Ukraine crisis: Crimea holds secession referendum
16 March 2014 Last updated at 08:30
Crimea is voting on whether to rejoin Russia or stay with Ukraine but with more autonomy.
The referendum has been condemned as “illegal” by Kiev and the West but is backed by Moscow.
Since the fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian troops have in effect taken control of the majority ethnic-Russian region.
Voters are expected to support leaving Ukraine, but Crimean Tatars are boycotting the poll.
The BBC’s Ben Brown at a polling station in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, reported a strong turnout – with 100 people arriving in the first 10 minutes after polls opened.
Ukraine crisis: Is the West trying to upset the Russians?
This is not the Cold War. Ukraine should not be forced to take sides, but the EU and US are behaving provocatively on Moscow’s doorstep
PAUL VALLELY Sunday 16 March 2014
Is today’s referendum in Crimea legal? Kiev says no, because it violates Article 73 of Ukraine’s constitution which says the state’s borders can be changed only after a plebiscite of the entire nation. Moscow says yes, because Ukraine’s democratically elected president was overthrown in a coup which means the constitution no longer applies. The United States and European Union say the referendum violates the UN charter and four other international agreements. But this is not about law. Make no mistake about that.
A welter of bluster, bluff and bogus arguments has been thrown up in the face of what is undoubtedly the most perilous crisis in East-West relations since the end of the Cold War. The violence between pro and anti-Russian Ukrainians yesterday will only increase the temptation for President Vladimir Putin to move troops from Crimea into eastern Ukraine. The West has boxed itself into responding with sanctions against the Moscow elite which look set to escalate. Talks ended on Friday with “no common vision”.
Vanishing ice warning for ‘Mountains of the Moon’
Ice on the Rwenzori mountain range is melting at “disturbing” rates, and within two decades Africa’s equatorial peaks will be bare rock.
16 MAR 2014 06:33 PETER MARTELL
In swirling snow, John Medenge prods a thin ice bridge over a crevasse with an iron-tipped spear, guiding climbers scaling the steep glacial wall using crampons and axes.
“We are the last few who will climb on the ice, it is going so fast,” said Medenge, after scaling the treacherous ridge up Mount Stanley, part of the dramatic Rwenzori mountain range straddling the border between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
At 5 109 metres, Stanley’s jagged peak is the third highest mountain in Africa, topped only by Mount Kenya and Tanzania’s iconic Kilimanjaro.
But experts warn the ice is melting at “disturbing” rates, and that within two decades Africa’s equatorial peaks will be bare rock.
Parents of Japan abductee meet NKorean grandchild
The parents of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea in 1977 have met their Korean-born granddaughter for the first time.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry confirmed Sunday that Shigeru Yokota and his wife Sakie spent time with Kim Eun Gyong over several days last week in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Kim is 26 years old, Japanese media said.
The meeting could be a small step toward resuming official government talks between Japan and North Korea.
Kim’s mother, Megumi Yokota, was kidnapped in Japan when she was 13. She is believed to have married a South Korean, Kim Young Nam, who also was abducted by North Korea.
North Korea says Yokota has died, but Japan says North Korea has yet to provide definitive proof.
Syrian war is slipping from the hands of battered rebels
After three years, the humanitarian situation is getting worse, talks appear near collapse and rebels still vow to fight ‘to the last man.’
By Patrick McDonnell
ARSAL, Lebanon – The battle is not going well for rebels dug in across the nearby brown hills in Syria, where pro-government forces were closing in Saturday on the opposition stronghold of Yabroud.
Syrian insurgents and their many supporters on this side of the border exhibit both bravado and anguish about a battle, and a war, that is fast slipping from their hands.
“We have to keep on fighting to the last man, the last breath,” Abu Omar, 21, who lost his left leg to a tank shell outside Yabroud, said from his hospital bed. “We have no choice.”
Around him in this threadbare clinic, the bandaged and battered rebel fighters hooked to intravenous tubes testified to the plight of those aiming to topple the government of Bashar Assad.
The Syrian war marked its third anniversary this week, a dismal milestone rendered bleaker still by the sense that bloodshed will not ease anytime soon.
Submerged: the Jewish woman who hid from Nazis in Berlin
Marie Jalowicz Simon was one of 1,700 ‘U-boats’, German Jews who survived the war submerged below the surface of daily life. Now she has told all in a book
Philip Oltermann in Berlin
The Observer, Sunday 16 March 2014
On 22 June 1942, Marie Jalowicz Simon woke to find a Gestapo officer standing by her bedside. “Get dressed. We need to interrogate you.” In a moment of inspired improvisation, the 20-year-old Berliner managed to distract first the Nazi official in her bedroom, then his colleague waiting at the bottom of the stairs, and escaped back into “submerged” illegality as a Jew in Nazi Germany.
Now, 16 years after Jalowicz Simon’s death, a new book tells the extraordinary story of her fate as one of around 1,700 “U-boats” – Jews who managed to survive the Nazi period submerged beneath the surface of everyday life.