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Disappeared

Taliban Peacemaker Locked Up

AFP/Getty

A key voice for reconciliation in Afghanistan has been missing for weeks after an apparent arrest. Why the prime suspect is Pakistan—and the motive to sabotage any potential peace deal.

Everyone is a suspect when an ex-Taliban minister who broke with the group to lead peace talks goes missing under mysterious circumstances.Agha Jan Motasim has a long list of enemies. Taliban hardliners tried to have him assassinated a few years ago and left him with a bullet-riddled body as a reminder.Motasim, who served in the Taliban’s government before becoming a key voice for reconciliation in recent years, has been missing for weeks now.

ROYAL MADNESS

Calm Down, He’s Just a Baby

EPA

His romper suits sell out. He’s happy with his toy wombat, but not being held by his nanny. Can nothing stop the insane, over-the-top coverage of Prince George?

When Prince George was born, the satirical magazine Private Eye attempted to throw a welcome bucket of cold water over the florid, gushing press coverage that followed with a banner headline unfurnished by pictures: “Woman Has Baby.”The cover would turn out to be a lone, sane beacon. Another day of the Royal tour Down Under, another 20 pictures of the same stunned, chubby-cheeked infant’s face. Here is Prince George, with his parents Prince William and Kate Middleton in Australia, being carried by his mother down the steps of a plane looking like, well, a baby.

Terrorists

Boko Haram’s Sick Hatred of Girls

STR/AFP/Getty

The abduction of 200 female students from northern Nigeria was not the first attack on girls’ education by the al Qaeda-linked group—and it won’t be the last.

The numbers were shocking: “Nigerian Unrest: Gunmen abduct ‘about 100 schoolgirls’” headlined the BBC after guerrillas believed to belong to the al Qaeda-allied group Boko Haram attacked a boarding school late Monday in the Nigerian state of Borno. But this is not the first time that these radical Islamist rebels have abducted girls en masse, and it almost certainly will not be the last.In mid-February, according to local press reports, about 400 members of the group, some of them wearing military uniforms and traveling in military-style trucks, attacked the town of Konduga, also in Borno state, near the borders of Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

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.

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.

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.

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Crisis in Ukraine

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U.S. NEWS

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