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Nearly all California voters think water shortage is serious: poll

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 05:10

Nearly all California voters believe the state's water shortage is a serious problem, though they were split on whether environmental protection should be rolled back in response, according to a Field Poll released on Thursday. Winter storms that dropped up to a foot (30 cm) of rain on parts of California have modestly eased the dry conditions, according to U.S. drought experts, but the relief only put a dent in the drought entering its fourth year. Respondents in northern California, the Central Valley, and the San Francisco Bay Area were more likely than their southern California counterparts to say the problem was extreme. The poll surveyed 1,241 registered voters in California from late January to mid-February by phone.


Driver of truck hit by California train to appear in court

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 03:05

By Dana Feldman VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - The driver of a truck that was hit by a California commuter train in a wreck that injured 50 people is set to appear in court on Thursday. Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, was found walking and "in distress" more than a mile (1.5 km) from the crash site in Oxnard on Tuesday and was later taken into custody on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, police said. Sanchez-Ramirez's attorney Ron Bamieh told reporters on Wednesday that the crash was an accident and his client left the scene trying to look for help before eventually finding police. It tore apart the Ford pickup truck Sanchez-Ramirez drove onto the tracks after making a wrong turn before dawn.


'Jihadi John' suspect in IS beheading videos is identified

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 02:58

The BBC says the man seen in several Islamic State videos is Mohammed Emwazi from London.


U.S. deserter needs Iraq war crimes evidence to be refugee: EU court

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 02:55

By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier who deserted because he thought the Iraq war was illegal could have grounds for seeking asylum in Germany but only if he can show he would have been involved in war crimes, Europe's highest court said on Thursday. The European Court of Justice added that even if Andre Shepherd could prove war crimes were very likely to have been committed, he would still have to show he had no alternative to desertion, such as becoming a conscientious objector. The Luxembourg-based court was asked for guidance by a German court after Shepherd took legal action when German authorities rejected his asylum application.


With 2016 on horizon, conservatives rally at CPAC

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 21:51

Thousands of American conservatives will gather just outside Washington beginning Thursday with a thinly-veiled mission: vet the Republican politicians who might soon announce bids for the White House. This week's annual CPAC convention will see the right wing rallying around core principles it hopes will shape the 2016 presidential election. The Conservative Political Action Conference is hard to put a label on. While it appeals to young ideological conservatives converging on Washington in the heart of winter -- the Potomac River, adjacent to the event's National Harbor setting in Maryland, is nearly frozen over -- CPAC attracts seasoned Republican A-listers who are virtually assured of a warm reception.


Tougher Internet rules to hit cable, telecoms companies

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 21:23

By Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are poised to impose the toughest rules yet on Internet service providers, aiming to ensure fair treatment of all web traffic through their networks. The Federal Communications Commission is expected Thursday to approve Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposed "net neutrality" rules, regulating broadband providers more heavily than in the past and restricting their power to control download speeds on the web, for instance by potentially giving preference to companies that can afford to pay more. The vote, expected along party lines with Democrats in favor, comes after a year of jostling between cable and telecom companies and net neutrality advocates, which included web startups. It culminated in the FCC receiving a record 4 million comments and a call from President Barack Obama to adopt the strongest rules possible.


Legal pot arrives in District of Columbia amid wrangle with Congress

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 21:04

By Ian Simpson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Possession of small amounts of marijuana became legal in the District of Columbia on Thursday amid a face-off between local officials and the U.S. Congress over whether the new standards are lawful. Initiative 71, a ballot measure legalizing marijuana possession and approved by 65 percent of District of Columbia voters in November, took effect at 12:01 a.m. EST. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other city officials vowed on Wednesday that legalization would go ahead despite warnings from Republicans on the House of Representatives Oversight Committee that the move was illegal. In a letter to Bowser, committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, head of a committee subpanel, said a December spending bill had barred the District of Columbia from spending any funds to make pot legal or lessen penalties.


Las Vegas pet shop owner gets at least 5 years for fire that imperiled puppies

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 17:50
(Reuters) - A woman who pleaded guilty to charges that she and an accomplice set her Las Vegas pet store on fire with 25 puppies inside in an insurance scam was sentenced on Wednesday to at least five years in prison, a court official said. Gloria Lee, who pleaded guilty last October to charges of arson, insurance fraud and attempted animal cruelty in connection with the Jan. 27, 2014, blaze, revealed in court she is pregnant, Clark County Courts spokeswoman Mary Ann Price But Clark County Judge David Barker sentenced Lee to a maximum of 14 years in prison, with her eligibility for parole beginning after she spends five years behind bars, Price said. Twenty-seven dogs of various breeds, including 25 puppies, were in Lee's Prince and Princess Pet Shop at the time.

California train crash was an accident, lawyer for truck driver says

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 17:50

By Dana Feldman VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - A lawyer for the driver whose truck was hit by a California commuter train in a wreck that injured 50 people said on Wednesday the crash was an accident and that his client left the scene only to try to find help. Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, was found walking and "in distress" more than a mile (1.6 km) from the accident on Tuesday and was later taken into custody on suspicion of felony hit-and-run for leaving the scene, police said. Ventura County prosecutors said they expected to file formal charges against Sanchez-Ramirez on Thursday before his initial court appearance. Ron Bamieh, an attorney for Sanchez-Ramirez, told a news conference on Wednesday: "What we've found in the time we've had this case is that this was an accident, all this was an accident." Bamieh confirmed his client was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1998 but said there was no indication he was intoxicated at the time of the rail crash.


Confident Obama predicts success in immigration appeal

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:26

MIAMI (AP) — President Barack Obama urged immigrants thrown into limbo by legal wrangling to keep planning for eventual relief, professing confidence Wednesday that his deportation directives won't be thrown out in court.


California train crash was an accident, lawyer for truck driver says

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 14:04

By Dana Feldman VENTURA, Calif. (Reuters) - A lawyer for the driver whose truck was hit by a California commuter train in a wreck that injured 50 people said on Wednesday the crash was an accident and that his client left the scene only to try to find help. Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, was found walking and "in distress" more than a mile from the accident on Tuesday and was later taken into custody on suspicion of felony hit-and-run for leaving the scene. Ventura County prosecutors said they expected to file formal charges against Sanchez-Ramirez on Thursday before his initial court appearance. Ron Bamieh, an attorney for Sanchez-Ramirez, told a news conference on Wednesday: "What we've found in the time we've had this case is that this was an accident, all this was an accident." Bamieh confirmed his client had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 1998 but said there was no indication he was intoxicated at the time of the rail crash.


FCC to vote to regulate net neutrality Thursday: What it means

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 13:59

The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote Thursday on a new set of Internet service rules. For all those who’ve avoided the net neutrality conversation, it’s not too late. In fact, there’s no better time to start paying attention.


U.S. refinery strike continues with no steps toward settlement

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 13:56

The largest U.S. refinery strike since 1980 continued through its 25th day on Wednesday with no movement toward renewed talks to end a walkout by 6,550 union workers at 15 plants, including 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of domestic capacity. A spokesman for lead refinery owner representative Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, said no face-to-face meetings have been scheduled with the United Steelworkers union (USW) as of Wednesday. Talks for a new three-year contract covering 30,000 USW members at refineries and chemical plants broke off on Friday, after which the USW ordered strikes at three Motiva Enterprises refineries, which are co-owned by Shell. Talks on local issues are set to begin again on Friday between LyondellBasell and the USW local union representing workers at the company's Houston refinery, said sources close to the negotiations.


3 nabbed in NY, Florida in plot to join Islamic State group

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 12:24

The men are accused of plotting to travel to Syria to wage war against the U.S.


Partial collapse of three-story building in New York City

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:52
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A three-story building undergoing construction work partially collapsed on Manhattan's West Side on Wednesday, and rescuers appeared to have accounted for everyone at the rubble-strewn site, New York authorities said. One person may have suffered minor injuries, said a spokesman for the New York City Police Department at the scene. A half dozen firefighters lifted in the buckets of so-called cherry-picker trucks were using power tools to saw through scaffolding that had collapsed around the site at 57th Street near 11th Avenue. ...

Bipartisan deal paves way for Homeland Security vote

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:33

Democrats support GOP's plan without immigration provisions opposed by President Obama.


1 seriously injured in Manhattan partial building collapse

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:26

Emergency workers say collapse occurred at a 3-story building that was under construction.


‘American Sniper’ guilty verdict draws brisk, blunt reactions from Texans

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 11:25

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — The “American Sniper” murder trial was closely followed in this rural town, but also drew international attention in part because of the Oscar-winning blockbuster film based on Chris Kyle’s memoir of his four tours in Iraq. Late Tuesday, a jury took a little more than two hours to find an ex-Marine guilty of gunning down Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, two years ago. “Most people around here, if you talk to them, would say that they think he's guilty,” Lana Karlberg said.


U.S. charges three with conspiring to support Islamic State

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 09:46
By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three men were charged on Wednesday with conspiring to support Islamic State, including two who planned to travel to Syria to fight on behalf of the radical group, U.S. authorities said. One of the men, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, of Kazakhstan was arrested early on Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where authorities said he was attempting to board a flight to Turkey on his way to Syria. Another defendant, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, of Uzbekistan, had previously purchased a ticket for a March flight to Istanbul, said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn. Abror Habibov, 30, of Uzbekistan, was accused of helping to fund Saidakhmetov's efforts, prosecutors said.

Truck driver in California train crash had DUI conviction: L.A. Times

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 09:43

By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The truck driver arrested in a rail crash that injured 50 people in California had been cited for multiple driving violations in his home state of Arizona, including a 1998 conviction for driving under the influence, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday. Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, was found walking and "in distress" more than a mile from the accident on Tuesday and was later taken into custody on suspicion of felony hit-and-run for leaving the scene, police said. Ventura County prosecutors said they expected to file formal charges against Ramirez on Thursday before his initial court appearance. The crash in Oxnard, about 45 miles northwest of Los Angeles, flipped over three double-decker Metrolink rail cars and derailed two others.


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