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Diplomatic exit? Ukraine players converge on Paris
Written by LORI HINNANT, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 07:09

PARIS (AP) — Top diplomats from the West and Russia trying to find an end to the crisis in Ukraine are gathering in Paris on Wednesday as tensions simmered over the Russian military takeover of the strategic Crimean Peninsula.

A team of international observers headed to Crimea, Europe debated the size of its aid package to the nearly bankrupt Ukraine, and NATO prepared to take up the issue directly with Russia in an extraordinary meeting of the military alliance originally created as a counter to the Soviet Union.

The envoys from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., Britain and France are not necessarily all at the same table, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said everyone has been working non-stop for a diplomatic solution.

"We have a principle of firmness but at the same time of searching for dialogue," Fabius said as he stood alongside his Ukrainian counterpart, making his first trip abroad in the new post.

Ukraine has accused Russia of military invasion after pro-Russian troops took over Crimea on Saturday, placing forces around its ferry, military bases and border posts. Moscow does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership in Kiev that ousted the pro-Russian president.

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U.S. prepares $1 billion aid package for troubled Ukraine
Written by LARA JAKES, AP National Security Writer   
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 15:17

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — In a somber show of U.S. support for Ukraine's new leadership, Secretary of State John Kerry walked the streets Tuesday where more than 80 anti-government protesters were killed last month, and promised beseeching crowds that American aid is on the way.

Kerry met in Ukraine with the new government's acting president, prime minister, foreign minister and top parliamentary officials. Speaking to reporters afterward, Kerry urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to stand down and said the U.S. is looking for ways to de-escalate the mounting tensions.

"It is clear that Russia has been working hard to create a pretext for being able to invade further," Kerry said. "It is not appropriate to invade a country, and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve. That is not 21st-century, G-8, major nation behavior."

Kerry made a pointed distinction between the Ukrainian government and Putin's.

"The contrast really could not be clearer: determined Ukranians demonstrating strength through unity, and the Russian government out of excuses, hiding its hand behind falsehoods, intimidation and provocations. In the hearts of Ukranians and the eyes of the world, there is nothing strong about what Russia is doing."

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Woman hurt in destructive Montana avalanche dies
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 07:25

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A woman who was rescued about three hours after her Missoula home was destroyed by an avalanche has died.

About 100 neighbors converged to help find 68-year-old Michel Colville, her husband and an 8-year-old boy, who were buried Friday when the avalanche swept down a mountain and crushed the couple's house in a residential area of the western Montana city.

Colville died Sunday night at St. Patrick Hospital, Missoula police said Monday. Her husband, Fred Allendorf, remained hospitalized in serious condition.

Allendorf was buried for about two hours before rescuers found him in an air pocket created by a fallen chimney in their house at the base of Mount Jumbo.

Eight-year-old Phoenix Scoles-Coburn and his 10-year-old sister, Coral, were outside playing when the slide hit at 4 p.m. Friday. Coral was able to dig herself out of the snow, but Phoenix was buried for about an hour. He was able to survive due to an air pocket in the debris, officials have said.

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Friends common source of abused prescription meds
Written by LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer   
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 07:31

CHICAGO (AP) — Most people who abuse addictive prescription painkillers get them for free from friends or relatives, while drug dealers are a relatively uncommon source for those at highest risk for deadly overdoses, a government study found.

People who abuse the most frequently often doctor-shop; more than 1 in 4 who used these drugs almost daily said they had been prescribed by one or more physicians. Almost as many said they got them for free from friends or relatives; only 15 percent of the most frequent abusers said they bought the drugs from dealers or other strangers.

Those abusers "are probably using at much greater volumes and simply asking a friend for a pill now and then is not going to be sufficient," said Dr. Leonard Paulozzi, a researcher at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the study, two-thirds of abusers said they used the drugs infrequently and well over half of these users said they got them free from friends or relatives.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 07:38
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Cold (low 40s), rain forecast for Fat Tuesday in New Orleans
Written by CHEVEL JOHNSON, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 07:22
MardiGrasNewOrlean_rotator
The sixth annual Red Beans Parade rolled through the Marigny and ended in the Treme with The Treme Brass Band on Lundi Gras, Monday, March 3, 2014, in New Orleans. Participants sported costumes made of various kinds of beans. (AP Photo/NOLA.com The Times-Picayune, Kathleen Flynn)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Despite rain and cold in Tuesday's forecast, thousands of people were expected to line the traditional parade routes overnight to get a prime spot for Mardi Gras — New Orleans' biggest show.

Mark Nelson, of St. Louis, will be attending his first Fat Tuesday. He said he's going to be in the mix even in a downpour.

"That's why God made washing machines," said Nelson, who was sipping on a daiquiri as he enjoyed the sounds of trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, who performed at the Lundi Gras festivities Monday along the Mississippi River.

Nelson said he came for the experience to support his U.S. Department of Energy co-worker, Melvin Labat, who's also a member of the Krewe of Zulu and this year's Province Prince.

"I was at Muses and caught a coveted shoe and I already got a (Zulu) signature coconut so I'm ahead of the game," he said.

Rain was expected to hit the metropolitan area sometime after 10:00 a.m. local time, which means it could rain on both the krewes of Zulu and Rex. Temperatures were not expected to rise above the low 40s.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 11:09
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