UKRAINE’S ULTIMATUM TO PRO-RUSSIAN PROTESTERS
Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said that the situation in Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are still occupying state buildings, will be “resolved in 48 hours,” threatening “the minority who want conflict” with a “forceful answer”, the BBC reports. "There are two options — political and negotiations, and force," Avakov told journalists. Meanwhile in other related developments:
Protesters who had taken some 60 people hostage in a state security building in the city of Luhansk are believed to have let go 56 people after negotiations, although it’s unclear how many of those are hostages and how many are protesters.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech to the country’s Parliament that Russia was not doing enough to appease tensions in Ukraine. "Unfortunately, in many areas it is not clear that Russia is contributing to a de-escalation of the situation," Reuters reports her as saying. Yesterday, John Kerry accused Moscow’s “special forces and agents” of fueling the conflictin Eastern Ukraine, and suggested that sanctions against Russia should be extended to its energy, banking and mining sectors.
The U.S., the EU and Ukraine have agreed to meet with Russian officials next week. If it takes place, this will be the first meeting between the four parties since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis.
NETANYAHU ORDERS END OF COOPERATION WITH PALESTINIANS
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his cabinet to cease all cooperation with the Palestinian authorities in response to what Tel Aviv sees as "Palestinian violations," The Jerusalem Post reports. The decision however does not apply to Israel’s Defense Minister or to its Justice Minister, as they continue to meet with Palestinian negotiators to try to salvage the U.S.-backed peace talks. Netanyahu’s move was denounced by opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who said the Israeli prime minister was "giving fuel and matches to those who hate Israel.”
This comes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that both sides had made “unhelpful” decisions, but ultimately blamed Israel’s settlement plans in occupied territories in Jerusalem for undermining the recent attempts at peace.
DEADLY BLAST HITS PAKISTANI CAPITAL
At least 23 people were killed in a massive explosion at a vegetable market on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, Al Jazeera reports. This comes after an explosion aboard a train killed 14 people yesterday in the southwestern province of Balochistan. The Taliban, who are currently holding peace talks with the government, denounced the two attacks.
ITALY RESCUES 4,000 MIGRANTS IN 48 HOURS
Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the country’s navy and coast guards had rescued some 4,000 migrants trying to reach Europe on overcrowded boats over the last 48 hours, ANSA news agency reports. At least one would-be immigrant was found dead on one of the boats.
Beijing’s Caixin newspaper offers a fascinating picture of what’s known in China as guanxi, an unwritten system of social hierarchy that’s as noxious to real democracy as any Communist Party diktat. Leung Man Tao writes: “A public institution that exists in the name of the people and the nation shouldn’t vary its policies from person to person. Everyone is equal before the law, and a bus cannot stop you getting on because you are not the driver’s father. Under this modern Western concept, relationship should not be important. Or at least the relationship should not be a central part of the system.”
Read the full article: Guanxi, Evils Of China's Traditional *Social Networks*
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, announced it would recall a whopping 6.76 million vehicles, citing a variety of defects in several models. This comes after the Japanese automaker was criticized for reacting slowly to earlier defects in its cars and trucks. Read more from Bloomberg.
SEARCH OPERATION CLOSING IN ON MH370
The search area in the South Indian Ocean for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 has been drastically reduced after Australia’s Ocean Shield vessel picked up two more signals believed to come from the missing aircraft’s black box, ABC reports. Angus Houston, head of the search operation, said he was optimistic they would find something "in a matter of days".
“HEARTBLEED” BUG PUTS INTERNET SECURITY AT RISK
An encryption security bug that went undetected for the past two years sent the web on alert after experts found that tens of thousands of servers around the world were affected, The Washington Post reports. The bug, nicknamed “Heartbleed,” is in fact a flaw in the OpenSSL encryption system, used on many websites including Google, Facebook and Yahoo, and recognized by most users as the green padlock in the browser’s address bar. According to The Guardian, until the problem is fixed, “the simplest thing to do may be to refrain from engaging in sensitive activities on the Internet.”
Hong Kong police have been searching a landfill today for a mistakenly dumped painting that had just been sold $3.7 million at an auction.
Check out this great shot of Chelsea's Demba Ba scoring the winning goal in the 87th minute of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Paris Saint-Germain.
DID YOU KNOW?
As surprising as it may seem, Russell Crowe used to be a singer in a garage rock band called Roman Antix, in New Zealand, back in the 1980s. But the best part is perhaps his stage name: Russ Le Roq. Check out his single “What’s expand=1] the Difference?”