Ohio’s job growth, auto industry rebound help Obama move ahead in a state Romney badly needs
VANDALIA, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio has emerged as the presidential race’s undisputed focus. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making multiple stops this week alone in a state that’s trending toward the president, endangering Romney’s White House hopes.
The popularity of Obama’s auto industry bailout, and a better-than-average local economy, are undermining Romney’s call for Ohioans to return to their GOP-leaning ways, which were crucial to George W. Bush’s two elections. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, seventh most in the nation, and no Republican has won the White House without carrying it.
Romney is scrambling to reverse the polls that show Obama ahead. On Tuesday, he made the first of his four planned Ohio stops this week, joining his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, for a rally near Dayton. On Wednesday, Obama will visit the college towns of Kent and Bowling Green, and Romney’s bus tour will stop in the Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo areas.
"If this president persists on the road of making it harder and harder for small businesses to grow and thrive, he’s going to slowly but surely weaken our economy and turn us into Greece," Romney told supporters Tuesday in Vandalia. He said the Obama administration has put government between patients and their doctors, and is picking
"That is not the America that built Ohio!" Romney declared.
Somali piracy heyday over as militaries, ships defend against attacks
HOBYO, Somalia (AP) -- The empty whiskey bottles and overturned, sand-filled skiffs littering this once-bustling shoreline are signs the heyday of Somali piracy may be over. Most of the prostitutes are gone and the luxury cars repossessed. Pirates while away their hours playing cards or catching lobsters.
"There’s nothing to do here these days," said Hassan Abdi, a high school graduate who taught English in a private school before turning to piracy in 2009. "The hopes for a revitalized market are not high."
Armed guards aboard cargo ships and an international naval armada that carries out onshore raids have put a huge dent in piracy and might even be ending the scourge.
While experts say it’s too early to declare victory, the numbers are startling: In 2010, pirates seized 47 vessels. This year they’ve taken five.
For a look at the reality behind those numbers, an Associated Press team from the capital, Mogadishu, traveled to the pirate havens of Galkayo and Hobyo, a coastal town considered too dangerous for Western reporters since the kidnappers have turned to land-based abductions over the last year.
In new sign of interference, thousands of posters of Iran’s supreme leader rise up across Iraq
BAGHDAD (AP) -- After years of growing influence, a new sign of Iran’s presence in Iraq has hit the streets. Thousands of signs, that is, depicting Iran’s supreme leader gently smiling to a population once mobilized against the Islamic Republic in eight years of war.
The campaign underscores widespread doubts over just how independent Iraq and its majority Shiite Muslim population can remain from its eastern neighbor, the region’s Shiite heavyweight, now that U.S. troops have left the country.
The posters of Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei first appeared in at least six Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad and across Iraq’s Shiite-dominated south in August, as part of an annual pro-Palestinian observance started years ago by Iran. They have conspicuously remained up since then.
"When I see these pictures, I feel I am in Tehran, not Baghdad," said Asim Salman, 44, a Shiite and owner of a Baghdad cafe. "Authorities must remove these posters, which make us angry."
In Basra, located 550 kilometers (340 miles) south of the capital, they hang near donation boxes decorated with scripts in both countries’ languages -- Arabic and Farsi.
Iconic Israeli newspaper Maariv faces collapse; critics allege it’s part of anti-media blitz
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Throughout much of Israel’s history, the Maariv daily was known as the "country’s paper," the newspaper with the highest circulation and a cornerstone of Israeli media. Now it is on its last legs -- the victim, some say, of a Jewish-American billionaire who is a leading donor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, also a close friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, launched his free "Israel Hayom" or "Israel Today" daily five years ago. The tabloid has steadily gobbled up market share since then. Handed out by ubiquitous distributors clad in red overalls at busy intersections, it has become the most read newspaper in Israel.
The 64-year-old Maariv has suffered in the fallout. The newspaper was sold this month by its cash-strapped owner to a rival publisher. Most of its 2,000 employees are facing likely dismissals.
The iconic newspaper has been hemorrhaging money for years and its downfall is linked to the struggles facing print media around the globe, with the emergence of online news sources and a steep drop in subscribers and ad revenue rendering the traditional newspaper economic model untenable.
But against the backdrop of a perceived anti-media blitz by the hard-line government, Maariv staffers believe their final blow was delivered by Israel Hayom.
NYC schools offering morning-after birth
control; critics say it encourages underage sex
NEW YORK (AP) -- It’s a campaign believed to be unprecedented in its size and aggressiveness: New York City is dispensing the morning-after pill to girls as young as 14 at more than 50 public high schools, sometimes even before they have had sex.
The effort to combat teen pregnancy in the nation’s largest city contrasts sharply with the views of politicians and school systems in more conservative parts of the country.
Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Association in Washington, calls it "a terrible case once again of bigotry of low expectations" -- presuming that teen girls will have sex anyway, and effectively endorsing that.
But some doctors say more schools should follow New York’s lead.
Emergency contraception is safe and effective "if you use it in a timely fashion. It provides relief or solace to a young woman or man who has made a mistake but doesn’t want to have to live with that mistake for the rest of their lives," said Dr. Cora Breuner, a Seattle physician and member of an American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on teen health.
Human finger in Idaho trout belongs to wakeboarder
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- A human finger found inside a fish at Idaho’s Priest Lake has been traced to a wakeboarder who lost four fingers in an accident more than two months earlier.
Fisherman Nolan Calvin found the finger while he was cleaning the trout he caught Sept. 11. He put it on ice and called the Bonner County, Idaho, sheriff’s office, the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported.
Detectives were able to get a fingerprint off the severed digit. They matched it to a fingerprint card for Haans Galassi, 31, of Colbert, Wash., and called him Tuesday morning.
Investigators learned that Galassi lost four fingers from his left hand in a June 21 accident on the same lake where the fish was caught.
"The sheriff called me and told me he had a strange story to tell me," Galassi said Tuesday. "He said that a fisherman was out on Priest Lake, and I pretty much knew exactly what he was going to say at that point.
"I was like: Let me guess, they found my fingers in a fish."
The fish was caught about eight miles from where Galassi had lost his fingers, the sheriff’s office said.
Galassi had been on a camping trip at the scenic lake when he decided to go wakeboarding. He told the newspaper his hand got caught in a loop in the towline, and he couldn’t pull it out before the line tightened behind the boat that was going to pull him.
When he finally broke free, he didn’t feel much pain. But then he looked at his hand.
"I pulled my hand out of the water and it had pretty much lopped off all four fingers," he said. "It was a lot of flesh and bone, not a lot of blood."
He was taken by helicopter to a Spokane hospital.
Galassi has been undergoing therapy twice a week for his injured hand. He still has half of his index and pointer fingers on that hand.
"I can still grip things and grab and hold the steering wheel with it," Galassi said.
The sheriff’s office offered to return the finger, but Galassi declined.
"I’m like, ‘uhhh, I’m good,"’ he said.
Detective Sgt. Gary Johnston of the sheriff’s office said the agency will keep the digit for a few weeks in case Galassi changes his mind.
"There’s still three more, too," Johnston said. "It’s hard to say where those are going to end up."
Suu Kyi tells Burmese in U.S. to look back to home country, voices cautious optimism for Myanmar
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -- Myo Myint lost most of his right arm and right leg and several fingers fighting for the Burma army before he began working against Myanmar’s military rulers and became a political prisoner.
The 49-year-old political refugee would like to return to his homeland one day, but he doesn’t believe it will happen, even after hearing Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi say she would work to make sure people like him could come back.
Myint was among thousands of elated supporters who greeted Suu Kyi with cheers, tears and a standing ovation Tuesday as she took to the stage at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., the fourth stop on her 17-day U.S. tour.
Like Suu Kyi, Myint was imprisoned in 1989. But Myint, who spent 15 years as a political prisoner, said he doesn’t believe Suu Kyi will be able to help him go back to Myanmar. That’s because he says he’s too well-known for working against the junta, having been featured in an HBO documentary called "Burma Soldier."
"She cannot do anything. She is not in the power," he said.