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Nation & World briefly

Questions about Penn State’s handling of child sex abuse scandal don’t end with Paterno firing

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – Just because Joe Paterno is gone doesn’t mean the child sex abuse scandal at Penn State is over.

The Nittany Lions started life without the 84-year-old Paterno on Thursday, introducing interim coach Tom Bradley while the board of trustees was just beginning its formal investigation.

“We’re obviously in a very unprecedented situation,” said Bradley, who was Paterno’s lead assistant for the last 11 seasons. “I have to find a way to restore the confidence.”

Many questions remained unanswered – from how much Paterno actually knew to whether there will be any repercussions for assistant coach Mike McQueary, who told Paterno but not police about seeing former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky in a shower with a young boy in 2002.

The campus was calm Thursday, after thousands of angry students paraded through the streets, some throwing rocks and bottles and tipping over a television news van.

Gingrich may have next chance to challenge Romney, as Cain, Perry engage in damage control

WASHNGTON (AP) – Mitt Romney chugged ahead Thursday as the conservative-fueled drive to deny him the Republican presidential nomination reached a difficult new phase: Once-surging rivals Rick Perry and Herman Cain scrambled to control serious damage, while an old face sought new ways to exploit their problems.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich could emerge as the newest hope for conservative activists who doubt Romney’s commitment to their priorities. But Gingrich trails Romney and others in organizing in key states such as Iowa. And he will have to prove that his long and sometimes troubled political history can withstand closer scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Perry rearranged his schedule Thursday to try to mitigate a disastrous debate moment, in which he could not remember the third federal agency he has vowed to abolish. Perry canceled a Tennessee fundraiser to appear on several TV networks and the David Letterman show, pledging to stay in the race.

He repeatedly said he “stepped in it” at the Wednesday night debate but declared in an interview, “This ain’t a day for quitting nothing.”

For Cain, the former pizza company executive, it was day 11 of trying to get beyond sexual harassment accusations leveled against him by four women, two of whom received cash settlements from a trade association Cain once headed.

Perry acknowledges bad debate performance, moves ahead with campaign as some doubt viability

WASHINGTON (AP) – Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry tried Thursday to convince the country he was in on the joke after his disastrous debate performance while even his supporters worried aloud about the damage to his already hobbling campaign.

Perry didn’t try to sugarcoat the fallout from his minute-long stammer that crystalized concerns that he is not up for the job. Instead, he spent the day on a media blitz trying to laugh about the Wednesday evening debate where he struggled embarrassingly to remember one of the three federal departments he wants to abolish, ending with a grinning, “Oops.”

He even appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman to offer the night’s Top Ten List of excuses for the debate.

“Hey, listen. You try concentrating with Mitt Romney smiling at you. That is one handsome dude,” Perry chuckled during his segment with the comedian.

The minute-long exchange was replayed throughout the day and into the evening on television, and it has already been labeled one of the worst debate blunders in recent memory.

Senate approves first, small pieces of Obama jobs package by providing assistance to vets

WASHINGTON (AP) – On Veterans Day eve, an uncharacteristically unified Senate emphatically passed a bill to help unemployed veterans and government contractors that includes the first, small slivers of President Barack Obama’s jobs agenda that he is likely to sign into law.

Thursday’s 95-0 vote gave lawmakers the opportunity to fly home to holiday events and boast about helping veterans and protecting jobs. But it did little to help close the scorching partisan divide over how to revive the gasping economy, an issue that seems sure to decide next year’s presidential and congressional elections.

“We deal with a lot of contentious issues here, but this should not be one of them,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a leading sponsor of the veterans’ provisions.

The legislation would award tax credits of up to $9,600 to companies that hire disabled veterans who have been job-hunting for at least half a year and strengthen employment counseling and training programs for vets and troops about to leave the military.

It also would erase a law, yet to take effect, requiring federal, state and local government agencies to withhold 3 percent of their payments to companies with which they conduct business. That law was enacted under President George W. Bush to nudge companies to fully pay their taxes, but lawmakers now say it would fence off money those firms could better use to hire more workers.

Cain gets out among voters for first time since sex harassment claims engulfed campaign

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) – Republican Herman Cain drew large and enthusiastic crowds while campaigning in Michigan, his first foray among voters since his White House bid was rocked by allegations that he sexually harassed four women more than a decade ago.

“Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been through hell,” Cain said at a stop in Kalamazoo.

“But here’s the good news: It didn’t kill me or slow me down one bit,” he told the crowd of more than 400 who packed a hall to hear him speak.

Supporters seemed undeterred by the furor surrounding Cain, and he kept to friendly territory: tea party groups that make up the core of his support. He’s trying to keep ignited the grassroots spark that shot him to the top of the GOP field before the allegations of sexual harassment became public. He has denied behaving inappropriately.

“How you beat Obama? Beat him with a Cain!” the Georgia businessman told one supporter as he pushed through the crowd toward a back exit at the Blue Sky Diner in Ypsilanti, near Detroit. The crowd cheered Cain’s comments.

Nixon, defiant and sarcastic, defends shattered legacy in rare release of grand jury testimony

WASHINGTON (AP) – Feisty and cagey, ex-President Richard Nixon defended his shredded legacy and shady Watergate-era actions in grand jury testimony that he thought would never come out. On Thursday, it did.

Offering a rare look into confidential grand jury proceedings, and the first ever to have a former president testifying, the National Archives and its Nixon Presidential Library released a transcript of the testimony after a judge ordered the government to do so.

In it, Nixon, 10 months after he resigned under threat of impeachment, describes the burglary by political operatives at Democratic headquarters as “this silly, incredible Watergate break-in” and claims “I practically blew my stack” when he learned that 18 1/2 minutes of a post-Watergate White House meeting were erased from a tape.

The gap was considered key in determining what Nixon knew about the burglary and what he did to cover up the exploding scandal.

Nixon’s main legal risk during 11 hours of questioning near his California home in June 1975 was being caught in a lie. Short of committing perjury, or implicating anyone in his much-diminished cadre of loyalists, he could testify with impunity because a pardon by his successor, Gerald Ford, protected him from prosecution for any past Watergate crimes.

11-11-11 drives many to tie knot, place bets; will convergence of digits bring good luck?

Place your bets! Tie the knot! Make a wish! Friday is the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011, and around the country, many people are planning to mark the triple convergence of 11s with a splash, hoping it will bring them good fortune or at least amuse them for a day.

Marjaneh Peyrovan, who just moved to New York, plans to buy 11 lottery tickets (each, of course, including the number 11). She will check out apartments she has been eyeing. And precisely at 11:11 a.m., she will walk into the office of Diane von Furstenberg, the fashion designer for whom she has long dreamed of working.

“People say on 11/11 things happen, things will come true,” she said. “You never know.”

Twins Betsy and Katie Overman of Madison, Wis., will celebrate their 11th birthdays with sweet bread topped with a buttercream number 11. Their mother, Julie Overman, plans to put 11 candles in their meals and snacks. And the twins will wear socks festooned with 11s.

“They also found the 11 date is supposed to be lucky for relationships, but they still think boys are gross,” their mother said.

Calle 13 wins album of the year at Latin Grammy Awards, breaks record with 19 career awards

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Hip-hop duo Calle 13 won album of the year at the Latin Grammy Awards Thursday in Las Vegas, earning the top prize after a record-breaking night that saw the Puerto Rican brothers receive the 19th award of their career.

Earlier in the night, the socially charged rap group made history and won its 18th award – song of the year for “Latinoamerica.” That broke the record for most awards previously held by 17-time-winner Juanes.

“Today, the music triumphed,” frontman Reni Pirez Joglar said in Spanish.

Calle 13 was up for 10 awards in all Thursday and took home all but one because they were nominated twice for album of the year for their work on Shakira’s “Sale el Sol.” The Caribbean group’s anti-establishment album “Entren Los Que Quieran” lent a political overtone to the annual awards show, with its lyrics that slam the White House and the Vatican while celebrating the joys of being poor.

One of the most controversial songs, “Calma Pueblo,” won best alternative song, with its lyrics that call the Vatican the largest mafia in the world. The group also won producer of the year, best short-form music video and best tropical song for its ode to behaving badly, “Vamo’ A Portarnos Mal.” Those awards all came before the show started, during a pre-telecast ceremony.

NBA talks break down; players to regroup, meet with player reps to decide next steps

NEW YORK (AP) – The NBA and its players are hitting pause in their negotiations as the union considers the league’s latest revised offer.

The league offered a revised offer after nearly 11 hours of bargaining Thursday. It’s based on the possibility of a 72-game season, starting Dec. 15.

But union president Derek Fisher said it doesn’t address all the necessary system issues that are important to the players.

“It does not meet us entirely on the system issues that we felt were extremely important to try and close this thing out, and so at this point we’ve decided to end things for now, take a step back,” Fisher said. “We’ll go back as an executive committee, as a board, confer with our player reps and additional players over the next few days. Then we’ll make decisions about what our next steps will be at that point.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern said there’s really nothing left to negotiate.

Tiger Woods shoots 67s to top Australian Open leaderboard midway through second round

SYDNEY (AP) – Tiger Woods walked off golf course to see his name atop the leaderboard Friday in the Australian Open. Even more pleasing to him was the way he got there.

With control of his shots and comfortable over the putter, Woods put together his best back-to-back rounds of the year with a 5-under 67 that gave him a one-shot lead among the early starters in the second round.

If it holds up at the end of the day, it would be his first time in the lead after any round since the third day of the Chevron World Challenge last year, and the first time against a full field since his last win two years ago in the Australian Masters. Woods was tied for the first-round lead at The Barclays last year.

“I really played well,” Woods said. “Even though I shot 5 under, it felt it could have been 8 or 9 deep.”

He was at 9-under 135, one shot clear of a familiar name in these parts, and to Woods. Peter O’Malley is a member at The Lakes and birdied his last two holes for a 66. O’Malley is memorable to some golf fans in the United States as the No. 64 seed who beat Woods in the opening round of the Match Play Championship at La Costa in 2002.