World in Brief
Suspect in Kansas shootings had long history of white-supremacist activity but no violence
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) -- Never one to keep his hatred to himself, Frazier Glenn Cross for decades sought out any soapbox to espouse his white-supremacist beliefs, twice running for federal office with campaigns steeped in anti-Semitism.
Yet there’s scant evidence the Army veteran and retired trucker with Ku Klux Klan links ever resorted to violence before Sunday, when authorities say Cross opened fire with a shotgun and pistol outside a Jewish community center and retirement complex near Kansas City. None of the three people killed turned out to be Jewish.
The 73-year-old, who shouted a Nazi slogan at television cameras when arrested minutes later, is jailed awaiting charges that investigators said could come as early as Tuesday. At some point, a federal grand jury is expected to review the slayings, which investigators now deem a hate crime.
"We want to express our condolences to the families of these poor souls who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and had the unfortunate experience of a first-hand encounter with evil," U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
The FBI and police have not offered any public explanation for what triggered Sunday’s deadly outburst in Overland Park on the eve of the Jewish festival of Passover. While the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies were familiar with Cross, Sunday’s gunfire was "very random," the FBI’s Michael Kaste said.
Authorities: Utah woman admitted strangling, suffocating her 6 newborn babies
PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (AP) -- Megan Huntsman was clear about what she did with six of her newborn babies.
Huntsman, 39, told police she either strangled or suffocated them immediately after they were born. She wrapped their bodies in a towel or a shirt, put them in plastic bags and then packed them inside boxes in the garage of her home south of Salt Lake City.
What’s not clear is why. A day after her arrest on charges of killing her six babies, investigators and her neighbors puzzled over the grisly discovery, including how she could have concealed a half-dozen pregnancies over a 10-year period.
"How can you have a baby and not have evidence and other people know?" asked neighbor SanDee Wall. "You can’t plan when a baby is going to come. Just the thought of somebody putting a baby into a box is a heartbreaker."
Huntsman, who was arrested Sunday on six counts of murder, was ordered held on $6 million bail -- $1 million for each baby. The remains of a seventh baby police found appears to have been stillborn, authorities said.
April 15 not much of a deadline for most; late penalties don’t apply to refunds
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The calendar shows April 15, and you haven’t even started on your federal tax return? Chances are, you don’t need to fret.
If you’re due a refund -- and about three-fourths of filers get refunds -- April 15 isn’t much of a deadline at all.
The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t like to talk about it, but penalties for filing late federal tax returns apply only to people who owe money. The penalty is a percentage of what you owe. If you owe nothing, 5 percent of nothing is ...nothing!
But it doesn’t make much sense to file late. If you are owed a refund, why wouldn’t you want it as soon as possible? And if you have unpaid taxes, the late fees add up quickly.
"Most people with refunds are filing early in January, February and March because they’d like the refund early," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. "So we don’t see an incentive and we don’t see much experience of people waiting later for us to keep the money longer."
Putin urges Obama to discourage Ukraine from using force against protesters
MOSCOW (AP) -- The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin has urged President Barack Obama to discourage the Ukrainian government from using force against protesters in the country’s east.
The Kremlin said in a statement following Monday’s conversation that the Russian leader rejected the claims of Russian agents’ involvement in protests as "speculations based on unreliable information." Putin said the protests vented public anger about the Ukrainian government’s reluctance to recognize the interests of Russian speakers in the east.
More than a dozen government offices and police stations have been seized by mobs. The Ukrainian government and the West have accused Russia of staging the protests.
The Ukrainian authorities have pledged to dislodge protesters. The Kremlin said Putin urged Obama to use American influence in Ukraine to prevent the use of force and bloodshed.
Ukraine’s leader asks for UN peacekeepers for restive east; Russia denies ties to unrest
HORLIVKA, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine’s acting president urged the United Nations on Monday to send peacekeeping troops to eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian gunmen kept up their rampage of storming and occupying local government offices, police stations and a small airport.
The request came from a government that has proved powerless to rein in separatists in its eastern and southern regions, where insurgents have seized or barricaded government buildings in at least nine cities, demanding more autonomy from the new government in Kiev and closer ties with Russia.
The Kiev government and Western officials accuse Russia of instigating the unrest and of deploying armed Russian agents in civilian clothing to carry them out.
In a telephone call with Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov suggested that an "anti-terrorist operation" be conducted jointly by Ukrainian security forces and U.N. peacekeepers, according to the presidential website.
Peacekeepers, however, would have to be authorized by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia holds a veto.
Post, Guardian win Pulitzers for NSA revelations; Globe wins for breaking news
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Washington Post and The Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize in public service Monday for revealing the U.S.government’s sweeping surveillance efforts in a blockbuster series of stories based on secret documents handed over by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
The Pulitzer for breaking news was awarded to The Boston Globe for its "exhaustive and empathetic" coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt that followed.
The winning entries about the NSA’s spy programs revealed that the government has collected information about millions of Americans’ phone calls and emails to try to head off another 9/11-style terrorist attack.
The disclosures touched off a furious debate in the U.S. over privacy versus security and led President Barack Obama to impose limits on the surveillance.
Two of the nation’s most distinguished newspapers, The Post and The New York Times, won two Pulitzers each.
Robotic submarine deployed for first time to search for Malaysia jet wreckage
PERTH, Australia (AP) -- Search crews sent a robotic submarine deep into the Indian Ocean on Monday to begin scouring the seabed for the missing Malaysian airliner after failing for six days to detect any signals believed to be from its black boxes.
Meanwhile, officials were investigating an oil slick about 5,500 meters (3.4 miles) from the area where the last underwater sounds were detected, said Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search off Australia’s west coast.
Crews have collected an oil sample and are sending it back to Australia for analysis, a process that will take several days. Houston said it does not appear to be from any of the ships in the area, but cautioned against jumping to conclusions about its source.
The unmanned underwater vehicle, the Bluefin 21, was launched from the Australian navy ship Ocean Shield, the U.S. Navy said. The autonomous sub can create a three-dimensional sonar map of any debris on the ocean floor.
The move comes after crews picked up a series of underwater sounds over the past two weeks that were consistent with signals from an aircraft’s black boxes, which record flight data and cockpit conversations. The devices emit "pings" so they can be more easily found, but their batteries only last about a month and are now believed dead.
Medical marijuana measure in Florida a key test of pot’s political potency for Democrats
MIAMI (AP) -- Tied to an unpopular president and his signature health care law, Democrats in the nation’s largest swing state see medical marijuana as a potential antidote to political malaise in this year’s midterm elections.
Party operatives are pushing a constitutional amendment that would make Florida the first state in the South to legalize some pot use. Polls show the measure has widespread public support, and it’s particularly popular among young voters -- a critical part of the Democratic coalition with historically weak turnout in non-presidential election years.
"I wish that it didn’t take medical marijuana on the ballot to motivate our young voters," said Ana Cruz, former executive director of the Florida Democratic Party. "But listen, we’ll take it any way we can get it."
Activists are also gathering signatures for medical marijuana initiatives in Arkansas, where Democrats are fighting to retain the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat, and Ohio, where the party is trying to oust GOP Gov. John Kasich. But those petition drives face significant organizational hurdles.
The political world likely will be focused on Florida in November for clues about the turnout potential among young voters of pot on the ballot. At stake is the governor’s office, as well as a handful of competitive House seats.
Blast at bus station in Nigeria capital kills 72 people; President blames Islamic extremists
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) -- Suspected Islamic militants struck in the heart of Nigeria on Monday with a massive rush-hour bomb blast at a bus station that killed at least 72 people and wounded 164 in the deadliest attack ever on the nation’s capital.
Survivors screamed in anguish and the stench of burning fuel and flesh hung over the area, where billows of black smoke rose as firefighters worked to put out the fires. Rescue workers and police gathered body parts as ambulances rushed the wounded to hospitals.
Visiting the blast scene, President Goodluck Jonathan blamed Boko Haram, the homegrown terrorist network that has targeted schools, churches, mosques, villages and government facilities, killing thousands in its five-year campaign to make Nigeria an Islamic state.
Authorities said at least 72 people were killed and 164 wounded, though the death toll was sure to climb because it did not include victims whose bodies were dismembered, the health ministry said. It was the deadliest attack yet in Abuja, the centrally located capital that is hundreds of miles from Boko Haram’s stronghold in Nigeria’s northeast.
"I can’t count the number of people that died. They took them in open vehicles. People were running and there was confusion," said civil servant Ben Nwachukwu.
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