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NEWS   SUNDAY, APRIL 26, 2015   NEWS

Veteran Defense Lawyers See Possible Criminal Inquiry For Clintons
With a sitting Democratic senator recently indicted on federal bribery and corruption charges, top criminal defense lawyers in the nation’s capital say Democratic presidential front runner Hillary Clinton could conceivably face similar scrutiny, amid mounting disclosures about the tangled finances of her family’s philanthropic foundation. The new book “Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer, an investigative reporter affiliated with the right-leaning Hoover Institution, has unleashed a torrent of conflict-of-interest allegations relating to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s own conduct during her tenure, from 2009 to 2013, as secretary of state. Fox News
VOA VIEW: More than possible - very real criminal activity.

Armenian-American Writers Disappointed With Obama Over Non-Genocide Statement On Armenian Genocide
Armenian-American journalists participated in a panel discussion on coverage of the Armenian Genocide and expressed disappointment over President Barack Obama’s failure to call the 1915-1918 massacre of 1.2 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks “genocide.” They also criticized the “failure of coverage” by the White House Press Corps in raising the issue in light of Pope Francis’s recent comments on the Armenian Genocide. In his Apr. 23 statement for Armenian Remembrance Day, President Obama called the killing of an estimated 1.2 million Armenians “the first mass atrocity of the 20th century,” and used other words such as “terrible carnage,” a “painful legacy,” and a “dark chapter of history.” But Obama did not use the word genocide, which, in 2008, he said he would do if elected president. CNS News

Washington Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Overhaul
Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Friday signed a bill that will overhaul the state's medical marijuana market, reconciling the long unregulated system with the voter-approved recreational pot industry. While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, voters in Washington state and Colorado approved recreational cannabis use in landmark votes in 2012 that ushered in licensed and taxed retail stores offering a range of products to adults. But in Washington state, a loosely regulated medical marijuana industry has run alongside the recreational-use system. "Until today, our system has been completely unregulated," Inslee said in a statement. "Today, after tremendous hard work and compromise by legislators on both sides of the aisle, I signed a bill that will create a medical marijuana system that works for Washington." Reuters

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California Drought Drives An 'Explosive,' Longer Wildfire Season
There was a time when fire season in California started around May and went through September. Now, thanks to a drought that's stretching into its fourth year, the state seems to have become a year-round tinderbox. The long running drought has "created explosive fire conditions," said Mike Mohler, a fire captain with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). "Five years ago without a drought in California you would still get wildland fires. But the vegetation wouldn't burn as quickly. Now there's zero moisture and you get explosive fire growth." MSNBC

March For Marriage Expected To Bring Thousands To Capitol Hill
For the third time, thousands of people will gather on Capitol Hill to make two statements: marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and children deserve both a mom and a dad. Saturday’s March for Marriage is intended to demonstrate that the issue of gay marriage is not settled or inevitable, but resisted by large swaths of the U.S. population. “This is the most critical march ever. It is our last, best opportunity to reach the U.S. Supreme Court before they decide whether marriage as it has existed throughout our history is unconstitutional,” said the National Organization for Marriage, the main organizer of the march. Washington Times

Feds: No Need Yet To Fret About Ice Cream Safety
Is ice cream safe to eat? Federal officials say yes, even amid recalls by two ice cream companies after the discovery of listeria bacteria in their frozen confections. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there's no reason to think listeria illnesses and deaths linked to Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries and the discovery of listeria in a sample of Ohio-based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams are related. "Based upon what we know now, there is no connection between these two ice cream companies nor any reason to suspect that ice cream as a whole poses any special foodborne disease risk," said CDC's Dr. Robert Tauxe. CBS

Dollar Drops For Second Week As Economic Misses Cloud Fed Outlook
The dollar dropped for a second week as data on the world’s largest economy persistently trailed forecasts, raising questions about whether the Federal Reserve will have scope to raise interest rates this year. The greenback fell against most of its major peers as orders of durable goods, manufacturing, and new home sales all came in weaker-than-projected. Fed officials will decide on monetary policy on April 29, the same day a report is projected to first quarter economic growth slowed. Bloomberg

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Hillary Clinton May Have A Hard Time Talking Campaign Finance
New information about donations to Hillary Clinton's family foundation and her husband have her on the defensive. It's also going to make it harder to go on offense.
When Clinton announced her campaign, she outlined four big fights she would take on. One of the pillars of her pitch was that she wanted to fix "our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment." CBS

Euro Ministers Alarmed As Bloc Shuts Down Greece Plan B
Europe’s refusal to draw up contingency plans to prepare for the failure of negotiations with Greece is alarming some euro-area finance ministers. Slovenian finance chief Dusan Mramor led the calls at a meeting of the bloc’s 19 finance chiefs on Friday to consider a “plan B” to mitigate the fallout if negotiations with Greece fail. Several others raised similar concerns during official talks and in private conversations at a meeting in Riga, Latvia, on Friday, two people with knowledge of the discussions said. “What my discussion was about was what we will do if no new program will be achieved in time for Greece to be able to refinance itself or improve liquidity,” Mramor told reporters on Saturday. “A plan B can be anything.” Bloomberg

With Legalization, Lawyers Turn To Business Of Pot
Law firms and marijuana have long intersected in criminal court. But as pot goes mainstream, firms are getting into the business side of the multi-billion-dollar industry.
Over the past several years, small and mid-sized firms have started marijuana divisions that advise pot-related businesses about issues such as where they can locate, what their websites and product labels can say and how to vet new clients. Experts say the work is not without its perils. While numerous states have legalized medical marijuana and some have even approved recreational use, the drug remains illegal under federal law. Las Vegas Sun

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Cecily Strong ‘Terrified’ To Host The White House Correspondents' Dinner
The “Girl You Wished You Never Started a Conversation With at a Party” is about to host Washington’s biggest party. That’s right, “Saturday Night Live’” cast member Cecily Strong, whose irritating party persona quickly become an “SNL” fan favorite, will headline this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a lavish event where the press, politicos and the Hollywood elite mingle to hear President Obama crack a few jokes. ABC

As Contributions Fall, House GOP Rebels Blame Party Leaders
Tea party Rep. Thomas Massie voted in January against keeping John Boehner as House speaker. The Kentucky Republican also opposed GOP leaders this year when they tried avoiding a standoff with President Barack Obama over immigration and keeping open the Department of Homeland Security. Now, Massie is among some conservatives whose campaign contributions from business groups are lagging from where they were two years ago. Some say that's because GOP leaders are steering away donations in retribution for those votes. Las Vegas Sun

Prolonged Exposure To Air Pollution Linked To Brain Damage
A new study confirms that long-term exposure to air pollution -- even at low levels -- can lead to brain damage that precedes other neurological disorders associated with old age. Investigator Elissa Wilker of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, along with colleagues, published their findings in the journal Stroke. The team tested the effects of long-term exposure to PM2.5, or fine particles found in the air like dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid that measure less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Between 1995 and 2005, they used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyze the brain health of more than 900 healthy adults over the age of 60 living around Boston and New York. UPI

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Huge Rally Held In Support Of Veteran Who Prevented Flag-Walking Protest
Protesters at a south Georgia college waved American flags Friday in support of a military veteran issued a criminal trespass warning in a flag flap last week. Valdosta State University found itself mired in controversy when Air Force veteran Michelle Manhart took an American flag away from a group of student protesters trampling on it. The university fueled the furor when it sided with the students, saying they had a constitutional right to trample the flag in a protest over racism. Manhart was among the participants in the 90-minute afternoon rally, which took place after Valdosta canceled classes. Fox News

US Readying Hacking-Related Sanctions
The U.S. government is preparing to order the first round of sanctions against foreign entities or individuals involved in hacking, according to a senior Department of Justice official, in what will be the first test of the government's newest tool in cyber deterrence. The presidential authorization for cyber-specific economic sanctions, announced at the start of the month, is still "hot of the presses" in government time, but Deputy Assistant Attorney General for National Security Luke Dembosky told ABC News he "wouldn't expect it to take too long" before it's put to use. ABC

Hawaii Poised To Be First To Raise Smoking Age To 21
Hawaii is poised to be the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21 after the measure cleared the Legislature Friday. The bill prevents adolescents from buying, possessing or smoking traditional or electronic cigarettes. It is unclear if Gov. David Ige will sign the measure. Currently the legal age in Hawaii is 18. "The statistics show that if you keep people from smoking until they're 18, there's a three-in-one chance that they will never become a smoker. But if you can keep them from smoking until at least 21, you've got a 20-to-1 chance that they'll never become a smoker," said Hawaii state Sen. Roz Baker, a Democrat and chair of the Senate commerce and consumer protection committee. If signed into law, those under 21 breaking the rules would be subject to a $10 fine for the first offense and $50 fines for repeat offenses. It would take effect beginning January 2016. UPI

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7.8 Magnitude Quake Slams Nepal
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake centered less than 50 miles from Kathmandu rocked Nepal with devastating force early Saturday, killing at least 806 people -- and probably more -- in Nepal's capital city, authorities said. Afterwards, historic buildings in Kathmandu lay in rubble. The injured wound up being treated outside hospitals in chaotic scenes. Residents, terrorized by a seemingly endless series of aftershocks, huddled outdoors for safety. The death toll was reported by Nepal's Ministry of Home Affairs. But given that the rescue effort is still in its early stages and that people in outlying areas may well have been affected, as well, it seems probable the number will rise. CNN

New Violence Spurs U.S. Fear Of ISIS Spreading Like A Virus
U.S. counterterrorism officials are increasingly concerned that the Islamic State is growing in popularity far beyond its self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria and Iraq, with its philosophy "metastasizing" thousands of miles across the Muslim world, from West Africa to Central Asia. A number of smaller jihadi groups announced their affiliation with ISIS last fall, but there was no immediate uptick in terrorist incidents. Then in March, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunisia, and the tempo of violence has dramatically increased in the last week. MSNBC

U.S., Japan To Announce Expanded Security Pact
U.S. officials plan a “major announcement” Monday on expanding defense cooperation with Japan, White Houses aides said Friday. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Secretary of State John F. Kerry will make the announcement in New York with their Japanese counterparts ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official state visit to the White House on Tuesday. The two nations are expected to expand the areas of defense cooperation under new guidelines that cover Japan’s outlying islands. The Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are at the center of a territorial dispute with China, are to be included among Japan’s islands covered for defense. Washington Times

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Is Hamas Gaining Traction In Europe?
The 13th Palestinians in Europe Conference on Saturday one again catapulted Hamas’s activities into the spotlight.  The organizers of the event – the London-based Palestinian Return Center and the Palestinian Community in Germany –have ties to Hamas, according to Berlin’s domestic intelligence agency. An estimated 3,000 people pre-registered for the event. Some 200 protesters from the “Berlin against Hamas” campaign demonstrated against the conference, Radio Berlin-Brandenburg reported on Saturday. Dilek Kolat, a Berlin state senator from the Social Democrats who holds the Integration portfolio, attacked the conference for not distancing itself from the goal of eliminating Israel. “That is intolerable and unacceptable here in Berlin,” she said.  The conference logo shows a map of the Middle East without Israel, and the organizers call for the “right of return” of all Palestinians to Israel. Jerusalem Post

US Congress Marks Israel's Birthday With Action Against EU Boycott Efforts
Both chambers of Congress marked Israel's 67th birthday with action against efforts to boycott, divest and sanction the state. One day before the anniversary, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously agreed to attach an amendment to a bill that would "fast track" US President Barack Obama's trade negotiations with Europe, which suggests any new trade deal should discourage the EU from promoting BDS. "Fast-track" authority allows the US president to negotiate trade agreements that still require the approval of Congress, but that Congress cannot amend. Another Senate amendment passed last week also requires the executive to report the participation of foreign companies in BDS activities. Jerusalem Post

Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech Quits In Power Struggle
The chairman of the carmaker Volkswagen (VW), Ferdinand Piech, has resigned after a power struggle with chief executive Martin Winterkorn. Mr Piech had criticised his chief executive in an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, but did not specify the issue at stake. Mr Winterkorn has been widely tipped as VW's next chairman. Mr Piech and the Porsche family control 51% of VW. Volkwagen is the biggest car manufacturer in Europe. On 17 April, Volkswagen's five-member governing board gave its backing to Mr Winterkorn. BBC

Hopes Of Vaccine For Parkinson’s Sufferers
Scientists have raised hopes that they may be able to create a vaccine to block the progress of Parkinson’s disease. They believe new research provides evidence that an abnormal protein may trigger the condition. If the theory is correct, researchers say it might be possible to prime a person’s immune system – using a special vaccine – so it is ready to attack the rogue protein as it passes through the body. In this way, the protein would be prevented from destroying a person’s dopamine-manufacturing cells, where the disease inflicts its greatest damage. This new vision of Parkinson’s has been arousing excitement among researchers. “It has transformed the way we see Parkinson’s,” said Roger Barker, professor of clinical neurosciences at Cambridge University. Guardian

Cruz To Vegas High-Rollers: Bet On Me To Back Israel And Stop Iran Deal
The best comedian on the Las Vegas Strip on Saturday morning was Texas senator Ted Cruz. The first-term senator who was the first Republican to declare his campaign for the presidency in 2016 received a warm reception from nearly 800 attendees at the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) at the Venetian Hotel. He gave a speech packed with jokes, one-liners and even a Jay Leno impersonation as he sought to sell a rather establishment audience on his viability as a candidate. The Texas senator emphasized his steadfastness on key issues. “It isn’t complicated to come to the RJC and say you stand with Israel,” he said. “Unless you’re a blithering idiot, that’s what you say when you come to the RJC.” Guardian

Boko Haram Retakes Border Town From Nigerian Army
Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have forced hundreds of soldiers to flee the Marte, a border town in Nigeria, a local official and witnesses said Friday. "The terrorists, numbering over 2,000, appeared from various directions on Thursday and engaged the soldiers in Kirenowa town and adjoining communities in Marte," said Imamu Habeeb, a local community leader. "They fought with soldiers over the night and the fight continued today (Friday), forcing hundreds of soldiers to flee," he added from Borno state capital Maiduguri. Local fighter Shehu Dan Baiwa said the more than 2,000 fighters had been armed with bombs and tanks. "They used the weapons without restraint and succeeded in killing several people," he said. Telegraph

Meet The Ddoctor Who Is Convinced He Will Live To 150
An anti-ageing expert is convinced he will live until he is 150 and claims healthy Brits will live far longer than they expect. Dr Alex Zhavoronkov, director of the UK-based Biogerontology Research Foundation think-tank, argues that medical advancements and the widespread use of antibiotics mean that life expectancy is now much greater than we believe. And to test the theory he has committed himself to living a life that should give him the best chance of living to a ripe old age.  Telegraph

Nepal: Ban Sends His Condolences After Earthquake Hits Kathmandu Valley
The United Nations Secretary-General has sent his deepest condolences to the Government of Nepal and to everyone affected by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country today. “The reports of the devastation are still coming in and the numbers of people killed, injured and affected by this earthquake continue to rise,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement released today. A situation report released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said Nepal's Government currently reports between 700 and 1,000 people killed but with that number expected to rise, and no figures currently available on the total number of people affected. UN News

UN Chief Welcomes Progress In Fight Against Malaria, Calls For More Work To Continue Momentum
In a message to mark World Malaria Day today, the United Nations Secretary-General said that better access to insecticide-treated bed nets and greater availability of accurate diagnostics and effective treatment were the main reasons why the UN health agency reported in 2014 that the rate at which people are dying from malaria had halved since the turn of the century. “This tremendous achievement is clear proof that we can win the global fight against malaria,” said Ban Ki-moon today. “We have the tools and the know-how. But, we still need to invest in getting these tools to a lot more people if we are to further reduce the number of people becoming ill with malaria, and further cut the number of people who die each year.” UN News

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