Saying they do not take orders from Washington or Moscow, pro-Russia militants refused to end their occupation in eastern Ukraine on Friday. Russia, the European Union, Ukraine, and the United States signed an agreement in Geneva meant to help stabilize relations in the region, but the protesters said they would not abandon their mission while Ukraine's current government remains in place. Tensions had already mounted again between Moscow and Washington on the deal's language, with the U.S. ultimately deciding to deploy ground troops to Poland next week, as part of an expanded NATO presence in central and eastern Europe.
Pro-Russia militants ignore agreement between Russia, Ukraine
U.S. State Department delays Keystone XL decision
The State Department announced on Friday that it is extending the amount of review time federal agencies have in regard to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The extension likely means President Obama, who effectively has the final call on whether the pipeline moves forward in development through Nebraska, will not have to issue a decision until after the midterm elections. That timing drew ire from Republicans, who noted the process has already dragged on for five years. But officials said they need more time to determine whether Nebraska's legal wrangling could change Keystone's route, affecting the assigned agencies.
Captain of South Korean ferry charged, in custody
Cited for abandoning ship, negligence, causing bodily injury, not seeking rescue from other ships, and violating "seamen's law," Lee Joon Seok was taken into custody by South Korean police on Friday. If convicted, Seok could face as much as a life term in prison. Nearly 270 people are still missing from the sunken ferry, and divers who managed to enter the second deck on Friday were quickly forced back out by rough waters. "Absolutely, there could be areas in there where there is breathable air," Mike Dean, the U.S. Navy deputy director for salvage and diving, said. "But the trouble right now is the temperature and getting people to them."
Arts-and-crafts chain Michaels confirms security breach
Michaels, the nation's largest arts-and-crafts chain, announced on Thursday that more than 2.6 million debit and credit cards used at its stores between May 8, 2013 and January 27 of this year had been compromised in a security breach. While the attack apparently did not breach personal information such as names and PIN numbers, compromised data did include payment numbers and expiration dates. Subsidiary chain Aaron Brothers was also attacked, with about 400,000 customers' cards potentially compromised.
Nigerian military admits abducted girls have not been freed
Nigerian authorities backtracked on a Wednesday statement that said most of the girls kidnapped from a northeast boarding school had been freed. Officials now believe nearly 100 girls are still missing, although some parents put the number closer to 150 or even 200 missing girls. It is thought the girls were abducted by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which translates as "Western education is forbidden" — the group frequently attacks schools and other places of learning. The government's security forces, vigilante groups, local hunters and parents are all searching for the girls, who were taken on Monday night.
Four French journalists held captive in Syria freed
After nearly a year in captivity, an unknown group released four French journalists on Friday. President Francois Hollande's office said he felt "immense relief," and that the four men — Edourard Elias, Didier Francois, Nicolas Henin, and Pierre Torres — were in relatively good health, despite "very trying conditions." A Turkish news agency said soldiers on a routine patrol through the southeast Sanliurfa province found the men blindfolded and cuffed there; they had been dropped near the Turkey-Syria border.
Death toll at attacked South Sudan U.N. base rises to 58
A United Nations official said the death toll from a South Sudan attack on Thursday has risen to 58. Armed youths attacked a U.N. compound in the war-ravaged town of Bor. The mob killed 58 people and injured at least 100 more. Many of the people on the base are ethnic Nuers seeking shelter from fighting which has broken out across the country.
No injuries reported in strong Mexico earthquake
With tremors felt 165 miles away in Mexico City, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck near resort-town Acapulco on Friday morning. While officials patrolled the streets afterward checking for damage, no injuries were reported. "People started running out in the street. Street signs and street lights were waving back and forth," reported NPR's Jasmine Garsd. "It lasted for quite a bit."
Scientists discover cave-dwelling female bugs with penises
Researchers discovered cave-dwelling insects in Brazil, belonging to the rare Neotrogla genus, that possess sex-reversed genitalia. The females use an organ similar both structurally and functionally to a penis in order to penetrate the males' vagina-like opening, which houses their sperm. Researchers looking at the copulating insects found the couples mated for an average of 50 hours. They believe the findings could be used to test different hypotheses about sexual selection and the evolution of genitalia.
Surgeons remove 12 gold bars from Indian man's stomach
Surgeons called the three-hour operation to remove 12 gold bars from an Indian man's stomach earlier this month "tedious." Indeed: The 63-year-old businessman had told his doctor he swallowed a bottle cap out of anger, but when surgeons operated, they instead discovered the gold bars, weighing nearly a pound, total. India is the world's largest gold consumer, and people try to smuggle the substance into the country because of the high duty costs. "Finding gold in a patient's stomach was something unbelievable," Dr. CS Ramachandran, a senior surgeon at Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said.