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Updated: 1 hour 58 min ago

Ukraine rebels vow to push offensive if talks fail

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 09:14

Pro-Russian separatists say they will push their latest offensive in eastern Ukraine further.


Mother of NYC boy who vanished in 1979 to testify at murder trial

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 08:03
By Natasja Sheriff NEW YORK (Reuters) - The mother of Etan Patz, a boy whose disappearance from a New York City street in 1979 ignited a national movement to find missing children, will tell jurors at his accused killer's trial about the "nightmare that never ended," a prosecutor said on Friday. In opening statements in the kidnapping and murder trial of Pedro Hernandez, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said the former deli worker who confessed to the crime had upended an average American family's life and sent it spiraling into unthinkable tragedy. "You will hear from Julie Patz... about her quite ordinary life, a regular American tale, interrupted by a nightmare that never ended," Illuzzi-Orbon told jurors seated before Judge Maxwell Wiley in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. During jury selection, Illuzzi-Orbon said the case would not feature "high tech forensic evidence," but would take them back 35 years "to a time when the Brady Bunch was still on TV."  Patz' disappearance prompted President Ronald Reagan to sign into law the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, and Patz was one of the first missing children whose picture appeared on a milk carton.     In 2012, investigators received a tip from Hernandez's brother-in-law, who told police Hernandez allegedly confessed to the crime to a church prayer group in the 1980s.   Hernandez, in a videotaped confession to police, said he lured Patz to the basement of the deli where he worked near the child's home, strangled him and dumped him in an alley.

Qaeda group launches assault on Western-backed Syria rebels

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 07:46

Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria battled Western-backed rebels Friday as the jihadists pressed their bid to seize control of northern areas, a monitoring group and rebels said. The fighting comes nearly three months after Al-Nusra Front expelled another group of Western-backed opposition fighters from Idlib province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadists launched their offensive against the Western-armed Hazem movement on Thursday in Aleppo province. "The jihadists expelled the rebels from Regiment 111, once a regime army base that Hazem had taken over," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.


Is Mitt Romney running for president?

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 07:40

Romney will update supporters today about his plans for 2016.


U.S. government releases draft plan for electronic health data

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 07:23

The Obama administration on Friday proposed a plan to move most doctors, hospitals and their patients to national standards for handling electronic clinical data by the end of 2017. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as part of an effort to propel the $2.9 trillion U.S. healthcare system away from a costly fee-for-service system, released a report draft aimed at establishing an inter operable health information technology system that can be accessed by patients and their healthcare providers. Policy experts say that national health IT standards would lead to transparency in medical data, prices and provider performance, while helping support hospitals and medical practices in pursuing care-delivery models that emphasize care quality and savings over quantity. Earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced the goal of moving 50 percent of fee-for-service Medicare payments to quality-care focused providers by the end of 2018.


Mitt Romney says he will not make 2016 White House bid

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 06:48

The 2012 GOP nominee announced he won't make a third bid for the presidency.


Florida prosecutor drops case against Zimmerman

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 06:46

By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida prosecutor announced on Friday he will not pursue charges against former neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman stemming from a domestic incident earlier this month after the alleged victim recanted. Zimmerman, who was acquitted in 2013 in a fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, has had several brushes with the law since his trial. His latest arrest on Jan. 9 was in connection with a domestic disturbance in central Florida. Police in central Florida arrested him in November 2013 after he allegedly pointed a gun at his girlfriend during an argument.


'Suge' Knight arrested for murder

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 05:11

'Suge' Knight faces murder charges


U.S. proposes effort to analyze DNA from 1 million people

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 02:54

By Toni Clarke and Sharon Begley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers as part of a new initiative to understand human disease and develop medicines targeted to an individual's genetic make-up. At the heart of the initiative, to be announced on Friday by President Barack Obama, is the creation of a pool of people - healthy and ill, men and women, old and young - who would be studied to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. The near-term goal is to create more and better treatments for cancer, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.


Police interview rap mogul Suge Knight after fatal hit-and-run

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 01:46

Rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was being interviewed by authorities early on Friday morning, officials said, hours after he was named as a suspect in a hit-and-run that killed one person near Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that Knight arrived at the office's West Hollywood station accompanied by his attorney and was taking questions from homicide detectives. Around 3 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Thursday, a man fitting Knight's description drove up to a Compton burger shop and began arguing with two people outside, said Lieutenant John Corina, with Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Corina added that Knight, the 49-year-old co-founder of Death Row Records, was involved in an earlier altercation with the same two people.


Islamic State group silent as deadline passes with no swap

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 22:21

Families of a Japanese journalist and Jordanian military pilot remained in limbo.


Rap mogul Suge Knight investigated in fatal hit-and-run

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 22:14

Knight was driving a car that struck two people in Compton, Calif., killing one.


Elderly residents die in blizzard-hit Massachusetts; death toll at least four

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 20:22

(Reuters) - An elderly man and woman found dead outside their homes in separate coastal Massachusetts communities were likely victims of a massive blizzard that hit New England earlier this week, police said on Thursday. Olive Dupuis, 84, was found dead Thursday morning next to her car, near her home in the coastal city of Salem, north of Boston, police lieutenant Matt Desmond said, adding weather was likely a factor with sub-freezing temperatures and snow. The Massachusetts cases, which are still under investigation, bring the death toll from a wind-whipped blizzard that slammed the northeastern United States earlier this week to at least four. The blizzard disrupted life for millions of residents across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York, dumping up to 3 feet (90 cm) of snow in places, though it largely bypassed New York City.


Obama calls for spending surge, buoyed by rising economy

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 18:28

WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring an end to "mindless austerity," President Barack Obama called for a surge in government spending Thursday, and asked Congress to throw out the sweeping budget cuts both parties agreed to four years ago when deficits were spiraling out of control.


Suspected Ebola patient admitted to California hospital

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 17:23
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - A patient suspected of contracting Ebola after traveling in West Africa and exhibiting symptoms of the disease was admitted on Thursday to a special isolation hospital unit in Sacramento and was being tested for infection, officials said. The patient was considered at a relatively low risk of infection. Although recently in an area where Ebola transmission is widespread, the person had no known contact with anyone who has had the disease, said Laura McCasland, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento County Public Health Department. McCasland said she did not know precisely where or when the patient had traveled in West Africa, the epicenter of the worst Ebola epidemic on record, or why the individual was there or for how long.

'Peace between us,' Raul Castro says of U.S. ties

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 17:05

Cuban President Raul Castro gave an endorsement to peace between the United States and his communist country, with the two nations in talks to restore ties after decades of animosity. Asked by a journalist at a summit of Latin American and Caribbean states what he would most like to see after the US economic embargo of Cuba is lifted, Castro barked: "Peace, peace between us, peace between the United States and us. Castro first said he would have to consider the question because the end of the economic embargo may be a long way away. US and Cuban diplomats met last week in Havana in landmark talks aimed at renewing ties that broke off in 1961.


NYC public defenders in video advocate killing police, city finds

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 16:59
By Ellen Wulfhorst NEW YORK (Reuters) - Attorneys at a New York City public defenders' office participated in an online video that advocated the killing of police officers, featuring the lyrics "time to start killing these coppers," a city investigation disclosed on Thursday. The video "Hands Up," which shows singers pointing guns at someone portraying a police officer, was released shortly before the deadly ambush on Dec. 20 of two New York City officers by a gunman angry over police killings of unarmed black men. Two attorneys with the Bronx Defenders, a city-funded legal service organization, appear in the anti-police video, some of which was filmed at the Bronx office, according to the New York City Department of Investigation report. The Bronx Defenders posted a message on its website saying it "abhors the use of violence against the police." "The Bronx Defenders never approved the music video 'Hands Up,' and never saw it before it went online," it said.

Delhi Uber passenger who alleges driver rape sues in U.S

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 13:46

By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A passenger who said she had been raped by an Uber driver in India's capital sued the online car service in U.S. federal court on Thursday, claiming the company failed to maintain basic safety procedures. In the lawsuit, the woman, who resides in Delhi and was not named, called Uber the "modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking." "Buyer beware - we all know how those horror movies end," the suit stated. In a statement, Uber did not directly address the lawsuit but said it is cooperating fully with the authorities to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice. India is Uber's largest market outside the United States by the number of cities covered, and the country's radio taxi market is estimated to be worth $6 billion to $9 billion.


Keystone XL bill passes in Senate, faces Obama veto

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 12:29

The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Thursday to approve the long-pending Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite the White House saying earlier in the day that President Barack Obama would veto the measure. The Republican-led Senate passed the bill that would approve TransCanada Corp's project to carry 800,000 barrels per day of heavy Canadian crude to Nebraska on the way to Gulf Coast refineries and ports. The House has passed its own pipeline bill and will work with the Senate to send the bill to the Obama's desk. After the potential veto, Obama is expected to make his own decision on the pipeline after the State Department finishes a review in coming weeks.


Survivalist pleads not guilty in Pennsylvania trooper murder

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 12:13

By Joe McDonald MILFORD, Pa. (Reuters) - The Pennsylvania survivalist who eluded a 48-day manhunt after a sniper attack that killed one state trooper and wounded another pleaded not guilty on Thursday to murder charges. Eric Frein, 31, appeared at his arraignment through a video conference from Pike County Correctional Facility, where he is being held without bail. He was asked by Judge Greg Chelak in the Pike County Courthouse whether he wanted to plead not guilty to fatally shooting Corporal Bryon Dickson and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass on Sept. 12, 2014 during a late night shift change at the Blooming Grove state police barracks.


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