A government probe of delays in veterans’ health care has confirmed systemic scheduling abuses and cover-ups. In one of the 42 veteran health centers now being investigated, the department’s inspector general discovered that the average waiting time for initial primary care was 115 days — nearly five times what the hospital’s administrators reported. Delays were likely to have been hidden to falsify better performance reviews for hospital personnel, it said. The information has been turned over to the Justice Department. The report has prompted renewed calls for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Officials have concluded that the pings that guided the MH370 search were not connected to the missing plane, according to a U.S. Navy spokesman. After a massive search of 329 square miles of the Indian Ocean, searchers now believe the transmissions were linked to another man-made source and not from the black box. If the pings had come from the plane they would have been located, said the spokesman. The next search phase will involve scouring some 23,000 square miles and will likely be conducted by private companies.
President Obama has paid tribute to novelist and poet Maya Angelou, describing her as one of the “brightest lights of our time, a brilliant writer and fierce friend.” Former U.S. presidents also acknowledged the writer, who died yesterday at 86. George W. Bush praised Angelou as an advocate of peace and equality, while Bill Clinton, who invited Angelou to read at his 1993 inauguration, lamented the loss of a national treasure. Oprah Winfrey, who was very close to Angelou, remembered her as “my mentor, mother/sister and friend.”
In its largest deal to date, Apple has purchased Beats Electronics for $3 billion. The move is seen as Apple’s attempt to catch up with rivals that offer subscription-based music services and maintain its leadership in the music business. Until now, Apple has shied away from multi-billion dollar deals, even though $3 billion is small change to a company sitting on about $159 billion in cash. But it is a windfall for Beats’ founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre — who has already dubbed himself the “first billionare in hip-hop.”
Ukraine helicopter reportedly shot down near Sloviansk, killing 14. (BBC).
U.S. citizen reportedly conducts suicide bombing in Syria. (NYT).
Al-Sisi heads for landslide in Egyptian presidential election. (Reuters).
Snowden defends actions in NBC interview. (The Guardian).
Obama outlines foreign policy vision in West Point address. (CNN).
Mon dieu, French will overtake Mandarin, English, Spanish, Hindi and Arabic as the world’s most spoken language in 40 years’ time, according to a report. Investment bank Natixis attributes the rise to to the fact that populations in France’s former colonies, mostly in Africa, are growing faster than in English or Mandarin-speaking regions. But though the population of former French colonies is increasing, many citizens speak other languages in addition to, or instead of, French. Besides, overcoming the cultural and economic hegemony of English will be très difficile.
Fifty five people were convicted of violent crime in a mass trial held in a packed sports stadium in Xinjiang, China. A crowd of 7,000 watched as punishments — including three death sentences — were handed down for murder, terrorism and separatism. Commentators have observed that the event was reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution when mass public denouncements were common. All the defendants seem to have been ethnic Uighurs, whose community has been blamed for a growing number of violent attacks across the country.
Environmental factors have more influence on aging than previously thought, according to new research. A study found that external factors, known as gerontogens, make a dramatic impression on physiology. These include toxins from contaminated groundwater, cigarettes, industrial pollution and even sunlight. Understanding the impact of external toxins may help people to protect their bodies from aging by clarifying the actual efficacy of remedies like red wine, green tea or an apple a day in the fight against aging.
In a new HBO documentary, the actor tells the story of his father, an openly gay artist who passed away in 1993. The Oscar-winner describes feeling “obligated” to make a documentary about Robert De Niro Sr. To represent his father’s life and his Matisse-inspired works, De Niro reads excerpts from the painter’s diary which reveal a complex, sensitive and loving man. While he is well known for playing the tough guy, the star becomes visibly emotional in the new feature, expressing hope that his dad’s story can inspire others.
Serena and Venus Williams were all set to face one another in round three at Roland Garros. But two relative unknowns have put the legendary sisters on an early flight home. First, teenager Anna Schmiedlova knocked off 29th-seeded Venus. Then, in a far bigger shock, 20-year-old Garbine Muguruza crushed top seed Serena, 6-2, 6-2, the number one’s worst singles loss at a Grand Slam. After more than a decade of total dominance, is the Williams era finally drawing to a close?