TIME

Egypt Jails Policeman For Role In Islamist Deaths

37 men were killed by asphyxiation in the back of a cramped police van while they were being transported to a prison on the edge of Cairo

A court in Cairo sentenced a police officer to 10 years in jail Tuesday for his part in the deaths of 37 Islamists last year.

Lieutenant Col Amr Farouk was jailed for his role in the asphyxiation deaths of members of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as their supporters. Three other police officers were also convicted and given one-year suspended sentences, reports Reuters.

The Interior Ministry claimed at the time that the prisoners had died from gas suffocation while attempting an escape. However it was later confirmed the men were killed by asphyxiation in the back of a cramped police van while they were being transported to a prison on the edge of Cairo.

Since the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 in response to widespread protests against his rule, the Egyptian government has been cracking down heavily on the Islamist movement. The Muslim Brotherhood has accused them of committing systematic human rights abuses. However the government has denied the allegations and labeled the Brotherhood a terrorist group.

[Reuters]

TIME Crimea

Crimea Signs Treaty To Join Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov attend a rally at Red Square on March 18, 2014 in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov attend a rally at Red Square on March 18, 2014 in Moscow. Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images

Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty Tuesday to make the autonomous region part of Russia, after voters approved the move in a referendum that was declared illegal by the Ukrainian government and western powers

Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty Tuesday to make the autonomous region part of Russia, as Russian President Vladimir Putin stoutly defended the contentious annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine.

“Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,” Putin said, in a televised address before the Russian parliament.

Putin set a tone of defiance in his speech Tuesday, calling the political forces in power in Ukraine today “Neo-Nazis” and “Anti-Semites” and calling the Ukrainian capital Kiev “the mother of all Russian cities.” He couched the decision to annex Crimea as a necessary step to correct historical wrongs and protect the human rights of Russians in Crimea. “We’ve seen attempts to ban the Russian language to assimilate the Russian population and of course Russians just like other minorities suffered from constant political crisis that Ukraine’s been going through for 20 years,” he said.

On Sunday, Crimeans voted overwhelmingly in a referendum—which witnesses say included extensive voting irregularities—to break the autonomous republic away from Ukraine and be absorbed into Russia. The president informed his parliament Tuesday that Crimea had requested to join the country, the first step towards formal annexation of the region. He also approved a draft bill on its accession. All that remains to be done before the annexation is finalized is ratification by the Russian constitutional court and parliament.

Putin’s speech comes as Vice President Joe Biden travels to Poland Tuesday to reaffirm American and NATO support for the new government in Ukraine. “It’s an almost unbelievable set of events that have brought us here” Biden said, calling Russia’s annexation of Crimea a “brazen military incursion.” In recent days, Western powers have ratcheted up the pressure on Russia in the standoff over the future status of Crimea and Ukraine. On Tuesday, France’s foreign minister said Russia had been suspended from the Group of Eight, while the U.S. and the E.U. announced new sanctions against Moscow.

TIME Aviation

China Finds No Terrorism Link Among Passengers on Missing Jet

Background checks on 154 people aboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 show none are linked to Uighur Muslim separatists

China’s ambassador in Kuala Lumpur said Tuesday that the country has completed background checks on all of its nationals who were aboard Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and found no links to terrorism.

Ambassador Huang Huikang said that background checks on the 154 Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 did not uncover any evidence suggesting they were involved in an act of terrorism, the Associated Press reports. The announcement came after speculation that Uighur Muslim separatists from far western China might have been involved in the plane’s disappearance on March 8. Malaysian authorities are investigating the backgrounds of the pilots and ground crew and have asked intelligence agencies from countries with passengers on the plane to conduct background checks on its citizens.

More than a week after the plane’s mysterious disappearance, the search area has expanded to encompass an area almost the size of theUnited States.

On Tuesday, furious Chinese families threatened to go on a hunger strike until the Malaysian government releases more information about the plane’s disappearance. Ten days after the plane went missing, families vented their frustration and China criticized Malaysia and Malaysian Airlines for not providing relatives of Chines passengers with more definitive information. “China has all along demanded that the Malaysian side and Malaysia Airlines earnestly respond to the reasonable requests of the Chinese families,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, according to Reuters.

The search for the plane has expanded across a massive area of the Indian Ocean, which has some of the deepest waters on Earth. The AP reports that Australian ships alone are searching 600,000 square kilometers (232,000 square miles) of the ocean, and U.S. and Indonesian planes and ships are also searching for the missing plane.

A report in the New York Times suggested that the missing Boeing 777 made its first off-course turn to the west after a heading change was entered into the aircraft’s flight computer, a move that requires advanced knowledge of the plane’s flight systems.

[AP]

TIME energy

Bill Richardson: Our Best Response to Russia Is Energy Security

Gov. Bill Richardson
Peter Foley—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Washington must leverage our energy bounty to advance our foreign policy goals.

In the short term, the key questions surrounding the crisis in the Ukraine involve whether Russia’s expansionist tendencies will continue in the Ukraine after the Crimean vote and, subsequently, the effectiveness and intensity of the American and European sanctions in the ensuing weeks.

Longer term, America and the West need to take several steps: As a starter, the U.S. should consider bringing back the anti-missile defense in Poland; additionally, it should ensure the Ukrainian defense forces are strengthened, and it should also re-evaluate increasing defense support for strong U.S.-friendly countries like Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Lithuania.

But the most powerful response from the West must come in the form of transatlantic energy security. The importance of European and Eurasian energy independence from Russia has only increased over time. Both regions have been taking measured steps to reduce their dependence on Russia, especially after the Russia-Ukraine gas disputes of 2006 and 2009, which left much of Europe under-heated in those winters.

The pace of these efforts must increase rapidly. We know how to do this. Back in the 1990s one of my main assignments when I was Secretary of Energy was creating the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, running from the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to the Mediterranean. So I know that Europeans and Americans can work together to create strategically sound solutions to provide reliable sources of energy to Europe and Eurasia. Transatlantic energy security has never been fully achieved, however, because Russia’s tactics in politicizing natural gas exports have worked. And they will continue to work in strengthening Russia’s influence until Berlin, Brussels, and Washington are on the same page.

Strongly supporting projects, such as the Trans-Adriatic and Anatolian Pipelines to extend the East-West energy corridor (connecting the Caucasus and Central Asia to world markets), is not just important for securing regional independence from Russia. These projects are in the West’s long-term interests as well.

At the same time, Washington is deciding whether it will leverage the United States’ energy bounty in order to advance its foreign policy goals during the most serious East-West crisis in a generation. The United States’ shale gas revolution has boosted its economic competitiveness and helped reduce U.S. carbon emissions to their lowest levels in 20 years. Exporting this natural gas would decrease European and Eurasian dependence on Russia, empowering U.S allies while sending Moscow a clear signal of the seriousness we place on transatlantic energy security.

Achieving a transatlantic energy security strategy in coordination with key countries in the region, such as Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Poland, would be a very important step toward ensuring that the region can be truly free from undue interference from Russia.

Playing the long game and focusing on the energy trends that are working in our favor will be critical for the West. Now is the time for some old-fashioned diplomacy, working with our allies to craft solutions that achieve greater independence from Russia. The best place to start is with transatlantic energy security.

In the end, after all the smoke clears, both the U.S. and Russia need to build a more mature and cooperative relationship. The world does not need another Cold War.

Bill Richardson is a former Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the U.N.

TIME MH370

Missing Jet Sparks ‘World’s Largest Crowd-Sourcing Project’

A family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 fingers prayer beads as he listens to a briefing from the airline company with other family members (in background) at a hotel in Beijing, March 18, 2014. Kim Kyung-Hoon—Reuters

Around 2.9 million areas of interest have been tagged by internet users scouring satellite data as investigations continue into the crew of the missing Boeing 777-200

Three million Internet users have joined search teams from 26 nations hunting for the missing Malaysia Airlines airliner, in what could be the largest crowdsourcing project ever.

Flight MH370 disappeared Mar. 8 with 239 people on board. Satellite firm DigitalGlobe has made images covering around 24,000 square kilometers (9,000 square miles) available here for public search.

More images are being added every day, reports AFP. Around 2.9 million areas of interest have been tagged by participants based on some 257 million satellite image views.

At the same time, investigations continue into the crew of the Boeing 777-200. Malaysian police have searched the homes of the captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and first officer, Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27. A flight simulator was takend from the captain’s home.

On Monday, authorities said that pilot suicide remained a possibility. “We are looking at it,” acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters Monday.

However, one Asia-based commercial pilot, who asked to remain anonymous as he was not authorized to speak to the press, told TIME that scenario seemsed unlikely.

“If he wanted to kill himself, why go to all this trouble to go on this elaborate flight path?” he asked. “Why not just plough the plane into the sea?”

However, it would be easy for one pilot to lock the other out of the cockpit. “There’s a code on the door and you dial the number which gives an alert to whoever’s on the flight deck,” he says. “Then he or she can press a button to let that person in, or deny the request and keep the person out.”

Search operations for flight MH370, which left Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. local time bound for Beijing, are focused on two vast corridors; one stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and another from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang told state news wire Xinhua Tuesday that no evidence had been uncovered that Chinese nationals were involved in any hijacking or terrorist attack. Of the 227 passengers aboard the flight, 153 were Chinese nationals.

No other nation has reported anything suspicious based on the passenger manifest.

Internet users in China, increasingly frustrated with what they see as disinformation from the Malaysian authorities, have called for sanctions and tourism boycotts. “China should sanction Malaysia to force the truth out of them, “ lawyer Zhang Kai wrote on the Weibo microblogging service.

Chinese state media revealed that western areas of China, which could conceivably have been on the jet’s flight path, were being closely examined. On Monday, Kazakhstan said it had not detected any “unsanctioned use” of its air space on the day MH370 disappeared. In India, a military intelligence source told the Times of India “There is no way our military radars would have missed the airliner as it flew over [the] Andaman Sea, as there is high traffic around that time.” New Delhi has also played down suggestions that the plane could have been intended as a weapon against an Indian target.

Meanwhile, an earlier hypothesis that the last radio transmission from the plane came after attempts to muffle communications may have been hasty. The last transmission from the ACARS system was received at 1.07 a.m., as the plane left Malaysia’s northeast coast towards and passed over the Gulf of Thailand towards Vietnam. The device was supposed to check in 30 minutes later, at 1.49 a.m., but that message never arrived.

At 1.19 a.m. someone in the cockpit, now believed to be the copilot, said the words “All right, good night” to Malaysian air traffic control. Two minutes later the plane’s secondary radar transponder was turned off.

So it is possible that attempts to mask the aircraft’s progress by shutting off ACARS were initiated either before or after the final words were uttered from the cockpit.

Meanwhile, a commander with the Pakistani Taliban denied the group was responsible for hijacking the jet, but wished it had. “We wish we had an opportunity to hijack such a plane,” he told Reuters by telephone from group’s stronghold in North Waziristan.

TIME Flight MH370

Missing Airliner’s Route Reportedly Changed by Computer Entry

PHILIPPINES-MALAYSIA-CHINA-MALAYSIAAIRLINES-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT
Students walk past a giant mural featuring the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, on the grounds of their school in Manila's financial district of Makati on March 18, 2014 Ted Aljibe—AFP/Getty Images

A new report suggests the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 made its first off-course turn to the west after a heading change was entered into the aircraft's flight computer, a move that requires advanced knowledge of the plane's flight systems

The missing Malaysia Airlines airliner first deviated from its set flight path following an entry into its flight computer, according to a new report.

The New York Times, citing “senior American officials,” reports Flight MH370’s first unexpected turn to the west was made “through a computer system” in the aircraft’s cockpit. That revelation is significant because changing the aircraft’s route via the flight computer requires a more intimate understanding of the Boeing 777’s flight systems than manually manipulating the control yoke to change heading.

Commercial jets and other large aircraft typically travel the skies via a system of waypoints, each identified by a five-character code. Those waypoints are manually entered into an aircraft’s flight computer so the airplane’s autopilot system can fly the desired route. Pilots can insert new waypoints into an aircraft’s flight computer to change the aircraft’s course midflight if asked to do so by an air-traffic controller or for other reasons.

The Times report suggests that someone on board the aircraft did indeed enter a new waypoint into Flight MH370’s computer. However, it remains unclear whether the waypoint change was made before or after the flight began.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that data from the aircraft indicated “someone made a manual change in the plane’s direction.” That report, though, didn’t specify whether someone on board the plane had made a change in the aircraft’s flight computer or used the aircraft’s yoke to change its direction.

Flight MH370 has been missing since disappearing from radar screens on March 8, triggering a huge search operation that currently involves 26 nations. Many theories have been considered to explain why the plane would go so drastically off course in the absence of much solid evidence.

[The New York Times]

TIME Crimea

Crimeans Look to Putin and Russia After Referendum

Ivan Drobkov, an ethnic Russian native of Crimea, walks near the regional parliament with his 9-year-old son Bogdan on March 17, 2014.
Ivan Drobkov, an ethnic Russian native of Crimea, walks near the regional parliament with his 9-year-old son Bogdan on March 17, 2014. Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME

After the euphoria of Crimea's secession referendum, pro-Russian Crimeans now look to Moscow and the prospect of outright annexation. They may be disappointed as Moscow's elites may have to think twice about what they're doing in the face of Western sanctions

On the night of Feb. 26, Bogdan Drobkov, a third-grader in the region of Crimea, logged on to the Kremlin website and, with a bit of help from his father Ivan, composed a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin. That afternoon, bloody clashes had broken out in his hometown of Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, between two groups of protesters supporting and opposing the new revolutionary government in Ukraine. Dozens of them were injured that day on the square outside the local parliament. Two were killed, while the rest of Crimea’s people got their first real taste of the violence of Ukraine’s revolution. “So I asked Putin to come and help us,” says Bogdan, who is 9.

He got a reply almost immediately, an automated response from the Kremlin Department of Written Appeals from Citizens and Organizations, saying his request would be processed in due haste. Bogdan printed it out and hung it up in his family’s apartment, a bit like a Christmas letter from the North Pole, and even though the Drobkovs could not have known it at the time, Putin’s forces had already begun deploying in Crimea on the pretext of protecting its people from the revolution. Less than three weeks later, the Russian occupation of the peninsula would lead to Sunday’s referendum, in which the residents of Crimea, under the watch of heavily armed Russian special forces, voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and become a part of Russia. On Monday, Putin recognized Crimea’s independence in an official Kremlin decree, clearing one more legal hurdle toward Russian annexation.

The central government in Kiev condemned all this as an illegal landgrab, as did its allies in the U.S. and Europe, which imposed sanctions on Monday to punish senior Russian officials for pushing Crimea to secede. The region’s ethnic minorities, primarily Ukrainians and Muslim Tatars, were equally appalled at what they saw as a plebiscite under the gun, and their community leaders urged both ethnic groups to boycott the vote. But the day that followed the referendum in Crimea belonged to the peninsula’s ethnic Russian majority. They wandered the streets, still dazed from the euphoria of the previous night’s celebrations, and soaked in the changes they felt, or imagined, sweeping over their peninsula jutting into the Black Sea.

Some of the changes were palpable. The Russian troops with their assault rifles and armored vehicles were nowhere to be seen around the streets of Crimea’s capital on Monday. The Cossack paramilitaries, who had come from Russia to aid the occupation, were for the most part gone as well. Only a few of their local Cossack comrades had been left to guard the headquarters of the separatist government, atop which the Russian tricolor now flies. “Everything is calm. That’s the big difference,” says Alexander Shuvalov, the commander of a local militia force as he watched his volunteers line up for their foot patrol on Monday afternoon. “The little green men are gone.”

That is what Crimeans had begun calling the Russian troops. For weeks, they have been easy to spot on the streets and highways by their green uniforms and assault rifles, but they have worn no identifying insignia throughout their time in Crimea, a ruse that has allowed Putin to deny that any illegal occupation was even taking place. In Perekop, the site of the de facto border between Crimea and Ukraine, even that pretense was dropped on Monday. The Russian marines guarding the checkpoint into mainland Ukraine were no longer hiding the fact that they were Russian marines. The patches on their shoulders identified them as troops of the Russian Black Sea naval fleet, which is housed in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. And although they wouldn’t say so openly, their presence suggested that Russia now sees this border as its own, with no more need for its officers to pose as “local self-defense brigades.”

Driving up to the checkpoint, the people of Crimea seemed to take their presence as par for the course, and even something of a comfort. Sedans full of women did not look at all perturbed when masked commandos opened their doors and leaned in with their Kalashnikovs. The ladies smiled and said hello, seemingly glad to have the soldiers inspect their trunk for weapons.

It was this sense of security that made Bogdan and his father feel safe enough to go for a walk around the center of town on Monday. For the past few weeks, the presence of “little green men” and Cossack irregulars made the city feel as though conflict was around the corner. The pro-Russian news broadcasts kept warning of “fascists” coming from Kiev to stage acts of sabotage in Crimea or fire into crowds. All of these warnings were part of the Kremlin’s propaganda ploys to justify its occupation of Crimea, but for the local Russians it hit a nerve. “The TV kept talking about a war,” says Bogdan’s father, a 40-year-old football coach. “My wife kept crying at night that there would be a war, and eventually I just had to shut off all the TVs in the house.”

At school, Bogdan felt the tension when he started bringing a Russian flag to school just after Putin’s forces invaded. The local Tatar and Ukrainian children, probably parroting their elders, took that as a sign of separatism, which the national television channels in Ukraine were denouncing day and night. “They called me a traitor,” he says. But as he walked around the Crimean parliament on Monday, he wore the Russian tricolor draped over his chest like a giant bib.

His childish expectations of what Russian annexation would bring seemed not much more mature than those of his elders. Ukraine’s language laws mandate all television programming to air in Ukrainian — or at least with Ukrainian subtitles — and textbooks in all the country’s schools are written in the official state language. But for the local Russians, many of whom hardly speak Ukrainian, that has been a headache lasting decades. Filling out forms and filing documents to the state often requires notarized translations for them. “And think about what that means for parents,” says Denis Zhuravovich, who was also taking a walk around the center on Monday with his son, 6-year-old Yegor, a first-grader. “He asks me for help with reading lessons, and I can’t even make sense of it,” says Zhuravovich. “And you know what the Ukrainians call Winnie the Pooh?” Pursing his lips, the father pronounced the Ukrainian word for bear — vedmid — with a look of sheer disgust at the sound of it.

After Russian annexation, he said, all of that would change in Crimea. The separatist parliament announced that it would switch the region to Moscow time, two hours ahead of Crimea, at the end of this month, and cafés in Simferopol were already accepting Russian rubles on Sunday. On a wall near the local parliament, a poster put up before the referendum made clear other benefits of Russian rule. Ukraine’s gasoline prices, the poster pointed out, are almost twice as high as they are in oil-rich Russia. The average wage in Russia is more than double, while doctors and teachers get paid roughly three times as much as they do in Ukraine. Throughout the day, locals walked up to stare at this poster and wonder at the possibilities, ignoring the graffiti someone had scrawled over the part comparing pensions — “Glory to Ukraine.”

Few of them realized that Russia’s economy, which is expected to grow at only 1% this year, could hardly handle the charity case that Crimea will become. Last week, Russia’s former Minister of Labor and Social Development Alexander Pochinok estimated that absorbing Crimea would cost the Russian government trillions of rubles — or at least a hundred billion dollars — especially when taking account of all the infrastructure that needs to be built to compensate for Crimea’s reliance on water and electricity from mainland Ukraine. “Let’s think about where we’ll have to tighten our belts,” the former minister suggested, “because we’re talking about colossal expenditures.”

This summer, the wave of Russian patriotism that has followed Crimea’s referendum will likely bring plenty of Russian tourists to the peninsula’s beach resorts on the Black Sea. But when those tourists realize how run-down Crimea’s hotels have grown since the region was part of the Soviet Union, will they come back the summer after that? Probably not. In the coming years, Crimea will need to come up with ways to pull its weight, because otherwise Russia’s many other depressed regions could start to feel a little jealous of the newcomer entering the fray for Kremlin subsidies.

This week, Russia will have to face all these potential drawbacks of annexation, and the Western sanctions, if they are forceful enough, may urge Moscow’s political elites to think twice. But having gone this far, it hardly seems likely that Putin will back away from his seizure of Crimea. That would mean changing course after one of the most brazen gambles of his career. Apart from that, Putin would have to disappoint roughly a million ethnic Russians in Crimea, including the little kid who believes Russia’s President came to his rescue this month, sort of like Santa Claus if he had an army of commandos with him at the North Pole instead of little green elves.

TIME

Malaysia Airlines Chief Corrects Timeline of Missing Flight 370

Malaysian Airlines missing flight MH370
Hishamuddin Hussein, Malaysia's Minister of Defense and acting Transport Minister, answers questions at a press conference in Sepang, Malaysia, on March 17, 2014 Joshua Paul—NurPhoto/Corbis

Airline CEO's statement contradicts Malaysia's assertion that someone spoke from the plane after communications system was disabled

The Malaysia Airlines chief on Monday backpedaled government assertions that someone casually communicated from the missing Flight 370 after a critical communications system was disabled.

Malaysia’s acting Transportation Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, said Sunday that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System was disabled shortly before someone in the cockpit, believed to be co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, said “All right, good night” at 1:19 a.m.

But in an updated timeline of the period after ground control lost contact with the missing Flight 370, CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the communications system could have been shut off at “any time” between its last known transmission, at 1:07 a.m., and 30 minutes later when it was expected to transmit another signal.

Investigators still believe that someone in the cockpit, either intentionally or under coercion, switched off both the communications system and a separate radar transponder that shut off within two minutes of the co-pilot’s comments, but the updated timeline means the sabotage could have happened after the comments from the co-pilot, and not necessarily before.

At least 25 countries have joined Malaysia’s search for Flight 370 across some 30 million sq. mi., amid indications that the plane flew as long as seven more hours after losing radio contact around 1 a.m.

Police have searched the homes of both the pilot and co-pilot and are checking the background of everyone on board, as the timeline of the plane’s disappearance suggests meticulous planning, Reuters reports. The plane’s radar transponder went out, for instance, just as the flight would have been switching from Malaysian to Vietnamese controllers, a technical black hole that could have allowed the plane to evade detection.

[WSJ]

TIME

Putin Signs Decree to Recognize Crimea as Independent

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs Russian government meeting at Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow
Alexei Druzhinin—RIA Novosti/Reuters

Russia's President recognized the breakaway Crimea region of Ukraine as an independent state, one more step to total annexation

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a sovereign state, one day after it overwhelmingly approved a referendum to secede from Ukraine, Russian news outlets reported on Monday, citing the Kremlin press service.

The decree, published on the Kremlin’s website, took effect immediately, Reuters reports. It says Moscow’s recognition of Crimea as independent is based on “the will of the people of Crimea.”

On Sunday, more than 93% of voters in Crimea, the autonomous southern peninsula in Ukraine, approved a contentious referendum to withdraw from Kiev’s government and pivot to Russia. Western powers had labeled the ballot illegitimate.

Putin’s move comes hours after Crimea’s parliament made a similar claim and one day before the President’s planned address to a joint session of Russian parliament about the rapidly unfolding situation.

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama quickly responded to the vote by announcing a number of economic sanctions to be imposed on several aides in Putin’s inner circle and top political leaders in Crimea.

[Reuters]

MORE: U.S. Hits Putin Aides and Crimea Officials With New Sanctions

TIME India

Hindus Celebrate Holi, the Festival of Color

Indian revelers marked Holi, the annual Spring festival of color with joyous celebrations across the country and amongst communities in the diaspora. In addition to certain Hindu ceremonial rites, the holiday is marked by raucous, mass gatherings where revelers douse each other with colored powder and water.

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