Obama, Putin talk...Military sexual assault legislation defeated...Issa apologizes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama has told Russia's leader that a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine must include returning Russian forces back to their base in Crimea. Obama spoke with Putin by phone for about an hour on Thursday. The U.S. is also calling on Russia to recognize the legitimacy of Ukrainian plans for elections in May.

WASHINGTON (AP) — It failed to gain the 60 votes needed to get past a filibuster, but Senate leaders are expected to eventually bring back a bill that would strip senior military commanders of their authority to prosecute or prevent charges for alleged rapes and other serious offenses. Backers say far-reaching changes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice are necessary to prevent the continuing plague of rapes and sexual assaults in the military.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Elijah Cummings says California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (EYE'-suh) has called him and apologized for refusing to let Cummings speak during a hearing on Wednesday. The Maryland Democrat said he accepted the apology. Issa abruptly shut down a hearing of the House Oversight Committee when Cummings charged that Issa's IRS inquiries are political and overblown.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed the Federal Aviation Administration's only fine against a commercial drone user. The judge ruled that the small drone was no different than a model aircraft. A $10,000 fine was dismissed. The ruling appears to undermine the FAA's power to keep a burgeoning civilian drone industry out of the skies.

BOSTON (AP) — Boston's Berklee College of Music has presented an honorary doctor of music degree to singer, songwriter and activist Harry Belafonte. It happened during a Thursday night concert in Belafonte's honor. The songs included the "Banana Boat Song" to "We are the World." Belafonte was a confidante of Martin Luther King Jr. Other recipients of Berklee's honorary doctorate have included Duke Ellington, Steven Tyler and Willie Nelson.

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