Saber rattling has hit a fever pitch over Ukraine with Russia conducting military drills along the Ukrainian border following the deaths of five separatists. President Vladimir Putin threatened unspecified consequences in response to the deaths. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, told Moscow it needed to quickly change course in the region and start implementing last week’s peace agreement or face additional economic sanctions. “The window to change course is closing,” he said. Further sanctions could be announced today.
The Presidential Daily Brief
President Obama’s Asian tour hit a hurdle yesterday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to muster support in time for the president’s visit to announce a trade pact in which Japan would open its markets in meat and rice. Today Obama arrived in South Korea — still in mourning after the ferry disaster — where he will meet with President Park Geun-hye. The talks are taking place amid fears that North Korea is planning a fourth nuclear test and are expected to focus on Pyongyang’s atomic weapon program, as well as the economy. Obama will head to Malaysia on Saturday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended Israel’s peace talks with Palestinians in the wake of a deal between the leading Palestinian Fatah Party and Hamas to form a unity government in coming weeks. Israel has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to break the pact if he wants peace, and the U.S. has voiced “disapproval” over the deal. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. remains committed to the peace talks, but another senior official noted that a unity government would prompt the White House to reconsider the aid provided by the U.S. to the Palestinians.
Four of Silicon Valley’s top firms have settled a case brought against them by 64,000 employees who accused them of suppressing salaries by agreeing not to poach each other’s employees. The class action — against Google, Apple, Adobe and Intel — pointed to exchanges between the companies’ top executives about a mutual pact not to hire the others’ engineers. Details of the settlement, which must still be approved by a judge, have not been made public, but the plaintiffs are rumored to have been awarded around $300 million, well below the $9 billion they might have secured had they won the case.
Recalls dent GM’s first quarter profits. (Boston Globe).
Arrest follows drunken airline ‘hijack’ bid in Bali. (DW).
FCC bid to secure open Internet sparks lobbying. (NYT).
Syrian warplanes kill at least 30 in village market raid. (Al Jazeera).
Ecuador expels U.S. military group. (The Guardian).
Justice John Paul Stevens says the federal government should legalize marijuana, comparing the drug’s current status to that of alcohol during Prohibition. Stevens — who retired in 2010 — is promoting his new book, Six Amendments, in which he offers six proposed constitutional changes, including a ban on capital punishment, a limit on corporate election donations and restrictions on an individual’s right to bear arms. Stevens’ proposed amendments may make for provocative reading but, as he admits, they are unlikely to make it into the U.S. Constitution anytime soon.
Being inspired can be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, Stanford University researchers say. Test subjects produced twice the number of creative responses while walking than those who remained seated. But walking didn’t have a positive effect on the focused thinking required for producing single, correct answers. Future studies are needed to understand how walking helps creativity, and whether other low-impact exercises would also work. But to get the creative juices flowing in the meantime, it may be a good idea to take a stroll.
John F. Kennedy is alive and kicking, and he is running for state Senate in Georgia. But this charming JFK isn’t a Democrat; he’s a Republican from the small town of Adrian, and the “F” stands for Flanders, not Fitzgerald. And while this Kennedy claims not to be capitalizing on his namesake’s political legacy, his campaign’s artwork is eerily reminiscent of the original JFK’s, featuring a red, white and blue logo with a retro typeface.
Staff and students from Carnegie Mellon University’s computer club have found more than a dozen previously unknown works by legendary artist Andy Warhol on 30-year-old Amiga disks. Under commission from Commodore, the creator of the Amiga computer, Warhol conducted art experiments in 1985 to create digital images. A new-media artist spotted a YouTube video of Warhol working on an image of Blondie’s Debbie Harry on an Amiga. He then contacted the Warhol Museum for access to their floppy disks, and the Carnegie team recovered the artistic treasure after a three-year re-engineering process.
The 22-time Olympic medalist didn’t lose much during his two-year retirement. At 52.84 seconds, he was the fastest qualifier in the 100-meter butterfly at the Arena Grand Prix. Fellow American Ryan Lochte had the last laugh, though. His 51.93 time in the event final on Thursday night took top honors, while Phelps swam into second place. But the Subway spokesperson was fast enough to qualify for the U.S. national championships later this summer, where the 2015 world championships team will be decided. “One step at a time,” Phelps said.