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World briefly on Sept. 4
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson's estate will begin making its case to a jury that a businessman working with the singer's mother should be forced to pay millions of dollars for infringing on several copyrights.

The amount is the sole issue at stake in a trial set to begin on Tuesday against Howard Mann, who has collaborated with Katherine Jackson on several projects, including a book.

A judge has already ruled that Mann violated Jackson estate copyrights and ordered his website shut down. His attorneys argue the estate doesn't actually own the proper rights and the ruling should be tossed out, but a judge has refused to reconsider his ruling.

The infringed works include cover art from Jackson's posthumous film "This Is It," and a silhouette of the singer dancing to his hit "Smooth Criminal."

The estate's case is expected to hinge on one expert witness who has estimated the cost of a license for the works is between $5 million and $12 million.


Democrats raise curtain on their convention after Obama sees storm damage, hails labor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Four years later Democrats have gathered again, this time in support of a president who carries the power and the burden of incumbency, both in evidence as the opening gavel is struck at the Democratic National Convention.

President Barack Obama demonstrated the power Monday in a convention-eve visit to hurricane-stricken lands in Louisiana, offering aid and empathy. His burden is a ragged economy that is at the core of the hotly competitive contest with Republican Mitt Romney.

Michelle Obama's speech Tuesday night is an early highlight of a three-day schedule that has drawn thousands of delegates to a state Obama narrowly carried in 2008. Although Obama no longer is the fresh-faced newbie who leveraged a short Senate career into an audacious run for the nation's highest office, he still can excite partisans, and Democrats were counting on massive numbers to pack a stadium for his speech later in the week.

If hurricanes have no politics, the aftermath does. Obama's visit to stricken St. John the Baptist Parish outside New Orleans after a spirited Labor Day rally in battleground Ohio demonstrated, if in muted form, the partisan divide that cleaves the presidential campaign.

Obama emphasized the government's determination to lend a strong helping hand. Romney focused on neighbor helping neighbor in his visit days earlier, even though both support a mix of emergency aid from the taxpayer and volunteerism in response to natural disasters.


ESSAY: Obama 2012 campaign message evolves, tries to resonate with weary citizenry

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — We campaign in poetry, Mario Cuomo used to say, but we govern in prose.

This was how the then-New York governor explained the gap between his soaring speeches and the more prosaic product of his government, when the springtime of campaign hopes succumbed to the winter of governing discontent.

That was a generation ago. But it is a pithy summary of Barack Obama's challenge as he goes before his convention this week.

There are a lot of very angry people in the country, out of work or living on less. But anger is not the dominant political sentiment among the voters likely to swing this presidential election.

It is, instead, disappointment.


Facing possible ban, German far-right leader vows to take party mainstream, angering fringes

VIERECK, Germany (AP) — At a rally of Germany's biggest far-right party, skinheads raise fists to nationalist chants and wear T-shirts that skirt the limits of German law: "Enforce National Socialism" reads one; another proclaims the wearer to be "100 percent un-kosher." Some cover illegal neo-Nazi tattoos with masking tape because police are on the prowl.

But the party's leader insists he is taking his National Democratic Party mainstream.

"My aim is to make the NPD a party firmly based in the present and looking toward the future," Holger Apfel said in an interview at the rally. Breaking a far-right taboo, he told The Associated Press that Nazi Germany's record during World War II included "crimes."

Apfel has tactical reasons for toning down his message: Authorities are currently considering a ban on the party. Yet the attempt to appeal to the center has prompted anger in the country's small but entrenched ultra-right movement, where many refuse to acknowledge that Germany under Nazism — or National Socialism — was responsible for the slaughter of 6 million Jews. Some NPD members have left; others threaten to do so.

Despite talk of change, it doesn't take long for Apfel to show his own flashes of hardcore xenophobia, which extend to seeing a threat to the "biological basis" of the German people.


Spacecraft to starship? 35 years after launch, Voyager 1 is barreling toward the stars

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Thirty-five years after leaving Earth, Voyager 1 is reaching for the stars.

Sooner or later, the workhorse spacecraft will bid adieu to the solar system and enter a new realm of space — the first time a manmade object will have escaped to the other side.

Perhaps no one on Earth will relish the moment more than 76-year-old Ed Stone, who has toiled on the project from the start.

"We're anxious to get outside and find what's out there," he said.

When NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 first rocketed out of Earth's grip in 1977, no one knew how long they would live. Now, they are the longest-operating spacecraft in history and the most distant, at billions of miles from Earth but in different directions.


Michael Clarke Duncan, the gentle-giant 'Green Mile' star, dead at 54 after July heart attack

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Clarke Duncan was one big, irresistible jumble of contradictions.

His presence was formidable, even intimidating: The former bodyguard had a muscular, 6-foot-4 frame, but it was topped by the brightest of megawatt smiles.

His gravelly baritone was well-suited to everything from animated films to action spectacles, but no matter the role, a warmth and a sweetness was always evident underneath.

The prolific character actor, whose dozens of movies included an Oscar-nominated performance as a death row inmate in "The Green Mile" and box office hits including "Armageddon," ''Planet of the Apes" and "Kung Fu Panda," died Monday at age 54. And although he only turned to acting in his 30s, it's clear from the outpouring of prayers and remembrances he received across the Hollywood and sports worlds that his gentle-giant persona made him much-loved during that relatively brief time.

Duncan died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for a heart attack, said his fiancée, reality TV personality Rev. Omarosa Manigault, in a statement released by publicist Joy Fehily.


Lawyers to present final arguments in Drew Peterson murder trial before jury weighs evidence

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Attorneys deliver closing arguments at Drew Peterson's trial Tuesday, after which jurors will begin deliberations on whether the state proved the former Illinois police officer murdered his third wife.

The sides make their final pitches after five weeks of testimony about the 2004 death of Kathleen Savio, whose body was found in a dry bathtub of her suburban home outside Chicago with a gash on the back of her head.

The 40-year-old's death was initially ruled to have been an accident. Only after Peterson's fourth wife, 23-year-old Stacy Peterson, went missing in 2007 was Savio's body exhumed and her death reclassified as a homicide.

Prosecutors will argue circumstantial evidence points to just one plausible explanation for Savio's death: that Peterson killed her. The defense will say not only is there no evidence tying Peterson to Savio's death, the state hasn't even proven that her death was murder.

Chris Koch delivers the state's closing, and Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow will do the rebuttal — essentially the last word to jurors. The normally stone-faced Glasgow has shown flashes of anger at the trial, arguably the biggest of his career.


Social Security buys 174,000 hollow-point bullets; Internet bursts with conspiracy theories

WASHINGTON (AP) — It didn't take long for the Internet to start buzzing with conspiracy theories after the Social Security Administration posted a notice that it was purchasing 174,000 hollow-point bullets.

Why is the agency that provides benefits to retirees, disabled workers, widows and children stockpiling ammunition? Whom are they going to use it on?

"It's not outlandish to suggest that the Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest," the website said.

Another website, The Daily Caller, said the bullets must be for use against American citizens, "since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens."

The clamor became such a distraction for the agency that it dedicated a website to explaining the purchase. The explanation, it turns out, isn't as tantalizing as an arms buildup to defend against unruly senior citizens.


HEALTHBEAT: Is organic healthier? Study says not so much, but it's key reason consumers buy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Patient after patient asked: Is eating organic food, which costs more, really better for me?

Unsure, Stanford University doctors dug through reams of research to find out — and concluded there's little evidence that going organic is much healthier, citing only a few differences involving pesticides and antibiotics.

Eating organic fruits and vegetables can lower exposure to pesticides, including for children — but the amount measured from conventionally grown produce was within safety limits, the researchers reported Monday.

Nor did the organic foods prove more nutritious.

"I was absolutely surprised," said Dr. Dena Bravata, a senior research affiliate at Stanford and long-time internist who began the analysis because so many of her patients asked if they should switch.


Murray closes out routine day at US Open; Roddick faces del Potro next

NEW YORK (AP) — Refusing to allow his opponent even a glimmer of hope under the lights, Andy Murray wrapped up a straight-set win on a drama-free evening inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The man now hoping to pump up the volume at the U.S. Open: Andy Roddick.

One loss from retirement, No. 20 seed Roddick plays his fourth-round match against No. 7 seed Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday night, in search of the first big-time upset in a men's draw that has mostly gone to form — and very quietly at that.

Third-seeded Murray defeated No. 15 Milos Raonic of Canada 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to wrap up play Monday — a day that included a walkover for No. 1 Roger Federer, who advanced when Mardy Fish withdrew because of health reasons.

"Today was by far my best match of the tournament," said Murray, who beat Federer to win the Olympic gold medal earlier this summer but is still in search of his first Grand Slam title. "Hopefully, I can get some good rest tonight and tomorrow, get ready for the quarterfinals, you know, get pumped. Because you're only a few sets from maybe competing for a Grand Slam final and you need to get ready for it."

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