Foreign affairs
March 15, 2014
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Oh, what a difference a month makes, writes Greg Myre as part of a crash course on how a country changes its borders.

Disputed peninsula Crimea, a part of Ukraine last month, is now a day and a referendum vote away from seceding to join Russia. Legality and Western warnings aside, "this is the first time since 1945 when a great power has changed, or is about to change, Europe's borders by force," Josef Joffe, editor of German newspaper Die Zeit, told NPR.

Myre categorizes those boundary shifts into three types: Breakaway territories, amicable divorces, and disputes spanning generations. (Spoiler: Amicable divorces are the most desirous and also, of course, the rarest.) The situation in Crimea obviously does not fall under the "amicable" umbrella. Will the region vote to secede on Sunday and be subsequently recognized (albeit grudgingly) as a part of Russia? Or will Crimea remain a disputed region for the foreseeable future? Much may depend on whether Russia honors the results of the referendum.

But as Kiev claims Russian troops took control on Saturday of a Ukrainian area not part of the Crimean peninsula, that path looks doubtful.

Read Myre's entire analysis over at NPR. Sarah Eberspacher

12:42 a.m. ET

In Moldova, criminal networks have made at least four attempts over the past five years to sell radioactive material, including bomb-grade uranium, The Associated Press reports.

During its investigation, AP found that while many middlemen have been arrested, their bosses have all escaped. A small group of Moldovan investigators trained by the U.S. government to break up the nuclear black market worked on the cases, including Constantin Malic. Malic told AP that in 2010, authorities were able to get a sawed-off piece of a depleted uranium cylinder that they believe may have been from Chernobyl (it ended up not being highly toxic). "We can expect more of these cases," he said. "As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without being caught, they will keep doing it."

In one case, a former KGB informant named Teodor Chetrus called one of Malic's sources, and said he was looking for a Middle Eastern buyer to purchase uranium. He was a middleman who hated the West, Malic said, and proclaimed "multiple times that this substance must have a real buyer from the Islamic states to make a dirty bomb." The informant made a deal to sell the bomb-grade uranium to a "buyer in the Middle East," AP says, but Chetrus wanted to ensure he was not an undercover agent. His boss was a man named Alexandr Agheenco, who lived in the Moldovan breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester. Agheenco decided not to sell the uranium all at once, instead dispensing 10-gram samples for €320,000 ($360,000) a pop. Agheenco gave his wife, Galina, the job of arranging a handoff of the uranium to Chetrus in Moldova. Police were waiting, and arrested Chetrus and Galina Agheenco after Chetrus took the uranium package she left in her Lexus; a Trans-Dniester police officer who smuggled the uranium to Galina Agheenco escaped and along with Agheenco, was untouchable in Trans-Dniester.

Tests found that the uranium was high-grade material that could be used in a nuclear bomb, and when Malic searched Chetrus' house, he found plans for a dirty bomb and evidence that Chetrus was working on a separate deal with an actual buyer (this deal with a Sudanese doctor was later broken up by a sting operation). Galina Agheenco received a sentence of three years in prison because she had a young son, and Chetrus was sentenced to five years; Galina Agheenco's sentence is up, and Chetrus was released early in December 2014. Catherine Garcia

Late Night Tackles 2016
12:35 a.m. ET

Jay Leno is back on the air with a new show about cars, but does he miss telling jokes every weeknight, especially in this bumper crop of a presidential campaign? He didn't say on Tuesday's Tonight Show, but he seemed to enjoy himself when he tagged in during Jimmy Fallon's monologue. If you've missed Leno, he's still Leno: One of his jokes was about the GOP contest coming down to Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, "like a race between the tortoise and the bad hair." He really got into the moment when he started a series of old-timey "the economy is so bad..." jokes — and his enthusiasm was apparently infectious, because Fallon jumped in, too. Watch below. Peter Weber

Coffee or Bust
12:10 a.m. ET
Craig Mitchelldyer/Getty Images

The overlap between fans of Peet's Coffee & Tea, the Berkeley coffee stalwart known for its dark-roast blends, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the Portland upstart that made lightly roasted single-origin beans fashionable, is probably not huge (though larger than the overlap between Peet's and Dunkin Donuts partisans, surely). Starbucks, the Seattle coffee juggernaut, reacted to Stumptown and its light-roast peers by developing a "blonde roast" line. On Tuesday, Peet's announced it is simply buying Stumptown, for an undisclosed amount.

Stumptown and Peet's both say customers won't really notice any difference — you won't find Stumptown beans in Peet's stores or vice versa. But if Stumptown fans are concerned that their favorite roaster is selling out to a corporate giant like Peet's, well, that's only partly true: Peet's is majority owned by a secretive German family and its investment company in Luxembourg, JAB Holdings Co., that also has a majority stake in Caribou Coffee. The upside for Stumptown drinkers is that the coffee — and especially its bottled cold brew, which is what drew Peet's attention — will probably become available in more markets. The downside: If you want to drink local, well, that Starbucks on the corner at least sends its money to Seattle. Peter Weber

el faro
October 6, 2015

Friends and family of the El Faro crew say they are confident their loved ones will soon be found safe.

The U.S. Coast Guard is still searching for survivors of the cargo ship, which sank last week during Hurricane Joaquin. The remains of one unidentified crew member have been found, but there are 32 others who are still missing, many from the Jacksonville, Florida, area, the Miami Herald reports. TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, which owns the ship, has not publicly named the 28 Americans and five Poles who worked on El Faro, but at least 15 have been identified in the media. Lonnie Jordan, 33, was a cook who "loves sailing," his grandmother, Faye Cummings, told the Florida Times-Union. She said her family was upset that the El Faro went out knowing about Joaquin. "It's in God's hands," she said, "but we feel like they made the wrong decision."

Danielle Randolph, 34, was second mate, and sent her mother, Laurie Bobillot, an email from the ship, The Washington Post reports. "Not sure if you've been following the weather at all," she wrote, "but there is a hurricane out here and we are heading straight into it. Winds are super bad and seas are not great." Bobillot said her daughter knew at an "extremely young age she wanted to work on the ocean." Deb Roberts, whose son Michael Holland, 25, was an engineer on the ship, started a Facebook page called "Making waves for Mike: Bring the El faro crew home safely." Thousands of people have shared memories of Holland, including his best friend Corey Wells, who wrote: "I REFUSE to believe that he is doing anything short of everything that he can to make it home. Hope is not lost. He WILL make it back!" Catherine Garcia

from the archives
October 6, 2015

In May of 1968, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy called for stricter gun control measures during a campaign stop in Roseburg, Oregon — the same town where a gunman killed nine people at Umpqua Community College last Thursday.

CBS News shared a clip Tuesday from the May 25, 1968, edition of CBS Evening News, with anchor Walter Cronkite saying Kennedy was answering "criticism from those who say legislation would deny Constitutional guarantees on the right to possess arms." Kennedy told the crowd that it was too easy for some people, like convicted murderers, to obtain guns through mail orders.

"A man on death row in Kansas, who killed half a dozen people, someone there sent for a rifle through the mail from Chicago for him to have a rifle while he was waiting on death row after killing people, and the rifle was sent to him," he said. "Does that make any sense that you should put rifles and guns in the hands of people who have long criminal records, people who are insane, people who are mentally incompetent, or people who are so young they don't know how to handle rifles or guns?" Kennedy was assassinated two weeks later in Los Angeles. Catherine Garcia

October 6, 2015

Russia says that its warplanes accidentally violated Turkey's air space over the weekend due to weather conditions, but NATO said Tuesday it rejected the explanation.

The Russian Defense Ministry claims an SU-30 warplane entered Turkish air space along the border with Syria "for a few seconds" on Saturday due to bad weather. NATO said a plane also entered Turkish air space Sunday, an incident that Russia said it is looking into. U.S. officials told Reuters the planes were in Turkish air space for much longer than a few seconds, and it was "far-fetched" to say it was accidental. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he would not speculate on Russia's motives, "but this does not look like an accident and we have two of them." He also said there are reports of a substantial increase in the number of Russian ships in the eastern Mediterranean and ground troops in Syria. Catherine Garcia

the sky's the limit
October 6, 2015

Putting LAX and JFK to shame, the most posh airport in the world opened up at Paris' Grand Palais on Tuesday.

For Chanel's aviation-themed show at Paris Fashion Week, Karl Lagerfeld pulled out all the stops, recreating an entire airport complete with check-in desks for Chanel Airlines, an electronic passenger information board, rows of lounge chairs, and baggage carts emblazoned with the Chanel logo. The runway show took place in Terminal No. 5 (a nod to the brand's famed perfume), and Lagerfeld told The Associated Press, as he drank mineral water delivered on a silver platter, that the inspiration was "travel, long-distance travel to every destination."

It was interesting timing, as French union activists involved in a labor dispute ripped the suit jackets and shirts off of two Air France executives earlier in the day in another part of Paris. Lagerfeld said the thought of changing the show because of the protests never crossed his mind. "These shows are planned six months in advance," he told AP. "[Chanel's] an oracle of the times, but it takes months and months and months. Not 24 hours." Catherine Garcia

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