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Crisis in Ukraine

The Fear Beyond the Barricades

Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters

The people of Donetsk are clinging to normality, trying to enjoy the spring, but their anger, disillusionment and fear runs deep.

DONETSK, Ukraine—Stroll along an allée of forsythia bushes in bright yellow bloom, take a look at groups of moms with strollers chatting on the veranda of Barberry restaurant, and you would hardly believe that around the corner hundreds of protestors gathered around rusty barricades with Russian flags and “USA Go Home!” signs were ready, they said, to die in a police onslaught.  Spring is taking hold in Donetsk, the capital of Ukraine’s mining region, and, exhausted by living on the verge of what some here think will by a much wider, bloodier confrontation, the city longs for normality.

Spooking Russia

U.S. to Putin: This Could Get Ugly

Itar Tass/Reuters

If Russia’s really thinking about invading Ukraine, it should think about the cost of fighting a prolonged guerrilla war there.

The White House and CIA Director John Brennan knew full well that his “secret” visit to Kiev on Sunday would be “leaked.” That was the point. Foremost, the trip was conceived as a message to Putin—that he should start contemplating the unhappy possibility that a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine might well face a guerrilla war like the nightmarish one that drained Soviet forces in Afghanistan decades ago.But the underlying turn of the screw is that Brennan’s visit might not be ALL message.

Behind the Scenes

Inside CIA Chief’s Mission to Kiev

The Daily Beast

The head of the CIA just made a secretive journey to Ukraine—to do what, he won’t say. But the answer could change the power equation in the hottest of geopolitical hotspots.

The Obama administration is now considering a new policy to share more real-time intelligence with the interim government in Kiev after pressure from some in the U.S. military, Congress and U.S. allies in Ukraine.Over the weekend, CIA Director John Brennan met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema to discuss the formation of new, more secure channels for sharing U.S. intelligence with the country now fighting pro-Russian secessionists in its eastern cities, according to U.

South Africa

Reeva’s Tragic Valentine

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

In court today, Oscar Pistorius read aloud a whimsical card that his girlfriend intended to give him on the night he shot and killed her.

“I think today is a good day to tell you that I love you,” Reeva Steenkamp wrote to Oscar Pistorius in the Valentine’s Day card she intended to give the Paralympic gold medalist on the night he shot her through his bathroom door, allegedly believing her to be an intruder.They had been dating only three or four months at the time of the shooting, and it was the first mention of the word “love” for either of them. Pistorius has since told the court that he considered Steenkamp to be the “love of his life,” that he was “besotted” with her, and that he had planned to buy a house for them, despite telling a South African newspaper one month before the shooting that he was  “not ready for anything serious.

Putin's Long Arm

Ukraine Cops in Moscow's Pocket?

Anatoliy Stepanov/AFP/Getty

As the showdown looms between Kiev’s armed forces and the gunmen holding buildings in eastern Ukraine, the local police are caught in the middle—and leaning toward Moscow.

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine -- As you journey through eastern Ukraine, the region’s descent into widespread lawlessness becomes more apparent by the day. Who represents authority? Who represents order? These are critical questions on which the fate of a nation now hangs. One after another, government buildings in as many as a dozen cities and towns have fallen to professionally trained soldiers and their Russian-speaking followers calling for referendums, independence and annexation by Moscow.

In Vitro Tourism

Italy’s Baby-Making Troubles

Tony Gentile/Reuters

Ever-changing laws leave Italian couples mystified as the Catholic Church does battle with the fertility doctors.

On December 4 last year, four couples checked into the Sandro Pertini hospital in Rome for in vitro fertilization. Under Italy’s strict reproductive laws, which ban donations, they were implanted with embryos grown in a laboratory from eggs and sperm harvested from each couple the week before.Two of the prospective parents, both psychologists in their 40s, were in for the shock of their lives. Tests after the procedure showed they were expecting twins—but the babies were not their children.


To Russia, With Love

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Despite the bad blood of recent months, Washington and Moscow have cut deals that are worth billions of dollars and are invaluable to world peace.

Day 22

How Pistorius Became a ‘Liar’

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

His laser-like focus once brought him medals, but on Day 22 of the South African’s murder trial, it was clearly undermining his case—and highlighting his testimony’s inconsistencies.

True to state prosecutor Gerrie Nel’s warning to Oscar Pistorius last week, it appears Nel isn’t going away anytime soon.Known in South African legal circles as the Bulldog—or Bull Terrier, or Pitbull, depending on your source—Nel has grilled the accused Paralympian mercilessly for six days now at the Pretoria High Court, to the point where some citizens have approached the South African Human Rights Commission with complaints that Nel’s questioning has bordered on psychological torment.

Collector’s Items

Inside China’s ‘Mistress Villages’


For Chinese men there’s no status symbol like a mistress, or two, or three, or four

A friend attended a work-related banquet in China recently.  Seated at the same table were several men who were executives of Chinese state-owned enterprises.  As bottles of Hennessy Cognac and jet-fuel-like baijiu were opened and quickly consumed, the topic of conversation awkwardly jostled from work to geopolitics to the price of Apple’s latest iPhone. One executive, his face glowing red from the night’s imbibitions, said he needed to buy one because his mistress demanded it.

What Now?

MH370’s Black Box Isn’t Everything

Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty

Malaysian authorities have so botched their efforts that the search under the sea looks clear by comparison.

Search underwater is much clearer than the one in Malaysia.How many clues to the fate of Flight MH370 can be found without physical evidence, either from wreckage or from the flight data recorders? In trying to answer this it is important to make a distinction between the vast international sea search being directed from Australia and the investigation that remains in the hands of the Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur.In both cases a lot is happening that cannot be directly observed and reported.


Crisis in Ukraine




For Sale: The Scariest Island Ever

For Sale: The Scariest Island Ever

One Venetian island is the stuff of campfire ghost stories—piles of dead bodies burned, hauntings by plague victims, and a home for the insane. And now, for a price, it can be yours.

Legal Authority

Go It Alone, Obama, for Democracy

Fashion Cheat Sheet

The Duchess's DVF Dress Sells Out

Far Out

The Search for Another Earth


An Edward Hopper Novel?