Thursday, April 21, 2016

Britain and Russia find something they can agree on: Shakespeare's death - The Guardian

Britain and Russia find something they can agree on: Shakespeare's death - The Guardian

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The Guardian

Britain and Russia find something they can agree on: Shakespeare's death
The Guardian
Britain and Russia may have trouble agreeing on Ukraine, Syria or pretty much any other issue on the international agenda, but a man who died 400 years ago can perhaps help bring the two nations a little closer together amid the mutual distrust.

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Permanent US armored force in Europe would better deter Russia: US general - Reuters

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Permanent US armored force in Europe would better deter Russia: US general
Reuters
General Curtis Scaparrotti, President Barack Obama's choice to lead U.S. European Command and become the next NATO supreme allied commander, said he agreed with other military leaders that Russia posed the greatest threat to the United States and ...

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Key Paris Attacks Suspect Charged With Attempted Murder in Brussels Shootout 

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Paris terrorist attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam was charged with attempted murder by Belgian authorities Thursday. A key suspect in the November 13 Paris attacks who last month allegedly engaged in a shootout with police in Brussels, Abdeslam appeared before a Belgian judge Thursday to hear the new charge. Four police officers were injured, an Algerian suspect and an Islamist gunman were killed on March 15 in the shootout at a suspected militant safe house in the Brussels district of Forest. Investigators found fingerprints of Abdeslam at the scene and he was arrested three days later. The 26-year-old born in Belgium to Moroccan parents is currently awaiting extradition to France as a key suspect in last November's attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Belgian police have also questioned him about potential links to the suicide bombers who attacked the Brussels Airport and metro station on March 22, killing 32 people. Abdeslam has told investigators that he arranged logistics for the Paris attacks and had planned to blow himself up at a sports stadium in the city on November 13, but changed his mind at the last minute. Without giving further details, Abdeslam's lawyer has confirmed that his client had admitted being in Paris during the attacks.

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Israel Urges Russia To Tighten Coordination Ties in Syria - DefenseNews.com

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DefenseNews.com

Israel Urges Russia To Tighten Coordination Ties in Syria
DefenseNews.com
JERUSALEM — Israel's prime minister urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to further strengthen preventive safety measures between their respective military forces operating in Syria. “I have come here with the sole concrete objective of ...
Israeli PM to discuss with Russia's Putin closer military coordinationReuters

all 119 news articles »

April 21, 2016

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

Incoming NATO Commander Calls For Permanent Combat Brigade in Europe 

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The incoming head of U.S. military forces in Europe said he supports a permanent brigade-sized presence of U.S. combat troops in Eastern Europe to deter Russia’s expanded and assertive actions.

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AP Exclusive: US Navy accuses Gulf commander of misconduct 

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- A U.S. Navy officer relieved of commanding a Persian Gulf patrol ship allegedly failed to maintain equipment to the point of exposing "his crew to unnecessary risk," interfered with an inquiry into his actions and once slept drunk on a bench at a Dubai port, according to a naval investigation....

Turkish Military Conspiracy Case Collapses

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Turkey’s top appeals court has overturned the convictions of senior military officers who had been charged with planning to overthrow the government.  The convictions two years ago were hailed as an example of civilian rulers ending the military’s influence in Turkish politics. Turkey’s top appeals court, the Yargitay, ruled that convictions in a conspiracy to overthrow the government were unfounded. The ruling ended nine years of investigations and court cases that led to the...

Kurds and Syrian Forces Clash, Adding Wrinkle to War

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Kurdish militias and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces tend to avoid clashes, but skirmished Thursday in the de facto Kurdish autonomous region.

The Latest: IS fighters evacuated from Damascus area

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BEIRUT (AP) - The Latest on developments in the Syrian conflict and talks (all times Beirut local):
8:30 p.m.
A Hezbollah media outlet in Lebanon says 290 Islamic State militants with 150 of their family members have been evacuated by a U.N. convoy from a Damascus-area town to Raqqa, the ...

U.S. offensive against ISIS costing $12M a day: Pentagon

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Washington is spending $6.8 billion, or nearly $12 million a day, to finance U.S.-led operations to drive the Islamic State from its territories in Iraq and Syria, according to the Pentagon.
As of April, American and allied fighters and bombers have carried out over 11,000 airstrikes against Islamic State, also ...

Russian artillery, Syrian troops shifting back to N. Syria, defense officials say

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Russia and Syrian forces have shifted troops and artillery back toward northern Syria in recent weeks, the latest sign that a fraying cease-fire in the country could collapse completely, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday.
     
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Israeli Interceptor Launched From US System Destroys Target

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The Army has launched a number of different types of missiles from its new Multi-Mission Launcher, developed entirely by the service, but last week marks the first time a partly foreign-built missile was tested with the system.
       

Report: Obama Seeks Meeting With Iranian President

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President Barack Obama has sent two letters to senior Iranian leaders in recent months requesting a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to Persian language reports recently translated by a Middle East research organization.
“President Obama asked to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in two secret letters sent in late March to both Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Rouhani,” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, which translated a Farsi-language report published Tuesday by a website affiliated with Iran’s Green movement.
Obama purportedly wrote in the correspondence “that Iran has a limited-time opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in order to resolve the problems in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and promised that if Iran agreed to a meeting between him and Rouhani, he would be willing to participate in any conference to this end,” according to MEMRI’s translation of the report.
The reports could not be independently verified. A State Department spokesperson referred theWashington Free Beacon to the White House for comment on the report. The White House declined to comment on record.
Iranian leaders are said to be open to Obama’s request.
The Iranian report “further stressed that Supreme Leader Khamenei discussed the request with President Rouhani, that Rouhani said that Iran should accept the request and meet with Obama, and that such a meeting could lead to an end to the crises in the region while increasing Iran’s influence in their resolution,” MEMRI wrote. “Rouhani promised Khamenei that any move would be coordinated with him and reported to him. According to the report, Khamenei agreed with Rouhani.”
Senior U.S. officials have met with top Iranian officials in recent days in a move perceived by some as laying the groundwork for a future powwow between Obama and Rouhani.
Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in New York on Tuesday. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met last week with Valiollah Seif, the governor of Iran’s Central Bank.
Amir Toumaj, an Iran expert and research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, expressed doubt that the Iranian Supreme Leader would concede to such a meeting, as it may empower more moderate elements of the Iranian regime.
“It seems highly unlikely that Khamenei would give his assent. There is a significant political cost for him, and he doesn’t have the appetite,” Toumaj told the Free Beacon. “The [nuclear agreement] is still fresh. There may be just a little over a year left until the 2017 Iranian presidential elections, but there is too much at stake.”
“Khamenei and the radicals have markedly escalated their attacks on Rouhani on the merits and benefits of the JCPOA,” or Joint Compressive Plan of Agreement, he added. “A meeting with President Obama would give Rouhani political capital and reopen the debate on rapprochement.”
An Obama-Rouhani face-to-face could reignite debates in Iran about rapprochement with the United States.
“An Iranian president shaking hands with the ‘Great Satan’ would not be a minor event,” Toumaj said. “Just today, Khamenei delivered remarks on how the U.S. wants to keep Iran ‘backwards’ and is waging a ‘soft war’ to spread Western cultural values among the youth and undermine the revolution from the inside. This regime cannot survive in its current shape without anti-Americanism.”
“It seems highly unlikely that Khamenei would give his assent, though some kind of communications channel to discuss the issue would not be entirely outside the realm of possibility, especially if it would serve Tehran’s interest,” Toumaj said. “There is, however, political cost for Khamenei especially for the direct face-to-face talk included in this report, and he doesn’t have the appetite.”
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The Soviet Police System 

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Title:                      The Soviet Police System
Author:                  Robert Conquest
Conquest, Robert (1968), ed. The Soviet Police System. New York: F. A. Praeger
LCCN:    68026180

Subjects

Date Posted:      April 20, 2016
Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[1]
A carefully documented study of the institutional history and structure of the Soviet police systems which concentrates on operations of its extralegal organs. The administrative framework of the system is traced from its beginnings in 1917 through the downgrading of its power as a political entity during the post-Stalin era. Methods of repression by the police within Soviet society ore discussed, as are Soviet-directed police operations abroad. An extensive bibliography of primary sources in both Russian and English adds to the value of this work.
[1] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 99

 

Chuck Todd: FBI is Bernie's Only Path to Nomination - Newsmax

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Newsmax

Chuck Todd: FBI is Bernie's Only Path to Nomination
Newsmax
After a blistering loss in the New York Democratic primary Tuesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' only hope at securing the party's presidential nomination is an indictment of his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, says "Meet the Press ...

Over 200 pounds of pot seized after agent fired shots

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PHOENIX (AP) - An 18-year-old suspected drug smuggler wasn't injured when a U.S. Border Patrol agent fired two shots at him during an encounter Tuesday in the southern Arizona desert.
The FBI and a Customs and Border Protection internal review board are investigating the incident that took place on Tohono ...

Report: Britain Supported NATO Using 'Creative Accounting' Methods

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A parliamentary report said the British government failed to come clean on exactly what is included in the definitive defense budget both now and in the past.
       
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Push for answers on Saudi Arabia's involvement in Sept. 11

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Saudi Arabia's grass roots of Muslim clerics, mosquegoers and wealthy oilmen funded al Qaeda's $30 million annual budget at the time a Saudi-dominated platoon of terrorists carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America.
Yet the kingdom and its Islamic rulers had nothing to do with the plot, which ...

Federal judge rules FBI didn't have proper warrant to hack child porn site - TechCrunch

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TechCrunch

Federal judge rules FBI didn't have proper warrant to hack child porn site
TechCrunch
A federal judge ruled today that the FBI did not obtain the proper warrant before hacking a child porn website and that the evidence it collected against one of the defendants, Alex Levin, must be suppressed. The case centers on a child porn site ...
In a First, Judge Throws Out Evidence Obtained from FBI MalwareMotherboard 
FBI's Tor pedo torpedoes torpedoed by United States judgeThe Register
US judge rules search warrant in FBI child porn website probe invalidReuters
Engadget-Gizmodo-ZDNet
all 11 news articles »

Cuba's Communists dig in despite Obama's outreach

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Critics of President Obama's diplomatic outreach to Cuba are claiming vindication this week as the island nation's Communist Party hard-liners — cheered on by an 89-year-old Fidel Castro — moved to cement their grip on power after Mr. Castro's brother Raul steps down in two years.
"The administration can downplay ...

Former CIA Spy Talks Mission in the Soviet Union During the Cold War - The Heights

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The Heights

Former CIA Spy Talks Mission in the Soviet Union During the Cold War
The Heights
Plunkert was able to give details about his influential involvement with Adolf Tolkachef, the Soviet agent who for over six years delivered valuable information to the CIA. Tolkachef is featured in David E. Hoffman's 2015 publication, The Billion ...

China is seeking deeper military ties with Afghanistan - Business Insider

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Business Insider

China is seeking deeper military ties with Afghanistan
Business Insider
BEIJING (Reuters) - China wants to have deeper military ties with Afghanistan, including counter-terrorism intelligence cooperation and joint drills, a senior Chinese officer told a visiting Afghan envoy. China is working with Pakistan and the United ...

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Murphy's Law: Expensive Headlines

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April 21, 2016: The daily cost of the war against ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in Syria and Iraq has been $9 million. Sounds like a lot, but historically that is very cheap. In 2011 the U.S. found that the first ten days of the blockade and air support operations in Libya were costing America $50 million a day. After that American combat aircraft were withdrawn along with several U.S. warships and the daily cost was reduced by over 60 percent. This raised question of how this high-tech, low (as in no Americans killed) military operation compared with earlier wars.
Below are the daily costs for earlier American war. Costs shown are in current (2011) dollars. That means historical costs are adjusted for inflation;
American Revolution (1776-83)- $822,000
War of 1812 (1812-15)- $1.46 million.
Mexican War (1846-49)- $2.18 million
Civil War (1861-65)- $55 million (75 percent for the Union forces)
Spanish American War (1898-99)- $22 million.
World War I (1917-21) cost $229 million
World War II (1941-45 )- $2.9 billion (yes, billion)
Korean War (1950-53)- $328 million
Vietnam (1965-75)- $205 million
Persian Gulf War (1990-91)- $567 million
Afghanistan War and Other War-On-Terror Operations (2001-10)- $98 million
Iraq War (2003-10)- $307 million
In 1801-5 and 1815 there were wars with the Barbary pirates, who operated out of Tripoli and other North African port cities. Adjusted for inflation, these two wars cost even less than current American participation in Libya. These two "wars" were not really considered "wars", but rather police actions against the pirates, and the city-states (like Tripoli) that provided operating bases (and sanctuary) for the pirates (in return for a portion of the loot). Most nations preferred to pay tribute to the pirates, to protect their ships. But the U.S., already a major trading nation, calculated that it was cheaper to shut the pirates down, and did so.
Those costs mean a lot more if you take GDP (annual Gross Domestic Product, or income for the entire country) into account, and the ability of the country to pay for a war without causing great economic privation among the taxpayers. Thus the pre-1850s wars only consumed 1-2 percent of annual GDP while they were going on. But when the Civil War came along, the United States was already experiencing the Industrial Revolution. There was a lot more money available, and thus the civil war consumed about 10 percent of GDP for the Union (and more for the Confederacy, which was much less industrialized). The Spanish American War was a small conflict, in terms of GDP (requiring only about one percent).
Going into the 20th century, the U.S. was the mightiest industrial power on the planet, and incredibly wealthy. Despite costing four times as much as the Civil War, World War I consumed the same percentage of GDP. World War II cost more than ten times as much as World War I, but only required three times as much GDP. Korea continued that trend, consuming less than four percent of GDP. Vietnam cost more than twice as much as Korea, but consumed half as much GDP. The Persian Gulf War consumed about a quarter of one percent of GDP. Both the Iraq and Afghan wars together have consumed only about one percent of GDP, less of a financial burden than any of the 19th century wars, except the Civil War.
As a percentage of GDP, military spending continues a decline that has been going on since the 1960s (when, because of the Vietnam War, defense spending was 10.7 percent of GDP). That went down to 5.9 percent of GDP in the 1970s and, despite a much heralded defense buildup in the 1980s, still declined in the 1980s (to 5.8 percent.) With the end of the Cold War, spending dropped sharply again in the 1990s, to 4.1 percent. For the first decade of the 21st century, defense spending is expected to average 3.5 percent of GDP. Most of the current defense budget is being spent on personnel (payroll and benefits), and buying new equipment to replace the Cold War era stuff that is wearing out and to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This trend is all because of the industrial revolution of the 19th century, which created a lot more money, much of which nations promptly squandered on wars they could not have afforded earlier.
U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere have, since September 11, 2001, cost about $1.3 trillion. That seems like a lot, and it is. But it's not a lot like it used to be. For example, World War II cost, at the time (in current dollars) $4.1 trillion dollars. That amounted to over 33 percent of U.S. GDP. The current war on terror is costing about one percent of GDP. So while war may appear to be getting more expensive, relative to the amount of money available, it's actually getting cheaper.
The initial cost of World War II, and most wars that came after it, will eventually double because of the cost of taking care of the veterans. There were over a million casualties in World War II, many of them serious, with long range effects. The long range health problems were not anticipated, nor were the more expensive treatments. You have to pay. The vets are owned a debt that cannot be avoided.
The United States has always been enthusiastic about spending enormous amounts on weapons, ammunition, supplies and equipment for the troops, with the idea of keeping U.S. casualties down while still winning the war. Thus during World War II, U.S. combat deaths were 300,000 (plus 100,000 non-combat dead). The Soviet Union, on the other end of this scale, lost 10.7 million dead in combat (including 4.4 million captured and missing), and nearly 20 million civilians killed as well. Of all the major combatants in World War II, the U.S. had the lowest casualty rate (about 2 percent). Russia lost about 15 percent of its entire population during the war.
The U.S. kept its losses down partly because of the amount of money spent per person in the military (over $250,000). The current casualty rate is a third of what it was during World War II, and the amount spent per person has more than tripled (exact comparison is tricky, as all military expenses were counted during World War II, while the current war is being fought with only a small portion of American military might, and the navy and air force continue to take care of many non-war-on-terror responsibilities.) While the dollar cost of war is good for a hot headline on a slow news day, the fact that the money saved lots of American lives, never seems to make it to the front page.
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Israel, Egypt, Jordan, enter ‘unprecedented’ intelligence-sharing agreement 

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The governments of Israel, Egypt and Jordan have entered an intelligence-sharing agreement aimed at joining forces against the Islamic State, which a senior Israeli military commander has described as “unprecedented”. 

ISIS planning nuclear or chemical attack on Britain: NATO officials

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April 21, 2016, 10:14 AM (IDT)
NATO officials said Wednesday that ISIS wants to attack Britain with nuclear or chemical weapons, according to reports. It came at the end of the two-day Security and Counter Terror Expo 2016, a joint conference in London by NATO and the European Union to discuss the war on terror. A senior NATO official, Dr. Jamie Shea, said that there is concrete intelligence information that terrorist organizations are attempting to obtain radioactive, biological and chemical materials in order to carry out attacks in Europe. "We know that terrorists are trying to acquire these substances," he said.  

FBI's evidence in a Dark Web case ruled inadmissible - The Next Web

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The Next Web

FBI's evidence in a Dark Web case ruled inadmissible
The Next Web
A Massachusetts judge has thrown out evidence obtained using malware created by the FBI in a case involving the agency's seizure of a Dark Web site that distributed images of child sexual abuse, reports Motherboard. According to Christopher Soghoian, ...

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Pentagon starts using B-52s in war against ISIS

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April 21, 2016, 10:36 AM (IDT)
The US air force has started to use its giant B-52 bombers against ISIS targets in Iraq. The plane, which entered service during the Vietnam War, is primarily intended for carpet bombing of targeted areas. A US military spokesman in Baghdad said that a B-52 carried out a precision strike against an ISIS arms depot in Qayyarah, about 60 kilometers south of Mosul, on Monday.  

After Ukraine Cyberattacks, FBI And DHS Urge US Power Companies To Develop Better Safety Protocols - International Business Times

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International Business Times

After Ukraine Cyberattacks, FBI And DHS Urge US Power Companies To Develop Better Safety Protocols
International Business Times
In January, a team of U.S. officials (including investigators from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Energy) traveled to Ukraine to interview workers at the substations affected by the hack. They discovered that about six ...

Judge Rules Evidence From FBI's Pedophile Tor Hack Is Invalid - Gizmodo

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Gizmodo

Judge Rules Evidence From FBI's Pedophile Tor Hack Is Invalid
Gizmodo
The original hack saw the FBI seize servers running a pedophile website called Playpen. But rather than shutting it down, the agents continued to run the servers, using software to identify the real IP and MAC addresses of users, despite the fact they ...
Federal judge rules FBI didn't have proper warrant to hack child porn siteTechCrunch
FBI's Tor pedo torpedoes torpedoed by United States judgeThe Register
In a First, Judge Throws Out Evidence Obtained from FBI MalwareMotherboard
Reuters -Engadget -ZDNet
all 14 news articles »
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Near-clash of Israeli-Russian planes over Syria

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April 21, 2016, 11:35 AM (IDT)
Western and Middle Eastern military sources monitoring the war in Syria, and networks monitoring Russian air force flights in the country, reported  a near clash Wednesday between four Israeli F-15 fighters and two Russian Su-30 jets earlier in the day.   

9/11 Commissioner urging release of report's 28 secret pages

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A former ambassador and congressman who sat on the 9/11 Commission is urging the release of 28 pages that have been kept secret.
Tim Roehmer (ROH'mer) says the public should be allowed access to the material, which reportedly focuses on Saudi Arabia's possible role in the Sept. ...

Top Dem wants J. Edgar Hoover's name erased from FBI building - Hot Air

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Washington Business Journal

Top Dem wants J. Edgar Hoover's name erased from FBI building
Hot Air
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) is the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and he's got something to say about plans for the new FBI Headquarters. He wrote a letter to the General Services Administration Wednesday asking that the new building ...
J. Edgar Hoover's name asked to be kept off of new FBI HQWashington Business Journal

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China's 'Dangerous Love' Campaign, Warning of Spies, Is Met With Shrugs - New York Times

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New York Times

China's 'Dangerous Love' Campaign, Warning of Spies, Is Met With Shrugs
New York Times
On a platform in the Dongdan subway station in Beijing, commuters ignore a poster for China'sfirst National Security Education Day, warning Chinese to beware of foreign spies. Credit Didi Kirsten Tatlow/The New York Times. BEIJING — Clutching a ...

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Assassins operating in Damascus, terrifying senior officials: sources

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April 21, 2016, 3:12 PM (IDT)
Arab sources said Thursday that groups of assassins are operating secretly in Damascus to kill senior figures of the Assad regime and sow fear and panic among others. The groups consist of several cells that operate independently at night. Some of the cells called "oppressor deterrence battalions" are made up of rebels from Assad's army. The underground announced its existence on April 14 in two videos released on social media that reportedly show the dead bodies of two regime figures killed by the assassins. Another group, belonging to the Liwa al-Adiyat rebel organization, was responsible for the killing of the bodyguard of Asma al-Assad, the president's wife.

Terrorist who stabbed Israeli in Kiryat Arba last year captured

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April 21, 2016, 5:17 PM (IDT)
Israeli security forces have captured the terrorist who stabbed and seriously wounded Israeli Meir Pavlovsky near one of the entrances to Kiryat Arba in October 2015. Pavlovsky, a new immigrant from the Ukraine, was rushed to a hospital with life-threatening wounds in his stomach and back but doctors succeeded in stabilizing his condition. Pavlovsky recovered and was released from the hospital a month later.   
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Clinton Explains How Bernie Sanders Can Follow Her 2008 Example and Unite His Followers Behind Her 

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Hillary Clinton explained how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) could follow her example from 2008 and unite his followers behind her during her Good Morning America town hall Thursday.
As the Weekly Standard put it, it appeared Clinton was providing her Democratic primary opponent a “blueprint” for his exit strategy. Clinton drilled Sanders in the New York primary on Tuesday, eliminating much of the remaining drama about who will be the party’s presidential nominee.
Clinton and Sanders, however, have had an increasingly contentious campaign fight, with prominent supporters on both sides using vulgar language in recent weeks. A senior Clinton aide said “fuck him” if Sanders wouldn’t tone down his Clinton criticism, and a Sanders supporter referred to “corporate Democratic whores” in a speech about health care.
However, Clinton told the ABC audience that she felt there was plenty to unite the Democratic Party, recalling in 2008 that she helped Barack Obama win the presidency after their bitter fight for the nomination.
“I believe that once the nominating process has concluded, there is a great reason to come together,” Clinton said. “I know something about this, because as people remember, President Obama and I ran a really tough race for the entire primary season, and he ended up with more delegates, and I withdrew. I endorsed him, and I then got to work. And remember, when I withdrew in June of 2008, polls were showing that at least 40 percent of my supporters said, oh, they weren’t going to support Sen. Obama. So I had to get to work, and I had to make the case.
“I nominated him at the convention. I went from group to group, even as late as the convention, convincing people who were my delegates to come together, to unify, because what then-senator Obama and I had in common was much greater than our differences. And so we were successful, thank goodness, and he was elected. So, I’m hoping the same thing will happen this time.”

State Department Office Removed Benghazi Files After Congressional Subpoena 

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State Department officials removed files from the secretary’s office related to the Benghazi attack in Libya and transferred them to another department after receiving a congressional subpoena last spring, delaying the release of the records to Congress for over a year.
Attorneys for the State Department said the electronic folders, which contain hundreds of documents related to the Benghazi attack and Libya, were belatedly rediscovered at the end of last year.
They said the files had been overlooked by State Department officials because the executive secretary’s office transferred them to another department and flagged them for archiving last April, shortly after receiving a subpoena from the House Select Committee on Benghazi.
The new source of documents includes electronic folders used by senior officials under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They were originally kept in the executive secretary’s office, which handles communication and coordination between the secretary of state’s office and other department bureaus.
The House Benghazi Committee requested documents from the secretary’s office in a subpoena filed in March 2015. Congressional investigators met with the head of the executive secretary’s office staff to discuss its records maintenance system and the scope of the subpoena last April. That same month, State Department officials sent the electronic folders to another bureau for archiving, and they were not searched in response to the request.
The blunder could raise new questions about the State Department’s records process, which has come under scrutiny from members of Congress and government watchdogs. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blasted the State Department’s Freedom of Information Act process as “broken” in January, citing “systematic failures at the agency.”
The inspector general for the State Department also released a report criticizing the agency’s public records process in January. The report highlighted failures in the executive secretary’s office, which responds to records requests for the Office of the Secretary.
Since last fall, the State Department has taken additional steps to increase transparency, recently hiring a transparency coordinator.
But the late discovery of the electronic folders has set back the release of information in a number of public records lawsuits filed against the State Department by watchdog groups.
The State Department first disclosed that staffers had discovered the unsearched folders in a January court filing. Attorneys for the department asked the court for additional time to process and release the documents in response to a 2014 lawsuit filed by the government ethics group Judicial Watch.
Around the same time, the State Department alerted the House Select Committee on Benghazi to the discovery. On April 8, the department turned over 1,100 pages of documents from the electronic folders to the House Benghazi Committee, over a year after the committee’s subpoena. The committee had received other documents from the production in February.
The delay has had consequences. The Benghazi Committee had already completed the majority of its interviews with diplomats and government officials regarding the Benghazi attack before it received the latest tranche of documents.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), chairman of the Benghazi Committee, said in an April 8 statement it was “deplorable that it took over a year for these records to be produced to our committee.”
“This investigation is about a terrorist attack that killed four Americans, and it could have been completed a lot sooner if the administration had not delayed and delayed and delayed at every turn,” Gowdy said.
The decision by State Department officials to transfer the electronic folders to another bureau after receiving the subpoena could also raise questions.
The subpoena requested Benghazi-related documents and communications from 10 of Hillary Clinton’s top aides for the years 2011 and 2012.
The requests included standard language that “Subpoenaed records, documents, data or information should not be destroyed, modified, removed, transferred or otherwise made inaccessible to the Committee.”
The State Department’s attorneys said the executive secretary’s office transferred the folders to the Office of Information Programs and Services for “retiring” in April 2015. Public records officials did not realize for almost eight months that the folders had been moved, and so they were not searched in response to FOIA requests or subpoenas.
“In April 2015—prior to its search in this [Judicial Watch] case—the Secretariat Staff within the Office of the Executive Secretariat (“S/ES-S”) retired the shared office folders and transferred them to the custody of the Bureau of Administration, Office of Information Programs and Services,” the State Department said in a Feb. 5 court filing.
“The IPS employees working on this FOIA request did not initially identify S/ES retired records as a location to search for potentially responsive records because they were operating with the understanding that, to the extent responsive records from the Office of the Secretary existed, they resided within [the executive secretary’s office].”
According to congressional sources, officials on the House Benghazi Committee had a meeting with the executive secretary’s office to discuss the subpoena and the locations of potentially relevant records on April 10, 2015. Electronic folders of senior staff members were discussed during the briefing.
State Department officials at the meeting included the director of the executive secretary’s office staff, who was responsible for handling the office’s records maintenance, the assistant secretary for legislative affairs, and Catherine Duval, the attorney who oversaw the public release of Hillary Clinton’s official emails. The officials gave no indication that electronic folders had recently been transferred out of the office.
The State Department declined to comment on whether the folders were transferred after the meeting took place.
A State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon that personnel did not mislead congressional investigators, and added that no officials at the meeting were involved in transferring the folders.
“The Department personnel who briefed the Select Committee in April 2015 did not play a role in the transfer of these files to State’s Bureau of Administration,” the State Department official said.
The official added that department files are often moved as a routine matter.
“Files that are generated in an office are regularly moved to the Bureau of Administration for storage according to published records retirement schedules,” the official said. “This is a routine action that would not involve a senior supervisor. It also continues to make them available to respond to either Congressional or FOIA requests.”
Duval left the State Department last September. She had previously overseen document production for the IRS during the targeting controversy. Republicans had criticized that process after agency emails were reportedly destroyed and a key IRS official’s hard drive was shredded months after they had been subpoenaed by Congress.
In recent months, the State Department has been working to increase transparency.
“The Department has worked closely with the Select Committee in a spirit of cooperation and responsiveness,” a State Department official said. “Since the Committee was formed, we have provided 48 witnesses for interviews and more than 95,000 pages of documents.”
The efforts drew some praise from the House Benghazi Committee last fall.
“It’s curious the Department is suddenly able to be more productive after recent staff changes involving those responsible for document production,” committee spokesman Jamal Ware said in a Sept. 25, 2015 press release.
Still, it could be months before the public is able to see many of the Benghazi-related documents belatedly discovered by the State Department. The House Benghazi Committee is still completing its investigation and has not released them.
The department’s attorneys have also been granted extensions to produce the documents in response to several public records lawsuits. In one FOIA case, first filed by the watchdog group Citizens United in 2014, a judge has given the State Department until next August to turn over the new materials.
Correction: The original version of this article stated that the House Select Committee on Benghazi had submitted two subpoenas to the State Department. The Committee only submitted one subpoena, on March 4, 2015. The November 2014 request was an official letter from the Committee to Secretary John Kerry.
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GOP to fund more soldiers using Islamic State war money

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One big question surrounding this year’s defense budget has been how Republicans will pay for the additional soldiers, troop pay raise and new hardware they want while staying within the strict limits Congress has imposed on spending. The answer: Only fund the Islamic State war through next April, instead of a full year.
     

EUCOM nominee Scaparrotti favors 3rd permanent brigade in Europe

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U.S. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, tapped to lead U.S. troops in Europe, said Thursday he favors permanently stationing a heavy-armor brigade on the Continent to deal with the threat posed by a resurgent Russia.
     

Don’t rush to judgment on Stars and Stripes funding

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The Defense Department is considering a proposal to stop funding Stars and Stripes. Such a cut would likely kill the newspaper. It must not be made in haste or in secret.
     

Problems mount for Obama in Syria, Iraq 

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The Obama administration confronted setbacks Thursday in its efforts to defeat the Islamic State, with reports that Russia is moving more military equipment into Syria to support President Bashar Assad as a truce collapsed, and President Obama acknowledging that political paralysis in Iraq is impeding U.S.-led efforts to defeat the ...
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An Unknown Terror Network Surfaces in Brussels

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April 21, 2016, 8:02 PM (IDT)
The Zerkani network has become the most infamous Islamic terror network in Belgium.

Quadrilateral War Room for Red Sea Tiran Island

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April 21, 2016, 8:03 PM (IDT)
It was agreed at a secret meeting between Netanyahu and Saudi defense minister.

The FBI’s Warrantless Surveillance Back Door Just Opened a Little Wider 

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On Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a redacted version of an opinion by Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that is chock full of revelations about how the NSA and FBI handle – and mishandle – data collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But the most notable news contained in the Nov. 6, 2015 opinionmay be the FBI’s move to widen the “back door loophole” that allows it to search 702 data for information about Americans – and the FISC’s underwhelming analysis of the Fourth Amendment concerns this raises.
Background
A quick review: Before 2007, if the NSA wanted to collect communications between a foreign target and an American, it had to demonstrate probable cause to the FISC that the target was a foreign power or the agent of one.The Protect America Act of 2007 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) removed this requirement. The FAA created FISA Section 702, which authorizes the NSA to collect communications between foreign targets and Americans without individualized FISC approval, as long as a “significant purpose” of the program is acquiring foreign intelligence.
In 2008, the FISC held that this warrantless surveillance scheme satisfies the Fourth Amendment.The court ruled that, because the targets are not Americans and there must be a significant foreign intelligence purpose, the surveillance falls under the “foreign intelligence exception” to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. When this exception applies, the surveillance may be sustained as long as it is “reasonable,” which is determined by weighing the relevant national security interests against the level of intrusion into Fourth Amendment-protected interests. The FISC found that the government has a vital national security interest in conducting foreign intelligence surveillance under Section 702. On the other side of the balance, it found that any intrusion on Fourth Amendment interests is mitigated by restrictions on the use and retention of incidentally acquired information about Americans (so-called “minimization” requirements).
Not long after this change in the law, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) began to warn of a “back door search loophole” that could be used for the warrantless surveillance of Americans. The warning proved justified.  The Justice Department, having worked Section 702 into the foreign intelligence exception by certifying that the government’s targets were not Americans and that the surveillance had a foreign intelligence purpose, and having met the constitutional reasonableness requirement by noting that incidentally collected information about Americans would be “minimized,” was allowing the FBI to run queries of Section 702 data to obtain information about Americans in ordinary criminal cases. Edward Snowden’s disclosures confirmed this practice, and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board’s (PCLOB) report on Section 702 revealed that it was routine.
Many commentators (myself included) have noted that this loophole creates an end run around the warrant requirement in ordinary criminal cases. Until recently, however, there was at least one substantive limitation on the FBI’s ability to query Section 702 data. As reported by the PCLOB, the FBI’s minimization procedures provided that queries must be “reasonably designed” to “find and extract” either “foreign intelligence” or “evidence of a crime.” This was a far cry from the probable cause that would be needed to obtain a warrant, but it was something. The FBI, at least on paper, could not simply go on a fishing expedition through the warrantlessly obtained data.
The New FBI Procedures
As of November 2015, it appears that limitation no longer exists. Displaying the intelligence community’s penchant for defining well-understood terms to mean something entirely different, the FBI’s most recent minimization procedures, in the FISC’s words, “clarify that a search of an FBI storage system containing raw-FISA acquired information does not constitute a ‘query’ within the meaning of the procedures if the user conducting the search does not receive access to unminimized Section 702-acquired information in response to the search.” This includes instances in which the search does return unminimized Section 702-acquired information, and the agent is notified of that fact but is not authorized to access the data. Because such searches are deemed not to constitute “queries,” they presumably are not subject to the requirement that “queries” must be reasonably designed to return foreign intelligence or evidence of a crime.
The new procedures also “clarify” what happens if an agent performs a search that returns Section 702 information the agent is not authorized to access. In such cases, an agent who is authorized to access the information may re-run the search and determine whether the information “reasonably appears . . . to be foreign intelligence information, to be necessary to understand foreign intelligence information, or to be evidence of a crime.”  If so, the information is passed along to the original agent.
This “clean team” approach is no substitute for a limitation on the initial search. It is analogous to claiming that searches of homes are not “searches,” and thus do not require warrants, if the agents performing the search find nothing – or if an elite team steps in to perform the search and can turn over what it finds to prosecutors only if it is evidence of a crime. Previously, the procedures did not allow fishing expeditions; now they do, and it seems somewhat beside the point that the fisherman only gets to keep the fish if he catches one.
The Constitutional Analysis
How can back door searches be constitutional? Until now, we haven’t seen the FISC’s reasoning, and apparently the court was never forced to articulate it. But thanks to the participation of amicus in this case – a result of last year’s USA Freedom Act – the FISC was presented with a Fourth Amendment argument against back door searches and was required to address it. The result is not confidence-inspiring.
The court began by disclaiming any intent to assess the constitutionality of back door searches on their own. The government argued – and the court agreed – that the search itself does not constitute a “separate Fourth Amendment event.”  Instead, the court must assess the reasonableness of Section 702’s scheme “viewed as a whole” – not any one part of it.
As sensible as this approach may sound, it has its limits. The government cannot insulate a program of searches that do not qualify for any exception to the warrant requirement by inserting it into a larger program that does. Moreover, assessing the reasonableness of a program as a whole does not mean the court may simply ignore parts of that program. The applicability of the foreign intelligence exception and the constitutional reasonableness of Section 702 both turn on the existence of a significant foreign intelligence interest. If there is no such interest underlying the practice of back door searches, then a scheme that allows those searches cannot be sustained under the Fourth Amendment, even if “[t]he government’s national security interest in conductingacquisitions pursuant to Section 702 ‘is of the highest order of magnitude’” (emphasis added).
Implicitly recognizing this, the FISC made a weak attempt to superimpose a national security justification onto back door searches, stating: “Although the queries at issue here are designed to find and extract evidence of crimes believed to be unrelated to foreign intelligence, such queries may nonetheless elicit foreign intelligence information, particularly since the Section 702 collection is targeted against persons believed to possess, receive, or communicate such information.” It added, “Such unexpected connections may arise only rarely, but when they do arise, the foreign intelligence value of the information could be substantial.” In other words, the government has an overriding national security interest based on the slim possibility that it might unexpectedly happen across information other than what it’s actually searching for. To say the least, this smacks of a result-driven analysis.
The FISC then turned to the other side of the balancing test, and found the intrusion into Fourth Amendment interests to be less weighty for two reasons. First, the data may only be used or shared if it is foreign intelligence, necessary to understand foreign intelligence, or evidence of a crime. But that’s just another way of saying that the FBI may only use the data if it’s useful. That hardly mitigates the intrusion of the search. No court would hold that a search of a person’s home is not a significant intrusion as long as the fruits could only be used if they constituted evidence of a crime. (One also wonders about the court’s confidence that the FBI will adhere to even this minimal restriction, given that 30 of the opinion’s 80 pages are devoted to detailing multiple incidents of non-compliance by both the FBI and NSA – but that’s a subject for another post.)
Second, the FISC offered the consolation that back door searches are not a very big part of the Section 702 program. It noted: “[O]nly a subset of the information acquired by the government pursuant to Section 702 is subject to queries by the FBI.” How many communications are represented in that subset? The opinion doesn’t say. How many queries aimed at obtaining information about Americans are performed on it? When the PCLOB asked this question, the FBIsaid it could not provide the information because it doesn’t keep track.
Continuing to downplay the significance of back door searches, the FISC cited the government’s representation that “FBI queries designed to elicit evidence of crimes unrelated to foreign intelligence rarely, if ever, produce responsive results from the Section 702-acquired data.” (So much for the compelling government interest in happening upon foreign intelligence information when conducting non-foreign intelligence searches…?) But Americans’ Fourth Amendment interests are not limited to searches in cases “unrelated to foreign intelligence.” Even the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review has upheld foreign intelligence surveillance of American targets only where those Americans were foreign powers or their agents; and Congress has required the government to prove this to the FISC. Back door searches allow an end run around this process, too.
In any case, the implication behind both of these observations is that a program may be constitutionally reasonable “as a whole” even if small parts of it are constitutionally unreasonable. That is a dangerous and unsupported approach to assessing constitutional reasonableness. There is a critical difference between finding that a program is constitutional “as a whole,” and finding thatmost of a program is constitutional.
In short, the FISC’s five-page analysis of this complex and important Fourth Amendment question is flawed in a number of respects, presenting a solid basis for appeal. Except… no one can appeal it. The USA Freedom Act created a panel of amici, but gave them no right to petition the FISCR to review rulings in the government’s favor. Thus, for the time being, the back door that gives the FBI routine, warrantless access to Americans’ communications remains wide open.
Read on Just Security »
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Netanyahu, Putin hold cordial meeting in Moscow, with Syria at center stage

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April 21, 2016, 8:08 PM (IDT)
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu flew back to Israel on Thursday evening after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The Russian leader greeted the prime minister warmly, expressed best wishes for the upcoming Passover holiday and admitted that the situation in Syria is "complicated." On his part, Netanyahu thanked Putin for his support of a bilateral pensions agreement and for the Kremlin's greeting to Jews worldwide ahead of Passover. The prime minister emphasized the need for maintaining the coordination between the two air forces, preventing Hizballah from obtaining advanced weapons, and preventing terrorists from opening a new front against Israel from the Golan Heights. The prime minister was accompanied by his military secretary, Brig. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, and the commander of the air force, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, among others. The comments of the two leaders were posted on the Kremlin's website.

Israel worried Hezbollah group will obtain Syrian weapons

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed concern to Russia's president that sophisticated weapons from Syria and Iraq could end up in the hands of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a close ally of the Syrian government.
     

US Navy accuses Gulf commander of misconduct

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A U.S. Navy officer relieved of commanding a Persian Gulf patrol ship allegedly failed to maintain equipment to the point of exposing "his crew to unnecessary risk," interfered with an inquiry into his actions and once slept drunk on a bench at a Dubai port, according to a naval investigation.
     
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Андрей Козырев: «Россия сама себя загоняет в изоляцию»

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From: golosamerikius
Duration: 02:40

«Интеллектуальной клаустрофобией» назвали западные политологи агрессивную позицию Кремля в отношении США
Originally published at - http://www.golos-ameriki.ru/media/video/russia-self-isolation/3296728.html

Observers Do Nothing to Help Dying Man in Chicago Street - ABC News

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Chicago Sun-Times

Observers Do Nothing to Help Dying Man in Chicago Street
ABC News
Surveillance video shows more than a dozen people doing nothing to help a Chicago bartender as he is attacked, left unconscious on the street and accidentally run over by a taxi. Marques Gaines later died at a hospital. The family of 32-year-old Gaines ...
Man Knocked Unconscious, His Body Left in Street — This Time, Bystanders' Decision Not to Help Has Horrific ...TheBlaze.com

all 19 news articles »

Brazil's Vice President Says He Is Ready to Take Over

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Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer criticized President Dilma Rousseff’s characterization of an impeachment process against her as a coup-d’état and said he is ready to take over if she steps aside during a trial in the Senate.

Obama Has Reason to Be Split Between Sanders and Clinton

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Barack Obama knows that the fate of his Presidential legacy will depend in large part on who wins the next election. That rare president who’s fortunate enough to be followed by a member of his own party has a much better chance of seeing his unfinished business finished successfully. It worked for Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were not so lucky.
It makes sense then that Obama would do what he can to boost Hillary Clinton, his party’s near-certain nominee for president, and he reportedly told a group of Democratic donors last month that the moment is fast approaching when party unity will be needed in support of Clinton.
Still, you can’t help but wonder if the President might harbor mixed feelings. Obama came to Washington hoping to become a transformational leader, a president willing and able to step beyond partisan divisions to bring Democrats and Republicans together to address the country’s most pressing needs. After eight years of hand-to-hand combat with the Washington establishment—a group that includes career politicians of both parties—perhaps the President is quietly nodding along at TV coverage of those Bernie Sanders rallies.
Obama and Sanders have important differences. Obama believes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an enormous trade deal, will stand among his finest achievements. Sanders considers it a deal negotiated “by elites for elites,” and one that will cost the country jobs. Obama accepted campaign contributions from Wall Street and support from Super PACs. Sanders says these things allow interest groups to manipulate Washington. Obama feels he has done his best to take an even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sanders disagrees.
But President Obama has probably had enough of “politics as usual” to last 10 lifetimes, and the sight of Sanders drawing the adoration of armies of idealistic young voters probably brings back happy memories. Political outsiders have much in common, even when they disagree on policy. No one will tag Clinton an outsider, and Obama must have been frustrated to see his former secretary of state renounce his signature trade agreement, a deal she once called the “gold standard” of international trade. At least Sanders, Obama may reason, has the courage of his convictions. He’s not practicing the art of political triangulation that the Clintons used on Obama in 2008.
Obama and Clinton had plenty of tough things to say about one another during that historic campaign, though as Clinton regularly reminds us, that didn’t stop Obama from naming her secretary of state. Yet, Obama’s fascinating recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic revealed his frustration with Clinton’s dismissal of an offhand, off-the-record comment he once made that his guiding foreign policy principle is “don’t do stupid stuff.” A few weeks later, Clinton made news with pointed criticism of these words. “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” she told Goldberg.
Obama aides later told Goldberg that Clinton’s comments made the President furious. Obama himself told Goldberg that his biggest presidential mistake was the failure to prepare for the aftermath of allied intervention in Libya. That’s an interesting choice, given that Clinton has named the Libya intervention as her proudest achievement at the State Department.
Obama and Clinton have probably learned the hard way to respect one another, and it’s hard to imagine that Obama won’t hit the trail hard this fall to ensure Clinton defeats her Republican opponent. But it’s Sanders who likely reminds Obama of his own original aspirations, his aversion to political gamesmanship—and his desire to reawaken the nation’s idealism.
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AP Exclusive: US Navy accuses Gulf commander of misconduct 

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A U.S. Navy officer relieved of commanding a Persian Gulf patrol ship allegedly failed to maintain equipment to the point of exposing “his crew to unnecessary risk,” interfered with an inquiry into his actions and once slept drunk on a bench at a Dubai port, according to a naval investigation.





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Today's Headlines 

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Today's Headlines

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Russia Pursues Ties With Kurds to Keep Foothold in Region – WSJ 

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The Russian government says it has sent troops to fight alongside Kurdish units in northwestern Syria and is providing weapons to Iraqi Kurds, in a tactic that could upstage a long-standing U.S. alliance with the stateless ethnic group and increase Moscow’s influence in the region.

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