Government and politics
WASHINGTON - A Federal Reserve survey shows severe winter weather held back economic growth in much of the nation from January through early February. Even so, conditions improved in most U.S. regions, helped by slight gains in areas such as employment and commercial real estate.
Eight of the Fed's 12 regions reported improved activity, according to the Beige Book survey released Wednesday. The improvement was depicted as "modest to moderate."
PARIS - The head of NATO says it is responding to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine by suspending most of the military alliance's meetings with Russia and reviewing all of its co-operation with Moscow.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday that ambassadors for NATO's 28 member states decided after a meeting with their Russian counterpart to suspend plans for a joint mission as well as all civilian and military meetings.
BEIRUT - Israeli troops opened fire Wednesday on two suspected militants who were trying to plant explosives on the Jewish state's frontier with Syria, the Israeli military said. Syrian state media accused the Jewish state of targeting its forces with tank shells, and warned against such "adventures."
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed open to the possibility of making it harder for investors to join together to sue corporations for securities fraud — but maybe not as hard as companies that have to defend such lawsuits would like.
Most justices appeared unwilling to completely overturn a quarter-century-old decision that has helped investors launch class-action cases based on the effect misleading statements have on a company's stock price.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday in an unusually public dispute among the clubby Western-allied Gulf Arab states, a move analysts say centres on their neighbour's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its perceived aggressive meddling in regional conflicts.
NEW DELHI - India said Wednesday that it will hold national elections from April 7 to May 12, kicking off a vote that many observers see as the most important election in more than 30 years in the world's largest democracy.
The run-up to the election has laid bare widespread disgust in India over corruption and disenchantment with the storied Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, which has dominated Indian politics since independence from Britain in 1947.
PARIS - The building blocks of a possible diplomatic solution in Ukraine emerged Wednesday as top Russian and Western officials tried to defuse one of Europe's worst crises since the Cold War. The European Union prepared a $15 billion aid package for Ukraine, and European and Ukrainian diplomats outlined ways that all sides could step back from the brink of a new global conflict.
ALBANY, N.Y. - A top county official from New York City's northern suburbs is launching an uphill fight to unseat New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, announced Wednesday in a video that the idea that things are great in New York is a "fairy tale."
State Republicans hold their nominating convention in May. Celebrity businessman Donald Trump has said he would consider a run if the party unifies behind him.
The sounds of war rattled the capital of South Sudan on Wednesday after violence broke out inside the military over a pay dispute, and five soldiers were killed, officials said.
Truckloads of soldiers were moved into Juba after the fighting began around 9 a.m., an eerie reminder of the inter-military fighting that broke out in the same barracks in December that eventually pushed the country into its current state of near-civil war.
PARIS - A French-built warship designed to strengthen Russia's ability to deploy troops, tanks and helicopter gunships is getting its first test run Wednesday — just as Western powers are trying to rein in Russian President Vladimir Putin's military threat to Ukraine.
A spokesman for the shipbuilder says the Vladivostok helicopter carrier is setting sail from the French Atlantic port of Saint-Nazaire. A few hundred kilometres away in Paris, France's government is hosting American, Russian and other leading world diplomats Wednesday amid mounting tensions over Ukraine.