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  • EU Leader Fears Ukraine Crisis Is Approaching The 'Point Of No Return'
    (Politics - August 30 2014 - 1:16 PM:)
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    Jose Manuel Barroso

    European Union Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso gave a grim assessment of the situation in Ukraine on Saturday after talks in Belgium with Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko.

    "We are in a very serious, I would say, dramatic situation... where we can reach the point of no return," Barroso said, according to Agence France-Presse

    Barroso described the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine as a "new transgression" and predicted further escalation could lead to a tipping point.

    "If the escalation of the conflict continues, this point can come," said Barroso.

    Despite his warnings, Barroso said he still believed it is not too late for a political solution for the crisis. His remarks came ahead of meetings scheduled for Saturday where EU leaders are expected to launch a new round of sanctions against Russia. 

    Fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists has raged for months. Last week, NATO said Russian troops and heavy military equipment crossed Ukraine's border and joined the fighting late this month.

    Russia has denied its troops are officially participating in the conflict. Kremlin Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded to satellite images released by NATO that were described as showing Russian forces in Ukraine by claiming, the accusation was "pretty similar" to past instances where he said NATO used "images from computer games" to falsely claim troops were in the country. 

    Poroshenko also said he hoped there could be a political solution after meeting with EU officials about the crisis. However, he also gave an even more dire warning than Barroso.

    "Today we are talking about the fate of Ukraine, tomorrow it could be for all Europe," Poroshenko said. 

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  • This WikiLeaks-Inspired Group Exposes The Extravagant Excess Of Swazi Royals
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 10:20 PM:)
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    SwaziLeaks

    In the small southern African nation of Swaziland, a group of activists inspired by WikiLeaks is exposing the excesses of Swaziland's opulent royal family, AFP reports

    Many members of the royal family are active on Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks — and they're not shy about flaunting their wealth. 

    While 60% of the country lives on less than $1 a day, the royal family enjoys frequent extravagant holidays, underwater birthday parties in Dubai, opulent renovations, and gold-leaf everything. 

    Members of SwaziLeaks told AFP they were driven by the desire for accountability and to shatter the respect that many have for their royals.

    Taking inspiration from the WikiLeaks cable leak — which exposed a quarter million U.S. diplomatic cables — SwaziLeaks said "[the cables] showed some of the alliances the ruling elite had with Gaddafi and other dictators, which allowed some Swazis to see inside the ivory tower that is the monarchy."

    SwaziLeaks said, "Royalty and their friends live off us, the people, like parasites will spread and be supported by evidence and not rumor. In this we hope that people will start demanding what is due to them."

    The group, which started their Twitter account in 2013, is followed by many Swazi journalists, politicians, and even some royals.

    The SwaziLeaks team says they have contacts with members of staff in the Royal household, and it also appears they closely monitor the family on social media. 

    Scroll down to check out some SwaziLeaks' work: 


    #MswatiIII
     spends millions on handcrafted #Italian interiors for his palaces instead building hospitals #Swaziland pic.twitter.com/5MHe37c4Sn

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) April 20, 2014

    His majesty, wives, children, & enormous entourage are in #Italy on holiday. They are spending our money #Swaziland pic.twitter.com/4WzrzaMejQ

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) April 7, 2014

    In 3 weeks a "princess" spent over E20,000 on these 3 items. The average Swazi's income for 2yrs 10months #Swaziland pic.twitter.com/9laoUg76AB

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) January 28, 2014

    The king's servants are exclusively teenage boys (innocent & less likely to kill him) Some even carry guns #Swaziland pic.twitter.com/6sk9hI0z87

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) July 30, 2014

    Our taxes pay for the king's children to party in Los Angeles in the USA, will we struggle to eat here in #Swaziland. pic.twitter.com/dPxKiZUuRP

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) June 5, 2014

    Royals at the Windsor suite in Heathrow airport #UK. It costs E32,000 every time you wait for your flight #Swaziland. pic.twitter.com/uYH5ZHLMW0

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) May 15, 2014

    #Mswati's kids were in #LA @UniStudios, 3rd holiday in 6 months. This is how they spend 1bn Rand per yr #Swaziland pic.twitter.com/dYvN7ko0wW

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) December 9, 2013

    King #Mswati III has over 20 children. Do they all get birthday parties in #Dubai? #Swaziland notice diver top right pic.twitter.com/F3rRg8xWSq

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) October 3, 2013 

    The children of #Swaziland's leaders mock the poor in our country while enjoying democracy in #SouthAfrica. pic.twitter.com/1qZ2oR4op9

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) June 18, 2014

    #Swaziland Swazis don't have enough to eat but our monarchy are comfortable in @British_Airways 1st class pic.twitter.com/KKaWMBNWgT

    — Swazi Leaks (@SwaziLeaks) November 20, 2013

    SEE ALSO: This Footage Of A Gunman's Mall Siege In Australia Shows Cops' Amazing Restraint

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  • Hillary Clinton Had A Surprise Interview With Big Republican Cisco CEO John Chambers (CSCO)
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 9:55 PM:)
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    AP343741620705

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed up as a surprise guest at Cisco's huge internal sales conference that took place this week.

    She was interviewed on stage by CEO John Chambers.

    That's a politically interesting combination. Chambers is a Republican who endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign. But that same year, he also said he was a fan of Hillary's hubby, Bill. He told Arik Hesseldahl at AllThingsD that year:

    "I’m a strong Republican, but I think President Clinton got it right with business and knocked the ball out of the park."

    Clinton's speech and interview was not taped, a source close to the company told us. So we can't listen on the conversation now that it's over. Cisco would not even officially confirm her visit.

    But it was all over Twitter.

    #GSX #Cisco Closing Session with @HillaryClinton - #BeBold pic.twitter.com/NkklN2l4TB

    — Chase Dalton (@ugachase) August 28, 2014

    John interviewing Hillary at GSX @GoAllInCSA #GSX pic.twitter.com/IpffkYmCDR

    — Tim Carter (@tcarter12) August 28, 2014

    .@HillaryClinton and @Cisco CEO John Chambers. Thank you for a great talk. #CiscoGSX #GoCisco ! pic.twitter.com/r2v5vGEA6s

    — Cisco Jobs (@ciscojobs) August 29, 2014

    That same day, Clinton also gave an official, public appearance in the Valley. She spoke at the OpenSDx Summit sponsored by startup Nexenta Systems. At that appearance she was asked about one of Chambers' favorite political subjects: bringing corporate offshore money back to the U.S. (known as repatriation).

    At that conference she was asked about a plan floated by Chambers and others to create an infrastructure bank where companies can invest offshore cash, reports The Wall Street Journal's Rachael King.

    Clinton said she hasn't looked into that idea but noted, “It doesn’t do our economy any good to have this money parked somewhere else in the world.”

    She's been lately talking to a lot of tech companies. In July she visited Google, Facebook, and Twitter, she tweeted.

    Still, if she runs for president and gets John Chambers' endorsement, that would be something of a coup.

    SEE ALSO: Term of the day: "Google Dorking"

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  • WHITE HOUSE TO PUTIN: Don't 'Even Think About Messing Around' With The Baltics
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 9:41 PM:)
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    .S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012

    President Barack Obama's message to Russian President Vladimir Putin when traveling to Europe next week is to not "even think about messing around" with the Baltic states, the White House said Friday.

    Obama is traveling to Europe next week for a meeting in Wales with other NATO leaders. He'll also make a stop in Estonia, where he will meet with the leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in an attempt to reassure allies amid burgeoning Russian aggression in Ukraine.

    "The two stops are essentially part of the same effort to send a message to the Russians that their behavior is unacceptable," Charles Kupchan, the White House's senior director for European affairs, said in a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon.

    "You have in Estonia a large Russian population, and therefore part of the message that the President will be sending is, we stand with you. Article 5 constitutes an ironclad guarantee of your security. Russia, don’t even think about messing around in Estonia or in any of the Baltic areas in the same way that you have been messing around in Ukraine."

    NATO's Article 5 requires that all members of the alliance come to the defense of any member that is attacked or targeted.

    Ukraine is not a member of NATO, and it has been one of Russia's goals to keep Ukraine from entering into both NATO and the European Union and thus forge closer ties with the West. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Friday the country would begin the process of seeking NATO membership.

    When asked about Ukraine's possible future membership, Kupchan said it was not under discussion by NATO at this time but added that the "door is open" to any country that is "willing to contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic space."

    nato ukraine

    Russia's neighbors like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — which all have substantial Russian-speaking populations — have grown concerned in the face of increasing Russian intervention in Ukraine, which amplified this week.

    Pro-Russian separatist rebels have opened a new front in the cities of Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo, creating a fear is that Russia is attempting to create a land link between Russia and the strategic peninsula of Crimea. Russia annexed the peninsula special forces troops in March.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Russian troops are leading a separatist counteroffensive in the east, bringing in tanks and firing artillery from inside Ukrainian territory. NATO subsequently backed up his claims, saying more than 1,000 Russian troops had crossed the border and were fighting in Ukraine.

    "I think what you’ll see is progress on the defense spending side, progress particularly on increasing the readiness times of NATO forces," Kupchan said.

    "Because I think one of the things that we’ve learned from the situation in Ukraine is that oftentimes in this new world that we live in, NATO or individual countries may be facing not armored columns coming across their border, which you can usually see in advance, but guys coming across in masks, you don’t know who they are — what we could call hybrid warfare, or asymmetric warfare. And that requires a very different kind of military response than NATO has traditionally been focused on."

    SEE ALSO: Putin Directly Addressed Rebels In Ukraine For The First Time, And He Used A Frightening Word To Describe Them

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  • Here's What Radical Islam Looks Like In The UK
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 9:09 PM:)
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    Islam UK London

    The United Kingdom raised its terror threat level to "severe" on Friday in response to the rise militant Islamists in Iraq and Syria, some of whom came from Britain.

    Around 500 British Muslims are estimated to have joined groups like ISIS, along with more than a thousand volunteers from other Western countries. Notably, the murderer of American James Foley in video released by ISIS appeared to have a British accent.

    ISIS London

    In a statement delivered from Downing Street in London Friday afternoon, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was facing a "greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before."

    He said confronting ISIS was part of a generational struggle that he thought could last decades. 

    "Poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism is the root cause of the terror threat," Cameron said. "We will always act with urgency when needed."

    History Of Terror

    Radical Islamist leaders used to preach openly in the U.K, Innes Bowen, a BBC journalist and author of “Inside British Islam,” tells Business Insider.

    In 2004 Bowen attended a gathering held by notorious radical preacher Omar Bakri Muhammad, who later left Britain and was charged with terrorism-related offenses in several countries. She was struck by the pro-al Qaeda message that she heard in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and "almost as striking was how ‘normal' the atmosphere was."

    Charles Prince Camilla Mosque Islam Royal

    "I was in the women's gallery where everyone was very friendly towards me even though they knew I was a BBC journalist. Small children played while the husband of one of the women praised al Qaeda from the pulpit downstairs — but that was before the London bombings," she said.

    Bowen tells us this radical assembly was far from being a typical Muslim crowd.

    "They were all supporters of this extreme group — now banned — called al Muhajiroun,” she said. 

    One member of the group told her, "We consider 9/11 as a self sacrifice operation whereby 19 Mujahideen, fighters of Islam, broke the nose of America."

    But the era of open radicalism ended on July 7, 2005, when three British Islamists detonated suicide bombs on the London Underground, and a fourth blew himself up on a double-decker bus.

    The blasts killed 52 and injured up to 700.

    Aged 18, 19, 22, and 30, three of the bombers were British-born Pakistanis, and another had immigrated from Jamaica.

    London bombings

    After 2005, many radicals were either imprisoned or went abroad. 

    Burning underground

    Government responses to the 2005 attacks appear to have pushed the current wave of Islamism underground, leading Islamist leaders to become more cautious. 

    The New York Times reports that a small minority of radical imams preach Islamic supremacy, taking aim at non-Muslims and gays and citing fundamentalist interpretations of the Quran to justify violent responses.

    However, as the Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura writes in The Times, "They are careful not to suggest taking up arms, but will talk about the situation in Syria, Iraq or Gaza, and then talk about a Muslim’s duties. Their views are extreme, but rarely illegal."

    Fox

    One of the most prominent preachers is Anjem Choudary, whose followers were recently caught handing out pro-ISIS leaflets.  

    Choudary generates headlines with his colorful damnations of Western governments, and his twitter feed boasting of appearances on NBC and Fox as well as European networks.

    His proclamations mix concerns over torture, drone-warfare, and Muslim persecution with conservative Islamism and rhetoric of an epic clash of civilizations. 

    But with no mosque that will have him, Choudary holds lectures and town hall meetings, posting recordings on YouTube.

    Recruits for Syria and Iraq

    As a result of the conflict involving ISIS, the radical message has gone public again.

    ISIS

    "This time it is being spread by fighters abroad via social media rather than by preachers based in the U.K.," Bowen said.

    ISIS has been targeting Western recruits with social-media campaigns, slickly produced videos, and English-language publications.

    Bowen said some radicals may well versed in religious ideology and have a misplaced sense of duty, while others are motivated by a sense of adventure and could be "surprisingly ignorant."

    The New Republic recently reported that two young men who joined the conflict from the U.K. this May purchased "Islam for Dummies" and "The Koran for Dummies" before leaving.

    It’s difficult to identify who is at risk at radicalization, though.

    isis militant flag

    "If we look at the backgrounds of the British Muslims who have been involved in violent extremism, what's striking is the variety: graduates as well as the poorly educated; women as well as men; the privileged as well as the marginalized; converts as well as born Muslims; British born as well as immigrants," Bowen said.

    "The only thing that those so far convicted of terrorist offenses in the U.K. have in common is a shared ideology and a willingness to act on it."

     

    SEE ALSO: Hundreds Of Westerners Have Joined ISIS — Here's Where They Came From

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  • The White House Just Took A Shot At Bill Kristol's Strategy Of Bombing ISIS
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 5:54 PM:)
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    Josh Earnest

    The White House isn't taking Weekly Standard founder and conservative pundit Bill Kristol's advice when it comes to battling the Islamic State forces in the Middle East.

    Kristol argued in a radio interview on Monday that President Barack Obama should consider "bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens," according to audio posted by Mediaite

    During a Friday afternoon media briefing, however, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest mocked the proposal. After one reporter grilled Earnest over why Obama lacks a concrete strategy for combating the jihadist group in Syria, Earnest, unprompted, pointed to Kristol's remarks as an example of what's "not ... a smart approach" towards the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. 

    "The Pentagon is still developing military options for the president, for the commander-in-chief, to use against ISIL in Syria. There are some who probably would make the case that it's okay to not have a formulated, comprehensive strategy. But, just as one pundit I know recently suggested, that we can just go drop some bombs and see what happens. That is not what the president believes is a smart approach," Earnest said.

    Kristol did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. But in an editorial set to be published in the Sept. 8 edition of the Weekly Standard, Kristol sharply criticized Obama's foreign policy vision in the region.

    "[A]n American president who was serious about marshaling and mobilizing the elements of national power behind a strategy for victory could, we suspect, defeat the Islamic State more quickly and more easily than President Obama thinks. But President Obama doesn’t have such a war strategy because he still doesn’t want to accept that we’re at war," Kristol wrote.

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  • The UK Has A Plan To Cut Off Russian Businesses From The Rest Of The World
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 5:32 PM:)
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    putin

    The United Kingdom will push the European Union this weekend to consider the most punitive sanctions yet against Russia for its involvement in escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

    According to Bloomberg, the U.K. plans to propose blocking Russia from the SWIFT banking transaction system, a move analysts say would effectively cut off Russian businesses from the rest of the world's financial system. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will put forward the proposal during a meeting with E.U. leaders in Brussels on Saturday.

    "This would be a major escalation of the sanctions. Most international payments flow through SWIFT. Banning Russian banks and companies from SWIFT would effectively cut off Russian businesses from the rest of world," said Bruce Johnston, a London-based analyst at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. 

    "It would also have a major impact on European businesses who need to paid by Russians, and want to consume Russian energy."

    The move would have a significant effect on Russia's banking sector, as many financial institutions across the world use the system. According to SWIFT's website, it transmitted more than 21 million financial messages per day in July. It helped process payments among more than 10,500 financial institutions and corporations across 215 different countries.

    Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, compared the potential move to one leveled on Iranian institutions in 2012.

    "SWIFT is the electronic bloodstream of the global financial system," he told Business Insider in an email. "Cancelling Putin's credit card could have far reaching consequences for the Russian economy as Iran discovered when scores of its financial institutions were expelled from SWIFT in 2012."

    David cameronThe U.S. and E.U. have imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. Most recently last month, they leveled targeted sanctions on Russia's energy, arms, and finance sectors. But so far, the sanctions have not changed the calculus of Russia or President Vladimir Putin.

    This week, the conflict has sharply escalated, as Ukraine, NATO, and the West said Russia sent troops across the border to fight with pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern regions of the country. 

    This week, the rebels have opened a new front in the cities of Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo. One fear is that Russia is attempting to create a land link between Russia and the strategic peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed with special forces troops in March. Poroshenko said Russian troops are leading a separatist counteroffensive in the east, bringing in tanks and firing artillery from inside Ukrainian territory.

    President Barack Obama and European leaders have agreed on the need for new "costs" in the wake of the latest escalation, but officials in both areas are questioning the legitimacy of the strategy. In the U.S., multiple Republican lawmakers have called on Obama to provide military assistance to Ukraine, saying a political resolution to the conflict is not possible if Russia continues to pursue its goals through military means.

    In Europe, geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group told Business Insider he expected there to be high-profile breaks among leaders on the sanctions strategy.

    "It's hard to see the west holding off for much longer in not calling Russian forces an invasion. That leads to more 'level 3' (sector wide) sanctions on Russia, yes, but we'll now see a real fragmentation of European leaders publicly calling the policy a failure and looking to break from further coordination," Bremmer said.

    "After all, many Europeans have been deeply skeptical of Russian sanctions from the beginning, and to the extent that the purpose of sanctions was to prevent an invasion. That's clearly failed."

    Senior Obama administration officials declined to comment about possible new sanctions on Russia during a conference call with reporters Friday about new sanctions leveled on individuals and businesses in relation to Iran's nuclear program. An administration official did not immediately respond to a subsequent request for comment.

    Ukraine map

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  • PUTIN: Don't Mess With Us
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 4:30 PM:)
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    Vladimir PutinRussian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia's armed forces, backed by its nuclear arsenal, were ready to meet any aggression, declaring at a pro-Kremlin youth camp that foreign states should understand: "It's best not to mess with us."

    Putin told the assembly, on the banks of a lake near Moscow, the Russian takeover of Crimea in March was essential to save a largely Russian-speaking population from Ukrainian government violence. He said continued fighting in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists launched an uprising in April, was the result of a refusal by Kiev to negotiate.

    Ukraine, and Western governments, accuse Russia of sending troops and armor to back the separatists in a conflict that has already killed over 2,000 people. Russia denies the charge.

    "Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts," he said at the camp on the banks of Lake Seliger. "We don't want that and don't plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.

    "Russia's partners... should understand it's best not to mess with us," said Putin, dressed casually in a grey sweater and light blue jeans.

    "Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers."

    Vladimir Putin

    Putin's comments at the youth forum continued an escalation in rhetoric amid charges from Ukraine, NATO, and the West that Russian troops were sent across the Ukrainian border to fight alongside pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern regions of the country.

    In a early-morning statement released by the Kremlin on Friday, Putin publicly addressed the rebels of what he called "Novorossyia," or "New Russia," for the first time. The term describes the area north of the Black Sea that was conquered by Russia in the late 18th century through peace treaties with the Cossack Hetmanate and the Ottoman Empire. In 1922, the area became part of the Soviet Union. The term is mostly used now by Russian nationalists who wish for Russia to reconquer the area.

    This week, the rebels have opened a new front in the cities of Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo. One fear is that Russia is attempting to create a land link between Russia and the strategic peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed with special forces troops in March. Poroshenko said Russian troops are leading a separatist counteroffensive in the east, bringing in tanks and firing artillery from inside Ukrainian territory.

    In his statement, Putin hailed the militia's "major success" on the battlefield.

    "It is clear the militia has achieved a major success in intercepting Kiev’s military operation, which represents a grave danger to the population of Donbass and which has already led to the loss of many lives among peaceful residents," Putin said in his statement to the militia.

    Ukraine map

    Putin spoke easily with the students, many of whom looked to be asking scripted questions about demography and history. Other times he accepted gifts or, smilingly, played down their praise.

    When a student said that she had not heard a single negative comment about Putin's presidency from camp speakers, he responded with a grin that "objectivity" was important.

    His tone darkened when speaking on Ukraine, blaming the United States and the European Union for the "unconstitutional" removal of Kiev's former Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich and replacement with a pro-European government.

    He said eastern Ukraine did not agree with Yanukovich's removal and was now subjected to "crude military force" from government planes, tanks and artillery.

    "If those are contemporary European values, then I'm simply disappointed in the highest degree," he said, comparing Ukraine's military operations in the east of the country with the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War Two.

    "Small villages and large cities surrounded by the Ukrainian army which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure... It sadly reminds me of the events of the Second World War, when German fascist... occupiers surrounded our cities."

    (Reuters reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, Writing by Thomas Grove; editing by Ralph Boulton)

    SEE ALSO: Putin Directly Addressed Rebels In Ukraine For The First Time, And He Used A Frightening Word To Describe Them

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  • White House: We're Not At 'War' With ISIS
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 2:33 PM:)
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    josh earnest msnbcThe White House is insisting the U.S. is not at war with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, despite an aggressive air campaign and previously labeling the jihadist group an "imminent threat to every interest we have." 

    "Before getting into the strategy, though, there seems [to be] a fundamental, existential question: Is the United States presently at war with ISIS — yes or no?" MSNBC host Chris Hayes asked President Barack Obama's top spokesman, White House press secretary Josh Earnest, on Thursday.

    Earnest went with "no."

    "No, Chris. What we are doing is we are working very aggressively with international partners, with Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, to take the steps necessary to mitigate the threat that's posed by ISIL," he responded.

    The interview was part of a series of television appearances for Earnest on Thursday and Friday after Obama stumbled and said "we don't have a strategy yet" for dealing with the Islamic State in Syria. Earnest insisted Obama actually has a "comprehensive strategy" even as critics slam the administration for not articulating a more forceful foreign-policy vision for the region.

    On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Friday, Earnest was again pressed with the "war" question.

    "Does the president agree with [columnist] Eugene Robinson that we are, in fact, at war with ISIS even though it's not a declared war?" host Joe Scarborough inquired.

    Earnest again maintained the U.S. was simply trying to "mitigate the threat." 

    "I think what the president would say is it's very important that we take the necessary steps to mitigate the threat that ISIL poses to the United States of America," he said.

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  • Georgia Governor Assumes Hispanic Student Isn't A US Citizen
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 1:46 PM:)
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    nathan deal getty

    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is being strongly criticized after he told a Hispanic student that he "presumed" she was an undocumented immigrant who came into the U.S. as a child.

    Addressing the topic of immigration at a University of Georgia forum Tuesday night, Deal reportedly looked at Lizbeth Miranda when he made his remarks.

    "There's a fundamental problem that can only be resolved at the Congressional level and that is to deal with the issue of children, and I presume you probably fit the category, children who were brought here," Deal said, according to CBS 46.

    Miranda then informed Deal she was not, in fact, undocumented.

    "I'm not an illegal immigrant. I'm not," she said. "I don't know why you would have thought that I was undocumented. Was it because I look Hispanic?"

    Deal quickly backtracked.

    "I apologize if I insulted you. I did not intend to," he said.

    A Deal spokesman subsequently insisted the governor was actually talking to a white male standing next to Miranda, not her. Both students are reportedly members of a group called Undocumented Students Alliance.

    "The governor was trying to have a civil conversation with a group determined to have a confrontation," the spokesman said. "He was courteous and civil. The entire thing was misrepresented. They were trying to ambush him."

    View CBS 46 report on the incident below. (h/t Political Wire)

     

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  • UK Raises Terror Threat Level To 'Severe' — US Has No Plans To Do The Same
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 1:13 PM:)
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    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron Home Secretary Theresa May

    Britain's government has raised the country's terror threat level to "severe," Home Secretary Theresa May said on Friday. 

    It's the second highest of five potential threat levels. According to the U.K. government, it means an attack is "highly likely." But there is no intelligence to suggest an attack is imminent.

    May said the threat level was raised because of the risk from the deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria, where extremist militants from the group calling itself the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL). May said, however, that there was no specific threat to Britain that caused the raise in the terror level. This is the first time Britain's terror threat level has been at "severe" since 2011.

    "The increase in the threat level is related to developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West. Some of these plots are likely to involve foreign fighters who have traveled there from the UK and Europe to take part in those conflicts," May said in a statement.

    "The first and most important duty of government is the protection of the British people," May said. "We have already taken steps to amend our powers and increase our capabilities for dealing with the developing terrorist threats we face. That process will continue and the British public should be in no doubt that we will take the strongest possible action to protect our national security."

    In a statement delivered from Downing Street in London Friday afternoon, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was facing a "greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before." He said confronting ISIS was part of a generational struggle that he thought could last "decades."

    "Poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism is the root cause of the terror threat," Cameron said. "We will always act with urgency when needed."

    In the U.S., the Obama administration said it had no plans to follow Britain's lead and increase its threat level. 

    In a statement, Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said the department had in recent weeks taken a "number" of steps to increase security at airports with direct threats to the U.S. The department has also boosted its tracking of foreign fighters throughout the region.

    "At present, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland from ISIL," Johnson said. "Plainly, however, violent extremists who support ISIL have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas, and ISIL constitutes an active and serious threat within the region."

    Iraq ISIS violenceThe West — particularly the U.S. and U.K. — have increased their warnings about ISIS in the wake of the group's brutal murder of American journalist James Foley last week. A 23-year-old former British rapper is considered a prime suspect in Foley's beheading. Cameron said Friday that it "increasingly seems to be a British terrorist recorded on that video" of Foley's murder.

    At least 500 people from Britain have traveled to Middle Eastern regions to join ISIS, Cameron said. Western officials have warned about the possibility of ISIS fighters holding Western countries' passports traveling back to those countries to plan and possibly launch attacks.

    Cameron said there was "no doubt" in his mind that ISIS is "targeting all of us in Western Europe." He did not commit to joining the U.S. and possibly other allies in taking military action against the group, saying it was just "one element of what we can do."

    "We must use aid, diplomacy, and our military," he said.

    SEE ALSO: Obama: 'We Don't Have A Strategy Yet' For Dealing With ISIS

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  • NATO TO RUSSIA: Cease Your 'Illegal Military Actions' In Ukraine Immediately
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 12:22 PM:)
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    Vladimir Putin

    NATO on Friday accused Russia of a "blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty" and urged it to immediately cease its "illegal military actions" in eastern regions of the country.

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said despite "hollow denials" by Russia, it was clear it was involved in "direct military operations" in Ukraine.

    "We condemn in the strongest terms Russia’s continued disregard of its international obligations. We urge Russia to cease its illegal military actions, stop its support to armed separatists, and take immediate and verifiable steps towards de-escalation of this grave crisis," Rasmussen said in a statement.

    Rasmussen's statement came after NATO convened an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels, Belgium, over the crisis at the request of Ukrainian authorities.

    This week, the rebels have opened a new front in the cities of Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo. One fear is that Russia is attempting to create a land link between Russia and the strategic peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed with special forces troops in March. Poroshenko said Russian troops are leading a separatist counteroffensive in the east, bringing in tanks and firing artillery from inside Ukrainian territory.

    On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Russian troops had crossed the border and were fighting on the side of the pro-Russian separatists. NATO subsequently backed up his allegations, releasing satellite photos it said showed Russian forces and artillery inside Ukraine. NATO said more than 1,000 Russian troops were fighting in Ukraine.

    "Despite Moscow’s hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and south-eastern Ukraine. This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation," Rasmussen said Friday.

    "Russian forces are engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine. Russia continues to supply the separatists with tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and rocket launchers. Russia has fired on Ukraine from both Russian territory and within Ukraine itself. Moreover, Russia continues to maintain thousands of combat-ready troops close to Ukraine’s borders. This is a blatant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution."

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Friday that Ukraine would attempt to become a member of NATO, something that could further increase tensions with Russia, which wants to maintain influence over its neighbor. Yatsenyuk said Ukraine's priority remains membership in the European Union.

    Ukraine map

    SEE ALSO: Putin Directly Addressed Rebels In Ukraine For The First Time, And He Used A Frightening Word To Describe Them

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  • Putin Directly Addressed Rebels In Ukraine For The First Time, And He Used A Frightening Word To Describe Them
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 11:54 AM:)
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    putin

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday publicly addressed pro-Russian rebels fighting in southeastern Ukraine for the first time, praising their "major success" inside Ukraine.

    The Kremlin released a late-night statement from Putin on its website in which he appealed to the militia of "Novorossyia," or "New Russia."

    It's a term he has used before to describe the regions in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged for months — a term that describes the area north of the Black Sea that was conquered by Russia in the late 18th century through peace treaties with the Cossack Hetmanate and the Ottoman Empire. In 1922, the area became part of the Soviet Union. The term is mostly used now by Russian nationalists who wish for Russia to reconquer the area.

    "It is clear the militia has achieved a major success in intercepting Kiev’s military operation, which represents a grave danger to the population of Donbass and which has already led to the loss of many lives among peaceful residents," Putin said in his statement to the militia.

    Novorussia mapPutin's statement is notable because he has at multiple points in the months-long crisis denied any influence over the rebels. His words fueled Ukraine's charges that the pro-Russian separatists are essentially puppets whose strings are pulled by the Kremlin.

    Ukraine and the West have charged Russia with arming, equipping, and training the pro-Russian rebels. And on Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Russian troops had come across the border to join the rebels in fighting.

    Putin and Russia have denied any control over the rebels, declining repeated calls from Western leaders to intervene with the rebels at points to defuse the ongoing crisis. But Ukraine's military said Putin's statement made clear that the separatists have been "led and controlled directly from the Kremlin," according to The Washington Post.

    This week, the rebels have opened a new front in the cities of Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo. One fear is that Russia is attempting to create a land link between Russia and the strategic peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed with special forces troops in March. Poroshenko said Russian troops are leading a separatist counteroffensive in the east, bringing in tanks and firing artillery from inside Ukrainian territory.

    In his statement, Putin went on to urge the militia of "New Russia" to allow for a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian troops who have been surrounded to retreat. 

    "I call on the militia groups to open a humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian service members who have been surrounded, so as to avoid any needless loss of life, giving them the opportunity to leave the combat area unimpeded and reunite with their families, to return them to their mothers, wives and children, and to quickly provide medical assistance to those who were injured in the course of the military operation," Putin said.

    Meanwhile, the West hinted Thursday at stronger, more punishing sanctions. President Barack Obama said he had spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday and the two agreed that Russia was "responsible" for the escalating violence in eastern Ukraine.

    "Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine," Obama said in a statement from the White House. "This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia."

    Here's the situation in eastern Ukraine on Friday, according to Ukraine's military:

    Ukraine map

    SEE ALSO: BREMMER: Putin Has Now Cornered Ukraine And Its President

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  • Scottish People Are Selling Their Independence Votes On eBay (EBAY)
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 10:15 AM:)
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    scotland

    Police in Scotland are investigating the sale of votes for the country's Sept. 18 independence referendum on eBay after multiple votes were listed online in recent weeks, STV reports.

    One seller from Glasgow sold his vote for £1.04 and promised to vote however the winning bidder wished.

    An eBay seller from the Scottish borders listed their vote on eBay with a starting bid of £10.00. The seller claimed that the sale price of the vote would be donated to charity. It was removed from the site after STV contacted the police and the Electoral Commission.

    eBay listing showing vote for Scottish independence referendum

    One eBay seller explained why they were selling their vote online, including in the eBay listing, "This is my very own unique piece of British History! It is my personal YES or NO vote for the upcoming Scottish Referendum in September. I for one, do not give a flying monkeys about any of this. This could be the deciding vote. Who knows? I am a hard working Scottish citizen with a house, a gorgeous wife and two beautiful kids who are my world. "This vote will not change anything in our lives so I have decided not to vote my opinion but instead..... ONE OF YOURS! Happy Bidding"

    In a statement to STV, Police Scotland confirmed that they are investigating the sale of referendum votes on eBay, "Our policing arrangements for the referendum are well in hand and will be appropriate and proportionate. Police Scotland’s priority is to ensure public safety and security. We will respond appropriately to any issues which arise. We are investigating these incidents and therefore cannot comment on the outcome of these incidents until all inquires are concluded. Where other incidents are reported they will be investigated and appropriate action taken."

    On Sept. 18 Scotland will vote on whether to remain part of the United Kingdom. A recent poll showed growing support for Scottish independence, with 47% of survey respondents indicating that they would vote "Yes" to independence.

    SEE ALSO: Why Independence Could Put Scotland In Danger Of Russian Invasion

    SEE ALSO: Everything You Need To Know About The Scotland's Independence Referendum

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  • The 10 Most Important Things In The World Right Now
    (Politics - August 29 2014 - 8:40 AM:)
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    Dutch Brigadier-General Nico Tak, head of NATO's crisis

    It's Friday! Here's what people will be talking about. 

    1. NATO is holding an emergency meeting on Friday over the crisis in eastern Ukraine, estimating that more 1,000 Russian soldiers have invaded the region. 

    2. Russian president Vladamir Putin praised the success of pro-Russian separatists fighting in Ukraine, while asking for the release of trapped Ukrainian forces

    3. The White House is taking heat after President Barack Obama said in a press briefing that the administration does not have a strategy yet for dealing with ISIS. 

    4. The World Health Organization said the Ebola virus could infect more than 20,000 people before the outbreak is controlled. 

    5. Three million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes in what the UN says has "become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era."

    6. Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano began erupting early Friday, though the small fissure appears to have died down.

    7. A major landslide in China's mountainous southwestern region on Friday killed at least 14 people.

    8. Malaysia airlines said its slashing 30% of its workforce, or 6,000 jobs, in a drastic cost-cutting measure. 

     9. Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, cut its profit outlook to £2.4 billion from £2.8 billion, sending its share price tumbling by more than 8% on the news. 

    10. For the second time this week, a plane was diverted due to an argument over reclining seats between two passengers

    And finally...

    California surfers are rushing to take advantage of humongous waves generated by a hurricane in the Pacific. 

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  • White House Rushes To Clarify After Obama Said 'We Don't Have A Strategy Yet' For ISIS
    (Politics - August 28 2014 - 10:04 PM:)
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    Obama in a tan suit

    The White House is pushing back after President Barack Obama's stated his administration currently doesn't have "a strategy" for dealing with the jihadist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and drew headlines across the country.

    "I don't want to put the cart before the horse," Obama said at a press briefing late Thursday afternoon. "We don't have a strategy yet."

    White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest subsequently insisted that Obama specifically articulated a "comprehensive strategy" for dealing with the Islamic State during the briefing.  

    "In his remarks today, POTUS was explicit — as he has been in the past — about the comprehensive strategy we'll use to confront ISIL threat," Earnest wrote on Twitter.

    Earnest quickly scheduled an appearance on CNN during which he argued Obama was simply referencing the U.S. options against the Islamic State in Syria  not in Iraq.

    isis militant flag

    "The president asked a specific question about what approach he was going to pursue when it came to possible military action in Syria against ISIL. That was the specific question he was asked and the president was explicit that he is still waiting for plans that are being developed by the Pentagon for military options he has for going into Syria," Earnest said.

    Overall, Earnest said the word "strategy" at least 24 times during his CNN interview.

    "I just want to be clear about what our strategy is. The president's clear in that this strategy is one that's not going to solve this problem overnight. But he's also clear about the fact that our strategy can't only be the American military," he continued. "We have a comprehensive strategy for dealing with ISIL. One component of our broader strategy is the use of military force."

    Updated (6:39 p.m.): With Earnest's remarks on CNN.

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  • Fox News Host Bill O'Reilly Calls White Privilege 'A Big Lie'
    (Politics - August 28 2014 - 9:47 PM:)
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    Bill O'Reilly white privilege

    Bill O'Reilly argued on his Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" that white privilege is just an excuse for black people in America to shirk personal responsibility for their struggles.

    As evidence of his theory, O'Reilly cited the relative success of Asian people in America and sarcastically asked whether we have "Asian privilege" in America.

    The reason Asians earn more than whites and blacks and have a lower unemployment rate, according to O'Reilly, is that they have "stable homes" and emphasize education in their families.

    Here are the statistics O'Reilly uses to support his argument:

    Bill O'Reilly white privilege

    Bill O'Reilly white privilege

    Bill O'Reilly white privilege

    Bill O'Reilly white privilege

    O'Reilly does throw in the small caveat of slavery, which he says is unique to the "African-American experience," but says that every American must overcome obstacles.

    Tina Ngyugen criticized this line of thought in Mediaite, calling it far too simplistic and saying it ignores some of the complexities of Asian-American demographics and statistics.

    But O'Reilly also went beyond the idea of "Asian privilege" to insist that black people use white privilege as an "excuse" to avoid personal responsibility and "blame someone else" for their problems.

    O'Reilly also lamented the rise of "gangsta rap" and Beyonce, which he says have replaced more "uplifting" black idols of the past.

    "The federal government cannot fix this problem," O'Reilly said. "Only a message of personal responsibility can turn things around."

    Watch the full video below:

    Watch the latest video at &amp;lt;a href="http://video.foxnews.com"&amp;gt;video.foxnews.com&amp;lt;/a&amp;gt;

    (h/t The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed)

    SEE ALSO: 'LET MEN BE MEN': Watch Fox News Hosts Defend Catcalling Women

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  • The 10 Most Important Tweets About Obama's Tan Suit
    (Politics - August 28 2014 - 9:11 PM:)
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    Obama Press Briefing

    President Barack Obama addressed the military conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. However, for much of the political press corps, Obama's unusual khaki suit was the main conversation.

    During the briefing, Twitter erupted with discussion of Obama's fashion choice. Multiple parody accounts based on the suit were created. 

    Some people had trouble paying attention to the more serious elements of the president's remarks because of his eye-popping garb. 

    OK now that the suit is off the screen can someone tell us what Obama said

    — HuffPost Media (@HuffPostMedia) August 28, 2014


    Josh Barro of the New York Times blog The Upshot (and formerly of Business Insider) suggested the president would have to take swift and decisive fashion action. 

    Obama vows to defeat whoever made him wear this suit. pic.twitter.com/zoqj7OVFRe

    — Josh Barro (@jbarro) August 28, 2014


    Politico congressional reporter Burgess Everett said he was actually asked about the suit in a radio interview just as the briefing was ending. 

    Just got asked about Obama's suit in a radio interview

    — Burgess Everett (@burgessev) August 28, 2014


    Buzzfeed's deputy editor in chief Shani Hilton said Obama's attire got a big reaction in her newsroom. 

    the entire newsroom is abuzz over obama's suit…ah there we are, August

    — shani (@shani_o) August 28, 2014


    Blogger Michelle Malkin offered a conservative perspective. 

    I don’t care that Obama’s suit is tan. The problem with the suit is that it’s EMPTY.

    — Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) August 28, 2014


    While ABC News' senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny shared some historical insight on the suit.

    It's been a long time since we've seen President Obama in a khaki suit. I recall it during his Senate days, but is this a WH debut?

    — Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) August 28, 2014


    NBC News staffer Lou Dubois tried in vain to return to the topic at hand.

    Obama is talking about ISIS, Ukraine, immigration and more here. You know, "news." Yet people are talking about a tan suit...

    — Lou (@dubois) August 28, 2014


    The prolific and pseudonymous Twitter photoshopper @darth was reminded of a suit worn by Vox executive editor Matt Yglesias.

    “yes this is @mattyglesias suit please no more suit questions" pic.twitter.com/SMSA6f3QFN

    — darth™ (@darth) August 28, 2014


    However, Yglesias did not seem impressed. 

    Interesting suit choice from Obama.

    — Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) August 28, 2014


    For our part, Business Insider sought an expert perspective from "Project Runway's" Tim Gunn. 

    Hey @TimGunn, do you think Obama made it work?

    — Hunter Walker (@hunterw) August 28, 2014


    Gunn has not responded to our request.

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  • Putin Escalated To Save His Aggressive Ukraine Policy From Collapsing — But His Strategy Hasn't Changed
    (Politics - August 28 2014 - 8:58 PM:)
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    Vladimir Putin

    In an analyst's note on August 28, Morgan Stanley published its takeaways from the recent meeting in Minsk between Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. "If negotiations make progress on the terms of a ceasefire and a political settlement for Donbas," the note beings, referring to Ukraine's restive eastern region, "we think there is a good chance of de-escalation, leading to a gradual dismantling of broad sanctions."

    The note balances that assertion by negotiations might not resolve the crisis, leading to deeper, additional sanctions against Russia. But the fact that observers believed in a viable peace process on the same day that over 1,000 Russian troops entered Ukraine — an action that Lithuania, a NATO member state and Russian neighbor called an "invasion" — reveals a disconnect between Russian actions and outside perceptions that Putin has successfully exploited over the past six months of crisis in Ukraine.

    In late May, Russia sent in a trusted and disciplined Chechen proxy militia to organize the rebellion in Donetsk. In mid-July, militants were firing rockets into Ukraine from Russian territory just days before Russian-allied separatists shot down a Malaysia Airlines plane. Armored Russian columns were spotted entering Ukraine on August 21st. Weeks earlier, a Russian soldier's Instagram photo revealed that Moscow's forces were operating across the border. Igor Strelkov, the head of the self-proclaimed Donestk People's Republic, is an agent of Moscow's General Intelligence Directorate.

    In reality, the invasion of Ukraine — not counting Crimea, which Russia annexed in March — began months ago. Putin has been adept at sewing uncertainty, taking actions that suggested both escalation and peaceful resolution. He's repeatedly accumulated Russian troops on the Ukrainian border only to withdraw them, a belligerent head-fake often paired with more conciliatory measures, like allowing Ukraine's May 2014 presidential election to proceed peacefully and recognizing its results.

    All the while, Putin has been backing the separatists and sending troops, armor, and materiel into Ukraine. This week, though, the situation required a more overt response from Moscow and escalated to the point where Russia's actions became harder for the rest of the world to rationalize or deny.

    "The previous 'incursions' had largely been into rebel-controlled areas," Hannah Thoburn, a Eurasia analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative, told Business Insider.  "This is the opening of a new front in a very strategic area."

    Russian forces are moving into the coastal area around Mariupul and into towns around the besieged rebel stronghold of Donetsk, in an attempt to reverse Ukrainian government gains in recent weeks. This past week's actions are Putin's attempt at staving off defeat, while possibly establishing a corridor between mainland Russia and Russian-occupied Crimea.

    Ukraine Map GIF (1)Putin's earlier policies were based on the rebels establishing a permanent foothold in Ukraine's east, so that Moscow could maintain pressure on the new, potentially more pro-European government in Kiev without having to go to the trouble and expense of a conventional invasion and occupation. Moscow's policy in Ukraine collapses if those pockets of resistance were ever threatened, as they has been over recent weeks of Ukrainian army advances around the former separatist strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk.

    Moscow is trying to salvage its policy in Ukraine, but its strategy hasn't fundamentally changed in recent days. And if the past months are a guide to what's to come, Putin will likely de-escalate once his tactical advantage is re-established — only to inflame the crisis further when the opportunity or the necessity arises.

    SEE ALSO: Russia is following a playbook in Ukraine that it's used in conflicts since the 1990s

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  • OBAMA: 'WE DON'T HAVE A STRATEGY YET' ON ISIS
    (Politics - August 28 2014 - 8:07 PM:)
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    Barack Obama

    U.S. President Barack Obama addressed a pair of worsening world crises Thursday afternoon, blaming Russia for escalating violence in eastern regions of Ukraine and admitting he doesn't yet have a strategy to confront the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (also ISIS or ISIL).

    His statement from the White House came amid a day of significant escalation in the crisis in Ukraine, as Ukraine's president accused Russia of sending troops across the border to fight with pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's southeastern regions. Obama said it was clear the ongoing violence had been "encouraged" by Russia, who he said trained and armed separatists in the violence-stricken regions.

    "Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine," Obama said. "This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs and consequences for Russia."

    Obama is scheduled to meet Thursday evening with members of his National Security Council, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, on a strategy to further confront the extremist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria. A White House official said no new decisions are expected on how to proceed Thursday.

    "I don't want to put the cart before the horse," Obama said, when asked about the next steps in confronting the group.

    "We don't have a strategy yet," he said.

    Iraq ISIS violenceThe U.S. conducted five additional airstrikes against the group in Iraq on Thursday, according to U.S. Central Command. The airstrikes destroyed a Humvee, a tank, four armed vehicles, and a construction vehicle, as well as severely damaging an ISIS checkpoint. Over the past three weeks, the U.S. has conducted 106 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.

    Obama is weighing a broader offensive against the extremist group after it brutally murdered American journalist James Foley. Obama's secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, and his top military brass have suggested ISIS needs to be confronted in Syria as part of any plan to contain the group.

    Obama said the strategy would need to involve military, political, and diplomatic aspects. He said it would take political reform in Iraq and support from a broad variety of allies in the region to confront ISIS. Obama said he is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to the region to secure allies in the fight, and he has asked Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to prepare military options to confront the group.

    But he said the problem cannot simply be solve through military efforts alone.

    "Our military is the best in the world. We can rout ISIS on the ground and keep a lid on things temporarily, but then as soon as we leave the same problems come back," Obama said.

    ukraineThe escalation in Ukraine has sparked international outrage after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of sending troops across the Ukrainian border to fight with pro-Russian separatist rebels. Obama said he had spoken with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, and he promised additional "costs" on Russia while hinting at the possibility of ramped-up sanctions. But there was one option he ruled out.

    "We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem," Obama said.

    Earlier on Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, lashed out at Russia in an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. She accused Russia of "outright lies" and a campaign of manipulation. 

    The emergency meeting of the security council was called after President Poroshenko said Russian troops were fighting on the side of separatists in Ukraine and were advancing in the southeast region of the country. NATO subsequently echoed his allegations

    Ukraine's defense council said Russian troops are leading a separatist counteroffensive in the east, bringing in tanks and firing artillery from inside Ukrainian territory.

    A Russian-backed rebel leader said that at least 3,000 to 4,000 Russian troops were fighting inside Ukraine.

    This post has been updated with Obama's comments.

    SEE ALSO: Russia Unleashes Huge Counter-Troll In Response To Canada's 'Map Of Russia'

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