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Updated: 1 hour 36 min ago

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.

'Parks and Recreation' producer Harris Wittels found dead

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 21:25

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harris Wittels, who worked as a writer and executive producer on the NBC comedy "Parks and Recreation," was found dead Thursday of a possible drug overdose at his Los Angeles home, police said. He was 30.

For Obamacare challengers, a Supreme Court case built for speed

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 21:05

By Joan Biskupic WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court case that could shatter President Barack Obama’s healthcare law this year was launched as a backup plan by a libertarian group and a powerful Washington lawyer frustrated by the slow progress of their original lawsuit. Most states had declined to set up exchanges and the federal government stepped in to facilitate insurance-cost comparisons and enrollment.

Destruction as massive cyclones hit Australia

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 18:42

Two powerful cyclones roared ashore in Australia Friday leaving a trail of destruction with buildings severely damaged, trees uprooted and power lines downed, cutting electricity to thousands of people. Tropical Cyclone Marcia, a category five tempest, slammed into the Queensland coast just after 2200 GMT Thursday with its landfall coming just hours after a second big storm -- Cyclone Lam -- hit further north. The category four Lam caused extensive damage to remote Aboriginal communities near Elcho Island, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) east of Northern Territory capital Darwin, including Milingimbi, Ramingining, and Gapuwiyak.

California health officials say may not find source of measles outbreak

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 17:08

By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A senior California health official said on Thursday the source of a measles outbreak that has sickened 119 people in the state may never be identified, despite a finding that the same strain of virus had led to a wave of illness in the Philippines. More than 150 people across the United States have been diagnosed with measles, many linked to an outbreak that authorities believe began when an infected international traveler visited Disneyland in late December. California Department of Public Health researchers who genotyped specimens from 30 of the state's measles patients found all were of the same strain that caused an outbreak in the Philippines. "It is unlikely that the source of this outbreak will be identified, and although identifying the source would be of interest, our immediate goal is to stop the outbreak and it is not necessary to know the source to do this," Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the California Department of Health, told Reuters.

Los Angeles hospital warns 179 patients possibly exposed to 'superbug'

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 17:02

By Steve Gorman and Deena Beasley LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A large Los Angeles teaching hospital has told scores of patients they may have been exposed to a drug-resistant bacterial "superbug" during endoscopy procedures that infected seven patients and contributed to two deaths. More than 170 patients who may have been infected by the carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, are being offered home testing kits that would be analyzed by the University of California at Los Angeles hospital system, UCLA officials said. The possible exposures occurred at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center between Oct. 3 and Jan. 28 during procedures in which a specialized endoscope is inserted down the throat to diagnose and treat pancreatic and bile duct diseases. The UCLA hospital system said an internal investigation determined in late January that CRE may have been transmitted to patients by two of seven scopes being used by the center, all made by Olympus Medical Systems Group.

Suspect arrested in road-rage shooting death of Las Vegas mom

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 16:31

By Alexia Shurmur LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder on Thursday in the road-rage killing of a Las Vegas mother of four that stunned the community, and police said at least one more suspect remained at large. The arrest of Eric Nowsch after a brief stand-off marked the first break in the case since 44-year-old Tammy Meyers was shot outside her home on Feb. 12, just minutes after an angry confrontation with another driver. Meyers died on Saturday after being taken off life-support at a Las Vegas hospital. "A suspect involved in the killing of Ms. Meyers is in custody and off the streets of Las Vegas," said Captain Chris Tomaino of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department at an afternoon press conference.

Obama's new communications director a target of Russian media

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 15:59

A new "Daily Show"-style TV show mocking Jen Psaki is just the latest manifestation of the Russian media’s obsession with the new White House communications director.

Man charged with killing 'American Sniper' was schizophrenic: psychiatrist

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 15:57

A psychiatrist told a Texas court on Thursday that the man accused of murdering U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle had paranoid schizophrenia and showed signs of psychosis that could not be faked, media reports said. Eddie Ray Routh, 27, has been charged with killing Kyle, whose autobiography was turned into the hit movie "American Sniper," and Kyle's friend Chad Littlefield at a gun range about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Fort Worth in February 2013. Dr. Mitchell Dunn, a forensic psychiatrist who spent more than six hours interviewing Routh and was called by the defense, testified Routh believed that Kyle and Littlefield were going to kill him, the Dallas Morning News reported from the court in Stephenville.

Union rejects contract offer from oil cos in U.S. refinery strike

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 15:46

Union negotiators on Thursday rejected the latest contract offer from oil companies and said the largest U.S. refinery strike since 1980 may spread to more plants beyond the 11 where walkouts are underway. The United Steelworkers union (USW) said in a message to members and news media including Reuters that the latest proposal from lead oil company negotiator Royal Dutch Shell Plc failed to improve safety at refineries and chemical plants in an "enforceable way." The union also told workers not on strike to be prepared to walk out in the coming days. "New offer fails to improve safety in enforceable way," the USW said in the text message. Out of respect for the bargaining process, we are unable to comment further on today’s activities." Earlier this week, the union's lead negotiator, International Vice President Gary Beevers, told Reuters that safe staffing levels at refineries and chemical plants were a sticking point in the talks.

Defense rests in 'American Sniper' murder trial

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 15:31

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) — Attorneys mounting an insanity defense rested their case Thursday in the trial of the ex-Marine charged with gunning down "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and another man.

California mass shooter had penchant for Nazis, investigators say

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 15:22

By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A 22-year-old California man who killed six college students last year before taking his own life in a rampage near Santa Barbara had an interest in Nazis and conducted a Web search for torture devices, a report released on Thursday showed. Elliot Rodger stabbed three men to death in his apartment in the community of Isla Vista last May before fatally shooting three more people and wounding 14 others near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Rodger had a history of mental health issues and in an Internet manifesto before the rampage, expressed frustration about his lack of success with women. The report by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office detailing the outcome of its probe into the killings said investigators still could not determine what motivated Rodger to commit the slayings.

Police make arrest in road-rage killing of Vegas mom

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:15

A suspect was arrested Thursday in the killing of a Las Vegas mother of four who was gunned down a week ago in a road-rage shootout after giving her daughter a driving lesson, police said.

Hazmat team responds to Los Angeles courthouse over suspicious letters

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 11:17
A hazardous materials team was sent to a Los Angeles courthouse on Thursday over suspicious letters mailed to court personnel, but no evacuation was ordered and business continued without interruption, officials said. The hazardous materials team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident at the downtown courthouse, the department said in a statement. No evacuation was ordered at the courthouse and business continued without interruption, according to a Los Angeles Superior Court spokeswoman. Suspicious envelopes with a non-toxic white substance have also been sent recently to locations in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles and the city of Burbank, and the FBI is leading several agencies in investigating the incident, said Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Officer Jeffrey Dohlen.