Sunday, November 1, 2015

Islamic State group advances in central Syria, seizing town - U.S. News & World Report

Islamic State group advances in central Syria, seizing town - U.S. News & World Report

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U.S. News & World Report

Islamic State group advances in central Syria, seizing town
U.S. News & World Report
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, right, meets with U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura in Damascus, Syria, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. Al-Moallem said "important" points ...
Syria and the USJerusalem Post Israel News

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Vatican investigates mystery over hacked computer belonging to finance chief 

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The laptop belongs to the head of the Holy See's audit office, who was appointed by Pope Francis in June

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Russian plane crash: After a disaster, state the facts or stay quiet 

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The misinformation from Egypt and Russia is a textbook case of what not to do after an air crash

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Russian plane crash investigators say Airbus broke up in mid-air over desert

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Experts examine wreckage of flight that crashed on its way from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg, killing 224 people
The airline that crashed in Egypt’s Sinai desert killing all 224 people onboard broke up in mid-air at high-altitude, according to Russian officials prompting aviation experts to speculate that a sudden mechanical failure or a mid-air explosion could have been to blame.
As flags flew at half-mast on a national day of mourning in Russia, investigators rushed to the scene of the wreckage where 163 bodies had been recovered by Sunday afternoon. Some were found several miles away from the twisted and blackened remains of the Airbus A321. Many personal effects were strewn about with the wreckage in the desert.
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Stalemate, Not Statehood, for Iraqi Kurdistan 

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Editor’s Note: The Kurds are the largest nation in the Middle East without a state of their own and their quest for more rights and at times independence has led to civil wars, unrest, and near-genocidal levels of killing. Iraq has often been the center of the Kurdish struggle, and the decline of the Iraqi state since 2003 – and the latest dysfunction manifest in its efforts to fight the Islamic State – seems to offer opportunities for Iraqi Kurds to carve out their own state. Denise Natali, an expert on the Kurds at the National Defense University, challenges this claim. She argues that the Iraqi Kurds’ current in-between status is likely to endure and, indeed, offers benefits for Kurdish leaders.
Since the creation of a weak federal Iraqi state a decade ago, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has moved toward what many analystspundits, and Kurds consider a desired end state: independence. Taking advantage of the ambiguous 2005 Iraqi constitution, disfranchised Sunni Arab community, sectarian conflicts, and dysfunctional Iraqi government, the KRG has developed its own energy sector; assumed de facto control over disputed lands; and created a cohort of influential supporters to lobby Kurdish interests in Washington and abroad. These trends have been further bolstered by the Islamic State threat, which has allowed the KRG to access U.S. and coalition military support, further expand its territorial reach, and challenge Baghdad with “independent” oil exports.
Yet a deeper look into the Iraqi Kurdish trajectory reveals a more complicated and interrupted scenario defined by legal, economic, and geopolitical constraints. The KRG may have created new “facts on the ground” that strengthen its internal sovereignty and international recognition, but it remains a landlocked, quasi-state entity lacking external sovereignty.
This condition means that the degree and nature of Kurdish autonomy, including any potential for independence, is not determined by unilateral decisions made by Kurdish elites but rather by the demands, deals, and incentive structures brokered by powerful regional states and non-state actors. These influences have not only checked Kurdish leverage and kept Kurds within the Iraqi state, at least nominally, they have also created necessary political ambiguity that benefits KRG officials. Maintaining the status quo has allowed the KRG to realize rights, revenues, and recognition as part of a weak federal Iraqi state while also pursuing a nationalist agenda based on victimization, struggle, territorial expansion, and opaque, oil-based economic development, supported by external networks.
Post-Saddam stalemate 
As a quasi-state, the Kurdistan Region thrives off of a weak central government, nationalist sentiment, and external patronage. It may have substantial internal sovereignty, but it lacks external sovereignty, which it seeks to replace with international support and recognition. The KRG has done so by developing external networks –  lobbies, international oil companies (IOCs), foreign governments, and international universities, organizations, and think tanks – which help advance KRG interests at home and abroad.
These features have influenced KRG behavior and produced important benefits for Kurds in post-Saddam Iraq. They have enabled the KRG to operate as a free-rider, accessing revenues from Baghdad based on the new Iraqi constitution, while pursuing its own nationalist agenda. For nearly a decade, the KRG gained 17 percent of Iraqi oil sales derived from southern exports – which increased its annual income from about US$2.5 billion to $13 billion – without having to pay taxes, declare revenues, or contribute to the Iraqi national budget.
Baghdad-sourced revenues have been critical to developing and stabilizing the Kurdistan Region. They have not only paid the salaries of over 70 percent of the Kurdish population (at a cost of about US$720 million monthly) but have also sourced the KRG’s “trade relations” with Ankara, valued at US$10 billion in 2013, which are almost wholly based on imported Turkish goods. Additionally, by remaining tied to a less than fully functional Iraqi state, the KRG has been able to brand itself as the “Other Iraq” with a minimal metric of success: simply being more stable and economically viable than Baghdad.
Kurdish officials have also benefitted from political limbo by leaving contentious issues unsettled, such as territorial disputes, resource claims, and revenue allocation. For instance, although Masoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), publicly insists that Kirkuk is the “bleeding heart of Kurdistan,” he will avoid officially incorporating Kirkuk into an independent Kurdistan Region because it would render the KDP a political minority (the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran movement control parts of Erbil, Kirkuk, and Suleymaniya).
Determining Kirkuk’s status – whether it is under the legal jurisdiction of the Iraqi government, the KRG, or a local administration as a special status province – is contentious given its oil-rich territories, multi-ethnic and multi-religious character, and historical legacies of Arabization. While Arabs and most Turcoman regard Kirkuk as an essential part of Iraq, Kurds consider Kirkuk as a national territory and source of oil revenue that can help the KRG realize economic independence. Claims to Kirkuk are also part of internal Kurdish balance of power politics that reflect geographical divisions between KDP, PUK, and Gorran party factions. These dynamics influence KRG behavior over Kirkuk and other disputed areas.
By leaving territorial borders politically ambiguous, KRG officials can promote myths of victimization that authenticate their nationalist credentials, deflect internal political tensions and needed reforms, and resonate among local populations as a “struggle against Baghdad.”
By leaving territorial borders politically ambiguous, KRG officials can promote myths of victimization that authenticate their nationalist credentials, deflect internal political tensions and needed reforms, and resonate among local populations as a “struggle against Baghdad.” Unilateral Kurdish claims to disputed territories have been justified as a battle “drawn in Kurdish blood.” Similarly, high-risk oil exports are now framed as a “Kurdish nationalist right.” 
Breaking the stalemate
The KRG has attempted break its political stalemate by realizing economic independence. Most important is the aim to develop an autonomous revenue source that can sustain the Kurdistan Region apart from Baghdad. Since 2005, the KRG has aggressively developed its own energy sector by attracting IOCs to the Kurdistan Region, building pipeline infrastructure, unilaterally connecting its pipeline to the Iraqi state-owned Iraqi-Turkish Pipeline (ITP), negotiating a 50-year energy deal with Turkey and gaining de facto control over parts of Kirkuk and related oil assets.
These new facts on the ground have made the KRG increasingly risk averse and willing to export oilsans Baghdad. They coincide with failed attempts to negotiate with the Iraqi government and sell Kurdish crude through the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO), including the most recent “oil-for-revenue” deal in December 2014. Baghdad insists on state sovereignty over Iraqi oil resources, sales, and revenues, and a fully transparent KRG oil sector that contributes to the Iraqi national budget. Erbil, however, demands control of its own crude oil exports and revenues, which remain opaque, and to receive regular and full payments from Baghdad for its crude. The near-halving of world oil prices, Iraq’s financial crisis, and coalition support to the KRG to fight the Islamic State have added disincentives to negotiate. Instead, by September 2015, the KRG pressed ahead without Baghdad, exporting about 620,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) through the ITP, 460,000 bdp of which were from fields operated by the Kurdistan Region, with the remaining from Kirkuk fields operated by Iraq’s North Oil Company.
Still, the KRG has not become economically autonomous. Because the Kurdistan Region is not a sovereign entity and continues to rely on Iraqi pipeline infrastructure, its exports are not fully independent. Baghdad retains international legal rights over oil flows and revenues from the ITP based on the 2010 pipeline Tariff Agreement negotiated with Turkey – and has already filed litigation against Ankara at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. It has also threatened to penalize IOCs and shipping companies that purchase Kurdish crude apart from SOMO, reinforcing the legal risks and opaque nature of KRG oil exports and sales. Moreover, Baghdad has cut the KRG budget (except for monthly food allocations), which represents 95 percent of the KRG’s operating expenses.
The KRG’s financial break from Baghdad has had direct consequences on the Kurdistan Region’s internal stability and economic viability. In the absence of a financial buffer to replace Baghdad (by June 2014 the KRG had no savings in its central bank) the KRG’s oil gamble with Turkey has devastated and destabilized local populations and the economy. Civil servant salaries have gone unpaid for months, thousands of local businesses have closed, IOC payments remain in arrears, new investment has halted, and nearly 25,000 Kurds, mainly educated youth, have fled the Kurdistan Region over the past eight months. The KRG has also borrowed billions from Ankara and local businesses while front-loading its oil sales to 2016 in the attempt to meet operating costs and a US$22 billion debt accumulated over the past year. These economic pressures coincide with the Kurdistan Region’s presidency crisis in which reformers, political party officials, and opposition groups are challenging the legitimacy of Masoud Barzani’s position, which expired on August 19, 2015, and calling for sweeping political reforms.
With Baghdad no longer its paymaster, at least at present, the KRG’s institutional deficits have also surfaced, namely its lack of transparent pricing mechanisms, undisclosed revenue flows, and endemic corruption. These issues have become a leading source of criticism inside the Kurdish government as well as society. Officials on the oil and gas committee in the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament (IKP), for instance, are unaware of how much revenues are derived from KRG oil sales and where the funds are allocated. Of the 16 international bank accounts in which revenues from KRG oil sales are supposedly deposited, the KRG minister of finance - recently expelled by the KDP from the parliament - has access to only one Turkish Halkbank account, which has only US$14 million in deposits. The minister of natural resources and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani control all other bank accounts.
By choosing to bypass Baghdad without the necessary legal, financial, and political institutions in place, KRG officials have left the region prone to political opposition and economic collapse. Instead of blaming Baghdad for the KRG’s financial and political crises, local populations are now harshly criticizing the KRG.
Given Baghdad and Erbil’s financial crises and unresolved claims over control of oil exports and payments, it is not surprising that Kurdish officials have pursued alternative means of income generation. They need a reliable revenue source that can develop the region and sustain its populations. Yet by choosing to bypass Baghdad without the necessary legal, financial, and political institutions in place, KRG officials have left the region prone to political opposition and economic collapse. Instead of blaming Baghdad for the KRG’s financial and political crises, local populations are now harshly criticizing the KRG. This growing opposition movement inside the Kurdistan Region has recently manifested in violent and deadly uprisings in Suleymaniya province, further deepening political fragmentation and instability. 
Nor has the KRG resolved disputed claims to territories and hydrocarbons inside Iraq. In many ways it has aggravated its own situation. Having gained de facto control over expansive lands, the KRG is now responsible for administering and stabilizing a 1,000-kilometer border with the Islamic State and Sunni Arab nationalist groups. The KRG may currently benefit from coalition military support to secure these borders, but it has no guarantee as to how long this assistance will last. Alongside Baghdad, different local stakeholders continue to claim ownership of these territories and resources, to include Kirkuki populations, Sunni Arabs, and minority groups. Some of these groups may agree to become part of the Kurdistan Region, while others are seeking to create their own region or special status inside the Iraqi state. 
Shifting dependencies
These trends have also enhanced the KRG’s regional dependencies, particularly on Turkey and Iran. By becoming fully reliant on a single transit route and a legally contentious pipeline running through Turkey and a war zone, the landlocked Kurdistan Region has become more financially vulnerable than ever before.
KRG’s oil exports and revenues are now tied to Turkey’s domestic politics and its 30-year conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, whose forces are based in the Kurdistan Region, eastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey and have already attacked the ITP and other energy assets in Turkey. PKK challenges also extend to Barzani and the KDP, with whom the PKK competes for leadership of Kurdish communities and which the PKK regards as a “sellout to Turkey.” These vulnerabilities are further enhanced by the opaque and personal nature of KRG-Ankara energy ties, which are largely a private deal between Barzani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and not an institutionalized arrangement. Any change in the positions and influence of these personalities or in Turkey’s domestic politics risks affecting the terms and nature of the agreement, and more directly KRG exports.
Iran also continues to influence the KRG’s economic, political, and security arenas. Sharing an expansive border with Suleymaniya and Erbil provinces, Iran provides another outlet for cheap, trucked Kurdish crude and diesel products that benefits Iraqi Kurdish political parties, particularly the PUK, and associated businesses. These exchanges are much smaller than the trucking operations at the Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish border, but they coexist with investment, commerce, and security pacts between Tehran and the KRG that affirm Iranian interests in the region. Since the Islamic State onslaught, Iranian influence has increased, particularly in Suleymaniya and Kirkuk provinces, where Tehran has provided military and security assistance alongside the PUK peshmerga, Shi’a militias, Iraqi security forces, and Syrian Kurdish fighters (PYG).
Deepening regional ties have not translated into political support for a Kurdish nationalist project. Despite the financial benefits of doing business with the KRG, neither Turkey nor Iran back Kurdish independence, or even an overly autonomous Kurdistan Region.
However, these deepening regional ties have not translated into political support for a Kurdish nationalist project. Despite the financial benefits of doing business with the KRG, neither Turkey nor Iran back Kurdish independence, or even an overly autonomous Kurdistan Region. Both remain committed to a weak but sovereign Iraqi state that enables them to influence Iraqi Kurds, as well as Sunni and Shi’a communities. Turkey and Iran also continue to prioritize their own territorial integrity, which includes checking Kurdish nationalist communities within and across their borders through enhanced security, political and economic pacts with Iraqi Kurds.
All of these dynamics indicate a more fluid and interrupted Kurdish trajectory and not a forward moving process toward independence. Any change in Ankara-Baghdad relations, Iranian-Turkish capabilities, access to pipeline infrastructure, PKK-Turkey tensions, Erdogan’s political status, Iraqi government stabilization, intra-Kurdish tensions, bridging of Sunni-Shi’a ties, or a strengthened Sunni Arab region could affect the KRG’s leverage and ability to export oil and access revenues apart from Baghdad.
The dependent nature of the KRG, its nationalist agenda, and internal Kurdish divisions also challenge U.S. efforts against the Islamic State. Although the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga are important local partners and the KRG is a key regional ally, their strategic priorities are to extend and consolidate territorial control, while also fighting the Islamic State. In many ways, the KRG needs to keep the campaign against the Islamic State alive because external military support enhances its international recognition and strategic significance, legitimates Barzani family power, and helps displace pressing domestic political issues.
These local dynamics coincide with deepening Kurdish fragmentation that prevents a unified command structure to fight the Islamic State. They indicate the second- and third-order consequences of counting on the Kurds to fight the Islamic State beyond their juridical borders and demonstrate how unchecked and unconditional military support can fuel intra-communal and intra-Kurdish conflicts. The United States should therefore continue to act as a neutral broker and provide weapons to the KRG through the Iraqi government (and not directly to the KRG), more closely monitor the distribution of weapons to Erbil and within the Kurdistan Region, and help stabilize Islamic State-free territories so that displaced communities can return without fear of retaliation.
The KRG’s attempts to gain economic independence have also had significant consequences on the Kurdistan Region’s development and internal stability. Although Kurdish officials can access much needed revenues from direct oil sales, they lack the institutional mechanisms that can shield the region from the ill effects of rentierism. These institutions will be increasingly important as KRG officials operate their own energy sector, particularly since the KRG and not Baghdad will be held directly accountable for revenue generation, resource distribution, and service provision. These changes will demand financial transparency, tackling corruption, coherent oil and revenue policies, and real political reforms. The vulnerabilities created by the KRG’s growing dependence on Turkey also underline the need for renewed negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad, particularly in securing a sustained budget based on the 2005 constitution. The United States can play an instrumental role in brokering these negotiations as well as in helping the KRG develop more transparent institutions that can effectively administer and govern the region.
Finally, in assessing the strategic end state of the Kurdistan Region, geopolitics remains tantamount. No matter how disinterested Kurds are in being Iraqis, they live in a landlocked territory that remains dependent on Baghdad, and increasingly Turkey and Iran. These dependencies have resulted in alliances that not only keep borders open and intact, but provide different Kurdish parties with external patronage to balance power inside the Kurdistan Region. It is not the KRG that will unilaterally declare independence, sending ripple effects throughout the region; rather, it is strong and assertive regional states, namely Turkey and Iran, that will influence the trajectory of the Kurdistan Region. Unless these conditions fundamentally change, the Kurdistan Region will continue to exist in political limbo while seeking to leverage its interests in a weak Iraqi state.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.
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Fiorina Slaps Down The View: Nothing More Threatening to Liberals Than a Conservative Woman 

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Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina ripped The View on Sunday after its hosts made disparaging comments about her appearance, saying nothing threatened them more than a conservative woman.
The View, a left-leaning daytime talk show consisting of all women, trashed Fiorina as looking “demented” during Wednesday’s GOP debate, with co-host Joy Behar likening her face to a “Halloween mask.” CNN host Brooke Baldwin criticized the women for their statement, noting Behar called out Donald Trump on the show for making critical remarks about Fiorina’s appearance during a Rolling Stone interview.
Fox News Sunday host Trace Gallagher asked Fiorina if there was a double standard for Republican women, saying he couldn’t imagine them saying such things about Hillary Clinton.
“Oh, you think?” Fiorina asked. “Yeah, I think there’s a double standard. It’s funny. You know, I was on The View several months ago. They said none of that to my face. There is nothing more threatening to the liberal media in general, and to Hillary Clinton in particular, than a conservative woman, so of course there’s a double standard … It will not stop me. It will not scare me. And maybe the ladies of The View, if I come back on again, let’s see if they have the guts to say that to my face.”
Gallagher brought up another embarrassing moment for The View earlier this year, when they mocked a Miss America contestant for wearing a nurse’s uniform, apparently not realizing she actually was a nurse.
“Are these women out of touch?” Gallagher asked.
“I think what these women represent is a set of liberal feminists who believe that if you do not agree with them on their liberal orthodoxy that you don’t count, that somehow you’re not a woman,” Fiorina said. “You see, I know that women represent half the nation, so of course our views are going to be as diverse as men’s.
“Frankly, I am tired of being insulted by liberal feminists who talk about women’s issues when the reality is every issue is a woman’s issue. From the economy to ISIS to Russia to health care to education to the national debt, women care about all of that. So I am really sorry that I don’t agree with the women of The View. Nevertheless, I’m going to continue to stand up, stand strong, talk about what I believe in, and I am Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare as a result.”
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Declassified CIA documents detail how to sabotage employers, annoy bosses - The Independent

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The Independent

Declassified CIA documents detail how to sabotage employers, annoy bosses
The Independent
Your annoying colleagues might actually be CIA spies, according to recently-released documents from the US agency. A previously secret document titled “Simple Sabotage Field Manual: Strategic Services” details the various ways that spies should work to ...

Moscow Shifts Sales Focus Eastward

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Moscow's arms export agency, Rosoboronexport, has been targeting new export markets as part of policy to pivot Eastward.

Poll: On police conduct, whites and blacks have starkly different views - Washington Post

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Washington Post

Poll: On police conduct, whites and blacks have starkly different views
Washington Post
... they can't do their job now because they will be videotaped,” she said, echoing a concern expressed recently by law enforcement officials across the country, including by FBI directorJames BComey, who has said the scrutiny may be constraining ...

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Germany could create state cannabis agency for treating seriously-ill patients 

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In a draft bill, the health ministry recommends regulating the drug's cultivation and distribution by the state, German media reports

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Turkey’s Ruling Party Wins Parliamentary Elections 

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Turkey’s conservative ruling party won an unexpected victory in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, dashing opposition hopes and cementing the rule of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
With the vast majority of the vote counted on Sunday night, Turkey’s Daily Sabah newspaper projected the Justice and Development Party (known by the Turkish acronym AKP) to win more than 49 percent of the popular vote, more than enough for a significant majority of seats in the country’s 550-seat parliament.
The surprising comeback of Erdoğan’s party ensures that party and its brand of “conservative democracy” will continue to be the dominant force in Turkish politics, continuing more than 13 years of rule.
But regardless of Sunday’s results, Erdogan and the parliament have a challenging task ahead of them. The government faces a bitterly divided public, deep challenges to Turkey’s economy, and serious security and strategic problems surrounding Turkey’s involvement in the crisis in Syria.
“It’s going to be uncomfortable,” said Nigar Göksel, a senior analyst with International Crisis Group based in Istanbul. “It’s going to be very hard to govern because the sides are so polarized. And it’s not going to change overnight. Trust in the rule of law; it’s so weak.”
Sunday’s results effectively reversed the results of the previous election less than six months ago, in which Erdoğan’s party lost its majority in parliament.
Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu preside over a country in which large portions of the public, particularly Kurds in the southeast of the country, distrust the state. The government also recently intensified military action against Kurdish militants and other armed groups as the country faces an upsurge in attacks that have been blamed on ISIS.
The previous parliamentary election in June was a setback for Erdogan and the AKP, who were deprived majority. The election also catapulted a new force into official politics in the form of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (known as HDP), which joined parliament for the first time after winning a 10 required percent of the popular vote.
The HDP is a diverse coalition of Kurds, other ethnic minorities, and leftists that advocates ethnic pluralism. Turkish progressives hailed the HDP’s rise—along with the AKP’s troubles—as a sign of a deeper shift in Turkish politics, perhaps even the end of the Erdoğan era.
Those hopes unraveled in the months that followed. Turkey’s four main political parties failed to come up with a governing arrangement. When the coalition talks failed, Erdoğan set a date for early elections on November 1.
In another ominous sign, two massive bomb attacks took place, one targeting a group of left-wing volunteers heading to Syria, another striking an opposition rally in the capital, Ankara, killing at least 102 people in Turkey’s deadliest insurgent attack in recent history.
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Haitians flow into cemeteries to mark Voodoo day of the dead

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People have been streaming into cemeteries across Haiti bearing candles, food offerings and bottles of dark rum to mark the country’s Voodoo festival of the dead.

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Obama, FBI director spar over the 'Ferguson Effect' on police - The Hill

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The Hill

Obama, FBI director spar over the 'Ferguson Effect' on police
The Hill
President Obama and his FBI director are sparring over whether the so-called “Ferguson Effect” is real, complicating the president's push to loosen the nation's sentencing laws. The dispute could threaten the growing bipartisan momentum behind a ...
White House plays down split between Obama, FBI chief over criminal justiceWashington Post
White House says Obama still supports FBI Director James ComeyWashington Times
Did Obama call FBI Director Comey on the carpet yesterday?American Thinker (blog)
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Doomed Russian jet did not issue a distress call: report

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November 1, 2015, 12:23 PM (IDT)
The Russian passenger plane that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday did not send out any distress call, reports said Sunday, meaning that the plane suddenly blew up. A number of Israeli commentators continue to claim, like Egypt, that the pilots reported a technical problem to the Egyptian control tower, and that the plane broke in half during the flight. However, there is no basis to those reports.

For cybersecurity, US government seeks a few good hackers -

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For cybersecurity, US government seeks a few good hackers
Black Hat attracts cybersecurity companies that are eager to mingle with government officials and secure government work. The DEF CON crowd skews toward the Hollywood hackerstereotypes of geeks in casual or slightly punk attire. But people at both ...

Softening sentences, losing leverage 

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Some prosecutors fear the consequences of reducing mandatory minimums for drug convictions.

Iran Slaps Obama In The Face - Liberty News Now

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Iran Slaps Obama In The Face
Liberty News Now
News of Mr. Namazi's arrest rekindled fears that Iran is continuing to engage in their hate basedanti-Americanism that prevailed before the talks that led to the nuclear deal. Erdbrink quoted Mark Toner, a deputy spokesman for the State Department ...

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FBI Agent Accidentally Shot by Texas DPS Special Agent - Breitbart News

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Breitbart News

FBI Agent Accidentally Shot by Texas DPS Special Agent
Breitbart News
Breitbart Texas reported that FBI Special Agent Mike Orndorff was shot while assisting the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)during the service of an arrest warrant. During the warrant service, “an incident happened,” according to DPS Sergeant ...
FBI agent shot in Texas while arresting a suspectCBS News
LPD: Local FBI Agent Shot While Working In
Texas DPS says FBI agent 'accidentally shot' during investigation in
Jackson Clarion Ledger -KTRK-TV
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FBI arrests third man for alleged role in cocaine distribution, identity theft - Miami Herald

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Miami Herald

FBI arrests third man for alleged role in cocaine distribution, identity theft
Miami Herald
FBI agents have arrested three of four South Florida men wanted for their alleged roles in an identity theft scheme and for cocaine distribution. Odenia Samson, 33, was caught in Phoenix, Ariz. by the agency and a FBI task force based in the area ...

Obama Administration Rolls Out New Cybersecurity Rules for Nuclear Power Plants - InsideSources

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Obama Administration Rolls Out New Cybersecurity Rules for Nuclear Power Plants
“This rule establishes new cyber security event notification requirements that contribute to the NRC's analysis of the reliability and effectiveness of licensees' cyber security programs and plays an important role in the continuing effort to provide ...
White House Details Plan to Bring Feds' Cybersecurity Up to
Young people - particularly women - aren't hearing about cybersecurity jobsNaked Security
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Hacked News -NBC Bay Area -BuzzFeed News
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ISIL Oil Sales Drop 'Significantly' Due To Russian Airstrikes in Syria

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19:56 31.10.2015(updated 19:59 31.10.2015)
Nicolas Dhuicq, a member of the French legislative defense commission, said that ISIL not only sells crude oil, but 'pays people to refine oil in its own places.'
VIENNA (Sputnik), Svetlana Alexandrova – Oil sales conducted by the Islamic State (ISIL) jihadist group dropped dramatically after Russia launched its airstrikes against terrorist positions in Syria, a member of the French legislative defense commission told Sputnik on Saturday.
'As far as I know, ISIL' budget is close to $2 billion. However, Islamic State-controlled oil sales have declined significantly in recent weeks due to the Russian campaign in Syria,' Nicolas Dhuicq said.
In over a month of operations requested by Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Russian General Staff said over 1,600 terrorist objects were destroyed in nearly 1,400 sorties in Syria. A total of 131 ammunition and fuel depots have been destroyed since September 30, it said.
Dhuicq, a French National Assembly Defense Commission member, added that the terrorist group that has gained ground in Syria and Iraq over the past years not only sells crude oil, but 'pays people to refine oil in its own places.'
He contended that the ISIL oil revenues originated mostly from private donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
A US Treasury Department spokesperson told Sputnik last week ISIL has generated up to $1.5 billion from looting banks and illicit oil proceeds of about $40 million per month.
Also Nicolas Dhuicq stated that the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group generates oil revenue from private donors most likely in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
Reports emerged this week claiming the ISIL earns monthly oil revenues through illicit sales and smuggling of up to $50 million. A former CIA official confirmed to Sputnik most illegal oil exports are likely to be conducted through Turkey.
'ISIL is funded, probably, by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are trying to gain back their share of influence in the regions of Iraq and Syria against Iran. Until now, IS continues to receive money from these countries, most likely from private donors,' Nicolas Dhuicq said.
Dhuicq, who estimated the ISIL budget at 'close to $2 billion,' claimed that Turkish donors were also involved in re-selling crude oil purchased from the terrorist organization.
'Money may also come from the secret services of the countries and also from Turkey,' the French National Assembly Defense Commission member told Sputnik.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are part of a US-led coalition conducting anti-ISIL airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. The 60-nation coalition operates in Syria without approval from Damascus or the UN Security Council.
© Sputnik

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Russian plane crash: Egypt says it has found both black boxes of plane that crashed with 224 people on board

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Egypt's civil aviation minister Hossam Kamal said there had been no sign of any problems on board the flight.
Initially reports suggested it had asked to land early because of a technical failure but Mr Kamal told a press conference on Saturday that this was not the case.
"Up until the crash happened, we were never informed of any faults in the plane, nor did we receive any SOS calls," he said.
All contact with air traffic control had been normal, and pre-flight checks showed no problems, he added.
Debris from crashed Russian jet lies strewn across the sand at the site of the crash, Sinai, Egypt
The Airbus A321 with 214 Russian and three Ukranian passengers and seven crew, had taken off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in south Sinai bound for Saint Petersburg. It lost contact with air traffic control 23 minutes later.
"Unfortunately, all passengers of Kogalymavia flight 9268 Sharm el-Sheikh-Saint Petersburg have died. We issue condolences to family and friends," the Russian embassy in Cairo said.
The wreckage was found roughly 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the North Sinai town of El-Arish, Egyptian officials said.
Debris and bodies was spread over an area of between two and a half to just over three square miles. The aircraft's black box had been retrieved and sent for analysis, Mr Ismail said.
The Isil affiliate waging an insurgency in the Sinai claimed that "the soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane". It said this was in revenge for Russian air strikes against Isil in Syria.
Debris from crashed Russian jet lies strewn across the sand at the site of the crash, Sinai, Egypt
Three military experts said Isil in Sinai does not have surface-to-air missiles capable of hitting a plane at high altitude. But they could not exclude the possibility of a bomb on board or a surface-to-air missile strike if the aircraft had been descending to make an emergency landing.
The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin ordered rescue teams dispatched to Egypt. Russian experts would take part in the Egyptian-led investigation, Mr Ismail said.
After not answering its phones for much of the day, Kogalymavia, which operates under the name Metrojet, broke its silence with a statement offering condolences to the families of the victims.
"We will all need great courage to overcome these losses," it said.
It also defended the pilot, saying he had "more than 12,000 hours" of flight experience, "including 3,860 hours with Airbus A321".
Debris from crashed Russian jet lies strewn across the sand at the site of the crash, Sinai, Egypt
Russia's emergency ministry published a list of the passengers, ranging in age from a 10-month-old girl to a 77-year-old woman. A senior Egyptian aviation official said the charter flight was flying at 30,000 feet when communication was lost.
At Saint Petersburg's Pulkovo airport, family members awaited news. Ella Smirnova, 25, said she had been there to meet her parents.
"I spoke to them last on the phone when they were already on the plane, and then I heard the news.
"I will keep hoping until the end that they are alive, but perhaps I will never see them again."
A senior Egyptian air traffic control official said the pilot told him in their last communication that he had radio trouble.
Russian aviation official Sergei Izvolsky told Interfax news agency the aircraft took off from Sharm el-Sheikh at 5:51 am (0351 GMT).
He said it did not make contact as expected with Cyprus air traffic control.
"Communication was lost today with the Airbus 321 of Kogalymavia which was carrying out flight 9268 from Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg," Izvolsky told Russian television networks.
"The plane departed Sharm el-Sheikh with 217 passengers and seven crew members. At 7:14 Moscow time the crew was scheduled to make contact with... Larnaca (Cyprus). However, this did not happen and the plane disappeared from the radar screens."
Metrojet, says it has two A320s and seven A321s, and that it carried 779,626 passengers in the first nine months of 2015, according to the Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia.
Russia has a dismal air safety record, with charter operators often under pressure to book to capacity on ageing jets in an attempt to cut costs.
Kogalymavia is a small regional carrier that flies mostly international charter services.
The crash is likely to raise renewed concerns about the safety of air travel in a country with an ageing fleet of airliners.
The last major air crash in Egypt was in 2004, when a Flash Airlines Boeing 737 plunged into the Red Sea after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh. All 148 people on board, most of them French, died.
Millions of tourists, including many Russians, visit the resort, one of Egypt's major attractions for its pristine beaches and scuba diving.
It and other resorts dotting the Red Sea coast are heavily secured by the military and police, as an Islamist insurgency rages in north Sinai bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip since the army ousted president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.


Emirates airlines has announced it has stopped flying over Egypt's Sinai peninsula after the Russian passenger plane went down in the area.
"Emirates is currently avoiding flying over the Sinai peninsula until more information is available," a spokesman said in a statement.
"We are currently monitoring the situation."




AFP has heartbreaking details of how friends and relatives at Pulkovo airport in Saint Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, were told the news of the crash:
Airport officials tried to keep things calm with a tannoy announcement asking all those waiting to meet those on board the ill-fated Sharm el-Sheikh flight to "come to the information stand".
They were then ushered on to buses and taken to a hotel where psychologists and doctors were waiting at an impromptu crisis centre which has already asked family members to provide DNA samples for identifying remains.


We have some of the latest pictures from the crash site:
Debris from crashed Russian jet lies strewn across the sand at the site of the crash, Sinai, Egypt


Eliot Higgins, citizen journalist and founder of bellingcat, has a satirical take on Isil claims of responsibility...


The A321 is a medium-haul jet in service since 1994, with over 1,100 in operation worldwide and a good safety record. It is a highly automated aircraft relying on computers to help pilots stay within safe flying limits.
Airbus said the A321 that crashed was built in 1997 and had been operated by Metrojet since 2012. It had flown 56,000 hours in nearly 21,000 flights and was powered by engines from International Aero Engines consortium, which includes United Technologies unit Pratt & Whitney and Germany's MTU Aero Engines .


Russia's Investigative Committee says it is checking fuel samples from the aircraft's last refueling stop, in the southern Russian city of Samara, according to RIA news agency. Searches are also being carried out at Moscow's Domodedovo airport where the airline that operated the plane is based.


David Millward, our former transport editor, has details of warnings issued to airlines flying over Sinai:
David Millward Last summer the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington issued a safety warning, known as a Notice to Airmen, saying airlines should not fly below 26,000 feet when passing over the north of the Sinai peninsula.
It advised “extreme caution during flight operations due to ongoing violence, unrest security operations and the risk to safety from small arms, rocket propelled grenades, mortars, anti-aircraft fire and shoulder fired, man portable air defence systems".
Debris from crashed Russian jet lies strewn across the sand at the site of the crash, Sinai, Egypt
However, airlines said they would be well above this altitude when passing over the region.
The FAA warning was repeated by the European Aviation Safety Agency.


Air France is the latest airline to say it will avoid flying over the Sinai Peninsula for safety reasons. A spokeswoman for the company that Air France flights will avoid the area pending the investigation "as a precaution, until further notice".


Here's what Sharif Ismail, the Egyptian prime minister, said earlier about the possibility that an Isil affiliate had shot down the plane, according to the state news agency Mena:
Quote Experts have affirmed that technically planes at this altitude cannot be shot down, and the black box will be the one that will reveal the reasons for the crash.


Egypt has now recovered both black boxes, the civil aviation minister told a news conference. Egyptian authorities had earlier said they had found one.



Reuters is reporting that France's civil aviation safety agency (BEA) will be sending a team of two safety investigators to Egypt along with six technical advisers from Airbus. They will be joined by two investigators from Germany's Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation and four from the Russian equivalent, the Interstate Aviation Committee (MAK).


Mt Sinai, Sinai Desert, Egypt
Mike O’Kane, a pilot who has flown out of Sharm el Sheikh, gives a sense of the area's challenging terrain.
Quote The terrain rises to around 9,000 feet very quickly and you are at 10,500 feet within about 25 miles of the airport.
You have to be certain of your navigation and the performance of the aeroplane. One of the things I emphasise is you have to know which way to turn if an engine fails.
Normally an engine failure is not a problem, but flying out of Sharm does require more planning and awareness of what you are going to turn into.



Lufthansa is one of the airlines that says it will now avoid the area. However, British Airways says it will continue to fly over Sinai.
Quote The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority, and we would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so.
Our safety team continually liaises with the appropriate authorities around the world, and we conduct very detailed risk assessments into every route we operate.


There's a lot of scepticism that Isil would have been able to shoot down an airliner at close to cruising altitude.


The Russian airline whose plane crashed in the Sinai region on Saturday says the aircraft was in good shape and the pilot was experienced.
In a statement on its website, Moscow-based Metrojet says the A321 received required factory maintenance in 2014.
The statement identified the captain of the plane as Valery Nemov and said he had 12,000 air hours of experience, including 3,860 in A321s.


AFP is reporting more details on the Islamic State (IS) group affiliate in Egypt that claimed that it downed the plane, without saying how, but there has been no official word on the cause of the crash.
The IS affiliate, which is waging a deadly insurgency in the Sinai, claimed that "the soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane" there.
It said this was in revenge for Russian air strikes against militants in Syria, where IS controls territories that straddle Iraq.
Three military experts said IS in Sinai does not have surface-to-air missiles capable of hitting a plane at high altitude.



AFP reports that the Islamic State group's affiliate in Egypt has claimed it had downed the Russian passenger plane that crashed Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula, where the jihadists are waging an insurgency, killing all on board.
"The soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane in Sinai," said the statement circulated on social media.



David Cameron says his thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims:

13.54 What caused the crash?

David Learmount, consulting editor with Flight Global, said it was too early to rule anything out during the early stages of an investigation.
“Flight radar data makes clear there was a flight upset, but we have no idea why. There are loads of terrorist factions operating in the area and many affiliated to Islamic State. The Egyptians work very hard on security at Sharm El Sheik because if you wanted to destroy the tourist economy that would be the likewise target. However the plane was too high for a shoulder launched missile, but it was 2,000 feet lower than MH17.”
However, sounding a note of caution about terrorism, he added: "In this case the aircraft appears to have come down in one piece, unlike MH17.”


Pilot Adel Mahjoub, the chairman of the Egyptian Company of Airports, which run Sharm el-Shiekh Airport, said that the Russian plane was checked before taking off and it was valid for flying.
He told press that a technical team was sent to Sharma el-Shiekh Airport to collect all available data about the plane before it took off, including the surveillance cameras of the security check and technical check, supplying the plane with fuel and meals before taking off. He added that all that data will be handed to the ministry of civil aviation and the air crashes accidents committee.


A statement from Egypt's President Abdulfattah al-Sisi:
Quote The Presidency of the Arab Republic of Egypt offers its sincere condolences to the leadership, government and people of Russia as well as the families of the victims of the Russian plane crash that took place near Al-Hasana City in Sinai.
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is following developments and is in contact with Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and other senior officials, who have headed to the crash site. The President instructed the investigation committee, formed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, to swiftly carry out its mission and identify the reasons that led to the accident. This is in addition to coordinating efforts with the relevant Russian authorities.
The Presidency is closely following the situation with members of the crisis management team, headed by the prime minister and that includes the ministers of civil aviation, tourism, interior, social solidarity, health and population, local development, and representatives from the ministry of defense and foreign affairs. The Presidency receives regular reports on the latest developments.


Ahmed Abu Draa, a well-known journalist based in El Arish for the Masry al-Youm (Egypt Today) newspaper, has told the Telegraph he has tried to get to the scene of the crash, about 60 miles south of El Arish, but been turned back by the military authorities, who have sealed off the area.
The plane came down in mountainous central Sinai, a remote and barren spot even before large areas became inaccessible because of the militant insurgency.


Police raided the Moscow offices of the Siberian-based airline Kogalymavia, whose planes are branded as Metrojet, on Saturday, the Interfax news agency reported. Police were reportedly seizing computers and documents.
Kogalymavia spokeswoman Oksana Golovina said that there was no reason to blame the pilots for the crash and that the captain of the plane had over 12,000 hours of flying experience, NTV television station reported.


According to the pilots’ online chatroom, Prune the pilot did report an engine malfunction. But at the same time pilots have also been warned of a potential terrorist threat in a Notice to Airmen:



Airbus has already set up a crisis room in Toulouse to gather information about the crash. The disaster will be investigated by experts from Russian and Egyptian aviation agencies. They will be joined by a team from the European Aviation Safety Agency, because the Airbus was made in Europe and the US National Transportation Safety Board because the engines were manufactured in America.
There are around 1,2000 Airbus 321s in service. The plane is best described as a medium haul workhorse used by airlines around the world. It has a range of 3,000 nautical miles - or 3,452 miles.
The A321 has been in the air since 1993. In July 2010 152 people died when an Airblue crashed into the Margalla hills while trying to land at Bhutto International Airport (ISB) in Pakistan. The accident was attributed to pilot error.
In 2003 an aircraft operated by TransAsia Airways had to be written off when it crashed a utility vehicle on the runway. There were no fatalities.
There have also been 17 other accidents in which a plane has sustained serious, but not catastrophic damage, the most recent being last month when an Air Berlin flight had to be diverted to Munich after suffering tire damage after taking off from Dusseldorf for Kos.


Egyptian officials say that all 224 passengers and crew have died.


This GIF shows where the crash site is thought to be:


Video footage has emerged of anxious relatives who were earlier today waiting at the airport in St Petersburg for more news:
Officials have since moved them to a nearby hotel.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order making tomorrow - November 1 - a national day of mourning.
All Russian flags on state buildings will be at half-mast and there will be special programmes on state-owned media outlets, according to the decree that was posted on the Kremlin website.


As investigators examine the plane's black box, we look at what this small item can tell us about a crash:


A security source has told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur(DPA) that the black box of the Russian plane has been found.
He added that from the primary examination of the wreckage and tail of the plane, there are no indications that the plane suffered a terrorist operation and at this stage the crash is thought to be caused by a technical error.
"There are no survivals among its passengers," the source told DPA.


Adel Mahgoub, chairman of the state company that runs Egypt's civilian airports, said all passengers and crew were Russian citizens.
Roughly three million Russian tourists, or nearly a third of all visitors in 2014, come to Egypt every year, mostly to Red Sea resorts in Sinai or in mainland Egypt.
"It is too premature to detect the impact this will have on tourism. We need to know what happened first," Tourism Ministry spokeswoman Rasha Azazi told The Associated Press.


Pictures have now emerged of distressed relatives waiting earlier today at the airport in St Petersburg for news of their loved ones. Authorities have since moved relatives to a nearby hotel:
Relatives of passengers of MetroJet Airbus A321 weep at Pulkovo II international airport in St. Petersburg, Russia
People gather at the airline information desk at of Russian airline Kogalymavia’s desk at Pulkovo airport in St.Petersburg, Russia
Relatives of passengers of MetroJet Airbus A321 wait at Pulkovo II international airport in St. Petersburg, Russia


Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered officials to coordinate with their Egyptian counterparts to organize the dispatch of Russian planes to Egypt with rescuers and investigators able to work at the site of the crash.
The Russian leader also ordered the country’s Emergency Situations ministry to work closely with relatives of the victims of those on board the plane. Relatives and friends who gathered at Saint Petersburg airport, where the downed plane was due to land, have now been removed in buses to a nearby hotel.
The Russian focus appears to now be on possible technical faults that could have brought down the plane. The Airbus that came down was built in 1994 but had been used intensively in recent years, according to Russian state-owned television. Sunday’s flight was reportedly its 17th of this week.
Russia has launched a criminal investigation into the crash, according a spokesman for the country’s Investigative Committee.


Rescuers claim they have heard voices in the wreckage of the Russian plane that has crashed in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, according to Sky News.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed government departments to begin organising official assistance for the families of those on board the Kogalymavia flight, according to Russian news service RIA Novosti.


An official in the Egyptian Air traffic control has told local reporters that the last communication with the pilot of the Russian plane was while he was flying at 30 thousand feet. The pilot complained of malfunction in the wireless devices and he asked for an emergency landing at the nearest airport.


The crew of the downed plane had made recent complaints about engine trouble, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, that cites security sources at Sharm el-Sheikh airport.
"Several times in the last week this plane had requested assistance from technical support because the engine would not start," the source was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
The plane was an Airbus A320, the first of which were produced in the 1980s. The first flight of an Airbus A320 was in 1988.


The Egyptian prime minister Sherif Ismail said that an investigation will be opened into the crash of the Russian plane.
He added in a statement before heading to the location of the crash, that a team from the Ministry of Aviation will go to the crash location and that there is coordination with the Russians in this regard.


The Israeli military says it is assisting Egypt with aerial surveillance as the recovery operation in the Sinai begins.
Israel has the most sophisticated military in the region and its spy planes and satellites could be useful to Egyptian authorities. The Israeli military says it has offered continuing help to both Russia and Egypt if needed.


A Russian website with close links to the security services has published a complete list of passengers.
Many of the surnames are the same, indicating dozens of families were on the plane. Egypt is a traditionally very popular area for Russian tourists.


The Ministry of Tourism has just released a statement saying the Prime Minister, Sherif Ismail, and Hisham Zazou, have come out of an emergency cabinet meeting in Cairo and are now on their way to the crash scene with a number of other ministers.


Richard Spencer reports:
Quote The area where the wreckage has been reported is just off the road between El Arish to some of the villages at the heart of the current insurgency just a couple of miles away, and has been sealed off by the military for all non-locals for more than a year.
Mohammed Sabry, a reporter based in El Arish, has told us the area of the crash is firmly sealed off. He quotes a government spokesman telling him that any injured survivors will be taken to the Nasser Institute Hospital in Cairo and the dead to the Zeinhom morgue, also in the capital.


This map shows the town of Hasna, near Arish, close to the crash site:


Our correspondent Magdy Samaan reports:
Quote The rescue teams have found the wreckage of the plane in an area South of Arish called Hasna. Search and rescue teams have arrived to the location of the crashed plane. The plane was flying on 31 thousand feet when it disappeared from the radar, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.


There are reports the plane’s captain told air traffic control shortly after take-off that the flight was suffering a technical fault and requested a change of route.
In an earlier statement the Egyptian cabinet said: "Military planes have discovered the wreckage of the plane... in a mountainous area, and 45 ambulances have been directed to the site to evacuate dead and wounded.”
Prime Minister Ismail cancelled a visit to the city of Ismailiya and formed an operations room to follow up on the situation.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Facebook page that Russian Embassy personnel in Egypt are working to clarify the situation.


AFP reports: Egyptian military planes have spotted the wreckage of a Russian passenger plane that crashed Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula with 224 people on board, the government said.
"Military planes have discovered the wreckage of the plane... in a mountainous area, and 45 ambulances have been directed to the site to evacuate dead and wounded," a cabinet statement said.



Our Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer reports:
Quote El Arish, the town near the spot apparently located by rescuers as the crash scene, is the main city on the north, Mediterranean coast of the Sinai. It is also the main government base in the fight against the insurgents whose uprising has been based in the towns and villages to the south and east such as Sheikh Zuweid.
On a visit to the area two years ago, before the military sealed it off, The Telegraph witnessed the army sending in Apache helicopters and blowing up houses it believed belonged to the insurgents, who then went by the name Ansar Beit al-Maqdis. Since then they have renamed themselves "Wilayat Sinai" - the Province of Sinai, of Isil's "Caliphate".
In return, scores of police and soldiers have been killed by shootings, ambushes and mines - roadside IEDS - around El Arish.


The remains of the plane have been found in the desolate mountainous area of Southern Arish, Sinai.
Rescue workers said the airbus KGL-9268, had been almost completely destroyed and there were unlikely to be any survivors.



On board the plane were 17 children, along with 200 adults and seven crew, said aviation authorities.
Meanwhile Egyptian security sources said there were no indications that the airbus had been shot down.


Our Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer reports:
Quote Online flight tracking websites show the plane came down in an area of northern Sinai close to the Israeli border. Perhaps more significantly close to the area where the Egyptian army is fighting an insurgency by militants loyal to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.


Sharm el Sheikh airport Egypt
The Airbus A-321 had just taken off from the Red Sea resort on its way to the Russian city of St Petersburg when it crashed.
Most of the passengers were understood to be tourists.
The Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsiya said in a statement that flight 9268 left Sharm el-Sheikh at 06:51 Moscow time (03:51 GMT) and was due into St Petersburg's Pulkovo airport at 12:10.
The authority added that the aircraft failed to make scheduled contact with Cyprus air traffic control 23 minutes after take-off and disappeared from the radar.


A Russian plane carrying more than 200 people has crashed after taking off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The Egyptian government confirmed on Saturday morning that the passenger plane had gone down in central Sinai.
A statement from prime minister Sherif Ismail’s office said he had formed a cabinet level crisis committee to deal with the crash.
Prime minister Ismail’s office stated: “A Russian civilian plane... crashed in the central Sinai."
Egyptian air traffic control lost contact with the civilian airliner, carrying 224 people, shortly after it took off from the popular resort Sharm el-Sheikh to head to Russia, aviation sources said.
The sources said the passenger plane was mainly carrying Russian tourists and that a search was underway.
There was confusion earlier after one report said the plane had reappeared over Turkey.
Ayman al-Muqaddam, the head of the central air traffic accident authority in Egypt, initially said: "The ... Russian airline had told us that the Russian plane we lost contact with is safe and that it has contacted Turkish air traffic control and is passing through Turkish skies now,"
But security sources in the Sinai Peninsula also confirmed reports that the aircraft was missing.
A senior aviation official said it was a charter flight operated by a Russian company and had on board 217 passengers and seven crew members. Communication with the aircraft was lost, he added.
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Wikileaks Founder Defends Publishing CIA Director's Private Email 

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The CIA has condemned the hacking that swiped the emails, claiming that nothing classified was exposed. Brennan said that he was "outraged by it," when asked at an intelligence conference at George Washington ...

America's top spy blasts Putin's Syria campaign

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Iran Press TV
Iran Press TV
Fri Oct 30, 2015 7:11AM
America's top spy has blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin's military campaign in Syria as an "impulsive" move that lacks careful strategic planning.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper described Putin's move in providing military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as "opportunistic."
'I personally question whether he has some long-term strategy or whether he (Putin) is being very opportunistic on a day-to-day basis,' Clapper said. 'And I think his intervention into Syria is another manifestation of that.'
He also claimed that the Russian president has no plans for the future of his campaign of airstrikes against the Daesh Takfiri group in Syria.
'What his long term plan is, I'm not sure he has one,' Clapper said. 'I think he is kind of winging this day to day.'
Clapper said Putin is in a "decisional bubble," mostly because "he is not subjected to a steady stream of bad news" for which Moscow's intelligence service is to blame.
"He makes this decisions pretty much on his own," Clapper said.
The comments come as US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian officials are scheduled to meet in Vienna on Friday as part of international talks on a Syrian peace deal.
US officials have previously called Russia's airstrikes a 'strategic blunder,' with President Barack Obama saying earlier this month that Russia was going to face an inevitable 'quagmire' in the Arab country.
'It just won't work, and they're going to stay there for a while,' Obama said.
Putin has responded to US claims by lambasting the Obama administration's approach in Syria.
Speaking about the now year-long purported US-led airstrikes against Daesh in Syria and Washington's recruitment of and support for militants fighting the Assad government at the same time, the Russian head of state slammed the White House for staging "a double game" in Syria by "announcing the fight against terrorists" on the one hand and using some others "to position pawns."
He said Washington's airstrikes were launched "without considering the legitimacy of the use of force and its consequences," and were "only multiplying problems.'

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Eight points agreed at multinational Vienna conference on Syria

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October 30, 2015, 9:00 PM (IDT)
The 17 nations meeting in Vienna Friday, led by the US, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, reached accord on seven points for a political resolution of the Syrian civil war.
1) Syria’s territorial integrity and secular character will be preserved.
2)  Government institutions, including the army and security forces, will continue to function after a political accord is achieved.
3)  Syrian territory must be secured. (Under whose responsibility?)
4)  ISIS and other extremist Muslim groups must be defeated.
5)  Syrian government and rebel parties will meet to hammer out a political solution for ending the conflict.
6)  General elections will take place under UN auspices.
7)  The Syrians will administer their own political moves without outside interference.
8)  The Syrian question will be solved by political means alone.
DEBKAfile:  The main issue still outstanding is the fate of Bashar Assad. This will be discussed when the multinational session conference is reconvened in two weeks’ time.

NATO Chief: Russia Conducted Several Tests of Illegal Cruise Missile 

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