"F--- the E.U": Washington Post: "When diplomats are overheard being undiplomatic, the result can be awkward. Such was the case on Thursday, with the leaking of audio from a phone call in which the top American diplomat for Europe can be heard discussing the political crisis in Ukraine. In the recording, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland makes a profane assessment of the European Union’s efforts to resolve the crisis and bluntly assesses the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures. 'F--- the E.U.,' Nuland says, dismissively referring to slow-moving diplomatic efforts to address political paralysis and a looming fiscal crisis in the country. ... It’s unclear who posted the recording, which surfaced on YouTube on Thursday....The release of the audio followed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s offer to include two senior members of the opposition movement in his government. "
The Prime Suspect: Associated Press: "U.S. officials say they suspect Russia is behind the leak .... The officials noted that an aide to Russian deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, was among the first to tweet about a YouTube video that contains audio of the alleged call between the top US diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. ... In the tweet, posted some seven hours before existence of the video became widely known on Thursday, the Rogozin aide, Dmitry Loskutov, opined: 'Sort of controversial judgment from Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland speaking about the EU.' White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed to the tweet and Russia's clear interest in what has become a struggle between pro-Moscow and pro-Western camps in the former Soviet Republic, but declined to comment on the source of the audio."
The Cold Open: Associated Press: "They're designed to celebrate a millennium of Russian might and this country's modern rebound, and kick off two weeks of extraordinary human endeavors and planetary sportsmanship. But the ceremony opening the Sochi Olympics on Friday, more than anything, will be about one man: Vladimir Putin. ... Ballet, man-made snow and avant-garde art will make an appearance at Sochi's opening ceremonies, though as with all past opening ceremonies, the details are under wraps. ... All Putin needs is an event that tells the world 'Russia is back.' ... Russians will form the bulk of the spectators in Sochi for the Olympics, a people whose forebears endured centuries of oppression, a revolution that changed the world, a Soviet experiment that built rockets and nuclear missiles but struggled to feed its people. Russians who sometimes embrace Putin's heavy hand because they fear uncertainty more than they crave freedom, and who, despite inhabiting the largest country in the world, feel insecure about their place in it. ... The world will be watching the entire Olympic machine in Sochi, and using what it sees to sit in judgment of Putin's Russia, where he has suffocated political opposition and ruled overtly or covertly for 15 years."
Famous Composer Was a Hoax: New York Times: "On Thursday, Japan learned that one of its most popular musical figures, Mamoru Samuragochi, 50, had staged an elaborate hoax in which someone else had secretly written his most famous compositions, and he had perhaps even faked his hearing disability. Across a nation long captivated by Western classical music, people reacted with remorse, outrage and even the rare threat of a lawsuit after Mr. Samuragochi’s revelations that he had hired a ghostwriter since the 1990s to compose most of his music. The anger turned to disbelief when the ghostwriter himself came forward to accuse Mr. Samuragochi of faking his deafness, apparently to win public sympathy and shape the Beethoven persona. The scandal began on Wednesday, when Mr. Samuragochi publicly confessed that someone else had written his most famous works. ... The reason for this sudden repentance became clear on Thursday when the ghostwriter revealed himself to be Takashi Niigaki, 43, a hitherto largely unknown part-time lecturer at a prestigious music college in Tokyo. Mr. Niigaki said he had written more than 20 songs for Mr. Samuragochi since 1996, for which he received the equivalent of about $70,000."
Freedom to Flash (Your Headlights): USA Today: "It's a common practice among drivers who pass through a speed trap: Flash your headlights at approaching cars as a warning to slow down. Now, a federal court judge in Missouri says penalizing drivers for the headlight flash violates their First Amendment right to free speech. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Autrey in St. Louis on Monday issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the St. Louis County town of Ellisville from citing and prosecuting drivers who flash their lights to warn of radar and speed traps. Ellisville's city attorney said there are no plans to appeal. The order stems from a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri on behalf of Michael Elli. On Nov. 17, 2012, Elli flashed his headlights to warn oncoming vehicles of a radar set up by Ellisville police."
Lunch Gone Wrong: KNTV-TV: "Administrators at a Northern California private school are facing tough questions and offering a big apology after a menu controversy. Students at Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord wanted to come up with ways to celebrate Black History Month in a lunchtime celebration. But when the Christian school announced a lunch of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon, students and parents were outraged and offended. The principal and dean of the school refused to talk to NBC Bay Area on Wednesday, but school officials held an assembly on campus to discuss the issue and sent an apology letter to parents. 'I'd like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members,' Principal Nancy Libby said in the letter. 'Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes.'"
That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.
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