The first lady of Virginia needed inaugural dresses, and she didn’t have the funds, according to police and press investigations. So she turned to a local businessman. Thus began a close relationship between Gov. Robert and Maureen McDonnell and businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. that a grand jury decided was a little too close. A 14-count indictment marks the first criminal case against a governor in that state’s history. The Republican was seen as possible vice presidential material under candidate Mitt Romney, and maybe a future president, on a short list that often included N.J. Gov. Chris Christie. Maybe the GOP needs a new list?
The Presidential Daily Brief
After months of civil unrest in Ukraine, police have begun a violent crackdown against protesters in Kiev, killing at least three. Prime Minister Mykola Azarov had warned that police would use force under new laws, effective today, which stipulate that demonstrators can be jailed for up to 15 years. Earlier, frequent protesters received Orwellian-style text messages from the government informing them they were “registered as participants in mass riots.” Many activists, who have been protesting Ukraine’s anti-EU policies, seemed unfazed by the surveillance, but today’s clashes may leave them wary of Big Brother-style tactics.
International diplomats are now meeting at the long-awaited Geneva II conference in Switzerland in an effort to secure a long-term solution to Syria’s civil war. With President Bashar al-Assad still referring to the opposition as “terrorists,” reaching an accord won’t be easy. The talks get under way in the wake of acrimony over Iran’s invitation, later rescinded, as well as accusations by international prosecutors that Syria has tortured detainees. Still, it’s the first time the government and opposition have agreed to meet since the conflict began, and with 100,000 dead, it’s high time they secure peace.
With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics fast approaching, the U.S. has offered to contribute new anti-terrorist weapons and detection devices to Russian security efforts. The U.S. Defense Department met with their Russian equivalents to discuss cooperative security exchanges, including technology that detects improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and even the possibility of stationing two U.S. Navy warships off the Russian coast during the Games. The news comes as Russian authorities reveal they are hunting “black widow” Chechen terrorist suspects. It seems the former Cold War rivals may have found a common cause in making the Olympics safe for everyone.
Frigid temperatures and blowing snow have chilled East Coast residents from New England to North Carolina, shutting schools, halting commuters and canceling thousands of flights. New Jersey and Philadelphia are digging out from under more than a foot of snow, with New York and Maryland trailing a few inches behind. Lake-effect snow also pummeled the Midwest, with parts of Indiana recording 20 inches. The winter storm is expected to continue today, bringing a frosty midweek to much of the country, with temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in places.
Source: USA Today
Trial begins for Chinese lawyer and activist Xu Zhiyong. (DW).
FIFA warns Curitiba may be dropped as World Cup host city. (BBC).
John Kerry calls for a halt to planned Texas execution. (LA Times).
Bomb hits Pakistani police, killing seven. (USA Today).
Pro-Government ‘Red Shirt’ leader shot in Bangkok. (BBC).
Bill Gates has revealed that he will spend the remainder of his life dedicated to philanthropic work. In 2000, Gates and his wife founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has a current endowment of $40.2 billion. Commenting on Microsoft’s search for a replacement for CEO Steve Ballmer, who is retiring this year, Gates noted that his philanthropy suited him just fine. “My full-time work will be the foundation for the rest of my life,” he said. The millions benefitting from the foundation’s health and education initiatives around the world will no doubt be hoping it’s a long life indeed.
A 29.6-carat blue diamond, worth between $15 million and $20 million, has been unearthed at the Cullinan mine near Pretoria, South Africa. The mine has played host to some staggering discoveries in recent years, including the largest rough diamond ever recovered at 3,106 carats and a 25.5-carat blue diamond that sold for $16.9 million. But Petra Diamonds has described this new find as exceptional for being an “outstanding vivid blue with extraordinary saturation, tone and clarity.” At the estimated value, however, few girls can afford to make this gem their best friend.
Source: The Guardian
Fashionistas can pack up their blister patches and kiss their sky-high pumps goodbye. Chanel‘s fashion mogul Karl Lagerfeld has decided to set women‘s feet free by featuring sneakers in its Haute Couture collection. The idea is that a more comfortable woman is a happier, more confident one. The price of beauty may have been reduced to walking on air, but the fashionable footwear won’t be sold over the counter. While the bejeweled, embroidered couture versions could prove unaffordable, ready-to-wear Chanel sneakers sell for around $600. Sore feet or not, there’s always a price to be paid for fashion.
Source: The Telegraph
Music-streaming services already exist, but none of them were developed by Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor – until now. Beats Music wants to set itself apart by using human and machine intelligence combined in a slick interface that adds up user preferences, time of day, possible activities, and other contextual clues to locate what subscribers want to hear next. Rival firm Spotify anticipated the big launch with a release of its own — a feature that allows fans to purchase music merchandise from its store. While the companies battle to come first in the streaming race, music-lovers are the real winners.
Seventeen-time grand slam winner Roger Federer bid Wimbledon champ Andy Murray farewell at the Australian Open, beating him in four sets to advance to the semi-finals. This comes after Stanislas Wawrinka ejected three-time Australian Open defending champion Novak Djokovic in a four-hour, five-set match, to reach the semi-finals. Rafael Nadal also managed to stay in the running by beating Grigor Dimitrov in four sets. He will now face Federer in the semis. The hot temperatures down under may have eased, but the tennis tournament is just heating up.