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Oct 20, 2015

U.S., Russia sign memo to avoid air conflict over Syria: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and Russian military officials signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday that includes steps their pilots should take to avoid an inadvertent clash over Syria as they carry out separate air strikes against militant groups, the Pentagon said.

The issue of aircraft safety started after Russia started bombing targets in Syria last month. Moscow says it is attacking Islamic State, but many of its air strikes have hit territory held by other rebel groups fighting against Russia’s Syrian ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

Oct 14, 2015

Violence, settlements hurt Israel-Palestinian peace moves – U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Violence and settlement activity are undermining the viability of a two-state political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday as it discussed Secretary of State John Kerry’s plan to visit the region.

Speaking a day after Kerry announced his intent to visit the region soon to try to help reduce tensions, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the secretary was not assigning blame when he said a “massive increase in settlements” over the past year had been followed by the current outbreak of violence.

Oct 6, 2015

Big U.S. firms hold $2.1 trillion overseas to avoid taxes: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The 500 largest American companies hold more than $2.1 trillion in accumulated profits offshore to avoid U.S. taxes and would collectively owe an estimated $620 billion in U.S. taxes if they repatriated the funds, according to a study released on Tuesday.

The study, by two left-leaning non-profit groups, found that nearly three-quarters of the firms on the Fortune 500 list of biggest American companies by gross revenue operate tax haven subsidiaries in countries like Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Sep 30, 2015

Defense chief says Obama likely to veto defense policy bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday he expected President Barack Obama to veto the annual defense policy bill currently making its way through Congress because it seeks to avoid budget caps by padding the war-funding account.

Carter told a Pentagon news briefing that he and other presidential advisers had already recommended that Obama veto the National Defense Authorization Act if it remains in its current form.

Sep 29, 2015

U.S. sanctions Islamic State supporters, targets finances

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States tightened financial pressure on Islamic State on Tuesday, slapping sanctions on more than 30 leaders, supporters and affiliates around the world to squeeze the militant group Washington is having trouble defeating.

The Treasury Department designated 15 people as Islamic State supporters for providing technical, logistic or financial backing, working as political leaders or recruiting foreign fighters. The designations allow the government to freeze their assets and bars U.S. citizens from dealing with them.

Sep 28, 2015

FBI’s crime report to include more data on police shootings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The FBI will report more data on shootings involving police officers in the future, the head of the agency said on Monday as he released a report showing violent crime fell in 2014, continuing a 20-year trend.

FBI Director Jim Comey announced the plan amid an ongoing debate in the United States about the appropriate use force by police following a spate of incidents in which officers shot and killed civilians, including several black men.

Sep 23, 2015

5.6 million fingerprints stolen in U.S. personnel data hack: government

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hackers who stole security clearance data on millions of Defense Department and other U.S. government employees got away with about 5.6 million fingerprint records, some 4.5 million more than initially reported, the government said on Wednesday.

The additional stolen fingerprint records were identified as part of an ongoing analysis of the data breach by the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defense, OPM said in a statement. The data breach was discovered this spring and affected security clearance records dating back many years.

Sep 23, 2015

5.6 million fingerprints stolen in U.S. personnel data hack -govt

WASHINGTON, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Hackers who stole security
clearance data on millions of Defense Department and other U.S.
government employees got away with about 5.6 million fingerprint
records, some 4.5 million more than initially reported, the
government said on Wednesday.

The additional stolen fingerprint records were identified as
part of an ongoing analysis of the data breach by the Office of
Personnel Management and the Department of Defense, OPM said in
a statement. The data breach was discovered this spring and
affected security clearance records dating back many years.

Sep 17, 2015

McCain calls for U.S. to challenge China claims with patrols near islands

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Senate’s military committee criticized the Obama administration on Thursday for failing to challenge China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea by sailing within 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) of them, saying this amounted to de facto recognition of Chinese claims.

Assistant Secretary of Defense David Shear responded to Senator John McCain, the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, by saying that such patrols had not been conducted since 2012, but were among future U.S. options.

Sep 16, 2015

Kerry says Russia proposes military talks on Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration said Wednesday is was considering how to respond to a Russian proposal for military talks over Syria, where Moscow is expanding its forces even as U.S. warplanes conduct daily air strikes against Islamist militants.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was talking to the White House and Pentagon about the Kremlin proposal, which was made during phone calls with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in recent days.

    • About David

      "David has been a journalist for 30 years, based in Washington, London, New Delhi, Jerusalem and Philadelphia. He covered the first Gulf war, the Palestinian intifada and the conflict in Kashmir. Since 1998 he has been an editor and reporter in Washington, covering politics, the White House and other stories."
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