NEW YORK (AP) — As the Bronx middle schoolers harmonized in their auditorium and plucked out basic chords on ukuleles and guitars, in walked their music instructor, Liz Rose — a Grammy-award winning country songwriter from Nashville.

Rose has penned tracks for some of the biggest names in the business, including Taylor Swift. But on this recent fall day, she helped 19 students write an original tune called “Everybody’s Perfect.”

“Y’all are awesome,” Rose said as she approached the stage. “Y’all made me cry.”

Country music and New York City don’t go hand in glove; the city has only one country radio station, which came on the air two years ago after a 17-year drought. Nonetheless, Music City musicians are partnering with a nonprofit that is providing music education in New York City schools to help boost it as a core subject.

The students at Pelham Gardens Middle School in the Bronx are among 500 students in 15 schools around the city to participate; they receive 10 lessons on how to write lyrics, and one class in each school has a videoconference session with a musician in Nashville.

The Nashville-New York connection is made through the Country Music Association Foundation, which began in 2006 to help fund music education programs in Nashville and is branching out across the country.

In recent years, it has donated to the New York-based nonprofit Education Through Music, which helps provide music education to all students in 50 low-income elementary and middle schools in all five city boroughs. It also works with Words & Music, based out of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, which provides a curriculum for both music and language arts teachers to develop language skills through the art of songwriting.

The Country Music Association Foundation wanted to bring the two together, and the program was born.

Rose, who won a Grammy with Swift for best country song in 2010 for “White Horse,” first met her students over Skype. Rose helped them write the lyrics for the song, which they performed this past week at All for the Hall, a benefit concert for education programs at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. Students shared the stage with Brad Paisley, Paul Simon and Carrie Underwood.

For many of the New York kids, country music was unfamiliar territory.

Corey Stuckey, 12, said he has been inspired to write songs in the past by hip-hop and R&B artists such as R. Kelly and Ludacris. But now he is opening up to country, too.

“I like country music because of the tone of it,” the seventh-grader said. “It’s kind of like reggae, but it’s different because it’s more calming.”

Rose said she applied the same techniques she uses when collaborating with professionals. She had the students shout out whatever was on their minds, and they said things like, older kids are tall, ice cream and hallways. She quickly jotted down everything they said and then started to place the words together like puzzle pieces.

“It’s not different for whoever you’re writing with. It’s about getting them to talk,” she said. “And then I would ask them questions and put a line together.”

Ultimately they wrote: “Everybody’s Perfect,” an homage to the difficulties of life at a new school.

Moesha Masters, 11, helped come up with the inspiration for the title.

“I moved a lot and it was hard making friends,” she said. “And I realized I’m not perfect. But after I looked at that I realized everyone’s perfect in other ways.”

“Ice cream, money and MetroCards and full backpacks and school is hard!” the students sang. With lots of oohs and aahs and an upbeat, catchy melody, the students’ song emulated more the contemporary pop-country of Taylor Swift than the old-country twang.

Peter Pauliks, director of programs for Education through Music, urged the students at the rehearsal to enunciate every word so that a diverse audience would understand the song’s message.

“In Nashville, I don’t think they even have MetroCards,” he reminded them.

Kyle Young, chief executive officer of the Country Music Hall of Fame, says he was moved when he saw the students from the Bronx onstage at All for the Hall, dressed in their blue school uniforms under T-shirts for Words & Music and Education Through Music.

“This is why we go to work every day,” he said. “It’s not about the genre, it’s about giving kids an opportunity to express themselves and create.”

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes advanced against insurgents in the center of the country as President Vladimir Putin defended Moscow’s intervention in the conflict, saying it would aid efforts to reach a political settlement.

Putin said Moscow’s objective was to stabilize the Syrian government and create conditions for a political compromise.

“When a division of international terrorists stands near the capital, then there is probably little desire for the Syrian government to negotiate, most likely feeling itself under siege in its own capital,” he said in an interview with Russian state television broadcast on Sunday.

Critics of Russia’s intervention have argued that strengthening the government will only make compromise more difficult, and on Sunday the main Western-backed opposition group said the strikes would undermine any efforts to reach a settlement.

The Syrian National Coalition also said it would boycott talks suggested by U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura, saying any political process must be based on “ending the Russian aggression” and reviving a roadmap adopted in 2012.

The fighting Sunday was on multiple fronts in the northern part of the central Hama province and the nearby rebel-held Idlib province. A Syrian military official said troops seized the northern Hama village of Tak Sukayk. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

It was the second village in the area captured by the government since it launched a wide-ranging ground offensive made possible by Russian airstrikes that began Sept. 30.

In an audio recording, a Saudi militant cleric based in Syria urged fighters to unite, mobilize and attack Syrian forces in different provinces in order to avert “consecutive collapses.”

Abdullah al-Muhaysini, who is linked to al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, said the Russians aim to distract the insurgents on different fronts ahead of a surprise attack.

“We have to turn that equation around before the infidels seize the initiative,” al-Muhaysini said in the recording, which was first shared by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“If there is no vicious counterattack to penetrate the front defensive lines of the regime, the future will be frightening.”

Shaam News Network, a group of anti-government activists, said several insurgent groups, including the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, have formed a joint operations room for activities in Hama and Idlib.

The rebels seized almost all of Idlib earlier this year and hold territory in northern Hama and rural Latakia, a coastal province that is a major stronghold for President Bashar Assad and the Alawite religious minority to which he belongs.

Human Rights Watch meanwhile said that an advanced type of Russian cluster munition was used in an airstrike southwest of Aleppo on Oct. 4, as part of what photographs and videos suggest is renewed use of the air-dropped and ground-fired munitions.

The New York-based rights group said it could not determine whether Russian or Syrian forces were responsible for the apparent use of the munitions, which descend by parachute and are designed to destroy armored vehicles but can also pose a major hazard to civilians.

Russia, a key ally of Assad, is a major arms supplier to Syria. Neither country has banned cluster munitions.

There was no immediate comment from Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Russia says its strikes are mainly aimed at the Islamic State group and other “terrorists,” but the ground-and-air offensive is being waged in areas controlled by mainstream rebels as well as the Nusra Front.

U.S. officials say Russia has directed parts of its air campaign against U.S.-funded groups and other moderate opposition groups in a concerted effort to weaken them.

The Observatory, a monitoring group that relies on a network of activists on the ground, said the rebels advanced overnight on a hill overlooking Atshan, a village recently captured by the government. The group said the rebels shelled troops in the newly seized territory.

The state-run SANA news agency said government forces destroyed at least 20 vehicles loaded with ammunition, and some with heavy machine guns, east of Tak Sukayk, killing the “terrorists” on board.

The Local Coordination Committees, another activist-run monitoring group, said government helicopters and suspected Russian jets struck at a third village, Tamanah, north of Atshan and Tak Sukayk. Tamanah lies on the border with Idlib.

Both the Observatory and the LCC reported intense clashes and Russian airstrikes in rural Latakia. The Observatory said there were Russian airstrikes there too.

The Russian military said Sunday its jets had carried out 64 sorties in the past day, targeting 63 sites in the Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Raqqa provinces. It said an artillery system and a training base were destroyed in separate strikes in Idlib, and that attacks in the Latakia province destroyed military vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft weapons and mortars.

Putin met with Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and Saudi Arabia’s defense minister in Sochi, where they attended a Formula One race. Riyadh is one of the leading backers of rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.

After the meeting, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, who is also in Sochi, said his country is committed to a political solution that would lead to Assad giving up power. He also reiterated that the 2012 road map should be the guiding principle for any talks.


Berry reported from Moscow. Associated Press writer Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Recently released documents in the state of Rhode Island’s lawsuit over a deal with a failed video game company started by a former Red Sox pitcher shed new light on what was going on behind the scenes with then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee as the company unraveled.

Depositions, emails and other documents show some in government had doubts and frustrations with Chafee’s leadership, decision-making and oversight of the deal with the 38 Studios, the company started by ex-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

Chafee is now running for president and is scheduled to appear in the first Democratic debate on Tuesday, although his campaign has gotten little traction.

Chafee inherited a deal that was sharply criticized as too much money for an unproven company.

But the documents show that people surrounding Chafee saw him as sometimes disengaged and slow to react amid an unfolding crisis.

  1. Which statement best represents the main idea of the video?
  2. Columbus Day should no longer be a federal holiday.
  3. Columbus Day should become Indigenous People’s Day.
  4. People debate whether Columbus Day should be celebrated.
  5. Columbus Day should not be changed, and should continue to honor Italian-American heritage.


  1. What is Turkey’s largest ethnic minority?
  2. Jews
  3. Kurds
  4. Greeks
  5. Armenians


  1. What is significant about the award in medicine given to Tu Youyou of China?
  2. It was the first Nobel Prize won by China.
  3. His findings helped further understanding of DNA.
  4. It brought attention to traditional Chinese medicine.
  5. His work represented a breakthrough in understanding neutrinos.


  1. Who was invited to the first Million Man March?
  2. Black men
  3. Men of all races
  4. Black men and women
  5. Men and women of all races


  1. Why do cases brought against gun store owners rarely make it to trial?
    a. Shootings are rare.
  2. Courts will only hold the gun handler responsible for a shooting.
  3. Gun stores have no responsibility to screen people for gun purchases.
  4. Congress strengthened protections for gun manufacturers and dealers.


  1. What is one name for an athlete with physical disabilities?
  2. disalympian
  3. paralympian
  4. adapalympian
  5. physalympian



  1. c; 2. b; 3. c; 4. a; 5. d; 6. b

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Major League Baseball executive Joe Torre will review the controversial slide by Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley into New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada for possible disciplinary action after Game 2 of their NL Division Series.

Utley broke Tejada’s right leg during the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 5-2 win Saturday night while trying to break up a double play at second base.

“I’d hate to think that Utley tried to hurt somebody,” said Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer. “It certainly was late. That concerns me. The lateness of the slide. … I’m looking at it to see if anything should be done.”

Torre, a former manager of the Dodgers and New York Yankees, was at Dodger Stadium for the game.

“I have to determine if I thought it was excessive,” he said. “Not that you shouldn’t slide hard, but as I said, just the late slide is probably the only thing that is in question right now.”

A comment in the Official Baseball Rules to Rule 5.09 (a) (13) says umpires could have called an inning-ending double play if they decided Utley had gone outside the baseline and interfered with Tejada fielding the throw.

“The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base,” the comment says. “Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.”

Utley was only about a foot off the base. Torre said second base umpire Chris Guccione ruled it was a legal slide on the field.

“That’s a judgment call,” Torre said. “I’m still watching replays of it. They get a chance, one shot to look at it. … I can’t fault the umpire for everything he had to look at.”

Torre also said umpires were correct to award Utley second base after the Dodgers asked for a video review, which determined Tejada did not touch the base on the play. Utley did not touch the base on the slide.

“He never needed to touch the base because the umpire called him out,” Torre said. “You’re correcting the umpire’s mistake. In that situation, going to replay and they see the runner never touched the base, but the umpire called him out, by replay rules we can correct the situation and put the runner on the bag.”

Torre said Tejada was not subject to the protection of the “neighborhood play” which allows fielders to not touch the base but still be credited with the out. The throw Tejada received from second baseman Daniel Murphy took Tejada away from the bag.

“This wasn’t a neighborhood play because spinning around and reaching for the ball and stuff like that,” Torre said.

A look at what’s happening around the major leagues today:



Both AL Division Series travel to Texas, with the Astros hosting the Royals at 4:10 p.m. EDT and the Blue Jays facing the Rangers at 8:10 p.m. EDT. Kansas City and Houston split Games 1 and 2 in Missouri, while Texas takes a 2-0 advantage into Game 3 after a 14-inning 6-4 victory in Game 2 in Toronto.


The Mets will likely play Wilmer Flores at shortstop when their NL Division Series continues Monday after Ruben Tejada broke his right leg on Chase Utley’s takeout slide Saturday night. Tejada sustained a fractured right fibula and was placed on a flatbed vehicle with an air cast on his leg, while Utley was ruled safe on a video review as the Dodgers went on to win 5-2. “Yeah, they’re angry,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of his players. “You lose in a playoff series to that serious of an injury, yeah, they’re not very happy about it.”


Astros ace Dallas Keuchel has been great everywhere this year, but particularly at home, where he was 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA. Keuchel has been asked about his home dominance often, and on Saturday, he jokingly supposed that “maybe it’s the temperature” set by the Minute Maid Park air conditioner. Royals manager Ned Yost decided to start Keuchel in the All-Star game this year. “He’s just good,” Yost said Saturday. “I mean, he’s just good. But you look at his home and away record, there’s quite a big difference in that. But … he just pitches good here. And sometimes there’s just no reason for it.”


Edinson Volquez throws for the Royals, facing George Springer for the first time since Volquez broke Springer’s right wrist by hitting him with a pitch on July 1. Springer missed two months with the injury, and Volquez said he “felt really bad at the time” and “reached out to him and I talked to him a little bit and I said sorry about what happened to him. I was really sad about that.”


The Blue Jays are moving on after top left-handed reliever Brett Cecil was ruled out for the postseason after tearing a torn calf muscle in Game 2 — Cecil knew it was a bad injury right away, crying as he walked to the clubhouse after suffering the injury. “It’s not the way I perceived it ending,” he said. Toronto replaced him on its playoff roster with right-hander Ryan Tepera.


Adrian Beltre’s status remains uncertain as he continues to battle a lower back strain that kept him at home while the rest of the Rangers worked out on Saturday. The third baseman was injured during Game 1 of the ALDS and sat out Friday’s 14-inning Game 2. “He’s day to day, has made some improvement, continues to get better,” manager Jeff Banister said, adding “you can never count Adrian out of anything, and where I think he is right now is probably irrelevant.” Beltre’s replacement, Hanser Alberto, singled in the go-ahead run in Game 2.