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Dueling sanctions –> Russia recognized Crimea’s “independence” yesterday, in defiance of new US and EU sanctions, reports Karen DeYoung and Griff Witte for WaPo. Today, Vladimir Putin signed a treaty annexing the new republic, according to Rebecca Shabad at The Hill. AND: ABC’s Kirit Radia reports that Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister “laughed” at the sanctions, and Josh Rogin reports for The Daily Beast that Russia will return the favor by sanctioning the US.

Quid pro quo –> Nick Confessore reports for the NYT that a Utah investigation uncovered documents detailing how the predatory pay-day loan industry funded a former attorney general’s campaign through a series of non-profit groups set up for the purpose.

Go down to a crime scene and grab a burger –> Salon’s Josh Eidelson reports that NYC’s new public advocate is unveiling a series of proposals to rein in allegedly widespread wage theft in the fast-food industry.

Crack down –> TNR’s Danny Vinik writes that the Obama Administration is cracking down on for-profit colleges that leave students with mountains of debt, and says it’s a victory for America’s yutes. RELATED: Michelle Goldberg at The Nation: Starving College Students and the Shredded Social Contract.

Dark side of unionism –> At Jacobin, Shawn Gude writes that police unions are anything but progressive when it comes to issues other than pay and benefits for their members.

Intelligence agencies gone wild –> Jonathan Landay reports for McClatchy that former members of the Church Committee, which investigated domestic spying — and other abuses — in the 1970s, say it’s time for a new one.

Something went very wrong” at GM –> So says the automaker’s CEO about the company’s ten-year failure to fix a defect that killed 12 people. Bill Vlasic and Christopher Jensen report for the NYT.

Not everyone loves “Cosmos” –> MoJo’s Chris Mooney says that flat-earthers “science deniers” are “freaking out” over the science in the new science show. ALSO: Scientists have discovered the first direct evidence of ripples in space-time, as Einstein predicted in his general theory of relativity, in the instant after the Big Bang. Elizabeth Landau has an explainer at CNN.

Relitigating history –> An Alabama congressional candidate is outraged that a high school literature textbook includes Arthur Miller’s The Crucible because it is an allegory of the 1950s Red Scare, claiming that Joe McCarthy “turned out to be right.” Scot Kaufman reports for The Raw Story.

Whatever works –> Jason Furman writes at Democracy that targeted tax credits have “arguably” done more to alleviate poverty than most federal programs, and calls for their expansion.

The ideology of data-based journalism –> At TNR, Marc Tracy (gently) takes Nate Silver to task for believing that he brings no preconceived beliefs to his analyses.

Good governance in action –> The EU is trying to develop a single standard so that all cellphones use the same kind of charger.

Can we finally have a serious discussion about the importance of squeaky balls? –> Scandinavian scientists are developing a device that reads dogs’ brainwaves and translates them into “short sentences” that their humans can understand.

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