Newsweek Mar-21-14

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United States
The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
37 号


the cure could kill you

It was spring 1979 in Sverdlovsk, Russia, a large industrial city straddling the border of Europe and Asia in what was then the Soviet Union. Without warning, 96 residents became ill, with symptoms similar to a severe flu: fever and chills, sore throat and headaches, with some nausea and vomiting. Just the usual one-week flu...except in this case, many of the people who got sick-at least 64-died within six weeks. In the months following this alarming turn, Soviet medical, veterinary and legal journals all attributed the illnesses to an outbreak of anthrax originating in livestock raised south of the city. Government officials concurred, announcing that anyone who had contracted anthrax either ate contaminated meat or handled animals infected with the disease (the bacteria cannot be spread from person to person). Anthrax, however,…

the $500,000,000 cyber-heist

It was one of the biggest heists in history, fleecing halfa-billion dollars from people around the globe, and almost no one—except a small group of thieves, their confederates and the white-hat computer sleuths chasing them through cyberspace—knew it was taking place. In January, federal investigators announced that Aleksandr Andreevich Panin, a Russian national who was the mastermind behind the crimes, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. Panin's capture was far more than just another tale of a crook who found illicit riches online. His case reveals many alarming details of a lawless underground flourishing in the darkest corners of the Internet, where hackers peddle off-the-shelf software that, for as little as a few thousand dollars, allows even the most unsophisticated computer novice to start emptying the bank accounts of…

wolves descend on crimea

When Vladimir Putin gave his first press conference since the Ukraine crisis began, he oddly said there were no Russian troops in Crimea—aside from those who were already stationed at a Russian Navy base. The armed men outside administration buildings and airports are not Russian soldiers, Putin claimed—these are “self-organized local forces of volunteers.” Putin may be delusional—German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently remarked he had lost the plot—but he has a valid point. There are self-organized volunteers in Crimea. Some have arrived via social media—one Web page, the Civil Defense of Ukraine (“Russian Get Up!”) on Vkontakte, the Facebook of Russia, already has 7,000 followers. It encourages men, ages 18 to 45, to rush to the Crimea to defend Russian values. But Serbian Chetniks, led by a former Kosovo war fighter named Milutin Malisic…

when in rome

There's a new man in Rome who believes he can accomplish a miracle: end Italy's dysfunctional politics and breathe new life into its moribund economy. But Matteo Renzi, Italy's 39-year-old new prime minister, is not God, even if he likes to joke about it. So who exactly is this Italian wunderkind who will welcome President Barack Obama when he visits Italy at the end of the month? What does he think? And—importantly in a country that has had nearly 70 governments in the seven decades since the Fascists were overthrown in 1943—will he last? Renzi has already proved himself to be hyperactive, a workaholic and Twitter-addicted. Two minutes after he was handed the mandate to form a new cabinet he tweeted an enthusiastic “Here I am, here I am!” His tweets often precede official…

tinker, tailor, pastor, spy

In a dreary office in Frankfurt (Oder) on Germany's border with Poland, forensic experts are painstakingly reassembling thin strips of shredded paper. They've already remade more than 1,500 pages left in sacks by the Stasi secret police as they hurriedly tried to destroy evidence of wrongdoing as East Germany collapsed. What the experts found was a spy story so exotic it stands out even in the colorful annals of Cold War espionage: a pan-European pastor-spy. Meet Aleksander Radler. “He would have been the ideal spy for Markus Wolf [East Germany's chief of foreign espionage],” explains Rüdiger Sielaff, head of the Frankfurt branch of the BStU, the federal agency in charge of Stasi files. “Instead he spent a career as an elite informer for the Stasi's church division, a 24-year stint that included…

and we’ll never be royals

When President Barack Obama lands in Saudi Arabia for a state visit the last week of March, he will find a region markedly different from the Persian Gulf of even a month ago, when his aides announced the trip. The visit was initially designed to mend fences with the Saudis, who claim leadership of the Sunni Arab world and, like other Gulf states, are upset about the thaw between Washington and Shiite Iran. The president hopes to smooth relations with one of America's oldest allies in the Middle East and to better explain his Iran diplomacy to Riyadh and its neighbors. But now there are many new and-surprisingly, for the ultraconservative region-even young power players in the Gulf. And enmities between the kingdoms, emirates and sheikdoms are bubbling to the surface…