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Friday Flashback: Ukraine crisis, CPAC, Obama budget and more

Ukrainians carrying their country's flags stage a protest at the Chongar check point blocking the entrance to Crimea on March 7, 2014.
Ukrainians carrying their country's flags stage a protest at the Chongar check point blocking the entrance to Crimea on March 7, 2014.

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It's the end of the week, which means its time for another Friday Flashback. It's our look at the week in news, and oh what a week it's been. To help us get through all the headline topics is columnist James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times and Nancy Cook of National Journal.

Let's start with the biggest story this week, the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine, which took another tense yesterday turn as allies of Russia in the Crimea peninsula sought to secede. The U.S. also imposed its first sanction. 

Officials in Crimea held a private vote on the question of secession, and there will be a special referendum vote next week. Explain what this referendum could mean for the region? In what position does this leave the U.S. and President Obama?

It was interesting that a Russian official compared the Crimea secession to the situation in the UK, where Scotland could become independent from Britain. Politically speaking, this is pretty clever, right?

Republicans have been quick to find fault with President Obama for the escalation of tensions there. Do you think that he does have any responsibility?

The White House reported that after President Obama announced the sanctions, he spent an hour talking with Russian president Vladimir Putin about a diplomatic settlement. Is this a case of talking tough in public but being more measured in private?

While we're on the subject of public tough talk, lets talk about the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC. The convention, which kicked off yesterday, is the largest annual meeting of conservatives. Usually it's where political hopefuls go to get a sense of how'd they do with conservatives. Who's looking to make a name for themselves? 

What about Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell coming to the stage with a gun? 

Last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wasn't invited, because he wasn't seen as conservative enough. But he was there this year. A change of strategy for Christie perhaps?

This week the Obama Administration released their budget, and a notable proposal was for an expansion of the earned income tax credit. So this seems like a way to expand the wages of low income workers without raising the minimum wage?

There's a story that I would like to talk about, because it doesn't seem to happen a lot: bipartisanship. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a vocal critic of the President met with Attorney General Eric Holder this week on something that they seem to agree on: the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences.  

Are you surprised that they are allies on this issue, or is this like a weird political venn diagram?

But although we're talking about bipartisanship, we can't ignore the incredible spat this week at a hearing questioning former IRS official Lois Lerner. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and ranking member Elijah Cummings got into it after Issa abruptly ended the hearing, before Cummings had a chance to talk. 

Now since that incident Issa told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he had personally apologized to Representative Cummings, and that he should have, "handled the situation differently."