Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Clara Spera
Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 11:01 AM

According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States has proof that the Russian government has sent spies to Ukraine to help incite the separatist movement. Remarks that Kerry made in a closed-door meeting---it seems like nothing he says stays private these days---reveal that the United States is tapping the phones of Russian intelligence operatives. The Daily Beast has the story, and obtained recordings of Kerry revealing this information in the meeting to back it up.

The Ukrainian government has lost control of more of the eastern part of the country. The Guardian reports that pro-Russian separatists have taken over multiple government buildings in yet another eastern city, Horlivka. The police forces in the cities now under separatist control have barely put up a fight, and Kiev is essentially powerless to stop the ongoing uprising in the east.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the situation in Ukraine will top the agenda for President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s upcoming meeting in Washington later this week.

The New York Times tells us that Russia and Iran are allegedly working on an energy deal worth as much as $10 billion, undercutting the efficacy of international sanctions on Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran took to television in an attempt to respond to criticism of the six power talks about his country’s nuclear program.  President Rouhani was steadfast in insisting that the negotiations, and scaling back Iran’s nuclear capabilities in return for a lift on economic sanctions, would not jeopardize the country’s national interest. Al Jazeera has the story.

No surprise here: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced his intention to run for re-election. The Times reports that the upcoming June 3rd election is widely considered "an attempt to enhance [Assad’s] perceived legitimacy" as war rages on in the country.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government is trying to stop radicals from funneling through its borders and into Syria, often by way of Europe. Euronews reports that the Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade plans to make a plea to Europe for help with this increasingly worrisome issue.

This morning marks the first parliamentary election in Iraq since U.S. troops left the country in 2011. The Journal covers the tight security measures in place today, and the incoming reports of strong voter turnout.

The Times reports that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is likely to win a third term in office today, despite strong American resistance to his leadership. His reelection, however, is far from certain; he faces multiple challengers from varying parties, many divided along ethnic and religious lines.

SecState Kerry is also committed to seeing a successful transition to democracy in Egypt. The Associated Press reports that when he met with Egypt’s Foreign Minister yesterday, Kerry praised Egypt’s new constitution, but expressed disappointment at a recent court ruling that sentenced nearly 700 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death.

The United States and the Philippines have signed a new deal that escalates their defense relationship in a direct attempt to shield the growing ambitions of China. President Obama, in his first visit to the Philippines, praised the agreement, which amps up American military presence in the country. Forbes has all the details on the agreement, and what led the two countries to buttress their relationship in this manner.

The Hill has a recap of yesterday’s SCOTUS oral arguments in Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, both important cases surrounding police and cell phone privacy. The two most vocal justices during the arguments were Justices Sotomayor and Scalia; privacy advocates hope the two can come together to build a consensus in favor of increased privacy protection.

And, the government has changed its tune about one Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian citizen originally charged in Federal District Court in New York City with "two counts of making false statements on immigration forms to facilitate an act of international terrorism." Benjamin Weiser of the Times has the latest in the trial.

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