- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

Italy searches by sea, air for 700 migrants believed lost in Mediterranean north of Libya

ROME (AP) - Emergency services mounted a major search and rescue operation Sunday north of Libya after a ship containing hundreds of migrants trying to reach Italy capsized in the Mediterranean.

Italy’s ANSA news agency said an estimated 700 people were aboard and only 28 people had been rescued.

Barbara Molinario, spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency, said the Italian Coast Guard operation is continuing and the number of victims is not known.

“It’s clear that a boat overturned and there are people missing, but on numbers (dead or alive) it’s too soon to tell,” she said.

The capsizing comes amid a wave of migrants trying to leave Libya for Italian shores. They seek to take advantage of calmer seas and warm weather to make the dangerous crossing on smugglers’ boats.

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World finance leaders see threats ahead for global economy, especially a Greek debt default

WASHINGTON (AP) - The world’s financial leaders see a number of threats facing a global economy still on an uneven road to recovery with U.S. and European officials worrying that Greece will default on its debt.

The finance ministers and central bank governors ended three days of meetings in Washington determined to work toward “a more robust, balanced and job-rich economy” while admitting there are risks in reaching that objective, the steering committee of the International Monetary Fund said in its communique Saturday.

Seeking to resolve Athens’ debt crisis, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis held a series of talks with other finance officials on the sidelines of the meetings. The focus now shifts to Riga, Latvia, where European Union finance ministers meet next week.

The head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, said it was “urgent” to resolve the current dispute between Greece and its creditors. He said that while the international finance system had been strengthened since the 2008 crisis, a Greek default would still put the global economy into “unchartered waters” with its effect hard to estimate.

Draghi told reporters he did not want to even contemplate the chance of a Greek default on its debt. But French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said he thought any damage would be confined to Greece because euro zone countries had established measures to protect themselves from any spillover effects.

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For Reagan shooter, it’s not yet welcome home in Williamsburg; Hinckley struggles to integrate

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) - The last man to shoot an American president now spends most of the year in a house overlooking the 13th hole of a golf course in a gated community.

He takes long walks along tree-lined paths, plays guitar and paints, grabs fast food at Wendy’s. He drives around town in a silver Toyota Avalon, a car that wouldn’t attract a second glance. Often, as if to avoid detection, he puts on a hat or visor before going out.

These days, John Hinckley Jr. lives much of the year like any average Joe: shopping, eating out, watching movies at a local Regal Cinemas.

Hinckley was just 25 when he shot President Ronald Reagan and three others in 1981, and when jurors found him not guilty by reason of insanity they said he needed treatment, not a lifetime in confinement. The verdict left open the possibility that he would one day live outside a mental hospital.

For the past year, under a judge’s order, Hinckley has spent 17 days a month at his mother’s home in Williamsburg, a small southeastern Virginia city known for its colonial roots. Freedom has come in stages and with strict requirements: meeting regularly while in town with both a psychiatrist and a therapist, getting a volunteer job. It has all been part of a lengthy process meant to reintegrate Hinckley, now nearing 60, back into society.

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Q&A;: What happens to John Hinckley and other defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity

When John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan, jurors left open the possibility that he would one day live outside a mental institution. For decades he’s been receiving treatment at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., and in 2003 a judge ordered Hinckley be allowed to start testing his freedom outside of the facility. For the past year, Hinckley has spent 17 days a month living with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia. Hearings set for Wednesday will determine whether that time should be increased. Nearing 60, Hinckley could potentially be granted full-time, year-round “convalescent leave” in the community.

Some questions and answers about Hinckley and the insanity defense:

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HOW OFTEN ARE DEFENDANTS FOUND NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY RELEASED BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY?

Most people found not guilty by reason of insanity and confined to a psychiatric facility ultimately get to leave, though some do not, said Paul Appelbaum, a Columbia University psychiatry professor and past president of the American Psychiatric Association. A person’s length of stay at a psychiatric hospital tends to be proportionate to their crime, Appelbaum said, and different states have different rules about how much control officials have once a person is released.

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AP Exclusive: Chinese woman more dedicated to women’s rights activism after 37-day detention

BEIJING (AP) - The most prominent of five recently released Chinese women’s rights activists feels her dedication to the cause has grown stronger after spending 37 days in detention with interrogators who blew smoke onto her face and insulted her sexual orientation, her girlfriend and her lawyer said.

Li Tingting, 25, an openly lesbian campaigner for women’s issues, has been at the center of an international outcry over China’s detention of activists. Her girlfriend, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition she be identified only by her English name of Teresa, relayed comments from Li for the first time since the activist’s conditional release from a Beijing jail last Monday. Teresa spoke in the presence of Li’s lawyer Wang Yu, who also confirmed Li’s comments.

“‘Feminism is my soul,’” Teresa quoted Li as saying. “‘I thought a lot and came to believe what I do cannot be wrong. My belief is firmer. Feminism will surely be inseparable from me.’”

Li and four other women, ranging in age from 25 to 32, were detained in a criminal investigation for their plans to hand out stickers and flyers denouncing sexual harassment, in a case reflecting the Chinese leadership’s deep distrust of any efforts to organize civil action in a group outside the ruling Communist Party’s control.

Known for colorful, high-profile protests - from “potty parity” sit-ins to street theater denouncing spousal abuse - the five women drew what has been, for recent years, an unusual amount of attention overseas. Foreign governments, rights groups and luminaries including U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized the arrests as an overreaction by a repressive Chinese government, and urged Chinese authorities to drop the investigations against the women.

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Austerity’s legacy: British voters must decide who they trust to heal United Kingdom’s economy

LONDON (AP) - Prime Minister David Cameron and his main opponent agree on one thing going into Britain’s May 7 election: Voters should choose the next leader based on the health of the economy.

The question is whether the patient is recovering or is still on life support after the global financial crisis.

After five years of budget cuts, Cameron is focusing on the headline numbers. Inflation is down, employment is up and the economy is growing at the fastest rate among large industrialized nations. The Conservatives need five more years to cement the gains and ensure that benefits trickle down to everyone, Cameron says.

The opposition Labour Party is urging voters to look behind the headlines. Real earnings are below pre-crisis levels, employment figures are inflated by low-skill jobs, and the safety net that protects the poorest in society has been gutted, Labour leader Ed Miliband says. The use of food banks has soared as economic insecurity increased under Cameron’s government.

While politicians are crisscrossing the country promising to control immigration, protect the National Health Service, build homes and improve education, the election boils down to a simple question: Did the Conservative-led government chart the right course through the worst recession since the 1930s?

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Relative to run in honor of Boston Marathon winner who died on WWI battlefield a century ago

VLAMERTINGE, Belgium (AP) - At the Vlamertinge Military Cemetery in Flanders Fields, the headstone of James Duffy usually stands unnoticed among the solemn rows.

But one century after his death and in the days leading up to Monday’s Boston Marathon, Duffy’s grave has been honored with a scattering of wooden memento crosses, the drawing of an athlete, and a running bib.

“Died fighting for liberty - Ex-long distance champion runner of Scotland” is chiseled in stone. Yet to his family, what stands out is Duffy’s win in the 1914 Boston Marathon and his death one year later, almost to the day, amid some of the worst violence of World War I.

On Monday, Maureen Kiesewetter will don bib No. 23149 and run the Boston Marathon in honor of her great-great uncle.

“Last year we were able to celebrate his win. This year we will remember his passing and his sacrifice,” she said.

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Delaware State officials: 3 shot, injured at campus cookout; no arrests have been made

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Three people were shot and injured Saturday night at a cookout on the Delaware State University campus, officials said, and authorities are searching for the shooter.

The shooting happened at about 8 p.m. at a university-sanctioned fraternity and sorority event, DSU spokesman Carlos Holmes said.

Three people were taken to Kent General Hospital in Dover with injuries that were not life-threatening, Holmes told The Associated Press.

DSU President Harry L. Williams said in a news release that the victims’ names have not been released and it isn’t clear whether they are Delaware State students.

No arrests had been made as of 2:30 a.m. EDT Sunday. Williams said students have been told to stay inside their dormitories. Non-students were asked to leave campus.

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Hacked emails: Affleck asked PBS not to reveal slave-owning ancestor; PBS says not censorship

BOSTON (AP) - Ben Affleck requested that the PBS documentary series “Finding Your Roots” not reveal he had a slave-owning ancestor, according to emails published online by whistleblower site WikiLeaks, and the information never appeared on the program.

PBS and Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, host of the show that traces the ancestry of well-known guests, said in separate statements that they didn’t censor the slave-owner details. Instead, more interesting ancestors of the actor emerged and Gates chose to highlight them in October’s segment featuring Affleck, they said in the statements posted on the PBS website.

“For any guest, we always find far more stories about ancestors on their family trees than we ever possibly could use,” Gates said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press. He said finding slave-owning ancestors was very common in the series, and noted Ken Burns and Anderson Cooper were two guests with slave-owner relatives.

In Affleck’s case, “we decided to go with the story we used about his fascinating ancestor who became on occultist following the Civil War. This guy’s story was totally unusual: we had never discovered someone like him before,” he said.

Affleck’s rep did not immediately respond to an email request for comment Saturday. The award-winning actor and filmmaker (“Good Will Hunting” and “Argo”) has also organized humanitarian work in Africa.

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Hard Day’s Night: Ringo Starr, Green Day, Joan Jett and class of 2015 inducted into Rock Hall

CLEVELAND (AP) - Ringo Starr was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a little help from one of his famous friends.

The mop-topped drummer who kept the beat for the Beatles, Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist on Saturday night during a ceremony jammed with scintillating performances and touching moments.

Starr was the last of the Beatles to be inducted for his individual work, getting in after bandmates Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison. He was always the fourth Beatle - John, Paul, George … and Ringo - but now he’s been immortalized as a frontman.

Starr was inducted along with Green Day, underground-icon Lou Reed, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers, guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The “5” Royales.

The 74-year-old Starr was inducted by McCartney, who said he could always count on Starr to have his back on every song.

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