Posted: Sep 28, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Sep 29, 2012 4:01 AM
Not all votes created equal: Presidential math in Electoral College and battleground states
WASHINGTON (AP) When it comes to electing the president, not all votes are created equal. And chances are yours will count less than those of a select few.
For example, the vote of Dave Smith in Sheridan, Wyo., counts almost 3 1/2 times as much mathematically as those of his wife's aunts in northeastern Ohio.
Why? Electoral College math.
A statistical analysis of the state-by-state voting-eligible population by The Associated Press shows that Wyoming has 139,000 eligible voters those 18 and over, U.S. citizens and non-felons for every presidential elector chosen in the state. In Ohio, it's almost 476,000 per elector, and it's nearly 478,000 in neighboring Pennsylvania.
But there's mathematical weight and then there's the reality of political power in a system where the president is decided not by the national popular vote but by an 18th century political compromise: the Electoral College.
Vatican opens public trial of pope's butler accused of stealing papal documents
VATICAN CITY (AP) The Vatican opened the public trial Saturday of the pope's butler for allegedly stealing and leaking papal correspondence to a journalist, the most embarrassing scandal of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy.
Paolo Gabriele, a 46-year-old father of three, faces up to four years in prison if he is convicted of aggravated theft in the worst security breach in the Vatican's recent history. He has already confessed, saying he acted to shed light on what he called "evil and corruption" in the church, and asked to be pardoned by the pope something Vatican watchers say is a given if he is convicted.
His trial opened inside the austere, wood-trimmed courtroom of the Vatican tribunal, housed in a four-story palazzo inside the walls of Vatican City. Journalists covering the trial were required to leave their mobile telephones outside during the proceedings, and a written note delivered to the Vatican press office confirmed that the trial was indeed under way.
While the Holy See has seen its fair share of sensational trials in 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake after being condemned by a Vatican court for heresy this is the most high-profile case to come before the three-judge panel since the creation of the Vatican City state in 1929.
Gabriele, who was replaced as papal butler after his May 24 arrest, is accused of taking the pope's correspondences, photocopying the documents and handing them off to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose book "His Holiness: The secret papers of Pope Benedict XVI," was published to great fanfare in May.
Nations attempt to unite Syria's fragmented opposition, see growing role for local councils
UNITED NATIONS (AP) Efforts to draw together the fragmented foes of Syrian President Bashar Assad could lead to direct talks between the leader's regime and his opponents, a key official said after talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Friday proposed plans to broker discussions for a political transition in Syria amid the paralysis at the U.N. Security Council which has cast a pall over the annual gathering of world leaders in New York.
Zebari told The Associated Press in an interview that he made the offer to bring together Syria's regime and opposition at a meeting Friday between nine representatives of anti-Assad groups and the Friends of Syria a coalition which includes the United States, the European Union and the Arab League.
He acknowledged that the U.N. and Arab League joint envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, would need to take the plan forward.
Establishing a more coherent opposition is seen as a means of increasing pressure on the Syrian leadership amid Russia and China's decisions to veto three Western-backed resolutions aimed at forcing Assad to end the violence.
Serb fisherman keeps watch over Danube saving people from suicide
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) On a bright autumn day, Renato Grbic was out fishing on the Danube with his brother when he heard a big splash. At first, he thought somebody had thrown something off the bridge.
Then he saw a man flailing in the water.
"We hurried and pulled the man out," Grbic recalls. "I remember telling him: Such a glorious day and you want to kill yourself!"
It was the first time Grbic saved a life. From that day 15 year ago, his own life would never be the same. The bright-eyed, tattooed restaurant owner from a shabby industrial zone on the outskirts of Belgrade has rescued 25 people who tried to kill themselves by jumping off the tall bridge over the Danube.
Always on alert in his little wooden motor boat, the burly 51-year-old has pulled people out of the river's muddy waters without asking for anything in return.
Russia's Putin moves to roll back predecessor's modest liberal legacy
MOSCOW (AP) President Vladimir Putin is turning back the clock on his predecessor's reforms literally.
This week, Putin signaled his intent to reverse one of the few high-profile reforms Dmitry Medvedev enacted while president: keeping Russia stuck in summer time all year after clocks sprang forward in March. It's perhaps an apt symbol of Putin's relentless drive to roll back even the modest liberal legacy left behind by his protege, who made timid attempts at modernization as president but never emerged from the shadow of his patron and meekly agreed to step down to let him reclaim the top job.
One by one, each of Medvedev's reforms from decriminalizing slander to purging the boards of state-run companies of government officials has been swept aside. Observers see it as part of a new tough course taken by Putin in response to massive winter protests against his rule, an indication that he sees no need for a compromise with the opposition. Suspicions are also rife that Putin may even be gearing up to dump Medvedev, his longtime political partner, as prime minister.
Nobody believed that Medvedev would really be in charge when he took over as president in 2008, while Putin moved into the prime minister's seat to observe a constitutional limit of two consecutive terms.
But he led many to believe that he may at least soften Putin's autocratic ways, especially when he proclaimed in a speech that "freedom is better than non-freedom." He heartened many by promising to allow greater political competition, champion media freedoms, liberalize the economy and fight graft.
As Election Day nears, Jackson's continued absence is wearing on patience in Chicago hometown
CHICAGO (AP) His home in Washington is for sale. His wife says he'll come back to work only when a doctor approves. He vowed to return to the campaign by Labor Day, a deadline that came ... and went.
Election Day is five weeks away, and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. remains out of sight.
It's an absence, both from his job in Congress and his campaign, that's starting to test patience in his Chicago hometown.
More than three months have passed since Jackson disappeared, initially a mystery that was later revealed to be a hospitalization for severe depression and gastrointestinal problems. There have been few updates on his condition and no hard answers to questions about his future.
All that aides will say is that Jackson's name is still on the ballot, even though he's yet to make a campaign appearance since last spring's primary. His wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, has tried to say nothing at all. When pressed, she insists she won't step in to take his place.
Masked Conn. teen killed by dad outside neighbor's home hadn't been in trouble with the law
NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) Tyler Giuliano had no trouble with the law. The teenager loved flying small planes as a Civil Air Patrol cadet and seemed happy as he played an online game with friends Wednesday night. But hours later, authorities say, Tyler was outside wearing a black ski mask and wielding a knife when he was shot by his father, who thought he was a prowler.
No immediate charges were brought against Jeffrey Giuliano, a popular fifth-grade teacher, in the slaying of 15-year-old Tyler, who was gunned down in his aunt's driveway next door to his own home in New Fairfield around 1 a.m. Thursday.
"It's something out of a Hollywood script," said John Hodge, the first selectman, or top elected official, in the town of nearly 14,000 people about 50 miles from New York City. He said he couldn't recall another killing in his eight years on the job.
State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said the boy had never been in trouble with the law, and some of those who knew him described him as a good kid with an easygoing personality. Investigators and acquaintances said they were at a loss to explain what he was doing outside dressed all in black and carrying a weapon.
"Certainly, that is the major question we are trying to answer at this point," Vance said.
Israeli immigrant who founded business, artist, UPS driver among 5 killed at Minnesota office
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) An Israeli immigrant who started a signage company in his basement and spent decades building it into a successful business was among five people slain by a fired employee at a Minneapolis workplace, authorities said.
Also killed were an avid sculptor and painter with a day job there and a UPS driver who made pickups and deliveries to the company for years. Police said he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Six people including the suspected gunman were shot to death Thursday afternoon at Accent Signage Systems, located in a quiet residential corner of northwest Minneapolis. Police say Andrew Engeldinger, 36, was fired from the company that afternoon and responded by fatally shooting others there before he turned the gun on himself in the building's basement.
Among those killed were Reuven Rahamim, 61, the company's founder; Rami Cooks, 62, of Minnetonka; Jacob Beneke, 34, of Maple Grove; Ronald Edberg, 58, of Brooklyn Center; and Keith Basinski, 50, a Wisconsin native who was the UPS driver.
No details were immediately released about why Engeldinger was fired, but Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said it appeared he singled out some victims and spared others. Engeldinger's family offered sympathy to the victims in a statement through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It said he had struggled with mental illness for years.
Schwarzenegger: Maria Shriver's mother told her to 'snap out of it' and back his bid for gov.
LOS ANGELES (AP) Arnold Schwarzenegger says his wife, Maria Shriver, was told to "snap out of it" by her mother for her attempts to persuade him against running for California governor in 2003, a conversation that ultimately opened the door to his successful candidacy.
Eunice Shriver told her daughter that her husband would be "angry for the rest of his life" if she stopped his ambitions, Schwarzenegger writes in his new autobiography, "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story."
The former governor says in the book that he had decided against running to recall Gov. Gray Davis after his wife implored him not to for the sake of their family. Maria Shriver announced his decision to their four children.
But he writes that when Maria Shriver told her mother about her efforts to thwart Schwarzenegger's political ambitions, Eunice told her daughter that women in their family "always support the men when they want to do something." Schwarzenegger says he didn't know about the conversation at the time, but learned of it later.
Maria Shriver then softened her stance, paving the way for Schwarzenegger to announce his candidacy on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," where he says he felt most comfortable.
The kids are all right: Bradley, other rookies come up big as US takes 5-3 lead at Ryder Cup
MEDINAH, Ill. (AP) Keegan Bradley's only regret was there weren't more holes to play.
Not to worry. After the day he and the rest of the U.S. rookies had, no way captain Davis Love III is pulling them off the course.
Bradley and good buddy Phil Mickelson knocked off Europe's top two teams, fellow rookies Webb Simpson and Jason Dufner each delivered a point, and the Americans are well on their way to winning the Ryder Cup for just the third time since 1995 with a 5-3 lead.
"All the rookies ... played very, very well," Love said. "I was really impressed. We played as a team today, and I think that's all we wanted. We got off to a great start."
There are two more sessions of team matches Saturday, and Love is sticking with his young guns. Simpson and Bubba Watson, who thrashed Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson 5-and-4, will lead off the morning foursomes against Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. Bradley and Mickelson will face Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, and Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson will play Nicolas Colsaerts and Sergio Garcia. Jim Furyk and Brandt Snedeker will get another crack at Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell after pushing them so hard in Friday's first match Europe's top team had nothing left in the afternoon.