Job gain in Feb. despite harsh weather lifts hopes WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. employers stepped up hiring in February despite a blast of harsh winter weather, renewing hopes that the economy could accelerate this year. February's gain of 175,000 jobs, up from January's 129,000, coincided with a rise in the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent from a five-year low of 6.6 percent. The rate rose because more people began seeking jobs but some didn't find them. That's still an encouraging sign: More job hunters suggest that people grew more optimistic about their prospects.
Russia in patriotic fervor over Crimea MOSCOW (AP) - Russia has been swept up in patriotic fervor for bringing Crimea, its old imperial jewel, back into its territory - as tens of thousands of people thronged Red Square on Friday waving flags and chanting "Crimea is Russia!" while a parliamentary leader promised the peninsula would be welcomed as an "equal subject" of Russia. Crimea now belongs to Ukraine, but the local parliament has called a March 16 referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should join Russia, a move President Barack Obama has called a violation of international law.
Ukraine oligarchs get key posts in bid for unity KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - In a surprising move after Russia flexed its military might in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine's new leadership has reached out to oligarchs for help - appointing them as governors in eastern regions where loyalties to Moscow are strong. With their wealth, influence and self-interest in preventing further conflict, the oligarchs could be the key to calming tensions and maintaining Ukraine's control in areas where pro-Russian activists have stoked separatist tensions.
Watch Top News Video
Guard: Pistorius told me 'everything is fine' PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - Oscar Pistorius told a concerned security guard on the phone that everything was "fine" after neighbors reported gunshots coming from the athlete's house the night he shot dead his girlfriend, according to testimony in the South African murder trial Friday. The security guard, Pieter Baba, testified that Pistorius phoned him back moments after the initial brief conversation, but then started crying, didn't say anything and the line went dead. It was minutes after the double-amputee Olympian fatally shot Reeva Steenkamp, for which Pistorius is now on trial for murder.
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.
Militant grip transforms, terrorizes Syrian city BEIRUT (AP) - Once a vibrant, religiously mixed community, Syria's eastern city of Raqqa is now a shell of its former self, terrorized by hard-line militants who have turned it into the nucleus of their vision for the Islamic caliphate they hope one day to establish in Syria and Iraq. In rare interviews with The Associated Press, residents and activists in Raqqa describe a city where fear prevails. Music has been banned, Christians have to pay an Islamic tax for protection, people are executed in the main square and face-veiled women and pistol-wielding foreigners in Afghan-style outfits patrol the streets enforcing Shariah restrictions.
Accuser takes stand in general's sex assault case FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - Sobbing on the witness stand, the Army captain whose sexual assault accusations triggered the court-martial of a general testified Friday that they had a three-year affair and that he threatened to kill her and her family - and "do it in a way no one would ever know" - if she ever told anyone. The testimony came on the opening day of the trial of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, believed to be the highest-ranking U.S. military officer ever court-martialed on sexual assault charges.
APNewsBreak: FBI investigates prison company BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into private prison company Corrections Corporation of America which ran what Idaho inmates called "Gladiator School" because of a violent reputation they say understaffing helped create. The Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA has operated Idaho's largest prison for more than a decade, but last year, CCA officials acknowledged it had understaffed the Idaho Correctional Center by thousands of hours in violation of the state contract. CCA also said employees falsified reports to cover up the vacancies. The announcement came after an Associated Press investigation showed CCA sometimes listed guards as working 48 hours straight to meet minimum staffing requirements.
Colombian paramilitaries set for release BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - One veteran of Colombia's disbanded far-right militias admitted to ordering or taking part in at least 3,000 killings, mostly targeting leftists , and incinerating many of the corpses to destroy evidence. Another ordered a hit on a prominent intellectual who had been unjustly accused of backing insurgents and kept evidence on his laptop that helped convict Colombia's then-national spy chief in the killing.
Ukraine decides to compete in Paralympics in Sochi SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Ukraine will compete in the Winter Paralympics in Sochi despite Russia's military moves in Crimea. The Ukrainian Paralympic Committee decided against boycotting the games, announcing a few hours before Friday's opening ceremony that its athletes would stay.