Obama says he had 'a bad night' in first debate; Romney pledges not to raise taxes on anyone
SIDNEY, Ohio (AP) — President Barack Obama conceded Wednesday he did poorly in a debate last week that fueled a comeback by his rival in the race for the White House. Mitt Romney barnstormed battleground Ohio and pledged "I'm not going to raise taxes on anyone" in a new commercial.
A perennial campaign issue flared unexpectedly as Romney reaffirmed he is running as a "pro-life candidate and I'll be a pro-life president." He spoke one day after saying in an interview he was not aware of any abortion-related legislation that would become part of his agenda if he wins the White House.
Romney and Obama maneuvered in a race with 27 days to run as Vice President Joe Biden and Republican running mate Paul Ryan looked ahead to their only debate, set for Thursday night in Danville, Ky.
Whatever the impact of the Biden-Ryan encounter, last week's presidential debate boosted Romney in the polls nationally and in Ohio and other battleground states, to the point that Obama was still struggling to explain a performance even his aides and supporters say was subpar.
"Gov. Romney had a good night. I had a bad night. It's not the first time I've had a bad night," Obama said in an ABC interview.
Panetta says US sending military forces to Jordan in case of Syrian escalation
BRUSSELS (AP) — The United States has sent troops to Jordan to bolster its military capabilities in the event Syria's civil war escalates, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday, reflecting U.S. concerns about the conflict spilling over allies' borders and about the security of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.
Speaking at a NATO conference of defense ministers, Panetta said the U.S. has been working with Jordan to monitor chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria and also to help Jordan deal with refugees pouring over the border from Syria.
About 150 U.S. troops, largely Army special operations forces, are working out of a military center near Amman, two senior defense officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the mission. The troops have moved back and forth to the Syrian border as part of their work, which is joint planning and intelligence gathering, one official said.
The revelation of U.S. military personnel so close to the 19-month-old Syrian conflict suggests an escalation in the U.S. involvement in the conflict, even as the Obama administration pushes back on any suggestion of a direct intervention in Syria.
News of the U.S. mission to Jordan also follows several days of shelling between Turkey and Syria, an indication that the civil war could become a regional conflict. One of the U.S. defense officials said the extra planning is aimed at avoiding those kinds of clashes between Jordan and Syria.
10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:
1. VP CANDIDATES TAKE CENTER STAGE
Untested debater Ryan has been studying up on Biden, who has been sparring over public policy for years.
Republicans hammer State officials on Libya attack, insist Benghazi security was inadequate
WASHINGTON (AP) — Four weeks before the election, Republicans used a politically charged House hearing to confront State Department officials about security at the U.S. Consulate in Libya and assail the Obama administration's early response to the killing of the ambassador and three other Americans there.
GOP lawmakers refused to accept the department's explanation Wednesday that protection judged adequate for the threat was overwhelmed by an unprecedented assault in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
They also rejected Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy's explanation that officials were relying on the best intelligence available in characterizing the attack afterward as stemming from a protest over an anti-Islam Internet video rather than a deliberate, planned act of terrorism.
A top State official acknowledged she had declined to approve more U.S. security as violence in Benghazi spiked, saying the department wanted to train Libyans to protect the consulate.
"I made the best decisions I could with the information I had," said Charlene R. Lamb, a deputy assistant secretary for diplomatic security.
Mother of American killed in Libya asks Romney to stop using her son in his 'political agenda'
SIDNEY, Ohio (AP) — The mother of a former Navy SEAL killed in Libya has called on Mitt Romney to stop talking about her son during his political campaign.
A spokesman for the Republican presidential candidate says Romney will respect her wishes.
Romney in recent days has been telling voters of chance encounter with the former SEAL, Glen Doherty, at a Christmas party two or three years ago. Doherty was among four Americans killed in the attacks in Benghazi.
Romney told the story of his chance encounter with Doherty at least twice in the last two days as part of a larger push to show a more personal side and criticize President Barack Obama's foreign policy. Romney, like other Republicans, have repeatedly raised questions about the president's handling of the Sept. 11 attack.
Indeed, the Benghazi terrorist strike that left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens dead was a centerpiece of Romney's high-profile foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute earlier in the week.
Taliban shooting of teenage peace activist sparks outrage across Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Schools shut their doors in protest and Pakistanis across the country held vigils Wednesday to pray for a 14-year-old girl who was shot by a Taliban gunman after daring to advocate education for girls and criticize the militant group.
The shooting of Malala Yousufzai on Tuesday in the town of Mingora in the volatile Swat Valley horrified Pakistanis across the religious, political and ethnic spectrum. Many in the country hoped the attack and the outrage it has sparked will be a turning point in Pakistan's long-running battle against the Taliban, which still enjoys considerable public support for fighting U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
Top U.S. officials condemned the attack and offered to help the girl.
A Taliban gunman walked up to a bus taking children home from school and shot Malala in the head and neck. Another girl on the bus was also wounded. Pictures of the vehicle showed bloodstained seats where the girls were sitting.
Malala appeared to be out of immediate danger after doctors operated on her early Wednesday to remove a bullet lodged in her neck. But she remained in intensive care at a hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar, and Pakistan's Interior Minister said the next 48 hours would be crucial.
USADA: Armstrong doping 'most sophisticated' in cycling, 11 ex-teammates testify against him
Lance Armstrong said he wanted to see the names of his accusers. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency gave him 26, including 11 ex-teammates.
The world's most famous cyclist said he wanted to see the hard evidence that he was a doper. The agency gave him that, too: About 200 pages filled with vivid details — from the hotel rooms riders transformed into makeshift blood-transfusion centers to the way Armstrong's ex-wife rolled cortisone pills into foil and handed them out to all the cyclists.
In all, a USADA report released Wednesday gives the most detailed, unflinching portrayal yet of Armstrong as a man who, day after day, week after week, year after year, spared no expense — financially, emotionally or physically — to win the seven Tour de France titles that the anti-doping agency has ordered taken away.
It presents as matter-of-fact reality that winning and doping went hand-in-hand in cycling and that Armstrong was the focal point of a big operation, running teams that were the best at getting it done without getting caught. Armstrong won the Tour as leader of the U.S. Postal Service team from 1999-2004 and again in 2005 with the Discovery Channel as the primary sponsor.
USADA said the path Armstrong chose to pursue his goals "ran far outside the rules."
As strange as it seems, scientists say increase in Antarctic ice may be sign of climate change
WASHINGTON (AP) — The ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching farther than ever before. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cockeyed signal of man-made climate change, scientists say.
This is Antarctica, the polar opposite of the Arctic.
While the North Pole has been losing sea ice over the years, the water nearest the South Pole has been gaining it. Antarctic sea ice hit a record 7.51 million square miles in September. That happened just days after reports of the biggest loss of Arctic sea ice on record.
Climate change skeptics have seized on the Antarctic ice to argue that the globe isn't warming and that scientists are ignoring the southern continent because it's not convenient. But scientists say the skeptics are misinterpreting what's happening and why.
Shifts in wind patterns and the giant ozone hole over the Antarctic this time of year — both related to human activity — are probably behind the increase in ice, experts say. This subtle growth in winter sea ice since scientists began measuring it in 1979 was initially surprising, they say, but makes sense the more it is studied.
Islam appears to spread in Haiti, a country where Christianity and Voodoo hold sway
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — School teacher Darlene Derosier lost her home in the 2010 earthquake that devastated her country. Her husband died a month later after suffering what she said was emotional trauma from the quake. She and her two daughters now live in tents outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, surrounded by thousands of others made homeless and desperate by the disaster.
What's helped pull her through all the grief, she said, has been her faith, but not of the Catholic, Protestant or even Voodoo variety that have predominated in this island country. Instead, she's converted to a new religion here, Islam, and built a small neighborhood mosque out of cinderblocks and plywood, where some 60 Muslims pray daily.
Islam has won a growing number of followers in this impoverished country, especially after the catastrophe two years ago that killed some 300,000 people and left millions more homeless. A capital where church attendance is so prevalent that the streets echo with Christian hymns on Sundays now has at least five mosques, a Muslim parliament member and a nightly local television program devoted to Islam.
The disaster drew in aid groups from around the world, including Islamic Relief USA, which built 200 shelters and a secondary school with 20 classrooms.
"After the earthquake we had a lot of people join," said Robert Dupuy, an imam or Islamic spiritual leader in the capital. "We were organized. We had space in the mosques to receive people and food to feed them."
A day to get married, buy a lottery ticket, hold a debate? 10-11-12 is appealing date to some
NEW YORK (AP) — So what are you doing on Thursday?
Not you, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan — we already know you're a little busy with that debate thing. But others may be marking, in some way, the fact that Thursday is a special day, numerically speaking: It's 10-11-12.
Nice, but how significant? Those who study numbers say, well, not too much. Or perhaps it's better to say that it's as significant as you want it to be.
Significant enough to influence your wedding date? At one wedding chapel in Las Vegas, Forever Grand at the MGM Resorts, there's a special numerology package, including a chapel, a pianist, a minister, and a limo to the courthouse, among other things. (And if you're just finding out about this, it isn't too late: There's another special at Forever Grand for 12-12-12.)
The date 10-11-12 has proven not nearly as popular as last year's 11-11-11, when there were 22 weddings at the chapel, says manager Glynnis Sherwood. Nine weddings are booked for Thursday, almost certainly because of the date, she says, adding: "Of course, the biggest was 07-07-07, when we had 62."