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Japan, U.S. trade talks in stalemate, ministers to meet again: Japan

By Krista Hughes and Kaori Kaneko WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S.-Japan talks aimed at a trade deal seen as vital to a broader regional pact are in stalemate, Japan's economy minister said, as negotiators struggle to narrow gaps ahead of a summit between the countries' leaders. A U.S.-Japan agreement is critical to the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation grouping that would stretch from Asia to Latin America. The TPP is central to U.S. President Barack Obama's policy of expanding America's presence in Asia.

Chinese dream trumps environment as cars sales boom

When accountant Ariel Wang bought a new car a few weeks ago, environmental protection was far from her mind even though smog has reached crisis levels in China's commercial hub Shanghai. She settled on a sturdy sport utility vehicle, the Audi Q5, as the ideal family car for her husband's daily commute to work and transport for her young daughter at the weekends. "We didn't really think about environmental protection, as long as the car's emissions aren't too high," she said. "Look at it this way -- whether we use a car or a taxi, it's the same effect."

Obama: Ukraine diplomacy holds hope but sanctions ready

By Mark Felsenthal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Thursday that talks between Russia and Western powers aimed at ending tensions in Ukraine have potential but warned that the United States and its allies are prepared to impose more sanctions on Russia if the situation fails to improve. "I don't think we can be sure of anything at this point," he told reporters at a news conference. "There is the possibility, the prospect, that diplomacy may de-escalate the situation."

Beijing's bid to move polluting firms watched warily in nearby regions

By David Stanway BEIJING (Reuters) - China's capital has ordered more than 50 companies to shut down this year in an effort to cut pollution but pushing factories out could raise objections in surrounding areas reluctant to host Beijing's polluters. Smog-shrouded Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei have become a front in a "war against pollution" declared by Premier Li Keqiang last month.

Obama's hope in check after Geneva deal

President Barack Obama had a curt assessment of his own administration's latest "breakthrough" in its tangled diplomacy with Vladimir Putin: buyer beware. US officials never held out much hope for talks in Geneva aimed at stemming the chaos in eastern Ukraine that Obama had blamed on Russian support for separatist rebels. But on the face of it, the unexpected agreement between Russia, Ukraine, the EU and United States appeared to address the immediate flashpoints of the latest brushfire in the wider Ukraine crisis.

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with first child

By Barbara Goldberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chelsea Clinton announced on Thursday that she is pregnant with the first grandchild of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Marc and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year," said Chelsea Clinton, 34, referring to her investment banker husband, Marc Mezvinsky, 36.

US to send 'non-lethal' military aid to Ukraine

The United States will send helmets, medical supplies and other non-lethal military aid to Ukraine amid fears of another Russian incursion there, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday. Hagel said he had informed Kiev that President Barack Obama "has approved additional non-lethal military assistance for health and welfare items and other supplies." The aid includes medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats and water purification units for Ukrainian troops, as well as shelters, small power generators and hand fuel pumps for Ukraine's border security force.

US city flushes reservoir after man urinates in it

The US city of Portland, Oregon, is ditching 38 million gallons of drinking water from a reservoir after a teenager was caught on camera urinating into it, officials said Thursday. The water -- enough to fill nearly 60 Olympic-size swimming pools, according to reports -- will be discarded despite tests finding no evidence of contamination. The 19-year old man, seen with two friends carrying skateboards in the early hours Wednesday, was filmed urinating through an iron fence into the reservoir in southeast Portland shortly after 1:00 am.

FDA approves 2nd Merck tablet to reduce immune response to allergies, this time for ragweed

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. - U.S. regulators have again approved a Merck Ragwitek tablets dissolve quickly under the tongue. Patients are to take one daily, from three months before ragweed season begins until it ends, for a few years. The Food and Drug Administration approved it for patients aged 18 through 65. Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck's tablet for spring grass allergies, Grastek, was approved Monday for patients aged 5 to 65. Both offer an alternative to medicines that just temporarily relieve symptoms or years of uncomfortable allergy shots.

Obama to hold press conference, set to address Ukraine: aide

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will hold a press conference at the White House on Thursday and will be prepared to answer questions about the situation in Ukraine, a White House aide said. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes announced the news in a Twitter post. (Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Eric Beech)
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