July 17, 2014
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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]

late night
2:37 p.m. ET

Comedian Jimmy Fallon is well-loved for a few reasons: his utter inability to keep a straight face, his epic lip sync battles, and his knack for churning out viral videos. But grilling politicians is decidedly not among his strengths, something made abundantly clear when he lobbed softball questions at Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on The Tonight Show in September.

In an interview with Sirius XM's Bill Carter, Fallon challenged the notion that he should be hard on his guests:

It's not my job. It's not Meet the Press, I'm not Face the Nation. You can watch those shows and see that. My job, again, is to make everyone look good, no matter who it is — if you're a politician, whatever it is. We have people on there people don't like. I know that, but that's not my job. You make your own opinion. I can just show you the best person they are, try to bring out their more personal side, and play with them. [Sirius XM]

Now if only Fallon would start playing Rock, Paper, Scissors, Pie with politicians, perhaps he could captivate voters as 2016 nears.

Listen to Fallon's full response below. Julie Kliegman

2016 Watch
1:57 p.m. ET
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As Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) slumps, he's insisted he isn't dropping out of the 2016 presidential race. In addition to low poll and fundraising numbers, Paul should have another chief concern: one of his opponents, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Both candidates attended the Republican Liberty Caucus in New Hampshire on Friday, and Politico reports things didn't look too hot for Paul, who might be losing the libertarian base to his colleague:

Cruz, who enjoyed a standing ovation when he took the stage, deviated several times from his standard stump speech. He flaunted his philosophically libertarian credentials, name-dropping economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, who are idolized in liberty circles. The Texas senator, who is generally hawkish on foreign policy, also stressed to the non-interventionist crowd that he doesn't support "nation-building," and noted that he opposed a proposal to intervene in Syria. [Politico]

Though Paul's speech was also well-received, some voters in attendance who had strongly supported Paul's father, Ron, in 2012, said they were more confident in Cruz than in the younger Paul.

"Cruz is stronger, he'd have more spunk as president," one told Politico. Julie Kliegman

race in america
12:51 p.m. ET

Activists took to the National Mall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C, on Saturday. In 1995, hundreds of thousands of black men gathered to raise awareness about social and economic inequality.

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, who led the first march, called for an anniversary reprise to include other marginalized groups under the theme "Justice or Else," MSNBC reports. The event comes after the Black Lives Matter movement picked up steam over the past year in protesting police brutality against unarmed black people, including Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Freddie Gray.

"It was a very special moment in my life, it was a moment that actually changed my life, so my main goal is to try to expose young people to that same thing," said Victorious Hall, a 2015 attendee who recalled attending the original event as a 13-year-old. Julie Kliegman

11:51 a.m. ET
David Livingston/Getty Images)

Actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner spoke out about the sexual assault allegations against comedian Bill Cosby, telling The Associated Press on Friday that they "tarnished" the iconic '80s sitcom. Amid backlash over dozens of women accusing Cosby of rape, sexual assault, and drugging, TV Land pulled all re-runs of the show in 2014.

"My biggest concern is when it comes to images of people of color on television and film, no matter what...negative stereotypes of people of color, we've always had The Cosby Show to hold up against that," he said. "And the fact that we no longer have that, that's the thing that saddens me the most because in a few generations the Huxtables will have been just a fairy tale."

Warner said he's been in touch with Cosby, but wouldn't comment on their conversations. Cosby has not been charged with any crime.

On Friday, Dateline interviewed 27 of his accusers, the same day Cosby was scheduled to give a deposition in Los Angeles. The video recording will be sealed for at least 60 days. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
11:02 a.m. ET
Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images

Two bombs at a Turkish peace rally killed at least 86 people and injured 186 others Saturday.

The explosions hit a crowd gathered near a train station in Ankara, the nation's capital, as they readied to rally against renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces. Following the attack, Kurdish rebels declared a temporary cease-fire as the nation prepares for Nov. 1 elections.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombings. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the blasts show "strong signs" of suicide bombings.

"The greatest and most meaningful response to this attack is the solidarity and determination we will show against it," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. Julie Kliegman

10:35 a.m. ET

The Secret Service agent credited with saving former President Ronald Reagan's life died Friday at age 85. Retired agent Jerry Parr died Friday of congestive heart failure, according to his wife, Carolyn, The New York Times reports. Parr's last tweet was a photo of him with Carolyn:

When John W. Hinckley Jr. opened fire on Reagan on March 30, 1981, Parr shoved him into a limousine, jumped in on top of him, and instructed the driver to take off.

"When he was about probably six or seven feet from the car, I heard these shots," Parr said in 2013. "I sort of knew what they were, and I'd been waiting for them all of my career, in a way. That's what every agent waits for, is that."

When Parr saw Reagan was spitting up blood from a bullet that struck him, he diverted the car to the hospital, where the president underwent surgery and returned to work 12 days later.

"Jerry was not only one of the finest Secret Service agents to ever serve this country, but one of the most decent human beings I've ever known," Reagan's widow, Nancy, told CNN on Friday. "He was humble but strong, reserved but confident, and blessed with a great sense of humor. It is no wonder that he and my husband got along so well." Julie Kliegman

Gun Violence
8:17 a.m. ET

President Obama flew to Roseburg, Oregon, on Friday to address families grieving from the Oct. 1 Umpqua Community College shooting, when a gunman killed nine people.

"I've got some very strong feelings about this because when you talk to these families, you're reminded that this could be happening to your child, or your mom, or your dad, or your relative, or your friend," he said. "And so we're going to have to come together as a country to see how we can prevent these issues from taking place."

Obama met with about 40 people at Roseburg High School for an hour before making his public statement.

"It wasn't a discussion, it was a hug," one woman described the meeting to The Oregonian.

Some gun rights advocates protested Obama's presence in Roseburg with demonstrations at the airport and in front of the school. Julie Kliegman

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