Monday, April 18, 2016

Dozens Dead In Flash Floods In Afghanistanby support@pangea-cms.com (RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan) Monday April 18th, 2016 at 11:41 AM

Dozens Dead In Flash Floods In Afghanistan

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At least 30 people have been killed by flash floods in northern Afghanistan.

Gay penguins Stan and Olli are not alone – video

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Penguins aren’t the only animals known to form same-sex relationships – but they are perhaps the most well-known (and adorable). King penguin couple Stan and Olli are moving to an all-male enclosure in Hamburg while also becoming a symbol for marriage equality campaign in Germany
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The Latest: EU border agency says Mediterranean crossings up

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The Latest on European efforts to deal with the influx of migrants (all times local):





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US 'extra troops' to aid Iraq war on IS

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US to send 200 extra troops to Iraq to help fight against so-called Islamic State, officials say

US to send 200 more troops, Apache helicopters, to fight Islamic State group in Iraq amid push to retake key city of Mosul 

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US to send 200 more troops, Apache helicopters, to fight Islamic State group in Iraq amid push to retake key city of Mosul.

Arabic speaker told to leave US plane

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An Iraqi university student in California says he was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight for having a conversation in Arabic.
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Brazil lawmakers OK Rousseff impeachment - Indiana Gazette

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Indiana Gazette

Brazil lawmakers OK Rousseff impeachment
Indiana Gazette
Anti-government demonstrators celebrated Sunday in São Paulo after the lower house of Congress voted to impeach Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. (Andre Penner/Associated Press). Click photo for gallery. BRASILIA, Brazil — For the second time in ...
PHOTOS: Brazilians Burn President in Effigy to Celebrate Impeachment VoteBreitbart News
To Support Dilma Rousseff's Impeachment Is To Support A ConspiracyHuffington Post (blog)
Brazil's Tears of Joy, Sadness for Rousseff ImpeachmentBloomberg
Sports Illustrated -Irish Times -Yahoo News -New York Times
all 46 news articles »

Drone collision with jet highlights growing aviation danger

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LONDON (AP) -- A collision between a British Airways passenger jet and a drone over London has left the plane undamaged but the aviation industry deeply shaken....

'Casualties' In Jerusalem Bus Explosion

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Twenty people have been killed or injured in an explosion on a bus in Jerusalem, Israeli radio has reported.

Israeli rescue service says bus explodes in Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli rescue service says a bus has exploded in the heart of Jerusalem, wounding at least 10....

Drone collision with jet highlights growing aviation danger

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A collision between a British Airways passenger jet and a drone over London has left the plane undamaged but the aviation industry deeply shaken.





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U.S. Will Send 200 More Troops to Iraq to Fight ISIS

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(BAGHDAD)— The U.S. has agreed to deploy more than 200 additional troops to Iraq and to send Apache helicopters for the first time into the fight against ISIS in Iraq, the first major increase in U.S. forces in nearly a year, U.S. defense officials said Monday.
The uptick in American fighting forces — and the decision to put them closer to the front lines — is designed to help Iraqi forces retake the key northern city of Mosul, and to help retake Raqqa, the extremist’s group self-proclaimed capital in Syria. Last June the Obama administration announced that hundreds of troops would be deployed to help the Iraqis retake Ramadi — a goal they accomplished at the end of the year.
Of the additional troops, most would be Army special forces, who have been used throughout the anti-ISIS campaign to advise and assist the Iraqis. The remainder would include some trainers, security forces for the advisers, and maintenance teams for the Apaches.
The decisions reflect weeks of discussions with commanders and Iraqi leaders, and a decision by President Barack Obama to increase the authorized troop level in Iraq by 217 forces — or from 3,870 to 4,087. The advise-and-assist teams — made up of about a dozen troops each accompanied by security forces — would embed with Iraqi brigades and battalion, likely putting them closer to the front lines and at greater risk from mortars and rocket fire.
The proximity to the battlefront will allow the U.S. teams to provide more tactical combat advice as the Iraqi units move toward Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, still under ISIS control. Until now, U.S. advisers have worked with the Iraqis at the headquarters level, well back from the front lines.
The Apache helicopters are considered a significant aid to any attack on Mosul.
Last December, U.S. officials were trying to carefully negotiate new American assistance with Iraqi leaders who often have a different idea of how to wage war. At that time, the Iraqis refused Apache helicopters for the battle to retake Ramadi.
Speaking to U.S. troops at the airport in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Ash Carter also said that the U.S. will send an additional rocket-assisted artillery system to Iraq.
U.S. officials have also said that the number of special operations forces in Syria would be increased at some point, but Carter did not mention that in his comments. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Carter’s announcement Monday came after several meetings with his commanders and Iraqi leaders about how the U.S. can best help Iraqi forces retake Mosul.
He met with Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. military commander for the ISIS fight, as well as a number of Iraqi leaders including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Iraq’s minister of defense Khalid al-Obeidi.
He also spoke by phone with the president of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani
Late last month, U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that he and Carter believed there would be an increase in U.S. forces in Iraq in the coming weeks.
Later this week, Obama will be in Saudi Arabia to talk with Gulf leaders about the fight against ISIS and ask for their help in rebuilding Ramadi, which took heavy damage in the battle.
U.S. military and defense officials also have made it clear that winning back Mosul is critical, but will be challenging, because the insurgents are dug in and have likely peppered the landscape with roadside bombs and other traps for any advancing military.
A senior defense official told reporters traveling with Carter that while Iraqi leaders have been reluctant to have a large number of U.S. troops in Iraq, they also need certain capabilities that only more American or coalition forces can provide.
Iraqi leaders, back the addition of more U.S. troops if their work is coordinated with Iraqis and directed toward the retaking of Mosul. The official was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Iraq has been struggling with a political crisis, as efforts to oust the speaker of parliament failed. Al-Abadi’s efforts to get a new cabinet in place met resistance, and influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr issued a deadline, giving parliament 72 hours to vote in a new Cabinet.
At the same time, the costs of the war against ISIS, along with the plunge in the price of oil — which accounts for 95 percent of Iraq’s revenues — have caused an economic crisis, adding fresh urgency to calls for reform. Iraqi officials predict a budget deficit of more than $30 billion this year.
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Israeli rescue service says bus explodes in Jerusalem - Washington Post

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The Independent

Israeli rescue service says bus explodes in Jerusalem
Washington Post
JERUSALEM — Israeli rescue service says a bus has exploded in the heart of Jerusalem, wounding at least 10. Monday's blast comes amid a wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis, mostly stabbings, and immediately raises fears of a return to the regular ...
At least 10 hurt in explosion on bus in JerusalemFox News
Explosion aboard Jerusalem bus, 20 casualties: Israeli radioReuters
BREAKING: Egged Number 12 Bus Explodes On Derech Chevron In Jerusalem; Casualties Reported [UPDATED 6 ...Yeshiva World News
USA TODAY -4029tv -The Guardian -KL.FM 96.7
all 27 news articles »

Explosion on Jerusalem Bus Leaves at Least 10 Hurt

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(JERUSALEM) — Israeli rescue service says a bus has exploded in the heart of Jerusalem, wounding at least 10.
Monday’s blast comes amid a wave of Palestinian attacks on Israelis, mostly stabbings, and immediately raises fears of a return to the regular suicide attacks that ravaged Israeli cities a decade ago.
Images show fire and large plumes of smoke billowing from the back of the bus.
The Magen David Adom rescue service says 10 people have been wounded, including two seriously. Police are calling it a terrorist attack.

The latest idea for defeating the Islamic State: Legalize pot

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The Islamic State gains from illicit smuggling arms and drugs networks.





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Israeli rescue service says explosion on Jerusalem bus wounds 10 

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Israeli rescue service says explosion on Jerusalem bus wounds 10.

15 Characteristics of Russian Propaganda

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Paul Goble
  
            Staunton, April 18 – Russian propaganda makes use of so many techniques to succeed that Moscow novelist and commentator Elizaveta Aleksandrova-Zorina performs a useful service by listing in an article in “Gazeta.ru” 15 of its favorite and, it should be said, effective methods (gazeta.ru/comments/2016/04/14_a_8178095.shtml).

These include:

--A black and white division of the world into “ours” and the “alien” other;

--Epithets that imply more than they describe;

--Constant assertions that those supporting Putin not only are numerous but united;

--Empty declarations that mean nothing but that appear to promise or justify everything;

--Playing games with cause and effect, often reversing their true order;

--A vicious circle or tautology in which the second part of an assertion is simply a repetition of the first;

--Confusing the part and the whole by focusing on only one part of something such as liberals within the opposition;

--Creating false dilemmas that don’t exist;

--Careful preparation of headlines which are the only thing most people pay attention to;

--Citations to experts, often false and even more often out of context;

--Claiming the media say when in fact only one media outlet does;

--Using weasel words like “so-called” or “it would appear” to give the appearance of objectivity;

--Outright falsification; and

--Conspiracy theories and suggestion of hidden motives.


'Chaplin's World' Honors Cinema Legend With First Museum

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As Charlie Chaplin finished out his long life on his bucolic Swiss manor, the former silent film star worried about drifting into oblivion, his connoisseurs say. Little chance of that. The legacy of the Hollywood legend behind “The Dictator” and “Modern Times” lives on today in the minds of stars like Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr., in Broadway plays and in the general cultural consciousness. But he never had bricks-and-mortar museum honoring his life and achievements.   That changed Sunday with the public opening of “Chaplin's World,” a multimillion-dollar project in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey. Its director-general says the museum is the first of its kind in the world to honor Chaplin, and has added value because it's at a place he called home for years.   The “Manoir de Ban” is where Chaplin lived his last 25 years raising children, writing music and movie scripts, and contemplating his legacy far from the glare of the Hollywood spotlight. Visitors can see his trademark bowler hat and cane, a replica studio, black-and-white photographs from his career, and the bedroom where he died at age 88 in 1977.   Working with Paris' Grevin museum, which is known for its wax figures, managers have displayed a number of figures of Chaplin as well as friends like Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill on the green 14-hectare (35-acre) grounds along Lake Geneva, said Jean-Pierre Pigeon, the Swiss-Canadian director of Chaplin's World.   “He was not just resting here, he was working. He was part of the region,” said Pigeon. “He was able to live a normal life here. He found the right life-work balance here in Switzerland. In England, he was really poor, in the United States, he was really successful in his career and money-wise, but his real happiness was here for 25 years.”   About two dozen of his children and grandchildren were on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday, which was Chaplin's birthday.     Organizers are hoping for more than 300,000 visits per year, Pigeon said, boosted by a nearby chocolate factory and a medieval castle.   What would the famed English-born actor and director think about “Chaplin's World?”   “I think his first reaction would probably be ‘Oooh!’” Pigeon said with a chuckle. “But there was one thing he was scared of: being forgotten. So this is a good way to broaden his notoriety.”   “A place where people can laugh and get emotion: That's what he would have wanted,” Pigeon said.

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Suicide bomber attacks Jerusalem bus; multiple casualties reported

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April 18, 2016, 6:11 PM (IDT)
A suicide bomber blew himself up aboard Jerusalem bus No. 12  as it travelled on Hebron street at about 6;00 p.m. on Monday evening. There are casualties on the scene, and the bus is on fire. Emergency services have declared a "multi-casualty incident". Another bus traveling near the Bus No. 12 was also damaged.  

Chinese military aircraft makes first public landing on disputed island - Reuters

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Reuters

Chinese military aircraft makes first public landing on disputed island
Reuters
BEIJING A Chinese military aircraft has for the first time publicly landed at a new airport on an island China has built in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Monday, raising the prospect that China could base fighter jets there. The ...
Chinese military aircraft lands for first time on disputed South China Sea island to rescue critically ill workersSouth China Morning Post

all 8 news articles »

Syria: All options are on the table regarding the Golan

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April 18, 2016, 8:29 AM (IDT)
In an interview with a Lebanese newspaper, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said "All options, including military ones, are on the table in order to make Israel withdraw from the Golan." He also told al-Mayadeen that "We are preparing to do everything in order to return the Golan to Syrian hands, including the use of military force."  
The comments were in response to a declaration on Sunday by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, at a Cabinet meeting held on the Golan Heights, that the Golan will stay in Israeli hands forever.
Damascus has recently been riding a wave of direct support from Russia and even indirect support from the US as DEBKAfile has reported.

Pentagon misled lawmakers on military sexual assault cases

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The Pentagon misled Congress with inaccurate and vague information about sexual assault cases that portrayed civilian law enforcement officials as less willing than military commanders to punish sex offenders, an Associated Press investigation found.
     

Obama's first farewell tour starts with damage control

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President Barack Obama sets out this week on his first in a series of international farewell tours, a sometimes wistful tradition for presidents in legacy mode. But in a reminder of this president's uneven ties to allies, Obama's first stop will involve more damage control than nostalgia, more friction than fondness.
     

France to supply warplanes, ships to Egypt under $1 billion arms deal

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April 18, 2016, 11:04 AM (IDT)
French President Francois Hollande announced Sunday in Cairo, following a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, that his country will supply warplanes and naval ships to Egypt under an arms deal worth about $1 billion. Cairo has been diversifying its suppliers of arms in recent years at the expense of the US that had been the main supplier of weapons to the Egyptian army and air force until 2013.
France is currently in the final stages of selling 24 Rafale fighters to Qatar as part of an arms deal worth several billion dollars, and is also in an advanced stage of negotiations with the UAE for the sale of Rafale warplanes.   
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IDF’s drill secures Netanyahu-Putin summit

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April 18, 2016, 11:19 AM (IDT)
The Israeli cabinet holds its weekly session Sunday April 17, on the Golan. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will visit Moscow on Thursday, April 21 to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to launch the most important battle of his political career, and one of Israel’s most decisive contests of the last 10 years: the battle over the future of the Golan Heights. 

Iran, Europe Pressuring U.S. to Grant Tehran Access to Financial Markets 

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Iranian and European officials say that they are pushing the United States to grant the Islamic Republic unprecedented access to American financial markets and the U.S. dollar, working against promises by top Obama administration officials who had claimed Iran would never be granted such access, according to recent remarks.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, speaking at a joint press conference this weekend with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said that officials are pressuring the U.S. to grant Iran access to American markets.
“Iran and the EU will put pressure on the United States to facilitate the cooperation of non-American banks with Iran,” Zarif was quoted as saying at a briefing with reporters and Mogherini.
Both Iran and the EU said in a joint statement later in the day that the United States must work hard to uphold its obligations under the recent nuclear deal. The White House has argued that it is not mandated to provide dollar access under the agreement.
“It’s essential that the other side, especially the United States, fulfill its commitments not on paper but in practice and removes the obstacles especially in banking sector,” according to the Iranians.
The EU is making further moves to help Iran become a member of the World Trade Organization, and has said it would seek to open a diplomatic mission in Tehran.
Europe has key economic interests to pursue in Iran, according to Mogherini, who disclosed that she is “pressuring the Obama administration” to sooth the impasse with Iran over access to the U.S. Dollar.
“The main message that I have delivered here is the fact that we Europeans have as much as an interest as the Iranians that this issue is solved,” she said over the weekend. “We have an economic interest also in coming back here as the first trading partner. … In order to do that we need our banks to be present here.”
The EU is also slated to begin joint work with Iran on civil nuclear projects.
Iran and its European allies are likely to hit roadblocks in the United States as they seek to give Tehran access to the U.S. financial system.
American officials are reportedly split over the issue, with the uncertainty causing concern in Congress.
Treasury Department officials have worked in recent days to assure skittish lawmakers that Iran will not gain access to the U.S banking system.
“We aren’t planning on allowing access to the U.S. financial system or making sure that Iran gets U.S. dollars,” the Treasury Department wrote to Congress, the Free Beacon recently reported.
Officials will instead instruct foreign banks on how to release billions of dollars in frozen assets to Iran that have been freed up as a result of the nuclear agreement.
“We will continue to work with banks to make sure they know what is allowed pursuant to the relief that Iran received but also, more importantly, what is still prohibited,” the Treasury Department said. “Those prohibitions are extensive as all of the sanctions except the nuclear sanctions are still in effect, including the secondary sanctions on” the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The Treasury Department left open the possibility that foreign and U.S. business will be granted licenses that exempt them from current sanctions on Iran.
“I can’t flatly say that [Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC] won’t be issuing any licenses,” the department said. “As a matter of regular business OFAC issues licenses for otherwise prohibited activity. For example, as part of the [nuclear deal] civilian aircraft parts might be sold and would require a license.”
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Life on a CIA Kill List in Pakistan - VICE News

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VICE News

Life on a CIA Kill List in Pakistan
VICE News
Malik Jalal says he's on a secret CIA kill list and has narrowly escaped death by drone four times. He is part of the North Waziristan Peace Committee (NWPC), which is based in a region of Pakistan that has seen more than 300 documented strikes ...

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Military reform effort claims latest casualty - Politico

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Politico

Military reform effort claims latest casualty
Politico
Carson's rise and fall highlight the difficulties of trying to reform a bureaucracy that has powerful allies on the Hill and is notoriously resistant to change —especially the far-reaching overhaul Carson wanted to accomplish in the military's ...

US defense chief makes surprise visit to Iraq ahead of Mosul offensive

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April 18, 2016, 12:24 PM (IDT)
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter arrived Monday morning in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and senior US military commanders based in the country. Carter's visit is focused on the Obama administration's initiative to increase the amount of special forces troops operating against ISIS ahead of an Iraqi army attack to liberate the city of Mosul from the terrorist organization.   

Amman recalls envoy from Tehran, citing interference in internal affairs

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April 18, 2016, 2:04 PM (IDT)
Amid pressure by Saudi Arabia and growing tension between Jordan and Iran, Amman announced on Monday that it had recalled its ambassador to Tehran for consultations. It said that it had taken the step in light of Iran's interference in its neighbors' affairs and Tehran's lack of response to calls by neighboring countries to respect their sovereignty.  
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The CIA is Investing in Firms that Mine Your Tweets and Instagram Photos - The Wire

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The Wire

The CIA is Investing in Firms that Mine Your Tweets and Instagram Photos
The Wire
The investments appear to reflect the CIA's increasing focus on monitoring social media. Last September, David Cohen, the CIA's second-highest ranking official, spoke at length at Cornell University about a litany of challenges stemming from the new ...

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The Early Edition: April 18, 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.
IRAQ and SYRIA
Syrian rebel forces declared a new battle against government troops today, part of an escalation of violence which has undermined a ceasefire and threatens UN-brokered peace negotiations. [Reuters]
Rebels have attacked Syrian government forces in Latakia province today. [Reuters]  Syria’s main opposition group Riad Hijab has said that continuing with the peace talks is “unacceptable” while the government continues to bomb civilian areas and otherwise violate international law. [Reuters]
The EU this weekend called on Tehran to use its influence with Syria to help advance peace negotiations after the fragile talks resumed in Geneva. [Wall Street Journal’s Laurence Norman and Sam Dagher]
“Despite talk of a ‘regime’ and ‘opposition,’ Syria today is a mosaic of tiny fiefs.” Thanassis Cambanis discusses Syria’s future, calling it a “black hole of instability.” [New York Times]
Carter in Iraq. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Baghdad today for talks with Iraqi leaders on how to strengthen the fight against the Islamic State, as the country’s armed forces work toward taking back Mosul from the militant group. US efforts to help the Iraqi military will likely include deploying a “small number” of additional American troops, say officials. [APReuters]
The Islamic State’s revenue has dropped by almost a third since mid-2015, the result of a loss of territory. The group has introduced a range of new taxes in response, according to research group, IHS. [AFP]
The US has increased “cyber operations” against ISIS, intended to disrupt the militant group’s “command-and-control and communications.” Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef provide the details at The Daily Beast.
Kurdish militants attempting to escape into Syria from the Turkish border town of Nusaybin were killed by Turkish security forces, sources reported today. [Reuters]
“Desperate” conditions have been reported in Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, by the UN Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA. Around 10,000 civilians are reportedly trapped in the camp. [AP]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel will never return the occupied Golan Heights to neighboring Syria, convening symbolic meeting of his cabinet on a mountain there. [HaaretzWashington Post’s William Booth]
UK firm Aegis Defence Services employed mercenaries from Sierra Leone to work in Iraq, according to former director of the firm James Ellery, adding that checks were not undertaken to make sure those recruited were not former child soldiers. The mercenaries were used to reduce the costs for the American presence in Iraq. [The Guardian’s Alice Ross]
EUROPEAN TERROR THREAT
UK authorities have released on bail one of five people arrested last week on suspicion of plotting terrorism; a source said that the arrests were linked to the Paris and Brussels attacks. [Reuters]
The Brussels attacks have provided “new impetus” for greater intelligence sharing between European nations, Julian E. Barnes and Stephen Fidler report, citing “long-standing” problems including security agencies that “jealously guard their secrets and sources.” [Wall Street Journal]
German authorities and airport officials called for a review of security measures at airports, amid mounting concerns over existing procedures and the ability to detect weapons. [Wall Street Journal’s Ruth Bender and Robert Wall]
Thousands of people took to the streets of Brussels over the weekend, in a protest against “terror and hate.” [BBC]
SAUDI ARABIA
President Obama is due meet Saudi Arabia’s King Salman in Riyadh on Wednesday amid increasing pressures on the nations’ relationship, reports Michael D Shear, including disagreements over Iran, the fight against Islamic State, Syria and fighting in Yemen, despite which the countries “still need each other.” [New York Times]
“Did the Saudis play some role in supporting the hijackers responsible for the attacks on September 11th?” The “28 pages,” a section of a congressional report on 9/11 that is subject to a renewed push for declassification, may reveal the answer to this question, suggests Kristin Donnelly, though it is unlikely that it will be published before President Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. [NBC News]
Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell off billions of dollars’ worth of US assets if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the 9/11 terror attacks. The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to have the bill blocked on the ground that it would put US citizens at legal risk overseas. [New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti; Financial Times’ Geoff Dyer and Simeon Kerr]
GUANTANAMO BAY
Saudi Arabia has accepted nine Yemeni Guantánamo Bay detainees, all of whom had been at the detention center since 2002 and none of whom have been charged with a crime. They have been transferred to Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program which aims to help jihadists transition back into society. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]  Following the men’s release, 80 prisoners remain at Guantánamo Bay. [NPR’s Merrit Kennedy]
Environmental health experts will not complete their tests at Camp Justice until the fall, the head of Navy Medicine East Rear Adm. Kenneth Iverson has said. A preliminary report from the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center found dangerous chemicals including mercury and arsenic at the Camp. This may explain why the judge due to take over the case of Majid Khan has postponed the next hearing from May 11-12 to August 30, suggests Carol Rosenberg, though the judge’s order cites “the interest of justice.” [Miami Herald]
AFGHANISTAN
“Intense” fighting in Afghanistan continued over the weekend as government forces and the Taliban attempted to take the strategic city of Kunduz. [Al Jazeera’s Hashmat Moslih]
The number of civilians being killed by Afghan government forces is rising, according to a UN report, children making up a third of those killed this year. [New York Times’ Mujib Mashal; The Guardian’s Sune Engel Rasmussen]  The Afghan national army is using schools refurbished using British aid money as bases, including one in Chahe Anjir in the Nad Ali district which is still attended by pupils. [The Guardian’s Sune Engel Rasmussen]
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS
A Russian fighter plane intercepted a US Air Force reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea on Thursday, US officials reported on Sunday, the second incident of this nature in a week. Russia has claimed it was responding to an unidentified target approaching its border. [Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold et al]
Most of the presidential candidates are unaware that war is looming “due to a fundamental change in the international system,” says Mark Helprin, listing the current trends that will eventually see “three great powers – China, Russia, the US – each with a complex and shifting system of alliances in unstable areas subject to proxy wars and opportunistic territorial expansion.” [Wall Street Journal]
A tunnel reaching several hundred meters into Israel’s territory from the Gaza strip has been found and “neutralized” by the Israeli military, which says that the tunnel was constructed by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, in order to “infiltrate Israel and execute terror attacks.” Hamas has said it is an “old” tunnel. [BBCAP]
Businesses are anxiously awaiting the Privacy Shield agreement to be put in place, reports Katie Bo Williams, citing concerns of a chilling effect on transatlantic trade. [The Hill]
UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond made a “surprise” visit to Libya’s capital, Tripoli, today, to support the UN-backed unity government. French and German ministers gave their backing a few days ago. [AFPBBC]
Yemen peace talks have been delayed amid ongoing fighting in breach of the ceasefire. The talks had been due to begin in Kuwait today, but delegations representing the Houthis and the party of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh remain in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Officials have said that they are now expected to arrive in Kuwait tomorrow. [Reuters]
Boko Haram attacked Nigerian soldiers in the northeastern Kareto area this morning. [Reuters]
China dispatched a military plane to one of its manmade islands in the South China Sea yesterday. For what is believed to be the first time, China’s Defense Ministry openly acknowledged the mission via its website. [AP]
North Korea is preparing a fifth nuclear test, South Korea’s President Park Guen-hye has reported, citing “signs.” [Wall Street Journal’s Alastair Gale]  Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised a “strong response” to any further tests. [Reuters’ Minami Funakoshi]
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Histories that shouldn’t be secret 

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Do the so-called '28 Pages' shed more light on the Sept. 11 attacks, and why does so much secrecy shroud the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba?

Apple fires back at FBI; lawmaker calls for IRS chief's resignation; did a passenger plane collide with a drone? - Washington Post

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Washington Post

Apple fires back at FBI; lawmaker calls for IRS chief's resignation; did a passenger plane collide with a drone?
Washington Post
APPLE'S LATEST VOLLEY: Apple and the FBI are still going back and forth in court over a locked iPhone in a New York drug case. On Friday, Apple argued the FBI does not need its help in cracking the device, ” a week after the U.S. Department of Justice ...

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Hundreds of migrants believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, Italy confirms

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Hundreds of refugees are believed to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach Europe, one year after a similar tragedy, Italy's president confirmed Monday.
     

Disaster in the Mediterranean: over 400 migrants drown

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April 18, 2016, 4:09 PM (IDT)
Italian President Sergio Mattarella said Monday that at least 400 migrants from Egypt, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Libya who were trying to reach Italy drowned in the Mediterranean after their inflatable boats capsized near the Egyptian coast. Mattarrella said the disaster happened in the early hours of the morning when the Italian coast guard was not engaged in any operations.
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Drone Hits British Airways Plane Heading to London

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A drone hit a plane flying into London over the weekend, according to police reports.
A British Airways pilot reported that a drone crashed into the front of the plane carrying 132 passengers from Geneva as he was descending into Heathrow Airport on Sunday afternoon.
While the flight landed safely, police said they were uncertain what would have happened had the drone been sucked into the jet’s engine, NBC News reported. Flying an unmanned aircraft too close to a plane is illegal, police said, adding that no arrests had yet been made.
Last year, pilots reported 40 near-miss incidents in the United Kingdom, compared to nine in 2014.
The spike in unmanned drones flying in close proximity to manned aircraft is also up in the United States. The Federal Aviation Authority reported more than 650 unauthorized drone sightings during the first eight months of last year, up from 238 sightings during all of 2014.
“Frankly it was only a matter of time before we had a drone strike given the huge numbers being flown around by amateurs who don’t understand the risks and the rules,” Steve Landells, flight safety specialist for the British Airline Pilots Association told The Telegraph.
“It appears that no serious damage was done on this occasion, but what is clear is that while most drones are flown safely, sensibly and within the limits of the law, much more education of drone users and enforcement of the rules is needed to ensure our skies remain safe from this threat.”
The incident Sunday is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.K., according to a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority.
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The Latest: Russia Remains Open to Oil Production Freeze - ABC News

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Wall Street Journal

The Latest: Russia Remains Open to Oil Production Freeze
ABC News
Russia's energy minister says "the door is not closed" on a potential oil production freeze but he doubts all other major oil-producing nations will agree to it. In an interview with the NTV television on Monday, Alexander Novak blamed Saudi Arabia and ... 
Russia Says Saudi, Other Gulf Countries Added Last-Minute Demands at Doha MeetingWall Street Journal

OPEC And Russia Fail To Stabilise Oil Output And Prices Over Iran ObjectionsForbes
Russia 'disappointed' by Qatar oil talks after 'last-minute demands' from Gulf statesRT 
TASS-CNBC
all 1,300 news articles »

Russia's Chief Investigator Equates Crimea Denial to Extremism - Newsweek

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Newsweek

Russia's Chief Investigator Equates Crimea Denial to Extremism
Newsweek
Putin Crimea Russian President Vladimir Putin during a festive concert marking the first anniversary of the Crimean treaty signing in central Moscow, March 18, 2015. A senior Russianlaw enforcement official has said that dismissing the referendum ...
Russia: Why the worst is over for our economyCNBC
OPINION: When will Russia break?Eyewitness News
Russia's top investigator calls to equate Crimean referendum denial with extremismTASS

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Georgia Arrests Six Suspected Of Trying To Sell Uranium

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Georgian authorities have detained three Georgian and three Armenian citizens suspected of trying to sell uranium-238.

AM Headlines: No Agreement in Doha, Ruble Falls; Bastrykin Claims

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Russia Says Saudi, Other Gulf Countries Added Last-Minute Demands at Doha Meeting - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

Russia Says Saudi, Other Gulf Countries Added Last-Minute Demands at Doha Meeting
Wall Street Journal
MOSCOW—Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries added last-minute conditions at a meeting of major oil-producing countries over the weekend that prevented participants from reaching a deal on freezing output, Russian Energy Minister Alexander ...
OPEC And Russia Fail To Stabilise Oil Output And Prices Over Iran ObjectionsForbes
Russia 'disappointed' by Qatar oil talks after 'last-minute demands' from Gulf statesRT
Russia unveils secret of Doha talks failurePravda
TASS -CNBC -Sputnik International
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Factbox: Supreme Court Hears US v Texas

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The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing Monday arguments in a landmark case -- the United States v Texas -- debating the legality of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Who is affected: Roughly 4 million undocumented immigrants who are living in the United States. What does the court case involve: The case focuses on Obama's 2014 program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). The program defers deportation for undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. since at least 2010, have a child who is a U.S. citizen or is in the country legally, and do not have a criminal record. Obama said he took executive action because Congress had failed to overhaul the immigration system. Who is behind the lawsuit: Texas is leading 26 states as well as congressional Republicans in challenging Obama's executive actions. They argue Obama doesn't have the power to effectively change immigration law. Possible court outcomes: Side with administration: About 4 million people would be allowed to live and work in the U.S. temporarily without constant fear of deportation. Side with the states: The lower court rulings, which have frozen the immigration actions, would likely stand through the remaining months of Obama's presidency. Tie 4-4: A tie is possible after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, which left eight members on the court. A tie would leave the two immigration programs in limbo. Sidestep immigration issue: The high court also could decide that Texas and the other states don't have the right to sue in federal court, a procedural outcome that would largely sidestep the divisive immigration issue.  Decision expected: The court is expected to decide by late June. Arguing the case: Administration is represented by its top appellate lawyer, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., who has argued many high-profile cases before the court, including the Affordable Care Act, the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act. The states are led by Texas’ solicitor general, Scott Keller, who has argued before the court regarding Texas' right to reject a proposal for license plates featuring a Confederate battle flag as well as in defense of Texas’ sharp restrictions on abortion clinics. Where the 2016 presidential candidates stand: Republicans: Candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich have said they would immediately reverse any actions allowed to take place. Democrats: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have said they would expand upon those efforts. Some material for this report came from AP.

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Stepanakert Journal: Amid Ethnic Conflict’s War Zone, a Livable Oasis Flourishes 

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Support from Armenian émigrés, including many in Southern California, adds a cosmopolitan flair to the tiny republic of Karabakh and its capital.

Власти Латвии оценили ущерб, нанесенный стране в советские годы - РИА Новости

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РИА Новости

Власти Латвии оценили ущерб, нанесенный стране в советские годы
РИА Новости
РИГА, 18 апр – РИА Новости. Ущерб, причиненный экономике Латвии в советские годы, оценивается в 185 миллиардов евро, сообщила журналистам представитель комиссии по оценке ущерба от советской оккупации Рута Паздере. Латвия считает, что была оккупирована СССР с 1940 ...
Латвия оценила ущерб экономике от советской «оккупации» в 185 миллиардов евроLenta.ru
В Латвии подсчитали ущерб от «советской оккупации»ИА REGNUM
Латвия оценила ущерб от «советской оккупации» в 185 млрд евроМосковский комсомолец
Известия -Интерфакс -Правда.Ру -Вести.Ru
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Russia Dismisses US Concerns Over Jets' Flybys - U.S. News & World Report

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U.S. News & World Report

Russia Dismisses US Concerns Over Jets' Flybys
U.S. News & World Report
The Russian government is brushing off U.S. concerns that its fighter jets buzzed an American reconnaissance plane and a Navy vessel in two separate incidents last week, which Washington and its NATO partners have blasted as unsafe and unprofessional.

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Russian Fighter Jet Buzzes U.S. Air Force Reconnaissance Plane Within 50 Feet - YouTube

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Published on Apr 18, 2016
A Russian fighter jet flew within 50 feet of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane flying over the Baltic Sea Thursday as it conducted a barrel roll over the American plane, U.S. officials announced.

Doha Oil Talks Fail: What Happens Next?

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The world’s biggest crude exporters failed Sunday to reach an agreement on freezing oil output at January’s levels. Heard on the Street's Helen Thomas looks at what could happen next in oil markets.