Crowds greet Pope upon arrival in Brazil on 1st international trip as pontiff
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Frenzied crowds of Roman Catholics mobbed the car carrying Pope Francis on Monday when he returned to his home continent for the first time as pontiff, embarking on a seven-day visit meant to fan the fervor of the faithful around the globe.
During the pope’s first minutes in Brazil, ecstatic believers forced the closed Fiat to stop several times as they swarmed around during the drive from the airport to an official opening ceremony in Rio’s center. A few security guards struggled mightily to push the crowd back in scenes that at times looked alarming.
Francis, however, looked calm. He rolled down the window on the back passenger-side of the car where he was sitting, waving to the crowd and touching those who reached inside. At one point, a woman handed the pontiff a dark-haired baby, whom he kissed before handing it back.
After finally making it past crowds and blocked traffic, Francis switched to an open-air popemobile as he toured around the main streets in downtown Rio through mobs of people who screamed wildly as he waved and smiled. Many in the crowd looked stunned, with some standing still and others sobbing loudly.
Idaclea Rangel, a 73-year-old Catholic, was pressed up against a wall and choking out words through her tears. "I can’t travel to Rome, but he came here to make my country better ... and to deepen our faith," she said.
Family of Egypt’s deposed president lashes out at military over his detention
CAIRO (AP) -- The family of Egypt’s ousted president lashed out at the military on Monday, accusing the generals of kidnapping Mohammed Morsi, who has been detained incommunicado in an unknown location for nearly three weeks.
New violence erupted around protests by Morsi supporters demanding his reinstatement, killing at least four people. Pro-Morsi protesters marched near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, battled with Morsi opponents camped out in the square, trading stones and gunfire, while further clashes erupted in a city north of Cairo.
The statement by Morsi’s family at a Cairo press conference underlined the unknown fate of Egypt’s first freely elected president. Morsi has not been seen and has had no known contact with lawyers, family or supporters since the military ousted him on July 3 after mass protests nationwide demanding his removal.
Since his ouster, the Islamist leader has become a tool for both sides. The new military-backed government has used Morsi to put pressure on his Muslim Brotherhood, launching criminal investigations without actually bringing charges against him. Government officials have said only that he is safe, is well cared for and is being held for his own protection.
The Brotherhood, in turn, has sought to drum up sympathy by saying Morsi’s detention shows the military’s coup is taking the country into dictatorship, as it tries to expand street protests demanding he be reinstated as president.
Soul-searching in Ohio after discovery of 3 bodies -- 3rd chilling case of missing women
EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) -- The soul-searching has begun in and around Cleveland -- again -- as the chilling details emerge from the latest missing-women case to send a shiver through the metropolitan area.
A registered sex offender was charged Monday with murder and kidnapping in the slayings of three women whose bodies were found in plastic trash bags in a run-down East Cleveland neighborhood. It is the third major case in four years of multiple killings or abductions to haunt the Rust Belt metropolis.
"I do think we have to ask ourselves as a community the larger question: Why here, and what can we do to better understand the conditions that fostered this savage behavior?" said Dennis Eckert, a political and urban-policy consultant and former Cleveland-area congressman.
Some civic leaders say the explanation lies in the disintegration of neighborhoods and people’s connections to one another, plus a general mistrust of police -- conditions that make it easier for a predator to kill without others noticing anything or reporting their suspicions.
Cleveland was a robust steel town for generations but has struggled for decades, ever since manufacturing went into a decline in the 1970s. Today it regularly ranks among the poorest big cities in America.
A familiar feel: Obama’s latest economic push recalls previous efforts
WASHINGTON (AP) -- If President Barack Obama’s new focus on the economy sounds familiar, that’s because he’s done it before.
Since the first year of his presidency, Obama has been launching -- and re-launching -- initiatives on the economy. Some came with new policy proposals, others with catchy slogans.
Remember 2011’s "Winning the Future" campaign? Or the "We Can’t Wait" initiatives that followed later that year? Just a few months ago, Obama was headlining the "Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour."
So far there’s no slogan attached to the White House’s latest initiative, which kicks off Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill. The president’s advisers are billing his remarks as a major address on the economy, though no new initiatives are expected to be announced. However, aides say there will be some fresh policy proposals in a series of follow-up speeches planned through September, most of which will be narrowly targeted on issues like housing, retirement security and expanding access to education.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama’s repeated attempts to orient his public agenda on the economy should serve as a reminder that "the president has always been focused on these issues."
Officials: Zimmerman helped 4 get out of overturned SUV a few days after his acquittal
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- George Zimmerman helped rescue four people from an overturned vehicle in central Florida last week, just days after he was cleared of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, officials said Monday.
Seminole County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kim Cannaday said in a statement that deputies responding last Wednesday afternoon to the wreck in Sanford -- the Orlando suburb where Martin was shot -- found Zimmerman and another man had already helped a couple and their two children out of a flipped SUV off the road near Interstate 4. They were not hurt.
Zimmerman spoke with a deputy at the scene and then left, the sheriff’s office statement said. He did not see the crash happen.
This is believed to be the first time Zimmerman, 29, has been seen publicly since his acquittal on a second-degree murder charge in the 17-year-old Martin’s death in February 2012. Zimmerman’s parents and his attorneys have said in interviews since the verdict that they fear for his safety because of those who may not agree with it.
A message left at the office of Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara was not immediately returned Monday.
Wis. man who shot fatally shot teen neighbor sentenced to life in prison, no chance of parole
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A 76-year-old Milwaukee man who said he was seeking justice when he shot and killed his teen neighbor after accusing the boy of burglary was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no chance of parole.
John H. Spooner, who was convicted last week of first-degree intentional homicide, acknowledged shooting 13-year-old Darius Simmons in the chest last year while the teen’s mother watched.
The conviction carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison, although Judge Jeffrey Wagner had the option to allow for the possibility of parole. He rejected that option, meaning Spooner -- who has lung cancer and other physical ailments -- will die in prison.
Some of Spooner’s shotguns were stolen in a break-in at his home in May 2012, and he told the jury he suspected Darius as the thief. Footage from Spooner’s own surveillance cameras two days later showed him confronting Darius on the sidewalk, pointing a gun at the boy’s chest and firing from a few feet away. Darius turned and fled, and then collapsed and died in the street moments later as his mother cradled him in her arms.
Police searched the boy’s home later that day and didn’t find the weapons.
There’s lots of life after Washington for ‘Ex-Presidents Club’ -- Carter, Clinton, two Bushes
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In the first 200 years of the republic, just three presidents survived more than two decades after leaving office: John Adams, Martin Van Buren and Herbert Hoover. The odds for ex-presidents have improved considerably since then.
Jimmy Carter, who raised the bar for active post-presidential years, is 88 now, and 32 years out of office. No one has survived longer after leaving the White House. George H.W. Bush, 89, passed the two-decade mark this year. The two most recent former presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both are going strong. Gerald Ford lived nearly 30 years after leaving office.
There’s a lot happening in the ex-presidents club these days -- thanks to increasing longevity, the personalities of the current members and expanding opportunities for influence.
After a relatively quiet start to his post-presidency, George W. Bush in recent weeks has made headlines by speaking out for immigration reform and popping up in Africa at a wreath-laying with President Barack Obama to remember victims of terrorism. Clinton, with his philanthropic work and a wife who’s a potential presidential candidate, is never far from the news.
The elder Bush, although frail, was at the White House last week (in jaunty red-and-white striped socks) for a ceremony promoting the volunteerism program he started as president. And Carter, noted for his years of globe-trotting work to advance human rights, spoke out last week against "legal bribery of candidates" at home in the form of unchecked political contributions by outside groups.
Dubai pardons Norwegian woman charged with illicit sex after rape claim
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- With her passport back in hand, a Norwegian woman at the center of a Dubai rape claim dispute said Monday that officials dropped her 16-month sentence for having sex outside marriage in the latest clash between the city’s Islamic-based legal codes and its international branding as a Western-friendly haven.
Dubai authorities hope the pardon of the 24-year-old woman will allow them to sidestep another potentially embarrassing blow to the city’s heavily promoted image as a forward-looking model of luxury, excess and cross-cultural understanding.
"I am very, very happy," Marte Deborah Dalelv told The Associated Press after she was cleared by the order of Dubai’s ruler. "I am overjoyed."
But the case points to wider issues embedded in the rapid rise of Gulf centers such as Dubai and Qatar’s capital of Doha, host for the 2022 World Cup. These cities’ cosmopolitan ambitions often find themselves at odds with the tug of traditional views on sex and alcohol.
Both alcohol consumption without a proper license and sex outside marriage are outlawed, but the rules are difficult to enforce and generally only become an issue if authorities are alerted. Most foreign residents and visitors coast through Dubai’s tolerant lifestyle. Women in full Islamic coverings shop alongside others in miniskirts, and liquor flows at resorts and restaurants. Yet once authorities determine a legal line has been crossed, it’s often difficult and bewildering for the suspects.