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Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau on Monday (05.05.2014) claimed the Islamist militant group was behind the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from northeastern Nigeria.
"I am the one that abducted them," the most wanted man in Nigeria said as part of a recorded message released to numerous media organizations. Shekau also warned that more attacks "will follow soon."
"I will sell them in the marketplace," Shekau said in a video recording.
The teenage girls were abducted on April 14 from a boarding school in the rural town of Chibok, near Borno state in northern Nigeria.
According to an intermediary, two of the girls have died of snakebite and about 20 of them are ill.
The Nigerian armed group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 276 schoolgirls during a raid in the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria last month, the AFP news agency reported, citing a video it had obtained.
"I abducted your girls," the group's leader Abubakar Shekau said on Monday in the 57-minute video obtained by the agency, referring to the hundreds of students kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Borno state, on April 14.
"By Allah, I will sell them in the marketplace," he said in the video that starts with fighters lofting automatic rifles and shooting in the air as they chant "Allahu akbar!" or "God is great."
Boko Haram allegedly stormed the all-girl secondary school, then packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.
Boko Haram, now seen as the main security threat to Africa's leading energy producer, is growing bolder and extending its reach.
The apparent lack of capability of the military to prevent the Chibok attack or rescue the abducted girls after three weeks has triggered anger and protests in the northeast and in the capital Abuja.
After mounting public pressure to say something, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan broke his silence on the abduction of some 200 school girls more than three weeks ago.
In a TV broadcast on Sunday, Jonathan said authorities still did not know where the girls were. The president appealed to local communities and the girls' families to assist in their search.
"We promise that anywhere the girls are, we will surely get them out," Jonathan said, according to the BBC.
The news service adds:"The BBC's Will Ross in Abuja says it appears somewhat astonishing that the girls cannot be found when there are reports they have been moved around in convoys of vehicles.
"This seems to be a sign that there are parts of north-east Nigeria that are more or less off limits to the Nigerian armed forces, our correspondent says."
Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram has threatened to "sell" the hundreds of schoolgirls it abducted three weeks ago.
Militant leader Abubakar Shekau sent a video obtained by the AFP news agency, in which he said for the first time that his group had taken the girls.
About 230 girls are still believed to be missing, prompting widespread criticism of the Nigerian government.
The Boko Haram insurgency has left thousands dead since 2009.
The girls were taken from their boarding school in Chibok, in the northern state of Borno, on the night of 14 April.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden", has attacked numerous educational institutions in northern Nigeria.
'God instructed me'
In the video, Abubakar Shekau said the girls should not have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married.
"God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions," he said.
However, BBC Hausa Service editor Mansur Liman points out that the Boko Haram leader did not state the number of girls abducted, nor where they were taken or are now.
New York Times
BOSTON — The death rate in Massachusetts dropped significantly after it adopted mandatory health care coverage in 2006, a study released Monday found, offering evidence that the country’s first experiment with universal coverage — and the model for crucial parts of President Obama’s health care law — has saved lives, health economists say.
The study tallied deaths in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2010 and found that the mortality rate — the number of deaths per 100,000 people — fell by about 3 percent in the four years after the law went into effect. The decline was steepest in counties with the highest proportions of poor and previously uninsured people. In contrast, the mortality rate in a control group of counties similar to Massachusetts in other states was largely unchanged.
A national 3 percent decline in mortality among adults under 65 would mean about 17,000 fewer deaths a year.
Al Jazeera America
When the latest member of the Bush family decided to foray into politics, he went with an understated entrance, attracting more headlines for his famous last name than for the relatively low-profile statewide position he was seeking.
George P. Bush — a son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush — is expected to handily win his race for Texas land commissioner in November after easily shaking off a primary opponent in March.
If he does, he will be responsible for managing the state’s vast public lands and extracting royalty fees from the oil and gas companies that drill on them.
A distinguishing feature of George P. Bush’s quest for public office: a campaign war chest totaling $2.2 million — a significant portion of that money furnished by the same industry he will go on to regulate if he wins.
A glance at the names populating his campaign’s list of top-level donors reveals a who’s who of the state’s wealthiest oil and gas executives.
Al Jazeera America
A wildfire stoked by high winds and temperatures near 100 degrees Fahrenheit killed at least one man, destroyed several houses and forced people to flee near the Oklahoma town of Guthrie on Sunday, officials said.
Flames covered 3,000 to 4,000 acres near Guthrie, located about 30 miles north of Oklahoma City. About 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes.
As of early Monday morning, officials said the fire was 75 percent contained. Conditions, however, will not be on the side of the nearly 20 fire departments battling the blaze, with mid-90s temperatures and 20 mph wind gusts in the forecast.
Guthrie Fire Department Chief Eric Harlow said a 56-year-old man was found dead in his home Sunday night after the blazed passed through that area.
Harlow said the wildfire broke out Sunday when a controlled burn that began at about 4 p.m. got out of hand. He said that by 9 p.m., it had burned an estimated up to 6 square miles of land, as well as several homes.
A lawyer for the Oklahoma inmate whose execution went awry last week has expressed scepticism of the state's official timeline and called for a federal investigation.
David Autry, who represented Clayton Lockett for 11 years and witnessed his execution last Tuesday, said the US Department of Justice should lead an investigation into what went wrong during the execution, which lasted 43 minutes and ended with Lockett's apparent death by heart attack.
Autry expressed doubt about the independence of the man leading the state's investigation, public safety commissioner Michael C Thompson, an appointee of the governor and a former corrections employee.
"I note that [Thompson] was at the execution in his official capacity, making him both witness and judge of not only his own conduct, but his boss the governor's not inconsiderable contribution," Autry said.
Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin had challenged the authority of a panel of judges who temporarily stayed Lockett's execution and that of another inmate, Charles Warner. The court ordered the halt in order to consider the inmates' challenges over the constitutionality of the state's secrecy about its source of lethal-injection drugs, but backed down when challenged by the governor.
The supreme court said on Monday that prayers that open town council meetings do not violate the constitution even if they routinely stress Christianity.
The court said in 5-4 decision that the content of the prayers is not significant as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion.
The ruling was a victory for the town of Greece, New York, outside of Rochester.
In 1983, the court upheld an opening prayer in the Nebraska legislature and said that prayer is part of the nation's fabric, not a violation of the first amendment. Monday's ruling was consistent with the earlier one.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said the prayers are ceremonial and in keeping with the nation's traditions.
"The inclusion of a brief, ceremonial prayer as part of a larger exercise in civic recognition suggests that its purpose and effect are to acknowledge religious leaders and the institutions they represent, rather than to exclude or coerce nonbelievers," Kennedy said.
Justice Elena Kagan, in a dissent for the court's four liberal justices, said the case differs significantly from the 1983 decision because "Greece's town meetings involve participation by ordinary citizens, and the invocations given – directly to those citizens – were predominantly sectarian in content."
We often talk about income as if it's this fixed thing. Those people over there are the 1 percent. These over here live in poverty. That other group is the people in the top 20 percent. That's not the way it is.
While economic mobility hasn't increased in this country over the past few decades, there is still churn. Lots of people move up and down the income ladder over the course of a career.
What are the chances an Americans spends time in the top 1 percent during their working lives? In the top 10 or 20 percent? How likely is it that people will live in poverty for some part of their adult lives?
Because many people may have a windfall once in their lives — think of a middle-class family that sells a house they've owned for decades — we looked at how many Americans will find themselves in various income categories for at least two consecutive years.
Unmarried women are the single most important demographic this year. But unlike other "it" demographics (remember soccer moms?), single women are not a constituency that's in play: They're extremely reliable Democratic supporters.
In 2012, Barack Obama won the overall women's vote because of them. Mitt Romney actually won married women — by 7 points. But Obama crushed him with unmarried women, winning that cohort by a whopping 36 percentage points.
Single women make up about 25 percent of the electorate, and they're growing fast as marriage rates decline. But while they are reliable supporters for the Democrats — that is, when they vote — they are not reliable voters: Between 2008 and 2010, the participation of unmarried women fell by about 20 points. And between 2012 and 2014, single women's participation is expected to drop off by about the same rate.
New York Times
SANGER, Calif. — “Ya es tiempo — you have a voice,” Amanda Renteria, a Democratic candidate for Congress, declared one recent Saturday morning at a park in this little city southeast of Fresno. There was no need to translate the Spanish. The park was festooned with “Amanda Renteria para el Congreso” signs.
As she told her local-girl-makes-good story — daughter of onetime migrant fruit pickers, degrees from Stanford and Harvard, a job in Washington as a senator’s chief of staff — men in ranchero hats smiled with pride. Women choked back tears. Candidates like her, they said, do not come around often in places like this.
“We have been waiting, waiting,” said Diana Rodriquez, a retired teacher whose parents also worked the fields here in the agriculturally rich Central Valley, in a largely Hispanic congressional district. “We helped Obama win the election, and they still see us to be passed over. This is going to help the overall national cause — respect for our community.”
One student was wounded on Monday in a shooting at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, less than 24 hours after school officials said a gun was fired in a dormitory.
A male student suffered a gunshot to the head in what authorities described as a life threatening injury, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
A suspect was taken into custody and police believe the person and student may have been involved in an altercation, according to the statement.
The shooting was reported around 1 p.m. EDT and prompted officials to order a lock down at the college. The security measure was lifted some four hours later, but the campus remained closed to the public, university officials said.
Amid warnings that ethnic violence in South Sudan risks spiraling into genocide, the United States expects to impose sanctions on individuals on both sides of the conflict in the coming days, U.S. and other diplomatic sources said on Monday.
The sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that the sanctions would involve a ban on travel to the United States and the freezing of any assets under U.S. authority. People on both the rebel and government sides will be targeted, the sources added, without disclosing names.
"In the coming days," a U.S. official said about the expected timing of the move. The other sources confirmed that the United States had already made a decision to sanction several individuals and it was now a question of timing.
The fact that Washington is preparing U.S. sanctions against a country the United States helped create and has supported with large amounts of aid shows how frustrated President Barack Obama's administration has become with South Sudan's leaders.
A defense witness in the murder trial of South African track star Oscar Pistorius told the court on Monday she feared the double amputee would shoot himself with the gun he used to kill his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year.
Carice Viljoen and her father Johan, the manager of Pistorius' up-market Pretoria housing complex, were first on the scene after the 27-year-old shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in the early hours of February 14, 2013.
She said she feared Pistorius might use the gun he had left upstairs to kill himself after emergency services staff asked him to fetch the already dead Steenkamp's identification.
"I was scared that he might shoot himself," she told the court as the trial resumed after a two-week adjournment. "I couldn't hear him. I called out to him to hurry up with the bag."
Pistorius' defense hinges on his assertion that he heard a noise in the middle of the night and thought it was an intruder climbing into the bathroom adjoining his bedroom.
Grief-stricken and desititute Afghan villagers vented anger with their government as they scrambled for emergency aid, three days after deadly landslides engulfed their homes.
Some 300 homes in Aab Bareek, a village in the Argo district of Badakhshan, a remote and mountainous northeastern province, were buried under up to 50 meters of earth and debris.
The number of dead may never be known though U.N. and Afghan officials have estimated fatalities at anywhere between 500 and 2,700 people.
U.N. agencies and non governmental organizations distributed supplies, but displaced villagers complained others from nearby areas had taken supplies meant for them.
"There is no proper plan to give aid to the needy," Rahmatullah, a villager who lost five family members, told Reuters on Monday.
"People from other villages came here and receive help but the actual needy people are ignored by the officials," Rahmatullah said, his creased face covered with dust as he peered out of the tent he and his parents had been given.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry on Monday said pro-Russian militants were using civilians as human shields as its troops tried to make advances on Slovyansk. It said there were civilian casualties, although there were no figures given initially.
The ministry said four of its soldiers had been killed in the fighting and that 30 had been badly injured. It said gunmen were shooting from houses, some of which were on fire.
"They are waging a war on us, on our own territory ... my mission is to eliminate the terrorists," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told reporters.
The head of Ukraine's national guard, Stepan Poltorak, described the pro-Russian militants as being "bottled up" in the center of town, but added: "Our adversaries are well-trained and well-equipped."
Pro-Russian forces said as many as 20 of their members had been killed in the latest round of fighting. One rebel told the Interfax news agency that they had stopped the military advance further into the city after "great trouble."
The biggest rape trial in the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo has delivered just two guilty verdicts against government soldiers.
The trial relates to the alleged mass rape of 130 women by 39 soldiers. A military court in DR Congo on Monday cleared almost all of 39 soldiers accused of rape and murder in the country's eastern South Kivu province.
Of those convicted, only two were found guilty of rape, with a further 24 being convicted for other crimes such as looting.
Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb, reporting from outside the courtroom, said convictions for rape were rare, and the fact that the trial had taken place at all was a step forward.
"It remains to be seen whether those convicted serve their full sentence," he said.
The court in North Kivu imposed sentences of 10 and 20 years in jail for a number of soldiers who "violated instructions, looting and distributing ammunition," according to an AFP news agency journalist present at Monday's hearing.
A UN report last month released a report documenting 3,645 cases of sexual violence in the country between January 2010 and December 2013.
There was a time when Angela Merkel was committed to investigating the extent of NSA spying in Germany. Now, though, the chancellor has made an about face. Trans-Atlantic unity is her new priority, and the investigation has been left to languish.
In the world of diplomacy, moments of candor are rare, obscured as they are behind a veil of amicability and friendly gestures. It was no different last Friday at the meeting between US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington.Obama welcomed Merkel by calling her "one of my closest partners" and a "friend" and took her on a tour of the White House vegetable garden as part of the four hours he made available. He praised her as a "strong partner" in the Ukraine crisis and thanked her many times for the close cooperation exhibited in recent years. The birds in the Rose Garden sang happily as the president spoke.
The Vatican has been given another hostile interrogation by a United Nations committee over its record on clerical sex abuse.
One member after another of the committee against torture brushed aside the Holy See's argument that its obligation to enforce the UN convention against torture stopped at the boundaries of the world's smallest country, the Vatican city state. Instead, they demanded the pope's representative give answers to a long list of questions about the treatment of sex abuse claims against clergy throughout the world.
The Holy See, which long predates the city state, is a sovereign entity without territory. It is as the Holy See that the Catholic leadership maintains diplomatic relations and signs treaties such as the convention against torture.
But Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's UN ambassador in Geneva, told the committee: "The Holy See intends to focus exclusively on Vatican city state."
Two years ago, a Dutch law firm prepared a pitch in Moscow to Russian businesses: come to the Netherlands and we can help you avoid taxes and keep your assets safe.
“You can rely on our legal system!” the firm, Buren van Velzen Guelen, said in a slide presentation.
Such appeals have worked on a grand scale. Russia’s biggest oil, gas, mining and retail companies -- including some run by billionaires close to President Vladimir Putin -- have moved tens of billions of corporate assets to the Netherlands and other European countries often used for tax avoidance and capital flight, such as Luxembourg, Cyprus, Switzerland and Ireland.
Target Corp removed Chairman and Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel on Monday in the wake of a devastating data breach that hurt the No. 3 U.S. retailer's profits, shook customer confidence in the company and prompted congressional hearings.
The departure of the 35-year company veteran also follows Target's botched multi-billion dollar expansion into Canada.
"After extensive discussions, the board and Gregg Steinhafel have decided that now is the right time for new leadership at Target," the company's board said in a statement.
Steinhafel, 59, had been Target's CEO since 2008.
The Minneapolis-based company named Chief Financial Officer John Mulligan as interim chief executive, and Roxanne Austin, a member of Target's board of directors, as interim non-executive chair of the board.
Target's shares fell as much as 3 percent in morning trading.
Consider the impossible decision to be made about where to practice the A-lister artform of choice: schmoozing. There was the Kentucky Derby, Warren Buffett’s annual hoedown in Omaha and the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. The events were separated by enough geography that you’d need pilot Chuck Yeager behind the stick of a Gulfstream to make all of them.
However, anyone able to attend all three -- and even those of us who just read about it all later -- can walk away with a trifecta of wisdom. From the Derby, we learned: Don’t be afraid to bet on the favorite. From Buffett we learned: the Oracle of Omaha’s confidence in U.S. corporate profits is unwavering. And from the Commander in Chief’s selfie roast in D.C.: the geeks from Silicon Valley sure know how to throw a party.
Brain training is big business, with computerized brain games touted as a way to help prevent memory loss. But new research shows you might be better off picking up a challenging new hobby.
To test this theory, Dr. Denise Park, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas, randomly assigned 200 older people to different activities. Some learned digital photography. Another group took up quilting.
"Quilting may not seem like a mentally challenging task," Park says. "But if you're a novice and you're cutting out all these abstract shapes, it's a very demanding and complex task."
The groups spent 15 hours a week for three months learning their new skills. They were then given memory tests and compared with several control groups.
Plenty of people use Pinterest to find things — purses, posh hotels, eggplant parm recipes — but the rightful owner of a charm bracelet stolen 30 years ago? Leave that to the police.
In February, when an officer in Redwood City, Calif., discovered bags of stolen jewelry in the trunk of a car during a routine traffic stop, Detective Dave Stahler turned to social media — in hopes of tracking down the owner of a charm bracelet stamped with names and dates.
Eight hours after posting on his department's Facebook, Twitter — and the Pinterest page the agency launched in February — Stahler received information from not one but three people who helped identify the owner of the bracelet. That alone would be a good story — but when you learn that the jewelry was actually a mother's keepsake engraved with the names and birth dates of her children and stolen during a residential burglary in 1983, well, it's sweeter than all the red velvet cupcake recipes on Pinterest combined.
This is the fourth person in the area to be reunited with their property via Pinterest, according to an alert praising the "instrumental" role social media now play in the Redwood City Police Department, posted on Nixle, an online platform that connects the public with local government and law enforcement agencies.
Mozilla has drafted an alternative to the FCC's proposal to restore Net neutrality, which would require the commission to take a new approach to defining broadband services.
In a filing Monday to the Federal Communications Commission, the developer of the Firefox browser and operating system suggested the FCC start from scratch in terms of defining how to regulate broadband services. Instead of thinking of an Internet service as a connection between a broadband provider and a subscriber, the agency needs to recognize that there is also a third party involved in the relationship, Mozilla said in a blog post. Subscribers are using that Internet service to connect to websites, apps, and content providers, Mozilla noted.
Mozilla is proposing the FCC create a new definition for these relationships by calling them "remote delivery services." As such, Mozilla says this should be regulated like a Title II communication service under the Communications Act.
Let's face it, your dog will never be an Xbox master. And that's OK. If you want to introduce your pooch to the wonderful world of gaming, you'll need to take a different approach. Something like the CleverPet should do nicely.
CleverPet is a game console for dogs currently raising funding on Kickstarter. At its heart, it's a treat dispenser, but it doesn't give up its treasures lightly. The dog has to earn the tasty morsels by figuring out a series of increasingly challenging games.
It starts simply. The dog pushes any of the touchpad buttons and receives a treat. Then, only the lit buttons deliver a snack. The puzzles evolve from there, gaining complexity and involving different lights and colors.
As with a lot of human games, CleverPet adapts to the skill level of the dog so it doesn't get too frustrating or too easy. The device connects to Wi-Fi and is monitored through an app. You can check how your dog is doing and keep track of how many treats are going down the hatch.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of polio is an international public health emergency.
Outbreaks in Asia, Africa and Middle East are an "extraordinary event" needing a co-ordinated "international response", the agency says.
It recommends citizens of affected countries travelling abroad carry a vaccination certificate.
It says Pakistan, Cameroon, and Syria "pose the greatest risk of further wild poliovirus exportations in 2014."
The WHO recorded 417 cases of polio worldwide for the whole of 2013. For 2014, it had already recorded 68 cases by 30 April - up from 24 in the same period last year.
Polio mainly affects children under five years old.