Sunday, January 22, 2017

Video Review: National Theatre Live: Amadeus | Trailer - YouTube

National Theatre Live: Amadeus | Trailer - YouTube

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Published on Dec 16, 2016
Music. Power. Jealousy. ★★★★★ Amadeus will be broadcast live to cinemas on 2 February, with selected venues showing Encores. Find a venue and book: http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/...

. . . . . .

Lucian Msamati (Luther, Game of Thrones, NT Live: The Comedy of Errors) plays Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s iconic play, broadcast live from the National Theatre, and with live orchestral accompaniment by Southbank Sinfonia.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a rowdy young prodigy, arrives in Vienna, the music capital of the world – and he’s determined to make a splash. Awestruck by his genius, court composer Antonio Salieri has the power to promote his talent or destroy his name. Seized by obsessive jealousy he begins a war with Mozart, with music, and ultimately, with God.

After winning multiple Olivier and Tony Awards when it had its premiere at the National Theatre in 1979, Amadeus was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film.

. . . . . .

#Amadeus
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Richard Galliano - Caruso - YouTube

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Published on Jan 13, 2017
Paintings - Galq Mincheva (Bulgaria)
Pictures - Galya Mintcheva (Bulgaria)

AP Top Stories Jan. 21 P - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
Here are the top stories for Saturday, January 21st: Women march in DC, around the world decrying Trump; President Trump attends prayer service at National Cathedral; New defense secretary arrives at Pentagon; Survivors are pulled from Italy avalanche.

Donald Trump to CIA "I love you, I respect you" - BBC News - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
President Donald Trump gave a speech at the CIA in an attempt to mend relations with the intelligence community. After weeks of doubting their conclusions about alleged Russian interference into the US election, he told them he had their backs.

CIA officers: Trump speech was disrespectful - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
CIA officers tell CNN's Jim Sciutto that President Trump's speech at the CIA headquarters was "disrespectful."

What we know about Trump’s national security team - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
So far, the Senate has confirmed two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet-level appointees: Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelley, both former Marine Corps generals. But many vacancies in the Trump administration's national security team remain. POLITICO correspondent Michael Crowley joins Alison Stewart from Washington, D.C., to discuss.
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PBS NewsHour Weekend full episode Jan. 21, 2017 - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
On this edition for Saturday, Jan. 21, President Donald Trump began his first day in office as people marched in support of women’s rights in cities across the world. Also, a breakdown of the president's inaugural speech. And, will Congress reform how it does business? Two former members have hopes for bipartisanship. Alison Stewart anchors from New York.

Trump Cabinet Nominees Waiting for Approval - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
Trump Cabinet Nominees Waiting for Approval

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President Trump Delivers Remarks at CIA Headquarters - YouTube

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Streamed live 19 hours ago
Live coverage of this event has concluded. Drag the counter along the timeline below the stream to replay.

Former President Jimmy Carter Urges Support for Trump Administration - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
Former President Jimmy Carter, who lost his bid for re-election in 1980, holds the record for the longest post White House career of any former U.S. president. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, despite partisan rancor that defined much of the 2016 presidential election, the former president is taking a conciliatory approach to the Trump administration.
Originally published at - http://www.voanews.com/a/former-presi...

پیام نخست وزیر اسرائیل، بنیامین نتانیاهو به مردم ایران: ما دوست شما هستیم، نه دشمنتان. - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
پیام نخست وزیر اسرائیل، بنیامین نتانیاهو به مردم ایران

من قصد دارم به زودی با پرزیدنت ترامپ درباره چگونگی مقابله با تهدید رژیم ایران که خواهان نابودی اسرائیل است صحبت کنم.

اما اخیراً به ذهنم خطور کرد که تا کنون بسیار درباره رژیم ایران صحبت کرده‌ام ولی به میزان کافی درباره مردم ایران، یا به عبارتی، با مردم ایران سخن نگفته‌ام.

پس امیدوارم که این پیام به گوش همه ایرانیان – از پیر و جوان، دین‌دار و سکولار، زن و مرد – برسد.

می‌دانم که ترجیح می‌دادید یک زندگی بدون ترس داشته باشید. می‌دانم که سخن گفتن آزادنه خواست شما است، و دوست داشتنِ هر آنکه می‌خواهید بدون هراس از شکنجه یا اعدام شدن با جرثقیل. می‌دانم که دوست دارید آزادنه در اینترنت گردش کنید و ناچار نباشید برای دیدن ویدئوهایی شبیه این از "وی پی ان" برای دور زدن سانسور استفاده کنید.

شما صاحبان تاریخی پرافتخار هستید. فرهنگی غنی دارید. اما متأسفانه توسط یک استبداد مذهبی به زنجیر کشیده شده‌اید.

در یک ایران آزاد، شما بار دیگر خواهید توانست بی هیچ محدودیتی رشد کنید و شکوفا شوید. اما امروز، حکومتی ظالم می‌کوشد که شما را تحت سلطه خود نگاه دارد.

من هیچگاه تصاویر دانشجویان شجاع جوان تشنه تغییر را فراموش نخواهم کرد که در سال 1388 در خیابان‌های تهران هدف گلوله قرار گرفتند؛ و هیچگاه نفس نفس زدن‌های آخر ندا آقاسلطانِ زیبا را در آن پیاده‌رو از یاد نخواهم برد.
ا
ین رژیم بی‌رحم همچنان شما را از آزادی محروم نگاه داشته است؛ از حضور هزاران نامزد در مبارزات انتخاباتی جلوگیری می‌کند؛ ثروتی که حق فقرای شماست می‌دزدد تا هزینه یک عامل کشتار جمعی چون اسد را بدهد.

رژیم، با تکرار هر روزه خواستِ نابودی اسرائیل، امیدوار است که عداوت را بین ما نهادینه کند.
ا
ین اشتباه است. ما دوست شما هستیم، نه دشمنتان. ما همواره میان مردم ایران و رژیم ایران تفاوت قائل شده‌ایم.

رژیم بی‌رحم است – مردم اینگونه نیستند؛ رژیم ستیزه‌جو است – مردم خونگرم هستند.
من آرزوی روزی را دارم که مردمان ایران و اسرائیل، بار دیگر، بتوانند آزادانه یکدیگر را در تهران و اصفهان، اورشلیم و تل‌آویو ملاقات کنند.

متعصبان نباید پیروز شوند. بی‌رحمی آنان نباید بر شفقت ما چیره شود.

مردمان ما می‌توانند دست در دست در جهت آینده‌ای صلح‌آمیزتر و سرشار از امید بیشتر برای هر دو ملت فعالیت کنند. ما باید بر ترور و استبداد فائق آییم و اطمینان حاصل کنیم که آزادی و دوستی پیروز نهایی خواهند بود.
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PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

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 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, made the following remarks:
 "We congratulate President Trump on the start of his term. I very much appreciate his deep friendship for Israel, as well as his declared willingness to fight radical Islamic terrorism with full force.
 This evening there will be a telephone conversation between President Trump and myself. There are many issues between us including the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria and the Iranian threat. I would like to make it clear, contrary to reports that I have read, that stopping the Iranian threat, and first and foremost the threat reflected in the bad nuclear agreement that was signed with Iran, continues to be a supreme goal of the State of Israel. On the issue of settlement, none are more concerned about it than the Likud government and I, and we will continue to look out for it wisely and responsibly, for the benefit of the settlement enterprise and the State of Israel.
 Today we have received a very significant piece of economic data. I congratulate the Finance Minister. We worked together, and together with the Government ministers, to control government expenditures, and we received data that places Israel in a higher global ranking, because the debt-to-GDP ratio has declined to 62.1 and is continuing to decline, and part of this is a result of correct management of the budget. This is very significant. The credit agencies look at the economy, not only at this figure but first of all at this figure, and at other data. I think that this is a very significant achievement for the Israeli economy and the policy of the government. I would like to take this opportunity to thank outgoing Accountant General Michal Abadi and I think that there could be no better parting gift than this.
 I wish IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot a quick recovery. I spoke with him on Friday after his successful surgery. He sounded fine. I told him that he should listen to his doctors' orders and recover quickly, and that we are all waiting for him."
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PM Netanyahu's Remarks at Weekly Cabinet Meeting - 22/01/2017 - YouTube

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Published on Jan 22, 2017
דברי ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בפתח ישיבת הממשלה השבועית.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

וידאו: עומר מירון, לע"מ
סאונד: בן פרץ, לע"מ

SNL’s Cold Open Shows Putin Assuring America ‘It’s Going to be Fine’ Under President Trump - YouTube

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Published on Jan 21, 2017
Saturday Night Live kicked off their new show tonight by bringing America a very important announcement from its new leader: Vladimir Putin.

After a brief notice that the programming was provided by the Russian Federation, a shirtless Putin came up and addressed the nation while celebrating the results of the election. The joke was obviously in reference to Trump and Putin’s rosy relationship, as well as the concerns that Russia might have compromised Trump while they supposedly interfered with the election.

Putin noted that people are skeptical of Trump, but he assured America that people were worried about his presidency too, and no one hears from them much anymore. He went on to lampoon everything from Kellyanne Conway‘s strange inauguration outfit, to the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd.

Putin assured the nation that “it’s going to be fine” under Trump’s new administration, though the pawn Putin dragged out to talk him up might disagree.
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'Saturday Night Live' has a shirtless Putin address America

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"Hello, America. Yesterday we all made Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States," Bennett's Putin said, without a shirt on, to the camera. "Hooray, we did it!"
Bennett's Russian leader then told Americans not to worry and promised he would take care of the country because "it's the most expensive thing we've ever bought."
Noticeably absent from the cold open of the NBC variety show was Alec Baldwin's Trump, but Bennett's Putin made sure to speak about the new commander in chief.
"Donald, let's talk as friends. You're not off to a great start, man. I thought you'd be better at this," Bennett's Putin said.
He then added that he was happy so many people showed up to Trump's inauguration -- as a clip from Saturday's Women's March played.
"Oh wait, that's the Women's March," the faux Putin corrected himself before again addressing Trump. "Today you went to the CIA and said one million people came to see you in Washington D.C. If you're going to lie, don't make it so obvious. Say that you are friends with LeBron James, not that you are LeBron James."
Actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, who hosted the episode, addressed the Women's Marches that took place across the country and the world on Saturday in his opening monologue.
"Crazy couple of days," Ansari said. "Yesterday, Trump was inaugurated. Today, an entire gender protested against him."
CNNMoney (New York) First published January 22, 2017: 8:18 AM ET

'Saturday Night Live' has a shirtless Putin address America

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One day after President Donald Trump was sworn into office, "Saturday Night Live" opened its show with Beck Bennett's Vladimir Putin speaking directly to the American people.

American Infrastructure Needs $808 Billion Upgrade

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bridge constructionFigures about how much money the U.S. needs to rebuild the infrastructure of its brides, tunnels, roads, and airports differs wildly. In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers put the needed investment at $3.6 trillion between when its report was published and 2020. An official federal government report estimates the number is $808.2 billion.
The federal government does not have $808.2 billion handy. The most recent annual budget for the entire government was $3.8 trillion. Even spread over several years, reaching the $808 billion figure would be impossible. The Trump Administration has signaled it would like to invest in projects for upgrades. It would operate as a sort of public works project which would invest money in new jobs and construction spending.
The Department of Transportation figures break down this way in a analysis entitled: GROW AMERICA: Making critical investments in highways and bridges:
The GROW AMERICA Act will provide a larger, more reliable funding stream for highways and bridges, recognizing the essential role that such infrastructure plays in providing access and linking our communities. The nation’s 4 million miles of public roadways carry approximately 3 trillion vehicle miles of travel each year. As the U.S. population grows, so too does the strain on our existing highway and bridge infrastructure. Highways and bridges face an $808.2 billion backlog of investment needs, including $479.1 billion in critical repair work. And while our nation’s bridges are safe, 11 percent of them are classified as structurally deficient and another 14 percent are not designed for the traffic they currently carry.
The Obama Administration did sign into law legislation to address the problem, but only partially:
 The FAST Act authorizes $226.3 billion in budget authority for Federal-aid highway programs over five years (FY 2016 through FY 2020). This includes $225.2 billion in contract authority, starting at $43.1 billion for FY 2016 and growing about two percent each year to $47.1 billion in FY 2020. The Act also authorizes another $1.1 billion (over the five years) that is subject to appropriation.
Administrative Expenses
The FAST Act provides a separate authorization of $453 million for FY 2016, increasing about two percent each year to $480.8 million for FY 2020, for FHWA administrative expenses associated with the Federal-aid highway program and Appalachian Regional Commission administration of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS). Of this amount, $24 million is designated for other purposes each year, as follows:
On-the-job training supportive services ($10 million annually)
Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) supportive services ($10 million annually)
Highway use tax evasion projects ($4 million annually)
It is a start, but no where near the $808 billion needed

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India rail disaster kills 36, fears toll may rise

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Rescuers struggled Sunday to pull survivors from the wreckage of a train crash which killed 36 passengers in southern India, the latest in a series of disasters on the country's creaking rail network.
Officials were investigating whether Maoist rebels had tampered with the track, after eight coaches and the engine of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar express were derailed at around 11:00 pm (1730 GMT) on Saturday.
"The death toll has gone up to 36. It is a possibility that it may rise further," Anil Kumar Saxena, national railway spokesman, told AFP.
Another railways official J.P. Mishra earlier said some 50 injured have been moved to nearby hospitals.
The accident happened near Kuneru railway station in the remote district of Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh state.
It came only two months after nearly 150 people were killed in a similar disaster, highlighting the malaise on a network which is one of the world's largest.
Saxena said government officials and emergency workers worked through the night to try to find survivors.
The spokesman said investigators were considering possible sabotage of the tracks by Maoist rebels, who he said were active in the area.
"It is being looked into, it is one of the many angles we are looking into," he told AFP.
"There is some suspicion (of sabotage) because two other trains had crossed over smoothly using the same tracks earlier in the night."
Police in Odisha, where the train was headed, dismissed any involvement by Maoist rebels known as Naxals in the derailment.
"We totally reject any possibility of Maoist involvement in the derailment. Kuneru is not a Naxal-hit area," an unidentified senior intelligence officer was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.
Television footage showed a line of carriages lying on their sides as rescuers in neon orange safety vests and hard hats tried to hoist passengers through the windows while locals looked on.
Workers carried a half-naked passenger covered in dust on a stretcher out of a tilted carriage. Another TV image showed a man lying faced down, crushed under mangled heaps of wreckage.
Injured victims lay on hospital beds and stretchers, their limbs swathed in bandages.
Mishra told the NDTV news network there were some 600 people in the carriages that derailed.
He added that 10 buses have been arranged for passengers who escaped injury to travel to the Odisha state capital of Bhubaneswar.
- Frequent accidents -
The train came off the track nearly 160 kilometres (100 miles) from Visakhapatnam, the nearest city to the accident site.
Rail traffic on the coast line has been suspended.
Chief ministers of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh expressed their grief over the latest tragedy, while Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said he was rushing to the spot.
Prabhu announced compensation of 200,000 rupees ($2,936) for the relatives of the dead and 50,000 for those injured.
India's railway network is still the main form of long-distance travel in the vast country, but it is poorly funded and deadly accidents occur relatively often.
On Friday 10 coaches of an express train were derailed in the western state of Rajasthan, leaving many passengers with minor injuries.
The latest deadly incident comes two months after 146 people were killed when a passenger train was derailed near Kanpur, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, in one of the country's worst rail disasters for decades.
Last month two people were killed and dozens injured after another train derailed, also near Kanpur.
In 2014 an express train ploughed into a stationary freight train, also in Uttar Pradesh, killing 26 people.
A 2012 government report said almost 15,000 people were killed every year on India's railways and described the loss of life as an annual "massacre".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has pledged to invest $137 billion over five years to modernise the crumbling railways, making them safer, faster and more efficient.
Writing on Twitter, Modi sent his condolences to the victims' families.
"My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones... the tragedy is saddening," said the prime minister.
Modi's government has signed numerous deals with private companies to upgrade the ageing network.
Japan has agreed to provide $12 billion in soft loans to build India's first bullet train, though plans remain in their infancy.
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Russia braces itself for a Trump presidency

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The long-awaited inauguration of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president has been a source of constant debate within Russia’s expert community, which continues to point to his unpredictability.
Russian dolls of U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Photo: TASS
As the U.S. prepares for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Moscow has been paying close attention as well. Arguably, the Russian media is paying as much attention to Donald Trump as it did to the annexation of Crimea or the military escalation in Eastern Ukraine.
Throughout the week leading up to the inauguration, Russian pundits have conducted a series of discussions and reports on Trump’s presidency and its impact on U.S.-Russia relations. At the same time, many everyday Russians are now pinning their hopes on the future American leader. Yet to what extent are these expectations justified and realistic?
The Trump administration looks like a big political experiment with uncertain results and implications for the world
To answer this question, a number of well-known Russian pundits weighed the pros and cons of a Trump presidency at two recent events in Moscow. One of these was a Jan. 18 Valdai Discussion Club event, while another was a Jan. 20 event at a media center in central Moscow. All agree that Trump’s presidency raises a lot of questions as well as creates both challenges and opportunities. The Trump administration looks like a big political experiment with uncertain results and implications for the world, they say.
Understanding the Trump phenomenon
However, even though the next four years in the United States are expected to be unpredictable, the election of Trump has a certain logic to it, resulting from many factors that should be analyzed together.
Increasing inequality in America, political differences within the U.S. establishment, disappointment of the bulk of population in the country’s elites, the failure of the Democrats to attract three million more voters, the underestimation of the Trump phenomenon and the overestimation of the Democratic party’s popularity — all this contributed to the victory of the flamboyant oligarch.
According to experts, Trump’s presidency is rather a symptom of a political crisis that needs to be resolved as soon as possible given the global clout of the United States. Robert Legvold, a professor at Columbia University, described it as “the intensification of polarization” of U.S. policy — the greatest since the 19th century. It is accompanied by the challenges of a “dysfunctional government” and an institutional crisis.
Trump is the result of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to Maxim Suchkov, an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).
Trump is ‘an absolute field for an experiment’
Today, power and influence are shifting to leaders within the military and industrial sectors. Trump’s victory is a clear indication of this trend, according to Andrei Bezrukov, an associate professor at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), who presented his report “Donald Trump: A Professional Profile of The New U.S. President” at the Valdai Discussion Club this week.
In fact, during his pre-election campaign, the U.S.-President-elect represented these two elites — the military and industry — with his mantra “Make America Great Again!” In turn, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton represented four other elites — Wall Street, the media, academia, and the establishment. 
Carnegie Moscow Center Director Dmitri Trenin describes the members of the Trump team as “serious” dealmakers who are ready to relentlessly pursue their goals and come up with compromise, driven by simple categories of national and business interests. He also pointed out that his team doesn’t include representatives of think tanks and academia, as it was the case during the presidencies of Trump’s predecessors.
All this indicates that Trump is behaving like a classic contrarian. He destroyed the Washington consensus and challenged notions of political correctness, which existed before in American political life and brought elephant-in-the-room problems to the agenda — many inconvenient questions that were passed over in silence or relegated to the secondary agenda. Specifically, he raised the problem of U.S. identity and outlined a new role that America should play domestically and globally, experts concluded.
The Trump phenomenon resulted from the fact that public debates on inconvenient and taboo topics were overshadowed by the establishment’s agenda or “suppressed” by political correctness, said Ivan Safranchuk, an associate professor at MGIMO University, during the Valdai Discussion.
There are a lot people in the U.S. with the Trump mentality. To quote Safranchuk, they supported him because they were accustomed to high living standards. Faced with economic challenges, they “felt wild fear of the future” and were uncertain about it, with looming unemployment, falling incomes, healthcare challenges and low odds of getting higher education and being competitive.
“Trump reformatted the political dialogue in the United States,” reiterated Bezrukov.
Trump was like a duck to water. The more outlandish and bizarre he was, the more criticism came from mainstream media, the more popular and strong he became
While shying away from political correctness (which is uncommon for the U.S.), Trump went too far in his rhetoric, with almost every single move bringing about an outcry and a great deal of buzz in the media. Yet, despite this, Trump was like a duck to water. The more outlandish and bizarre he was, the more criticism came from mainstream media, the more popular and strong he became. This is exactly how the law of antifragility works, presented in the book "Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
In fact, Trump transformed all this strenuous criticism in his favor and, finally, won the U.S. election. Any other candidate would have failed to convert his or her scandalous behavior into political triumph, yet Trump won, in part, due to the fact that “he is the phenomenon of pop culture,” according to Andrei Sushentsov, the director of the Foreign Policy Advisory Group, another author of the Valdai report.
“And this is a unique case,” he said, adding that Trump is a president who is not in debt to lobbyists, the establishment and other financial groups for his victory. And this gives him more freedom and turns his presidential tenure into “an absolute field for an experiment.”  
Legvold argues that the U.S. and the world will be able to understand the nature of the Trump administration in several months. So far, everybody is consumed with trying to answer several looming questions: How much political capital will Trump’s team spend on domestic policy? How will  foreign policy change — will Trump shy away from global U.S. dominance or try to maintain its global leadership? These are the questions that puzzle the expert community in the U.S., according to Legvold.
And this is especially important in the current geopoliitcal environment — amidst assertive and defiant foreign policy moves of Russia in Ukraine and China in the Asia-Pacific region, he added. 
So far, Trump’s pledges and statements have left Ukraine worried, China frustrated, and “Russia uneasy, but hopeful,” said Legvold. And, most importantly, does Trump’s team really know how to reconcile with other stakeholders, including Russia?
Trump’s team and challenges for his presidency
All experts agree that the next four years won’t be easy for Trump, given that he failed to win the popular vote, with Clinton having garnered two to three million votes more than her Republican opponent. After his election, many Americans took to the streets chanting slogans like “Trump is not my president.”
According to the Jan. 4-8 Gallup-Newsweek poll, Trump’s approval rating is the lowest in comparison with his predecessors, and people were disappointed even before his tenure officially started. When asked if they approved of the way Trump is handling his transition, 51 percent of Americans disapproved of it, and only 44 percent approved.
By comparison, Obama’s rankings were high during his transition in January 2009: 83 percent of the Gallup respondents supported him. Likewise, George W. Bush performed better before his inauguration and got the support of 61 percent of Americans (only 25 percent disapproved of him).
 
Moreover, the Washington establishment voted against Trump and now he will have to work with many of those who publicly distanced themselves from him. It is not ruled out that any of his moves will be rejected by the U.S. Congress or sabotaged, Russian experts assume.
The Congress will block any of Trump’s initiatives that it sees as too pro-Russian or controversial, says Suchkov. However, Trenin believes that Trump might be able to deal with the challenge, given his background and ability to cut deals.
“The Congress is not only a platform for debates, but also a place for lobbying one’s interest, ” Trenin told Russia Direct during the Jan. 20 discussion, when asked about the potential conflict between Trump and the Washington establishment. “The relations with the Congress will be based on the principles of a business deal.”
Meanwhile, Safranchuk expects that the Trump administration will be controversial and even scandalous, “so there is no reason to expect consistency from it,” he added, warning that the way it is handling domestic problems and foreign policy might “turn into chaos.”   
“It is likely to be a scandalous administration,” he predicted.
Such a hostile political environment might create a lot of risks, according to Trenin. Given Trump’s penchant for “playing hardball” and “his thin skin,” he will be as assertive as possible in responding to threats of political sabotage or the information war that has already been covered in detail by American journalists.
When asked by Russia Direct about the odds of Trump’s impeachment, which has already become the topic of debates, Trenin warned that such a scenario would be deleterious for the stability of the U.S. political system and, most importantly, could pose a serious threat to the world.
“Any impeachment means a grave political crisis within the country,” he said. “I don’t think that Trump’s opponents will provoke his impeachment. If it takes place, the crisis will be exacerbated and lead to unpredictable implications, including for the entire world.”
U.S.-Russia relations under Trump
At the same time, Sushentsov and Bezrukov imply in their report that the Trump administration might become a catalyst and resolve many international and domestic problems, given the background of Trump and his image of an effective and assertive dealmaker.
They assume that Trump will be driven by pragmatic interests, not ideology, which creates an opportunity for Russia to find common ground with Washington.  Yet, it remains to be seen whether Trump is able to translate his effective business experience into a successful presidency and good relations with the Kremlin, says Sushentsov.
Indeed, during his press conference, he admitted that he would try to get along with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yet, if he fails to establish chemistry with his counterpart, he will be much tougher than Clinton if she had won the election, Trump implied.
Most Russian experts, including Trenin and his colleague Alexei Arbatov, the head of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Nonproliferation Program, believe that the Trump administration will talk with Russia from a position as the world’s only superpower, from a position of force, if it fails to come to a compromise with the Kremlin. 
While the Democrats want to make the world happier by contributing to resolving global problems, "the Republicans want to make America happier by exploiting the world as an asset," said Arbatov, adding that such an approach could lead to tensions with Russia.
“Russia will have to respond from a weaker position and not lose at the same time, because it is weaker [than the U.S.] economically and politically,” Trenin said.
However, the good sign is that the Trump administration, at least, has a concept of how the U.S. sees the role of modern Russia in the world. And if this concept echoes the Kremlin’s one, Trump might normalize relations with Russia, Sushentsov says. If not, no one dares to predict the consequences. And, hopefully, the warnings of Clinton won’t come true. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” she said during her campaign.
Yet, even though Putin and Trump might see eye-to-eye, it doesn’t mean that their personal chemistry will translate to better relations, warns Suchkov. Such an approach — focusing on the personal ties between two leaders — could mislead and lead to wishful thinking. It is vitally important find chemistry not only between leaders, but also with other groups, structures and agency.
Otherwise, the future of U.S.-Russia relations will amount to nothing more than the assumed friendship between Putin and Trump. And this is dangerous, given the example of Putin’s relationship with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the downing of Russia’s jet near the Syrian-Turkish border in November 2015. 
Suchkov argues that the Kremlin should not be surprised if Trump changes his favorable and complimentary tone toward Putin and moves to a tougher realistic rhetoric, implying the need for tradeoffs for the relationship to work.  
Amidst such unpredictability, Moscow and Washington should alleviate tensions and prevent politics from hampering their cooperation in the Arctic and other fields, where they might find common ground, said Ivan Timofeev, the program director at the Russian International Affairs Council.
Pavel Koshkin is the Editor-in-Chief of Russia Direct. He has contributed to numerous publications, including Kommersant, the Moscow bureau of BBC and Russia Profile, specializing in politics, society, education and international affairs.
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Former CIA Director John Brennan Says 'Trump Should Be Ashamed Of Himself' | The Huffington Post

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Former Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan said Saturday that he is “deeply saddened and angered” by President Donald Trump’s “despicable display of self-aggrandizement” during a speech in front of CIA employees.
Speaking at the spy agency he spent months disparaging, Trump attacked the media for accurately reporting the crowd size at his inauguration, criticized reporters over claims he removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office and told his audience that “probably almost everybody in this room voted for me.”
pIn his first press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attacked reporters and also peddled the lie that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” despite photos and crowd estimates clearly saying otherwise.
Standing in front of a wall studded with 117 chiseled stars ― each for an agent who died in the line of duty ― Trump also told CIA officials that the U.S. should have “kept the oil” after invading Iraq. 
“Now I said it for economic reasons,” he said. “But if you think about it, Mike, if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil.”
Taking Iraq’s oil would be a violation of international law and United Nations agreements.
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Strong quake hits Solomons; some damage but no tsunami

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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A powerful magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck deep under Papua New Guinea on Sunday, causing damage and blackouts but no tsunami hours after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for nearby islands.
The mid-afternoon quake struck at a depth of 167 kilometers (103 miles) beneath the eastern province of Bougainville, where Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands meet in a continuous South Pacific archipelago, said Chris McKee, assistant director of Papua New Guinea Geophysical Observatory in Port Moresby.
No casualties were reported. But there was damage in parts of central Bougainville and the major town of Arawa, Aloysius Laukai, manager of New Dawn FM Bougainville radio station, said in an email.
The provincial capital of Buka was blacked out and residents of the southern town of Buin were moved to higher ground as a precaution against a potential tsunami, Laukai said. All tsunami warnings were later lifted.
The greatest tsunami threat had been to Bougainville and that threat had passed without any report of a tsunami, McKee said.
"I suspect that because of the great depth of the earthquake, there was probably no significant tsunami," McKee said.
Solomons government official George Herming said he was not aware of any major tremors being felt in his country or any tsunami.
Jennifer El-Sibai, Save the Children's Country director in Papua New Guinea, said that national and provincial disaster authorities were monitoring the tsunami situation and Save the Children staff were ready to respond if required.
The countries are located in the Pacific's geologically active "Ring of Fire."

Israel's Netanyahu to speak with Trump on Sunday, Iran on agenda | Reuters

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News Reviews and Opinions: Pope Francis says 'wait and see' on Trump | » mikenov on Twitter: FBI searching for 4 men in PNC Bank robbery considered armed and dangerous - 7 21/01/17 22:02

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Pope Francis says 'wait and see' on Trump

"In times of crisis, we lack judgment, and that is a constant reference for me... That is why I always try to say: talk among yourselves, talk to one another," he added. 

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» mikenov on Twitter: FBI searching for 4 men in PNC Bank robbery considered armed and dangerous https://t.co/xOZtXfq3p7
21/01/17 22:02 from 1. My News Blogs from mikenova (2 sites)
FBI searching for 4 men in PNC Bank robbery considered armed and dangerous <a href="https://t.co/xOZtXfq3p7" rel="nofollow">https://t.co/xOZtXfq3p7</a> Posted by mikenov on Sun Jan 22 03:02:10 2017. mikenov on Twitter
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Pope Francis says 'wait and see' on Trump | Reuters

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FBI searching for 4 men in PNC Bank robbery considered armed and dangerous

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland police and the Cleveland Division of the FBI are looking for four men who robbed a PNC bank Saturday. They are considered armed and dangerous.
The robbery happened shortly before 1 p.m. in the 2700 block of South Moreland Avenue.
No injuries have been reported.
The four robbers entered the bank and started yelling at employees and customers, demanding them to put their hands up and get on the ground, the FBI said.
One of the men with a bag in his hand jumped the counter and emptied two cash drawers. One of the men demanded that a teller get on her knees, the FBI said. Once the teller was on her knees another robber fired a gunshot into the wall behind the teller counter.
A witness on East 127th Street saw man with a long gun get out of the driver's seat of an orange Honda Element, the FBI said.
When he exited the vehicle it caught fire. The two men got into another one, possibly green or blue, the FBI said.
The Honda Element may have been torched, the FBI said.
The men who robbed this PNC Bank are possibly connected to another bank robbery in Highland Heights, Special Agent Vicki Anderson said.
Anyone with information is asked to the FBI at 216-522-1400 or Cleveland police at 216-623-5000.
Reward money is available, and PNC Bank is offering an additional $10,000 reward.
If you'd like to comment on this story, visit Saturday's crime and courts comments section.

FBI searching for 4 men in PNC Bank robbery considered armed and dangerous - cleveland.com

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FBI searching for 4 men in PNC Bank robbery considered armed and dangerous
cleveland.com
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland police and the Cleveland Division of the FBI are looking for four men who robbed a PNC bank Saturday. They are considered armed and dangerous. The robbery happened shortly before 1 p.m. in the 2700 block of South ...
Four men rob Cleveland bank, fire shots, possibly torch carfox8.com

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FBI: Bank robber threatened to bomb West Side PNC branch ... - WLS-TV

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FBI: Bank robber threatened to bomb West Side PNC branch ...
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A homeless man threatened to bomb a West Side bank while robbing it last month, in one of two heists for which he now faces federal charges, authorities said.

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FBI: Bank robber threatened to bomb West Side PNC branch - WLS-TV

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FBI: Bank robber threatened to bomb West Side PNC branch
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FBI agents learned he had stayed at a Cicero motel and eventually tracked down Williams at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, the complaint says. Williams appeared in federal court Friday on two charges of bank robbery. He remains held at the downtown ...

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Documentation from the terrorist attack a policeman pockets evacuation of illegal construction in Umm Hiran - YouTube

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Published on Jan 18, 2017

שוטר נהרג בפיגוע דריסה בפינוי כפר בדואי בנגב; הדורס נורה למוות - YouTube

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Published on Jan 18, 2017
Hundreds of police clashed with protesters during a raid on the village of Umm al-Hiran intended for demolition. The policeman Sergeant Major Erez Levi was trampled to death by the Islamic Movement activist, police believe. MK still sustained head injuries in the clashes. President
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Address by PM Netanyahu following the bulldozer attack in the Negev - YouTube

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Published on Jan 18, 2017
I send condolences to the family of the policeman riot police packed with Me Levy.
Erez was an outstanding officer, a policeman's son, and he was murdered this morning from the terrorist attack.
This is the second bulldozer attack for a few days.
We are fighting this deadly phenomenon that strikes both in Israel and around the wo

PM Netanyahu Comments on Event in the South

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Following the incident in the south, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an assessment of the situation along with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich. The Prime Minister was updated on the ramming attack and the events surrounding the demolition of the illegal structures in the Negev.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"I send condolences to the family of the anti-terror unit policeman, the late Erez Amedi. Erez was an outstanding policeman, the son of a policeman, and he was murdered this morning in a ramming attack. This is the second ramming attack in a few days.
We are fighting this murderous phenomenon, which has struck both Israel and the world. The State of Israel is, above all, a nation of law in which there will be equal enforcement. Not only will this incident not deter us, it will strengthen us. It will strengthen our determination to enforce the law everywhere.
I ask everyone, especially members of the Knesset, to be responsible, to stop fanning emotions and inciting toward violence. The Bedouin public is part of us; we want to integrate it into Israeli society and not radicalize it and push it away from the center of our life experience. The police are operating on the ground with authority and nobody has the right to interfere with their mission."

PM Netanyahu Meets with Outgoing US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro

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19/01/2017 
יום חמישי כ"א טבת תשע"ז
PM  Netanyahu Meets with Outgoing US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro
Photo by Haim Zah, GPO Click Here to Enlarge Picture
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this afternoon met with outgoing US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. The Prime Minister thanked him for years of joint work and for his contribution to the strategic and important alliance between the US and Israel.
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PM Netanyahu to the Iranian people: We are your friend not your enemy

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21/01/2017 
יום כ"ג טבת תשע"ז
I plan to speak soon with President Trump about how to counter the threat of the Iranian regime which calls for Israel's destruction.
But it struck me recently that I've spoken a lot about the Iranian regime and not enough about the Iranian people, or for that matter, to the Iranian people.
So I hope this message reaches every Iranian—young and old, religious and secular, man and woman.
I know you'd prefer to live without fear. I know you'd want to be able to speak freely, to love who you want without the fear of being tortured or hung from a crane. I know you'd like to surf the Web freely and not have to see videos like this one using a virtual private network to circumvent censorship.
You have a proud history. You have a rich culture. Tragically, you are shackled by a theocratic tyranny.
In a free Iran you will once again be able to flourish without limit. But today, a cruel regime is trying to keep you down.
I'll never forget the images of brave young students hungry for change gunned down in the streets of Tehran in 2009; and I'll never forget beautiful Neda Sultan gasping for her last breath on that sidewalk.
This ruthless regime continues to deny you your freedom. It prevents thousands of candidates from competing in elections. It steals money from your poor to fund a mass murderer like Assad.
By calling daily for Israel's destruction, the regime hopes to instill hostility between us.
This is wrong. We are your friend, not your enemy. We've always distinguished between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime.
The regime is cruel – the people are not; the regime is aggressive – the people are warm.
I yearn for the day when Israelis and Iranians can once again visit each other freely in Tehran and Esfahan, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The fanatics must not win. Their cruelty must not conquer our compassion.
Our two peoples can work together for a more peaceful and hopeful future for both of us. We must defeat terror and tyranny and we must ensure that freedom and friendship win the day.

                    
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Two dead and one deputy wounded in riots in a Bedouin village in Israel | International Home

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A policeman and a Bedouin Israelis dead and five injured is the balance of some violent incidents that have taken place in the village of Umma Al Hiran , located in the Negev desert in southern Israel . Among minor injuries, is Ayman Odeh , the leader of Israeli Arab party Unified List.
From the hospital in Beer Sheva, the leader of the third political force in the Knesset (Parliament in Jerusalem) representing 21% of the population, has blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the events that occurred early Wednesday and explained With two completely different versions.
The Israeli police attack-abuse complaint by a member of the Islamic Movement against the officers who had arrived this morning in large numbers to destroy 12 houses built illegally. Several demonstrators and people of Umma Al Hiran deny and denounce that "officers and soldiers acted with unjustified violence". The Israeli authorities have revealed that the officer run over and killed in the attack this morning is the young uniformed Erez Levy , while the Bedouin village indicate that the driver is killed Yacub Abu Al Kiyan , more than 40 years.
"When you get the security forces to comply with a court order, a local resident who was driving a jeep sped up and headed for the agents to carry out an attack. The terrorist was neutralized. This is a terrorist attack such as we have seen in recent times , "he said the spokesman for the Israeli police, Meirav Lapidot indicating they are investigating whether it was a sympathizer of the self - proclaimed Islamic State (iS). Police also point out that there was a shootout between the agents and some inhabitants.
There was no attack. Me and Odeh shot at us for having gone to see the wounded in the car . The soldiers even shot a police jeep. There was no resistance to the destruction of the houses but it all started because they killed a resident "Says Atwa, an inhabitant of Umma Al Hiran who also has his house pending evacuation.
In the surroundings of the deputy Odeh, they point out that the deputy was wounded by the firing of a rubber bullet in the head and transferred to the hospital Soroka in Beer Sheeba. A complaint that rejects Lapidot. "The important thing is not that I have hurt me but there is dead. We were in negotiations until midnight so there were no problems but this should be the order of Netanyahu trying to heat the ground to divert attention from the corruption investigations ", has Odeh told the military radio that on the other hand alludes to the negotiations and different dealings surrounding the evacuation of the illegal Israeli enclave of Amona in the West Bank.
"The facts are very serious and the Deputy Odeh not only lies in its version but can have criminal responsibility for what happened . I hope that the terrorist attack does not pose a turning point in the relationship of the Bedouin with the state , " he adds Minister of Homeland Security, Gilad Erdan.
"The police arrived to enforce the judgment of the demolition of these illegal buildings and negotiations were held so that they could settle elsewhere next. In any case, nothing justifies the violence , " responded the Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked that On the other hand it is current in the Bedouin sector by leading a legal initiative to intensify the fight against polygamy.
The incident on Wednesday was considered "very serious" by all parties. Umma Al Hiran is an unrecognized Bedouin village in which about 500 people live. It is also the center of a long-standing court dispute over its future. In 56 she was transferred to the present location after a military order in 48.
The Arab community leadership last week called for a general strike in protest of the destruction of ten houses in the northern Israeli town of Kalansua. The incidents this Wednesday raise the tension in the sensitive relations between the Arab minority and the State.
Hours later, dozens of Palestinian Israelis have rallied at the entrance of the University of Tel Aviv shouting slogans in favor of the intifada and against what they called "government of war" .
"Do not believe the police version. What was in the Negev was a murder of the forces that have the trigger against the Arabs ", said the student Ibrahim on facts that, from the point of view of the Police , Are "an attack committed by an Islamist terrorist."
"My deepest condolences to the family of Erez Amedi Levy." Erez was a great policeman, the son of a policeman and was killed in the second bombing attack in a few days. World, "Netanyahu said shortly before the funeral of the agent near Tel Aviv. He assured that ensure compliance with the law on illegal construction while it has asked the Israeli Arab MKs that " stop incitement to violence . The Bedouins are part of us and we want to be fully integrated into society and not that Be radical and far away. "
The leadership of the Arab sector has criticized the police action and condemned the death of the inhabitant of Umma Al Hiran, a professor in the area and later demolition of structures in charge of the police. In protest, it has called for on Thursday a general strike in Arab towns in Israel . The fear now is that what happened in the Negev desert ignites a fuse of protests and riots.
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Erez Amedi Levy - Google Search

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Story image for Erez Amedi Levy from El Mundo

Dos muertos y un diputado herido en los disturbios en una aldea ...

El Mundo-Jan 17, 2017
"Mi más profundo pésame a la familia del policía Erez Amedi Levy. Erez era un gran policía, hijo de un policía y fue asesinado en el ...
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Villager and Israeli Police Officer Die in Clash at Bedouin Hamlet

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israel second ramming attack - Google Search

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Story image for israel second ramming attack from The Times of Israel

Netanyahu tells MKs not to fan flames after car-ramming

The Times of Israel-Jan 18, 2017
Israeli Arab parliament members argue with Israeli police standing guard during ... “This is the second-ramming attack in the last few days.
Watch: Footage emerges of deadly suspected ramming attack in ...
International-Jerusalem Post Israel News-Jan 18, 2017

Donald Trump still can’t escape Hillary Clinton

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New Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives at the Pentagon, gets to work

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Russia is limiting expectations for a Trump presidency

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OPEC, Russia Say Oil Cuts Are Deeper and Faster Than Expected

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Trump visits CIA headquarters after sharply criticizing the intelligence community

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Avalanche Death Toll in Italy Reaches 5 as Search of Hotel Rubble Continues - The New York Times

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ROME — Rescue workers on Saturday pulled three more bodies from the rubble and snow that covered an isolated hotel in the Apennine Mountains in central Italy when it was struck by an avalanche caused by an earthquake on Wednesday.

‘Kompromat’ and the Danger of Doubt and Confusion in a Democracy

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Specific leaks may take aim at powerful individuals, but in the longer term, kompromat serves the interests of the powerful, which is why it is often a tool of autocrats. By eroding the very idea of a shared reality, and by spreading apathy and confusion among a public that learns to distrust leaders and institutions alike, kompromat undermines a society’s ability to hold the powerful to account and ensure the proper functioning of government.

The fog of disinformation

When Katy E. Pearce, a professor of communications at the University of Washington in Seattle, began studying access to technology in Azerbaijan, she expected to focus her research on how it could be a positive tool for promoting political freedom. But she changed her tack after encountering widespread fear of the ways that the government could use technology as a tool of repression.
“When I was interviewing people, it kept on coming up and coming up,” she said. Kompromat is “a very cheap and easy way for the regime to demonstrate its power, and to harass people in a very visible way,” she added.
That was a danger and a deterrent for the young activists she spoke to. But individual targets of kompromat are not its only victims, Professor Pearce said. It also harms society by diminishing public trust.
Thomas Rid, a professor of security studies at King’s College London, wrote on Twitter that disinformation campaigns have “often deliberately blended accurate and forged details” to sow distrust and confusion.
If the news media and public figures publicize lies, they lose their credibility as trustworthy sources of information. “There’s no reliable truth to rest upon,” Professor Pearce said. “Every piece of information you get is ‘possibly true, possibly false.’”
Degrading that trust can be deeply damaging. While in Russia in 2015, I was struck by how many of the people I met saw the world through a lens that I began to call the “prudent hypothetical.” They reacted to all information, whether from official sources or thirdhand rumors, as if it might be true. I came to realize that it was a self-protective impulse, a way to prepare for any potential outcome in an unpredictable, unreliable world.
But they were also careful not to rely on that information, lest it turn out to be a fabrication. They trusted only the facts they had verified themselves, and only the people to whom they had close personal ties.
I had seen the same thing in Guatemala several years earlier. There, spreading lies and salacious gossip to discredit one’s enemies is referred to as a “campaña negra,” or a black campaign, rather than kompromat. But the result was the same: Public trust had been so eroded that lies were equally capable of destroying the honest and rehabilitating the criminal.
When it appeared that Yasmín Barrios, the judge presiding over the trial of Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, Guatemala’s former dictator, might convict him of genocide and crimes against humanity in 2013, a campaign of coordinated leaks and rumors portrayed her as a corrupt agent of foreign governments, willing to discredit her country in exchange for personal gain. Leaks and rumors attacked Judge Barrios personally, but by extension, they also undermined the credibility of the justice system in which she worked.
For example, the news media reported that the judge had been seen dining with “foreign women” at a restaurant in Guatemala City, and suggested that this was evidence of foreign influence on her rulings. In fact, the “foreigners” were Judge Barrios’s Guatemalan mother, her neighbor, and a nun who was a friend of the family. But the rumors had their desired effect: They discredited not only Judge Barrios but also the genocide trial.
The Guatemalans I met knew that the stories they heard through the news media might be part of disinformation campaigns. But lacking better options, many still saw the world through the lens of the prudent hypothetical, viewing everything as possible and nothing as certain.
When General Ríos Montt was eventually convicted, many saw him as a victim of foreign machinations rather than a perpetrator of genocide and crimes against humanity. (His conviction was later vacated on procedural grounds.)

Fostering uncertainty and division

Professor Pearce said she saw parallels between the use of kompromat overseas and recent news in the United States.
Although the Trump dossier purported to be a warning about kompromat elsewhere, she said, it could also be seen as a form of kompromat itself. She listed the parallels to what she had seen in her research: Its content is damaging but unverified. Its distribution was multilayered, with a website — in this case, BuzzFeed — publishing the unverified material and other outlets amplifying its impact by reporting on the ensuing controversy.
The document also fostered uncertainty and division. Masha Gessen, a Russian journalist, wrote in a recent opinion column in The New York Times that the release of the dossier had allowed Mr. Trump to say that “there was no such thing as truth, only a battle of opinions proffered by different actors, each of whom strives to be loudest.” For some Americans, the dossier sowed concern about Mr. Trump’s vulnerability to Russian influence. Others saw its publication as evidence that Mr. Trump was the victim of a disinformation campaign.
That may ultimately be to Mr. Trump’s benefit if better-supported allegations against him arise in the future.
Americans were similarly divided in their views on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer system. When Russian hackers leaked emails stolen from the committee, some saw it as evidence that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, was a victim of foreign machinations, while others viewed the documents’ content as confirmation that Mrs. Clinton was unreliable and dishonest. The leaks distracted from more substantive campaign issues and fueled public distrust and rancor.
Many people in the United States traditionally see the leak of confidential documents by whistle-blowers, like Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers, as a way to hold the powerful to account. We tend to believe that transparency serves the public good, and secrecy the interests of the powerful.
Such a belief presumes that there is a fixed quantity of hidden information out there that the news media is or is not revealing. But in a kompromat society, incriminating material, real and fake, will be manufactured as needed to serve a political purpose.
To smear a president, undermine a judge or sow distrust in an institution or process, all someone needs to do is create a set of documents salacious enough to attract discussion, persuade some corner of the web to publish them and then wait for the resulting controversy to be reported as news.
That does not hold the powerful to account. And worse, it undermines the institutions that are supposed to do so.
In the United States, Professor Pearce said, “grabbing on and holding to the truth is becoming more challenging.” If kompromat becomes a more widespread tactic, public trust will erode even further.
“A lot of the things that are good about the U.S. are because we have this kind of truth-based scaffolding,” she said. “I don’t want to live in an environment where I’m having to really be skeptical of everything, like people in authoritarian regimes have to be.”
“Living like that is horrible,” she said. “It is exhausting.”
Continue reading the main story
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Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates

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Mr. Manafort is among at least three Trump campaign advisers whose possible links to Russia are under scrutiny. Two others are Carter Page, a businessman and former foreign policy adviser to the campaign, and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative.
The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.
Counterintelligence investigations examine the connections between American citizens and foreign governments. Those connections can involve efforts to steal state or corporate secrets, curry favor with American government leaders or influence policy. It is unclear which Russian officials are under investigation, or what particular conversations caught the attention of American eavesdroppers. The legal standard for opening these investigations is low, and prosecutions are rare.
“We have absolutely no knowledge of any investigation or even a basis for such an investigation,” said Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump transition.
In an emailed statement Thursday evening, Mr. Manafort called allegations that he had interactions with the Russian government a “Democrat Party dirty trick and completely false.”
“I have never had any relationship with the Russian government or any Russian officials. I was never in contact with anyone, or directed anyone to be in contact with anyone,” he said.
“On the ‘Russian hacking of the D.N.C.,’” he said, “my only knowledge of it is what I have read in the papers.”
The decision to open the investigations was not based on a dossier of salacious, uncorroborated allegations that were compiled by a former British spy working for a Washington research firm. The F.B.I. is also examining the allegations in that dossier, and a summary of its contents was provided to Mr. Trump earlier this month.
Representatives of the agencies involved declined to comment. Of the half-dozen current and former officials who confirmed the existence of the investigations, some said they were providing information because they feared the new administration would obstruct their efforts. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the cases.
Numerous news outlets, including The New York Times, have reported on the F.B.I. investigations into Mr. Trump’s advisers. BBC and then McClatchy revealed the existence of a multiagency working group to coordinate investigations across the government.
The continuing investigation again puts the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, in the middle of a politically fraught investigation. Democrats have sharply criticized Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Mrs. Clinton has said his decision to reveal the existence of new emails late in the campaign cost her the election.
The F.B.I. investigation into Mr. Manafort began last spring, and was an outgrowth of a criminal investigation into his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and for the country’s former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych. In August, The Times reported that Mr. Manafort’s name had surfaced in a secret ledger that showed he had been paid millions in undisclosed cash payments. The Associated Press has reported that his work for Ukraine included a secret lobbying effort in Washington aimed at influencing American news organizations and government officials.
Mr. Stone, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, said in a speech in Florida last summer that he had communicated with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group that published the hacked Democratic emails. During the speech, Mr. Stone predicted further leaks of documents, a prediction that came true within weeks.
In a brief interview on Thursday, Mr. Stone said he had never visited Russia and had no Russian clients. He said that he had worked in Ukraine for a pro-Western party, but that any assertion that he had ties to Russian intelligence was “nonsense” and “totally false.”
“The whole thing is a canard,” he said. “I have no Russian influences.”
The Senate intelligence committee has started its own investigation into Russia’s purported attempts to disrupt the election. The committee’s inquiry is broad, and will include an examination of Russian hacking and possible ties between people associated with Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Investigators are also scrutinizing people on the periphery of Mr. Trump’s campaign, such as Mr. Page, a former Merrill Lynch banker who founded Global Energy Capital, an investment firm in New York that has done business with Russia.
In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Page expressed bewilderment about why he might be under investigation. He blamed a smear campaign — that he said was orchestrated by Mrs. Clinton — for media speculation about the nature of his ties to Russia.
“I did nothing wrong, for the 5,000th time,” he said. His adversaries, he added, are “pulling a page out of the Watergate playbook.”
The lingering investigations will pose a test for Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who has been nominated for attorney general. If Mr. Sessions is confirmed, he will for a time be the only person in the government authorized to seek foreign intelligence wiretaps on American soil.
Mr. Sessions said at his confirmation hearing that he would recuse himself from any investigations involving Mrs. Clinton. He was not asked whether he would do so in cases involving associates of Mr. Trump.
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Russia Signs Deal for Syria Bases; Turkey Appears to Accept Assad

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While Turkey’s government later said that Mr. Simsek’s remarks had been misconstrued, it was clear that he had said a settlement without Mr. Assad would be “not, you know, realistic.”
Both developments came as Russia, Turkey and Iran prepared to convene Syrian peace talks in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on Monday.
For the first time, it looked likely that the main Syrian opposition, along with many other factions, would sit down with Mr. Assad’s government for peace talks. The last effort at such negotiations was held by the United Nations in Geneva in February, and it collapsed in days.
The new Russian military agreement with Syria provides for an expansion of Russia’s Tartus naval base on the Syrian coast under a 49-year lease that could automatically renew for a further 25 years, according to Tass, the Russian news agency.
Tass said the expansion would provide simultaneous berthing for up to 11 warships, including nuclear-powered vessels, more than doubling its present known capacity there.
Tass reported that the agreement also provided for a similar long-term commitment for the Russians to use the Khmeimim Air Base in the Latakia area, which the Russians built in 2015 as they mobilized to help Mr. Assad’s forces.
There were news reports that the Russians were building a second runway at the air base.
The military agreement came despite Russia’s announcement this month that it was drawing down its forces in Syria after successes by the Assad government against Syrian rebels, which were achieved with much help from the Russians.
The rebels were ousted from their strongholds in Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city, late last year, partly because of Russian air support.
The Russian-Syrian agreement came as momentum grew among dissidents to join the peace talks in Astana, although it was a foregone conclusion that any deal from those negotiations would be rejected by jihadists. At least 14 rebel factions are participating.
At the Turkish government’s insistence, however, Kurdish groups fighting the Islamic State in the east of the country and backed by the United States were not invited. Turkey’s government has accused those Kurdish groups of affiliations with militant Kurdish separatists in Turkey.
Mr. Simsek’s remarks were made at a World Economic Forum session titled “Syria and Iraq: Ending the Conflict.” He suggested that Turkey would accept continued rule by Mr. Assad.
“As far as our position on Assad is concerned,” Mr. Simsek said, “we think that the suffering of the Syrian people and the tragedies, clearly the blame is squarely on Assad.”
“But we have to be pragmatic, realistic,” he said. “The facts on the ground have changed dramatically, and so Turkey can no longer insist on, you know, a settlement without Assad, and it’s not, you know, realistic. We just have to work with what we have.”
Hours later, Mr. Simsek’s office in Ankara issued a statement saying news accounts had distorted Mr. Simsek’s remarks and “tried to create the perception that our deputy P.M. said, ‘Turkey cannot insist anymore on an agreement without Assad.’” But a review of the videotape of the session left no doubt that that was what he had said.
The Astana talks are the outcome of a Russian-brokered cease-fire throughout Syria that began at the end of December. It has been widely observed except in areas where extreme jihadist factions prevail — but with many accusations of breaches elsewhere as well.
“The priority for us is to put an end to human tragedy, human suffering in Syria and Iraq,” Mr. Simsek said in Davos. “The process is to make sure we translate the current lull into a more lasting cease-fire and then talk about more mundane stuff of settling the conflict.”
Russia is the lead host of the talks in the Kazakh capital, with support from Turkey and Iran. Over the last week, Turkey and Russia have also invited the United States and the United Nations to attend the Astana negotiations.
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Trump son-in-law Kushner can serve as White House adviser: Justice Department

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Page 9

Denying feud over Russia hacking, Trump vows support to CIA | Reuters

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By Jeff Mason and Warren Strobel | LANGLEY, Va./WASHINGTON
LANGLEY, Va./WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump tried to ease tensions with the CIA on Saturday, telling officers he had their back after he had leveled unprecedented criticism against spy agencies for their investigation into Russian hacking during the election.
In his first official visit to a government agency as president, Trump - who had said U.S. intelligence tactics were reminiscent of Nazi Germany - sought to leave no doubt with officers that he supported their work.
Even so, some analysts said it would take more than a quick visit for Trump to patch up relations with a community that he has denigrated. A large part of Trump's off-the-cuff remarks on Saturday were not related to the work of the CIA, at times sounding more like a campaign rally than an address to intelligence professionals.
Trump made no mention of Russia during his remarks, which included praise for his nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, a pledge to fight Islamic State and a rant against the media, which he said invented his feud with intelligence agencies.
"Very, very few people could do the job you people do and I want you to know I am so behind you," Trump said, to cheers and loud applause from about 400 officers who packed the building's atrium to hear him speak.
Ahead of his inauguration, Trump had harshly criticized intelligence officials after they concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed hackers to breach Democratic emails to try to boost Trump's presidential election campaign. He has since accepted those conclusions.
Then, after leaks about an unsubstantiated dossier compiled by a private security firm suggesting Moscow had compromising information about him, Trump blamed intelligence agencies for using Nazi-like tactics - drawing a rebuke from outgoing CIA Director John Brennan.
Trump has said he wants to try to work with Moscow to fight Islamic State militants and reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons.
He said reporters made up the tension between him and the CIA. "I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest people on earth," Trump said. "They made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence people."
REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Trump also slammed media for showing images of "an empty field" from his inauguration on the National Mall while he claimed that the crowd "went all the way back to the Washington Monument." And he called out by name a reporter who had made an error in a White House press pool report.
QUESTIONS ABOUT TRUMP
While Trump has some support in the U.S. intelligence community, his criticism over the Russia issue eroded much of it. Within the 17-agency intelligence community, there are widely shared concerns about the qualifications and judgment of Trump, a businessman and television star who never before held public office.
Some veteran analysts who have spent their careers studying foreign dictators and autocrats have said they are troubled by Trump's style, saying his negativity, egotism and appeals to nationalism are hallmarks of autocratic regimes.
"Many people are asking whether we can serve under a president and national security adviser who've expressed such contempt for the intelligence community, and one photo opportunity drive-by on a Saturday is not going to change that," said a veteran officer now working at CIA headquarters after multiple assignments overseas, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Paul Pillar, a former top U.S. intelligence analyst on the Middle East, said Trump's digressions during the speech show that "even when he is in their own building he can't be bothered to focus on their work."
Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives' intelligence committee, said Trump's speech in front of a memorial wall with stars representing CIA personnel killed in action was "little more than a perfunctory acknowledgment of their service and sacrifice."
A PROMISE TO RETURN
Trump had originally hoped to swear in Pompeo as his new CIA chief during the visit to the spy agency. But the Senate has not yet confirmed the Kansas Republican representative for the job. That vote is expected on Monday.
Trump and Pompeo received briefings at the CIA headquarters before the president made remarks.
Trump vowed he would return to speak with officers again. He said fighting Islamic State militants would be a priority for the agency, saying "radical Islamic terrorism" had to be eradicated.
"We have not used the real abilities that we have. We've been restrained," Trump said. It was not immediately clear what he meant by restraints.
During his campaign, Trump pledged to bring back the use of waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that former President Barack Obama had banned as torture.
But Pompeo and Trump's new defense secretary, James Mattis, have told Congress they would oppose a return to the interrogation technique.
(Additional reporting by John Walcott; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Alistair Bell and Leslie Adler)
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Prospect of Warming US-Russia Ties Worries China

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BEIJING —