Obama to Russia: More sanctions are 'teed up' TOKYO (AP) - Accusing Russia of failing to live up to its commitments, President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Thursday that the United States has another round of economic sanctions "teed up" - even as he acknowledged those penalties may do little to influence Vladimir Putin's handling of the crisis in Ukraine. Obama's frank pessimism underscored the limits of Washington's ability to prevent Russia from stirring up instability in Ukraine's east and exerting influence over elections scheduled for next month in the former Soviet republic. A diplomatic accord that offered a glimmer of hope for a resolution to the tense dispute is crumbling, and Russia has warned of a firm response if the country's citizens or interests in Ukraine are attacked.
Ukraine official: city hall cleared of protesters DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Police have cleared the city hall in a southeastern Ukrainian city of the pro-Russia protesters who had been occupying it for over a week, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Thursday as government forces appeared to be resuming operations in the east. Local police officials and protesters, however, presented quite another picture of what happened in the city of Mariupol. Pro-Russia protesters and masked gunmen have been occupying government buildings across eastern Ukraine for nearly two weeks and refusing to recognize Ukraine's fledging government.
FDA proposes first regulations for e-cigarettes WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration. While the proposal being issued Thursday won't immediately mean changes for the popular devices, the move is aimed at eventually taming the fast-growing e-cigarette industry.
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Vermont moves toward labeling of GMO foods MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont lawmakers have passed the country's first state bill to require the labeling of genetically modified foods as such, setting up a war between powerful lobbyists for the behemoth U.S. food industry and an American public that overwhelmingly says it approves of the idea. The Vermont House approved the measure Wednesday evening, about a week after the state Senate, and Gov. Peter Shumlin said he plans to sign it. The requirements would take effect July 1, 2016, giving food producers time to comply.
Last year's deadbeats do best as stocks stall NEW YORK (AP) - Financial markets rarely stick to the script, and this year is no different. Investments traditionally considered safe bets such as utilities, gold and government bonds were supposed to flop in 2014 as investors started to pour money into higher-risk, higher-growth stocks that would benefit from a pickup in the economy.
Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan says three doctors killed by an Afghan security guard at a Kabul hospital are American citizens. Thursday's shooting at Cure International Hospital in western Kabul was the latest attack on foreign civilians in the Afghan capital this year.
FCC to propose pay-for-priority Internet standards LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new open Internet rules that would allow content companies to pay for faster delivery over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes, but enhance scrutiny of such deals so they don't harm competition or limit free speech. That's according to a senior FCC official familiar with the matter who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is to present the proposed rules to the other commissioners on Thursday.
Classes begin at SKorean school full of mourning ANSAN, South Korea (AP) - Students in the city hit hardest by the South Korean ferry disaster returned to classes Thursday, their school campus a tragic landscape of yellow ribbons, chrysanthemums and photos of classmates and teachers who make up the vast majority of the more than 300 people feared dead. Danwon High School was at times the site of even more direct grieving, as relatives in funeral processions visited their loved ones' classrooms before moving on to cremate the body. Education officials said the first two days of classes will focus on helping students cope with losses and trauma, with help from psychiatrists and professional counselors.
Taliban ready to deal on captive US soldier? WASHINGTON (AP) - The captors of an American soldier held for nearly five years in Afghanistan have signaled a willingness to release him but are unclear which U.S. government officials have the authority to make a deal, according to two individuals in the military working for his release. Critics of the release effort blame disorganization and poor communication among the numerous federal agencies involved. An ever-shrinking U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has refocused attention on efforts to bring home Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held by the Taliban since June 30, 2009. About two dozen officials at the State and Defense departments, the military's U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command, the CIA and FBI are working the case - most of them doing it alongside their other duties, a defense official said.
Pyongyang's pop queens stage comeback PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) - Step aside, Sea of Blood Opera. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's favorite guitar-slinging, miniskirt-sporting girl group, the Moranbong Band, is back. And these ladies know how to shimmy. After a six-month hiatus, the queens of North Korea's pop scene are once again playing to standing-room-only crowds and rave reviews in the state media. They're the darlings of primetime TV, such as it is. Even athletes at this month's Pyongyang marathon were treated to one of the band's livelier tunes - blared at them from a sound truck.