Ukranian protests succeed in deposing President Yanukovych. On Saturday, protesters in Kiev successfully overtook the president’s office. Parliament voted to remove Yanukovych and begin the process for new elections. In the interim, speaker Oleksandr Turchinov will be acting President; Turchniov is an ally of former P.M. Yulia Tymoshenko, who was a political prisoner under Yanukovych and has since been freed. The former President Yanukovych left Kiev Sunday, and his current whereabouts are unknown; an arrest warrant accuses him of mass murder. The country remains deeply divided between pro-Russian factions in the East and South, primarily along the Crimean Peninsula, and the pro-European protesters in the West. The U.S. has urged Russia not to intervene in Ukrainian politics, likely because the U.S. plans to intervene in Ukrainian politics. Bazinga!
U.S. may shrink Army numbers to smallest since WWII, if Hagel has his way. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday made recommendations to the Pentagon’s 2015 budget that include huge cuts to personnel costs, as well as direct cuts to the number of active-duty Army members (from 522,000 members currently, to between 440,000–450,000). Next week, President Obama is expected to deliver his own budget proposals.
U.S. plummets to 46th in the 2014 Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index. In 2013, the U.S. was ranked 32nd in the world. Reporters without Borders changes their indexing methodology every year, so it’s hard to say what this means. The index regularly ranks Nordic and Central European countries in its top 10. This year’s low rating for the U.S. is attributed to the country’s treatment of whistleblowers.
Taco Bell to launch breakfast menu nationwide. We once had only whispers and rumors, or, more accurately, a limited release on the West Coast. But now, THE WAFFLE TACO IS COMING. The nationwide release will be March 27. In other news, marijuana sales are booming in legalized states and expected to bring hundreds of millions in state revenue for Colorado alone next fiscal year. And since Obama cleared the banks to accept all that green earlier this month, America is duly prepared for the glory of the Taco Bell First Meal. Live Más.
Harold Ramis, 69, passes away. The comedic legend who brought you “Ghostbusters” and “Stripes”, among many other films, passed away on Monday morning in the Chicago area after a four year battle with autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. As Bill Murray, who worked with Ramis on numerous films, said, “He earned his keep on this planet.”
U.S. considering full pull-out of Afghanistan. Not because the country is stable and awesome and it’s like a war had never been fought there at all, but rather as a means to passive-aggressively get Hamid Karzai to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement detailing continued U.S. operations in the country. Diplomacy!
The U.S. can kick out diplomats, too, Venezuela. And they did; three in fact, citing human rights and democracy concerns. The move comes after Venezuela gave three U.S. diplomats the boot following President Maduro’s alleging U.S. involvement in recent mass protests. You know, as one does.
Boko Haram targets school in Nigeria. The Islamist group continued its violence in northern Nigeria, where armed militants killed 29 students at a boarding school before setting the school on fire. The attack comes on the heels of two attacks on villages which left over one hundred dead.
Thai military will not intervene in protests. The head of the military, General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, said though forces will be present for protection, they would not take sides in the ongoing civil unrest. He also urged protesters to “compose” themselves and consider their actions. Protests began in October 2013, and demonstrators are calling for the resignation of the prime minister.
Uganda “anti-gay” bill signed into law. President Yoweri Museveni signed the controversial bill on Monday, making homosexuality punishable by life in prison. The bill, a draft of which called for the execution of homosexuals, has drawn extensive international condemnation. On Tuesday a newspaper ran a front page story claiming to detail the “Top 200” gays in Uganda, suggesting a long road for those activists seeking to reverse homophobia in the country.
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