’Piles and piles’ of bodies after South Sudan slaughter
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- The townsfolk believed the mosque was safe. They crammed inside as rebel forces in South Sudan took control of the town from government troops. But it wasn’t safe. Robbers grabbed their cash and mobile phones. Then gunmen came and opened fire on everyone, young and old.
The U.N. says hundreds of civilians were killed in the massacre last week in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s oil-producing Unity state, a tragic reflection of longstanding ethnic hostilities in the world’s newest country.
"Piles and piles" of bodies were left behind after the shootings, said Toby Lanzer, the top U.N. aid official in South Sudan. Many were in the mosque. Others were in the hospital. Still more littered the streets. The violence appears to have been incited in part by calls on the radio for revenge attacks, including rapes.
Thousands of people have been killed in violence in South Sudan since December, when presidential guards splintered and fought along ethnic lines. The violence later spread across the country as soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, tried to put down a rebellion led by Riek Machar, the former vice president and an ethnic Nuer.
Court has doubts about Ohio law barring campaign lies
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court appears to be highly skeptical of laws that try to police false statements during political campaigns, raising doubts about the viability of such laws in more than 15 states.
Justices expressed those concerns early and often Tuesday during arguments in a case challenging an Ohio law that bars people from recklessly making false statements about candidates seeking elective office.
The case has attracted widespread attention, with both liberal and conservative groups saying the law tramples on the time-honored, if dubious, tradition of political mudslinging. Critics say free speech demands wide-open debate during political campaigns, including protection for negative speech that may sometimes twist the facts.
The high court is not expected to rule directly on the constitutional issue because the current question before the justices is only a preliminary one: Can you challenge the law right away, or do you have to wait until the state finds you guilty of lying?
But the justices couldn’t resist going after the law itself, pointing out that the mere prospect of being hauled in front of state officials to explain comments made in the heat of an election has a chilling effect on speech.
Ukraine’s leader orders new ‘anti-terror’ operation; military plane reported hit by gunfire
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine’s acting president ordered security forces to resume "anti-terror" operations in the country’s east Tuesday after the bodies of two people allegedly abducted by pro-Russia insurgents were found and a military aircraft was reported to be hit by gunfire.
The twin developments -- which came just hours after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left Kiev, the Ukrainian capital -- raised fears that last week’s international agreement on easing Ukraine’s crisis was failing.
The agreement calls for all sides to refrain from violence and for demonstrators to vacate public buildings. It does not specifically prohibit security operations, but Ukraine suspended its so-called "anti-terrorist operation" after the accord.
Pro-Russia insurgents who have seized police stations and other public buildings in eastern Ukraine are defying the call to vacate, saying they were not party to the agreement by Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union.
In a statement, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said the two bodies found Tuesday in Slovyansk bore signs of torture. One of them was a member of the city council and a member of Turchynov’s party, he said.
Submarine company says it has recorded images of WWII wrecks off England
BOSTON (AP) -- An unmanned submarine has recorded some of the most detailed images of two American ships that sank off the coast of England during World War II, according to the Massachusetts company that surveyed the wreckage to mark the disaster’s 70th anniversary.
Bourne, Mass.-based Hydroid says they are the first high-definition sonar images of two ships sunk by German forces during Exercise Tiger, a rehearsal for the D-Day invasion. The torpedo attack on April 28, 1944, claimed the lives of 749 U.S. soldiers and sailors.
Richard "Bungy" Williams, a regional manager for Hydroid Europe, said the company was interested in exploring the area because of the upcoming anniversary of the attack. He said the images will be donated to the United Kingdom’s National Archive and local memorials.
The autonomous undersea vehicle recorded images of the two boats about 50 meters beneath the surface of the English Channel. Williams said divers have accessed the site before, but the submarine provided the highest quality images yet, including one showing a boat’s upturned stern.
"Using the AUV we could get down very close to the wreck," he said. Hydroid, a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, manufactures the vehicles.
Cries of anguish as parents ID kids from SKorea ferry
JINDO, South Korea (AP) -- For a moment there is silence in the tent where bodies from the ferry disaster are brought for identification. Then the anguished cries begin.
The families who line up here to view the decomposing bodies have not known for nearly a week whether they should grieve or not. Now that they know, they sound like they’re being torn apart.
"How do I live without you? How will your mother live without you?" a woman cried out Tuesday.
She was with a woman who emerged from the tent crying and fell into a chair where relatives tried to comfort her. One stood above her and cradled her head in her hands, stroking her face.
"Bring back my daughter!" the woman cried, calling out her child’s name in agony. A man rushed over, lifted her on his back and carried her away.
In eastern Ukraine, man posing as mayor keeps old mayor hostage
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) -- When armed men seized the police station in this eastern Ukrainian city, mayor Nelya Shtepa declared she was on their side. She changed her story a few days later. Then she disappeared -- the victim of an apparent abduction by the man who now lays claim to her job.
On Tuesday, she resurfaced, expressing support once again for the pro-Russia insurgents -- but possibly no longer as mayor.
The mayoral mess, which pits the flamboyant leopard print-clad Shtepa against a mysterious rival who favors black baseball caps, reflects the anger, confusion and lawlessness that have gripped eastern Ukraine as armed groups opposed to the country’s interim government seize police stations and government buildings.
In town after town in the beleaguered east, it’s hard to tell who’s in control -- and the situation in Slovyansk is just one of the most dramatic examples. Since the unrest began, pro-Russia insurgents have adopted a strategy of electing so-called people’s leaders: mayors and regional governors who claim to represent the people’s will, despite their questionable background and skills for the job. One reportedly is under criminal investigation, another is an Internet blogger.
Caught in the middle of the turmoil are bewildered and anxious residents, for whom daily life proceeds blocks away from seized buildings surrounded by barricades and manned by masked gunmen.
Scientists: Drones prove useful in unearthing archaeological mysteries in American Southwest
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Recently published research describes how archaeologists outfitted a customized drone with a heat-sensing camera to unearth what they believe are ceremonial pits and other features at the site of an ancient village in New Mexico.
The discovery of the structures hidden beneath layers of sediment and sagebrush is being hailed as an important step that could help archaeologists shed light on mysteries long buried by eroding desert landscapes from the American Southwest to the Middle East. The results of the research were published earlier this month in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
Since the 1970s, archaeologists have known that aerial images of thermal infrared wavelengths of light could be a powerful tool for spotting cultural remains on the ground. But few have had access to million-dollar satellites, and helicopters and planes have their limits.
Now, technology is catching up with demand.
Archaeologists can get quality images from very specific altitudes and angles at any time of day and in a range of weather using inexpensive drones and commercially available cameras that have as much as five times the resolution of those available just a few years ago. A basic eight-rotor drone starts at about $3,700.
Most guides decide to leave Everest in walkout following deadly avalanche
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Most Sherpa mountain climbers have decided to leave Mount Everest, a guide said Tuesday, confirming a walkout certain to disrupt a climbing season that was already marked by grief over the 16 lives lost in Everest’s deadliest disaster.
"It is just impossible for many of us to continue climbing while there are three of our friends buried in the snow," said Dorje Sherpa, an experienced Everest guide from the tiny Himalayan community that has become famous for its high-altitude skills and endurance.
"I can’t imagine stepping over them," he said of the three Sherpa guides who remain buried in ice and snow after Friday’s deadly avalanche. Thirteen bodies have been recovered.
The avalanche was triggered when a massive piece of glacier sheared away from the mountain along a section of constantly shifting ice and crevasses known as the Khumbu Icefall -- a teacherous area where overhanging immensities of ice as large as 10-story buildings hang over the main route up the mountain.
Special teams of Sherpas, known as Icefall Doctors, fix ropes through what they hope to be the safest paths, and use aluminum ladders to bridge crevasses. But the Khumbu shifts so much that they need to go out every morning -- as they were doing when disaster struck Friday -- to repair sections that have broken overnight and move the climbing route if needed.
Blow to affirmative action: Supreme Court OKs ban for Michigan universities
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.
The 6-2 decision upheld a voter-approved change to the Michigan Constitution that forbids the state’s public colleges to take race into account. That change was indeed up to the voters, the ruling said, over one justice’s impassioned dissent that accused the court of simply wanting to wish away inequality.
The ruling bolsters similar voter-approved initiatives banning affirmative action in education in California and Washington state. A few other states have adopted laws or issued executive orders to bar race-conscious admissions policies.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said voters in Michigan chose to eliminate racial preferences, presumably because such a system could give rise to race-based resentment. Kennedy said nothing in the Constitution or the court’s prior cases gives judges the authority to undermine the election results.
"This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it," Kennedy said.
Supreme Court hears copyright challenge to streaming TV
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Grappling with fast-changing technology, Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in the use of the internet.
The high court heard arguments in a dispute between television broadcasters and Aereo Inc., which takes free television signals from the airwaves and charges subscribers to watch the programs on laptop computers, smartphones and even their large-screen televisions. The case has the potential to bring big changes to the television industry.
But several justices expressed concern that a ruling for the broadcasters could hamper the burgeoning world of cloud computing, which gives users access to a vast online computer network that stores and processes information.
Justice Stephen Breyer said the prospect makes him nervous. "Are we somehow catching other things that would really change life and shouldn’t?" Breyer asked.
Paul Clement, representing the broadcasters, tried to assure the court it could draw an appropriate line between Aereo’s service and cloud computing generally. People who merely retrieve what they have stored should have no reason to worry, Clement said.