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Southwest to fly from Atlanta to Vegas, Phoenix

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Southwest Airlines is announcing daily, nonstop flights from Atlanta to Las Vegas and Phoenix in a move that will expand planned service in the biggest U.S. city not yet served by the airline.

The Dallas-based airline said Monday it is now selling round-trip flights between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the two western cities for travel dates beginning March 10.

The announcement comes two weeks after Southwest announced it was breaking into the Atlanta market with 15 daily, nonstop flights to five destinations including Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, Denver, Houston Hobby, and Austin, Texas. Those flights begin Feb. 12.

Atlanta is the largest city in the nation not served by Southwest. But the airline gained an opening there in May when it bought AirTran Airways, which has a hub in Atlanta.

Fire sparked by crash threatens 650 homes

TEHACHAPI, Calif. (AP) - Fire officials are reporting calmer weather as firefighters battle a wildfire that has forced 650 homes in a California mountain community to flee.

Kern County fire department spokesman Cary Wright says forecasters predicted wind speeds of 10- to 15 mph on Monday, but officials have yet to see that.

He says the weather has been favorable for crews at the blaze, which has burned more than 7 square miles.

Wright says 650 homes south of Tehachapi, a city of 8,000 south of Bakersfield, are under evacuation orders. Another 150 outbuildings are threatened. The fire was ignited Sunday by a deadly plane crash.

A separate brush fire sparked by a barn fire in northern Los Angeles County is threatening an unknown number of homes Monday afternoon.

Wildfire destroys nearly 500 homes in Texas

BASTROP, Texas (AP) - A wildfire in Central Texas has destroyed nearly 500 homes as it races unchecked through rain-starved farm and ranchland.

Bastrop County Judge Ronnie McDonald said Monday that the fire has destroyed 476 homes. He said 250 firefighters are working around the clock, using bulldozers to cut along the side of the fire and pumper trucks to drench the ground.

At least 5,000 people were forced from their homes in the county about 25 miles east of Austin, many of them fearing the worst while spending the night in emergency shelters

The county's emergency management director, Mike Fischer, said the fire is "nowhere near controlled" and that a separate, smaller blaze to the south of the city is growing larger.

Obama says GOP must back US first, create jobs

DETROIT (AP) - President Barack Obama used a boisterous Labor Day rally to put congressional Republicans on the spot, challenging them to place the country's interests above all else and vote to create jobs and put the economy back on a path toward growth. "Show us what you've got," he said.

In a partial preview of the jobs speech he's delivering to Congress Thursday night, Obama said roads and bridges nationwide need rebuilding and more than 1 million unemployed construction workers are itching to "get dirty" making the repairs. He portrayed Congress as an obstacle to getting that work done.

I'm going to propose ways to put America back to work that both parties can agree to, because I still believe both parties can work together to solve our problems," Obama said at an annual Labor Day rally sponsored by the Detroit-area AFL-CIO. "Given the urgency of this moment, given the hardship that many people are facing, folks have got to get together. But we're not going to wait for them."

"We're going to see if we've got some straight shooters in Congress. We're going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party," he said.

Congress returns from its summer recess this week and the faltering economy and jobs shortage are expected to be a dominant theme.

GOP candidates in SC vow to carry tea-party banner

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Pledging fidelity to the Constitution and vowing to carry the tea party's banner to Washington, the Republicans chasing the GOP's presidential nomination are pitching themselves as the strongest candidate to roll back four years of President Barack Obama's tenure.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says the Obama administration flaunted the constitution to push a political agenda. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota calls Obama's policies "unconstitutional." And Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he has a better record on jobs than Obama.

Labor Day marks the unofficial start to the 2012 campaign for the White House.

Five Republicans appeared during a forum Monday with Sen. Jim DeMint in his home state of South Carolina. Perry was in the state, too, but at a different event.

Pakistan's intel detains 3 al-Qaida members

ISLAMABAD (AP) - A battered al-Qaida suffered another significant blow when Pakistani agents working with the CIA arrested a senior leader believed to have been tasked by Osama bin Laden with targeting American economic interests around the globe, Pakistan announced Monday.

Younis al-Mauritani's arrest - made public six days before the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks - also point to improved cooperation between two uneasy anti-terror allies after the rancor surrounding bin Laden's killing.

Al-Qaida has seen its senior ranks thinned since bin Laden was killed May 2 in a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan without the knowledge of local authorities. Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the terror network's No. 2, was killed in a CIA missile strike last month.

Pakistan's unusual public announcement of close cooperation with the U.S. spy agency appeared aimed at reversing the widespread perception that ties between the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency had been badly damaged by bin Laden's death. The Pakistanis accused the Americans of violating their sovereignty with the raid, while Washington was angry the terror leader had been found in a house in a military garrison town.

The Pakistani military said the arrest of al-Mauritani and two other Qaida operatives took place near the Afghan border in the southwestern city of Quetta, long known as a base for militants. It did not say when. The arrests were carried out in the past two weeks, according to a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Wall Street braces for a rocky day

LONDON (AP) - World stock markets took a beating Monday over fears that the U.S. economy was heading back into a recession just as the European debt crisis was heating up and the eurozone's economic indicators were slumping.

Any troubles in the world's largest economy cast a long shadow over the markets, and a report Friday that the U.S. economy failed to add any new jobs in August caused European and Asian stock markets to sink sharply Monday.

But the news from Europe was also discouraging. Wall Street, which was closed Monday due to the Labor Day holiday, braced for losses Tuesday after the yields in so-called peripheral eurozone countries - Greece, Italy and Spain - rose sharply against those of Germany, whose bonds are widely considered a safe haven.

Although retail sales in the 17-nation eurozone rose unexpectedly in July, a survey of the services sector Monday showed a slowdown across the continent for the fifth consecutive month. The purchasing managers' index for the eurozone showed the services sector was still growing - unlike the manufacturing sector - but only barely. That will add pressure on the European Central Bank to keep interest rates on hold when it meets this week.

"There's so much uncertainty, so much fear, that investors don't know what to do," said David Kotok, chairman and chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors. "I don't remember the last time stocks were so cheap and nobody wanted them."

Libyan fighters converge on Gadhafi stronghold

TARHOUNA, Libya (AP) - Thousands of rebel fighters closed in around one of Libya's last pro-Gadhafi strongholds Monday, but held back on a final assault in hopes of avoiding a bloody battle for the town of Bani Walid.

The standoff came as rebel leaders in Tripoli said Libya's transition to democratic rule would begin with a "declaration of liberation" that was unlikely to come before Gadhafi's forces last strongholds were defeated and the fugitive former dictator had been captured.

The declaration would mark the start of an eight-month deadline for Libya's transitional council to arrange the vote for a national assembly, and eventually to a constitution and general elections.

"When the clock starts ticking on those eight months remains to be seen," rebel spokesman Jalal el-Gallal said, adding it wasn't yet clear how liberation would be defined.

Special U.N. envoy Ian Martin, meanwhile, said the United Nations was helping the rebel leadership prepare for its elections, stressing the country faces immense political hurdles after nearly 42 years of dictatorial rule.

Hurricane Katia grows to Category 3

MIAMI (AP) - Hurricane Katia has grown to a Category 3 storm as it moves across the Atlantic Ocean.

On Monday afternoon, Katia's maximum sustained winds had increased to 116 mph. That makes Katia a major hurricane, and some additional strengthening is expected later in the day.

Hurricane specialist Todd Kimberlain says it's looking less likely that Katia will hit land but that wind from the storm could still affect the U.S. East Coast as it moves north. Kimberlain also says the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions should still keep an eye on Katia.

Katia is centered about 495 miles south of Bermuda and is moving northwest near 12 mph.

Libyan intelligence files show Gadhafi's police state failure to quash rebellion

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) - As the uprising grew against Moammar Gadhafi, secret reports from his vaunted intelligence service flowed back to Tripoli. Some were mundane - how agents erased anti-regime graffiti. Others were more deadly - a spy volunteered to poison rebel leaders' food and drink.

The reports grew more desperate as the Libyan rebellion veered into civil war: Military leaders in the western mountains were disregarding orders; troops in the city of Misrata ran out of ammunition, turning the situation into "every man for himself."

These reports and hundreds of other intelligence documents seen by The Associated Press in Tripoli trace how the tide shifted in the six-month uprising that ended Gadhafi's 42-year reign. They show how an authoritarian regime using all its means failed to quash an armed rebellion largely fueled by hatred of its tools of control.

The Arab-language documents read and photographed by an AP reporter during a visit to Tripoli's intelligence headquarters contain a mixture of military data and regime propaganda. Amid reports on rebels' movements, phone tap records and dispatches from Gadhafi's domestic agents are memos claiming that al-Qaida was behind the rebellion and that 4,000 U.S. troops were about to invade from Egypt.

The uprising began in mid-February when security forces used deadly fire to suppress anti-government protests in the eastern city of Benghazi. The opposition responded to the fierce crackdown by taking up arms, quickly seizing a large swath of eastern Libya and establishing a temporary administration.


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