Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Today's Headlines and Commentaryby Elina Saxena, Cody M. Poplin

Today's Headlines and Commentary

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Breaking news in drone bases: President Barack Obama sent a War Powers letter to Congress today noting that as of October 12th, 2015, approximately 90 U.S. troops had deployed to Cameroon to “conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region.” Quoting White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, Molly O’Toole reports that the deployment was not determined by a “triggering event” but instead is based on continued support to confront Boko Haram. The Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock shares that U.S. drones in Cameroon will be unarmed. In total, approximately 300 U.S. troops are expected to deploy.
And for those keeping track at home, in addition to Cameroon, the U.S.’s Africa drone network now consists of assets in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger, and Sicily (for North Africa/Libya).
Assad’s forces are on the march in Syria. According to an exclusive Reuters report, the Syrian army, accompanied by Iranian and Hezbollah troops, are preparing to launch a ground offensive under the cover of Russian air strikes against insurgents in Aleppo. The latest maneuver is expected to build on the nascent alliance’s recently launched assault in Hama province. Two senior officials divulged that thousands of Iranian troops had arrived in the country to take part in offensives designed to take back territory from rebel groups aligned against the Assad regime. The AP confirms the now open presence of Iranian forces, claiming that there are around 1,500 Iranian troops in the country with more arriving daily.
But as Tehran engages more directly in the battle for Syria, it is rapidly bleeding talent. Al Jazeeratells us that two more commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have been killed in Syria. The Daily Beast sums up the situation: “If the goal is to secure an Assad-led coastal Syrian rump-state, it is coming at a high cost to Assad’s Iranian ally.” Phillip Smyth covers some of the exploits of the recently killed commanders, outlining just how much their loss may mean for Tehran in the long run.
Yet as Assad’s forces mount their next assault, the United States is doing little to protect CIA-backed rebels on the ground. According to the Obama administration, the U.S. will be doing more equipping than training from now on, but many rebels on the ground are skeptical that the weapons will make it to them. Why? The United States has shown that it has no appetite for a broader proxy war with Russia at the moment, meaning that barring Turkish and Gulf state support, moderate rebels who remain are likely to be on their own this round. The U.S. continues to deliver TOW anti-tank missiles but, the AP notes, these will do little to keep Russian and Syrian jets away. Elsewhere, Al Jazeeradiscusses the confusion on the ground, where one Free Syrian Army commander says that “since the beginning of the revolution the U.S. has given nothing but promises.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the United States and Russia will hold a third round of deconfliction talks today, the Wall Street Journal reports. Secretary Carter called on Russia to changed its “failing strategy,” saying that “we’re not able at this time to associate ourselves more broadly with Russia’s approach.” His remarks came as Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the United States for a lack of cooperation in Syria, suggesting the U.S.-led coalition had “mush for brains.” Putin told reporters that Russia had asked the United States for the positions of rebel forces they should not target, but had received “no answer.” For their part, American officials fear that Putin would use rebel coordinates to target the groups, not avoid them.
In Boston, Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russia that its support for Assad was likely to attract more extremists to the fight. His remarks came after the head of the al Nusra Front, an al Qaeda-affiliate in Syria, called on supporters to carry out retaliatory attacks against Russia. The Timesreports that in an initial sign of potential blowback, two mortar shells struck the grounds of the Russian Embassy in Damascus yesterday. While there were no reports of casualties, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the shelling “an obvious act of terrorism.”
Reuters reports that in Iraq, the Iraqi army and volunteer militia fighters have launched an operation to retake the northern city of Baiji from the Islamic State. Baiji, which is near Mosul, is the country’s largest oil refinery. A military spokesman said that under the cover of U.S. airstrikes, Iraqi forces had managed to enter the center of the city.
The AP shares that, according to Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, Iraqi ground forces are now in position to retake the city of Ramadi, which is the capital of Anbar province. According to Col. Warren, Iraqi Security Forces are now within nine miles of the city’s outer suburbs and the coalition is entering the “decisive phase” of the operation. The Islamic State captured Ramadi back in July, prompting Secretary of Defense Carter to say that the Iraqis had “no will to fight.” The operation to retake Ramadi has been slowed by a sophisticated system of improvised explosive devices scattered around the city. 
While Iraqi forces advance and the United States recalibrates its approach in Syria, Foreign Policyretells us about a new report from Amnesty International.  The latter finds that Kurdish fighters may have committed war crimes, citing instances of “forced displacement, demolitions and confiscation of civilian property.” One farmer told Amnesty researchers that Kurdish forces threatened to tell the United States that his family was Islamic State if he did not leave his home.
Turkish police have named the two suicide bombers behind Saturday’s attacks. The Guardianreports that the pair were identified by DNA analysis from samples left at the attack site and were both “on a list of 21 potential suicide bombers compiled by the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation;" the latter tallied suspected members of an ISIS cell from the Turkish city of Adıyaman. One of the bombers named was the brother of another ISIS suicide bomber who killed 33 activists in the town of Suruc in July.
Days after the attack that left almost 100 dead in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğanadmitted to an intelligence failure and announced that Turkish authorities would investigate. Following the president’s admission, Turkey’s interior ministry suspended Ankara’s police, intelligence and security chiefs. Turkish authorities detained two Twitter users who had tweeted about a possible bombing in Ankara and suggested that the two were connected to Kurdish rebels.
According to the Journal, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu claimed that both the Islamic State and Kurdish rebels had been involved in the attack, an allegation that critics have dismissed as a political ploy. He also warned the United States and Russia against arming Syrian Kurdish rebels and suggested that Turkey considers supporting “PKK offshoots” as a direct threat to Turkey.
Despite the PKK’s unilateral ceasefire, Turkish forces have continued to fight the group, killing ten PKK militants near the country’s southeastern border. Calling into question the possibility of a peaceful settlement, Al Monitor describes the Turkish government’s snub of the current ceasefire as well as the nine others declared unilaterally by the PKK since the group began fighting Turkish forces in 1984. Optimistically, the paper suggests that maybe the tenth try will be the charm. Defense Onehighlights the various conflicts present between factions within Turkey today.
Israel is ramping up security efforts as violence continues throughout the country. The Journalreports that hundreds of Israeli troops will deploy in response to the uptick of violent attacks against Israeli citizens. Reuters also tells us that Israeli security forces have erected roadblocks in Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem. The Times points out how “leaderless Palestinian youths” are being driven to violence by social media, distinguishing the current surge in violence from the Second Intifada, “whose suicide bombings were orchestrated by well-organized armed groups.”
In the midst of this violence, Haaretz writes that Secretary of State John Kerry is planning to visit the region in hopes to ease tensions. The effort may represent his “most direct efforts to broker peace between the two sides since talks led by the United States failed last year.”
The United States is expected to discuss the question of Iran’s recent testing of a new precision-guided ballistic missile at the U.N. Security Council after suggesting that the test was a violation of a UNSC resolution.
As the AP reports that 29 Afghan border police were killed near Kandahar during three days of fighting the Taliban, the Post describes the Islamic State’s “new age of brutality” as it spreads to Afghanistan. In light of growing threats to the country, President Obama is considering plans to slow or halt the withdrawal of American troops. The Times outlines the various plans the president is considering, suggesting that an option under serious review is to keep 3,000 to 5,000 troops for counterterrorism. The Times also highlights the Taliban’s targeted attacks against women in Kunduz; women’s centers and organizations have been singled out by Taliban forces during its 15 day capture of the city.
The Post discusses a joint U.N.-Afghan report that suggests a decline in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan for the first time in six years. Largely due to poor weather conditions, the downtick has corresponded to a 48% decrease in opium production. Officials also claim that campaigns against poppy cultivation led to the decline in production.
A former Pakistani defense minister appeared to admit on Indian television that senior Pakistani military and civilian leaders were aware that Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan yesterday. The former defense minister, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, later denied the acknowledgement; over at thePost, you can read excerpts of a transcript of the conversation for yourself.
Following the not-so-shocking revelation that a Russian-made Buk missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Julia Ioffe writes that Russia’s “alternate history” of the flight matters: This and similar propaganda enables Russia to inhabit a parallel reality from that of the West. By opportunistically suggesting Ukrainian responsibility, “the Russian media and Almaz-Antey [the state-run manufacturer of Buk missiles] have acted like defense attorneys in a criminal trial, deliberately muddying the waters, fastidiously creating as much reasonable doubt as possible to lead the scent away from their client.”
Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that after Dutch authorities released the results of their fifteen month inquiry, “Russia has appealed to the International Civil Aviation Organization to open a new probe” into the downing of MH17. Ukrainian separatists deny any complicity and Russia maintains that if the plane had, in fact, been brought down by missile fire, “it must have been fired by the Ukrainian military.”
A prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has found a “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in the context of the armed conflict” between Russia and Georgia in 2008. The prosecutor pointed to evidence of forced displacement by Russian troops that displaced thousands of Georgians.
Defense One reports that the Ukrainian government is negotiating a deal with U.S. arms manufacturer Textron Systems for new armor for its humvees and assault vehicles. If finalized, the sale would be Kiev’s “first major purchase from a U.S. defense company.”
Speaking alongside Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne yesterday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter suggested that uncertainty in the South China Sea was pushing countries in the region closer to the United States. The remarks came as Secretaries Carter and Kerry met with their Australian counterparts, in Boston, to discuss (among other things) the planned U.S. naval patrols of what China considers to be its territorial waters. Even so, despite pledges of “enhanced naval co-operation with the United States,” Australia will not join U.S. naval patrols intended to guarantee “freedom of navigation.” For its part, China has reacted to the planned patrols with a veiled jab at the United States, saying that “the biggest factor in the militarisation of the South China Sea” comes from countries that “have deployed offensive weaponry on a large scale and flexed their military muscles again[.]”
The governor of Okinawa has revoked a U.S. permit to construct a new Marine Corps base on the island. The Post writes that “many Okinawans are fed up with bearing the overwhelming burden of Japan’s military alliance with the United States.” Tokyo will likely challenge the governor’s decision.
ISIS-aligned Filipino militants thought to be part of the group Abu Sayyaf have released a video showing three foreign hostages along with a Filipino hostage. The Journal explains that the hostageswere abducted from a resort in the Philippines more than three weeks ago. One of the hostages called on the Philippine military to halt its operations against the group and negotiate for the hostages’ release. A Philippine military spokesmen suggested that they were considering their response. The Times has more.
Politico reports that a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia voted unanimously to reinstate a lawsuit concerning NYPD surveillance of Muslims. In their decision, the judges invoked America’s history of discrimination and and, according to Politico’s Josh Gerstein, suggested that “the widespread surveillance of mosques, businesses, schools and community groups represented a repeat of those transgressions despite national security concerns.”
The AP writes that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s lawyer “has accused Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) of exerting ‘congressional influence’ in his client's case” following the senator’s remarks that the Senate Armed Services Committee would hold a hearing if Bergdahl was not jailed for charges of desertion.
Pentagon officials are eyeing three different facilities in Colorado as they look for “Guantánamo North,” one of which is nicknamed the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” A Pentagon spokesman said the team was looking at what changes would need to be made for the facilities to hold a “limited” number of detainees.
The Democratic 2016 presidential candidates had their first debate last night. A sampling of commentary; The Post describes which candidates want to “bring Snowden home;” Foreign Policyhighlights criticisms that arose concerning Hillary Clinton’s “hawkish” history; and over at Defense One, Molly O’Toole looks at Clinton’s defense of her foreign policy decisions.
Parting shot: It’s official. Siri is a traitor. Wired tells us that Siri can be used by hackers, who can either talk to her or silently transmit commands via radio signal up to sixteen feet away.
ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare
Amira Mikhail, Lawfare’s newest contributor, outlined why France’s criminal investigation into crimes committed in Syria matters.
Bobby took a look at The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy through the Maze of Computer Espionage, published in 1989, and why it’s still worth reading.
Tim Edgar continued his series on the Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner case, noting the hypocrisy in Washington and Brussels.
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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3rd Convicted Al-Jazeera Journalist Leaves Egypt

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Baher Mohammed, the last of three jailed Al-Jazeera English journalists to leave Egypt, arrived Wednesday at the network's home base of Qatar to the smiles and hugs of co-workers who had pressed for their release. Mohammed, who is Egyptian, was arrested along with his colleagues in Cairo in December 2013. He and Mohamed Fahmy were sentenced in an August retrial to three years in prison for airing what a court said was "false news" and coverage biased in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. They were released from prison after receiving a pardon from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in September. Fahmy, a dual Canadian-Egyptian citizen who renounced his Egyptian citizenship in an attempt to facilitate his release, left Egypt last week. A third colleague arrested with them, Australian Peter Greste, was deported from Egypt a year ago but was nonetheless convicted in absentia. He has not been pardoned. "It feels good to be back and see those who supported me,'' Mohammed told The Associated Press after his arrival in the Qatari capital, Doha. "I didn't know what to say. I was just saying lots of thank you's." Eager for family time Mohammed left Egypt without fanfare last Thursday for a short getaway with his family to the Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives, he told AP. He said authorities initially stopped him from leaving Cairo airport, forcing him to miss his planned flight out, but he eventually was allowed to depart. On arrival in Doha, he clutched his son Haroon, whose August 2014 birth he had missed because he was behind bars. Network executives were on hand to welcome him, with Mostefa Souag, the acting director general, hailing Mohammed's courage and calling him “an ambassador for press freedom and fearless journalism.” Mohammed plans to continue working for the network, which he said took good care of his family during his ordeal. Just not quite yet. "To be honest, I need a break,'' he said.

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Ten Years after Nalchik, ‘Nowhere in the North Caucasus has the Problem of Terrorism been Resolved,’ Expert Says

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Paul Goble

Staunton, October 14 – Ten years ago, a clash between radicals and the authorities in Nalchik claimed 141 lives, but massive repression has not solved the problems that gave rise to terrorism but rather led to “a significant outflow of potential and real militants to the Middle East” from which they may return, according to Oleg Orlov of Memorial.

And that is all the more likely because the causes which led to Nalchik a decade ago remain in place, the authorities having done little to correct the situation and much to make it worse. Repression has reduced the level of violence, but it has also made the population more hostile, he says (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/270571/).

Other experts surveyed by Kavkazskiy Uzel on this sad anniversary concur.Orkhan Dzhemal, a journalist who covered the Nalchik violence, says that after the events, “a significant group of people unified on a religious and ideological basis was repressed,” but history suggests that repression does little to change minds and that “such things always return.”

“No one ever forgets anything,” he continues, and the most frightening thing is that now this conflict has been transferred from one generation to another.

Valery Khatzhukov, the head of the Kabardino-Balkar Regional Human Rights Center, agrees. He says that the worst outcome of the Nalchik events was the destruction of the national organizations which could have been the link between the population and the authorities. No there are no such links beyond brutal force.

Had such groups not been destroyed, there could have been a dialogue and many of the problems resolved. Instead, each side talked only among its members and did not talk to the other, with the authorities presenting themselves as victors over Islamist forces and the people as victims of the authorities, he continues. They became and remain “an underground.”

Khatazhukov says that he does not expect a repetition of 2005, “but all the same the underground exists, periodically leaders are destroyed but all returns in a circle: the same problems – social, economic, and political – remain” and continue to affect the views of young people and the entire society. Consequently, further outbursts of violence are likely.

Larisa Dorogova, a lawyer, says that the siloviki have not changed their approach over the last decade. They “do not recognize violations of the rights of believers and therefore nothing changes, everything continues as before … The underground is a result of various causes: some join because they were beaten, others because their relatives or friend who were killed.”

She says that today far more people are sympathetic to those condemned for the Nalchik violence than was the case earlier, at least in part because many innocent people were charged and convicted. People in Kabardino-Balkaria feel that they are not being treated fairly or according to the law.

More than a thousand of them have signed an online petition on Change.org calling on the Russian government to “stop” the authorities from using illegal force and to “return the North Caucasus to the legal field.”And many people in the region now condemn counter-terrorist operations because of the abuses they entail.


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Official: Russia 'deliberately targeting' US-backed forces in Syria - Fox News

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Fox News

Official: Russia 'deliberately targeting' US-backed forces in Syria
Fox News
The claim comes as the U.S. and Russian militaries try to reach an agreement about flight safety in the skies over Syria. Officials from both countries are holding their third videoconference on the issue Wednesday, as U.S.-led coalition and Russian ... 
Using Russia's cover, Iran begins sending fighters to SyriaWRAL.com
Iran sends fighters to Syria, using cover from Russia's air campaignCBS News

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Weak Ruble Sees Fruit Prices Soar in Russia

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The price of fruit in Russia has increased on average by 30-50 percent over the past 12 months due to a weak ruble and bans on imports from Europe, the RBC newspaper reported Wednesday, citing data from Rosstat.

Заместитель Министра обороны Анатолий Антонов провел в Москве переговоры с Чрезвычайным и Полномочным послом Кубы в России Эмилио Лосадой Гарсией

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В ходе совместной работы стороны обсудили состояние и перспективы российко-кубинского военного и военно-техничсекого сотрудничества.
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US Cites Vast Terrorist Abuse of Religious Groups

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The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that a range of terrorist organizations and other non-state groups have inflicted "harsh and hateful treatment" on religious groups throughout the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In its 17th annual report on international religious freedom, the State Department said that as religious groups have been targeted for abuse and discrimination in the three regions, "religious intolerance and hostility, often combined with political, economic and ethnic grievances, frequently led to violence." The report said that governments have stood by, "either unwilling or unable to act in response to the resulting death, injuries and displacement." Islamic State The State Department singled out the Islamic State for its abuse of religious freedom in Iraq and Syria. It cited one instance in Mosul, Iraq, where an insurgent ripped a three-year-old girl from the arms of her Christian mother and forced the mother back on to a bus under the threat of being slaughtered if she did not obey his command. The report said the mother was "never to know what became" of her daughter. The report also cited abuses by Shi'ite militias in Iraq, the al-Nusra Front in Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Lashkar i Jhangvi in Pakistan, anti-Semitism in France and Germany and discrimination against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, also known as Burma. In releasing the report, David Saperstein, the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, said, “There is an absolute and unequivocal need to give voice to the religiously oppressed in every land afraid to speak of what they believe in; who face death and live in fear, who worship in underground churches, mosques or temples, who feel so desperate that they flee their homes to avoid killing and persecution simply because they love God in their own way or question the existence of God.”

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A spectre haunts Russia - banning alcohol one day a week in Moscow and St ... - The Province

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The Province

A spectre haunts Russia - banning alcohol one day a week in Moscow and St ...
The Province
MOSCOW - Some Russian officials are daring to think the seemingly unthinkable in the land of vodka — banning the sale of alcohol once a week in the country's two main cities. Although the initiative is only in its infancy, both the head of the ...
Drink to that: Russian cities ponder 1-day-a-week booze banMedical Xpress

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Islamic State, Al-Nusra Front Call For 'Jihad' Against Russia

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Islamic State broke two weeks of silence on the Russian air strikes in Syria on October 13 with an audio message calling for "jihad" against both Russia and the United States.

1 Ukraine Soldier Killed, 2 Wounded by Rebel Fire

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One Ukrainian soldier has been killed and two injured by rebel fire in violation of a cease-fire deal between Ukraine’s government and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. In a televised statement Wednesday, a Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman, Leonid Matyukhin, announced the casualties south of Avdiivka, near the rebel stronghold of Donetsk.  It was the first government fatality since the warring sides agreed to a cease-fire on September 1 for extending a pull-back of weapons. "The night in the anti-terrorist operation zone was quiet,” Matyukhin said, using a term Ukraine’s government often applies to the separatists. “However, in the evening the bandits did not limit themselves to their usual provocations and opened fire with under-barrel grenade launchers and automatic grenade launchers against our servicemen south of Avdiivka. There is one killed and two wounded among our servicemen." The truce has largely held and most of casualties in the past weeks resulted from soldiers stepping on land mines. According to U.N. estimates, fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine has left more than 8,000 people dead since mid-April 2014.   Kyiv and the West have accused Russia of direct involvement in the conflict.  Moscow has repeatedly denied the charge.

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Putin Delays First Launch From Russia's Troubled Vostochny Cosmodrome 

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President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday officially postponed the date of Russia's first space launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a $3 billion construction project in the country's Far East, by four months.

U.S. Report: Nonstate Actors Inflict 'Significant Damage' On Global Religious Freedoms

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The United States says rebel and terrorist organizations like the Islamic State (IS) extremist group caused "significant damage" to religious freedoms and committed "by far some of the most egregious human rights abuses" across the globe in 2014.

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Obama Sending US Soldiers to Cameroon

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President Barack Obama is sending U.S. military personnel to Cameroon to conduct airborne surveillance of Boko Haram militants. The president announced the deployment in a letter sent Wednesday to the heads of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  The letter makes no mention of Boko Haram, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the move is part of a regional effort to stop the spread of the Nigerian militant group and other extremists. Boko Haram has been active in northern Cameroon, across the border from its home base of northeastern Nigeria. Obama said about 90 U.S. military personnel began deploying to Cameroon on Monday.  He said more will follow to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the region.  The total U.S. force is expected to number about 300. Press Secretary Earnest said the troops will act in coordination with Cameroon's government, and that the troops are armed for their own security, not for a combat role. Boko Haram has killed hundreds of civilians in Cameroon in addition to at least 10,000 in Nigeria over the past few years. Cameroon is one of the countries taking part in a joint regional task force to fight the militant group, which seeks to create a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria.  Other countries in the task force are Chad, Niger and Benin. VOA White House Correspondent Aru Pande contributed to this report.

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Apple Hit with Massive Patent Fine

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Apple Inc. could end up paying $862 million in damages after losing a patent lawsuit over its processors. The processors, which are found in the iPhone 5S, 6 and 6 Plus models, were found Tuesday to have infringed on a 1998 patent held by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's licensing arm. The patent is believed to improve the efficiency of processors. In January 2014, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), which licenses technological inventions created by university researchers, claimed Apple willfully infringed on the patents. The foundation said it had approached Apple to license the patent, but was ignored. Licensing the patent would have meant the computer giant would have to pay a fee to the university. Apple tried to claim that the patent was invalid, but a jury in Madison, Wisconsin, thought otherwise. The foundation has also filed suit against Apple for the next generation of its processors, found in the latest iPhones and iPads. This kind of lawsuit is not new for WARF. In 2008, it sued Intel Corp. over the same patent. The case was settled, but the damages were not disclosed.

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Israel Lobbying for AU Observer Status

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Israel says it has been negotiating in vain to establish an observer status with the African Union (AU) akin to the one it held with the former Organization of African Unity. Sharon Bar-Li, director of Africa Economic Affairs in Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said establishing observer status with the African Union has been a priority of her government. "Closer dialogue, closer exchange will only benefit our countries on the economic level on the political level on the security level on the development level. Israel is a first world country today, which was a developing country just a few decades ago,” she said. “Africa has a lot to benefit if African Union supports Israel. It does not mean that you support every Israeli government policy, as I said before, we can have arguments but it is a platform for dialogue." Israel was an observer member of the Organization of African Unity until 2002, when it was dissolved and replaced by the African Union. It was blocked from being included as an AU observer by the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Yoram Elron, head of the African division in Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said even without the support of the AU his country has succeeded in establishing bilateral ties with 10 African nations. He regrets the African Union is instead showing sympathy to Palestine which was granted observer status in 2013. "One point is our relations with the African Union which is not in line with the good relations that we have individually and bilaterally with many of the African countries. We use to have the status of an observer under the previous Organization of African Unity,” Elron explained. “Because of Libyan pressure namely [Moammar] Gadhafi, [Libya's former leader] this status was revoked when the African Union was established in 2000 and since then it has not been renewed and this is something definitely for us a source of concern and we have asked leaders of friendly countries to see how this can be overcome. Unfortunately we have had no success until now." The African Union, like the United Nations, has been expressing concerns over what they call the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and other Arab territories, which they say violate international law and generate conflicts.

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Peru's Military Questioned Over Drug Flight Plague

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It happens about four times a day, right under the nose of Peru's military: A small single-engine plane drops onto a dirt airstrip in the world's No. 1 coca-growing valley, delivers a bundle of cash, picks up more than 300 kilos of cocaine and flies to Bolivia. Roughly half of Peru's cocaine exports have been ferried eastward to Bolivia on this "air bridge," police say, since the rugged Andean nation became the world's leading producer of the drug in 2012. Prosecutors, narcotics police, former military officers and current and former U.S. drug agents say that the narco-flight plague is the military's failure because it controls the remote jungle region known as the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valley. The transactions normally take about 10 minutes: A dozen or so drug-carrying backpackers will appear on a landing strip's fringe as a plane approaches and men with assault rifles keep watch. Money is offloaded and drugs fitted into the cabin. The motor re-engages. The plane whirs aloft. An Associated Press investigation found that "narco planes" have touched down just minutes by air from military bases in the nearly road-less region known by its Spanish acronym as the VRAEM. The AP obtained video of two such transactions taken by drug police who said they were too outgunned to intervene. The airborne flow — each planeload of cocaine is worth at least $7.2 million overseas — is so brazen that Peru's congress voted unanimously in August to authorize shooting down the mono-engine planes. But whether the government will act decisively is in question. Earlier this year, it scrapped plans to buy and install the necessary state-of-the-art radar, a $71 million purchase it announced in congress last November. President Ollanta Humala, a former army lieutenant colonel whose approval rating is below 15 percent, has eight months left in office. Wilson Barrantes, a retired army general who has long complained about military drug corruption, said giving the armed forces control of the cocaine-producing valley is "like putting four street dogs to guard a plate of beefsteak." One accused narco-pilot interviewed by the AP said some local military commanders charge $10,000 per flight to let cocaine commerce go unhindered. Peru's defense and interior ministers did not respond to repeated AP requests to discuss the accusations. Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Vega, who runs counterinsurgency efforts in the region, said no military officials were under investigation to his knowledge. "Corruption exists, but we are always looking out for it," he said. "If we know of anyone involved, we'll throw the book at them." On taking office in 2011, Humala said combatting illicit drugs was a priority. His government has destroyed record amounts of coca leaf. But that's not enough, said Sonia Medina, the public prosecutor for illicit drugs. Trafficking and related corruption in the police, military, courts and criminal justice system have gone "from bad to worse" on Humala's watch, she said. "What we are doing in counter-narcotics is completely distorted, incoherent and inert." Most of Peru's cocaine production has merely shifted to the VRAEM region, where there is no eradication. The Ireland-sized area has been under a state of emergency for nine years owing to the persistence of drug-running Shining Path rebels. They have slain more than 30 police and soldiers during Humala's tenure but are now much reduced, down to about 60 combatants. The government has nevertheless resisted destroying coca in the region, saying it would cause a bloody backlash by fueling Shining Path recruitment. Some 6,000 soldiers are stationed at more than 30 bases in the valley, ostensibly to battle "narcoterrorism." By law, counter-narcotics is the job of the fewer than 1,000 narcotics police here. But police rely on the military for airlifts and many chafe at joint drug missions with soldiers. In documents and testimony obtained by the AP, police and anti-drug prosecutors questioned the military's trustworthiness. One recalled asking about clandestine airstrips during a 2013 meeting with military officials and watching them "take out their maps, which showed airstrips here and there. They had never informed us of all this." There were also suspicions of intelligence leaked to traffickers. Four anti-drug prosecutors complained about it in a May 2014 letter to their boss that the AP obtained. Three times they shared information with the military on when and where drug flights would land, they said. In each case, the planes never showed. The fourth time, they kept the intel to themselves and acted alone with police. The pilot was captured, the co-pilot killed in a firefight and 357 kilograms of cocaine and $5,500 in cash seized. The March 2014 operation was the only one in the past two years in which drugs, money, plane and pilot were all taken into custody. Over that period, more than two dozen suspected drug planes have been "captured." Most were crash-landings. In all but five cases, the pilots escaped. The pilot who said military commanders charged $10,000 per narco flight for safe passage said "no plane arrives without at least half a million dollars to pay for the drugs, for the airstrip and to corrupt the authorities." Like others, he only agreed to speak if not identified for fear of his life and the AP could not independently confirm his claim. Before the narco-flight boom, the military sent people to the valley to be punished for transgressions, said Victor Andres Garcia Belaunde, an opposition congressman. "But it has, alas, become profitable to be in VRAEM and today there are officers who ask to go."

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· · · ·

Elite French police 'so tired they are accidentally shooting themselves' 

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Officers from the elite close protection unit have clocked up 1.3 million hours in unpaid overtime

Viktor Yushchenko: 'Every politician in Ukraine who turns to the West is in danger' 

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The former Ukraine president, who survived a poisoning attempt in 2004, tells Kim Sengupta in Kiev why he thinks Western nations underestimate the dangers of a resurgent Russia, which he hints was behind the attack on him

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Russia Requests UN Open New MH17 Probe

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Russia has asked the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency, to open a new investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 last year over eastern Ukraine. Speaking Wednesday in Moscow, deputy head of the Russian Federal Aviation Agency, Rosaviatsiya, Oleg Storchevoy categorically disputed the results of the Dutch probe and said Russia has the right to “to initiate a renewal of the investigation of the catastrophe." "The report does not have facts, which confirm the full value and credibility of the conducted investigation.  The quality of the investigation did not satisfy us and in our opinion it was conducted with violations of ICAO standards," Storchevoy said. A Dutch-led investigative panel into the crash of MH-17 said in a report released Tuesday the plane was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile. But Storchevoy said that there was no tangible evidence supporting that claim. "In fact, on the skin covering the Boeing 777 there is no single hole which would indicate that the plane was shot by a BUK M1.  There is no damage which would confirm the form of the destructive agent, the butterfly-shaped shrapnel," Storchevoy said. The Boeing 777 was downed on July 17, 2014, over eastern Ukraine, the scene of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian government forces, killing all 298 people on board, most of them Dutch nationals. The Dutch-led panel, which included investigators from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine, did not explicitly assign blame, despite Western suspicions that pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine shot down the plane, mistaking it for a military aircraft.  The 15-month probe only identified an area of 320 square kilometers (120 square miles) from where it said the launch must have taken place. Russia's state-run missile manufacturer, Almaz-Antey, said Tuesday its own investigation indicates the BUK missile was fired from the town of Zaroshenske, which it says was under control of Ukrainian government forces at the time of the incident. It also said the shape of puncture marks found on the fuselage of the ill-fated MH17 seem to indicate it was brought down by an older Soviet-era BUK missile that Russia no longer produces.

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· ·

Iran Sentences Poets, Filmmaker To Prison, Lashings

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Iran's revolutionary court has sentenced two poets and a filmmaker to a total of 26 1/2 years in prison and 421 lashes.

Europe must stay tough on the dictator of Belarus

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Lifting of EU sanctions on the Lukashenko regime looks premature

Pope Francis: America's right-wing Catholics angered by pontiff's 'liberal' views allegedly plotting against him

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The final straw was the Holy Father's much-publicised role in helping thaw diplomatic relations between Washington and communist, anti-clerical Cuba

Serbia Accuses Germany Of Changing EU Membership Negotiation Terms

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Serbia has accused Germany of trying to amend the terms of Belgrade's European Union membership negotiations in a way that effectively would mean recognition of the independence of its former Kosovo province.

Turkey offered sweeteners for migrants

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EU ‘showers’ Erdogan with political gifts in return for help with crisis
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Военные эксперты России и США провели видеоконференцию по согласованию текста возможной договоренности об обеспечении безопасности полетов над Сирией

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Дискуссия, как и предыдущие, носила профессиональный характер и прошла в конструктивной атмосфере.

Coalition Spokesman: Now Is Time’ for Push Into Ramadi

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Iraqi forces have been slowly preparing for months to retake the provincial capital Ramadi from Islamic State militants. And as VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports, the U.S. says the time is now right for Iraqi forces to make that final push into the city.

Russia Update

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  • Russia Update: October 14, 2015Following a determination by the Investigative Committee, a Moscow Court ruled today that there were no grounds for interrogating Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and his close associates in the murder case of Boris Nemtsov despite the ties of the suspects to them. Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day...

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October 14, 2015

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

Former head of Ukrainian defence factory faces six years for espionage 

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Yury Soloshenko, 73, sentenced by Moscow city court to six years in strict penal colony for allegedly smuggling missile components out of Russia
A Russian court has sentenced an elderly Ukrainian citizen who once served as director of a defence factory to six years in jail for espionage, a court spokesman said.
The classified case against Yury Soloshenko, 73, was brought by the federal security service (FSB) which accused him of trying to smuggle sensitive missile defence technology out of Russia.
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Russia's 'War' Mentality Boosts Treason Case Count

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The number of convictions for treason in Russia tripled in 2014 and experts say the figure looks set to rise again this year as Russia's intelligence services focus their attention on uncovering yet more spies.
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US Targets Domestic Terrorism With New Position

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The U.S. Justice Department is creating a position to coordinate investigations into the growing number of domestic terrorism cases in the United States. John Carlin, the head of the law enforcement agency's national security division, told a group at George Washington University on Wednesday that the official who holds the as-yet-unnamed position would lead development of strategies to thwart U.S.-based attacks and oversee prosecution of suspected terrorists.   Carlin said more Americans have been killed in recent years by domestic extremists than in attacks linked to international terrorist groups. In one prominent incident this year, a man with white supremacist views shot nine African-Americans to death in a church hall in Charleston, South Carolina. "Homegrown violent extremists can be motivated by any viewpoint on a whole spectrum of hate: anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs," Carlin said. He said there "is no single ideology that governs." Carlin said the Justice Department had no intention of trying to curb constitutionally protected freedom of speech in the United States. But he said the agency would focus "on the line between speech and violence."

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Ukrainian Retiree Convicted of Espionage in Moscow

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Ukrainian national Yury Soloshenko, 73, was convicted Wednesday by a Moscow city court of espionage and sentenced to six years in prison, the Interfax news agency reported.

Kremlin Working to Rein In Radical Russian Nationalists Lest Donbas Returnees Join Them

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 14 – Fearful that returning Donbas veterans may join forces with radical Russian nationalists, the Kremlin is moving to prevent that outcome by subordinating or eliminating some of the radical Russian nationalist groups it had earlier supported or at least tolerated, according to Aleksandr Verkhovsky.

            The SOVA Center expert says that one indication of that is the opposition of the authorities to a Russia March of the kind that has taken place on November 4th in the past and an attempt by them to create “an alternative” version of that march under the control of Rodina and its youth group, the Rodina Tigers (rbc.ru/politics/13/10/2015/561be55a9a7947de0f25ef9c).

            Verkhovsky’s comment comes in the course of a discussion by RBC’s Vyacheslav Kozlov concerning the likelihood that there will not be a Russian March this year because of divisions among nationalists about Ukraine, the arrests of many of them, and the fear of others that they would be face repression if they went ahead with their plans.

            This year, Dmitry Demushkin, the head of the Russians movement, says that he plans to conduct the Russian March under the slogan “For the rights and freedom of the Russian people.”  If he gets approval, this would be the 11thsuch march, but so far, officials have not responded to his permit application, and other officials have signaled that when it comes it will be negative.

            The ten earlier marches have attracted from 5,000 to 10,000 participants, including represenatives of “practically all right radical and patriotic Russian parties and movements,” including the Movement Against Illegal Immigration and the Slavic Union, both of which are now banned, the Russians, Narodnaya Volya, the church banner carriers and the Cossacks.

            Until 2014, the organizers of the Russian March had no problems gaining registration, but with the launch of the war in Ukraine and the appearance of divisions among Russian nationalists, that changed; and the authorities rejected all permit applications by these groups and began to harass and then arrest their leaders.

            “The Russian authorities who then were actively promoting the idea of a nationalist putsch in Kyiv in the media equated participants of the Russian Marches with fascists,” Demushkin says, “and did not want to agree to [the march] in order that they not be accused of hypocrisy.”
The Moscow city government did offer to Vladimir Kralin, the leader of the unregistered National Democratic Party, the opportunity to organize the march last year and this, but Kralin, concerned that if he agreed to do so, he would be subject to administrative or even criminal sanctions, decided against being the organizer.

Many of the radical Russian nationalists have been charged with some of them fleeing abroad to escape prosecution. And many of their organizations have been unable to register with the authorities, leaving them at risk of persecution. As Dmitry Bakharyev, a nationalist who heads the Oprichnik Sports Club, says: the authorities consider that the country is at war and thus are ready to suppress any who disagree with them.

And Kralin adds that “any uncontrolled activity on the Russian question now will be viewed with hostility” by the powers that be. The reason is simple, he says. The Kremlin is afraid that disappointed volunteers from the Donbas will return with guns in their hands and challenge the current regime.



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Lavrov: Moscow Helping Fight IS Militants In Iraq

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is helping fight against Islamist State (IS) militants in Iraq with the consent of the Baghdad government.

US sources: Russia has brought Cuban troops to Syria

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October 14, 2015, 10:31 PM (IDT)
A Russian airlift has just carried a Cuban military unit to fight for Bashar Assad’s army in Syria, according to US defense sources, who add that the Cuban chief of staff Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias has just also arrived in Syria. DEBKAfile: The Cuban military injection into the Syria war expands the Russian warfront. Finding Cuban troops to drive Syrian tanks in assaults on Syrian rebels is a major achievement for Moscow, especially since Washington has presented the recent reconciliation between the US and Cuba as one of the great diplomatic feats of the Obama administration. 

Full Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate - New York Times

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New York Times

Full Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate
New York Times
The ACLU, the NAACP sued you, sued the city, and the city actually settled, saying a lot of those arrests were without probable cause. O'MALLEY: Well, I think the key word in your followup there was the word ..... There's an FBI investigation, and ...

and more »
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Page 7

Amedy Coulibaly, Paris deli attacker, 'given orders by email': report 

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Amedy Coulibaly, the Paris gunman who killed five people in two attacks in January, was given instructions to carry out the attacks via email, a new report revealed.
Nine months after the the string of terrorist attacks in the French capital, investigators revealed they had found an email on Coulibaly's ...

Nationwide FBI sex trafficking sting nets 150 arrests - CBS News

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CBS News

Nationwide FBI sex trafficking sting nets 150 arrests
CBS News
A nationwide FBI sting focusing on underage victims of prostitution resulted in the rescue of 149 sexually exploited children and the arrests of more than 150 pimps and others, according the bureau. The ninth annual initiative known as "Operation Cross ...
FBI: Cincinnati sex-trafficking victim rescuedCincinnati.com
Teen sex workers rescued by FBI in pan-US operationBBC News
FBI: Six in Tampa area rescued in nationwide human trafficking operationTBO.com
Fox 2 Detroit
all 194 news articles »

Ex-CIA Agent Convicted in Italy Has Asked for a Pardon - ABC News

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Chron.com

Ex-CIA Agent Convicted in Italy Has Asked for a Pardon
ABC News
A former CIA operative who is among 26 Americans convicted in absentia for the 2003 kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric in Milan has requested a pardon from Italy, her Italian lawyer said Wednesday. Sabrina De Sousa, who was arrested last week in Portugal ...
Lawyer: Ex-CIA agent convicted in Italy has requested pardon from 6-year sentenceFox News

all 55 news articles »

Cyberspace becomes second front in Russia's clash with NATO

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Russian computer attacks have become more brazen and more destructive as the country grows increasingly at odds with the United States and European nations over military goals first in Ukraine and now Syria.
     

Obama deploys 300 U.S. troops to Cameroon to aid in fight against Boko Haram 

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President Obama is deploying up to 300 U.S. troops to Cameroon to help in the African nation's fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group, the White House said Wednesday.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the troops will conduct airborne intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance operations in support of ...

A French Muslim schoolboy arrested for shooting teacher

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October 14, 2015, 8:32 PM (IDT)
A 15-year-old high school student has been arrested after shooting his teacher with a BB gun and shouting "Allahu Akbar" in Châlons-en-Champagne, France. He arrived at school carrying the gun, an airsoft grenade and a knife, intending to kill his literature teacher. The student was taken into custody. "He told investigators that he had [worked on] a plan for one week to stab his French professor and steal the car of his physics teacher under threat before ramming the car in the gendarmerie to die a martyr," Christian de Rocquigny, Châlons-en-Champagne's prosecutor, said.
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State Dept. OKs Possible Black Hawk Sale to Saudi

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The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to Saudi Arabia for nine UH-60M Black Hawk helos
       

Obama rejects Putin's offer to send emissaries to U.S. to confer on Syria 

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The Obama administration has rejected an offer by Russian President Vladimir Putin to send a high-level delegation to Washington to coordinate military action in war-torn Syria, where Moscow's forces are fighting to prop up the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow offered ...

Islamic State battles insurgents as Syria army prepares assault

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BEIRUT Islamic State militants battled rival insurgent groups on Wednesday north of the city of Aleppo, where officials say the Syrian army is preparing an offensive of its own backed by Iranian soldiers and Russian jets.
A rebel fighter and a group monitoring the war said Islamic State fighters took control of parts of the towns of Ahras and Tel Jabin, about 12 km (8 miles) north of Aleppo, before being pushed back.
Gains by Islamic State north of Aleppo would threaten the supply lines of rival rebels inside the city, which is divided between insurgents and government forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the road used by Aleppo residents heading north to the Turkish border remained closed on Wednesday.
"Today there are fierce battles between us and Daesh in Ahras, Tel Jabin, and rural northern Aleppo," said Hassan Haj Ali, head of the Liwa Suqour al-Jabal rebel group, using another name for Islamic State.
His unit is one of several foreign-backed insurgent forces which find themselves fighting Islamic State on the ground, at the same time as they are bombed by Russian jets and are bracing for further ground attacks by the army and its foreign allies.
"There are mobilizations by the regime in most parts of Aleppo, particularly in Bashkoy," he said, referring to another town north of Aleppo, which before Syria's civil war began in 2011 was the country's biggest city and a major commercial and industrial center.
"There were advances (by Islamic State) at dawn but we were able to recover Ahras entirely. There are battles in Tel Jabin," said Ali, speaking to Reuters via an internet messaging system.
The Observatory reported fighting between Islamic State fighters and government forces trying to advance towards an air base besieged by the jihadist group in Aleppo province.
Any further escalation in the Aleppo area near the Turkish border will likely further anger NATO member Ankara which opposes President Bashar al-Assad, backs the insurgents, and has expressed deep concern at Russian air strikes.
Iran has sent thousands of additional troops into Syria in recent days to bolster one offensive that is underway in Hama province and in preparation for another in the Aleppo area, two senior regional officials told Reuters.
The army also launched a fresh assault against rebel-held areas east of Damascus on Wednesday, including Jobar and Harasta, controlled by non-Islamic State rebel groups including Jaish al-Islam.
REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS
Underlining Iran's central role in support of Assad, whose territorial control of Syria is currently estimated at a quarter or less, a team of Iranian lawmakers arrived in Damascus on Wednesday on an official visit.
Two senior Revolutionary Guards officers were killed fighting Islamic State in Syria on Monday, Iran's Tasnim news agency reported. Another senior Guards commander was killed last week, as was a top Hezbollah commander.
Supported by two weeks of air strikes, the Syrian army and its allies have been fighting insurgents in northern Hama province, and neighboring Idlib and Latakia provinces, trying to reverse rebel gains over the summer which had threatened the coastal heartlands of Assad's Alawite minority.
The offensive has resulted in the captured a number of towns in Hama and Latakia, but progress has not been fast. The rebels say they are using plentiful supplies of U.S.-made anti-tank missiles to repel the attacking forces.
That is a sign of increased foreign support for the rebels in response to the Russian-Iranian intervention.
Two rebel commanders said on Tuesday they have stationed a dozen TOW anti-tank missile platforms supplied from abroad along a 30 km (20 miles) defensive line in Hama province in an effort to contain the army advance.
The missiles have been widely seen as important to rebel advances earlier this year that had put Assad under pressure.
Russia has stepped up its air strikes in recent days, announcing on Tuesday it had carried out 88 missions in the previous 24 hours, one of the heaviest days of bombardment of its campaign so far.
Moscow's intervention means Russian and U.S. jets are flying combat missions over the same country for the first time since World War Two, raising fears of accidental confrontation.
Russia says it has asked Washington to discuss coordination of military efforts, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States had declined to send a military delegation to Moscow for discussions.
In the fighting near Damascus, government forces fired hundreds of rockets at towns in the Eastern Ghouta, according to the Civil Defense for Rural Damascus, a rescue service operating in rebel-held areas.
Warplanes launched at least 10 air strikes on Jobar, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Observatory, said insurgents had also fired rockets at government-held Damascus.
(Additional reporting by Laila Bassam; editing by Giles Elgood)
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Russia's Spies Are Critical to Putin's Operations in Syria, Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is a former KGB spymaster. Since he became president in 2000, Russia has invaded Georgia, retaken Crimea from Ukraine, supported separatists fighting the Ukraine government and is now taking military action in Syria to bolster the brutal regime of Bashar Assad and to counter advances from the Islamic State group. How important is Russian intelligence to Putin's global adventures? 
To find out, U.S. News contributor Thomas K. Grose recently talked to British historian Jonathan Haslam, currently a professor at Princeton's School of Historical Studies, and author of the newly published book "Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence." Excerpts:

You write that human intelligence is where Russia has historically excelled. Is that still its strong point? 
151014_report.russia_quote
Human intelligence is still Russia's forte. It is darkly obvious that they know the real balance of power. They know who's strong, who's weak. Their understanding of American politics is very fine-tuned. The Russians have been studying America to death for over 30 years, and the outcome of the Cold War has enhanced that, not reduced it. Whereas, in the West, our knowledge of Russia has been gravely reduced because we think we won. So there is an asymmetry here. When Putin makes decisions about what to do abroad, Ukraine or wherever, it looks like folly. But actually if you take into account their reading of what we're likely to do, they're not wrong, are they? He's got it right. And unfortunately, the more he gets it right, the more he's convinced of his own better judgment, so the higher the risks he's willing to take. He's willing to risk overflying Turkey, which is a member of NATO, in order to bomb Syria. He knows the Americans won't shoot down his forces. He knows exactly how far he can go.
In Ukraine, Russia is relying on asymmetrical warfare – special ops. Are there historical parallels for its use of this type of warfare?
Special operations were used by the Soviet Union against prewar Poland. So special operations, or war by other means, was very much a feature of the 1920s, which was also a time of relative Soviet military weakness. Asymmetrical activities with covert operations was a substitute for not having the use of direct military power.
How likely is it that Putin is also using these tactics to give a false impression of having a military that's stronger than it really is?
They are revamping their military in terms of divisions and equipment, but this will cost a fortune and Russia's economy is suffering. Covert operations are cheaper than major operations. You're going to see the same in Syria. They're about to send in hundreds [more] little green men to go around and do things in a more efficient way than the Assad regime can manage. And the Russians do this without a great deal of concern about casualties. These operations will take place, come what may. And if people disappear, from Putin's point of view, it will be justified if he can sustain Assad's regime
Sounds risky.
From the Russian point of view, America has a president who is not decisive and who is reluctant to commit forces. So when the Russians look at Washington, they feel that these people make verbal commitments to do things, like getting rid of [the Islamic State group], sending in air strikes, blah, blah, blah, but actually there aren't really results. Whereas Putin, what does he see? He doesn't see a best option here. 
To him, the worst option is the collapse of Assad's regime and the dominance of Syria and the Near East by a fanatical, fundamental Islamic terrorist outfit. So he sees himself as having to get his hands dirty there, to do what he thought the Americans might possibly do for him. He's realized that no one else is going to this.

Does his military support him?
From the military, there have been objections to such a policy. They have been voiced openly in the press, saying, 'This is too risky, this could be another Afghanistan for Russia, this is how we got into Afghanistan, you're not listening to us.' So Putin is doing this against some of the best advice from his military. I would guess some of the military had objections to his invasion of Crimea, too. They said it was too risky: What if American special forces go in and take our little green men out? And Putin said, "No, you people don't have strong nerve." And he went in and did it and succeeded. I know Ukraine looks like a diabolical mess from the Western point of view. But from Putin's point of view, he's made a point. The Americans won't touch us. The Americans won't push back. And so in Syria, he tells his military, 'You just don't have the nerve. We can do it. It won't be an Afghanistan.'
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· · · ·

Iraq preparing for assault on Ramadi

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Iraqi government forces say they have made significant advances around the Islamic State-held city of Ramadi and are preparing for a final assault.

Returning Kunduz Residents Face Food Shortages After Taliban Retreat

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Traumatized Afghan residents returning to the northern city of Kunduz are facing major food shortages, a day after the Taliban announced a tactical retreat and left much of the city behind in ruins.

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Serbia cries foul over Kosovo, Germany says complaints unfounded

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BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia accused Germany on Wednesday of trying to amend the terms of Belgrade’s European Union membership negotiations that would mean effective recognition of its former Kosovo province as independent, a claim Berlin’s envoy dismissed as “unfounded”.
  

Pope Francis asks forgiveness for scandals at the Vatican, Rome 

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Pope Francis on Wednesday (Oct. 14) asked forgiveness for a series of scandals that have befallen the Vatican and Rome.









Pair of Saudi activists sentenced to prison for rights work

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A Saudi human rights lawyer says two activists have been sentenced to prison in the kingdom on a range of charges related to their rights work and calls for political reform.









Pope seeks forgiveness for church sex scandals

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From: ReutersVideo
Duration: 01:32

In unprepared remarks, Pope Francis asks for forgiveness for recent sex scandals that have rocked the Vatican and Rome. Mana Rabiee reports.
Subscribe: http://smarturl.it/reuterssubscribe
More updates and breaking news: http://smarturl.it/BreakingNews
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.

Analyst: Clinton thinks leftward shift won't hurt her 

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From: CNN
Duration: 05:52

CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger and CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod agree: the Clinton campaign has calculated her shifting positions on trade and deportations are smart moves.

Роль Ирана в Сирии 

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From: euronewsru
Duration: 03:06

По сообщениям из Сирии, правительственная армия готовится к наступлению на северные районы, контролируемые исламистами и повстанцами. Ей оказывают поддержку: с воздуха - российская авиация, а на земле - иранские военные и отряды шиитского движения “Хезболлах”.
Верховный представитель Евросоюза по внешней политике и безопасности Федерика Могерини заявила на днях, что урегулирование в Сирии невозможно без участия России и Ирана.

"Если мы хотим, чтобы политическая ситуация сдвинулась в Сирии, …
ЧИТАТЬ ДАЛЕЕ: http://ru.euronews.com/2015/10/14/russia-iran-are-part-of-solution-in-syria-eu-foreign-policy-chief
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We're learning more about the CIA 'cover-up' surrounding JFK's assassination - Business Insider

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WhoWhatWhy / RealNewsProject (blog)

We're learning more about the CIA 'cover-up' surrounding JFK's assassination
Business Insider
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy spurred numerous of conspiracy theories, many of which doubted if sniper Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and asserting that the CIA was involved. And a declassified 2013 report by CIA historian David ...
New Book on CIA Master-Plotter Dulles, Sneak Peek: Part 3WhoWhatWhy / RealNewsProject (blog)
The Rise of America's Secret Government: The Deadly Legacy of Ex-CIA Director ...Democracy Now!
CIA covered up John F. Kennedy assassination facts, declassified report findsAL.com
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Relative lull in terror as Israelis absorb first shock and gear up for the next round

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October 14, 2015, 7:10 PM (IDT)
Israelis have absorbed the first shock of the wave of Palestinian terror unleashed in the last two weeks. The Palestinians are likely absorbing the package of tough penalties for terror and deterrents the Netanyahu government began putting together Tuesday night. Wednesday, Oct. 14, saw relative calm after the deadly violence reached a new peak Tuesday. The 500 young soldiers mobilized to ramp up Jerusalem security will have to take their cues from a police force under-manned but well-seasoned in handling multiple terror

Gen. Abrams: Building Readiness Is 'Crunch Point' for Army

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An Army panel says finding time for units to build and sustain readiness is its most precious resource.
       

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