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March 2, 2014

Zack Beauchamp, a frequent contributor to The Week, has an interesting analysis at ThinkProgress concluding that the crisis in Ukraine does not constitute a return of the Cold War. If anything, he argues, it shows just how far Russia has fallen as a global power.

The fact is that Russia’s Ukraine move is an act of weakness, not strength — an act, as Kerry aptly characterized it, anachronistic in both moral and strategic terms. The fact Russia is trying something like this exposes the country’s global strategy as fundamentally mismatched to 21st century realities. There isn’t a new Cold War. [ThinkProgress]

The entire essay falls under an emerging school of thought that contends Russia has made a strategic mistake in invading Ukraine. In this view, Russia has isolated itself on the international stage, spooked its neighbors into rushing into the arms of the West, invited a debilitating economic and political response from Europe and the U.S., and embroiled itself in a military conflict that could turn into a major headache.

The other school of thought is that Vladimir Putin has successfully taken advantage of a global vacuum of power to expand Russia's sphere of influence, all while boosting his strongman status and discouraging dissent at home. Julia Ioffe of The New Republic said on CNN today that Putin had "checkmated" the West with regards to Ukraine. Ryu Spaeth

5:42 a.m. ET
JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, Pope Francis visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp where more than one million people died during the Holocaust. During his visit, Francis met with elderly survivors of the camp and placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed. He spent much of his time sitting in silence beneath a tree to reflect on the tragedy and to pray. He is the third pope to visit the camp, after both his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

According to The Associated Press, Francis wrote in a guest book at Auschwitz: "Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty."

The visit comes on the third day of his five-day trip through Poland. Earlier this week, Francis warned that "the world is at war" after French jihadists murdered a Catholic priest on Tuesday. "When I speak of war I speak of wars over interests, money, resources, not religion," Pope Francis said. "All religions want peace, it's the others who want war." Jessica Hullinger

2:06 a.m. ET
Rami al-Sayed/AFP/Getty Images

The Nusra Front, a branch of al Qaeda in Syria, announced Thursday it is leaving the group.

Nusra Front's leader, Mohamad al-Golani, said they will reorganize under a new name, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, "with no ties with any foreign party." He said the move is being made "to remove the excuse used by the international community — spearheaded by America and Russia — to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: That they are targeting the Nusra Front, which is associated with al Qaeda."

Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's successor as the leader of al Qaeda, gave the Nusra Front permission to break away, Reuters reports. When asked about the news, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said, "We're gonna have to wait and see. We judge a group by what they do, not by what they call themselves." Catherine Garcia

1:39 a.m. ET

In 2008, when Barack Obama became the first African-American presidential nominee, his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), released an ad congratulating him on making history.

"Sen. Obama, this is truly a good day for America," McCain said. "Too often, the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed, so I wanted to stop and say congratulations. How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow we'll be back at it, but tonight, Senator, job well done."

On Thursday, when Hillary Clinton became the first woman to ever become the presidential nominee of a major party, that didn't happen — but this did. Catherine Garcia

12:59 a.m. ET

So many balloons fell from the ceiling at the end of her speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday night that Hillary Clinton seemingly didn't know what to do with them all.

She pointed at some:

Grabbed others:

Stared in awe at a few:

Looked at some like they were Donald Trump:

Walked gingerly through a sea of many:

And finally just disappeared for awhile:

Meanwhile, former President Bill Clinton was playing it cool.

Catherine Garcia

12:28 a.m. ET
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Donald Trump seemed to hardly know where to begin after Hillary Clinton's Democratic National Convention speech Thursday night. So, as the Republican presidential nominee's Twitter feed shows, he just chucked every single criticism he could think of at her, in no particular order. Behold, the result:

Bad "judgement" indeed. Becca Stanek

12:18 a.m. ET
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton went deep into the archives, quoting another former first lady to try to prove her point that Donald Trump doesn't have the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief.

"I can't put it any better than Jackie Kennedy did after the Cuban Missile Crisis," Clinton said. "She said that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started — not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men — the ones moved by fear and pride." Clinton quoted Kennedy on what would have been her 87th birthday. Catherine Garcia

July 28, 2016
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama thought Hillary Clinton nailed it. Shortly after Clinton wrapped up her speech at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, Obama fired off this tweet lauding Clinton's leadership qualities and predicting the future of his current Twitter handle, @POTUS:

First Lady Michelle Obama followed up with some praise of her own, too:

The only question is, would former President Bill Clinton inherit @FLOTUS? Becca Stanek

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