Crimea to vote to split from Ukraine, join Russia SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine lurched toward breakup Thursday as lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared they wanted to join Russia and would put the decision to voters in 10 days. President Barack Obama condemned the move and the West answered with the first real sanctions against Russia. Speaking from the White House, Obama said any decisions on the future of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of Ukraine, must include the country's new government.
Obama: West won't let Kremlin carve up Ukraine WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama ordered the West's first sanctions in response to Russia's military takeover of Crimea on Thursday, declaring his determination not to let the Kremlin carve up Ukraine. He asserted that a hastily scheduled referendum on Crimea seceding and becoming part of Russia would violate international law. European leaders announced their own measures but split over how forcefully to follow America's lead. Obama threatened further steps if Russia persists.
AP Exclusive: Man said to create bitcoin denies it LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto said Thursday that he is not the creator of bitcoin, adding further mystery to the story of how the world's most popular digital currency came to be. The denial came after Newsweek published a 4,500-word cover story claiming Nakamoto is the person who wrote the computer code underpinnings of bitcoin.
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Senate blocks change to military sex assault cases WASHINGTON (AP) - Bowing to the Pentagon, the Senate agreed after impassioned debate Thursday to leave the authority to prosecute rapes and other serious crimes with military commanders in a struggle that highlighted the growing role of women in Congress. The vote was 55-45 in favor of stripping commanders of that authority, but that was short of the 60 necessary to move ahead on the legislation sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Her bill would have given the decision to take serious crimes to courts-martial to seasoned military trial lawyers, independent of the chain of command.
General admits guilt on 3 counts; denies assault FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - In his immaculate blue dress uniform, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair stood ramrod straight before a judge Thursday and pleaded guilty to three charges that could send him to prison for up to 15 years. It was a remarkable admission sure to end the military career of a man once regarded as a rising star among the U.S. Army's small cadre of trusted battle commanders.
APNewsBreak: Many NYC inmates report 'head shots' NEW YORK (AP) - Nearly a third of Rikers Island inmates who said their visible injuries came at the hands of a correction officer last year had suffered a blow to the head, a tactic that is supposed to be a guard's last resort because it is potentially fatal, according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press. The report, acquired by the AP via a Freedom of Information request, also found that an average of three inmates a day were treated for visible injuries they claimed were caused by correction officers and 20 others each day suffered injuries primarily from violent encounters with other inmates.
Chevron pizza 'scandal' isn't one in small town BOBTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Critics are raging after an energy giant offered pizza coupons to a community near a natural gas well that exploded last month, killing a worker. News stories, TV shows and blogs - many sarcastic or outright scornful - spread the word far and wide. "Shame on you," one person wrote about the offer by Chevron Corp. "How insulting!" said another. Comedy Central's satirical "The Colbert Report" skewered it.
Here comes El Nino; good news for US weather woes WASHINGTON (AP) - Relief may be on the way for a weather-weary United States with the predicted warming of the central Pacific Ocean brewing this year that will likely change weather worldwide. But it won't be for the better everywhere. The warming, called an El Nino, is expected to lead to fewer Atlantic hurricanes and more rain next winter for drought-stricken California and southern states, and even a milder winter for the nation's frigid northern tier next year, meteorologists say.
Casting Jesus: Did he really look like Brad Pitt? NEW YORK (AP) - They say you can never be too rich or too thin. Surely it goes without saying that you can't be too good-looking, either, right? Especially in Hollywood. But in the popular new film "Son of God," Jesus is so, well, easy on the eyes that some are revisiting an age-old question that has vexed scholars for centuries:
Girl Scouts asked to end partnership with Barbie NEW YORK (AP) - America's top doll, Barbie, finds herself in controversy once again, this time over a business partnership between her manufacturer, Mattel, and the Girl Scouts. On Thursday, two consumer advocacy groups often critical of corporate advertising tactics - the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for a New American Dream - criticized Barbie as a flawed role model for little girls and launched a petition drive urging the Girl Scouts of the USA to end the partnership. The Girls Scouts said they would not do so.