WHO Aims To Reform Itself But Health Experts Aren't Yet Impressed

Margaret Chan (left), director general of the World Health Organization, is among the dignitaries visiting a military base in Conakry, Guinea, on a tour of west African countries affected by Ebola. Also pictured: Guinean President Alpha Conde (fourth from right) and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (right).

Margaret Chan (left), director general of the World Health Organization, is among the dignitaries visiting a military base in Conakry, Guinea, on a tour of west African countries affected by Ebola. Also pictured: Guinean President Alpha Conde (fourth from right) and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (right). BINANI/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption BINANI/AFP/Getty Images

The world is not ready for the next big pandemic. That’s what health officials have been saying for years. If a deadly flu strain spreads around the globe, we could be in trouble.

This week the health leaders are trying to change that. They’re gathering in Geneva for the World Health Organization’s annual meeting, the 69th World Health Assembly. At the top of the agenda: reshaping WHO into an agency that can take action during a health emergency instead of just giving out advice.

For the past decade or so, WHO has been crippled, says Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown Law. The agency slashed its budget for emergencies, got rid of many experts and essentially became known for giving out advice instead of taking action.

Then Ebola hit West Africa.

“Thousands of lives were lost unnecessarily and yet no one was fired. No one was held accountable. And that has to stop,” Gostin says

Last year, he says, the agency took a big step: It started to build up its capacity to get boots on the ground — quickly — when an outbreak hits.

“That’s never happened in the past,” he says. “They never actually got their hands dirty on the ground in the country.”

WHO is creating a team devoted exclusively to handling health emergencies, such as Zika in Latin America or yellow fever in Angola. In the past, the agency has had to rebuild this team from scratch every time an epidemic cropped up.

“I’ve been with WHO for over 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Peter Graaff, the group’s director of emergency operations. “It’s really a completely new way of doing business.”

WHO has also started training medical teams around the world. The members will drop whatever they’re doing and rush to an outbreak. So far, teams in China, Europe and Latin America are part of the program.

“It will offer a much faster, more predictable response to health emergencies,” Graaff says.

Others say these reforms don’t go far enough.

“I think it’s not even close,” says Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “What they’ve done so far, I don’t believe begins to fix the underlying problem, which was much more about culture and openness and a sense of accountability.”

So much of what happens at WHO happens in secrecy, Jha says. There’s little transparency — exactly the opposite of what’s needed when a deadly disease is spreading, he says. Countries need to who is making decisions and why.

Then there’s the money problem. WHO is asking countries for about $500 million to fund the program. But the money hasn’t yet been donated.

“Even if that were fully allocated [from existing budgets], and the assembly hasn’t done that yet, it would be woefully too little,” Georgetown’s Gostin says.

By comparison, U.S. health officials asked Congress for nearly $2 billion just to fight Zika here in the States.

“So I would say the World Health Assembly has to put its money where its mouth is, or else this could be a paper tiger,” says Gostin — and he believes it could crumble if another crisis, like Ebola, strikes the world.

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London neighbors engage in 'battle of the balconies' ahead of EU vote

The debate about Britain’s future in the Europe has taken an unexpected new twist: a “battle of the balconies” between north London neighbors unfurling competing pro- and anti-Brexit banners.

Unimpressed by a large “Vote Leave” banner appearing on the balcony next door, a man named by British media as Frank Chalmers, 61, unveiled his own sign that added the words, “…if you want to cut workers’ rights”.

The leafy, suburban locale of Gospel Oak was not previously regarded as a key battleground in the debate around the June 23 referendum on Britain’s European Union membership.

The story emerged after Chalmers’ son, Malcolm tweeted a picture of the opposing balconies and wrote: “My parents’ neighbors have put up a large ‘Vote Leave’ sign. It seems my dad’s response is to get creative. #Remain.”

He told the London Evening Standard newspaper that his father gave his neighbors a bottle of wine as a peace offering.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Stephen Addison)

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Viking's Choice: Owen, 'Lost'

Owen.

Owen. Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the artist

We’re guided, derailed and thrown out by passion, and we keep crawling back because it’s what we know. Ever since Mike Kinsella started Cap’n Jazz with his brother Tim at age 12, he’s lived the musician’s life with scattered rewards. But over the last three decades, he’s seen how his Chicago bands like Joan Of Arc, American Football and Owls have shaped a thriving and evolving rock scene. Started in 2001 to give a place to his gentle and autumnal home recordings, Owen has always been Kinsella’s own, even when comrades contributed in the studio.

That’s why the lush and lively The River Of Whys feels different and familiar at once. Owen’s ninth album is his first to be recorded outside of Chicago, with other musicians, and away from his creature comforts. In Eau Claire, Wisc., Bon Iver‘s S. Carey not only produces, but also plays on the album. Throughout, there’s the Roger Murtaugh notion that Kinsella’s getting too old for this s***, looking back on age and regret with wistfulness, but also a wry sense of humor. And if a new band with young proteges (Their / They’re / There), American Football’s successful 2015 reunion tour and two little children running around have anything to do with it, Kinsella has a renewed sense of purpose on The River Of Whys.

Kinsella opens “Lost” with the musician’s unofficial creed: “Stay poor and die trying.” It’s a quiet song about knowing your past and wondering about other paths. There are Kinsella quirks throughout, like inserting a “f***” at the prettiest pedal-steel swell, or absurd imagery (“Carry scissors with your teeth”) delivered matter-of-factly. But with acoustic guitar, pizzicato strings, upright bass, piano and pedal steel, Kinsella’s free-floating thoughts and soft-spoken melodies sound more grounded than ever. Kinsella isn’t lost, just wandering.

The King Of Whys comes out July 29 on Polyvinyl.

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Ryan Shoots Down Trump Endorsement, As He Readies House GOP Campaign Agenda

House Speaker Paul Ryan.

House Speaker Paul Ryan. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Paul Ryan’s office shot down early reports Wednesday that the speaker was on the verge of an endorsement of Donald Trump, the de facto Republican nominee.

“There’s no update, and we’ve not told the Trump campaign to expect an endorsement,” a Ryan aide said.

Throughout the GOP presidential primaries, Ryan has tried to walk a line — between candidates and sometimes inflammatory rhetoric and trying to manage the party’s message and vision from his perch as speaker of the House. He’s done so in a series of speeches and public appearances, and those efforts sparked speculation that Ryan was planning a dark-horse campaign of his own for the nomination at a potentially contested convention. That’s something he had to personally, and publicly, deny in April.

He does, however, continue his efforts to try and shape the narrative of 2016 and the message for Republicans. In an effort to hold their majority and reassure Republicans still wary of its presidential nominee, House Republicans will begin rolling out a policy agenda of their own in June.

Ryan is spearheading the agenda project, which he calls “Confident America.” He will preview the roll out at a media briefing on Wednesday. Ryan announced the project shortly after he became speaker last fall, and well before Trump had locked up the nomination. But now the effort is widely viewed as an alternative agenda for congressional Republicans to campaign on this November. It will, in theory, allow lawmakers to run with Trump on the ideas they agree on, and be able to demonstrate where they differ.

Trump has upended years of conservative orthodoxy with his support for higher taxes, opposition to free trade, embrace of entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, and his more isolationist foreign-policy views.

Ryan stands in stark opposition to Trump on all of those positions. He has not yet endorsed the apparent GOP nominee, although the two men met privately earlier this month to begin what both sides describe as an effort to unify the two wings of the party they represent.

In a web video released Wednesday, Ryan criticized the “bitterness in our politics” and said politicians need to focus on policy solutions and not personal attacks.

“Leaders need to say: ‘Here’s my principle; here’s my solution,'” he says in the video. “And let’s try and do it in a way that is inclusive, that’s optimistic, that’s aspirational, that’s focusing on solutions.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Office YouTube

He adds, “Republicans lose personality contests anyway. We always do. But we win ideas contests. We owe you that choice.”

Lawmakers and aides familiar with the House GOP agenda project say it will hold to more familiar conservative positions on taxes, healthcare and foreign policy.

House leaders have promoted similar efforts in the past. In 2006, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., led the “Six for ’06” agenda that pledged to clean up a U.S. House dogged by ethical and criminal scandals. Democrats took control of the House that November.

In 2010, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, led the “Pledge to America” that was geared toward capturing the economic angst and Tea Party anger of the time. Republicans took control of the House that November.

But both of those elections were midterms, and in a presidential election year the party’s nominees set the terms of the election in a way that is hard for any down-ballot candidates to drown out or escape on their own.

In direct contrast to Ryan’s call, Trump has led a personality-driven primary campaign and, so far, plans to run a similar strategy in the fall against Hillary Clinton. His early attacks on her have focused on Bill Clinton’s past infidelities and her low approval ratings.

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What Is The Meaning Behind The Moo?

Moo me? Moo you!

Moo me? Moo you! Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Mira Oberman/AFP/Getty Images

Whenever I’m out reporting in the field, I can tell many ranchers have a powerful connection with their cattle — it seems they can almost understand them. But researchers today are digging deeper to figure out exactly what cows are saying — and how they communicate through their moos.

I drove out to the research farm at the University of Missouri to ask cattle geneticist Jared Decker to share his expert insights.

“I can’t translate cow moos into English,” he says. “But there are certain times when you can tell when the cattle are communicating with one another.”

In his experience, these are some meanings of the moo:

They are trying to find their friends.

When cows change environments, like moving from one farm to another, they will moo to try to connect with their friends as they figure out their new surroundings. Decker said it’s like going to the school cafeteria after you’ve just left a classroom. When you enter the cafeteria, you look for your friends. Cows do the same thing when they disembark at a new location.

They want to make calves.

These moos are the pick-up lines of the cattle world. Bulls and cows let each other know that they are ready, in the words of Marvin Gaye, to get it on.

They’ve lost their calf or their mother.

Researcher Monica Padilla de la Torre and her team looked at communication between cows and their offspring. When mama cows were separated from their calves, they made a louder, higher-pitched call. When their calves were close, their calls registered at a lower frequency, suggesting that higher-pitched calls are meant to alert calves that they are being missed.

The calves themselves made a distinct moo when they wanted milk but couldn’t find their mothers.

De la Torre says the calves’ higher-frequency moos and the older cow’s lower-frequency moos were individually distinctive, suggesting moms and babies may actually recognize each other’s voices.

They’re hungry.

This call can be directed toward the farmer. It’s time for some hay or grain!

They need to be milked.

These moos can let the farmer know that it’s time for a helping hand.

They are stressed out.

Maybe it’s too hot or maybe they are caught in a fence. Decker says he’s noticed a higher-pitched, more frequent moo when cows are dealing with these issues.

There is a flip side to this. One of my biggest problems as a radio reporter: cows not mooing when I’m trying to collect audio for my stories. Decker says that’s because happy cows don’t need to moo.

Cows often moo when they're stressed out, Decker says — it may be that they're caught in a fence or they're too hot.

Cows often moo when they’re stressed out, Decker says — it may be that they’re caught in a fence or they’re too hot. Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media hide caption

toggle caption Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

“It’s when something’s out of the ordinary that they need to moo,” he says. “It’s ‘I’m hungry, farmer come feed me.’ It’s ‘my baby’s not near me, let me find my baby calf.’ It’s … ‘let’s make a baby calf.'”

So whether they’re at the University of Missouri or Old MacDonald’s farm, cows do seem to moo in order to communicate. And that moo may actually mean something specific.

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Asking Mom: 'Did You Know I Was Depressed In High School?'

Louise Ma for Only Human/WNYC

Louise Ma for Only Human/WNYC

Rose has dealt with depression since high school. She’d put her head down, focus on school and get through. But during her senior year of college, Rose couldn’t even concentrate on school anymore.

“I was struggling. I was feeling depressed, I was feeling isolated,” Rose, now 24, says. “I was crying at Cheerios commercials, which is not normal.”

Rose started seeing a therapist and feels like she has everything under control. She’s even on her way to becoming a therapist herself, in her third year of a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology. (We’re only using first names in this story to protect her patient-therapist relationships.)

She has never told her parents anything about her own depression. She worried about disappointing them. She also worried that her mental health issues were frivolous compared with the struggles that her parents, who grew up in Pakistan and emigrated to the United States, have endured.

And she was particularly worried about what her mom would say.

“So I had moved out for college, and that’s not really the norm for my cultural background,” Rose says. “I was afraid that I was going to share this with her and the response would be: ‘I told you it wasn’t good for you to move out. You should have stayed home.’ “

A few weeks ago, Rose decided to take a huge step. In talking about this story, she realized this could be a good opportunity to tell her mother for the very first time about her struggles with depression. She got her mother’s permission to record the conversation:

Rose: I don’t think I’ve ever asked you how do you feel about my decision to be a psychologist?

Mama: Mmmm.

Rose: (Laughs.) Complicated feelings.

Mama: Yeah.

One of the reasons Rose was interested in sitting down with her mom for this story was because she plans to do her thesis on this very kind of thing. In general, children have trouble talking to their parents about mental health issues. But in Rose’s case, and for a lot of first-generation Americans, there’s not just the generation gap — there’s also a culture clash.

Rose: I know you’ve seen family that’s depressed. You’ve seen the symptoms like being cranky, sleeping a lot, not eating much. Those kind of things. Did you ever notice any of that in me when I was living here or even now?

Mama: No.

Rose: You never noticed any of that?

Mama: I don’t think you have any of this problem.

Rose: Well, it actually has been a problem for me.

Mama: I know, but I think this is no big problem.

Rose: OK. So, you’ve noticed those things but it’s not a big problem.

Mama: Yeah.

After that, Rose goes on for a while, explaining to her mom that she sort of hid her depression and maybe that’s why it didn’t look like a big problem.

Mama: You have depression, I understand. You live alone and nobody talk to you. And I know this is depression.

Rose: But you know I don’t think it’s because I live alone. Because I felt this way in high school when I lived here. This isn’t brand new.

Then Rose told her mother that she was worried that her mother would judge her.

Rose: I didn’t want you to think that I’m weak or … broken or anything like that. Do you think of me any differently?

Mama: No. I am proud of you, and you are the angel of our life.

Rose: So after this conversation, what, if anything, do you think is going to change?

Mama: You move here.

Rose: (Laughs.) I’m not moving here. I think you know that.

That conversation ended on what seemed like a pretty nice note. But then Rose shut the recorder off. At that point, she says, her mom got mad about Rose going public, and told her that she would have a harder time getting married because of it. Rose says now:

I tried to be like, that’s the point. That’s why we’re doing this. Because both in our American culture and in our Pakistani culture there’s a stigma, and she knows it. Because now she’s afraid that people are going to know this about me and judge me for it, and it’s going to make it harder to have a future the way she wants me to have a future.

She regretted having shared all this with her mom. But then, the next day, Rose’s mom started asking these little questions like, “Where did this start?” or “What could I have done differently?” Even, “Is this because I wouldn’t let you wear makeup to school?” Rose started to feel like her mom was coming from a place of wanting to understand better, rather than judging.

And with a little time, Rose found herself doing the same thing — trying to understand her mom’s reaction instead of judging it:

I’ve had years to come to terms with this knowledge about myself and I gave her, what, maybe an hour-long conversation and then expected her to, at the end of it, be totally understanding and calm and collected about it, which wasn’t fair on my part.

Rose thinks that sharing and being open about mental illness may ultimately bridge these kinds of generational and culture gaps.

But people have to be prepared for a process, she says, not a hit-and-run conversation.

Laying everything out has made her and her mom more reflective. So maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

For more on WNYC’s Only Human podcast series on mental health, check here. You can stay in touch with @OnlyHuman on Twitter and @Only Human on Facebook.

WNYC and NPR recently asked listeners: Have you ever had a hard time talking openly about your mental health? We’ll be posting some of these responses on Facebook throughout the series.

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When The Cat's Away: Chechen Strongman Spars With John Oliver Over Lost Feline

Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov speaks as he attends celebrations marking Defenders of the Fatherland Day in Chechnya's provincial capital of Grozny, Russia, in February.

Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov speaks as he attends celebrations marking Defenders of the Fatherland Day in Chechnya’s provincial capital of Grozny, Russia, in February. Musa Sadulayev/AP hide caption

toggle caption Musa Sadulayev/AP

Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov and HBO host John Oliver are locked in a public spat over a lost cat.

First, Kadyrov — the leader of the Russian republic of Chechnya whose forces have been accused of torture — asked his 1.8 million Instagram followers for help finding his missing cat.

“We have completely lost our cat,” the staunch ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin posted, according to a translation from The Guardian. “We have begun to seriously worry.” He appealed to his followers for any information about the feline’s whereabouts.

У нас бесследно пропала кошка. Очень похожа на маленького тигрёнка. Гости всегда говорили, что очень и очень напоминает тигрёнка. Дней десять назад он куда-то исчез. Мы все думали, что вот-вот появится, так как очень сильно привязан к детям, любит с ними играться, сопровождать их по двору. Но теперь стали серьёзно беспокоиться. Возможно, он у кого-то совсем недалеко находится. Человек может не знать, как найти хозяев. Уверен, что и ему не нужна чужая кошка. Поэтому были бы признательны за информацию, если что-то известно. Заранее всем благодарен???????? #Кадыров #Россия #Чечня #Кошка #Кот

A photo posted by Ramzan Kadyrov (@kadyrov_95) on May 16, 2016 at 4:29am PDT

Then, Oliver picked up the news for a segment on his satirical current events show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Oliver pokes fun at Kadyrov’s prolific Instagram feed, which, as we reported, runs the gamut from mundane to completely outrageous — including a video where he apparently wrestles a crocodile, and a trailer for a Hollywood-style action film in which he stars. Kadyrov’s workout routine (mainly weightlifting and boxing) is also a regular feature.

“Kadyrov is basically like a can of Monster energy drink come to life,” Oliver says. “And honestly, I cannot recommend his Instagram feed enough.” He continues:

“It almost makes you forget he was once accused of beating a prisoner with a shovel handle before executing him. Almost, but not quite.”

Oliver’s conclusion: “For the good of the Chechen people and stability in the whole region, we have to find this f – – – – -‘s cat.” He urges viewers to join a campaign called #FindKadyrovsCat — basically designed to taunt the strongman by flooding him with pictures of random cats asking if they belong to him.

For example:

.@RKadyrov Is this your cat? pic.twitter.com/2UacV3km7J

— John Oliver (@iamjohnoliver) May 23, 2016

Oliver also points out that in picture after picture on his account, Kadyrov is wearing T-shirts adorned with images of Putin, like this one:

Ассаламу алайкум! Сегодня стало известно о создании Исламской коалиции по борьбе с терроризмом. Инициатором является Саудовская Аравия. В неё входят 34 страны. Штаб-квартира расположится в Эр-Рияде. Конечно, я не ставлю цель давать оценку этому событию, не дожидаясь реальных результатов. Но хочу высказать своё частное мнение, так как борьба с терроризмом для меня не посторонняя тема. Я ранее неоднократно говорил, что лидерам исламского мира следовало бы объединить усилия в борьбе с терроризмом в регионе. Теперь нужно ждать конкретных последствий инициативы КСА. И по ним делать выводы о заявленных и истинных задачах. Если я не ошибаюсь, в американскую коалицию входят более шестидесяти стран. При реальном противодействии Иблисскому государству, этих сил достаточно, чтобы в течение семи дней стереть с лица земли след терроризма. На самом деле видно, что западная коалиция наоборот ведёт к осложнению ситуации в арабском и мусульманском мире. Очень хочется надеяться, что исламская коалиция выберет путь реального спасения ближневосточного и других регионов от угрозы террористического хаоса. В настоящее время только Россия противостоит иблисской банде, а остальные страны то партию оружия не туда сбросят, то нефть не у того купят, то границы забудут закрыть перед террористами. #Кадыров #Россия #Чечня #КСА #Терроризм #Коалиция

A photo posted by Ramzan Kadyrov (@kadyrov_95) on Dec 15, 2015 at 7:42am PST

In response, the apparently incensed authoritarian leader altered Oliver’s picture to remove the cat and replace it with a Putin T-shirt.

Recently my “tiger cat” has left the house. It happens in spring from time to time. He also needs to meet with friends, mingle and share news. By cat rumors he has in our district a familiar she-cat with which he’s going to start a family. I’m sure that after spring affairs, the cat will return to native walls. Perhaps, he’ll bring his sweet love with him. I got used to share with my friends in Instagram with all news, including cat issues. And this time I didn’t want to leave as a secret the cat’s adventures. I receive lots of photos. Some people say that they saw the cat in Vladivostok, Japan, Iceland, New Zealand, and even in the Oval Office of the White House! I am grateful to all, but this is NOT my cat. It became known that even the American TV channel “HBO” joined to search. The anchorman comedian – John Oliver asks millions of viewers to look for a cat. I knew long ago that in the USA unevenly breathe to my younger friends. One day horses aren’t allowed to jump, the other – a cat is a real star of a show. Oliver laments a fact that we put on t-shirts with a photo of the President of Russia – Vladimir Putin. Yes, millions of people rejoice t-shirts with the image of the national leader. For this purpose, there is a good motivation. Vladimir Vladimirovich is a wise, courageous, resolute Head, who managed to withstand unfriendly campaign, which is conducted by the USA and its assistants. Thanks to Putin, we have crushed terrorists among whom there were also citizens of the USA, and European citizens. The country directed by Obama under the guise of peacekeeping operations spark new wars and bloody internal conflicts, in which die millions of people. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria… That’s why there is nothing surprising that Oliver also got a wish to appear publicly in a T-shirt with an image of Putin, but not Obama. #Kadyrov #Russia #Chechnya #USA #HBO #Oliver #findkadyrovscat #Ihavenotseenyourcat #IHAVESEENYOURCAT

A photo posted by Ramzan Kadyrov (@kadyrov_95) on May 23, 2016 at 11:41am PDT

“I’m tired of jokes. I want to care for cats in Chechnya. By the way, Putin is our leader!” text on the photo reads.

Kadyrov says Oliver’s campaign prompted a big response. “I receive lots of photos. Some people say that they saw the cat in Vladivostok, Japan, Iceland, New Zealand, and even in the Oval Office of the White House!” the caption reads. He adds: “I am grateful to all, but this is NOT my cat.”

And Kadyrov downplayed concerns about the missing cat’s well-being, saying the cat leaves the house “in spring from time to time.” He explains:

“He also needs to meet with friends, mingle and share news. By cat rumors he has in our district a familiar she-cat with which he’s going to start a family. I’m sure that after spring affairs, the cat will return to native walls. Perhaps, he’ll bring his sweet love with him.”

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As President Visits Japan, Okinawa Controversy Is Back In The Limelight

Demonstrators gather in a silent rally to mourn the death of an Okinawa woman in front of Camp Zukeran on May 22. The crime is thrusting the opposition to the U.S. presence on Okinawa back in the spotlight.

Demonstrators gather in a silent rally to mourn the death of an Okinawa woman in front of Camp Zukeran on May 22. The crime is thrusting the opposition to the U.S. presence on Okinawa back in the spotlight. The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Renewed controversy over heavy American military presence on the Japanese island of Okinawa swirled as President Barack Obama arrived in Japan for the G7 summit. Just a week earlier, a former U.S. Marine allegedly raped and killed a local Okinawa woman, triggering protests on the island.

“I firmly lodged a protest with President Obama about the recent incident in Okinawa,” Shinzo Abe said after the two leaders met in Ise-Shima Wednesday night. In fact, he said, “The entire time was spent on this specific case.”

The case involves a former U.S. Marine who worked on an Okinawa military base. Investigators say the 32-year-old man strangled his victim before stuffing her body in a suitcase. It’s not the first such assault to happen on Okinawa.

“It really started back in 1995, when there was a gang rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl,” says Jeff Kingston, who heads the Asian Studies department at Tokyo’s Temple University. “And that ignited massive demonstrations all over Okinawa. Since then, there have been a number of other similar type of crimes.”

Diplomats from both countries have been scrambling to contain the fallout. Defense Secretary Ash Carter issued an apology from Washington on Saturday.

Obama, speaking after he and Abe met Wednesday, said, “The U.S. is appalled by any violent crime that may have occurred that may have been carried out by any U.S. personnel or contractors. We consider it inexcusable and we are committed to doing whatever we can to prevent any crimes that we can of this sort … We will be fully cooperating with the Japanese legal system … in making sure justice is served.”

Meanwhile, Kingston says, “Okinawans have had enough. They’re fed up and they want Tokyo and Washington to do more to protect the local people against the over-presence of American military in what’s often called a ‘Cold War island.’ “

The U.S. military presence started after the bloodiest battle of the Pacific war was waged on Okinawa. The chain of islands became the only part of Japan that Americans invaded and occupied. Troops have never really left. Today, Okinawa Prefecture is a key strategic location for the U.S. security commitment to Japan and the region.

At Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, home base for 3,300 American military personnel and 60 aircraft, Marines can get anywhere in the Pacific inside six hours.

“This is very, very stable, peaceful region,” says Col. Peter Lee, the U.S. commander. “And our 70 years of presence here has undergirded that.”

Okinawa’s land mass is less than one percent of Japan’s. But it hosts more than a dozen U.S. bases, 70 percent of all U.S. bases in the country.

“We’re prepared for all types of contingencies, whether that’s a tsunami or an earthquake or it’s some type of conflict that might develop in one of the seas or the oceans that surround us,” Lee says.

Preparation for tensions on the seas is particularly timely lately because of North Korea’s actions. But how much of the security burden should be shouldered by Okinawa? That question is at the center of a long-running standoff between the island and the central Japanese government.

On the northern end of the island, grassroots groups have protested a proposed relocation of Air Station Futenma elsewhere on the island for years. They want it out of Okinawa altogether. So does Okinawa’s governor, Takeshi Onaga.

“I don’t oppose the presence of American military,” Onaga tells NPR. “But since there are so many bases, I think the locations should be balanced across all of Japan.”

With military bases have come problems like environmental damage. Noise. Accidents. And — as last week’s attack reminded everyone — assaults by American troops against local women.

“For Okinawans, they’ve been there and done this,” says Kingston.

For Americans, the troubles in Okinawa are less well known. But “With the Obama visit, the whole limelight is focused on Japan, so this is going to, in a sense, get into the American consciousness,” he says.

“The Japanese people should know how deeply moved we feel about what has happened,” Obama said Wednesday. As he remembers the lives lost in Hiroshima when he visits there Friday, the latest controversy is another reminder that the war’s legacy lives on some 70 years later.

Akane Saiki and Chie Kobayashi contributed to this report.

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Pro-EU group unveils Soviet-style mural of Trump kissing ex-Mayor Johnson

A giant mural of Donald Trump locked in a kiss with former London mayor Boris Johnson in the style of a legendary Soviet-era image has been unveiled by a group campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union.

Painted on the side of a building in Bristol, southwest England – home of the celebrated graffiti artist Banksy – the image reprises a 1979 photograph of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker kissing, which was later turned into a mural on the Berlin Wall.

It was commissioned by pro-EU campaign group “We are Europe” as what they call a warning of things to come if Britons vote to leave the 28-member bloc on June 23, as advocated by both Johnson and Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate in November’s U.S. presidential election.

Johnson is the “Out” campaign’s best-known leader and Trump has said Britain would be “better off without” the EU, which he has blamed for Europe’s migration crisis.

The 15-foot (4.5 meter) mural is accompanied by the slogan “Not #IN for this?” and a plea for people, especially the young, to register to vote by a June 7 deadline.

“People need to look at this image and think – is this the future I want,” said Harriet Kingaby, a spokesperson from We Are Europe.

Galvanizing the youth vote is a key issue for the “In” camp. Surveys show young people are far more likely to be in favor of remaining in the EU but also much less likely to bother to vote.

A survey of 2,000 students this month found that 63 percent did not know the exact date of the referendum, while 54 percent were not aware it was being held in June.

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Top Stories: New Taliban Leader Named; Clashes At Trump Rally

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— Taliban Name New Leader, Confirm Death Of Mullah Mansour.

— Protesters, Police Clash At Donald Trump Rally In New Mexico.

And here are more early headlines:

Trump, Clinton Win Washington State Primaries. (Seattle Times)

Two People Injured Tuesday In Kansas Tornadoes. (NBC)

Greece Wins New Promises Of Debt Relief. (New York Times)

Puerto Rico Financial Bill Draws Support, Opposition. (The Hill)

San Francisco Reaches Rules On Sanctuary For Immigrants. (SF Gate)

Federal Court Rules Ohio Limits On Voting Days Unconstitutional. (Columbus Dispatch)

France Turns To Oil Reserves As Strikes Idle Oil Refineries. (AP)

VIDEO: Dubai Erects 3-D Printed Office Building. (Washington Post)

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