Russia in patriotic fervor over Crimea MOSCOW (AP) - Russia was swept up in patriotic fervor Friday for bringing Crimea back into its territory, with tens of thousands of people thronging Red Square waving flags and chanting "Crimea is Russia!" as a parliamentary leader declared that the peninsula would be welcomed as an "equal subject" of Russia. The semi-autonomous region belongs to Ukraine, but the local parliament has called a March 16 referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia, a move President Barack Obama has called a violation of international law.
Russia, Ukraine feud over sniper carnage KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - One of the biggest mysteries hanging over the protest mayhem that drove Ukraine's president from power: Who was behind the snipers who sowed death and terror in Kiev? That riddle has become the latest flashpoint of feuding over Ukraine - with the nation's fledgling government and the Kremlin giving starkly different interpretations of events that could either undermine or bolster the legitimacy of the new rulers.
Blast of winter weather can't faze US employers WASHINGTON (AP) - Brutal winter weather snarled traffic, canceled flights and cut power to homes and factories in February. Yet it didn't faze U.S. employers, who added 175,000 jobs, far more than the two previous months. Modest but steady job growth has become a hallmark of a nearly 5-year-old economic rebound that remains sluggish yet strikingly resilient. The economy has been slowed by political gridlock, harsh weather and global crises. But those disruptions have not derailed growth.
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Militant grip transforms, terrorizes Syrian city BEIRUT (AP) - Once a vibrant, religiously mixed community, Syria's eastern city of Raqqa is now a shell of its former self, terrorized by hard-line militants who have turned it into the nucleus of their vision for the Islamic caliphate they hope one day to establish in Syria and Iraq. In rare interviews with The Associated Press, residents and activists in Raqqa describe a city where fear prevails. Music has been banned, Christians have to pay an Islamic tax for protection, people are executed in the main square and face-veiled women and pistol-wielding foreigners in Afghan-style outfits patrol the streets enforcing Shariah restrictions.
Kids rescued from surf: 'Mom tried to kill us' ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - After she drove her minivan into the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, authorities say a pregnant South Carolina woman tried to call off bystanders hustling to rescue her three screaming children from the water that was rushing in through the windows. Ebony Wilkerson, who was charged with attempted murder Friday, said "everyone was OK" and left the van with her children inside, an affidavit said. The bystanders and beach safety officers, paying no mind to her urgings, pulled the two girls and a boy, ages 3, 9 and 10, through the windows Tuesday on Daytona Beach.
Accuser recounts general's alleged sex assault FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - An Army captain who says she was sexually assaulted by a general has testified that twice during their three-year affair they got into arguments that ended with him forcing her to perform oral sex. The woman testified Friday that the assaults happened in Afghanistan in late 2011 as she grew more unhappy despondent in her relationship with Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair. She says one assault happened in her office and the second one occurred in the general's office several days later.
Pistorius trial hears damaging testimony PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - In a day of potentially damaging testimony, a former girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius said at his murder trial Friday that he once shot his gun out of a car sunroof and later cheated on her with the woman he killed last year. And a security guard recalled the athlete telling him everything was "fine" after neighbors reported gunshots coming from Pistorius' house on the night of her death. The gripping accounts capped the first week of the televised trial of the double-amputee Olympian, whose chief defense lawyer has tried to sow doubt about the testimony of neighbors who said they heard a woman's screams before gunshots. Proceedings have also focused on past incidents involving alleged gunplay, part of an apparent prosecution effort to portray Pistorius, 27, as a hothead who sometimes thought he was above authority.
APNewsBreak: FBI investigates prison company BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The FBI has launched an investigation of the Corrections Corporation of America over the company's running of an Idaho prison with a reputation so violent that inmates dubbed it "Gladiator School." The Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA has operated Idaho's largest prison for more than a decade, but last year, CCA officials acknowledged it had understaffed the Idaho Correctional Center by thousands of hours in violation of the state contract. CCA also said employees falsified reports to cover up the vacancies. The announcement came after an Associated Press investigation showed CCA sometimes listed guards as working 48 hours straight to meet minimum staffing requirements.
GOP pushes social issues at conservative showcase OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - Some of the GOP's most prominent conservatives insisted Friday that Republicans should emphasize hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage in this year's midterm elections, exposing an ideological divide within a party trying to capture the Senate and then the White House. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist pastor, set the tone early in the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Ukraine decides to compete in Paralympics in Sochi SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Ukraine will compete in the Winter Paralympics in Sochi despite Russia's military moves in Crimea. The Ukrainian Paralympic Committee decided against boycotting the games, announcing a few hours before Friday's opening ceremony that its athletes would stay.