Pro-Russian separatists have declared overwhelming victory in an independence referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk. Rebel leaders claimed nearly 90 percent support, despite the confusion, fraud and bloodshed associated with yesterday’s vote. There are reports of various forms of vote-rigging and Ukraine, the EU and other opponents refuse to recognize the results. In any case, it was unclear what the two provinces were voting for: greater autonomy or Russian annexation? In the town of Krasnoarmeisk, armed men identified as members of the Ukrainian national guard fatally shot at least two men as a crowd rushed a building.
The Presidential Daily Brief
French President Francois Hollande has offered to host a security summit on Boko Haram with Nigeria and neighboring nations. The summit would be held next weekend, attended by the EU, U.S. and UK along with Chad, Cameroon and Niger. The governor of the northern state of Borno, meanwhile, reported that witnesses had spotted the abducted girls and that it was unlikely they had been taken across the border. President Goodluck Jonathan has announced that an Israeli counter-terrorism team is arriving in Nigeria to help find the kidnapped victims.
At least 36 migrants were killed when their boat went down just off the coast of Libya, officials have confirmed. While 52 people were rescued, 42 are still believed missing. The boat was bound for Italy, but the crush of people onboard caused the hull to give way soon after departure. One hundred people are believed to have perished in the Mediterranean over the past two weeks amid a migration season blighted by tragedy. Libya’s government has warned the EU if it doesn’t take steps to resolve the refugee crisis then Libya will start helping migrants to reach Europe.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Donald Sterling said he was “baited” into making racist remarks and that it was “a terrible mistake.” The NBA’s Advisory/Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss the termination of Sterling’s ownership. His wife, Shelly, plans to divorce her husband and insists that she will fight to keep her 50 percent stake in the team. But LeBron James, the NBA’s most valuable asset, has said that players do not want any member of Sterling’s family to retain ownership of the Clippers.
Senator Marco Rubio says he’s ready to be president. (Reuters).
Third body recovered following deadly balloon crash in Virginia. (USA Today).
Armed troops begin “antiterrorist stability maintenance” in Beijing. (NYT).
Greek Supreme Court approves Golden Dawn’s participation in EU election. (Al Jazeera).
Washington Monument set to reopen after quake repair. (Politico).
Chuck Hagel said he’s open to exploring the possibility of allowing transgender troops to serve in the US military. Currently recruiters reject any applicants with what they call “psychosexual conditions.” Though Hagel supports a continual review of recruitment policy, in an interview with ABC he said change would not come unless certain complicated issues were resolved, such as providing transgender troops with necessary medical attention in “austere” locations. However, he stressed his belief that anyone who wants to serve “should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the sale of a prosthetic arm that is controlled by muscle movements. Using signals picked up from electrodes connected to the wearer’s muscles, the Deka Arm allows users to perform more complex tasks than current prostheses. Its creators hope it will enhance the lives of amputees who often struggle to find prosthetic limbs capable of natural movement. The device has been nicknamed Luke after Luke Skywalker’s robotic limb in Star Wars.
A women’s group in India has launched a campaign against political parties trying to bribe voters with the offer of free alcohol. One of the faces of the campaign is Rajju Lal, whose husband died of alcohol poisoning during India’s 2009 election season. Both the Congress Party and BJP deny using alcohol or drugs to win votes but in the country’s Punjab region, which is beset by social problems related to addiction, many reject their claims. Yesterday was the last of nine rounds of voting. Read what Ozy has to say about Narendra Modi, widely expected to emerge as Prime Minister.
A restaurant in Losone, Switzerland, is imposing fines on customers in a radical bid to reduce food waste. Patrizietta’s owner, Giovanni Tarufo, was troubled by the amount of food being thrown away during the restaurant’s lunchtime buffet service. In response, he’s instituted a policy of adding five Swiss francs to the bill if customers fail to clean their plates. It’s a small amount, but Tarufo hopes it will send a strong signal. Bad news for diners whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs.
Manchester’s boys in blue are Premier League champions for the second time in three seasons, sealing the deal with a 2-0 win over West Ham. City’s impressive five-win finish, combined with Liverpool’s heartbreaking collapse, meant Sunday’s game was more a party than a suspenseful end to the season. The title is the best start imaginable for City manager Manuel Pellegrini in his first season in charge. Long viewed as Man Utd’s poor cousin, City has been on the rise since it was purchased by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, becoming one of the world’s wealthiest clubs.