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World briefly on Aug. 1
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NEW DELHI (AP) — Factories and workshops across India were up and running again Wednesday, a day after a major system collapse led to a second day of power outages and the worst blackout in history.

An estimated 620 million people were left without electricity after India's northern, eastern and northeastern grids cascaded into failure Tuesday afternoon. It was the second massive outage in as many days, coming just after the country had recovered from Monday's failure of the northern grid, which had left 370 million people powerless.

Electricity workers struggled throughout the day Tuesday to return power to the 20 affected states, restoring most of the system in the hours after the crash. India's new Power Minister Veerappa Moily told reporters that by Wednesday morning power had been fully restored across the country.

Moily, who took over the top power position Tuesday, said an investigation into the crisis has been launched and he did not want to point fingers or speculate about the cause.

Other officials said the blackout might have been the result of states drawing too much power from the grid. Some analysts dismissed that explanation, saying that if overdrawing power from the grid caused this kind of collapse, it would happen all the time.


Romney's foreign tour remembered largely for missteps in contrast to candidate Obama in '08

BERLIN (AP) — The British were offended, the Palestinians accused him of racism and even in friendlier Poland, Mitt Romney's union policies drew criticism from the current leaders of the movement that toppled Communism.

Romney's visit to Britain, Israel and Poland was never expected to produce the same media frenzy as then-candidate Barack Obama's extravagant, eight-country tour of 2008.

Obama received rock star treatment from international media and world leaders as he traveled from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to the glittering chancelleries of Europe.

Nevertheless, comparisons were inevitable and much of it was less than favorable to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

"The designated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wanted to demonstrate foreign policy expertise and diplomatic skills with his trip to Britain, Israel and Poland," the Swiss newspaper Tages-Zeitung said Tuesday. "Today, on the last day of the tour, he must be made to admit that he clearly missed this target."


Gore Vidal, celebrated author, playwright and commentator, dies in Los Angeles

In a world more to his liking, Gore Vidal might have been president, or even king. He had an aristocrat's bearing — tall, handsome and composed — and an authoritative baritone ideal for summoning an aide or courtier.

But Vidal made his living — a very good living — from challenging power, not holding it. He was wealthy and famous and committed to exposing a system often led by men he knew firsthand. During the days of Franklin Roosevelt, one of the few leaders whom Vidal admired, he might have been called a "traitor to his class." The real traitors, Vidal would respond, were the upholders of his class.

The author, playwright, politician and commentator whose vast and sharpened range of published works and public remarks were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom, died Tuesday at age 86 in Los Angeles.

Vidal died at his home in the Hollywood Hills at about 6:45 p.m. of complications from pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said. Vidal had been living alone in the home and had been sick for "quite a while," Steers said.

Vidal "meant everything to me when I was learning how to write and learning how to read," Dave Eggers said at the 2009 National Book Awards ceremony, where he and Vidal received honorary citations. "His words, his intellect, his activism, his ability and willingness to always speak up and hold his government accountable, especially, has been so inspiring to me I can't articulate it."


Fed officials, worried about weak US economy, could be moving toward providing more help

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting Wednesday with a big question looming: Will it take some new action to jolt the U.S. economy out of its slump?

Investors are hoping the Fed will announce another round of bond purchases, known as quantitative easing. The goal is to lower long-term interest rates and encourage more borrowing and spending.

But economists say the Fed is likely to hold off until September to wait and see if job growth and consumer spending to pick up.

U.S. growth slowed to an annual rate of just 1.5 percent from April through June, down from the 2 percent pace in the first quarter. And consumers spent no more in June than they did in May, even though their income grew by 0.5 percent.

Fed officials have signaled their concern about weakening job growth and consumer spending, which have brought the economy closer to a standstill. And Chairman Ben Bernanke has said the Fed is prepared to take further action if unemployment stays high.


EYES ON LONDON: Walsh Jennings to play with pinkeye; badminton team booed for not trying

LONDON (AP) — Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:



Two-time defending gold medalist beach volleyball pair Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor of the United States wrap up pool play Wednesday against Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger — and Walsh insists she won't be slowed by a case of pinkeye in her left eye.

"It's super minor," she said. "It just looks worse than it is."


In Texas runoff, Cruz makes US Senate upset look easy against mainstream GOP choice Dewhurst

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Ted Cruz is fond of saying that when he began his run for U.S. Senate, he was at 2 percent in the polls against Texas Republican juggernaut David Dewhurst, the state's lieutenant governor for nearly a decade.

Actually, the 41-year-old former state solicitor general seemed an even longer shot than that.

Gov. Rick Perry and much of the rest of the Republican establishment lined up to endorse Dewhurst for their party's nomination to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and the party's mainstream doesn't lose much in Texas. After all, the state hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office in nearly 20 years.

But Cruz pulled off what had seemed an unthinkable upset Tuesday, and it wasn't even close. He trounced Dewhurst by about 13 percentage points, shaking one of America's reddest states to its political core.

His victory was all the more stunning considering Cruz lost to the lieutenant governor 44 percent to 34 percent during the state's May 29 primary. But simply making it to a second round of voting proved a major momentum-builder for Cruz, who vowed to prevail since his supporters were dedicated enough to turn out during the Texas summer doldrums.


No. 19 and counting: Phelps earns a place in history, with more chances for medals ahead

LONDON (AP) — Michael Phelps has always said he wanted to do something that no one has ever done before.

He's all by himself now, and ready to go for more.

The world's greatest swimmer cruised through the anchor leg of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay to earn his record 19th career Olympic medal and 15th gold on Tuesday night, etching a place in history as the most decorated Olympian of all time.

"It has been a pretty amazing career but we still have a couple races to go," he said.

Now his remaining four days in the pool at the London Games are all about putting that mark even further out of reach. Phelps has three events to go — the 200 individual medley, the 100 butterfly and the 4x100 medley relay.


Syrian president to army: Internal agents helping foreign enemies to undermine the nation

BEIRUT (AP) — In a rare public comment, Syrian President Bashar Assad said foreign enemies are using internal agents in plots to undermine the country's stability.

The comments, carried by the state news agency but not broadcast on television, break with the low profile Assad has kept over the past three weeks after rebels mounted attacks first on Damascus and then on the commercial hub of Aleppo.

The speech, given to the army, seemed intended to encourage soldiers in their battle against the country's rebellion, which has brought the 17-month-old uprising to Syria's two biggest cities in the fiercest fighting to date.

"In the war in which the country is embroiled and the battle against criminal and terrorist gangs, the army has proven its mettle," he said, adding that the Syrian people have shown themselves not easily "tamed" by foreign plots.

Assad was speaking to the army on the 67th anniversary of its founding. He called it the "homeland's shield" against foreign plots.


Obama pitching middle-class tax cuts in Ohio as part of pocketbook argument with Republicans

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dueling with Republicans on taxes, President Barack Obama is urging the House to pass a tax cut for households earning less than $250,000 a year and drawing a bright line with rival Mitt Romney on a pocketbook issue for voters.

Obama was making campaign stops in Republican-friendly Mansfield and the Democratic stronghold of Akron on Wednesday, rallying voters after a week of low-profile fundraisers and formal speeches in the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

The president looked to reprise the middle-class tax debate as Romney wrapped up a three-country foreign trip and the monthly jobs report loomed on Friday. The House on Wednesday is expected to consider Obama's plan to extend President George W. Bush's tax cuts for individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples making less than $250,000, along with a Republican proposal to extend the tax cuts for everyone.

Taxes have become a defining issue in the presidential race, and the outcome of the tax debate isn't expected to be decided until after November. With less than 100 days before the election, the campaign remains tight, with both campaigns trying to pump up their core supporters while competing for a narrow slice of undecided voters in about eight states that could tip the election.

Obama's campaign released a new ad Tuesday focused on taxes and the deficit, calling Romney's approach a way to provide a "new $250,000 tax cut for millionaires." The ad said Romney's approach on tax cuts, coupled with increased military spending, would add "trillions to the deficit."


Doubles pairs in badminton facing possible disciplinary action after playing to lose

LONDON (AP) — Eight female badminton players, including the world champions from China, face a disciplinary hearing Wednesday after being accused of trying to throw matches at the Olympics a day earlier to secure a favorable draw.

The Badminton World Federation said in a statement it had charged the doubles players from China, South Korea and Indonesia under its players' code of conduct with "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport."

The South Korean players and coach already have been questioned at the hearing, which is being held at a hotel near the Wembley Arena badminton venue. Still awaiting questioning are the Chinese and Indonesian teams.

Federation spokeswoman Gayle Alleyne declined comment on possible sanctions stemming from the hearing.

The doubles pairs were all due to compete in quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon. Spectators at the arena booed when they realized players apparently were deliberately trying to lose.

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