Monday, October 22, 2012

Published:

Foreign policy takes center stage in final Romney-Obama debate, two weeks before Election Day

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) -- Foreign policy took command of the campaign spotlight Monday at the third and final debate between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, two weeks before Election Day in a close race for the White House dominated by pocketbook issues and the economy.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the recent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and Iran's nuclear ambitions were all ripe for disagreement in the 90-minute event at Lynn University.

Both men spent the weekend in rehearsals, the president at Camp David in Maryland and Romney in Florida. They paid brief visits to the debate hall in the hours before its start.

Obama and Romney are locked in a close race in national opinion polls. For both men, the final days of the long campaign are likely to be a whirlwind of rallies in the far-flung battleground states. Already four million ballots have been cast in early voting in more than two dozen states.

Barring a last-minute change in strategy by one campaign or the other, Obama appears on course to win states and the District of Columbia that account for 237 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The same is true for Romney in states with 191 electoral votes.

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Analysis: Inward times, yet foreign policy debate will test Romney, Obama to show leadership

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Voters care much less about global problems than they do about the economy, but Monday's debate on foreign policy still matters in a way that could tilt the election. This is the night for President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney to leave a lasting impression about leadership.

Obama will be the only commander in chief on stage, and if he loses the edge and aura in the final debate, it could hurt him on Election Day. All the discussion of Iran, Libya and al-Qaida is bound to stick less than the sense it portrays of which man would better command in a crisis and protect the country.

Trying to capitalize on the mood of voters, Obama campaigns as the leader who ends wars, not the guy who would begin new ones, as he suggests Romney is ready to do with Iran.

When Obama underlines that he is not just a candidate but a president who has seen the caskets come home, it is meant to diminish the standing of the former Massachusetts governor.

The test in the debate is whether Romney can erode Obama's advantage in whom voters trust to handle foreign affairs and national security. Polling shows Romney has shrunk the gap.

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Wife told court that husband who killed 7 at Wisconsin spa terrorized 'my every waking moment'

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Wisconsin man terrorized his wife for years, threatening to throw acid on her face, dousing her car with tomato juice and slashing her vehicle's tires before finally going to the spa where she worked, opening fire and killing her and two others.

The shooting spree stunned the middle- to upper-class Milwaukee suburb where it happened, but court records show the conflict between Radcliffe Haughton and his wife had been escalating for years.

The 45-year-old former car salesman ultimately shot seven women at the spa before turning the gun on himself. Three remained hospitalized Monday.

Haughton, of Brown Deer, was charged with disorderly conduct last year after police officers responding to a 911 call saw Haughton point what appeared to be a gun at his wife, Zina, from a window at their home. Officers took cover, and a 90-minute standoff ensued.

Brown Deer police said Monday the standoff ended peacefully, and they were never able to confirm a gun was involved because Zina Haughton wouldn't allow them into the couple's home. The charge against Radcliffe Haughton was dropped when a police officer failed to appear in court.

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AP Exclusive: France to send surveillance drones to West Africa as it talks with US about Mali

PARIS (AP) -- France will move surveillance drones to West Africa and is holding secretive talks with U.S. officials in Paris this week as it seeks to steer international military action to help Mali's feeble government win back the northern part of the country from al-Qaida-linked rebels, The Associated Press has learned.

France and the United Nations insist any invasion of Mali's north must be led by African troops. But France, which has six hostages in Mali and has citizens who have joined al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, is playing an increasing role behind the scenes.

Many in the West fear that northeast Mali and the arid Sahel region could become the new Afghanistan, a no-man's-land where extremists can train, impose hardline Islamic law and plot terror attacks abroad. And France, former colonial ruler to countries across the Sahel, is a prime target.

"This is actually a major threat -- to French interests in the region, and to France itself," said Francois Heisbourg, an expert at the Foundation for Strategic Research, a partially state-funded think tank in Paris. "This is like Afghanistan 1996. This is like when Bin Laden found a place that was larger than France in which he could organize training camps, in which he could provide stable preparations for organizing far-flung terror attacks."

France is turning its attention to the Sahel just as it is accelerating its pullout of combat troops from Afghanistan ahead of other NATO allies.

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Column: Lance Armstrong cast out of the sport that turned him from a nobody to a somebody

PARIS (AP) -- There was an Armstrong who walked on the moon and another, Louis, who sang sweet jazz. But Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner?

That never happened.

"He deserves to be forgotten in cycling," the sport's boss, Pat McQuaid, said Monday as he erased Armstrong's victories from the record books of the race that made him a global celebrity.

It felt -- and was -- truly momentous. The crash-landing in a spectacular plunge from grace. The moment of impact between the truth and years of lies. Official acceptance -- first from the head of cycling's governing body, then from the boss of the Tour -- that the fairytale of a cancer survivor who won the world's most storied bicycle race was, in fact, the biggest fraud in the history of sport.

"A landmark day for cycling," McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union, said at a news conference in Geneva. "Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling."

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Cycling's governing body agrees to strip Armstrong of his 7 Tour de France titles

GENEVA (AP) -- Seven lines of blanks. From 1999 to 2005. There will be no Tour de France winner in the record book for those years.

Once the toast of the Champs-Elysees, Lance Armstrong was formally stripped of his seven Tour titles Monday and banned for life for doping.

As far as the Tour is concerned, his victories never happened. He was never on the top step of the podium. The winner's yellow jersey was never on his back.

The decision by the International Cycling Union marked an end to the saga that brought down the most decorated rider in Tour history and exposed widespread cheating in the sport.

"Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling," said Pat McQuaid, president of the governing body. "Make no mistake, it's a catastrophe for him, and he has to face up to that."

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Release of extensive sex-abuse files the latest in series of challenges for Boy Scouts

True to their motto, the Boys Scouts tried to be prepared. For months, they braced for the backlash sure to follow the court-ordered release of voluminous confidential files detailing decades of alleged sex abuse by Scout leaders.

Now the files are public, lawyers are calling for a congressional investigation and the Boy Scouts of America -- as so often in recent years -- finds itself embattled.

The files released last week are old -- dating from 1959 to 1985. Many of the alleged abusers listed in the files may well be dead. And the Scouts, while apologizing for past mistakes, have significantly improved their youth protection program in recent years.

Still, release of 14,500 pages on alleged abusers is an unwelcome development for an organization struggling to halt a decades-long membership drop while incurring relentless criticism for its policy of excluding gays.

"It does pose a challenge for the Scouts, whether they're going to be able to win back the confidence of the public," said David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. "I'm sure for some period of time, there's going to be a concern."

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7 experts convicted of manslaughter in Italy for failing to adequately warn about deadly quake

L'AQUILA, Italy (AP) -- In a verdict that sent shock waves through the scientific community, an Italian court convicted seven experts of manslaughter on Monday for failing to adequately warn residents of the risk before an earthquake struck central Italy in 2009, killing more than 300 people.

The defendants, all prominent scientists or geological and disaster experts, were sentenced to six years in prison.

Earthquake experts worldwide decried the trial as ridiculous, contending there was no way of knowing that a flurry of tremors would lead to a deadly quake.

"It's a sad day for science," said seismologist Susan Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif. "It's unsettling."

That fellow seismic experts in Italy were singled out in the case "hits you in the gut," she said.

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Scientists record male beluga whale mimicking human voice

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- It could be the muffled sound of singing in the shower or that sing-songy indecipherable voice from the Muppets' Swedish Chef.

Surprisingly, scientists said the audio they captured was a whale imitating people. In fact, the whale song sounded so eerily human that divers initially thought it was a human voice.

Handlers at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego heard mumbling in 1984 coming from a tank containing whales and dolphins that sounded like two people chatting far away.

It wasn't until one day, after a diver surfaced from the tank and asked, "Who told me to get out?" did researchers realize the garble came from a captive male Beluga whale. For several years, they recorded its spontaneous sounds while it was underwater and when it surfaced.

An acoustic analysis revealed the human-like sounds were several octaves lower than typical whale calls. The research was published online Monday in Current Biology.

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Longtime activist Russell Means dies at 72 after years of fighting for American Indian causes

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Russell Means spent a lifetime as a modern American Indian warrior. He railed against broken treaties, fought for the return of stolen land and even took up arms against the federal government.

A onetime leader of the American Indian Movement, he called national attention to the plight of impoverished tribes and often lamented the waning of Indian culture. After leaving the movement in the 1980s, the handsome, braided activist was still a cultural presence, appearing in several movies.

Means, who died Monday from throat cancer at age 72, helped lead the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee -- a bloody confrontation that raised America's awareness about the struggles of Indians and gave rise to a wider protest movement that lasted for the rest of the decade.

Before AIM, there were few national advocates for American Indians. Means was one of the first to emerge. He sought to restore Indians' pride in their culture and to challenge a government that had paid little attention to tribes in generations. He was also one of the first to urge sports teams to do away with Indian names and mascots.

"No one except Hollywood stars and very rich Texans wore Indian jewelry," Means said, recalling the early days of the movement. And there were dozens, if not hundreds, of athletic teams "that in essence were insulting us, from grade schools to college. That's all changed."