Tag Archives: Russia

10 things you need to know today: April 18, 2014

Tensions remain high in Ukraine, despite Thursday's deal. 

Tensions remain high in Ukraine, despite Thursday’s deal. (AP Photo)

The Week

Russia and Ukraine strike a deal, an avalanche kills 12 on Mount Everest, and more

1. Russia agrees to deal on easing tensions in Ukraine
Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union struck a deal Thursday calling for pro-Russia separatists to surrender local government buildings they seized in eastern Ukraine. The agreement also spells out steps to defuse tensions. President Obama said the deal was promising but if it fizzles the U.S. still could impose more sanctions on Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to rule out sending troops if violence escalates. [The New York Times]

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2. Mount Everest avalanche kills at least 12
An avalanche killed at least 12 Nepalese Sherpa guides on Mount Everest early Friday. It was the deadliest disaster ever on the world’s highest mountain. Three other guides are still missing. The guides had set out early to fix ropes for other climbers below Camp 2. Hundreds of climbers, along with their guides and support crews, are gathered at the base camp to attempt to reach the 29,035-foot summit when weather permits next month. [The Associated Press]

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3. ObamaCare enrollments topped 8 million by Tuesday’s deadline
More than eight million people signed up for ObamaCare health plans by Tuesday’s enrollment deadline, President Obama announced Thursday. The tally exceeded the estimate administration officials made last summer by one million, despite terrible glitches when the health law’s online insurance exchanges launched last fall. The number of young people signing up fell short of White House hopes. Still, Obama said, “this thing is working.” [CNBC]

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4. South Korea ferry slips underwater as death toll climbs
The death toll from the South Korea ferry disaster reached 28 on Friday. Hopes for saving the 270 still missing dimmed as the ship became completely submerged in frigid Yellow Sea waters. Despite strong currents, two divers managed to enter the hull to search for trapped survivors. Anarrest warrant was issued for Captain Lee Joon Suk, and a vice principal who accompanied high school students on board hanged himself after being rescued. [CNNABC News]

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5. Texas seizes jailed polygamist Warren Jeffs’ ranch
Texas authorities have seized the secluded ranch of imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs, leader of the Utah-based Fundamentalist LDS Church. Only eight adults were still living at the compound. The FBI and police raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April 2008 to investigate allegations that underage girls there were being forced into polygamist marriages. Jeffs was convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting two child brides. He is serving a life sentence. [The Associated Press]

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6. Scientists discover the most Earth-like planet ever seen
Researchers have discovered the first Earth-sized planet in another solar system’s habitable zone, meaning it is at the right distance from its star to allow it to hold liquid water and support life. The rocky planet, which has been named Kepler 186f, is 500 light years away. The find, made with the now defunct Kepler telescope, marked a leap forward in the hunt for life on another planet. “This is a historic discovery,” one astronomer said. [Popular Mechanics]

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7. Gunmen kill dozens at U.N. base in South Sudan
Armed youths, pretending to be peaceful protesters, attacked a United Nations compound in South Sudan on Thursday, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens more. Nearly 5,000 civiliansand U.N. personnel are being sheltered at the base in the war-ravaged town of Bor. The roughly 350 attackers reportedly broke the gate. “They came in and started shooting indiscriminately,” said Toby Lanzer, U.N. assistant secretary general in South Sudan. [BBC NewsReuters]

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8. Suspect arrested in Kansas City highway shootings
Kansas City police have arrested a man suspected in a series of apparently random freeway shootings that has left nine people injured since last month. Nobody has been killed, but the attacks have frightened motorists in and around the city, with many telling journalists they have altered their driving habits to stay safe. A neighbor said the suspect, who was not immediately charged, kept odd, late hours: “The dude was like a ghost.” [The Kansas City Star]

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9. Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton announces pregnancy
Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are expecting their first child. “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me,” said Clinton, 34, with her mother, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by her side. The baby is due in the fall. The surprise announcement comes as Hillary Clinton weighs a second run for the presidency in 2016. [The Washington Post]

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10. Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies
Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, master of the magical realism genre and winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, died Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. His novelOne Hundred Years of Solitude was considered one of the great books of the 20th century. It helped establish Garcia Marquez as one of the rare writers, along with such icons as Dickens and Hemingway, who was embraced by critics and the public alike. [The New York Times]

 

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Snowden Calls Putin To Talk NSA…

No word from Edward Snowden regarding Putin’s invasion and takeover of Crimea or his Ukraine antics, yet he participates in a staged call-in show to embarrass the POTUS.  I don’t like the surveillance programs in this country either, but his “patriotism” for his “motherland” has diminished significantly.  Since his buddies who wrote about his story got Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, he seems to feel more empowered than ever, to pull off a stunt like this…

The Hill 

The exchange between Putin and Snowden appeared to be a piece of theater crafted by the Kremlin  and designed to embarrass the Obama administration amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine.

Edward Snowden called into a Russian state television program on Thursday and asked President Vladimir Putin about whether Moscow has surveillance programs similar to those exposed by the former government contractor.

The exchange between Putin and Snowden appeared to be a piece of theater crafted by the Kremlin  and designed to embarrass the Obama administration amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine.

“I’ve seen little public discussion of Russia’s own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance,” Snowden, a former government contractor facing espionage charges in the U.S., told Putin via video message.

“So I’d like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?”

In response, Putin said that bulk collection programs “cannot exist’ under Russian law.

“We don’t like a mass system of such interception,” Putin said, according to a translation from state-run broadcaster Russia Today.

“I hope we won’t do that, and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States and don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States,” he added. “Our special services, thanks God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law.”

The exchange was all the more remarkable given Snowden’s asylum in Russia, where he traveled after first fleeing the U.S. for Hong Kong.

Moscow has faced pressure from the U.S. to send Snowden back to Washington.

Snowden’s question to Putin took place a day after President Obama accused Putin of being behind uprisings in eastern Ukraine by Russian separatists. In a television interview, Obama also said Russia didn’t want a military confrontation with the U.S. because of the Pentagon’s superiority.

Snowden’s leaks about National Security Agency programs were turned into stories in the Washington Post and The Guardian that this week were awarded with the Pulitzer Prize. But the espionage charges against Snowden could put him behind bars for decades if he returns to the United States.

Snowden fled to Russia last year shortly after releasing documents showing that the NSA conducts wide surveillance efforts to track people’s phone calls and online activity, among other operations.

He has been sharply criticized for choosing Russia, where the government routinely cracks down on journalists. Opponents have claimed that Snowden is working with foreign powers or, at the least, has given secret U.S. documents to Russian spies. Supporters have denied the charge.

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10 things you need to know today: April 10, 2014

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett waits to speak about the stabbings. 

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett waits to speak about the stabbings. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Week

A student is charged with a high-school stabbing rampage, Chris Christie catches a break, and more

1. Pennsylvania student charged with high school stabbings
A 16-year-old boy was accused of stabbing at least 21 people in a rampage at a Murrysville, Penn. high school on Wednesday. Four were in critical condition. Witnesses said the student, Alex Hribal, moved through the hallways with two kitchen knives before being tackled by a security officer and a vice principal. Another student, Nate Scimio, was praised as a hero for sending people fleeing by pulling a fire alarm, and defending a girl before being slashed. [Reuters]

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2. Judge shields ex-Christie aides from Bridgegate subpoenas
A New Jersey judge ruled Wednesday that two former aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie do not have to comply with subpoenas for records related to the Bridgegate scandal. Some state officials have complied and provided documents, but Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and his former campaign manager, Bill Stepien, were fighting a demand to turn over information on the allegedly politically motivated bridge-lane closures. [Asbury Park Press]

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3. Russia didn’t tell the U.S. about Tsarnaev’s talk of jihad
The Russian government knew that one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the late Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had discussed Islamic jihad in a phone call with his mother, but didn’t tell the FBI until after last year’s deadly attack. Russia had the information, which should have prompted heightened scrutiny of Tsarnaev, for two years before sharing it. Before the deadly bombing, all Russia had told the FBI was that Tsarnaev believed in radical Islam. [The New York Times]

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4. Search chief says Malaysia Airlines plane will be found soon
Australian authorities shrank the area where crews are looking for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 on Wednesday after the detection of fresh pings believed to have come from the plane’s black-box recorders. “I’m now optimistic that we will find the aircraft… in the not too distant future,” said Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who’s coordinating the search. The area in the southern Indian Ocean is still as big as South Carolina. [CNN]

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5. GOP senators reject equal pay bill
Republican Senators blocked a Democratic bill on pay equality on Wednesday, unanimously backing a filibuster to prevent the opening of debate. The bill sought to narrow the pay gapbetween men and women by making it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers who ask about or disclose their wages. Democrats said the bill would increase fairness. Republicans said it would only increase lawsuits. [The Washington Post]

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6. Car crashes into Florida day-care center
One girl was killed and 14 other children were injured on Wednesday when a car crashed into a central Florida day-care center. Authorities were searching for a man, Robert Corchado, whose SUV they believe sent another vehicle slamming into the building. Police said Corchado fled the horrific scene. “It was just kids on the ground and there was teachers giving CPR,” one witness said. “It was horrible.” [CNN]

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7. Alleged cartel enforcer reportedly confesses to 40 killings
A man accused of nine contract killings in Central California has confessed to killing 40 people over several decades as a drug-cartel hitman, police said Wednesday. Jose Manuel Martinez, 51, was arrested last year after entering Arizona from Mexico, and allegedly told investigators about the murders while in custody. Martinez faces a June trial in Alabama, but says he is innocent of the charge there, a defense attorney said. [The Associated Press]

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8. Embarrassed congressman decides not to ask who leaked damning video
Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) reportedly has decided not to ask the FBI to look into who leaked a surveillance video showing him kissing a staff member in his district office. McAllister, a first-term representative who ran as a devout family values Baptist, has apologized for his actions. The woman’s husband has called McAllister, saying he and his wife, who quit her job after a local paper posted the video online, are heading for divorce. [The Christian Science Monitor]

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9. George H.W. Bush greets the Obamas in Houston
Former president George H.W. Bush went to Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport on Wednesday to greet President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama. “When the president comes to your home town,” Bush said, “you show up to meet him.” After a brief visit with the Republican former president, Obama headed to a meeting with 30 members of the Democratic National Committee and a Democratic fundraiser. [Houston Chronicle]

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10. UMass guard Derrick Gordon becomes first openly gay Division I player
University of Massachusetts basketball player Derrick Gordon announced to ESPN and Outsports that he was gay, becoming the first openly gay player in Division I men’s college basketball. Gordon, a starting sophomore shooting guard, said he told his parents, coaches, and teammates, then decided to make a public announcement because he didn’t want to hide. He said he had been waiting for a player to come out. “Finally I just said, ‘Why not me?’” [ESPN]

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10 things you need to know today: March 15, 2014

Not seeing eye to eye. 

Not seeing eye to eye. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

The Week

U.S., Russia talks break down, missing Malaysian plane may have been deliberately diverted, and more

1. U.S., Russia talks fail to broker agreement on Crimea crisis
With Sunday’s scheduled referendum looming, the U.S. and Russia were unable to agree on a solution to the Ukrainian crisis on Friday. As Western nations express concern over Russian troop movements along the Ukrainian border, Russia’s Sergey V. Lavrov insisted the country has no invasion plans. But, in 11th-hour talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Lavrov also maintained that disputed peninsula Crimea has a right to self-determination. [The New York Times,Los Angeles Times]
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2. Malaysian PM: ‘Deliberate action’ diverted missing plane
Saying the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is entering a “new phase,”Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak reported on Saturday that investigators have determined “deliberate action by someone on the plane” was taken to divert the flight’s course. Malaysian authorities now believe the plane may have flown for up to seven more hours after losing its communications systems. Razak outlined two possible paths on which the plane may have continued, one south toward Australia, the other north over heavily monitored airspaces such as Pakistan, India, and even the United States’ Bagram Air Base. [The Washington Post]
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3. Five cities — one in Ukraine — submit bids for 2022 Winter Games
Five cities completed applications for the 2022 Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee’s Friday deadline: Lviv, Ukraine; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing, China; Krakow, Poland; and Oslo, Norway. The IOC will whittle the contenders this summer before selecting a winner in July 2015. Ukraine’s Lviv bid team hopes the country’s crisis will not affect its chances, but “of course, it’s very uncertain,” Sergej Gontcharov, CEO of the Lviv bid, said. “I’m not here telling fairytales.” [The Associated Press]
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4. Authorities nab man on U.S. Army’s ’15 Most Wanted’ list
After 37 years on the run, authorities caught up to one of the U.S. Army’s “15 Most Wanted” fugitives, James Robert Jones, 59, on Thursday. Jones had been living in Deerfield Beach, Florida, since at least 2005, under the alias Bruce Walter Keith, but authorities finally discovered his real identity using a facial recognition database. The U.S. Army private was sentenced to 23 years in a maximum-security federal prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1974, but he escaped three years later. “The first words out of his mouth was, ‘I knew this would catch up with me one day,’” Barry Golden of the U.S. Marshals Service said. [NBC 6]
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5. Police rescue 200 people from Thailand human smuggling camp
Authorities rescued about 200 people, including at least 100 children, on Friday from a human smuggling camp in southern Thailand. Believed to be Muslim Uighurs originally from China’s far-western region of Xinjiang, the group is the latest find as Southeast Asian authorities continue to crack down on human trafficking rings. So far, the group is refusing to speak more than a few words or confirm their nationality, because of fears for their safety if returned to China. “They’re under pressure,” police Major General Thatchai Pitaneelaboot said. “They want to go somewhere, but they don’t want to go back to China.” [Reuters]
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6. UNICEF gets clearance from Syria to deliver more aid supplies
Following last month’s call from the U.N. Security Council for more aid access in Syria, the country agreed in talks with UNICEF this week to allow more supplies across frontlines separating President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the rebels. While no specific numbers were released, UNICEF officials said they hope the agreement will include more food and medicine to be delivered to refugee camps and other areas most devastated by the fighting. [Reuters]
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7. FDA recommends HPV tests be used to detect cervical cancer
After years of touting the Pap test as the first line of defense against cervical cancer, an FDA advisory committee recommended this week that an HPV test be used instead. Current guidelines recommend women between the ages of 30 and 65 receive a Pap test every three years; the new recommendation would allow women 25 years and older to receive just the Roche cobas test, which detects the DNA of the human papillomavirus. [CNN]
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8. Quiznos files for bankruptcy, plans to keep operating
Sandwich chain Quiznos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, continuing a two-year long debt and management restructuring initiative. The toasted subs maker says it will continue operations while the deal is reviewed; if approved, the plan would cut the company’s debt by more than $444 million. [The Wall Street Journal]
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9. Sam Adams pulls Boston St. Patrick’s parade sponsorship
Boston Beer Co., maker of Sam Adams beer, said Friday it will not sponsor Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. The event, which draws more than 1 million spectators to South Boston, does not allow gay groups to march, and that decision has led politicians such as Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch to say they will not participate in the parade. Boston Beer Co. says it will still sponsor the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, which takes place on Sunday along with the parade. [The Associated Press]
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10. Colorado’s pot tax may earn taxpayers a refund
Colorado budget advisers discovered this week that the state could owe as much as $100 millionto its taxpayers, depending on how much money Colorado brings in through recreational marijuana taxes. The state is allowed to collect about $70 million, but if it brings in more than that — and it’s currently on track to exceed $100 million — Colorado would have to return the surplus to taxpayers, either through a credit on next year’s tax bill, a reduced sales tax, or a similar measure. [CNNMoney]

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10 things you need to know today: March 13, 2014

Deal. 

Deal. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Week

Obama says Russia will pay for meddling in Crimea, China unveils satellite photos of possible airplane debris, and more

1. Obama vows consequences unless Russia backs down in Ukraine
President Obama expressed support for Ukraine’s new premier on Wednesday and said the U.S. would “apply a cost” to Russia if it doesn’t back out of Crimea. Obama plans a final diplomatic push to get Moscow to loosen its grip on the Ukrainian region before voters there decide Sunday whether to break from Ukraine to join Russia. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart on Friday. [The Washington PostThe Wall Street Journal]
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2. China unveils satellite photos showing possible airplane debris
China posted satellite images on a government website showing what could be debris from theMalaysia Airlines jet that vanished on Saturday with 239 people on board. The plane, which had just left Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, was last tracked not far from the area where the satellite spotted the floating objects, off the southern tip of Vietnam. The images were released Wednesday, but recorded on Sunday. [BBC News]
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3. Jan Brewer announces her retirement
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced Wednesday she would not run for reelection when her term ends this year. Brewer, known for her hardline immigration and abortion policies, would have had to win a court battle to run again. Arizona governors are limited to two terms, and she has served one full term and part of a second. Brewer said it was “time to pass the torch,” but vowed to work hard in her final months. “My pen and veto stamp have plenty of ink,” she said. [The Huffington Post]
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4. Turkish protests spread after teen’s death
Two people were killed as protesters clashed with police in Turkey on Wednesday following the funeral of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan, who died Tuesday from an injury he sustained during last June’s violent demonstrations. He was going to buy bread when he was hit in the head with a tear-gas canister. His death struck a nerve with massive anti-government crowds, who called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a murderer. [Reuters]
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5. Rockets fired from Gaza land in Israel
Gaza militants launched a fresh volley of rockets into southern Israel on Thursday, a day after the most intense barrage fired from the Palestinian territory since 2012. Eight of the 30 rockets fired on Wednesday exploded in developed areas, although no injuries were reported. Israeli military sources vowed a response. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility, saying the rocket barrage was payback for a deadly Tuesday airstrike. [The Associated PressThe Jerusalem Post]
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6. Six killed in Manhattan buildings explosion
A suspected gas explosion destroyed two building in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood on Wednesday, killing at least six people and injuring at least 64 others. Nine occupants of the buildings still remained unaccounted for late Wednesday night. “This is a tragedy of the worse kind because there was no indication in time to save people,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. [ABC News]
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7. Investigation rattles Herbalife’s stock
Herbalife shares plummeted Wednesday after the nutritional supplements marketer announced it was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. Pershing Square hedge fund investor Bill Ackman has been slamming the company’s business plan, and said this week that its marketing is essentially a pyramid scheme. Herbalife refuted the accusation, and said it welcome the FTC inquiry. [USA Today]
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8. Teen who sued her parents moves back home
Rachel Canning, the New Jersey teen who unsuccessfully sued her parents for tuition money, has returned home, her parents’ lawyer said Wednesday. The parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning, cut her off financially just shy of her 18th birthday when she left the house, upset over their rules. The judge denied her request for emergency support, saying the case could “open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an Xbox.” [The Christian Science Monitor]
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9. Alabama’s ban on gay… divorce
A court in Alabama had denied a lesbian couple the right to divorce, because the state doesn’t recognize their legal Iowa marriage. Circuit Judge Karen Hall said in a one-sentence ruling that there was no way to grant Michelle Richmond and Kirsten Allysse Richmond the uncontested divorce they sought “pursuant to the laws of this State,” which doesn’t recognize the validity of same-sex marriage in the first place. [NBC News]
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10. Arthur Chu’s reign ends on Jeopardy!
Controversial Jeopardy! champ Arthur Chu lost on Wednesday night’s show, ending his streak on its 12th day. Chu, whose reign was the game show’s third longest, angered devoted fans with his unorthodox, all-over-the-board strategy of buzzing in quickly and jumping around among categories. Chu won $297,200, and took his loss in stride, posting his voice dubbed into Weird Al Yankovich’s “I Lost on Jeopardy!” [USA Today]

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Putin Escalates: Gets Permission To Move Russian Troops Into Crimea

Main Entry Image

A soldier without identifying insignia mans a machine gun outside the Crimean parliament building shortly after several dozen soldiers took up positions there on March 1, 2014 in Simferopol, Ukraine. | Sean Gallup via Getty Images

The Huffington Post

Russia’s parliament granted President Vladimir Putin permission to use the country’s military in Ukraine and also recommended Saturday that Moscow’s ambassador be recalled from Washington over comments made by President Barack Obama.

The unanimous vote in an emergency session formalized what Ukrainian officials described as an invasion of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. With pro-Russian protests breaking out in other parts of Ukraine, Moscow now could send its military elsewhere in Ukraine.

“I’m submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country,” Putin said before the vote.

Putin’s call came as pro-Russian demonstrations broke out in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, where protesters raised Russian flags and beat up supporters of the new Ukrainian government.

Russia’s move sharply raised the stakes in the conflict following the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president last week by a protest movement aimed at turning Ukraine toward the European Union and away from Russia. Ukraine has accused Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” — a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis, and raised fears that Moscow is moving to intervene on the strategic peninsula where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based.

President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Friday “there will be costs” if Russia intervenes militarily. In Saturday’s parliamentary session in Moscow, one Russian legislator said Obama had crossed a “red line” and the upper house recommended the Russian ambassador in Washington be recalled. It will be up to Putin to decide whether that happens.

In Crimea, the pro-Russian prime minister who took office after gunmen seized the regional Parliament claimed control of the military and police there and asked Putin for help in keeping peace, sharpening the discord between the two neighboring Slavic countries.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said the election of the election of Sergei Aksyonov as prime minister of Crimea was invalid.

It was the latest escalation following the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president last week by a protest movement aimed at turning Ukraine toward the European Union and away from Russia.

Ukraine’s population is divided in loyalties between Russia and Europe, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support. Crimea, a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine, is mainly Russian-speaking.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk opened a Cabinet meeting in the capital, Kiev, by calling on Russia not to provoke discord in Crimea.

“We call on the government and authorities of Russia to recall their forces, and to return them to their stations,” Yatsenyuk was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “Russian partners, stop provoking civil and military resistance in Ukraine.”

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Obama Warns Russia Against Military Action In Ukraine

Barack Obama

CREDIT: AP

Think Progress

President Obama warned on Friday “there will be costs” for Russia taking military action within Ukraine, as reports accumulate alleging that Moscow is doing just that in the Crimea peninsula.

Speaking from the White House Briefing Room, Obama told reporters that while Russia and Ukraine have a deep history, the United States is “now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of the Ukraine.” Unconfirmed reports earlier on Friday said that Russia had flown 2,000 troops into its military facility in Crimea, home of the Russian Black Sea fleet. Unidentified armed gunmen have also taken up locations in Crimea’s airports, parliament, and media outlets.

“Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea,” Obama continued, “but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.” Such a breach would be against Russia’s commitments and international law, Obama said, noting that it would come only days after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“[I]t would invite the condemnation of nations around the world,” Obama warned, “and indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

Obama’s statement is the most direct warning to date to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to allow Ukraine to determine its own fate. Moscow has so far denied any interference within Ukraine’s borders or provocation of the interim government in Kyiv. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday likewise told Secretary of State John Kerry that the large-scale military exercises spontaneously called on Tuesday had nothing to do with the situation across the border.

Since former president Viktor Yanukovch’s ouster last weekend, Crimea has become the new focal point for concern over the crisis escalating. The only autonomous province in Ukraine, the local parliament has called for a referendum for even more autonomy from Kyiv to take place on May 25 — the same day that Ukraine is scheduled to elect its new president. Reports on Thursday night, and confirmed in video on Friday, indicated that armed men were patrolling Crimea’s airports. While the gunmen’s identity has yet to be confirmed, they raised a Russian flag over the airport in the Crimean capital, and reports claim they may be Russian private military contractors.

Obama was a candidate for his first term in office when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 in the name of protecting ethnic Russians in the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abhkahzia. Interim President Turchynov warned that such an instance was now underway in Crimea, which has a population that is nearly 60 percent ethnically Russian, and claimed that Russia was attempting to provoke a response from Ukraine. The Ukrainian army is “not responding” to the provocation, he said in a televised address, but urged Moscow to “pull out” its troops.

“I personally appeal to President Putin to immediately stop military provocation and to withdraw from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea… It’s a naked aggression against Ukraine,” Turchynov said.

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Why can’t you trust Snowden? Let me count (some of) the ways…

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQnXDPMeGCIgTC-A19_krKhyk79_55zoE0sCaHksYV6BPdxUtBh

Edward Snowden’s Russian ID

From the onset, let me say that I know some of our TFC readers are pro Snowden and that’s perfectly fair.   This particular article happened to be “anti Snowden”.  I’ll be sure to balance it out within the week.

SuliaMilt Shook

I just read a comment on a blog post in which a poster claims it was the $250 million investment to Glenn Greenwald’s “news” website start-up that made her think that, perhaps, Snowden was full of crap.

Really? It was that, which is completely unrelated to Snowden? Why?

I would think that what Snowden has done would certify him as full of crap. Think about it…

He lied and took a national security job under false pretenses.

He got NSA employees to give him usernames and passwords under false pretenses.

He stole thousands of documents that he had no right to.

He lied to his bosses to get time off to hightail it to China with the stolen documents.

He lied to us in his introductory video about what his job was and how much he was supposedly “giving up.”

Who knows what he’s doing with the documents he stole, other than giving them to Greenwald and reporters.

He even lied about not taking the documents to Russia. How is he determining what to release unless he’s looking at them?

Seriously. Greenwald’s a money whore; we all knew that. But that has nothing to do with why you can’t trust Snowden.

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WTH is going on? – To some conservatives, Vladimir Putin is ‘the defender of Christian civilization’

Yes, that Putin. No, really.

Daily Kos

Oh look, the radical conservative American quote-unquote-”pastor” who helped form a vicious anti-gay movement in Uganda that led to the killing of publicly outed gay Ugandans is a huge fan of Vladimir Putin.

Last month a federal judge allowed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit to proceed against [Scott Lively] that alleges the pastor persecuted gays in Uganda and committed a potential “crime against humanity” — one that contributed to a bill that would have made homosexuality an act punishable by death. And yet the grey-haired 57-year-old has refused to quiet down.On his blog this month, Lively praised Putin as “the defender of Christian civilization” for signing this summer a ban on information that treats being gay as valid or attractive — and traced the idea to his own tour of Russia in 2006-7. Last week, Lively suggested Russian officials foil gay activists planning to rainbow-bomb the Olympics by flying a rainbow banner over the games so “the global homosexual movement” would be reminded that “the rainbow belongs to God!”

What the hell is going on? Have we abandoned irony forever, now that the staunch conservatives that saw communism as the be-all, end-all threat to humanity have shuffled into embracing the rather unambiguously creepy Russian leader and the nation’s latest restrictions of human rights—nay, even bragging about their connections to Russian politics? Is there anyone who was alive for even the smallest portion of the Cold War that thought Red Dawnconservatism would move into being pro-Russian-government?

Nope, apparently the hatred of gay Americans is greater than all those old fears of the creeping communist menace. John McCain and other old-schoolers keep trying to get them worked up about Russian plots and dangers and diplomatic machinations, but the social conservatives are too worked up about the Gays and the Muslims and the Obamas to even remember what they were supposed to be worked up about in the before-times. The enemy of my enemy isawesome.

Vladimir Putin, the “defender of Christian civilization.” There’s really no way of making fun of these people anymore, they do it to themselves before you ever get the chance.

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Filed under Religious Right, Vladimir Putin

Friday Blog Roundup – 9-20-2013

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Filed under Blog Roundup