On Sunday, Ukraine's military entered the center of Luhansk, one of two rebel-held cities in Eastern Ukraine. Rebels reportedly still control parts of Luhansk, but Ukrainian forces posted photos of the Ukrainian flag flying at a city police station.
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) August 16, 2014
This is the latest setback for the pro-Russia separatists who declared autonomous "people's republics" in Luhansk and Donetsk, 90 miles away, in April but have been steadily losing ground over the past month. In besieged Donetsk, separatist fighters are reportedly starting to dress in civilian clothes and carousing drunkenly around at night; three senior leaders of the separatist enclaves, all Russian nationals, have resigned or left the country over the past week.
Western officials and analysts are nervous about Russia's response to the separatists' dwindling fortunes. If Russian President Vladimir Putin believes "the rebels are about to get routed, we do have a problem," Eurasia Group analyst Cliff Kupchan tells The New York Times. Moscow's purportedly humanitarian convoy of 280 trucks is still on the Russia side of the border, and Russia maintains that it is not arming the rebels.
The new separatist prime minister of Donetsk, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, said in a statement that Russia was sending him reinforcements, including 150 armored vehicles and 1,200 troops who'd spent the summer training in Russia, however. "They are joining at the most crucial moment," he added. And last Thursday night, reporters for Britain's The Telegraph said they witnessed "a column of armored vehicles and military trucks" crossing from Russian into a remote area near Donetsk; they call this "the first confirmed sighting of such an incident by Western journalists."
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers met Sunday in Berlin with their French and German counterparts for talks on ending the fighting and paving the way for the Russian aid to make its way into Ukraine. "It was a difficult discussion but I believe and I hope that we made progress on some points," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Forget those alarm clocks that you can plug your iPhone into — isn't your smartphone an alarm clock by itself? — because waking up to your favorite song or podcast or ringtone is nothing compared with waking up to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Meet the Barisieur, created by designer Joshua Renouf:
— Daily Dot Technology (@DotTech) March 30, 2015
The stylish alarm clock not only heats up water, siphons it over your favorite ground beans, and filters it into a cup, but the Barisieur also has a special refrigerated vial to hold your milk and a drawer for your sugar, if you're into anything other than black coffee. And it plays the radio, too. There are two downsides: The Barisieur isn't available for purchase yet, and when it does go on sale, hopefully sometime in 2015, it will cost about $300-375. That's still cheaper than hiring a live-in barista. For more photos, visit the JR Industrial Design site.
Van Halen, with David Lee Roth back as frontman, is releasing a new album, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, on Tuesday. On Monday, they shut down part of Hollywood Blvd. to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live. If you're wondering why Roth's nose is bandaged, he smacked it with a microphone in their first take of "Panama." He makes a joke about it halfway through the version below, but his bloodied nose doesn't stop the 60-year-old rocker from kicking and singing his way through the song. And Eddie Van Halen's guitar work is pretty close to the same as it was when Roth left the band in 1985. Watch below. —Peter Weber
On Sunday, police found the body of Spence Jackson, the media director for Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, about a month after Schweich apparently killed himself hours before a planned news conference to accuse the head of the Missouri Republican Party of waging an anti-Semitic smear campaign against him. Jackson, 44, was discovered inside his locked apartment in Jefferson City, shot dead in an apparent suicide, according to Jefferson City Police Capt. Doug Shoemaker.
Police are treating Jackson's death as a suicide, though they aren't ruling out other causes of death, and they aren't releasing the contents of a note found near Jackson's body. Schweich, a Republican, was running for governor, and after his death, Jackson called on Missouri GOP Chairman John Hancock to resign. Shoemaker has more information about the case in the news conference below. —Peter Weber
If you're looking for a brief recap of why people are getting worked up over Indiana's new "Religious Freedom Restoration" law, preferably with some jokes thrown in, Seth Meyers has you covered. On Monday night's Late Night, Meyers explained the controversial law, why people think it will lead to anti-gay discrimination, how it differs from similar federal and state laws, and why Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is an ineffective spokesman for the bill he signed last week. Or, you could just watch for the jokes. —Peter Weber
Justin Bieber threw some pretty good barbs of his own at his Comedy Central roast, which aired Monday night, but after sitting through an hour of mercilessness mockery, Bieber took the stage and apologized for being a jackass. "Let's get serious for a moment," he said, noting that nothing prepared him for being a teen mega-star. "There's been moments I'm really proud of and a lot of moments I look back and I’m pretty disappointed with myself for, but the things I've done don't really define who I am." Bieber sort of undercuts his perceived sincerity by licking his lips repeatedly, but his apology earns him a hearty round of applause — which he follows up with a Selena Gomez joke. You can watch some of the night's jokes at Comedy Central, and Bieber's coming-of-age speech below. —Peter Weber
"I bet you're wondering why I'm here tonight," Martha Stewart said in the middle of her bit during Comedy Central's roast of Justin Bieber. But by that point, nobody was wondering. Stewart had everyone in the audience — as well as roastmaster Kevin Hart and the other objects of her barbs on stage — gasping with laughter and shock. Her best joke — no, not the one about making pot brownies with Snoop Dogg — involves both Hart and Bieber, and you can watch it below. Warning, Stewart gets a little salty at times, so probably NSFW. —Peter Weber
"I haven't done this since I was about 11," Helen Mirren tells Jimmy Fallon when he offers her a helium balloon to inhale from on Monday night's Tonight Show. "Welcome to The Tonight Show," Fallon responds. And so it begins, your chance to hear a proper British accent — not The Queen proper, but proper enough — say "spotted dick," among other delightful things, on television. —Peter Weber