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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.

Interactive

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’

Getty

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.

Snow Job

The Death of Venezuelan Democracy

Tomas Bravo/Reuters

Barely a year after the death of the charismatic, problematic President Hugo Chávez, his successor, Nicolás Maduro, is flailing and the military is gaining.

In the dark before dawn one night last February, Colonel Googlis Martín Caballero was driving a white Ford Explorer through the Venezuelan countryside not far from the Colombian border. With him were his wife, his daughter and roughly half a ton of cocaine. He probably felt sure nobody would question him, a ranking officer in the country’s National Guard, but, then, that much coke is hard to hide.At a routine checkpoint, other members of the National Guard detained the colonel.

War

Life Inside a Syrian Refugee Camp

AFP/Getty

For Syrians displaced by their country’s war, homeless in their own land, life inside refugee camps is a desperate existence.

The refugee camp in the Turkish city of Kilis has been called “a five-star hotel.” Residents have access to electricity, playgrounds, and schools. They receive money for food, and satellite dishes adorn many of the housing units. Crime is low, and gratitude is high. Indeed, for the approximately 14,000 people living there, the Turkish government has built—in the words of the New York Times—the “perfect refugee camp.”Ever since the uprisings against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad exploded into civil war in 2011, the UN estimates (PDF) that over 9 million people have been displaced from their homes.

Ground Zero

Inside Occupied East Ukraine

Gleb Garanich/Reuters

On Saturday, pro-Russian militants seized several government buildings in the Eastern town. Now they’re holed up waiting for Kiev to respond.

SLOVIANSK, Ukraine—The mood on the ground here was electric today. On Saturday, uniformed, armed men stormed and occupied the city’s central police station, demanding secession from Ukraine or at the least a referendum on joining the Russian Federation. Many of the people here, who are largely Russian-speaking, watched Russia’s annexation of Crimea in February with joy, and are determined to get their wish, even if it means violence. Meanwhile, the Kiev government accuses Russia of orchestrating the protests that have erupted across this region and says it will take action against the protestors.

Upping the Ante

Obama Preps Hit on Russian Markets

Gleb Garanich/Reuters

The Obama administration had been holding off on new Russia sanctions, but with Russian troops now in Eastern Ukraine, the U.S. government is moving fast to punish Putin.

The Obama administration is moving quickly to levy new sanctions against Russia, hoping to stop what the U.S. government now sees as a Crimea-style incursion by unmarked Russian troops in several cities in Eastern Ukraine. But so far, America and its European allies can’t agree on how to hit the Vladimir Putin regime for its latest move onto Ukrainian territory, senior Obama administration officials tell The Daily Beast.This weekend, pro-Russian gunmen seized government buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk, and ringed the town with barricades.

Crisis in Ukraine

Russia’s Gun-Toting ‘Tourists’

Olga Maltsseva/AFP/Getty

Moscow now offers a how-to guide for Russians who want to raise hell in Ukraine, and it’s working.

Ukrainian businessman Volodymyr Ryabov has decided to improvise his own checkpoint between the Russian border and his home town of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. He’s pulled concrete blocks from the foundation of his half-built house and turned them into roadblocks. He fashioned a homemade boundary sign warning: “Attention! State border of Ukraine. No trespassing!” He even dug an anti-tank ditch, and set up one of the rooms in the house to feed border guards.

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Crisis in Ukraine

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