Citing threats against ethnic Russians and a request for assistance from ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, Russia sent as many as 16,000 troops into the autonomous Ukrainian republic of Crimea, where they occupied Ukrainian navy headquarters in Sebastopol, tightened control over other naval installations and border outposts, and pressured soldiers to pledge loyalty to pro-Russian authorities. “What is this? Is it an invasion?” asked a Ukrainian officer of a Russian general. “It was a request to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin to offer help,” replied the general. “This is actually a declaration of war,” said Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, who was elected acting prime minister by Ukraine’s new parliament in Kiev. Masked gunmen in Simferopol seized Crimea’s Supreme Council building, which was subsequently declared closed “for renovations.” Tatars fought with pro-Russian protesters and sang karaoke outside, and Russian state media reported that the Crimean government was debating the adoption of Moscow Standard Time. Yanukovych declared from a Kremlin sanitarium that he remains Ukraine’s legitimate leader, NATO and the European Union demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops, Russia began a massive military exercise near the Ukrainian border, and the Ukrainian government began calling up reservists. “At this point we’re not just considering sanctions, given the action Russia is taking,” said a U.S. State Department official. “It is likely that we will put those in place.” President Barack Obama spoke on the phone with Putin for 90 minutes from the Oval Office, then traveled to Bethesda, Maryland, to attend his daughter Sasha’s dance recital. Following three weeks of clashes between protesters and government forces that killed at least 17 people, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced a two-day extension of Carnival. “Happiness will conquer the embittered,” he said during an appearance at a recreation center. Libya moved its parliament to a five-star hotel.
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose party is under investigation for bribery, denied the authenticity of a leaked wiretap in which he is allegedly heard instructing his son to remove tens of millions of dollars of his money from his son’s home, and accused opponents of sabotaging his government with automated social-media messages. “The robot lobby,” said Erdogan, “hits with tweets.” Steve McQueen, the director of 12 Years a Slave, became the first black filmmaker to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, and 2.95 million people retweeted a photo taken by actor Bradley Cooper of himself, Oscar-broadcast host Ellen DeGeneres, and nine other celebrities. Mt. Gox, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy after hackers stole 850,000 of its depositors’ bitcoins, which were valued at $460 million. Celebrity chef Paula Deen, who was sued last year for racial harassment, compared herself with NFL draft prospect Michael Sam, who recently came out as gay. “He said . . . ‘I don’t want to be known as a gay football player,’ ” said Deen. “I know exactly what he’s saying.” Outside Butterfield’s Pancake House in Scottsdale, Arizona, Vice President Joe Biden encouraged a Canadian woman to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. “I didn’t know if I should just say ‘I’m sorry — Canadian,’ ” said the woman.
A federal judge ruled Texas’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, and mayors Marty Walsh of Boston and Bill de Blasio of New York announced that they would boycott St. Patrick’s Day parades in order to protest bans on the participation of gay groups. “All we want to do,” said a Boston parade organizer, “is have a happy parade.” The Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper published the names of the country’s “200 top homos,” and the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, whose name translates as “Western education is sinful,” killed 59 students at a boarding school. “[They] have descended to bestiality,” said President Goodluck Jonathan. Pope Francis accidentally cursed in Italian while delivering his weekly blessing. “If each of us does not amass riches only for himself,” he said, “in this fuck . . . in this case, the provenance of God will become visible.” A New Zealand sex worker won a sexual-harassment lawsuit against a brothel owner, and the feminist group Spark called for greater racial and gender diversity in the commemorative “Doodles” that appear on Google.com. “The Doodles have made progress,” said the group in a press release. “But small changes are not enough.” In Syracuse, New York, a musician popular on YouTube was sentenced to five years in federal prison for soliciting and receiving nude photographs of underage female fans. “You should delete them,” he told a 16-year-old with whom he exchanged explicit images in 2010. “That’s like five years in federal prison.”
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