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FROM THIS EPISODE

Are sudden pardons a PR move to counter international criticism of Russia’s record on human rights, or is President Putin responding to larger forces, at home and abroad? Also, tonight's the deadline to sign up for Obamacare for a January 1 start date, and identity theft and holiday shopping. Barbara Bogaev guest hosts.

Banner image: Freed Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky (R) poses with father Boris and son Pavel (L), ahead of a news conference in the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, December 22, 2013. Photo: Michael Kappeler/Reuters

Producers:
Evan George
Jenny Hamel
Benjamin Gottlieb

Main Topic Power and Amnesty in Putin's Russia 34 MIN, 19 SEC

Today brought the release of the two remaining members of the punk protest band Pussy Riot from Russian prison. President Vladimir Putin pardoned them as part of a mass amnesty of thousands of political activists, including Greenpeace protesters the Arctic 30 and oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. It all comes just six weeks before the start of the Sochi Olympics. Are the pardons a move to counter international criticism of Russia's record on human rights, or is Putin responding to larger forces? As Russia celebrates the 20th anniversary of its constitution, we hear how the international community's uproar over LGBT rights is playing out in the Russian media and on the ground, and what the current sparring over the Olympics bodes for US-Russian relations. 

Guests:
Andrew S. Weiss, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (@andrewsweiss)
Sergei Guriev, Paris Institute of Political Studies (@sguriev)
Michael Weiss, The Interpreter (@michaeldweiss)
Alan Abrahamson, 3 Wire Sports (@alanabrahamson)

Today's Talking Point Identity Theft: How Companies Learn, Lose, Your Secrets 8 MIN, 57 SEC

Last week thieves stole the financial information of some 40 million Target shoppers who swiped their cards inside the big box stores. It's just the latest crime in what has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, the collection and brokering of personal information: where you shop, what you buy and even when you buy it. Charles Duhigg, staff writer for the New York Times and author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, look at buying in an age of identity theft.

Guests:
Charles Duhigg, New York Times (@cduhigg)

The Power of Habit

Charles Duhigg

Making News Deadline Tonight to Sign up for Obamacare for January Start Date 8 MIN, 26 SEC

Midnight tonight is the official deadline to sign up through the federal health exchanges for Obamacare coverage starting on January 1. But just today the government has extended it until tomorrow – just another sign of the muddled messaging over the new healthcare program. How well is the newly amped up federal site handling this last minute rush? Roberta Rampton is the White House correspondent for Reuters.

Guests:
Roberta Rampton, Reuters (@robertarampton)

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