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Malaysian leader: plane's disappearance deliberate
Written by EILEEN NG, Associated Press IAN MADER, Associated Press   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 05:04
Indonesia-Malaysia-Pl_rotator
Lt. Col Bambang Sudewo, commander of the 5th Air Squadron "Black Mermaids" examines a map following a search operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 that was conducted over the Strait of Malacca, at Suwondo air base in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Friday, March 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian passenger jet missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about seven and a half hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or deep in the southern Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday

Najib's statement Saturday confirmed days of mounting speculation that the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board was not accidental, and underlines the massive task for searchers who already been scouring vast areas of ocean.

"In view of this latest development, the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board," Najib said, stressing they are still investigating all possibilities as to why the plane deviated so drastically from its original flight path.

"Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase," Najib told a televised news conference.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 March 2014 08:49
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Mexico to draw line on vigilantes
Written by MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press   
Saturday, 15 March 2014 05:03

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities have finally served notice to vigilantes fighting a drug cartel in western Michoacan state that their illegal tactics will no longer be tolerated, starting with a string of arrests this week.

The change comes after months in which government troops and federal police tolerated thousands of assault rifle-wielding civilians breaking down doors, settling up roadblocks and taking over towns to oust the vicious Knights Templar cartel.

Civilians aren't permitted to carry such weapons in Mexico, but police and soldiers have even carried out joint raids with the "self-defense" forces, who were initially well received by local residents tired of the Knights Templars' extortion, kidnapping and murder.

"We are putting up the 'stop' sign" to the vigilantes, a federal official who was not authorized to be quoted by name said Friday on condition of anonymity. "We are reaching a turning point, a point of change."

The official explained that when tens of thousands of federal forces were dispatched to Michoacan in May 2013, they depended on the vigilantes to point out suspected drug cartel members.

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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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Eighth victim pulled from New York City rubble
Written by JAKE PEARSON, Associated Press KEN SWEET, Associated Press   
Friday, 14 March 2014 10:34
NEW YORK (AP) — Police say the eighth person to be pulled out of the rubble of two collapsed buildings in New York City in is an adult female.

The body was found by rescuers Thursday evening.

Police say at least one person remains unaccounted for.

The firefighters on Friday continued to dig through the debris following a gas explosion that brought down two East Harlem apartment buildings on Wednesday.


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

 
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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