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Today’s Headlines and Commentary

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Friday, March 28, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Russian troops are amassing and gathering at the Ukrainian border. The Washington Post reports that U.S. is worried that Russia is preparing for another “major incursion” and not preparing for simple military exercises, as Russia is claiming.

Both chambers in Congress have passed their own versions of a comprehensive aid package for Ukraine. The bills are similar, but they do need to be reconciled before one can reach President Obama’s desk. The National Journal reports that both proposals would provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, while the Senate bill also includes sanctions targeted against President Putin.  (Some controversial reforms to the IMF were eventually dropped.)

The IMF, meanwhile, is preparing $18 billion in loans for Ukraine. The New York Times explains that the loans, which would come into the country over two years, are contingent on numerous changes in Ukraine, including the reduction of corruption and the reduction of “huge state subsidies for the consumption of natural gas.”

Part of the much needed change in Ukraine may come from a familiar face: Yulia V. Tymoshenko, form Prime Minister of Ukraine, has announced that she plans to run for president in May, according to the Times. Tymoshenko spent over two years in prison after she lost a presidential race in 2010 against former President Viktor Yanukovych. She was released from prison just hours after Mr. Yanukovych fled the presidential palace in Kiev.

While in Brussels yesterday, President Obama declared that neither Ukraine nor Georgia are “currently on a path to NATO membership.” This came as a bit of a shock to Georgia, which had been making moves in that direction since Russia occupied Crimea. The Daily Beast reports that with Russia naturally angry at Georgia’s public intentions to integrate into NATO, and now with President Obama’s rebuke, Georgia is left in a somewhat lonely position.

And, in an interview that aired this morning on CBS, President Obama lambasted President Putin, saying he is “misreading” the situation in the world today and reverting to Cold War tactics. Politico has more on the president’s pointed words.

President Obama apparently was a bit more reserved during his meeting with Pope Francis yesterday.

The Air Force has dismissed nine officers, and accepted the resignation of a Montana base commander.  The cause was cheating by lower-ranking personnel on proficiency tests concerning intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Times reports.  

The United Nations has condemned North Korea’s recent test-missile launch. After an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council at the United States’ urging, the Council deemed the missile launch a “violation of Security Council resolution(s).” Al Jazeera has more on the council’s likely response.

A recent rise in homophobic “anti-gay” laws popping up across Africa have encouraged a LGBT rights activists on the continent to start speaking up. The LA Times reports an emergence of unlikely activists, but individuals who feel the need to start rallying against the “Nazi-like” repressions.

And you thought there wasn’t going to be any metadata news today.  Well, here’s some, kinda: according to the Washington Post, Rep. Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and co-sponsor of a recent NSA reform bill, will retire at the end of this term.

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