Russia, Crimea discuss accession...Congo rebel leader convicted in Hague...Pistorius ex-girlfriend testifies

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MOSCOW (AP) — The speaker for Russia's upper house of parliament has met with the head of Crimean parliament today to discuss the region's possible accession to Russia. Russia's Valentina Matvienko says Crimea would be welcome as an "equal subject" in Russia if the region votes to leave Ukraine in a referendum scheduled for March 16. Russia's parliament is planning to review a bill as early as next week that would speed up Crimea's integration into Russia.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands has convicted a rebel leader of murder and pillage in a deadly 2003 attack on a village in eastern Congo. But the court also acquitted Germain Katanga of rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers. In the Feb. 24 assault on the village of Bogoro, some 200 civilians were hacked or shot to death.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some economists believe the unemployment rate stayed at 6.6 percent in February. The experts tell a FactSet survey that when the U.S. government releases figures this morning, they'll likely show that employers added 145,000 jobs last month.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says there's "no way" he'll recognize Israel as a Jewish state and accept just a portion of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. Abbas says in published comments by the official WAFA news agency that he withstood U.S. pressure when he sought U.N. recognition for a state of Palestine and says he could do so again. Secretary of State John Kerry is to present ideas for the contours of a deal to Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A former girlfriend of South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius says Pistorius always carried a firearm, and that their relationship ended when he cheated on her with Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend Pistorius is on trial for fatally shooting last year. Samantha Taylor testified in a Pretoria court today that Pistorius once fired his gun out of a car's sunroof after being stopped for speeding. Pistorius says he thought he was shooting at an intruder when he shot Steenkamp. Prosecutors contend Pistorius shot her following an argument.

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