On Monday, somebody shot down a Ukrainian military An-26 transport plane carrying food and water to Ukrainian troops trying to rout the pro-Moscow separatists gathered in their strongholds of Luhansk and Donetsk. The separatists claimed responsibility for the downing of the plane and said they captured four crew members, but Ukraine reportedly says it has "undisputed proof" that Russia was involved.
The airplane was flying at more than 21,000 feet, Ukraine says, putting it out of the reach of the shoulder-fired rockets the separatists have used so far. Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey said that the plane had been "downed by another, more powerful missile that probably was launched from the territory of the Russian Federation," either from a surface-to-air system or a Russian jet. Russia, for its part, is threatening Ukraine with "irreversible consequences" for an artillery round that fell in Russian territory, killing a civilian.
NATO says that Russia has been slowly increasing its troop levels near the Ukraine border, with up to 12,000 troops in the area, from about 1,000 in mid-June. The U.S. is also accusing Russia of sending heavy weapons and military personnel to help lead the separatists in their battle against Kiev. "While Russia says it seeks peace, its actions do not match its rhetoric," the U.S. government said in a statement. Peter Weber
Michelle Obama will release her memoir, Becoming, on November 13, the former first lady announced Sunday.
In a statement, Obama said writing the book "has been a deeply personal experience. It has allowed me, for the very first time, the space to honestly reflect on the unexpected trajectory of my life." The book will cover everything from her childhood in Chicago's South Side to her time at the White House, and will be published in two dozen languages. Obama will also narrate the audio version of Becoming, and is expected to go on a publicity tour in the U.S. and abroad. Catherine Garcia
Despite the U.N. Security Council unanimously passing a cease-fire resolution Saturday, Syrian government forces continued air strikes in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus, killing at least 22 people on Sunday.
Since this offensive began seven days ago, more than 500 people have been killed in the violence. Doctors in the area said one of the bombs that was dropped contained chlorine, and one child was killed when this bomb caused them to suffocate. Panos Moumtzis, U.N. regional coordinator for Syria, said he was "very, very disappointed" by the violence, but thinks there is a still a chance an agreement could be made to bring food and medicine into the area. An estimated 350,000 civilians remain in Eastern Ghouta.
In order to get Russia, a Syrian ally, on board with the cease-fire, the resolution had to exclude "terrorists," The Washington Post reports, and because the Syrian government often refers to all of its opponents as "terrorists," this could be the military's justification for its continued air strikes. This was bolstered by an Iranian military official, who said Iran and Syria will abide by the resolution, but Eastern Ghouta is "under terrorists' control." Catherine Garcia
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and plans to make 2018 her final campaign. But if the activists at the California Democratic Party's convention this weekend have their say, she won't run again at all.
In vote results released Sunday, just 37 percent of delegates backed Feinstein, while 54 percent supported her primary challenger, State Sen. Kevin de León. Party rules require 60 percent support for an endorsement, but the underdog de León promptly cast the vote as "an astounding rejection of politics as usual [which] boosts our campaign's momentum as we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder against a complacent status quo."
When her speech ran long at the convention Saturday and music began to play her off the stage, Feinstein commented, "I guess my time is up." Her rival's delegates immediately made the aside into a political chant, shouting, "Your time is up! Your time is up!" as she left the podium.
In the broader race, however, Feinstein's name recognition and deep coffers put her well ahead of her opponent. A recent survey saw her leading with 46 percent to de León's 17 percent. Bonnie Kristian
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Sunday posited the United States may soon develop a multi-party system because the Democratic and Republican parties are not satisfying voters.
"We may be beginning to see the end of the two-party system," he mused in an interview on ABC's This Week. "I'm starting to really wonder if we're going to see a multi-party system at some point in the future in this country. Because I don't think either party is answering people's deepest concerns and needs."
Kasich appeared with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), with whom, as host George Stephanopoulos noted, some speculate he may try to form a unity ticket to challenge President Trump in 2020. Neither governor would say whether he intends to mount a presidential campaign, and Kasich offered mixed messaging on where his partisan loyalties would be should he choose to run. He said the GOP is "is [his] vehicle, not [his] master," but demurred at the ideas of endorsing Hickenlooper as a Democratic nominee or running as an independent himself.
Conservative author Mona Charen got booed at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday because of comments she made about the #MeToo movement, the Republican Party, and President Trump.
"I am disappointed in people on our side for being hypocrites about sexual harassers and abusers of women who are in our party, who are sitting in the White House, who brag about their extramarital affairs, who brag about mistreating women," Charen said, referencing Trump and the Access Hollywood tape. "This is a party that endorsed Roy Moore for the Senate in the state of Alabama even though he was a credibly accused child molester," she continued. "You cannot claim that you stand for women and put up with that."
Writing in The New York Times Sunday, Charen stood by her critique of the GOP as a lifelong conservative. "There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth," she wrote. "And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism, by those of us who refuse to overlook the fools, frauds, and fascists attempting to glide along in his slipstream into respectability."
Watch an excerpt of the CPAC panel below, and read the whole New York Times op-ed here. Bonnie Kristian
— Scout (@about_scout) February 24, 2018
Broward sheriff refuses to resign, claims 'amazing leadership' despite shooting response allegations
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union that he will not resign despite allegations that multiple deputies under his command did not enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, "when they should have" during the Valentine's Day mass shooting.
Israel previously said one deputy assigned to the school was suspended without pay and then resigned because he never entered the school to protect students or confront the shooter. Now the Coral Springs Police Department has accused other deputies of delaying their entry.
"Deputies make mistakes, police officers make mistakes, we all make mistakes," Israel argued. "But it's not the responsibility of the general or the president if you have a deserter."
Israel also addressed the warnings his department received about the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, before the attack. "I can only take responsibility for what I knew about," the sheriff told host Jake Tapper Sunday. "I exercised my due diligence. I provided amazing leadership to this agency." Tapper was unconvinced, countering that "you measure somebody's leadership by the way they protect the community" and suggesting Israel failed to protect Parkland.
Watch the full interview below. Bonnie Kristian
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 25, 2018
The Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee on Sunday announced a proposal to remove the presidential term limit that would constrain the rule of President Xi Jinping.
Under the present structure of the Chinese Constitution, Xi is limited to two five-year terms, the second of which is due to end in 2023. If the constitutional amendment is approved, Xi could potentially stay in office indefinitely. An editorial in a Chinese state newspaper said the change would not mean "the Chinese president will have a lifelong tenure," but it quoted a Communist Party source saying China needs "consistent leadership" through 2035.
Xi's anti-corruption campaign has been popular among the public, but comments about the proposal on Weibo, China's Twitter analogue, suggested extending the term limit would be preferred over ending it. "If two terms are not enough, then they can write in a third term, but there needs to be a limit," wrote one user. "Getting rid of it is not good!" Bonnie Kristian