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Pennsylvania college aims to end insurance coverage of abortions in rape cases

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 13:59
By David DeKok HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - University of Scranton employee insurance plans will no longer cover abortions in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening pregnancies under a plan that the Jesuit school says is consistent with Catholic doctrine. The union negotiated away coverage for elective abortions nine years ago in return for adoption coverage, but its current contract pays for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the live of the mother. In a letter to faculty released by the university on Friday, its president, Rev. Kevin Quinn, said that even limited abortion coverage is "inconsistent with the moral teachings of the church." The move comes as Pope Francis, the first Catholic pontiff who is a member of the Jesuit order, prepares to visit Pennsylvania in September. Michael Friedman, an English professor who serves as union president, insisted that Quinn could not impose the change unilaterally.

Greece wins eurozone bailout deal with strict conditions

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 12:42

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.

Authorities: Explosion near NAACP office targeted accountant

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 12:38

DENVER (AP) — A judge has ordered the man accused of setting off a small explosion last month near a Colorado NAACP officeheld without bond pending a hearing next week.

Texas attorney general aims to void marriage license for same-sex couple

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 12:02
By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Texas attorney general asked the state's Supreme Court on Friday to revoke a marriage license issued a day earlier to two women, arguing the move violated a decade-old state ban against gay marriage and could cause legal chaos. Travis County, where the capital Austin is located, issued a marriage license to Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, who have been together for about 30 years and have two daughters.

Amid controversy, oil trains quietly rerouted through Virginia towns

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:49

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.

Ex-Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell sentenced

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:56

McDonnell receives her punishment for a role in a bribery scheme that destroyed her husband's career.

Rand Paul: Presidential announcement likely in March, April

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:15

The senator from Kentucky dropped a big hint about his 2016 ambitions.

Accused in U.S. sniper's murder faked schizophrenia: psychologist

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 08:29

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.

N.Y. Governor Cuomo sets date for special congressional election

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 08:12

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.

Rebels pledge prisoner exchange as Ukraine ceasefire teeters

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 07:11

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.

Parents of Michigan boy found in basement charged with torture

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 06:26
(Reuters) - The parents of a 12-year-old Detroit boy reported missing for 11 days before he was found last June by police emaciated in his family's basement have been charged with torture and child abuse, prosecutors said on Friday. Charles Bothuell IV, 46, and his wife, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, 37, could face up to life in prison if convicted of torture and four years in prison if convicted of second-degree child abuse, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement. The boy's father had reported him missing on June 14, triggering a widespread police search that came up empty until a Michigan State Police sergeant and an FBI agent found him alive and hungry barricaded behind boxes in the basement of his house. The child was very thin and had marks on his upper body when he was found, prosecutors said.

New Yorkers grimace through East Coast's bitter cold snap

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 06:24

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.

Greek PM 'certain' euro zone will accept loan deal

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 06:16

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.

Lawyer: Teen infected by 'superbug' struggling to survive

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 05:19

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An 18-year-old student is struggling to survive after he was infected by a "superbug" outbreak tied to contaminated medical instruments at a Los Angeles hospital, his attorney said.

Refugees in Niger live under shadow of Boko Haram

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 02:50

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.

Warnings after blizzards sweep across Middle East

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 02:12

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.

Virginia ex-first lady to be sentenced for corruption

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 02:06

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.

Police: Victim knew suspect in Vegas road-rage killing

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 23:05

Police arrest a 19-year-old who lived a block away from the victim and her family.

'American Sniper' murder trial moving toward jury

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 22:46

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) — Prosecution rebuttal witnesses are set to take the stand as the trial in Texas of an ex-Marine charged with killing "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and another man moves closer to jury deliberations.

Food companies aim to reinvent diet foods to stay relevant

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 22:04
By Anjali Athavaley NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumers are shifting away from weight-management foods, forcing companies ranging from Kellogg Co to Nestle SA to change ingredients and focus their marketing on different health benefits as sales slip. Food companies are grappling with how to market brands such as Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice and Special K, and come out with new products tailored to changing tastes. Nestle will shift its Lean Cuisine frozen dinners from a diet brand to one built around "healthy eating and healthy lifestyles," said Jeff Hamilton, president of the prepared food division, in an interview on Thursday. The company, whose 2014 sales fell below its long-term goals, said that its performance in North America was hurt by its frozen foods business.