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US warns against 'dangerous escalation'...EU may freeze talks...Temporary slowdown?

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration says any Russian threat to Ukraine's navy would be a "dangerous escalation" of an extremely tense situation. The State Department says Washington would hold Moscow directly accountable. Earlier today, a Ukrainian military spokesman said Russia had issued an ultimatum to the crews of two Ukrainian warships in Crimea, demanding that they immediately surrender or be stormed and seized. Secretary of State John Kerry is leaving for Ukraine late today and then will travel to France and Italy.

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is threatening to freeze some talks with Russia and boycott the G8 summit in Sochi if Moscow does not deescalate the crisis in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula by Thursday. France's foreign minister says the EU will give Russia until an emergency summit of EU leaders is held on Thursday to show clear signs of goodwill, including a willingness to open talks and a withdrawal of Russian troops to their barracks in Crimea.

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The first witness at the murder trial of South African double-amputee track star Oscar Pistorius (pihs-TOHR'-ee-uhs) is disputing his version of what happened on the night his girlfriend was shot and killed. Pistorius has said he killed Reeva Steenkamp by mistake, thinking she was a dangerous intruder. But prosecutors say he shot and killed her after a fight. The witness who testified today, a woman nearby, says she heard a woman's screams, followed by four gunshots. Pistorius has said he didn't hear anyone screaming.

DETROIT (AP) — Automakers will find out this month whether the slowdown in auto sales in the first couple of months this year was due to the historic cold temperatures and snowfall. The numbers for February are out today, and GM, Ford and Toyota are all reporting U.S. sales declines. But they say the sales began to pick up again in the second half of the month.

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is back on top of the list of the world's richest people after a four-year hiatus. Forbes magazine announced its ranking of the world's billionaires today. Gates, who led the list for 15 of the past 20 years, won the spot back from a Mexican telecom mogul who had topped the list for the past four years. Gates' net worth is estimated at $76 billion. Forbes says a record 1,645 billionaires made the list this year, with an average net worth of $4.7 billion.

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