AP News in Brief at 11:58 p.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on August 16, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 16 at 2:00 AM

'No drama Obama'? Romney tries to portray a president seething with animosity, divisiveness

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Mitt Romney is portraying the outwardly calm President Barack Obama as a man seething with animosity and power lust as the Republicans seek to undermine one of the Democrat's greatest campaign strengths — his personal likability.

The president's re-election effort, Romney said Wednesday, "is all about division and attack and hatred." Obama, Romney added later while campaigning in Charlotte, is an angry man who "will do or say anything to get elected."

Whether by calculation or not, Obama highlighted his most genial side as he campaigned in Iowa, joking with voters about the pleasures of state fair junk food, and joshing with his wife, who made a rare campaign appearance with him.

"It all boils down to who you are and what you stand for," Michelle Obama told Iowans in Dubuque, on the final leg of the president's three-day bus tour of that toss-up state. "We all know who my husband is, don't we? And we all know what he stands for."

With polls showing Obama with a slight lead, Romney is focused on the "likability gap" that is evident in surveys that consistently show Obama ranking higher on general favorability questions than on handling the economy, which until now has been the Republican's chief focus. Romney's approach also comes as he and his running mate, congressional budget writer Paul Ryan, face increasing questions on a touchy economic issue for many Americans: their stance on Medicare.

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Young illegal immigrants line up to for 1st chance to work legally in US in new Obama program

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Nathaly Uribe has all the papers she needs to get a work permit — something the 17-year-old daughter of a construction worker only dreamed of growing up as an illegal immigrant in the United States.

The high school senior said she hopes a federal program beginning Wednesday that defers deportation for illegal immigrants will make it easier to get a decent job and help pay for college.

"This is my country. It's where my roots are," said Uribe, who moved from Chile when she was a toddler and lives in Glen Burnie, Md. "It feels great to know that the country that I call home is finally accepting me."

Thousands of young illegal immigrants lined up Wednesday hoping for the right to work legally in America without being deported. The Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals could expand the rights of more than 1 million young illegal immigrants by giving them work permits, though they would not obtain legal residency here or a path to citizenship.

At least 13,000 people stood in line in Chicago, clutching reams of paperwork, for a workshop led by immigrant rights advocates at the city's Navy Pier. Hundreds of potential applicants waited outside nonprofit offices in Los Angeles for help filing paperwork to open the door to the staples of success in America — a work permit, and then later a Social Security number and driver's license.

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US recovery is weakest since World War II; high unemployment, slack growth, feeble spending

WASHINGTON (AP) — The recession that ended three years ago this summer has been followed by the feeblest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

Since World War II, 10 U.S. recessions have been followed by a recovery that lasted at least three years. An Associated Press analysis shows that by just about any measure, the one that began in June 2009 is the weakest.

The ugliness goes well beyond unemployment, which at 8.3 percent is the highest this long after a recession ended.

Economic growth has never been weaker in a postwar recovery. Consumer spending has never been so slack. Only once has job growth been slower.

More than in any other post-World War II recovery, people who have jobs are hurting: Their paychecks have fallen behind inflation.

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Britain warns Ecuador on eve of Assange asylum decision, Quito bristles at 'threat'

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuador accused Britain on Wednesday of threatening to storm its London embassy to arrest Julian Assange after the U.K. issued a stern warning to the South American nation ahead of its decision on an asylum bid by the WikiLeaks founder.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Britain had earlier in the day issued "a written threat that it could assault our embassy" if Assange is not handed over.

Patino also said he would announce on Thursday morning whether Ecuador would grant the request of the secret-spilling former Australian hacker, who took refuge in Ecuador's embassy on June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden. Assange faces questioning there for alleged sexual misconduct.

As news broke of the warning, police were seen reinforcing Scotland Yard's presence outside the embassy in a tony London neighborhood near the Harrods department store.

In Quito, about 30 people yelling "England, what part don't you understand, we are sovereign!" protested outside the British Embassy, and briefly trampled a British flag.

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APNewsBreak: Army general facing possible demotion for lavish travel, hotel spending

WASHINGTON (AP) — A four-star Army general who was the first head of the new U.S. Africa Command is under investigation and facing possible demotion for allegedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars improperly on lavish travel, hotels and other items, The Associated Press has learned.

Gen. William "Kip" Ward has been under investigation for about 17 months, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to make a final decision on the matter before the end of the month, according to several defense officials.

The defense officials said Ward is facing numerous allegations that he spent several hundred thousand dollars allowing unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes, and spent excessive amounts of money on hotel rooms, transportation and other expenses when he traveled as head of Africa Command.

A four-star general is the highest rank in the Army.

While the exact amount of alleged misspending was not disclosed, the estimated total raises comparisons with the $823,000 allegedly spent by dozens of employees of the General Services Administration, who were accused of lavish spending during an October 2010 conference at a Las Vegas resort.

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Syrian warplanes bomb rebel-held town, least 20 killed; UN accuses regime of war crimes

AZAZ, Syria (AP) — Syrian fighter jets screamed through the sky Wednesday over this rebel-held town, dropping bombs that leveled the better part of a poor neighborhood and wounded scores of people, many of them women and children buried under piles of rubble. Activists said more than 20 people were killed.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people died in the double airstrike and more than 200 were wounded. Mohammed Nour, a local activist reached by phone, put the death toll at 25. Neither figure could be independently confirmed.

Reporters from The Associated Press saw nine dead bodies in the bombings' immediate aftermath, including a baby.

The bombings sent panicked civilians fleeing for cover. So many were wounded that the local hospital locked its doors, directing residents to drive to the nearby Turkish border so the injured could be treated on the other side. One person's remains were bundled into a small satchel.

A group of young men found a man buried in the wreckage of destroyed homes, his clothes torn and his limbs dirty, but still alive.

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Romney running mate Paul Ryan says Republican ticket 'will win this debate' on Medicare

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) — Facing what is emerging as a defining issue, Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan on Wednesday invited debate over his controversial proposal to overhaul Medicare and predicted the GOP would win the argument.

"We want this debate. We need this debate. And we will win this debate," Ryan told hundreds of supporters gathered on the campus of his alma mater, Ohio's Miami University.

Romney named Ryan, a seven-term Wisconsin congressman, as his running mate on Saturday. Since then, Democrats have pounced on the plan he authored as House Budget Committee chairman to transform the popular health care system for seniors.

Over the past week, however, Ryan did not directly address the intensifying criticism — or even simply say the word "Medicare" during multiple campaign stops across six states. He addressed the issue in a handful of media interviews, but he avoided it while facing voters.

That changed Wednesday, the same day President Barack Obama weighed in as well.

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Law enforcement: Man made negative remark about social conservative group before DC shooting

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Virginia man suspected of shooting and wounding a security guard at the Washington headquarters of a social conservative lobbying group on Wednesday made a negative reference about the organization's work before opening fire, a law enforcement official said.

Police said the man, identified as Floyd Lee Corkins II, entered the front lobby of the Family Research Council in downtown Washington around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, began arguing with a security guard and then shot him in the arm. Corkins, 28, was restrained by the wounded guard and others and was being held Wednesday night on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, the FBI said.

Authorities were interviewing Corkins to determine a reason for the shooting and were canvassing his neighborhood in Herndon, Va., outside Washington. TV news footage showed the suspect, a large man with a shaved head in an unbuttoned striped shirt, being led to a car in hand restraints.

Though authorities did not publicly reveal a motive, advocacy groups across the ideological spectrum condemned the violence, with some casting it as a hate crime. President Barack Obama was concerned about the wellbeing of the guard, a White House spokesman said, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also said he was appalled.

"Today's attack is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end," Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement.

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AP source: Michael J. Fox working on return to series TV with new comedy aimed at 2013 debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael J. Fox is planning a return to series TV, more than a decade after he left to concentrate on fighting Parkinson's disease.

The actor, who first gained fame in the 1980s sitcom "Family Ties" and later headlined "Spin City," will star in a comedy that's in development at Sony Pictures Television for 2013, according to people with knowledge of the project.

The people, who lacked authority to publicly discuss the matter, spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity. The project has drawn strong interest from the major networks, they said.

The actor's publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sony declined comment.

Fox, 51, who starred in the hit "Back to the Future" movie franchise, is working with Will Gluck, director of the film "Easy A," and writer Sam Laybourne, whose credits include "Cougar Town" and "Arrested Development," the people said.

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Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera gets 50-game suspension for positive testosterone test

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Melky Cabrera's MVP-like year is over — at least for the regular season.

The San Francisco outfielder was suspended 50 games Wednesday following a positive test for testosterone, putting an abrupt end to what had been a remarkable regular season and throwing the Giants' playoff hopes into doubt.

"Ultimately, it was just a bad decision," catcher Buster Posey said.

Cabrera leads the National League with 159 hits, and is second in batting average behind Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen. Cabrera's penalty was the first for a high-profile player since last year's NL MVP, Ryan Braun, had his suspension overturned by an arbitrator last winter.

"My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Cabrera said in a statement released by the players' association. "I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down."

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