On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office announced that Poroshenko and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, had spoken by phone, and "the result of the conversation was agreement on a permanent cease-fire in the Donbass," the term used for Ukraine's eastern regions. "An agreement was reached about mutual vision of steps that will promote peace." Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that in the conversation, Poroshenko and Putin had discovered that their views on how to stop the bloodshed in the region "coincide to a considerable degree."
Poroshenko's office didn't disclose any details of the peace plan, or explain how Putin could agree to end a battle he insists he isn't fighting. There was also no immediate reaction from the pro-Russia separatists fighting Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine. The separatists didn't abide by Poroshenko's last cease-fire.
The agreement was announced as President Obama landed in Estonia to demonstrate NATO's commitment to keep Moscow from attacking member states near Russia (Ukraine isn't a member of NATO), and a day before NATO meets to discuss how to handle Russia's aggression. Timothy Ash, an analysts at Standard Bank in London, is skeptical about the timing:
I guess for the Ukrainian military this gives them a chance to regroup after recent military setbacks, and bide time to see what NATO and the EU delivers over the next few days in terms of deterrents to Russia for further intervention. In the past we have seen Moscow looking to talk/sending peace signals just before important EU/G7/NATO meetings, and presumably to weaken momentum toward sanctions/countermeasures. Subsequently we then saw further intervention and escalation. [Ash, via the Kyiv Post]
Obama and other NATO nation leaders meet Thursday and Friday in Wales.
UPDATE: Poroshenko's office has retracted the statement about a "permanent cease-fire," saying the original language oversold the agreement between Putin and Poroshenko. Poroshenko's spokesman promised a revised statement later Wednesday. The updated stance from Kiev jibes better with Russia's version, delivered via RIA Novosti by Putin spokesman Peskov. "Putin and Poroshenko did indeed discuss steps which could facilitate a cease-fire between the militias and the Ukrainian military," he said. "Russia cannot physically agree on a cease-fire, as it is not a side in the conflict." Peter Weber
The first day of the Democratic National Convention on Monday had its ups and downs, Stephen Colbert said in his live post-convention Late Show monologue. "Bernie Sanders heartily endorsed Hillary Clinton," he said. "It was an impassioned speech, but disappointed some of his supporters. I have not seen that many crying women since Bernie opened for the Beatles." But Day 1 of the Democratic convention was "also known as Hillary Clinton and the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day," Colbert said, mostly due to Friday's leak of 19,000 hacked Democratic National Committee emails, showing the DNC favoring Clinton over Sanders.
"In an unprecedented show of bias, the Democrats threw their weight behind the registered Democrat," Colbert said. "That's not farr. That's like Sam's Club refusing to take your Blockbuster card." But if the day started out rocky on Monday, "by early evening, things had calmed down," he said. "But then Bernie supporter Sarah Silverman and Hillary supporter Al Franken took the stage, and Sarah got a little tired of the crowd," telling the "Bernie or Bust" crowd they are being "ridiculous." "Wow, it is rare when the comedian heckles the audience," Colbert said.
"There were a lot of great speeches tonight, but leave it to Michelle Obama to truly unify the Democrats," Colbert said. "With tonight's moving speech, she convinced everyone in that arena that it was finally time to elect as president of the United States former first lady Michelle Obama. She crushed it." Colbert ended with a joke so obvious he would be negligent in not making it: "Anyway, Michelle's speech was so good, I want to hear it again. When is Melania doing it?" Watch below. Peter Weber
As the Democrats kicked off their own chaotic national convention on Monday, Samantha Bee took a last, profanity-tinged look at last week's Republican National Convention. The theme of the GOP convention was that the world is scary and Hillary Clinton's Democrats are trying to divide the nation, a leitmotif Bee found both puzzling and ironic. "It takes a lot of balls to call your opponents divisive when your party is tearing itself in half because you nominated a sociopathic 70-year-old toddler," she said on Monday's Full Frontal.
If you watched last week's Republican convention, you might remember that Donald Trump was merely the last person on stage to portray a dark, broken, dystopian America — but it sounds much scarier when Rudy Giuliani, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, and other speakers are talking terror over the dramatic strains of "Dies Irae" from Mozart's Requiem. Forget "Morning in America," Bee said. "It's the middle of the night in America and someone's kicking in your door — oh, and also, Hillary took your guns away."
After playing some of Trump's speech, Bee said, "Oh, my god, is Donald Trump running for Batman?" But then she reconsidered, arguing that he's re-running Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign. "Now I'm pissed that people are picking on Melania — at least she plagiarized someone good," Bee said. "Like Trump, Nixon courted old, white middle Americans made anxious by civil unrest," a group Nixon called the "silent majority." But Trump won't be just like Nixon, she added. "Nixon got 15 percent of the black vote." There is some mildly NSFW language, but if that doesn't bother you, watch the rest of Bee's Trump-Nixon comparison below. Peter Weber
At the beginning of Monday's post-Democratic convention Late Show, Stephen Colbert took a bite of a Philly cheesecake he pretended to have found on the street of Philadelphia, and then things got strange. Colbert, dressed in hippy-faux tribal-rainbow pants attire, popped up behind what appeared to be the cast of a Hair revival to sing a raga-trance song called "Death, Taxes, and Hillary." A sample: "It's a cheesesteak jamboree, where your mind can be set free / And this power girl will change the world, if her donors all agree." The costumes mix late '60s and early 1970s counterculture and disco, the music is highly reminiscent of the Beatles' Maharishi period, and the animation is Yellow Submarine mixed with your most psychedelic screen saver. Watch below, and even if you're completely sober, you might feel a bit trippy by the end. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert made his way onto the Republican National Convention stage last week, dressed in his Hunger Games-inspired Julius Flickerman attire and carrying his stuffed weasel, Caligula. On Monday's Late Show, he tried the same stunt in Philadelphia with the Democrats. "It might have been my fault" that the Democrats didn't fix their divisions over leaked hacked Democratic National Committee emails before the Democratic National Convention started, he said at his desk in his live post-convention special. "Truth be told, yesterday I went down to Philly to bask in the coming Democratic conflict. You know, I see it as something of a blood sport."
After walking around and making fun of various aspects of the Democratic convention arena — and Chuck Todd's goatee, with CNN's Jake Tapper — Colbert said "the one thing left to do was the one thing Democrats really didn't want me to do: Mount the podium where Hillary will be crowned." Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats would not let him on the stage, even when he enlisted the help of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Maybe they watch Colbert's Late Show.) But Colbert/Flickerman is nothing if not determined, and also just the slightest bit crafty. Watch his mighty, inexplicable struggle to get on stage below. Peter Weber
Almost a year ago, Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel sat down with a real relationship therapist to work out their fictional feud, in which Damon is always invited on Jimmy Kimmel Live and never actually brought on stage, leading a lonely existence in Kimmel's smallest green room. On Monday's show, Kimmel said that, with Damon's new Jason Bourne movie coming out on Friday, he and Damon gave couples therapy another go. "Apparently you have to go to therapy more than once for it to work," he deadpanned. The late-night host and Hollywood star's session with psychotherapist Paul Kundinger did not start out well. "There's a lot of anger coming across," Kundinger finally said, suggesting art therapy. Kimmel and Damon agreed, and surprisingly, the exercise did end the feud for at least a few seconds as Damon and Kimmel broke character — and made ABC's censors get creative. Watch below. Peter Weber
The Solar Impulse 2 plane made history on Tuesday when it landed in Abu Dhabi, the first flight to make it around the world without using any fuel.
The plane first took off from Abu Dhabi in March 2015, and over the past 16 months traveled 25,000 miles, stopping 16 times. The plane is covered with 17,248 solar cells that transfer energy to four electrical motors that power the propellers, and it runs on four lithium polymer batteries at night. "The future is clean," one of the pilots, Bertrand Piccard, said after landing. "The future is you. The future is now. Let's take it further."
The plane completed more than 500 flight hours, but was delayed a few times, including in Cairo when Piccard became sick and after some batteries were damaged on the journey from Japan to Hawaii. Read more about how the pilots were able to handle the cockpit's cramped conditions and temperature shifts at The Associated Press. Catherine Garcia
During Democratic convention, people kept searching for info on Bernie Sanders' age, Citizens United
As people watched the Democratic National Convention on Monday night, they were furiously Googling everything from "Bernie Sanders" to "Did slaves build the White House?'
Google released data on the top trends at the end of Night 1, and Sanders was far and away the most searched of the speakers and performers — Michelle Obama came in second, Elizabeth Warren third, Cory Booker fourth, and Paul Simon fifth. Throughout the day, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was trending, but after Sanders gave the night's closing speech, there was a 650 percent increase in searches for "Citizens United." The other trending questions had to do with Michelle Obama's speech ("Did slaves build the White House?" and "Who built the White House?") and Sanders' age ("How old is Bernie Sanders?"). Catherine Garcia