Friday, April 18, 2014

Published:

Captain of sunken South Korean ferry, 2 crew members arrested; divers sees bodies in vessel

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) -- The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need -- three of whom were seen lifeless in the drowned vessel by a diver who was unable to get them out.

Rescuers planned 40 dives Saturday in an attempt to enter the ferry and retrieve at least some of the more than 270 people missing. A civilian diver saw the three bodies inside the ship through windows but was unable to break the windows, said Kwon Yong-deok, a coast guard official. Strong currents and rain made it difficult to get inside the ferry, where most of the passengers are believed to have been trapped, coast guard spokesman Kim Jae-in said.

So far 29 bodies have been recovered since Wednesday's disaster off the southern South Korea coast. As the last bit of the sunken ferry's hull slipped Friday beneath the murky water off southern South Korea, there was a new victim: a vice principal of the high school whose students were among the passengers was found hanged, an apparent suicide.

Prosecutors said the ferry captain, Lee Joon-seok, 68, was arrested early Saturday along with the third mate, a 25-year-old woman identified only by her surname, Park, and helmsman Cho Joon-ki, 55. Lee faces five charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law, and the crew members each face three related charges, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Investigators said the accident came at a point where the ship had to make a turn, and prosecutor Park Jae-eok said investigators were looking at whether the third mate ordered a turn so sharp that it caused the vessel to list.

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Despite diplomatic efforts, pro-Russian insurgents refuse to leave occupied Ukraine buildings

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Pro-Russian insurgents defiantly refused Friday to surrender their weapons or give up government buildings in eastern Ukraine, despite a diplomatic accord reached in Geneva and overtures from the government in Kiev.

Denis Pushilin of the self-appointed Donetsk People's Republic told reporters the insurgents in more than 10 cities do not recognize Ukraine's interim government as legitimate and will not leave the buildings until the government resigns. He demanded that Ukrainian leaders abandon their own public buildings.

Talks between Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union produced an agreement Thursday in Geneva to take tentative steps toward calming tensions in Ukraine. The country's former leader fled to Russia in February and Russia annexed Crimea in March. The Geneva agreement calls for disarming all paramilitary groups and immediately returning all government buildings seized across the country.

Pushilin, speaking at the insurgent-occupied regional headquarters in the eastern city of Donetsk, said the agreement was "reasonable" but insisted "everyone should vacate the buildings," including Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Oleksandr Turchynov, the acting Ukrainian prime minister and president.

Ukraine has scheduled a presidential election for May 25, but Pushilin reiterated a call to hold a referendum on self-determination for the Donetsk region by May 11. The same kind of referendum in Crimea led to its annexation by Russia.

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Sudden extreme ground movement overnight raises alarm in evacuated Wyoming slide area

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- A slow-moving landslide in the Wyoming resort town of Jackson sped up significantly Friday, splitting a house in two, causing a huge uplift in a road and a Walgreens parking lot, and threatening to destroy several other unoccupied homes and businesses.

The 100-foot-high hillside is unlikely to liquefy and collapse suddenly like the March 22 landslide in Oso, Wash., that killed 39 people, a geologist said at a town meeting Friday. But large blocks of earth could tumble down one piece at a time, presenting a drawn-out threat to four homes on the hill and to two apartment buildings and four businesses below, said George Machan, a landslide specialist consulting for the town.

"Is it weeks, is it longer? I really don't know," Machan said. "I think it's really unpredictable how long it might take. I don't expect it to end in a day."

Geologists were still trying to fully understand the mechanics of the slide, he said.

On Friday morning, a crack that ran beneath one house vacant for the past year shifted downward several feet and split the structure in two, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported. Inside the home, floor planks have been coming apart and cabinets have been falling off the walls for the past two weeks. Three nearby homes also are in the high-risk zone.

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US puts off decision on contentious Keystone XL pipeline, likely until after Election Day

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is putting off its decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, likely until after the November elections, by extending its review of the controversial project indefinitely.

In a surprise announcement Friday as Washington was winding down for Easter, the State Department said federal agencies will have more time to weigh in on the politically fraught decision -- but declined to say how much longer. Officials said the decision will have to wait for the dust to settle in Nebraska, where a judge in February overturned a state law that allowed the pipeline's path through the state.

Nebraska's Supreme Court isn't expected to hear an appeal to that ruling until September or October, and there could be more legal maneuvering after the high court rules. So President Barack Obama will almost surely have until after the November congressional elections to make the final call about whether the pipeline carrying oil from Canada should be built.

Approving the pipeline before the election would rankle Obama's allies and donors in the environmental community, but nixing it could be politically damaging to vulnerable Democrats running this year in conservative-leaning areas.

"This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable," said Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who faces a difficult re-election in oil-rich Louisiana. Landrieu said Obama was signaling that a small minority can tie up the process in the courts, sacrificing 42,000 jobs and billions in economic activity.

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Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing 12 Sherpa, leaving 4 missing ahead of peak climb season

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving four missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. Several more were injured.

The Sherpa guides had gone to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche struck an area known as the "popcorn field" for its bulging chunks of ice at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp, where he was monitoring rescue efforts.

An injured survivor told his relatives the path up the mountain was unstable just before the avalanche struck at an elevation just below 21,000 feet (6,400 meters). As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help.

Rescue workers pulled out 12 bodies from under mounds of snow and ice and were searching for the four missing guides, Lamsal said. Officials had earlier said three were missing.

Four survivors were injured badly enough to require airlifting to a hospital in Katmandu. One arrived during the day, and three taken to the foothill town of Lukla could be evacuated Saturday. Others with less serious injuries were being treated at base camp.

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New documents from Clinton White House show parallels to Obama era

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Thousands of pages of documents from President Bill Clinton's White House affirm a longtime adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As Clinton prepared for an August 1994 news conference in which he hoped to build public support for his struggling -- and ultimately unsuccessful -- health care overhaul, he told his advisers: "A lot of them want to know they can keep their own plan if they like it." Later that fall, Clinton's Democrats were routed in midterm elections and lost control of Congress.

Nearly two decades later, President Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans about his own plan, which won approval in Congress in 2010, by telling them, "If you like your plan you can keep it." A spate of private policy cancellations forced Obama to recant his pledge that all Americans who liked their plans could simply keep them.

More than 8 million people have signed up for health insurance under the "Obamacare" law; how the overhaul is perceived could become a deciding point for the fate of Obama's fellow Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections.

About 7,500 pages of records released Friday through the National Archives and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., show the parallels between the Clinton era and the White House under Obama. The documents may also offer a glimpse into a future as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who led her husband's health care task force, considers another presidential campaign in 2016.

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APNewsBreak: Connecticut woman left vengeful note before killing 2 young grandsons and herself

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A woman who shot and killed her two young grandsons before committing suicide last year left a note to the boys' parents saying they did not deserve to have the children, according to a police report.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request, suggests a possible motive for the first time and sheds new light on her mental health problems: The grandmother, Debra Denison, had a history of conflict with the boys' mother and had attempted suicide a half dozen times before.

Denison, 47, picked up 2-year-old Alton Perry and 6-month-old Ashton Perry at a day care in North Stonington on Feb. 26, 2013, and was supposed to take them home for a birthday party but instead drove to a nearby lake where they were found shot to death after a frantic search.

In addition to a suicide note to her husband, Denison left a note addressed to the boys' parents, Jeremy and Brenda Perry. Denison was Brenda Perry's mother.

"The note stated among other things that Brenda and Jeremy did not deserve to have the children and Debra wanted them to feel the loss of a child," state police Detective David Lamoureux wrote in a report on Oct. 22.

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SpaceX making Easter morning delivery of space station supplies, Fri. launch after month delay

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- A SpaceX supply ship rocketed toward the International Space Station on Friday, setting the stage for an Easter morning delivery and urgent spacewalking repairs later in the week.

Following its midday launch through cloudy skies, the Dragon cargo carrier was shown drifting away in the blackness of space, against the blue backdrop of Earth.

It's transporting 2½ tons of goods, including a new spacesuit, spacesuit replacement parts, much-needed food, legs for NASA's humanoid, Robonaut, a bevy of mating flies, and germs gathered from sports arenas and historic sites across the U.S.

Neither NASA nor SpaceX packed any Easter goodies, but the families of the six astronauts sent private care packages.

"It will be a surprise for all of us when they open the hatch," said NASA's human exploration chief, Bill Gerstenmaier.

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Reports of an Amazon smartphone are rampant. Here are 5 features the device might offer.

NEW YORK (AP) -- A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

Amazon hasn't confirmed that it has plans for a smartphone. Introducing such a device would be tough in a crowded market dominated by Apple and Samsung. Even so, innovations like the Kindle Fire and Prime membership program demonstrate that the online retailing giant has a knack for using its massive size and marketing budget to capitalize on gaps in the marketplace.

Some unconfirmed reports say the phone could have a 3-D interface and multiple front-facing cameras.

Here's a look at five features technology experts believe Amazon might include on its smartphone.

1. 3-D shopping

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Red Wings beat Bruins 1-0 in playoff opener as Pavel Datsyuk scores with 3:01 left

BOSTON (AP) -- Pavel Datsyuk scored at 16:59 of the third period, moments after Jimmy Howard's best save of the game, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the top-seeded Boston Bruins 1-0 in the opener of their Eastern Conference playoff series Friday night.

The Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the regular season but were locked in a tight game in which neither team had many solid scoring opportunities.

The winning goal came when Datsyuk carried the puck from the right side to the left in Boston's zone and put a 30-footer from near the left circle past goalie Tuukka Rask's left glove.

Right before Datsyuk's 37th career playoff goal, Howard made a brilliant save when Jarome Iginla's shot from the right point was deflected by Milan Lucic in front of the net. But Howard knocked the puck aside with his glove.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series, the first playoff matchup between the Original Six teams in 57 years, is set for Sunday night in Boston.