Romneys paid $1.94 million in federal taxes on $13.7 million income — but could have paid less
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mitt Romney, one of the wealthiest candidates ever to seek the presidency, paid nearly $2 million in federal taxes on the $13.7 million in income reported for himself and his wife last year, his U.S. returns showed Friday. That comes to an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, lower than millions of middle-income Americans but actually more than he had to pay.
Most of Romney's income was from investment returns. That is why his rate was lower than taxpayers whose income was mostly from wages, which can be taxed at higher rates.
Romney's taxes have emerged as a key issue during the 2012 presidential race with President Barack Obama. Romney released his 2010 returns in January, but he continues to decline to disclose returns from previous years — including those while he worked at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded.
The Obama campaign and other Democrats have pushed for fuller disclosures, reminding the Republican candidate that his father, George Romney, released a dozen years of returns when he ran for president.
There also has been Democratic criticism of Romney's foreign investments. Several tax law experts said Friday that his newly released tax returns would not be much help in resolving critics' questions about his sprawling finances — whether he used aggressive tax-deferral strategies, what might be the specifics and tax advantages of his numerous offshore investments, what was the source of his massive retirement account and what are the details behind his now-closed $3 million Swiss bank account.
GOP sniping, slide in key state polls and ongoing criticism from video keep Romney off-balance
WASHINGTON (AP) — Mitt Romney struggled to steady his presidential campaign on Friday, buffeted by an outbreak of sniping by frustrated Republicans, fresh evidence of a slide in battleground state polls and President Barack Obama's accusation that he was writing off "half the country" in pursuit of the White House.
Republican running mate Paul Ryan drew boos at an AARP convention in New Orleans when he said Romney would repeal Obama's health care law, which closed a gap in coverage for seniors' prescription drugs. The Wisconsin congressman accused the administration of weakening Medicare and flinching from tough measures needed to stabilize Social Security's finances, adding that the president has "put his own job security over your retirement security."
Obama rebutted Ryan's charges point by point in a video appearance to the same audience. He said the Republican prescription for Medicare would mean "billions in new profits for insurance companies" and replacing guaranteed benefits with a voucher that would bring higher out of pocket costs for seniors.
Romney campaigned in Nevada as aides released a 2011 federal income tax return showing he and his wife, Ann, paid $1.94 million in federal taxes last year on income of $13.7 million. Their effective tax rate was 14.1 per cent, lower than many families pay because most of the couple's earnings come from investments.
The campaign also released a letter from Romney's doctor saying the 65-year-old former Massachusetts governor is healthy and physically up to the demands of the presidency.
More than a dozen killed in riots as 'Day of Love' for prophet in Pakistan turn deadly
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's "Day of Love for the Prophet" turned into a deadly day of gunfire, tear gas and arson.
Thousands angered by an anti-Muslim film ignored pleas for peaceful rallies and rampaged in several Pakistani cities Friday in battles with police that killed 19 people and touched off criticism of a government decision to declare a national holiday to proclaim devotion for the Prophet Muhammad.
The film, which was produced in the United States and denigrates the prophet, has outraged many in the Muslim world in the 10 days since it attracted attention on the Internet, and there were new, mostly peaceful protest marches in a half-dozen countries from Asia to the Middle East.
But it is Pakistan that has seen the most sustained violence, driven by a deep well of anti-American sentiment and a strong cadre of hard-line Islamists who benefit from stoking anger at the U.S. At 49 people — including the U.S. ambassador to Libya — have died in violence linked to the film around the world.
Analysts accused the Pakistani government of pandering to these extremists by declaring Friday to be an official holiday — calling it a "Day of Love for the Prophet." Officials urged peaceful protests, but critics said the move helped unleash the worst violence yet caused by the film, titled "Innocence of Muslims."
Attack on US Consulate in Libya used military tactics but level of planning remains unclear
WASHINGTON (AP) — The heavily armed extremists who laid siege to the U.S. Consulate in Libya used military-style tactics that may have steered Americans toward a waiting ambush, U.S. officials said Friday as they pieced together details about how the compound was overrun.
U.S. intelligence indicates that 50 or more people, many of them masked, were responsible for the Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. Gun trucks provided added firepower. The attackers set up a perimeter, controlling access in and out of the compound. A first wave of attacks sent the Americans fleeing to a fallback building, where a second group of extremists beset them with precise mortar fire.
Intelligence reports were still coming in, but officials told The Associated Press that what may have initially seemed like a protest over an anti-Islam movie that had spun out of control now showed the hallmarks of a more sophisticated operation.
In a country coming off a civil war, a level of battlefield savvy does not prove the attack on the compound was planned well in advance. How much planning went into the operation and whether it could have been detected or prevented remain unanswered questions, officials said.
The attacks killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, diplomat Sean Smith and two former Navy SEALs, who U.S. officials said were in Libya on contract with the CIA. Stevens was visiting Benghazi from Tripoli to preside over the opening of a cultural center.
After despairing Facebook posts, hostage-taker in Pittsburgh high-rise surrenders
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Klein Michael Thaxton hadn't been much of a Facebook devotee. He posted no status updates in two years on the social network. On Friday, though, he surfaced with a jarring post: "i cant take it no more im done bro."
The 22-year-old Army veteran was on the 16th floor of a downtown Pittsburgh office building at the time, armed with a hammer and kitchen knife, and holding a businessman hostage, police said.
He surrendered after five hours. Neither he nor the hostage, business owner Charles Breitsman, was injured. But Thaxton's real-time Facebook updates — coupled with online pleas by his friends to surrender — vividly illustrated the evolving challenges that confront police when social media plays an active role in a crime-in-progress.
In all, Thaxton sent seven messages, many of them despairing and written in disjointed style.
"this life im livin rite now i dnt want anymore," said one post. "ive lost everything and I aint gettin it back."
Unpopular Congress exits Washington to hit campaign trail, leaving lots of work undone
WASHINGTON (AP) — The most partisan, least productive Congress in memory is bolting Washington for the campaign trail, leaving in its wake a pile of unfinished business on the budget and taxes, farm policy and legislation to save the Postal Service from insolvency.
The GOP-controlled House beat its retreat Friday morning after one last, futile slap at President Barack Obama — passing a bill called the "Stop the War on Coal Act."
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed that chamber's getaway to force a post-midnight procedural vote on legislation by endangered Democrat Jon Tester of Montana to boost access to public lands for hunting and fishing.
The main item of Senate business was to clear a six-month spending bill needed to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month.
Studies strengthen the case against sugary drinks as culprits in obesity epidemic
New research powerfully strengthens the case against soda and other sugary drinks as culprits in the obesity epidemic.
A huge, decades-long study involving more than 33,000 Americans has yielded the first clear proof that drinking sugary beverages interacts with genes that affect weight, amplifying a person's risk of obesity beyond what it would be from heredity alone.
This means that such drinks are especially harmful to people with genes that predispose them to weight gain. And most of us have at least some of these genes.
In addition, two other major experiments have found that giving children and teens calorie-free alternatives to the sugary drinks they usually consume leads to less weight gain.
Collectively, the results strongly suggest that sugary drinks cause people to pack on the pounds, independent of other unhealthy behavior such as overeating and getting too little exercise, scientists say.
Ultimate photo op: Shuttle fly-by of Calif.'s Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood sign
Rather than roaring to space on an elevator of flame, the shuttle Endeavour's final flight Friday was a leisurely, low-altitude journey past the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood sign as well as other California landmarks.
The workhorse rode piggyback atop a Boeing 747 to its home state and ultimately landed at Los Angeles International Airport.
NASA's shuttle fleet, which retired last year after three decades of flight, was assembled in Palmdale, Calif., near Edwards Air Force Base. The military outpost 100 miles north of Los Angeles served as the original shuttle landing strip and remained a backup site in case of stormy weather at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Endeavour's final airborne journey started with takeoff from Edwards and a northern heading to swoop low over Sacramento before flying by San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz prison.
The flight then turned south for a fly-by at West Coast space port Vandenberg Air Force Base. Other sites where people gathered to gawk — and shoot photos and video — included Malibu, Santa Monica, the Getty Center, Griffith Observatory, downtown Los Angeles and the Queen Mary, a transportation relic enshrined in Long Beach.
Man jumps off Bronx Zoo monorail into Wild Asia exhibit, gets mauled by tiger, loses leg
NEW YORK (AP) — Authorities say a visitor at the Bronx Zoo leaped from an elevated monorail train and plummeted into an exhibit, where he was mauled by a tiger.
New York City police say the man lost a leg in the attack.
Zoo director Jim Breheny says the mauling happened Friday afternoon in the Wild Asia exhibit, where a train takes visitors past elephants and deer and over a tiger enclosure. He says the man leaped from the train and cleared a perimeter fence.
Workers used a fire extinguisher to back the tiger off. The man then rolled under a wire to safety.
Police said the 25-year-old man has been hospitalized in critical condition.
Suspended Giant Melky Cabrera disqualified from NL batting title at own request
NEW YORK (AP) — Melky Cabrera lost the right to play baseball by failing a drug test and now he has given up his chance to win the National League batting title.
Cabrera was disqualified from the NL batting honor at his own request when Major League Baseball and the players' association agreed Friday to a one-season-only change in the rule governing the individual batting, slugging and on-base percentage champions.
Serving a 50-game suspension, the San Francisco Giants slugger entered Friday with a league-leading .346 average, seven points ahead of Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen. Cabrera, the All-Star game MVP, was suspended Aug. 15 for a positive test for testosterone and is missing the final 45 games of the regular season.
Cabrera had 501 plate appearances, one short of the required minimum, but would have won the title under section 10.22(a) of the Official Baseball Rules if an extra hitless at-bat were added to his average and he still finished ahead. With Friday's agreement, that provision won't apply this year to a player who "served a drug suspension for violating the Joint Drug Program."
The process for the change was set in motion Wednesday evening when Cabrera's agent, Seth Levinson, sent an email to union head Michael Weiner with an attached letter from Cabrera in English and Spanish.