U.S. retailers' January same-store sales review

Feb 4 Click on tmsnrt.rs/1QJwCb6 for a Thomson Reuters report that reviews U.S. retailers' January same-store sales. (Bengaluru Newsroom +91 80 6749 1130; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780)

Read more

Unclaimed dogs shot by Oklahoma shelter, igniting uproar

OKLAHOMA CITY An animal shelter in an Oklahoma town that has euthanized dogs by shooting them is under intense criticism by residents, and the mayor said on Thursday the practice is rare but would be stopped while the shelter is investigated.Residents of Bristow, a town of about 4,200 people southwest of Tulsa, have accused the animal shelter of fatally shooting at least three dogs in the past week and have petitioned the mayor to end the practise."We are not going to shoot dogs anymore and we will try to work with local vets to help us," Bristow Mayor Leonard Washington said. "Shooting dogs is not a common practice, and this was a rare situation." Oklahoma law requires that animals be euthanized in a humane fashion, but does not define humane. For cities under 10,000 people, the law allows for “any humane method” to euthanize shelter animals.Washington told local media that shooting the animals was legal. He said an animal control officer decided whether to take an animal to a vet for euthanasia or use a gun to end its life. "The city and the animal control officer have an excess of euthanasia solutions on hand to use, but the animal control officer chooses to use a bullet over the solutions because ...'it's cheaper',” said resident Beth Roberts, who is fighting state laws that can allow animal control officers to euthanize strays with guns.According to the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, the most accepted form of humane euthanasia is by injection but many rural communities lack resources when dealing with stray animals. “We are a proponent of humane methods, and shooting would not be something we endorse," said Sue Della Maddalena, president and chief executive of the Central Oklahoma Humane Society. (Reporting by Heide Brandes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

Read more

Some University of Southern California faculty vote to unionize

About 100 part-time and contract faculty at the University of Southern California voted to become the latest non-tenured U.S. professors to unionize amid complaints of low pay and poor job security, but 300 others did not, a union said Tuesday.About 100 instructors at two divisions of the school, focused on the arts and international students, voted to affiliate with the Service Employees International Union, spokesman Mike Long. They join non-tenured colleagues at numerous U.S. universities who have organized, including at University of Chicago, Boston University, Loyola University Chicago, Georgetown and Tufts University."What we're fighting for is not just better wages and decent living conditions, but also for the possibility of greater participation in the life of the school," said Noura Wedell, who teaches critical studies in the Los Angeles-based university's Roski School of Art and Design. But another group of about 300 professors at the university's larger Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, declined to join the union in a close vote, Long said.Provost Michael Quick, who opposed the unionization effort, said the university is offering higher salaries than the union has negotiated at other colleges, and offers benefits to any who work half-time. The university has also improved job security by offering multi-year contracts to those who are not on track for tenure, he said. Like many private universities struggling as their endowments took a hit during the financial crisis, USC has relied more on part-time and contract faculty, and less on the relatively better paid professors who are on track to achieve full tenure, or lifetime employment. USC is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles, with 6,624 faculty members and about 25,000 jobs total. About 1,180 faculty have the lifetime protections of tenure, while another 315 are on track to receive the benefit, according to data provided by the university.But whereas star tenured professors can pull down six-figure salaries, adjunct lecturers at USC make between $3,840 and $10,000 per course they teach, according to the Adjunct Project, which tracks work issues for non-tenure professors. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Read more

Syrian army presses Aleppo attack as U.N. envoy meets government

BEIRUT/AMMAN/GENEVA The Syrian army threatened rebel supply lines into the northern city of Aleppo on Tuesday as a U.N. envoy met government representatives to try to advance peace talks rendered almost impossible by the continued fighting.A rebel commander told Reuters he was deploying reinforcements including U.S.-made anti-tank missiles to the Aleppo frontline for what he described as a "decisive battle" in northern Syria near the Turkish border. U.N. envoy Staffan De Mistura announced the formal start of Syria peace talks on Monday, the first attempt in two years to negotiate an end to a war that has killed 250,000 people and caused a refugee crisis in the region and Europe.De Mistura's announcement, made after he met the main Syrian opposition council, drew an immediate rebuke from the opposition, which said it had not and would not negotiate unless the government stopped bombarding civilian areas, lifted blockades and released detainees.Its conditions were steps outlined in a Dec. 18 Security Council resolution, but De Mistura reiterated late on Monday that only world powers could bring about ceasefires.The refugee crisis and spread of the jihadist Islamic State through large areas of Syria, and from there to Iraq, has injected a new urgency to resolve the five-year-old Syria war.But the chances of success, always very slim, appear to be receding ever more as the government presses attacks near Aleppo and elsewhere, and with tensions running high among regional and powers drawn into the conflict, notably Saudi Arabia and Iran.Supported by Russian air strikes, the Syrian government is advancing against rebels in several areas of western Syria where the country's main cities are located.The attack north of Aleppo that began in recent days is the first major government offensive there since the start of the Russian air strikes on Sept. 30.The area is strategic to both sides. Its safeguards a rebel supply route from Turkey into opposition-held parts of the city and stands between government-held parts of western Aleppo and the Shi'ite villages of Nubul and al-Zahraa which are loyal to Damascus.The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reports the war using a network of sources on the ground, said the army and allied fighters captured more areas to the northwest of Aleppo on Tuesday. "DECISIVE BATTLE"The advancing forces seized the village of Hardatnin some 10 km (six miles) northwest of Aleppo, the Observatory said, building on gains the previous day. Syrian state media also reported the advance. Aleppo, once Syria's biggest city and commercial center, is divided between areas controlled separately by the government and opposition.The rebel commander said the Russian air force was mounting heavy air strikes in the area."We sent new fighters this morning, we sent heavier equipment there. It seems it will be a decisive battle in the north God willing," said Ahmed al Seoud, head of a Free Syrian Army group known as Division 13. "We sent TOW missile platforms. We sent everything there," he told Reuters. U.S.-made TOW missiles, or guided anti-tank missiles, are the most potent weapon in the rebel arsenal and have been supplied to vetted rebel groups as part of a program of military support overseen by the Central Intelligence Agency.A correspondent with the pro-government Al Mayadeen TV embedded with the army said there had been 150 air strikes in the last two days. A tank and armored vehicle were shown driving through a road in a largely destroyed village.The sound of jets and crackle of automatic gunfire could be heard during a broadcast by the pro-opposition Orient TV.The Russian intervention has reversed the course of the war for Damascus, which suffered a series of major defeats to rebels in western Syria last year before Moscow deployed its air force as part of an alliance with Iran.In an interview with Reuters, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Russian President Vladimir Putin was undermining international efforts to end the war by bombing opponents of Islamic State in an attempt to bolster Assad. OPPOSITION WARY OF ENVOY"The Russians say let's talk, and then they talk and they talk and they talk. The problem with the Russians is while they are talking they are bombing, and they are supporting Assad," Hammond said.Western states opposed to Assad, including the United States and Britain, piled pressure on the opposition to attend the Geneva talks which have been beset by problems including a row over who should be invited to negotiate with Damascus.In the latest downbeat opposition assessment, lead opposition negotiator Mohamad Alloush said he was not optimistic. "Nothing has changed in the situation on the ground so as long as the situation is like this we are not optimistic," he told reporters. "There are no good intentions from the regime's side to reach a solution."He was speaking minutes before a government delegation arrived at U.N. headquarters in Geneva to meet De Mistura to discuss a proposal on humanitarian issues.De Mistura said on Monday the responsibility of agreeing ceasefires across Syria lay with major powers and that his remit was only to hold talks on a U.N. resolution on elections, governance and a new constitution.All previous diplomatic efforts have failed to stop the war.Complicating the efforts, opposition mistrust of de Mistura is running deep: "The fact is the opposition have a lot of distrust in de Mistura. They have become extremely wary," a Western diplomat said. (Additional reporting by Kinda Makieh in Geneva; writing by Tom Perry; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Read more

Two Virginia Tech students charged in death of 13-year-old girl

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Two Virginia Tech engineering students were in jail on Sunday, one charged with abducting and killing a 13-year-old girl and the other accused of helping to dispose of the teenager's body, police said.The arrests came after police, following an extensive four-day search, on Saturday found the remains of Nicole Lovell in North Carolina, about 90 miles south of Blacksburg, Virginia, where her home and the university are located.Lovell had been missing from her family's home since Wednesday. A family member told the Roanoke Times it appeared she had climbed out a first-floor window.How she crossed paths with David E. Eisenhauer, 18, a freshman from Columbia, Maryland, and member of the university's cross county team, was not immediately clear.But police in Blacksburg, about 40 miles west of Roanoke, Virginia, said investigators had determined the two teens became acquainted prior to her disappearance. Eisenhauer took advantage of that relationship to abduct and kill Lovell, they said in a statement.Police have not said how Lovell died. Eisenhauer was arrested at his campus residence on Saturday, first charged with abduction and then accused of murder after Lovell's remains were discovered near a highway in Surry County, North Carolina.Natalie Marie Keepers, 19, a sophomore at Virginia Tech from Laurel, Maryland, was arrested on Sunday and charged with improper disposal of a dead body and accessory after the fact in the commission of a felony."I'm so in shock I know nothing more to say," the girl's father, David Lovell, said on Facebook. "I'm broken!" Family members had pleaded for Nicole Lovell's return, saying she was without the prescription medicine she needed daily after undergoing a liver transplant.Authorities said the investigation was ongoing as they worked to piece together the timeline of events leading to Lovell's death.A Virginia Tech spokeswoman would not comment on the enrollment status of Eisenhauer and Keepers, but the university said in a statement it had the authority to suspend students immediately on an interim basis in the case of a felony arrest. Hundreds of students in the university's Corps of Cadets, along with students and researchers using drones, assisted in the search for Lovell, the school said. (Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Louise Heavens and Dan Grebler)

Read more
Older Post