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BC-AP News Digest 3:15 am

BC-AP News Digest 3:15 am


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Estimated read time: 7-8 minutes

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The world at 3:15 a.m. Times are EST.

At the Nerve Center, Dien Magno, Suzanne Boyle McCrory and Mike Stewart can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, ext. 1900. For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact apcustomersupport@ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

DEVELOPING

— SAT UPGRADE — Announcement scheduled at 2 p.m.

— IRS-INVESTIGATION — Hearing begins at 9:30 a.m.

— OBAMA — President's remarks at 3:45 p.m.

— NETANYAHU-CALIFORNIA — Signing of pro-business agreement at 1:30 p.m.

— SUPREME COURT-SECURITIES FRAUD — Arguments begin at 10 a.m.

— BEIGE BOOK — The Federal Reserve issues the Beige Book, its anecdotal snapshot of business conditions around the nation, covering January through late February. UPCOMING: 130 words after release of report at 2 p.m., 500 words by 3:30 p.m.

— ADP — Payroll processor ADP reports on job growth at U.S. companies in February. UPCOMING: 130 words after release of report around 8:15 a.m., 300 words by 9:15 a.m., photo.

— ECONOMY-SERVICES — The Institute for Supply Management, a group of purchasing managers, issues its index of non-manufacturing (service-sector) activity for February. UPCOMING: 130 words after release of report at 10 a.m., 400 words by 11 a.m., photo.

— US-UKRAINE — Soccer game starts at 1:30 p.m.

TOP STORIES

OBAMA-UKRAINE SCENARIO

WASHINGTON — Russia is likely to keep its military in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula indefinitely, analysts and former Obama administration officials say, forcing the United States and Europe into a more limited strategy of trying to prevent President Vladimir Putin from making advances elsewhere in the former Soviet republic. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 820 words, photos.

— UKRAINE-DIPLOMACY — Grasping for diplomatic exit, players in Ukraine crisis converge on Paris. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 600 words by 7 a.m.

OBAMA-BUDGET

WASHINGTON — Republicans are dismissing President Barack Obama's new $3.9 trillion budget as nothing more than a Democratic manifesto for this fall's congressional campaigns, but the fiscal plan is taking hits from another quarter too — anti-deficit groups. By Alan Fram. SENT: 850 words, photos.

— OBAMA-BUDGET-ANALYSIS — Analysis: Obama tries to have it both ways with election-year budget. SENT: 850 words, photos.

— OBAMA-BUDGET-AGENCIES — Agency-by-agency summary of Obama's budget. SENT: 4,660 words.

VENEZUELA-CHAVEZ

CARACAS, Venezuela — Hugo Chavez always claimed his socialist project would last decades, but a year after the Venezuelan president's death even some of his most fervent supporters have their doubts amid food shortages, high inflation and weeks of protests. By Fabiola Sanchez and Frank Bajak. SENT: 750 words, photos. UPCOMING: Update after memorial parade starts at 10 a.m., video, photos.

TEXAS ELECTION

AUSTIN, Texas — The first primary in what Republicans hope is a triumphant election year sends a message that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and the tea party still wield considerable influence in one of the nation's most conservative states. But to find out exactly how much, Texans will have to wait. While some incumbents successfully beat back tea party challengers, others backed by the outspoken freshman senator are moving on to runoffs. By Paul J. Weber. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 a.m., photos.

REDWOOD POACHERS

Authorities say unemployment and drug addiction have spurred an increase in the destructive practice of cutting off the knobby growths at the base of ancient redwood trees to make decorative pieces like lacey-grained coffee tables and wall clocks. The practice — known as burl poaching — has become so prevalent along the northern California coast that Redwood National and State Parks has started closing a popular scenic road at night in a desperate attempt to deter thieves. By Jeff Barnard. SENT: 640 words, photos.

— TOP PHOTO — FX101: A wildlife biologist stands next to a massive scar created by poachers on an old-growth redwood tree near Klamath, Calif.

?INTERNATIONAL

CHINA-ECONOMY

BEIJING — China's government promises sweeping reforms to promote sustainable growth in its slowing economy by opening state-dominated industries to private investment, making its banks more market-oriented and encouraging consumer spending. By Business Writer Joe McDonald. SENT: 780 words, photos.

— CHINA-POLITICS — China vows to fix choking smog, crack down on new terror threat as annual legislature opens. SENT: 500 words, photos.

PISTORIUS-TRIAL

PRETORIA, South Africa — The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius enters its third day, with a neighbor of the double-amputee athlete resuming his testimony. Charl Johnson told the court a day earlier that he heard screams and gunshots on the night Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp. By Gerald Imray and Christopher Torchia. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: 800 words by 5 a.m., updates through the day, photos, video.

— PISTORIUS-WITNESS — South African TV channel apologizes for broadcasting image of witness. SENT: 120 words, photos.

ISRAEL-WEST BANK GRIP

LUBBAN AL-SHARKIYEH, West Bank — Israel has issued demolition orders for several homes in this Palestinian village it says were built without permits. By contrast, the government is trying to retroactively legalize unauthorized construction in a nearby Jewish settlement. Critics say such unequal treatment, coupled with a rise in both settlement housing starts and demolition orders for Palestinian properties, signals an accelerated campaign by Israel to tighten its grip on key areas of the West Bank. By Karin Laub. SENT: 1,200 words, photos.

— ISRAEL-WEST BANK GRIP-GLANCE — Israel tightens control in key areas of West Bank. SENT: 350 words.

LEBANON-HOUSE OF CARDS

BEIRUT — Lebanese politicians are looking for tens of millions of dollars in aid at a Paris conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and world diplomats to help cope with a flood of refugees from the neighboring Syria's civil war. But while authorities plead for cash, Lebanon's house is hardly in order. There is little sign of reform for the collapsing economy in a country where the dysfunctional democracy been marred by nepotism, corruption and warlord-style governance ever since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990. By Barbara Surk. SENT: 1,000 words, photos. ? ? ? ?

WASHINGTON

FLOOD INSURANCE

WASHINGTON — Less than two years after Congress approved a landmark bill to overhaul the federal flood insurance program, lawmakers are poised to undo many of the changes in the face of complaints by homeowners in flood-prone areas about sharp premium increases. By Matthew Daly. SENT: 1,010 words, photo.

NATIONAL

NETANYAHU-CALIFORNIA

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning a swing through the Silicon Valley to meet with high tech leaders and sign a pro-business agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown. By Martha Mendoza. SENT: 130 words, photo. UPCOMING: Update from 1:30 p.m. signing, video, photos.

ENTERTAINMENT

ART-HUMAN HAMSTERS

NEW YORK — Ever feel like you're on a big hamster wheel and you can't get off? Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder know that feeling all too well. The two performance artists are spending 10 days living, eating and sleeping on a giant hamster wheel to make a larger point: We all have to work together to get through the daily grind. By Ula Ilnytzky. SENT: 380 words, photos.

GETTING ATTENTION

— SAT UPGRADE — College Board to announce first changes in SAT since 2005. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 550 words by 4 p.m. to update with announcement scheduled for 2 p.m. in Austin, Texas.

— OBAMA — Obama travels to Connecticut to push for raising minimum wage. SENT: 130 words, photo. UPCOMING: 500 words by 5:30 p.m. to update with Obama remarks at 3:45 p.m., photos.

— CHINA-BUS FIRE — 10 killed as bus catches fire in northeast China; country's 2nd deadly bus fire in less than a week. SENT: 150 words.

— OSCARS-TRAVOLTA APOLOGIZES — John Travolta apologizes to Idina Menzel for flubbing her name during Oscars telecast. SENT: 250 words, photos.

— SUPREME COURT-SECURITIES FRAUD — Supreme Court considers making it tougher to bring securities class-action lawsuits. SENT: 460 words. UPCOMING: 550 words by 1 p.m. to update with arguments beginning at 10 a.m.

— IRS-INVESTIGATION — House committee recalls former IRS official Lois Lerner, who refused to testify about tea party scandal. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words by noon to update from hearing beginning at 9:30 a.m.

— BLACK PANTHER RELEASED — Ex-Black Panther leader freed 4 decades after being convicted of killing Baltimore officer. SENT: 120 words.

— NEW ZEALAND-DEEP FISH — How deep can a fish go? Scientists say strange fish caught near New Zealand may provide answer. SENT: 480 words, photos.

— OBIT-NULAND — 'How We Die' author Nuland dies of prostate cancer in Conn. at 83; had 'beautiful life.' SENT: 500 words, photos.

— US-UKRAINE — With the country in turmoil, Ukraine's national soccer team says it is a symbol of the country's unity. The Ukrainians are scheduled to face the United States in an exhibition game on Wednesday night in a match moved to Cyprus for security reasons. SENT: 520 words, photos. UPCOMING: Game begins at 1:30 p.m.

___

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