Visa restrictions imposed on Russians, Crimeans...Neighbor testifies Pistorius tried to save girlfriend...Report: Fewer jobs lost in February



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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is imposing visa restrictions on Russians and Crimeans it says are "threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine." President Barack Obama also has signed an executive order authorizing sanctions against anyone "responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine." Next week the Senate could introduce legislation that would place hard-hitting sanctions on Russia for having its troops take over the Crimean region of Ukraine.

UNDATED (AP) — People in Ukraine's embattled region of Crimea will hold a referendum March 16 to decide whether they want to become a part of Russia. Meanwhile, leaders in the European Union are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels today to decide on sanctions against Russia. British Prime Minister David Cameron says Russia's actions "should have consequences." But German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AHN'-geh-lah MEHR'-kuhl) says sanctions should depend on what comes out of today's talks in Rome between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Sergey Lavrov.

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia's president has lifted the state of emergency that was put in place during the popular revolution three years ago. The state of emergency was imposed by the country's longtime president (Zine El Abidine Ben Ali), and was maintained after he was overthrown. It began with a ban on meetings of more than three people, but was relaxed over time. But it's continued to give the military and police special powers to intervene in unrest or security threats.

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A witness in the murder trial of South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius says the double-amputee runner knelt at the side of his girlfriend and prayed after he shot her in his home on Valentine's Day 2013. Radiologist Johan Stipp testified today that Pistorius struggled in vain to help model Reeva Steenkamp breathe, and says Pistorius told him, "'I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her.'" Pistorius has said he fired through a bathroom door at someone he thought had broken into his home. Prosecutors argue Pistorius shot Steenkamp after an argument.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits is at its lowest level in three months. It dropped 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, as layoffs remain at pre-recession levels. Economists are watching these numbers ahead of the February jobs report being released tomorrow. Cold weather and snowstorms appear to have limited hiring in January and December.

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