Thursday, August 11, 2016

FBI Said to Have High Confidence Russia Behind Democratic Hacks - Bloomberg Thursday August 11th, 2016 at 2:52 PM


FBI Said to Have High Confidence Russia Behind Democratic Hacks - Bloomberg

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FBI Said to Have High Confidence Russia Behind Democratic Hacks
The FBI has high confidence the Russian government hacked U.S. Democratic Party groups, according to a person familiar with the findings who asked not be identified in order to speak about an ongoing investigation. The federal investigation into the ...

U.S. would welcome Turkish-Russian military cooperation against Islamic State

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States would welcome Turkish-Russian military cooperation in Syria if it were truly designed to target Islamic State, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said in a press briefing on Thursday.

Russia's Putin Discusses Additional Security Measures for Crimea

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Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed stepped-up security measures in Crimea, one day after he blamed Ukraine for the death of two Russian service members on the Black Sea peninsula.

Russia’s Putin meets top brass to discuss security in Crimea

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a meeting of the country’s top brass to discuss boosting security in Crimea following the reports of foiled terrorist attacks.

The U.S. will rearm Saudi Arabia to the tune of $1.5 billion as airstrikes resume in Yemen 

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Despite possible war crimes, calls for the U.S. to suspend arms transfers to the Saudis have gone unheeded.

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Report: US-based Turkish navy officer ‘missing’ after coup

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Turkey’s state-run news agency says a Turkish naval officer working in the United States has gone missing and has failed to report back home following a failed coup by renegade officers within the Turkish military.
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Turkey’s foreign minister says 2 Greece-based Turkish military attaches have fled following failed coup 

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Turkey’s foreign minister says 2 Greece-based Turkish military attaches have fled following failed coup.

The Latest: 2 Turkish military attaches flee, minister says

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The Latest on political and military developments in Turkey (all times local):

UK investigating reported near-miss between drone and plane

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British police say they are investigating a reported near-collision between a drone and a passenger plane near England’s Newquay Airport.

Minister: Turkey asks Russia to carry out joint operations against “common enemy” Islamic State in Syria

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Minister: Turkey asks Russia to carry out joint operations against “common enemy” Islamic State in Syria.

Saudi tries 14 over Mecca crane collapse that killed 111

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The trial of 14 people in Saudi Arabia has begun in connection with a crane collapse in Mecca that killed 111 pilgrims and injured hundreds more days before the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage last year.

The Latest: NATO concerned by Russia, Ukraine tensions

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The Latest on the Crimean border dispute between Ukraine and Russia (all times local):

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When Trump calls Obama the 'founder of ISIS,' he sounds like a Middle East conspiracy theorist 

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Trump's statements evoke wild theories from the region.

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DNA law leads to retrial for 3 in 1988 Puerto Rico killing

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The witness said he was sure: He’d driven three men to the beach and watched them sexually attack and kill a 21-year-old pharmacy student.

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Why Washington Is Worried About a Shifting Rebel Alliance in Aleppo 

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The city at the heart of Syria’s civil war has seen a dramatic reversal in fortunes in recent days, as rebel fighters in Aleppo made a daring advance against forces loyal to the regime of PresidentBashar Assad. Opposition fighters reported that they had punched through pro-regime lines on Aug. 6, piercing a weeks-long siege on the eastern half of the city held by the opposition, even as they were able to surround the regime-held western side of the city.
The breakthrough has raised morale among the rebels and their civilian supporters but is unlikely to be a turning point in this five-year civil war, and may even deepen the humanitarian crisis in an already devastated city. The corridor created by the advance is narrow and no sustained supply route has been established. The shift on the battlefield now threatens to place both east and west Aleppo under de facto siege, by separate sides in the conflict. The U.N. humanitarian chiefs for Syria, Yacoub El Hillo and Kevin Kennedy, said in a statement that over two million Syrians now live in “de facto fear of besiegement.” Aleppo, they said, is “a city now united in its suffering.”
The opposition advance in Aleppo represents a rebuke to the Assad regime and its allies, who consider the city the backbone of the armed insurrection that sprang out of a popular uprising in 2011. Assad’s forces are backed by troops from Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hizballah and have been bolstered since September 2015 by the might of Russian air power. Only weeks earlier, the opposition faced total encirclement of eastern Aleppo. Similar sieges imposed by the regime elsewhere in Syria have resulted in starvation and mass death.
The turnaround in fortunes has come just as the balance of power within the groups arrayed against the regime has swung towards Islamist hardliners, complicating matters for Western powers that seek Assad’s removal. The coalition of opposition groups that came together to fight the siege of eastern Aleppo in July included the jihadist fighters of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a newly renamed group that declared a split from al-Qaeda in July. Formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, they now fight in coordination with more mainstream Islamist groups and battalions from the Free Syrian Army, a rebel umbrella group that contains forces supported by Western governments.
The role of the hardliners in the current opposition offensive unsettles some moderate Syrian opposition activists. Popular support has waned for moderate Syrian rebels, who say the U.S. and other Western supporters have failed to offer them enough support to turn the tide of the war. The jihadists however scored a significant victory this week with the estimated 300,000 people who live in the rebel sector.
The shift should unnerve Washington too, says Robert S. Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria and a senior fellow at the Middle East institute in Washington. “The United States did nothing to help break that siege, at least nothing that anyone could point to,” he told TIME. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had been trying to negotiate a ceasefire with Russia that might have broken the siege on eastern Aleppo, but the talks failed. “The end result is American credibility suffers a blow,” Ford said, “the credibility of extremists that we don’t like in Fateh al-Sham goes up, and the Americans ultimately are in control of nothing.”
The jihadists are only one component of the broader coalition that pushed through the siege on eastern Aleppo, but their role is a significant one. “Fateh al-Sham is going to be a major source of military dynamism for Syria’s rebels, and I expect it’ll have a large and growing role in setting the terms of political control in rebel-held areas.”
As ever the civilians in Aleppo are paying the greatest toll. Nearly two million people there have no access to running water, according to the U.N. children’s fund. In rebel-held areas, airstrikes continue to devastate the medical infrastructure. In Aleppo alone, there were at least 15 attacks on medical facilities or personnel in July, according to the Syrian American Medical Society, which said that as of Tuesday night,a tiny core of 35 doctors are serving the estimated 300,000 civilians in the city’s east. The rebels ensured this week that they will not go quietly into the night, but observers also fear a ferocious reaction from the pro-regime side. For the long-suffering people of Aleppo, there is no end in sight.
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Fires Ravage Southern France and Portugal Leaving Four Dead

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(MARSEILLES, France) — Fires whipped by high winds ravaged swaths of southern France and Portugal on Wednesday, killing at least four people, burning scores of homes and forcing the evacuation of thousands, including tourists.
In France, multiple fires formed a column marching toward the Mediterranean port city of Marseille. Hundreds of miles away, a fire swept overnight into Funchal, the capital of Portugal’s Madeira Islands, killing three elderly people and leaving more than 300 with minor burns and smoke inhalation. A forest watchman was killed on the mainland during the night when one of more than 100 blazes engulfed the caravan he was sleeping in 150 kilometers (95 miles) north of Lisbon.
Two people were reported injured, one seriously, as the fire in southern France moved toward Marseille, firefighters said, and 20 to 25 homes were burned. At least 2,700 hectares (6,670 acres) of land were devastated. Four firefighters were injured, three seriously, battling a separate blaze in the nearby Herault region — brought under control like a fire in an industrial area outside Marseille that stocks oil and petrochemicals.
The Marseille airport rerouted incoming flights to make way for firefighting aircraft, while officials in Marseille, France’s second largest city, were bracing for flames that risked lapping at its doors.
Thick layers of ochre-colored smoke dimmed the afternoon skies of sun-drenched Marseille, while black plumes rose above Vitrolles and Pennes-Mirabeau.
Firefighters in both countries battled multiple blazes fanned by high winds and fed by brush in a hot, dry summer, considered fire season in both countries. A full 186 wildfires were counted Wednesday on Portugal’s mainland.
But the blazes were exceptionally powerful in both countries, roaring through Madeira and southern France at the height of the tourist season — a mainstay of the economy of Madeira islands, off northwest Africa.
Portugal’s National Civil Protection Service reported 14 major wildfires burning out of control in mainland Portugal where almost 4,500 firefighters were in action in a massive operation, supported by 28 water-dumping aircraft and 1,300 vehicles. Desperate, the government requested help from other European Union countries.
The Madeira fire forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 residents and tourists in the islands. Residents described chaotic nighttime scenes, with people fleeing the flames by car at high speed on the wrong side of the road.
Miguel Albuquerque, head of Madeira’s regional government, told reporters the three local victims died in their burned homes early Wednesday as the wildfire hit the coastal city in the dark. He said two other people were seriously hurt and one person went missing. At least 37 houses and a five-star hotel had burned down.
In southern France, more than 1,000 people were evacuated in several towns, notably Vitrolles, about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) north of Marseille where some homes were burned down, and in nearby Pennes-Mirabeau.
“The fire is progressing. It’s progressing fast,” Deputy Marseille Mayor Julien Ruas said on BFM-TV. He said firewalls had been set up on the corridor leading toward the city, but if the fire passed those “it will move toward the northern neighborhoods of Marseille.”
“The fire is extremely powerful, fast, explosive, and continues burning everything in its path,” firefighters said in a statement from a temporary headquarters set up in Vitrolles.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, visiting firemen in several locations, said 1,800 firefighters were mobilized to fight the blazes. Some 400 police officers were helping towns secure homes and firefighting aircraft, from Canadairs to Trackers, were mobilized.
The origins of the French fires, which started in Rognac, north of Vitrolles, were unknown.
The Madeira blaze broke out Monday and firefighters said the island’s steep hills and dense woodland made it hard to reach the flames. Albuquerque, the regional government chief, said officials suspect that fire was started deliberately and police have made two arrests.
Hatton reported from Lisbon, Portugal; Ganley reported from Paris.
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LGBT Rights in Indonesia Are Coming Under ‘Unprecedented Attack’ 

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Agustine and her activist colleagues at Indonesia’s Ardhanari Foundation, which campaigns for LGBT rights, have become very cautious recently. They used to go in and out their office in Jakarta without attracting much attention from their neighbors. “But now people are paying attention,” Agustine tells TIME. “Sometimes asking why some of our staff members [look like] tomboys.”
But it isn’t just the stares and pointed questions that are making LGBT activists, sexual and gender minorities nervous in Indonesia. For months, there has been a swelling tide of anti-LGBT sentiment in the country, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population and prides itself for its tolerant brand of Islam.
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch published a 56-page report‘These Political Games Ruin Our Lives’: Indonesia’s LGBT Community Under Threat, documenting the alarming rise in anti-LGBT rhetoric in the country.
“The rights of Indonesian sexual and gender minorities have come under unprecedented attack in 2016,” the report says. “Across the country prior to January 2016, many Indonesian sexual and gender minorities lived with a mix of tolerance and prejudice … But in early 2016, [a] combination of government officials, militant Islamists, and mass religious groups stoking anti-LGBT intolerance led to immediate deterioration of the human rights of LGBT individuals. What began as public condemnation quickly grew into calls for criminalization and ‘cures,’ laying bare the depth and breadth of officials’ individual prejudices.”
It all started on Jan. 24, when Republika, a conservative-Islamic-leaning newspaper, splashed a headline “LGBT a Serious Threat” on its front page. On the same day, Higher Education Minister Muhammad Natsir ‪denounced a little-known group that gives counseling and information about gender and sexuality to students at the University of Indonesia for not being “in accordance with the values and morals of Indonesia.”
In the following weeks, other politicians and government officials followed the suit, making homophobic statements and opening a floodgate of hostility towards the LGBT community: fromobjections over gay emojis to the country’s association of psychiatrists labelling being gay, bisexual and transgender as mental disorders. Then, Defend the Nation, a paramilitary training program that claims some 1.8 million participants, declared homosexuality as one of the nation’s enemies, along with communism and illegal drugs.
A transgender Islamic boarding school in the city of Yogyakarta, which had been featured in international publications, including TIME and the New York Times, was forced to close down in February, following intimidation from hard-line Muslims.
Religious hard-liners also paid a visit to Agustine’s Ardhanari Foundation. “They told us to stop campaigning for LGBT rights — that made us afraid,” she says. “We can’t work openly now.”
In early August, the Indonesian Survey Institute and the Wahid Foundation released a poll that showed LGBT people were the most disliked by Muslims in the country, followed by communists (the nation’s longtime bogey man) and Jews. “It’s strange because usually it is the communists and the Jewish people who claim the top two spots as the most disliked groups by Muslims,” researcher Aryo Ardi Nugroho of the moderate Islamic think-tank Wahid Foundation told the Jakarta Post.
The latest attacks include parliamentary and judicial efforts to persecute sexual and gender minorities. Indonesian lawmakers are pushing an anti-LGBT draft law, saying it is necessary to protect society from what they term “LGBT propaganda.” An Islamic pro-family group called the Family Love Alliance has submitted a judicial review to the Constitutional Court, asking the justices to revise the penal code and criminalize gay sex. (Unlike its neighboring countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong — all three of them former British colonies — Indonesia has never had law that penalizes homosexual acts. The exception is Aceh, which implements Shari‘a.)
“The campaign of hate is apparently not over yet,” said Kyle Knight, LGBT-rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, in a statement to media.
Lies Marcoes, an anthropologist and Muslim feminist, says sexual minorities and homosexual acts have long existed throughout the archipelago. “The problem, I believe, is not cultural, but how LGBT has become a political commodity to discriminate,” she tells TIME, adding that “since the reform [era], the public space has become more conservative.”
In mid-December, just weeks before the onslaught of anti-LGBT attacks began, Indonesian President Joko Widodo invited a group of comedians for dinner at the presidential palace. One of the stars that evening was Dorce Gamalama, a transgender woman whose jokes never failed to make Jokowi, as the President is widely known, burst into laughter. Yet, Jokowi himself has been silent about the LGBT controversy in the country.
“At a time when LGBT Indonesians needed protection and public support, Jokowi’s government has cowered in the face of militant Islamists,” Knight said.
“The efforts to criminalize LGBT people through legal means are getting stronger,” Agustine says, “it’s based only on hatred.”
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Overseas Money Is ‘Financing Terrorism in Southeast Asia’

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Indonesia’s financial intelligence agency has warned security ministers and officials that a large portion of the money used by terrorist groups in Indonesia originates from overseas.
The JakartaPost reports that officials from the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) told an international counterterrorism meeting in Bali earlier this week that over $763,000 was transferred from foreign countries to fund terrorism in Indonesia between 2014 and 2015.
“They had many ways of sending the funds, for example, through our migrant workers in Malaysia, Singapore and Middle Eastern countries,” said PPATK deputy chairman Agus Santoso on Tuesday, according to the Post. “The money can be directed to Indonesia through various countries such as Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and many more.”
Bloomberg meanwhile reports that a regional risk assessment jointly prepared by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in the region also concluded that groups like ISIS are increasingly channeling funds into Southeast Asia to finance terrorism.
“Given only small sums are required to stage a deadly attack, even modest amounts of funding from foreign terrorist groups pose a significant risk to the region’s security,” the assessment said, according to Bloomberg. “The cross-border movement of cash is the highest-risk method of moving terrorism funds across the region.”
Security ministers from more than 20 countries, including Indonesia, Australia, the U.S., the U.K., India and China attended the counterrorism meeting in Bali this week.
There are widespread fears that militant groups such as ISIS are expanding in Southeast Asia,particularly in Indonesia and the southern Philippines. The group has even launched a publication to recruit Southeast Asian fighters.
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Three Die in Suspected Chlorine Gas Attack in Syria

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A woman and two young children were killed in a suspected chemical attack on a residential neighborhood in rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Wednesday night, Syria, health officials say.
The Aleppo health directorate confirmed the attack on the al-Zibdieh neighborhood of Aleppo, although laboratory tests have not verified the type of chemical agent used. Medics said the apparent chemical agent had been delivered by a makeshift “barrel bomb” delivered by a suspected Syrian regime helicopter.
Dr. Houssam Alnahhas, of the chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological task force with the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organization said samples had been collected but they had been unable to be transported outside of Syria due to the security situation.
The dead included a woman, a five-year-old girl, and a boy, 12. The attack took place at 8:30 pm on Wendesday evening, Dr. Alnahhas said, speaking from neighboring Turkey. Two hospitals received a total of 70 casualties he said, with the victims exhibiting symptoms “compatible with chlorine gas.” The three people killed had been at home at the time of the attack.
“That’s why there was a huge number of casualties, it was a civilian neighborhood. It was not a front line or conflict area,” said Dr. Alnahhas.
He added that it was the first time health workers were certain there had been a chemical attack on the city of Aleppo, which is a central battleground in the Syrian civil war. “It was the first time that we were able to confirm 100 percent that an attack took place,” he said in a phone call.

Russian Airstrikes on ISIS in Syria Kill 30, Including 24 Civilians

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Russian airstrikes have killed 30 people including 24 civilians in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, according to a report citing humanitarian officials.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the deaths as well as dozens of injuries to the AFP new organization. Russian officials said that the country had conducted air raids in the area to destroy a chemical weapons factory and at training camp for ISIS fighters, according to the AFP.
The airstrikes come just days after rebel forces ended a Syrian government siege of Aleppo.

NATO Concerned By Tensions Between Russia and Ukraine, Official Says 

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(MOSCOW) — A NATO official says the U.S.-led alliance is deeply concerned by rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine and is monitoring the situation closely.
The official, who wasn’t authorized to make statements on the record and spoke on condition of anonymity, said Russia had provided no proof of its accusation that Ukraine sent saboteurs to carry out attacks in Crimea.
Ukraine’s president has ordered the army to be on combat alert on the country’s de-facto border with Crimea and on the front line in eastern Ukraine following Moscow’s accusations.

This Is Why Vladimir Putin Is Accusing Ukraine of Terrorism

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It would have been a suicide mission, and a rather pointless one. But that is roughly the picture that Russian President Vladimir Putin painted on Wednesday when he accused Ukrainian saboteurs of trying to infiltrate Crimea and commit what he called an act of terror. On Russian state TV, newsreelseven showed the supposed weapons cache the Ukrainians allegedly tried to use, including bombs fashioned out of plastic soda bottles and other improvised explosives. But the story didn’t make a lot of sense.
However decrepit and dysfunctional the Ukrainian army may be, they still have enough military factories left over from the Soviet Union to arm their soldiers, who would have no need to make their bombs using recipes out of the The Anarchist Cookbook. Besides, what would they expect to achieve with these weapons? Since annexing Crimea in 2014, the Russian military has sealed it up about as tight as its stockpiles of nuclear weapons—which, by the way, Russia has threatened to use in defending Crimea if necessary.
That means any Ukrainian scheme to get back Crimea, or even to destabilize it, using an amateurish bunch of guerilla-saboteurs, would have been stupid, senseless and self-defeating, as Putin himself admitted during a press conference held at the Kremlin on Wednesday. “It is foolish because you cannot have a positive impact on the people in Crimea in this manner,” Putin remarked. By setting off bombs in their cities? Clearly not.
So what really happened? Given the dearth of reliable information coming from the heavily militarized border between Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea, it’s very hard to tell. According to local media reports, there does appear to have been a flare-up in fighting near that border over the weekend, and Russia has been moving forces toward the area from its massive Crimean military base. ButUkraine says that it made no attempt to penetrate the de facto border, and it insists that Russia is just trying to invent a pretext for another invasion.
From what we know, there seem to be a couple of scenarios in Putin’s mind, the more likely of which is the more banal. Russia needs the West to lift the sanctions it imposed in retaliation for the seizure of Crimea. But for that to happen, both Russian and Ukraine would need to fulfill the peace accord they signed in February of last year, known as Minsk II. Reached through the mediation of France and Germany, the deal is at a standstill, with both Kiev and Moscow accusing each other of not doing their part.
Both of them are right. Among other points in the deal, Ukraine has failed to grant a blanket amnesty for the Russian-backed separatists who have been fighting the Ukrainian military in the eastern Donbass region for more than two years. For its part, Moscow has refused to give Ukraine control of its eastern border, as that would cut the separatists off from their supply lines in Russia.
In trying to break this stalemate, Putin has tried to convince the West that Ukraine is really at fault, as he again sought to do on Wednesday. “I would like to appeal to our American and European partners too,” he said. “I think it is now clear to all that the authorities in Kiev today are not looking for a solution to the problem through negotiations, but are resorting to terror.”
In other words, it does not make sense to maintain the sanctions against Russia when the deadlock in the peace talks is all Ukraine’s fault. The Europeans now have to let that message sink in before the next round of peace talks are set to begin in early September, because as Putin noted on Wednesday, these talks “would not make much sense right now.” Not unless the Europeans can get their Ukrainian friends into line.
In pushing this same agenda, Russia has also kept up an ongoing dialogue about Ukraine with the U.S., applying similar arguments to get the U.S. sanctions lifted. This effort has even extended into Syria, where Russia has sought to form an alliance with the U.S. in fighting ISIS terrorists. As if to highlight the usefulness of such an alliance, the Russian military claimed on Thursday that its warplanes had destroyed a chemical munitions plant in the ISIS capital of Raqqa.
All of this is meant to convince the U.S. that the crisis in Ukraine should be put to one side—and all the related sanctions should be lifted—in order for the world’s leading military powers to focus on the terrorist threat emanating from Syria. Painting the Ukrainian armed forces as terrorists in the making would seem to bolster the Russian argument.
But the U.S. does not seem to be buying it. On Thursday, the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, said he has seen nothing to corroborate Russia’s claims of a sabotage mission against Crimea. Indeed, the Russian security services have not provided any evidence to support its claim that one of its officers was killed, along with a Russian soldier, in defending Crimea from Ukrainian attacks over the past few days.
All we have seen on Russian state TV is a corpulent man in handcuffs—identified as Evgeny Panov, an agent of the Ukrainian military intelligence forces—standing silently before the Russian news cameras with a bleeding gash in his forehead. According to his Russian interrogators, the alleged saboteur has confessed to his crimes. But that may mean little to the West—“Russia has a record of frequently levying false accusations at Ukraine to deflect attention from its own illegal actions,” Ambassador Pyatt tweeted on Thursday.
In the weeks before the annexation of Crimea, for instance, Russian state media reported that Ukrainian “fascists” and right-wing militias, having supposedly seized power in that winter’s revolution, were planning to move south in order to pacify Crimea’s ethnic Russian majority. These reports were false. Fascists had not seized power in Kiev, and there were no paramilitary columns moving in Crimea’s direction. But the propaganda effort helped to stir up enough panic among Crimean residents for many of them to welcome the Russian troops who promptly came to occupy the peninsula and prepare its annexation.
The fact that Putin’s claims on Wednesday might provide a similar casus belli for further military action are certainly cause for alarm, and they point to the other scenario that Putin might be contemplating. Since taking control of Crimea, Russia has spent billions of dollars keeping it supplied with fuel, food, water and electricity, all of which this region had previously received from Ukraine. In November, a group of pro-Ukrainian saboteurs blew up the electricity pylons that carry power from mainland Ukraine to Crimea. The Russian-backed leaders of the peninsula were then forced to declare a state of emergency, as the resulting blackouts had created a heating crisis across Crimea just as the Eastern European winter was setting in.
That act of sabotage was a painful reminder of how vulnerable Crimea became after the swift and bloodless Russian annexation. In order to really secure its hold over this territory, Russia would either need to spend enormous amounts of money on new infrastructure—such as bridges, power lines, energy pipelines and so on—that would connect Crimea to the Russian mainland, or it would need to launch an all-out invasion of Ukraine in order to secure a land bridge through the country’s eastern and southern regions all the way to Crimea.
But Putin likely realizes that he cannot afford to do either, at least not any time soon. With so much of his military firepower tied up in Syria, it would put enormous strain on the Russian armed forces to declare a full-scale war against Ukraine, which has spent the last two years building up defenses against exactly that kind of attack. It is also far from clear that the Russian people would support such a war, much less in retaliation for a bunch of alleged saboteurs in Crimea with backpacks full of soda-bottle bombs.
In its monthly “fear map” survey, which was published on Wednesday, the Kremlin’s leading pollster found that Russians are currently most afraid of “international tensions, conflicts between nations and military actions.” Even issues such as crime, healthcare and the devaluation of their savings now worry Russians far less than the possibility of war, the survey found.
So Putin should hardly be eager to grab at this chance to attack Ukraine. With the recent collapse in the price of oil, Russia’s main export, the national economy shrank by nearly 4% last year, and is projected to contract by at least another 2% this year, according to the World Bank. In order to ease some of that pain, Russia needs the West to allow normal trade relations to resume. Of course, Putin is far too proud, and far too invested in his image as a counterweight to the arrogant West, to start pleading for the U.S. and Europe to drop their embargoes.
But he might at least try to achieve the same ends by casting Ukraine’s leaders as a bunch of terrorists. At a minimum, this would mean offering Western leaders an off-ramp in their ongoing support for Ukraine. Now it’s up to them to decide whether to take it.
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Putin accuses Ukrainian authorities of resorting to ‘practice of terror’ – video 

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Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday and accuses the Ukrainian government, based in Kiev, of resorting to terrorism rather than participating in a peace process. Putin’s comments came after Russian security services said they had foiled a Ukrainian raid on the Crimea, which was annexed by Russia two years ago. The Ukrainian authorities dismiss the allegations as fake, but Putin says there is now no point in continuing peace talks which were due to take place in China
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The US Should Halt UN Aid for Hamas - Daily Signal

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Daily Signal

The US Should Halt UN Aid for Hamas
Daily Signal
The United Nations Development Program headquarters in Gaza City. The U.S. is the largest donor to the UNDP, providing $496.7 million in core and other contributions in 2014. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/ZUMA Press/Newscom) ...
Hamas is an enemy of its own peopleMiami Herald
Western Charities Are Funneling Funds to TerroristsNewsweek
Special Envoy to the UN Calls for Immediate Halt of Aid Money to GazaBreitbart News
The Jewish Press -OneNewsNow
all 90 news articles »
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Russia, Turkey Plan to Coordinate on Syria

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Russia and Turkey are taking unprecedented steps to directly coordinate actions in Syria after a rapprochement between their presidents and despite disagreeing over support for Damascus. The level of cooperation in the five-year civil war was made possible after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reconciled face to face Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. Putin announced that Russia would begin rolling back sanctions and restart important energy...

Clashes Reported in Aleppo Despite Cease-fire

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The Russian military was set to temporarily cease military operations in the battered Syrian city of Aleppo at 10:00 a.m. local time Thursday in order to allow humanitarian aid workers to bring in much needed supplies, but media reports indicate that the fighting persists. Russia's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that it would halt firing around Aleppo for three hours each day so humanitarian aid could be delivered to the ravaged city, saying the "humanitarian windows" would...

Media Report: Russia Breaks Aleppo Cease-fire Promise on 1st Day 

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The Russian military was set to temporarily cease military operations in the battered Syrian city of Aleppo at 10:00 a.m. local time Thursday in order to allow humanitarian aid workers to bring in much needed supplies, but media reports indicate that the fighting persists. Russia's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that it would halt firing around Aleppo for three hours each day so humanitarian aid could be delivered to the ravaged city, saying the "humanitarian windows" would... 

Ukraine, Russia Trade Angry Accusations as War Fever Mounts

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Ukraine and Russia were locked in a war of words Thursday over the Kremlin’s claim that Kyiv infiltrated trained saboteurs into Crimea tasked with targeting “critical infrastructure” — an alleged mission Russian President Vladimir Putin is now citing as the reason for his decision to pull out of scheduled peace talks in Normandy. Ukrainian officials say the sabotage mission is pure “fantasy,” arguing the Kremlin is likely to use it as a pretext for a major escalation of the two-year-long...

Serbian Lawmakers Approve New Government

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Serbia's lawmakers have approved a new government headed by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, nearly four months after he won a snap election.

Ukraine Said It Has Blocked Militant Routes To Syria, Iraq

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Ukrainian authorities say they have blocked “several channels” being used by militants traveling to fight with the Islamic State (IS) extremist group.
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Donald Trump's most outrageous quotes 

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Suspected gas attack on Aleppo hours before Russia-backed ceasefire comes into force 

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Boris Johnson says Britain must 'normalise' its relationship with Russia 

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Ukraine puts troops on combat alert as tensions with Russia spiral 

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Syria conflict: Footage shows 'chlorine attack' aftermath

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Exclusive BBC footage shows the aftermath of an apparent chlorine attack in Aleppo, Syria, coming hours after the UN urged a ceasefire to allow aid into the battered city. Some may find these images distressing.

Bombs hit popular Thailand resort town

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Two bombs explode in Thai resort of Hua Hin, injuring 11, including foreign tourists
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Justice Dept. report critical of zero-tolerance policing

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- To supporters, zero-tolerance policing has long represented a logical crime-fighting approach: Crack down on minor infractions before they mushroom into more serious and disruptive violence....

Secret Service spoke to Trump campaign about 2nd Amendment comment - CNN

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Secret Service spoke to Trump campaign about 2nd Amendment comment
(CNN) A US Secret Service official confirms to CNN that the USSS has spoken to the Trump campaign regarding his Second Amendment comments. "There has been more than one conversation" on the topic, the official told CNN. But it's unclear at what level ...
Clinton wrestles with a stubborn swing statePolitico
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton Target Each Other's VulnerabilitiesWall Street Journal
NRA Barks at Donald Trumps Second Amendment Dog WhistleDaily Beast
Washington Post -Huffington Post -NPR -Washington Times
all 92 news articles »

Valeant under criminal investigation over Philidor ties: WSJ - Reuters

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Valeant under criminal investigation over Philidor ties: WSJ
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO U.S. prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc (VRX.N) over whether it hid from insurers its relationship with a specialty pharmacy that helped boost its drug ...
Valeant reportedly under criminal investigationThe Boston Globe
Valeant, Philidor Under Criminal Investigation:
REPORT: Valeant is under criminal investigationBusiness Insider
CNBC-The Globe and Mail-Forbes-Seeking Alpha
all 91 news articles »

DEA Rejects Attempt to Loosen Federal Restrictions on Marijuana - NPR

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DEA Rejects Attempt to Loosen Federal Restrictions on Marijuana
The Obama administration has denied a bid by two Democratic governors to reconsider how it treats marijuana under federal drug control laws, keeping the drug for now, at least, in the most restrictive category for U.S. law enforcement purposes.
Obama Administration Set to Remove Barrier to Marijuana ResearchNew York Times 
Report: The Government Is About to Open Up Research on MarijuanaFortune
White House Poised to Allow Universities to Research Medical CannabisWillamette Week
all 37 news articles »

Politics|Donald Trump Calls Obama 'Founder of ISIS' and Says It Honors Him - New York Times

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New York Times

Politics|Donald Trump Calls Obama 'Founder of ISIS' and Says It Honors Him
New York Times
Donald J. Trump criticized Barack Obama's handling of conflicts in the Middle East at a raucous rally in Florida, where he also called his rival, Hillary Clinton, “the co-founder of ISIS.” By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on Publish Date August 10, 2016. Photo ...
Trump charges Obama with being 'founder of ISIS'Fox News 
Donald Trump Calls Barack Obama The
 'Founder of ISIS'
Donald Trump Calls President Obama the 'Founder of ISIS' at Florida RallyPeople Magazine
New York World

all 164 news articles »

Oil prices dip on US crude inventory build, record Saudi output - Reuters

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Oil prices dip on US crude inventory build, record Saudi output
SINGAPORE Oil prices fell on Thursday as a build in U.S. crude inventories and record Saudi Arabian production reinforced fears of a persistent supply overhang that will last well into next year and keep weighing on markets. U.S. West Texas ...
OPEC pumpfest continues; Saudis at record as U.S. shale cuts backCNBC
Oil Dragged Lower By US Crude Stock Growth, Record Saudi OutputWall Street Journal
Here's proof that Saudi Arabia doesn't care about killing oil prices — only the competitionBusiness Insider
MarketWatch -FuelFix (blog) -Seeking Alpha -The Fiscal Times
all 764 news articles »
Next Page of Stories
Page 8

Germany in new anti-terror plan to thwart Islamist militants - BBC News

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BBC News

Germany in new anti-terror plan to thwart Islamist militants
BBC News
Germans with dual nationality will lose their German citizenship if they fight for militant Islamist groups abroad, under new anti-terror proposals. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also announced plans to speed up the deportation of foreign criminals. 
Germany unveils plans to ramp up security after attacksUSA TODAY
Merkel's Government Vows Security Boost After Terror AttacksBloomberg
Attacks in Germany Lead to Proposals for New Security MeasuresWall Street Journal Times-Middle East Eye
all 85 news articles »

House probe: Military put rosy spin on war against Islamic State - Politico

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House probe: Military put rosy spin on war against Islamic State
A Republican House task force investigating allegations of intelligence manipulation concludes the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, put a rosier spin on its progress in the war against the Islamic State than ... 
CENTCOM accused of manipulating intel on ISISCBS News

GOP task force: Islamic State intel minimized to downplay

all 16 news articles »

German defense, interior minister to pump up joint training for attacks

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BERLIN, UEDEM, Germany (Reuters) - Germany's Defence Minister said on Thursday the country lay in the "crosshairs of terrorism" and pressed plans for the military to train more closely with police in preparing for potential large-scale militant attacks.

Judge Gunned Down In Russia's Daghestan

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A judge has been gunned down in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region of Daghestan.

Russian Security Council Meets Over Tighter Crimea Security

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a meeting with his Security Council to discuss additional security measures for Crimea as Moscow accuses Kyiv of trying to destabilize the Russian-occupied peninsula with saboteurs.

Turkey Says Will Develop Ties With Russia Despite Moscow's Tensions With West

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Turkey's ambassador to Russia says that Turkey will develop its ties with Russia despite tensions between the West and Moscow.
Next Page of Stories
Page 9

Syrian Activists Say No Cease-Fire In Aleppo

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A Syrian activist group says there has been no letup to the fighting between rebels and government forces in Aleppo despite a three-hour cease-fire declared by the Russian military, which is fighting alongside the government.

Russia Announces Daily Cease-Fires to Allow Aid into Aleppo

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The Russian plan will halt “all military action, air and artillery strikes” in the Syrian city for three hours every day, allowing aid groups to enter the city.

Editorial: What Russia and Turkey Bring to Syria

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The two neighbors have failed to make progress toward ending the civil war.

Op-Ed Columnist: Obama’s Worst Mistake

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A man with a child after a bombing in Aleppo in June.

Germany Proposes Tougher Measures to Combat Terrorism

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The interior minister outlined a package of plans that included closer monitoring of refugees and making it a crime to express sympathy for terrorism.

Russia announces war games after accusing Ukraine of terrorist plot

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Vladimir Putin summoned his security council and the Russian Navy announced war games in the Black Sea, a day after the Russian president accused Ukraine of trying to provoke a conflict over Crimea, which Moscow seized and annexed in 2014.

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