‘The Russians are going to have a cow’: The US’ latest message to Putin ‘is a really big deal’

Carolyn Kaster/AP

BUSINESS INSIDER

The US will devote a substantial portion of its defence spending to building up its military presence in Eastern Europe in an effort to deter Russian aggression in the region, Obama administration officials told The New York Times.

Countries belonging to the NATO alliance in central and Eastern Europe will apparently receive heavy weaponry, tanks, and other equipment from the US, which quadrupled its budget from $789 million to more than $3.4 billion for military spending in Europe through 2017.

“This is a really big deal, and the Russians are going to have a cow,” Evelyn N. Farkas, the Pentagon’s top policy official on Russia and Ukraine until October, told The Times on Tuesday. “It’s a huge sign of commitment to deterring Russia, and to strengthening our alliance and our partnership with countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.”

The move comes four months after Russia launched an air campaign in Syria to prop up embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a move widely seen as an attempt by Russian president Vladimir Putin to secure and expand Russia’s influence in the Middle East.

Russia’s presence in Syria, however, has “undermined” virtually everything the West is trying to accomplish in Syria and beyond, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in an interview with Reuters from a refugee camp in Jordan on Monday.

That includes the US’ attempts to bolster “moderate” Syrian rebel groups — who have been targeted by Russian airstrikes — and the US-led anti-ISIS coalition’s attempts to wipe out the Islamic State in Syria (who have largely been spared the brunt of Russia’s punishing air campaign.)

As such, the new funding being allocated to fortify Eastern Europe against Russian aggression “is not a response to something that happened last Tuesday,” a senior administration official told the New York Times.

“This is a longer-term response to a changed security environment in Europe. This reflects a new situation, where Russia has become a more difficult actor,” the official added.

Russia is unlikely to react kindly to an expanded NATO military presence along its western flank. In an interview with the German daily newspaper BILD in January, Putin asserted that Russia’s tensions with the West largely resulted from NATO’s eastward expansion after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Of course every state has the right to organise its security the way it deems appropriate. But the states that were already in NATO, the member states, could also have followed their own interests — and abstained from an expansion to the east.”

He added: “NATO and the USA wanted a complete victory over the Soviet Union. They wanted to sit on the throne in Europe alone.”

Incidentally, Russia is now trying to dethrone NATO and position itself as an alternative to US influence in the Middle East, as evidenced by its alliance with Iran, Syria, and Iraq — under the guise of fighting ISIS.

“Russia is of course trying to leverage the entire intervention [in Syria]as a way to lap up as much real estate in the Middle East as possible,”Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies, told Business Insider in September.”It’s classic Putin.”

In pushing himself to the forefront of an “anti-ISIS coalition” and creating a distraction from Ukraine, Putin has tried to coerce the US into accepting — and potentially embracing — Russia’s role in the conflict.

But Obama’s new funding plan to bolster NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe shows that his administration is trying to put a damper on Putin’s plans to dislodge the West from the Middle East entirely by re-asserting the US’ role in the region.

From The Times:

Administration officials said the new investments were not just about deterring Russia. The weapons and equipment could also be deployed along NATO’s southern flank, where they could help in the fight against the Islamic State or in dealing with the influx of migrants from Syria.

Another anonymous administration official speaking to The Times put it bluntly: “This is a message that we see what they’re capable of, and what their political leadership is willing to do.”

NATASHA BERTRAND

 

Putin Says Russia Ready to Cooperate With U.S. Coalition on ISIS

Russian President Vladimir Putin Meets French President Francois Hollande

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – NOVEMBER,26: Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and French President Francois Hollande (L) attend a joint press conference in the Kremlin on November 26, 2015 in Moscow, Russia. Hollande is having a one-day trip to Moscow. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

TIME

The announcement came after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande

(BEIRUT) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia is ready to cooperate with the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

Putin said after talks with French President Francois Hollande that Russia is open to closer cooperation with both France and the U.S.-led coalition on selecting IS targets.

At the same time, he lashed out at the U.S. over the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey, saying the U.S. should have prevented its coalition ally Turkey from making such a move.

He said that Russia will hold “serious consultations” with the U.S. over the incident.

Associated Press

Putin Promises Increased Syrian Airstrikes After Confirming Bomb Destroyed Passenger Plane

MEDIAITE

Vladimir PutinThe Kremlin officially confirmed today that the passenger plane that crashed over Egypt weeks ago was brought down by a bomb, and that Vladimir Putin will pursue revenge against those responsible.

In the wake of the crash that left 224 dead in the Sinai Peninsula, U.S. and foreign investigators have been taking action based on intelligence reports that strongly suggest a bomb was planted on the plane. Security chief Alexander V. Bortnikov spoke at a late-night meeting of Russia’s security council, according to the New York Times, and gave the first definitive confirmation that the country was recognizing the act as terrorism.

While the Russian government previously called for letting international investigations run their course, Bortnikov concluded that explosive materials were smuggled on board and Putin would take action against those responsible. While it is still inconclusive as to whether this was the work of ISIS, as its affiliates have claimed previously, the Kremlin said the group has exported terrorism to other countries and that there would be an increase of airstrikes in Syria.

“We will search for them everywhere, no matter where they are hiding,” Putin said. “Our military work in Syria must not only be continued, but strengthened so that criminals understand that punishment is inevitable.”

This marks an increase of activity against ISIS in Syria, seeing as their stronghold in Raqqa has been bombed by the French over the past few days in retaliation for the attacks in Paris.

[image via shuterstock]

Ken Meyer

Not Good: Report: Russia, China Crack Snowden Docs

   REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY MEDIA EDUCATION) - RTR4NZE6
Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appears live via video during a student organized world affairs conference at the Upper Canada College private high school in Toronto, February 2, 2015. | Mark Blinch/Reuters

This result was the catalyst for my opposition to Snowden seeking asylum in a communist country…

THE DAILY BEAST

Russia and China have allegedly decrypted the top-secret cache of files stolen by whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to a report from The Sunday Times, to be published tomorrow. The info has compelled British intelligence agency MI6 to withdraw some of its agents from active operations and other Western intelligence agencies are now actively involved in rescue operations. In a July 2013 email to a former U.S. Senator, Snowden stated that, “No intel­li­gence ser­vice—not even our own—has the capac­ity to com­pro­mise the secrets I con­tinue to pro­tect. While it has not been reported in the media, one of my spe­cial­iza­tions was to teach our peo­ple at DIA how to keep such infor­ma­tion from being com­pro­mised even in the high­est threat counter-intelligence envi­ron­ments (i.e. China).” Many in the intelligence agencies at the time greeted this claim with scepticism. Now, one senior British official said Snowden had “blood on his hands,” but another said there’s yet no evidence anyone was harmed. Snowden eventually fled to Russia via Hong Kong after downloading some 1.7 million documents from U.S. government computers and leaking them to journalists out of a desire to protect “privacy and basic liberties.” The revelations of mass spying outraged populations and governments around the world, at least temporarily damaged relations, and eventually led to changes in the mass surveillance policies of the NSA and British GCHQ.

Read it at BBC News >>

10 things you need to know today: February 22, 2015

Kutluhan Cucel / Getty Images

The Week

1.Sec. Kerry threatens Russia with more sanctions
Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday said the U.S. could impose more sanctions on Russia should Moscow violate the latest truce in Ukraine and continue with its “land-grabbing” in the region. Though a delicate cease-fire aimed at ending the year-old conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists went into effect last weekend, both sides accused the other of continued aggressions. “If this failure continues, make no mistake there will be further consequences including consequences that will place added strains on Russia’s already troubled economy,” Kerry said.

Source: The Guardian

2.Turkey evacuates soldiers, remains from Syrian tomb
The Turkish Army on Saturday rescued about 40 military guards from a shrine in northern Syria that had been encircled by ISIS. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said more than 500 troops, aided by tanks and armored vehicles, retrieved the soldiers from the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, which lies within Syria but is considered part of Turkey. Turkey also temporarily relocated the tomb’s remains to prevent ISIS from obtaining or desecrating them. “The ongoing conflict and state of chaos in Syria posed serious risks to safety and security of the tomb,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Source: CNN

3.Defense Secretary says U.S. may slow Afghan withdrawal
Making an unannounced visit to Kabul on Saturday, new Defense Secretary Ash Carter suggested that the United States’ troop withdrawal from Afghanistan may be slowed to ensure that “progress sticks” in the war-torn nation. “President Obama is considering a number of options to reinforce our support for President [Ashraf] Ghani’s security strategy, including possible changes to the timeline for our drawdown of U.S. troops,” Carter said. The current schedule would wind the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan down to about 5,000 by the end of 2015, with a target of lowering that to a “normal” troop presence at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

Source: Reuters

4.Scott Walker: ‘I don’t know’ if Obama loves America, is a Christian
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R ) on Saturday declined to answer basic questions about President Obama’s faith and commitment to the nation. “I don’t know,” Walker said when The Washington Post asked him if the president is Christian. “I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that.” In a separate interview with The Associated Press, the prospective 2016 candidate also shrugged off a question about Rudy Giuliani’s claim Obama does not love America, saying, “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.” A Walker spokesperson later clarified the governor thinks Obama is indeed Christian, and that he was simply trying to avoid answering “gotcha questions.”

Source: The Washington Post

5.Bangladesh ferry capsizes, kills at least 30
More than two dozen people died Sunday after a ferry carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a cargo ship on the Padma River. Early estimates put the death toll between 30 and 40, though that could change as rescue divers search for people trapped inside the submerged vessel.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

6.Chris Bosh out for season with blood clots in lung
Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh will miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season after developing blood clots in one of his lungs, the team announced Saturday. Bosh had been dealing with pain in his side for days before doctors discovered the clots, which can be fatal; former NBA player Jerome Kersey died Wednesday of a blood clot in his lung. “His health will be restored,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. “That’s the most important thing. That’s bigger than basketball.”

Source: ESPN

7.Study: India’s polluted air cutting short 660 million lives
More than half of India’s population may be facing a shortened life expectancy due to filthy air, according to a study published Saturday in the journal Economic & Political Weekly. Using previous research on China’s air pollution, the study found that 660 million people were breathing in unsafe levels of fine particulate matter and losing at least 3.2 years of their lives as a result. “The extent of the problem is actually much larger than what we normally understand,” Anant Sudarshan, one of the study’s co-author’s and the India director of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago, said.

Source: The New York Times

8.Sprawling storm brings fatal snow, ice to South and East
Yet another weekend storm dumped snow, sleet and, and ice across the South and East from Saturday into Sunday. At least 21 people died in Tennessee from storm-related fatalities, including hypothermia, as Gov. Bill Haslam (R) upgraded the state of emergency there to Level 2. Further north, Washington, D.C., and New York City each saw about five inches of snow, while snowed-in Boston received about another inch of powder.

Source: USA Today, CBS

9. NASCAR driver Kurt Busch loses final appeal
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch on Saturday lost the final appeal of his indefinite suspension from racing. NASCAR suspended Busch on Fridayafter a Delaware judge ruled he choked and beat his ex-girlfriend. The ruling means Busch will miss Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

Source: The Chicago Tribune

10.Academy Awards to crown best in film Sundaynight
The 87th Academy Awards will be held tonight as Hollywood’s award season culminates with its most prestigious event. Birdman and Boyhoodare expected to take home the night’s top honors. Neil Patrick Harris will host the show for the first time.

Source: ABC

10 things you need to know today: February 8, 2015

Johannes Simon

The Week

1.Russia, Ukraine to meet this week for peace talks in Minsk
The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany plan to meet in Minsk, Belarus, on Wednesday for talks aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine. “They expect that their efforts during the Minsk meeting will lead to the swift and unconditional cessation of fire by both sides,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s office said in a statement. Fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists has intensified since the failure last year of a delicate cease fire. Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande traveled to Russia to discuss a last-ditch peace plan.

Source: BBC

2.Brian Williams to take leave from NBC News
NBC News anchor Brian Williams said Saturday he would take a temporary leave from the network amid an internal investigation into his account of a 2003 helicopter mission in Iraq. “In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” he said in a statement. Williams is under investigation for allegedly embellishing a story about an attack on a helicopter convoy he was part of at the outset of the Iraq war.

Source: USA Today

3.North Korea test-fires short-range missiles
North Korea on Sunday fired five short-range missiles into the sea, according to the South Korean government. Fired near the coastal town of Wonsan, the missiles traveled about 125 miles before crashing into the water. The second such test this year, the launch dims the hopes of the two nations resuming peace talks that stalled last year.

Source: The New York Times

4.Legendary college hoops coach Dean Smith dead at 83
Dean Smith, the longtime University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach, died on Saturday at the age of 83. “We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in,” current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said in a statement. Smith coached North Carolina from 1961 to 1997, leading the team to national titles in 1982 and 1993. He retired with 879 victories, the most in college basketball history at the time.

Source: ESPN

5.Israeli PM vows to block Iranian nuclear deal
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he would do everything possible to scuttle “bad and dangerous” nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. “We will do everything to thwart a bad and dangerous deal that will cast a dark cloud on the future of the state of Israel and its security,” he said in a weekly cabinet meeting. The remarks come amid a backlash over Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress next month, which some Democrats and the White House believe could undermine the ongoing nuclear talks.

Source: CBS

6.Maryland court to hear appeal in ‘Serial’ murder case
In a case popularized by the podcast Serial, Adnan Syed will be allowed to appeal his murder conviction. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals filed its decision on Friday, and Syed’s lawyers can now move forward with the appeals process, which can include the presentation of new evidence. A former classmate who did not testify at the original trial, Asia McClain, says she can provide an alibi for Syed in the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend and high school classmate Hae Min Lee.

Source: The Washington Post

7.New England braces for more snow
A slow-moving winter storm could dump as much as two feet of snow on parts of New England over the next two days. The region is already reeling from two massive storms that left behind record snow totals. In Boston, 49 inches of snow fell over a 14-day period, smashing the previous two-week record of 40.2 inches.

Source: The Boston Globe

8.Iran’s top cleric endorses developing nuclear agreement
Iran’s religious leader on Sunday offered his support for a potential nuclear deal with the U.S. in which both sides give ground. “I would go along with any agreement that could be made,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement, adding that “negotiations mean reaching a common point.” The two sides have until late March to establish the basic framework of a nuclear agreement.

Source: Reuters

9. Teen arrested in connection with weekend mall shooting
Police on Sunday arrested a 17-year-old in connection with a weekend shooting at a mall outside Pittsburgh that injured three people, two of them critically. Police said the suspect, Tarod Thornhill, is believed to have been targeting one person when he opened fire Saturday night in the Monroeville Mall. Thornhill is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment.

Source: NBC

10.The Grammy Awards ceremony is tonight
The 57th annual Grammy Awards will be held Sunday night in Los Angeles. Beyonce, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams, all of whom are up for Album of the Year, lead the pack with six nominations each.

Source: Billboard

Edward Snowden Was Allegedly Recruited To Work At Russian Spy Agency

Edward Snowden (AP Photo)

The Huffington Post

BERLIN (AP) — A close ally of Edward Snowden has told filmmakers that Russia’s intelligence agency sought to recruit the former NSA contractor, but he declined the offer.

WikiLeaks staffer Sarah Harrison says the Russian FSB intelligence security service approached Snowden while he was stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for six weeks in 2013.

At the time, Snowden was unable to enter Russia or fly elsewhere because his passport had been canceled by U.S. authorities seeking to arrest him for leaking secret documents.

Harrison told German filmmakers in a documentary airing late Monday that the FSB asked only once, and he “didn’t give anything to the Russians at all.” The FSB did not respond to an AP request for comment.

Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum in August 2013.

10 things you need to know today: December 27, 2014

Ukrainian troops traded POWs with pro-Russia militants on Friday.
Ukrainian troops traded POWs with pro-Russia militants on Friday |(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

The Week

Ukraine exchanges POWs with militants, U.S. nears an intel-sharing agreement with South Korea and Japan, and more

1. Ukraine, rebels exchange POWs as Kiev suspends Crimea travel
The Ukrainian government agreed to trade more than 200 pro-Russian separatist prisoners of war for 150 Ukrainian servicemen on Friday. But, Kiev also announced it would halt all train and bus transportation services to Crimea, citing “deteriorating” security in the region that was annexed by Russia in March. Because Crimea’s only land link is with Ukraine, and Kiev has already banned sea and air traffic, the new suspensions will effectively create a transportation blockade to the peninsula. [Reuters]

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2. U.S. to share North Korea intel with South Korea, Japan
The United States will sign a joint intelligence-sharing pact with South Korea and Japan next week, officials said on Friday. While the U.S. already swaps intelligence with both nations, the new agreement will allow South Korea and Japan to share information on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs via America. The pact will also allow all three nations to more swiftly respond to North Korea’s attempts to manufacture nuclear warheads. [The Associated Press]

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3. Top al Shabab militant surrenders to officials in Somalia
Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, a top intelligence figure in al Qaeda-linked group al Shabab,reportedly surrendered to Somali officials on Saturday. The U.S. state department offered a $3 million reward in June 2012 for information leading to Hersi’s arrest; his surrender comes just two days after al Shabab militants attacked an African Union peacekeeping base in Somalia. [BBC News,The New York Times]

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4. Putin signs new military doctrine naming NATO as top threat
Saying a buildup of NATO forces near its borders could be used for “political and military pressure,” Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new military doctrine on Friday that points to NATO as the country’s top military threat. Unlike a 2010 version of Russia’s military doctrine, the new document gives Moscow room to use precision conventional weapons “as part of strategic deterrent measures,” although it does not outline exactly how or when the Kremlin would be able to resort to such actions. NATO said it “poses no threat to Russia or to any nation.” [The Associated Press]

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5. Saudi Arabia to try female drivers in terrorism court
Activists say that two Saudi women arrested for driving nearly a month ago will be tried in a terrorism court. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that forbids women from driving, and while it is not technically illegal for women to drive, they cannot receive driving licenses in the country, so they face fines or even arrests if caught driving by police. Activists say that Loujain al-Hathloul, 25, and Maysa al-Amoudi, 33, have had their cases transferred to the terrorism court because of comments they made on social media, not their driving infractions. [BBC News]

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6. Visa, MasterCard halt services in Crimea
Visa and MasterCard, the world’s two biggest payment networks, both announced on Friday thatthey will be stopping services in Crimea. “Visa is now prohibited from offering Visa-branded products and services to Crimea,” the company said in a statement. “We can no longer support card-issuing and merchant/ATM acquiring services.” The U.S. has been imposing sanctions since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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7. Egypt reportedly bans Exodus: Gods and Kings film
Citing historical falsehoods and a pro-Zionist view, Gaber Asfour, Egypt’s culture minister, reportedly said that Exodus: Gods and Kings will be banned from being shown in the country. Morocco has also reportedly banned the film, which stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses. The film has reportedly already grossed $46 million in the U.S., along with another $62 million in 39 international markets, since its release in mid-December. [The New York Times, Variety]

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8. West Virginia quarterback retires because of concussions
Saying “it would be dangerous for me to be out there,” West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett announced on Friday that he will sit out of Monday’s Liberty Bowl against Texas A&M because of concussions. Trickett said he has sustained five concussions over the last 14 months, and he indicated that West Virginia’s medical staff was not immediately made aware of all of the injuries. “That was on me,” Trickett said of not reporting the concussions. “If they would have known, they probably would have been more cautious about it, but I was trying to push through it.” [The Associated Press]

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9. Legendary jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco dies at age 91
Legendary jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco died at age 91 on Wednesday in a Panama City hospital, his family confirmed on Friday. DeFranco’s wife Joyce said he had been suffering poor health for several years. DeFranco collaborated with musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. He had been named a Living Jazz Legend at at Kennedy Center ceremony, and was recognized 16 times as the top jazz clarinetist in the world. [The Associated Press]

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10. Humans’ skeletons became more fragile with switch to farming
Two new studies suggest that our ancestors’ transition to farming from hunting and gatheringcaused humans’ skeletons to become much weaker. One study found that about 12,000 years ago, when humans began to incorporate agriculture into their communities, their networks of spongy bone at joints became less dense. In the second study, scientists noted that the farmers they studied continued to eat the same diets as their hunter-gatherer ancestors, but they walked much less and led relatively sedentary lifestyles. [The Washington Post]

10 things you need to know today: November 13, 2014

A convoy of pro-Russian tanks rumbles towards Donetsk, Ukraine. 
A convoy of pro-Russian tanks rumbles towards Donetsk, Ukraine. (AP Photo/ Mstyslav Chernov)

The Week

Russian tanks return to Ukraine, Europe’s Philae probe lands on a comet, and more

1. Russia invades Ukraine… again
Russian tanks and troops entered Ukraine near strongholds of pro-Moscow separatists, NATO officials said Wednesday. Russia, which had been accused before of invading, denied it was intervening in the conflict. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow was resuming the Cold-War-era tactic of flying bomber patrols near U.S. territorial waters due to NATO’s “anti-Russia inclinations.” [The New York Times, Los Angeles Times]

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2. Philae makes first landing on a comet in history
A European Space Agency probe from the mothership Rosetta made the first landing on a comet ever on Wednesday. The 220-pound Philae lander’s two harpoons, designed to anchor it to the surface of the comet, failed to deploy, but scientists said Philae will still be able to take samples that could unlock how planets and life formed. [National Geographic]

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3. Courts rule in favor of same-sex marriage in Kansas and South Carolina
Gay-marriage advocates added to a string of victories on Wednesday when the Supreme Courtended a stay that had prevented Kansas from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Earlier the same day a federal judge in Charleston struck down South Carolina’s gay-marriage ban as unconstitutional. [Los Angeles Times]

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4. New Orleans watchdog says sex crimes were not investigated
Five New Orleans police detectives charged with investigating sex crimes failed to look into the vast majority of cases assigned to them over three years, according to a city inspector general report released Wednesday. Out of 1,290 sex crime calls, the detectives dismissed 840 as “miscellaneous” and did nothing. [The New York Times]

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5. Minor earthquake hits Kansas and Oklahoma
A 4.8-magnitude earthquake rattled parts of Kansas and Oklahoma on Wednesday. It was the strongest temblor since a series of minor quakes began over a year ago. Wednesday’s earthquake came a day after a 2.6-magnitude quake in southern Kansas. The only damage reported from Wednesday’s quake: Trees fell and damaged one house’s foundation. [The Christian Science Monitor]

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6. NOAA confirms cyberattack by China
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that four of its websites were attacked by Chinese hackers. NOAA, which oversees the National Weather Service, said hackers struck a few weeks ago. An internal report warned in July that NOAA had grave technology security problems. [NBC News]

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7. Turkish nationalists rough up U.S. sailors
A group of young Turkish ultranationalists assaulted three U.S. sailors on shore leave in Istanbul early Wednesday. The attackers shouted anti-American slogans, such as “Yankee, go home,” threw red paint at them, and called them murderers. The sailors escaped. The U.S. Navy called the attack “appalling.” [The Huffington Post]

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8. New York prosecutor directs $35 million to testing rape kits
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced Wednesday that he would dedicate $35 million for helping U.S. prosecutors clear a backlog by testing tens of thousands of rape kits. Vance was flanked by Law & Order actress Mariska Hargitay, whose Joyful Heart Foundation will put up some of the money. [New York Daily News]

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9. Stranded window washers saved at World Trade Center tower
Emergency crews rescued two window washers from scaffolding dangling at the 68th floor of the 104-floor One World Trade Center building in New York City on Wednesday. The rescuers cut through three layers of glass to get to the men and pull them to safety. The men were taken to a hospital to be treated for mild hypothermia. [CNN]

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10. Kershaw and Kluber win Cy Young Awards
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw won his second straight National League Cy Young Award in a unanimous vote on Wednesday. Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians narrowly beat the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, who won the pitching prize in 2010, to win in the American League. [Fox News]

 

10 things you need to know today: November 6, 2014

The midterms were...
The midterms were… (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Week

Republicans lay out their legislative agenda, Obama assesses the damage, and more

1. Republicans lay out their legislative agenda
A day after retaking the Senate and adding to their majority in the House, the GOP leadership is letting Americans in on their plan for the next two years. Chief among their priorities is balancing the budget, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and revising or repealing the Affordable Care Act. Republican lawmakers are also expected to use their new-found control of the Senate to work towards large-scale revisions to the tax code. [The New York Times]

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2. Obama assesses the midterms
President Obama on Wednesday assessed his party’s resounding defeat in the midterm elections, saying the clear message from voters was that Washington needs to scrap the dysfunction and finally “get stuff done.” Obama said he would work with Republicans on issues where there is broad bipartisan agreement, and take executive action when he is compelled to act alone. “Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I’ll take some actions Congress won’t like.” [Time]

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3. Judge overturns Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban
St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison struck down Missouri’s ban on gay marriage. In June, St. Louis officials handed out four marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of the state’s 10-year-old constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage. The move was designed to set up a show down in the courts over the ban in the hopes of overturning it. Missouri’s attorney general, Chris Koster, announced that he would not appeal the ruling because he wanted Missouri’s future to “be one of inclusion, not exclusion.” [CBS]

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4. Russia snubs 2016 nuclear arms summit
Russian officials have decided to skip a 2016 nuclear security summit being held in Chicago, according to the U.S. State Department. Russia will instead attend a symposium hosted by the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency. The move comes at a time when the relationship between Washington and Moscow has been severely strained thanks to the crisis in Ukraine. In March, both Russia and the United State attended the last nuclear summit, which took place in The Hague. [Reuters]

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5. Deadly attack in Jerusalem fuels tension
Two people were killed in Jerusalem when a driver rammed into a line of commuters waiting for a train. The authorities killed the assailant but not before he got out of his car and assaulted a group of bystanders with a metal bar. The attack was the latest deadly incident in a city that has seen mounting tension over the past few months. [Time]

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6. Kerry pushes for deal with Iranians over their nuclear program
Secretary of State John Kerry said that he is hoping to finalize a deal with Iran over its nuclear capacity before a Nov. 24 deadline for negotiations. “I want to get this done,” said Kerry, who added that Iran has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. The U.S. and five other countries have been in talks with Iran for months to convince the rogue nation to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. [The Washington Post]

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7. Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola is released from hospital
Teresa Romero Ramos, the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa, left the hospital after a month of treatment. The Spanish nurse was still weak, but called her recovery a “miracle” from God. Doctors said Ramos is no longer contagious and that they learned several lessons about treating Ebola patients from her case. [CNN]

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8. Tesla beats third quarter expectations
Tesla, the manufacturer behind the all-electric Model S car, reported a modest, third-quarter profit of $3 million. The company delivered a record-setting 7,785 sedans, which boosted its sales to $932 million. Analysts had expected the company to report lower revenues. [Forbes]

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9. Van Gogh painting sells for $61.8 million
Vincent van Gogh’s “Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies” fetched $61.8 million at auction — almost $12 million more than its estimated value. The painting, which van Gogh created at his doctor’s house just a few months before his death, was purchased by a private collector from Asia. The still life was one of the few canvases van Gogh was able to sell before he passed away in 1890. [BBC]

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10. Public outcry prompts Starbucks to bring back Eggnog Latte
Starbucks is bringing back its seasonal — and apparently very popular — Eggnog Latte after an outpouring on social media. The company had decided to take it off the menu to streamline its offerings but decided that was the wrong move. “We made a mistake,” says spokeswoman Linda Mills. “We are very sorry.” [USA Today]