US State Dept. Urges Russia to Use Influence to Grant Access to OSCE in Donbass

US State Dept. Urges Russia to Use Influence to Grant Access to OSCE in Donbass

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States is urging the Russian government to use its influence with groups in eastern Ukraine to allow access to civilian monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), US Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Thursday.

“The United States calls on Russia to use its influence to end this campaign of intimidation and honor its commitment to allow free, full and safe access to the OSCE monitors,” Nauert told reporters.

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AFP 2017/ ANATOLII STEPANOVThe Donbass conflict erupted in April 2014 as a local counter-reaction to the West-sponsored Maidan coup in Kiev that had toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.
In February 2015, Kiev forces and Donbass independence support..

Washington, Beijing Put the Screws to Pyongyang with Renewed Sanctions

Washington, Beijing Put the Screws to Pyongyang with Renewed Sanctions

For years, and particularly since the beginning of the most recent crisis, Washington has urged Beijing to put more pressure on Pyongyang, which heavily relies on China for imports and exports. Eighty-five percent of North Korea's imports in 2015 came from China, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity.

For the most part, China has not done this. Until mid-April, they were importing far more coal from North Korea than allowed by the UN. According to the Japanese Nikkei Asian Review, China reduced coal imports in April but has also quadrupled iron imports since 2016 to make up for the loss.

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AP Photo/ Xinhua, Li Tang
Some foreign policy experts have argued that the international community must engineer similar circumstances to the strict sanctions against Iran that led to the 2015 deal that slowed the Iranian nuclear program. If such a thing is possible in North Korea, then China is clearly the key.

Top leaders from both countries met to discuss what the world&#03..

Syrian Patriotic Committee Hopes to Approve Draft Constitution Soon

Syrian Patriotic Committee Hopes to Approve Draft Constitution Soon

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Sputnik/ Mikhail VoskresenskiyMOSCOW (Sputnik) — The recently-formed Syrian Patriotic Democratic Opposition Committee, which consists of representatives from 19 political movements, is expected in coming weeks to approve its own draft of the new Syrian Constitution based, in particular, on Russia’s previous recommendations, Syria's Tomorrow opposition group spokesman Monzer Akbik told Sputnik Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the members of the Syria's Tomorrow group discussed the implementation of Syria's ceasefire, as well as continuation of negotiations in both the Geneva and Astana formats with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“We formed a committee and currently it is working on the constitutional framework … In the coming weeks, a draft or some other kind of a document will be elaborated, which will then be approved by more than 20 Syrian parties and political movements. Of course, we did take Russia’s efforts on the constitutional project into consideration..

Promoted Saudi Crown Prince ‘Betting On Trump’s Support For New Policies’

Promoted Saudi Crown Prince ‘Betting On Trump’s Support For New Policies’

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AP Photo/ Yoan ValatOn Wednesday, Saudi King Salman decreed a change to the line of succession in the Kingdom, naming his 31-year-old son Prince Mohammed bin Salman as his successor.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman replaces Salman's nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who has also been fired from his job as Interior Minister.

When King Salman, who is 81, took the throne in January 2015, he appointed his son Defense Minister. Bin Salman has been responsible for controversial military decisions such as the Saudi-led campaign of airstrikes in Yemen and support for the creation of the Islamist Army of Conquest in Syria, a rebel group mainly comprised of the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham.

Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, has deep ties to Washington and is seen as the most pro-American of the Saudi leadership. He has years of experience in intelligence and has been dubbed “the prince of counter-terrorism” by US officials.

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REUTERS/ Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy ..

Ukraine Registers 500 Suicides by Donbass Military Operation Participants

Ukraine Registers 500 Suicides by Donbass Military Operation Participants

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Sputnik/ Igor MaslovKIEV (Sputnik) – Around 500 cases of suicide were registered among the Ukrainian servicemen who had been participating in the military operation in Donbass, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in an article published Thursday.
“How is the state of affairs in Ukraine three years after the outbreak of the war?… According to the military prosecutor's office, as of the beginning of June, 2017, approximately 500 cases of suicides were registered, among participants of the… operation [in Donbass area] after having returned from the combat zone,” Avakov said in an article published by Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper.

According to the interior minister, around 90-95 percent of combatants develop various social and medical, specially pertaining to the nervous system, problems after participating in military conflict, which is the universally recognized international standard. About one-third of these soldiers were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder ..

US Strike in Yemen Kills Al-Qaeda Emir, Two Other Members

US Strike in Yemen Kills Al-Qaeda Emir, Two Other Members

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US military conducted an airstrike in Yemen on June 16 that resulted in death of three members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist group (banned in Russia), including the emir for the Shabwah Governorate, Central Command said in a press release on Thursday.

“Abu Khattab al Awlaqi, the emir for AQAP’s terrorist stronghold in Shabwah Governorate, was killed in the strike along with two of his AQAP associates,” the release said.

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REUTERS/ Robert S. Price/Courtesy U.S. NavyCENTCOM said al Awlaqi, who was responsible for planning attacks, had significant influence within AQAP and had ties to the senior leaders.
“Al Awlaqi’s death removes a trusted and experienced terrorist leader from AQAP’s ranks,” the release said.

CENTCOM said the strike was supported by the government of Yemen.

US Senate Republican Healthcare Bill ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – Minority Leader

US Senate Republican Healthcare Bill ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – Minority Leader

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AP Photo/ Reed SaxonWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The Republican healthcare bill in the US Senate is deceiving and worse than the healthcare bill crafted by Republicans in the House of Representatives, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said during a press conference on Thursday.
“The Senate Republican healthcare bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only this wolf’s teeth are even sharper than in the House bill,” Schumer told reporters.

The bill, Schumer stated, would defund abortion provider Planned Parenthood, cut Medicaid and send more money to the wealthy.

In addition, Schumer claimed the bill would ban Americans with preexisting health conditions from being covered.

Earlier on Thursday, Senate Republicans unveiled their healthcare bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The bill was immediately met with an outcry by Democrats and sparked protests outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office on Capitol Hill.

Senate Republicans are h..

UN Secretary-General Appoints Ex-Lebanese Minister to Head Mission in Libya

UN Secretary-General Appoints Ex-Lebanese Minister to Head Mission in Libya

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REUTERS/ Omar SanadikiUNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed former Lebanese Culture Minister Ghassan Salame as his Special Representative and Head of the UN Mission in Libya, Office of the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.
“United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today announced the appointment of Ghassan Salame of Lebanon as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL),” the statement noted.

Salame will succeed Martin Kobler of Germany who has been serving in this position since November 2015.

In 2003, Salame served as the Political Advisor to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), before being appointed as Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General (2003-2007, 2012). He also served as Lebanon’s Minister of Culture from 2000 to 2003.

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Sputnik/ Vladimir FedorenkoThroughout most of his career, Salame was professor of International Relations at Sciences..

Wheelchair Users Dragged from US Capitol During ‘Die-In’ Protest

Wheelchair Users Dragged from US Capitol During ‘Die-In’ Protest

For their pains, they were dragged from their protest site by Capitol police officers.

— Seth Lemon (@Seth_Lemon) June 22, 2017

​The conservative party in Washington has worked to write a bill that would cut health care for millions of people. In protest, some of the most vulnerable – the elderly and disabled – staged a “die-in” outside the offices of Washington’s most powerful lawmakers, among them the Senate majority leader.

The demonstrators were dragged out of the Capitol Building for protesting the bill even US President Donald Trump has told confidants is “mean.” What’s more, Trump’s campaign platform stated quite clearly that as president he would never axe funding for Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.

— Dap!!! (@Deetroit_Dave) June 22, 2017

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2015

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2015

​Sick people are being forced out of the government building against their will.

— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) June 22, 2017

..

UK Transport Union to Stage Strike Against Driver-Only Trains on July 10

UK Transport Union to Stage Strike Against Driver-Only Trains on July 10

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AP Photo/ Frank AugsteinMOSCOW (Sputnik) – Driver-Only Operation (DOO) implies that only the one train driver has the sole responsibility for opening and closing the doors and dispatching the train from a station. The system excludes the role of a guard aboard the train, who is responsible for passenger health and safety, including during accidents.
“RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that guards and drivers on Southern Rail will strike again for 24 hours in the on-going disputes over the safety impact of the extension of Driver Only Operation and the removal of guards from services. Members will strike for 24 hours between 0001 hours and 2359 hours on Monday 10th July 2017 [23:00 GMT on July 9 to 21:59 GMT on July 10],” the statement said.

RMT's General Secretary Mick Cash said that the union's members, working for Southern Rail, which links London with the Channel ports, South West England, South coast resorts and Kent, had been fighting for the safety on such trains for ov..

Trump Says He Does Not Have Recordings of Conversation with Comey

Trump Says He Does Not Have Recordings of Conversation with Comey

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AP Photo/ Carolyn KasterWASHINGTON (Sputnik) — President Donald Trump announced on Thursday he does not have any recordings of conversations with former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey.
“[W]hether there are ‘tapes’ or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings,” Trump stated in a message via Twitter.

…whether there are “tapes” or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017

​On May 12, three days after he fired Comey, Trump said the former FBI director better hope that there are no “tapes” of their conversations before Comey starts leaking to the press.

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AP Photo/ Alex BrandonComey had admitted in his testimony to the US Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8 that he had given a memorandum of his conversations with Trump to a friend to leak to the media.
On June 9, Trump prom..

US Attack Submarine Columbus Makes Port Visit in Singapore – Navy

US Attack Submarine Columbus Makes Port Visit in Singapore – Navy

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AP Photo/ Marco GarciaWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Singapore is hosting the US attack submarine Columbus during for a port visit as part of the vessel’s deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the US Navy said in a press release on Thursday.
“The Los Angeles class attack submarine USS Columbus (SSN 762) arrived in Singapore for a visit as part of its deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” the release stated.

The Columbus is deployed in the Navy's 7th Fleet area of operation that encompasses 36 maritime countries and half of the world’s population, according to the Navy.

Columbus supports a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance, the release added. It is named for the city of Columbus in the US state of Ohio.

‘Fear of Kurdish Independence’ Prompts Erdogan to Oppose Greater Albania Plans

‘Fear of Kurdish Independence’ Prompts Erdogan to Oppose Greater Albania Plans

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AP Photo/ Darko VojinovicOn Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Albania's Top Channel broadcaster that Ankara is opposed to the “Greater Albania” ideology, which seeks to unite ethnic Albanians living in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia into a single state.
Erdogan was asked for his view on comments by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who again raised the prospect of Albania's unification Kosovo in an interview with Politico last April.

“These are bad ideas. You see what is happening in the Middle East, Iraq and Syria. We don't want this kind of crisis to come to the Balkans. We are in favor of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Balkan countries,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan's emphatic response comes in spite of his commitment to a Neo-Ottoman relationship with parts of the former Ottoman Empire.

In 2013, when he was Prime Minister, Erdogan visited the Kosovan city of Prizren and caused controversy by saying, “Kosovo is Turkey, and Turkey..

Bill to Ban US Tourist Travel to North Korea to Move Forward in House

Bill to Ban US Tourist Travel to North Korea to Move Forward in House

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AP Photo/ Andrew HarnikWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce has promised to move swiftly to advance a bill to limit travel by American citizens to North Korea, Congressman Joe Wilson said in a statement on Tuesday.
“I am grateful that Chairman Ed Royce has committed to marking up this important legislation soon, and look forward to having it debated in the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” Wilson said.

Wilson co-authored the bill, dubbed the North Korea Travel Control Act, along with Congressman Adam Schiff.

The legislation would task the Treasury Department with issuing regulations requiring a license for travel to, from and within North Korea by American citizens. It would also ban any form of tourist travel by Americans.

“I’m pleased that the Foreign Affairs Committee is moving expeditiously to take up our bill, which would place meaningful and effective limits on the travel of Americans to this pariah state, and ban tourist travel..

Belgian PM: Brexit Talks to Reveal Possible Extent of EU-UK Cooperation

Belgian PM: Brexit Talks to Reveal Possible Extent of EU-UK Cooperation

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AP Photo/ Virginia MayoBRUSSELS (Sputnik) — During the ongoing Brexit talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the possible level of continuation of the intensive bilateral cooperation following the UK withdrawal from the bloc will be considered, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Thursday.
Earlier in the day, European Council President Donald Tusk said that he had hoped for the reversal of the process of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the bloc, so that the country could remain in the European alliance. Tusk noted that he was not the only one who had such aspirations.

“I consider we have to respect the choice of the United Kingdom, we will negotiate and we will see how it possible to keep a smooth cooperation on the different issues, for the economic development, for trade, but also of security,” Michel told reporters prior to the summit of the EU leaders.

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REUTERS/ Chris JacksonThe EU leaders' summit is taking place from Thursday through..

Arms Found in Car of Paris Police Attacker Point to Large-Scale Attack Plans

Arms Found in Car of Paris Police Attacker Point to Large-Scale Attack Plans

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AP Photo/ Burhan OzbibliciPARIS (Sputnik) – On Monday, Dzaziri rammed a car into a Gendarmerie (armed police force) vehicle on the Champs-Elysees in the center of Paris. The attacker died at the scene, as his car, loaded with weapons and explosives, burst into flames. No one else was injured in the attack.
“The arms stock found in the car proves clearly the preparation of the terror attack which could have had dramatic consequences if not prevented,” Molins was quoted as saying by the BFM TV broadcaster.

The attacker was known to French intelligence for his connections with terrorism and was marked “fiche S”, as a potential security threat, Molins added.

In the attack perpetrator's car the police found two gas cans and a stock of firearms and ammunition, which, according to the prosecutor, “leaves no doubt the man was planning an act of violence”.

Hackers Stole Thousands of Voter Records From US State Databases

Hackers Stole Thousands of Voter Records From US State Databases

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AP Photo/ Chairman of the Joint ChiefsWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Citing current and former officials, TIME reported that the hackers managed to alter voter data in at least one county database, and stole thousands of voters’ recorders containing private information.
In the state of Illinois, 90,000 records were stolen, 90 percent of which contained drivers license numbers. Partial Social Security numbers were included in 25 percent of the records, TIME reported citing Illinois board of elections general counsel Ken Menzel.

US officials have maintained, including during Congressional hearings on Wednesday, that no voter information was manipulated in the breaches.

But when asked by House Intelligence Committee members on Wednesday, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson conceded that it was possible hackers could change voter rolls or the eligibility of registered voters.

The TIME report noted that the investigators have not identified who was responsible for the manipulation ..

International Monetary Fund Praises Russia for Taking Steps to Diversify Economy

International Monetary Fund Praises Russia for Taking Steps to Diversify Economy

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REUTERS/ Sergei Karpukhin/File PhotoMOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Dmitrieva – Over the recent years, Russia has undertaken a number of efforts to mitigate the outfall of its recent two-year recession, Western sanctions and the slump in oil prices. This included budget cuts, a tight monetary policy, purging the country's banking system of weaker players and initiating an import substitution program.
“There are a number of fronts that can be done or in which action is needed to achieve diversification. One very basic [step] that needs to be done is to ensure the economy is less dependent and less vulnerable to oil prices and for that to happen, implementing a fiscal rule that is anchored around prudent values for the oil price is essential. This is the first step, and the [Russian] authorities are taking very good steps in that direction,” Di Bella said.

The IMF representative urged the Russian government to continue the policy of diversification for several years in order to less..

‘War’ Against Monuments in Poland Provokes Aggravation in Relations With Russia

‘War’ Against Monuments in Poland Provokes Aggravation in Relations With Russia

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REUTERS/ Ints KalninsMOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Sejm, or lower house of Poland's parliament, adopted amendments earlier Thursday to the so-called de-communization law stipulating the demolition of almost 500 Soviet-era monuments in the country.
“Those who continue the campaign of 'war' against monuments should realize that they are provoking further aggravation in Russian-Polish relations,” the Russian ministry said.

Indian Naval Officer Files Mercy Petition Before Pak Army Chief

Indian Naval Officer Files Mercy Petition Before Pak Army Chief

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Earlier, the Military Appellate Court had rejected Jadhav's appeal. Under the Pakistan law, if the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan rejects his clemency, he can appeal for clemency to the President of Pakistan.

“In his plea, Commander Jadhav has admitted his involvement in espionage, terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan and expressed remorse at the resultant loss of many precious innocent lives and extensive damage to property due to his actions. Seeking forgiveness for his actions, he has requested the Chief of Army Staff to spare his life on compassionate grounds,” Inter Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan armed forces, said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army has also released a second “confessional video in which he (Jadhav) can be seen accepting his acts of terrorism and espionage”.

India filed its request for the indication of provisional measures on May 8, 2017 before the International Court of Justice against Jadhav senten..

Establishing Safe Zones Not to Limit Israeli Freedom of Action in Syria – DM

Establishing Safe Zones Not to Limit Israeli Freedom of Action in Syria – DM

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AP Photo/ Oded BaliltyTEL AVIV (Sputnik) — The creation of de-escalation zones in Syria will not limit Israel's capabilities to act in the war-torn country in case of threats to the security of the Jewish state, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday.
“The United States and Russia are currently holding active talks… on buffer zones and so on. I hope they will reach mutual understanding, good agreements. But this will not limit our freedom of actions. Despite everything we will continue doing all necessary things to provide Israeli interests,” Lieberman said at the Herzliya Conference on security.

According to Lieberman, Israel had no intention to start a military campaign in Syria, however, Tel Aviv would continue responding to shelling from Syrian territory, preventing attempts of terrorist attacks, and stopping militant groups, such as Lebanon-based Hezbollah, from getting modern weapons.

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AFP 2017/ JALAA MAREYAt the latest Astana talks on Syria, which ..

India to Bring Indian Workers Back From Qatar

India to Bring Indian Workers Back From Qatar

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AFP 2017/ TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS OFFICE/ KAYHAN OZER New Delhi (Sputnik) – India’s state-owned airlines Air India and some other private carriers such as Jet Airways will operate special flights from Mumbai, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram to bring back Indian workers from Doha, Qatar. These special flights will be operated from June 22 to July 8.
“All steps necessary for timely movement of our citizens from Doha will be ensured, I and Sushma Swaraj are in touch on this issue,” Indian Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in his tweet.

All steps necessary for timely movement of our citizens from Doha will be ensured. I and @SushmaSwaraj ji are in touch on this issue.

— Ashok Gajapathi Raju (@Ashok_Gajapathi) June 21, 2017

​The Civil Aviation Minister has informed that Jet Airways will run an additional flight on June 22 and 23 between Mumbai and Doha.

Jet Airways will run an additional flight on 22nd and 23rd June 2017 between Mumbai and Doha

— Ashok Gajapathi Raj..

US Aircraft Carrier Nimitz Strike Group Enters 7th Fleet Area of Operations

US Aircraft Carrier Nimitz Strike Group Enters 7th Fleet Area of Operations

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US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge LeoniWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US Navy said in a press release on Thursday the aircraft carrier Nimitz, the centerpiece of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group 11, has sailed into its 7th Fleet area of operations.
“While operating on patrol in 7th Fleet, Nimitz is slated to enhance maritime partnerships and promote peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” the release stated.

Cruising with Nimitz are the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers Howard, Shoup, Pinckney and Kidd, the release noted.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser Princeton is also part of the strike group, according to the release.

The 7th Fleet's area of operations spans 48 million square miles from the International Date Line to the Western Indian Ocean, the release noted.

Nimitz' last cruise to the Western Pacific was in 2013.

Merkel Hopes EU Summit to Bring Specific Results in Defense Policy

Merkel Hopes EU Summit to Bring Specific Results in Defense Policy

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AP Photo/ Martin MeissnerBERLIN (Sputnik) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she was hopeful the two-day EU summit, which kicked off in Brussels earlier on Thursday, would yield tangible results in the sphere of EU defense policy.
“I think that the summit will take place in an optimistic atmosphere. I hope some concrete results, including in the sphere of defense policy, will be achieved,” Merkel told reporters upon her arrival in Brussels.

Apart from general EU defense policy issues, the summit's participants will also discuss different issues related to EU security, the fight against terrorism, and economic development, the German chancellor specified.

“Today, the new French president [Emmanuel Macron] will join us for the first time. I am happy with the upcoming cooperation, because I think that creativity and new impulses originating from Germany and France may bring benefits to all,” Merkel added.

European Council President Donald Tusk said in his invitation le..

Unity Through Sports: North, South Korea May Host 2018 Winter Olympics Together

Unity Through Sports: North, South Korea May Host 2018 Winter Olympics Together

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REUTERS/ Blue House/YonhapDo Jong-hwan, South Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, brought forward two interesting and generous proposals that might help improve relations between Seoul and Pyongyang.
First, he suggested that North Korea may co-host some of the upcoming Winter Olympic skiing events, naming the Masikryong ski resort as a potential venue.
Second, the minister proposed that the two countries form a joint women’s ice hockey team to represent both Seoul and Pyongyang at the Olympic.

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative told Sputnik that the organization welcomes this development because “the Olympic Movement is always about building bridges, never about erecting walls.”

“We are looking at the comments of the new Minister of Sport, Culture and Tourism with great interest and, of course, we are happy to discuss his ideas together with POCOG during the next visit by the IOC to the Republic of Korea,” the representative said.

Dr. Vida Bajc, a..

US Senate Republicans Introduce Bill to Repeal Obamacare – Lawmaker

US Senate Republicans Introduce Bill to Repeal Obamacare – Lawmaker

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AFP 2017/ RHONA WISEWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US Senate Republicans have released a healthcare bill that aims to repeal and replace Obamacare, US Senator Mitch McConnell said on Thursday.
“The draft…is posted online and I encourage everyone to carefully review it,” McConnell stated on the Senate floor. “ObamaCare is a direct attack on the middle class and American families deserve better than its failing status quo.”

Senate Republicans are hoping to vote on the new healthcare bill by June 29. The measure includes cuts to the Medicaid healthcare program and defunds Planned Parenthood for a year.

On May 4, the US House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act to repeal and replace Obamacare.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll found on Wednesday that only 35 percent of voters approved of the passed bill.

Macron’s Syria Comments Signal ‘Very Positive Change’ in French Foreign Policy

Macron’s Syria Comments Signal ‘Very Positive Change’ in French Foreign Policy

In an interview with several European newspapers on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad is not a priority for the new French government, which is above all concerned with eliminating terrorist groups.

“I'm not saying that the departure of Assad should be a prerequisite, since I do not see who could become his legitimate successor,” Macron said.

“My positions are clear: the first is an unconditioned struggle against terrorist groups. They are our enemies … We need to cooperate with everyone, especially with Russia, to eradicate them.”

“Secondly, the stability of Syria, because I don't want a failed state,” the French President said.

Xavier Moreau, a French expert on international relations, told Radio Sputnik that Macron's comments represent a “very positive change” in French policy.

“I think it's a continuation of what happened when he met with Vladimir Putin some weeks ago. He said that the 'r..

Reworking NAFTA Difficult Without Changes to Mexican Labor Law – US Lawmaker

Reworking NAFTA Difficult Without Changes to Mexican Labor Law – US Lawmaker

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AP Photo/ J. Scott ApplewhiteWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – A renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will be difficult to pass in Congress unless it is precluded by major changes in both practice and law when it comes to Mexican labor laws, US Congressman Sandy Levin said on Thursday during a hearing on US trade policy.
“I think unless, practice has shown, that changes are made before we vote, both in laws and practices, it essentially will be difficult and should be difficult to pass NAFTA,” Levin stated.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer admitted in his testimony before the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee that Mexican labor laws were having a negative effect on the United States.

The Trump administration notified Congress at the end of May of its intent to renegotiate NAFTA. The negotiations between the United States, Canada and Mexico are set to start in August.

Russia May Boost Military Police Strength in Syria

Russia May Boost Military Police Strength in Syria

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AP Photo/ Raad AdaylehMOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia may boost its military police contingent in Syria for work in de-escalation zones, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defense and security committee of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, told Sputnik on Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, the head of the defense committee of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, Vladimir Shamanov, confirmed to Sputnik that Russia was holding talks with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to send their servicemen to Syria and said the issue of Russian military police being tasked with monitoring the ceasefire regime in Syria was being worked out.

“Representatives of our military police are already carrying out tasks in Syria to form humanitarian corridors, etc. Depending on whether new tasks are set before them, the calculation of manpower and resources will be made and, if necessary, their number will be increased,” Ozerov said.

Half of US Voters Believe Reporters, Media Owners Biased Against Trump – Poll

Half of US Voters Believe Reporters, Media Owners Biased Against Trump – Poll

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AP Photo/ Andrew HarnikWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Fifty percent of likely US voters take a dim view of media reports on President Donald Trump, with blame shared by both reporters and owners of news outlets, according to a poll by Rasmussen Reports on Thursday.
“Given the president's testy relationship with the media, however, it's not surprising that 76 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of voters not affiliated with either major political party believe most reporters are biased against the president, a view shared by only 24 percent of Democrats,” a press release accompanying the report stated.

Overall, the poll found 50 percent of survey participants believed that “most reporters are biased against the president” compared with 40 percent who think most reporters attempt to be “fair and balanced,” the release explained.

Media ownership is blamed by 57 percent of all voters for influencing news coverage generated by their reporters, while just 27 percent believe owners a..

Greece Has Good Chance of Getting Debt Relief Agreement – IMF

Greece Has Good Chance of Getting Debt Relief Agreement – IMF

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Sputnik/ Sergei GuneevWASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) intends to approve in principle a new loan package for Greece because it is confident there is a good chance to reach a deal on the debt relief, IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice said in a briefing on Thursday.
On June 15, IMF head Christine Lagarde announced her intention to propose to the IMF’s Executive Board the approval in principle of a new loan package for Athens.

“If we did not think that we had a good chance of getting agreement on the debt relief then we would not go ahead in this way,” Rice told reporters.

The spokesperson noted the IMF expects the issue to be brought to an early conclusion.

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REUTERS/ Dado RuvicGreece, burdened with outstanding debt, has been experiencing a financial crisis since 2010. The country has received several bailout payments provided by the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF in exchange for implementing a number of austerity reforms. The loans,..

Education, Business Key to UK Retaining Global Post-Brexit Competitiveness

Education, Business Key to UK Retaining Global Post-Brexit Competitiveness

Analysis by Eight Advisory, a consulting group, has found that the UK must act pre-emptively to ensure it retains its competitive advantages.

Today, we publish our first #UK #competitiveness #report for 2017 (🇬🇧) here —-> https://t.co/lwnoCJ51AT #competitivenessUK17 cc @8Advisory

— Eight Advisory (@8Advisory) June 22, 2017

​According to sources, the university education system in the UK is another significant area which helps the country retain significant competitive advantage, with eight of the top 100 universities in the world residing in Britain.

However, if funding is reduced to UK universities this could potentially “undermine product development and innovation andslow down the pipeline of new products, services and companies coming to market,” the report's authors have said.

The UK's world-leading university sector should help shape #Brexit negotiations https://t.co/GuFBWKZ8pn @UniversitiesUK & @UUKIntl pic.twitter.com/aFkWujA0MO

— Global BU (@GlobalBU) 22 June 2..

Over 900,000 Sri Lankans May Face Famine Due to Drought Followed by Floods

Over 900,000 Sri Lankans May Face Famine Due to Drought Followed by Floods

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AP Photo/ Akira SuemoriMOSCOW (Sputnik) – Drought and subsequent floods in Sri Lanka threaten the food security of around 900,000 people in Sri Lanka, a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), issued on Thursday, said.
“According to the joint Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission, drought conditions in 2016 and early 2017 led to widespread crop failures, in particular for rice paddy — the country’s staple food … The situation was exacerbated by subsequent heavy rainfalls in May … Now, nearly 225,000 households (or about 900,000 people) face food insecurity,” the UN agencies said in a press release accompanying the report.

The WFP stressed that the situation in Sri Lanka might worsen further in the case that the following crop season failed, taking into consideration the shortage of seeds and irrigation water, as well as damaged infrastructure.

“FAO and WFP call for the urgent provision of seeds as well ..

Russia in Talks With Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan to Send Servicemen to Syria

Russia in Talks With Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan to Send Servicemen to Syria

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Photo: Russian Defense MinistryMOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier Thursday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the Russian side had put forward a proposal to send servicemen from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to de-escalation zones in Syria.
“Negotiations are underway now, the issue is being worked out to ensure that representatives of the Russian military police take part in solving problems related to ensuring order in Syria. Questions and proposals to our colleagues from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are also being worked out. There are intentions and the beginning of the negotiation process, the decision has not yet been made,” Shamanov said.

Syrian Kurds Warn Turkey is Getting Ready for Assault on Syrian City of Afrin

Syrian Kurds Warn Turkey is Getting Ready for Assault on Syrian City of Afrin

“Turkey is pulling its forces to the cities of Azaz and Mare in northwestern Syria. Besides, it is deploying heavy armament on the border near Idlib. We can't provide the exact numbers of the units of the heavy armament which is being deployed by Ankara, because the Turkish military and the units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are launching regular attacks on Afrin,” Nuri Mehmud told Sputnik.

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REUTERS/ Mahmoud HebboMeanwhile, a FSA commander, who wished not to disclose his name, told Sputnik that Turkey, together with the FSA fighters intends to launch an operation near the city of Tell Rifaat in northwestern Syria after the end of the holy month of Ramadan. That is why Turkey is deploying its officers and heavy armament near the city of Azaz which is located 6 km from Tell Rifaat.
“Tell Rifaat is of strategic importance and its territory should have been long cleared from YPG, because it belongs to Arabs. If Tell Rifaat is going to be captured, then the threat to Azaz will be ..

Increasingly Aggravating Venezuela Situation ‘Calls For Action’ – US Envoy to UN

Increasingly Aggravating Venezuela Situation ‘Calls For Action’ – US Envoy to UN

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AP Photo/ Martin MejiaUNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) – The international community must act in response to the tragic events unfolding in Venezuela that put the lives of Venezuelans in danger, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement on Thursday.
“The tragic situation in Venezuela calls out for action,” Haley said. “The international community must act even if the UN Human Rights Council and the Organization of American States are blocked from doing so.”

Haley welcomed the efforts of states that are “committed to maintaining our hemisphere’s commitment to democracy”.

Protests broke out in Venezuela in early April, when the nation's Supreme Court decided to curb the legislative powers of the National Assembly, which is controlled by the opposition.

Despite the almost immediate reversal of the controversial decision, supporters of the opposition took to the streets, demanding the resignation of the judges and a snap election. Over a thousand people have be..

Moscow Urges West Media to Address Reports of Choppers Supporting Daesh

Moscow Urges West Media to Address Reports of Choppers Supporting Daesh

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On June 14, Daesh militants managed to capture the majority of the Tora Bora cave complex in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, Zakharova added.
“We have paid our attention to the reports of the transportation by the helicopters having no identification marks of IS Afghan wing's militants as well as arms and ammunition for them, now in the east of Afghanistan,” Zakharova said at a regular press briefing adding that a member of the Iraqi parliament's lower house publicly said these vehicles belonged to the United States.

The spokeswoman continued by saying that the transportation of 50 armed extremists and a container with arms and ammunition by the 'unidentified' helicopters to the Afghan cave complex was reported. This was done, according to Zakharova, to support the terror group in the area that had launched an offensive toward Tora Bora.

Up until now, neither Afghan authorities, nor the leadership of US or NATO forces in the count..

Part Plane, Part Car: Unique Russian Begalet Vehicle to Wow Enthusiasts

Part Plane, Part Car: Unique Russian Begalet Vehicle to Wow Enthusiasts

In an interview with Sputnik, Alexander Begak, director general and aircraft designer at the Russian scientific development and production center Aviation and Space Technologies, touted the creation by his company of Begalet, a sophisticated vehicle which combines the characteristics of an electric car with those of a light plane.

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Photo: Aviation and Space Technologies centerRussia's Begalet vehicle
Begak described the Begalet as “an electric vehicle that can fly with the soft wing of a paraglider or like a powered parachute.

According to him, the Begalet, which is manufactured in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, has four wheels and is therefore capable of riding smoothly on the road.

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Photo: Aviation and Space Technologies centerRussia's Begalet vehicle
“The Begalet features a streamlined ergonomic capsule (fuselage) with a complete flight package; its devices include the GPS and GLONASS navigation systems plus additional equipment. This is why specialists ..

Turkish, Russian Troops May Be Present in Idlib De-escalation Zone

Turkish, Russian Troops May Be Present in Idlib De-escalation Zone

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Sputnik/ Alexei DanichevMOSCOW (Sputnik) – Turkish and Russian servicemen may be present in the de-escalation zone in Syria’s Idlib, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Thursday.
“There is a working group on the Syria de-escalation zones. Last week, [Alexander] Lavrentyev, the envoy of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for Syria, was here. We had detailed negotiations with him,” Kalin said as quoted by the Haberturk channel.

The group is still working on the de-escalation zones map with demarcation lines, the spokesman said.

“A mechanism is being developed within the framework of which our and Russian servicemen could maybe be in Idlib, Russian and Iranian [servicemen] near Damascus, Jordanian and US [servicemen] south of Daraa,” he added.

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AP Photo/ Alexander ZemlianichenkoIbrahim Kalin also said that the Russian side had put forward a proposal to send servicemen from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to de-escalation zones in Syria.
“There was even a proposal from the..

India’s Adani, China’s Easy Hope Group Join Hand to Tap Opportunities

India’s Adani, China’s Easy Hope Group Join Hand to Tap Opportunities

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AFP 2017/ PRAKASH SINGHNew Delhi (Sputnik) — One of the largest private sector companies in China, East Hope Group has entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India's multi-sector conglomerate Adani Group.
They will partner in producing solar power generation equipment, chemicals, aluminum and animal feed in Gujarat's Mundra special economic zone, a statement from the Indian Consulate in Shanghai said.

East Hope group is a CNY 70 billion group having presence in aluminum, polysilicon, power and animal feed, while Adani Group is spread in sectors like ports, power, FMCG, and several other sectors.

Experts are of the view that India and China ties are complex in nature with and to define it as merely based on conflict and cooperation is too simplistic.

“Chinese businesses are very focused and eyeing at large investment opportunities in various sectors in India, especially infrastructure, real estate, high engineering and technology. Chinese investments were close..

High-Profile Bluffing: Why the US Claims It Downed Iranian-Made Drone in Syria

High-Profile Bluffing: Why the US Claims It Downed Iranian-Made Drone in Syria

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Sputnik/ Anton DenisovOn Tuesday, Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement that a US F-15 fighter jet had shot down an Iranian-made Shaheed-129 drone near the Syrian village of al-Tanf after “it was assessed that it posed a threat to the US-led coalition forces.”
“The F-15E intercepted the armed UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] after it was observed advancing on the coalition position. When the armed UAV continued to advance on the coalition position without diverting its course, it was shot down,” the statement said.

The coalition noted the drone showed “hostile intent,” adding that the incident took place in the same location where another pro-Syrian government drone dropped munitions on June 8 targeting the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Iranian journalist and political analyst Emad Abshenas, editor-in-chief of the Iran Press, commented to Sputnik Persian on the incident.

“We have been hearing about this so-called international coalition for the fight against Daesh for many year..

Driverless Trucks Could Be Coming to a Highway Near You Sooner Than You Think

Driverless Trucks Could Be Coming to a Highway Near You Sooner Than You Think

Can #driverless #trucks deliver social gains as well as beer? Read Daniel Veryard's blog: https://t.co/Pzg6WYtgAQ pic.twitter.com/LHPwLtl5nT

— Int. Transport Forum (@ITF_Forum) 21 June 2017

​The Queen's Speech on Wednesday (June 21) made the news more for what was not in it, rather than what was in it, but one of the 27 new pieces of legislation that was mentioned was an Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.

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AFP 2017/ Jane Barlow
The bill would allow driverless vehicles to be covered by insurance, and would also extend the network of electric charging points.

Britain is hoping to be in the forefront of the driverless vehicle industry, but the legislation seems to be stuck in slow-moving traffic.

In May 2016 the government announced a Modern Transport Bill in that year's Queen's Speech, which eventually became known as the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill.

That Bill was slowly crawling through Parliament when Theresa May called a snap general election ..

New US Bill Aims at Boosting Russia Sanctions, Increasing US Military in Europe

New US Bill Aims at Boosting Russia Sanctions, Increasing US Military in Europe

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AP Photo/ Hans PunzWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – A group of 23 US House Armed Services Committee Democrats introduced a bill on Thursday that would impose new sanctions on Russia for violations to the INF Treaty and lay the groundwork for the permanent stationing of troops in Europe.
“Not later than April 1, 2018, the President shall submit to the congressional defense committees a plan to impose sanctions with respect to the Russia Federation by reason of non-compliance by the Russian Federation with the INF Treaty,” the text of the bill stated.

It also reads, “the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the strategy of the Department of Defense maintaining and expanding forward presence of United States military forces and personnel in Europe.”

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Cyprus Has Steady Flow of UK Tourists, Not Worried About Brexit Economic Damage

Cyprus Has Steady Flow of UK Tourists, Not Worried About Brexit Economic Damage

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Sputnik/ Boris BabanovMOSCOW (Sputnik) — Cyprus is not worried about the possible negative impact on Brexit on its economy, as the flow of tourists from the United Kingdom and international business will help Cyprus avoid direct damage, Cypriot Finance Minister Harris Georgiades told Sputnik on Thursday.
“Obviously, the Brexit cannot be considered by us as a positive development, especially for political reasons, but at the same time we are not particularly concerned about a direct negative economic impact. Tourist arrivals from the UK remain strong, and the competitive advantage of Cyprus as an international business centre may even bring opportunities,” Georgiades said, adding the Cyprus respects the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, while still regrets it.

According to the minister, Nicosia supports a new relationship between London and Brussels, which should be “as close as possible.”

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REUTERS/ Peter NichollsThe majority of tourists arriving to Cyp..

Russia’s Gazprom Estimates Investments Into Turkish Stream Pipeline at $6Bln

Russia’s Gazprom Estimates Investments Into Turkish Stream Pipeline at $6Bln

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Photo: turkstream.infoMOSCOW (Sputnik) – The expected amount of investments into the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project is estimated to be around $6 billion, Deputy Chairman of Gazprom's Management Committee Andrey Kruglov said on Thursday.
“The amount of expected investments into the Turkish Stream makes some $6 billion. As for the project financing, we said that such a possibility exists for financing the underwater part of the Turkish Stream. However, we were planning that the Turkish Stream may be realized only at the expense of Gazprom’s funds,” Kruglov said at a press conference.

The executive added that as of now, Gazprom has not held talks on attracting financing for the Turkish Stream pipeline with banks.

Earlier in June, Kruglov said that Gazprom had launched negotiations with Russian and foreign banks on the financing of the Turkish Stream project.

The intergovernmental agreement on the construction of two underwater parts, or legs, of the Turkish Stream gas pipe..

Iraq Tries to Avoid Taking Sides in Persian Gulf Diplomatic Crisis

Iraq Tries to Avoid Taking Sides in Persian Gulf Diplomatic Crisis

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REUTERS/ Kevin LamarqueOn Monday, June 19, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Saudi Arabia on an official visit. The next day, the PM set course for Iran, and once his business in Tehran is concluded he’s expected to visit Kuwait.
Abdel Sattar al-Jamili, secretary general of the At-Talii An-Nasiri political party, told Sputnik Arabic however that al-Abadi’s voyage is not related to the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the region.

“Iraq doesn’t intend to act as an intermediary to help resolve this crisis. The government will assume a neutral stance towards all participants in this tension. It won’t, however, interfere with conducting visits and expressing indirect political support to Saudi Arabia in its row with Qatar,” he said.

The politician explained that at this time Iraq seeks to improve relations with its neighbors in order to secure foreign assistance for postwar reconstruction once the terrorists threatening the country are defeated.

The Iraqi government strives ..

‘Depressing and Fake’: Majority of Brits Don’t Trust News Outlets Post Brexit

‘Depressing and Fake’: Majority of Brits Don’t Trust News Outlets Post Brexit

The Digital News Review study surveyed 70,000 people in 38 countries and found that one in three respondents actively avoided the news, with almost 50 percent claiming that it was too depressing.

Digital News Report 2017 out today – key data on fake news, changing business models and role of platforms https://t.co/ugeXo6KZcx #DNR17

— Reuters Institute (@risj_oxford) June 22, 2017

​In the UK, overall trust in news outlets had dropped by 7 percent post Brexit.

'Increasingly polarised media landscape in the UK' says @nicnewman at the #DNR17 launch in Vienna. Chart below compares with Spain and USA. pic.twitter.com/f0aeLwttyE

— Reuters Institute (@risj_oxford) June 22, 2017

​The reason why many people stopped trusting the media was because both sides of the referendum debate believed that they were fed fake news.

​​Globally, only 24 percent of people think social media does a good job in separating fact from fiction and that figure dropped to 18 percent in the UK. Compared..

US-Led Coalition Conducts 4 Strikes Against Daesh Targets Near Mosul

US-Led Coalition Conducts 4 Strikes Against Daesh Targets Near Mosul

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US Air ForceWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – The US-led coalition against the Daesh terror group (outlawed in Russia) conducted 20 strikes consisting of 112 engagements in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, including four strikes strikes near Mosul.
“Near Mosul, four strikes engaged four Daesh tactical units and a sniper; destroyed 35 fighting positions, 10 medium machine guns, seven rocket-propelled grenade systems, six heavy machine guns, five vehicles,” the release stated on Thursday.

The strikes also hit three vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED), two command and control nodes, a mortar team, and a launch site for drones, while damaging two Daesh supply routes and suppressing a mortar team.

On Wednesday, the Daesh destroyed a historic mosque that stood for more than 800 years in the western section of Mosul. The mosque was the site where the Daesh terrorists’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claimed in July 2014 that he was the caliph, or leader, of all Muslims.

The coalition carrie..

Money for Nothing: Why US Defense Spending Raises Eyebrows

Money for Nothing: Why US Defense Spending Raises Eyebrows

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AP Photo/ Robert F. BukatyNewsweek reported earlier this week that the Pentagon had decided to blow 94 million dollars dressing Afghan cops “in forest camo in a country where forests cover barely 2 percent of the land.”
The magazine quoted the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) as saying that “the Department of Defense's decision to procure ANA uniforms using a proprietary camouflage pattern was not based on an evaluation of its appropriateness for the Afghan environment.”

However, this sum could be considered a footnote when compared to total military spedning: As much as four million dollars an hour has been spent by Washington for over a decade on what the Newsweek described as “the longest war in US history.”

'Golden' Fuel

In May 2017, The Washington Post published documents which revealed that US Defense Department officials had overvalued the estimates, spending surplus money on preparing the Syrian opposition and on the..

Cyprus Hopes EU-Russia Economic Relations, Trade to Be Normalized

Cyprus Hopes EU-Russia Economic Relations, Trade to Be Normalized

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AP Photo/ Geert Vanden WijngaertMOSCOW (Sputnik) — Cyprus hopes that the economic ties between the European Union and Russia will be restored after being damaged by mutual sanctions, Cypriot Finance Minister Harris Georgiades told Sputnik on Thursday.
“Cyprus is a member of the EU and has an obligation to follow and implement common decisions. But we do hope that political developments will be such that will allow for a normalization of economic and trade relations between the EU and Russia,” Georgiades said.

The minister added that the relations between Cyprus and Russia are “excellent” with “equally strong economic ties,” drawing attention to the work of the Russian-Cypriot Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation and the Joint Working Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation within it as examples of successful cooperation in action.

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AP Photo/ Petros KaradjiasIn May, Сypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told Sputnik that the island nation had “excellent and very c..

US Administration May Impose New Sanctions Against Venezuela Within Weeks

US Administration May Impose New Sanctions Against Venezuela Within Weeks

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REUTERS/ StringerWASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Two senior administration officials told the journal that a “steady drumbeat” of sanctions was being planned if Venezuela does not change course in terms of its actions and behavior, the news outlet reported Wednesday. The move may come within weeks, they added.
The punitive measures might be imposed against alleged human rights abusers, officials involved in political prisoners, or those that plan to possibly rewrite Venezuela’s Constitution.

This move would be a departure from the “strategic patience” policy employed by former US President Barack Obama's administration, the officials said referring to the United States’ restrained policy against governments it saw as troublesome during Obama’s presidency.

The United Stated has accused Venezuelan officials of human rights abuses and intimidation of political opponents. It imposed targeted sanctions against Venezuelan officials and entities in May 2014 after the crackdown of mass protes..

Nowhere to Turn: US Threatens War After Running Out of North Korea Sanctions

Nowhere to Turn: US Threatens War After Running Out of North Korea Sanctions

Having imposed as many sanctions as possible on North Korea, the US government has run out of non-military measures and its next move in the conflict could be a declaration of war, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Center for Military and Political Studies Vladimir Batyuk told RIA Novosti.

“As far as sanctions are concerned, it's not possible to toughen them any further. The US doesn't have any trade relations with the country. Any further measures are simply a declaration of war,” Batyuk said.

Relations between the US and North Korea had deteriorated in recent months, as Washington demanded an end to Pyongyang's development of ballistic and nuclear missiles.

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REUTERS/ Kim Hong-JiOn June 2, the UN Security Council expanded targeted sanctions against North Korean companies and individuals after its most recent missile test in May.
Last week, 22-year-old US national Otto Warmbier was returned to the US, in a coma, after spending 17 months in captivit..

US Geological Survey Reports 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake Off Guatemala Coast

US Geological Survey Reports 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake Off Guatemala Coast

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The earthquake was recorded at 6:31 a.m. local time (12:31 p.m. GMT) 38 kilometers (23.6 miles) southwest of the city of Puerto San Jose at a depth of 10 kilometers, according to the USGS.

No tsunami is expected after the earthquake, the US National Tsunami Warning Center said.

The powerful quake was felt in El Salvador, according to media reports. There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.

Five people were killed on June 14 when a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck western Guatemala near the Mexican border.

UN Adopts Russia-Proposed Resolution Honoring Declaration of Human Rights

UN Adopts Russia-Proposed Resolution Honoring Declaration of Human Rights

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Flickr/ Jeremy SchultzGENEVA (Sputnik) – The document was prepared during the 35th session of the UNHRC that started in Geneva on June 6 and will continue until Friday. At least 121 countries, including 35 UNHRC member states, have become co-authors of the resolution. However, more states could join the process by July 10.
Speaking at the presentation of the resolution, Anatoly Viktorov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights, said that the promotion of the human rights embodied in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action would be effective if it is implemented within the framework of equal and constructive talks between countries.

Adopted on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is meant to secure liberty and justice for all people. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights on June..

Polish Lower House Adopts Legislation on Demolition of 500 Soviet Monuments

Polish Lower House Adopts Legislation on Demolition of 500 Soviet Monuments

WARSAW (Sputnik) — The Sejm, or lower house of Poland's parliament, adopted amendments to the so-called de-communization law stipulating the demolition of almost 500 Soviet-era monuments in the country, a Sputnik correspondent reported Thursday.

Under the new amendments, the monuments and memorial stones considered to be “glorifying communism” are subject to demolition. According to the official data of Polish provincial authorities, there are around 490 such monuments in the country.

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Wikipedia/ sfuThe monuments are expected to be destroyed following consultations with Poland's Institute of National Remembrance, the correspondent said. In late March, Polish media reported that the institute's head, Lukasz Kaminski, announced the plan to demolish all Soviet-era monuments except for those erected on cemeteries of war graves.
The “de-communization” law was signed by President of Poland Andrzej Duda in May 2016. The legislation prohibits the use of the names that honor..

American Airlines Says Qatar Airways Interested in Purchasing 10% Stake

American Airlines Says Qatar Airways Interested in Purchasing 10% Stake

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Photo: Joe Mabel WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US-based carrier American Airlines said in a regulatory filing on Thursday it received an unsolicited notice from Qatar Airways expressing its intention to make a significant investment worth 10 percent of the US company’s holdings.
“The notice advised that Qatar Airways intends to purchase at least $808 million and, in a conversation between the CEOs of the two companies…Qatar Airways indicated that it has an interest in acquiring approximately a ten percent stake,” the Securities and Exchange Commission filing stated.

The carrier said Qatar Airways showed interest in purchasing publicly traded American Airlines stock on the open market.

American noted that the proposed investment would not change its company structure or alter its “conviction on the need to enforce the Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and the nation of Qatar.”

In February, the CEOs of American, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines wrote to US Secretary o..

Norway Risks Losing Firepower in Shakeup of ‘Irrelevant’ Armed Forces

Norway Risks Losing Firepower in Shakeup of ‘Irrelevant’ Armed Forces

CC BY 2.0 / Minnesota National Guard / 170211-Z-CQ961-124According to a recent proposal by the Land Power Committee, which has been tasked with working out viable solutions for the Norwegian Army and the Home Guard, a number of personnel cuts are in store for Norway. In order to free up resources for the purchase of new equipment, 350 professional soldiers might be sacked.
However, this measure is expected to undermine Telemark Battalion, the Army's only wholly professional unit, which was created in the 1990s as Norway's contribution to NATO. Following the cuts, half of Telemark Battalion's standing force will be replaced with reservists. Since the 1990's, the battalion has participated in a number of international operations.

Heder til norske soldater som har tjenestegjort i Erbil og Mali. https://t.co/3IIb2Qoo8b pic.twitter.com/7XjynsF7Ki

— Forsvaret (@Forsvaret_no) June 16, 2017

​Lieutenant Colonel Ole Johan Skogmo ventured that the proposed cuts will destabi..

UK to Review Handling of Recent Terror Attacks in Country – Home Secretary

UK to Review Handling of Recent Terror Attacks in Country – Home Secretary

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REUTERS/ Marko DjuricaMOSCOW (Sputnik) – The move comes after two terror incidents hit London just this month. On June 3, three terrorists drove a van across London Bridge, running pedestrians over on its way and consequently leaving eight dead and 48 wounded. A similar attack happened on June 19, when a vehicle crashed into people leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque, injuring 11.
“There will be a review of the handling of recent terror attacks to look where the lessons can be learned about our approach,” Rudd said speaking at the House of Commons.

After the Finsbury Park incident, UK Prime Minister Theresa May promised that extra police would be sent to protect mosques until the end of Ramadan, the month-long Muslim fasting period.

The United Kingdom has also faced two other deadly terror attacks in 2017, namely an attack on Westminster Bridge and the Parliament grounds in London in March, and a bombing during a pop concert at Manchester Area in May.

Pentagon to Return US Arms Supplied to Kurds After ‘Victory Over Daesh’

Pentagon to Return US Arms Supplied to Kurds After ‘Victory Over Daesh’

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REUTERS/ Mahmoud HebboANKARA (Sputnik) — The US Department of Defense has pledged to Turkey that it will provide a list of weapons it supplied to the Kurds and will secure their return after “victory” over terrorists in Syria, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said in a statement obtained by Sputnik on Thursday.
“In a letter to Turkey's National Defense Minister Fikri Isik, the head of the Pentagon, James Mattis, announced his intention to provide Turkey with a list of arms supplied to the Kurdish YPG [People's Protection Units] formations,” the ministry said.

It added that Mattis vowed “that the weapons will be returned after the victory over the Islamic State [Daesh] militants.”

“Mattis said that US advisers are taking the necessary measures to prevent the export of weapons outside Syria,” the Turkish ministry said.

On May 9, the Pentagon announced that President Donald Trump had approved a plan to arm Kurdish YPG in order to better fight against terrorism in Syri..

It’s ‘Highly Likely’ Daesh Leader Has Been Eliminated – Russian Foreign Ministry

It’s ‘Highly Likely’ Daesh Leader Has Been Eliminated – Russian Foreign Ministry

“According to the Russian Defense Ministry, it is highly likely that Daesh leader al-Baghdadi was eliminated as a result of a Russian Aerospace Forces strike on the terrorists' command post in the southern suburb of the city of Raqqa in late May this year,” Syromolotov said.

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Sputnik/ Iliya PitalevHe stressed that the “information is now verified through various channels.”
On June 16, the Russian Defense Ministry said that al-Baghdadi might have been among a group of terrorist leaders attending a so-called Daesh military council and killed in a Russian Aerospace Forces strike on May 28 south of the terrorists' stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, commenting on the news, said he could not give firm proof that the IS leader was indeed killed.

In 2014, al-Baghdadi, an Islamic cleric and at the time the leader of Daesh of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, or IS terrorist group), declared establishment of an Islamic caliphate and named himself ..

German SPD Condemns ‘Dangerous’ US Nord Stream 2 Sanctions ‘Directed at Germany’

German SPD Condemns ‘Dangerous’ US Nord Stream 2 Sanctions ‘Directed at Germany’

Leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD) Martin Schulz has criticized the latest US sanctions against Russia and called on Angela Merkel to oppose them.

“We have seen that the US is pursuing a course in energy policy that is dangerous and is directed against Germany,” Schulz told the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI).

“Our energy supply also depends on constructive cooperation with Russia,” he said, and called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the issue with President Trump at next month's G20 summit in Hamburg.

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REUTERS/ Joe Skipper”We have the right to defend the industrial interests of the Federal Republic of Germany and Europe,” Schulz said.
Last week, the US Senate approved a new package of anti-Russian sanctions. These were imposed in retaliation at alleged meddling in last year's US election as well as Russia's support for the Syrian government. The sanctions include a clause that aims to stop Europe's Nord Stream 2 ..

Paris Regrets Attack on Russia’s Rosoboronexport Delegate at Paris Air Show

Paris Regrets Attack on Russia’s Rosoboronexport Delegate at Paris Air Show

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AP Photo/ Michel EulerPARIS (Sputnik) – Sergey Kornev, Rosoboronexport's chief delegate, was en route from the air show late on Tuesday when his vehicle came under attack in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said Wednesday that Kornev was slightly injured but did not require hospitalization.
“We regret this incident into which an investigation was launched straight away. We shall inform the Russian authorities of its results,” Giorgini told a briefing.

Hasta La Vista Mexico, Ni Hao China! Ford Relocates Focus Production

Hasta La Vista Mexico, Ni Hao China! Ford Relocates Focus Production

Jo Hinrich, president of global operations for Ford Motor Co has confirmed that the car's production will be moving to Chongqing in China.

“Consumers care a lot more about the quality and the value than they do about the sourcing location. iPhones are produced in China and people don't really talk about it,” Hinrichs said.

Ford said last week that it will expand in Michigan and U.S. instead of building a BILLION dollar plant in Mexico. Thank you Ford & Fiat C!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 9 January 2017

​However, experts have said it is not that simple. Apple Inc have always manufactured their product in China, but Ford has never before made any of its vehicles there for a US market.

Experts believe that this is a risk, as the vehicle's name has always been associated with a US market.

Such as Ford's plans to produce cars in China? Yeah, YOU told us YOU were winning when YOU made sure Ford plant didn't move to Mexico#SAD

— Sparky (@sparkman52) 2..

Safe Zones May Contribute to Damascus, Opposition Anti-Terror Fight – Lavrov

Safe Zones May Contribute to Damascus, Opposition Anti-Terror Fight – Lavrov

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REUTERS/ Omar SanadikiMOSCOW (Sputnik) — The minister noted that the influence of those in favor of an intra-Syrian dialogue was growing, adding that Russia was supporting these aspirations by intensifying the Astana talks on Syrian settlement and backing the UN-led efforts in Geneva.
“Establishment of the intra-Syrian dialogue, securing the ceasefire regime, creating de-escalation zones, as it was proposed in the framework of the Astana process, establishing peaceful life – all this will allow transition from confrontation between governmental, pro-governmental forces and armed opposition to cooperation between them, including in a fight against terrorism,” Lavrov said during a meeting with head of the Syria’s Tomorrow opposition group Ahmad Jarba.

During the fourth round of the talks on Syrian reconciliation, held in the Kazakh capital of Astana on May 3-4, Iran, Russia and Turkey, the three ceasefire guarantor states, signed a memorandum on the establishment of four de-escalatio..

Companies From China, Japan, Confirm Participation in East Russia Oil, Gas Forum

Companies From China, Japan, Confirm Participation in East Russia Oil, Gas Forum

CC0 / / MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Representatives of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai commercial and petrochemical corporations confirmed their participation in the East Russia Oil and Gas Forum, set to take place in the Russian city of Vladivostok between July 5-6, the forum's organizers told Sputnik Thursday.
“The delegations from such companies as Itochu Corporation (Japan), Marubeni Corporation (Japan), SCG Chemicals (Thailand), Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and Qingdao Lianao International Trade Co (China) will take part in the talks within the framework of the upcoming East Russia Oil and Gas Forum,” Inessa Shahnazarova, the forum producer, said.

The forum will be held in the Far East Federal University, located at the Russky Isle, Vladivostok. It will be devoted to oil and gas projects in the Russian regions of Irkutsk and Yakutia, offshore gas and oil exploration, and the Power of Siberia pipeline project, designed to transfer fuel from Russia’s Irkutsk Regi..

Saudi Arabia’s New Heir: What Should Moscow Expect From the ‘Saudi Trump’?

Saudi Arabia’s New Heir: What Should Moscow Expect From the ‘Saudi Trump’?

On Wednesday, June 21, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud decreed that his own son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, would ascend the throne when he dies, instead of the previous heir, the King's nephew, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

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REUTERS/ Fayez Nureldine Saudi Crown Prince and Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz arrives to attend a graduation ceremony of members of Saudi Special Forces in the capital Riyadh, on May 19, 2015.
Most monarchies in the Western world choose heirs by absolute primogeniture, whereby the eldest son or daughter becomes the next in line to succession, followed by their eldest son or daughter, or their brothers and sisters. In Spain, males are given priority, while other European countries have eliminated this bias.

But in Saudi Arabia the choice of heir is often passed down through a more opaque and complex system.

Political scientist and RIA Novosti contributor Gevorg Mirzayan, associate professor at the Depa..

Theresa May Makes Donald Trump Wait on State Visit as She Struggles to Cope

Theresa May Makes Donald Trump Wait on State Visit as She Struggles to Cope

Donald Trump's state visit to UK on the backburner after being left out of the Queen's Speech. Here's a reminder how quickly it was offered pic.twitter.com/f2hKh7aLjG

— Richard Woodward (@WoodwardRJ) 21 June 2017

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REUTERS/ Carl Court​On Wednesday (June 21) the Prime Minister omitted several controversial manifesto promises — including removing the ban on fox hunting and introducing new grammar schools — from the Queen's Speech, which outlines what plans the British government has for the forthcoming year.
After the election Downing Street played down speculation that an invitation to Mr. Trump had been withdrawn in the light of recent events.

Fresh rumors abounded on Wednesday because there was no mention made of a state visit from the US President while there was mention of a state visit to London next month by Spain's King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Letizia.

“An invitation has been extended to the President and has been accepted. A date has not been..

EU Parliament Wants Role in Nord Stream 2 Project Decisions – Committee Chair

EU Parliament Wants Role in Nord Stream 2 Project Decisions – Committee Chair

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Sputnik/ Sergey GuneevBRUSSELS (Sputnik) — He noted “it is quite visible no political support” was displayed after three to four public meetings with the Nord Stream 2 consortium.
“[There] is a still existing discussion on the topic and the European Parliament would like to be very much involved in all the decisions which are connected to the Nord Stream 2,” Buzek said at a briefing on Ukraine's partnership with the EU.

“We should be also consistent as the European Union, so there is no support for such a project like Nord Stream 2 in the European Parliament,” Buzek said.

European Space Agency Given the Go-Ahead to Hunt for Aliens

European Space Agency Given the Go-Ahead to Hunt for Aliens

It was previously selected in 2014 as part of the ESA's Cosmic Vision Programme, but the launch date has been pushed out two years from 2024 to 2026.

The ultimate aim of the mission will be to detect Earth-size planets or super Earths orbiting around stars in the habitable zone, this is an area with conditions that might support liquid water and an atmosphere.

Gravitational wave detection mission LISA selected, exoplanet hunting mission PLATO moves forward. Full story: https://t.co/OcMbnXEiEm pic.twitter.com/OuZ5GJx64Y

— ESA Science (@esascience) June 20, 2017​

​The project is being led by Professor Don Pollacco, an astrophysicists from the University of Warwick in the UK.

“The launch of PLATO will give us the opportunity to contribute to some of the biggest discoveries of the next decade answering fundamental questions about our existence, and could eventually lead to the detection of extra-terrestrial life,” Professor Pollacco said in a recent interview.

Europe's @esa..

WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Tools Targeting Air-Gapped Devices, Closed Networks

WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Tools Targeting Air-Gapped Devices, Closed Networks

WikiLeaks have released details on CIA programs called 'Brutal Kangaroo' and 'Emotional Simian', which allow the intelligence agency to access closed networks or a singe air-gapped device.

RELEASE: CIA 'Brutal Kangaroo' and 'Emotional Simian' USB air gap jumping viruses https://t.co/dHDfcHQWIv pic.twitter.com/xU6e3ucPB6

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 22, 2017

​The operation involves first infecting one computer, which is referred to as a “primary host”, on which the malware is installed. Then, whenever someone uses a USB flash drive, it in turn becomes the malware carrier, which it spreads onto any other device it is being used on. Once the CIA has control of a number of devices, it creates a so-called 'covert network' that allows for larger data exchange.

RELEASE: CIA air-gap jumping virus 'Emotional Simian' https://t.co/KkBnXhNtGC pic.twitter.com/w6MZFGushc

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 22, 2017

Almost 80% of South Koreans Support Idea to Resume Dialogue With North – Poll

Almost 80% of South Koreans Support Idea to Resume Dialogue With North – Poll

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Sputnik/ Iliya PitalevTOKYO (Sputnik) – Earlier in the week, new South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed hope that he would be able to hold a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of 2017.
The National Unification Advisory Council's survey revealed, according to the Yonhap news agency, that 76.9 percent of respondents believe that the dialogue should be resumed, while 22 percent said that they disagree with such prospects.

The survey added that 48.1 percent of South Koreans expect that relations between the two countries would improve under the administration of Moon.

According to the poll, about 60 percent of respondents think that within the framework of the unification policy, South Korea should pay special attention to the denuclearization of the North, while 25 percent of respondents think that Seoul should exert more efforts to improve the situation concerning human rights in the neighboring country.

The pollster surveyed 1,000 South Korean adult..

Tokyo, Seoul to Open Hotline Between Defense Ministers Amid Pyongyang’s Threats

Tokyo, Seoul to Open Hotline Between Defense Ministers Amid Pyongyang’s Threats

TOKYO (Sputnik) — Japan and South Korea will establish a hotline between the defense ministers of their two countries in order to enhance cooperation amid the nuclear and missile activities of North Korea, local media reported Thursday.

According to the Nikkei newspaper, there is still no date when the communication channel between the ministers will be officially opened. At the moment, there is only a hotline between the deputy defense ministers of the two countries.

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AP Photo/ Shizuo KambayashiThe media outlet added that the date of the hotline establishment could be settled after a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and that this could take place at the July G20 summit in Germany.
Tensions around the Korean Peninsula have recently escalated as Pyongyang has carried out a number of ballistic missile and nuclear tests in violation of the UN Security Council's resolutions. The international community, including both Japa..

WikiLeaks Releases Files on CIA Spying Tool Targeting Closed Networks

WikiLeaks Releases Files on CIA Spying Tool Targeting Closed Networks

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Sputnik/ Iliya PitalevMOSCOW (Sputnik) – The WikiLeaks whistleblowing on Thursday website released a new batch of CIA documents from the so-called Vault 7 project dedicated to the hacking tool allegedly used by the US intelligence service to get access to air-gapped networks and computers.
“Today, June 22nd 2017, WikiLeaks publishes documents from the Brutal Kangaroo project of the CIA. Brutal Kangaroo is a tool suite for Microsoft Windows that targets closed networks by air gap jumping using thumbdrives. Brutal Kangaroo components create a custom covert network within the target closed network and providing functionality for executing surveys, directory listings, and arbitrary executables,” WikiLeaks said in a press release.

According to the press release, the Brutal Kangaroo tool is used to infiltrate a computer connected to Internet and then infect thumbdrives that could further infect computers of a closed network by separate malware.

The press release added that the spyware&#..

EU Council President Tusk Says ‘Dreams’ About UK Staying in EU

EU Council President Tusk Says ‘Dreams’ About UK Staying in EU

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REUTERS/ Chris JacksonBRUSSELS (Sputnik) — President of the European Council Donald Tusk said Thursday that he dreamed about the reversal of the process of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, so that the country could remain in the alliance.
“Some of my British friends have even asked me if Brexit can be reversed and if there is an outcome where Britain could stay in the EU. I told them the European Union was built on dreams that seemed impossible to achieve. Who knows, you can say that I am a dreamer but I am not the only one,” Tusk told the reporters ahead of the two-day meetings of the heads of European states.

The summit of the EU leaders is scheduled to take place from Thursday-Friday in Brussels. The meeting will focus on such issues as international security and defense, immigration, the EU single market, as well as Brexit. The summit takes place two days after the official start of the Brexit talks, which are due to be completed by March 30, 2019.
..

Who’s Next? More & More Europeans Think Another EUexit Possible Thanks to Brexit

Who’s Next? More & More Europeans Think Another EUexit Possible Thanks to Brexit

Friday will mark the one year anniversary of the Brexit referendum. In time for the anniversary, Sputnik commissioned a leading French polling and market research firm to find out Europeans' views on the prospects for another EUexit.

Polling found that 64% of Britons believe that one or more countries could follow in the UK's footsteps and leave the EU. 57% of Italians, 52% of Germans and 49% of the French think the same.

18% of Britons, 32% of Italians, 33% of the French and 39% of Germans are convinced the UK will end up being the only country to leave.

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Sputnik/ In Britain's Footsteps: How many countries may leave the EU?

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AFP 2017/ LOUISA GOULIAMAKIIn Germany, France and Italy, young people aged 18-35 were more certain about the prospect of more countries leaving the bloc than people aged 65 years and over. In the UK, the reverse was true.
Conducting their poll between April 21-25, 2017, IFOP polled 3,203 respondents aged 18 and over. The poll's margin..

Sweden Startled by Hundreds of Gangs Lurking in ‘No-Go Zones’ It Denies

Sweden Startled by Hundreds of Gangs Lurking in ‘No-Go Zones’ It Denies

CC0 / / The report indicated a deteriorating situation, since the number of blighted areas has increased since 2015, when the last report of this type was compiled. The new report listed a total of 61 blighted areas, of which 23 were considered especially vulnerable.
Prior to the presentation of the report, national police chiefs Dan Eliasson and Mats Löfving revealed that around 5,000 criminals and 200 criminal networks were roaming these 61 vulnerable areas, with the number lawbreakers threatening to increase further. Linda Staaf, the head of the police intelligence department (NOA), ventured that the threshold for using violence was now lower than ever before.

“Earlier they shot in the leg to scare, now they shoot in the head to kill,” Linda Staaf said, as quoted by the newspaper Göteborgs-Posten.

Several explanations were provided for the increase. While the situation has indeed deteriorated in some areas, the police have refined their data collection methods and now possess a be..

Tehran to Release Evidence of US Backing of Daesh Terrorists – Iranian Official

Tehran to Release Evidence of US Backing of Daesh Terrorists – Iranian Official

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REUTERS/ Muhammad HamedMOSCOW (Sputnik) — On June 11, the Iranian military announced that they had evidence of direct US support of Daesh militants.
“These documents are planned to be released. It is necessary to mention that these documents are not written texts or some kind of contracts that could be published in a written form. This evidence is related to the aspects of battle actions. This means that the evidence show, in which locations [the United States] provided assistance to the IS. Weapons, supplies, logistical and medical assistance — all these point at this support,” Hamid Reza Moghadam Far said.

The official added that Washington itself had also contributed to the creation of Daesh.

“The fact that the United States is behind the creation of the IS is more important. They cannot conceal this fact. But even today, when they state that 'we have made a mistake, creating this organization, and want to destroy it now,' they are still telling lies and it could be p..

Envoys Celebrate Third International Yoga Day in New Delhi

Envoys Celebrate Third International Yoga Day in New Delhi

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The acting dean of the diplomatic corps, ambassadors and high commissioners of several countries practised yogic asanas and pranayama on the occasion.

Twist, Turn & Shanti
A small glimpse from today's event to mark #IDY2017 pic.twitter.com/uvBOvs7Xvm

— Gopal Baglay (@MEAIndia) 21 июня 2017 г.

​​Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also attended yoga celebrations and stressed that yoga belongs not merely to India, but to the whole world and is a complete system for well-being and harmony within ourselves, as well as with nature and the world.

In EAM @SushmaSwaraj 's words, “yoga belongs not merely to India, but to the whole world.” pic.twitter.com/loymeNbpkn

— Gopal Baglay (@MEAIndia) 21 июня 2017 г.

​On the occasion of the International Day of Yoga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in a mass yoga event in Lucknow, the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing the gathering, Modi said yoga has become a part of many..

Authorities of Belgian City of Antwerp Say Over 550 Residents Radicalized

Authorities of Belgian City of Antwerp Say Over 550 Residents Radicalized

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AP Photo/ BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – The authorities of the second largest Belgian city, Antwerp, monitor activities of over 550 people who are subjected to Islamic radicalization and potentially ready to commit acts of violence, Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever said Thursday.
“In Antwerp we actively control 557 people,” De Wever said on-air of the Een broadcaster, adding that 189 people were considered to be “really dangerous.”

In April, local media reported, citing the figures of the Interior Ministry, that nearly 19,000 people were on Belgium's authorities' terror suspect list, up tenfold compared to 2010. Over 2,200 of those people were considered to be radicalized substantially enough to conduct terrorist attacks.

The most recent attack took place on Tuesday, when a blast hit a Brussels train station. The suspect who carried out a small explosion was subsequently killed by security forces. On Wednesday, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said the attacker had a powerful expl..

Kenneth Juster to be New US Ambassador to India

Kenneth Juster to be New US Ambassador to India

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Just ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to the US, the Trump administration will appoint Kenneth Juster as the new ambassador to India.

Juster is currently the Deputy Assistant to the US President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director of National Economic Council.

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Sputnik/ Vladimir AstapkovichKenneth Juster has been a votary of US-India relations. He had served as Deputy Secretary of Commerce in President George W. Bush's administration. He was the co-chair of the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group during Bush administration.
Juster was involved in negotiations for the India-US civil nuclear deal during the Bush regime.

“Kenneth Juster's choice as the next US ambassador to India is a welcome step. He is an old India supporter and has fairly good knowledge of US-India trade. Therefore, the message is clear that US President Donald Trump wants to have closer trade ties with India apart from st..

Gazprom Plans $14 Bln 2018-19 Investment Program – Executive

Gazprom Plans $14 Bln 2018-19 Investment Program – Executive

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Sputnik/ Aleksey NikolskyiMOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia's Gazprom energy company plans to invest 850 billion rubles ($14.1 billion) in total annually in 2018-2019, financial and economic policy department head Alexander Ivannikov said Thursday.
“We have a total figure for the 2018-2019 investment program in forming the three-year plan, so the figure of 850 billion [rubles] is without breakdown,” Ivannikov told reporters.

Gazprom later clarified to Sputnik that the $14.1 billion figure refers to the average annual investment under the investment program in 2018 and 2019.

Gazprom Plans $14 Bln 2018-19 Investment in Power of Siberia Pipeline Building

Gazprom Plans $14 Bln 2018-19 Investment in Power of Siberia Pipeline Building

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Sputnik/ Aleksey NikolskyiMOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia's Gazprom energy company plans to invest 850 billion rubles ($14.1 billion) in total into the Power of Siberia pipeline construction in 2018-2019, financial and economic policy department head Alexander Ivannikov said Thursday.
“We have a total figure for the 2018-2019 investment program, so the figure of 850 billion [rubles] is without breakdown,” Ivannikov told reporters

The Power of Siberia is a 3,000 kilometer (1,864 mile) pipeline designed to transfer gas from production centers in Russia’s Irkutsk Region and Sakha Republic to consumers living in the Russian Far East and China.

Turks May Embrace Assad After US Downing of Syrian Aircraft

Turks May Embrace Assad After US Downing of Syrian Aircraft

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Sputnik/ Iliya PitalevLast Sunday, the US-led coalition said that it shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber in Raqqa province after the warplane allegedly attacked positions held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Damascus, for its part, said that the Syrian aircraft was targeting the internationally-condemned terrorist group Daesh (ISIL/ISIS).

On Tuesday, the US-led coalition downed a Syrian drone near al-Tanf, explaining that it showed “hostile intent” while advancing toward coalition positions.

The incident, it claimed, took place in the same location where another pro-Syrian government drone had dropped munitions on June 8, targeting the SDF.

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REUTERS/ Goran TomasevicA Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG) looks at a smoke after an coalition airstrike in Raqqa, Syria June 16, 2017
Having shot down the Syrian warplane, the US warned Turkey that any actions against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) “will not remain unanswered,” Tu..

Not OK in My Book! EU Migrants, Roma Blacklisted in Swedish Library

Not OK in My Book! EU Migrants, Roma Blacklisted in Swedish Library

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AP Photo/ Vadim GhirdaLast week, the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter revealed that Karlstad City Library had put together a blacklist of migrants and Roma. The newspaper claimed the list to be used for liming the lending of books, movies and music, despite the fact that Swedish law clearly states that everyone is entitled to access to the library services.
According to Dagens Nyheter, library cards issued to EU migrants without a permanent home address in Sweden were coded in a way to specifically prevent the use of the library's core facilities, such as the lending of books, movies and music. Instead, the restricted card holders could only make use of the library's computers and take advantage of the on-site offerings. All in all, the blacklist reportedly featured 120 persons “with Romanian or Roma-sounding names.”

The new library law, which was updated in 2014, stipulates that library services should be made available to everyone, as opposed to “all citizens,” as stated be..

At Least 15 Killed in Southern Afghanistan Car Bomb Blast

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The TOLOnews broadcaster, after citing the spokesman for the provincial governor Omar Zwak in providing the figure, later cited a security source as saying the death toll has risen to least 24 people killed.

The official said nearly 60 others were wounded in the attack near the New Kabul Bank branch in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province.

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