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New Ukraine Protests, Mickey Rooney Dies, History's Largest Election

India holds largest democratic election ever
India holds largest democratic election ever

Pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings last night in the East Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk, following rallies to demand independence referendums there, Reuters reports.

  • Regional authorities in Donetsk proclaimed the Dombass region’s independence and announced the “Donetsk People’s Republic” would hold a referendum on whether to join Russia on May 11, a move reminiscent of the events last month in Crimea, Itar-Tass reports. The legislators also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to send a “temporary peacekeeping contingent.”

  • Ukraine’s Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk accused Moscow of being behind the building seizures, describing it as a first step towards invasion, adding that Russian troops were stationed within 30 kilometers of the border. “The plan is for foreign troops to cross the border and seize the country's territory,” AP reports him as saying.

  • Ukraine officials also announced that a Russian soldier had killed an “unarmed” Navy officer in Crimea over the weekend, while Russian news agencies say the shooting came after an argument between drunk Ukrainian soldiers and Russian troops, The Independent explains.

  • Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said this morning that the buildings in Kharkiv had been “completely freed of separatists.” Meanwhile, RT reports that about 100 members of ultranationalist group Right Sector are surrounding Kiev’s Supreme Court in an attempt to storm the building.


Rwanda is launching commemorations today in Kigali to mark the 20th anniversary of genocide there, which lasted 100 days and claimed at least 800,000 lives. This afternoon’s ceremony will be overshadowed by a dispute between Rwanda President Paul Kagamé and the French government, after the former accused France of an active role in the 1994 mass killings.

- “Twenty years later, the only fault France will admit is not having done enough to save lives during the genocide. It’s a fact, but it obscures what is most important: the direct role Belgium and France played in the political preparation of the genocide and the involvement of the latter in its actual execution,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame said in an interview with the French weeklyJeune Afrique Sunday.

- France announced after the allegation was published that it would not attend the ceremony, and Al Jazeera reports that Rwandan officials barred France representatives from the ceremonies in any case. Meanwhile, Alain Juppé, who was France’s foreign minister at the time of the massacres, dismissed the accusation as a “falsification of history,” Le Figaro reports.

At least 79 people were killed in an attack by Fulani herdsmen on a village in northern Nigeria, local newspaperPM News quotes a government official as saying. Earlier reports said 30 people had died in the gunfire, but villagers told AFP that as many as 120 people might have been killed. A government spokesman said this was “the worst attack we have seen so far” in the decades-long conflict between Fulani herdsmen and local farmers.

Die Welt’s Konstantin Richter has followed the musical pursuits of violinist Ashot Tigranyan, an Armenian-born American who travels the world and pays to play to anemic audiences at some of the most stories concert halls. Of this rich character who is slightly out of touch with reality, Richter writes, “Tigranyan is not world-renowned — as a matter of fact, nobody in the music world has ever heard of him. Nor is he a great violinist. In Four Seasons, he plays a brief trio with his two female concert masters, and it’s clear that Tigranyan’s level is well below that of his musicians. True, his instrument — “a 1731 Guarneri,” he says — has a rich, warm sound to it. But Tigranyan doesn’t play cleanly, and in fast passages can’t keep up and has to be rescued by the orchestra.” Read the full article, Can A Delusional Millionaire Buy His Way To Maestro Status?

Hungarian voters handed their populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban an overwhelming majority in yesterday’s parliamentary election, with his center-right party Fidesz expected to win 135 of 199 seats, according to the BBC. The ballot also confirmed the rise of the far-right party Jobbik, accused by some of anti-Semitism, which is thought to have secured 23 seats in the country’s Parliament.

An Australian vessel searching for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the South Indian Ocean has detected signals that are consistent with those emitted by black boxes, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is leading the search, said this was “a most promising lead” and described the signals as the best information we have had in the search so far.” But he warned that “it could take some days” to confirm the signals are indeed from the missing aircraft.

The World Bank announced this morning it was revising down the growth outlook for East Asian countries, following what it sees as a “a bumpy start to 2014, notably in China and the United States.” According to its predictions, the Chinese economy will expand by 7.6%, down from 7.7%, while the outlook for Thailand, engulfed in a grave political crisis, was cut from 4.5% to 3%. Read more from Bloomberg.


The largest democratic election in history begins today, as more than 814 million Indian voters are expected to cast ballots in the country’s general elections over the next five weeks.

Mickey Rooney, whose acting career began when he was just a toddler and endured on and off into old age with recent work on Night at the Museum 3, has died in Los Angeles at age 93.

Game of Thrones returned to screens yesterday with the first episode of the show’s fourth season. And the latest in the series’ long list of victims was none other than HBO GO, as the streaming platform crashed during the broadcast.

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A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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