Reports of rape in the military shot up by 50 percent last year, according to a Pentagon study released Thursday. Administration officials said the increase showed that victims have felt more comfortable coming forward since the start of a push to address the problem. Critics said there was no way to know whether the positive spin was justified, because the study did not include an estimate of how many rapes went unreported.
Military rape reports skyrocket
Ukraine launches assault on rebel-held city
Fighting intensified in Ukraine on Friday, as government forces launched a large-scale offensive to regain control of the city of Slovyansk from pro-Russia separatists. The military overran roadblocks surrounding the city but forced stiff resistance. Rebels shot down at least two military helicopters. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said the assault "effectively destroyed the last hope" for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis.
NAACP leader resigns over awards to Clippers owner Donald Sterling
The president of the Los Angeles NAACP, Leon Jenkins, resigned Thursday under criticism for his plan to give disgraced Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling an award for promoting civil rights. The L.A. NAACP also gave Sterling an award in 2009, the year he paid $2.73 million to settle complaints he had refused to rent apartments to Latinos and blacks. The NBA this week banned Sterling for life because of racist remarks attributed to him.
Fifty-five colleges face federal rape investigations
Federal officials are investigating 55 colleges for their handling of campus rapes, the Education Department announced Thursday. The list included schools in 27 states and the District of Columbia. Education Department officials said the list was made public to encourage transparency about the issue of sexual assaults on campus and to "foster better public awareness of civil rights."
Parents call for the Nigerian government to save kidnapped schoolgirls
Hundreds of Nigerians demonstrated Thursday to demand that their government do more to free more than 200 high-school girls abducted by Islamist militants more than two weeks ago. Some of the girls have reportedly been forced to marry their captors, members of Boko Haram. The insurgents have also been blamed for recent bomb attacks, including one that killed at least 15 people Friday in a neighborhood near Nigeria's presidential palace.
Oklahoma prisons director urges a suspension of executions in the state
The director of Oklahoma's prisons on Thursday called for the suspension of all executions in the state until a review of its capital punishment policies. The move came as Oklahoma faced intense scrutiny and criticism over this week's botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who died of a heart attack after a vein burst as he was administered the first part of an experimental three-drug lethal injection.
Forecasters expect an uptick in the April jobs report
Economists expect the Labor Department's April employment report on Friday to show a rise in the number of jobs added to U.S. payrolls. The average forecast in a survey by Action Economics put the month's job gains at 210,000, up from an average monthly gain of 176,000 in the first three months of the year. Economists also predicted the report would show a decline in the unemployment rate to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in March.
Florida House approves medical marijuana bill
The Florida House of Representatives surprised skeptics on Thursday and voted 111-7 to approve a bill seeking to legalize medical marijuana. The Senate is expected to pass the measure on Friday and send it to Gov. Rick Scott (R), who surprised supporters by saying he would sign it. The bill lists specific conditions that would be eligible for treatment with marijuana, including epileptic seizures and Lou Gehrig's disease.
De Blasio proposes transforming old phone booths into internet hotspots
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the city was looking for a way to turn old pay phone booths into free Wi-Fi hotspots. His predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, tried a similar pilot project, but it fizzled. The contracts of three companies that control 84 percent of the city's phone kiosks expire next year. "For years, the question was, 'What to do with pay phones?'" de Blasio said, "and now we have an answer."
Universities attempt to ban the graduation selfie
This graduation season, two universities are trying to thwart the nation's selfie craze. The University of South Florida and Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, have told students not to take self-portraits with their smartphones while collecting their diplomas. Students, however, said the order might backfire. "It put the idea in my head," said USF student Anthony Sanchez. "I wouldn't have thought of it until they said don't do it."