August 20th, 2014
04:52 AM ET

Ferguson: Protests Calm Until Bottles Flew

Not again.

There were high hopes that the nightly protests in Ferguson would end peacefully for a change Tuesday. That promise held out for most of the evening - until a water bottle flew at police.

By that time, most protesters had cleared out. Journalists outnumbered those who remained.

Officers put on helmets and shields, lined up on in front of some businesses and demanded a small crowd there clear out.

But when the bottle flew, officers broke into a sprint, chasing after young men.

This prompted a handful of agitated protesters to toss more bottles, glass and plastic.


August 19th, 2014
07:44 AM ET

'This Has to Stop': 31 Arrested After Fresh Confrontation in Ferguson

At least 31 people were arrested in Ferguson after peaceful protests devolved into another night of chaos. And many of those arrested came from as far away as New York and California, said Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson early Tuesday.

Johnson didn't provide additional details, but his remark confirmed what many in Ferguson have been saying all along: the protesters who have turned the nightly demonstrations into tense confrontations with heavily armed police officers aren't local residents.

"I'm telling you, we're going to make this neighborhood whole," Johnson said. "And I am not going to let criminals that have come out here from across this country or live in this community define this neighborhood and define what we're going to do to make it right."

He has a Herculean task ahead of him.

Chosen by the Gov. Jay Nixon to head up security operation - after Ferguson police was roundly criticized for its heavy-handed approach - Johnson was welcomed last week.

But those sentiments have soured as security forces under his command lob tear gas and stun grenades at rowdy protesters who toss rocks and Molotov cocktails at them.

CNN's Jake Tapper echoed the frustrations of many in the crowd after the latest encounter Monday night.

"Absolutely there have been looters, absolutely over the last nine days there has been violence, but there is nothing going on in this street right now that merits this scene out of Bagram. Nothing.

"So if people wonder why the people of Ferguson, Missouri, are so upset, this is part of the reason. What is this? This doesn't make any sense."

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Here Are Five Things to Get You Ready for the World Cup Kickoff
June 12th, 2014
04:28 AM ET

Here Are Five Things to Get You Ready for the World Cup Kickoff

The World Cup is upon us, and for the next month, there will be a significant uptick in the number of folks skipping work, watching games in the break room and wildly mispronouncing Eastern European surnames.

Want to get in on the fun surrounding this quadrennial event that stokes the intensest of passions while doing considerable damage to some countries' gross domestic products for the month?

Here are some fun facts to get you started:

Let the games begin

The host country, Brazil, will kick off the action against Croatia on at 4 p.m. ET Thursday in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian squad is a heavy favorite, but Croatia is no slouch, boasting several stars who play in Europe's top leagues. Keep an eye on one of them just before kickoff: forward Eduardo da Silva. Born in the slums outside Rio de Janeiro, he now plays for the Croatian national team, and his mother reportedly says he intends to sing both countries' national anthems.

64 games, like March Madness, but not

There is only one game on the first day of the Cup, but between Thursday and June 26, all 32 teams who qualified will play three games each in what is known as the group stage.

Garnering three points for every win and a point for every tie, the teams will be whittled down to the best 16 - two from each of the eight groups. They will then face off in a do-or-die knockout round beginning June 28. Your March Madness bracket? Yeah, it will look like that, but with a quarter of the teams. The final is July 13.

Only world war can stop it

The World Cup has been held every four years since 1930 with the exception of 1942 and 1946, when it was canceled because of World War II. This will be the 20th World Cup.

It's the eighth time it's been held in South or North America and the second time in Brazil, the first one being 64 years ago. Only South American teams have won World Cups held in the New World, and the last South American World Cup was won by Argentina on home soil in 1978.

Speaking of winners

There isn't much parity to the World Cup. In fact, only eight teams have won it. England, France and defending champion Spain have won it once each. Argentina and Uruguay have won it twice. West Germany has held the trophy aloft three times, Italy has claimed victory four times and Brazil has won it five times. Hmm. Why on Earth do the Brazilians need home-field advantage again?

It's not all fun and games

Allegations of corruption within world soccer's governing body, FIFA, and class warfare within the host nation are casting a pall over the Cup, though don't expect it to dampen fans' fervor once the teams take the pitch.

Specifically, a key sponsor, Sony, is demanding an investigation into the controversial award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and in Brazil, protesters are asking why an emerging nation is spending billions on hosting a football tournament rather than using it to alleviate poverty.

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March 3rd, 2014
10:59 AM ET

20 Questions: What is Russia's Interest in Ukraine?

Russia approved the use of military force in Ukraine on Saturday, despite warnings of consequences from the West, and Ukraine responded by saying any invasion into its territory would be illegitimate.

The acting prime minister has gone so far as to say that a Russian invasion would mean war and an end to his country's relationship with Russia.

But there are so many questions as to how Ukraine arrived at this point: Why is Russia so interested in happenings there? Why does the West want to prevent Russian intervention? How did we get here? Why have thousands of protesters staked their lives, seemingly, on their desire for political change? And why has the government resisted their calls so vehemently?

Let's take a look:

1. Why has Russia gotten so involved?

Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea have closer ties to Russia, while Western Ukraine is more friendly with Europe. Many Eastern Ukrainians still speak Russian, and the 2010 presidential elections divided the country with Eastern Ukraine voting heavily in favor of pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. On Saturday, the Kremlin issued a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Barack Obama that Russia approved military action in Ukraine because it "reserves the right to defend its interests and the Russian-speaking people who live there."

2. Hasn't Yanukovych stepped down?

The Ukraine Parliament voted him out of power and he has fled to Russia. However, in a press conference Friday, the former President said - in Russian rather than Ukrainian - that he was not overthrown. He insisted he was still the boss and that he wants nothing more than to lead his country to peace, harmony and prosperity. While it's unclear if he could return to power, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations blamed members of the European Union for the bloody demonstrations that led to Yanukovych's ouster.

3. What will happen in Ukraine if Russia sends troops there?

Top Ukrainian officials, including the acting President and prime minister, have said they are prepared to defend the country. They've also said that any invasion would be illegitimate, a response echoed by the United States, which has told Russia to respect Ukraine's sovereignty.

4. Would there be international backlash to a Russian incursion?

The United Nations has warned Russia against military action, while Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Putin "dialogue must be the only tool in ending the crisis." International leaders have also denounced the prospect of Russian involvement, while Obama has warned there would be consequences if Russia acted militarily.

5. What sort of consequences?

Obama hasn't been specific other than to say Russia could face "greater political and economic isolation" and that the United States "will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8" in Sochi. Several Republican leaders in Congress have called on the President to take a tougher stand.

6. What are Obama's options?

Sanctions, of course, top the list of options, but the United States will need to prepare for the backlash. Former presidential adviser David Gergen says Putin would consider any sanctions "small potatoes" compared to keeping control of Crimea, while Putin could pull his support for Obama's initiative to reduce nuclear threats in the world, including in Iran. Christopher Hill, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Macedonia, Iraq and Poland, says imposing sanctions also raises the risk of alienating a superpower. "That means 20 years of trying to work with Russia down the drain," he said.

7. What started the turmoil in Ukraine?

Protests initially erupted over a trade pact. For a year, Yanukovych insisted he was intent on signing a historical political and trade agreement with the European Union. But on November 21, he decided to suspend talks with the EU.

8. What would the pact have done?

The deal, the EU's "Eastern Partnership," would have created closer political ties and generated economic growth. It would have opened borders to trade and set the stage for modernization and inclusion, supporters of the pact said.

9. Why did Yanukovych backpedal?

He had his reasons. Chief among them was Russia's opposition to it. Russia threatened its much smaller neighbor with trade sanctions and steep gas bills if Ukraine forged ahead. If Ukraine didn't, and instead joined a Moscow-led Customs Union, it would get deep discounts on natural gas, Russia said.

10. Were there any other reasons?

Yes, a more personal one. Yanukovych also was facing a key EU demand that he was unwilling to meet: Free former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, his bitter political opponent. Two years ago, she was found guilty of abuse of office in a Russian gas deal and sentenced to seven years in prison, in a case widely seen as politically motivated. Her supporters say she needs to travel abroad for medical treatment.

11. What happened next?

Many Ukrainians were outraged. They took to the streets, demanding that Yanukovych sign the EU deal. Their numbers swelled. The demonstrations drew parallels to Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution, which booted Yanukovych, then a prime minister, from office.

12. Who's heading the opposition?

It's not just one figure, but a coalition. The best known figure is Vitali Klitschko. He's a former world champion boxer (just like his brother Wladimir). Klitschko heads the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reforms party. But the opposition bloc goes well beyond Klitschko and the UDAR. There's also Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

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