A day after NATO threatened to tighten the screws on Moscow, Ukrainian leaders and pro-Russian separatists met in Belarus today and signed a truce. The rebels had said they would order a ceasefire if both sides agreed to a peace plan. Western leaders, meanwhile, met for Day Two of a NATO summit in Wales, where they agreed to form a multinational “spearhead” force that can respond to crises in Eastern Europe or the Middle East within 48 hours.
The Presidential Daily Brief
A judge says BP was “grossly negligent” in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 and caused the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. BP may face $18 billion in penalties, on top of the $28 billion it has paid for cleanup and damages. The British firm — which plans to appeal — denied being the main culprit, but the judge said it acted with “conscious disregard of known risks.”
Currying favor may pay, but not for long. Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen have been found guilty of corruption for trading government favors to a businessman in exchange for more than $170,000 in gifts and loans. McDonnell — who sobbed at the verdict — was found guilty on all 11 corruption counts, and his wife was found guilty on eight counts of corruption and one obstruction-of-justice charge. Both face potentially long prison terms but plan to appeal.
There’s no punch line: The queen of satire — and decades-long TV star, host and fashion guru — has died. The Barnard graduate, who once gave tours at Rockefeller Center and performed on stage with Barbra Streisand, suffered cardiac arrest late last week and had been on life support in a New York hospital. Sometimes self-deprecating, often controversial, Rivers will long be remembered for her brusque manner and unrelenting wit. “My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh,” her daughter Melissa said.
David Cameron makes case for striking IS militants. (Independent)
European Central Bank shocks markets with interest-rate cut. (FT) sub
Hacker hits U.S. federal health insurance site. (NPR)
Google to refund $19 million in children’s video game charges. (The Guardian)
Hundreds nabbed at low-wage protests across U.S. (Al Jazeera)
Angst over a Yellowstone National Park supervolcano eruption went viral following a seismometer malfunction. Doomsayers jumped on it, claiming FEMA ordered secret coffin shipments, expected millions of refugees and even evacuated the park. One doom date came within days of an actual earthquake, adding fuel to the fear. The scary caldera has had planet-altering eruptions three times in the last 2.1 million years. While there’s a 1:1,000 chance of a new catastrophe this century, our clear and present danger is digital hysteria.
Paleontologists proudly announce a new addition to the Titanosaur family, dinosaurs aptly named after the Titans of ancient Greece. Dreadnoughtus (Latinized “fear nothing”) stood two stories tall, weighed more than a Boeing 737 and measured 85 feet long. Despite being the largest creatures to walk the Earth 66 million years ago, the vegetarian giants munched mainly on ferns and treetops and were still growing at the time of the new specimen’s death. So, kids: Eat those greens to grow up big and extinct.
Giving it the old college try doesn’t pay — a quarter of the time. One in four U.S. bachelor’s degrees is useless for economic benefit, according to Federal Reserve Bank of New York findings. The median earnings of college students are typically up to 70 percent higher than those with high school diplomas, but many do no better economically. A fourth are landing in the lowest-earning groups, taking home what high school graduates make — their degrees doing little to cushion the fall or pay student debts.
It’s a cat-and-maus game between Disney and Deadmau5, a music producer who’s being sued by the happiest multinational on Earth for infringing on its ubiquitous trademark sensory organs. The Canadian performer, aka Joel Zimmerman, has worn a helmet with mouse ears and Xed-out eyes during his music-mix performances for years. But Disney sued when Zimmerman tried to register his mouse-eared emblem with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Is the maus squeaking in fear? Hardly. Announcing the suit, he tweeted, “Lawyer up, Mickey.”
It’s taken nearly two years and more than a few headlines, but last-season champ Florida State University is finally launching an investigation into a student’s claim that star quarterback and reigning Heisman-winner Jameis Winston raped her. The woman’s attorney, John Clune, says he expects Winston will face code of conduct charges. Federal authorities are looking into the school’s handling of the case, and Clune says FSU seems to be “taking it very seriously.” It appears the school has used up its last time-out.