Diplomats are holding talks with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych over the deadly clashes plaguing Kiev’s streets. Last night, Yanukovych and the opposition agreed to a truce, but that calm was quickly disrupted by today’s renewed violence and 21 deaths. Some fear Yanukovych’s sacking of an army chief could potentially signal plans to use the military in the conflict, and there were reports early today of two armored vehicles being seen heading towards Independence Square. The EU plans to discuss possible sanctions against Ukraine later today.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Mark Zuckerberg has a new friend, and it cost him more than just a few clicks. Facebook is purchasing text messaging start-up WhatsApp — for a whopping $19 billion. The Mountain View-based start-up charges just $1 a year for its service, enabling 450 million monthly users to text their friends for free over the Internet. The deal includes $4 billion in cash, $12 billion worth of Facebook shares, plus $3 billion in restricted stock units for WhatsApp employees. Its co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton — set to become billionaires — are no doubt clicking “Like” to the plan.
The U.S. men’s hockey players don’t have to worry about another gold medal game against Canada (to whom they lost in 2010), because they’re taking on their northern neighbor in the semifinal tomorrow. They managed to beat the Czech Republic 5-2 last night. But the U.S. and Canadian women’s hockey teams are facing off for gold today. The U.S. is ahead in the overall medal count at 23. Today’s highlights include ladies’ figure skating and ski half-pipe, men’s ski cross and curling, in addition to the women’s hockey final.
The president attended the North American Leaders’ Summit on Wednesday, discussing trade and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts. Obama acknowledged that he faces opposition back home to the TPP — in which he wants to see North American players retain their competitive advantage — but indicated a “good agreement” would get approved. The summit, which marked the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, enabled the leaders to reach an agreement on streamlining border controls with a trusted traveler program.
North and South Korean families set for reunions. (Al Jazeera).
U.S. warns of possible shoe bombers. (CNN).
Pakistan takes aim at militant hideouts. (BBC).
Wisconsin governor under fire after emails released. (NYT).
France and Germany to send joint brigade to Mali. (DW).
The World Clown Association has seen its membership numbers fall from 3,500 to 2,500 over the past decade, prompting fears that red noses and big shoes may become a thing of the past. The decline is attributed to youngsters no longer taking up clowning because it’s lost its “cool.” It doesn’t help that some people are simply afraid of clowns — the term is coulrophobia — thanks in part to the rise of creepy characters like Stephen King’s Pennywise. Many will shed a greasepaint tear at the news that people just don’t want to clown around anymore.
We already knew that sitting around did little for our health, but it’s worse than that. Researchers have found that, for people over 60, each additional hour spent sitting increases their risk of developing physical disabilities by 50 percent. And that’s regardless of how much exercise the person does. Sure, watching TV is relaxing, but with so much of the U.S. health budget aimed at treating disabilities, being a couch potato comes at a very high price.
After months of speculation, Google has announced plans to explore bringing its Fiber gigabit service — which is 100 times faster than the average U.S. connection — to several American cities. The tech giant has already introduced the super-fast Internet connection to Kansas City and Provo and is now hoping to speed things up in places like Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix, Portland and Salt Lake City. It appears ruling the Internet is not enough when you aim to provide it.
Love him or hate him, three-time Razzie Award-winner Adam Sandler still earns $5 million more per flick than the Oscar-winning Jennifer Lawrence. According to the annual report of the Women’s Media Center, equality is slowly increasing, but female actors still suffer from the gender gap. And only 28.4 percent of speaking roles in 2013’s top 100 movies went to women. But women do have the edge in one area — they’re three times more likely than men to get naked onscreen.
Anyone who’s seen The Blind Side knows the NCAA is a stern organization, and it understandably needs to be tough in cases of student athletes being paid or granted unwarranted benefits. But last year the University of Oklahoma reported laughably minor violations that included footballers eating pasta “in excess of NCAA regulation” at a banquet. In order to be allowed to play, the players were required to pay the value of the extra noodles — $3.83 — to the charity of their choice. Some college footballers, no matter how honorable, apparently find carbs a little too tempting.
Source: Bleacher Report