Thursday, June 18, 2015

10.24am ET - The suspect in the shooting has been identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof of Columbia, South Carolina by Lexington PD and Berkeley County. The FBI has confirmed to Reuters that Roof is the suspect. - 9 Dead in Charleston Church Shooting

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said, “The only reason someone would walk into church and shoot people praying is hate.”

9 Dead in Charleston Church Shooting Called 'Hate Crime'

M.N.: No, sir. There might be another reason: a deliberate and planned hostile intelligence operation with the aim of inciting a racial war in America. This line of thought fits with other domestic and international events and we have to be aware of this hypothetical but very real possible cause. FBI (and other security agencies) will do itself and to all of us the great disservice if it does not look into this possibility thoroughly and in-depth.

Dylann Roof - Google Search

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    The FBI has named Dylann Roof, 21, of Columbia, South Carolina as the suspected killer of ...

  • Charleston Shooting Suspect Is Reportedly 21-Year-Old Dylann Roof
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    Charleston church shooting suspect named as Dylann Roof – latest updates 

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    The suspect in the shooting has been identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof of Columbia, South Carolina by Lexington PD and Berkeley County. The FBI has confirmed to Reuters that Roof is the suspect.
    Reuters is also reporting that the suspect’s uncle recognized his nephew from the photo released. “The more I look at him, the more I’m convinced, that’s him,” said Carson Cowles, 56, in a phone interview.
    Suspect in #Charleston shooting identified as 21 yr old Dylann Roof. If you know his whereabouts, call 1-800-CALL-FBI
    It is confirmed through open source reports that the subject Dylann Storm Roof is from Lexington County. Call...
    A DoJ spokesperson confirmed to the Guardian that a federal investigation is under way:
    “The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the FBI, and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina are opening a hate crime investigation into the shooting that took place at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. The investigation is parallel to and cooperative with the state’s investigation.”
    Continue reading...

    9 Dead in Charleston Church Shooting Called 'Hate Crime'

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    Police were responding to a shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston at 110 Calhoun Street.

    Police hunt man who killed nine in historic South Carolina black church

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    CHARLESTON, S.C. Police in Charleston, South Carolina, were searching on Thursday for a white gunman who killed nine people in a historic African-American church including the pastor, a black state senator, in an attack the U.S. Department of Justice called a hate crime.

    The shooter, a 21-year-old white man with sandy blond hair, sat with churchgoers inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for about an hour on Wednesday before opening fire, Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.

    The U.S. Department of Justice opened a hate crime investigation into the shooting, which follows a string of racially charged killings that have prompted waves of protest across the United States over the past year and sparked the "Black Lives Matter" movement. [ID: nL1N0Z40RV]

    Demonstrations have rocked cities including New York, Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, following police killings of unarmed black men including Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown.

    A white police officer was charged with murder after he shot an unarmed black man in the back in April in neighboring North Charleston.

    The victims included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was the church's pastor and a Democratic member of the state Senate, his cousin and fellow state senator Kent Williams told CNN.

    The gunman is extremely dangerous, Mullen said, and police did not have a sense of where he might be.

    "This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporters.

    Six females and three males died in the attack, Mullen said.

    The shooting recalled the 1963 bombing of an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four girls and galvanized the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

    The Charleston church is one of the largest and oldest black congregations in the South, according to its website. It has its roots in the early 19th century, and was founded in part by a freed slave who was later executed for organizing a revolt, according to the U.S. National Park Service.

    "This tragedy that we are addressing right now is indescribable," Mullen said. "We are committed to do whatever is necessary to bring this individual to justice."


    The community reacted with shock and grief after Wednesday's shooting.

    "I'm heartbroken," said Shona Holmes, 28, a bystander at the aftermath of the shooting. "It's just hurtful to think that someone would come in and shoot people in a church. If you're not safe in church, where are you safe?"

    The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies have joined in the investigation, Mullen said.

    Eight victims were found dead in the church, Mullen said, and a ninth died after being taken to hospital. Three people survived the attack. Officials did not immediately identify the victims.

    Williams called Pinckney's death hard to believe.

    "It's devastating, devastating that someone would go into God's house and commit such a crime," Williams told CNN. "It's just a huge, huge loss."

    Early on Thursday, Mullen released photos of the suspect taken from the church, as well as of a black sedan that he was seen leaving in. Mullen added there was "no reason to believe" that he was not in the Charleston area.

    The shooter told one survivor he would let her live so she could tell others what happened, the president of the Charleston NAACP, Dot Scott, told the local Post and Courier newspaper.

    Following the attack, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, canceled an appearance in Charleston that had been scheduled for Thursday morning.

    "Governor Bush's thoughts and prayers are with the individuals and families affected by this tragedy," his campaign team said in a statement.

    (Additional reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida, Randall Hill in Charleston, S.C., Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing byBernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)
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    A short chronology of the Islamic State group -

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    A short chronology of the Islamic State group
    April 18, 2010 — U.S. and Iraqi forces kill two top leaders of al-Qaida's branch in Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi becomes the terror group's new leader. March 2011 — Syrian conflict erupts following an uprising against President Bashar Assad that turns into an ...
    Inside Islamic State group's rule: Creating a nation of
    A year on, Islamic State 'caliphate' infamous for brutalityDaily Mail
    Life inside Islamic StateTimes of India

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    US wonders: Why stolen data on federal workers not for sale?

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    WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is increasingly confident that China's government, not criminal hackers, was responsible for the extraordinary theft of personal information about as many as 14 million current and former federal employees and others, The Associated Press has learned. One sign: None of the data has been credibly offered for sale on underground markets popular among professional identity thieves....
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    Page 2

    9 dead in shooting in historic black S.C. church

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    White gunman sought in what officials say is being investigated as hate crime
    in Charleston

    The truth behind the Salem witch trials 

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    What was behind the famous American witch trials in Salem in the 1600s? Gender, power and class, says Katherine Howe
    I can usually spot him even before my talk is over – a middle-aged man with a smug expression on his face, borne of the total confidence of someone who spends a lot of time watching history programmes on television. Am I aware, he wants to inform me the moment the Q and A begins, that the real cause of the Salem witch crisis was ergot poisoning? I should look into it, if I wasn’t. Why, thank you, gentleman audience member. How good of you to share that with me.
    In the 1970s – a time somewhat steeped in drugs, as it happens – a theory was advanced that the most deadly witch trial in North American history could be blamed on ergotism, a rare hallucinatory syndrome caused by consuming moldy rye bread. The adolescent girls who blamed their troubles on difficult, argumentative women in their community were suffering nothing worse than a bad acid trip. Comforting though this idea might be, the theory was discarded within months of its advancement. Not all the afflicted girls lived in the same household, for one thing. Hallucinations are generally preceded by violent vomiting, for another (which is absent in the contemporary accounts of the girls’ behaviour), and often conclude with one’s feet rotting off. It turns out that witchcraft cannot be solved with a simple disease, nor can it be safely consigned to the past. Early modern English witchcraft is more important than that.
    Continue reading...

    Ukrainian Security Service Chief Fired

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    Ukraine's parliament has dismissed the head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), Valentyn Nalyvaychenko.

    A Look Inside the Caliphate of Fear 

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    ESKI MOSUL, Iraq — When the Islamic State fighters burst into the Iraqi village of Eski Mosul, Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim knew his wife was in trouble.
    Buthaina Ibrahim was an outspoken human rights advocate who had once run for the provincial council in Mosul. The IS fighters demanded she apply for a “repentance card.” Under the rule of the extremist group, all former police officers, soldiers and people whose activities are deemed “heretical” must sign the card and carry it with them at all times.
    “She said she’d never stoop so low,” her husband said.
    Buthaina Ibrahim was an outlier in her defiance of the Islamic State. It would cost her dearly.
    The “caliphate,” declared a year ago, demands obedience. Untold numbers have been killed because they were deemed dangerous to the IS, or insufficiently pious; 5-8 million endure a regime that has swiftly turned their world upside down, extending its control into every corner of life to enforce its own radical interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah.
    The Islamic State is a place where men douse themselves with cologne to hide the odor of forbidden cigarettes; where taxi drivers or motorists usually play the IS radio station, since music can get a driver 10 lashes; where women must be entirely covered, in black, and in flat-soled shoes; where shops must close during Muslim prayers, and everyone found outdoors must attend.
    There is no safe way out. People vanish — their disappearance sometimes explained by an uninformative death certificate, or worse, a video of their beheading.
    “People hate them, but they’ve despaired, and they don’t see anyone supporting them if they rise up,” said a 28-year-old Syrian who asked to be identified only by the nickname he uses in political activism, Adnan, in order to protect his family, which still lives under IS rule. “People feel that nobody is with them.”
    The Associated Press interviewed more than 20 Iraqis and Syrians describing life under the group’s rule. One AP team travelled to Eski Mosul, a village on a bend in the Tigris River north of Mosul where residents emerged from nearly seven months under IS rule after Kurdish fighters drove the extremists out in January. IS forces remain dug in only a few miles away, so close that smoke is visible from fighting on the front lines.
    Another AP team travelled to the Turkish border cities of Gaziantep and Sanliurfa, refuges for Syrians who have fled IS territory.
    The picture they paint suggests the Islamic State’s “caliphate” has evolved into an entrenched pseudo-state, based on a bureaucracy of terror. Interviewees provided AP with some documents produced by the IS ruling machine — repentance cards, lists inventorying weapons held by local fighters, leaflets detailing rules of women’s dress, detailed forms for applying for permission to travel outside IS territory. All emblazoned with the IS black banner and logo “Caliphate in the path of the prophet.”
    Adnan described the transformation that the Syrian city of Raqqa underwent after the Islamic State took it over in January 2014. At the time, he fled, but after a few months of missing his family, the 28-year-old returned to see if he could endure life under the extremists. He lasted for almost a year in the city, now the IS de facto capital. He spoke to AP in the Turkish border town of Gaziantep.
    The once colorful, cosmopolitan Syrian provincial capital has been transformed, he said. Now, women covered head to toe in black scurried quickly to markets before rushing home. Families often didn’t leave home to avoid any contact with the “Hisba” committees, the dreaded enforcers of the innumerable IS regulations.
    IS fighters turned a soccer stadium into a prison and interrogation center, known as “Point 11.” The city’s central square was referred to by residents as “Jaheem” Square — Hell Square, an execution site where Adnan said he saw the corpses of three men left dangling for days as a warning.
    Armed members of the Hisba patrolled the streets, cruising in SUVs and wearing Afghan-style baggy pants and long shirts. They sniffed people for the odor of cigarettes, and chastised women they considered improperly covered or men who wore Western clothes or hair styles. Adnan said he once was dealt 10 lashes for playing music in his car.
    In this world, the outspoken Buthaina Ibrahim was clearly in danger. The sheikh tried to save his wife, sending her away to safety, but she soon returned, missing their three daughters and two sons, he said. In early October, the militants surrounded the house and dragged her away.
    Not long after, Ibrahim received the death certificate. A simple sheet of paper from an “Islamic court” with a judge’s signature, it said only that Buthaina’s death was verified, nothing more. He has no idea where her body is.
    Delivery from IS came to Eski Mosul at the hands of Kurdish fighters. Amid the joy over liberation, many residents discarded documents from the Islamic State.
    But Ibrahim is keeping the death certificate as a connection to his wife, “because it has her name on it.”
    A former soldier in the village, Salim Ahmed, said he is keeping his repentance card. IS might be gone, but the fear it instilled in him is not.
    “We live very close to their front line,” he said. “One day, they might come back and ask me for my repentance card again.”
    Read the whole story

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    Sleeping pills including Xanax and Valium TREBLE the risk of lung cancer

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    Norwegian Institute of Public Health scientists found a slight increase in the risk of all types of cancer with sleeping tablets, but a 'worrying' rise in risk with respiratory cancers.

    No, the Iran Nuclear Deal Will Not Be Good for the U.S.

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    Once Iran learned how to make a nuke, there wasn’t much chance for a really good and reassuring deal on the nuclear issue. The agreement being negotiated now may well be the least bad of the terrible options available to slow Iran’s nuclear program. But we should be clear-eyed about what else we may be getting from this deal: a richer and stronger Iran, one pushing for a Middle East more hostile to the U.S.–and one that will still retain the capacity to build nuclear weapons.
    It’s the cruelest of ironies that this issue is now the pathway offering Iran a way in from the cold. It would be fine if the agreement could truly end Iran’s ability and motivation to have a nuclear-weapons option. But it hardly lays to rest those concerns.
    Iran will agree to what will likely be a smaller, more easily monitored nuclear program. But there can be no real assurance, let alone guarantee, that this will be the “forever” deal Secretary of State John Kerry referred to. What is guaranteed–what will be the new normal in the Middle East–is that Iran will emerge as a state with the right to enrich uranium and continue R&D while maintaining some nuclear infrastructure. Iran has played us and its card well, profiting from sanctions relief without abandoning its nuclear-weapons aspirations, let alone its repressive policies at home or its expansionist aims abroad.
    The Obama Administration argues that regardless of Iran’s behavior in the region, constraining Tehran’s nuclear program is important in its own right. But Iran is not Japan, a nuclear threshold state that respects international principles. It’s impossible to separate the nuclear issue from Iran’s regional aspirations. Keeping the world on edge about Iran’s nuclear-weapons capacity and ensuring that the U.S. remains an adversary are still vital for the regime’s survival–and this agreement isn’t going to make Iran a moderate anytime soon.
    The nuclear deal will bring Iran money and legitimacy in a turbulent region. Iran has influence on just about every issue the U.S. confronts in the Middle East: Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, ISIS, Yemen. And while Tehran is prepared to cooperate when that serves its interests, its view of the region is not Washington’s. Far from constraining Iran’s power, the deal may well enhance it as it directs more resources to its Iraqi Shi’ite, Yemeni Houthi, Syrian Alawite and Hizballah allies and surrogates. And the opening to Iran has alienated Saudi Arabia and Israel, U.S. allies who fear Iran’s rise.
    Were there alternatives to the deal? Tougher sanctions and negotiating? A more compelling threat to use force or more aggressively confront Iran’s allies? We’ll never know. The deal may succeed in slowing Iran’s nuclear program. But sooner or later, some future U.S. President is bound to confront a richer, stronger, more influential Iran, one with nuclear weapons still within its reach.
    Miller is a former Middle East negotiator and adviser in Democratic and Republican administrations
    Read the whole story

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    Page 3

    Yes, the Iran Nuclear Deal Will Be Good for the U.S.

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    International negotiators led by the U.S. and Iran must resolve a number of critical issues to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement by the self-imposed deadline of June 30. But the debate in Washington has already become polarized. Supporters of the emerging final agreement assert that it shuts down Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Opponents claim it paves the pathway for an Iranian bomb. Supporters hope that the deal will empower Iran’s pragmatic factions to pursue reform. Opponents–and U.S. allies and partners in the Middle East–fear the deal will fuel Tehran’s support for terrorism and ambition to dominate the region.
    The truth is more complicated–and more unknown. Under the tentative deal, Iran’s production of plutonium–one of two kinds of fissile material needed for a nuclear weapon, along with enriched uranium–is constrained indefinitely. In addition to modifying the Arak heavy-water research reactor so that it cannot produce significant quantities of plutonium, Iran is committed to not building a reprocessing facility, which is necessary to separate plutonium from spent nuclear-reactor fuel.
    The constraints on uranium enrichment are less rigorous and less permanent. Iran is required to reduce its enrichment capacity–fewer centrifuges and a smaller stockpile of low-enriched uranium–so that the breakout time to produce a bomb’s worth of weapons-grade uranium is extended from the current estimate of a few months to about a year. Iran could still operate several thousand first-generation centrifuges and research more advanced centrifuges. After 10 years, the limits on enrichment capacity begin to ease, allowing Iran to deploy more advanced centrifuges and reduce breakout time. After 15 years, the constraints are entirely lifted, though more vigorous inspections and monitoring will remain in place for 20 to 25 years.
    Critics argue that the U.S. could get a better deal–fewer centrifuges, longer delays, more intrusive inspections–with tougher bargaining tactics and more sanctions. But this course of action is uncertain. We intensify sanctions, and then Iran intensifies nuclear activities. It is unknowable whether this ultimately leads to a better deal or Iran’s moving closer to a bomb. But as a practical matter, the U.S. cannot walk away from the tentative agreement that it has negotiated and expect to enlist international support for more sanctions, unless Iran reneges or balks on the bargain.
    The emerging nuclear deal with Iran buys time–at least a decade, and maybe more. It does not end the threat. Assuming a nuclear agreement is successfully implemented, the U.S. must take advantage of that time to contain Iran’s regional ambitions, encourage political change in Iran–as best we can–and seek a more fundamental decision by Iran to forgo its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
    Samore is the executive director for research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government

    This appears in the June 29, 2015 issue of TIME.
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    Charlie Hebdo Attacks: Two Suspects Arrested

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    Two people have been arrested in connection with the terrorist attacks in Paris on magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cache market.
    The satirical magazine was attacked on 7 January when brothers Said and Chérif Kouachi forced their way in with assault rifles and other weapons, killing 11 people and injuring 11 more. After leaving the building, they killed a police officer.
    There were a number of other attacks in the Île-de-France region, with a further five killed and 11 wounded and the brothers themselves were shot dead when they emerged from an industrial building two days later, firing at police.
    The two suspects arrested this week were found at their home in Seine-Saint-Denis, by investigators of the anti-terrorist section of the Paris crime squad.
    According to the newspaper Le Parisien, one of the two suspects, whose exact role as not been determined, was identified after he was mentioned by Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman in the supermarket hostage siege.
    1. Funerals Are Held For The Victims Of The Charlie Hebdo Attack
      Tributes of drawings, flowers, pens and candles left in front of the Charlie Hebdo offices
    2. Funerals Are Held For The Victims Of The Charlie Hebdo Attack
      Gallery: Jan: Funerals For Charlie Hebdo Victims
      The coffin of Franck Brinsolaro, the police bodyguard killed while protecting Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier
    3. Funerals Are Held For The Victims Of The Charlie Hebdo Attack
      Mr Brinsolaro was one of the 12 victims killed during the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris
    4. Funerals Are Held For The Victims Of The Charlie Hebdo Attack
      Mr Brinsolaro's funeral was held at the Sainte-Croix Church in the northwestern French town of Bernay
    5. Funerals Are Held For The Victims Of The Charlie Hebdo Attack
      Police colleagues attended the service
    6. Funerals Are Held For The Victims Of The Charlie Hebdo Attack
      Tributes of drawings, flowers, pens and candles left in front of the Charlie Hebdo offices
    7. Funerals Are Held For The Victims Of The Charlie Hebdo Attack
      Gallery: Jan: Funerals For Charlie Hebdo Victims
      The coffin of Franck Brinsolaro, the police bodyguard killed while protecting Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier
    The supermarket incident saw Coulibaly kill four people and take hostages, which he threatened to kill if the Kouachi brothers were harmed. There were eventually 15 hostages rescued but many injured.
    Le Parisien reported that the second of the two suspects arrested this week was identified "during these last hours".
    Court proceedings against the two are ongoing.
    1. The gunman shoots the police officer at point-blank range
      The attackers were heard to shout, "We have avenged the prophet"
    2. FRANCE-ISLAM-RELIGION-WEEKLY generic Charlie Hebdo
      Gallery: A Guide To The Satirical Magazine
      Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly magazine which features cartoons, reports and jokes
    3. Peanuts And Charlie Brown To Be Made Into A Film
      Its name was inspired by the 'Peanuts' cartoon series featuring Charlie Brown and is also a nod to French leader Charles de Gaulle
    4. Je Suis Charlie
      The publication first ran from 1962 to 1981 but was cancelled. It returned to circulation in 1992
    5. File photo of a policeman standing guard outside the French satirical weekly "Charlie Hebdo" in Paris
      On 6 November 2011 the magazine's offices were firebombed after it 'invited' the Prophet Muhammad to be a guest editor
    6. The gunman shoots the police officer at point-blank range
      The attackers were heard to shout, "We have avenged the prophet"
    7. FRANCE-ISLAM-RELIGION-WEEKLY generic Charlie Hebdo
      Gallery: A Guide To The Satirical Magazine
      Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly magazine which features cartoons, reports and jokes
    Meanwhile, the suspected mastermind of an attack on a Paris Jewish restaurant in 1982 that left six people dead and 22 injured, has been arrested in Jordan.
    Zuhair Mohamad Hassan Khalid al-Abassi, alias Amjad Atta, was one of three men for whom France issued an international arrest warrant earlier this year and an extradition request is understood to be underway.
    Between three and five men are thought to have taken part in the attack, which was blamed on the Abu Nidal Organisation, a Palestinian militant group.
    1. People hold a banner reading "I am Charlie" in tribute to the victims of a shooting by gunmen at the offices of weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in Rio de Janeiro
    2. A woman places candles next to a placard which reads "I am Charlie" during a gathering in Pristina
      Gallery: Vigils Held For Charlie Hebdo Victims
      Vigils have been held across the world in support of the victims of the Paris terror attack
    3. Vigils held for victims of Charlie Hebdo attack
      People lit candles at the Place de la Republique in Paris
    4. Vigils held for victims of Charlie Hebdo attack
      Others held up pens and placards reading "I am Charlie"
    5. Vigils held for victims of Charlie Hebdo attack
      Police officers also gathered in the French eastern city of Strasbourg to pay their respects
    6. People hold a banner reading "I am Charlie" in tribute to the victims of a shooting by gunmen at the offices of weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, in Rio de Janeiro
    7. A woman places candles next to a placard which reads "I am Charlie" during a gathering in Pristina
      Gallery: Vigils Held For Charlie Hebdo Victims
      Vigils have been held across the world in support of the victims of the Paris terror attack
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    Pope Francis wants to roll back progress. Is the world ready? - Washington Post

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    Washington Post

    Pope Francis wants to roll back progress. Is the world ready?
    Washington Post
    “They no longer have blind trust in a better tomorrow based on the present state of the world and our technical abilities. There is a growing awareness that scientific and technological progress cannot be equated with the progress of humanity and ...
    Pope calls on the world to fight climate change crisisThe Verge
    Pope pleas to world to stop climate change destructionBusiness Insider

    all 1,154 news articles »

    Russia says examining Brussels' legal move to seize state assets

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    MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Thursday it was carefully examining a reported Belgian move to seize Russian state property in Belgium to cover a court settlement compensating shareholders in the now defunct oil company Yukos.

    Russia Examines Belgium's Move To Seize State Assets

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    Moscow says it is carefully examining a reported Belgian move to seize Russian state property in Belgium.

    Latin America bashes Trump's immigration bashing

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    Developer Donald Trump gestures as he announces that he seek the Republican nomination for president, Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.(Photo: Richard Drew, AP)
    MIAMI — A day after hugged his Mexican-born wife and spoke flawless Spanish during his presidential campaign announcement, went in a different direction when he announced his White House bid: He bashed immigrants and said Mexico was no friend of the USA.
    Latin America noticed — and wasn't pleased.
    The real estate magnate became front-page news south of the border after he said Mexico and other Latin American countries were "not sending their best" people to the U.S., but rather criminals, drug dealers and rapists.
    "They're laughing at us, at our stupidity" Trump said Tuesday in New York City. "And now they're beating us economically. They are not our friend, believe me. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else's problems."
    Mexico's El Universal newspaper proclaimed on its front page that Trump had "lashed out" at Mexicans while promising to build a "great wall" on the Mexican border. Argentina's Clarínnewspaper decried the "nationalistic vein" that Trump struck throughout his speech.
    Social media blew up throughout the region, as Americans quipped that Trump had already lost the Hispanic vote and Latin Americans expressed shocked over the statements made by the reality TV star. Comedian directed a tweet at Trump, saying his daughter is half-Mexican and lamenting that she has the "problem" of speaking two languages before turning three years old.
    As his statements circulated through the region, Mexican government officials started weighing in too.
    Miguel Ángel Osorio, Mexico's secretary of the interior, said Trump's comments ignored the fact that the U.S. was built by the hard work of immigrants from around the world. José Antonio Meade, Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs, put it more simply, saying Trump's comments displayed "profound ignorance."
    One of the most common reactions came from Lisa Navarrete of the , a U.S. group that advocates for immigrants in the country.
    "I look at him as a 2-year-old who will say a naughty word to get their parents' attention," she said,according to
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    Page 4

    How Iran Dominates the Middle East

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    With deadline day for nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers less than three weeks away, supporters and detractors alike are gearing up to make their final stand. One line of argument increasingly used by opponents of a deal is the belief that sanctions relief—worth up to $150 billion, according to President Obama’s recent interview with Jeff Goldberg—will fuel Iran’s already extensive involvement in the various conflicts wracking the Middle East.
    The argument is certainly convincing—$150 billion can buy a lot of weapons and influence—but it is also misleading and demonstrates a dangerous misunderstanding of why Iranian influence has grown so dramatically over the years.
    To begin to understand Iran’s rise as a regional power, it is important to examine the mechanisms with which the country wins friends and influences people.
    At the core of Iran’s strategy is its revolutionary ideology, or what it terms Islamic Resistance—the belief that it is leading an existential fight against the forces of imperialism and religious extremism. Iran has manicured an image of resistance and independence that transcends ethnic divides and resonates with popular anti-U.S., anti-Zionist, and anti-extremist attitudes in the region. Despite taking a reputational hit due to the increasingly sectarian nature of the regional unrest, Iran remains the most logical ally for the significant numbers of Arabs who despise the United States, distrust the Gulf states, and desperately require arms to fight Sunni extremists.
    Coupled with its revolutionary ideology is the fact that Iran has proven incredibly adept at responding to regional crises. Where others have failed, Iran has stepped in with military and political solutions that quickly fill power vacuums and bring relative success to its allies. In Iraq for example, Iran responded immediately to the fall of Mosul by providing unconditional military and logistical support to Baghdad. Iran also assisted in the development of the Popular Mobilisation Forces, the umbrella movement of predominantly Shia militias who now number over 100,000 men and have a string of battlefield successes to their name—a feat that leaves the multibillion dollar, U.S.-trained Iraqi Security Forces struggling to remain relevant.
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    The sheer pull of Iran’s soft power is in stark contrast to the country’s financial fortunes. Iran has weathered more than three decades of harsh sanctions and international isolation. It was in the midst of the devastating Iran-Iraq war that Iran nurtured Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has become the most formidable non-state actor in the Middle East. In Iraq, Iran’s influence today far outstrips that of the United States, despite the vast differences in resources available to the two of them.
    This is not to say that Iran does not spend money. It does, particularly in Syria, where the Assad regime is overstretched and on the back foot. Latest reports suggest that Iran spends up to $6 billion a year on sustaining Assad. What is less discussed, however, is that Iran has also been a net beneficiary from the civil strife in the region, with reports that Iran has received up to $10 billion of payments from Baghdad.   
    Even if we were to accept that Iran uses its wealth to win influence, the argument that sanctions relief will result in increased Iranian intervention still falls short. Not only does it fail to consider how the Iranian system itself operates, but it also overlooks even the basic strategic nuances of Iran's regional policy.
    The money devoted to Iran’s regional foreign policy is managed by the same organisation responsible for executing it, namely the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC’s control of both revenue sources and strategic decision-making has sheltered Iranian foreign policy from the broader effects of international sanctions, giving the organisation a large level of autonomy to spend funds on foreign operations as it sees fit. Indeed, it is specifically because of sanctions that Iran has had to rely so heavily on the organisation. As President Obama explained to Goldberg: “[W]hat is also true is that the IRGC right now, precisely because of sanctions, in some ways are able to exploit existing restrictions to have a monopoly on what comes in and out of the country, and they’ve got their own revenue sources that they’ve been able to develop, some of which may actually lessen as a consequence of sanctions relief...It is not a mathematical formula whereby [Iranian leaders] get a certain amount of sanctions relief and automatically they’re causing more problems in the neighbourhood.”
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    Over 400 Chechens Have Left Russia for ISIS Since 2011

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    by Mary Chastain16 Jun 201511
    The Russian Interior Ministry reports that over 400 Chechens traveled to Syria to join radical Islamic groups, mainly ISIS, since the civil war broke out in 2011.
    “A total of 405 people, according to our data, have left Chechnya to join the fighting in Syria on the side of the Islamic State since the beginning of the war in that region,” said the spokesman. “Among those, 104 have been killed and 44 came back, while the fate of the rest is unknown.”
    Outside of the Middle East, Russia is the largest contributor to ISIS. While leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi hardly shows his face, the terrorists plaster military leader Omar al-Shishani’s face all over their propaganda. ISIS featured him in a video last August from one of their children training centers, who showed off their military skills for al-Shishani.
    Chechens in Syria threatened President Vladimir Putin for supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and vowed to liberate Chechnya and Russia’s North Caucasus in a video released last September.
    “We will, with the consent of Allah, free Chechnya and all of the Caucasus!” said the fighter. “The Islamic State is here and will stay here, and it will spread with the grace of Allah! Your throne has already been shaken. It is under threat and will fall with our arrival. We’re already on our way with the grace of Allah!”
    The Islamic State allegedly shot the video at an airport in Raqqa after they seized it from the Syrian Army. A Russian speaker describes the jets and military equipment to the IS fighters. He confirms it all came from Russia.
    “This message is for you, Vladimir Putin!” said the fighter. “These are the aircraft you sent to Bashar [Assad], and we’re going to send them to you. Remember that!”
    In March, a man named Abu Dudjana shared a message on his VKontakte (Russia’s version of Facebook) from Russian women within ISIS that encouraged other Russian women to join them in Syria. The ladies claim they are in “the blessed land of Sham,” which is the name other caliphates have used for a region that includes most of Syria. They ask their sisters “in the lands of the infidels” to join them, since Russia “is a state of humiliation and shame.”

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    FBI aerial surveillance revelations prompt backlash from US lawmakers

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    Revelations that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was operating a secret fleet of small aircraft spying on the public below has prompted a backlash of sorts.
    Lawmakers in the US Senate introduced legislation Wednesday that would require federal authorities to get a probable-cause warrant from a judge to surveil the public from above with manned aircraft or drones.
    "Americans' privacy rights don't stop at the treetops," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said of his proposal.
    The Protecting Individuals from Mass Aerial Surveillance Act (PDF), also sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), comes two weeks after the Associated Press "traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas." What's more, the FBI obscured the planes' ownership through fake companies.
    Ars' Sean Gallagher also described what he called the "FBI's secret surveillance air force—small planes with sensors perfected for battlefield intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan that have quietly seen service all over the country." The planes are equipped with high-definition day and night surveillance systems.
    Under Wednesday's proposed measure, information collected without a warrant during these surveillance flights would be inadmissible in court. Also, the US government could not contract with commercial or private plane operators to perform unauthorized surveillance.
    Heller said the measure, which is being backed by civil rights groups, protects the public "from being trampled by the government's intrusion from above and provides much-needed clarity on what authority the federal government has related to aerial surveillance."
    The proposal, however, is riddled with loopholes.
    For starters, it does not apply to local and state law enforcement agencies. Further, the measure does not apply to immigration patrol within 25 miles of a land border, and all bets are off during "exigent" or emergency situations. Wildlife management and searching for illegal marijuana-growing operations are also excluded.
    Even with the loopholes, the measure has slim chances of landing on President Barack Obama's desk for signature, as lawmakers are loath to demand probable-cause warrants to protect Americans' privacy.
    The most recent example was the passage of the USA Freedom Act two weeks ago. That measure Obama signed alters the bulk phone metadata spying program Edward Snowden disclosed two years ago. Here's how Ars described the act:
    Under the new legislation, however, the bulk phone metadata stays with the telecoms and is removed from the hands of the NSA. It can still be accessed with the FISA Court's blessing as long as the government asserts that it has a reasonable suspicion that the phone data of a target is relevant to a terror investigation and that at least one party to the call is overseas. As we've repeatedly stated, the Constitution's Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause does not apply. The metadata includes phone numbers of all parties in a call, numbers of calling cards, time and length of calls, and the international mobile subscriber identity (ISMI) of mobile calls.
    If that isn't enough evidence that the measure is likely doomed, consider that current law does not require the authorities to get a probable-cause warrant from a judge to demand ISPs fork over customers' e-mail if that e-mail has been stored on servers at least 180 days. Lawmakers often talk about changing that President Ronald Reagan-era law, but there's no real political will to actually get it done.
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    Kerry’s refusal to be “fixated” on Iran’s former nuclear misdeeds fits the US pattern of indulging Tehran

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    Kerry’s refusal to be “fixated” on Iran’s former nuclear misdeeds fits the US pattern of indulging Tehran
    US Secretary of State John Kerry remarked Wednesday that the “US and its negotiating partners are not fixated on the issue of so-called possible military dimensions [of the Iranian nuclear program] because they already have a complete picture of Iran’s past activities.”
    This comment was a compendium of contradictions and untruths.
    debkafile lists five instances to demonstrate the US has been in the dark over Iranian nuclear activities - past and present:
    1. Iran’s military complex at Parchin remains a closed book despite repeated international demands to check on the nuclear detonation tests reported to have been conducted there. The US and Israel are left with suspicions, no facts, although Kerry declared: “We know what they did.”
    2. At the Fordo underground site, all that is known for sure is that the Iranians are enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges – which they admitted after they were found out. But nothing is known about activities in other parts of the subterranean facility.
    3.  Iran is known to be operating secret sites. Once again, strong suspicions are not supported by solid evidence which remains out of reach.
    4.  US intelligence has not gained a full picture of Iran’s nuclear collaboration with North Korea or their shared plans for the development of ballistic missiles. Every now and then, delegations of nuclear scientists pay reciprocal visits to each other’s facilities, but no one has got to the bottom of the secret transactions between them. The question is why does this collaboration continue if Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon? And how far as it got? There are no answers to either of these questions.
    5. Neither the US nor the international inspectors have gained direct access to the Iranian scientists employed on military nuclear projects, aside from the information reaching the US and Israel from Iranian defectors. All applications to interview these scientists were either turned away or ignored by Tehran.
    So when Kerry claims that the negotiators “already have a complete picture of Iran’s past activities,” he is in fact letting Iran off the hook for providing information or even opening up its suspect facilities to international monitors, least of all the “intrusive inspections” promised by President Barack Obama.
    For the sacred goal of getting a final nuclear deal signed with Iran by the June 30 deadline, it is permissible to brush these embarrassing “details” under the carpet and ignore troubling questions.
    On June 15, Republican Sen. Bob Corker, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to President Obama saying: “It is breathtaking to see how far from your original goals and statements the P5+1 have come during negotiations with Iran.” He went on to say that negotiators “have moved” from trying to strike a 20-year agreement to a 10-year one and "seem ready to let Tehran continue to develop its ballistic missile effort and maintain research and development for advanced nuclear centrifuges.”
    Senator Cork concludes: “The stakes here are incredibly high and the security implications of these negotiations are difficult to overstate.”
    However, the Obama administration’s concessions to buy a deal do not stop there. They go still further. debkafile’ sources reveal that Washington is preparing to give way on the snap inspections mandated by the Additional Protocol, and agree to limit inspections to facilities unilaterally designated “nuclear” by Tehran and only after two weeks' notice.
    But President Obama has made his most substantial concession yet, by accepting Tehran’s demand to divide the final accord into two parts. The first would be made public and the second, carrying the technical protocols, would be confidential. The senior US negotiator Undersecretary Wendy Sherman fought hard to have both parts of the accord released, explaining that the president could not otherwise get it through Congress. But she was overruled.
    The US president has employed the same stratagem on the issue of sanctions. While declaring that they will not be lifted until Iran complies with its commitments, he has allowed American companies to enter into business negotiations with Iranian firms.
    The 50 pages of the nuclear accord’s practical annexes embody the adage that the devil is in the detail. But president Obama has chosen to keep it secret from Congress, the American public and US allies, while Iran is given free rein to pursue its objectives.
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    Saudi Dep. Crown Prince visits Russia

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    Saudi Dep. Crown Prince visits Russia
    DEBKAfile June 17, 2015, 5:58 PM (IDT)

    Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad traveled to Moscow Wednesday for an official visit on behalf of his father King Salman. He will meet with President Vladimir Putin and top officials. The visit is expected to “further bolster bilateral relations and strengthen cooperation in various fields.”

    One Does Not Simply Embed US Troops In Iraq - Defense One

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    Soldiers from the 76th Iraqi Infantry Brigade receive M16A2 rifles and infantry sets as part of the fielding of combat brigade sets supplied to Iraqi Security Forces May 25, 2015, at Camp Taji, Iraq,
    It may be tempting to put U.S. troops alongside Iraqis on the front lines against ISIS, but it would be far more difficult and complicated than it may seem, the military’s top officer told Congress Wednesday.
    Augmenting an Iraqi unit with a U.S. specialist — say, a joint terminal attack controller, skilled in guiding air strikes — would require a lot of hidden support.
    “This not just about putting three JTACs forward. It’s about putting a medevac capability, and a combat search-and-rescue, a personnel recovery capability and a [quick reaction force],” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. “So 15 people might require 150.”
    Currently, American forces in Iraq are limited to training and advising military units and tribal forces at bases and operations centers throughout the country. Last week, the Obama administrationannounced it would send an additional 450 U.S. troops for that purpose to Taqaddum, an air base about 70 miles west of Baghdad in eastern Anbar province.
    The U.S. military has combat search-and-rescue and medevac forces positioned to rescue pilots downed on strike missions inside Iraq and Syria. These units, including the elite Air Force units that fly the HH-60 Pave Hawk CSAR helicopter, are based in neighboring countries, Dempsey said.

    Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testify before the House Armed Services Committee, on June 17, 2015. (AP Photo)

    But if JTACs were embedded with Iraqi forces, these rescue and medevac units might need to be moved closer to the battlefield. “If we expand this, we’ll have to address it,” Dempsey said.
    Basing aircraft in a warzone is not as simple as sending pilots, pararescuemen and maintenance crews to a base. Additional forces are needed to make sure the aircraft are secure. Security personnel can easily outnumber aircrew.
    But keeping a safe distance also has its costs. Late last year, the United Arab Emirates reportedly suspended its participation in airstrike missions over concerns that American V-22 Osprey aircraft were positioned too far from the battlefield.
    Last month, Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said he was okay with more Army trainers deploying to Iraq, and even accompanying Iraqi forces onto the battlefield. “Embedded advisors, with increased risk to our soldiers, probably would make this more effective,” Odierno said.
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