- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ukraine military helicopter shot down over Slovyansk; rebels detaining OSCE observers

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - A Ukrainian military helicopter was shot down by rebels Thursday over Slovyansk amid heavy fighting around the insurgent-held city in eastern Ukraine.

Slovyansk has become the epicenter of fighting between pro-Russia insurgents and government forces in recent weeks. The city - located 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of the Russian border - has seen constant clashes and its residential areas have regularly come under mortar shelling from government forces, prompting some residents to flee.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed the helicopter’s downing Thursday. It wasn’t immediately clear what weapons the rebels used to shoot it down, exactly where the helicopter fell or what happened to its crew.

The Kiev government condemns the insurgency roiling the east as the work of “terrorists” bent on destroying the country and blames Russia for fomenting it. Russia denies the accusations, saying it has no influence over rebels, who insist they are only protecting the interests of the Russian-speaking population of the east. Still, fighters from Russia, including the battled-hardened region of Chechnya, have been appearing recently in the ranks of the separatists.

Also Thursday, an insurgent leader in eastern Ukraine said his fighters are holding four observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and promised that they would be released imminently.


Father of 2 active in sports, Obama to draw attention to youth sports concussion issue

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is a lover of games played on hard courts, baseball diamonds and in 10-yard increments. His two daughters are active in sports and, like many parents with children on athletic teams, he worries about their safety.

But unlike many of those parents, Obama is uniquely positioned to help address the concerns.

At the White House on Thursday, Obama was hosting a summit with representatives of professional sports leagues, coaches, parents, young athletes, researchers and others to call attention to the issue of youth sports concussions.

Not enough is known about how the injuries may affect still-developing brains, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council said in a report last fall, and the issue concerns the president.

Obama once said he’d “have to think long and hard” before allowing a son to play football because of the risk of head injury.


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The president is hosting a summit with league representatives, parents and athletes to call attention to the issue and announce financial pledges to improve athletic safety.



Area where ‘pings’ heard ruled out as resting place of missing Malaysian jet, searchers say

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - Investigators searching for the missing Malaysian jet have concluded an area where acoustic signals were detected is not the final resting place of the plane after an unmanned submersible found no trace of it, the search coordinator said Thursday.

The U.S. Navy’s Bluefin 21 finished its final underwater mission in the southern Indian Ocean on Wednesday after scouring 850 square kilometers (330 square miles), the Joint Agency Coordination Center said.

“The area can now be discounted as the final resting place” of the missing plane, the Australia-based center said in a statement.

The underwater search for the airliner, which vanished March 8 with 239 people on board en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, will be suspended for a couple months while more powerful sonar equipment is brought in to search a much wider area of 56,000 square kilometers (21,600 square miles), based on analysis of satellite data of the plane’s most likely course, the center said.

That analysis has led authorities to believe that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 diverted sharply from its flight path and flew south to the Indian Ocean. But not a single piece of the missing Boeing 777 has been found in one of aviation’s most baffling mysteries.


With officials failing to find Flight 370 in most likely crash zone, what happens next?

SYDNEY (AP) - Thursday marked a bleak moment for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. For the first time since it disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board, no one is looking for it.

An unmanned sub that spent weeks scouring the area of the Indian Ocean where searchers had detected acoustic signals they hoped were from the aircraft finished its work Wednesday, after finding nothing. Australian officials leading the search acknowledged that the area can be ruled out as the aircraft’s final resting place.

A civilian expert with the U.S. Navy told CNN that the “pings,” detected about a month after Flight 370 disappeared, probably were not from the jet. A Navy spokesman later said the comments were premature, but now that 850 square kilometers (330 square miles) of ocean floor have been thoroughly searched, the point may be moot.

Australian and Malaysian authorities still believe the plane is somewhere in a broader expanse of ocean close to where they had been searching. They released details this week of satellite contact with the jet that led them to that conclusion.

Answers to the tragic mystery appear to be months away - at best. Here are details about where the search stands:


AP-WE tv Poll: As women earn and learn more, traditional gender roles still drive dating scene

WASHINGTON (AP) - Who ever said the dating game was logical?

A new Associated Press-WE tv poll turns up all kinds of contradictions when people lay out their thoughts on dating, especially when it comes to money and gender roles.

Seven in 10 of those surveyed say it’s unacceptable to expect a date to pay for everything. But most still say it’s a man’s job to pay for the first date.

Most say it’s OK to ask someone out because he or she seems successful. But even more say it’s unacceptable to turn down people because they haven’t had much success.

One-third think it’s OK to search for online clues about a potential first date’s success in life. But very few say daters should pay attention to each other’s finances before they are exclusive.


Analysis: Election turnout debacle shattered invulnerability of Egypt’s next leader, el-Sissi

CAIRO (AP) - The election of Egypt’s former military chief to the nation’s presidency may be remembered for its central irony: He won in a historic landslide - only to shatter his image of invulnerability in the process.

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s win was never in doubt, but what the retired 59-year-old field marshal wanted was an overwhelming turnout that would accord legitimacy to his July ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected president - the Islamist Mohammed Morsi - and show critics at home and abroad that his action reflected the will of the people. In his last interview before polls opened, he exuberantly told Egyptians he wanted more than 40 million of the nearly 54 million registered voters to turn out.

The reality was far more tepid.

According to unofficial results announced by his campaign early Thursday, el-Sissi won 92 percent of the vote, resoundingly beating his sole rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi.

However, the turnout nationwide was around 44 percent, el-Sissi’s campaign said. Not the worst of the multiple elections held the past three years, but well below the nearly 52 percent turnout in the 2012 election that Morsi won.


Inspector general says 1,700 veterans awaiting care at Phoenix VA hospital left off wait list

PHOENIX (AP) - Navy veteran Ken Senft turned to the Department of Veterans Affairs for medical care in 2011 after his private insurance grew too costly. It could have been a fatal mistake, he now says.

A few years ago, the 65-year-old had a lesion on his head. He went to a VA clinic near his home outside Phoenix, but he said the doctor told him it could be two years before he might get an appointment with a dermatologist.

So he paid out of pocket to see a private physician. Turns out, he had cancer.

“What if I had waited two years?” Senft said in frustration. “I might be dead.”

Senft’s story comes amid allegations of delayed care and misconduct at VA facilities across the nation.


The nation’s wise woman: Angelou had lasting impact on discussions about race and gender

Maya Angelou walked into a meeting of civil rights leaders discussing affirmative action back in the 1990s, looked around, and put them all in their place with a single, astute observation.

“She came into the room,” recalled Al Sharpton, “and she said: ‘The first problem is you don’t have women in here of equal status. We need to correct you before you can correct the country.’”

Angelou, who died Wednesday at 86, made an impact on American culture that transcended her soaring poetry and searing memoirs. She was the nation’s wise woman, a poet to presidents, an unapologetic conscience who became such a touchstone that grief over her loss poured from political leaders, celebrities and ordinary people in generous doses.

“Above all, she was a storyteller - and her greatest stories were true,” President Barack Obama said.

Never hesitant to speak her mind, Angelou passionately defended the rights of women, young people and the ignored. She effortlessly traversed the worlds of literature and activism, becoming a confidante to the original civil rights leaders, their successors and the current generation.


8 vehicles earn insurance industry’s top rating for collision warning and braking systems

DETROIT (AP) - The 2014 Chevrolet Impala was the only non-luxury car to earn the highest safety rating in new tests of high-tech crash prevention systems.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested cars equipped with collision warning and automatic braking systems. It gave a “superior” rating to cars that both warned the driver of a potential collision and applied the automatic brakes to significantly slow the cars.

The BMW 5 Series, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Buick Regal, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac XTS and 2015 Hyundai Genesis also earned “superior” ratings in the test results released Thursday.

Collision warning and automatic braking systems use radars, cameras and lasers to determine if a vehicle is getting too close to the car in front of it. Most of the systems warn the driver - audibly, with vibrations in the seat, or both - and prepare the brakes to maximize their effect when the driver presses them.

In some cases, the vehicles brake themselves. That action may not prevent a crash, the institute said, but reducing the speed before the car hits something can help make crashes - and injuries - less severe.



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