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

John Oliver Explains
3:54 a.m. ET

When the Chinese pandas at the National Zoo have as much right to representation in the U.S. Congress as any resident in the District of Columbia, you know there's a problem. So says John Oliver, who explored the issue of D.C.'s experience with a lack of representation on Sunday's Last Week Tonight.

As Oliver explains, even though Washingtonians pay federal taxes and fight in wars and the GDP is higher than that of 16 states, D.C. does not have a member of Congress able to vote on behalf of residents. They do have a champion in Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, but as Oliver puts it, she only has "pretend power," as she is unable to vote on the House floor and can't vote on tax reform or whether the country should go to war.

The segment gives a brief rundown of D.C.'s political history (yes, residents couldn't vote in presidential elections until 1964), as well as clips of lawmakers giving a variety of excuses as to why D.C. should just be content with the way things are now. In 2009, a bill was introduced that was a glimmer of hope for those who wanted to see D.C. get voting power, but the Senate added an amendment that would repeal all of D.C.'s gun control laws, including its ban on semi-automatic weapons, and would alter its ability to enact future gun control legislation. "It was the kind of amendment NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre dreams about as he sleeps in his bullet-filled bathtub, I presume," Oliver quipped. The bill was dropped, and there hasn't been anything close since.

Not wanting the segment to end on a low note, Oliver brought in a gaggle of children to sing a song about what it would be like if D.C. became a state, and the simple steps that would have to be taken in case people become adamant about only having 50 (sorry, Florida). Watch the clip (which has some strong language) below. Catherine Garcia

hollywood 411
2:23 a.m. ET
R. Mitchell/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

One thing that viewers won't be seeing on the upcoming American Experience documentary on Walt Disney is any discussion about the animation legend being anti-Semitic.

Panelists at the Television Critics Association press tour for Walt Disney — including documentarians, authors, and people who actually worked with Disney — all agreed on Sunday that he did not harbor any Nazi sympathies, despite rumors to the contrary that have been swirling since the 1940s. Director and producer Sarah Colt said she looked for evidence while working on the series, but couldn't find any (that wasn't the case for another man she made a documentary about, Henry Ford, "who was a virulent anti-Semite"). "It's not based on any truth, so we saw no reason to bring it up in the film," she said. "It wasn't relevant to who he was, so it's not part of the film."

Neal Gabler, author of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, said while conducting research for his book he found only "casual anti-Semitism," which he said was common during that era. Gabler said the rumors that he was anti-Semitic were "primarily made by enemies of Walt Disney who had a political beef with him," and not worthy of documenting. Richard Sherman, the son of Jewish immigrants who wrote the scores for Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book with his brother Robert, called the allegations "preposterous," and said Disney treated him like a son. It wasn't all flattering, though — the panelists were of mixed opinions on other aspects of Disney, with some saying he was cold and would cough before entering a room to make his staff nervous, while others said he was kind-hearted and always asked about people's children. Catherine Garcia

campaign 2016
1:30 a.m. ET

The first campaign ads of the Democratic primary race will start airing on television stations in Iowa and New Hampshire on Tuesday, featuring Hillary Clinton.

The ads will run for five weeks in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, media markets and the entire state of New Hampshire. Each ad buy is worth $1 million. Clinton's campaign is anticipating Republicans will purchase large ad buys in order to attack her, Time reports, and wants to "make sure everyone knows who Hillary Clinton really is — who she fights for and what has motivated her lifelong commitment to children and families," campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement.

In the first spot, "Dorothy," Clinton talks about her mother, who was abandoned by her parents as a child but persevered due to the kindness of strangers. "When I think about all the Dorothys, all over America, who fight for their families, who never give up, that's why I'm doing this, that's why I've always done this," Clinton says.

In "Family Strong," a narrator touts her work with the Children's Defense Fund and says that while serving as a senator in New York, she "made sure the heroes and families of 9/11 got the care they needed." Catherine Garcia

the ugly american
12:28 a.m. ET
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Following the outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist, wildlife officials in Zimbabwe announced on Sunday an American gynecologist illegally killed a lion during a hunt in April.

In a news release, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said that Jan Casmir Sieski of Murrysville, Pennsylvania, took part in an authorized hunt outside of Hwange National Park, where Cecil was killed in July. The New York Times reports that no one with that name can be found in public records, but an address given out by the Zimbabwe government can be traced to Jan Casmir Seski, a gynecological oncologist practicing in Pittsburgh. Officials told The Associated Press that Seski shot the lion with a bow and arrow, killing it on a farm owned by a safari tour operator named Headman Sibanda.

Zimbabwe National Parks spokeswoman Carolina Washaya Moyo told AP that the hunt was conducted in an area "where lion hunting is outlawed," and said "the landowner who helped him with the hunt also did not have a quota for lion hunting." Sibanda has been arrested on suspicion of breaching hunting regulations, and accused of hunting without a permit and quota. The government has suspended the hunting of lions, leopards, and elephants outside of Hwange National Park, and ordered hunters in the field to stop and leave. An investigation has also been ordered into the hunting industry, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said. Catherine Garcia

campaign 2016
August 2, 2015
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

During a conference in Southern California on Sunday, Jeb Bush told a room filled with 450 wealthy conservative donors that he has no qualms with raising more than $103 million for his allied super PAC, saying, "I'm playing the rules of the game, the way it's laid out. And if people don't like it, that's just tough luck."

"You might as well front load it if you can," the GOP presidential candidate continued. "This is a long haul. ... I'm not running to come in third. I'm not running to have it on my résumé that I ran for president. The purpose is to run with purpose, to run with heart, to run in a way that draws people to our cause, and money helps. Money helps."

The event was founded by industrialist Charles Koch in 2003, in response to his frustration with federal spending by Bush's brother, former president George W. Bush, The Washington Post reports. Bush said his brother is "extraordinary," but he is "running for president based on my own record and my own life experience." Catherine Garcia

August 2, 2015

The FBI is investigating two small explosions that targeted churches in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Sunday morning.

No one was injured, and the Calvary Baptist Church and Holy Cross Catholic Church sustained minor damage. Both churches are closed, a public information officer with the Las Cruces Police Department told ABC News. Shortly after 8 a.m., people inside the Calvary Baptist Church preparing for the 8:30 a.m. service heard what sounded like a "boom." Witness Dennis Llewellyn said outside, a mailbox near the entrance was "completely opened up and twisted and blown apart. It just obliterated everything. If anyone was in front of it, it would have killed them."

Within 30 minutes, another explosive device detonated in a trash bin at Holy Cross Catholic Church, police said, after the 8 a.m. Mass had already started. "The trash can was right near a front entranceway and had there been somebody within close proximity, they may have well been injured," Dan Trujillo of the Las Cruces Police Department said. So far, there are no suspects. "We'll look into them to see if they are connected," Trujillo said. "It seems like they might be." Catherine Garcia

you're fired
August 2, 2015
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sam Nunberg, an aide to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, was fired after racially-insensitive statements were found on his personal Facebook page, a spokesman for the campaign told NBC News Sunday.

On Friday, Business Insider reported that in 2007, Nunberg called Rev. Al Sharpton's daughter a racial slur, and in 2008 said President Obama was a "Socialist Marxist Islamo Fascist Nazi Appeaser," adding, "congrats to the losers that voted for him." He saved some of his ire for Republicans as well — in 2012, he wrote, "@GovChristie is a fat slob who should register as a Democrat," and in 2008 said former New York Gov. Rudy Giuliani was a "punk" with a "bad lisp."

The Associated Press reports that Nunberg "spent years" working for the Trump organization, and was fired in 2014 before being rehired. Nunberg denied to NBC News that he made the posts, but on Sunday the Trump campaign confirmed they were authentic and he was fired. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowsky said Nunberg was "a short-time consultant with the campaign," and added, "Mr. Trump would never condone such statements from anybody in his campaign even if that person had a low-level campaign position." Catherine Garcia

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