- Americans may not agree on much lately, but one opinion is nearly universal: There's almost no chance that President Obama, a Democrat, and the Republican Congress can work together to solve the country's problems.

An Associated Press-GfK poll finds just 13 percent of Americans are confident the leaders, separated by nearly 2 miles of Pennsylvania Avenue, can work together, while 86 percent have no such faith. That's far more than the 58 percent who felt that way just after the 2010 midterm elections in which the tea party movement rose to prominence.

The doubts cross party lines: Fewer than 1 in 5 Democrats or independents have confidence the two sides can cooperate. Republicans are even more pessimistic, with just 1 in 10 confident Obama and Congress can work together.

Those who lack confidence spread the blame around: 41 percent say neither side would do enough to work together, 35 percent place more blame on the Republicans, 22 percent on the president. Neither side holds much hope things are going to get better, either. Just 16 percent think the president is likely to restore public trust in government in the next two years, while 20 percent feel congressional Republicans will.

Big $1.1T spending bill drawing fire


- Exposed to the light of day, a year-end, $1.1 trillion spending bill drew objections from liberals and milder criticism from conservatives yesterday while lawmakers readied a brief, stopgap measure to prevent a government shutdown both parties vowed to avoid.

Democrats complained bitterly in public about a portion of the $1.1 trillion measure that eases regulations imposed on big banks in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown - even though 70 members of party's rank-and-file supported an identical provision in a standalone bill late last year.

After a closed-door meeting, Democrats also objected to separate section of the spending bill that eases limits on campaign contributions to political parties. The White House declined to state President Obama's position on the legislation, negotiated in secret over several days by senior lawmakers, including top leaders in both parties and both houses.

She's convicted in family sex ring


- The conviction yesterday of an Alabama woman accused of being part of an incestuous sex ring provided graphic evidence about horrendous child molestation, but it didn't answer a baffling question: What happened to a young victim who is missing and presumed dead?

Jurors took two hours to convict Wendy Wood Holland, 35, of sodomy, sexual abuse, sexual torture and child endangerment. She showed no emotion when the verdict was read. Prosecutors say Holland faces at least 20 years in prison and could get a life sentence.

Witnesses heard two days of testimony in her trial that didn't give any clues about the whereabouts of her niece Brittney Wood. Wood, 19, was last seen with Holland's husband, Donnie, in 2012, and 11 people have since been arrested on sex-related charges. That includes Wendy Holland, on trial on charges of sexually abusing another underage relative.

Pooch eludes searchers for months


- Rotisserie chicken, bacon, dog toys, more than a dozen volunteers and even a psychic have not been enough to find Murphy, an elusive golden retriever whose owner's 5-month search for the beloved animal has captivated one mountainous area of Vermont.

Neighbors have pulled together to try to find Murphy since he was spooked by a car accident and ran off June 29, going door-to-door with posters, looking for tracks and setting out food and traps.

He's been spotted numerous times, in back yards and on trail cameras in Waterbury Center, about 8 miles from the crash in suburban Montpelier. But any time someone gets close, the 3-year-old cagey canine darts off.

"I definitely think he's still in the fight-or-flight mode because he seems to run from everybody," said his owner, Kirstin Campbell.

Campbell, 24, had Murphy with her when her vehicle went off the road and hit a tree. She let the dog out after the crash and he ran away, traumatized. He was seen around town in the summer but ended up venturing south to Waterbury Center, apparently along the one main road between the towns.

- Associated Press