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Ukraine Escalation, Stabbing Rampage In China, Oscar-Winning Selfie

Ukraine, the "biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century"
Ukraine, the "biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century"

The Ukrainian crisis worsened over the weekend after the Russian Parliament approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to send in troops, putting the Ukrainian army on full alert, the BBC reports. According to U.S. officials, Russia now has some 6,000 airborne and ground troops in Crimea, leading them to admit that Moscow was in “complete operational control” of the much-coveted peninsula, The Guardian reports.

  • Speaking to the UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the decision was not an aggression but a matter of defending human rights and Russian citizens, who constitute a majority of Crimea‘s population, RT reports. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC during Meet The Press, “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests,” a criticism Salon characterizes as “ironic” and one that is likely to be badly perceived by Moscow given the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Kerry is expected to fly to Kiev tomorrow. The BBC’s North America editor Mark Mardell said the crisis would also be a test of President Obama’s leadership, “one that will demonstrate how much clout the U.S. has in the world.”

  • Meanwhile, at a press conference with Ukraine’s new Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned Russia of “consequences and costs” over the intervention, which Yatseniuk described as “declaration of war to my country,” Sky News reports.

  • Speaking earlier to the BBC, Hague characterized the developments in Ukraine as the “biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century” and talked of “significant diplomatic and economic costs” for Russia. This echoed news of the suspended participation of the other seven countries to the next G8 summit, due to take place in Sochi later this year, and of more trouble for Russia’s currency, the rouble. The Russian central bank was forced to announce an emergency interest rate hike, raising its key lending rate to 7% after the rouble hit all-time lows against the euro and the dollar, Reuters reports. Follow the stock markets’ latest updates on The Guardian’s finance blog. For more about the economic context of the crisis, CNN has listed 5 reasons why the situation in Ukraine matters to the economy.

At least 74 people were killed in Nigeria over the weekend in several attacks attributed to Islamist group Boko Haram,AFP reports. The death toll, which witnesses said could still rise significantly, takes the number of victims since the beginning of this year over 300.

For more on the terrorist group, we offer this CFR/Worldcrunch piece: Boko Haram And Nigeria's Pervasive Violence.

Unidentified gunmen killed at least 11 people and injured another 25 in a court of Pakistani capital Islamabad this morning, The New York Times reports. According to the newspaper’s correspondent, the motive behind the attack is unclear, but it comes just after ceasefire agreements between the government and the Taliban, which denied responsibility.

The toll and accounts of the attack are gruesome: 29 dead, 143 injured, after 10 masked assailants stabbed anyone in sight at train station in Kunming, in southwest China on Saturday night. Authorities in Beijing blame terrorists from the Muslim ethnic Uighur minority.


And the award for most retweeted photo of all time goes to…
See the story behind the photo that will go down in Oscar history, and see a list of winner

Turkey’s Hurriyet daily reports on what it calls the nation’s War of Wiretapping: “Can it be anything but the country’s bad governance that turns citizens into mere spectators in a dirty political war?
A well-governed country would have been able to overcome its systemic problems in the decade-plus that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power. The existence of such wiretapping wars are proof that the problems of 1999 still continue in 2014, that no steps were taken to solve them.
Isn’t there anybody in Turkey ready to question the very existence of such a wiretapping war between political opponents? Why don’t we see such a form of corruption in Germany, France, the United States? Or even in Italy and Greece?
It is a kind of political law of physics: A country’s level of wiretapping wars is inversely proportional to its democratic accountability”.Read the full article here.

Iconic French film director Alain Resnais has died in Paris at age 91.

About 200 peaceful demonstrators, most of them college students, were arrested in Washington D.C. yesterday after a protest against the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline extension,The Washington Postreports. The protesters, who have repeatedly called on President Obama to reject the project, were arrested after they strapped themselves to the White House fence using plastic zip ties.

North Korea test fired two short-range missiles into the sea, Yonhap news agency quotes South Korean officials as saying. The move, which was described by a Defense Ministry spokesman as a “provocation,” comes after similar launches last week and as South Korea is currently holding military drills with the United States.

The trial of Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of having murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp a year ago, began this morning in Pretoria. The South African athlete pleaded not guilty to all charges. Watch what some have described as the “trial of the century” live here.


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The Benefits Of "Buongiorno"

Our Naples-based psychiatrist reflects on her morning walk to work, as she passes by people who simply want to see a friendly smile.

Photograph of a woman looking down onto the street from her balcony in Naples

A woman looks down from her balcony in Naples

Ciro Pipoli/Instagram
Mariateresa Fichele

In Naples, lonely people leave their homes early in the morning. You can tell they're lonely by the look in their eyes. Mostly men, often walking a dog, typically mixed breeds that look as scruffy as their owners. You see them heading to the coffee bar, chatting with the newsstand owner, buying cigarettes, timidly interacting with each another.

This morning as I was going to work, I tried to put myself in their shoes. I woke up tired and moody, but as soon as I left the building, I felt compelled, like every day, to say to dozens of "buongiorno!" (good morning!) and smile in return just as many times.

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