IMF AGREES ON LOAN TO UKRAINE
The International Monetary Fund announced this morning that it will loan between $14 billion and $18 billion to Ukraine over the next two years. With loans from other partners, the program is expected to free up a total $27 billion for the embattled country. This comes after yesterday’s announcement that the Ukrainian government would increase the price of gas by more than 50% for domestic consumers and that it plans more hikes until 2018 in an effort to secure the IMF deal.
Speaking to the Parliament in Kiev, Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk announced a series of economic measures that include freezing minimum and living wages and a cut of 24,000 government employees, representing a 10% workforce reduction. He said that the country faced bankruptcy if the Parliament didn’t adopt the proposed measures, Interfax reports.
Acting President Turchynov stated that the goal of Ukraine’s new government was membership to the European Union, Itar-Tass reports. “For Ukraine, the signing of an association agreement with the European Union is not the ultimate aim. It is the beginning of a new cooperation. We set ourselves the aim of full membership in the EU,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating reached an historic high at 82.3%. At the same time, The Washington Post reports, President Obama’s popularity is falling, with a recent poll showing a 59% disapproval rating. According to the poll, only 40% agree with his handling of the Ukrainian crisis.
OBAMA IN ROME, MEETS POPE
U.S. President Barack Obama is in Rome today where he met for the first time this morning with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Later, he will meet with his Italian counterpart Giorgio Napolitano and the newly appointed Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, ANSA news agency reports. Yesterday, American Cardinal Raymond Burke harshly criticized Obama’s visit, describing the president as “a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.”
90 STILL MISSING IN WASHINGTON MUDSLIDE
The number of people reported missing after Saturday’s mudslide in Washington state has fallen from 176 to 90, while a 25th body has been found, The Daily Herald reports.
MH370: NEW OBJECTS SPOTTED
Images from a Thai satellite and published in the country’s The Nation newspaper show 300 objects floating in the South Indian Ocean, about 200 kilometers away from the current search area for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. Aircraft and ships are still searching for the plane and its passengers, though the search operation is hampered by bad weather. Read more from Reuters.
RISE IN EXECUTIONS GLOBALLY
The number of global executions in 2013 rose to 778 from 682 in 2012, Amnesty International reports. The hike is mostly due to more executions in Iran and Iraq, which respectively rank second and third among the 22 countries that put people to death last year. But the Amnesty figure doesn’t include North Korea or China, where the official statistic is kept secret. The organization says China executes thousands of people every year. Meanwhile, Japan released a prisoner that has been on death row for 45 years, the AP reports.
MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
THE PROBLEM WITH GOOGLE GLASS