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California bill that would end orca shows stalls PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by FENIT NIRAPPIL, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 15:11

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California bill that sought to end killer whale shows at SeaWorld in San Diego and phase out their captivity was put on hold Tuesday, dousing an escalating fight between animal activists and a major tourist attraction.

The bill's author, Democrat Richard Bloom of Santa Monica, agreed during the first committee hearing for AB2140 to revisit his proposal after further study.

As a result, the bill is dead for this year and the soonest lawmakers could vote on the proposal would be mid-2015 following additional hearings.

"It's unfortunate that much of the conversation has been fueled ... by fear and invective and misinformation," Bloom said. "It's clear that many committee members are simply unprepared to make a decision on the bill."

Bloom was inspired by the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" in which filmmakers argue that captivity and mistreatment of orcas make the animals aggressive and has led to attacks on trainers.

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Americas get front-row seat for April 15 lunar eclipse PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 13:06

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — North and South America, get ready for the first eclipse of the year.

Next Tuesday morning, the moon will be eclipsed by Earth's shadow. This lunar eclipse will be visible across the Western Hemisphere. The total phase will last 78 minutes.

The moon will be rising in the western Pacific, and so only the last half of the eclipse will be visible. In much of Europe and Africa, the moon will be setting, so there won't much, if anything, to see.

On April 29, the Southern Hemisphere will be treated to a rare type of solar eclipse.

Tuesday's lunar eclipse may damage a NASA spacecraft that's been circling the moon since fall. But no worries: it's near the end of its mission.


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Report: 60 people taken hostage in eastern Ukraine PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by PETER LEONARD, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 13:02

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's government struggled to stay in control of the country's eastern regions as tensions flared Tuesday in three cities. While the government managed to recapture its regional headquarters and detain dozens of pro-Russian protesters in one city, it said "radicals" were keeping 60 people hostage and threatening them in another city.

Unknown "separatists" brandishing arms and explosives were threatening the hostages inside a security service branch in the city of Luhansk, the Ukrainian Security Service said in a statement Tuesday.

It was not clear who the hostages were or if they were security service employees. The building was seized Sunday by armed pro-Russian protesters.

Earlier Tuesday, Ukrainian authorities battled with pro-Russian protesters but regained control over a government building in Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city, evicting the protesters and detaining dozens.

In Donetsk, a city 250 kilometers (155 miles) further south, protesters dug in for their third day at the 11-story regional administration headquarters and began to declare their own parallel government.

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Quebec separatist party suffers crushing defeat PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by ROB GILLIES, Associated Press SEAN FARRELL, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 07:39

MONTREAL (AP) — Quebec voters gave a resounding no to the prospect of holding a third referendum on independence from Canada, handing the main separatist party in the French-speaking province one of its worst electoral defeats ever.

The Liberal Party, staunch supporters of Canadian unity, won Quebec's legislative elections Monday, while the pro-independence Parti Quebecois suffered a crushing defeat that puts its dream of a sovereign Quebec on hold for years.

The results will allow the Liberals to form a majority government, less than 18 months after voters had booted the party from power for the first time in nine years amid allegations of corruption.

With all but a handful of polling stations reporting, the Liberals had 41.5 percent of the vote and took 70 seats in the 125-member National Assembly.

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Unemployment benefits bill headed to House PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent   
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 06:18

WASHINGTON (AP) — Election-year legislation to resume long-term jobless benefits is headed to the House, where a small band of dissident Republicans is leaning on Speaker John Boehner to permit a vote on resuming aid to more than 2 million victims of the Great Recession.

"As many Americans continue to struggle without benefits, we respectfully request that the House immediately consider this bill or a similar measure," seven House Republicans wrote Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday. They released their letter as the Senate voted 59-38 for the bill.

The outlook remains cloudy, though, for legislation that took three months to move through the Senate.

In reply, a spokesman for Boehner said, "As the speaker said months ago, we are willing to look at extending emergency unemployment insurance as long as it includes provisions to help create more private sector jobs."

The spokesman, Michael Steel, said Senate Democratic leaders had last week "ruled out adding any job measures at all."

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