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Older News Archivescom0116
NEWS     WEDNESDAY APRIL 23, 2014     NEWS

Homeland Security May Avoid Deporting Tens Of Thousands Here Illegally
Tens of thousands of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally but don't have serious criminal records could be shielded from deportation under a policy change being weighed by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. The change, if adopted following a review ordered by President Barack Obama, could limit removals of people who have little or no criminal record but have committed repeat immigration violations such as re-entering the country illegally after having been deported, or failing to comply with a deportation order. The possible move, confirmed by two people with knowledge of the review, would fall short of the sweeping changes sought by activists. They want Obama to expand a two-year-old program that grants work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as children to include other groups, such as the parents of any children born in the U.S. CNS News
VOA VIEW: The U.S. has an open door immigration policy.

Humanist Group Sues NJ School District Over Uunder God' In Pledge Of Allegiance
A national humanist group is suing a New Jersey school district on behalf of a family that believes the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is discriminatory toward atheist children. The lawsuit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District was filed in state court last month and announced Monday by the American Humanist Association, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization. The group says the phrase, added in 1954, "marginalizes atheist and humanist kids as something less than ideal patriots." The anonymous plaintiffs say those two words violate the state constitution's right to equal protection. Fox News

Congressional Budget Office Projections On ObamaCare Raise Questions About Future Enrollment
President Obama and other officials like to point to projections by the Congressional Budget Office to show that ObamaCare "is working," as the president put it. He said 8 million have enrolled in the federal exchanges, but the CBO said in a recent report only 6 million are newly insured and some say even fewer than that did not have prior insurance. "Twenty to 33 percent are actually newly insured and out of 8 million, that would be no more than 2 to 3 million people," said David Hogberg of National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington. Fox News

GM: New Changes Could Have Prevented Deadly Recall Crisis
General Motors on Tuesday restructured its engineering and quality departments, saying the changes could have prevented its current recall crisis. The new changes "could have really helped us prevent this in the past," said Mark Reuss, an executive vice president at the automaker, referring to the flawed ignition switch. The automaker has acknowledged that some GM engineers knew of flaws with the part ten years ago, but because of internal miscues, it took years for it to enact the recall.
General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) and federal regulators announced a recall in February that now includes 2.6 million vehicles worldwide. CNN

HHS: People 'Leaving Incarceration' May Enroll In Obamacare
Open enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges is closed for 2014, but healthcare.gov wants Americans to know, "You may still have options to get health coverage this year." Healthcare.gov lists eight situations that qualify for special enrollment in the exchanges, including "leaving incarceration." On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will release new clemency guidelines later this week, designed to help thousands of nonviolent drug offenders get out of prison. In addition to getting out of prison, the other "qualifying life events" that will allow you to enroll in the exchanges before Nov. 15 include: CNS News
VOA VIEW: A total joke that draws no laughter.

IRS's Summons Power Faces Test In Supreme Court
The Internal Revenue Service will go before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to defend the way it enforces its power to issue legal summonses to obtain sensitive documents from taxpayers who refuse to cooperate with audits. The IRS is squaring off against Michael Clarke, a West Palm Beach, Florida, investor who is arguing that the U.S. tax agency in 2011 improperly issued a summons "as retribution" against him and his business partners for resisting an audit. At issue is what legal standards taxpayers must meet to get a court hearing if they think the IRS has issued a summons for an improper purpose. Clarke maintains he should have gotten a hearing, while the IRS says such hearings are unnecessary. Reuters

Planned Powdered Alcohol Product Hits Snag With U.S. Regulators
The planned release of a just-add-water alcoholic beverage mix called "Palcohol" hit a snag this week when the U.S. regulatory body in charge of approving its sale blocked it over a labeling issue, the company behind the product said. The company, in a statement on its website on Monday, said the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau had found a discrepancy in how much powder was in each bag of its product. That prompted the company, named Lipsmark and registered in Tempe, Arizona, to agree to submit new labels for approval, the statement said. "This doesn't mean that Palcohol isn't approved. It just means that these labels aren't approved. We will re-submit labels," the company said, adding that it was unable to estimate how long it would take new labels to receive approval. Reuters

U.S. Investigators: Better Regulation Could Have Prevented Deadly Fertilizer Explosion
The owners of a Texas fertilizer plant and regulators failed to take steps that would have prevented a deadly explosion, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said Tuesday.
The volunteer firefighters who responded to a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. did not understand what they were dealing with, officials said at a news conference in Dallas. Most of the 14 killed in the explosion on April 18, 2013, were firefighters. Between 40 and 60 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored in wooden buildings, the board said. Rafael Moure-Eraso, the chairman, said the explosion was caused by "the failure of a company to take the necessary steps to avert a preventable fire and explosion, and from the inability of federal, state and local regulatory agencies to identify a serious hazard and correct it.” UPI

Biden Wraps Up Ukraine Visit As Concerns Over Russian Invasion Increase
Vice President Joe Biden finished his trip in Ukraine pledging U.S. support to the fledgling government as the the threat of Russian invasion heightens. "We want to be your partner, your friend in the project and we're ready to assist," said Biden. "You have an opportunity, a chance to bring about an era of reform. Biden's words of encouragement and support were supplemented by a pledge of $50 million in U.S. aid to help the government in the upcoming May elections. The offer was paired with a warning, though, to eliminate the corruption that has plagued the country for so long. UPI

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Material On Australian Shore Examined In Hunt For Malaysian Jet
Unidentified material that has washed ashore in southwestern Australia is being examined for any link to the lost Malaysian plane, authorities said Wednesday. Police secured the material, which washed ashore 6 miles east of Augusta in Western Australia state, the search coordination center said in a statement, without describing the material found. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is examining photographs to assess whether further investigation is needed and if the material is relevant to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Detroit News

Putin To Biden: Why Should I Care?
Since he took over Crimea, President Vladimir Putin has seen his popularity soar and his opposition fall silent. So when the U.S. vice president told Russia to defuse tensions in Ukraine, Putin had few reasons to listen. Emboldened by the national euphoria over the annexation of Crimea, Putin has moved against the few remaining critical voices in Russia and further neutered the news media. Yesterday, a court cleared the way for sending his most vocal critic to prison. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was found guilty of slandering a lawmaker and fined the equivalent of $8,400. As a result, he may be jailed during a trial in a second case that starts tomorrow. Philadelphia Inquirer

Dole On Paul, Cruz, Rubio: They're Not Ready
Former Republican Sen. Bob Dole argued that some of the men among the younger generation of potential GOP presidential candidates aren't quite ready to take on the White House. "A number of the younger members, first-termers like Rand Paul, (Marco) Rubio and that extreme-right-wing guy – Ted Cruz? All running for president now," he said in an interview this week with The Wichita Eagle. "I don't think they've got enough experience yet." The former Republican senator from Kansas and 1996 GOP presidential nominee - who also served as a U.S. congressman as well as the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1976 - is returning to his roots this week for a nine-county tour around Kansas. CNN
VOA VIEW: Obama had less experience and only had one skill - deception.

Anti-Obama Protesters Clash With Police In Manila
Police armed with truncheons, shields and a fire hose clashed Wednesday with more than 100 left-wing activists who rallied at the U.S. Embassy in Manila to oppose a visit by President Barack Obama and an expected security pact that would increase the American military presence in the Philippines. Riot policemen blocked the flag-waving activists near the heavily fortified embassy compound but the protesters slipped past them, sparking a brief scuffle in view of motorists stuck in traffic. The police sprayed the protesters with water from a fire truck to push them away. A police officer was punched in the face in the melee but no arrests were made. Some of the protesters carried paper U.S. flags with the message: "Obama, not welcome." Tampa Tribune

Gun Checks Miss Millions Of Fugitives
Millions of fugitives can pass undetected through federal background checks and buy guns illegally because police departments across the country routinely fail to put their names into a national database that tracks people on the run from the law. Those background checks, conducted by the FBI, are designed to block fugitives, felons, the mentally ill and others who might be violent from buying firearms. They automatically bar sales to anyone identified in federal records as having an outstanding arrest warrant, even if it is for a minor crime. Yet despite years of attempts to shore up the government's National Instant Background Check System, enormous gaps remain, particularly when it comes to identifying fugitives. In five states alone, law enforcement agencies failed to provide information to the FBI about at least 2.5 million outstanding arrest warrants, police and court records show. Among them are tens of thousands of people wanted for violent offenses and other felonies. USA Today

Europe Recovery Shows Signs Of Strengthening
Analysts say Wednesday's positive data could take some of the pressure off the European Central Bank to take further steps to stimulate the economy. However, stubbornly low inflation across the 18-country single currency zone remains a concern. The Markit survey of purchasing managers — a closely watched gauge of business activity — climbed to 54.0 in April from 53.1 in March. That's the highest reading since May, 2011. Anything over 50 indicates expansion. Kansas City Star

Shares Mixed On Lackluster China Data
Shares were mixed Wednesday, as weak data from China sapped the upward momentum from an overnight rally on a flurry of deals in the pharmaceutical sector. In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.04 percent to 6,684.47, while Germany's DAX was 0.02 percent lower at 9,598.73 and France's CAC-40 fell 0.3 percent to 4,470.28. Wall Street looked set for a sluggish start, with Dow Jones futures up 0.04 percent and S&P futures almost flat. A preliminary survey of Chinese manufacturers by HSBC showed slight improvements in prices and demand, but contractions in new export orders and employment in April. The results were expected, but helped pull Hong Kong's Hang Seng index down 0.8 percent to 22,550.95. Shares in mainland China also fell. Miami Herald

Boogeymen And Shady Deals Define Spin For Senate
To hear party operatives describe the fight for the Senate, it's the boogeyman billionaires against the shifty septuagenarian. For months, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been pushing an unrelenting string of criticism against Charles and David Koch, the wealthy industrialists who have backed some of the nation's most effective conservative groups. Now, Republican candidates are adjusting their plans and linking Democratic Senate candidates to Reid, painting the 74-year-old leader and his allies as unscrupulous politicians. SF Gate

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Start To Twister Season Could Be Quietest In A Century
This year has so far seen fewer twisters than any similar period in at least six decades and possibly a century or more. The U.S. has so far seen zero tornado deaths –- the safest start since 2002. The start of 2014 is definitely the slowest in terms of tornadoes since 1953, when the most detailed database was started, Harold Brooks, a senior researcher at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., told NBC News. Slightly less reliable records dating back to the 1870s suggest “this is likely the slowest start to a tornado season since 1915,” he adds. “1900 is possibly slower and, prior to that, we're looking at the late 1870s and early 1880s for challengers.” MSNBC

Rare Birth Defects Still Spiking In Washington State
Seven cases of a rare fatal birth defect were reported in a remote region of Washington state in 2013, making it the fourth consecutive year that rates have more than tripled the national average, health officials said Tuesday. There’s still no clear reason for the spike in anencephaly, a severe defect in which babies are born missing parts of the brain or skull, according to a statement from Washington state health officials. NBC News investigated the issue in February. The rate jumped to 8.7 cases per 10,000 births in the area that includes Yakima, Benton and Franklin counties in eastern Washington state, far exceeding the national anencephaly rate of 2.1 cases per 10,000 births. MSNBC

High Court Weighs Ban On Political ‘Lies’
The truth has often been one of the first casualties in electoral contests dating back the birth of democracy. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court took up the question of whether there is a constitutionally protected right to tell lies about political candidates seeking office. Emphasizing the need to rule with midterm elections on the way, the high court heard oral arguments over an Ohio law that makes it illegal to knowingly make false statements about candidates on the campaign trail. At issue were billboards put up by the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, accusing then-Rep. Steven Driehaus of having supported taxpayer-funded abortions because the Democrat voted for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Washington Times

Gold Falls To 10-Week Low As Economy Erodes Haven Demand
Gold futures fell to a 10-week low as signs of an improving U.S. economy crimped haven demand. Manufacturing in the region covered by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in Virginia expanded in April, reinforcing the U.S. central bank’s view that the economy is recovering and stimulus cuts are warranted. Gold has dropped 8 percent from a six-month high on March 17, partly on concern that the Fed may raise interest rates in 2015 after ending debt purchases this year. Equities (SPX) headed for the longest rally since September. “The demand for gold is diminishing as the U.S. economy continues to march ahead,” Frank McGhee, the head dealer at Integrated Brokerage Services LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. Bloomberg

Globe Had 4th Hottest March; US Cooler Than Normal
Federal forecasters calculated that for most of the Earth, last month was one of the hottest Marchs on record — except in the United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday that it was the fourth hottest March in 135 years of records. The overall global temperature was 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 degree Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average. But in the United States, March was about a degree cooler than normal, or about a half a degree Celsius. It was the 43rd coolest March on record. Las Vegas Sun

US Troops Head To Exercises In Eastern Europe
U.S. Army troops are arriving in Poland to begin what will be a series of military exercises in four countries across Eastern Europe in a move to bolster allies in the wake of Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula last month. Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says the exercises will last about a month, and involve a total of roughly 600 troops. An Army company of about 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy, will start the exercises Wednesday in Poland. Similar exercises will be conducted in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and troops could arrive in those countries by Monday. The exercises are part of an effort announced last week aimed at reassuring NATO allies of America's commitment to the region's defense. Las Vegas Sun

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S.C. College Production Highlights Political Battle Between Lawmakers, Public Universities
More than 750 people packed into a city auditorium here this week for a sold-out production of “Fun Home,” a musical by a New York-based troupe about a woman coming to terms with her closeted gay father’s suicide. The crowd rose in a standing ovation before the show even began. The emotional reaction was part of a worsening political battle between South Carolina’s public universities and conservative Republican lawmakers, who argue that campus culture should reflect the socially conservative views of the state. The state’s House of Representatives recently voted to cut $52,000 in funding for the College of Charleston as punishment for assigning students to read “Fun Home,” the graphic novel that formed the basis for the play. House lawmakers endorsed a similar budget cut for the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg for using a different book with gay themes in its reading program. Washington Post

U.S. To Partially Resume Military Aid To Egypt
The United States has decided to resume delivery of Apache helicopters to Egypt, the Pentagon announced late Tuesday, backtracking on a decision officials made last summer following the country’s military coup and its violent aftermath. The Obama administration opted to go ahead with the delivery of 10 aircraft to help Egypt combat cells of extremists in the Sinai, even though Washington is unable to meet congressional criteria for the full resumption of aid. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told his Egyptian counterpart, Gen. Sedki Sobhy, in a phone call Tuesday that the United States is “not yet able to certify that Egypt is taking steps to support a democratic transition,” Rear. Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement released at 10 p.m. Hagel urged his counterpart to “demonstrate progress on a more inclusive transition that respects the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Egyptians,” the statement said. Washington Post

Hillary Clinton Headlining Forums In Mass., Conn.
Hillary Rodham Clinton will be headlining forums in Boston and at the University of Connecticut as she considers another run for president in 2016. The Democratic former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady is set to give a keynote address Wednesday afternoon at the Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston, then travel to UConn in Storrs, Conn., to speak at a contemporary issues forum in the early evening. The Boston event has been hosted by Simmons College for 35 years and bills itself as the longest-running women’s leadership forum in the country. It’s sold out. The Edmund Fusco Contemporary Issues Forum at UConn is closed to the public. Boston Globe

Greece Hits Milestone, Opens Way For Debt Relief
Greece has reached a major financial milestone that its creditors demanded as a precondition for being granted more debt relief, the European Commission said Wednesday. Additional help from its bailout creditors would help the crisis-stricken country as it seeks to overcome a protracted recession and tackle rampant unemployment. Greece's government revenues last year exceeded expenditure when interest payment and other items were excluded, thus achieving a so-called primary budget surplus, a spokesman for the EU's executive Commission said. Simon O'Connor said the surplus of 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion), or 0.8 percent of its annual gross domestic product is "well ahead of the 2013 target which was for a balanced budget" and showing Greece is on the right track to heal its finances. Houston Chronicle

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Amid Politics, Obama Drifted Away From Kin
After Zeituni Onyango, the woman President Obama once called Auntie, died in a South Boston nursing home this month, her closest relatives gathered her belongings at her nearby apartment. There, framed photographs of her with the president covered the wall. Weeping before a polished wood coffin at her wake this past Saturday, they described Ms. Onyango, the half sister of the president’s father, as “the spirit of the Obama family” and talked about raising money to send her body back to Kenya. Mr. Obama helped pay funeral expenses and sent a condolence note, Ms. Onyango’s family members said, but the president did not attend, as he was golfing. Every complicated family is complicated in its own way. The Obamas, in that sense, are ordinary. But the natural drift that has occurred within the family — already separated by oceans and languages — is exacerbated by politics. NY Times

Michigan Man Among 1st In US To Get 'Bionic Eye'
Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited disease that causes slow but progressive vision loss due to a gradual loss of the light-sensitive retinal cells called rods and cones. Patients experience loss of side vision and night vision, then central vision, which can result in near blindness. Not all of the 100,000 or so people in the U.S. with retinitis pigmentosa can benefit from the bionic eye. An estimated 10,000 have vision low enough, said Dr. Brian Mech, an executive with Second Sight Medical Products Inc., the Sylmar, Calif.-based company that makes the device. Of those, about 7,500 are eligible for the surgery. The artificial implant in Pontz's left eye is part of a system developed by Second Sight that includes a small video camera and transmitter housed in a pair of glasses. Charlotte Observer

Obama Opens Japan Trip At Famous Sushi Restaurant
President Barack Obama is getting a lesson in the art of sushi making at a famous Tokyo restaurant with hard-to-come-by reservations. But Obama and his dining partner, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay), didn't appear to have trouble scoring seats at Sukiyabashi Jiro. The 10-seat restaurant is run by 87-year-old Jiro Ono, who was featured in the 2011 documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi." Obama and Abe greeted each other outside the underground restaurant before heading in for the private dinner that typically costs about $300. Joining Obama and Abe at dinner were U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Atlanta Journal

SKorean City Full Of Grief Prepares For More
The altar of the memorial is a wall of white and yellow flowers and greens, surrounding photos of 47 students and teachers whose bodies have been identified after being recovered from the ferry Sewol. There is room for many, many more pictures. The temporary memorial opened Wednesday in Ansan, the city south of Seoul that has taken the brunt of the pain from the ferry sinking last week that left 302 people dead or missing. At the site, in the auditorium of the Olympic Memorial Museum, visitors walked past a line of wreaths sent from across the country and placed white chrysanthemums on the altar. A big screen on the left of the altar showed pictures of students, one face after another, all in school uniforms, while another screen on the right showed a stream of text messages from the public expressing condolences. San Diego Union

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Leaked Microsoft Documents Could Signal End For Nokia
Nokia was once the driving force of the mobile scene but are we about to see the once mighty company disappear forever? Microsoft has been gradually completing the $7.17 billion (A$7.65) takeover of the former world’s largest mobile vendor and as the final handshakes are made this month reports suggest that the iconic Nokia name will be dropped on the history heap. Enthusiast website Nokia Power User has revealed a leaked letter from Nokia to its existing suppliers that read: “Please note that upon the close of the transaction between Microsoft and Nokia, the name of Nokia Corporation/Nokia Oyj will change to Microsoft Mobile Oy.” NY Post

IRS Awards Bonuses To 1,100 Who Owe Back Taxes
The Internal Revenue Service has paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with recent disciplinary problems, including $1 million to workers who owed back taxes, a government investigator said Tuesday. More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012. George's report said the bonus program doesn't violate federal regulations, but it's inconsistent with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws. Seattle Times
 

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Lapid Threatening To Leave Netanyahu's Coalition If Peace Talks End
Officials in Yesh Atid confirm a Channel 10 report that past commitments Lapid made to remove his party from the coalition if there are no talks apply to the situation that could arise in upcoming days. Yesh Atid will leave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's governing coalition if negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians end and there is no diplomatic process taking place, party leader Yair Lapid said in closed conversations Tuesday. Officials in Yesh Atid confirmed a Channel 10 report that past commitments Lapid made to remove his party from the coalition if there are no peace talks applied to the situation that could arise in upcoming days. The officials said the threat to leave was serious but not immediate. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: Lapid's open threat essentially is providing negotiation strength to the Palestinians at the determinant to his own country.

Israel Not About To Enter Russia, Ukraine Fray, FM Liberman Says
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman made clear Tuesday that Israel intended to refrain from taking a firm position on the Ukrainian crisis, saying there is "no lack" of problems in the Middle East that Israel needs to contend with. "Our basic position is that we hope Russia and Ukraine will find a way as quickly as possible to normalize relations, and find a way to talks, and to solve all the problems peacefully," he said at a Jerusalem press conference with visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz. "We will support all efforts to solve this issue in the fastest way possible, without confrontation or friction." Jerusalem Post

Saudi Health Minister Sacked As Mers Death Toll Rises
The Saudi health minister has been sacked without explanation, as the Mers coronavirus death toll there climbed to 81. Abdullah al-Rabiah was dismissed just days after visiting hospitals in Jeddah to calm a public hit by panic over the spread of the respiratory virus. Saudi has registered the largest number of infections of Mers (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). The ministry said it had registered 261 cases of infection across the kingdom. The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has been informed of 243 laboratory-confirmed cases worldwide, including 93 deaths since the virus was first discovered in September 2012. BBC

Facebook Boss Wants Women To Act To Create 'Equal World'
Facebook's highest-ranked woman has said women need to take action to create a more equal world. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of the social network site, said women should hold half of the important positions in business. "If you're thinking about doing something, ask yourself what you would do if you weren't afraid and then do it," she told the BBC. Ms Sandberg became the first woman on Facebook's board in June 2012. Last year, she wrote Lean In, a book advising women on how to make progress in the workplace. BBC

Barack Obama Set To Back Japan In Islands Dispute As Asia Tour Begins
Barack Obama is expected to offer guarded support for Japan in its bitter territorial dispute with China over a group of islands in the East China Sea, as Washington seeks to reassure its Asia-Pacific allies of its commitment to regional security in the face of an increasingly assertive China. Obama will arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday at the start of an eight-day tour of Asia that will include South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. On Tuesday about 150 Japanese politicians risked further souring ties with China by visiting Yasukuni, a shrine in Tokyo that honours Japan's 2.5 million war dead, including 14 leaders hanged for war crimes by the allies. Guardian

Signs Of North Korean Nuclear Test Preparations
North Korea may be preparing to carry out its fourth nuclear test, South Korea's defence ministry said on Tuesday, citing a significant step-up in activity at the North's main test site. "Our military is currently detecting a lot of activity in and around the Punggye-ri nuclear test site," said Kim Min-Seok, a ministry spokesman. "We are thinking of possibilities that the North may stage a surprise nuclear test or just pretend to stage a nuclear test," Kim said, adding that the country's joint chiefs of staff had set up a special task force in case Pyongyang went ahead with an underground detonation. Guardian

‘Hillary’s Nightmare’ Could Derail Clinton’s Election Bid After All
Elizabeth Warren takes the stage for her acceptance speech after beating incumbent US Senator Scott Bown to become the first female senator in Massachusetts.
She has been described as “Hillary’s nightmare” — a banker-bashing, consumer-championing US senator who liberals believe could mount a serious challenge to Mrs Clinton for the Democrat nomination in the 2016 presidential election. Officially, Elizabeth Warren, a 64-year-old former Harvard law professor and Massachusetts senator, has no ambitions for the White House. “I’m not running for president,” she told ABC News yesterday. But she was in the television studios to promote a new autobiography that, in the traditions of books such as Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope, sounded to many pundits very much like a campaign manifesto; and in Washington circles her denials that she would run only succeeded in deepening speculation that she might. Telegraph

Pupils Found With Handguns In School
Nearly 40 children have been found with guns on school premises over the last three years, a shocking new national survey has disclosed. Figures obtained from police forces across Britain showed guns and air weapons had been confiscated on 37 occasions by officers - including two hand guns. The other guns included 27 ball bearing guns and seven other air weapons. The figures showed almost 1,000 pupils in total were caught by police with weapons in schools including a Taser stun gun, a meat cleaver, three axes and a cut-throat razor. Telegraph

UN Urges Protecting Planet From ‘Heavy Hand Of Humankind’
On International Mother Earth Day, the United Nations is urging greater efforts to promote sustainable development and use of renewable energy sources, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealing for worldwide changes in attitude and practice to curb the negative impact of human activity on the planet. “From tropical deforestation to depleted ocean fisheries, from growing freshwater shortages to the rapid decline of biodiversity and increasingly polluted skies and seas in many parts of the world, we see the heavy hand of humankind,” said the UN chief. UN News

South Sudan: UN Says Surging Violence Claimed Lives Of Children, Worsened Malnutrition Among Survivors
Confirming that children were killed in South Sudan during recent brutal attacks on displaced civilians or as a result of being recruited by armed groups, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned today that the surging violence is exacerbating an already “very dangerous” malnutrition crisis. The children were among the dozens of internally displaced persons (IDPs) attacked by gunmen on 17 April while sheltering at a UN site in the central South Sudanese town of Bor, capital of strife-torn Jonglei state, UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac told reporters in Geneva. “The exact numbers are currently being verified,” he said, adding that up to 23,000 people are currently sheltering at the UN base in Bentiu. Some of the children were killed either in direct attacks or as a result of being caught in the crossfire. UN News

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