A huge majority of Ukrainians oppose splintering the country despite the ongoing violence in eastern Ukraine, according to a new Pew poll. Seventy-seven percent say Ukraine should remain fully unified, while only 14 percent support allowing regions to secede.
By smaller, though still overwhelming, margins, Ukrainians in the east also oppose secession (70 percent to 18 percent) as do Russian-speaking residents (58 percent to 27 percent.)
The findings come as the self-appointed "Donetsk People's Republic" has insisted it will still hold a secession referendum on May 11. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the referendum to be postponed, and said he was withdrawing Russian troops from the border between the two nations to ease tension in the region. Jon Terbush
California Republicans join climate change fight, tell colleagues 'it would be foolish not to engage'
President Trump has famously dismissed climate change as a hoax and his administration is reportedly debating how to walk back the United States' participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. But far from Washington, members of the president's party are quietly bridging partisan divides to work with Democrats on climate change legislation, The Los Angeles Times reports.
California Republicans voted last year against legislation that set an aggressive new benchmark for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 2030. But the Democrats' legislation has since become law and now Republicans are exploring their own approaches to limiting emissions and using the freed-up revenue of a cap-and-trade program for tax credits and rebates. The proposed cap-and-trade program would require "companies to buy permits to release emissions into the atmosphere," the Times explains.
Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes said: "Californians, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, are different from the rest of the country. What they're doing back in Washington, D.C., is not what we're going to be doing in California ... It would be foolish not to engage."
Still, it's a shaky new relationship; there is some question about the legality of the program, and Democrats might not be willing to give up certain parts of their proposal in a compromise, such as their wish to regulate public health pollutants along with greenhouse gases in the program. In one heated exchange with Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong (Bakersfield), Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown snapped: "You're not going to vote for cap-and-trade anyway. Look, cap-and-trade is about climate change, which you don't believe in and your president says is a hoax."
But Assemblyman Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside) indicates things are changing. "You look on what's going on in the Antarctic, in the North Pole, you look at the issue of sea-level rise. It's an issue that we need to be concerned about," he said. "We want to be part of the solution." Jeva Lange
Fox News president Bill Shine may be the next big network figure to get the ax, New York's Gabriel Sherman reports. While the network deals with the fallout from dismissing its top host, Bill O'Reilly, and a raft of lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and racial intolerance, Shine is reportedly feeling the squeeze. Citing three sources familiar with the conversation, Sherman reported Thursday that Shine "recently asked Rupert [Murdoch]'s sons James and Lachlan — the CEO and co-chairman, respectively of network parent company 21st Century Fox — to release a statement in support of him, but they refused to do so."
Shine wanted the backing of the Murdochs to solidify his position at the helm of the company at a time of "withering press coverage," Sherman writes. He adds: "By refusing to back Shine at this tumultuous moment for the network, the Murdochs may finally be signaling that they're prepared to make the sweeping management changes they've so far resisted after forcing out CEO Roger Ailes last summer." Ailes left the network amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment, all of which he has vehemently denied. (O'Reilly has also denied all accusations against him, calling them "completely unfounded.")
The trouble with dismissing a top network executive, however, is two-fold: Shine has been a beacon of stability for a network mired in controversy over the last year, and he also "may simply know too much about Fox News' inner workings," Sherman says. Read his full report at New York. Kimberly Alters
Former Trump adviser Carter Page claims he was 'the victim of one of the most horrendous civil rights violations in recent U.S. election history'
President Trump's former campaign adviser, Carter Page, is one of several characters to have fallen under intense scrutiny as authorities investigate Russia's influence on the 2016 presidential election. Page had been on the FBI's radar since a Russian spy tried to recruit him in 2013, and when he convinced the Trump campaign to allow him to travel to Moscow to give a Russia-friendly speech in July, the FBI took notice and began to dig into connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.
But Page claims the FBI's investigation made him "the victim of one of the most horrendous civil rights violations in recent U.S. election history." Speaking with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Thursday, Page said that his rights were violated by the legal FISA court warrant that was obtained, he alleges, based on information in a "dodgy dossier" — a reference to the widely-circulated but unverified espionage document that claims Russian President Vladimir Putin ran a secret campaign to get President Trump elected.
Mediaite adds that "for some reason, the ex-Trump adviser also brought up the recently released book about Clinton campaign dirt, Shattered, to further make his case that he was unfairly targeted, something that left Cuomo a bit confused." Watch Page's oddball defense below. Jeva Lange
— CNN (@CNN) April 27, 2017
Two American soldiers were killed overnight in the eastern Afghanistan province of Nangarhar in an operation against an Islamic State affiliate, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Thursday.
The operation targeted the Afghanistan wing of the terrorist group, known as ISIS-K. An additional Special Operations Forces soldier was wounded in combat, but is expected to live, CNN reports.
The Nangarhar region is a hotbed for ISIS, and has been the site of many U.S.-Afghan joint counterterrorism operations. It is also near where the U.S. dropped the so-called "mother of all bombs" earlier this month. Jeva Lange
America's spy agencies are struggling to recruit young people who don't like surveillance, do like pot
The next generation of American spies may be difficult to find, said James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, on Wednesday. The trouble is twofold.
First, young Americans aren't exactly keen on mass surveillance. "We need to attract new people, new young people, to the intelligence community," Clapper said, but "they're going to say, 'You know, there's too much Big Brother. There's too much invasiveness and intrusiveness in my life, so I don't think I'm going to work here.' I worry about that."
Second, as FBI Director James Comey has complained, young Americans do like marijuana, for which intelligence agencies have little tolerance. "I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview," Comey said in 2014. Any recent marijuana use, even in states where recreational or medicinal consumption is legal, runs afoul of hiring practices at the FBI as well as the CIA, a policy that shrinks the recruiting pool considerably in an age when 4 in 10 Americans will cop to trying pot. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump's much-vaunted plan to implement "one of the greatest military buildups in American history" to make the military "bigger and better and stronger than ever before" looks increasingly unlikely, Politico reports. Trump has called for a $30 billion defense spending increase for 2017 and a $54 billion bump for 2018, but as congressional budget negotiations continue and a government shutdown looms, he may not get what he wants.
Defense contractors, eager for fresh largesse, are "certainly frustrated that the initial hopefulness has not borne out, or at least not borne out yet," Doug Berenson of Avascent, a defense consulting firm, told Politico. "A lot of people in the industry, myself included, sort of allowed ourselves to get ahead of ourselves in the first weeks following the election without fully realizing the budget politics that have been with us for the last five or six years are not completely gone."
The U.S. military budget is already the largest in the world, surpassing the military spending of the next seven nations combined. Despite consistent evidence of large-scale waste and fraud, the Pentagon's books have never undergone a comprehensive audit. Bonnie Kristian
The State Department has about 200 high-ranking positions left unfilled during President Trump's transition into power because those roles may soon be eliminated, said department representative R. C. Hammond in a New York Times report published Thursday.
The Trump administration has proposed a 31 percent cut to the State budget, and even a smaller restructuring would make it nonsensical to temporarily fill positions that require Senate confirmation, Hammond argued, employing a shipwreck exploration analogy. "The first step was to find out where the Titanic was, and then it was to map out where everything else is," he said. "I think we're still in the process of mapping out the entire ocean floor so that we understand the full picture."
The mapping process here is a listening tour by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who in coming days will personally explore the State Department's current structure to determine what he would like to change. Critics from left and right alike have suggested this delay — which means the roles that are retained won't be filled until 2018 — is a dangerous decision that leaves diplomatic neophytes at the helm of one of the most important Cabinet agencies. Bonnie Kristian