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06 Nov 2008 02:26:10

LONDON – When Kanye West performs Thursday at the MTV Europe Music Awards, it will be the second time he's taken the stage at the ceremony — but the first time he's been invited.

The rapper stormed the stage at the 2006 awards show in Copenhagen after he failed to win the best-video prize, telling the crowd that "if I don't win, the awards show loses credibility."

The next year the temperamental West vowed he would never return to MTV after he went home empty-handed from the MTV Video Music Awards.

The rapper and the music network have since reconciled, and West is scheduled to join a high-profile slate of performers — including Beyonce, Kid Rock and the Killers — in the Beatles' home town of Liverpool for Thursday's show.

Former Beatle Paul McCartney, who was born in Liverpool, is to receive an "ultimate legend" award.

MTV Networks International Chairman Bill Roedy said McCartney was "one of the true greats."

"Not only has he has been one of the most formative influences on the music scene on a global scale, but he is one of the founding fathers that has earned Liverpool the recent accolade as most musical city in the U.K.," Roedy said.

Britney Spears, Coldplay and Duffy lead the nominations for the annual awards, which are presented in a different European country each year.

All three acts are nominated for album of the year, alongside Alicia Keys and Leona Lewis. Spears, Lewis, Coldplay, Rihanna and Amy Winehouse are up for act of the year, while Duffy is competing for best new act against One Republic, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and the Jonas Brothers.

The winners are selected by fans across the continent.

Pink is among a slew of U.S. and international acts bringing celebrity color to the gray northwestern English city, which has been designated European Capital of Culture for 2008. More than 10,000 music fans were expected to fill the Echo Arena on the bank of the River Mersey for the show, hosted by "I Kissed a Girl" chart-topper Katy Perry.


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6.11.08 12:50


05 Nov 2008 08:32:38

NEW YORK – Wall Street stopped to catch its breath Wednesday,cashing in gains from a rally that lifted the Standard & Poor's 500 index more than 18 percent over six sessions. Stocks showed little change after a report that the U.S. services sector contracted sharply in October.

Investors were collecting profits after the market's runup, including a rally Tuesday that sent the Dow up more than 300 points on expectations that battered stocks would enjoy a traditional year-end rally. Analysts said the market anticipated a win by Barack Obama in the presidential election, and so the voting had little if any impact on Wednesday's trading.

"It's virtually all technical, psychological, and very little to do with politics," said Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank. "Everyone was buying the rumor yesterday and selling the news today ... The market had not only anticipated an Obama victory, but from what I'm gleaning, pretty much a Democratic sweep.

"Everything pretty much occurred as expected, so now we're kind of moving on to the next thing," he said. Most investors are probably focusing on the Labor Department's October employment report Friday, he said.

Economists on average expect a 200,000 drop in payrolls, according to Thomson/IFR. Employers have been slashing jobs after a freeze-up in the credit markets crippled many companies' ability to get financing.

The Institute for Supply Management said the services sector index fell to 44.4 in October from 50.2 in September. That's a steeper drop than the market expected, but analysts said investors have largely factored in negative economic news for the time being. So the major indexes, already down in early trading, showed little change in response to the ISM report.

In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 105.21 points, or 1.09 percent, to 9,520.07.

The S&P 500 index fell 8.68, or 0.86 percent, to 997.07, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 19.96, or 1.12 percent, to 1,760.16.

5.11.08 16:43


05 Nov 2008 05:20:19

LOS ANGELES – A proposed ban on same-sex marriage in California — widely seen as the most momentous of the 153 ballot measures at stake nationwide — remained undecided early Wednesday.

The proposed constitutional amendment would limit marriage to heterosexual couples, the first time such a vote has taken place in state where gay unions are legal.

Sponsors of the ban declared victory early Wednesday, but the measure's opponents said too many votes remained uncounted for the race to be called.

Even without the wait, gay rights activists had a rough day Tuesday. Ban-gay-marriage amendments were approved in Arizona and Florida, and gay rights forces suffered a loss in Arkansas, where voters approved a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents. Supporters made clear that gays and lesbians were their main target.

Elsewhere, voters in Colorado and South Dakota rejected measures that could have led to sweeping bans of abortion, and Washington became only the second state — after Oregon — to offer terminally ill people the option of physician-assisted suicide.

A first-of-its-kind measure in Colorado, which was defeated soundly, would have defined life as beginning at conception. Its opponents said the proposal could lead to the outlawing of some types of birth control as well as abortion.

In California, the night had started out optimistically for many who believed that a large Democrat-voter turnout would help defeat the state's proposed ban on same-sex marriage.

With 90 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday, the ban had 4,922,675 votes, or 52 percent, to 4,577,453 votes, or 48 percent, against.

Late absentee and provisional ballots meant as many as 3 million ballots were left to be counted after all precinct votes were tallied.

Similar bans had prevailed in 27 states before Tuesday's elections, but none were in California's situation — with thousands of gay couples already married following a state Supreme Court ruling in May.

Spending for and against the amendment reached $74 million, making it the most expensive social-issues campaign in U.S. history and the most expensive campaign this year outside the race for the White House.

Some in San Francisco vowed to continue fighting for the right to marry if the proposition does pass. "My view of America is different today," said Diallo Grant, a gay man with mixed-race parents. "The culture wars will continue."

The South Dakota measure would have banned abortions except in cases of rape, incest and serious health threat to the mother. A tougher version, without the rape and incest exceptions, lost in 2006. Anti-abortion activists thought the modifications would win approval, but the margin of defeat was similar, about 55 percent to 45 percent of the vote.

"The lesson here is that Americans, in states across the country, clearly support women's ability to access abortion care without government interference," said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation.

In Washington, voters gave solid approval to an initiative modeled after Oregon's "Death with Dignity" law, which allows a terminally ill person to be prescribed lethal medication they can administer to themselves. Since Oregon's law took effect in 1997, more than 340 people — mostly ailing with cancer — have used it to end their lives.

Elsewhere, the marijuana reform movement won two prized victories, with Massachusetts voters decriminalizing possession of small amounts of the drug and Michigan joining 12 other states in allowing use of pot for medical purposes.

Henceforth, people caught in Massachusetts with an ounce or less of pot will no longer face criminal penalties. Instead, they'll forfeit the marijuana and pay a $100 civil fine.

The Michigan measure will allow severely ill patients to register with the state and legally buy, grow and use small amounts of marijuana to relieve pain, nausea, appetite loss and other symptoms.

Nebraska voters, meanwhile, approved a ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action, similar to measures previously approved in California, Michigan and Washington. Returns in Colorado on a similar measure were too close to call.

Ward Connerly, the California activist-businessman who has led the crusade against affirmative action, said Obama's victory proved his point. "We have overcome the scourge of race," Connerly said.

Energy measures met a mixed fate. In Missouri, voters approved a measure requiring the state's three investor-owned electric utilities to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021. But California voters defeated an even more ambitious measure that would have required the state's utilities to generate half their electricity from windmills, solar systems, geothermal reserves and other renewable sources by 2025.

Two animal-welfare measures passed — a ban on dog racing in Massachusetts, and a proposition in California that outlaws cramped cages for egg-laying chickens.

Amid deep economic uncertainty, proposals to cut state income taxes were defeated decisively in North Dakota and Massachusetts.

In San Francisco, an eye-catching local measure — to bar arrests for prostitution — was soundly rejected. Police and political leaders said it would hamper the fight against sex trafficking. And in San Diego, voters decided to make permanent a ban on alcohol consumption on city beaches.


Associated Press writer Paul Elias in San Francisco contributed to this report.

5.11.08 15:55


03 Nov 2008 23:04:46

TAMPA, Fla. – Barack Obama radiated confidence and John McCain displayed the grit of an underdog Monday as the presidential rivals reached for the finish line of a two-year marathon with a burst of campaigning across battlegrounds from the Atlantic Coast to Arizona.

"We are one day away from change in America," said Obama, a Democrat seeking to become the first black president — a dream not nearly as distant on election eve as it once was.

McCain, too, promised to turn the page of the era of George W. Bush and said he sensed an upset in the making.

"This momentum, this enthusiasm convinces me we're going to win tomorrow," McCain told a raucous evening rally in Henderson, Nev., part of a seven-state campaign sprint that was to end in Arizona early Tuesday.

Republican running mate Sarah Palin was more pointed as she campaigned in Ohio. "Now is not the time to experiment with socialism," she said. "Our opponent's plan is just for bigger government."

Late-season attacks aside, Obama led in virtually all the pre-election polls in a race where economic concerns dominated and the war in Iraq was pushed — however temporarily — into the background.

While the overall number of early votes was unknown, statistics showed more than 29 million ballots cast in 30 states and suggested an advantage for Obama. Democrats voted in larger numbers than Republicans in North Carolina, Colorado, Florida and Iowa, all of which went for President Bush in 2004.

Obama came out on top in the first Tuesday votes, recorded just after midnight in two small New Hampshire towns. Obama defeated McCain by a 15-6 vote in Dixville Notch, while Hart's Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul.

Democrats also anticipated gains in the House and in the Senate, although Republicans battled to hold their losses to a minimum and a significant number of races were rated as tossups in the campaign's final hours.

By their near-non-stop attention to states that voted Republican in 2004, both Obama and McCain acknowledged the Democrats' advantage in the presidential race.

The two rivals both began their days in Florida, a traditionally Republican state with 27 electoral votes where polls make it close.

Obama drew 9,000 or so at a rally in Jacksonville, while across the state, a crowd estimated at roughly 1,000 turned out for McCain.

The front-runner also choked up on the campaign's final day as he told a crowd in North Carolina of the death of his grandmother from cancer. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86.

"She died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side," he said of the woman who had played a large role in his upbringing. "And so there is great joy as well as tears. I'm not going to talk about it too long because it is hard for me to talk about."

McCain and his wife issued a statement of condolence.

One day before the election, no battleground state was left unattended.

But Virginia, where no Democrat has won in 40 years, and Ohio, where no Republican president has ever lost, seemed most coveted. Together, they account for 33 electoral votes that McCain can scarcely do without.

Democratic volunteers in Maryland, a state safe for Obama, called voters in next-door Virginia, where McCain trailed in the polls. The Democratic presidential candidate's visit to Virginia during the day was his 11th since he clinched the nomination.

Unwilling to concede anything, McCain's campaign filed a lawsuit in Richmond seeking to force election officials to count late-arriving ballots from members of the armed forces overseas. No hearing was immediately scheduled.

Several hundred miles away in Ohio — the state that sealed Bush's second term in 2004 — voters waited as long as three hours in line to cast ballots in Columbus, part of heavily contested Franklin County. Poll workers handed out bottles of water to sustain them.

Lori Huffman, 38, a supervisor at UPS Inc., took the day off to vote early for her man, McCain. "It's exciting isn't it?" she asked, gesturing toward the long line of waiting voters.

"This is happening all over the state, from Cleveland to Dayton," said Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat trying to deliver his state to Obama.

Obama hoped so, after more than a year building an elaborate get-out-the-vote operation, first for the primary campaign, now for the general election.

The Democrat flew from Florida to North Carolina to Virginia, all states that went Republican in 2004, before heading home to Chicago on Election Eve.

Twenty-one months after he launched his campaign, he allowed, "You know. I feel pretty peaceful ... I gotta say."

On a syndicated radio program, "The Russ Parr Morning Show," he said, "The question is going to be who wants it more. And I hope that our supporters want it bad, because I think the country needs it."

If wanting it were all that mattered, the race would be a toss-up.

McCain, behind in the polls, set out on a grueling run through several traditionally Republican states that he has failed to secure. Florida, Virginia, Indiana, New Mexico and Nevada were on his itinerary, as was Pennsylvania, the only state that voted Democratic in 2004 where he still nursed hopes.

His last appearance of the long day, past midnight, was a home state rally in Prescott, Ariz. "My friends, it's been a long, long journey," he told supporters.

The surrogate campaigners included Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democrats and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republicans. Both lost races for their party's presidential nomination earlier in the year, and both could be expected to try again if their ticket loses the White House.

Not so, President Bush.

Deeply unpopular, the man who won the White House twice was out of public view, an effort to help McCain.

Palin was racing through five Bush states Monday — Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada — in an effort to boost conservative turnout for McCain. The Alaska governor has been a popular draw for many GOP base voters, and already, there was speculation about a future national campaign should Republicans lose in 2008.

Joe Biden, Obama's running mate, campaigned in Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania. "We are on the cusp of a new brand of leadership," he assured supporters.

Biden didn't say so, but he was as close to guaranteed a victory as any politician in America. Whatever the fate of the Democratic presidential ticket, he was heavily favored to win a new Senate term from Delaware on Tuesday.


Eds: Espo reported from Washington. AP writers Nedra Pickler in Jacksonville, Fla., Meghan Barr in Columbus, Ohio, Joe Milica from Lakewood, Ohio, Christopher Clark in Lee's Summit, Mo., and Kristen Wyatt in Denver contributed to this report.

4.11.08 09:32


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