Anger, grief swell in Turkey after 274 coal miners die; Many blame PM, gov’t

SOMA, Turkey (AP) -- In a relentless procession that ignited wails of grief and flashes of anger, rescue workers coated in grime lumbered out of a mine in western Turkey again and again Wednesday, struggling to carry bodies covered in blankets.

The corpses’ faces were as black as the coal they worked on daily. There were 274 of them -- and the fate of up to 150 other miners remained unclear in Turkey’s deadliest-ever mining disaster.

While emergency workers battled a toxic mix of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in deep tunnels, anger and despair engulfed the town of Soma, where Turkish officials said at least 274 miners died in Tuesday’s coal mine explosion and fire.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was heckled as he tried to show concern and anti-government protests erupted in Soma, Istanbul and Ankara, the capital. Erdogan had to seek refuge in a supermarket, surrounded by police, then leave in a black car after the protest in Soma died down. He also did little for his reputation by noting that workplace accidents are "ordinary things" that happen in many countries.

The display of anger could have significant repercussions for Erdogan, who is widely expected to run for president in the August election, although he has not yet announced his candidacy.


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Ukraine warily begins talks on ending crisis -- but its pro-Russia foes aren’t invited

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- European-backed peace talks on ending Ukraine’s crisis began with little promise Wednesday when pro-Russian insurgents -- who weren’t even invited to the session -- demanded that the Kiev government recognize their sovereignty.

The "road map" put forth by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe calls for national dialogue as a first step toward resolving the escalating tensions, in which the insurgents have seized government buildings in eastern Ukraine and declared independence, while government forces have mounted limited offensives to retake control of the region.

But instead of a dialogue, the day was more a case of competing monologues, with the two sides as far apart as ever.

Denis Pushilin, a leader of the insurgency in the city of Donetsk, said his faction was not invited to the government-organized roundtable in Kiev, and that the "talks with Kiev authorities could only be about one thing: the recognition of the Donetsk People’s Republic."

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in his opening remarks at the Kiev talks that authorities were "ready for a dialogue," but insisted they will not talk to the pro-Russia gunmen, which the government has denounced as "terrorists."

Nigerian soldiers fire on senior officer after 14 killed in ambush, sign of demoralization

BAUCHI, Nigeria (AP) -- Soldiers say angry Nigerian troops fired at a senior officer in another sign of a demoralized military supposed to be leading the hunt for nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic extremists.

They say the soldiers fired Wednesday on a vehicle carrying Maj. Gen. Ahmadu Mohammed following the killings of 14 soldiers in an ambush. The soldiers killed were in a group that had told their command the road was dangerous and wanted to spend the night in a village. They were ordered to travel instead.

Soldiers who spoke on condition of anonymity because they want their jobs said soldiers opened fire as Mohammed drove into a barracks in northeast Maiduguri city to sympathize. He was not hit.

Demoralized troops is one reason Nigeria’s military has failed to rescue the kidnapped girls, sparking outrage and forcing the government to accept international help in their rescue.

Study: Lung cancer screening could cost Medicare billions, add $3 to monthly premiums

Every person covered by Medicare would shell out an additional $3 a month if the government agreed to pay to screen certain current and former smokers for lung cancer, a new study estimates.

It would cost Medicare $2 billion a year to follow recent advice to offer these lung scans -- and fuel angst about rising health costs that are borne by everyone, not just smokers, the study found.

Joshua Roth of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle said the researchers merely were tallying the cost of screening, and were not "judging value" or saying whether Medicare should pay it. He led the study, which was released Wednesday and will be presented at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference later this month.

Lung cancer is the world’s top cancer killer, mainly because it’s usually found too late for treatment to do much good. Most deaths involve Medicare-age people, and most are due to smoking.

Recently, a major study found that annual CT scans, a type of X-ray, could cut the chances of dying from lung cancer by up to 20 percent in those most at risk -- people ages 55 through 79 who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or the equivalent, such as two packs a day for 15 years.

Group pushes feds, companies for changes to laws allowing child labor on tobacco farms

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- An international rights group is pushing the federal government and the tobacco industry to take further steps to protect children working on U.S. tobacco farms.

A report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch claims that children as young as 7 are sometimes working long hours in fields harvesting nicotine- and pesticide-laced tobacco leaves under sometimes hazardous conditions. Most of what the group documented is legal, but it wants cigarette makers to push for safety on farms from which they buy tobacco.

Human Rights Watch details findings from interviews with more than 140 children working on farms in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, where a majority of the country’s tobacco is grown.

"The U.S. has failed America’s families by not meaningfully protecting child farmworkers from dangers to their health and safety, including on tobacco farms," said Margaret Wurth, children’s rights researcher and co-author of the report.

Human Rights Watch met with many of the world’s biggest cigarette makers and tobacco suppliers to discuss its findings and push them to adopt or strengthen policies to prevent the practices in their supply chains.

Sept. 11 museum opens this week deep beneath ground zero

NEW YORK (AP) -- The museum devoted to the story of Sept. 11 tells it in victims’ last voicemails, in photos of people falling from the twin towers, in the scream of sirens, in the dust-covered shoes of those who fled the skyscrapers’ collapse, in the wristwatch of one of the airline passengers who confronted the hijackers.

By turns chilling and heartbreaking, a place of both deathly silence and distressing sounds, the National September 11 Memorial Museum opens this week deep beneath ground zero, 12 1/2 years after the terrorist attacks.

The project was marked by construction problems, financial squabbles and disputes over the appropriate way to honor the nearly 3,000 people killed in New York, Washington and the Pennsylvania countryside.

Whatever the challenges in conceiving it, "you won’t walk out of this museum without a feeling that you understand humanity in a deeper way," museum President Joe Daniels said Wednesday.

The privately operated museum -- built along with the memorial plaza above for $700 million in donations and tax dollars -- will be dedicated Thursday with a visit from President Barack Obama and will be open initially to victims’ families, survivors and first responders. It will open to the public May 21.

’Miracle baby’ critically hurt but expected to survive after falling 11 stories in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A young boy who survived an 11-story fall from a Minneapolis high-rise has been dubbed "the miracle baby" and was recovering in a hospital Wednesday.

Fifteen-month-old Musa Dayib suffered a broken spine and ribs as well as a concussion and a punctured lung. Musa’s relatives believe he slipped through the railing of his family’s apartment balcony Sunday evening.

The boy was in critical but stable condition Wednesday, Hennepin County Medical Center spokeswoman Christine Hill said.

Dr. Tina Slusher of the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit told the Star Tribune that Musa landed on a small patch of mulch.

"If you and I fell that far, we would be dead," Slusher said. "He’s a kid. So they tend to be more flexible and pliable than you and I would be. Having said that, it’s a real gift from God that he made it because this is a huge fall."