In the Know: March 14, 2014

“This is a crisis situation. It is a very complex operation, and it is not obviously easy. We are devoting all our energies to the task at hand.” – acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. After seven days, the plane’s disappearance remains unresolved.

Nation: Senate agrees to extend jobless aid.
The Senate agreed Thursday to a long-anticipated breakthrough on unemployment assistance. The program, which expired in December, has left millions of Americans out of work for a half-year or longer without support from the federal government. The deal, if it makes it through the House, would cover the two and a half months that have lapsed since the program expired, but getting the measure through the House may prove to be another major fight.

World: A whole lot is happening in Crimea.
After declaring itself independent from Ukraine, ’s parliament voted Tuesday to declare itself an independent state if its residents agree to split off from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum. With the referendum just days away on March 16, Russia turned up the heat on its recent military posturing, moving troops and armored vehicles to Ukraine’s eastern border. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany reacted especially strongly to the move, saying that if Russia continues on its current course, “We, also as neighbors of Russia, would not only see it as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia. No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.” Merkel’s words shed light on nature of the conflict, which has quickly come to represent a growing divide between Russia, and allies the European Union and United States.

Politics: Another spying scandal.
In a scathing speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has accused the CIA of removing classified documents from her staff’s computers during a previous oversight investigation, saying she had “grave concerns” the search may have violated federal law. “I have asked for an apology and a recognition that this CIA search of computers used by its oversight committee was inappropriate. I have received neither,” said Feinstein. Following on the accusations, the Senate cleared the way for the nomination of Caroline Krass to serve as the CIA’s top lawyer. Sen. Mark Udall, who dropped his procedural hold on the nomination, said he hoped Krass might help “change the direction of the agency.”

Business: BP back in the Gulf.
Four years after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion, the U.S. has agreed to allow BP to seek new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The agreement will mean millions of dollars of new business for the company. “After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” said chairman and president of BP America John Mingé. “Today’s agreement will allow America’s largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases.”

Science: Earthquakes may be linked to fracking in Ohio.
The State Department of Natural Resources in Ohio ordered work halted at an oil and gas well near the site of two small earthquakes on Monday that was undergoing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, when they occurred. The department said it acted “out of an abundance of caution,” but that it was too early to tell what role drilling operations played in the disturbance.

Women: New Chief Diversity Officer to focus on businesses in NYC.
The New York City comptroller’s office announced this week that it has named a new official with the goal of increasing the number of contracts and subcontracts awarded to businesses owned by female and minority contractors. The office will also begin to grade city agencies on how much they spend with these certified businesses in an effort to address a recent decline. Carra Wallace, the new chief diversity officer, will start on Monday.

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