Need To Know
Hello, Vladimir? It's Barack. We gotta talk. President Barack Obama apparently held a lengthy phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the current crisis in Ukraine, more specifically, in Crimea.
Putin made sure to tell Obama that Ukraine's new government came to power in an unconstitutional coup and imposed "absolutely illegitimate decisions on the eastern, southeastern and Crimea regions."
Obama, for his part, told Putin that "Russia’s actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," according to the White House. He urged the Russian president to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Putin said, however, that "Russia cannot ignore calls for help" from Russian speakers in Ukraine "and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with the international law."
Russia's parliament has supported the Crimean parliament's plan to hold a referendum on March 16 on leaving Ukraine and joining Russia, but Putin has not yet given his assent.
Not everyone in Crimea wants to become part of Russia, as Ben C. Solomon found when he spoke to the Crimean Tatar community. "We don't want to be with Russia. We don't want that. And Ukraine will not allow this."
Want To Know
Shooting thyself in the foot. “This ruined the reputation of China and the Chinese government, and seriously damaged the international image of China’s national interests,” wrote Tong Zhiwei, a legal scholar.
What was he talking about? Gary Locke, the US ambassador to China, is leaving the country after serving in his post for two and a half years.
An op-ed in the official China News Service denounced him as a “banana man” with “yellow skin and a white heart,” as an especially caustic farewell.
The move backfired, with the racist op-ed generating a huge backlash in China as well as in American media.
"It’s fitting that a high-profile Communist Party embarrassment accompanies Ambassador Locke’s departure from Beijing. Locke has a gift for making the Chinese government look bad without trying," wrote Ben Carlson.
Locke became something of a folk hero, when compared to Communist Party officials. Carlson looked at his accomplishments that have so angered China.
Clearing up some canard. Stop us if you've heard this one: Thanks to defense spending cuts, the US Army will be smaller than at any time since before World War II.
"The claim is correct if you consider the 270,000-strong US Army of 1940 a 1-1 match for modern forces," wrote Michael Moran. "But that would be like pointing to the US Navy in 1945, with 6,700 vessels, and assuming it would defeat today’s Navy, currently at about 278 ships."
Moran debunked this and other myths stemming from US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's plan to cut defense spending from a wartime high of $729 billion to about $496 billion annually.
Strange But True
Like teaching a bird how to fly. "We've actually had to teach him how to fly by running up and down the beach flapping our arms."
Meet Big Bird. He isn't yellow, and he doesn't live on Sesame Street.
Big Bird is a young pelican who got lost when a powerful storm swept over Lake Tanganyika in Africa four months ago.
Now, there are few things sadder than a baby animal losing his way, but fear not, this story has a happy ending.
After the storm passed, the staff of a nearby resort in Tanzania, called Greystoke Mahale, found the then-unnamed pelican and nursed him back to health.
Once Mr. Bird got the hang of flying (with lots of tutoring from humans flapping their arms), someone had the genius idea to strap a camera to his bill.
And the rest is scenic landscapes. Happy flying, Big Bird!