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briefs

Asteroid-mission funds sought

– The next giant leap in space exploration might be a short hop on a small space rock.

Next week, President Obama will request $105 million in NASA’s 2014 budget for a mission that would capture a small asteroid, tug it near the moon, and later send astronauts to study it and grab samples.

The asteroid-capturing robot could launch as soon as 2017, with astronauts flying to meet it near the moon by 2021, according to a NASA briefing presented to Congress last week.

The president’s request includes $78 million for NASA to develop technologies for the project and $27 million for beefing up the agency’s asteroid-detection work. The mission would fulfill a goal Obama set three years ago to send astronauts to an asteroid.

No hints on future in Clinton speech

Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a rousing speech Friday in New York about improving the future of women across the globe, gave no hint of plans for her own future. But that didn’t mean everyone in the audience wasn’t thinking about it.

“Of course, the big question now about Hillary is what’s next,” quipped Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek and the Daily Beast, as she introduced the former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate to the annual Women in the World summit.

The crowd at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater responded with cheers.

Two months after stepping down as secretary of state, Clinton re-emerged this week with two major speeches – one in Washington on Tuesday and Friday’s address to the high-profile women’s conference, attended by celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey.

Assad: Overthrow to threaten Mideast

Syrian President Bashar Assad warned in comments broadcast Friday that the fall of his regime or the breakup of his nation will cause a “domino effect” that will fuel Middle East instability for years, in his sharpest warning yet about the potential fallout of his country’s civil war on neighboring states.

In Moscow, Russia’s president said the Syrian conflict has become “a massacre” that must be stopped through peace talks and repeated the Kremlin’s firm rejection of calls for Assad’s ouster.

Diplomats urged to leave North Korea

North Korea has advised foreign diplomats to consider evacuating their embassies in Pyongyang in light of increasing tensions in the region, Russian and British diplomats said Friday.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, told reporters traveling with him in Uzbekistan on Friday afternoon that Moscow was seeking more details about the North Korean statement before making a decision about whether to evacuate.

The British Foreign Office said its embassy “received a communication from the North Korean government this morning saying that the North Korean government would be unable to guarantee the safety of embassies and international organizations in the country in the event of conflict from April 10.”

Tortoise not stolen; employee moved it

An African leopard tortoise thought to be stolen from an Iowa museum was actually trapped behind paneling in her enclosure, and a misguided employee who found her lied to keep up the story about her theft, the museum announced Friday.

In a bizarre move, the employee who found the 18-pound reptile named Cashew put her into a building elevator in an attempt to prevent the museum further embarrassment, said Jerry Enzler, president and CEO of the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque.

The tortoise was found alone in a museum elevator on Thursday, two days after the museum had discovered she was missing and announced that she had been stolen. The 9-year-old tortoise will be back on display today.

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