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AFP: US Navy names warship after wounded lawmaker

The US Navy named a new warship after Gabrielle Giffords on Friday, honouring the former Arizona lawmaker who survived a gunman’s bullet to the head a year ago.

The USS Gabrielle Giffords represented a fitting tribute to a congresswoman who embodies the navy’s “unwavering courage,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said at a ceremony at the Pentagon.

“So it’s very appropriate that LCS 10 be named for someone who has become synonymous with courage, who has inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency and showed the possibilities of the human spirit,” said Mabus, as Giffords and her husband looked on. Mabus also said the ship’s sponsor would be Roxanna Green, the mother of a nine-year-old girl -- Christina Taylor-Green -- who was killed in the same shooting spree that left Giffords wounded.

Under naval tradition, a sponsor’s “spirit and presence guide the ship throughout its service life,” the Pentagon said in a statement. Giffords was shot in the head a year ago while she met with constituents outside a grocery store in Tuscon.

AP: US home-buying season finally signaling a recovery

Five years after the U.S. housing bust sent sales and prices plunging, the spring home-buying season is pointing to a long-awaited recovery.

Reduced prices, record-low mortgage rates, higher rents and an improving job market appear to be emboldening many would-be buyers. Open houses are drawing crowds. A wave of foreclosures is leading investors to grab bargain-priced homes.

And many people seem to have concluded that prices won't drop much further. In some areas, prices have begun to tick up.

Interviews with more than two dozen potential buyers, sellers, brokers, Realtors and economists suggest that confidence is up and that sales will move slowly but steadily higher.

New York Times: Warnings Cited in Curbing Toll From Series of Tornadoes
A series of powerful thunderstorms spawned at least 122 reported tornadoes overnight Saturday across Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, causing a lot of damage across the region and killing five people in Oklahoma.

Still, the death toll was relatively light, given the number of tornado sightings, and officials credited an early warning system — which used terms like “extremely dangerous,” “mass devastation” and “catastrophic” — for making residents more aware of the potential danger.

More storms were possible on Sunday. A severe weather outlook continued for a large swath of the middle of the country as the system moved east, with a strong chance for more tornadoes in southeastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and western Wisconsin.

Many of the reported tornadoes — 99 in total — were in Kansas, according to the National Weather Service, but by Sunday afternoon, no deaths had been confirmed in the state. Officials said the final count of tornadoes may change, because the same tornado could be reported more than once.

Washington Post: Geithner: Romney claims on women and job losses ‘ridiculous and very misleading’
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner on Sunday pushed back against the argument made by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and allies that women were the biggest losers of jobs during the Obama administration.

In a series of Sunday TV show appearances, Geithner repeatedly called the GOP claim “ridiculous and very misleading,” and argued that Republicans were selectively reporting job losses for part of the recession to attack the president.

Geithner’s public remarks came amid a heated campaign battle between the camps of President Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee to win over female voters. Geithner, in three appearances Sunday, came out swinging against Romney’s recent claims that the Obama administration had waged an economic “war” against women.

CNN: Cosby says guns, not race, the key issue in Trayvon Martin case
The race of Florida teen Trayvon Martin had less to do with his death than the fact that the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed him was carrying a gun, comedian Bill Cosby told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday.

Martin, 17, was shot dead in February while walking back from a convenience store to his father's Sanford home. The man who admitted shooting him, George Zimmerman, told authorities that he did so in self-defense. Martin's family contends Zimmerman racially profiled the teen. Zimmerman was detained last week and charged with second-degree murder.

Known for his stand-up routines, movies and as the man behind the breakthrough 1980s sit-com "The Cosby Show," Cosby regularly weighs in on social and racial issues.

"It doesn't make any difference if he's racist or not racist," Cosby said on "State of the Union." "If he's scared to death and not a racist, it's still a confrontational provoking of something" when a person has a gun on them.

Guardian: Juba accuses Khartoum of bomb attack
South Sudan has accused Sudan of bombing a disputed oilfield "to rubble" on Sunday , a claim that Khartoum denied as it said it would not negotiate until the south withdrew all its troops from the area.

South Sudan's information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, told reporters in Juba that the aerial bombardment of the facility – in the Heglig region – had caused serious damage.

"They are bombing the central processing facility and the tanks to rubble as we speak," he said.

Sudan's state minister for information denied the charge, however, telling al-Jazeera television that Sudan "did not and will not" destroy the oil facilities.

Seattle Times: Study challenges anti-gay perception about Latinos
A new national study challenges the widely held perception Latinos are persistently anti-gay.

Released Thursday by the research group Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) and the Hispanic advocacy organization National Council of La Raza, it found Latino support for many pro-gay policies at least on par with that of the population as a whole.

Latinos in the SSRS study, for example, support same-sex marriage at a rate of 54 percent, compared with 53 percent of those in the general population who indicated such support in a Gallup poll last year.

And by even wider margins, respondents in the SSRS study favor policies aimed at protecting gays against hate crimes and discrimination related to jobs, housing and military service.

BBC: US to make profit from bailouts, Treasury says
The US will make a profit from bailing out the nation's banks and carmakers at the height of the financial crisis, the Treasury Department has said.

The bank bailouts may result in a return of $2bn (£1.3bn), the Treasury said in its latest projections for the government's response to the crisis.

And the recovering auto industry has added 230,000 jobs as a result.

The recession was the worst since the Great Depression and $19.2tn of wealth was wiped out, it said.

Guardian: Sarkozy 'embarrassed France' with Obama video conference TV stunt
Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of using a video conference with Barack Obama to boost his election campaign.

In an unprecedented move in French diplomacy, newscasts on several TV channels showed the first few minutes of a video link-up between the French president and his US counterpart.

Days before the first-round vote in the French presidential election, on 22 April, the rare glimpse of banter between world leaders shows Obama saying of the campaign: "It must be a busy time." He adds: "I admire the tough battle you are waging." Sarkozy replies, grinning, with arms folded: "We will win, Mr Obama. You and me, together." The cameras leave before the pair talk about Syria, Iran and oil.

The Socialist party accused Sarkozy of breaking diplomatic protocol and embarrassing France on the world scene to boost his struggling campaign for re-election, saying the images "weakened France's credibility in Washington and across the world".

CNN: Brazilian police arrest 3 on suspicion of murder, cannibalism
Brazilian police have arrested three people suspected of killing at least two women, eating parts of their bodies and using their remains to make stuffed meat pies sold in the northeastern town of Garanhuns.

The three suspects, 51-year-old Jorge Beltrao Negroponte, his wife and his mistress were arrested Wednesday and have confessed to the crimes, police told national television. The female suspects were not identified.

Interviewed behind bars, Negroponte told SBT Television that he followed the instructions of voices in his head.

Guardian: Web freedom faces greatest threat ever, warns Google's Sergey Brin
The principles of openness and universal access that underpinned the creation of the internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

In an interview with the Guardian, Brin warned there were "very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world". "I am more worried than I have been in the past," he said. "It's scary."

The threat to the freedom of the internet comes, he claims, from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access and communication by their citizens, the entertainment industry's attempts to crack down on piracy, and the rise of "restrictive" walled gardens such as Facebook and Apple, which tightly control what software can be released on their platforms.

The 38-year-old billionaire, whose family fled antisemitism in the Soviet Union, was widely regarded as having been the driving force behind Google's partial pullout from China in 2010 over concerns about censorship and cyber-attacks. He said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the internet for long, but now says he has been proven wrong. "I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle," he said.

BBC: Swiss woman abducted by gunmen in northern Mali
A Swiss woman has been abducted in the rebel-held northern Malian city of Timbuktu, officials and residents said.

The woman, a Christian in her 40s called Beatrice, was kidnapped from her house by armed men, residents said.

Most foreigners fled Timbuktu after Tuareg and Islamist rebels seized the town early this month in the aftermath of a military coup.

The kidnap comes amid concern the area could offer a safe haven to an al-Qaeda branch which operates in the country.

BBC:Taliban strike across Afghanistan in 'spring offensive'
Fighting is continuing in Kabul where militants have staged a wave of co-ordinated gun and rocket attacks.

Foreign embassies, Nato's HQ and the parliament were hit in the first major attack on Afghan capital in more than six months.

The attackers also struck in the provinces of Logar, Paktia and Nangarhar. The Taliban said it was the start of a "spring offensive" .

Two Afghan security force members and 17 militants were reportedly killed.

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