Friday October 5, 2012

Obama campaign concedes need for ‘adjustments’ in debate strategy, attacks Romney as dishonest

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- His performance panned, President Barack Obama is changing his debate strategy against Republican Mitt Romney, aides conceding the president must find a crisper way to sell his agenda and counter his opponent without getting lost in the weeds.

The heart of Obama’s new message with less than five weeks to go: Romney is a liar.

Expect that theme -- expressed in softer terms from the president than from his aides -- to drive Obama’s advertising and messaging for days. Wednesday night’s debate showed Obama was rusty, rambling and cautious, but his aides insist he emerged with a real opening to target Romney’s assertions.

"Gov. Romney may dance around his positions, but if you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth," Obama declared in his first post-debate appearance, a Thursday rally in Denver. He displayed an energy that was conspicuously absent in the debate.

The new line of argument is based on the Obama campaign’s contention that Romney, while sharp and commanding on the debate stage, delivered a series of statements that don’t stand up to factual scrutiny. They singled out Romney’s positions on tax cuts, education and outsourcing as misleading to the middle class.

Doctors urged not to use drugs from Mass.company tied to meningitis outbreak

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. health officials ramped up warnings Thursday about a Massachusetts specialty pharmacy linked to a widening outbreak of a rare kind of meningitis, urging doctors and hospitals not to use any products from the company.

Investigators this week found contamination in a sealed vial of the steroid at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., according to Food and Drug Administration officials.

Tests are under way to determine if it is the same fungus blamed in the outbreak that has sickened 35 people in six states. Five of them have died. All received steroid shots for back pain.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we advise all health care practitioners not to use any product" from the company, said Ilisa Bernstein, director of compliance for the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The company recalled the steroid medication last week and has shut down operations. The recalled steroid had been shipped to facilities in 23 states since July.

Turkey authorizes military action in Syria as conflict bleeds across borders

AKCAKALE, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey sanctioned further military action against Syria on Thursday and bombarded targets across the border with artillery for a second day, raising the stakes in a conflict that increasingly is bleeding outside Syrian territory.

Although both sides moved to calm tensions, Turkey’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill allowing the military to conduct cross-border operations into Syria -- making clear that Ankara has military options that do not involve its Western or Arab allies.

It was the most dramatic escalation in tensions between the countries, which were close allies before the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. Over the past 18 months, however, Turkey has become one of the strongest critics of the Syrian regime, accusing it of savagery and massacres against the opposition.

The rebels who are trying to bring down Assad have used Turkey as their base, enraging a regime that accuses foreign countries of fomenting the unrest inside Syria.

The spark for the latest hostility was a mortar shell fired from Syria that slammed into a house in the Turkish border village of Akcakale on Wednesday, killing two women and three children.

Mexico holds 2 who may be connected with shooting of U.S. Border Patrol agent

PHOENIX (AP) -- Federal police have arrested two men who may be connected with the fatal shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent just north of the Mexico-Arizona border, a Mexican law enforcement official said Thursday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said it was unclear if there was strong evidence linking the men to the shooting of Agent Nicholas Ivie.

Ivie and two other agents were fired upon Tuesday in a rugged hilly area about five miles (eight kilometers) north of the border near Bisbee, Ariz., as they responded to an alarm that was triggered on one of the sensors that the government has installed along the border.

The wounded agent was shot in the ankle and buttocks and released from the hospital after undergoing surgery. The third agent wasn’t injured.

Brenda Nath, an FBI spokeswoman in Arizona, and Border Patrol officials in Arizona declined to comment on the detention of the two men in Mexico. The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, which is also investigating the shooting, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Study: Free birth control means fewer abortions and fewer teen births

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Free birth control led to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births, a large study concluded Thursday, offering strong evidence for how a bitterly contested Obama administration policy could benefit women’s health.

The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured. They were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost -- from birth control pills to goof-proof options like the IUD or a matchstick-sized implant.

When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives -- the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.

The effect on teen pregnancy was striking: There were 6.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in the study. Compare that to a national rate of 34 births per 1,000 teens in 2010.

There also were substantially lower rates of abortion, when compared with women in the metro area and nationally: 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, compared with 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women overall in the St. Louis region, Peipert calculated. That’s lower than the national rate, too, which is almost 20 abortions per 1,000 women.

Nearly 3 dozen states fail to meet conditions of federal law to track sex offenders

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Nearly three dozen states have failed to meet conditions of a 2006 federal law that requires them to join a nationwide program to track sex offenders, including five states that have completely given up on the effort because of persistent doubts about how it works and how much it costs.

The states, including some of the nation’s largest, stand to lose millions of dollars in government grants for law enforcement, but some have concluded that honoring the law would be far more expensive than simply living without the money.

"The requirements would have been a huge expense," said Doris Smith, who oversees grant programs at the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. Lawmakers weren’t willing to spend that much, even though the state will lose $226,000.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, named after a boy kidnapped from a Florida mall and killed in 1981, was supposed to create a uniform system for registering and tracking sex offenders that would link all 50 states, plus U.S. territories and tribal lands. When President George W. Bush signed it into law, many states quickly realized they would have to overhaul their sex offender registration systems to comply.

Some lawmakers determined that the program would cost more to implement than to ignore. Others resisted the burden it placed on offenders, especially certain juveniles who would have to be registered for life. In Arizona, for instance, offenders convicted as juveniles can petition for removal after rehabilitation.