Putin Seeks Diplomacy as a Solution to the Crisis in Ukraine: On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin reached out to President Obama in the hopes of reopening diplomatic talks about the situation in the Ukraine. The United States and Europe placed sanctions on Russia after the annexation of Crimea, and the United States is concerned that Russia will try to seize more territory in the Ukraine. The presidential race in the Ukraine has also shifted, with presidential candidate Vitali V. Klitschko, a leader in the anti-government protests, announcing his support for competitor Petro Poroshenko. Klitschko expressed his desire to have unified support behind a single pro-Western leader. Elections will take place in May, and the country remains divided between pro-Western and pro-Russian factions.
18 Declared Dead in Washington Landslide: The Oso, Washington authorities announced on Saturday that 18 people have officially been declared dead in a landslide that occurred the previous Saturday. An additional unidentified body was not included in this total. There are still 30 people missing as of Saturday, a sharp decline from the 90 people that were missing on Friday. In the wake of the deadly slide, some have questioned if Oso was properly advertised as a high-risk area for landslides.
UConn Beats Michigan State to Advance to the Final Four: Number 7 seed UConn beat 4th seed Michigan State 60-54 this Sunday in the East Regional Final at Madison Square Garden. UConn Point Guard Shabazz Napier made 3 key free throws with 37.6 seconds left to win the game. UConn returned to the NCAA tournament after a ban due to the poor academic performance of their athletes. UConn is the first number 7 seed to make it to the Final Four since 1985, when the tournament was expanded to 64 teams.
Port Authority Chair Resigns over Bridge Scandal: Governor Chris Christie announced the resignation of David Samson, the Port Authority Chair of New Jersey and New York, this Friday. Samson resigned because of the George Washington Bridge scandal, which some have alleged was because of political rather than practical reasons. Samson is the highest authority to step down over the scandal, which many believe was part of Governor Christie’s political retribution against a political figure who refused to endorse him. Samson apparently refused to cooperate with an internal investigation over the incident, and has since been under attack for involving politics in his work. Christie is impatient to move beyond the scandal and to continue to improve his public image.
Obama’s NSA Proposal Increasingly Popular: President Obama’s proposal to limit the NSA’s monitoring of phone calls has drawn broad support. Obama proposed limiting NSA monitoring while still maintaining data for telecommunications companies. The NSA began collecting call information after the September 11 attacks. Obama proposed allowing the NSA to obtain phone records by requesting information from phone companies, but requiring court approval to do so. The House Intelligence Committee currently has bipartisan legislation in the works that will allow the NSA to obtain records and then seek court approval after the fact. Obama also proposed limiting the NSA’s time for holding records to 18 months, as currently the NSA keeps records for 5 years. Other figures have raised concerns over employees of phone companies, rather than vetted government officials, having the ability to access phone records.