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Foul Ball

MLB’s Next Giant Headache: Cuba

Ralph Freso/Reuters

The baseball world has been stunned by reports the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig was smuggled from his homeland by a drug cartel, and a Miami gangster allegedly now owns 20% of his astronomical contract.

Flashy, super-talented, and more than just a little mysterious, the latest wave of Cuban League refugees have become just about the hottest story on the big-league baseball scene in recent seasons. These high-profile “defectors” from Castro’s “evil empire” hold a special charm for so many flag-waving Americans if only because they have reportedly endured multiple hazards in their heroic struggle to find personal freedom and garner the untold riches offered by a showcase capitalist enterprise that doubles as America’s cherished national pastime.

Rock and Roll

Nicaragua Waits for ‘The Big One’

Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters

The ground shakes, volcanoes rumble, and the Sandinista political machine does all it can to convince people ‘The Big One’ is coming.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua—It’s been a week since a major quake hit Nicaragua—a week of many, many smaller quakes and shocks and tremors, and everybody wondering if “The Big One” is on its way.In the wider world, because the death toll was mercifully low—one person—few headlines attracted the public’s attention. But here it’s been a long seven days of people sleeping outdoors on sidewalks, in gardens, in hammocks, in cars, in fear that their houses would collapse and kill them.

Neverending Trial

Pistorius’s Star Witness Disaster

Alet Pretorius/Getty

On the case’s final day before a two-week break, the defense’s most recent witness was ripped apart by prosecutors, who seriously questioned his credibility.

Those working on the Oscar Pistorius murder case will get a well-deserved two-week respite from all things Oscar as the trial picks up again on May 5—and no one is more happy about the early adjournment than the defense’s most recent witness, Roger Dixon. (He wrote in a Facebook post that he was off for a beer as soon as his testimony was over.) The forensic geologist and former policeman, who was approached by the defense on the day of Pistorius’s bail hearing to help bolster the accused’s testimony, spent three days in the witness box, where he was all but devoured by the prosecution and ridiculed by the media.

LOCKED UP

Captive With a Canine For 9 Years

Mexico Interior Ministry

After nearly a decade of being confined to a dark garage with pets by her cult-worshipping foster parents, a young girl is set free.

While most girls her age were busy taking selfies and dabbling in virtual reality, 15-year-old “Maria,” whose real name can not be released because she is a minor, was fighting a monkey and a dog for scraps of food in a darkened garage in the Lugano district of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The teenager had been held captive for nine years despite the fact that everyone knew where she was living, and with whom. Apparently even in a super-connected world, it is still possible to be completely disconnected and forgotten.

Exclusive

‘All Jews Must Be Registered’

Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty

The grand rabbi of Donetsk talks to The Daily Beast about fliers ordering Jews to register or be deported from the pro-Russian “republic” proclaimed there.

DONETSK, Ukraine—It was the second day of Pesach celebrations on Tuesday and over 100 Jewish believers at the Donetsk synagogue had just finished praying. Several stayed to visit a bit longer; some shared a community meal, others just chatted with friends.  A few community members were smoking outside when a car pulled up, five men in masks got out, and handed them pieces of paper. Witnesses said that on reading the text of the leaflets a few elderly Jewish women burst into tears.

BRIGHT FUTURE

Afghanistan: A Vision Of Hope

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty

Afghanistan is creating a positive future for itself. Sixty per cent of those eligible to vote have done so in the country’s elections, and the Taliban’s influence is waning.

For an overwhelming majority of Americans, weary of the longest war in United States history—which has cost trillions in taxpayer dollars and exacted more than 2,300 deaths and 20,000 wounded among U.S. soldiers since Operation Enduring Freedom commenced on Oct. 7, 2001—Afghanistan is a lost cause. The latest National Intelligence Estimate, the considered analysis of all 16 of the U.S. government’s intelligence agencies, predicts that Afghanistan will eventually descend into chaos, that the central government in Kabul will be increasingly marginalized as the once-ousted Taliban gains power and influence, and that much of the social progress and security improvements will ultimately be reversed.

Dirty Details of Russia-Ukraine

After a fatal confrontation in eastern Ukraine, revelations from Vladimir Putin, and a surprise Edward Snowden appearance, The Daily Beast's Josh Rogin breaks down the crisis on MSNBC.

MUTINOUS

The Ukrainian Army Is Crumbling

Marko Djurica/Reuters

A deadly Ukrainian operation to protect a base in the Black Sea port of Mariupol is a rare example of some backbone shown by a disorganized military that doesn’t want to fight.

KIEV, UKRAINE— An overnight attack by pro-Russian separatists on a National Guard base in the southern port of Mariupol has raised a frightening specter in Ukraine. The struggling government now fears that militants instructed by Moscow will increase progressively the level of violence in the country’s restive eastern region testing the loyalty and resolve of Ukraine’s military and security agencies to breaking point.The assault by 300 militants, who repeatedly attacked the military base, prompted guardsmen to open fire, killing three attackers and wounding 13 others, according to Arsen Avakov, the interior minister.

Lies

Putin Sounds Like Obama on Spying

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The Russian president uses similar logic and words that the American president does when justifying mass surveillance.

“We don’t have a domestic spying program.”Who said it, Vladimir Putin or Barack Obama?Obama did, of course, but you could be forgiven for thinking it was Putin. On Thursday, Putin told his guest Edward Snowden that Russia does not spy on all its citizens—only individuals after a court order.Putin: “Russia uses surveillance techniques for spying on individuals only with the sanction of a court order. This is our law, and therefore there is no mass surveillance in our country.

River Pirates

Chinese Drones Target Drug Kingpin

China Daily/Reuters

How China used drones to track and capture the notorious kingpin of the Mekong delta.

The Chinese called him Godfather. He was a Burmese national—resistance fighter, drug smuggler, kidnapper, warlord. At his height of power, Naw Kham accumulated $63 million and commanded over 400 militia members in the Golden Triangle, a hotbed for opium production in Southeast Asia. He was pursued by law-enforcement officials from Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and China. After a lengthy manhunt that flirted with becoming a shadow war, the Chinese employed a technology that they have been quietly perfecting: unmanned aerial vehicles.

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