Saturday November 3, 2012

Who knows what next president will face, but voters get lots of ways to choose their man

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It’s a choice sure to touch the lives of all 315 million Americans, some in profound ways -- their livelihoods, their health, their sense of freedom or confidence in the future, maybe even whether they go to war or live in peace.

On Tuesday, voters will pick a man, a philosophy and a portfolio of plans to shape the United States and influence the world for four years.

In days to follow, the winner will be tested by events -- perhaps momentous ones -- that no one can foresee. Voters can only go by what they know now: what Republican nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama say they’ll do for the country, and what’s been revealed about each man along the way.

After six days of political conventions, six hours of debates and a months-long barrage of 30-second TV spots, plenty of people have heard enough. All that talk, talk, talk makes even mammoth issues -- 7.9 percent unemployment, Obamacare, income tax rates, Social Security -- sound like abstractions. Yet each affects real people, every day.

The voters’ decision is concrete and powerful and, once made, we’ll all live with it.


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Fuel shortage means gridlock in lines for gasoline; many stations are closed, pumps dry

NEW YORK (AP) -- When it came to fuel supplies and patience, the New York metro area was running close to empty Friday.

From storm-scarred New Jersey to parts of Connecticut, a widespread lack of gasoline or electricity to pump it brought grousing, gridlock and worse, compounding frustrations as millions of Americans struggled to return to normal days after Superstorm Sandy. A man pulled a gun in one gas-line fracas that led to an arrest.

Lines of cars, and in many places queues of people on foot carrying bright red jerry cans for generators, waited for hours for the precious fuel. And those were the lucky ones. Other customers gave up after finding only closed stations or dry pumps marked with yellow tape or "No Gas" signs.

"EMPTY!" declared the red-type headline dominating the New York Daily News’ front page.

"I drove around last night and couldn’t find anything," said a relieved Kwabena Sintim-Misa as he finally prepared to fill up Friday morning in Fort Lee, N.J., near the George Washington Bridge, where the wait in line lasted three hours.

Battered by Superstorm Sandy, Staten Islanders feel isolated and forgotten

NEW YORK (AP) -- Gazing at her bungalow, swept from its foundation and tossed across the street, Janice Clarkin wondered if help would ever come to this battered island off the coast of Manhattan.

"Do you see anybody here?" she asked, resignation etched on her face. "On the news, the mayor’s congratulating the governor and the governor’s congratulating the mayor. On what? People died."

Staten Island was devastated beyond recognition by Superstorm Sandy and suffered the highest death toll of all of New York City’s boroughs, including two young brothers who were swept from their mother’s arms by the swirling sea and drowned. Yet days after the waters receded, residents feel ignored and forgotten.

That sense of isolation is deeply rooted on Staten Island, a tight-knit community that has long felt cut off from the bright lights of Manhattan -- the city from which the island once tried to secede.

"It’s always been that way. We’re a forgotten little island," said Catherine Friscia, who stood with tear-filled eyes across the street from the Atlantic Ocean in front of homes filled with water and where the air smelled like garbage and rotting fish.

Video of summary executions raises new concerns about brutality by Syrian rebels

BEIRUT (AP) -- A video that appears to show a unit of Syrian rebels kicking terrified, captured soldiers and then executing them with machine guns raised concerns Friday about rebel brutality at a time when the United States is making its strongest push yet to forge an opposition movement it can work with.

U.N. officials and human rights groups believe President Bashar Assad’s regime is responsible for the bulk of suspected war crimes in Syria’s 19-month-old conflict, which began as a largely peaceful uprising but has transformed into a brutal civil war.

But investigators of human rights abuses say rebel atrocities are on the rise.

At this stage "there may not be anybody with entirely clean hands," Suzanne Nossel, head of the rights group Amnesty International, told The Associated Press.

The U.S. has called for a major leadership shakeup of Syria’s political opposition during a crucial conference next week in Qatar. Washington and its allies have been reluctant to give stronger backing to the largely Turkey-based opposition, viewing it as ineffective, fractured and out of touch with fighters trying to topple Assad.

Church member: Pastor planned to marry mother of woman he strangled

BROOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- A Michigan pastor accused of beating and strangling his fiancee’s daughter to fulfill a sexual fantasy had asked church members to pray for the young woman before police found her body, a friend said Friday.

Ex-convict John D. White knew the victim, Rebekah Gay, 24, and regularly watched her 3-year-old son while she worked, friend Donna Houghton said. White even told investigators that after killing Gay and dumping her body, he returned to her mobile home to dress the boy in a Halloween costume before taking the youngster to his father, authorities said.

White was in jail without bond Friday, a day after he was charged with first-degree murder in Gay’s death in a rural area in Isabella County, 85 miles northwest of Lansing.

White said he drank four or five beers before going to Gay’s mobile home and repeatedly striking her head with a mallet and strangling her with a zip tie, according to a court filing. He said he stripped her but does not remember if he carried out his fantasy of having sex with Gay’s dead body.

"He just basically said he was attracted to her, thought she was a very cute girl. It’s a crazy, tragic situation," Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski told The Associated Press.

Return of standard time means getting back that hour of sleep lost last spring

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It’s finally time to reclaim that hour of sleep you lost last spring.

Most of the country will turn back the clocks this weekend for the annual shift back to standard time.

The majority of folks will do the switch before hitting the sack Saturday night, even though the change doesn’t become official until 2 a.m. Sunday local time.

Residents of Hawaii, most of Arizona and some U.S. territories don’t have to change since they do not observe daylight-saving time. Public safety officials say this is also a good time to put a new battery in the smoke alarm, no matter where you live.

Final 10-mile trek for shuttle Atlantis, staying at Kennedy Space Center as tourist exhibit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Accompanied by astronauts and shuttle workers, Atlantis made a slow, solemn journey to retirement Friday, the last space shuttle to orbit the world and the last to leave NASA’s nest.

Atlantis emerged just before dawn from the massive Vehicle Assembly Building and, riding atop a 76-wheeled platform, began the 10-mile trek to the Kennedy Space Center’s main tourist stop.

About 200 workers gathered in the early morning chill to see the spaceship out in the open for the final time. They were joined by the four astronauts who closed out the shuttle program aboard Atlantis more than a year ago. "My opinion is it looks better vertically," said Christopher Ferguson, the commander of Atlantis’ final flight.

"It’s a short trip. It’s taking a day," he added. "It traveled a lot faster in its former life. But that’s OK. ... it’s got a new role."