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AP answers your questions on the news, from military dress to rules on anonymous sources
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    If you were a military officer, would you rather walk around in a tie with a chestful of medals, or relax in more comfortable fatigues? The dress uniform says more about who you are. But medals and ribbons can weigh you down, and even in the Pentagon a lot of people walk around in cammo.
    Are there rules on what to wear? That’s one of the four questions being answered in this installment of ‘‘Ask AP,’’ a weekly Q&A column where AP journalists respond to readers’ questions about the news.
    If you have your own news-related question that you’d like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to newsquestions(at)ap.org, with ‘‘Ask AP’’ in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question.
    ———
    Could you tell me why high-ranking military people who are interviewed on the news are always wearing battle fatigues? Whatever happened to the full dress uniforms? I proudly served in the U.S. Navy for four years and traveled everywhere in my dress whites or blues.
    Joe George
    Dublin, Ohio
    ———
    The answer depends on what branch of service you ask — as all have their own set of regulations regarding uniforms. Generally, though, battle fatigues are considered the uniform of the day because the country is at war. Higher-ranking officers tend to wear their battle fatigues if they are in a combat zone or on a base or post. And most will wear their full dress uniform for specific, more formal events, such as testifying before Congress or attending a funeral. But in most cases, according to military officials, the decision about dress uniform vs. battle fatigues is left up to the commanding officer. The exception is the Marine Corps, which does not allow its service members to wear their combat cammies off base or out of a combat zone.
    Chelsea J. Carter
    AP Military Writer, San Diego
    ———
    I’ve heard so much about the superdelegates this year. I do not recall hearing about them in the past. Are they a recent creation? How many years have they been used?
    Rita Duryea
    Carlisle, Pa.
    ———
    Superdelegates were created by the Democratic Party in 1982 and were first used in the 1984 election. There will be nearly 800 superdelegates at this summer’s national convention, and they can vote for whomever they choose, regardless of the outcome of the primaries. They include all Democratic governors and members of Congress, members of the Democratic National Committee and ‘‘distinguished party leaders,’’ such as former presidents, vice presidents and DNC chairmen.
    They are generating a lot of interest this year because neither candidate can win the Democratic nomination without the support of some superdelegates. Superdelegates were created to make sure party and elected officials play a part in selecting the nominee. That helps to ensure that nominees are acceptable to party insiders, while making those party insiders more likely to work to elect the nominee in the general election.
    The Republican Party created similar ‘‘unbound’’ delegates before the 2004 convention, though there are far fewer. Each state has two members of the Republican National Committee, as well as a state party chairman. All three automatically attend the Republican convention, and in most states, they will be free to vote for whomever they choose, just like Democratic superdelegates. Some states, however, require them to vote in accordance with their presidential primary or caucus.
    Stephen Ohlemacher
    Associated Press Writer, Washington
    ———
    Why is diesel fuel priced higher than regular gasoline, or premium gasoline? Diesel fuel is a byproduct of the process of making gasoline and was so plentiful that the refineries even had to ‘‘discard’’ (burn) diesel waste.
    Thomas Palko
    Alexandria, La.
    ———
    Diesel prices have soared past gasoline prices — and appear entrenched above $4 a gallon — because, globally, diesel is in much greater demand than gas. More European cars, for instance, run on diesel than gasoline. And the whole world, including the U.S., uses diesel to run the trucks, trains and ships that transport food, consumer goods and industrial materials and products. Demand for gas and oil is slipping domestically as the economy cools, but economies in the rest of the world — particularly China and India — continue to grow, pushing oil and diesel prices higher.
    John Wilen
    AP Energy and Transportation Writer
    ———
    Why is it OK to quote an anonymous source when they may not be authorized to speak and the story may not be verifiable? With their insistence on anonymity, where is their credibility?
    James E. Barber
    Milton, Vt.
    ———
    Many news organizations have very strict guidelines that reporters and writers must follow if they want to quote anonymous sources in a story.
    At the AP, for instance, material from anonymous sources may be used only if:
    — The material is information and not opinion or speculation, and is vital to the news report.
    — The information is not available except under the conditions of anonymity imposed by the source.
    — The source is reliable, and in a position to have accurate information.
    Reporters who want to use material from anonymous sources must get approval from their manager before sending the story to an editor. The manager is responsible for vetting the material and making sure it meets AP guidelines. The manager must know the identity of the source, and is obligated, like the reporter, to keep the source’s identity confidential. Only after they are assured that the source material has been vetted may editors allow the story to be transmitted to readers.
    You can read the AP’s Statement of News Values and Principles at: http://www.ap.org/newsvalues/index.html.
    Sally Jacobsen
    AP Deputy Managing Editor/Projects

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