Estimated read time: 9-10 minutes
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Here's a look at how AP's general news coverage is shaping up today. Some plans are subject to change.
Among today's coverage highlights as we see them at 1545 GMT:
-- UKRAINE-DIPLOMACY (sent; developing)
-- UKRAINE-FEARS FROM THE PAST (upcoming)
-- ISRAEL-IRAN (sent; developing)
-- CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC-SMALL TOWN BETRAYAL (upcoming)
-- PISTORIUS TRIAL (sent)
-- DISABLED CRUISE SHIP (upcoming)
-- HIV-BABY CURE? (HOLD FOR RELEASE, 1730 GMT)
PHOTOS: ASH WEDNESDAY-PHOTO GALLERY (upcoming; with text block); ART-HUMAN HAMSTERS (sent; with text and video)
VIDEO: NY_HUMAN_HAMSTERS (sent; with text and photos).
Here are details of those stories, plus others we have in the works for today and notable pieces that we sent in the past 10 hours:
UKRAINE-DIPLOMACY - The EU prepared a $15 billion aid package to Ukraine on Wednesday and froze the assets of 18 people blamed for looting the treasury of the nearly bankrupt country. The moves came as top diplomats from the West and Russia gathered in Paris to defuse tensions that have approached Cold War levels. SENT: 810 words, photos. UPCOMING: Updates through the day.
UKRAINE - Ukraine's new prime minister said Wednesday that embattled Crimea must remain part of Ukraine, but may be granted more local powers. In his first interview since taking office last week, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the AP that a special task force should be established "to consider what kind of additional autonomy the Crimean Republic could get." SENT: 710 words, photos.
UKRAINE -FEARS FROM THE PAST - Fear runs deep in Russian-speaking Ukraine, nurtured by both history and propaganda, and where the new government in Kiev is widely distrusted. If some Russian-speaking Ukrainians are quietly angry to see armed Russian soldiers in the streets, many see them as protectors from a distant government they deeply fear. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 2000 GMT.
OBAMA-UKRAINE SCENARIO- Russia is likely to keep its military in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula indefinitely, analysts and former Obama administration officials say. SENT: 820 words, photos.
US-UKRAINE - With the country in turmoil, Ukraine's national soccer team faces the U.S. in an exhibition game in a match moved to Cyprus for security reasons. SENT: 520 words, photos. UPCOMING: Updates from game beginning at 1830 GMT
ISRAEL-IRAN - Israeli naval forces raided a ship in the Red Sea early Wednesday and seized dozens of advanced rockets from Iran destined for Palestinian militants in Gaza that would have significantly boosted their ability to strike Israeli citizens, the military said. SENT: 1,020 words. UPCOMING: Developing.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC-SMALL TOWN BETRAYAL - The swarm of people showed up on their deputy mayor's doorstep late on a Friday morning, around the time of the Muslim prayers. By then, it no longer mattered that the mayor called him a brother, or that his family had lived in Mbaiki for almost a century, or that his wife was seven months pregnant. It only mattered that he was Muslim. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 1900 GMT, photos.
PISTORIUS-TRIAL- Pistorius asked a friend to take the blame after a pistol was accidentally fired in a restaurant, weeks before the double-amputee runner fatally shot his girlfriend, a witness testified Wednesday at Pistorius' murder trial. SENT: 650 words, photos.
- PISTORIUS-WITNESS - South African TV channel apologizes for broadcasting image of witness. SENT: 120 words, photos
UN-SYRIA-RIGHTS - Evidence shows chemical weapons used in two attacks came from the Syrian government's stockpiles, a panel of U.N. investigators said Wednesday in a new report that needled world powers as deserving some of the blame for the country's atrocities because of their inaction. SENT: 470 words.
VATICAN-POPE - Pope Francis finds the hype that is increasingly surrounding him "offensive," according to an interview published Wednesday. SENT: 470 words.
VENEZUELA-CHAVEZ - 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. SENT: 750 words, photos. UPCOMING: Update after memorial parade starts at 1500 GMT, photos.
CHINA-POLITICS - China's government vows to press long-sought market reforms, defend against terrorism after a horrific slashing attack, and heavily boost military spending amid rising tensions with Japan. SENT: 920 words, photos.
NETANYAHU-CALIFORNIA - He is planning a swing through the Silicon Valley to meet with high tech leaders and sign a pro-business agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown. SENT: 130 words, photo. UPCOMING: Update from 1830 GMT. signing, video, photos.
QATAR-GULF AMBASSADORS - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recall their ambassadors from Qatar in an unprecedented move. SENT: 670 words, photos.
ISRAEL-WEST BANK GRIP - 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. 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 -Lebanese politicians are looking for tens of millions of dollars in aid 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. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.
- SYRIA - Syria says Israel fires tank shells into its territory, in latest border incident. SENT: 740 words.
INDIA-ELECTIONS - India says it will hold national elections from April 7 to May 12, kicking off a vote that many observers see as the most important election in more than 30 years in the world's largest democracy. SENT: 880 words, photos.
CHINA-BUS FIRE - A fire on a crowded passenger bus kills at least 10 people and injures 17 in the country's second deadly bus fire in less than a week. SENT: 150 words.
CHINA-TRAIN STATION ATTACK - A Chinese official says the eight suspects in a knife attack that killed 29 people at a train station waged the assault after they were unable to leave the country to join a "holy war," state media report. SENT: 260 words.
AUSTRALIA-NKOREA - An Australian missionary detained in North Korea for trying to spread Christianity says he was interrogated for four hours a day. SENT: 120 words.
JAPAN-IRAN - Iran's foreign minister pushes back against calls for deeper cuts to its nuclear program. SENT: 310 words, photos.
PHILIPPINES-VICE MAYOR — Philippine government forces search for a town's vice mayor after her family reported that she had been abducted. ENT: 250 words.
DISABLED CRUISE SHIP - About three dozen passengers aboard the ill-fated Carnival Triumph cruise ship that drifted at sea for days are hoping to collect thousands of dollars each as a result of lingering medical and mental issues they claim were caused by their experience. UPCOMING: 750 words by 2030 GMT
LEGALIZING MARIJUANA - Washington issues its first legal marijuana business license as the state prepares to open pot stores to the public this summer. UPCOMING: 500 words by 1900 GMT, photos.
BIN LADEN SPOKESMAN - Opening statements in the trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, who is accused of conspiring to kill Americans and support terrorists in his role as al-Qaida spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: updates from late morning start, then 700 words by 2230 GMT, photos.
TEXAS GOVERNOR'S RACE -Texas Republicans picked the state's attorney general in the fight to succeed longtime Gov. Rick Perry, while a rising Democratic star coasted to her party's nomination. The results set up a bitter battle for the political heart of the second most populous U.S. state. Sent: 650 words, photos.
OBAMA BUDGET - Republicans are dismissing President Barack Obama's new $3.9 trillion budget as nothing more than a Democratic manifesto for this year's congressional campaigns, but the fiscal plan is taking hits from another quarter too — anti-deficit groups. SENT: 710 words, photos.
HIV-BABY CURE? (HOLD FOR RELEASE, 1730 GMT) - A second baby born with the AIDS virus has had her infection put into remission and possibly cured by very early treatment — in this case, four hours after birth. UPCOMING: HOLD FOR RELEASE, 1730 GMT; 600 words, photo.
AIDS-GENE THERAPY (HOLD FOR RELEASE, 2000 GMT) - Scientists have genetically modified blood cells of HIV patients to help them resist the AIDS virus, and say the treatment appears safe and promising. UPCOMING: HOLD FOR RELEASE,2000 GMT.; 600 words.
SUGAR GUIDELINES - The World Health Organization invites the public to weigh in on new guidelines that recommend lowering the amount of sugar in our daily diet to combat obesity and tooth decay. UPCOMING: Developing from briefing scheduled for 10 a.m.; 400 words, photos.
BUTTERFLY WINGS (HOLD FOR RELEASE, 1 p.m.) - Some tasty butterflies resemble their unpalatable cousins as a ruse to fool predators. Only recently have scientists been unraveling how they do that, and now researchers have identified the gene that does the trick for an Asian swallowtail. UPCOMING: HOLD FOR RELEASE, 1800 GMT, 250 words, photo.
NEW ZEALAND-DEEP FISH - They may look like guts stuffed in cellophane, but five fish hauled up from near-record depths off the coast of New Zealand are providing scientists with new insights into how deep fish can survive. SENT: 500 words, photos.
BUSINESS / ECONOMY
TARGET-PERSONNEL - Target Corp. Chief Information Officer Beth Jacob is resigning effective Wednesday as the retailer overhauls its information security and compliance division in the wake of a massive pre-Christmas data breach. SENT: 230 words.
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 1900 GMT, 400-500 words by 2100 GMT.
CHINA-ECONOMY - China's government pledges to promote sustainable growth by opening state-dominated industries to private investment and making banks more market-oriented while keeping this year's economic expansion at a relatively robust 7.5 percent. SENT: 900 words, photos.
AUSTRALIA-QANTAS - Australia's government rejects a request from Qantas Airways for a $2.7 billion unsecured loan to help the national carrier return to profitability. SENT: 440 words.
FOOD-FRANCE-FRENCHIE - From orphanage kitchen to Paris foodie empire, wandering chef gives street a life of its own. SENT: 1,400 words, photos.
PETS-BARKING - Dogs will bark, howl or whine if they are bored, afraid or anxious, animal trainers say. Neighbors will squawk if dogs bark incessantly and they seldom care about a cause. UPCOMING: 800 words by 1900 GMT, photos.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
ART-HUMAN HAMSTERS - 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. SENT: 380 words, photos, video.
BEYONCE'S DAD-CHILD SUPPORT A judge approved a substantial cut in the amount of child support that Beyonce Knowles' father must pay because his income dropped after his superstar daughter fired him as her manager. SENT: 200 words.
ASH WEDNESDAY-PHOTO GALLERY - A photo gallery showcasing a handful of Ash Wednesday services and images from around the world. UPCOMING: photos, 120 words.
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