Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Euro Economics: The Mystery of Spain’s Perpetual Jobs Problem by PETER EAVIS Tuesday May 3rd, 2016 at 2:08 PM

Euro Economics: The Mystery of Spain’s Perpetual Jobs Problem 

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Even with a recovering economy, high unemployment (20 percent) is part of life, and youth unemployment is at 45.5 percent.

Germany to push for progress towards European army

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Paper advocates joint headquarters and shared military assets

America's Missile Defense Disaster (And Music to Russia and China's Ears) - The National Interest Online (blog)

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The National Interest Online (blog)

America's Missile Defense Disaster (And Music to Russia and China's Ears)
The National Interest Online (blog)
The ballistic missile threat to U.S. allies and the homeland is skyrocketing. Russia is deploying a new heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying ten or more warheads. It also has a new ballistic missile submarine and missile ...

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Putin just made a major change to Russian law enforcement - Business Insider

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Business Insider

Putin just made a major change to Russian law enforcement
Business Insider
President Vladimir Putin has carried out a major reshuffling of Russia's law enforcement in attempts to take an even stronger grasp of the country, the Financial Times reports. In a sudden reshuffle, Putin has dismissed eight senior law-enforcement ...
Russians Given Free Land in Country's Far EastThe Moscow Times (registration)

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US, Russia compete to woo Syrian Kurds - Al-Monitor

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Al-Monitor

US, Russia compete to woo Syrian Kurds
Al-Monitor
Nowadays, one of the least enviable positions in Washington is that of a government spokesperson who is required to give daily briefings to the media. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a frequent critic, recently lashed out against US policy ...

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U.S. Navy Chief Says Buzzing By Russian Jets Raises Tensions In Baltics

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Russian jets pilots are escalating tensions with the West by buzzing U.S. military targets in the Baltics, the U.S. chief of naval operations said on May 2.
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Davutoglu’s future hangs on success of EU-Turkey visa deal

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Prime minister’s initiative fuels talk of a rift with a president eager for more power

What is World Press Freedom Day?

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What is World Press Freedom Day? Global observance that stresses that freedom of information is a fundamental human right, weighs the state of press freedom around the world, and is a reminder that in dozens of countries, publications are censored, fined and closed down, while journalists and editors are harassed, attacked, detained and sometimes murdered. Why May 3? Date adopted by United Nations in 1993; commemorates the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek. What is the Declaration of Windhoek? A statement of free press principles put together by newspaper journalists in Africa during a UNESCO seminar on "Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press" in Windhoek, Namibia, in 1991. What does it do? Declaration of Windhoek calls for free, independent, pluralistic media worldwide, characterizing free press as essential to democracy and as a fundamental human right. Milestones recognized on May 3, 2016 • 250th anniversary of the world’s first freedom of information law, covering both modern-day Sweden and Finland • 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Windhoek of press freedom principles in Namibia. • First year of the 15-year life cycle of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of goals adopted September 25, 2015, to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. WPFD conference May 2-4, 2016, held in Helsinki, Finland, and being organized by UNESCO and Finnish Ministry for Education and Culture UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize Awarded to Khadija Ismayilova, an investigative journalist from Azerbaijan. Ismayilova served for two years as the Baku bureau chief for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani service, Radio Azadliq. Ismayilova was initially arrested and jailed on December 5, 2014, on libel charges that international human rights groups said were trumped up. She was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison on charges relating to abuse of power and tax evasion. Human Rights Watch described the proceedings as a politically motivated prosecution, flawed trial, and a campaign to discredit her. “Khadija Ismayilova highly deserves the prize and I am happy to see that her courage and professionalism are recognized,” said Ljiljana Zurovac, president of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2016 Jury. The award is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper, El Espectador, in Bogotá in December 1986, after speaking out against drug cartels. Sources: UNESCO, Freedom House

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Key Findings of Freedom of the Press Report

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Freedom of the Press is an annual report on media independence around the world, produced by Freedom House, a watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world. The report assesses the degree of print, broadcast and digital media freedom in 199 countries and territories. Freedom of the Press 2016, key findings • Press freedom in 2015 declined to lowest point in 12 years. • Report blames political, criminal and terrorist forces behind efforts to silence media. • Loss of press freedom primarily linked to heightened partisanship in many countries, and the degree of extralegal intimidation and physical violence faced by journalists. What is a free press? Area where political news is robust, safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures. Media access 31: percentage of countries with a free press 36: percentage with a partly free press 33: percentage with no free press 13: percentage of world's population that lives with a free press 41: percentage that lives with a partly free press 46: percentage that lives with no free press 10 worst countries and territories Belarus, Crimea, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan Countries with largest 1-year decline in press freedom Bangladesh, Turkey, Burundi, France, Serbia, Yemen, Egypt, Macedonia and Zimbabwe Nauru Report cites the tiny Pacific island nation as the country with the largest loss of press freedom because it began assessing thousands of dollars in fees against journalists wanting to enter the country or blocking their entry altogether, apparently in an effort to silence reports about migrants being held in Nauru who are seeking asylum in Australia. Bright points in report Report found two countries moved to ease restrictions on journalists in 2015. Sri Lanka: After new government was installed, fewer threats and attacks aimed at journalists, and blocks against Internet websites were lifted. Burkina Faso: Officials dropped prison sentences as punishment for libel, and state interference in news content was curtailed, the report found. Dangerous issues for media coverage • Organized crime • Corruption • Environment/land development • Religion • Disputed Sovereignty • Lese-majeste (injured magesty) Countries to watch The report attributed the declines to a rise in the authoritarian nature of some governments, such as those in Tajikistan, Egypt and Turkey; security situations that have become more dangerous, such as in Libya, Yemen and Burundi; blasphemy laws, such as in Brunei, and tighter government control of state-owned media, such as Poland. 72: Number of countries showing a decline in freedom for the year 43: Number of countries that made gains. Middle East and North Africa region: Received the worst ratings for press freedom, followed closely by Eurasia. Freedom on the Net Report Internet freedom declined for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, report finds. More governments • Censored information of public interest • Expanded surveillance • Cracked down on privacy tools Source: Freedom of the Press 2016, Freedom House

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US: Journalists Around the World Never in More Peril

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A journalist jailed in Uzbekistan since 1999. A Sudanese editor-in-chief arrested after she criticized official policies. Both are among the journalists whose plights are spotlighted by the U.S. for World Press Freedom Day. The State Department is marking World Press Freedom Day, May 3, by drawing attention to the ongoing detentions and alleged human rights abuses against journalists that it has previously identified as being "censored, attacked, threatened, imprisoned, or otherwise oppressed because of their reporting" and  whose situations have not yet improved. The cases are being profiled on www.HumanRights.gov and tweeted out using the hashtag #FreethePress. Among those featured is Muhammad Bekjanov, one of world’s longest-imprisoned journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The group said Bekjanov, the editor of a now defunct opposition newspaper, has been jailed by Uzbek authorities for over a decade on “trumped up charges.” Authorities believe his health has severely deteriorated and that he is in urgent need of medical care. Journalists under threat The State Department has also publicized the case of Madeeha Abdalla, an editor-in-chief targeted by Sudanese authorities for criticizing official policies. She was arrested in 2015 on charges that include conspiracy, undermining constitutional order and publishing false information – charges that could carry the death penalty, if she is convicted. “Journalists around the world, particularly in countries undergoing conflict and political repression, are under threat today like no other time in history,” said Tom Malinowski, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. In a VOA interview, he said more than 70 journalists were killed around the world, last year, while “doing their jobs,” and nearly 200 were imprisoned. “It is an epidemic that we would like to see diminished,” he said. Malinowski said journalists were often most vulnerable to unlawful detentions and other human rights abuses in countries that are in crises or in conflict. He cited Syria, Yemen, Burundi, Turkey and Libya as examples of places that are especially dangerous for the press now. The journalists profiled by the State Department are as follows: Cuba – Jose Antonio Torres: Journalist for official Communist daily, Granma. Arrested in 2011 after the newspaper published his report on government mismanagement. Received 14-year prison sentence for alleged spying. Uzbekistan – Muhammad Bekjanov: Jailed in 1999. Received additional five-year sentence shortly before scheduled release in 2012 for allegedly violating prison rules. Iran – Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand: Human rights activist and founder of weekly publication, Payam-e-Mardom, who has been in Evin prison since 2007. Charged with acting against national security and engaging in propaganda against the state, following reports on alleged torture in Iranian prisons and human rights abuses against Iranian Kurds. Ethiopia – Woubishet Taye: Deputy editor-in-chief of Amharac-language Awramba Times. Found guilty on terrorism-related charges. A non-governmental organization said arrest followed a column he wrote critical of the ruling party. Sudan – Madeeha Abdallah: Editor-in-chief was arrested by security forces in 2015 for criticizing official policies.  If convicted, could face death penalty for charges that include conspiracy, undermining constitutional order and urging the opposition to use violence and force against government. Russia – Sergei Reznik: Journalist, blogger imprisoned since 2013 after writing articles critical of municipal and regional authorities and local corruption and abuses. Unidentified men beat him with baseball bats and shot at him a month before conviction.

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Russian Creator Of 'Gozi' Virus Ordered To Pay $6.9 MIllion Restitution

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A Russian man who spent three years in jail in the United States for creating a vicious computer virus was spared further prison time but ordered to pay $6.9 million to cover losses to bank customers.

Lavrov Meets With UN Syrian Envoy May 3 To Discuss Truce Efforts

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The United Nations' special envoy for Syria travels to Moscow on May 3 to try to further efforts to re-establish a peace process and cease-fire in Syria.
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IS Threatens to Publish British Military Secrets

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Islamic State has claimed to have hacked Britain's Ministry of Defense and threatened to publish details of British military personnel. The group, which calls itself the "Islamic State Hacking Division," made the claim after having published a "hit list" of over 70 U.S. military personnel online. "In our next leak we may even disclose secret intelligence the Islamic State has just received from a source the brothers in the UK have spent some time acquiring from the Ministry of Defense in London as we slowly and secretly infiltrate England and the USA online and off," the group said in its online statement. Claims that Britain's Defense Ministry was hacked are unverified and both British and U.S. officials have declined to comment on their authenticity. Experts have suggested that the list of U.S. military personnel released in March was compiled from open source data such as news articles and military newsletters.

US Sentences Proponent of 'Hacker-for-Hire' Cybercrime

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Nearly a decade ago, computer security experts found a new kind of malicious software that would eventually infect more than 1 million computers in the United States and Europe and cause tens of millions of dollars in damages. On Monday, a U.S. federal court sentenced Russian national Nikita Kuzmin on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud and computer intrusion for creating the software, named Gozi, and selling it to hackers who used it to steal money from bank accounts. Prosecutors said Kuzmin "committed this crime purely out of greed" and helped pioneer a new kind of cybercrime that has become more prevalent in recent years. "In renting the malware to others, Kuzmin made it widely accessible to criminals, in other words, to criminals who do not or need not have sophisticated computer science skills like Kuzmin and his Gozi co-creators," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a letter to the court.  "From this perspective, Kuzmin's crime is particularly significant." Under that model, malicious coders have expanded their reach from their own schemes to those imagined by anyone who wants to commit a cybercrime, even if they do not know how. Gozi came to a user's computer through a file, such as a PDF, that looked normal to them, but once opened set the malware loose on the system.  Because it was difficult for anti-virus software to detect, people had no idea the software was running, leaving their activities, such as logging into their account at a bank's website, free for Gozi to collect and send back to the hackers. Prosecutors said security experts identified 10,000 account records from more than 5,200 people, which included login information for accounts with hundreds of companies.  The infected computers included hundreds at the U.S. space agency NASA. Kuzmin said he did not partake in stealing bank account information himself.  He made money by renting use of Gozi to others and by collecting a portion of whatever they later stole with it.  According to court documents, Kuzmin estimated he made at least $250,000. The court said Kuzmin's punishment is the 37 months he has already spent in prison, as well as paying $6.9 million that authorities have identified as the losses incurred by two banks in the U.S. and one in Europe.  Kuzmin earned a lighter sentence after providing "substantial assistance" in the investigation that also led to the conviction of Latvian national Deniss Calovskis and the arrest of Romanian Mihai Ionut Paunescu, who is awaiting extradition to the U.S. But prosecutors say the scale of the crime is far bigger than the losses identified so far. "Unlike most crimes, Kuzmin's crime -- the creation and distribution of harmful malware -- cannot be stopped simply by capturing the perpetrator, as the government has done here.  Because Kuzmin sold the Gozi source code to others, Gozi can be used by others, and it is in fact still in wide use by criminals today," Bharara told the court. Prosecutors noted Kuzmin's computer science education and legitimate business projects in slamming his crimes as greedy. "Kuzmin used his talent and skills to create malware with the single purpose of stealing other people's money, and when he succeeding in doing that, he spent lavish sums on luxury sports cars, and extravagant travel and entertainment in Europe and Russia."

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Gotta shoot 'em, Trump says – as Pentagon downplays Russian warplane encounters - RT

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RT

Gotta shoot 'em, Trump says – as Pentagon downplays Russian warplane encounters
RT
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has said US may have to shoot down Russianwarplanes approaching American military assets. Meanwhile, the Pentagon said such encounters were meant by Russia to send a signal rather than to provoke. 
Trump Says US Should Shoot Russian Planes If Diplomacy FailsNewsweek

all 6 news articles »

London mayoral election marked by ugly accusations

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The race pits two members of Parliament, Labour and Conservative, against each other.





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Turkish MPs May be Stripped of Immunity

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Punches and water were thrown during a Turkish parliamentary committee meeting late Monday night before a bill that would strip deputies of their immunity from prosecution was passed. As the committee discussed the bill, which members of the pro-Kurdish opposition say is designed to target them and suppress dissent, fights broke out between members of the ruling AK party and the pro-Kurdish people's party (HDP). Witnesses say multiple deputies exchanged kicks and punches and some threw water at their opponents. The HDP subsequently withdrew from the meeting, allowing the three remaining parties to pass the bill. The measure will now go to the full parliament for debate. President Tayyip Erdogan, founder of the AKP, has called for prosecution of some HDP members, accusing them of being connected to the outlawed militant group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Currently Turkish lawmakers are immune from prosecution while in office. The police can file "dossiers" against politicians which may lead to a legal process only after their term in parliament has ended.

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Turkey: A Nation Divided -- Ethnicity (Part 3)

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After 1,000 years of generally peaceful coexistence, Turkey’s Turkish and Kurdish communities wake up to a consciousness of difference

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NATO Facing a Game of Thrones Scenario From Russia - American Spectator

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American Spectator

NATO Facing a Game of Thrones Scenario From Russia
American Spectator
Relations between NATO and Russia have been spiraling downward in recent years beginning with the annexation of Crimea. The recent buzzing of a U.S. naval vessel in the Baltic Sea and tough talk from the Russian Ambassador to NATO turned up the ...

Колонна военной техники США пересекла границу Молдавии - РБК

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РБК

Колонна военной техники США пересекла границу Молдавии
РБК
Американские военные и бронетехника въехали на территорию Молдавии. Им пытались помешать социалисты, протестующие против появления в стране солдат НАТО. Колонна американской бронетехники вошла на территорию Молдавии для участия в учениях Dragon Pioneer 2016.
Оппозиция Молдавии заблокировала на границе прибывших на учения военных СШАГазета.Ru
Молдавские социалисты заблокировали движение военной техники США на въезде в странуВзгляд
Молдавская оппозиция заблокировала на границе прибывших на учения военных СШАТАСС
Интерфакс -Известия -TOP News.RU -News Front - новости Новороссии, ЛНР, ДНР
Все похожие статьи: 41 »

Azerbaijani Journalists Refuse To Be Silenced

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On World Press Freedom Day 2016, RFE/RL spotlights attacks on press freedom in Azerbaijan, including the forced closure of RFE/RL’s Baku Bureau and the imprisonment of investigative journalist and RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova. Winner of the 2016 UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, Ismayilova is serving a 7 ½ year prison sentence after being convicted on charges rights groups say are retribution for her reporting on corruption involving senior government officials....

Committee Passes Bill Aimed At Stripping Immunity Of Turkish Deputies

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A Turkish parliamentary committee has approved a bill that would strip deputies of immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for a constitutional amendment that would allow terrorism charges to be filed against deputies from the pro-Kurdish opposition.

UN Envoy Goes to Russia in Bid to Relaunch Syria Cease-fire

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The effort to get Syria's warring sides to recommit to a cessation of hostilities shifts Tuesday to Moscow where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is hosting the U.N.'s envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to discuss ways to put the truce back in place. The cease-fire between pro-government forces and rebel fighters went into effect in late February, leading to a dramatic drop in violence that has slowly eroded as both sides alleged repeated violations. The fighting has been worst around the northern city of Aleppo where government airstrikes and rebel shelling have killed hundreds of people during the past week. Lavrov's office said he spoke by telephone Monday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and that they both urged all sides to "strictly observe the cease-fire." The call followed Kerry's own meeting with de Mistura in Geneva where he said the United States and its partners are discussing "several proposals" to stop the spiraling violence." Kerry did not specify what those proposals are. News agencies quoted U.S. officials who requested anonymity as saying the United States is considering mapping out “safe zones” marked by “hard lines” that would provide refuge for civilians and members of the moderate opposition. No help from Russia Getting Russia’s support has been key but elusive for Kerry, who has called for Moscow’s help in getting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces to stop their assault on rebel-held parts of Syria’s largest city. “There are several proposals that are now going back to key players to sign off,” Kerry said after his meetings Monday with de Mistura and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. “We are hopeful but we are not there yet,” Kerry said, adding the U.S. and its partners “are going to work very hard in the next 24 hours, 48 hours to get there.” Kerry said an agreement on Aleppo could be announced in the coming days. For the United States, it is important to show it has not given up on resolving the five-year-old conflict, but there are questions on whether a low level of U.S. commitment has resulted in a Russian victory in the region as the Russian-backed Syrian government forces retake large swaths of land. “We’re in a kind of phase in the conflict where there are ongoing battles for advantage happening,” David Butter, a Middle East analyst at Chatham House in London, told VOA. “Of course, the momentum is very much on the Assad regime.” Key battle The battle for Aleppo is key at a time when the conflict has become a test of U.S. commitment in the region. Kerry arranged the trip after it became clear the humanitarian situation in the city was deteriorating rapidly and as proximity talks between the Assad government and the moderate opposition failed. Scenes of escalating violence and atrocities committed against civilians are an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate a leadership role in resolving the conflict, analysts say. As Syrian forces prepared the latest assault on Aleppo two weeks ago, Russia had successfully portrayed the efforts as a counter-terrorist operation to strike at the al-Nusra Front, which the United States and Russia consider a terrorist group. Analysts note that U.S. officials, intentionally or not, were interpreted as being unopposed to the Aleppo operation before it began. U.S. military officials were quoted as saying the al-Nusra front was a major dominant force in the city and “not part” of the cease-fire.  The perception changed when an airstrike hit Aleppo’s al Quds hospital, a facility supported by the group Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) killing several children and medical staff, including one of the city’s remaining pediatricians. The incident outraged Kerry and analysts say it was an opportunity for the U.S. to step up its efforts to change any perception that it was not taking an active enough role in resolving the Syrian conflict. US needs to show commitment Demonstrating the U.S. administration’s commitment to fulfill promises remains a major task for Kerry. “[President] Obama set the tone by talking quite a big game on Syria, but not having any strategic commitments. Because the U.S. hasn’t really invested, it’s not got much to lose except as a non-actor,” said analyst David Butter. Jasmine Gani, an analyst at the Center for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, told VOA that perceptions of U.S. legitimacy in the region hang in the balance as a result of what she calls a “mismatched rhetoric and policy.” She says Washington raised expectations by calling for Assad’s exit early in the conflict and then failed to provide the support needed to carry out that aim. With Russia now figuring strongly in the equation, Gani said the U.S. “has to be a lot more careful as to what it puts its commitment to. In the past, it was not such a problem, but the shift of dynamics in global power means there is greater scrutiny on the United States to fulfill its promises.”

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Study Finds Bribery, Corruption Rampant in Mideast and North Africa 

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Roughly 1 in 3 people in the Mideast and North Africa have had to pay a bribe for a public service, a watchdog group said Tuesday. In the report released by Transparency International, researchers found that bribes are commonly used to obtain public services, in court systems, and among regional police, as well as for medical services, identity documents, permits, electricity, and water. A majority of respondents felt that corruption is getting worse. The Berlin-based anti-corruption group surveyed nearly 11,000 adults in 9 countries and found bribery rampant. About half of respondents in Egypt, Morocco, and Sudan said they had paid bribes for public services. People were also interviewed in Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, and Yemen. Surveys in Yemen, which were conducted before Saudi Airstrikes which led to war in March 2015, showed that 77% of citizens said they had to pay a bribe in order to receive public services. Across the nine countries, courts fare worst for bribery, with 1/3 of respondents who have dealt with the courts reporting that they have had to pay bribes. Police are not much better, with one in four respondents reporting having bribed police officers. Only 1 in 5 respondents said they had reported having to pay bribes, and 2 in 5 of those who did report corruption said they have faced retaliation. Public anger over corruption and lack of transparency fueled the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 which ousted leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya. But the hope that followed this movement is overshadowed by the continuing corruption. "It's as if the Arab Spring never happened," Transparency International's chief Jose Ugaz said in a statement accompanying the report. Transparency International has urged all nine national governments to prosecute corruption as well as promote freedom of the press and establish independent anti-corruption commissions.

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Russia Declines to Ask Syria to Halt Bombardment of East Aleppo (Video) - Truthdig

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Truthdig

Russia Declines to Ask Syria to Halt Bombardment of East Aleppo (Video)
Truthdig
Question: Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced criticism over the airstrikes carried out by Russia in Syria, leaving the impression that relations between Russia and Germany have deteriorated. How can they be improved? Sergey Lavrov: I cannot ...
Russia, US to Coordinate New Steps to End Syria ConflictWall Street Journal
UN Envoy Goes to Russia in Bid to Relaunch Syria Cease-fireVoice of America
Kerry says talks with Russia seek to separate rival forces in SyriaWashington Post
BBC News -Financial Times -CBS News
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Syria conflict: UN presses Russia to help save truce - BBC News

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BBC News

Syria conflict: UN presses Russia to help save truce
BBC News
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura is to meet Russia's foreign minister to discuss efforts to salvage the crumbling cessation of hostilities in Syria. Mr de Mistura wants Russia and the US, which back opposing sides in the war, to work together to restore the ... 
UN Envoy Goes to Russia in Bid to Relaunch Syria Cease-fireVoice of America

Russia Declines to Ask Syria to Halt Bombardment of East Aleppo (Video)Truthdig
Kerry says talks with Russia seek to separate rival forces in SyriaWashington Post 
Wall Street Journal
 -Financial Times-CBS News

all 508 news articles »

Spain Issues Warrants For Top Russian Officials, Putin Insiders

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A Spanish judge has issued international arrest warrants for several Russian political figures and former government officials closely linked to President Vladimir Putin.

Trump Says Russian Planes Should Be Shot Down 'At Certain Point' 

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Controversial U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for Russian aircraft showing a 'lack of respect' for America to be shot down 'at a certain point,' the Buzzfeed website reported Tuesday.

China and Russia to Hold Joint Military Drills - The Moscow Times (registration)

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The Moscow Times (registration)

China and Russia to Hold Joint Military Drills
The Moscow Times (registration)
Moscow and Beijing are to hold their first computer-assisted missile defense drill in May, the TASS news agency reported Tuesday. Russia's Defense Ministry announced in a press release that the exercise will use “the combined operations of Russian and ...

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The Morning Vertical, May 3, 2016 

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ON MY MIND
NATO is planning on rotating four battalions through front-line states in the east. The European Union has significantly reduced its dependency on Russian energy supplies. Two items from today’s Morning Vertical that illustrate ways in which the West is moving to address both the kinetic and nonkinetic threat emanating from Moscow. Two developments that show how the world has changed in the past couple years.Two signs that Vladimir Putin’s regime has — through its actions in Ukraine and elsewhere — created a hostile environment in its neighborhood. The Putin regime will continue to play brinksmanship games with its military. And it will continue to use the energy weapon to play divide and conquer in Europe. But its ability to do so is steadily diminishing. The tectonic plates of European security are shifting. And they are not shifting in Moscow’s favor.
IN THE NEWS
U.S. troops are in in Moldova for joint military exercises.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets the UN’s special envoy for Syria in Moscow today.
NATO is considering rotating four battalions in Eastern Europe to deter Russia.
U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti takes over as Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, replacing U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove.
Outgoing NATO commander Breedlove, meanwhile, has called for a sharper focus on Russia.
Vladimir Putin has signed a law giving Russians free plots of land in the Far East.
Two Ukrainian energy firms are turning to the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration to recover lossesresulting from Russia’s forceful annexation of Crimea.
Estonia hopes to complete a 70 million-euro fence along its border with Russia by 2018.
WHAT I’M READING
Russia’s Gas Games
Sijbren de Jong looks at Russia’s “empty Gazpromises” in the EUObserver.
“Over the years, Gazprom has perfected a strategy whereby it whets the appetite of Europe’s political and business elite with potentially lucrative pipeline deals, even though the prospects of realizing these projects are often unclear,” de Jong writes.
“How does Gazprom do it? By tempting different countries with promises of turning each of them into a ‘gas hub,’ which creates confusion and division between those who expect billions in transit fees and those who see contradictions between the pipeline project and the policies agreed at EU level.”
Europe’s Gas Success
Meanwhile, Tim Boersma and Michael E. O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution explain why Europe’s energy policy has been a strategic success story.
“For many years, analysts and policymakers have debated the question of Europe’s dependence on natural gas from Russia. Today, this problem is largely solved,” Boersma and O’Hanlon write.
“Russia provides only one-third of Europe’s gas. Importantly, Europe’s internal infrastructure for transporting natural gas in all desired directions has improved greatly. So have its available storage options, as well as its possibilities to import alternatives either by pipeline or in the form of liquefied natural gas. As a result, almost all member states are currently well-positioned to withstand even a worst-case scenario.”
Putin Owned the Boom, Now He Owns the Bust
Andrew Higgins of The New York Times traveled to the northeastern factory town of Pikalevo, where Vladimir Putin famously chastised oligarch Oleg Deripaska for unpaid wages back in 2009.
“Pikalevo, about three hours east of St. Petersburg, and the rest of Russia are now mired in the country’s longest recession since Mr. Putin came to power at the end of 1999, with the World Bank warning last month that the nation’s poverty rate would increase this year to 14.2 percent of the population, ‘undoing nearly a decade’s worth of gains,'” Higgins writers.
Laughing at the Kremlin
In Newsweek, Marc Bennetts writes that humor is thriving in Russiadespite the Kremlin’s best efforts to stifle it.
Late Putinism?
In a blog post for RFE/RL’s Russian Service, political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky argues that the post-Putin succession struggle has already begun.
“In such situations, the powerful clans shift in a standard away from a struggle for influence on the leader to a struggle for positions of power after he is gone,” Piontkovsky writes.
The Crimean Tatars’ Plight
Writing on the Atlantic Council’s website, Eleanor Knott looks at what the banning of the Mejlis means for the Crimean Tatars.
“Those Crimean Tatars who choose to remain in Crimea — around 20,000 have officially left since 2014 — face an increasingly precarious future. Not least because the banning of the Mejlis has substantially limited Crimean Tatars’ main opportunity for recourse against Crimea’s de facto authorities and the Russian regime,” Knott writes.
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Report: Sailors Pay Price as W. African Pirates Shift Tactics

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West African pirates have turned to hostage-taking as regional navies grow more effective at responding to their crimes, a report from an anti-piracy group said on Tuesday. The Gulf of Guinea has become the world’s most dangerous body of water, with pirates carrying out 54 attacks in its waters last year and causing over $700 million in economic damage, according to the report from U.S.-based Oceans Beyond Piracy. Those pirates appear to be changing tactics as navies grow better at apprehending them. “In the past, one of the primary models of Gulf of Guinea piracy was hijacking for cargo theft,” said Matthew Walje, a lead author of the report. But with navies responding more and more quickly to attacks, pirates can no longer spend days looting hijacked ships. “They’ve had to shift towards a faster attack model and kidnap for ransom doesn’t require as much time in order to do that,” Walje said. Piracy has been decreasing globally, and has virtually stopped in the Gulf of Aden, where Somali pirates once hijacked dozens of ships per year. But the the International Maritime Bureau says attacks in the Gulf of Guinea are increasing.  Forty-four sailors were abducted in the first three months of 2016, according to an IMB report released last week, and two of three ship hijackings that have happened globally took place in the Gulf of Guinea. Shipping plays a major role for West African economies like Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, all of which export commodities like oil and cocoa via their seaports. Anti-piracy partnerships The increase in piracy in the waters has attracted the attention of countries like the United States, Britain and France, which have partnered with West African navies to teach them how to better guard their coasts. That strategy seems to be paying off. Walje pointed to an incident in February where a ship hijacked off Ivory Coast was chased by warships from the U.S., Togo and Ghana, before Nigerian sailors eventually retook it. “The region has gotten better at responding to these incidents, and it is working between the different nations to do handoffs and to ensure that each of the different maritime security institutions is informed and able to act,” Walje said. With pirates shifting tactics, sailors are paying the price. Twenty-three people were killed in piracy incidents last year, the Oceans Beyond Piracy report said.  Walje said some sailors who were kidnapped were beaten or subject to mock executions. Most sailors are released only after a ransom is paid. Nigeria has been at the center of this high-seas crime wave. Many of the sailors who were kidnapped have been taken to its restive Niger Delta region and the pirates themselves are thought to come from the region. The Delta has long struggled with crime and kidnapping, along with tensions between local communities and the petroleum companies that pump oil from the region. President Muhammadu Buhari made shaking up Nigeria’s security services a priority after he took office last year. Even though piracy jumped in 2015, Walje said those security reforms could make Nigeria’s — and West Africa’s — coasts safer in the future. “The response is getting better,” he said. “This may be a temporary uptick during a period of transition.”

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Facial recognition app used to shame sex workers in Russia - Mashable

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Mashable

Facial recognition app used to shame sex workers in Russia
Mashable
Sex workers and pornography actresses in Russia are being identified through a facial recognition app and then harassed online. It's a sad and sadly inevitable use of such technology, which has already become relatively ubiquitous through photo ...

Illusion of Free Media Hides Threats to Journalists in Pakistan

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Television news channels have sprouted all over Pakistan since former president and military leader Pervez Musharraf opened up the broadcast landscape to private channels in the early 2000s.   Political debates, criticism of the government, and excited anchors shouting every new piece of information as “breaking news” now give the impression of a bold, free, and vibrant media.  But many journalists working in Pakistan tell a different story.   “The establishment has almost taken over the editorial policy of most of the media houses,” said Mohammad Ziauddin, former executive editor of the Express Tribune English language newspaper and a journalist with almost five decades of experience.  In Pakistan, the word "establishment" is used for the country’s military and its powerful intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence or the ISI.   Attacks in 2014 on two famous Pakistani journalists, Hamid Mir and Raza Rumi, were the turning point that led to this presumed takeover, according to Bob Dietz, the Asia program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists. Mir suffered six bullet wounds when gunmen opened fire on his car.  Rumi was unhurt, but his driver was killed.  The attacks, many believed, were supposed to send a message to the larger journalism community.   “The intelligence services sent a really strong message to journalists, and most are toeing the government line at this point,” Dietz said, adding that Pakistani journalists admit quite openly they self-censor for fear of retribution.   After the attack on Mir, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered an inquiry commission consisting of three Supreme Court justices.  Two years later, its report still has not been made public.   An unofficial version, leaked on social media, suggested the police never properly investigated the case.  But no one, including the government, is willing to take responsibility for that report.   Meanwhile, Mir complained the harassment continued in the form of trumped up court cases against him and his boss, the owner of Jang media group Mir Shakeelur Rehman, and in veiled threats that any out-of-line remark could get his channel taken off the air and put his colleagues’ livelihoods at risk.   Rumi left Pakistan soon after the attack and has not returned.   Pakistan's military spokesman did not respond to requests for an interview. Extremists as threat to free media But the military or its intelligence services are hardly the only ones seen as behind the harassment of journalists.  Militants and extremist groups pose another big threat.     Journalists who cover the militancy or are based in restive areas of the country, like Balochistan province or the northern tribal areas near Afghanistan’s border, are particularly vulnerable.   VOA Deewa Service reporter Adnan Bitani had to leave his home in the tribal areas for several months when the Pakistani Taliban threatened to kill him.   “They said I did not give their version or insulted their women because I interviewed tribal women for my stories,” Bitani recalled.      Other local journalists intervened to mediate.  Bitani eventually went back, but has since become cautious.  He tries to avoid militancy-related stories and instead focuses on social issues.   “I’m doing a job, but it’s not journalism,” he complained.   He said the pressure came from both sides.  The militants wanted their version of the story, while the military, which was fighting a war against militants in tribal areas, blocked access to large swathes of territory so that their version could not be independently verified.   Threats to journalists are rather well known and recorded by international media monitors like the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) or Reporters Without Borders. Two types of media What few outside Pakistani media talk about is the pressure that comes from media ownership.   Mazhar Abbas, a former secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and a 2007 winner of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, divided Pakistani media owners into two groups - those that have been in the industry for decades and those that are the newcomers.   The newcomers, Abbas said, are not interested in media ethics or good journalism.  They are mostly businessmen who want to use media as a tool to protect their business interests.   Recently, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), a government body established to regulate private TV channels, has started asserting itself in ways that makes Dietz uncomfortable.  Amnesty International’s 2015-16 report on Pakistan said PEMRA issued warnings to the media against airing reports deemed critical of Saudi Arabia.   Pakistan’s prime minister is known to have a close relationship with the Saudi royal family.   A senior PEMRA official, however, said his organization’s only goal was to enforce the “Code of Conduct” devised by the government in consensus with the broadcasters.   Some things in Pakistan have improved nonetheless. A ban on YouTube was lifted after several years, and awareness about attacks on journalists has increased.     A new group called Editors for Safety was created to spread timely information about attacks or dangerous situations and to try to coordinate media coverage.   Dietz thought that was the best way forward.   “I think for journalists at large in Pakistan, what’s going to work best is when they organize themselves and unify to try and establish responses to these threats, these killings.  I don’t think you can count on the civilian government, nor can you count on the military.”

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Jailed Iranian Activist Given Press Freedom Award In Absentia

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On the eve of World Press Freedom Day, Reporters Without Borders honored imprisoned Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi at an event in Paris. Mohammadi's husband, Tagi Rahmani, who lives in exile in France, collected the "Heroes of Information" award on behalf of his wife at the May 2 ceremony.

Can Iran Trust Russia? - The National Interest Online

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The National Interest Online

Can Iran Trust Russia?
The National Interest Online
At the same time, Khamenei has been presenting a completely positive image of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Yet even a glance at Iran's history over the past two hundred years indicates that Russia has harmed Iran repeatedly including, ...

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Russia's crackdown on Salafis may be breeding extremism - The Economist

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The Economist

Russia's crackdown on Salafis may be breeding extremism
The Economist
“One said: 'Get on your knees,'” Mr Magomedov later told a member of Russia's prison oversight committee, who shared details of their conversation with The Economist. “I said, I won't get on my knees.” The men beat Mr Magomedov, sending a clear signal ...

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Warrants Issued for Russian Officials Suspected of Mafia Ties in Spain 

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Spanish authorities have issued an arrest warrant for several high-ranking Russian officials suspected of mafia ties in the country, the Rosbalt.ru news website reported Tuesday.

Defense chief blasts Russia's aggressive actions and 'saber rattling' - USA TODAY

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USA TODAY

Defense chief blasts Russia's aggressive actions and 'saber rattling'
USA TODAY
STUTTGART, Germany — Defense Secretary Ashton Carter delivered a stern message Tuesday to Russia: the country has violated international norms with its aggressive actions and “saber-rattling.” “Russia has in recent years appeared intent to erode the ...
U.S., NATO Look to Combat an Aggressive RussiaU.S. News & World Report
Ash Carter Accuses Russia of 'Nuclear Saber-Rattling'ABC News
NATO considering thousands of troops near Russia's borderWashington Post
Rasmussen Reports -Hot Air
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Pakistan: No Military Action Against Afghan Taliban on Its Soil

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Pakistan is rejecting Afghan demands for military action against Taliban commanders within Pakistan and emphasizes the need to continue talks for a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan. In Islamabad Tuesday, Pakistani foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz dismissed demands by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that Pakistan evict Taliban insurgents through military action or arrest and hand them over to Kabul for trial and punishment for killing innocent Afghans. Ghani recently announced that Afghanistan will not seek Pakistan's help in arranging reconciliation talks with the Taliban. Aziz called Afghan outrage at Pakistan an expression of frustration because they (Afghan leaders) were expecting reconciliation talks would have started by now and led to a reduction in violence. He said it is unfortunate the Taliban has gone ahead with its spring offensive and negotiations have also not started. The Pakistani adviser, however, also said the insurgency has been unable to make significant advances in the fighting and has not captured any territory. He said that if stability persists on the battlefield, it could push the Taliban to the talks with the Afghan government.  Aziz said Pakistan has not yet come to that stage because officials believe it is premature; but Afghanistan is pushing Pakistan to urgently examine and take action against Taliban leaders. Aziz added that Islamabad is telling Kabul the military option has been applied since 2001 but has not ended the Afghan conflict, referring to the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.  He said, “The reconciliation option cannot materialize in just two to four weeks and should be given due time because it is the only way to bring peace to Afghanistan.”  Peaceful resolution Aziz said Pakistan will continue to pursue efforts together with the United States and China for a peaceful resolution of the Afghan war. He added that a Taliban delegation from its political office in Qatar also visited Pakistan last week as part of the “exploratory contacts” Islamabad is making to facilitate Afghan peace talks.  The Pakistani official said Beijing, Washington and even negotiators from Afghanistan’s High Peace Council also maintain contacts with the Taliban’s Qatar office and are using them to promote the peace and reconciliation process.  Kabul has criticized Islamabad for allowing the Taliban to send a delegation to Islamabad, saying “a terrorist group” should not have been allowed to do so.  Kabul hardened its stance toward reconciliation talks and relations with Pakistan after a deadly bomb-and-gun assault in the Afghan capital on April 19 left nearly 70 people dead and around 350 others wounded. After the Kabul attack, the Afghan government accused Islamabad of not acting against the Taliban and militants linked to the Haqqani network that Kabul alleges used Pakistani soil to plot the assault and other insurgent violence in Afghanistan. Haqqanis have ties to the Pakistani spy agency, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Backs German Plan To Send Troops To Lithuania

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U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has given his backing to German plans to send troops to Lithuania to reassure NATO’s Eastern European allies wary of a resurgent Russia.

Putinfellas 

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Thanks to a Spanish investigation, the mask is coming off Vladimir Putin's mafia statecraft.

Portuguese Police Raid Soccer Clubs In Probe Possibly Linked To Russian Crime

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Police in Portugal have carried out searches at several soccer clubs as part of a probe into suspected money laundering with possible links to Russian crime.
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‘New Russians’ a Greater Threat to Russia than Any Fifth Column, Mironov Says 

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 3 – Sergey Mironov of the Just Russia Party says that most Russians have stopped telling “New Russian” jokes that were common in the 1990s but that the phenomenon they described remains and in today’s tough economic times is becoming a greater threat to national unity than any CIA-organized “fifth column.”

            That is because, he argues, tensions between the impoverished majority and the rich minority are growing, with “the poor getting poorer while the rich get richer,” tensions that are being provoked by the often outrageous behavior of the rich are just below the surface but could easily explode (politobzor.net/show-91508-yadovitye-semena-socialnoy-rozni.html).

            At the very least, Mironov says, “the division of society on the basis of wealth can be a barrier to a return to economic growth; and what is stil worse it destroys the idea of a social state and pushes the country into fixed strata where all the population is divided between a privileged caste and a mass of disadvantaged ones.”

            Unfortunately, many of the latter, who are often called “’nishebrod’” and who are characterized by “not having a car or only having one produced domestically, by not travelling abroad for vacations,  by wearing cheap clothes, and having credit card debt,” among other things, are being told that they are to blame for their situation, something many have accepted.”

            The powers that be might be able to keep all this under control were it not for the vulgar displays of wealth and of contempt for those with less money and power by the new Russians. Ordinary people may have stopped telling “new Russian jokes,” Mironov says. They are out of fashion – but only because the new Russians have become such an ordinary part of Russian life.

            But ordinary Russians – the overwhelming majority who are classed by commentators as “’the nishebrod’” – are infuriated by some displays of wealth; and polls show that they believe that extravagant weddings and ceremonies at a time when many are impoverished are wrong and can “lead to the exacerbation of social tensions.”

            Indeed, Mironov insists, it is those who have a lot of money but no sense of what’s appropriate who are “the genuine nishebrods,” people who will do anything for money and who think money is the measure of all things.

            Ordinary working Russians need to be respected and paid better. Much of the wealth of the new Russians, he points out, comes not from the construction of industries but from their destruction and from paying workers truly miserly wages.  One study a decade ago found that because of low pay, Russians actually produce more per dollar of wages than Americans do.

            That has to change, Mironov says, and he and his party are committed to changes like raising pay, on the one hand, and going after excessive displays of wealth and after those who despite everything keep their money and with it their identities abroad and thus do not help the country with the money the country has given them.

            Mironov cites Zbigniew Brzezinskis observation that Russians who keep billions abroad are not Russia’s elite but rather the elites of other countries, and he says that such people “today are more dangerous than ‘a fifth column’ financed by the State Department and the CIA.” Indeed, he says, “this is the Achilles’ heel of Russia” that Russia’s enemies can use against it. 

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Russia: Aleppo Cease-Fire in Syria Could Come Soon

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that a cease-fire could be announced within hours to halt fighting between rebels and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, even as new clashes left at least 14 dead. The Russian diplomat met in Moscow with United Nations envoy Staffan de Mistura, emerging to tell reporters he was hopeful that a truce could be agreed to "in the nearest future, even in the coming hours." De Mistura said moribund Syrian peace talks could be resumed if fighting can be stopped in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial hub where some neighborhoods have been left in rubble. Clashes continue Clashes, however, raged in the northern Syrian city, with state television saying that dozens of people had been killed by at least 65 rebel rocket attacks on government-held neighborhoods. One rocket hit a maternity hospital, killing three people.Other attacks killed at least 11 others. In the negotiations, Lavrov said he urged U.S. officials to put pressure on moderate rebels to leave territories occupied by Islamic State fighters and al-Nusra Front jihadists. "That is one of the main topics we are discussing with our American colleagues," said Lavrov. In televised remarks, Lavrov said rebels who consider themselves moderate opposition forces trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "should unconditionally break with any terrorist groups, first and foremost with al-Nusra Front." The United States and Russia jointly sponsored a Syrian cease-fire in February in an attempt to end five years of fighting, but in recent weeks it has substantially fallen apart, especially in Aleppo, where more than 270 people have been killed in fighting since April 22. At the start of his meeting with de Mistura, Lavrov said Russia and the United States are both working to strengthen the cease-fire. Lavrov's office said he discussed the situation in a phone call Monday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and that they both urged all sides to "strictly observe" the truce. The call followed Kerry's own meeting with de Mistura in Geneva where he said the United States and its partners are discussing "several proposals" to stop the spiraling violence. Kerry did not specify what those proposals are. News agencies quoted U.S. officials who requested anonymity as saying the United States is considering mapping out “safe zones” marked by “hard lines” that would provide refuge for civilians and members of the moderate opposition.  Looking for help from Russia Getting Russia’s support has been key but elusive for Kerry, who has called for Moscow’s help in getting Assad’s forces to stop their assault on rebel-held parts of Syria’s largest city.  “There are several proposals that are now going back to key players to sign off,” Kerry said after his meetings Monday with de Mistura and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. “We are hopeful but we are not there yet,” Kerry said, adding the U.S. and its partners “are going to work very hard in the next 24 hours, 48 hours to get there.”  Kerry said an agreement on Aleppo could be announced in the coming days.  For the United States, it is important to show it has not given up on resolving the Syrian conflict, but there are questions on whether a low level of U.S. commitment has resulted in a Russian victory in the region as the Russian-backed Syrian government forces retake large swaths of land.  “We’re in a kind of phase in the conflict where there are ongoing battles for advantage happening,” David Butter, a Middle East analyst at Chatham House in London, told VOA. “Of course, the momentum is very much on the Assad regime.” Key battle The battle for Aleppo is key at a time when the conflict has become a test of U.S. commitment in the region.  Kerry arranged the trip after it became clear the humanitarian situation in the city was deteriorating rapidly and as proximity talks between the Assad government and the moderate opposition failed.  Scenes of escalating violence and atrocities committed against civilians are an opportunity for the United States to demonstrate a leadership role in resolving the conflict, analysts say.  As Syrian forces prepared the latest assault on Aleppo two weeks ago, Russia had successfully portrayed the efforts as a counter-terrorist operation to strike at the al-Nusra Front, which the United States and Russia consider a terrorist group. Analysts note that U.S. officials, intentionally or not, were interpreted as being unopposed to the Aleppo operation before it began. U.S. military officials were quoted as saying the al-Nusra front was a major dominant force in the city and “not part” of the cease-fire. The perception changed when an airstrike hit Aleppo’s al Quds hospital, a facility supported by the international charity Doctors Without Borders, killing several children and medical staff, including one of the city’s remaining pediatricians.  The incident outraged Kerry and analysts say it was an opportunity for the U.S. to step up its efforts to change any perception that it was not taking an active enough role in resolving the Syrian civil war.  Major task for U.S. Demonstrating the U.S. administration’s commitment to fulfill promises remains a major task for Kerry.  “[President] Obama set the tone by talking quite a big game on Syria, but not having any strategic commitments. Because the U.S. hasn’t really invested, it’s not got much to lose except as a non-actor,” said analyst Butter.  Jasmine Gani, an analyst at the Center for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, told VOA that perceptions of U.S. legitimacy in the region hang in the balance as a result of what she calls a “mismatched rhetoric and policy.” She said Washington raised expectations by calling for Assad’s exit early in the conflict and then failed to provide the support needed to carry out that aim.  With Russia now figuring strongly in the equation, Gani said the U.S. “has to be a lot more careful as to what it puts its commitment to. In the past, it was not such a problem, but the shift of dynamics in global power means there is greater scrutiny on the United States to fulfill its promises.”

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Freedom of Information Under Threat

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Twenty-five years after the world declared that freedom of information is a fundamental human right, journalists are under increasing threat of official censorship, harassment, imprisonment, and even assassination.

Who Watches the Watchmen? The New Intelligence Oversight

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Out now from Oxford University Press, Global Intelligence Oversight: Governing Security in the Twenty-First Century is a look at the ways that nations around the world supervise their spies. The product of a partnership between NYU School of Law and the Wilson Center, this volume offers case studies that stretch from Israel to Australia, alongside essays on key emerging topics in intelligence, including the rise of powerful, privacy-minded technology companies.

The Rise of the Military Welfare State 

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After the end of the draft, the U.S. Army recruited volunteers who heeded the call to “Be All That You Can Be.” But beneath the recruitment slogans, the army promised soldiers something more tangible: a social safety net of unprecedented size and scope.  The military’s social welfare programs thrived for decades, even as the U.S. dismantled its civilian welfare system.  Yet the programs came under fire in the late 1990s, as opponents of military social welfare fought to outsource and privatize the system and to reinforce “self-reliance” among American soldiers. 

От сирийских переговоров ждут многого Глава МИД РФ и спецпосланник ООН обсудили... 

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От сирийских переговоров ждут многого

Глава МИД РФ и спецпосланник ООН обсудили в Москве перспективы «устойчивого перемирия»

Интенсивная работа, направленная на расширение режима прекращения огня на новые районы, по словам главы МИД РФ, также ведется по линии российских и американских военных. «Военные двух стран (РФ и США.— “Ъ”) находятся буквально в режиме ежедневных контактов, и это взаимодействие, которое сейчас осуществляется путем видеоконференций, приобретает прямой характер»,— сказал господин Лавров, анонсировав создание в Женеве совместного российско-американского центра оперативного реагирования на нарушения режима прекращения огня. Стаффан де Мистура поддержал эту идею.
Подробнее:http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2978888
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Many killed in Aleppo as fierce fighting shatters Syria’s fragile truce | World news | The Guardian 

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Opposition-held area of city at risk of siege as violence erupts days after halt in peace talks and deployment of Russian artillery
Forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad are buoyed by recent battlefield advances, largely the result of massive Russian aerial bombardment of rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian dictator. But progress in recent weeks has been slow with the partial withdrawal of Russian forces ordered by the Kremlin.
Government forces hope to encircle east Aleppo, which is held by the opposition, and are also fighting in the countryside to cut supply lines in the north from Turkey.

Syrian civil war: Hospital in regime-controlled Aleppo partly destroyed by rebel shelling as more civilians killed | Middle East | News | The Independent 

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Rebel areas of Aleppo are almost surrounded by the Syrian regime, leaving only one major road in and out, raising fears that Assad’s forces are preparing to cut it off for a final assault.
al-dabbit-hospital-aleppo-3-map.jpg
A map showing reported regime and rebel attacks in Aleppo on Tuesday. Regime territory, attacks and deaths are shown in red, rebels in green and Kurds in yellow. (Liveuamap)
At least 19 civilians have been killed at a hospital and other parts of government-controlled Aleppo in shelling attributed to Islamist rebels. Al-Dabit Hospital, which lies less than a kilometre from territory held by opposition groups, was partly destroyed on Tuesday, with footage showing its frontage collapsed and overturned cars burning in the street outside. Ikhbariya, a state-run Syrian news channel, said three women were killed and 17 wounded but other reports but the death toll as high as 24.
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Amanpour Calls On Azerbaijan To Release Khadija Ismayilova