Pro-Russian group claims responsibility for Merkel website hack


The Internet attack occurred just prior to a visit to Germany by the Ukrainian prime minister.


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Afghanistan: US should ‘re-examine’ withdrawing from country (+video)


Just days after US-led forces officially ended combat operations in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani said there’s more work to be done and there should be a willingness to reconsider withdrawal deadlines. 


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Hammer and Anvil


How to Defeat ISIS
January 2, 2015
Robert A. Pape, Keven Ruby, and Vincent Bauer
Summary: 

The ongoing U.S. air campaign against ISIS succeeded in blunting the group’s drive toward Kurdish and Shia territory. But it has failed to prevent ISIS’ consolidation of control over the Sunni areas in Iraq and Syria. Here’s how the United States can accomplish both.

At the top of U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s agenda for 2015 is stopping the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Many critics assert that the current policy of limited air strikes is insufficient to defeat or seriously weaken ISIS and have offered radical alternatives. However, these “cures” are far worse than the disease. The best plan is to aggressively move forward within the broad parameters of the current strategy, building on its successes and vastly diminishing ISIS’ power and influence by the time U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office in two years. 


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U.S. Vice President Hails “New Beginning” with Brazil


U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met on Thursday with Brazilian head of state Dilma Rousseff after she was sworn-in for a second term.


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Putin’s New Year’s message praises Crimea’s ‘return home’ (+video)


Putin: The new year ‘will turn out the way we make it,’ said the Russian president in his New Year’s message.


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From Putin to the pope: Europe’s year in review


2015 is likely to have more in common with 2014 than Europeans may want, with tensions over Ukraine, sanctions, and worries about Islamic extremism in little danger of dissipating.


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UN rejects Palestinian resolution on Israeli withdrawal timeline


The United Nations Security Council Tuesday rejected a Palestinian resolution demanding Israel withdraw from disputed territories within three years. The motion fell one short of the minimum nine “yes” votes in the Security Council. It received eight “yes” votes, two “no” votes and five abstentions: The US and Australia voted against; Russia, China, France, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg voted in favor; and the UK, Lithuania Nigeria, South Korea and Rwanda abstained.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, reiterated its opposition to the draft resolution as counter-productive to the peace process earlier Tuesday. It had insisted on a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, not an imposed timetable.

The document called for Israel to fully withdraw from all “occupied Palestinian territories” by the end of 2017 and for a comprehensive peace deal to be reached within a year. It also called for new negotiations to take place based on territorial lines that existed prior to the 1967 war in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip..

The resolution was submitted by Jordan after its endorsement by 22 Arab states and the Palestinian Authority.


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The Cuban Knot


The Vatican’s Strategy in Havana
December 30, 2014
Victor Gaetan
Summary: 

The United States and Cuba could not have restored diplomatic ties without the Catholic Church. But the church could be the negotiations’ biggest loser: many Catholics resent its intervention.

The restoration of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic ties in mid-December demonstrated the geopolitical relevance of religious institutions. The deal would not have happened without the Catholic Church and Jewish organizations. Jewish groups made Alan Gross, the prisoner at the heart of the reversal, impossible to ignore; and then the Catholic hierarchy provided the trust required to move the negotiations beyond stalemate. U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will surely benefit from the thaw in different ways, but anti-Castro Catholics resent the Church’s involvement.


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US rejects Palestinian UN motion as not constructive


Washington Monday rejected the Palestinian UN move as an attempt to “circumvent peace talks with Israel for statehood” and “not constructive.” State Department spokesman Jeft Rathke told reporters: “We think it sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion.” He added: “The resolution fails to account for Israel’s legitimate security needs, and the satisfaction of those needs is, of course, integral to a sustainable settlement.”

 


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Palestine pushes for UN resolution to end Israeli occupation


The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote this week on a resolution that would end Israel’s 47-year occupation of Palestine within three years. The current draft of the resolution, which the US has the power to veto, is not expected to pass.


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