(Feb. 20) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day - The Explorer: Today's Headlines

(Feb. 20) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:13 am

1. Deadly clash disrupts Ukraine's truce within hours

At least 25 people were killed Thursday as armed protesters stormed police barricades in an attempt to retake part of Kiev's Independence Square. The violence shattered a truce Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had struck with opposition leaders on Wednesday. The two sides also said they would negotiate to end the violence after 26 were killed Tuesday. Yanukovych is in Brussels for crisis talks with European Union leaders, who are expected to impose sanctions on his government. [The Telegraph, The Associated Press]

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2. Facebook agrees to buy WhatsApp for $16 billion

Facebook announced Wednesday that it was acquiring messaging startup WhatsApp for $16 billion, but the deal could total $19 billion when all cash and stock are factored in. WhatsApp has more than 450 million monthly users, and most use the service daily. It's adding a million users a day. "WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. "The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable." Investors were less enthused; Facebook shares fell by 1 percent Wednesday. [Bloomberg Businessweek, Barron's]

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3. Housing construction slowdown deepens

Groundbreaking on new U.S. homes took its biggest dive in nearly three years in January, dropping by 16 percent, according to Commerce Department data released Wednesday. Analysts blamed the slowdown on an extended barrage of harsh winter weather. Snow and ice weren't the only factors, though. Construction has declined for three straight months, suggesting persistent weakness in a housing market that many people had thought was on the path to recovery. [Reuters]

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4. Homeland Security tells airlines to watch for shoe bombers

The Department of Homeland Security warned airlines on Wednesday that there was the possibility that terrorists might try to strike with a shoe bomb, although there was no evidence of a specific plot. Officials told NBC News that the advisory was based on "very recent intelligence." Air carriers were told to be extra careful on flights heading to the U.S. from overseas. Security screeners will use explosive-detecting swabs on passengers' shoes, and are intensifying preboarding checks on those flights. [NBC News]

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5. Missouri coach accused of kidnapping, killing 10-year-old girl

A coach at a Springfield, Mo., elementary school was arrested Wednesday and charged with kidnapping a 10-year-old girl as she walked near her home and then killing her. Neighbors saw the driver of a gold Ford Ranger abduct the girl, Hailey Owens. A neighbor chased the vehicle in a car and gave the Ranger's license plate number to 911 before losing sight of the vehicle. That information led police to the home of the coach, Craig Michael Wood, 45. A body, believed to be Hailey's, was found in his house. [Los Angeles Times]

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6. Nebraska judge delivers a setback to the Keystone XL pipeline

A Nebraska judge has declared a law allowing the Keystone XL oil pipeline to pass through the state "unconstitutional and void." The legislation transferred the authority to approve the controversial TransCanada Corp. project's path through Nebraska from the Public Service Commission to Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican. He signed off on the pipeline in January 2013. The ruling was a victory for property owners who had sued to block the planned route. [Bloomberg News]

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7. Faith-healing parents sent to prison for sick child's death

A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday sentenced a faith-healing couple to up to seven years in prison after a second of their children — an 8-month-old boy — died after being treated for pneumonia with prayers instead of medical care. "You've killed two of your children... not God," the judge told the Pentecostal couple, Herbert and Catherine Schaible. The Schaibles expressed remorse for violating a court order, issued after a 2-year-old son's 2009 death, to go to a doctor if another child got sick. [USA Today]

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8. New York to stop putting young inmates in solitary confinement

New York is cutting back on the use of solitary confinement to punish prison inmates, according to court papers released Wednesday. The state agreed to the changes as part of deal aiming to settle a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three 16- and 17-year-old prisoners. Under the agreement, New York's will be the largest prison system in the country prohibiting the use of solitary confinement to punish inmates under age 18. [The New York Times]

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9. Arrest of opposition leader raises the stakes in Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez made his first appearance in court Wednesday, a day after turning himself in to face charges that he incited anti-government violence. Clashes have killed five people in a week. Lopez said the country had been severely damaged by 15 years of socialist rule, first under the late Hugo Chavez and now under his successor, President Nicolas Maduro. He said going to prison would be worth it if it helped "awaken Venezuela." [The Associated Press]

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10. Google considers extending super-fast internet service

Google on Wednesday said it was considering extending its gigabit internet network to cover nine more urban areas with 34 cities — San Jose; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; Atlanta; Nashville; San Antonio; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Google Fiber is now available only in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, Utah. The service — 100 times faster than what most Americans have — was once considered experimental, one expert said, but now "we're starting to see gigabit envy." [CNET]

Compiled by theweek.com

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