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Bangladesh's miracle survivor marries and builds new life

Bangladeshi rescuers retrieve garment worker Reshma Akhter from the rubble of the Rana Plaza in Savar on May 10, 2013, seventeen days after the building collapsed Savar (Bangladesh) (AFP) - She was the miracle seamstress, plucked from the rubble of the world's worst garment factory disaster 17 days after the building collapse. The case of Reshma Akhter, 19, was a rare bright spot in the Rana Plaza catastrophe on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on April 24 last year that left 1,138 dead and more than 2,000 injured. But she married her boyfriend in a simple ceremony in her village in northern Bangladesh in February and is enjoying a new job in a hotel run by the international chain Westin, which approached her after her ordeal. This is completely the opposite of the work of a garment factory.


Asian stocks drop on no trade deal in Obama visit

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mixed as stocks in Tokyo slipped Thursday after talks between Japan's prime minister and visiting President Barack Obama produced little on a trade agreement.

China rejects Obama's statement on islets disputed with Japan

A chain of islets disputed by China and Japan belong to China regardless of what anyone says, China said on Thursday, in response to a remark by U.S. President Barack Obama that a security treaty between the U.S. and Japan covers the islands. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang made the remarks at a daily press briefing on Thursday. Obama said he had not drawn any new "red line" over the islands, adding that maritime disputes must be resolved peacefully. The group of tiny East China Sea islets, known in Japan as the Senkaku and in China as the Diaoyu, have long strained ties between Beijing and Tokyo.

Arab-Israeli women break ground on pro soccer team

In this Tuesday, April 22, 2014 photo, from left to right, Israeli Arab players Hanin Gamal Nasser, Walaa Hussien and Noura Abu-Shanab pose with their coach during a practice session in Petah Tikva, Israel. When the Israeli women’s soccer team Hapoel Petah Tikva lost a number of its players to Israel’s national team ahead of World Cup qualifiers, founder Rafi Subra made a decision that sets the team apart from many of its rivals _ he recruited from the Arab villages of northern Israel. For Hapoel Petah Tikva, the addition of five Arab-Israeli women has made waves in the league, as Arab-Israelis often face discrimination in Israel on and off the field. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov) PETAH TIKVA, Israel (AP) — When the Israeli women's soccer team Hapoel Petah Tikva lost a number of its players to Israel's national team ahead of World Cup qualifiers, founder Rafi Subra made a decision that sets the team apart from many of its rivals — he recruited from the Arab villages of northern Israel.


Last appeal bid rejected in HK 'Milkshake Murder'

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong's top court rejected a final bid on Thursday for an appeal by an American convicted of drugging her wealthy banker husband and bashing him to death.

EU, post-Soviet republics meet on partnership plan

PRAGUE (AP) — Amid Ukraine's deepening crisis, the presidents of post-Soviet republics and EU member states are gathering in Prague to save a project to boost their ties.

Ukraine official: city hall cleared of protesters

A masked pro Russia protestor waves the Russian flag in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, April 22, 2014. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that "it's time to stop talking and start acting" to reduce tension in Ukraine, offering a show of support for the besieged nation as an international agreement aimed at stemming its ongoing crisis appeared in doubt. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits) DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Police have cleared the city hall in a southeastern Ukrainian city of pro-Russian protesters who had been occupying it for over a week, Interior Minister Avakov said on Thursday.


Earthquake shakes British Columbia; no injuries reported

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 rattled the coast of British Columbia's Vancouver Island on Wednesday evening and was felt by hundreds of people in dozens of cities in Canada and the United States, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no reports of injuries or damage and no tsunami warning was in effect, the National Tsunami Warning Center said. The U.S. Geological Survey said nearly 800 people reported feeling the quake in dozens of cities, including Vancouver and Seattle.

Obama to Russia: More sanctions are 'teed up'

President Barack Obama attends a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Akasaka State Guest House in Tokyo, Thursday, April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Junko Kimura-Matsumoto, Pool) TOKYO (AP) — Accusing Russia of failing to live up to its commitments, President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Thursday that the United States has another round of economic sanctions "teed up" — even as he acknowledged those penalties may do little to influence Vladimir Putin's handling of the crisis in Ukraine.


Top Asian News at 7:30 a.m. GMT

TOKYO (AP) — Showing solidarity with Japan, President Barack Obama affirmed Thursday that the U.S. would be obligated to defend Tokyo in a confrontation with Beijing over a set of disputed islands, but urged all sides to resolve the long-running dispute peacefully. Wading cautiously into a diplomatic minefield, Obama insisted the U.S. takes no position on whether the islands in the East China Sea are ultimately in the dominion of China or Japan. But he noted that historically Japan has administered the islands, triggering America's treaty obligations to defend its ally should tensions escalate militarily.

Fresh safety, violence fears on Mount Everest

Three major mountaineering companies have joined others in quitting Everest citing fears of violence, safety concerns and tension at base camp, deepening a crisis on the world's highest peak sparked by the death of 16 guides last week The Nepal government held talks with grieving and angry sherpas on Mount Everest Thursday to try to end a deepening crisis on the world's highest peak after an avalanche killed 16 of their colleagues. As the talks got underway at Everest base camp over a sherpa threat to boycott the climbing season, three more mountaineering companies scrapped plans to scale the peak, citing safety concerns and fears of violence. "Our staff at base camp tell us the meeting between the guides and government officials has started, the discussions are on," said district police chief Badri Bikram Thapa.


Angry parents seek autopsies of Korea ferry victims

Relatives of missing passengers visit the site of the sunken South Korean ferry 'Sewol' at sea off Jindo on April 24, 2014 Some parents of the mostly teenage victims of South Korea's ferry disaster are pushing for autopsies that might show their children were alive inside the submerged vessel and only died because the emergency response was so slow. "They want to know for certain how their family members died," Kim said.


Wage talks resume as South Africa platinum strike marks 13th week

Striking miners chant slogans as they march to Lonmin's head quarters in Johannesburg By Ed Stoddard JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Marathon talks aimed at ending a crippling three-month strike in South Africa's platinum sector were to resume on Thursday after the world's top producers and union AMCU spent two days haggling over an offer tabled last week by the companies. The strike is already the longest and most costly in living memory for South Africa's mines, though there has been a renewed drive to break the deadlock in recent days after several weeks with no formal direct talks between the two sides. The talks involve the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) leadership and chief executives from Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin. There is "potential for further downside revisions from the ongoing industrial action," the unit of global mining house Anglo American said in a trading update.


Last year's deadbeats do best as stocks stall

FILE - In this Tuesday Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, a technician prepares 1 Kg gold bars of 995.0 purity to pack for delivery at the Emirates Gold company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Safer investments like utilities, gold and government bonds were supposed to flop in 2014 as investors pulled out their money and put it into higher risk, higher growth stocks that benefit from a pickup in the economy. But instead of fading, “safe haven” investments are among the year’s best performers. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File) NEW YORK (AP) — Financial markets rarely stick to the script, and this year is no different.


Taliban ready to deal on captive US soldier?

This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The nearly five-year effort to free the only American soldier held captive in Afghanistan is scattered among numerous federal agencies with a loosely organized group of people working on it mostly part time, according to two members of Congress and military officials involved in the effort. An ever-shrinking U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has re-focused attention on efforts to bring home Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. (AP Photo/U.S. Army) WASHINGTON (AP) — The captors of an American soldier held for nearly five years in Afghanistan have signaled a willingness to release him but are unclear which U.S. government officials have the authority to make a deal, according to two individuals in the military working for his release. Critics of the release effort blame disorganization and poor communication among the numerous federal agencies involved.


Managers mishandled radiation leak at New Mexico nuclear site -official

Managers mishandled a radiation leak at a New Mexico nuclear waste dump in which 21 workers were exposed to airborne radioactive particles due in part to substandard equipment and safety systems, a U.S. investigator said on Wednesday. But the contamination from the underground salt mine in the Chihuahuan Desert - where radioactive waste from U.S. nuclear labs and weapons facilities is deposited - was unlikely to have harmed the workers' health, inspectors said. Ted Wyka, chairman of a federal accident review board, said improperly placed or inoperative air monitors, a substandard ventilation system and mismanagement contributed to the February 14 leak of radioisotopes including plutonium. The preliminary findings by Wyka and other officials assembled by the U.S. Energy Department, which oversees the plant, came during a public meeting in Carlsbad, New Mexico on Wednesday.

UK enlists Muslim women to help stop Syria jihadists

Rebel fighters and civilians stand looking at a burning building following a reported barrel bomb attack by Syrian government forces on April 20, 2014 in the northern city of Aleppo British police reached out to Muslim women on Thursday in an attempt to prevent young people going to fight in Syria, after a sharp rise in arrests related to the conflict. Counter-terrorism officials launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the risks of travelling to Syria, especially for those who just want to offer humanitarian aid. The campaign was prompted by an increase in the number of Britons caught travelling or returning from Syria, from 25 arrests last year to 40 in the first three months of 2014. Only last week, a father from Brighton, Abubaker Deghayes, revealed that three of his sons had gone to fight in Syria, one of whom was killed in a battle.


Camilla 'devastated' by brother's death in fall

Mark Shand during a press conference in New Delhi, India, on October 5, 2006 Camilla, wife of Britain's Prince Charles, has been left "utterly devastated" after her brother died in an accident during a night out in New York, Clarence House said. Environmental campaigner Mark Shand, 62, fell and hit his head on the pavement outside the Rose Bar at Manhattan's Gramercy Park Hotel late Tuesday after attending a charity event. "It is with deep sadness that we have to confirm that the Duchess of Cornwall's brother, Mark Shand, has today passed away in New York," said a spokesman for Clarence House, Charles's official office, on Wednesday. "Mr Shand died in hospital as a result of a serious head injury which he sustained during a fall last night.


Japan business lobby plans corporate governance rules: source

Japan's PM Abe walks past Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Mimura, Keidanren Chairman Yonekura and Japan Association of Corporate Executives Chairman Hasegawa after making a speech in Tokyo By Noriyuki Hirata TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's most powerful business lobby, Keidanren, plans to introduce corporate governance rules that will require better disclosure, a person familiar with the matter said, but they will stop short of bolder reforms sought by many investors. The lobby, whose member firms include most of Japan Inc's biggest names such as Canon Inc and Nippon Steel , will launch a study group later this year with an eye to announcing the new guidelines in 2016, the person said. The Keidanren's rules will not require independent directors or any particular governance structure, reflecting its belief that such decisions should be left up to individual companies, the person familiar with the matter said. But they will demand companies give a detailed explanation on a set of important matters, such as why it has or has not employed independent directors or adopted a company with a committee governance structure, the person said.


Ukrainian troops dig in near Slaviansk - Reuters correspondent

Ukrainian troops were digging in to a new position a few miles from the separatist-held city of Slaviansk early on Thursday, a Reuters correspondent said. Dozens of soldiers in camouflage uniform, some wearing airborne patches, were setting up sandbag defenses around at least six BMD light armored vehicles and putting up a tent near a settlement called Malynivka, some 12 km (8 miles) south of Slaviansk on the main road to the regional capital Donetsk. The Ukrainian government has said it is launching a renewed "anti-terrorist operation" to retake towns and public buildings held by pro-Russian separatists if they do not disarm and leave under the terms of an accord with Russia made in Geneva a week ago that was also signed by the United States and the European Union. Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said troops repelled an overnight attack on a base at Artemivsk, 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Slaviansk by what he said was a force of about 70 led by Russian soldiers.

Minister warns foreign firms against leaving Russia over sanctions

Russia's Natural Resources Minister said on Thursday that the door would be closed to foreign companies working in Russia if they decide to leave the country over Ukraine-related sanctions. He also said that so far foreign companies had not signaled their desire to leave Russia, the world's top crude oil producer, over sanctions the West imposed after Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. "It is obvious that they won't return in the near future if they sever investment agreements with us, I mean there are consequences as well," Sergei Donskoi told reporters. "Russia is one of the most promising countries in terms of hydrocarbons production.

Heineken returns to growth in Western Europe

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Heineken NV says it has returned to growth in its crucial Western Europe market in the first quarter, after a long period of stagnation. Organic sales — a figure which strips out the effects of currencies and acquisitions — grew by 3.4 percent.

Afghan guard shoots dead 3 foreigners in hospital

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan security guard opened fire on the medical staff at a Kabul hospital on Thursday morning and killed three foreigners, including at least one doctor, police said.

Top Asian News at 7:00 a.m. GMT

TOKYO (AP) — Showing solidarity with Japan, President Barack Obama affirmed Thursday that the U.S. would be obligated to defend Tokyo in a confrontation with Beijing over a set of disputed islands, but urged all sides to resolve the long-running dispute peacefully. Wading cautiously into a diplomatic minefield, Obama insisted the U.S. takes no position on whether the islands in the East China Sea are ultimately in the dominion of China or Japan. But he noted that historically Japan has administered the islands, triggering America's treaty obligations to defend its ally should tensions escalate militarily.

Your Top Plays for Today

Portland Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge (12) reacts after making a basket against the Houston Rockets during the third quarter in Game 2 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Houston. Portland won 112-105. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Your Top Plays for Today: AP's Sports Guide


Israel ministers mull reprisals for Palestinian unity deal

Palestinian Fatah delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmed (L) laughs with Hamas prime minister in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya (C) during a press conference in Gaza on April 23, 2014 Israel's security cabinet was to meet on Thursday morning to weigh its response to a unity deal struck between the Palestinian leadership and the Hamas rulers of Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted angrily to Wednesday's agreement between the rival factions accusing Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas of choosing "Hamas, not peace". They were not expected to order a complete halt to US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians, however, despite the announcement by a Netanyahu aide of the cancellation of a scheduled meeting on Wednesday evening, the broadcaster said. Netanyahu's office described the deal between Abbas and Hamas, which opposes all peace talks with Israel, as "very serious".


Crusades fought, e-Bay bids sought for relics

ROME (AP) — Wars have been fought to obtain them. Medieval monks and modern-day bandits have pilfered them. Two millennia after the first Christian martyrs' blood stained Rome, the temptation of, and fascination with, religious relics endures. And the canonization of two well-loved popes, John Paul II and John XXIII, on Sunday is feeding a seemingly endless appetite for fresh relics.

Bloodied shirt, unwashed fork: JPII relics abound

A detail of the bullet drilled and bloodstained undershirt worn by Pope John Paul II during the assassination attempt on May, 13, 1981, kept at the Daughters of Charity, in Rome, Thursday, April 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) ROME (AP) — Inside a chapel on the edges of Rome, a nun uses a key to open a wooden wall panel, revealing a hidden niche. Behind glass and stitched loosely to supporting backing hangs a relic of holy suffering: the bullet-pocked, bloodstained undershirt that John Paul II was wearing when a gunman shot him in the stomach in St. Peter's Square.


Kashmiris stage protests during Indian elections

A security person stands guard as Indians wait in a queue to cast their votes during the sixth phase of polling of the Indian parliamentary elections in Sonapur village, outskirts of Gauhati, India, Thursday, April 24, 2014.The multiphase voting across the country runs until May 12, with results for the 543-seat lower house of parliament expected on May 16. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian forces used tear gas and wooden batons Thursday to disperse scores of Kashmiri demonstrators who shouted anti-India slogans and threw rocks to protest against voting in national elections in the disputed region.


Unilever first quarter sales hit by strong euro

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Unilever PLC, the maker of consumer products such as Dove soaps and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, says its underlying sales grew in the first quarter, but revenue was down due to a big impact from the stronger euro.

Russia expects Ukraine deal to be implemented soon: reports

Russia expects that an international agreement to defuse the Ukraine crisis will be implemented in practical steps, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Thursday. Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union signed the deal in Geneva last week in a bid to resolve the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War but each side has since accused the other of failing to carry it out. "Russia expects that the Geneva accords will be implemented in practical actions in the near future," Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying.

Ukraine says army base attacked, town hall recovered

KIEV (Reuters) - The Ukrainian government said troops repelled an overnight raid on a base at Artemivsk, between Donetsk and Slaviansk, in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. A soldier was wounded in the attack by about 70 people who Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Facebook were led by Russian soldiers. Casualty details for the attackers were not clear, he said. Avakov also said pro-Russian protesters had left the town hall in Mariupol, an industrial city on the Black Sea coast, and the mayor was back in his office - meeting the agreements made with Russia at a Geneva meeting a week ago. ...

Obama in Tokyo backs Japan in China island row

US President Barack Obama reviews an honour guard at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on April 24, 2014 US President Barack Obama vowed Thursday to defend Japan if China attacks over a tense territorial dispute, but also urged Beijing to help stop North Korea from forging ahead with its "dangerous" nuclear programme. Obama described as "critically important" China's role in keeping its wayward ally in check after South Korea said heightened activity at the North's main nuclear test site could point to an imminent test -- its fourth.


India's BJP eyes gains in south, east to cut clout of regional queens

A woman gets her finger marked with ink before casting her vote at a polling station, in Malda district of West Bengal India's opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was set to make gains in two big states in the south and east that began voting on Thursday in the sixth phase of a mammoth general election that could help it build a stable majority in parliament. A final set of opinion polls predicted a strong showing by the BJP and its allies in Tamil Nadu in the south and West Bengal in the east that could make it less dependent on the two women who rule those states and who have in the past proved to be fickle coalition partners. The Hindu nationalist-led opposition, led by prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, is riding a wave of public anger across India against the ruling Congress party over a slew of corruption scandals and a slowing economy. A little over 180 million people were registered to vote on Thursday in the sixth phase of the world's biggest election that will end on May 16 when votes are counted from across India.


China frees Japanese boat after boat owner pays up

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court released a seized Japanese freight ship Thursday after owner Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. agreed to pay about $39 million to resolve a dispute dating back more than seven decades.

Thai opposition leader seeks compromise to avert bloodshed

Thailand's opposition leader and former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva smiles during an interview in Bangkok By Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) - Alarmed by the prospect of bloodshed in Thailand as a six-month political crisis nears a critical juncture, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has called for talks between the government and its foes, urging compromise to restore stability. The 49-year-old leader of Thailand's main opposition Democrat Party has joined street demonstrations in Bangkok aiming to force out Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and his party boycotted a February 2 election, which was nullified by a court in March after widespread disruption. My intention, this week, is to say that: isn't it time we all accept the reality that neither side can get its way, and even if it did, it couldn't bring long-lasting stability." The protests, which attracted more than 200,000 people at their height, have dwindled but hard-core demonstrators say they will continue to harass the government and disrupt any new election until Yingluck's government is toppled. Abhisit's comments were met with skepticism by the government.


Historic canonization of two popes brings joy and controversy

A monument of the late Pope John Paul II stands in Czestochowa, southern Poland By Philip Pullella VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Two giants of Roman Catholicism in the 20th century will become saints on Sunday at an unprecedented twin canonization that has aroused both joy and controversy in the 1.2 billion member Church. Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernizing Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned for nearly 27 years before his death in 2005 and whose trips around the world made him the most visible pope in history, will be declared saints by Pope Francis. While John died half a century ago, critics say the canonization of John Paul - which sets a record for modern times of only nine years after his death - is too hasty. They also believe he was slow to grasp the seriousness of the sexual abuse crisis that emerged towards the end of his pontificate.


Canon nudges up profit forecast on higher office equipment sales

A logo of Canon Inc is pictured on a Canon EOS Kiss X50 displayed in Tokyo Canon Inc raised its full-year operating profit target by a slight 1.4 percent after strong sales of office copiers and printers in the first quarter. Canon, the world's biggest camera maker, said in its quarterly earnings statement it expects an operating profit of 365 billion yen ($3.56 billion) for the year to December 31, a slight increase from its previous forecast of 360 billion yen. Its office equipment sales rose 9.7 percent in the January-March quarter. Canon posted an 82.6 billion yen operating profit for the January-March quarter, a 51 percent increase on the year.


At least three foreigners killed in attack at Kabul hospital: security sources

KABUL (Reuters) - At least three foreigners were killed when a security guard opened fire at an international hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Thursday, Afghan security sources said. The attack occurred in the grounds of the Cure Hospital, which specializes in children's medicine and is located in Kabul's west. No further details were immediately available. (Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Paul Tait)

Malfunction forces Malaysia plane to turn back

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Firefly Airlines says one of its domestic flights was forced to turn back shortly after takeoff early Thursday due to landing gear problem. None of the 68 people on board were hurt.

Obama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asia allies

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a joint news conference at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo By Mark Felsenthal and Linda Sieg TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defendefensece, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new "red line" and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands. Obama also urged Japan to take "bold steps" to clinch a two-way trade pact seen as crucial to a broad regional agreement that is a central part of the U.S. leader's "pivot" of military, diplomatic and economic resources towards Asia and the Pacific. U.S. and Japanese trade negotiators failed to resolve differences in time for Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to shake hands on a deal at the summit, but the two leaders reported progress and ordered their teams to keep working.


Hyundai Motor first-quarter profit misses estimates, hurt by slow U.S. sales

Visitor walks past a Hyundai Motor logo at a Hyundai dealership in Seoul By Hyunjoo Jin SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Motor missed analyst estimates by posting first-quarter net profit that was almost identical to a year earlier, as lackluster U.S. performance offset increased sales in China and Korea. Shares of Hyundai fell over 2 percent after the automaker reported January-March net profit of 1.93 trillion won ($1.86 billion), compared with the 2.19 trillion won mean estimate of 13 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue rose 1 percent to 21.65 trillion won. As well as competing with rivals touting newer models, Hyundai also had to contend with a stronger won potentially making Hyundai's exports from Korea more expensive for overseas buyers.


Apple shares hit 2014 highs, Asian stocks lag

Man looks at an electronic board displaying Japan's Nikkei average and various countries' stock indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Shares in tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook held hefty after-hours gains on Thursday as their results handily outpaced Wall Street expectations, though Asian markets managed only a mumbled cheer. The Nikkei slipped 0.97 percent with some investors apparently disappointed that a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama made no concrete progress on a trade deal. The gains come after Apple decided to buy back $30 billion of its shares through the end of 2015 and authorized a seven-for-one stock split. Apple reported sales of 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing forecasts.


Vermont moves toward labeling of GMO foods

FILE - Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin participates in the morning session of the National Governor's Association Winter Meeting in Washington, in this Feb. 22, 2014 file photo. Vermont lawmakers have passed the country's first state bill to require the labeling of genetically modified foods as such, setting up a war between powerful lobbyists for the behemoth U.S. food industry and an American public that overwhelmingly says it approves of the idea. The Vermont House approved the measure Wednesday evening, April 23, 2014 about a week after the state Senate, and Gov. Peter Shumlin said he plans to sign it. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File) MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont lawmakers have passed the country's first state bill to require the labeling of genetically modified foods as such, setting up a war between powerful lobbyists for the behemoth U.S. food industry and an American public that overwhelmingly says it approves of the idea.


Exclusive: Marubeni says Chinese authorities detain three staff at grain unit

A logo of Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp on headquarters in Tokyo By James Topham and Niu Shuping TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) - Three employees at one of Marubeni Corp's grain trading units in China have been detained by authorities, the Japanese trading house said on Thursday, a move industry sources said was prompted by allegations of tax evasion on soy bean imports. The employees worked at a Chinese unit of Marubeni's Columbia Grain, Inc, a spokesman at Marubeni said, adding he did not know why they had been detained. Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said none of the detained staff at the unit were Japanese citizens. The detentions come amid a wave of soybean defaults in China, where a combination of poor crushing margins and difficulty getting credit has led to a spike in rejected cargoes.


Wyoming gas explosion prompts evacuation of town

This image provided by Rachel Anderson shows officials at the site of an explosion and fire at a natural gas processing facility and major national pipeline hub, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, in Opal, Wyo. Officials said there are no reports of injuries and the residents of Opal have been evacuated to an area about 3 miles outside the town as a precaution. Opal has about 95 residents and is about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rachel Anderson) OPAL, Wyo. (AP) — Residents and emergency crews were waiting for a fire to burn itself out after an explosion at a natural gas processing plant in a small town in southwestern Wyoming.


Buffett: moving oil by rail safely major industry concern

Buffett, co-chair of the 10,000 Small Businesses Advisory Council, takes part in a panel discussion in Detroit, Michigan By Luciana Lopez NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warren Buffett, chairman of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, said on Wednesday that safety is a major priority for the rail industry, after a recent spate of accidents raised concerns about how to transport oil safely. He added that the delay in the construction of the Keystone pipeline was unlikely to prompt additional purchases of tank cars at Berkshire railroad unit BNSF. COCA-COLA COMPENSATION PLAN Buffett also said, in an interview with CNBC the same day, that he thinks Coca-Cola's equity compensation plan was excessive, but that Berkshire Hathaway abstained in a shareholders vote. Earlier on Wednesday, Coca-Cola said 83 percent of shareholders approved the plan.


Body of Korean boy who raised ferry alarm believed found

A mother whose teenage child was onboard the capsized Sewol ferry and is missing, cries as she reads messages dedicated to the missing and dead passengers on the ship at a port in Jindo By James Pearson and Kahyun Yang SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean boy whose shaking voice first raised the alarm that an overloaded ferry with hundreds of children on board was sinking has been found drowned in the submerged wreckage of the vessel, his parents believe, the coastguard said on Thursday. More than 300 people, most of them students and teachers from the Danwon High School, are dead or missing presumed dead after the April 16 disaster. Of the 476 passengers and crew on board, 339 were children and teachers from the school in Ansan, a gritty suburb on the outskirts of Seoul, who were on an outing to Jeju. As the ferry began sinking, the crew told the children to stay in their cabins.


In Disney's shadow, homeless families struggle

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — When they moved from Georgia to the theme park playground of central Florida four years ago, Anthony and Candice Johnson found work at a barbecue restaurant and a 7-Eleven. Their combined salaries nevertheless fell short of what they needed to rent an apartment, so the couple and their two children have instead been hopping among cheap motel rooms along U.S. 192.

Australia rules out link between debris and Malaysian plane

Steve March and Mike Unzicker recover the Phoenix International AUV Artemis, also known as the Bluefin-21, back onto the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Southern Indian Ocean By Byron Kaye and Sonali Paul PERTH/MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Authorities ruled out any link between debris picked up on an Australian beach and a missing Malaysian jetliner on Thursday as a tropical cyclone again threatened to hamper a 26-nation air, surface and underwater search of the Indian Ocean. The debris, found on Wednesday on a beach at the southern tip of Western Australia state, was seen as the first lead since April 4 when authorities detected what they believed was a signal from the black box of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. But it took Australian authorities less than a day to analyze detailed photographs of the beached debris, no description of which was given, and dismiss the possibility that it may be linked to the plane. "We're not seeing anything in this that would lead us to believe that it is from a Boeing aircraft," Australian Transport Safety Bureau commissioner Martin Dolan the Australian Broadcasting Corp. That puts the focus of the search, the most expensive in aviation history, back on U.S. Navy undersea drone Bluefin-21, which will soon finish scouring a 10 square kms (6.2 square mile) stretch of seabed where the acoustic pings were located.


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