WASHINGTON (AP) -- Government leaders past and present gathered in Washington to do what they do best about the nation's deficit woes: talk.
At an annual "fiscal summit" Tuesday in a capital city that seems almost comically unable to function, much less take action to trim benefit programs and defense spending or raise taxes to close a crippling budget gap, a crowd of the converted listened to Washington elite: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, former President Bill Clinton, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, members of a failed deficit "supercommittee" and the chairman and top Democrat on the House Banking Committee.
There was universal agreement. The deficit is bad and Washington really, really needs to fix it. Fast.
What was lacking was any agreement on how to do it, and certainly no expectation that the warring tribes in Washington will do anything meaningful to tackle trillion-dollar deficits before the fall elections.
The summit is hosted by Pete Peterson, who has staked $1 billion of his Wall Street fortune on a foundation dedicated to educating the public on the perils of the deficit. Peterson's events tend to attract many of the same people time after time, including a number of people who are full-time, professional deficit hawks like Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Bob Bixby of the Concord Coalition.
"Summits like these ... bring together people who just get it," said Boehner. "Of course, while I'm happy to be here and I'm sure we all enjoy each other's company, we can also agree that we've talked this problem to death. It's about time we roll up our sleeves and get to work."
Each year, the summit features warnings that it's best to take on the deficit immediately, so that future solutions don't have to be as draconian. And there's handwringing every time about the chronic inability of the warring political parties to drop their talking points and take politically painful steps to tackle the nation's $15 trillion-plus national debt.
Since last year's summit, there have been three or four failed attempts at tackling the deficit: talks convened by Vice President Joe Biden; an attempt at a "Grand Bargain" between President Barack Obama and Boehner; the failure of a subsequent deficit "supercommittee" last fall; and the inability of the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Six" last fall to gain much traction.
"I think we're in the post-denial phase of talking about the deficit, both Democrats and Republicans," opined The Wall Street Journal's David Wessel.
"What follows denial?" quipped Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "Anger?"
The crowd was smaller this year - lots of space at tables for a lunch of pan-seared chicken breast on a mirepoix of spring vegetables - and there was a lot of resignation among participants that not much of anything might get done about trillion dollar-plus deficits before the elections in November.
Boehner made the top headline at this year's summit by declaring that when it comes time for Congress to raise the nation's borrowing cap he will again insist on spending cuts and budget reforms exceeding the amount of the debt increase to offset it. He also promised a vote on renewing trillions of dollars in tax cuts passed during the Bush administration, prompting a predictable response from top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California.
"Republicans are once again choosing millionaires over the middle class," Pelosi said in a statement.
That kind of partisanship earns poor reviews from the Peterson conference crowd, where several people lamented the recent primary loss of Indiana Republican Sen. Dick Lugar to a tea party-backed candidate, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who has vowed to come to Washington to fight, not compromise.
"We can't be in a position where one of the negotiating partners says, `That's non-negotiable. Not only will we not raise taxes, we want the Bush tax cuts and we want more tax cuts,'" Clinton told interviewer Tom Brokaw of NBC.
Brokaw, for his part, called out the powerful AARP lobby for senior citizens for being "kind of in your face" to politicians for running an ad reminding them that "we are 50 million seniors who earned our benefits, and you will be hearing from us today and on Election Day." That's the kind of stuff that makes deficit hawks furious.
And there was lots of talk about a "fiscal cliff" that's coming up at the end of the year with the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts and a looming round of automatic spending cuts - called a "sequester" in the budget argot that everybody at the session seemed to take for granted. That led moderators Judy Woodruff of the PBS' "NewsHour" and ABC's George Stephanopoulos to ask panelists like House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., whether there might be some kind of big-time bipartisan budget deal in a post-election "lame duck" session.
Nope. The idea of compromise between politicians who just lost an election and those that just won an election didn't get a lot of traction among the panelists.
Ryan, who's hoping Election Day will bring GOP reinforcements beyond the party's beachhead in the House, suggested instead that there would be a short-term patch to buy time for the new Congress and either a re-elected Obama or Republican President Mitt Romney to work out some sort of agreement.
The summit was opened with an appearance by Geithner, who predicted that the ultimate solution would look a lot like the Obama's deficit commission, co-chaired by Simpson. The commission got lots of praise from members of the deficit industrial complex like Peterson for recommendations like raising taxes and boosting the Medicare retirement age but was mostly shunned as too radioactive by Obama and the Democratic and GOP leadership on Capitol Hill.
The Simpson proposal, in retrospect, looks like a good deal for Obama, since it included $2 trillion in new tax revenues over a decade and shielded the poor from many of its cuts.
Then came Boehner's speech, which promised "broad-based tax reform that lowers rates for individuals and businesses while closing deductions, credits and special carve-outs" but failed to offer up any tax increases along the way.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A New Jersey airport security supervisor accused of using a murdered man's identity to hide his illegal immigrant status apparently bought the man's birth certificate and Social Security number from an intermediary before his death, police said Wednesday.
Police don't consider Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole a suspect in the unsolved murder of Jerry Thomas, who was shot outside a Queens, N.Y., YMCA in 1992. But they shed some light on how the 55-year-old Nigerian allegedly assumed Thomas' identity and went on to work for 20 years as a guard and then a supervisor for a private security firm at Newark Liberty International Airport.
New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said investigators believe Thomas sold his identification documents to a Nigerian cab driver, who then sold them to Oyewole. Authorities have said Oyewole began using his new identity about three weeks before Thomas was shot on July 20, 1992.
Oyewole pleaded not guilty in Newark municipal court Tuesday to an identity theft charge that carries a 10-year maximum prison sentence. He also faces deportation.
The revelation that Oyewole had access to highly sensitive areas of the airport reverberated all the way to Washington, D.C., Wednesday where the House Homeland Security Committee held a previously scheduled oversight hearing on airport security breaches and grilled officials from the Transportation Security Administration, the agency charged with securing the nation's airports.
In an audit by the TSA's Office of Inspector General published Monday, coincidentally the day Oyewole was arrested, investigators found an example of an airport worker who held security badges for three airports - each with a different birthplace listed.
John Sammon, assistant administrator for the TSA's Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement, told lawmakers that the agency has been working on new rules that will increase identification and criminal history checks, but that even those might not have been able to detect a case like Oyewole's.
"Right now the system still has gaps, and that's what this rulemaking is for," Sammon said.
Oyewole was not hired by the TSA, which was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The private security firm that employed him most recently, FJC Security Services, is overseen by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the New York area's three major airports.
Port Authority officials said they planned to meet with FJC officials to discuss re-screening employees on a regular basis.
Oyewole's ability to take Jerry Thomas' identity and obtain a job with a high security clearance suggests that the Social Security Administration was never notified of Thomas' death. Had it been, anyone using his Social Security number likely would have been discovered.
Notification is usually made by a family member and sometimes by a funeral home, according to Kevin Barrows, a former FBI agent specializing in identity fraud who now conducts corporate fraud investigations for a private company. It is generally not the responsibility of law enforcement, he said.
"Typically there's someone, usually a family member who's going to stand to gain the Social Security benefits from the deceased, so they'll have an incentive to report it," Barrows said. "Where it falls through the cracks is if you're a loner and you have no wife, or no one who has that responsibility."
That description appears to fit Thomas, who has been characterized by authorities as a drifter with few known ties at the time of his death.
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) -- From his prison cell, a senior Pakistani officer accused of plotting with a shadowy Islamist organization to take over the military released his political manifesto: His call was for the army to sever its anti-terror alliance with the United States, which he contends is forcing Pakistan to fight its own people.
"This may help us redeem some of our lost dignity and we badly need that," Brig. Ali Khan writes in the six-page document obtained by The Associated Press. The U.S., he says, might retaliate by cutting military and economic aid, but "do they not always do this at will? ... Our fears that the heavens will fall must be laid to rest."
The manifesto reveals the ideological underpinnings of the most senior Pakistani military officer detained for alleged ties to Islamist extremists.
The accusations against Khan go to the heart of a major Western fear about Pakistan: that its army could tilt toward Islamic extremism or that a cabal of hardline officers could seize the country's most powerful institution, possibly with the help of al-Qaida or associated groups like the Pakistani Taliban. Pakistani leaders dismiss such worries as ungrounded.
Details of the case, made public for the first time by The AP, point to efforts by some Islamist groups to recruit within Pakistan's military, though their success appears mixed. They also give a rare look into the discontent among some in the military over the rocky relationship with the United States, currently on hold after American airstrikes killed 24 Pakistani border troops in November.
Khan, who was arrested a year ago, faces charges of conspiring with four other officers and a British member of Hizb ut-Tahrir to recruit officers to the group including the commander of the army's 111 Brigade, which covers the capital and has been historically linked to army coups.
One witness at his ongoing court-martial said Khan discussed sending an F-16 jet crashing into the army headquarters, though that allegation has been withdrawn, according to Khan's lawyer Inam-ul-Rahiem. Pakistan's army declined to comment on the trial, which is supposed to be secret.
Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Pakistan and several other Muslim countries, professes non-violence and is not connected to terrorist groups like the Pakistani Taliban or al-Qaida. But the outfit makes no secret of its desire to penetrate the armies of Muslim countries, particularly Pakistan, and foment an "Islamic coup" to establish a global "caliphate."
In interviews, Khan's family and two of his army colleagues insisted he was innocent and has been targeted because of a falling out with senior officers and his political views - particularly his stance against the alliance with the U.S. Khan's lawyer has denied the charges and says no concrete evidence has been presented at the trial.
But one of the colleagues said Khan did meet with members of Hizb ut-Tahrir and tried to enlist other officers, though the colleague played down the importance of the contacts.
"He was easy prey," said the colleague, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was worried about prejudicing the case. "He walked into a trap. He was fed up with the government and (army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez) Kayani."
But he said Khan walked away from the group when it was clear his fellow officers were not interested in joining. The colleague said that he himself had also been approached by Hizb ut-Tahrir, via a cousin, but had turned them down.
"Our brother is honest and outspoken," said Khan's younger brother Bashir Ahmed. "He may have spoken against higher authorities and they don't like people to speak that way. That's why they are holding him."
At a meeting with other officers days after the May 2, 2011, raid by U.S. commandos that killed Osama bin Laden, Khan spoke out against the operation, which he and others on the forces considered a national humiliation.
Khan was arrested on May 5 and his manifesto presents himself as a "victim" of the bin Laden raid.
His lawyer, Rahiem, sought to submit the tract to a government commission investigating the bin Laden incident, but it was rejected. Some of the passages were included in a letter he sent to Gen. Kayani some time before his arrest, Rahiem said.
The manifesto doesn't call for an armed insurrection, support Islamic militancy or mention Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Rather, it is a refutation of Pakistan army's alliance with Washington, along the lines of what is often espoused by right-wing, Islamist Pakistanis. It buttresses its arguments with conspiracy theories, including that the United States was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In Afghanistan, he recommends a U.N. force of mostly Muslim nations to replace the current U.S.-led one.
Pakistan's army has has long portrayed itself as a bulwark against extremism, even as it has to sought to harness militants to fight for its interests in Afghanistan and India. While many officers are secular or irreligious, a growing number are thought to have embraced a more conservative form of Islam over the last 10 years, like the country they are drawn from.
Khan was known to be a conservative Muslim. At army staff college, he had the nickname "Mullah Rocketi" - roughly "rocket cleric" - and was lampooned in a graduation skit as a cleric, said one of his colleagues.
At the same time, anti-Americanism has been rising, fueled by anger at U.S drone strikes in the tribal regions, the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor in 2011 and the U.S. border post attack in November.
Some soldiers and officers have carried out occasional, but serious, terrorist attacks against the institution they once served. Militant sieges against army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009 and against a navy base in Karachi weeks after the bin Laden raid are both alleged to have had inside help.
The 600,000-member army releases little data on its enrollment or makeup, so its hard to say whether it is undergoing Islamization. A study last year on what limited data found no evidence the force was recruiting disproportionately from conservative areas of the country.
Lt. Gen. Khalid Rabbani, who commands 150,000 troops in the northwest leading the fight against militancy, scoffed at the notion his men could become attracted to extremism. "This is absolute rubbish, leaps and bounds away from reality," he said. "We are as disciplined a force as the British or American or any other first class army in the world."
Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country teeming with disgruntled Muslims, is a strategic priority for Hizb ut-Tahir, ex-members and analysts said.
A Britain-based spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is strong among British Pakistanis, declined comment on Khan. But he said the group has recruited officers and would continue to do so.
"We call on the people in the armed forces to use their authority and fulfill their Islamic duty of stopping the political and military leaderships' transgressions," Taji Mustafa said in an email.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Hoping to lure viewers with laughs, struggling NBC is calling on old friend Matthew Perry to lend a hand.
The TV network unveiled a fall schedule on Sunday that has 10 sitcoms, double the number of dramas it will air. Comedy is being added to two nights, Tuesday and Friday. All the low-rated but critically-acclaimed Thursday comedies earned renewals, although "Community" will move to Fridays.
Four of the comedies are new, including "Go On," starring former "Friends" actor Perry as a fast-talking, sarcastic sportscaster who loses his wife in a car accident.
"It is heavy on comedy," said Robert Greenblatt, NBC entertainment president. "It was a conscious decision we made ... at the beginning of the development season. The audience is really open to comedy right now."
NBC is finding a new generation of fans discovering Perry's Chandler character through "Friends" reruns, and that contributed to "Go On" having broad appeal in audience testing, Greenblatt said. NBC gave the comedy one of its few plum time slots, after the second night of "The Voice" on Tuesdays.
In an annual ritual, all the broadcast networks present their fall schedules to advertisers this week and ask them to commit to millions of dollars in commercial time.
Fourth place NBC is in a prolonged slump. Its prime-time viewership was up slightly this year, but only because NBC telecast the Super Bowl. Take that game out and viewership was down 3 percent, according to the Nielsen company. Sunday night football in the fall is the network's most popular programming.
Among the shows canceled by NBC are "Harry's Law," "Awake," "Are You There, Chelsea?" and "Bent."
"Harry's Law" was one of NBC's more popular shows, but executives said it fell victim to a deadly malady in network TV: Its audience was too old.
One show on the bubble was Brian Williams' newsmagazine, "Rock Center," but it is on the fall schedule for Thursday nights at 10 p.m. Greenblatt conceded the show's ratings are not what NBC hoped for, but said such shows frequently take time to catch on.
"Smash" was renewed, although the series about putting on a Broadway production will not be back until midseason. "The Voice" currently airs two nights a week toward the end of the singing competition; starting in fall it will air two nights throughout each run.
Two of the current Thursday comedies, "30 Rock" and "Community," have orders of only 13 episodes next season, often a sign that executives are hedging their bets. "The Office" and "Parks & Recreation" have full-season orders. Despite reports that some of those shows have been told it will be their last season, Greenblatt said that wasn't true and they could have longer lives if ratings improve.
"The audience gets a vote," said Ted Harbert, chairman of NBC Broadcasting.
NBC's challenge is getting audiences to sample some of the four new comedies and two new dramas it will introduce this fall, when they are out of the habit of watching NBC. Three new comedies, three new dramas and four new alternative series were ordered and will join the lineup sometime in midseason.
Betty White's "Off Their Rockers" candid camera show will also return midseason.
Between the Olympics and "America's Got Talent," NBC has more original programming on during the summer than its rivals, and Greenblatt said that the network hopes viewers are enticed by promotions for the new shows.
Besides "Go On," the new NBC shows on in the fall are:
-"The New Normal," about a gay couple that invites a surrogate mother into their home as they try to have a baby. Ellen Barkin is featured as the prospective mom's grandmother.
-"Animal Practice," a comedy about a veterinarian who learns his ex-lover is taking over his business.
-"Guys With Kids," a comedy executive produced by Jimmy Fallon. The show is what it sounds like: three guys in their 30s trying to hold onto their youth despite being new fathers. Jamie Lynn Sigler of "The Sopranos" and Tempestt Bledsoe of "The Cosby Show," are featured.
-"Revolution," a J.J. Abrams action series where the world is plunged back into a time when electricity doesn't work.
-"Chicago Fire," a drama about a fire rescue unit from "Law & Order" executive producer Dick Wolf.
Midseason shows include a comedy about a president and first lady played by Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman, a comedy with Dane Cook as a foulmouthed DJ forced to share his microphone with a feminist and a drama about Hannibal Lecter.
NEW YORK (AP) -- President Barack Obama has seen an uptick in fundraising since he announced his shift on gay marriage, with some Democratic rainmakers citing renewed interest from gay and lesbian donors who had been urging the president to clarify his stance on the divisive social issue.
"The phone calls went on until one in the morning after the president spoke - people calling saying `Where do I go, what can I do to help, what events are coming up,'" said Robert Zimmerman, a Long Island, N.Y., Obama bundler. "People I've been seeking out for campaign support for months have been calling me saying, `I'm ready to give.'"
Obama's campaign has declined to say how much it has collected since the announcement but some staffers have asked supporters to give money as a way of expressing their approval. Following the Obama interview with ABC News, Rufus Gifford, Obama's national finance director, said in a posting to the campaign website that "if you're proud of our president, this is a great time to make a donation to the campaign."
Chad Griffin, an Obama bundler and incoming president of the gay advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said most prominent gay donors had been supporting Obama all along despite his reluctance to champion gay marriage. Most had already given the maximum contribution to his campaign, Griffin said. But he said Obama's announcement had boosted enthusiasm among many gay donors.
"There was a tad bit of uncomfortableness because of his position on marriage, even though most people saw where he was headed," Griffin said. "The thing he did (Wednesday) cleared any uncomfortableness anyone had."
Obama said Wednesday he supported gay marriage, marking a shift in his personal view on the issue after once opposing it and saying more recently that his views were "evolving."
Even before the gay marriage news, Obama has long stressed his commitment to gay rights. The president repealed the military's 18-year-old ban on openly gay service members, called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and instructed the Justice Department last year to stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
Some gay rights advocates have pressed Obama to sign an executive order barring discrimination against gays and lesbians who work for companies with federal contracts.
Obama was attending a New York fundraiser Monday with gay and lesbian donors hosted by singer Ricky Martin, his first fundraising event with gay supporters since his announcement. The president is scheduled to attend a major fundraiser with gay supporters in Los Angeles on June 6, with tickets priced as high as $25,000 per couple. Griffin, who is co-hosting the event, said he was confident it would sell out.
At least one leading gay activist has said he will attend the June 6 event after pledging to withhold support for Obama if the president did not embrace gay marriage.
Lance Black, and Academy Award-winning screenwriter based in Los Angeles, penned a column in the Hollywood Reporter last month saying he would not contribute to or vote for Obama and urged other gay activists to withhold support as well. Obama's statement Wednesday changed his mind, Black said.
Now I can do all I can to help him financially. I am going to go big, and I'm not alone there," Black said. "He blew me away (Wednesday). I walked around for the first time in three years thinking, `Yes we can.'"
In Europe, where more than 200,000 people thronged a Berlin rally in 2008 to hear Barack Obama speak, there's disappointment that he hasn't kept his promise to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, and perceptions that he's shunting blame for the financial crisis across the Atlantic.
In Mogadishu, a former teacher wishes he had sent more economic assistance and fewer armed drones to fix Somalia's problems. And many in the Middle East wonder what became of Obama's vow, in a landmark 2009 speech at the University of Cairo, to forge a closer relationship with the Muslim world.
In a world weary of war and economic crises, and concerned about global climate change, the consensus is that Obama has not lived up to the lofty expectations that surrounded his 2008 election and Nobel Peace Prize a year later. Many in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America were also taken aback by his support for gay marriage, a taboo subject among religious conservatives.
But the Democrat still enjoys broad international support. In large part, it's because of unfavorable memories of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, and many people would still prefer Obama over his presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
"We all had high hopes for him," said Filomena Cunha, an office worker in Lisbon, Portugal, who said she's struggling to make ends meet. "But then things got bad and there's not much he can do for us over here."
Obama's rock-star-like reception at Berlin's Victory Column in the summer of 2008 was a high point of a wildly successful European campaign tour. The thawing of a harsh anti-Americanism that had thrived in Europe was as much a reaction to the Bush years as it was an embrace of the presidential hopeful.
Those high European expectations have turned into disappointment, largely because of the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and Obama's failure to close Guantanamo Bay in the face of vehement congressional opposition.
Foreign policy expert Josef Braml, who analyzes the U.S. for the German Council on Foreign Relations, said many Germans give Obama too much of the blame because they don't understand the limits of his powers.
"There's a lack of understanding both of how the system of checks and balances works - or doesn't work any longer - and a lack of understanding of how big the socio-economic problems in the United States are, which cause the gridlock," Braml said in a telephone call from Greece, where he was on vacation.
Obama's views on Europe's financial crisis also have rankled some on the continent. In September, he said the crisis was "scaring the world" and that steps taken by European nations to stem the eurozone debt problem "haven't been as quick as they need to be."
The Obama administration describes the eurozone crisis as a European problem that needs a European solution. The U.S. and Canada last month refused to participate in boosting the International Monetary Fund's financial resources to manage the crisis.
"I think people see through his game to put the blame on Europeans - I think Germans and Europeans still know where the economic crisis had its beginning," Braml said. "That's just finger-pointing, not doing a fair analysis of the dire situation in the U.S., but I can understand Obama is doing that because he wants to get re-elected so they need to shift blame around on the Republicans or the Europeans."
Mehmet Yegin, a specialist in Turkish-American relations at USAK, the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization, said Europe still sees Obama as superior to Romney, "because they primarily evaluate Romney as a Republican and their memories about George W. Bush linger."
Many in the Mideast also would like to see Obama win a second term, though they feel he has not lived up to his Cairo speech, in which he extended a hand to the Islamic world by calling for an end to the cycle of suspicion and discord.
Obama has been the U.S. president "least involved in the Palestinian issue," said Mohammed Ishtayeh, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"We were very optimistic when Obama was elected. He talked in his meeting with us without looking into his notes; that tells how much he knows about our issue," he said.
But since Obama made his Cairo speech, Ishtayeh added, "he found his hands tied and couldn't make much progress."
The Palestinians have refused to conduct peace talks while Israel continues to expand its settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem - areas claimed by the Palestinians. Officials have quietly given up hope for any sort of breakthrough until after the presidential election.
Obama also has a strained relationship with Israel, where Bush was popular. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been cool to one another in their handful of meetings. Obama's Mideast envoy, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, made no progress during two years of frequent meetings with both sides before quitting last year.
Despite the chilly relations between Obama and Netanyahu, overall ties between the allies remain strong. The U.S. has backed Israel on several key occasions at the United Nations, for instance, helping block a Palestinian attempt to join the world body last year without a peace deal and fending off attempts by other countries to charge Israel with human rights abuses.
"Concerning Israel, he has proved that he is not absolutely rigid but is willing to reconsider when confronted with facts that he would not have expected," said Avraham Diskin, a political scientist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University.
"He began very inexperienced on all fronts, but he is a very intelligent person and Israelis see that," Diskin added.
In Iraq, site of the war that fed much of the international community's dislike of Bush, Obama has received some credit for pulling out combat forces last year.
"President Obama has removed so much of the cowboy image of America that has been imprinted in the mentality of Iraqis by Bush," Baghdad lawyer Raad Mehsin said.
But Carawan Ahmed, a high school teacher in Iraq's northern Kurdish capital of Irbil, said Obama has ignored the Kurdish minority, which continues to struggle against the Shiite-dominated government.
"When Democrats, including Obama, are in power, we lose the sympathy and support from America. To be frank, the Republicans protected the Kurdish people, while Obama's administration is not," Ahmed said.
In Mogadishu, former schoolteacher Fadumo Hussein retains a shaken support for Obama, but disapproves of the mounting casualties from U.S. drone attacks on Somalia's al-Qaida-linked insurgency while the country's humanitarian need is neglected.
"He only sent drones, not enough assistance," Hussein said. "We don't need bombs, but other means of assistance."
Obama remains popular in Japan, one of the United States' closest allies, though that may be a matter of style over substance, said Koichi Nakano, political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo.
"The Japanese like Obama. Maybe they don't know all that much about him, but I guess he continues to be seen as a youthful, energetic, charismatic leader," he said.
America's stature has taken a hit in Japan since the 2008 financial meltdown, which highlighted the excesses of U.S.-style capitalism to many Japanese. They also fret about the increased attention Washington is giving China, which supplanted Japan as the world's second-largest economy.
While still widely admired in Japan, the U.S. "comes across as a more divided country and less self-confident, more concerned about its social harmony and less about the outside world," Nakano said. That's translated into "a general perception that Obama may not be that interested in foreign policy, period."
Obama, however, has tried to build on America's connections to Asia as authoritarian China grows. Adam Lockyer, a lecturer at Sydney University's U.S. Studies Center, said those efforts have been received more warmly in Australia because of who is in charge.
During a visit last year in which he received an overwhelmingly popular reception, Obama announced that up to 2,500 U.S. Marines will be stationed in Australia's north for joint training exercises. Australian government fears of a public backlash were never realized.
"The fact that Obama himself was making the announcement of U.S. troops in Australia quelled a lot of fears," Lockyer said. If Bush had made it, he said, "there would have been a lot more hostility."
"Democrat presidents tend to be a little bit more hesitant to define the world as good and evil, which tends to be more attractive to Australian ears," he said.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sunscreen confusion won't be over before summer after all. The government is bowing to industry requests for more time to make clear how much protection their lotions really offer.
The Food and Drug Administration ordered changes to sunscreens last summer but gave their makers a year - until this June - to get revised bottles on the shelf.
The changes aimed to finally distinguish which brands protected against both sunburn-causing ultraviolet B rays and the deeper-penetrating ultraviolet A linked to skin cancer and premature aging. They also couldn't claim to be waterproof or sweatproof, only water- or sweat-resistant - so that people know sunscreens have to be reapplied frequently.
But sunscreen manufacturers said they were having a hard time meeting the deadline. And Friday, the FDA said it would give major sunscreen makers another six months to make the changes - until December, beyond sunbathing season in most of the country. Smaller companies will have even longer, until December 2013.
"The FDA took a major step backwards today and as a result, more consumers will likely get burned this summer," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who had long urged the FDA to tighten its regulation of sunscreens. The regulations had been in limbo for years.
But FDA officials worried that holding companies to the original deadline might lead to a temporary shortage of some types of sunscreen this summer, spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said in an email.
Still, the FDA said companies could go ahead and put the new relabeled bottles on store shelves as soon as they're ready - and encouraged them not to waste time.
There is a mix already in stores, as some companies have found it easier to re-label certain brands and bottles than others, said Farah Ahmed of the industry's Personal Care Products Council.
But neither she nor the FDA could estimate how many of the new consumer-friendly sunscreens have made it to the market so far.
Ahmed, who chairs the council's sunscreen task force, said sunscreens aren't having to be reformulated as a result of new testing requirements from the FDA's pending rules. The real problem was the time it takes to revise package labeling, especially on smaller packages that now will have to fit extra information about just what protection is offered, she said.
So what should consumers look for today?
-You want protection against both UVA and UVB rays, explained Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Once the new rules are in place, any sunscreen labeled "broad spectrum" will offer both, but until then, there's no guarantee behind that wording.
To check for UVA protection now, look on the ingredient list for any of these names: zinc, titanium, avobenzone or ecamsule. Zeichner said.
-Once the new rules are in place, sunscreens with less than an SPF of 15 or that aren't "broad spectrum" will have to carry a warning label: "This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."
-Zeichner advises using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
-If it still says "waterproof," it was bottled under the old rules. Once the new rules are in place, the sunscreens will have to say how long they're water-resistant.
-A good rule of thumb is to apply about a shot-glass full of sunscreen and to reapply often, Zeichner said
And experts say to avoid direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. or to cover up. Even if you're conscientious about sunscreen, it's easy to miss a spot.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Postal Service is banning international shipments of electronics with lithium batteries such as smartphones, laptops and iPads, citing the risk of fire.
Beginning Wednesday, consumers may no longer make the shipments, including to army and diplomatic post offices. That means friends and family will have to use more expensive private companies such as UPS and FedEx to ship electronics to U.S. troops based abroad.
The Postal Service cited discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Universal Postal Union. They issue semi-binding guidelines for global trade.
Officials expect that U.S. consumers can resume shipments in most cases after Jan. 1, once the agency develops a new policy "consistent with international standards."
Lithium batteries are believed to have caused at least two fires on cargo planes since 2006.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Harry Potter has joined the Kindle lending library.
Amazon.com announced Thursday that on June 19, the e-book editions of J.K. Rowling's seven Potter novels will become part of the Kindle service available to Amazon Prime subscribers. Members can download a book for free once a month. Amazon's library has more than 145,000 books.
Financial terms were not disclosed for the online retailer's "licensing agreement" with Rowling.
Rowling only recently permitted e-books of the Potter series and has been offering them through her own Pottermore website. The e-books on the Kindle will be available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- An inferno at a three-story clothing store in the southern Philippines early Wednesday killed 17 employees, all women who were sleeping on the top floor, police said.
Three women managed to dash out of a burning room and groped their way down three floors in darkness but found that the main steel door in the building in downtown Butuan city was locked, police investigator Jonathan Basil said.
Bystanders used a hydraulic car jack to pry open the gate and pulled the three screaming women out from the burning lobby, Basil said.
"The women kept on pounding the hot steel gate while yelling for help," Basil told The Associated Press by telephone, adding that the employee who kept the door key perished in the room upstairs.
Mylene Tulo, one of three who escaped, said she woke up as the fire spread rapidly in the third-floor room where they slept. She managed to dash out with two colleagues. All three sustained minor burns on their arms.
"We wanted to rouse others from sleep, but the fire was already too strong," a stunned Tulo said.
Investigators were trying to determine what sparked the fire, which broke out at 3:55 a.m. and raged for five hours, city police chief Pedro Obaldo said.
Many stores in the Philippines allow their employees to sleep over, especially those from faraway homes.
Relatives and friends failed to identify any of the 17 badly burned bodies at a funeral home and were asked to bring dental records or anything that could help authorities establish the identities of the dead.
The building in Agusan del Norte province in the southern Mindanao region was a theater before being turned into a commercial center with several stores, including the Novo Jeans and Shirts, where the victims died.
A lack of firefighting equipment and personnel coupled with safety violations has resulted in major fire disasters in the Philippines, especially in shantytowns. Butuan is a city of more than 300,000 about 790 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of Manila.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil fell Friday after reports that China's economy appears to be slowing down.
China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, reported a sharp decline in both investment and industrial production growth in April. A slowdown in China could push oil consumption - and prices - lower this year.
Benchmark U.S. crude lost 95 cents to finish at $96.13 in New York. Brent crude, which helps set the price for oil imported into the U.S., lost 47 cents to end at $112.26 per barrel in London.
China's National Bureau of Statistics reported that investment in factory equipment and construction didn't grow as much from January to April as it did in the same period last year. Industrial production rose 9.3 percent in April, compared with a 12 percent increase in March.
Analysts said the report was one more sign of a slowdown in the global economy.
Oil prices have declined for the better part of two weeks following weak jobs numbers in the U.S. and political changes in Europe that left plans for economic recovery up in the air.
"China, over the past few years, has been the real bright spot in the global economy," said Gene McGillian, a broker and oil analyst at Tradition Energy. "Now with its economy slowing down, you have to add it to concerns in the U.S. and Europe. It doesn't seem like the recovery so far has really picked up energy demand."
Meanwhile, oil supplies are rising. The Paris-based International Energy Agency said Friday that inventories in developed countries increased by 13.5 million barrels in March, pushing stocks above the five-year average for the first time in a year. IEA also said that increased production in Iraq, Nigeria and Libya helped boost world oil supplies by 600,000 barrels per day in April.
At the pump, U.S. gasoline prices dropped another half-cent to a national average of $3.734 per gallon, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. Gasoline has declined by about 20 cents per gallon since peaking this year on April 6. It's also cheaper than it was a year ago.
In other energy futures trading, heating oil lost 2 cents to finish at $2.9636 per gallon, and wholesale gasoline fell nearly a penny to end at $3.008 per gallon. Natural gas rose 2.2 cents to finish at $2.509 per 1,000 cubic feet.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Deeply divided over the value of austerity measures, Greece's wrangling politicians failed Friday to form a new coalition government, leaving only one more meeting with the country's president before new elections are scheduled for June.
Socialist party leader and former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, the third party leader this week to fail at the task, said he would hand the mandate back to the president on Saturday. The president will then bring all party leaders together in a last-ditch attempt to create a coalition.
Greece has plunged into political turmoil since elections on Sunday gave no party enough seats in Parliament to form a government. Voters furious at two years of harsh austerity measures taken in return for international bailouts worth (EURO)240 billion ($310 billion) rejected Greece's two formerly dominant parties, the socialist PASOK and the conservative New Democracy, in favor of a myriad of smaller parties on the left and right.
The anti-bailout Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras made the most gains, coming in second with 16.8 percent of the vote and 52 seats in the 300-member parliament, campaigning on a pledge to overturn the austerity measures.
Tsipras has refused to join any coalition government that says it will implement the bailout deal.
"The rejection of this plan does not come from Syriza but was given by the Greek people on the night of the election," Tsipras said after no solution was reached in his Friday night meeting with Venizelos. "The bailout austerity has already been denounced by the Greek people with its vote, and no government has the right to enforce it."
The other political leaders insist his policy is irresponsible and will force Greece out of the euro, but also say his party is essential in any power-sharing deal after coming second in the election.
The political instability has alarmed Greece's European creditors and rocked the Athens stock exchange, which closed 4.52 percent down Friday even before news of the failure to reach an agreement broke. The exchange has fallen every day this week except Thursday.
International creditors have warned that the country's international bailout loans and its membership in the 17-nation eurozone could be threatened. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble even suggested the eurozone could deal with an abrupt Greek exit.
"We have learned a lot in the last two years and built in protective mechanisms," Schaeuble told the Rheinische Post newspaper. "The risk of effects on other countries in the eurozone have been reduced and the eurozone as a whole has become more resistant."
Venizelos said he had found common ground in talks with Fotis Kouvelis, head of a small left-wing party, and New Democracy head Antonis Samaras, who won the election with 18.9 percent of the vote, for a broad coalition that would have a two-year mandate and seek to secure Greece's participation in the euro.
But hopes that would work were dealt a blow earlier Friday when Kouvelis said he could not agree to join in a partnership without the support of Tsipras.
Greek President Karolos Papoulias could still manage to break the deadlock, but chances appear slim.
"I hope that during the negotiations chaired by Mr. Papoulias everyone will be more mature and responsible in their thinking," Venizelos said.
Greece has been dependent since May 2010 on rescue loans from other European Union countries that use the euro and the International Monetary Fund. In return, Athens has imposed repeated rounds of spending cuts and tax hikes, leaving the country mired in a fifth year of recession with unemployment above 21 percent.
Tsipras could be looking forward to a new election. One opinion poll showed that his party would likely come first in a new ballot, although with not enough votes to form a government by itself.
The Fitch ratings agency warned that the outcome of the coalition talks or a new election would be critical.
"The election or formation of a Greek government unwilling or unable to abide by the terms of the current EU-IMF program would increase the risk of Greece leaving the eurozone," Fitch said.
The agency said if Greece did leave the euro, it would likely place all 16 remaining euro nations' sovereign ratings on "rating watch negative" - indicating they were in danger of being downgraded.
"A Greek exit would break a fundamental tenet underpinning the euro - that membership of EMU is irrevocable," Fitch said.
EU monetary affairs chief Olli Rehn stressed that Greece's bailout terms were the only way the country could reform its economy.
"Greece systemically lived beyond its means for a decade. ... It is simply not sustainable and therefore Greece has had to take firm action to restore its economic competitiveness and sustainable public finances," he said in Brussels.
DALLAS (AP) -- A judge has given a prison sentence to a fourth Texas man federal officials say was linked to a gun used in a U.S. agent's death in Mexico.
Otilio Osorio was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and other charges relating to a gun-running network. His brother, Ranferi Osorio, received a 10-year prison term for running the network.
The firearms charges are not directly related to last year's death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico. However, federal officials have said that another gun purchased in October 2010 by Otilio Osorio was used in the February 2011 attack on two ICE agents as they drove on a highway near San Luis Potosi in Mexico, killing Zapata and wounding Victor Avila.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) -- Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen temporarily suspended new land concessions to private companies in an effort to ease political pressure over an issue that has triggered social unrest and occasional violence.
The timing of Hun Sen's action seemed to reflect his usual political astuteness, coming less than two weeks after the slaying of a prominent local environmentalist investigating illegal logging turned the spotlight on shady practices involving government land. The April 26 shooting death of Chut Wutty by a military policeman near where a Chinese company is building a hydropower project drew worldwide condemnation.
Monday's directive also came during a visit of a special United Nations envoy on human rights, Surya P. Subedi, who stated that he plans during his weeklong mission to examine the situation of land concessions and "their impact on the human rights of local communities."
Land concessions have been the focus of allegations of land-grabbing by big businessmen tied to corrupt officials and triggered violent clashes when residents were forcefully evicted.
The directive said its purpose was to strengthen the effectiveness of land management and that concessions will be revoked from licensed companies that fail to honor their agreements, such as by illegal logging or reselling the land. It did not say how long the suspension would last.
Such concessions typically involve clearing forest land for plantations to grow cash crops such as rubber, cassava, oil palm and sugar cane.
The Cambodian human rights organization Adhoc reported in March in its annual report that more than 2 million hectares (4.9 million acres) of land, mostly forest, had been granted by the government to 225 companies, foreign and domestic. Up-to-date figures were not available from the government.
Adhoc's report said that the concession land issue was at the center of chronic land disputes.
In one such case in January this year in Kratie province, private guards shot and wounded at least four people in a group of about 100 villagers who were trying to stop bulldozers from destroying their cassava plantation.
Ny Chariya, the chief investigator for Adhoc, said Monday he welcomed Hun Sen's directive as a means of reducing the number of land disputes, but was unsure whether it would be fully implemented.
He said thousands of families had been affected by such land disputes, and as many as 200 displaced people faced legal action for their resistance.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korea has seized thousands of smuggled drug capsules filled with powdered flesh from dead babies, which some people believe can cure disease, officials said Monday.
The capsules were made in northeastern China from babies whose bodies were chopped into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder, the Korea Customs Service said.
Customs officials refused to say where the dead babies came from or who made the capsules, citing possible diplomatic friction with Beijing. Chinese officials ordered an investigation into the production of drugs made from dead fetuses or newborns last year.
The customs office has discovered 35 smuggling attempts since August of about 17,450 capsules disguised as stamina boosters, and some people believe them to be a panacea for disease, the customs service said in a statement. The capsules of human flesh, however, contained bacteria and other harmful ingredients.
The smugglers told customs officials they believed the capsules were ordinary stamina boosters and did not know the ingredients or manufacturing process.
Ethnic Koreans from northeastern China who now live in South Korea were intending to use the capsules themselves or share them with other Korean-Chinese, a customs official said. They were carried in luggage or sent by international mail.
The capsules were all confiscated but no one has been punished because the amount was deemed small and they weren't intended for sale, said the customs official, who requested anonymity, citing department rules.
China's State Food and Drug Administration and its Health Ministry did not immediately respond to questions faxed to them Monday. Chinese media identify northeastern China as the source of such products, especially Jilin province which abuts North Korea.
The Jilin food and drug safety agency is responsible for investigating the trade of such remains there. Calls to the agency and to the information office of Jilin's Communist Party were not answered Monday.
The South Korean customs agency began investigating after receiving a tip a year ago. No sicknesses have been reported from ingesting the capsules.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers have looked like a team with enough talent to win in the playoffs.
After wasting a big lead in Game 4 against the Magic, the Pacers showed they have the late-game toughness to win as well.
George Hill hit a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds left in overtime to help Indiana survive squandering a 19-point fourth quarter lead and beat the Orlando Magic 101-99 on Saturday to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.
David West scored 26 points, including 12 in the third quarter and four in overtime for Indiana. Danny Granger added 21 points.
The Pacers won their third straight game and will try to close out the Eastern Conference series Tuesday in Indianapolis and get out of the opening round for the first time since 2005.
"They did a great job of coming back," said Granger, who returned to the game in the fourth quarter after spraining his right knee in the third. "That was a momentum win. They had a lot of momentum going. We're lucky to get out of here."
Indiana coach Frank Vogel echoed that fortunate feeling, but said he also likes being in the spot his team is in now.
"Yeah, it's a good place to be," he said. "We feel like we can get a win on our home court. It's tough to get a road win anywhere against anyone in the playoffs. To come in here in a tough environment and get two, it just speaks volumes of our guys' resiliency."
Orlando had a final chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but Glen Davis' fade away jumper bounced off the side of the rim.
Jason Richardson led the Magic with 25 points and Davis added 24 points and 11 rebounds.
The Magic now head to Indiana staring at the possibility of their second consecutive first-round postseason exit as they continue their tumble since Dwight Howard's season-ending back surgery late in the regular-season. Including the regular-season, Orlando is 5-11 without the all-star center.
Only eight teams have been able to wipe out 3-1 deficits in NBA history, the last being Phoenix against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006.
"You wish just one of those shots could've dropped because I thought our guys worked really, really hard," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We had some really, really bad stretches in that game, but we kept coming ... We're down 3-1 and it's a matter of mindset and whether you think you're still in the series or not."
The Pacers started the extra period with six straight points, including four by West.
Richardson responded with 3 to make it 95-92 and Jameer Nelson fouled out Roy Hibbert with his three-point play following a Pacers' miss to tie it.
Hill hit two free-throws on the other end to put Indiana back on top, but Davis tied it again with a twisting layup.
After an Indiana timeout, Hill hit a floater from the wing, but Davis again matched it on the Magic's next possession.
The Pacers quickly pushed the ball up the floor and Nelson fouled Hill in the lane to set up his decisive free throws.
Hibbert finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Hill started slow, but was huge down the stretch and ended up with 12.
"I was just determined to try and win," Hill said. "My teammates believed in me, and I got to knock down a couple of big shots. I get to ride my teammates coattails and fill in a little bit."
All five Magic starters reached double figures, with Nelson adding 12 points and Ryan Anderson and Hedo Turkoglu chipping in 11.
"I got a great shot off. Just short," Davis said of his final attempt. "It was on line. It was right there, but it was short. Two inches or one-inch up and we'd probably be playing more overtime right now or celebrating ... It's a fight now. Fight to see another day. Another game. Can't worry about it. Can't let it affect us."
Van Gundy said before the game that he thought he left his starting unit on the floor too long to begin Game 3. He went to the bench for the first time with just over five minutes to go on Saturday.
But Orlando's second unit struggled to provide the same boost it had in the previous three games.
Still, with Anderson starting out with one of his better offensive games of the series, some rejuvenated play by Turkoglu and strong free throw shooting, the Magic were able to keep nipping at the Pacers in the second half and down the stretch
Things got a little testy early in the fourth quarter, when Orlando's J.J Redick picked up a technical foul after a post-play skirmish with Indiana forward Tyler Hansbrough.
There were also a handful of foul calls that the Magic players took issue with and seemed to play into their frustrations as the Pacers built an 82-63 lead.
Orlando wasn't done, though, and used a 14-0 run to cut it to 82-77 with 4:40 to play, prompting the second Pacers' timeout in two-minute stretch.
Richardson nailed a 25-footer to trim it back to five and it was 89-86 after two Davis free-throws.
That was still the score when Redick got free on an out of bounds play and hit a 3 from the wing to tie it with 38.7 left.
A desperation 3-pointer by Hill with the shot winding down resulted in a shot clock violation and gave Orlando the ball with 14.7 showing in the clock, but Nelson's fade away jumper in the lane fell short at the buzzer.
West said after sweating out Saturday's win, they are going back home focused, but mindful that the Magic aren't about the lay down.
"It is hard to win games period," he said. "We will take the win. I thought it was good from the perspective that we made a lot of mistakes ... We were still able to respond and come out of here with a win."
Notes: There was a moment of silence before the game in honor of Visit Orlando CEO Gary Sain, who died Friday at age 61. Sain, a fixture in tourism marketing, was instrumental in helping Orlando host the 2012 NBA All-Star game. ...Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, was in attendance.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Losing the Kentucky Derby was bad enough. Letting down his son was even worse for Bob Baffert.
Bodemeister, the bay colt named after the trainer's 7-year-old son, rocketed to the front Saturday and led by as many as three lengths. But he couldn't hold on in a furiously fast pace as was overtaken by I'll Have Another.
"He was there," Baffert said. "He just got tired."
Baffert broke down, too, when he thought about his son's disappointment, tearing up and walking away in the paddock.
"I was watching my little son, Bode, I feel so bad for him ..." said Baffert, who named his boy after his ski pal, Bode Miller.
The horse had become a Derby favorite when he won the Arkansas Derby by 9 1/2 lengths.
Bodemeister and jockey Mike Smith appeared poised to pull off a wire-to-wire win in Kentucky after taking a lead early and extending it heading into the stretch.
But the fast fractions caught up to him and that pace proved to be his undoing as I'll Have Another ran him down.
"I wasn't going to take away anything that came easy and man, making the lead came awful easy to him," Smith said. "Otherwise, I probably would have chosen to step behind him, but he did it so easy.
"You know, his whole career, which has been short so far, he's been on the lead or right off of it. And now wasn't the time to see if I could take him back and see what happens."
Bodemeister didn't run as a 2-year-old, but proved his mettle with two victories and two second-place finishes. In this one, he set a blistering pace.
"I was really concerned about the fractions - :22, "45, 1:09 - and he was opening on them and nobody is coming," owner Ahmed Zayat said. "How much can you sustain that at a mile and a quarter?"
Not long enough.
It spoiled what was turning into a perfect script for the 59-year-old Baffert's return after he sustained a heart attack in Dubai in March with Bode telling him "goodbye daddy" during his health scare.
Baffert came back with a new outlook, more workouts and better eating habits. The three-time Derby winner said he stopped sweating the small stuff. He beamed about Bodemeister's run even though the horse fell just short.
"I'm just really proud of the way he ran," Baffert said. "I mean, he showed up today. I told Mike Smith, if he breaks well and he feels like running, you can win it. And he did. He just came up a little tired after those splits. But you know what? That's the way he wanted to run and I think it went well."
While Baffert wanted this victory for his son, who said became stressed out during the week, Zayat and Smith wanted a victory for the white-haired trainer who has helped them in the industry.
"This Derby, probably even finishing second meant more to Bob than probably some of the ones he won. He's been through a lot and I was glad that he had me on him," Smith said. "I'm glad that the horse performed extremely well and hopefully we'll go on and do some good.
Zayat insisted he has no regrets after coming so very close before. He has three second-place finishes in the last four years, including when Baffert took Pioneerof the Nile to the race in 2009. It's Baffert's health that remains important to him.
"I want a healthy trainer. He should live for 120 years. I'm very proud of him," Zayat said. "Bob went through a lot."
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- For roughly two decades, Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock toiled in the trenches of the state Republican Party, losing more races than he won. But along the way he made a name for himself among GOP loyalists, tirelessly working the fundraising circuit and building a strong network of ground-level support.
Now Mourdock, a 60-year-old geologist, is on the brink of handing the tea party its biggest victory of the 2012 elections: Sen. Richard Lugar's seat.
Mourdock "is the real deal. He didn't arrive in 2012 and try to develop a platform that would attract conservative voters to him. He attracts conservative voters to him because he's a conservative," said Mike Fichter, president of Indiana Right to Life, who cut his teeth in politics working on Mourdock's first unsuccessful run for Congress in 1988 and has repaid the favor by endorsing him over Lugar.
It was unthinkable just month ago that anyone could topple the six-term Lugar, let alone a little-known state treasurer. But like the marathon runner he is, Mourdock has steadily chipped away at Lugar's base with a successful campaign questioning the senator's residency and conservative credentials.
With the primary election on Tuesday, Mourdock appears to have evened the odds in what began as a David v. Goliath battle. Recent polls show momentum on Mourdock's side, and that has emboldened conservatives eager to shake up Washington.
"If we win here, we are going to win the election," said Josh Eboch, campaign manager for the tea party umbrella group FreedomWorks, as he rallied Mourdock supporters in a heavily Republican Indianapolis suburb on a recent Saturday afternoon.
At first blush, Mourdock seems an unlikely dragon slayer. The two-term state treasurer lacks the dashing presence of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and the fiery rhetoric of tea party standard-bearers like Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh and Florida Rep. Allen West. Before his 2006 election as state treasurer, an office that carries little name recognition, Mourdock's only political experience consisted of two terms as a commissioner in the southern Indiana county that includes Evansville.
But the anti-incumbent sentiment that fueled the tea party's growth in 2010 and an unexpected court fight that thrust Mourdock into the national spotlight may change all that in Indiana, home to one of the nation's most organized tea party movements.
Mourdock, a former coal mining executive who enjoys tinkering with motorcycles and building race cars, has built a reputation as a GOP loyalist since that first run for Congress in 1988. He's a regular at party events ranging from large annual Lincoln Day dinners that are the staple of fundraising to picnics with as few as two people. He's so accustomed to delivering speeches about Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan that he seldom needs notes.
"The first time we had him speak there was very, very little applause, and it was a speech about Abraham Lincoln, and we wondered: `Did it bomb or what?' And then we realized that everyone was so reverent and spellbound that when it was over, it took a while for it to sink in," said Morgan County Republican Party Chairman Marty Weaver.
That helps illustrate the differences between Mourdock and Lugar, whom many county leaders say has ignored their fundraising dinners for years.
But while Mourdock's loyalty has kept him on the party's A-list, it was his role as the keeper of Indiana's bottom line that pushed him to the forefront.
In 2009, Mourdock launched what some saw as a quixotic bid to block the federal bailout of Chrysler, saying it violated bankruptcy law by giving unsecured creditors more than secured creditors, including some Indiana employee pension funds. He lost when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on his objections, but won national recognition from conservatives looking for someone willing to challenge the status quo.
"I would just be another guy from Indianapolis coming to events like this, if it hadn't been for Chrysler," Mourdock told the party faithful during the Morgan County dinner. "Chrysler defined me as the guy from Indianapolis who will take a stand, the guy who will fight for something."
Yet his opposition to the Chrysler bailout is also his biggest weakness with voters who question the $2.8 million tab for legal fees in the case, as well as the threat the challenge posed to the auto industry, a backbone of Indiana's manufacturing-dependent economy.
"The guy was trying to take our jobs away," said Richie Boruff, president of the United Autoworkers Local 685 representing Chrysler workers in Kokomo, Ind. He's asking members to vote for Lugar, whether they're Republican or Democrat.
Even so, there's a sense that Mourdock is on the brink of something big. Even some longtime Lugar supporters are signaling it's time for a change.
"I think sometimes if you're in office too long, you think you become bigger than the office and you no longer represent Indiana. And in that regard, maybe Dick Lugar is an anachronism," said Lawrence County Republican Party Chairman Sam Bond, who first volunteered for Lugar as a student at Purdue University in 1976. Bond said he still respects the senator, but believes Lugar has become engulfed by a system that shuns change.
Hoosiers for Conservative Senate co-founder Monica Boyer said her group of tea party activists spent most of last summer focused on telling voters why Lugar should be kicked out of office, not on who should replace him.
That changed after their nominating convention last September. Mourdock attended; Lugar didn't.
"I went from being anti-Lugar to listening to what (Mourdock) was saying and being excited," Boyer said.
For his part, Mourdock calls Lugar "an absolute gentleman" and says he has voted for him in the past. But he also hopes this is the year that nice guys with long Washington records finish last.
"People at this level, they want to know a guy is going to take the fight for them," Mourdock said. "It's time to have some fight here and not just go along to get along."
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