KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Top Stories

The figures are in for the federal government's fiscal 2012 and the deficit was $1.089 trillion, according to the Treasury Department and Office of Management and Budget.

That's less than the previous year's $1.297 trillion and is the third consecutive decline.

But it's also the fourth year in a row of a $1 trillion+ gap between spending and revenues.

Reporting by the Charleston Gazette this week suggests that the Obama administration's efforts to impose tough new limits on miners' exposure to coal dust have stalled.

The United Mine Workers Union suggests election year politics may be the reason.

The Shuttle Endeavour began an incredible 12-mile journey through the streets of Southern California. The trip ends at its new home at the California Science Center.

Perhaps the AP put it best: In space, the shuttle traveled at a blazing 17,500 mph. But this final victory lap through narrow Los Angeles streets will proceed at 2 mph.

The AP adds:

Two days after the United States Anti-Doping Agency's release of the evidence it says shows that cyclist Lance Armstrong was part of "the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen," the head of the Tour de France has said the world's most famous race will officially have no winners of the seven Tours that Armstrong won if he is stripped of those titles.

A life well-worth noting has caught the attention of obituary writers:

-- "Andrew F. Brimmer, a Louisiana sharecropper's son who was the first black member of the Federal Reserve Board and who led efforts to to reverse the country's balance-of-payments deficit, died on Sunday in Washington. He was 86." (The New York Times)

Fidel Castro's son, Alex Castro, is batting away rumors that his father, the former leader of Cuba, had died.

"The commander is fine, doing his daily things, reading, exercising," Alex Castro said.

"With all due respect, that's a bunch of malarkey," Vice President Biden said during Thursday's debate as he challenged Rep. Paul Ryan's assertion that U.S. foreign policy has unraveled under President Obama.

A little later in the debate, Biden said Ryan's criticisms were "a bunch of stuff" — and when moderator Martha Raddatz asked "what does that mean?" he said, "we Irish call it malarkey."

Biden's use of the word has many asking: Where does it come from?

"U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly rose to its highest in five years in October as consumers became more optimistic about the economy in a possible boost to President Obama's reelection hopes," Reuters reports.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delivered a policy speech that he said was a "clarion call" for Americans to take cyber security seriously. Attacks that can cripple a country, he said, are no longer theoretical.

All eyes were on Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, last night. By all accounts, it was a political debate for the ages, full of barbs and fireworks.

In a dramatic reversal, Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted for the first time that if it had fixed known safety issues, Japan's nuclear disaster following the March 2011 tsunami could have been avoided.

The Associated Press says the utility company made the admission in a statement released Friday. The AP reports the company said it delayed implementing the safety measures because of political, economic and legal pressures.

The AP adds:

Authorities have arrested three men suspected of having a role in the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old activist who demanded an education for girls.

NBC News reports:

"Police said the suspects, aged between 17 and 22, had claimed the person who organized the attack Tuesday — in which two other young girls were shot and injured — was a man called Attaullah."

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has bestowed its prestigious Peace Prize upon the European Union for what it says is a six decade contribution "to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe"

In its press conference, the committee said the union cemented peace between France and Germany and shows that "through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners."

Tell us you can resist clicking on this headline from Florida's Sun Sentinel:

"Huge Eyeball From Unknown Creature Washes Ashore On Florida Beach."

It's big, it's blue and the newspaper says "among the possibilities being discussed are a giant squid, some other large fish or a whale or other large marine mammal."

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has sent the eye off for study.

There's sad news today that "Jerry Girardi, the father of New York Yankees manager and East Peoria native Joe Girardi," has died in Metamora, Ill., Peoria's Journal Star reports.

Jerry Girardi was 81. He had suffered for the past several years from Alzheimer's disease. According to the local funeral home, he died on Saturday.

The giant panda cub born at Washington's National Zoo did, as first suspected, die on Sept. 23 because of "lung and liver damage" stemming from problems with her development, zoo officials say.

Scientists have discovered a world much fancier than our homely, little Earth.

New research that will published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters details a planet that is eight times heavier than Earth and with twice its radius. But instead of being covered in water and granite, it is encrusted in graphite and diamond.

A masked gunman killed a Yemeni man when he was on his way to work as a security official at the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, the AP and Reuters are reporting.

The Associated Press reports that Yemeni officials said the drive-by shooting was reminiscient of other attacks undertaken by the al-Qaida offshoot in Yemen.

The AP adds:

Unsuspecting motorists got either a shiver or a laugh yesterday morning in Portland, Maine as they drove by a construction site whose warning sign had been hacked: instead of the typical caution, they were told 'Warning Zombies Ahead!'

Portland authorities are not amused.

"These (signs) are deployed and used as a safety precaution. They're not a toy," Portland spokeswoman Nicole Clegg told the Portland Press Herald. She says the prank is a crime.

The news coming out of Pakistan today in the case of Malala is not good: The 15-year-old girl shot by the Taliban has been airlifted to the "country's top military hospital for specialist treatment," Pakistan's Dawn reports.

The rift between Syria and Turkey deepened, after Turkish warplanes forced a Moscow-to-Damascus bound passenger airplane to land on Wednesday.

Not only that but it also opened fresh conflict with Russia. The New York Times reports that today Moscow demanded answers for it called "air piracy" and Turkey said it had found illegal materials on board.

The Times reports:

RealtyTrac, an online industry group that follows the foreclosure market, says the number of foreclosed properties nationally dropped dramatically in September, down by seven percent from August. And the firm says since September 2011, foreclosures are down 16 percent — that's the lowest total since July 2007.

There were 339,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, a decrease from last week's revised figure of 369,000, the Employment and Training Administration says.

Reuters reports it's the lowest number in more than four years. Reuters adds:

"The prior week's figure was revised up to show 2,000 more applications than previously reported.

Tonight, Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan are set for a one-on-one, 90-minute debate in Danville, Ky. It's the one and only VP candidate debate of the campaign and after what has been conclusively deemed a bad performance by President Obama during the first presidential debate, all eyes are on Biden.

Mo Yan, the Chinese author, was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature this morning.

Mo Yan, the Nobel committee wrote, uses his "hallucinatory realism" to merge "folk tales, history and the contemporary."

"Through a mixture of fantasy and reality, historical and social perspectives, Mo Yan has created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition," the committee explained in its citation.

The campaign of Gov. Mitt Romney says the Republican presidential candidate will no longer tell the story of meeting Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was killed during the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Romney revealed during his stump speeches that he met Doherty at a Christmas party he crashed in his San Diego neighborhood.

In a campaign event in Iowa, yesterday, Romney choked up when he retold the story.

A man who admitted he was involved in the making of the film Innocence of Muslims says he did not violate his probation.

Mark Basseley Youssef made a court appearance today not for making the film that resulted in protests throughout the Muslim world but for his 2010 conviction of bank and credit card fraud, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Pages