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BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Giants, dragons and vengeful queens have for generations populated Northern Ireland's folk tales. Now, such creatures are visiting the land in a different version — on the sets for the hit TV show "Game of Thrones." But rather than spells and destruction, they're bringing an economic boost to this British province still healing from its past of political violence.

Fans of the HBO fantasy drama would recognize here the landscapes from the fictional land of Westeros — the castle of Winterfell, the seaside cliffs of the Iron Isles and the King's Road leading to the north. About 75 percent of the show is filmed in Northern Ireland, both in natural settings and in the Titanic Studios in Belfast.

Since the pilot episode began filming in 2009, attracted by the local government's financial incentives, the show's presence has helped foster a film industry that is catching the eye of other Hollywood productions. And Northern Ireland is taking advantage of the attention by promoting the filming locations as tourist destinations.

The latest — and perhaps most illustrious — visitor is Queen Elizabeth II, who will tour the studio sets on Monday. But thousands have already been visiting from across the globe.

Cara and Tom Collins from Springdale, Arkansas, were in Ballintoy Harbour recently to see the rocky coastal setting used in the show for the 'Iron Isles,' a kingdom of rugged sailors.

"You can just close your eyes and picture everybody there," said Tom.

The season four finale of "Game of Thrones" last week was watched by 7.09 million viewers in the United States according to prime-time viewership numbers complied by the Nielson Co. That makes it HBO's most-watched program since "The Sopranos" in 2007.

But the numbers are likely higher since TV audience habits have changed since 2007 and "Game of Thrones" has fans globally who watch on local networks and via DVD or streaming services.

For Northern Ireland's tourism industry, that represents a huge pool of potential visitors. The province hopes to use the show's popularity to increase the number of tourists to over 2 million annually by 2016, from 1.8 million in 2013 — more than the region's population of just 1.8 million.

Coach operators have created "Game of Thrones" tours, for which demand hit a record as the show reached its season finale this month.

"They are using some of our most iconic scenery in 'Game of Thrones' which is excellent," said Arlene Foster, minister for enterprise, trade and investment.

Beyond tourism, the direct employment of local workers has been very important for the local economy, she said.

At the end of series four, HBO is estimated to have spent about 87.6 million pounds ($149.11 million) in the local economy making the show. The benefits are likely much higher when including other factors, such as the knock-on benefits from higher employment.

"This is a sector that we think has the potential to really grow" said Foster. "Around the HBO facility and studios will grow a skills base that others can use."

Holywood — pronounced the same as California's 'Hollywood' — is a small seaside town near Belfast that may lack the glamour of Beverly Hills, but is gaining a movie-making reputation of its own. Yellow Moon, a production facility based there, has enjoyed strong growth and doubled its workforce by being involved with "Game of Thrones."

"HBO were a big catalyst in changing perceptions of what could be done in Northern Ireland. As the Americans say, it was a game changer," said Managing Director Greg Darby.

Five years ago, 80 percent of Yellow Moon's work was for local broadcasters, and just 20 percent for productions based in the U.K. or further afield. Now, 70 percent of their work is commissioned outside Northern Ireland.

"'Game of Thrones' are directly or indirectly responsible for 80 percent of the people that we have taken on in the last three years, because if they didn't come we wouldn't have the other work," said Darby.

Scott Ferguson's story illustrates what "Game of Thrones" means for young creative people in Northern Ireland.

He dreamt of being a film editor, but his first experience in the industry failed to lead to more work, so he took a job in a bank. Then five years ago a government training scheme lead to a placement at Yellow Moon and he is now a colorist on the show, adding mood and tone to the images in post-production, and on his way to becoming an expert in his field.

Ferguson is confident that people like him will no longer need to emigrate to seek work in film and TV, now that Northern Ireland's reputation as a production hub is growing.

"We have world class facilities, and we now have a world class crew. We have a shooting crew and we have a post crew who have worked on the biggest, most watched, most successful TV show that has been around for a while," he said.

Statistics can't do justice to the "Game of Thrones" effect on Northern Ireland's economy, said economist Graham Brownlow, from Queens University Belfast. He says the show is helping to improve the province's international image, which for decades had become synonymous with political violence and economic stagnation.

"The real benefits that Northern Ireland secures are the things that are most difficult to measure" he explained. "By creating a critical mass for film and TV productions it creates a good image for Northern Ireland, which stimulates further production in Northern Ireland, which improves the image of Northern Ireland," Brownlow said.

That 'critical mass' now includes 'Dracula Untold', a Universal Pictures movie with an October 2014 release date and Ridley Scott's new 'Halo' feature, which is also expected to be released before the end of the year.

These and other features will need best boys, wardrobe assistants, carpenters, camera operators and colorists and Northern Ireland's new local talent pool will be only too happy to oblige.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Tyler Campbell never expected to even play in the College World Series. Turns out, he's become one of Vanderbilt's stars in Omaha.

Campbell's bases-loaded infield single in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Commodores a 4-3 win over Texas on Saturday night and sent them to the finals against Virginia.

Campbell was in his second game filling in for third baseman Xavier Turner, who was ruled ineligible Friday for a violation of NCAA rules.

"As far as these past few days, it's just been fun," Campbell said. "From the time I got in, I've tried to stay focused and stay in the moment, and it's been all right."

All right, indeed.

Campbell had only 21 at-bats this season when he stepped to the plate in the 10th. He fouled off a pitch and took another before he grounded to shortstop. C.J. Hinojosa charged the ball, but couldn't get it to first in time to get Campbell.

Campbell waited behind the bag to be mobbed by teammates who came flooding out of the third-base dugout and bullpen.

"That's what these moments are about, when kids have been practicing all year and not getting in games. Then their number is called," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. "Everybody is so happy for this kid. They wanted him to play, and just to see him succeed, the team is beyond happy."

Freshman Hayden Stone (3-0) struck out eight in 5 2-3 innings of relief of Carson Fulmer. Vanderbilt (49-20) gives the SEC a team in the CWS finals for the seventh straight year.

Vanderbilt, which avenged a 4-0 loss to the Longhorns (46-21) on Friday, survived a couple of scares to advance to the best-of-three CWS championship series, which begins Monday night.

In the fifth inning, Fulmer issued three straight walks to load the bases with one out. Stone came on and Ben Johnson grounded his first pitch to third, where Campbell started the inning-ending double play.

In the Texas 10th, Hinojosa drilled a ball deep to right, but Rhett Wiseman sprinted into the right-center field gap and extended his glove to make the catch before falling onto the warning track.

"The ball hung up there long enough," Wiseman said, "and luckily we were in position to have a shot at it. It was a no-doubles situation in the top of the 10th. Hayden made a good pitch, and he put a good swing on it."

Hinojosa, who homered for the only run in a win over UC Irvine on Wednesday, said he thought he might have another.

"I squared it up, and it was probably the best pitch I saw all day, and probably the best swing I had all day," he said. "Off the bat, I did think it was over his head. He's a good outfielder, and he tracked it well and made a good play on it."

Texas reliever John Curtiss (2-3) got Zander Wiel to ground out and John Norwood to fly out to start the bottom of the 10th. Wiseman followed with a single, pinch-hitter Ro Coleman walked and Karl Ellison was hit above the left elbow by a 91-mph fastball to load the bases for Campbell.

"As far as the last at-bat, I think I did most of my thinking on the on-deck circle," Campbell said. "When I was in the dugout in the hole, I was expecting to come up. I was expecting those guys to get on. I tried to keep the ball on the ground."

Texas had tied it at 3 in the sixth when Tres Barrera drove the ball over Norwood in center field and scored on Zane Gurwitz's single.

Texas coach Augie Garrido called his Longhorns his best team since the 2005 national championship squad. Texas had finished last in the Big 12 last year and hadn't made the NCAA tournament the previous two years.

"They finished fifth in the league and here they are third in the country," Garrido said. "The separation: C.J.'s ball gets caught and it prevents a run. They hit a ball — don't square it up — and they beat it out to first with the bases loaded. It's hard to explain. Cruel game."

There's a new iPhone app called Yo. It allows you to chat with a friend, but the only word you can use is yo. That's literally all Yo does.

MOUNT WASHINGTON, N.H. (AP) — The 54th annual Run to the Clouds race on New Hampshire's Mount Washington is being held Saturday, pitting 1,300 runners against one another and against the tallest peak in the Northeastern United States.

Here's what you need to know about the race:



The race starts at the bottom of the Mount Washington Auto Road and finishes 7.6 miles later near the summit of the 6,288-foot mountain, part of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains. Runners climb a lung-searing 4,650 feet.



To measure just how tough this race is, let's look at pace. Last year's winner in the men's division, Eric Blake of New Britain, Connecticut, covered the course in 59 minutes, 57 seconds, a 7:54 per mile pace. Compare that to the world record mile of 3:43.13 by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999 or the 4:54 that Meb Keflezighi averaged over 26.2 miles in winning this year's Boston Marathon.



Dr. Kristine Karlson of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College says despite the daunting notion of running up a mountain, it's easier on the body, mostly on the quadriceps (thighs). They're being used the way they're supposed to, she says, contracting and getting shorter rather than contracting and stretching longer the way they do when running downhill. Racers won't burn any more calories going up since they'll be going at a slower pace. Once they hit a maximum heart rate, runners will burn the same amount of energy as they do in a flat race. One potential risk: hypothermia. Runners who feel warm at the bottom can get chilled in a hurry near the top even in the best weather conditions.



The mountain is home to some of the most extreme weather on earth and for a while held the record for the highest wind speed recorded: 231 mph in 1934. That's now No. 2 on the list. The mountain gets hurricane-force winds of at least 75 mph on more than 100 days each year. It gets an average of 256 inches of snow a year. In 2002, the race was shortened to 3.8 miles because of howling winds and pounding freezing rain — it's the only time the race was shortened by weather.



Medical student George Foster first timed a run up Mount Washington in 1904, just to impress his friends. He finished in 1 hour, 42 minutes.



Larisa Dannis, 26, of Manchester, New Hampshire, will tackle the course again this year after finishing seventh in the women's division last year. She trains the same as she would for a marathon — and she just ran a blazing 2:44 in Boston — or a 100-mile run. How does she get up that hill? "First, I always try to stay in the moment. Second, I really always try to maintain a positive outlook." And for those who say these runners are crazy, Dannis says: "I think things like this might seem crazy to some, but I'm the kind of person who really thrives on setting personal goals and meeting them."



It's rubber-match time for the brothers Freeman. Justin, 36, of New Hampton, New Hampshire, and Kris, 32, of Thornton, New Hampshire, each has beaten the other once, so this year is for bragging rights. Both lean on their cross-country ski background and training (Kris is a four-time Olympian.) to prepare for the Mount Washington run. Let's not forget dad: Donavon Freeman will be chasing the boys up the hill.



Runners from across the globe test themselves here: New Zealand's Derek Froude in 1990 was the first to crack 1 hour while Daniel Kihara of Kenya wrecked the field with a course record 58:20 in 1996. Another New Zealander, Jonathan Wyatt, holds the men's course record of 56:41 set in 2004. On the women's side, Shewarge Amare of Ethiopia set the course record in 1:08:21 in 2010, the first time she ran it.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A preservative used to cure bacon is being tested as poison for the nation's estimated 5 million feral hogs.

Descendants of both escaped domestic pigs and imported Eurasian boars, the swine cost the U.S. about $1.5 billion a year — including $800 million in damage to farms nationwide.

Hunting and trapping won't do the trick for these big, wildly prolific animals. So, the U.S. Department of Agriculture kicked off a $20 million program this year to control feral swine, which have spread from 17 states in 1982 to 39 now.

Sodium nitrite is far more toxic to pigs than people and is used in Australia and New Zealand to kill feral swine. USDA scientists say it may be the best solution in the U.S., but they're not yet ready to ask for federal approval as pig poison.

Vance Taylor of Brooksville, Mississippi, has seen up to 50 hogs in a field at once. He estimates the animals cost him 40 to 60 acres of corn and soybeans a year. They once rooted up about 170 acres of sprouting corn; they trample ripe corn, taking a few bites from each ear.

"It looks like a bulldozer has been through your field," he said. To minimize damage, he hires a hunter and sometimes even heaps corn away from his fields so they'll eat there.

Males average 130 to 150 pounds but can range up to 250, and hogs snarf down just about anything: peanuts, potatoes, piles of just-harvested almonds. Rooting for grubs and worms leaves lawns, levees, wetlands and prairies looking like they've been attacked by packs of rototillers gone wild. Swine compete with turkey and deer for acorns, and also eat eggs and fawns.

Nor is damage limited to their eating habits. Feral pigs' feces were among likely sources of E. coli that tainted fresh California spinach in 2006, killing three people and sickening 200.

To stay even, at least 70 percent of an area's feral pigs must be killed each year, said Fred Cunningham, a biologist at the USDA's National Wildlife Research Center field station in Starkville, Mississippi. Texas alone has an estimated 2 million feral swine.

"The problem will never, ever end until they find a way to poison them," said Cy Brown of Carencro, Louisiana, a weekend hunter who estimates he has shot 300 to 400 a year for farmers.

The USDA program that began in April includes $1.5 million for the research center headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado. Its scientists have made sodium nitrite studies a top priority.

Sodium nitrite, used as a salt to preserve meat, can keep red blood cells from grabbing oxygen in live animals. Unlike people and tested domestic animals, pigs make very low levels of an enzyme that counteracts the chemical. Swine that eat enough sodium nitrite at once show symptoms akin to carbon dioxide poisoning: They become uncoordinated, lose consciousness and die.

But baits so far haven't hit the 90 percent kill rate on penned pigs (feral or domestic, they're all the same species) needed for EPA consideration. Once it does, approval could take up to five years, Cunningham said.

One problem is creating baits in which pigs will eat a lethal dose. Sodium nitrite tastes nasty and breaks down quickly in the presence of air or water, making it easier for pigs to smell and avoid, said Fred Vercauteren, project leader in Fort Collins.

Microencapsulating the powder masks its smell and keeps it stable longer.

"We'll work on that throughout the summer," Vercauteren said.

However, there's another big hurdle: making a bait dispenser other animals can't break into.

Raccoons have pilfered one being tested. "And we'll probably have a hard time keeping a motivated bear out," Vercauteren said.

A solar-powered machine designed to open only when pigs grunt and snuffle is being tested at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area in Hunt, Texas. The HAM (Hog Annihilation Machine) delivers a 15,000-volt shock to animals that touch it when its hoppers are closed — not enough to faze a pig or injure other wildlife but enough to send a bear or raccoon running, said inventor Harold Monk of Denham Springs, Louisiana.

He said it can also be programmed to ignore sounds. When a wildlife camera showed it opening to an alligator's bellow, he took the camera's recording and fed it to HAM's sound card.

"I said, 'That sound is not a hog.' Thereafter, it never opened again on that sound," Monk said.

SALEM, N.H. (AP) — Police in New Hampshire say an unruly driver zapped with a stun gun during a traffic stop yanked out the barbs and fled, prompting a two-state pursuit.

The fracas began after midnight Saturday in Salem when an officer pulled over 52-year-old Robert Zygarowski of Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. Police say he was uncooperative, and the officer shocked him.

Police say Zygarowski pulled out the barbs, jumped in his car and sped away, beginning a chase that ended when his tire blew in Massachusetts. Police say Zygarowski climbed out of his car, charged at the officer and fled in the marked cruiser.

Police say he later entered a gas station and announced he planned to shoot officers. The clerk called police, and Zygarowski was arrested.

Zygarowski is jailed awaiting a Monday arraignment.

You know, it is the 21st century, and it is possible to acknowledge that and make both the World Cup and the Olympics more affordable. The current waste and opulence simply aren't defensible anymore.

For the soccer pooh-bahs to demand that Brazil build new stadiums, costing billions of dollars, is unconscionable. How much more logical to utilize existing stadiums in neighboring countries, in large cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago.

As for the Olympics, rather than going through the notoriously rigorous process of voting for a new host city every few years, it would be sensible to pick three permanent sites, rotating them every Olympiad from Asia to Europe to the Americas — let's say, Tokyo to London to Los Angeles.

And even then, certain events could be allotted to nearby cities. For the LA Games, give San Francisco gymnastics, say, and San Diego the equestrian competitions.

The idea that such things as large cycling and swimming facilities have to be constructed every four years as, basically, a matter of planned obsolescence, is simply economically criminal.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on the issue.

LONDON (AP) — Imagine what the reception will be like for Andy Murray on Monday when he first strides onto the green grass of Centre Court at Wimbledon.

A year ago, Murray became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the singles title at a tournament the locals refer to simply as "The Championships," ending a nation's long wait and sparking talk of a knighthood.

This year, Murray gets the defending champion's honor of playing the fortnight's first match on the most famous tennis court in the world. Seems safe to say that 15,000 or so of his closest friends will greet him with a full-throated roar.

"As the time gets nearer, and, you know, I get ready to play the first match on Monday, I'll definitely ... be excited about it," Murray said. "I will be nervous. It (is) an experience; something I have never experienced before. Players have talked about it in the past, that it's a great experience. But it can also be a nerve-racking one."

Murray had a slow start this season, coming off back surgery, and he hasn't reached a final since Wimbledon 50 weeks ago.

But he showed he's on the way back to peak form by reaching the semifinals at the French Open.

Performing that well on clay would seem to bode well for what he can do on grass.

"I expect to play well there. I'm really looking forward to going back. I think it will give me a lot of positive energy," Murray said. "I'm glad I'm back playing to a level that was able to get me through to the last stage of Slams."

As for how Murray will handle whatever jitters accompany his first trip back to the site of his most significant victory, his peers think he'll be just fine.

"The way he's got himself back into shape again, I think he can really believe again. That's what's most important now," said Roger Federer, who won seven of his record 17 major championships at Wimbledon and is coming off a grass title at Halle, Germany. "(Being) defending champion is never an easy thing. But then again, he played so well on grass the last few years. ... I would feel comfortable if I was Andy at this point."

Novak Djokovic, the 2011 champion and runner-up to Murray last year, agreed.

"I'm sure that Andy, with all the experience he has playing in the big matches, and especially here in front of his home crowd, understands and knows the way how to handle the pressure and expectation," Djokovic said. "So I expect him to do well."

The other reigning singles champion, France's Marion Bartoli, will not try to defend her title, announcing her retirement at 28, less than six weeks after the 2013 final. That actually fits well with the quirky career of Bartoli, who certainly did things her way, down to her two-fisted strokes for forehands, backhands and volleys.

While Murray's baseline game is rather conventional by today's standards, his coaching decisions have been groundbreaking. After parting in March with Ivan Lendl — whose hiring was followed by those of fellow past greats of the game Stefan Edberg (by Federer) and Boris Becker (by Djokovic) — Murray picked former women's No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo as a replacement this month.

"All I'm interested in is to be able to help him (reach) his goals," Mauresmo said. "That's about it."

Murray, who grew up in Dunblane, Scotland, has made plain that those aims are primarily about winning more Grand Slam trophies.

He earned his first at the 2012 U.S. Open, shortly after winning a gold medal at the London Olympics. Those triumphs followed his loss to Federer at Wimbledon that year. In 2013, Murray beat Djokovic in the Wimbledon final to end the 77-year drought.

Scotland's vote in September about whether to break away from Britain — Murray has steadfastly avoided weighing in — will be a popular topic of conversation around London this summer, and with England's early elimination from the World Cup, the attention on "Our Andy" at Wimbledon figures to be as strong as ever.

"Anytime you taste what it feels like to win it once, you obviously want to win it again. So there's an element of pressure you put on yourself, for starters, because you sort of want to see what that feels like at least one more time," said ESPN analyst John McEnroe, who won Wimbledon three times. "From that standpoint, he's going to be feeling pressure. Clearly now once people know he can do it, they're going to think he should do it again."


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Kevin McCarthy seems likely to inherit defeated Rep. Eric Cantor's No. 2 House Republican leadership job, but GOP restiveness along ideological and regional lines is on full display in a wide-open race for the party's next-ranking post of majority whip.

McCarthy, R-Calif., who has climbed quickly since arriving in Congress in 2007, seemed likely to become majority leader when House Republican lawmakers meet privately Thursday to elect their leadership lineup for the rest of this year.

"I have the courage to lead but the wisdom to listen," McCarthy, 49, told a reporter Wednesday. As the party's whip counter and the chief recruiter of 2010 candidates who helped the GOP capture House control that November, he said, "I understand people's frustrations."

Those frustrations seem plentiful as Republicans continue debating the meaning of Cantor's startling loss to a political neophyte last week in what was supposed to be a routine GOP primary in his Richmond, Virginia, area district. The next day, Cantor announced he would step down as majority leader on July 31, setting off the scramble for leadership jobs.

The contest to replace McCarthy as whip seemed a tough call among three rivals, with added doses of unpredictability because personal relationships matter and because Thursday's voting is by secret ballot.

The contenders are Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, leader of an organization of House conservatives; Peter Roskam of Illinois, McCarthy's deputy whip; and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, a second-term lawmaker who may attract votes from tea party lawmakers who feel Scalise has been too cooperative with party leaders.

Challenging McCarthy in a long-shot bid was second-term Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho. A conservative rebel who refused to back John Boehner, R-Ohio, as speaker on the first day of the new Congress in 2013, Labrador, 46, said the current leadership team must be changed.

"If you vote for the status quo tomorrow, you will prove that we are still not listening" to disgruntled voters, Labrador told fellow Republicans in a closed-door meeting Wednesday, according to remarks distributed by his staff. Such a result would imperil GOP efforts to win Senate control this November and capture the White House in 2016, Labrador said.

Though that sentiment was widely shared among some of the more conservative GOP lawmakers, many others said now was the time for calm. That — and lightning-fast moves by McCarthy last week to solidify support — seemed to make the majority leader race uncompetitive.

"Given the way Cantor is going out, it's important to show a little bit of stability," said Rep. John Campbell, R-Calif., who said he backed McCarthy.

A McCarthy victory would elevate the genial one-time deli owner who became a congressional aide and then a California state legislator before being elected to the House from Bakersfield, California. McCarthy has been close to Cantor, though his 72 percent rating by the American Conservative Union for key votes last year was less than Cantor's 84 percent.

Several factors were roiling the race for whip, including regional sensitivities.

With McCarthy's expected ascension and both Boehner and No. 4 GOP leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state unchallenged, that left only the No. 3 job available for a lawmaker not from a state President Barack Obama carried in 2012. In a nod to that, Roskam promised colleagues that if he became whip, he would appoint a deputy from a Republican-leaning state.

Also glaringly missing from the team was a lawmaker from the solidly GOP South. That omission could give Scalise an edge, though it wasn't the dominant factor for everyone.

"That's assuming somebody would go to the table and represent a particular region," said Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., who said he was undecided. "That's our job," he said referring to lawmakers.

The issue of immigration was also coloring the voting. Some conservatives were abandoning Labrador — despite his 100 percent rating from the American Conservative Union — because he was part of a bipartisan group that unsuccessfully tried to craft an immigration compromise. Some tea party lawmakers equated that effort with granting amnesty to some immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

No matter how Thursday's races ends, many are expecting new contests when GOP lawmakers meet again after the November elections to choose leaders for the Congress that begins in January.

"What I can guarantee is there will be some races in the fall. I don't think anybody will be uncontested," said freshman Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C.


Associated Press writers David Espo and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Saturday night accused President Barack Obama and other Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education and said that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S. with people ready for "a hostile takeover" of the nation's capital.

Jindal spoke at the annual conference hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group led by longtime Christian activist Ralph Reed. Organizers said more than 1,000 evangelical leaders attended the three-day gathering. Republican officials across the political spectrum concede that evangelical voters continue to play a critical role in GOP politics.

"I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States," Jindal said, "where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren."

The governor said there was a "silent war" on religious liberty being fought in the U.S. — a country that he said was built on that liberty.

"I am tired of the left. They say they're for tolerance, they say they respect diversity. The reality is this: They respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them," he said. "The left is trying to silence us and I'm tired of it, I won't take it anymore."

Earlier this week, Jindal signed an executive order to block the use of tests tied to Common Core education standards in his state, a position favored by tea party supporters and conservatives. He said he would continue to fight against the administration's attempts to implement Common Core.

"The federal government has no role, no right and no place dictating standards in our local schools across these 50 states of the United States of America," Jindal said.

Jindal used humor in criticizing the Obama administration on several fronts, referencing the Bergdahl prisoner exchange and the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

"Are we witnessing right now the most radically, extremely liberal, ideological president of our entire lifetime right here in the United States of America, or are we witnessing the most incompetent president of the United States of America in the history of our lifetimes? You know, it is a difficult question," he said. "I've thought long and hard about it. Here's the only answer I've come up with, and I'm going to quote Secretary Clinton: 'What difference does it make?'"

The conference featured most of the well-known Republicans considering a 2016 presidential run, including Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Jindal is expected to announce after the November midterm elections whether or not he will launch a presidential bid.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense lawyers for the ex-Blackwater security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqis in Baghdad nearly seven years ago are raising the possibility that prosecution witnesses, with direction from Iraqi law enforcement investigators, have orchestrated their stories.

The defense has been bedeviled by the fact that no one has come forward to support its self-defense theory — that the guards acted because they were under attack.

The most prevalent explanation since the shootings on Sept. 16, 2007, is that there were no incoming shots.

The carnage at Nisoor Square turned out to be the darkest episode of contractor violence during the war and inflamed anti-American feelings around the world. The trial, which began June 11 and is expected to last months, could feature the largest group of foreign witnesses ever to travel to the U.S. to participate in a criminal trial, according to the Justice Department.

The first witness to testify, a man whose 9-year-old son was killed at the square, told an intriguing tale this past week about money and contacts between the victims' families and a top Iraqi investigator who looked into the shootings.

Mohammad Kinani Al-Razzaq broke down and sobbed uncontrollably about the loss of his son, leaving the jury with an indelible picture of grief.

Under cross-examination the following day, Kinani recounted how Iraqi law enforcement officials ran a TV ad for anyone with information about the shootings to get in touch. Kinani said he did so, meeting with Col. Faris Karim of Iraq's national police.

When the two met shortly after the shootings, there were other people there who said they also had been at Nisoor Square. An American Army officer instructed those gathered not to share information about what they had seen, Kinani testified.

"We did tell each other, for example, I would say, 'My son got killed.' The other one says, 'My brother got injured,' or so on," Kinani said.

"And everyone agreed that this convoy" of four armored Blackwater vehicles "did not take any incoming fire, correct?" Kinani was asked.

"Yes, of course," he answered.

So "the lead police officer investigating this case ... tells you and others, none of my men shot out there, correct?" Kinani was asked.

"Yes," Kinani said.

"Col. Faris told you and other witnesses at Nisoor Square that the police officers that were on the scene did not shoot at the convoy, correct?" Kinani was asked.

"He said the Iraqi police did not shoot," Kinani replied.

In a number of conversations between Kinani and the colonel, Faris told Kinani that Blackwater Worldwide was telling people lies. According to Kinani, the lies included a car bomb going off, precipitating the shootings, and that Iraqi police had been shooting at the Blackwater vehicles at Nisoor Square.

"One of the things that he told you was a lie was the claim that the Iraqi police were shooting at Blackwater, correct?" Kinani was asked.

"Yes," Kinani said.

Years later, the colonel made a phone call to Kinani's home in Michigan in December 2012. Faris said he thought Blackwater would offer Kinani money not to testify.

"Col. Faris asked you to tell him how much money it would take you — how much money you would want from Blackwater not to testify in this case, didn't he?" Kinani was asked.

"Yes, yes. As I said previously, he did not come with an offer and he wasn't talking seriously," Kinani replied. "He was just throwing questions at me and wanted to see what would my reaction be."

Kinani reported the conversation to the FBI.

"I was worried that Blackwater had tricks up its sleeves," said Kinani. "And that's why I alerted the FBI so they would be on notice and they'd be careful."

"Col. Faris also told you that he had spoken to other witnesses to these events about taking money from Blackwater, didn't he?" one of the defense lawyers asked Kinani.

"Yes," he answered.

Kinani said no one from Blackwater ever contacted him to offer him money.

The defense lawyers who questioned Kinani were Brian Heberlig, representing Paul Slough, and Thomas Connolly, representing Nicholas Slatten. The other defendants are former Blackwater security guards Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard.

All four defendants, members of a Blackwater team called Raven 23, have pleaded not guilty in the killings and the wounding of 18 others.

In opening statements Wednesday, Heberlig said there was ample evidence of incoming gunfire at Nisoor Square. Shell casings from AK-47s were found in three locations near the traffic circle and there were multiple bullet strikes on one of the convoy vehicles, the defense argued.

Other members of the Blackwater convoy reported, and radio logs reflected, that various members of the Raven 23 team said it appeared there was incoming gunfire.

In addition, bullets blew out part of the radiator on one of the Blackwater team's armored vehicles, defense lawyers said.

As armed gunmen started shooting from several locations, some of the Blackwater security guards returned fire to defend themselves and "that is not a crime," Heberlig told the jury.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The nation's video game athletes have gathered in Southern California to battle aliens and bad guys.

The Orange County Register (http://bit.ly/1nUF0qa ) says more than 1,000 eSports players are taking part in the Major League Gaming Championships in Anaheim, which began Friday and run through Sunday.

The contestants don special headphones and face off in soundproof booths in games such as "StarCraft II," "Call of Duty: Ghosts" and "Super Smash Bros. Melee." Announcers provide the play-by-play.

They're playing for glory and $150,000 in prize money. Some have practiced up to 12 hours a day.

About 1,500 people can watch the games live, and more than 2 million from around the world are expected to watch online.

Citing a rise in the number of children and families attempting to immigrate into the Southwestern U.S. illegally, the Obama administration says it will use new detention facilities to house the families.

The administration says it will boost enforcement efforts and speed up removal proceedings. And it will try to dispel a notion among some migrants that current U.S. policies will allow them to enter the country illegally.

That belief was mentioned in a recent Los Angeles Times story that cited an internal Border Patrol study.

After speaking with hundreds of migrants, officials wrote, "A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration 'permisos' until the end of June 2014."

Earlier this week, reports of an influx of migrants from Central America led officials in Texas to launch a "surge" in enforcement to secure its border with Mexico.

Specifics about the White House's new plan – including the facilities' locations and the number of families allowed to enter the U.S. – aren't yet public. We'll update our reporting when that information is available.

From the AP:

"The Homeland Security Department did not immediately say how many families would be kept in the new immigration jails or where they will be located.

"The administration has released an unspecified number of such families into the U.S. in the past several months with instructions to report later to Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices, but it won't say how many it has released or how many subsequently appeared as ordered."

URBANDALE, Iowa (AP) — Republicans in Iowa are gathering at a state convention near Des Moines to pick a candidate to run to replace retiring Congressman Tom Latham.

Six candidates are continuing their quest for the nomination at the meeting. They competed in a June 3 primary but all failed to draw the 35 percent of the vote required to nail the candidacy without a convention.

Establishment Republicans are hoping to hold the seat in the swing-voting district that includes Des Moines and rural southwest Iowa. However Democrats are hoping Republicans will pick a conservative with tea party backing, so they can steal the seat.

The candidates include a businessman, a Republican activist, the Iowa secretary of state, an ethanol lobbyist, a former U.S. Senate staffer and a state senator.

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — At least 12 people died and an unknown number were missing after heavy rain and floods hit parts of northeastern Bulgaria, officials said Friday.

Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev confirmed that 10 bodies, including two children, were recovered from floodwaters in the worst-hit Black Sea resort town of Varna. It was unclear how many more people were missing after torrential rain flooded large parts of the town.

Two more bodies were recovered in the northern city of Dobrich.

A state of emergency was declared in Varna's low-lying district of Asparuhovo, where many houses were flooded and dozens of cars had floated away, in some cases lying on top of each other. Rescue teams were bringing distressed people to temporary shelters.

Many people seen on the streets were crying over the deaths of loved ones, others desperately looked for help.

Yani Yanev, a 61-year-old resident of the Asparuhovo district, pointed at the mud-covered streets, wrecked cars and debris, saying it was the worst disaster in his lifetime.

"It is unbelievable and unexplainable when you look at all the damage around caused by the flood that hit us," Yanev said.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, who arrived in Varna early Friday, called the flooding "a huge tragedy." The government declared Monday, June 23, a national day of mourning.

Large parts of the Balkan country have been hit by heavy rain and hailstorms, and hundreds of people have been cut off from electricity and food supplies.

Emergency teams were dispatched to the worst-affected areas, and the Bulgarian Red Cross was providing drinking water, food and essential supplies to victims.

The national meteorological service said rainfall in eastern Bulgaria in the past 24 hours equaled the average amount for a month, and warned that more rain was expected.

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. (AP) — Rescuers on Mount Rainier have suspended their search for a well-known, 70-year-old outdoors writer who hasn't been seen since she separated from her hiking partner on Wednesday.

The National Park Service didn't give an explanation and said it would release more information as it could.

Karen Sykes was reportedly working on a story when she and her partner encountered snow about 5,000 feet. Her partner stayed as she went on, with the idea that they'd reconvene, but she never turned up.

Six ground crews, including two dog teams, combed an expanded search area near the Owyhigh Lakes Trail on Rainier's east side Saturday. Rescuers also searched by air.

Sykes is known in the Northwest hiking community and has written numerous hiking stories for online publications and newspapers.

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Sierra Leone on Saturday defended its response to the Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa, saying it was dismayed by allegations that affected governments are not doing enough.

The deadly disease, which causes bleeding, high fevers and organ failure, has been linked to more than 330 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. This outbreak has killed more people than any other on record, according to Doctors Without Borders.

The outbreak is "totally out of control" and the governments involved and international organizations are not doing enough to combat it, a senior official with Doctors Without Borders said Friday. More health experts are needed as is more education about how to stop the spread of the disease, said Bart Janssens, the medical group's director of operations in Brussels.

But Sierra Leone's Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Theo Nicol said that criticism is unfair, saying that his country has worked hard to educate people about how to stop the spread of the disease and has declared a state of emergency in the area where people have died.

"So if (Doctors Without Borders) is now saying that the disease is out of control, then we all share the blame for it being uncontrollable," he said. "We should all share the blame and later on share the credit when we finally combat the disease, which will be soon."

The current outbreak, which began in Guinea either late last year or early this year, had appeared to slow before picking up pace again in recent weeks, spreading to the capital of neighboring Liberia for the first time. Experts have said the disease is particularly difficult to contain because it has spread to multiple locations, including densely populated urban areas. Ebola usually strikes in eastern or central Africa.

Ebola spreads through direct contact with infected people and has no cure or vaccine. Containing an outbreak, therefore, focuses on supportive care for the ill and isolating them to limit the spread of the virus.

The highest previous death toll was in the first recorded Ebola outbreak in Congo in 1976, when 280 deaths were reported, according to the WHO. Because Ebola often touches remote areas and the first cases sometimes go unrecognized, it is likely that some deaths are uncounted during outbreaks.

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (AP) — A swollen river that threatened homes where Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota meet crested earlier and at a lower level than expected early Friday. Minnesota officials toured water-logged areas of that state, saying the severity and breadth of flooding make a federal disaster request a near certainty.

The less-serious crest of the Big Sioux River prompted crews to start taking down sandbags and other containers blocking a section of Interstate 29 that acted as a temporary levee to protect an at-risk South Dakota city.

The National Weather Service had predicted the river would hit a record high around midday, but later said it crested at Sioux City, Iowa, around midnight a couple of feet below the previous record.

Days of thunderstorms upstream swelled the 420-mile-long river and threatened homes and businesses in the three surrounding states, including up to 400 in a neighborhood of North Sioux City, South Dakota.

Crews built a temporary levee across a section of Interstate 29, forcing motorists to make detours along country roads. National Guard soldiers and South Dakota Transportation workers started dismantling the levee on Friday, removing sandbags and other containers. The governor's office said I-29 should reopen later Friday.

Floodwaters blocked many of the roads connecting South Dakota and Iowa between Sioux Falls and Sioux City.

"Great news," Gary Bogenrief, 65, who lives near McCook Lake, said upon hearing the levee was coming down.

The change in the crest was due to a large amount of water released Tuesday night when a levee failed upstream at Akron, Iowa, said Mike Gillispie, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.

"Enough water went through the levee failure out into agricultural land there that it lowered the amount of water coming through at peak crest at Sioux City," he said.

The river had been expected to crest at Sioux City about a foot above the 108.3-foot record set in 1969. Instead, it peaked at 105.6 feet and began dropping.

As a result, the river in the Sioux City area will stay at a higher level longer than previously predicted, Gillispie said. He expects it to stay above the 99-foot flood stage, the level at which farmland around Sioux City is underwater, into Sunday or Monday.

He said as long as the area doesn't get heavy rain over the next few days, the water should fall back below flood levels. While there is potential for scattered thunderstorms, he doesn't anticipate widespread rain that could send the river significantly higher.

In Minnesota, heavy rains over several days left farm fields are under water and roads washed out. Dams have failed and water has infiltrated homes from the far north to the far south of the state. Four state parks have been fully or partially closed because of high water.

"The damage is really unprecedented and very widespread," Gov. Mark Dayton said.

In Minneapolis, a large section of mud gave way on a cliff near the Mississippi River. The slide occurred not far from a hospital near the University of Minnesota's campus. Minneapolis Assistant Fire Chief Charles Brynteson said the hospital building is set on bedrock and is sound. Two motorists accelerated to safety as the mud and debris were falling.

"They very easily could have been trapped," he said. "It was close."

Downstream, the Omaha Public Power District said it will reduce power as it prepares for rising water on the Missouri River. The district's Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant sits about 20 miles north of Omaha, and was surrounded by water during flooding three years ago.


Pitt reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press reporter Brian Bakst in St. Paul contributed to this report.


Contact Dirk Lammers at http://www.twitter.com/ddlammers.

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. women's soccer star goalkeeper Hope Solo was arrested at a suburban Seattle home early Saturday on suspicion of assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew, but her attorney insisted that Solo herself was a victim in the altercation.

"Hope is not guilty of any crime," attorney Todd Maybrown said in an email to The Associated Press. "In fact, our investigation reveals that Hope was assaulted and injured during this unfortunate incident. We look forward to the opportunity to present the true facts in court and to having this matter behind Hope very soon."

Officers responded to her sister's home just before 1 a.m. after receiving a 911 call that a woman at the Kirkland residence was hitting people and that she refused to stop or leave, the Kirkland Police Department said in a news release.

They found Solo intoxicated and upset, saw injuries on her nephew and her sister, and arrested her after speaking with those present and determining that she was the primary aggressor, the release said.

She was booked into jail for investigation of two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault, and she was expected to remain in custody until an appearance Monday at Kirkland Municipal Court.

A telephone number listed for her was not accepting incoming calls Saturday, and the voice mail for a listing at the sister's home was full.

The sister was not identified by police, but in her memoir, Solo writes that she has a half sister named Terry.

Solo, 32, has won two Olympic gold medals for the U.S. women's national team. She also plays with the Seattle Reign of the National Women's Soccer League.

"We are aware of the situation with Hope and are now gathering information," the Reign posted on the team's Twitter feed.

In 2012, she married former Seattle Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens. He was arrested just before their wedding for investigation of assault after a disturbance involving her, but he was not charged. Maybrown represented Stevens in that case.

Solo said soon afterward that there never was an assault and that she and her new husband were happy.

"It's unfortunate what the media can do to judge before the facts are out there. It's hard to see, but it's a hard truth, and it's part of life," she said then. "I'm happy. I'm happily married. I would never stand for domestic violence. I've never been hit in my life."

In her last appearance for the U.S., Solo recorded her 71st career shutout, a 1-0 victory over France on June 14 in Tampa, Florida. She sat out the team's game against France on Thursday night in Connecticut.


Follow Johnson at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a copyright lawsuit against Lady Gaga filed by a Chicago songwriter who accused her of stealing parts of one of her songs.

Rebecca Francescatti filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Chicago in 2011, alleging that Lady Gaga had copied music and the title lyric from her 1998 song "Juda."

Gaga's 2011 song is called "Judas."

Judge Marvin Aspen ruled this week that the songs do not have common lyrics, have different themes and sound nothing alike musically.

The judge also concluded there was not enough evidence that Gaga could have heard or known about Francescatti's song before publishing "Judas."

Aspen writes that the songs "are so utterly dissimilar that reasonable minds could not differ as to a lack of substantial similarity between them."

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Lionel Messi scored a superb goal in stoppage time to give Argentina a 1-0 victory over Iran on Saturday and secure his team's place in the second round of the World Cup.

Iran had defended solidly throughout the game and also took the match to Argentina in the second half, creating several chances to win the Group F match and cause a tournament sensation.

But Iran was punished for those missed chances when Messi picked up the ball about 20 yards (meters) out and curled a shot into the left hand corner.

It was a moment of individual brilliance, and showed why Messi has been voted world player of the year no fewer than four times. Up until that point, he had been kept quiet by stoic Iran defending, while Argentina had at times been exposed to counterattacks.

Iran had several chances to win it, especially in the second half. The best of those opportunities came in the 67th minute, when midfielder Ashkan Dejagah's powerful header from close range was tipped just over the bar by Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Earlier, lone striker Reza Ghoochannejhad's header from close range was saved by Romero after a cross from the right. He later missed a chance for a late winner when his shot was again saved by Romero.

Before the match, Iran faced criticism for its defensive tactics after a dour 0-0 draw against Nigeria. But before Messi's strike, Iranian and Brazilian fans were singing "Ole, ole, ole, ole, Iran Iran!" in recognition of the team's attempts to score a winner.

But Messi denied Iran what would have ranked as its greatest result by drawing with the former world champions.

The victory sent the pro-Argentina crowd into raptures and most of them stayed in the stands well after the match, chanting and waving scarves and flags, and watching highlights — including Messi's goal — on the big screens.

It almost looked like Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella's decision to return to an attacking lineup would backfire. In Argentina's 2-1 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Group F opener, Sabella started with a more defensive 5-3-2 lineup with only two strikers.

He then changed to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half — a system favored by Messi — and he continued with that lineup at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.

BEIRUT (AP) — In a reflection of how intertwined the Syria and Iraq conflicts have become, thousands of Shiite Iraqi militiamen helping President Bashar Assad crush the Sunni-led uprising against him are returning home, putting a strain on the overstretched Syrian military as it struggles to retain territory recaptured in recent months from rebels.

The borders between the two countries are being largely ignored, with fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant said to be crossing freely from one side to the other, transporting weapons, equipment and cash in a development that has potential to shift the balance of power in a largely stalemated battle.

The seizure of large chunks of Iraq by militants does offer Assad a messaging victory: he has long insisted that the uprising against him is the work of foreign-inspired Islamic extremists, suggesting that the West needs to work with him to check the influence of jihadis, and that the radicals, not the divided and weaker pro-Western moderate rebels, are the real alternative to his rule.

The violent actions and speedy successes of the same group in Iraq, against a government the West does essentially support, seem to align with his argument. And he can relish the fact that the U.S. is weighing airstrikes against Sunni militants in Iraq — and possibly Syria — while shying away from any military action against his government for the past three years.

But the developments also threaten to upset what has recently been an upward trend by Assad's forces in the three-year-old Syrian conflict.

The Syrian government is heavily reliant on foreign fighters to bolster its ranks and help quell the largely Sunni insurgency engulfing the country. They include thousands of Shiite Hezbollah fighters, Iranian Revolutionary Guard advisers and Iraqi militiamen who left their homes and headed to Syria to defend what they see as an attack on the Shiite regional axis comprised of Iran, Assad, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government in Iraq.

That axis is now under mounting pressure. The militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are carving out an ever-expanding fiefdom along the Iraqi-Syrian border. Earlier this month, they seized Iraq's city of Mosul — and they have vowed to march on to the Iraqi capital Baghdad as well. In the past few days, the militants seized two strategically located towns along the Euphrates River, including the Qaim border crossing with Syria — advancing their efforts to etch out a large region straddling the two conflict-ridden countries.

"The developments in Iraq are a double-edged sword for Assad," said Randa Slim, a director at the Washington-based Middle East Institute. "On one hand, these developments help Assad's narrative to his constituents and to the West that his fight is with terrorists and not against democrats." On the other hand, she said, the Islamic State's rapid and successful incursion into Iraq undermines Assad's claim that he is able to defeat them.

In the most immediate outcome, thousands of Iraqi Shiite militiamen fighting in Syria are heading back home to defend against the Sunni blitz, leaving behind gaping holes in areas under their control.

In interviews conducted by The Associated Press with returning Shiite fighters in Baghdad, many said they were responding to a call to arms issued in recent days by Iraq's Shiite spiritual leader Ali al-Sistani. Others said they considered Iraq to be the mother battle.

"Yes, we took part in the fighting in Syria. But now the priority is Iraq," said Jassem al-Jazaeri, a senior official in Iraq's Hezbollah Brigades, which is believed to be funded and trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Most of the Shiite Iraqi fighters in Syria — believed by some estimates to number between 20,000 and 30,000 — have been battling rebels in suburbs of the Syrian capital and particularly in the vicinity of Sayida Zeinab, home to a major Shiite shrine by the same name.

Syrian opposition activists say Syrian rebels are already exploiting the vacuum left by the Iraqis to mount attacks. A number of Hezbollah fighters were killed in an attack on the town of Rankous in the Qalamoun region last week. The town fell to government and Hezbollah forces two months ago.

Firas Abi Ali, head of Middle East and North Africa Analysis, IHS Country Risk, said in a recent analysis that the Syrian government will compensate for any redeployment of Iraqi fighters using manpower drawn mainly from Hezbollah.

"However, the Iraqi fighters' departure would probably temporarily reduce the ability of the Syrian government to mount new offensives and place it on the strategic defensive," he said.

Another concern for Assad is the possibility that the Islamic State might transfer advanced weapons and vehicles from Iraq across the border into Syria.

A senior Iraqi intelligence official confirmed that fighters have indeed begun doing this. The official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said the fighters recently seized depots in Mosul containing up to 400,000 pieces of weaponry and ammunition, and that a quarter of it has been moved to Syria, possibly for storage and safe guarding.

In a report Saturday, the global intelligence outfit Stratfor said the group has seized from retreating Iraqi soldiers armored vehicles, small arms, ammunition, artillery, communication devices, and possibly more.

"This gear would provide a substantial boost on the battleground in Syria, and the group has indeed already begun to transfer some of this equipment across the border," said the report.

Opposition activists in eastern Syria say they have not yet seen anything to indicate any game changing weapons at play.

Still, such reports are likely to make the West even less inclined to supply rebels in Syria with the advanced weaponry they need to confront Assad's military superiority.

"This will translate into less pressure on the Assad regime and more reluctance to arm the moderate Syrian rebel groups for fear that those weapons will fall in the hands of the jihadis," Slim said.

Observers also say the Iraq chaos is putting a strain on Shiite powerhouse Iran, as it labors to prop up beleaguered allies in both Iraq and Syria. Suleiman Takieddine, a columnist writing in the Lebanese daily As-Safir, said Iran's ability to endure a long war of attribution on multiple fronts, "economically, militarily and politically," is in doubt.


Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad.

"Flying Shoes" (Bloomsbury) by Lisa Howorth

There are many good reasons to read and enjoy "Flying Shoes."

For one, it is the debut novel of Lisa Howorth, a much revered stalwart of the literary South. She is the founder, with her husband, Richard, of Square Books, a venerable independent bookstore that took a perch on the town square in Oxford, Mississippi, in 1979.

After all these years of promoting and befriending a broad cast of authors both famous and fledgling, Howorth now offers a book of her own. There is a measure of celebration in her arrival as a novelist.

And how fares the book itself?

Its central character, Mary Byrd Thornton, is a refreshing creation. She's bright and brassy, caring but nonconformist, a Southern woman with two school-age children, a dutiful husband, an eclectic circle of friends and maybe an oddball lover on the side.

Mary Byrd, as she's most often called, has a lot on her mind. Flowers, plants and shrubs. Family history. Criminal investigations, old and new.

On one level, the book is a form of meditation, through fiction, of Howorth's loss of her young stepbrother in a molestation and murder many years ago. The crime occurred when Howorth was 15, and even after decades it has never been solved.

As the novel opens, Mary Byrd learns that the long-dormant probe into the killing of her 9-year-old stepbrother has been reopened and a suspect very likely will be prosecuted. Mary Byrd lives in a Mississippi university town — think Oxford — and will need to travel to Virginia to meet with the cold case detective.

This is the thread of a plot that carries the narrative, but it often is lost as Mary Byrd's attention wanders and Howorth gives center stage to various secondary characters and events. For some readers, this can be frustrating. Long digressions can put a drag on the pace of the story.

But Howorth writes with real flair. Her riff on Mary Byrd's fear of flying is hilarious. In the space of a few pages she touches on every tic in the neurotic's bag of flight phobias.

Those secondary characters and events also can be expertly drawn. One of the best is Teever, a penniless black Vietnam veteran who lives in a cemetery and is one of Mary Byrd's good buddies. When he suffers a deep, ghastly cut to his foot, he seeks out impoverished Mexicans in a rundown trailer park to provide the medical care — a chilling but wildly funny episode.

It is one of many well-crafted narrative detours — detours that tend to diminish the suspense of the child murder case that has been reopened. Over the length of the book, however, these divergent episodes form a memorable mosaic of a place, a time and a good-hearted woman at midlife, facing crises old and new.

MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo will play, and Portugal needs to win.

The world player of the year hasn't been able to shake a lingering left knee injury since coming to Brazil, but he is expected to start Sunday when the Portuguese face the United States in a crucial Group G match at the World Cup.

"He trains everyday with all of us. So Cristiano is fit to play," Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles said Saturday. "That's all I can say."

Portugal lost its opening match to Germany 4-0, and another loss on Sunday will mean immediate elimination from the World Cup. The Americans, however, won their opening game and can secure a spot in the second round with another victory.

As usual when Ronaldo plays, though, the outcome of the match can be easily swayed by a moment of brilliance from the Real Madrid winger.

"He's strong physically. He's a fast runner. He's the best in the world with the ball at his feet," United States goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "That's why he's the best player in the world.

"We're going to do our best to bottle him up."

Ronaldo played in the loss to Germany on Monday, but he has since been seen at training with a brace on his left knee.

If he is not 100 percent healthy for the match at the Arena da Amazonia, an already undermanned Portugal could struggle to earn the three points needed to stay in the tournament.

Portugal coach Paulo Bento, however, said he is not putting any pressure on his star player.

"In October 2010, I told him once and that's it, I would never put on his shoulders, or anybody else, the responsibility to solve the problems," Bento said. "The only person that has one individual responsibility is me."

Even with Ronaldo on the field, Portugal will be short-handed.

Defender Fabio Coentrao, Ronaldo's teammate at Real Madrid, and striker Hugo Almeida have been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with injuries. Pepe, another Real Madrid defender, is suspended.

The shakeup on the field won't be the only changes in the Portugal team following the opening loss.

"We have to change the result," Meireles said. "It's not because of a defeat in the previous game that we're going to change. We all know what we have to do. We're all prepared to do our best."

The match will be the third to be played in the heat and humidity at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, the most exotic of the 12 World Cup venues.

Both sides say they are prepared for the conditions.

"Everybody can feel the difficulty that we and the United States will have tomorrow. Very high humidity," Meireles said. "That is a complicating factor, but it's complicated for both teams, so we can't have any excuses there."

Whether it's the weather, the injuries or anything else, the certainty for Portugal is the need for victory on Sunday.

"Either we win," Bento said, "or we start packing our bags."

The Washington Post reports that in 2005 a project with the code name Devil Eyes produced action dolls of Osama bin Laden. The project didn't happen, but one doll lives on — at the CIA.

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio portrayed himself as a man of the people in last year's election. On Saturday, he became a pirate among mermaids.

De Blasio showed up for Saturday's zany Coney Island Mermaid Parade wearing a puffy pirate shirt and brandishing a fake sword. Organizers say he's the first mayor to come in costume.

De Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, and their daughter, Chiara (kee-AHR'-uh) de Blasio, chose blue and gold mermaid dresses.

De Blasio's son, Dante, was bare-chested and painted blue.

Dante and Chiara were chosen King Neptune and Queen Mermaid of the parade.

The teens were wheeled in a 1923 wicker rolling chair along the parade route.

The event draws hundreds of thousands of revelers to the beach each year. Many wear revealing, mermaid-themed costumes.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A Democratic candidate who reluctantly came out of the closet last year found himself serving as the grand marshal of Maine's biggest gay pride parade and festival Saturday and urged activists to continue fighting to eliminate discrimination and promote equality.

Mike Michaud, who would become the nation's first openly gay person to be elected governor if he unseats Republican Paul LePage in November, said it would be powerful for the gay community to have a seat at the table in discussions with governors across the country on equality issues.

"Maine has come a long ways and our nation has come a long ways, but there's still a long way to go," he said in an interview before he marched alongside a white convertible down the roughly milelong route in downtown Portland.

Gay rights activists say the six-term congressman's victory would be a key milestone in their movement toward equality, inspire other gay leaders to pursue public office and send a positive message to the community's youth.

When Michaud came out publicly last year, he said he didn't want to focus on his personal life in the three-person race with independent Eliot Cutler.

But his potentially historic candidacy has caught the eye of national groups like the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which has bundled $30,000 to $50,000 for his campaign.

During the parade, which drew thousands, the six-term congressman shook hands and took pictures with supporters who chanted "We like Mike" as he walked in front of the "Loud and Proud" marching band.

He followed motorcyclists wearing rainbow wigs and feather boas and the parade's two other grand marshals — the coordinator at the University of Southern Maine's Center for Sexualities and Gender Diversity and a transgender student who won a discrimination lawsuit after her school refused to let her use the girls' bathroom.

Aside from fundraising, observers say Michaud's sexual orientation will likely have other political importance in one of the first states to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box in 2012.

It could turn away some deeply conservative and religious voters, but they likely wouldn't have supported the Democrat anyway, said Michael Cuzzi, a former Democratic campaign strategist.

Michaud has come under fire from his political foes for voting against anti-discrimination laws for gays and other pro-equality measures while in the state Legislature. His campaign said his position on the issues has evolved over the years and he's now strongly pro-equality.

That turnaround and his decision to come out could attract progressives who were not fans of his in earlier elections, said Sandy Maisel, political science professor at Colby College.

Michaud is headlining a group of several openly gay candidates around the country this year, including Heather Mizeur, who's seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Maryland. Meanwhile, three candidates are trying to become the first openly gay Republicans to be elected to Congress: Dan Innis in New Hampshire, Richard Tisei in Massachusetts and Carl DeMaio in California.

If elected, Michaud wouldn't be the first gay governor. New Jersey's Jim McGreevey had already been voted into office when he announced in 2004 that he was gay and admitted to an extramarital affair with a male staffer. He subsequently resigned.

Twenty-nine year-old Amber Hodgkins, who was watching the parade with her dog, said a victory for Michaud could improve Maine's image nationally as an inclusive community and provide a powerful example to young gay people across the country.

"You don't have to choose to be out and have a career," she said. "You can have it all."


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DETROIT (AP) — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday became the most prominent religious group in the United States to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting to sell church stock in three companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories.

The General Assembly voted by a razor-thin margin — 310-303 — to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two years ago, the General Assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.

The American Jewish Committee, a policy and advocacy group based in New York, said the vote was "driven by hatred of Israel." But Heath Rada, moderator for the church meeting, said immediately after the vote that "in no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters."

The decision is expected to reverberate beyond the 1.8 million-member church. It comes amid discouragement over failed peace talks that have left activists desperate for some way to affect change and as the broader movement known as BDS — or boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — has gained some momentum in the U.S., Israel's closest and most important ally.

Presbyterians who advocated for divestment insisted their action was not part of the broader boycott movement. Israeli officials, along with many American Jewish groups, denounced the campaign as an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state. Separately, the assembly also voted to re-examine its support for a two-state solution.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Israeli Embassy in Washington denounced the resolution as "shameful."

"Voting for symbolic measures marginalizes and removes its ability to be a constructive partner to promote peace in the Middle East," the statement said.

Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of the BDS movement, praised the vote as a "sweet victory for human rights."

He said Presbyterian supporters of Palestinian rights have introduced divestment into the U.S. mainstream and have given Palestinians "real hope in the face of the relentless and intensifying cruelty of Israel's regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid."

The top Presbyterian legislative body has been considering divestment for a decade. Representatives of the Presbyterian socially responsible investment arm told the national meeting in Detroit that their efforts to lobby the three companies for change had failed. Carol Hylkema of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian group that advocates for Palestinians and spearheaded the drive for divestment, said their action was modeled on the divestment movement to end apartheid in South Africa. The 2012 assembly had endorsed a boycott of Israeli products made in the Palestinian territories.

"Because we are a historical peacemaking church, what we have done is, we have stood up for nonviolent means of resistance to oppression and we have sent a clear message to a struggling society that we support their efforts to resist in a nonviolent way the oppression being thrust upon them," said the Rev. Jeffrey DeYoe, of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network.

The vote was the subject of intense lobbying both from within and outside the church. Rabbis and other members of Jewish Voice for Peace, which advocates for Palestinians, lined the halls of the meeting and prayed in vigils outside the convention center wearing T-shirts that read, "Another Jew Supporting Divestment." Other rabbis and their Presbyterian supporters held panel discussions and sent letters to delegates urging them to vote no.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the liberal Union for Reform Judaism, which is the largest branch of American Judaism, addressed the delegates twice, urging them to reject divestment. After the vote, Jacobs said the denomination as a whole is no longer "a partner for joint work on Israel-Palestine peace issues."

In leading an effort to strike down the proposal, Frank Allen of the Central Florida Presbytery told delegates, "Divestment will create dissension. Dialogue and relationship building will lay the groundwork for true peace."

Bill Ward of the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, based in Spokane, Washington, argued the proposal was not an attack on Israel. The measure adopted Friday reaffirms Israel's right to exist. "It is motivated by stewardship integrity, not partisan political advocacy," Ward said.

Two smaller U.S. religious groups have divested in protest of Israeli policies: the Friends Fiduciary Corp., which manages assets for U.S. Quakers, and the Mennonite Central Committee. Last week, the pension board of the United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant group in the U.S., revealed plans to sell holdings worth about $110,000 in G4S, which provides security equipment and has contracts with Israel's prison system. However, the United Methodist Church had rejected church-wide divestment.

Motorola Solutions said in a statement that the company follows the law and its own policies that address human rights. Hewlett-Packard said its checkpoints for Palestinians were developed to expedite passage "in a secure environment, enabling people to get to their place of work or to carry out their business in a faster and safer way." Caterpillar has said it does not sell equipment to Israel, just to the U.S. government.

A church spokeswoman estimated the value of Presbyterian holdings in the companies at $21 million.


Zoll reported from New York.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two senators unveiled a bipartisan plan Wednesday to raise federal gasoline and diesel taxes for the first time in more than two decades, pitching the proposal as a solution to Congress' struggle to pay for highway and transit programs.

The plan offered by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would raise the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gas tax and 24.4-cents-a- gallon diesel tax by 12 cents each over the next two years, and then index the taxes to keep pace with inflation.

The plan also calls for offsetting the tax increases with other taxes cuts. It suggests that could be done by permanently extending about 50 federal tax breaks that expired this year, but the senators indicated they would be open to other suggestions for offsets.

The federal Highway Trust Fund that pays for highway and transit aid is forecast to go broke by late August. Revenue from gas taxes and other transportation user fees that go into the fund haven't kept pace with federal aid promised to states. People are driving less per capita and cars are more fuel efficient, keeping revenues fairly flat. But nation's infrastructure is aging, creating greater demand for new and rebuilt roads and bridges. At the same time, the cost of construction has increased.

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A magazine that published compromising private conversations of top leaders has handed evidence over to prosecutors.

Jacek Kondracki, a lawyer for the weekly, Wprost, said he gave prosecutors a pen drive containing the evidence Saturday.

It is the latest develoment in a week-old scandal that threatens to topple the government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Last weekend Wprost released a recording of a conversation between central bank head Marek Belka and Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz in which they discuss how the bank could help the governing party win re-election in 2015, a possible violation of the bank's independence.

Prosecutors raided Wprost's office on Wednesday but editor Sylwester Latkowski refused to hand over any materials, trying to protect his anonymous source. Kondracki said he didn't know what was on the pen drive.

NEW DELHI (AP) — India is cracking down on foreign-funded charities after receiving an internal report alleging they are costing the country up to 3 percent of its GDP by rallying communities against polluting industries.

The national Investigative Bureau's report — a copy of which was obtained Thursday by the Associated Press — also accuses the groups including Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Action Aid of providing reports "used to build a record against India and serve as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests of Western Governments."

The Home Ministry said Thursday it would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the report, which has sparked a firestorm of debate in Indian newspapers and on TV news channels.

But in a letter last week, the ministry ordered the Reserve Bank of India to hold all foreign contributions to India-based charities until they are cleared by the ministry, spokesman K.S. Dhatwalia said. He said Thursday the order would help the government control how much money was coming into India, and how it was being spent. The charities had previously reported annually on how they used their funding.

The report specifically criticized the charities for organizing public protests against nuclear power plants, uranium mines, coal-fired power plants, genetically modified crops and electronic waste.

"The negative impact on GDP growth is assessed to be 2-3 percent" each year, the report says, without elaborating on how that assessment was made.

Organizations and activists named in the report called the allegations ludicrous.

"If indeed we are a threat to national security, one would assume the government would move to engage with us," Greenpeace India's executive director, Samit Aich, said in a written statement to AP. "This seems to be a slander campaign designed to pave the way for rash (project) clearances, high-handed action against civil society and corporate Raj."

The crackdown reflects India's struggle to balance industrial and economic development with protecting and elevating its staggering number of poor.

While rapid economic growth — averaging near 10 percent for the past decade — has boosted the incomes and living standards of millions, a two-year downturn with GDP growth falling below 5 percent has made many nervous. Inflation has rocketed into double digits, and job growth has stalled.

Demands for economic revival helped catapult Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party to a landslide election victory in May. Some have blamed public resistance to development projects for holding up economic growth.

But many of the country's 400 million impoverished — earning less than $1.25 a day and relying heavily on foraging for food, fresh water or firewood — have become anxious about environment degradation. Indians breathe some of the world's dirtiest air, bathe in toxic or fetid rivers and face extreme water scarcity within a few years.

The Intelligence Bureau submitted its report — titled "Concerted efforts by select foreign funded NGOs to 'take down' Indian development projects" — to the national government on June 3, just days after Modi's government took over.

Greenpeace, it says, was specifically campaigning against e-waste disposal "in order to undermine the image" of India's IT firms. It says, however, that the campaign failed to achieve its goal of "eroding the earnings of the IT firms."

Greenpeace called the allegations baseless, and said no one in the organization had been contacted by the report's investigators. It says its Indian chapter receives 61 percent of its money from Indian donors and 39 percent from Greenpeace International.

"If they had taken us on board, they would have definitely come to a different conclusion. They did not take our view," said the group's communication director, Bharati Sinha. Greenpeace also said the government has refused to show the organization a copy of the report.

"These tactics will not stop Greenpeace from speaking truth to power and continuing to raise issues that are essential for protecting the environment for current and future generations."

Anti-nuclear activist S.P. Udayakumar, accused in the report of taking money from a U.S. group to organize 2011 resistance to a Russian-built nuclear power plant in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, also said the allegations were preposterous. His lawyer has notified the Home Ministry of plans to sue for defamation of Udayakumar's character unless the ministry issues a retraction.

"There is no truth in the allegation," he told reporters about the report, which he said was designed to harm his reputation.


AP writer Ashok Sharma contributed to this report.

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rangers bought out the contract of veteran forward Brad Richards on Friday, creating much-needed salary-cap space and parting ways with New York's de facto captain one week after the club was eliminated from the Stanley Cup finals.

Both the Rangers and Richards' agent, Pat Morris, confirmed the move. The team had no further comment.

The 34-year-old Richards had six years remaining on the nine-year, $60 million deal he signed in 2011, and this move will remove his $6.67 million salary-cap charge.

Richards will receive two-thirds of the remaining money to be paid out over 12 years — a total of $12.6 million.

Richards will also be paid $8 million in signing bonuses over the next three seasons. He didn't have to clear waivers before the buyout because his contract had a no-movement clause.

The Rangers used their second and final compliance buyout on Richards after using the first on former defenseman Wade Redden last year. They had to be used before July 1.

New York has numerous unrestricted and restricted free agents this summer, and will need as much cap space as possible to bring back key players and perhaps add others on the market.

"We're going to work on putting a good team on the ice, but every year is different," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said Monday when the Rangers cleaned out their lockers. "Next year's team is going to be different, and you've got to go through the same process. It's going to be a challenge to make the playoffs, and then you take it one series at a time."

Richards, demoted to the fourth line in the finals against Los Angeles, will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He didn't speak to reporters on Monday when the team broke up for the summer.

"I am a big fan of Brad Richards," Vigneault said. "He is a classy, classy individual. If you look at Brad's overall season he had a real good year.

"I am very happy with what he brought to the table. A veteran player from Day One that was a real good extension of the coaching staff in the dressing room. He should walk away from this season very pleased with how he played and how he contributed to our team."

Richards had 20 goals and 31 assists in 82 games this season — the lowest point-per-game average of his career — and added five goals and seven assists in New York's 25 postseason games. He had only one assist in the five-game finals loss to the Kings.

Richards took on a bigger leadership role after captain Ryan Callahan was traded to Tampa Bay for St. Louis in March. His voice carried in the room even as his play declined as the playoff run got deeper.

In 210 regular-season games with the Rangers, Richards had 56 goals and 95 assists. He was benched in last year's postseason by former coach John Tortorella during New York's second-round loss to Boston.

Richards earned his contract when he hit the free-agent market after having 28 goals and 77 points during the 2010-11 season with Dallas.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The younger brother of Ivory Coast players Yaya and Kolo Toure died on Thursday, the same day his famous siblings were representing their country at the World Cup, the Ivory Coast Football Federation said.

The 28-year-old Ibrahim Toure died in England, the Ivorian federation said in a statement, and Yaya and Kolo were informed soon after Ivory Coast's 2-1 loss to Colombia at the World Cup in Brazil.

The IFF did not give a cause of death but said Ibrahim died in Manchester, where Yaya plays his club football for English champions Manchester City in the Premier League and where Kolo used to play. British media reported that Ibrahim, who was also a footballer, was battling cancer and had been receiving treatment in Manchester.

"A tough day for the Toure brothers. Just hours after the (Colombia) match ... Kolo and Yaya have learned of the death of their younger brother," the IFF said in its statement. "The entire Ivorian delegation in Brazil supports them in this painful circumstance."

The IFF didn't say if the brothers would now leave the World Cup in Brazil, where Ivory Coast has a chance of making the second round for the first time.

Midfielder Yaya Toure captained the team against Colombia in Brasilia on Thursday, while Liverpool defender Kolo was on the bench. Despite losing its second game, Ivory Coast is second in Group C behind Colombia ahead of a final group match against Greece. Yaya Toure, the current African player of the year, is a pivotal player for the team.

Manchester City released a statement saying "the thoughts of everyone connected with City are with the Toure family at this most difficult time.

"Ibrahim was a regular visitor to Carrington (training ground) and was a popular figure among the staff and players and was extremely close to his two older brothers," the club said.

A message on FIFA President Sepp Blatter's official Twitter feed, which was posted in English and French, said he was "very saddened" by the news. Belgium defender Vincent Kompany, the Manchester City captain, wrote on Twitter: "My sincere condolences to the Toure family for the loss of Ibrahim. We are all saddened by this news. Keep strong."

Kolo Toure's current club Liverpool said "the thoughts of everybody at Liverpool Football Club are with defender Kolo Toure following the news of the passing of his brother."

Ibrahim Toure played professionally himself as a striker, most recently for Lebanon club Al Safa. He also played in Ukraine, France and Syria after starting at the same Ivorian club as Yaya and Kolo. But he never realized his dream of making Ivory Coast's national team alongside his brothers.

"If I manage to join a European side, maybe one day I'll get called up by the national team," he said in an interview on the FIFA website in January. "Of course there's a huge amount of pressure on me wherever I go because I'm the brother of Yaya and Kolo Toure.

"But you mustn't forget that I'm a forward, whereas Yaya is a midfielder and Kolo is a defender. Speaking for myself, I always give everything."


Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Costa Rica followed up its surprise win over Uruguay with another World Cup stunner on Friday, beating four-time champion Italy 1-0 to secure a spot in the next round and eliminate England in the process.

Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz gave his side the lead in the 44th minute, heading in off the underside of the crossbar following a cross from Junior Diaz. Goal-line technology was used to show that the ball bounced down and in after hitting the bar.

There was a frenetic end to the first half, as moments before Ruiz's goal Costa Rica had a penalty appeal waved away when striker Joel Campbell was bundled over by Giorgio Chiellini.

Costa Rica leads Group D with six points, while Italy and Uruguay have three each before Tuesday's showdown. England has zero points after losing to Italy and Uruguay.

So after entering the tournament as an expected underdog in a group featuring three former world champions, Costa Rica is now on top.

"Maybe there are a lot of people who didn't have faith in us because we were in the 'Group of Death'. But the dead are the other ones and we're going to the next round," Ruiz said.

Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto was on the same wavelength.

"We have played a historic team. They're really good," he said. "They have wonderful players so, of course, we feel really proud. Our team feels proud, our country feels proud. ... We want to go even farther."

Italy, meanwhile, can still advance with a win or even a draw with Uruguay, since it leads on goal difference which is the first qualifying criteria.

"We gave our all. They did well to block every pass," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "There's no worry now. We just need to regain our energy."

Costa Rica's only other appearance in the knockout phase came in its World Cup debut in 1990, when it beat Sweden and Scotland under experienced coach Bora Milutinovic before ultimately getting eliminated by Czechoslovakia.

"There are no more Cinderellas in football, especially in a competition like the World Cup," Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon said.

It was exactly 24 years ago to the day that Costa Rica beat Sweden 2-1 to advance at the tournament in Italy.

For Italy, it marked the fourth consecutive World Cup in which it failed to win its second match, although only in 2010 did the Azzurri fail to advance.

"We'll play a great match against Uruguay," second-half Italy substitute Antonio Cassano said. "I'm convinced we will. ... If we regain our energy we can (advance) comfortably."

While it was nowhere near as hot as Italy feared at the Arena Pernambuco — 29 C (84 F) and 70 percent humidity according to FIFA — the Azzurri still struggled to keep up with the speedy Ticos for long stretches.

Pinto lined up five defenders but his squad was able advance forward with one swift, sweeping movement — just like in the 3-1 win over Uruguay.

"We did what we needed to do, we took away the game from the Italians," Pinto said.

The Azzurri hardly threatened until Mario Balotelli had chances in the 31st and 33rd minutes.

First, Balotelli was set up with a long, vertical pass from Andrea Pirlo and tried to lift the bouncing ball over the charging goalkeeper's head but missed the target. Then the Azzurri forward had an effort from beyond the area stopped by goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Costa Rica kept its poise and in the 36th minute Buffon had to make a diving save to stop a shot from midfielder Christian Bolanos.

In the 43rd, Chiellini made an uncharacteristic error — gifting the ball to Campbell near midfield — and then raced back and committed what appeared to be a clear foul. However, Chilean referee Enrique Osses motioned to play on.

Prandelli attempted to stir things up by adding Cassano, Lorenzo Insigne and Alessio Cerci in the second half, providing the Azzurri with four forwards instead of just Balotelli, but the 2006 winners rarely came close to equalizing.

Appearing frustrated throughout, Balotelli was shown a yellow card in the 69th for taking down Diaz.

Italy's best chances to equalize were a long, angled shot from Matteo Darmian in the 51st and a free kick from Pirlo in the 53rd that found its way over Costa Rica's wall — but Navas was waiting and pushed it away.

In added time, Costa Rica substitute Randall Brenes nearly doubled the lead with a free kick that was only slightly off target.

Then the celebrations began.


Italy: Gianluigi Buffon, Ignazio Abate, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Matteo Darmian, Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Candreva (Lorenzo Insigne, 57), Thiago Motta (Antonio Cassano, 46), Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio (Alessio Cerci, 69), Mario Balotelli.

Costa Rica: Keylor Navas, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Umana, Celso Borges, Oscar Duarte, Christian Bolanos, Joel Campbell (Marcos Urena, 74), Bryan Ruiz (Randall Brenes, 81), Junior Diaz, Cristian Gamboa, Yeltsin Tejeda (Jose Cubero, 67).


Andrew Dampf can be followed at www.twitter.com/asdampf

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The gunmen went door to door in the Kenyan costal town, demanding to know if the men inside were Muslim and if they spoke Somali. If the extremists did not like the answers, they opened fire, witnesses said on Monday.

Authorities blamed al-Shabab, a Somali al-Qaida-linked group, for the hours-long assault on Mpeketoni in which 48 people were killed. The attack began Sunday night as residents watched World Cup matches on TV and lasted until early Monday, with little resistance from Kenya's security forces.

After daybreak, Kenyan troops and residents stared at the bodies lying on dirt streets by still-smoldering buildings. Two hotels and many vehicles were set on fire.

The attack highlights the growing incidents of Islamic extremist violence in a country that was once viewed as the bastion of stability in East Africa, drawing tourists from around the world for safaris and beach holidays. The U.S. ambassador made Kenya's entire coastal region off-limits for embassy employees.

The merciless life-or-death religious assessment recalled al-Shabab's attack on an upscale mall in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, last September in which at least 67 people were killed, some of them after not being able to answer questions about Islam.

The Interior Ministry said that at about 8 p.m. Sunday, two minivans entered the town. Militants disembarked and began shooting. At the Breeze View Hotel, the gunmen pulled the men aside and ordered the women to watch as they killed them, saying it was what Kenyan troops are doing to Somali men inside Somalia, a police commander said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to share such details of the attack.

The several dozen gunmen also went door to door.

"They came to our house at around 8 p.m. and asked us in Swahili whether we were Muslims. My husband told them we were Christians and they shot him in the head and chest," said Anne Gathigi.

Another resident, John Waweru, said his two brothers were killed because the attackers did not like that the brothers did not speak Somali.

"My brothers who stay next door to me were killed as I watched. I was peeping from my window and I clearly heard them speak to my brothers in Somali and it seems since my brothers did not meet their expectations, they sprayed them with bullets and moved on," said Waweru.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku said the attackers fled into the nearby wilds, known as the Boni Forest after a "fierce exchange of fire" with security forces. He said 20 vehicles had been set on fire.

At a news conference, Ole Lenku was put on the defensive about the government's security record after a string of attacks. He also warned opposition politicians against inciting violence, saying it was possible the attack was linked to politics. The claim was immediately dismissed by security experts.

Kenya's top police commander, David Kimaiyo, said the death toll was 48. A police spokeswoman said authorities believe that several dozen attackers took part.

Mpeketoni is about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southwest of the tourist center of Lamu. Any tourism in Mpeketoni is mostly local, with few foreigners visiting the area. The town is 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Somali border and 360 miles (600 kilometers) from Nairobi.

Kenya has experienced a wave of gunfire and bomb and grenade attacks in recent months. The U.S., U.K., France, Australia, and Canada have all recently upgraded their terror threat warnings for the country. U.S. Marines behind sandbag bunkers have for some days been stationed on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

Harald Kampa, who heads an association of hoteliers and caterers on the coast, said he wasn't aware of any immediate tourist cancellations because of the attack. But he said the attack could soon prompt more cancellations. Kenya's deteriorating security situation and travel warnings from foreign embassies has already hit the country's tourism sector.

The region saw a spate of kidnappings of foreign tourists in 2011 that Kenya said was part of its motivation for attacking al-Shabab in Somalia. Since those attacks and subsequent terror warnings, tourism has dropped off sharply around Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the country's oldest continually inhabited town.

The region near the Somali border saw a spate of kidnappings of foreigners in 2011 that Kenya said was part of its motivation for attacking al-Shabab in Somalia. Kenya sent its troops to Somalia in October 2011, and al-Shabab has threatened attacks inside Kenya until Kenyan forces leave Somalia.


Associated Press reporter Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda contributed to this report.

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