Obama mourns dead in Hiroshima, calls for world without nuclear arms

HIROSHIMA, Japan Barack Obama on Friday became the first incumbent U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, site of the world's first atomic bombing, in a gesture Tokyo and Washington hope will showcase their alliance and reinvigorate efforts to rid the world of nuclear arms.Even before it occurred, the visit stirred debate, with critics accusing both sides of having selective memories, and pointing to paradoxes in policies relying on nuclear deterrence while calling for an end to atomic weapons.The two governments hope Obama's visit to Hiroshima, where a U.S. atomic bomb killed thousands instantly on Aug. 6, 1945, and some 140,000 by the year's end, underscores a new level of reconciliation and tighter ties between the former enemies."We come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in the not so distant past," Obama said after laying a wreath at a Hiroshima peace memorial. "We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans and a dozen Americans held prisoner. Their souls speak to us."Before laying the wreath, Obama visited a museum where haunting displays include photographs of badly burned victims, the tattered and stained clothes they wore and statues depicting people with flesh melting from their limbs."We have known the agony of war," he wrote in the guest book. "Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons."After speaking, Obama shook hands and chatted briefly with two atomic bomb survivors. Obama and Sunao Tsuboi, 91, smiled as they exchanged words; Shigeaki Mori, 79, cried and was embraced by the president.The city of Nagasaki was hit by a second nuclear bomb on Aug. 9, 1945, and Japan surrendered six days later.A majority of Americans see the bombings as having been necessary to end the war and save lives, although some historians question that view. Most Japanese believe they were unjustified.The White House had debated whether the time was right for Obama to break a taboo on presidential visits to Hiroshima, especially in an election year. But Obama's aides defused most negative reaction from military veterans' groups by insisting he would not second-guess the decision to drop the bombs.Obama's main goal in Hiroshima was to showcase his nuclear disarmament agenda, for which he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize."Amongst those nations like my own that own nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them," he said.'SHARED RESPONSIBILITY'Obama avoided any direct expression of remorse or apology for the bombings, a decision that some critics had worried would allow Japan to stick to the narrative that paints it as a victim. "We remember all the innocent killed in the arc of that terrible war and wars that came before, and wars that would follow. We have a shared responsibility to look directly in the eye of history," he said.For atomic bomb survivor Eiji Hattori, Obama's remarks provided solace."I think it was an apology," said Hattori, 73, who was a toddler at the time of the bombing and now suffers from three types of cancer."I didn't think he'd go that far and say so much. I feel I've been saved somewhat ... For me, it was more than enough."Mori was also consoled by the president's embrace. "It made me so happy that I thought I was walking on air," he said. Survivors said earlier an apology from Obama would be welcome but for many, the priority was ridding the world of nuclear arms, a goal that seems as elusive as ever.Obama has invested heavily during his term in modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and Japan relies on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for extended deterrence."I'm afraid I did not hear anything concrete about how he plans to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons," said Miki Tsukishita, 75."A-bomb survivors including me are getting older. Just cheering his visit is not enough."Abe's government has affirmed past official apologies over the war but said future generations should not be burdened by the sins of their forebears.China and South Korea, which suffered from Japan's wartime aggression, often complain it has not atoned sufficiently."It is worth focusing on Hiroshima, but it’s even more important that we should not forget Nanjing," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters on Friday, according to the ministry's website. China says Japanese troops in 1937 killed 300,000 people in its then-capital of Nanjing. A postwar Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000, but some conservative Japanese politicians and scholars deny a massacre took place at all. "The victims deserve sympathy, but the perpetrators can never escape their responsibility," Wang said. (Additional reporting by Elaine Lies in Tokyo, Kiyoshi Takenaka in Ise-Shima, and Michael Martina in Beijing.; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel) Read more

Campbell net profit rises on settlement gain

May 20 Campbell Soup Co, the world's largest soup maker, reported a higher quarterly net profit on Friday after recording a gain from a legal settlement, which helped offset a 2 percent slide in sales.Campbell reported a net profit in its fiscal third quarter of $185 million, or 59 cents per share, up from $179 million, or 57 cents per share, a year earlier. Adjusting for a $25 million gain from a legal settlement and other items, Campbell's earnings fell to $203 million, or 65 cents per share, from $206 million, or 66 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Wall Street analysts had expected Campbell to earn 64 cents per share. The New Jersey-based company said sales in its third quarter ended May 1 fell by 2 percent to $1.87 billion from $1.9 billion a year earlier. (Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum) Read more

Exclusive: Chipotle hires former critic to help improve food safety

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG.N) has retained two leading food safety experts - including a critic of the burrito chain's early response to disease outbreaks last year - as it redoubles its efforts to guard against health scares.David Acheson, a former official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was brought on as an adviser, Chipotle told Reuters.The company also confirmed it is working with David Theno, a food safety consultant and former Jack in the Box executive who is credited with fixing food safety at the fast-food chain following a deadly E. coli outbreak in the 1990s.The two are respected among food safety experts, and their involvement may signal an expansion in Chipotle's reforms. But the scope is not yet clear.Spokesman Chris Arnold confirmed the consultants were retained last year but would not say when or detail their duties. As recently as early December, Acheson was sharply critical of the company's initial response to the outbreaks.In March, the company announced it had hired James Marsden, a former meat science professor at Kansas State University, as executive director of food safety. Arnold said Marsden would have "primary responsibility for our food safety programs."Expanding its complement of food safety experts is part of Chipotle's effort to rebound from a spate of disease outbreaks - including E. coli, salmonella and norovirus - last year that crushed sales, repulsed customers and slashed $6 billion off its market valuation.Chipotle's ability to win back diners is vital to reviving sales and is expected to be a key topic at the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday. "We have committed to establishing Chipotle as an industry leader in food safety, and we have assembled an extremely capable team to help us achieve that goal," Arnold told Reuters.Chipotle declined to make members of the team available for interviews."If I had to put together a dream team to fix something, you could do a lot worse,” said Don Schaffner, a food science professor at Rutgers University. But, he added: "I’ve begun to wonder a little bit about too many cooks. Each of those guys is going to have a perspective on what to do to fix the problem."Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, said he expected the group's focus "would likely be more on food safety preventive controls and less on food testing."Chipotle's initial response emphasized testing ingredients for pathogens with the goal of stopping any source of illness from getting into its restaurants. The company touted a testing regime set up by another consultant, Mansour Samadpour, chief executive of IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group. Acheson criticized the Chipotle for relying too heavily on that one approach. "I'm not a believer that you can test your way to safety,” he told Reuters in early December. At the time, he said the focus should be on improving food sourcing and handling practices, including how suppliers are approved, “how they are leveraged in terms of training, storing, handling, and preparing of food."Arnold said Chipotle continues to work with the IEH testing firm. Its more recent changes have focused on food preparation. For instance, Chipotle said on its latest earnings call that it had started blanching bell peppers in an effort to kill germs.The chain also has cut some small suppliers. Kenter Canyon Farms said it lost business providing oregano to Chipotle through a third-party distributor. “When that whole scandal happened with the E. coli, when they revamped their food safety. They cut ties with a lot of growers,” said Mark Lopez, sales director for the farm.Chipotle also began buying more red onions from Oregon-based River Point Farms, which said it is the country’s largest onion supplier, a source involved in the situation said. The goal was to make it easier for Chipotle to trace the origins of the products, according to the source, who did not want to be identified. River Point declined to comment.Chipotle's Arnold said the chain would continue to support smaller farms, and has committed to spending $10 million to help them meet its standards. But he said the company has noted that it may be difficult for "some of our smaller suppliers to meet our heightened food safety standards."Big chains - including Yum Brands Inc (YUM.N), the parent of Taco Bell and KFC, and McDonald's Corp - tend to work with a small number of large suppliers, which often have more resources and controls. (Reporting by Lisa Baertlein, Tom Polansek and Julie Steenhuysen; Editing By Peter Henderson and Lisa Girion) Read more

Brazil's Rousseff takes impeachment fight to Supreme Court as Senate poised to oust her

BRASILIA Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff took her battle to survive impeachment to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, in a last-ditch attempt to stay in office a day before the Senate is expected to vote to try her for breaking budget laws.Attorney General Eduardo Cardozo, the government's top lawyer, asked the Supreme Court to annul impeachment proceedings, his office said.Earlier in the day, the acting speaker of the lower house of Congress withdrew his controversial decision to annul last month's impeachment vote in the chamber. That meant Cardozo's appeal to the highest court may be the president's best hope of stopping the process from moving forward.Speaker Eduardo Maranhao withdrew his surprise decision on Tuesday, following complaints that it was illegal, clearing the way for a Senate vote on Wednesday to go ahead as planned.If a simple majority agrees to put her on trial, Rousseff will be suspended from office on Thursday, leaving Vice President Michel Temer in power for up to six months during her trial.If Rousseff were convicted and removed definitively, Temer would stay in the post until elections in 2018.With the prospect looming of an end to 13 years of rule by Rousseff's leftist Workers Party (PT), anti-impeachment protesters blocked roads with burning tires in demonstrations in Sao Paulo, the capital Brasilia and other cities, snarling morning traffic.The PT and labor unions have called for a national strike to resist what they call a "coup" against democracy."President Dilma is determined to defend the Constitution because she was elected by the people and she will appeal to the Senate, the Supreme Court and Brazilian society," Labor Minister Miguel Rossetto told reporters. The legality of Rousseff's imminent removal from office was questioned by the secretary general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, who said he would seek the legal opinion of the Inter-American Human Rights Court. Maranhao's surprise decision on Monday threw Brazilian markets into disarray and threatened to drag out a painful political crisis with a constitutional standoff that could have ended up at the Supreme Court.Brazil's currency, the real, strengthened 1 percent and the benchmark Bovespa stock index .BVSP rose 2 percent - reflecting investor hopes that a more market-friendly government will soon take over the recession-hit country under Temer, who is forming a cabinet with pro-business figures.In a statement to the Senate, Maranhao did not cite any reason for backtracking on his decision to annul due to "procedural flaws" the lower house's April 17 vote. The vote had overwhelmingly recommended that the Senate try Rousseff.Maranhao, a little known politician before taking over last week after the removal of Eduardo Cunha for obstruction of a corruption investigation, faces expulsion from his center-right Progressive Party, which supports Rousseff's impeachment. Senate President Renan Calheiros said Monday that Maranhao was "playing with democracy" and vowed the Senate would press ahead with Wednesday's vote. It is expected to take place at about 8 p.m. (2300 GMT) at the end of an all-day session of speeches.Rousseff's opponents have more than the 41 votes needed to launch her trial in the upper chamber, and they are confident they can muster two-thirds of the 81 senators, or 54, to unseat the unpopular president at the end of a trial that can last up to six months.TEMER MAY TAKE OVER ON THURSDAY If she loses Wednesday's vote, Rousseff will be served notice by the Senate on Thursday, at which point the suspended president must vacate the presidential palace. She can continue to live in the presidential residence during the trial.Temer would step in as interim president as soon as she is given notice.The impeachment process comes as Brazil is mired in its worst recession since the 1930s and shaken by the country's biggest ever corruption scandal - which have paralyzed Rousseff's second-term administration. Rousseff has steadfastly denied committing any impeachable crime and has vowed to fight impeachment by all means legally possible. She has dismissed calls for her resignation.The impeachment process is unfolding as investigators pursue a separate, long-running probe into a vast kickback scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA). "Operation Carwash" has ensnared dozens of top politicians and jailed chief executives from Brazil's biggest construction firms for paying billions in bribes to lock up bloated building contracts.The political crisis has hit at a time when Brazil would want to be shining on the world stage, as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August. (Additional reporting by Lisandra Paraguassú; Writing by Silvio Cascione and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Frances Kerry) Read more

One winning ticket sold in $429 million Powerball lottery

One winning ticket matched the numbers drawn on Saturday night for the multi-state Powerball jackpot for a payout estimated at $429.6 million, the ninth-highest U.S. lottery prize in history, officials said.The winning numbers selected just before 11 p.m. EDT were 25 66 44 5 26 with the Powerball 9. Lottery officials said one ticket, purchased in New Jersey, had the winning combination, according to media reports.The winner was not identified. Winners of huge lottery payouts sometimes do not come forward publicly for months.It was the largest jackpot for any U.S. lottery since January, when three Powerball tickets split a record $1.6 billion. The odds of winning at Powerball are one in 292 million. Statistics experts say that means an American is roughly 25 times more likely to become the next president of the United States than to win the game. Kelly Cripe, a Texas-based lottery spokeswoman, said Saturday's Powerball followed 17 consecutive draws without a winner.A spate of late ticket-buying on Saturday increased the jackpot by some $15 million, to an estimated $429.6 million. Powerball is played in 44 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Chris Michaud; Editing by Digby Lidstone, Eric Meijer and Paul Tait) Read more

Older Post