In brief | Nation & world | 3-27-14


Analysis: Putin’s ties to Obama’s priorities complicate relationship

BRUSSELS — Even as he criticizes Vladimir Putin and imposes sanctions on Russia, President Barack Obama is struggling with the consequences of his own earlier quest for a fresh start between Washington and Moscow.

From early in his presidency, Obama has engaged Russia to help achieve some of his key goals, including preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power and, more recently, solving the war in Syria before it spreads further in the Middle East. Now, he finds that the engagement is limiting how hard he can hit back at Russia without toppling everything else.

White House officials insist that the U.S. can’t go back to a business-as-usual relationship with Russia as long as Putin still has control of Crimea, the strategically important peninsula he annexed from Ukraine.

Exactly what might be changed is still being debated inside the West Wing. Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, said Russia’s incursion in Crimea “is causing the countries and people of Europe and the international community and, of course, the United States to reassess what does this mean and what are the implications.”

Sober smartphone app helps recovering alcoholics stay sober

CHICAGO — A smartphone app for recovering alcoholics that includes a panic button and sounds an alert when they get too close to taverns helped keep some on the wagon, researchers who developed the tool found.

The sober app studied joins a host of others that serve as electronic shoulder angels, featuring a variety of options for trying to prevent alcoholics and drug addicts from relapsing.

Adults released from in-patient alcoholism treatment centers who got free sober smartphones reported fewer drinking days and more overall abstinence than those who got the usual follow-up support.

The results were based on patients’ self-reporting on whether they resumed drinking, a potential limitation. Still, addiction experts say the immediacy of smartphone-based help could make them a useful tool in fighting relapse.

TSA recommends armed law enforcement at security checkpoints during peak hours

LOS ANGELES — The Transportation Security Admin-istration recommended Wednesday that armed law enforcement officers be posted at security checkpoints and ticket counters during peak hours in the aftermath of last year’s fatal shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

The 25-page report to Congress obtained by The Associated Press makes 14 recommendations that do not carry a price tag and are somewhat dependent on local authorities who provide airport security.

While airport security has been beefed up since 9/11, the LA shooting exposed communication problems and gaps in police patrols that left the terminal without an armed officer for nearly 3 1/2 minutes as a gunman targeted TSA officers with a rifle Nov. 1.

Astronomers find pink new world nicknamed ‘Biden’ at edge of solar system

LOS ANGELES — Peering into the far reaches of the solar system, astronomers have spied a pink frozen world 7½ billion miles from the sun.

It’s the second such object to be discovered in a region of space beyond Pluto long considered a celestial wasteland. Until now, the lone known resident in this part of the solar system was an oddball dwarf planet spotted in 2003 named Sedna after the mythological Inuit goddess who created the sea creatures of the Arctic.

The latest discovery shows “Sedna is not a freak. We can have confidence that there is a new population to explore,” Yale University senior research scientist David Rabinowitz said in an email. He was one of Sedna’s discoverers, but had no role in the new find detailed in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature.

For years, astronomers hunted in vain for other Sednas in the little-studied fringes of the solar system.

The new object, 2012 VP113, was tracked using a new camera on a ground telescope in Chile by Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., and Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii. Trujillo was part of the team that found Sedna.

By wire sources