Huh?

GOP senator blames Hillary Clinton for the Ukrainian crisis, because #Benghazi

March 4, 2014

We have a new candidate for "most asinine remark about Ukraine from an American politician." Behold, as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) connects the dots to explain why Hillary Clinton is at fault for Russia's invasion of Crimea:

Graham has been on a roll today, offering similarly half-cooked insights on how the Obama administration's weakness and "indecision" convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin to send troops across the border. As our own Marc Ambinder explained in more detail here, that's an incredibly simplistic and fallacious explanation of a complex geopolitical situation. But don't just take his word for it: Even the most ardent Benghazi truthers think Graham is spouting nonsense.

Ouch.

Greece votes

Greece holds election that could serve as referendum on austerity

11:36am ET
Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

Greek voters headed to the polls Sunday for a crucial election that could set the stage for a showdown with the European Union over austerity measures.

The left-wing Syriza party, which led in the run-up to the election, has vowed to renegotiate a $270 billion international bailout it blames for the country's poor financial health. Led by 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, Syriza has also said it will demand creditors write off billions of dollars of Greece's debt.

"Democracy will return to Greece," Tsipras said Sunday.

Deflategate

Bill Nye on Deflategate: Patriots' explanation 'didn't make any sense'

11:18am ET
Screenshot / ABC

Bill Nye, the celebrity scientist and former host of an eponymous TV show, on Sunday threw cold water on New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's amateur science explanation for why footballs used in last weekend's AFC Championship game were underinflated.

"What he said didn't make any sense," Nye said in an interview with ABC.

Belichick on Saturday said atmospheric conditions, not deliberate tampering, caused the balls to fall below the minimum allowable PSI, saying the team "absolutely followed every rule to the letter." —Jon Terbush

Crisis in Ukraine

Rebel missile attack kills 30 civilians, injures 100 in Ukraine

9:30am ET
Screenshot / The Associated Press

Pro-Russian separatists on Saturday launched missile attacks on the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, killing 30 civilians and injuring more and 100.

"This is a crime against humanity to be tried by the Hague tribunal," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement.

Rebels fired around 60 missiles in two separate attacks, with the scope of the bombardment suggesting, according to Western officials, some degree of Russian involvement. Secretary of State John Kerry called the attack "reprehensible" adding that it was "aided and abetted by Russia’s irresponsible and dangerous decision to resupply" the rebels despite a delicate truce.

Moscow denied any role in the attack.

2016 Watch

Republican presidential hopefuls gather in Iowa for 2016 kickoff

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Scott Olson / Getty Images

A slew of potential Republican candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination descended on Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday for a conservative summit considered the unofficial kickoff to the next election cycle.

Sponsored by Iowa Rep. Steve King (R), the event drew prospective candidates ranging from the moderate (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) to the Tea Party-aligned (Texas Sen. Ted Cruz), the latter of whom challenged his fellow speakers to "show me where you stood up and fought" President Obama's policies. Other featured attendees included Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Notably, two of the most prominent potential GOP candidates — Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney — did not attend, citing scheduling conflicts.

ISIS Crisis

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe  'speechless' over ISIS execution of hostage

7:54am ET

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that though intelligence experts had yet to verify a video purporting to show ISIS had executed one of two Japanese hostages, the evidence had "a high chance of being real."

The video, which surfaced Saturday, showed one of the hostages, Kenji Goto, holding an image of what appeared to be the decapitated body of the other prisoner, Haruna Yukawa. Though ISIS initially sought a $200 million ransom for the two men, the group instead offered in the latest video to swap Goto for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a woman sentenced to death in Jordan for a 2005 terror attack.

President Obama called Abe Sunday to offer his condolences, saying the US. stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Japan.

football follies

Bill Belichick addresses Deflategate: 'I'm not a scientist, and I'm not a league official'

January 24, 2015
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Bill Belichick spoke after the New England Patriots' practice on Saturday, saying the team had conducted an internal study on how footballs used in Sunday's AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts might have become deflated.

The short explanation? Science.

The Pats' head coach suggested that "atmospheric conditions" could have affected the footballs' air pressure, so that while the footballs were initially set to a proper 12.5 PSI, they eventually "adjusted to climatic conditions and...reached an equilibrium state" lower than originally set. Belichick said that he and other team officials had spoken to "a lot of people," and that they learned that while a football's texture is easy to identify, the pressure is "a whole different story."

Belichick again reiterated that the Patriots delivered footballs to the officiating crew that had been set to the proper PSI, and he lamented spending the week before the Super Bowl answering inquries about the controversy.

"I'm not a scientist, and I'm not a league official," he said. "(But) we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter."

This just in

Pro-Russian militants attack key Ukrainian port, officials say at least 30 dead

January 24, 2015
AP Photo/Sergey Vaganov

Having rejected further peace talks on Friday, pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine launched a new offensive a day later, attacking the country's strategic port of Mariupol, Reuters reports.

Mariupol city officials said at least 30 people were killed and more than 80 were injured in the Saturday clashes. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered an emergency security council meeting, to be held on Sunday.

"We are for peace, but we accept the challenge of the enemy," Poroshenko said. "We will protect our motherland."

The European Union's foreign policy chief called openly on Russia to use its "considerable influence over separatist leaders," to halt the offensives; Moscow has continued to deny that it is supporting the rebels.

Under the sea

Researchers discover fish living under a half-mile of Antarctic ice

January 24, 2015

And you thought your home got chilly in the winter.

Researchers have discovered fish and other invertebrates living deep below Antarctic ice sheets, NBC News reports.

(Facebook.com/WISSARD)

Scientists with the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling — or delightful acronym WISSARD — discovered the fish earlier this month while exploring Antarctica's western "grounding zone." Land, ice, and sea all converge at this area of the continent; the researchers are the first to drill below the Ross Ice Shelf and actually sample the grounding zone.

The researchers said they will study further how the fish are able to survive in such extreme conditions — the discovery marks the closest to the South Pole that marine life has been found.

Oscars Watch

American Sniper sets record for widest release of an R-rated movie

January 24, 2015
Facebook.com/American Sniper

American Sniper is setting "records on top of records," according to Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Dan Fellman.

His assessment is not pure hyperbole, CNNMoney notes; the film, which grossed $105 million on its opening weekend, has set a record for the "widest release ever for an R-rated movie." American Sniper expanded by 150 screens this weekend — it is now showing on 3,705 screens in the U.S., total.

The movie has also broken records for "best opening for a movie based on a book," "largest MLK opening weekend ever," and "largest drama opening weekend ever," according to Fellman. Nominated for a best picture Academy Award, the film stars Bradley Cooper — who is up for a best actor Academy Award for the role — as Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.

2016 Watch

Sarah Palin is 'seriously interested' in running for president

January 24, 2015
Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images

The potential field of Republicans with an eye toward the 2016 presidential nomination may be expanding further. Sarah Palin told The Washington Post on Friday that she is "seriously interested" in running for president.

"Who wouldn't be interested?" Palin asked. "Who wouldn't be interested when they have been blessed with opportunities to speak about what is important to this country and for this country?"

Alaska's former governor made the comments before addressing activists at the Iowa Freedom Summit. The GOP's 2008 vice-presidential nominee said she won't rush to make a decision, because making an official, public announcement is a "significant step."

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