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By AP

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Updated: Fri, 14 Mar 2014 01:13:58 EST

MALAYSIA-PLANE-ENGINES

AP source: No data after contact lost with plane

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. official says there were no data transmitted on the status of a missing Malaysia Airlines jet's engines after contact was lost with the plane.

The official said Thursday that investigators are beginning to explore whether the plane may have flown for another four hours after contact was lost, based on the estimated fuel on board and the inability of searchers thus far to find wreckage.

The official said there was information about the Boeing 777-200's engines sent via a digital datalink along with other information on the functioning of the plane before contact was lost.

The official familiar with the investigation spoke only on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak about it publicly.

PLANE EMERGENCY-PHILLY

Jet aborts takeoff after gear failure in Philly

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Passengers have been evacuated from a Florida-bound plane at Philadelphia International Airport after a mechanical failure.

Airline officials said USAirways Flight 1702 was heading to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when the pilot was forced to abort takeoff around 6:30 p.m. Thursday after the front landing gear collapsed.

An airport spokeswoman says two passengers asked for medical assistance, but no serious injuries were reported

Spokeswoman Victoria Lupica says the Airbus 320 was carrying 149 passengers and five crew. All were rescheduled on departing flights Thursday night.

Lupica says three of the four runways were reopened within a few hours of the crash and only the runway where the accident occurred remained closed.

NYC EXPLOSION

Death toll in NYC explosion climbs to 8

NEW YORK (AP) — New York officials say an eighth victim has been pulled from the rubble of a gas explosion that destroyed two buildings in East Harlem.

No name or identifying details were given for the body taken from the rubble Thursday. Of the seven other victims recovered, three women and one man have been identified A handful of people are still unaccounted for and it's still being treated as a rescue mission.

Workers estimate they are about halfway through clearing the rubble.

Investigators are trying to pinpoint the source of the gas leak. They're determining whether it had anything to do with New York's aging gas and water mains, some from the 1800s.

UNITED-NATIONS-UKRAINE

Ukraine accuses Russia of 'military aggression'

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Ukraine's prime minister is accusing Russia of carrying out a "military aggression" which has "no reason and no grounds" and is unacceptable.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday he is convinced Russians don't want war.

He urged Russia's leaders to heed the people's wishes and return to dialogue with Ukraine. "If we start real talks with Russia, I believe we can be real partners," Yatsenyuk said.

He said Ukraine gave up the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal in 1994 in exchange for guarantees of its independence and territorial integrity.

After Russia's recent actions, Yatsenyuk said, "it would be difficult to convince anyone on the globe not to have nuclear weapons."

Russian troops now control the Crimean Peninsula, where voters decide Sunday whether to become part of Russia.

CONGRESS-UKRAINE

No Ukraine aid yet from US amid Republican split

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress won't be able to authorize aid to Ukraine until after March 24 amid disagreements among several Republicans.

The Senate is unlikely to vote before leaving for recess Thursday evening on a bill approving $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and International Monetary Fund reforms. Four Republicans backed it as the Foreign Relations Committee voted 14-3 in favor Wednesday.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner urged the Senate anew Thursday to adopt House-approved legislation for the loans, without sanctions or IMF provisions.

Many in his caucus reject expanding the IMF's lending capacity, which every other major country has approved.

They say it increases U.S. taxpayer exposure; the counterargument is it immediately releases money for Ukraine.

Other Republicans oppose paying for the loans with unused military money.

CONGRESS-UNEMPLOYMENT

Senators reach deal extending jobless benefits

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan group of senators says they have reached a compromise extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for five months.

If the Senate approves, the deal would break a months-long stalemate over the issue in the chamber between the two parties.

Two leaders of the negotiations — Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada — said in a statement Thursday that the deal would be retroactive to the end of last year. Since that time, jobless coverage has expired for roughly 2 million people.

The proposal would be paid for by extending some customs fees and changing how some companies set aside money for pensions, in effect increasing their taxes.

The deal also ends jobless payments to people earning over $1 million.

OBAMA-IMMIGRATION

Obama orders review of US deportation practices

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama has ordered a review of U.S. deportation practices to see whether immigration enforcement can be more humane.

Obama met Thursday with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss efforts to overhaul the U.S. immigration system.

The White House says Obama told the lawmakers he's deeply concerned about the pain families feel when they are separated because of the broken immigration system.

Obama has asked Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to perform an inventory to see whether enforcement can be conducted more humanely while adhering to the law.

The announcement comes as immigrant rights activists who are frustrated by the lack of progress in Congress have been pressuring Obama to halt all deportations. Obama has said he can't take that step unilaterally.

COAL ASH SPILL-NORTH CAROLINA

Emails show close ties between Duke, NC regulators

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Internal emails between staff at North Carolina's environmental agency suggest state regulators were coordinating with Duke Energy before intervening in efforts by citizens groups trying to sue the company over pollution leeching from its coal ash dumps.

The emails were provided Thursday to The Associated Press by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which had filed notice in January 2013 of its intent to sue Duke under the Clean Water Act.

The emails show a Duke lobbyist contacted the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to set up a meeting within days of that notice. The emails suggest the company and regulators were in frequent contact.

The agency used its authority to intervene in the lawsuit, quickly negotiating a proposed settlement where the $50 billion company would pay a $99,100 fine but be under no requirement to stop its pollution.

DANNON-HEALTH PLAN

NEW: Dannon to reduce sugar in yogurt for kids

NEW YORK (AP) — Dannon says it will cut back the amount of sugar in its yogurts intended for children.

The move is part of a variety of measures the company is taking to improve the nutritional content of its yogurts by 2016. The plans will be announced Friday with the Partnership for a Healthier America, which was created in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama and works with the private sector to address childhood obesity.

One of the goals outlined is to have all its yogurts for kids — such as Danimals — contain 23 grams or less of sugar per 6-ounce serving. Currently, the company says only 30 percent of its yogurt for kids meet that standard.

CORZINE-SON'S DEATH

New Jersey ex-governor Corzine's son dies at 31

Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine's (KOHR'-zynz) son has died.

Corzine spokesman Steven Goldberg says 31-year-old Jeffrey Corzine had suffered from severe depression for years and killed himself Tuesday. Goldberg says he'd been receiving treatment for a painful physical and mental ailment and "made the tragic decision to take his own life."

Goldberg says in a statement issued Thursday the former governor is "devastated."

Jeffrey Corzine was the youngest of the former politician's three children with ex-wife Joanne Corzine. He often joined his father during the 2005 gubernatorial race and was by his side following a near-fatal 2009 car accident.

Jon Corzine was a Wall Street CEO before becoming a Democratic U.S. senator and governor.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie has sent condolences on behalf of "all the people of New Jersey." Christie defeated Corzine in 2009.

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