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Crisis in Ukraine
July 7, 2014
John Moore/Getty Images

Even a few weeks ago, Ukraine seemed to be inexorably losing control of the eastern part of its territory to pro-Russia militants who were seizing cities big and small. By Sunday, Ukraine had ousted the rebels from Slovyansk and other towns, recaptured a key border crossing into Russia, and was preparing to battle for control of Donetsk, a regional capital of a million people and the center of the pro-Moscow forces' self-proclaimed republic.

The rebels, who call their convergence on Donetsk a tactical retreat, also seem to be treating this as a final showdown. The string of victories by Ukraine's troops started early last week, when President Petro Poroshenko called off a cease-fire.

The roots of Ukraine's improbable turnaround lie deeper, however: a shakeup in the military chain of command, an influx of financial aid from the U.S. and Ukrainian citizens, some military disengagement from Moscow, and what The New York Times' David M. Herszenhorn describes as "a crucial psychological shift: Soldiers surmounted a reluctance to open fire on their own countrymen, a serious issue after riot police officers killed about 100 protesters last winter during civil unrest centered on Maidan, the main square in Kiev."

Ukraine's ragtag military, plus allied militias, also adapted to urban warfare and benefited from what amounts to on-the-job training. "The military themselves learned to fight," Mykola Sungurovskyi, military scholar at Kiev think-tank Razumkov Center, tells The New York Times. The siege of Donetsk will be a big test of how far they've come. Peter Weber

emojional
1:46 p.m. ET
Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Sen. Mikhail Marchenko has had it with emoji depicting same-sex relationships. He alleged the same-sex parenting and kissing emojing violate Russia's 2013 law against gay propaganda, according to translations of a Russian newspaper report from Quartz and BBC News.

Mikhail reportedly said the emoji "promoted non-traditional sexual relationships" and "denied family values." His complaint prompted a state media investigation into the emoji that could lead to them being banned from social media in Russia. Pro-gay emoji have been available on iPhones since 2012.

The Russian law allows for blocking pro-gay websites and fining individuals and businesses that publicly support gay rights. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
12:54 p.m. ET
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Egyptian counterpart Sunday, marking the first time in six years the two nations have held strategic talks, Newsweek reports. Talks were suspended during the Middle East's Arab Spring uprising, where protests in Egypt forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

"Egypt remains vital ... to engagement and stability in the region as a whole," Kerry said.

The U.S. has given Egypt eight F-16 fighter jets, and will continue providing more support for the Egyptian military as they fight insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula. Kerry also emphasized the U.S. would continue to press Cairo on human rights issues, like jailing journalists.

Kerry will travel to Qatar next for meetings about fighting ISIS and enforcing the Iran nuclear deal. Julie Kliegman

lions
12:10 p.m. ET
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force apologized Sunday for sharing false news Saturday of another notable lion's death, ABC News reports. The group initially reported that Jericho, a companion of Cecil, the lion who was reportedly shot and killed by an American dentist in early July, had also been killed.

"I have now discovered that he is alive and well," Johnny Rodrigues said. "The cubs are also doing well."

Cecil and Jericho were not brothers, as has been reported, but they did oversee two prides together. Zimbabwe has asked the U.S. to extradite Cecil's alleged hunter. Julie Kliegman

torture
11:29 a.m. ET
Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

If Donald Trump becomes president, he might bring back waterboarding as an interrogation tactic, he said Sunday on ABC's This Week.

"When you see the other side chopping off heads, waterboarding doesn't sound very severe," he told Jonathan Karl.

Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have both issued bans on using enhanced interrogation tactics on detainees, most notably at Guantánamo Bay.

In his interview, Trump also criticized Obama for not doing enough for African-Americans during his presidency. And at Thursday's GOP primary debate, he said doesn't plan on attacking his opponents. Place your bets now on how many minutes that promise might last. Julie Kliegman

Climate change
10:19 a.m. ET

The White House released a video Saturday night previewing President Obama's Monday announcement of a proposal to limit carbon pollution released by the nation's power plants.

BREAKING: On Monday, President Obama will release the final version of America's Clean Power Plan—the biggest, most important step we've ever taken to combat climate change. If you agree that we can't condemn our kids and grandkids to a planet that's beyond fixing, share this video with your friends and family. It's time to #ActOnClimate.

Posted by The White House on Saturday, August 1, 2015

The regulations proposed, tougher than those in a previous draft, will require 32 percent decreases from 2005 levels of carbon emissions by 2030. And at least 28 percent of a plant's generating power must come from renewable energy sources, NPR reports.

"Climate change is not a problem for another generation," Obama said. "Not anymore." Julie Kliegman

music to my ears
9:25 a.m. ET
Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images

Dr. Dre announced on his radio show Saturday he will release his first new album in 15 years, Rolling Stone reports. Compton: A Soundtrack, which he's releasing exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music Aug. 7, will feature artists including Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and the Game.

"I kept it under wraps, and now the album is finished," he said. "It's bananas. It's an 'inspired by' album. It's inspired by Straight Outta Compton."

Dre called the album his "grand finale." Julie Kliegman

$$$$$
9:13 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Puerto Rico defaulted Saturday, missing a $58 million debt payment on Public Finance Corporation bonds. Victor Suarez, the governor's chief of staff, said Friday the island only has enough money to operate until November if nothing is done to increase cash flow, Reuters reports.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced in June that Puerto Rico would need restructuring on an unpayable $72 billion in debt. The White House has said the U.S. will not bail out the territory. Julie Kliegman

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