WARSAW, Poland

Obama to West: Don’t shrink from supporting democracy

Holding out Poland’s transformation to democracy as a model for the world, President Obama on Saturday exhorted Western allies and the American public alike to extend their support, energy and vision to those now reaching for democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.

Obama wound up his six-day trip to Europe with a message aimed squarely at the people of the United States, saying that in a time of tight budgets, “I want the American people to understand we’ve got to leave room for us to continue our tradition of providing leadership when it comes to freedom, democracy, human rights.”

Obama, in a brief news conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, assured Americans that he spends the bulk of each day worrying about the U.S. economy and how to strengthen it and create jobs.

But he coupled that with the message that it is a U.S. obligation to support democracy around the globe, one that pays dividends in the form of a safer and more prosperous world.

Speaking with urgency in his voice, Obama said that while no outside country can “impose change” on another, “We can really help. We can facilitate. We can make a difference.”

His message was a tacit answer to simmering sentiment that America should cut back on foreign assistance at a time when it is grappling with deficit troubles at home. In fact, foreign aid makes up less than 1 percent of the federal budget.


Rare Leica camera auctioned for record price: $1.9 million

An Austrian auction house says an 88-year-old Leica camera has sold for a record $1.9 million.

WestLicht says the rare camera is part of a small series dating back to 1923 and was valued at up to $643,640.

It says the camera, which had a starting price of $286,000, went to a private Asian collector after a nail- biting, 20-minute bidding process.

WestLicht claims Saturday’s auction makes the Leica the most expensive camera ever sold.


Prank spree costs 50 seniors attendance at their prom

A quarter of the graduating class at a Staten Island high school is being barred from prom as punishment for a night of boozy pranks that wound up on Facebook.

The principal of Moore Catholic High School banned them from the big night after students got drunk on the football field, vandalized equipment and spray-painted obscene graffiti.

Fifty seniors in all were excluded because of the May 5 incident, but all have been invited to an alternative prom organized by parents of the punished kids.

One mother, Dina Campitiello, told the New York Post that her two daughters don’t deserve harsh treatment, even if they were at the school on the night of the pranks, because they didn’t participate in the drinking and vandalism.

Both proms are scheduled for Wednesday.


Mother, 44, gets probation for accident that killed son

A Lake Charles-area woman who killed her own son in a drunken-driving accident has been put on probation for five years.

Authorities said 44-year-old Lisa Hagler went to pick up her son at a Sulphur club where he had been drinking. A defense attorney said Friday that Hagler also had been drinking for the same reason — the suicide of her older son.

Police said Hagler drove at a high rate of speed, veered off the road twice and hit two telephone poles. The car overturned twice and her 21-year-old son, Billy Batchelor, was ejected.

The American Press reported that the probated sentence includes 18 months of home incarceration and a $500 fine.