Russia’s president lashed out today at what he described as a Ukrainian “coup,” referring to those who toppled President Viktor Yanukovych, but Putin says he saw no need yet to send Russian troops into Ukraine. Russia said it recalled troops from near the border, but Ukrainian officials dispute the claim. Secretary of State John Kerry offered $1 billion in loan guarantees to the troubled Ukrainians. Meanwhile, at least one report accuses Russia of sending ringers to the Ukraine to boost the “demand” for Russian intervention, and Russia has refused an invitation to talk.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Expanded credits for the poor, job-training programs and a government-backed retirement fund are on the president’s list for the 2015 federal budget, as well as expanded preschool programs. Obama plans to pay for the estimated $60 billion tax credit cost by closing a loophole for wealthy investors. Obama may not have much hope of his plans passing through Congress unscathed, as it grows the government instead of shrinks programs, as Republicans have long sought. But the investor loophole is one also sought by the GOP, so maybe all hope isn’t lost.
Bill Gates may have reclaimed the world’s richest man title, but the rise of female billionaires is the most dramatic shift in the annual Forbes billionaires list, released yesterday. With Nigeria greeting its first female billionaire and tech giants like Sheryl Sandberg joining the club, the share of female billionaires increased by 25 percent in 2014 to 172. A significant gender gap still remains, with only 32 of the women having built their own fortune rather than having inherited it, and men still compose 90 percent of the list. But if the growth continues, it could give gender parity a run for its money.
The president and his Israeli counterpart met in Washington yesterday to discuss Middle East peace negotiations aimed at penning a preliminary deal by April. Obama believes it is possible to have two states, an Israeli one and Palestinian one, living peacefully side by side, and he urged both sides to compromise. But Benjamin Netanyahu disagrees, saying Israel has done enough and that the Palestinians need to bring more to the table. The main sticking point is Israeli settlements. Obama warned that if the peace efforts fail he may not be able to protect Israel from “international fallout” over the issue.
Chinese authorities have blamed Uighur separatists for the weekend’s mass killing in Kunming railway station. They announced on Monday that arrests have been made following the attack, which claimed 33 lives and left scores injured. Relations between the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighur population in the Xinjiang region and the Han majority have long been troubled. Uighurs claim widespread discrimination and oppression, but this attack has brought the tensions to a peak. The country’s security chief has vowed to “severely punish” the terrorists.
Study: Most military suicidal tendencies existed before deployment. (NYT).
Pistorius defense team quizzes neighbor on screams. (BBC).
Paul Ryan takes swing at anti-poverty programs. (LA Times).
UN chief seeks 12,000 peacekeepers for CAR. (DW).
Bin Laden’s son-in-law goes on trial in NYC. (USA Today).
Those summiting Mount Everest face a new challenge, in addition to reaching the top and surviving: Now they must help the environment too. Authorities said on Monday that climbers must now descend with an extra 18 pounds of garbage — part of an effort to prevent the famed peak from becoming the world’s highest dump. An estimated 50 tons of trash sit atop Everest’s slopes. The waste includes empty oxygen bottles, torn tents and discarded food, but climbers may be more hesitant to retrieve the human waste and bodies that also litter the mountain.
Being hot-tempered could have deadly consequences. Harvard researchers have found that rage often precedes attacks and may be the trigger, with the period of about two hours after the explosion being the most dangerous. And the effect is cumulative — so angrier people are at the greatest risk. More work is needed to understand the biological reasons for this, but with research showing that outbursts raise the risk of heart attacks nearly five-fold, we have just as many reasons to stay calm while they figure it out.
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, 16, aims to get wider reception for her efforts to educate women — literally. She and Vodafone have joined forces to provide women in developing countries with mobile phones in a bid to boost their access to information via texting and the Internet. It’s estimated that connecting women with mobile phones could help bring literacy to 5.3 million females by 2020, while also reducing domestic violence rates and increasing women’s chances of finding employment. Malala hopes her mobile project will ring positive changes to women worldwide.
Two architects want to use a defunct railway line circling Paris to create a mobile art market on a running train. The space, out of use since 1934 when it gave way to the city’s Metro system, has already been transformed into a park, but Amilcar Ferreira and Marcelo Fernandes now want to make use of the rails. Artists could display their work in repurposed cargo train wagons that move to different locations each day while freeing up urban space normally used for art fairs. The designers now hope a group focused on preserving the rail line will take their artistic plan for a ride.
It takes a lot to wow fans who have come to expect huge scores from “King James,” but they were awed last night when he broke his career-scoring record. Notching up 61 points in the Miami Heat’s 124-107 win over the Charlotte Bobcats, James scored 22 of his 33 shots, including 8 out of 10 from beyond the arc. The star’s previous career record dated from 2005, when he scored 56 for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Clearly this king, the NBA’s most valuable player, has no plans to relinquish his crown.