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Senators strike bipartisan jobless benefits deal
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 14 March 2014 10:31

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chalk up one partisan election-year battle that senators seem likely to resolve when they return from recess later this month — the fight over renewing expired benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Bipartisan Senate negotiators said Thursday that they'd struck a $9.7 billion compromise over the issue, agreeing to a five-month extension paid for by boosting some federal revenues. Approval seemed likely by the Democratic-led Senate when it returns in late March from a weeklong recess. That would throw the issue into the Republican-run House, where its fate is uncertain.

The revived benefits would be retroactive to Dec. 28, when the program expired, ultimately halting emergency coverage to more than 2 million people who've been without jobs the longest.

That holiday season cessation of payments had ignited partisan warfare over an issue that fit neatly into the parties' campaign-season competition over which was best creating jobs and helping families still struggling to right themselves after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Democrats said opposition by most Republicans underscored GOP indifference to financially stressed families, while Republicans said they wanted an extension to be paid for and to improve federal job programs.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 10:34
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After Crimea, wary Eastern Europe asks: who's next
Written by ALISON MUTLER, Associated Press MONIKA SCISLOWSKA, Associated Press   
Friday, 14 March 2014 10:28

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Broken promises of help from the West. A tragic history of Russian invasion that goes back centuries. A painful awareness that conflicts in this volatile region are contagious. These are the factors that make nations across Eastern Europe watch events in Ukraine — and tremble.

From leaders to ordinary people, there is a palpable sense of fear that Russia, seemingly able to thumb its nose at Western powers at will, may seek more opportunities for incursions in its former imperial backyard. The question many people are asking is: Who's next?

"There is first of all fear ... that there could be a possible contagion," Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean told The Associated Press in an interview. "Romania is extremely preoccupied."

Specifically, concerns run high that after taking over the strategic peninsula of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin may be tempted to try a land grab in Moldova, where Russian troops are stationed in the breakaway province of Trans-Dniester. It's one of several "frozen conflicts" across Eastern Europe whose ranks Crimea — many in the West now say with resignation — has joined.

In Romania, which neighbors predominantly Romanian-speaking Moldova, Monica Nistorescu urged the West to stand up to Putin — lest he come to view himself as unbeatable.

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Search for lost jet expands amid signs it flew on
Written by IAN MADER, Associated Press JOAN LOWY, Associated Press   
Friday, 14 March 2014 10:07

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The search for the missing Malaysian jetliner expanded east and west on Friday after American officials said it was emitting signals to satellites for hours after its last contact with air traffic control nearly a week ago over the South China Sea.

Malaysian officials insisted that investigators had yet to reach a definitive conclusion on what radar and satellite data showed, and said the search was being expanded because efforts in current areas have not found any wreckage from the Boeing 777.

The possibility that the plane, carrying 239 people, flew many hundreds of miles (kilometers) beyond its last known location without any contact with the ground has strengthened speculation that its transponders and other communication devices were turned off deliberately.

That opens the possibility that one of the pilots, or someone with flying experience, wanted to hijack the plane for some later purpose, kidnap the passengers or commit suicide by plunging the aircraft into the sea.

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Women indicted in Maryland exorcism deaths
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 14 March 2014 10:12

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — Two Maryland women have been indicted in the stabbings of four children in what authorities say the women believed was an exorcism.

Twenty-eight-year-old Zakieya Avery and 21-year-old Monifa Sanford were indicted Thursday on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Avery's 18-month-old son and 2-year-old daughter in January at a home in Germantown, Md., outside Washington. They were also indicted on two counts of attempted first-degree murder in an attack on Avery's 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son.

Prosecutors have said the women told investigators they believed evil spirits moved between the bodies of the children and an exorcism was needed to drive the demons out.

Police said that if a neighbor had not called 911, the two older children might have died too.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Police: One man, One woman died at South by Southwest
Written by CHRIS TALBOTT, Associated Press WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press   
Thursday, 13 March 2014 15:04
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Dutch music company has identified one of the victims of a suspected drunken driver that barreled through barricades at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin.

Police Chief Art Acevedo said one of two people killed early Thursday was a Dutch citizen riding a bicycle.

Massive Music, a company with offices in Amsterdam, New York and London, said one of their employees died suddenly in Austin and identified him as 35-year-old Steven Craenmehr. No one at the company responded to phone messages requesting additional information.

Police say the driver also struck a moped, killing the woman on it. A man on the moped and 22 pedestrians were injured.

The driver was expected to be charged later Thursday, when his name would be released.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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