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NEWS     THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014     NEWS


Many Voters Say Obama Lies To The Country On Important Matters
About six in ten American voters think Barack Obama lies to the country on important matters some or most of the time, according to a Fox News poll released Wednesday. Thirty-seven percent think Obama lies “most of the time,” while another 24 percent say he lies “some of the time.” Twenty percent of voters say “only now and then” and 15 percent “never.” President Obama has been accused by political opponents and media fact-checkers alike of telling falsehoods.  Frequently cited: His repeated claim that under Obamacare “If you like your plan, you can keep it” and his insistence that “the day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.” Fox News
VOA VIEW: Obama lies every time his lips move.

Obama's Departing Health Chief Mulls U.S. Senate Run
Departing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who took withering criticism over the botched rollout of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. Sebelius, a former Kansas governor, is weighing overtures from Democrats who want her to run for the Senate seat occupied by Republican Pat Roberts, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified Democrats. It quoted one person said to have spoken directly with Sebelius as saying that she was thinking about the idea, but it was too soon to say how serious she was about it. Sebelius, who announced her resignation last week, is staying on the job until her successor, White House budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, is confirmed by the Senate. Reuters

Can Bloomberg's New Gun Control Group Take On The NRA?
A new gun-control organization founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will pour more than $50 million into promoting a "gun sense" agenda this year –- but it faces entrenched and well-funded groups that have long exerted a powerful influence on gun issues in America. Bloomberg's group, called Everytown for Gun Safety, is the largest single unified push for tighter restrictions yet organized by the billionaire and former politician who also founded the nationwide Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which spent about $1.7 million on lobbying efforts in 2013, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. MSNBC

The US Is Not A Democracy But An Oligarchy, Study Concludes
Oligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population. A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful.
"Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" analyzed extensive data, comparing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted between 1981 and 2002 with the expressed preferences of average and affluent Americans as well as special interest groups. UPI
VOA VIEW: If the rich and powerful were in actual control, there would not be as many freeloaders and as much government control.

Easter Lilies Toxic For Cats, FDA Warns
Easter lilies are popular in homes at this time of year, but they can be deadly for cats, a veterinarian warns. The same is true for Tiger, Asiatic, Day and Japanese Show lilies, said Dr. Melanie McLean, a veterinarian at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The entire lily plant -- leaf, pollen and flower -- is poisonous for cats. Eating just a couple of leaves or licking a few pollen grains off their fur can quickly cause kidney failure. A cat that's eaten part of a lily will vomit soon afterwards, but this may gradually lessen after two to four hours. Within 12 to 24 hours, the cat may start to urinate frequently. Urination may then stop if kidney failure occurs. If untreated, a cat will die within four to seven days after eating a lily, McLean said. CBS

Lawyers Who Cleared Christie Donated To RGA Before Report Released
The law firm that wrote the Chris Christie-sponsored report clearing the governor of any wrongdoing in the New Jersey bridge scandal made a sizable donation to the Republican Governors Association, which Christie heads, days before the report’s release. The law firm of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher donated $10,000 to the RGA nine days before it released a report – paid for by New Jersey taxpayers – blaming September’s  lane closures to the George Washington Bridge solely on aides and allies and pinned no responsibility on the governor, as reported today in  The Record of North Jersey. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher lawyers were paid $650 per hour for their work examining documents surrounding the lane closure that led to their report released March 24.  The law firm made its donation to the RGA March 18, according to tax records. ABC


Kim Jong Un's "Bad Hair Day" Sparks A Diplomatic To-Do
North Korea has made a diplomatic appeal to the British government to get a London salon out of its hair. The country's diplomats have complained to the Foreign Office about a hairdressing salon that put up a poster poking fun at distinctively coiffed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Foreign Office confirmed Wednesday it had received a letter from the North Korean embassy objecting to the poster, and was considering its response. The Evening Standard newspaper reported the letter urged Britain to take "necessary action to stop the provocation." CBS

Obama Counsels Students On Options To A 4-Year Degree
It would be a cultural shift, but the Obama administration is hoping to change the perception of two- and four-year universities and what is needed for success. Through two new skills-training programs, utilizing grant money announced in 2010, the administration is encouraging a competition to foster courses developed by industry at the community college level and an apprentice job scholarship program. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden appeared at a community college in Pittsburgh today to announce $500 million in grant funding for community college job-training programs and $100 million in funding for apprenticeship grants. ABC

Yellen’s Mind-The-Gap Goals Rule Says Rates Stay Low
For Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, monetary policy now is all about a simple rule familiar to any subway rider: Mind the gap. In her first major speech on her policy framework as Fed chair, Yellen said U.S. central bankers must be mindful of how short the Fed is of its goals of full employment and price stability. “The larger the shortfall of employment or inflation from their respective objectives, and the slower the projected progress toward those objectives, the longer the current target range for the federal funds rate is likely to be maintained,” Yellen said today to the Economic Club of New York. Bloomberg


GM Move To Freeze Lawsuits May Cut Customer Payouts By Billions
General Motors Co. (GM)’s move to freeze ignition-defect lawsuits in California and Texas has solid legal precedent behind it and could help slash customer demands for compensation by billions of dollars. GM asked federal judges in both states last week to delay litigation over the defect in several of its models until a U.S. bankruptcy judge in New York rules whether some accident victims’ claims can be brought without violating a sale order in its 2009 reorganization. The aggressive legal strategy runs the risk of further damaging GM’s image with lawmakers and the public. Offsetting that impact is GM’s customer-focused hiring of lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to advise on how to compensate people who had accidents in recalled Cobalts, Saturns and other GM models. Feinberg ran funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Bloomberg

Court To Decide If Political Candidates Can Face Prosecution For Lying
As political campaigns begin to heat up, the Supreme Court is deciding whether false accusations and mudslinging made during an election can be punished as a crime.
Addressing an issue of negative campaigning that now may be a fact of life in American politics, justices will consider a challenge to an Ohio law that bars false statements about political candidates. The case being heard next week has attracted national attention, with least 15 other states having similar laws. Groups across the political spectrum are criticizing the law as a restriction on the First Amendment right to free speech. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Making false statements against anyone should be punishable as slander.

A Year After Background Check Defeat, Modest Goals
Democratic worries about this November's elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama's effort to pass new curbs on firearms. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently said he needs additional votes before revisiting a proposed expansion of gun sale background checks that the Senate derailed last April. That has left advocates of tighter gun curbs hoping Reid will allow votes on more modest proposals, such as one by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to add convicted stalkers to the list of criminals barred from acquiring guns. Las Vegas Sun

Number Of Uninsured In States Embracing Obamacare Drops Significantly
The number of uninsured people has dropped 2.5 percentage points in states fully embracing the Affordable Care Act, according to Gallup. 21 states, including the District of Columbia, have expanded Medicaid and set up their own health insurance marketplace, resulting in a significant decline in the number of uninsured people aged 18 and older. These states had an uninsured rate of 16.1 percent that dropped to 13.6 percent -- a 2.5 percentage point drop. The other 29 states had an uninsured rate of 18.7 percent -- a difference of 2.6 percentage points from the remaining states -- which dropped marginally to 17.9 percent, though still maintaining a difference of 4.3 points. These 29 states have either implemented one of the two measures, or have completely boycotted the Affordable Care Act. UPI

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Census Changes May Obscure Impact Of ObamaCare
Not even the nation's official head-counter will be able to keep track of the comprehensive impact of ObamaCare, critics warn. The Census Bureau is in the midst of significantly changing its survey questions on health care, which some fear will make it difficult to give an accurate reading of how many people have gained insurance under the law. The change was first reported by The New York Times. Republicans are now accusing the administration of overhauling the survey in order to obscure the effects of the Affordable Care Act. "If the administration truly wants to know how many people have insurance today because of the health law, it will swiftly reverse course," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement. Fox News

Brain Scans May Predict If Patients Will Wake Up
It can be one of the most difficult diagnoses for a doctor to make: whether a brain-damaged patient is in a permanent vegetative state and will never wake up, or if he is in a minimally conscious state and may one day recover. In fact, for patients with significant swelling in the brain, a doctor's outcome prediction is currently "a little better than flipping a coin," researchers Jamie Sleigh and Catherine Warnaby write in The Lancet this week. However, a new study published with their editorial suggests that some types of brain imaging could make an accurate diagnosis much more likely. CNN


Obama, Biden Announce $600M For Job Grants
Urging the U.S. to keep up in the global skills race, President Barack Obama on Wednesday highlighted $600 million in new job-training grants that he said could help people land well-paying jobs. Obama joined Vice President Joe Biden and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker at a community college in western Pennsylvania, where the president declared that anyone willing to put in the effort should have opportunities and job training available to them. He said manufacturing jobs are coming back in the U.S., but the nation must make a choice about whether it's willing to do what's necessary to train its workforce for those jobs. "We sometimes sound like a broken record because we've been talking about this for six, seven, eight years, ever since we've been in public office," Obama said. "But it's more urgent than ever now that we move forward." CNS News

U.S. Court: Companies Can't Litigate Secretly To Protect Image
In a victory for consumers, a federal appeals court on Wednesday directed that litigation about a product linked to the death of an infant be made public, saying the manufacturer could not keep the details secret to protect its image. Overturning a lower court's findings, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said allowing the manufacturer known in court papers as Company Doe to maintain confidentiality "effectively shut out" the public and the press from their constitutional right to obtain access to civil proceedings. "A corporation very well may desire that the allegations lodged against it in the court of litigation be kept from public view to protect its corporate image, but the First Amendment right of access does not yield to such an interest," Circuit Judge Henry Floyd wrote for the appeals court. Reuters

Cantor Blasts Obama After Immigration Reform Call
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says that he and President Barack Obama clashed Wednesday during a phone conversation about immigration reform. One year after the Senate introduced its comprehensive immigration bill, which passed the upper chamber but has not been taken up by the GOP-led House, Obama issued a written statement criticizing Republican leaders for failing to take up the legislation. “We have a chance to strengthen our country while upholding our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote,” he said. Then Obama called Cantor, who blasted out a statement making clear that he was no fan of Obama’s message. MSNBC

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Feel Good Wednesday: Markets Up 1%
Investors did a happy dance on Wednesday as earnings, economic data and Janet Yellen brought good news. The Dow soared 162 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both bounced over 1%. Despite a lot of choppiness in the markets in recent weeks, Wednesday's gains marked the third consecutive win for the three major U.S. indexes. Federal Reserve Chief Yellen sent a clear message to Wall Street today to stop panicking about interest rates. "Interest rates will likely stay at current levels for a considerable time after asset purchase program ends," she said. CNN

Goodbye, Afghanistan — Hello, Africa: Air Force To Shift As U.S. Exits Middle East
As the war in Afghanistan begins to wind down, the Air Force foresees its resources shifting to Africa. Col. Kelly Passmore of the 449th Air Expeditionary Group commander at Camp Lemonnier said he believes it’s already happening. “Our presence here in Djibouti is enduring and I think it is growing,” Col. Passmore told Stars and Stripes. “As DOD has capacity that is freed up from our transition out of Afghanistan, it gives us forces that are able to now focus on this region.” Washington Times

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Iran On Target With Interim Nuclear Deal: Cuts High-Grade Uranium Stockpile In Half
Iran has diluted half of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium in observance with an agreement forged last fall with the international community, a UN report will confirm this week. That level of dilution amounts to a significant step in Western efforts to peacefully curb Iran's nuclear program, as enriching uranium to 20 percent constitutes the hardest part of the process toward the production of nuclear bombs. In exchange, world powers are abiding by their side of the deal, releasing the fifth of eight tranches of funds this week, providing modest sanctions relief on the Islamic Republic. Jerusalem Post

At White House Seder, Obama Sends Out Message Of Triumph Over Anti-Semitism
US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a Passover Seder at the White House on Tuesday, with the president saying that Americans are united against the terrible violence perpetrated by a gunman against Jewish targets in Kansas. In a special Passover message, Obama said that his prayers went out to the people of Overland Park in Kansas, and the family and friends of the three innocent people killed when a gunman, just one day before Passover, opened fire at a Jewish community center and retirement home. “As Americans, we will continue to stand united against this kind of terrible violence, which has no place in our society,” he said. “We will continue to come together across faiths to combat the ignorance and intolerance, including anti-Semitism, that can lead to hatred and violence. Jerusalem Post

Middle East Peace Talks Meeting Postponed After Killing
A meeting between Palestinian and Israeli peace negotiators has been postponed in the wake of a killing of an Israeli in the West Bank. A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said it had been rescheduled for Thursday. Israeli officials declined to give a reason, but the shooting of an off-duty policeman on Monday has caused outrage. The US has been struggling to persuade both sides to agree extend their direct talks beyond a 29 April deadline. The negotiations, which resumed last July after a three-year hiatus, appeared on the verge of collapse earlier this month when both sides took what Washington called "unhelpful steps". BBC

Bank Of America Reports $276m Loss After $6bn Legal Hit
Bank of America has posted a $276m (£165m) loss for January to March. Its results included $6bn in legal expenses to settle allegations that it misled mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the housing crisis in 2008, as well as for other mortgage-related matters. Revenue declined 3% compared with the first quarter of 2013, to $22.7bn. Nevertheless, the bank said it had "solid results" and that costs from its mortgage loans business fell by $1bn. In March, the firm agreed to pay $9.5bn (£5.7bn) to settle four lawsuits filed in 2011 by US regulatory agency, the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA). BBC

Kiev's Grip On Eastern Ukraine Weakens As Pro-Russians Seize Army Vehicles
For Kiev's beleaguered army it was meant to be a display of strength. Early on Wednesday a column of six armoured personnel carriers trundled through the town of Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine. Some 24 hours earlier Ukrainian soldiers had recaptured a small disused aerodrome. Their next target appeared to be Slavyansk, the neighbouring town, occupied by a shadowy Russian militia. Was victory close? The column didn't get far. At Kramatorsk's railway junction, next to an open-air market and a shop selling building materials, an angry crowd caught up with it. Next armed separatists dressed in military fatigues turned up too. Within minutes the Ukrainian soldiers gave up. Without a shot being fired they abandoned their vehicles. The pro-Russian gunmen grabbed them. They raised a Russian tricolour. They sat on top and went for a victory spin. Guardian

Pope Francis Urged To Back Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign
Religious groups have urged Pope Francis to back a campaign to encourage millions of people, organisations and investors to pull their money out of the fossil fuel industry. Multi-faith groups in Australia and North America have sent a letter to the pope saying it is "immoral" to profit from fossil fuels. The letter, shown exclusively to the Guardian, says 80% of global fossil fuel reserves must "stay in the ground" if dangerous climate change is to be avoided. "We urge you, as a person held in high esteem by many millions around the world, to speak clearly about the place of divestment from fossil fuels as one significant means to avert the worst of climate disruption," the letter says. Guardian

David Cameron Puts God Back Into Politics
Britain should be unashamedly “evangelical” about its Christian faith and actively hand churches and other faith groups a greater role in society, David Cameron has insisted. In a declaration of his personal beliefs, he said he had experienced the “healing power” of religion in his own life and insisted that Christianity could transform the “spiritual, physical, and moral” state of Britain and even the world. Writing in the Church Times, the Anglican newspaper, he heaped praise on the Church of England and described the UK as a “Christian country” despite saying we live in an increasingly “secular age”. Telegraph

Rwandan Genocide: Security Council Told Failure Of Political Will Led To ‘Cascade Of Human Tragedy’
The Security Council today marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide by calling on all countries to recommit to prevent and fight such serious crimes, as a senior United Nations official warned that many of today’s conflicts reveal that protection of populations from atrocities remains “lagging and elusive.” Unanimously adopting a new resolution during a special meeting devoted to commemorating what UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson referred to as “one of the darkest chapters in human history,” the Council underscored the importance of taking into account the lessons learned from those tragic 100 days in 1994, when genocide was committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed. UN News

Ahead Of Sendai Conference, Ban Pushes For 2015 Global Agreement On Disaster Risk
Disaster risk reduction and climate change are closely linked, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed, reiterating to the world community his key priorities through the next year as preparations continue for the 2015 world conference on reducing risk from natural disasters. “The aim is simple: to leave a more resilient world to future generations,” Mr. Ban told high-level representatives of Member States attending a briefing on the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held next year in the Japanese city of Sendai. UN News

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