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In our news wrap Thursday, two patients at a UCLA hospital have died from a “superbug” outbreak that has infected at least seven people; 170 others may have been exposed. Also, an arctic blast swept through the South, reaching Florida’s gulf coast and obliterating low temperatures records.
An arctic blast forecasters have dubbed the Siberian Express dipped all the way to Florida's Gulf Coast today, demolishing cold temperature records along the way.
From the Midwest, to the Deep South, the arctic blast brought dangerous, record-breaking cold to much of the U.S. today; 27 states are now under windchill warnings or advisories, more than 100 million Americans shivering in a deep freeze.
In Chicago, the windchill dipped to about 30 degrees below zero. The frigid temperatures led to transportation delays and school cancellations.
But there was no such luck for Gabe Wolter, in Oak Park, Illinois, on his way to his fourth grade classroom.
GABE WOLTER, Student:
I put on my ski goggles and my scarf, just so no wind could get to my face.
And are you feeling pretty good right now?
North of Boston, an area already hammered by winter, crews fought blowing snow to rescue a dog that had fallen through the ice. In the nation's capital, some braved the cold to see the monuments, or even go for a run.
It's been cold enough that my iPhone's stopped working. It's giving me a message that says that it's too cold to operate in this temperature. So it must be pretty cold.
Elsewhere, large swathes of the Great Lakes are now iced over, the second smallest, Lake Erie, more than 90 percent frozen and parts of the famed Niagara Falls a frozen cascade now. Meantime, the National Weather Service predicts even colder temperatures are on the way.
Despite the cold covering much of the U.S., the first month of the year turned out to be the second warmest January on record around the world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released that data today. California is having its warmest and driest winter on record. A superbug outbreak has infected at least seven patients at a Los Angeles hospital, two of whom died. More than 170 others may have been exposed. The incidents occurred at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center between October and January. The bacteria is resistant to most antibiotics, and can trigger bladder or lung infections. Hospital officials suspect contaminated medical instruments were to blame.
Hundreds of products are being pulled off grocery shelves after traces of peanut were found in cumin spice. The Food and Drug Administration warned anyone with peanut allergies to stay away from foods that use cumin or cumin powder. It's commonly found in taco seasoning and chili powder. Recalls of products have picked up steam since December, as more foods containing cumin are discovered.
The validity of a truce in Ukraine kept on crumbling today, as shelling and fighting between government forces and Russian-backed separatists spread.
Alex Thomson of Independent Television News filed this report from Debaltseve. The war has come back to Donetsk. The pounding began around 7:00 a.m. and hasn't stopped since, Ukrainian artillery.
WOMAN (through interpreter):
It's obviously peace hasn't come. These explosions prove that the deal's been breached. I don't know who I can look to for hope when these top-level agreements have failed.
Unquestionably, it is the most intense bombardment in this regional capital city since Saturday's so-called cease-fire, fighting around Donetsk, fighting near the southern city of Mariupol and of course around the bitterly fought-over town of Debaltseve.
In one part of Debaltseve, the rebels make their feelings plain about the Ukrainian flag, across the lines, Ukrainians embracing, glad to be out of the hell that was Debaltseve for them.
MAN (through interpreter):
They were shelling almost the entire town. Starting at night, they would fire at us just to stop us from sleeping. ALEX THOMSON: Significantly, Ukrainian soldiers who survived Debaltseve are openly critical of their commanders.
The planned withdrawal, that's ridiculous, that's nonsense, planned. As usual, they screwed up.
Rebels may control Debaltseve city, but all around it, the rumble of heavy shelling this morning. Ukraine's now calling for the U.N. to come in, but will they get any further than these European monitors, so often stopped by both sides from doing their job?
Russia's ambassador to the U.N. today denounced the demand for U.N. peacekeepers, saying it is Ukraine's responsibility to maintain the latest cease-fire agreement.
The U.S. signed a deal with Turkey to train and arm Syrian rebels who are fighting Islamic State militants. Talks went on for several months before the agreement was formally signed by the U.S. ambassador to Turkey tonight. Training by U.S. and Turkish soldiers could begin as early as next month.
The Greek government came forward today with its request for a six-month extension of its rescue loan. But German officials quickly rejected it, calling it a Trojan horse for shirking its commitments and leaving too much open for interpretation.
The German minister for economic affairs spoke in Berlin.
SIGMAR GABRIEL, Economic Minister, Germany (through interpreter):
This offer is insufficient because it lacks all specific measures in Greece. And that cannot happen. We cannot make it easier in Greece on the shoulders of German and European taxpayers. Over the next days, especially tomorrow, we need to negotiate further to find an agreement on specific measures. The proposal can only be the start of talks.
Greece's current bailout expires at the end of this month. If the parties can't reach an agreement before then, the Greek government faces bankruptcy.
It was a mostly cautious day on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 44 points to close just under 18000. The Nasdaq gained 18 points. And the S&P 500 slipped two.
Wal-Mart, the country's largest private employer, is giving raises to nearly half-a-million of its U.S. workers. Over the next six months, full-time employees will get $13 an hour, and part-time workers will receive $10 an hour. Wal-Mart has faced criticism from labor groups and its own work force for poor compensation and benefits. The new wages still fall short of the national average for hourly retail workers.
President Obama designated three new national monuments today. He went to his hometown of Chicago to create the Pullman National Monument in the historic South Side neighborhood where African-American railroad workers won a key labor agreement. He also designated Browns Canyon National Monument, 21,000 acres along the Arkansas River in Colorado. And he created the Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp that held Japanese-American citizens during World War II.
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