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May 19, 2014
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Russian President Vladimir Putin's office said Monday that Putin had ordered all Russian troops purportedly conducting military exercises along Ukraine's eastern border to return to their bases. NATO tells Reuters that, as with the previous times Russia has said it is pulling back, the Western military alliance has seen no evidence of Russia's 40,000 troops along the border returning to their barracks.

Putin's office said the troops are pulling back simply because spring training exercises are done. Few people outside Russia are buying that, but the speculation for Putin's motives runs the gamut. The New York Times' David M. Herszenhorn suggests that Putin is softening his stance to get off on the right foot with the heavily favored candidate in next Sunday's presidential election in Ukraine: Billionaire confection magnate Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine's pro-West Chocolate King who also had stints in the cabinets of the past two presidents, including the recently ousted Viktor Yanukovych.

"The reasoning on Poroshenko is that he is a pragmatist and he was in the Yanukovych government," the Atlantic Council's Adrian Karatnycky tells The New York Times. "He is a person who is a dealmaker. From that point of view, it may mean that Putin is willing to give it a chance of trying to get something out of this." Also, Poroshenko's company has extensive commercial ties to Russia. Peter Weber

1:40 p.m. ET

Don't panic, but Twitter might shake up your reverse chronological feed as soon as next week, BuzzFeed News reported Friday. They're already testing a new feature — an algorithm designed to put tweets you want to see near the top of your feed — with a small number of users.

There's reason to believe the switch, which would look a lot like your Facebook feed's out-of-order posts, will be optional:

Twitter declined to comment on feed changes. Julie Kliegman

12:55 p.m. ET

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is in the middle of dealing with a crisis in Flint, where lead pipes have contaminated the drinking water. While addressing a grave concern in an impoverished city, Snyder celebrated his wife's birthday with quite an upscale-looking cake from an Ann Arbor bakery, MLive reports:

Interesting choice of optics. Julie Kliegman

12:22 p.m. ET
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MSNBC pundit Melissa Harris-Perry called out the Democratic Party on Saturday for a lack of diversity in an "anemic" candidate pool.

"I would argue that for me, Thursday night, watching Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — we are in New Hampshire — and our party is so anemic. We are down to two candidates, right?" Harris-Perry said. "Say what you want to say about the mad house going on on the Republican side."

For Harris-Perry, the primary field bears some resemblance to a certain other much talked about national event: "It's whiter than the Oscars up in here." Julie Kliegman

11:37 a.m. ET
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You may or may not be excited for football, but chances are you're pretty amped about the food associated with Super Bowl Sunday.

Here are some striking numbers courtesy of ABC News regarding what U.S. viewers are expected to wolf down as the Denver Broncos face the Carolina Panthers:

12 million — Americans watching from restaurants and bars

48 million — takeout and deliver orders

139.4 million — pounds of avocados

1.3 billion — chicken wings, a 3 percent increase over 2015

$15.5 billion — total Super Bowl spending

Happy eating. Julie Kliegman

10:51 a.m. ET

Saturday would've marked Babe Ruth's 121st birthday. To honor The Great Bambino, relive the glory of his first-ever New York Times profile. It's from way back in 1915, and it has some real gems:

The paper of record described the soon-to-be-record-setting slugger as "peculiar" and "built like a bale of cotton."

"What the Yanks evidently need are some peculiar left-handed pitchers," the profile went on to say, to counter Ruth, who then pitched for the rival Boston Red Sox.

Either that, or perhaps they just needed to make the trade of the century. Julie Kliegman

8:06 a.m. ET
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As the Syrian government works to cut off Aleppo's rebel supply route from Turkey, foreign intervention is not welcome, Foreign Minister Walid-al-Moallem warned Saturday, The Associated Press reports.

"Any ground intervention in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government will be considered an aggression that should be resisted by every Syrian citizen," he said. "I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins."

Saudi Arabia recently said it would send troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition to fight Islamic State extremists, who control parts of Syria. The United Nations suspended peace talks Wednesday as conflict near Aleppo ramped up. Julie Kliegman

7:42 a.m. ET
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At least 13 people died and hundreds more were injured in a 6.4-magnitude earthquake that struck Taiwan on Saturday, The Associated Press reports.

Rescuers saved hundreds of people from buildings and were still trying to reach others. Dozens of people are reportedly unaccounted for, CNN reports.

The high-rise residential building that collapsed in the 4 a.m. quake included a care center for newborn babies. One 10-day-old baby was reportedly among the dead. Julie Kliegman

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