Keys residents nonchalant about Isaac's soaking, but Gulf Coast in store for a hurricane

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Tropical Storm Isaac barely stirred Florida Keys residents from their fabled nonchalance Sunday, while the Gulf Coast braced for the possibility that the sprawling storm will strengthen into a dangerous hurricane by the time it makes landfall there.

Isaac was expected to cross the Keys by late Sunday, then turn northwest and strike as a Category 2 hurricane somewhere between the New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for a large swath of the northern Gulf Coast from east of Morgan City, La. — which includes the New Orleans area — to Destin, Fla. A Category 2 hurricane has sustained winds of between 96 and 110 mph (154 to 177 kph).

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called a state of emergency and suggested that people begin leaving low-lying parts of the state. He also said he may skip a speaking engagement later this week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa if the storm is threatening his state.

The storm was on a course to pass west of Tampa, but it had already disrupted the Republicans' schedule there because of the likelihood of heavy rain and strong winds that extended more than 200 miles from its center.


Aiming for upbeat convention, Romney concedes damage from rape-abortion dispute; storm nears

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — His Republican National Convention pushed back by a day, Mitt Romney conceded Sunday that fresh controversy over rape and abortion is harming his party and he accused Democrats of trying to exploit it for political gain.

"It really is sad, isn't it, with all the issues that America faces, for the Obama campaign to continue to stoop to such a low level," said Romney, struggling to sharpen the presidential election focus instead on a weak economy and 8.3 percent national unemployment.

His comments came as aides and party officials hurriedly rewrote the script for the convention, cut from four days to three because of the threat posed by approaching Tropical Storm Isaac. Plans called for longer-than-expected sessions beginning Tuesday.

"We're 100 percent full steam ahead on Tuesday," said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, expressing confidence the one-day delay would be the extent of the cancellations. He said Romney's nomination would take place on Tuesday, as would approval of a conservative party platform.

The former Massachusetts governor delivers his acceptance speech Thursday night before a prime time TV audience, then sets out on the final leg of a quest for the presidency that spans two campaigns and more than five years.


Analysis: Abortion dispute strains GOP's uneasy fiscal-social alliance as convention begins

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Every now and then, an event awakens the ever-slumbering tensions between the Republican Party's two core wings: social conservatives and corporate interests.

A Missouri congressman's comment about rape and pregnancy was one such moment, and it came just as Republicans were hoping for a united front at their convention to nominate Mitt Romney for president.

A full-blown rupture — such as the one at the 1992 convention, when a defeated candidate declared a national "culture war" — seems unlikely. But even a modest squabble between key party factions might raise concerns in a tight presidential race.

Romney joined other mainstream Republicans in denouncing the Aug. 19 remarks by Rep. Todd Akin, the party's Senate nominee in Missouri. Akin said rape victims can generally avoid pregnancy because "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Romney called Akin's comments "offensive and wrong." He unsuccessfully urged Akin to quit the Senate race.


Mass burials held in Damascus suburb following reports of massacre that killed 300

AMMAN (AP) — Dozens of bloodied bodies were buried Sunday in mass graves in a Damascus suburb where activists claim more than 300 people have been killed over the past week in a major government offensive to take back control of rebel-held areas in and around the capital.

The British-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 32 more dead bodies were found in the streets of Daraya on Sunday and that they had been killed by "gunfire and summary executions." Among them were three women and two children, the group said. It put the toll for the past week as at least 320.

Another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, claimed 300 bodies were discovered Saturday in Daraya and 633 people have been killed there since the government launched its assault last week.

President Bashar Assad, in comments carried by state media, reiterated his long-standing claim that a foreign plot was behind the uprising against his rule and said he would not allow it to succeed "whatever the price might be."

Britain's minister for Middle East affairs, Alistair Burt, meanwhile, said if confirmed, the massacre "would be an atrocity on a new scale requiring unequivocal condemnation from the entire international community." He added that it "highlights the urgent need for international action to bring an end to the violence, end this culture of impunity and hold to account those responsible for these terrible acts."


AP-GfK poll: Narrow majority supports raising taxes, retirement age to save Social Security

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans say go ahead and raise taxes if it will save Social Security benefits for future generations. And raise the retirement age, if you have to.

Both options are preferable to cutting monthly benefits, even for people who are years away from applying for them.

Those are the findings of a new Associated Press-GfK poll on public attitudes toward the nation's largest federal program.

Social Security is facing serious long-term financial problems. When given a choice on how to fix them, 53 percent of adults said they would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for future generations, according to the poll. Just 36 percent said they would cut benefits instead.

The results were similar when people were asked whether they would rather raise the retirement age or cut monthly payments for future generations — 53 percent said they would raise the retirement age, while 35 percent said they would cut monthly payments.


GOP convention protesters in Tampa say Isaac won't stop them; in it 'rain or shine'

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The few hundred protesters gathered under wet skies in a park about a half-mile from the GOP convention on Sunday said an impending hurricane that is supposed to dump even heavier rains on Tampa won't stop them from trying to get out their message that America's middle class is in trouble and needs to be restored.

Giant blocks of ice spelling out the words "middle class" were melting on a warm, sticky, rainy day. Occupy protesters it represents the melting away of the middle class.

That message rings true for 52-year-old Tom Gaurapp and Cheryl Landecker from Freeport, Ill. Both worked for Sensata Technologies, owned by Bain Capital, in the city of some 25,000 people. They say 170 jobs there, including their own, were outsourced to China. Occupy protesters are often made up of younger people who generally believe the financial system is stacked against the majority. But in Tampa, many older people joined the marchers.

They included Gaurapp and Landecker, who said that just a few years ago, they never would have considered joining such a protest.

"But then again, we wouldn't have dreamed our jobs would have gone to China," Gaurapp said.


Afghanistan says sources confirm militant commander Badruddin Haqqani has been killed

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The son of the founder of the powerful Haqqani network was been killed in an airstrike in Pakistan, Afghanistan's intelligence agency said Sunday, providing the first public confirmation of rumors that have been swirling for days about the key member of a militant group the U.S. considers one of the most dangerous in the region.

The Taliban rejected reports of Badruddin Haqqani's death, however, saying that he was alive and well in Afghanistan.

Haqqani's death would be a serious blow to the organization founded by his father, Jalaluddin Haqqani. The group, which has ties to both the Taliban and al-Qaida, has been blamed for a series of high-profile attacks and kidnappings in Afghanistan, particularly in and around the capital city of Kabul, and poses perhaps the biggest threat to stability in the country.

Shafiqullah Tahiri, the spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security intelligence agency, said Haqqani was killed last week in an airstrike in Pakistan. He did not provide any further details, and would not say what information the agency's operatives were basing their conclusion on.

U.S. officials have declined comment on the reports.


Apple jurors grappled with complex patent issues that some say should rest with judges

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The youngest juror, a 24-year-old whose favorite court attire was T-shirts bearing names of rock bands, chose a Beatles sweat-shirt for Friday's dramatic unveiling of the $1.05 billion verdict in favor of computer titan Apple Inc. One of the oldest was a retired electrical engineer who, as foreman, signed the unanimous verdict that Samsung Electronics Co. copied Apple's patented technology for the iPhone and iPad. Among the other seven jurors were a homemaker, a bicycle shop manager and a U.S. Navy veteran.

The decision Friday by this panel of people from many walks of Silicon Valley life was one that experts say could dramatically alter the future of computer tablet and phone design if the verdict stands. But the case also is part of a trend that has accompanied an explosion in the number of patent infringement cases, especially in the technology sector.

Increasingly these highly complex disputes are being decided by juries, rather than judges, and the juries tend to issue more generous awards for patent violations.

That has companies on the receiving end of successful patent infringement lawsuits crying foul and calling for reform in the patent system, but it also has some legal experts questioning whether ordinary citizens should be rendering verdicts and fixing damages in such high stakes, highly technical cases.

"That's a great question ... and it's the subject of a fair amount of current debate," said Notre Dame University law professor Mark McKenna.


Neil Armstrong's television exit almost as quiet as his life

NEW YORK (AP) — By the yardstick of history, Neil Armstrong was among the most accomplished men ever to walk on the planet that he looked upon from afar one magical week in July 1969.

Television news didn't seem to fully recognize the importance of the first human to walk on the moon on the weekend he died.

In the hours after Armstrong's death was announced, news networks were airing canned programming — jailhouse documentaries, a rerun interview with Rielle Hunter, Mike Huckabee's weekend show. Menacing satellite pictures of Tropical Storm Isaac had much more air time than Armstrong's dusty hops on the lunar surface. Talk of the upcoming GOP national convention sucked up the air.

A trio of factors played in to the lack of attention.

First, Armstrong died on a Saturday. Not just any Saturday, when news organizations have a skeletal staff, but a late August weekend. Half the country is at the beach. It's not a stretch to think inexperience on duty might have played a role in NBC News' embarrassing gaffe: a website headline that read: "Astronaut Neil Young, first man to walk on the moon, dies at age 82." (NBC called it a staffer error and said the mistake was taken down after seven minutes.)


Every 4 years, more than just politics: a national reunion for looking back, looking ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) — So much can change in four years.

Some 16 million babies have been born in the United States since 2008, the last year the Democrats and Republicans met to anoint their presidential nominees. Kids who were toddlers then are starting kindergarten now; that year's nervous high school freshmen are beginning college or work, or at least anxiously looking for jobs.

Nearly 10 million Americans have died, including political lights Geraldine Ferraro, Betty Ford and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who bade his dramatic convention farewell four years ago.

The Iraq war is over, the war in Afghanistan winding down. Osama bin Laden is dead. Yet Guantanamo Bay still holds 168 terror suspects. And too little has changed in a discouraging economy since 2008.

The political conventions are back to ask again if we, as individuals and a nation, are better off than we were four years ago. That raises the question, where will we be four years from now?