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Monday, Apr 21st

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Massive cyberattacks slam official sites in Russia, Ukraine

cyber attacks on Russia and UkraineThe back-and-forth volley of cyberattacks that began last week between Ukraine and Russia hit its highest pitch yet Monday, with Russian websites slammed by an onslaught designed to flood websites until they become unusable.

The open cyber flareup began last Thursday when attacks clearly originating in Russia targeted an unidentified computer network in Ukraine. The next day, a powerful attack temporarily knocked out websites for the Kremlin, the Russian central bank, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry, though Russian authorities said the attack had nothing to do with the Ukraine crisis.

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U.S. closes Syrian embassy in Washington, D.C.

Syrian embassing closedThe Obama administration ordered the Syrian government on Tuesday to suspend its diplomatic and consular missions in the United States, requiring all personnel who are not legal U.S residents to leave the country.

The order, three years after the start of Syria’s bloody civil war, essentially shutters the Syrian embassy in Washington and its honorary consulates in Troy, Mich., and Houston, Texas. It comes in response to a decision by President Bashar Assad’s government to suspend consular services for Syrians living in the U.S.

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Putin signs treaty for Crimea to join Russia

PutinWith a historic sweep of his pen, President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty Tuesday to annex Crimea, describing the move as correcting past injustice and a necessary response to what he called Western encroachment upon Russia’s vital interests.

In an emotional 40-minute speech that was televised live from the Kremlin, Putin said “in people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia.”

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White House sanctions 11 Russian government officials in wake of Crimea

CrimeaThe White House announced Monday it has expanded sanctions against Russia, looking to further isolate the country for intervening in Ukraine.

The new executive order expands one that Obama signed less than two weeks ago by authorizing Treasury -- in consultation with the Secretary of State -- to impose sanctions on named officials of the Russian government, "any individual or entity that operates in the Russian arms industry, and any designated individual or entity that acts on behalf of, or that provides material or other support to, any senior Russian government official."

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US ships arms to aid fight against Islamist militants in Iraq

US sends arms to IraqThe US embassy to Iraq says the United States has delivered 100 Hellfire missiles, along with assault rifles and ammunition, as part of its anti-terrorism assistance to the country.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the embassy said the delivery was made earlier this month in order to help bolster Iraq forces fighting a breakaway al-Qaida group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

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Russia media: Crimea votes 93 percent to quit Ukraine

Crimea voteRussian state media said Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break with Ukraine and join Russia on Sunday, as Kiev accused Moscow of pouring forces into the peninsula and warned separatist leaders "the ground will burn under their feet".

RIA news agency said 93 percent backed annexation, citing an exit poll released as voting ended at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT). Another Russian agency said turnout was over 80 percent.

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Thousands in Japan protest nuclear power, conditions at Fukushima

Japan anti nuclear protestThousands of people in Tokyo have rallied against nuclear power as the government and utilities prepare to restart reactors in southern Japan.

More than 5,000 protesters gathered at Hibiya Park in Tokyo on Saturday to pressure the government not to restart the country's nuclear power stations.

"Japan is prone to earthquakes. We have to seriously think about whether nuclear power is a good idea for Japan," said protester Masatoshi Harada. "This is an opportunity for Japan to drop nuclear power."

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