March 17, 2014
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Many analysts — including me — have suggested that Vladimir Putin's Russian regime should pay an economic cost for the ongoing invasion of Crimea, not least to discourage further Russian expansionism into Eastern Europe. Yesterday's "referendum," in which 97 percent of those who took part voted to join Russia, does nothing to change that. After all, having Russian soldiers on the streets and pro-Russian mobs intimidating non-Russians hardly makes for a free and fair vote.

Yet already, the economic consequences of Russia's invasion of Crimea may be coming back to haunt Putin. Reuters reports that Russia's deputy economy minister Sergei Belyakov warned on Monday that the country's economy is in crisis. The Russian economy was already in a perilous state, having shrunk for two consecutive quarters. And now Russia's currency, the ruble, is weakening, causing expectations of growth in inflation. Russia's stock market has fallen significantly during the Ukraine crisis, down over 20 percent already this year.

Will continued economic weakness stop Russian expansionism? Perhaps. The threat to Russian business interests may motivate Russia's oligarchy to rein in Putin. But maybe the opposite happens. Viewed through an economic lens, Putin's takeover of Crimea seems like a diversionary tactic to bolster Putin's support with nationalist fervor while the previously strong Russian economy weakens. If the Russian economy continues to weaken, it's possible that Putin may become more desperate and reckless to maintain his regime's grasp on power. John Aziz

12:02 a.m. ET

A testy exchange between Newt Gingrich and Megyn Kelly descended into chaos Tuesday night, ending with Kelly suggesting the former Speaker of the House take his "anger issues and spend some time working on them."

On Tuesday night's Kelly File, Gingrich, a Donald Trump surrogate, started his segment by declaring that the media is showing bias against the Republican nominee, and he doesn't trust any of the polls. When Kelly began discussing allegations of sexual misconduct made against Trump, she started her sentence by saying, "If Trump is a sexual predator…" and was quickly interrupted by Gingrich. "He's not a sexual predator! You can't defend that statement!" Kelly said she was not taking a position, with Gingrich responding,"I'm sick and tired of people like you using language that's inflammatory. That's not true."

Kelly told Gingrich neither one of them know if the allegations are true, and his "defensiveness on this might speak volumes." Gingrich then went on the attack, telling Kelly that if "you go back through the tapes of your show recently, you are fascinated by sex. You don't care about public policy." Kelly scoffed at Gingrich, and said the only thing she is fascinated by is the "protection of women and understanding what we're getting in the Oval Office, and I think the American voters would like to know."

That opened up a whole new path for Gingrich, who launched into a tirade against Bill Clinton and demanded that Kelly say the words "Bill Clinton sexual predator." Kelly warned Gingrich that he shouldn't summarily dismiss any of the women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, and said The Kelly File has reported on Bill Clinton and the accusations made against him. Clearly irritated, Kelly had the last word: "We're going to leave it at that, and you can take your anger issues and spend some time working on them." Watch the fiery back-and-forth below. Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2016

Donald Trump has a message for Vice President Joe Biden: You. Me. Behind the barn. Be there.

Last week during a Hillary Clinton rally in Pennsylvania, Biden said he was often asked by reporters if he wished he were the one debating Trump. "No," he said. "I wish we were in high school. I could take him behind the gym. That's what I wish." During a rally Tuesday night in Tallahassee, Trump mangled Biden's dream — "did you see Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn?" he asked the crowd — but agreed that he would be down to brawl. "I'd love that," he said. "Oh, some things in life you could really love doing." (It should be noted that Trump is 70 and the vice president is 73.) Trump also called Biden "Mr. Tough Guy when he's standing behind a microphone by himself."

If he's looking for a rumpus, should he lose the election, Trump could always make like the last Republican presidential nominee and hop into the boxing ring. Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2016
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As outrage over current and retired National Guard soldiers being told they must pay back re-enlistment bonuses they received erroneously continues to grow, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced he has put a top Pentagon official in charge of fixing the problem.

Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times revealed that in the mid-2000s, at the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers in California were told if they re-enlisted, they would receive bonuses of more than $15,000. An audit found that many of these soldiers were not eligible for the bonuses or overpaid, and a former official was sentenced in 2012 to 30 months in federal prison after being convicted of submitting more than $15 million in false claims to the Department of Defense. The audit was finally completed last month, and the Pentagon told the affected soldiers if they didn't pay the money back immediately, they could face interest charges, wage garnishments, and tax liens. Many told the Times they were struggling to come up with the money, with some talking about selling their homes.

During a press conference in Paris on Tuesday, Carter said he was aware of the issue, and while it has "complexities to it," he has asked Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work to resolve the matter. Any person who "volunteers to serve in the armed forces of the United States deserves our gratitude and respect," Carter said. "Period." Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2016

She's called him a "pathetic coward," a "thin-skinned racist bully," and a "chicken," and on Tuesday during a Hillary Clinton rally in North Carolina, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came up with a new way to insult Donald Trump.

"I hope you heard Donald Trump in the debate, when he said he was smart not to pay any taxes," she told the crowd. "He is smart, and all of you who pay taxes are dumb. Everyone who pays taxes to keep our roads and bridges working is dumb. Everyone who pays taxes to support our world-class military is dumb. Everyone who pays taxes to support medical research and scientific research is dumb, dumb because Donald Trump doesn't plan to pay, he just plans to use all those things you pay for." So, Warren asked, "what kind of man does that? A selfish little sleazeball, a man who will never be president of the United States."

Warren then set her sights on Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, who is seeking a third term. Trump "hasn't been hiding who he is," Warren said, and Burr is "like a puppy on a leash, sticking right there with Donald Trump. If Richard Burr is just going to be Donald Trump's lap dog, then let him go off and do that, but the people of North Carolina need a strong, independent voice to fight for the families of North Carolina, and that is Deborah Ross," the Democratic nominee. Trump has yet to respond, but it's easy to imagine him high up in Trump Tower muttering, "That nasty woman!" Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2016
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The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC with ties to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is investing $25 million in six key races, with the fund's president saying they'll "go out guns blazing."

Steven Law told Politico Tuesday that Republicans won't have an easy time keeping their majority, and in many close races, Democrats are outspending GOP candidates by millions of dollars. "Democrats feel like the presidential race is in the bag for them and are looking for fresh game in the Senate," he said. The fund will send $7.5 million to Nevada, where Republican candidate Joe Heck recently announced he is no longer supporting Donald Trump. More than $5 million will be spent in Pennsylvania, $4 million in Indiana, $3 million in North Carolina, and $2 million in New Hampshire and Missouri. Most of the money will go to purchase commercials, which are very expensive this late in the campaign season. "This isn't a cheap date," Law said.

Karl Rove, a former adviser to George W. Bush, assisted the Senate Leadership Fund with its fundraising efforts. Law would not reveal the names of any donors to Politico, but did say they are aware "we're going to take casualties but we're going to go out guns blazing." Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2016
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On Tuesday, Apple announced that annual sales fell to $216 billion in the 2016 fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the company's first annual sales decline since 2001, the year the iPod was introduced.

Apple had a record $234 billion in sales in 2015. The company's largest source of revenue is the iPhone, CNN Money reports, and only 45.5 million were sold in the September quarter, down from 48 million during the same time in 2015. Analysts say because the newest iPhone is very similar to the previous two models, customers are not clamoring to upgrade. The company says it is projecting it will have sales of $76 to $78 billion in the upcoming quarter, up from $74.8 billion last year. Catherine Garcia

October 25, 2016
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The 2016-2017 NBA season is upon us, with the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers kicking things off Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena in Ohio. Later Thursday, the Utah Jazz face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in Oregon, while a matchup of Western Conference heavyweights rounds out Opening Night as the San Antonio Spurs take on the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.

It's been four long months since LeBron James tearfully hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy, and lots of big names have changed jerseys this offseason. So what should you be looking out for as NBA basketball finally tips off? Below, four stories to watch for. Kimberly Alters

1. Can we just fast forward to the Cavaliers-Warriors Finals rematch?
You may have heard that a young man named Kevin Durant moved from Okahoma to California this summer. So you might be wondering: Can't we just skip the 82 games of regular season melodrama and get to the inevitable, which is a Finals reprise? While, yes, a supercharged Warriors team looks like the prohibitive favorite — especially when you swap the underwhelming Harrison Barnes for four-time scoring champion Durant — and LeBron James seems as dominant as ever, there's plenty of fun to be had in among the other 28 teams. Like:

2. Will the New York Knicks surge to relevance as "super-team," as their new legally-challenged point guard predicted?
The short answer here is: No. When your franchise cornerstone starts the offseason saying it's totally cool if he never wins an NBA championship, you know things are dicey. But the great Phil Jackson experiment continues, and this latest version involves betting on Derrick Rose's famously unreliable knees and Joakim Noah's aging defensive chops. But they still have this guy.

3. Is where the heart is also where the fun is?
Both Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard made high-profile moves home this season. Wade joins the jammed Chicago Bulls backcourt of Jimmy Butler and fellow new addition Rajon Rondo, while Howard follows a string of tumultuous temporary stays by parking himself with the Atlanta Hawks. Just two years ago the Hawks topped the Eastern Conference, but they sputtered last season, leading them to significant roster changes this summer. Home may be where the heart is, but will it be where Wade and Howard find peace for the rest of their careers?

4. Will the Los Angeles Lakers win the championship?
Yes. Absolutely yes. Kimberly Alters

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