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

refugee crisis
8:34 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

After meeting Syrian refugees in Jordan on Saturday, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson said he still does not want the U.S. to accept them, The Associated Press reports.

The retired neurosurgeon called the refugees he met in the Azraq camp "very hard working, determined people, which should only enhance the overall economic health of the neighboring Arab countries that accept and integrate them into the general population." Carson said the American people, as opposed to the government, should collect billions of dollars to improve the conditions of refugee camps in the Middle East.

Many Republican presidential candidates, governors, and legislators have called on the White House to modify its plan to accept up to 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, citing security concerns in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks carried out by the Islamic State. In response, President Obama and other White House officials have said that the current U.S. process for vetting refugees is already thorough. Julie Kliegman

Gun Violence
8:00 a.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images)

Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains President Vicki Cowart vowed Saturday to reopen the Colorado Springs, Colorado, clinic soon, The Guardian reports. None of the clinic's 15 employees in the building at the time were wounded in Friday's attack, when a gunman fatally shot three people and injured nine others.

"We will adapt," Cowart said. "We will square our shoulders and we will go on."

The clinic went under lockdown as the gunman reportedly entered the building, but wasn't able to make it past a locked door leading to the main part of the facility. During the five-hour standoff between the gunman — allegedly 57-year-old Robert Dear — and police officers, about 300 people sheltered in place at nearby shopping center, The Associated Press reports. Dear has been held without Bond since Friday, and is due to appear in court Monday.

"We share the concerns of many Americans that the continued attacks against abortion providers and patients, as well as law enforcement officers, is creating a poisonous environment that breeds acts of violence," Cowart said. "But we will never back away from providing critical health care to millions of people who rely on and trust us every day." Julie Kliegman

ancient burials
November 28, 2015
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Image

Researchers are now 90 percent sure there's a hidden chamber behind the tomb of King Tutankhamun, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said at a news conference Saturday.

British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves published a paper earlier in 2015 with his findings from examining detailed scans of King Tut's tomb, suggesting there are two secret doorways that have gone untouched since the 14th century B.C. One might lead to a storeroom, and the other to the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, whose burial site has long been a mystery for researchers.

Though Reeves' theory isn't a sure thing, researchers are more confident they'll at least find something behind Tut's tomb, Reuters reports, so long as they can avoid damaging the structure.

"The key is to excavate slowly and carefully and record well. The fact is this isn't a race," Reeves said at the news conference. "All archaeology is disruption." Julie Kliegman

make elephants great again
November 28, 2015

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is speaking not once, but twice in Sarasota, Florida, on Saturday to accommodate the 14,000 people who want to see him, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

But he isn't the only star there:

Trump supporter Frank Murray of Gainesville lent the campaign his elephant for free Saturday.

"The man knows how to make money," Murray told the Herald-Tribune. "He knows what America is all about and he can get America back on track."

The term "political circus" has never felt quite so literal. Julie Kliegman

Gun Violence
November 28, 2015

Robert Lewis Dear, 57, is being held without bond in connection with Friday's fatal shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dear, who authorities say has an address in Hartsel, about an hour away from Colorado Springs, is reportedly well-known to law enforcement officials in South Carolina, where BuzzFeed News reports he used to live.

Authorities in North and South Carolina have investigated Dear as many as nine times, according to BuzzFeed's public records search.

In 1997, Dear's wife alleged he hit her and pushed her out of a window in Walterboro, South Carolina, but did not file charges against him. He was twice found not guilty of cruelty to animals, and an allegation that he was a peeping tom was dismissed at a preliminary hearing, BuzzFeed reports.

Read more about the incidents here. Julie Kliegman

November 28, 2015
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Three days after the city of Chicago released video footage of the 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a police officer, protesters took to the Magnificent Mile to disrupt Black Friday shopping.

Some shoppers, blocked from entering big-name stores like Apple, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, and Brooks Brothers, told the Chicago Tribune they supported protesters, who are calling for the resignation of Chicago's police superintendent and increased awareness of police brutality against black people. But others didn't take kindly to being barred from shopping by lines of protesters, as the newspaper reports:

At Zara, a Schaumburg man who gave his name only as Scott, 31, violently burst through the line and then through a revolving door like a running back looking to make a first down.

"I'm looking for a sports jacket," he said as he got his breath back. "Compared to what's happening in Syria, what's happening here is nothing much.

"The only thing new is that there's a video of this shooting," Scott said. "It's been going on forever. None of these people could even tell you why they're protesting." [Chicago Tribune]

Nilo Khan, another shopper turned away from Zara, told the Tribune, "We're not trying to stop them from protesting, so why should they stop us from shopping?"

Three people were arrested during the Black Friday protests, The Associated Press reports. Read more about the scene at the Magnificent Mile here. Julie Kliegman

you're fired
November 28, 2015
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More than 100 black religious leaders signed an op-ed published on Ebony's website Friday strongly discouraging their colleagues from supporting or endorsing Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. The real estate mogul had announced he'll receive endorsements from a group of prominent black ministers Monday.

"By siding with a presidential candidate whose rhetoric pathologizes Black people, what message are you sending to the world about the Black lives in and outside of your congregations?" the op-ed read. "Which Black lives do you claim to be liberating?"

After several white people allegedly physically attacked a black protester at a Trump campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama, on Nov. 21, the presidential hopeful said, "Maybe he should've been roughed up."

Some attending Monday's meeting have disputed Trump's endorsement claim, The Daily Beast reports. Read the full op-ed on Ebony here. Julie Kliegman

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