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July 5, 2022 6:34 am

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“Russia” – Google News: China, others to be part of joint military drills in Russia – WKOW

China, others to be part of joint military drills in Russia  WKOW

“Russia” – Google News

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“Ukraine” – Google News: Esports gains offical government recognition in Ukraine – Esports Insider

Esports gains offical government recognition in Ukraine  Esports Insider

“Ukraine” – Google News

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“Russia and US Presidential Elections of 2016” – Google News: White House stifled reporting on Russian election interference: Whistleblower – Deccan Herald

White House stifled reporting on Russian election interference: Whistleblower  Deccan Herald

“Russia and US Presidential Elections of 2016” – Google News

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NYT > World > Europe: Your Thursday Briefing

President Trump, Moria migrants, Beirut explosion: Here’s what you need to know.

NYT > World > Europe

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“Ukraine” – Google News: B-52s from Minot participate in training in Ukraine – KFYR-TV

B-52s from Minot participate in training in Ukraine  KFYR-TV

“Ukraine” – Google News

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“Russia influence in Eastern Europe” – Google News: Undecylenic Acid Market Set to Surpass US$XX Million by the end of 2018 – 2028 – The Daily Chronicle

Undecylenic Acid Market Set to Surpass US$XX Million by the end of 2018 – 2028  The Daily Chronicle

“Russia influence in Eastern Europe” – Google News

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News: Kool and the Gang co-founder Ronald Bell dies at 68


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Voice of America – English: Deadly Northwest Fires Burn Hundreds of Homes

Deadly windblown wildfires raging across the Pacific Northwest destroyed hundreds of homes in Oregon, the governor said Wednesday, warning it could be the greatest loss of life and property from wildfire in state history.

The blazes from the top of the state to the California border caused highway closures and smoky skies and had firefighters struggling to contain and douse flames fanned by 80-kph wind gusts. Officials in some western Oregon communities gave residents “go now” orders to evacuate, meaning they had minutes to flee their homes.

Fires were burning in a large swath of Washington state and Oregon that rarely experiences such intense wildfire activity because of the Pacific Northwest’s cool and wet climate.

Flames trapped firefighters and civilians behind fire lines in Oregon and leveled an entire small town in eastern Washington. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown warned that the devastation could be overwhelming from the fires that exploded Monday during a late-summer windstorm.

“Everyone must be on high alert,” Brown said. The blazes were thought to be extremely destructive around Medford, in southern Oregon, and near the state capital of Salem.

“This could be the greatest loss of human life and property due to wildfire in our state’s history,” the governor said.

At least two people were killed in Oregon fires, along with a small child in a Washington state blaze. Brown said some communities were substantially damaged, with “hundreds of homes lost.”

A horse stands in a stall under smoky skies on the Oregon State Fairgrounds, Sept. 9, 2020, in Salem, Ore. Hundreds of horses have been brought to the fairgrounds in Salem by people fleeing the fires.

The precise extent of damage was unclear because so many of the fire zones were too dangerous to survey, said Oregon Deputy State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple.

“Quite frankly, we are not even able to get into these areas,” she said.

In Washington, a 1-year-old boy died after his family was apparently overrun by flames while trying to flee a wildfire in the northeastern part of the state, Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley said Wednesday.

The child’s injured parents were discovered in the area of the Cold Springs Fire, which is burning in Okanogan and Douglas counties, Hawley said. They were transported to a Seattle hospital with third-degree burns.

KOIN reported a boy and his grandmother died in a wildfire near Lyons, Oregon. Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast confirmed two fatalities but had no other details. He said they would likely “not be the only ones.” Lyons is in Marion County.

Another wildfire hit Lincoln City, on the Oregon coast, where residents were being evacuated to a community college to the south.

“The fire is in the city,” said Casey Miller, spokesman for Lincoln County Emergency Management. He said some buildings had been burned but had no details.

The department imposed mandatory evacuation for the northern half of the city of roughly 10,000 residents, which stretches alongside U.S. Highway 101.

The Pacific Northwest scenes of lines of vehicles clogging roads to get away from the fires were similar to California’s terrifying wildfire drama, where residents have fled fires raging unchecked throughout the state. But Northwest officials said they did not recall so many destructive fires at once in the areas where they were burning.

A water-drop helicopter flies Sept. 9, 2020, near a wildfire burning in Bonney Lake, Wash., south of Seattle.

Sheriff’s deputies, traveling with chain saws in their patrol cars to cut fallen trees blocking roads, went door to door in rural communities 64 kilometers south of Portland, telling people to evacuate. Since Tuesday, as many as 16,000 people have been told to abandon their homes.

“These winds are so incredible and are spreading so fast, we don’t have a lot of time,” said Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts.

“I’ve been through hell and high water but nothing like this. I’ve been shot down and shot at, but this – last night, I’m still not over it,” said Lloyd Dean Holland, a Vietnam veteran who barely escaped his home in Estacada on Tuesday night.

Holland said Oregon State Police had warned him to leave earlier in the day, but the fire seemed far away and he decided to stay. Around 10 p.m., he said, his landlord came pounding on the door screaming at him to go.

Fires were burning in seven Oregon counties and rural and suburban homes miles away from Portland were under preliminary orders to prepare for possible evacuations. Three prisons were evacuated late Tuesday, and Brown called the state’s blazes unprecedented.

The Northwest is no stranger to wildfires, but most of the biggest ones until now have been in the eastern or southern parts of the region – where the weather is considerably hotter and drier and the vegetation more fire-prone than it is in the region’s western portion.

Fires in 2017 and 2018 crested the top of the Cascade Range – the long spine that divides dry eastern Oregon from the lush western part of the state – but never before spread into the valleys below, said Doug Grafe, chief of Fire Protection at the Oregon Department of Forestry.

A family arrives with their two dogs and other precious belongings at an evacuation center that has been set up at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore., on Sept. 8, 2020.

“We do not have a context for this amount of fire on the landscape,” he said.

Fire crews were focusing on trying to keep people out of harm’s way and preventing houses from burning on Wednesday, with officials saying that containing the fires was a secondary priority.

After a 30-minute tour of the fire area south of Seattle in Sumner, Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee said the blaze is “just one example of probably the most catastrophic fires we’ve had in the history of the state.”

He said that in the past couple of days, more than 194,424 hectares burned.

“This is an extraordinary series of events we have suffered,” Inslee said.

About 80% of the small eastern Washington farming town of Malden was leveled by flames from a fast-moving fire on Monday.

In Sumner helicopters flew over a ridge, dropping water on smoldering areas. Bud Backer, fire chief for East Pierce Fire & Rescue, told Inslee that the recent winds were “like a blowtorch.”

Bonney Lake Police Chief Bryan Jeter said that about 2,500 homes in the area were given evacuation orders.

In Oregon, at least four major fires were burning in Clackamas County, a suburban county in Oregon that’s a bedroom community of Portland. The entire county of nearly 420,000 people was put on notice to be ready to evacuate late Tuesday amid winds gusting up to 48 kph.

Another major fire in southern Oregon prompted evacuation orders in much of Medford, a city of about 80,000 residents near the California border.

And several huge blazes burning in Marion County, southeast of the state’s capitol city of Salem, merged overnight – turning the sky blood red in the middle of the day. 

Voice of America – English

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“putin’s face” – Google News: Kim Jong Un wrote Trump letters calling him ‘Your Excellency’ and called Obama an ‘a**hole’ – Daily Mail

Kim Jong Un wrote Trump letters calling him ‘Your Excellency’ and called Obama an ‘a**hole’  Daily Mail

“putin’s face” – Google News

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Voice of America – English: Recent US Sanctions Increase Risk for Potential Hezbollah Allies

A U.S. government decision Tuesday to sanction two former Lebanese government ministers is the latest unprecedented campaign against Hezbollah, with some observers saying the move dramatically increases the risk for Lebanese politicians to engage with the U.S.-designated terror group.

The Trump administration said it blacklisted former Minister of Transportation and Public Works Yusuf Finyanus and former Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil because they had helped Hezbollah bypass U.S. sanctions and profit from multimillion-dollar government contracts.

Firas Maksad, an adjunct professor and researcher on Lebanon at George Washington University, said that Lebanon’s economy is highly dollarized, giving Washington a “tremendous leverage” to use sanctions to deter Lebanon’s political groups from cozying up to the Iran proxy when the country is trying to form a new government.

“In the past when the U.S. Treasury had moved to designate Lebanese banks, those banks would fall within 24 hours,” Maksad told VOA by phone. “These sanctions, in particular, are different and of a more significant caliber because it’s the first time that they target two former ministers.”

“Lebanese political and business actors are now much more cognizant of the risks working together with Hezbollah,” he added.

Khalil is a member of the Shiite Amal Movement, and Finyanus is a member of Christian political party Marada Movement. Both groups have denounced the designations, calling them a U.S. attack “targeting Lebanon and its sovereignty,” according to Reuters.

While announcing the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement accused Hezbollah of exploiting Lebanon’s political system to spread “its malign influence.”

“The United States stands with the people of Lebanon in their calls for reform and will continue to use its authorities to target those who oppress and exploit them,” Mnuchin said.

Power sharing

Since its independence from France in 1943, Lebanon has practiced a complicated parliamentary system called “consociationalism” to divide power among the country’s three main groups, the Sunnis, Shiites and Maronite Christians.

As such, the country’s president has been a Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the parliament speaker a Shiite.

Unlike many Mideast countries, Lebanon is not an oil-rich nation, and more than 80% of its GDP comes from service sectors such as banking, tourism and construction. The U.S. Treasury says Hezbollah owns companies that are deeply involved in Lebanon’s economy.

‘Internal dissent’

The August 4 blast, caused by nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a highly populated civilian area, has led to the resignation of government and calls for deep political reform in the former French colony.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has visited Lebanon twice since the explosion, is leading an international effort to help Lebanon achieve economic recovery and political reform.

While no one expects the powerful influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah to disappear anytime soon, experts say international pressure is key to bringing about radical change in Lebanon.

“Hezbollah is still holding out,” said Phillip Smyth, a scholar on Shiite political movements at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Within the Lebanese government, they have strong allies and a very strong position. However, I would say they are facing internal dissent from a number of directions.”

He added, “Following the blast, Hezbollah, with its dominant position, has become the face of the very corruption which spans across the Lebanese government.”

Next week, Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib is expected to form a new Cabinet. Some observers say the recent U.S. sanctions are likely to influence the direction of the new government.

“If the French president’s approach to Lebanon’s ruling class was too soft, the American mode included heavy sticks,” said Sam Bazzi, the founder of Hezbollah Watch blog.

“This will hopefully break the stalemate in the country and create the opportunity for Adib to form the deliverance government that Lebanon desperately needs,” Bazzi said.

Mehdi Jedinia contributed to this story from Washington.

Voice of America – English