Thursday, June 11, 2015

Defying Obama, Many in Congress Press to Arm Ukraine: The Senate has included provisions in its military policy bill to arm Ukraine with antiarmor systems, mortars, grenade launchers and ammunition to aid in its fight against Russian-backed separatists. It would also prevent the administration from spending more than one half of $300 million in aid for Ukraine unless 20 percent is earmarked for offensive weapons. The House has passed a similar measure. So far, the Obama administration has refused to provide lethal aid, fearing that it would only escalate the bloodshed and give President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia a pretext for further incursions.

Defying Obama, Many in Congress Press to Arm Ukraine

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WASHINGTON — With the peace process stalled and violence escalating in Ukraine, a bipartisan coalition in Congress is defying President Obama and European allies by pressing the administration to provide weapons to the embattled nation.
The Senate has included provisions in its military policy bill to arm Ukraine with antiarmor systems, mortars, grenade launchers and ammunition to aid in its fight against Russian-backed separatists. It would also prevent the administration from spending more than one half of $300 million in aid for Ukraine unless 20 percent is earmarked for offensive weapons. The House has passed a similar measure.
So far, the Obama administration has refused to provide lethal aid, fearing that it would only escalate the bloodshed and give President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia a pretext for further incursions.
The push by lawmakers to arm Ukraine’s beleaguered armed forces threatens to open a rift between the United States and key allies, especially Germany and France, at a time when the Obama administration has been working to demonstrate unified support for extending European economic sanctions against Russia that are scheduled to expire at the end of July.
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who has championed the effort to send arms to Ukraine for more than a year, dismissed the fears that it would worsen the conflict and unravel the international coalition.
Citing the attacks on Ukraine as “one of the most shameful and dishonorable acts I have seen in my life,” Mr. McCain said in an interview that the response so far to Russia’s aggression had been insufficient. “They are not asking for a single boot on the ground,” he said on the Senate floor Thursday, adding, “I am a bit taken aback by the vociferous opposition” to weapons help.
Earlier this week, the Ukrainian prime minister, Anseniy P. Yatsenyuk, met with lawmakers in Washington to make the case for military and financial aid, and was met with sympathy.
“There has been a strong bipartisan well of support for quite some time for providing lethal support,” said Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California. “We have offered Russia all kinds of exit ramps and they were clearly not interested in taking them.”
But in the latest sign of the reluctance by the White House, Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, gave a speech on Thursday in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in which she excoriated Russia but did not mention sending offensive weapons as a possibility.
Instead, she focused on combating the Russian misinformation campaign, praising the Ukrainians for undertaking a government overhaul and warning only vaguely of a tougher stance by the United States.
In Kiev on Thursday, a Ukrainian military spokesman reported that three soldiers had been killed in attacks by Russian-backed separatists, and at least 13 were wounded in the latest fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk. Officials from the self-declared, pro-Russian separatist republics said that two of their soldiers had been killed and at least two more wounded in attacks by the Ukrainian military.
While the United States has been providing nonlethal assistance, and American military instructorshave begun training Ukrainian troops in western Ukraine, President Petro O. Poroshenko has also made clear he would welcome more help in the form of weapons, as he seeks to build up his country’s military to face down the threat from Russia.
“We have an effective form of cooperation, but not with lethal weapons, with the United States, Canada, U.K.,” Mr. Poroshenko said in an interview in his office last week. “We are very satisfied with the current level of cooperation but we would be happy if the level of this cooperation would be increased.”
The bipartisan pressure developing on Capitol Hill, however, comes at an awkward time. Mr. Putin in recent days has repeatedly blamed the Ukrainian government for continuing cease-fire violations,while calling on the United States and its European allies to pressure Kiev to fully put the peace accord in place.
That has set the stage for a pitched debate between lawmakers and the White House that could well undermine Mr. Obama’s repeated assertion that the United States sees no military solution to the conflict in Ukraine.
“I have never seen a more aggressive and emotional debate than I have on this question,” said Matthew Rojansky, the director of the Kennan Institute in Washington and expert on Russia and Ukraine. Mr. Rojansky said the debate is “reminiscent of that when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.”
Reflecting the view of many experts, Mr. Rojansky added, “There are valid arguments on both sides but you don’t get to walk this back. Once we have done this we become a belligerent party in a proxy war with Russia, the only country on earth that can destroy the United States. That’s why this is a big deal.”
In his confirmation hearing in March, Ashton B. Carter, the secretary of defense, told senators that he would consider increased military assistance to Ukraine, including the sale of lethal arms, reflecting the views of some other senior administration officials.
If Congress moves forward with restrictions on the money allocated for Ukraine, a standoff with the White House could also conceivably block much-needed nonlethal aid.
Lawmakers who oppose sending weapons to Ukraine note that Washington could never send enough hardware for Ukraine to defeat Russian-backed forces militarily. And it is not clear that the Ukrainian military is sufficiently trained to make proper use of American weapons without substantial assistance by American military personnel, or that the weapons would not end up in enemy hands.
There also are internal debates even within Ukraine over the wisdom of America stepping in and giving Mr. Putin a propaganda weapon.
“If you’re playing chess with Russia you have to think two moves ahead,” said Senator Angus King, independent of Maine, who is among those lawmakers skeptical of providing arms. “I am afraid this could provoke a major East-West confrontation.”
Julia Osmolovskaya, the managing partner of the Institute of Negotiation Skills, a mediation group in Kiev, said Ukrainians were divided over the potential benefits of receiving weapons from the United States and the inherent risk of stoking further violence, and also perplexed by Washington’s mixed messages.
“There is a bit of frustration, I’m afraid, in Ukrainian society,” Ms. Osmolovskaya said in an interview. “We have some support in the Congress for giving Ukraine more military assistance, then your president takes a more ambiguous position.”
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Defying Obama, Many in Congress Press to Arm Ukraine

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The Senate has included provisions in its military policy bill to arm Ukraine with antiarmor systems, mortars, grenade launchers and ammunition to aid in its fight against Russian-backed separatists.

Armenians, Yazidi, Roma in Turkey's diverse new parliament - DAWN.com

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DAWN.com

Armenians, Yazidi, Roma in Turkey's diverse new parliament
DAWN.com
ANKARA: The new Turkish parliament will show greater diversity than before, with three Armenians elected from three different parties and also representatives from other minority ethnic or religious backgrounds. Their presence is a hugely important step in ... 
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U.S. Prepares Plan to Send Hundreds More Trainers to Iraq

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President Barack Obama is poised to send hundreds more American military advisers into the heart of the Islamic State stronghold northwest of Baghdad to help devise a counterattack to drive the Sunni extremists on the defensive.

Islamic State Rule Transforms Mosul

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Iraq’s second-largest city has never looked so good thanks to strict laws enforced by Islamic State. But beneath the veneer, residents live in fear.

Russia to Maintain Sanctions Against the West

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Russia will keep sanctions against the West in place and may even expand the penalties if the political tensions of the Cold War nature deepen, officials said.

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France Says Evidence Suggests Russians Hacked Broadcaster

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French investigators suspect a group of Russian hackers posing as Islamic State militants were behind an April attack that crippled a French-language TV broadcaster.

Ukraine Warns Bailout Could Be Derailed

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Ukraine’s leadership warned Wednesday that the likelihood of prolonged conflict against Russian-backed separatists and deadlocked creditor negotiations threaten to derail the West’s $40 billion bailout program.

Iran Backs Taliban With Cash and Arms

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Tehran has quietly increased its supply of weapons, ammunition and funding to the Taliban, and is now recruiting and training its fighters, posing a new threat to Afghanistan’s fragile security.

U.S. Considers Opening Network of Bases in Iraq

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The Obama administration is considering opening a network of new bases in Iraq like the hub being established west of Baghdad, the nation’s top military officer said Thursday.

Barack Obama approves additional troops for fight against Isis in Iraq, says White House - video 

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The White House confirms on Wednesday that US president Barack Obama has authorised up to 450 additional military personnel to be deployed to Iraq's eastern Anbar province. The reinforcements will bring the number of US military forces in the country to 3,550. The White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, adds that the new troops will be providing Iraqi forces with advice, assistance and equipment, but will not serve in a combat role Continue reading...

US Weighing More Military Bases in Iraq to Fight ISIS, Top General Says - New York Times

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New York Times

US Weighing More Military Bases in Iraq to Fight ISIS, Top General Says
New York Times
NAPLES, Italy — The United States is considering establishing a new network of American military bases in Iraq to aid in the fight against the Islamic State, senior military and administration officials said Thursday, potentially deepening American involvement ...
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Pentagon Calls for China to End Island-Building, Seeks More Military Contact 

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U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter met a top Chinese general on Thursday and repeated a U.S. call for a halt to land reclamation in the South China Sea while stressing that the Pentagon remained committed to expanding military contacts with China. In the meeting with General Fan Changlong, a deputy head of China's powerful Central Military Commission, Carter stressed his commitment to developing "a sustained and substantive U.S.-China military-to-military relationship," the...

US Overtakes Saudi Arabia as World's Largest Oil Producer

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The United States is now the world’s largest oil producer. A report by the BP Energy Company credits the “shale revolution” for a surge in American oil and natural gas production that has helped the U.S. “leapfrog” ahead of the world’s top energy producers. Others say that while boosting oil production is easy, learning how to use less of it is hard. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.

US Deploys 450 Additional Troops to Advise Iraqi Forces

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From: VOAvideo
Duration: 02:34

The Obama administration has announced it will send 450 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to train, assist and advise local forces in their fight against the Islamic State militant group. The announcement comes as Iraqi troops try to regain control of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.

IS Recruiters Target Central Asia 

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From: VOAvideo
Duration: 02:08

Central Asia has become an increasing source of foreign fighters for radical militant groups operating in the Middle East, notably Islamic State. The group's aggressive recruiting targets vulnerable young men in countries with declining economic prospects and repressive governments. Zlatica Hoke reports on what motivates people to join the radical Islamists and what can be done to stop them.

US Overtakes Saudi Arabia as World's Largest Oil Producer

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From: VOAvideo
Duration: 02:14

The United States is now the world’s largest oil producer. A report by the BP Energy Company credits the “shale revolution” for a surge in American oil and natural gas production that has helped the U.S. “leapfrog” ahead of the world’s top energy producers. Others say that while boosting oil production is easy, learning how to use less of it is hard. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.

Hackers nabbed data on every federal employee, union claims - Fox News

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Fox News

Hackers nabbed data on every federal employee, union claims
Fox News
A major cyberattack on U.S. federal personnel data was far graver than the Obama administration has acknowledged, with hackers obtaining information on every federal employee, the president of a government workers union claimed Thursday. In a letter to ... 
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Can the U.S. Military Train the Iraqi Army to Victory Over ISIS?

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The U.S. military likes to say that when it comes to war, the enemy gets a vote. President Obama made that clear Wednesday as he continued to retool his strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. The biggest tweak to U.S. policy was his decision to boost the 3,180 U.S. trainers and advisers in Iraq by as many as 450 additional troops.
The White House has made it clear U.S. troops will be limited to advising and training Iraqi forces and will not be sent into combat against ISIS. “To improve the capabilities and effectiveness of partners on the ground, the President authorized the deployment of up to 450 additional U.S. military personnel to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces at Taqaddum military base in eastern Anbar province,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement. But some on Capitol Hill were not impressed by Obama’s reinforcements. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, a senior member of the armed services committee, called them a “knee-jerk reaction” to recent poor showings by the Iraqi army, rather than a “long-term strategy.”
In many ways, this assignment is déjà vu for the U.S. military. They were ordered into Iraq in the wake of the U.S.-mandated dissolution of the Iraqi army following the 2003 invasion, and told to build a new one from scratch. After all U.S. forces left in 2011, the Iraqi army basically fell apart because of the cronyism and corruption that took place under Nouri al-Malaki, Iraq’s prime minister from 2006 to 2014. Over the past several months they’ve begun anew, training more than 9,000 Iraqi troops, with 3,000 more in the pipeline.
Those sectarian splits caused by Malaki’s government sapped the Iraqi forces “will to fight” to save Ramadi from being overrun by ISIS last month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. While training can give troops the skills needed to prevail on the battlefield, training can’t teach will. Nonetheless, U.S. troops who trained Iraqi forces the first time around say Iraqi forces, given decent leadership, are good fighters. They’ve shared their experiences with Army interviewers. The resulting oral histories offer guidance to those U.S. trainers in, or soon headed for, Iraq.
In the initial rebuilding of the Iraqi army, many units suffered from a Saddam Hussein hangover, where the traditional top-down and centralized command structure stifled innovation and initiative. While the passage of time has eased that problem, Iraqi forces remain hampered by their inability to support their forward forces with the intelligence and logistical support that makes for an effective fighting force. That’s less critical for their ISIS foes, whose terror tactics sow fear across wide swaths of Iraq with only hit-and-run attacks.
U.S. officers who trained Iraqi troops the first time around learned they had to adjust their expectations. “As Americans, we tend to look at things through American goggles, but when you’re over there you have to take off those American goggles and put on the Iraqi goggles,” Army Major Dave Karsen explained following his 2006 training tour. “Once you do that it was like, `Oh, you guys are doing fine by Iraqi standards.’ Put those American goggles back on and it’s like, `You guys are 50 years in the weeds. You guys are operating at a 1918 U.S. capability compared to now.’ It’s just a totally different mindset.”
The key lesson for U.S. trainers was that Iraqi troops are trainable. “When an IED event happened, their first reaction early on was what is referred to as the ‘Iraq death blossom,’ where everybody starts shooting in every direction,” Major Matt Schreiber said of his training stint. “That poses a lot of problems for a number of reasons.” But the Iraqis shaped up with training: “If an IED blew up or detonated, despite the damage and the casualties it caused, we were confident that our Iraq army soldiers would respond they way that they were trained.”
“My personal experience with the Iraqis under fire is that they are very brave and they’re not afraid to fight,” Major William Taylor said. “You tend to find that they’re willing to take risks and do things that American soldiers would never do.” He recalled Iraqi soldiers who found an improvised explosive device and watching one of them “poking the IED with a stick.” Such bravery—or foolhardiness—could be wasted without good leadership. But, he added, “when they had good leaders, they would fight very hard.”
Iraqi leadership often left something to be desired. One brigade commander “would conduct an operation if he could get the local media or the national media to come down and videotape him,” Major Mark Fisher said. But he canceled two operations “at the last minute … because the media told him that they could not make it out today, which is a poor reason for canceling an operation.”
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Besieged 
By ISIS 

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The people of Deir ez-Zor are surrounded—and scared. Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria already control about 40% of this city in Syria’s eastern desert and have encircled the rest of the town in a siege that began in December. Residents told a Western photographer who visited the city in May that they are familiar with the track record of the extremist Islamist group surrounding them: many have seen films of ISIS beheading and crucifying people it considers opponents and criminals, and they’ve heard the stories about the theocratic tyranny ISIS imposes on the areas it controls in Syria and Iraq. …

U.S. Adapts ‘Lily Pad’ Strategy to Defeat ISIS in Iraq

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The top U.S. military officer likened the expanding American footprint in Iraq Thursday to “lily pads” that will sprout across the pond known as Anbar Province, where the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria seized the capital last month.
“Our campaign is built on establishing these ‘lily pads’ that allow us to encourage the Iraqi security forces forward,” Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters during a visit in Italy. “As they go forward, they may exceed the reach of the particular lily pad”—leading to the creation of new ones.
While the strategy may be a new one since the U.S. pulled its forces out of Iraq in 2011, it has been done before. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, similar campaigns were carried out, often called “oil spot” or “ink blot” strategies.
Retired Army lieutenant colonel Andrew Krepinevich popularized the oil-spot notion in a 2005 article in Foreign Affairs, during the darkest days of the U.S.-led alliance in Iraq. “Since the U.S. and Iraqi armies cannot guarantee security to all of Iraq simultaneously, they should start by focusing on certain key areas and then, over time, broadening the effort—hence the image of an expanding oil spot,” wrote Krepinevich, who heads the non-profit Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Military scholar Max Boot advocated using what he called the “‘spreading inkblot’ strategy” in and around Baghdad in 2007.
It makes sense to establish protected bases in potentially-hostile terrain that can be linked to safer rear areas by air and roads. Each lily pad (or oil spot, or ink blot) gets bigger if its troops succeed in expanding the secure zones around them. Military momentum can lead to the creation of additional lily pads. Ultimately, they all expand until the entire region is free of enemy forces and secure.
Wednesday’s announcement boosts the number of U.S. bases in Iraq to five. “We’re looking all the time to see if additional sites might be necessary,” Dempsey said, although he said the two now in Anbar would probably suffice for that province. “I could foresee one in the corridor that runs from Baghdad to Tikrit to Kirkuk over into Mosul,” he added.
Dempsey detailed the evolving U.S. strategy the day after the White House said it would send up to 450 trainers and advisers to a base near Ramadi in eastern Anbar, within easy range of ISIS attacks. President Obama has pledged to keep U.S. troops out of combat with ISIS, even though allowing small numbers to embed with Iraqi forces to call in U.S. air strikes would make them more effective. The additional forces would push the U.S. troop total in Iraq to 3,550. Any decision to plant additional lily pads could require more U.S. troops in Iraq. U.S. troop strength in the 2003-2011 Iraq war peaked at 158,000 in 2008.
Adding U.S. troops to the Taqaddum military base is significant, Dempsey added, because “it gives us access to another Iraqi division and extends their reach into al Anbar province and gives us access to more tribes.” The U.S. is eager to enlist the Sunni tribes in Anbar in the fight against ISIS, whose members are Sunni. Sending the largely Shi’ite forces in Iraq’s national army to battle Sunnis in the Sunni heartland could inflame sectarian tensions.
Of course, lily pads don’t always thrive. In Afghanistan, they’ve shrunk in recent years. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, warned two years ago that danger was spreading across the country and limiting the places his inspectors could visit to do their jobs. “U.S. officials have told us that it is often difficult for program and contracting staff to visit reconstruction sites in Afghanistan,” he said in October 2013. “U.S. military officials have told us that they will provide civilian access only to areas within a one-hour round trip of an advanced medical facility.”
The Afghan lily pads have continued to shrivel. “Americans can only really travel safely in Kabul, and for most part no travel outside of green zone in Kabul,” one U.S. official said Thursday, speaking of travel in and around the Afghan capital. “Helicopters are needed to travel less than a mile from the embassy to airport.”
SIGAR
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The Most Evil Quotes From Bilderberg Insiders

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If you want to know the evils lurking within the Bilderberg Group, look no further than the following quotes from Bilderberg insiders and those who’ve studied the secretive cabal:
“The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about nine billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care & reproductive health services, we could LOWER that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.” ― Bill Gates, TED conference presentation
“Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order [referring to the 1991 L.A. Riots]. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond [i.e., an “extraterrestrial” invasion], whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government.” – Dr. Henry Kissinger, 1992 Bilderberg Meeting at Evians, France.
“Bilderberg pulls the strings of every government and intelligence agency in the Western world.” ― James Morcan, The Ninth Orphan
“If the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) raises the hackles of the conspiracy theorists, the Bilderberg meetings must induce apocalyptic visions of omnipotent international bankers plotting with unscrupulous government officials to impose cunning schemes on an ignorant and unsuspecting world.” – David Rockefeller, Memoirs
“Bilderberg’s modus operandi reinforced in his mind the complexity of the global hierarchy. He didn’t know if Omega controlled the Bilderberg Group or vice versa, but the situation reminded him that no matter how much anyone thought they knew about the New World Order elite, there were always higher levels in the plethora of secret societies and shadow organizations that ruled the planet.” ― James Morcan, The Ninth Orphan
“We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years … It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries.” – David Rockefeller, 1991 Bilderberg Meeting at Baden, Germany (a meeting also attended by Bill Clinton)
“If elitist groups like Bohemian Club, the CFR and the Bilderberg Group select and groom candidates to become Presidents of the US then isn’t it safe to assume they also dictate certain policies once their alumni are in the White House?” ― Lance Morcan, The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy
“Nine had heard whisperings that the secretive Bilderberg Group was effectively the World Government, undermining democracy by influencing everything from nations’ political leaders to the venue for the next war. He recalled persistent rumors and confirmed media reports that the Bilderberg Group had such luminaries as Barack Obama, Prince Charles, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Tony Blair, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George Bush Sr. and George W. Bush. Other Bilderberg members sprung forth from Nine’s memory bank. They included the founders and CEOs of various multinational corporations like Facebook, BP, Google, Shell and Amazon, as well as almost every major financial institution on the planet.” ― James Morcan, The Ninth Orphan
“We are not going to achieve a new world order without paying for it in blood as well as in words and money.” – Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Foreign Affairs (July/August 1995)
“Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” – David Rockfeller, Memoirs.
        
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Americans support military force against Russia if necessary

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Ukrainian soldiers take part in exercises near the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, in the Lugansk region on March 27, 2015.
A majority of people in the United States are supporting a military strike against Russia in response to an attack by Moscow on a NATO country, according to a new survey.
The poll conducted by the Pew Research Center showed Wednesday that 56 percent of Americans back a military response.
The result is in sharp contrast with the European countries as people in Germany, Italy and France do not support war on Russia.
In Germany, 58 percent of the respondents said they are against the use of military force. People in France and Italy oppose the idea 53 and 51 percent respectively.
After the US, 53 percent of the public in Canada are in favor of a military response.
“Many allied countries are reluctant to uphold Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which requires NATO members to defend an ally with armed force if necessary,” the survey said.
The survey also indicated that people in NATO countries view Russia as the culprit in the deadly Ukraine conflict.
The US accuses Russia of destabilizing Ukraine by supporting pro-Russian forces in the eastern regions. The Kremlin, however, denies the allegations.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Ukraine crisis was deliberately manufactured by “unprofessional actions” of the West.
“I believe that this crisis was created deliberately and it is the result of our partner’s unprofessional actions,” Putin said.
“I would like to emphasize once more: this was not our choice, we did not seek it, we are simply forced to respond to what is happening,” he added.
        
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US encircling Russia with bioweapons labs, covertly spreads them 

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The US is obstructing international efforts to eradicate biological weapons, seeking to involve other nations covertly in research on weaponized diseases, Moscow charged. America’s record of handling bioweapons is poor.
The accusations of mishandling biological weapons voiced by the Russian Foreign Ministry refer to a recent report that the US military shipped live anthrax by mistake. Last week, the Pentagon admitted sending samples of the highly dangerous disease to at least 51 labs in 17 US states and three foreign countries.
The delivery “posed a high risk of outbreak that threatened not only the US population, but also other countries, including Canada and Australia. Of great concern is the shipment of bacteria to a US military facility in a third country, the Osan Air Base in South Korea,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.
It added that an anthrax outbreak incident occurred in 2001, which also involved a US military lab.
For Russia such incidents are of particular concern, because one of its neighbors, Georgia, hosts a research facility for high-level biohazard agents. The Richard G. Lugar Center for Public and Animal Health Research near Tbilisi is an undercover American bioweapons lab, a branch of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Russia believes.
“American and Georgian authorities are trying to cover up the real nature of this US military unit, which studies highly dangerous infectious diseases. The Pentagon is trying to establish similar covert medico-biological facilities in other countries [in Russia’s neighborhood],” the Russian ministry said.
Moscow says the US is de facto derailing international efforts under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), a 1972 international treaty aimed at eradicating bioweapons worldwide.
“The US administration is obviously not interested in strengthening this convention. It’s known that in 2001 the US unilaterally torpedoed multilateral talks in Geneva to work on a verification mechanism for the BWTC and have since obstructed their restart. Decades of international effort to strengthen the convention were derailed,” the statement said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s indictment comes amid a wider list of accusations against the US over what Moscow sees as American violations of various international agreements dealing with weapons control, non-proliferation and disarmament.
The statement came in response to a US annual report on the issue, which accused Russia of various wrongdoings. Moscow considers such reports “megaphone diplomacy.” Such tactics aren’t aimed at resolving any differences, but instead support America’s pretense to be the ultimate judge of other nation’s behavior, the ministry said.
        
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Europe tries to compete with China's influence in Latin America

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Unable to match China's offer of $250 billion in investment in Latin America, the EU sought ways on Thursday to avoid being marginalized in the region, offering new trade deals, visa-free travel and deeper ties.
  

Iranian court upholds jail term for son of ex-president Rafsanjani: IRNA

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ANKARA (Reuters) - An Iranian appeals court upheld the jail sentence of Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, son of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, on corruption and security charges, state news agency IRNA quoted a judiciary official as saying on Thursday.
  

Pentagon repeats call for China to end island building, seeks more military contact

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter met a top Chinese general on Thursday and repeated a U.S. call for a halt to land reclamation in the South China Sea while stressing that the Pentagon remained committed to expanding military contacts with China.
  

Family: Body Of Tariq Aziz Missing In Iraq

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The body of Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's former top aide who died last week in prison in Iraq, reportedly went missing on June 11 while en route to Jordan for burial.

Son Of Iranian Ex-President Rafsanjani To Be Jailed For Ten Years

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An appeal court in Iran has upheld a 10-year jail sentence against Mehdi Hashemi, the son of Iran's ex-President Hashemi Rafsanjani, following his conviction on corruption and security crimes, a judiciary spokesman said on June 10.

Russian Charged With Spying In U.S. Asks Court To Dismiss Case

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A Russian citizen who worked in Manhattan as a banker asked a federal judge June 11 to toss out charges that he participated in a Cold War-style Russian spy ring.
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U.S. House Rejects Move To Force Vote On Waging War Against Islamic State

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The U.S. House of Representatives June 11 rejected a measure to force lawmakers to vote by the end of March on providing the president with war powers to fight the Islamic State.

World Briefing: Saudi Arabia: Blogger’s Allies Rebuffed

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Saudi Arabia rejected foreign criticism of the flogging punishment of Raif Badawi, a blogger who has come to symbolize the kingdom’s oppressive restraints on free speech.

AP Top News at 9:50 p.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 9:50 p.m. EDT
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana's attorney general is insisting on a third trial for the last of the "Angola Three," calling the prison activist who spent decades in solitary confinement after the killing of a guard in 1972 "the most dangerous person on the planet." A federal judge ruled this week that Albert Woodfox must be freed immediately, saying the state has never proved - and never will - that he was responsible for the stabbing death of Brent Miller 43 years ago.
10 Things to Know for FridayYour daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday: 1. WHAT HACKERS STOLE FROM US GOVERNMENT COMPUTERS
Union: Hackers have personnel data on every federal employeeWASHINGTON (AP) - Hackers stole personnel data and Social Security numbers for every federal employee, a government worker union said Thursday, asserting that the cyber theft of U.S. employee information was more damaging than the Obama administration has acknowledged. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, said on the Senate floor that the December hack into Office of Personnel Management data was carried out by "the Chinese" without specifying whether he meant the Chinese government or individuals. Reid is one of eight lawmakers briefed on the most secret intelligence information. U.S. officials have declined to publicly blame China, which has denied involvement.
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) - Months before James Holmes opened fire in a Colorado movie theater, his ex-girlfriend said she urged him talk to his therapist after he mentioned having thoughts about killing people, thoughts that to her "seemed very philosophical" and not a concrete threat. Gargi Datta also testified Thursday that during their relationship, Holmes showed no interest in guns, including when they visited an outdoor store that sold weapons. She did not know about his meticulous plans for the July 20, 2012, attack or the arsenal he assembled.
Judge: Enough evidence to charge police in black boy's deathCLEVELAND (AP) - A judge said Thursday that enough evidence exists to charge two white policemen in the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old black boy who was holding a pellet gun, a largely symbolic ruling because he can't compel prosecutors to charge them. Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine ruled there's probable cause to charge rookie officer Timothy Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide or dereliction of duty in the November shooting death of Tamir Rice. And he ruled there's evidence to charge Loehmann's partner, Frank Garmback, with reckless homicide or dereliction of duty.
Body of American killed fighting IS handed over to familyBEIRUT (AP) - The body of an American who died fighting with Kurdish forces against the Islamic State group in Syria was handed over on Thursday to his family at a Turkish border crossing, a Kurdish official said. Hundreds of people turned up in the Kurdish town of Kobani to bid farewell to Keith Broomfield before his body was handed over to family at the Mursitpinar gate, said Idriss Naasan.
Parents going viral with ugly hair cut videos shaming kidsNEW YORK (AP) - Russell Fredrick's middle son was 12 when he wouldn't quit playing around in class and ignoring his homework, so the barber did what he does best. He picked up his clippers and cut off his fade. But it wasn't just any cut. It was a complete shave intended as a form of discipline when other tactics like taking away gadgets failed to work.

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AP Top News at 5:41 p.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 5:41 p.m. EDT
What has Louisiana got on the last of the Angola Three?NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Louisiana's attorney general is insisting on a third trial for the last of the "Angola Three," calling the prison activist who spent decades in solitary after the killing of a guard in 1972 "the most dangerous person on the planet." A federal judge ruled this week that Albert Woodfox must be freed immediately, because the state has never proved - and never will - that he was responsible for the stabbing death of Brent Miller 43 years ago.
Slain guard's widow: Stop prosecution of Angola 3 inmateNEW ORLEANS (AP) - The widow of a prison guard slain 43 years ago at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola wants the state to drop its effort to launch a third trial of a Black Panther activist long accused in the killing. Teenie Rogers says in a statement released Thursday that she has spent years "looking at the evidence" and "soul-searching," and is convinced that Albert Woodfox was framed.
The Latest on prison escape: Search dogs caught scent3:55 p.m. (EDT) Gov. Andrew Cuomo says bloodhounds caught the scent of two escaped killers, leading searchers to a rural area a few miles from an upstate New York prison.
Investigators believe prison employee was in on escape plotDANNEMORA, N.Y. (AP) - Investigators believe a female prison employee had agreed to be the getaway driver in last weekend's escape by two killers but never showed up, a person close to the case told The Associated Press on Thursday. The manhunt, meanwhile, dragged into a sixth day with a renewed burst of activity by searchers in the woods close to the prison after bloodhounds were said to have picked up the convicts' scent. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo said investigators are also "talking to several people who may have facilitated the escape."
Theater shooter's ex asked him to see therapistCENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) - Months before James Holmes opened fire in a Colorado movie theater, his ex-girlfriend said she urged him talk to his therapist after he mentioned having thoughts about killing people, but his thoughts "seemed very philosophical" and not a concrete threat. Gargi Datta also testified Thursday that during their relationship, Holmes showed no interest in guns, including when they visited an outdoor store that sold weapons, and that she did not know about his meticulous plans for the July 20, 2012 attack or the arsenal he assembled.
NAPLES, Italy (AP) - The Pentagon's top general said Thursday the U.S. military's reach could extend even further into Iraq if the anti-Islamic State campaign gains momentum, and he held out the possibility of eventually recommending to President Barack Obama that U.S. troops take on the riskier role of calling in airstrikes. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the White House's announcement Wednesday that up to 450 more U.S. troops would be sent to Iraq to invigorate its flagging campaign against the Islamic State is a natural extension of U.S. assistance. He said the support hub the troops will set up will not produce instant results but may serve as a model to be replicated elsewhere in Iraq, possibly requiring even more U.S. troops.
PARIS (AP) - Fearing he was going blind, the co-pilot who slammed a Germanwings jet into the Alps took sick days at work, upped his dosage of an antidepressant, and reached out to doctors, but they didn't tell his employer they thought he was unfit to fly because of German privacy laws, a French prosecutor said Thursday. Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin presented new details of his criminal investigation into the case after meeting in Paris with many grieving relatives of the 150 people who died on the Germanwings flight co-piloted by Andreas Lubitz.
Judge rules there's evidence to charge Cleveland officersCLEVELAND (AP) - A judge said Thursday that enough evidence exists to charge two white policemen in the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old black boy who was holding a pellet gun outside a recreation center, a largely symbolic ruling because he can't compel prosecutors to charge them. Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine ruled there's probable cause to charge rookie officer Timothy Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide or dereliction of duty in the November shooting death of Tamir Rice. And he ruled there's evidence to charge Loehmann's partner, Frank Garmback, with reckless homicide or dereliction of duty.
Union-backed Dems make final push to kill Obama's trade billWASHINGTON (AP) - Union-backed Democrats launched a last-ditch effort Thursday to scuttle President Barack Obama's trade agenda by sacrificing a favored program of their own that retrains workers displaced by international trade. The retraining program is linked to the Democrats' real target: legislation to help Obama advance multi-nation trade agreements. In hopes of bringing down the whole package, which they say imperils jobs at home, numerous House Democrats said they would vote Friday against the retraining measure.

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AP Top News at 1:26 p.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 1:26 p.m. EDT
The Latest on prison escape: Officials link worker, getaway11:30 a.m. (EDT) A person close to the investigation says authorities believe a New York prison employee was supposed to be the getaway driver for two escaped killers but didn't show up.
Prosecutor: Germanwings co-pilot feared going blindPARIS (AP) - The co-pilot who crashed a Germanwings jet into the Alps feared that he was losing his eyesight, and some of the many doctors he consulted felt he was unfit to fly, a French prosecutor said Thursday. The doctors didn't report their concerns to Andreas Lubitz's employers, however, because of German patient privacy laws, Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin told reporters in Paris.
GOP, Obama on same side as trade bill heads for close voteWASHINGTON (AP) - The House plunged into a divisive debate over trade legislation on Thursday, a controversy so thick that President Barack Obama conferred on strategy with Republican Speaker John Boehner and drew a public rebuttal in the House from a Democratic foe of the measure. With a showdown vote expected on Friday, Boehner declined to predict the fate of White House-backed legislation to allow Obama to complete global trade deals that Congress could approve or reject but not change. The bill also would renew a program of aid, due to expire soon, for workers who lose their jobs as a result of global trade.
Murdoch's sons to become CEO, co-chair at 21st Century FoxNEW YORK (AP) - Rupert Murdoch is preparing to hand over the CEO job at Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. to his son, James, while his other son, Lachlan, will become executive co-chairman, according to a person with direct knowledge with the matter. Murdoch, 84, one of the world's most powerful media magnates, will become executive chairman and remain deeply involved in the company, while his sons are to run the business in a partnership, the person said.
Ornette Coleman, jazz visionary, dead at 85NEW YORK (AP) - Jazz legend Ornette Coleman, the visionary saxophonist who pioneered "free jazz" and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007, has died. Publicist Ken Weinstein says Coleman died on Thursday at 1 a.m. in Manhattan. He was 85.
Prolific British actor Christopher Lee dies at age 93LONDON (AP) - Christopher Lee, an actor who brought dramatic gravitas and aristocratic bearing to screen villains from Dracula to the wicked wizard Saruman in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, has died at age 93. Lee appeared in more than 250 movies, taking on memorable roles such as the James Bond enemy Scaramanga and the evil Count Dooku in two "Star Wars" prequels.
Madam gets 10 years after buttocks-enhancement deathPHILADELPHIA (AP) - A former madam who performed illegal "body sculpting" was sentenced Thursday to 10 to 20 years in prison after the death of a dancer whose heart stopped after nearly half a gallon of silicone was injected into her buttocks. Padge-Victoria Windslowe told jurors during her spring murder trial that clients call her "the Michelangelo of buttocks injections." But prosecutors say she had no medical training and used deadly products on vulnerable women, including fellow members of the transgender community who wanted curves.
AP PHOTOS: Martial law has anti-mine protesters back at workCOCACHACRA, Peru (AP) - A respite imposed by martial law after nearly two months of violent anti-mining protests has sent farmers in a fertile coastal valley of southern Peru back to their fields. Most say they would be more than happy to sacrifice the current crop if it means preventing Mexico's biggest mining company from going ahead with a copper extraction project that farmers fear will contaminate the Tambo Valley.

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AP Top News at 9:17 a.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 9:17 a.m. EDT
General: New US hub in Iraq could be modelNAPLES, Italy (AP) - The new U.S. military hub setting up in Iraq's western desert could be a model for more such train-and-advise operations - and with it likely more U.S. troops - designed to help Iraq defeat the Islamic State, the top-ranking American general said Thursday. "Sure, we're looking all the time at whether there might be additional sites necessary," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters traveling with him to Naples, Italy, where he is meeting with U.S. commanders.
Search for escaped killers enters Day 6, expands outside NYDANNEMORA, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities searching for two escaped killers who have been on the loose for the better part of a week acknowledged being in the dark about their whereabouts or doings, even as the hunt for the men expanded past state borders. At a news conference outside the maximum-security prison on Wednesday, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said, "I have no information on where they are or what they're doing, to be honest with you."
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's central bank lowered its key interest rate to a historic low on Thursday, responding to a slump in exports and the prospect the economy will be hurt by the outbreak of the deadly MERS virus. Officials insist that the disease, which has killed 10 people, has peaked. Bank of Korea policymakers cut the policy rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 1.5 percent, the second rate cut this year. In March, the bank lowered the key rate and downgraded its growth forecast for Asia's fourth-largest economy as exports continued to slump.
AP images of Vietnam War exhibited in country for 1st timeHANOI, Vietnam (AP) - They were the images that communicated the horrors of war in ways words could not. They were so much more than just photographs, Vietnam's president said on Thursday, recalling black-and-white images he said he will never forget from the war that ended 40 years ago: A Buddhist monk consumed by flames in a fiery suicide. A screaming Vietnamese child running down a road naked, as her skin burns from a napalm attack.
AP PHOTOS: In Iran, female motocross racer jumps barriersBARAGHAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian motocross rider Behnaz Shafiei's passion for hurdling over dirt hills has led her to leap cultural and legal barriers in Iran, where women are banned from riding motorcycles in public. "When two days pass and I do not ride my motorcycle, I get really ill. Even the thought of not having a motorcycle someday gives me an awful feeling," Shafiei said on the outskirts of Iran's capital, Tehran. "Sometimes, I think to myself, `How did people in the past live without a motorbike?' Is life without a motorcycle possible?"

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AP Top News at 5:10 a.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 5:10 a.m. EDT
Official admits: 'No information' on escaped killersDANNEMORA, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities searching for two escaped killers who have been on the loose for the better part of a week acknowledged being in the dark about their whereabouts or doings, even as the hunt for the men expanded past state borders into Vermont. At a news conference outside the maximum-security prison on Wednesday, New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said, "I have no information on where they are or what they're doing, to be honest with you."
California water wasters beware: #DroughtShaming on the riseLOS ANGELES (AP) - Pssst. Ready to water that beautiful lush lawn of yours? The one that's the envy of the entire neighborhood. If you live in Southern California you'd better wait until after midnight. Preferably on a cloudy, new-moon night during a power outage when it's so dark even night-vision goggles won't give away your position. Otherwise you could wind up the star of the latest drought-shaming video posted on YouTube or Twitter.
SKorea cuts key rate as MERS emerges as threat to recoverySEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's central bank lowered its key interest rate to a historic low on Thursday, responding to a slump in exports and the prospect that the outbreak of the deadly MERS virus could slow the economy. Bank of Korea policymakers cut the policy rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 1.5 percent, the second rate cut this year. In March, the bank lowered the key rate and downgraded its growth forecast for Asia's fourth-largest economy as exports continued to slump.
Lawyer: Officer didn't target black teens at Texas poolDALLAS (AP) - A white Texas police officer was not targeting minorities when he wrestled a black teenage girl to the ground and brandished his gun outside a pool party, his lawyer said, but rather was fraught with emotion after responding earlier to two suicide calls. As activists demanded Wednesday that prosecutors charge former officer David Eric Casebolt, his attorney Jane Bishkin said Casebolt apologizes for his treatment of the girl and to others offended by his actions Friday at a community pool in the Dallas suburb of McKinney.
Theater shooter's ex: 'I didn't see a future with him'CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) - Their first date was a horror film festival and they grew closer after that, sharing nights together at home watching movies or playing board games with friends. But a former girlfriend of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes didn't want anything more than a casual relationship, she testified in his death penalty trial. She broke it off.
Paul Ryan's step-by-step future starts with tradeWASHINGTON (AP) - First, give presidents the power to strike trade deals. Then overturn President Barack Obama's health care law, overhaul the tax code and rework the nation's welfare system. And someday? Perhaps a run for president. Call it the New Ryan Plan, a map not just to changes in the nation's fiscal policy, but to Paul Ryan's future. It steers the nine-term Republican congressman and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee into the thicket of policy fights. The path likely takes him to a familiar decision point - whether to run for president. The 45-year-old Ryan says he might take that step, someday.
Educated Ukrainians flee east Ukraine for new lives in KievKIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Alesya Bolot worked for a contemporary arts foundation that converted an abandoned factory into a mecca for young and bright people with daring ideas. Vibrant and cosmopolitan, the 27-year-old would not look out of place in a gallery in New York. She was at the forefront of the avant-garde arts scene in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk when a pro-Russian insurgency took over and upended her life. When a rebel-controlled local television station portrayed creative people like her as the enemy, she decided it was time to flee.
AP PHOTOS: In Iran, woman motocross racer jumps barriersBARAGHAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian motocross rider Behnaz Shafiei's passion for hurdling over dirt hills has led her to leap cultural and legal barriers in Iran, where women are banned from riding motorcycles in public. "When two days pass and I do not ride my motorcycle, I get really ill. Even the thought of not having a motorcycle some day gives me an awful feeling," Shafiei said on the outskirts of Iran's capital, Tehran. "Sometimes, I think to myself, `How did people in the past live without a motorbike?' Is life without a motorcycle possible?"

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AP Top News at 1:03 a.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 1:03 a.m. EDT
Lawyer: Prior calls took 'emotional toll' on Texas officerDALLAS (AP) - A Texas police officer had answered back-to-back suicide calls and was fraught with emotion when he responded to a report of a fight at a pool party where he wrestled a black teenage girl to the ground, his lawyer said Wednesday, hours after activists called for prosecutors to charge him. Attorney Jane Bishkin said David Eric Casebolt, known to friends and family as Eric, apologizes for his treatment of the girl and to others offended by his actions Friday at a community pool in the Dallas suburb of McKinney.
Theater shooter's ex: 'He liked me more than I liked him'CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) - A former girlfriend of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes testified Wednesday in his death penalty trial that they went to a horror film festival on their first date and she broke things off a few months later because he wanted more than a casual relationship. In brief questioning before court adjourned, Gargi Datta said she met Holmes in 2011 at the graduate school they attended outside Denver. She described him as a bright but shy neuroscience graduate student at the time.
Pew: White-Native American adults largest multiracial groupWASHINGTON (AP) - Non-Hispanic whites with American Indian ancestry make up a full half of the current population of mixed-race Americans but are among the least likely to say that they are multiracial, according to a study released Thursday. This population is also the more likely to be Republican-leaning and conservative than the rest of the multiracial population, finds the study by the Pew Research Center. But they may someday be eclipsed by other multiracial Americans, with the majority of mixed-race babies born in 2013 being either biracial white and black or biracial white and Asian.
Carrie Underwood cleans house at CMT Music AwardsThe CMT Music Awards should be renamed the Carrie Music Television Awards. Carrie Underwood cleaned house at the country awards show Wednesday with three wins, including video of the year for "Something In the Water," and she even gave a shout-out to her 3-month-old son.
AP PHOTOS: Martial law has anti-mine protesters back at workCOCACHACRA, Peru (AP) - A respite imposed by martial law after nearly two months of violent anti-mining protests has allowed farmers in a fertile coastal valley of southern Peru to get back to the crops they were neglecting. Most say they are more than happy to sacrifice the current crop if it means preventing Mexico's biggest mining company from going ahead with a copper extraction project that farmers fear will contaminate the Tambo Valley.
Blackhawks edge Tampa Bay 2-1, even Stanley Cup Final 2-2CHICAGO (AP) - Brandon Saad drove the net and had the puck poked away by Andrei Vasilevskiy. When he somehow found it again, Saad gave it a desperate backhand whack that just happened to send it right between Vasilevskiy's moving pads. Saad refused much credit for his tiebreaking goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. He knows that a few fortunate bounces have been the only differences in four games between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning, who seem determined to take this championship series down to a fantastic finish.

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OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY: Up to 14 million exposed in federal hack

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Welcome to OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY, your daily rundown of the biggest news in the world of hacking and data privacy. We're here to connect the dots as leaders in government, policy and industry wrap their arms around cyberthreats. What lies ahead for Congress, the administration and the latest company under siege? Whether you're a consumer, a techie or a D.C. lifer, we're here to give you ...
THE BIG STORIES:
--KA-BOOM: The massive hack of federal government data may have compromised the personal information on 9 million to 14 million people, far more than was initially believed. Multiple sources on Capitol Hill, within the federal workforce and around Washington have estimated that the final tally of people affected by the hack could easily eclipse the 4 million reported by the Obama administration. Already, the theft of data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the largest data breach ever at the federal government. With an increase in the scope of the attack -- which officials, speaking privately, have traced back to China -- the Obama administration's response will face further scrutiny and more questions about the state of the nation's digital security. To read our full piece, click here.
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--YOU AIN'T GOIN' NOWHERE:
 Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked Republicans from linking a cybersecurity amendment to a defense bill. The upper chamber fell four votes shy of the 60 votes needed to move forward with attaching the anti-hacking measure to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). While six Democrats broke with the party line to support limiting debate, three Republicans joined the Democrats in opposition. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) withdrew the amendment after the vote, making the path forward for the amendment unclear. While the cyber measure itself, known as the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), isn't controversial, the maneuver to attach it to the NDAA irked Democrats. Democrats want the chance to offer privacy-enhancing amendments to CISA, which they would not be able to do if the language became an NDAA add-on. To read our full piece, click 
here
. To read about Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) berating the Democrats after the vote, click 
here
.
--RAND WATCH: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who boosted the profile of his presidential campaign by breaking with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during the recent fight over surveillance reform, sided with the Democrats in voting to block the amendment.
UPDATE ON CYBER POLICY:
--AND SO WE BEAT ON: House lawmakers voted to further rein in the nation's spies on Thursday, in a signal that legislators aren't yet done reforming surveillance law.
A bipartisan amendment to add new limits to the National Security Agency (NSA) passed 255-174, slightly more than a week after President Obama signed legislation ending the agency's bulk collection of Americans' phone records.
While the move appears largely symbolic, given the overwhelming opposition to further spy reforms from leadership in the Senate, it nonetheless makes clear that a significant bloc of lawmakers aren't settling with that first batch of reforms, called the USA Freedom Act. To read our full piece, click here.
A LIGHTER CLICK:
--YOU WOULD, TOO. A 23-year-old Virginia man, upon discovering he had been robbed of about 300 "Magic: The Gathering" playing cards worth roughly $8,000:
"I went in the house, cracked open a beer, had a few sips and promptly started screaming expletives as I waited for the police to arrive," he told The Washington Post. "I'd been collecting these cards since I was a kid and over the years they've only increased in value. I was horrified."
Read on, at The Washington Post.
WHO'S IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
--THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, which announced Thursday a new round of steps to better protect against identity theft and fraud before the 2016 tax filing season.
The measures are an effort to reassure taxpayers following a data breach that exposed 100,000 taxpayers' data.
The IRS said it has agreed to collaborate with tax preparation firms and state officials to boost the authentication process before giving out refunds and taxpayer data. The group will also swap more data on potential tax fraud. To read our full piece, click here.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Links from our blog, The Hill, and around the Web.
The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a $51.1 billion bill Thursday fund the Commerce and Justice Departments for fiscal 2016. (The Hill)
Facial recognition technology is already being deployed to let brick-and-mortar stores scan the face of every shopper. (The Washington Post)
A hacker dumped a database containing what appear to be around 23,000 email addresses of US government workers on a dark web hacking forum on Thursday. (Motherboard)
Why credit monitoring fails to address the real threat facing hacked feds. (NextGov)
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U.S. Weighing More Military Bases in Iraq to Fight ISIS, Top General Says

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NAPLES, Italy — The United States is considering establishing a new network of American military bases in Iraq to aid in the fight against the Islamic State, senior military and administration officials said Thursday, potentially deepening American involvement in the country amid setbacks for Iraqi forces on the battlefield.
Speaking to reporters aboard his plane during a trip to Italy, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, described a possible future campaign entailing the establishment of what he called “lily pads” — American military bases around the country from which trainers would work with Iraqi security forces and local tribesmen in the fight against the Islamic State.
General Dempsey’s framework was confirmed by senior Obama administration officials, and comes after an earlier decision this week to send 450 trainers to establish a new military base to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province. The general said that base could be the model for a new network of American training bases in other parts of the country.
“You could see one in the corridor from Baghdad to Tikrit to Kirkuk to Mosul,” General Dempsey said. Such sites, he said, could require troops in addition to the 3,550 that the president has authorized so far in the latest Iraq campaign, although he said later some of the troops at the new bases could come from forces already in Iraq.
For President Obama, who spent much of his first term orchestrating the total withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq and for the past year has publicly resisted making major troop commitments there, establishing new American bases within Iraq would be another step toward deeper entanglement in the country.
Further, the creation of persistent American-staffed bases in the Iraqi countryside would give the Islamic State obvious new targets, allowing it to expand its fight directly against American forces — a possibility the group’s propaganda operation has publicly reveled in.
Military officials acknowledge that the more Americans troops there are on the ground in Iraq, the greater the incentive for Islamic State militants to attack them.
There is already precedent: In February, eight suicide bombers who Defense Department officials said were with the Islamic State managed to get into an air base west of Baghdad where hundreds of American Marines were training Iraqi counterparts. Though officials said the bombers were killed almost immediately by Iraqi forces, the assault was a reminder that even circumscribed training missions create a risk for American casualties.
One Obama administration official, who would discuss the issue only on the condition of anonymity, called General Dempsey’s description “entirely consistent” with the president’s strategy in Iraq, but noted that Iraqi officials would have to sign off.
“If there is a request from the Iraqi government and the president’s military advisers recommend additional venues to further the train, advice and assist mission, the president would certainly consider that,” the official said.
The model for a potential new network of American bases in Iraq is already being built: at Taqqadum, an Iraqi base near the town of Habbaniya in eastern Anbar. The American troops being sent are to set up the hub primarily to advise and assist Iraqi forces and to engage and reach out to Sunni tribes in Anbar, officials said. One focus for the Americans will be to try to accelerate the integration of Sunni fighters into the Iraqi Army, which is dominated by Shiites.
While retaking the city of Ramadi, which fell to the Islamic State last month, is the goal of the training hub at Taqqadum, General Dempsey indicated that that effort may be months away. While declining to put a timetable on when the battle to retake Ramadi will begin, he said that it would take several weeks for the initial command and control center at Taqqadum to be set up.
“Timetables are fragile,” General Dempsey said. “They are dependent on so many different factors.”
For the Pentagon, the timetable issue has been a tense one, as the United States Central Command and the Iraqi government have clashed in the past about the pace of efforts by the Iraqi security forces to retake areas captured by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Some of President Obama’s statements about the American strategy to confront ISIS and its effectiveness.
An official from Central Command told reporters in February that an assault to capture Mosul, which fell to the Islamic State a year ago, was planned for this spring. But some Iraqi officials bridled at that, and plans to mount an offensive on the city have been delayed indefinitely. The fall of Ramadi, about 70 miles from Baghdad, put that city higher on the priority list.
Mr. Obama has been loath to commit a large number of American ground troops to Iraq. Administration officials say that it is up to the Iraqi government to lead the way in reclaiming its territory and cities from the extremists, and that the Shiite-dominated government can do so only by being more inclusive toward the country’s Sunni minority.
General Dempsey said the United States was still hoping the Iraqi government would find a way to engage Sunnis to beat back the Islamic State, but he also talked of what he called a “Plan B” in case that never happens.
“We have not given up on the possibility that the Iraqi government could absolutely be whole,” he said, but added that “the game changers are going to have to come from the Iraqi government itself.”
“If we reach a point where we don’t think those game changers are successful, then we will have to look for other avenues to maintain pressure on ISIL, and we will have to look at other partners,” he said.
General Dempsey said that he did not envision another military base in Anbar, but that Pentagon planners were already looking at more northern areas for additional sites.
The Obama administration is hoping that reaching out to Sunnis will reduce the Iraqi military’s reliance on Shiite militias to take back territory lost to the Islamic State.
To that end, the Americans will be sending arms and equipment — including AK-47s and communications equipment — directly to Taqqadum. The supplies are to be transferred to Iraqi Army units, who are then supposed to give them to Sunni fighters. United States military officials said American soldiers would be there to ensure the transfer to Sunni fighters.
Officials said the Iraqi Security Forces were expected to do the bulk of the work to retake Ramadi once that campaign gets going. But once the city is reclaimed, it will probably be the Sunni fighters who will have to hold them.
“What the tribes are going to provide is not only thickening of the ranks of those fighting ISIL, but at some point the I.S.F. will want to protect” the cities that have been liberated, General Dempsey said. “The responsibility of defending the cities that are liberated — that will fall to the local tribes.
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Sending More Troops to Iraq

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It’s hard not to draw parallels between the Obama administration’s decision to deploy 450 troops to Iraq’s Anbar Province and the effort to empower Sunni fighters during the 2007 troop surge that became known as the “Awakening.” And it’s hard not to be skeptical that the latest move, which appears to be a micro version of the old one, will change Iraq’s dysfunctional politics any more than its predecessor.
The escalation of the American military effort in Iraq comes after a jarring setback in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, which fell to the Islamic State last month. Expelling the group from the city is seen as an urgent priority because it lies just 70 miles from Baghdad. The city is also symbolically powerful for American veterans because it was among the deadliest battlefields in the war that began with the American invasion in 2003.
The tactic could be effective in the short run. The Americans will try to vet and train Sunni Arab tribesmen to fight in concert with conventional units of the beleaguered Iraqi Army. In the past, American troops have played an essential trust-building role when they’ve sought to get Iraqi factions that are suspicious of each other to work together.
But any victories will be short-term as long as the Shiite-dominated political elite in Baghdad continues to disenfranchise Sunnis at every turn. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite politician, is far less overtly sectarian than his predecessor, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. But he is just one of many power brokers in the capital, where influence continues to be wielded primarily by Shiite leaders with access to cash and the loyalty of militias.
During the troop surge of 2007, which included roughly 30,000 troops, American commanders argued that empowering Sunni tribesmen, and beating back insurgent groups, would give politicians in Baghdad breathing room to govern more inclusively. But they have consistently demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to do that.
The new troops will bring the American force in Iraq to 3,550. With each increase, the United States is being dragged more deeply into a war that lawmakers have been unwilling to authorize formally. And each step makes Congress’s irresponsibility more outrageous.

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