Saturday, June 27, 2015

3 Countries Hit by Terror Attacks Tighten Security

3 Countries Hit by Terror Attacks Tighten Security

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The French prime minister warned Saturday that France could expect more terrorist attacks, following the three terrorist attacks Friday that hit not only France, but also Tunisia and Kuwait. Manuel Valls said "the question is not ... if there will be another attack, but when." An emergency meeting of France's security cabinet convened at the Elysee Palace in Paris Saturday morning, a day after an attack on a U.S.-owned factory in France.  In London, British Prime...

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AP Top News at 7:52 a.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 7:52 a.m. EDT
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama sang a hymn of hope and spoke with the fervor of a preacher as he eulogized a pastor and eight parishioners gunned down at a historic black church in an apparent hate crime - and he minced no words in calling for an end to racial injustice and gun violence in the United States. In his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Obama suddenly began singing "Amazing Grace," quickly joined by ministers and some of the thousands who packed into the arena at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
Tunisia pledges tough security measures after attackSOUSSE, Tunisia (AP) - Tunisia's prime minister on Saturday called for all citizens to work together to defeat terrorism as thousands of tourists prepared to leave the North African country in wake of its worst terrorist attack ever. Tourists crowded into the airport at Hammamet near the coastal city of Sousse where a young man dressed in shorts on Friday pulled an assault rifle out of his beach umbrella and killed 39 people, mostly tourists.
The Latest: Germany offers more anti-terror help to TunisiaTUNIS, Tunisia (AP) - The latest news from an attack on a beach resort in Tunisia (all times local): ---
Greeks face new uncertainty as vote called on bailoutATHENS, Greece (AP) - Anxiety over Greece's future swelled on Saturday, with people queuing outside banks to withdraw cash, after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' call to have the people vote on a proposed bailout deal increases the risks that the country might fall out of the euro. The call for a vote radically raises the stakes in a standoff between Greece and its creditors over the terms for more financial support to the country. Greece's bailout program expires on Tuesday, after which it is unclear whether its banks would be able to avoid collapse.
AP Photos: Ukrainian village caught in crossfire of warKRYMSKE, Ukraine (AP) - Few places along the front line in east Ukraine see regular fighting as bitter as the village of Krymske. Roads to the village have all but crumbled away under the weight of military trucks, tanks and armored personnel carriers. For now, Krymske is in the hands of Ukrainian government forces and the volunteer battalions that fight alongside them. Somewhere in the distance is the enemy: Russian-backed separatists whose stated aim is to double the amount of territory under their control.

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Tunisia Pledges Tough Security Measures After ISIS Claims Attack That Killed 39 

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(SOUSSE, Tunisia)—Tunisia’s prime minister on Saturday called for all citizens to work together to defeat terrorism as thousands of tourists prepared to leave the North African country in wake of its worst terrorist attack ever.
Tourists crowded into the airport at Hammamet near the coastal city of Sousse where a young man dressed in shorts on Friday pulled an assault rifle out of his beach umbrella and killed 39 people, mostly tourists.
“The fight against terrorism is a national responsibility,” said a visibly exhausted Habib Essid at a press conference in Tunis early Saturday. “We are at war against terrorism which represents a serious danger to national unity during this delicate period that the nation is going through.”
He announced a string of tough measures to fight extremism, including examining the funding of organizations suspected of promoting radicalism, closing some 80 mosques outside government control and declaring certain mountainous zones military areas.
He identified the shooter, who was killed by police after the attack, as Seifeddine Rezgui, a young student at Kairouan University. A tweet from the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack and gave his jihadi pseudonym of Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani, according to the SITE intelligence group.
At the Imperial Marhaba Hotel where the attack took place, vans and buses were carrying away tourists on Saturday. While the hotel was not actually closing down, the tour operators had urged everyone to leave, the director said.
“We may have zero clients today but we will keep our staff,” said Mohammed Becheur, adding the 370-room hotel had been at 75 percent occupancy before the attack.
Tourism is a key part of Tunisia’s economy and had already fallen some 25 percent after a terrorist attack on the national museum in the capital Tunis that killed 22 people in March.
“It’s really sad but what can you do, for everyone, for the tourists, for the people who died, for their families,” said Belgian tourist Clause Besser, as he recovered in the hospital from a gunshot wound he received fleeing from the attacker. “For me, somehow, with a bullet in the leg, it’s not a catastrophe. For those who died or were injured for life, it’s something else.”
British travel companies Thomson and First Choice said they are flying back thousands of tourists from Tunisia Saturday and are cancelling all flights to the country in the coming week. Tourist flights from Ireland to Tunisia have continued in the wake of the attack, but travel agents are offering full refunds for those canceling.Slovakia has sent a plane to evacuate some 150 of its citizens who are currently in Tunisia, according to the Foreign Ministry and Scandinavian tour operators have stopped all flights to the North African country for the rest of the season.
“We felt a bit scared because Sousse isn’t that far away, it’s only 40-50 kilometers (25-30 miles) from where we stayed,” said Kathrin Scheider as she waited in line to check in to her flight out of the country at the Hammamet airport near Sousse. “We felt quite safe during the whole holiday, but as soon as we heard, we were quite happy to leave because you don’t feel that safe anymore if something happens like that.”
The Tunisian Ministry of Health has confirmed the nationalities of 10 of the 39 victims of the attack, including eight Britons, a Belgian and a German. The government of Ireland said an Irish nurse was also among those who were killed.
Relatives and family friends say Lorna Carty was fatally shot as she sunbathed. She and her husband, Declan, had received the holiday as a present to help Declan Carty relax following his recent heart surgery. Family friends speaking to the couple’s two children said Lorna Carty went ahead of her husband to the beach, where she suffered fatal gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead in hospital.
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Greeks Flock to ATMs After PM's Call for Bailout Referendum

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Greece's prime minister call for a referendum on the outcome of bailout talks with international creditors led anxious Greeks to queue outside banks to withdraw cash from ATMs. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced the surprise move in a televised address early Saturday, saying the referendum will take place July 5. He said an emergency session of parliament later Saturday would be called to ratify the decision. The prime minister made the call hours after the latest round of...

New York prison escapee David Sweat still at large after Richard Matt shot dead 

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  • Police close on area near Malone, New York after Friday discovery
  • Matt was found with stolen shotgun but did not fire at officers
The shooting death of one escaped killer brought new energy to a weeks-long hunt for a second escaped murderer as helicopters, search dogs and hundreds of law enforcement officers converged on a wooded area 30 miles from the prison in upstate New York.
“Of course our preference would always be to capture them alive,” New York state police superintendent Joseph D’Amico told a news conference as he announced late on Friday the killing hours earlier of Richard Matt, one of two escaped killers from an upstate maximum-security prison.
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Kurdish Fighters Drive IS From Kobani

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Kurdish fighters have driven the Islamic State group from the Syrian border town of Kobani, two days after the jihadists took over several of the town's neighborhoods, according to a Syrian watchdog group and activists. The official SANA news agency also said Kobani had been cleared of Islamic State fighters and that forces were searching for any remaining militants. At least 174 civilians have been killed in the conflict since the Islamic State group infiltrated the town Thursday,...

The Latest: Search Continues for Surviving NY Prison Escapee

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The Latest: Intense search continues in woods for surviving New York prison escapee
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Eye Opener: Manhunt intensifies for escaped killer in upstate New York

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Cops converge on woods in hunt for prisoner on the run

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Hundreds of law enforcement officers search for remaining escaped killer after police gun down partner

Kremlin Opens New Phase in Its War Against Ukraine

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Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 120
June 26, 2015 05:06 PM Age: 7 hrs
Category: Eurasia Daily Monitor, Vlad’s Corner, Home Page, Domestic/Social, Foreign Policy, Military/Security, Europe, Ukraine, Russia
(Source: Reuters)
Moscow is growing impatient with Ukraine’s unwillingness to legalize the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” and rewrite Ukraine’s constitution to their and Moscow’s satisfaction. The Minsk Two armistice, imposed on Ukraine on February 12, envisages that political process to be completed by December of this year (2015).
That, however, is conditional on a complete, durable and verified ceasefire in the field. And, since Ukraine is unwilling to sacrifice its sovereignty under the political terms of the armistice, Russia’s proxies continue hostilities in the field with variable intensity levels. Moscow aims thereby to coerce Kyiv into implementing the political terms of the armistice. But in breaching the ceasefire on a daily basis, Moscow and its proxies are demonstrably not meeting the precondition (see above) to the political process they want to impose on Ukraine.
The Kremlin is taking a number of steps with the aim of breaking or circumventing this political deadlock. Moscow also seems to be in the process of reviewing its political objectives in a more ambitious vein toward Ukraine.
Addressing the participants in the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, President Vladimir Putin laid out a two-fold proprietary claim to Ukraine on Russia’s behalf. The second of these claims is new in this form: a claim to Ukraine’s future. “Ultimately, one way or another, Russia and Ukraine are fated to share their future together” (applause in the hall). Although Ukraine has a right to choose, Putin went on, “we are linked by common technical, energy, transportation infrastructures. This is already a matter for Russia, it is a matter of our interests,” he warned (Interfax, June 20).
Putin’s other proprietary claim derives not from a vision of the future but a pseudo-historical one. He told the same international forum that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people, one ethnicity, with its [sic] own specificity, its [sic] own characteristics. We are also linked by the ability to speak with each other in one [sic] language.”
In the traditional reference terms of Russian nationalism, which Putin has adopted, subsuming the Ukrainian identity to the Russian one implies rejecting the basis for Ukrainian national statehood; portraying it as unnatural and temporary, ultimately fated for amalgamation with the Russian state, as Putin already implied in this year’s telephone conversation with Russia’s populace (see EDM, April 2324).
Seen in this light, Moscow’s activating or suspending the Novorossiya project (which targets eight Ukrainian provinces), or shifting from support of the outright secession of Donetsk-Luhansk to “shoving” them back into Ukraine, on constitutional terms that would cripple Ukraine, appear as tactical moves. The Kremlin’s ultimate target, whether for reabsorbing or for disabling, is Ukraine as such—while biting off territorial chunks along the way, depending on circumstances (Debaltseve in February was the most recent case).
In his St. Petersburg remarks, Putin addressed four immediate demands to Ukraine: 1) change the constitution to de-centralize the country’s administrative-territorial system; 2) adopt and begin applying a special status for Donetsk-Luhansk (the current proposal would incapacitate the state); 3) validate local elections to be held in Donetsk-Luhansk (to legitimize and legalize the “people’s republics”); and 4) start financing social expenditures and reconstruction in those territories.
Ukraine is supposed to implement these demands through direct negotiations with Donetsk and Luhansk; i.e., to their satisfaction (if dissatisfied, they and Moscow would undoubtedly claim that Ukraine has refused to deliver). These are indeed political stipulations of the Minsk armistice. However, their implementation is sequenced to follow after a durable and verified ceasefire would have taken hold (see above). Putin is now reversing that sequence.
Moreover, Putin hinted that Russia would continue arming Donetsk-Luhansk forces, until Ukraine complies with those political demands: “In regional conflicts everywhere, the belligerents always find weapons somewhere. This is also the case in eastern Ukraine. But, if the situation is resolved politically, weapons would not be necessary. What is necessary is goodwill and entering into a direct dialogue [by Kyiv with Donetsk-Luhansk].”
Similarly, Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, has publicly hinted that Moscow would continue facilitating the cross-border flow of Russian fighters into Ukraine, until Kyiv concedes on political issues: “There are no terrorist groups in Donetsk and Luhansk. Everything can be resolved without civil war, by complying with the Minsk agreement. But it is not being complied with. Russian Federation citizens go to fight in Donbas. We are not calling or rewarding people [to do this]. But it is impossible to prevent this. Emotions are at work, men go there to join up… Ukraine does not want to negotiate with the representatives of those armed groups [opolchenie]. But it must do so. And we cannot close that border. What, do you want us to impose a blockade there ?” (Kommersant, June 22).
Thus, Moscow is opening a new phase in its war against Ukraine. Military intimidation is more overt, the threat to continue underwriting proxy warfare more brazen. The Kremlin wants to change the Minsk armistice unilaterally by reversing the sequence of implementing its provisions. That document imposes political concessions on Ukraine, conditional on Russia stopping the hostilities. Since Ukraine resists, Russia is now pressuring Kyiv to deliver those concessions unconditionally.
Some officials at the European Commission in Brussels are asking Ukraine to meet Moscow’s demand: namely, start complying with the political terms of the Minsk armistice, no longer expecting Russia to comply with the military terms first (Ukrayinska Pravda, June 24, 25). Undoubtedly, Moscow had counted on this effect with those members of this Commission.

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FBI experts take the stand in Matusiewicz trial

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David Matusiewicz’s attorney, Edson A. Bostic, stands in U.S. District Court in Wilmington for the cyberstalking trial.(Photo: ARTIST SKETCH BY SUSAN SCHARY)
Fingerprint and DNA analysis from the investigation into the New Castle County Courthouse shooting was largely inconclusive, according to testimony from experts at the FBI forensic laboratory.
Two fingerprints were lifted from pages of a red spiral-bound notebook that has become a key piece of evidence in the case against the family members of the shooter, Thomas Matusiewicz. The prints matched his wife, Lenore Matusiewicz.
Thomas Matusiewicz shot and killed his ex-daughter-in-law, Christine Belford, and her friend, Laura “Beth” Mulford, as they walked into the New Castle County Courthouse lobby on Feb. 11, 2013, for a child support hearing with his son, David Matusiewicz.
He exchanged gunfire with Capitol Police before turning the gun on himself.
The shooting came after years of a bitter custody battle between David Matusiewicz and Belford over their three young daughters. That dispute included David Matusiewicz and his mother kidnapping the girls in 2007, prison time for both after the kidnapping, his parental rights being terminated in 2011, and then finally the courthouse murder.
David Matusiewicz, along with his mother Lenore Matusiewicz and sister Amy Gonzalez, are now on trial in U.S. District Court in Wilmington for conspiracy and stalking charges. They could face life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, cyberstalking resulting in death.
On Friday – the 12th day of the trial – three experts from the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, testified about computer, fingerprint and DNA analysis that was done as part of the investigation.
Kelisha Kelly, one of the experts, tested for fingerprints on a notebook, bulletproof vest, knife, sheath, cattle prod, binoculars, three sets of handcuffs and a gun cleaning kit. The items were found in a duffle bag in the Honda CRV that Thomas and David Matusiewicz drove to the courthouse on the day of the shooting.
There were no useable fingerprints on any of the items, except for the notebook, she testified, and the prints left on two pages of that notebook matched Lenore Matusiewicz’s right middle finger.
Alan Giusti, another expert, said he analyzed DNA on four of the objects in the bag.
There was insufficient DNA to use for testing on three of the items – the knife, shotgun and gun cleaning kit.
But, the binoculars had DNA from two people. Neither match could be linked directly to David Matusiewicz, the only family member tested.
Kenneth C. Edelin Jr., the attorney representing Lenore Matusiewicz, pointed out during cross examination that thousands of other items collected during the investigation were not tested, even though fingerprints or DNA may have been present.
For most of the day Friday, Linda Grody, a third expert from the lab, told the jury about four computers found in the Matusiewicz family’s homes.
Much of her testimony was a review of documents that have become familiar to jurors over the first two weeks of the trial, like the essay written by Lenore Matusiewicz entitled “A Grandmother’s Impossible Choice” that details the family’s allegations that Belford sexually abused the eldest of the three girls.
The family started making that accusation after David and Lenore Matusiewicz were facing prison time for kidnapping the three girls and taking them for 19 months to Central America.
They said that the kidnapping was an effort to protect the children.
The eldest daughter, who is now 13, testified in a closed courtroom on Monday that her mother didn’t molest her. A Delaware Family Court judge also rejected the allegations as being “made up” in 2011.
Grody testified Friday that weeks before the shooting Thomas Matusiewicz searched a libertarian website. Other searches on that computer were for burial services for veterans and the Sray-Webster Funeral Home in New Jersey, where the family is from and where he was once a Vineland police officer.
Then, after the shooting, someone who logged onto a computer under Amy Gonzalez’s username downloaded custody forms from a Delaware state webpage. Gonzalez filled out the form to gain custody of the three girls on Feb. 15 – four days after the shooting. Her petition was later denied.
“Christine Belford (deceased) mother of children. I am closest relative to my three nieces. Do not want them in foster care,” she wrote.
The trial will resume on Monday at 9 a.m.
Contact Jessica Masulli Reyes at 302-324-2777, <a href=""></a> or Twitter @JessicaMasulli. Contact Saranac Hale Spencer at 302-324-2909 or <a href=""></a>.
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Venezuela-based fraud ring stole UPMC identities to buy electronics from Amazon, federal indictment says

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A Venezuela-based fraud ring used the stolen identities of UPMC employees to scam $1.5 million in tax refunds and buy $886,000 worth of smartphones, computers, tablets and other electronics, federal prosecutors say in an indictment unsealed Friday.
A Pittsburgh federal grand jury Wednesday indicted Yoandy Perez-Llanes, 31, address unknown, on 21 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.
Hackers last year stole the names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, salary and tax withholding information of all 62,000 employees at UPMC, the state's largest private employer.
The indictment doesn't say whether Perez-Llanes or the others involved in the tax-return fraud were responsible for stealing the employees' identities. The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.
“It would not surprise me if he was not the hacker,” said Daniel Garrie, founding editor of the Journal of Law & Cyber Warfare.
Although hackers sometimes directly use the information they steal to commit fraud, “it's certainly not as common as them selling it in the marketplace,” he said.
Often called the “dark web” or “dark markets,” the anonymous websites offer drugs, weapons, stolen identity information and other illegal goods and services.
American and European law enforcement agencies announced in November that a coordinated investigation had shut down more than 400 such sites.
UPMC applauded the indictment but otherwise declined to comment.
“On behalf of our employees whose personal information was compromised by hackers, we applaud the diligent and thorough investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the United States Secret Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service leading to the indictment in this case,” spokeswoman Gloria Kreps said in a prepared statement.
The indictment doesn't mean the employee information is safe, another expert said.
“Once data is breached, it is almost impossible to know whether or not, or when, that data has made its way into these black markets,” said Brian Nussbaum, a cybersecurity professor at the University of Albany in New York. “It is probably best to assume that breached data is likely to end up in such dark corners of the Internet and to exercise caution as such.”
Perez-Llanes and others used the employee information to file 935 false federal tax returns for the 2013 tax year seeking a total of $2.2 million in refunds, prosecutors say. They succeeded in getting about $1.5 million, prosecutors say.
They used proxy servers and Turbo Tax software to make it appear the returns were filed in Western Pennsylvania.
An Internal Revenue Service spokesman couldn't be reached for comment.
The conspirators used anonymous email services to get refund redemption codes from Turbo Tax and order about $886,000 in Galaxy IV cell phones, iPhones, HP laptop computers, tablets, gaming devices and other electronics from Amazon.
They had the goods shipped to Miami, where members of the ring repackaged it and shipped it to Maracay and Maracaibo in Venezuela.
The conspirators kept some of the goods for personal use and sold the rest on online auction websites, prosecutors say.
The government is seeking a court order to seize about $700,000 worth of gift cards that are being held by Amazon or Turbo Tax, according to the indictment.
Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Total Trib Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301.
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Yevgeny Primakov, Former Premier of Russia, Dies at 85

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MOSCOW — Yevgeny M. Primakov, a former prime minister of Russia, the country’s first post-Soviet spymaster and for decades the Kremlin’s top expert on Middle Eastern affairs, has died, state news agencies said on Friday. He was 85.
The agencies did not say when or where he died or provide the cause of death.
With hooded eyes and a gravelly voice, Mr. Primakov struck an image of the archetypal Soviet diplomat and intelligence operative. He was well known to kings, dictators and revolutionaries throughout the Middle East.
But as he rose to more senior positions in the post-Soviet Russian government, his sly sense of humor, sharp intellect and willingness to stand up to the United States made him popular in domestic politics. For a time, he was seen as a possible successor to President Boris N. Yeltsin.
In this way, his career and popularity foreshadowed the success of another veteran of the Soviet intelligence services turned politician, Vladimir V. Putin.
On Friday, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, said the president saw Mr. Primakov as “a statesman, a scholar and a politician who has left an enormous legacy.”
Russian television broadcasts warmly recalled how Mr. Primakov had presided over a turning point, literally, in Russian-American relations. Heading to the United States for talks in March 1999, Mr. Primakov, who was prime minister then, turned his government plane around over the Atlantic Ocean after learning that the United States was about to begin its military intervention in Kosovo.
Mr. Primakov said he would not talk to the Americans while bombs were falling.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, said on Friday that Mr. Primakov had “made an invaluable contribution to formulating the fundamentals of Russia’s foreign policy,” including, “above all, the independent, self-sufficient course of the Russian Federation.”
As Mr. Yeltsin’s health weakened in the late 1990s, Mr. Primakov aligned with Yuri M. Luzhkov, then the mayor of Moscow, in a bid to assume control in the Kremlin. But Mr. Putin and his backers quickly sidelined the movement.
After leaving government, Mr. Primakov led a business lobby before returning to his scholarly interests in the Arab world as director of Eastern studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov was born on Oct. 29, 1929, in Kiev, Soviet Union. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies in 1953. Survivors include his wife, a daughter and grandchildren.
Early in his career, Mr. Primakov proved a wily and energetic backer of Soviet interests in the Middle East. He began his decades of experience in the region as a foreign correspondent for Soviet radio and the Communist Party newspaper Pravda in Cairo for most of the 1960s, a posting generally seen as a cover for espionage activity.
He went on to lead ultimately unsuccessful shuttle diplomacy efforts to reconcile a newly ascendant Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, whom the Kremlin was courting, with the Kurdish insurgency in northern Iraq, which was also supported by Moscow.
In 1990, before the Persian Gulf War began, Mr. Primakov led an unsuccessful effort by the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to broker a peace agreement between the United States and Iraq, which had invaded Kuwait.
The Gorbachev plan, calling for Iraq to pull out of Kuwait, might have slowed the erosion of Russian influence in the region had it succeeded. But Mr. Hussein resisted until it was too late to accept the proposal.
Back in Russia, Mr. Primakov steered the foreign intelligence branch of the K.G.B. into the post-Soviet era, separating it from the domestic surveillance branch.
In various government positions, Mr. Primakov also tried and failed to broker peace deals that would have prevented American military action in the former Yugoslavia and again in Iraq.
Mr. Gorbachev, in a statement issued on Friday, praised Mr. Primakov for “defending the country’s interests with both resolve and flexibility.”
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A Profound Ruling Delivers Justice on Gay Marriage

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To the list of landmark Supreme Court decisions reaffirming the power and the scope of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law — from Brown v. Board of Education to Loving v. Virginia to United States v. Windsor — we can now add Obergefell v. Hodges.
In a profound and inspiring opinion expanding human rights across America, and bridging the nation’s past to its present, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: “The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”
As news of the ruling came out on Friday morning, opponents of same-sex marriage struggled to fathom how the country they thought they understood could so rapidly pass them by. But, in fact, the court’s decision fits comfortably within the arc of American legal history.
As Justice Kennedy explained, the Constitution’s power and endurance rest in the Constitution’s ability to evolve along with the nation’s consciousness. In that service, the court itself “has recognized that new insights and societal understandings can reveal unjustified inequality within our most fundamental institutions that once passed unnoticed and unchallenged.”
For gays and lesbians who have waited so long for the court to recognize their relationships as equal to opposite-sex relationships, it was a remember-where-you-were-when-it-happened moment.
Addressing what he called “the transcendent importance of marriage,” Justice Kennedy wrote that “through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices.”
Justice Kennedy’s focus on dignity and equality has been central to his majority opinion in each of the court’s three earlier gay rights cases. In 1996, the court held that states cannot deny gays, lesbians and bisexual people legal protection from discrimination. In 2003, it held that states cannot ban consensual sexual relations between people of the same sex. And in 2013, it struck down the heart of a federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
In Friday’s ruling, Justice Kennedy emphasized the dignity and equality not only of same-sex couples, but of their families and children. “Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers,” he wrote, the children of these couples “suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.”
President Obama, who opposed same-sex marriage in his first presidential campaign but announced in 2012 that he had changed his mind, said the decision “affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”
And yet, in the midst of all the hard-earned jubilation surrounding the decision, it was difficult not to think of the people who did not live to see this day.
People like John Arthur, who died in October 2013, only months after he married his partner of more than 20 years, Jim Obergefell, on the tarmac of Baltimore-Washington International Airport. They lived in Cincinnati, but Ohio would not let them marry; voters there had passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. As Mr. Arthur lay on a stretcher, dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, he and Mr. Obergefell took a private medical jet to Maryland, where same-sex marriage is legal. They were married in a brief ceremony and then flew home.
When Ohio officials refused to put Mr. Obergefell’s name on his husband’s death certificate, he sued. Last November, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against him and other couples challenging bans in Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. Same-sex marriage, the court said, is a “social issue” for voters, and not the courts, to decide. Friday’s decision reversed that ruling.
The humane grandeur of the majority’s opinion stands out all the more starkly in contrast to the bitter, mocking small-mindedness of the dissents, one each by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr. and Antonin Scalia.
Faced with a simple statement of human equality, the dissenters groped and scratched for a way to reject it.
The chief justice compared the ruling to some of the most notorious decisions in the court’s history, including Dred Scott v. Sandford, the 1857 ruling holding that black people could not be American citizens and that Congress could not outlaw slavery in the territories; and Lochner v. New York, a 1905 case that is widely rejected today as an example of justices imposing their own preferences in place of the law.
He invoked the traditional understanding of marriage, which he ascribed to, among others, Kalahari bushmen, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. But Justice Kennedy had a ready reply: “The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest.”
Justice Scalia mocked the ruling as a “judicial Putsch” and a threat to American democracy. “This is a naked judicial claim to legislative — indeed, super-legislative — power,” he wrote. “A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”
But that rant is wholly wrong. In American democracy, the judicial branch is the great bulwark against a majority’s refusal to recognize a minority’s fundamental constitutional rights. As Justice Kennedy wrote, “An individual can invoke a right to constitutional protection when he or she is harmed, even if the broader public disagrees and even if the legislature refuses to act.”
As gratifying as Friday’s ruling is, remember that equality won by a single vote.
And within minutes of the ruling, there was resistance by some officials around the country. Louisiana’s attorney general, James Caldwell, said his state, one of 13 that still bans same-sex marriage, is not required to issue licenses to same-sex couples because the Supreme Court has not yet released an explicit order. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican presidential candidate,called for a constitutional amendment allowing states to ban same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, the dwindling number of Americans who oppose same-sex marriage have shifted tacticsto rely on so-called religious-freedom laws, which they say allow them to, among other things, decline to provide business services for same-sex weddings.
Justice Kennedy said that Americans who disagree with same-sex marriage, for religious or other reasons, have the freedom to believe and to speak as they wish. “But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the state itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied.”
Still, the court did not give sexual orientation a special status, like race or gender, which would provide stronger protection against discriminatory laws.
More than four decades ago, a male couple in Hennepin County, Minn., applied for a marriage license and was denied. When their lawsuit reached the Supreme Court, the justices dismissed it “for want of a substantial federal question.”
In the years since, Americans’ attitudes toward gays and lesbians and the right to marry have changed dramatically. Before Friday’s ruling, same-sex marriage was already legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia, representing more than 70 percent of all Americans. A solid and growing majority now believes in marriage equality; among those ages 18 to 29, support is at nearly 80 percent.
Around the world the change has come even faster. Since 2000, 20 countries — from Argentina to Belgium to South Africa — have legalized same-sex marriage. In May, an Irish referendum on legalization won the support of nearly two-thirds of voters.
Justice Kennedy’s opinion will affect the course of American history, and it will change lives starting now.
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Investigator Gets 3 Months in Prison in Hacking Case

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A private investigator in New York who illegally rummaged through the emails of dozens of people was sentenced to three months in prison on Friday as questions arose about how his case was investigated.
Two victims of Eric Saldarriaga’s hacking told Judge Richard J. Sullivan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan that they were annoyed that prosecutors had given them little information about the extent of Mr. Saldarriaga’s activities and the potential invasion of privacy.
Judge Sullivan similarly seemed surprised that a prosecutor working for Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, could not provide the victims with more details about Mr. Saldarriaga’s illicit activities.
“Do they know how long they were hacked and what was hacked?” Judge Sullivan asked the prosecutor, Daniel S. Noble, after the two victims had addressed the court.
Mr. Noble said that the authorities could not fully answer that question and that they had done their best to contact all 50 victims.
The victims who addressed the court were Tony Ortega, a journalist, and Robert J. Cipriani, a professional gambler who says he gives some of his winnings to charity. Mr. Cipriani, who lives in the Los Angeles area and addressed the court from a videoconferencing system, had sought to keep his identity confidential but the judge would not allow it.
Mr. Cipriani and Mr. Ortega said that Mr. Saldarriaga’s sentencing should be delayed until prosecutors discovered who had paid him to hack into their emails.
“I have no idea of the extent of this crime,” said Mr. Ortega, a former editor of The Village Voice who has written critically in the past about the Church of Scientology. He told Judge Sullivan that he suspected that the church, which has hired investigators in the past, might have wanted Mr. Saldarriaga to monitor his activities.
Judge Sullivan said that it was not his job to investigate that matter and that he could not require Mr. Saldarriaga to publicly identity who had hired him. But he did express frustration that prosecutors could not tell him what had happened to the overseas hacker-for-hire companies that Mr. Saldarriaga had used to obtain the login credentials for the email accounts he had pilfered.
Peter Brill, Mr. Saldarriaga’s lawyer, complained that the investigation of Mr. Saldarriaga had been handled by a string of agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a number of federal prosecutors, potentially missing an opportunity to investigate some leads his client had provided authorities about those who may have hired him.
Mr. Brill noted that on some occasions, Mr. Saldarriaga would arrive for scheduled meetings withF.B.I. agents only to discover that the agents were unavailable. Mr. Brill said that at times the matter did not seem to be a priority for authorities, who first approached Mr. Saldarriaga about his illegal hacking in March 2014.
Mr. Saldarriaga, 41, who lives in Queens and is married with two children, pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking. His name first surfaced several years ago in an investigation by federal authorities in Los Angeles into the hacking-for-hire business.
Mr. Brill argued that his client should be given probation and avoid prison time, saying that he had health problems and was remorseful. But Judge Sullivan said a three-month prison term was warranted because of the seriousness of the crime.
The judge said the sentencing guidelines permitted him to sentence Mr. Saldarriaga to only as much as six months because the economic loss to the victims was minimal. The guidelines, he said, do not reflect the severity of the invasion of privacy that comes with someone hacking into a person’s emails. “You took active steps to invade people’s privacy and you did it multiple times,” the judge said.
Federal prosecutors had asked for up to six months in prison.
Judge Sullivan also ordered Mr. Saldarriaga to serve three months of home detention after his release from prison to send a message of deterrence to others.
Correction: June 26, 2015
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a prosecutor. He is Daniel S. Noble, not Nobel.
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Supreme Court Rules Gay Marriage Legal Nationwide

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Same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide in the United States, after the Supreme Court ruled that America’s constitutional freedoms and protections afford gays and lesbians the right to wed. VOA’s Michael Bowman was at the high court for Friday’s narrow 5-4 decision, which settles, from a legal standpoint, a hard-fought social issue and civil rights battle.

Friday’s Three Terror Attacks Might Not Be Connected—and That’s Even Scarier 

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