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Bayer says plans to float plastics business

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's largest drugmaker, Bayer, plans to float its plastics business on the stock market and focus entirely on healthcare and crop science, it said on Thursday. "In this way Bayer would position itself as a world-leading company in the field of human, animal and plant health," it said in a statement, adding that its supervisory board would discuss the plans at a board meeting on Thursday. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Thomas Atkins)

IMF proposes $127 mln for three Ebola-hit countries in W.Africa

A photographer takes pictures through a glass carrying the International Monetary Fund logo during a news conference in Bucharest WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could receive an additional $127 million from the International Monetary Fund to help them deal with the worst-ever outbreak of the Ebola virus, the IMF said on Wednesday. The funds, which must still be approved by the IMF's executive board, could help cover financing gaps in the West African countries over the next six to nine months, which the IMF estimates at $300 million in total. ...


Scots start voting in independence referendum

Voters wait for the polling station to open to cast their vote in Portobello near Edinburgh, Scotland EDINBURGH (Reuters) - People in Scotland began voting on Thursday in a referendum on whether the country should become independent or stay part of the United Kingdom. After an intense final day of campaigning, voters turned up at polling stations in schools and halls as soon they opened at 0600 GMT on a day that will decide the fate of a 307-year-old union. The first to cast a ballot in Edinburgh's Waverley Court was a businessman who gave his name as Ron. "This is a historic day for Scotland. I've waited all my life for this. It's time to break with England. ...


Liberia hopes U.S. Ebola pledge will spur others to act

MONROVIA (Reuters) - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Wednesday she hoped U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to send 3,000 troops to West Africa to battle the worst Ebola outbreak on record would spur other countries to help. "On behalf of the Liberian people and in my own name, I want thank President Obama and the American people for scaling up the American response," Johnson Sirleaf said in an address to Liberians. "We remain in touch with the leaders of other governments to take similar steps and join us in partnership to end this disease," she said. ...

West African powerhouse Ivory Coast battles to keep out Ebola

Dr. Joel Montgomery, team leader for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Ebola Response Team in Liberia, is dressed in his personal protective equipment while adjusting a colleague's PPE before entering the Ebola treatment By Joe Bavier ABIDJAN (Reuters) - The billboard depicts a masked health worker in a biohazard suit looming over a bed-ridden patient. Above them, bright red letters warn commuters on a busy Abidjan street that "The Ebola risk is always there". As Ivory Coast campaigns to fend off an Ebola outbreak ravaging neighbouring West African states, such grim reminders of the catastrophe unfolding across its western border are everywhere. ...


'Lather Against Ebola': 'Ice Bucket' challenge against the virus

Ivorians are promoting a new "Lather Against Ebola" campaign to alert others to the need for hygiene to ward off the Ebola epidemic raging in neighbouring countries Abidjan (AFP) - Bringing a soapy twist to the "Ice Bucket Challenge" that has swept the world in recent weeks, Ivorians are raising awareness about the deadly disease outbreak in west Africa with a new "Lather Against Ebola" campaign.


Mystery illness plagues girls in Colombia

A teenage girl is brought to hospital in Carmen de Bolivar, Bolivar Province, Colombia, after fainting on September 2, 2014 El Carmen de Bolivar (Colombia) (AFP) - A mystery illness is plaguing girls in this town in northern Colombia, and locals say a vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV, is to blame.


Online volunteers map uncharted Ebola zones to help save lives

By Stella Dawson WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Donating to disasters used to mean writing a check to Oxfam or the Red Cross. These days in the Internet age, for the Ebola crisis, citizens from all over the world are donating their time by going online to build maps for relief workers. Call it crowd-sourced cartography that can save lives. ...

Pakistani woman embraced by Islamic State seeks to drop U.S. legal appeal

By David Ingram NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Pakistan-born neuroscientist has become a rallying cry for militant groups demanding her release from a U.S. prison. But in a little-noticed move she is trying to abandon her legal fight for freedom, saying the U.S. court system is unjust. Islamic militants in Syria, Algeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan have made Aafia Siddiqui's release a condition for freeing certain foreign hostages. Islamic State, for example, proposed swapping American journalist James Foley for her, but he was executed after their demands, which also included an end to U.S. ...

San Francisco lawmaker says he takes anti-HIV drug, urges wider use

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An openly gay San Francisco lawmaker went public on Wednesday with his daily use of a highly effective HIV-prevention drug and urged more at-risk city dwellers to do the same. Scott Wiener, a member of the city's Board of Supervisors, said in an op-ed published by the Huffington Post that he takes Truvada, in an effort to raise awareness about the drug's benefits. The pill, part of a therapy called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, can cut the likelihood of HIV infection for those at high risk by as much as 92 percent if taken daily, according to the U.S. ...

Fed signals plan to keep record low rate

In this Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 photo, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen arrives for a dinner during the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyo. Yellen will be pressed to clarify the Fed's intentions after the Fed issues its policy statement on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/John Locher) The Federal Reserve has renewed a pledge to keep interest rates near zero.


Wildfire in California's Sierra Nevada menaces 2,000 homes

A firefighter watches the King Fire burn near Fresh Pond By Alex Dobuzinskis and Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fire crews in California's rugged Sierra Nevada battled to gain the upper hand on Wednesday against a blaze that threatened at least 2,000 homes and has displaced hundreds of residents as flames roared for a fifth day through dry timber and brush west of Lake Tahoe. The so-called King Fire, the most menacing of 11 major wildfires across the drought-parched state, has scorched nearly 28,000 acres (11,331 hectares) of state land and the El Dorado National Forest since it erupted Saturday, fire officials said. ...


Over 2,000 homes threatened in California fire

The smoldering empty shell of a local library and a Head Start center are all that remain Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, the day after a wildfire swept through Weed, Calif. In just a few hours Monday, wind-driven flames destroyed or damaged roughly 100 homes, a saw mill and a church. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) WEED, Calif. (AP) — Teams of firefighters went house-to-house on Wednesday to pin down damage done by a wildfire that officials estimated had destroyed 110 homes and damaged another 90 in the small town of Weed while another Northern California blaze east of Sacramento was threatening more than 2,000 homes as it burned out of control, officials said.


Iran rules out cooperating with US in Iraq

FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014 file photo, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a joint news conference with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad. On Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, Zarif ruled out cooperating with the United States in helping Iraq fight Islamic State militants and warned that the terrorist group poses a much broader global threat that needs new thinking to eradicate. (AP Photo/Ahmed Saad, Pool) NEW YORK (AP) — Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday ruled out cooperating with the United States in helping Iraq fight Islamic State militants and warned that the terrorist group poses a much broader global threat that needs new thinking to eradicate.


Asia's rising tobacco epidemic

Three elderly men take a cigarette break, in Shanghai, on March 22, 2012 Smoke-filled bars and packed cancer wards reflect decades of neglect of no-smoking policies in Asia, where both high- and low-income countries are belatedly waking up to a growing tobacco-related health epidemic.


South Carolina father accused of killing kids feared them: report

By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON S.C. (Reuters) - The man accused of killing his five children in South Carolina and dumping their bodies in Alabama feared that they were going to chop him up and feed him to the dogs, a local television station reported, citing arrest records. Timothy Ray Jones Jr., 32, is being held in South Carolina on murder charges after he allegedly killed his children, ages 1 to 8, and then drove their bodies through five states before dumping them in Alabama, according to authorities. ...

School district police stock up free military gear

Texas middle school student tased by campus police School police departments across the country have taken advantage of free military surplus gear, stocking up on mine resistant armored vehicles, grenade launchers and scores of M16 rifles.


House approves arms, training for Syrian rebels

Secretary of State John Kerry appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to shore up President Barack Obama's strategy to combat Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. President Barack Obama reaffirmed Wednesday that he does not intend to send U.S. troops into combat against the Islamic State group, despite doubts about the ability of Iraqi forces, Kurdish fighters and Syrian rebels to carry out the ground fight on their own. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) The GOP-controlled House has voted to allow the U.S. military to train, arm Syrian rebels.


U.S. senators call for federal judge to resign over wife beating

(Reuters) - Three U.S. senators on Wednesday called for the resignation of a federal judge accused of beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel room last month. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, both Republicans of Alabama, joined Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, in calling for the resignation of Alabama-based U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller. “Judge Fuller’s unacceptable personal conduct violates the trust that has been placed in him. He can no longer effectively serve in his position and should step down,” Sessions said in a statement. ...

U.S. to begin Ebola hospital equipment lift to Liberia

Lindborg testifies before a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on "global efforts to fight Ebola"? on Capitol Hill in Washington By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first planeload of hospital equipment in the U.S. military's battle against West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak will arrive in Liberia on Friday, a senior administration official said on Wednesday. The United States hopes its expanded effort to contain the spread of the virus will help rally other countries in ramping up the global response to the epidemic, U.S. aid official Nancy Lindborg told a U.S. House of Representatives committee. ...


Texas executes woman convicted of starving nine-year-old

Texas Department of Criminal Justice photo of Lisa Ann Coleman By Brendan O'Brien (Reuters) - A woman convicted of the 2004 starving death of a 9-year-old boy was executed on Wednesday by lethal injection at a Texas state prison, authorities said. Lisa Ann Coleman, 38, was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m. CDT at the state's death chamber in Huntsville, said Robert Hurst, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Coleman was the second woman executed in the United States this year and the 15th since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. She was the 517th prisoner put to death in Texas, the most of any state, since 1976. ...


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford diagnosed with rare cancer

Toronto Mayor Ford makes his closing remarks during a mayoral debate hosted by the Canadian Tamil Congress in Scarborough (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a very rare and aggressive type of cancerous tumor in his abdomen, his doctor said on Wednesday, and the controversial municipal leader will start chemotherapy treatment within days. Ford, who made international headlines with his admission that he smoked crack cocaine while in office, was hospitalized last week after having unbearable abdominal pains. He dropped out of the city's hotly contested mayoral race last week. ...


Toronto Mayor Rob Ford diagnosed with rare cancer

Toronto Mayor Ford makes his closing remarks during a mayoral debate hosted by the Canadian Tamil Congress in Scarborough (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a very rare and aggressive type of cancerous tumor in his abdomen, his doctor said on Wednesday, and the controversial municipal leader will start chemotherapy treatment within days. Ford, who made international headlines with his admission that he smoked crack cocaine while in office, was hospitalized last week after having unbearable abdominal pains. He dropped out of the city's hotly contested mayoral race last week. ...


GSK melanoma pill backed by UK cost watchdog with price cut

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's healthcare cost agency NICE has recommended a third new drug for melanoma, this time from GlaxoSmithKline, after the drugmaker offered to supply it at a discount to the state-run National Health Service. GSK currently markets Tafinlar but the product will soon transfer to Novartis under a deal between the two companies to trade assets. Tafinlar is an oral medicine that works in a similar way to Roche's already recommended drug Zelboraf. Both target a specific gene mutation linked to around half of aggressive melanomas. ...

First French Ebola victim to be flown home from Liberia

Volunteers wearing t-shirts of the United Nations Development Programme show a placard to raise awareness about the symptoms of the Ebola virus to students in Abidjan, on September 15, 2014 Paris (AFP) - The first French Ebola patient was set to be flown home Thursday, as the World Bank warned the spiralling epidemic is threatening economic catastrophe in west Africa.


U.S. to begin Ebola hospital equipment lift to Liberia this week

Lindborg testifies before a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on "global efforts to fight Ebola"? on Capitol Hill in Washington By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first planeload of hospital equipment in the U.S. military's battle against West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak will arrive in Liberia on Friday, a senior administration official said on Wednesday. The United States hopes its expanded effort to contain the spread of the virus will help rally other countries in ramping up the global response to the epidemic, U.S. aid official Nancy Lindborg told a U.S. House of Representatives committee. ...


Obama vows no Iraq ground war

U.S. President Obama speaks after a military briefing at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Even after top general suggested troops could be deployed, president says airstrikes method of choice.


Police chiefs pledge more transparency after Ferguson

Police officers keep watch while demonstrators protest the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson By Fiona Ortiz CHICAGO (Reuters) - Dozens of police chiefs meeting in Chicago this week said a notorious fatal police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in August had been a defining moment for law enforcement and pledged greater transparency over such incidents. Speaking to Reuters in a group interview, the heads of police of Dallas, Chicago, Austin, Houston, Elk Grove, California, Boston, and Toronto, Canada said that every police shooting since Ferguson has been followed by protests. ...


Healthy Briton to be injected in Ebola vaccine trial

Dr Felicity Hartnell injects British volunteer Ruth Atkins with Ebola vaccine Chimp Adenovirus type 3 (ChAd3) at the Oxford Vaccine Group Centre for Clinical Vaccinology and Tropical Medicine (CCVTM) in Oxford on September 17, 2014 London (AFP) - A healthy British volunteer became the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus in a trial at the University of Oxford on Wednesday.


S.C. dad feared 5 slain kids would kill him: warrant

Timothy Ray Jones Jr., is escorted by lawmen out of the Smith County Jail in Raleigh, Miss., Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014 to a vehicle for transport to Lexington County, S.C., where is expected to be charged with murder in the deaths of his five children after he led authorities to a secluded clearing in Alabama, Tuesday, where their bodies were found wrapped in garbage bags. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) A South Carolina father who authorities said killed his five children believed the kids "were going to kill him, chop him up and feed him to the dogs," according to an unredacted arrest warrant released Wednesday.


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