RSS
10 things you need to know today: May 31, 2013
Investigators interview a person of interest about the ricin letters, eurozone unemployment hits another record high, and more
People line up outside a job center in 2011 in Madrid, Spain, which has a jobless rate of 26.8 percent.
People line up outside a job center in 2011 in Madrid, Spain, which has a jobless rate of 26.8 percent. Denis Doyle/Getty Images

1. AUTHORITIES INTERVIEW PERSON OF INTEREST IN RICIN CASE
Investigators have identified a person of interest in connection with letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg that tested positive for the poison ricin. CBS News reported that the person had been questioned in Texarkana, Texas. Authorities also searched a Texas home. The letters — along with a third sent to a group advocating stricter gun laws and financed by Bloomberg — were postmarked in Louisiana, and contained anti-gun-control threats. [CBS News]
………………………………………………………………………………

2. DRUG CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST U.S. MOM IN MEXICO
An Arizona mom, Yanira Maldonado, was released from a Mexican jail late Thursday after a court dismissed charges that she had tried to smuggle 12 pounds of marijuana out of the country on a bus. Authorities at a military checkpoint said they found the pot under her seat. Her husband said the drugs were planted by someone seeking a bribe. The charges were dropped after court officials saw security footage showing Maldonado, 42, boarding the bus carrying just a purse and two bottles of water. [ABC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

3. MICHIGAN WOMAN REPORTEDLY KILLED IN SYRIA FIGHTING
A 33-year-old Michigan woman, Nicole Lynn Mansfield, has been killed fighting for opposition forces in Syria, according to her family. A cousin said the FBI confirmed Mansfield's death Thursday. A pro-government Syrian news agency said Syrian forces had killed three Westerners, including Mansfield and a British man, who had guns and the flag of an al Qaeda-linked rebel faction in their car. Mansfield's grandmother said she "had a heart of gold" and "could have been brainwashed." [CNN, Detroit Free Press]
………………………………………………………………………………

4. OFFICIALS SAY MAN TIED TO BOSTON SUSPECT ATTACKED AGENT
Law enforcement officials released new information on the killing of Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, after the man's Chechen father claimed Thursday that an FBI agent shot his son "execution-style." A high-ranking official said Todashev, under questioning in his Orlando apartment, knocked the agent to the floor after implicating himself and the late Tsarnaev in a 2011 triple murder, then charged the agent with a metal pole before being shot. [New York Times]
………………………………………………………………………………

5. EUROZONE JOBLESS RATE HITS ANOTHER RECORD HIGH
The eurozone's unemployment rate climbed to another in a string of record highs in April, rising to 12.2 percent from 12.1 percent in March. Nearly 100,000 more people lost work in the month, bringing the total to 19.4 million jobless people in the 17 nations that use the European common currency. The region's economic powerhouse, Germany, had the lowest rate, 5.4 percent. Greece had the highest, 27 percent. Across the eurozone, 24 percent of those age 25 or younger are unemployed. [BBC News]
………………………………………………………………………………

6. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES LAYS OFF ITS ENTIRE PHOTO DEPARTMENT
The Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire staff of photographers on Thursday, telling the 28 full-timers that from now on it would be using only photos and videos by freelancers. The company also reportedly plans to supplement the freelancers' work by requiring reporters to shoot photos and video. The newspaper issued a statement saying the move was part of an effort to meet its online and mobile audience's demands for more video and multimedia offerings. [Chicago Tribune]
………………………………………………………………………………

7. MYANMAR STRIKES PEACE DEAL WITH KACHIN REBELS
The government of Myanmar, also known as Burma, reached a tentative cease-fire agreement with ethnic Kachin rebels on Thursday. The deal calls for an end to the fighting and further talks on Kachin demands for more autonomy and political rights. The two sides also agreed to start working on resettling the 100,000 people displaced in two years of fighting. The Kachin were the last major ethnic group that hadn't signed a peace deal since President Thein Sein's reformist government took power in 2011. [Voice of America]
………………………………………………………………………………

8. JAPAN HALTS U.S. WHEAT IMPORTS OVER ALTERED MONSANTO GRAIN
Japan, the biggest buyer of American wheat, suspended imports of U.S. wheat on Thursday after a genetically modified wheat developed by Monsanto — but never approved for commercial use — was discovered in a field in Oregon. The strain was developed to make the grain resistant to Monsanto's own weed killer, Roundup. The European Union asked Monsanto, which is facing mounting protests over its genetically modified products, to help keep out the altered wheat. [Washington Post]
………………………………………………………………………………

9. NEW YORK EIGHTH GRADER ENDS CURSE TO WIN NATIONAL SPELLING BEE
The "German curse" has been lifted for Arvind Mahankali, 13. The New York eighth-grader was knocked out of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the clinching moments two years in a row when he misspelled words with German roots, taking third place both times. But on Thursday he nailed the word "knaidel," a German-derived Yiddish word for a kind of dumpling, to win the bee and take home $32,500 in cash and savings bonds, a trophy, and a library of reference materials. [CNN]
………………………………………………………………………………

10. MARIAH CAREY AND NICKI MINAJ LEAVE IDOL
Dueling pop divas Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj announced Thursday that they were leaving American Idol. Their departures continue an exodus of the struggling musical competition's judges that began when Randy Jackson, the last remaining member of the TV show's original panel, announced he would not return next season. Minaj, who joined the show last fall with Carey and Keith Urban, tweeted that her season on Idol was a life-changing experience, but it was "time to focus on the music." [USA Today]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week