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Crisis in Ukraine

Putin’s Ukraine Crew Won’t Give In

Reuters

Diplomats reached an agreement in Geneva to defuse the Ukraine crisis, but the people at the heart of it aren’t listening.

DONETSK, Ukraine—A dozen men in motley apparel gathered in a quiet office on the fifth floor of what used to be a state administration building in eastern Ukraine, but is now called the headquarters of the “Independent Donetsk People’s Republic.” Some of the men wore uniforms, others wore track suits, some wore balaclava masks. Their apparent leader, sitting behind the desk, was a round-faced 33-year-old Muscovite who called himself  Mikhail Verin, or Misha, holding forth to the small crowd about how he found his Russian nationalist inspiration and why, no matter what deals diplomats might hammer out in Geneva, he would not be giving up or giving in.

The Lives of Others

Sorry, Snowden: Putin Lied to You

RIA Novosti/Reuters

In a bizarre televised appearance the NSA whistleblower now resident in Russia asked Putin if he spied on his own citizens the way the Americans do on theirs. Putin, predictably, said no.

This story has been updated to reflect comments from Edward Snowden's American lawyer and Snowden's op-ed published on Friday. Vladimir Putin just trolled President Barack Obama and the entire U.S. intelligence community. He trolled them hard. On live Russian television Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who exposed America’s dragnet surveillance of call records and internet traffic, asked the Russian leader whether Moscow does the same: “Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?”Not to worry, Putin tells America’s most famous intelligence leaker: “We don’t have a mass system for such interception and according to our law it cannot exist.

Watch This!

Portrait of a Roman Crackdown

Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

A shocking picture from police-protestor clashes.

Last weekend, demonstrators took to the streets of Italy's capital to protest against government-imposed austerity measures. In this episode of 'Darkroom,' we dive into a stark picture of the ensuing violence.

Russian Spy Planes in U.S. Skies

Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Russian surveillance planes already fly over America, thanks to a long-standing treaty. But a new, ultra-sophisticated spy plane has U.S. military and intelligence bosses spooked.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. military and American intelligence agencies have quietly pushed the White House in recent weeks to deny a new Russian surveillance plane the right to fly over U.S. territory. This week, the White House finally began consideration of the decision whether to certify the new Russian aircraft under the so-called “Open Skies Treaty.” And now the question becomes: Will the spies and generals get their way?As the United States and Russia face off publicly over Ukraine, behind the scenes, President Obama’s national security cabinet is having its own quiet feud over a long-standing agreement to allow Russian surveillance flights over U.

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.

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Crisis in Ukraine

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