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

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Associated Press

Posted on October 9, 2012 at 3:31 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 9 at 3:32 AM

France's Serge Haroche, David Wineland of US win Nobel Prize in physics

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Frenchman Serge Haroche and American David Wineland have won the 2012 Nobel Prize in physics.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited the two scientists Tuesday "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems."

This year's Nobel Prize announcements got under way Monday with the medicine prize going to stem cell pioneers John Gurdon of Britain and Japan's Shinya Yamanaka. Each award is worth 8 million kronor, or about $1.2 million.

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Romney's no-net-decrease tax stand may help him weather public's dim view of Republican Party

SALISBURY, N.C. (AP) — Even with his strong debate performance, Mitt Romney needs every possible advantage to overtake President Barack Obama in the next four weeks. Not helping him much is the Republican Party he leads.

Thanks in part to congressional Republicans' no-compromise stands on key issues, and an unpopular past president in George W. Bush, the GOP's image is at one of its lowest points in modern times. Romney is now distancing himself a bit from some party policies, most notably by emphasizing that he doesn't want to cut taxes for high earners.

That's probably a smart move, say Republican activists in regions where it's getting harder to sell the party's brand.

When talking with unaffiliated voters, "it's more important to sell Romney" than Republican policies, said Jordan McSwain, 19, who makes about 800 phone calls a week for GOP candidates from the central North Carolina town of Salisbury. A lot of undecided voters tell him "the Republicans have stopped all work in Washington," McSwain said, although he reminds them that Democrats controlled Congress for Obama's first two years.

Ten months ago, Americans were fuming over a near crisis in the economy triggered by Congress' partisan showdown over raising the debt ceiling and keeping the government operating. A Pew Research poll found that considerably more adults thought the Republican Party was "more extreme in its positions" than the Democratic Party. They saw the GOP as less ethical and less willing to work with the other party. And more Americans blamed Republican leaders for Congress' paltry list of accomplishments.

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Mexican navy says Zetas cartel founder Heriberto Lazcano apparently killed in confrontation

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Top Zetas drug cartel leader Heriberto Lazcano has apparently been killed in a firefight with marines in the northern border state of Coahuila, the Mexican navy said late Monday.

If confirmed, Lazcano's death would mark a huge victory for Mexican law enforcement, and mark the end of a founder of one of the world's bloodiest cartels.

The navy said there were "strong indications" the body of one of two men killed in the shootout Sunday was Lazcano, known as "El Lazca." But it added that more forensics tests would have to be carried out to confirm the identification.

"Information was obtained after the first forensics tests were carried out that yielded indications that suggest that one of the bodies is Heriberto Lazcano," the navy's statement said.

"The Navy Department is coordinating efforts with Coahuila state, and will be awaiting the conclusions of the forensics examination in the case," the statement said.

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Sandusky faces prospect of long sentence in child sexual abuse case; plans to address judge

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Jerry Sandusky will learn what penalty a judge considers appropriate for the 45 counts of child sexual abuse for which the former Penn State assistant football coach was convicted in June.

The sentencing hearing before Judge John Cleland on Tuesday was scheduled to begin with a ruling on whether or not Sandusky qualifies as a sexually violent predator under Pennsylvania's version of Megan's Law.

Sandusky lawyer Joe Amendola said "it's as certain as certain can be" that Sandusky will address Cleland and assert his innocence before he is sentenced.

"What I anticipate he'll say is he's innocent," Amendola said outside the courthouse Monday afternoon, before a closed-door hearing to iron out logistics and other remaining issues.

Amendola said he did not expect any others to speak on Sandusky's behalf, although friends and family members — including his wife, Dottie — have written letters of support. Dottie Sandusky plans to attend the hearing, he said.

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As Mich. man holds funeral for wife who had meningitis, he, too, wonders if he's infected

DETROIT (AP) — Days after taking his wife off life support, George Cary got a phone call that confirmed his suspicions: Her meningitis-related death was linked to tainted steroid injections at a Michigan clinic that had regularly treated her back pain.

The doctor on the call had more tough news. Cary's own back injections in September may have come from a contaminated batch too.

Cary went to an emergency room last weekend for a spinal tap. The test results aren't in yet, so he is left to wait and say goodbye to his wife, 67-year-old Lilian Cary, at a memorial service Tuesday.

"They advised me to watch for symptoms," Cary, 65, told The Associated Press from a funeral home in Howell, 60 miles northwest of Detroit. "At this point, there's nothing abnormal, but they said the same thing when Lilian had hers. ... Not only have I lost my wife, but I'm watching the clock to see if anything develops."

Michigan has at least 21 cases of meningitis related to steroid shots made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. Those cases include the deaths of Lilian Cary and a 56-year-old woman whose identity and hometown haven't been released by public health officials.

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Austrian hopes to make supersonic skydive over NM if weather permits

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Extreme athlete and skydiver Felix Baumgartner hopes to end five years of preparation with a death-defying 23-mile free fall into the southeastern New Mexico desert Tuesday morning.

Weather permitting, the 43-year-old Austrian will take off in a 55-story, ultra-thin and easy-to-tear helium balloon that will take him into the stratosphere for a jump that he hopes will make him the first skydiver to break the sound barrier and shatter three other world records.

The balloon is set to launch at about 7 a.m. from a field near the airport in a flat dusty town that until now has been best known for a rumored 1947 UFO landing.

After a nearly three-hour descent to 120,000 feet, Baumgartner will take a bunny-style hop from a pressurized capsule into a near-vacuum where there is barely any oxygen to begin what is expected to be the fastest, farthest free fall from the highest-ever manned balloon.

But the former military parachutist can only make the jump if winds are no greater than 2 mph. A cold front already delayed the jump by one day, but his team was optimistic Monday that a break before a second cold front is due to arrive Thursday will give him the opportunity to complete his mission.

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Presidential campaigns seek out new citizen voters, a potentially powerful slice of electorate

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — From Florida to Virginia, Massachusetts to California, candidates and political parties seeking to squeeze every vote from a divided electorate are targeting America's newest citizens. It's a relatively small bloc but one that can be substantial enough to make a difference in razor-close presidential swing states and competitive congressional races.

In Florida, which President Barack Obama won by less than 5 percentage points four years ago, a new analysis of U.S. Census data shows people who naturalized as Americans since 2000 make up 6 percent of the population of voting-age citizens. For months, the Obama campaign has been sending volunteers to citizenship ceremonies to register people and canvassing Miami-area neighborhoods where immigrant families live.

In California, where new citizens comprise nearly 9 percent of potential voters, Republicans hope House candidates Ricky Gill and Abel Maldonado can reach that group by highlighting their families' journeys from India and Mexico, respectively, in search of the American Dream.

Georgina Castaneda, a home-care worker who grew up in Veracruz, Mexico, and now lives in Los Angeles, is the type of person the campaigns are targeting. After years of waiting for her citizenship application to go through the bureaucracy, she passed the U.S. civics test and swore her allegiance to the flag along with thousands of others at a ceremony in March at Los Angeles' Staples Center.

Castaneda said Democratic Party workers walked down the aisles handing out brochures to the crowd. She filled one out while still seated.

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NKorea says SKorea, US are within missile range in response to Seoul's extended missile range

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday warned that the U.S. mainland is within range of its missiles, and said Washington's recent agreement to let Seoul possess missiles capable of hitting all of the North shows the allies are plotting to invade the country.

Seoul announced Sunday it reached a deal with Washington that would allow it to nearly triple the range of its missiles to better cope with North Korean missile and nuclear threats. On Tuesday, North Korea called the deal a "product of another conspiracy of the master and the stooge" to "ignite a war" against the North.

In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, an unidentified spokesman at the powerful National Defense Commission said the North will bolster its military preparedness.

"We do not hide ... the strategic rocket forces are keeping within the scope of strike not only the bases of the puppet forces and the U.S. imperialist aggression forces' bases in the inviolable land of Korea but also Japan, Guam and the U.S. mainland," the spokesman said.

South Korea's Defense Ministry said Tuesday it had no official comment on the North's statement, but Seoul and Washington have repeatedly said they have no intention of attacking North Korea.

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Terrorism defendant faces arraignment in NY after complaining he misses prosthetic hook hand

NEW YORK (AP) — Three men who were brought from England to New York to face terrorism charges return to court to learn more about how their cases will proceed to trial.

Abu Hamza al-Masri, who complained through his lawyer Saturday that he lost the use of his arms when his prosthetics, which included a hook, were taken away, will enter a plea for the first time on Tuesday. The Egyptian-born preacher faces charges that he conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon and helped abduct 16 hostages, two of them American tourists, in Yemen in 1998.

Two others — Khaled al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary — will appear for the first time before the judge who will oversee their trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on charges that they participated in the bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. They were indicted in a case that also charged Osama bin Laden. Both pleaded not guilty on Saturday.

Al-Masri, indicted under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa with al-Masri listed as an alias, became well known in the 1990s as his Finsbury Park Mosque in London became a training ground for extremist Islamists including Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. He had been jailed since 2004 in Britain on separate charges.

Al-Masri has unusual needs in prison after losing part of each of his arms in what he says was a fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. He also is missing an eye. His lawyers in England said he suffers from depression, chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes and other ailments.

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Stranded night: Pettitte, Yankees lose to Orioles 3-2 as AL division series tied 1 game apiece

BALTIMORE (AP) — Andy Pettitte slapped his glove, angry he had allowed another run.

For the New York Yankees, it was yet another night of missed chances.

Instead of winning both games at Camden Yards, the Yankees headed home with a split in their best-of-five AL division series against the Baltimore Orioles following a 3-2 loss in Game 2 Monday night.

"It was obviously a frustrating game and one you hate to lose," Pettitte said. "It would have been nice to be able to get this one, that's for sure."

And now when the series resumes Wednesday night, they face having to get at least one win from the back end of their rotation. The rest of the series will be played in the Bronx.

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