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If you write a novel set in the little-known Crimean region of Ukraine, what do you do when your setting is overtaken by world events? We talk to a novelist about his experience in Crimea. And we talk to a Russian news media specialist about Putin cracking down on independent news outlets not touting the party line on events in Ukraine. We do our weekly roundup on film: Veronica Mars, Need for Speed, Bad Words... We’ve been reporting on the funeral industry. Today, a “death doula” talks about taking funerals out of the professional mortuary and back into the home. Finally, the mystery of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 continues. We look at the latest in the six-day long search.

Banner Image Credit: calflier001

Crimea Author 8 MIN, 51 SEC

Writer David Bezmozgis has been working for a while on a present-day novel about a place most Americans traditionally don’t know much about: an area of Ukraine called Crimea. Now, with the world’s attention on that particular hot spot, everything has changed for him.

David Bezmozgis, Writer (@dbezmozgis)

Putin's Media Crackdown 7 MIN, 56 SEC

The editor of a popular Russian news website was fired this week because it ran an interview with a pro-Ukrainian Nationalist. That editor has been replaced with someone who used to work for a pro-Kremlin publication. This is just the latest example of how Russian President Vladimir Putin is cracking down on any media organizations that don’t tout the party line. The number of independent news outlets is shrinking fast.

Stephen Ennis, BBC Monitoring

Fast Cars, Mean Birds, and Rude Adults 9 MIN, 21 SEC

Today on our Friday film roundup, we look at the Michael Bay’s controversial reboot of The Birds, the much-anticipated Veronica Mars movie, and Jason Bateman’s spelling-bee comedy about a bitter man who’s mean to kids.

Christy Lemire, What The Flick?! (@christylemire)
Kristian Harloff, Schmoes Know (@KristianHarloff)

The Business of Death: Death Doulas 15 MIN, 41 SEC

We are reporting on the business of death. Yesterday, in the first part of our series, we examined the multi-billion-dollar funeral industry. That industry came about when funerals were taken out of the home and professionalized.  But these days there are people bringing the funeral back home, and often they are presided over by someone called a “death doula.”

Caitlin Doughty, Mortician (@TheGoodDeath)

Missing Jet Update 5 MIN, 49 SEC

Six days ago, Malaysia Airlines flight 370, flying with 239 passengers from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared. The mystery surrounding what happened to the flight continues to deepen. Each day seems to bring a different theory.

Andy Pasztor, Wall Street Journal (@@WSJ)

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