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Just a year ago, it appeared that rebel forces would topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But this week, the rebels have lost control of several cities and Assad now appears to be planning for re-election. It appears that three years of civil war won't be over any time soon. Also, could a diplomatic pact ease conflict in Ukraine? On today's Talking Point, 15 months on the job and $58 million in severance pay.

Banner image: A survivor sits on the rubble of collapsed buildings at a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Sakhour district March 6, 2014. Photo: Hosam Katan/Reuters

Could Diplomatic Pact Ease Conflict in Ukraine? 7 MIN, 49 SEC

In Geneva today, the US, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union agreed on what they called "concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens. Secretary of State John Kerry said he expected Russia to insist that pro-Russian separatists they've been supporting to "lay down their arms, leave the buildings, and pursue their political objectives through the Constitutional processes that the agreement guarantees." Andrew Weiss, who dealt with Ukraine and Russia at the State Department and the National Security Council during the Clinton and Bush Administrations, is Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment.

Andrew S. Weiss, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (@andrewsweiss)

Is Syria on the Way to Becoming a Failed State? 35 MIN, 24 SEC

After three years of civil war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claims a "turning point" in what he calls his "war against terror" has now paved the way to his re-election. Sure enough, his army, backed by Hezbollah, has re-taken important rebel strongholds, including the ancient Christian town of Maaloula and and three towns along the Lebanese border. However, the restoration of order is a distant dream. The death toll is 150,000; 2.5 million refugees have flooded neighboring countries and seven million have been displaced within Syria itself. We hear about chemical weapons, the international proxy war, and civilians faced with the choice of death by bullets or by starvation.

Aryn Baker, Time (@arynebaker)
Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Association (@armscontrolnow)
Amr Al-Azm, Shawnee State University (@alazmamr)
Salman Shaikh, Brookings Doha Center (@Salman_Shaikh1)

Arms Control Association on timeline of Syrian chemical weapons activity
Baker on Assad's claim of a turning point in Syria's civil war
UN-Arab League Envoy Brahimi urges fresh talks with besieged Syrians, authorities

Ousted Yahoo Exec Gets $58 Million 'Golden Parachute' 7 MIN, 36 SEC

When Marissa Mayer became Yahoo's CEO, she lured her former colleague at Google, Henrique De Castro, to join her as Chief Operating Officer. Fifteen months later, she fired him, saying he was not a good "fit" after all. His severance package: $58 million. Did he earn his "golden parachute" after just 15 months of work? What does it say about the health of Yahoo, a major player in the high-flying world of communications technology? Felix Salmon, who blogs on finance for Reuters, picks up the story.

Felix Salmon, Host of the Slate Money podcast, WIRED (@felixsalmon)

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