BC-AP News Digest 6:30 pm

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Associated Press

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 6:30 AM

Eds: Re-sending to update UKRAINE digest line.

The world at 6:30 p.m. Times are EDT.

At the Nerve Center, Nina Sen and Mike Stewart can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, 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

— Adds BENGHAZI ATTACK.

— VATICAN-VENEZUELA — Vatican says it's willing, wants to help Venezuela mediation but needs to study aims, options. SENT: 300 words, photo.

— EXECUTION DRUGS-TEXAS — Texas Supreme Court halts order demanding release of execution drug supplier to attorneys. SENT: 740 words, photo.

— HAGEL-CYBER — Hagel: Pentagon to triple cyber staff as America's use of cyberspace outpaces security for it. SENT: 460 words.

— GUINEA-EBOLA — 8 cases of Ebola reported in capital of Guinea as fears rise over outbreak of deadly virus. SENT: 130 words.

— WHITE HOUSE-METHANE — White House targets methane leaks in oil and gas drilling in effort aimed at greenhouse gases. SENT: 790 words.

— ROLLS-ROYCE-CHEMICAL SPILL — Nitric acid spill injures 8 at Rolls-Royce plant in Indianapolis; 5 hospitalized. SENT: 270 words.

— TV-COLBERT TWEETS — Colbert's comedy causes Twitter storm. SENT: 130 words.

TOP STORIES

AP IMPACT: GENERAL MOTORS-RECALL-WATCHDOG WARNED

DETROIT — For years, the U.S. government told worried owners of the Chevrolet Cobalt and other General Motors small cars that it didn't have enough information about problems with unexpected stalling to establish a trend or open an investigation. But an Associated Press review of complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the agency received far more complaints about the Cobalt than any of the car's competitors from the same model years, except for the Toyota Corolla, which was recalled after a government investigation in 2010. And when the safety agency first reviewed the car in 2007, it was aware of two fatalities and a warning about the ignition switch from GM to its owners, but still declined to look any further. By Auto Writers Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin. SENT: 1,800 words, photos, video, interactive.

— GENERAL MOTORS-RECALL — GM adding 971,000 vehicles to ignition switch recall; brings total to more than 2.6 million. SENT: 330 words.

— GM RECALL-WATCHDOG WARNED-GLANCE — Information on GM's recall of 1.6 million small cars for defective ignition switches. SENT: 180 words.

UKRAINE

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin calls President Barack Obama to discuss a diplomatic solution to the escalating international standoff over Ukraine, while the country's fugitive leader urges a nationwide referendum that would serve Moscow's purpose of turning its western neighbor into a loosely knit federation. The statement from Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president who fled to Russia last month after three months of protests, raises the threat of more unrest in Ukraine's Russian-speaking eastern provinces, where many resent the new Ukrainian government. By Jim Heintz and Vladimir Isachenkov. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

— CRIMEA TATARS — Crimea's Tatars to gather as Russian laws threaten hard-earned hold over land. SENT: 640 words, photos.

WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE

ARLINGTON, Wash. — A mountainside community waits in anguish to hear the full death toll of Washington state's devastating mudslide after rescuers warn that they are unlikely to find anyone alive. With 25 fatalities confirmed, rescuers suggested that the 90 people still listed as missing could only be buried in the ruins of Oso. The official body count has been delayed by the careful work of searchers and medical examiner's office, whose jobs were complicated by the sheer magnitude of the disaster. Tons of earth and ambulance-sized boulders of clay smashed everything in their path. By Jonathan J. Cooper and Matt Volz. SENT: 750 words, photos, video.

— WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE-SURVIVOR'S TALE — One of the few survivors of the massive, deadly slide tells of swimming to the surface after a 'wav' of mud, water hit home. SENT: 600 words, photos.

— WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE-PAST SLIDES — Landslide in Washington state one of deadliest in nation's history. SENT: 310 words, video, photos.

— TOP VIDEO — wa-mudslide-survivor: Survivor tells of 'wave' hitting home.

MALAYSIA-PLANE

PERTH, Australia — With the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now three weeks old, authorities have shifted the focus of the search yet again — this time to an area of the Indian Ocean that is closer to Australia. In a break for those involved in the airborne hunt for the missing plane, the zone is a shorter flight in calmer weather. By Rob Griffith and Gillian Wong. SENT: 1,400 words, photos, video.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-BLACK BOXES — Secrets of the black box: What air investigators can learn from flight and voice recorders. SENT: 530 words, video.

— TOP VIDEO — ntsb_black_boxes: NTSB: Black boxes can survive years of saltwater.

OBAMA

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — President Barack Obama is considering allowing shipments of new air defense systems to the Syrian opposition, a U.S. official says, as Obama seeks to reassure Saudi Arabia's king that the U.S. is not taking too soft a stance in Syria and other Mideast conflicts. By White House Correspondent Julie Pace. SENT: 960 words, video, photos, video.

NUCLEAR MISSTEPS

WASHINGTON — A basic contradiction lies at the root of an exam-cheating scandal that decimated the ranks of an Air Force nuclear missile group, investigators say: Commanders were demanding perfection in testing and ethics but also tacitly condoned rule-bending or even willfully ignored cheating. By National Security Writer Robert Burns. SENT: 750 words, video, photos.

— NUCLEAR MISSTEPS-FINDINGS SO FAR — A list of key findings in connection with the investigation of problems in the nuclear missile program. SENT: 620 words.

MARRIAGE-HEART HEALTH

Love can sometimes break a heart, but marriage seems to do it a lot of good. A study of more than 3.5 million Americans finds that married people are less likely than singles, divorced or widowed folks to suffer any type of heart or blood vessel problem. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 570 words, graphic.

INTERNATIONAL

AFGHANISTAN

KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban militants attack an American charity and a nearby day care center, sending foreigners — including women and children — fleeing while Afghan security forces battle the gunmen. An Afghan girl, a driver and all five attackers are killed. The assault, the latest aimed at foreigners, suggests the Taliban are shifting tactics to focus on civilian targets that aren't as heavily protected as military and government installations as part of an upsurge in violence ahead of April 5 elections. By Amir Shah and Kim Gamel. SENT: 750 words, photos.

ISRAEL-US-VISAS

TEL AVIV, Israel — With the United States irked at Israel over its settlement policies and the lack of progress in peace talks, an obscure diplomatic classification has emerged as a new sticking point between the two allies. Israel has seen a spike in the number of young people and military officers rejected entry to America. By Aron Heller. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

BRITAIN-GAY MARRIAGE

LONDON — Londoners Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway registered their intent to marry on the first day gay couples could sign up for wedding ceremonies under Britain's new law. Eager to be part of history, the two men picked the earliest possible moment — just after midnight Friday, when the act legalizing same-sex marriage takes effect. Wee-hour weddings like theirs are taking place across England and Wales — a sign of a shift in attitudes in Britain. By Jill Lawless. SENT: 800 words, photos.

PHILIPPINES-TAX COLLECTOR

MANILA, Philippines — The sharp-shooting bureaucrat in charge of getting Filipinos to pay their fair share of taxes couldn't have chosen a higher profile target: Manny Pacquiao, the world champion boxer and hero to millions. The pursuit of the boxer and congressman made a striking statement that no one was above the law, but it wasn't universally popular. One of Pacquiao's fellow congressmen proposed legislation to give him a lifetime tax exemption because his sporting feats had inspired the country. By Oliver Teves. SENT: 990 words, photos.

RELIGION

POPE-PENTECOSTALS

The video, recorded on an iPhone, lasts less than eight minutes. The message is simple: We're brothers despite our differences. Yet, religious leaders say this informal greeting from Pope Francis has reset relations between the Roman Catholic Church and one of its fiercest competitors around the world — Pentecostals, the spirit-filled Christians whose popular movements have for decades been draining parishioners from Catholicism. Francis' invitation to dialogue and "a spiritual hug" has gone viral. While other popes have sought to build ties with Pentecostals, none before had so broadly or directly reached out in friendship. By Religion Writer Rachel Zoll. SENT: 1,230 words, photos.

NATIONAL

BENGHAZI ATTACK

WASHINGTON — A House Republican chairman is doggedly pursuing the question of whether military personnel were told to "stand down" during the 2012 deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, despite the insistence of military leaders and other Republicans that it never happened. By Donna Cassata. SENT: 1,000 words, photos.

TOMBOY-CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

FOREST, Va. — Eight-year-old Sunnie Kahle likes to keep her hair short, wear boys' clothes, collect hunting knives and shoot her BB gun. "She's a pure, 100 percent tomboy," says her great-grandfather and legal guardian, Carroll Thompson. But to Timberlake Christian School administrators, Carroll and Doris Thompson's acceptance of Sunnie's boyish ways warranted an ultimatum: Force her to start acting like a girl or look for another school. They found another school, but they aren't going quietly. By Larry O'Dell. SENT: 740 words, photos.

HEALTH

KIDS-HIGH CHOLESTEROL

There's fresh evidence that many young people could be headed for heart trouble. A study of preteens in Texas found that about one-third of them had borderline or high cholesterol when tested during routine physical exams. By Chief Medical Writer Marilynn Marchione. SENT: 490 words.

SPORTS

COLLEGE UNION-COLTER'S QUEST

CHICAGO — Growing up in Colorado, Kain Colter learned that looking out for others was part of the family business. His grandmother started her life picking cotton, then went on to become an office manager at a Boulder law firm, which hired his mother, too. Discussions about rights and equality and compensation happened all around him, all the time. He was listening. Colter, a quarterback for Northwestern who is preparing for the NFL draft, is now the face of an exploding movement to give college athletes the right to form unions and bargain. By Jay Cohen and Tim Reynolds. SENT: 1,100 words, video, photos.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— CHRISTIE-TRAFFIC JAMS — NJ Gov. Christie defends integrity of report that found him uninvolved in lane closures. SENT: 680 words, video, photos, audio.

— AP POLL-HEALTH OVERHAUL— Despite a late surge in sign-ups, support for Obama's health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago. SENT: 900 words, photo, graphic.

— CLINTON DOCUMENTS — Documents: Clinton aides began pursuing a presidential legacy as soon as he won 2nd term. SENT: 760 words, photos.

— GAY MARRIAGE-MICHIGAN — About 300 same-sex marriages that took place in Michigan before an appeals court put the unions on hold are receiving federal recognition. SENT: 680 words, photos.

— HOUSE-MICHIGAN-ROGERS — Rogers, GOP security hawk, announces he'll leave Congress next year to begin radio career. SENT: 850 words, photo.

— MEAT LABELING LAWSUIT — Shoppers will still be able to learn the origins of the beef on their dinner plate. A federal appeals court rejects industry attempts to end country-of-origin labeling. SENT: 600 words.

— MALAYSIA-PLANE-SAVIDGE — CNN's Martin Savidge has spent much of last 2 weeks in fake cockpit helping cover Malaysia plane story. SENT: 760 words, photo.

— NOBEL PEACE PRIZE-AUCTION — 1936 Nobel Peace Prize discovered in South American pawn shop sold at auction for $1.16M. SENT: 150 words, photos.

— OBIT-VIETNAM POW — Jeremiah Denton, Vietnam POW who blinked 'torture' in Morse code during TV interview, dies. SENT: 930 words, photo.

___

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