BC-AP News Digest 2 pm

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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

At the Nerve Center, Mike Stewart and Dave Clark can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Swayne Hall (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, (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.

NEW & DEVELOPING

–CONGRESS-MEDICARE — Senate vote expected about 6 p.m.

TOP STORIES

HEALTH OVERHAUL

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration rushes for last-minute health care sign-ups with a zeal resembling an Election Day get-out-the-vote drive. Website problems provide an uncomfortable reminder of the difficult launch of the nation’s newest social program. By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar. SENT: 900 words. UPCOMING: 950 words, photos by 4 p.m.

– HEALTH OVERHAUL Q&A– As health care enrolment comes to a close, it’s time for a status report, although no one’s quite sure how to define success. UPCOMING: 1,500 words, photo by 3 p.m.

UKRAINE

SIMFEROPOL, Crimea — Russia pulls back a battalion from along the Ukrainian border and sends its prime minister to shower promises on Crimea, pledging quick funds to improve power supplies, water lines and education on its newly annexed peninsula. The United States calls any pullout a “welcome preliminary step” and urges Russia to talk to the Kyiv government to de-escalate the crisis. By Laura Mills and Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 1,000 words, photos, videos. UPCOMING: 1,000 words with new approach by 4 p.m.

MALAYSIA PLANE-DISTRACTING TRASH

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Sometimes the object spotted in the water is a snarled fishing line. Or a buoy. Or something that might once have been the lid to an ice box. Not once — not yet at least — has it been a clue. Anticipation has repeatedly turned into frustration in the search for signs of a missing Malaysia jetliner as objects spotted from planes have turned out to be just trash. It is a distraction for searchers, and points to wider problems in the world’s oceans. By Nick Perry. SENT: 900 words, photos.

– MALAYSIA-PLANE — Although it has been slow, difficult and frustrating so far, the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is nowhere near the point where it would be scaled back, Australia’s prime minister pledged. SENT: 1,300 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 900 words with new approach by 3 p.m.

– AP VIDEO MALAYSIA–PLANE — A cluster of orange objects spotted by a search plane hunting for any trace of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet turned out to be nothing more than fishing equipment.

GENERAL MOTORS-RECALL-YOUNG DRIVERS

DETROIT — The Chevrolet Cobalt and the Saturn Ion were inexpensive cars that General Motors marketed to young buyers and parents shopping for their kids. That put inexperienced drivers in cars with a particularly scary defect. The faulty ignition switches at the heart of GM’s recall of these cars can suddenly shut off the engine while the car is in motion, resulting in the loss of power-assisted steering and power brakes. An inexperienced driver is more likely to panic, auto safety experts say, and veer into oncoming traffic or drive off the road. GM has linked 13 deaths to the defective switches. Others have a higher total, with the majority of the victims under age 25. By Tom Krisher. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos by 4 p.m.

DIABETES-OBESITY SURGERY

WASHINGTON — New research is boosting hopes that weight-loss surgery can put some patients’ diabetes into remission for years and perhaps in some cases, for good. Longer results from a landmark study show that stomach-reducing operations are better than medications for treating “diabesity,” the deadly duo of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 870 words, photos, video.

BBO–OPENING DAY

After a brutal winter of arctic blasts and blustery snowstorms, baseball is ready to heat up with its first full slate of games this season. David Ortiz and the World Series champion Boston Red Sox begin their title defence in Baltimore against home run king Chris Davis and the AL East rival Orioles. Robinson Cano makes his Seattle Mariners debut, looking to live up to a huge contract — just like Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Behind the scenes, umpires at all six replay stations in New York will be at the ready for the first time in baseball history. By Howie Rumberg. SENT: 730 words, photos.

AP SPECIAL REPORT: GOP ADVANTAGE

GOP ADVANTAGE

WASHINGTON — Democrats can recruit great candidates, raise gobs of money and run smart campaigns but still face an uphill struggle to retake control of the House, all because Republican strategists focused on the 2010 Census and a few key state legislature races that year to tilt the playing field in the GOP’s favour for a decade. SENT: 1,680 words, photos, interactive, graphic, video. An abridged version of 1,000 words has also been sent.

– Sidebars on elements in the main story, as well as for all 50 states, including: CD-REDISTRICTING 101, CD-GERRYMANDERING, CD-GEOGRAPHY, CD-SECOND TIME, CD-INDEPENDENT COMMISSION, CD-SIX STATES, CD-WEALTHIEST DISTRICTS, CD-POLARIZED, CD-HEALTH CARE, CD-MINIMUM WAGE, CD-IMMIGRATION.

TUESDAY SPOTLIGHT

TREES-ICE STORM

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A vicious ice storm that made Christmas week nightmare from the Midwest to Maine shattered hundreds of trees at Michigan State University, where inch-thick layers of ice snapped thick limbs and trunks of stately towers that had stood for generations. As a result, the biology professor and curator of Michigan State’s arboretum is teaming with experts in several states to study which kinds of trees best withstand ice and other severe weather, and ways of making them even less vulnerable. The project could present communities with difficult questions of whether to give up on trees that have long been fixtures of their landscape in favour of less spectacular stalwarts that can bear up under strain like a well-conditioned athlete. By John Flesher. SENT: 800 words, photos.

WASHINGTON

CONGRESS-MEDICARE

WASHINGTON — Doctors will get a one-half of 1 per cent increase in their fees for treating Medicare patients instead of a 24 per cent cut. Congress is making its 17th temporary fix in the program’s poorly designed payment formula because lawmakers can’t agree on a permanent solution. By Andrew Taylor. UPCOMING: 600 words by 4 p.m.; Senate vote about 6 p.m., then 650 words, photos by 7 p.m.

INTERNATIONAL

CLIMATE REPORT-FOOD

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Global warming makes feeding the world harder and more expensive, a United Nations scientific panel said. A warmer world will push food prices higher, trigger “hotspots of hunger” among the world’s poorest people, and put the crunch on Western delights like fine wine and robust coffee, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in a 32-volume report. SENT: 560 words, photos.

– CLIMATE REPORT — If the world doesn’t cut pollution of heat-trapping gases, the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral “out of control,” the head of a United Nations scientific panel warns. SENT: 1,500 words, photos.

WORLD COURT-JAPAN-AUSTRALIA

The HAGUE, Netherlands — The future of whaling in Japan is thrown into doubt, as the International Court of Justice rules that Japan’s annual hunt in the Antarctic for hundreds of whales a year is not for scientific purposes as Tokyo had claimed and orders a halt. The decision leaves Japan with a tough choice between ending whaling outright or simply redesigning its programs and joining Norway and Iceland in openly flouting the international consensus against commercial whaling. By Toby Sterling. SENT: 990 words, photos, video.

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea fire hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters in a flare-up of animosity that forces residents of five South Korean islands to move to shelters. SENT: 710 words; photos, including.

– AP PHOTO SEL107– A South Korean marine LVT-7 landing craft sail to shores through a smoke screen during the U.S.-South Korea joint landing exercises.

ISRAEL-ANCIENT BOXES

JERUSALEM — Israeli authorities unveil 11 ancient burial boxes recovered by police, including a pair of ossuaries believed to contain the remains of two Jerusalem noblemen from around the time of Jesus. By Jon Gerberg. SENT: 400 words, photo, video. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 3 p.m.

FRANCE-POLITICS

PARIS — France’s government resigns ahead of a Cabinet reshuffling just a day after President Francois Hollande’s Socialists suffered significant losses in nationwide municipal elections. Disappointment with the Socialists’ handling of the economy drove many voters to conservative or anti-immigrant far-right candidates in the election Sunday. Hollande hopes a new prime minister and others will boost the government’s popularity. By Sylvie Corbet. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: 450 words by 2:30 p.m.

– FRANCE MAYOR — She wants to make Paris a greener place, make it more fun to wait in line at the Eiffel Tower, make the subway stay open all night. But one of the most remarkable things about this city’s new Mayor Anne Hidalgo is that she’s a she. SENT: 500 words, photos.

NATIONAL

CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shackled slaves. The courtroom where Brown v. the Board of Ed was decided. A phone call between Martin Luther King and LBJ. All are depicted at the new National Civil Rights Museum, which is reopening in the Lorraine Motel where King was shot. The museum reopens Saturday, the day after the 46th anniversary of King’s death, following a $28 million, 16-month renovation. By Adrian Sainz. SENT: 700 words, photos.

BUSINESS

YELLEN

WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen made clear that she thinks the still-subpar U.S. job market will continue to need the help of low interest rates “for some time.” SENT: 830 words, photo.

APPLE-SAMSUNG

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Jury selection began in the latest legal battle between the fiercest rivals in the world of smartphones, with Apple and Samsung accusing each other, once again, of ripping off designs and features. The trial in Silicon Valley marks the latest round in a long-running series of lawsuits between the two tech giants that underscore a much larger concern about what is allowed to be patented. By AP National Writer Martha Mendoza. SENT: 700 words, photo.

SPORTS

FINAL FOUR

One team is loaded with seniors, another almost all freshmen. There’s a team with a 7-footer who shoots 3-pointers and another with a muscular force in the middle. Two coaches have been to the Final Four multiple times, two will be there for the first time. This should be one interesting Final Four. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. UPCOMING: 800 words by 5 p.m.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

– WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE — Crews make a path through the muck and devastation from Washington’s deadly mudslide and try to clear the highway, leaving piles of gooey muck, splintered wood and housing insulation on the sides of the road. SENT: 320 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 400 words by 4 p.m.

– ALBUQUERQUE POLICE SHOOTINGS — Hundreds of protesters angry about recent police shootings in New Mexico clash with riot officers for more than 10 hours, calling on the police chief and other city officials to resign. SENT: 480 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m.

– OBIT-SURFBOARD INNOVATOR — Surfboard, sailboat innovator Hobart ‘Hobie’ Alter — who used foam to replace scarce balsa wood — dies in California at 80. SENT: 300 words. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos by 4 p.m.

– ISRAEL-OLMERT– An Israeli court convicts former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of bribery, a verdict that could send him to prison and crush his hopes for a political comeback. SENT: 750 words, photos.

– PAKISTAN — A Pakistani court indicts former ruler Pervez Musharraf on five counts of high treason. SENT: 750 words, photos.

– REALITY TV STAR SHOT — Nephew held without bail in shooting of rapper-reality TV star Benzino, claims self-defence. SENT: 280 words, photos.

– BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING-ARTIFACTS — Teddy bears, sneakers among artifacts from marathon memorial to be exhibited at Boston library. SENT: 630 words, photos.

– CHINA-PEOPLE-JOHNNY DEPP — Johnny Depp shows off diamond ‘chick’s ring’ in confirmation of his engagement to Amber Heard. SENT: 500 words, photos, video.

–MINIMUM WAGE-FAIRNESS-Q&A — The $7.25 federal minimum wage has been below what’s needed to keep a family of three out of poverty since 1980. Questions and answers about the dispute in Congress over whether to raise it to $10.10. SENT: 980 words, photo.

–CIA INVESTIGATIONS — A Senate investigation concludes that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods provided no key evidence in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to people familiar with the still-secret torture investigation that could exacerbate the rift between lawmakers and the CIA. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

–UNITED STATES-MIDEAST — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rushes to the Middle East to try to rescue his Mideast diplomatic efforts, as peace talks approach a critical make-or-break point. SENT: 540 words. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos by 4 p.m.

——

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14:08ET 31-03-14

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