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BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces have attacked rebel-held areas with poisonous chlorine gas in recent weeks and months, leaving men, women and children coughing, choking and gasping for breath, according to Associated Press interviews with more than a dozen activists, medics and residents on the opposition side.
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday confirmed they are detaining a U.S. journalist working with Vice News. The self-declared separatist mayor of Slaviansk told reporters the journalist, Simon Ostrovsky, had been detained for reporting what he said was false information that was "destabilizing for us" but that he was being treated well. Mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov attempted to joke about the situation.
Slavyansk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Russia issued a sharp warning on Wednesday that it will strike back if its "legitimate interests" in Ukraine are attacked, raising the stakes in the Cold War-like duel with the United States over the former Soviet republic's future. Both the government and Russia's powerful Gazprom company also made strident noises over Ukraine's unpaid debt for Russian gas, estimated at $3.5 billion (2.5 billion euros). Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state-controlled RT television that if Russia or its interests are attacked, "we would certainly respond". "If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law," he said, referring to Russia's armoured invasion of Georgia in 2008.
The Ukrainian town councilor whose apparent torture and murder helped to prompt a threatened new government offensive in the east was mobbed by a hostile, pro-Russian crowd before he disappeared, a video of the incident shows. The apparent murder of Volodymyr Rybak and a second man prompted the European Union to call on Russia to use its influence to stop kidnappings and killings in mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, scene of separatist rebellions against Kiev's leaders. The footage from April 17 on local news site gorlovka.ua shows angry scenes outside the town hall of Horlivka, between the separatist flashpoint cities of Donetsk and Slaviansk, as Rybak is manhandled by several men, among them a masked man in camouflage, while other people hurl abuse. Ukraine's interior ministry said he was seen being bundled into a car by masked men in camouflage later that day.
JINDO, South Korea (AP) — As the 156th body was pulled from waters where the ferry Sewol sank a week ago, relatives of the nearly 150 still missing pressed the government Wednesday to finish the grim task of recovery soon. But the work was reaching a new, more complicated phase, with an official saying divers must now rip through cabin walls to retrieve more victims.
The director of the "National Treasure" movies will helm a new feature adapted from one of the most famous rides at Disney's theme parks, "It's a Small World," Deadline.com reveals. The iconic ride, a slow cruise through scenes in which mechanical dolls represent the world's cultures, will come to the big screen in a new Disney feature. Jon Turteltaub, who is known for directing "National Treasure" and its sequel, as well as "Rasta Rocket" and "Last Vegas," will direct the new film based on a script by Jared Stern ("The Internship," "Wreck-It Ralph"). The "It's a Small World" ride, with its notoriously repetitive and catchy theme song, can be found at all of Disney's theme parks -- including Disneyworld, Disneyland and EuroDisney.
But for two special guests at Sukiyabashi Jiro on Wednesday evening, mouthfuls of melt-in-the-mouth tuna, squid, and octopus were the culinary backdrop to discussing urgent matters of regional security. Soon after Air Force One touched down here, Barack Obama found himself in Tokyo’s upmarket Ginza district, tucked behind the counter of arguably the world’s best sushi restaurant with his Japanese host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Sukiyabashi Jiro’s modest size – it has just 10 seats – is inversely proportionate to its reputation. The 19-piece special course, featuring a selection chosen by owner Jiro Ono, costs around $300, not including drinks.
It's been a big year for Lupita Nyong'o. After winning an Oscar and a lucrative advertising deal the actress was named on Wednesday as the world's most beautiful woman for 2014 by People magazine. Nyong'o, who took home this year's Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role as the slave Patsey in director Steve McQueen's acclaimed film "12 Years A Slave," said she "never dreamed" she would be praised for her looks and land on the cover of the weekly magazine. "It is exciting and just a major, major compliment," Nyong'o, 31, told People.
By Chris Michaud NEW YORK (Reuters) - Do not mess with Miss Meadows, the tap dancing elementary school teacher played by actress Katie Holmes in the new film of the same name that has premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She tends to punctuate meet-ups with a decidedly non-ironic "toodle-loo," and as described by one of the cops on her trail in "Miss Meadows" is a "pulp fiction Mary Poppins." But her mission to clear the streets of bad people is complicated when she falls for a local sheriff, played by James Badge Dale ("World War Z," and "Parkland.") "I'm a fan of strong women, and I like seeing them on screen," Holmes said of the vigilante heroine she portrays in the film. "She was delightful and believed in what she was doing and the integrity of her mind." The vigilante satire co-stars three-time Emmy-award winner Jean Smart ("Samantha Who?" and "Frasier") and Mary Kay Place, who also won an Emmy for comedy series "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Karen Leigh Hopkins, the long gestation of "Miss Meadows" began with the 1993 abduction and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, who was snatched from her bedroom in Petaluma, California, during a slumber party.