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World briefly on Aug. 29

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POSTED: August 29, 2012 7:57 a.m.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Hurricane Isaac was beginning to move inland in southeast Louisiana before dawn Wednesday on a slow, drenching slog toward New Orleans seven years to the day after the much stronger Katrina hit the city.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Isaac remained a Category 1 storm with top sustained winds of 80 miles per hour but was expected to weaken over the next 48 hours as it heads north over land. Isaac's center was forecast to pass over Louisiana for two days and head into southern Arkansas early Friday.

Isaac's winds and sheets of rain were whipping through nearly empty streets in New Orleans while in neighboring Mississippi the storm pushed Gulf water over sections of the main beachfront highway that runs the length of the state's shore.

Ryan Bernie, a spokesman for the city of New Orleans, said the storm had caused only some minor street flooding before dawn and felled trees but had left roughly 125,000 customers in the city without power.

In Mississippi, the main beachfront highway, U.S. 90, was closed in sections by storm surge flooding. At one spot in Biloxi, a foot of water covered the in-town highway for a couple of blocks and it looked like more was coming in. High tide around 9:30 a.m. was likely to bring up more water.

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Republicans in full roar, mocking Obama, cheering their man, in long-sought show of unity

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Republican National Convention is finally in full-throated roar, cheering presidential nominee Mitt Romney's name at every turn in a long-sought show of unity and mocking the man he is out to defeat in November.

A soft-sided portrayal of the Republican candidate as husband and father, painted by his wife on the stage in a direct appeal to women, combined with a parade of gleeful Obama-bashers Tuesday as the GOP seized its moment after days of worry about the hurricane that simultaneously roared ashore in Louisiana — well out of sight of the gathering, and mostly out of mind for the night.

The convention's keynote speaker, the unpredictable New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, issued a broad indictment of Democrats as "disciples of yesterday's politics" who "whistle a happy tune" while taking the country off a fiscal cliff.

"It's time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House," he said. "Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to put us back on the path to growth and create good-paying private-sector jobs again in America."

Romney made his debut at the convention two days before his own speech, rousing the crowd into cheers as he took the stage briefly to share a kiss with his wife after she spoke. Ann Romney's prime-time speech was in large measure an outreach to female voters as she declared her husband "will not let us down" if elected president.

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Ryan to use VP speech to introduce himself as man with immigrant roots, small-town values

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Paul Ryan wants to talk policy. Mitt Romney's team wants his No. 2 to focus more on his immigrant family and small-town values.

The top of the ticket is certain to win out as the Wisconsin congressman accepts the vice presidential nomination of his party Wednesday night. Ryan will deliver a speech to thousands of delegates at the Republican convention, and millions of viewers watching from home, that will be unlike most Ryan tends to favor. This one is likely to be heavy on personality and lighter on policy.

Ryan's willingness to focus on his personal story and play down policy is the latest example that of him deferring to Romney's preferences. As Ryan puts it, Romney is "the boss." Not the other way around.

Ryan and his team, a mix of longtime aides and new advisers, have spent a chunk of the past few weeks writing — and re-writing — the speech. Drafts have been emailed from his campaign plane and his kitchen table in Janesville, Wis., to speechwriters in Tampa and top Romney advisers at the Boston headquarters.

"Words matter a lot and I'm putting a lot of effort into them," said Ryan, a former speechwriter to 1996 vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp and former Education Secretary William Bennett.

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SEAL book depicts Osama bin Laden shot on sight in hallway, contradicting original account

WASHINGTON (AP) — A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him.

Bin Laden apparently was hit in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his compound as SEALs rushed up a narrow stairwell in his direction, according to former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen in "No Easy Day." The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)'s Dutton imprint.

Bissonnette says he was directly behind a "point man" going up the stairs. "Less than five steps" from top of the stairs, he heard "suppressed" gunfire: "BOP. BOP." The point man had seen a "man peeking out of the door" on the right side of the hallway.

The author writes that bin Laden ducked back into his bedroom and the SEALs followed, only to find the terrorist crumpled on the floor in a pool of blood with a hole visible on the right side of his head and two women wailing over his body.

Bissonnette says the point man pulled the two women out of the way and shoved them into a corner and he and the other SEALs trained their guns' laser sites on bin Laden's still-twitching body, shooting him several times until he lay motionless. The SEALs later found two weapons stored by the doorway, untouched, the author said.

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CONVENTION WATCH: Mitt and Ann kiss, praising women, they built it

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Around the 2012 Republican National Convention and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details to you:

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THERE HE IS

The song playing was "My Girl" by The Temptations as Mitt Romney made his first appearance at the Republican National Convention to congratulate his wife, Ann, after her speech Tuesday night.

They kissed. He grinned. She grinned. The crowd roared. The whole thing lasted less than 30 seconds. And the newly minted GOP presidential nominee was gone — at least for the moment.

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WATCHING THE SHOW: Authenticity is essential in politics — but what, exactly, is it anyway?

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Presidential candidates are like a good Bordeaux, says Samuel Popkin, who has studied them (the candidates, that is). Winemakers use every cutting-edge scientific technique to perfect wines for modern palates. Then they sell them as the authentic product of age-old values and unchanging practice.

So, too, for modern candidates. Authenticity is essential. Once you can package that, the rest is easy.

"How can a candidate exemplify authenticity and sincerity when they constantly confer with pollsters, writers and media experts to 'decide' what they truly mean?" asks Popkin, an adviser to several Democratic presidential candidates and a professor of Political Science at the University of California in San Diego.

Nowhere during a campaign does this dilemma come across more directly than political conventions, where supporters, family and finally the candidate himself speak "from the heart" while following a carefully managed script on a heavily produced stage to one of the largest audiences they will ever have.

In an age of something called reality TV — of a public that demands to be brought inside to see the unscripted choice of dancing stars and American idols — how can a political leader communicate authenticity when the very act of communicating requires authenticity-crushing packaging?

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1st trial set to begin in alleged repeated sexual assault of 11-year-old Texas girl in 2010

LIBERTY, Texas (AP) — The case shocked and divided the small Southeast Texas town where authorities allege an 11-year-old girl was repeatedly sexually assaulted over a period of months in 2010 by a group of 20 males.

Now the first trial stemming from the case is set to be heard by a jury.

Opening statements in the trial of Eric McGowen were scheduled for Wednesday in Liberty.

McGowen is among 14 adults charged in the case. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Prosecutors and McGowen's defense attorney have declined to comment because of a gag order in the case.

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DNA advances help identify dead buried in NYC potter's field; 54 bodies exhumed

NEW YORK (AP) — On a wind-swept island off New York City, the remains of 850,000 people rest in pine boxes in a grid of covered trenches — but many are not resting in peace.

They are the unidentified or unclaimed dead who have been found around the nation's largest city — often with little hope of a loved one ever knowing their fate. Now, with advances in DNA technology and anthropology and with new federal funding, the city medical examiner's office has exhumed dozens of the bodies in a new push to identify several decades' worth.

It's how Ben Maurer's family finally learned that the 17-year-old had jumped to his death from a Manhattan building on June 25, 2002.

His mother, Germaine, submitted his DNA to the medical examiner in 2009, when the first phase of the project began. The DNA was entered into a public database containing information on thousands of cases of missing and unidentified people — and matched a John Doe buried in the potter's field on 101-acre Hart Island on Long Island Sound.

He was given a proper funeral near the family's home in Piscataway, N.J., shortly after his remains were returned to them in 2009.

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Texas voting maps drawn by GOP lawmakers rejected by federal court as discriminatory

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Stadiums and hospitals removed from the districts of black congressional members and country clubs newly drawn into those of white incumbents. A lawyer emailing "No bueno" to a Republican staffer about plans that risked leaving a paper trail and jeopardizing the legality of a voting map.

Those were among the evidence a Washington federal court used to determine that Texas Republican lawmakers discriminated against minorities while drawing new political boundaries, throwing out the maps as violations of the Voting Rights Act but likely not in time to affect the November elections.

The decision Tuesday by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is instead likely to reverberate in 2014, when some Texans could find their congressional and statehouse districts changed for the third time in five years.

The long-awaited ruling was hailed as a sweeping victory by minority rights groups that sued the state after the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed through new redistricting maps last year. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott called the decision "flawed" and vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Better late than never," said Luis Vera, attorney for the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the groups that sued the state. "It's a hell of a victory."

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Artists use old prosthetic limbs to create pieces of art just as Paralympics opens in London

LONDON (AP) — Prosthetics can change the life of an amputee. But when an old limb no longer fits or just gets worn out, it can be hard to part ways with an item that offered the liberating chance to jump, dance or simply walk.

Priscilla Sutton has a solution: turn these "pre-loved" limbs into artwork. The Australian curator came up with "Spare Parts London," an exhibition of altered prosthetics that has opened in time for the Paralympics, which start Wednesday.

"I was cleaning my home and I found two old legs in my cupboard," said Sutton, a below-the-knee amputee. "I thought it was a bit crazy to keep hoarding my legs."

The exhibition, which includes works by artists from Britain, Australia, the United States and Japan, comes as people are paying new attention to the devices.

Public awareness of prosthetics has been heightened by the popularity of double amputee Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius, the South African known as the "Blade Runner." The exhibition will showcase the "Cheetah" — the carbon fiber running leg Pistorius uses that has a flex foot designed to replicate the hind leg of the fastest animal on land.

 

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