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March 22, 2013 at 8:19 AM   |   Comments

Obama: Confront 'bigotry and hatred'

JERUSALEM, March 22 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama, visiting Israel's memorial to Holocaust victims Friday, said bigotry and hatred have no place in a civilized world.

Obama spent part of his third day in the country at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

"Nothing equals the wrenching power of this sacred place ... ," Obama said.

"We could come here a thousand times, and each time our hearts would break."

The memorial is a reminder that people are faced with the choice to "succumb to our worst instincts or to summon the better angels of our nature," Obama said.

"For us, in our time, this means confronting bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, racism, especially anti-Semitism. None of that has a place in the civilized world -- not in the classrooms of children; not in the corridors of power. And let us never forget the link between the two. For our sons and daughters are not born to hate, they are taught to hate. So let us fill their young hearts with the same understanding and compassion that we hope others have for them," Obama said.

Obama's visit to Yad Vashem preceded his scheduled meeting with Jordanian King Adullah to discuss Middle East peace diplomacy and Syrian refugees flooding into Jordan.


3 dead in Quantico shootings, standoff

QUANTICO, Va., March 22 (UPI) -- A Marine allegedly shot two people to death and killed himself during a standoff at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, military officials said.

The standoff about 11 p.m. Thursday after the gunman shot and wounded a person at the Officer Candidate School, WUSA-TV, Washington, reported. The victim later died.

The suspect, who Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan identified as a staff member at the school, barricaded himself inside a barracks building, CNN reported.

Investigators gained access to the building by 2:45 a.m. Friday and found a second shooting victim along with the suspected gunman dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, The Washington Post reported.

The identities of the two victims and the suspected gunman were not reported. At least one of the victims was a Marine, CNN reported.

The base was on lockdown for 4 hours during the standoff, the Post reported.


Reid: Gun bill to include background checks

WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- U.S. gun legislation reaching the Senate floor after a two-week spring break will include universal background checks, Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

"I hope negotiations will continue over the upcoming break to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed," the Nevada Democrat said as he formally moved a package of gun-related bills onto the legislative calendar late Thursday.

"If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill," he said.

The expansion of background checks has been a central point of President Barack Obama's gun-violence prevention plan.

Recent surveys have found strong public support for requiring background checks for private sales, including those at gun shows and over the Internet.

The package to be debated in the Senate next month also will include stricter federal criminal laws for gun trafficking and provisions to improve school safety, Reid said.

While it will not include a ban on assault weapons, Reid said proposals to ban such weapons and high-capacity magazines could be offered as bill amendments.


Myanmar clashes 'like a killing field'

MEIKTILA, Myanmar, March 22 (UPI) -- Myanmar President Thein Sein ordered a state of emergency Friday after at least 20 people, including children, died in clashes between Buddhists and Muslims.

One scene was described as "like a killing field."

The violence began Wednesday after a customer and the Muslim owner of a shop had an argument and hundreds of Buddhists and Muslims arrived at the hop, Voice of America reported.

At least 10 people died Wednesday, including a Buddhist monk.

By Friday, groups of Buddhists, including monks, ransacked and burned Muslim neighborhoods in Meiktila in retaliation for the monk's death, The New York Times reported.

Reports of the death toll varied.

The BBC reported eight people died Friday, bringing the toll to 20.

Thein Sein said the state of emergency would allow the military to help restore order to Meiktila.

Nyan Lin, a former political prisoner told the Mizzima news agency police "just stood watching the rioters and did not take any action."

"The area was like a killing field," said photographer, Wunna Naing, of Meiktila. "Even the police told me that they could not handle what they witnessed. Children were among the victims."

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