Much of the commentary in the U.S. over the crisis in Ukraine has presented the conflict as a throwback to the Cold War, with the U.S. and Russia facing off as the two principal foes. But the most important actor in this drama may be a third party, Germany, which as the largest economy in Europe has far closer ties to Russia and has a keen interest in resolving the dispute with as little fuss as possible.
Indeed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already pushed back against the idea of booting Russia from the Group of Eight, a punitive measure that is seen in the U.S. as one of the least aggressive moves the West can make. According to Colum Lynch at Foreign Policy, Merkel hopes to defuse the situation with a face-saving measure for Vladimir Putin that would entail sending monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to Crimea to ensure no Russian-speaking citizens are in danger, which is the ostensible reason for Russia's incursion into the peninsula in the first place.
There are plenty of reasons to think Russia would reject such an offer, or try to take Germany on a diplomatic detour while consolidating its control of Crimea and beyond. What then? Germany has a reputation for being almost China-like in its reluctance to shoulder responsibility for the global security that undergirds its economic success. But as Der Spiegel notes, since winning a historic third term in September, Merkel has suggested that Germany is prepared to play a more assertive role in foreign affairs. It remains to be seen whether the woman who grew up in East Germany at the height of the Cold War will do just that. Ryu Spaeth
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) maintained Friday that he'll support the Republican presidential nominee, even if that somebody happens to be Donald Trump, The Palm Beach Post reports.
In fact, Rubio might be more impressed with the billionaire business mogul than usual, saying his "performance has improved significantly" recently.
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was none too thrilled Saturday with the protesters who blocked his way into California's Republican convention the day before:
The "protesters" in California were thugs and criminals. Many are professionals. They should be dealt with strongly by law enforcement!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2016
Leave it to Trump to make an off-color joke about the incident once he made it inside the hotel Friday.
Jimmy Fallon has been singing bits and pieces of Styx's "Too Much Time on My Hands" on The Tonight Show for days. On Friday, he and actor Paul Rudd took the obsession to its natural conclusion, creating a shot-by-shot remake of the '80s music video. The end result is sufficiently goofy. Take a look below. Julie Kliegman
Hundreds of activists stormed Iraq's parliament building Saturday in support of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who had accused Iraqi politicians of corruption, CBS News reports.
The demonstrators climbed over blast walls in Baghdad's Green Zone, which houses most of the country's ministries and foreign embassies, after parliament couldn't reach quorum to hold a session. The protesters broke furniture, chanted, and waved Iraqi flags.
San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr released nine pages of racist and homophobic text messages sent between officers Friday and ordered all officers to undergo anti-bias training, The New York Times reports.
"We have nothing to hide," Suhr said of his 2,000-member force. "These are the actions of a few."
The messages, which disparaged blacks, Latinos, South Asians, and LGBT people, were found as part of an investigation into a rape charge against one of the officers.
The head of an evangelical legal organization has pledged to carry a gun into Target's bathrooms to defend against transgender women. Liberty Counsel President Anita Staver is calling for a boycott of the retail chain after it announced that it will allow patrons to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, The Huffington Post reports. Staver tweeted the following:
— Anita Staver (@AnitaStaver) April 22, 2016
Staver later claimed she always brings guns into public restrooms.