July 21, 2014
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President Obama on Monday said international investigators must be granted "immediate and full access" to the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed, and he questioned why the pro-Russian separatists controlling the area are reportedly removing key evidence.

"All of which begs the question: What exactly are they trying to hide?" he said.

Rebels over the weekend reportedly seized at gunpoint the bodies of some 200 crash victims and loaded them on to train cars. The separatists also recovered the plane's black boxes, though they promised to turn them over to investigators.

Speaking from the White House, Obama also called on Russia to prod the rebels into working with the international community, saying Moscow and President Vladimir Putin in particular had a "direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate." Then pivoting to the broader conflict in eastern Ukraine, Obama warned Russia that it would face more consequences should it continue to aid the rebels with training and equipment. However, he declined to say what those consequences could be, saying only that "costs will increase." Jon Terbush

3:05 a.m. ET
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On Thursday night, the House voted down an energy and water spending bill, 305-112, after Republicans held a private meeting to air grievances about an amendment approved Wednesday night to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors. That amendment passed, with 43 Republicans voting 180 Democrats, but only six Democrats voted to support the overall bill on Thursday. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) blamed Democrats for thwarting the annual spending bill, telling reporters the minority party was "looking to sabotage the appropriations process."

Democrats noted that Republicans had also added objectionable amendments to the bill, including ones on Iran's nuclear program, LGBT students, and blocking the Obama administration from punishing North Carolina for its anti-transgender bathroom bill. The embarrassing failure of the energy bill points to conflicting goals of Ryan's speakership: returning to the normal order of passing individual spending bills, and allowing House members to propose amendments on the House floor.

Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) said he would continue offering his LGBT anti-discrimination measure, which evidently has majority support in the House. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) warned that the failure to pass the energy appropriation bill points toward another standoff on spending, or even a government shutdown, in the fall. "It's a terrible way to govern," he told The New York Times. Peter Weber

2:31 a.m. ET

"Hillary Clinton's email scandal is the story that just won't die," Seth Meyers said on Thursday's Late Night —or to use the preferred cable news analogy, Wednesday's State Department inspector general's report is just the latest "drip, drip, drip" in the ongoing investigation. "You know, if you're wondering why so many Democrats are attracted to Bernie Sanders, this is kind of why," Meyers said. "Bernie doesn't have any drip-drip-drips — which for a 74-year-old man, is pretty remarkable."

Clinton never sought permission to use a private email server, the report said, and failed to turn over all department-related emails before she left office — a process that would have involved printing out and filing each email, Meyers noted. "Ugh, the only way this scandal could be more boring is if Wolf Blitzer talked about it. Here, I'll prove it." But he dug up some interesting tidbits from the IG report, like that Clinton's emails were going to the spam folders of State Department employees. Will this change anything? "For Hillary supporters, yesterday's report probably won't seem too scandalous, whereas it's a bombshell to Hillary detractors" who already see her as untrustworthy, Meyers said. And if you get to the point about U.S. nuclear weapons being run using 1970s-era floppy disks, well, there's a reason for that. You can get up to speed on the Clinton emails below. Peter Weber

2:05 a.m. ET

So, you had to walk five miles to school, uphill, in the snow? That's absolutely nothing compared to the route children living in an isolated mountain village in China have to take.

In the Atuler village in Sichuan province, 15 children between the ages of 6 and 15 have a treacherous 90-minute journey to school that takes them down a 2,600-foot rock face — some areas have unsteady ladders, while in other sections the children have only rocks to grab onto. When photographer Chen Jie of the Beijing News first witnessed this dangerous commute, he was "shocked by the scene I saw in front of me," he told The Guardian. He hopes that the photos he took of the children carrying their backpacks as they make their way down the sheer rock will change this "painful reality."

The village's oral history says its founders selected this mountaintop to avoid war. The community is home to 72 people, and the head of the village, Api Jiti, told the Beijing News "seven or eight" people have died after losing their grip and falling down the mountainside, with even more injured. The children now have to board at school so they don't have to make the trek every day, and they only go home twice a month to visit their families. The community is very poor, The Guardian reports, with villagers living on an estimated $1 a day or less, and there isn't room to build a school. The region's Communist Party spokesman said while they develop a permanent solution to the village's accessibility problem, a steel staircase will be constructed to connect the townspeople to the outside world. Catherine Garcia

1:22 a.m. ET

As a child growing up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2nd Lt. Alix Schoelcher Idrache was fascinated by the U.S. forces he saw conducting humanitarian missions, in awe of their technology, military hardware, and Chinooks. He says he didn't dare dream that one day, he'd be among their ranks.

No greater feeling than that of accomplishment! #DutyHonorCountry (@usarmy photo by: Staff Sgt. Vito T. Bryant)

A photo posted by U.S. Military Academy (@westpoint_usma) on

"People where I'm from don't grow up to be pilots, right?" he told a military reporter. "You don't just say I'm going to be a pilot and make it happen. There's no aviation, there's no helicopters, no flight schools. There's none of that." Idrache, 24, ended up proving himself wrong — on May 21, seven years after immigrating to the United States, he graduated from West Point as the top physics student. In July, he will enter the Army Aviation Center for Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama, going in as the recipient of the Brigadier General Gerald A. Counts Memorial Award for earning the highest rating in physics.

Idrache's joy at being a West Point graduate was immortalized by a photographer at the ceremony, who captured Idrache's tear-stained face right before the graduates threw their caps. His father, Dieujuste, had to drop out of school at 14 to care for his family, and he encouraged his son to use education as a way to improve his life. Idrache was lured to the Maryland Army National Guard "because of a free T-shirt," he said, and thought the closest he would get to West Point was a sticker his sister brought home from a high school presentation. With the support of his platoon leader and unit's office administrator, he applied, and he left the National Guard in 2012 to enter the 214th class of West Point cadets. The administrator, Sgt. 1st Class Christi McKinney, was at his graduation, tears streaming down her face as well, as she became the first person to salute Idrache. Catherine Garcia

12:22 a.m. ET

"Listen up, liberals," Samantha Bee said in short intervention posted Thursday. "Whether you think that Hillary Harpies are corrupt liars who should be burned at the stake, or that Bernie Bros are condescending pricks who should be drowned in a lake, we can all agree on one thing: This primary has ruined the internet." To end the scourge of "liberal-on-liberal violence" before it leads to President Donald Trump, Bee explained, Full Frontal has created a site that liberals can post in the middle of any Bernie-Hillary online grudge match. Check out and see for yourself — how can you be mad when faced with adorable puppies and calming bromides? On the other hand, why do you hate kittens, Full Frontal!?! Peter Weber

May 26, 2016

For the third year in a row on Thursday night, the Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie. This year's precocious co-champions are Jairam Hathaway, the 13-year-old younger brother of 2014 co-champion Sriram Hathaway, and 11-year-old Nihar Janga, the youngest National Spelling Bee winner yet.

The finale was a nail-biter, as far as spelling out loud goes — each finalist misspelled two words, until Jairam spelled "Feldenkrais" correctly and Nihar followed up with "gesellschaft," both of which are apparently real words.

Each spelling champ will get $45,000 in cash and prizes, and each will get a trophy. Peter Weber

May 26, 2016

If you want to be great, you don't need to have integrity, strength, courage, or grace — as long as you've got money, you're good to go.

So says Donald Trump, who dropped this truth bomb during a campaign rally Thursday in Bismarck, North Dakota. "There's one more thing that we must do to make America wealthy again, and you have to be wealthy in order to be great, I'm sorry to say," he said, in a sound bite that's sure to make its way into a Hillary Clinton ad someday soon.

Trump also brought up crime, which he says is going up in major cities across the United States, a development that is "totally unacceptable." He called crime a "stealth tax, it's a stealth tax on the poor," and said it "undermines their schools, slashes the value of their homes, and drives away their jobs." But Trump has a message for "those living in fear. I say: Help is coming, it's coming soon. A Trump administration will return law and order to America." Catherine Garcia

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