Saturday, March 24, 2012

Published:

Santorum looks for rebound in Louisiana as he chases Romney's delegate lead

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Rick Santorum looked for a win in Louisiana's primary Saturday to boost his Republican presidential campaign while front-runner Mitt Romney braced for an expected loss.

No matter who wins the state, the overall trajectory of the fight for the party's nomination was unlikely to change. Santorum still dramatically lags in the hunt for delegates to the GOP's summertime nominating convention, and Romney remains the prohibitive favorite to become the nominee.

Even so, Santorum made clear he would press on beyond Louisiana and spent Saturday campaigning in next-up Wisconsin, which votes April 3 and represents one of his last chances to beat Romney in a Midwestern state.

"Stand for your principles. Don't compromise. Don't sell America short," Santorum implored Wisconsin voters in Milwaukee, telling them that he expected their state to be "the turning point in this race."

In an unmistakable jab at Romney, Santorum added: "Don't make the mistake that Republicans made in 1976. Don't nominate the moderate. When you do, we lose." It was a reference to Ronald Reagan losing the 1976 Republican nomination to incumbent President Gerald Ford, and Democrat Jimmy Carter winning the White House.

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Aide says former Vice President Dick Cheney had heart transplant

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney, a 71-year-old with a long history of cardiovascular problems, had a heart transplant Saturday and is recovering at a Virginia hospital. Not even Cheney knows the donor's identity.

An aide to Cheney disclosed the surgery after it was over, saying that the ex-vice president, who suffered five heart attacks over the years, had been waiting for a transplant for more than 20 months.

"Although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift," aide Kara Ahern said in a written statement that was authenticated by several of the Republican politician's close associates.

More than 3,100 Americans currently are on the national waiting list for a heart transplant. Just over 2,300 heart transplants were performed last year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. And 330 people died while waiting.

According to UNOS, 332 people over age 65 received a heart transplant last year. The majority of transplants occur in 50- to 64-year-olds.

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Obama promoting global blockade of nuclear terrorism; gets up-close look at NKorea front line

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- President Barack Obama is opening his pitch for faster work to lock down nuclear material that could be used by terrorists with an up-close look at the nuclear front lines along the heavily militarized border with volatile North Korea.

Obama arrived in Seoul on Sunday morning, local time, for three days of diplomacy. In the midst of an election year focused on economic concerns at home, Obama has designed a rare Asia visit that features time in just one country. He'll use much of the time to keep pressure on North Korea to back off a planned rocket launch and return to disarmament talks.

The goal of the large gathering of world leaders is to secure nuclear material and prevent it from being smuggled to states or groups intent on mass destruction. Progress has been uneven since the ambitious goal of lockdown by 2014 was first set out by Obama at a similar session in Washington in 2010. No breakthroughs are expected now.

Right across the border but not participating: nuclear North Korea, labeled by the White House as "the odd man out." It is brinksmanship with North Korea and Iran, another nation not invited to the summit, that has dominated much of the nuclear debate and that will cast an unquestionable shadow over talks in Seoul.

Obama has called nuclear terrorism the gravest threat the United States and the world may face. North Korea is a prime suspect in the proliferation of some nuclear know-how, along with missiles that could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction. Iran is suspected in the arming of terrorists with non-nuclear weaponry, and the U.S. and other nations suspect Iran's nuclear energy program could be converted to build a bomb.

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Across the nation, Trayvon Martin tragedy prompts parent discussions about the Black Male Code

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- I thought my son would be much older before I had to tell him about the Black Male Code. He's only 12, still sleeping with stuffed animals, still afraid of the dark. But after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, I needed to explain to my child that soon people might be afraid of him.

We were in the car on the way to school when a story about Martin came on the radio. "The guy who killed him should get arrested. The dead guy was unarmed!" my son said after hearing that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman had claimed self-defense in the shooting in Sanford, Florida.

We listened to the rest of the story, describing how Zimmerman had spotted Martin, who was 17, walking home from the store on a rainy night, the hood of his sweatshirt pulled over his head. When it was over, I turned off the radio and told my son about the rules he needs to follow to avoid becoming another Trayvon Martin -- a black male who Zimmerman assumed was "suspicious" and "up to no good."

As I explained it, the Code goes like this:

Always pay close attention to your surroundings, son, especially if you are in an affluent neighborhood where black folks are few. Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes.

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APNewsBreak: US investigators believe accused US soldier carried out separate Afghan killings

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. investigators believe the U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians split the slaughter into two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again, two American officials said Saturday.

This scenario seems to support the U.S. government's assertion -- contested by some Afghans -- that the killings were done by one person, since they would have been perpetrated over a longer period of time than assumed when Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was detained March 11 outside his base in southern Afghanistan.

But it also raises new questions about how Bales, who was formally charged Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder and other crimes, could have carried out the nighttime attacks without drawing attention from any Americans on the Kandahar province base.

The two American officials who disclosed the investigators' finding spoke on condition of anonymity because the politically sensitive probe is ongoing.

Many details about the killings, including a possible motive, have not been made public. The documents released by the U.S. military Friday in connection with the murder charges do not include a timeline or a narrative of what is alleged to have happened.

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An Afghan father, and his community, try to cope with shooting rampage

HARMARA, Afghanistan (AP) -- Mohammad Wazir can barely take a sip of water because it reminds him of his 7-year-old daughter, who brought him a glass three days before she was killed with 10 other loved ones in a shooting spree allegedly carried out by a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan.

Wazir said he had asked his wife for a drink but his daughter Masooma brought it instead.

"She said: 'Ask me, daddy. I can bring you water too,'" Wazir recalled. "She was the beauty of my house. She had black magical eyes."

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was charged Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder and could face a possible death penalty if convicted. But that has done little to ease the pain of those left behind, who are demanding justice as they struggle to rebuild their shattered lives.

While no motive for the killings has been proffered, much of the discussion in the U.S. has focused on what could have caused the soldier to snap and whether the trauma of warfare and multiple deployments is at least partly to blame. Bales, himself a father of two from Lake Tapps, Washington, has been confined at the U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

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Report: Psychologist called Sandusky 'likely pedophile' in 1998, years before he was arrested

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- A psychologist who looked into a 1998 allegation against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky told police at the time that his behavior fit the profile of a likely pedophile, NBC News reported Saturday.

Yet Sandusky was not criminally charged, nor placed on a state registry of suspected child abusers, and prosecutors say he continued assaulting boys for more than a decade until his arrest in November.

NBC obtained a copy of the campus police department's investigatory report on an encounter in which Sandusky was accused of having inappropriate contact with an 11-year-old boy with whom he had showered naked on the Penn State campus.

The police file includes the report of State College psychologist Alycia Chambers, who interviewed and provided counseling to the boy.

"My consultants agree that the incidents meet all of our definitions, based on experience and education, of a likely pedophile's pattern of building trust and gradual introduction of physical touch, within a context of a 'loving,' 'special' relationship," Chambers wrote.

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W.Va. house fire after birthday party kills 8, including 6 young kids while they slept

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Alisha Carter-Camp had a new job, a wedding to plan and a 26th birthday to celebrate with a family cookout and toasts to the birthday girl in a yard full of children. By the end of the night, she was among eight dead, including six children, in one of the city's deadliest house fires in decades.

The blaze tore through the two-story home while the family slept early Saturday, hours after the last guest left Carter-Camp's party, authorities said. The dead children ranged from 18 months to 8. A seventh child, a 7-year-old boy, was hospitalized on life support.

The cause was under investigation, although arson wasn't suspected, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said. The fire started about 3:30 a.m. on the first floor. Jones said the home had just one working smoke detector; the city required several. A building inspection that had been scheduled for last month didn't happen because only children were home at the time.

A children's picnic table, chairs and an umbrella were overturned in the yard of the home, roped off by police tape on a corner in a neighborhood tightly packed with small houses in north Charleston. Flames and smoke blackened the front of the house Two huge front windows were shattered, and appeared to be an opening for an upstairs air conditioner was stuffed shut with clothes.

Alisha Carter-Camp, who would have been 26 Saturday, was among those killed, Jones said. She had been working as a hotel clerk for six months and told neighbors she planned to get married in June and move to Pittsburgh.

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With eye on Catholic church's future, Pope Benedict reaches out to Mexico's children

GUANAJUATO, Mexico (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI worked to build the future of Mexico's church by reaching out to children Saturday as tens of thousands of teenagers streamed into a vast, shade-starved park to camp out overnight ahead of a gigantic papal Mass.

Benedict awoke to the pre-dawn serenade of two dozen youths from a Guadalajara church group who sang him a traditional folk song after getting as close as security would allow to the college in Leon where the pontiff is staying during his three-day visit to Mexico.

"We sang with all our heart and all our force," said Maria Fernanda de Luna, a member of the group. "It gave us goose bumps to sing 'Las Mananitas' for him."

Benedict has taken up Pope John Paul II's drive to reach out to young Roman Catholics, following in his footsteps by rallying millions of young faithful to join him for World Youth Days, the Catholic youth festivals held once every three years. The next edition is scheduled for Rio de Janeiro next year.

His only public remarks Saturday were planned for a meeting with about 4,000 children in Peace Plaza in the city of Guanajuato, a space that was crowded with cheering and flag-waving well-wishers long before he arrived.

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Big rally lifts Pitino and Louisville back to Final 4 with 72-68 win over Donovan and Florida

PHOENIX (AP) -- Once upon a time, Billy Donovan took Rick Pitino on an improbable ride to the Final Four.

Twenty-five years later, Pitino is heading back after another unbelievable run -- one capped with an amazing late-game rally that left his old protege wondering what the heck happened.

Freshman forward Chane Behanan made the go-ahead basket with 1:06 left Saturday and Pitino's fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals outscored Florida by 15 points over the final 10 minutes for a 72-68 victory in the West Regional final.

And all Pitino could think afterward was, "Hate to do that to ya, kid."

"Tonight, it was very difficult because of the way the game ended, because they outplayed us for 32 minutes," Pitino said. "And it really hurt inside. As much as I felt like celebrating, it really hurt because he did such a masterful job of coaching."