This is a big deal
March 1, 2014
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Thousands of pro-Russia protesters gathered outside government buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, raising Russian flags and chanting, "Russia! Russia!," local media reported.

The violence suggests Ukraine's newly implemented government will struggle to gain support in areas of the country that are home to an ethnic Russian majority. In Crimea, which houses a Russian naval base, local leaders joined forces with Russian troops to take control of government buildings.

The protests are gaining traction in the wake of Russian parliament's approval this morning to send troops to Ukraine, at the request of President Vladimir Putin. Sarah Eberspacher

Graduation Day
1:42 p.m. ET
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A survey by the Daily Caller of the 2015 commencement speaker choices of the top 25 universities in the country finds that just three have selected a right of center dignitary. Those three are former Secretary of State Colin Powell, scheduled at Rice University; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito at Washington and Lee; and political commentator David Brooks at Dartmouth.

The other 22 schools all selected more liberal speakers, ranging from Arianna Huffington to Obama mega-donor Marc Benioff, and including eleven current or former Democratic politicians and appointees.

Fortunately for conservatives, none of this matters, because no one pays attention to their graduation speaker, anyway. Bonnie Kristian

2016 Watch
1:38 p.m. ET

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Tuesday announced he is running for president, using a kickoff speech to spotlight his Christian faith, conservative beliefs, and gubernatorial experience. Notably absent from Huckabee's pitch to voters, though: Any mention of his most famous backer, the actor, gym equipment salesman, and roundhouse kick master Chuck Norris.

"I still believe Mike Huckabee is the most qualified," Norris told The New York Times. "He has the moral clarity and experience to lead our great country forward."

Norris supported Huckabee in 2008, and cut a memorable ad spot for him riffing on the "Chuck Norris Facts" meme.

Earlier this year, Norris endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the latter's difficult re-election campaign. And last year, he campaigned with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who was then running for a first term. Jon Terbush

Baltimore
1:06 p.m. ET
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In 2010, the Baltimore Police Department requested $200,000 from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to continue funding an officer training program that had improved community-police relations and decreased police shootings. The funding request was declined, and the program shut down in 2012.

But according to the training program's organizer, Adam Walinksy, the DOJ added insult to injury when the same department the Baltimore PD had solicited for help instead gave funding to the production company that made Mr. Roger's Neighborhood to allow them to do a national rollout of their video program on fostering relationships between children and the police.

Walinksy believes Baltimore would have had more beautiful days in the neighborhood lately if the DOJ had supported the training program. "Once they stopped training the officers — stopped their interaction with the community, that all that was left was locking people up, and that's what led to this whole Freddie Gray thing," he says. "It was a nonsense arrest." Bonnie Kristian

the friendly skies
12:50 p.m. ET
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Jet-setters, rejoice: Pretty soon, you will no longer have to settle for watching the latest Disney movie or network comedy on your flight. JetBlue has announced a deal with Amazon that will allow Amazon Prime members to get free Wi-Fi on their flights, and the Wi-Fi will be strong enough to allow them to stream any of the thousands of titles on Amazon Prime Instant Video through JetBlue's in-flight entertainment system.

The deal will help both Amazon and JetBlue stand out from their competitors: While Amazon is battling with Netflix and Hulu for subscribers in the online streaming wars, JetBlue is likely trying to position itself as an airline that offers top-notch amenities in an industry where its competitors are cutting out freebies and adding fees.

JetBlue plans to roll out the service on its Airbus A321 and A320 models this year, and on its Embraer E190 aircraft in 2016, so being able to spend an entire cross-country flight binge-watching The Sopranos is just around the corner. Samantha Rollins

2016 Watch
11:57 a.m. ET
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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Tuesday announced he is running for president.

"As president I promise you will get what you paid for," Huckabee said at a kickoff event in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas.

In a speech spotlighting his Christian faith, Huckabee took some veiled swipes at Democrats and his rivals for the GOP nomination. He also positioned himself as the strongest candidate on national security, vowing that "hell will freeze over" before Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.

"I promise you that as president, we will no longer try to contain jihadism, we will conquer it," he said.

Huckabee ran for president in 2008, earning a surprise win in the Iowa caucus and for a time threatening to upset more established competitors in Mitt Romney and eventual nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) He considered running again in 2012, but ultimately avoided the race. Jon Terbush

2016 Watch
11:46 a.m. ET

And it's bad news for Ted Cruz. The Washington Post put together a handy infographic based off an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey that asked respondents to indicate their feelings on a variety of traits in a hypothetical 2016 candidate. Here are the results:

(The Washington Post)

As you can see, of the top five least desirable traits in a candidate, three of them apply to Sen. Cruz (R-Texas). But as the Post points out, the survey polled across party affiliations, so it's possible Cruz isn't as doomed in the Republican primary as it seems he would be in the general election. Kimberly Alters

Gulp
11:30 a.m. ET
iStock

As Charles Stross explains, it's an easy four-step process. First, build a Von Neumann probe — an automated spaceship that can refuel, repair, and make copies of itself. Second, program the probe to hunt out likely solar systems with a good bit of planetary mass, and when it gets there, to build a Matrioshka brain. Essentially, the probe breaks down the local planets into a networked system of solar-powered computers so numerous they capture all the local star's sunlight (as seen in Stross' book Accelerando).

Third, the brain uses radio astronomy to map nearby stars and search for signs of life: oxygen absorption signatures, non-natural radio signals, and so forth. Finally, if any life is detected on a nearby planet, the Matrioshka brain aims a Nicoll-Dyson beam at it — a phased array of lasers powered by all the star's energy. Such a beam would have a range of hundreds of light-years — and could destroy an Earth-sized planet in less than an hour.

That's it! All it would take is one high-tech civilization building one of those probes, and the galaxy would be sterile until all the stars go out in 100 trillion years. Ryan Cooper

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