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PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - March 7

March 7 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories in the Wall Street Journal. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Crimea's Moscow-backed government voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia and accelerated a snap referendum to ratify the move, a dramatic escalation of tension that pushed the West closer to imposing sanctions if Russian troops don't withdraw. ()

* As Crimea's legislators voted for secession on Thursday, residents expressed a mixture of shock and satisfaction about the prospect of splitting from Ukraine and joining Russia. ()

* With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to rule on race-conscious college-admissions policies, University of California officials say they still struggle to meet diversity goals for their university system 18 years after state voters banned affirmative action ()

* The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority "routinely" strips out some possible red flags on brokers from its database in the information it makes available to investors, according to a study released Thursday by an organization of lawyers who represent investors in claims against brokers. ()

* When the leaders running law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP realized in the depths of the financial crisis that they were about to violate the terms of their bank loan, prosecutors allege they took the easy way out and cooked the books. ()

* Canadian regulators on Thursday approved a plan by Enbridge Inc to reverse the flow of a major pipeline and ship more oil to refineries in the East, a move designed to ease bottlenecks that have depressed prices of crude from Western Canada. ()

* Abercrombie & Fitch Co is preparing to reposition its surfer-themed Hollister chain as a fast-fashion brand, hoping to better compete with rivals such as H&M and Forever 21 Inc. that have eaten into sales to teens. ()

* Hundreds of workers at an International Business Machines Corp plant struck for a fourth day as the company prepares to transfer the computer-server factory to Lenovo Group Ltd. ()

* One of the country's biggest retailers sounded a worrying call for the future of brick and mortar: Staples Inc is not only closing a big swath of its North American stores, but it also wants those that remain to be half the size. ()

* General Electric Co raised $3 billion in a sale of new debt Thursday, stocking its coffers while rates are low. ()

* Cerberus Capital Management LP agreed to buy Safeway Inc in a deal the companies valued at more than $9 billion that would be the private-equity firm's latest acquisition of a big U.S. grocery chain. ()

* A top Food and Drug Administration official on Thursday rejected the cosmetic industry's latest proposal for a regulatory overhaul aimed at improving the safety of beauty and personal-care products. ()