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US, Russia up pressure ahead of Ukraine talks

Russia and the US ramped up the pressure Wednesday as Washington's top diplomat touched down in Geneva for high-stakes talks on the escalating crisis in Ukraine, where the government is losing control of the separatist east. US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet his Russian, Ukrainian and EU counterparts Thursday in a bid to defuse soaring tensions in the ex-Soviet republic, where pro-Russia militants have taken control of parts of the nation's southeastern industrial heartland.

U.S. Energy Dept plans $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy

By Ayesha Rascoe WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department on Wednesday unveiled a plan for up to $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy companies to help rejuvenate a program that faced harsh political attacks over past failures of federally subsidized projects. The Obama administration's draft plan would provide loan guarantees for innovative projects that limit or avoid greenhouse gas emissions.

EU to host industry talks ahead of setting 2030 climate goals

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Commission will hold three meetings this summer on how to ensure the bloc's industries can compete in global markets while meeting goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it said on Wednesday. The meetings aim to gather views on rules determining if companies can continue to receive free carbon permits under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) beyond 2020, when current measures expire.

EU to host industry talks ahead of setting 2030 climate goals

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Commission will hold three meetings this summer on how to ensure the bloc's industries can compete in global markets while meeting goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it said on Wednesday. The meetings aim to gather views on rules determining if companies can continue to receive free carbon permits under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) beyond 2020, when current measures expire.

US readies sanctions, demands Russia halt 'provocation'

The United States urged Russia Wednesday to stop its "provocation" in eastern Ukraine, warning it was preparing new sanctions against Moscow ahead of a critical international meeting in Geneva on the crisis. As Secretary of State John Kerry was flying to the Swiss city for talks involving Russia, Ukraine and the European Union, the White House signaled new sanctions against Moscow could be imminent.

US, Russia trade accusations ahead of Ukraine talks

Russia and the US traded barbs Wednesday ahead of high-level talks on the crisis in Ukraine as a military operation ordered by Kiev to oust pro-Moscow separatists in its eastern regions collapsed. A concerned NATO said it was deploying more forces in eastern Europe and called for Russia to stop "destabilising" the former Soviet republic, which has been in deep turmoil since the ouster of pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych in February.

Six dead, 290 missing in S. Korea ferry sinking

South Korean rescuers and dive teams worked frantically under floodlights as fears rose for nearly 300 people missing after a ferry sank Wednesday with 475 on board, mostly high school students bound for a holiday island. Yonhap news agency said 179 people had been rescued, citing national coastguard officials, leaving 290 unaccounted for. There were six confirmed deaths, including a female crew member and a student.

First Nations bar B.C. from LNG summit over sweet gas assessment exemption

FORT NELSON, B.C. - British Columbia government officials have been kicked out of a First Nations forum on liquefied natural gas over the government's decision to exempt most of the gas produced in the province from mandatory environmental assessment. The chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation, organizer of today's summit, asked the bureaucrats to leave this morning. On Monday, the Liberal government made changes that mean plants that produce so-called sweet gas will no longer face an automatic environmental assessment as of April 28.

California game commission delays decision on listing grey wolf as endangered species

FRESNO, Calif. - Advocates for the grey wolf in California will have to wait 90 days before learning if the animal will be listed as endangered, a state board decided Wednesday. Ranchers and state wildlife officials oppose granting the species legal protections. The five members of the California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to delay a decision so they can gather more public comments on protecting the species, which is showing signs of a comeback after being killed off in the 1920s.

Geneva talks on Ukraine pit polarized parties - US, EU, Ukraine, Russia; Here's what they want

MOSCOW - Thursday's high-level talks in Geneva on Ukraine come as the country's eastern regions are awash in turmoil and pro-Russian insurgents have seized police stations and government buildings in at least nine cities. But for all the anxiety about Ukraine's future — bolstered by Vladimir Putin's contention the country is on the verge of civil war — the top diplomats of Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union may find their positions so far apart that no one can find a compromise. A look at the parties in the talks and their levers of power: ____
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