Saturday, October 13, 2012

Published:

Romney, Ryan woo Ohio voters, hit Obama on China trade practices; Obama focuses on debate prep

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) -- Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan went back to school on Saturday to rally college students in all corners of all-important Ohio and hammer at President Barack Obama for going easy on China over unfair trade practices. Obama took precious time off the campaign trail to practice for the next debate against his GOP rival.

It was an unspoken acknowledgment of the importance that Obama attaches to upping his game in Debate No.2 that the president is largely dropping out of sight for five straight days in the final weeks of the race to prepare for Tuesday's encounter in Hempstead, N .Y.

Even while cloistered for debate prep at a sprawling resort in Williamsburg, Va., though, the president didn't completely cede the spotlight to Romney. His weekly radio and Internet address highlighted the Obama administration's work to revive the U.S. auto industry -- a message aimed squarely at working-class voters in manufacturing-heavy states like Ohio.

Romney, for his part, told a crowd of more than 3,000 people at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth that Obama was ducking an important decision on whether China is manipulating its currency to gain a trade advantage. A decision was due on Monday, but the Treasury Department said Friday the decision won't come until after global finance officials meet in early November. That means a decision is unlikely before the Nov. 6 election.

"It's time for us to stand up to China for their cheating," Romney declared. "It's got to stop."

___

Do black people back Obama because he's black? Questions intensify in campaign's final weeks

Surviving slavery, segregation and discrimination has forged a special pride in African-Americans. Now some are saying this hard-earned pride has become prejudice in the form of blind loyalty to President Barack Obama.

Are black people supporting Obama mainly because he's black? If race is just one factor in blacks' support of Obama, does that make them racist? Can blacks' support for Obama be compared with white voters who may favor his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, because he's white?

These questions have long animated conservatives who are frustrated by claims that white people who oppose Obama's policies are racist. This week, when a black actress who tweeted an endorsement of Romney was subjected to a stream of abuse from other African-Americans, the politics of racial accusation came full circle once again.

Stacey Dash, who also has Mexican heritage, is best known for the 1995 film "Clueless" and the recent cable-TV drama "Single Ladies." On Twitter, she was called "jigaboo," ''traitor," ''house nigger" and worse after posting, "Vote for Romney. The only choice for your future."

The theme of the insults: A black woman would have to be stupid, subservient or both to choose a white Republican over the first black president.

___

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood plays to popular anti-Israel sentiment as political tensions mount

CAIRO (AP) -- A fiery tirade against Jews by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's leader highlights one of the foremost diplomatic challenges facing the country's new Islamist President Mohammed Morsi as he balances popular sentiment with the need for security relations with Israel.

The Brotherhood's supreme leader Mohammed Badie called on Muslims worldwide this week to defend Jerusalem, saying "Zionists only know the way of force." He said that Jews were spreading "corruption," had slaughtered Muslims and desecrated holy sites.

Badie's condemnation went well beyond the harsh criticism of Israel and its policies that is common in Egypt, opening even greater friction between the country's most powerful political group and its Jewish neighbor. And it will likely put more pressure on Morsi, who ran for president as a Brotherhood candidate, to take a more assertive role than his predecessor had in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Morsi made no public comments about Badie's remarks, the strongest criticism against Israel since Morsi took office in June. His spokesman, Yasser Ali, did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said the Brotherhood's statement was aimed at deflecting attention from Morsi's troubles in his first 100 days in office, from fuel shortages to mounting piles of garbage on the streets.

___

Space shuttle Endeavour inches through LA streets to retirement home at science museum

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- At every turn of Endeavour's stop-and-go commute through urban streets, a constellation of spectators trailed along as the space shuttle ploddingly nosed past stores, schools, churches and front yards.

Having escaped out of Earth's atmosphere two dozen times, Endeavour's slow-speed trek Saturday to its retirement center took it through the working-class streets of southern Los Angeles.

In an instant, the shuttle crossings became part of history.

Along the 12-mile course, thousands marveled at the engineering. Some rooted for Endeavour when it appeared it might clip a light post. Others wondered if it could just hurry up to its destination.

Early birds gathered in front of lnglewood High School before sunrise to watch Endeavour roll by at a pokey 2 mph. Dean Martinez, who lives in Los Angeles but works in Inglewood, could not miss the moment.

___

Turkish prime minister criticizes UN Security Council over failure to act on Syria

ISTANBUL (AP) -- Turkey's prime minister sharply criticized the U.N. Security Council on Saturday for its failure to agree on decisive steps to end Syria's civil war, as NATO ally Germany backed the Turkish interception of a Damascus-bound passenger jet earlier in the week.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an international conference in Istanbul that the world was witnessing a humanitarian tragedy in Syria.

"If we wait for one or two of the permanent members ... then the future of Syria will be in danger," Erdogan said, according to an official interpreter.

Russia and China, two of the five permanent Security Council members, have vetoed resolutions that sought to put concerted pressure on Damascus to end the conflict and agree to a political transition.

Erdogan called for a reform of the Security Council, which he called an "unequal, unfair system" that didn't represent the will of most countries.

___

Mass. chemist at center of drug-testing investigation took an unlikely road to scandal

BOSTON (AP) -- As a girl and young woman, Annie Dookhan was quiet, unassuming, not one to wear makeup. She was charming but stood out more for her dedication to her studies, and by all accounts seemed headed for success.

The only child of hard-working immigrant parents, she enjoyed their pride as she glided through a prestigious Boston prep school, graduated from college with a degree in biochemistry and appeared to be on a track to medical school.

Now, as she takes center stage in a shocking scandal that has sent the Massachusetts legal system into a tailspin, those familiar with her from school and work are struggling to reconcile the Annie Dookhan they knew with the chemist accused of falsifying criminal drug tests.

"I find it hard to believe that she was an individual who decided to falsify lab results ... that she would turn into someone who did something like that. ... That isn't the person I remember," said John Warner, an instructor who gave her A's and A-minuses in 2000 when she took his biochemistry class as a senior at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

"Obviously, things can happen to people," he said. "Either something happened in her life that changed the person that she is, or this is a deeper story."

___

Navy submarine, Aegis cruiser collide during routine operations; no injuries, damage unclear

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The Pentagon said late Saturday that it is investigating why a Navy submarine collided with an Aegis cruiser during routine operations at an undisclosed location.

The U.S. Fleet Forces Command said in a news release that the submarine USS Montpelier and the Aegis cruiser USS San Jacinto collided at about 3:30 p.m. No one was injured, and the extent of any damage to the vessels was not clear Saturday evening, said Lt. Commander Brian Badura of the Fleet Forces Command.

"We have had circumstances where Navy vessels have collided at sea in the past, but they're fairly rare as to how often they do take place," Badura told The Associated Press.

Navy officials said the collision was under investigation, but declined to offer specifics on what happens next or on where the incident took place.

"If we do have an incident that does take place, there are folks that swing into action... to help us make a better, more conclusive explanation of exactly what happened," Badura said.

___

Weather remains favorable for the 23-mile-high supersonic skydive Sunday, meteorologist says

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) -- The weekend weather in New Mexico appears to be cooperating this time for a daredevil trying to become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier.

Meteorologist Don Day said the weather forecast remained favorable for former Austrian paratrooper Felix Baumgartner's jump, scheduled for early Sunday near Roswell, N.M.

Baumgartner will be prepared at sunrise to launch his 30 million cubic foot helium balloon to hoist a 3,000-pound capsule that will carry the jumper 23 miles up in the sky. The jump has already been canceled twice due to high winds, once damaging the balloon and forcing use of a backup for Sunday's planned launch.

Baumgartner will try to break a 1960 high-altitude parachuting record. He will also test a pressurized suit that is designed for stratospheric jumps.

He called Tuesday's postponement nerve-wracking but said Sunday's date is one already steeped in aviation history. On October 14, 1947, an experimental rocket plane Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier for the first time over Edwards Air Force Base in California.

___

50 years after Cuban missile crisis, scholars say compromise not brinkmanship ruled the day

HAVANA (AP) -- The world stood at the brink of Armageddon for 13 days in October 1962 when President John F. Kennedy drew a symbolic line in the Atlantic and warned of dire consequences if Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev dared to cross it.

An American U-2 spy plane flying high over Cuba had snapped aerial photographs of Soviet ballistic missile sites that could launch nuclear warheads with little warning at the United States, just 90 miles away. It was the height of the Cold War, and many people feared nuclear war would annihilate human civilization.

Soviet ships carrying nuclear equipment steamed toward Kennedy's "quarantine" zone around the island, but turned around before reaching the line. "We're eyeball-to-eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked," U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk famously said, a quote that largely came to be seen as defining the crisis.

In the five decades since the nuclear standoff between Washington and Moscow, much of the long-held conventional wisdom about the missile crisis has been knocked down, including the common belief that Kennedy's bold brinksmanship ruled the day.

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, historians now say it was behind-the-scenes compromise rather than a high-stakes game of chicken that resolved the faceoff, that both Washington and Moscow wound up winners and that the crisis lasted far longer than 13 days.

___

No. 1 Alabama braves weather, extends Missouri's SEC misery with 42-10 rout

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Nick Saban came off the field Saturday and sized up the afternoon for No. 1 Alabama.

"It was tough sledding out there today, guys," the Crimson Tide coach said. The thing is, he was speaking more about the weather than the opponent.

"For the conditions, I was pleased with the balance that we had," he said.

Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon gave Alabama a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time this season and the duo combined for five scores as Alabama beat Missouri 42-10 in a soggy, lightning-delayed game. The Crimson Tide had a season high 533 total yards and held Missouri to 129 yards -- and just 3 yards rushing.

"Basically the offensive line came out and they dominated," Lacy said. "I mean, every time we made a big run it was because they made a big hole for us."