CRIMEA APPROVES DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
The Crimean Parliament overwhelmingly approved a declaration on independence, a technical step necessary to hold next Sunday’s referendum, Itar-Tass reports. According to the news agency, the document says that if Crimeans vote to integrate the Russian Federation, they will first become an independent Republic.
Meanwhile, Western leaders are gathering in London to discuss further sanctions on Russia if it doesn’t accept their proposals, The Guardian reports. AP, however, explains that Russia will propose its own measures to Washington, adding that John Kerry’s proposals were “not suitable.” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told radio station France Inter that the new sanctions could be implemented as early as this week. These are believed to include asset freezes and travel bans, though it’s not clear yet who would be targeted.
This comes amid reports that the British Defense Ministry will send a surveillance drone to Poland and Romania to monitor the situation at the Ukraine borders, following in the footsteps of the NATO’s reconnaissance flights in the region.
Speaking at a press conference in the Russian town of Rostov-on-Don, deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych vowed, “I will return to Kiev.” He accused the U.S. of financing “bandits” and asked if the West had forgotten what fascism is. Read more from Kyiv Post.
MALAYSIA DOWNPLAYS TERRORISM POSSIBILITY
The Malaysian police have identified one of the two passengers who boarded flight MH370 with a stolen passport. The man is believed to be a 19-year-old Iranian seeking to emigrate to Germany, leading the national police chief to dismiss possible terrorism, Channel News Asia reports. Interpol later confirmed this and revealed the second passenger was also Iranian, according to The Guardian. Meanwhile, the search for the missing aircraft continues, with officials believing the plane might have turned back towards a different airport.
The New Straits Times interviewed a businessman who claims he saw a bright white light descending towards the South China Sea in the early hours of Saturday.
British tabloid Daily Mirror reports that 19 families were still able to make calls to the cellphones of missing passengers, although they got no answer.
IRAN OFFICIAL WARNS ISRAEL
A senior general in Iran's Revolutionary Guards issued a blunt warning to Israel today, saying Iranian forces and weaponry "can destroy all points controlled by" Israel, with ”any volume of firepower.” Read more from Worldcrunch’s Iran Files.
GRIEVING MOTHER BLAMES ERDOGAN
Gülsüm Elvan, the mother of Turkish teenager Berkin Elvan who became a poster child for anti-government protesters, announced the death of her 15-year-old son today. He had been in a coma since being hit in the head by a gas canister on his way to buy bread amid a police crackdown on protesters at Istanbul’s Gezi Park in June. She blames the Turkish prime minister for his tragic death.
DEADLY MAOIST ATTACK IN INDIA
At least 20 police officers were killed in central Indian state of Chhattisgarh after an ambush by Maoist rebels, The Indian Express reports. This is the biggest Maoist attack in recent years and comes just one month before the country’s general election.
For more on the conflict, we offer this Le Temps/Worldcrunch piece: In The Indian Jungle, Fighting Maoist Rebels With Their Own Guerrilla Tactics.
THREE PALESTINIANS KILLED IN AIR RAID
Three Palestinian fighters with the Al-Quds Brigades were killed in an Israeli air raid on the southern Gaza Strip this morning after a mortar shell was fired at the Israeli army, Ma’an news agency reports. Earlier today, another Palestinian was killed in a car chase with Israeli police. This comes after two more killings yesterday, at the border with Jordan and near Ramallah.
HOW NORTH KOREA AVOIDS UN SANCTIONS
North Korea is using “sophisticated techniques” to avoid sanctions imposed by the United Nations, a new report from the organization shows. According to the study, Pyongyang has set up “complicated financial countermeasures” making it difficult to track the purchase of banned products, including weapons. Read more fromReuters.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
WORLDCRUNCH TO GO
A Kommersant/Worldcrunch piece makes the case for more autonomy in Russia’s far east of Siberia: “Just as it was 400 years ago, modern Russia is divided in two: On one side is Moscow and its surrounds, home of the globalized elite who feed like parasites on the nation’s riches. And on the other side is the rest of the country. It’s exactly the kind of situation that should mobilize regional Russian politicians, who understand better than anyone the imbalances in the country’s politics and economics.”
SWEDISH JOURNALIST KILLED IN KABUL
Nils Horner, a Swedish correspondent in the Afghan capital of Kabul, was killed this week near the restaurant where 21 people were killed by the Taliban in January, Swedish website The Local reports. According to AP, the Afghan police announced the arrest of two suspects.
COLORADO HIGH ON POT REVENUE
Colorado generated $2 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales during the first month it made non-medicinal use and sales of the drug legal, state officials said. Read more on CNNMoney.
21ST CENTURY SMUGGLING
Cocaine addicts in a Brazilian prison have taken smuggling to a new high by having it delivered via a small drone. Read more via The Huffington Post.