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NEWS     THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014     NEWS

Many Voters Say Obama Lies To The Country On Important Matters
About six in ten American voters think Barack Obama lies to the country on important matters some or most of the time, according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday. Thirty-seven percent think Obama lies “most of the time,” while another 24 percent say he lies “some of the time.” Twenty percent of voters say “only now and then” and 15 percent “never.” President Obama has been accused by political opponents and media fact-checkers alike of telling falsehoods.  Frequently cited: His repeated claim that under Obamacare “If you like your plan, you can keep it” and his insistence that “the day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.” Fox News
VOA VIEW: Obama lies every time his lips move.

Obama's Departing Health Chief Mulls U.S. Senate Run
Departing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who took withering criticism over the botched rollout of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. Sebelius, a former Kansas governor, is weighing overtures from Democrats who want her to run for the Senate seat occupied by Republican Pat Roberts, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified Democrats. It quoted one person said to have spoken directly with Sebelius as saying that she was thinking about the idea, but it was too soon to say how serious she was about it. Sebelius, who announced her resignation last week, is staying on the job until her successor, White House budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, is confirmed by the Senate. Reuters

Obama Aims To Reinvigorate Asia Strategy
President Obama’s bid to focus U.S. attention on Asia has failed to meet the lofty expectations he set three years ago in a grand pronouncement that the new emphasis would become a pillar of his foreign policy. The result, as Obama prepares to travel to the region next week, has been a loss of confidence among some U.S. allies about the administration’s commitment at a time of escalating regional tensions. Relations between Japan and South Korea are at one of the lowest points since World War II, and China has provoked both with aggressive actions at sea despite a personal plea to Beijing from Vice President Biden in December. Washington Times

Oklahoma Gay-Marriage Case Before US Appeals Court
Lawyers for two Oklahoma women and the county clerk who would not give them a marriage license go before a federal appeals court with a familiar question for the judges: Did the state's voters single out gay people for unfair treatment when they defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman? The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard similar issues in a Utah case last week, giving Oklahoma lawyers a preview of what questions they might face. "Essentially, (the cases) are not that different," said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Byron Babione, who is representing Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith. "Both of them involve challenges to state marriage amendments that were passed by an overwhelming majority of the people." Houston Chronicle
VOA VIEW: The smartest move for pro gay marriages is to change the name to anything but marriage - "gayage" would be a good name - standing for gay pride
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Can Bloomberg's New Gun Control Group Take On The NRA?
A new gun-control organization founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will pour more than $50 million into promoting a "gun sense" agenda this year –- but it faces entrenched and well-funded groups that have long exerted a powerful influence on gun issues in America. Bloomberg's group, called Everytown for Gun Safety, is the largest single unified push for tighter restrictions yet organized by the billionaire and former politician who also founded the nationwide Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which spent about $1.7 million on lobbying efforts in 2013, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. MSNBC

Is Gulf Cleanup Over Or Not? BP And Coast Guard Differ.
On Tuesday night, BP said that the “active cleanup” of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had been brought “to a close.” Later Tuesday night, the Coast Guard said the response to the spill isn’t over yet, “not by a long shot.” The dueling news releases came out just before the fourth anniversary of the April 20, 2010, blowout on BP’s Macondo well. The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig caught fire and sank, 11 workers were killed and more than 4 million barrels of crude spilled into the gulf. BP, which has vowed to “make things right,” said it issued its press release because the Coast Guard ended “patrols and operations” along the final three miles of Louisiana shoreline, capping a four-year effort that BP said cost more than $14 billion. Washington Times

The US Is Not A Democracy But An Oligarchy, Study Concludes
Oligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population. A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful.
"Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" analyzed extensive data, comparing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted between 1981 and 2002 with the expressed preferences of average and affluent Americans as well as special interest groups. UPI
VOA VIEW: If the rich and powerful were in actual control, there would not be as many freeloaders and as much government control.

Easter Lilies Toxic For Cats, FDA Warns
Easter lilies are popular in homes at this time of year, but they can be deadly for cats, a veterinarian warns. The same is true for Tiger, Asiatic, Day and Japanese Show lilies, said Dr. Melanie McLean, a veterinarian at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The entire lily plant -- leaf, pollen and flower -- is poisonous for cats. Eating just a couple of leaves or licking a few pollen grains off their fur can quickly cause kidney failure. A cat that's eaten part of a lily will vomit soon afterwards, but this may gradually lessen after two to four hours. Within 12 to 24 hours, the cat may start to urinate frequently. Urination may then stop if kidney failure occurs. If untreated, a cat will die within four to seven days after eating a lily, McLean said. CBS

Lawyers Who Cleared Christie Donated To RGA Before Report Released
The law firm that wrote the Chris Christie-sponsored report clearing the governor of any wrongdoing in the New Jersey bridge scandal made a sizable donation to the Republican Governors Association, which Christie heads, days before the report’s release. The law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher donated $10,000 to the RGA nine days before it released a report – paid for by New Jersey taxpayers – blaming September’s  lane closures to the George Washington Bridge solely on aides and allies and pinned no responsibility on the governor, as reported today in  The Record of North Jersey. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher lawyers were paid $650 per hour for their work examining documents surrounding the lane closure that led to their report released March 24.  The law firm made its donation to the RGA March 18, according to tax records. ABC

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Kim Jong Un's "Bad Hair Day" Sparks A Diplomatic To-Do
North Korea has made a diplomatic appeal to the British government to get a London salon out of its hair. The country's diplomats have complained to the Foreign Office about a hairdressing salon that put up a poster poking fun at distinctively coiffed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Foreign Office confirmed Wednesday it had received a letter from the North Korean embassy objecting to the poster, and was considering its response. The Evening Standard newspaper reported the letter urged Britain to take "necessary action to stop the provocation." CBS

Some Exempted From Minimum Wage, Increased Or Not
Some low-paid workers won't benefit even if a long-shot Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum wage becomes law. More than a dozen categories of jobs are exempt from the minimum, currently $7.25 an hour. Those exclusions, rooted in labor law history, run from some workers with disabilities to crews on fishing ships to casual baby sitters. Legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, would gradually raise the minimum to $10.10 by 2016. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it would mean higher earnings for 16.5 million workers -- but also would cost 500,000 others their jobs. Harkin's measure wouldn't eliminate exemptions, including for live-in companions for the elderly, staffs of state and local elected officials and jobs at summer camps and seasonal amusement parks. Seattle Times

Defend 'Obamacare' Unabashedly, Some Democrats Say
With enrollments higher than expected, and costs lower, some Democrats say it's time to stop hiding from the president's health care overhaul, even in this year's toughest Senate elections. Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace "Obamacare," the GOP's favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and a number of strategists elsewhere hope it will spread. 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, the CBO said the new law will cost taxpayers $100 billion less than previously estimated. Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: Dumb political idea.

Yahoo's de Castro Got $58M For 15 Months On Job
Henrique de Castro's 15 months as Yahoo's chief operating officer may have ended on a sour note, but it was sweetened by a severance package valued at nearly $58 million. All but about $1 million of de Castro's severance was based in the value of his equity award in Yahoo, which began appreciating after former Google colleague Marissa Mayer joined the company in July 2012. Last month, shareholders filed suit against Yahoo directors and de Castro, alleging that the board wasted corporate assets and breached its fiduciary duty by failing to understand how much compensation de Castro was entitled to. The company says in its preliminary proxy that it will file a motion to dismiss the case. In defense of de Castro's hiring and sign-on package, Yahoo said in Wednesday's filing that its board believed he "had a unique set of highly valuable skills and experiences that would be key to returning the company to long-term growth as success." USA Today

Obama Counsels Students On Options To A 4-Year Degree
It would be a cultural shift, but the Obama administration is hoping to change the perception of two- and four-year universities and what is needed for success. Through two new skills-training programs, utilizing grant money announced in 2010, the administration is encouraging a competition to foster courses developed by industry at the community college level and an apprentice job scholarship program. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden appeared at a community college in Pittsburgh today to announce $500 million in grant funding for community college job-training programs and $100 million in funding for apprenticeship grants. ABC

Yellen’s Mind-The-Gap Goals Rule Says Rates Stay Low
For Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, monetary policy now is all about a simple rule familiar to any subway rider: Mind the gap. In her first major speech on her policy framework as Fed chair, Yellen said U.S. central bankers must be mindful of how short the Fed is of its goals of full employment and price stability. “The larger the shortfall of employment or inflation from their respective objectives, and the slower the projected progress toward those objectives, the longer the current target range for the federal funds rate is likely to be maintained,” Yellen said today to the Economic Club of New York. Bloomberg

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GM Move To Freeze Lawsuits May Cut Customer Payouts By Billions
General Motors Co. (GM)’s move to freeze ignition-defect lawsuits in California and Texas has solid legal precedent behind it and could help slash customer demands for compensation by billions of dollars. GM asked federal judges in both states last week to delay litigation over the defect in several of its models until a U.S. bankruptcy judge in New York rules whether some accident victims’ claims can be brought without violating a sale order in its 2009 reorganization. The aggressive legal strategy runs the risk of further damaging GM’s image with lawmakers and the public. Offsetting that impact is GM’s customer-focused hiring of lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to advise on how to compensate people who had accidents in recalled Cobalts, Saturns and other GM models. Feinberg ran funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Bloomberg

Curious About Palestine, Israeli Visitors Return
This bustling center of Palestinian life is just a 20-minute drive from Jerusalem, but for Israelis it might as well be on the other side of the world. Since a major round of Israeli-Palestinian fighting more than a decade ago, Israelis have been kept out of Palestinian cities by the Israeli military and their own fears. But after several years of relative calm, a few have begun trickling back in tours led by Palestinian guides and guarded by plainclothes Palestinian security agents. About two dozen visitors, Israelis and a few foreigners, visited the mausoleum of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and a shrine to national poet Mahmoud Darwish — though hopes of talking to local residents went unfulfilled. Kansas City Star

Amazon To Start Charging Sales Tax In Florida
Internet giant Amazon.com will start to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Floridians starting May 1. For Floridians who are supposed to pay the taxes but haven’t, the announcement of Amazon’s entry into the state’s brick-and-mortar retail landscape could mean about $80 million a year in sales taxes, according to one business lobbying group. Ty Rogers, a spokesman for the Seattle-based retailer, responded simply in an email on Wednesday that “Amazon will be required to collect sales tax in Florida beginning on May 1.” The announcement isn’t unexpected as the company is building a pair of massive “fulfillment” centers along the Interstate 4 corridor. Miami Herald

Court To Decide If Political Candidates Can Face Prosecution For Lying
As political campaigns begin to heat up, the Supreme Court is deciding whether false accusations and mudslinging made during an election can be punished as a crime.
Addressing an issue of negative campaigning that now may be a fact of life in American politics, justices will consider a challenge to an Ohio law that bars false statements about political candidates. The case being heard next week has attracted national attention, with least 15 other states having similar laws. Groups across the political spectrum are criticizing the law as a restriction on the First Amendment right to free speech. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Making false statements against anyone should be punishable as slander.

A Year After Background Check Defeat, Modest Goals
Democratic worries about this November's elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama's effort to pass new curbs on firearms. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently said he needs additional votes before revisiting a proposed expansion of gun sale background checks that the Senate derailed last April. That has left advocates of tighter gun curbs hoping Reid will allow votes on more modest proposals, such as one by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to add convicted stalkers to the list of criminals barred from acquiring guns. Las Vegas Sun

Number Of Uninsured In States Embracing Obamacare Drops Significantly
The number of uninsured people has dropped 2.5 percentage points in states fully embracing the Affordable Care Act, according to Gallup. 21 states, including the District of Columbia, have expanded Medicaid and set up their own health insurance marketplace, resulting in a significant decline in the number of uninsured people aged 18 and older. These states had an uninsured rate of 16.1 percent that dropped to 13.6 percent -- a 2.5 percentage point drop. The other 29 states had an uninsured rate of 18.7 percent -- a difference of 2.6 percentage points from the remaining states -- which dropped marginally to 17.9 percent, though still maintaining a difference of 4.3 points. These 29 states have either implemented one of the two measures, or have completely boycotted the Affordable Care Act. UPI

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Census Changes May Obscure Impact Of ObamaCare
Not even the nation's official head-counter will be able to keep track of the comprehensive impact of ObamaCare, critics warn. The Census Bureau is in the midst of significantly changing its survey questions on health care, which some fear will make it difficult to give an accurate reading of how many people have gained insurance under the law. The change was first reported by The New York Times. Republicans are now accusing the administration of overhauling the survey in order to obscure the effects of the Affordable Care Act. "If the administration truly wants to know how many people have insurance today because of the health law, it will swiftly reverse course," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement. Fox News

Obama Praises Biden, But Doesn't Endorse For 2016
President Barack Obama is keeping to himself his favorite to succeed him in the White House. But Obama does say that Joe Biden "will go down as one of the finest vice presidents in history." He didn't endorse Biden in his interview with CBS News. Biden is saying once again that he hasn't decided whether to run. He says the mounting speculation shouldn't be a problem. Biden says, quote, "There is nothing I would do differently if I absolutely knew I wasn't going to run or I absolutely knew I was." Obama said there will be tough competition for the Democratic Party nomination in 2016 and cited an "extraordinary secretary of state." He was referring to Hillary Rodham Clinton, without invoking her name. Clinton hasn't said if she'll run. SF Gate

Putin Hopes No Need To Send Troops Into Ukraine
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but recognized for the first time that the troops in unmarked uniforms who had overtaken Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula before its annexation by Moscow were Russian soldiers. He expressed hope for a political and diplomatic solution of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, saying he hopes that he won’t have to send Russian troops into eastern Ukraine, which has been engulfed by violent protests against the new authorities in Kiev. Speaking in a televised call-in show with the nation, Putin harshly criticized the West for trying to pull Ukraine into its orbit and said that people in eastern Ukraine have risen against the authorities in Kiev, who ignored their rights and legitimate demands. Detroit News
VOA VIEW: Putin will do the opposite of what he is saying unless strong measures are taken against him.

Chelsea Clinton: I Might Run For Office Someday
Chelsea Clinton says she's happy right now with her elected representatives - but might come for their jobs if that changes. Clinton, 34, daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, told Fast Company that she has always denied any interest in running for office. "The answer was just a visceral no," she said. "Not because I had made any conscientious, deliberate decision, but since people had been asking for as long as literally I could remember, it was no." Besides, said Clinton, a Manhattan resident, "I live in a city and a state and a country where I support my elected representatives." Philadelphia Inquirer

Brain Patient: ObamaCare Makes It Hard To Find Doctors, Meds
After four brain operations, Margaret Figueroa thought she was prepared for anything — until she ran into ObamaCare. “I’m frustrated with the system. I feel like I paid but I’m not getting what I paid for,” said Figueroa, 49, who broke down in tears while explaining her bureaucratic nightmare. “It’s scary because this is America. I didn’t expect to go through this.” Figueroa — who has a neurological disorder — said she enrolled in a new EmblemHealth insurance program in February as required under the Affordable Care Act. And that’s when her problems began. NY Post

Atlanta Braves Change Policy On Guns In Stadium
The Atlanta Braves will no longer allow some off-duty police officers to carry guns at Turner Field, which has prompted objections. Under the team's new policy, off-duty officers from jurisdictions that don't include Turner Field will no longer be allowed to bring firearms into the stadium. Tyrone Police Chief Brandon Perkins tells WSB-TV (http://bit.ly/1m9xybQ) that the policy change will make the ball games less safe, adding that "armed good guys stop armed bad guys." Jerry Henry, of the gun owner advocacy group Georgiacarry.org, called the new policy ridiculous. The Braves said off-duty officers from departments in the stadium's jurisdiction, such as Atlanta police officers and Fulton County sheriff's deputies, may still bring weapons to games if they register them first with Atlanta police. Atlanta Journal
VOA VIEW: Not a smart move.

Little Government Response To Bombing A Year Later
A year after homemade bombs ripped through the Boston Marathon, state and federal officials have enacted virtually no policy changes in response to the attack, a dramatic departure from previous acts of terrorism that prompted waves of government action. "There was a great deal of concern right after this happened," said Rep. William Keating, a Massachusetts Democrat. "Now, people are focused on so many different issues." Washington's formal response to the attack has been limited to a series of investigations and reports that call for improved cooperation between the federal government and local law enforcement. Charlotte Observer

Oil Price Flat As Supplies Offfset Ukraine Jitters
Oil flat-lined Thursday as the upheaval in Ukraine continued to cancel out a big increase in U.S. oil supplies. Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was up 1 cent at $103.77 a barrel at 0910 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 1 cent Wednesday to $103.76. There is no oil trading on Good Friday, one of only three days a year in which oil is not traded either electronically or through open outcry. Oil trading was hemmed in Thursday by opposing influences. San Diego Union

Brain Scans May Predict If Patients Will Wake Up
It can be one of the most difficult diagnoses for a doctor to make: whether a brain-damaged patient is in a permanent vegetative state and will never wake up, or if he is in a minimally conscious state and may one day recover. In fact, for patients with significant swelling in the brain, a doctor's outcome prediction is currently "a little better than flipping a coin," researchers Jamie Sleigh and Catherine Warnaby write in The Lancet this week. However, a new study published with their editorial suggests that some types of brain imaging could make an accurate diagnosis much more likely. CNN

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Obama, Biden Announce $600M For Job Grants
Urging the U.S. to keep up in the global skills race, President Barack Obama on Wednesday highlighted $600 million in new job-training grants that he said could help people land well-paying jobs. Obama joined Vice President Joe Biden and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at a community college in western Pennsylvania, where the president declared that anyone willing to put in the effort should have opportunities and job training available to them. He said manufacturing jobs are coming back in the U.S., but the nation must make a choice about whether it's willing to do what's necessary to train its workforce for those jobs. "We sometimes sound like a broken record because we've been talking about this for six, seven, eight years, ever since we've been in public office," Obama said. "But it's more urgent than ever now that we move forward." CNS News

U.S. Court: Companies Can't Litigate Secretly To Protect Image
In a victory for consumers, a federal appeals court on Wednesday directed that litigation about a product linked to the death of an infant be made public, saying the manufacturer could not keep the details secret to protect its image. Overturning a lower court's findings, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said allowing the manufacturer known in court papers as Company Doe to maintain confidentiality "effectively shut out" the public and the press from their constitutional right to obtain access to civil proceedings. "A corporation very well may desire that the allegations lodged against it in the court of litigation be kept from public view to protect its corporate image, but the First Amendment right of access does not yield to such an interest," Circuit Judge Henry Floyd wrote for the appeals court. Reuters

Cantor Blasts Obama After Immigration Reform Call
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says that he and President Barack Obama clashed Wednesday during a phone conversation about immigration reform. One year after the Senate introduced its comprehensive immigration bill, which passed the upper chamber but has not been taken up by the GOP-led House, Obama issued a written statement criticizing Republican leaders for failing to take up the legislation. “We have a chance to strengthen our country while upholding our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote,” he said. Then Obama called Cantor, who blasted out a statement making clear that he was no fan of Obama’s message. MSNBC

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Feel Good Wednesday: Markets Up 1%
Investors did a happy dance on Wednesday as earnings, economic data and Janet Yellen brought good news. The Dow soared 162 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both bounced over 1%. Despite a lot of choppiness in the markets in recent weeks, Wednesday's gains marked the third consecutive win for the three major U.S. indexes. Federal Reserve Chief Yellen sent a clear message to Wall Street today to stop panicking about interest rates. "Interest rates will likely stay at current levels for a considerable time after asset purchase program ends," she said. CNN

Goodbye, Afghanistan — Hello, Africa: Air Force To Shift As U.S. Exits Middle East
As the war in Afghanistan begins to wind down, the Air Force foresees its resources shifting to Africa. Col. Kelly Passmore of the 449th Air Expeditionary Group commander at Camp Lemonnier said he believes it’s already happening. “Our presence here in Djibouti is enduring and I think it is growing,” Col. Passmore told Stars and Stripes. “As DOD has capacity that is freed up from our transition out of Afghanistan, it gives us forces that are able to now focus on this region.” Washington Times

Hillary Clinton Struggles To Define A Legacy In Progress
It was a simple question to someone accustomed to much tougher ones: What was her proudest achievement as secretary of state? But for a moment, Hillary Rodham Clinton, appearing recently before a friendly audience at a women’s forum in Manhattan, seemed flustered. Mrs. Clinton played an energetic role in virtually every foreign policy issue of President Obama’s first term, advocating generally hawkish views internally while using her celebrity to try to restore America’s global standing after the hit it took during the George W. Bush administration. But her halting answer suggests a problem that Mrs. Clinton could confront as she recounts her record in Mr. Obama’s cabinet before a possible run for president in 2016: Much of what she labored over so conscientiously is either unfinished business or has gone awry in his second term. NY Times

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Iran On Target With Interim Nuclear Deal: Cuts High-Grade Uranium Stockpile In Half
Iran has diluted half of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium in observance with an agreement forged last fall with the international community, a UN report will confirm this week. That level of dilution amounts to a significant step in Western efforts to peacefully curb Iran's nuclear program, as enriching uranium to 20 percent constitutes the hardest part of the process toward the production of nuclear bombs. In exchange, world powers are abiding by their side of the deal, releasing the fifth of eight tranches of funds this week, providing modest sanctions relief on the Islamic Republic. Jerusalem Post

At White House Seder, Obama Sends Out Message Of Triumph Over Anti-Semitism
US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a Passover Seder at the White House on Tuesday, with the president saying that Americans are united against the terrible violence perpetrated by a gunman against Jewish targets in Kansas. In a special Passover message, Obama said that his prayers went out to the people of Overland Park in Kansas, and the family and friends of the three innocent people killed when a gunman, just one day before Passover, opened fire at a Jewish community center and retirement home. “As Americans, we will continue to stand united against this kind of terrible violence, which has no place in our society,” he said. “We will continue to come together across faiths to combat the ignorance and intolerance, including anti-Semitism, that can lead to hatred and violence. Jerusalem Post

Middle East Peace Talks Meeting Postponed After Killing
A meeting between Palestinian and Israeli peace negotiators has been postponed in the wake of a killing of an Israeli in the West Bank. A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said it had been rescheduled for Thursday. Israeli officials declined to give a reason, but the shooting of an off-duty policeman on Monday has caused outrage. The US has been struggling to persuade both sides to agree extend their direct talks beyond a 29 April deadline. The negotiations, which resumed last July after a three-year hiatus, appeared on the verge of collapse earlier this month when both sides took what Washington called "unhelpful steps". BBC

Bank Of America Reports $276m Loss After $6bn Legal Hit
Bank of America has posted a $276m (£165m) loss for January to March. Its results included $6bn in legal expenses to settle allegations that it misled mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the housing crisis in 2008, as well as for other mortgage-related matters. Revenue declined 3% compared with the first quarter of 2013, to $22.7bn. Nevertheless, the bank said it had "solid results" and that costs from its mortgage loans business fell by $1bn. In March, the firm agreed to pay $9.5bn (£5.7bn) to settle four lawsuits filed in 2011 by US regulatory agency, the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA). BBC

Kiev's Grip On Eastern Ukraine Weakens As Pro-Russians Seize Army Vehicles
For Kiev's beleaguered army it was meant to be a display of strength. Early on Wednesday a column of six armoured personnel carriers trundled through the town of Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine. Some 24 hours earlier Ukrainian soldiers had recaptured a small disused aerodrome. Their next target appeared to be Slavyansk, the neighbouring town, occupied by a shadowy Russian militia. Was victory close? The column didn't get far. At Kramatorsk's railway junction, next to an open-air market and a shop selling building materials, an angry crowd caught up with it. Next armed separatists dressed in military fatigues turned up too. Within minutes the Ukrainian soldiers gave up. Without a shot being fired they abandoned their vehicles. The pro-Russian gunmen grabbed them. They raised a Russian tricolour. They sat on top and went for a victory spin. Guardian

Pope Francis Urged To Back Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign
Religious groups have urged Pope Francis to back a campaign to encourage millions of people, organisations and investors to pull their money out of the fossil fuel industry. Multi-faith groups in Australia and North America have sent a letter to the pope saying it is "immoral" to profit from fossil fuels. The letter, shown exclusively to the Guardian, says 80% of global fossil fuel reserves must "stay in the ground" if dangerous climate change is to be avoided. "We urge you, as a person held in high esteem by many millions around the world, to speak clearly about the place of divestment from fossil fuels as one significant means to avert the worst of climate disruption," the letter says. Guardian

David Cameron Puts God Back Into Politics
Britain should be unashamedly “evangelical” about its Christian faith and actively hand churches and other faith groups a greater role in society, David Cameron has insisted. In a declaration of his personal beliefs, he said he had experienced the “healing power” of religion in his own life and insisted that Christianity could transform the “spiritual, physical, and moral” state of Britain and even the world. Writing in the Church Times, the Anglican newspaper, he heaped praise on the Church of England and described the UK as a “Christian country” despite saying we live in an increasingly “secular age”. Telegraph

Rwandan Genocide: Security Council Told Failure Of Political Will Led To ‘Cascade Of Human Tragedy’
The Security Council today marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide by calling on all countries to recommit to prevent and fight such serious crimes, as a senior United Nations official warned that many of today’s conflicts reveal that protection of populations from atrocities remains “lagging and elusive.” Unanimously adopting a new resolution during a special meeting devoted to commemorating what UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson referred to as “one of the darkest chapters in human history,” the Council underscored the importance of taking into account the lessons learned from those tragic 100 days in 1994, when genocide was committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed. UN News

Ahead Of Sendai Conference, Ban Pushes For 2015 Global Agreement On Disaster Risk
Disaster risk reduction and climate change are closely linked, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed, reiterating to the world community his key priorities through the next year as preparations continue for the 2015 world conference on reducing risk from natural disasters. “The aim is simple: to leave a more resilient world to future generations,” Mr. Ban told high-level representatives of Member States attending a briefing on the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held next year in the Japanese city of Sendai. UN News

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