Let us now praise famous criminals: Cheng Chui Ping, who the Department of Justice described as the vicious "mother of all snakeheads" (she was a human smuggler), but is revered as a folk hero in NYC's Chinatown, has died in a Texas prison at the age of 65, prompting another look at her life.
One dead police officer, one judge, one ruling, 683 death sentences: Egyptian judges condemn supposed supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death en masse. Some say they were turned in by police informants with personal agendas.
Wave of tornados in the midwest: Sixteen reported dead so far while searchers sift through the wreckage.
Questions and criticisms about the response to the Oso slide begin: First there were stories about the feds threatening to arrest locals who went in to look for the buried (wildcat rescue teams evaded the roadblocks and went in anyway). Now the Seattle Times reports: "At an annual emergency-management conference last week, county emergency-management director John Pennington said he thought the March 22 mudslide would force officials to 'take a hard look at how we look at the interface of incident-management teams' in natural disasters."
Vlad the Mad: Russia keeps pushing in Ukraine, using its now well-tested formula of making invasion look like a popular mandate by sending in paramilitary "civilians" to take over buildings Occupy-style (except with guns) and wait for the official soldiers to arrive. Kiev says Russia is trying to provoke WWIII (they always start with Central European territory disputes, don't they?), while others wonder if Vladimir Putin has simply lost touch with reality. (Though, to be fair, people have been asking that question for years.) Meanwhile, Occupy activists must be feeling slightly uncomfortable that their successful tactics—kids in masks taking up space—have been quickly and effectively appropriated for such ugly ends.
White House announces sanctions against members of Putin's inner circle: "The Department of the Treasury is imposing sanctions on seven Russian government officials, including two members of President Putin’s inner circle, who will be subject to an asset freeze and a U.S. visa ban, and 17 companies linked to Putin’s inner circle, which will be subject to an asset freeze. In addition, the Department of Commerce has imposed additional restrictions on 13 of those companies by imposing a license requirement with a presumption of denial for the export, re-export or other foreign transfer of U.S.-origin items to the companies."
UK sends four fighter jets to the region: NATO members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are nervous, but any Russian action against them would trigger an automatic NATO response. (Suddenly, and surely inadvertently, Putin is increasing NATO's relevance.)
South Africa celebrates the 20th anniversary of the end of apartheid: But almost every article about the anniversary cited disillusionment and disappointment among South Africans, young and old, about economic inequality, political division, and how little progress the country has made. Archbishop Tutu even said he was "glad" Mandela and his comrades "are no longer alive to see this."
Clinic attack in Central African Republic kills 22, including three members of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders): "Fifteen of the dead were local chiefs, according to the area's former MP. The attack has been blamed on the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels, whose 2013 seizure of power sparked the crisis. They were accused of numerous attacks on members of the CAR's Christian majority and since their leader was forced to step down as president in January, militias have been taking revenge against the Muslim community. On Sunday, peacekeepers escorted more than 1,200 Muslims out of the capital, Bangui, for their own safety."
If this is the end of net neutrality, what's next? From an NYT editorial: "The uproar is appropriate: In bowing before an onslaught of corporate lobbying, the commission has chosen short-term political expediency over the long-term interest of the country. But if this is the end of net neutrality as we know it, it is not the end of the line for fair and equitable Internet access. Indeed, the commission’s decision frees Americans to focus on a real long-term solution: supporting open municipal-level fiber networks." The editorial does not address what networks administered by cities—which get grants from and engage in information-swapping with federal law-enforcement agencies—will mean for concerns about state surveillance.
How Gabriel Garcia Márquez turned down Harvey Weinstein's request to film One Hundred Years of Solitude: "Márquez told Weinstein that if he, and director Giuseppe Tornatore, wanted the rights to One Hundred Years of Solitude they were the men for the job. But there was one catch: 'We must film the entire book, but only release one chapter – two minutes long – each year, for 100 years,' Weinstein said."
And here's a picture of some bird apodments recently spotted in Phnom Penh: