Boko Haram Attacks Again, Killing About 300

ABUJA, Nigeria (UPI) — Boko Haram, a radical Islamist militant group, launched a 12-hour attack on the Nigerian village of Gamboru Ngala Monday afternoon, killing about 300 people.

The militants fired rocket-propelled grenades and improvised bombs into a crowded outdoor marketplace while shouting “God is great” from their armored vehicles.

Sources told CNN that the fighters set fire to the buildings where people had fled to escape the attack. According to the regional leader of the village, anyone who tried to run out of the burning buildings was shot.

The militants were met with resistance while attacking the local police station until they used explosives to blow off the roof of the building. Fourteen police officers were found dead inside.

“While calling on the general public to be part of the solution to the present security challenge, the Police High Command also reassures all citizens that any information given would be treated anonymously and with utmost confidentiality,” said the Nigerian police in a statement.

The details of the attack emerged one day after the U.S. announced that they will be sending assistance to help authorities search for the 276 girls abducted by the group last month. The police have offered a $310,000 reward for information leading to the missing girls, as frustration continues to grow internationally at the lack of progress in the search.

Vietnamese, Chinese Ships Collide In South China Sea

HANOI , Vietnam (UPI) — Vietnamese Navy and Chinese vessels collided in the South China Sea as Vietnam attempted to prevent the Chinese from installing an oil rig in contested waters.

Vietnamese officials claim the Chinese ships intentionally tried to ram their vessels. The incident is the most serious between the two countries at sea, and dozens of boats are presently in the area.

It is the third time in the past several days Chinese ships have collided with Vietnamese ships, maritime police official Ngo Ngoc Thu said in Hanoi Wednesday. Chinese officials said Wednesday the oil rig was within Chinese territorial waters.

“The disruptive activities by the Vietnamese side are in violation of China’s sovereign rights,” Hua Chunying said.

Several Vietnamese sailors were injured in the collision, an official said, and although no shots were fired, water cannons were used by the Vietnamese Navy.

China has claimed ownership of significant parts of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have competing claims.

Ukrainian Intel Agency Claims Russia Meddling In Southeastern Ukraine Referendum

KIEV, Ukraine (UPI) — The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) — Ukraine’s intelligence agency — reported Wednesday that it has evidence of Russian interference in a controversial referendum planned for May 11 to determine whether Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region remains a part of Ukraine or establishes itself as the “Donetsk People’s Republic.”

The SBU released an audio recording on Wednesday of a taped conversation between Russian Unity movement leader Alexander Barkashov in Moscow and Dmytro Boitsov, the “unregistered” Orthodox Donbass organizaton leader in Donetsk. Boitsov is heard requesting Russian military support for the referendum and, in response, Barkashov suggests falsifying the referendum’s results.

Amid the allegations of Russian interference, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday, “We are asking representatives of the southeastern regions of Ukraine and federalization supporters to reschedule the referendum scheduled for May 11.”

Putin claimed that by postponing, southeastern Ukraine’s regional representatives can “create necessary conditions for dialogue” with the central government in Kiev.

U.S. High School Seniors Make Disappointing Showing In ‘Nation’s Report Card’

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. 12th-grade scores on the National Association of Educational Progress, released Wednesday, show a continuing gap between white and minority students.

Average scores for high school seniors have also remained flat since the last time the test, known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” was administered in 2009. The test, taken every four years by a sample of high school seniors and every two years by students in the fourth and eighth grades, aims to provide a snapshot of U.S. achievement.

The test was taken between January and March in 2013 by 92,000 high school seniors. Elementary and middle-school scores, released in November, showed some gains.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan reported recently that the average graduation rate for U.S. high schools had hit 80 percent, an all-time high. He said he was troubled by the flat high school scores on the NAEP and by the failure to close the gap between white and minority students.

Black students have fallen even further behind in the 15 years the test has been administered, while the gap between whites and Hispanics has not closed.

“We project that our nation’s public schools will become majority-minority this fall — making it even more urgent to put renewed attention into the academic rigor and equity of course offerings and into efforts to redesign high schools,” Duncan said. “We must reject educational stagnation in our high schools, and as a nation, we must do better for all students, especially for African-American and Latino students.”

Frederick Hess, an education analyst with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, suggested high school seniors may not be motivated to do well in a test that will not affect their futures. Hess told The Washington Post that U.S. officials tend to be “manic depressive” about test scores, hailing educational progress when they inch up and then throwing up their hands when they do the reverse.

“We all remember exactly how engaged your 17-year-old high school senior is,” Hess said.

Female Senators Call For Stronger Nigeria Response

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The women of the Senate banded together Tuesday to call on President Barack Obama to take a stronger stance against the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian girls last month.

Obama said Tuesday he had ordered a team of military, law enforcement and hostage negotiators to Nigeria to assist in the rescue effort of the girls who were kidnapped on April 14 by members of the Islamist group Boko Haram to be sold into sexual slavery.

The President called the kidnapping “heartbreaking” and “outrageous,” but the 20 female Senators said the U.S. needed to go further to condemn the terrorist group, whose name is usually translated as “Western education is forbidden” and whose attacks on schools and military installations in north-east Nigeria have left as many as 1,500 people dead this year alone, according to Amnesty International.

“We are outraged and horrified that these young women have been kidnapped, sold into slavery, had their education curtailed, and may even have been forced into marriages,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who circulated a letter among their female colleagues.

“Education is a basic right for boys and girls who deserve an equal opportunity to pursue their education without fear of violence or retribution-no matter where they live,” the letter said. “The Senate women stand united in condemning this reprehensible crime and are firm in our resolve that it will not be tolerated. We will not stand by and allow the Nigerian people to continue to be terrorized by Boko Haram and will continue to lead the effort to impose tough economic sanctions against this group.”

The letter called on Obama to press for increased international sanctions against Boko Haram. And while the U.S. already classifies the group as a terrorist organization, the letter asked Obama to get it added to the United Nations Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions List for groups linked to al-Qaida.

Amendments Threaten To Scuttle Senate Keystone Deal

WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) — A standoff between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, over amendments to an energy efficiency bill, may sink a deal for a vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Reid said he would hold the line on refusing to allow five GOP-sponsored amendments to an energy bill, sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), on which Republicans joined with Democrats, 79-20, to begin debate Tuesday.

But it was not clear if those Republicans would agree to vote to end debate on the bill and allow a vote for final passage without the amendments. And without an up-or-down vote on Shaheen-Portman, Reid won’t bring a vote on the Keystone bill to the floor.

“If they want to vote on Keystone, they can have a vote on Keystone, but enough is enough,” Reid said. If the Shaheen-Portman measure is passed, Reid said, he would allow a vote on Keystone “a day or two” later.

At a press conference on Tuesday, McConnell reiterated his complaint that Reid has only allowed votes on a few GOP amendments since July. He said he wants to attach amendments to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency clean air regulations and approval of liquified natural gas exports to World Trade Organization Member countries, including Ukraine.
Gabrielle Levy

Massachusetts Police Classify Hot Pizza As A ‘Dangerous Weapon’ During Arrest

CHICOPEE, Mass. (UPI) — During the arrest of a Massachusetts man, a police officer classified a piece of hot pizza as a “dangerous weapon” after it caused first- and second-degree burns.

James Vincent Grass allegedly shoved a piece of freshly-microwaved pizza into a 6-year-old girl’s face and was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and reckless endangerment of a child.

The 21-year-old denied the charges against him during his arraignment.

In his incident report, Officer Terry Dec wrote the girl said Grass “threw a piece of pizza in her face” when she stopped the microwave because it was steaming.

When she tried to explain, Grass grabbed the pizza and asked “Do you think this is done?” before allegedly shoving the slice in her face and saying “Is that hot enough?”

According to Grass the girl asked to smell the pizza and he then “pushed her face into it.”

When her mother picked her up, the girl had already popped a blister on her chin and was holding a wet towel to her face.

Kool-Aid Tosser Arrested In Florida And Brought To Jail On A Battery Charge

FORT PIERCE , Fla. (UPI) — A Florida woman who was arrested and charged with throwing Kool-Aid at her son during an argument is likely not saying “Oh yeah.”

Fort Pierce police arrested Yeteva Mccollum after she told them she tossed a full glass of Kool-Aid at her son when he called her a bad name.

The glass hit the 33-year-old man “on his head and body,” TC Palm reported.

The 60-year-old told police that something hit her in the lip after she threw the beverage. “She stated that she has glaucoma and could not see what the object was but was certain it was not a fist or open hand,” the police report states. “She stated it had a metallic sound.”

The son said that his mother ran into a bedroom after chucking the Kool-Aid and that he believed she hit her lip on bunk beds.

Mccollum was charged with battery and taken to the St. Lucie County Jail.

Oregon Governor Saves Woman By Performing CPR

PORTLAND, Ore. (UPI) — The Governor of Oregon was able to save one of his State’s residents on Monday by performing CPR until paramedics were able to arrive.

Governor John Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, saw the woman lying unconscious on a downtown Portland sidewalk and had his driver pull over so he could administer aid.

The woman “had possibly overdosed” when the Governor found her, and a defibrillator was used to restart her heartbeat.

“It was pretty neat to see the governor back on and going back to work,” paramedic Alan Ferschweiler told The Oregonian. “He was surprisingly calm, and you could see he went right back to the days where he was an emergency room doctor. To go and assist the governor and take over this patient from him is pretty surprising. It definitely took us off guard.”

After she was treated, the unidentified woman was brought to OHSU Hospital.

“The governor wishes her well and hopes that she seeks treatment in order to avoid the bad situation she was faced with today,” Kitzhaber’s communications director told KGW on Monday night.

Chinese Teenagers Befriend Cabbages To Conquer Depression And Loneliness?

BEIJING (UPI) — According to some reports, Chinese teenagers have taken to walking heads of cabbage on leashes as if they were dogs in order to battle depression and loneliness.

The vegetable walkers were spotted at the Midi Music Festival in Beijing. Apparently walking a cabbage is a good way to strike up a conversation with another person who has decided to make a vegetable their pet.

“It’s not about finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, just about having someone to talk to and share things with, a statement of youth isolated in the big cities,” said Beijing University psychiatrist Wen Chao, the Austrian Times reported.

“The idea is simple — you feel as lonely and as simple as a cabbage, so you begin to act like one and befriend one. And in that acceptance comes change.”

It could be said the teens are stopping themselves from feeling blue by going green.

“I feel I can transfer my negative thoughts about myself to the cabbage, go for a walk with it and come home feeling better about myself,” said cabbage-walker Lui Ja Chen. “In fact afterwards, I can throw the cabbage away and feel that I have tossed my feelings out with it.”

Other media outlets say they cabbage walkers were just engaging in performance art.

The Culture Trip reports that the cabbage walk was simply an art project by Chinese artist Han Bing. Han’s website reports the Chinese cabbage is “a quintessentially Chinese symbol of sustenance and comfort for poor Chinese turned upside down.”