Criticism over Clinton charity's foreign money leads to limits rather than an outright ban
WASHINGTON (AP) — In spite of criticism over accepting money from foreign governments, the Clinton Foundation has decided to continue to look abroad for millions of dollars while limiting donor nations to a select group of six. The change in policy comes as former board member Hillary Rodham Clinton undertakes her presidential campaign.
The foundation's reliance on funding from several Mideast governments that suppress dissent and women's rights — concerns that the State Department focused on during her stint as secretary of state — sparked criticism and gave the Republican Party a new offensive against the leading Democrat. Clinton resigned from the foundation's board last week.
The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation's board said Wednesday night that future donations will only be allowed from the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom — all nations that previously supported the charity's health, poverty and climate change programs. Longtime U.S. allies, the six maintain relatively uncontroversial ties to the U.S.
While direct contributions from other governments would be halted, those nations could continue participating in the Clinton Global Initiative, a subsidiary program that encourages donors to match contributions from others to tackle international problems without direct donations to the charity. However, the foundation will stop holding CGI meetings abroad — a final session is scheduled for Morocco in May — and most foreign governments will no longer be allowed to sponsor programs.
An Associated Press analysis of Clinton Foundation donations between 2001 and 2015 showed governments and agencies from 16 nations previously gave direct grants of between $55 million and $130 million. In addition to the six nations that will be allowed to continue donating, the others were Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Kuwait, Italy, Brunei, Taiwan and the Dominican Republic.
Malaysia: Search area for Flight 370 will be doubled if plane is not found by May
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will be expanded by another 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) in the Indian Ocean if the jetliner is not found by May, officials said Thursday, affirming their commitment to not give up until it is located.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that Malaysia, Australia and China, which are leading the hunt for the Boeing 777 that went missing on March 8 last year, are "committed to the search."
He told reporters after meeting with his counterparts from the other two countries that so far 61 percent of the 60,000 kilometer (23,000-square-mile) search area has been scoured off Australia's west coast. The remaining 39 percent would have been searched by the end of May, he said.
"If the aircraft is not found within the 60,000 square kilometers, we have collectively decided to extend the search to another 60,000 square kilometers within the highest probability area," he said. However, searchers are hopeful that they can find the plane in the current search area, he said.
The announcement removes some ambiguity about the future of the search as it was never made clear what would happen if the plane is not found. It will also come as a solace to the relatives of the victims, who are holding out the hope of recovering the bodies.
Friend feared Capitol gyrocopter pilot would get shot down, so he alerted Secret Service
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida postal worker who piloted a gyrocopter onto the U.S. Capitol lawn to call attention to his belief that campaign finance laws are too weak is "a patriot" who first came up with the idea about a year ago, a friend said.
Doug Hughes, 61, called his friend Mike Shanahan on Wednesday and said he was in the D.C. area and ready to take off, Shanahan was quoted by The Tampa Bay Times as saying. Shanahan said he feared law enforcement would shoot down the small aircraft emblazoned with the Postal Service logo, so he alerted the U.S. Secret Service. The gyrocopter landed about half a city block from the Capitol building.
"I was scared to death they were going to kill him," Shanahan said.
Hughes steered his tiny aircraft onto the Capitol's West Lawn after flying through restricted airspace around the National Mall, police said. A Senate aide told The Associated Press the Capitol Police knew of the plan shortly before Hughes took off. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation.
Hughes is a married father of four who wanted to "spotlight corruption in DC and more importantly, to present the solution(s) to the institutional graft," reads a statement on his website, The Democracy Club. He lives in the Tampa Bay area community of Ruskin.
Even after murder conviction, many more cases left for ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez
FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) — Even after he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole, former New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez is nowhere near done with his legal troubles. He still faces double murder charges in Boston, as well as civil lawsuits over the killings and a lawsuit in Florida from a former friend who said he was shot in the face and left for dead after arguing with Hernandez.
A jury on Wednesday found Hernandez guilty of the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. Lloyd was killed — shot six times in a deserted industrial park less than a mile from Hernandez's home — for reasons that still remain unclear. Hernandez's lawyer acknowledged his client witnessed the crime but insisted he did not do it.
After the verdict, Hernandez was brought to a state prison less than a 4-mile drive from Gillette Stadium, the place where he once used to catch touchdown passes by Tom Brady in front of tens of thousands of fans. He will eventually be moved to another maximum-security institution.
A first-degree murder conviction in Massachusetts automatically triggers an appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court. A date for the Hernandez appeal wasn't immediately set.
Hernandez also is charged in a 2012 double killing in Boston. His alleged connection to that slaying emerged as the Lloyd investigation unfolded. Prosecutors in Boston say that Hernandez killed two men, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, after one of them accidentally bumped into him and spilled Hernandez's drink at a nightclub. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.
Angry relatives unmoved by S. Korean leader's vow to salvage ferry on sinking's anniversary
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Angry relatives of passengers who drowned in a ferry sinking snubbed South Korea's president on the disaster's anniversary Thursday, even as she pledged to salvage the ship.
Tears and grief mixed with raw fury as black-clad relatives and their supporters mourned the 304 victims of the ferry Sewol, most of whom were high school students. Earlier in the day, relatives blocked the prime minister from attending a mourning event. They later canceled another ceremony because of what they called government indifference to their plight.
There's widespread fatigue among many South Koreans a year after one of the country's worst disasters. But there's also frustration among those who see their government as having failed to meaningfully improve safety standards and hold high-level officials accountable for a disaster blamed in part on incompetence and corruption.
Hours before a trip abroad, President Park Geun-hye visited a small port near the site of the sinking to offer her condolences to the bereaved relatives. Most, however, refused to meet her, in protest of the government's handling of the sinking, and had already left the port.
Park gave a speech anyway, announcing ship salvaging plans for the first time. She provided few details, however, saying only the salvage operation would happen "as soon as possible."
Snapshots of the legacy from al-Bashir's quarter-century in power in Sudan
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — During a quarter-century in power, President Omar al-Bashir has succeeded in keeping an iron grip on Sudan despite repeated disasters that would have toppled many leaders. This week's election seems certain to entrench his rule.
Sudan lost a third of its territory as South Sudan broke away. The country has been torn by internal wars and battered by international sanctions for alleged support of terrorism. Al-Bashir is the world's first sitting president wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. And poverty is a constant.
Al-Bashir's success has come in part from a heavy security hand that has silenced dissent. Despairing of any vote breaking his grip, few Sudanese turned out for an election extended over four days that ended Thursday. But snapshots can be found of Sudan's dissent and discontent.
Agriculture Department to propose standards for organic seafood raised in US
WASHINGTON (AP) — After more than a decade of delays, the government is moving toward allowing the sale of U.S.-raised organic fish and shellfish. But don't expect it in the grocery store anytime soon.
The Agriculture Department says it will propose standards for the farmed organic fish year this year. That means the seafood could be available in as few as two years — but only if USDA moves quickly to complete the rules and seafood companies decide to embrace them.
Organic seafood would be welcome news for the increasing number of organic shoppers — and for retailers that have profited from their higher prices. It could also help the U.S. farmed fish industry find a premium as it struggles to compete against cheaper imports.
Among the U.S. seafood that could be covered: salmon, tilapia, catfish, shrimp and mollusks such as mussels, oysters and clams.
The United States is "trying to play catch-up on organic aquaculture," says Miles McEvoy, who heads up USDA's organic program. The European Union and Canada, along with other countries, have been exporting their own organic products to the United States.
UN special envoy to Yemen stepping down after peace efforts lost to fighting
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N.'s special envoy to Yemen has stepped down after four years of efforts at a peaceful political transition in the Arab world's poorest country fell apart amid a Shiite rebel uprising and Saudi-led airstrikes.
A U.N. statement late Wednesday said Jamal Benomar "has expressed an interest in moving on to another assignment" and that his successor will be named "in due course." Benomar's departure creates a diplomatic vacuum in Yemen, where he had been the key international figure working to bring the feuding parties together, even after diplomats fled embassies and the U.N. staff pulled out.
Benomar, who previously served as an envoy in Iraq and Afghanistan, had come under criticism from some in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, as his recent efforts to broker peace showed little success.
Yemen is now under weeks of airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition in an attempt to push back Shiite Houthi rebels who swept south and caused the Western-backed president to flee.
The U.N. said in its statement that it will "spare no efforts to re-launch the peace process," but the challenge has grown as the fighting in Yemen has become a kind of proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies and Iran, a Shiite power that has supported the Houthis. More than 700 people have been killed since the airstrikes began.
Manila's autism-friendly cafe offers refuge to differently abled youth staff and customers
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Guided by a therapist and cue cards, Jose Canoy carefully removed a waffle from the griddle, turned off the waffle maker and asked for a serving plate from the kitchen staff at Manila's brightly-decorated Puzzle Cafe. Each of Canoy's next moves were similarly laid out in index cards with pictures: A script for greeting customers, offering them the menu, serving the food and finally handing out the bill.
Canoy, 20, is among seven trainees with autism at the small cafe, which aims to provide its workers a place to assimilate into society, improve social skills and spread awareness of the poorly understood disorder, which the World Health Organization estimates impairs about one child for every 160 worldwide.
Canoy's elder brother and co-owner of the cafe, Jose Antonio, said his family decided to create the coffee shop to help his younger brother become productive and secure his future. The family also wants to promote autism awareness and to train others like Jose to help them find permanent, paying jobs and avoid being ostracized. Two other apprentices have Down syndrome and most of the trainees are in their 20s.
"We're out here to show people that being different is not bad," Jose Antonio Canoy said. "You can live it."
The autism-friendly cafe, with Thomas the Train toys and picture puzzles on its shelves, opened in November and held a grand opening ceremony April 11, in time for Autism Awareness Month. The puzzle piece is a global symbol of autism.
Royal baby mania returns: Britain ready to welcome William and Kate's second child
LONDON (AP) — Royal fans are ready to welcome Prince William and Kate's second child — a younger brother or sister to Prince George, whose birth two years ago whipped up a worldwide media frenzy.
As in 2013, the royals are keeping everyone guessing by disclosing virtually nothing about the baby — including the due date and gender.
If the bookies are to be believed, the baby will be a princess and she will be called Alice.
Here's what we know — and don't know — ahead of the second royal baby's birth, expected in the coming days: