Foreign affairs
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

face off
2:26 p.m. ET

Rebekah Aversano's brother was struck by a minivan and killed three years ago, when he was 21. Aversano's Maryland family donated Joshua's face to Richard Norris, who received a transplant in 2012 for the teeth, jaw, tongue muscles, and nerves after being severely disfigured in a years-old shooting accident, The Guardian reports. The risky procedure took the University of Maryland team 36 hours.

When Aversano met Norris, a 39-year-old from Virginia, she asked permission to stroke his face.

"Wow, this is the face I grew up with," she said.

The 60 Minutes Australia trailer for the meeting is surreal. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
1:37 p.m. ET
Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Police detained about 20 people during an unsanctioned LGBT rights rally in central Moscow on Saturday, Reuters reports, including demonstrators and anti-gay protestors. Authorities have now blocked demonstrators from holding a pride parade 10 years in a row. Police and anti-LGBT protestors attacked, beat, and pepper-sprayed activists.

Activists, who were outnumbered by cops at Tverskaya Square, held a rainbow flag reading "Make love not war" before police took it away. Julie Kliegman

zoinks!
12:33 p.m. ET
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Saved by the Bell actor Dustin Diamond was convicted Friday of two misdemeanors related to a barroom stabbing last Christmas, the Associated Press reports. The Wisconsin jury cleared "Screech" of the felony charge, which was recklessly endangering public safety.

Diamond, 38, testified he had not intended to stab anybody. The victim said he hadn't known he was stabbed until he left the bar and talked to police, AP reports.

Carrying a concealed weapon carries a maximum sentence of nine months, and disorderly conduct a maximum of 90 days. Diamond's girlfriend, Amanda Schutz, was also convicted of disorderly conduct. A sentencing date has not been announced. Julie Kliegman

if you say so
12:00 p.m. ET
Alessandro Della Bella/Getty Images

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said at a news conference Saturday he has no ties to the soccer governing body's corruption, which resulted in the arrests of several FIFA officials earlier this week, Mashable reports.

"Arrested for what? Next question," he told a reporter one day after easily winning re-election to his fifth term. He denied that the "high-ranking FIFA official" who wired $10 million in alleged bribes, as mentioned Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice, was him. 

"Definitely that is not me," Blatter said. "I have no $10 million." Julie Kliegman

police shootings
11:38 a.m. ET
Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images

An Ohio prosecutor filed a motion Friday asking a state appeals court to correct "egregious" mistakes in clearing police officer Michael Brelo in the 2012 fatal shooting of an unarmed black man and woman, Reuters reports. Judge John O'Donnell ruled a week ago it was impossible to determine whether Brelo fired the shots that killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams after a high-speed car chase. The officer had been charged with voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Julie Kliegman

2016 fever
11:03 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) formally launched his presidential candidacy Saturday in a Baltimore speech.

"I declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States and I am running for you," he told a crowd of supporters with his family by his side.

O'Malley spoke of striving to work toward economic, racial, marriage, and gender inequality. He'll face off against Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and likely former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee for the Democratic nomination. Julie Kliegman

hockey
8:11 a.m. ET
Elsa/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning bought a ticket to the Stanley Cup final with a 2-0 win over the New York Rangers in Game 7 on Friday night. After a scoreless 40 minutes in Madison Square Garden, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat each notched a goal.

The Lightning will face the winner of tonight's Game 7 matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stanley Cup finals begin June 3. Julie Kliegman

See More Speed Reads