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Fed says economy improving a little

The Federal Reserve decided Wednesday to reduce its monthly bond purchases — one of its key efforts to stimulate the economy — to $45 billion starting in May, down from the prior rate of $55 billion.

The move was widely expected by Wall Street and comes as part of a gradual winding down process for the Fed’s bond-buying program. Stocks were trading modestly higher following the announcement, as they had been most of the day. The Dow is close to a record high.

With no press conference scheduled this afternoon, the Fed’s latest policy statement came and went with little fanfare or surprise, although Wall Street continued to look for clues on how healthy Fed board members believe the economy is.

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White House says botched Oklahoma execution fell short of humane standard

The White House said on Wednesday a botched execution in Oklahoma fell short of a standard that the death penalty be carried out humanely.

White House spokesman Jay Carney, at his daily news briefing, was asked about the death of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett.

Lockett died on Tuesday of a heart attack after a doctor ordered a halt to his execution amid signs the lethal injection he was given was not working properly at the state’s death chamber in McAlester.

Carney said President Barack Obama believes the death penalty does little to deter crime but that some crimes are so heinous that executions are merited.

Lockett was convicted of first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping and robbery for a 1999 crime spree with two co-defendants. Carney said Lockett’s crimes were horrifically heinous.

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‘Superbugs’ that can overpower antibiotics are spreading: WHO

 

(Reuters) – The spread of deadly superbugs that evade even the most powerful antibiotics is no longer a prediction but is happening right now across the world, United Nations officials said on Wednesday.

Antibiotic resistance has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country, the U.N.’s World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a report. It is now a major threat to public health and “the implications will be devastating”.

“We have a big problem now, and all of the trends indicate the problem is going to get bigger, said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director-general for health security.

In its first global report on antibiotic resistance, with data from 114 countries, the WHO said superbugs able to evade event the hardest-hitting antibiotics – a class of drugs called carbapenems – have now been found in all regions of the world.

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Chicago’s air quality gets an F from Lung Association

 

Metropolitan Chicago got another grade of F for the cleanliness of the air we breathe — showing no improvement from last year, a new report shows.

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2014” ranked Chicago as the 14th-most polluted city in the nation for short-term particle pollution. The city also ranked 20th for most ozone-polluted and for year-round particle pollution. All of those are worse rankings than in last year’s report.

Ozone, often called smog, develops from gases that come out of tailpipes, smokestacks and other sources. Particle pollution is a mixture of solid and liquid particles found in the air.

“The air in Chicago is certainly cleaner than when we started the ‘State of the Air’ report 15 years ago,” said Mike Kolleng, Manager of the Healthy Air Campaign in a statement. “However, there is still work to be done to reduce year-round particle pollution.”

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Thai PM, Election Commission agree new vote in July, opposition defiant

(Reuters) – Thailand’s Election Commission and the prime minister agreed on Wednesday to hold a general election in July, but anti-government protesters who disrupted a vote in February said they still wanted to see electoral reforms before a new poll.

The protesters have been trying to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra since November, part of a long-running crisis that broadly pits Bangkok’s middle class and royalist establishment against the mainly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

“The prime minister and the Election Commission agree on a July 20 election,” Puchong Nutrawong, secretary-general of the commission, told reporters after a meeting with Yingluck.

He said the commission would ask the government to issue a royal decree and get the king’s endorsement for the vote. The cabinet, which must also sign off on an election, would probably consider the decree next week, he said.

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Google abused market position in patent tiff with Apple, European Commission rules

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — The European Commission said Monday that Google’s Motorola Mobility abused its market position in Europe by refusing to grant crucial technology licences to rival Apple, then suing Apple for patent infringement when the company used them anyway.

Separately, Samsung settled a case where it had tried to use its patents to block Apple from bringing a phone to market.

But neither company was slapped with a fine.

At a press conference, the Commission’s chief competition authority, Joaquin Almunia, said that’s because it can be difficult to determine when a company has the right to protect its patents — which drive innovation — and when a dominant company is wielding the power a patent gives them to stifle competition and harm consumers.

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What the Tony Awards voters got right and wrong

Nominations for the Tony Awards always make news. Here’s what the nominators got right — and wrong.

WRONG

Denzel Washington got snubbed for “A Raisin in the Sun” and Daniel Radcliffe for “The Cripple of Inishmaan.” They should both have been nominated. At the same time, Tony Shalhoub (“Act One”) and Mark Rylance (“Richard III”) should have bowed out.

“The Bridges of Madison County” should have been nominated for Best Musical.

Woody Allen’s by-the-book script for “Bullets Over Broadway” was nominated, but the books for “Bridges” and “If/Then” showed more ambition and inspiration.

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FedEx facility shooting in Georgia injures at least 6, suspect dead: cops

 

ATLANTA — Six people were hurt in a shooting at a FedEx Corp facility at a suburban Atlanta airport early on Tuesday, and the suspected shooter died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

An active shooter was reported at the facility in Kennesaw, Georgia, about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta, just before 6 a.m. EST, said Cobb County Police spokesman Mike Bowman.

Officers continued to search the area mid-morning to ensure there were no additional safety threats, Bowman said.

Six patients in varying conditions were taken to WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta.

“Some were able to walk off the ambulance and others are in the operating room,” said hospital spokesman Tyler Pearson.

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EU Escalates Response to Russia’s Actions in Ukraine

BRUSSELS—The European Union is levying sanctions against Valery Gerasimov, chief of staff of Russia’s Armed Forces, as part of an escalating response to the country’s threats and incursions against Ukraine.

Russian armed forces Chief-of-Staff Valery Gerasimov delivers a speech during a conference in Moscow, May, 2013. Reuters

Mr. Gerasimov is one of 15 individuals the EU announced Tuesday it was adding to a list of Russian leaders and pro-Russian Ukrainian figures facing punitive measures for helping violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity. This brings to 48 the number of individuals facing EU travel bans and asset freezes. (Read the latest updates on the crisis in Ukraine.)

Mr. Gerasimov, also Russia’s first deputy minister of defense, is the most prominent of the new names, and a figure who has significant dealings with the West. Military leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have spoken with him regularly.

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