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World briefly on Sept. 26

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POSTED: September 26, 2012 7:59 a.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — After an hour of fielding questions about Syria, sanctions and nuclear weapons, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had enough. Now, he said, it was his turn to choose the topic — his "new order" which will inevitably replace the current era of what he called U.S. bullying.

Continuing his hectic pace of media appearances and diplomatic meetings, Ahmadinejad presented an air of boredom when it came to the hot topic on everyone's mind — Iran's nuclear program and the possibility of impending war. Whether it was feigned or sincere, he said he would much rather be talking about his vision of what the next world order might be.

Conveniently, it would be an order in which the U.S. and the traditional powers play a smaller role and every country has equal standing (though the state of Israel, he often predicts, will soon become a historical footnote).

"God willing, a new order will come and will do away with ... everything that distances us," Ahmadinejad told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview Tuesday, speaking through a translator. "All of the animosity, all of the lack of sincerity will come to an end. It will institute fairness and justice."

He said the world was losing patience with the current state of affairs.

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Egypt's new President Morsi debuts at UN, world watches for democratic intentions

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Egypt's new President Mohammed Morsi debuts at the United Nations on Wednesday with a speech that will be closely watched by world leaders for clues about his democratic intentions and plans for lifting his country out of crippling poverty.

Morsi, an Islamist and key figure in the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, is the first democratically elected leader of the ancient land at the heart of the Arab world, and was sworn in June 30.

He is one of a pair of Arab leaders who will be making their first appearances at the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting after being swept into power in the Arab Spring revolutions. Also taking the podium will be Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who took office in February after more than a year of political turmoil and is now trying to steer the country's transition to democracy.

The Egyptian leader previewed his General Assembly remarks in a speech delivered Tuesday at former President Bill Clinton's Global Initiative. Addressing the violence that raged across the Muslim world in response to a video produced in the U.S. that denigrated Islam's Prophet Muhammad, Morsi said freedom of expression must come with "responsibility."

He appeared to have been responding to President Barack Obama's General Assembly speech earlier Tuesday in which the U.S. leader again condemned the video but sternly defended the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of free speech.

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Journalist for Iranian TV killed covering twin blasts, gunfire in Syrian capital

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Iranian Press TV says one of its correspondents has been killed in Syria covering the twin blasts and gun battles in the capital, Damascus.

Press TV identified the correspondent as 33-year-old Maya Nasser, a Syrian national.

State-run media said two massive explosions targeted the army command headquarters in Damascus on Wednesday morning, setting off clashes and a huge fire inside the building.

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New voter laws could delay outcome of close election as states scrutinize provisional ballots

WASHINGTON (AP) — The presidential election is Nov. 6, but it could take days to figure out the winner if the vote is close. New voting laws are likely to increase the number of people who have to cast provisional ballots in key states.

Tight races for Congress, governor and local offices also could be stuck in limbo while election officials scrutinize ballots, a scenario that would surely attract legions of campaign lawyers from both parties.

"It's a possibility of a complete meltdown for the election," said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida.

Voters cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons: They don't bring proper ID to the polls; they fail to update their voter registration after moving; they try to vote at the wrong precinct; or their right to vote is challenged by someone.

These voters may have their votes counted, but only if election officials can verify that they were eligible to vote, a process that can take days or weeks. Adding to the potential for chaos: Many states won't even know how many provisional ballots have been cast until sometime after Election Day.

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Probation case against anti-Muslim filmmaker moves slowly and privately as protests continue

CERRITOS, Calif. (AP) — The federal probation violation investigation targeting the man behind the anti-Muslim video inflaming the Middle East is proceeding slowly and privately, reflecting the explosiveness of the case.

Federal officials have said nothing publicly about the case, and neither has Nakoula Basseley Nakoula's attorney. Nakoula has put his home up for sale and gone into hiding since violence erupted over the 14-minute YouTube trailer for "Innocence of Muslims," a crudely made film that portrays the Muhammad as a religious fraud, womanizer and pedophile.

Enraged Muslims have demanded punishment for Nakoula, and dozens have died in violent protests linked to the movie. A Pakistani cabinet minister on Monday offered a $100,000 bounty to anyone who kills Nakoula.

Meantime, First Amendment advocates have defended Nakoula's right to make the film even while condemning its content. President Barack Obama echoed those sentiments Tuesday in a speech at the United Nations.

"We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them. I know there are some who ask, 'Why don't we just ban such a video?'" he said. "The answer is enshrined in our laws. Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech."

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VIDEO: In a Midwest cornfield, the drought slowly — and scorchingly — brought crops to a crisp

BENNINGTON, Neb. (AP) — Duane Braesch's cornfields are prime evidence of how unforgiving the elements have been for him and so many others across the Midwest this summer. To demonstrate the hardship, the 79-year-old Nebraska farmer let The Associated Press show the world what he's weathered during the worst U.S. drought in decades.

Using a camera powered by solar panels and mounted on a pole on a mound overlooking Braesch's cornfield near Omaha, AP photographer Nati Harnik chronicled the wilting effects of extreme heat over August and much of September that turned Braesch's crop from a vibrant emerald to a sickly yellow.

Snapping a picture every 10 minutes, the camera was shrouded in plastic to shield it from rainfall. But significant rain came just twice in 59 days, helping explain why Braesch and his son ultimately reaped just half of what they would typically expect in a harvest.

Yet during a summer in which many other farmers simply declared their crops a complete bust and simply knocked them down for feed to livestock, Braesch figures "we're just pretty lucky we got what we got."

"You wouldn't think there'd be anything out there," he said. "It's amazing it's as good as it is."

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AP-GfK Poll: Most say Obama's health care law will be implemented; but 7 in 10 expect changes

WASHINGTON (AP) — They may not like it, but they don't see it going away. About 7 in 10 Americans think President Barack Obama's health care law will go fully into effect with some changes, ranging from minor to major alterations, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

Just 12 percent say they expect the Affordable Care Act — "Obamacare" to dismissive opponents — to be repealed completely.

The law — covering 30 million uninsured, requiring virtually every legal U.S. resident to carry health insurance and forbidding insurers from turning away the sick — remains as divisive as the day it passed more than two years ago. After surviving a Supreme Court challenge in June, its fate will probably be settled by the November election, with Republican Mitt Romney vowing to begin repealing it on Day One and Obama pledging to diligently carry it out.

That's what the candidates say. But the poll found Americans are converging on the idea that the overhaul will be part of their lives in some form, although probably not down to its last clause and comma.

Forty-one percent said they expect it to be fully implemented with minor changes, while 31 percent said they expect to see it take effect with major changes. Only 11 percent said they think it will be implemented as passed.

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Family: 2 decades after getting off death row, man accused of killing wife had money problems

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Joyce Robbins wanted to know why her aunt wasn't coming to a big family barbeque.

Mamie Brown and her husband, Joseph Green Brown, who was on Florida's death row for 13 years before his convictions on rape and murder were overturned in 1986, had been fixtures at family functions since they'd moved to Charlotte in 2007.

But lately, the Browns weren't showing up at birthdays, anniversaries or other gatherings. So Robbins called her, and Mamie confided that the couple was facing serious financial problems. Since his release from a Florida prison, Joseph had been making a living talking against the death penalty, based on his personal experience of coming within hours of being executed for a crime he didn't commit. But he hadn't been paying taxes on his speaking fees.

"She said, 'Money is just tight right now. We just don't go too many places anymore,'" Robbins said.

A week later, Mamie Brown, 71, was found dead in her Charlotte apartment and her husband was charged with first-degree murder. Joseph Brown, 62, has been held in the Mecklenburg County jail since his arrest Sept. 14 in a Charleston, S.C., motel room, a day after the slaying. A bond hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

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J.K. Rowling's debut adult novel a hard story with difficult characters that's worth a read

NEW YORK (AP) — "The Casual Vacancy" (Little, Brown and Company), by J.K. Rowling.

So look, here's the thing: This. Is. Not. A. Children's. Book. If you're looking for what made Harry Potter magical — Wizards! Spells! Flying Broomsticks! — you're not going to find it.

If you're looking for what makes J.K. Rowling magical — emotion, heart — you will.

"The Casual Vacancy" is the first novel written for adults from Rowling, the successful-beyond-belief author behind the "Harry Potter" series about the young boy who discovers he's a wizard.

Published in the U.S. by Little, Brown and Company and in Britain by Little, Brown Book Group, "The Casual Vacancy" is scheduled to come out Thursday and has been held under tight control, with media outlets required to sign non-disclosure agreements before being permitted to see the book. The Associated Press declined to sign such an agreement and instead purchased a copy early.

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Packers seething, NFL's replacement refs taking heat as league upholds Seahawks' 14-12 win

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — With the Green Bay Packers still seething, fans pondering the possibility of turning off their televisions on NFL Sundays and even the President weighing in, it's official: Overnight, the NFL's replacement referees went from minor nuisance to staggering problem.

With the league's regular officials locked out since June and frustration with their replacements already festering throughout the league, the worst-case scenario finally materialized in Monday night's Packers-Seahawks game in Seattle: A mistake by a replacement official decided the outcome of a game.

A last-second scrum in the end zone was ruled a touchdown to Seahawks receiver Golden Tate. But Packers players, their fans and much of the football-watching public saw a clear-cut interception by Green Bay's M.D. Jennings.

Aaron Rodgers used his weekly radio show Tuesday as a platform to lash out at an NFL-issued statement explaining the replacement officials' decision. The MVP quarterback also questioned the league's priorities in its labor dispute with the regular refs.

"I just feel bad for the fans," Rodgers said on Milwaukee's ESPN 540 AM. "They pay good money and the game is being tarnished by an NFL who obviously cares more about saving a little money than having the integrity of the game diminish a little bit."

 

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