Vladimir Putin asked pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone a referendum on autonomy set to take place Sunday. But the separatists reportedly decided today to go ahead with the vote. Putin noted that delaying would allow dialogue to take place with Kiev, and he even added a sign of support for Ukraine’s upcoming national election. The Russian leader also said he was calling troops back from the Ukrainian border, but the White House and NATO said they have not yet seen signs of Russia backing down.
The Presidential Daily Brief
As many as 300 were killed yesterday when Boko Haram unleashed an attack on a Nigerian village left unguarded by troops who went in search of the 276 kidnapped girls. Nigerian police have offered a $309,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the schoolgirls. Both the U.S. and Britain are aiding the search. Young activist Malala Yousafzai, meanwhile, slammed the militants’ knowledge of Islam, urging them to read the Koran and treat the girls as “their sisters.”
The Republican-led House of Representatives has voted to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt for refusing to testify before Congressional panels. She is at the center of a scandal over the agency’s alleged targeting of conservative groups. Lerner has refused to testify on Capitol Hill, citing her Fifth Amendment rights. Republicans are looking to expose an alleged pattern of cover-up by the White House; Democrats see the move as political foreplay to election season. Lerner’s case will now be referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
In a bid to improve returns, Barclays has announced it will cut thousands of jobs across its divisions by 2016. This year will see 14,000 positions axed — half of them in the UK. The investment division — hit by a 28 percent drop in revenue in the first quarter — will lose 7,000 jobs, starting with 2,000 this year. It will also cut nearly half of its assets. Referring to it as a “bold simplification,” Chief Executive Antony Jenkins said the more-focused Barclays will operate “only in areas where we have capability, scale and competitive advantage.”
Huge blast destroys Aleppo hotel in Syria. (BBC).
NBC secures rights to Olympics through 2032. (NYT).
Chinese clash at sea with Vietnam, Philippines. (NPR).
Four bodies found in tennis star’s torched home. (AP).
Richard Linklater, director of Dazed and Confused and School of Rock, has become the landlord of Bernie Tiede, the subject of his 2011 film Bernie. The film tells the true story of the Texas mortician who shot and killed a wealthy widow and hid her body in a freezer. Tiede has been released from a life sentence — psychiatrists decided the murder wasn’t premeditated. Linklater testified on Tiede’s behalf this week, offering him a place to live. The court set that as a condition of his release, pointing Tiede’s life in a whole new direction.
Fancy a peek at the origins of the universe? Thanks to MIT and Harvard researchers, you can see the first galaxies burst into existence on your computer. Their “Illustris simulation” is the first model to accurately predict the gas and metal content and variety of galaxies observed in the universe. How complex is it? A normal desktop computer would need 2,000 years to run the simulation once. Two supercomputers were employed to produce the model, which scientists hope will help them better understand the the origins of the universe and how it formed.
As German prosecutors try to determine ownership of artworks found in a Munich home last year — possibly stolen by Nazis — they now face another hurdle. The self-proclaimed owner of the works died this week, leaving the cache to a single heir: Bern Art Museum in Switzerland. Cornelius Gurlitt, 81, the son of the collector who amassed the works, had no relationship with the museum. While thrilled by the prospect, the museum also recognizes the mess it is inheriting as experts continue to sort out ownership of the 1,200 works.
The world is startlingly illiterate, financially speaking. Only 30 percent of Americans know basic money management, according to a recent study. A survey posed three basic financial questions about savings, interest and stocks to people in various countries. Germans performed the best, with 50 percent answering correctly, while only four percent of Russians got the answers right. The research also revealed that women, the poor and the elderly were the least financially literate. The implication? Most of us need help counting the money.
Source: The Atlantic
Almost everyone is certain the Houston Texans will take defensive end Jadeveon Clowney first in tonight’s draft. Even Clowney is confident. When asked whether the Texans would regret passing on him, Clowney grinned and said: “I don’t think they’re going to pass.” That would please highly rated quarterback Johnny Manziel, who reportedly wants nothing to do with Houston. The thinking is that Manziel wants to drop the “Johnny Football” persona he cultivated at nearby Texas A&M and get a fresh start elsewhere. How does sunny, bustling Cleveland sound?