Saturday, June 27, 2015

Kurdish Forces Regain Kobani

French terrorist attack: mystery of ‘calm and gentle’ man who beheaded his boss 

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France struggles to comprehend yet another Islamist terrorist outrage as hunt gets under way for those who radicalised the killer
“Again,” they were saying in Lyon on Saturday, with an air of incredulity. “It’s happened again.”
Just six months after the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery shop, France finds itself struggling to comprehend another atrocity in its midst. The severed head of a businessman hung on a factory gate on Friday brought the horror of Isis-style beheadings in Syria, Libya and Iraq to a quiet corner of the Rhône-Alpes region.
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Trying to Placate All, Iran Leader Zigs and Zags on Nuclear Talks 

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s ambiguity, meant to keep the moderate opposition happy while placating the hard-liners, has been part of his strategy for more than a decade.

Kerry Rejoins Iran Nuclear Talks as Deadline Looms

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The U.S., Iran and world powers began a final round of nuclear talks, with diplomats voicing optimism that an agreement could be reached while admitting serious issues remained.

Kurdish Forces Regain Kobani

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Islamic State insurgents are defeated two days after their surprise incursion into the Syrian town on the Turkish border, which Kurdish forces have held since January.

Photos: Gay Pride Parades Around the World

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriages boosted celebrations at gay pride parades in London, Dublin, Paris and other cities on Saturday.

Armenia Suspends Electricity Rate Rise

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The president of Armenia has suspended increases in household electricity rates to end protests that have blocked the capital Yerevan’s main avenue for six straight days.

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Greece has ‘closed the door’ on future talks, says Eurogroup president - video 

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Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the eurogroup, says Greece's decision to hold a referendum on creditor demands has effectively 'closed the door' on further talks. Speaking in Brussels ahead of an emergency meeting, Dijsselbloem calls it a sad day for Greece, after news prime minister Alexis Tsipras had called a referendum on austerity demands. Meanwhile, Greek education minister Aristides Baltas praises the decision by Athens Continue reading...

Tourists stuck in Tunisia: why can't we go home? - video

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A group of British tourists who have been stranded in Tunisia for more than 24 hours say they just want to go home. The group, many of whom witnessed Friday's terror attack in Sousse, say their airline, Jet2, has not done enough to organise flights back. Tense scenes in a hotel lobby are filmed by news cameras as guests confront a Jet2 representative over the lack of flights Continue reading...

French soul searching after third terror attack - Telegraph.co.uk

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Telegraph.co.uk

French soul searching after third terror attack
Telegraph.co.uk
The French government has promised to step up surveillance of terrorist suspects amid anger over a decision to stop monitoring an Islamist who beheaded his boss and tried to blow up a chemical factory. Yassin Salhi, 35, attacked the Air Products site in ... 
French terror suspect took selfie with beheaded victimSTLtoday.com

Suspect arrested over terror attack on French gas factory 'took a selfie with ...Daily Mail 
In custody, suspect in French terror attack keeps quietEconomic Times
The Independent-Herald Scotland
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Turkey's Erdogan says will "never allow" Kurdish state - media - Reuters

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Reuters

Turkey's Erdogan says will "never allow" Kurdish state - media
Reuters
ISTANBUL President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on Saturday as saying Turkey would never allow the formation of a Kurdish state embracing its south-east and parts of northern Syria, comments likely to anger Kurds as a peace process with Ankara stalls.
Turkey looking to construct more walls on Syrian border - officials | ReutersFirstpost
Turkey Looking to Construct More Walls Along Syrian Border: OfficialsNDTV
Turkey looking to construct more walls on Syrian border -officialsDaily Mail
Huffington Post -gulfnews.com
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Terror fears mount in France - Washington Post

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NDTV

Terror fears mount in France
Washington Post
LYON, France – Following Friday's attempted assault at a chemical plant that officials described as a terrorist attack, France was hunkering down Saturday for what politicians and analysts warned could be a prolonged period of uncertainty and fear.
France beheading attack: Suspect sent selfie with headBBC News
Severed head selfie sent to CanadaSky News Australia
France beheading: 'It is not a question of if there will be another attack, but when ...The Independent
Financial Express -New York Daily News -NDTV
all 157 news articles »

European Intelligence Agencies Prepare for More Attacks

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European countries raised their terrorist threat levels this weekend fearing that Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims seek to exercise humility and charity and come closer to Allah, may hold more attacks similar to those on Friday that left over 60 dead and hundreds wounded across three continents. Jihadists have a history of pulling off terrorist outrages during Ramadan and this year they added to the "catalog," with more attacks suspected of being in the offing. When then...

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ISIS marks first anniversary with calls for violence during holy Ramzan - Financial Express

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Daily News & Analysis

ISIS marks first anniversary with calls for violence during holy Ramzan
Financial Express
The latest message released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on completing a year as a self-proclaimed caliphate has urged its supporters to take up arms and carry out acts of terror. By: ANI | June 27, 2015 8:00 pm ...
Isis, a year of the caliphate: How powerful is the 'Islamic State' and what threat...The Independent 
'Ramadan will have lots of surprises', ISIS warn after Tunisia attackDaily Mail

ISIS marks first anniversary with calls for violenceDaily News & Analysis 
Daily Beast-
 Breitbart News-Al-Bawaba
 
all 74
 
Fox News
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Thousands attend London Pride march - BBC News

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BBC News

Thousands attend London Pride march
BBC News
Thousands of people are taking to the streets of London for the annual Pride parade. More than 250 groups are taking part in the parade, which started in Baker Street at 13:00 BST. Police said there was extra security on the route following terror attacks in ...
Thousands march for London Pride paradeBusiness Standard
Filipino LGBT community rejoices after US legalizes gay marriageCNN
LGBT rights are good for the tech industry, SF Pride Parade chief saysCNET
The Independent-New Zealand Herald- ITV News
all 349 
news articles »

Eurozone Denies Extension to Greek Bailout 

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(BRUSSELS) — The latest news about the Greek bailout talks (all times local):
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6:10 p.m.
Greece’s finance minister says there is still a chance his country could reach a bailout deal with creditors, despite the latest breakdown in talks.
Eurozone finance ministers on Saturday rejected Greece’s request for an extension to its bailout program so that it could put the creditors’ bailout proposals to a popular vote July 5. Greece’s bailout program expires on Tuesday and it is unclear whether it can support its banks after that date without a deal with creditors.
Yanis Varoufakis says the eurozone finance ministers would continue their meeting without Greece on Saturday night to evaluate the consequences of the recent decisions.
He told reporters, however, that there is still the “possibility of negotiating through the day and through the night and through the day ahead of us in the coming days to improve the agreement.”
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5:40 p.m.
The eurozone’s top official, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, says the bailout program for Greece will expire on Tuesday. The country had requested an extension so that it can hold a referendum July 5 on the reform program demanded by creditors.
Without a bailout program, it is uncertain whether Greece will be able to continue to receive emergency support for its banks.
Dijsselbloem said Saturday at the end of a eurozone finance ministers’ meeting that “however regretful, the program will expire on Tuesday night. That is the latest stage we could have reached an agreement, and it will expire on Tuesday night.”
After Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis left, the 18 remaining ministers are to continue talks in an informal session to see what action to take to assure the continued stability of their shared currency.
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5:25 p.m.
The finance ministers of the eurozone have rejected a Greek request to extend the deadline of its bailout program until after a planned July 5 referendum.
Two eurozone officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because the decision was not yet officially announced, said the finance ministers would continue meeting in an informal session without Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.
One official said there could not be an extension of the program now because there was no basis for cooperation. Many among the 19 eurozone ministers said that they were surprised and disappointed by the announcement of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to seek a referendum.
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2:50 p.m.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says that by calling for a referendum on the creditors’ proposals to keep Greece solvent — and by advising Greeks to reject them — the country appears to have ended the negotiations on its bailout program.
Schaeuble said as he arrived at a meeting with other eurozone finance ministers that “the negotiations apparently have been declared at an end” by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Schaeuble said that “if I understood correctly … we now have no basis for further negotiations.”
He was looking forward to hear what his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis would have to say about the latest developments. “We’ll see what he says. With Greece, apparently you must never rule out surprises,” Schaeuble said. “But to be honest, none of the colleagues I spoke to beforehand sees any possibility for what we can do now.”
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2:35 p.m.
Finland’s finance minister, Alexander Stubb, warns that Greece’s referendum announcement has forced eurozone nations to assess other options if the bailout talks fail.
The referendum decision would require Greece’s creditors, which include eurozone states, to extend the country’s bailout program by a few days.
He says that “there is pretty much a consensus inside the eurogroup that we cannot extend the program as it stands,” he said. “Consequently I would argue that Plan B becomes Plan A,” he said, without elaborating.
(This item has been corrected to show that Stubb did not specify that the eurozone should discuss Greece’s exit from the euro.)
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2:20 p.m.
The EU’s economics and monetary affairs chief, Pierre Moscovici, says the differences between Greece and its creditors can be bridged, and he emphasizes the importance of Greece remaining in the 19-nation euro bloc.
He said before a eurozone finance ministers’ meeting Saturday that “proposals are on the table. These proposals are favorable to Greece, favorable to the Greek people.”
The Greek government has called for a referendum to be held in a week on the creditors’ proposals for reforms in exchange for loans. It has urged the people to vote against the deal, leaving open what would happen to the country in such a case.
Moscovici added: “I see that there are differences, but the differences are quite limited, and they are identified.”
“The place of Greece is in the eurozone and we are working on that.”
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2:15 p.m.
The head of the International Monetary Fund says that Greece’s rescue creditors “will continue to work” for a deal to save the country — even though Athens called for a referendum and advised Greeks to reject the proposals of international creditors.
Christine Lagarde says that the creditors “always showed flexibility to adjust to the new political and economic situation in Greece,” thus rejecting claims from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that his country was facing an ultimatum.
But Lagarde insists Greece needs to do more. “It requires a balanced approach, on the one hand there has to be structural reforms, deep ones, to change the Greek economy, to make it more productive, more efficient so that it generates growth and jobs.”
Once that’s done, “it requires financial support” from the international partners.
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2:10 p.m.
The eurozone’s top official, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, says that Greece has closed the door on further talks to end the standoff with its creditors because it called for a referendum on the proposals of the creditors, with an advice to reject it.
He said before entering a eurozone finance ministers’ meeting Saturday: “I am very disappointed. After our last meeting, the door on our side was still open, but that door has closed on the Greek side.”
Greece has a debt repayment on Tuesday it cannot afford and its bailout program expires the same day. To be able to hold a referendum on July 5, as it has called for the Greek government would need an extension to the bailout program from its creditors. It would also need continued support for its banks from the European Central Bank.
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1:25 p.m.
The Netherlands cautions against granting any more time to Greece, which faces a debt deadline on Tuesday, when it has a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) repayment to make and its bailout program expires.
Dutch state secretary Eric Wiebes said before the start of a eurozone finance ministers’ meeting: “I see no reason for delay. The positions are very clear. We have known the deadline for four months.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a referendum on the creditor’s bailout proposal on July 5, well after the country’s debt deadline. He even advised Greeks to not accept the proposal, leaving it unclear what the country’s prospects would be in such a case.
Wiebes stressed that those involved in the talks must “consider a deadline as a deadline.”
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1:15 p.m.
The head of a major German economic think-tank says the only way Greece could stay in the eurozone if Greeks reject reform conditions in a popular vote next week would be for creditors to agree to debt relief and Greek banks to be rescued without outside help — largely by customers forfeiting part of their deposits.
Clemens Fuest of the Center for European Economic Research says that “that is not practically workable.”
As Greeks withdraw money from cash machines, the banks are under increasing financial strain. So far, the European Central Bank is supporting the Greek banks by allowing them to draw on emergency credit.
Fuest says that, unless Greece puts limits on money withdrawals and transfers, the ECB will face the choice on Monday of accepting the collapse of Greek banks or further expanding the emergency credit.
Fuest says that “only with capital controls from Monday can Greece be given time until July 5 to hold a referendum on the rescue program.”
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11:50 a.m.
Germany’s vice chancellor says that a Greek referendum on the bailout talks could in principle make sense, but notes that it should be clear to voters what they will be deciding on.
Sigmar Gabriel told Deutschlandfunk radio: “We would be well-advised not simply to push this proposal from Mr. Tsipras aside and say that it’s a trick. If the questions are clear — if it’s really clear that they are voting on a program that has been negotiated, it could make sense.”
The agenda of the Greek Parliament showed the referendum would be on a proposal of reforms that creditors offered to Greece on Thursday. Should Greeks reject the proposal, it is unclear what Greece’s options would then be.
Gabriel added: “There must be a clear program. And what he (Tsipras) would like — for Europe to send 20 or 30 billion in aid programs to Greece, but without any conditions — Europe cannot accept.”
He said that “Europe is offering a great deal” and that “many of the tough measures that were being debated at the beginning are off the table.”
He pointed to EU efforts to invest in growth, softening the previous focus on austerity.
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11:30 a.m.
The Greek Parliament will open a debate at noon local time on whether or not to approve the government’s planned referendum on the creditors’ latest proposal for a bailout.
The Parliament has posted Saturday’s agenda on its website, saying it will vote on the referendum at about 7 p.m.
It says the July 5 referendum announced by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras late Friday will be on whether voters approve or reject the bailout proposal submitted by Greece’s creditors Thursday.
The proposal, according to Parliament’s agenda, is made up of two documents: one called “Reforms for the completion of the Current Program and Beyond” and another called “Preliminary debt sustainability analysis.”
Aside for the issue of making these documents accessible to all voters, the Parliament must also deal with a likely contingency of creditors withdrawing those proposals at the Eurogroup meeting later Saturday.
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ISIS Fighters Kill 200 Civilians in Syrian Town

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(BEIRUT)—Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria fighters who launched a surprise attack on a Syrian border town massacred more than 200 civilians, including women and children, before they were killed and driven out by Kurdish forces, activists said on Saturday.
Kurdish activist Mustafa Bali, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Kurdish official Idris Naasan put at 40-50 the number of elite IS fighters killed in the two days of fighting since the militants sneaked into the town of Kobani before dawn on Thursday.
Clashes, however, continued to the south and west of the predominantly Kurdish town on the Turkish border on Saturday, they said, although the fighting in the south quietened down by nightfall.
Naasan said 23 of the city’s Kurdish defenders were killed in the fighting, but the Observatory put the number at 16. The discrepancy could not immediately be reconciled, but conflicting casualty figures are common in the aftermath of major fighting.
“Kobani has been completely cleared of Daesh, and Kurdish forces are now combing the town looking for fighters who may have gone into hiding,” Bali, using the Arabic acronym for the IS, told The Associated Press by telephone from Kobani. The official Syrian news agency, SANA, also reported that Kobani has been cleared of IS fighters.
The more than 200 civilians killed in the last two days include some who perished in IS suicide bombings, including one at the border crossing with Turkey, but they were mostly shot dead in cold blood, some in their own homes, the activists said.
“They were revenge killings,” Rami Abdurrahman, the observatory’s director, told the AP.
Others were caught in the cross-fire as gun battles raged in the town’s streets or were randomly targeted by IS snipers on rooftops.
Bali, Abdurrahman and Naasan all said the number of Kobani civilians and IS fighters killed was likely to rise as rescue teams continue to search neighborhoods where the fighting took place.
Massacring civilians is not an uncommon practice by the Islamic State group, whose men have slaughtered thousands in Syria and neighboring Iraq over the last year, when its fighters blitzed through large swathes of territory and declared a caliphate that spans both nations.
The Islamic State group often posts on social media networks gruesome images of its fighters executing captives as part of psychological warfare tactics designed to intimidate and inspire desertions among their enemies. Last week, it posted one of its most gruesome video clips, showing the execution of 16 men it claimed to have been spies. Five of the men were drowned in a cage, four were burned inside a car and seven were blown up by explosives.
The killing of so many civilians in Kobani, according to Abdurrahman, was premeditated and meant by the Islamic State to avenge their recent defeats at the hands of Kurdish forces.
The Western-backed Kurdish forces have emerged as a formidable foe of the extremist group, rolling them back in the north and northeast parts of Syria, where the Kurds are the dominant community, as well as in northern Iraq, where they have also made significant gains against the IS.
Kobani has become a symbol of Kurdish resistance after it endured a months-long siege by the Islamic State group before Kurdish forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, broke through and drove the militants out in January.
Thursday’s surprise attack on the town and a simultaneous one targeting the remote northeastern town of Hassakeh came one day after the Islamic State group called for a wave of violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and piety that is now in its second week.
“You Muslims, take the initiative and rush to jihad, rise up you mujahideen everywhere, push forward and make Ramadan a month of calamities for the nonbelievers,” IS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said in an audio message released Tuesday.
In what also appears to be a response to that call, terror attacks took place Friday across three continents: shootings in a Tunisian beach resort that left 39 people dead, an explosion and a beheading in a U.S.-owned chemical warehouse in southeast France and a suicide bombing by an Islamic State affiliate at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait that killed at least 27 worshippers.
The attacks also came after the group suffered a series of setbacks over the past two weeks, including the loss last week of the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad — one of the group’s main points for bringing in foreign fighters and supplies.
Fighting is continuing in Hassakeh for the third successive day, with government and Kurdish forces separately fighting IS militants who have seized several neighborhoods in the mostly Kurdish town, according to the Observatory. Forces loyal to embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad have brought in reinforcements from the town of Deir el-Zour to the south while the Syrian air force pounded IS positions inside the town.
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U.S., allies target Islamic State in Syria with 14 air strikes

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. and coalition forces launched 14 air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and seven in Iraq on Friday, the U.S. military said, amid reports the militant group killed 145 civilians in the town of Kobani.
  

On ISIS’ Terms: Courting a Young American

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For months, Alex had been growing closer to a new group of friends online – the kindest she had ever had – who were teaching her what it meant to be a Muslim.
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ISIS and the Lonely Young American 

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For months, Alex had been growing closer to a new group of friends online – the kindest she had ever had – who were teaching her what it meant to be a Muslim.

Suspect in Attack in France Had Ties to Radical Islamist

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Yassine Salhi, who the authorities say decapitated his boss before setting off an explosion at a chemical plant on Friday, belonged to the circle around a radical Islamist.

University won't take back 'sexist' scientist: More Nobel winners back Sir Tim Hunt but ex-boss say gender equality comes first

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Professor Michael Arthur, president and provost of University College London, broke his silence over the row and ruled out reversing his decision to accept Sir Tim Hunt’s resignation.

Drone flies abortion pills to Poland

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A Dutch women's rights group uses a drone to fly abortion pills into Poland, in protest at the country's restrictive laws.

Armenia suspends power price hike

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The president of Armenia suspends an increase in electricity prices, but protesters who have held days of demonstrations remain on the streets.

Some gay marriage opponents balk, while couples rush to wed

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CINCINNATI (AP) -- With the mayor of Dayton declaring "you are now husband and husband," the wait for Ohio to allow same-sex marriage ended for a gay couple in the city just as it is ending for couples across the last states with bans on such unions - even if the opposition isn't over....
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US same-sex marriage ruling likely to impact other countries

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LONDON (AP) -- The landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriages has no legal force outside the United States, but gay rights activists in many parts of the world believe the court ruling will help their cause....

Terror on the beach: Tourists recount Tunisia attack horrors

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SOUSSE, Tunisia (AP) -- Tunisia's postcard destination for tourists is reeling from the terror that blighted another day of play at the Mediterranean seaside resort of Sousse. A man armed with a Kalashnikov and grenades gunned down tourists on a private beach, and then moved methodically through the grounds of a luxury hotel - to the swimming pool, reception area and offices....

Deadly Blasts Hit Baghdad; Fugitive Baathist Captured

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A series of attacks targeting public places killed 12 people in Baghdad on Saturday, Iraqi authorities said, as the prime minister announced the arrest of an aide to Saddam Hussein.

Rush of Same-Sex Marriages Follows US Supreme Court Ruling

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Gay couples have been celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage with spontaneous weddings and gatherings across the United States, while some conservative politicians and religious groups are demanding stronger legal protections for those wishing to avoid endorsing those unions. Marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples minutes after the ruling in at least eight states in the South and Midwest where gay marriage was previously banned. In...

GOP WH Hopefuls Deride Gay Marriage Ruling

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GOP presidential hopefuls deride gay marriage ruling, but differ on what to do about it

Is Tunisia the next hotbed of terror activity?

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Once a bright spot of democratic success, Tunisia is now "facing a growing sense of terrorist threat and dread," an expert says
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U.S., eyeing Russia, urges NATO allies to harden cyber defenses

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World | Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:49pm EDT
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (R) chat after a family photo, following a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC)  in Defense Ministers session at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 24, 2015. NATO defence ministers met in Brussels on Wednesday, where they were expected to discuss security in the eastern European region as well as budgetary matters. REUTERS/Eric Vidal
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (R) chat after a family photo, following a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in Defense Ministers session at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 24, 2015. NATO defence...
Reuters/Eric Vidal
BRUSSELS U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter urged NATO allies on Wednesday to strengthen their cyber defenses, a senior U.S. defense official said, citing an advanced threat from Russia.
Cyber vulnerabilities within NATO have come into focus following Russia's annexation of Crimea last year, which raised concerns about unconventional warfare techniques that can range from use of unidentified troops to information campaigns.
A major cyber attack on a NATO member by any adversary could trigger a collective response by the alliance, perhaps extending beyond cyberspace.
"In his message today, (Carter) underscored the importance of cyber defense – both of NATO networks and critical infrastructure," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that many NATO members were vulnerable.
Carter said ensuring a strong cyber defense was more important than developing offensive capabilities, according to the official.
ESTONIAN EXPERIENCE
The United States in April disclosed a cyber intrusion this year by Russian hackers it said had accessed an unclassified U.S. military network. The Pentagon's new cyber strategy document singles out Russian cyber actors for their stealth.
Carter, during a trip to Estonia, announced on Tuesday a new U.S. initiative meant to bolster NATO members' defenses. The effort would be coordinated through an Estonia-based, NATO-accredited cyber center and would include planning to better protect critical infrastructure. [ID:nL3N0Z93XL]
Estonia, which borders Russia, is acutely aware of the cyber challenge. When the ex-Soviet Baltic state fell victim to a cyber attack in 2007 and blamed Moscow, the Kremlin responded that it could not always control patriotic Russian hackers.
"You absolutely should look at what the secretary announced through the lens of trying to deter Russia and bolster the resilience of NATO partner nations. The Russians are very good at cyber," the defense official said.
Carter's plan involves bolstering the role of NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia and working with it to help allies develop cyber defense strategies.
"We want to have the center of excellence become less academic and less like a think-tank and more active and involved in doing real things," the official said, noting past efforts in the Gulf and east Asia.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart)
REUTERS/Beawiharta
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Obama Ignores Red Line Amid Chinese...

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