Friday’s Mini-Report, 5.2.14

Today’s edition of quick hits:
 
* Ukraine: “Two days after Ukraine’s interim government declared itself all but helpless to control events in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian military and police forces on Friday resumed their effort to retake this rebel-controlled city, forcing armed separatists from the city’s outskirts with armored vehicles, helicopters and ground troops.”
 
* Afghanistan: “Hundreds of people have been killed and more than 2,000 are missing after a landslide smashed into a village in a mountainous area of north Afghanistan on Friday, and rescue teams were struggling to reach the remote area.”
 
* Syria: “A bustling outdoor market area in Syria’s battleground city of Aleppo was turned into a mass of bloody rubble and body parts on Thursday by missiles and improvised barrel bombs that killed at least 33 people and wounded many others. Antigovernment activists described it as another deliberate attack on civilians by President Bashar al-Assad’s military aircraft.”
 
* South Sudan: “Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that he had secured a commitment from Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s president, to open talks with his former vice president, who is leading a rebellion against him. The negotiations could take place early next week. After meeting with Mr. Kiir, Mr. Kerry said the South Sudan leader had promised to take ‘forceful steps’ to carry out a cease-fire agreement that the two sides had negotiated in January but promptly ignored, and to begin a discussion on a transitional government.”
 
* An almost unimaginable tragedy, just two weeks away, was prevented: “A Minnesota teenager who admired the Columbine killers was charged Thursday with 10 attempted murder and explosives counts in a plot to shoot his family to death and then kill himself and ‘as many students as he could’ by blowing up a school, authorities said.”
 
* MERS: “U.S. health officials on Friday confirmed the first case of an American infected with a mysterious Middle East virus. The man fell ill after arriving in the U.S. about a week ago from Saudi Arabia where he is a health care worker.”
 
* Capital punishment: “President Barack Obama said the botched execution in Oklahoma had prompted him to investigate the implementation of the death penalty nationwide.”
 
* GM: “General Motors has begun preliminary talks to settle more than 300 claims of wrongful death or personal injury from accidents tied to the defective ignition switch that has led the company to recall more than 2.6 million small cars, a lawyer for the plaintiffs and a company spokesman confirmed on Friday.”
 
* North Korea: “NASA satellites have captured this image of fires burning across North Korea. The fires appeared more or less all at once across the Pennsylvania-sized country, from the de-militarized zone at the southern end to the snowy mountains in the north, suggesting that wildfires alone could not explain them.”
 
* Data management: “The White House, hoping to move the national debate over privacy beyond the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities to the practices of companies like Google and Facebook, released a long-anticipated report on Thursday that recommends developing government limits on how private companies make use of the torrent of information they gather from their customers online.”
 
* Maine’s governor finds himself out of the loop: “Gov. Paul LePage, commander in chief of the 2,100-person Maine Army National Guard, says he was unaware of a plan to reassign Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion to Pennsylvania in exchange for an infantry unit until details of the plan were published Wednesday in the Portland Press Herald.”
 
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.
 

Friday's Mini-Report, 5.2.14