U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday will meet with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at the White House for an update to the controversy involving delays in healthcare for military veterans. The White House said the meeting will include top Obama aide Rob Nabors, who is scheduled to travel to Phoenix later on Wednesday to visit the medical facility at the center of allegations and meet with veterans and their representatives. In coming days, Obama is expected to speak out about the allegations that doctors at the facility in Phoenix were ordered to put veterans' names for months on a secret waiting list until a spot opened up on an official list to make the waiting times appear shorter.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has no way of fully knowing which U.S. chemical facilities stock ammonium nitrate, the substance that exploded last year at a Texas fertilizer plant and killed 14 people, congressional investigators say. Outdated federal policies, poor information sharing with states and a raft of industry exemptions point to scant federal oversight, says a new report obtained by The Associated Press.
The rains have already come to Daldako, where Sudan's Rapid Support Forces are digging in. Troops from the controversial unit are on alert for rebel retaliation, two days after they say they seized this strategic area about 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of South Kordofan's state capital Kadugli. Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) on Tuesday allowed journalists a rare visit to South Kordofan, where access is tightly restricted. Ethnic minority rebels have been fighting government forces for three years in a largely-hidden war which the UN says has affected more than one million people.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki would be granted more authority to fire or demote senior executives under a bill headed to the House floor. The measure comes as pressure builds on Capitol Hill to overhaul the beleaguered agency in response to allegations of treatment delays and preventable deaths.
Syria's stocks of a key chemical used to produce the deadly nerve agent sarin have been destroyed, the mission overseeing the destruction of its chemical arsenal said. "Now 7.2 percent of Syria's chemical weapons material remains in country and awaits swift removal for onward destruction. Under a US-Russian deal negotiated last year, Syria signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention and agreed to hand over its entire chemical weapons arsenal by June 30 of this year. Syria was not required to declare its stockpile of chlorine -- a toxic but weak agent -- as it is widely used for commercial and domestic purposes.
Ukraine plans to deploy more than 55,000 police and 20,000 volunteers to ensure that Sunday's presidential ballot goes off smoothly despite the bloody separatist uprising gripping the industrialised east. The interior ministry's public order director Andriy Chaliy conceded that the "threat of Russia's aggression and the actions of separatists in the east" posed a threat to Sunday's snap vote. Rebels in the mostly Russian-speaking regions of Lugansk and Donetsk have vowed to disrupt the election and instead seek recognition as independent states that could one day be folded into Russia as the Crimean peninsula had been in March. Ukraine's parliament agreed on Tuesday to put a conciliatory measure up for a future vote that would grant more powers to the regions and ensure that the right to speak Russian in public institutions is enshrined in the constitution.
Iran on Wednesday denied as "completely unfounded" a report that it is recruiting Afghan refugees to fight in Syria to help its ally battle rebels. Citing Afghans and Western officials, the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards was offering Iranian residency and $500 monthly stipends to thousands of Afghans to fight Syrian rebels. "The claim of the US paper is completely unfounded and is aimed at damaging Iran's reputation in Afghanistan," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in a statement carried by Iranian media. "This is an insult to the people of Afghanistan and the Wall Street Journal needs to apologise to them," she added.
Blantyre (Malawi) (AFP) - Voting in Malawi's heated elections spilled into a second day Wednesday after riots sparked by the late opening of polling stations marred a vote seen as a test of President Joyce Banda's scandal-tainted rule. Late openings and delivery of ballot papers disrupted voting in one percent of the more than 4,000 centres on Tuesday. In the southern African nation's commercial capital Blantyre voting was again delayed on Wednesday because ballot papers had not been printed on time, according to an AFP correspondent. Election chief Maxon Mbendera acknowledged it was an "embarrassing situation", but denied any intention to disenfranchise individuals.
Prince Charles has compared the recent actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in World War II, media reports said Wednesday. Marienne Ferguson, a 78-year-old who fled the Nazis aged 13 and lost family members in the Holocaust, said the heir to the throne made the controversial remark during a tour of a museum in Canada. "I had finished showing him the exhibit and talked with him about my own family background and how I came to Canada," Ferguson told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper.
Insurgents have killed 16 policemen in Afghanistan in the space of one day and beheaded eight of them, officials said Wednesday, as security forces prepare to guard a second-round election. Villagers in the southern province of Zabul Tuesday found the decapitated bodies of eight local policemen who were seized two weeks ago, deputy provincial governor Mohammad Jan Rassoulyar told AFP. The policemen were snatched by militants after an attack on their convoy. The deputy police chief of Zabul, Ghulam Jilani Farahi, said the policemen were first shot and then decapitated.