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Latest On Ukraine, Beirut Blast, Weiwei's Vase

Kiev on Feb. 18
Kiev on Feb. 18


  • After a night of intense fighting in central Kiev, at least 25 people are reported dead, including nine policemen and a journalist, Interfax quotes the Ukrainian Health Ministry as saying. According to the official figures, 351 people were also injured with 241 hospitalized.

  • In a televised address, President Viktor Yanukovych blamed the deaths on opposition leaders who “called people to arms,” denouncing the role played by radical group Right Sector and the Svoboda Party in the escalation of violence.

  • The European Union announced its 28 foreign ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting tomorrow to discuss possible sanctions on Ukraine for the police use of violence, AP reports. In the past, Brussels and Washington have repeatedly threatened the Ukrainian government with such measures.

  • Observers are fearing the recent escalation could mark the beginning of a civil war in Ukraine. According to RT, radical protesters in Kiev are reinforcing their barricades and were reported as saying, “This is not a rally. This is an organized military confrontation.”

At least six people have died and over 100 were left injured after twin explosions hit South Beirut, near the Kuwaiti embassy and the Iranian Cultural Chancellery, Al Arabiya reports. The southern part of the Lebanese capital, a Hezbollah stronghold, has been the target of many attacks over the last few months. The Abdullah Assam Brigades, an al-Qaeda-linked group that pledged last week to attack Hezbollah and Iranian interests, has claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter, according to L’Orient Le Jour.

Leopoldo López, an opposition leader in Venezuela against whom a warrant had been issued following last week’s violent clashes in Caracas, handed himself in to the police during yesterday’s demonstration, Reuters reports. López is due to appear in court today, according toEl Universal.


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, famous for his thought-provoking and often controversial art, has reacted to the protest smashing of one of his vases by a Miami artist.

From Die Welt, the story of a Somali restaurateur who left the sweet life in the UK to return to his war-ravaged homeland, where he has survived multiple attacks on his restaurant:Why, his wife asked him, would he want to exchange all that for life in war-torn, bombed-out Somalia? Islamic groups — and in recent years mainly al-Shabaab — have been fighting the central government since 1991 trying to establish a religious state. Jama says he reflected for a long time before answering his wife, then said: “When I die, I want to leave something behind. Something that people will remember when they think of me.” Read the full story here.

A 33-year-old investment banker at JP Morgan in Hong Kong is said to have jumped to his death at the bank’s headquarters yesterday, South China Morning Post reports. This is the latest in a series of mysterious deaths among bankers over the last few weeks, and more particularly at JP Morgan. In late January, a senior manager at the bank’s headquarters in London was found dead after he fell from the roof of the building, while earlier this month, Ryan Crane, an 37-year-old executive director, was found dead at his home in Connecticut. In an investigative piece, website Wall Street On Parade suggests that the bank might actually profit from the deaths.

All seven people serving prison for the murder of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 are to be released, the government in the Tamil Nadu state has decided. The announcement comes one day after the country’s Supreme Court lifted the death sentence to which three of the convicted had been condemned. Read more from Times of India.

As of Monday night, 22 Olympic athletes had wiped out in Sochi’s Extreme Park, which is particularly brutal on women skiers, most of whom have never faced such difficult conditions.



Thousands of euros were discovered by employees at a German garbage plant, and for the moment police are describing it as a lost property case.

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D.C. Or Beijing? Two High-Stakes Trips — And Taiwan's Divided Future On The Line

Two presidents of Taiwan, the current serving president, Tsai Ing-wen, and her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou from the opposition Kuomintang party, are traveling in opposite directions these days. Taiwan must choose whom to follow.

Photo of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

Tsai Ing-wen, the President of Taiwan

Pierre Haski


PARIS — Tsai Ing-wen, the President of Taiwan, is traveling to the United States today. Not on an official trip because Taiwan is not a state recognized by Washington, but in transit, en route to Central America, a strategy that allows her to pass through New York and California.

Ma Ying-jeou, a former president of Taiwan, arrived yesterday in Shanghai: he is making a 12-day visit at the invitation of the Chinese authorities at a time of high tension between China and the United States, particularly over the fate of Taiwan.

It would be difficult to make these two trips more contrasting, as both have the merit of summarizing at a glance the decisive political battle that is coming. Presidential and legislative elections will be held in January 2024 in Taiwan, which could well determine Beijing's attitude towards the island that China claims by all means, including force.

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