Around the World: April 6, 2015

Here's what's happening across the United States and around the world today.

Columbia report cites across-the-board editorial shortcomings in Rolling Stone rape article

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Rolling Stone is pledging to review its editorial practices but won't fire anyone after a leading journalism school issued a blistering critique of how it reported and edited a discredited article about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.

The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism said in the Sunday report that the magazine's shortcomings "encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking."

Two of the report's authors, dean Steve Coll and academic dean Sheila Coronel, were scheduled to discuss their investigation at a news conference Monday in New York.

The analysis was accompanied by a statement from Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana apologizing for the failures and retracting the November 2014 story. Some University of Virginia students said none of that will erase the article's repercussions.

"I think the real casualty of the report is the University of Virginia's trust in journalism," said Abraham Axler of New York City, president of the university's Student Council. "I don't think any University of Virginia student going through this will ever read an article the same way."

Pakistan's defense minister says Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen wants ground troops

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Saudi-led coalition targeting Shiite rebels in Yemen has asked Pakistan to contribute soldiers, Pakistan's defense minister said Monday, raising the possibility of a ground offensive in the country.

Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif made the comments as Pakistan's parliament debates whether to contribute militarily to the campaign against the rebels, known as Houthis. Pakistan previously offered its verbal support for the mission, but hasn't offered any military support.

Days of Saudi-led airstrikes have yet to halt the Houthi advance across Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, fuelling speculation that there could be a ground operation launched in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and other coalition members have not ruled it out.

Saudi Arabia also asked for aircraft and naval ships to aid in the campaign, Asif said. He said Saudi officials made the request during his visit to Jeddah last week.

"I want to reiterate that this is Pakistan's pledge to protect Saudi Arabia's territorial integrity," Asif said. "If there's a need be, God willing, Pakistan will honor its commitment."

Strikes proliferate as China's working class awakens, posing challenge to authorities

NANLANG TOWNSHIP, China (AP) — Timid by nature, Shi Jieying took a risk last month and joined fellow workers in a strike at her handbag factory, one of a surging number of such labor protests across China.

Riot police flooded into the factory compound, broke up the strike and hauled away dozens of workers. Terrified by the violence, Shi was hospitalized with heart trouble, but with a feeble voice from her sickbed expressed a newfound boldness.

"We deserve fair compensation," said Shi, 41, who makes $4,700 a year at Cuiheng Handbag Factory in Nanlang, in southern China. Only recently, she had learned she had the right to social security funding and a housing allowance — two of the issues at stake in the strike.

"I didn't think of it as protesting, just defending our rights," she said.

More than three decades after Beijing began allowing market reforms, China's 168 million migrant workers are discovering their labor rights through the spread of social media. They are on the forefront of a labor protest movement that is posing a growing and awkward problem for the ruling Communist Party, wary of any grassroots activism that can threaten its grip on power.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, on inaugural trip to Asia, focuses on America's future in region

WASHINGTON (AP) — Islamic extremists grab parts of Iraq and Syria. Yemen slides into civil war. Iran's nuclear program strains U.S. relations with Israel. Ukraine fights Russian-backed separatists.

At a time of crisis across the Middle East and beyond, the Obama administration is trying to keep its focus on a widely advertised shift to Asia.

The administration has pursued the strategy since 2011, arguing that no region is more important to the United States' long-term interests than Asia, particularly as the rise of China jangles nerves in other Asian capitals.

Yet the volatile Middle East keeps drawing back the attention of U.S. policymakers, and the U.S. military.

A year ago, it seemed unlikely the U.S. would have troops back in Iraq after completing its withdrawal in 2011. The rise of the Islamic State group has put fractious Iraq back on the U.S. front burner. Meanwhile, the White House is pumping the brakes on planned U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan this year.

With message of change, delivered deadpan, Sen. Rand Paul prepares to enter White House race

WASHINGTON (AP) — Change? For sure. Hope? Maybe not so much.

That's Rand Paul's approach to winning the White House when the original hope-and-change candidate, Barack Obama, vacates it in early 2017.

Ready to enter the chase for the Republican presidential nomination this week, the first-term Kentucky senator has designs on changing how members of his party go about getting elected to the White House and how they govern once they get there.

He will do so with an approach to politics that is often downbeat and usually dour, which just might work in a nation deeply frustrated with Washington.

Since his election to Congress, and in the lead-up to his entry into the presidential race, Paul has favored blunt takes on America's woes instead of the sunny earnestness that helped fuel Obama's rise to popularity in 2007 and 2008.

Obama casts Iran talks as part of broader foreign policy, with American power as safeguard

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is casting the Iran talks as part of a broader foreign policy doctrine that sees American power as a safeguard that gives him the ability to take calculated risks.

Obama staunchly defended a framework nuclear agreement with Iran as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to prevent a bomb and bring longer-term stability to the Middle East. He insisted the U.S. would stand by Israel if it were to come under attack, but acknowledged that his pursuit of diplomacy with Tehran has caused strain with the close ally.

"It's been a hard period," Obama said in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. He added that it is "personally difficult" for him to hear his administration accused of not looking out for Israel's interests.

"We are powerful enough to be able to test these propositions without putting ourselves at risk," he said, citing his overtures to Cuba and Myanmar as other examples of his approach.

The president's comments come in his seventh year in office and days after the U.S. and other world powers reached a tentative agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. The framework cleared the way for negotiators to hammer out technical details ahead of a June 30 deadline for a final deal.

Bipartisan Medicare bill helps doctors and kids, but many deficit hawks unimpressed by savings

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans say bipartisan legislation that reworks how Medicare pays doctors is a milestone toward curbing a huge, growing benefit program.

It's "the first real entitlement reform in decades," says House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, using Washington jargon for programs that automatically pay people who qualify.

Many deficit hawks are less impressed with the bipartisan measure that Congress is expected to complete soon.

A look at the debate over how significantly the legislation would bolster Medicare's finances:

AP PHOTOS: In Egypt's limestone quarries, powder-covered workers toil in harsh conditions

MINYA, Egypt (AP) — In the desert of southern Egypt, workers in limestone pits look as though they stepped out of a blizzard, covered in the white powder of the stones that are the economic lifeblood of this region.

The quarries are the main employers in Minya province, some 300 kilometers (180 miles) south of Cairo. Around 45,000 people, including children, work in an estimated 1,500 quarries, digging out stones that later will be used in construction or powdered to be used by pharmaceutical and ceramic companies.

But the work, paying $7 to $13 a day, is backbreaking — and dangerous. Workers have suffered amputations and electrocutions, sometimes dying.

One laborer, 15-year-old Baskharoon Mounir, lost his left arm to a cutting machine in 2013 after working for only a month without safety equipment or training.

"I wish I could go back, even with one arm." Baskharoon says. "It would be better than staying at home, but when they see me, they do not allow me to work."

Actor Tom Cruise takes in women's Final Four game, watches matchup between UConn and Maryland

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Cruise took in a women's Final Four game on Sunday night, watching UConn beat Maryland 81-58.

The three-time Academy Award nominee sat in a suite above the Terrapins bench and received a loud ovation from the crowd when the cameras showed him on the video board.

It wasn't clear who he was rooting for. Not that it mattered to UConn star Breanna Stewart, who scored 25 points to lead the Huskies to the victory.

"No. Where was he? Oh, my gosh," she gushed after the game. "I didn't even get to meet him."

The 52-year-old Cruise has starred in several sports movies. He's played a variety of sports roles, including a football player and an agent — but not a basketball player or hoop coach. At least not recently.

Season of the near miss: 2014-15 serves up plenty to celebrate, and fix, in college basketball

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Maybe it was fitting that nobody — not even Kentucky — escaped this year unscathed.

Monday night marks the final chapter of a very imperfect season for college basketball. It was filled with the usual thrills of March and April but just as many rough patches in the months before.

A season closing with Duke playing Wisconsin for a title the smart money said would land in the Bluegrass State included a steady parade of complaints and concerns, both about the quality of the product on the court and the viability of the game off it.

This was also the season basketball lost two of its greats within the span of a week — coaches Jerry Tarkanian and Dean Smith. When they got into the profession, would either have envisioned the 2015 version of the beautiful-yet-troubled mega-business they helped create?

"It's a whole new world," said Steve Fisher, the 70-year-old San Diego State coach who made his name leading Michigan's Fab Five to the Final Four in the '90s. "With Dean and Tark, and I'll throw my group in there, no one ever got into it thinking, 'I'm going to get rich being in this profession.' Today, a lot of people get rich as a result of being in this profession. Everything about that isn't totally healthy."

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