Thursday, October 6, 2016

Op-Ed Contributors: Don’t Intervene in Syria | Russia strongly warns US against striking Syrian armyby Vladimir Isachenkov | AP

Op-Ed Contributors: Don’t Intervene in Syria

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With the cease-fire collapsed and horrific violence in Aleppo, American intervention might seem tempting. It’s still a bad idea.

Russia strongly warns US against striking Syrian army

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The Russian military on Thursday strongly warned the United States against striking the Syrian army, noting that its air defense weapons in Syria stand ready to fend off any attack.





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Donald Trump Is the Ultimate Status Quo Candidate - TIME

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TIME

Donald Trump Is the Ultimate Status Quo Candidate
TIME
Robin Lakoff is a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of Language and Woman's Place. And Hillary Clinton is the agent of true change. The pundits have spoken, and spoken, and spoken: 2016 is an ...
How Pennsylvania became the prom queen of 2016Philly.com
Hillary, You're Supposed to Attack Your Opponent—Not Their SupportersObserver
Is Clinton Hatred Fueled by Dislike for Trump?The Atlantic

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Syria conflict: Bombing 'kills 20' at Turkey border crossing - BBC News

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Syria conflict: Bombing 'kills 20' at Turkey border crossing
BBC News
At least 20 people, most of them rebel fighters, have been killed and dozens injured in a bombing near Syria's border with Turkey, activists say. The attack reportedly occurred during a change of guard at the rebel-controlled Atmeh crossing, in Idlib ...

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Chef accused of killing gay men he met online 'tried to frame one victim for death of another in fake suicide note'

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Theresa May faces backlash from European leaders over plans to curb migration 

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'Honour killings': Pakistan closes loophole allowing killers to go free

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Pakistan's government closes a loophole allowing those behind so-called "honour" killings to go free if they are forgiven by the victim's family.
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Antonio Guterres Likely to Be Next U.N. Secretary-General

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The United Nations said its Security Council unanimously selected Portugal’s Antonio Guterres as the organization’s next secretary-general.

Israel sends female naval cadets to stop women’s boat headed to Gaza 

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As the activist boat was intercepted, Israel pounded the coastal strip in response to rocket fire.





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Russia suspends cooperative nuclear research deal with US

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Russia has suspended an agreement with the United States on research cooperation in the nuclear and energy sectors, the latest move underlining worsening tensions between Washington and Moscow.

As Saudis hold naval drill, Iran general suggests regicide

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As Saudi Arabia holds a naval drill in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a powerful Iranian general has been quoted as suggesting the kingdom’s deputy crown prince is so “impatient” he may kill his own father to take the throne.

Stingray kills Singapore acquarium diver as barbed spine pierces his chest 

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The extraordinarily rare incident marks the first such death in the country.





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Former Putin bodyguard-turned-governor resigns regional post

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Russian President Putin has accepted the resignation of a former bodyguard whom he appointed governor of Russia’s westernmost region earlier this year.
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Why Guterres won the race for U.N. secretary-general despite being a man 

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The refugee crisis and the war in Syria will be the U.N.'s biggest challenges for years to come.





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Another NSA Contractor Accused Of Stealing Classified Information

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The New York Times has reported the arrest by the FBI of a U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and an investigation into whether he stole and disclosed highly classified computer “source code” developed to hack into the networks of Russia, Iran, China, North Korea, and other countries.

Trump Cools Some To Putin After Running Mate Calls Him A 'Bully'

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared to backtrack on his praise of Vladimir Putin, saying he is now unsure how his relationship with the Russian president will evolve.

Kerry Confers With Lavrov About Syria, Ukraine, North Korea

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart resumed discussions on Syria on October 5, despite a U.S. decision earlier this week to suspend direct talks with Moscow on trying to end the conflict.

Pentagon Investigating Reports Air Strike Killed 19 Iraqi Fighters

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The Pentagon said it is investigating reports that an air-strike in Iraq killed at least 19 pro-government Sunni fighters south of Mosul, where government forces are massing for an effort to retake the city from Islamic State. 

Russia Sends Two More Warships From Black Sea To Mediterranean

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Russia says two of its warships are heading to the Mediterranean Sea to reinforce the country’s military presence in the region.

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Pentagon Says Dozens Of Afghan Soldiers Missing In U.S.

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The Pentagon says dozens of Afghan troops who had been visiting the United States for military training have gone missing since January 2015, presumably to live and work illegally in the United States.

Russia Returns Skull Of Kazakh National Liberation Leader To Kazakhstan

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Russia has returned the skull of a leader of the Kazakh national liberation movement to Kazakhstan for burial.

Fascism: Russian Media’s Favorite Label

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Whether it is the United States, NATO, the EU, or the Paralympics, in Russian media, everyone’s getting called a "fascist." (By Andrey Chernakov/DIGIM)

Outrage Over Chechnya's Child Fight Match

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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has sparked outraged after putting his young children in the ring to fight in a Mixed Martial Arts match. Russia's deputy sports minister was furious and has vowed to investigate the incident. (YouTube/Damatoh T.V, Instagram/kadyrov_95)

Editorial: A New Voice for a Complicated World

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António Guterres of Portugal should make an effective United Nations secretary general, when his nomination is approved by the General Assembly.

Op-Ed Contributors: Don’t Intervene in Syria

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With the cease-fire collapsed and horrific violence in Aleppo, American intervention might seem tempting. It’s still a bad idea.

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Train driver exceeds emergency speed limit by 70mph as he 'misunderstood' email, investigators reveal

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Eastern Aleppo faces 'total ruin'

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Eastern Aleppo may face "total destruction" in two-and-a half months, with thousands killed, UN's Syria envoy says

Syrian army says it will reduce Aleppo air strikes

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's army will reduce air strikes and shelling on rebel-held eastern Aleppo on humanitarian grounds, it said on Wednesday, after mounting international criticism of it and Russia.
  

Russia despatches one more missile corvette to Mediterranean: agencies

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian missile corvette left its Black Sea Fleet base of Sevastopol on Thursday and is heading to join a group of Russian warships in the Mediterranean, Russian news agencies cited a fleet spokesman as saying.
  

Philippines' Duterte says if EU, U.S. want to halt assistance 'go ahead'

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MANILA (Reuters) - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday told the United States and the European Union that if they were unhappy with his drugs war and wished to withdraw their assistance to his country, they should "go ahead".
  

Security Council nominates Portugal's Guterres as U.N. chief

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Thursday unanimously nominated former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres to be the next Secretary-General, recommending that the 193-member General Assembly appoint him for five years from Jan. 1, 2017.
  
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Lawsuit seeks to widen Dutch responsibility for Srebrenica deaths

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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Relatives of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre told an appeals court on Thursday that the Dutch government should be held responsible for failing to protect more of the thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys killed there.
  

Trump, once a data skeptic, spending millions on data

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump once called data "overrated" in politics. But with Election Day swiftly approaching, the Republican presidential nominee is spending millions of dollars on data and digital services in an effort to land donations and win over voters....

Soros slams Putin for 'heinous crimes against humanity' in Syria

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Donald Trump becomes the king of anti-endorsements

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From: france24english
Duration: 05:33

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IN THE INTERNATIONAL PAPERS – Thurs. 06.10.16: The Colombian press are saying peace must not be squandered as a result of shortsightedness or selfishness as Yes and No camps meet to discuss a new deal with the FARC rebels. Also, Russia comes under fire for its conduct in Syria. Meanwhile, US presidential candidate Donald Trump becomes the king of anti-endorsements. And the Budgie Nine - a group of Formula 1 fans who stripped down to their swim trunks - are released from jail in Malaysia.
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APNewsBreak: Report faults top Pentagon aide's behavior

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A Pentagon investigation has concluded that Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s former senior military aide used his government credit card at strip clubs or gentlemen’s clubs in Rome and Seoul, drank in excess and had “improper interactions” with women, The Associated Press has learned.
The report by the Defense Department’s inspector general says Maj. Gen. Ron Lewis improperly used his credit card, lied to a bank to get charges removed and, more broadly, said he was guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer, according to people familiar with the report.
Lewis, who was fired nearly a year ago by Carter, submitted a written rebuttal slamming the IG investigation. He asserted that it had built an inaccurate and inflammatory case on innuendo and failed to “find the truth.” In the rebuttal, which was obtained by the AP, Lewis denies that the bar in Rome was a strip club and also denies he went to a strip or gentleman’s club in Seoul, South Korea, in an area of the city the IG report calls “Hooker Hill.”
The IG report has been completed, but has not yet been made public. It is expected to be released Thursday.
Army spokesman Col. Pat Seiber issued a statement saying, “The Army only recently received theDoD IG investigation regarding Maj. Gen. Lewis, and is currently evaluating the investigation to determine what administrative or disciplinary actions may be appropriate. The Army takes allegations of misconduct seriously and demands all senior leaders, regardless of rank, uphold the highest standards of moral character and competence.”
Lewis, in his rebuttal, takes responsibility for several inappropriate actions, including charging nearly $1,800 on his government credit card at what he called a “dance club” in Rome. In an embarrassing set of circumstances, Lewis relates that he tried to use his personal debit card at the club, but it didn’t work, so he had to walk back to his hotel with a female employee of the club, and wake up a Defense Department staff member to get his government card to pay the bill. He said he paid back the charges when he returned to the U.S.
The IG report identifies the club as Cica Cica Boom, but Lewis said he did not go to that strip club. He said he went to a “high-end establishment with a respectable clientele that had a DJ, a bar area and a dance floor where couples were dancing.” A photo of Cica Cica Boom shows a sign above the doorway that also advertises lap dances there.
Lewis has been serving as a special assistant to Lt. Gen. James McConville, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel matters. He was a lieutenant general while in his most recent job working forCarter, but because he has been out of his three-star job for some time, his rank automatically reverted to two stars, as required by military regulations.
Lewis had shot up the promotional ladder, and his job with Carter stemmed from their close professional relationship. He had served as an aide for Carter when he was the deputy defense secretary.
In Korea, the IG report said Lewis went to a gentleman’s club called the Candy Bar. Lewis said he did not go there, but did go to a commercial area of Seoul. He said that when he returned to Washington and saw two charges on his credit card totally about $1,100, he called the bank to have them removed and the bank agreed.
Investigators presented him with two receipts from the club bearing the name “Candy.” Both receipts show only a short pen mark in the signature area, and do not show his written name.
The IG report says investigators, after getting his rebuttal, went back and checked their information, and said they stand by their findings.
The report paints a broad picture of a senior officer who often went out alone on overseas trips, and who drank in excess in some instances. The report also describes a night in Hawaii last November - just days before Lewis was fired - when he went to dinner and later went back to his room with a lower-ranking enlisted service member. The report says she told investigators that Lewis approached her and appeared to want to kiss her, but she stopped him and left.
Lewis said there was another staff member in the hotel room for much of the time, and that even when he was alone with the enlisted service member “our discussions remained the type of conversation a command team would engage in.” He said he has known the service member for several years.
The report also includes a description of Lewis sharing a cigar with a female Defense Departmentstaff member during drinks in Malaysia with a large number of other staff and members of the media. It says others there said they were uncomfortable with Lewis‘ actions and said he was sitting too close to the staff member.
The report does not suggest that Lewis had an extramarital affair or that he had sex with any of the other women. And Lewis, in his rebuttal, criticizes the report for relying on insinuations and statements from people who may have distorted the facts or didn’t actually see what happened.
According to officials with knowledge of the matter, the allegations of misconduct, which first surfaced after the November overseas trip with Carter, stunned the secretary and sent shockwaves through the Pentagon.
The IG report will now go to Army leaders who will determine what, if any, punishment is required and at what rank Lewis would be able to retire.
Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.
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Politicization of the FBI Threatens American Democracy

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A crest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington, DC.Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
During the presidency of George W. Bush, Americans heard a lot about the “politicization of intelligence” after Operation Iraqi Freedom went disastrously wrong. Without reopening that whole can of top secret worms, it’s clear our Intelligence Community made some bad calls on Iraq—specifically regarding Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.
I know, because I was there. In the early stages of OIF—before it went off the rails—I headed an intelligence task force that spied on the Iraqi military. We didn’t have hard evidence of WMDs, but there wasn’t evidence of their absence either. I, like all my colleagues, assumed Saddam had WMDs because he’d had them in the past, moreover he wanted his enemies to think he still did.
Saddam was a cagey fellow and he had an intricate scheme—what spies call Denial and Deception—to convince Iran (which he considered a much bigger threat to his regime than the Americans) that he had WMDs, when in fact he really didn’t. Alas, that plan worked too well. Saddam successfully fooled Tehran, Washington, and pretty much every intelligence service on earth. We know what happened next.
The consequences of that are still with us today. In Iraq, America got a painful lesson in the politicization of intelligence, particularly what happens when spies tell policymakers what they want to hear. Politicization of intelligence hasn’t gone away, in fact President Obama has done much the same regarding the Islamic State, with the White House making clear the “correct” answers to intelligence questions. As with so many issues, the media considered this a really big problem when George Bush did it, but much less so when Barack Obama does.
In Iraq, America got a painful lesson in the politicization of intelligence: when spies tell policymakers what they want to hear.
However, politicization of intelligence is a manageable problem compared to what’s transpired during Obama’s two terms as our commander-in-chief. I’m talking about the politicization of our secret police—an alarming development that threatens democracy itself.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the storied FBI, is the world’s leading law enforcement agency, but it’s also America’s secret police—though most citizens don’t like to think of it that way. As such, the FBI has enormous power. Any democracy which wants to remain one needs to place strict controls on what the secret police can (and can’t) do—and above all, that they remain untainted by raw politics.
The Obama years have witnessed nothing less than the FBI becoming a partisan tool of the Democrats. This has been made painfully clear by the unprecedented hash that Director James Comey’s Bureau made of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email problems as secretary of state. I’ve previously used the term “sham” to apply to the FBI’s highly irregular and unethical conduct in EmailGate, and with each new revelation of how the Bureau never really wanted to prosecute anyone in this sordid case, that conclusion gets reinforced.
Neither is this mess confined to cases that involve top Democrats. We see similar forces at work in domestic terrorism, where the FBI follows the lead of the White House and its highly politicized Justice Department, assiduously avoiding any discussions of jihadism unless they are so obvious that they can’t be hidden from the public any longer. In case after case since 2009, the FBI has professed a remarkable inability to detect terrorism—even when it’s obviously Islamist terrorism that we’re talking about—that ought to trouble citizens.
Americans aren’t especially fond of corrupt politicians or Islamist terrorists, so the FBI is siding with the wrong people here. To be clear: the Bureau is made up of Americans of all views and backgrounds, who by and large are the same dedicated civil servants they have always been. The problem, as they say inside the Beltway, isn’t the Indians—it’s the chiefs.
Under Comey, the FBI has become unprecedentedly politicized at the top levels, and this rank partisanship is ruining the Bureau. J. Edgar Hoover—who, whatever his many faults was an almost comically scrupulous public servant who kept his FBI out of partisan politics for five decades—would not like any of this. And he’d be absolutely right.
For the sake of our democracy, we need our secret police force to be non-partisan and willing to investigate corrupt politicians regardless of party affiliation. Whoever the next director is, that person will need to clean partisan hacks out of the FBI with vigor while restoring a sense of mission that does not kowtow to the ruling party in Washington. Here a bit of Hoover’s annoying obsession with minute details would be a godsend.
Part of the reason things have gotten so bad is that the media has been derelict. Out of a desire to not speak ill of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, while covering for Democrats generally, the mainstream media has shied away from serious investigation to what’s happened to the FBI since 2009. As a result, the public is learning only near the end of Obama’s second term what a politicized mess the Bureau has actually become. None of this bodes well for our democracy or the rule of law.
Politically-motivated double standards in what is considered reportable are hardly a new problem in America, but like so many things this went into overdrive with Barack Obama’s election as president. When the Fourth Estate nakedly assumes a partisan viewpoint, while pretending not to, democratic values get corroded.
This corrosion is now ubiquitous. Take the news this week that New York has banned the Trump Foundation from raising money in that state over alleged improprieties involving financial reporting requirements. Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, has been all over the media, practically gloating about his direct attack on the Republican presidential nominee.
Irregularities with the Trump Foundation have been known for some time. Why is Schneiderman choosing now, four weeks before we vote, to go public with it?
I’m no fan of Donald Trump, and let’s just assume he’s done exactly what AG Schneiderman has accused him of. The media has covered this story a great deal, no doubt because it’s deeply unflattering to Trump and the Republican party. Yet, as usual, the mainstream media has omitted half the real story here.
It’s unusual for any state attorney general to go to war with any party’s presidential nominee only a month before an election. In fact, such things were once considered out-of-bounds, since they smack of naked partisanship by law enforcement. Irregularities with the Trump Foundation have been known for some time. Why is Schneiderman choosing now, four weeks before we vote for president, to go public with it? The media should be asking this.
I won’t be voting for Trump (or Hillary either, for reasons my regular readers know all about), in fact I’ve been very tough on him here and here. But I am a supporter of a non-political justice system because we’ve seen what happens all over the world when law enforcement is viewed as an arm of the party in control of the executive branch.
That’s the direct route to undermining democracy and the rule of law. Eventually, you wind up like the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has gleefully said he’s “at war” with drug dealers, encouraging vigilante attacks which have killed more than 3,600 people in the last three months. This extrajudicial campaign includes secret police death squads to eliminate opponents of Duterte and his rough justice.
This is an extreme case, of course, but it illustrates what can happen when your secret police gets politicized, above the law, as an appendage of the ruling party. That is the death of democracy—and lots of people too. America needs to be more vigilant about keeping the FBI and our entire law enforcement apparatus far above partisan politics. The media doing its job, reporting the truth even when painful, would be a big help to that end.
John Schindler is a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer. A specialist in espionage and terrorism, he’s also been a Navy officer and a War College professor. He’s published four books and is on Twitter at @20committee.
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Politicization of the FBI Threatens American Democracy - Observer

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Observer

Politicization of the FBI Threatens American Democracy
Observer
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the storied FBI, is the world's leading law enforcement agency, but it's also America's secret police—though most citizens don't like to think of it that way. As such, the FBI has enormous power. Any democracy ...

Russian Court Annuls Criminal Records Of Two Bolotnaya Protesters

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Russia's Supreme Court has annulled the records of the arrest, conviction, and sentence of two activists who demonstrated against President Vladimir Putin's reelection on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square in 2012.

Kadyrov Inaugurated For Another Term As Chechnya's Leader

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Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov has been formally inaugurated for another term as head of the volatile Russian region.

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