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Coal mine blast kills at least 24 in war-torn east Ukraine

A Ukrainian coal miner waits for a bus after exiting the underground of the Zasyadko mine, where he helped search for bodies of colleagues and clear up debris following an explosion, in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. The explosion ripped through a coal mine before dawn Wednesday in war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing at least one miner and trapping more than 30 others underground, rebel and government officials said. One injured miner reported seeing five bodies. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — A rebel-held city scarred by months of conflict in eastern Ukraine suffered more tragedy Wednesday when a methane gas explosion in a coal mine killed at least 24 workers and left nine missing.


NASA spacecraft nears encounter with dwarf planet Ceres

This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on February 19, 2015 from a distance of nearly 29,000 milesA NASA spacecraft called Dawn is about to become the first mission to orbit a dwarf planet when it slips into orbit Friday around Ceres, the most massive body in the asteroid belt. The mission aims to shed light on the origins of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago, from its "rough and tumble environment of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter," said mission director Marc Rayman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Already scientists are intrigued by the appearance of two bright spots on Ceres. The dwarf planet, which has an average diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers), makes a full rotation every nine hours, and NASA is hoping for a wealth of data once the spacecraft's orbit begins.


Flu winds down as FDA aims for better vaccine next winterWASHINGTON (AP) — The miserable flu season is winding down, but it's lasted longer than usual and federal health officials warn there's still a lot of illness spreading.Obama signs Homeland Security funding bill into law

President Barack Obama talks before signing H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2015, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. The president signed a law funding the Homeland Security Department through the end of the budget year. The president signed the bill Wednesday afternoon in the Oval Office with a small group of photographers present. The White House wouldn't permit reporters to attend. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed a law funding the Homeland Security Department through the end of the budget year.


US oil prices shrug off jump in crude stocks

US oil prices rally despite a larger-than expected jump in the country's crude stockpiles last week, which hit a new record highUS oil prices rallied Wednesday despite a larger-than expected jump in the country's crude stockpiles last week, which hit a new record high. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in April climbed $1.01 to $51.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The US Department of Energy (DoE) said commercial crude inventories jumped by 10.3 million barrels in the week February 27.


Defense admits Tsarnaev carried out Boston Marathon bombing

It this courtroom sketch, U.S. Attorney William Weinreb, left, is depicted delivering opening statements in front of U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr., right rear, on the first day of the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Boston. Tsarnaev, depicted seated second from right between defense attorneys Judy Clarke, third from right, and Miriam Conrad, right, is charged with conspiring with his brother to place two bombs near the marathon finish line in April 2013, killing three and injuring 260 people. (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins)BOSTON (AP) — The question, for all practical purposes, is no longer whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev took part in the Boston Marathon bombing. It's whether he deserves to die for it.


House passes Amtrak bill that could boost Northeast service

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2014 file photo, an Amtrak logo is seen on a train at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. The House has passed a bill that could boost Amtrak service in the popular Northeast Corridor while giving states more authority over the routes they help subsidize. The bill was approved Wednesday by a vote of 316 to 101. It authorizes $7.2 billion over the next four years, keeping Amtrak subsidies nearly the same as current spending levels. Amtrak supporters had urged an increase in funds to address a backlog of infrastructure projects. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — In a rare burst of bipartisanship, the House moved Wednesday to boost Amtrak's popular service between Boston and Washington while giving states a greater say in the local routes they help subsidize.


GOP education chairman anticipates vote on education billWASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican chairman of the House education committee said Wednesday he was blindsided by conservative opposition to his rewrite of the No Child Left Behind education law and will take the next week to try to clear up misconceptions.U.S. oil rises, Brent pares losses on Iran news

An oil well is seen near DenverBy Barani Krishnan NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. oil futures rose on Wednesday and benchmark Brent pared losses as OPEC member Iran stressed that it opposed a timeline for a freeze on nuclear activities, news that helped crude rebound from an early slide tied to swelling U.S. stockpiles. Comments from Saudi Arabia's oil minister that prices ought to stabilize from the selloff of recent months also helped put a floor under prices, dealers said. Some drew encouragement from the Federal Reserve's Beige Book report anticipating cuts in capital expenditure for oil and gas producers in certain U.S. districts. Lower oil exploration budgets could mean less supply in the future.


Rubio-Lee tax plan rewards investors, parents, businesses

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., right, accompanied by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, outline their ideas for a new tax plan during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 4, 2015. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — With an eye toward a possible run for the White House, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio signed onto an extensive plan Wednesday to cut taxes for investors, parents and businesses in an effort to spur economic growth and create jobs.


US clears officer in Ferguson case, criticizes police force

In this Nov. 25, 2014 file photo, police officers watch protesters as smoke fills the streets in Ferguson, Mo. after a grand jury's decision in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. A Justice Department investigation has found patterns of racial bias in the Ferguson police department and at the municipal jail and court. The full report, to be publicly released on March 4, says the investigation found Ferguson officers disproportionately used excessive force against blacks and too often charged them with petty offenses. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department cleared a white former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old on Wednesday, but also issued a scathing report calling for sweeping changes in city law enforcement practices it called discriminatory and unconstitutional.


Venture capitalist says he tried to prevent firing of womanSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A prominent senior partner at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm testified Wednesday that he was a loyal supporter of a woman who is now suing the company for sex discrimination.A defiant Alabama regains ground against gay marriage

Ben Cooper, chairman of Equality Alabama pauses after speaking to the media about the decision to halt same sex marriages, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala. "It's important to understand that this is not nearly the end of this," said Cooper. Cooper called the decision an "absolute insult" to gay couples in Alabama. "Not to mention a complete waste of taxpayers' money," he said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's stand against same-sex marriage regained ground Wednesday after the state's highest court ruled that its ban remains legal, despite federal court pressure to begin issuing licenses to gays and lesbians.


Latest on Boston bombing trial: Victim had 17 surgeries

Federal police place a barricade on the sidewalk outside federal court, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, in Boston, on the first day of the federal death penalty trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev is charged with conspiring with his brother to place two bombs near the marathon finish line in April 2013, killing three and injuring 260 people. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)3:55 P.M.


Guards ferrying gold bars get robbed on N. Carolina roadside

This image released Wednesday, March 4, 2015, by the Wilson County, N.C. Sheriff's Office, shows a composite sketch by investigators of one of the suspects in a heist of millions of dollars in gold bars from a truck on a North Carolina interstate highway on Sunday, March 1. Authorities have said that three armed robbers drove up while the truck was having mechanical problems and stole 275 pounds of gold bars worth $4.8 million. (AP Photo/Wilson County Sheriff's Office)WILSON, N.C. (AP) — The crew of a truck carrying a load of gold bars had just pulled off the interstate in North Carolina when a seemingly ordinary episode of carsickness turned into a multimillion dollar heist.


Iran's foreign minister says nuclear deal could be close, details remainIran's foreign minister said in a U.S. television interview on Wednesday that he believed "we are very close," to a nuclear arms deal with Western powers, but cautioned there were details that needed to be worked out. Mohammad Javad Zarif told NBC News that Iran was prepared to work "round the clock" to reach an agreement.Private email questions emerge as Clinton nears 2016 bid

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2013 file photo, then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Congressional aides say the special House committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, will issue subpoenas for Clinton's personal emails. The aides say that possible as early as Wednesday, the committee will seek the additional material from the potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are signaling that questions about Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private email account while she was secretary of state will follow her into her widely anticipated presidential campaign.


Senate fails to override Obama's veto of pipeline billWASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Wednesday failed to override President Barack Obama's veto of a bill to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, the first of many confrontations between the Republican-controlled Congress and the White House this year over energy policy.Divided US Supreme Court again weighs fate of 'Obamacare'

Protestors hold placards challenging "Obamacare" outside of the US Supreme Court on March 4, 2015, in Washington, DCA sharply divided US Supreme Court weighed the future of "Obamacare" for a second time in three years Wednesday after a new challenge to the contentious healthcare reform. The law, President Barack Obama's crowning domestic achievement, seeks to make health insurance available to a broad cross-section of Americans, for whom health care is often too expensive or otherwise inaccessible. In June 2012, the first time the Supreme Court considered a challenge to Obamacare, its conservative Chief Justice John Roberts helped save the measure by voting alongside the four more progressive justices.


McDonald's chicken gets new standard: No human antibiotics

An order of McDonald's Chicken McNuggets is displayed for a photo in Olmsted Falls, Ohio Wednesday, March 4, 2015. McDonald's says it plans to start using chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine and milk from cows that are not treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST.. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)NEW YORK (AP) — McDonald's says it plans to require chicken suppliers to stop using antibiotics important to human medicine within two years.


U.S. probe finds systematic, racially biased policing in Ferguson

St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office undated evidence photo shows Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren WilsonA U.S. probe found systemic racial bias and unconstitutional policing that targeted blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, but cleared a white officer there in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in August, the Justice Department said on Wednesday. Police also targeted blacks for arrests, many on dubious grounds, and spread racist jokes through emails, said the report that was compiled after Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed. The killing touched off a national debate on race, led to months of street protests and amplified long-standing complaints in Ferguson and around the country of police harassment and mistreatment of minorities. "This emphasis on revenue has compromised the institutional character of Ferguson’s police department, contributing to a pattern of unconstitutional policing," the Justice Department said.


Holder: Ferguson must act immediately on racial bias in policingU.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called on leaders of Ferguson, Missouri, to take "immediate, wholesale and structural corrective action" on the problems with the city's police that the Justice Department unearthed while investigating the shooting of an unarmed man this summer. Holder, who will soon hand over the position of the country's top cop to Loretta Lynch, said the department would continue to work on reducing and eliminating racial bias within Ferguson's police force and elsewhere. "Let me be clear: the United States Department of Justice reserves all its rights and abilities to force compliance and implement basic change," Holder said in a speech about the department's findings of systemic racial bias and unconstitutional policing in the Missouri town.UN: World eating too much sugar; cut to 5-10 percent of diet

FILE - In this Thursday, June 26, 2014 file photo, a customer douses her french fries with ketchup at the concession stand before the start of the movies at the Saco Drive-In in Saco, Maine. New guidelines released by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 say the world is eating too much sugar and people should slash their sugar intake to just 5 to 10 percent of their overall calories. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File )LONDON (AP) — New guidelines from the World Health Organization are enough to kill anyone's sugar high. The U.N. health agency says the world is eating too much sugar and people should slash their intake to just six to 12 teaspoons per day — an amount that could be exceeded with a single can of soda.


NYC subway sign campaign takes stand against rudeness

A sign hangs in the West 4th Street subway station reads "Please Do Not Urinate In This Area - Active Work Area," Tuesday, March 3, 2015 in New York. The sign was posted by workers who are doing track work. “That station is an area that is notorious for public urination,” said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the agency that operates the system. Greenwich Village night-life patrons, homeless people and others all seem drawn to relieve themselves there, he added. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's case for some of the world's most boorish behavior is made every day in its subways: There's the woman casually clipping her fingernails, the man slurping an especially pungent dish under a fellow passenger's nose, and if nature calls, there are the riders who coat platforms with their urine.


Vikings agree to trade Cassel to Bills for draft pick

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2014, file photo, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel throws during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Minneapolis. The Vikings and the Buffalo Bills have agreed on a trade that will send quarterback Matt Cassel to the Bills next week and fetch the Vikings extra draft picks. Both teams announced the deal on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, which will send two undisclosed draft choices to the Vikings and one undisclosed draft pick with Cassel to the Bills, six days before NFL transactions can begin with the start of the new league year. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File)MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills have agreed on a trade that will send quarterback Matt Cassel to the Bills next week and fetch the Vikings extra draft picks.


France, Cameroon wouldn't take foreigner later shot by LAPD

This February 2000 photo provided by Ventura County Sheriff's Office shows Charley Saturmin Robinet after his arrest for robbery. Robinet was killed Sunday, March 1, 2015, after a confrontation with police. Authorities say he tried to grab a probationary officer's gun and three officers fatally shot him. The three officers who fired their weapons in a videotaped struggle that left a homeless man dead were veterans of the Skid Row beat who had special training to deal with mentally ill and other people in the downtrodden area, police leaders said. (AP Photo/Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)LOS ANGELES (AP) — A homeless foreigner shot to death by police on Los Angeles' Skid Row was in the country illegally after serving time for a bank robbery but couldn't be deported because no country would take him, U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday.


Feds: Evidence backs Ferguson officer's account in shooting

FILE - This 2014 file photo provided by the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's office is Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson during his medical examination after he fatally shot Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo.  (AP Photo/St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, File)A federal investigation that cleared a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer for killing Michael Brown concluded that the physical evidence and credible witnesses all bolster the officer's account that he feared for his life when he fatally shot the black 18-year-old.


Clinton email policy violated Obama administration guidance

White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, where he answered questions including on Iran, and about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of email. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)WASHINGTON (AP) — Even if Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state was not illegal, it violated Obama administration guidance and undermined his pledge of historic transparency.


Pakistani man guilty in al-Qaida plot to bomb NYC subway

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2015, courtroom file sketch, Abid Naseer, left, accused of being an al-Qaida operative, questions Najibulla Zazi, center right, a cooperating government witness, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Zainab Ahmad, far right, observes Naseer, and Judge Raymond Dearie listens from the bench in federal court in the Brooklyn borough of New York, where Naseer is acting as as his own attorney. During closing arguments Monday, Feb. 23, Nasser denied being part of a terror conspiracy to attack targets in America and Europe. In her closing argument, Ahmed told jurors that the arrests of Naseer and other members of a terror cell in Manchester, England in 2009 averted mass murder there. The government alleges Naseer had received bomb-making instruction in Pakistan in 2008. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams, File)NEW YORK (AP) — A Pakistani man was found guilty Wednesday in a failed al-Qaida bomb plot after a New York trial that featured spies in disguise, evidence from the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound and the defendant's questioning of an admitted co-conspirator.


David Geffen donates $100 million to Lincoln Center

EDS PLEASE ELIMINATE NYET303 FROM YOUR SYSTEMS AS THE IMAGE DOES NOT SHOW DAVID GEFFEN. SEE REPLACEMENT PHOTO NYET310 - FILE - This Nov. 5, 2012 file image released by Starpix shows producer Jeffrey Katzenberg at the premiere of "Inventing David Geffen," at The Paris Theater in New York. Geffen has donated $100 million to New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The performing arts building, long known as Avery Fisher Hall, will be renamed David Geffen Hall in September. Geffen said in a statement Wednesday, March 4, 2015, that Lincoln Center is a “beacon to artists and musicians around the world.” (AP Photo/Starpix, Amanda Schwab, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Entertainment industry executive David Geffen has donated $100 million to New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


Snoop Dogg 'drips' it like it's hot at Etam Paris pool show

U.S Rapper Snoop Dogg poses with models at the end of Etam's ready-to-wear fall-winter 2015/2016 fashion collection presented in Paris, France, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)PARIS (AP) — Snoop Dogg raised the pulse at Paris Fashion Week with a surprise concert and DJ set at Etam's bikini-themed lingerie pool collection that went on into the early hours of Wednesday — heralding competition for the famed, celebrity-filled Victoria's Secret shows.


Exxon CEO: Get used to lower oil prices

FILE - In this May 28, 2014 file photo, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson listens to a reporter's question after the annual meeting ExxonMobil shareholders meeting in Dallas. Tillerson on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 said he expects the price of oil to remain low over the next two years because of ample global supplies and relatively weak economic growth (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson expects the price of oil to remain low over the next two years because of ample global supplies and relatively weak economic growth.


Lawyers: Georgia waffles on execution with cloudy drug

FILE -In this Tuesday, July 6, 2004, file photo, Kelly Gissendaner, the only woman on Georgia's death row, peers through the slot in her cell door as a guard brings her a cup of ice at Metro State Prison in Atlanta. Gissendaner was scheduled to be executed Monday, March 2, 2015, but citing concerns about the drug to be used in a lethal injection, corrections officials in Georgia postponed Gissendaner's execution for the second time in a week. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bita Honarvar, File)ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia officials waffled on whether to proceed with an execution when the lethal injection drug was discovered to have a cloudy appearance, according to a court filing, and one expert said their decision to postpone it was the right move.


Thirty-three miners dead after pit blast in east Ukraine

Family members wait outside the Zasyadko coal mine in DonetskBy Maria Tsvetkova DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) - Thirty-three miners were confirmed dead late on Wednesday after a coal mine blast in the rebel-held city of Donetsk near the battle front in eastern Ukraine, indicating no one trapped in the rubble survived. Mine officials said the explosion was most likely caused by gas and not fighting in the war between Moscow-backed rebels and Ukraine government forces. Nevertheless, Kiev suggested the war had made the disaster worse, accusing the separatists of holding up a rescue effort by restricting access.


Appeal filed for man convicted in 'American Sniper' caseSTEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) — An attorney for a former Marine found guilty in the shooting deaths of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and another man has filed an appeal.Kerry pushes back on Israeli criticism of Iran nuke talks

Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference after he delivered remarks to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, March 2, 2015, in Geneva. Kerry discussed ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran, and tensions with Russia over Ukraine. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — U.S. officials sought Wednesday to tamp down expectations of a substantial preliminary nuclear deal with Iran by the March deadline while working to move past the political dust kicked up by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's criticism of an emerging agreement's contours.


Health care at the high court: 5 ways this time is different

Demonstrators stand outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, as the court hears arguments in King v. Burwell, a major test of President Barack Obama's health overhaul which, if successful, could halt health care premium subsidies in all the states where the federal government runs the insurance marketplaces. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)WASHINGTON (AP) — The never-ending political fight over health care hit the Supreme Court Wednesday, and insurance coverage for millions of Americans is on the line.


Iran envoy says no deal yet on length of nuclear accord with powersNo deal has been reached yet on the duration of any possible final agreement with world powers on Iran's nuclear program, Tehran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday. Iran, currently in negotiations with six powers, had rebuffed as unacceptable comments by U.S. President Barack Obama that any accord should last at least a decade. "Certainly for the time being there is no agreement on the duration," the ambassador, Reza Najafi, told reporters after an IAEA board meeting in Vienna. He did not elaborate on how long any deal would have to be for Iran to accept it.Kerry says demanding Iran's 'capitulation' is no way to secure nuclear deal

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry meets his Iranian counterpart Zarif for a new round of nuclear negotiations in MontreuxBy Arshad Mohammed MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Simply demanding Iran's capitulation is no way to get a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday as he wrapped up three days of talks with a veiled dig at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Kerry said he and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawad Zarif made some progress in their negotiations in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux and would resume them on March 15. Kerry aides said many obstacles remained before a late March deadline for an outline accord between Iran and six world powers. On Tuesday, Netanyahu said in a speech in the U.S. Congress that Washington was negotiating a bad deal with Iran that could spark a "nuclear nightmare," drawing a rebuke from President Barack Obama and exposing a deepening U.S.-Israeli rift.


US stock indexes sink as market heads for a second loss

Trader Thomas Kay works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, March 4, 2015. U.S. stocks are opening lower, putting the market on track for a second day of losses. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks sank Wednesday, pulling indexes further below record highs. The drop was modest but broad: nine of the 10 sectors in the Standard & Poor's 500 index lost ground.


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