Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Published:

Giant Panda: Sandoval's 3 home runs boost SF over Tigers 8-3 in World Series opener

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- With three mighty swings, Pablo Sandoval put the San Francisco Giants ahead in this World Series and put himself in a class with Mr. October.

Sandoval hit three home runs and joined Reggie Jackson, Babe Ruth and Albert Pujols as the only sluggers to do it in the Series, and the Giants jolted Justin Verlander the Detroit Tigers 8-3 on Wednesday night in Game 1.

A rollicking AT&T Park crowd -- a sea of black and orange outfits -- roared as Sandoval connected in his first three at-bats. Popular in the Bay Area as the Kung Fu Panda for his roly-poly shape, he went 4 for 4 and drove in four runs. A Giant panda for sure.

Verlander, the reigning Cy Young winner so dominant in this postseason, looked uncomfortable from the get-go and constantly pawed at the mound.

The final score raised a nagging question for manager Jim Leyland and his favored Tigers: Did too much rest after a playoff sweep of the Yankees mean too much rust?

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Obama predicts deal on deficits and immigration in 2nd term; Romney makes election personal

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) -- President Barack Obama is confidently predicting speedy second-term agreement with Republicans to reduce federal deficits and overhaul immigration laws, commenting before setting out Wednesday on a 40-hour campaign marathon through battleground states that could decide whether he'll get the chance. Republican Mitt Romney looked to the Midwest for a breakthrough in a close race shadowed by a weak economy.

Romney declared, "We're going to get this economy cooking again," addressing a boisterous crowd in Reno, Nev., before flying back eastward to tend to his prospects in Ohio and Iowa. Romney urged audience members to consider their personal circumstances, and he said the outcome of the Nov. 6 election "will make a difference for the nation, will make a difference for the families of the nation and will make a difference for your family, individually and specifically."

With 13 days until Election Day, opinion polls depicted a close race nationally. Romney's campaign claims momentum as well as the lead in Florida and North Carolina, two battleground states with a combined 44 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Obama's aides insist the president is ahead or tied with his rival in both of those states and in the other seven decisive battlegrounds.

Not even Obama, in an interview with radio host Tom Joyner, predicted that fellow Democrats would win control of the House from Republicans, who are looking to renew a majority they won two years ago in a landslide triggered by the tea party.

The Democrats and Republicans are struggling uncertainly for control of the Senate. And for the second time, a hard-fought Senate campaign was jolted by a dispute over abortion, in this case a statement by Republican Richard Mourdock of Indiana that when a woman becomes pregnant by rape, "that's something God intended" and there should be no abortion allowed.

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Hurricane Sandy pounds Jamaica during day, then takes aim at eastern Cuba, possibly US coast

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- Hurricane Sandy lashed precarious shantytowns, stranded travelers and downed power lines with heavy wind and rain Wednesday as it roared across Jamaica and then headed for an overnight landfall in eastern Cuba and go on to threaten the Bahamas and possibly Florida.

Sandy's death toll was at least two. An elderly man was killed in Jamaica when he was crushed by a boulder that rolled onto his clapboard house, police reported. Earlier Wednesday, a woman in Haiti was swept away by a rushing river she was trying to cross.

The storm hit Jamaica as a category 1 hurricane then strengthened as it spun over open sea toward Cuba. U.S. forecasters said it had maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150 kph) late Wednesday and might grow into a category 2 storm before going ashore. It was moving north at about 13 mph (20 kph) and hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 30 miles (45 kilometers) from the center.

In some southern towns on Jamaica, a few crocodiles were caught in rushing floodwaters that carried them out of their homes in mangrove thickets, showing up in districts where electricity was knocked out, local residents reported. One big croc took up temporary residence in a family's front yard in the city of Portmore.

The hurricane's eye crossed over Jamaica by Wednesday evening and emerged from its northern coast near the town of Port Antonio, meteorologists said, but rain and winds continued to pound the Caribbean island into the night.

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and stories that will be talked about on Thursday:

1. GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR A SYRIAN TRUCE

UN backs latest call for a cease-fire, though similar efforts have failed.

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Foreign Islamic militants worry Syrian rebels but also provide a powerful boost to their fight

ALEPPO, Syria (AP) -- The presence of foreign Islamic militants battling Syria's regime is raising concerns over the possible injection of al-Qaida's influence into the country's civil war.

Syria's rebels share some of those misgivings. But they also see in the foreign extremists a welcome boost: experienced, disciplined fighters whose battlefield valor against the better-armed troops of President Bashar Assad is legendary.

Nothing typifies the dilemma more than Jabhat al-Nusra, a shadowy group with an al-Qaida-style ideology whose fighters come from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Balkans and elsewhere. Many are veterans of previous wars who came to Syria for what they consider a new "jihad" against Assad.

The group has become notorious for numerous suicide bombings during the 19-month-old conflict targeting regime and military facilities. Syria's rebels have tried to disassociate themselves from the bombings for fear their uprising will be tainted with the al-Qaida brand.

But several hundred fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra -- Arabic for "the Support Front" -- have also been a valued addition to rebel ranks in the grueling, three-month battle for control of Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

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Promoting renewable energy, China ends moratorium on new nuke plants set after Japan disaster

BEIJING (AP) -- China has decided to approve new nuclear power plants as part of plans to reduce reliance on oil and coal, ending the moratorium it imposed to review safety in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster last year.

The government's decision Wednesday that nuclear power is safe for China takes the country in the opposite direction from some developed nations such as Germany, which decided in the wake of the Fukushima disaster to speed its complete phase-out of nuclear power. Japan is planning to phase it out by 2040.

China is the world's biggest energy consumer, and building new reactors is a key part of Beijing's plans to curb demand for fossil fuels.

The communist government is aggressively promoting alternatives to coal and oil in order to reduce pollution and curb its reliance on imported petroleum, which it sees as a national security risk. Still, coal is forecast to remain the country's main energy source for decades.

The government said Wednesday it hopes to generate 30 percent of China's power from solar, wind and other renewable sources, as well as from nuclear energy, by the end of 2015. That's up from an earlier target of 15 percent from renewables plus 5 percent from nuclear by 2020.

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What GOP candidates didn't want: a new rape-and-abortion controversy just before Election Day

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Just as Mitt Romney and other Republicans had cut into the Democrats' advantage with female voters, a tea party-backed Senate candidate's awkward remark -- that if rape leads to pregnancy it's "something God intended" -- has propelled the emotional issue of abortion back to the political forefront. It's put GOP candidates in tight races, from the presidential candidate on down, on the defensive.

Divisive social issues are hardly what most GOP candidates want to be discussing in the few days remaining until elections largely hinging on jobs and the economy. Almost immediately after Richard Mourdock's comment, Republican candidates distanced themselves from the Indiana state treasurer -- though by varying degrees.

The Romney campaign said Wednesday that the presidential nominee disagreed with Mourdock but stood by his endorsement of the Senate candidate. There were no plans to drop a Romney testimonial ad for Mourdock that began airing in Indiana on Monday.

Mourdock's comment in a Tuesday night debate came in answer to a question on when abortion should or should not be allowed. Said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul: "We disagree on the policy regarding exceptions for rape and incest but still support him."

Reaction was quick from Republican senators and candidates rejecting Mourdock's statement.

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Whites more likely than blacks, Hispanics to get CPR from family or bystanders, study shows

CHICAGO (AP) -- People who collapse from cardiac arrest in poor black neighborhoods are half as likely to get CPR from family members at home or bystanders on the street as those in better-off white neighborhoods, according to a study that found the reasons go beyond race.

The findings suggest a big need for more knowledge and training, the researchers said.

The study looked at data on more than 14,000 people in 29 U.S. cities. It's one of the largest to show how race, income and other neighborhood characteristics combine to affect someone's willingness to offer heart-reviving help.

More than 300,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in their homes or other non-hospital settings every year, and most don't survive. A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops, and it's often caused by a heart attack, but not always. Quick, hard chest compressions can help people survive.

For their study, researchers looked at the makeup of neighborhoods and also the race of the victims. They found that blacks and Hispanics were 30 percent less likely to be aided than white people. The odds were the worst if the heart victim was black in a low-income black neighborhood.

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In Pyongyang, finding history and comfort in 'Gone with the Wind'

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- The former black marketeer has read it. So has the beautiful young librarian, and the aging philosophy professor who has spent his life teaching the ruling doctrine of this isolated outpost of totalitarian socialism. At times it seems as if everyone in Pyongyang, a city full of monuments to its own mythology, has read the book.

In it they found a tortured love story, or a parable of bourgeois decline. Many found heroes. They lost themselves in the story of a nation divided by war, its defeated cities reduced to smolder and ruins, its humbled aristocrats reduced to starvation.

The book is "Gone With the Wind."

To come across Margaret Mitchell's 1936 Civil War epic in North Korea is to stumble over the unlikeliest of American cultural touchstones in the unlikeliest of places.

What does antebellum plantation life have to do with North Korea, where three generations of rulers -- grandfather, father and now the young son, Kim Jong Un -- have been worshipped as omniscient? What appeal does Scarlett O'Hara's high-society ruthlessness hold for people only a few years past a horrific famine?

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'Knothole gang' gathers hours before first pitch for chance to watch World Series for free

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- They're teens skipping school and adults driving through the night to line up before dawn in soggy San Francisco - all for a chance to watch a few innings of the World Series for free.

The die-hard fans are known as the "knothole gang," a group prepared to endure all sorts of discomfort for their Giants, just as they did at AT&T Park in 2010 when the team battled the Texas Rangers, and again in September and through the playoffs.

Early Wednesday, the fans began lining up again, and the queue kept on growing as game time approached.

When the gate finally opened to admit the first wave, a little later than usual after the first pitch, they ran to vantage points like the first kids allowed into Disneyland when it opens, smiles plastered on their faces and high fives all around.

"The wait was worth it," said Gene Sennett, 19, who skipped college classes in San Luis Obispo about 200 miles south to wait in line for eight hours for a chance to watch the game for free. "I'm a royally broke college student and this is the right price."