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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pres. Obama Tours Ravaged Areas of South Jersey With Gov. Christie

Pres. Obama Tours Ravaged Areas of South Jersey With Gov. Christie















BRIGANTINE, N.J. (CBS/AP) — President Barack Obama, swooping in for a somber look at Sandy’s storm-whipped destruction, pledged to the hurting people of New Jersey and beyond on Wednesday that “we are here for you and we will not forget.”

Not forgotten, either, were the unspoken political implications of Obama’s tour just six days from the election.

Commanding the federal response to the disaster, Obama spent a day doling out hugs, handshakes and promises of military might to help. And he soaked in the praise of one of Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s top surrogates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

San Francisco goes orange, black for Giants parade

San Francisco goes orange, black for Giants parade 

AP Photo
San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy holds the World Series trophy as confetti falls during the baseball team's World Series victory parade, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Ecstatic baseball fans crammed the streets of San Francisco on Wednesday for a confetti-drenched parade and rally honoring the World Series champion Giants - a Halloween treat made even sweeter as a repeat performance from 2010.

Tens of thousands of people decked out in the team's holiday-appropriate orange and black stood 30 deep behind barriers, climbed trees, camped out overnight and mounted rooftops for a chance to see their favorite players wave from convertibles and get serenaded by Tony Bennett singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

Giants Manager Bruce Bochy, who hoisted the World Series trophy from the back of a gold Rolls Royce during most of the 1 1/2-mile procession, credited fans and his players' "unselfish play" for helping to lift San Francisco to its second World Series victory in three years, an improbable double play for a franchise that had not won the title since 1954.

"In 2010, we characterized the club as misfits that came together and got it done," Bochy told the roaring hordes gathered for the rally in Civic Center Plaza. He said the tagline of the 2012 Giants was "never say die," a reference to the team's come-from-behind, post-season dominance.

"I thank you for always being there, for never giving up," he said. "Thank you for showing up wherever we've been and making this one of the greatest moments of my life."

As with the 2010 parade, this year's two-hour edition drew a cross-section of the region's diversity. Children who were allowed to skip school squeezed cap-to-glove alongside older couples who had been Giants fans since the team arrived in San Francisco from New York in 1958.

Series MVP Pablo Sandoval, who swatted three home runs in his first three at bats in Game 1, and second baseman Marco Scutaro, who batted in the winning run of the game that clinched the title, addressed the throngs at the rally in Spanish.

"This is the second, but there are going to be a lot more," Sandoval said, expressing special thanks to the Bay Area's Latino community. "You should enjoy this and feel this in your hearts."

Casandra Buenrostro, 25, who arrived at the plaza at 5 a.m. so she could get pictures of Sandoval, did.
"He made me cry," Buenrostro said. "He's an inspiration."

Earlier in the day, clouds of black, orange and white confetti were shot from cannons positioned on roofs and along the canyon-like, skyscraper-lined street. Spectators and parade participants, who included legendary Giants alumni Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal and politicians such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, reveled in the showers.

The unifying energy of the Giants' latest victory was evident as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith drove the car carrying Giants pitcher Matt Cain and his family, while 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did the honors for first baseman Brandon Belt.

The convertibles gave fans clean views along the parade route that began at the foot of Market Street near San Francisco Bay and ended on the steps of City Hall, across from the overflowing plaza.

"Since I was a kid, I wanted to play on the Giants and win a World Series. So it's fun to be here," said shortstop Brandon Crawford, who grew up in the Bay Area.

Star reliever Sergio Romo, wearing a T-shirt that read, "I just look illegal," whipped the roaring crowd into a frenzy when he got out of his convertible and mingled.

"It's unbelievable! Unbelievable! Just great!" said fired-up right fielder Hunter Pence, who was acquired in a midseason deal and led pregame pep talks. At the rally, Pence persuaded his teammates to jump around the stage to demonstrate the ritual he called the "slow-clap."

"I loved it when they started acting goofy," said Janet Clark, 55. "That's exactly who the Giants are."

With the victory parade coinciding with Halloween, costumed masses brought an even more festive feel to what city officials hoped would be a family friendly, alcohol-free event.

Philip and Alyssa Lozano got up in Sacramento at 3:30 so they and their son could catch a ferry in time to witness the whole spectacle. Nine-year-old Christian Lozano was dressed up for Halloween as, what else, a panda, in tribute to Sandoval, whose nickname is the "Panda."

"We've been representing the Giants for a while and couldn't make it to the parade in 2010," Philip Lozano said.

San Francisco police spokesman Michael Andraychak said a handful of people were arrested for public intoxication and officers issued a few citations for fighting, but the crowds generally were cooperative.

Some fans carried brooms as a reminder of the Giants' four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Later, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee handed Giants President Larry Baer a ceremonial metal "broom to the city" along with the customary key.

Alex Warlen and Kelly Simms, both 17, were among the hundreds of people who camped out overnight in the plaza to ensure they had prime viewing spots. Warlen is a pitcher and Simms a catcher for the softball team at San Francisco's Mercy High School. The team is co-champion of its division.

"Buster is the reason I'm a catcher," read a sign Simms carried, referring to the Giants' Buster Posey. The high school seniors said Mercy administrators gave students the day off, so they weren't cutting school.
"We would have skipped anyway," Simms said.


Another Superstorm casualty: Trick-or-treating

Another Superstorm casualty: Trick-or-treating 

AP Photo
FILE - This Nov. 1, 2011 file photo shows a group of friends dressed as Sesame Street characters after attending the Village Halloween Parade in New York. From the wrath of nature to the wrath of young children: From Maryland to Kentucky to Maine, Halloween festivities were being canceled or postponed. The most high-profile postponement was that of New York's huge parade in Greenwich Village, with its outlandish floats and millions of revelers, mainly adults. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city's police were simply too taxed with Sandy's aftermath.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Seventh-grader Samantha Bertolino was especially proud of her Halloween costume this year. She was going to be a vampire, and she really had it together this time: The black dress, the spider-web earrings, fake blood, white face paint, and some cool, sparkly clip-on nails.

But the costume will stay in the closet for a while: Samantha's town of Ridgefield, Conn., has postponed Halloween due to the ravages of Superstorm Sandy. The town is planning to reschedule, pending the success of cleanup efforts.

But it won't be the same, Samantha says: "It's kind of like trying to reschedule Christmas. You can't really do that."

From the wrath of nature to the wrath of young children: From Maryland to Kentucky to Maine, Halloween festivities were being canceled or postponed. And a debate emerged: Should we be celebrating, anyway, in the face of the devastation? Or is celebrating just the right thing to do for antsy kids who've been cooped up at home (and out of school) for days?

Perhaps the most high-profile postponement was that of New York's huge parade in Greenwich Village, with its outlandish floats and millions of revelers, mainly adults. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city's police were simply too taxed with Sandy's aftermath. (Trick-or-treating, the mayor said, could go ahead as long as caution and good judgment were used.)

It was the first time the parade had been canceled in its 39-year history, said Jeanne Fleming, who has directed the event for 32 of those years, including this one. (Also being canceled was a much-loved parade in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.)

"We went on right after 9/11," said Fleming. "It was a wonderful affirmation of New York's spirit." Still, she added, she understood the factors that went into Bloomberg's decision.

"Even after 9/11, people had electricity, the subways were running," she said. "And I do wonder if it would have been the right thing for the people of Greenwich Village." Much of lower Manhattan below 39th street is still plunged in darkness.

Fleming was spending Wednesday in discussions about a possible new date next week; options mentioned were Nov. 7 and Nov. 8, she said, which presented another complication: "I can imagine people staying up all night watching election returns, and then having a parade," she noted.

Speaking of the election, President Barack Obama and wife Michelle were also changing plans, breaking their three-year tradition of passing out sweets to area students and military children in the White House driveway.

The White House said the hundreds of treat bags, each containing a box of White House M&Ms, a pumpkin-shaped sugar cookie, jelly beans and some dried fruit, would be delivered to the White House Military Office and D.C., Maryland and Virginia school districts.

For some communities, the rescheduling compounded past disappointments. In Ridgefield, Halloween was postponed last year, too, due to an early snowstorm that brought down trees and caused widespread power outages. As was trick-or-treating in Londonderry, N.H., which also rescheduled this year.

"They were very sad," said Cheryl Hass, a Londonderry mom, of her daughters, ages 8 and 10. "Once you explain why, they understand, but they're still disappointed."

Since dates for a rescheduled Halloween varied by city, county or town, some parents were mollifying their kids by promising dual (or triple) celebrations.

One was Kelsey Banfield of Fairfield, Conn., who lost power and relocated to her parents' house in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Tuesday. She said her 4-year-old daughter would celebrate there and then on Nov. 7, back home.

Also planning some double-dipping was Amber Korell of Greensboro, Md., where trick-or-treating was set for Friday. Korell said she'd told her 4-year-old daughter, Layla, that they'd also hit the town of nearby Denton, which was celebrating on Saturday; that way, she'd get to wear her costume twice.

In many places, like the upper part of Manhattan, where power was never lost, trick-or-treating was largely going ahead, even though school wasn't: Bloomberg announced Wednesday that schools would be closed the rest of the week, much to the delight of children and the frustration of parents.

In New Jersey, though, which sustained much damage, Gov. Chris Christie postponed Halloween until next Monday - though not all towns were necessarily keeping to that schedule. One building, a condo in the flooded city of Hoboken, was getting in a little early celebrating - at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Kathy Zucker, the condo president, said she had three children under the age of 6.

"They are going a little stir crazy," she said.

Of course, adults who were going stir crazy and looking for kid-inappropriate entertainment had additional options - especially in New York. For example, there was the off-Broadway show "Silence," a profane and hilarious send-up of the movie "Silence of the Lambs." The show was offering a "Halloween package" involving dinner, the show and a haunted house tour.

And if you like drag costumes, there was the Halloween Drag Costume party at the Christie's exhibition gallery, celebrating an upcoming sale of Andy Warhol works. The private (sorry) party described the dress code as "Factory Chic, Halloween Drag."

Back to more family friendly activities: Some towns offered alternatives to trick-or-treating. The well-known aquarium in Mystic, Conn., offered families without power at home the chance to trick-or-treat among the beluga whales, penguins and sharks.

And the city of Brunswick, Ohio, south of Cleveland, was holding an free indoor "Frankenstorm Party" at the local recreation center, to complement trick-or-treating outside.

"It's an alternative if they don't want to go out in the weather," said Diane Grabowski, an assistant to the parks and recreation director.

While some parents felt that celebrating just wasn't the right thing to do when people had suffered as a result of the storm, others felt the postponement was unnecessary.

"It's Halloween and the weather's not that bad," said Mandy Haynoski of Wellsville, in western New York. "So why not have trick-or-treating as normal?" Though the town came through the storm with relatively few problems, officials decided to postpone Halloween until Sunday afternoon.

"What's trick-or-treating without being out at night with the Halloween lights and the pumpkins lit up?" Haynoski asked. "It's just more fun on Halloween." Not to mention, she added, the Buffalo Bills-Houston Texans football game Sunday, which now coincides with Halloween.

"Nobody's going to answer their doors when the football game's going on," she said.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Donovan McNabb Defends Michael Vick

Donovan McNabb Defends Michael Vick













PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If anyone knows what Michael Vick feels like today, it’s Donovan McNabb.

The mobile quarterback who isn’t quite as quick as he used to be, leading a team that’s not as good as they were supposed to be, while fans call for his young backup to replace him. That was Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb, and this season it’s Michael Vick and rookie Nick Foles.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Much Of SEPTA Service Resumed, Except Regional Rails


Much Of SEPTA Service Resumed, Except Regional Rails

(Mayor Nutter listens as Septa GM Joe Casey outlines service resumptions.  Credit: CBS3)
Mayor Nutter listens as Septa GM Joe Casey outlines
service resumptions.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — SEPTA announced that much of its transportation system resumed service Tuesday afternoon and Regional Rail service will resume operations Wednesday morning.

SEPTA general manager Joe Casey said that the Regional Rail lines sustained significant damage from Hurricane Sandy. Trains on all Regional Rail lines will follow regular weekday schedules on Wednesday.

Customers may experience residual delays, and should allow extra time for their commute.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Philadelphia Schools, City Government Reopen on Wednesday


Philadelphia Schools, City Government Reopen on Wednesday

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Now that the brunt of Sandy has passed, crews from Peco and the Philadelphia Streets Department are out trying to restore power and remove downed trees.

Mayor Michael Nutter, meantime, is breathing a sigh of relief.

“We came through it,” the mayor said today, visibly relieved that only one minor injury was reported in Philadelphia so far as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Flights Slowly Resuming at Philadelphia International Airport


Flights Slowly Resuming at Philadelphia International Airport

 (Rachel Boyce, left, heads for her Delta flight on a nearly deserted Philadelphia airport concourse.  Credit: John McDevitt) 
(Rachel Boyce, left, heads for her Delta flight on a nearly 
deserted Philadelphia airport concours


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Limited flight service resumed this afternoon at Philadelphia International Airport.

Delta Airlines was the  first to resume flights, with airplanes landing and taking off in the 1pm hour.
Rachel Boyce, a trainer for a restaurant chain, spent an extra day in Philly.  She says she enjoyed her visit but is glad she’ll be getting back to her life in Austin, Texas.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

DeSean Jackson On Whether A QB Change Could Help: ‘You Never Know Until It Happens’


DeSean Jackson On Whether A QB Change Could Help: ‘You Never Know Until It Happens’













PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Whether to replace Michael Vick with Nick Foles has been a topic of conversation this week. Well, it would be more accurate to say that “replace Foles with Vick,” has been more of a topic of conversation than it has usually been this year.

Foles is a rookie, and has not seen a snap of regular season play. Could a QB change to someone so inexperienced actually help the team? “You never know until it happens,” DeSean Jackson told NFL AM on NFL Network today. “We are too good of a team to be on a three-game losing streak, so whatever it is we can do to get things rolling, that is what we are here to do.”

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Nasty campaign tactics: Phony voting instructions

Nasty campaign tactics: Phony voting instructions

AP Photo
This handout photo provided by Joel Gilbert, taken Sept. 19, 2012, shows Mr. Gilbert at the film screening for his movie "Dreams from My Real Father" in Bellmore, NY. With a week until Election Day, the nasty campaign tactics are coming out. The film was mailed for free to some seven million homes. The film claims that Obama's real father was Frank Marshall Davis, a communist agitator, author and poet who lived in Hawaii, not the former Kenyan goat herder who share's the president's name. Both men are deceased.


MIAMI (AP) -- With a week to go until Election Day, the nasty campaign tactics are coming out.
People in Florida, Virginia and Indiana have gotten calls falsely telling them they can vote early by phone and don't need to go to a polling place. In suburban Broward County, Fla., a handful of elderly voters who requested absentee ballots say they were visited by unknown people claiming to be authorized to collect the ballots.

And there's a mysterious DVD popping up in mailboxes that purports to be a documentary raising questions about the true identity of President Barack Obama's father.

It's one more indication of just how close this presidential election is. Voting rights advocates say reports of political deception and underhandedness are on the rise.

"Unfortunately it seems like the shadowy individuals that want to prevent people from voting are doing things earlier," said Eric Marshall, legal mobilization manager at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The organization is part of a coalition called Election Protection that is monitoring voting access and rights nationwide, including a toll-free hotline set up to take complaints.

"Each American's vote matters. It's important to them and it's important to the community," Marshall said.

Indiana's secretary of state launched an investigation of the phony voting instructions being phoned to homes in that state, and Virginia officials issued a warning to voters there asking them to report any such calls.

In the Broward County, Fla., case, elderly voters "were told, `I'm an official and I'm here to pick up your absentee ballot,'" said Alma Gonzalez, a senior Florida Democratic Party official working on voter protection efforts. "There is no official who picks up your ballot."

In addition to those cases, garish billboards warning that voter fraud is a crime punishable by jail time and fines were put up in minority neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin. They were recently taken down amid complaints they were aimed at intimidating African-American and Latino voters. The people behind the billboards have not come forward.

"It's hard to believe that these were just public service announcements," Marshall said. "Those neighborhoods were specifically targeted."

"It doesn't pass the smell test."

Independent Florida voter Jane Bowman smelled something bad, too, when she recently discovered a DVD in her mailbox questioning the identity of Obama's father.

"I think it's just a dirty trick. It just astonished me," said Bowman, a Jacksonville resident who says she plans to vote for Obama as she did four years ago. "I think they're doing everything they can to win Florida. It's a sorry situation."

The DVD's director, who says he has mailed some 7 million copies to homes in swing states, says that he is unaffiliated with political campaigns or their supporters and that the film reflects his own painstaking research into Obama's family background.

The DVD, "Dreams from My Real Father," posits that the president's true father was a communist agitator, author and poet living in Hawaii named Frank Marshall Davis - not the Kenyan man who shares the president's name. Both men are now dead.

The title is a reference to Obama's book about his family history. That book does mention a poet named "Frank" who was a friend of Obama's maternal grandfather.

In an interview, DVD director Joel Gilbert described himself as a nonpartisan independent who seeks only to tell what he views as an extremely important story. Gilbert said he did not coordinate distribution of the DVD with any political entity and also took no political contributions to finance it. Yet the DVD was targeted at voters in key battleground states, including 1.5 million in Florida and 1.2 million in Ohio, according to Gilbert's website.

"It's a publicity measure," he said of the free mail distribution. "This has been an effort to force and embarrass the media into covering the content of the film."

Gilbert declined to disclose how the DVD and its distribution were financed, saying his production company is private and not required to. He has also made what he calls "mockumentaries" exploring whether former Beatle Paul McCartney might really be dead - as was rumored in the 1960s - and finding Elvis Presley alive and living as a federal agent in Southern California. He has also done films on Islamic-Jewish relations and Iran's strategic ambitions.

Obama campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher declined comment on the DVD.

Another mysterious batch of mailings to voters in at least 23 Florida counties is being investigated by the FBI and state officials. These anonymous letters, which were postmarked from Seattle, raise questions about the voter's citizenship and provide a form that supposedly must immediately be filled out and returned to elections officials. Otherwise, the letter says, the voter's name will be purged from the rolls.

"A nonregistered voter who casts a vote in the State of Florida may be subject to arrest, imprisonment, and/or other criminal sanctions," warns one of the official-looking letters complete with eagle-and-flag logo, which appear to have been aimed mainly at registered Republicans.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has asked all of the state's supervisors of elections to report any similar letters. There could also be federal charges against those responsible.

Voting rights advocates also say there have been scattered complaints of bosses ordering employees to support a particular presidential candidate or face job repercussions. And in the past, students and other groups have been the targets of robocalls falsely saying they can vote on the day after Election Day if the lines are too long.

Marshall said such misinformation tactics surface election after election because it's not illegal in most states to deceive someone about the timing or place of an election, or to lie about a candidate's political affiliation. 

Most laws, he said, are more geared toward preventing voter intimidation and ensuring physical access to polling places. Those who do get caught in deception usually claim it was all a big misunderstanding.

"It's very difficult to stop," he said. "The tactics have evolved but the law hasn't."

Prosecutor: Boy planned shooting of neo-Nazi dad

Prosecutor: Boy planned shooting of neo-Nazi dad 

AP Photo
FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2010 file photo, Jeff Hall holds a Neo Nazi flag while standing at Sycamore Highlands Park near his home in Riverside, Calif. On Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, the trial begins in juvenile court for the 10-year-old boy charged with murder for shooting Hall, his white supremacist father while he slept on the couch in 2010. The child told investigators he killed his father with a gun kept unlocked in the family's home because he was tired of his father beating him and his stepmother.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) -- The 10-year-old son of a neo-Nazi leader told his younger sister that he planned to shoot their father, then a day later took a gun from his parents' bedroom and fired one bullet into his father's head as he slept on a couch, a prosecutor alleged Tuesday.

The boy's father, Jeff Hall, was an out-of-work plumber who as regional leader of the National Socialist Movement headed rallies at a synagogue and a day labor site.

In opening statements at the murder trial, Riverside County prosecutor Michael Soccio dismissed the notion that Hall's neo-Nazi beliefs contributed to his son's behavior, as the defense maintains, and instead said the boy, now 12, was a violent child who had been kicked out of every school he attended.

The boy also suspected his father was going to leave his stepmother, and he didn't want the family to split up, prosecutors have said.

"You'll learn that (the child) would have shot his father even if he'd been a member of the Peace and Freedom Party. It made no difference," Soccio said, before showing the court photos of Hall playing tea party with his young children. "They lived a relatively normal life."

The Associated Press is not identifying the child because he is a juvenile.

The boy with light brown hair sat quietly in court next to his attorney and wore a purple polo shirt and glasses. He showed little emotion when the prosecution flashed photos through a projector of his blood-spattered father, and he appeared to be taking notes in a spiral-bound notebook.

On several occasions, he asked his attorney how to spell the name of a witness taking the stand.

Defense attorney Matthew Hardy countered in his opening statement that his client had grown up in an abusive and violent environment and was conditioned to believe it was right to kill people who were a threat.

Hall taught his son to shoot guns, took him to neo-Nazi rallies and once to the Mexican border to teach him how to "make sure he knew what to do to protect this place from the Mexicans," Hardy said.

"If you were going to create a monster, if you were going to create a killer, what would you do?" he said. 

"You'd put him in a house where there's domestic violence, child abuse, racism."

Hardy also claimed the boy's stepmother Krista McCary, who is expected to testify, goaded the boy into killing Hall because Hall was planning to leave her for another woman. Hall sent her text messages on the night he was shot saying he would divorce her, Hardy said.

McCary sat in on the child's interviews with police and psychiatrists after the shooting, he said, and she lied to investigators.

The boy saw an opportunity when his father came home from a party but was locked out and had to get in the house by crawling through a window, Soccio said.

Hall fell asleep on the couch, and the boy got a gun from his parent's room and shot Hall at near point-blank range behind his left ear, the prosecutor said.

"He held the gun about a foot away and, as he explained, he took four fingers and put them into the trigger and pulled the trigger back and the gun discharged," Soccio said, showing images of a bloodied Hall on the couch covered by a blue blanket.

Several police officers testified that the boy and at least one of his siblings voluntarily gave statements immediately after the shooting that indicated the boy had killed his father.

One younger sister asked the boy why he hadn't shot their father in the stomach, as he said he planned to do, according to Officer Robert Monreal, who picked up the exchange on a belt recorder.

Prosecutors previously said the two siblings talked about the shooting as they played on a swing set a day before the attack.

Another officer testified that the boy was held in a patrol car at the scene and began to talk almost non-stop from the backseat. Officer Michael Foster said the child acknowledged shooting his father and began to show remorse.

"He was sad about it. He wished he hadn't done it," Foster recalled. "He asked me about things like, do people get more than one life, things like that. He wanted to know if he was dead or if he just had injuries."

The boy has a history of being expelled from school for violence, starting at age 5 when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil on the first day of kindergarten, Soccio said outside court. He also tried to strangle a teacher with a telephone cord a few years later, he said.

Hall, 32, who said he believed in a white breakaway nation, ran for a seat on the local water board in 2010 in a move that disturbed many residents in the recession-battered suburbs southeast of Los Angeles. The day before his death, he held a meeting of the neo-Nazi group at his home.

The boy's stepmother told authorities that Hall had hit, kicked and yelled at his son for being too loud or getting in the way. Hall and the boy's biological mother had previously slugged through a divorce and custody dispute in which each had accused the other of child abuse.

Kathleen M. Heide, a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa who wrote "Why Kids Kill Parents," said children 10 and under rarely kill their parents and that only 16 such cases were documented between 1996 and 2007.

Heide also said parenting and home life would undoubtedly play a role in the development of the boy.
If a judge finds the boy murdered Hall, he could be held in state custody until he is 23 years old.
The state currently houses fewer than 900 juveniles.



Syria activists report 23 dead in Damascus suburb

Syria activists report 23 dead in Damascus suburb 

AP Photo
In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 photo, a rebel sniper aims at Syrian army positions in the Aleppo Jedida district, Syria. Syrian fighter jets pounded rebel areas across the country on Monday with scores of airstrikes that anti-regime activists called the most widespread bombing in a single day since Syria's troubles started 19 months ago.
  
BEIRUT (AP) -- Airstrikes by Syrian jets and shells from tanks leveled a neighborhood in a restive city near the capital of Damascus on Tuesday, killing 18 people, and at least five rebel fighters died nearby in clashes with regime troops, activists said.

The airstrikes on the city of Douma, northeast of the capital, left residents scampering over a huge expanse of rubble and using their hands to dig up mangled bodies, according to activist videos posted online.

Scenes of vast destruction like those from Douma on Tuesday have grown more common as rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad have made gains on the ground, and Assad's forces have responded with overwhelming air power.

In the past weeks, anti-regime activists say about 150 people have been killed a day in fighting. Since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, they say 35,000 have died.

Tuesday's airstrikes came a day after what activists called the heaviest and most widespread bombing campaign nationwide, on what was to be the final day of an internationally sanctioned truce that never took hold.

The death toll for what was supposed to be a four-day cease-fire ending Monday exceeded 500.
Activists speculated that the government's heavy reliance on air power reflected its inability to roll back rebel gains, especially in the north of the country near the border with Turkey, where rebels have control of swathes of territory.

The international community remains at a loss about how to stop the Syria violence. The U.S. and other Western and Arab nations have called on Assad to step down, while Russia, China and Iran continue to back him.

In the latest fighting after nightfall Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 18 civilians were killed in an airstrike and tank fire Tuesday in the Hajariyeh neighborhood in the suburb of Douma, northeast of Damascus.

The dead included four women and five children, the group said, adding that the toll could rise as residents were still searching through the rubble.

Five rebel fighters were also killed in clashes with regime forces elsewhere in Douma, the group said.
Amateur videos posted online showed a deep, rubble-filled crater in the middle of what appeared to be a poor neighborhood, with many walls collapsed in the blast.

Men were seen chanting "God is great!" while pulling a mangled body from the rubble in one video. They used their hands to dig through cinder blocks and cement dust in another to uncover another dead body.

In yet another video, a man standing in the destruction yells at the camera, "These are the accomplishments of Lakhdar Brahimi," referring to the international envoy who proposed the recent, failed cease-fire.

Regime airstrikes also collapsed buildings in the rebel-held northern city of Maaret al-Numan, which straddles a key supply route from the capital to Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a main front in the civil war.
Assad's regime has been hammering away at Maaret al-Numan, 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Aleppo, with heavy airstrikes since it fell to rebels on Oct. 10.

One amateur video purporting to show the aftermath of an airstrike on Tuesday showed a man holding up the dead body of a small girl in a red and white shirt and baby blue pants. Other videos showed men carrying bloodied women and children from destroyed buildings.

The Observatory said the day's airstrikes on the city killed at least seven people, four of them children.
One video showed the bodies of three girls wrapped in white shrouds. Nearby, a man dripped water on the face of a dead older man with a white beard, saying: "Go to heaven, dad. May God take revenge."

The Observatory said at least one rebel fighter was also killed in clashes south of the city, and regime forces were trying to bring in reinforcements from further south.

Activist claims and videos could not be independently verified because of restrictions on reporting in Syria, but the videos appeared genuine and corresponded with other Associated Press reporting on the events depicted.

Violence also flared elsewhere in and around Damascus. The Observatory said missiles fired from a fighter jet struck the capital's Jobar neighborhood - a rare hit in the capital's municipal area. Most of the fighting around Damascus for the past few months has been in suburbs and outskirts, where rebels have managed to challenge the regime.

Syria's state news agency said an "armed terrorist group" assassinated a high-ranking air force general. Maj. Gen. Abdullah Mahmoud al-Khalidi was gunned down while getting out of his car in the mostly Kurdish neighborhood of Rukn Eddine in Damascus.

The government views the rebels as terrorists and accuses them of being foot soldiers in a foreign plot to destroy Syria.

In Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed "great sadness" that the cease-fire had failed and said government was done talking to Assad's regime.

"Unfortunately the attacks continued, and the Syrian people spent the holidays suffering great pain," Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara. "There would be no meaning to forging a dialogue with a regime that pressed ahead with such a massacre even during the holidays."



Nature slams campaigns into real world

Nature slams campaigns into real world 

AP Photo
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lifts bottles of water to load into a truck as he participates in a campaign event collecting supplies from residents and local relief organizations for victims of superstorm Sandy,Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, at the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, Ohio.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Suddenly, after drifting through months of confusing finger-pointing and iffy economic theory, the presidential candidates are getting walloped by an all-too-tangible October surprise. Superstorm Sandy is a real-world, gut-level test.

The force of nature threw cold water on the campaign bickering just as President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney were charging into a final week of man-made rancor.

"It's sort of like Mother Nature is intervening and calling a timeout," said historian and presidential biographer Douglas Brinkley.

Obama can't afford to be caught taking his eyes off an unfolding crisis. Romney needs to avoid appearing callous about the lives lost and homes flooded while campaigning; he decided to go on with events but dialed down the politics Tuesday.

Seven years after Hurricane Katrina, neither candidate wants to talk about the political implications of the giant storm that lurched up the East Coast and left millions without power.

But their campaigns have to think about it. All presidential teams sweat about the potential for an October surprise - a late-in-the race event or disclosure that can turn the race upside down. And there's never been one quite like this.

Obama canceled his campaign appearances from Monday at least through Wednesday but is staying in the public eye as commander of federal relief efforts. He visited the American Red Cross headquarters on Tuesday and travels to New Jersey on Wednesday to view damage and comfort people recovering from the storm.

Romney wavered in his strategy. First the campaign said he would skip a Kettering, Ohio, rally Tuesday out of sympathy for the storm victims. Then Romney decided to do the event but recast it as a storm-relief effort, shorn of the usual campaign speech.

"It's part of the American spirit, the American way, to give to people in need," Romney told supporters in Kettering before they lined up to hand him bags of canned food for storm victims.

Romney planned three campaign events in Florida on Wednesday.

The storm's political impact is still unknown. At the very least, the aftermath in New York City and elsewhere will dominate the news and distract a nation of voters during the crucial handful of days that remain before Nov. 6.

More concrete effects on Election Day are yet to be tallied: how many early voting days lost, how many voters who don't make it to the polls because of power outages, damaged homes or cleanup duties, whether any polling places or election equipment are damaged. Parts of four states seen as pivotal to this election were hit - North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire.

Though rapid-fire campaign ads continue apace, Brinkley, a Rice University professor, predicted that the presidential race's less-strident tone will continue through its remaining week, even after campaign schedules return to full strength.

"When the nation's largest city and even its capital are endangered, when so many people are in peril and face deprivation," Brinkley said Monday, "it's hard to get back to arguing over taxes."

For Obama, the federal response to the natural disaster could make or break his bid for a second term. Romney risks losing momentum in his push to move ahead in the few tight state races expected to decide the election.

"It stops the campaign more or less dead in its tracks," said Republican pollster and strategist Mike McKenna, who doesn't work for the Romney campaign. "A pause always helps the guys on defense. It helps the Obama guys catch their breath a little bit and think about what to do next."

McKenna says Romney shouldn't take much time off and should instead focus on key states outside the storm zone.

"If I were Romney, I'd be in Colorado and Michigan and Wisconsin," McKenna said. "Start off with a prayer for the people in New York and New Jersey, definitely do that, but don't stop attacking. Try to keep your momentum through this."

For Obama, missing a few days of active campaigning for vital presidential duties may be a good trade, politically speaking.

Lingering anger about the previous president's performance when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans provides a backdrop that will benefit Obama if his administration does a solid job, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.

"You gain much more as a president being contrasted with George W. Bush and Hurricane Katrina than you do giving a speech in some battleground state and getting on the evening news as a campaigner," Jamieson said.

She said a natural disaster gives a sitting president "unlimited access to the media to say things the public wants and needs to hear in a fashion that reinforces that he is president."

The 2008 election also was hit by a fall surprise, albeit one of human creation- the plummeting stock market and near collapse of the nation's financial sector that September. Many voters blamed that on the Republicans in power, and it helped Obama capture the presidency.

This time, neither candidate can be accused of failing to prevent the weather. But Obama's reputation will suffer if the federal government's response is feeble or botched.

With Election Day a week away, there may be little time to make such assessments, however, and a risk of appearing to politicize tragedy if Romney speaks up too soon - a complaint that Democrats lodged against him when a U.S. Consulate in Libya was attacked.

"Criticism could boomerang if it appears to be ginned up to win votes in the election as opposed to genuine concern that people were not protected or people were not helped," said Mitchell McKinney, a professor of political communication at the University of Missouri.

For the former Massachusetts governor, with no political office as a platform, finding a strong, positive role in the storm response is difficult. Romney used a campaign event Monday at a high school gym in Avon Lake, Ohio, to make a plea for donations to the Red Cross. His campaign offices in storm-hit areas were collecting emergency supplies.

Even as Obama canceled an appearance in Florida on Monday and rushed back to Washington to oversee the storm response, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden kept campaigning.

"In times of crisis, we all pull together as one American family," Mrs. Obama told supporters at a campaign event in Iowa City, Iowa, before launching into an upbeat summation of her husband's accomplishments and goals.

The president and Romney also spoke of Americans helping each other.

"President Obama is doing the right thing. Romney, too," said Democratic Party strategist Donna Brazile. "Most Americans know what the closing arguments are by now. Let's focus on taking care of each other."


Monday, October 29, 2012

Governor Christie Blames Atlantic City Mayor For Strandings

Governor Christie Blames Atlantic City Mayor For Strandings














 ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie says some people are stranded in Atlantic City and he’s blaming the mayor.

Christie says Mayor Lorenzo Langford erred by allowing people to shelter on the barrier island rather than moving them inland.

He says that rescue operations are being suspended until daylight Tuesday.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

AP survey: Economic ills may defy next president

AP survey: Economic ills may defy next president 

AP Photo
In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, photo, a lone man wearing a rain pouch walks past the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 29,2012, during the approach of Hurricane Sandy. Whoever wins the U.S. presidential election will likely struggle to manage the biggest economic threats he'll face. That's the cautionary message that emerges from the latest Associated Press Economy Survey.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Whoever wins the U.S. presidential election will likely struggle to manage the biggest economic threats he'll face.

That's the cautionary message that emerges from the latest Associated Press Economy Survey.

Europe's recession will persist deep into the next presidential term, according to a majority of the 31 economists who responded to the survey. A weaker European economy would shrink demand for U.S. exports and cost U.S. jobs. Yet there's little the next president can do about it.

An even more urgent threat to the U.S. economy, the economists say, is Congress' failure so far to reach a deal to prevent tax increases and spending cuts from taking effect next year and possibly triggering another recession. Yet as President Barack Obama has found, the White House can't force a congressional accord.

And whether Obama or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney wins Nov. 6, he'll likely have to deal with one chamber of Congress led by the opposing party. Polls suggest the Senate will remain in Democratic hands after the election and the House in Republican control.

"It's not like there's a clean slate for someone to do what they want," says Joshua Shapiro, chief economist at MFR Inc.

Still, there are some ways in which the economists think the White House will be able to drive the economy.

The next president, for example, could help lift growth and reduce unemployment by backing lower individual and corporate taxes and looser business rules, more than 70 percent of the economists say. They think such policies - the core of Romney's economic message - would be more likely to help than would 

Obama's plans for more spending on public works and targeted tax breaks for businesses.

Only about one in five of the economists say Obama's policies would be more likely to help spur growth and reduce unemployment.

The economists were surveyed before the government estimated Friday that the economy grew at an annual rate of 2 percent in the July-September quarter - too slowly to spur rapid job growth. On Friday, four days before Election Day, the government will issue the jobs report for October.

The AP survey collected the views of private, corporate and academic economists on a range of issues. Among their views:

- The U.S. economy and job creation will remain weak the rest of this year but should pick up slightly in 2013. The economy will expand at a 1.9 percent annual pace in the second half of 2012, little changed from the first half. Next year, they think growth should amount to 2.3 percent, enough to boost hiring slightly.

- Americans' average pay will trail inflation over the next three years, as it has for the past three, a slight majority of the economists say. The tight job market means many employers feel little pressure to raise pay. 

And rising prices for food and gas could swell inflation and reduce purchasing power.

- Lack of customer demand is most responsible for weak U.S. job growth, slightly more than half the economists say. Fewer than half say a bigger factor is a shortage of skilled workers or employer uncertainty about future taxes or regulations.

- The $1 trillion-plus budget deficit isn't significantly worsened by the nearly half of Americans who pay no federal income tax or by the lower effective rate paid by the top-earning 1 percent compared with a decade ago. Fewer than one in five of the economists think either factor is a major contributor to the deficit.

The economists also think the depth of Europe's crisis has made Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, even more crucial to the global economy than his counterpart in the United States, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Europe is struggling to control a debt crisis, save the euro currency and prevent the entire region from slipping into recession. If its crisis spread to the United States, another U.S. recession would be possible.

Slightly more than half the economists surveyed by the AP say that for Europe, the worst is yet to come.

"There is going to be an enormous battle between the countries that are going to have to pony up money" and those receiving it, Shapiro said.

Some say they think Draghi hasn't acted fast enough to address Europe's crisis.

The economists continue to give high marks to Bernanke's leadership of the Fed, which last month said it will buy $40 billion in mortgage bonds each month until the job market substantially improves. The goal is to strengthen the economy by driving down already low long-term borrowing rates.

About 55 percent of the economists think the Fed's purchases will succeed in creating a "wealth effect." 

That's when low rates cause investors to shift money into stocks. Stock prices rise, making people feel wealthier and causing more spending and economic growth.

Still, some economists expressed concern about the Bernanke-led Fed's aggressive bond buying. About 45 percent worry that the Fed's injection of steadily more money into the financial system will eventually ignite inflation or create dangerous bubbles in the prices of stocks or other assets.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eagles Enter State Of Emergency, Lose 30-17 To Falcons

Eagles Enter State Of Emergency, Lose 30-17 To Falcons













Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter declared a State of Emergency beginning 5 p.m. Sunday. It coincided about the same time a state of emergency was declared on the Philadelphia Eagles, possibly marking the beginning of the end of the Andy Reid era.

Karma was all around. And it was all bad. With 5:18 left in the first quarter of the Eagles’ embarrassing 30-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the first crescendo of boos began sprinkling down on Lincoln Financial Field. It was with 5:18 left in the fourth quarter against Detroit two weeks ago when the Lions burned through a 10-point Eagles’ fourth-quarter lead to begin the Reid countdown.

The Falcons remain the NFL’s only undefeated team—and proved they are legit, moving to 7-0, while the Eagles’ 2012 death knell began pounding louder, dropping to 3-4, losing their third-straight game and suffering their first loss under Reid after the bye week.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

SEPTA Announces Shutdown Of Service After Sunday’s Service

SEPTA Announces Shutdown Of Service After Sunday’s Service


(A Septa regional rail train.  File photo)
A Septa regional rail train.

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Philadelphia’s transit agency has announced that it will suspend all services at the end of Sunday’s service schedule due to the approaching storm.

SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said, “We will be suspending all service effective the end of today’s schedule. This will be approximately 12:30 a.m. This will include all services in the city, the buses trains and trolleys. The only exception will be our CCT paratransit service, which will be available for reserved dialysis patients only, as long as safe operations are possible.”

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Philadelphia Public, Archdiocesan Schools Closed On Monday

Philadelphia Public, Archdiocesan Schools Closed On Monday














PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Due to the forecast of severe weather, all Philadelphia Archdiocesan high schools and parish elementary schools in the city of Philadelphia will be closed Monday and Tuesday. In addition, all Philadelphia public schools will be closed on Monday.

Philadelphia Archdiocesan officials said the decision regarding the schools on Tuesday is being made now because of the severity of the storm.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/

Mayor Nutter Orders City Government Shutdown, Warns Residents To Be Ready For Sandy


Mayor Nutter Orders City Government Shutdown, Warns Residents To Be Ready For Sandy

(Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter gives an update on the city's preparation for Hurricane Sandy at a press conference on Sunday.)
(Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter gives an update
on the city’s preparation for Hurricane Sandy at a press conference on Sunday.)
 
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As Hurricane Sandy approaches, the city of Philadelphia is closing government offices, court houses, mass transit and public and Archdiocesan schools on Monday. And Mayor Michael Nutter continues to urge residents to be ready.

After SEPTA (read SEPTA Shutdowns) and the School District announced their closures (read Schools Closed), Mayor Nutter quickly followed suit, closing the city government down for all but the most essential services — police, fire, prisons and PGW.

For full story go to:  http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/.



Ryan leads unbeaten Falcons over Eagles 30-17

Ryan leads unbeaten Falcons over Eagles 30-17 

AP Photo
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (24) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Either the Atlanta Falcons are really this good or the Philadelphia Eagles are really this bad.

Matt Ryan threw touchdown passes on Atlanta's first three possessions against the Eagles and new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and the Falcons remained the NFL's only unbeaten team with a convincing 30-17 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Falcons improved to 7-0 for the first time while the Eagles (3-4) lost after a bye for the first time in 14 games under coach Andy Reid since 1999.

Ryan finished 22 of 29 for 262 yards and three TDs for his first win against his hometown team in three tries.

Michael Vick didn't turn the ball over for once, but he played so-so and failed to beat his former team in his second start against the Falcons since returning to the NFL in 2009.

The Falcons scored on their first six possessions before punting for the first time with 5:35 left.

This was a validation win for Atlanta. The Falcons entered with no victories over a team with a winning record and their opponents were a combined 13-24 going into this weekend. Perhaps that's why they were a surprising 3-point underdog despite Philadelphia's recent struggles.

Reid's Eagles have lost three in a row since starting 3-1. Reid fired Juan Castillo and replaced him with Bowles two days after Philadelphia blew its second straight fourth-quarter lead in an overtime loss to Detroit.
Clearly, it didn't work.

Castillo's defense allowed 18.5 points per game, excluding two TD returns against the offense. Bowles' D allowed 21 points in the first 24 minutes and couldn't make a stop until the fourth quarter.

A sellout crowd anticipating a pending storm expected to hit the East Coast soon started filtering out in the third quarter. Those who stuck around booed the Eagles off the field, though one guy chanted "E-A-G-L-E-S" in the final minute.

The anti-Reid fans may be seeing him in his final months with the team. Owner Jeffrey Lurie already stated before the season that another 8-8 finish would be "unacceptable."

The Falcons methodically drove 80 yards on 16 plays on the opening possession, converting five third downs. A holding call on defensive end Jason Babin kept the drive going after Ryan threw an incomplete pass on third-and-10. Ryan then threw a 15-yard TD pass to Drew Davis for a 7-0 lead.

Ryan tossed a 3-yard TD pass to Jason Snelling to make it 14-0. Penalties on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Mychal Kendricks on separate third downs kept Atlanta's drive going.

After going three-and-out on the first series, the Eagles put it together on the next drive by mixing in seven runs among their 13 plays. LeSean McCoy scored from the 2 to cut it to 14-7.

But the Falcons answered quickly. Ryan connected with Julio Jones over Nnamdi Asomugha for the 63-yard score to put Atlanta up 21-7.

Atlanta converted their first nine third-down tries, including three by penalty. The Eagles finally held in the final minute of the second quarter and Matt Bryant's 43-yard field goal gave the Falcons a 24-7 halftime lead. Bryant kicked field goals of 29 and 30 on the next two drives.

The Eagles made it 30-17 on Vick's 7-yard TD pass to McCoy in the fourth quarter.


An uneasy economy, and those living through it

An uneasy economy, and those living through it 

AP Photo
In this Oct. 19, 2012, photo, Ray and Candice Arvin pose inside their home in Charlotte, N.C. Romney supporter, Ray Arvin used to own a small business with five employees, selling equipment to power companies, but he went out of business in 2009. He’s now a salesman for another equipment company. Polls consistently find that the economy is the top concern of voters, and Romney tends to get an edge over Obama when people are asked who might do better with it. Whether that truly drives how Americans vote is a crucial question for Election Day.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Here was Chas Kaufmann's life before the Great Recession: $28,000 in restaurant tabs in a year, cruises, house parties with fireworks. His Mr. Gutter business was booming in the Pennsylvania Poconos.

Now: "We mainly shop at Sam's Club and portion out our meals. We spend $4 to $5 a night on eating." He and his wife use space heaters in their elegant house and leave parts of it cold. The Hummer is gone, and he drives a 2005 pickup. On Nov. 6, Kaufman is voting for Mitt Romney.

Lower down the ladder, the recession put Simone Ludlow's life in a full circle. Laid off by an Atlanta hotel company in 2009, Ludlow, 32, bounced from job to job for two years, got by with a "very generous mother," still makes do by renting a room in a house owned by friends, and is back working for the company that had let her go. She's voting for President Barack Obama.

For four years, the bumpy economy cut an uneasy path. It raked small towns and big cities, knocked liberals and conservatives on their backs, plagued Republicans and Democrats alike.

It was the worst economic setback since the Depression, and it didn't take sides.
---

Across the country, Associated Press reporters asked people to talk about their livelihoods before and after the December 2007-June 2009 recession and how those experiences have shaped their politics in the presidential election just days away. Their answers help illuminate why the race is so close. In this time of great polarization, their stories bridge the partisan divide, showing that resilience and optimism are shared traits, too, and that no one seems to think either candidate can work miracles.

"Our potential doesn't rely on an election and one man or even a ballot," said Ben McCoy, 35, of Wilmington, N.C., creative director for 101 Mobility, a company that sells, installs and services handicapped access equipment. "I don't think either candidate for president has the conviction to go as far as we need to go to really get back to stability."

Economic well-being, for him, will come from personal decisions by his wife and himself, not Washington. 

"We will roll up our sleeves and cut the family budget down to the core if we have to, where we know we're going to eat and we know the lights are going to stay on, and that's it. We'll do it. We won't laugh and dance about it, but we'll do it."

In the Charlotte area, the recession played a cruel trick on Obama supporter Tamala Harris, wrecking the Charlotte housing market just after she quit a job to go into selling real estate. It drove Romney supporter Ray Arvin out of business selling industrial equipment from North Carolina and cleaned out his retirement savings with not that many years left to start from scratch. Both have more hope than you might think.

Harris, 38, is back in Charlotte after getting her master's in business from the University of Rochester in New York. During the worst of the calamity, she used loans and scholarships to advance her education, and looks back on it all as a time that made her dig deep.

"It made me realize what was important," she said. "It's just not the material things and having things to improve your status. I know that people are in such a rush to have things. They feel that is a validation - `Oh I have this, I have that.' I was one of them. So, for me, I found it was a time to reflect on your character - and rebuild again. It was a wonderful time to realize when you don't have certain things - money is not coming, or houses are not selling - who's really in your corner. "

Arvin, 47, is starting over, too.

In 2001, he and his wife bought a small company that sold equipment to power utilities and the aviation industry. Business hummed until 2007, when five big customers filed for bankruptcy and the couple raided their retirement and savings accounts to keep the enterprise afloat. It sank in 2009. Now he travels five states in a 2005 Suburban as sales representative for a business supplying equipment to electric and gas companies, bringing home $50,000 to $60,000 after taxes and travel expenses.
"Am I doing better? Yes. But I've lost so much. I'm starting new. I'm confident in my ability to work hard and do well with what I do."
---

Polls consistently find that the economy is the top concern of voters, and Romney tends to get an edge over Obama when people are asked who might do better with it. Whether that truly drives how Americans vote is a crucial question for Election Day.

Other factors often came into play with the people who talked to AP. Republicans didn't buy the Romney campaign's portrayal of Obama as a one-man wrecking crew in economic affairs. Democrats didn't see him as a savior. They all realize life is more complicated than that.

Beth Ashby, 38, an artist and freelance photographer in North Hollywood, Calif., is a registered Democrat who thinks Obama is bad for her savings. If he's re-elected, she said, "I think I'm going to be less likely to set money aside in my investments. I might be safer just storing it in the shoe box under the bed."

Romney, she said, "seems to have a head for business." But he's turned her off on environmental issues, abortion and "some of his comments involving women." Obama or a third-party unknown will get her vote.

Dave Hinnaland, 51, a fourth-generation sheep and cattle rancher who co-owns the family's 17,000 working acres outside Circle, Mont., simply seems hard-wired to vote for a Republican president. As the national economy sank, the local economy shot ahead thanks to booming oil production in the Bakken oil fields to the east. The days of $300-a-month house rentals, when people's pickups were more expensive than their homes, are over.

"When this area was settled 100 or more years ago, there were people who took a chance and moved out here," he said. "They worked hard and were able to build something for themselves and their families."

So his message to all in Washington: "Let us have the means and options to chart our own path. Don't hamstring us with rules and regulations. And let people that are willing to go out to work take a chance, let them have the opportunity to do it. We don't need a big hand hovering over our head telling us what we can and cannot do."

If the recession spared oil and gas lands, Kaufmann, of Kunkletown, Pa., saw it coming in the gutter trade, specifically when he started noticing that nearly all of his customers' checks were drawn on home equity credit lines.

"How long do you think this is going to last?" he recalled asking his wife. "I said, `I just did a homeowner, the wife lost her job, and without her job, he can't afford the mortgage.' That's when we started buckling down. I said, `You know what? It's time.'

"What happened is, the banks overextended all these people. People were buying clothes, putting in in-ground pools, putting gutters up where they didn't need to be replaced. I was putting gutters up when people didn't need gutters. I would tell them. But they wanted to change the colors. You ride by those houses now and they either have three feet of grass or the windows are boarded up."

His gross income has been halved since 2006 and 2007. No cruises since he turned 60 five years ago.

Cruises aren't on the horizon for Cristian Eusebio, 20, either. He makes $10.50 an hour as a bank teller in Springdale, Ark. He lives at home with a father who works at a food-packaging plant that's been cutting staff and a mother who found work at a warehouse store. The family refinanced before their home mortgage ballooned, skipped a vacation to pay down a debt and pinched pennies.

"It could have gotten worse, but it got better because my mom got a job, my sister got a job and then later in high school, I got a job," he said. "It has gotten better, but I think it's just because more of us are working. Some of us pay one bill. The other one pays another."

---

In Atlanta, where she serves as event manager for her hotel, Ludlow puts no faith in Romney's ability to make the economy sound and offers less than ringing praise for the candidate she supports. "He may not personally be the smartest guy about the economy," she says of Obama, "but what I do appreciate is the fact that he knows when to listen to smarter people."

Her economic worries transcend politics of the moment. She ticks them off: "The long shift that we've had with the globalizing world, going from a manufacturing to a service economy. From a service economy to just a consumer economy, period, that buys more than it produces. And everybody having a job that can be done by a human being, but it's just more cost-effective to do it with a computer.

"All of those factors float around my head and keep me up some nights," she said. "The economy is (in) an incredible state of transition that we've never seen before. And nobody has any idea what it's going to look like. When the smoke clears, what are we going to be living in? And nobody seems to have an answer to that. Nobody knows. All you can do is put on a couple of Band-Aids here and try something there, and see what happens. And that makes me nervous."

If the recession played no favorites among the rich, the poor and those in between, the recovery did. Lost jobs and homes may not have come back but the stock market did, favoring those whose wealth resided in investments.

Carol Clemens, a 66-year-old retiree from Edmond, Okla., and member of the local chapter of an investing club, put money into Ford shares near the bottom of the market in 2009, sold some and has seen the value of the rest grow fivefold. That eased her rough patch. "In short, we're not better off than we were in 2007, but neither are we destitute, for which we give thanks," she said. She's leaning toward Romney.

But investments and politics ebb and flow. Of more concern is the nation's future. She's the mother of grown children who "are not as conscious of saving as we were at their ages," and of grandchildren who are entering higher education. She laments class divisions played up in the campaign - the stigmatization of the poor, the dissing of the rich - and thinks the country needs a deeper fix than any one leader can achieve.

"Americans have got to start taking full responsibility for our messes," she said. "We vote in ineffective politicians, we tolerate second-rate educational systems, we envy those who have worked to have more and resent those who burden our social services because they have great needs.

"I would hope that the next president would have the guts to call us on our blindness and narrow visions," said Clemens. "We have to regain our ability to stop, consider and give a damn if we are going to change things."

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