- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

Ukraine struggles as east slips out of its control, seeks UN peace-keeping support

HORLIVKA, Ukraine (AP) - The fuel is local, but the matches are Russian. That in a nutshell is how the insurgency threatening the survival of Ukraine as a unified state is increasingly unfolding.

Over the past 10 days, more than a dozen government offices in eastern Ukraine have been taken over by pro-Russian forces, with most of the seizures following the same pattern. Aggressive gangs, sometimes carrying firearms and wearing military fatigues, storm the buildings. The Ukrainian flag is replaced with a Russian one. Then local men move in to hold them.

Those capturing the buildings insist they are carrying out the will of the people and have demanded a referendum on autonomy for the eastern Donetsk region. Relatively small numbers have hit the streets in support, however, and it is increasingly evident the purported uprising is far from spontaneous and is being carried out with unerring coordination.

Russia has tens of thousands of troops massed along Ukraine’s eastern border. Western governments accuse Moscow of fueling the unrest and worry that the specter of bloodshed could be used as a pretext for a Russian invasion, in a repeat of events in Crimea a few weeks ago.

The Ukrainian government’s inability to quash the pro-Russian insurgency was highlighted by acting President Oleksandr Turchynov’s call Monday for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of his country. He said the presence of Russian meddling was clear in the unrest gripping his country.

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Putin urges Obama to discourage Ukraine from using force against protesters

MOSCOW (AP) - The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin has urged President Barack Obama to discourage the Ukrainian government from using force against protesters in the country’s east.

The Kremlin said in a statement following Monday’s conversation that the Russian leader rejected the claims of Russian agents’ involvement in protests as “speculations based on unreliable information.” Putin said the protests vented public anger about the Ukrainian government’s reluctance to recognize the interests of Russian speakers in the east.

More than a dozen government offices and police stations have been seized by mobs. The Ukrainian government and the West have accused Russia of staging the protests.

The Ukrainian authorities have pledged to dislodge protesters. The Kremlin said Putin urged Obama to use American influence in Ukraine to prevent the use of force and bloodshed.

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Suspect in Kansas shootings had long history of white-supremacist activity but no violence

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - Never one to keep his hatred to himself, Frazier Glenn Cross for decades sought out any soapbox to espouse his white-supremacist beliefs, twice running for federal office with campaigns steeped in anti-Semitism.

Yet there’s scant evidence the Army veteran and retired trucker with Ku Klux Klan links ever resorted to violence before Sunday, when authorities say he opened fire with a shotgun and pistol outside a Jewish community center and retirement complex near Kansas City. None of the three people killed turned out to be Jewish.

The 73-year-old Cross, who shouted a Nazi slogan at television cameras when arrested minutes later, has been jailed awaiting charges that investigators said could come as early as Tuesday. At some point, a federal grand jury is expected to review the slayings, which authorities now deem a hate crime.

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said the victims “happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time” and had “a firsthand encounter with evil.”

The FBI and police have not offered any public explanation for what triggered Sunday’s deadly outburst in Overland Park on the eve of the Jewish festival of Passover. While the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies were familiar with Cross, Sunday’s gunfire was “very random,” the FBI’s Michael Kaste said.

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Blast at bus station in Nigeria capital kills 72 people; President blames Islamic extremists

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) - Suspected Islamic militants struck in the heart of Nigeria on Monday with a massive rush-hour bomb blast at a bus station that killed at least 72 people and wounded 164 in the deadliest attack ever on the nation’s capital.

Survivors screamed in anguish and the stench of burning fuel and flesh hung over the area, where billows of black smoke rose as firefighters worked to put out the fires. Rescue workers and police gathered body parts as ambulances rushed the wounded to hospitals.

Visiting the blast scene, President Goodluck Jonathan blamed Boko Haram, the homegrown terrorist network that has targeted schools, churches, mosques, villages and government facilities, killing thousands in its five-year campaign to make Nigeria an Islamic state.

Authorities said at least 72 people were killed and 164 wounded, though the death toll was sure to climb because it did not include victims whose bodies were dismembered, the health ministry said. It was the deadliest attack yet in Abuja, the centrally located capital that is hundreds of miles from Boko Haram’s stronghold in Nigeria’s northeast.

“I can’t count the number of people that died. They took them in open vehicles. People were running and there was confusion,” said civil servant Ben Nwachukwu.

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Authorities: Utah woman admitted strangling, suffocating her 6 newborn babies

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (AP) - Megan Huntsman was clear about what she did with six of her newborn babies.

Huntsman, 39, told police she either strangled or suffocated them immediately after they were born. She wrapped their bodies in a towel or a shirt, put them in plastic bags and then packed them inside boxes in the garage of her home south of Salt Lake City.

What’s not clear is why. A day after her arrest on charges of killing her six babies, investigators and her neighbors puzzled over the grisly discovery, including how she could have concealed a half-dozen pregnancies over a 10-year period.

“How can you have a baby and not have evidence and other people know?” asked neighbor SanDee Wall. “You can’t plan when a baby is going to come. Just the thought of somebody putting a baby into a box is a heartbreaker.”

Huntsman, who was arrested Sunday on six counts of murder, was ordered held on $6 million bail - $1 million for each baby. The remains of a seventh baby police found appears to have been stillborn, authorities said.

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April 15 not much of a deadline for most taxpayers; late penalties don’t apply to refunds

WASHINGTON (AP) - The calendar shows April 15, and you haven’t even started on your federal tax return? Chances are, you don’t need to fret.

If you’re due a refund - and about three-fourths of filers get refunds - April 15 isn’t much of a deadline at all.

The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t like to talk about it, but penalties for filing late federal tax returns apply only to people who owe money. The penalty is a percentage of what you owe. If you owe nothing, 5 percent of nothing is …nothing!

But it doesn’t make much sense to file late. If you are owed a refund, why wouldn’t you want it as soon as possible? And if you have unpaid taxes, the late fees add up quickly.

“Most people with refunds are filing early in January, February and March because they’d like the refund early,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “So we don’t see an incentive and we don’t see much experience of people waiting later for us to keep the money longer.”

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Post, Guardian win Pulitzers for NSA revelations; Boston Globe honored in breaking news

NEW YORK (AP) - The Washington Post and The Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize in public service Monday for revealing the U.S. government’s sweeping surveillance programs in a blockbuster series of stories based on secret documents supplied by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

The Pulitzer for breaking news was awarded to The Boston Globe for its “exhaustive and empathetic” coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt that followed.

Two of the nation’s biggest and most distinguished newspapers, The Post and The New York Times, won two Pulitzers each, while the other awards were scattered among a variety of publications large and small.

The stories about the National Security Agency’s spy programs revealed that the government has systematically collected information about millions of Americans’ phone calls and emails in its effort to head off terrorist attacks. The resulting furor led President Barack Obama to impose limits on the surveillance.

The reporting “helped stimulate the very important discussion about the balance between privacy and security, and that discussion is still going on,” Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes.

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Hungry spouse, angry spouse? Study with voodoo dolls ties marital discord to low blood sugar

WASHINGTON (AP) - A quick candy bar may stave off more than hunger. It could prevent major fights between husbands and wives, at least if a new study that used voodoo dolls is right.

That’s because low blood sugar can make spouses touchy, researchers propose.

In fact, it can make them “hangry,” a combination of hungry and angry, said Ohio State University psychology researcher Brad Bushman.

“We need glucose for self-control,” said Bushman, lead author of the study, which was released Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Anger is the emotion that most people have difficulty controlling.”

The researchers studied 107 married couples for three weeks. Each night, they measured their levels of the blood sugar glucose and asked each participant to stick pins in a voodoo doll representing his or her spouse. That indicated levels of aggressive feelings.

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Medical marijuana measure in Florida a key test of pot’s political potency for Democrats

MIAMI (AP) - Tied to an unpopular president and his signature health care law, Democrats in the nation’s largest swing state see medical marijuana as a potential antidote to political malaise in this year’s midterm elections.

Party operatives are pushing a constitutional amendment that would make Florida the first state in the South to legalize some pot use. Polls show the measure has widespread public support, and it’s particularly popular among young voters - a critical part of the Democratic coalition with historically weak turnout in non-presidential election years.

“I wish that it didn’t take medical marijuana on the ballot to motivate our young voters,” said Ana Cruz, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. “But listen, we’ll take it any way we can get it.”

Activists are also gathering signatures for medical marijuana initiatives in Arkansas, where Democrats are fighting to retain the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat, and Ohio, where the party is trying to oust GOP Gov. John Kasich. But those petition drives face significant organizational hurdles.

The political world likely will be focused on Florida in November for clues about the turnout potential among young voters of pot on the ballot. At stake is the governor’s office, as well as a handful of competitive House seats.

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Michael Phelps coming out of retirement; Olympic great to swim in 1st meet since 2012 Games

Michael Phelps is coming out of retirement, lured back into the pool by the fun of it and the possibility of swimming at a fifth Olympics in Rio in 2016.

The 22-time Olympic medalist will compete for the first time since the 2012 London Games at a meet in Mesa, Ariz., on April 24-26.

Bob Bowman, the swimmer’s longtime coach, told The Associated Press on Monday that Phelps is entered in three events - the 50- and 100-meter freestyles and the 100 butterfly.

“I think he’s just going to test the waters a little bit and see how it goes,” Bowman said by phone from Baltimore. “I wouldn’t say it’s a full-fledged comeback.”

Phelps returned to training last fall and re-entered the U.S. drug-testing program. He has completed his six-month waiting period by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to be eligible for competition.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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