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World briefly on Aug. 8
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — There's no trial to prepare, no jury to persuade, no judge to hand down a sentence.

Wade Michael Page is dead, killed by police after fatally shooting six people at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee. Although detectives are pursuing leads in several states, their findings might never be presented in court.

So will the full story behind the attack ever be known? And how long will investigators keep looking for an elusive motive that might provide answers to devastated Sikh families, as well as valuable information about white supremacists?

At the moment, detectives are sifting through the gunman's life, assembling the biography of a man who apparently had few relatives, a spotty work history and a thin criminal record. They have warned they might never learn for certain what drove him to attack total strangers in a holy place. The Sikh community holds out hope.

"We just want to get to the bottom of what motivated him to do it," said Amardeep Singh, an executive with the New York-based Sikh Coalition. "It's important to acknowledge why they lost their lives."


911 caller describing Ohio hospital shooting says sound was thought to come from oxygen tank

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — People responding to the sound of what they thought was a problem with an oxygen tank in a patient's Ohio hospital room discovered a man dressed in black with a gun. Then they realized the noise was a shot, a 911 caller told a dispatcher in a recording.

As authorities continued investigating what may have been a mercy killing, the 911 recording was released on Tuesday.

The suspect, John Wise, 66, appeared before an Akron Municipal Court judge via video from jail on an aggravated attempted murder charge. His bond was set at $1 million. He is due back for arraignment Wednesday morning.

The emergency call came from an Akron hospital where police believe Wise calmly walked into the facility and shot his wife in the head. The caller, apparently a nurse, said she had gone to hide in a room down the hall but could hear a commotion in a neurology intensive care unit, with people yelling and running nearby.

"I think I need to go out there. Seriously, I think someone's coding or something," she said before the recording ended. Around the same time, another caller from hospital security confirmed to a dispatcher that a patient had been shot.


Evacuees wait in shelters as Ernesto comes ashore, starts across Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

CHETUMAL, Mexico (AP) — Ernesto spun inland over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula early Wednesday while hundreds of fishermen who fled low-lying villages for shelters and tourists evacuated from resorts to inland hotels hunkered down for a stormy night.

Ernesto hit the peninsula as a hurricane with sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph) when it swept over the shore town of Mahuahal shortly before midnight Tuesday and moved into a sparsely populated coastal region, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It had weakened to a tropical storm by early Wednesday with winds near 70 mph (110 kph), but was expected to regain hurricane strength when its centered emerged over the Bay of Campeche.

The storm was moving west at 15 mph (24 kph).

There were no early reports of damage, but it might be morning before officials could assess whether Ernesto's rain and wind caused problems.

Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo state, was the closest city and officials moved more than 1,300 tourists there from resorts in Mahuahal, Balacar and other coastal spots that were expected to see heavier rain and wind.


TransUnion: Late payments on mortgages down 9 percent in first half of 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. homeowners are getting better about keeping up with their mortgage payments, driving the percentage of borrowers who have fallen behind to a three-year low, according to a new report.

Still, the rate of decline remains slow, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Wednesday. The percentage of mortgages going unpaid is unlikely to return anytime soon to where it was before the housing market crashed.

Some 5.49 percent of the nation's mortgage holders were behind on their payments by 60 days or more in the April-to-June period, the agency said. That's the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009.

The second-quarter delinquency rate is down from 5.82 percent in the same period last year, and below the 5.78 percent rate for the first three months of 2012.

The positive second-quarter trend coincided with an improving outlook for the U.S. housing market.


EYES ON LONDON: Final game for US beach volleyball pair; Olympics says goodbye to windsurfing

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:



Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings will go for one last title together Wednesday night after winning all but one set during their three Olympics as a pair.

The Americans are wrapping up this tournament determined to enjoy themselves at their last Olympics as a tandem. May-Treanor will retire, while Walsh Jennings plans to keep playing internationally.


Gunman called a 'different person' as he pleads to Arizona rampage that killed 6, injured 13

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Jared Loughner sat looking relaxed and attentive in a packed courtroom as he pleaded guilty to a deadly shooting rampage in an agreement with prosecutors that will send him to prison for life. He even cracked a smile when a court-appointed psychologist talked about the special bond that he formed with a prison guard.

His hair closely cropped, Loughner was not the smiling, bald-headed suspect captured in a mug shot soon after the January 2011 shooting. Six people had died and 13 others were wounded, including his intended target, then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

He was not the man who rocked back and forth in court in May 2011 before blurting out, "Thank you for the free kill. She died in front of me. Your cheesiness."

The changes in Loughner's behavior while being treated and medicated at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo., led a judge to declare the 23-year-old competent Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns gave his blessings to a plea agreement that spares prosecutors and victims a potentially lengthy trial and appeal and allows Loughner to escape the death penalty.

The judge called Loughner "a different person in his appearance and his affect than the first time I laid eyes on him."


While it sits out the war, US struggles to shape how Syria looks the day after Assad

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration's principles for a post-Assad Syria are clear: security, sectarian harmony, no tolerance for extremists.

But the U.S. faces a hard sell with Syria's fighters after refusing to back them militarily and watching them squabble for months over how to reshape their country the day after President Bashar Assad's regime crumbles, as expected.

With government defections on the rise and the rebels gaining advantage in Aleppo and Damascus, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton outlined her vision Tuesday of how Syria should move forward in the event of a sudden regime change.

"We have to make sure that the state institutions stay intact," Clinton told reporters in Pretoria, South Africa. "We have to think about what we can do to support a Syrian-led democratic transition that protects the rights of all Syrians. We have to figure out how to support the return of security and public safety and how to get their economy up and going."

Washington is urging a gradual approach to transition that would keep water, electricity and other public services running — and ensure that women, minorities, independents and government officials without blood on their hands get a say in Syria's future.


Officials investigate Chevron's response to fire at massive refinery in San Francisco Bay area

RICHMOND, Calif. (AP) — Investigators were looking at how a small, seemingly insignificant leak at one of the country's biggest oil refineries quickly unraveled into an intense fire that sent acrid black smoke into the sky and hundreds of people to hospitals with health complaints.

The leak started as a drip at about 4:15 p.m. Monday, officials said. Chevron — which is required to "immediately" notify the public of any gas leak, fire or oil spill, according to state law — did not consider it an immediate danger to residents nearby.

"At that point in time, there really wasn't anything we could advise the community to do," said Mark Ayers, the refinery's fire chief. "We surely wouldn't advise anybody to shelter in place."

The company's engineers began stripping away insulation on the leaky pipe to investigate the source, which released a vapor of a flammable substance similar to diesel. About two and a half hours later, a conflagration had officials scrambling to warn residents to stay inside.

Chevron officials notified Contra Costa County so it could activate its emergency warning system, said Randy Sawyer, director of the county's health services agency.


On eve of murder trial, residents of Chinese city unaware, unconcerned about high-profile case

HEFEI, China (AP) — One of China's most politically charged murder trials starts here Thursday. But talk to the student at the cafe, the female taxi driver, the software salesman and the flower seller — none of them has any idea that the courtroom in an imposing building not far from the downtown of this grimy industrial city is about to become the center of China's political universe.

As everywhere in the country, the talk in Hefei is more about China's medal tally at the Olympics (53 so far) than the drama surrounding Gu Kailai, who is accused of murdering a British businessman, when her husband Bo Xilai ruled the roost as the Communist Party boss of Chongqing metropolis.

Gu's case may have riveted the international community, but it is barely causing a ripple among ordinary Chinese, underscoring how far removed such high-stakes political maneuvering is from their lives.  The lack of awareness points in part to the government's relative success with censorship and limiting media exposure of the case, which has embarrassed the Communist Party ahead of its carefully managed once-a-decade reshuffle of power later this year. Bo was a contender for a top job until his downfall earlier this year.

"I rarely pay attention to such news because politics has very little to do with my own life," said Gong Genwu, a 23-year-old computer software salesman who was strolling back to work after lunch outside a shopping mall across from the Hefei Intermediate People's Court.

Gong said this was the first time he had heard about the trial and even Gu's name. Pressed for an opinion on the scandal as a whole, he added: "What can I say? If a murder really was committed by someone close to a high official, this shows that they are on a different level than ordinary people. Perhaps some of them lack morals."


Marvin Hamlisch left his legacy on film with decades of memorable songs and scores

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The word "prolific" gets tossed around a lot, but it couldn't be more appropriate in discussing the work of the late, great Marvin Hamlisch. This is especially true in considering his many contributions to film over the past five-plus decades.

Yes, he's been duly decorated in other artistic realms — the longtime Broadway favorite "A Chorus Line," which eventually ended up on the big screen, earned him a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 — but he also crafted some of the best-loved and most enduring songs and scores in movie history.

Hamlisch died Monday after a brief illness, his family said. The former child prodigy, who was accepted to Juilliard School of Music at age 7, was 68.

Regardless of the genre or year, Hamlisch's music had a unifying factor — something intangible, an old-fashioned sense of showmanship, a feeling of substance and a respect for craft. He tapped into our emotions in a way that felt intimate and personal, yet he expressed yearnings that are universally relatable,

One great example of this is "The Way We Were," a soaring, unabashedly sentimental, achingly melancholy ballad from the 1973 Sydney Pollack romantic drama of the same name starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. Nearly 40 years later, it still holds up beautifully, and it gave Streisand one of her signature tunes.

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