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Parliament agrees to pursue Crimean independence

KIEV, Ukraine — The Crimean parliament voted today that the Black Sea peninsula will declare itself an independent state if its residents agree to split off from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum.

Ukraine will join in Paralympics

SOCHI, Russia — Ukraine will compete in the Winter Paralympics in Sochi despite Russia’s military moves in Crimea.

Crimean lawmakers set vote for becoming part of Russia

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Lawmakers in Crimea declared their intention today to split from Ukraine and join Russia instead, and scheduled a referendum in 10 days for voters to decide the fate of the disputed peninsula. Russia’s parliament, clearly savoring the action, introduced a bill intended to make this happen.
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Distraught Pistorius tried to save girlfriend, witness says

PRETORIA, South Africa — As the girlfriend he shot lay dead or dying in his home, a weeping, praying Oscar Pistorius knelt at her side and struggled in vain to help her breathe by holding two fingers in her clenched mouth, a witness testified today at the double-amputee runner’s murder trial.
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Depth perception: Science learns from deep-dwelling fish

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — They may look like guts stuffed in cellophane, but five fish hauled up from near-record depths off the coast of New Zealand are providing scientists with new insights into how deep fish can survive.
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Ukraine skirmishes are mostly verbal

KIEV, Ukraine — Russian and Ukrainian officials dug in on their armed standoff over the strategic Crimean peninsula today, with the new head of national security for Ukraine saying the Kremlin needed to acknowledge the failure of its “blitzkrieg” against the southern territory and Russia’s foreign minister insisting Moscow isn’t calling the shots there.

Health organization serves up sour news on sugar

LONDON — Just try sugar-coating this: The World Health Organization says your daily sugar intake should be just 5 percent of your total calories — half of what the agency previously recommended, according to new draft guidelines published Wednesday.
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Unrepentant Putin accuses West of sowing seeds of anarchy in Ukraine

MOSCOW — Accusing the West of encouraging an “unconstitutional coup” in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin said today that Moscow reserves the right to use its military to protect Russians there but voiced hope it won’t need to do so. The Russian leader’s first comments on Ukraine since its fugitive president fled to Russia came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev to meet with Ukraine’s new government.
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Ukraine says Russians have invaded

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Ukraine accused Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” today, saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula. Russia kept silent on the accusations, as the crisis deepened between two of Europe’s largest countries.
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Bitcoin exchange seeks bankruptcy protection

TOKYO — The Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo filed for bankruptcy protection today, and its chief executive said 850,000 bitcoins, worth several hundred million dollars, are unaccounted for.
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1,900-mile march for the lost reaches Pakistan’s capital

ISLAMABAD — A group of Baluch activists are finishing a nearly 1,900-mile protest march across Pakistan, demonstrating in the capital today to demand justice for missing loved ones they say security forces abducted while battling insurgents.
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On way out, Locke urges China on human rights

BEIJING — The outgoing U.S. ambassador to China urged Beijing today to respect the rights of peaceful political activists and said Washington was deeply concerned about the fate of a minority scholar charged with separatism.

Russia reportedly sheltering Ukraine’s fugitive president

KIEV, Ukraine — Russia scrambled fighter jets to patrol its border and reportedly gave shelter to Ukraine’s fugitive president as pro-Russian gunmen stormed offices of Ukraine’s strategic region, deepening the crisis for the new Ukrainian government even as it was being formed.

Syrian government claims 175 rebel deaths in ambush

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian army troops killed 175 rebels in an ambush today south of Damascus, state media reported, a major attack targeting mostly al-Qaida-linked fighters as part of a government effort to secure the capital.
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Pro-, anti-Russian demonstrators scuffle in the streets

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Fistfights broke out between pro- and anti-Russian demonstrators in Ukraine’s strategic Crimea region today as Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered massive military exercises just across the border.
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Bitcoin exchange’s fall could doom new currency

TOKYO — A major bitcoin exchange has gone bust after secretly racking up catastrophic losses, other virtual currency companies said today — a potentially fatal blow for the exotic new form of money.

Islamic extremists suspected in bloody school attack

DAMATURU, Nigeria — Yobe state governor’s spokesman says soldiers guarding a checkpoint near a government school mysteriously withdrew hours before a pre-dawn attack in which suspected Islamic extremists killed at least 29 students.