White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest released this statement Thursday night regarding Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, with a call for a ceasefire between Russia, Ukraine, and pro-Russia separatists, in order for a full investigation of the evidence to be conducted. The statement also clearly puts the responsibility on Russia to take these actions, after having substantially aided the separatists, in contrast to a much clearer trust in the Ukrainian government. --Eric Kleefeld
The United States is shocked by the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and we offer our deep condolences to all those who lost loved ones on board. We continue to seek information to determine whether there were any American citizens on board.
It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible. We urge all concerned – Russia, the pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine – to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure safe and unfettered access to the crash site for international investigators and in order to facilitate the recovery of remains. The role of international organizations – such as the United Nations and the OSCE in Ukraine – may be particularly relevant for this effort, and we will be in touch with affected nations and our partners in these organizations in the coming hours and days to determine the best path forward. In the meantime, it is vital that no evidence be tampered with in any way and that all potential evidence and remains at the crash site are undisturbed. The United States remains prepared to contribute immediate assistance to any international investigation, including through resources provided by the NTSB and the FBI.
While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fueled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training. This incident only highlights the urgency with which we continue to urge Russia to immediately take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and to support a sustainable cease-fire and path toward peace that the Ukrainian government has consistently put forward. [The White House]
Following the revelation that 27-year-old Josh Duggar, one of the stars of TLC's reality series 19 Kids and Counting, had admitted to sexually molesting multiple girls when he was a teenager, TLC has reportedly pulled reruns of the show — which aired its season 10 finale this week — from its schedule.
"Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret," Josh Duggar said in a statement. "I hurt others, including my family and close friends." Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, Josh's parents, issued a similar statement, saying their son's actions caused them "to seek God like never before."
The ultimate fate of 19 Kids and Counting is still up in the air, as the network has not yet stated whether it will continue with future seasons. Since the news broke, 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee (R) has defended Duggar, who also resigned from his political post at the Family Research Council, an influential conservative group. Meghan DeMaria
Disney's latest blockbuster, Tomorrowland, invites viewers to enter a futuristic world of robots, jetpacks, and flying trains.
It's a glimpse of a hyper-technological future many would love to visit — including none other than Walt Disney, who channeled his own vision of the future into theme parks like Tomorrowland (a section of The Magic Kingdom) and EPCOT (a theme park in its own right). In a featurette, the creative team behind Tomorrowland shows off original clips of Walt Disney, describing ideas that eventually inspired the new film:
"Many of the things that seem impossible now will become realities tomorrow," says Disney. "A beautiful tomorrow just a dream away. That says we're going places. There's progress ahead."
The Eiffel Tower was closed to the public on Friday during a protest against petty crime at the landmark. Normally, the tower is open 365 days a year.
Workers from the company that manages the Eiffel Tower said the site has recently seen an increased number of pickpockets. The protest comes a day after Paris authorities said that Paris crimes against tourists are down because of increased surveillance, The Associated Press reports.
According to Paris authorities, pickpocketing was down 23 percent in January through April 2015 from the same period last year. But staff members who work at the Eiffel Tower believe too many tourists are being robbed at the site. BBC News reports that workers claim pickpocketing "gangs" have threatened to assault them, and the workers are asking for a permanent police presence at the site. Meghan DeMaria
A new Gallup poll released today finds that for the first time, equal numbers of Americans self-identify as socially conservative and socially liberal, with 31 percent placing themselves in each category. On economics, however, conservatives still lead by a 20-point margin:
In a report released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) admits that the mass surveillance capabilities authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act have not helped solve any big terrorism cases. "The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in response to Section 215 orders," said DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.
The report also reveals that the FBI expanded the scope of surveillance it deemed acceptable under Section 215, investigating "groups comprised of unknown members and [obtaining] information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with any FBI investigation."
This news comes as the Senate considers whether to renew, modify, or nix Section 215, which along with a few other provisions of the Patriot Act is set to expire on June 1. Bonnie Kristian
Early Friday afternoon, the U.S. Department of State released 296 of the emails Hillary Clinton sent and received from a private account during her time as secretary of state.
The emails, which are available on the State Department's Freedom of Information Act website, include information on Clinton's response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead. Some of the emails Clinton received on the private server contained information on Benghazi that is now-classified.
Clinton has come under criticism recently for her use of a private email server to conduct government-related business, though the State Department so far has attempted to keep skepticism at bay.
"The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks," the State Department tweeted shortly after releasing the batch of correspondence. Meghan DeMaria
Most prominent Republicans are wisely keeping mum about the controversy surrounding Josh Duggar, the conservative reality television star who on Thursday acknowledged reports that he had confessed to sexually molesting five underage girls when he himself was a teenager. But not presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee, who has come out with a forceful statement expressing his support for Duggar, saying, "No purpose whatsoever is served by those who are now trying to discredit Josh or his family by sensationalizing the story."
While Duggar is best known to the public as one of the stars of TLC's reality show 19 Kids and Counting (a reference to Duggar's very large Evangelical family), he is deeply embroiled in conservative politics. Once the scandal broke, Duggar stepped down from his post as the head of the political arm of the Family Research Council, the influential conservative group that has long campaigned against abortion and gay marriage. Ryu Spaeth