Ukrainian special forces launched an air assault to drive pro-Russian separatists from Donetsk airport, and reports today indicate that at least 30 rebels have been killed. The lightning-fast response was the most aggressive yet against the separatists and occurred as newly elected President Petro Poroshenko declared that the anti-terror operation should “last hours, not months.” Separatist forces elsewhere have offered to negotiate with the new administration alongside Russian mediators, but Poroshenko has refused to meet with the rebel fighters, who he compares to Somali pirates.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Vietnam is accusing China of ramming and sinking one of its fishing boats in the South China Sea with 10 crew on board. China is returning the blame in kind, saying the boat capsized after “harassing and colliding” with a Chinese fishing boat. The incident apparently occurred in waters near an oil rig over which the two countries have been fighting. Tensions began heating up in early May, when China moved the rig into waters also claimed by Vietnam, close to the disputed Paracel Islands. China has refused to remove the rig, which has resulted in anti-China protests in Vietnam.
The U.S. government provided a couple of surprises over the Memorial Day weekend, first with President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan and then by exposing the name of their chief spy in Kabul. Officials mistakenly exposed the “chief of station” — CIA speak for top spy — in a list of officials involved in Obama’s trip, which was released to the press. It’s unclear whether the goof will force the agency to relocate the officer. A reporter flagged the mistake, and White House officials issued a new list without the name in an attempt to “un-ring the bell.”
The rampage near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, has sparked debate about attitudes toward women and violence. The response comes after suspected gunman Elliot Rodger, who killed himself, revealed in a manifesto that the assault was retaliation against women for starving him of affection. Such attitudes represent examples of men feeling entitled to threaten women, said some students on campus, where a gang rape this year had also heightened fears. On social media, thousands have begun discussing violence against women under the hashtag #yesallwomen. The attack claimed seven lives, including Rodger’s.
Hollande calls for EU reforms following Euroskeptic electoral success. (BBC).
Nigerian army claims to know where schoolgirls are. (Al Jazeera).
Satellite data of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 released. (CNN).
Pope to meet with sex abuse victims. (Boston Globe).
Pfizer calls off bid for AstraZeneca. (FT) sub.
In a January referendum for a new constitution, many Abdul Fattah al-Sisi fans invalidated their ballots by forgoing the traditional cross or tick and writing things like “I love you” or drawing hearts on the paper instead. For the presidential election now under way, in which Sisi is the favorite, Egypt’s Higher Election Commission has decided to relax the rules, enabling Sisi devotees to write their feelings without spoiling their vote. Social media is buzzing with jokes about what will be found in ballot boxes next. Would flowers and chocolates count as two votes, or just one?
Lyric and news annotation website Rap Genius has jettisoned its co-founder for inappropriate comments made about alleged killer Elliot Rodger’s manifesto. Mahbod Moghadam said that Rodger’s sister could be “smokin hot” and the manifesto was “beautifully written.” He apologized, saying he got carried away and that the sister comment was in “horrible taste.” The CEO of Rap Genius slammed Moghadam’s “gleeful insensitivity and misogyny.” Rodger is suspected of murdering six near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself.
Officials are preparing to test dogs, cats and even rats to determine whether they are carriers of the dangerous Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome. Scientists suspect the deadly illness — characterized by fever, cough and breathing difficulties — crossed over from animals to humans, and it’s already been traced to camels. But the way the disease is spreading indicates that other animals may be carriers. Scientists fear the disease could spread quickly if it’s not brought under control. Thirty percent of people who get Mers die, and 200 people have succumbed to it since 2012.
The German auto giant has revealed involvement in Nazi-era atrocities. A study commissioned by Audi concluded that the management of its forerunner company, Auto Union, bore “moral responsibility” for using the slave labor of more than 3,700 concentration camp prisoners, while thousands of other non-inmates were forced to work in inhumane conditions in other plants. Chairman at the time, Richard Bruhn, known as the “Father of the Auto Union,” was a Nazi Party member. Concerned by the findings, Audi is considering changing Bruhn’s online profile and removing his name from some initiatives.
The Miami Heat outlasted a big fourth quarter push by the Indiana Pacers to emerge on top in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, winning 102-90. The Pacers dug themselves into a 23-point hole that even David West couldn’t overcome. Chris Bosh got the scoring started for Miami, but it was LeBron James who carried the day, scoring a cool 32, with 10 rebounds and a fierce reverse dunk to put his team one win away from moving on to the NBA Finals. Paul George’s take on defeat? It was the referees’ fault.