Chernobyl cap could be casualty of Ukraine crisis
Ukraine's political and economic meltdown could spell doom - or at least delay - for a containment dome being built over Chernobyl.
Construction of the coated steel, climate-controlled sarcophagus was begun in 2010 to cover the site of the infamous 1986 meltdown, scene of the worst nuclear accident in history. But finishing the $2.1 billion project requires money and, likely, stability from the Ukraine government and international backers. Planned in sections comprised of two 300-foot-high arches that will span the site and then be walled on the sides, the project will never be completed by the original goal of 2015, officials acknowledge.
MORE PINGS RAISE HOPES PLANE WILL BE FOUND SOON
PERTH, Australia (AP) -- The frustrating monthlong search for the Malaysian jetliner received a tremendous boost when a navy ship detected two more signals that most likely emanated from the aircraft's black boxes. The Australian official coordinating the search expressed hope Wednesday that the wreckage will soon be found.
Angus Houston, head of a joint agency coordinating the search for the missing plane in the southern Indian Ocean, said that the Australian naval vessel Ocean Shield picked up the two signals on Tuesday, and that an analysis of two sounds detected in the same area on Saturday showed they were consistent with a plane's black boxes.
HAGEL, CHANG AIR DIFFERENCES OVER DISPUTED ISLANDS
BEIJING (AP) -- The defense chiefs of China and the U.S. faced off Tuesday over Beijing's escalating territorial disputes in the region, with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel telling his Chinese counterparts they do not have the right to unilaterally establish an air defense zone over disputed islands with no consultation.
And he said America will protect Japan, the Philippines and other allies locked in disputes with China, as laid out in U.S. treaty obligations.
2 NEW PINGS SOUND 'JUST LIKE' BLACK BOX BEACONS
PERTH, Australia (AP) -- An Australian ship detected two distinct, long-lasting sounds underwater that are consistent with the pings from aircraft black boxes in a major break in the monthlong hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, the search coordinator said Monday.
Navy specialists were urgently trying to pick up the signal again so they can triangulate its position and go to the next step of sending an unmanned miniature submarine into the depths to try to identify plane wreckage.
AP PHOTOGRAPHER KILLED, REPORTER WOUNDED
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A veteran Associated Press photographer was killed and an AP reporter was wounded on Friday when an Afghan policeman opened fire while they were sitting in their car in eastern Afghanistan.
Anja Niedringhaus, 48, an internationally acclaimed German photographer, was killed instantly, according to an AP Television News freelancer who witnessed the shooting.
US SECRETLY BUILT 'CUBAN TWITTER' TO STIR UNREST
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. government masterminded the creation of a "Cuban Twitter" - a communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba, built with secret shell companies and financed through foreign banks, The Associated Press has learned.
The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba's stranglehold on the Internet with a primitive social media platform. First, the network would build a Cuban audience, mostly young people; then, the plan was to push them toward dissent.
BLAST KILLS 6 AT AFGHAN INTERIOR MINISTRY COMPOUND
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A suicide bomber wearing a military uniform struck the heavily fortified Interior Ministry compound in the heart of Kabul on Wednesday and killed six police officers, authorities said, in an escalation of Taliban violence aimed at disrupting this weekend's presidential election.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the bomber got through several checkpoints to reach the ministry gate before detonating his explosives. An Interior Ministry statement said the bomber was among other men in uniform entering the compound.
RUSSIA HIKES GAS PRICE FOR UKRAINE
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia on Tuesday sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine and threatened to reclaim billions previous discounts, raising the heat on its cash-strapped government, while Ukrainian police moved to disarm members of a radical nationalist group after a shooting spree in the capital.
NATO foreign ministers were gathering for a two-day meeting in Brussels to consider further steps in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea, including measures to reassure the Baltic states, Poland, and Romania that the alliance would help guarantee their security.
RUSSIAN PM MEDVEDEV MAKES SURPRISE VISIT TO CRIMEA
SIMFEROPOL, Crimea (AP) -- On a surprise visit Monday to Crimea, Russia's prime minister promised to quickly pour funds into the newly annexed peninsula so residents see positive changes after the Russian takeover.
Dmitry Medvedev, who led a delegation of Cabinet ministers to Crimea, pledged that Russia will quickly boost salaries and pensions there and pour in resources to improve education, health care and local infrastructure. A special government ministry has been created to oversee Crimea's development.
Russian troops said to be hiding positions, creating supply lines near Ukraine border
The United Nations Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as concerns mount over new details about Russia's military buildup on the Ukrainian border, including Moscow's reported efforts to camouflage troops and equipment.
The council is expected to meet privately Friday afternoon, a day after the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution affirming Ukraine's territorial integrity and deeming the referendum that led to Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula illegal.
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