Foreign affairs
March 3, 2014

Writing at The Globe and Mail, Lubomyr Luciuk remembers when Ukraine voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for "territorial integrity" guarantees from NATO... and Russia:

I recall what I wrote just before Ukraine re-emerged as an independent state in Europe, when the USSR disintegrated, in 1991. My views appeared in this very newspaper, Nov. 15, 1991, "Moderation and neutrality — but hang on to the nuclear arms." I argued Ukraine's independence would be compromised, perhaps fatally, if Kiev gave up its nuclear arsenal, unless the West guaranteed the country's independence and territorial integrity. The West gave exactly that guarantee. So did the Russian Federation. Ukraine then disarmed, the only country in the world to have ever given up its nuclear weapons, even as other states scrambled to acquire them.

Today we know Moscow's promises are valueless. We shall soon learn what NATO's guarantees are worth. [The Globe and Mail]

Now, most experts say that NATO is not obligated to protect Ukraine, which is not a member state, after all. (In the agreement Luciuk cites, NATO vows to respect Ukraine's sovereignty, i.e. not to invade it, but only promises that its member states will "consult together" if the country is threatened.) Yet this could still have ramifications for non-proliferation efforts.

The illogic of mutually assured destruction aside, nations truly believe that nuclear weapons offer them a safeguard against attack. Ukraine's predicament isn't going to convince them otherwise.

Read Luciuk's full article, which includes more details about the agreement, here. Nico Lauricella

rebuilding baltimore
8:38 p.m. ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

CVS will rebuild its stores in Baltimore that were looted and burned last week, and said it also plans to donate $100,000 to the United Way of Central Maryland's "Maryland Unites Fund" and the Baltimore Community Foundation's "Fund for Rebuilding Baltimore."

There are almost 30 CVS stores in Baltimore that employ more than 500 people, The Baltimore Sun reports, and the two stores that were damaged were built in the 1990s. "Our purpose as a company is helping people on their path to better health," CVS Health President and CEO Larry Merlo said on Wednesday. "There is no better way that we can fulfill that purpose than to reopen our doors and get back to serving the community." There is no timeline for reopening yet, company officials said, and employees at the affected stores have been offered worked at other CVS locations. Catherine Garcia

most wanted
8:07 p.m. ET

Four Islamic State leaders are now listed on the U.S. Department of State's Rewards for Justice list, which offers a collective $20 million in rewards for information that leads to the arrests of the men.

The State Department is offering $5 million for information on ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, $5 million for battlefield commander Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, $7 million for senior official Abdul Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, and up to $3 million for Tariq bin al-Tahar bin al-Falih al-Awni al-Harzi, the BBC reports.

Al-Adnani was born in Syria in 1977, and has appeared in numerous official videos released by ISIS. Batirashvili, also known as Omar Shishani ("Chechen" in Arabic), is based in northern Syria. He was born in 1986 in Birkiani, Georgia, and once led an organization affiliated with al-Qaeda and made up primarily of foreign fighters from the North Caucasus. Al-Qaduli was born in Mosul, Iraq, in the 1950s, and is believed to have taken control of ISIS while leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recovered from an injury sustained in an airstrike. Al-Harzi was born in Tunis in 1982, and is based in Syria, where he recruits foreign fighters and is "emir of suicide bombers." Catherine Garcia

Pay up
6:50 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) learned a $100,000 lesson: If you're in the public eye — especially as a politician running for president — you need to snag every single .com, .org, .whatever associated with your name.

In March, a month before Paul formally announced he was running for the Republican presidential nomination, his Senate re-election campaign paid $100,000 to a third-party firm for the domain randpaul.com, the Los Angeles Times reports. While the site at one time was run by supporters of Paul, no one is sure who owned it at the time of the hefty payment. Two of Paul's GOP comrades made the same mistake of not securing their own domains, and they are now dealing with some online embarrassment: carlyfiorina.org shows 30,000 sad faces, representing the number of people laid off at Hewlett Packard while Carly Fiorina was chief executive, while tedcruz.com sports the decidedly non-Ted Cruz message "Support President Obama. Immigration reform now!" Catherine Garcia

This just in
4:40 p.m. ET
Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday struck an 11th-hour deal to form a new coalition government, barely beating a midnight deadline to do so.

Nearly two months after winning re-election to a fourth term, Netanyahu announced around 11 p.m. he had cobbled together at least the 61 seats necessary in parliament to form a new government after securing the support of the nationalist Jewish Home party. "Israel now has a government," Naftali Bennett, Jewish Home's leader, said after meeting with members of Netanyahu's ruling Likud party.

Netanyahu came from behind to win a tight election in March, and the thin margin of victory complicated the process of forming a new government. Jon Terbush

From prom dates to court dates
4:21 p.m. ET

What ever happened to a nice bouquet of flowers?

The Idaho Statesman reports that one Idaho teen went much, much bigger with his or her elaborate "promposal." Unfortunately for the budding graffiti artist, spray-painting, "DESTINY, PROM?" in huge pink-and-blue letters across the state's Black Cliffs is illegal.

(Patrick Orr/Ada County Sheriff's Office via AP)

"We realize prom proposals are a big deal these days, but this one was just a really bad — and illegal — idea, which caused some serious aesthetic and cultural damage," the Ada County Sheriff's Office posted on its Facebook page.

If caught, the person responsible could face a misdemeanor charge that carries with it up to $1,000 in fines and possible jail time. Probably not the kind of date with destiny our would-be Prom Hero had in mind. Sarah Eberspacher

Austerity in action
3:57 p.m. ET

The skyrocketing price of college tuition at previously affordable state colleges and universities is a longstanding source of concern, especially for people graduating with mountains of student debt. People have many theories as to why this is happening: administrative bloat, too-high salaries for professors, or perhaps too many unnecessary new buildings.

Robert Hiltonsmith, an analyst at Demos, has crunched the numbers. While the above factors do play a small part, the overwhelming reason for increasing prices at state schools is decreasing support from state governments. Here's the take-home chart:

In other words, it's the austerity, stupid. Ryan Cooper

2016 Watch
3:32 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) on Wednesday proposed legislation that would dismantle behemoth banks, a move that could pressure Hillary Clinton to ratchet up her populist rhetoric as the White House race gets underway.

Entitled the "Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Exist Act," the bill would require federal regulators to draw up a list of banks whose collapses would devastate the entire economy. The Treasury would then have one year to break up those institutions. In a statement, Sanders said the list would initially include at least eight banks — including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase — and possibly more.

"No single financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation's economic wellbeing," Sanders, who recently announced he will compete in the Democratic presidential primary contest, said at a press conference unveiling the legislation.

"If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist and that is the bottom line," he added.

Sanders has introduced similar legislation in the past, but this is the first time he's done so as a presidential candidate. Jon Terbush

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