The Russia/Ukraine crisis is getting a little touchy.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is warning of serious repercussions for Russia – on Monday.
According to a report in the Washington Examiner, Kerry traveled to London Friday for a meeting with the Russian foreign minister. But what if these talks don’t produce some progress toward a solution?
Kerry, speaking to lawmakers during a Senate appropriations subcommittee meeting Thursday, said the U.S. and Europe on Monday would unite to impose sanctions on Russia.
“There will be a response of some kind to the referendum itself,” Kerry was quoted as saying. “If there is no sign (from Russia) of any capacity to respond to this issue ... there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham asked what the administration would do if Russian forces advance farther into the eastern area of Ukraine, and the new government in Kiev asks the U.S. for weapons to fight the Russians.
Kerry told Graham, “We have contingencies – we are talking through various options that may or may not be available. Our hope is not to create hysteria or excessive concern about that at this point in time. Our hope is to avoid that, but there's no telling that we can.”
Well, at least the last part of that assessment by Secretary Kerry is true because according to the New York Times, Russia – also on
Thursday – was massing troops and military hardware near its border with the Ukraine.
The Times reported that just one day after a Russian deputy minister denied any military buildup on the border, the Defense Ministry  described as intensive training of units involving artillery batteries, assault helicopters and at least 10,000 soldiers.
Also from the Times: “With NATO announcing its own deployments of fighter jets and exercises to countries on Ukraine’s western border, the crisis appeared to be worsening despite 11th-hour diplomatic efforts to halt a secession referendum scheduled for Sunday in Crimea.”
So Crimea’s likely going to secede and go back to Russia on Sunday, Russia’s massing troops on the Ukraine border and Kerry wants it all fixed by Monday or else.
How can this possibly end well?
*****
I have been in the news business for 34 years now and this business with the Malaysian jetliner is the most bizarre story I can remember.
How in the world do you lose a Boeing 777?
For crying in a bucket, I have an ap on my phone that shows me the location of the plane when my kids fly from Tampa or Phoenix to visit.
It tells me the plane’s altitude, its speed and its time of arrival.
I find it almost unfathomable that with the technology we have today that a plan just disappears.
Everybody has a theory. Here’s mine.
Perhaps it was a situation like the one that took the life of PGA golfer Payne Stewart and five others on Oct. 25, 1999.
Stewart’s Learjet 35 suffered a catastrophic cabin depressurization, which incapacitated everyone on board.
The autopilot still function, the plane flew itself until it ran out of fuel and crashed. Aviation officials said all aboard died long before the jet crashed.
Even though the jet was equipped with a back-up pressurization system and oxygen masks for all aboard, no mayday call was made and it appeared the occupants were rapidly overcome by the depressurization.
Of course, I am no aviation expert. I don’t know if a situation like that is even possible on a plane like the 777.
Or maybe it was all planned. The pilot was in on it and the plane landed somewhere to be used later in some nefarious plot.
Or maybe it was an alien tractor beam.
Most times I think sooner or later we’ll have answers. Other times I start to wonder if we will ever really find out what happened.
*****
Earlier this week we suffered a breach in journalism ethics here at the Times-Union.
Our reporter called the Plymouth Police Department, spoke with a detective and received a press release and mug shots from an incident where some people from Warsaw were arrested.
When the reporter prepared the story for our newspaper, she cut and pasted information from a report she found online instead of reworking the press release.
That was a really dumb thing to do. The reporter was disciplined, the newspaper apologized in print to the online news site and we removed the story from our website.
We are human beings here at the Times-Union. We make mistakes. We have lapses in judgment.
But when these things happen, we do our best to make it right. When we make mistakes, we correct them.
We take care to check facts. We wait for public officials to release sensitive information before we publish it. We do our best to mask the identity of the victims of certain crimes. We try to be fair and prudent and only publish information that is relevant to the story. We don’t sensationalize.
My sense of the incident this week is that the reporter – mistakenly – thought her actions were no big deal because it was just a press release from a police department.
She was wrong. It’s always a big deal when you claim another’s work as your own, even it’s “just a press release.” Our reporter understands that now.
I chose to make this a teaching moment for our staff.
Maybe others will do the same. I have seen staff-produced Times-Union stories – not third-party press releases – appear elsewhere online without credit or attribution.
I want to assure readers that we – as we always have – will continue to strive to paint a fair and accurate picture of this community.