Obama Puts His Brand On Foreign Policy; More Questions About W. Va. Mine Owner

The news came in overnight about a series of strong earthquakes in western China that have killed hundreds of people and left many more missing. As we reported earlier, the stricken area is in a remote part of Qinghai province where many of the residents are Tibetans.

Other stories making headlines this morning include:

The New York Times — "Obama Puts His Own Mark On Foreign Policy Issues": "When he took office last year, President Obama told his foreign policy advisers that he had two baskets of issues to deal with. The first would be the legacy issues left from his predecessor, like Iraq, Afghanistan and America's image in the world. The second would be his own agenda for the future. After 15 months addressing the vexing matters he inherited, Mr. Obama is now aggressively advancing his own vision of foreign policy and defining himself more clearly on the world stage. The 47-nation conference on nuclear security he wrapped up on Tuesday represented a chance to assert proactive leadership rather than simply showing that he is not George W. Bush."

Related story on Morning Edition — Obama Also Used Summit To Pursue Other Goals, Including Sanctions Against Iran": "President Obama addressed the heads of state from 47 nations, and won promises of cooperation in denying terrorists access to nuclear materials Tuesday. The president also used the two-day nuclear security summit to pursue an array of other foreign policy goals, including sanctions against Iran and a floating valuation for the Chinese currency." NPR's Scott Horsley reports:



— USA TODAY — "Documents Show Continual Dangers In West Virginia Mine": "The operator of the West Virginia coal mine where 29 miners were killed last week exposed workers to potentially fatal or disabling conditions nearly 300 times since late 2008, records show. More than 1,100 pages covering more than 700 citations released by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) give the most comprehensive picture yet of the Upper Big Branch Mine, where an April 5 explosion caused the worst U.S. mining disaster since 1970."

Related story by The Charleston Gazette — "Mine Downplayed Airflow Problem, Inspector Says": "Three months before last week's deadly explosion, Massey Energy managers at the Upper Big Branch Mine told workers 'not to worry' that the flow of air in the mine — meant to control deadly gases and coal dust — was headed in the wrong direction, a federal government inspector said in newly released U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration records."

Related story on Morning Edition — "Despite Disaster, Mine Owner Gets Mixed Reviews". "The coal mine disaster in West Virginia last week thrust the mine's owner, Massey Energy, into the national spotlight. But people in the area have known Massey for years as a powerful — and divisive — force in the state's Coal River Valley." NPR's Frank Langfitt reports:



Reminder: Yesterday, an NPR investigation revealed that Massey-operated mines in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky have been cited for "a litany of safety violations, citations and fines."

— The Associated Press — "Senate Dems Say Jobless Benefits Bill On Track": "A measure to restore eligibility for the jobless to receive up to 99 weeks of unemployment checks appears on track despite objections from Republicans concerned about its $18 billion cost. Democrats are also seeking to extend those benefits through Memorial Day instead of risking another cutoff in just three weeks."

Morning Edition — Obama Faces "Storm Of Criticism" On Space Policy: Tomorrow in Florida, President Barack Obama is due to unveil some changes to his administration's controversial policy on space exploration. While plans for sending men back to the moon will remain on hold, he is going to announce that a "scaled-down version" of the U.S.-built Orion capsule will be built to serve as a "lifeboat" at the International Space Station. And, he's going to announce plans to accelerate work on a heavy-lifting rocket that would be used to get into deep space. NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce spoke with ME co-host Renee Montagne:



Related story by NBC News — Neil Armstrong Says Obama's NASA Plan Is "Devastating": "In an open letter obtained by NBC's Jay Barbree, former astronauts Neil Armstrong, James Lovell and Eugene Cernan urge President Obama to reconsider what they warn would be 'devastating' new policies for the future of NASA."



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