Romney accuses Obama of minimizing ambassador’s death as one of several ‘bumps in the road’
PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) -- Mitt Romney led a chorus of Republican criticism of the administration’s foreign policy on Monday, accusing President Barack Obama of minimizing the recent killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya as a mere "bump in the road" rather than part of a chain of events that threatens American interests.
White House press secretary Jay Carney called the accusations "desperate and offensive," an attempt by Romney and his allies to gain political advantage in the latter stages of a political campaign that seems to be trending the president’s way.
Obama flew from the White House to New York, one day before he speaks to world leaders at the opening of the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. He and first lady Michele Obama also booked an appearance on television’s "The View."
The back and forth on foreign policy occurred as Romney said he was shifting to a more energetic schedule of public campaign events, bidding to reverse recent erosion in battleground state polls. After days spent largely raising campaign cash -- and trying to minimize the fallout from one speech to donors last spring -- he pledged to make the case for "real and positive change."
While national polls make the race exceedingly close, Obama has gained ground on Romney in many recent
UN envoy Brahimi: Syrian war
is threatening the region, but
there may be an opening soon
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Syria’s civil war is worsening and there is no prospect of a quick end to the violence, international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said Monday in a gloomy assessment to the U.N. Security Council.
The new envoy leavened his message, however, saying he was crafting a new plan that he hoped could break the impasse, but refused to give details or say when it would be ready.
Despite President Bashar Assad’s refusal to end his family’s 40-year grip on power, some tentative hope of a solution remained, Brahimi said in his first briefing to the council since he took over from Kofi Annan on Sept. 1 as the U.N.-Arab League special representative for Syria
"I think there is no disagreement anywhere that the situation in Syria is extremely bad and getting worse, that it is a threat to the region and a threat to peace and security in the world," Brahimi told reporters after the closed-door talks.
Activists claim nearly 30,000 people have died in the uprising which began in March 2011, including in attacks Monday by Syrian warplanes in the northern city of Aleppo.
Marines to court-martial 2 staff sergeants in urination on bodies
of Taliban fighters, photos
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two Marine non-commissioned officers will be court-martialed for allegedly urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters last year in Afghanistan and posing for unofficial photos with casualties, the Marine Corps said Monday.
The charges against Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin and Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola are in addition to administrative punishments announced last month for three other, more junior Marines for their role in the urination episode.
The disclosure in January of a video showing four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead men led to a criminal investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as well as a Marine investigation of the unit involved, the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, which fought in the southern Afghan province of Helmand for seven months before returning to its home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., last September.
In the video, one of the Marines looked down at the bodies and quipped, "Have a good day, buddy."
In a statement Monday, the Marine Corps said disciplinary actions against additional Marines will be announced later. It also said there are "other pending cases related to this incident," but said no specifics would be made public now.
Houston police chief asks people
to not yet judge officer who shot, killed double amputee
HOUSTON (AP) -- The FBI will help investigate what led a Houston police officer to shoot and kill a wheelchair-bound double amputee who was agitated and threatening police with what turned out to be a ballpoint pen, the city’s police chief said Monday.
Police Chief Charles McClelland also asked the community to "reserve judgment" on the officer and his actions this weekend at the Healing Hands group home for the mentally ill, and sought to reassure the public that all of the city’s officers are trained to deal with people with mental problems.
Officer Matthew Marin shot 45-year-old Brian Claunch early Saturday after responding to a call that the one-armed, one-legged man was causing a disturbance inside the home. Police have said Claunch cornered and threatened Marin, who reportedly told investigators he didn’t know the object in Claunch’s hand was a pen.
"It is my desire to have everyone reserve judgment until all the facts and evidence in this investigation have been gathered," McClelland said in a statement.
Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said she didn’t know if FBI assistance in officer-involved shootings was rare, but said "it’s the step we’re taking at this point." She referred other questions to McClelland’s statement.
Muslim rage over Prophet film
fed by hunt for America’s free speech ‘red lines’
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- In U.S.-funded ads running on Pakistani TV, subtitled clips show President Barack Obama extolling America’s traditions of religious freedom. For many watching, though, the message misses the mark in efforts to calm the Islamic outrage over a film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.
America’s free speech laws and values of openness are not in question, but rather there is confusion and anger over how they are applied.
A powerful theme binding the protests from Indonesia to Africa is the perception that the U.S. codes of free speech are somehow weighted against Islam -- permitting the Internet video that insults the faith but placing clear limits on hot button issues such as hate speech, workplace discrimination and even what is acceptable on prime-time network TV.
Beyond the rage, bloodshed and death threats -- churning now for two weeks -- is a quandary for American policymakers that will linger long after the latest mayhem fades: How to explain the U.S. embrace of free expression to an Islamic world that increasingly sees only double standards?
Although there are many nuances -- including strict U.S. laws when hate speech crossed the line into threats or intimidation -- they are mostly lost in the current outrage that included a peaceful march in Nigeria on Monday and Iran threatening to boycott the 2013 Academy Awards after the country’s first Oscar-winning film this year.
As condolences pour in, National Zoo officials work to solve mystery of how panda cub died
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As condolences poured in from around the world, National Zoo officials waited Monday for word on why a 6-day-old panda cub died and lamented a heartbreaking setback to their closely watched breeding program.
The cub had liver abnormalities and fluid in its abdomen, but a cause of death will not be known until full necropsy results are available within two weeks.
The cub, believed to be female, died Sunday morning, less than a week after its birth surprised and delighted zoo officials and visitors. Zookeepers had all but given up on the panda mother’s chances of conceiving after six years of failed attempts.
"Every loss is hard," said National Zoo director Dennis Kelly. "This one is especially devastating."
This much is known: The cub appeared to be in good condition. It had been drinking its mother’s milk. And it wasn’t accidentally crushed to death by its mother, which has happened to other panda cubs in captivity. At birth, the cubs are hairless, their eyes are closed and they’re about the size of a stick of butter. Their mothers weigh about 1,000 times more.
Facebook stock falls after Barron’s says it’s ‘still too pricey’
NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook Inc.’s stock took a hit Monday after an article in the financial magazine Barron’s said it is "still too pricey" despite a sharp decline since its initial public offering.
Though Facebook’s stock has plunged since its May IPO, Andrew Bary at Barron’s said the stock trades at "high multiples of both sales and earnings, even as uncertainty about the outlook for its business grows."
At issue is the shift of Facebook’s massive user base to mobile devices. The company is still figuring out how to advertise to people who use their mobile phones and tablet computers to access the social network. Bary said success in the mobile space is "no sure thing" for the company. Mobile ads must fit into much smaller screens, which doesn’t give Facebook "much room to configure ads without alienating users," Bary said.
Facebook also has what Bary called "significant" stock-based compensation expenses. Last year, the company issued $1.4 billion worth of restricted stock and $1 billion so far this year, he noted. Yet technology companies such as Facebook "routinely encourage analysts to ignore stock-based compensation expense -- and most comply. This dubious approach to calculating profits is based on the idea that only cash expenses matter," Bary wrote. "That’s a fiction, pure and simple."
Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook’s stock fell $2.03, or 8.9 percent, to close at $20.83 on Monday. The company went public on May 18 at a share price of $38, which it has not matched since..