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10 things you need to know today: May 26, 2014

Harold Maass
Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko has pledged to calm the separatist violence in the east. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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European ally Poroshenko wins Ukrainian election

Pro-European candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko, known as The Chocolate King, claimed victory in Ukraine's special presidential election on Sunday. Exit polls showed him far ahead of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, suggesting he would win the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Poroshenko said Monday he would negotiate with pro-Russian separatists to end months of conflict. Moscow, which has boosted the rebels, said it was ready for talks. [The New York Times, Reuters]


Obama drops in to say thanks to soldiers in Afghanistan

President Obama made a surprise visit to American troops in Afghanistan on Sunday. Obama used the Memorial Day weekend visit to express his gratitude for the "extraordinary service" of U.S. soldiers around the world. The visit came as the U.S. prepares to withdraw almost all of its remaining 32,800 service members and the nation's longest war nears an end. A residual force of up to 10,000 will stay behind to train and support Afghan forces. [USA Today]


Mourners remember young people killed in California rampage

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at a California church for a memorial service to mourn six young people killed near the University of California at Santa Barbara, by a bitter loner, Elliot Rodger, who wanted revenge against girls who had rejected him. Three of the dead were stabbed, the other three were shot before Rodger, 22, killed himself. The father of Christopher Martinez, who was shot dead at a convenience store, blamed the NRA, energizing gun-control advocates. [Reuters, CNN]


EU critics gain strength in European Parliament elections

European voters rejected mainstream parties in parliamentary elections on Sunday. Formerly fringe parties staunchly opposed to the European Union appeared likely to win twice as many seats in the 751-member European Parliament than in the last election, in 2009, although centrists will maintain a majority. Voters clearly want to "take back the reins of their destiny," said Marine Le Pen, leader France's far-right National Front. [The Washington Post]


Hunter-Reay takes the Indianapolis 500

Ryan Hunter-Reay held off Helio Castroneves to win Sunday's Indianapolis 500, becoming the first American to win the storied race since 2006. "To have a shot at winning the greatest race in the world, that dream has come true today," Hunter-Reay said. "I'm a proud American boy, that's for sure." Auto-racing great and defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson won another major race, the Coca-Cola 600, on Sunday night. [CBS Sports, The Associated Press]


White House mistakenly identifies top CIA official in Kabul

The White House inadvertently blew the cover of the Central Intelligence Agency's top officer in Kabul over the weekend. It included the person on a list given to reporters on officials attending President Obama's surprise visit to U.S. troops, The Washington Post reports. The person was described as "Chief of Station," a designation for the CIA's ranking officer in a country. The White House quickly released a new list omitting the name. [The Washington Post]


Thai king to endorse junta

Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej reportedly plans to endorse Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha's coup. The move would help the army chief strengthen his grip on the politically divided nation, giving his new government legitimacy and allowing it to establish an interim constitution. Prayuth has promised to enact political reforms and restore democracy, although he has not released a timetable for elections. [The Guardian]


Memorial Day ceremonies honor fallen soldiers

Americans are marking Memorial Day on Monday with somber ceremonies to honor men and women who have died while serving in the armed forces. "They made the sacrifice so everyday citizens don't have to worry about the evils of the world," Petty Officer 1st Class Brian McNeal said in New York. President Obama, returning from a surprise visit to troops in Afghanistan, will visit the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Ceremony. [The Associated Press]


Egyptian presidential election begins

Egyptians go to the polls on Monday to begin a two-day presidential election. Security was tight ahead of the vote, which is expected to be won by former defense minister and army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood urged people to boycott in a show of support for the last elected president, Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist ousted last year by the military. [Voice of America]


Dodgers' Beckett pitches a no-hitter against the Phillies

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett, 34, threw the first no-hitter of his 14-year career on Sunday, helping his team beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-0. It was also the first no-hitter of the season. Beckett no longer has the blazing fastball he had in younger days; he shut out Phillies hitters with a mix of breaking pitches. "It's something you certainly think about during your career," Beckett said, "but very few people have been able to do it." [Los Angeles Times]

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