Friday, February 26, 2016

Russia committed not to attack moderate Syrian groups: U.S. official | Europe Feels Urgency to Address Migrant Issue as Pressure, Radicalization Mount | Philip Chism sentenced to at least 40 years in prison - The Boston Globe | Republican Party Identity Questioned as Rubio, Cruz Attack Trump

Temporary Syria truce nears, but fighting continues - CNN

1 Share

CNN

Temporary Syria truce nears, but fighting continues
CNN
(CNN) A main Syrian opposition group says it will respect a two-week truce that is due to start in the war-torn country Saturday morning, but it warned the government and Russia not to target it under a pretense of attacking internationally recognized ... 
Heavy airstrikes in Syria hours before cease-fireWashington Post
In Syria, Airstrikes Continue as Truce Nears
 New York Times

Syrian war cease-fire is shaky from the startUSA TODAY 
Bloomberg-U.S. News & World Report-Newsday
all 2,352 news articles »

Syria temporary truce nears, but fighting continues - CNN

1 Share

CNN

Syria temporary truce nears, but fighting continues
CNN
(CNN) A main Syrian opposition group says it will respect a two-week truce that is due to start in the war-torn country Saturday morning, but it warned the government and Russia not to target it under a pretense of attacking internationally recognized ...
The Latest: UN: rise in military activity before Syria truceWashington Post
Will the Syria Truce Last? Will It Even Begin?Newsweek
Al Qaeda in Syria calls for more fighting as deadline nearsReuters
NBCNews.com
all 2,058 news articles »

Saudi Warplanes Land in Turkey for IS Mission

1 Share
Four Saudi warplanes landed at Incirlik military base in Turkey on Friday to join the U.S-led Western coalition aerial raids against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, Turkish officials and news reports say. VOA reporter Tan Cetin was near the Turkish airbase and confirmed the arrival of the Saudi warplanes as they landed in the morning. This came as a U.S.-Russian-brokered cease-fire unfolded in Syria. The cease-fire does not pertain to coalition forces bombing IS and other terrorist...

Irish election: Sinn Fein poised to be third largest party as voters lash out at austerity 

1 Share
Vote predicted to return hung parliament amid public anger at traditional parties of power, with Gerry Adams' party expected to be one of main beneficaries











Read the whole story
 
· ·

Europe Feels Urgency to Address Migrant Issue as Pressure, Radicalization Mount 

1 Share
From: VOAvideo
Duration: 02:36

Fear in Europe is spreading as more than 40 suspected jihadists posing as Syrian refugees were caught entering Europe. Nineteen were captured in Turkey, but the rest made it into the EU before being identified. Turkish military officers say they found more than 10 kilograms of explosives and four bomb vests that allegedly could be used in suicide attacks in two bags transported by a party of 34 people from Syria. VOA's Jane Bojadzievski has more.
Originally published at - http://www.voanews.com/media/video/europe-feels-urgency-address-micgrant-issue-pressure-radicalization-mount/3209827.html

Philip Chism sentenced to at least 40 years in prison - The Boston Globe

1 Share

The Boston Globe

Philip Chism sentenced to at least 40 years in prison
The Boston Globe
SALEM - Philip D. Chism was sentenced Friday to serve at least 40 years in state prison for the rape and murder of Colleen E. Ritzer, a sentence imposed shortly after Ritzer's parents denounced the teenager as someone “pure evil'' who deserved to be ...
Philip Chism Sentenced To At Least 40 Years For Rape, Murder Of Colleen RitzerCBS Local
The Latest: Teen Who Killed Teacher Gets Life With ParoleABC News
The Latest: Teen who killed math teacher called manipulativeAppeal-Democrat
Boston.com
all 279 news articles »
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 2

Girl in wheelchair sits silently at shut Macedonian border for hours

1 Share
IDOMENI, Greece (Reuters) - Wheelchair-bound Zhino Hasan, 17, sat silently and alone for most of Friday in front of a closed border gate, hoping that Macedonia would relent and allow her and her family to resume their northward trek through the Balkans to Germany.
  

Who Was Artur Samarin? Ukrainian Man Arrested For Posing As U.S. High School Student

1 Share
Many people are scratching their heads trying to figure out how a Ukrainian citizen on a temporary visa to the United States was able to pose as a high school student for four years.

Russia committed not to attack moderate Syrian groups: U.S. official

1 Share
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Russia has committed not to launch strikes against Syrian groups the United States considers to be part of the moderate opposition, the U.S. State Department said on Friday, hours before a cessation of hostilities in Syria was due to start.
  

Republican Party Identity Questioned as Rubio, Cruz Attack Trump 

1 Share
Two wings of a divided Republican party have focused the most intense attacks to date on frontrunner Donald Trump in a last-chance bid to stop the billionaire businessman's momentum before a set of crucial primary elections. After weeks of battling one another, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz - representing the party establishment and its conservative wing respectively - unleashed a barrage of attacks on the outspoken candidate in a final debate before Super...

Argentine judge summons Fernandez for questioning in fraud probe

1 Share
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - An Argentine judge has summoned former President Cristina Fernandez for questioning in a probe into the sale of dollar future contracts at below market rates by the central bank just months before she handed over power in December.









  

Pencils and rankings: It’s time for an Irish-style election

1 Share
Ireland is voting for a new government Friday, but the country might not know the full official results until Monday — and the government won’t take shape until next month, if one can even be formed. The AP explains some of the peculiarities of Ireland’s democracy and its slow dance with election results.















Read the whole story
 
· · · ·
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 3

February 26, 2016

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

The IRS Hack Was Twice as Bad as We Thought - The Atlantic

1 Share

The Atlantic

The IRS Hack Was Twice as Bad as We Thought
The Atlantic
On Friday, for the second time in six months, the Internal Revenue Service revised its estimate of the scale of a cyberattack on its systems, announcing that a total of about 724,000 individuals may have had their personal information stolen by hackers ...
The IRS says hackers stole data for twice as many taxpayers as initially expectedWashington Post
Cyber hack gained access to more than 700000 IRS accountsUSA TODAY
IRS Says Cyberattacks on Taxpayer Accounts More Extensive Than Previously ReportedWall Street Journal
Reuters -NBCNews.com -The Fiscal Times
all 136 news articles »

Why Hillary Clinton's Privacy Can't Be Invaded - Bloomberg

1 Share

Bloomberg

Why Hillary Clinton's Privacy Can't Be Invaded
Bloomberg
Not because people don't keep trying—because her armor, developed over decades in public life, keeps her unknowable. Will Leitch williamfleitch. February 26, 2016 — 1:21 PM PST. Share on FacebookShare on Twitter · Share on LinkedInShare on ...
New Hillary Clinton ad features Gabby GiffordsCBS News
Gabby Giffords stars in latest Clinton adCNN International
Gabby Giffords stars in Clinton adKOAT Albuquerque
The Boston Globe
all 23 news articles »

Syria truce agreement takes effect

1 Share
A landmark temporary truce comes into effect in Syria as the UN announces the possible resumption of peace talks.

Jobs, Health-care Access Weigh Heavy on African-American Voters

1 Share
All eyes are on the Democratic primary in South Carolina, where the African-American vote takes center stage for the first time in the U.S. presidential race. Nearly a third of the state's population is African-American, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have been fighting for their key vote. VOA correspondent Aru Pande visited a small town to go beyond politics and see what issues matter most to residents.

Questions Nag in Sweden 30 Years After Leader’s Assassination 

1 Share
The unsolved shooting of Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986 was a watershed moment in history that continues to fascinate and haunt the country.
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 4

The Latest: Cease-fire goes into effect across Syria - Washington Post

1 Share

Washington Post

The Latest: Cease-fire goes into effect across Syria
Washington Post
BEIRUT — The Latest on the conflict in Syria and the provisional cease-fire proposed by the U.S. and Russia that is to go into effect at midnight (all times local): 12.00 p.m.. A cease-fire brokered by the US and Russia has come into effect across ...
Syria cessation of hostilities agreement comes into effectReuters
Temporary Syria truce nears, but fighting continuesCNN
Fighting Rages in Syria on Eve of Partial Cease-FireWall Street Journal
CBS News -Huffington Post
all 2,591 news articles »

The Sentencing of a Toddler Shows How Out of Control Egypt’s Security State Has Become 

1 Share
A military court mistakenly sentences a toddler to life in prison. A police officer shoots a driver dead on a busy Cairo street. A judge sends a writer to jail over salacious scenes in a novel.
As a result of those headlines and others, Egypt’s judiciary and security forces are facing a sudden increase in public anger over rights abuses. Calls for reform have moved from the street to the media and even to the floor of the Egyptian parliament, a body usually regarded as little more than a rubber-stamp appendage of the regime.
Discontent with the police and judicial system also cropped up this week in Egypt’s mainstream news media, including critical words from voices normally sympathetic to the state and to the regime of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. The increased scrutiny, particularly of the police, has played out in the pages of Egypt’s newspapers, and on Feb. 12, thousands of doctors held a rare demonstration over the beating and arrest of two physicians.
The uproar poses a serious challenge for Sisi a former military chief who came to power following an army coup in July 2013. Sisi has maintained a tight grip on the government and presided over an increasingly authoritarian state. But he is now grappling with the problem of managing vast state institutions—including the judiciary—that maintain a degree of autonomy even from a very powerful executive.
Sisi is evidently feeling some of the pressure, responding to recent criticism in an emotional televised speech on Wednesday. “No one should abuse my patience and good manners to bring down the state,” he said in a rambling 90-minute address in Cairo. “I swear by God that anyone who comes near it, I will remove him from the face of the Earth. I am telling you this as the whole of Egypt is listening. What do you think you’re doing? Who are you?” he said, according to the Associated Press.
The judiciary and security forces have been on the leading edge of a violent crackdown on critics of the state since the military takeover that ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013. Since then, the authorities have detained tens of thousands of people—activists, students, and bystanders—in a security campaign intended to quell the years of unrest that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
Yet several recent incidents have managed to enrage even cynical Egyptians, underscoring the lack of accountability for the actions of the judges, prosecutors and security officials. On Feb. 18 a police sergeant shot a driver in the head, killing him, following an argument, according to prosecutors. The officer was forced to flee the scene of the killing on the street in the working class district of Darb al-Ahmar after a crowd of outraged residents rose up against him.
The murder prompted renewed calls for reform of the Interior Ministry following years in which police have expanded their lethal use of force. According to the respected Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence—which is itself facing closure by state authorities—474 peopledied at the hands of the security forces in 2015.
Two days later, an appeals court sentenced novelist Ahmed Naji to two years in prison for the crime of “violating public modesty” over a published excerpt of a novel that depicted sex and drug use among Cairo’s disaffected young people. Naji’s sentencing escalated the media backlash, with some figures holding Sisi himself responsible for the actions of the court. In a column published after the ruling, the influential pundit Ibrahim Eissa—a dissident under Mubarak who backed the military’s 2013 removal of Morsi—accused Sisi of running a “theocracy.” That’s an inflammatory charge—Sisi justified the military’s overthrow of the Islamist-led government of Morsi in part over fears that the Brotherhood would impose just such a theocracy.
And then there’s the baffling case of three-year-old Ahmed Mansour Qurni Sharara, who on Feb. 16 was sentenced by a military court sentenced to life in prison. The boy was one of 116 people tried in connection with a January 2014 anti-government protest in Fayoum, a town about 60 miles southwest of Cairo. Such mass trials, in which dozens or hundreds of people are tried on one set of criminal charges, in civilian or military court, have become commonplace as the judicial system processes thousands of detainees and others charged in connection with protests that have occurred since the 2013 military takeover.
During the protests in Fayoum, security forces dispersed the crowd using teargas and live ammunition, killing three people. Prosecutors then filed charges against what Human Rights Watch called “a seemingly random assortment of Fayoum residents,” including the brothers of two of the dead protesters and a dead man, according to Human Rights Watch, which cited a lawyer researching the case.
When police arrived at the child’s home to arrest him in 2014, his family presented a birth certificate proving Sharara was a young child. But the officers refused to believe them, and instead arrested the boy’s father in his place, detaining him for four months. After the sentences were handed down on Feb. 16—and after news that a toddler had been sentenced to jail became public—Egypt’s military spokesman’s office said the three-year-old’s name was mistakenly listed in the case. Rather, the authorities had intended to charge a 16-year-old student of the same name, the spokesman said in a statement.
The Sharara case was extreme, but such errors are commonplace in the mass trials. “The military courts are chosen precisely because they’re rapid, and have fewer procedural safeguards,” says Nathan Brown, an expert on the Egyptian judiciary and a political scientist at George Washington University. “So something like this is easily conceivable.”
Read More: The Last Moments
The absurdity of the case came into full public view when a beaming young Ahmed, apparently unaware of the legal ordeal he was facing, appeared alongside his parents in a television interviewapparently filmed in the family’s living room. “This case exemplifies the banality of repression in Egypt today,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
It’s clear from his rhetoric and his action that Sisi is leading the broader crackdown on dissidents, but it’s increasingly less obvious that he actually controls all the rival state institutions that are taking part. In previous cases in recent years, judges have sentenced hundreds to death in mass trials, and sent three Al Jazeera journalists to prison on charges of collaborating with terrorists in a case where thesupposed evidence included video of a horse and a news report on sheep farming. “They’re acting with a lot of institutional independence but at the same time, they’re influenced by the general authoritarian, conservative political climate,” says Karim Medhat Ennarah, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a leading watchdog group.
By continuing the clampdown on dissidents, analysts say Egypt’s current regime is showing its own concerns about the country’s political stability. That could backfire—the Arab Spring protests of 2011 are still fresh in many Egyptians’ minds, and popular resentment at police abuses was one of the key drivers of the revolt. Despite the ministry’s denials, critics say Egypt’s security forces and judiciary are acting without serious oversight. “I think this is a regime that is no longer able to present a coherent vision, or even any serious public policy successes to the population,” says Brown. “That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s going to be a new uprising tomorrow, but it does mean that the dis-coordination, the policy failures, and the lack of accountability in this system are now subjects for public discussion.”
The implications of the media debate over recent state abuses are also unclear. Rasha Abdullah, an expert on Egyptian media and Associate Professor at the American University in Cairo, said coverage of the Fayoum toddler case treated it as a “human interest disaster,” rather than as a sign of systematic failure. The media outrage could dissipate over time, rather than adding up to any kind of change. “It could also be a venting mechanism,” she says. “In the Mubarak days some of these people have definitely played that role before, to have people empathize with what they’re saying and vent along with them, and that in the long run prevents more abrupt or more aggressive venting from happening.” After all, Egyptians—Sisi included—have very recent experience with how popular uprisings can topple governments.
Read the whole story
 
· · · · · ·

Egyptian Court Convicts Four Teens for Mocking Muslim Prayers 

1 Share
A court in Egypt has convicted four Coptic teenagers for contempt of Islam after they appeared in a short video mocking Muslim prayers. The mobile phone video, which went viral in April 2015, was filmed after the beheading of dozens of Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State group in Libya last year. A court in southern Minya province on Thursday gave five-year jail terms to three of the teens and referred a fourth one to a juvenile facility for an indefinite period. In the...

A cease-fire brokered by the US and Russia has come into effect across Syria, but IS and Nusra Front are excluded

1 Share
A cease-fire brokered by the US and Russia has come into effect across Syria, but IS and Nusra Front are excluded.









Fragile Ceasefire Takes Effect in Syria, but Not for ISIS

1 Share
(BEIRUT)—A cease-fire brokered by the US and Russia has come into effect across Syria, but ISIS and al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, are excluded.
The cease-fire aims at reducing violence in Syria with the hope of bringing back representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition to the negotiating table in Geneva for talks on a political transition.
If the cessation of hostilities holds, it would be the first time international negotiations have brought any degree of quiet in Syria’s five-year civil war.
The Syrian government and the opposition, including nearly 100 rebel groups, have said they will abide by the cease-fire despite serious skepticism about chances for success.

Iran votes in first elections since landmark nuclear deal

1 Share
Indication of high turnout could mean a boost for moderates and reformists aligned with President Rouhani.















Read the whole story
 
· · ·
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 5

Syria cessation of hostilities agreement comes into effect

1 Share
BEIRUT (Reuters) - A cessation of hostilities in Syria came into effect at the agreed time of midnight on Saturday (2200 GMT Friday), under a U.S.-Russian plan which warring sides in the five-year conflict have said they would commit to.









  

Five dead in America's third mass shooting in a week

1 Share
A man killed his family of four before turning his gun on himself in a standoff with police 70 miles west of Seattle











Read the whole story
 
· ·

China's high-speed sexual revolution

1 Share
China's high-speed sexual revolution

Handover of Oil Assets to Chechen Authorities: Start of Devolution of Power in Russia?

1 Share
Chechnya is gearing up to establish control over its oil-extracting business. The procedure for handing over the Rosneft affiliate Chechenneftekhimprom to the Chechen authorities is expected to be completed in March. For the first time in many years, Grozny is close to acquiring full control over the oil business in the republic. Chechnya’s governor, Ramzan Kadyrov, appears to have outsmarted the giant Russian state oil company Rosneft and its head, Igor Sechin, who is reportedly a close associate of President Vladimir Putin. The Chechen authorities accused Rosneft of failing to invest in oil extraction and refining and vow to revive the republic’s oil sector (Onkavkaz.com, February 18).
Sources close to the Chechen leadership have said Kadyrov intends to force Sechin to rid Rosneft of all its remaining assets in the republic. Low oil prices and the existence of prospective oil fields in Siberia make doing so quite profitable for Rosneft. Oil extraction in Chechnya started long ago and many of its oil fields have been exhausted, while deeper oil fields require greater investment to exploit—something Rosneft apparently did not want to do. Oil extraction in Chechnya was a small fraction—0.23 percent—of Rosneft’s total. Despite the impracticality of controlling oil extraction in Chechnya, the political symbolism of handing over the assets to the republic is quite significant. The republic’s oil business was one of the main flashpoints in Russian-Chechen relations during the past 25 years. The Chechen quest for independence from Russia in the 1990s was partly based on its oil reserves and oil refineries. Prior to the second Russian-Chechen war of 1999–2000, the republic’s three oil refineries could jointly process 20 million tons of oil per year. Chechnya’s oil-processing enterprises accounted for 6 percent of Russian gasoline and up to 90 percent of the oil products for the country’s aviation industry. After Russian forces levelled the Chechen oil industry and established control over the republic, Moscow started investing in the oil industry in Chechnya in an effort to rebuild its war-torn economy (Meduza.io, February 16). Now, the Chechen authorities are set to take control over what is left of the oil industry once again, this time with the approval of Moscow.
Handing over the oil industry in Chechnya to the regional authorities is not merely an economic question, but also a major political one. The Russian opposition has accused the Chechen leadership of masterminding the murder of prominent Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, in February 2015. Since then, Kadyrov has made a number of controversial statements that put him at odds with large parts of Russian society, which may dislike the Russian opposition, but tends to dislike ethnic non-Russians even more. Some Russian analysts see a struggle going on between the Russian security services and Kadyrov, with the former having appealed to Putin to let them remove Kadyrov from power, to no avail (Newrezume.org, February 17). Instead of removing Kadyrov from power, or at least somehow undermining his authority, the Kremlin announced that it is handing over critical assets to the Chechen government. Is it a sign of devolution of power from the center to the periphery in Russia or a local victory for Kadyrov?
Russia’s economic downturn is evidently taking a toll on Moscow’s centralizing efforts in the country. The central government has already had to rewrite the budget for 2016, because it was drafted based on the assumption that the average oil price would be $50 dollars per barrel—$35 per barrel as the worst scenario. However, oil prices have dropped to $30 and lower since the beginning of 2016 (Vedomosti, January 11).
Moscow will soon have no money to send to Chechnya or the rest of the North Caucasus, meaning that it will have to drastically reduce government subsidies. Hence, the Kremlin may be trying other ways of sustaining the region in an effort to keep the local elites happy. This particularly applies to the Chechen Republic, which on the one hand still lacks the necessary tools to sustain itself but on the other hand has substantial armed forces that have to be provided for in order to ensure they remain under control. Handing over the oil industry to Grozny appears to be a way to appease the republican elites and is simultaneously a sign of approval for Ramzan Kadyrov. As the next step, Moscow will likely have to expand its accommodations for Kadyrov’s government. Perhaps more important is the significance of this move for the other North Caucasus republics, particularly its implications for neighboring Dagestan. Dagestan reportedly has substantial oil and gas deposits that its officials are not allowed to touch without Moscow’s approval. The devolution of power is likely to accelerate further if the leadership of Russia changes. But even with Putin in charge, it seems that regionalization of the country is slowly taking place; and the possibility that Chechnya could regain control over its energy resources has enormous implications for the rest of the North Caucasus.
Read the whole story
 
· · ·

Apple vs. FBI: How Far Can The Government Go In The Name Of 'National Security'? - Forbes

1 Share

Forbes

Apple vs. FBI: How Far Can The Government Go In The Name Of 'National Security'?
Forbes
The FBI and Apple are locked in a legal struggle that will very likely end up in front of the Supreme Court eventually. Government intelligence and law enforcement agencies are tasked with identifying, preventing, and investigating terrorist threats ...
Most Americans still think Apple should comply with FBI orders, new poll showsThe Verge
An iPhone backdoor like the FBI wants is even more dangerous than you thinkBGR
Apple's Tim Cook to shareholders: Taking on the FBI is the right thing to doLos Angeles Times
New York Times -CBS News -CNNMoney
all 6,294 news articles »

Apple's Tim Cook to shareholders: Taking on the FBI is the right thing to do - Los Angeles Times

1 Share

Los Angeles Times

Apple's Tim Cook to shareholders: Taking on the FBI is the right thing to do
Los Angeles Times
Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook defended his hard-line stance against the FBI and a court order over consumer privacy as “the right things to do” during the company's annual investors conference Friday. “We are a staunch advocate for our customers' ...
Really understanding Apple's legal brief in the FBI caseThe Verge
Here's what it would cost Apple to help the FBI hack an iPhoneCNNMoney 
Apple vs. FBI: How Far Can The Government Go In The Name Of 'National Security'?Forbes
CIO-BGR
 -New York Times

all 6,537 news articles »
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 6

Court says terrorism victims can collect $2.8M award to Iran

1 Share
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A federal appeals court says 10 terrorist attack victims who won financial claims against Iran can seize a $2.8 million judgment owed to that country's defense ministry.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the seizure would not violate agreements between Iran and ...

Really understanding Apple's legal brief in the FBI case - The Verge

1 Share

The Verge

Really understanding Apple's legal brief in the FBI case
The Verge
The fight between Apple and the FBI over the security protections on the San Bernadino iPhone has been fierce for the past few weeks, but it's mostly been a PR battle thus far. From a legal and procedural standpoint, only two things had actually ...

and more »

Two Marines Brutally Attacked in D.C. on Same Day

1 Share
Two Marines were attacked in the nation’s capital earlier this month, though police believe that the two incidents are unrelated.
A veteran Marine was assaulted and robbed by a pair of teenagers at a McDonald’s restaurant in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 12, according to reports. Local WUSA9 reported Thursday that a second Marine, Michael Schroeder, was attacked on D.C. the same day.
According to his family, Schroeder was found facedown between two cars with money missing in the northwest neighborhood of Glover Park. Two people passing by in a taxi noticed Schroeder and called police.
Schroeder, who was transported to George Washington University Hospital, suffered a fractured skull and a concussion. It remains unclear what happened; Schroeder told the news outlet that the last thing he remembers was walking home.
“I wasn’t trying to find trouble. I was actually just trying to walk home,” he said.
According to a police report, Schroeder, who served in Iraq, was found facedown between two town cars. He felt cold, was bleeding from his head, and appeared intoxicated, the report said.
Schroeder’s twin brother, a fellow Marine, said that doctors believe his brother was likely attacked from behind.
“This will probably go down as an assault or attempted robbery but when you hit somebody in the head and hard enough to fracture their skull with something harder than a metal or fist, it should be looked at as attempted murder,” he said.
Christopher Marquez, the decorated Marine veteran who was also attacked on Feb. 12, told the Washington Post that he was assaulted by a group of black teenagers in what he believed to be a racially-motivated attack. D.C. police arrested two teenagers in connection with the assault this week.

An unlikely normalcy prevails in the Syrian capital

1 Share
The serenity of the capital's historic Marjeh Square reflects the adaptability of Syrians and resilience of human nature. It also underscores the strategically important success of President Bashar Assad in insulating his seat of power from the devastation that has swept much of the country in the nearly 5-year-old civil war.
     

UN peacekeeper shoots dead 2 colleagues in northern Mali

1 Share
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali says a peacekeeper has shot dead two colleagues in what has been called a "settling of scores."
     

Anti-Putin Opposition Marks Nemtsov's Death Amid Fear and Apathy

1 Share
A year after the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, beleaguered anti-Kremlin activists are seeking to overcome repression and apathy to challenge President Vladimir Putin as parliamentary elections approach.
Protesters plan a march through central Moscow on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the Feb. 27 killing of Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who was gunned down on a bridge next to the Kremlin. His ally, former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, said he expects as many as 80,000 to take part after Moscow city authorities refused a request to allow protesters to gather at the spot where Nemtsov was murdered.
The demonstration takes place amid continued harassment of opposition activists by the authorities and Kremlin supporters ahead of parliamentary elections in September as Russians endure the longest economic recession of Putin’s 16-year rule, with incomes falling the most since he came to power. Anger over alleged ballot-rigging in 2011 parliamentary elections triggered Russia’s biggest street protests in nearly two decades against Putin’s return to the presidency for a third term.
The authorities “are afraid of destabilization, which for them means free elections and constitutional rule,” Kasyanov said in an interview. “Dictators disappear quickly once they show any sort of weakness. That’s why Putin can’t show weakness and why his loyalists are trying to eradicate anything that breathes.”

Hardships, Protests

Despite the hardships Russians face, Putin’s public approval has held near a record-high amid airstrikes in Syria and the standoff with the U.S. and the European Union over Ukraine. There’s only a 30 percent chance that economic distress and rising poverty will translate into political unrest of the kind seen in 2011 as Russia enters a second year of recession amid the slump in oil prices, according to the median of 27 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
Nemtsov’s death shocked Russians and sparked opposition allegations that it was the result of a campaign of hatred stirred up by the Kremlin to bolster Putin’s support. He was shot two days before he was due to lead a protest over the economic crisis and less than a week after a Kremlin-backed rally called Putin’s opponents “national traitors” who should be “purged.”
The main suspect in the killing, Zaur Dadayev, was deputy head of an elite police unit loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s Chechnya region who’s repeatedly threatened opposition activists. Kadyrov has denied any involvement in the killing and said he’s willing to testify.
Kasyanov said a group of men he believed to be Chechens shouted threats and threw a cake at him in a Moscow restaurant on Feb. 9. While he didn’t accuse Kadyrov of responsibility, the attack came days after the Chechen leader posted a video on his Instagram account showing Kasyanov apparently in the crosshairs of a scope sight. Kadyrov later added a picture of himself with a sniper rifle.
The Chechen leader’s involvement in threats against opposition figures show the Kremlin’s become “hysterical” over the political and economic situation in Russia, Kasyanov said. Another opposition leader, Alexey Navalny, said Thursday on Twitter that he was hit by two cakes thrown by unidentified men outside his Moscow office.
Read the whole story
 
· ·
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 7

The road to Aleppo: how the West misread Putin over Syria

1 Share
BEIRUT/WASHINGTON/MOSCOW Last July, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seemed to be losing his battle against rebel forces. Speaking to supporters in Damascus, he acknowledged his army's heavy losses.
Western officials said the Syrian leader’s days were numbered and predicted he would soon be forced to the negotiating table.
It did not turn out that way. Secret preparations were already underway for a major deployment of Russian and Iranian forces in support of Assad.
The military intervention, taking many in the West by surprise, would roll back rebel gains. It would also accelerate two shifts in U.S. diplomacy: Washington would welcome Iran to the negotiating table over Syria, and it would no longer insist that Assad step down immediately.
"That involved swallowing some pride, to be honest, in acknowledging that this process would go nowhere unless you got Russia and Iran at the table," a U.S. official said.
At the heart of the diplomacy shift – which essentially brought Washington closer to Moscow's position – was a slow-footed realization of the Russian military build-up in Syria and, ultimately, a refusal to intervene militarily.
Russia, Iran and Syria struck their agreement to deploy military forces in June, several weeks before Assad's July 26 speech, according to a senior official in the Middle East who was familiar with the details.
And Russian sources say large amounts of equipment, and hundreds of troops, were being dispatched over a series of weeks, making it hard to hide the pending operation.
Yet a senior U.S. administration official said it took until mid-September for Western powers to fully recognize Russia's intentions. One of the final pieces of the puzzle was when Moscow deployed aircraft flown only by the Russian military, eliminating the possibility they were intended for Assad, the official said.
An earlier understanding of Russia’s military plans is unlikely to have changed U.S. military policy. President Barack Obama had made clear early on that he did not want Washington embroiled in a proxy war with Russia. And when the West did wake up to Russian President Vladimir Putin's intentions, it was short of ideas about how to respond.
As in Ukraine in 2014, the West seemed helpless.
French President Francois Hollande summed up the mood among America's European allies: "I would prefer the United States to be more active. But since the United States has stepped back, who should take over, who should act?"
SIGNPOSTS
    In July last year, one of Iran's top generals, Qassem Soleimani, went to Moscow on a visit that was widely reported. The senior Middle Eastern official told Reuters that Soleimani had also met Putin twice several weeks before that.
    "They defined zero hour for the Russian planes and equipment, and the Russian and Iranian crews," he said.
    Russia began sending supply ships through the Bosphorus in August, Reuters reported at the time. There was no attempt to hide the voyages and on Sept. 9 Reuters reported that Moscow had begun participating in military operations in Syria.
    A Russian Air Force colonel, who took part in preparations and provided fresh details of the build-up, said hundreds of Russian pilots and ground staff were selected for the Syria mission in mid-August. 
    Warplanes sent to Syria included the Sukhoi-25 and Sukhoi-24 offensive aircraft, U.S. officials said. In all, according to U.S. officials, Russia by Sept. 21 had 28 fixed-wing aircraft, 16 helicopters, advanced T-90 tanks and other armored vehicles, artillery, anti-aircraft batteries and hundreds of marines at its base near Latakia.
    Despite this public build-up, the West either played down the risks or failed to recognize them.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sept. 22 that Russian aircraft were in Syria to defend the Russians' base - "force protection" in the view of U.S. military experts.
At the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 28, the French announced their own first air strikes in Syria.
"The international community is hitting Daesh (Islamic State). France is hitting Daesh. The Russians, for now, are not doing anything," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Fabius said at the time.
The next day Russia announced its strikes in Syria.
WARNINGS
One former U.S. official, who was in government at the time, told Reuters that some U.S. officials had begun voicing concern that Russia would intervene militarily in Syria two weeks before the bombing began.
Their concerns, however, were disregarded by officials in the White House and those dealing with the Middle East because of a lack of hard intelligence, the former U.S. official said.
"There was this tendency to say, 'We don't know. Let's see,'" recounted the former U.S. official.
Yet between October and December, American perceptions shifted, as reported by Reuters at the time.
By December, U.S. officials had concluded that Russia had achieved its main goal of stabilizing Assad’s government and could maintain its operations in Syria for years.
"I think it’s indisputable that the Assad regime, with Russian military support, is probably in a safer position than it was," a senior administration official said.
DIPLOMATIC U-TURN
At that point, the U.S. pivoted to the negotiating table with Russia and Iran. Officials say they had few other options with Obama unwilling to commit American ground troops to Syria, aside from small deployments of Special Operations forces, or provide U.S.-backed opposition fighters with anti-aircraft missiles.
    In Munich on Feb 12, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced an agreement for humanitarian access and a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria, far short of a ceasefire.
"Putin has taken the measure of the West... He has basically concluded, I can push and push and push and push and I am never going to hit steel anywhere," said Fred Hof, a former State Department and Pentagon Syria expert now at the Atlantic Council think tank.
Today, U.S. officials sound a far different note than in the early days of the uprising against Assad when they said his exit must be immediate. Now, with the war entering its sixth year, they say they must push the diplomatic possibilities as far as possible and insist Kerry is fully aware of what Russia is doing to change facts on the ground.
In congressional testimony on Wednesday, Kerry acknowledged there was no guarantee the "cessation of hostilities" would work, adding: "But I know this: If it doesn’t work, the potential is there that Syria will be utterly destroyed. The fact is that we need to make certain that we are exploring and exhausting every option of diplomatic resolution."
For the rebels, the reality is bleak.
    Government forces have closed in on the city of Aleppo, a major symbol of the uprising. Their supply routes from Turkey cut, rebels in the Aleppo area now say it may only be a matter of time before they are crushed altogether.
    "We are heading toward being liquidated I think," said a former official in a rebel group from the city.
Other fighters remain determinedly upbeat, saying Assad is only gaining ground because of Russian air power and he will not be able to sustain the advances.
For Syrians living under government rule in Damascus, Moscow's intervention has inspired a degree of confidence. They credit one of the calmest periods since the start of the war to the death of rebel leader Zahran Alloush, killed in a Russian air strike on Christmas Day.
    There are few foreign visitors these days. Bashar al-Seyala, who owns a souvenir shop in the Old City, said most of his foreign customers are Russians. His shop had just sold out of mugs printed with Putin's face.
(Additional reporting by John Irish, Arshad Mohammed, Lesley Wroughton, Warren Strobel, Lou Charbonneau and Mark Hosenball; Writing by Giles Elgood; editing by Janet McBride)
Read the whole story
 
· · · · · ·

Putin can cash in on Syria gains with cease-fire

1 Share
Russian President Vladimir Putin has a chance to cash in on his gains in Syria by scaling down his bombing blitz when a cease-fire takes effect Friday night so he can emerge as a peace broker with international stature.
     

Baltic countries want a longer NATO commitment to counter Russia

1 Share
NATO's eastern-flank members are lobbying for a long-term alliance commitment to increased military forces in their countries, along with authority for those forces to respond quickly to possible Russian intervention, in advance of formal political approval from NATO headquarters in Brussels.
     

Opposition Report on Ramzan Kadyrov Breaks No New Ground

1 Share
The Russian opposition promised to deliver a groundbreaking report on Chechnya by Ilya Yashin, the deputy chairman of the Svoboda-Parnas party, long before February 23. On February 7, Yashin surprised the Chechen authorities after he asserted that he had visited the republic’s capital and published photographs of Grozny on social media, as proof of his visit (Mk.ru, February 8). The Chechen authorities were outraged by Yashin’s trip and tried to show that it was nothing more than a Russian opposition PR campaign prior to his presentation of the report on Chechnya in Moscow (Vz.ru, February 23).
The day before the report’s presentation, unidentified individuals warned that bombs had been placed in the Parnas party’s headquarters in Moscow. The day of the presentation, police evacuated the Parnas headquarters (Svoboda.org, February 23) after an anonymous caller phoned in another bomb threat. During the presentation, despite security checks at the entrance, some people managed to sneak in to protest against Yashin’s report (RIA Novosti, February 23). Many observers believed that Kadyrov’s supporters would try to prevent the report from being presented in Moscow. On the morning of February 23, several hours before the presentation, Kadyrov, in a surprise move, published the report on all his social media accounts. He was able to do so because the website of the Open Russia foundation had prematurely published Yashin’s report by accident: the foundation planned to post only one of its chapters, but accidentally released the whole thing. The entire report was available on the Open Russia site for only five minutes, but it was enough for Kadyrov to download it and then post it on his social media sites (Ya-kadyrov.livejournal.com, February 23).
Many foreign media outlets accredited in Russia were interested in the report because they expected to learn something new about the murder of Boris Nemtsov and his killers’ ties to the Chechen authorities. Instead, Yashin presented a colorful report with numerous photos from the Internet, where almost all his material came from, but it contained nothing new.
The report, titled “Threat to National Security,” consists of nine chapters and 30 sections (Putin-itogi.ru, Fenruary 23). It starts with the so-called ethnic cleansing of Russians in Chechnya at the beginning of the 1990s, which already casts doubt on how balanced the report is. No Russian human rights organization has ever referred to the migration processes in Chechnya at that time as the “ethnic cleansing of Russians,” because the number of Chechens leaving the republic during those years was actually higher than members of other ethnic groups. It appears that Yashin, in his report, was paying tribute to Russian nationalists like Aleksei Navalny, the opposition leader who fights corruption while, at the same time, makes no secret of his anti-Caucasian sentiments. Further, the author asserts that Ramzan Kadyrov fought the Russian army during the first Russian-Chechen war in 1994–1996, which is also a dubious assertion. The report details how Kadyrov’s rule was built, describes the charitable funds providing financial support that are associated with criminals, and lists his private military formations (which are officially listed as units of the federal forces). The report asserts that Kadyrov used violence and committed atrocities against his political adversaries (which investigations conducted by federal structures have not confirmed). It also says that Kadyrov created a personality cult and Islamized the republic, as Sharia is put above Russian laws. However, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has found no evidence of this, either. Yashin also writes about the involvement of people from Kadyrov’s inner circle in Boris Nemtsov’s murder.
Nevertheless, the report does not contain a single new fact or new explanation that would provide insight into Ramzan Kadyrov and his role in Russian politics. A good lawyer could potentially refute Ilya Yashin’s claims and force him to apologize to Kadyrov. The only merit of Yashin’s report, which other experts also noted, is that he managed to put together an entire collection of facts about Kadyrov and show that his rule is not an accident, but a system of authority that Moscow created jointly with the Chechen side.
Yashin unveiled his report on one of the most tragic dates for the Chechens—February 23, the anniversary of the mass deportation by Stalin in 1944. In Yashin’s opinion, this showed his solidarity with the Chechen people (Kavkazsky Uzel, February 23)—i.e., that he is not against Chechens, but simply against the system built by Kadyrov. Yashin also demanded Kadyrov’s resignation (Echo.msk.ru, February 23). It is unlikely that the Kremlin is interested in Yashin’s opinion, but the Russian authorities may use his report as a pretext for showing Russian society’s discontent with the situation in Chechnya.
Continuing pressure on the Kremlin regarding Kadyrov’s activities will sooner or later force President Vladimir Putin to react to it. Sensing that, Kadyrov made a surprise statement in an interview with theRussian News Service radio (Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei), saying he was tired and wanted to step down since he had accomplished his mission fully. Kadyrov said he was prepared to stay on if the Kremlin asked him to, but that there were people in Chechnya who could replace him, because he created a working system of governance (Rosbalt.ru, February 23). Thus, Kadyrov indicated that he was not holding on to power and was prepared to serve the Russian Federation in any capacity.
Only two weeks remain until the end of Kadyrov’s term as governor, which ends on March 5. According to the rules of the political system that the Kremlin created, Kadyrov should have known about his political prospects several months ago. Apparently, Chechnya’s governor is uncertain about his future. Politicians and experts, however, are quite certain that, at this stage, Ramzan Kadyrov is an irreplaceable figure in Chechnya for the Kremlin. In any case, the Kremlin will have to signal its intentions regarding the governor of Chechnya in the next few days.
Read the whole story
 
· · ·

The U.S. Military Is Flexing Its Muscles in a Warning to Russia and North Korea - Maxim

1 Share

Maxim

The U.S. Military Is Flexing Its Muscles in a Warning to Russia and North Korea
Maxim
A few days later, Russia' foreign minister threatened that any Western intervention in Syria, where both the U.S.-led coalition and Russia forces are carrying out target bombings, would "spark a world war." As we speak, Russia-U.S. tensions are at ...
U.S. Test-Fires ICBMs To Demonstrate Its Power To Russia, North KoreaHuffington Post

all 192 news articles »

If you showed no interest in Syria, don't complain about Russia - Washington Post (blog)

1 Share

Washington Post (blog)

If you showed no interest in Syria, don't complain about Russia
Washington Post (blog)
Cruz, who has announced repeatedly that we had no interest in Syria (even while the Islamic State moved in), should not help dislodge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and should not enforce the red line, now complains, “Russia has enhanced its position ...

and more »
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 8

Russia in Review

1 Share
February 26, 2016
Russia in Review: a digest of useful news from U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism forFebruary 19-26, 2016

The Power Vertical Podcast: The Nemtsov Legacy

1 Share

This post has been generated by Page2RSS

Syrian ceasefire begins but US expecting violations

1 Share
Complex ceasefire arrangement agreed by Russia and US, which excludes large areas of country, to come into force at midnight
A fragile, temporary and partial cessation of hostilities was coming into force in Syria on Friday night after 97 fighting groups, as well as the Syrian government and Russian air force, signed up to a ceasefire.
Large areas of Syria will be excluded from the ceasefire, according to the maps being issued by both US and Russian sources over the past 24 hours, due to the Russian insistence that the Syrian government and Russian air force be able to continue attacks not only against Islamic State but also the Syrian franchise of al-Qaida, al-Nusra Front.
Continue reading...

Russia imposes new rules on journalists covering elections - Washington Times

1 Share

Washington Times

Russia imposes new rules on journalists covering elections
Washington Times
Russia's Interfax news agency reported that lawmakers passed an amendment Friday imposing new rules on reporters wishing to observe future elections first-hand. Only journalists who have worked with the same news organization for at least two months ...

Ex-Michigan lawmakers face felony charges over affair - Washington Post

1 Share

CBS Local

Ex-Michigan lawmakers face felony charges over affair
Washington Post
LANSING, Mich. — Two former Michigan lawmakers were charged on Friday with felony misconduct in office after their extramarital affair resulted in the expulsion of one and resignation of the other, the state attorney general announced. Republican ...
Schuette announces felony charges against Courser, GamratDetroit Free Press
2 lawmakers forced from office over affair face chargesWashington Times
Former state reps Todd Courser, Cindy Gamrat charged in Michigan House sex scandalMLive.com
The Detroit News -Fox17 -WXYZ
all 28 news articles »

Amid Iraqi Chaos, Moktada al-Sadr, an Old Provocateur, Returns 

1 Share
Mr. Sadr, a cleric whose command of the Iraqi Shiite street is unmatched, is ostensibly lending support to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Next Page of Stories
Loading...
Page 9

Iran Is Complying With Nuclear Deal

1 Share
The UN atomic watchdog says Iran is complying with the commitments it made under last year's landmark nuclear deal.

Gunmen Attack Hotel in Somali Capital