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Ukraine's National Guard, Death At SXSW, White Evolution

The scene of a fatal hit and run near SXSW in Austin.
The scene of a fatal hit and run near SXSW in Austin.

The Ukrainian Parliament voted overwhelmingly to create a 60,000-strong National Guard, Interfax reports. According to AFP, the new force will mostly include volunteers from Maidan’s self-defense groups and will be in charge of interior and border security.

  • Earlier today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech to the Bundestag that Russia risked “massive” political and economic damage if it refused to change course on Ukraine, adding that Moscow was exploiting the country’s weakness. Continuing to apply pressure ahead of Sunday’s planned referendum in Crimea, she said that Ukraine’s territorial integrity “cannot be called into question.”

  • After meeting with interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenuyk, U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to “stand with Ukraine,” The New York Timesreports.

  • Meanwhile, in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s popularity is reaching new highs, Itar-Tass writes. According to the most recent poll, 71.6% of people surveyed approved of his actions, an increase of 9.7% from one month ago. This comes as the Russian Finance Ministry said it wouldn’t exclude sanctions against the EU and the U.S. An advisor to Putin has already suggested that Russia could sell all of its U.S. treasury bonds, a move that could seriously damage the dollar.

“We will not give up on any suspected clue,” China’s Premier Li Keqiang said of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane whose 239 passengers included 153 Chinese. Missing since Saturday, the plane could have flown for four or five hours after it was last located, U.S. investigators told The Wall Street Journal. During today’s press conference, Malaysia’s defense and acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein dismissed the report as “inaccurate,” Straits Times reports. Meanwhile, Vietnamese authorities found no trace of the missing aircraft in an area where images from a Chinese satellite suggested debris of the plane might be located.

Authorities have confirmed the death of a sixth victim after yesterday’s explosion in Harlem that leveled two buildings, leaving more than 70 people wounded, NBC New York reports. The blast was caused by a major gas leak, whose origin is still unknown. Read more from The New York Times.

Israel’s air force launched at least 29 strikes on the Gaza strip overnight in a tit-for-tat response after the Quds Brigade claimed it fired some 90 rockets on Southern Israel, five of which hit populated areas. According to AFP, no casualties were reported on either side. Ma’an news agency reports, however, that two more rockets were fired this morning, one of which was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.

Three people were shot dead yesterday in Venezuela, in the central city of Valencia. Among the victims were two citizens who were shot by pro-government gunmen passing on motorbikes, El Universal reports. The third, an army captain, was killed while fighting “terrorist groups,” the state’s governor Francisco Ameliach said. This happened as people were demonstrating in the capital of Caracas, one month after violent protests began. Read more from the BBC.

The U.S. National Security Agency is using automated systems that can potentially send malware to millions of computers around the world, making it possible for the agency to hack into the machines, top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal. The documents show, for example, that the NSA even used “a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer.” Read more from The Intercept.

Two people died after a drunk driver plowed into a crowd near the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, ABC reports.

“Jihad marriages” is how German security forces characterize increasingly common unions between young German Muslim women and Islamist terrorists. “We’re even seeing marriages being arranged on Facebook,” says one analyst at the inland intelligence service. It’s a phenomenon that worries the intelligence community because there is the possibility that it is a targeted strategy on the part of Islamic terror groups — jihadists with no previous access to Germany acquiring wives with German passports. “Pregnant, the woman may return to Germany. And then at some point there’s a family reunion. That’s when the husband, a jihadist with fighting experience, turns up in Germany.”

Read the full Worldcrunch/Die Welt article: Germany's "Jihad Cheerleaders," Running Off To Marry Islamist Terrorists

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has pledged 10 billion euros in tax cuts for low-wage workers — some 10 million Italians — and has given parliament a six-month deadline to rewrite labor regulations to stimulate hiring. Read more from Bloomberg.


Scientists have found that Europeans have become “whiter” in the past 5,000 due to natural selection. Perhaps that explains this. Read the full story on The Independent.

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In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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