Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 14, 2014

Senators reach a deal to restore unemployment benefits, Russian troops gather outside Ukraine, and more

1. Senators strike a deal on renewing jobless benefitsSenate negotiators announced on Thursday that they had reached a bipartisan deal to restore emergency long-term unemployment benefits to more than 2 million Americans. The bill would provide benefits through May, with retroactive payments to those whose coverage lapsed in December. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the House would consider the measure, but GOP enthusiasm for it has waned as the economy improved. [The Wall Street Journal]………………………………………………………………………………

2. Russia puts soldiers by Ukraine ahead of Crimea secession voteRussia has massed at least 10,000 troops near the Ukrainian border as tensions intensified ahead of Sunday's secession vote in Ukraine's Crimea region. Moscow says it is just holding military exercises. Ukraine's interim government braced for what it said was a looming invasion, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia to loosen its grip on Crimea or face diplomatic retaliation and economic sanctions. [The New York Times]………………………………………………………………………………

3. Malaysia Airlines plane might have flown undetected for hoursU.S. officials said Thursday that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 might have flown for up to five hours after sending its last transponder signal. Malaysian authorities are convinced they received several "pings" from the airliner's service data system after it vanished. That would have given it time to fly on a new course to the Indian Ocean, so investigators opened a vast new search area there. [CNN]………………………………………………………………………………

4. Manhattan explosion death toll risesThe death toll from a massive New York City explosion and fire has risen to eight, and three people were still missing early Friday. Fifty-four others were injured. Federal safety authorities have launched an investigation into the blast, which reduced two five-story apartment buildings in East Harlem to smoldering rubble. The disaster was believed to have been caused by a gas leak. [Daily News]………………………………………………………………………………

5. Overseas troubles drag down U.S. stocksThe Dow Jones industrial average dropped by 200 points, or 1.4 percent, on Thursday, as investors got spooked by tensions in Ukraine and an economic slowdown in China. It was the Dow's fourth straight day of losses. The stock index's troubles came despite encouraging economic data, including strong retail sales and a sharper than expected drop in new claims for unemployment benefits. [USA Today]………………………………………………………………………………

6. Amazon raises its Prime service fee by 25 percentAmazon is hiking the price of Amazon Prime from $79 to $99 a year, the first increase since it introduced the unlimited shipping and streaming video service nine years ago. In the fourth quarter of 2013, the online retailer's net shipping expenses reached $1.21 billion. The company stands to increase its revenues by $460 million if all of its 23 million U.S. Prime members stick around and pay the extra $20. [Bloomberg Businessweek]………………………………………………………………………………

7. Border agent suspected of rape is found deadA U.S. Border Patrol agent was found dead at his South Texas home on Thursday. Federal agents found the body when they went to investigate allegations that he had kidnapped and raped three female immigrants who crossed the border illegally Wednesday from Mexico. Two of the three escaped and told authorities. The third was found, injured, in the house. Local officials believe the agent shot himself. [Reuters]………………………………………………………………………………

8. Analysis finds hundreds died in GM cars with faulty airbagsA safety watchdog reported Thursday that 303 people died after air bags failed to deploy in two vehicle models General Motors recalled last month. The analysis adds to mounting pressure on GM and regulators for their failure to fix defective ignition switches despite a decade of warning signs. GM said it would be "pure speculation" to draw conclusions from the "raw data" in the report. [The New York Times, Reuters]………………………………………………………………………………

9. Plane removed from Philadelphia runway after aborted takeoffCrews at Philadelphia International Airport have removed a crippled U.S. Airways jet from a runway after an aborted takeoff. The Airbus A320, with 149 passengers on board, was leaving for Fort Lauderdale Thursday night when a tire in its front landing gear blew out. None of the passengers were hurt. One created an internet stir by tweeting a selfie she snapped with the wreckage in the background. [The Associated Press, New York Daily News]………………………………………………………………………………

10. Pygmy cousin of T-rex found in AlaskaPaleontologists have discovered a new pygmy tyrannosaur in northern Alaska. At 20 feet in length, the Nanuqsaurus hoglundi is about half the size of its relative, Tyrannosaurus rex. Scientists found the first trace of the late-Cretaceous period beast — unusual bones that appeared to be skull fragments — in the 70-million-year-old Prince Creek formation in 2006 while searching for fossils of a horned dinosaur. [National Geographic]

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