Posted: Oct 20, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Oct 21, 2012 4:01 AM
Obama, Romney cram foreign policy 1 day out from third and final debate
WASHINGTON (AP) One day out from their last debate, Republican Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are cramming foreign policy and taking a rare break from swing-state campaigning.
Monday's face-off in Boca Raton, Fla., represents one of the last major opportunities for Obama and Romney to capture the attention of millions of voters especially that small but sought-after group of voters who haven't yet made up their minds.
Obama was holed up in Camp David in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains, where he arrived Friday to prep for the debate, a 90-minute encounter focused on international affairs. With him at the presidential retreat were a band of top advisers including National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, campaign strategist David Axelrod and White House senior adviser David Plouffe.
Romney planned to spend the weekend in Florida, continuing intensive preparation that has consumed large amounts of his time in recent weeks.
Foreign policy has surfaced as a prominent issue in the waning weeks of the race, elevated by a deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and a restive situation in Syria. Although polls show voters continue to prioritize economic issues, both candidates are aggressively pitching themselves as more competent to be commander in chief.
Security tightened in Beirut for funeral of anti-Syrian intelligence official killed by bomb
BEIRUT (AP) Lebanese forces set up road blocks and cordoned off Beirut's central square Sunday, boosting security in the capital ahead of a public funeral for an assassinated intelligence official who was a powerful opponent of Syria.
The bombing on Friday killed Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan and seven others in an attack that many blame on Syria. Al-Hassan, 47, headed an investigation over the summer that led to the arrest of former Information Minister Michel Samaha, a Lebanese politician who was one of Syria's most loyal allies in Lebanon.
Even before the bombing, the civil war in neighboring Syria had set off violence in Lebanon and deepened tensions between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad's regime. The attack heightened fears that Lebanon could easily plunge back into cycles of sectarian violence and reprisal that have haunted it for decades.
Dozens of anti-Syrian protesters erected eight tents near the Cabinet headquarters in central Beirut, saying they will stay until Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government, which is dominated by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah and its allies, resigns. Hezbollah is Syria's most powerful ally in Lebanon, which for much of the past 30 years has lived under Syrian military and political domination.
"The Syrian regime started a war against us and we will fight this battle until the end," said protester Anthony Labaki, a 24-year-old physiotherapist who is a member of the right-wing Phalange Party. He said the protesters will not leave the area until Mikati's government resigns and those behind al-Hassan's killing are uncovered.
Pope names 7 new saints as Vatican seeks to revive faith in places where it's lagging
VATICAN CITY (AP) Pope Benedict XVI added seven more saints onto the roster of Catholic role models on Sunday, saying their example would strengthen the church it tries to rekindle the faith in places where it's lagging. Two of them were Americans: Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint from the U.S. and Mother Marianne Cope, a 19th century Franciscan nun who cared for leprosy patients in Hawaii.
Native Americans in beaded and feathered headdresses and leather-fringed tunics sang songs to Kateri as the sun rose over St. Peter's Square ahead of the Mass. Also taking part was Sharon Smith, whose cure from complications from pancreatitis was deemed a "miracle" by the Vatican, paving the way for Mother Marianne to be canonized.
In his homily, Benedict praised each of the seven new saints as examples for the entire church, calling Cope a "shining" example for Catholics and Kateri an inspiration to indigenous faithful across North America.
"With heroic courage they spent their lives in total consecration to the Lord and in the generous service of their brethren," he said.
Pilgrims from around the world attended the Mass, which started with the head of the Vatican's saint-making office reading aloud each of the names of the seven new saints in Latin, drawing cheers from the crowd.
White House prepared to meet one-on-one with Iran, but no agreement yet
WASHINGTON (AP) The White House says it is prepared to talk one-on-one with Iran to find a diplomatic settlement to the impasse over Tehran's reported pursuit of nuclear weapons, but there's no agreement now to meet.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Saturday that President Barack Obama has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and will do whatever's necessary to block that from happening. Vietor said Iran must come in line with its obligations, or else faced increased pressure.
"The onus is on the Iranians to do so, otherwise they will continue to face crippling sanctions and increased pressure," Vietor said in a statement. He noted that efforts to get Iran back to the table with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany the so-called "P5+1" continue.
Iran has been a recurring issue in the presidential election campaign and Vietor's statement was released shortly after The New York Times reported Saturday that the U.S. and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to negotiations. The paper said Iran has insisted the talks wait until after the Nov. 6 election.
Vietor, however, denied that any such agreement had been reached.
Syrian activists: Explosion hits Old City quarter in Damascus, at least 10 killed
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) An explosion hit the Old City of Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens of other civilians, Syrian activists said. It came as President Bashar Assad discussed the civil war in his country with visiting U.N. peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.
The blast targeted a police station in the Bab Touma neighborhood, a Syrian official said, insisting on anonymity because he is not allowed to make press statements.
Bab Touma, a popular attraction for shoppers, is inhabited mostly by members of Syria's Christian minority.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the death toll. It said it was not immediately clear if the victims were civilians or policemen. But it described the blast as "strong" and said ambulances and police cars were rushing to the area.
No other details were immediately available.
Police find body during search for masked gunman accused of shooting Calif family, killing 2
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) Police found a body in the Southern California bungalow belonging to a gunman who is accused of breaking into a neighbor's home and shooting five family members, killing two of them.
The shooting rampage before dawn Saturday killed a father, who was shielding two of his children, and his 4-year-old son, Inglewood Police Chief Mark Fronterotta said. His 28-year-old wife was shot in both legs but managed to carry the wounded 4-year-old out of the house.
Paramedics found her collapsed on the street. The child, who suffered a bullet wound to the head, died at a hospital.
"Their efforts were certainly heroic," the chief said. He called the shooting spree a horrific crime.
Investigators believed Desmond John Moses, 55, set his own home ablaze before entering the family's home around 4 a.m. wearing a dark cap and a white painter's mask.
Lawsuit claims Chicago doctors mistakenly declared boy, 8, dead; hospital denies allegations
CHICAGO (AP) The parents of an 8-year-old boy who has had severe brain damage for years have sued a Chicago hospital, alleging that doctors pronounced their son dead, keeping him off his ventilator for hours, even though relatives continued to insist that the boy's eyes and body were still moving.
The lawsuit filed this week by Sheena Lane and Pink Dorsey on behalf of their son, Jaylen Dorsey, accuses Mercy Hospital and Medical Center of negligence in the February incident and alleges that nearly five hours passed before staff agreed to perform a cardiac ultrasound, which showed Jaylen Dorsey's heart was beating.
"You didn't have to be a doctor to see that the heart was pumping blood," the boy's father, Pink Dorsey, said at a news conference Friday.
The hospital denies the lawsuit's allegations, and said in a written statement that Jaylen arrived at the hospital after suffering full cardiac arrest for 25 minutes and doctors treated him for "an extended period of time" before declaring him dead.
"Despite extensive resuscitative efforts, Jaylen did not immediately regain a pulse and no heart activity was noted for several hours," the hospital said. "... While this is a very rare occurrence, extensive resuscitation efforts, medication and young age can result in a patient's heart function returning spontaneously. We hope for continued strength for Jaylen."
NYC woman who was 8 months pregnant found stabbed to death inside home a day before wedding
NEW YORK (AP) A woman who was eight months pregnant was found stabbed to death Saturday in her apartment, the day before her wedding, police said.
Vindalee Smith, 38, was found on the floor of her apartment in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn with a gaping wound in her neck. It wasn't clear how long she'd been dead before the body was discovered by her landlord. Her unborn child did not survive.
There was no sign of forced entry, and no weapon was recovered, police said. Investigators are looking for a possible suspect. They interviewed her friends and family, and spoke to her fiance.
"I can't even begin to imagine who would want to do that," her friend, Sybil Samuel, told local newspapers. "It would be the devil, to kill a woman with a child in her stomach. They killed two people."
Smith had four children in their teens and 20s, friends said. A baby shower had been planned for Saturday evening, followed by a small wedding Sunday. Friends told reporters that Smith had met her fiance about a year ago.
Success has not soured for Susan Boyle, but reality proves more complex than fairy tale image
LONDON (AP) She dreamed a dream, and it came true. But what happened next for Susan Boyle?
The middle-aged church volunteer from a small town in Scotland became an instant global celebrity in 2009 with her heart-stopping rendition of the "Les Miserables" number "I Dreamed a Dream" on a TV talent show.
A week is a long time in showbiz and in our hyper-speed online age three and a half years is an eternity but Boyle is still going strong. She has sold millions of records, received an honorary doctorate, sung for Pope Benedict XVI and performed in Las Vegas. A stage musical about her life has played to enthusiastic crowds across Britain and is headed for Australia, and next month she releases her fourth album, "Standing Ovation."
But the 51-year-old singer who entered the TV talent contest to make her late mother proud is remarkably unchanged. She's still a bit frumpy, though she's acquired a new hairdo, more expensive clothes and a makeover. She still lives in her down-at-heel home town, has outbursts of anger and struggles to overcome her nerves before live performances.
It's a fairy tale, yes, but with dark shadows lurking in the corners.
AP Top 25: No. 3 Florida capitalizes on 4 turnovers, thrashes 9th-ranked South Carolina 44-11
No. 3 Florida lived up to its surprising BCS ranking by thrashing a South Carolina team that appeared to be a contender in the SEC.
The Gamecocks gave LSU almost all it could handle in Death Valley last week, and figured to follow up with a good showing in The Swamp.
Instead, Loucheiz Purifoy knocked the ball out of South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw's hands on the first play, and Florida punched it in to start a 44-11 rout in Gainesville.
Jeff Driskel threw four touchdown passes three of them after turnovers and the Gators matched their win total from last season.
Florida avenged consecutive losses to the Gamecocks, including one a couple of years ago that ended with Steve Spurrier and his players celebrating a division title on the Gators' home field.