Friday, March 11, 2016

Director Meets with New Zealand Law Enforcement Leaders - Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)

Director Meets with New Zealand Law Enforcement Leaders - Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)

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Director Meets with New Zealand Law Enforcement Leaders
Federal Bureau of Investigation (press release) (blog)
FBI Director James BComey met this week with our partners in New Zealand to discuss a host of important issues regarding the safety and security of the citizens of both countries. “The U.S.-New Zealand law enforcement partnership remains steadfast ...

Ben Carson endorses Donald Trump

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March 11, 2016, 5:30 PM (IDT)
Former presidential hopeful, the neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Friday endorsed Donald Trump for the Republican nomination call him “very cerebral” and “actually a very intelligent man who cares deeply about America.” Trump agreed with him, saying “I’m a big thinker. I”m a very deep thinker, I know what’s happening. OK?”

Nationalist party set for gains as 3 German states vote

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MAGDEBURG, Germany (AP) - A rising nationalist party is expected to ride unease about Chancellor Angela Merkel's migrant policy to perform strongly in three German state elections this weekend, the first significant political test since last year's massive influx of people seeking safety and a better life.
Alternative for Germany, ...

Officership and the English Language 

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To speak of “the profession of arms” is to imply that military officers don’t just have jobs, but—like doctors, lawyers, and members of the clergy—are members of a community of learned practitioners. It follows that a good officer keeps up with the latest innovations in his field, follows a body of professional literature, and contributes to that literature as his career progresses. You wouldn’t want your heart surgeon simply applying by rote whatever he learned years ago in medical school. Technology and best practices evolve, and survival depends on how abreast the good doctor is of the state of the art. For quite similar reasons, the nation expects more than just rote performance from its infantry commanders, bomber pilots, and ships’ captains.
I have in front of me the 100th anniversary issue of the Marine Corps Gazette—the semi-official professional journal for Marines—in which the editors have reprinted the greatest hits from their first century. I admit to having spent a very pleasant chunk of my week reading through the thoughts of one Colonel John Lejeune on considerations for the mobile defense of advanced bases; Major Alfred Cunningham’s account of the early years of Marine aviation; General Al Gray’s observations on the art of command; a Lieutenant General Robert Neller’s response to the “Young Turks” who had been making trouble in these very pages; and more classic contributions besides.
For Marines, or for those who take an interest in the Marines, these pages constitute snapshots of the evolution of the Corps from (as the Gazette’s editor, retired Colonel Christopher Woodbridge, points out) a naval security force of 75 officers and 3,000 men in 1898 to the mighty national institution that exists today. Of particular note is how many principles of critical importance to the Corps were addressed and settled early. Lejeune emphasizes in 1916 that Marines must be trained and indoctrinated as infantrymen, regardless of their specific jobs, because the infantry “possesses in a superlative degree, the very highest military qualities.” Later that year a Major John Russell (later the 16th Commandant) praises the quality of Prussian doctrine and staff culture. In 1920, Cunningham addresses the importance of integrating aviators into the broader culture of the Corps—and provides a defense for the failure to better accomplish this during the fast-paced days of World War One.
Rober Neller
Then-LtGen Robert Neller / AP
This is all well and good, but perusing these early contributions, something else stuck out that was of even greater interest: these guys could really write. Almost without exception, the articles from the first half of the 20th Century are composed in clear, elegant, precise language. Cliché is rare, as is undefined jargon. Any educated human with a basic knowledge of military affairs could follow and attempt to evaluate these pieces for himself. The prose offers little defilade for muddy thinking to hide.
Lejeune’s two articles stand out particularly in this regard, despite his occasional weakness for Georgian flourishes. (“Surely, this is a mission…which furnishes a spur to energetic effort and zealous labor in time of peace, so as to attain the true soldier’s Elysian state…”) He has a gift for vivid metaphor. Artillery doesn’t fire, it “throw[s] its projectiles into the city…” Preparation for combat is important because “wars nowadays come with the suddenness of a magazine explosion…” Perhaps most importantly, terms of art are carefully defined: “I think there is some confusion…in the mind of the ordinary Marine officer like myself, as to the meaning of the term ‘Advance Base.’”
Cunningham, too, is a more than decent stylist. Though it may seem unimportant, I couldn’t help but notice the confidence of this simple transition:
Judging from the unfamiliarity of the average Marine officer with what has been accomplished by Marine aviation, we have failed woefully to advertise. A short résumé of what has been accomplished will perhaps be of interest.
Alfred Cunningham
Major Alfred Cunningham / Wikimedia Commons
Are Cunningham’s economy and precision in these two relatively unimportant sentences absolutely critical? No. But just as having well-rolled sleeves or carefully bloused boots are taken by officers to be signs of discipline, precise language, even when not essential, ought to be taken as a sign of clear thinking. And all the military discipline in an organization will be for naught if its leaders lack clear thinking on which to base their commands.
There are many fine articles here published after World War Two—the 1989 piece from a group led by William Lind on so-called “fourth generation” warfare is well nigh prophetic—and there are some nicely written ones, too. Neller’s response to quarrelsome young officers is as clear as anyone could ask. But it can’t be denied that, in general, the quality of the prose during the Gazette’s second half-century declines, judging by these examples.
The main culprit is compulsive overreliance on unnecessary technical language—jargon and acronyms—which, again based on these examples, officers like Lejeune seemed to get by without. The problem manifests in earnest with a committee report on the organization of the infantry division in 1957, and metastasizes during the following decades. I could present many dozens of acute examples as evidence, but for space’s sake will stick to a single illustrative moment from a piece devoted to the Marine invasion of southern Afghanistan in 2001:
In keeping with the notion that problem identification constitutes only half of the process, a few recommendations are offered. A good place to start is with the 35th Commandant’s stated priorities, which tell us to “aggressively experiment with and implement new capabilities and organizations” designed to “succeed in distributed operations and increasingly complex environments”…
In fairness to the author, the prose that is really objectionable here is not what he has produced, but the document that he quotes. Some of the jargon is forgivable: “distributed operations,” for example, has a specific meaning—small units using modern communications to operate while dispersed very widely on the battlefield. As ever with technical terms, it is easy to see the convenience of relying on shorthand that one expects to be understood by fellow professionals.
But here’s the problem with jargon. It begins as a simple convenience, but in time encrusts your language, and thus your thinking, with barnacles of hidden and no-longer examined assumptions. Even more dangerous, and perfectly illustrated by this example, is that it dulls the mind of the reader to the point where it is possible to slip in a word or phrase that obscure much more than they reveal, often at critical junctures. Here, the guilty party is “increasingly complex environments,” a suicide bomber concealed in a crowd of technical terms, perfectly placed to murder years of subsequent planning and derivative thought.
To say that today’s battlefield is “increasingly complex” may be true, but what purpose does it serve when paired with the imperative to “experiment with and implement new capabilities and organizations”? (Don’t forget to do so aggressively!) My answer: the phrase’s purpose, likely unconscious, is to punt. It is banal and obvious to say that a battalion commander’s world is more complicated today than it was in 1916. So what “capabilities and organizations” are officers meant to design to deal with the undefined blob of the newly “complex” battlefield? Is it desirable or even possible that Marine units be prepared to deal with every potential aspect of 21st century warfare? How much useful planning can be done without defining possible operating environments more narrowly than “increasingly complex”? Does this imperative require the Corps to cut back on experimenting with better ways to conduct operations in noncomplex environments? After all, a Marine expeditionary force conducted a highly conventional campaign as recently as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Tough questions. Important questions. But rather than point to them, the faux-sophisticated language of my example obscures them. The combination of forgivable technical shorthand and borderline-meaningless terms presents the appearance of depth and careful thought, when it is actually shallow and careless. Lejeune, judging from his own careful prose, wouldn’t have stood for it.
Now, this is all very hard on one short passage ripped from its context, not to say a quote within that passage entirely ripped from its own surroundings, itself the product of much committee work. The Corps has given more thought to “complexity” than this single passage—as has, indeed, the rest of the Department of Defense, where “complexity” currently reigns as a kind of all-purpose totem that many more seem to worship than understand. But even if this one example is slightly unfair, officers know that language of this nature is generally the norm in official communications and professional writing, and not just in the Marines.
That’s an enormous problem for the profession of arms—one not entirely of its own making, but surely related to the declining quality of secondary and higher education in America. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the military is dependent on the clear thinking of its leaders, the safety of the republic depends upon the effectiveness of the military, and the whole rules-based international order depends upon the leadership of this great country. So, all hail the Marine Corps Gazette! May its centennial issue serve both as an inspiration, and as a warning.
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Trump: ‘I Think There Are Two Donald Trumps’ 

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After Dr. Ben Carson’s endorsement of him that included saying that there are “two Donald Trumps,” Trump confirmed that was indeed true during a press conference Friday in Palm Beach, Florida.
Carson officially announced he was supporting Trump for the Republican nomination on Friday, despite Trump going hard after him during the campaign, at one point likening him to a child molester. Carson said the pair had “buried the hatchet,” and that in contrast to his public persona, Trump was “actually a very intelligent man.”
“I’ve come to know Donald Trump over the last few years,” Carson said. “He’s actually a very intelligent man who cares deeply about America. There are two different Donald Trumps. There’s the one you see on the stage and there’s the one who’s very cerebral, sits there and considers things very carefully. You can have a very good conversation with him, and that’s the Donald Trump that you’re going to start seeing more and more of right now.”
After Carson spoke, Trump was asked by a reporter if he agreed with that characterization of him.
“I probably do agree. I think there are two Donald Trumps,” he said. “There’s the public version, and people see that, and I don’t know what they see exactly, but it seems to have worked over my life, but it’s probably different than the personal Donald Trump … Perhaps there are two Donald Trumps.
“I’m somebody that is a thinker. I’m a big thinker, and I have my ideas and they’re strong and typically they’ve worked out … We have so many problems … We’re going to straighten things out.”
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AIR TRANSPORTATION: Russia Does Damage Control

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The Early Edition: March 11, 2016 

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Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
Apple v. FBI. The Department of Justice has harshly criticized Apple in its latest court filing concerning its demand that the tech giant write software to break into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The government said Apple “deliberately raised technological barriers” to prevent compliance with the warrant. The filing also alleges that Apple has assisted the Chinese government to access customer data while it rejected the FBI’s request. Apple’s lawyer has said the DoJ is attempting to “smear” it with “desperate” and “unsubstantiated” claims. [BBCWall Street Journal’s Devlin Barrett; Reuters]
The court filing and Apple’s “emotional” rebuke signals an escalation in tensions over the case, which has drawn worldwide attention due to its significant legal and corporate implications. [New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau and Katie Benner]
The new court documents also provide an insight into the days following the San Bernardino shooting, government lawyers defending the FBI’s decision to change the iCloud password associated with the iPhone, saying the auto-backup feature was probably disabled. [NBC News’ Andrew Blankstein and Mattew Deluca]
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has presented a proposal to the US that would bring America’s role as the final authority on internet naming to an end. In return, Icann will overhaul its governance system intended to prevent meddling by governments in the future. Richard Walters provides the details at the Financial Times.
The Federal Communications Commission has put forward a draft proposal to govern how Internet providers share customer data with third parties, including advertisers. If adopted they would be the first rules of their kind. [NPR’s Alina Selyukh]
The FBI put bugs in binders in order to eavesdrop on Russian intelligence agents, court documents in the trial of alleged Russian agent Evgeny Buryakov revealed this week. [CNN’s Lorenzo Ferrigno]
UK Prime Minister David Cameron was “distracted by domestic priorities” while post-2011 uprising Libya became a “mess,” President Obama said in an interview with the Atlantic, revealing his frustration with aspects of British foreign policy. He said the nations’ “special relationship” would be at risk if the UK did not pay the proportion of its national income on defense required by NATO[The Guardian’s Rowena Mason]  In a White House email to the UK’s BBC, however a spokesperson stated that the US “deeply” valued the UK’s contributions to efforts in Libya. [BBC]
Th Islamic State has been “portraying itself as the most important bulwark against foreign intervention” in Libya, according to the UN Security Council’s annual report released on Wednesday. The terrorist group has expanded into the security vacuum left by the 2011 uprising, the report says, its growing presence likely to “increase the level of international and regional interference, which could provoke further polarization.” [Reuters] The UN report has also found that numerous countries, companies and individuals are breaching the international arms embargo on Libya, supplying arms to factions in the North African country. [Wall Street Journal’s Margaret Coker]
Thousands of Islamic State personnel records obtained by German and British media this week have caught the attention of US intelligence officials, who are skeptical that they will disclose “many new revelations” about Islamic State’s current operations. Although US intelligence has yet to examine the documents, it appears they are as much as three years old. [The Daily Beast’s Nancy A Youssef et al]
A “fantastic coup.” In Britain however the head of global counterterrorism, Richard Barrett thinks the trove of documents are “an absolute goldmine of information of enormous significance and interest” – assuming they’re genuine. [Reuters’ Guy Faulconbridge]  The documents appear to reveal the names of previously unknown British Islamic State fighters. They also list a number of well known British jihadis. [The Guardian’s Shiv Malik]
Others are questioning the authenticity of the documents, and have pointed out discrepancies in formatting, dates and the Islamic State logo displayed on the documents. [The Guardian’s Kareem Shaheen]  The German Federal Bureau of Investigation will act on the assumption that the documents are genuine, according to Germany’s interior minister. [BBC]
Where did they come from? The documents had reportedly been “touted around the Middle East of months, dangled in front of media outlets for large sums of money,” before they were eventually published by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then Sky in the UK. [The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill]
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will send delegates to the peace talks due to start in Geneva next week, says Russia’s foreign ministry. A formal announcement is expected from the Syrian foreign minister on Saturday. [Reuters]
A federal division that would maintain Syria’s unity as a single state while giving general autonomy to regional authorities is being discussed as a possible way forward by those involved in the UN-brokered peace talks, including some major Western powers, according to an anonymous UN Security Council diplomat. [Reuters’ Louis Charbonneau]
A resolution declaring that Islamic State is committing “genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities” is set to be brought to the floor by Republicans on Monday. The resolution has more than 200 co-sponsors, from both parties, and is expected to pass. If it does, it will put further pressure on the Obama administration to make a similar declaration. [Politico’s Nahal Toosi]
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has ordered further nuclear tests, according to state media. The country now has the ability to launch a ballistic missile to the US, warned US military commander William E Gortney during a Congressional hearing yesterday. [New York Times’ Choe Sang-Hun;Reuters’ Jack Kim]  The UN is “gravely concerned” by what it referred to as North Korea’s “destabilizing acts.”
The US has deployed three B-2 stealth bombers to Asia and the Pacific, to “integrate and conduct training with ally and partner air forces,” amid heightened tensions with North Korea, as well as China. [CNN’s Brad Lendon]
North Korea, Inc. is a “cadre of elite state-owned trading companies that keep the flow of cash and supplies steady” to and from North Korea. Jim Walsh and John Park have been investigating and explain the “pathways, partners and practices” North Korea uses to obtain materials for its prohibited nuclear weapons programs. [New York Times]
“How worried should we be?” Anna Fifield looks for any genuine threat behind North Korea’s “saber-rattling,” concluding that “there’s no proof that North Korea has been able to do the things it’s been claiming,” though in the midst of soaring tensions, there is “a risk of miscalculation.” North Korea could also attack through less conventional means, such as cyber-hacking, she suggests. [Washington Post]
North Korean cyber attacks on the South have doubled in the past month, according to South Korea’s spy agency, including previously reported attempts to hack into the smart phones of 300 foreign affairs, security and military officials. [AP]
Iran’s missile launches are not prohibited by the nuclear agreement, reports Rick Gladstone, and whether or not they are a violation of UN resolution 2231 – which put the nuclear agreement into effect – is a matter of interpretation: it requires Iran to refrain from ballistic missile activity “designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” Iran insists that the wording does not prohibit launchings per se and that since it has no nuclear weapons, it can’t have violated the resolution. [New York Times] Nevertheless, after Wednesday’s launch, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-mooncalled on the Iranian government “not to increase tensions through any hasty actions.” He added that it was for the UN Security Council to decide whether the resolution has been breached.
In Afghanistan, the Islamic State has been contained to a single district and the Taliban is beginning to fracture into separate groups, the deputy chief of staff for communication for NATO’s Resolute Support Mission said yesterday.
A UK counterterrorism database contains the fingerprints and DNA profiles of almost 8,000 individuals, the biometrics commissioner, Alastair Macgregor QC has revealed in his latest report. [The Guardian‘s Alan Travis]
Two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino are being held captive by Islamic extremists in the Philippines. The terrorists have threatened to kill the captives within a month if their demands for a ransom are not met. [New York Times’ Floyd Whaley]
Some of the Guantánamo prison infrastructure is “deteriorating rapidly,” the commander of Southern Command, Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd told Congress yesterday. He did not seek additional funding however. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]
A senior al-Shabaab commander has appeared in public to refute claims that he was killed in US airstrikes on a training camp in Somalia last week, in which it is claimed over 150 of the group’s fighters were killed. [Al Jazeera]
Falling oil and gas prices are set to deplete Russian defense procurement by about 10% this year, according to Sergei Chemezov, chief executive of the Russian state industrial holding, Rostec. [Wall Street Journal’s Paul Sonne]
Final plans to integrate women into all military positions have been approved by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, meaning that US forces can now go ahead with plans to open all positions immediately. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]
US special forces are training Senegalese troops to combat terrorist groups in the West African nation, part of the war games that US Special Operations Command and its Western and regional partners conduct annually. [Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov]
South Sudan government forces have intentionally suffocated over 60 men and boys in a shipping container, according to Amnesty International, dumping the bodies in a field in Leer Town, Unity State. A separate UN report has accused government troops of murdering and raping civilians. The government denies targeting civilians, and says it is investigating. [BBC]
Special measures aimed at creating a more effective response to sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel were presented by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council yesterday. [UN News Centre]
Those campaigning to be the next US president have failed to set out how they would deal with critical international issues such as the US’ continuing role in Syria, the refugee crisis in Europe and tensions between China and its neighbors – apart from Hillary Clinton, says the New York Times editorial board.
Read on Just Security »
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Why Black Lives Matter activists are siding with Apple in its fight with the FBI - Washington Post

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Washington Post

Why Black Lives Matter activists are siding with Apple in its fight with the FBI
Washington Post
Current FBI Director James BComey even keeps a copy of the letter approving the King wiretap on his desk — and requires all new agents and analysts to study how the FBI treated the civil rights leader. "The reason I do those things is to ensure that ...

UCSC Students Arrested for Drug Trafficking Charges | City on a Hill ... 

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Six UC Santa Cruz students were arrested on March 4 for drug trafficking charges, including conspiracy and possession of a controlled substance for sale, according to a press release from the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD). ... Heer Purewal, president of UCSC's Inter-Greek Council, said she is disappointed with major media outlets' emphasis on the students' fraternity and sorority membership, which imply a link between drugs and Greek letter organizations.

A huge leaked list of Islamic State fighters sounds too good to be true. Is it? 

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A huge list of Islamic State fighters, leaked from inside the organization's own internal security division, represents a treasure trove of detailed information.

U.S. Attorney General defends FBI case against Apple on Stephen Colbert's show - TechCrunch

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U.S. Attorney General defends FBI case against Apple on Stephen Colbert's show
As the iPhone unlocking case becomes more heated, United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch went on late night television to defend the Federal Bureau of Investigation's stance. During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this ...
US top cop takes FBI's iPhone case to Stephen Colbert's audienceCNET
Loretta Lynch Defends FBI In Apple Encryption Case To Stephen Colbert [VIDEO]International Business Times
Lynch: FBI doesn't want to turn on iPhone camerasThe Hill
Inverse -I4U News
all 24 news articles »

Apple irony: Can you trust the FBI if conspiracy claims Hoover ordered the assassination of Kennedy? - BGR

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Apple irony: Can you trust the FBI if conspiracy claims Hoover ordered the assassination of Kennedy?
The Department of Justice on Thursday sent a strongly worded message to Apple over the iPhone encryption battle with the FBI. The DOJ said the burden to unlock the iPhone 5c is not unreasonable, and is a “direct result of Apple's deliberate marketing ...
The tone between Apple and the FBI is now openly hostileThe Verge
FBI should butt out of Apple's biz: Ex-CIA chiefCNBC
Justice Department: Apple obligated to assist FBIUSA TODAY
Newsweek -Yahoo Finance -The Guardian -Washington Post
all 1,437 news articles »
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When FBI employees behave badly, the bureau lets their co-workers know - Washington Post

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Washington Post

When FBI employees behave badly, the bureau lets their co-workers know
Washington Post
In a recent two-year stretch, 126 FBI agents or employees were disciplined for offenses ranging from drinking and driving to sexual misconduct to misusing their government charge cards. Then their escapades — which represented just a fraction of the ...

Obama Pushes Back at Critics of His Foreign Policy, Diplomacy Moves

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In a series of interviews with The Atlantic magazine released this week, US President Barack Obama says his reluctance to use military power shouldn’t be seen as weakness.

'Shadow CIA' Using 'Boogeyman Scare Tactics' to Make Money - Sputnik International

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Sputnik International

'Shadow CIA' Using 'Boogeyman Scare Tactics' to Make Money
Sputnik International
Stratfor's founder George Friedman has recently claimed that the world should get ready for a major 21st century war that will most likely break out in Eastern Europe, the Middle East or Asia. But experts have taken these predictions with a pinch of ...

FBI wants to change iPhone's iOS: Fmr CIA chief - CNBC

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FBI wants to change iPhone's iOS: Fmr CIA chief
The FBI's attempts to force Apple to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists is not just about accessing information about the attack, but changing the architecture of the device's mobile operating system, former CIA director ...
Edward Snowden is calling "horse shit" on the FBI's claim that only Apple can unlock that gunman's iPhoneDigital Spy
Apple VP: The FBI wants to roll back safeguards that keep us a step ahead of criminalsWashington Post
The Apple-FBI Debate Over EncryptionNPR

all 1,418 news articles »

North Korea Lacks Skills to Miniaturize Nukes for Warheads - Ex-CIA ... 

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Former CIA analyst and whistleblower John Kiriakou claims that North Korea still lacks the capability to miniaturize any of its nuclear weapons and mount them on intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Putin aide who died mysteriously in Washington suffered blow to head 

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Russia complains of being kept in the dark after medical examiner finds Mikhail Lesin's death in a Washington hotel was due to blunt force injuries to his head

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How Russia Saw the 'Red Line' Crisis - The Atlantic

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The Atlantic

How Russia Saw the 'Red Line' Crisis
The Atlantic
That is, Russia sees itself as a power on par with America, and simply doesn't group itself with a minor regional power like Syria. Even if Bashar al-Assad had been punished militarily for using chemical weapons, Putin wouldn't have drawn the ...

Pro-Democracy Nonprofit Is Banned in Russia

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The prosecutor general’s office outlawed the National Democratic Institute, saying it posed “a threat to the foundations of Russia’s constitutional order and national security.”

Today's Headlines and Commentary 

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A recently defected Islamic State fighter has leaked thousands of documents that detail the bureaucracy and membership of the terror organizationAccording to NBC News, one of several media outlets that obtained the leaked documents, the group's recruitment forms include information pertaining to names, nicknames, birth dates, blood type, special skills, and even previous fighting experienceSky News also adds that “nationals from at least 51 countries, including the UK, had to give up their most personal information as they joined the terror organization.”
Speaking of Islamic State leaks, a top chemical weapons specialist for the Islamic State in American custody provided information to military interrogators that resulted in two Allied airstrikes last week. The airstrikes targeted the terrorist group’s illicit weapons sites, including a weapons production facility and a tactical unit near Mosul, the Daily Beast writes. The New York Times reports that the captured detainee, an Iraqi identified as Sleiman Daoud al Afari, was detained a month ago by commandos with an elite American Special Operations force. The Times adds, “under interrogation, Mr. Afari told his captors how the group had weaponized sulfur mustard and loaded it into artillery shells.”
Earlier this week, U.S. officials believed that Abu Omar al Shishani, the Islamic State’s “Secretary of Defense,” was likely killed in an airstrike. However, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said today that the military commander was badly wounded but still alive. Reuters tells us that the newswire has no way to independently verify the report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. U.S. intelligence officials are still reviewing whether the strike killed al Shishani. 
Syrian opposition representatives said that there have been fewer breaches by the Assad government and its allies of a truce agreement in the last few days. The opposition’s comments arrive just days before the peace talks are set to continue in Geneva next week. Reutersreports that U.N. Envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, plans to launch “substantive peace talks on Monday, focusing on issues of Syria’s future governance, elections within 18 months, and a new constitution.” The opposition’s High Negotiations Committee has not confirmed its attendance in Geneva yet, but will make a decision is expected to make a decision soon.
Fears continue to rise surrounding a potential collapse of the Mosul dam and subsequent “catastrophic consequences” that would follow should the dam fail. CBS News writes that Iraq’s largest dam stole headlines recently “amid fears it could collapse due to neglect and lack of needed maintenance because of the ongoing fight between Iraqi forces and the Islamic State.” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, tweeted yesterday about the “chilling meeting” on the dam which could leave Mosul under 15 meters of water in only hours.
More today on yesterday's breaking news regarding U.S. special forces operations in Somalia: theWashington Post reports that U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted a joint helicopter raid with Somali forces against al Shabaab. According to Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, “the U.S. role in the raid was strictly in an advisory capacity and the U.S. forces did not accompany the Somali troops to the objective.” The mission is yet to be made public. Agence France-Presse writesthat the raid comes just days after U.S. airstrikes targeted and killed over 150 al Shabaab militants in Somalia.
President Obama’s nominee to head U.S. Central Command stated yesterday that he would recommend extending the U.S. mission in Afghanistan if local forces continue to face difficulties against the Taliban and other militants. During his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, Army General Joseph Votel said that “the military may not be able to provide needed support to Afghan forces under a White House plan to halve the U.S. military footprint of 9,800 troops” by the time President Obama’s term ends next January.
Law enforcement forces in Pakistan claimed to have arrested 14 Taliban fighters during a raid in Quetta’s Pashtoonabad area. Pashtoonabad is located in the eastern part of Quetta and houses a large number of Afghan refugees. The arrest, if confirmed, could be a nod by Islamabad in support of peace talks with the Taliban, as Pakistan tries to force the Taliban to come to the table. Dawn reportsthat no further information was shared to the public.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted a second successive day of missile tests today. The IRGC said that the two rockets fired hit targets over 850 miles away and were capable of striking Israel. The New York Times shares that it is not clear whether the latest activity by the Islamic Republic violates any provisions of the nuclear accord implemented earlier this year.
Speaking of the nuclear accord, yesterday, the “United States urged the U.N. atomic agency to continue to provide details on Iran’s compliance with a deal crimping its nuclear work amid Western concerns that the agency’s newest report is too light on specifics.” Read more from the Associated Press here.
Earlier this week, North Korea claimed to have developed a nuclear device capable of being placed on a ballistic missile. Even though the pictures of the device are “funny-looking,” the Washington Post notes that the claim is still very concerning. Take a look yourself.
In other North Korea news, the Hermit Kingdom popped two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea today in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. In addition to the missile launches, Reuters reports that North Korea also announced that it has ended all agreements with South Korea on commercial exchange assets and that it would “liquidate” the South’s assets left behind on its territory. 
In the United States, a U.S. Air Force veteran was found guilty of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State. The Washington Post reports that authorities are hailing the conviction as a “first-of-its-kind.” The New York Times shares that the veteran, Tairod Pugh, “is among dozens of people arrested by the authorities over the past two years on charges that they tried to travel to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State or had plotted attacks on behalf of the organization in America.”
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced yesterday that a bill to provide law enforcement access to encrypted data could come as early as next week.The Hill reports that the long awaited bill "is expected to force companies to comply with court orders seeking locked communications." The Hill has more.
While Congress attempts to craft a bill that could force companies to comply with the government's requests for lawful access, the Wall Street Journal tells us that a new poll indicates that Americans are almost equally divided in their stance on the FBI vs Apple debate. The Journal writes “nearly half of those polled, 47% said they feared the government won’t go far enough, while 44% feared the government would go too far.”
USA Today reports that over the last decade, the U.S. military has deployed drones to spy over U.S. territory for non-military missions. However, the flights have been rare, and more importantly, lawful. According to a report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, “spy drones on non-military missions have occurred fewer than 20 times between 2006 and 2015 and always in compliance with existing laws.”
In the latest Guantanamo Bay news, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that the Obama administration will not try to transfer prisoners from GTMO to the United States without a change in the law banning such transfers. The Hill shares that “the comments are perhaps the most explicit acknowledgement that the president’s goal of closing the detention facility will not be met while he is in office, given the overwhelming opposition in Congress.
Parting ShotPresident Barack Obama sat down with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg to talk about the his hardest decisions about America’s role in the world. Read the Atlantic’s “The Obama Doctrine,”here. It’s a long but worthwhile read, but for those strapped on time, here are the highlights on how President Obama thinks about foreign policy. The Atlantic’s James Bennet also reflects on the interview, saying that it “presents a far more illuminating view of what it takes for an American president to influence, let alone command, the course of world affairs.”
ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare
James Kraska and Raul Pedrozo argued that the U.S.-China arrangement for air-to-air encounters weakens international law.
Laura Dean shared the latest edition of Syria Displaced, Dispatch #9: Idomeni, “Warehouse of Souls.”
Ben linked us to Lisa Monaco’s address at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Robert Chesney described an increasingly prominent U.S. strategy to lower political, legal, and diplomatic tensions when deploying force abroad: acting “by, with, and through” partner forces on the ground. 
Robert also provided us an update on U.S. detention operations in Erbil.
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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· · · · · ·

Zika outbreak: ‘The more we learn, the worse things seem to get’

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The top U.S. health officials leading the response to the mosquito-borne Zika virus sweeping through the hemisphere said its growing links to a broad array of birth defects and neurological disorders are worse than they originally suspected, increasing the risk for devastating harm during pregnancy.
Until Zika, "there has never been a mosquito-borne virus that could cause serious birth defects on such a large scale," Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday during a conference call with reporters.
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Frieden and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, used Thursday's briefing to plead for urgently needed funds from Congress to battle Zika. They described the growing risk to pregnant women, the almost-certain link to  Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological condition that can cause paralysis, and the lack of effective agents to fight mosquitoes that have developed resistance to commonly used insecticides.
It's also clear from their frank warnings that officials are trying to lower expectations that they will be able to protect all pregnant women in the United States.
"There is nothing about Zika control that is quick or easy," Frieden said. "The only thing quick is the mosquito bite that can give it to you."
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Puerto Rico becoming a breeding ground for the Zika virus in the U.S.

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Cases of the virus are expected to rise on the island in coming months. And that raises the likelihood of transfer to the mainland.
Cases of the virus are expected to rise on the island in coming months. And that raises the likelihood of transfer to the mainland.
 Feb. 22, 2016 A statue stands guard atop a tomb stone at the Villa Palmeras cemetery in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cemetery is one of the oldest in the city. Flower urns at many graves are breeding grounds for the disease-carrying mosquitoes. Allison Shelley/For The Washington Post
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Puerto Rico is a Zika target that has Frieden "very concerned." The CDC director, who just returned from a trip to the island, said he expects hundreds of thousands of people there will be infected by year's end, including thousands of pregnant women. The U.S. territory is on the "front lines of the battle," he said. At some point, Zika cases there will increase "not steadily but dramatically," he said.
Moreover, the latest research findings underscore the rising number of unanswered and very disturbing questions, Fauci said.
"As the weeks and months go by, we learn more and more about how much we don't know, and the more we learn the worse things seem to get," Fauci told reporters.
The two experts cited a study last week in the New England Journal of Medicine that examined the pregnancies of a group of Brazilian women who tested positive for Zika infection. Ultrasounds for about 29 percent of them showed fetal anomalies with "grave outcomes," which likely means many more complications that won't show up until after birth, Fauci said.
"That's an alarming finding and shows the negative impact on the fetus even if the mother is infected later on in pregnancy," he acknowledged.
There is increasingly strong evidence linking the virus to microcephaly, in which children are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains. The rare condition has surfaced in hundreds of babies in Brazil, the epicenter of a Zika outbreak that has spread to three dozen countries and territories, primarily in the Americas.
U.S. efforts are underway to develop a vaccine, come up with new technologies to control mosquitoes and monitor and protect pregnant women and their babies. But those efforts cannot be sustained over the long term without the $1.9 billion in emergency funding sought by the Obama administration, they said. Congress has balked at approving the request.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Zika virus and its spread across North and South America. (Daron Taylor,Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)
With the approach of the rainy season in Puerto Rico and warmer temperatures in the rest of the United States, Frieden and Fauci said it is critical that the emergency funding be approved. For now, the CDC and NIH have been moving resources from existing programs. The CDC has about 750 of its staff working full-time on Zika. That includes its Dengue Branch in Puerto Rico, which has completely shifted from dengue, a related virus that is the leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. The agency's Fort Collins, Colo., office also has stopped working on some new tick-borne viruses to focus on Zika, Frieden said.
"We are scraping together every dime we can to respond to this," Frieden said. "It is definitely interfering with our ability to mount a robust response … and affecting our ability to protect Americans from other health threats."
At the NIH, the researchers trying to accelerate a Zika vaccine are part of a team that is also developing vaccines for flu, the AIDS virus, and respiratory syncytial virus, the most common germ causing infections in infants and young children.
"There may be a point where we have to slow down at least one or maybe all three of those until we can get money," Fauci said. "It's a give and take. ... You have to slow down or stop. We try very hard not to stop things."
The cost of caring for one child with birth defects can be $10 million or more, Frieden said. Frieden said there is a misperception that Puerto Ricans are not that concerned about the virus because the island has had outbreaks from dengue and chikungunya, related viruses carried by the same mosquito species.
"That is not the case," he said. "Every pregnant woman we met with had a high degree of awareness and concern," he said. He remembered one in particular, who was fearful of what would happen to her baby. "She said, 'I will be worried for my whole life, and even after I die, who is going to take care of the baby,'" he recalled.
Health authorities in Puerto Rico are working with the CDC to identify pregnant women most at risk--those living in parts of the island where there is active transmission--and provide window screens for their homes.
But an initial test installing screens in some apartments highlighted the difficulties going forward. Some homes have open eaves, so screens would have little or no impact. Other residents were reluctant to have window screens because they feared the screens would restrict air flow and raise indoor temperatures.
Puerto Rico has about 160 confirmed Zika infections. Another 193 cases have been confirmed in the mainland from people getting bitten in Zika-affected areas; they include six where travelers passed the virus to partners through sex.
On Capitol Hill, Republican appropriators have so far refused to approve emergency funding for Zika. In a Feb. 18 letter, they pointed to roughly $2.7 billion in unspent Ebola response funds that could be redirected to Zika efforts.
“If the aim of the request is to mount as rapid a response as possible, it is clear to us that the most expeditious way to identify the needed funding is to maximize the use of unobligated funds previously provided for Ebola response, prevention, and preparedness," the top House lawmakers wrote.
If additional funds are needed, they said, they could be considered as part of the fiscal 2017 spending process, which would make additional funds available no sooner than Oct. 1.
U.S. researchers say they have discovered how the Zika virus can cause microcephaly, a rare birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brain problems. (Florida State University)
Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.
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Lena H. Sun is a national reporter for The Washington Post, focusing on health.
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Iran Missile Launches Prompt Sanctions Push in US Congress - Voice of America

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Voice of America

Iran Missile Launches Prompt Sanctions Push in US Congress
Voice of America
March 10, 2016 2:41 PM. CAPITOL HILL—. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told VOA that Iran's missile launches are sparking stronger resolve in Congress to renew and boost U.S. sanctions on Tehran. “There are three categories ...
Weighing Punishing Iran Over Missile Tests, Obama Administration Fears Undermining Nuclear DealDaily Signal
America Risks Another Flawed Deal with IranThe National Interest Online
Following missile launch, Ban calls on Iran not to increase tensions through 'hasty actions'UN News Centre
LancasterOnline -The News International
all 78 news articles »

US to blame Iran for cyber attack on small NY dam -CNN - Reuters Africa

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US to blame Iran for cyber attack on small NY dam -CNN
Reuters Africa
WASHINGTON, March 10 (Reuters) - The Obama administration is planning to publicly blame Iranian hackers for a 2013 cyber attack against a small dam in New York state, CNN reported on Thursday. Citing unnamed U.S. officials familiar with the ...

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Page 5

DOJ expected to charge 5 Iranians in 2013 hacking of New York dam - Fox News

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Fox News

DOJ expected to charge 5 Iranians in 2013 hacking of New York dam
Fox News
The Department of Justice is expected to announce charges against up to five Iranians believed to be tied to the 2013 hacking of a New York dam, a law enforcement source told Fox News. The DOJ is expected to make the announcement sometime in the ... 
US to Blame Iran for Cyber Attack on Small NY Dam: SourcesNew York Times
US To Indict Iranian Hackers Allegedly Behind Cyberattack On New York Dam International Business Times
CNN: Obama to Confirm Iranian Cyberattack at Suburban NYC DamNewsmax
New York Post-The Hill-The Fiscal Times
all 28 
news articles »

In Germany, a rising voice on the right 

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Elections Sunday could be a referendum on Angela Merkel’s open-door policy for asylum seekers.

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· · ·

Small plane crashes in New York – video 

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A small aeroplane plummets to earth after its engine cut out mid-flight on 5 March over Hauppauge, New York. The aircraft and its passengers were saved only by the emergency parachute, quickly deployed by the pilot as the plane fell to the ground, which caused the plane to bounce safely on land. The passengers in the plane left the accident with only minor cuts
Continue reading...

Islamic State leaks reveals banned cleric Omar Bakri recruited British jihadists 

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Omar Bakri Mohammad, exiled from the UK since 2005, has been named as a sponsor by British jihadists attempting to join Isil

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Islamic State files leak: The 'good British Christian' who turned to jihad 

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The full story of Fasil Towalde's short life can be told for the first time after his Isil recruitment forms and those of thousands of other fighters were leaked

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Islamic State files leak: Who is banned cleric Omar Bakri who recruited British jihadists? 

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Tolerated by the British authorities until July 7 attacks, the "Tottenham Ayatollah" and his message has grown increasingly sinister. Now he is linked to recruiting for Isil

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Captured IS Operative Provided US With Chemical Weapons Information 

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U.S. defense officials say a key Islamic State operative captured by American forces last month has been transferred to Iraqi custody, after providing the U.S.-led coalition with valuable information about the militant group's chemical weapons capabilities. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook referred to Sleiman Daoud Al-Bakkar, aka Abu Daoud, as Islamic State's "emir of chemical and traditional weapons manufacturing." Cook said the suspect revealed details on IS chemical...

Recovered Isis documents may not damage group: security expert explains – video 

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Raffaello Pantucco, the director of the International Security Studies programme at the Roy United Services Institute (RUSI) discusses the significance of the leaked ISIS documents recovered by German intelligence. Agencies have been clear that some of the information is out of date and other analysts have questioned the authenticity of the material
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Family 'Massacred' in Backyard Shooting Near Pittsburgh, Mother Says - ABC News

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New York Post

Family 'Massacred' in Backyard Shooting Near Pittsburgh, Mother Says
ABC News
A grieving Pennsylvania mother is speaking out about the murders of her three children and two nieces who were killed this week. "I don't know why they were targeted because they were fun-loving and amongst each other," Jessica Shelton said today of ...
Gunmen, 1 with rifle, worked as team to kill 6 at Pa. cookoutCBS News
Gunmen worked as team in Pennsylvania ambush that killed 6SFGate
Gunmen, 1 with rifle, worked as team to kill 6 at cookoutWTOP
New York Daily News -Sacramento Bee -WPXI Pittsburgh
all 101 news articles »

Justice Department: Locked iPhone May Have Evidence of San Bernardino Attack - NBC4 Washington

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NBC4 Washington

Justice Department: Locked iPhone May Have Evidence of San Bernardino Attack
NBC4 Washington
FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on 'The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans' Security and Privacy.' On Thursday, the Justice Department said ...

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Brazil prosecutors seek Lula's arrest for money laundering

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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - State prosecutors in Brazil are seeking the arrest of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on charges of money laundering and identity fraud for concealing ownership of a beachfront apartment, local media reported on Thursday.

Former Putin Aide, Found in Washington, Died From Blows to Head 

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The medical examiner’s report, which found that Mikhail Y. Lesin had died of blunt force injuries, conflicted with Russian news reports that Mr. Lesin had died of a heart attack.
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Page 7

Netanyahu's Office Ties Canceled Obama Meeting to Unresolved U.S.-Israel Aid

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Thursday that he canceled a trip to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington later this month partly because of unresolved questions over an increase in U.S. military aid to Israel, offering a different explanation than the one given earlier this week.

Brazil prosecutors 'seek Lula arrest'

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Brazilian prosecutors are reported to be calling for the arrest of ex-President Lula da Silva over a corruption investigation.

Ex-Putin Aide Died in D.C. Hotel After Blunt Force Injuries - Daily Beast

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Daily Beast

Ex-Putin Aide Died in D.C. Hotel After Blunt Force Injuries
Daily Beast
One of the founders of Kremlin-backed RT, Mikhail Lesin's cause of death had been a mystery for months, but evidence of foul play has mounted. An ex-aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin did not die of a heart attack in a Washington, D.C. hotel room ...
Former Russian press minister died in US of blunt force injuriesReuters
Former Putin Aide, Found in Washington, Died From Blows to HeadNew York Times
Ex-aide to Putin died of blunt force trauma at DC hotel, medical examiner saysWashington Post
Huffington Post -ABC News -USA TODAY
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California lawmakers vote to raise smoking, vaping age to 21 - Washington Post

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Washington Post

California lawmakers vote to raise smoking, vaping age to 21
Washington Post
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers voted Thursday to raise the legal age for purchasing and using tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21, putting the nation's most populous state on the brink of becoming only the second after Hawaii to bar ...
California lawmakers approve raising smoking age to 21WLNE-TV (ABC6)
California votes to raise smoking age to 21: Has it worked in other places?Christian Science Monitor 
California lawmakers approve raising smoking ageCBS News

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Key powers mulling possibility of federal division of Syria

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Major powers close to U.N.-brokered peace talks on Syria are discussing the possibility of a federal division of the war-torn country that would maintain its unity as a single state while granting broad autonomy to regional authorities, diplomats said.

Electricity cut off for Puerto Rico hospital that owes $4M

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Puerto Rico’s power company has cut off electricity to a hospital over nearly $4 million in unpaid bills, part of a stepped-up effort by the heavily indebted agency to collect money amid the island’s economic crisis.

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Page 8

Former Russian press minister died in U.S. of blunt force injuries

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Russian Press Minister Mikhail Lesin, who was found dead in a Washington hotel room last year, died of blunt force injuries to the head, authorities said on Thursday.


Former Putin Aide Died of Blunt Force in Washington

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A former top adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin died of “blunt force injuries of the head” in a Washington D.C. hotel four months ago, according to the office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Ex-aide to Putin died of blunt force trauma at D.C. hotel, medical examiner says 

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Police are still investigating the circumstances of Mikhail Lesin’s death in November.

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· · ·

CDC Chief: Puerto Rico Facing 'Hundreds of Thousands' of Zika Cases 

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The top U.S. disease prevention official said Thursday that there could be "hundreds of thousands" of Zika cases in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in the coming months if precautions are not taken. Dr. Tom Frieden, chief of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters he was making Puerto Rico his top priority in the fight against the virus. "Nothing about Zika is going to be quick, and nothing about Zika is going to be easy," Frieden said....

FBI infiltrated Russian spy ring with hidden recorders, prosecutors say - The Guardian

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The Guardian

FBI infiltrated Russian spy ring with hidden recorders, prosecutors say
The Guardian
The FBI eavesdropped on meetings involving Russian intelligence personnel in New York City, including a suspected spy posing as a trade representative, by hiding recorders in binders containing supposedly confidential information about the energy ...
FBI penetrated New York-based Russian spy ring using hidden recordersAOL News
Voice recorders in binders and secret meetings with undercover agents: How FBI penetrated Cold War-style Russian ...Daily Mail
FBI penetrated New York-based Russian spy ring using hidden ...Reuters

all 19 news articles »

Savage echoes Enquirer: Scalia killed by CIA prostitute - TRUNEWS

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Savage echoes Enquirer: Scalia killed by CIA prostitute
(TRUNEWS) Michael Savage, the talk radio host of The Savage Nation said Monday that there may be validity behind The National Enquirer's story “Supreme Court Justice Scalia — Murdered By A Hooker”. On March 7th Savage said on his popular Premier ...

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