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Australia readies 50 police to send to Ukraine

Australia sends 50 police to London in anticipation of joining UN security force in Ukraine
The Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia has sent 50 police to London in anticipation of deploying them to the Ukraine to secure the Malaysian plane crash site as part of a United Nations team.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the police pre-deployment on Thursday. He says foreign ministers of Australia and Netherlands are going to Kyiv to seek a memorandum of understanding that will allow international police to secure the crash site in rebel-held east Ukraine.

UN human development report faults inequality

Annual UN human development report finds halting progress in key measures
Elaine Kurtenbach, The Associated Press

TOKYO - Improvements in life spans, education and incomes are slowing due to natural disasters, misguided government policies and worsening inequality in a world where the 85 richest people have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest people, the United Nations said Thursday in its annual human development report.

US global database for passports, visas crashes

US global database for passports, visas crashes; major delays expected for millions
Matthew Lee, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The U.S. State Department's global database for issuing travel documents has crashed, resulting in major delays for potentially millions of people around the world waiting for U.S. passports and visas, officials said Wednesday.

Senator says he had PTSD when he wrote thesis

Montana senator says he was being treated for PTSD when he used unattributed work in thesis
The Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. - U.S. Sen. John Walsh said Wednesday his failure to attribute conclusions and verbatim passages lifted from other scholars' work in his master's degree thesis at the U.S. Army War College was an unintentional mistake caused in part by post-traumatic stress disorder.

Republican asks if flight ban is boycott of Israel

Republican suggests FAA flight ban amounts to Obama launching economic boycott of Israel
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - A potential Republican presidential contender in 2016 on Wednesday questioned whether President Barack Obama used a federal agency to impose an economic boycott on Israel after the Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. airline flights to Tel Aviv because of safety concerns amid fighting between Israel and Hamas.

The State Department rejected the lawmaker's comments as "ridiculous and offensive."

Audit: NASA doesn't have the money for big rockets

Failure to launch? Auditors say NASA doesn't have enough money to build big rockets on time
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - NASA does not have enough money to get its new, $12 billion rocket system off the ground by the end of 2017 as planned, federal auditors say.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report Wednesday saying NASA's Space Launch System is at "high risk of missing" its planned December 2017 initial test flight. The post-space shuttle program would build the biggest rockets ever — larger than the Saturn V rockets which sent men to the moon — to send astronauts to asteroids and Mars.

Lockdown lifted at US Air Force base

Lockdown ends at US Air Force base after 'suspicious person' report found not credible
The Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. - U.S. military officials lifted a lockdown Wednesday at Little Rock Air Force Base after determining that a report of a suspicious person was no longer credible.

An "all clear" announcement was sent across the base's public-address system about five hours after the lockdown began. People who live on base had been urged to stay indoors.

New safety rules proposed to curb oil train fires

US proposes tougher tank car rules, other standards to prevent oil train fires
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Thousands of older rail tank cars that carry crude oil would be phased out within two years under U.S. regulations proposed Wednesday in response to a series of fiery train crashes over the past year, including a runaway oil train that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

Accident investigators have complained for decades that the cars are too easily punctured or ruptured, spilling their contents, when derailed.

Police ticket boy after toy motorcycle hits SUV

Mexico police ticket 6-year-old boy, impound his toy motorcycle after crash with SUV
The Associated Press

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Police in this border city repented Thursday over ticketing a 6-year-old boy for reckless driving, driving without a license and not having his vehicle registered after he drove his miniature motorcycle into an SUV.

The boy's mother, Karla Noriega, said police impounded the miniature gasoline-powered motorbike that her son got for Christmas after he crashed into an SUV on Dec. 27.

Myanmar frees prominent political prisoners

Myanmar releases prominent political prisoners after presidential pardon
The Associated Press

YANGON, Myanmar - Myanmar has freed several prominent political prisoners, which has been a key condition set by Western countries for easing sanctions against the country.

Myanmar authorities freed the prisoners Friday as part of a presidential pardon for 651 detainees. Relatives and supporters of activists and ethnic minority politicians confirmed their release.

Myanmar state radio and television announced said that the 651 detainees were being freed to take part in "nation-building."

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