Posted: Oct 19, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Oct 20, 2012 4:01 AM
Romney and Obama leave campaign trail to prepare for last debate, give running mates the stage
WASHINGTON (AP) With one debate left, President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are retreating from the campaign trail to bone up on foreign policy, leaving the work of courting voters to their running mates.
Monday's debate in Boca Raton, Fla., with its focus on international affairs, is the third and final between the two rivals and comes just 15 days before the election.
Obama left Friday for Camp David, the presidential hideaway in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains. He was to remain there with advisers until Monday morning. Romney was to spend the weekend in Florida with aides preparing the debate.
Romney running mate Paul Ryan planned a campaign stop in Pennsylvania on Saturday. Vice President Joe Biden was headed for St. Augustine, Fla.
Monday's 90-minute debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News. It will be similar to the first debate, with both men standing at lecterns on a stage. Schieffer has listed five subject areas, with more time devoted to the Middle East and terrorism than any other topic.
Angry protesters burn tires, block roads in Lebanon following deadly car bombing
BEIRUT (AP) Protesters burned tires and set up roadblocks around Lebanon on Saturday in a sign of boiling anger over a massive car bomb that killed a top security official and seven other people a day earlier a devastating attack that threatened to bring Syria's civil war to Lebanon.
The Lebanese Cabinet held an emergency meeting Saturday as the country's opposition called for Prime Minister Najib Mikati to resign. The state-run National News Agency said security commanders would attend the meeting to discuss how to keep the peace.
The government declared a national day of mourning for the victims, who included Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, head of the intelligence division of Lebanon's domestic security forces. Dozens were wounded in Friday's blast in Beirut's mainly Christian Achrafieh neighborhood.
Many observers said the attack appeared to have links to the Syrian civil war, which has been raging for 19 months. Al-Hassan, 47, headed an investigation over the summer that led to the arrest of former Information Minister Michel Samaha, one of Syrian President Bashar Assad's most loyal allies in Lebanon.
Samaha, who is in custody, is accused of plotting a campaign of bombings and assassinations to spread sectarian violence in Lebanon at Syria's behest. Also indicted in the August sweep was Syrian Brig. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, one of Assad's highest aides.
Boys, birds & bees: Have that talk sooner, says study that found early puberty hits boys, too
CHICAGO (AP) When it comes to the birds and the bees, some parents may want to have that talk with their boys a little sooner than they expected.
Researchers have found signs of puberty in American boys up to two years earlier than previously reported age 9 on average for blacks, 10 for whites and Hispanics. Other studies have suggested that girls, too, are entering puberty younger.
Why is this happening? Theories range from higher levels of obesity and inactivity to chemicals in food and water, all of which might interfere with normal hormone production. But those are just theories, and they remain unproven.
Doctors say earlier puberty is not necessarily cause for concern. And some experts question whether the trend is even real.
Dr. William Adelman, an adolescent medicine specialist in the Baltimore area, says the new research is the first to find early, strong physical evidence that boys are maturing earlier. But he added that the study still isn't proof and said it raises a lot of questions.
Unions shift political muscle to state and local races to limit anti-labor measures
WASHINGTON (AP) Unions are shifting more of their political resources to state and local races this year as they try to head off passage of laws that could undermine bargaining rights, make it harder to organize or reduce their political muscle.
Labor leaders say their top goal remains re-electing President Barack Obama, but several unions are redirecting their focus from the presidential and congressional campaigns to state and local races in dozens of states where they feel threatened.
In New Hampshire, unions want to keep the governor's seat in Democratic hands to prevent a right-to-work measure. In Maine and Minnesota, labor leaders hope to overturn Republican majorities in state legislatures. And in Michigan, unions are trying to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.
The shift comes as organized labor is still reeling from battles in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states where governors have sought to limit union rights for public workers or otherwise restrict union power.
"This year we've invested in these races more than ever before," said Brian Weeks, political director of the country's largest public workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Romney blasts Russia on campaign trail, but he may need to seek compromise if elected
WASHINGTON (AP) Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney calls Russia the No. 1 foe of the United States and promises to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. But if he's elected president, he might find that he'll need Moscow's help.
Russia plays a critical role in facilitating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The United States also needs Moscow's cooperation on keeping nuclear materials away from terrorists and American adversaries, and preventing gridlock at the U.N. Security Council, where both countries have vetoes.
While Romney has criticized President Barack Obama's "reset" its policy for improving relations with Russia he has not said what exactly he would do differently beyond taking a tougher approach. Given U.S. interests in a cooperative relationship with Russia, some analysts think Romney may have to tone down his rhetoric if wins the White House.
"He may discover the value of Russia as a partner on some issues," says Andrew Kuchins, the head of the Russia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
U.S.-Russian relations, like international affairs in general, have not been major issues in a presidential campaign dominated by the economy. But they are an area of sharp disagreement between the candidates and could be an issue in Monday's presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy.
Boy's 'miracle' cure from flesh-eating bacteria leads pope to name Native American saint
VATICAN CITY (AP) Jake Finkbonner was so close to death after flesh-eating bacteria infected him through a cut on his lip that his parents had last rites performed and were discussing donating the 5-year-old's tiny organs.
Jake's 2006 cure from the infection was deemed medically inexplicable by the Vatican, the "miracle" needed to propel a 17th century Native American, Kateri Tekakwitha, on to sainthood. Kateri will be canonized on Sunday along with six other people, the first Native American from what is now the U.S. to receive the honor.
Jake is fully convinced, as is the Catholic Church, that the prayers his family and community offered to God through Kateri's intercession, including the placement of a Kateri relic on Jake's leg, were responsible for his survival.
Jake, now 12 and an avid basketball player and cross-country runner, will be present at the canonization, along with hundreds of members of his own Lummi tribe from northwest Washington state and indigenous communities across the U.S. and Canada who have converged on Rome to honor one of their own. It's a ceremony the Catholic Church hopes will encourage Native Americans to keep to their Christian faith amid continued resentment among some that Catholicism was imposed on them by colonial-era missionaries centuries ago.
"I believe everybody has a purpose on this earth," Jake's mother Elsa Finkbonner said this week soon after the family arrived in Rome for the ceremony. "I think this Sunday Jake will define his purpose, and that's to make Kateri a saint."
Palestinian president and his Fatah movement seek to revive flagging support in West Bank vote
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) Palestinians voted for mayors and local councils in 93 communities across the West Bank on Saturday, their first chance to cast ballots in six years.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party hope the election will revive flagging popular support in an ostensibly fail-proof environment, with Fatah rival Hamas boycotting the West Bank vote. Hamas also blocked elections in Gaza, the territory it seized from Abbas in 2007.
Abbas' party could still walk away bruised, however, if turnout is particularly low or if Fatah renegades competing in several of the larger communities defeat candidates formally endorsed by the movement.
The election is also overshadowed by widespread voter apathy and a general sense of malaise.
Abbas' Palestinian Authority, a self-rule government in parts of the Israeli-controlled West Bank, is mired in a chronic cash crisis. Efforts to heal the Palestinian political split have failed. And prospects are virtually nil for resuming meaningful negotiations with Israel's hardline government on setting up a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, the territories Israel captured in 1967.
Release of Scout abuse files sparks public interest as attorney fields new claims of abuse
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) A website with files showing the Boy Scouts of America's cover-up of decades of sexual abuse is generating interest from people wanting to know who the alleged abusers are and whether people who molested them as Scouts are in the files.
Release of the files has also prompted a debate on the Boy Scouts' Facebook page. Some people said they'd never allow their children to be involved in the organization and criticized the secrecy of the files. Others described positive experiences in the Scouts for themselves or their children, saying the organization's efforts to prevent abuse have improved significantly.
The 14,500 pages of Scout files, from 1959-1985, were posted Thursday on the website of Kelly Clark, the Portland attorney who used the files as evidence in a 2010 lawsuit he won against the Scouts.
The website got more than 200,000 hits within the first few hours of the files' posting, crashing the site.
Clark said his firm has received about four dozen emails from people about the documents. About half came from people who say they were abused when they were in the Scouts and were interested in filing lawsuits.
Sting moves venue of Philippine concert after environmentalists petition against arena
MANILA, Philippines (AP) Sting has moved the location of his "Back to Bass Tour" concert in the Philippines following a petition by environmentalists who said the original venue is owned by a conglomerate that plans to uproot 182 trees for a parking lot and mall expansion in a northern mountain city.
The SM Mall of Asia Arena said on Saturday that changing the site of the Dec. 9 concert was "the decision of the artist himself."
"Understandably, the known environment advocate artist was left with no choice in spite of the SM representatives' appeal," it said in a statement.
SM Prime Holdings, which operates SM malls and the arena on Manila Bay, is owned by the Philippines' richest man, mall mogul Henry Sy.
Environmentalists said in their petition that as a champion of the environment, "Sting can't be saving rainforests and enabling SM to rape the environment at the same time!"
Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt: Once Alex Rodriguez signed his huge contract, he was cursed
There was a time when Alex Rodriguez was touted as the guy who could relieve us of Barry Bonds as the home run king. He was young, healthy and an MVP contender every year.
If anyone deserved $30 million a year, it was him. That's a stretch "deserve" $30 million a year. Maybe discovering a cure for cancer, world hunger or bringing about global peace, but not playing baseball. Who's worth that number? Surely not a baseball player. Funny, Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise gets the same for a movie, no one raises an eyebrow.
No discussion about Alex Rodriguez can be complete without the subject of money. For an athlete who dedicates his life to his craft, the size of the paycheck is a major factor. No one has ever refused money or given money back. Athletes are entertainers, some ridiculously high-paid entertainers.
In a perfect world, entertainers would not be allowed to make more money than doctors, police officers or anybody whose work made a difference to society. Ours is not a perfect world, so things get out of balance. Something like a young super-athlete, who played baseball for an eccentric owner, in an era when expanded TV, media, Internet and general economic growth seemed evident, was part of a perfect storm.
Alex Rodriguez was cursed. At the time he had no idea, none of us did. That contract changed him and baseball and has been a burden to many. A burden under which he has to play, fans have to watch and baseball has to exist. Alex Rodriguez's career will never be appreciated.