A New Round of Uncertainty in Ukraine: Associated Press: "Masked gunmen stormed parliament in Ukraine's strategic Crimea region Thursday as Russian fighter jets scrambled to patrol borders, while the newly formed government pledged to prevent a national breakup with strong backing from the West — the stirrings of a potentially dangerous confrontation reminiscent of Cold War brinksmanship. Moscow granted shelter to Ukraine's fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, state media said. He was said to be holed up in a luxury government retreat and to have scheduled a news conference Friday near the Ukrainian border. .... The escalating conflict sent Ukraine's finances plummeting further, prompting Western leaders to prepare an emergency financial package. ... For Ukraine's neighbors, the specter of Ukraine breaking up evoked memories of centuries of bloody conflict."
All Eyes on Putin: New York Times: "Despite repeated vows not to interfere or intervene, President Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia has now found itself more deeply ensnared than ever in Ukraine’s worsening political crisis, facing appeals to support the country’s ethnic Russians, provide haven for its deposed president and perhaps even undertake a military response. The question is whether he intended it that way. Mr. Putin himself has made no public remarks on the turmoil in Ukraine since President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s flight from Kiev six days ago. ... Putin’s silence has resulted in confusion over Russia’s policy, even as the crisis in Ukraine has moved closer to Russia’s own border and raised concerns about Ukraine’s geopolitical and economic impact on Russia, which could stand to lose what it considers a place that is not only within its sphere of influence but part of its political and social identity. ... For now, Mr. Putin’s strategy for retaining Russia’s influence in a country where the Kremlin has profound interests — from its largest foreign military base to gas pipelines that fuel its economy — remains unknown and full of risks. Even so, events are subtly forcing Moscow’s hand."
The World: Maybe Ukraine Be Better Off Splitting Up
Marriage Equality: USA Today: "A federal judge on Thursday ordered Kentucky officials to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed out of state. U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn ruled that Kentucky's Constitution and laws banning recognition of such marriages 'violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable.' The decision amounted to a final ruling of his Feb. 12 opinion in the case. Attorney Dan Canon, a lawyer for the four gay and lesbian couples who won the case, said: 'We are cautiously optimistic. The order has been granted without qualification and without a stay.' Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway had asked the judge on Thursday to delay his order by 90 days to give him the chance to decide whether to appeal."
Holder's Health: Washington Post: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center on Thursday morning after experiencing faintness and shortness of breath. He was discharged at 1:15 p.m., and was resting at home in the afternoon. Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said Holder, 63, had complained of the symptoms during his regular morning meeting with senior staff. ... 'The president was notified and, of course, wishes him a speedy recovery,' said White House spokesman Jay Carney."
Tastes Like Yoga Mat: NBC News: "Nearly 500 foods found on grocery store shelves in the United States, including many foods labeled as 'healthy,' contain a potentially hazardous industrial plastics chemical, according to a report issued Thursday by a health research and advocacy group. Azodicarbonamide, also known as ADA, was found as an ingredient in breads, bagels, tortillas, hamburger and hot dog buns, pizza, pastries, and other food products, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group, based in Washington. ... Fast food chain Subway said earlier this month that it was removing the chemical from its products, but stated that ADA is a safe and widely used ingredient for many foods. Azodicarbonamide is fully approved for use in food by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. But ADA is banned as an additive in Australia and some European countries. As a food additive, azodicarbonamide is used as a flour bleaching agent and as an oxidizing agent in dough to improve its performance for bakers. It is also used in plastics to improve elasticity and can be found in yoga mats and shoes."
SoCal Evacuations: CBS News: "Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for 1,000 homes in two foothill suburbs east of Los Angeles in advance of a powerful storm. The cities of Glendora and Azusa issued the orders at midday Thursday for homes that could be endangered by debris flows from nearly 2,000 acres of steep mountain slopes burned by a wildfire last month. ... For days, both cities have been making extensive preparations including sandbagging. California received widespread rain Wednesday and early Thursday from the first of two back-to-back storms. The more powerful second storm is due overnight."
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