Smoke out. The Food and Drug Administration proposed new rules today to protect minors from the dangers of electronic cigarettes. The guidelines would be the government’s first attempt to regulate e-cigarettes, frequently marketed as a safer way to smokers to get a nicotine fix while they try to quit. E-cigarettes heat a liquid nicotine solution instead of burning tobacco, creating a vapor that users inhale. The proposed rules would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 18, prohibit their sale in vending machines, and require warning labels about nicotine’s addictiveness.
Line of duty. An Afghan security guard opened fire on a group of foreign doctors at a Kabul hospital on Thursday morning, killing three American physicians and wounding a U.S. nurse, officials said. The hospital shooting is the second “insider attack” by a member of Afghan security forces targeting foreign civilians this month. A security guard shot two journalists on April 4, killing Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus.
Chemical attacks. The Associated Press is accusing Syrian government forces of attacking rebel-held areas with poisonous chlorine gas in recent weeks and months. The attacks left men, women, and children coughing, choking, and gasping for breath. Syria flatly denied the allegations, and they have yet to be confirmed by any foreign country or international organization. Witnesses near Damascus and in a central rebel-held village told the AP of chlorine-like fumes dispersed by hand grenades and helicopter-dropped “barrel bombs.” If true, the reports highlight the limitations of the global effort to rid President Bashar al-Assad’s government of its chemical weapons.
Red tape. Bureaucratic hassles might be holding up the release of an American solider captive for nearly five years in Afghanistan. The Taliban has held Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl since June 30, 2009. His captors have signaled a willingness to release him but are unclear which U.S. government officials have the authority to make a deal, according to two individuals in the military working for Bergdahl’s release. Critics of the effort blame disorganization and poor communication among the numerous federal agencies involved.
Insurgency. Ukrainian troops fought with pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing five of them in clashes at checkpoints. Pro-Russian protesters and masked gunmen seized government buildings in at least 10 eastern Ukraine cities and set up roadblocks. In St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened Kiev with unspecified consequences. “If the Kiev government is using the army against its own people, this is clearly a grave crime,” Putin said. The Ukrainian government insists it has legal grounds to fight “terrorists” who are leading an armed insurgency in the east.