Posted: May 12, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: May 13, 2012 4:01 AM
Romney defends family values, Christian faith in address to evangelical university
LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) Mitt Romney's Mormon faith has shaped his life, but he barely mentioned it as he spoke to graduates at an evangelical university Saturday.
And he hardly touched on hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage, instead offering a broad-based defense of values like family and hard work.
"Culture what you believe, what you value, how you live matters," Romney told graduates gathered in the football stadium on Liberty University's campus in the Virginia mountains. "The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and at the foundation, the preeminence of the family."
Instead of a red-meat conservative policy speech, Romney discussed his own family and offered a defense of Christianity, saying that "there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action." Still, he was inclusive: "Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life," Romney said.
He had one sustained applause line in a 20-minute speech delivered days after President Barack Obama historically embraced gay marriage. "Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman," Romney said to a cheering crowd of students who have to follow a strict code of conduct that considers sex out of wedlock and homosexuality to be sins.
Boston University community mourns the death of 3 students in minivan crash in New Zealand
BOSTON (AP) Tori Pinheiro shed tears and shared the sorrow of the loss of her boyfriend as Boston University students, faculty and officials gathered in a campus plaza to mourn three classmates studying abroad who died in a minivan crash in New Zealand.
Pinheiro told the few hundred who gathered at BU's Marsh Plaza on Saturday night that her boyfriend, Austin Brashears, was among those who died earlier in the day, half a world away. She cried as she recalled how friendly he was and how much she loved him.
She said he recently had left her a voicemail saying he missed her, and she has been playing it repeatedly.
"I listened to it four times, just to hear your voice," she told the crowd as she tried to fight back tears.
Brashears was from Huntington Beach, Calif. The university says the other students killed were Daniela Lekhno, of Manalapan, N.J., and Roch Jauberty, whose parents live in Paris.
Election in most populous German state likely to produce another setback for Chancellor Merkel
BERLIN (AP) Germany's most populous state holds an election Sunday, with polls showing good chances of victory for a center-left regional government that Chancellor Angela Merkel has sought to label as irresponsibly spendthrift.
About 13.2 million people are eligible to vote for the state legislature in North Rhine-Westphalia in western Germany, which includes Cologne, Dusseldorf and the industrial Ruhr region.
Sunday's election is the third state-level vote this year. It comes a week after a regional coalition of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the pro-market Free Democrats the parties that make up the national government lost power in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.
It also follows setbacks for Merkel's austerity-led response to the eurozone debt crisis in French and Greek elections last weekend.
North Rhine-Westphalia, a traditional center-left stronghold, is voting three years ahead of schedule after its current minority government, made up of Germany's main national opposition parties, narrowly failed to get a budget passed in March.
Three killed in Lebanon as Syria tensions cross border and cause clashes in northern city
TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP) Sectarian violence linked to the unrest in neighboring Syria shook the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Sunday, with the state news agency reporting a soldier and two civilians killed in the street clashes.
The fighting highlights how easily trouble in Syria can raise tensions in Lebanon, with which it shares a complex web of political and sectarian ties and rivalries.
Residents say gunfire broke out in the city Saturday and continued through the night primarily between a neighborhood populated by Sunni Muslims who hate Syrian President Bashar Assad and another area with many Assad backers from his Alawite sect.
Lebanon's national news agency NNA said one soldier was shot dead by a sniper in the city early Sunday. Another man was found dead on the side of a road while a third died after a shell landed in a residential neighborhood.
An Associated Press reporter in the city said the Lebanese army sent reinforcements to the city, but that gunmen still patrolled the streets and intermittently shot at each other with automatic rifles. Heavier weapons, like rocket-propelled grenades, have also been fired.
Gunman assassinates member of Afghan peace council in Kabul, dealing new blow to talks
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) An assassin armed with a silenced pistol shot dead a top member of the Afghan peace council Sunday at a traffic intersection in the nation's capital, police said. The killing strikes another blow to efforts to negotiate a political resolution to the decade-long war.
Arsala Rahmani was a former Taliban official who reconciled with the government and was active in trying to set up formal talks with the insurgents.
He was shot at an intersection in western Kabul by a gunman in a white Toyota Corolla while being driven to his office, said Mohammad Zahir, head of the city police's criminal investigation division. He did not have a bodyguard with him at the time.
"Only one shot was fired," Zahir said. "Our initial reports are that it was a pistol with a silencer. Rahmani died on the way to the hospital." Zahir said an investigation was under way.
The Taliban denied responsibility for the killing, although they had earlier indicated that they would target peace negotiators.
Indonesia's airline boom raises questions of maintaining improved safety standards
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) Dozens of fledgling airlines that have sprung up to serve Indonesia's island-hopping new middle class could jeopardize the archipelago's recently improved safety reputation, aviation experts say.
The trend threatens to erode higher standards established during what one analyst called a "tremendous amount of soul searching" by major carriers and the government after 2007, when frequent crashes prompted the European Union to ban all Indonesian airlines from landing on its runways for two years.
With growth rates of nearly 20 percent per year, Indonesia is one of Asia's most rapidly expanding airline markets, but the country is struggling to provide qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety. And with so many new, small carriers, it's hard to monitor all their standards.
"We are not ready for this boom," said Ruth Simatupang, an Indonesian aviation consultant and former safety investigator.
Indonesia's two largest airlines national carrier Garuda and rapidly expanding boutique airline Lion Air haven't had a fatal accident in five years and eight years, respectively. But small passenger and cargo carriers plus military aircraft have kept the frequency of crashes to about once every two months, according to statistics compiled by the Aviation Safety Network.
China, SKorea, Japan try to ease NKorea tensions, lay groundwork for regional free trade area
BEIJING (AP) The leaders of China, South Korea and Japan said Sunday that they will work together to try to calm tensions on the Korean peninsula. The three largest East Asian economies also took steps toward deepening their economic ties by laying the groundwork for a regional free trade area.
The nations which together account for 90 percent of the East Asian economy were holding their fifth annual trilateral summit, with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao hosting, and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda attending.
Lee said the three countries all agreed that any further provocations from North Korea would be unacceptable.
A failed rocket launch by North Korea last month drew sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, and there are now fears Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its third nuclear test.
Wen urged all parties to "return to the right track of dialogue and negotiations."
Calif. FBI agent missing, possibly armed with handgun, said to be despondent
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) Law enforcement officers in Southern California have launched a massive search in rugged mountain terrain for a missing FBI agent who was said to be despondent and possibly suicidal.
About 100 FBI agents, 40 sheriff's department rescuers and a dozen local police officers participated in the search for Los Angeles-based Special Agent Stephen Ivens, who remained missing late Saturday. He was described as an avid hiker and runner.
FBI Special Agent Steve Gomez said dogs had tracked Ivens' scent toward the rugged Verdugo Mountains, east of Burbank, but searchers were fanning out throughout Los Angeles County.
Ivens, 35, was last seen by family members Thursday evening, KABC-TV reported (http://bit.ly/K6vDfr). He left his Burbank home the next morning on foot and had not been seen since, FBI officials said at a news conference.
Ivens was distraught and authorities fear he may have harmed himself, according to KABC-TV. Officials did not say why Ivens was distraught.
Bass player Donald 'Duck' Dunn of Booker T. and the MGs dies in Tokyo
TOKYO (AP) Bass player and songwriter Donald "Duck" Dunn, a member of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame band Booker T. and the MGs and the Blues Brothers band, has died in Tokyo. He was 70.
Dunn was in Tokyo for a series of shows. News of his death was posted on the Facebook site of his friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour. Cropper said Dunn died in his sleep.
Miho Harasawa, a spokeswoman for Tokyo Blue Note, the last venue Dunn played, confirmed he died alone early Sunday. She had no further details.
Dunn, who was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1941, performed on recordings with Eric Clapton, Neil Young and many others, and specialized in blues, gospel and soul. He played himself in the 1980 hit movie "The Blues Brothers."
He received a lifetime achievement Grammy award in 2007 for his work with Booker T. and the MGs.
Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace lead Lakers past Nuggets 96-87 in thrilling Game 7
LOS ANGELES (AP) Pau Gasol was consumed by determination, holding off Kenneth Faried with one arm and relentlessly tipping the ball at the hoop with the other in the fourth quarter of Game 7. One, two, three, four five! offensive rebounds later, the ball finally surrendered and dropped through the hoop.
A few minutes later, the truth was as undeniable as that 7-foot Spaniard. Although the Nuggets drove them to the brink of playoff collapse, the Los Angeles Lakers still have the tenacity to win on the biggest nights of the postseason.
Even when Kobe Bryant doesn't lead them.
Gasol had 23 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots, Metta World Peace scored 15 points in his return from a seven-game suspension, and the Lakers outlasted Denver for a thrilling 96-87 victory Saturday night to win their first-round series.
Steve Blake scored a playoff career-high 19 points and Bryant had a quiet 17 points and eight assists against regular double-teams for the Lakers, who blew a 16-point lead in the second half before surviving a finale with wild momentum swings and furious physical play.