"Campaigns are the time for debates about the vision for our future and for voters to asses the character and experience of those offering ideas," the former Rhode Island governor said in a Web video.
250 by Ali Elkin. MOVED
^Biden says momentum is turning against Islamic militants in Iraq<
BIDEN-IRAQ:BLO _ U.S. Vice President Joe Biden gave an upbeat assessment of the Iraqi government's fight against Islamic State militants, defending the administration's strategy ahead of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Washington visit next week.
"It's not over yet, but the momentum is in the right direction," Biden said Thursday in a speech at National Defense University in Washington. The Islamic State's "aura of inevitability has been pierced."
Biden cited battlefield victories against militants including the Iraqi government's recapture of Tikrit this month as evidence of progress.
700 (with trims) by Mike Dorning in Washington. MOVED
^California AG Kamala Harris urges forgiveness of student debt from predatory colleges<
CMP-HARRIS-LOANS:BLO _ California Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris signed on to a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan Thursday that asks the federal government to wipe away the debt amassed by college students targeted at the non-profit Corinthian Colleges Inc.
Harris was joined by the top law enforcement officials in eight other states in seeking forgiveness for the debt students amassed at Corinthian.
450 by David Knowles. MOVED
^Obama: US closer to decision on removing Cuba's terrorism sponsor label<
USCUBA:TBW _ President Barack Obama said Thursday that his State Department has finished a review of whether to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, potentially the first step in formally changing U.S. policy toward the island nation at a time of warming diplomatic relations.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the Jamaican prime minister in Kingston, Obama said that the report was sent to the White House and will go through an interagency process before it is given to him. He did not say what the recommendation was.
550 by Michael A. Memoli in Panama City. MOVED
Also moving as:
USCUBA-1ST-LEDE:WA _ 1050 (with trims) by Tim Johnson in Panama City. MOVED
^Obama is waging an all-out campaign for Iran deal<
USIRAN-NUCLEAR-OBAMA-1ST-LEDE:WA _ Even as Iran's supreme leader suggested another hurdle to a nuclear deal Thursday, President Barack Obama and his administration waged an aggressive coordinated campaign to stop Congress from interfering.
Making his first public comments on the deal, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the deal would be signed in late June only if economic sanctions are lifted at once _ not in phases as the Obama administration insists.
Obama did not acknowledge the remarks out of Tehran as he spoke in Jamaica, but he said he was confident that the framework would ensure that Iran didn't obtain nuclear weapons, keeping his focus at least publicly on selling the pact in the U.S.
1000 (with trims) by Lesley Clark in Washington. MOVED
^Desperation for Americans in Yemen as US refuses to mount rescue<
USYEMEN-EVACUATIONS-1ST-LEDE-CORRECTION:WA _ A Michigan family with two toddlers and an infant was stranded in Yemen after being forced from its home by rebel gunmen. A California woman tried to flee through an arrangement with the embassy of Djibouti, but failed. A mother of four from New York also tried that route, at the State Department's suggestion, only to hear the same reply: There would be no help.
These accounts are among dozens presented in a lawsuit filed Thursday by Arab and Muslim civil rights groups seeking to force the Obama administration into taking action to bring home U.S. citizens who are stuck in Yemen's worsening conflict.
1350 (with trims) by Hannah Allam in Washington. MOVED
^Lawsuit seeks records on 2 Clinton donors, questions influence on her decisions<
CLINTON-LAWSUIT:WA _ The conservative group Citizens United filed a lawsuit Thursday demanding that the State Department turn over correspondence it hopes will help determine whether Hillary Clinton's decisions as the nation's top diplomat were swayed by a pair of wealthy donors to her family's foundation.
Citizens United said in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that its public records requests for documents from the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act have gone unanswered for seven to 10 months.
950 (with trims) by Anita Kumar in Washington. MOVED
^Analysis: Launching of Clinton campaign presents challenges for her team<
CLINTON-ANALYSIS:TBW _ The places where presidential campaigns kick off are almost always laden with symbolism, and for most candidates it is welcome.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a child of Cuban immigrants, will appear at Miami's Freedom Tower, entry point to the United States for so many Cuban refugees. Fiery social conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, decamped to the Christian evangelical university founded by Jerry Falwell. And libertarian Sen. Rand Paul went home to Kentucky's Galt House hotel, which shares its name with a protagonist in one of the Ayn Rand novels he treasures.
But for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the stagecraft of the launch is fraught.
1050 (with trims) by Evan Halper in Washington. MOVED
^Oklahoma bill on use of nitrogen gas in executions goes to governor<
OKLAHOMA-EXECUTIONS:LA _ Beset by claims of barbarism after a gruesome botched execution last year and fearful that a U.S. Supreme Court decision could ban its execution drug of choice, Oklahoma would be the first state in the nation to execute inmates with nitrogen gas under a bill sent Thursday to the governor.
The bill, HB 1879, would make nitrogen the second available means to carry out capital punishment, after lethal injection.
"If the execution of the sentence of death is held unconstitutional by an appellate court of competent jurisdiction or is otherwise unavailable," the bill reads, "then the sentence of death shall be carried out by nitrogen hypoxia."
350 by Nigel Duara. MOVED
^US blocks settlement between Lance Armstrong, ex-teammate Landis<
CYC-ARMSTRONG:WA _ Uncle Sam has now further complicated the high-stakes grudge match between disgraced bicyclist Lance Armstrong and his former teammate, Floyd Landis.
In a twist that even a federal judge admitted "might seem unfair," the Justice Department has succeeded in blocking a settlement totaling $600,000 that Landis reached with Armstrong's business associates. The department did not explain its objections to settling a case it previously declined to enter.
550 (with trims) by Michael Doyle in Washington. MOVED
^Conservatives find political red meat in USDA diet guidelines<
DIET-GUIDELINES:CON _ From the IRS to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Federal Communications Commission, federal agencies are under more scrutiny from congressional Republicans concerned about regulatory overreach than at any time in Barack Obama's presidency.
Add the Department of Agriculture to the list.
A group of 71 GOP House members has jumped into a growing controversy over proposed new dietary guidelines for Americans released earlier this year by a USDA advisory committee.
300 by David Eldridge in Washington. MOVED
^McCarthy outlines busy, maybe tense, April work period<
CONGRESS:CON _ After a two-week respite for Congress, April is shaping up to be a month of long nights, nods to the GOP base and divisions on both sides of the aisle.
That's according to a memo sent to members Thursday by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
500 by Emma Dumain in Washington. MOVED
^Rand Paul unveils foreign policy doctrine in South Carolina<
PAUL:LX _ With the formidable USS Yorktown as a backdrop, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., declared Thursday that he would "never take the country to war without just cause and without constitutional approval of Congress."
On his second full day as a presidential candidate, having traded the snow of New Hampshire on Wednesday for the humidity of South Carolina, Paul sought to go on offense as Republican critics continued to assail the senator over past remarks about Iran.
1100 (with trims) by Sam Youngman in Mount Pleasant, S.C. MOVED
^Clinton's team is preparing behind the scenes, largely out of a closet<
CLINTON-TEAM:TBW _ The road that Hillary Rodham Clinton hopes to take to the Oval Office begins in a Midtown Manhattan supply closet.
When fully operational, her campaign for president will occupy two floors of office space in a Brooklyn high-rise. But for now, the small band of Democratic operatives that will make up her senior campaign team are conducting a lot of business in a cramped room surrounded by copy paper and cleaning supplies.
That a presidential campaign-in-waiting is operating in such meager conditions is hardly unusual, given the tactical and legal restrictions that come before an official announcement. The wind-up to a presidential launch requires discretion and sacrifice among early staff who often are unpaid volunteers _ as are some members of Clinton's team.
900 (with trims) by Michael A. Memoli in Washington. MOVED
^Wisconsin taxpayers footed the bill for Gov. Walker's Britain trip to tune of $138,200<
WALKER-ADV10:MW _ On the eve of another foreign trip, Gov. Scott Walker's administration disclosed Thursday that Wisconsin taxpayers paid $138,200 for his February trip to Great Britain, which was billed as a trade mission but freighted with political overtones from his likely 2016 presidential bid.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which organized the six-day trip to England, laid out the costs in response to a request from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, doing so a day before another taxpayer-funded, weeklong European trip that Walker is taking as he seeks to boost his foreign policy credentials.
950 (with trims) by Jason Stein in Madison, Wis. MOVED
^Stuart Rothenberg: RSLC presents GOP state level gains out of context<
ROTHENBERG-GOP-STATES:CON _ This week's effort to mislead, hoodwink and generally pull the wool over our eyes comes courtesy of the Republican State Leadership Committee. "Blue States Bleeding Red" was written by RSLC President Matt Walter and appeared on Townhall.com Sunday.
Republicans made great gains at the state and local levels in 2010 and 2014, and that certainly gives the RSLC and other party groups the right to brag about those results. But what they don't have is the right to lead readers to faulty conclusions.
750 by Stuart Rothenberg in Washington. MOVED
^Moving parts complicate Democratic challenge to McCain<
Democrats trying to game out the Senate race are facing a dizzying number of variables: a pending Supreme Court decision that could result in the redrawing of congressional district lines, the potential for a nasty Republican primary, whether Hillary Rodham Clinton will make a play for Arizona in the presidential race, and whether Democratic outside groups would devote resources to a state where the party hasn't won a Senate seat since 1988.
1000 (with trims) by Alexis Levinson. MOVED
^UNITED STATES <
^Durst pleads not guilty to gun charges, California extradition delayed<
DURST:LA _ Robert Durst pleaded not guilty Thursday to two state gun charges in Louisiana in a case that would delay his extradition to California to face murder charges.
A day after a grand jury indicted the real estate magnate on gun charges, Durst appeared in court Thursday, declaring "I am not guilty, your honor."
"On both counts?" the judge asked.
"Yes," Durst responded.
After the hearing, Durst's Houston-based attorney Dick DeGuerin reiterated his interest in having his client quickly extradited to California, where he is wanted his connection with a 15-year-old murder case.
750 by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Veronica Rocha in New Orleans. MOVED
^New letter from Robert Durst talks of football, opera, but not murder<
DURST-LETTER:LA _ The Los Angeles Times has received a letter purported to be from New York real estate magnate Robert Durst in which he declines to address his arrest on murder charges but discusses real estate, football, opera, his health and his years living in Los Angeles.
The Times received the letter Wednesday, two weeks after a reporter sent an inquiry to Durst on March 25. The letter's return address says it's from Robert Durst, Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, the prison in St. Gabriel, La., where Durst has been housed since his arrest last month in New Orleans on a California warrant. It's postmarked April 1 out of Baton Rouge, about 15 miles north of the prison.
800 by Molly Hennessy-Fiske in New Orleans. MOVED
^Judge bans TV cameraman in Hernandez case<
FBN-HERNANDEZ-TRIAL:HC _ Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh on Thursday banned a news cameraman from covering Aaron Hernandez's murder trial after two jurors approached the court to report that a television news truck followed them when they left court the previous night.
750 by Jenny Wilson in Fall River, Mass. (Moved as a sports story.) MOVED
^Wisconsin man charged with trying to join Islamic State group<
USISLAMICSTATE-ARREST-ADV10:MW _ A Madison, Wis., man has been charged with trying to travel to Syria or Iraq to join the Islamic State terrorist group.
Joshua Ray Van Haften, 34, was charged in federal court with attempting to provide material support and resources _ "namely himself as personnel" _ to a foreign terrorist organization. He was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Wednesday evening after landing on a flight from Turkey, where he had been detained since the end of October by that country's immigration authorities.
1200 (with trims) by Mary Spicuzza and Jason Stein in Milwaukee. MOVED
^Female veteran who committed suicide 'had everything going for her'<
Former Army staff sergeant Michelle R. Langhorst, 31, of Plum served nine years in the Army, mostly as a member of the military police, before an honorable discharge in 2012. She had graduated from Point Park University last year and recently got a job as a security supervisor at UPMC Shadyside.
"She was moving forward. She had everything going for her," said Natalie Guiler, who taught Langhorst last year in a tutorial class at Point Park. But Langhorst's death stood out for two main reasons: she was female and she had been receiving behavioral health treatment at the VA for at least a couple of years.
850 by Sean Hamill in Pittsburgh. MOVED
^University of Michigan reverses course, will show 'American Sniper'<
"It was a mistake to cancel the showing of the movie 'American Sniper' on campus as part of a social event for students," the statement from E. Royster Harper, the vice president of student life, said.
900 (with trims) by David Jesse. MOVED
^Sabra announces hummus recall<
The Colonial Heights, Va., firm issued the voluntary recall for five lines of the product that were distributed to retail stores nationwide. To date, no other Sabra products have been affected and no illnesses have been reported, company officials said.
200 by Jonel Aleccia. MOVED
^David Laventhol, former publisher of LA Times, dies at 81<
LAVENTHOL-OBIT:LA _ David Laventhol, an editor and publisher who helped create the innovative style section of The Washington Post and launch New York Newsday and guided the Los Angeles Times during a period of expansion in the early 1990s, has died. He was 81.
Laventhol, who had in recent years been working on a book about the history of Times Mirror Corp. despite worsening symptoms of Parkinson's disease, died Wednesday at his New York home, said former Times executive Steven Isenberg.
900 (with trims) by Doug Smith. MOVED
^Geoffrey Lewis, actor in several Clint Eastwood movies, dies at 79<
LEWIS-OBIT:LA _ Geoffrey Lewis, a character actor with hundreds of Hollywood credits who was best known for his roles as a sidekick in Clint Eastwood films, has died. He was 79.
Lewis, whose rugged features and blue eyes made his face more recognizable than his name, had a heart attack Tuesday as he was working out with his son Miles Hochhalter Lewis at the Motion Picture Hospital in Woodland Hills.
600 by Steve Chawkins in Los Angeles. MOVED
^Four dead in Milan court shooting, suspected attacker arrested<
MILAN-SHOOTING:DPA _ Four people died and one person was seriously injured on Thursday, after a gunman opened fire inside Milan's court of justice, in a shocking incident that raised questions about lax security at the site.
Two people who suffered cardiac arrest were declared dead after being hospitalized, and a third body was found inside the justice palace with no apparent wounds, local emergency services said in a statement.
A fourth victim, taken to hospital in a critical condition, died during surgery, according to the ANSA news agency.
350 by Alvise Armellini in Milan. MOVED
^Two journalists in Turkey face jail over Charlie Hebdo cartoon<
TURKEY-CARTOON:DPA _ Two Turkish journalists could face up to 4 1/2 years in prison for publishing a cartoon from the French satirical magazine Charli Hebdo featuring the Islamic prophet Mohammed, the reporters said Thursday.
Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Cetinkaya were both accused of spreading hatred and insulting religious values.
150 in Istanbul. MOVED
^Hackers black out French TV network, hijack websites to back Islamic State<
ISLAMICSTATE-HACKERS:LA _ Hackers acting in support of Islamic State extremists knocked out the global broadcast network of France's TV5 early Thursday, then hijacked its website and social media to post warnings against French participation in airstrikes against the militants in Iraq and Syria.
The computer system of TV5 Monde, whose Facebook page says it reaches 257 million households in 200 countries and territories, was invaded by malware late Wednesday that took over the network's transmission server and blocked its satellite signal, network executives told French and international media.
550 by Carol J. Williams. MOVED
^Pakistani leader's Saudi ties make it hard to say 'no' on Yemen<
PAKISTAN-YEMEN:WA _ Pakistan's soft-spoken prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, is in a difficult bind as his Parliament debates how to respond to Saudi Arabia's request that it send troops, warplanes and naval vessels to join the Arab coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen: He's really not in a position to say no.
That's because he owes his career path, business interests and possibly his life to Saudi Arabia's royal family, say analysts who've followed Sharif's 34-year political career.
"Sharif would be wise to heed the advice of Don Vito Corleone, who said in 'The Godfather,' 'A refusal is not the act of a friend,'" said Arif Rafiq, president of Vizier Consulting, an adviser on political and strategic risk in the Middle East and South Asia.
1150 (with trims) by Tom Hussein in Islamabad. MOVED
^SCIENCE, MEDICINE, ENVIRONMENT<
^DNA analysis validates link between short stature and heart risk<
SCI-HEIGHT-HEART:LA _ When Randy Newman sang his tongue-in-cheek tune about short people, he called attention to their "little hands, little eyes" and their "little baby legs." Nowhere does his 1978 hit mention that short people also have an increased risk of coronary artery disease.
But scientists have established this link in several large studies, and a new one shows that it's not just a coincidence. Some of the genetic variants that cause people to have short stature also tend to boost their levels of "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides _ two risk factors for coronary artery disease.
750 by Karen Kaplan. MOVED
^Patch to treat peanut allergies to get expedited FDA review<
MED-PEANUTPATCH:SE _ A medical skin patch tested by Seattle-area doctors and families to treat dangerous peanut allergies in children will receive accelerated regulatory review, officials said Thursday.
The Viaskin Peanut patch made by the French biotech firm DBV Technologies was granted a breakthrough therapy designation by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
400 by JoNel Aleccia in Seattle. MOVED
^Complex organic molecules found in a young star system<
The findings, published in the journal Nature, show that the same chemical building blocks that support the kind of life as we know it may regularly form around far-off stars.
"From my point of view, it's really good news that we're not that special," said lead author Karin Oberg, an astrochemist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "We know that life originated somehow in the solar system _ and it would be very exciting if it also originated somewhere else."
"Having the same kind of chemistry present," she added, "removes one more barrier to that being true."
800 (with trims) by Amina Khan. MOVED
^TODAY'S TOP NEWSFEATURES<
^Out from behind the counter, pharmacists bring their own take to health care<
HEALTHCARE-PHARMACISTS:LA _ Jose Alvarez clutches a red drawstring bag as he hobbles into a small office. He leans his crutches against the wall and takes a seat in the corner. His seven pill bottles, of varying heights, create a miniature skyline of orange and white.
A heavyset man with a scraggly beard, Alvarez has diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. He's here at this clinic in East Los Angeles for his 2 p.m. appointment with Sangeeta Salvi.
Despite the white coat slung over the back of her chair, Salvi isn't a physician, but a pharmacist.
She's one of a growing number moving out from behind grocery store pharmacy counters across the country and seeing patients in new ways, part of a push to reduce health care costs, address social issues that impede people's health and ease a national shortage of primary care physicians.
1250 (with trims) by Soumya Karlamangla in Los Angeles. MOVED
^In Myanmar, sidecars still a popular mode of transport<
MYANMAR-SIDECARS:LA _ Tanned to a deep espresso, shaded by a bamboo hat strapped under his chin, Linn Naing mounts his black Hero bicycle like a cowboy saddling up on his steed. He props up the red cushions in his sidecar, and his flip-flopped feet churn the pedals, heaving man and machine forward in search of an honest day's wage.
Linn Naing, dressed in a blue skirtlike wrap called a lungyi, a cellphone in the breast pocket, sails past crumbling colonial-era edifices, their paint faded to pale yellow and light sienna. He breezes by billboards advertising Laser toothpaste and Mercedes-Benzes, and an Internet cafe called Google.
750 (with trims) by Julie Makinen in Yangon, Myanmar. MOVED
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