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BC-AP News Digest 2 pm
Associated Press
2014-03-25 03:01 AM

The world at 2 p.m. Times are EDT.

At the Nerve Center, Mike Stewart, Rob Jagodzinski and Amir Bibawy can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Swayne Hall ext. 1900. For graphics and interactives, Phil Holm (ext. 7636). Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact apcustomersupport@ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

TOP STORIES

MALAYSIA-PLANE

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- After 17 days of uncertainty about the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 plane came the heartbreaking news that none of the relatives of those aboard wanted to hear: The plane went down in a remote section of the Indian Ocean, and there were no survivors. But the larger mystery of what happened aboard the Boeing 777 to send it so off-course remains unsolved. By Todd Pitman and Eileen Ng. SENT, 1,500 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 1,200 words, by 3 p.m.

-- MALAYSIA-PLANE-WHAT WE KNOW -- What the prime minister's statement answered about the missing flight and what questions still remain. SENT: 250 words.

-- MALAYSIA-PLANE-FAMILIES -- Relatives sob, collapse after Malaysian PM confirms loss of plane with 239 people on board. SENT: 770 words, photos.

WEST RESPONSE-RUSSIA

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The U.S. and its partners scale down diplomatic relations with Russia to deepen Moscow's isolation after its incursion into Ukraine. President Barack Obama presses for deeper economic sanctions, but faces concerns from Europe that broader penalties will hurt the still economically-shaky continent. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 300 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 3 p.m.

--CONGRESS-UKRAINE-- The Senate holds a test vote on authorizing the broadest sanctions yet on Russian officials and providing Ukraine with $1 billion in loan guarantees. UPCOMING, 350 words by 6 p.m.

--OBAMA-NIGHTWATCH-- Obama says a famous Dutch art work provides one of the best settings ever for one of his statements to the media. A notebook. SENT: 610 words, photos, video, audio.

WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE

ARLINGTON, Wash. -- The frantic search for survivors of a deadly Washington state mudslide grows to include 108 names of people who were reported missing or were unaccounted for. Rescuers desperately trying to navigate the quicksand-like sludge still can't get into parts of the debris field, and are asking people reported missing to call authorities if they're OK. Crews haven't found anyone alive since shortly after the wall of mud, water and debris crashed into the town on Saturday, and voices crying for help from the pile are now silenced. By Lisa Baumann and Phuong Le. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 900 words by 4 p.m., updated photos, video.

-- WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE-5 THINGS -- UPCOMING: 450 words, photos by 3 p.m.

HEALTH OVERHAUL-HISPANICS

WASHINGTON -- The nation's largest minority group risks being left behind by President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Hispanics account for about one-third of the nation's uninsured, but all signs indicate they remain largely on the sidelines as the White House races to meet a goal of 6 million sign-ups by March 31. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. UPCOMING: 800 words by 2:15 p.m., photos.

--HEALTH OVERHAUL Q&A --If I have insurance at work, can I still shop in the online exchange? Second in a three-part series of answers to reader questions. SENT: 590 words.

EGYPT

CAIRO -- An Egyptian court sentences to death 529 suspected supporters of the ousted Islamist president over a deadly attack on a police station after a mass trial lasting only two sessions in which defense lawyers say they were unable to present their case. The convictions face an appeal process but the sweeping sentences signal that authorities intend swift and heavy prosecutions in the crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood but heighten rights activists' fears that due process is being swept aside. By Maggie Michael. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 1,000 words.

-- ARAB SUMMIT -- Egypt and Saudi Arabia aim to use an Arab summit this week in Kuwait to crank up pressure on Qatar over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. By Hamza Hendawi. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 p.m., photos, video.

FLOOD INSURANCE-SOLUTIONS

There's no easy fix for the National Flood Insurance Program, now drowning in a $24 billion sea of red ink, but experts and advocates say they hope Congress takes a harder look over the next three years at proposals to make the program financially stable, more affordable, and more effective at motivating change in communities built too close to the water. At least 1.1 million home and business owners in the flood insurance program are likely to see their rates rise substantially over the next few years, despite a rate-relief bill signed by the president last week. An Associated Press analysis found hundreds of communities where substantial numbers of property owners may be in trouble. By David B. Caruso. UPCOMING: 800 words by 4 p.m., photos.

NUCLEAR SUMMIT

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A major international summit to rein in the threat of nuclear terrorism opens with Japan pledging to return to the United States more than 315 kilograms (700 pounds) of weapons-grade plutonium and a supply of highly enriched uranium. By Toby Sterling and Juergen Baetz. SENT 620 words, photos. UPCOMING: 750 words by 3:30 pm.

TUESDAY SPOTLIGHT

CHEFS IN GLOVES

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- As the happy hour crowd poured in on a recent weeknight, the kitchen and bar staff at Hock Farm restaurant scrambled to meet the incoming orders. And by using their bare hands to prepare the meals, all of them were breaking a state law that took effect in January and will be enforced starting in July. Under the new bill, chefs and bartenders in California must keep bare hands off food going straight to the plate or the drink glass, from the rice in a sushi roll to the mint in a mojito. Instead, they must use gloves or kitchen utensils such as tongs. Yet as concerns about the law's inflexibility mount and restaurant owners protest, state lawmakers are considering a reversal before inspectors begin slapping fines on eateries this summer. By Fenit Nirappil. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

MORE ON UKRAINE

UKRAINE

DONUZLAV, Crimea -- Ukraine's fledgling government has ordered troops to pull back from Crimea, ending days of wavering as Russian forces stormed and seized bases on the peninsula. Bystanders mocked some retreating sailors as "rats" fleeing a sinking ship. SENT 800 words, photos. UPCOMING: 980 words, photos by 3 p.m.

UKRAINE-CORRUPTION CULTURE

KIEV, Ukraine -- A hairstyling business closes four salons rather than deal with crooked tax officials. An independent salesman hustling paint from the trunk of his car faces a $5 million tax penalty. That's the world of small business in Ukraine -- a tangled thicket of bribe-hungry government inspectors and complicated, unpredictable regulations. Reforms to reduce graft and red tape are set to be part of the conditions of an international financial rescue package that officials in Kiev are expected to wrap up with the International Monetary Fund this week. By David McHugh. SENT: 1,070 words, photos

WASHINGTON & POLITICS

SCOTT BROWN

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- He is working to re-write political history, working the Red Arrow Diner, wearing faded blue jeans, cowboy boots and still driving his aging pickup truck. But a week after Scott Brown joined New Hampshire's suddenly high-profile U.S. Senate race, it's unclear if the every-man appeal that fueled his celebrity in Massachusetts is enough to revive his political career north of the border. There are signs that the state's notoriously feisty voters are reluctant to embrace the recent Republican transplant. By Steve Peoples. 750 words by 3 p.m.

--HILLARY AND JEB --Jeb Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton are speaking at a higher education conference that will focus on ways to address American problems with affordability. By Ken Thomas. 700 words by 3 p.m.

SCIENCE

UN-CLIMATE PANEL

If you think of climate change as a hazard faced by some far-off polar bear decades from now, you're mistaken. That's the message from top climate scientists gathering in Japan this week to issue a report on the impact of global warming. In fact, they will say, the dangers of a warming Earth are immediate and human. "The polar bear is us," says one scientist. By Science Writer Seth Borenstein. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

-- UNITED NATIONS-GLOBAL WEATHER -- The U.N. weeather agency says much of the extreme weather that wreaked havoc in Asia, Europe and the Pacific region last year can be blamed on human-induced climate change. SENT: 300 words, photo.

INTERNATIONAL

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Afghan toddler shot five times by Taliban militants who gunned down his parents and two siblings in a Kabul restaurant regains consciousness and asks for his mother, his relatives say, calling the survival of the boy, who is less than 2 years old, a miracle. Afghan investigators say the gunmen may have had inside help in the bold attack that killed nine people. By Kim Gamel. SENT: 200 words. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 3 p.m.

PISTORIUS-TRIAL

PRETORIA, South Africa -- Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend told the athlete that she was sometimes afraid of him and complained that he had a short temper and was jealous in the weeks before he killed her, according to phone messages revealed at the Olympian's murder trial. By Christopher Torchia and Carley Petesch. SENT: 950 words. UPCOMING: 850 words, photos by 2 p.m., photos.

NATIONAL

CHICAGO-TRAIN DERAILMENT

CHICAGO --A Chicago commuter train jumps its tracks, skids across a platform and scales an escaltor leading to O'Hare International Airport, injuring nearly three dozen people. Authorities are investigating why the train derailed in the early morning hours, but the timing of the accident may have avoided a larger disaster in the underground station that is usually packed with travelers. Carla K. Johnson and Priya Sridhar. SENT: 600 words, photos. UPCOMING: 700 words by 4 p.m., photos, video.

SEPT 11-MUSEUM

NEW YORK -- A long-awaited museum dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will open to the public at the World Trade Center site May 21. The opening will follow a ceremony and dedication period during which the museum will be open around the clock for 9/11 family members, rescue and recovery workers and others directly affected by the attacks. By Karen Matthews. SENT: 415 words, photos.

TEXAS BAY-OIL SPILL

TEXAS CITY, Texas -- The Coast Guard aimed to reopen one of the nation's busiest seaports two days after a collision between a barge and a ship caused nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil to spill into the waters south of Houston. The closure of the Houston Ship Channel created a bottleneck of more than 80 ships waiting to enter or leave the bay. Authorities were still trying to determine the full extent of the environmental damage and to manage a cleanup that might stretch up to 12 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. By Juan Lozano. SENT: 750 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: updated 750 words by 3 p.m.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

-- ARIZONA SHERIFF-RACIAL PROFILING -- Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and his top aide appear before a federal judge who says they have trivialized his finding that the department racially profiles Latinos. SENT: 580 words, photos. UPCOMING: 600 words by 2 p.m., photos.

-- COLORADO PLANE CRASH -- Authorities try to recover the bodies of 5 people feared dead after a small plane crashed into a cold southwestern Colorado reservoir. SENT: 300 words, photos. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m., photos.

-- GAY MARRIAGE-MICHIGAN -- Same-sex couples who took advantage of a brief legal window to get married this weekend in Michigan say they are being turned away while trying to make changes to legal documents including driver's licenses as the state appeals the federal judge's ruling overturning a ban on gay marriage. UPCOMING: 700 words by 4 p.m., photos.

-- BIN LADEN SPOKESMAN -- Closing arguments in the case against Osama bin Laden's son-in-law begin with a prosecutor saying he was recruited to be al-Qaida's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks and spread a message of hate against America. SENT: 530 words, filers of courtroom sketches. UPCOMING: updates from hearing, then 600 words by 5 p.m.

-- WINTRY WEATHER -- Parts of New England brace for a storm that could bring significant snowfall Tuesday night and Wednesday. UPCOMING: 250 words by 3 p.m.

-- CHRISTIE-TRAFFIC JAMS-- The head of a New Jersey legislative panel investigating a political payback plot says a review undertaken by Gov. Chris Christie's lawyers lacks credibility because information from key players in the operation is missing. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 400 words by 3 p.m.

-- SOLDIERS CHARGED-PLOT -- A former friend testifies that a Georgia-based soldier confessed to killing his pregnant wife by strangling her with a plastic bag over her head. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 500 words by 2:30 p.m.

-- OBIT-GWAR FRONTMAN -- Dave Brockie, who as "Oderus Urungus" fronted the alien-costumed heavy metal band GWAR during graphic and fake-blood-soaked stage shows for more than three decades, dies at age 50. SENT: 400 words.

-- TV-FALLON'S FAST START -- For NBC, Fallon ascendancy is 1 'Tonight' show transition that's working. SENT: 930 words, photos.

___

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