Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How Islamic State's Secret Banking Network Prospers

Stirrings of Labor Unrest Awaken as Russia’s Economic Chill Sets In 

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Visitors at the museum of Uralvagonzavod, the largest battle tank producer in the world. While workers who produce train cars at the factory have been put on two-thirds pay, the tank assembly lines are still rolling full speed and workers are being paid in full.

How Islamic State's Secret Banking Network Prospers

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Every day, hundreds of money-exchange offices in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Jordan funnel millions of dollars in and out of militant-held territory, despite financial sanctions intended to isolate the terror group.

Hungary Calls Referendum on EU Migrant Relocation Plan

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Hungary’s government said it will call a national referendum on the European Union’s plan to resettle asylum seekers in Hungary, a move by Prime Minister Viktor Orban to gain political support to reject the mandatory quotas.

Malaysia Panel: Probe of Money Transfers Into Najib's Accounts Should Continue

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A regulatory body advised an antigraft agency to push ahead with a probe into transfers of millions of dollars into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank accounts.

Egypt Admits Russian Plane Was Downed by Terrorists

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Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi says militants brought down a Russian passenger jet in October over the Sinai Peninsula, acknowledging for the first time that terrorism was responsible.

Photos of the Day: Feb. 24

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In photos selected Wednesday by Wall Street Journal editors, an Indian milkman carries canisters, people protest plans for a gold and copper mine in Turkey, a recreational park is destroyed by a tornado in Louisiana, and more.

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Iran Detains U.S. Citizen

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An 80-year-old man who holds citizenship in both the U.S. and Iran has been imprisoned in Iran, his family said. He is the father of Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman, arrested in October.

Pope Francis: ‘Isaiah was not a communist!’

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Wading again into the fraught issue of economic inequality and biblical teachings, Pope Francis on Wednesday (Feb. 24) spoke passionately about Isaiah’s warning to the greedy and assured thousands who gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the prophet “wasn’t a communist!”









French president suggests Argentina help with Syrian crisis

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French President Francois Hollande is suggesting Argentina could help with the humanitarian crisis of Syrians fleeing civil war and risking their lives to migrate to Europe.















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Corker: The U.S. Is ‘Empowering Assad’ in Syria

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker said Wednesday that the U.S. is “empowering [Syrian strongman Bashar] Assad,” despite years of calls from the Obama Administration to for Assad to go.
The Tennessee Republican has long criticized the Obama Administration for not acting more forcefully to quell hostilities in Syria, but he took that argument one step further on Wednesday.
“I do think the European Union is open now, because people look at their own immediate self interests, I do think they’re open for Assad to be there for a while and they look at that as a better case than the chaos,” Corker told a breakfast in Washington hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “For someone with no real cards to play, it’s sad for me to say that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has played the cards that he has in a masterful way and taken advantage of a nation that is not willing to lead, and he knows it, and the European Union knows it, and so yes they are becoming far more okay with [Assad] staying in power.”
Corker said it was clear to him that Secretary of State John Kerry blames the Syrian opposition for the current state of the war.
“If you just look at the body language and you listen to where the frustration lies, which is with the opposition,” Corker said. “Let’s face it, we are empowering Assad. I mean if you listen to John Kerry he’s more upset with the Syrian opposition than he is with Russia or Iran.”
Corker argued that the U.S. could have mitigated or even prevented much of the disintegration in Syrian if it had struck, as it had threatened to do, in 2013 after it was revealed Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people. Instead of striking, President Obama opted for a diplomatic bargain with Putin for Assad to willingly surrender his chemical weapons. “Do I think it would’ve solved the whole problem? No. But when we did not get Assad in September 2013 it said to the world that we could not be counted on,” Corker said. “Let’s face it, who propped up Assad more than any one? We did. Because in order to get the chemical weapons out of the country, he had to be there. So we began by propping up Assad and making these hollow comments about him having to go.”

Barack Obama tries to manage expectation over Syria ceasefire

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President said that if some progress was made in Syria, that would lead to a political process to end the five-year-old war











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Israel accuses Iran of building up international terror cells

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Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is building a complex terror infrastructure including sleeping cells that are stockpiling armsand are ready to act on order including in Europe and America, says Israeli defence minister











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Website Claims Russian Battalion-owned Missile Downed MH17 Over Ukraine 

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A team of investigative journalists claims to have evidence showing that the missile that shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in July 2014 belonged to a Russian battalion that had recently deployed to the region. Two hundred ninety-eight people died when the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed. A Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team is still probing the crash. Henry Ridgwell reports.

Syria on the Agenda as Jordan's King Visits White House

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From: VOAvideo
Duration: 01:10

President Barack Obama is hosting Jordan's King Abdullah II at the White House on Wednesday for talks focused on the battle against the Islamic State group and the humanitarian fallout from the war in Syria.
Originally published at - http://www.voanews.com/media/video/syrian-on-agenda-as-jordanian-king-visits-white-house/3206320.html

Google's 'Next Generation' Atlas Robot Turns Heads - NBCNews.com

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NBCNews.com

Google's 'Next Generation' Atlas Robot Turns Heads
NBCNews.com
Google's robotics arm, Boston Dynamics, has released a video of a new version of its Atlas robot. The video shows the upgraded robot opening doors, picking up boxes and taking an eerily human-like stroll in the woods. The video also shows Boston ...
How Google's impressive new robot demo will fuel your nightmaresCNET
This humanoid Atlas robot can take a punchFox News
Google Bullies New Line Of Robots Just For FunCBS Local
CNNMoney -Christian Science Monitor -PC Magazine
all 189 news articles »

Charges against Rick Perry dismissed

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The highest criminal court in Texas drops a charge against Rick Perry of abuse of power during his time as governor of the US state of Texas.

Russia soldiers 'linked' to MH17 crash

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A British-led investigative team says it has identified Russian soldiers who were likely involved in the shooting down of a Malaysian plane in 2014.

Austria, Balkan nations, want full stop to migrant influx

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VIENNA (AP) - Overwhelmed by a wave of refugees and what they call indecision in the European Union, Austria and its southern neighbors along the Balkan migrant route agreed Wednesday to tighter border controls - and warned that sooner or later they will have to shut their doors entirely.
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John Kerry: U.S. has sent to the Kurds 41,000 grenades and 60,000 anti-tank rounds 

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The Obama administration's reliance on Kurdish militants to fight the Islamic State has prompted deep friction with Turkey, but Secretary of State John F. Kerry says U.S. weapons will continue to flow to the so-called peshmerga forces, with some 5 million rounds of ammunition expected to be delivered soon.
While ...

Iraq veteran Patrick Murphy is sworn in as Army under secretary

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Iraq war veteran Patrick Murphy was officially sworn in as the Army’s under secretary on Wednesday, about two months after the senate confirmed him for the position.
     

Top NATO Official: Assertive Russia Threatens European Security

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Stoltenberg said the new unit approved by the United States and NATO's 27 other members will be multinational and rotate in and out of Eastern European member states rather than being based there.
       

The [Redacted] Truth: How the CIA Lies to Its Own Employees - Foreign Policy In Focus

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Foreign Policy In Focus

The [Redacted] Truth: How the CIA Lies to Its Own Employees
Foreign Policy In Focus
The [Redacted] Truth: How the CIA Lies to Its Own Employees. When the CIA wants to keep something from its operatives, it simply lies to them. Those lies make their way to Congress, and eventually into history. By John Kiriakou, February 24, 2016 .

Why The CIA Likes, And Dislikes, Social Media - NPR

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NPR

Why The CIA Likes, And Dislikes, Social Media
NPR
For example, how should the CIA conceal details about a spy who has been sharing information about herself online before joining the agency — perhaps since she was in middle school? And can it create a convincing enough story about someone who has ...

and more »

Pentagon, CIA Prepare for Russia to Break Ceasefire in Syria - Breitbart News

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Breitbart News

Pentagon, CIA Prepare for Russia to Break Ceasefire in Syria
Breitbart News
The Pentagon and CIA do not believe Russia will honor the ceasefire agreement in Syria arrived at this week, according to sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal. Officials want to apply more “pressure on Moscow” to make sure they keep their end of ...
Pentagon, CIA Chiefs Don't Think Russia Will Abide by Syria Cease-FireWall Street Journal 
Pentagon, CIA heads demand to increase pressure on Moscow over Syria - mediaTASS

all 210 news articles »
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CIA Director: ISIS Is 'Much Larger Than Al-Qaida Ever Was' - NPR

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CIA Director: ISIS Is 'Much Larger Than Al-Qaida Ever Was'
NPR
Terror leaders captured by the U.S. would likely be subject to the laws of the nations in which they were caught, CIA Director John Brennan told NPR in an exclusive interview. Brennan also warns that ISIS is a bigger danger than al-Qaida, and he says ...

Время Свободы - Итоговый выпуск - 24 февраля, 2016

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Итоги дня 24 февраля. "Международная амнистия" о нарушениях прав человека в России в 2015 году. Группа Bellingcat установила, кто из российских военных мог быть причастен к катастрофе МН17. Как вопрос о членстве в ЕС расколо британское общество "сверху донизу".



Download audio: http://audio.rferl.org/RU/2016/02/24/20160224-170500-RU081-program.mp3

Detained Head Of Kazakh Journalists Union Transferred To House Arrest

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An Almaty court has transferred to house arrest Seitqazy Mataev, the head of the Kazakh Journalists Union and the chairman of the National Press Club.

Владимир Путин продолжил переговоры по сирийскому урегулированию - Российская Газета

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Российская Газета

Владимир Путин продолжил переговоры по сирийскому урегулированию
Российская Газета
Глава государства провел целую серию телефонных переговоров с коллегами. Речь шла в первую очередь об урегулировании ситуации в Сирии. С утра Владимир Путин побеседовал с сирийским президентом Башаром Асадом. Лидеры обсудили различные аспекты сирийского кризиса ...
Перемирие в Сирии означает крупнейшее поражение ТурцииВзгляд
Путин обсудил с Асадом прекращение боевых действий в СирииРБК
Кремль внес дополнительный вклад в достижение перемирия в СирииИзвестия
Росбалт.RU -Первый канал -РИА Новости
Все похожие статьи: 553 »

Владимир Путин продолжил переговоры по сирийскому урегулированию - Российская Газета

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Российская Газета

Владимир Путин продолжил переговоры по сирийскому урегулированию
Российская Газета
Глава государства провел целую серию телефонных переговоров с коллегами. Речь шла в первую очередь об урегулировании ситуации в Сирии. С утра Владимир Путин побеседовал с сирийским президентом Башаром Асадом. Лидеры обсудили различные аспекты сирийского кризиса ...
Перемирие в Сирии означает крупнейшее поражение ТурцииВзгляд
Путин обсудил с Асадом прекращение боевых действий в СирииРБК
Мирный процесс в Сирии Владимир Путин обсудил с лидерами ключевых государств Ближнего ВостокаПервый канал
Росбалт.RU -РИА Новости -Lenta.ru
Все похожие статьи: 505 »

Pentagon Remains Skeptical Of Russia Regarding Syria Ceasefire - Daily Caller

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New York Times

Pentagon Remains Skeptical Of Russia Regarding Syria Ceasefire
Daily Caller
Resident carries an injured man through a site damaged from what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on the main field hospital in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus October 29, 2015. Source: ...
Questions Linger Over Russia's Endgame in Syria, Ukraine and EuropeNew York Times
Russia is using Syria to run circles around USCNN
Kerry to Russia: War in Syria 'Can Get a Lot Uglier'Foreign Policy (blog) 
Daily Beast-
 International Business Times
 
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Deutsche Welle
all 5,986 news articles »
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Грани Времени. Почему был сдан Крым? - 24 февраля, 2016

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Совет национальной безопасности и обороны Украины (СНБОУ) обнародовал протокол своего секретного заседания от 28 февраля 2014 года, на котором обсуждался вопрос о возможности противодействия стремлению России аннексировать Крым. Историческую роль заседания СНБОУ и позиции его участников анализируют военные эксперты Александр Гольц, Игорь Романенко (Киев), политики Вячеслав Игрунов, Иван Стариков, правозащитник Лев Пономарев..



Download audio: http://audio.rferl.org/RU/2016/02/24/20160224-180500-RU081-program.mp3

Ежегодный доклад Amnesty International 

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From: golosamerikius
Duration: 01:42

По мнению организации, ситуация с правами человека в мире в 2015 году ухудшилась
Originally published at - http://www.golos-ameriki.ru/media/video/amnesty-international/3205029.html

В России все меньше свобод! 

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From: SvobodaRadio
Duration: 54:52

Ежегодный доклад правозащитной организации Amnesty International обсуждаем с главой Московской Хельсинкской группы Людмилой Алексеевой и директором представительства Amnesty International в России Сергеем Никитиным

Erdogan sorry Russia lost friend like Turkey because of two pilots - Pravda

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Pravda

Erdogan sorry Russia lost friend like Turkey because of two pilots
Pravda
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again accused Russia of violating Turkish airspace. According to the Turkish president, Russia does not refrain from violating Turkish air borders "at times." "From time to time, (Russia) does not refrain from ...
Turkey's president says Russia continues to violate Turkish airspaceBusiness Insider
Hammond: 'Disturbing evidence' that Kurds are coordinating with Syrian regime andRussiaTelegraph.co.uk
EU's Mogherini: War between Russia and Turkey could be on the horizonJerusalem Post Israel News
Press TV -Arutz Sheva
all 624 news articles »

Stalin rises again over Vladimir Putin's Russia, six decades after his death 

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Sixty years on from Kruschev's 'secret speech' denouncing Stalin, Russia has still not fully acknowledged the horrors perpetrated by its dictator – and now there are fears that Putin is returning to his methods. Nadia Beard reports

February 24, 2016

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

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Ethnic Russian Muslims an Increasing Problem for Moscow, Experts Say 

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 23 – In one of the longest, most closely researched and heavily footnoted studied published to date, Rais Suleymanov says that ethnic Russian Muslims have become “a significant factor in the Islamic community of Russia” and a major source of terrorist activists in part because they can more easily pass unnoticed in Russian cities.

            In a 13,500-word article, the Kazan specialist at Russian Institute of National Strategy, says that the growh in the number of ethnic Russian Muslims reflects the effectiveness of Islamic propaganda in Russian, Islam’s attractiveness as “a protest religion,” intermarriage, and the weakness of Russians’ knowledge of their national faith and of the missionary work of the Russian Orthodox Church (kavkazgeoclub.ru/content/russkie-musulmane-obzor-fenomena).

            Suleymanov who many Muslims believe is anti-Islamic may be overstating the problem because he considers “ethnic Russian Muslims” not only those who are in fact ethnic Russians who have converted to Islam “but also representatives of those peoples who do not traditionally follow Islam but who use the Russian language as a means of communication with believers.”

            Nonetheless and despite that limitation, his article provides extraordinary detail on dozens of specific cases of ethnic Russians who have converted, who have risen to the position of imam or mufti, and who have taken part in terrorist actions both within the Russian Federation and abroad.

            Suleymanov suggests that such people “never become finally part of the community of ethnic Muslims even though for Russian society [they] cease to be Russians.” And he documents hhis suggestion that “the several thousand actively believing ‘ethnic Russian Muslims’ have in percentage terms have produced many more terrorists than the five million Tatars who traditionally profess Islam.”

            In his review, the Kazan-based scholar suggests there are four basic groups of ethnic Russian Muslims: those who accept Islam because of their own spiritual searches and who often were deeply involved with other faiths including Orthodoxy earlier, those who join because of marriage, those who do so for pragmatic reasons, and those who were POWs in Afghanistan or now Syria.  Suleymanov says there are only a few dozen of the last group.

            According to Suleymanov, “ethnic Russian Muslims quite quickly have come to occupy strong positions within the umma of Russia because of their involvement with Wahhabi jamaats.” They are accepted because most Muslims see conversion to Islam as evidence of the truth and strength of their faith. 

            One consequence of this and of the fact that Islam does not focus on ethnicity is that ethnic Russian Muslims become part of the umma as a whole rather than forming “any separate Russian diaspora inside it,” but because they lack an Islamic tradition, they are an easy catch for “radical ideological” groups, Suleymanov says. 

            “The main reason for the success of Islamic proselytism among particular representatives ofhte Russian people is that the majority of ethnic Russians up to now are cut off from their spiritual roots and in fact are not acquainted with the religion of their Orthodox Christian ancestors,” he says.

            And Suleymanov concludes with what must be the most disturbing aspect of this trend: “The frequency of the participation of ethnic Russians in the ranks of terrorist bands … and also the geopolitical situation in which Russia is conducting military actions against ISIS in Syria” means that such Russian converts are going to be even more inclined to radicalism because they will be shunned by other Russians.

            A second article this week, this one by Vladislav Maltsev, a Moscow journalist who writes frequently on religion in general and Islam in particular, adds to this portrait of ethnic Russian Muslims by reporting on one part of this trend: the tendency of some radical Russian nationalists to adopt Islam (lenta.ru/articles/2016/02/22/nazi_islam/).

            When the Supreme Court last week confirmed the sentence against Ilya Goryachev, the leader of the Militant Organizaiton of Russian Nationalists (BORN), many assumed that this group was finished. But in fact, “many of its figures have remained in the shadows; and not a few of them have become Russians.

            How could it be that those who profess national socialism could end by linking up with Wahhabism, Maltsev asks rhetorically.  His answer is that both groups share a commitment to radicalism and the use of force and that it was only a matter of time that they would come together even if the former had very publicly persecuted the latter in the past.

            Many Russian national socialists, he continues, view Islam as “’a religion of the strong’” and one that is prepared to act on its beliefs as in the Caucasus Emirate.  One expert Maltsev cites says that “Jihad in the Caucasus is a conjunction of Islam and hatred to Russia and the regime. Slavs go to Chechny because they can prepare for real military actions elsewhere.”

            “Nine out of ten of them accept Islam there,” he says, “for it is a super-strong religion.”

            Roman Silantyev, a controversial specialist on Islam in Russia, agrees. He told Maltsev that “people with protest or criminal attitudes really form a significant percent of those who convert no tonly to Islam in general but also to Islamic sects” like Wahhabism.  As a result, “ethnic Russian Muslims represent a greater terrorist threat” than other Muslims.

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Teen from Russia wins 30-day hotel stay with porn star, says 'she has got good sizes' - New York Daily News

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New York Daily News

Teen from Russia wins 30-day hotel stay with porn star, says 'she has got good sizes'
New York Daily News
Wet dreams do come true. A 16-year-old boy from Russia has won a 30-day hotel stay with a porn star and said “everything is just boiling inside him.” Ruslan Schedrin, a child actor, said he didn't believe the news at first and is so happy he won the ...
Russian porn star Ekaterina Makarova will live with schoolboy after he won online competitionDaily Mail

all 20 news articles »

Минобороны РФ: карта военной обстановки в Сирии передана посольству США - ИА REGNUM

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РИА Новости

Минобороны РФ: карта военной обстановки в Сирии передана посольству США
ИА REGNUM
Москва, 24 Февраля 2016, 23:21 — REGNUM Министерство обороны Российской Федерации передало атташе по вопросам обороны посольства США в Москве карту оперативной обстановки в Сирийской Арабской Республике. Об этом сегодня, 24 февраля, сообщает пресс-служба ...
Минобороны передало представителю США карту оперативной обстановки в СирииИнтерфакс
Минобороны России передало представителю США карту с обстановкой в СирииГазета.Ru
Александр Рар: Достигнуто главное - начало мирного процесса в СирииРоссийская Газета
Московский комсомолец -НТВ.ru -Коммерсантъ Приложения
Все похожие статьи: 95 »

People living in ex-Habsburg Empire territories 'have higher trust in justice systems' 

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Research suggests dynasty's talent for instilling obedience in its subjects is still ingrained several generations on

Russia flies spy planes over our heads multiple times a year — and the US is cool with it - PRI

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PRI

Russia flies spy planes over our heads multiple times a year — and the US is cool with it
PRI
For more than two decades, Russia has flown its own spy planes over the US — with our permission. It's part of something called the "Treaty on Open Skies" that dates to the end of the Cold War. The whole idea of the treaty is to enhance military ...
Russia wants to fly more spy planes over the US, and the Pentagon can't stop itBusiness Insider
Not Much Pentagon Can Do About Russian Spy Plane RequestDaily Caller
Russia Requests Overflight of US With Reconnaissance AircraftWashington Free Beacon
Tech Insider (blog)
all 41 news articles »

Почему был сдан Крым? 

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From: SvobodaRadio
Duration: 53:41

Историческую роль заседания СНБОУ от 28 февраля 2014 года и позиции его участников анализируют военные эксперты Александр Гольц, Игорь Романенко (Киев), политик Вячеслав Игрунов и правозащитник Лев Пономарев.
Ведущий - Владимир Кара-Мурза - старший.
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The Daily Vertical: Russia’s Spooks And Crooks

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The Daily Vertical is an RFE/RL video primer for Russia-watchers that appears Monday through Friday. Viewers can suggest topics via Twitter @PowerVertical or on the Power Vertical Facebook page.
A transcript of today’s Daily Vertical can be found here.

The Great Manipulator 

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Dmitry Medvedev recently played a telling little head game.
When the Russian prime minister said at the Munich Security Conference that Moscow and the West had “slid into a new Cold War,” he essentially created a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation.
“If the West agrees that it is a new Cold War, then it automatically acknowledges Russia’s global-power status. If it doesn’t — then why the sanctions? — Can we lift them now? Can we go back to business as usual?” Anton Shekhovtsov, a fellow at the Legatum Institute, wrote recently on his Facebook page.
As is often the case, Shekhovtsov is right on target. And Medvedev’s rhetorical trick is something of a metaphor for Russia’s behavior writ large — and it has implications beyond the cute little mind games Vladimir Putin’s favorite mini-me played in Munich.
“With his choice of words, the prime minister is pursuing the same goal as the Russian fighter planes that are shadowing German Tornado reconnaissance jets over Syria or operating near the airspace of NATO member states,” German foreign-affairs commentator Mathieu von Rohr wrote recently in Der Spiegel.
“They are gestures aimed at intimidating the West against trying to counter Russian aspirations to power.”
Actually, it’s more subtle and more insidious than outright intimidation.
Manipulate Your Superiors
This game is called “reflexive control,” a doctrine developed by Soviet military strategists back in the 1960s that aims to compel adversaries to behave in a manner advantageous to Moscow.
It does this by preemptively shaping of the environment through disinformation campaigns, psyops, business ties, political meddling, establishing military facts on the ground — or any combination of the above.
It’s a game that anybody who has ever dealt with a manipulative teenager — or adult for that matter — will recognize. And it’s a game that Putin’s Kremlin has been playing with the West in ways big and small for years.
It has forced the West to treat Russia like part of the solution in Ukraine and Syria, when in reality, Moscow is a big — or in the case of Ukraine, the biggest — part of the problem.
It has compelled Europe to tread lightly with Putin, even as the Kremlin exacerbates the continent’s migrant crisis and backs the xenophobic parties that are exploiting it.
And it has nudged the United States toward reluctantly treating Russia like the rival superpower it longs to be.
“The idea behind reflexive control is to shape the environment in such a way that the enemy chooses Russia’s preferred course of action voluntarily, because it is easiest and all the others appear much more difficult and risky, if not impossible,” military analysts Frederick and Kimberly Kagan wrote recently.
“Reflexive control allows a much weaker force to constrain and even control the activities of a much stronger force.”
Forcing Bad Choices
Russia’s intervention in Syria, its relentless bombing campaign in Aleppo, and its creative interpretations of the cease-fires it signs are textbook examples.
By creating military facts on the ground with one hand while pushing for a diplomatic solution with the other, Moscow has effectively hamstrung Western efforts to remove Bashar al-Assad.
As foreign-affairs analyst Frederic C. Hoff of the Atlantic Council noted recently, the Kremlin is “trying hard to force upon the United States a binary choice” between Assad and the Islamic State extremist group “by eliminating militarily all alternatives to the twin wreckers of Syria.”
Moreover, by indiscriminately bombing civilian targets, Russia is exacerbating Europe’s refugee crisis. And in doing so, it has sent a message to Brussels that things will only get better once relations with Moscow are normalized and sanctions are lifted.
And if Europe doesn’t play ball? Well, this is where reflexive control becomes outright extortion.
“If this wave of humanity — some of it terrified, some of it simply disgusted — enables the political bottom-feeders of Western Europe to rise to the top, will this not serve the purposes of Mr. Putin?” Hoff wrote.
Russia has also played the reflexive-control game in Ukraine, which defense analyst Can Kasapoglu called a “laboratory” for the technique in a recent research note for the NATO Defense College.
Moscow managed to prevent the authorities in Kyiv from offering any resistance to the forceful annexation of Crimea, it has kept the West confused about its troop levels and military goals in Donbas, and it has gotten itself recognized as a signatory of the Minsk cease-fire, but not as a combatant in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“Moscow has used this technique skillfully to persuade the U.S. and its European allies to remain largely passive in the face of Russia’s efforts to disrupt and dismantle Ukraine through military and nonmilitary means,” Maria Snegovaya wrote in a recent report for Institute for the Study of War.
She added that Kremlin has also “sowed discord within the NATO alliance and created tensions between potential adversaries about how to respond.”
The Limits Of Extortion
Reflexive control has also had it’s limitations, as it has thus far not prevented the West from imposing, and maintaining, sanctions that are helping cripple the Russian economy.
And as Western elites become increasingly aware of what Moscow is doing — and how they are doing it, these tactics “will return to haunt Moscow,” Maksim Trudolyubov, editor at large of the Russian daily Vedomosti, wrote in The New York Times.
“The Kremlin can change facts on the ground, stage quasi cease-fires and create zones of influence to exert pressure on other nations. It has done so in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine, and the pattern is now being repeated in Syria,” Trudolyubov wrote.
“But if you have the reputation of turning everything you touch into a weapon, everything you say and do might be construed as an attack. You become everyone’s enemy. Russia’s leaders have become so adept at their game of projecting menacing ambiguity that it is now impossible for them to persuade anyone that sometimes the Russians might just simply want to do business.”
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Russia using Syria to run circles around U.S. (Opinion)

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In October, when Russia started bombing Syria, Obama confidently predicted that Putin would regret his decision to enter the Syrian civil war. "An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population," Obama predicted, "is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won't work."
Perhaps in the long term Obama will be proved right and Syria will, in fact, become Putin's Vietnam. But so far, Putin has not only turned the tide of war in Syria, reversing what was a steady loss of territory for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, but he is also playing his Syria intervention as part of a global chess match against the West. To put it bluntly, Putin is running circles around the United States and Europe.
1. Russia is taunting Turkey, hoping for a crack in NATO unity.
The tensions between Russia and Turkey -- a NATO member -- have intensified since Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian plane near its Syrian border in November. Since then, Russia has kept its promise to exact a painful price in retaliation. Diplomatic, economic and on-the-ground consequences are visible.
Turkey says Russian planes continue to violate its airspace. Turkey is already shelling positions held by Russian-supported Syrian Kurds. If Turkey moves forces into Syria, which is possible, the prospect of direct Russian-Turkish fighting could force the United States and Europe to join the fight under NATO's collective defense principle. NATO would face the choice of going to war against Russia for the sake of its least reliable ally, Turkey, or enduring a dangerous crack in the alliance.
2. Russia is courting the Syrian Kurds, threatening American links to important allies in the fight against ISIS.
A few weeks ago, the United Nations sponsored a sad round of Syria peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland. The Syrian Kurds, America's most effective on-the-ground allies against ISIS and who hold a significant amount of Syrian territory, were not invited to the doomed conference because Turkey views the Kurdish YPG, or People's Protection Units, as terrorist enemies. While the United States didn't have much to say on the issue, Russia embraced the Syrian Kurds with both arms. Russia argued that they should be included. And now, the Syrian Kurds have opened an office in Moscow, calling the event "a historic moment for the Kurdish people." Not only is Russia highlighting the contradictions and unreliability of America's Syria strategy, but it is courting the Kurds away from the United States.
3. Russia's actions are contributing to a continuing and growing wave of Syrian refugees, with repercussions for the United States and its allies.
While Putin has claimed that Russia's airstrikes in Syria are part of a strategy against ISIS or other terrorist groups, his real aim is to save Assad. To do so, Russia and Assad are targeting mostly non-ISIS groups, and they are bombing with little concern for civilian populations, hoping to leave the West with a choice between Assad and ISIS. The continuous attacks, including most recently in and around Syria's second-largest city, the formerly rebel-held Aleppo, has created a new chapter in the refugee crisis, putting pressure on Turkey, which is already burdened with some 2.5 million refugees, and potentially Europe and the United States.
4. Russia, by helping create more refugees from Syria, is helping divide Europe against itself.
The European Union has survived a multitude of challenges, but the alliance that survived the Greek debt crisis, the banking collapse and even a clash with Russia over its invasion of Ukrainian territory, may not be able to withstand the Syrian refugee crisis. One can imagine a smile of satisfaction on Putin's face as he watches German Chancellor Angela Merkel's idealistic call for opening the borders come under withering attack. The refugee crisis, and the debate over terrorist attacks by Islamists with links to Syrian terrorists, is bolstering extreme right-wing politicians, casting doubt on the viability of Europe's Schengen passport-free travel and putting a shadow on the EU's survival. The weakening of Europe is a loss for the United States and a gain for Russia.
5. Russia is gaming the United States at the diplomatic table.
When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced in Munich, Germany, that world powers had agreed to a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria, few people expected the guns to go quiet. In fact, the one-week delay built into the agreement led some of us to predict that the killing would only intensify as a result of the deal. That is precisely what happened. But that is not all that happened. The Russians toyed with the United States at the negotiating table.
The victims, as always, are the Syrian people, who are giving their lives as world powers and terrorist chieftains decide their fates. Russia agreed to the plan, but it made clear that the shooting halt did not apply to "terrorist" groups. In other words, Russia agreed to nothing but did intensify its attacks in Aleppo, helping secure huge strategic gains for Assad. The U.S. diplomatic effort, which is driven by good intentions, looked hapless.
Perhaps one day Putin will regret intervening in Syria. For now, as his forces bomb hospitals in Syria, and his supporters in Moscow call on the United Nations to punish Obama, Putin can only marvel at the success of his Syrian operation. Not only has he saved Assad from what was starting to look like the end of his rule, but he has also weakened the United States, its allies, and its alliances.
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ТАСС: Политика - Погибший в Сирии российский военный советник представлен к госнаграде