Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 22, 2014

Harold Maass
Thai soldiers block access to the Army Club in Bangkok.  (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
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Thai army announces coup

Thailand's army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha, announced Thursday that the military had seized power from a caretaker government after two days of talks between supporters of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the opposition failed to produce a compromise. It was the army's 12th coup in 80 years. [The New York Times, Voice of America]


Democrats pick representatives for Benghazi committee

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday appointed a slate of influential Democrats to the new special committee investigating the 2012 attack on U.S. diplomatic buildings in Benghazi, which left Libya ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead. The move was interpreted as an attempt to prevent Republican grandstanding. GOP committee chair Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) has promised the investigation won't be "theatrical." [The New York Times]


Pennsylvania declines to appeal ruling against its gay marriage ban

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) announced Wednesday that his administration would not appeal a judge's ruling overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones declared that a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman was unconstitutional. State Attorney General Kathleen Kane said she wouldn't defend the ban because of what she called "the unconstitutionality of this law." [CNN]


Obama promises accountability for scandal at Veterans Administration

President Obama on Wednesday defended his policies toward veterans and vowed swift punishment for anyone found responsible for the scandal at Veterans Administration medical facilities. He said an investigation into allegations of the falsification of records to cover up lengthy, even fatal, wait times for care would be completed by next month. Obama said a decade of wars taxed VA hospitals, but that, "if there is misconduct it will be punished." [The Washington Post]


Blasts in China market kill 31

Attackers in two cars crashed into a market in China's volatile Xinjiang region and threw explosives into a crowd of shoppers, killing 31 people and wounding more than 90, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Thursday. The attack in the regional capital of Urumqi was the deadliest yet in a series of such attacks since last year. Tensions are high in the region between Han Chinese and Muslim Uighur separatists. [Bloomberg News]


U.S. sends troops to look for kidnapped Nigerian girls

The U.S. has sent 80 military personnel to Chad in support of the effort to find 270 Nigerian high-school girls abducted in April by members of the Boko Haram Islamist extremist group, President Obama said Wednesday. The team will help gather intelligence as part of an effort already involving American surveillance aircraft. The girls were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria near the border. [Reuters]


Woman tells police she was raped and held captive for 10 years

A California woman told police she had been kidnapped and raped at age 15 by a man who held her captive for 10 years, police said Wednesday. The woman said the man forced her to marry him, and have his child. Police have arrested but not charged the suspect, Isidro Garcia. Garcia was dating the victim's mother in 2004 when he allegedly took her to another house, locked her in the garage, and used physical and emotional abuse to keep her from escaping. [USA Today]


Protesters demanding higher wages are arrested at McDonald's headquarters

Police arrested 139 protesters demanding higher wages for fast-food workers on Wednesday outside the world headquarters of McDonald's in Oak Brook, Illinois. Uniformed McDonald's employees from 33 cities were among those arrested for trespassing. The demonstrations, organized by Fast Food Forward, will continue during the company's annual meeting Thursday. Fast Food Forward is demanding $15-per-hour pay and the right to unionize. [USA Today]


Hackers get hold of 145 million EBay user records

EBay announced Wednesday that hackers had accessed 145 million user records three months ago in what appeared to be one of the largest data breaches ever. EBay urged users to change their passwords immediately. The data stolen by the hackers included passwords, although EBay spokeswoman Amanda Miller said the passwords were encrypted and she doubted the thieves had been able to unscramble them, because that "would not be easy to do." [Reuters]


Iranians arrested for dancing in "Happy" video are freed

Six young Iranian men and women were freed Wednesday after being arrested for posting a video of themselves dancing to the Pharrell Williams hit "Happy." Similar videos have appeared online in 140 countries, but Iran's ruling clerics staunchly oppose Western influences. Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia said the clip "hurt public chastity" while Williams said it was "beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness." [The Christian Science Monitor, CNN]

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