Less than a year ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stood side-by-side, laying out a joint plan to rid Syria of its dangerous chemical weapons stores.
That, of course, was before Russian troops invaded the disputed Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which voted to secede and join Russia a week ago. Subsequent sanctions from Western nations, the United States included, have eroded Russia-U.S. relations but have not stopped Moscow from continuing its push for Crimean control.
So where does that leave the plan to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria, asks Geoff Brumfiel over at NPR.
It’s a valid question, as disposal of the weapons relied on joint measures by Russia and America. A United States naval ship was supposed to destroy the chemicals while being escorted by cooperating Russian naval vessels. That plan is now on hold, and Syria may read the situation as a prime time to stall its shipments, with the superpowers otherwise occupied, says Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:
I think what you're likely to see is that the Assad regime will comply just enough, at a slower pace, as it consolidates its hold over the country militarily...The usefulness of the Assad regime drops off significantly after those chemical weapons are destroyed, because we no longer need the Assad regime to secure their safety. [NPR]
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) formally launched his presidential candidacy Saturday in a Baltimore speech.
"I declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States and I am running for you," he told a crowd of supporters with his family by his side.
O'Malley spoke of striving to work toward economic, racial, marriage, and gender inequality. He'll face off against Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and likely former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee for the Democratic nomination. Julie Kliegman
The Tampa Bay Lightning bought a ticket to the Stanley Cup final with a 2-0 win over the New York Rangers in Game 7 on Friday night. After a scoreless 40 minutes in Madison Square Garden, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat each notched a goal.
The Lightning will face the winner of tonight's Game 7 matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stanley Cup finals begin June 3. Julie Kliegman
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Friday he's "shocked and saddened" by the allegations against former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), the Associated Press reports. A federal grand jury indicted Hastert on Thursday for allegedly evading currency reporting requirements and lying to the FBI.
Sources told the Los Angeles Times the former teacher and wrestling coach has paid $1.7 million to a former male student over the last four years to conceal sexual abuse against that man. Julie Kliegman
Come Monday, the city of Paris will begin removing the hundreds of thousands of "love locks" tourists affix to the Pont des Arts bridge, The Local reports. Visitors might think it's cute, but for locals, the locks are an eyesore and a nuisance.
"This phenomenon generates two problems: a lasting degradation of the heritage of Paris and also a risk to the safety of visitors, Parisians and tourists," a Paris Town Hall statement read.
The city will install glass panels in place of the locks. Last year, a portion of the bridge collapsed under the weight of the locks, which also adorn other bridges throughout the city and even the Eiffel tower. Julie Kliegman
As part of our ongoing series on the 2016 candidates, produced in partnership with Rubin Report, The Week's Marc Ambinder and Dave Rubin concisely analyze the former Maryland governor's biggest strengths and weaknesses. Watch below:
Every nail salon in New York will be required to post a workers' bill of rights in plain view of employees and customers, The New York Times reports. The announcement comes after the newspaper highlighted widespread exploitation and abuse of manicurists, many of whom are new immigrants.
The posters Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed Friday will be printed in 10 languages. They include information about minimum wage, tipping, safety measures, and a phone number to report violations. Officials will also hand out information cards to consumers outlining questions they should ask upon entering nail salons.
"We’re asking New Yorkers to help; we're asking New Yorkers to get involved," Cuomo said at a news conference with New York City advocate Letitia James. Julie Kliegman
Empire's first season aired its finale in March, and fans have been eagerly waiting to find out when they'll finally get to see all those dangling cliffhangers resolved.
Unfortunately, the season two premiere date is still pretty far away — but at last you can put it down on your calendar. Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie, took to Twitter to reveal that Empire will return on September 23. Set your DVRs accordingly. Scott Meslow