TIME Ukraine

Kerry Says Not ‘a Shred’ of Evidence Russia Wants to Ease Ukraine Fighting

Secretary Kerry Meets With Ukrainian Foreign Minister At The State Department
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) answers questions with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin (L) following a meeting at the State Department July 29, 2014 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee—Getty Images

Kerry warned Russia would face stiffer sanctions if it continued to arm and support Ukraine's separatists

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to impose wider sanctions on Russia in a Tuesday press conference, arguing that Russian officials had “not shown a shred of evidence” that they want to de-escalate the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Kerry accused Russia of continuing to ship arms, funds and personnel into eastern Ukraine even after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. If Russia failed to reign in its separatist allies, “we and our European partners will take additional measures and impose wider sanctions on key sections of the Russian economy,” Kerry said during a Washington, D.C. appearance alongside Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.

The announcement echoed a warning from the White House on Monday that the United States and European Union were prepared to tighten sanctions over key sectors of the Russian economy.

Kerry also blasted separatists militias for blocking international investigators’ access to the MH17 crash site and failing to return victims’ remains and belongings to their families. Kerry urged Russia to intervene, calling the behavior “an appalling disregard for human decency.”

TIME Congress

Boehner: House GOP Will Introduce $659 Million Border Bill

John Boehner Holds Media Briefing At The Capitol
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) answers questions during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol July 24, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee—;Getty Images

The bill is well short of the $3.7 President Obama requested

House Speaker John Boehner announced Tuesday that House Republicans are finalizing a bill to address the surge of migrant children coming over the southern U.S. border from Central America. The $659 million bill, however, provides much less than President Barack Obama’s $3.7 billion request.

Boehner said that he expects the House to pass the bill Thursday.

“I think there’s sufficient support in the House to move this bill,” Boehner told reporters after a House GOP conference meeting. “We’ve got a little more work to do, though.”

The bill, however, has little chance of passing through the Senate. That’s because it would, among other things, change a 2008 law that requires now-backlogged immigration courts to screen children who aren’t from Mexico or Canada. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid oppose changing that provision, arguing it would give the unaccompanied minors — many of whom are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — fewer legal protections and that there are other ways of speeding up immigration cases.

The Senate is voting on its own $2.7 billion bill — which doesn’t include the policy change – as soon as Wednesday.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers broke down the House bill into three pots of funding: border control, temporary housing and foreign aid to to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The majority of the money, $405 million, is set aside to boost the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Another $197 million would be allocated for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with taking care of the children until their family members or guardians can be located while their immigration cases are handled. There’s also $22 million in funding to hire temporary immigration judges, $35 million to send in the National Guard to secure the border and $40 million to support uniting the families in the aforementioned Central American countries.

The bill would be offset, Rogers announced, primarily through a $405 million cut from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Other cuts to the State, Defense and Justice departments will bring the bill to be fully offset.

The Obama Administration predicts that as many as 90,000 unaccompanied minors could be apprehended on the U.S.-Mexico border before the end of September.

 

TIME 2014 Midterm Election

The ‘Super PAC to End All Super PACs’ Is Backing These Candidates

The 18th Annual Webby Awards - Inside
Professor Lawrence Lessig poses backstage at the 18th Annual Webby Awards on May 19, 2014 in New York City. Theo Wargo—2014 Getty Images

And gives Congress an ultimatum before revealing its entire slate

The Mayday Super PAC, a crowdfunded Political Action Committee designed to support pro-campaign finance reform politicians, announced two of the candidates it will support in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections.

The PAC is supporting State Senator Jim Reubens in the New Hampshire Republican Senate primary. It’s also supporting Democrat Staci Appel in the race to represent Iowa’s third congressional district.

Reubens has made “fundamental reform to the way campaigns are funded” a central platform in his campaign, the group said. In that race, the group is also opposing former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who it says opposes several key campaign finance reform measures and supports the lightning rod Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Appel, meanwhile, is also a dedicated campaign finance reformer.

Mayday PAC has said it will support a total of five candidates in this year’s midterms. However, it has left three of the five candidates it will ultimately support unannounced as a “warning shot,” as the group calls it, to other politicians.

“If a candidate for Congress wants to be inoculated from being on our target list,” the group said in a press release Monday, “there is an easy way to do so: get on the right side of reform.”

Mayday PAC says candidates have until 5 p.m. eastern time on August 5 to meet the group’s requirements or else risk being named a target. Whether any candidates will switch their positions on campaign finance reform as a result of the groups’ ultimatum remains to be seen.

The “Super PAC to end all Super PACs” was launched by the academic and campaign finance reform activist Lawrence Lessig. The group has raised $7.7 million to spend influencing key races this year, much of it Kickstarter-style through small donations.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: July 29

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the News: Israeli media blasts Kerry; U.S. says Russia violated arms treaty; Michelle Nunn's leaked memos; WH report on impact of climate change; and using threat of Obama's impeachment as fundraising tactic

  • Barack Obama immigration moves could raise legal questions [Politico]
  • WH report details economic impact of delaying climate action [TIME]
  • Michelle Nunn’s leaked memos offer rare glimpse of campaign calculation [TIME]
  • Spending big to fight big donors in campaigns [NYT]
  • “A ballot initiative that would support breaking California into six smaller and more coherent states is being backed by Timothy Draper, a tech investor. It’s a great idea. But why stop with California? Breaking up all of the too-large states would increase both the accountability and efficiency of the U.S. government.” [Salon]
  • A Tea Party Tempest in Tennessee [TIME]
  • Senator Patrick Leahy unveils ‘historic’ NSA reform bill [The Hill]
  • “If Congress makes no change in existing law, officials said, Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted in 2030, four years later than the administration projected in May 2013. The Social Security trust fund, they said, will be depleted in 2033, the same as expected last year.” [NYT]
  • Politicking off impeachment chatter [Politico]
  • It’s up to the Senate to save you from sunburn now [National Journal]
  • Israel knocked out Gaza’s only power plant, flattened the home of its Islamist Hamas political leader and pounded dozens of other high-profile targets in the enclave on Tuesday, with no end in sight to more than three weeks of conflict.” [Reuters]
  • The one thing everyone in Israel seems to agree on: John Kerry blew it [Washington Post]
  • “In another sign of deteriorating relations between the United States and Russia, the U.S. government said on Monday that Moscow had violated the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty, and urged immediate bilateral talks on the issue.” [Reuters]

 

TIME Opinion

A Tea Party Tempest in Tennessee

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander announces the kickoff of his "Standing Up for Tennessee" bus tour at Sullivan's Restaurant in his hometown of Maryville, Tenn., as his wife Honey and State Rep. Art Swann look on on July 25, 2014.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander announces the kickoff of his "Standing Up for Tennessee" bus tour at Sullivan's Restaurant in his hometown of Maryville, Tenn., as his wife Honey and State Rep. Art Swann look on on July 25, 2014. Tom Sherlin—The Daily News/AP

Why Lamar Alexander should prevail against a hard-right challenger

I’ve always thought that Lamar Alexander’s Little Plaid Book, a collection of political wisdom gleaned from more than half a lifetime in the arena, is an underappreciated classic. (My favorite rule is #73, “Walk in Parades,” followed by #74: “If it is the Mule Day parade, walk at the front.”) Subtitled “Rules, Reminders, and Lessons About Running for Office and Making a Difference, Whether It’s for President of the United States or President of Your Senior Class,” the book is the kind of thing that might have resulted if Machiavelli and Dale Carnegie had teamed up to write a primer on Southern politics.

Like other incumbents, Alexander, a former governor who is now seeking his third term in the U.S. Senate, is facing a Tea Party primary challenge, and voters will choose between Alexander and state representative Joe Carr on Aug. 7. While the race is not especially close in the polls, Alexander knows the risks.

The defeat of Eric Cantor in Virginia and the political near-death experience of Thad Cochran in Mississippi have invested Tea Party campaigns like Carr’s with tragic electoral possibilities for incumbents who do not take such incursions seriously. An Alexander victory would signal that the GOP, at least at the senatorial level, has more in common with the passionate pragmatism of Ronald Reagan than with the provocative postings of Sarah Palin.

Alexander is one of the last of a kind—a politician with a passion for governing, and to govern, as we know, is to choose, and choice tends to require compromise, for, like life, politics is not perfectible.

This last point is essential, and it goes to the heart of the Tea Party primary campaigns of 2014. From immigration to Obamacare, Tea Party conservatives are out for total ideological victory—though what might come on the day after is less clear. As Newt Gingrich said in endorsing Alexander, projecting a GOP takeover of the Senate, “As a committee chairman next year, he will play a vital role in ending the Obama era in health and in education. We need Lamar’s experience and shrewdness to fix Washington.”

It’s an old truth: you can’t beat something with nothing, and it takes serious legislators to effect serious change.

I grew up in Tennessee when Alexander was governor and have watched him closely through the years. He is what people ought to want in a senator: an experienced, sensible man with a record of achievement. He first sought public office more than four decades ago. He lost that first gubernatorial race in 1974, but won four years later. He has been a two-term governor, a university president, a secretary of Education, a presidential candidate, and a United States senator. He was one of the early Southern governors who courted automakers to come to right-to-work states in the Old Confederacy—and, as he points out, by end of the 1980s, Tennessee had gone from the third poorest state in the Union to the state with the fastest growing family incomes.

With no state income tax, Alexander used the public sector to create conditions for private-sector growth, including building critical roads while leaving the state with no road debt. He was also an innovator in education. Alexander did all this from 1979 to 1987 with a legislature that was in Democratic hands.

Carr has buzzy endorsements, chiefly from Palin and from Laura Ingraham, who played such a critical role in defeating Cantor for renomination in Virginia. “It’s time for bold colors. Abandon the pastels,” Ingraham told Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “We need fighters. Lamar’s had his time. He’s had a good run.” Alexander, she added, is “kind of like an old sweater. He was really comfortable and sharp looking at one point, but now it just takes up room in your drawer.”

In endorsing Carr, Palin thanked Alexander for his service but said it was time for a change: “With the new challenges in D.C., the time has come for new leaders who are willing to stand up to the political establishments and the Obama administration and say, ‘no mas!’”

It’s worth remembering, though, that a senator like Alexander has much more in common with the real Reagan—a master compromiser—than any reflexive ideologue has. Reagan would have walked in front of the mules, right along with Alexander, who’s earned at least six more years of such parades.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described Carr. He is a current member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

TIME Environment

Delay Action on Climate Change by 10 Years and Costs Rocket 40%: Report

Inside the DTE Energy Inc. Coal-Fired Power Plant
Steam rises from a tower at DTE Energy Co.'s Monroe Power Plant in Monroe, Michigan, U.S., on Monday, June 30, 2014. Jeff Kowalsky—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The longer the U.S. holds off action to mitigate climate change, the more costly the effort will become, a new report shows

A new report estimates the cost of mitigating the effects of climate change could rise by as much as 40% if action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is delayed 10 years — immediately outweighing any potential savings of a delay.

The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, U.S. President Barack Obama’s source for advice on economic policy, compared over 100 actions on climate change laid out in 16 studies to extract the average cost of delayed efforts. Released Tuesday, the findings suggests policymakers should immediately confront carbon emissions as a form of “climate insurance.”

“Events such as the rapid melting of ice sheets and the consequent increase of global sea levels, or temperature increases on the higher end of the range of scientific uncertainty, could pose such severe economic consequences as reasonably to be thought of as climate catastrophes,” the report reads. “Confronting the possibility of climate catastrophes means taking prudent steps now to reduce the future chances of the most severe consequences of climate change.”

The report also found that any increase in climate change amid that delayed action would gravely exacerbate the problem; a rise to 3°C above preindustrial temperatures would mean mitigation costs would increase by about 0.9% of global economic output year on year. (To put this into perspective, 0.9% of U.S. economic output is estimated at $150 billion for 2014.)

Tuesday’s report comes as the Obama Administration announces more executive actions to reduce methane emissions to “continue to make progress in modernizing the nation’s natural gas transmission and distribution systems,” according to an administration official.

The White House began renewing its commitment to climate change earlier this year with the release of the third National Climate Assessment in May, which painted a grim picture of the current and future effects of climate change on the environment. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a sweeping plan to cut carbon emissions 30% by 2030. Though environmentalists have praised the plan, it has split some lawmakers and business owners who worry it could have an adverse impact on energy prices.

TIME Foreign Policy

White House: EU, US to Impose New Russia Sanctions

(WASHINGTON) — The United States and European Union plan to impose new sanctions against Russia this week, including penalties targeting key sectors of the Russian economy, the White House said Monday.

The show of Western solidarity comes as the U.S. accuses Russia of ramping up its troop presence on its border with Ukraine and shipping more heavy weaponry to pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukrainian cities.

President Barack Obama and the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Italy discussed the crisis during a rare joint video teleconference on Monday. The discussion follows days of bilateral talks on how to implement tougher sanctions after the downing of a passenger jet in eastern Ukraine, an attack the U.S. says was carried out by the separatists.

The U.S. and European sanctions are likely to target Russia’s energy, arms and financial sectors. The EU is also weighing the prospect of levying penalties on individuals close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who appears to only be deepening Russia’s role in destabilizing Ukraine.

“It’s precisely because we’ve not yet seen a strategic turn from Putin that we believe it’s absolutely essential to take additional measures, and that’s what the Europeans and the United States intend to do this week,” said Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser.

Europe, which has a stronger trade relationship with Russia than the U.S., has lagged behind Washington with its earlier sanctions package, in part out of concern from leaders that the penalties could have a negative impact on their own economies. But a spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said following Monday’s call that the West agreed that the EU should move a “strong package of sectoral sanctions as swiftly as possible.”

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement that the Western leaders “regretted Russia has not effectively pressured separatists to bring them to negotiate nor taken expected concrete measures to assure control of the Russian-Ukrainian border.”

The U.S. penalties are expected to be imposed after Europe finalizes its next moves. Neither set of penalties is expected to fully cut off Russian economic sectors from the West, an options U.S. officials have said they’re holding in reserve in case Russia launches a full-on military incursion in Ukraine or takes a similarly provocative step.

As the West presses ahead with new sanctions, U.S. officials say Russia is getting more directly involved in the clash between separatists and the Ukrainian government. Blinken said Russia appeared to be using the international attention focused on the downed Malaysia Airlines plane as “cover and distraction” while it moves more heavy weaponry over its border and into Ukraine.

“We’ve seen a significant re-buildup of Russian forces along the border, potentially positioning Russia for a so-called humanitarian or peace-keeping intervention in Ukraine,” Blinken said. “So there’s urgency to arresting this.”

Nearly 300 people were killed when the Malaysian plane was shot down by a missile on July 17. The West blames the separatists for the missile attack and Russia for supplying the rebels with equipment that can take down a plane.

Other leaders participating in Monday’s call were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The White House said the leaders also discussed the stalled efforts to achieve a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the need for Iraq to form a more inclusive government and the uptick in security threats in Libya.

TIME poverty

Politicians Give Living on Minimum Wage a Whirl

Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit
Ted Strickland, former Governor of Ohio Jin Lee—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tim Ryan, Ted Strickland and Jan Schakowsky took part in #LiveTheWage challenge, and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn agreed to try it in the future

Former Governor of Ohio Ted Strickland said in Sunday op-ed that he tried and failed to live on the minimum wage last week as a part of the #LiveTheWage challenge.

“Washington is in a bubble that keeps our representatives away from the experiences of those they actually represent,” Strickland wrote in Politico Magazine. “We need to understand the challenges faced by Americans who are being left behind in our economy.”

He wasn’t the only politician trying to understand the setbacks faced by low-earning workers. U.S. representatives Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) also took part in the challenge, which asks participants to live on only $77 a week — the typical amount of money an employee relying on the current $7.25 minimum wage can put toward all their expenses, not counting utilities and rent.

Ryan and Schakowsky began the challenge last Thursday, which was the fifth anniversary of the last federal minimum wage increase, ABC News reports. Both reps support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“So far I have lost some weight, which is not bad for me, but must be tough for low wage workers all over the country,” tweeted Schakowsky. “#LiveTheWage just gives me a glimpse into the life of a low wage worker. Point is $7.25 isn’t enough to live on.”

At an event Sunday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn agreed to Schakowsky’s request to that he, too, live on the minimum wage, in advance of a ballot measure in Illinois on Nov. 4 to raise its minimum wage to $10 in 2015, the Associated Press reports.

TIME Panda Sex

Richard Nixon Asked a Reporter to Watch Panda Sex

A new book details the former president’s keen interest making sure his new pandas got busy

+ READ ARTICLE

When former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai gave the United States two pandas in 1972, the result, as captured in a pun-perfect turn of phrase by first lady Pat Nixon, was “panda-monium,” report the authors of the new book The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972.

And that panda-monium–something which we here at TIME, progenitors of our very own replacement panda-cam, know all about–has continued, once more proving that we are but one nation, under panda.

But the very first panda lover of all of us–the prototypical panda pursuer, the panda panderer to rule them all–was none other than bowling enthusiast and nearly two-term President Richard M. Nixon.

Nixon’s interest in his new Chinese pandas, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, was such that he was touchingly concerned with their sex lives.

Here’s Nixon’s exchange with Washington Star foreign editor Crosby Noyes, courtesy of The Washington Post.

Nixon: The problem, however, with pandas is that they don’t know how to mate. The only way they learn how is to watch other pandas mate. You see?

Noyes: [laughs]

Nixon: And, so they’re keeping them there a little while—these are younger ones—

Noyes: I see.

Nixon: —to sort of learn, you know, how it’s done.

Noyes: Sure, learn the ropes—

Nixon: Now, if they don’t learn it, they’ll get over here and nothing will happen, so I just thought you should just have your best reporter out there to see whether these pandas—

You get the picture.

In exchange for the pandas, the U.S. gave China two musk oxen, which are neat enough, sure, but it’s pretty clear who got the better end of that deal.

TIME 2014 Election

Michelle Nunn’s Leaked Memos Offer Rare Glimpse of Campaign Calculation

Michelle Nunn speaks to her supporters after winning the Democratic primary for Georgia Senate on May 20, 2014. Akili-Casundria Ramsess—AP

The leaked documents offer a rare inside look at campaign strategy

As a Democrat in a Southern state, Senate candidate Michelle Nunn has a tough path to victory. The road became a little bumpier Monday, when a conservative magazine published a series of internal strategy memos outlining the Nunn campaign’s perceptions of the candidate’s weaknesses.

The memos are a guide to practically everything the Nunn campaign worried about last winter—except how to run damage control on the memos themselves.

Obtained by reporter Eliana Johnson of National Review, the documents detail the challenges Nunn must surmount to win election as a moderate Democrat in conservative Georgia. Among the vulnerabilities identified are the perception that Nunn is “too liberal,” that she is “not a real Georgian” and that Republicans will tie her to national Democratic leaders who are deeply unpopular in the Peach State.

The documents warn of weak spots stemming from Nunn’s role as CEO of a nonprofit foundation. They reveal the campaign’s clinic assessment of how it must mobilize traditional liberal constituencies, like African-Americans, Jews and Asians. And they expose the campaign’s plan to sell Nunn with “rural” imagery that might soften up Georgia voters skeptical of a candidate reared partly in the suburbs of Washington, where her father served as a Georgia senator.

According to National Review, the documents were briefly posted online in December.

Beyond the potentially damaging aspects, the memos offer a rare, unvarnished glimpse into the mechanics of running a campaign. They cover everything from scrubbing a voter file to modeling turnout (1.4 million votes is Nunn’s magic number, according to a memo from Democratic strategist Diane Feldman). The documents map the architecture of Nunn’s outreach machine and detail which constituencies to target. Much of the information will reinforce negative impressions of how campaigns work, including suggestions for how to drive a message week-by-week and the ways it can whack Republican opponents.

In short, the memos are a classic example of what is known in Washington as a Kinsley gaffe: when a politician errs by accidentally revealing the truth. (The phenomenon is named after the journalist Michael Kinsley, who coined the phenomenon.) The existence of the memos is not a surprise; any campaign worth its salt undertakes a study of its perceived weaknesses. The Nunn memos are remarkable less for their judgments than for the fact that a hapless adviser apparently posted them on the Internet.

“Like all good plans, they change. But what hasn’t changed and is all the more clear today is that Michelle’s opponents are going to mischaracterize her work and her positions, and part of what we’ve always done is to prepare for the false things that are going to be said,” Nunn campaign manager Jeff DeSantis told The Hill.

From time to time, these leaks happen. In 2007, internal strategy memos from Mitt Romney’s first presidential campaign were obtained by the Boston Globe, including a 77-page PowerPoint presentation dotted with analyses of both Romney’s weaknesses and those of his GOP rivals. Around the same time, Rudy Giuliani’s strategy blueprint materialized online after a leak. The Atlantic nabbed similar documents from Hillary Clinton’s team the following year, revealing her campaign’s concerns about “frontrunner-itis” and its strategy for exploiting Barack Obama’s “lack of American roots.”

Recent polls have shown the Democrat in a tight race with Republican nominee David Perdue, who edged Rep. Jack Kingston in a Republican Senate runoff last week. A Democratic Senate Campaign Committee memo released (intentionally) last week assails the GOP businessman’s “record of putting himself first,” a signal that Nunn’s campaign will borrow a page from the populist playbook President Obama’s advisers deployed against Romney. As they fight to hold control of the Senate, Democrats view the race as a rare pickup opportunity on an unforgiving electoral map.

How much will the leak hurt Nunn’s prospects? It’s tough to say. But when you’re trying to sell a candidate as authentic, a long look at the careful packaging can’t help.

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