Russia, Crimean politicians discuss referendum MOSCOW (AP) - Crimea would be welcome as an equal part of Russia if the region votes to leave Ukraine in an upcoming referendum, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament said Friday. Valentina Matvienko met with the head of the Crimean parliament to discuss the region's possible accession to Russia. On Thursday, the parliament of Crimea voted to move the referendum date up to March 16, and to include a question on joining Russia.
Obama's warnings brushed aside by Russia's Putin WASHINGTON (AP) - One by one, President Barack Obama's warnings to Russia are being brushed aside by President Vladimir Putin, who appears to only be speeding up efforts to formally stake his claim to Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. In the week since Obama first declared there would be "costs" if Putin pressed into Crimea, Russian forces have taken control of the region and a referendum has been scheduled to decide its future. Obama declared the March 16 vote a violation of international law, but in a region where ethnic Russians are the majority, the referendum seems likely to become another barrier to White House efforts to compel Putin to pull his forces from Crimea.
10 Things to Know-Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. WHY US SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA COULD BACKFIRE
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AP Exclusive: Man said to create bitcoin denies it LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto said Thursday that he is not the creator of bitcoin, adding further mystery to the story of how the world's most popular digital currency came to be. The denial came after Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story claiming Nakamoto is the person who wrote the computer code underpinnings of bitcoin.
Pistorius: former girlfriend testifies on gunplay PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - A former girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius testified Friday at the double-amputee runner's murder trial that he always carried a firearm and that their relationship ended when he cheated on her with Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he fatally shot last year. Samantha Taylor also said Pistorius carried a gun with him "all the time" when they were dating, and on one occasion he fired it out of a car's sunroof soon after a policeman stopped the car they were in for speeding.
International court convicts Congo rebel leader THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The International Criminal Court on Friday convicted a rebel leader of charges including murder and pillage over a deadly attack on a village in eastern Congo, but acquitted him of rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers. Germain Katanga showed no emotion as judges convicted him as an accessory in the attack on the strategic village of Bogoro on Feb. 24, 2003, in which some 200 civilians were hacked or shot to death and many women were raped and turned into sex slaves.
Opening statements to begin in general's sex trial FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - Opening statements were set to begin Friday in the court-martial of an Army general accused of sexually assaulting a captain under his command with whom he had a three-year affair. Prosecutors were expected to begin making their case against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair. His defense lawyers portray him as the victim of an overzealous military under intense political pressure to make an example of him.
Half of millennials more likely to lean Democratic WASHINGTON (AP) - Young adults like to think of themselves as independent, but when it comes to politics, they're more likely than not to lean to the left. Half of American adults ages 18 to 33 are self-described political independents, according to a survey out Friday, but at the same time half of these so-called millennials are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party, the highest share for any age group over the last decade.
AP PHOTOS: Women brick-makers in debt in Pakistan MANDRA, Pakistan (AP) - Amna Bhatti has spent half a century shaping mud into bricks in a huge kiln south of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. She started by paying off her parents' debt and now she's on to her late husband's. She'll probably spend the rest of her life here. Bhatti was 10 when she started working at the kiln to pay off her parents' debt. Now, at 60, she is paying off the 250,000 rupees (approximately $2,500) in debt her husband left behind when he died 12 years ago.
Darren Sharper returns to court seeking release LOS ANGELES (AP) - Darren Sharper will return to court on Friday where his attorneys will argue that the former NFL All-Pro safety should be released from a Los Angeles jail. Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.