Friday, April 25, 2014

Published:

G7 nations agree to 'move swiftly' to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States and other nations in the Group of Seven say they have agreed to "move swiftly" to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine.

In a joint statement released Friday night by the White House, the G-7 nations say they will act urgently to intensify "targeted sanctions." The statement says that the G-7 will also continue to prepare broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors if Moscow takes more aggressive action.

The White House says U.S. sanctions could be levied as early as Monday.

The G-7 nations say they are moving forward on the targeted sanctions now because of the urgency of securing plans for Ukraine to hold presidential elections next month.

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Lavrov accuses West of plotting to seize control of Ukraine, demands Kiev buildings be vacated

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) -- As top Ukrainians spoke of imminent invasion and the West threatened the Kremlin with more sanctions, Moscow said Friday that pro-Russian separatists would not lay down their arms in eastern Ukraine until activists relinquish control over key sites in Kiev.

The tough talk came as tensions heightened on the ground, with Russian fighter jets reported crossing into Ukrainian airspace and a team of unarmed foreign military observers detained by pro-Russian forces in Slovyansk, the heart of the separatist movement in the east.

With last week's Geneva agreement calling on all illegal armed groups to lay down their weapons and hand over occupied cities and facilities in tatters, both sides exchanged threats and warnings Friday.

Accusing the West of plotting to control Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that pro-Russia insurgents in the country's east would only disarm and leave the territory they have occupied if the Ukrainian government clears out a protest camp in Kiev's Independence Square, known as the Maidan, and evicts activists from other occupied facilities.

"The West wants -- and this is how it all began -- to seize control of Ukraine because of their own political ambitions, not in the interests of the Ukrainian people," Lavrov said.

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SKorea says it mismatched bodies from ferry disaster, vows changes; Obama offers condolences

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- As visiting President Barack Obama offered South Koreans his condolences Friday for the ferry disaster, the South Korean government conceded that some bodies have been misidentified and announced changes to prevent such mistakes from happening again.

There have been several reports in South Korean media this week of bodies going to the wrong families, with the error sometimes caught only after the remains were taken to a funeral home. An "action plan" released by the government-wide emergency task force acknowledged that "there have been cases where the victims were wrongly transferred."

Remains will be transferred to families when there is a match using DNA testing or fingerprint or dental records, the task force said. The transfer will be temporary when a body is matched though identification or physical description, and authorities will wait for more authoritative evidence before making the transfer permanent.

Divers have recovered 183 bodies so far, but 119 remain missing and are feared dead in the dark rooms of the submerged vessel.

Search officials including a navy spokesman and a diver said 35 of the ferry's 111 rooms have been searched so far, Yonhap news agency reported. They said 48 of the bodies recovered were found were in a single large room built to accommodate 38.

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31 killed at Iraq campaign rally for Shiite militant group ahead of key parliamentary election

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Suicide bombers killed 31 people Friday at a sports stadium hosting a campaign rally for thousands of supporters of a militant Shiite group before parliamentary elections, authorities said -- an attack that could unleash more sectarian violence.

An al-Qaida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, claimed responsibility for the attack at the Industrial Stadium in eastern Baghdad, which drew about 10,000 backers of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq group.

It said on a militant website that the bombings were to avenge what it called the killing of Sunnis and their forced removal from their homes by Shiite militias.

The authenticity of the claim could not be independently verified.

The attack was a stark reminder of the sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq more than two years after U.S. troops ended an eight-year presence that often served as a buffer between the nation's Shiite majority and its Sunni Arab minority.

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In South Korea, Obama stresses military, economic ties amid China's rise, North Korean threat

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- President Barack Obama warned North Korea on Saturday that the United States "will not hesitate to use our military might" to defend allies, showcasing U.S. power in the region amid China's growing influence and Pyongyang's unpredictable nuclear threats.

Obama's visit to Seoul comes as North Korea has threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test, leading Obama to raise the possibility of further sanctions.

"The commitment that the United States of America has made to the security of the Republic of Korea only grows stronger in the face of aggression," Obama said in a speech to some of the 28,000 American service members stationed in South Korea to keep watch on its northern neighbor. "Our alliance does not waiver with each bout of their attention seeking. It just gains the support of the rest of the world."

The website 38 North, which closely monitors North Korea, said commercial satellite imagery from Wednesday showed increased movement of vehicles and materials near what are believed to be the entrances to two completed tunnels at Punggye-ri nuclear test site. The movements could be preparations for an underground atomic explosion, although predicting underground tests is notoriously difficult.

Obama ridiculed North Korea's attempt to show force. "Anybody can make threats," he said. "Anyone can move an army. Anyone can show off a missile. That doesn't make you strong."

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Connecticut police investigate whether prom-date rejection led to fatal stabbing; teen charged

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A 16-year-old girl was stabbed to death inside a Connecticut high school Friday, and police were investigating whether a boy attacked her after she turned down an invitation to be his prom date.

Maren Sanchez was stabbed in a hallway of Jonathan Law High School in Milford, about an hour's drive from New York City, around 7:15 a.m. Staff members and paramedics performed life-saving measures on the girl, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital, police said.

The 16-year-old boy was charged with murder as a juvenile offender. Police said the suspect, whose name was not released, was being held Friday afternoon in police custody at a medical facility and could be charged later as an adult.

Imani Langston, who describes herself as one of Sanchez's best friends, said students were gathered in an auditorium when a teacher came and told them Sanchez had been stabbed.

"She basically just explained to us that Maren Sanchez got stabbed in the throat for saying no about going to prom" with the suspect, she said.

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Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates discuss gun rights, court NRA at annual meeting

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Several potential Republican presidential candidates courted gun-rights supporters Friday at the National Rifle Association's annual convention, talking up their pro-gun credentials while imploring the crowd to fight not just for their Second Amendment rights but for other freedoms they say are being threatened.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal addressed the NRA's annual leadership forum, a kind of political pep rally the organization considers one of its premier events. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire also recorded brief videos that were played for the crowd of more than 2,000 inside Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts.

One after another, the possible 2016 contenders thanked the NRA and its members for flexing their considerable political muscle to help push back recent gun-control efforts, including legislation following the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that would have required background checks for gun purchases. They said that same activism will be critical heading into elections this fall, in 2016 and beyond.

Jindal charged that Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both possible Democratic presidential candidates, think the Second Amendment is little more than "a phrase from a speech writer."

"If they had their way they'd simply cut and paste the Constitution and just get rid of the Second Amendment entirely," said Jindal, who approved several gun rights bills last year, including one that creates stiff penalties for those who knowingly publish the names of gun permit holders.

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Even before racial comments, Nevada rancher had limited sympathy in the West

BUNKERVILLE, Nev. (AP) -- For a while, in certain quarters, Cliven Bundy was celebrated as a John Wayne-like throwback to the Old West -- a weathered, plainspoken rancher just trying to graze his cattle and keep the government off his back. But that was before he started sounding more like a throwback to the Old South.

Conservative Republican politicians and commentators who once embraced Bundy for standing up to Washington are stampeding in the other direction -- and branding him a racist -- after he suggested that blacks might have had it better as slaves picking cotton.

The furor has made it apparent how limited Bundy's appeal ever was.

Bundy, 67, and his armed supporters thwarted an attempt by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management two weeks ago to seize his family's cattle over his failure to pay $1.1 million in grazing fees and penalties for the use of government land over the past 20 years. A local land-use dispute soon turned into a national debate, with conservatives calling it another example of big-government overreach.

But the rugged West that Bundy was said to represent has changed, becoming more urban and less concerned about federal intrusion than it was during the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion in the 1970s and '80s. In the urban areas that now dominate the West, there have been few stirrings of support for Bundy.

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Stowaway's mother tells Voice of America that until recently, her son had thought she was dead

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The mother of a California teenager who stowed away on a flight to Hawaii told Voice of America that her son had recently learned that she was alive after being told by his father she had died.

Speaking with VOA from a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia, mother Ubah Mohamed Abdullahi said she felt bad that her son risked his life and that her dream is to live with her children in the United States.

"''I cried, felt badly and many people in the refugee camp came to me to give me support," she said.

FBI agents say surveillance video shows the 15-year-old jumping out of the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet on a Maui tarmac Sunday after surviving a cross-Pacific flight from San Jose, California. He told authorities he had argued with his father before leaving his house.

The 5 ½-hour flight over the Pacific would have exposed him to sub-zero temperatures and very low temperatures, likely knocking him out for the duration. He has been hospitalized ever since.

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Dunleavy scores 35; Butler hits late 3-pointer as Bulls beat Wizards 100-97, trail series 2-1

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mike Dunleavy scored 35 points, one shy of his career-high, Jimmy Butler hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining, and the Chicago Bulls hung on Friday night for a 100-97 win over the Washington Wizards, trimming the deficit to 2-1 in their Eastern Conference first round series.

Dunleavy went 12 for 19 from the field, including a career-high eight 3-pointers on 10 attempts, for the Bulls, who are attempting to become only the fourth NBA team to win a seven-game series after losing the first two at home.

Game 4 is Sunday in Washington.

Bradley Beal scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Wizards.