KERRY AND LAVROV EXCHANGE BLAME
In a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Moscow to "tone down escalatory rhetoric," criticizing Russia for failing “to de-escalate” the crisis, The Guardian reports. During the conversation, Lavrov replied that Ukrainian ultranationalists were responsible for the collapse of the deal reached in Geneva last week, after they killed pro-Russian protesters on Sunday in the eastern town of Sloviansk.
- The Russian Foreign Minister went further in an interview with RT, saying that in his view, “There is no reason not to believe that the Americans are running the show” in reference to Kiev’s decision to resume its “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was in the capital for a two-day visit. Lavrov also said that Russia would “respond in accordance with international law” if its “legitimate interests” were attacked.
- This comes as the military buildup in the region intensifies, with 10 vessels and 400 sailors from the Russian navy involved in military exercises in the Caspian sea. Meanwhile, Reutersreports that the United States is sending frigate USS Taylor in the Black Sea as well as 600 soldiers to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for drills, in a bid to “reassure NATO allies.”
- Pavel Durov, the founder of the Russian equivalent of Facebook, VKontakte, fled the country after he said he was forced out as the company’s CEO for refusing to share users’ personal data with Russian law enforcement agencies. Read more from The Moscow Times.
HAMAS AND FATAH TO FORM PALESTINIAN UNITY GOV’T
The two main Palestinian organizations, Fatah and Hamas, are on the verge of reaching what Israeli daily Haaretz describes as a “historic reconciliation deal,” seven years after the two factions split. According to reports from Israeli media, a unity government will be formed in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, a member of Fatah, needed to choose between making peace with Hamas or with Israel, with the negotiations to salvage the Palestine-Israel talks still stalled. Read more from The Jerusalem Post.
“ABOMINATION” IN SOUTH SUDAN
South Sudanese rebels have made important advances in oil-producing towns, leading to scores of civilian deaths, as fights with the army have intensified in the northeastern states of the country, according to theThe Wall Street Journal. Yesterday, the White House condemned the "abomination" described in a United Nations report, showing that rebel forces had killed some 200 people because of their ethnicity in the oil-rich town of Bentiu.
YELLOW BUTTERFLIES FOR GABO
Bogota bids “adios” to its greatest writer.
FERRY DEATH TOLL REACHES 152
Search teams have recovered dozens of bodies from the wreck of the South Korean ferry that sank last week, taking the death toll to 152 victims, while some 150 are still missing, Yonhap reports. Public outrage with the ferry’s crew is intensifying, with South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbonow reporting that pictures published by the Korea Coast Guard show that claims that “the ship had tilted too much to allow them to reach the cabins and manipulate the lifeboats have turned out to be completely false.”
BRAZILIAN LAWMAKERS PASS INTERNET BILL OF RIGHTS
The Brazilian Senate unanimously approved a “bill of rights” of the Internet aimed at securing civil rights for Internet users and pushed forward by President Dilma Rousseff after last years’ NSA revelations from Edward Snowden, Folha de São Paulo reports. The “Internet Constitution,” which according to Reuters “limits the gathering and use of metadata on Internet users in Brazil” will be presented today by Rousseff at the NetMundial conference in São Paulo.
Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza takes a look at the recent Geneva deal on Ukraine, and a potential unspoken license for Russia to continue to pursue control of the rest of the country: “Regarding Geneva, Russians do not feel bound to anything, because they have already achieved what they wanted most. Kiev's negotiators did not use the summit to claim Crimea back for Ukraine — at least not officially. Choosing silence, they have accepted the annexation of the peninsula in the hope of protecting eastern Ukraine. The spirit of the Munich Agreement, which untied Hitler’s hands, is clearly in the air.”
Read the full article here, translated by Worldcrunch: Why Geneva Deal On Ukraine Smells Like Munich 1938.
On International Mother Earth Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for tougher action to protect the planet from the impact of human activity.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
Beijing is struggling to find enough places in schools for its 10,000 "Olympic Babies" born in 2008, which was considered a lucky year in China.
TO CELEBRATE OR NOT TO CELEBRATE
Today marks the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. To remember the greatest English writer of all time, The Independent listed 50 everyday phrases coined by the Bard. For those looking for more original material, be sure to check out this online Shakespeare Insulter.