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Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws made headlines before the Sochi Olympics. We’ll hear how dangerous life can be for Russian gays and lesbians. Also, Syrian peace talks resume and new websites that look at first like they're promoting Democrats turn out to be doing just the reverse.

Banner Image: A placard showing Russian President Vladimir Putin next to the words "Love always wins" is seen on a rainbow flag during a protest in Madrid against Russia's anti-gay laws ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Making News In Homs, Respite from Siege Provides Little Relief 7 MIN, 44 SEC

Syrian peace talks resumed today in Geneva—with no face-to-face negotiations yet between dissidents and the government. Meantime this weekend’s three-day humanitarian cease-fire in the City of Homs did not provide the moment of relief hoped for by trapped civilians. That’s according to Ben Hubbard, who’s in Antakya, Turkey for the New York Times.

Ben Hubbard, New York Times (@NYTBen)

Main Topic Homophobia and Gay Rights in Putin's Russia 35 MIN, 13 SEC

The Sochi Olympics have focused attention on Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws, but homophobia runs deep in Russia and elsewhere around the world. Putin is not the only autocratic leader targeting gays to mobilize political supporters, sometimes to the point of deadly violence. And, increased approval of same-sex marriage in the US and parts of Europe is cited as evidence that the powerful West is “decadent.” Today we’ll hear what it’s like to be gay in Moscow—and what’s likely to happen when the Games in Sochi are over. Will pro-gay demonstrations have an impact in Russia? What about Africa? Will they make life even more dangerous for gays and lesbians?

A photograph in the latest GQ magazine shows two men kissing with a Russian church in the background. The caption says, “What the two men… are doing is now illegal in Russia.” The article is called, “Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia.” We speak to the author Jeff Sharlet, an English professor at Dartmouth College and a fellow with the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund.

Jeffrey Sharlet, Dartmouth College (@JeffSharlet)
Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic (@juliaioffe)
Rebecca Parks, Human Rights Campaign (@HRC)
Ajibola Adigun, advocate for liberal reforms in Nigeria

Today's Talking Point Republicans Set Up Fake Sites for Democratic Congressional Candidates 8 MIN, 2 SEC

New websites that look at first like they’re promoting Democrats turn out to be just the reverse. When users hit Donate, they contribute to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Democrats say it’s illegal; Republicans say it’s all part of the game in the digital age.

If a prospective voter searches online for New York Democrat Domenic Recchia, the first site that comes up headlines, “Domenic Recchia for Congress.” But the fine print goes on to describe him as “shady,” and a “career politician” with ties to “mobsters.” That’s not what you’d expect from www.domenic-recchia.com/ — and sure enough it’s been planted by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Shane Goldmacher is Congressional Correspondent for the National Journal.

Shane Goldmacher, Politico (@ShaneGoldmacher)

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