Obama declares sanctions against Russian officials after Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unsuccessful with previous threats, the United States and its European allies stepped up their pressure on Russia to end its intervention in Ukraine on Monday by imposing the most comprehensive sanctions against Russian officials since the Cold War.
Acting in concert with Europe, the Obama administration froze the U.S. assets of seven Russian officials, including top advisers to President Vladimir Putin, for their support of Crimea's vote to secede from Ukraine, while similar sanctions were imposed on four Ukrainian officials for instigating Sunday's Crimean referendum.
Although the threat of sanctions has failed thus far to persuade Putin to drop support for Crimea's secession and potential entry into the Russian Federation -- or to pull back from threatening military moves near Ukraine's south and east -- President Barack Obama said failure to step back now would draw move severe consequences.
"If Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine, we stand ready to impose further sanctions," Obama declared at the White House shortly after the penalties were announced. He noted that Vice President Joe Biden would be traveling to Europe late Monday to reassure Eastern European leaders of America's commitment to them and that he himself would be going next week on a previously planned trip to make a similar point. Secretary of State John Kerry also is expected in Europe in the coming days.
"We'll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world," he said. "The international community will continue to stand together to oppose any violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russian economy."
New uncertainty arises over when communications went out aboard missing Malaysian jetliner
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Officials have revealed a new timeline suggesting the final voice transmission from the cockpit of the missing Malaysian plane may have occurred before any of its communications systems were disabled, adding more uncertainty about who aboard might have been to blame.
The search for Flight 370, which vanished early March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, has now been expanded deep into the northern and southern hemispheres. Australian vessels scoured the southern Indian Ocean and China offered 21 of its satellites to help Malaysia in the unprecedented hunt.
With no wreckage found in one of the most puzzling aviation mysteries of all time, passengers' relatives have been left in an agonizing limbo.
Investigators say the Boeing 777 was deliberately diverted during its overnight flight and flew off-course for hours. They haven't ruled out hijacking, sabotage, or pilot suicide, and are checking the backgrounds of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members -- as well as the ground crew -- for personal problems, psychological issues or links to terrorists.
Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Monday that finding the plane was still the main focus, and he did not rule out that it might be discovered intact.
10 Things to Know for Tuesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:
1. WHO RECOGNIZES CRIMEA AS 'INDEPENDENT AND SOVEREIGN'
Russian President Vladimir Putin brushes off U.S. and European Union sanctions, a day after the region voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia.
With deadline looming, Texas makes final push to enroll uninsured families in new health plans
HOUSTON (AP) -- Sara Rodriguez recently received a $4,000 bill for a six-hour emergency room visit to treat a fever. She says she can't pay, but she's also not planning to buy health insurance through the new federal marketplace.
Rodriguez, like others gathered in a Houston gymnasium listening to a presentation about the health care overhaul, says she can't afford insurance, even for $50 a month. With two young children and barely $400 of income a month after paying rent, she struggles to feed her family.
"It's the law, but I'm not interested," the 27-year-old says, explaining that she attended the presentation only because her GED teacher is making her write an essay. "I cannot afford it."
The presentation ends and Rodriguez grabs her belongings and rushes out, forgoing the opportunity to make an appointment for enrollment assistance. The crowd of about 200 quickly dwindles, with some stragglers lingering to schedule appointments.
As a March 31 deadline draws near, this is a daily reality in Texas, where nearly 1 in 4 residents is uninsured, the highest rate in the nation.
American news appetites crave serious as well as entertaining, draw from varied media sources
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans of all ages still pay heed to serious news even as they seek out the lighter stuff, choosing their own way across a media landscape that no longer relies on front pages and evening newscasts to dictate what's worth knowing, according to a new study from the Media Insight Project.
The findings burst the myth of the media "bubble" -- the idea that no one pays attention to anything beyond a limited sphere of interest, like celebrities or college hoops or Facebook posts.
"This idea that somehow we're all going down narrow paths of interest and that many people are just sort of amusing themselves to death and not interested in the news and the world around them? That is not the case," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, which teamed with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research on the project.
People today are nibbling from a news buffet spread across 24-hour television, websites, radio, newspapers and magazines, and social networks.
Three-fourths of Americans see or hear news daily, including 6 of 10 adults under age 30, the study found. Nearly everyone -- about 9 in 10 people -- said they enjoy keeping up with the news. And more than 6 in 10 say that wherever they find the news, they prefer it to come directly from a news organization.
General who took plea deal chokes up, says he failed woman who accused him of sexual assault
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) -- An Army general who admitted to improper relationships with three subordinates appeared to choke up Monday as he told a judge that he'd failed the female captain who had leveled the most serious accusations against him.
Hours later, she took the stand to testify about how she can't trust people and fears her superiors are always going to take advantage of her in the aftermath of the three-year affair.
As he pleaded guilty, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's voice halted when telling the judge why he was pleading guilty to mistreating her in a deal that included the dropping of sexual assault charges.
"I failed her as a leader and as a mentor and caused harm to her emotional state," Sinclair said, his voice catching as he read from a statement. He asked the judge for a break and took a long drink of water before continuing to read.
"I created a situation over time that caused her emotional harm," Sinclair said, seated in his dress blue uniform. It was the first public show of regret or sadness for a 27-year veteran who had betrayed little emotion in court hearings over the past year.
NYC mayor skips St. Pat's parade amid tension over gays; Ireland official promotes 'Irishness'
NEW YORK (AP) -- A weekend of St. Patrick's Day revelry and tensions over the exclusion of gays in some of the celebrations culminated Monday in New York, where the world's largest parade celebrating Irish heritage stepped off without the city's new mayor and Guinness beer amid a dispute over whether participants can carry pro-gay signs.
The parade of kilted Irish-Americans and bagpipers set off on a cold, gray morning. Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined Fifth Avenue, but the shivering, bundled up crowd was only about half as thick as in previous years.
Revelers also gathered elsewhere for green-themed celebrations, including some 400,000 locals and tourists in Dublin, where gay rights groups took part in the festivities.
De Blasio held New York's traditional St. Patrick's Day breakfast at Gracie Mansion with the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, but boycotted the parade because organizers said marchers were not allowed to carry gay-friendly signs or identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Weeks ago de Blasio said he would skip the parade over the issue, but Guinness abruptly dropped its support a day before the event. The Dublin-based company pulled sponsorship assets, including on-air presence, parade participation and any promotional materials that weren't already printed, although the beer maker had already made a payment to parade organizers, spokeswoman Alix Dunn said.
TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for bilking book buyers
CHICAGO (AP) -- Best-selling author Kevin Trudeau, whose name became synonymous with late-night TV pitches, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday for bilking consumers through ubiquitous infomercials for his book, "The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About."
As he imposed the sentence prosecutors had requested, U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman portrayed the 50-year-old Trudeau as a habitual fraudster going back to his early adulthood. So brazen was Trudeau, the judge said, he once even used his own mother's Social Security number in a scheme.
"Since his 20s, he has steadfastly attempted to cheat others for his own gain," Guzman said, adding that Trudeau is "deceitful to the very core."
Trudeau, whose trademark dyed black hair turned partially gray as he awaited sentencing in jail, showed little emotion as the stiff sentence was handed down at the hearing in Chicago.
Addressing the judge earlier in a 10-minute statement, Trudeau apologized and said he's become a changed man. He said he's meditated, prayed and read self-help books while locked up at Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center.
L'Wren Scott, fashion designer and girlfriend of Mick Jagger, dead in apparent NY suicide
NEW YORK (AP) -- L'Wren Scott, who left her small-town Utah home as a teenager to become a model in Paris, then a top Hollywood stylist and finally a high-end fashion designer best known as the longtime girlfriend of Mick Jagger, has died in what was being investigated as an apparent suicide.
Scott was found dead in her Manhattan apartment at 10 a.m. Monday; no note was found and there was no sign of foul play, police said. The designer had texted her assistant 90 minutes earlier and asked her to come to her apartment but didn't say why. She was found kneeling with a scarf wrapped around her neck that had been tied to the handle of a French door, police said.
Her spokesperson requested privacy for her family and friends. Just last month Scott, who was believed to be 49 but had not disclosed her precise age, canceled her London Fashion Week show, due to reported production delays.
Jagger's representative said the singer was "completely shocked and devastated by the news" of her death.
Scott, whose elegant designs in lush fabrics were favored by celebrities like Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Oprah Winfrey, Penelope Cruz and first lady Michelle Obama, was a fixture on Jagger's arm since she met the Rolling Stones frontman in 2001. On red carpets, the striking 6-foot-3 designer towered over her famous 5-foot-10 boyfriend.
NCAA Tournament Guide: Shockers to Spartans, Devils to Friars, McDermott to Madness
College basketball fans, start your brackets.
March Madness kicks into high gear this week with the start of the NCAA tournament, the time hoop heads circle the calendar like it's Christmas.
This year's run through the field of 68 should be a blast -- an undefeated team in the bracket, a wide-open field and a heavy dose of great players.
So stock up the fridge, work on that fake cough to call in sick and dig the remote from under the couch cushions. It's time to roll.