By Barbara Goldberg and Elizabeth Barber NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) - Wicked winter weather gripping the northeastern United States exposed weaknesses in mass transit systems from Boston to New York, with commuters stranded on icy train platforms amid delays stretching into Tuesday. A day after a deadly snowstorm slammed the region, extreme delays crippled Boston's subways, including the most heavily traveled Red Line, which sees about 273,000 riders each day. "A week of constant exposure to frigid temperatures, ice, and record snowfall has taken a major toll on the MBTA's vehicles and infrastructure," the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority said in a statement.
A top U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday that "quite a few" telecommunications companies had been in touch with the government about the possibility of doing business in Cuba. We've been in touch with quite a few," Roberta Jacobson, the Assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said at a U.S. Senate hearing. The United States is moving to ease restrictions on U.S. telecommunications companies doing business with Cuba as part of its moves toward eventually normalizing U.S. relations with the Communist-ruled island after half a century.
By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he expects the Justice Department to soon release a list of final recommendations stemming from its probe into whether the Internal Revenue Service wrongfully targeted conservative groups. "I am satisfied with the progress that the criminal division has done; the civil rights division as well," Holder told reporters at a press conference. "I expect that we will have some final recommendations coming up relatively soon. ...
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The United States government has taken a new, though preliminary, step to encourage commercial development of the moon. The Federal Aviation Administration, in a previously undisclosed late-December letter to Bigelow Aerospace, said the agency intends to “leverage the FAA’s existing launch licensing authority to encourage private sector investments in space systems by ensuring that commercial activities can be conducted on a non-interference basis.” In other words, experts said, Bigelow could set up one of its proposed inflatable habitats on the moon, and expect to have exclusive rights to that territory - as well as related areas that might be tapped for mining, exploration and other activities. It also bans nuclear weapons in space, prohibits national claims to celestial bodies and stipulates that space exploration and development should benefit all countries. “We didn’t give (Bigelow Aerospace) a license to land on the moon.
By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Water scarcity could lead to conflict between communities and nations as the world is still not fully aware of the water crisis many countries face as a result of climate change, the head of the U.N. panel of climate scientists warned on Tuesday. The latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a rise in global temperature of between 0.3 and 4.8 degrees Celsius (0.5 to 8.6 Fahrenheit) by the late 21st century. Countries such as India are likely to be hit hard by global warming, which will bring more freak weather such as droughts that will lead to serious water shortages and affect agricultural output and food security. "Unfortunately, the world has not really woken up to the reality of what we are going to face in terms of the crises as far as water is concerned," IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri told participants at a conference on water security.
Officials from Royal Dutch Shell Plc , the lead negotiator for oil companies, were repeatedly saying it would be too hard to meet the union's demands for a new three-year contract to lift pay and tighten safety practices, several union officials told Reuters. Late on Monday, Shell said representatives from the company resumed communications with the union "in hopes of coming to a mutually satisfactory contract agreement." A union official said both sides met but no progress was made. From the union's standpoint, Shell has always been the most flexible of the oil companies, much easier to negotiate with than Exxon Mobil Corp or Marathon Petroleum Corp .
Cuban state media released the first photographs of former president Fidel Castro in nearly six months in a bid to quiet rumors that his health is failing. The images showed the 88-year-old Castro at his home along with his wife Dalia during a meeting with the leader of a students' union, and were published in the state-run newspaper Granma and other official media. Castro had remained quiet publicly after the United States and Cuba announced in December that they were going to restore diplomatic relations after a half century of enmity stemming from the Cold War. The images come after weeks of feverish speculation concerning the Cuban revolutionary leader's medical condition after he disappeared from the public eye.
By Tim McLaughlin BOSTON (Reuters) - Boston will delay until Wednesday its parade to celebrate the New England Patriots' Super Bowl victory, after Mayor Marty Walsh decided on Monday to push the event back a day because of a snowstorm pounding the city. "Due to today's bad weather and the worsening forecast tonight, the New England Patriots and the city of Boston have made the mutual decision to postpone the victory parade until Wednesday," Walsh said in a statement. Thousands of fans are expected to turn out to see players including star quarterback Tom Brady and Malcolm Butler, the rookie who snagged a last-minute interception to secure Sunday's victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Greece's new left-wing government can boast some high-profile allies, from Nobel economics laureates to US President Barack Obama, in its controversial drive against austerity in Europe. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says Greece's economy will never truly recover from a six-year recession that has caused a "humanitarian crisis" in the country without growth stimulus and another cut to its massive debt. Germany, which has borne the bulk of Greece's multi-billion-euro bailout, was quick to rule out another debt cut after a 2012 operation slashed Athens' obligations to private creditors by about 100 billion euros ($113 billion). A few days later, US Nobel laureate Paul Krugman noted that demanding Athens create a budget surplus of 4.5 percent of output is akin to "extracting blood from a stone".
By Ellen Wulfhorst and Elizabeth Barber NEW YORK/BOSTON (Reuters) - A deadly winter snowstorm was forecast to lift on Monday night after walloping the Northeastern United States, forcing the delay of Boston's Super Bowl victory parade and snarling air traffic at several major airports. The second major storm in less than a week pummeled residents from New York City to Boston with snow, freezing rain and gusty winds. Weather conditions were a factor in at least seven deaths, including some in the Midwest where the storm hit heavily on Sunday into Monday. Boston, already blanketed by 2 feet (60 cm) of snow from a blizzard last week and predicted to get a further foot, set a record for the snowiest seven-day period in the city's history.
By David Schwartz PHOENIX (Reuters) - National Football League Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp was arrested at a Phoenix hotel on Monday on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute and assault, authorities said. Sapp, who had been covering the Super Bowl as an analyst for the NFL Network, was booked into Maricopa County jail after an incident involving two escorts in an apparent dispute over money, said Phoenix police spokesman Sergeant Trent Crump. He was released from jail on Monday afternoon after making an initial appearance in Phoenix Municipal Court.