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
No. 8 Rafael Nadal bowed out of the U.S Open early after falling in a grueling five-set match Friday night. The Spanish star led No. 32 Fabio Fognini of Italy after 2 sets at Arthur Ashe Stadium, but after nearly four hours, he was ousted 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.
The third-round loss breaks Nadal's 10-year streak of winning at least one Grand Slam title. "The only thing it means is I played amazing the last 10 years," he said.
Fognini called his hard-earned upset a "mental victory."
"That was one of greatest, most spectacular comebacks you're ever going to see on a tennis court," tennis legend John McEnroe said. "The level that he played to mount that miraculous comeback will be remembered for a long time." Julie Kliegman
About 4,000 migrants, many fleeing war in Syria, arrived in Austria early Saturday, where they were greeted by applause, food, and medical supplies. Many refugees, which Hungary agreed to bus, will request asylum in Austria, while others will continue on to Germany, BBC News reports.
Europe's ongoing migrant crisis has seen renewed attention in September after graphic photos emerged of a Syrian toddler's body washed up on a Turkish beach. The United Nations called on the European Union to help migrants Friday, one day after Hungary had forced migrants off of the nation's trains. Many of the migrants, including young children, had walked along Hungary's train tracks for hours toward Austria before boarding buses.
Jailed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis will reportedly appeal her contempt of court ruling and has no plans to resign as Rowan County clerk, her lawyer said Friday. Davis, who was sent to jail Thursday after a judge found her in contempt of court for defying the Supreme Court's order to issue same-sex marriage licenses, says she has a "clean conscience."
Though a deputy clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Davis' absence Friday, her attorney asserted that the licenses are void because she didn't authorize them. Samantha Rollins
Only in America: University professors threaten to give bad grades to students who use 'offensive' language, like 'male' and 'female'
Washington State University professors have warned students that using "oppressive and hateful language" such as "male," "female," and "illegal immigrant" will result in bad grades. But administrators promised to ensure that no student will be punished for "using terms that may be deemed offensive to some."
In a Friday interview with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton once again refused to apologize for using a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. "I'm sorry this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions," Clinton said.
While she admitted a personal server "wasn't the best choice," she maintained that she never knowingly broke the law. "This was fully above board, people knew I was using a personal email, I did it for convenience," Clinton said. "I sent emails that I thought were work related to people's dot gov accounts."
Jellyfish are "hypnotizing to watch," writes BlessThisStuff, so why not let them hypnotize you in your home or office? The Pulse 80 Jellyfish Aquarium ($1300) was designed with the special needs of jellyfish in mind, and it lets a human operator play with lighting effects. A remote control that governs the LED system lets you choose among thousands of colors and set the brightness and timing for flashes or color shifts. The aquarium is handmade from scratch-resistant cast acrylic and features a low-maintenance filtration system and an Italian-made pump designed to be virtually silent while operating.
A Georgia school district is investigating the mass baptism of its high school football players just before practice. A video showing the baptism appeared on a Baptist church's website, with the caption: "See how God is STILL in our schools." A spokeswoman for the Freedom From Religion Foundation said the coach was illegally misusing his authority "to promote his personal religious agenda.'' School district officials said they would "take appropriate steps."