Headlines from around the world: 4/21/14

Intuit, the company responsible for making TurboTax, has been linked to a grassroots campaign against a long-standing proposal called Return Free to allow taxpayers the option to use prefilled tax returns from the IRS instead of having to fill out the forms or using a tax preparation service. Agents working for the public relations and lobbying firm JCI Worldwide have worked to convince community leaders to write op-eds that Return Free would be harmful to members of their respective communities. The lobbying firm listed Intuit as a client, until it had been contacted on the matter by independent newspaper ProPublica and has since called the listing a mistake.

New York has become the 11th state to join the pact to award its electoral college votes to whatever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote. The pact and accompanying movement aim to increase voter representation by removing undue emphasis on swing states and states with early primaries. As of New York’s entry into the interstate pact, the pact members have 165 electoral college votes. Should the pact have 270 votes, the presidential election will be effectively decided by popular vote.

Ukraine has submitted information to the European Union that aims to prove that the actions of paramilitary groups following Russia’s annexation of Crimea were funded and directed by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU) as well as caused by Russian special forces that were deployed in Ukrainian territory. The Ukrainian missive contains accounts of known GRU staff leading militant group attacks, the training of separatist groups in armed resistance, the identification of GRU agents who participated in the 2008 Georgian attacks being inside of Ukrainian borders, as well as separatists using equipment that is otherwise exclusively used by the Russian army in addition to the use of military tactics typical to the GRU.

Following the success of funding the Jamaican bobsledding team’s most recent Olympic trip, the community behind DogeCoin has now funded a NASCAR driver. 67,500,000 of the meme-based cryptocurrency ($55000) has been sent to Josh Wise so that he can compete in Talladega and possibly two other races depending on the results of an online poll. He will be racing as #98 and featuring a DogeCoin image in support of the community which he has ingrained himself in quickly through interviews with Dogecoin supporters online and has begun learning how to mine for Dogecoin.

An investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee has revealed internal documents which show that General Motors was fully aware of a defect with ignition switches in small cars that has led to a recall following thirteen deaths. Knowledge of the defect dates to 2001 despite a recall being issued earlier this year when engineers were attempting to pinpoint an issue in the switches that would cause the engine to stall and make the brake system, steering, and airbags fail. The committee now aims to discover how early executive became aware of the defect and whether or not the slow action could constitute criminal negligence on the part of General Motors.

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