Apocalypse scheduled for Friday morning

Posted Oct. 20, 2011, at 9:15 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — A California ministry says the end of the world is nigh. Again.

The Oakland-based Family Radio International that stirred a global frenzy when it predicted the rapture would take 200 million Christians to heaven on May 21, now says the cataclysmic event will destroy the globe on Friday.

This time, the ministry and its 90-year-old leader, Harold Camping, are avoiding the media and perhaps a repeat of the international mockery that followed when believers awoke on May 22 to find themselves still on Earth.

The ministry and members declined to comment on the prediction.

Camping, who suffered a mild stroke three weeks after his prediction failed to materialize in May, still spreads the word through his Family Radio International website. God’s judgment and salvation were completed on May 21, Camping says in a message explaining the mix-up in his biblical math.

Snowmobiler survives three nights on Alaska tundra

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A snowmobiler went missing in an Alaska blizzard and spent three frigid nights on the Arctic tundra before a pilot detected his faint radio signal and rescued him, rescue officials said.

The man left Barrow on a snowmachine on Saturday night and headed for the village of Atqasak, about 50 miles away but never arrived because he drove the machine into a ravine.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Thursday that a ground search was begun Sunday but blowing snow made it impossible to follow the man’s snowmachine tracks. The snow also grounded rescue helicopters, said Bob Mercer, acting director and lead pilot with the Barrow-based North Slope Borough Rescue Service.

The temperature was about 25 degrees, Mercer said. The weather cleared some on Monday but searchers couldn’t find the man.

Era Aviation pilot Eric Greener said he joined the search and located the man’s weak radio signal about 14 miles northwest of Atqasak.

The man, whose name was not released, was eventually flown to Alaska Native Medical Center.

Incomes down for most but up for wealthiest

The government is reporting that 50 percent of U.S. workers earned less than $26,364 last year, reflecting a growing income gap between the nation’s rich and poor.

According to the Social Security administration, there were fewer jobs, and overall pay was trending down — except for the wealthiest Americans. The number of people making $1 million or more soared by over 18 percent from 2009. There were 5.2 million fewer jobs in 2010 than in 2007, when the deepest recession since the 1930s began.

The payroll figures are based on W-2 forms submitted by employers to the IRS. The figures were posted by Social Security on its website as demonstrations raged on Wall Street and across the country protesting high unemployment and a growing income gap.

Investigator: $3.2 billion in overpaid tax credits

WASHINGTON — More than 2 million taxpayers — including some prisoners claiming students as dependents — apparently wrongly collected $3.2 billion in college tax credits last year, according to a report issued Thursday by a federal investigator.

The suspect credits represent more than a fifth of the $15.5 billion in college credits the report says went to nearly 8.9 million taxpayers through 2010.

The Internal Revenue Service disputed the findings, saying they were vastly overblown and based on a faulty analysis. The IRS, though, agreed to implement many of the recommendations the report made to ensure that only eligible taxpayers receive the credit.

The program in question is the American Opportunity Tax Credit, created in President Barack Obama’s $825 billion economic stimulus law of 2009 as an expansion of the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit. Extended by Congress last year through 2012, it provides students with tax credits of up to $2,500 annually, as long as their families don’t exceed income limits.

Basque group ETA ends armed independence campaign

BILBAO, Spain — The Basque militant group ETA called an end to a 43-year violent campaign for independence Thursday and said it now wants talks with Spain and France.

ETA had already declared a cease-fire last year but had not renounced armed struggle as a tool for achieving an independent Basque state. The group made the latest announcement to Basque daily Gara newspaper.

The Basque country is a small but wealthy region of northern Spain, with its own distinct culture and an ancient language that linguists cannot trace and sounds nothing like Spanish. Under the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco, who suppressed Basque culture, ETA emerged as a national liberation movement in the late 1960s.

In the 1980s it staged hundreds of shootings of police and politicians and even occasional indiscriminate bombings of civilians.

Radio host fired after DC protest involvement

WASHINGTON — A freelance radio host was fired from a documentary program that airs on NPR affiliates after she became a spokeswoman for a Washington protest because her producers believed she violated the public radio network’s code of ethics, the host said Thursday.

Lisa Simeone of Baltimore said she was fired the previous evening from “Soundprint,” a music documentary show that isn’t produced by NPR but is aired by its affiliates across the country. She said the head of Soundprint Media Center Inc., which produces the show, read NPR’s code of ethics to her before she was fired.

NPR also questioned Simeone’s involvement in the “Occupy D.C.” protest and said its ethics code applies to the shows it carries. But NPR also said Simeone doesn’t work for the radio network, and it hadn’t pressured Soundprint to fire her.

Simeone also hosts “World of Opera,” a show produced by North Carolina-based music and arts station WDAV. That program is distributed by NPR. She said that station is supporting her so far.

Simeone told The Associated Press she is not a news reporter.

“I don’t cover news. In none of the shows that I do, do I cover the news,” she said. “What is NPR afraid I’ll do? Insert a seditious comment into a synopsis of ‘Madame Butterfly?’”

Simeone said she has been serving with about 50 people on a steering committee for an occupation protest on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. She said it is not connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York, but they share similar philosophies.

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