France elects Socialist Hollande as new leader, Europe faces new direction
PARIS — France handed the presidency Sunday to leftist Francois Hollande, a champion of government stimulus programs who says the state should protect the downtrodden — a victory that could deal a death blow to the drive for austerity that has been the hallmark of Europe in recent years.
Mild and affable, the president-elect inherits a country deep in debt and divided over how to integrate immigrants while preserving its national identity. Markets will closely watch his initial moves as president.
He narrowly defeated the hard-driving, attention-getting Nicolas Sarkozy, an America-friendly leader who led the country through its worst economic troubles since World War II but whose policies and personality proved too bitter for many voters to swallow.
"Austerity can no longer be inevitable!" Hollande declared in his victory speech after a surprising campaign that saw him transform from an unremarkable figure to an increasingly statesmanlike one. He will take office no later than May 16.
Speaking to exuberant crowds, Hollande portrayed himself as a vehicle for change across Europe.
Republican leaders start to rally around Romney now that he is obvious nominee
WASHINGTON — Republican 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."
Romney, Obama sling similar insults at each other to see what sticks; voters to have final say
WASHINGTON — He's a smug, Harvard-trained elitist who doesn't get how regular Americans are struggling these days. More extreme than he lets on, he's keeping his true agenda hidden until after Election Day. He's clueless about fixing the economy, over his head on foreign policy. Who is he?
Your answer will help decide the next president.
Is it Barack Obama, as seen by Mitt Romney? Or Romney, the way Obama depicts him? For all their liberal versus conservative differences, when the two presidential contenders describe each other, they sound like they're ragging on the same flawed guy. Or mirror images of that guy.
Will voters prefer the man waving with his left hand or his right?
Blame it on two cautious candidates with more traits in common than their disparate early biographies would suggest.
Both sides in Sept. 11 case at Guantanamo predict long legal battle
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The U.S. has finally started the prosecution of five Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, but the trial won't be starting anytime soon, and both sides said Sunday that the case could continue for years.
Defense lawyer James Connell said a tentative trial date of May 2013 is a "placeholder" until a true date can be set for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the attacks, and his co-defendants.
"It's going to take time," said the chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, who said he expects to battle a barrage of defense motions before the case goes to trial.
"I am getting ready for hundreds of motions because we want them to shoot everything they can shoot at us," he said.
Saturday's arraignment lasted 13 hours, including meal and prayer breaks, as the accused appeared to make a concerted effort to stall the initial hearing, which didn't end until almost 11 p.m.
Wife in Texas saw bullet hole in wall after soldier in Afghanistan collapsed during Skype talk
DALLAS — An Army nurse showed no alarm or discomfort before suddenly collapsing during a Skype video chat with his wife, who saw a bullet hole in a closet behind him, his family said Sunday.
Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark's family released a statement describing what his wife saw in the video feed recording her husband's death in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan.
"Clark was suddenly knocked forward," the statement said. "The closet behind him had a bullet hole in it. The other individuals, including a member of the military, who rushed to the home of CPT Clark's wife also saw the hole and agreed it was a bullet hole."
The statement says the Skype link remained open for two hours on April 30 as family and friends in the U.S. and Afghanistan tried to get Clark help.
"After two hours and many frantic phone calls by Mrs. Clark, two military personnel arrived in the room and appeared to check his pulse, but provided no details about his condition to his wife," the statement said.
Biden says he's 'absolutely comfortable' with married gay couples receiving equal civil rights
WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden says he's "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples who marry getting the same civil rights and liberties as heterosexual couples, a stand that gay rights advocates interpreted as an endorsement of same-sex marriage.
But the White House and President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, eager to avoid a debate on a hot-button social issue in an election year, insisted that Biden was not breaking ranks with Obama, who does not publicly support gay marriage.
Biden told NBC's "Meet the Press" that marriage should be about being loyal to someone you love, whether that marriage is between a man and a woman, two men or two women. "I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties," Biden said in the interview broadcast Sunday.
Gay rights advocates said Biden's comments signaled unmistakable support for gay marriage, which they said made him the highest-ranking member in the Obama administration to take that position.
"I'm grateful that the vice president of the United States is now publicly supporting marriage equality and I hope very soon the president and the rest of our leaders, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, will fall in line with the vice president," said Chad Griffin, a gay rights supporter and a member of the Obama campaign's national finance committee.
US airstrike kills senior al-Qaida militant wanted in 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen
SANAA, Yemen — An airstrike Sunday killed a top al-Qaida leader on the FBI's most wanted list for his role in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole warship, Yemeni officials said. The drone attack was carried out by the CIA, U.S. officials said.
Fahd al-Quso was hit by a missile as he stepped out of his vehicle, along with another al-Qaida operative in the southern Shabwa province, Yemeni military officials said. They were speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance with military regulations.
The drone strike that killed Quso was carried out by the CIA, after an extended surveillance operation by the CIA and U.S. military, two U.S. officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The strike was authorized by the Yemeni government, which then made the announcement after the operation was complete, the officials said, part of the U.S. strategy to give the host government more public ownership of the operation being carried out on Yemeni soil.
The airstrike came as the U.S. and Yemen cooperate in a battle against al-Qaida in southern Yemen.
George Lindsey, actor known as Goober Pyle on 'The Andy Griffith Show,' dies in Tennessee
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — George Lindsey, who made a TV career as a grinning service station attendant named Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Hee Haw," has died. He was 83.
The Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home in Nashville said Lindsay died early Sunday morning after a brief illness.
Lindsey was the beanie-wearing Goober on "The Andy Griffith Show" from 1964 to 1968 and its successor, "Mayberry RFD," from 1968 to 1971. He played the same jovial character on "Hee Haw" from 1971 until it went out of production in 1993.
"America has grown up with me," Lindsey said in an Associated Press interview in 1985. "Goober is every man; everyone finds something to like about ol' Goober."
He joined "The Andy Griffith Show" in 1964 when Jim Nabors, portraying Gomer Pyle, left the program. Goober Pyle, who had been mentioned on the show as Gomer's cousin, replaced him.
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