President Obama has condemned Russia's intervention in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, while Secretary of State John Kerry has been meeting with European, Russian and Ukrainian leaders in search of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
Here are some of the measures the U.S. has taken in recent days:
The White House unveiled new steps Thursday to punish those behind the unrest in Ukraine. It announced a visa ban on Russian and Ukrainian officials. Those already with U.S. visas will have them revoked. No individuals were named, nor did the statement say how many officials there were, but The New York Times, citing a senior administration official, said there were about a dozen individuals, mostly Russian, who are affected.
Additionally, President Obama signed an executive order that provides a framework for further sanctions. A senior administration official said those steps could include "powerful financial sanctions on individuals and entities" responsible for the situation in Ukraine.
The U.S. has suspended preparatory meetings for the upcoming Group of 8 summit in Sochi, Russia. It has also canceled talks on trade and commercial ties to Russia. And, the White House announced this week it wouldn't send a presidential delegation to the Paralympic Games in Sochi.
In Washington, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met this week with the leaders of the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova. Relations between Georgia and Russia are tense, and the two countries fought a brief war in 2008, over the Georgian enclave of South Ossetia.
The U.S. canceled military consultations with Russia. Additionally, the Defense Department said it would, as a reassurance, expand flights over the Baltic nations, all former Soviet states. And next week, the U.S. will send F-16 fighter jets to central Poland to take part in an expanded military exercise.
"We continue to reassure our Eastern European allies that at this very delicate and potentially destabilizing time, the United States is strongly committed to their security," a senior administration official said.
The House approved a measure for approximately $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine, and in a resolution, the House Foreign Relations Committee condemned Russia's actions.
In the Senate, lawmakers are pushing for a measure that would blacklist certain Russians, some Russian banks and companies.
U.S. lawmakers have also called for an increased missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
There is a precedent for much of what's happening in Ukraine: Russia's 2008 war with Georgia. As we told you this week:
"Back in 2008, the former Soviet republic of Georgia tried militarily to recapture South Ossetia, a part of the country that had broken away and enjoyed de facto autonomy since the 1990s. Russia invaded, saying it was protecting South Ossetia's Russian population."
After his failed attempts to get Putin to change his mind, then-President George W. Bush ordered U.S. ships to the region. The U.S. military transported home Georgian troops who were then serving in Iraq. Bush also sent humanitarian aid to Georgia, and put on ice a pending nuclear agreement with Russia.
Still, any effective action is likely to need European cooperation, something that may not be easy to come by.
And if you're looking for context about Russia's role in Ukraine and Crimea, you can read the stories below:
Credit-card rivals Visa and MasterCard said Friday they have formed an industry-wide group aimed at improving payment security in the wake of a number of breaches that compromised customers' data.
"The recent high-profile breaches have served as a catalyst for much needed collaboration between the retail and financial services industry on the issue of payment security," Visa President Ryan McInerney said in the statement.
According to Reuters:
"The new group, which will include banks, credit unions, retailers and industry trade groups, will initially focus on the adoption of the safer 'EMV' chip technology in the United States, MasterCard and Visa said on Friday."
"EMV chip technology, already used in Europe and Asia, stores information on computer chips rather than on traditional magnetic strips. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the companies that launched the technology."
The Wall Street Journal writes:
"The events have ... reignited bickering between retailers and financial institutions, who have accused each other of dragging their feet on adopting technology that could limit the impact of data breaches."
"'Only through industry collaboration and cooperation will we address the real and immediate issue of security,' Chris McWilton, president of North American Markets for MasterCard, said in a statement."
NPR's Elise Hu reported in January that the move away from magnetic stripe technology toward the EMV chips had reached a tipping point in recent months:
"Industry leaders know magnetic stripes are outdated and easily exploitable. The rest of the world moved on to a more secure, harder-to-hack payment system based on chip-enabled cards — chip and PIN. Chip-enabled cards are more secure because the data on the chip are hidden behind encryption. So even if criminals intercept what's on it, they can't reuse it."
On Thursday, Newsweek's Leah McGrath Goodman reported that she had found the founder of the crypto-currency Bitcoin — the elusive Satoshi Nakamoto, a person or group of people whose true identity has been unknown.
As we discussed Thursday ('Newsweek' Says It Found Bitcoin's Founder: 4 Things To Know), this isn't the first time journalists have tried to pinpoint the real Satoshi Nakamoto. But this certainly has garnered the most attention.
It sparked a good, old-fashioned media frenzy — reporters swarmed the Los Angeles area home of Dorian né Satoshi Nakamoto, chased him in their cars as he drove to lunch with Associated Press reporter Ryan Nakashima, and reported on his statement to the AP denying that he was the brilliant enigma who created Bitcoin — "I got nothing to do with it," Dorian Nakamoto said.
But Goodman told Jeremy Hobson on NPR's Here And Now Friday that she stands by her reporting.
His family told me that he would deny it. In fact, I was very surprised when he acknowledged it to me when I met with him. ... I said, "People think that you are the founder of Bitcoin," ... and he said, "I cannot talk about that, I'm not connected with it anymore."
And I reasserted, "We are talking about Bitcoin here, correct?" and he said "Yes!" ... and in addition, my last question to him was: "If you are in any way not connected, you need to tell me. You need to tell me now." And he said, "I cannot do that."
Now, as we have mentioned before, a lot of people don't know or care what Bitcoin is (If You've Ignored Bitcoin Up Until Now, This One's For You). And if you're not a part of the Bitcoin community, its newsworthy successes and pitfalls don't affect you. So what if you can use your Bitcoin on OKCupid? So what if a hacker stole $480 million worth of Bitcoin in February? It's interesting if you care; if you don't, you haven't lost a dime.
But Bitcoin relies on people knowing and caring about it to establish legitimacy. There needs to be faith in the system, faith that Bitcoin is real, faith you can give someone a bitcoin and get something valuable in return.
As Goodman tells Here And Now: "I think there is definitely a future of Bitcoin as long as people believe in it."
With a media swarm, a car chase and a Twitter frenzy, Thursday's story has gotten more mainstream attention than any other Bitcoin-related news event. It doesn't deal with hard-to-grasp concepts like cryptography or Bitcoin mining — it just appeals to human curiosity. And if that's not enough to make people pay attention, what is?
Our post on sexual harassment in bars sure stuck a nerve.
Earlier this week we covered a study from the University of Toronto that found that men who were sexually aggressive in bars weren't necessarily drunk, and that their actions usually weren't the result of miscommunication.
The researchers hired and trained young adults to go into bars in the Toronto area and observe people's behavior. They found that 90 percent of the victims of sexual aggression were women being harassed by men — and that the perpetrators' aggressiveness didn't correlate with their level of intoxication.
Bystanders and bar staff rarely intervened, according to the study, which was published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Two thirds of the incidents involved nonconsensual touch; in other cases the aggressors threatened contact or verbally harassed their targets.
Hundreds of you weighed in, and the debate was passionate. Several people felt that the study merely confirmed the obvious.
Yep, you don't have to be drunk to be a creep, and just because you are drunk doesn't automatically make you a creep. No surprise there.
But many readers said that the focus should be on the aggressors' behavior, not that of victims.
Shifting the focus to the women's behavior suggests that women are able to stop these predators. That is how it becomes victim blaming. Society needs to spend as much time scrutinizing the predatory behavior of men as it does focusing on the behavior of women who encounter them. Without the presence of predatory men the incidents just would not happen.
Mae Flexer, a representative in the Connecticut General Assembly and chair of Assembly's Task Force on Domestic Violence, called in to point out that we should avoid putting undue blame on both men and women.
"Yes, women being intoxicated makes it easier for predators to act out their aggression against women, but these predators are going to do this anyway, whether women are drunk or sober, and I think that's a very important point to get across," she tells Shots.
"It's also important when we talk about these issues that we're not talking about men in the collective," she says. "We need to show that we recognize that the men who commit these crimes are a very small portion of the population."
Yet other readers pointed out that bad behavior isn't limited to Saturday night.
It should also be noted ... the reason for the men targeting these women in this study was because they were "less able to rebuff them". Think of how often these same men are aggressive and predatory in other situations where women are less able to seek justice! For example, when they are alone with women, when they are supervisors or in positions of power over women, when the woman is has a physical or mental handicaps, etc. This kind of harassment isn't limited to bars!
But bars aren't a bad place to start trying to figure out a solution.
We called up Lauren Taylor, one of the organizers behind Washington DC's Safe Bars initiative, and asked her what her group's trying to do.
The initiative's goal, Taylor told Shots, is to educate bystanders on what to do when they see sexual aggression. Taylor says the organization hopes to work with bars in DC and train staff to intervene and help victims of aggression.
Bystanders can help in many ways, Taylor says. "For example, you might go up to somebody who is being targeted and say 'Your friend is calling over there.' " A bystander could also address perpetrators directly and ask them to cut it out, she says.
Her group tries to educate bystanders and staff on how to safely intervene. But she realizes that this goes beyond just how people behave on Saturday night. "Really what we're talking about is changing rape culture," Taylor says. "[Rape culture] is the overall messaging throughout our culture that says this kind of behavior is allowed."
That includes the idea that "boys will be boys," or that women at bars should expect bad behavior at bars, she says. And though most men aren't perpetrators of sexual aggression, the majority of perpetrators are men, Taylor says.
"Men can go out and get drunk, and run a whole bunch of risks including getting in a car accident, blacking out or getting alcohol poisoning," Taylor says. "Women run those same risks. But men never have to think 'I shouldn't get drunk because someone is going to rape me.' "