Russian President Putin visits occupied city of Mariupol

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The Kremlin says that Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the occupied port city of Mariupol, his first trip to Ukrainian territory that Moscow illegally annexed in September. Mariupol became a worldwide symbol of defiance after outgunned and outmanned Ukrainian forces held out in a steel mill there for nearly three months before Moscow finally took control of it in May. Putin traveled to Mariupol late Saturday after visiting Crimea, a short distance southwest of Mariupol, to mark the ninth anniversary of the Black Sea peninsula’s annexation from Ukraine. The visit has come as a show of defiance by the Russian leader two days after a court issued a warrant for his arrest on war crimes charges.

Higher cancer rates found in military pilots, ground crews

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pentagon study has found high rates of cancer among military pilots and, for the first time, shows that ground crews who fuel, maintain and launch those aircraft are also getting sick. The data had long been sought by retired military aviators who have raised alarms for years about the number of those they knew who had cancer. In its yearlong study of almost 900,000 service members who flew on or worked on military aircraft between 1992 and 2017, the Pentagon found significantly higher rates of melanoma, thyroid, brain, prostate and breast cancers. The findings now require an even larger review to try to identify the causes.

Macron's leadership at risk amid tensions over pension plan

PARIS (AP) — A parody photo appearing on protest signs and online in France shows President Emmanuel Macron sitting on piles of garbage. The image references the trash going uncollected with sanitation workers on strike, but also what many French people think about their 45-year-old leader. Macron hoped his push to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 would cement his legacy as the president who transformed France’s economy for the 21st century. Instead, he finds his leadership contested, both in parliament and on the streets of major cities. His decision to force a pension reform bill through without a vote could hamper his government’s ability to pass legislation for the remaining four years of his term.

In Chicago mayor's race, 2 hopefuls reflect Democrats' split

CHICAGO (AP) — The two candidates for Chicago mayor have very different ideas about the future of the heavily Democratic city. Brandon Johnson is a progressive county commissioner who last month advanced to an April 4 runoff thanks to heavy support from the teachers union. The 46-year-old former teacher and union member is endorsed by progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Paul Vallas finished first out of nine candidates in the February vote. The 69-year-old is a more moderate Democrat endorsed by the Chicago police union who focused strongly on reducing crime. He's backed by prominent members of the business community. The increasingly bitter contest is another example of broader tension within the Democratic Party.

Trump says he expects to be arrested, calls for protest

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump says in a social media post that he expects to be arrested Tuesday and he's calling on supporters to protest. A New York grand jury is investigating hush money payments to women who alleged sexual encounters with the former president. But there's no evidence that prosecutors have made any formal outreach to him. And a spokesperson and a lawyer for Trump says his Truth Social post was based on media reports rather than any actual update from, or communication with, prosecutors. The district attorney’s office declined to comment. Trump's post seems designed to preempt a formal announcement from prosecutors and to galvanize outrage from his base of supporters in advance of charges widely seen as coming soon.

From highlands to the coast, quake damages Ecuador, Peru

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — A strong earthquake that shook southern Ecuador and northern Peru has killed at least 15 people and left others trapped under rubble. Saturday's earthquake with about 6.8 magnitude has also brought down homes and buildings in vastly different communities, from coastal areas to the highlands. But in Ecuador, regardless of geography, many of those homes had a lot in common: They housed the poor, were old and did not meet building standards in the earthquake-prone country. Juan Vera says the government has offered to pay for the funerals of three relatives. But he wonders why authorities allowed them to live in the house that killed them.

Silicon Valley Bank collapse concerns founders of color

While Wall Street works to contain the biggest American bank failure since the 2008 financial meltdown, founders of startups who are people of color worry it could become even harder to secure financial support. Silicon Valley Bank opened its doors to such entrepreneurs, offering opportunities to form crucial relationships in the technology and financial communities that had been out of reach within larger financial institutions. They say the bank's swift demise also reflects the perilous journey people of color face while navigating industries that have been rife with racism and discrimination.

Bank failures: Anger in Congress, but division on what to do

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is trying to  figure out how best to respond to the abrupt failure of two U.S. banks. Lawmakers are up in arms over the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, and they're questioning what went wrong. But while President Joe Biden has urged Congress to strengthen the rules for banks to prevent more failures, lawmakers are divided on legislation. Republicans say the laws already in place were sufficient to prevent the bank failures, if only regulators had done their job. Democrats say a law signed by President Donald Trump in 2018 is a major contributor to what happened. The first of several hearings on the bank failures has been scheduled for March 29.

In Zimbabwe's rainy season, women forage for wild mushrooms

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s rainy season brings a bonanza of wild mushrooms, which many rural families feast upon and sell to boost their incomes. Rich in protein, antioxidants and fiber, wild mushrooms are a revered delicacy and income earner in Zimbabwe, where food and formal jobs are scarce for many. But the bounty also comes with danger as each year there are reports of people dying after eating poisonous fungi. Police routinely warn people of the hazards of consuming wild mushrooms. Discerning between safe and toxic mushrooms has evolved into an inter-generational transfer of indigenous knowledge from mothers to daughters.

March Madness: Top seeds fall in battle for Sweet 16 berths

The NCAA Tournament has gotten wild as teams battle for the national championship in men’s basketball. There have already been upsets, including top-seeded Purdue losing to 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson. A 16 over a 1 has only happened once before in the men's tournament. Top-seeded Kansas lost to 8-seed Arkansas. Sweet 16 weekend will see games in New York City, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Missouri, and Louisville, Kentucky. The Final Four is in Houston. The semifinals are on April 1, with the championship game on April 3.

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