Fears rise for 287 still missing more than 24 hours after ferry sinks off South Korea
MOKPO, South Korea (AP) -- Strong currents and bad visibility hampered rescuers Thursday in the search for 287 passengers still missing more than 24 hours after their ferry flipped onto its side and filled with cold water off the southern coast of South Korea, causing fury among families waiting for word of passengers who were mostly high school students.
Nine were confirmed dead, but many expect that number will rise sharply because the missing have now spent more than a day either trapped in the ferry or in the cold seawater.
There were 475 people aboard and frantic parents have gathered at the high school student's school near Seoul and in Mokpo, in the south of the country, not far from where the ferry slipped beneath the surface until only the blue-tipped, forward edge of the keel was visible.
Parents, siblings and other relatives of three high school students killed in the sinking wailed and sobbed as ambulances at a hospital in Mokpo took the students' bodies to the city near Seoul where their high school is located. The families, who spent a mostly sleepless night at the hospital, followed the ambulances in their own cars.
The family of one of the victims, 24-year-old teacher Choi Hye-jung, spoke about a young woman who loved to boast of how her students would come to her office and give her hugs. She loved teaching and loved her students and was excited about her first-ever school trip to Jeju island. There were 325 students on board, headed to Jeju for a four-day trip.
Combat vehicles in east Ukraine seized by pro-Russian insurgents; Troops must hand over ammo
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) -- The well-armed, Moscow-backed insurgency sowing chaos in eastern Ukraine scored a new victory Wednesday, seizing armored vehicles and weapons from underequipped government forces, then rolling through two cities to a hero's welcome.
Responding to what it sees as Russia's aggression, NATO announced it was increasing its military presence along its eastern border, closest to Russia and Ukraine. And the Obama administration moved to ratchet up its response, preparing new sanctions on Russia and boosted assistance for the struggling Ukrainian military.
Wednesday's setbacks came just 24 hours after a much-touted Ukrainian army operation to retake control of Solvyansk and other cities in the restive east, and appeared to reflect growing indecisiveness by the new Kiev leadership, which has vowed for days to re-establish its authority there.
With tens of thousands of Russian troops deployed along the border with Ukraine, there are fears the Kremlin might use the instability in the predominantly Russian-speaking region as a pretext for seizing more territory beyond its annexation of Crimea last month.
The day began with throngs of residents in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, some 10 miles (15 kilometers) south of Slovyansk, encircling a column of Ukrainian armored vehicles carrying several dozen troops. Soon after, masked gunmen in combat gear, wearing the black-and-orange St. George ribbons distinguishing them as pro-Russian militia, reached the site.
10 Things to Know for Thursday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:
1. ORDERS BY SHIP'S CREW DRAW SCRUTINY
As the doomed South Korean ferry listed severely, passengers say they were told to wait for rescuers, rather than try to escape.
Race director says Boston Marathon will be 'safest place on the planet'
BOSTON (AP) -- The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.
The actions of the man, whose mother said he had a mental disorder, rattled nerves as Boston prepared for the annual race, but authorities said they did not consider it a security breach. Officials also expressed confidence in heightened security measures for Monday's event while acknowledging the challenge of protecting an estimated 1 million spectators and 36,000 runners across 26.2 miles and eight Massachusetts communities.
Security plans include thousands of uniformed police, hundreds of plainclothes officers and about 100 strategically positioned video cameras that will monitor the crowds. Police also strongly discouraged spectators from bringing backpacks.
"I believe this will be the safest place on the planet on April 21," said Dave McGillivray, the long-time race director for the Boston Athletic Association.
Boston police detonated the suspicious backpack Tuesday night, along with a second backpack that was later found to have been left behind by a journalist covering the day's remembrances, Police Commissioner William Evans said.
Firetruck answering call slams into Los Angeles-area restaurant; firefighters among 15 hurt
MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (AP) -- Two firetrucks heading to a burning home collided Wednesday in a Los Angeles suburb, sending one careening into a restaurant and injuring 15 people, including at least five firefighters.
One of the victims was in critical condition, officials said.
The crash on a busy commercial strip in Monterey Park left one truck embedded in the restaurant, with shattered glass and rubble heaped on the sidewalk. Chairs and tables were scattered inside.
"There was a loud boom and a lot of shaking. I thought it was an earthquake," said Wendy Wu, a waitress who was in a walk-in freezer when the truck plowed through the front of the restaurant.
When she walked out of the freezer, uninjured, she saw a refrigerator pushed across the room and furniture in disarray. Wearing a uniform with the restaurant logo and speaking through an interpreter, she said she saw several injured people bleeding and attempting to stand.
Good news on sign-ups, costs, prompts calls for unabashed defense of 'Obamacare' in campaigns
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The outlook for the president's health care overhaul suddenly appears brighter, and some Democrats are saying it's time for the party to openly embrace the law that Republicans consider their best campaign weapon.
Activists in one Senate race are doing just that. Other Democratic candidates, however, remain wary, unsure that a modest dose of good news will be enough to offset countless TV ads denouncing "Obamacare."
Those worries are well founded, say Republicans who shrug off the developments Democrats tout.
President Barack Obama recently announced that first-year sign-ups for subsidized private health insurance topped 7 million, exceeding expectations. And the Congressional Budget Office -- the government's fiscal scorekeeper -- said it expects only a minimal increase in customers' costs for 2015. Over the next decade, CBO said the new law will cost taxpayers $100 billion less than previously estimated.
Republicans already were pushing their luck by vowing to "repeal and replace" the health care law without having a viable replacement in mind, says Thomas Mills, a Democratic consultant and blogger in North Carolina. Now, he says, Democrats have even more reasons to rise from their defensive crouch on this topic.
Robot sub makes first complete search for missing Malaysian plane, but no clues uncovered
PERTH, Australia (AP) -- A robotic submarine has completed its first full 16-hour mission scanning the floor of the Indian Ocean for wreckage of the missing Malaysian airliner after two previous missions were cut short by technical problems and deep water, authorities said on Thursday.
The Bluefin 21 had covered 90 square kilometers (35 square miles) of the silt-covered sea bed off the west Australian coast in its first three missions, the search coordination center said on Thursday. While data collected by the sub from its latest mission, which ended overnight, was still being analyzed, nothing of note had yet been discovered, the center said.
A total of 12 planes and 11 ships were to join what could be the final day of the surface ocean search for debris from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.
Thursday's search would cover a 40,300-square-kilometer (15,600-square-mile) patch of sea about 2,200 kilometers (1,400 miles) northwest of the Australian city of Perth, the center said.
When the sea bed search began this week, authorities announced that the days of the fruitless surface search were numbered as the chances of success dwindled.
Study sees drop in rates of most common major diabetes complications -- heart attack and stroke
NEW YORK (AP) -- In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.
Over the last two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations.
The drop is mainly attributed to better screening, medicines and care. The improvements came even as the number of U.S. adults with diabetes more than tripled in those 20 years.
"It is great news," said Dr. John Buse, a University of North Carolina diabetes specialist, of the drop in rates.
"The prognosis for folks with diabetes has improved dramatically over the last two decades, at least for those with good access to care," Buse said in an email. He was not involved in the study.
uFly fires flight instructor who appeared on CNN, saying he 'shamed' Canada with dress style
TORONTO (AP) -- A Canadian flight simulator business fired an instructor who figured prominently in CNN's coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, saying he showed up late to his regular job and "shamed Canadians" by dressing like a teenager.
uFly company owner Claudio Teixeira said he fired Mitchell Casado on Wednesday in part for refusing to dress professionally and making Canadians "look very bad all over the world."
Casado's relaxed style of jeans and plaid shirts attracted wide attention during CNN's constant coverage of the search for the missing flight. CNN's Martin Savidge and Casado logged many hours reporting from the fake cockpit located at the company's office in near the Toronto airport, which has a simulator that is the same model of the lost plane.
Teixeira said Casado didn't come to work Tuesday when customers had the simulator booked. "This is not the first time. He's been warned before," he told The Associated Press.
Teixeira says he received many email complaints about the instructor's way of dressing during the time he appeared on CNN.
CJ2K in NYC: Jets sign former Titans running back Chris Johnson
NEW YORK (AP) -- Always fast on the field, Chris Johnson is looking to quickly prove his critics wrong.
The New York Jets signed the former Titans running back Wednesday, a little over a week after he was officially released by Tennessee.
Johnson met with the Jets all day Tuesday -- the first team he visited -- and stayed in town to watch the Knicks-Nets game in Brooklyn before signing Wednesday. The Jets announced the move, but didn't release terms.
In a text message to The Associated Press, Johnson confirmed it was a two-year deal.
"I have a fresh start," Johnson told The Tennessean. "Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder. I know a lot of people are doubting me."