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In brief | Nation & World | 6-30-14


Obama selects former Proctor &Gamble executive Robert McDonald to head Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to nominate former Proctor &Gamble executive Robert McDonald as the next Veterans Affairs secretary, as the White House seeks to shore up an agency beset by treatment delays and struggling to deal with an influx of new veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An administration official said Obama would announce McDonald’s appointment Monday. If confirmed by the Senate, McDonald would succeed Eric Shinseki, the retired four-star general who resigned last month as the scope of the issues at veterans’ hospitals became apparent.

In tapping McDonald for the post, Obama is signaling his desire to install a VA chief with broad management experience. McDonald also has a military background, graduating near the top of his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and serving as a captain in the Army, primarily in the 82nd Airborne Division.

The administration official insisted on anonymity in order to confirm McDonald’s appointment before the president’s announcement.

5 detained in India after at least 26 die in building collapses; dozens trapped

NEW DELHI — Police in southern India detained five construction company officials Sunday as rescuers using gas cutters and shovels searched for dozens of workers believed buried in the rubble of a building that collapsed during monsoon rains. It was one of two weekend building collapses that killed at least 26 people.

Nearly 90 contract workers were believed to have been in the basement of the 11-story structure to collect their wages when it collapsed Saturday on the outskirts of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.

Police said eight died on the spot and another seven succumbed to injuries in a hospital. Another 20 people have been pulled out alive.

J. Jayalalitha, the state’s top elected official, visited the site on Sunday and said another 40 people may still be trapped under the debris, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Rescuers could hear feeble voices in the debris, said T.S. Sridhar, the disaster management agency commissioner. Officials used gas cutters, iron rods and shovels after cranes lifted concrete blocks to get to the survivors.

Taylor, who starred in sitcoms ‘Designing Women,’ ‘Dave’s World,’ dies at 67

Meshach Taylor, who played a lovable ex-convict surrounded by boisterous Southern belles on the sitcom “Designing Women” and appeared in numerous other TV and film roles, died of cancer at age 67, his agent said Sunday.

Taylor died Saturday at his home near Los Angeles, according to agent Dede Binder.

Taylor got an Emmy nod for his portrayal of Anthony Bouvier on “Designing Women” from 1986 to 1993. Then he costarred for four seasons on another successful comedy, “Dave’s World,” as the best friend of a newspaper humor columnist played by the series’ star, Harry Anderson.

Ukraine’s president talks with Putin, Merkel, Hollande ahead of peace plan deadline

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tried to keep his peace plan to settle the conflict with pro-Russian separatists on track in a four-way phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany.

The two-hour conversation came ahead of a Monday deadline that European Union leaders set for Russia and the separatists to take steps to ease the violence, warning that otherwise they were ready “at any time” to impose further punitive measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande encouraged the Ukrainian and Russian presidents to work on meeting the EU conditions, Hollande’s office said in a statement. The EU’s demands included the return of three border checkpoints to Ukrainian control, verification of the cease-fire by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and talks to put Poroshenko’s peace plan in place.

By wire sources