Americans Ready for Super Bowl Sunday
Sunday is an unofficial holiday in the United States as millions of Americans gather in front of televisions for the annual National Football League championship; the Super Bowl.
This year's game is the 49th and features the defending champion Seattle Seahawks playing three-time winners the New England Patriots. The Patriots are making a record eighth Super Bowl appearance.
The official cost for tickets this year ranges from $800 to $1,900, but they are nearly impossible to get at those prices. Ticket brokers are charging several thousand dollars per ticket in the hours before game time.
However, most Americans will watch the game in bars and restaurants, and at traditional Super Bowl parties in homes across the nation.
Just as popular as the game are the television commercials, with sponsors presenting their most creative advertisements in hopes of boosting reputations and sales by reaching the huge audience. The cost of a 30-second ad this year is $4.5 million, with some companies buying several minutes of air time.
The halftime show is yet another major feature of the Super Bowl, with this year's entertainment provided by pop star Katy Perry. She is known for her lavish costumes, extravagant concerts and unique personality.
As for the game itself, the oddsmakers have made New England a slight favorite to beat the Seahawks in Sunday night's matchup at the University of Phoenix stadium in (Glendale,) Arizona (in the southwestern U.S.).
Peace talks between Ukraine and pro-Russia separatists went nowhere Saturday, as fighting raged in the country's east, killing both soldiers and civilians.
The talks in Minsk were adjourned after several hours. A statement from the Trilateral Contact Group said that the representatives from the rebel-held areas of Ukraine did not come to the talks prepared to discuss implementation of a cease-fire and withdrawal of heavy weapons. Instead, the group said the rebels wanted to revisit the Minsk Protocol that laid the groundwork for a cessation of hostilities.
The cease-fire the sides agreed to in September has been repeatedly violated and collapsed completely last week when rebels announced the start of a new offensive designed to expand their territory.
Shelling in the strategic transport hub of Debaltseve killed 12 civilians Saturday, according to the police chief of the rebel-held Donetsk region. Debaltseve is located northeast of the city of Donetsk, connecting it with Luhansk, another major rebel stronghold.
The government still retains primary control of the vital rail and road junction, which has been without water, power and gas for days.
In addition to the civilian deaths, Ukraine's defense minister, Stepan Poltorak, announced the deaths of 15 soldiers across the east in the past day of fighting with Russia-backed separatists.