News Alerts

Russia eases military pressure but restates Ukraine demands

Russia has recalled some forces from near Ukraine and its cabinet has paid a controversial visit to annexed Crimea as Germany’s finance minister compared Moscow’s actions to those of Adolf Hitler.

Chancellor Angela Merkel played down Wolfgang Schäuble’s comments yesterday and discussed Ukraine with Russian president Vladimir Putin, who told her about the troop movements while reiterating his concerns about Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova.

“The Russian president informed the chancellor about the partial withdrawal of Russian troops [and] the two discussed further possible steps to stabilise the situation in Ukraine and Transdniestria,” said Dr Merkel’s spokesman.

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NHTSA Final Rule Amends FMVSS 111 to Require Rearview Backup Cameras

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a final rule to amend FMVSS 111 to require all vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds GVWR, including some Type A-1 school buses in that weight category, to be equipped with rear-view cameras by May 1, 2018.

NHTSA added that existing technology that meets the new requirements provides “the most effective and most cost-effective” solution to better protecting children and people with disabilities.

The new rule also changes the title of FMVSS 111 from “Rearview mirrors” to “Rear Visibility” and expands the required field-of-view to include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. While many later-model passenger vehicles already offer the backup cameras as options, the systems would be required installs at vehicle manufacturers within three years, when they must show data to NHTSA that they are ready to meet the 2018 compliance deadline.

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Albuquerque protest over police shootings turns to ‘mayhem’

An Albuquerque protest over a spate of fatal police shootings in the New Mexican city turned from peaceful to violent on Sunday evening, as police officers squared off with demonstrators decrying police brutality.

The website for the Albuquerque Police Department(APD) was also briefly hobbled in a cyberattack on Sunday afternoon, news outlets reported.

The protests and hacking incident followed outrage over APD’s shooting of a homeless man in the Sandia Mountains with what protesters say was dubious cause. The incident – now the subject of an FBI criminal probe – has since put a spotlight on the high number of APD shootings over the past few years, raising questions about whether officers are over-using their right to open fire when threatened.

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Obamacare numbers coming in huge: Here’s a guide to GOP excuse-making

Against all odds and expectations, enrollments in health plans qualified under the Affordable Care Act are surging Monday toward — and maybe beyond — the 7-million figure projected by the Congressional Budget Office before Oct. 1, when the open-enrollment period began. The deadline for starting enrollment applications for 2014 plans is midnight Monday.

The surge is creating a big problem for the “train wreck” narrative of Republican opponents of the ACA, who have been holding out hope for Obamacare’s utter failure. So the excuse-making has begun.

Before we examine those excuses: You will recall that the budget office reduced its projection of enrollments on individual insurance exchanges to 6 million earlier this year to account for the botched launch of, the federal enrollment website. Enrollments blew past that mark days ago. If exchange enrollments meet or exceed the original projection of 7 million despite the loss of some six weeks in website functionality in October and November, that would be a testament to the public’s latent desire for effective healthcare coverage.

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WASHINGTON — The federal website where consumers can sign up for medical coverage under President Obama’s health care law unexpectedly stopped taking applications for several hours early Monday, the last day of open enrollment, because of a software problem, the administration said.

The enrollment system on the site,, was taken offline for scheduled maintenance between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., but then remained down for several more hours because of a software bug discovered by technology personnel during maintenance, said Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Consumers who started an application and left their email addresses “will be invited back when the system is available,” Mr. Albright said in a written statement.

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South Korea returns fire after North shells border sea area

South Korea has returned artillery fire after North Korea lobbed shells over the two countries’ western sea border, pushing tensions to their highest in months.

South Korea’s shells landed in North Korean waters, an official at South Korea’s Defence Ministry said, asking not to be named, citing official policy.

North Korea earlier today notified South Korea of planned live-fire drills, the South’s Defence Ministry spokesman Wi Yong-seob said in a briefing.

Residents on the South Korean islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong in the border area were moved to shelters, Yonhap News reported, without citing any source.

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Warlords to decide outcome of Afghan election

As Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a veteran of the jihad against Soviet occupation and a hardline Islamist once close to al-Qaeda, steps to the microphone through a phalanx of armed guard the crowd of 5000 takes up a familiar cry.

One man raises his fist and shouts: “Death to America, death to England.”

Hundreds of hands are thrust into the air as the response echoes around the rally in Parwan province, all captured on video. “Death, death, death,” they shout.

Sayyaf is the man who invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan and was mentor to the mastermind who planned 9/11.

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Kentucky Defeats Michigan to Advance to the Final Four

INDIANAPOLIS — Watching the youth-laden lineups of Michigan and Kentucky is not for the faint of heart, as evidenced during Sunday’s tension-laden, and nonstop, swings of momentum in the Midwest Regional final.

It fittingly came down to Kentucky’s last possession, with game tied, 72-72 at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the Wildcats’ freshman guard Aaron Harrison facing off, one-on-one on the perimeter, against the Michigan sophomore Caris LeVert.

Harrison, with the partisan Kentucky crowd on its feet and screaming, calmly stared LeVert down, dribbled a bit, then nailed a 3-pointer over LeVert’s tight defense in the waning moments.

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This fault could bring an earthquake worse than ‘The Big One’

The Puente Hills fault, which scientists believe could be responsible for Friday’s 5.1 earthquake in La Habra, is considered very dangerous.

Here are some basic questions about the fault.

Q: What would be the difference in shaking between a 5.1 quake and a truly huge quake?

Friday night’s earthquake was caused by the underground fault slipping for half a second, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones, prompting about 10 seconds of shaking at the surface.

But a 7.5 quake on the Puente Hills fault could cause the fault to slip for 20 seconds — and the shaking could last far longer.

Scientists say that quake would be more destruction than the so-called Big One on the San Andreas fault.

Q: Why are scientists so worried about the fault?

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Syria crisis: Freed Spanish journalists back in Spain

Two Spanish journalists taken hostage in Syria have returned to Madrid after six months in captivity.

El Mundo correspondent Javier Espinosa and freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova were earlier freed and handed over to the Turkish military.

The pair arrived at Torrejon de Ardoz airbase, where they were welcomed by overjoyed friends and family.

Scores of journalists are believed to have been kidnapped or killed by rebel fighters in Syria.