U.S, Russia swap sanctions; the latest on MH370; and more from the Slatest.

Slatest PM: Obama, Putin Swap Sanctions

Slatest PM: Obama, Putin Swap Sanctions

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March 20 2014 5:07 PM

Slatest PM: Obama, Putin Swap Sanctions

Russia's President Vladimir Putin looks on during his meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Kremlin in Moscow on March 20, 2014

Photo by Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

Tit For Tat: New York Times: "President Obama on Thursday announced that he would expand sanctions against Russia, blacklisting wealthy individuals with ties to the government and a bank used by them, and opening the door to broader measures against Russian energy exports. The measures deliver on Mr. Obama’s warning this week that the United States would ratchet up the costs for Russia if President Vladimir V. Putin moved to annex the breakaway province of Crimea. But they were aimed at forestalling further Russian incursions into eastern Ukraine, after what Mr. Obama described as troubling Russian military movements. In a tit-for-tat response, Moscow banned nine American officials from entering Russia, including Speaker John A. Boehner, the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, Senator John McCain of Arizona, as well as three senior White House officials."


Feeling the Squeeze: Associated Press: "Russia's most powerful businessmen waited for over an hour Thursday to hear from ... Putin, whose decision to annex the Crimean Peninsula has cost their companies hundreds of millions of dollars in market value. When Putin finally showed up, he spoke to them for five minutes—and gave them no reassurances that they or their companies will get any respite from the uncertainty created by the takeover of a piece of land of little value to them beyond national pride. Russia's economy has been pinched by the crisis over Crimea, even before the new sanctions the U.S. and Europe announced Thursday. The Russian stock market has tanked 10 percent this month, wiping out billions in market capitalization. Economists have slashed growth forecasts to zero this year and foreign investors have been pulling money out of Russian banks. The Standard & Poor's ratings agency on Thursday cited all these issues when it cut its outlook for the country."

It's Thursday, March 20th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.


MH370: Washington Post: "Australia’s prime minister said Thursday that two objects that may be pieces of a missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet have been spotted in the southern Indian Ocean. Prime Minister Tony Abbott told the Australian Parliament in Canberra that 'new and credible information has come to light' in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, with images of two objects gleaned from satellite imagery. ... The images released Thursday showed grainy whitish fragments in the black-blue ocean, thousands of miles from the northern flight path the plane took March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board. The images were taken by a commercial satellite, according to Australian authorities, and date-stamped March 16. ... The AMSA said one Australian and one American surveillance plane had already arrived in the area where the objects were spotted, with two more planes expected to reach the area later. However, poor visibility was hampering the air and satellite effort, and nothing had been spotted by the planes by early evening."

Westboro Leader Dies: Chicago Tribune: "Fred Phelps, the pastor who led a small Kansas church's vitriolic 'God Hates Fags' anti-gay campaign at public events across the United States, including military funerals, has died, the church said Thursday. Phelps, whose Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, won a 2011 freedom-of-speech U.S. Supreme Court decision related to their anti-gay picketing, died late Wednesday in a Kansas hospice. He was 84. 'People die—that is the way of all flesh,' a blog post on the church's website said. ... Phelps' church was widely denounced as a hate group and was not part of any mainstream Baptist organization. Its membership has been estimated at about 100, many of whom were related to Phelps."


General Avoids Jail Time: USA Today: "Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair was fined $20,000 and reprimanded but avoided jail time Thursday after he acknowledged committing adultery and mistreating his former mistress, an Army captain. The former deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division originally had faced sexual assault charges involving the junior officer. But the case against him fell apart after the trial judge ruled that the decision to seek trial might have been influenced by political considerations. Sinclair was prosecuted at a time when the military is under pressure from Congress and victim advocates for not doing enough to stem a rise in sexual abuse within the ranks. Sinclair, 51, was one of the highest-ranking military officers to face allegations of sexual assault. Army prosecutors did not ask for jail time for Sinclair, although the crimes he admitted technically carried a potential prison term"

Cinderella Watch: ESPN: "Dayton is re-configuring the college basketball map in Ohio. It no longer runs through Columbus after Vee Sanford's layup with 3.8 seconds left secured 11th-seeded Dayton's 60-59 victory over sixth-seeded Ohio State in the second round of the of the NCAA tournament on Thursday. ... After Ohio State's Aaron Craft hit a reverse layup with 15.5 seconds remaining, the Flyers set up a play during a timeout with 10.8 seconds left. Dayton inbounded the ball and worked it to Sanford on the right wing. Driving the lane without hesitation, he got a step on Craft and laid in a shot from about 4 feet away. ... The Flyers (24-10), of the Atlantic-10 Conference, who have won 11 of 13, advance to play the winner between third-seeded Syracuse and 14th-seeded Western Michigan in a South Region matchup on Saturday. It's one and done for the Big Ten Conference Buckeyes (25-10), who were eliminated in the first game for only the third time in 26th tournament appearances."

That's all for today. See you back here on tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.