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Annexing Crimea is a done deal as far as Vladimir Putin is concerned, but the US and Europe are ready to ramp up economic sanctions.  We look at the possible downsides for both East and West and at diplomatic relations since the Cold War. Also, Toyota's $1.2 billion settlement for acceleration problems, and the latest from documents revealed by Edward Snowden: the NSA can record 100% of an entire nation's telephone calls and listen in later.

Banner image: President Putin (C) announces Crimea's accession to the Russian Federation, March 18, 2014. At his right is Sergei Aksyonov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Crimea. Photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office

Toyota to Pay $1.2 Billion Settlement for Acceleration Problems 7 MIN, 27 SEC

The Justice Department has reached a $1.2 billion settlement to end a four-year criminal probe of safety issues involving Toyota. Attorney General Eric Holder called Toyota's conduct "shameful," showing a blatant disregard for systems and laws designed to look after the safety of consumers. By the company's own admission, it protected its brand ahead of its own customers. This constitutes a clear and reprehensible abuse of the public trust." Devlin Barrett reports on the Justice Department for the Wall Street Journal.

Devlin Barrett, Washington Post (@DevlinBarrett)

WSJ on Congress launching investigation into GM recall

Ukraine and Crimea: The Fallout Continues 34 MIN, 31 SEC

In yesterday's speech to Russia's ruling elite, Vladimir Putin said, according to this translation, "Don't believe those who scare you with Russia, who yell that Crimea will be followed by other regions."  He said he did not intend to further divide Ukraine, but that annexing Crimea is part of re-unifying what he calls "historical Russia." Despite international outrage, it looks like a done deal. So far, Russia is feeling no pain from economic sanctions, but the US and Europe plan three steps of escalation starting tomorrow. How much economic damage will the West have to absorb in order to make a difference? Might Ukraine be better off without a restive Crimea? What will a confrontation with Russia mean for US policy toward Syria and Iran?

Mujtaba Rahman, Eurasia Group (@EurasiaGroup)
Christopher J. Miller, Radio Free Europe (@ChristopherJM)
Jack Matlock, former diplomat
Paul Pillar, Georgetown University / Brookings Institution (@GeorgetownCSS)

EU on Ukraine, Crimea, sanctions
McCain on Ukraine

Superpower Illusions

Jack F. Jr. Matlock

NSA Can Record 100% of a Foreign Country's Calls 8 MIN, 10 SEC

Based on documents supplied by Edward Snowden, it's reported that the National Security Agency is capable of recording 100% of an entire foreign nation's telephone calls, and listening to them as long as a month after they've taken place. MYSTIC was begun in 2009 and reached full capacity against a target nation in 2011. That's according to yesterday's Washington Post, which broke the story. The paper's withholding details as to which countries have been involved at the request of US officials. Co-writer Ashkan Soltani is an independent researcher and consultant.

Ashkan Soltani, independent researcher and consultant (@ashk4n)

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