January 17, 2016

Hillary Clinton picked her words carefully when the NBC debate moderators asked her about her relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "It's…interesting," she said, smiling at her own word choice. Clinton went on to say that she and Putin mutually respect each other, but that Putin is "someone you have to consistently stand up to."

Unlike her opponents on stage, Clinton has direct experience working with Putin from when she served as Secretary of State. In her book Hard Choices, Clinton described Putin as "disciplined and fit, a practitioner of judo, and he inspired hope and confidence among Russians still reeling from so much political change and economic adversity." However, she didn't shy away from criticizing the president, either: "He also proved over time to be thin-skinned and autocratic, resenting criticism and eventually cracking down on dissent and debate, including a free press and NGOs." Jeva Lange

6:12 p.m. ET
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The 2016-2017 NBA season is upon us, with the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers kicking things off Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena in Ohio. Later Thursday, the Utah Jazz face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in Oregon, while a matchup of Western Conference heavyweights rounds out Opening Night as the San Antonio Spurs take on the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.

It's been four long months since LeBron James tearfully hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy, and lots of big names have changed jerseys this offseason. So what should you be looking out for as NBA basketball finally tips off? Below, four stories to watch for. Kimberly Alters

1. Can we just fast forward to the Cavaliers-Warriors Finals rematch?
You may have heard that a young man named Kevin Durant moved from Okahoma to California this summer. So you might be wondering: Can't we just skip the 82 games of regular season melodrama and get to the inevitable, which is a Finals reprise? While, yes, a supercharged Warriors team looks like the prohibitive favorite — especially when you swap the underwhelming Harrison Barnes for four-time scoring champion Durant — and LeBron James seems as dominant as ever, there's plenty of fun to be had in among the other 28 teams. Like:

2. Will the New York Knicks surge to relevance as "super-team," as their new legally-challenged point guard predicted?
The short answer here is: No. When your franchise cornerstone starts the offseason saying it's totally cool if he never wins an NBA championship, you know things are dicey. But the great Phil Jackson experiment continues, and this latest version involves betting on Derrick Rose's famously unreliable knees and Joakim Noah's aging defensive chops. But they still have this guy.

3. Is where the heart is also where the fun is?
Both Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard made high-profile moves home this season. Wade joins the jammed Chicago Bulls backcourt of Jimmy Butler and fellow new addition Rajon Rondo, while Howard follows a string of tumultuous temporary stays by parking himself with the Atlanta Hawks. Just two years ago the Hawks topped the Eastern Conference, but they sputtered last season, leading them to significant roster changes this summer. Home may be where the heart is, but will it be where Wade and Howard find peace for the rest of their careers?

4. Will the Los Angeles Lakers win the championship?
Yes. Absolutely yes.

5:25 p.m. ET

Writer Paul Beatty became the first U.S. author to win the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, in recognition of his critically acclaimed 2015 novel, The Sellout. The novel is set in Beatty's hometown of Los Angeles, and, per BBC's recap, "tells the story of a young black man who tries to reinstate slavery and racial segregation." The five judges unanimously chose Beatty's book as the winner ahead of five other finalists.

The chair of the judges, Amanda Foreman, hailed Beatty's racial satire for managing to "eviscerate every social taboo" and displaying "an absolutely savage wit" akin to that of Jonathan Swift or Mark Twain. "This is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon," she said. "But while you are being nailed you are being tickled."

Though the award was first given out in 1969, it wasn't until 2014 that it was opened to authors outside of Britain, Ireland, and the Commonwealth nations. The winner gets £50,000 — nearly $61,000. Becca Stanek

4:57 p.m. ET
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The New York Giants announced Tuesday that they've cut kicker Josh Brown from the team. The announcement followed last week's release of journals, letters, and emails in which Brown admitted he'd been abusive toward his wife, Molly Brown. ABC News reported that in one journal entry, Brown wrote, "I have abused my wife."

The Giants have maintained they did not know about the documents before they were released last Wednesday. "We believed we did the right thing at every juncture of our relationship with Josh," team president John Mara said in a statement. "Our beliefs, our judgments, and our decisions were misguided. We accept that responsibility."

In a statement Tuesday, Brown apologized and said he has "never struck his wife, and never would." "I am sorry that my past has called into question the character or integrity of the New York Giants, Mr. Mara, or any of those who have supported me along the way," Brown wrote, promising to tell "more of the pain I had caused and the measures taken to get help so I may be the voice of change and not a statistic."

The NFL placed Brown on the commissioner's exempt list Friday, which meant he couldn't attend practice or games, but could still collect his base salary of $1.15 million. Prior to that, he served a one-game suspension, sitting out the first game of the 2016 season for "violating a protective order against his wife in 2015," Sports Illustrated reported. Though Brown was arrested over that incident, he was not charged.

Brown and his wife have filed for divorce. Becca Stanek

4:20 p.m. ET

In case the thought of Election Day doesn't already fill you with dread, this political ad should do the trick. The apocalyptic spot — created by former Sen. Bill Bradley's (D-N.J.) new super PAC, 52nd Street Fund — reminds the people of Ohio that a Donald Trump presidency could mean the death of a million people. "That's more than all the men, women, and children living in Columbus, Ohio," the ad booms, while a mushroom cloud explodes onscreen.

The cause of death, the ad suggests, would be a nuclear weapon placed within reach of Trump. Watch the imagining of nuclear destruction, below. Becca Stanek

3:55 p.m. ET

With Apple users not yet recovered from the devastating elimination of the headphone jack, Apple has just deleted yet another staple of our modern lives. Photographs of the new MacBook Pros obtained by MacRumors appear to show that Apple has now taken the escape key away from us, too:

RIP ESC. Jeva Lange

3:28 p.m. ET
Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced Tuesday during a luncheon on New York's Long Island that he will be voting for Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Powell, who served under George W. Bush, said Clinton will serve with "distinction" and cited her "experience and stamina," Newsday's Robert Brodsky reported. Powell said Donald Trump, on the other hand, seems to be "selling people a bill of goods." He also noted the Republican candidate's lack of experience and that he's insulted a "huge swath of people," Brodsky reported.

Powell's announcement comes just one month after his emails bashing Clinton and her husband were leaked. "I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect," Powell wrote about Clinton in one email dated July 26, 2014, per The Hill. "A 70-year-old person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still dicking bimbos at home." Becca Stanek

2:59 p.m. ET

Donald Trump really, really, really hates wind power. How much? Well, Trump has been ranting online about wind farms for even longer than he's been ranting about Hillary Clinton:

Appearing on Herman Cain's morning talk show on WSB on Tuesday, Trump found himself blasting windmills once again, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. "Our energy companies are a disaster right now," Trump explained to Cain, adding, "Wind is very, very expensive, and it only works when it's windy."

"Right," confirmed Cain.

That was hardly the last of it:

Trump: In all fairness, wind is fine. Sometimes you go — I don't know if you've ever been to Palm Springs, California — it looks like a junkyard. They have all these different —

Cain: I have.

Trump: They have all these different companies and each one is made by a different group from, all from China and from Germany, by the way — not from here. And you look at all these windmills. Half of them are broken. They're rusting and rotting. You know, you're driving into Palm Springs, California, and it looks like a poor man's version of Disneyland. It's the worst thing you've ever seen.

And it kills all the birds. I don't know if you know that … Thousands of birds are lying on the ground. And the eagle. You know, certain parts of California — they've killed so many eagles. You know, they put you in jail if you kill an eagle. And yet these windmills [kill] them by the hundreds. [The Herman Cain Show via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

You heard the man. Make birds great again — anything short of that would be downright quixotic. Jeva Lange

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