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By Arshad Mohammed and Alexei Anishchuk GENEVA/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union called after crisis talks on Thursday for an immediate halt to violence in Ukraine, where Western powers believe Russia is fomenting a pro-Russian separatist movement. President Barack Obama said the meeting in Geneva between Russia and western powers was promising but that the United States and its allies were prepared to impose more sanctions on Russia if the situation fails to improve. Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking in Moscow, accused Ukraine's leaders of committing a "grave crime" by using the army to try to quell unrest in the east of the country, and did not rule out sending in Russian troops.
For the first time, scientists have discovered an Earth-sized alien planet in the habitable zone of its host star, an "Earth cousin" that just might have liquid water and the right conditions for life. The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. "One of the things we've been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star," Tom Barclay, Kepler scientist and co-author of the new exoplanet research, told Space.com.
By Ana Martinez-Santiago SAN JUAN (Reuters) - Puerto Rican singer José Luis "Cheo" Feliciano, who performed with some of salsa's top stars, was killed in a car crash in San Juan early Thursday morning, police said. Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla declared three days of mourning for the widely admired salsero. Feliciano died shortly after 4 a.m, according to Axel Valencia, a San Juan police spokesman. The El Nuevo Dia newspaper said his Jaguar hit an electricity pole.
With little fanfare, Iran has taken faster steps than required to comply with an interim nuclear deal that substantially limits its capacity to make a nuclear weapon. Today, the United Nations nuclear watchdog reported that Iran has significantly reduced its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium – the material that is a few technical steps from bomb-grade – and is ahead of schedule to completely dispose of remaining stocks by mid-July. Iran has two incentives to move quickly on the terms of the deal, which took force on Jan. 20. It is eager to show it can abide by all its nuclear commitments, as Iran and world powers begin drafting a comprehensive nuclear deal after three rounds of talks, with a fourth due to begin on May 13.
So now it's out there. After five years of studied reticence, Democratic leaders in Washington finally went public last week with what they really think is motivating Republican opposition to Barack Obama. As Steve Israel, one of the top Democrats in Congress said the Republican base, "to a significant extent," is "animated by racism."
By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Jay Z joined Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday to announce that his music festival, "Budweiser Made in America," will be coming to downtown Los Angeles in August, giving the annual music bash a second venue. Grammy-winning Jay Z launched the "Made in America" festival in 2012 in Philadelphia with Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser beer brand and concert company Live Nation Entertainment in an effort to bring together diverse musical acts such as hip hop, pop, rock, country and others. "Putting together a music festival that blurred those lines of genres and all walks of life and all people can come, and it's in this city, it's not some far-off place that you can't get to," the 44-year-old rapper said. Garcetti touted the positive economic impact the inaugural festival, which featured performances by Pearl Jam, Drake, Rita Ora and Jay Z himself, had on Philadelphia, bringing in more than $10 million for the local economy and helping the hotel occupancy rate increase to more than 90 percent.
As pro-Russia protests spread in eastern Ukraine, a strip of striped orange-and-black fabric has become as ubiquitous as the armed men in unmarked military fatigues. Its name is the Ribbon of Saint George. Imbued with history, it’s a powerful symbol in the ongoing information battle over Ukraine. For Russians it's a mark of allegiance to the state – both the fearsome, expansionist Russian state of old and its modern successor under President Vladimir Putin.