Thursday, October 15, 2015

Containing The Putin Syndicate

Containing The Putin Syndicate

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Russia's aggressive international posture over the past couple years has led a number of Kremlin-watchers and policy analysts to call for the revival of the Cold War policy of containment. But what does that mean in today's globalized world?

Russia 'tried to cut off' World Wide Web 

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A failed experiment to cut Russia from the World Wide Web stokes fears of Chinese-style online censorship

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Despite exposure, new nations joining cyberespionage game

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LONDON (AP) -- Researchers say some smaller, poorer nations are now using spy software, suggesting that recent data leaks and lawsuits have not deterred governments from investing in off-the-shelf cyberespionage products....

October 15, 2015

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A look at the best news photos from around the world.

Iran meets deadline, opens path to adoption of nuclear deal

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The U.N. nuclear agency will be able to deliver an assessment of the suspicions that Iran worked on atomic weapons by Dec. 15, as planned, it said Thursday.

World Briefing: Ukraine and Japan Among Latest Members of U.N. Security Council 

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The two countries, along with Egypt, Senegal and Uruguay, won two-year seats alongside the Council’s permanent members, which include Russia and China.
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Netanyahu ‘Perfectly Open’ to Meeting with Abbas to End Unrest 

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(JERUSALEM) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said he would be “perfectly open” to meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in order to end weeks of Israeli-Palestinian unrest.
The Palestinian president has ignited an uproar in Israel after falsely claiming that Israel had “executed” a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who is recovering in an Israeli hospital, drawing new accusations that he is inciting violence at a time of heightened tensions.
Netanyahu told reporters he has been speaking to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other leaders about meeting with Abbas.
“I’d be perfectly open to it now,” he said.
“I think it’s potentially useful because it might stop the wave of incitement and false allegations against Israel,” he said. “I’d be open to meeting with Arab leaders and the Palestinian leadership in order to stop this incitement and set the record straight.”
The Palestinian boy, who was run over by an Israeli vehicle after involvement in the stabbing of an Israeli boy, has become the center of heated, high-level name-calling between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders — reflecting the abyss between them after a monthlong spike in deadly violence.
Abbas said in a televised speech late Wednesday that Israel is engaged in the “summary execution of our children in cold blood” and wrongly claimed that 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra was among those killed. Netanyahu swiftly accused Abbas of “lies and incitement.”
The case has become a lightning rod for both sides, as they trade accusations in an increasingly charged atmosphere. Netanyahu has repeatedly alleged that Abbas is inciting Palestinians to violence against Israel, a claim denied by the Palestinian leader. Abbas says Israel has been using excessive force against Palestinians.
In the past month, eight Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. During the same period, 31 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 14 identified by Israel as attackers, and the others in clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli troops.
On Monday, Ahmed and his 15-year-old cousin Hassan stabbed and seriously wounded two Israelis, including a 13-year-old boy, in Jerusalem. Hassan was shot dead by police while Ahmed was struck by a car after the attack.
Amateur video widely circulated on Palestinian social media sites showed the wounded Ahmed lying on the ground after being struck, his legs splayed and a pool of blood near his head. Bystanders are heard cursing the boy in Hebrew and yelling at him, “Die!” The images, which made no mention of the stabbing, have enraged many Palestinians.
Israel’s Hadassah Hospital, which is treating the boy, issued a statement Tuesday saying that “in stark contrast to circulating rumors,” he was stable and “fully conscious.”
In a speech to parliament that day, Netanyahu cited the Palestinian images as evidence of Palestinian incitement. “He tried to kill and murder,” Netanyahu said of the boy. “But the complete opposite is presented in a twisted way.”
Then on Wednesday, Israel released security camera footage that appears to show the two Manasra cousins wielding knives and chasing a terrified man through the streets of Pisgat Zeev, a Jewish area of east Jerusalem. The video moves to a shot of the boy who was stabbed standing in a candy store, getting on his bicycle and then crumbling over and falling off his bike after the attack. In a final scene, the older boy is seen being confronted by two armed policemen along a railway track. He lunges at the officers and is shot.
Abbas’ latest speech was aimed at his domestic audience and appeared to be an attempt to regain some of his standing, amid mounting criticism at home that he had been too conciliatory toward Israel. Behind the scenes, Abbas has been urging his security commanders to clamp down on violence, saying attacks on Israelis counter Palestinian interests.
But in public, he has adopted a tougher tone, drawing Israeli accusations that his rhetoric is stirring up the violence.
“We will not give in to the logic of brute force and policies of occupation and aggression practiced by the Israeli government and its herds of settlers who engage in terrorism against our people and our holy places and our homes and our trees, and the summary execution of our children in cold blood, as they did with the child Ahmed Manasra and other children in Jerusalem and other places,” he said in Wednesday’s address.
Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said Abbas’ comments were a result of inaccurate information.
“We thought in the beginning that he (Ahmed) was killed,” Erekat said. “Then the information we had was that he is clinically dead.”
There appeared to be no attempt by Abbas’ office to set the record straight. Instead, it accused Israel of inciting against the Palestinian leader.
Erekat said Abbas was trying to underscore claims that Israel is wrongfully killing Palestinians being accused of carrying out attacks.
“There could have been many ways to arrest those people, but they chose to shoot in order to kill, and this is what happened in many cases,” he said, calling for an international investigation.
Abbas’ claims caused a strong reaction in Israel.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement that “truth isn’t relative.”
“You can’t turn a murderer into a victim and blame the victim that he tried to protect himself,” he said.
Israeli commentator Ben Caspit wrote in the Maariv daily said that Abbas’ “lie makes us despair.”
“It’s hard to ignore it and move on,” he wrote. “How can the shrinking peace camp in Israel continue to believe that it is possible to reach agreement, to hold a dialogue, to have coexistence with a society that is incapable of telling the truth, even to itself?”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Thursday published Twitter photos of Ahmed in his hospital bed.
“The ‘murdered Palestinian martyr,” a few minutes ago at Hadassah Hospital,” a ministry statement said sarcastically. Later, the Israeli Government Press Office released video showing the boy in his hospital bed being fed by a male nurse.
Dr. Asher Salmon, the deputy director of Hadassah, said the boy is in “light to moderate condition,” and that he could expect to be discharged in coming days.
Israel has beefed up security across the country in response to the unrest. On Thursday, the military said it would deploy 300 soldiers in the streets of Jerusalem to help police maintain order.
It said the soldiers will help guard public transportation and the city’s main arteries. They will be deployed on Sunday. Israel has already sent thousands of additional police officers to Jerusalem and erected a series of checkpoints in Palestinian neighborhoods of the city.
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Israeli officials reject US criticism of ‘excessive’ force

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Israeli officials responded angrily Thursday to U.S. suggestions it might be using excessive force in response to a series of stabbing attacks by Palestinians, and also sharply contested claims by Palestinians that a 13-year-old assailant had been killed this week after stabbing and wounding an Israeli boy.

Netanyahu Slams State Dept on Excessive Force Allegations

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the U.S. State Department’s allegations that Israel is using excessive force to fight terrorism Thursday, saying that the allegations are unfair, false, and justify Palestinian terrorism.
“This allegation is totally false. It’s also utterly unfair, because it’s so obviously, patently false,” he said.
When asked whether Israel was worried about losing the support of its allies because of the State Department’s concerns, Netanyahu said that Israel is using the amount of legitimate force necessary to protect its citizens against the threat of terrorism.
“Israel is using exactly the kind and the amount of legitimate force that any one of those governments would use if they had people wielding knives, meat cleavers, axes, trying to kill people on their streets,” he said.
Netanyahu said that if America, or any other country were facing the threat of terrorism, they would protect their citizens just as Israel is.
“What do you think would happen in New York if you saw people rushing into crowds trying to murder people? You think they would do anything different than what we are doing? They might, actually, but certainly not less,” he said.
The Prime Minister added that the State Department’s allegations of excessive force give terrorists yet another justification for killing innocent Israelis.
“The mere fact that this is brought up as a possible explanation gives the terrorists a justification that they don’t even use,” he said. “They might now, but they haven’t up to now. And that tells you a lot.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the “massive increase” in so-called Israeli settlements has also fed Palestinian “frustration.” State Department spokesperson John Kirby bolstered Kerry’s accusation, saying Wednesday that Israelis are guilty of terrorism.
In the last month, Israel has faced a wave of Palestinian violence, including a string of knife murders and the shooting of an Israeli couple in front of their four children.
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The Iranian Majlis Ratified Its Own “Amended” Version of the Nuclear Accord

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October 15, 2015, 9:36 PM (IDT)
The Iranian parliament “tailored” the nuclear accord to give Tehran free rein to resume its nuclear program in full or hold out for more concessions.

Syrian Kurds’ Wants Autonomy Guaranteed for Helping to Vanquish ISIS

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October 15, 2015, 9:36 PM (IDT)
The Syrian Kurds are playing hardball with Russia and the US, demanding heavy weapons and guarantee of autonomy as the price for helping either of them to beat ISIS.

Cuban Troops Join Iranian Guards in Russian-led Battle to Capture Ghab Plain

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October 15, 2015, 9:36 PM (IDT)
Putin has gathered in fighting proxies for Syria from Cuba to augment Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah troops ready for the major Ghab offensive now in preparation.
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Russia Is Still a Very Long Way from Raqqa

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October 15, 2015, 9:36 PM (IDT)
Putin like Obama refuses to commit his own ground troops to Syria and so while rounding up Cuban and Iranian proxy fighters, he is courting Arab sponsors of anti-Assad rebels to switch sides.

Today's Headlines and Commentary

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America’s longest war just got a little bit longer (as seems to happen every 12 to 18 months).
Earlier today, President Obama announced that he will slow the pace of U.S. troop withdrawal and leave 5,500 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan following his departure from office. The force would remain at 9,800 through “most of 2016.” Under the new formulation, American operations will primarily consist of training and advising Afghan security personnel, paying particular attention to its counterterrorism forces. In addition, the United States will also maintain a significant counterterrorism capability of its own, including drones and special operations forces, in order to strike any militant groups that pose a threat to the United States.
A reversal or prior policy, “the move reflected a painful, if predictable, reality on the ground in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have made gains over the last year as Afghan troops have taken over the vast majority of the fighting.” In his remarks, the president referred to Afghan forces' struggles with the resurgent Taliban as one of the reasons for the shift in policy. The decision comes after “an extensive months-long review that included regular discussions with Afghanistan’s leaders, his national security team and U.S. commanders in the field.” The New York Times has more on the decision.
The Times also reports that President Obama has ordered 300 American troops to Cameroon to aid in the fight against Boko Haram. According to the Washington Post, the troops will set up a drone base to provide “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance” to aid Western African soldiers, but will refrain from engaging in more robust military action. The United States has been supporting the Nigerian government in its fight against the terrorist group, but is now ramping up its own efforts to confront Boko Haram.
For more breaking drone news, the Intercept has a visually impressive and information-rich collection of new and secret documents on the United States’ targeted killing program. Make sure to check out their series, “The Drone Papers.”
In light of continuing violence and newly introduced security measures, Jerusalem has become more polarized, the Times suggestsHaaretz also tells us that Israel will reduce gun regulations, thus overturning a "policy of recent years to limit civilian firearms possession." The Israeli government isencouraging citizens to "be vigilant" and to carry a gun if legally owned. Many view the move as likely to encourage instead of suppress the violence. State Department spokesman John Kirby cautionedIsrael against the excessive use of force, sparking anger from Israeli politicians.
Al Jazeera writes that, in his first address to Palestinians since the beginning of the violence,“[President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud] Abbas said in a recorded televised speech he supported a ‘peaceful and popular’ struggle against Israel. Israeli politicians have accused Abbas of inciting violence after he suggested that a Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli police despite Israel’s assurance that the boy was alive and well in a hospital.
The United States continues to try to diffuse tensions as Washington fears further escalation. TheWall Street Journal tells us that Secretary of State John Kerry is set to visit the region in hopes of renewing dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian officials and crafting the outline of a potential new peace plan. The State Department, however, has tried to lower expectations, noting that the talks are unlikely to lead to a peace process and are instead aimed at trying to “reduce the violence” and “restore some sense of calm.”  
Meanwhile, Foreign Policy asks if it is possible to prevent a Third Intifada and analyzes the recent violence, its underlying causes, and its implications. In considering the bleak outlook of the two-state solution and the political frustrations on both sides, FP writes that “perhaps the best way to describe the violence is, simply, ‘the future.’”
Syrian ground troops and Russian air forces have targeted rebel towns in northern Homs with “concentrated airstrikes and heavy preparatory artillery shelling on the terrorist groupings,” per Reuters. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes have resulted in at least 25 civilian casualties. A Syrian military source quoted in the Reuters piece responded to the claims of civilian deaths by saying that “Syrian forces and Russian jets do not target areas where civilians are present” and by accusing “al Qaeda's wing in Syria, the Nusra Front, of carrying out a massacre on Thursday so it could blame the deaths on the bombardment.”
The Post reports that hundreds of Iranian troops from the elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps have arrived in Aleppo for the coming assault. The direct deployment of troops represents a departure from Iran’s traditional provision of military advisors to the beleaguered Syrian forces. And the Long War Journal writes that, in a major turn of events, Quds force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani has been spotted “addressing Iranian military officers and members of Lebanese Hezbollah in western Syria.” While an Iranian news agency maintains that “only some Iranian military advisers, whose mission is to provide consultations and nothing more, are present in Syria,” thousands of Iranian troops are estimated to be in the country.  
The Journal writes that a Russian fighter jet approached a U.S. aircraft over the weekend for identification purposes, highlighting concerns over a potential conflict between U.S. and Russian aircraft. Despite the ongoing deconfliction discussions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lamented Western refusal for further cooperation suggesting that while “it’s hurtful,” Russia is “prepared to go much further, to coordinate much more deeply.”
The Times suggests that “the operation in Syria — still relatively limited — has become, in effect, a testing ground for an increasingly confrontational and defiant Russia under Mr. Putin” as Russia tests out their operational and military capabilities. Accordingly, Putin has used the conflict to demonstrate new weaponry, tactics, and strategy designed to underscore his accomplishments in reshaping the Russian military into a major power. The Times also updated their maps to show the locations that U.S. and Russian air strikes have targeted.
Amid fear over growing relations between the United States and Kurdish forces in Syria, Turkeyvoiced concern over what the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu calls “any kind of cooperation with terror organizations that have declared war against Turkey.” Following reports of a U.S. airdrop of 50 tons of ammunition to Kurdish fighters in Syria, he suggested that any weapons supplied to Kurdish forces could be used against Turkey. The Times also reports on Turkey’s concern over the growing support for Kurdish forces, writing that “the United States has long backed the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., going back to the battle last year for the city of Kobani, but it now appears that Russia may be cozying up to the group.”
Defense One suggests that Russian actions in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine are pushing “the Pentagon to rewrite Its European playbook” in order to include new factors such as hybrid warfare and cyber challenges. Russia has also caused the Pentagon to revise its plan to reduce NATO troop levels in Europe. Instead, the Pentagon is “increasingly deploying forces to Europe on a temporary, rotational basis to train and exercise with NATO allies.”
And NATO itself might be looking to expand once again to include Montenegro, the Post tells us. NATO officials visited the Balkan country to determine whether the country has progressed on reforms necessary to join the alliance. For its part, the United States has suggested that it would back Montenegro’s bid to join NATO if the country can “show an improvement in its corruption problems and prove NATO membership enjoys popular support in the country.”
In light of the Dutch report that concluded that a Russian-manufactured missile was responsible for the downing of MH17, Ukrainian rebel leaders have unsurprisingly rejected the report, suggesting that it "hadn't been carried out properly at all." Read more at the BBC. 
From the Times: Iran’s Guardian Council approved the the nuclear deal concluded by the P5+1 and Tehran in July, setting the wheels in motion for the country to implement the deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani predicted that the process of modifying nuclear facilities to comply with the terms of the deal would take about two months. Following International Atomic Energy Agency verification that the necessary steps were completed, international nuclear sanctions against Iran will be lifted. Meanwhile, Reuters reports of French concern that Iran’s testing of a new long-range missile violated a U.N. resolution barring the country from testing and deploying new ballistic missile technology.
In another bit of troubling news, Radio Free Europe reports that China is seeking deeper military ties with Iran, after a senior admiral in the Chinese PLA met with Tehran’s defense minister “to further promote friendship, deepen cooperation, and exchange views with Iran on bilateral military ties and issues of mutual concern.”
And as tensions over China's artificial islands grow, the Times writes that “China is engaging in some serious image-building for its own military by hosting two international security forums this week.”Beijing will host its first ASEAN meeting and the Xiangshan Forum, where analysts and military leaders “will grapple with Asian-Pacific security, maritime issues and anti-terrorism.”
Defense One challenges the notion that Beijing’s recent hacking arrests will prevent cyber espionage, suggesting that “[Chinese President] Xi will call off the government hacking teams but turn a blind eye to closely-knit criminal groups doing the same work.
The government of Myanmar and eight ethnic rebel groups signed a ceasefire agreement designed to end over six decades of fighting that has cost thousands of livesAl Jazeera reports. The agreement could help foster development in some of the regions particularly affected by the violence. The State Department suggested that the accord represents “a critical first step in a long process of building a sustainable and just peace in Burma,” according to Voice of America. Despite the progress, a handful of more powerful groups have not joined the pact, suggesting that fighting could continue.
According to the Times, the Obama administration is considering a deal with Pakistan designed to limit the latter's rapidly growing nuclear arsenal. According to U.S. officials, the administration may be open to relaxing restrictions on the sale of nuclear-related technology to Pakistan in exchange for limits on the deployment of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons similar to what the United States deployed in Europe to deter a potential Soviet invasion. The smaller weapons may be much harder to secure against falling into the wrong hands; they also complicate escalation control, in the event of a crisis on the sub-continent.
Yesterday, Assistant Attorney General John Carlin announced that the Department of Justice has created a new office to coordinate investigations into cases of domestic terrorism. Carlin said that the new office would “identify trends to help shape our strategy, and to analyze legal gaps or enhancements required to ensure we can combat these threats.” Carlin made clear that the new office comes as the FBI’s concern over inspired lone wolf attacks, as opposed to foreign directed attacks, grows in light of a spate of recent shootings around the country. The Hill has more.
The Hill also reports that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced an amendment to the upcoming Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA) that would increase the penalty for people convicted of acting as part of a conspiracy to spread a botnet. His amendment would allow prosecutors to seek up to 20 years for individuals who arm a computer connected to critical infrastructure.
Parting shot: Can’t find something to fill your time before the next season of Game of Thrones?Chinese bloggers bring us a modest recommendation: a 45-part drama on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s life in rural China during the Cultural Revolution. Enjoy!
ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare
Aaron Zelin shared the Jihadology Podcast, in which Will McCants makes an appearance to talk jihadi governance and his new book, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State.
Stewart Baker brought us the latest Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast featuring Lawfare’s own Jack Goldsmith on cyber espionage, safe harbor, and how the globalized economy has tied U.S. government’s hands.  
Cody linked to the War Powers letter sent by President Obama informing Congress that he would deploy 300 U.S. soldiers to Cameroon to operate a drone base targeting Boko Haram.
David Forscey argued that it is time for Congress to declassify the legislative negotiations over the FISA Amendments Act.
Ben announced the addition of three new Lawfare contributors! While they shouldn’t be strangers to regular readers, please join us in welcoming Naz Modirzadeh, Nicholas Weaver, and Andrew Woods to the Lawfare Clubhouse.
And in that vein, Nick Weaver asked, “Can Technologists Talk Lawfare?,” answering that for the good of both policymakers and technology, it’s a conversation that necessary.
Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us onTwitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.
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PBS NewsHour full episode October 14, 2015 

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From: PBSNewsHour
Duration: 54:36

Wednesday on the NewsHour, violence and tension surge in Israel. Also: The winners of the first Democratic debate, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer discusses his new book, Ta-Nehisi Coates and his take on race relations, California's sequoias suffer from the state’s historic drought, one man’s mission to protect Congo’s gorillas and the Sartorialist offers his take on the power of fashion.

Sky Debate: US v Russia in Syria 

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From: skynews
Duration: 27:19

Sky's Martin Stanford Debates Who's fighting whom in Syria, as both Russia and America increase their firepower in the proxy war. Plus, the first Democrat Debate gets tough on guns.. as well as Syria, Wall Street and THOSE emails.
Ivo Daalder, President of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former US Ambassador to NATO.
Bob Weiner, National Democratic Strategist and former Clinton White House spokesman.
Armstrong Williams. Conservative Commentator.
Jeffrey Robinson. Democrat Commentator.
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Obama Celebrates American Music In East Room

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From: AssociatedPress
Duration: 01:47

President Barack Obama on Wednesday night celebrated what he called one of the country's most precious gifts: "American creativity." (Oct. 15)
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Russia continues bombing Syria: Iran providing more troops

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From: ReutersVideo
Duration: 01:50

UN pushes for local ceasefires in Syria as Russia and Iran step up involvement in the country’s civil war. Sean Carberry reports.
Reuters tells the world's stories like no one else. As the largest international multimedia news provider, Reuters provides coverage around the globe and across topics including business, financial, national, and international news. For over 160 years, Reuters has maintained its reputation for speed, accuracy, and impact while providing exclusives, incisive commentary and forward-looking analysis.
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Unseen Cuba: Gorgeous Aerial Photos of the Forbidden Island

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"Unseen Cuba" author Marius Jovaisa spent five years arranging to take aerial photography of the island. He visits Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero to show some of his most spectacular photographs. Photo: Marius Jovaisa

Obama Halts Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal

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 President Obama has decided — following a strategy review — to maintain the current American force of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of next year, and to leave a force of 5,500 U.S. troops in the country in 2017, when he leaves office. Why the change in plans? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

US, Russia finalizing document on Syria air safety: US official - Reuters

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