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Smart takes
March 22, 2014
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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]

Give the whole story a listen over at NPR. Sarah Eberspacher

Only in America
4:01 p.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

A Little Rock, Arkansas, man lodged a complaint with the local NBC affiliate over its peacock logo, charging it included "colors of gays" to show support for the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling. Don Stair said the logo was "a disgrace" and vowed to switch to ABC. The station responded that its multicolored NBC peacock — which dates from 1956 — is the "same logo as always." The Week Staff

This is sad
2:20 p.m. ET

As America continues its slow, miserable climb out of the 2008 recession, wage stagnation is becoming a bigger concern. On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report showed that wage growth effectively remains flat. It's a trend that has actually defined most of the 21st century — and, at least in comparison to one particularly well-off group, the depressingly slow growth of worker compensation goes back further still:

(Economic Policy Institute)

Since 1978, CEO compensation has risen 90 times faster than the average worker's, the liberal Economic Policy Institute shows in the above graph. That's not CEO pay vs. worker pay; that's just rates of growth.

The average CEO made $1.5 million, after adjusting for inflation, in 1978, EPI says. He or she now makes $16.3 million. The salary of the average worker, however, has risen from $48,000 to just $53,200. CEOs at top firms now make over 300 times more than the average worker. Nico Lauricella

Science!
12:42 p.m. ET
Jean Revillard/SI2/Global Newsroom via Getty Images

The Solar Impulse made history on Friday when it landed without incident in Hawaii. Flying about 5,000 miles from Japan and spending 118 hours in the air, the Impulse set records in distance and time for manned, solar-powered flights. The pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, who switch off flying legs, are on a quest to circumnavigate the globe. Next stop: New York. Read more at BBC News. Nico Lauricella

Greek crisis
12:31 p.m. ET
Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

In a short televised address Friday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asked Greece to vote "no" on Sunday's bailout referendum. "I ask you to say no ultimatums, blackmail, and fear-mongering," he said. "No to divisions, no to those who want to spread panic." Polls show both sides neck-and-neck, and many Greeks are reportedly confused by the technical language of the referendum, which is over a bailout deal that is reportedly off the table. Tsipras tried to clear up the confusion, saying the vote is over a bad deal, "not Greece's participation in the euro." Read more at The New York Times. Nico Lauricella

Only in America
12:26 p.m. ET
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A Jewish political action committee hired several Mexican day laborers to dress as Orthodox Jews and protest at the Gay Pride parade in New York City. After a reporter noticed that the men in Orthodox garb were clearly Hispanic, the Jewish Political Action Committee admitted it hired substitutes for its members "because of what they would see at the parade." The Week Staff

TPP
12:00 p.m. ET
Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP via Getty Images

Nguyen Phu Trong will become the first leader of Vietnam's Communist Party to ever visit the United States when he meets with President Obama at the White House next week. They will reportedly discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would foster closer relations between the U.S., Vietnam, and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, as well as security concerns with China. The meeting is seen as a sign of growing ties between the two countries, and will mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations following the Vietnam War. Read more at AFP. Nico Lauricella

General Lee
11:31 a.m. ET
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You can't erase history, but maybe you can paint it over? Golf champ Bubba Watson announced on Thursday that he'll swap the Confederate flag atop his General Lee, the iconic car from the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, for an American one. In 2012, he purchased the car used in the first episode of the TV show.

Watson's tweet comes on the heels of TV Land's announcement that it would stop airing Dukes of Hazzard reruns because of the prominence of the flag in the show. After the murders at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina — allegedly by Dylann Roof, who has a history of white supremacy — the Confederate flag has been increasingly shunned. Nico Lauricella

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