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Ukraine sought urgent Western backing on Monday after Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that Crimea had the right to join his country even while hinting at a readiness for dialogue. The pro-European team in Kiev that rode the wave of three months of deadly protests to topple a Kremlin-backed regime is running against the clock to preserve the territorial integrity of the culturally splintered nation of 46 million. The self-declared leadership on the predominantly ethnic Russian peninsula of Crimea has proclaimed independence from Kiev and set a March 16 referendum on switching over to Kremlin rule. The decision has been condemned by Western powers who are also furious at Moscow's seizure of Crimea in a lightning but bloodless operation that began days after the February 22 fall and subsequent escape to Russia of president Viktor Yanukovych.
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The chief prosecutor in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius on Monday asked the judge to bar broadcasting of what he says will be the graphic testimony of the expert who conducted the autopsy on Reeva Steenkamp, who was fatally shot by her athlete boyfriend.
EUREKA, Calif. (AP) — A powerful magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck late Sunday night off the coast of Northern California, but there were no immediate reports of injury or damage and no danger of a tsunami, officials said.