The battle for Crimea has switched from bases to banks. The U.S. and EU are enforcing stricter sanctions against more Russians, eliciting complaints from tycoons but scoffs from President Vladimir Putin as Russia formalizes Crimea’s annexation. Russian stocks are tanking as Putin enforces travel bans on senior U.S. politicians — one senator jokingly tweeted about not being able to vacation in Siberia. But sanctions can cut two ways: Disruptions to Russia’s gas and oil trade could hurt the U.S. and Europe.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Mexico’s capital city of 23 million rests on very shaky ground. A yawning cavern, discovered this week just below a major intersection, hints at even larger dangers. Miles of abandoned mines lurk below the city surface. And then there’s the unstable, soft soil the city’s built upon. Older downtown buildings already lean. Officials still aren’t sure how far this week’s hole stretches, but they don’t think it will be the last.
Who gets a reprimand, a fine, a pension and no time in prison? Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair. Instead, he’ll have his pay docked over the next four months to cover his $20,000 fine and will remain in the Army. Sinclair was initially accused of sexually assaulting a subordinate but pleaded guilty to lesser charges, including mistreating a captain. Sinclair was elated by the ruling but will be filing for retirement, according to his lawyer. The captain’s attorney called the ruling a “travesty.”
The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 resumed today after poor visibility hampered yesterday’s operations. Satellite imagery has identified possible debris from the flight far off the western coast of Australia, in the “most inaccessible spot” on Earth, according to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Search planes must travel four hours to the area, leaving only two hours of search time before needing to return for fuel. The tough work aside, Abbott said that the families of the missing 239 passengers deserved nothing less.
Scammers impersonating Internal Revenue Service representatives are calling Americans in the middle of tax season and demanding large sums of money. The largest-ever IRS tax scam has already seen at least $1 million nabbed from unlucky taxpayers. The scammers demand hundreds and thousands of dollars in alleged unpaid taxes, citing personal information, such as partial social security numbers and workplace addresses, in a bid to look official. They’ve also been able to spoof emails and caller-ID systems. Beware, the phony taxman cometh!
Thailand’s election declared invalid. (Bangkok Post).
Gunmen kill nine in Kabul hotel attack. (BBC).
Bankrupt Mt. Gox finds 200,000 Bitcoins. (DW).
Pastor’s death may spell end for Westboro Baptist Church. (USA Today).
First Ladies tour Forbidden City in China. (SCMP).
A disenchanted former Mormon has failed in his bid to bring a fraud case against the head of America’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a British court. The ex-believer claimed Mormon president Thomas Monson sought donations to “make a gain for himself or another” by using “untrue or misleading” statements. Those included teachings that the Book of Mormon was translated from ancient gold plates, and that Native Americans are descended from Israelites. But the judge tossed the case, saying the court was being manipulated as a forum for religious attack.
The human nose can distinguish more than a trillion smells, beating the rather limited human eye and its mere two million colors, scientists say. Driven by the fact that earlier studies — which claimed that noses could only tell between 10,000 different scents — were just plain “wrong,” scientists concocted new smell tests. The experiments proved humans can detect tiny differences between smells and as many as a trillion of them. Some believe the noble nose can smell even more than that. Other senses just can’t touch what it knows.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would “eradicate Twitter” and followed through this morning by blocking access to the site. With elections just nine days away, the Turkish leader appears to have lost patience with social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube being used to humiliate the government. Erdogan probably didn’t retweet the recording in which he allegedly discussed removing large amounts of cash from his house amid a police graft investigation. He’d better hope his election strategy is cannier than his censorship: Twitter has already announced services for Turkish users to tweet via text message.
When a rebellious American teen veers off the rails, who you gonna call? Apparently her Saudi Arabian relatives, who kidnap her. That’s the startling premise of a new series on the Disney-owned ABC Family network. Alice of Alice in Arabia is “intrigued” by her new country and its “diverse” people, according to the network’s pitch. If only the now-veiled teen could get out more, but she’s a “virtual prisoner in her grandfather’s royal compound.” A U.S. Muslim organization is demanding a meeting with ABC Family to discuss potential stereotyping.
College jocks today, depressed couch potatoes tomorrow. University athletes may end up ditching a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude because of the effects of sports injuries, recent research indicates. College athletes suffer more injuries during their university years than the sports-challenged. And a new study that tracked athletes from Indiana University also found they have more problems in middle age with depression, sleep and fatigue. Of course, trading future health for college glory is not limited to athletes. Anyone for beer pong?