US employers add 175K jobs despite harsh weather 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.
Top lawmaker: Russia would welcome Crimea MOSCOW (AP) - Russia rallied support Friday for a Crimean bid to secede from Ukraine, with a leader of Russia's parliament assuring her Crimean counterpart that the region would be welcomed as "an absolutely equal subject of the Russian Federation." Across Red Square, 65,000 people waved Russian flags, chanting "Crimea is Russia!" The strategic peninsula in southern Ukraine has become the flashpoint in the battle for Ukraine, where three months of protests sent President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing to Russia. Russia calls the new Ukrainian government illegitimate, and has seized control of Crimea, where it has a major naval base on the Black Sea.
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.
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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.
International court convicts Congo rebel leader THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The International Criminal Court on Friday convicted a rebel leader of charges including murder and pillage over a deadly attack on a village in eastern Congo, but acquitted him of rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers. Germain Katanga showed no emotion as judges convicted him as an accessory in the attack on the strategic village of Bogoro on Feb. 24, 2003, in which some 200 civilians were hacked or shot to death and many women were raped and turned into sex slaves.
Prosecutors: General coerced captain into affair FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - With the Pentagon under increased scrutiny over revelations of rampant rape and sexual misconduct within the ranks, opening statements began Friday in a rare court-martial of an Army general - believed to be the most senior member of the U.S. military to face trial on sex assault charges. Prosecutors called Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair a domineering man who coerced the victim into a three-year affair. Lead prosecutor Lt. Col. Robert Stelle told the jury that Sinclair said to the victim: "I'll kill you and your family, and I will do it in a way no one will ever know."
NKorea elections: 0 pct drama, 100 pct mandatory TOKYO (AP) - North Korean voters will make a choice Sunday when they elect a new national legislature, but not for a candidate. The ruling elite have already done that for them, and there's only one per district. They get to vote "yes" or "no." Virtually all pick "yes."
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.