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Biden speaking at NN
Philip Rucker:
Vice President Biden delivered a full-throated call to action for progressive activists here Thursday, burnishing his credentials with an important segment of the Democratic base that could pay dividends if he runs for president in 2016.

Even before taking the stage at Netroots Nation, an annual gathering of several thousand liberal activists, Biden was celebrated as a moral hero to the movement.

World AIDS Conf in Melbourne hit hard by #MH-17 loss. Top researchers on board. Statement soon. @7NewsMelbourne 6pm
The Age:
About 100 of the 298 people killed at the Malaysia Airlines crash were heading to Melbourne for a major AIDS conference, conference attendees have been told.
Dylan Matthews/Vox:
US intelligence reports that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, making it one of highest-casualty airliner shoot-downs in the history of aviation. But it's hardly the first. Events like this — though usually much smaller in scale — have occurred about two dozen times. Many instances were part of ongoing wars, such as Nazi Germany's shoot-down of a British Overseas Airways Corporation flight from Lisbon to London in 1943, or Zimbabwean rebels' shoot-downs of two Air Rhodesia flights in 1978 and 1979.

But in those cases, the countries involved were at war with each other. In contrast, Flight 17 was going from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and neither the Netherlands nor Malaysia have much of any involvement in the Ukrainian civil war. And the death toll — there were 295 passengers, and, to the best of our knowledge, no survivors — is extremely high.

With that in mind, here are seven previous airliner shoot-downs that could provide some clue as to what the consequences of the crash will be. The list is hardly comprehensive but gives a sense of how these situations are handled.

Sabrina Tavernise/NY Times:
Headphones and computers were scattered throughout a field of sunflowers. In another field, a Dutch passport lay open. Bodies fell from the sky, looking like rags or clumps of ash.

That was some of what residents and rescue workers saw after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came to a jolting rest in a large wheat field dotted with purple flowers and Queen Anne’s lace, trailing debris over several miles of sparsely populated Ukrainian farmland.

“It was horrible,” said a separatist rebel who was part of the rescue crew and would give only his first name, Sergei. “We were in shock.”

One thing to keep in mind about today. Many of those killed were EU citizens. Hard to imagine their govts aren't going to want to respond
More politics and policy below the fold.

Michael Cohen:

Vladimir Putin has been playing a dangerous game in Eastern Ukraine. On Thursday, it backfired badly.

Ever since seizing Crimea earlier this year, the Russian president has been offering tacit – and sometimes more direct – support to pro-Russian separatist groups battling the Ukrainian government. Although Putin seems to have backed off the idea of a cross-border military invasion and has been trying, half-heartedly it appears, to disengage himself from the conflict, he’s yet to make a full break with the rebels.
After Thursday’s shoot-down of a Malaysian Airlines flight over rebel-held territory in Ukraine’s volatile east, killing 295 people, he may no longer have much choice in the matter.

The separatists were really benefiting from having int'l attention elsewhere. Now, they've turned the whole world against them.
The apparent shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines jet over eastern Ukraine with 295 people on board is a dramatic turn in the region’s simmering crisis.
Any proof that the passenger aircraft was blown out of the sky at 32,000 feet by a Russian fighter jet by mistake or by Russian missiles supplied to separatist rebels in the Donbass region may have huge political consequences, risking Cold War sanctions of such severity that Russia would be shut out of the global financial system.
Both Russia and Ukraine deny responsibility.
The nation’s largest health insurer expects to play a much bigger role in the health care overhaul next year, as the federal law shifts from raising giant questions for the sector to offering growth opportunities.

UnitedHealth Group said Thursday that it will participate in as many as 24 of the law’s individual health insurance exchanges in 2015, up from only four this year.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Chris McDaniel's request for access to poll books without voters' birthdates blacked out.

McDaniel has volunteers scouring election records statewide searching for evidence to try to overturn his June 24 loss to incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the Republican Primary.

McDaniel's attorneys say they need to see birth dates and other information to identify voters with the same or similar names. They said state law allows a candidate "a full examination of election materials." And, they said, the cost of paying for redaction of the records is prohibitive and unjust.

But the high court ruled that while a candidate should have unfettered access to ballot boxes, "we can discern no legal requirement that poll books be included in the contest of ballot boxes." Instead, the court said, poll books are public records maintained by circuit clerks and therefore subject to the Mississippi Public Records Act, which requires redaction of Social Security numbers, telephone numbers and date of birth before being made public.

Ron Fournier/National Journal:
This story is about a gilded class of people and corporations enriched by the new American economy while the rest of its citizens pay the tab. The protagonists could be any number of institutional elites, but this column happens to be about a Democratic senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, and his daughter, Heather Bresch, the chief executive of Mylan, a giant maker of generic drugs based outside Pittsburgh.

Her company's profits come largely from Medicaid and Medicare, which means her nest is feathered by U.S. taxpayers. On Monday, Bresch announced that Mylan will renounce its United States citizenship and instead become incorporated in the Netherlands – leaving this country, in part, to pay less in taxes.

This is the sort of story that makes blood boil in populists – voters from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party to libertarians who follow Rand Paul and including tea party conservatives. These disillusioned souls, growing in numbers, hate hypocrites who condemn the U.S. political system while gaming it.

Michael Calderone:
When Israel invaded Gaza in early 2009, Ayman Mohyeldin was one of the only journalists present to bear witness. He covered Israeli air strikes on Gaza in late 2012, and on Wednesday he movingly reported on an attack that killed four Palestinian children playing on a beach.

But Mohyeldin, one of the most experienced reporters when it comes to Gaza, was not there Thursday as Israel launched a ground invasion aimed at rooting out Hamas. He didn’t report on the conflict from another city in the region, such as Jerusalem or Cairo. And Moyheldin didn't surface on social media, where he's built a large following and regularly provides on-the-ground tweets, photos and videos.

NBC News' decision to pull Mohyeldin from Gaza has angered and baffled fellow journalists, inside and outside the network, as well as fans of his reporting worldwide. The network declined to comment on why he is no longer reporting from Gaza.

He's Egyptian, fluent in Arabic, has great contacts, a big following, and he's a great reporter. Big mystery here.
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