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March 4, 2014
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Crimea is a beautiful, verdant, beach-ringed peninsula with strategic importance as a Black Sea port. But if Russia plans to keep Crimea, Ukraine may want to let Russian President Vladimir Putin keep his "expensive, Pyrrhic victory," says NYU professor Mark Galeotti in his blog, In Moscow's Shadows. Galeotti explains:

Strictly from a coldly logical position (and I am not advocating this, I should add), in many ways it is in Kiev's interests for Moscow to steal Crimea, and turn it into some pseudo-state or new part of the Russian Federation. Ukraine loses a sunny peninsula, but also a distinct drain on the state's coffers (the Crimean economy is not great, and the region receives net subsidies from the center). It sheds the most troublesome and Russophile of its regions, one which has been a turbulent locus of trouble for Kiev for most of post-Soviet Ukraine's history. It also gets concrete proof of the threat it faces from Russian bullying and probably accelerated and solicitous assistance from the U.S., EU, NATO, etc. It also validates every Ukrainian fear about Russia. [In Moscow's Shadow]

Galeotti further argues that the best weapons against Putin are measures to freeze the assets and ban the travel of Russian elites. "Putin is nowhere near as powerful at home, within the elite, as before," he adds. Sometimes the bold move isn't the smart one. Peter Weber

9:21 a.m. ET

On Sunday, a male leopard walked into the Vibgyor International School in Bangalore, India, and it did not want to be caught. In the 10 hours it took to tranquilize the 8-year-old cat, the leopard mauled six people trying to capture it, including a conservation scientist, a forester, and a TV cameraman. None of the injuries were serious. "It was a long struggle to capture the leopard," said police official S Boralingaiah. "Although it was injected with tranquilizers it could be captured only around 20:15 local time when the medication took full effect." India has a leopard population of 12,000 and 14,000, the BBC reports, and the big cats occasionally wander into civilization, especially as humans encroach on their habitat. Watch the leopard refuse to be sedated in the video below. Peter Weber

9:03 a.m. ET
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President Obama asked Congress on Monday for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus, The Associated Press reports. The money would be used to expand mosquito control programs, support low-income women, and develop a vaccine and diagnostic test.

The World Health Organization has declared the mosquito-borne virus a public health emergency. It's thought to be linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, which is marked by abnormally small heads.

So far, the U.S. has seen one case of domestic Zika virus transmission, in which a Texas patient had sex with someone who had returned from abroad. Julie Kliegman

8:23 a.m. ET

In his post-Super Bowl special, Stephen Colbert asked Fox News star Megyn Kelly why her network is feuding with Donald Trump. "Trump has been on Fox News 140 times in the past year, so we're not feuding with him," she said. "But he does have a beef with me." That wasn't news to Colbert (or anyone), and he read one of Trump's unkind tweets about her, asking Kelly if she'd like to reply in kind. Kelly declined, but she did have a question she said she really wants to ask him.

"He recently said that his supporters are so devoted to him that he said he could go in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone, and he wouldn't lose a single voter," Kelly said. "In response to which I want to ask him, 'Were you talking about me?'" Luckily, the Fox News studios are on Sixth Avenue. Watch Kelly explain her "beef" with Trump below. Peter Weber

8:14 a.m. ET

The city of Guangzhou knows how to properly ring in a 21st century Chinese New Year — complete with dancing drones and robots. During this weekend's Spring Festival Gala, 540 robots and 29 drones put on the moves to the words of singer Sun Nan, who "crooned about China catapulting itself to the peak of the world," Shanghaiist reports.

The Chinese Spring Festival Gala is the most-watched music festival on earth. This year, the entire show lasted over four and a half hours with Shanghaiist deeming the robot portion the "absolute highlight."

It is something you have to see to believe. Watch the technological spectacle, below. Jeva Lange

7:39 a.m. ET
Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Volkswagen plans to offer generous compensation to up to 600,000 U.S. customers who own diesel vehicles involved in the German automaker's emission-test cheating scandal, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported Sunday. The paper quoted veteran compensation mediator Kenneth Feinberg, head of the VW claims fund, as saying that the company still had not decided who would be offered cash, vehicle buy-backs, fixes, or new vehicles. VW on Friday postponed the release of its 2015 earnings as it tried to determine the full cost of the scandal. Harold Maass

7:27 a.m. ET

Former President George W. Bush made his first public appearance campaigning for Jeb Bush in New Hampshire and South Carolina on Sunday — in a Super Bowl ad. Crowdfunded by the super PAC Right to Rise, Bush's 30-second spot aired locally during the second half of the game between the Broncos and the Panthers, The Associated Press reports.

"I know Jeb. I know his good heart and his strong backbone," the former president says, adding that he believes the younger Bush has the experience and judgment to keep America safe.

Good results in New Hampshire and South Carolina's primaries are critical for Jeb Bush, who was all but forgotten in the Iowa caucuses. He currently holds 9.7 percent of support in the Granite State, according to Real Clear Politics, which places Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump ahead of him.

Watch the ad, below. Jeva Lange

7:19 a.m. ET
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was widely mocked for repeating the same attack on President Obama verbatim four times during Saturday night's Republican debate, even after being called a speech-memorizing lightweight by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The flub has taken a toll on his poll numbers, according to a survey Sunday by New Day for America super PAC, a group supporting the campaign of Gov. John Kasich (Ohio). In the group's poll of 500 likely New Hampshire voters, Rubio notched 10 percent, putting him in fourth place behind Donald Trump (35 percent), Kasich (15 percent), and Jeb Bush (13 percent). In most New Hampshire polls before the debate, Rubio was in second place, Politico reports.

Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) are tied at 8 percent in the poll, which has a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. If verified in other polls, the numbers suggest a quick end to Rubio's post-Iowa ascendance in the GOP race. "It's one of the most dramatic drops I have ever seen in 48 hours," says Matt David, chief strategist for the pro-Kasich super PAC. "A rock doesn't do it justice." Peter Weber

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