10 things you need to know today: April 17, 2014

Ukrainian soldiers
(Image credit: (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka))

1. Separatists attack Ukraine base as Geneva crisis talks begin

Pro-Russia separatists attacked a military base in east Ukraine on Thursday as diplomats gathered in Geneva for crisis talks. Three separatists were killed in the clash, making it the deadliest yet in the 10-day uprising. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Kiev's attempt to crush the protests by force was pushing the country into an "abyss." The White House threatened Russia with fresh sanctions if it doesn't defuse tensions.


2. Hope fades in search survivors on sunken South Korean ferry

Hundreds of people were feared to have died aboard a ferry boat that sank within sight of land just off South Korea's southern coast. Nine people have been confirmed dead, but the toll is expected to rise sharply as crews continue to look for the nearly 300 passengers still missing a day after the vessel tipped over in cold water. Investigators are looking into reports by survivors that the crew told people to wait for rescuers instead of escaping.

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3. Canadian becomes the first arrested over the Heartbleed security bug

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 19-year-old Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes on Wednesday and accused him of hacking the Canadian Revenue Agency's website last Friday. Solis-Reyes is the first person arrested in connection with the Heartbleed security vulnerability in popular online encryption systems. One hacker wrote that the arrest should "draw attention to how big a deal this is."

The Toronto Star

4. Judge calls strict North Dakota abortion law unconstitutional

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that North Dakota's "fetal heartbeat law," which effectively banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, was unconstitutional. The law was considered the nation's most restrictive. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland wrote in his ruling that the Supreme Court "has unequivocally said no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability."

The Associated Press

5. Obama unveils $600 million job-training push

President Obama announced a plan to spend $600 million on competitive grants to train Americans for jobs that will pay well, and help the nation maintain an edge in the global economy. "Not all of today's good jobs require a four-year college degree," Obama said Wednesday. "But I promise you, there's not a job out there that's going to pay a lot if you don't have some specialized training."

The Associated Press

6. Local politician speaks up for anti-Semitic-murder suspect

The mayor of a town near the home of white supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross (aka Frazier Glenn Miller), who has been charged with killing three people at Kansas City Jewish community facilities, said Wednesday that he shared some of Miller's beliefs. "Kind of agreed with him on some things," said Marionville, Mo., Mayor Dan Clevenger, "but I don't like to express that too much." Miller has been charged with murder and anti-Semitic hate crimes.


7. Firetruck slams into California restaurant, injuring 15

Two firetrucks responding to an emergency collided at an intersection in a Los Angeles suburb, sending one of them crashing into a restaurant. Fifteen people, including six firefighters, were injured. Most suffered only minor injuries, but one person was sent to a hospital in critical condition. "There was a loud boom and a lot of shaking," said Wendy Wu, a waitress. "I thought it was an earthquake."

Fox News

8. Strong earnings push Alibaba's valuation to $168 billion

Alibaba's estimated valuation shot 9.8 percent higher this week after the Chinese e-commerce company reported record sales and earnings. Alibaba is preparing to make an initial public offering of stock later this year, and analysts polled by Bloomberg estimated its value at an average of $168 billion, up from $153 billion in February. Alibaba's unexpectedly strong earnings lifted shares of Yahoo, which holds a 24 percent stake in the company.

Bloomberg The Associated Press

9. Portland flushes water over possible contamination

The city of Portland, Oregon is dumping 38 million gallons of drinking water after a 19-year-old man was caught urinating in a reservoir. The 50-million-gallon reservoir was cut off following the incident, and results from tests looking for contamination are expected on Thursday. Still, the city plans to dump the reservoir and clean it. "That water goes directly into people's homes," David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau administrator, said.


10. Biden joins the selfie bandwagon

Vice President Joe Biden opened an Instagram account on Wednesday, and promptly earned 22,000 likes for an exclusive photo. Biden posted a selfie he took, with a smiling President Obama at his side, in the back of the president's armored limo. "Found a friend to join my first selfie on Instagram. Thanks for following and stay tuned.—VP"

The Telegraph

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Harold Maass

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 Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.