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World briefly for Sep. 18

POSTED: September 18, 2012 9:51 a.m.

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney is trying to head off a new distraction for his campaign after a video surfaced showing him telling wealthy donors that 47 percent of all Americans "believe they are victims" entitled to help from the government that permeates their lives.

At an impromptu news conference Monday, Romney offered no apologies, conceding the comments were not "elegantly stated" and were spoken "off the cuff." The Republican presidential nominee said the remarks showed a contrast between President Barack Obama's "government-centered society" and his belief in a "free-market approach."

"Of course, I want to help all Americans, all Americans, have a bright and prosperous future," Romney told reporters.

Obama's campaign pounced on the video, which was obtained by the magazine Mother Jones and released only hours after Romney's campaign outlined a new strategy to try to rejuvenate a struggling campaign. The video's emergence came as advisers to the former Massachusetts governor tried to reassure party leaders and donors about Romney's strategy amid concerns that the race could be slipping away.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney is shown saying in the video of a May 17 fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."

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Afghan insurgent group says it carried out Kabul suicide attack to avenge anti-Islam film

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital early Tuesday, killing at least nine people in an attack that a militant group said was revenge for an anti-Islam film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad.

The criminal director for the Kabul police department, Mohammad Zahir, said eight men believed to be civilian foreign nationals working for an aviation company at the airport died in the blast and 10 Afghan bystanders were wounded. The nationalities of the eight were not immediately known. The ninth person killed in the attack was believed to be Afghan.

Haroon Zarghoon, a spokesman for the Islamist militant group Hizb-i-Islami, claimed responsibility for the dawn attack in telephone call to The Associated Press. He said it was carried out by a 22-year-old woman named Fatima. Suicide bombings carried out by women are extremely rare in Afghanistan — and few if any women drive cars.

Zarghoon threatened more attacks against foreigners working for NATO and said the group had been seeking targets since a video clip of the film was posted on the Internet last week. The bombing was a worrisome escalation of violence in the capital, where most attacks are usually blamed on the Haqqani network — a Pakistan-based militant group affiliated with the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said they had nothing to do with the attack.

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Coptic Christians, Muslims unite to denounce film, violence as filmmaker and his family hide

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Coptic Christian and Muslim leaders on Monday denounced an anti-Islamic movie that has sparked violence in the Middle East, as the filmmaker and his family left their suburban home and went into hiding.

The Southern California religious leaders joined a chorus of condemnation about last week's killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans as violence continued and the leader of the powerful militant group Hezbollah called for more protests.

At the center of the controversy is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Cerritos man and self-described Coptic Christian who made "Innocence of Muslims," a crudely produced film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, philanderer and child molester.

Nakoula left his home Saturday and was interviewed by officials to determine if he violated a five-year probation term for bank fraud. Sheriff's deputies helped the family leave the home before dawn Monday to join him at an undisclosed location, a spokesman said.

In a show of unity, a Muslim leader and a Coptic orthodox bishop held a news conference on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall to condemn the film and attacks against any religions.

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Chicago teachers to weigh in on support for latest offer, consider calling an end to strike

CHICAGO (AP) — Teachers across the nation's third-largest city will be poring over the details of a contract settlement Tuesday as the clock ticks down to an afternoon meeting in which they are expected to vote whether to end a seven-day strike that has kept 350,000 students out of class.

Some union delegates said they planned to take a straw poll of rank-and-file teachers to measure support for a settlement that includes pay raises and concessions from the city on the contentious issues of teacher evaluations and job security. But many warned the outcome was still uncertain two days after delegates refused to call off the walkout, saying they didn't trust city and school officials and wanted more details.

"It takes a lot to start a strike. You don't want to prematurely end it," said Jay Rehak, an English teacher and union delegate who planned to survey his colleagues at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School before voting at a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m.

Pressure has mounted on the teachers to come to a decision quickly on the tentative contract, which labor and education experts — and even some union leaders — called a good deal for the Chicago Teachers Union.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, irked by the union's two-day delay in voting on whether to send children back to school, took the matter into court Monday. A judge has called a hearing for Wednesday morning to rule on the city's request for an injunction ordering the teachers back to work.

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Researchers lure great white sharks onto boat platform for up close tagging off Cape Cod coast

CHATHAM, Mass. (AP) — The scientists and fishermen on board the Ocearch, a repurposed crabbing vessel, received word that their scouting boat had hooked a great white shark, sparking a flurry of activity.

They were about to get up close and personal with the animal, more than 2,000 pounds and nearly 15 feet long.

"I'm nervous," said state shark expert Greg Skomal, who has tagged great whites, but never like this, never this close.

The Ocearch crew tags great white sharks in an unorthodox way. Unlike Skomal's team, which has tagged a dozen great whites off the Massachusetts coast with harpoons, Chris Fischer's Ocearch crew baits the fish and leads them onto a large platform that lifts them out of the water for tagging and collecting blood, tissue and semen samples.

Ocearch, a nonprofit research organization named for a combination of "ocean" and "research," is crewed mainly by sport fishermen. It is funded by sponsors and donors, and a South Africa expedition was the subject of History channel's "Shark Wranglers."

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Romney tried to contain fallout from unexpected video, Obama heads to Beyoncé fundraiser

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is trying to steady a shaky campaign as President Barack Obama, enjoying a burst of momentum, heads to New York for a celebrity fundraiser with Beyoncé and Jay-Z and a star turn on David Letterman's couch.

Romney is trying to contain the political fallout of an unauthorized video of him telling donors that almost half of all Americans "believe they are victims" entitled to extensive government support and adding that as a candidate for the White House, "my job is not to worry about those people." Romney was also trying to shake stories that his campaign was in disarray and looking for a change in direction seven weeks before Election Day.

In a hastily arranged meeting with reporters late Monday, Romney said that while his comments were "not elegantly stated," he stood by his remarks about Americans who do not pay taxes.

"Those who are reliant on government are not as attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government," Romney said in Costa Mesa, Calif., doubling down on his statement.

The former Massachusetts governor did not have public events Tuesday and planned to raise money in Salt Lake City and Dallas.

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Furious China protests mix old anger over Japanese occupation with modern dispute over islands

BEIJING (AP) — Old wounds amplified outrage over a burning territorial dispute Tuesday as thousands of Chinese protested Tokyo's purchase of islands claimed by Beijing and marked the 81st anniversary of a Japanese invasion that China has never forgotten.

China marks every Sept. 18 by blowing sirens to remember a 1931 incident that Japan used as a pretext to invade Manchuria, setting off a brutal occupation of China that ended only at the close of World War II. Demonstrations are not routine, but this year, as Chinese fume over last week's Japanese purchase of long-contested islands in the East China Sea, they spread across the country.

Outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, thousands of protesters shouted patriotic slogans and demanded boycotts of Japanese goods. Some burned Japanese flags and threw apples, water bottles and eggs at the embassy, which was heavily guarded by three layers of paramilitary police and metal barricades.

"I came here so our islands will not be invaded by Japan," said Wang Guoming, a retired soldier and seller of construction materials who said he came to the embassy from Linfen in Shanxi province to vent his frustration.

"We believe we need to declare war on them because the Japanese devils are too evil. Down with little Japan!" he said.

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Ohio inmate seeks delay in execution; at 480 pounds, says he's too heavy for lethal injection

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A condemned Ohio inmate who weighs 480 pounds and has a history of difficulty losing weight argues he would face a "torturous and lingering death" if executed in January.

Ronald Post, who shot and killed a hotel clerk in northern Ohio almost 30 years ago, said his weight, vein access, scar tissue, depression and other medical problems raise the likelihood his executioners would encounter severe problems. He's also so big that the execution gurney might not hold him, lawyers for Post said in federal court papers filed Friday.

"Indeed, given his unique physical and medical condition there is a substantial risk that any attempt to execute him will result in serious physical and psychological pain to him, as well as an execution involving a torturous and lingering death," the filing said.

Post, 53, is scheduled to die Jan. 16 for the 1983 shooting death of Helen Vantz in Elyria.

A spokeswoman for the prisons department had no comment on the pending litigation.

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Manning stumbles in Week 2 of comeback, throwing 3 picks as Broncos fall to Falcons 27-21

ATLANTA (AP) — Peyton Manning knew there would be some stumbles along the way.

There had to be after four neck surgeries, a year away from the field, and the transition to a new team.

But even at his most pessimistic, Manning surely never envisioned a quarter like this.

One pick. Then another. Then a third.

All before he made it through the opening period Monday night.

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French ruling due on topless Kate photos; royal couple seeks injunction

NANTERRE, France (AP) — A French court is deciding Tuesday whether to block further publication of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, whose lawyer say Prince William and Kate were sharing a private moment that was captured by an intrusive photographer.

The court in Nanterre, outside Paris, said there would be a ruling at noon on the request to stop Closer from publishing the images any further, including on its website and tablet application. The magazine published 14 images of a partially clad Kate in its pages on Friday.

On Monday, an Italian magazine, Chi, published a 26-page spread of the photos of Kate. Chi, like Closer, is part of the Italian publishing house Mondadori, owned by former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. An Irish tabloid published more photos over the weekend.

The royal couple was sharing a "healthy and profoundly intimate" moment when the photos were taken, their lawyer, Aurelien Hamelle, told the court on Monday. The situation was "deeply personal."

Hamelle told the court that he is seeking €5,000 ($6,550) in damages from Closer and an injunction forcing the magazine to stop publication elsewhere, including on the Internet. He also asked the court to fine Closer €10,000 ($13,100) a day for each day the injunction is not respected, and €100,000 ($131,000) if the photos are sold in France or abroad.

 

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