Posted: Aug 24, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Aug 25, 2012 4:02 AM
Refinery explosion in Venezuela leaves at least 7 dead, dozens injured, state governor says
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) An explosion rocked the Amuay refinery in Venezuela early Saturday, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens, an official said.
Falcon state Gov. Stella Lugo gave the initial death toll on state television, saying at least 48 people were injured.
People who were nearby at the time of the blast early Saturday posted video on the Internet showing a ball of fire over the refinery.
Lugo said firefighters and National Guard troops were securing the area after the blast at the refinery, located on the Paraguana Peninsula in western Venezuela.
The blast occurred after 1 a.m. when a gas leak created a cloud that ignited, Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said. Some nearby houses were damaged by the blast, he said.
Poll: Call them maybes; a fourth of voters undecided or soft supporters of Obama, Romney
WASHINGTON (AP) Call them maybes.
Two months out from Election Day, nearly a quarter of all registered voters are either undecided about the presidential race or iffy in their support for a candidate, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows.
These voters could well prove decisive in a close contest. And they will be tough nuts for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to crack.
Just 29 percent of them have a strong interest in the campaign, compared with 51 percent of those who've made up their minds. So no, they won't be hanging on every word coming out of the national political conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., over the next two weeks.
Who are they? These so-called persuadable voters are more often men than women. They are a bit younger than those who've made up their minds. They have less education and income. And they are far less partisan.
Apple's $1B award in Samsung patents lawsuit could mean fewer smartphone options for consumers
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Apple Inc.'s $1 billion legal victory could mean fewer smartphone options for consumers to choose from, analysts said.
A federal jury's verdict Friday that Samsung Electronic Co. stole Apple's technology to make and market smartphones using Google's Android software sends a warning to other companies manufacturing similar devices, the biggest marketplace threat to Apple.
"Some of these device makers might end up saying, 'We love Android, but we really don't want to fight with Apple anymore,'" said Christopher Marlett, CEO of MDB Capital Group, an investment bank specializing in intellectual property. "I think it may ultimately come down to Google having to indemnify these guys, if it wants them to continue using Android."
That's if the verdict stands. Samsung, the Seoul-based global leader among smartphone makers, vowed to fight. Its lawyers told the judge it intended to ask her to toss out the verdict.
"This decision should not be allowed to stand because it would discourage innovation and limit the rights of consumers to make choices for themselves," Samsung lead lawyer John Quinn said. He argued that the judge or an appeals court should overturn the verdict.
Police try to piece together why quiet loner killed ex-colleague outside Empire State Building
NEW YORK (AP) A gunman who killed a former co-worker in cold blood in the shadow of the Empire State Building and then was shot dead by police after he turned his gun on them spent long hours in the quiet of Central Park, photographing hawks and marveling over nature's beauty.
His victim was a gregarious salesman, beloved by his nieces and nephews as the fun uncle who could talk with equal expertise about the New York Jets and the women's fashion accessories he sold.
Investigators on Saturday were trying to piece together what caused Jeffrey Johnson, a T-shirt designer, to ambush Steve Ercolino, an apparel company vice president, a day earlier outside the Manhattan offices of the company where they once were colleagues.
Police said Johnson hid behind a car and then killed Ercolino with five gunshots as he arrived for work. Johnson then was shot by two police officers who confronted him on a busy sidewalk.
Security camera footage showed the officers had only an instant to react when Johnson suddenly turned as they approached and pointed his gun at them, his arm cocked as if to fire.
Romney turns to Ohio after string of distractions that include questioning Obama's birth place
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan look to shrug off the latest in a series of unwanted distractions when they face Ohio voters as the Republican presidential ticket for the first time.
The two men are appearing at a Columbus-area rally Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after Romney raised the discredited rumor that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States. The comment, and his efforts to explain it, overshadowed Romney's economic message as he campaigned near his Michigan birthplace on Friday.
The Ohio rally is expected to be Romney's final public appearance of the weekend ahead of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., where the former Massachusetts governor will formally accept the presidential nomination.
While GOP officials suggest they have momentum on their side heading into the crucial period, Romney and his party have faced tough questions in recent weeks on Medicare and abortion.
Now his joking reference to the president's birth certificate links him to the so-called birther movement and a wing of his party a combined 25 percent in an April Pew Research Center poll that says it either isn't sure or doesn't believe Obama was born in the United States.
Tropical Storm Isaac closes in on vulnerable Haiti, but unlikely to strike as hurricane
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) Tropical Storm Isaac bore down on Haiti's southern peninsula early Saturday, threatening a city prone to flooding and dousing other areas of the poor nation still trying to recover from the terrible 2010 earthquake.
The storm swirled past the southern coast of the neighboring Dominican Republic on Friday, dropping heavy rain on that country and on Haiti. Forecasts put it on a path over eastern Cuba and on to the Gulf of Mexico, with it still posing a potential threat to Florida as a hurricane just as the Republicans gather for their national convention.
Forecasters said Isaac could dump as much as eight to 12 inches (30 centimeters) and even up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) on Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as produce a storm surge of up to 3 feet (0.9 meters).
There was a potential for deadly flash floods and mudslides in Haiti because so much of the country is deforested. Tropical storms in the past have killed thousands.
"That kind of rain is going to cause some life-threatening flash floods and mudslides," said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami.
APNewsBreak: Sandusky victim sues Penn State over 'shameful' handling of child abuse claims
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) The young man whose 2009 allegations of sexual abuse led to the Penn State scandal and criminal convictions of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is asking a court to find the university also at fault.
A lawsuit, filed Friday by the person known as Victim 1 at Sandusky's trial, said university officials made deliberate decisions not to report Sandusky to authorities.
It described their actions as "a function of (Penn State's) purposeful, deliberate and shameful subordination of the safety of children to its economic self-interests, and to its interest in maintaining and perpetuating its reputation."
The complaint was filed electronically in Philadelphia state court, Slade McLaughlin, a lawyer for Victim 1, told The Associated Press. The suit names no other defendants than the State College university.
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 criminal counts for sexual abuse of 10 boys, both on and off campus. At 68, he awaits sentencing that will likely send him to prison for the rest of his life.
Activists hope DNC fuels marriage equality debate in state that banned same-sex marriage
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the host state of the Democratic National Convention has stirred anger and resentment among advocates for marriage equality, many of whom are converging on Charlotte this weekend for the city's gay pride festival.
Organizers say they hope the festival will draw attention to the issue and create momentum that lasts through the political convention that starts the following week. Some of the thousands of protesters expected at the convention will be demonstrating for gay marriage.
"We're excited that the convention is in Charlotte," said David Webb, one of the pride festival's organizers. "But we also want to show that we're united and will continue to push for change."
When North Carolina voters passed the constitutional amendment in May, supporters of gay marriage first demanded that Democrats rethink Charlotte as the location of their convention. But advocates have since seized on the party gathering as a high-profile chance to make their message heard with support from the party itself. The national party is expected to approve marriage equality as part of its national platform during the convention being held from Sept. 4-6.
For the first two days, the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte's downtown will be the main venue. On the last day, President Barack Obama will make his acceptance speech at the 74,000-seat outdoor Bank of America Stadium where the city's NFL team plays.
Ideological purity is hard for tea party lawmakers facing constituent demands
WASHINGTON (AP) Twenty months into a Congress they have tilted rightward, tea party loyalists are finding that ideological purity can be elusive for conservative lawmakers trying to balance their convictions against constituents' election-year needs.
Rep. Paul Ryan, who has won tea party praise as Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, had a General Motors assembly plant that was about to be shuttered in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., when he voted for the $14 billion auto industry bailout in 2008. The seven-term House Republican also voted for the $700 billion financial industry rescue that same year.
He has since criticized both efforts by President George W. Bush to combat that year's near economic collapse. Yet his votes plus his support for Bush's 2003 debt-financed expansion of Medicare to provide prescription drug coverage rankle conservatives to this day and underscore the challenge of adhering to small-government principles when voters' bread-and-butter interests are at stake.
More recently, this campaign season has seen some of the House's most conservative members split over a sweeping farm bill, disaster aid to drought-battered farmers and legislation to finance transportation projects and keep student loan interest rates from ballooning. Such divisions have dampened the expectations of tea party leaders, with some now saying it will take several elections before they win the Washington clout they need.
"No one is going to agree with us 100 percent of the time," Jenny Beth Martin, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, said of members of Congress. "And we do understand they do have to look at what's best for their district and their constituents."
US doping agency erases Armstrong's 7 Tour de France titles, bans him for life from cycling
His seven Tour de France titles stripped away and his legacy in tatters, Lance Armstrong is heading back outdoors and into the public eye.
A day after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency punished Armstrong with a lifetime ban from professional cycling and erased 14 years of his career after concluding he used performance-enhancing druugs, Armstrong is scheduled to ride in a mountain bike race in Aspen, Colo., on Saturday and follow it up by running a marathon there Sunday.
And he has no plans to slow down any time soon, despite the whirlwind of controversy swirling around him.
Armstrong spokesman Mark Higgins said Armstrong also still plans to attend the World Cancer Congress in Montreal where's he scheduled to deliver a keynote address to thousands in attendance.
"He's getting out there," Higgins said.