National

Kansas tea party illustration of Obama draws racism claims

Hutchinson ? A tea party group in Kansas says its depiction of President Barack Obama as a skunk is satire, not racism as the leader of a civil rights group alleges.Hutchinson-based Patriot Freedom Alliance says on its website that like the president, the skunk is "half black, half white, and ...

State, local policies emerge on illegal aliens

Montpelier, Vt. ? The two Mexican farmworkers were nervous. Seated in a pickup truck whose driver had been stopped for speeding on a Vermont highway, they didn’t know what to expect from the state trooper.They’d heard of other farmworkers being detained or deported in the largely white ...

Trailing rivals question Gingrich, Romney

Washington ? Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich’s trailing rivals derided the leading presidential contenders on Sunday as insufficiently conservative, each trying to find a second wind in the race to become the Republican nominee with time running out before voting begins.Rep. Michele Bachmann of ...

Iraq War’s end leaves issues unresolved

Baghdad ? In the beginning, it all looked simple: topple Saddam Hussein, destroy his purported weapons of mass destruction and lay the foundation for a pro-Western government in the heart of the Arab world.Nearly 4,500 American and more than 100,000 Iraqi lives later, the objective now is ...

Free media coverage both blessing, curse

New York ? From late-night comedy shows to cable news interviews, free media exposure has proved influential in defining the Republican presidential candidates and setting the dynamics of the primary race, especially for lower-tier hopefuls lacking cash for TV ads.The turn toward free media, ...

Public retirement ages, benefits come under greater scrutiny

Columbus, Ohio ? After nearly 40 years in public education, Patrick Godwin spends his retirement days running a horse farm east of Sacramento, Calif., with his daughter.His departure from the workaday world is likely to be long and relatively free of financial concerns, after he retired last ...

‘Nutcracker’ beaming live to theaters

New York ? For so many American kids, it’s their first — and sometimes only — exposure to ballet: A holiday performance of “The Nutcracker,” that classic tale of a little girl’s dreamlike encounters with battling mice and toy soldiers, a dashing prince, a growing Christmas tree and ...

Senators: Bill would encourage startups

Washington ? Debate over how to create jobs has, unsurprisingly, become mired in the politics of 2012. But two lawmakers on Thursday offered what they say is a bipartisan solution.Backed by data showing that most jobs are created by new businesses, Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Mark Warner, ...

NTSB: Vegas chopper had engine work before crash that killed two Kansans

HENDERSON, NEV. ? A federal crash investigator said Friday that a Las Vegas tour helicopter that crashed, killing all five people aboard, made a sudden climb and sharp turns moments before plunging into a canyon near Lake Mead.National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said he ...

NTSB: Vegas chopper had engine work before crash that killed 2 Kansans

HENDERSON, NEV. ? A federal crash investigator said Friday that a Las Vegas tour helicopter that crashed, killing all five people aboard, made a sudden climb and sharp turns moments before plunging into a canyon near Lake Mead.National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said he ...

Pakistan blockades forcing costly new routes

Washington ? The chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff says the U.S. is trying to be patient with Pakistan, which has closed critical supply routes in protest over a U.S. airstrike two weeks ago that killed 24 Pakistani troops.But Gen. Martin Dempsey says transporting fuel and other ...

AP sources: Obama makes push to change terror detention bill

Washington ? President Barack Obama and his national security team are appealing to lawmakers for last-minute changes to a sweeping defense bill that mandates military custody for terrorism suspects linked to al-Qaida, including those captured within the U.S.The legislation is caught in an ...

State police: Va. Tech gunman acted alone

Blacksburg, Va. ? Investigators believe the gunman who killed a Virginia Tech policeman acted alone and that he changed clothes after fleeing the scene, then killed himself with his handgun when another officer spotted him, state police said Friday.Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said ...

Accuser raises questions about Sandusky’s wife

State College, Pa. ? Grand jury reports alleging child sex abuse by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky are also raising questions about whether his wife knew about his alleged pattern of preying on boys — or how she couldn't have known.One accuser told the grand jury ...

Original Hooters in Florida gets a facelift

Clearwater, Fla. ? The original Hooters was a ramshackle, dove-gray, two-story building perched on a stretch of road between Tampa and Clearwater Beach.Similar to the chain's slogan, it was unrefined, tacky, yet delightful — and it launched a wildly popular restaurant chain that now boasts ...

House GOP unveils fix to looming Medicare cuts

Washington ? House Republicans are proposing to stave off a steep cut in Medicare payments to doctors looming on Jan. 1.The plan by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan would replace a cut of more than 27 percent with 1 percent increases for 2012 and 2013. That would give Congress time ...

Va. Tech gunman kills officer, then found dead

Blacksburg, Va. ? A gunman killed a police officer in a Virginia Tech parking lot Thursday and then apparently shot himself to death nearby in a baffling attack that shook up the campus nearly five years after it was the scene of the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.The ...

Virginia Tech: Police officer, 1 other killed

Blacksburg, Va. ? A gunman walked into a parking lot and killed a Virginia Tech police officer who was conducting a traffic stop on campus Thursday, state police said.Sgt. Robert Carpentieri said it appeared that the shooter was not in the car that had been pulled over. The sergeant said ...

Obama on appeasement charge: “Ask bin Laden”

Washington ? President Barack Obama is firmly rejecting Republican accusations that he has engaged in an 'appeasement' foreign policy. He says: "Ask Osama bin Laden."Republican presidential candidates have been critical of Obama's foreign policy, especially in the Middle East. Former Sen. Rick ...

Sebelius halts plans to put morning after pill on shelves

Washington ? It's the morning after and the controversy over how to sell emergency contraception still looms.The Obama administration's top health official stopped plans Wednesday to let the Plan B morning-after pill move onto drugstore shelves next to the condoms.Overruling scientists at the ...