Estimated read time: 10-11 minutes
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Good morning! Here's a look at how AP's general news coverage is shaping up today. Some plans are subject to change; see the 2 p.m. News Digest for updates. You can find our contact info at the bottom of this advisory.
Among today's coverage highlights as we see them at 10:15 a.m. EST:
-- UKRAINE (sent; developing)
-- MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT (sent; developing)
-- ARMY GENERAL-SEX CHARGES (sent; developing)
-- LEBANON-FIGHTING HEZBOLLAH (upcoming)
-- EL NINO (sent)
-- PISTORIUS TRIAL (sent)
-- GIRL SCOUTS-BARBIE (sent)
-- HOUSE-EPA-POWER PLANTS (upcoming)
-- PAKISTAN-SCHOOL FROM SCRATCH (sent)
-- WEALTH GAP-SILICON VALLEY (sent)
-- CASTING JESUS (upcoming)
PHOTOS: FLORIDA DANCE GROUP-PHOTO ESSAY (sent; with text block)
VIDEO: PISTORIUS_HEARING (sent; with text and photos); DALAI_LAMA_SENATE (sent)
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 (all times EST):
UKRAINE - Lawmakers in Crimea called a March 16 referendum on whether to break away from Ukraine and join Russia instead, voting unanimously Thursday to declare their preference for doing so. SENT: 890 words, photos.
CONGRESS-UKRAINE - U.S. Congress rushes to put in place hard-hitting sanctions on Russia in response to its takeover of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. SENT: 790 words, photos. UPCOMING: 150 words by 11 a.m. and developing from there.
UNITED STATES-UKRAINE - The Obama administration slapped new visa restrictions Thursday on pro-Russian opponents of the new Ukraine government in Kiev and cleared the way for financial sanctions as the West began punishing Moscow for its occupation of Ukraine's Crimea region. SENT: 730 words. UPCOMING, 880 words, 4 p.m. EST.
UKRAINE-DIPLOMACY - Russia will face sanctions over its military incursion in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula unless it withdraws its troops or engages in credible talks to defuse the situation, European leaders said Thursday. SENT: 610 words, photos.
UKRAINE-DIPLOMACY-GLANCE - A look at pledged, planned and recalled financial aid for Ukraine by the US, the EU and Russia. SENT: 710 words, photos.
RUSSIA-UNEASY NEIGHBORS - A look at how Russia has fared in bringing other former Soviet neighbors under its thumb. SENT: 870 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. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos by 3 p.m.
PISTORIUS-TRIAL - As the girlfriend he shot lay dead or dying in his home, a weeping, praying Oscar Pistorius knelt at her side and struggled in vain to help her breathe by holding two fingers in her clenched mouth, a witness testified Thursday at the double-amputee runner's murder trial. SENT: 770 words, photos.
LEBANON-FIGHTING HEZBOLLAH - The fierce battle for a strategic rebel stronghold town in Syria has virtually erased the border between Syria and Lebanon. That raises the dangerous potential for the battle itself to move directly into Lebanon. UPCOMING: 900 words by 4 p.m., photos.
CHINA-POLLUTION - China's leaders, under pressure from the public to reduce pollution like never before, are rebalancing their priorities. How to best do that is a topic for discussion at this week's ceremonial legislature in Beijing. SENT: 840 words, photos.
- CHINA-ECONOMY-JOBS - China's finance minister says priority is jobs, growth might be lower than 7.5 percent target. SENT: 100 words.
KOREAS-TENSION - South Korean officials criticize a North Korean artillery launch they say happened minutes before a Chinese commercial plane reportedly carrying 202 people flew in the same area. SENT: 500 words.
SOMALIA-MASS GRAVES -Tens of thousands of skeletons may lie in mass graves here, on the northern edge of Somalia, where many want to see justice prevail, even if delayed. UPCOMING: 680 words by 2 p.m., photos.
LIBYA - Niger extradites to Libya one of Moammar Gadhafi's sons, al-Saadi, who fled as his father's regime crumbled in 2011 and who has been under house arrest in the desert West African nation ever since, the government in Tripoli says. SENT: 500 words, photos. With LIBYA-GLANCE, a look at Gadhafi's family. SENT: 720 words, photos.
LIBYA AID — World diplomats are working to help Libya create a stable government amid violence and growing political tensions SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 400 words by 3 p.m.
VATICAN-POPE'S CROSS — Pope Francis has confessed that he took the cross of his late confessor's rosary from his casket and he wears it to this day in a fabric pouch under his cassock. SENT: 290 words
INDIA-KASHMIRI STUDENTS— Dozens of Kashmiri students who cheered for the Pakistani cricket team during a match against India could face sedition charges, police say. SENT: 570 words.
AFGHANISTAN-GERMAN TRANSLATORS -The messages are always the same, threats of death for having worked with the German military in northern Afghanistan. SENT: 900 words, photos.
PAKISTAN-SCHOOL FROM SCRATCH - Humaira Bachal has gone from a teenager who hid her schoolbooks from her father, who opposed her education, to running a foundation that teaches 1,200 boys and girls at her Dream Model Street School. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.
AFGHANISTAN - NATO airstrike kills 5 Afghan soldiers; coalition says it was an accident. SENT: 500 words.
IRAQ - A series of bombings Thursday struck commercial areas in central Iraq, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding about 60, authorities said. SENT: 250 words.
BRUNEI-ISLAMIC LAW - Brunei's ruling sultan urges his people to support the implementation next month of a form of Islamic Shariah law that includes harsh penalties, and says foreign countries should respect the country's decision. SENT: 280 words.
INDIA-ELECTION CLASHES - Indian police say they've arrested 14 people after supporters of rival political parties clashed. SENT: 200 words, photos.
AUSTRALIA-EGYPT - The parents of an Australian journalist jailed in Egypt say they were haunted and depressed by images of their son caged in a Cairo courtroom. SENT: 240 words, photos.
SINGAPORE-CEO DEATH - American CEO of bitcoin exchange found dead in Singapore; no foul play suspected. SENT: 180 words. UPCOMING: Developments uncertain.
NETANYAHU-CALIFORNIA - He is scheduled to visit the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The museum is part of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish human rights organization whose founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the prime minister calls a close friend. SENT: XXXX.
FRANCE-PRESIDENT'S AFFAIR - An invasion-of-privacy lawsuit brought by a French actress against a gossip magazine that reported she was having an affair with President Francois Hollande has gone to court. SENT: 130 words.
WASHINGTON AND POLITICS
MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT - Legislation to curb sexual assaults in the military by stripping senior commanders of their authority to prosecute rapes and other serious offenses is headed for a highly anticipated vote in the Senate. SENT: 980 words, photo. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 5 p.m.
HOUSE-EPA-POWER PLANTS — The House votes on a Republican measure to block the Obama administration's plan to limit carbon emissions from new coal-burning power plants. UPCOMING: 850 words by 5 p.m.
SENATE-CIVIL RIGHTS - Should a lawyer be disqualified from public service for representing a client like a cop killer? The question arises after the Senate rejected Obama's candidate to be the government's chief civil rights attorney. SENT: 810 words, photo.
CONSERVATIVES — A half dozen potential Republican candidates for president in 2016 audition before the conservative movement's top leaders. SENT: 330 words. UPCOMING: 650 words by 11:30 a.m.
ARMY GENERAL-SEX CHARGES - An Army general accused of sexual assault is set to plead guilty to three lesser charges in a move that his lawyer says will strengthen his position going into trial. SENT: 760 words, photos. UPCOMING: Updates from 9 a.m. court session.
NUKE REPOSITORY-RADIATION - The U.S. Department of Energy is planning a town hall Thursday to release more information on its efforts to recover from a radiation leak at the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 350 words by noon; further developments from evening meeting.
GIRL SCOUTS-BARBIE - A few weeks after her foray into the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, Barbie is entangled in controversy again, this time over her ties with the Girl Scouts. SENT: 580 words, photo.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR - Democrats and unions are more involved than ever before in Illinois' Republican gubernatorial primary, trying to defeat the union-bashing billionaire Bruce Rauner before he wins the nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos.
BADLY BURNED BOY - A judge rules a Texas man can be tried as an adult for allegedly dousing gasoline on a boy, who died years later, as a teenager in 1998. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Developing; to 700 words by 5 p.m.
VEGAS-PHOENIX INTERSTATE - Despite being two of the largest cities in the Southwest, Las Vegas and Phoenix are the only major metropolitan areas in the U.S. that aren't directly connected by an interstate freeway. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.
COLLEGE FRESHMEN SURVEY - A survey of the nation's college freshmen shows that the percentage attending their first-choice school has reached its lowest level in almost four decades, as cost has become a growing factor in where students enroll. SENT: 550 words, photos.
MLK CHILDREN-LEGAL BATTLE - The daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. plans to speak out about a judge's order that she turn over her father's Bible and Nobel Peace Prize to the court's control pending the outcome of a legal dispute. UPCOMING: 400 words (on merits). Photos, video.
MARIANO RIVERA'S CHURCH - The former New York Yankees closer has renovated a long-vacant church in the New York suburbs that will be the new home of his wife's ministry. SENT: 600 words. UPCOMING: update after ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m., then 650 words by 2 p.m., photos.
FLA-OCEAN RESCUE - Driver of minivan in ocean off Florida's Daytona Beach is undergoing mental evaluation. SENT: 120 words.
EL NINO - A much-needed El Nino should start brewing later this year, NOAA predicts Thursday morning. It should mean more rain next winter for parched California, the southwest and Texas; less cold for the northern tier next winter, fewer hurricanes for the Atlantic. Australia, South Africa will be more dry. Its been a while since El Nino — the warming of the central Pacific that changes weather worldwide. SENT: 510 words.
CIOS UNDER PRESSURE - CIOs from companies in all walks of business are using the Target breach as a rally call to bring attention to their struggle and garner additional funding and manpower. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.
BUSINESS / ECONOMY
WEALTH GAP-SILICON VALLEY - Silicon Valley is entering a fifth year of unfettered growth, but the river of money flowing through America's technology mecca has also driven housing costs to double while wages for low- and middle-skilled workers remain stagnant. Now the widening gap in lifestyle between the wealthy and those left behind is sparking protests and raw anger. SENT: 1,600 words, video, photos.
CTFC-MASSAD CONFIRMATION - When Obama's choice to head an agency that oversees some of the riskiest corners of the financial world faces senators Thursday, one question could dominate: Will he be as aggressive as his predecessor in holding big Wall Street banks to stricter standards. SENT: 840 words. UPCOMING: Will be Developing.
UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS - The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 26,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 323,000, the lowest level in three months as layoffs remain at pre-recession levels. SENT: 500 words.
STAPLES-STORE CLOSINGS - Staples will close up to 225 stores in North America by the end of next year as it seeks to trim about $500 million in costs annually by 2015. SENT: 320 words, photo.
CASTING JESUS - They say you can never be too rich or too thin. Surely you can't be too good-looking either, right? Especially in Hollywood? But some are wondering whether the Jesus in the new film "Son of God" is so good-looking, it's distracting. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 p.m., photos.
ITAROD-5 THINGS — Punishing conditions along the early part of Alaska's nearly 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race have brought many mushers literally to their knees, knocking some out of the running altogether. UPCOMING: 500 words by 1 p.m., photos.
WORLD LIBRARY-10K ITEMS - The World Digital Library led by the Library of Congress is reaching a milestone of 10,000 items with the addition of ancient manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. SENT: 280 words.
HOW TO REACH US
At the Nerve Center, Amir Bibawy and Richard Somma 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 email@example.com or call 877-836-9477.
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