By Shelby Sebens PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Federal agents on Wednesday closed in on the last four anti-government militants still holed up at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon after a 40-day armed occupation protesting federal land control in the West. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said no shots have been fired and that negotiations to end the standoff without violence were continuing as the FBI escalated pressure on the protesters refusing to leave the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in remote eastern Oregon. It was not immediately clear how much further law enforcement officers would go in the latest confrontation, which the FBI said began after one of the protesters was seen riding an all-terrain vehicle outside the encampment.
By Sue Britt and Julia Edwards FERGUSON, Mo./WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department sued Ferguson, Missouri, on Wednesday to force the city to change its police department and court system after the federal government found both to be biased against minorities. The St. Louis suburb, a symbol of problems with policing and race in the United States, earlier on Wednesday said it wanted to change an agreement it had negotiated with the federal government due to the costs involved. "The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a news conference.
President Barack Obama paid a nostalgic visit on Wednesday to the place that launched his political career and made a renewed call for better relations between Republicans and Democrats to create a more positive tone in U.S. politics. Obama won the White House in 2008 partially on a promise to overcome partisan divides in Washington. On the ninth anniversary of his 2007 announcement in Springfield that he was running for president, Obama addressed Illinois lawmakers at the state Capitol where he once worked as a state senator in what he described as a collegial, friendly atmosphere.
Flint, Michigan, known for its drinking-water crisis, is also suffering a real-estate slump as the city's rate of vacant homes stands at the highest in the nation, pushing down house prices, according to a report released on Thursday. With fallout from the water emergency expected to send house prices lower, the vacancy rate may continue to rise, according to an executive at research firm RealtyTrac. "The water crisis didn't cause the root problem in Flint that's contributing to these high vacancy rates, but it's going to exacerbate the issue going forward," RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said.