(March 21) Today's Top Headlines - Top 10 stories of the day - The Explorer: Today's Headlines

(March 21) Today's Top Headlines - Top 10 stories of the day

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Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014 2:56 pm

1. U.S. strengthens sanctions against Russia over Crimea crisis

President Obama on Thursday announced new economic sanctions against Russian leaders. Obama threatened stiffer penalties if the government of President Vladimir Putin does not stop escalating the crisis in Crimea by massing troops on Ukraine's border. The Putin administration responded by banning nine American officials, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, from entering Russia. [Los Angeles Times, NBC News]

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2. Turkish leader declares war on Twitter

Twitter users in Turkey ran into widespread disruptions on Thursday after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "eradicate" the microblogging site. Erdogan has been trying to block embarrassing social media leaks on a corruption investigation involving four former cabinet ministers. Hashtags such as "#DictatorErdogan" and "#TurkeyBlockedTwitter" promptly became the site's top trends worldwide. [CNN]

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3. Military court spares general prison in sexual misconduct case

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair avoided prison time in his sexual assault case and got a $20,000 fine instead. As part of a plea deal, Sinclair admitted to an affair with one subordinate and inappropriate relationships with two others. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the charge that he sexually assaulted a former lover. "The system worked," Sinclair said. The accuser's attorney, Jamie Barnett, called the light sentence a "travesty." [The Washington Post]

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4. Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps dies

Pastor Fred Phelps — founder of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church — has died of natural causes at age 84, the church said Thursday. The small church has become notorious for picketing military funerals and other public events and calling the deaths of soldiers and even children killed in school shootings punishment for the nation's acceptance of homosexuality. The church accused the media of "gleefully anticipating" Phelps' death. [CNN]

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5. Study paints a bleak picture for the long-term unemployed

Only 11 percent of the long-term unemployed will ever find another steady full-time job, according to a new report by three Princeton University economists. There are now 3.8 million Americans who have been out of work six months or more. That number has tripled since the recession began in late 2007, but has fallen since peaking at 6.8 million in 2010 as many stopped looking and left the labor force. [The Associated Press]

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6. Nearly every major bank weathers Fed stress tests

Just one of the nation's 30 biggest banks would be in danger of going under in a severe recession, according to the first round of the Federal Reserve's annual stress tests. Zions Bancorporation of Salt Lake City was identified as the lone institution that might wind up on the brink, but only under the most extreme of three economic scenarios. Collectively, the banks are in better shape than five years ago. [Los Angeles Times]

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7. Pistorius is selling his house to pay his lawyers

Oscar Pistorius' lawyer said Thursday that the Paralympian sprinter is raising money to pay his legal bills by selling the Pretoria house where he shot and killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. The double-amputee track star reportedly is paying his legal team $9,000 a day to defend him against a murder charge for the Valentine's Day 2013 shooting. Bidding on the house is starting at $459,000. [Agence France-Presse]

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8. Former Naval Academy athlete found not guilty of sexual assault

A military judge acquitted former United States Naval Academy football player Joshua Tate on charges that he sexually assaulted a fellow midshipman when she was too drunk to consent. Both defense and prosecution lawyers said the case showed the military justice system for handling rape cases was broken. Tate resigned from the Naval Academy late Thursday to avoid expulsion on a lesser charge of making false statements. [The New York Times]

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9. New photos do not change the story of Kurt Cobain's death

Seattle police on Thursday released new photos of the scene of Kurt Cobain's death nearly 20 years ago, but the previously unseen pictures didn't change the conclusion that the Nirvana frontman committed suicide. The images, showing mostly drug paraphernalia, contained "nothing Earth-shattering," a police spokeswoman said. The pictures came from several rolls of undeveloped film found by a cold-case detective. [SeattlePI.com]

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10. NCAA upsets eliminates most contenders for Buffett's $1 billion prize

A flurry of upsets on the first full day of March Madness knocked out 95 percent of the people hoping to win $1 billion from investing genius Warren Buffett for picking a perfect bracket in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament. Dayton's upset of No. 6 seed Ohio State knocked out 83 percent. Then Harvard upset Cincinnati, and North Dakota State shocked Oklahoma, leaving about 5 percent of picks still perfect. [The Associated Press]

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