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A blog devoted to on-the-ground reporting around the world.

By invading Crimea, Putin united Ukraine instead of Russia

Commentary: Putin has brought out an unparalleled strength against corruption within the Ukrainian nation. Ironically, the very same national strength he desperately seeks to foster within Russia.
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A Ukrainian student shouts slogans during a nationalist and pro-unity rally in the eastern city of Lugansk on April 17, 2014. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today announced a deal had been reached with Ukraine, the US and the EU to "de-escalate" dangerously high tensions in the former Soviet republic. (DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON — Vladimir Putin has been described as many things: tyrant, autocrat, villain, gangster. Few would call him a unifier. But by annexing Crimea that is exactly the role he has played in Ukraine.

Putin invaded Ukraine in part to embolden Russian national sentiment. The Russian president has suppressed any remnants of an independent press, revved up the state-sponsored PR machine, which churns out vicious propaganda in support of increasingly irredentist foreign policy.

He has justified the forced annexation of Crimea as a move to protect ethnic Russians, portraying the Euromaidan, the wave of demonstrations, civil unrest and revolution in Ukraine, as radical fascists sponsored by the United States government. But rather than expose the duplicity of Kyiv, his lies have revealed the truth about Ukraine.

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Generation TBD: An America full of Detroits

Dismal times for many young people seeking opportunities in post-industrial cities.

Editor's note: This story is part of a GroundTruth project we call "Generation TBD," a year-long effort that brings together media, technology, education and humanitarian partners for an authoritative, global exploration of the youth unemployment crisis. GroundTruth reporting fellows Eleanor Stanford and Saila Huusko, a Brit and a Finn, are traveling the American East.

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US and Saudi Arabia drift apart

Analysis: Syria, Iran, Egypt and oil are pushing the two countries apart, as President Obama's recent trip to the kingdom showed.
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US President Barack Obama waves as he boards Air Force One prior to his departure from Rome to Riyadh on March 28, 2014. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

RIYADH — President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia was low-key, business-like and bereft of scenes that would indicate the country’s almost 70-year-old special relationship with Washington is back on an even keel.

Obama was not received at the airport by a senior prince. The president and King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz were not seen in unscripted moments such as the hand-in-hand walk that then-Crown Prince Abdullah once took with former US President George W. Bush. 

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How poetry saved two young women's lives — one in Peru, one in Los Angeles

Two teenagers from opposite sides of the world began writing poetry to cope with difficult situations in their lives. That poetry brought them together.
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Senna, in production of "Girl Rising" (10x10act/YouTube)

NEW YORK — Poetry changed Senna’s life.

She wrote her first poem at age 10, she said, because “I could tell my notebook what I wanted to say. … I imagined that my book and my notebook told me, ‘You can do it! You can do it!’”

Unbenounced to her, halfway across the world, someone else was writing poetry for the same reason. 

“I started to write because the paper was the only person I could talk to,” said Marquesha Babers, 18, from Los Angeles. “Poetry has actually saved my life.”

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Generation TBD: Tunisia's revolutionary rappers

In post-revolution Tunisia, a generation of young people facing an unemployment rate above 30 percent are expressing their frustrations through hip hop.
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(Natalie Keyssar/GlobalPost)

Editor's note: This story is part of a GroundTruth project we call "Generation TBD," a year-long effort that brings together media, technology, education and humanitarian partners for an authoritative, global exploration of the youth unemployment crisis.

TUNIS, Tunisia — Hamzaoui Med Amine’s home neighborhood of Ariana, a roughshod working-class district near the Tunis airport, is the setting for the music video of the now nationally ubiquitous song Houmani, performed by Amine and his vocalist partner Kafon.

The video depicts Tunisia’s urban poor, picking through used clothing stands, sipping espresso and smoking cigarettes. Leathery-skinned women wrapped in black headscarves smile into the camera, their crooked teeth and wandering eyes intimately displayed.

Houmani has racked up millions of views on YouTube, and the song’s relentless drum & bass track can be simultaneously heard blasting from cell phones, car stereos and corner store radios.

The song’s popularity owes to its frank illustration of life for Tunisia’s majority, with lyrics about the joblessness, dirty streets, cramped living conditions and worn infrastructure in working-class neighborhoods throughout the country.

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Expectations: A mother-to-be heads to Brazil to report

Deputy editor of global health Marissa Miley is reporting in Brazil to better understand how women experience pregnancy and childbirth.
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(Emily Judem/GlobalPost)

SÃO PAULO, Brazil – “How are you feeling?” is a question I get a lot these days.

It’s the first one my doctor asks when I sit down on the examination table. It’s often the first that friends and family ask as soon as we hug hello. And it’s certainly the first that anyone asks – a colleague in the elevator, a neighbor on the plane, a fellow guest at a party – when they confirm that I am, indeed, pregnant.

As a journalist covering health, this is an unfamiliar exchange. I’m usually the one asking others how they are feeling. But pregnancy has flipped many of my usual habits on their heads.

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Remembering Anja Niedringhaus, AP photographer and Nieman Fellow

Niedringhaus infused her Nieman class of 2006 with a joy of life after covering fighting for more than 20 years. On Friday she was murdered in Afghanistan.
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A Palestinian girl named Ayat, 10, the niece of Billal Nabham, reacts after he was found dead in the rubble of one of the houses destroyed during Israel's army operation in Gaza on January 19, 2009. This image is one of so many taken by photographer Anja Niedringhaus that depicts human suffering brought about by war and conflict. Niedringhaus was killed in Afghanistan on Friday, April 4, 2014. (Anja Niedringhaus/AFP/Getty Images)

There is a generation of war correspondents out there, and every fall a few of them arrive at Harvard University as part of the Nieman Foundation’s fellowship. They come from assignments in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere and many land with a sense of unease.

They are veterans of covering combat who typically use this special moment in their lives to sort out their experiences, dig for deeper understanding of the chaos they chronicle and struggle with personal decisions whether to return to far-flung conflicts, to once again bear witness to the tragedy of war.

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Millennials learn to answer the dreaded question: 'So... what do you do?'

Amidst rising youth unemployment around the globe, young people struggle to find where they fit in society.
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(Natalie Keyssar/GlobalPost)

Editor's note: This story is part of a GroundTruth project we call "Generation TBD," a year-long effort that brings together media, technology, education and humanitarian partners for an authoritative, global exploration of the youth unemployment crisis. Tik Root is a 2014 GroundTruth fellow working on this project. He will be reporting on youth unemployment in Spain this spring. 

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International House conference finds Americans really do care about global news

The question that remains, journalists at the New York City conference concluded, is when and how international stories should be told.
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International media await the arrival of a RAAF C17 Globemaster aircraft carrying a Navy Seahawk helicopter at the RAAF base in Bullsbrook on March 28, 2014 in Perth, Australia. (Will Russell/Getty Images)

NEW YORK—Contrary to popular belief, newsmakers agree that Americans care about international news stories, but what journalists can’t agree on is when and how international stories should be covered.

At a forum Monday hosted by International House, with generous financial support from the Ford Foundation, some of the most influential names in news making discussed what is not being covered by the media and why?

“Anyone who has worked for a major news organization knows the litany of complaints you constantly receive from folks who feel like we aren’t covering the news or not covering it fairly,” moderator and International House President Calvin Sims said in his opening remarks.

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Generation TBD: A dispatch from the belly of Brazil's youth movement

Protestors say their generation finally has a voice with which to express frustration and disenfranchisement, at a time when they don't feel represented by political structures, parties or unions.
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Protesters in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Thursday, March 27. (Corinne Chin/GlobalPost)

Editor’s Note: Corinne Chin is currently in Brazil on a reporting fellowship for The GroundTruth Project in which 10 teams of top, young journalists in ten different countries are working together on a Special Report titled “Generation TBD: How millennials are facing an uncertain global economy.” Their work will be published over the next six months on GlobalPost and the fellows will be providing updates from their reporting in the field on PRI’s The World. The project is funded by The Ford Foundation and will culminate with an October 24 conference on the issue of rising youth unemployment at International House in New York.

SAO PAULO, Brazil –The waves of protesters arrived slowly and steadily Thursday night to Praça do Ciclista, a scant stretch of paved median running through São Paulo’s bustling Paulista Avenue.

More than one thousand youth, most of them in their 20s, were arriving to the rally via unreliable and overcrowded trains and buses, a failing public transportation system that was in fact the focus of this anti-World Cup demonstration, the latest in a series that continue to mount as the international tournament nears.

The protesters are intent on highlighting the disparity between the funding going toward the marquee global events of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, to be hosted in Brazil, and what they feel is the inadequate funding for Brazil’s failing infrastructure for education, health care and transportation.

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