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Pro-Russian militants in Ukraine defiant despite deal

Pro-Russian rebels kept their grip on seized government buildings in Ukraine on Friday, a day after Kiev struck a deal with Russia and the West aimed at easing the crisis in the ex-Soviet republic. As part of the surprise agreement hammered out in talks in Geneva Thursday, "all illegal armed groups" were due to disarm and leave seized state buildings. But the pro-Kremlin gunmen who have overrun nearly a dozen towns and cities across Ukraine's Russian-speaking southeast showed little sign of leaving.

Lewis Cardinal suspends federal run for NDP, citing personal, health reasons

EDMONTON - Aboriginal activist and educator Lewis Cardinal says he's not going to run for the NDP in the next federal election after all. Cardinal issued a statement on Thursday saying he will be stepping down as the party's candidate in Edmonton Centre "due to personal and health reasons" without specifying what those reasons are. It was just a few weeks ago that federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair made a stop in Edmonton to mark Cardinal's nomination.

First lady says a high school diploma is not enough, tours Howard U. campus with students

WASHINGTON - It may be a few years before the first daughters head to college, but Michelle Obama is already brainstorming a dorm room checklist while encouraging high school students to dream big about their education beyond graduation. The first lady told a group of students Thursday that a high school diploma is not enough in today's global economy. "No longer is high school the bar. That is not enough," Mrs. Obama told the crowd. "You have got to go to college or get some kind of professional training."

Long-term care: Why your location really matters

By Mark Miller CHICAGO (Reuters) - Location, location location: Not only is it key to the value of real estate, it's also a big driver of the cost of long-term care. A study of long-term care costs in the United States released this week shows that the cost of long-term services and support varies dramatically by location. For example, the national median cost of a private nursing home this year is $87,600 - but it's $155,125 in Connecticut, $87,180 in Ohio and $57,487 in Oklahoma.

States with the biggest changes in jobless aid applications, and some reasons, at a glance

WASHINGTON - Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits increased slightly last week to a seasonally adjusted 304,000. The four-week average for claims dipped to its lowest level since October 2007, two months before the Great Recession began. The current level suggests strong momentum for the job market this month. Here are the states with the biggest decreases and increases in applications. The data is for the week that ended April 5, one week behind the national figures: States with the biggest decreases: California: Down 13,982, due to fewer layoffs in services

'Shouldn't we move?' Ferry evacuation under scrutiny

National shock at a ferry disaster that may have killed hundreds of South Korean schoolchildren was mixed with fury Thursday over growing evidence that many passengers were denied a proper chance to escape. Multiple survivor testimony highlighted the fact that passengers were repeatedly told to stay in their seats or cabins when the ferry first ran into trouble on Wednesday morning. Those who obeyed found their possible escape route severely compromised after the vessel suddenly listed sharply to the port side, triggering total panic.

'Shouldn't we move?' Ferry evacuation under scrutiny

National shock at a ferry disaster that may have claimed the lives of hundreds of South Korean schoolchildren was mixed with fury Thursday at growing evidence that many passengers were denied a proper chance to escape the sinking vessel. Multiple survivor testimony highlighted the fact that passengers were repeatedly told to stay in their seats or cabins when the ferry first ran into trouble on Wednesday morning. Those who obeyed found their possible escape route severely compromised after the vessel suddenly listed sharply to the port side, triggering total panic.

US college entrance test, the SAT, gets a revamp

Getting into college in the United States will no longer hinge so much on a high school student's grasp of arcane vocabulary or obtuse mathematical formulas. Changes to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) unveiled Wednesday are intended to breathe new vigor into the 88-year-old college entrance exam at a time when some critics are challenging its value. "The changes to the SAT will distinguish it from any current admission exam," said the College Board, the New York-based non-profit that oversees the test.

Kidnapped Nigeria girls taken to Islamist stronghold

The Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram were taken to a stronghold of the Islamist group, parents said on Wednesday, as the military confirmed that 129 students had been abducted. Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade, who had earlier given the figure of those kidnapped in northeastern Borno state late Monday, later said all but eight had been released, but that was disputed by sources in the region and could not be independently confirmed. "The principal of the school confirmed that only eight of the girls are still missing," he said in a statement.

Out-of-pocket health costs rising; low-income homes face biggest pinch

TORONTO - Out-of-pocket health expenses rose sharply from 1997 to 2009, with low-income households taking the hardest hit, a new study from Statistics Canada reveals. Low-income households saw their health-care-related costs rise by 63 per cent over that period, compared to an increase of between 36 and 48 per cent for higher earners, the report says. In 2009, households with the lowest incomes spent about $1,000 on health care, compared to almost $3,000 for top earners.
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