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July 17, 2014
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On Thursday, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine. But what was it doing there in the first place?

In April, the FAA prohibited U.S. airlines from flying over Crimea because of the conflict in the region. However, the FAA's concerns were related to air traffic control, not military action, USA Today reports — the FAA's yearlong ban is the result of a dispute over airspace between Ukraine and Russia.

The region specified by the FAA's order is south of where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed. While the FAA's rules only apply to U.S. airlines, the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. subdivision, also warned airlines in April to avoid the region, according to USA Today.

However, Alan Yuhas at The Guardian says flying over conflict zones has been typical practice since the Ukraine conflict started. Here's a snippet of an anonymous pilot for a "major European airline," speaking to Yuhas' colleague Dan Milmo:

"We would often avoid areas where there is air-to-air conflict, but we flew over Iraq and Afghanistan when the British and U.S. armed forces were deployed there, because only one side was using military jets.

There will be weapons based on the ground when you are at 30,000 feet, but that is far up in the air. There are not many missile systems that can be so accurate." [The Guardian]

The pilot's statements imply that these assumptions about the capabilities of ground weapons "will have to be reevaluated, pending investigation of the crash," Yuhas says.

Update: The FAA released a notice on Thursday "barring U.S. flight operations within the Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk regions of Eastern Ukraine following the crash," Time reports. The new paths prohibited are in addition to the Crimean routes prohibited in April. Meghan DeMaria

12:45 p.m. ET

If it's any consolation to former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, his 182-day stint at the podium may have been short, but it wasn't the shortest ever. Of the 31 press secretaries dating back to former President Herbert Hoover, five press secretaries have had even shorter tenures than Spicer, The Washington Post reported:

Roger Tubby (33 days) and Jake Siewert (111 days) were post-election fill-ins under lame-duck presidents — Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, respectively.

Jonathan Daniels (19 days) had just taken over for the iron man of press secretaries, Stephen T. Early (4,403 days), when Franklin Roosevelt died in office. Harry Truman briefly brought back Early on an interim basis before naming his own press secretary, Charles Ross.

Jerald terHorst (30 days) was Gerald Ford's pick after Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. When Ford pardoned Nixon for all Watergate-related crimes, terHorst quit in protest.

James Brady (69 days) was shot in the head during an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981. He survived but never returned to the post. [The Washington Post]

Spicer resigned Friday after informing President Trump that he "vehemently disagreed with the appointment" of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, The New York Times reported. Becca Stanek

12:29 p.m. ET
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On Friday, Hawaii will introduce its emergency plan informing residents and visitors what to do if North Korea strikes. The plan will require students to practice "evacuation drills similar to 'active shooter' situations" and there will be emergency siren testing on the first workday of every month, Time reported. If the incident should ever arise, announcements will be broadcast urging everyone to "get inside, stay inside, and stay tuned."

The plan is being released just weeks after North Korea tested a missile that U.S. authorities confirmed "could travel up to 4,000 miles, just outside of Hawaii's reach and fully within range of Alaska." "We do not want to cause any undue stress for the public," Vern T. Miyagi, Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency administrator, said in a statement. "But there is clear evidence that [North Korea] is trying to develop ballistic missiles that could conceivably one day reach our state."

Meanwhile, Alaskans remain surprisingly unconcerned. Becca Stanek

12:26 p.m. ET

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned his post Friday, The New York Times reported, shortly after President Trump offered Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci the position of communications director. Spicer apparently vehemently opposed Scaramucci's appointment, and despite being asked by Trump to stay on in the administration under Scaramucci, Spicer resigned.

In light of the news, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) on Friday offered her kudos to Spicer for not being the most invertebrate member of the Trump administration:

Trump publicly criticized Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, in an interview with The New York Times earlier this week. On Thursday, Sessions vowed to remain at the Justice Department for "as long as that is appropriate."

Spicer's tenure at the White House lectern was not quite the shortest in history; that dubious honor belongs to Jonathan Daniels, who served 19 days under President Franklin Roosevelt. Kimberly Alters

12:05 p.m. ET

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday after telling President Trump that he "vehemently disagreed with the appointment" of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director, The New York Times writes. Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and longtime Trump supporter, was named communications director earlier Friday.

Trump reportedly asked Spicer to stay on, although Spicer turned down the invitation, calling Scaramucci a mistake. Scaramucci has been working at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and Trump has told aides he appreciates how he defends him in his appearances on Fox News. The communications director job has been open since Mike Dubke's short tenure ended in May. Read more at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

11:45 a.m. ET

You might call it downright surreal. Twenty-seven years after Salvador Dali was buried, his body has been exhumed — and his mustache is still entirely intact, The Associated Press reports.

Dali's embalmed body was dug up to test a tarot card reader's claim that she is the famous painter's daughter. It was necessary for Dali to be exhumed because there are no known biological remains of the artist.

Experts removed samples of Dali's hair, nails, and "two long bones" for testing, AP reports. His famous mustache was reportedly still in the "ten past ten" shape when forensic experts opened the coffin. Jeva Lange

11:25 a.m. ET
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested the White House keep all documentation related to the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-linked lawyer, a person familiar with the decision told CNN. "[T]he Special Counsel's office is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump," Mueller's letter read. "Information concerning the June 2016 meeting between [Trump Jr.] and Natalia Veselnitskaya is relevant to the investigation."

The request covers text messages, emails, voicemail, and other communications.

Meanwhile, President Trump and some of his lawyers are actively looking at ways to undermine, discredit, or fire Mueller, including compiling a list of potential conflicts of interest that might be used to force him out, The New York Times and The Washington Post report. The effort has apparently ramped up as Mueller begins digging into Trump's financial history, and Trump is reportedly especially concerned that Mueller can access his tax returns. Jeva Lange

10:55 a.m. ET
Victor Fraile/Getty Images for Calvin Klein

It would appear it's too late for Justin Bieber to say sorry to China. Beijing's Culture Bureau on Thursday posted an announcement to its website that the Canadian pop star will be banned from performing in China from here on out because of his "bad behaviors." "Justin Bieber is a gifted singer, but he is also a controversial young foreign singer," the bureau said in its statement.

The bureau explained the decision was made "to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment." "We hope that as Justin Bieber matures, he can continue to improve his own words and actions, and truly become a singer beloved by the public," the statement said. Bieber was slated to perform in Hong Kong this fall as part of the Asia portion of his Purpose World Tour.

The bureau didn't cite any specific examples of said "bad behaviors," but The New York Times noted back in 2014 Bieber "caused a diplomatic row when he posted photos of himself visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japanese war dead." The year before, Bieber was photographed "being carried up the Great Wall of China by his bodyguards," the Times reported. On that same trip, he also caused chaos when he skateboarded through Beijing's streets "while being frantically chased by his bodyguards."

At least Bieber can commiserate with Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Maroon 5, and Björk — all of whom have faced similar bans in China. Becca Stanek

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