Saturday, December 24, 2016

Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher in hospital after heart attack on flight between London and LA | President Obama signs defense bill that could spur new space-based arms race - Los Angeles Times | Why were the polls wrong again in 2016? | Were the pre-election opinion polls DELIBERATELY manipulated by Russians? - Google Search


President-elect Donald Trump holds up Green Bay Packers jersey given to him by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) at a rally Dec. 13 in West Allis, Wis. (Morry Gash/AP) 


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Carrie Fisher - Wikipedia

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Carrie Frances Fisher[1] (born October 21, 1956) is an American actress, writer and novelist. She is best known for her role as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy (1977–83) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).

It’s mostly kumbaya so far for Trump and GOP in Congress

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Militarisation of space - Wikipedia

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The militarisation of space is the placement and development of weaponry and military technology in outer space. The early exploration of space in the mid-20th century had, in part, a military motivation, as the United States and the Soviet Union used it as an opportunity to demonstrate ballistic missile technology and other technologies having the potential for military application. Outer space has since been used as an operating location for military spacecraft such as imaging and communications satellites, and some ballistic missiles pass through outer space during their flight. As yet, however, weapons have not been stationed in space, with the exception of the Almaz space station and small handguns carried by Russian cosmonauts (for post-landing, pre-recovery use).

Space-Based Arms - Google Search

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Story image for Space-Based Arms from Los Angeles Times

President Obama signs defense bill that could spur new space ...

Los Angeles Times-14 hours ago
Leading defense scientists said the idea that a space-based system could .... create “the impetus for a new arms race” with Russia and China.
Story image for Space-Based Arms from Los Angeles Times

Congress scrapped this one word from the law, opening the door to ...

Los Angeles Times-Dec 22, 2016
The language was carefully crafted to avoid reigniting an arms race among the ... A space-based defense program would hinge on annual ...
Story image for Space-Based Arms from New York Magazine

“Let it be a new arms race”: Trump ready for nuclear brinksmanship ...

Hot Air-Dec 23, 2016
Maybe he means we should develop new delivery systems, like space-based platforms. Or maybe he means we should start building new ...
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new space-based arms race - Google Search

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Story image for new space-based arms race from Los Angeles Times

President Obama signs defense bill that could spur new space ...

Los Angeles Times-14 hours ago
Leading defense scientists said the idea that a space-based system could .... create “the impetus for a new arms race” with Russia and China.
Story image for new space-based arms race from Los Angeles Times

Congress scrapped this one word from the law, opening the door to ...

Los Angeles Times-Dec 22, 2016
The language was carefully crafted to avoid reigniting an arms race among ... A space-based defense program would hinge on annual ... He said the new approach would protect both U.S. territory and surveillance satellites.
Story image for new space-based arms race from New York Magazine

“Let it be a new arms race”: Trump ready for nuclear brinksmanship ...

Hot Air-22 hours ago
... him what he meant about “nuclear capability” if not a new arms race, ... we should develop new delivery systems, like space-based platforms.
Story image for new space-based arms race from The Japan Times

Undersea arms race: Seizure of U.S. drone shines spotlight on ...

The Japan Times-Dec 19, 2016
... and space-based surveillance capability together allow for sophisticated .... “That includes new undersea drones — in multiple sizes and ...
Story image for new space-based arms race from Digital Journal

Op-Ed: Deleting one word from U.S. defense bill changes policy

Digital Journal-Dec 22, 2016
This language was carefully crafted in order to avoid an arms race with China ... test and evaluation " of space-based systems for missile defense. ... that the program will create many new jobs and boost the profits and stock ...
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President Obama signs defense bill that could spur new space-based arms race

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President Obama has signed legislation that, by striking a single word from longstanding U.S. nuclear defense policy, could heighten tensions with Russia and China and launch the country on an expensive effort to build space-based defense systems.
The National Defense Authorization Act, a year-end policy bill encompassing virtually every aspect of the U.S. military, contained two provisions with potentially momentous consequences.
One struck the word “limited” from language describing the mission of the country’s homeland missile defense system. The system is designed to thwart a small-scale attack by a non-superpower such as North Korea or Iran.
A related provision calls for the Pentagon to start “research, development, test and evaluation” of space-based systems for missile defense.
Together, the provisions signal that the U.S. will seek to use advanced technology to defeat both small-scale and large-scale nuclear attacks. That could unsettle the decades-old balance of power among the major nuclear states.
Huge bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress approved the policy changes over the past month, with virtually no public debate.
Although the White House had earlier criticized the changes, it stopped short of threatening a veto. On Friday, Obama signed the legislation.
In a four-page signing statement, the president criticized various aspects of the bill, including the structure of a cyber-security command and limits on administrative leave for employees, but said nothing about the changes in nuclear defense policy.
Before Obama’s action, proponents and opponents of the policy changes agreed that they could have dramatic effects.
Leading defense scientists said the idea that a space-based system could provide security against nuclear attack is a fantasy.
“It defies the laws of physics and is not based on science of any kind,” said L. David Montague, a retired president of missile systems for Lockheed Corp. and co-chair of a National Academy of Sciences panel that studied  missile defense technologies at the request of Congress.
“Even if we darken the sky with hundreds or thousands of satellites and interceptors, there’s no way to ensure against a dedicated attack,” Montague said in an interview. “So it’s an opportunity to waste a prodigious amount of money.”
He called the provisions passed by Congress “insanity, pure and simple.”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who introduced and shepherded the policy changes in the House, said he drew inspiration from President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative of the 1980s, which was intended to use lasers and other space-based weaponry to render nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete.” Known as “Star Wars,” the initiative cost taxpayers $30 billion, but no system was ever deployed.
Franks said that striking the word “limited” from the homeland defense system’s mission, and at the same time pursuing a space-based system, would put the U.S. on a path to better safeguard its security. He said the new approach would protect both U.S. territory and surveillance satellites.
“I hope that the day will come when we could have solid-state lasers in space that can defeat any missile attack,” said Franks, who represents suburbs north and west of Phoenix. “That day is a long ways off. But fortunately, it’s a little closer, and a little more certain, with the passage of these amendments.”
The new policy Franks championed says America “should maintain and improve a robust layered missile defense system capable of defending the territory of the United States and its allies against the developing and increasingly complex ballistic missile threat.”
A space-based defense system would hinge on annual congressional appropriations and decisions by the incoming Trump administration.
The National Academy study, released in 2012, concluded that even a bare-bones space-based system would cost about $200 billion to put in place, and hundreds of billions to operate in subsequent years.
Franks, asked whether the country could afford it, replied: “What is national security worth? It’s priceless.”
Philip E. Coyle III, a former assistant secretary of Defense who headed the Pentagon office responsible for testing and evaluating weapon systems, described the idea of a space-based nuclear shield as “a sham.”
“To do this would cost just gazillions and gazillions,” Coyle said. “The technology isn’t at hand — nor is the money. It’s unfortunate from my point of view that the Congress doesn’t see that.”
He added: “Both Russia and China will use it as an excuse to do something that they want to do.”
The word “limited” has guided U.S. policy since the National Missile Defense Act of 1999. The qualifier reflects, in part, the reality that intercepting and destroying incoming warheads is supremely difficult, and that it would be impractical to field enough interceptors to counter a large-scale attack.
The current homeland anti-missile system — the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD — relies on interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Ft. Greely, Alaska. In flight tests, the system, which has cost taxpayers more than $40 billion, has managed to destroy mock enemy warheads only about half the time.
The first of Franks’ amendments — to eliminate “limited” from U.S. policy — was approved in April by the House Armed Services Committee with no debate and without a recorded roll-call vote.
At a committee hearing May 17, a senior Democrat on the panel, Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, offered mild protest.
“I think it was a mistake to mandate a poorly thought out, unaffordable and unrealistic missile defense policy, including plans for a space-based missile deterrent,” Cooper said.
But neither Cooper nor any other House Democrat sought to overturn the provisions,  and he was among those who voted to pass the overall bill the next day.
Franks’ Republican partner on the legislation, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, enjoyed a similarly smooth path.
Deliberations of the Senate Armed Services Committee were closed, forestalling public debate. The legislation was approved by a roll call vote of 16-10, with two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Tim Kaine of Virginia, the party’s eventual vice presidential nominee, joining the Republican majority.
In June, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sought to restore “limited,” saying that the change in U.S. policy would create “the impetus for a new arms race” with Russia and China. Markey offered an amendment on the Senate floor but could not muster enough support to bring it to vote.
The policy changes were greeted with opposition from another quarter as well.  At a congressional hearing in April, Franks pressed Vice Adm. James D. Syring, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, for his stance on expanding American capability into space.
Syring replied: “I have serious concerns about the technical feasibility of the interceptors in space, and I have serious concerns about the long-term affordability of a program like that.”


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JPost.com - Home: Analysis: Israel waiting for Trump, hoping Obama's legacy will be wiped out

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What worries Jerusalem is that the UNSC resolution could turn Israel into a criminal state, like that of South Africa during its apartheid era.


 JPost.com - Home

Analysis: Israel waiting for Trump, hoping Obama's legacy will be wiped out

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What worries Jerusalem is that the UNSC resolution could turn Israel into a criminal state, like that of South Africa during its apartheid era.

Trump’s unpopularity threatens to hobble his presidency

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President-elect Donald Trump will descend on Washington next month, buoyed by his upset victory and Republican control of Congress to implement his agenda.
But he’s facing a major obstacle: Trump will enter the White House as the least-popular incoming president in the modern era of public-opinion polling.
The down-in-the-dumps figures raise hard questions about whether he’ll have the political capital needed to push through his more controversial nominees and his aggressive legislative goals of repealing Obamacare, passing a major infrastructure spending plan and reforming immigration and tax policies.
On Election Day, just 38 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Trump, compared to 60 percent who viewed him favorably — unheard of for a presidential-election victor. (Still, Trump won about 15 percent of the vote among those who had an unfavorable opinion of him.)

While Trump has received a boost in public opinion after his victory, he still badly lags past presidents-elect when it comes to personal favorability. Currently, his average favorable rating stands at 43 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster, while a 49-percent plurality views him unfavorably. More respondents viewed Trump unfavorably than favorably in the most recent batch of public polls from NBC News/Wall Street JournalSuffolk University/USA TodayFox News,CBS News and POLITICO/Morning Consult, all conducted in early- or mid-December.
Compare that with President Barack Obama, who entered 2009 with a 68-percent favorable rating – and only a 21-percent unfavorable rating.
Trump’s persistent and deep unpopularity – combined with the fact that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million ballots – means he lacks the potent argument that the will of the people are behind his agenda.
“He’s clearly not doing as well as other presidents-elect,” said GOP pollster David Winston, a long-time adviser to Republican leaders in both the House and Senate. “We’ve never had a president-elect that had more unfavorables than favorables. He’s started in a pretty big hole in terms of favorables.”
And even though Democrats are in the minority in both chambers of Congress — Republicans will control 241 of 435 House seats and 52 out of 100 Senate seats — the party sees an opening in Trump’s poor poll standing.
“The lack of support for the president-elect means that Democrats can oppose him when they believe they should,” said Jesse Ferguson, the former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee independent-expenditure head who worked as a spokesman for Clinton’s campaign this year. “They can be confident that there’s no pressure for them to support him out of fear of his political prowess and political power, because his coattails look a little more like a T-SHIRT.”

Typically, incoming presidents face little resistance to their executive-branch nominees.
Both Obama and George W. Bush were no exception. They entered with their respective parties in control of both houses of Congress, and in the first years of their presidencies — 2009 and 2001, respectively — a total of 43 executive-branch nominees came before the Senate for roll-call votes, not including nominees approved by voice vote or judicial candidates.
On average, the nominees received 83 votes, while an average of 12 senators from the opposition party voted against the president’s nominee, meaning the appointees generally got an easy ride when it came to vote time.
Moreover, presidents almost always united their own parties. For the 20 Bush nominees on whom the Senate voted in 2001, not a single “no” vote was cast by a Republican senator.
Obama faced scattered opposition by his own party in 2009, but the largest number of Democratic senators to oppose a nominee was five — Cass Sunstein for a regulatory post at the Office of Management and Budget, and Gary Gensler to chair the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — not including Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who voted against both men as well.

The outlook for Trump’s nominees is generally positive, but some have already caused agitation not only among Democrats but also among his fellow Republicans. The loudest intra-party dissent has come in reaction to Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has extensive ties with Russia. That has raised the ire of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), two notable Russia hawks.
But on the whole, Trump should wield some power over the Senate. Of the 52 incoming Republicans in the chamber, only three hail from states that voted against Trump this fall: Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colorado) and Dean Heller (Nevada). And of those, only Heller is up for reelection this year.
By contrast, 11 Senate Democrats represent states that Trump carried in November. And 10 of them are up for reelection.
The House is similarly tilted toward Trump, which could help with his legislative agenda, despite his lack of fulsome support among Americans nationwide. While final calculations are still spending, Trump appears to have won a majority of House districts, despite trailing Clinton by more than 2 percentage points nationally.
That’s because Democrats are more tightly clustered in the nation’s cities, creating some overwhelmingly Democratic districts in which Trump won fewer than 10 percent of the vote. And, more broadly, Republicans drew more of the most-recent congressional maps than Democrats, allowing the GOP to tilt the playing field in its favor for the remainder of the decade.

Many of the House Republicans hail from districts Trump carried by wide margins, though there are a number of Republicans in Clinton districts, especially along the coasts.
Winston, the Republican pollster, said those members won’t necessarily be tracking Trump’s national poll ratings.
“The one number that every member looks at is what is the president’s job-approval rating in my district,” Winston said.
While both chambers of Congress appear daunting for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections – given the cycle’s Senate map and House districts that favor the GOP every two years – Ferguson said voters who backed Trump in this year’s election can flip if they don’t approve of his job performance two years from now.
“It’s not like the districts that Democrats won [in the 2006 midterm elections] to take the House or the Senate were bright blue or even lightly purple,” said Ferguson. “They were districts in North Carolina and districts in Iowa and districts in Alabama. The assumption that just because redistricting has moved the goalposts that you still can’t score … is a false assumption.”
That raises the stakes for Trump and the congressional GOP’s first months next year, Winston said. Voters sent a clear message on Election Day: They are eager for action, and they aren’t afraid to rock the boat again in the next election.
Pointing to modest improvements in Trump’s poll numbers since the election, Winston said, “The obvious challenge to the incoming White House is going to be they’ve got to keep that momentum going.”
“[Voters] want to see things get done,” he added. “Members understand that. They understand that the ball’s now in their court, and they’re going to have to put points on the board. The electorate is looking for things to happen pretty quickly here.”

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Батькивщина: Фантазии Ющенко граничат с психическим заболеванием

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Заявление Ющенко о том, что он был вынужден отдать резиденцию "Межигорье" Януковичу, чтобы там жила Юлия Тимошенко, свидетельствуют о серьезной пропасти между реальностью и фантазий экс-президента.

Putin Says U.S. Anti-Missile Shield Cannot Stop Russian Nuclear Triad

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Russia’s nuclear offensive means are capable of surpassing, at least to date, the anti-missile shield that the United States deploys throughout the world, including the European borders of Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual press conference.

Ten Soldiers Killed in Eastern Ukraine in Last 5 Days

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Ten Ukrainian military personnel have been killed in eastern Ukraine in the last five days in fighting with pro-Russian separatists, the Ukrainian defense ministry spokesman said on Friday.
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Two Kosovars Arrested in Germany on Suspicion of Preparing Attack

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Two Kosovar brothers, aged 28 and 31, were detained on Friday morning in Duisburg, western Germany, on suspicion that they were preparing an attack on a large shopping mall in the neighboring town of Oberhausen.

Trump Unhappy over Hiatus for Son’s Foundation

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President-elect Donald Trump complained on Friday that conflict-of-interest concerns forced his son Eric to suspend the work of a foundation that aids children with cancer.

Drugs and Terror: A Familiar Mix Among Europe's Jihadists

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The 24-year-old Tunisian migrant suspected of killing 12 people in an attack in Berlin this week typified a new wave of young jihadists in Europe who mix drug dealing and other illegal activities with Islamist terror.

Pak-Russia-China Get Closer. What That Means For India - NDTV

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NDTV



Pak-Russia-China Get Closer. What That Means For India
NDTV
25 years since the US actively promoted the break-up of the Soviet Union, Trump has taken a much softer line towards Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Indian foreign policy establishment is watching carefully, wondering whether this means that it ...

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As Obama accomplished policy goals, his party floundered

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- In boasting about his tenure in the White House, President Barack Obama often cites numbers like these: 15 million new jobs, a 4.9 percent unemployment rate and 74 months of consecutive job growth....

Moral incoherence at the UN

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“When did the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem become Palestinian land? The answer is: never”
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Совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности

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Владимир Путин провёл совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.
Совещание с постоянными членами Совета Безопасности.
Обсуждались вопросы сирийского урегулирования с учётом завершившейся операции вооруженных сил Сирии по освобождению Алеппо от боевиков, а также ход подготовки к возможной встрече в рамках сирийского урегулирования в Астане.
Затрагивались различные вопросы, связанные с подготовкой к предстоящим в понедельник в Санкт-Петербурге сессии ОДКБ и заседанию ВЕЭС.
Кроме того, обсуждались некоторые вопросы текущей внутрироссийской социально-экономической повестки дня.
В совещании приняли участие Председатель Правительства Дмитрий Медведев, Руководитель Администрации Президента Антон Вайно, Председатель Совета Федерации Валентина Матвиенко, Председатель Государственной Думы Вячеслав Володин, Секретарь Совета Безопасности Николай Патрушев, Министр иностранных дел Сергей Лавров, Министр внутренних дел Владимир Колокольцев, Министр обороны Сергей Шойгу, директор Федеральной службы безопасности Александр Бортников, директор Службы внешней разведки Сергей Нарышкин, Спецпредставитель Президента по вопросам природоохранной деятельности, экологии и транспорта Сергей Иванов.
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Were the pre-election opinion polls DELIBERATELY manipulated by Russians? - Google Search

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Story image for Were the pre-election opinion polls DELIBERATELY manipulated by Russians? from The New Yorker

Donald Trump is doing more to undermine himself than any Democrat

Spectator.co.uk (blog)-Dec 13, 2016
While allowing that 'it could be Russia' and 'I don't want anyone hacking us', .... used but which the FBI were unable to examine and the Russians did not ... just taken iraq's oil" and passing them on as real opinions worthy of respect. ... Similarly, an article of the same pre-election date on Vox, assuring its ...

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE Donald Trump and The New ...

Executive Intelligence Review (EIR)-Dec 16, 2016
They're still in a pre-election mode of unbelievable slanders and spins; .... And he had been given the most important Russian friendship award by President Putin. .... creations of psychological think-tanks to manipulate the people. ..... opinion poll, and it turned out that 88% of all the people polled were in ...
Story image for Were the pre-election opinion polls DELIBERATELY manipulated by Russians? from Telegraph.co.uk

The election polls weren't wrong because of mistakes – pollsters ...

Telegraph.co.uk-Jan 19, 2016
"The polls were wrong because the pollsters had – inaccurately ... the 2015 pre-election opinion polls was unrepresentativeness in the composition of the poll samples. ... to deliberately manipulate their surveys to produce a desired result. .... Russia's abandoned space shuttles at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Story image for Were the pre-election opinion polls DELIBERATELY manipulated by Russians? from USA TODAY

Still time for an election audit: Column

USA TODAY-Nov 18, 2016
C., has called on Congress to investigate the Russian cyberattack on ... We know that the national results could be tipped by manipulating the ... And while pre-election polls have large uncertainties, they were consistently off. ... the news about hacking and deliberate interference makes it worth finding out.
Story image for Were the pre-election opinion polls DELIBERATELY manipulated by Russians? from PBS NewsHour

Column: An old idea that could have helped pollsters

PBS NewsHour-Nov 11, 2016
The failure of almost all the public opinion polls to correctly predict the winner ... This time around, the pre-election Monday morning quarterbacking ... that it was baffling and disturbing how ignorant the polls were of Trump's appeal. ..... the pollsters in using polling to manipulate public opinion, which is what ...
Story image for Were the pre-election opinion polls DELIBERATELY manipulated by Russians? from Spectator.co.uk

Trump and Clinton's 'traumatic' campaign will have a toxic legacy

Spectator.co.uk-Nov 9, 2016
But the opinion polls got it pretty wrong, too, for they predicted a very close ... A final pre-election poll found that eight in ten voters were repulsed by ... in the same way as the Russians have manipulated this election. ... It belongs with those who deliberately lied to conflate reasonable opinions with "hatred", ...
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Путин обсудил с членами российского Совбеза ситуацию в Сирии - РБК

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Интерфакс



Путин обсудил с членами российского Совбеза ситуацию в Сирии
РБК
Президент России Владимир Путин провел совещание с постоянными членами Совета безопасности страны, в ходе которого обсудил сирийское урегулирование и подготовку к предстоящим международным саммитам. Об этом заявил пресс-секретарь главы государства Дмитрий ...
Путин обсудил с членами СБ РФ урегулирование в Сирии после освобождения АлеппоИнтерфакс
Путин обсудил с членами Совбеза России урегулирование в Сирии и подготовку к саммитамRT на русском

Все похожие статьи: 34 »

Carrie Fisher: Star Wars actress in intensive care after heart attack on flight between London and LA 

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Ukraine investigates Booking.com for doing business in Crimea

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The Kyiv-based Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea opened a criminal investigation against Booking.com, an online accommodation booking website based in Amsterdam.
The investigation was opened after a member of the Verkhovna Rada Heorhiy Lohvynsky filed a complaint about the popular website offering accommodation in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula that was invaded and annexed by Russia in 2014.
Lohvynsky demands that the authorities block the access to the website in Ukraine and force Booking.com to repay wrongful earnings. He accused the company of violating international sanctions as well as Ukrainian and international laws by booking hotels in Crimea.
“Not only does (Booking.com) facilitate the illegal entrance of foreigners to the occupied territory, it actively cooperates with lawless authorities, actively advertises and sells accommodation in Crimean hotels and health resorts stolen from Ukraine,” Lohvynsky wrote in a Facebook post.
The lawmaker said that when Booking.com was booking accommodation in Crimean hotels it was basically trading stolen property.
“It is as if a car renting service was knowingly renting out rare cars that were stolen from a Dutch museum,” Lohvynsky wrote.
Reacting to the criticism, Booking.com said they adjusted the website so that one can book an accommodation in Crimea only when they’re not traveling for leisure. The website only shows properties in Crimea when the customer ticks “yes” when asked, “Are you traveling for work?”
The website, however, has no way of verifying whether the customer is really traveling for work.
Leslie Cafferty, a spokeswoman for Priceline Group, the U.S.-based company that operates Booking.com, said that while doing business with Crimea properties is not prohibited, the website adjusted the search for Crimea “to avoid any misunderstanding regarding Booking.com’s position.”
At the moment Booking.com offers deals with nearly 2,000 properties in Crimea, including hotels, hostels, resorts, and guest houses.
Since the United States prohibited doing business with Crimea in the wake of sanctions over Russia’s annexation of the peninsula in 2014, some U.S.-headquartered companies like Expedia and Airbnb, which offer booking travel components like flights or accommodation rentals, stopped booking in Crimea.
Several major digital companies have limited access to its services in Crimea, too. For instance, the users in Crimea can’t access App Store, Google Play Market, and Google’s advertising services. Instagram and Facebook have reportedly shut its paid functions in Crimea.
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Berlin attack suspect was 'on the run alone'

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Anis Amri, the suspected Berlin market attacker, "had all the hallmarks of being on the run alone" when he was killed in a shootout with two Italian police officers in Milan on Friday.
    


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Kissinger, a longtime Putin confidant, sidles up to Trump

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Back in the 1990s, Henry Kissinger, the legendary former U.S. secretary of state-turned-global consultant, encountered an intriguing young Russian and proceeded to ask him a litany of questions about his background.
“I worked in intelligence,” Vladimir Putin finally told him, according to “First Person,” a 2000 autobiography cobbled together from hours of interviews with the then-unfamiliar Russian leader. To which Kissinger replied: “All decent people got their start in intelligence. I did, too.”
As Putin climbed the ranks in the Kremlin, eventually becoming the autocratic president he is today, he and Kissinger kept up a warm rapport even as the United States and Russia grew further apart. Kissinger is one of the few Americans to meet frequently with Putin, one former U.S. ambassador recently recalled -- along with movie star Steven Seagal and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, the likely next secretary of state.
Now, as Donald Trump signals that he wants a more cooperative relationship with Moscow, the 93-year-old Kissinger is positioning himself as a potential intermediary — meeting with the president-elect in private and flattering him in public. Like Trump, Kissinger has also cast doubt on intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia sought to sway the election in Trump's favor, telling a recent interviewer: “They were hacking, but the use they allegedly made of this hacking eludes me.”
Some have expressed surprise that the urbane, cerebral former top diplomat would have any affinity for the brash, shoot-from-the-lip Trump. But seasoned Kissinger watchers say it’s vintage behavior for a foreign policy realist who has cozied up to all sorts of kings and presidents for decades. And in fact, Trump may wind up an ideal vessel for Kissinger -- the architect of detente with the Soviets in the 1970s -- to realize his longstanding goal of warmer ties between the two Cold War adversaries.

For years, Kissinger has argued that promoting a greater balance of power between the U.S. and Russia would improve global stability. But skeptics fear this approach will sacrifice other values and reward bad behavior by the Kremlin, including its alleged election meddling, its invasion of Ukraine and its support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. There’s also the question of how Kissinger himself would personally benefit from a new reset with Russia: Aside from the reputational boost of having easy access to two major world leaders, the former secretary of state's secretive consulting firm, Kissinger Associates Inc., could get a bump in business.
“I think Kissinger is preparing a diplomatic offensive,” said Marcel H. Van Herpen, a Russia specialist and Putin critic who directs the Cicero Foundation, a Dutch think tank. “He’s a realist. The most important thing for him is international equilibrium, and there’s no talk of human rights or democracy.”
Trump aides did not offer a comment on the president-elect’s relationship with Kissinger, who served as secretary of state and national security adviser in the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But sources familiar with the transition effort say the Manhattan real estate mogul is fascinated by Kissinger as well as other Republican elder statesmen, such as Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice, to whom he has turned for advice on policy and staffing.
Kissinger and Trump have chatted on multiple occasions, including during at least one face-to-face meeting since the Nov. 8 election. And Kissinger, to the surprise of many in the broader foreign policy establishment, has spoken admiringly — albeit carefully — about the Trump phenomenon. Even after Trump spoke directly with the president of Taiwan -- a move that angered Beijing and went against the One China policy that Kissinger negotiated in the 1970s -- the former secretary of state expressed confidence Trump would uphold U.S. diplomatic traditions with the Chinese.
Associates of Kissinger also are in touch with others in the Trump orbit. One top Kissinger aide, Thomas Graham, is being floated among lower-level transition interlocutors as a potential ambassador to Russia, according to a source familiar with the conversations.
Graham met with House Foreign Affairs Committee staffers on Capitol Hill earlier this month, accompanied by other Russia observers, according to four people familiar with the session. Graham also sought meetings in the Senate. Graham appeared to be trying to identify people who shared similar outlooks on Russia and had connections to the Trump transition, three of the people said.

Kissinger also has praised Trump's choice of Tillerson as the next secretary of state, dismissing worries that the ExxonMobil chief is too close to the Kremlin. “He would be useless at the head of Exxon if he was not friendly with Russia… I don’t hear those concerns at all," Kissinger said at an event in Manhattan. "Nobody can meet every single qualification for secretary of state. I think it’s a good appointment.”
Kissinger Associates doesn’t disclose its clients under U.S. lobbying laws. The firm once threatened to sue Congress to resist a subpoena for its client list. It has in the past advised American Express, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and Daewoo. But the firm does belong to the U.S.-Russia Business Council, a trade group that includes ExxonMobil, JPMorgan Chase and Pfizer.
A person familiar with the Trump team's national security planning warned against reading too much into the Trump-Kissinger relationship. The president-elect, the person said, "admires the reputation and the gravitas but isn't necessarily persuaded by the Kissingerian worldview."
That may be true when it comes to China, a frequent subject of Trump’s ire, and the need to maintain a strong NATO, whose usefulness Trump has repeatedly questioned. But Trump's desire for warmer ties with Russia has been one of the more consistent stances he's taken, and he could find alignment with Kissinger.
POLITICO's attempts to reach Kissinger did not succeed this past week. But despite his unsavory reputation among human rights advocates -- who recite a litany of moral offenses from Vietnam to Bangladesh -- presidents of both political parties have sought Kissinger's advice for the past 40 years, and he's been eager to oblige.
During the final years of the George W. Bush administration, as relations with Moscow were souring, Kissinger teamed up with Evgeny Primakov, the former Russian prime minister and head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to co-chair a working group focused on bilateral relations between the U.S. and Russia. Putin blessed the venture. According to Kissinger, Bush, too, hoped the initiative would yield positive results, even assembling members of his national security team to learn about its work in 2008. But the payoff was modest, at best: Russia sent troops into the former Soviet state of Georgia in August 2008, angering the Bush administration, which imposed limited sanctions.
When Barack Obama took over the presidency from Bush, he sought Kissinger’s help on how to deal with Putin. A 2009 meeting between Kissinger and Putin helped lay the groundwork for a new arms-control pact as part of Obama’s effort to “reset” Russian relations. Kissinger remained involved in arms negotiations through 2010, according to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails released by the State Department. But ultimately that reset failed as well, for reasons that include Putin's frustrations over U.S. support of NATO and European Union expansion, which he believed threatened Russian influence in countries such as Ukraine.

In a February speech honoring Primakov, who died last year, Kissinger sketched out his view of the way U.S.-Russian relations should work. "The long-term interests of both countries call for a world that transforms the contemporary turbulence and flux into a new equilibrium which is increasingly multi-polar and globalized," he said. "Russia should be perceived as an essential element of any new global equilibrium, not primarily as a threat to the United States.”

As for Ukraine, which lost its Crimea region to Russian annexation in 2014 and is still fighting Russian-backed separatists in its east, Kissinger argued that it shouldn’t be invited to join the West outright. "Ukraine needs to be embedded in the structure of European and international security architecture in such a way that it serves as a bridge between Russia and the West, rather than as an outpost of either side," he said.
In Syria, he likewise called for the U.S. to cooperate with Russia, which has used indiscriminate air power to help Assad crush rebel forces. "Compatible U.S.-Russian efforts coordinated with other major powers could create a pattern for peaceful solutions in the Middle East and perhaps elsewhere,” he advised at the time.
Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, noted that it's not yet clear how far Trump will go to accommodate Russia. The president-elect’s pick for defense secretary is James Mattis, a retired Marine general who views Moscow as a major threat. And Trump, who prides himself on his deal-making skills, may ultimately conclude that Russia has little to offer.
“Does Trump get to a better relationship with Russia without getting something for it in terms of better behavior?" Pifer asked. "If we’re prepared to accept what they’re doing in Syria, Crimea, and Eastern Ukraine, we can have a better relationship, but we’ve sacrificed other interests and it’s not clear what we get for that.”

In an interview with CBS News that aired earlier this month, Kissinger spoke of both Trump and Putin in terms that suggested a sense of respect, if not necessarily awe.
Trump, Kissinger said, "has the possibility of going down in history as a very considerable president.” Because of perceptions that Obama weakened America's influence abroad, "one could imagine that something remarkable and new emerges” out of a Trump administration," he said. "I’m not saying it will. I’m saying it’s an extraordinary opportunity.”
Putin, meanwhile, is a "character out of Dostoyevsky,” Kissinger said, a reference to the 19th-century author who chronicled the often bleak lives of Russians in novels such as "Crime and Punishment" and "The Idiot." “He is a man with a great sense of connection, an inward connection, to Russian history as he sees it,” Kissinger said of Putin.
The Kremlin took it as a compliment. “Kissinger knows our country really well, he knows our writers and our philosophers so such comparisons from him are quite positive,” a spokesman for the Russian government said, adding that Kissinger "has deep knowledge, not superficial.”

Read the whole story

· · · · · · ·

Why were the polls wrong again in 2016?

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Victories for Donald Trump and Brexit have confounded the pollsters again, after most got the 2015 general election wrong. But were they to blame?
In the aftermath of the 2015 general election opinion poll debacle, I spoke to an old friend in the business. He said that normally, after such a bad experience, you have to wait five years until the next general election to discover whether the changes you have put in place really work.
However, the promised EU referendum meant he and his fellow pollsters would be tested much sooner.
It is important to remember the scale of the 2015 polling failure because it set the scene for the events of 2016. In the face of a seven-point Conservative lead among voters on 7 May 2015, 18% of campaign polls had suggested a dead heat and a further had 46% suggested Labour leads.
Of the 36% of polls that registered Conservative leads during the six-week election campaign, three-quarters published leads that were less than half the actual outcome of seven points.
Within 24 hours of the close of poll, the British Polling Council supported by the Market Research Society issued a classic example of English under-statement, declaring "the final opinion polls before the election were clearly not as accurate as we would like" and announcing that they were "setting up an independent inquiry to look into the possible causes of this apparent bias, and to make recommendations for future polling".
The report was published in March and focused on one main cause of the failure to correctly call the outcome of the election: "Our conclusion is that the primary cause of the polling miss in 2015 was unrepresentative samples.
"The methods the pollsters used to collect samples of voters systematically over-represented Labour supporters and under-represented Conservative supporters. The statistical adjustment procedures applied to the raw data did not mitigate this basic problem to any notable degree. The other putative causes can have made, at most, only a small contribution to the total error."
Polling companies did not wait for the publication of the inquiry before making adjustments to their methodologies but the June referendum on UK membership of the EU presented additional challenges.
At one level the EU Referendum should have been much easier for pollsters. Whereas in general elections we require them to achieve high levels of accuracy for each of at least four political parties, in a referendum there are only two choices - Yes or No, Leave or Remain.
However, there was one important missing ingredient in the referendum as far as pollsters were concerned, namely how people had voted previously. Westminster voting intention polls invariably ask respondents not only how they intend to vote in the next general election but also how they voted in the previous one.
This past-voting data allows them to make important adjustments to their samples with the aim of strengthening their overall accuracy. But there was no such past-voting data support for the pollsters in 2016, as there had only been one previous referendum and that one held in 1975.
Mike Smithson, of Political Betting, gets pretty fierce with those who claim that polls in the 2016 referendum delivered a similar car crash to the 2015 general election. He calculates that of the 34 referendum campaign polls, 17 gave leads for Leave, 14 had Remain ahead and three suggested a dead heat.
That is a reasonable point, but the traditional test of how they performed is the record of final campaign polls compared with the outcome. On this specific measure the polling industry still appears to be languishing in Purgatory.
In June, the British Polling Council reported its analysis of the final EU referendum polls published by seven member companies. No company correctly forecast the actual result, although "in three cases the result was within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus three points. In one case Leave was correctly estimated to be ahead. In the four remaining cases, however, support for Remain was clearly overestimated".
"This is obviously a disappointing result for the pollsters, and for the BPC, especially because every single poll, even those within sampling error, overstated the Remain vote share."
In addition, there were three on-the-day polls (combining actual voters and others reporting their voting intention on polling day) published by BMG, YouGov and Ipsos MORI and these predicted Remain leads of 53%, 52% and 54% respectively.
We have witnessed polls that consistently overstated Labour support and many that overstated support for Remain. All too often in the past polling errors at elections have been forgotten because the polls concerned still predicted the correct outcome.
The mortal sin is to predict the wrong outcome and the heat is on the polling industry today because that is precisely what it has done in the two biggest political events of 2015 and 2016.
But what about polling in the US presidential election?
Here we need to begin by reflecting on the US electoral system. Presidents are elected as a result of winning a majority of electoral college votes, not the national popular vote.
To assess the accuracy of polling in the 2016 presidential election, we need to look at national polls for their measure of the popular vote received by the candidates and then polling in individual states to discover how well they predicted the outcome of the crucial electoral college votes.
The highly respected Cook Political Report observed: "On average, polling in 2016 was closer to the results of the election than it was in 2012. President Obama's final popular vote margin was 3.9 points, but the RealClearPolitics running average before election day was 0.7 points, a difference of 3.2 points. The difference in 2016 was just 1.1 points."
Specifically, the RealClearPolitics running average of 10 final polls (sampled between 1 and 7 November, 2016) gave Clinton 46.8% and Trump 43.6%, compared with the final outcome of Clinton 48.2% and Trump 46.1%: a respectable performance, with the final average within sampling error and predicting the correct winner of the popular vote.
The US polling problem lay with the state-wide polls. If we look at the 13 swing states (those that either changed allegiance compared with 2012 or were decided by 5% or less of the popular vote) we find that Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were predicted for Clinton when they voted Trump; and that in Iowa and Ohio the predicted Trump wins significantly understated his final margins of victory.
The EU referendum campaign did not restore the badly dented reputation of pollsters in the UK following their grim performance in 2015. And in the US, performing well in predicting the popular vote but getting important state polls wrong leaves you with egg on your face, and President Trump.
I do not envy the pollsters as they navigate their way through a society that is increasingly fragmented and where increasing numbers of people are refusing to stay in their box.
The EU referendum saw the largest turnout in England since the 1992 election; 2.8 million more people voted in the 2016 referendum than in the 2015 general election.
In 2015 the main polling problem was defined as unrepresentative samples. At the close of 2016 it still is.
Read the whole story

· · · · ·

Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher in hospital after heart attack on flight between London and LA 

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Carrie Fisher hospitalized

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"Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher was hospitalized Friday in Los Angeles after suffering a cardiac event aboard a United Airlines flight from London to Los Angeles, a source familiar with the incident told CNN.
    


Backlash Swells in Germany as Hunt for Terrorist Ends

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The hunt for the suspect in the deadly attack on a Berlin Christmas market ended before dawn Friday in a shootout with Italian police near Milan, but the political fallout was just beginning to gather force.

cyberwar - Google News: Obama moves to split cyberwar command, NSA - Chicago Tribune

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Obama moves to split cyberwar command, NSA
Chicago Tribune
With weeks to go in his tenure, President Barack Obama on Friday moved to end the controversial "dual-hat" arrangement under which the National Security Agency and the nation's cyberwarfare command are headed by the same military officer. It is unclear ...

and more »


 cyberwar - Google News
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polls - Google News: Why were the polls wrong again in 2016? - BBC News

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BBC News



Why were the polls wrong again in 2016?
BBC News
Victories for Donald Trump and Brexit have confounded the pollsters again, after most got the 2015 general election wrong. But were they to blame? In the aftermath of the 2015 general election opinion poll debacle, I spoke to an old friend in the business.



 polls - Google News

Итоги года с президентом: на что в ответах Путина обратили внимание эксперты - RT на русском

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RT на русском



Итоги года с президентом: на что в ответах Путина обратили внимание эксперты
RT на русском
Прошедшая пресс-конференция президента Владимира Путина была искренним разговором о том, что происходит в стране. В таком мнении сходятся опрошенные RT эксперты. Они также полагают, что обилие экономической тематики свидетельствует об улучшении положения в этой ...

President Obama signs defense bill that could spur new space-based arms race - Los Angeles Times

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Los Angeles Times



President Obama signs defense bill that could spur new space-based arms race
Los Angeles Times
One struck the word “limited” from language describing the mission of the country's homelandmissile defense system. The system is designed to thwart a small-scale attack by a non-superpower such as North Korea or Iran. A related provision calls for ...

Russia attacked our democracy. That demands intense review by Congress. - Washington Post

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Washington Post



Russia attacked our democracy. That demands intense review by Congress.
Washington Post
Russia's theft and strategic leaking of emails and documents from the Democratic Party and other officials present a challenge to the U.S. political system unlike anything we've experienced. In October, when Director of National Intelligence James R ...
The Most Urgent Questions About the Russia HacksThe Atlantic
Can US election hack be traced to Russia?BBC News
Investigate Russian Hacking the Right WayNew York Times
Wall Street Journal -The New Yorker -CNBC
all 647 news articles »

Opinions: How to defend America the Indivisible

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The grounding commitment is to human moral equality, as in the Declaration of Independence.







 Opinions
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· · ·

СЕГОДНЯ | Самые актуальные новости, мнения, комментарии: Обама ограничил военное сотрудничество с РФ

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Обама ограничил военное сотрудничество с РФ Президент США подписал закон, ограничивающий военное сотрудничество между странами, пока РФ не прекратит агрессию в Украине

 СЕГОДНЯ | Самые актуальные новости, мнения, комментарии
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РБК - Новости экономики: Обама подписал военный бюджет на $611 млрд

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 РБК - Новости экономики

FBI Warns of Possible Threat to Holiday Gathering Sites

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The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning local law enforcement agencies across the United States that Islamic State militants are calling for attacks on churches and other sites where holiday crowds might gather. The announcement came Friday after the militants posted a list of U.S. churches as possible targets on its social media sites. "As part of the continuous dialogue with our law enforcement partners," FBI spokesman Andrew Ames said, "the FBI routinely shares information about potential threats to better enable law enforcement to protect the communities they serve." Ames said citizens are advised to maintain awareness of their surroundings and report suspicious activity. He added that the FBI "is tracking this matter while we investigate its credibility." On Monday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a terror attack on a Berlin Christmas market in which 12 people died and 56 were injured.

Berlin suspect vowed devotion to ISIS in video

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The Berlin Christmas market attack suspect has been killed in Milan, according to Italian state police. Twelve people were killed and dozens injured when a truck plowed into the busy market Monday.
    


FBI warns of possible Islamic State-inspired attacks in U.S.: CNN

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. federal authorities cautioned local law enforcement on Friday to be aware that supporters of Islamic State have been calling for their sympathizers to attack holiday gatherings in the United States, including churches, CNN reported.
  

Defying pressure, U.S. lets U.N. denounce Israeli settlements

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Friday allowed the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building, defying heavy pressure from long-time ally Israel and President-elect Donald Trump for Washington to wield its veto.
  

Exclusive: Trump team seeks names of officials working to counter violent extremism

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has asked two Cabinet departments for the names of government officials working on programs to counter violent extremism, according to a document seen by Reuters and U.S. officials.
  
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U.N. demands end to Israeli settlements

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Israeli settlers in the settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)In a rare move, the U.S. abstained from vetoing the resolution, making it the first since 1979 to condemn Israel over its policy.

Israeli settlements: UN Security Council calls for an end

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The UN Security Council backs a call to end illegal Israeli settlements after the US refuses to veto.

Defying pressure, U.S. lets U.N. denounce Israeli settlements

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Friday allowed the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building, defying heavy pressure from long-time ally Israel and President-elect Donald Trump for Washington to wield its veto.
  

Turkey's Erdogan Is Turning Into a Strongman

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What some see as a cult of personality is growing in Turkey as its president, who enjoys strong support among conservatives, Islamists and nationalists, accumulates authority, purges thousands accused of involvement in a failed July coup, and rules by decree. “I don’t care if they call me a dictator.”

Российская Газета: Пожар в ангаре на юго-востоке Москвы ликвидирован

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Пожар в ангаре на юго-востоке Москвы ликвидирован

 Российская Газета

Новости Украины 24 часа в сутки : ЛІГАБізнесІнформ: Обама ограничил военное сотрудничество США с РФ

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Президент США подписал законопроект, который предусматривает выделение Украине $350 млн на оборонную сферу и запрет на военное сотрудничество с РФ



 Новости Украины 24 часа в сутки : ЛІГАБізнесІнформ
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For Obama and Netanyahu, a Final Clash After Years of Conflict

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President Obama’s decision not to block a United Nations resolution condemning Israel laid bare grievances between him and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Trump Makes Foray Onto Obama's Turf

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President-elect Donald Trump is upending the modern convention that the U.S. speaks with one voice on foreign affairs, plunging into some of the most sensitive national-security matters before he takes office.

Is President Obama playing the victim card?

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Is President Obama playing the victim card?
Commander-in-Chief's time in office

Взгляд: Израиль отозвал послов из Сенегала и Новой Зеландии

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Послы Израиля отозваны в пятницу из Сенегала и Новой Зеландии – стран, которые внесли в СБ ООН резолюцию о запрете создания израильских поселений на палестинской территории. «Премьер-министр в срочном порядке возвращает послов из Сенегала и Новой Зеландии в Израиль для совещаний», - говорится в документе, текст которого приводит ТАСС. При этом премьер Израиля Биньямин Нетаньяху отказался встречаться с руководством Министерства иностранных дел Сенегала и распорядился свернуть все программы помощи этой стране. Совбез ООН в пятницу принял резолюцию, запрещающую Израилю строительство поседений на оккупированных палестинских территориях. После его принятия власти Израиля официально отказались его выполнять и обвинили администрацию президента США Барака Обамы в «предательстве», так как именно воздержавшаяся при голосовании в СБ американская делегация позволила пройти и быть принятым этому документу.

 Взгляд

Sputnik International: US Army Orders Northrop Grumman to Develop Systems to Combat Drones

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Northrop Grumman has received a $9.4 million order to develop anti-drone capability and emerging technologies in sensors and electronic warfare, the US Department of Defense announced.



 Sputnik International

U.N. Censures Israeli Settlement Expansion as U.S. Declines to Block

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The Obama administration, breaking from longstanding U.S. policy, abstained from voting on a Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s expansion of its settlements, allowing the historic measure to pass.