AP News in Brief at 5:58 p.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on September 6, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 6 at 11:30 PM

Obama speech about more than 1 kind of promise; at stake is job security for him, for all

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — To a nation short on job security, President Barack Obama has his night to protect his own.

Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday will be about promise — the kind he'll say he has kept, and the kind of feeling he wants to stir once more. He will take people back to the start of his presidency to make a case why their lives are better, but his bigger imperative is to sell himself as better for middle-class America than Republican Mitt Romney.

Gone is the newness of the last time he stood up to accept the nomination of his party. Obama, the graying incumbent, will not try to recreate it.

Instead, he will whittle the election down to a choice, spelling out his vision of how to create economic opportunity for all, and warning that Romney would restore trickle-down ideas that Obama says were quietly gutting the economy for years before crashing it completely.

That's the policy part. Obama will also try to summon inspiration again that America is right on the cusp of what it could be.

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FACT CHECK: GOP money machine vs. Dem grass roots? Playing field isn't as skewed as Obama says

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a fact of life in Washington that what one party considers a principled stand, the opposition considers pigheadedness. And that one side's negative ads are branded a dastardly tactic by the other, even as both do it.

When former President Bill Clinton spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, he portrayed President Barack Obama as a pragmatic compromiser who has been stymied at every turn by Republicans. There was no mention of the role that the president and the Democrats have played in grinding compromise to a halt on some of the most important issues facing the country.

And in speaking to supporters via online video Thursday hours before his nomination-acceptance speech, Obama characterized the race as a David and Goliath contest between Democratic grass-roots volunteers and a Republican money-machine churning out negative ads. The advertising arsenals of the Obama campaign and its allies were left out of the equation.

A look at some of the claims from Democrats and Obama in the closing chapter of the convention:

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Not heard or seen in Charlotte: TARP, stimulus, cap and trade

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — They are the missing pages of a convention story line, ideas and initiatives once prominently featured in President Barack Obama's agenda.

Climate change. Economic stimulus. The massive bank bailout known as TARP. The stimulus and the bailout remain politically poisonous while regulatory remedies for climate change have receded as a priority in a poor economy.

All three were central elements of either Obama's last campaign or his first years in office. But at the Democratic National Convention, they don't rate a mention, even as they complement or undergird some of the president's top policy goals: shoring up the economy, reversing a financial crisis and achieving energy independence.

Those are the most obvious pieces wiped away from the Democrats' image-making this week.

Some initial blank spots, however, were ultimately filled.

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Former suburban Chicago police officer Drew Peterson convicted of murdering 3rd wife

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Drew Peterson, the former Illinois police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger wife vanished in 2007, was convicted Thursday of murdering a previous wife in a case centered on secondhand hearsay statements from both women.

Peterson, 58, sat stoically looking straight ahead and did not react as the judge announced jurors had found him guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Her relatives gasped, then hugged each other as they cried quietly.

Illinois has no death penalty, and Peterson now faces a maximum 60-year prison term when sentenced Nov. 26.

The trial was the first of its kind in Illinois history, with prosecutors building their case largely on hearsay thanks to a new law, dubbed "Drew's Law," tailored to Peterson's case. That hearsay, prosecutors had said, would let his third and fourth wives "speak from their graves" through family and friends to convict Peterson.

Hearsay is any information reported by a witness that is not based on the witness' direct knowledge. Defense attorneys said its use at the trial would be central to their appeal.

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Police can't say why it took 8 hours to find British girl alive beneath bodies in French Alps

ANNECY, France (AP) — French authorities struggled Thursday to explain why no one found a 4-year-old girl for eight hours at a blood-strewn crime scene as she huddled in a car under the skirt of a corpse — apparently her dead mother or grandmother.

The stunning discovery Thursday of the girl, apparently unharmed, heightened the drama around a mysterious shooting rampage in the French Alps that left four adults dead and a 7-year-old girl hospitalized after being shot and brutally beaten.

The reason for the slayings remained unclear a day after a cyclist came across the corpses in a wooded area near the mountain village of Chevaline. It took on increasingly international ramifications, with links emerging Thursday tying the slain family to Britain, Iraq and Sweden.

Prosecutor Eric Maillaud said investigators were searching for possible perpetrators and studying all possibilities, including a score-settling attack or simply that the family was "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The bodies of a man and two women were found shot to death in a BMW and the body of an unrelated male French cyclist was found on the ground nearby. Maillaud described a methodical killing, with three victims shot in the head.

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Amazon unveils new Kindle Fires as tablet competition heats up, larger models near iPad size

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Amazon unveiled four new Kindle Fire tablet computers on Thursday, including ones with larger color screens, as the online retailer steps up competition with Apple ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Amazon.com Inc. showed off the larger Kindle Fire amid expectations that Apple Inc. will introduce a smaller iPad as early as next week.

The larger Fires will have screens that measure 8.9 inches diagonally, compared with 9.7 inches for the iPad. The original Fire had 7-inch screens. The basic version of the larger Fire will sell for $299, or $100 less than the cheapest iPad.

"It's very clear today that there are two names in the market for tablets. One is Amazon and one is Apple," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

Seven out of every 10 tablets sold in the second quarter were iPads, according to IHS iSuppli. Tablets using Google's Android operating system have not been able to carve out a significant stake. Amazon is trying to change that with the new Fires, which run a modified version of Android.

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Rally marks Wall Street milestone: Stocks return to levels not seen since start of recession

NEW YORK (AP) — The last time the stock market was this high, the Great Recession had just started, and stocks were pointed toward a headlong descent.

But on Thursday, the market moved swiftly in the other direction. The Dow Jones industrial average hit its highest mark since December 2007, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index soared to its highest level since January 2008 in a rally that seemed destined to mark a milestone: American stocks have come almost all the way back.

A long-anticipated plan to support struggling countries in the European Union provided the necessary jolt, and the gains were extraordinarily broad. All but 13 stocks in the S&P index were up. European markets surged, too.

"There's just a sea of green," said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade's chief derivatives strategist. "It's pretty fun."

At the start of 2008, the U.S. economy was already a month into recession, though most people scarcely knew it at the time. The S&P had recently hit an all-time high, and the unemployment rate was 5 percent, compared with the current 8.3 percent.

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Ready. Set. Go! Texas to open toll road with 85 mph speed limit, the highest in the US

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas will soon open a stretch of highway with the highest speed limit in the country.

The Texas Transportation Commission has approved the 85 mph speed limit for a 41-mile-long toll road near the increasingly crowded Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio.

The road runs several miles east of the interstate between two of the state's largest metropolitan areas. And while some drivers may be eager to put the pedal to the metal and rip through the Central Texas countryside, others are asking if it is safe.

"The research is clear that when speed limits go up, fatalities go up," said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Higher speed limits get people to their destinations faster, Rader said, "But the trade-off is more crashes and more highway deaths."

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NASA leaves a visible mark of accomplishment on Mars; Curiosity's tire tracks seen from orbit

WASHINGTON (AP) — NASA's robotic rover Curiosity is making its mark on Mars, in a way so big that it can be seen from space.

In just one month, it's driven 368 feet on the red planet, slightly more than the length of a football field. Curiosity's slightly zig-zaggy tire tracks were photographed by a NASA satellite circling Mars and also from the rover's rear-facing cameras.

The spacecraft landed on Aug. 5 on a mission to look for ingredients in Martian soil and rocks that could support life.

When the images from the Martian satellite showed the rover tracks, "there was much high-fiving," mission manager Michael Watkins said Thursday. He said engineers were thrilled by the idea that "we left tracks on Mars that we can see from orbit" because it gave them a visible sense of accomplishment.

Other rovers have left tracks on Mars, but not as deep or wide as Curiosity's, Watkins said.

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Rihanna, Taylor, Lil Wayne — all the pieces in place for another memorable Video Music Awards

There may be no baby bump to talk about this year, but given its track record, the MTV Video Music Awards will surely provide some water cooler moments when the show airs Thursday.

Last year, Beyonce set a tweets-per-second record on Twitter when she revealed her pregnancy at the awards. While that's a tough act to follow, there may be other opportunities to keep tongues wagging (and fingers typing).

Nicki Minaj, who recently caused a stir with a rhyme endorsing Republican Mitt Romney for president, has a planned collaboration with a special guest. Green Day is expected to perform despite lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong's trip to an emergency room earlier this week.

And Rihanna is set to kick off the show with A$AP Rocky. Rihanna and Drake are the show's top nominees with five apiece.

It's unclear if Drake will attend. He's pitted against Chris Brown in one category — a noteworthy competition given that earlier this summer, their entourages were involved in a bottle-throwing brawl at a New York nightclub where both were present. The fight left several people injured and sparked lawsuits.

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