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BC-AP News Digest 2:10 pm

BC-AP News Digest 2:10 pm

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 10, 2014 at 12:11 p.m.


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The world at 2:10 p.m. Times are EDT.

At the Nerve Center, Caleb Jones, Rob Jagodzinski and Kellen Henry can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Dan Goodman, 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 apcustomersupport@ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

TOP STORIES

ARMY GENERAL-SEX CHARGES

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A judge weighs whether to throw out the sexual assault charges against an Army general, citing evidence that political considerations influenced the military's handling of the closely watched case. The court-martial of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair is unfolding with the military under pressure to curb what it says is an epidemic of sexual misconduct in the armed forces. By Michael Biesecker. SENT: 800 words, photos. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 p.m.

MALAYSIA PLANE-HAYSTACK OCEAN

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — In an age when people assume that any bit of information is just a click away, the thought that a jetliner could simply disappear over the ocean for more than two days is staggering. But Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is hardly the first reminder of how big the seas are, and of how agonizing it can be to try to find something lost in the ocean. Officials involved in the search this week say the Malaysian jet may have made a U-turn, adding one more level of uncertainty. By Eileen Ng and Kristen Gelineau. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.

MALAYSIA-PLANE

PATTAYA, Thailand — Security authorities at a Thai beach resort question travel agents about two men who boarded the missing Malaysian Boeing 777 using stolen passports, part of a widening inquiry into what they were doing aboard the flight. Almost three days after the plane with 239 people on board vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, no debris has been spotted. By Thanayarat Doksone and Jim Gomez. SENT: 970 words, photos. UPCOMING: New approach of 800 words by 2:30 p.m., photos, video.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-WHAT WE KNOW — What we know and don't know about the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. SENT: 230 words, photos.

PISTORIUS-TRIAL

PRETORIA, South Africa — Oscar Pistorius vomits in the dock and retches repeatedly and loudly at his murder trial as he hears graphic details of the injuries sustained by the girlfriend he shot, including a head wound that was probably instantly fatal according to the pathologist who performed her autopsy. By Gerald Imray and Christopher Torchia. SENT: 870 words, photos. UPCOMING: 800 words by 3 p.m., photos.

CHINA-ABUSED OFFICIALS

LILING, China — The Chinese official remembers the panic he felt in Room 109. He had refused again and again to confess to bribery, and his four Communist Party interrogators forced his legs farther and farther apart. Zhou Wangyan begged them to stop, but the men kept pushing. Then, with a loud "ka-cha," his left thigh bone snapped. Zhou, land bureau director for the city of Liling, was in a compound touted by the party as a model for anti-corruption efforts. In rare accounts to The Associated Press, Zhou and three other party members described months of abuse they endured while in detention. By Gillian Wong. SENT: 2,800 words, photos, video. ALSO SENT: An abridged version of 1,200 words.

— CHINA-ABUSED OFFICIALS-GLANCE — SENT: 400 words, photos.

SMART ELEPHANTS, HFR

WASHINGTON — Dr. Seuss had it right: Horton really does hear a Who. Wild elephants can distinguish between human languages and they can tell whether a voice comes from a man, woman or boy. Scientists say this is an advanced thinking skill that other animals haven't shown. It lets elephants figure out who is a threat and who isn't. By Science Writer Seth Borenstein. UPCOMING: 600 words by 3 p.m., photos. Hold for release until 3 p.m.

TUESDAY SPOTLIGHT

E-CIG NATION

NEW YORK — On the edge of SoHo, The Henley Vaporium is an intimate hipster hangout with overstuffed chairs, exposed brick, friendly counter help — but no booze. Instead, the proprietors are peddling e-cigarettes to "vapers" in a growing movement that now includes celebrity fans and YouTube gurus, online forums and vapefests around the world. By Leanne Italie. SENT: 800 words, photos.

WASHINGTON

HEALTH OVERHAUL-UNINSURED WASHINGTON — The share of Americans without health insurance is dropping to the lowest levels since President Barack Obama took office, but sign-ups under his health care law lag among Hispanics — a big pool of potential beneficiaries. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 840 words, photo.

INTERNATIONAL

UKRAINE-CRIMEA'S TATARS

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — The arrival of Russian troops in Crimea has opened old wounds among the Crimean Tatars, who were deported during World War II. Fearing that once again they will be unwelcome in their homeland, some are organizing community-watch patrols to protect their families and homes in a place they strongly feel should remain part of Ukraine. By Yuras Karmanau. UPCOMING: 820 words, photos by 2:30 p.m.

— UKRAINE — Russia's Foreign Ministry denounces alleged lawlessness by far-right activists in eastern Ukraine, an ominous statement likely to trigger alarms in Ukraine about possible Russian intervention there. SENT: 600 words, photos.

—UNITED STATES-UKRAINE: President Barack Obama seeks China's backing for efforts to isolate Russia over its incursion into Ukraine. SENT: 630 words.

SYRIA

DAMASCUS — Syrian militants free 13 Greek Orthodox nuns in exchange for dozens of women held in government prisons as part of a rare swap between Syrian authorities and al-Qaida-linked rebels. The release ends a three-month ordeal for the nuns who were held in a border town amid battles between government-backed forces and rebels. By Albert Aji and Zeina Karam. SENT: 650 words, photos. UPCOMING: 850 words, photos by 3 p.m.

— SYRIA-GLANCE: A look at remaining hostages believed held by rebels in Syria. SENT: 470 words, photos.

— SYRIA-HEALTH CARE DISASTER: A new report describes a health care disaster in Syria: Newborns dying in hospital incubators during power cuts, patients knocked out with metal bars for lack of anesthesia and children having limbs amputated because there is no other treatment. By Barbara Surk. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m.

— ISRAEL-IRAN — Israel's prime minister triumphantly displays dozens of rockets intercepted at sea, allegedly sent by Iran to the Gaza Strip, stepping up a PR blitz aimed at persuading the international community to toughen up in nuclear talks with Iran. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 3 p.m.

— AFGHANISTAN-ELECTIONS — The Taliban warn they will "use all force" possible to disrupt Afghan presidential elections next month. SENT: 580 words, photos. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos by 3 p.m.

FRANCE-SECRET RECORDINGS

PARIS — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his pop-star-supermodel wife have always thrived under the public gaze. But recent scrutiny has given even this French glamour couple reason to squirm. Intimate conversations between Sarkozy and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy that mysteriously surfaced in the press have combined with the publication of sensitive legal discussions to deal the former conservative darling a major headache — just as he has positioned himself for a political comeback. By Lori Hinnant. SENT: 360 words, photos. UPCOMING: New approach of 900 words by 3 p.m.

HEALTH

NEW JOINTS, HFR

It's not just grandma with a new hip and your uncle with a new knee. More than 2 of every 100 Americans now have an artificial joint. The first major study to look at how prevalent these operations have become shows roughly 7 million people in the U.S. alone are living with these replacements. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 p.m., photos, video. Hold for release until 1:01 a.m. Tuesday.

BUSINESS

MCDONALD'S-SALES

NEW YORK — McDonald's is fighting to hold onto customers in the U.S. — and all that snow didn't help. The world's biggest hamburger chain says that sales fell 1.4 percent at established U.S. locations. It blamed the harsh winter weather, but conceded that "challenging industry dynamics" also played a role. By Candice Choi And Michelle Chapman. SENT: 480 words, photo.

— MCDONALD'S-SALES-STRATEGY — 3 things to watch for as McDonald's fights to boost US sales. SENT: 400 words.

NATIONAL

PUBLIC TRANSIT TRIPS

LOS ANGELES — Americans are boarding public buses, trains and subways in greater numbers than any time since the suburbs began booming. Nearly 10.7 billion trips in 2013, to be precise — the highest total since 1956. By Justin Pritchard. SENT: 315 words, photos. UPCOMING: 650 words by 3 p.m.

— PUBLIC TRANSIT TRIPS-LIST — Details on public transit use for several major cities. SENT: 170 words.

IDITAROD

NOME, Alaska — The 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race comes down to a sprint to the finish along the wind-whipped Bering Sea. Jeff King — a four-time winner — leads Aily Zirkle — trying to become only the third woman to win the race — by just eight minutes. By Mark Thiessen. SENT: 850 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: Updates through final hours of race, expected to end early Tuesday morning.

— IDITAROD-5 THINGS — 5 standout finishes in history of Alaska's famous sled dog race. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— AP PHOTOS-Iditarod — Mushers, dog teams charging toward Iditarod finish line in 1,000-mile Alaska race. SENT: 165 words, photos.

ENTERTAINMENT

TV-El REY-RODRIGUEZ

NEW YORK — In the past year, Netflix with its online, full-out D.C. thriller "House of Cards" has jolted the medium we used to know as simply "television." Now TV could be rocked by another game changer. Say hello to filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, who, down in Texas at his aptly named Troublemaker Studios, is ready to rewrite more rules with his new cable network, El Rey. By Television Writer Frazier Moore. SENT: 800 words, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— CONN SCHOOL SHOOTING-FATHER — Conn. school shooter's father tells New Yorker magazine what son did was 'evil,' now wishes he hadn't been born. SENT: 780 words, photos.

—HEALTH OVERHAUL-UNINSURED — The share of Americans without health insurance is dropping to the lowest levels since Obama took office, but sign-ups under his health care law are lagging among Hispanics. SENT: 700 words. UPCOMING: 750 words by 3 p.m., photo.

—EYES ON SPIES — U.S. intelligence officials are planning a sweeping system of electronic monitoring that would tap into databases to monitor many of the 5 million federal employees with secret clearances. SENT: 1000 words. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 p.m., photo.

— BLACK TWITTER — Here's an online force that's growing: Black Twitter, a corner of the social media giant where an unabashedly black spin on life gets served up 140 characters at a time. SENT: 900 words. UPCOMING: 800 words by 2 p.m., photo.

— BOSTON MARATHON-SUSPECT'S FRIENDS — Boston Marathon bombing suspect destroyed cellphone before arrest, friend's lawyer says. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 3 p.m.

— MINNESOTA LEGISLATOR-NBA TWEET — A Minnesota lawmaker is apologizing for his tweet about the NBA that was seen by some as racist. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 550 words by 4 p.m., photo.

— STUDENT SLAIN-TEXAS — Police say two 16-year-old boys targeted and killed their 17-year-old classmate behind their Texas high school. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words by 5 p.m., photos pursuing.

— BIN LADEN SPOKESMAN — Shoe-bomb witness testifies from London at NY terrorism trial of bin Laden son-in-law, highest-ranking al-Qaida figure to face trial in U.S. since Sept. 11. SENT: 420 words. UPCOMING: 600 words by 6 p.m.

— GAY MARRIAGE-METHODISTS — Methodist church drops case against minister who performed NY same-sex marriage for his son. SENT: 350 words.

— FATAL CLUB SHOOTING — Police arrest suspect in Ohio bar shooting that killed off-duty officer, 2 others. SENT: 360 words, photos.

— CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE — A powerful magnitude-6.9 earthquake strikes off the coast of Northern California, but causes little damage because it is centered four miles below the floor of the Pacific Ocean. SENT: 300 words, photo. UPCOMING: 450 words by 3 p.m.

___

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