Senate Blocks: Associated Press: "The Senate on Thursday blocked a bill that would have stripped senior military commanders of their authority to prosecute or prevent charges for alleged rapes and other serious offenses, capping an emotional, nearly yearlong fight over how to curb sexual assault in the ranks. The vote was 55-45, short of the 60 necessary to move ahead on the legislation sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. Defeated but unbowed, the senator received hugs from Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., after the vote. The Pentagon's leadership vigorously opposed the measure, arguing that officers should have more responsibility, not less, for the conduct of the men and women they lead."
The Battlefied: New York Times: "The debate pitted the Senate’s 20 women against one another, and seemed bound to leave hard feelings, given that a solid majority of the Senate actually backed Ms. Gillibrand’s proposal. ... Several Republicans, including Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, supported the Gillibrand proposal, and expressed deep frustration with the military’s failure to stem the number of sexual assaults. Congress began scrutinizing the sexual assault problem in the military after a recent series of highly publicized cases, including one at the Naval Academy, and after the release of new data from the Pentagon on the issue. On Sept. 30, 2013, the end of the last fiscal year, about 1,600 sexual assault cases in the military were either awaiting action from commanders or the completion of a criminal investigation."
Crimea Inches Closer to Russia: Reuters: "Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia on Thursday and its Moscow-backed government set a referendum on the decision in 10 days' time in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula. U.S. President Barack Obama led European Union and Ukrainian criticism of the proposed vote, saying it would violate international law. The sudden acceleration of moves to bring Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority and has effectively been seized by Russian forces, formally under Moscow's rule came as European Union leaders held an emergency summit groping for ways to pressure Russia to back down and accept mediation. ... In a signal to Moscow, Obama announced plans to punish Russians and Ukrainians involved in what he called 'threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,' ordering the freezing of their U.S. assets and a ban on travel to the United States. A U.S. official said Russian President Vladimir Putin was not on the list."
The World: Turkey’s Black Sea Blues
House Action: Los Angeles Times: "The Republican-controlled House approved up to $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine on Thursday, backing President Obama's request to help the new government. The aid package sailed through the House on a robust bipartisan vote of 385-23, even as Republicans in Congress have voiced criticism of Obama's foreign policy leadership. The measure won support from many fiscal conservatives who typically resist such spending bills because the funding will come from a State Department loan program that has already been allocated. Still, all 23 no votes came from Republicans, among them budget hard-liners. ... The loan guarantees are also expected to be approved by the Senate."
Pussy Riot Attacked (Again): Guardian: "Two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot were attacked by a group of men who poured rubbish and bright green paint over them and shouted obscenities at them at a McDonald's restaurant. A video, uploaded by the group on Thursday, shows at least three men attacking Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, shouting "[Go] to America!" and shooting paint into their faces from syringes in the city of Nizhny Novgorod." VIDEO
2016 Watch: Washington Post: "More Republican voters would definitely vote against all of the leading GOP candidates for president than would definitely vote for any of them, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll testing the 2016 field. ... There is no true frontrunner as Democrats have in Hillary Clinton. Even former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who many people view as the favorite if he decides to run, only has 15 percent of Republicans saying they would definitely vote for him while 18 percent said they would definitely vote against him. ... Chris Christie should be worried. Three in ten Republicans said they would definitely not vote for the New Jersey governor, the highest 'won't vote for number of any of the nine candidates tested. ... No one knows who Scott Walker is. ... The two candidates best positioned to appeal across a wide spectrum of the GOP are Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rand Paul (Ky.). While more people say they will definitely vote against each man than say they will definitely vote for either, the differences are statistically insignificant."
Norway's "Memory Wound": NBC News: "A memorial to the 77 people slain three years ago by a lone-wolf terrorist in Norway will cut right through the heart — and straight through an island. Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg was unanimously selected to design two public art installations that will memorialize the victims killed July 22, 2011 in an Oslo car bombing and a subsequent mass shooting on the island of Utøya. ... The centerpiece to the memorials is an 11-foot cut through the island, to be called 'Memory Wound.' The artist said the installation will represent a wound within nature itself from the tragic loss of life. The memorial will start with a guided pathway through the forest, about a five- or 10-minute walk. It will then lead to a tunnel, which will bring people inside the landscape right to the cut itself. Across from the cut will be the names of those who died carved in stone, close enough to see and read."
Future Tense: Oscar Mayer's Alarm Clock Sounds and Smells Like Bacon
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