Rabu, 23 April 2014

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Obama Arrives in Japan on 8-Day Asia Tour - Voice of America

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 08:55 AM PDT

U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Japan for the start of a four-nation tour of Asia, where he will try to convince allies that Washington is committed to its "rebalancing" in the Pacific.

Security concerns over China's territorial claims and North Korea's nuclear program will be a major focus of Mr. Obama's trip, which include stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

The eight-day tour began in Tokyo with a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan is embroiled in a growing dispute with Beijing over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Ahead of his visit, Mr. Obama told Japan's Yomiuri newspaper the United States opposes "any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan's administration of these islands." He also stressed the islands fall under a treaty that requires the U.S. to defend Japan if attacked.

Mr. Obama will also try to make progress with Japan on the long-delayed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal. But many say Japan's reluctance to drop tariffs on agricultural products makes chances of a breakthrough slim.

From Tokyo, President Obama will head to Seoul, where he will talk with South Korean President Park Geun-hye about how to deal with North Korea, which some believe is preparing to conduct another nuclear test.

The South said Tuesday it detected increased activity at North Korea's nuclear test site. Pyongyang warned last month it was preparing for a "new form" of nuclear test.

In Malaysia, Mr. Obama will hold talks and attend a state dinner with Prime Minister Najib Razak. He will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Malaysia since Lyndon Johnson traveled there in 1966.

Mr. Obama's last stop will be the Philippines, which is also involved in a territorial standoff with China and has deepened its military cooperation with Washington as a result.

This is Mr. Obama's fifth visit to Asia since assuming office in 2009. He has promised to make the Pacific region a greater economic, diplomatic, and military priority for the United States.

South Korea Ferry Probe: Cargo Was Three Times Recommended Maximum - Wall Street Journal

Posted: 23 Apr 2014 08:19 AM PDT

Updated April 23, 2014 10:04 a.m. ET

SEOUL—Prosecutors expanded their investigation into the owner of the sunken South Korean passenger ferry on Wednesday as inspectors confirmed the cargo weight declared by the ship on its final voyage was three times the recommended maximum.

Officials from Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the ferry, were banned from leaving the country as investigators raided the offices of the company, its affiliates, the residence of the firm's owner, as well as other companies he owns.

Prosecutors also collected documents from the Korean Register of Shipping, a government-commissioned inspector that conducted safety checks on the ship earlier this year. The expanded investigation is looking into whether regulations were enforced and inspections properly completed on the doomed vessel.

The ferry operator declared it was loaded with 3,608 tons of cargo when it left Incheon port on Tuesday last week, according to radio communication with the Korean Shipping Association. An official at Korean Register said on Wednesday that the maximum recommended weight of cargo for the "Sewol" was 987 tons.

Prosecutors have yet to identify the cause of a tragedy a week earlier that has left more than 300 people dead or missing, although the focus on Chonghaejin Marine has intensified in recent days.

The retrieval operation at the overturned ship continued on Wednesday as the official death toll rose to 150. Another 152 are missing. A spokesman for the coast guard said divers recovered more bodies from the ship's upper decks, most from a multibed economy cabin on the fourth deck. He said they found none in the ship's third-deck canteen, as they had expected.

In addition to looking at possible overloading, prosecutors are also looking into whether the ferry was safe for operation after a redesign early last year. Modifications included adding extra passenger cabins, raising the passenger capacity by more than 150 people, and increasing the weight of the ship by almost 240 tons, the Korean Register said.

The changes were approved and met safety standards, but prosecutors are unsure whether the ship's owner made additional changes afterward. It is also not clear if Chonghaejin Marine followed a request from inspectors to take measures to ensure the ship remained balanced in case of tilting.

Appearing in front of the media on Tuesday, detained crew members of the ship said that it had poor stability and problems with its steering.

"If the investigation proves that they have violated the laws, the ferry operator's license will be revoked. We're reviewing such a possibility," said a director at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

Chonghaejin Marine has referred all inquiries to a lawyer, Son Byoung-gi.

"We'll announce our position after the current investigation is completed," Mr. Son said when asked for the company's position on the speculation that remodeling of the ship may have violated laws, or if passenger and cargo load were excessive.

"If there is any legal responsibility, the owners are willing to offer their wealth and assets to help compensate the victims," he added.

Speculation about possible lax enforcement of regulations has also turned a spotlight on the Korea Shipping Association, which is responsible for inspecting ships for safety ahead of travel, including whether cargo is stored correctly.

Experts have questioned whether the group, which is a lobby group for ferry and cargo boat operators, has a conflict of interest in being charged with enforcing regulations on its members.

Yun Jong-hwui, a professor at Korea Maritime and Ocean University, noted key government officials also move to the association, creating a disincentive for the maritime ministry to enforce stringent rules on former bosses.

"South Korean law and systems aren't undeveloped. It is a matter of upholding them" while separating the personal relationships from professional obligations, Mr. Yun said.

On Monday, President Park Geun-hye questioned whether the association's practice of recruiting senior maritime ministry officials had contributed to lax enforcement of regulations.

The Korea Shipping Association and maritime ministry declined to comment.

The chaotic last moments of the Sewol also have raised questions about whether the crew were able to deal with emergencies. Prosecutors have said that interviews with crew members have revealed that they hadn't received standard safety training.

Chonghaejin's audit report for last year showed the company spent 541,000 won ($521) on crew training, including evacuation drills, as it ran an operating loss of 785 million won in 2013—its worst in 10 years. In comparison, Daea Express Shipping Co., which runs four ferries on the one hour Incheon-Deokjuk island route, spent 11.14 million won on crew training last year.

Prosecutors on Wednesday morning raided the offices of Chonghaejin Marine and its affiliates, as well as the residence of the firm's owner, Yoo Byung-eun, and the companies he owns, said Kim Hoe-jong, a senior prosecutor at the Incheon District Prosecutor's Office.

Mr. Yoo served a four-year jail term in the early 1990s for fraud, according to Reuters and local media reports. Mr. Yoo couldn't be reached for comment.

Authorities have also issued a foreign travel ban for more than 50 Chonghaejin executives, shareholders and family owners of the company that operated the sunken ferry, according to prosecutors and police officers.

The sinking last week marks a second accident for Chonghaejin in less than a month. Another smaller ferry operated by the company, the Democracy 5, collided with a small fishing boat on March 28 on its way from Incheon to the island of Baengnyong in the Yellow Sea. The Ohamana, a ferryboat that plied the same Incheon-Jeju route as the Sewol, has also had engine trouble while at sea twice in the past few years.

—Kwanwoo Jun and Min Sun Lee contributed to this article.

Write to In-Soo Nam at In-Soo.Nam@wsj.com, Min-Jeong Lee at min-jeong.lee@wsj.com and Jeyup S. Kwaak at jeyup.kwaak@wsj.com

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Selasa, 22 April 2014

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Supreme Court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban - Fox News

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:52 AM PDT

[unable to retrieve full-text content]

New York Daily News

Supreme Court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban
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Oct. 15, 2013: People line up to hear oral arguments, including the case Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, at the Supreme Court in Washington.reuters. The Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's affirmative action ban, ruling that the state has ...
Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Affirmative Action BanNew York Times
Supreme Court upholds Michigan's ban on affirmative actionDetroit Free Press
Michigan Voters Win, Affirmative Action Loses At Supreme CourtForbes
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Mt. Everest Hopeful Saw Friend Killed, Now Works for Sherpas - ABC News

Posted: 22 Apr 2014 09:24 AM PDT

He spent two years and more than $100,000 in an attempt to climb Mount Everest, only to get as close as a high altitude base camp where an avalanche killed his friend and crushed his ambition to reach the peak.

Ed Marzec, 67, watched as a behemoth sheet of ice cracked on Friday and buried the Sherpa, his close friend, who was to lead him to the mountain's top. At least 12 others were also killed in the avalanche, the most deadly climbing accident in Everest's history. Three additional Sherpas are missing and presumed dead.

Mt. Everest Climbs Called Off in Wake of Sherpa Deaths

"We heard this crack and everyone's head went up," a tearful Marzec told ABCNews.com in a phone call from the base camp in Nepal. "I saw a probably 150-foot section of ice just break loose and come straight down.

"This huge piece of ice broke into other pieces – the sizes of buses, houses, cars – and there was nothing they could do. They couldn't go forward, they couldn't go back."

Four days after the avalanche, Marzec is still at base camp, determined to help the Sherpas' families and see to it that the government begins paying them a fair wage.

On Friday, the Sherpas had left ahead of Marzec and other foreigners to set up camp, carrying tents and equipment.

Sherpa Guides 'Backbone' of Mt. Everest Expeditions

One of the bodies presumably buried in the ice belongs to Ash Gurung, 28, a Sherpa and father of two who had saved Marzec's life on an earlier trek when the retired Los Angeles attorney slipped off a trail at Yala Peak in Nepal.

Ash Gurung, one of the Sherpas presumably dead after the April 18, 2014, avalanche on Mt. Everest.

"All of a sudden I see this body jumping at me. He went out of his way, grabbed me and pushed me back on the trail. It saved my life," Marzec said. "I was so shocked by this. Even your family members – think about it, who would do that for you?"

Now Marzec is plagued by guilt.

"I think of my close friend, lying up there and I can see where he is at," Marzec said. "I am looking from my tent and I can see the dark spot where he was buried under the ice."

Marzec had hoped to become the oldest man to summit Everest.

"I've worked two years getting in shape, spent large amounts of money, but my sacrifice is nothing compared to the sacrifice of those 16 men for all of us," he said.

Sherpas told The Guardian they have decided to abandon climbing season this year after the horrific deaths.

Marzec respects their wishes and has shifted his focus to helping the families of the fallen Sherpas.

"That's more important than just climbing the mountain," he said.

Ed Marzec, 67, on Yala Peak in Nepal 2013. He hoped to scale Mt. Everest this year.

Sherpas are boycotting for Nepal's government to provide more insurance money and financial aid for victims' families.

After the avalanche, the government said it would pay the families of fallen Sherpas $415, The Associated Press reported.

Sherpas want more, and it's a small price to pay considering how much Westerners pay to climb Mt. Everest, Marzec said.

Guided expeditions can cost between $30,000 and $100,000. Sherpas earn about $5,000 a year.

Marzec has launched an online fund to raise cash for Gurung's family, and another to support Sherpas who will be out of work this season.

"I'm sitting right here looking at bags in front of his tent that belong to Ash, and have all of his worldly belongings in them," he said. "They're taking them back to his wife and family. And it's very difficult to deal with this and to see this.

"Everest is a very raw place. There is no room for emotions. But this is hard for me."

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Isnin, 21 April 2014

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San Jose airport security under scrutiny after Santa Clara boy survives flight to ... - San Jose Mercury News

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 09:08 AM PDT

A 16-year-old boy, seen sitting on a stretcher center, who stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui is loaded into an

A 16-year-old boy, seen sitting on a stretcher center, who stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui is loaded into an ambulance at Kahului Airport in Kahului, Maui, Hawaii Sunday afternoon, April 20, 2014. The boy survived the trip halfway across the Pacific Ocean unharmed despite frigid temperatures at 38,000 feet and a lack of oxygen, FBI and airline officials said. FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu told The Associated Press on Sunday night that the boy was questioned by the FBI after being discovered on the tarmac at the Maui airport with no identification. "Kid's lucky to be alive," Simon said. (AP Photo/The Maui News, Chris Sugidono) (Chris Sugidono)

Click photo to enlarge

A 16-year-old boy, seen sitting on a stretcher center, who stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui is loaded into an ambulance at Kahului Airport in Kahului, Maui, Hawaii Sunday afternoon, April 20, 2014. The boy survived the trip halfway across the Pacific Ocean unharmed despite frigid temperatures at 38,000 feet and a lack of oxygen, FBI and airline officials said. FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu told The Associated Press on Sunday night that the boy was questioned by the FBI after being discovered on the tarmac at the Maui airport with no identification. "Kid's lucky to be alive," Simon said. (AP Photo/The Maui News, Chris Sugidono)

SAN JOSE -- Authorities say a 16-year-old Santa Clara boy is "lucky to be alive" after he ran away from home, clandestinely scaled a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport, and hid inside the wheel well of a plane flying from California to Hawaii in a case that has raised immediate questions about airport security beyond the terminals.

A congressman who serves on the Homeland Security committee said the startling episode was a reminder of how significant gaps still exist even in an era of ultra-tight airport security that has been in place for a dozen years.

"I have long been concerned about security at our airport perimeters. #Stowaway teen demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed," tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Hayward.

Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said the SJC's security program "meets and exceeds all federal requirements" and works closely with the Transportation Security Administration and the San Jose Police Department. But the perimeter fence where the boy trespassed, which was caught on surveillance video, is monitored by the airport.

"No security program is 100 percent," Barnes said. "We're continuing to review video to determine where in fact he was able to scale the section of fence line, how he as able to proceed onto a ramp and get himself into the wheel well of that aircraft."

Barnes said the boy, under "cover of darkness," climbed a perimeter fence sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning. He then walked or ran across the airport ramp and got inside the wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines flight 45 that left San Jose at 7:55 a.m. and landed five-and-a-half hours later at Kahului Airport in Maui.

The Hawaiian Airlines gate is the northernmost gate at the airport, and the northwest area of the airport grounds is not a heavily occupied. Barnes said that overnight, most of the gates are occupied by planes, and the first bank of flights typically depart starting at 6:30 a.m.

Also likely to be under close examination is the actual fencing that was designed to keep out intruders like the teen.

"It's typically six feet and in some sections they'll put barbed wire at the top of that," Barnes said. "We have 1,050 acres. That's a lot of fence line. He could have scaled the fence line really through any area here at the airport. It's very easy to do so under the cover of darkness, and it appears that's what he did."

That the boy survived literally puts him rarefied air, as several similar stowaways in the past have died from frigid temperatures, lack of oxygen or being ejected from the plane as the landing gear is lowered.

The last known person to survive as a stowaway in a flight that long was Fidel Maruhi, who in 2000 also hitched a ride in a wheel well from Tahiti to Los Angeles, a seven-plus-hour and 4,000-mile trip where the temperature dropped to nearly minus-50 degrees Fahrenheit.

In August, a 13- or 14-year-old boy in Nigeria survived a 35-minute trip in the wheel well of a domestic flight after stowing away. Authorities credited the flight's short duration and altitude of about 25,000.

The Santa Clara teen was questioned by the FBI after being discovered on the tarmac at the Maui airport Sunday morning with no identification, Simon said.

"Doesn't even remember the flight," FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu told The Associated Press on Sunday night. "Kid's lucky to be alive."

The boy had run away from his family after an argument, Simon said, adding that when the Boeing 767 landed in Maui, the boy hopped down from the wheel well and started wandering around the airport grounds.

"He was unconscious for the lion's share of the flight," Simon said.

Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle said airline personnel noticed the boy on the ramp after the flight arrived and immediately notified airport security.

A photo taken by a Maui News photographer shows the boy sitting upright on a stretcher as authorities get ready to load him into an ambulance. Simon said the boy was medically screened and found to be unharmed.

The boy was released to child protective services and not charged with a crime, and TSA alerted the boy's parents. San Jose police said "the incident will be reviewed to determine if charges will be filed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Russian Foreign Minister Accuses Kiev of Flouting Ukraine Accord - New York Times

Posted: 21 Apr 2014 08:55 AM PDT

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Firstpost

Russian Foreign Minister Accuses Kiev of Flouting Ukraine Accord
New York Times
A pro-Russia activist hung a flag on the regional administration building seized by separatists as armed men guarded a building in Slovyansk. Credit Genya Savilov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Continue reading the main story. Continue reading ...
Biden in Ukraine as Russia accuses Kiev of breaking dealUSA TODAY
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Russian Minister Accuses Kiev of Violating Geneva Agreement--UpdateWall Street Journal
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Pope Francis prays for peace in Ukraine, Syria in Easter greeting - Fox News

Posted: 20 Apr 2014 08:48 AM PDT

April 20, 2014: Pope Francis blesses the faithful with incense as he arrives to celebrate Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Marking Christianity's most hopeful day, Pope Francis made an Easter Sunday plea for peace and dialogue in Ukraine and Syria, for an end to terrorist attacks against Christians in Nigeria and for more attention to the hungry and neediest close to home.

Well over 150,000 tourists -- Romans and pilgrims, young and old -- turned out for the Mass that Francis celebrated at an altar set up under a canopy on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.

So great were their numbers that they overflowed from sprawling St. Peter's Square, which was bedecked with row after row of potted daffodils, sprays of blue hyacinths and bunches of white roses. Waving flags from the pope's native Argentina as well as from Brazil, Mexico, Britain, Poland and many other countries, they also filled the broad boulevard leading from the square to the Tiber River.

Easter is the culmination of Holy Week and marks Christian belief that Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion.

Francis noted that this year the Catholic church's celebration of Easter coincided with that of Orthodox churches, which have many followers in Ukraine.

Francis prayed that God would "enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine, so that all those involved, with the support of the international community, will make every effort to prevent violence."

In eastern Ukraine, the holiday was marred by a deadly shooting Sunday fueled by tensions between pro-Russian supporters in the east and those loyal to an interim government in Kiev. The clash appeared to defy an international agreement reached last week in hopes of ending months of unrest.

Francis also prayed that all sides in Syria will be moved to "boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue." Syria has been wracked by a three-year civil war that has cost 150,000 lives and forced millions to flee the country.

Christians make up about 5 percent of Syria's population. In comments to mark Easter there, the Greek Orthodox patriarch vowed that Christians there "will not submit" to extremists who attack "our people and holy places."

Francis makes a pilgrimage to Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Israel next month, so on Easter he prayed that hopes sparked by the resumption of Mideast peace negotiations will be sustained.

Thousands of pilgrims from around the world flocked to the celebrate Easter in the Holy Land, where Christian communities, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, have been declining as the faithful flee regional turmoil.

Francis also spoke of those suffering in Africa from an epidemic of deadly Ebola and urged a halt to "brutal terrorist attacks" in parts of Nigeria.

Nigerians marked Easter with heightened security against a spreading Islamic uprising, mourning the deaths of 75 bomb blast victims and fearful of the fate of 85 abducted schoolgirls. The homegrown terror network Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for last week's rush-hour explosion in the capital, Abuja, and threatened more attacks.

In Venezuela, there have been hopes Vatican mediation can help end the country's violent political unrest, and Francis urged that "hearts be turned to reconciliation and fraternal concord" there.

But Francis' Easter message also urged people to pay attention to the needy close to home. He said the "good news" of Easter's joy means "leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life's troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast."

He denounced the `'scourge of hunger," which he said was `'aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible."

Francis has set an austere tone in his papacy, forsaking an ornate apostolic palace apartment for a simple guesthouse on the Vatican grounds and rejecting limousines for regular cars.

Cheering and applauding, the crowd tried to catch a glimpse of the pontiff as he circled around in his white popemobile before going to the basilica's balcony to deliver his commentary.

Reflecting the worldwide reach of the Catholic church, faithful read aloud prayers and passages from the Bible in Hindi, French, Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Italian and English.

Ukraine Accord Doubts Grow as Protesters Refuse to Disarm - Bloomberg

Posted: 20 Apr 2014 08:36 AM PDT

Pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine defied pleas to disarm as officials in Kiev pledged to honor an accord reached in Geneva and an international group began expanding its presence to help defuse the crisis.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's government suspended anti-terrorist operations in eastern Ukraine and said it was ready to pursue constitutional revisions. A protest leader in Donetsk refused to disarm and vacate seized property until Yatsenyuk's administration steps down.

Russia's foreign ministry blamed the Ukrainian nationalist group Pravyi Sektor for an overnight clash in the eastern region of Slovyansk that left one person dead -- a charge that Pravyi Sektor quickly denied in a statement. Viktoria Syumar, first deputy head of the National Security and Defense Council in Kiev, said on her Facebook account Russia's accusation and statements show it is preparing grounds to invade Ukraine.

The discord adds to skepticism about whether Ukraine, the U.S., and the European Union will be able to use the Geneva accord to hold Vladimir Putin accountable for easing tensions the Russian president says he's had no role in creating.

Yatsenyuk said yesterday Ukraine would act against extremists after anti-Semitic fliers were distributed in Donetsk this week by ordering the military and police to respond.

The forces were told "to find these bastards and bring them to justice," Yatsenyuk told NBC's "Meet the Press" broadcast in an interview recorded yesterday.

Mykhaylo Dobkin, the presidential candidate from ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions, yesterday criticized the government's approach to the demonstrations.

'Won't Accept'

"The current authorities see some protesters as legitimate, and others as separatists who must be disarmed," Dobkin said in an interview in Kharkiv. Protesters in the southeast "won't accept that. They won't put down their weapons unilaterally," he said.

One international effort to defuse the crisis is expanding its ranks in Ukraine. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a 57-nation group that includes Russia and Ukraine, will increase its monitors to 300, up from 100 now, with a goal to soon have 500, Michael Borciurkiw, a spokesman for the Ukrainian special monitoring mission, told the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. and EU officials have emphasized their readiness to deepen sanctions against Russia, which they say has massed troops near Ukraine's border and is fomenting unrest after annexing Crimea last month.

The developments don't mean Russia is "necessarily reneging on the deal, as it is more of an effort for them to test the deal" and see how they can "avoid sanctions without trying to change the situation on the ground," John Herbst, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said April 18.

Talks With Tymoshenko

"Realistically, no one is going to claim the deal is going to fall apart within 18 to 20 hours of conclusion," Herbst said by phone, adding that he expected no decision on further sanctions until April 21 or 22 "at the earliest."

Some 77 percent of people in eight eastern and southern Ukrainian regions are against armed protesters taking over local administrative buildings, Kiev-based weekly Zerkalo Nedeli reported, citing a poll it commissioned from the Kiev International Institute of Sociology.

Only 7 percent of those surveyed said they would definitely support their region joining Russia, while 54 percent were definitely opposed, according to the survey.

Denis Pushilin, a leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, which has seized buildings in the east Ukrainian city, reiterated yesterday that he refused to leave.

Talks with Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko, who traveled to the region for talks with the protesters, yielded no agreement beyond plans to meet again, he said yesterday by text message.

Watching Closely

The group, which is seeking greater autonomy from the central government in Kiev, doesn't recognize the current leaders after the ouster of Yanukovych in February.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama expects Russia to use its influence over militias in Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies "remain ready to impose additional costs" if terms of the agreement aren't followed, she said.

"It's not the words, it's the actions, so we will be watching very closely over the coming days," Rice said April 18 in Washington.

Russia is "disappointed" by the U.S. assessments of the talks, while threats of new sanctions are "completely unacceptable," the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said.

Deadline Set

Putin called on European leaders and other governments interested in helping Ukraine's economy to make sure the country is able to pay for its gas. He set a one-month deadline for payments to resume on April 17.

"We don't want to undermine the Ukrainian economy or raise any questions about the reliability of transit supplies to Europe," Putin said in an interview with Sergey Brilev shown yesterday on Russian state-run television.

The EU relies on Russia for about 35 percent of its crude oil needs and 30 percent of its gas, according to European Commission data. In addition to the prospect that Russia might curb gas supplies to nations that support tougher sanctions, there's the prospect of lost business if the crisis escalates.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), based in The Hague, said April 18 that it planned to expand an oil and natural gas project in Russia's Far East after Chief Executive Office Ben van Beurden won a promise of support from Putin at a meeting near Moscow.

Russian Stocks

Russian stocks in the five days ended April 18 rose the most in more than three weeks in Moscow, paring this year's decline to 9.8 percent. The ruble weakened as investors have been selling Russian securities, causing the currency to depreciate 7.6 percent against the dollar this year.

Officials from the U.S. Treasury Department and the National Security Council told money managers this month in Washington that the administration was planning more sanctions against Russia, according to a person who attended and asked not to be identified because the discussions weren't public.

If the Geneva deal fails and the crisis worsens, a key factor for eastern EU leaders will be how fast Putin moves in Ukraine and other Russian-speaking regions, such as the breakaway Moldovan territory of Transnistria, according to a person present at a recent EU summit.

Despite the tough talk and NATO moves to bolster its military presence in central and eastern Europe, Putin may be betting that the U.S. and EU are too divided to agree on significant sanctions unless Russia begins an outright invasion of Ukraine, two U.S. officials said April 18. Both requested anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations.

"Putin's big advantage is that he is facing an opponent that has completely split views," Michael Romancov, a political scientist at Charles University in Prague, said by phone. "The hard-line attitude from a few countries like Poland won't achieve anything, unless there's a united front."

To contact the reporters on this story: Jake Rudnitsky in Kharkiv at jrudnitsky@bloomberg.net; Stepan Kravchenko in Donetsk at skravchenko@bloomberg.net; Kateryna Choursina in Kiev at kchoursina@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net Scott Rose, Randall Hackley

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Sabtu, 19 April 2014

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Captain, two crew members arrested in South Korea ferry disaster - The Globe and Mail

Posted: 19 Apr 2014 08:46 AM PDT

The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

Reuters Apr. 19 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

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The number of confirmed dead rose to 32 when three bodies were found in the murky water near the ferry, said coast guard spokesman Kim Jae-in. Divers know at least some bodies remain inside the vessel, but they have been unable to get inside.

The ferry's captain, Lee Joon-seok, 68, was arrested along with one of the Sewol's three helmsmen and the 25-year-old third mate, prosecutors said.

"I am sorry to the people of South Korea for causing a disturbance and I bow my head in apology to the families of the victims," Lee told reporters Saturday morning as he left the Mokpo Branch of Gwangju District Court to be jailed. But he defended his much-criticized decision to wait about 30 minutes before ordering an evacuation.

"At the time, the current was very strong, the temperature of the ocean water was cold, and I thought that if people left the ferry without (proper) judgment, if they were not wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties," Lee said. "The rescue boats had not arrived yet, nor were there any civilian fishing ships or other boats nearby at that time."

The Sewol sank off South Korea's southern coast Wednesday with 476 people aboard, most of them students on holiday from a single high school. More than 270 people are still missing, and most are believed to be trapped inside the 6,852-ton vessel.

By the time the evacuation order was issued, the ship was listing at too steep an angle for many people to escape the tight hallways and stairs inside. Several survivors told The Associated Press that they never heard any evacuation order.

Divers fighting strong currents and rain have been unable to get inside the ferry. A civilian diver saw three bodies inside the ship Saturday but was unable to break the windows, said Kwon Yong-deok, a coast guard official. Hundreds of civilian, government and military divers were involved in the search Saturday.

Senior prosecutor Yang Jung-jin told reporters that the third mate was steering the ship Wednesday morning as it passed through an area with lots of islands clustered close together and fast currents. Investigators said the accident came at a point where the ship had to make a turn, and prosecutor Park Jae-eok said investigators were looking at whether the third mate ordered a turn so sharp that it caused the vessel to list.

Yang said the third mate has six months of experience, and hadn't steered in the area before because another mate usually handles those duties. She took the wheel this time because heavy fog caused a departure delay, Yang said, adding that investigators do not know whether the ship was going faster than usual.

Helmsman Park Kyung-nam identified the third mate as Park Han-kyul. The helmsman who was arrested, 55-year-old Cho Joon-ki, spoke to reporters outside court and accepted some responsibility.

"There was a mistake on my part as well, but the steering had been turned much more than usual," Cho said.

Lee has four decades of experience at sea. He had been captaining ferries for 10 years by the time he was interviewed by the Jeju Today website in 2004, and said he had sailed on ocean freighters for 20 years before that.

But he was not the Sewol's main captain, and worked on the ship about 10 days a month, helmsman Oh Yong-seok said.

Lee was not on the bridge when the ship began to list. "I gave instructions on the route, then briefly went to the bedroom when it happened," he told reporters.

According to the court, Lee faces five charges, including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law, and the two other crew members each face three related charges.

Lee was required by law to be on the bridge helping his crew when the ferry passed through tough-to-navigate areas, said Yang, the senior prosecutor.

Yang said Lee also abandoned people in need of help and rescue, saying, "The captain escaped before the passengers." Video aired by Yonhap news agency showed Lee among the first people to reach the shore by rescue boat.

Yang said the two crew members arrested failed to reduce speed near the islands and failed to carry out necessary measures to save lives.

It's not clear why the two crew members made the sharp turn, Yang said. He said prosecutors would continue to look into whether something other than the turn could have made the ferry sink, but he added that there were no strong waves that could have knocked down the ferry at the time.

Prosecutors will have 10 days to decide whether to indict the captain and crew, but can request a 10-day extension from the court.

The Sewol had left the northwestern port of Incheon on Tuesday on an overnight journey to the holiday island of Jeju in the south with 323 students from Danwon High School in Ansan among its passengers. It capsized within hours of the crew making a distress call to the shore a little before 9 a.m. Wednesday.

A transcript of a ship-to-shore radio exchange shows that an official at the Jeju Vessel Traffic Services Center recommended evacuation just five minutes after the Sewol's distress call. But helmsman Oh told the AP that it took 30 minutes for the captain to give the evacuation order as the boat listed.

With only 174 known survivors and the chances of survival increasingly slim, it is shaping up to be one of South Korea's worst disasters, made all the more heartbreaking by the likely loss of so many young people, aged 16 or 17. The country's last major ferry disaster was in 1993, when 292 people were killed.

The last bit of the ferry that had been above water — the dark blue keel — disappeared below the surface Friday night. Navy divers attached underwater air bags to the ferry to prevent it from sinking deeper, the Defence Ministry said.

Three vessels with cranes arrived at the accident site to prepare to salvage the ferry, but they will not hoist the ship before getting approval from family members of those still believed inside because the lifting could endanger any survivors, said a coast guard officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.

Coast guard official Ko Myung-seok said 176 ships and 28 planes were mobilized to search the area around the sunken ship Saturday, and that more than 650 divers were trying to search the interior of the ship. The coast guard also said a thin layer of oil was visible near the area where the ferry sank; about two dozen vessels were summoned to contain the spill.

Reuters Apr. 18 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

More Related to this Story

Donetsk Greets The Ukraine Crisis With a Shrug - TIME

Posted: 19 Apr 2014 08:11 AM PDT

Pro-Russian protesters play soccer in front of a barricade outside a regional government building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine April 19, 2014.
Pro-Russian protesters play soccer in front of a barricade outside a regional government building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine April 19, 2014. Marko Djurica—Reuters
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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.

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