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Smart takes
March 20, 2014
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As Russian President Vladimir Putin works quickly to consolidate Russia's new hold on the Ukrainian province of Crimea, the West is trying to come up with a united and appropriate response. Most people are trying to find the right middle ground between sending in U.S. Marines to liberate Crimea and ignoring Putin's naked expansionist aggression. --Peter Weber

Kneecap Putin's cronies
The sanctions leveled against Russian officials by the U.S. and Europe are too weak and irrelevant to make any difference, says Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny in The New York Times. To get to Putin, "Western nations could deliver a serious blow to the luxurious lifestyles enjoyed by the Kremlin's cronies who shuttle between Russia and the West." After naming names, Navalny adds:

The invasion of Ukraine has polarized members of Russia's elite, many of whom view it as reckless. Real sanctions, such as blocking access to their plush London apartments, will show that Mr. Putin's folly comes with serious costs. [New York Times]

Meet Putin's fire with a thick blanket
The West needs to isolate Putin completely until he pulls out of Crimea, says Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in The Washington Post. "The Russian people should see that Putin's actions will bring about a decline of Russia's status as a global power, not a return to supposed Soviet glory." The U.S. and its NATO allies should also impose an arms embargo and open up NATO membership to "all interested partners in Europe." Finally, Rubio adds, Obama should up his reassurances to the former Soviet satellites nervous about Putin's neo-imperialist actions, providing "lethal military support" and deploying "additional military assets and even U.S. personnel to our allies, including Poland and the Baltic states."

Walk softly but carry a big stick
The point of U.S. and European actions should be to keep Putin out of the rest of Ukraine — Crimea is already in Russia's hands, says Fred Kaplan at Slate. But the key to boxing in Putin is understanding that his "actions have been driven less by a belief that the West is weak than his knowledge that Russia is." That doesn't mean the West can ignore Putin — "a bitter autocrat with a head full of grandiose daydreams can be a dangerous creature." What's needed is a ratcheting up of penalties while leaving room for diplomacy, he says:

Draw up plans for containing and countering Russian troops in the event of an incursion into Ukraine — not sending U.S. or NATO troops, but shipping arms, maybe some advisers and black-bag Delta forces — and talk about these plans with the allies, and Ukrainian officials, on open phone lines. Putin surely knows the limits of his army.... Over those same unencrypted phone lines, a senior official should also talk about some moves that would really isolate Russia from the rest of the world.... These are threats of actions to take place if Russia goes deeper into Ukraine — not reprisals for the seizure of Crimea, which would have no effect and probably wouldn't be enforced anyway. [Slate]

Katrina at 10
August 29, 2015
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Saturday, New Orleans residents commemorated the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,800 people and cost $151 billion in damage across the region.

"We saved each other," Mayor Mitch Landrieu told dignitaries at a memorial for the unidentified and unclaimed dead, The Associated Press reports. "New Orleans will be unbowed and unbroken."

Residents and activists gathered for speeches and a parade in the city's Lower 9th Ward at the site of one levee that had broken. In Mississippi, also hit hard by Katrina, coastal church bells rang out to remember one of the deadliest storms in U.S. history.

President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, who was in office when the storm hit, both visited New Orleans in the days leading up to the anniversary. Julie Kliegman

Immigration
August 29, 2015
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Presidential hopeful and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke to a crowd in Laconia, New Hampshire, on Saturday about the need to crack down on legal immigration enforcement.

He rejected competitor Donald Trump's idea to build a wall across the entire U.S.-Mexican border, but suggested if he becomes president, he'd use FedEx's package tracking strategies to more closely track people entering the country:

The minute they come in, we lose track of them? So here's what I'm going to do as president: I'm going to ask Fred Smith, the founder of Federal Express, to come work for the government for three months at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and show these people. We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in, and then when your time is up... however long your visa is, then we go get you. We tap you on the shoulder and say, "Thanks for coming. Time to go." [The Star-Ledger]

While this isn't the first time Republicans have used FedEx rhetoric to talk immigration policy, Smith's daughter, Samantha, serves as Christie's campaign spokeswoman.

Christie also criticized President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran and other world powers on Saturday, calling the U.S. under Obama's oversight "a nation of lawlessness," The Star-Ledger reports. Julie Kliegman

findings
August 29, 2015

Researchers at an archaeological site in Catalonia, Spain, discovered an inner part of a cave that may have been used for sleeping, the first such area linked to a Neanderthal site, Archaeology reports.

The Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology archaeologists say the sleeping area found at Abric Romaní is distinctive from other parts of the cave because it features a lower density of artifacts. They also found a hole near a wall that may have been used to heat water 60,000 years ago.

The potential bedroom and water-heating system were found among 10,000 Neanderthal artifacts researchers found at the site in August. Julie Kliegman

Quotables
August 29, 2015
Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Tom Ford

In a tease for her upcoming Elle UK cover story, Miley Cyrus said she identifies as pansexual, which means she considers herself attracted to people of all gender identities.

"I'm very open about it — I'm pansexual," she said. "But I'm not in a relationship. I'm 22, I'm going on dates, but I change my style every two weeks, let alone who I'm with."

The pop star and upcoming VMAs host had described her fluid sexuality similarly, without using the word pansexual, in a not-safe-for-work photoshoot with Paper Magazine in June.

"I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age," she said. "Everything that's legal, I'm down with. Yo, I'm down with any adult — anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me. I don't relate to being boy or girl, and I don't have to have my partner relate to boy or girl."

You might say she's just being Miley. Julie Kliegman

Uber Empire
August 29, 2015
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Uber hired the two men who gained notoriety after remotely hacking a moving Jeep Cherokee in July, the company said Friday. Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek will join the company's Pittsburgh-based Advanced Technologies Center, which has been upping its research on the technology behind self-driving cars, Reuters reports.

Miller and Valasek join the same center where Uber hired away dozens of Carnegie Mellon University's top scientists and researchers earlier in 2015. The company, valued at more than $50 billion, also announced Tuesday a partnership with the University of Arizona focused on mapping research and safety technology for self-driving cars.

After Miller and Valasek exposed the vulnerability in a hardware chip that connects Fiat Chrysler cars to the internet, the company recalled 1.4 million vehicles. Julie Kliegman

drake isn't worthy
August 29, 2015
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For what's believed to be the first time in history, the U.S. Open women's singles final sold out before the men's singles final, ESPN reports.

There's one reason why: Serena Williams. A victory for the tennis goddess and upcoming tournament's top seed would make history by completing her 2015 Grand Slam sweep, a feat no woman has accomplished since Steffi Graf in 1988. Williams has 21 Slam titles to her name, just three fewer than record holder Margaret Court.

Seats for the women's final, which doesn't even sell out some years, are trading at three times their usual value, according to the United States Tennis Association.

Open play begins Monday. Julie Kliegman

what a pair
August 29, 2015

A ghost of Republican Party past sat down with its current presidential frontrunner Friday night. Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, both known for their colorful, unpredictable sound bites, were surprisingly tame throughout the One America News Network interview, which was more lovefest than hard-hitting policy chat.

"They need someone to fire all those political correct police," Palin said by way of introducing Trump. Trump later called Palin a "terrific person" and also praised her family. He's said before he'd love for Palin to join his administration should he win office.

In between compliments, the two criticized media coverage of conservative candidates, the country's tax code, and treatment of veterans. Watch the softball exchange below. Julie Kliegman

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