The humiliation Wednesday of the Ukrainian army in its much-vaunted "anti-terrorist" push into separatist eastern territory makes an embarrassing string of failures even worse. They pointed out that the region, the Donbass, is hostile to Kiev's new, pro-EU leaders, and home to magnates and police reluctant to face down the separatists. A military expert at the Razumkov think-tank in Kiev, Oleksiy Melnik, criticised the government for hesitating to use force and in the end sending in a smaller force than the one implied when it announced its "major operation" on Sunday. "The arguments that 'We mustn't provoke Russia' are absurd in the current situation, because Russia needs no pretext to carry out its plan.
As pro-Russia protests spread in eastern Ukraine, a strip of striped orange-and-black fabric has become as ubiquitous as the armed men in unmarked military fatigues. Its name is the Ribbon of Saint George. Imbued with history, it’s a powerful symbol in the ongoing information battle over Ukraine. For Russians it's a mark of allegiance to the state – both the fearsome, expansionist Russian state of old and its modern successor under President Vladimir Putin.
A Boston man who was arrested on Tuesday for walking through the finish area of the Boston Marathon hooded and carrying a black backpack was formally charged on Wednesday with a bomb hoax and ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation, officials said. The man, 25-year-old Kevin Edson, was arraigned on charges including making a false bomb threat and possession of a hoax device after telling police officers that he was carrying a "rice cooker," prompting the evacuation of a crowded downtown street that hours earlier had been the site of a memorial for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. In that attack, homemade pressure cooker bombs left in backpacks near the finish line killed three people and injured 264.
Hogwarts is Here, an online educational website modeled after J.K. Rowling's school for young magic-users, is open for currency-free business. Following in the footsteps of the fictional Harry, Hermione and Ron just got a whole lot easier with a selection of nine-week online courses provided by a coven of industrious fans. Students can choose which of the four Hogwarts houses they want to represent -- Gryffindor's popularity is currently oustripping Hufflepuff by a factor of three, while Ravenclaw's girls and boys have proven themselves at earning House Points.
Slavyansk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces flexed their military muscles in the restive east of the country on Wednesday, a day ahead of high-level international talks on the escalating crisis. A concerned NATO said it planned to deploy more forces in eastern Europe and called for Russia to stop "destabilising" the former Soviet satellite, which has been in deep turmoil since the ouster of the pro-Kremlin leadership in February. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Kiev's decision to send in troops this week to put down a separatist uprising in its industrial heartland had dragged the country to the brink of civil war. An AFP reporter in the flashpoint town of Slavyansk saw at least six APCs and light tanks, some flying Russian flags, in the city centre with dozens of armed men in camouflage stationed around them claiming to be volunteers and Ukrainian army defectors.
Russia is looking at the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the United States in the World Trade Organisation over sanctions hitting Russian banks, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said on Wednesday, according to Russian news agencies. St Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya was sanctioned alongside its chairman and largest shareholder Yuri Kovalchuk in March as part of punitive measures by Washington over Russia's annexation of Crimea. Russian bank SMP was also indirectly affected as co-owners Boris Rotenberg and his older brother Arkady fell under U.S. sanctions. SMP chief executive Dmitry Kalantyrsky has said that an estimated 9 billion rubles ($249 million) had been withdrawn after the sanctions were imposed.
No, you probably shouldn’t take selfies when standing in close proximity to large vehicles that are hurtling toward you. Gawker points us to a new video posted this week by someone named Jared Michael, who says that he recently “tried to take a selfie while a train passed a ‘safe’ distance behind.” The trouble was that he was still close enough to the tracks for the train’s conductor to reach out with his foot and kick him in the face. The results are predictably hilarious. “I guess I was still too close and got kicked in the head,” Michael writes. “I messed up.” What makes this video truly funny is Michael’s reaction to getting kicked in the head. Instead of