UPDATE: Rebel pope urges Catholics to shake up dioceses
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Pope Francis is urging young Catholics to shake up the church and make a "mess" in their dioceses by going out into the streets to spread the faith.
It's a message he put into practice by visiting one of Rio's most violent slums and opening the church's World Youth Day on a rain-soaked Copacabana Beach Thursday.
Dubbed the "slum pope" for his work with the poor, Francis received a rapturous welcome in a northern Rio shantytown so violent it's known as the Gaza Strip. The 76-year-old Argentine seemed entirely at home, wading into cheering crowds, kissing people young and old and telling them the Catholic Church is on their side.
In a muddy soccer field where a crowd of thousands braved a cold rain to welcome him, Francis said, "No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world."
Pope Francis' killer pace wearing out his aides
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Pope Francis' killer pace is wearing out his aides.
The 76-year-old Argentine Jesuit, who lost most of one lung following an infection in his youth, has been acting like a man half his age during his first international trip as pope, adding in events at the last minute to his already full schedule and gamely going with the flow after heavy rains forced major changes in the World Youth Day agenda.
His spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, noted Thursday that such vigorous activity has been the norm at the Vatican ever since Francis became pope, saying the Vatican's bureaucrats were getting "stressed out" by his pace — and that was a good thing.
But he quipped: "I'm happy we're half-way through because if it were any longer I'd be destroyed."
NEW: China coast guard boats confront Japanese vessels
BEIJING (AP) — China says ships from its newly-formed coast guard have confronted Japanese patrol vessels in waters surrounding disputed East China Sea islands.
The State Oceanic Administration that oversees the service says four of its ships "sternly declared" China's sovereignty over the islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China. The uninhabited archipelago is controlled by Tokyo but also claimed by Beijing.
Ships from Chinese civilian agencies have maintained a steady presence in the area since tensions spiked in September following Japan's purchase of some of the islands from their private owners.
Non-military ships are being replaced by vessels from the coast guard, which was formally inaugurated Monday and merges the resources of four former agencies. China says the move was intended to boost its ability to enforce its maritime claims.
NYC NOSE GEAR COLLAPSE
NTSB: Southwest jet's nose gear landed first
NEW YORK (AP) — Preliminary findings show Monday's hard landing of a Southwest Airlines jet resulted because the nose gear touched down first, not the main landing gear.
The Boeing 737 skidded off a runway at New York LaGuardia and came to rest on its nose. Federal officials won't say whether pilot error contributed to the hard landing or if the nose gear should have been able to withstand the impact.
Sixteen passengers suffered minor injuries during Flight 345's landing. The plane was coming from Nashville, Tenn.
A spokeswoman for Southwest said the landing described by the NTSB was "not in accordance" with operating procedures.
The NTSB had said Wednesday that the landing gear "collapsed rearward and upward into the fuselage, damaging the electronics bay that houses avionics."
Investigators recovered the flight data and cockpit voice recorders on Tuesday. They'll be analyzed by the NTSB.
One American among the dead; train driver is questioned
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain (AP) — Spanish officials are investigating possible failings by the 52-year-old driver of a speeding train that careened out of control, killing 80 people and maiming scores of others.
The regional government confirms that the train driver, who's hospitalized, is being questioned as a possible suspect.
Investigators are also looking at the train's built-in speed regulation systems. Experts say one, or both, must be at fault for the accident Wednesday night in Santiago de Compostela.
According to eyewitness accounts and video of the crash, speed may have been a factor. The train was going so fast, its cars tumbled off the tracks like dominos. One witness says he saw the train "coming out of the bend at great speed and then there was a big noise."
An analysis of the video by The Associated Press indicates that the train was traveling at least 89 miles an hour, and possibly over 100 miles an hour. The speed limit in the area is 50 miles an hour.
Church: Va. woman among Spain train crash victims
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — Catholic Church officials say an employee of a diocese outside Washington, D.C., was among the 80 people who died in the Spain trash crash this week.
The Diocese of Arlington says on its Facebook page that Ana Maria Cordoba, an administrative employee from northern Virginia, died in the wreck.
Catholic News Service, a division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reports that Cordoba, a benefits specialist, was traveling with her husband, Philippe, and her daughter, Christina, a rising high school senior in Arlington.
CNS reports that Philippe and Christina Cordoba were in stable condition at a hospital.
Family members were on their way to see the Cordobas' son, who had completed a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Messages left for the diocese late Thursday were not immediately returned.
SAN DIEGO MAYOR
San Diego Democrats call on mayor to resign
SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's own political party is calling on him to resign after seven women publicly identified themselves as targets of his alleged sexual advances.
The San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee voted 34-6 Thursday night to ask the city's first Democratic mayor in 20 years to leave office.
The vote comes one week after the committee deadlocked 24-24 on the question. The earlier vote came before any woman had publicly identified herself.
The audience included political consultant Laura Fink, who says Filner patted her buttocks in 2005 when he was congressman and she was his deputy campaign manager. She says she is gratified by the vote.
Records: Firefighters' bodies found in 'moonscape'
PHOENIX (AP) — Records obtained by The Associated Press provide a glimpse into the difficult attempts to reach 19 firefighters who died battling an Arizona blaze last month and the gruesome scene at the site.
According to reports from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, rescue personnel found a scene of sheer devastation described as a "moonscape."
The heat was so intense only the metal part of one chain saw was found, and just the head of a pickax was discovered near the men's bodies.
Pilots first reported that thick smoke, intense heat and blowing ash were making it too difficult to land near the site. Once the helicopter was able to touch down, rescue personnel found the firefighters "burned beyond recognition."
The blaze ended up destroying more than 100 homes before it was fully contained on July 10.
Obama hosts Ramadan dinner at White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is saluting Muslim Americans for their contributions in helping build the nation as business entrepreneurs, technology innovators and pioneers in medicine.
Obama spoke at a White House dinner he hosted Thursday to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The meal, or iftar, breaks the day of fasting when Muslim families and communities eat together after sunset.
Obama said Ramadan is, quoting, "a time of reflection, a chance to demonstrate ones devotion to God through prayer and through fasting, but it's also a time for family and friends to come together."
He said the White House tradition is to celebrate sacred days of various faiths, adding that these occasions celebrate diversity that defines the country and reaffirms the freedom to worship.
NEW: Cop who pepper-sprayed students seeks workers comp
DAVIS, Calif. (AP) — The former police officer who pepper-sprayed students during an Occupy protest at the University of California, Davis is appealing for worker's compensation, claiming he suffered psychiatric injury from the 2011 incident.
The California Department of Industrial Relations' website says John Pike has a settlement conference on Aug. 13 in Sacramento.
An attorney who supported the Occupy UC Davis movement told the Davis Enterprise Thursday (http://bit.ly/13h2hG9 ) that a protest will likely be held outside the courtroom.
Pike was fired eight months after an investigation found that his action was unwarranted. Online videos of him casually spraying pepper-spray in the faces of nonviolent protesters went viral, prompting national outrage.
Hackers posted Pike's information online. He received scores of threats that led a judge to rule against releasing the names of other officers at the scene.
NEW: Toyota top-selling automaker despite China slump
TOKYO (AP) — Toyota shrugged off China sales woes to stay the world's top selling automaker for the first half of this year, outpacing General Motors Co.
Toyota Motor Corp. said Friday it sold 4.91 million cars and trucks around the world for the January-June period, down 1.2 percent from the previous year.
GM said earlier this month it sold 4.85 million vehicles worldwide in the six months, growing almost 4 percent as it gained U.S. sales faster than Toyota.
Toyota's sales in China were hurt by anti-Japanese sentiment that flared last year over a territorial dispute, setting off boycotts and riots.
But the Japanese automaker stayed ahead of GM in other regions.
COINCIDENTAL COUPLE DIES
NEW: Couple born same day, wedded 75 yrs, die day apart
LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California husband and wife who were born on the same day and celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary last year have died just a day apart.
The couple's son Les Brown Jr. tells the Long Beach Press-Telegram (http://bit.ly/18CyufA) Thursday that 94-year-old Helen Brown died July 16 and 94-year-old Les Brown died July 17. She had stomach cancer. He had Parkinson's disease.
The Browns were born on New Year's Eve, 1918. Their son said his parents met in high school and eloped in 1937 at age 18 because their parents thought the marriage between a wealthy man and a working-class woman would never last. Last September they celebrated their 75th anniversary.
The couple moved to Long Beach in 1963. He was a photographer, she sold real estate.
They'll have a joint memorial service Saturday.