The nation marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic bombing last week with sorrow, but Americans were given a reason to cheer at the finish line today with the poignant win of Meb Keflezighi, the first U.S. man to claim victory in more than 20 years. Keflezighi, who ran with the names of last year’s bombing victims written on his race bib, crossed the finish in just over two hours. Kenyan Rita Jeptoo was the women’s victor. The bombings claimed the lives of three people and injured 260 others. This year, an announcer urged the runners to “take back that finish line.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
As many as five people were reportedly killed in the separatist town of Sloviansk in a shootout at a checkpoint, which may disrupt Ukraine’s fragile peace. Moscow is blaming ultra-right Ukrainian nationalists, while Kiev calls the violence a “crude provocation” by Russian-backed gunmen. The self-proclaimed town mayor is calling on Russian troops for protection and has threatened to “personally shoot” Ukraine’s interior minister. Ukrainians and western officials fear that the incident could be used as justification for a Crimea-style Russian takeover of the region.
President Park Geun-hye has lashed out at crew members of the Korean ferry that capsized last week, describing their actions as ”akin to murder.” A newly released emergency call transcript reveals that crew members responded to the deadly accident with panic and confusion. The captain, who is facing official charges of negligence, admits he delayed evacuation because he thought it could expose passengers to additional danger. Investigators believe that a sharp turn could have caused the tragedy and are questioning whether an earlier evacuation could have saved lives. The death toll is now officially 64, but 238 remain missing.
Local leaders report that about 40 suspected al-Qaeda members have been killed by U.S. drones in Yemen over the past two days. The Yemeni defense ministry explained that the unusual surge of strikes was a response to the fact that “terrorist elements were planning to target vital civilian and military installations.” Saturday’s strike killed three civilians, feeding controversy over the drone program. The U.S. is committed to maintaining stability in Yemen, home to one of al-Qaeda’s most lethal branches, because it borders Saudi Arabia, a leading global oil exporter.
The food conglomerate is back-pedaling after a storm of criticism over an apparent removal of customers’ ability to sue the company. A change to the group’s legal terms said that customers who downloaded coupons or joined its “online communities” would need to resolve disputes through arbitration rather than in court. General Mills — which owns well-known brands like Cheerios and Yoplait — claims the changes were mischaracterized but that it would still bow to customer pressure and revert to the original rules.
Barrel bombing kills dozens in Aleppo. (Al Jazeera).
Iran’s President Rouhani advocates increased gender equality. (BBC).
Robot covers two-thirds of targeted MH370 search area, comes up empty. (CNN).
British PM criticized for claiming that the UK remains a “Christian country.” (The Telegraph).
Decreasing crime in Western nations could be linked to the removal of toxic lead from gasoline. Lead is a potent neurotoxin that has been shown in studies to alter the brain, compromising functions like impulse control and planning. One American researcher discovered that crime increased 20 years after lead levels spiked (the time required for the toxin to have a full impact on the brain). It follows that in the 1990s, 20 years after leaded petrol fell out of favor in the U.S., the nation’s criminals seemed to start running out of gas.
Nepal’s ethnic Sherpa community relies heavily on income earned by guiding foreigners up the world’s highest mountain. But following the deaths of 13 Sherpas in an avalanche on Friday, the community is considering a strike. Reports indicate that the families of the dead were paid just $400 in compensation. Climbs are temporarily suspended as rescue workers continue to look for survivors. The government is considering a ban on ascents, even though 334 climbers have already paid to climb this season.
Yesterday marked the first “420” since marijuana became legal in Colorado. Some estimates suggest that as many as 80,000 cannabis lovers converged on Denver to enjoy legal marijuana on the subculture’s unofficial holiday. The number has become a code-term for the consumption of cannabis and refers to the date April 20. Pot smokers celebrated the opportunity to publicly share what they have been doing privately for years. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley is preparing to cash in on the emerging marijuana market, producing high-tech software and pot paraphernalia, including vaporizers and quality testers that plug into your smartphone.
It’s reported that Chinese intelligence officials are building networks in Australian universities to keep tabs on Chinese students. At least 90,000 students from mainland China are studying Down Under and the Chinese government is wary that they’re being exposed to ideas and activities they wouldn’t encounter at home. The students and academics report being interrogated back home over comments made in the classroom, apparently reported by their classmates. In one case, parents were ordered to rein in their son who had attended a talk by the Dalai Lama.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died on Sunday at his Toronto home. He was suffering from prostate cancer. The former boxer and contender for the middleweight championship became an international cause celebre after being wrongly convicted and imprisoned for the 1966 murder of two men and a woman in New Jersey. Carter’s cause attracted a huge amount of public attention, and Bob Dylan penned “Hurricane” in his honor. After 19 years of incarceration, both convictions were overturned. Carter went on to found Innocence International, a non-profit organization devoted to freeing the wrongly convicted.