U.S. Markets Slip On Manufacturing Data

NEW YORK, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Manufacturing data trumped news of a debt-ceiling compromise struck in Washington and sent U.S. stocks down Monday morning.

The Institute of Supply Management said its headline index measuring manufacturing activity dropped from 55.3 in June to 50.9 in July, marginally above the break-even point of 50.

The news sent stocks down despite President Barack Obama’s announcement that Republicans and Democrats had resolved a weeks-long impasse in budget negotiations that had threatened, had no deal been struck, to push the country into default.

In early afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 87.26 points, 0.72 percent, to 12,055.98. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed 12.50 points, 0.97 percent, to 1,279.78. The Nasdaq composite index lost 30.64 points, 1.11 percent, to 2,725.74.

The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 16/32 to yield 2.742 percent.

The euro fell to $1.4236 from Friday’s $1.4398. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 77.11 yen from Friday’s 76.77 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index rose 1.34 percent, 131.98, to 9,965.01.

In London, the FTSE 100 index lost 0.7 percent, 40.76, to 5,774.43.

UNIFIL Breaks Up Israeli, Lebanese Clash

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 1 (UPI) — U.N. peacekeepers scrambled to Lebanon’s border with Israel in response to a brief exchange of gunfire between both sides, the United Nations reported Monday.

The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon confirmed a “brief exchange” of gunfire between Israeli and Lebanese forces along the so-called Blue Line separating the countries.

“UNIFIL peacekeepers immediately responded to the location in order to contain the situation and prevent any escalation,” the peacekeeping force said in a statement. “The firing has since ceased and the situation in the area is quiet.”

UNIFIL added there were no reports of casualties following Monday’s skirmish. Italian army Brig Gen. Santi Bonfanti, the acting commander for the peacekeeping force, said he was in contact with both militaries to press for restraint.

Six members of the French contingent of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon were injured when their convoy hit what authorities say was a roadside bomb near a trash depot in Sidon last week.

The attack on UNIFIL was the second in 2011. Six Italian peacekeepers were injured by a roadside bomb in May near the site of the French attack.

Monday’s exchange came almost a year to the day after both sides traded fire along the border Aug. 3, 2010. That attack left at least four people dead, including an Israeli lieutenant colonel, dead. Lebanese forces said Israeli troops wandered too far into their territory though UNIFIL later cleared the Israelis of wrongdoing.

Ankara Deeply Disappointed With Syria

ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Ankara said it was deeply disappointed about the lack of peace in Syria as violence continued Monday into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Syrian troops renewed attacks Monday on Hama. Germany and Italy called for an urgent U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the bloodshed.

Hama residents told The New York Times shelling resumed in the early morning as people were going home from mosques after dawn prayers.

At least three people were killed, activists said.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement said it had expected the Syrian government to address the aspirations of its people through peaceful methods.

“These operations do not contribute to the restoration of order in Syria but hamper the process of needed reforms,” the statement read. “These kinds of operations and violence do not achieve solutions, but rather create a deadlock. It is time for the Syrian administration to see this reality.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague echoed Ankara’s sentiments, saying there was no justification for attacks on the civilian population.

The European Union announced Monday that it was putting restrictive measures on Damascus in response to the “gravity of the situation” unfolding there.

International media are still largely banned from Syria but video clips posed on YouTube by Sham, a Web site sympathetic to the protesters, showed unarmed civilians taking cover from shelling and heavy machine-gun fire as hospitals struggled to cope with mounting casualties.

U.S. President Barack Obama during the weekend described the events in Syria as “horrifying.” The Security Council has been largely silent on the matter.

LaHood, Babbitt Urge Passage Of FAA Bill

NEW YORK, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Members of Congress shouldn’t go on recess before extending the Federal Aviation Administration’s operating authority, transportation chief Ray LaHood said.

After Congress allowed the FAA’s last extension to expire July 22, the agency was forced into a partial shutdown that temporarily put about 4,000 employees out of work and grounded dozens of construction projects across the country.

Among the suspended projects is a $6 million venture to demolish a decommissioned FAA airport traffic control tower at LaGuardia International Airport in New York that employed 40 workers, the transportation secretary said Monday as he visited the demolition site with FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.

“Members of Congress should not get on a plane to fly home for vacation without passing an FAA bill and putting thousands of people back to work,” LaHood said. “Congress needs to do its job for the good of these workers, for the good of our economy and for the good of America’s aviation system.”

The longer the FAA goes without operating authority, the further behind its construction projects fall, Babbitt said.

“We need our 4,000 FAA employees and tens of thousands of construction workers back on the job so we can get critical projects moving again while it’s still construction season,” Babbitt said. “Congress must act quickly before leaving for the August recess.”

The nation’s air travel system is not affected by the 4,000-plus furloughed workers or the status of tens of thousands of airport construction workers under FAA contract, Babbitt said. Air traffic controllers remain on the job and airline operations continue normally, he said.

Sex Offender Sues Over Residency Ordinance

ELK GROVE, Calif., Aug. 1 (UPI) — A registered sex offender is suing a California city, saying the city’s ordinance restricting where he can live violates state and federal constitutions.

Michael Steven Escobar, a registered sex offender on parole for child molestation, has sued the city of Elk Grove, near Sacramento, saying its ordinance would prevent him from residing with his ailing parents and would leave him few choices other than homelessness, the Sacramento Bee reported Monday.

Elk Grove’s ordinance prohibits a registered sex offender from residing within 2,000 feet of schools, day-care centers, playgrounds, parks, amusement centers or youth sports facilities.

Since he was released in June 2010 after serving nine years in prison for child molestation, Escobar has been living in his mother’s home in Elk Grove, less than 1,000 feet from a public park.

The ordinance, Escobar’s suit says, presents him with an “unconscionable choice between leaving his home — where he cares for his aging and ill parents — and becoming homeless or facing prosecution from the district attorney for violating the ordinance.”

A number of similar lawsuits have been filed against ordinances in cities and counties around the state, Michael Risher, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, said.

“You have to live in the county,” Risher said, “but there’s nowhere in the county left to live.”

Prosecutor Sought In Wisconsin Supreme Court Spat

MADISON, Wis., Aug. 1 (UPI) — A Wisconsin district attorney called Monday for a special prosecutor in a dispute between two state Supreme Court justices.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley accuses Justice David Prosser of physically attacking her during an argument in her office June 13, just before the court ruled on a bitterly divisive labor law. He denies it.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne in Madison, who was involved in the case the justices were disputing, said he would ask the county’s chief judge to name an outside counsel to ensure there is “no appearance of political motivation for any decisions or outcome,” WISC-TV, Madison, Wis., reported.

Ozanne said that he received the results of the sheriff’s investigation in mid-July.

The Wisconsin Judicial Commission said in June it also was investigating possible ethics violations in the case.

Bradley says Prosser put her in a “chokehold,” but others say she came at Prosser with her fists up and he raised his hands to block her, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Ozanne had brought a suit contending a committee broke the open meetings law when it sent the labor legislation to the state Senate. The court rejected his argument, 4-3.

Bus Driver Found Dead Behind The Wheel

NEW YORK, Aug. 1 (UPI) — A New Jersey bus driver was found dead at the wheel of his vehicle, which had been missing for almost 5 hours, authorities said.

Thomas Truex, 26, of Edison, a driver for NJ Transit, was supposed to deliver the bus to a Meadowlands garage after dropping off his last passengers at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York’s Times Square Thursday, WPIX-TV, New York, reported.

When the bus didn’t show up for almost 5 hours, transit officials became concerned and began making calls. Shortly afterward, the Port Authority called NJ Transit to report a bus with its motor idling where it wasn’t supposed to be.

An NJ Transit supervisor went to the Port Authority terminal and found Truex dead, slumped over the steering wheel.

Police said they were investigating but the death of Truex wasn’t considered suspicious.

Jeffs Says God Ordered Judge To Quit

SAN ANGELO, Texas, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Polygamist Warren Jeffs began the sixth day of his trial in San Angelo, Texas, Monday by demanding the judge step down on instructions from God.

Judge Barbara Walther called a recess to have another judge review the recusal motion, Jeffs’ third, announced it was denied and resumed the trial, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

In his motion, Jeffs said he received a divine revelation in his cell Sunday, and God said: “I am to now recuse you from this case. … Now to be of honor and step away from this abuse of power against a religious and pure faith in the Lord; who is now judge of you, through my servant now voicing my will. … I, the Lord, have spoken. Amen.”

In an exhibit attached to the motion, the San Angelo Standard-Times reported, Jeffs said he received another revelation last week that stated: “Let also Barbara Walthers (sic) be of a humbling to know I have sent a crippling disease upon her which shall take her life soon. … She is no longer to be of a respect to peers.”

Jeffs, 55, is accused of marrying and sexually assaulting two girls, ages 15 and 12.

Construction Spending Up A Touch In June

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Construction spending for June rose above the the revised May estimate, but stayed below spending a year earlier, the U.S Census Bureau reported Monday.

Spending during June was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $772.3 billion, 0.2 percent above the previous month’s revised estimate of $770.5 billion. June’s spending was 4.7 percent below the June 2010 estimate of $810.4 billion, the Commerce Department said in a release.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $493.4 billion, 0.8 percent above the revised May estimate of $489.6 billion, the Census Bureau said.

The report said residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $235.8 billion in June, 0.3 percent below May’s revised estimate of $236.5 billion. Non-residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $257.7 billion in June, 1.8 percent above the revised May estimate of $253.1 billion.

The estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending in June was $278.9 billion, 0.7 percent lower than the revised May estimate of $280.9 billion, the Census Bureau said.

Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $66.4 billion, 4.1 percent below the revised May estimate of $69.3 billion, the bureau said. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $74.6 billion, 1.6 percent lower than the revised May estimate of $75.8 billion.

Rescuers Sue Woman They Pulled From Car

MARION, Ohio, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Two Ohio men who rescued a woman from a burning vehicle are now suing her, saying they suffered permanent and disabling injuries during the rescue.

David Kelley and Mark Kinkaid of Marion filed a lawsuit against Theresa Tanner, alleging she was responsible for the accident that led to the rescue in which they were injured, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Police said Tanner told authorities she had argued with someone the day of the crash and wanted to end her life by veering off a road southeast of Marion in March 2009.

The lawsuit filed in Marion County Common Pleas Court seeks damages of at least $25,000 for each of the men.

The lawsuit is not unusual — rescuers sue those they helped more often than people think, legal experts said.

“The precedent is clear: Danger invites rescue … and if you’ve acted recklessly or negligently and someone gets hurt rescuing you, you could be in trouble,” said Stan Darling, a professor at Capital University Law School.