European Union leaders at Saturdays Brussels summit were set to ask the European Commission and the EUs diplomatic service “to urgently undertake preparatory work” on further sanctions against Russia, according to a draft statement, after Ukraine accused Russia of sending soldiers across the border.French President Francois Hollande stressed that a failure by Russia to reverse a flow of weapons and troops into eastern Ukraine would force the bloc to impose new economic measures.”Are we going to let the situation worsen, until it leads to war?” Hollande said at a news conference. “Because thats the risk today. There is no time to waste.”European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU was prepared to toughen sanctions against Russia but also that it wanted a political deal to end the confrontation.”We are ready to take very strong and clear measures but we are keeping our doors open to a political solution,” Barroso said at a news conference with Ukraines president.Ukraine called on Friday for full membership in NATO, its strongest plea yet for Western military help, after accusing Russia of sending in armored columns that have driven back its forces on behalf of pro-Moscow rebels. Russia has dismissed allegations of an incursion into Ukrainian territory, and said that hundreds of Ukraines soldiers had crossed into its territory in recent months.
The Kentucky Herald-Leader is reporting that Jesse Benton, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager has said he will resign over a bribery scandal that he fears could become too big of a distraction to the Kentucky Republican’s reelection bid.Benton acted as political director for former Rep. Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign and has since been accused of being personally involved in bribing former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson to move from Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign to his. Sorenson plead guilty to accepting at least $73,000 in concealed funds from the Paul campaign in 2012.
WASHINGTON — Three top Republican Senate candidates heaped praise on the political network built by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch during a secretive conference held by the brothers this past summer, according to audio of the event.Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst and Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton directly credited donors present at the June 16 retreat in Dana Point, California, for propelling them forward. Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner told attendees that his race would likely be decided by the presence of “third party” money — an obvious pitch for generosity from the well-heeled crowd.The presence of Gardner and Cotton was previously reported by The Nation magazine, though it is unclear if Cotton ever confirmed his appearance. Ernsts attendance had not previously been reported.For all three, the association with the Koch brothers network is likely to provide kindling for their opponents, who have already argued that the Republicans are steered by deep-pocketed conservatives.
os Angeles — NEW Years weekend traditionally is a time for us to reflect, and to make resolutions based on our reflections. In this fresh year, with the United States seemingly at the height of its power and at the start of a new presidential term, Americans are increasingly concerned and divided about where we are going. How long can America remain ascendant? Where will we stand 10 years from now, or even next year?Such questions seem especially appropriate this year. History warns us that when once-powerful societies collapse, they tend to do so quickly and unexpectedly. That shouldnt come as much of a surprise: peak power usually means peak population, peak needs, and hence peak vulnerability. What can be learned from history that could help us avoid joining the ranks of those who declined swiftly? We must expect the answers to be complex, because historical reality is complex: while some societies did indeed collapse spectacularly, others have managed to thrive for thousands of years without major reversal.When it comes to historical collapses, five groups of interacting factors have been especially important: the damage that people have inflicted on their environment; climate change; enemies; changes in friendly trading partners; and the societys political, economic and social responses to these shifts. Thats not to say that all five causes play a role in every case. Instead, think of this as a useful checklist of factors that should be examined, but whose relative importance varies from case to case.For instance, in the collapse of the Polynesian society on Easter Island three centuries ago, environmental problems were dominant, and climate change, enemies and trade were insignificant; however, the latter three factors played big roles in the disappearance of the medieval Norse colonies on Greenland. Lets consider two examples of declines stemming from different mixes of causes: the falls of classic Maya ci
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is betting that his conservative credentials and his years as a purple-state governor can put him in the top tier of Republican presidential contenders. But could his struggles to win re-election in Wisconsin weaken him for 2016?A Marquette University poll released Wednesday showed Walker with just a 3.4% lead among registered voters over his Democratic challenger Mary Burke, a political neophyte. That’s well within the margin of error, and essentially unchanged from three months ago. Among likely voters, Walker actually trails by 2 points.Respondents were contacted last Thursday through Sunday — a bumpy few days for the governor. On Friday, newly released documents showed Walker’s campaign pushing donors to give money to a conservative group with close ties to his recall efforts. Two days later, news broke that Walker’s campaign received a $20,000 donation from the owners of a company a Walker-led board approved to receive millions of dollars in tax credits.
Hawaiian Electric Companies HECO on Tuesday announced their intention to triple the amount of rooftop solar in the state, just one part of a plan that the companies say will make Hawaii the highest renewable energy-using state in the country.Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light — known together as HECO — proposed a package of initiatives that they said would help Hawaii generate 65 percent of its electricity from renewable energy and slash electric bills by 20 percent, all within the next 16 years. While admittedly vague on how the initiatives will be implemented and how they will impact prices, the package includes efforts to increase energy storage, develop smart grids, and support community solar projects.“Our energy environment is changing rapidly and we must change with it to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” Shelee Kimura, HECO’s vice president of corporate planning and business development said in a statement. “These plans are about delivering services that our customers value. That means lower costs, better protection of our environment, and more options to lower their energy costs, including rooftop solar.”While the plan’s intentions may seem noble on their face, the package was actually released in response to an order from Hawaii’s energy regulator in April. That order required HECO to devise a plan for accommodating more renewables, including rooftop solar power, while reducing electricity costs. Those orders stemmed from Hawaiians’ growing frustrations with HECO, the state’s largest investor-owned utility, which had allegedly been making it very difficult for citizens to install their own solar panels.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-KY explained his plan to use a government shutdown as a bargaining chip against President Barack Obama to a room full of wealthy conservatives two months ago, according to audio obtained by The Nation magazine.”So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing whats called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. Were going to go after them on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board. … All across the federal government, were going to go after it,” McConnell said at a private summit hosted by the Koch Brothers.