North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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March 17, 2014

NJN/am for Monday, March 17

It's Monday, it's St. Patrick's Day and – hey, the beer is green! (And I don't even drink)...

Weather: At least the rain isn't green. But it is wet and chilly, with a 70 percent chance of rain this morning with highs in the lower 50s. Rain ends this afternoon, with tonight's lows falling to the upper 30s. Skies will clear and we will warm up nicely through the week, with Tuesday's high in the middle 60s.

Crimea votes for Russian annexation. In an election that's been roundly criticized by U.S. and European Union officials, voters in the Crimean region of the Ukraine voted over the weekend to become a part of Russia. The region is home to many ethnic Russians, but the vote came as thousands of Russian troops were massed along the Ukrainian border. The election results are not being recognized by the Obama administration or the EU, and sanctions against Russia are planned.

Malaysian government: Plane's disappearance was deliberate. The Malaysian government said Saturday that the missing Boeing 777 jet did not fall out of the sky by accident, and that its pilots may have been involved in the plane's disappearance. The Associated Press reports that investigators now say that a system that sends info about the aircraft's engines and performance was turned off about 40 minutes after takeoff, with the transponder turned off about 14 minutes later. The search for the missing plane now covers an area six times the size of the U.S. mainland.

Sports: No March Madness here. For what is believed to be the first time since the event went to 64 or more teams, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament does not include any teams from the state of Alabama. The omission of Auburn and Alabama was expected, but none of the other Division I teams – UAB, South Alabama, Troy and Jacksonville State – made the field, either. If it makes you feel any better, the Hoosier State suffered the same fate this year, the first time ever in the 48- or 64-team era... Softball: Ninth-ranked (5A) Mortimer Jordan staged comeback wins over both Mountain Brook and over Pisgah, the top-ranked team in Class 3A, in a tri-series on Friday. Elsewhere, Pinson Valley was thumped in both ends of their tri-series with Mountain Brook and Oak Mountain on Saturday.

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