KIEV LAUNCHES NEW ASSAULT IN EASTERN UKRAINE
The Ukrainian military launched an offensive against pro-Russian militants just outside the eastern city of Sloviansk, sending armored vehicles and a helicopter, according to RTÉ, with Ukraine’s Interior Ministry reporting at least five dead on the pro-Russian side. According to AFP, civilians in the town hall have been evacuated as Ukrainian troops took up positions at the town’s entry. Citing local sources, RT says that all shops and schools have been closed and reports the presence of three snipers from the Ukrainian army.
- Further south, in the coastal town of Mariupol, Ukrainian forces and “civic activists” described by some as members of Right Sector, have “liberated” the city hall, the BBC reports. Read more about the overnight assault from The Kyiv Post.
- On its Twitter feed, AFP reports Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that Kiev’s decision to use force in Eastern Ukraine was a “serious crime against its own people” and added that the move “will have consequences.” This comes after Moscow and Washington traded more blame overnight for the current situation. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the U.S. and the EU of having orchestrated “another color revolution” in Kiev, adding that Ukraine was a “pawn in a geopolitical game” against Russia. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called the claims absurd. Speaking from Tokyo, President Barack Obama explained that Moscow was not abiding “by the spirit or the letter of the agreement in Geneva.”
- Meanwhile in Germany, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the government has blocked the export of military equipment to Russia, a move with an estimated price tag of over 5 million euros.
THREE AMERICANS KILLED IN KABUL HOSPITAL
Three Americans were shot dead and another was left injured at a hospital in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul after a police officer opened fire on a group of foreigners entering the hospital before turning the gun on himself, the BBC reports. It is still unclear whether the policeman has died, with reports suggesting he was instead taken into custody.
OBAMA’S BALANCING ACT
President Barack Obama reiterated his previous statements that Japan’s claim over the disputed Senkaku-Diaoyu islands with China was covered by a security treaty between Washington and Tokyo,USA Today reports. The president was, however, cautious not to antagonize China. According to The New York Times, Obama said, “We don’t take a position on final sovereignty. But historically, they have been administered by Japan, and we do not believe they should be subject to change unilaterally.” Beijing replied to the statement by saying that it “resolutely” opposes applying the disputed islands to the security treaty, which China Foreign Ministry’s spokesman argued “is a bilateral arrangement made during the Cold War period, and it should not be used to damage China's sovereignty and legitimate interest,” the South China Morning Post quoted him as saying.
For more on the disputed islands, we offer this Le Monde/Worldcrunch piece: Tiny Islands, Big Worries: What's Really Driving The China-Japan Showdown.
A strong sandstorm hits northwestern China. Read more about it here.
U.S. TO REASSESS AID TO PALESTINIANS
U.S. officials have admitted Washington would have to reconsider its assistance to the Palestinians if Fatah and Hamas were to form a unity government after their official reconciliation yesterday, Reuters reports. “Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of his security cabinet, which according to The Times of Israel is expected to announce “fresh retaliatory measures.” Yesterday, the U.S. State Department said the reconciliation deal between the two Palestinian factions was “disappointing.”
As Caixin’s Betty Ng reports, admission to prestigious American universities continues to grow more competition, especially for Asian students. “Ethnic minorities in America, including Asians, are all part of the U.S. university selection mechanisms,” the journalist writes. “However, it's disturbing that evidence shows that in relation to other ethnic groups such as African Americans or Latinos, Asian students are often treated unfairly in the admission processes of prestigious schools.”
Read the full article, University Admissions, Now Twice As Hard For Asian Americans.
131 STILL MISSING IN SOUTH KOREA
Search operations continued today for those killed on a sunken South Korean ferry, with the confirmed death toll now standing at 171 while 131 people are still unaccounted for, Yonhap news agency reports. Newspaper The Chosun Ilbo, meanwhile, published a scathing report based on revelations from the investigation, showing that “endemic disregard for safety regulations, bad judgment and botched rescue efforts” were responsible for the tragic accident.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a surprise statement ahead of the 99th anniversary of Armenian genocide. “The incidents of World War I are our shared pain,” he said. “To evaluate this painful period of history through a perspective of just memory is a humane and scholarly responsibility.”
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
If you're here searching for the secret to eternal life, forget it. We're not there yet. But in the meantime, here are some supercentenarians from around the world with their own secrets to a long life. Some might surprise you!