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Malaysia: Plane's disappearance a 'deliberate action'

The mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 deepened even further Saturday as authorities said someone on board the vanished jet made a series of highly technical actions to deliberately hide the plane from modern detection systems. Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said that communications on the flight missing since last Saturday were disabled due to "deliberate action by someone on the plane" and that the last known signal from the airliner came more than seven hours after takeoff. The revelation came amid an intensifying search involving dozens of planes and ships in an ever-widening area where the plane may have gone down. Military and government experts on Saturday pored over satellite and radar data that may shed light on the fate of the plane but so far there is no trace of debris.

U.S. leaders urge sanctions on Russia following referendum

The White House and leaders in Congress vowed Sunday to impose tough economic sanctions on Russia in hopes of stopping further aggression into Ukraine, following what they decried as a bogus referendum in Crimea. "We reject the 'referendum' that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "This referendum is contrary to Ukraine's constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation." With 50 percent of the ballots counted, Mikhail Malishev, head of the referendum committee, said more than 95% of voters had backed a union between the largely ethnic-Russian peninsula and the huge neighboring country.

Sexual-assault charges dropped against general

Prosecutors have agreed to drop sexual-assault charges against one of the highest-ranking military officers ever to face such allegations in an agreement under which the defendant will plead guilty to lesser offenses, according to defense attorneys. After a judge last week ruled that a prosecution decision to seek trial against Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, 51, was tainted by political considerations, the proceedings were suspended and a new round of plea negotiation commenced. Maj. Gen. Clarence Chinn, a commanding officer stationed at the Fort Bragg Army post in North Carolina, agreed Saturday to accept Sinclair's guilty plea to lesser charges.

Phil Jackson will lead New York Knicks' front office

The man who had reserve role in the New York Knicks 1973 NBA championship team is now in charge of running the storied but recently beleaguered franchise. Phil Jackson will join the Knicks as the leader of their front office, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because the agreement has not been made official, but the Knicks have scheduled a news conference Tuesday for a major announcement. Jackson, one of the NBA's most successful coaches, has no front-office experience, but wanted back in the league in some capacity and ruled out a return to the bench because of health issues.

Comedian David Brenner dies at 78

Veteran comedian David Brenner died in his New York City home Saturday at age 78 after battling cancer. He was one of the most frequent visitors to The Tonight Show couch to banter with Johnny Carson. Brenner moved with the times, trading routines about the humor of everyday life for jokes about social and political issues, and appearing on MSNBC and Fox News Channel cable programs. Although his career faltered, he worked steadily through 2013 doing standup. A four-day gig last December included a New Year's Eve show at a Pennsylvania casino-resort in which he showcased young comedians.

Authorities: Chris Brown arrested on warrant

Chris Brown was arrested Friday and will be held without bail on a warrant issued by probation officials in the latest legal entanglement for the R&B singer who has struggled to put his 2009 attack on Rihanna behind him. The warrant was issued by the judge overseeing Brown's case after he was informed Friday morning that the singer had been discharged from rehab "for failure to comply with rules and regulations of the program." No further details were released, but more information will be presented to Superior Court Judge James R. Brandlin when Brown appears in his courtroom on Monday afternoon.

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