Europe on Friday granted Greece a crucial extension to its massive debt bailout, ending weeks of tension, but at the cost of huge concessions including a commitment to spell out reforms within two days. The 19 single currency finance ministers reached the hard-won deal to end a standoff pitting Greece against an angry Germany, suspicious that the radical leftist government in Athens was looking to ditch its austerity obligations. "The meeting was intense because it was about building trust between us," said Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem, after the talks ended with a two page statement setting out the tough conditions Athens will have to fulfil. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said the deal would mark a new era for Athens and its relationship with the European Union.
Hundreds of communities across the United States have become accustomed to the sight of mile-long oil trains rumbling by in recent years. Pembroke, Virginia, was not one of them, until now. CSX Corp is temporarily rerouting up to five oil trains through this small riverside town to bypass the site of an explosive oil train derailment that occurred 90 miles north in Mount Carbon, West Virginia, on Monday. In line with a federal protocol established last year following a string of fiery derailments across North America, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on Tuesday informed 16 counties and cities that oil trains could be coming through their towns, local officials and fire departments said, one day after the Mount Carbon derailment.
A psychologist testified in court on Friday that the man charged with murdering U.S. Navy sniper Chris Kyle and another man on a Texas shooting range two years ago has been faking schizophrenia and knew what he did was wrong, media reports said. Eddie Ray Routh, 27, is accused of shooting Kyle, whose best-selling autobiography was turned into the hit movie "American Sniper, and Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield at the range about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Fort Worth. Defense attorneys, who have not disputed that Routh repeatedly shot the two men in February 2013, are seeking to have Routh declared innocent by reason of insanity. On Friday, psychologist Randall Price testified for the prosecution in a rural court in Stephenville, a day after a forensic psychiatrist for the defense told the jury that he found Routh had paranoid schizophrenia and showed signs of psychosis that could not be faked.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday ordered a special election to be held in May to fill the seat vacated by a Staten Island congressman who pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion, hours before a deadline set by a federal judge. The election to replace former Rep. Michael Grimm is scheduled for May 5, according to an order issued by Cuomo's office. New York's 11th Congressional District includes the New York City borough of Staten Island and parts of the borough of Brooklyn. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn ordered Cuomo to set an election date by noon Friday in a lawsuit filed by district residents who said they had been disenfranchised by the vacancy.
Germany and France demanded Friday that a crumbling Ukraine truce be "fully respected" even as pro-Russian rebels celebrated a battlefield victory in a strategic town and exchanged artillery fire elsewhere with government troops. "The ceasefire has been violated several times," French President Francois Hollande said in a joint Paris media conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. French officials said the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France would meet in Paris next Tuesday to discuss the conflict.
By Jonathan Allen NEW YORK (Reuters) - Millions of people awoke to painfully cold weather in the eastern United States on Friday, with temperatures frigid enough in New York City to break a 65-year-old record low for Feb. 20. At his small grocery store in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood, Mohammad Islam, 30, anticipated selling a lot of hot coffee as the temperature outside hovered around 4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 15 degrees Celsius), beating the record low of 7 degrees set in 1950 according to National Weather Service records. "I've never seen cold like this," he said, noting he had moved to New York from Bangladesh in 2003. "I love every kind of weather here, all I got to do is dress warm," Ludlow Chamberlain, a 76-year-old custodian at the concert hall across the street, said before counting his layers.
By Jan Strupczewski and Renee Maltezou BRUSSELS/ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's leftist prime minister said on Friday he was certain euro zone finance ministers would accept Athens' request for an extended loan but Germany demanded "significant improvements" in Greek reform commitments. The start of an emergency meeting of the 19-nation Eurogroup in Brussels was postponed until 1530 GMT (10:30 a.m. EST) to allow more time for preparatory talks among Greek, euro zone and IMF officials. Hours before the talks, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in a statement to Reuters: "I feel certain that the Greek letter for a six-month extension of the loan agreement with the conditionalities that accompany it will be accepted." A report by German magazine Der Spiegel that the European Central Bank was making contingency plans for a possible Greek exit from the currency area if the talks fail, on which the ECB declined comment, highlighted the high stakes.
Aboubacar, usually a worker for a non-governmental organisation, has now taken on another, more ominous role: watching out for suicide bombers. "We watch everyone," he said in Niger's second-largest city of Zinder. His fears reflect the shifting threat of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, which has in recent weeks carried out attacks across the border from its base in northeastern Nigeria as regional forces pursue them. In the southern city of Zinder, the hot, dusty streets have seen a trail of refugees from Niger's Diffa, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) to the east.
Snow blanketed much of Israel, Jordan and Lebanon early on Friday, with many residents urged to stay in their homes because of blocked or icy roads. People in Jerusalem woke up to around 25 centimetres of snow after the second major blizzard of winter swept across the hilltop Holy City. The two main highways into Jerusalem, which climb to around 795 metres (2,600 feet) above sea level, were closed in both directions for several hours but reopened at around midday, police said. "There's heavy snow falling in Jerusalem, about 25 centimetres (10 inches) so far and it will continue to fall throughout the day," Israel Meteorological Service forecaster Rinat Rehamim told public radio.
McDonnell was convicted in September along with her estranged husband, former Governor Robert McDonnell, for accepting $177,000 in sweetheart loans and lavish gifts from entrepreneur Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's main product, an anti-inflammatory. The five-week trial in U.S. District Court laid bare rifts in the couple's marriage and tarnished Virginia's reputation for clean government. In court documents, prosecutors said Maureen McDonnell was unlikely ever again to have influence over an elected official but that an 18-month prison term would serve as a deterrent.