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
Bill Clinton on Hillary: Sometimes 'I wish we weren't married. Then I could say what I really think.'
On the campaign trail in New Hampshire on Monday, Bill Clinton implied his wife's candidacy is cramping his style as a freewheeling ex-president.
"The hotter this election gets, the more I wish I were just a former president and just for a few months not the spouse of the next one," he said. "Because, you know, I have to be careful what I say."
"Tonight my job is to introduce Hillary," he later added. "Sometimes when I'm on a stage like this, I wish we weren't married. Then I could say what I really think."
The former president has lately been on the attack against Clinton's competitor in the Democratic primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). While it is normal for a candidate's spouse to serve as a surrogate on the campaign trail, Bill Clinton's own political and personal history has made his role more complicated. Bonnie Kristian
At Hillary Clinton's campaign event Tuesday in Hudson, New Hampshire, some attendees, while not necessarily Feeling the Bern, weren't necessarily feeling Hillary so much, either. Seated behind Clinton, members of the crowd sported supremely unenthusiastic campaign gear on the day of the state's primary election. The shirts, emblazoned with the dying whimper of the rallying cry, "Settle for Hillary," certainly get the point across:
— Jeff Bechdel (@jeets) February 9, 2016
Ouch indeed. Stephanie Talmadge
Hillary Clinton Wall Street speech attendee says Clinton sounded 'like a Goldman Sachs managing director'
Before Hillary Clinton was railing on big banks in a race for the Democratic presidential nomination against notoriously anti-Wall Street candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), she was getting paid by the big banks to give talks. Now, those private talks are threatening to make a second — and very public — appearance as the push grows for Clinton to release transcripts.
While some argue that the remarks are nothing but the "boilerplate, happy talk that highly paid speakers generally offer to their hosts," others worry that Clinton's speech, if released, could easily be taken out of context by Sanders, who has already been slamming her for her Wall Street connections.
According to one attendee at Clinton's October 2013 speech to Goldman Sachs executives and tech industry leaders, Clinton's remarks then were a far cry from what she's saying on campaign trail now. "It was pretty glowing about us," the attendee told Politico of the speech. "It's so far from what she sounds like as a candidate now. It was like a rah-rah speech. She sounded more like a Goldman Sachs managing director." Clinton, Politico reports, got $225,000 for the talk, during which she not once criticized Goldman or Wall Street over the financial crisis.
While the question of whether the release will happen remains up in the air, the attendee at Clinton's 2013 speech is pretty confident it won't. "It would bury her against Sanders," the attendee told Politico. "It really makes her look like an ally of the firm."
Donald Trump remains atop the Republican presidential field in a new national poll out Tuesday, with sizable leads over Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The national poll by NBC News/SurveyMonkey shows the real estate mogul leading with 35 percent; Cruz follows with 20 percent support, and Rubio came in third with 17 percent support. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson came in a distant fourth with 7 percent — 28 points behind Trump. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich tied for fifth place nationwide with 3 percent each.
Although Trump remains far and away the leader in the GOP field, the poll also found that Republican voters are losing confidence that he will be the party's eventual nominee. Since last week, the number of voters who say that Trump will win the nomination dropped 20 points to 42 percent. Cruz and Rubio's numbers continued to rise, with 31 percent predicting Iowa caucus winner Cruz would get the nomination and 18 percent saying Rubio would.
The poll, conducted among 2,887 registered Republican voters across the nation, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. Becca Stanek
As Germans kicked off their annual Carnival celebration Monday with huge parades, Donald Trump was right there with them — well, his head was, at least. The city of Düsseldorf's parade featured a massive papier mâché bust of the Republican presidential candidate atop a float.
The float depicts Trump crying over his recent defeat in the Iowa caucuses while simultaneously yelling at the Statue of Liberty, who is sticking her tongue out at him. Trump's campaign slogan is reimagined and painted on his infamous hair: "Make fascism great again."
— Peter Hild (@PeterHild) February 8, 2016
Trump wasn't the only one lampooned atop a float. Caricatures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and even the company Amazon also rode through the streets Monday. Becca Stanek
On Monday in Dallas, U.S. District Judge David Godbey ruled that Texas cannot block the federal government from settling Syrian refugees in the state, thwarting for a second time a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and a promise made by Gov. Greg Abbott (pictured). "The court does not deny that the Syrian refugees pose some risk. That would be foolish," Godbey wrote. "In our country, however, it is the federal executive that is charged with assessing and mitigating that risk, not the states and not the courts." Texas failed to show that the refugee resettlement poses a "substantial threat of irreparable injury," he added.
The federal government placed 215 Syrian refugees in Texas in 2015 and another 10 in Houston this year. Since Obama took office in 2009, Texas has sued the administration 39 times, by The Associated Press' count. Texas is evaluating its options in its Syrian refugee suit, but has a separate motion still outstanding seeking to temporarily bar the Obama administration from settling Syrian refugees in the state, citing a missed filing deadline. Peter Weber
Monday night's debut of Full Frontal, Samantha Bee's late-night comedy show on TBS, included a melancholy look at Jeb Bush's sagging presidential campaign. "Is this the end for our nation's dream of a third Bush presidency?" Bee asked, sardonically, after playing that clip of Bush pleading for his small audience to clap for him. To answer that question, Bee said, she had sent her "foreign exchange producer" to New Hampshire to check in on Bush.
What that looks like in practice is an artsy documentary short narrated by somebody affecting a German accent. Bush "should totally be winning but instead is getting his ass handed to him by an oddly tinted compilation of psychiatric symptoms and by a man who seems like he would lecture a starving kitten on personal responsibility and then deport that kitten and his family," the narrator said, referring to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, respectively. Jokes aside, the camera team actually talked with voters, reporters, and, eventually, Bush, creating a gloomy portrait of "a Jeb in winter." Which will be especially funny if Bush takes second in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. You can watch below, but be warned, there is one instance of the f-word and somewhat disturbing imagery of a crocodile eating a turtle. Peter Weber