Jumaat, 18 April 2014

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South Korea Seeks Arrest Warrant for Captain of Ferry That Sank - Businessweek

Posted: 18 Apr 2014 09:11 AM PDT

South Korean authorities are seeking an arrest warrant for the captain and two of the crew members of a ferry that sank this week.

A combined investigation team of police and prosecutors didn't reveal the charges it plans to make, said Park Jeang Il, a press official at Mokpo Coast Guard station, where the team is based. Captain Lee Joon Seok, 69, wasn't on the bridge at the time of the sinking and he had assigned the third navigation officer to steer the vessel, prosecutor Park Jae Uck told reporters.

"He may have returned to the wheelhouse as the ferry began tilting," the prosecutor said yesterday.

Investigators said they are probing whether the ferry, which is now entirely submerged, turned too quickly or abnormally. They declined to say what announcements were made as the ferry sank on April 16, or whether passengers were told to stay in their cabins. About 10 crew including the captain were being investigated over whether the crew made any mistakes, if they broke any rules related to cargo, and if the ship had any faults, the coast guard said in an earlier statement.

"It's not as though we didn't want to help," crew member Oh Young Seok, 57, said in an interview at a hospital in Mokpo, during a break from police questioning. "We know the rule. The rule is to help the old and the weak, pregnant women, then other passengers, and then we should leave when it appears all have left, and the captain should abandon ship last. But the vessel was tilting so fast we couldn't reach any lifeboats."

Coast guard official Park declined to say which two other crew members prosecutors are seeking arrest warrants for.

Two Announcements

Two announcements were given at around 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. calling on passengers to don life jackets and stay in their current location because the ferry was tilting, Oh said. The ferry first contacted authorities at 8:55 a.m. on April 16 to request coast guard assistance, according to an audio clip of the exchange issued by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

"Ship has listed a lot. Can't move. Please come quick," the ferry told the Vessel Traffic Services in Jeju, its destination.

"I did hear the announcement that we should stay put but I couldn't," Choi Chan Yeol, a 57-year-old chef, said in an interview yesterday at a hospital in Mokpo. Choi managed to escape by gripping a cord and pulling himself to the door of the restaurant hall. "It was scary as the ferry was tilting and water was filling up."

More than 600 divers have been hampered in their attempts to search the sunken vessel due to strong currents and bad visibility. Of the 476 people on board, 28 are known to have died and 174 rescued, leaving 274 people -- mostly students on a high school excursion -- unaccounted for. Authorities yesterday revised the number of people on board and lowered the total rescued from earlier statements.

Fading Hopes

There have been no survivors found since the day of the sinking, which occurred off the southwest corner of the Korean peninsula. The chance of finding survivors is "slim," the coast guard said.

Most of the missing passengers are from a group of 325 students and 14 teachers from Danwon High School, who were on an excursion to Jeju island. The school was closed yesterday, while hundreds of parents whose children remain unaccounted for are packed into a gymnasium on Jindo island, near the site of the sinking.

The school's vice principal Kang Min Kyu, who was on the ferry but survived, was found hanged behind the gymnasium yesterday, police official Lee Sung Hun told reporters. Lee didn't say it was a suicide, and no note was found at the scene.

Kim Han Shik, the 72-year-old chief executive officer of the ship's owner and operator Chonghaejin Marine Co., said his company has committed a "terrible sin." Kim was speaking at a press briefing at Incheon port April 17 that was broadcast on MBN TV.

'Time and Tide'

The ferry, named Sewol, or "time and tide" in Korean, listed and capsized in an area of the ocean as shallow as 20 meters (66 feet) in some parts, based on readings from a coast guard vessel used in the rescue operation. The ship was en route from Incheon to Jeju island, popular with tourists.

Bodies found yesterday all had life jackets on and weren't discovered inside the ferry. They may have been trapped under the vessel, the coast guard said.

"Divers are groping their way because visibility is so poor, 20-30 centimeters at best," coast guard official Ko Myung Suk told reporters.

The number of divers conducting operations increases every six hours as the current off Korea's southwest coast slows, according to notice boards at the situation room at Jindo county office. Each slowdown lasts about an hour. Floating cranes have also arrived at the site.

'Upside Down'

"Pulling the ferry up isn't going to be easy or smooth," Kim Jae In, a press officer at the West Regional Headquarters of Korea Coast Guard said in Mokpo. "It's completely upside down so if we move it wrong, it may tilt or sink further into the mud. This is something we cannot afford as lifesaving is our top priority, although we're holding onto a slim chance."

Authorities are considering using an oil tanker to attempt to slow down the current. Rescuers also pumping air into the ferry to "increase the odds of survival," the security ministry said in a statement.

In addition to the coast guard, 400 personnel from South Korea's navy, air force and army have been sent to the area to aid the search and rescue. Altogether, 632 divers are working in turns, with 173 ships and 29 helicopters and other aircraft supporting, the security ministry said.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye was met with angry shouts, shrieks and wailing when she visited parents of the missing students in Jindo on April 17.

'Every Effort'

"We will make every effort to rescue up to the last person," Park said as she stood on the gymnasium stage, flanked by officials at a meeting shown on YTN TV. Some people yelled insults, while others demanded a live broadcast of rescue operations, a full list of people who were on board, and an increase in the number of divers assigned to the search.

The government has provided live footage of the rescue process for families in Jindo, while the police are taking steps to prevent rumors spreading through social media sites, the security ministry said in a statement. Korean media reports that hoax messages purporting to be from people trapped on the ferry have been posted on the Internet.

The accident may be Korea's worst since 1970, when the sinking of the 'Namyoung' ferry killed 323 people, according to the General Insurance Association of Korea. The 'Seohae' ferry sank in 1993, killing 292, according to the Korea Maritime University.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cynthia Kim in Seoul at ckim170@bloomberg.net; Sam Kim in Seoul at skim609@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brian Fowler at bfowler4@bloomberg.net Stuart Biggs, Kevin Costelloe

Climbing Mount Everest: what you need to know - Telegraph.co.uk

Posted: 18 Apr 2014 09:05 AM PDT

• It's also getting safer. Better equipment and modern weather forecasting are credited with improving fatality rates.

• Around 250 people have died in pursuit of Everest's peak. The "death zone" begins at 8,000 metres high, where oxygen levels significantly fall and conditions become increasingly harsh.

• Avalanches are particularly deadly. It was an avalanche that killed 12 sherpa guides in the latest incident, just as it was another that killed four people in October 2013, and another that claimed nine lives the year before.

Tashi Sherpa lies on a hospital bed after he was rescued and airlifted from the avalanche site at Mount Everest (REUTERS)

• There are too many people trying to climb Everest. Until 1985, Nepal allowed only one expedition on each route to the summit at a time. But no such strictures exist today, and 658 climbers made the summit in 2013.

• Nepal has announced it will introduce new restrictions for aspiring conquerors of Everest, and is even toying with the idea of placing ladders on Hillary's step.

• Such action is being taken to reduce the number of queues like this one. Ralf Dujmovits, the mountaineer who took the photograph, said: "My deep hope was that the number of climbers on Everest would be reduced. But I fear that I've made Everest more popular with this picture."

• The overcrowding has been dangerous, with a South Korean man suffering snow blindness, delirium and hypothermia as he waited four hours for more than 300 climbers to pass.

• The sweet spot for Everest climbing occurs for roughly fortnight in the spring, with 70 per cent of 2013's climbs taking place between May 13 and 22.

• Littering is a big problem on Everest. So much so that new rules state that groups must return to base camp with eight kilogrammes of rubbish for each team member or they will forfeit their deposit of over £2000.

• Climbing Everest is getting cheaper. Where it used to cost £15,000 to scale the summit during peak season, it now costs £6,500.

• And if you fancy yourself a pro, then pay a reduced rate of £1,500 for an off-season pass.

• In 2013, there was a hundred person brawl at 23,000 feet during which three European mountaineers were told by a group of around 100 sherpas: "Now we kill you." They later complained of the disrespect shown to sherpas by their wealthy clients.

• Some people have even conquered Everest despite a physical handicap. Blind climber Erik Weihenmayer reached the peak in 2001, and armless man Sudarshan Gautam did it in 2013.

• Use this interactive image of Everest and the surrounding area to see the trail, the camps, the people and the wonderful sights.

Kredit: www.nst.com.my

Khamis, 17 April 2014

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Nearly 300, mostly teens, missing after South Korean ferry sinks - CBS News

Posted: 17 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Updated April 17, 2014, at 9:58 a.m. ET with police reportedly saying that text messages sent from the ferry had been faked.

MOKPO, South Korea - Fears rose Thursday for the fate of 287 passengers still missing more than 24 hours after their ferry flipped onto its side and filled with water off the southern coast of South Korea.

A coast guard official said the death toll was now confirmed at nine, but that is expected to rise sharply because the missing have now spent more than a day either trapped in the ferry or in the cold seawater.

There were 475 people aboard - many of them high school students on a class trip - and frantic parents have gathered at their school near Seoul and in Mokpo in the south of the country, not far from where the ferry slipped beneath the surface until only the blue-tipped, forward edge of the keel was visible.

Divers, helicopters and boats continued their search Thursday for survivors, but the high number of people unaccounted for - possibly trapped in the ship or floating in the chilly water nearby - raised fears that the death toll could increase drastically.

southkoreaferry.jpg

A partially sunken ferry is seen off South Korea's southwest coast in this still image from a video released by the South Korean coast guard April 16, 2014.

REUTERS TV, Reuters

South Korean news outlets reported that many of the passengers sent text messages to loved ones as they awaited rescue, but on Thursday police told the Yonhap News Agency that those messages had been faked.

Coast guard spokesman Cho Man-yong said Thursday morning that rescuers in a vessel had found another body floating in the sea, raising the confirmed death toll to seven. Hours later, officials said the toll had climbed to nine.
It was still unknown why the ferry sank. CBS News' Seth Doane reported that many survivors said they heard a loud crash before the ship began to tilt badly. Coast guard officials were interviewing the captain and crew.

The Sewol, a 480-foot vessel that can hold more than 900 people, set sail Tuesday from Incheon, in northwestern South Korea, on an overnight, 14-hour journey to the tourist island of Jeju.

The ferry was three hours from its destination when it sent a distress call after it began listing to one side, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration.

A ferry that departed from Incheon, South Korea, sank on its way to the island of Jeju April 16, 2014.

CBS News

Passenger Kim Seong-mok told broadcaster YTN that after having breakfast, he felt the ferry tilt and then heard it crash into something. He said he was certain that many people were trapped inside the ferry as water rushed in and the severe tilt of the vessel kept them from reaching the exits.

Rescued passenger Koo Bonn-hee, 36, said many people were trapped inside by windows that were too hard to break.

"The rescue wasn't done well. We were wearing life jackets. We had time," Koo, who was on a business trip to Jeju with a co-worker, said from a hospital bed in Mokpo, the nearest major city to the site of the accident, where he was treated for minor injuries. "If people had jumped into the water ... they could have been rescued. But we were told not to go out."

Oh Yong-seok, a 58-year-old crew member who escaped with about a dozen others, including the captain, told The Associated Press that rescue efforts were hampered by the ferry's severe tilt.

"We couldn't even move one step. The slope was too big," Oh said.

southkoreavigil.jpg

A family member of a missing student who was on the South Korean ferry Sewol, which sank in the sea off Jindo, attends a candlelight vigil at Danwon High School in Ansan April 16, 2014.

YONHAP/ REUTERS

The Sewol's wreckage is in waters a little north of Byeongpung Island, which is not far from the mainland and about 290 miles from Seoul.

"We cannot give up," said South Korean President Park Geun-hye, after a briefing in Seoul. "We have to do our best to rescue even one passenger."

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. and its 7th Fleet stood ready to assist, including the USS Bonhomme Richard, which was in the region.

The last major ferry disaster in South Korea was in 1993, when 292 people were killed.

TV stations broadcast live pictures Wednesday of the listing Sewol as passengers clambered over the side, jumped into the sea or were hoisted up by helicopters. At least 87 vessels and 18 aircraft swarmed around the stricken ferry.

The water temperature in the area was about 54 degrees Fahrenheit, cold enough to cause signs of hypothermia after about 1 1/2 hours of exposure, according to an emergency official who spoke on condition of anonymity because department rules did not allow talking to the media.

southkoreagrieving.jpg

A woman with a loved one aboard a South Korean ferry that sank in the sea off Jindo cries as she waits for news.

KIM HONG-JI, REUTERS

Lee Gyeong-og, a vice minister for the Public Administration and Security Ministry, said the ocean was 121 feet deep in the area.The survivors - wet, stunned and many without shoes - were brought to nearby Jindo Island, where medical teams wrapped them in pink blankets and checked for injuries before taking them to a cavernous gymnasium.

As the search dragged on, families of the missing gathered at a nearby dock, some crying and holding each other. Boats circled the sunken ferry into the night, illuminated by red flares.

Angry shouts could be heard when Prime Minister Chung Hong-won visited a shelter where relatives of the missing passengers waited for news. Some yelled that the government should have sent more divers to search the wreckage.

The numbers of passengers, as well as the dead and missing, fluctuated throughout the day. As of early Thursday, South Korean authorities estimated 475 people were on the ferry.

Of that total, there were 325 students and 15 teachers from Danwon High School in Ansan, a city near Seoul. They were headed to Jeju for a four-day trip, according to a relief team set up by Gyeonggi province.

Authorities said the dead included a female member of the crew and two male students. Details on the others were not immediately known. Kang Byung-kyu, a government minister, said 55 people were injured. Coast guard officials put the number of survivors early Thursday at 179.

Many South Korean high schools organize trips for first- or second-year students, and Jeju is a popular destination. The students on the ferry were in their second year, which would make most of them 16 or 17.

At Danwon High School, students were sent home early and parents gathered for news about their children. Park Ji-hee, a first-year student, said she saw about a dozen parents crying at the school entrance.

The Sewol, which traveled twice a week between Incheon and Jeju, was built in Japan in 1994 and could carry a maximum of 921 people, 180 vehicles and 152 shipping containers, according to the Yonhap news agency.


© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

3 Killed in Clash at Ukrainian Base - Voice of America

Posted: 17 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

Ukraine is holding in detention about 10 Russian citizens, all of whom have intelligence backgrounds, the State Security Service announced on Thursday.
      
Answering a journalist's question about comments made on Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the extent of Russian involvement in the Ukraine crisis, an SBU spokeswoman said, "We have about 10 Russians, with Russian passports, who have been detained."
          
"They have all had experience of intelligence work," she said. They were being investigated, she added.
 
Earlier, Ukraine's interior minister said at least three pro-Russian separatists were killed and 13 wounded in a clash with national guardsmen at a base in the Ukrainian town of Mariupol.
 
Arsen Avakov said the separatists attacked the base with grenades and gasoline bombs. He said the troops disarmed most of the attackers and arrested 63.
 
The incident comes as the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers get ready for emergency talks in Geneva with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
 
A White House spokesman said Kerry will look for any signs Russia is serious about de-escalating the tensions in Ukraine.
 
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on a television call-in show Thursday that the Geneva talks are very important in the search for a compromise in Ukraine.
 
Putin said a democratic process is the only way to bring order back to the country.
 
He also called it "nonsense" to think there are Russian military units in Ukraine. He said all separatist actions are being carried out by local residents.
 
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday there is substantial evidence of Russian involvement in the unrest in eastern Ukraine. She called it a well-orchestrated professional campaign of incitement and sabotage.
 
Moscow has said it has the right to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine. It accuses the new Ukrainian leadership of being anti-Russian and anti-Semitic and of threatening the rights of pro-Russians.
 
President Putin said Russia's annexation of Crimea last month was not planned, but a reaction to what he called tangible threats against Russians living there.
 
However, senior U.N. human rights official Ivan Simonvic said earlier that his team found no widespread attacks against ethnic Russians during two trips to Ukraine in March.

Restricting entry

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday demanded clarification from Ukraine and said it would consider retaliating after Kiev said it would impose restrictions on entry into the country by Russian men.

Ukraine said on Thursday it will impose stricter border controls on Russian men trying to enter the country.

"From today the Ukrainian border control service has
 significantly increased checks at the border with Russia, not only at the airport,'' a spokesman for the service, Oleh Slobodian, said.

"This applies to Russian citizens because there is information about possible provocations at the border, up to and including terrorist attacks. Attention will be primarily paid to men of an active age, traveling alone or in a group.''

Some information contributed by Reuters.

Kredit: www.nst.com.my

Rabu, 16 April 2014

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Ferry's Sudden Shift Trapped Passengers Inside, Survivors Say - ABC News

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 09:12 AM PDT

Divers and ships searched the cold waters off South Korea's coast for hundreds of missing people today after a ferry loaded with high school students suddenly shifted and sank.

The ferry, identified as the Sewol, was carrying 462 people to the southern island of Jeju when it sent a distress call as it began leaning to one side.

Survivors said the ferry was shaking, but they were told by the crew to stay put. The ship then suddenly titled sharply and the passengers said they were hit by shifting bags, refrigerators and other debris.

Passenger Kim Seong-mok, speaking from a nearby island after his rescue, told YTN that he was "certain" that many people were trapped inside the ship as water quickly filled with water and the severe tilt of the ferry kept them from reaching the exits. Some people yelled at those who couldn't get out, urging them to break windows.

Kim said that after having breakfast he felt the ferry tilt and then heard it crash into something. He said the ferry operator made an announcement asking that passengers wait and not move from their places. Kim said he didn't hear any announcement telling passengers to escape.

Photos: Sadness, Desperation as Ferry Sinks Off South Korea's Coast

The number of rescued was put at 164. Four are confirmed dead and 294 are missing.

More than 300 of the passengers were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, near Seoul, who were on a school trip.

Hyung Min-woo/Yonhap/AP Photo

South Korean coast guard officers and rescue team members surround the ferry Sewol in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, south of Seoul, April 16, 2014.

Dozens of boats, helicopters and divers scrambled to rescue passengers. Video shows rescue crews boarding the ship as it floated on its side helping people off, and helicopters throwing rafts into the water speckled with bobbing heads.

The ship slowly turned upside down and later sank more than 100 feet below the water's surface.

Park Chul-heung/Yonhap/AP Photo

Rescued passengers from a ferry sinking off South Korea's southern coast, are escorted by rescue teams on their arrival at a port in Jindo, south of Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

Divers searching for survivors were hampered by the muddy bottom with limited visibility to about 15 inches.

The water temperature was also a danger to potential survivors. At 55 degrees Farenheit it could cause hypothermia after about 90 minutes or 2 hours, according to an emergency official who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules.

A mother weeps as she and others search for their children's names among a list of survivors rescued from a ferry that sank off the country's southern coast, at Danwon high school in Ansan, South Korea, April 16, 2014.

The students were on their way to Jeju island for a four-day trip. The trip from Incheon to Jeju is usually about 14 hours, so the ferry was about three hours from its destination when it made the distress call.

At the high school, students were sent home and parents gathered for news about the ferry.

The ship sank near the tiny Jindo Island and survivors are gathered there at the only gym on the island.

Officials said two large cranes are en route to the sunken ship in an effort to raise it, but the cranes won't arrive for another day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NATO Increases Its Operations In Response to Russia Moves on Ukraine - Wall Street Journal

Posted: 16 Apr 2014 09:28 AM PDT

BRUSSELS—The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Wednesday it would increase its flights over allied Baltic nations and send ships to the Mediterranean and Baltic seas in response to what it called Russia's threat to Ukraine.

NATO will also dispatch military personnel to intensify training and exercises in NATO countries in Eastern Europe, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after a meeting of representatives from the...

Kredit: www.nst.com.my

Selasa, 15 April 2014

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Boston Bombing Anniversary Draws Solemn Tributes - NBCNews.com

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:39 AM PDT

Mourners gathered Tuesday to remember the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings — and pay tribute to those who rushed to help them — a year after twin explosions ripped through the heart of the city.

The solemn day of remembrance started around 8 a.m., when Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh laid wreaths in front of the bombing sites, with the families of the three people who died in the blasts — Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, and Martin Richard — in attendance.

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley led a silent prayer in remembrance of the victims. Bagpipers played "Amazing Grace." Jane and Henry Richard, brother and sister to Martin Richard — at 8 years old the youngest of those killed — laid a wreath at the race's finish line. Jane lost a leg in the attack; Henry sustained shrapnel wounds.

In addition to the three who were killed, more than 260 were hurt when the two bombs detonated seconds apart near the finish line. A fourth person, Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier, was killed in the aftermath of the blasts as a manhunt ensued for the suspects.

Image: A Boston firehouse that  lost two of its own in a fire last month — Engine 33, Ladder 15 — pays tribute to the marathon victimsJim Seida / NBC News

A Boston firehouse that lost two of its own in a fire last month pay tribute to the marathon victims on April 15.

At noon, survivors and families, along with Patrick, Walsh, and Vice President Joe Biden will gather at Boston's Hynes Convention Center, not far from the finish line on Boylston Street, for a memorial service. Tom Menino, who was mayor at the time, and first responders to the April 15, 2013, attack will also be there.

Three survivors will also speak.

"I think it's going to be a difficult day for a lot of people," Walsh told NBC News on Monday.

After the memorial, the crowd will go to the finish line for a moment of silence at 2:49 p.m.: the time the explosions occurred.

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Signs of remembrance lined Boylston Street on Tuesday morning, with some restaurants near the finish line tying blue and yellow ribbons to the gates of their patios. Flowers had been placed at the mailbox outside Forum restaurant, the site of the second bomb, and the last business to re-open after the marathon last year.

A steady rain fell, with wind strong enough to stiffen the flags flying at half-staff along the last few blocks of the marathon course.

Denis Sullivan, a member of the Boston Fire Department, stood guard at the memorial wreath.

"You just think about everything that happened last year," he said. "It's on your mind."

President Barack Obama released a statement on the bombings on Tuesday praising those who helped last year.

"The most vivid images from that day were not of smoke and chaos, but of compassion, kindness and strength: A man in a cowboy hat helping a wounded stranger out of harm's way; runners embracing loved ones, and each other; an EMT carrying a spectator to safety," he said. "One year later, we also stand in awe of the men and women who continue to inspire us - learning to stand, walk, dance and run again."

Authorities say two brothers planned the attack, and days later, shot and killed Collier while attempting to steal his gun. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died after a shootout with police several days after the bombings. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is awaiting his trial. He faces the possibility of the death penalty.

First published April 15 2014, 8:15 AM

Anne Thompson

Anne Thompson is NBC News’ chief environmental affairs correspondent. Her reports appear across all platforms of NBC News including “Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “Today,” MSNBC and NBCNews.com.

Thompson was tapped for this position in April 2007. Most recently, Thompson led coverage on the Gulf oil spill, covering all aspects of the crisis from the beginning to when the well was finally killed. This extensive coverage made Thompson the NBC News correspondent with the most airtime in 2010, according to the Tyndall Report. She traveled to Copenhagen to cover climate change negotiations, Greenland, Costa Rica, the Amazon, Australia and Europe to cover such issues as alternative fuels, global warming, land usage and new technologies.

From March 2005 to April 2007, Thompson served as chief financial correspondent reporting on financial and economic news for NBC News. Thompson has reported on the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the increased cost of health care and its impact on the economy, alternative fuel vehicles, identity theft, and the politics of the credit card industry. In addition, from a financial perspective, she covered the trials of Martha Stewart, Bernie Ebbers and Tyco.

In 2006, Thompson received the prestigious Gerald Loeb Award, and she was part of the "Nightly News" team that won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Journalism Award and the Emmy Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In 2004, she was awarded the Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business and financial journalism for a series of reports that aired on "Nightly News" on the jobless economic recovery. She was also nominated for four business and financial news Emmys.

Thompson first joined NBC News in 1997 as a national correspondent, reporting on a variety of stories including Daimler Benz' takeover of Chrysler, the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., and the execution of Timothy McVeigh for "Nightly News," "Today" and MSNBC.

In 2000, Thompson was NBC News' lead correspondent covering the presidential campaigns of Democratic hopeful Senator Bill Bradley and Republican hopeful Senator John McCain. She has also covered a variety of national stories including filing reports on women in business, the birth of the McCaughey septuplets, the school shooting in Paducah, Ky., the Columbine school shooting and the attack on the World Trade Center.

Before being named an NBC News correspondent, Thompson had been an award-winning general assignment reporter for WDIV-TV, the NBC affiliate in Detroit, since 1986. While at WDIV, Thompson was honored with seven Emmy Awards for a variety of stories, including her coverage of the Jessica DeBoer custody battle, a profile of Kirk Kerkorian and his attempted takeover of Chrysler, a series on two serial killers in the Detroit area, and a report on the near riots that broke out following the Detroit Pistons' championship win in 1990.

From 1983 to 1986, Thompson was a consumer reporter at KSDK-TV, the NBC affiliate in St. Louis, Mo. She began her broadcasting career at WNDU-TV in South Bend, Ind., where she served as a general assignment reporter from 1979 to 1983.

Raised and educated in Europe, Thompson received her high school diploma from the International School of Brussels in Belgium. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from University of Notre Dame, where was elected as a member of the Board of Trustees in 2010.

... Expand Bio

Full lunar eclipse: Few selfies, but many 'blood moon' photos hit Web - Los Angeles Times

Posted: 15 Apr 2014 08:50 AM PDT

They came with iPhones, iPads, digital cameras and even some film cameras -- ready to capture the "blood moon," the first full lunar eclipse of 2014.

Hundreds converged on Griffith Observatory, which has a prime view.

Here are some photos of the eclipse posted to various social media from the observatory on Tuesday morning: 

On Monday night, there were also photos as people prepared to watch:

Around 11 p.m., the "bite" began to spread across the moon as the Earth blocked direct light from the sun, casting a shadow on the moon. The dark red hue came from the light of sunsets and sunrises over the rest of the Earth.

A hush fell over the balconies and grassy lawn as the eclipse began and onlookers jockeyed for prime viewing spots. Some came hours before the lunar event.

Among the throngs of skywatchers was Johanna Huerta, who ushered in her 30th birthday early Tuesday with the "blood moon."

"It worked out that I got the 'blood moon,'" she said. "It will be my first time seeing it."

She brought her brother, 17-year-old Angel, and family friend Flavia Ibarra, 23, to celebrate her birthday and the eclipse.

"I dragged them with me," Huerta said. "I'm the dorky one." 

ALSO:

'Blood moon' creates lunar eclipse viewing frenzy at Griffith Park

Fatal bus crash: El Monte High victim mourned at school vigil

Sex offenders accused of killing 4 O.C. women could face death penalty

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Isnin, 14 April 2014

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Obama deplores Kansas City violence, says US ready to aid probe - Reuters

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 09:16 AM PDT

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday deplored the shootings at Kansas City-area Jewish centers, saying at an Easter season prayer breakfast there was no place for anti-Semitism or other religious-based hatred.

The federal government will provide whatever assistance is needed to investigate the attacks that killed three people on Sunday, the president said at the White House. A suspect is being held on suspicion of premeditated first-degree murder.

"As Americans, we not only need to open our hearts to the families of the victims, we've got to stand united against this kind of terrible violence, which has no place in our society," he said.

It was unfortunate that synagogues and Jewish community centers would feel they needed to step up security ahead of the Passover holiday, he added.

"That this occurred now, as Jews were preparing to celebrate Passover, as Christians were observing Palm Sunday, makes this tragedy all the more painful," Obama said. "Nobody should have to worry about their security when gathering with their fellow believers."

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by David Gregorio)

No sign of crackdown as Ukraine deadline passes - CNN

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 09:17 AM PDT

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Asked why protesters aren't being evicted, official says Ukraine wants political solution
  • Pro-Russian protesters force police out of a building in Horlivka
  • Protesters have occupied public buildings in eastern Ukraine
  • 2 a.m. ET deadline passed with no sign of it being heeded; Kiev blames Moscow for unrest

(CNN) -- Scores of pro-Russian protesters storm a Ukrainian police headquarters and confront the officers inside. Hundreds outside back up the intruders, chanting. A Russian flag flies from the structure as the crowd listens to activists with a megaphone at the entrance.

Monday was the day the Ukrainian government demanded pro-Russian activists give up. Instead, they appear to have overrun another key building in yet another eastern Ukrainian city.

Protesters forced police officers out of their four-story headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka, witnesses said, adding a new complication for a Kiev government worried about demonstrators' escalating activity in the east and a Russian neighbor that it accuses of fomenting the discontent.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov had given pro-Russian protesters in other eastern Ukrainian cities until 2 a.m. ET to disarm or face a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's armed forces. But the deadline passed with no sign that it was heeded, including in the eastern city of Donetsk, where protesters have held the regional government building for more than a week.

Russian supporters attend a rally in front of the security service building occupied by pro-Russian activists in Luhansk, Ukraine, on Monday, April 14. Ukraine has seen a sharp rise in tensions since a new pro-European government took charge of the country in February. Moscow branded the new government illegitimate and annexed Ukraine's Crimea region last month, citing threats to Crimea's Russian-speaking majority.Russian supporters attend a rally in front of the security service building occupied by pro-Russian activists in Luhansk, Ukraine, on Monday, April 14. Ukraine has seen a sharp rise in tensions since a new pro-European government took charge of the country in February. Moscow branded the new government illegitimate and annexed Ukraine's Crimea region last month, citing threats to Crimea's Russian-speaking majority.
Crisis in Ukraine
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Similar deadlines in the past have come and gone with no consequences.

A video shown on online streaming service Ustream purports to show scores of people entering the police headquarters in Horlivka, a city of 300,000. CNN could not independently verify the video.

Demonstrators crammed the halls in the video. Windows were broken, small fires burned and police appeared to have no control. Officers warned activists to avoid looting, though no officer stopped the masses walking through the halls and rooms.

A severely beaten man in a police uniform was taken to an ambulance as onlookers shouted at him.

Horlivka would be at least the 10th city or town in eastern Ukraine where activists have taken over security or government buildings in recent days.

Also Monday, in Slaviansk, Ukrainian authorities appeared to take no action to retake a police station that was occupied earlier. Pro-Russian protesters milled around with makeshift shields outside the building.

When asked why the Ukrainian government had made no apparent move to evict protesters after the deadline passed, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Danylo Lubkivsky told reporters that the government still believes in a political solution. Although it wants to avoid bloodshed, the government still will protect the country's territorial integrity, he said Monday in Kiev.

Kiev blames Moscow

The unrest is the latest in a series of events ratcheting up tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which Kiev accuses of fomenting trouble in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.

After then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of a deal with the European Union in November in favor of closer ties with Russia, months of protests in Kiev led to his ouster in February.

Distrust among the population in eastern Ukraine -- the base of Yanukovych's power -- grew as the new national government shifted rapidly in a pro-Western direction. A short time later, pro-Russian elements occupied the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed in March. Since then, pro-Russian protesters have taken to the streets in eastern Ukraine and in some cases stormed and occupied buildings.

Kiev's fragile new government and the West accuse Russia of destabilizing the region as a pretext to potentially send in troops to protect the local Russian-speaking population.

NATO says Russian armed forces are massing on Ukraine's eastern border, while Moscow says they are merely carrying out military exercises.

Turchynov on Sunday issued a promise of amnesty for the activists -- including protesters as well as armed militants -- in eastern Ukraine but warned that anyone who continued to support the takeover of government buildings would be held responsible for their actions.

"We'll not allow any repetition of the Crimean scenario in the east of Ukraine," Turchynov said. "I have signed a decree that would allow those who did not shoot at our officers to lay down their arms and leave the occupied buildings by Monday morning without fear of being prosecuted."

Referendum proposed

After the deadline passed Monday, Turchynov said the majority of Ukrainians would back keeping Ukraine in one piece if a referendum is held along with presidential elections set for May 25.

"We do not mind having a referendum," Turchynov told members of parliament.

"Moreover, if there is (a) parliamentary decision to hold one together with the presidential elections, I am sure most people will express support of independent and unitary Ukraine."

Turchynov has said Russia was responsible for the bloodshed relating to the most recent protests. At least one Ukrainian soldier was killed in Sunday clashes between pro-Ukrainian crowds and pro-Russian protesters, a high-level source in Ukraine's Security Services told CNN.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said any use of force against pro-Russian demonstrators in Ukraine will make it more difficult to create a lasting solution to the crisis.

A stable Ukraine is in Moscow's best interest, Lavrov said, also denying reports that Russian forces are active in the east. He refused to speculate about what events or actions would spur a military intervention by Russia into Ukraine.

Lavrov said he would hold off judgment on Turchynov's proposed referendum until Moscow sees the outline of the questions to be asked. He added that pro-Russian activists in the east must be given an active role in shaping a new constitution.

'Evidence of Russian involvement'

Ukrainian officials have placed blame for unrest in the eastern section of their country squarely on Russia. The new Ukrainian government said it was launching security operations against terrorists who are attempting to "destroy our country."

Giving no further details, it also said it had "concrete evidence of Russian special service involvement" in the pro-Russian protests and storming of buildings and would present it at an international meeting on the Ukraine crisis on Thursday.

Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday the attacks in Slaviansk were "professional" and "coordinated" -- similar to Russia's incursion into the Crimean Peninsula last month.

The United States is prepared to step up sanctions against Russia if the recent actions in Ukraine continue, she said. Speaking on ABC's "This Week," she said the latest events in Ukraine bore "the telltale signs of Moscow's involvement."

"I think we've seen that the sanctions can bite. And if actions like the kind that we've seen over the last few days continue, you're going to see a ramping up of those sanctions," she said.

EU cutting tariffs for Ukraine

The European Union on Monday took another step to help Ukraine economically as Kiev's new government seeks closer ties to the West.

The EU's Foreign Affairs Council approved tariff cuts for most industrial and all agricultural goods, which will make it cheaper for Ukraine to export them to the European Union, saving Ukraine about 500 million euros a year, the council said.

The cuts will start at the end of April and last until November 1, by which time a fuller free-trade deal is expected to take effect.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is to meet this week with foreign ministers from the United States, Russia and Ukraine in Switzerland to discuss efforts to de-escalate the situation. EU foreign ministers will meet in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss the crisis.

On Sunday night, the U.N. Security Council held an urgent, previously unscheduled meeting to discuss the worsening crisis, where strong condemnations and accusations were traded.

Opinion: The West must not blame itself for Putin's revanchism

CNN's Arwa Damon, Khushbu Shah, Steve Almasy and Nick Paton Walsh; journalist Victoria Butenko in Kiev; and journalist Lena Kashkarova in Donetsk contributed to this report

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