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May 14, 2012 at 8:41 AM   |   Comments

At least 15 dead in Nepal plane crash

KATHMANDU, Nepal, May 14 (UPI) -- An Agni Air flight struck a mountain peak and crashed in Nepal Monday, killing at least 15 people, most of them from India, officials said. Six people survived.

The plane went down near Jomsom Airport in western Nepal on a flight from Pokhara.

Earlier reports from officials had said as many as 19 people died.

The survivors, including two girls, were rescued from the debris of the Dronier aircraft, which broke up after striking the mountain, Press Trust of India reported. The plane did not catch fire.

The passengers were traveling to the holy shrine of Muktinath, Indian Embassy spokeswoman Apoorva Srivastav said.

"We are in touch with ... relatives of the families," she said.

Agni Air is a small Nepalese airline started in 2006. Its headquarters are in Kathmandu.


SYRIZA leader snubs Greek coalition parley

ATHENS, Greece, May 14 (UPI) -- Greece's radical leftist leader refused a presidential call to join other parties' leaders Monday for final coalition talks to avoid new elections.

Alexis Tsipras, president of the Synaspismos political party and head of the Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary group, known as SYRIZA -- which became Greece's second-biggest party in May 6 elections -- said it made no sense to participate in further meetings because weeklong coalition talks with the same party leaders were deadlocked.

SYRIZA wants Greece to tear up a $168 billion loan deal with its European partners and its associated austerity measures. The deal was struck in March, and is designed to keep the country afloat and inside the eurozone.

Eurozone finance ministers have warned failing to abide by the deal's terms would mean Greece risks losing any future financial aid and could be drummed out of the eurozone.

"The denial to take part in a coalition government is not from SYRIZA but from the Greek people," Tsipras was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying last week. "The [loan agreement] has already been denounced by the Greek people."

Tsipras, 37, has said he wants to keep Greece in the eurozone but calls the bailout's terms criminal.

"They are not asking for agreement -- they are asking us to be their partners in crime and we will not be their accomplices," Tsipras said Sunday after meeting with conservative and socialist leaders, who support the deal's austere terms.

President Karolos Papoulias must call for new general elections next month if a coalition can't be formed.


Dimon: JPMorgan trading loss could top $3B

WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- Banks will "lose their battle" to weaken new Wall Street rules, a U.S. senator said, as JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s head said its trading loss could top $3 billion.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. -- a proponent of the so-called Volcker rule, limiting bank risk-taking, and other aspects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul -- was asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday what price JPMorgan should pay for a massive trading bet that resulted in the huge losses.

"The price will be that they will lose their battle in Washington to weaken the [Volker] rule -- that is the real price," he said. "In terms of past activities, that's in the hands of people who are assessing whether or not there was any criminal wrongdoing."

Three days after saying JPMorgan's losses would be about $2.3 billion, Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon told "Meet the Press" they could "be volatile by a billion dollars possibly," meaning they could top $3 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday the firm was prepared for a total loss of more than $4 billion over the next year, though with a market rebound, the losses could be reduced.

Dimon told NBC Sunday he was "dead wrong" April 13 when he said concerns about reported problems with the London unit doing the highly risky trades were "a complete tempest in a teapot."

The risky trades led to $14 billion off the bank's stock-market value being wiped out Friday as U.S. and British regulators began investigations into the losses.

JPMorgan also began investigating whether London traders hid the extent of losses on credit derivatives positions, the Financial Times reported Monday.

Dimon faces shareholders at the bank's annual meeting in Florida Tuesday.


Edwards 'lied and lied and lied and lied'

GREENSBORO, N.C., May 14 (UPI) -- Ex-U.S. Sen. John Edwards lied about his affair and coverup, but did so to spare his wife, says his lawyer, who was to begin calling witnesses Monday.

"Yes, Mr. Edwards is making 18,267 false and exculpatory statements," defense attorney Abbe Lowell said during a hearing last week before U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles in Greensboro, N.C.

"No one is going to deny that Mr. Edwards lied and lied and lied and lied," Lowell said.

But the two-time presidential candidate lied for the right reasons, Lowell said and was expected to argue when he presented his case, The Washington Post reported.

Edwards lied primarily to spare his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, from more heartache while she battled metastatic breast cancer that eventually claimed her life, the Post said Lowell's narrative suggested.

Prosecutors allege Edwards lied because his indiscretions would have ruined his political career.

"John Edwards is a man who has committed many sins, but no crimes," defense attorney Allison Van Laningham said in her opening statement.

Edwards, 58, is charged with six felony counts, four involving the alleged acceptance of $933,000 in illegal campaign contributions during his failed 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. He also faces charges of conspiracy and making false statements.

The government contends Edwards knowingly used the unreported payments from two wealthy campaign donors to pay the expenses of his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and to hide their extramarital affair and the daughter they conceived from voters.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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