March 3, 2014
AP Photo/Michael Sohn

After Russia's military occupation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea over the weekend, a lot of analysts are trying to gaze into Russian President Vladimir Putin's psyche. (A senior Obama administration official unkindly told The Hill that "we in this administration have made it a practice not to look into Vladimir Putin's soul.") But at least one world leader seems to think Putin isn't firmly anchored in reality. Here's Peter Baker at The New York Times:

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told Mr. Obama by telephone on Sunday that after speaking with Mr. Putin she was not sure he was in touch with reality, people briefed on the call said. "In another world," she said. [New York Times]

The world of modern diplomacy is premised on the belief that, saber-rattling and propaganda aside, world leaders are basically rational actors whose behaviors are subject to incentives and credible threats. A lot of what happens next in Ukraine may be riding on whether or not Merkel is correct. Or maybe some nuance was just lost in translation. Peter Weber

1:50 a.m. ET
Pool/Getty Images

The gun used to kill a woman earlier this month on a San Francisco pier was stolen from a federal agent, sources say.

The .40-caliber pistol was taken during a car burglary in downtown San Francisco, a source told the San Francisco Chronicle. Another source said that the gun was not the agent's official gun. Kathryn Steinle, 32, was shot and killed at Pier 14 on the Embarcadero July 1.

On Tuesday, the shooting suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was charged with murder and other crimes in connection with the killing. He pleaded not guilty. Lopez-Sanchez is believed to be in the U.S. without documentation, and has been deported back to his native Mexico five times. Catherine Garcia

1:31 a.m. ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

After placing 153 automated calls to a Texas woman in less than a year, Time Warner Cable has been ordered to pay $1,500 for each one, including 74 that were placed after Araceli King sued the company.

King accused Time Warner Cable of harassing her by leaving messages for Luiz Perez, the man who had the number before her, Reuters reports. The "interactive voice response" system calls customers who owe money, and King said during a seven-minute conversation, she told a representative she was not Perez. Time Warner Cable argued it was not liable under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which limits robo-calls, by saying the company thought it is was reaching Perez, who agreed to the calls.

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled Tuesday that Time Warner Cable owed $229,500 in damages, saying a "responsible business" would have done more to find Perez. "Defendant harassed plaintiff with robo-calls until she had to resort to a lawsuit to make the calls stop, and even then TWC could not be bothered to update the information in its IVR system," Hellerstein wrote. Those final 74 calls were "particularly egregious violations of the TCPA and indicate that TWC simply did not take this lawsuit seriously." Catherine Garcia

pulling the plug
12:59 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Sarah Palin Channel, we hardly knew ye.

Starting August 1, you'll no longer have to shell out $9.95 a month for the musings of the former Alaskan governor and vice president nominee. Her subscription only online channel is shutting down, just a year after it launched last summer. Palin promised to discuss "important issues facing the nation" and delivered videos titled "Gun Free Doesn't Equal Crime Free" and "Moose Meat: It's What's for Dinner!"

The channel made its announcement on July 4, Variety reports, and said all of Palin's content will now be available for free on her political action committee site,, as well as her Facebook page. The move ends her partnership with Tapp, an online video startup. For super fans who forked over $99.95 for a whole year of the Sarah Palin Channel, Tapp will offer refunds of remaining subscriptions, or let the user apply it to another one of its channels — Alive with Joan Lunden (focusing on breast cancer patients and survivors), New Life TV (a Christian relationship show), and K-Love TV (a Christian music channel). Catherine Garcia

everyone knows ricky was actually black and white
12:17 a.m. ET

Paula Deen says she fired the social media manager who tweeted a photo from her account Tuesday showing her son Bobby in a Ricky Ricardo costume with brownface.

Deen also appears in the shot, dressed as Lucille Ball. The photo — which was quickly deleted — was captioned, "Lucyyyyyyy! You got a lot of esplainin' to do! #TransformationTuesday." In a statement to People, Deen's representatives said, "This photograph is from a Halloween episode of Paula's Best Dishes that aired in 2011. Paula immediately had this picture taken down as soon as she saw the post and apologizes to all who were offended. As such, Paula Deen Ventures has terminated their relationship with this Social Media Manager."

The celebrity chef came under fire in 2013 when it came out that she admitted in a deposition to using the "n-word." In the aftermath, Deen lost several sponsors and was dropped by the Food Network. Catherine Garcia

In Remembrance
July 7, 2015

On the 10th anniversary of the London bombings, services were held across the UK to remember the 52 people who died and more than 700 people injured when four suicide bombers attacked three trains and a bus.

At St. Paul's Cathedral, a minute of silence was observed, and the families of victims, survivors, and first responders gathered at Hyde Park for a ceremony with songs and personal readings, the BBC reports. Flowers were placed at the sites of the four explosions, and commuters were urged to take part in the "walk together" movement, finishing their bus or subway commute one stop early and traveling the rest of the way on foot. Paul Dadge, who stopped to help survivors after the blast at the Edgware Road station, spoke at Hyde Park, and said his country will never surrender to terrorism: "That's not the spirit we saw on 7 July. That's not the spirit we've ever seen. That's not the spirit we will ever see." Catherine Garcia

Law And Order
July 7, 2015

A man who ran for Congress in Tennessee last year was charged Tuesday with plotting to burn down a mosque and other buildings in a New York community with a large Muslim population.

Robert R. Doggart, 63, of Sequatchie County, was indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of the civil rights violation of soliciting others to destroy religious property. Court documents say he wrote on Facebook that his targets — a mosque, school, and cafeteria in a hamlet near Hancock, New York called Islamberg — "must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American people." Doggart spoke with a confidential source and others on a cell phone being tapped by the FBI, court documents said, and he was heard saying he wanted to firebomb the different buildings. The plot was never carried out.

Doggart was arrested in mid-April, and said he would plead guilty, but a judge rejected the proposed plea as legally insufficient, NBC News reports. During the 2014 Congressional race, Doggart ran as an independent against the incumbent, Republican Scott DesJarlais, and received six percent of the vote. Catherine Garcia

activist governor
July 7, 2015

Despite an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling last week saying a 10 Commandments monument violates the state Constitution, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said it will remain on Capitol grounds.

Fallin said she made her decision after Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked the court to reconsider its 7-2 decision and lawmakers filed legislation to have citizens vote on whether to remove Article II, Section 5 of the constitution, which reads "No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as such."

The court said the statue, which was privately funded by Rep. Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow), was obviously religious in nature and an integral part of Christian and Jewish faiths, Tulsa World reports. Citing Pruitt's request and the potential vote, Fallin said, "Oklahoma is a state where we respect the rule of law, and we will not ignore the state courts or their decisions. However, we are also a state with three co-equal branches of government."

The ACLU of Oklahoma filed the challenge on behalf of three plaintiffs, and Fallin's decision doesn't sit well with executive director Ryan Kiesel. "The Supreme Court did not give any leeway in their opinion," he told Tulsa World. "The bipartisan, seven-member majority did not say remove the monument except if you look into your crystal ball and think the law might allow it at some point in the future and go ahead and keep it. The court said remove the monument." Catherine Garcia

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