By Adam Rose and Xiaoyi Shao BEIJING (Reuters) – China's economy expanded 7.4 percent between January and March, its slowest pace in 18 months, prompting authorities to act for the second time in as many weeks to shore up growth. Hours after the National Bureau of Statistics released the data, Premier Li Keqiang was quoted by state media as saying that China would reduce the amount of cash that some village banks hold at the central bank to help the farm sector. The relaxation of reserve requirements, alongside tax breaks for more companies to support job creation, comes just two weeks after China took its first step this year to juice its slackening economy – cutting taxes for small firms and speeding up investment in railways. The unveiling of new pro-growth measures in quick succession suggests China may be more worried about the foundering economy than it lets on, even though it has ruled out the use of major stimulus to fight short-term dips in growth.
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — A column of armored vehicles flying Russian flags drove into a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian insurgents Wednesday, dampening the central government’s hopes of re-establishing control over restive eastern Ukraine.
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan officials say about 400 troops will be deployed in Somalia on Thursday under a new United Nations guard unit charged with protecting U.N. staff and installations in the violence-prone Somali capital.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden is promoting a new website designed to make it easier for service members, veterans, their spouses and dependents to calculate their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at thousands of schools and job training programs.
By Gabriela Baczynska and Thomas Grove KRAMATORSK/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Separatists flew the Russian flag on armored vehicles taken from the Ukrainian army on Wednesday, humiliating a Kiev government operation to recapture eastern towns controlled by pro-Moscow partisans. The armored personnel carriers were driven into the rebel-held town of Slaviansk to waves and shouts of "Russia! Russia!". The military setback leaves Kiev looking impotent before a peace conference in Geneva on Thursday, when its foreign minister will meet his Russian counterpart for the first time since Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich was toppled in February after deadly protests. Moscow has responded to the overthrow of Yanukovich by declaring the Kiev government an illegitimate gang of fascists and announcing its right to intervene militarily across the former Soviet Union to protect Russian speakers, a new doctrine that has overturned decades of post-Cold War diplomacy.
GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations and aid groups launched an appeal for $274 million Wednesday to help people who have fled the Central African Republic because of the sectarian conflict there, warning that the dire needs of hundreds of thousands of refugees can’t be met with existing funds.
MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — A ferry carrying 462 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast on Wednesday, leaving more than 280 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured.
(Reuters) – At-home soda maker Sodastream International is in early talks to sell a stake of up to 16 percent to a strategic entity, Israeli financial news daily Calcalist reported on its website. U.S. shares of Sodastream rose as much as 12 percent to $42.25 on Wednesday after the website identified PepsiCo Inc, Dr Pepper Snapple Group or Starbucks Co as the potential investors in the Israel-based company. The price being discussed values Sodastream at about $1.1 billion, Calcalist said. The valuation reflects a share price of $52, compared with Sodastream's closing price of $37.64 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.
MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Classes resumed Wednesday at a Pittsburgh-area high school where authorities said a student stabbed or slashed 21 others and a security guard a week ago while rampaging through a hallway with two kitchen knives.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Negotiators from Venezuela's government and the opposition agreed to broaden membership in a truth commission tasked with investigating who's to blame for 41 deaths tied to weeks of political unrest.
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — Tanzania's president warned armed groups operating in eastern Congo to disarm or risk being hunted down by Congolese and U.N. forces in an interview with The Associated Press.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon proved not once but allegedly twice that GPS trackers — the electronic leashes worn by 100,000 freed criminals in the U.S. — can't stop criminal activity.
U.S. stocks moved higher in early trading on Wednesday, extending their gains into a third day. Investors welcomed solid earnings from Yahoo as well as some encouraging news about China's economy and U.S. factory production.
A Japanese court Wednesday placed failed Bitcoin exchange MtGox in administration, with an order for bankruptcy expected to be issued soon, its administrator and chief executive said. "The Tokyo District Court decided today to dismiss the application for commencement of a civil rehabilitation and at the same time, an order for Provisional Administration was issued," a statement from CEO Mark Karpeles said. "Attorney-at-law Nobuaki Kobayashi (Supervisor and Examiner under the Civil Rehabilitation Procedure) was appointed Provisional Administrator." "I, as the provisional administrator, will administer the assets of the Company under the supervision of the Tokyo District Court," said a statement in Kobayashi's name posted on the MtGox website.
"Obviously the time has gone really fast," Park said. But she finished 36th in her title defense at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the year, two weeks ago. Defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway, ranked second in the world, will miss her third successive event with a back injury. Hawaii native Michelle Wie, coming off a runner-up finish to fellow American Lexi Thompson at the Kraft Nabisco, will be looking for a strong performance in her return home.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — A planned anti-gay rally that would have made Ethiopia the latest African country to demonize gays has been cancelled, officials said Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic worries about this November's elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama's effort to pass new curbs on firearms.
At least six people, including women and children, were killed when a small gold mine in Guinea, West Africa caved in on them, a local official said on Wednesday. Amongst them are also children of less than 12 years of age who were with their parents,” the central government’s local representative for the Siguiri region, Mohamed Cheick Diallo, told Reuters by telephone. Thousands work in Guinea’s mines, seeing it as a route out of poverty.
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian poet and translator Nina Cassian, who obtained political asylum in the United States after the Communist-era secret police found her critical poems scribbled in a friend’s diary, has died in New York City. She was 89.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The Associated Press has named Michelle Faul, who has covered the major stories of Africa over the past three decades, as its bureau chief in Nigeria.
Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, is likely to be liquidated after a Tokyo court dismissed the company's bid to resuscitate its business, the court-appointed administrator said on Wednesday. CEO Mark Karpeles is also likely to be investigated for liability in the collapse of the Tokyo-based firm, the provisional administrator, lawyer Nobuaki Kobayashi, said in a statement published on the Mt. Gox website. "The Tokyo District Court recognized that it would be difficult for the company to carry out the civil rehabilitation proceedings and dismissed the application for the commencement of the civil rehabilitation proceedings," he said. In Wednesday's order for provisional administration, the court put the company's assets under Kobayashi's control until bankruptcy proceedings officially commence and a bankruptcy trustee is named.
Groundbreaking for new homes also increased but remained well below the post-recession peak hit in November, signaling the drag the housing market is placing on the economy. Output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities rose 0.7 percent last month after an upwardly revised gain of 1.2 percent in February, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday. Economists had expected industrial production to rise 0.5 percent.
By Lanre Ola Isaac Abrak MaiduguriAbuja – By Lanre Ola and Isaac Abrak MAIDUGURI/ABUJA, April 16 (Reuters) – Islamist rebels duped dozens of Nigerian schoolgirls into thinking they were soldiers come to evacuate them before abducting over 100 in their latest anti-government raid, one of the survivors said on Wednesday. Gunmen suspected to be members of the radical Islamist movement Boko Haram swooped on Chibok town in Borno state and on its nearby all-girls government secondary school late on Monday, calling on the students to leave their beds in the hostel. The mass abduction of schoolgirls aged between 15 and 18 has shocked Nigeria and showed how the five-year-old Boko Haram insurgency has brought lawlessness to swathes of the arid, poor northeast, killing hundreds of people in recent months. It occurred the same day a bomb blast, also blamed on Boko Haram, killed 75 people on the edge of the capital Abuja, stirring fears of violence spreading from the north of Africa’s No. 1 oil producer and most populous nation.
By Fredrik Dahl and Mehrdad Balali VIENNA/DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran expects to get a fifth installment this week of previously blocked overseas funds, a senior official was quoted as saying, a payment that would confirm Tehran's compliance with an interim deal with world powers to curb its nuclear program. Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said "tough issues" faced the Islamic Republic and the six major powers in negotiating a permanent accord to resolve the decade-old nuclear dispute but that it was still possible by a late July deadline. "This means removal of sanctions and restoring financial relations with the rest of the world," he said, making clear Iran's aim to have sanctions that limit oil exports and make financial transactions difficult lifted as soon as possible. Diplomats and experts say it will be difficult, but not impossible, to resolve the standoff over nuclear activities which Iran says are peaceful but the West fears may be aimed at developing nuclear weapons capability.
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Suspected Islamic militants have struck for a fourth time in three days in Nigeria, killing 20 people including a traditional ruler in attacks in the northeast, local government and security officials said Wednesday.