Foreign affairs
March 23, 2014

NATO's supreme allied commander is warning that Russia's annexation of Crimea might not be its last acquisition in the region. According to The Guardian, Gen. Philip Breedlove is concerned that the next target might be the Trans-Dniester region, a Russian-speaking separatist territory that broke away from Moldova in the early 1990s. "There is absolutely sufficient force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Trans-Dniester if the decision was made to do that," Breedlove said. "That is very worrisome."

Russian annexation of Trans-Dniester, which borders on southern Ukraine, near the key port of Odessa, would put a strong Russian military presence along a southwestern front and squeeze Kiev from another direction. Earlier this week, Moldova's president, Nicolae Timofti, said in a news conference that "any decision by Moscow to accept Trans-Dniester 'would be a step in the wrong direction.'" Neither Moldova nor the international community accepts the region as a sovereign nation. --Catherine Garcia

Foreign affairs
8:59pm ET
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

In Israel, four women have won their suit against the city of Beit Shemesh, which would not take down signs calling for women to wear "modest" clothing on the streets.

The signs are illegal, but this is the first time a court has ruled against one, The Guardian reports. Judge David Gidoni said the signs were "hurtful, degrading, and discriminatory," and "delivered a mortal blow to the rights of women in the city." The municipality must pay each woman 15,000 shekels, or $3,813. The city says that the signs were put up without permission, but they are afraid violence will break out if they remove them.

The population of Beit Shemesh is 45 percent ultra-Orthodox Jewish, and signs call for women to stay out of certain buildings and walk on the other side of the street. One billboard stated it was "forbidden to walk on our streets in immodest dress, including slutty clothing worn in a religious style." Plaintiff Miriam Zussman said she has been spit on and called names while wearing skirts below the knee, long-sleeved shirts, and covered hair. "It is quite shocking," she told The Guardian.

placebo effect
8:04pm ET
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The placebo effect is well known, but researchers from the University of Cincinnati decided to test the theory that patients would respond better to a placebo that they thought had an enormous price tag.

A meta-analysis found that placebos used in clinical trials of Parkinson's treatments improved symptoms by an average of 16 percent, the Los Angeles Times reports, and the University of Cincinnati team decided to study 12 patients with "moderately advanced" Parkinson's in a clinic trial of "a new injectable dopamine agonist." With Parkinson's, patients lose brain cells that make dopamine, something this drug could combat.

The participants were told that they were taking two versions of experimental drugs that worked the same but were made differently, with one costing 15 times more than the other. They were actually given the same exact saline solution. The results showed that both improved motor function compared with a base line test, but those who took the $1,500 dose placebo had an improvement that was nine percent greater than the $100 per dose placebo. "Patients' expectations have an important role in the efficacy of medical therapies," the researchers wrote. The results were published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.

greek life
7:30pm ET
Jay Paul/Getty Images

University of Virginia sorority sisters were ordered by their national chapters to stay away from fraternity brothers' parties this weekend, The Washington Post reports. The mandate comes after a now-discredited Rolling Stone article on sexual assault in Greek life prompted a close look the school's safety and culture.

Saturday is fraternity Bid Night. Different sorority chapters told members they'd risk suspension, fines, and other penalties for attending parties that night. Some chapters were told to avoid fraternity gatherings in general, not just Bid Night parties.

An online petition against the mandate started earlier this week read:

Instead of addressing rape and sexual assault at UVa, this mandate perpetuates the idea that women are inferior, sexual objects. It is degrading to Greek women, as it appears that the [National Panhellenic Conference] views us as defenseless and UVa’s new fraternal policies as invalid. Allowing the NPC to prevent us from celebrating (what used to be) a tight-knit community, sends the message that we are weak. [Change.org]

Some sororities are planning mandatory in-house retreats Saturday to avoid violating the rule, The Post reports.

This just in
6:43pm ET

In simultaneous attacks on Thursday, militants hit more than a dozen army and police targets in the Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 25 soldiers and one policeman and wounding more than 60.

At least one car bomb went off outside a military base at the same time mortars were fired, bringing down buildings and burying soldiers underneath the debris, The Associated Press reports. The attacks took place in the Northern Sinai provincial capital el-Arish, the town of Sheik Zuwayid, and the town of Rafah, bordering Gaza. An Army spokesman blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, but the Islamic State affiliate in Egypt took responsibility on Twitter, the SITE Intelligence Group reports.

uber drama
6:31pm ET
Adam Berry/Getty Images

A New Delhi woman who said she was raped by an Uber driver filed a U.S. federal lawsuit against the car service Thursday, Reuters reports.

The woman, who is not named, called Uber "the modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking," in the lawsuit. "Buyer beware — we all know how those horror movies end."

In the lawsuit, the woman asks for an overhaul of the company's safety practices and for unspecified damages.

India is Uber's largest international market, going by cities covered, according to Reuters. India banned the San Francisco company from operating last month after allegations and arrest of the driver, but Uber restarted services there last week.

NYPD
5:54pm ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The New York Police Department is creating an anti-terror strike force, Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Thursday. The 350-cop unit will focus on "disorder control and counterterrorism protection capabilities," he said.

The squad, which is expected to recieve funds from New York City as well as federal Homeland Security grants, will be trained in high-tech weaponry. They'll handle a variety of situations, like protests, Charlie Hebdo-esque terrorist attacks, and lone-wolf attacks, CBS New York reports.

Science says
5:24pm ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Pick a scientist at random, and she'll almost always say climate change is real and influenced by humans.

Pew Research found 87 percent of scientists in the American Association for the Advancement of Science will say so. By contrast, only half of U.S. adults surveyed believe the same thing. The rest believe, in almost equal measure, either that climate change is real but natural, or that there is no solid evidence to support the existence of climate change.

Pew covered other topics in science as well. Take evolution: 98 percent of AAAS scientists say humans evolved over time, yet only 65 percent of the general population is on board.

To see where else the public disagrees with science, check out Pew's full report.

TV Violence
4:18pm ET

Brandishing a pistol with a silencer and declaring himself part of a "hackers' collective," a man threatened his way into Dutch television broadcaster NOS Thursday evening, demanding airtime to broadcast a personal message.  In dramatic footage recorded in a virtually empty news studio, the attacker was arrested by police:

Before the gunman's arrest, he described himself as part of a group "hired in by intelligence agencies," and produced a letter claiming there were "eight heavy explosives placed in the country, containing radioactive material."

During the incident, staff were evacuated from the building and the evening's news broadcast was canceled.

the wonderful world of disney
3:58pm ET

Disney has crowned another princess. Elena, the Princess of Avalor, will debut in the Disney Junior series Sofia the First before spinning off into her own series:

In a statement, Disney described Elena as " a confident and compassionate teenager in an enchanted fairy tale kingdom inspired by diverse Latin cultures and folklore." The character will be voiced by Aimee Carrero, who was born in the Dominican Republic.

This just in
3:57pm ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

After weeks of debate, the Senate on Thursday passed a measure to approve the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The bill passed on a largely party-line vote, 62-36, and heads to the House, where it is also expected to pass.

Debate over the measure dragged throughout January as lawmakers considered a host of potential amendments, including one from Democrats that sought to declare humans are to blame for global warming. President Obama has said he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

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