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Older News Archivescom0116
NEWS     SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 2014     NEWS
EARLY EDTION

Boehner Says Ge's 'Hell-Bent' On Passing Immigration Legislation This Year
House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican leadership team are telling donors and industry groups that they want to pass immigration legislation this year, despite the reluctance of other party members to tackle the divisive issue before the November elections. Many lawmakers and activists have assumed the issue was off the table in an election year. But Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a recent Las Vegas fundraiser that he was "hell-bent on getting this done this year," two people in the room told The Wall Street Journal. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Boehner is idiot.

Flight 370 Search: Probe Of Current Area Should Be Done In A Week
The underwater drone scanning for traces of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 should complete its task in the zone under scrutiny within a week as the search for the plane intensifies, a government official said Saturday -- day 43 of the effort. "Today and tomorrow, it's imperative that we focus because the experts have narrowed down the search area," said Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian acting transport minister. Then, citing a comment made this week by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, he said, "Whatever the outcome of the next few days, we need to regroup and reconsider the operations." Are searchers close to finding debris from the jetliner? "It's difficult to say," Hishammuddin said. "The narrowing of the search today and tomorrow is at a critical juncture. I appeal to everybody around the world to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on over the next couple of days." CNN

High Stakes As Restive Benghazi Votes In Libyan Local Polls
Libyan voters went to the polls on Saturday to elect municipal council members in 15 cities, including Benghazi, the country's second city, which is seeking greater autonomy for the eastern seaboard region. With 41 more municipalities due to vote in the next three weeks, the elections pose an organizational and security challenge for a country that is still riven by factional fighting, nearly three years after the civil war that toppled veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Benghazi has until now had only an interim council with piecemeal funding from central government, but the election is meant to pave the way for fuller and more regular allocations, potentially improving the volatile city's relationship with Tripoli. Reuters

Monster El Nino May Be Brewing
Researchers are keeping a close eye on a giant pool of abnormally warm water in the Pacific Ocean that some think could trigger another El Niño of epic proportions if it rises to the surface, sending weather patterns into a tizzy around the world. That could mean heavy rains in drought-stricken California, dry weather across the Midwest and East Coast, and parched landscapes in Australia and South Africa while it pours in South America. The phenomenon is linked to the periodic warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. "Given the drought that California is in the middle of right now, that is really where the heightened interest is," said Mike Halpert, acting director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md. "It turns out that the odds increase for California to be wet the stronger the event is." MSNBC

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Feds Approve Powdered Alcohol; ‘Palcohol’ Available Later This Year
The U.S. government has approved a new brand of powdered alcohol that can be mixed into a drink or sprinkled over food. “Palcohol” will be available later this year, The Telegraph reported. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved seven new version of Palcohol this week, including Margarita and Cosmopolitan flavors. The company briefly touted its product online as a solution to the rising price of liquid alcohol, Lehrman Beverage Law reported. “What’s worse than going to a concert, sporting event, etc. and having to pay $10, $15, $20 for a mixed drink with tax and tip. Are you kidding me?!” A statement on the company website initially read. “Take Palcohol into the venue and enjoy a mixed drink for a fraction of the cost.” Washington Times

White House On Petition To Deport Justin Bieber
The White House has two words for those who want President Barack Obama to deport Justin Bieber: No comment. Nearly 275,000 people signed an Internet petition calling the Canadian-born teen idol reckless and asking Obama to revoke his green card. That's far more than required to merit an official response through the White House's "We the People" program. The White House says it's sorry to disappoint, but it won't be commenting. It's citing a caveat that lets the White House decline to address certain petitions. CBS

Monica Lewinsky E-Mail Omitted From Latest Batch Of Clinton Documents
An email from Monica Lewinsky was omitted from the Clinton library’s latest document dump for privacy reasons. Every two weeks this spring, the National Archives has been releasing documents from Clinton’s presidency through The William J Clinton Presidential Library & Museum in Little Rock, Ark. The documents were previously withheld under the Presidential Records Act. The library posted the latest batch online today, linking to thousands of pages of official memos and communications between aides. Included in a list of withdrawn/redacted documents (commonly interspersed in the large .pdfs), midway through a batch of documents concerning Gen. Wesley Clark, is an email from Monica Lewinsky’s Pentagon email address. ABC

SEC Said To Weigh Shining Light On Brokers’ Stock Routing
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is weighing a requirement that brokers tell investors exactly where their stock trades go to be executed, a proposal that may address complaints that the decisions are sometimes made without the client’s best interests at heart. The proposal could give investors more insight into whether they are getting the best price when they buy and sell large numbers of shares, according to three people familiar with the matter. Brokers entrusted with orders in the U.S. stock market can choose from dozens of exchanges and private venues. Some money managers such as T. Rowe Price Group Inc. (TROW) have told regulators that incentives offered by exchanges for attracting orders can put a broker’s financial interest at odds with the customer’s. Bloomberg

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Documents Detail Another Delayed GM Recall
General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims, according to government documents released Saturday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government's auto safety watchdog, also didn't seek a recall of the compact car from the 2004 through 2007 model years even though it opened an investigation more than two years ago and found 12 crashes and two injuries caused by the problem. The documents, posted on the agency's website, show yet another delay by GM in recalling unsafe vehicles and point to another example of government safety regulators reacting slowly to a safety problem despite being alerted by consumers and through warranty data submitted by the company. A recall can be initiated by an automaker or demanded by the government. ABC

Putin Says Deadline To Pay for Gas Isn’t Linked To Ukraine Vote
Russia wasn’t considering the date of planned elections in Ukraine when it set a deadline for its neighbor to start paying for natural gas supplies, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We don’t tie economics to the political process in Ukraine,” Putin said in an interview on state-run television’s “Vesti With Sergey Brilev” program broadcast today, according to a transcript provided by the president’s office. “It’s just that we were supposed to be paid on April 7 for gas delivered in March. We weren’t, and I’ll say it again, that’s $525 million. We got nothing.” Ukraine’s gas bill, which Putin says has reached $2.2 billion, threatens to undermine steps toward easing tensions agreed on by foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and U.S. in Geneva this week. Putin set a one-month deadline on April 17 during a televised call-in show, where he took questions from the public. Ukraine’s presidential election is scheduled for May 25.  Bloomberg

Obama: Easter A Time To Reflect On Hope, Renewal
President Barack Obama is encouraging Americans to draw strength and inspiration from the Easter and Passover holidays. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says Holy Week and Easter are times for reflection and renewal. He says the common threat of humanity is a shared commitment to loving our neighbors as ourselves. He says there's no better time for people to rededicate themselves to that mission. Obama also says the Easter story is one of hope and faith that better days are yet to come. Las Vegas Sun

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Stress May Make Allergy Symptoms Worse
Stress may trigger symptom flare-ups in people with seasonal allergies, a new study suggests. Researchers followed 179 people with hay fever for 12 weeks, and found that 39 percent of them had more than one flare-up. Those patients had higher levels of stress than those who didn't have allergy symptoms during the study period.
Sixty-four percent of the participants with higher stress levels had more than four flare-ups over two 14-day periods, according to the findings in the April issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. CBS

Asia Seeks Obama’s Assurance In Territorial Spats
As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that's warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China. Each of the four countries on Obama's itinerary — Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines — has disputes with China over islands and waters in the South and East China Seas. Their leaders will be weighing Obama's willingness to support them if those conflicts boil over. "What we can say after seeing what happened to Ukraine is that using force to change the status quo is not acceptable," said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is in one of the fiercest disputes with China. Las Vegas Sun

U.S. Airplanes Would Typically Need Government Approval To Land In Iran Due To Sanctions.
An airplane owned by the Bank of Utah mysteriously showed up at an airport in Tehran, Iran, despite a ban on the U.S. doing business in the country. The private aircraft, which bears a small U.S. flag, arrived at the Mehrabad Airport on Tuesday. Brett King, one of the bank's executives in Salt Lake City, said the bank acted as a trustee for investors who have a financial stake in the plane. “We have no idea why that plane was at that airport," he said. UPI

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Mazda Recalls 109,000 Older SUVs Over Rusting Parts
Mazda is recalling 109,000 Tribute SUVs in cold-weather states to fix rusting frame parts. The recall covers SUVs from the 2001 through 2004 model years. Mazda says in documents filed with U.S. safety regulators that the frame can rust and a wheel control arm can separate from it. That could result in a loss of steering control.
The SUVs were originally sold or registered in 20 states and Washington, D.C., where salt is used to clear snow and ice from roads. Dealers will install a reinforcement brace to fix the problem. Mazda says it will notify owners by letter when parts are available. MSNBC

Scalia To Students On High Taxes: At A Certain Point, ‘Perhaps You Should Revolt’
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told a group of law students that it might be a good idea to revolt if taxes become too high in the future. While speaking at the University of Tennessee College of Law on Tuesday, Justice Scalia was asked by a student about his interpretation of the constitutionality of the income tax, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The longest-serving justice currently on the bench answered the student by saying that the government has the constitutional right to implement the tax, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.” Justice Scalia continued to tell the students that they have every right to express criticism of the government. Washington Times

Delta Passengers Questioned After Bomb Threat Found
FBI officials questioned passengers on board Delta Flight 1500 and searched the Boeing 737 after a note with a bomb threat was discovered on the plane. No bomb was found. The pilot of the plane notified air traffic control of the threat, which was found on a note in the rear galley of the plane by a flight attendant. "Flight 1500 now declaring an emergency at this time. We have a written threat aboard the aircraft," the pilot said. "Our flight attendant found a note indicating there was a bomb onboard towards the rear of the aircraft." The plane, which was en route to Denver from Detroit, arrived safely at Denver International Airport and was taken to a remote location at the airport for screening. "The FBI came on board the plane and asked, of course, did anybody leave the note. They said there was a piece of paper in the back with the word bomb written on it," said passenger Joe Vance. UPI

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ObamaCare Enrollees Told To Change Passwords After Heartbleed Review
People who have accounts on the enrollment website for President Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the confounding Heartbleed Internet security flaw. Senior administration officials said there is no indication that the HealthCare.gov site has been compromised and the action is being taken out of an abundance of caution. The government's Heartbleed review is ongoing, the officials said, and users of other websites may also be told to change their passwords in the coming days, including those with accounts on the popular WhiteHouse.gov petitions page. Fox News

Vow To Push Forward On Ukraine Pact Meets Defiance On The Ground
Two days after an international pact was brokered with the stated goal of easing tensions in Ukraine, the major players met again in Kiev to hash out plans to push it along, but ended their meeting offering little indication of progress. "It was agreed to move ahead rapidly with the practical implementation of the Geneva Statement," the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a statement released Saturday that referred to the pact, which was agreed to on Thursday in the Swiss city by officials from Ukraine, the United States, the European Union and Russia. CNN

Iran Slams U.S. Justice Verdict On Manhattan Skyscraper
Iran on Saturday criticized a U.S. government move to seize a Manhattan skyscraper owned largely by a foundation that promotes its language and Islamic culture, saying this violated the right to religious freedom in the United States. According to a court document filed in New York on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to distribute proceeds from the sale of the Fifth Avenue high-rise to families affected by alleged Iranian-aided attacks, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. The settlement marks the latest turn in a long-running battle over the 36-storey building owned chiefly by Alavi Foundation, a non-profit Persian and Islamic cultural center. Reuters

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US Synagogue Network Urges Jews Not To Walk Home Alone
The National Council of Young Israel has urged synagogue goers not to walk home alone during the final days of the Passover holiday.  The security precaution is one of several emailed to those affiliated with the national modern orthodox synagogue network this week in response to the recent shooting attack at a Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas.  Jewish community centers, synagogues and other institutions around the country boosted their security last week following the attack, in which Klansman Frazier Glenn Cross killed three people, including a teenage boy.  Police have increased their presence at Jewish sites in both New York and Washington and senior Jewish communal officials have consulted with both the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Jerusalem Post

US Lawmakers Wary Of Israeli Spying Hesitate On Visa Waiver
American lawmakers in Washington are hesitant to ease visa restrictions for Israelis wishing to enter the United States for fear that it would increase the risk of Israeli espionage, Roll Call is reporting on Saturday. Earlier in the week, JTA reported that the US and Israel are creating a working group to help Israel advance toward joining the visa waiver program. “This is a goal of both the United States and Israel, and it would make travel easier for citizens of both countries,” Julia Frifield, the assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, said in a letter sent Thursday to Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). Permitting Israel into the visa waiver program would exempt Israeli nationals from having to produce a tourist visa, allowing them to stay in the country for a period of up to 90 days. Jerusalem Post

Iran Condemns US Seizure Of Alavi Foundation Building
Iran has condemned a US decision to seize a Manhattan skyscraper belonging to a non-profit organisation with alleged links to the Tehran government. The 36-storey building is owned chiefly by the Alavi Foundation, a Persian and Islamic cultural centre. Iran said its seizure was illegal and violated religious freedom. On Thursday the US justice department agreed to distribute proceeds from the sale of the building to victims of attacks by Iran-backed militants. Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Saturday: "Confiscation of the properties of an independent charity organisation raises doubt about the credibility of US justice." BBC

Japan Risks Angering China With Military Expansion
Japan began its first military expansion in more than 40 years on Saturday, breaking ground on a radar station on a tropical island off Taiwan to resist China's claims of ownership of nearby islands. The move risks angering China, which in dispute with Japan over the Senkaku islands – known in China as the Diaoyu islands – which they both claim. The Japanese defence minister, Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas south-west of Japan's main islands. Guardian

Wall Street Deregulation Pushed By Clinton Advisers
Wall Street deregulation, blamed for deepening the banking crisis, was aggressively pushed by advisers to Bill Clinton who have also been at the heart of current White House policy-making, according to newly disclosed documents from his presidential library. The previously restricted papers reveal two separate attempts, in 1995 and 1997, to hurry Clinton into supporting a repeal of the Depression-era Glass Steagall Act and allow investment banks, insurers and retail banks to merge. A Financial Services Modernization Act was passed by Congress in 1999, giving retrospective clearance to the 1998 merger of Citigroup and Travelers Group and unleashing a wave of Wall Street consolidation that was later blamed for forcing taxpayers to spend billions bailing out the enlarged banks after the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Guardian

Americans Aren’t Ready For The Future Google And Amazon Want To Build
Americans are hopeful about the future of technology. But don’t release the drones just yet. And forget meat grown in a petri dish. Pushing new tech on a public that isn’t ready can have real bottom-line consequences. That’s the takeaway from a new study released by the Pew Research Center looking at how U.S. residents felt about possible high-tech advances looming in the not-too-distant future. Overall, a decisive majority of those surveyed believed new tech would make the future better. At the same time, the public doesn’t seem quite ready for many of the advances companies like Google and Amazon are pushing hard to make real. If the stigma surrounding Google Glass (or, perhaps more specifically, “Glassholes”) has taught us anything, it’s that no matter how revolutionary technology may be, ultimately its success or failure ride on public perception. Wired

UN Envoy Urges Respect For Religious Freedom After Israeli Forces Disrupt Easter Procession
A top United Nations envoy on Saturday said he was dismayed that a peaceful Easter procession led by Palestinian Christians through Jerusalem's Old City was disrupted by Israeli security forces. “Once again I call on all parties to respect the right of religious freedom, granting access to holy sites for worshippers of all faiths and refraining from provocations not least during the religious holidays,” said Robert Serry, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. UN News

OPCW-UN Mission Reports Further Progress In Eliminating Syria's Chemical Weapons
Syria has, as of 19 April, removed or destroyed in-country approximately 80 per cent of its chemical weapons material, the head of the Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations announced today. Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, said in a statement that further engagement is expected to sustain momentum and to complete removal operations during the next days. This will contribute to meeting the deadlines set by the OPCW Executive Council, including the 30 June 2014 target date for completing the destruction of Syria's entire chemical weapons programme. UN News

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