Archive for AP

Breaking: Two Fighter Jets Shot Down by Pro-Russian Rebels in Ukraine

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Morning Mika had to pivot to real news for a few minutes this morning, when the AP confirmed reports that two fighter jets were shot down in the Eastern Ukraine Wednesday morning.

If two fighter jets are indeed confirmed to be downed by Ground-to-air missiles, days following the tragic shoot down of Malaysian Air Fight 17 last week and hundreds of civilian deaths, the pressure on Putin mounts immeasurably with this latest violence on the ground.

This is a notable escalation.

From Reuters by way of the UK Globe and Mail, earliest reports on the latest violence were reported at about 7:30 a.m. EST.

Pro-Russian rebels have shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military operations said on Wednesday.

The spokesman said the two were downed near Savur Mogila in eastern Ukraine. No details were known about the pilots.

The move comes less than a week after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which Ukraine and Western nations are blaming on pro-Russian rebels. Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the crash, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.

mr.tweetumsputin
Early reports also say that two crew members were aboard each fighter jet. For more details on the ground game of the past few days, Reuters went on to describe separatist activity and more rebel goals.

Residents said the rebels, who rose up in April demanding independence from Kiev in the mainly Russian-speaking east, had dug trenches in downtown Donetsk outside the main university, where they have been living in student dormitories.

Ukrainian government forces have pushed the armed rebels back to their two main strongholds, in Donetsk and nearby Lugansk, taking back control of villages and suburbs around them.Heavy fighting raged in the Lugansk region for a second day on Wednesday, said officials in Kiev and the rebels.

The discussion turned quickly to the European rift that exists because of their energy-dependency on Russia, Putin's bent on what appears to be more isolationist policy and the need for the West and President Obama to implement sanctions that have result.

Follow updates here at MSNBC throughout the day. They had done some reporting about a center near the Ukraine border getting a notable increase in activity that may prove that Putin continued to fund and support the rebels following the downing of MH17.

Image, The Kyiv Post

Image, The Kyiv Post

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BREAKING: AP Reporting that Malaysian Air 777 Was "Shot Down" over Ukraine

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Picture 27

Reuters had just run this, at around 11:34 a.m. EST, when Tamron Hall broke in on her own expert on MSNBC (video below) to announce that the AP was officially reporting that it was not an unfortunate second Mayalsian Air crash … but that the 777 carrying just under 300 passengers, last mentioned as 'burning on the ground" was shot down by what is being reported as a 'Buk ground-to-air missile' on Reuters breaking crawl.

(Reuters) - A Malaysian passenger airliner with 295 people on board crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, the Interfax news agency cited an aviation industry source as saying.

The Interfax report said the plane came down 50 km (20 miles) short of entering Russian airspace. It "began to drop, afterwards it was found burning on the ground on Ukrainian territory," the unnamed source said.

This story was quickly amended by another breaking banner that the Buk launcher was seen by press members near the Eastern Ukraine town mentioned in the piece earlier today, Shakhtyorsk.

The plane appeared to have come down in a region of military action where Ukrainian government forces are battling pro-Russian separatists.

A separate unnamed source in the Ukrainian security apparatus, quoted by Interfax, said the plane disappeared from radar at a height of 10,000 metres after which it came down near the town of Shakhtyorsk.

Condolences to family and friends of all on board. If indeed this is a political miscalculation, it is one of tragic proportion.

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What A Dishonest Cooch

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no cheating

When you can't win fairly, cheat. At least that's the impression of this breaking story from Virginia.

Here's the headline that was leaked to all the major news organizations: USA TODAY

Documents: Va. gov. candidate misled investigators

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Documents in a federal fraud case allege that Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe lied to a federal official investigating a Rhode Island estate planner now imprisoned for receiving death benefits on annuities secured on terminally ill people without their knowledge.

Now if you're observant, you'll  notice this is sourced, AP.

Well, they seem reputable enough, so I'd say Terry McAuliffe has some 'splainin' to do. And this could shake his campaign and his steady but generally stagnant lead over Virginia Attorney General, Ken 'Kiss My' Cuccinelli. This could be the straw that breaks Terry's back and gives the Governor's mansion over to the anti-sodomy candidate, the Cooch.

But, all is not as it seems. This story, as soon after it was fact-checked was removed by AP.

NOTE: The Associated Press has retracted this earlier story, which USA TODAY ran online.

Now when something gets pulled, there's generally a legal reason. And a story not being factually correct falls into that category. The old slander and libel risks prevail.

I applaud AP for finally performing their due diligence and dropping such false accusations. But what's with USA TODAY?

Even deeper on my mind is where did this story emanate from? Who stands to prosper from such accusations? Who would benefit from all of this? Who released this false accusation?

I'm not going to accuse anyone, but if I could, the name that comes to mind rhymes with Puccinelli.

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VIDEO-- Arianna Huffington: Karl Rove is the "Michael Jordan of politicizing the executive branch"

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irony6

My frustration with the Sunday political talk shows is through the roof. The guests rarely, if ever, include Progressives, and if they do, they are outnumbered by ConservaDems, conservative Republicans, or "moderates," so their voices are minimized, if not ignored completely (scroll).

That said, there are moments of truth and even levity that make their way into what passes for "debate."

Arianna Huffington:

"There's certainly an irony in having Karl, who is the Michael Jordan of politicizing the executive branch. You know let's go back to the firing of nine attorney generals during the Bush years, now being outraged... U.S. Attorneys, sorry..."

Here is some context, via the ABC transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: There's some question about whether Fox News, I think Karl Rove, actually got the subpoena or not. The Justice Department has a record of it being sent. Fox News said...

(CROSSTALK)

ROVE: Well let's be clear though. The -- Paul is referring to 9-13.400. These are the guidelines from the Department of Justice itself. It says, "The Department attorneys should take all reasonable steps to attempt to obtain the information through alternative sources, or means. They must first attempt negotiations with the media, aimed at accommodating the interests of the trial of grand jury with the interests of the media", they made no such attempt. "They must also precede any requests to subpoena the telephone toll records by having negotiations with the affected media", none of which they did.

These are the guidelines with the -- which the attorney general himself is responsible for...

(CROSSTALK)

ROVE: Well, look yes. I -- I do think so. He's got two problems. One problem is, when he signed the Rose affidavit, he did not abide by his own guidelines. Second, the defense they're offering for it, which was offered by Jay Carney that we're, conflating a subpoena with a prosecution means that what they said -- this was, remember of a criminal conspiracy when they sought the subpoena from the third judge they attempted to get it from, and finally got it from, was not where they didn't really intend ever to prosecute him.

So they were lying to the judge. And then the third one is -- the third problem he has is, on the 15th of May, he says before the House of Representatives under oath, in front of the Judiciary Committee, this is something I'd never contemplate. And on the 17th we learned that he did the Rosen -- the -- the Rosen...

PLOUFFE: I don't think he should go over this. I think if anything, he's guilty of over-zealously trying to uphold the law. And I think we all -- I think this is going to be a helpful process, which is how do we balance in -- in 2013, some of these guidelines go back to 1980 before the internet and email. How do we balance the need to protect national security and secrets, and our interests with the public's right to know, and investigative journalism? I do find out curious that the loudest Republican voice is now calling for the attorney general to go.

Were the same ones a year ago saying, we weren't investigating leaks strongly enough. They wanted a special prosecutor, because they said U.S. attorneys would not be tough enough. And so I think their objections lay less in the principle and substance of this, than almost a Pavlovian response. That if they have an opportunity to take political shots at the administration and the president, they'll...

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON: There's certainly an irony in having Karl, who is the Michael Jordan of politicizing the executive branch. You know let's go back to the firing of nine attorney generals during the Bush years, now being outraged... U.S. Attorneys, sorry...

(CROSSTALK)

HUFFINGTON: You know, I agree with you that Holder has to go. But there is a certain irony in the Republican doing...

Here is the entire segment and more:

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"Blame Congress" for IRS procedures. "But don't look to Congress to fix anything. Its members benefit."

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blame stick figures

Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Anger widens as IRS details emerge," May 14

While members of Congress want to know more about the IRS targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) groups, they should look no further than themselves for the blame.

I tried to read the tax code regarding just what a "social welfare" group is, and my head almost exploded. The IRS didn't write these rules, Congress did. If there isn't clarity in the IRS procedures, blame Congress. But don't look to Congress to fix anything. Its members benefit from the spending these tax-exempt organizations do. If anything, this loophole should be closed.

Shirley Conley

Gardena

***

Yes, the IRS and Associated Press scandals smell bad. But I wonder if one reason the members of one political party spend so much time spewing out self-righteous rants about the other party's possible screw-up of the day — rather than working on vital legislation — has something to do with being in perpetual campaign mode brought on by their refusal to compromise on meaningful campaign finance reform.

Jack Cooper

North Hollywood

***

Re "Journalists' records secretly collected," May 14

It would be helpful for the AP if Republicans had not filibustered the proposed reporter shield law in 2008. This legislation would have specifically prohibited the kinds of abuses being visited upon the AP.

When the bill was in the House, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), now in high dudgeon over the matter, was one of only 21 representatives to vote against protecting reporters' sources.

Kevin P. Smith

Newbury Park

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VIDEO: Holder to Issa (who voted against media shield Law): Your conduct "is unacceptable. It is shameful."

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please,just shut up

So many stories to report, so little time. Here's something that's been eating at me for awhile now, and someone whose work I respect and admire feels the same way. Richard (RJ) Eskow:

Apparently it never occurred to Attorney General Eric Holder that the Associated Press might be "too big to fail." If it had,then his Justice Department probably never would have investigated it. [...]

That policy has led to extraordinary prosecutorial passivity in the face of overwhelming evidence. There's certainly no sign that the Justice Department has ever sought the phone records or emails of America's top bankers.

Bam.

Then as I was poking around, I came across this from TPM:

Attorney General Holder at a House Judiciary Committee hearing:

"I am not going to stop talking now... It is inappropriate and too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of Congress. It is unacceptable. It is shameful."

He said that to the very same Darrell Issa who voted against a media shield law only a few years ago. BuzzFeed:

Republicans In Congress Killed A Media Shield Law That Would Have Protected The Associated Press

The defeated bill would have required approval from a federal court before reporters’ phone records were subpoenaed. Darrell Issa, who condemned the AP subpoena Monday voted against it. [...]

Issa didn’t mention that he voted against a measure that would have protected the AP from the DOJ’s subpoena in 2007. Issa was one of 21 House members who opposed the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007, a measure that would have forbidden federal investigators from compelling journalists to give evidence without first obtaining a court order. The bill included a section that specifically forbid subpoenaing journalists’ phone records from “communication service providers” to the same extent that the law protected the journalists themselves.

Timing is everything:

The White House asked Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to reintroduce reporter shield legislation, White House officials told CNN on Wednesday.

Another day, more Republican hypocrisy to share. Hence my earlier post, More candidates for jail in IRS “scandal?” In 2011 GOP Congressmen demanded the IRS audit AARP.

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VIDEO-- Jay Carney: "Imagine the story on Fox" if President Obama checked with A.G. Holder on AP probe

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fox benghazi cartoon

Jay Carney on why President Obama hadn't called Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the AP phone records probe:

"A great deal prevents the president from doing that, it would be wholly inappropriate for the president to involve himself in a criminal investigation, that as Jessica points out, at least as reported involves leaks of information from the administration. I mean, imagine the story on Fox if that were to happen. So, that's why."

Fox has gone after this president so relentlessly, Carney was just stating the truth. It was good to hear a few members of the press laughing in response. Hey, I laugh out loud at ClusterFox all the time.

The Hill:

Carney confirmed that Holder recused himself from the investigation of The Associated Press, but said a call from the White House to anyone at the Justice Department would be inappropriate.

More generally, "a careful balance … must be obtained" between press rights and national security concerns, said Carney, who is a former reporter... Carney also defended Obama's record on the freedom of the press, pointing to press shield legislation he sponsored during his time in the Senate.

Come to think of it, every time I imagine any story on Fox, I find myself reaching for a mug of wine and a few Tums.

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