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THE NEW YORK TIMES — July 29, 2014

Pentagon Plan Would Help Ukraine Target Rebel Missiles

The Pentagon and American intelligence agencies are developing plans that would enable the Obama administration to provide specific locations of surface-to-air missiles controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine so the Ukrainian government could target them for destruction, American officials said. But the proposal has not yet been debated in the White House, a senior administration official said. It is unclear whether President Obama, who has already approved limited intelligence sharing with Ukraine, will agree to give more precise information about potential military targets, a step that would involve the United States more deeply in the conflict...


Petro Poroshenko: Ukraine Needs the U.S. to Respond to Russia

When 298 innocent people were shot out of the sky by a Russian missile 10 days ago, people everywhere finally began to understand what is at stake in Ukraine. Half a year ago, I was not even considering becoming president of Ukraine. But like a great many Ukrainians at the time, I was disturbed that then-president Viktor Yanukovych constrained Ukraine’s future by rejecting an association agreement with the European Union, choosing a customs union with Moscow instead. Like so many of my countrymen, I believed that for Ukraine to become a modern and successful country, it needed to expand its ties with the West and end widespread corruption and abuses of power…

THE GUARDIAN — July 29, 2014

EU Sends Advisers to Help Ukraine Bring Law and Order to Rebel Areas

The EU has parachuted a team of security advisers into Kiev to assist the Ukrainian government in imposing the rule of law in rebel districts, in a provocative move likely to further inflame relations with Moscow. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, agreed last week to requests from the Ukrainian authorities for urgent help in bolstering the country’s security services. An initial £2m is being provided by the EU to fund the unarmed advisers, but further money is expected to be committed as the conflict between the government and pro-Russian dissidents continues after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17…

THE NEW YORK TIMES — July 25, 2014

Ukraine Crisis Is Testing E. U.’s Resolve

BRUSSELS — As it pushed efforts to coalesce around tougher sanctions against Russia, the European Union on Thursday was preparing to draw up lists of oligarchs close to President Vladimir V. Putin, working out how it could limit Russian access to European financial markets and studying the risk that Russia would respond by limiting Europe’s energy supplies. But hanging over the talks was a bigger question: Can the 28-member bloc reconcile competing national interests, directly confront a conflict on its own borders and prove that it has a meaningful and united role to play in foreign policy?..


If the West Doesn’t Do More for Ukraine Now, It Might Soon Be Too Late

VLADIMIR PUTIN has responded to the international outrage over the destruction of a Malaysian airliner by his proxies in eastern Ukraine by escalating his aggression. According to U.S. officials, tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons have continued to cross from Russia to Ukraine since the passenger jet was shot down. On Wednesday, two more Ukrainian military jets were hit by anti-aircraft missiles, which Ukrainian officials said had been fired from Russia. The State Department also said Thursday that Russian artillery was firing at Ukrainian positions from across the border...

HUFFINGTON POST — July 25, 2014

Russia Fired On Ukraine, U.S. Says

(Reuters) – The United States said on Thursday that Russia was firing artillery across the border into Ukraine to target Ukrainian military positions in the conflict against pro-Russian separatists. “We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. Harf, speaking at a regular media briefing, cited intelligence reports, but said she could give no more information of what the reports were based on…

THE GUARDIAN — July 25, 2014

Australia Has Federal Police Ready to Enter Ukraine and Secure MH17 Site

Fifty Australian federal police have been deployed to London, ready to go into Ukraine if agreement is secured to send in an international team to secure the crash site for the investigation of flight MH17. Tony Abbott spoke to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, about the decision to deploy police for a multinational force to Ukraine…


The World Must Know Whose Weapon Destroyed a Passenger Plane

IN RECENT days there has been abundant evidence of Russia stepping up supplies of heavy weapons to rebels in eastern Ukraine, including advanced anti-aircraft systems. The Kiev government reported that two of its military aircraft were shot down in the past week, either by separatists, Russian planes or batteries operating from across the border. On Thursday came a greater tragedy: the destruction of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet with 295 people aboard. Ukrainian authorities charged that it had been struck by a missile fired by a Russian-made surface-to-air battery supplied to Moscow’s Ukrainian proxies...

FORBES — July 18, 2014

The Re-invasion Of Ukraine: Putin’s Sense Of Timing

Having witnessed the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia, and spent last month in Ukraine, I can say one thing about Vladimir Putin without fear of contradiction: he cares about timing. When he’s up to no good, he loves a sleight-of-hand distraction in global headlines. In 2008, the Beijing summer Olympics served as cover. More recently, the Sochi Winter Olympics ended just three days before Russia marched into Crimea. Today, it’s the Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

THE ECONOMIST — July 18, 2014

Fighting On

THE two presidents could not have offered a greater contrast. Announcing new sanctions against Russia on July 16th, America’s Barack Obama read a prepared statement and took no questions. Minutes later, Russia’s Vladimir Putin staged an off-the-cuff press conference in Brazil to assail the sanctions’ legitimacy. He let emotion take hold, reaching a crescendo during a riff about the “tears of mothers, widows and orphans” in Ukraine. The new sanctions come at a crucial juncture in Ukraine’s war. The death toll, both civilian and military, is rising as the fighting creeps into Donetsk and Luhansk, eastern Ukraine’s two biggest cities. Russia has not stopped its support for rebel forces, and has even ramped up equipment transfers following the fall of rebel-held Sloviansk two weeks ago…

BLOOMBERG — July 18, 2014

Jet Attack Puts Putin in Corner; ‘This Isn’t His Plan A’

President Vladimir Putin’s intransigence over Ukraine risks turning him into a global pariah should the blame for downing a Malaysian Air jet fall on pro-Russia rebels. The crash of the Boeing Co. (BA) 777, which had 298 people on board, followed by less than 24 hours the imposition of new sanctions against Russia that targeted major energy companies and banks. While the rebels denied accusations by the Ukrainian government that they shot down the flight, U.S. military and intelligence officials said the evidence so far indicates a Russian-made missile hit the plane…

THE NEW YORK TIMES — July 18, 2014

World Leaders Match Anger With Calls for Inquiry Into Ukraine Plane Crash

Dismayed and angered by the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, European leaders cast about for some form of joint response to the tragedy on Friday but, beyond calls for an international inquiry they showed few signs of immediately following the United States in imposing harsher sanctions on Russia. With sentiments ranging from shock to fury, political leaders across the globe urged a rapid, independent and international effort to investigate the crash, which killed 298 people and provoked accusations and counter-accusations about who brought the plane down...

FOREIGN AFFAIRS — July 18, 2014

War Comes to Ukraine

Yesterday afternoon, by most accounts, pro-Russian separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over eastern Ukraine. The attackers ostensibly thought that the Boeing 777 was a Ukrainian plane about to enter Russian airspace. Soon after the attack, Igor Girkin, the self-styled commander of the Donetsk People’s Army, bragged on his website that “We just shot down an AN-26 plane near Torez; it’s scattered somewhere around the Progress mine. We warned them not to fly in ‘our sky’.” Soon after, RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, seconded Girkin’s claim...


What’s Rong with Wrussia?

Everything, according to some. Many things, according to others. Nothing, according to many Russians. Back in 2004, two US academics, Andrei Shleifer and Daniel Treisman, wrote a controversial piece for Foreign Affairs in which they argued that statistics proved that Russia was a “normal country.” Since they focused on mostly economic parameters, such as GDP, income distribution, and the like, they had a point...


Ukraine Says Plane Downed by Missile Probably Fired from Russia

Ukraine said a powerful rocket probably fired from Russian territory downed a Ukrainian military cargo plane close to the border in a region where fighting with pro-Russia rebels has intensified. The allegation came a day after Moscow accused Ukrainian forces of hitting a Russian house on its side of the border with artillery fire, killing a Russian civilian. Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned of “irreversible consequences” for the Ukrainian government in Kiev, which has denied involvement. The exchange of accusations illustrates heightened tension between Moscow and Kiev as the conflict in Ukraine’s east grows increasingly bloody. After a lull, fighting has intensified in recent days between separatists and Ukrainian forces, who have been facing off since the spring…

VOICE OF AMERICA — July 15, 2014

Rebels Claim Shoot Down of Ukrainian Transport, 4 Crew Captured

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian military transport plane, and say four crew members have been taken prisoner. Russia’s Interfax news agency on Monday quoted separatists in the rebel-held city of Luhansk as saying the captives are in the border city of Krasnodon and undergoing interrogation. Details of the shootdown were not clear late Monday. Interfax quoted the Ukrainian Defense Ministry as saying eight people were aboard the aircraft, which was carrying food and drinking water to personnel at checkpoints in the war-scarred east...


Bondarenko and Spotakova Named Athletes of the Month for June

European Athletics is pleased to announce that the Ukraine’s Bohdan Bondarenko and Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic have been voted by the fans and media as European Athletes of the Month for June. Bondarenko, the reigning world high jump champion and 2013 European Athlete of the Year, equalled the European record held by Sweden’s Patrick Sjöberg and Russia’s Ivan Ukhov, by going over 2.42m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York on 14 June. This represents a great first step for the Ukrainian in his quest to break Cuban Javier Sotomayor’s world record of 2.45m and claim gold at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich this summer…


Contradictions Define Kremlin Apologists

According to the conventional wisdom, Vladimir Putin and his Western supporters propagate a uniform message throughout the world. At its most extreme, this view sees Russia as having a formidable propaganda machine that is running roughshod over the Western media and public. In fact, Putin and his supporters and apologists often disagree. One reason may be that the machine just isn’t as formidable as it’s made out to be. Another may be that the Kremlin’s supporters make mistakes when interpreting or anticipating the frequently contradictory or incomprehensible statements of the Delphic oracle that is Putin. A third may be that they have difficulties bridging the growing gap between reality and Putin’s oftentimes shifting views. The Putinite interpretation–one that I won’t even bother refuting–is that disagreement is the foundation of vigorous democracies such as Putin’s Russia…

TIME — July 8, 2014

In Ukraine, A Battle of Words and Images

As the conflict in Ukraine continues, another battle rages far from the front lines–a battle between Russian news sites and a group of Kiev-based journalists who say the sites are misusing, even fabricating, news photographs filed from Ukraine. In an effort to put a stop to what they see as fraud, the journalists–who are alumni and students at Kiev’s Mohyla School of Journalism – have launched, a “fact-checking project, which aims to help people separate the truth from the lie in the media,” as the group’s co-founder and editor-in-chief Oleg Shankovskyi tells TIME…


Ukraine Advances, Putin Stays Silent

As Ukraine laid plans for a siege of pro-Russia separatists’ remaining bastions Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin faced a critical decision on whether to answer rebel pleas for military help–a move that could determine what he gains or loses following a monthslong conflict that has roiled global powers. Russia has encouraged and supported the separatists during their insurgency, but has been unusually quiet since the Ukrainian military forced them to retreat from their stronghold in Slovyansk on Saturday...

SWIMSWAM — July 8, 2014

French Open Day 2

The Stade Aquatique Vichy Val d’Allier was packed for the second and final day of the action-packed French Open. The weather was better than it had been on Friday and the home team shone brightly. Four French athletes stood on the top rung of the podium today, and many more medaled in second and third place… Daryna Zevina of Ukraine led wire-to-wire in the women’s 100 back. She swam a very solid race with no one really challenging. Zevina finished in 1:00.94 ahead of Germany’s Lisa Graf(1:01.77) and Iceland’s Eyglo Osk Gustafsdottir (1:02.15)…

THE ECONOMIST — July 5, 2014

War by Any Other Name

A “NON-LINEAR” war, explains Natan Dubovitsky, a writer, is how states are likely to fight each other in future—if they do not already. Individual regions or cities will form temporary coalitions, only to split apart in mid-fighting and find new allies. Each force has its own aims, and these too can be fluid. The war has many components, of which battle is only one element. “Most understood the war to be part of a process,” writes Mr Dubovitsky, and “not necessarily its most important part...”

REUTERS — July 4, 2014

Ukraine Parliament Gives Preliminary Nod to Emergency Energy Plans

Ukraine’s parliament gave preliminary approval on Friday to a draft law that would allow the Kiev government to exert tighter control over the energy sector in the face of dwindling natural gas supplies after Russia cut off exports last month. The parliament also approved, in a first reading, a bill that would allow consortiums with European or U.S. companies to operate Ukraine’s ageing gas distribution system and storage facilities...

AL JAZEERA — July 4, 2014

Ukraine Appoints New Defence Officials

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko won his parliament’s approval to shake up the leadership of the armed forces as they struggle to end a rebellion by pro-Russian separatists. Parliament endorsed Colonel-General Valery Heletey as defence minister after hearing Poroshenko describe the 46-year-old as a man “who will work day and night for restoring the military capability of our armed forces”. He also named a new chief of the general staff…

CNN — June 27, 2014

Ukrainian President: Peace Depends on Putin’s Mood

Brussels, Belgium (CNN) – New Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says peace is possible if Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the right mood. “Sometimes, the position of Mr. Putin is quite pragmatic, sometimes it is very emotional,” Poroshenko told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday in an exclusive interview, his first since taking over as Ukraine’s leader on June 7. “I just try to find out the time when he is more pragmatic than emotional.” He said negotiations with Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine would continue on Friday, the day his unilaterally declared cease-fire expires and the day that he also will sign a cooperation agreement with the European Union that sparked the crisis in his country...

RFE/RL — June 27, 2014

Ukraine, Moldova, And Georgia Sign EU Accords

Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova have signed key economic and political accords with the European Union in Brussels. Ukraine signed an agreement on closer economic ties with the EU, as did Moldova and Georgia, which also signed documents on closer political ties. The moves represent a big step toward the West and away from Russia for the three countries. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that “future generations will remember this day.” He said the European Union now stands by the three countries “more than ever before…”

THE NEW YORK TIMES — June 27, 2014

Ukraine Signs Trade Agreement With European Union

BRUSSELS – Seven months after Ukraine’s former president Viktor F. Yanukovych rejected a sweeping trade deal with the European Union and set off protests that drove him from power, Ukraine’s new leader on Friday concluded the pact, which Russia has bitterly opposed as a threat to its own economic and strategic interests in the former Soviet Union. The news agency Interfax in Moscow quoted Russia’s deputy foreign minister as warning that “serious consequences” would follow the signing of a deal that Moscow has long worked to derail...

DEUTSCHE WELLE — June 27, 2014

Ukraine Takes One Step Closer to EU

Six months ago, President Viktor Yanukovych scuppered Ukraine’s association agreement with the European Union. His successor is about to sign it, taking Kyiv further away from Russia’s influence. And so the circle closes. Nearly seven months ago, on November 28, 2013, then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had the chance to write history. The European Union was ready to sign the association agreement at the summit for the European Partnership initiative in Vilnius...


Ukrainian Lawyers Become Eligible to be Admitted as Solicitors of England and Wales

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulatory body for solicitors in England and Wales, today announced that it has recognised Ukraine as meeting the requirements to be a recognised jurisdiction of the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme, whereby allowing Ukrainian qualified advocates to be admitted as solicitors of England and Wales upon passing the QLTS exam. The SRA confirmed that the decision was taken this morning in an email sent to the Ukrainian Institute in London..

H+ MAGAZINE — June 12, 2014

What Does Chatbot Eugene Goostman’s Success on the Turing Test Mean?

I see lots of press today stating that the chatbot Eugene Goostman has "beaten the Turing test" -- the classic test of machine intelligence proposed by AI pioneer Alan Turing, which says (loosely) that if an AI program can fool people into thinking it’s human, in a textual conversation context, then it should be assumed to have human-level general intelligence. Is this true?

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