International monitors said Friday the conflict in Ukraine was at a "crossroads" as further losses among government forces rattled a two-week-old truce just as it seemed to be gaining traction. The envoy to Ukraine for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the peace deal, told the UN Security Council that while there were encouraging signs, the country still risked all-out war. Russia formally annexed the territory in March 2014, triggering an international furore. The uprising in Ukraine's east, which has claimed at least 5,800 lives, began the following month.
By David Lawder and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress on Friday appeared to be headed toward approving a three-week-long stopgap funding bill for the domestic security agency that postpones the threat of a partial shutdown, but moves lawmakers no closer to a permanent solution. With only hours remaining before Department of Homeland Security funding expires at midnight, the House of Representatives was pursuing a short-term funding extension. It would give Republicans more time to agree on a way to keep the agency open over the long term, while still fighting Democratic President Barack Obama over his immigration order lifting the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented residents. The measure would then go to the Senate for expected approval on Friday afternoon.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas used a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday to rail against the party establishment, calling himself a “disruptive app” like Uber that would upend the political system. Delighting the assembled conservative shock troops, Cruz castigated the Republican leadership for selling out their principles by separating a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security from a measure that would roll back President Obama’s executive action on immigration
Eight people were found dead overnight in an apparent mass murder and suicide in rural southern Missouri, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said on Friday. The events unfolded around 10 p.m. Thursday night when the Texas County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call about a disturbance involving a weapon at a residence in Tyrone. After further investigation, authorities said they found five other victims and one person who was wounded in three other homes in Tyrone. Houston School District Superintendent Scott Dill said the killings shocked the small community.
Shopping mall operators need to increase security through more staff, cameras and other techniques in light of threats made against the Mall of America in Minnesota and other shopping centers by Somali-based Islamist militants this week, outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said. "I certainly think we have to step up our sensitivities to what goes on in these commercial enterprises," Holder said in an interview with CNN that aired on Friday. "It would be the responsible thing for operators of these malls to increase their capabilities when it comes to keeping people safe who are just going about their everyday lives." In a separate interview with Politico, also published on Friday, Holder said he would push in his final weeks in office to lower the standard of proof for civil-rights offenses that would make it easier for the federal government to bring charges in future cases. The Justice Department recently closed its investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, without filing charges against gunman George Zimmerman because of "insufficient evidence." "I think that if we adjust those standards, we can make the federal government a better backstop - make us more a part of the process in an appropriate way to reassure the American people that decisions are made by people who are really disinterested," he told Politico.
By Bruce Wallace WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A significant majority of Americans say combating climate change is a moral issue that obligates them – and world leaders - to reduce carbon emissions, a Reuters/IPSOS poll has found. The poll of 2,827 Americans was conducted in February to measure the impact of moral language, including interventions by Pope Francis, on the climate change debate. In recent months, the pope has warned about the moral consequences of failing to act on rising global temperatures, which are expected to disproportionately affect the lives of the world’s poor. The result of the poll suggests that appeals based on ethics could be key to shifting the debate over climate change in the United States, where those demanding action to reduce carbon emissions and those who resist it are often at loggerheads. Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) said that world leaders are morally obligated to take action to reduce CO2 emissions.
The United Steelworkers union (USW) and representatives for several U.S. refineries discussed on Thursday a possible resumption of face-to-face negotiations to settle a 26-day strike, two people familiar with the discussions told Reuters. No date had been set as of Thursday for resuming direct meetings with Shell Oil Co, which is representing the refiners, the sources said. "The USW continues to be ready and willing to resume negotiations with Shell at any time," said union spokeswoman Lynne Hancock. "Other than that, I don't have any information on when talks will resume." Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc , confirmed making contact with the union.
By David Lawder and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the House of Representatives were planning to pursue on Friday a temporary funding bill to keep the lights on at the U.S. domestic security agency for three weeks, postponing the threat of a partial agency shutdown. As the clock ticked toward a midnight Friday deadline for funding the Department of Homeland Security, lawmakers said a stop-gap extension would buy time to try to work out differences between the Republican-controlled House and the Senate. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who has insisted on a full Homeland Security funding bill free of immigration reform restrictions that have caused weeks of delay, said on Thursday he would refuse to allow such negotiations with the House.