Midday Roundup: Her body's in Sochi, her heart is in Ukraine

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 2/20/14, 12:52 pm

In protest. Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska has withdrawn from the Olympics to protest the deaths of anti-government protesters in her country. The 24-year-old skier will miss out on Friday’s slalom, which is her third and best event. Matsotska said the bloodshed in her home country has caused her too much anxiety to ski. She wants to return to Ukraine and join protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square, but has not been able to book a flight home.

Sochi riot. The Russian band Pussy Riot posted a music video with footage of them performing-slash-protesting at the Sochi Olympics. Song lyrics featured in the video accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of using the Winter Games to increase the use of strong-arm tactics against anti-government dissidents. “The Olympics has turned the police state into a total police state and the authoritarian regime into a totalitarian regime with preventive arrests,” band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said. Pussy Riot members were detained several times during their visit to the Olympics, and on Wednesday militia members attacked the group with horsewhips as they tried to perform under an Olympic sign.

Death on the high seas. The ship from the movie Captain Phillips encountered tragedy again this week when two American security officers were found dead onboard. The company that owns the vessel Maersk Alabama said yesterday that the men’s deaths were “not related to vessel operations or their duties as security personnel.” The ship’s hijacking by Somali pirates in 2009 was dramatized in the 2013 film. The Associated Press learned that one of the security officers who died this week was a former Navy SEAL. The deaths are still under investigation.

Pipeline shutout. A Nebraska judge ruled yesterday that state officials were out-of-line when they performed legal maneuvers to approve the Keystone XL pipeline’s route through their state. The ruling means Nebraska lawmakers have to take the long way to get eminent domain over land on which the pipeline would run. Landowners sued to keep the Keystone XL off their property. It is being built by TransCanada Corp. to carry oil from Canada to refineries in Texas. Meanwhile, the decision on a federal permit for the northern leg of the route still rests with President Barack Obama, who so far has refused to approve it.

Buy out. Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp received mixed reviews from Wall Street this morning. The exorbitant price tag far exceeds those of previous deals such as Facebook’s purchase of Instagram for more than $1 billion or Microsoft’s $8.5 billion purchase of Skype. Facebook shares slipped slightly Thursday morning with investors skeptical of the move. But there’s no doubt WhatsApp is a promising startup. It has 450 million users (dwarfing Twitter’s base of 240 million) and only 55 employees.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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