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Buick ads are no joke: Regal gets double takes

This undated photo provided by General Motors shows the 2014 Buick Regal GS. (AP Photo/GM) The television ads where neighbors, friends and family can't identify a new car as a Buick are true to life.


Spacewalking astronauts complete urgent repair job

In this Wednesday, April 23, 2014 image made from video provided by NASA, astronauts Steven Swanson, left, and Rick Mastracchio perform a spacewalk outside the International Space Station to replace a dead computer. The device is a critical backup outside the station that failed nearly two weeks ago. The prime computer has been working fine, but NASA wanted to install a fresh spare as soon as possible. (AP Photo/NASA) CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Spacewalking astronauts easily replaced a dead computer outside the International Space Station on Wednesday and got their orbiting home back up to full strength.


Soldier convicted in WikiLeaks case gets new name

U.S. Army, Pfc. Chelsea Manning LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge granted a request Wednesday to formally change the name of the soldier convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.


Connecticut man charged in Yale hoax threat

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Police say they have charged a Connecticut man with making a call in November in which he falsely claimed an armed man was on his way to shoot up Yale University.

Labor Dept. cuts levels of allowable coal dust

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Wednesday it is cutting the amount of coal dust allowed in coal mines in an effort to help reduce black lung disease.

Ex-CEO admits stealing from prominent NYC charity

NEW YORK (AP) — The politically connected former CEO of a prominent city charity admitted Wednesday he helped steal more than $9 million from the organization in an insurance scheme that authorities linked to campaign contributions.

NYPD Twitter campaign backfires, thousands of negative tweets

A pedestrian walks past a line of police cars parked at Times Square in New York By Chris Francescani NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York Police Department campaign to burnish its image via social media instead produced a flood of pictures of police brutality and tweets critical of the force being shared at a rate of thousands an hour. The department on Tuesday afternoon invited Twitter users to submit pictures of themselves with NYPD cops using the hashtag #mynypd, promising some would be posted to the NYPD Facebook page. Within hours, a torrent of images depicting police brutality, violence and controversial tactics, most of which occurred under former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, deluged Twitter. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the #mynypd hashtag was still pinballing through cyberspace at a rate of 3,400 an hour, according to hashtags.org, a Twitter analytics website.


City of Greer bans texting while driving

The city of Greer has become the latest South Carolina municipality to ban texting while driving.

Florida man to be executed for 1990 double murder

By Bill Cotterell TALLAHASSEE (Reuters) - A man who killed his cousin and the man's wife to prevent his cousin from testifying against him in a burglary case is scheduled to die Wednesday evening at Florida State Prison, in Raiford, north Florida. Robert Eugene Hendrix, 47, was convicted of shooting, stabbing and beating Elmer Scott and his wife, Michelle Scott, at their mobile home in Sorrento, central Florida. Hendrix and Elmer Scott had been involved in a home burglary, for which Scott was caught and given a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony against Hendrix. On August 27, 1990, the eve of his trial, Hendrix and his girlfriend, Denise Turbyville, shot his cousin, beat his head with a pistol and stabbed him in the neck, prosecutors said.

Wellness programs grow more popular with employers

That little voice nagging you to put down the cake and lace up the running shoes is increasingly coming from your employer and is likely to grow louder with a looming change under the federal health care overhaul.

High court tosses $3.4M award to child porn victim

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday said a federal law limits how much money victims of child pornography can recover from people who viewed their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices called on Congress to change the law to benefit victims.

US court revives European suit vs. R.J. Reynolds

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit by the European Union alleging that U.S. tobacco company R.J. Reynolds sponsored cigarette smuggling in Europe.

US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is encouraging nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars to apply for clemency, officials announced Wednesday.

Former Fortune 500 exec indicted in fatal NH crash

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A former Fortune 500 executive has been indicted on second-degree murder charges in a December crash in New Hampshire that killed a Vermont couple, including a woman who was eight months pregnant.

3 charged with sending chemical equipment to Syria

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — U.S. prosecutors have charged a Pennsylvania man and two foreign citizens with conspiring to illegally export chemical warfare detection devices and other lab equipment to Syria.

Sinkhole in Florida seems to be opening again

THE VILLAGES, Fla. (AP) — A sinkhole between two houses in a sprawling Florida retirement community that was plugged over the weekend appears to be opening again.

Brazil passes bill on Internet privacy

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday ratified a bill guaranteeing Internet privacy and enshrining access to the Web during a major conference in Sao Paulo on the future of Internet governance.

China, US data keep a lid on global stocks

LONDON (AP) — Lackluster economic data out of China and the U.S. offset a string of positive developments in Europe to keep a lid on global stock markets on Wednesday following a strong run, particularly on Wall Street.

Obama seeks to ease Asian allies' doubts during visit to Japan

President Obama watches South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe move to their seats at the opposite ends of the table By Linda Sieg and Matt Spetalnick TOKYO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will use a state visit to Japan on Thursday to try to reassure Tokyo and other Asian allies of his commitment to ramping up U.S. engagement in the region, despite Chinese complaints that Washington's real aim is to contain Beijing's rise. Obama will be treated to a display of pomp and ceremony meant to show that the U.S.-Japan alliance, the main pillar of America's security strategy in Asia, remains solid at a time of rising tensions over growing Chinese assertiveness and North Korean nuclear threats. It was unclear, however, whether a last-ditch round of talks between U.S. and Japanese negotiators would yield a breakthrough on a two-way trade pact seen as crucial to a broader trans-Pacific agreement that Obama has championed. The challenge for Obama during his week-long, four-nation tour will be to convince Asian partners that Washington is serious about its promised strategic "pivot" towards the region, while at the same time not harming U.S. ties with China, the world's second-biggest economy.


Q&A: A French economist's grim view of wealth gap

This undated photo provided by Harvard Press shows French economist Thomas Piketty. In his new book, Piketty, who helped popularize the notion of a privileged 1 percent, sounds a grim warning: The U.S. economy is beginning to decay into the aristocratic Europe of the 19th century. (AP Photo/Harvard Press, Emmanuelle Marchadour) NEW YORK (AP) — If you'd like to live in Downton Abbey, the good news is that our economy has entered a second Gilded Age of opulence and elegance.


New Hampshire ex-priest gets jail time for thefts

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire priest who was the former leader of one of the nation's top clergy treatment centers was sentenced Wednesday to up to 20 years in prison for stealing at least $104,000 from a hospital, a dead priest's estate and the state's Roman Catholic bishop.

New Hampshire ex-priest gets prison for thefts

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire priest who was the former leader of one of the nation's top clergy treatment centers has been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for stealing at least $104,000 from a hospital, a dead priest's estate and the state's Roman Catholic bishop.

Michigan man among first in U.S. to get 'bionic eye'

Michigan man among 1st in US to get 'bionic eye' A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure ...


Washington school bus driver accused of bullying

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A school bus driver has been placed on leave while the Olympia School District investigates accusations that he bullied a developmentally disabled 14-year-old girl.

New York AG seeks Airbnb's NYC sublet information

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Airbnb has urged a New York judge to reject a subpoena for information about those using the global website to offer apartment rentals in New York City, its attorney calling that "a fishing expedition."

Judge to mull Chelsea Manning name change request

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning outside a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md. LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.


Scientists locate shipwreck in San Francisco Bay

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal ocean scientists have found the wreckage of a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888, a disaster that killed 16 people.

Fact sheet: 2014 Buick Regal

2014 Buick Regal GS AWD

Spacewalking astronauts tackle urgent repair job

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Space station astronauts are taking a spacewalk to replace a dead computer and get their orbiting home back up to full strength.

U.S. factory activity expands in April, pace stalls

An overall view of the assembly line where the BMW X4 is made at the BMW manufacturing plant in Spartanburg The U.S. manufacturing sector expanded in April though the rate of growth was slightly lower than expected as inventories fell, but factory output growth hit its fastest pace in three years, an industry report showed on Wednesday. Financial data firm Markit said its preliminary or "flash" U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index dipped to 55.4 in April from 55.5 in March.


Britain's budget gap narrowest since financial crisis

A man passes the Bank of England in the City of London By David Milliken and William Schomberg LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's hefty budget deficit has fallen to its lowest since the financial crisis, official data showed on Wednesday, helping the government argue it is delivering on a key economic pledge a year before a national election. The Bank of England, meanwhile, indicated it was not hurrying to raise interest rates, even if its members are somewhat divided about the economic outlook. The deficit in the 2013-14 tax year fell to 6.6 percent of gross domestic product from 7.4 percent in 2012-13 - in line with recent government plans. It was the smallest shortfall since 2007-08, though well above that of most other advanced economies - including the 3 percent expected of European Union countries - partly a reflection of how much the government used to rely on massive revenues from banking and housing before the financial crisis.


Europe recovery shows signs of strengthening

FILE - The July 5, 2012 file photo shows a sunflower sitting in front of the Euro sculpture in Frankfurt, Germany. A closely-watched survey has found business activity across the 18-country eurozone running at a three-year high, in perhaps the clearest sign yet that the economic recovery is gaining momentum. Analysts said Wednesday's, April 23, 2014 positive data could take some of the pressure off the European Central Bank to take further steps to stimulate the economy at its next monthly policy meeting on May 8 despite stubbornly low inflation across the 18-country single currency zone. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file) FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — A closely watched survey has found business activity across the 18-country eurozone running at a three-year high, in perhaps the clearest sign yet that the economic recovery is gaining momentum.


Slovenian government vulnerable to leadership challenge

Slovenia's Prime Minister Bratusek speaks with the media in Ljubljana By Marja Novak LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia's coalition government, which averted an international bailout last year, could collapse on Friday if Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek loses the leadership of her party, Positive Slovenia. The center-left Positive Slovenia will elect a leader late on Friday and Bratusek has indicated that she will quit the government if her challenger Zoran Jankovic, the party's founder and mayor of Ljubljana, becomes the new head. "I can hardly imagine that I could lead the government without having the support of my own party," Bratusek told reporters earlier this week. A government collapse and early elections would slow efforts to make Slovenia's economy more productive and could hurt sovereign bonds, whose yields have fallen back to their 2007 level in the past month as investors regained confidence in the government's budget management.


Stock futures little changed ahead of open

U.S. stock futures barely budged in pre-market trading Wednesday as positive earnings news from U.S. companies was offset by a disappointing economic report from China.

Splashy plan for pool in NYC's East River unveiled

This artist's rendering provided by Plus Pool, on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, shows the proposed floating pool which is to be positioned in New York's East River close to the Brooklyn shore. The pool, which is scheduled to open in 2016, would be the first of its kind because it's made of filtration material designed to make dirty river water safe for swimming. The Manhattan skyline is in the background. (AP Photo/Plus Pool) NEW YORK (AP) — Forget schlepping to Jones Beach or down the Jersey Shore. A Brooklyn design team said Tuesday that New York's East River could be the next great place for a summer swim.


APNewsBreak: Clemency after 10 years in prison?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will begin considering clemency applications from nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Hole in Afghan budget stirs unease as West starts packing bags

A money changer holds a stack of U.S. dollars at Kabul's largest money market By Jeremy Laurence and Mirwais Harooni KABUL (Reuters) - A $375 million hole in the Afghan budget is threatening public projects and civil servants' salaries, officials say, putting the aid-dependent economy under stress just as Afghanistan awaits a new leader and foreign troops prepare to go home. U.S., U.N. and Afghan finance ministry officials have discussed ways to resolve what they say has become a critical situation for the budget, with civil projects most at risk as international assistance starts to taper off. "If the political situation of the country does not become normal and businesses do not start again soon this problem will become even more worrying," Alhaj Muhammad Aqa, director general of the treasury at the finance ministry, told Reuters on Wednesday. "We will not only face problems in paying salaries of employees but we will have difficulties in other issues too." Funding for security will not be affected, as costs are met by foreign governments which recognize that any chance of stability in Afghanistan rests on quelling the Taliban insurgency.


Canada retail sales up in Feb but still lower than November

People walk past a Crocs store in Quebec City OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales grew for the second consecutive month in February, by 0.5 percent from January, but still have not completely recouped December's weather-induced losses, according to Statistics Canada data released on Wednesday. The sales increase follows a 0.9 percent rise in January and a 1.4 percent drop in December. The value of sales was C$41.03 billion ($37.30 billion), still a shade lower than November's peak of C$41.05 billion. All the figures are seasonally adjusted. In volume terms, relevant for calculating real economic growth, sales advanced by 0. ...


Florida woman denied flight in NC with oxygen tank

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A Florida woman says an airline worker at a North Carolina airport refused to allow her to fly home with an oxygen tank because she didn't have the proper paperwork.

Material on Australian shore examined in jet hunt

Material on Australian shore examined in jet hunt Unidentified material that washed ashore in southwestern Australia and is being examined for any link to the lost Malaysian plane is unlikely to have come from the jet, an official said Wednesday. The ...


China to allow private investment in 80 projects

Chinese Premier Li claps as he attends the opening ceremony of the BFA Annual Conference 2014 in Boao China will allow private investment in 80 projects spanning the energy, information and infrastructure sectors as part of reforms to increase privatization, Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday. In future, other sectors such as utilities, airports and oil and gas exploration will also be open to more private investment, he told a weekly cabinet meeting. His comments were posted on a government website and no further details were provided. Allowing more private investment in China's centrally planned economy is part of government's plans to reduce state intervention and let market forces play a bigger role in the world's second-biggest economy.


Michigan man among 1st in US to get 'bionic eye'

Dr. Thiran Jayasundera, left, looks at Roger Pontz’s left eye ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision.


Global share rally peters out, euro lifted by PMI boost

A man smokes a cigarette outside The London Stock Exchange By Marc Jones LONDON (Reuters) - European shares edged down on Wednesday after three days of gains as signs of a still stuttering Chinese economy and rising worries about Ukraine offset a reassuring set of European economic numbers. U.S. stock futures pointed to a flat start for Wall Street on what will be another heavy day of company earnings as well as U.S. PMI readings.. Data compiler Markit's equivalent readings for Europe, seen as good indicators of future growth, showed that while France's economy was still lagging, Germany continued to power the euro zone's recovery.


Paying for giant Nile dam itself, Ethiopia thwarts Egypt but takes risks

A general view shows construction activity on the Grand Renaissance dam in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz region By Aaron Maasho ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia's bold decision to pay for a huge dam itself has overturned generations of Egyptian control over the Nile's waters, and may help transform one of the world's poorest countries into a regional hydropower hub. By spurning an offer from Cairo for help financing the project, Addis Ababa has ensured it controls the construction of the Renaissance Dam on a Nile tributary. But the decision to fund the huge project itself also carries the risk of stifling private sector investment and restricting economic growth, and may jeopardise Ethiopia's dream of becoming a middle income country by 2025. The dam is now a quarter built and Ethiopia says it will start producing its first 750 megawatts of electricity by the end of this year.


BOJ says 90 percent of banks taking on more risk post-QE

A security guard salutes at the entrance of the Bank of Japan building in Tokyo January 22, 2014.REUTERS/Yuya Shino By Leika Kihara TOKYO (Reuters) - Over 90 percent of Japanese banks have increased loans and investment in riskier assets in the past year, the Bank of Japan said on Wednesday, suggesting that the wall of money it is pumping out is spilling over into the broader economy. "Financial institutions have reduced investment in domestic bonds, especially Japanese government bonds (JGBs), while increasing investment in relatively high-risk assets such as loans," the central bank said in a semi-annual report analyzing Japan's financial system. Banks are lending to a wider range of industries and are more keen to lend to small- and medium-sized companies whose appetite for loans is on the rise, the report said. Bank lending rose 2.1 percent in March from a year earlier, marking the 29th straight month of increase, with lending by regional banks up 3.2 percent, a monthly BOJ data showed.


'Bridgegate' scandal threatens next World Trade Center tower

World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein speaks at an event to update the public on the pace of development at the site in New York By Hilary Russ NEW YORK (Reuters) - The "Bridgegate" scandal that rocked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration earlier this year is threatening a deal that would allow developer Larry Silverstein to finish building the next World Trade Center skyscraper. Silverstein needs a guarantee from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to secure a $1.2 billion construction loan for 3 World Trade Center. On Wednesday, the agency's board will vote on whether to approve that guarantee, part of a deal that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars more to the Port Authority and allow it to foreclose on the $2.4 billion tower if Silverstein cannot pay debt service costs. But Silverstein's deal, even with the concessions to the Port Authority, has become entangled in a fierce debate within the agency over its mission, including whether it should be in the real estate business at all.


Zimbabwe says foreign banks can keep majority stakes, for now

RTXABFH Zimbabwe will let foreigners keep majority stakes in banks for now because locals have no money to buy shares, the finance minister said on Wednesday, signalling a pause in President Robert Mugabe's black economic empowerment drive. But Patrick Chinamasa said the government would not amend on plans to force foreign mining companies to sell at least 51 percent of their local holdings to Zimbabweans under the empowerment programme, known locally as indigenisation. The southern African country, which ditched its hyper-inflated local currency in 2009, is facing a serious dollar crunch as a result of lack of foreign donor support and investment, and some smaller local banks are struggling to stay afloat. The law obliging foreign-owned firms, including mines and banks, to sell at least 51 percent of their stakes to blacks was passed as long ago as 2008.


UK economy picking up speed - Bank of England

Commuters cross London bridge in central London Britain's economic recovery is gaining momentum but Bank of England policymakers held different views about the amount of slack in the economy and the medium-term inflation outlook, minutes from their April 9 meeting showed. The Bank expects the economy grew by 1 percent in the first three months of this year from the fourth quarter of 2013, up slightly from a previous growth forecast of 0.9 percent, the minutes showed. Economists at the Bank expected a slight slowdown in the April-June period. Members of the Monetary Policy Committee also thought it was "possible" that a sustainable rise in real wages, consistent with a durable recovery, was on the way.


Government finances improved across Europe in 2013

BRUSSELS (AP) — Governments across the 18-country eurozone made further headway in 2013 in reducing their deficits, official figures showed Wednesday in a further sign that spending cuts and the nascent economic recovery helped to heal government finances.

Euro zone private sector on strong footing but still slashing prices: PMIs

A cashier holds euro banknotes in Riga We are looking at 0.5 percent quarter-on-quarter GDP growth if we continue to see this level," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit. Inflation fell to just 0.5 percent in March, its sixth straight month in what European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has called a "danger zone" below 1 percent and keeping pressure on the ECB to intervene. However, Markit's flash Composite Purchasing Managers' Index, which is widely regarded as a good gauge of growth, suggested the economic support, at least, may not be necessary.


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