sirens on and said, ‘You’ve got to get out now.'”

The Red Cross opened an evacuation center for residents of the area.

The National Weather Service had an excessive heat warning posted for much of Oklahoma Saturday with highs expected to top 100 degrees.