Foreign affairs
April 20, 2014

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says Russian President Vladimir Putin is bent on slicing off more territory from neighboring lands in an attempt to rebuild a romanticized ideal of the Soviet Union.

In an interview with Meet the Press that will air Sunday, Yatsenyuk says Putin has his sights set on eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have in the past two weeks taken over buildings and sparred with security forces.

"President Putin has a dream to restore the Soviet Union," he says, "and every day he goes further and further, and God knows where is the final destination."

The remark comes days after Putin referred to eastern Ukraine as "new Russia" and warned that he could send troops to the region to protect ethnic Russians. And it comes as Ukrainian troops are engaged in a deadly clash to dislodge entrenched separatists from the area. A shootout at a checkpoint on Sunday left one dead and hospitalized others.

The U.S. government to some degree shares Yatsenyuk's concern. Putin infamously said in a 2005 speech that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." --Jon Terbush

the war on drugs
10:50 a.m. ET

Ending or significantly reforming the war on drugs has long been cited as a primary way to lower America's record-setting incarceration rate. But the extent of the impact of decriminalizing drug use has been challenged in recent years, with one study finding that only one in five inmates in state and federal prisons are held on drug charges.

Now, new research from the Brookings Institute finds that measuring the proportion of drug offenders in a snapshot of inmate populations may be misleading. That's because drug sentences tend to be shorter than sentences for serious crimes like murder, so murderers are overrepresented in studies which look at the static stock of prisons at a single moment and drug users are underrepresented.

To better measure the effect of drug laws on incarceration, the Brookings study looks at the flow of inmates in and out of prison over time:


Measured this way, drug offenders actually make up the largest single category of prisoners, with one of three new admissions to prison stemming from drug charges. Bonnie Kristian

New traditions?
8:50 a.m. ET

On Thursday afternoon, the Obamas' Thanksgiving celebrations were interrupted when a man swaddled in the American flag jumped the White House fence around 2:45 p.m. while the family was inside. Officials say Joseph Caputo, who carried a binder in his mouth, was immediately apprehended, yet are unsure how the intruder made it past new "pencil point" spikes installed along the property's perimeter earlier this year as a defensive measure.

One witness, reports the Washington Post, who was visiting the White House Thursday said she saw Caputo remove his sweatshirt, wrap himself in the flag, and proclaim, "All right, let's do this," before hurdling himself over the first barricade. Stephanie Talmadge

global conflict
8:17 a.m. ET
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

On Thursday, tensions between Russia and Turkey continued to escalate, threatening a total breach of the country's relations as Russian government officials prepare to cut economic ties and curb investment projects in Turkey, the New York Times reports. The proposed financial severance, which would include the shelving of a multibillion-dollar gas pipeline project, comes after Turkish officials refused to apologize for the downing of a Russian warplane on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, French President François Hollande visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Thursday, continuing his campaign to rally an international response to ISIS. After their talks, Washington Post reports, Putin said, "We are ready to cooperate with the coalition which is led by the United States," but warned that acts like Turkey's could eliminate the chance for successful international collaboration. Stephanie Talmadge

a feast fit for a president
November 26, 2015

We know President Obama doesn't mess around when it comes to pie, so it should really come as no surprise that the White House's Thanksgiving menu offers six of them. Yes, the Obamas see your standard pumpkin and pecan pies and would like to raise you a banana cream:

On top of the generous pie options, the presidential feast will feature three different main dishes — turkey, ham, and prime rib — and myriad sides. Here's hoping Obama's turkey day suit comes complete with Thanksgiving pants. Kimberly Alters

happy thanksgiving!
November 26, 2015

With the 89th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade expecting a crowd of about 3 million spectators, the annual procession was always going to be a big deal. A record 2,500 police officers were stationed along the Manhattan parade route in light of recent, heightened fears of terrorism — though officials have said there are no known, credible threats to New York — as the city prepared for the larger-than-life gathering. Below, photos from the festivities, including some cartoon favorites inflated to a truly terrifying scale. Kimberly Alters

turkey travels
November 26, 2015

If you traveled this Thanksgiving, you know how cutthroat holiday hotel reservations can be. Or maybe over-crowded gatherings at home have you outsourcing to a local hotel. In any case, finding lodging for friends and family can be a certified headache.

Not so for the turkeys chosen for the White House's annual turkey pardon. National Journal accompanied last year's lucky birds, Mac and Cheese, into their swanky hotel suite at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the two turkeys had their own room:

Mac and Cheese's digs go for more than $350 a night for non-presidentially pardoned guests, and come with stellar city views. The hotel did add a "thick layer of wood shavings" in the entryway specially for the birds, though. See more photos of the luxurious lodging for pardoned turkeys at National Journal. Kimberly Alters

where is the un-send button
November 26, 2015

Ah, Thanksgiving, a day for packing in as much poultry and pigskin as possible. And given the holiday's proclivity for football, NFL teams have a natural incentive to spread the good cheer on turkey day.

If you're the Washington Redskins though, you might want to stay mum on a holiday that traces its roots back to America's takeover of Native American land. The D.C. football team has been embroiled in controversy over its team name — an offensive word for Native Americans — for years. (If you're unclear as to why the name is offensive, this Daily Show segment can get you up to speed.) But rather than miss out on the holiday fun, the team's official Twitter account posted this glaringly oblivious graphic:

At least you can be thankful the Redskins aren't playing today, so their controversial brand won't add to your surely contentious Thanksgiving discussions. Kimberly Alters

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