Good morning — and a happy 64th birthday to Rick Perry! Here are some of the stories we’re looking at this AM…
The Big Story:
- Ian Traynor and Shaun Walker report for The Guardian that Vladimir Putin “rule[d] out war but will use force ‘as last resort'” — and other developments in Ukraine.
- At WaPo, Ilya Somin writes that it’s unclear what an upcoming referendum on Crimea’s future is supposed to determine, and reading the text of the question in Russian doesn’t help.
- The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin takes us inside Obama’s plan to squeeze Russia.
- But Colum Lynch reports for Foreign Policy that the US is “increasingly isolated on Russia sanctions.”
- At The American Conservative, Daniel Larison calls out vapid punditry about American “leadership” and “resolve.”
- Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says Putin “isn’t necessarily wrong,” but is being “demonized” by the US, reports Andrew Kaczynski for Buzzfeed.
In other news…
Compassionate conservatism –> Paul Ryan released a report on poverty, and Salon’s Joan Walsh characterizes it as another empty attempt to rebrand the GOP. ALSO: At ThinkProgress, Igor Volsky notes that Ryan’s analysis actually shows that anti-poverty programs work pretty well. AND: TNR’s Jonathan Cohn points out that the report undermines the rationale behind the Ryan budget.
Speaking of budgets –> Hunter Walker reports for Business Insider that Obama’s 2015 budget will once again include closing Wall Street’s beloved “carried interest” loophole that allows huge hedge funds to pay tiny tax rates. AND: Rand Paul is blocking a deal with Switzerland that would reveal thousands of ultra-wealthy tax-dodgers, reports Rachael Bade for Politico.
Messing with the spies –> Utah lawmakers are considering a wide-ranging bill that would sharply limit the government’s ability to use surveillance data — from NSA and other agencies — in criminal prosecutions. Michael Maharrey with the details at Turn it Off (a privacy advocacy group).
“Liberty” to discriminate –> Gabriel Arana writes at The Prospect that Hobby Lobby v. Sebellius — the Surpreme Court challenge to Obamacare’s contraception provision — might pave the way for discriminatory laws like the one that crashed and burned in Arizona last week.
More equal economies work better –> So writes Matthew O’Brien at The Atlantic after a new study was released that supports the claim.
Government subsidizing a group that hates government –> Virginia’s House Speaker, a former national chairman of ALEC, spiked a bill that would have ended tax-payer funds for lawmakers to travel to conferences whose “agendas and materials are not available to the public” — like ALEC’s. Josh Israel has the story for ThinkProgress.
Jailed for working a legal job –> Nora Caplan-Bricker reports for TNR that people are still being jailed for marijuana that’s legal in their states, and no pardons have been forthcoming.
This one’s bizarre –> Rep. Steve Stockman, running for a senate seat in Texas, has threatened to “jail” people for publishing an old mugshot of him back in the 1970s. Erich Lach reports — and publishes the pic — for TPM.
Putting drones to good use? –> Facebook is considering purchasing a company that manufactures high-altitude solar-powered drones that can fly for five years without landing. They would bring internet connectivity to parts of the world without access, beginning in Africa, reports Sarah Perez and Josh Constine for TechCrunch.
Do you have to shoot yourself? –> ThinkProgress headline says it all: “Kentucky Churches Giving Away Guns To Help People Discover Jesus.”
“We often swim there!” –> The BBC offers images of a giant snake eating a large crocodile, along with a charming interview with the Australian woman who took them. Not recommended for those with snake phobias.