Doctor: Bulls' Derrick Rose out 8-12 months after knee injury but could return sooner

CHICAGO (AP) -- The doctor who operated on Derrick Rose's knee insists the Chicago Bulls' star can dominate again.

It will take time, though.

Rose faces a recovery of eight months to a year.

The assessment by team physician Dr. Brian Cole on Tuesday means the point guard could return around mid-January to early February, or miss next season. The doctor added there is a chance Rose could be back sooner, but "we're not going to rush it."

The Bulls had already said Rose has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Cole said there were also two tears in his meniscus cartilage.

He said Rose is "doing great," that the surgery went "extremely well" and he can still be an explosive player.

"It's impossible to predict tomorrow," Cole said during a news conference at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center. "Statistically, he should be that player and then some. That doesn't mean he's guaranteed. It's a whole lot better than we were accustomed to years ago. The ligament is one thing and the meniscus is another. Getting all the things to heal appropriately is really our goal in the early phases. Then, it's rehab, conditioning - getting his brain connected to his knee, basically."

General manager Gar Forman insisted the Bulls won't rush Rose, that they are more focused on the long term than the short-term hit they'll take without him. The GM is "hopeful" and "optimistic" his franchise player will return next season but isn't sure he will.

"In putting this team together, everything was looking at the big picture, long term," Forman said. "I think it's our job to stay focused on that and to continue to look at what we feel is a long window of opportunity to have success and that's how we'll approach it."

Rose had surgery on Saturday after being injured two weeks earlier in Chicago's playoff-opening win over Philadelphia, a major blow for a team eyeing its first championship since the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen era. The Bulls simply weren't the same without their superstar point guard and bowed out in six games, making them the fifth top seed to lose to an eighth seed.

Chicago was closing out a 103-91 victory in Game 1 and Rose was showing his MVP form when everything changed.

He came to a jump stop in the lane with about 1:20 left and his leg buckled. He went up again and passed to Carlos Boozer in midair before crashing to the court, sending a chill through the arena.

That certainly wasn't what the Bulls envisioned after capturing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs for the second straight season despite a long list of injuries. They were eyeing another big run after losing to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals last season, but with their leading scorer sidelined, they made an early exit, becoming the second No. 1 seed in two years to fall in the first round.

Rose averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 assists, but had trouble staying healthy after capturing the MVP a year ago. He missed 27 games because of groin, back, toe, foot and ankle problems that the team does not think led to the ACL tear.

"This could be anything from a completely random event - which in a non-contact injury, most of the time that's what it is - to maybe conditioning," Cole said. "We'll never know with certainty. My feeling is it's more likely than not a very random even that happened. If you watch the video, you can see ... the forces are just right to tear the ligament."

He also pointed out that Rose did not tear the medial collateral ligament, making the preparation for the surgery easier.

Cole said patients generally start running about three months after surgery, and trainer Fred Tedeschi said players start shooting around that time. From there, they progress to cutting activities and increase the workload from there.

Whether Rose spends part of his offseason working out in Los Angeles as he usually does or stays in Chicago, Tedeschi said the Bulls will have someone with him monitoring his rehab.

Cole also said Rose should play once he's ready, that he doesn't necessarily recommend sitting out the season as a precaution.

"There's a lot of benefit to playing when he's safe," Cole said. "Whether he has to go 40 minutes, that's a different story. Just getting out there and playing when he's able, that's when his exponential growth is going to come. Lots of athletes go back and play at a very high level but not necessarily initially at the level they were pre-injury."

The Bulls were a different team in the playoffs once Rose went down, after going 18-9 without him in the regular season.

Making matters worse, they lost center Joakim Noah to a sprained left ankle in Game 3 and fell into a 3-1 hole before injecting some drama back into the series.

Besides the injuries to Rose, they were without Richard Hamilton for most of the year because of a variety of ailments.

Then, there's All-Star Luol Deng. He played a significant portion of the season with a torn ligament in his left wrist and has said several times that he plans to represent Britain at the Olympics in London.

Forman basically sidestepped questions about that, saying, "We want to sit down with him and have that conversation with him and our medical staff. I think it would be premature to speculate on anything until we've had a chance to sit down with him. Obviously, we know it's very, very important to him and we want to support our players. The biggest thing is Luol's health."

Forman also said the Bulls will exercise their contract option for next season on coach Tom Thibodeau and will try to negotiate a new deal.


FACT CHECK: Romney ignores a huge recession and other causes of nation's mounting debt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- When Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney decried the "prairie fire" of U.S. debt Tuesday, he ignored some of the sparks that set it ablaze.

One was the Great Recession that took hold before Barack Obama became president. That landmark event went unmentioned in Romney's speech. Another was a series of Bush-era tax cuts that Romney wants to follow with even lower rates.

Instead he laid the blame on Obama, a president who has certainly increased the nation's eye-popping debt - but not, as Romney claimed, by nearly as much as all other presidents combined.

A look at some of Romney's assertions and how they compare with the facts:


ROMNEY: "America counted on President Obama to rescue the economy, tame the deficit and help create jobs. Instead, he bailed out the public sector, gave billions of your dollars to the companies of his friends, and added almost as much debt as all the prior presidents combined."

THE FACTS. Hardly. Presidents from George Washington through George W. Bush ran the national debt up to $10.62 trillion, the amount it was on the day Obama took office. Today, it is $15.67 trillion, according to the Treasury Department's Bureau of Public Debt. So it has gone up by $5.05 trillion under Obama. That's roughly half of the amount amassed by all the other presidents combined.

In short, the debt has gone up by about half under Obama. Under Ronald Reagan, it tripled.


ROMNEY: "I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno. We will stop borrowing unfathomable sums of money we can't even imagine, from foreign countries we'll never even visit. I will bring us together to put out the fire."

THE FACTS: Romney's tax and spending plans don't support his vow to dampen the debt fire. He proposes to cut taxes and expand the armed forces, putting yet more stress on the budget, and his promise to slash domestic spending isn't backed by the big specifics. Romney's tax plan would cut the top income tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent and other rates by 20 percent each. He says he'd broaden the tax base and eliminate many deductions in the process, but details are missing.

A study by the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget concluded earlier this year that Romney's plans would not make a dent in deficits, and could worsen them considerably. That study was done before Romney upped his tax cuts, inviting even deeper debt.

That's not to say he can't at some point lay out the spending cuts necessary to achieve his aims. But he would have to slash domestic programs by more than 20 percent - far more than the 5 percent in immediate cuts he has proposed. It is nearly unthinkable that Congress would approve the evisceration of basic federal functions such as food inspection, air traffic control, the Border Patrol, FBI, grants to local governments, health research, housing and heating aid for the poor, food aid for pregnant women, national parks and much more.

Nowhere in Tuesday's speech was there a new idea of how Romney would accomplish the promised deficit reduction. He spoke generally of reforming Social Security and Medicare, eliminating duplicative government programs, and transferring some functions to the states or the private sector, adding that he would "streamline everything that's left."

The closest he has come to laying out a specific spending plan has been in his endorsement of the budget blueprint passed this year by House Republicans, which also fails to produce his promised deficit reductions.


ROMNEY: "The people of Iowa and America have watched President Obama for nearly four years, much of that time with Congress controlled by his own party. And rather than put out the spending fire, he has fed the fire. He has spent more and borrowed more. ... When you add up his policies, this president has increased the national debt by $5 trillion."

THE FACTS: Much of the increase in the debt is due to lower tax revenues from depressed corporate and individual incomes and high joblessness in the worst recession since the Great Depression. The recession officially began in December 2007, when George W. Bush was president and the national debt stood at just over $9 trillion. Financial bailouts, stimulus programs and auto rescue spending that started under Bush and continued under Obama contributed to the run-up of the debt.

But so did the Bush-era tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003. With bipartisan support, Congress has extended the tax cuts until the end of this year, and Romney's proposals for big cuts of his own would risk another squeeze on revenue.

To be sure, Obama as a presidential candidate in 2008 was just as eager as Romney is now to pin blame for mounting debt on a president from the other party.

Ignoring economic circumstances and the role of both parties in Congress, Obama accused President George W. Bush in that campaign of driving up debt by $4 trillion "by his lonesome" and taking out "a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children."


Too much, too fast: Britain bedeviled by binge drinking as health woes, costs rise

LONDON (AP) -- The girls slumped in wheelchairs look barely conscious, their blond heads lolling above the plastic vomit bags tied like bibs around their necks.

It's an hour to midnight on Friday, and the two girls, who look no older than 18, are being wheeled from an ambulance to a clinic set up discreetly in a dark alley in London's Soho entertainment district.

They're the first of many to be picked up on this night by the ambulance, known as a "booze bus," and carried to the clinic - both government services dedicated to keeping drunk people out of trouble, and out of emergency rooms.

Binge drinking has reached crisis levels in Britain, health experts say, costing the cash-strapped National Health Service 2.7 billion pounds (US$4.4 billion) a year, including the cost of hospital admissions related to booze-fueled violence and longer-term health problems. Unlike all other major health threats, liver disease is on the rise in Britain, increasing by 25 percent in the last decade and causing a record level of deaths, according to recent government figures.

Doctors believe rising obesity is combining with heavy drinking to fuel the spike in liver disease, which is hitting more young people than ever.

"Undoubtedly professionals are seeing more (patients) in their late-20s to mid-30s, which would have been unusual 20 years ago," said Chris Day, a liver disease specialist at Newcastle University.

On the streets of Soho, most people are too busy drinking to notice passed-out partyers. The streets, lined with pubs and nightclubs, are just beginning to get rowdy: Men chasing each other and shrieking like teenagers; women stumbling and falling over in their too-short skirts and high heels. Soon the sidewalks are littered with empty beer bottles and reeking puddles.

Such public displays of extreme drunkenness are inexplicable and shocking to many foreigners living in Britain, even those who hail from heavy drinking cultures.

"(At home) it's embarrassing to be drunk. Here it's kind of something you brag about," said Kaisa Toroskainen, a Finnish graduate student in London having a beer with her friends.

The headline-grabbing figures about ever-younger liver disease victims may seem to suggest that Britain has quite recently turned into a nation of raging alcoholics. But it's not news that the British like their tipple. This is, after all, a nation known around the world for its ales and its pubs, the default venue for any British social gathering from a quiet date to after-work networking.

Despite that, most experts agree that Britons, on the whole, don't drink more than other Europeans - in fact, overall alcohol consumption levels here have come down since the mid 2000s.

But that's the average. The problem seems to lie with a minority of hard-core drinkers who tend to down a huge amount in a short time.

"The key point is the ways in which we behave when we're drinking - it involves very public displays of reckless drunkenness," said Jamie Bartlett, a researcher at the London-based think tank Demos who has written about alcohol abuse.

"It's not an issue of consumption. It's an issue of behavior."

Anyone who's gone out on a Friday night in any of Britain's larger towns and cities will be familiar with boozed out groups of people shouting, brawling and causing a scene as they spill out of bars and pubs. Commuters aren't immune to the antics - especially on evenings when soccer matches are on.

"We are the whites, we are we are the whites!" one clearly intoxicated young man was heard relentlessly singing on a train carriage on a recent night, urging wary strangers to join in.

The problem isn't confined to a particular class, and even members of the social elite can be caught in embarrassing drink-fueled trouble. In 2000, the teenage son of then Prime Minister Tony Blair was arrested for being "drunk and incapable" when he was found semiconscious and vomiting on the sidewalk in London's Leicester Square.

The event was remarkable only because of his father's prominence.

The legal drinking age in Britain is 18, compared to 21 in the U.S., but many drinkers start younger. Social workers say lax control of retail sales and cheap alcohol - commonly available for less than 70 pence ($1.10) a can in supermarkets and liquor stores - makes it easy for young people to experiment with liquor.

Cut-price booze has been blamed for the increasingly popular practice of "pre-loading," where drinkers indulge in shop-bought drink at home before they head out to bars and pubs, where the drinks are much more expensive.

Prime Minister David Cameron has declared binge drinking a national "scandal," and the government is seeking to curb the excess by introducing a minimum price for each unit of alcohol sold. Scotland, which has long struggled with a dire alcohol abuse problem, announced Monday it wants to set a minimum price of 50 pence (80 U.S. cents) per unit - which would mean an average bottle of wine could cost no less than about 4.70 pounds ($7.55).

The proposals have sparked lively debate - not least because of the unusually interventionist stance taken by the Conservatives. More to the point are questions about whether higher prices will actually cut excessive indulgence.

Simon Antrobus at the drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction is hopeful that the proposals will increase public awareness.

"We're beginning to see people thinking, `I have to do something about this,'" he said. "The challenging bit is getting people to understand the potential harmful consequences of alcohol. People need to know their limits."


Mexico's Zetas cartel denies role in killing of 49

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Banners have appeared in northern Mexico signed by the Zetas drug cartel saying the gang was not responsible for killing 49 people whose mutilated bodies were found on a highway in a neighboring state.

An employee of the prosecutors' office in northern San Luis Potosi state says the banners were hung from overpasses in the city of Ciudad Valles. The banners were found early Tuesday.

The employee was not authorized to speak on the record, and did not give the precise wording of the banners.

The bodies were found Sunday in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon with their heads, hands and feet hacked off. A slogan scrawled on a stone arch nearby read "100 percent Zetas," but it may have been there well before the bodies were dumped.


NBA says replay shows foul was called incorrectly near end of Hawks-Celtics game

NEW YORK (AP) -- The NBA says a foul against Boston with 3.1 seconds left in Atlanta's season-ending loss on Thursday should have been called sooner, which would have given the Hawks a free throw instead of just the ball out of bounds.

The Celtics' Marquis Daniels held the Hawks' Al Horford as Atlanta was inbounding the ball trailing 81-79. Referee Eric Lewis called a foul, but ruled it came after Marvin Williams had released the ball, meaning it was just a common foul that resulted in another throw-in.

However, replays showed the foul occurred before the ball was passed and should have been treated as an away-from-the-play foul, in which case Atlanta would have been awarded one free throw and retained possession of the ball.

Boston won 83-80 to take the series 4-2.


Black Americans more likely to oppose gay marriage, but Obama's new view doesn't faze them

ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) -- Like many black Americans, Dorsey Jackson does not believe in gay marriage, but he wasn't disillusioned when Barack Obama became the first president to support it. The windows of his suburban Philadelphia barbershop still display an "Obama 2012" placard and another that reads "We've Got His Back."

If Obama needs to endorse same-sex marriage to be re-elected, said Jackson, so be it: "Look, man - by any means necessary."

With that phrase popularized by the black radical Malcolm X, Jackson rebutted those who say Obama's new stand will weaken the massive black support he needs to win re-election in November. Black voters and especially black churches have long opposed gay marriage. But the 40-year-old barber and other African-Americans interviewed in politically key states say their support for Obama remains unshaken.

Some questioned whether he really believes what he says about gay marriage or merely took that stand to help defeat Republican Mitt Romney - suggesting African-Americans view the first black president less as an icon than as a straight-up politician who still feels like family.

"Obama is human," said Leon Givens of Charlotte, N.C. "I don't have him on a pedestal."

On Tuesday, Givens voted in favor of banning gay marriage in North Carolina. Many black precincts voted 2-1 for the ballot measure, which passed easily.

The next day, Givens heard Obama tell the nation in a TV interview: "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

But this fall, Givens plans to register Obama voters and drive senior citizens to the polls. A retired human resources manager, he suspects the president's pronouncement was "more a political thing than his true feelings." But he's not dwelling on it.

"We can agree to disagree on gay marriage," Givens said, "and then I leave him alone."

Obama won North Carolina in 2008 by a mere 14,000 votes, thanks largely to a huge black turnout. Nationally, 95 percent of black voters chose Obama, and 2 million more black people voted than in 2004. No one doubts Obama will carry the black vote this year, but whether he can again turn out such large numbers could prove crucial to his chances.

African-Americans have historically been more hostile to gays and lesbians than other racial and ethnic groups.

Only 39 percent of African-Americans favor gay marriage, compared with 47 percent of white Americans, according to a Pew poll conducted this April. Forty-nine percent of blacks and 43 percent of whites are opposed.

But blacks - like other Americans - have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in recent years. Black support has risen dramatically since 2008, when only 26 percent of black people favored gay marriage and 63 percent were opposed, according to Pew.

Much of the opposition stems from religious beliefs. Church is the backbone of black America - 22 percent of black people attend religious services more than once per week, compared with 11 percent of whites, according to recent AP/GfK polls.

Mel Brown, a 65-year-old project manager in Philadelphia, says same-sex marriage "is between them and their God. The God I serve does not agree with that."

Does Obama's announcement change Brown's support for the president? "Absolutely not. Because Scripture says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

Black voters, led by black churches, have played key roles in blocking same-sex marriage in states like California, where 2008 exit polls indicated about 70 percent black opposition, and Maryland, where black Democrats were part of a statehouse coalition that stalled a gay marriage bill in 2011. (It passed this year but may face a referendum in November.)

Part of the tension between gays and blacks comes from comparisons of their struggles. Some cast gay marriage as the last frontier of equal rights for all; others counter that minority status comes more from how you look than what you do.

Tanyeo Wotorson, a film producer and director in New York City, supports Obama's new position and said prohibitions on same-sex marriage "return to that time when whites could send people to the back of the bus and women couldn't vote."

Darian Aaron, a gay black man, acknowledges that there are differences between black issues and gay rights, but "at its core both groups are seeking to gain access to full equality under the law."

Even if Obama had not supported same-sex marriage, Aaron said he still would have voted for him because the president has signaled his support in other ways and Romney strongly opposes gay marriage.

Aaron laments that "many within the black community find it nearly impossible to see gay rights through any lens other than biblical." But he finds hope in the statistics showing black people becoming more accepting and says that may be because they've gotten to know gays and lesbians, which breaks down stereotypes.

Many black pastors have been reluctant to address same-sex marriage from the pulpit; the topic remains taboo in much of their community. Now, "with the president taking such a clear stand on the issue, and his being such a beloved figure and historic symbol for African-Americans, I think it will advance the conversation," said the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

"As a pastor, I will have to say something about this on Sunday," Warnock said.

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, a giant of the civil rights movement who delivered the benediction at Obama's inauguration, said he agrees with Obama on gay marriage.

"I believe in equal rights," Lowery said. "You can't believe in equal rights for some. That's an oxymoron."

However: "Do I like it? I'm uncomfortable with it," said Lowery, 90. "We grew up under boy-girl, man-woman, courtship and marriage."

Obama's statement may actually be following the changing black opinion rather than leading it, said William Jelani Cobb, a Rutgers University professor and author of "The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress."

"Presidencies tend to follow the culture, as opposed to being ahead of it," he said. "What this says is that the culture has gotten to a place where the executive branch feels like it can embrace this and not be so far ahead of the curve that they'll suffer really serious political damage for it."


Bristol Palin: Children do better with mom, dad

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Bristol Palin says children do better with a mother and father.

The daughter of 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made the comment on the religious website She was responding to President Barack Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage.

Palin quickly drew fire from critics who note she was an unwed mother at age 17.

"Jersey Shore" star Jenni "JWOWW" Farley tweeted, "Bristol should keep her uneducated ignorant mouth shut. If Ur living in the past u wouldn't have a kid w/out marriage (hash)hypocrite. It's 2012!"

Obama said his position evolved after discussions with his wife and daughters. He told ABC News his daughters would never imagine "that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently."

Palin is filming "Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp" for Lifetime. Tripp is the name of her 3-year-old son.


Two charged with trying to extort Stevie Wonder

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Two people have been charged with extortion after police detectives say they arrested the pair for trying to sell what they said was embarrassing information about Stevie Wonder.

The duo, Alpha Lorenzo Walker and his girlfriend Tamara Eileen Diaz, have been jailed since their arrest on May 2. Both have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to appear in court on May 16 for a hearing in which a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for them to stand trial.

According to a felony complaint, Walker and Diaz attempted to obtain money from the Grammy-winning musician, who is identified by his birth name, Steveland Morris. An email message sent to Wonder's studio was not immediately returned Friday.

Walker, 38, was on probation at the time of his arrest after pleading no contest to grand theft in May 2011. A judge issued a suspended three-year prison sentence in that case and he is due in court for a probation violation hearing May 31.

District attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison says Walker contacted Wonder's representatives claiming to have embarrassing information about the musician. Detectives organized a sting and the pair were arrested. Police did not release additional details about their investigation Friday.

Walker identifies himself as Wonder's nephew and is being held without bail because of another case.

Diaz's bail is set at $95,000. Both are being represented by public defenders, who did not immediately return calls for comment.

Diaz was placed on three years of probation after pleading no contest in February 2011 to possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, court records show.

The case was first reported Friday by celebrity website TMZ.


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Detroit orchestra hopes Kid Rock show raises $1M

DETROIT (AP) -- This time last year, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra was about a month removed from a contentious musicians' strike that worsened its already strained finances. Now, the rebounding organization aims to raise the roof - and hopefully $1 million - with help from a hometown musician known more for rock, rap and country than classical.

The orchestra will collaborate with Kid Rock on Saturday in a benefit concert at the Fox Theatre, down the street from the ensemble's Orchestra Hall home. Tickets start at $100, though VIP tickets fetch as much as $1,500 and include an after-party with the genre-jumping artist who still lives in suburban Detroit.

Kid Rock, who was born Robert Ritchie and grew up in Macomb County, Mich., is volunteering his services. So are Detroit Symphony Music Director Leonard Slatkin and orchestra members. Proceeds will help pay symphony musicians for community outreach and education efforts.

"As a musician, and of course a Detroiter, I am proud to be supporting this longstanding cultural institution," Kid Rock has said of his show with the orchestra. A spokesman for the musician declined to make him available to comment for this story.

One night - even one that rocks and rolls in big money - doesn't erase bigger, long-term woes for the internationally recognized orchestra. Musicians agreed to major concessions during the six-month strike that ended in April of last year, but that's only slowed the orchestra's $2.5 million-to-$3 million annual drain of a roughly $14 million endowment that it draws from to survive. And officials have been mired in a so-far unsuccessful effort to restructure a $54 million bank loan on a real estate deal for the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

The lingering debt came before the labor strife but it's "certainly become more acute after the strike and we returned to concerts," said Paul Hogle, the orchestra's executive vice president. Hogle said as long as the money is owed, the orchestra cannot increase its endowment.

Still, in the short-term, "we're performing, broadcasting, we're being an orchestra," he said.

"We still have an enormous amount of work to do," Hogle said. "But the business of performing and attracting talent here is in fact returning and vibrant."

He cited the hiring of seven musicians, including incoming concertmaster Yoonshin Song. The orchestra announced this week that the 30-year-old member of the Saint Paul Chamber Ensemble would permanently replace Emmanuelle Boisvert, who left after the strike to become associate concertmaster with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Several of the recent departures can be traced to the contentious walkout or settlement that left musicians with a roughly 25 percent cut to their salaries. Hogle said the hiring process is restoring the faith across the organization.

"As a result of the auditions we've already had this year, it certainly suggests that Detroit and the music-making legacy here continues to be attractive for candidates," he said. "That bodes very well for our future."

Hogle said he's also excited that more than 100,000 people have tuned in to the orchestra's webcasts this past season. Much closer to home, the orchestra has inaugurated concerts in a half-dozen Detroit-area neighborhoods - drawing a suburban audience largely composed of audience members who haven't attended a performance in Detroit.

Drew McManus, a Chicago-based orchestra management consultant, said he's glad to see some good signs after so much strife, but he lacks enough information to conclude the Detroit orchestra is succeeding in its turnaround plan.

"Is the organization going to be able to stabilize and look at a new growth pattern? All that hasn't transpired in the year since the (strike) ended," McManus said.

He said the upcoming concert featuring Kid Rock backed by the orchestra is "a good thing" and could be a successful one-time event. McManus would like to see it inspire a series of rock-flavored shows, using the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra's successful Rockin' Orchestra Series as a model.

"It's far more beneficial for an organization if they can develop that into a series," he said. "It's a really smart financial move: It shores up their bottom line and supports the core mission activity."

Hogle sees the collaboration with Kid Rock as recognition of how far the orchestra has come, and a fitting example of where it can go.

"It's the perfect culmination of what we will look back on as a very successful year," he said "A year ago, our stage was silent. And today our hall is regularly full. We have an increase in donations. And, we're performing with Kid Rock."


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Paintings by Yves Klein, Mark Rothko set records for the artists at NYC auction

NEW YORK (AP) -- An iconic painting by French artist Yves Klein created with water, a blowtorch and two models has sold at a New York City auction for $36.4 million.

Christie's auction house said "FC 1" set an auction record for the artist Tuesday night. The painting was sold to a buyer who wishes to remain anonymous, Christie's said.

The painting was executed a few weeks before the artist's death in 1962 at age 34 and is considered to be his masterpiece. It was offered for sale by an anonymous Swiss collector.

The previous Klein record was for his "MG 9," which sold for $23.5 million at Sotheby's in 2008.

Among other highlights at the sale was Mark Rothko's "Orange, Red, Yellow," which had been in the collection of the late philanthropist David Pincus of Philadelphia and for years on loan at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It sold for $86.8 million, a record for the artist.

Christie's said it was the most important Rothko to come on the market since 2007 when "White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)" from the David Rockefeller collection sold for $72.8 million, the previous record.

When he was creating "FC 1," Klein invited the media to observe him. It was videotaped and featured in a documentary on the artist titled "La Revolution Bleue."

It shows Klein dousing two models with water as they press their bodies against a fire-resistant board. As they step away, he points a blowtorch at the surface, and the moistened areas resist scorching.

The models then coat their bodies with paint and again press themselves against the flame-licked board, leaving impressions of their breasts and thighs. Klein then applies blue and splashes of pink pigment around the silhouettes.

The painting "embodies Klein's obsession with the irreconcilable concept of presence and absence, life and death," said Loic Gouzer, Christie's post-war and contemporary art specialist.

It has been included in major museum retrospectives of the artist, including at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.

The auction sales include the buyer's premium.


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Obama campaign team hits Romney on image, policy, ideology _ and waits to see what works best

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's campaign is trying an early "all of the above" strategy against Republican Mitt Romney, criticizing his character, wealth and policy positions in broadsides that may become more focused as the fall election nears.

Romney's record offers both opportunities and dilemmas for Democratic strategists. His widely known shifts in key positions over the years invite the "flip-flopper" charge, which badly hurt Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

But painting Romney as a conviction-free waffler runs counter to another line of attack, which former President Bill Clinton and others argue is more potent: Romney is a dedicated hard-line conservative, bent on radical changes unpalatable to mainstream America.

On top of those two somewhat conflicting messages, Obama's campaign is attacking Romney's background and wealth. A recent TV ad in a $3.6 million multistate effort depicts Romney, a former private equity executive, as a corporate raider who once had a Swiss bank account.

Romney says the election will turn on Obama's economic record. But it's clear his allies are also concerned about the type of character and image issues raised by the flip-flopper and Swiss bank criticisms.

The main super political action committee backing Romney is spending $4.3 million for a TV ad that highlights his role in finding a colleague's lost teenage daughter in 1996. The ad, called "Saved," is airing in at least nine swing states.

It's not unusual for campaigns to run positive, image-building ads when introducing a candidate to a new audience. But the "Saved" spot is running in five states where Romney campaigned heavily, on the ground and airwaves, during the GOP primary: Florida, Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan.

Democrats say the super PAC is using precious resources to try to repair Romney's damaged image. Polls showed that Romney's popularity suffered during the hard-hitting primary, in which the super PAC Restore Our Future flooded airwaves with attack ads his opponents called unfair and distorted.

Romney's advisers say the Democrats' multipronged approach is a sign of flailing by a president whose record is weak.

"They've started trying all these themes," said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. Among them, she said, are efforts to paint Romney as out of touch with regular people and linking him to George W. Bush and the unpopular Congress.

"They say Gov. Romney has no core," Saul said. "Now they're trying to say his core is too far to the right. They're just grasping at straws."

Some Democrats say Saul has identified a key contradiction in their approach. Clinton, among others, has encouraged Obama's team to focus almost exclusively on the strongly conservative stands that Romney took in defeating Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and others for the Republican nomination, which he expects to lock down soon.

Clinton says the Romney-as-extremist message will resonate with crucial swing voters, who tend to be comparatively nonpartisan and more interested in solutions than ideology. The strategy might not prove easy.

A survey by the pro-Democratic group Third Way found that "swing independent" voters see Romney as less conservative than Republicans in general. These voters also see themselves as being closer ideologically to Romney than to Obama on a liberal-to-conservative scale.

Democrats note Romney's opposition to the proposed "Dream Act," which would give illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they served in the U.S. military. The stance angers some Hispanic voters, an increasingly important constituency in several tossup states.

Democrats also cite Romney's call for tax cuts for the wealthy (along with other income groups) and his statements that he was a "severely conservative" governor of Massachusetts and "the ideal candidate" for the tea party movement.

Romney "has embraced every extreme position that he can in order to curry favor in the Republican primary," said Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge 21st Century, a pro-Democratic research group. He said his organization and others will make sure voters know that record.

If Romney changes position on issues, Mollineau said, his group will publicly note it. But "the fact that he has moved so far to the right is what voters are truly going to be concerned about," Mollineau said. "That's where the election can be won."

Obama recently has emphasized the Romney-is-extreme message.

He told Rolling Stone, "You have a Republican Party and a presumptive Republican nominee that believes in drastically rolling back environmental regulations, that believes in drastically rolling back collective-bargaining rights, that believes in an approach to deficit reduction in which taxes are cut further for the wealthiest Americans and spending cuts are entirely borne by things like education or basic research or care for the vulnerable."

"I don't think their nominee is going to be able to suddenly say, `Everything I've said for the last six months, I didn't mean,'" Obama told the magazine.

The president said in a Twitter message recently, "If you think Mitt Romney isn't extreme on women's issues, think again." It linked to a video criticizing Romney on several issues, including access to birth control.

Charlie Black, an informal Romney adviser, said that all during the GOP primary, Americans heard Gingrich, Santorum and others say Romney isn't conservative enough. Now, when Obama's allies say Romney is far too conservative, it will ring false and confusing, he said.

"It's all they've got," Black said. "They can't run on his record."

Democratic strategists say they expect Obama's campaign to refine and focus its criticisms of Romney over time, as polls and focus groups reveal each candidate's softest spots.


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'Where Wild Things Are' author Maurice Sendak dies

NEW YORK (AP) -- Maurice Sendak didn't think of himself as a children's author, but as an author who told the truth about childhood.

"I like interesting people and kids are really interesting people," he explained to The Associated Press last fall. "And if you didn't paint them in little blue, pink and yellow, it's even more interesting."

Sendak, who died early Tuesday in Danbury, Conn., at age 83, four days after suffering a stroke, revolutionized children's books and how we think about childhood simply by leaving in what so many writers before had excluded. Dick and Jane were no match for his naughty Max. His kids misbehaved and didn't regret it, and in their dreams and nightmares fled to the most unimaginable places. Monstrous creatures were devised from his studio, but none more frightening than the grownups in his stories or the cloud of the Holocaust that darkened his every page.

"From their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions - fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can," he said upon receiving the Caldecott Medal in 1964 for "Where the Wild Things Are," his signature book. "And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming wild things."

Rarely was a man so uninterested in being loved or adored. Starting with the Caldecott, the great parade marched on and on. He received the Hans Christian Andersen award in 1970 and a Laura Ingalls Wilder medal in 1983. President Bill Clinton awarded Sendak a National Medal of the Arts in 1996 and in 2009 President Obama read "Where the Wild Things Are" for the Easter Egg Roll.

Communities attempted to ban him, but his books sold millions of copies and his curmudgeonly persona became as much a part of his legend as "Where the Wild Things Are," adapted into a hit movie in 2009. He seemed to act out everyone's fantasy of a nasty old man with a hidden and generous heart. No one granted the privilege could forget his snarly smile, his raspy, unprintable and adorable dismissals of such modern piffle as e-books and publicity tours, his misleading insistence that his life didn't matter.

"I didn't sleep with famous people or movie stars or anything like that. It's a common story: Brooklyn boy grows up and succeeds in his profession, period," he told the AP.

Sendak's other books, standard volumes in so many children's bedrooms, included "Chicken Soup With Rice," "One was Johnny," "Pierre," "Outside Over There" and "Brundibar," a folk tale about two children who need to earn enough money to buy milk for their sick mother.

"This is the closest thing to a perfect child I've ever had," he told the AP.

Besides illustrating his own work, he also provided drawings - sometimes sweet, sometimes nasty - for Else Holmelund Minarik's series "Little Bear," George MacDonald's "The Light Princess" and adaptations of E.T.A. Hoffman's "The Nutcracker" and the Brothers Grimm's "King Grisly-Beard." His most recent book that he wrote and illustrated was "Bumble-Ardy," a naughty pig party which came out in 2011, based on an old animated skit he worked up for "Sesame Street."

In recent months, he had said he was working on a project about noses and he endorsed - against his best judgment - Stephen Colbert's "I am a Pole (And So Can You!)", a children's story calculated to offend the master. Colbert's book was published Tuesday.

"His art gave us a fantastical but unromanticized reminder of what childhood truly felt like," Colbert said in a statement. "We are all honored to have been briefly invited into his world."

Somebody up there has a sense of humor: As of Tuesday evening, "I Am a Pole" was No. 14 on's best-seller list, outranking "Where the Wild Things Are" at No. 19.

Sendak also created costumes for ballets and staged operas, including the Czech opera "Brundibar," which in 2003 he put on paper with his close friend, Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner. He designed sets for several productions at New York City Opera and he wrote the libretto for composer Oliver Knussen's opera adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are," which premiered at Brussels' Theatre de la Monnaie in 1980 as "Max et les Maximontres." A revised final version debuted in 1984 in London.

He designed the Pacific Northwest Ballet's "Nutcracker" production that later became a movie shown on television, and he served as producer of various animated TV series based on his illustrations, including "Seven Little Monsters," "George and Martha" and "Little Bear." He collaborated with Carole King on the musical "Really Rosie."

None of Sendak's books were memoirs, but all were personal, if only for their celebrations of disobedience and intimations of fear and death and dislocation, sketched in haunting, Blakean waves of pen and ink. "It's a Jewish way of getting through life," Kushner said last fall. "You acknowledge what is spectacular and beautiful and also you don't close your eyes to the pain and the difficulty."

"He drew children in a realistic way, as opposed to an idealized way," children's books historian Leonard S. Marcus said Tuesday. "His children weren't perfect-looking. They didn't resemble the people seen on advertising or in sitcoms. They looked more like immigrant children. It was a big change for American children's books, which tended to take the melting pot approach and present children who were generic Americans."

Revenge helped inspire "Where the Wild Things Are," his canonical tale of the boy Max's mind in flight in a forest of monsters, who just happen to look like some of Sendak's relatives from childhood. "In The Night Kitchen," released in 1971, was a forbidden dance of Laurel and Hardy in aprons and the flash of a boy's genitals, leading to calls for the book to be removed from library shelves.

"It was so fatuous, so incredible, that people would get so exercised by a phallus, a normal appendage to a man and to a boy. It was so cheap and vulgar. Despicable," Sendak said last fall. "It's all changed now. We live in a different country altogether. I will not say an improved version. No."

His stories were less about the kids he knew - never had them, he was happy to say - than the kid he used to be. The son of Polish immigrants, he was born in 1928 in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. The family didn't have a lot of money and he didn't have a lot of friends besides his brother and sister. He was an outsider at birth, as Christians nearby would remind him, throwing dirt and rocks as he left Hebrew school. The kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's baby son terrified him for years.

He remembered no special talent - his brother, Jack, was the chosen one. But he absorbed his father's stories and he loved to dream and to create, like the time he and his brother built a model of the 1939 World's Fair out of clay and wax. At the movies, he surrendered to the magic of "Fantasia," and later escaped into "Pinocchio," a guilty pleasure during darkened times. The Nazi cancer was spreading overseas and the U.S. entered the war. Sendak's brother joined the military, relatives overseas were captured and killed. Storytelling, after the Holocaust, became something more than play.

"It forced me to take children to a level that I thought was more honest than most people did," he said. "Because if life is so critical, if Anne Frank could die, if my friend could die, children were as vulnerable as adults, and that gave me a secret purpose to my work, to make them live. Because I wanted to live. I wanted to grow up."

Sendak didn't go to college and worked a variety of odd jobs until he was hired by the famous toy store FAO Schwarz as a window dresser in 1948. But illustration was his dream and his break came in 1951 when he was commissioned to do the art for "Wonderful Farm" by Marcel Ayme. By 1957 he was writing his own books.

"He began to be honest in the `50s," said "Wicked" author Gregory Maguire, one of Sendak's closest friends. "He was laceratingly honest at a time when few others were."

Claiming Emily Dickinson, Mozart and Herman Melville as inspirations, he worked for decades out of the studio of his shingled 18th century house in Ridgefield, Conn., a country home reachable only by a bumpy road that seemed designed to keep away all but the most determined. The interior was a wonderland of carvings and cushions, from Disney characters to the fanged beasts from his books to a statuette of Obama.

Sendak spoke often, endlessly, about death in recent years - dreading it, longing for it. He didn't mind being old because the young were under so much pressure. But he missed his late siblings and his longtime companion, Eugene Glynn, who died in 2009. Work, not people, was his reason to carry on.

"I want to be alone and work until the day my head hits the drawing table and I'm dead. Kaput," he said last fall. "Everything is over. Everything that I called living is over. I'm very, very much alone. I don't believe in heaven or hell or any of those things. I feel very much like I want to be with my brother and sister again. They're nowhere. I know they're nowhere and they don't exist, but if nowhere means that's where they are, that's where I want to be."


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New Israeli coalition confronts first challenge

JERUSALEM (AP) -- A controversial practice that has allowed tens of thousands of young ultra-Orthodox men to avoid compulsory military service has emerged as a looming test for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new coalition government - and one that could create major mayhem in the Jewish state.

Facing a court-ordered deadline, Netanyahu says he is committed to obeying the ruling and overhauling the system. And backed by his new coalition partner, Kadima Party leader Shaul Mofaz, he is in a strong position to overcome the objections of an increasingly agitated ultra-religious minority that considers the draft an assault on its way of life.

The issue of the draft exemptions was a key factor in this week's Israeli government shake-up.

Unable to bridge differences between religious and secular elements in his coalition, Netanyahu said Monday he would hold a new parliamentary election in September - more than a year ahead of schedule. Then, in a stunning last-minute reversal, he reached a deal to bring the centrist Kadima into his government, shoring up the coalition and averting the need for elections.

The new alliance gives Netanyahu a wide 94-seat government in the 120-member parliament, one of the broadest coalitions in Israeli history. With Kadima's backing, Netanyahu can no longer be held hostage by smaller parties who had threatened to bring down the government over the issue.

Conscription in Israel is compulsory, with men over 18 serving three years in the military and women two. Those who cannot or do not want to serve can do community service in schools, hospitals and other public institutions.

At a news conference Tuesday, both Netanyahu and Mofaz said a resolution to the draft debate would be a main pillar of the new coalition's agenda. The Supreme Court declared the current system unconstitutional in February, and has ordered the government to come up with an alternative by July 31.

That will not be easy. Lingering rifts inside the government were evident on Wednesday, as ultra-Orthodox and secular coalition members sparred over the draft law.

Speaking to the Army Radio station, lawmaker Yitzhak Cohen of the religious Shas Party said "it's an illusion" to expect a court decision would force seminary students to serve in the military. Moshe Gafni, a leader in the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, warned of a brewing "cultural civil war."

But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the fiercely secular Yisrael Beitenu Party, said there could be no "foot dragging" on the matter. Lieberman's plan to push legislation ending the exemptions helped spark the coalition crisis that resulted in Tuesday's deal.

For now, both Yisrael Beitenu and the ultra-Orthodox factions - which each control about 15 seats in parliament - remain in the coalition, though it's possible some could defect as the government moves forward with new legislation over the summer.

An Israeli official said that Kadima will lead a committee to find a legally acceptable alternative to the outgoing system. The official said the government is committed to formulating a proposal by July 31. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal government deliberations.

The official said a final plan was unlikely to demand that all ultra-Orthodox men enter the military immediately after the deadline passes. Instead, he said the plan would be implemented "incrementally," and probably would include an option to perform civilian national service instead of joining the army.

Officials also have said they want to compel Israeli Arabs, most of whom do not serve in the army, to do national service in schools and hospitals in the comparatively poorer Arab sector.

The draft privileges for the religious date back six decades, when Israel's founders granted exemptions to 400 exemplary seminary students to help rebuild great schools of Jewish learning destroyed in the Holocaust. The numbers of exemptions have steadily ballooned over the years, and today, an estimated 60,000 religious men of military age are exempt from duty, which is otherwise compulsory.

The draft exemptions have become one of the most contentious issues in Israeli society, part of a broader struggle between the secular majority and an ultra-Orthodox minority over the nature of the country.

Many secular Israelis have grown increasingly hostile to what they see as religious coercion by the ultra-Orthodox, who are about a tenth of the population of nearly 8 million and have pushed for gender separation in public places like buses and sidewalks.

The pattern of dependency in the ultra-Orthodox sector, where grown men commonly spend their day in religious study while collecting welfare, has added to the resentment. Studies show almost half of ultra-Orthodox men do not work.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, among others, has warned that the community's high jobless rate is a threat to economic growth. Objections to the state subsidies given to the ultra-Orthodox helped fuel mass protests last summer against the government's economic policies.

The draft is just one of several contentious issues facing the new government. Another is the matter of Jewish settlements in territories Palestinians claim for their future state.

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to dismantle a pair of settlement outposts found to be built illegally in the West Bank. Hard-liners in the coalition oppose any move against the settlers, and still hope to thwart the planned demolitions by passing new legislation that would legalize the outposts.

Lieberman, a Jewish settler who is sympathetic to the outpost residents, called the issue a "test" for the government.

"I have no doubt the prime minister will do what all the elements of the coalition expect of him," he said.


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Column: Has commissioner's punishment on Saints' bounty program already exceeded the crime?

Roger Goodell better have the goods.

Somewhere in the 50,000 pages of documents related to the Saints bounty program better be some compelling evidence that it was much more organized and way more vicious than anything the NFL had ever seen. Otherwise, the punishment he's doled out already has exceeded the crime, and the commissioner's credibility on two of the signature issues of his tenure - player safety and the integrity of the games - will suffer a hit he can barely afford. Because if the players believe Goodell is more interested in burnishing his tough-guy reputation and insulating the league from further liability on safety concerns than he is in genuinely pursuing their best interests, look out. All the pushback from all the previous disciplinary cases combined will seem like a nudge.

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma filed an appeal Monday over his season-long suspension that repeated several points the players' union filed in grievances last week; most important, perhaps, that the NFL has failed to present evidence of widespread involvement in a cash-for-hits program designed to injure opposing players, including the allegation that Vilma was one of the ringleaders. Three teammates were also suspended for varying lengths of time: Saints defensive end Will Smith, for four games; DE Anthony Hargrove, now with Green Bay, for eight games; and linebacker Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, for three games. The NFLPA also informed the league it was reserving the right to appeal their cases after a jurisdictional issue is ironed out.

Fujita, who is also a member of the union's executive committee, emailed a statement to The Associated Press claiming, "I've yet to hear the specifics of any allegation against me, nor have I seen any evidence that supports what the NFL alleges. I look forward to the opportunity to confront what evidence they claim to have in the appropriate forum. I have never contributed money to any so-called `bounty' pool, and any statements to the contrary are false. To say I'm disappointed with the League would be a huge understatement."

The union made some of the same claims soon after Goodell announced the players' suspensions last week, with Vilma's lawyer, Peter Ginsberg, going so far as to call his client's one-year suspension "perhaps irrational."

The NFL fired back that it shared plenty of evidence in its voluminous file, and even brought in a former federal prosecutor last winter to oversee its handling of the case. Mary Jo White, who is now in private practice but previously was the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in response to union claims last week that the league repeatedly shared details of the investigation with the NFLPA.

But NFLPA outside counsel Richard Smith said, "It's important to note that nothing Mary Joe White said in her conference call was new or gave any evidence or insight. It was very, very improper for the league to hire a third party and then have a news conference to trumpet their findings."

"They did so instead of allowing the players' association and its lawyers to assess the evidence ourselves," Smith added. We have been asked to accept what is being claimed by the NFL without seeing any credible evidence of what they are claiming."

That's hard to imagine, considering the harsh penalties Goodell already imposed on the Saints hierarchy without so much as a peep of protest. He earlier suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for a year, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games, assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams - singled out as the architect of the bounty program - was suspended indefinitely.

The club also was fined $500,000 and docked two second-round draft choices this year and next.

In taking those actions, Goodell has argued he was acting to protect the players. But many of his critics noted that the commissioner's previous public support for an 18-game schedule undermines the very concept. And they worry if all the focus on the so-called illegal hits that result from bounty programs is designed to distract attention from the all-too-legal hits that are essential to the game - and the reason the league is facing dozens of lawsuits involving more than 1,500 former players contending it failed to address the dangers of head trauma for years.

Goodell understands no matter how he tackles those issues, he's walking a fine line.

"In my position, or any job like this, you have tough decisions to make," Goodell said recently. "I know I won't be able to please everyone ... that is not what I need to be concerned with. What is good for the game is what I need to be concerned with."


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Former Bahamas PM leads party back to power

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) -- Former Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie led the main opposition party to victory on Monday, ousting the ruling party in elections dominated by unhappiness over rising crime and joblessness.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who was seeking a second consecutive term, conceded defeat Monday night after exit polls projected a win for the opposition Progressive Liberal Party.

"The Progressive Liberal Party has won the election," Ingraham told supporters at party headquarters. "I want to publicly congratulate (Christie's) party."

Ingraham, who has served in parliament for 30 years, won his seat, but said he would retire anyway and return to private life.

The margin of victory for the Progressive Liberals in the parliamentary elections was not immediately clear. Official results were expected Tuesday.

Thousands of jubilant opposition supporters, many decked out in the party's color of yellow, massed in a park in the capital where he Christie was expected to speak.

Christie served as prime minister from 2002 to 2007. His Progressive Liberals and Ingraham's Free National Movement have dominated political life in the country since it won independence from Britain in 1973.

Ingraham, who had been in power since 2007 and previously led the islands from 1992 to 2002, said before the vote that times have been challenging for residents of the archipelago of 700 islands off Florida's east coast.

The unemployment rate has risen to nearly 15 percent in the country of about 350,000 people and foreclosures have increased. There were a record 127 murders last year, roughly 30 more than the previous year.

When Ingraham defeated Christie's party in 2007 elections, he seized on scandals involving Christie's Cabinet, including the resignation of the immigration minister over claims he fast-tracked the residency application of the late Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith.

During this year's campaign, Christie and his party colleagues asserted that Ingraham's administration had ignored social needs and the long-term growth of the islands' tourism dependent economy.

His party has vowed to safeguard the vital tourism sector, double the nation's investment in education and job training, reduce energy costs and effectively battle crime.

Christie, who was Ingraham's law partner early in their careers, has also said he supports oil exploration in its territorial waters. Ingraham said in April that he opposed oil drilling because a spill would pose a threat to the environment and the tourism and fishing industries. He later backtracked, saying he would consider it under certain conditions.

A new party, the Democratic National Alliance, also fielded candidates Monday in the 38 parliamentary districts but it appeared the party did not win a seat.


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Republican leaders sort of start to rally around Romney now that he is obvious nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican party leaders are starting to rally around Mitt Romney, but it's not exactly a stampede of support for the expected GOP presidential nominee.

With Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich out of the race, Romney is his party's pick to take on President Barack Obama this fall, barring a catastrophe. While Romney talks like the nominee, the former Massachusetts governor has work to do to round up enough convention delegates to make it official.

Romney has 856 delegates, according to The Associated Press count. That's 288 short of the 1,144 he needs to win the nomination. Romney could get about 100 delegates from Tuesday's primaries in North Carolina, Indiana and West Virginia, if he dominates the voting in all three states.

But unless he persuades a lot more Santorum and Gingrich delegates to switch allegiances, Romney might not clinch until the Texas primary May 29. On Sunday, Romney lost 11 delegates to Texas Rep. Ron Paul when Paul's supporters won control of the Maine GOP convention and elected Paul delegates to the party's national convention.

Romney is "the projected candidate," said Peggy Lambert, a member of the Republican National Committee from Tennessee who endorsed Romney last week. "Let's go ahead and get this thing over with. Let's get as many delegates as we can."

Santorum and Gingrich have said they will help Romney defeat Obama, but neither has released his delegates to vote for Romney at the national convention in August. Santorum has 257 delegates and Gingrich has 130. In interviews during the past week, many delegates said they were reluctant to back Romney without guidance from their former candidates.

Paul is the only other Republican still in the race, and he has 94 delegates.

Many committee members are getting behind Romney, though some are half-hearted about it. These party leaders - three from each state and U.S. territory - automatically attend the national convention and, in most states, can support any candidate they choose.

They will be asked to donate, volunteer and work for Republican candidates up and down the ticket, making their support for Romney an important barometer of enthusiasm and unity among GOP loyalists.

"I think the process has narrowed down and we've got a chance to hear all the candidates and all the debate," said Jonathan Barnett, an RNC member from Arkansas who serves in the state Legislature. "Really, he's pretty much the only one left standing. It's time to get on board."

Alabama GOP chairman Bill Armistead sounded more enthusiastic. He said he's recruiting volunteers to help Romney in Florida, where the race will be much closer than in Alabama.

"The No. 1 objective of the people I talk to is to defeat Barack Obama," Armistead said.

The RNC has 168 members. Some are required to support the candidate who wins the primary in their state. The AP has identified 120 who are free to support any candidate they choose, regardless of the primaries.

Romney has endorsements from 57 of them, according to the AP's latest survey, conducted in the past week after Gingrich's plans to leave the race became public. Paul has one endorsement, while 60 RNC members are holding off on endorsing anyone, even with the race essentially decided. (Two RNC spots won't be filled until June.)

Some RNC members say they have yet to endorse Romney because of local concerns.

Kentucky GOP chairman Steve Robertson said he isn't endorsing anyone out of deference to Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. In Oregon, Nebraska and New Mexico, RNC members say they won't endorse anyone before their states' primaries, which have yet to be held.

Back when the primary race was competitive, some RNC members questioned Romney's conservative credentials. In the latest survey, no RNC member was willing to say he or she had a problem with him.

But Richard Giessel, a Santorum delegate in Alaska, wasn't shy about his disdain for Romney, calling him "a big government guy."

"We've got too big a government now," said Giessel, who said he now plans to support Ron Paul.

Romney added 22 RNC endorsements since the last AP survey in early April, and he has support from every region of the country. None of Romney's rivals was able to gain much traction among the RNC delegates. Gingrich had four endorsements at one point, more than any of the others.

Drew Johnson, a Gingrich delegate from South Carolina, said he thinks the state's delegates will unite behind Romney. South Carolina, a solidly Republican state, was one of only two states Gingrich won in the primaries.

"Romney has my endorsement and he can count on South Carolina to be one of his biggest cheering sections at the national convention," said Johnson, who leads the Chester County Republicans. "My focus is crystal clear for the upcoming election. We will be making calls to any state it is needed and even send South Carolina activists to real swing states to defeat Obama."


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AT&T barges into home security and automation

NEW YORK (AP) -- AT&T Inc. will start selling home automation and security services nationwide, taking on incumbents led by Tyco International Ltd.'s ADT.

The installations and services will be sold in AT&T stores, starting with a trial this summer in Dallas and Atlanta.

Several of AT&T's competitors, including cable TV company Comcast Corp. and phone company Verizon Communications Inc., have ventured into the home automation and security field. Dallas-based AT&T is showing more ambition with its stated goal of selling nationwide, rather than sticking to its landline service territory, as Verizon does.

Steven Winoker, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said about 23 percent of U.S. homes have security systems, so there's plenty of room to grow. Even fewer have automation systems for controlling appliances, lights, heating and cooling.

The biggest player in the field is ADT, but it has only 25 percent of the market. Many smaller companies make up the rest, according to Winoker.

It's a very profitable business, Winoker said, but it's not big enough to significantly affect the earnings of a company of AT&T's size even if it's successful, given that it's a relatively small market.

AT&T's technology comes from Xanboo, a company it bought in late 2010. Its central control panel can connect wirelessly with cameras, thermostats, appliance controls, lights and sensors for doors, windows, smoke and carbon monoxide. Through the panel, home owners can then control their home from their cellphones.

It's highly recommended that the control panel is connected to wired broadband, but it doesn't have to be service through AT&T, said Glenn Lurie, AT&T's president of emerging devices. As a backup, the panel can connect to AT&T's wireless data network.

AT&T didn't say what its services would cost.

AT&T made its announcement on the eve of the U.S. cellphone industry's annual trade show, which starts Tuesday in New Orleans.


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Angry Greeks vote in key parliamentary election

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greeks hammered by two years of deep spending cuts voted Sunday in a parliamentary election critical to the country's prospects for pulling itself out of a deep financial crisis that has roiled global markets and threatened Greece's position in the eurozone.

The result is highly uncertain, with angry voters broadly expected to punish the two main parties that have dominated the country's political scene for decades. The last public opinion polls before a two-week ban went into effect showed both the conservative New Democracy and socialist PASOK parties hemorrhaging support to a constellation of smaller parties, several formed by rebellious deputies.

The election is unlikely to produce any clear winner, leaving the party with the most votes to seek coalition partners to form a government. Opinion polls ahead of the vote indicated the leading party would be New Democracy, headed by Antonis Samaras - who has insisted he will not enter into a coalition with his Socialist rivals and warned that a coalition government would require too much haggling to be effective.

The leading party will have three days to form a government, after which the mandate will go to the second party for a further three days, and then to the third party. If none can form a coalition government, the country will head to new elections - a prospect that worries Greece's international lenders. If, on the other hand, a government is formed, Parliament will convene on May 17.

Greece is heavily dependent on billions of euros worth of international rescue loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund, and it must impose yet more austerity measures next month to keep the bailout dollars flowing and prevent a default and a potentially disastrous exit from the group of nations who use the euro currency.

Thirty-two parties are vying for the support of nearly 10 million registered voters, many of whom were undecided on the eve of the election.

The level of voter turnout will be crucial to the final outcome. In the last national election, in October 2009, just over 70 percent of registered voters went to the polls, a low figure by historical standards.

Early indications showed that turnout could be larger this time. Voting is compulsory in Greece, but penalties for failing to vote are no longer enforced.

Public anger has been so high that politicians have been forced to maintain low-profile campaigns for fear of physical attacks on the streets in a country battered by business closures and hundreds of thousands of job losses.

Socialist leader and former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who helped negotiate Greece's bailout and a massive bond swap to reduce national debt, was heckled on his way to a polling station in northern Greece by residents in nearby apartment buildings. Some shouted slogans such as "Thieves Out!"

After voting, Venizelos said the election is the most important development in Greece since 1974, when the nation emerged from a seven-year military dictatorship.

New Democracy's Samaras also emphasized what was at stake.

"The Greek people vote today for the future of their children. ... They vote for stability, growth, security and justice," Samaras said after casting his ballot.

PASOK - which stormed to victory in the last parliamentary election in 2009 with 43.92 percent and George Papandreou at its helm - has seen its support collapse over the past two years.

Headed by Venizelos since March, it is fighting off a strong challenge by anti-bailout left-wing parties, with opinion polls projecting PASOK to win between 14.5 and 19 percent. If that happens, it would be the lowest since November 1974, when the party won 13.5 percent just two months after being founded.

"Today, after two and a half years of barbarism, democracy at last returns to its birthplace," said Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, an amalgam of former Communist Party members that is predicted to make strong gains.

Repeated rounds of tax increases and reductions of salaries and pensions over the past two years have seen the country mired in a fifth year of recession and unemployment spiral to above 21 percent. The backlash has seen voters turn to smaller groups and mostly anti-bailout offshoots.

Up to an unprecedented 10 parties have been projected to win more than the 3 percent minimum threshold for a parliamentary seat. That includes the extreme right Golden Dawn, which has been riding high on the emotive issue of illegal immigration, promising to clean up crime-ridden, ghetto-like city neighborhoods and mine the country's borders to stop more migrants from getting in.

"People are not choosing smaller parties because they believe in their agendas," political communications expert Spiros Rizopoulos said. "I doubt if anyone has ever read an agenda of a smaller party. It's because they want to protest a decision that has been made" that led Greece into the bailouts and the ensuing austerity.

For the past six months, New Democracy and PASOK have been uneasy bedfellows in a coalition government cobbled together under technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos. The former European Central Bank deputy head was appointed after Papandreou was forced to resign following a sudden decision to put the country's second bailout to a referendum.

The coalition, which initially also included a small right-wing party, was formed with the sole mandate of securing the country's second bailout and the bond swap deal with private creditors.


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Virginia hottest new battleground in presidential contest

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) -- Move over Ohio and Florida. Virginia is becoming the hottest new battleground in this year's race for the White House.

Shifting demographics have President Barack Obama fighting for another win in this Southern state four years after he became the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry Virginia in more than four decades. Republican rival Mitt Romney is banking on buyers' remorse as he works to prove that Obama's unlikely 2008 victory was a fluke.

Six months before Election Day, both sides concede that Virginia is truly up for grabs. And the outcome here could have dramatic consequences - for Romney especially.

"This may well be the state that decides who the next president is," Romney told supporters Thursday in coastal Portsmouth, Va. "You're going to hear it all, right here in Virginia."

Already, Romney allies and Obama's campaign are pouring money into television ads. And, by week's end, each candidate will have visited the state.

Romney spent two days campaigning here this week, his first Virginia trip since becoming his party's presumptive presidential nominee. Obama will be in the state on Friday and Saturday -what his aides are calling his first formal day of campaigning - before traveling to Ohio.

Four years ago, Obama executed a winning strategy by registering and turning out scores of minorities and young voters who long had sat on the political sidelines.

This year, Virginia - perhaps more so than any other state - will test whether he can cobble together a similar winning coalition amidst shifting demographics and despite a challenging economic environment.

Virginia has swung dramatically right in the years since the Democratic president took office - so much so, that Romney aides suggest that the state has become a linchpin in their national path to victory.

"It's an important key in the overall map," Romney's political director, Rich Beeson, said.

Republican insiders go further, saying that it's hard to see Romney reaching the 270 electoral votes needed without the 13 that Virginia provides.

Indeed, an Obama win here could prove devastating for Romney, whose team understands the challenge of unseating a sitting president who has tremendous financial and organizational advantages. Already, Obama has established a comprehensive ground game in Virginia, with more than 13 offices spread across the state. Romney, who spent most of the year consumed by a bitter and expensive Republican primary, has yet to open one.

Beeson said Thursday that the Romney campaign would be "up and running" in Virginia in the "next week or two."

The Obama campaign argues that the stakes are higher here for Romney.

"We can win without Virginia, but we don't think we need to," said Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. "The truth is we have several pathways to get to 270 electoral votes."

Virginia's prominent role in the 2012 presidential election follows a decade of political and demographic changes that make this fall's outcome difficult to predict.

Although Democrats had not aggressively competed in a Virginia presidential contest for a generation, Obama carried the state by 6 percentage points over Republican John McCain in 2008, based on an outpouring of the state's high African American vote and heavy turnout in the metropolitan Washington area. Before Obama, no Democrat had won Virginia since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

Republican George W. Bush had carried it easily, by 8 percentage points, in 2000 and 2004.

"Over the last 10 years, there has been a progression. It has gone from solidly red to trending blue to settling right in the middle. It's about the most-purple shade of purple you can find," said Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee.

Virginia has a high black-voter base. But the state is also home to a growing number of younger, well-educated voters flocking to northern Virginia, the region where Obama is credited with winning the state - and that makes it competitive again in 2012.

Obama carried the metropolitan Washington area of northern Virginia by 260,000 votes, about the same margin as he carried the entire state. Obama is hoping again to turn out big numbers in burgeoning suburbs such as Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, to offset the rising GOP tide elsewhere, where Romney is hoping he will prevail.

The political battle has already begun on the state's airwaves.

While Romney has yet to buy any ads directly, the pro-Romney group, Restore Our Future, has spent $354,000 in Virginia on a television advertising campaign that began running statewide Thursday. The ad highlights Romney's role in helping to find his business partner's lost daughter.

The Obama campaign spent $270,000 for a new ad - its third so far in Virginia - that began running statewide this week and accuses Romney of sending jobs overseas during his business career, reminding voters that the former Massachusetts governor had a Swiss bank account.

Virginia-based Republican strategist Chris LaCivita suggests that Obama is likely worried about his chances in Virginia if he's already using attack ads. But like others here, he says it's too early to make any predictions.

"To assume Virginia is going to go Republican is a dangerous thing to do," he said.

Women's issues, especially the recent debate over birth-control coverage by health insurance, play a disproportionate role in the northern part of the state, with its bustling suburbs. The rural economy, social issues and military policy are a problem for Obama in the more traditionally conservative parts of Virginia, such as the southeast, in places like Hampton Roads, where Romney campaigned this week.

Obama's team says it expects disproportionate turnout among the state's black voters. However, neither campaign is expecting the same record turnout that helped elect Obama the nation's first African American president.

Romney is banking on Virginia's recent Republican momentum to continue.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has endorsed Romney, won election in 2009. The following year, Virginia Republicans made gains in the U.S. House, and last year in the state legislature.

Romney aides are bracing for resistance in crucial northern Virginia to the candidate's proposed 10-percent cut in the federal workforce. Virginia, and especially northern Virginia, is home to the nation's highest concentration of federal workers.

Romney senior adviser Ed Gillespie, a former Virginia GOP chairman, joined Romney Thursday as he campaigned in Portsmouth, a port town with a significant industrial base and a large military presence. "This is going to be a hard-fought state," Gillespie said, dismissing polls that show Obama slightly ahead of his Republican challenger.

New polling, however, suggests that Obama is ahead of Romney. The Washington Post released results Thursday giving Obama a 7-point lead, 51 percent to 44 percent, among registered voters.

The winner in Virginia, however, could win a much larger prize.

"If Obama wins Virginia, I think he wins the election," said Elleithee, the Democratic strategist.

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Kim Kardashian wants divorce to move forward

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kim Kardashian's attorney told a judge Friday that the reality star wants her divorce from Kris Humphries to move forward but that the case has been slowed by the NBA player's hurt feelings and his desire for an annulment.

Humphries' attorneys said they needed more time to gather information to decide whether to pursue allegations that the couple's 72-day marriage was a fraud. Proving the allegations would likely require a trial, which Kardashian's attorney Laura Wasser said could prove costly to her estranged husband.

The couple was married last summer in a lavish, star-studded and televised ceremony, but Kardashian filed for divorce on Oct. 31. Humphries responded a month later asking for an annulment, claiming the couple's nuptials were based on a fraud, but not laying out specific evidence.

"I feel that (Humphries') personal feelings and maybe some media drive is keeping this case alive," Wasser said. She said the couple is eligible for a divorce since it has been more than six months since Kardashian filed her petition.

"Certainly, they've been separated longer than they've been married," Wasser said.

She said if the case goes to trial and Kardashian wins, she will ask that Humphries pay her hefty legal fees. Currently, Kardashian wants each side to pay their own fees.

The comments came during a routine hearing Friday in which a judge allowed Humphries' Minnesota attorney, Lee Hutton, to take part in the case.

Humphries' Los Angeles-based attorney Marshall Waller said they had to wait for the motion to be approved but that he expects to seek key information and the depositions of essential witnesses in the next few weeks.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Moloney told both sides to return to court on Aug. 15 for a status hearing.

Neither Kardashian nor Humphries attended Friday's proceedings.

Kardashian is the star of the E! Entertainment Television series "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," which was E! Entertainment Television's top-rated show, averaging more than three million viewers in its sixth season.

Humphries, a power forward who has played with the New Jersey Nets, is an unrestricted free agent.


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