LAVROV HITS BACK AT UKRAINE ACCUSATIONS
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized the fact that Ukraine ignored “independent ” expert assessments in its investigation of the deaths of more than 100 protesters and police officers in the last days of Kiev’s Maidan standoff Voice of Russia reports. Lavrov also said that a leaked conversation between EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, in which the two were discussing the possibility that snipers could have been provocateurs among the protesters, had fallen “on deaf ears.” This comes after Ukrainian authorities yesterday blamed Russian security agents and former President Viktor Yanukovych for the February deaths.
McDonald’s Ukraine announced yesterday that it would “temporarily” close its three restaurants in Crimea, citing “manufacturing reasons not dependent on McDonald's,” Ria Novosti reports. In Moscow, the leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party Vladimir Zhirinovsky, commented, “We will close them all over the country, and then we’ll deal with Pepsi.”
TWO JOURNALISTS SHOT IN AFGHANISTAN
A gunman dressed as an Afghan police officer shot two Western journalists, both women, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition on the eve of the country’s presidential election, AFP reports. The gunman entered the police station in the small town of Khost, near the border with Pakistan, and shot the two women. Last month, a Swedish journalist was shot dead in the capital of Kabul, where an Afghan reporter for AFP was also killed with his family in the attack of a luxury hotel.
TWO INJURED AFTER ISRAELI AIR RAID ON GAZA
Israel launched a series of 15 overnight air raids on the Gaza strip, targeting 10 sites after the Israeli military said four rockets had been fired towards the south of the country, Haaretz reports. According to Ma’an news agency, two Palestinians, including a 1-year-old baby, were injured during the airstrikes. This comes amid increasing tensions between Israel and the Palestinian authorities, after Tel Aviv refused to release the last batch of prisoners it had agreed to free as part of U.S.-backed peace talks. The Palestinians replied by threatening to push for membership on the International Criminal Court and other international bodies, a move Israel strongly opposes. According to The Guardian, Israel yesterday “scrapped” release of the prisoners and called for the negotiations to be “reviewed.”
DEADLY FLOODS IN SOLOMON ISLANDS
At least 16 people have died and more are feared missing after devastating flash floods in the Solomon Islands, an archipelago located northeast of Australia, news agency Fairfax reports. Local newspaper The Solomon Star described the floods as “the worst disaster the nation has seen,” with thousands of homes destroyed, as well as bridges and power lines. The governments of New Zealand and Australia have already pledged aid.
SOUTH KOREA/JAPAN DISPUTE
South Korea has summoned the Japanese ambassador after issuing scathing criticism over Tokyo’s approval of revised school textbooks that describe disputed islets as “illegally occupied by South Korea,” Xinhua reports. In a statement, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry denounced the decision as a “provocation” and said it “strongly censures the Japanese government.” Meanwhile, Daniel Russel, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia, warned China not to “contemplate the Crimea annexation as a model” to pursue its claims in the East China Sea, and said Washington would not hesitate to defend its Asian allies if necessary. Read more from Reuters.
Reporting on the Egyptian military’s recently announced Complete Cure device, Madr Masr’s Mostafa Hussein notes that the country is hardly the first to claim unproven cures for AIDS and other diseases that have ravaged millions of lives. “In 2000, the Nigerian army’s chief of staff and the army’s chief medical officer announced that 30 soldiers returning from Liberia were cured of HIV by a vaccine developed by a doctor named Jeremiah Abalaka. The military then ordered a large supply,” the journalist writes. “Several months later, the Nigerian presidency banned the drug after medical professionals raised concerns about the methods Abalaka used. It was already too late. Hundreds had paid their hard-earned money for the $1,000 cure, and Abalaka made a fortune.” Read the full article: Africa's Bad Habit Of Claiming False Cures For AIDS.
“I believe the government knows more than us,” Malaysia’s chief opposition leader said, accusing the government of concealing information about missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.
UNDERGROUND OCEAN FOUND ON SATURN MOON
Scientists have found evidence of what could be an ocean beneath the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, raising the possibility that primitive forms of life can be found there.
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