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CARACAS, Venezuela—In October 2013, the Venezuelan government enacted a law by presidential decree to create the National Strategic Security and Protection Center (CESSPA), an organization designed to “unify the flow of information on sensitive strategic aspects of Security, Defense, Intelligence and Internal Order, and Foreign Affairs” in both the public and private sectors.

Within CESSPA’s organizational structure is the Directorate of Technological Studies and Information whose function, among others, is to process and analyze “information from the web.” The Directorate also analyzes the “events or actions that affect daily life and the politics of the State.”

CESSPA establishes mechanisms of prior censorship by possessing the ability to classify any information as secret without any judicial oversight.

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This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 12, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C, front) inspecting the command of Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 534. AFP PHOTO/KCNA via KNS

- AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Something amazing has taken place in Geneva. For the first time in the history of North Korea’s three-generation totalitarian rule, a United Nations body has acknowledged the regime’s massive abuses and pointed out UN members’ obligations to address those crimes.

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution urging North Korea’s human rights crisis be taken up at the UN Security Council and referred “to the appropriate international criminal justice mechanism,” which could include the International Criminal Court in the Hague or an ad hoc international tribunal.

The UN body’s resolution comes in response to the release of a special report by the UN Commission of Inquiry for North Korea, which was tasked by the Human Rights Council a year ago with investigating crimes against humanity in North Korea and making recommendations for justice and action.

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IN SPACE: In this NASA handout, a view of deepest view of the visible universe ever achieved are seen in a Hubble Telescope composite photograph released March 9, 2004. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) photograph is a composite of a million one-second exposures and reveals galaxies from the time shortly after the big bang.

- Getty Images

OWL’S HEAD, Maine — The really big story of the past month ended up as a one-day media splash: the almost certain confirmation of the Big Bang, or inflation theory, of the creation of our universe.

It barely made the front pages before slipping back into space.

But to the extent that this new scientific discovery does indeed "Reveal the Big Bang's Smoking Gun," as The New York Times headlined it, it's perhaps the biggest story of the no-longer-new century.

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) (R) and ranking member Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) hold a news conference at the U.S. Capitol March 27, 2014 in Washington, DC. Corker and Manandez answered reporters' questions after the Senate and House passed legislation giving help to cash-strapped Ukraine and imposing sanctions against Russia.

- GlobalPost

LOS ANGELES —The mismatch of power has been a key feature of the conflict over Crimea.

During the past few weeks, President Vladimir Putin has called the shots and Russia has looked effective and resolute. The take-over of Crimea occurred overnight and without a single casualty.

Domestic support in Russia has been overwhelming, and Moscow quickly capitalized on pro-Russia forces on the peninsula. In true Soviet style, turnout was strong for the referendum and nearly unanimous. Formal annexation was swift.

In contrast, Ukraine and it nominal allies in the West have been caught off guard and have been on the defensive as they seek to cobble together a meaningful and united response.

In addition to an imbalance of power, the conflict over Crimea also is being fought on two different playing fields.

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ISTANBUL, Turkey—On March 11, Berkin Elvan died after 269 days in a coma.

He was killed by a teargas canister shot by Turkish riot police. He was 15 years old, still a child. But for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, the boy was a terrorist.

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Pro-Russian protesters holds placards reading "No EU and NATO!" and "Libya, Syria, Ukraine" during a rally in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on March 23, 2014. Crimea's rebel leader urged Russians across Ukraine on Sunday to rise up against Kiev's rule and welcome Kremlin forces whose unrelenting march against his flashpoint peninsula has defied Western outrage.

- AFP/Getty Images

CAMBRIDGE — The Ukrainian revolution has revealed the European Union as the main driving force in advocating pro-Western change. Lasting political and economic change can emerge from Ukraine’s otherwise stalemated situation only with a strong role by the EU, rather than the United States.

Russia’s de facto annexation of Crimea shows that Moscow is largely immune to Western protests and financial sanctions against its officials or institutions.

Putting the EU in the front seat on the economic front would maximize Ukraine’s independence and stability in its difficult situation. The EU represents the most efficient permanent counter-incentive to Russia’s powerful financial reserves that threaten to pull Kyiv eastward into the Russian orbit.

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A Palestinian laborer works on a new housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa in east Jerusalem on March 19, 2014. Israel granted final approval for plans to build another 186 new homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, a city councillor told AFP, drawing an angry reaction from the Palestinians.

- AFP/Getty Images

OWL’S HEAD, Maine – With the Russian take-over of the Crimea and the bizarre Malaysian flight mystery, it takes more than the third anniversary of the start of Syria's civil war or Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visiting the White House to re-focus anyone's attention back to the Middle East.

Fair enough: a miscalculation or two in the eastern Ukraine could create the kind of international crisis for which the world is unprepared.

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A man fills a jerry can with clean water on World Water Day March 22, 2014 in Surabaya, Indonesia. World Water Day recognizes the global need for water and energy conservation.

- Getty Images

GRANTHAM, Pennsylvania — The availability of and access to clean water is one of the major issues of our time. While tremendous strides have been made globally to increase access to clean water, making water available to people with disabilities remains an often-overlooked problem.

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The five star Kabul Serena Hotel opened in November 2005.

- Getty Images

This should have been a happy holiday weekend in Kabul, as residents mark the feast of Nawroz, the start of the new Muslim year. It is now 1393.

Normally on these days the streets are mobbed with gaily dressed families going to visit their relatives, where they eat an assortment of nuts and raisins, accompanied by cakes and cookies, all washed down by endless cups of green tea.

Not this year.

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In this picture taken on May 15, 2012 Congolese national and former militia chief Germain Katanga looks on during the closing statements in his and fellow former militia chief Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui's trial, at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Former Congolese militia chiefs Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga claimed they were innocent of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on May 23, 2012.

- AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The judgment against Congolese former rebel commander Germain Katanga marked a milestone for the International Criminal Court (ICC).

For the first time in its 12 years, the court ruled on charges of sexual violence, although the result was disappointing, barely a whimper.

The ICC found Katanga guilty of crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder and pillage in the eastern Congolese village of Bogoro. It acquitted him on all charges of rape and sexual slavery.

Katanga’s conviction is an important step toward greater accountability for mass atrocity. But his acquittal of rape and sexual slavery reinforces a long-standing gap in international criminal justice and signals a hard truth that extends beyond what happened in Bogoro: the court is failing to adequately address sexual and gender-based crimes.

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