Monday, August 3, 2015

IT worker gets 10 years for hacking military email - Washington Times

IT worker gets 10 years for hacking military email - Washington Times

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Washington Times

IT worker gets 10 years for hacking military email
Washington Times
United States Military Academy cadets watch data on computers at the Cyber Research Center at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Wednesday, April 9, 2014. The West Point cadets are fending off cyber attacks this week as ... more >.

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Mothers of Children Killed by Illegals Demand Democrats Censure Luis Gutierrez - Breitbart News

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Breitbart News

Mothers of Children Killed by Illegals Demand Democrats Censure Luis Gutierrez
Breitbart News
On July 23 of this year, in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Sanctuary City policies, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois spoke these words to Ms. Jessica Vaughn, the expert witness who was invited guest and a surviving family member whose loved one was ...

China's World War II parade: No-shows likely amid rising tensions with West, neighbors 

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In a region where many of the wounds from World War II are still raw, China's plans for a giant parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its victory are creating diplomatic and political dilemmas for the United States and its allies in the region.
The Sept. 3 event is ...

Report: US-led strikes in Iraq, Syria killed many civilians

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BAGHDAD (AP) - U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria likely have killed hundreds of civilians, a report by an independent monitoring group said Monday. The coalition had no immediate comment.
The report by Airwars, a project aimed at tracking the international airstrikes targeting the extremists, ...

IT worker gets 10 years for hacking military email

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A Florida man contracted to perform IT work for the Pentagon has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to crimes connected to the hacking of a military email account and theft of sensitive files.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra sentenced Christopher Glenn on Friday for his ...

US begins armed drone flights from Turkey

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. military is expanding its combat role in Syria in defense of coalition-backed rebels, conducting armed drone missions into Syria from an air base in Turkey and imposing new rules allowing the U.S. to defend rebels against attacks from any hostile force, including the Assad government.
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Whistle-blower lawsuit settled in US Navy kickbacks case

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A couple from Georgia who filed a lawsuit that blew the whistle on wrongdoing by a longtime U.S. Navy employee and Navy contractors has agreed to settle for $90,000, and a federal judge in Rhode Island has dismissed the long-running case.
U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi ...

Majority of House Backs Resolution to Kill Iran Deal

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A majority of House lawmakers now support a resolution to reject the recently signed nuclear agreement with Iran, marking another blow to the White House’s aggressive push to convince Congress to back the deal, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
At least 218 Republican lawmakers have signed on to support a resolution expressing “firm disapproval” of the nuclear deal, which would provide Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief while enabling it to continue work on ballistic missiles and other nuclear research.
The measure, which is being led by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill) and was first reported by theWashington Free Beacon, comes as Congress takes 60 days to review the deal before voting on it.
Many lawmakers, including a growing number of Democrats, have come out against the deal, citing concerns it does not do enough to limit Iran’s nuclear program.
Critics remain most concerned about portions of the deal that will ban U.S. inspectors from Iran’s nuclear sites and remove restrictions on the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.
The Obama administration has launched an aggressive push to sell the deal, both on Capitol Hill and among the public. President Barack Obama and other senior administration officials have been holding conference calls with liberal groups to sell the deal and put pressure on Congress.
Support for the resolution rejecting the deal is a sign that many lawmakers have made up their minds well before the congressional review period expires.
At least three members of the House leadership, as well as 18 of 22 House committee chairmen and 23 of the 25 GOP members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, have already signed on to back the resolution, according to figures provided by congressional sources.
House Freedom Caucus Chair Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) and Republican Study Committee Chair Bill Flores (R., Texas) also back the measure.
More and more lawmakers are deciding to oppose the deal on a daily basis, Roskam told the Free Beacon.
“Time is not the friend of this deal. The more time Members spend evaluating this agreement, the more they realize it’s an historic mistake,” Roskam said. “While the administration continues to flaunt a false choice between this deal and war, Secretary [John] Kerry said repeatedly over the course of the negotiations that he would walk away from a bad deal.”
However, “if that was the case, then surely there was an alternative besides this dangerous agreement and war,” Roskam said. “Congress and the American people believe a better agreement is still achievable, and we can start by walking away from this one. This is why a majority of the House is already prepared to vote against this deal.”
Congress will “do everything in our power to shut down an accord that so utterly fails to shut down Iran’s nuclear program,” he said.
The resolution explicitly states that Congress disapproves of the nuclear deal and reiterates support to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
The resolution also rejects key portions of the deal, including ones that provide Iran billions of dollars in assets and approve the Islamic Republic’s right to construct ballistic missiles and freely purchase arms.
In addition, it highlights that the deal “allows key restraints on Iran’s nuclear program to expire within 10 to 15 years, including those on Iran’s domestic uranium enrichment program and heavy-water reactor at Arak.”
“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] fails to address Iran’s egregious human rights record, Iran’s role as the world’s leading state sponsor of international terrorism, and Iran’s unjust imprisonment of innocent United States citizens,” the resolution states.
Roskam has spoken to colleagues about the resolution since spearheading it several weeks ago, according to sources familiar with the situation. The lawmaker spent most of last week on the floor wrangling support for the resolution.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas), chair of the powerful Armed Services Committee, became the 218th co-sponsor of the resolution on Friday, when he called Roskam to lend his support, sources said.
Thornberry had been withholding judgment of the deal until he was able to grill senior Obama administration officials about it during a hearing last week.
Roskam will speak to House Democrats about the measure over the August recess to secure a veto-proof majority, sources said.
A senior congressional aide familiar with the effort said the administration is failing to convince lawmakers to back the deal.
“It appears the administration’s sales pitch for this deal is falling on deaf ears. Closed-door briefings and public hearings have apparently left Members with more questions than answers, and the administration’s decision to circumvent Congress by first bringing the deal to the UN infuriated key Democrats who are otherwise loyal to the president,” the source said.
“This level of opposition so early in the review period indicates that Congress really has a chance of killing the agreement. What Congressman Roskam has done—securing 218 commitments from Members vote against the deal in just two weeks—is a rather remarkable feat. He still has more work to do, but this is an impressive start,” the source added.
In the weeks since the deal was signed, critics have warned that it will only embolden Tehran’s intransigence, including its illicit nuclear relationship with North Korea.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials have downplayed comments by the Obama administration maintaining that the deal shuts down Iran’s pathway to the bomb while imposing a strict inspections regime.
Hamid Baeidinejad, an official in the Iranian foreign ministry and one of the country’s nuclear negotiators, claimed in an interview that “the remarks by the western officials are ambiguous comments which are merely uttered for domestic use and therefore we should say that there is no ambiguity in this [nuclear] agreement.”
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NATO Fighter Jets Intercept Record Numbers of Russian Aircraft at End of July 

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NATO fighter jets policing over eastern Europe as part of the Baltic air policing mission intercepted 22 Russian aircraft over a week’s time at the end of July.
TheFinancial Timesreported that two of the instances represented the largest intercepts over eastern Europe in the last year and a half, during which time tensions between NATO and Russia have increased due to Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
What’s more, emergency deployments of NATO jets over Europe have reached their highestfrequency—250 times this year, 120 of which were conducted by the Baltic air policing mission—since the end of the Cold War.
“In the last year, Russia’s air activity close to NATO borders has increased in quantity and complexity,” a NATO official explained. “Russian aircraft often fly without their transponders switched on, without filing flights plans and without communicating with air traffic authorities.”
When powered on, transponders let civilian aviation authorities swiftly determine the location of an aircraft.
According to a ruling from the European Air Safety Agency earlier this year, Russia’s flight practices pose “high risk” to civil aviation. Due to Russia’s heightened action in the air, NATO has doubled the size of the decade-old Baltic air policing mission this year.
The United States has especially clashed with Russia in international airspace in recent months. In April, a Russian fighter jet nearly collided with a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea in what the Pentagon dubbed an “unsafe and unprofessional” intercept. A similar incident occurred over the Black Sea the following month.
In recent weeks, two high-ranking Pentagon generals tapped by President Obama to hold top posts at the Department of Defense have named Russia as the most significant threat to the United States.

Iran: U.S. Banned from Knowing Details of Iran Nuclear Inspection Agreement 

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Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the nuclear inspection organization is barred from revealing to the United States any details of deals it has inked with Tehran to inspect its contested nuclear program going forward, according to regional reports.
Recent disclosures by Iran indicate that the recently inked nuclear accord includes a series of side deals on critical inspections regimes that are neither public nor subject to review by the United States.
Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador and permanent envoy to the IAEA, stated over the weekend that no country is permitted to know the details of future inspections conducted by the IAEA. In addition, no U.S. inspectors will be permitted to enter Iran’s nuclear sites.
“The provisions of a deal to which the IAEA and a second country are parties are confidential and should not be divulged to any third country, and as Mr. Kerry discussed it in the Congress, even the U.S. government had not been informed about the deal between IAEA and Iran,” Najafi was quotedas saying by Iran’s Mehr News Agency.
Due to the secretive nature of these agreements, IAEA officials vising with lawmakers are barred from revealing to them the details of future inspections.
The revelation has rattled lawmakers on Capitol Hill, several of whom are now rallying colleagues to sign a letter to President Barack Obama protesting these so-called side deals.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kansas) and at least 35 other lawmakers are circulating a letter to Obama to provide Congress the text of these agreements as is required under U.S. law.
“It has come to our attention that during the recent negotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, at least two side deals were made between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran,” the letter states, according to a copy obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
“These side deals, concerning the ‘roadmap for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programs,’ have not been made available to the United States Congress,” it states. “One deal covers the Parchin military complex and the other covers possible military dimensions (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program.”
An informational email being circulated to lawmakers explains, “according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Obama Administration, these agreements have been negotiated in secret between the IAEA and Iran.”
Secretary of State John Kerry has personally “stated he has not seen these agreements and the Administration failed to submit these agreements as part of the JPCOA,” the email states.
Under the terms of a bill meant to give Congress a final say over the deal, the Obama administration is required to provide text of all agreements, the lawmakers write to Obama.
“Under the clear language of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which you signed into law, members of Congress are entitled to the text of these two side deals,” it states. “Specifically, members have a right to all ‘annexes, appendices, codicils, side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings and any related agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future.’”
“Congress’s legal right to these documents creates a corresponding legal obligation for your administration to provide them for our review,” the letter says.
The lawmakers are demanding that the White House “immediately secure” these documents from IAEA “and then provide them to Congress” for review.
Pompeo and Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) sent a separate letter to Obama administration official last week asking for them to disclose the nature of all secret side agreements with Iran.
Iran’s IAEA ambassador claims the agreements with the IAEA are separate from the actual nuclear accord inked with global powers.
“The Agency would know the nature of confidential documents and Iran have clearly briefed the IAEA on this; we have agreed on implementation of a roadmap which is not a part of the JCPOA, with the implementation already on process even before the Congress could examine and approve the deal,” Najafi was quoted as saying.
One senior congressional source familiar with the effort to obtain further information about the deal told the Free Beaconthe Obama administration is not being transparent in the review process.
“On top of all the concessions–from ballistic missiles to conventional arms to a 24-day inspection period–we now learn that additional side deals were struck between the IAEA and Iran,” said a senior congressional source familiar with the effort to obtain further information about the deal.
“The Administration promised a transparent review process that would allow Americans and their elected representatives to assess the deal for themselves, but as it turns out, that was just utter bullsh**,” the source added. “The Administration signed off on an agreement that included a series of Iranian Eastern eggs, including secret deals regarding the possible military dimensions of Tehran’s nuclear program, to which Congress and the public are not privy.”
Read the whole story
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Obama Administration Unsure if U.S. Troops Can Protect Syrian Insurgents in Islamic State ‘Free Zone’ 

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Pentagon officials are uncertain as to whether they have the authority to direct U.S. troops to protect the Syrian insurgents who will help create and eventually protect the so-called Islamic State “safe zone” on the Syrian-Turkish border.
Last week, the United States and Turkey agreed to rid the roughly 60-mile-long border zone of Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) terrorists, a plan that would result in heavy reliance on Syrian opposition fighters who are generally more concerned with crippling Bashar al-Assad’s regime than with toppling IS. 
Defense One reported that, during a background call on the matter later in the week, three high-ranking Obama administration officials expressed uncertainty that U.S. troops would be allowed to protect the Syrian opposition fighters in the zone against Assad forces.
One official sidestepped an inquiry regarding the U.S. plan to make sure that its forces do not butt heads with the Assad regime.
We’ve been at this now for some time,” he said. “And from the first night of the strikes, we’ve been very clear through various channels to the Syrian government that we were going after [ISIS] and that they should not come into the area in which we’re operating. So I would assume that we’ll have a standard procedure.”  
When pressed on the matter, the Pentagon said that it does not yet have an answer as to whether the U.S. has the authority to engage Assad forces to protect Syrian insurgents if need be.
 “We do not want to get ahead of the [Defense] Secretary in responding,” explained Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, citing Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s uncertainty on the matter earlier on in July.
“The U.S. is committed to the success of the personnel we will train,” Sowers continued. “We are still considering the full complement of support we might provide to the [U.S.-trained] forces.” 
On the background call, the administration official dubbed the safe zone an effective “no-fly zone” but explained that details still need to be ironed out with Turkey.
In terms of what exactly it looks like and how it will look and what the modalities are, that’s what we have to work out with them,” the official said. “It will not be a no-fly zone just as Kobani was not a no-fly zone. But if there are significant operations going on in an area … We’ve learned an awful lot, so we’re fairly confident that we can figure out how to do this.”
“Safe zone or whatever you want to call it, the idea is to get [ISIS] out of this area,” added the official. 
Though the U.S. insists that the plan is meant as a move against IS and not one against Assad, many Turkish and Syrian insurgents actually prioritize toppling Assad’s regime in Syria over scaling back IS.
Both view such a safe zone as an advantage over the Assad regime; it could allow them to curb the airstrikes launched by the Syrian government into regions occupied by the opposition while also shielding Turkey from the civil war.
It is unclear where the manpower for the mission will come from the Syrian opposition, as only 60 Syrian insurgents have received appropriate training and been vetted by the United States. Administration officials have not been specific about the number of fighters needed to generate the safe zone.
Regardless, the mission would require the United States military to work much more closely with the insurgents than it has thus far in the campaign against IS. The problem with relying on Syrian opposition fighters and ultimately allowing them to control the strip of land is, of course, that many of them have connections to Islamic militant groups.
Read the whole story
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Turkey Feigns Fight Against ISIS, Just As We Pretend To Fight “Al-Qaeda” 

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“Nobody ever knew what really happened. How many fighters or civilians killed to what effect…nobody knew any facts. In other words, it all seemed like theater for public consumption.” [Is the quotation above about Turkish airstrikes or American drone strikes?  How do we know that any “legitimate media” war report is true?] Instead Of Fighting […]
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More forces, including Assad's, could be hit in defense of US-trained New Syrian Forces

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A change in policy expands the forces – including those from the Assad regime – that could be hit in the defense of U.S.-trained fighters in Syria, the Pentagon said Monday.

Armed US drones begin flying out of Turkey base

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U.S. drones flew armed missions out of Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for the first time this weekend, part of an agreement between the NATO allies to work more closely to combat Islamic State forces.

Obama administration actions this recess could shift winds on defense bill

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Congress' failure to finish up its annual defense policy bill before going on summer vacation is giving the Obama administration more time to lobby lawmakers on two important issues: Shuttering the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and how to respond to the recent fatal shootings of military service members in Chattanooga.

Russia says US support for Syrian rebels portends wider Mideast chaos

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Russian officials warned Monday that the U.S. decision to back allied Syrian rebels with airstrikes threatens to unleash wider chaos and instability in Syria, now in its fifth year of civil war.

As U.S. Allies Seek Military Support, Ashton Carter Offers Reassurance 

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By sending Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter to calm allies, the White House can give the appearance of robust military support without sending American troops.

Is It Wise to Cut Military Spending?

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A discussion about the wisdom of such a move.
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Saving Tunisia From ISIS 

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Europe cannot afford to let this fragile democracy fall into a chaos that will feed the Islamic State.

Kyiv Dispatch: Displaced! 

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Vladymyr Khlepitko and his fiancée Yana Marek look like a normal couple sitting outside the Boulangerie Artisan café in downtown Kyiv. Two trendy young Ukrainians sipping lemonades in the hot summer sun, discussing chess and graphic design classes. But the backpacks slipped behind their chairs reveal their other life. They are two of the more than 1.3 million Ukrainians uprooted and displaced by their country’s current turmoil.
Vladymyr and Yana are quite literally carrying their lives on their backs.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 and began backing separatists groups in eastern Ukraine, waves of displaced Ukrainians have arrived in cities across the country. Even now—after two ceasefire agreements—the fighting along the eastern front remains constant, forcing Ukrainians located near the shelling to close up their homes, pack their belongings, and move away. Between June 26 and July 13 of this year alone, for example, some 24,000 Ukrainians fled to safety.
Today, the number of Ukrainians displaced totals more than in either Afghanistan or Somalia (though the Afghan wars at their height produced gigantic refugee flows and Syria these days is in a league of its own). Yet discussions surrounding the conflict do not always include these Ukrainians who move away from the fighting. Displaced Ukrainians, unlike Syrians, don’t live in squalid United Nations refugee camps: family members’ households around the country tend to absorb them, with the vast majority remaining in the East. Yet their lack of visibility does not make their situation any less real.
“The Ukrainian conflict is not just politics, it is a humanitarian crisis of considerable size that should not be overlooked,” explains Manfred Profazi, head of the Mission in Ukraine at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). “For displaced Ukrainians, there is no certainty nor any prospect for the future. How will you feed your family or reunite with those people who stayed behind?”
Vladymyr and Yana’s story began in Donetsk, an eastern part of the country now under Russian backed separatists’ control. The two were working together in news broadcasting, and Vladymyr taught chess classes at a local school. They hoped to get married in the spring of 2015.
Then a fateful bus ride last January derailed their plans.
The couple was returning from a visit to Kyiv to spend time with Yana’s mother, when their overcrowded bus approached a checkpoint. Before the couple could ready their passports, the bus suddenly began to shake. Then, as Vladymyr explains, “Boom, Boom, Boom,” the air blurred and the windows shattered. When the vibrations stopped, the lifeless bodies of ten Ukrainians lay dangling from seats and sprawled across the aisles. Three more died soon after.Photo provided by Vladymyr Khlepitko and Yana Marek.
Depending on whether you choose the Ukrainian or Russian narrative, the bus was either shelled (the Ukrainian version) or ran over a landmine (the Russian version). The incident sparked considerable local and international press: including this article in the Kyiv Post and this write up for the BBC. You can even watch videos from the checkpoint here.
Vladymyr and Yana believe they were hit with separatist shells, and Vladymyr still bears scars on his hand and head from the blast. They also both knew that in that part of the country, this could happen again and they would not be so lucky. They decided to return to Kyiv and have been there ever since. (Special thanks to Irina Bugera for her simultaneous translation of this interview.)
There was another reason for their decision: subtle harassment that they faced over photographs taken at a pro-Ukraine rally in Donetsk last year (including the picture above). As they tell the story, strangers began to ask their relatives prying questions soon after the photographs were published, including, more recently, when they might be returning to the East.
Vladymyr and Yana have stayed in fourteen different places since they arrived in Kyiv. And when we met, the couple still had not found a steady apartment—only finding a place for the previous night at 10pm (it was a friend’s apartment). “We don’t need much, just a room somewhere,” Yana explains, “something around 1,500 hryvnia (US$67) a month.” That coming night, Vladymyr was heading to a hostel, where another friend had purchased three nights for him. Yana (who is finishing up her graphic design degree in Kyiv) was going to stay in the room her mother rents outside the city center.
This is typical. The biggest problem for many of the Ukrainians starting anew is finding employment. International NGO Luganske Zemliatstvo has counted 100,000 unemployed displaced Ukrainians, more than three times the number put forth by the Ministry of Social Policy. Vadym Goran, head of Luganske Zemliatstvo, points to a skills mismatch. “In Kyiv potential employers are ready to offer internally displaced Ukrainians mostly unqualified positions, watchmen, couriers, or security guards… but the vast majority of the displaced have higher education and good working experience, including experience as top managers.”
Vladymyr agrees. He explains that often, people don’t think about internally displaced people as teachers, doctors, or other highly qualified professionals. He worries less that these talented individuals will stay permanently unemployed, more that they may soon head abroad—robbing Ukraine of its best and brightest. “Ukraine is ready for a Marshall Plan,” he says when asked how the international community can help.
Some local groups have tried to lend a hand in getting displaced Ukrainians back on their feet and into the workforce. A few weeks ago, Free Press Ukraine held a workshop for training interested Ukrainians in television journalism techniques. Among the seven participants in the three-day course were two displaced: one from Crimea and the other from the East. “We originally had two spaces allotted for them, where they wouldn’t have to pay the workshop fee,” said Julia Mendel, president of Free Press Ukraine. “Though, fortunately we were ultimately able to make it free for everyone.”
Housing is also a serious issue. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 displaced Ukrainians live in collective centers, unable to find a permanent place to live. Compounding the problem is that almost three quarters of the displaced are pensioners, children, or disabled Ukrainians, who may not have significant savings or support networks in their new areas. A government resolution aimed to support these vulnerable groups offers free housing for up to six months—though humanitarian groups still report difficulties in its implementation.
Vladymyr’s health did not aid the search for a permanent housing solution. A month and half after arriving in Kyiv, Vladymyr began suffering from severe ringing in his ears. When he finally went to the hospital, the doctors discovered shrapnel from the bus explosion lodged in his skull. He underwent immediate surgery, and spent the next two months recovering and largely immobile. With their savings wiped out, the couple postponed their wedding.
The government had promised compensation money and medical treatment to the bus explosion survivors (and even claimed to have delivered it), but Yana and Vladymyr swear it never materialized. Rather, the couple says that they were forced to rely largely on the generosity of friends and relatives for everything from medicine, their travel back to Kyiv, and winter clothes. “It’s very hard to start from a blank page,” says Vladymyr, “it makes your realize the things you need to live—even silverware—things that you never even noticed before.”
During his recovery, Vladymyr took solace in playing chess. He lights up when discussing his passion, and its recent transition into a business venture, as he opened Wisdom Chess Club last month in the basement of a Kyiv cafe. The couple has big plans for the club. Charging a monthly membership fee or $60 hryvnia an hour (US$3), they hope to earn enough money to get by and pay for their housing as business picks up.
It is getting late in the afternoon, but Vladymyr and Yana are still flipping through Facebook photos, proudly showing off the beautiful wooden chess sets made possible by a generous private donation. Yet, even among the happy pictures, the couple’s difficult reality creeps in. “You can’t call this living,” Vladymyr sighs, “we are just surviving.”
Read the whole story
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Today's Headlines and Commentary

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New Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour has called for Taliban unity in the wake of Mullah Omar’s death, the BBC reports: “division in our ranks will only please our enemies.” Mullah Mansour also appeared to dismiss burgeoning peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, declaring that “we will continue our jihad until the creation of an Islamic system.” Even so, the New York Times notes that Mansour reportedly approved the meeting between government and Taliban leaders that led to hopes for negogiations, and his statement did not rule out future talks. Before Mullah Omar was confirmed dead, statements released in his name had also supported the discussions. The Washington Post has more.
Despite his calls for a united front, Mullah Mansour still faces potential challenges to his leadership and serious divisions within the TalibanRadio Free Europe writes that Mullah Omar’s family has stated that it does not support Mansour’s leadership and has not pledged allegiance to him. Some high-ranking Taliban members have instead expressed support for Omar’s son.
Meanwhile, the Afghan government has finally weighed in on Omar’s confirmed death and the leadership crisis currently roiling the Taliban. President Ashraf Ghani released a statement declaring that the government will not accept the creation of any “parallel political structure”---a reference to the Taliban’s aspirations of governing Afghanistan---in peace talks. Dawn has the story.
Over at the Post, Carter Malkasian considers the Taliban’s future post-Omar. Either the movement will hold together despite the loss of Omar’s strong leadership, he writes, or it will dissolve into splinter groups---which would be good news for ISIS.
It seems Mullah Omar isn't the only Islamist leader whose passing has been recently proclaimed:anonymous Taliban sources report that the founder of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, is also dead. He purportedly died of natural causes almost a year ago---though the news of his death appeared only last Friday, a day after the Taliban confirmed the death of Mullah Omar. Nevertheless,Radio Free Europe tells us that the Taliban has denied reports of Haqqani’s demise, releasing a statement that claims to quote Haqqani as mourning Omar.
Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Qatar today to discuss the Iranian nuclear deal with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in an effort to assuage regional concerns over the possibility of a resurgent Iran. According to the AP, topics of discussion included continued U.S. security cooperation with the Gulf states and the development of a ballistic missile defense capabilities in the Gulf. The Times writes that, during the discussion with Secretary Kerry, GCC members seemed to place their cautious support behind the nuclear deal.
Before his trip to Doha, Secretary Kerry stopped in Cairo, resuming formal U.S.-Egypt strategic talks that were last held before the Arab Spring. While Kerry discussed security concerns and U.S.-Egyptian military collaboration, he also addressed Egypt’s growing climate of repression, urging Egyptian authorities to consider the interrelationship of human rights with a strong security policy.“Obviously,” Secretary Kerry said, according to the Post, “there has been a little bit of tension here and there” between Egypt and the United States “on certain issues.”
The question of repression and human rights also remains a topic of contention between the United States and Iran, nuclear deal or no. The Wall Street Journal examines the knotty problem posed by the billions of dollars in damages which U.S. courts have awarded to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, and which Iran has refused to pay. The unfreezing of Iranian assets as part of the nuclear deal may bring this issue to new prominence as new potential sources of compensation payment become available.
But the Iranian government isn’t taking accusations over its human rights record lying down. TheGuardian reports on a bizarre Iranian effort to discredit the U.N. special rapporteur investigating the country’s human rights record by distributing a fake Wikileaks cable, suggesting that the rapporteur was bribed by the Saudi government.
President Obama has authorized the United States to begin conducting airstrikes in defense of U.S.-trained Syrian rebel forces---ones fighting against other rebel groups as well as the forces of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. As the Journal describes, the decision suggests that the United States may soon come into direct military confrontation with the Syrian government---a situation that the Pentagon has so far avoided.
The President announced his decision a few days after the Nusra Front kidnapped several leaders of the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel forces. The al Qaeda-linked group has threatened to attack all U.S.-backed rebels within Syria, the Post writes.
A fighter jet belonging to the Syrian government has crashed in the rebel-held Syrian town of Ariha, killing nearly thirty people. The plane had dropped a bomb at the town’s center shortly before crashing.
Recently intensified Turkish efforts to close the porous Turkish-Syria border has led to problems for the stream of ISIS recruits entering Syria, who are finding it far more difficult to cross the Turkish border. Turkey’s increased border security is a component of Turkey’s new anti-ISIS (and anti-PKK) push, which was catalyzed by an ISIS-supported suicide bombing in the Turkish border town of Suruc, two weeks ago. The Post has the story.
Violence between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish PKK continues, with several Turkish troops killed and wounded in a PKK suicide attack near the Turkish border with Iran. Meanwhile, the Journal brings us news that the Iraqi Kurdish regional government has asked the PKK to withdraw from the region, arguing that Turkish airstrikes on the PKK are endangering Kurdish civilians.
The Journal also reports on the strange network of enmities and alliances between ISIS and various Kurdish groups. Though ISIS is fighting Kurds in Iraq and Syria, the extremist group has nevertheless been successful in recruiting Turkish Kurds---including the suicide bomber in Suruc.
A group that tracks coalition airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq has released a report tallying a high number of civilian deaths in the continuing air campaign. The AP tells us that the group identified57 strikes in which civilians were killed, with a total of 459 civilian deaths. For those interested, the report itself is available here.
The Daily Beast examines the role of defense contractors in the fight against ISIS. One company has negotiated a contract for a presence in Iraq through 2018---yet one more sign that those in the know doubt that the crisis in Iraq will end anytime soon.
In response to two recent acts of terror---a fatal stabbing at a gay pride parade and the arson of a West Bank home that killed a Palestinian toddler---numerous Israeli officials have proposed harsh new security measures. The Post tells us that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered authorities to employ “administrative detention” in dealing with suspects in such attacks. The latter is currently used only against Palestinian terrorist suspects, apparently. 
The Nigerian army has successfully rescued 178 captives from Boko Haram, many of whom had been held by the extremist group for over a year. One Boko Haram commander was also captured.
The situation in Burundi continues to grow worse, with the assassination of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s former intelligence chief this Sunday. IOL News writes that the assassination may move the country closer to the brink of political and ethnic violence, a possibility that has concerned commentators since the beginning of President Nkurunziza’s campaign to remain in office for an unconstitutional third term.
India and Bangladesh have finally swapped their border enclaves, settling a dispute that reaches back to colonial times. The tiny pockets of land, located within one country's borders but controlled by its neighbor, have now been exchanged. The move is good news for the many individuals living within the enclaves, who were effectively stateless but have been allowed to choose either Indian or Bangladeshi citizenship. The Post has more.
NATO members are reporting surges in Russian airspace violations and instances where aircraft are scrambled to intercept foreign jets, the Guardian tells us. NATO aircraft were forced to conduct more than 500 scrambles over Europe in 2014 – a fourfold increase on the previous year. 85% of those incidents were aimed at intercepting Russian aircraft.
China’s island building in the South China Sea continues to face scrutiny. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is hosting an annual security dialogue beginning tomorrow, which is set to focus on concerns over China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea. Also expected to be among the issues discussed at the talks in Kuala Lumpur are Southeast Asia's human-trafficking problem and concerns over North Korean missile launches. The AFP has thedetails.
National security concerns have led China to restrict exports of high-performance drones and supercomputers, the BBC reports. In an official statement issued by China's Ministry of Commerce and its Customs Office, the new regulations cover drones that can stay airborne for longer than an hour, handle bad weather and reach altitudes of one mile, and limit the export of computer hardware that supports high-speed processing. New resctrictions in Beijing come soon after the U.S. hardened its restrictions on the computer hardware that firms can sell to China.
In a reversal of its original position, the United States has decided to retaliate against China for the OPM hack--- but, according to the Timesthe government is now “struggling to decide what it can do without prompting an escalating cyber conflict.” According to one administration official, “One of the conclusions we’ve reached is that we need to be a bit more public about our responses, and one reason is deterrence.” The Justice Department is reportedly exploring legal action against Chinese individuals and organizations believed responsible for the OPM data breach.
Further straining the U.S.-China relationship, the Chinese government has demanded that the Obama administration return Ling Wancheng, a businessman with high-level connections to the Communist Party who fled to the United States. The Times notes that “should he seek political asylum, he could become one of the most damaging defectors in the history of the People’s Republic,” given Ling’s likely “treasure trove” of knowledge on Chinese government activities.
The Guardian examines the American Psychological Association’s divided response to a recent report describing the organization’s complicity in CIA torture. While some APA members believe that the report requires in-organization reforms, others have warned that proposed ethics changes represent a misguided,“politically motivated, anti-government and anti-military stance.”
Parting shot: Add your smartphone’s battery life to the list of ways you can be tracked. European security researchers have pointed out how information received by mobile sites on the state of a phone battery can essentially be used as an ID number, tracing the user’s path across the Internet.
ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare
Daniel Byman posted this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, on “The Limits of Counterterrorism.”
Aaron Zelin provided a statement from Ahrar al Sham: “Condolences on the Death of Mullah Omar.”
Jack explained what he sees as the United States’ feckless cyber deterrence policy.
Cody presented this week’s Lawfare Podcast, featuring a “mixtape” of interviews with Lisa Monaco, James Clapper, and Loretta Lynch from the the Aspen Security Forum.
Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us onTwitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

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No signs of ISIS decline despite Western efforts, say US spy agencies 

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Internal reports by American intelligence agencies say that the Islamic State remains strong in Iraq and Syria, and that the group has been able to effortlessly replace its 10,000 fighters who have been killed in the past year. Despite the over $1 billion spent in the war against it by the Syrian and Iraqi governments, as well as by the West, the militant group is “fundamentally no weaker” than it was a year ago, when the United States began a bombing campaign targeting Islamic State strongholds, according to the reports.

Lawmakers to unveil criminal justice reform bill in September - The Hill

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The Hill

Lawmakers to unveil criminal justice reform bill in September
The Hill
Bipartisan lawmakers in the House are planning to write legislation to overhaul the nation's criminal justice system this summer and introduce it in September, they said on Monday. The top Republican and Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee ...

The FBI's Hunt for the Most Wanted Cyber-Criminals | Digital Trends 

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Cyber-attacks are ten a penny now, and the FBI and other authorities that investigate these crimes around the world have many hurdles to cross if they want to catch a hacker. Police forces can often be hindered by the dark ...
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“Middle-Eastern males” approaching family members of military personnel

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Islamic State12The Islamic State has told Muslims to target and murder members of the U.S. military in their homes. “(U//FOUO) FBI Alert: Middle-Eastern Males Approaching Family Members of US Military Personnel,” Public Intelligence, August 3, 2015 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
The following alert related to “Middle-Eastern males” approaching military family members was obtained from the website of a veterans advocacy organization. A force protection advisory that was released by the Washington National Guard & Military Department days later describes a similar incident that occurred in Washington.
Middle-Eastern Males Approaching Family Members of US Military Personnel at their Homes In Colorado and Wyoming, as of June 2015
5 pages
For Official Use Only
July 2, 2015
(U//FOUO) In May 2015, the wife of a US military member was approached in front of her home by two Middle-Eastern males. The men stated that she was the wife of a US interrogator. When she denied their claims, the men laughed. The two men left the area in a dark-colored, four-door sedan with two other Middle-Eastern males in the vehicle. The woman had observed the vehicle in the neighborhood on previous occasions.
(U//FOUO) Similar incidents in Wyoming have been reported to the FBI throughout June 2015. On numerous occasions, family members of military personnel were confronted by Middle-Eastern males in front of their homes. The males have attempted to obtain personal information about the military member and family members through intimidation. The family members have reported feeling scared.
(U//FOUO) To date, the men have not been identified and it is not known if all the incidents involve the same Middle-Eastern males. If you have any information that may assist the FBI in identifying these individuals, or reporting concerning additional incidents; in Colorado please contact the FBI Fort Collins Resident Agency at 970-663-1028, in Wyoming please contact the FBI Cheyenne Resident Agency at 307-632-6224.
(U) This report has been prepared by the DENVER Division of the FBI. Comments and queries may be addressed to the DENVER Division at 303-629-7171.
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Russia Insists on Own Impunity, Gains Pariah Status

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The Russian nyet in the United Nations Security Council, which blocked the resolution on setting up an international tribunal on the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, was entirely predictable (see EDM, July 30). President Vladimir Putin had described the proposed legal body as “untimely,” and many Russian officials and propaganda cheerleaders had elaborated on the alleged politicization and bias of the Flight MH17 investigation (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 24). Yet, the damage to Russia’s reputation for casting its veto is devastating because it amounts to Moscow admitting direct involvement in the tragedy, which claimed 298 lives; no amount of diplo-speak can hide this fact. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s permanent envoy to the UN, surprised his peers by expressing hope for “impunity” (beznakazannost) for those who had shot down the plane (Moskovsky Komsomolets, July 29). That was certainly a slip of a tired tongue, and he probably meant to say something about responsibility (otvetstvennost); but Churkin’s accidental remark points to a pronounced Russian self-perception: Russia indeed seems to believe that, as a “great power,” it cannot be subjected to any tribunals and has impunity in conducting its foreign and domestic affairs as it sees fit (Moscow Echo, July 31).
It remains to be seen whether Moscow will again block a Security Council resolution in a couple of months, when the final report from the international investigation of the downed Malaysian Boeing 777, led by the Netherlands, will be published, or whether Russia will try to prevent a vote on this issue in the UN General Assembly (, July 30). It has, however, become quite clear that Russia has destroyed one of the pillars of its own foreign policy, which habitually presents the UN as the main upholder of international law and the ultimate arbiter in major interstate disputes (, July 29). Moscow has sought to become a champion of a more democratic and fair global system free from the United States’ “hegemony”—but now it has come in conflict with the whole international community (, July 29).
It was certainly a major defeat for Russian diplomacy that only three members of the UN Security Council (Angola, China and Venezuela) opted to abstain from supporting the MH17 tribunal resolution, while 11 voted in favor. The Kremlin was quick to express full understanding of the Chinese position. But in fact, China’s refusal to provide direct support in this crucially important moment signifies a failure in Russia’s attempts to build a mature “strategic partnership” with the great East Asian neighbor (Kommersant, July 30). Beijing has not only refused to be associated with covering up a high-profile crime but also expressed disapproval of Russia’s radically revisionist behavior, which departs too far from its own ideas about gradual reform of the global system through a new type of great power relations with the US (, July 30). This diplomatic demarche has brought into focus the senselessness of Russian hopes for expanding economic ties with China as a way to compensate for the deepening disruption of trade and investment flows with Europe (, July 29). Even the natural gas contracts, which were supposed to form a solid basis for a new partnership with China, are stalled—with slim chance of progressing toward implementation (Vedomosti, July 22).
It is Russia’s increasing economic weakness that warns China, India and other emerging Asia-Pacific powers against investing in Russian resource development projects, because for them the decision to abandon the goals of modernization and to adopt instead a self-isolating agenda is most likely incomprehensible. For members of Putin’s regime, on the other hand, the idea of compensating for economic decline with “patriotic” mobilization is entirely natural, and the rejection of Western pressure fits perfectly into this agenda. The downside, of course, is the sanctions; and Washington’s most recent tightening of the economic restrictions targeting companies and individuals profiting from loopholes has irked the Kremlin (, July 31). The government in Moscow promises an “asymmetric” response, like, for instance, the ban on importing flowers from the Netherlands, which is intended to be a “punishment” for pushing the tribunal proposal within the UN (Kommersant, August 1). The Russian population, on the other hand, is growing indifferent to sanctions: a recent opinion poll shows only 41 percent of respondents worried about them, against 51 percent last December (, July 29).
At the same time, an understanding of the deeper causes of Russia’s painful economic decline is gradually emerging among the domestic electorate, and it is the Russian governors who are presently most worried about the possibility of an emergent protest vote in the coming local elections. Opposition candidates and campaigns are unceremoniously banned from partaking in elections, for instance in Novosibirsk or Magadan, which pushes the discontent down into the political underground (Novaya Gazeta, August 1). The opposition has no means to take these blatant violations of its rights to court, because the whole legal system is politically guided to persecute dissent and stigmatize “foreign agents” (, July 30). The Russian court hearing of the case against Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko perfectly illustrates this failure of justice (, July 30). Putin’s subordinates undoubtedly believe that Western courts are also following political orders. Thus, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a stern warning to the United States against acting in accordance with the verdict of the Hague international arbitration body, which last year awarded former Yukos shareholders compensation amounting to $50 billion. This ruling has led to arrests in Europe of material and financial assets belonging to Russian state companies (, August 1).
Exactly 40 years ago, the Soviet Union signed the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), accepting commitments to respect the norms of international behavior and to observe the standards of human rights. The Kremlin had, in fact, no intention to relax domestic pressure on dissidents (who formed the legendary Helsinki group) but saw the document as a matter of pivotal importance to establish the inviolability of European borders. Today, Putin’s Russia is recycling some of the most notorious Soviet methods of suppressing the human rights movement—but at the same time, Moscow also rejects the constraints of international law and violates the borders of its neighbors at its convenience. The Kremlin assumes that Russia’s impunity is guaranteed by the country’s nuclear arsenal, but all these missiles and warheads can do nothing to deter global public opinion, which is increasingly turning against Russia.
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Investigative Report Suggests Russian Security Services Pushing North Caucasus Militants to Flee to Middle East

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Russia’s policy toward the Islamic State (IS) group in the Middle East is controversial. On the one hand, involvement in IS activities officially became a crime in Russia in February 2015 (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, February 27). On the other hand, Russia does not seem to have taken the appropriate steps to stem the outflow of volunteer fighters to the Middle East. Given the powers of the Russian state to control the movement of its citizens, there are few if any indications that the government is preventing people from going to the war torn region. A recent investigative report by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta states that beyond failing to create obstacles for Russian citizens seeking to go to Syria to fight, the Russian security services actually contribute to the outflow. “They regard as a threat only those who try to return from that war,” the newspaper wrote (Novaya Gazeta, July 29).
During his annual phone-in show on April 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that IS did not pose a direct threat to Russia, although the authorities were concerned about Russian and other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries’ citizens traveling to the Middle East and about the consequences of their potential return back to Russia. “I cannot say that we know them [the IS recruits] all by name, but we know their approximate number, where they fight, where they train,” Putin said. “Some of them we actually know by name and the security services are actively working on this issue” (, April 18).
It is unclear what the Russian security services are up to in the Middle Eastern conflict. It follows from the Novaya Gazeta report that some groups of militants in the Middle East, such as Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, have not even been outlawed by Russia. Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar is primarily made up of Chechens, Dagestanis and other people from CIS countries. Russian state agencies are notorious for scouring the Internet for extremist materials. Yet, much of the IS propaganda in Russian has been openly accessible, and the state agencies have shown little interest in this fact. The Russian authorities are known to put pressure on Muslims, but some preachers of IS ideology are operating quite openly and freely, which is quite unthinkable in contemporary Russia (Novaya Gazeta, July 29).
Thousands of people from Russia and other former Soviet states are believed to be fighting in the Middle East now. Some Russian experts have voiced concerns about a possible deterioration of the security situation in the North Caucasus after the militants start returning to the region. However, so far the situation in the region has actually become quieter, and there is a simple explanation for that. According to the well-known Russian expert on Islam, Aleksei Malashenko, officials from Dagestan traveled to Syria specifically to convince the Dagestani militants who are fighting there to stay in the Middle East and refrain from returning back home (Kavkazsky Uzel, March 13).
The Novaya Gazeta article also has extremely credible evidence of the new government policy designed to export Islamists from Russia to the Middle East. According to the newspaper, several leaders of the underground movement in the village of Novosasitl, in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district, reached an agreement with the Federal Security Service (FSB), which allowed them to receive foreign passports and secure safe passage to Turkey and then on to Syria. Among them was the so-called amir of the Northern Sector of the Caucasus Emirate who, officially, is dead, but in reality, according to the report, went to Turkey. The Russian security services routinely offer “agent agreements” in exchange for safe passage to Syria, Novaya Gazeta writes. Instead of solving the pressing social issues that propelled the armed underground movement, such as corruption and the lack of social mobility and opportunity, the government in Dagestan has adopted a new strategy—exporting militants to the Middle East (Novaya Gazeta, July 29). The strategy is remarkably similar to the centuries-old Russian strategy in the Caucasus, when the Tsarist authorities promoted the mass emigration of the unwanted populations. Even the destination of such forced emigrations remains the same—Turkey and the Middle East.
By allowing and promoting the emigration of Islamists, Russian authorities achieve several aims. They clear the volatile North Caucasus of Islamists and reduce violence in the country. The export of militants to the Middle East also serves Russian foreign policy goals, most principally to cause as much volatility in the Middle East as possible in order to drive up oil prices. High oil prices are practically the only way for the current Russian regime to survive in the long run. What appears to be a widespread practice in Russia, “agent agreements” signed between the Russian security services and Islamist recruits amounts to the Russian state recruiting militants for militant organizations in the Middle East. This policy of creating problems for neighboring countries, while having an Islamic underground movement on Russia’s own territory, is likely to backfire sooner or later. Even though Russia temporarily “solves” its problem in the North Caucasus and creates headaches for others in the Middle East, this strategy is unlikely to lead to a long-term solution for either of these regions.
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US would defend Israel as it would a NATO ally

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August 3, 2015, 9:21 PM (IDT)
A US defense official said Monday that his country would defend Israel as it would a NATO ally. If Israel were attacked by Iran, the US would come to its defense. The US commitment to Israel’s security is “something US defense officials live on a daily basis,” he said in a briefing to Israeli diplomatic correspondent on a visit to Washington. The official said too that the US will not sell the state-of-the-art F35 fighter, promised to Israel to any other country in the Middle East, including Egypt. The official said that the US was “appalled” by Iranian calls to destroy Israel, “but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t sign a deal that decreases the likelihood they will be a nuclear state,” he said.
DEBKAfile: the Obama administration is in the midst of a media assault in Middle East countries to win journalists round in favor of the nuclear accord signed with Iran last month. The objective is to present their supportive articles to Congress to show US lawmakers that the nuclear deal enjoys a good press in the countries most affected.

Defense News: National Military Strategy

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Defense News: National Military Strategy

Latvia To Acquire US Stingers, Boost Air Defense

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Latvia’s top military chief Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube has announced plans to acquire Stinger anti-aircraft missiles
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US Agrees To Speed Arms Sales to Gulf States

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Doha, Aug 3, 2015 (AFP) - Washington has agreed to speed up arms sales to Gulf countries following a meeting with regional foreign ministers in Qatar, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday.

Religious gay leader: Stabber acted alone but had backing of rabbis, MKs 

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Daniel Jonas, the chairperson of Havruta, calls on the religious community to firmly reject homophobic sentiments that lead to Thursday's pride parade stabbing.

Ricky Martin still going strong

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Ricky Martin takes time out his One World Tour to sit down with daily Hürriyet on the back of new hits on Latino and English-language charts

Syrian bomber jet kills at least 31 people after crashing into market

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The majority of those killed were civilians on the ground after the jet first bombed the city's main street then dramatically plummeted into the centre of the marketplace.

AP Top News at 1:32 p.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 1:32 p.m. EDT
Report: US-led strikes in Iraq, Syria killed 459 civiliansBAGHDAD (AP) - U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have likely killed at least 459 civilians over the past year, a report by an independent monitoring group said Monday. The coalition had no immediate comment. The report by Airwars, a project aimed at tracking the international airstrikes targeting the extremists, said it believed 57 specific strikes killed civilians and caused 48 suspected "friendly fire" deaths. It said the strikes have killed more than 15,000 Islamic State militants.
Sheriff: Man fatally shoots defendant waiting at courthouseCANTON, Miss. (AP) - A man fatally shot a defendant waiting in a small courtyard outside a criminal courthouse in Mississippi on Monday morning, and a suspect is in custody, law enforcement officials said. The suspect has been arrested and is in jail, Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker said, but he declined to identify him or the victim.
House GOP says it has the votes to disapprove of Iran dealWASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans said Monday that they have the GOP votes to disapprove of the Iran nuclear deal as Democrats stepped up their support of the agreement the Obama administration and other world powers negotiated with Tehran. Since Republicans hold a commanding 246 seats in the House, it was widely expected that the GOP would come up with 218 votes to support a resolution of disapproval, which has been introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill.
New Mexico governor: Keep worshipping after church blastsLAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - The governor told New Mexico residents to keep attending houses of worship after small explosions outside two churches put parishioners on edge. There were no injuries or deaths from the small blasts that occurred Sunday just 20 minutes and a few miles apart, but congregants at the Las Cruces churches were shocked.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A manhunt was underway Monday for a suspect who police say fatally shot a Memphis officer after he interrupted a drug deal involving a small amount of marijuana that would have resulted in just a misdemeanor citation and a fine. "He's a coward," Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said of the suspect, 29-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn. "You gunned down, you murdered a police officer, for less than 2 grams of marijuana. You literally destroyed a family."
Police: Messages for No. 1 Mafioso hidden in Sicilian soilROME (AP) - The No. 1 Cosa Nostra fugitive communicates with henchmen using written messages buried in dirt or hidden under boulders on sheep ranches and comes and goes from Sicily, possibly thanks to high-level protection, investigators said Monday after nabbing some of his alleged accomplices. In early morning raids in the countryside of western Sicily, police took into custody 11 men investigators contend helped convicted Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro wield power despite being at large since 1993.
Texas' attorney general charged with securities fraudMcKINNEY, Texas (AP) - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton turned himself in Monday to face charges that he misled investors and didn't disclose money he made for referring financial clients as part of his private business before becoming the state's top lawyer in January. Paxton, a 52-year-old Republican, was fingerprinted and photographed at the Collin County jail while a throng of media waited outside. It was a frenzy reminiscent of one year ago when then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry - who was also still in office - was booked after being indicted on charges of abusing his power with a 2013 veto.
Investigation Discovery network can get you hooked on crimeNEW YORK (AP) - Henry Schleiff wants to simplify your life. He wants to school you in life lessons.
Party on, Abe: Illinois named top party school in the USCHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - The University of Illinois stakes claim to 23 Nobel Prize winners and tech prowess that contributed to the creation of YouTube, Netscape, Java and light-emitting diodes, or LED. But students at the central Illinois campus don't just bury their heads in books, they also party - so much so that they've earned the top spot on The Princeton Review's annual list of top party schools in the U.S., the college guide said Monday.

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Syria's Western-backed Political Opposition Again Selects President 

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Syria's western-backed political opposition, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, reelected Khaled Khoja for a second term as its president, the body said in a statement. The Coalition, accused of slipping into virtual irrelevance on the battlefield as Islamist and Kurdish groups have grown stronger, is working on establishing a new military command structure to head up rebel fighting groups. On Saturday, it said it had decided to allow itself an...

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EU unimpressed by UK migrant complaints

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Other member states face far greater pressures from asylum seeker numbers

Former President Jimmy Carter undergoes liver operation

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ATLANTA (AP) -- The Carter Center says former President Jimmy Carter has undergone a medical procedure to remove a small mass in his liver, and that he's expected to make a full recovery....

Russia Creates Aerospace Forces

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Russia has merged several branches of its military into the Aerospace Forces.

Syrian Air Raids and Warplane Crash Kill At Least 27, Activists Say 

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(BEIRUT) — Government air raids in a northwestern town in Syria and a subsequent crash by a Syrian warplane that slammed into a residential area there killed at least 27 people on Monday, activists said.
The raids on the town of Ariha came amid intense clashes between government forces and insurgents in the northwestern province of Idlib and the central region of Hama. The town, once a government stronghold, was captured by opposition fighters and Islamic militants in May. Government forces have suffered setbacks in Idlib province since March, including the loss of the provincial capital of the same name.
An activist group known as the Local Coordination Committees said the warplane crashed in a busy market, adding that it was not immediately clear whether it was shot down. The LCC said 27 people were killed and many others were wounded.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads another activist group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the plane crashed in the town center, destroying several homes. The Observatory later said that 31 people were killed and more than 60 were wounded.
The Ariha Today Facebook page posted a photo showing at least seven buildings reduced to rubble on a narrow street. It said 27 people were killed but that 12 of them have not been identified yet.
The group also listed 55 wounded, including nine women. The discrepancies in the different casualty figures reported could not be reconciled.
The Observatory and the LCC said that at the time of the crash, the town was under attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air force.
An amateur video posted online by activists showed several damaged buildings, as well as parts of the plane that crashed. The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other Associated Press reporting of the events.
Syria’s civil war began in March 2011. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said last week that at least 250,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict so far.

ISIS prisoner is 'executed by a child who shoots handcuffed man in the head'

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Images published by an anti-ISIS activist in Syria show a man kneeling in a red jumpsuit while a young boy points a handgun at his head.

On Kerry visit, Arab nations express support for Iran nuclear agreement 

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DOHA, Qatar — Persian Gulf Arab states on Monday publicly endorsed the Iran nuclear deal during a visit by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who said the United States would step up arms sales and intelligence-sharing to counter Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the regionRead full article >>

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News Analysis: As U.S. Allies Seek Military Support, Ashton Carter Offers Reassurance 

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By sending Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter to calm allies, the White House can give the appearance of robust military support without sending American troops.

'Trainwreck' star Amy Schumer and her politician cousin call for better gun control 

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Stand-up comedian and actress Amy Schumer teamed up with New York Senator Charles Schumer to call for tighter gun control

Sweden Expels Russian Diplomat, Moscow Retaliates

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Sweden has expelled a Russian diplomat and Moscow has retaliated by throwing out a Swedish diplomat.

Former senior CIA official says waterboarding was 'torture'

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A former executive director of the CIA under President George W Bush says he is comfortable with using the word "torture" to describe some of the techniques used to interrogate terror suspects

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Crews Begin to Gain Ground Against Fierce California Wildfire

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A fierce wildfire that has devoured drought-parched terrain in northern California with remarkable speed raged on for a sixth day on Monday as evacuations expanded and firefighters began to gain some ground against the flames. The blaze, dubbed the Rocky Fire, has scorched some 60,000 acres and destroyed two dozen houses since erupting last week in the canyons and foothills along the inland flanks of California's North Coast Ranges, quadrupling in size over the weekend. The flames...

Puerto Rico defaults on debt repayment in first for a US commonwealth 

Island pays just $628,000 toward a $58m debt due Monday as lack of liquidity continues to hamper its ability to dig out from under estimated $72bn debt load
Puerto Rico missed its first debt repayment on Monday, the first time the troubled US commonwealth has failed to pay its bills.
The island paid just $628,000 toward a $58m debt due to creditors of its Public Finance Corporation. While the default was expected, it is likely to worsen the financial situation for the island as its struggles with debts estimated at $72bn.
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F.A.Q. About Puerto Rico’s Debt Troubles

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Despite some cutbacks, the United States government continues to pump tens of billions of dollars into Puerto Rico to support health care, subsidized housing and policing.

Europe’s New Pro-Putin Coalition: the Parties of ‘No’