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Quotables
March 26, 2014
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This isn't the first time somebody has suggested that Russia, fresh off its largely bloodless conquest of Crimea, isn't punching at its Cold War weight. But President Obama, of course, isn't just another pundit or erudite Russia scholar. On Tuesday, at a press conference in The Hague alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Obama said that Russia is a "regional power" with flagging influence whose leader, Vladimir Putin, is striking out against Russia's neighbors "not out of strength, but out of weakness."

Those are some strong words about Putin. But actually, Obama was responding to criticism of his Russia policy from Republicans, especially 2012 election rival Mitt Romney. When Romney called Russia America's No. 1 geopolitical foe in 2012, Obama shot back that the 1980s are "calling to ask for their foreign policy back." His response to Romney's new critique is the same, Obama said:

Russia's actions are a problem. They don't pose the No. 1 national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan. [Obama, via The New York Times]

Comforting? Not for New Yorkers. But for what it's worth, the American public seems to largely agree with Obama's assessment, according to a new poll from Pew's Center for the People and the Press:

I guess as long as this remains a war of words, nobody gets hurt. Peter Weber

ISIS
11:11 a.m. ET
Younis Al-Bayati/AFP/Getty Images

A U.S.-led coalition carried out a series of at least 16 airstrikes on ISIS' base in eastern Raqqa, Syria, late Saturday and early Sunday. It was one of the largest operations of its kind against the terrorist group in the country, The Guardian reports.

The attacks reportedly killed at least 10 militants and harmed others. They also destroyed ISIS structures and transit routes, a U.S. military spokesman told The Guardian. He said the damage would hurt ISIS' ability to move from their de-facto capital. Julie Kliegman

our selfies, ourselves
10:39 a.m. ET
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MasterCard is trying to cut down on fraud and appeal to young'uns. This fall, they're going to start experimenting with a new way to approve online payments — via selfie.

When checking out, rather than entering a password, users will be asked to hold their smartphone camera up to their faces and blink once, CNN reports. The blinking is designed to prevent a thief from simply stashing a selfie of you and uploading it to fool the system.

They'll have an Apple Pay-style fingerprint option as well for the curmudgeons of the world. Julie Kliegman

prison escape
10:15 a.m. ET

Convicted murderer David Sweat was incarcerated at the Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, New York, after being released from the hospital, the New York Department of Corrections announced in a news release Sunday. Sweat was hospitalized in serious condition after authorities shot and captured him near the Canadian border a week ago.

Sweat was on the run with convict Richard Matt after they escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6. Matt was fatally shot by law enforcement officials a couple of days before Sweat's capture. Julie Kliegman

Packing heat
9:37 a.m. ET
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested in Miami Beach on Saturday for discharging a gun in public. He reportedly fired two shots after arguing with a group of women near a parking garage, according to a police report obtained by the Miami New Times.

Quarless tried to hide outside a restaurant and stashed his gun in a potted plant.

"We are aware of the matter ... and are in the process of gathering more information," his team's statement read.

Quarless' arrest was the second team incident this week. On Thursday, the NFL suspended defensive end Datone Jones for violating substance abuse policy. Julie Kliegman

Immigration
9:23 a.m. ET
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

About 250 children at a Texas detention center were administered adult dosages of the hepatitis A vaccine, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said. No adverse side effects have been reported, but the children are being monitored by healthcare professionals at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Parents at the facility were advised and counseled by medical professionals about potential side effects, with services made available in multiple languages," ICE said in a statement. Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease that spreads to people who aren't vaccinated.

Activists and Democratic politicians have called on Homeland Security to close detention centers, which they say are not safe for children. Julie Kliegman

space!
8:02 a.m. ET

A Russian cargo ship successfully docked at the International Space Station on Sunday, bringing supplies to the U.S.-Russian team, The Associated Press reports. The delivery comes after two failed resupply missions — one by Russia in April and one by the U.S. in June, when a SpaceX rocket exploded just minutes after liftoff.

The Progress M-28M ship, which took off Friday from Kazakhstan, carried 2.5 metric tons of fuel, oxygen, water, food, and other supplies. Julie Kliegman

presidential powers
7:37 a.m. ET
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In the next few weeks, President Barack Obama is expected to free dozens of federal prisoners with nonviolent drug charges, aides told The New York Times. Many politicians on both sides of the aisle have criticized tough sentences for minor criminals, which disproportionately affect young Latino and black men.

"It's a time when conservatives and liberals and libertarians and lots of different people on the political spectrum" have "come together in order to focus attention on excessive sentences, the costs and the like, and the need to correct some of those excesses," White House counsel Neil Eggleston, who recommends clemency petitions to Obama, told the Times. "So I think the president sees the commutations as a piece of that entire process."

More than 30,000 prisoners have applied for clemency. Since December, Obama has freed 30 drug offenders. Officials estimate he may free more than 40 in the next batch of commutations. Julie Kliegman

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