Of course we’ll help. Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a Security Council meeting today he would try to use his influence with pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine to help investigate the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. “Everything that is in our power we, of course, will do,” Putin said. “Russia will do everything that depends on it to ensure a full, comprehensive, in-depth and transparent investigation.”But on Monday, Russia made it clear it has no intention of accepting any responsibility for the crash, despite Western leaders’accusations. According to the latest Russian version of events, a Ukrainian fighter jet or missile system could have been responsible for bringing down the plane, killing all 298 people aboard. The more Russia dodges blame, the angrier Western nations get. This morning, the European Union announced new sanctions on Russian officials, though it stopped short of deep economic sanctions that could hurt its member nations just as much as Russia. Meanwhile, the rebels finally turned over the plane’s black boxes to Malaysian officials, who say they appear to be in good condition.
Refer and deter? Texas Gov. Rick Perry is sending 1,000 National Guard troops to the state’s border with Mexico in a show of force meant to discourage illegal activity. The troops will not interfere with Border Patrol operations or apprehend anyone suspected of crossing the border illegally. Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said his troops would simply be “referring and deterring” immigrants, whom he expects will approach the soldiers and ask to be taken to Border Patrol stations. The operation will cost Texas $12 million a month, but Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s running for governor, plans to ask the federal government to help foot the bill.
Cuts approved. Pensioners in Detroit voted overwhelmingly to accept lower benefit payments as part of the city’s bankruptcy plan. The pension cuts will help reduce Detroit’s debt by $7 billion. The plan, which still must be approved by a judge, will leave pension checks for retired police and firefighters intact, only cutting their annual increases. Civilian workers will take a 4.5 percent monthly cut and lose annual cost-of-living increases. The average pension for Detroit's police and fire retirees, who don't get Social Security benefits, amounts to $32,000 a year. The average for most other workers is around $19,000.
More death in Chibok. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan met today with some of the parents of schoolgirls kidnapped 100 days ago by Islamic militants. It was the first such meeting since the girls’abduction and came after Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai visited Jonathan last week and urged him to see the grieving parents. News of the meeting came amid reports of more death in Chibok, the girls’hometown. A healthcare worker told reporters seven fathers of kidnapped girls were among the 51 bodies brought to the local hospital after an attack on the nearby village of Kautakari. At least four other parents died of health complications villagers blame on grief and shock. "One father of two of the girls kidnapped just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters until life left him," said Pogo Bitrus, a community leader.
Birthday boy. England is celebrating the first birthday of its future king. Prince George of Cambridge was born one year ago today to much celebration on both sides of the pond. He’s been charming his future subjects ever since. The latest photos of the adorable prince show him visiting a butterfly exhibit with his parents in London.