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December 17, 2014
Danger in the skies as Russia, NATO play cat-and-mouse
Brussels (AFP) Dec 18, 2014
Recent close shaves between Russian fighters and civilian aircraft highlight the dangers of the cat-and-mouse game being played out between Moscow and the West in European skies amid the crisis in Ukraine, analysts say. In the latest incident, Sweden said Friday that a Russian military jet nearly collided with a passenger plane south of Malmoe shortly after take-off from Copenhagen International Airport. Both countries called in their Russian ambassadors to protest, only to be told that a huge i ... read more

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Danger in the skies as Russia, NATO play cat-and-mouse

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Sweden and Denmark summon Russian ambassadors over air incident
Sweden and Denmark summoned Russia's ambassadors Monday in protest over a near miss between a Russian surveillance plane and a commercial aircraft, a further sign of rising military tensions in the Baltic. ... more
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Abe pledges Japan constitution rewrite after election win
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday vowed he would try to persuade a sceptical public of the need to revise Japan's pacifist constitution, the day after scoring a thumping election victory. ... more
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No Pope meeting for Dalai Lama as Vatican eyes China ties
Pope Francis will not meet the Dalai Lama when the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader visits Rome this weekend, a Vatican spokesman said Thursday - a decision apparently seeking to avoid upsetting China. ... more
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Ukraine is own worst threat: Russian deputy PM
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees defence, said Saturday that Ukraine was its own worst threat, after Kiev announced plans to boost its armed forces because of the conflict in east Ukraine. ... more
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Russia denies military jet near miss with airliner over Sweden
Russia's defence ministry on Sunday denied a report by Swedish military that a Russian military plane nearly collided this week with a passenger plane over Sweden. ... more
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Desperate shortages leave Ukraine ill-prepared for trauma of war
With Ukraine still trapped in a Soviet-era approach to mental health and psychiatric hospitals so under-funded that some have less than 10 cents a day to feed patients, the country has been left ill-prepared for the trauma of war. ... more
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China angles for Central America influence in US 'backyard'
With ambitious plans for a canal through Nicaragua and a Honduran hydroelectric dam, Chinese firms are increasingly testing the waters in Central America, a region long considered the United States' backyard. ... more
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China 'deeply disappointed' over US snub of IMF reform
Beijing said Friday it was "deeply disappointed" that Washington refused to back plans to reform the International Monetary Fund which would give emerging economies such as China a greater say in the institution. ... more
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China rules: Why the pope ducked meeting with Dalai Lama
Pope Francis may be known for championing dialogue, but faced with the certainty of riling China, analysts say, he ducked out of a meeting with the Dalai Lama. ... more
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Baltics up defence spending as Russia buzzes borders
Russia's meddling in Ukraine has delivered a wake-up call on defence spending to small Baltic states which spent half a century under Soviet occupation and now fear the Kremlin's territorial ambitions. ... more
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Vietnam upholds jail terms for activists
A Vietnamese appeal court on Friday upheld jail sentences against three activists who were convicted for "public disorder" offences earlier this year following short trials that generated widespread criticism. ... more
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Nobel winners praise Cape Town mayor for Dalai Lama stand
Nobel peace prize winners on Thursday showered praise on Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille for contesting President Jacob Zuma's refusal to grant the Dalai Lama an entry visa to South Africa. ... more
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Sweden bolsters military over 'Russian rearmament'
Sweden brought back the option Thursday of using reservists to boost its military force, citing "Russian rearmament" as one of the reasons for the decision. ... more
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How an anti-graft squad is rooting out corruption in Ukraine's army
It must rank as one of the world's most daunting jobs: tackling corruption in Ukraine's military. But with support from the president, a patriotic volunteer unit and a polygraph test, one man thinks he has the answer. ... more
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Ukraine peace talks delayed but ceasefire largely holds
Planned peace talks between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels were postponed on Tuesday but a ceasefire appeared to be largely holding along the frontline in the ex-Soviet republic's war-shattered east. ... more
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Philippines leader's visit to S. Korea on again as storm departs
President Benigno Aquino will go ahead with a visit to South Korea this week after the Philippines weathered its latest typhoon better than expected, his spokeswoman said Tuesday. ... more
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NATO intercepts Russian bombers over Baltic Sea
NATO warplanes intercepted a "significant" force of six Russian nuclear-capable bombers over the Baltic Sea, the alliance said in the latest such encounter amid tensions with Moscow over Ukraine. ... more
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Beijing defends Confucius Institutes amid US academic freedom debate
China on Friday defended its overseas Confucius Institutes, one day after a US congressman called for a probe into the language and cultural centres over concerns that they violate academic freedom. ... more
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Philippines stands firm on sea dispute with China
The Philippines shrugged off criticism from China on Monday after Beijing slammed the nation for challenging its territorial claims in international courts, in a dispute over resource-rich waters. ... more
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China condemns Philippines over disputed sea arbitration
China on Sunday slammed the Philippines for challenging its territorial claims over the South China Sea through international arbitration, refusing to back down just a week before a deadline to respond in the case. ... more
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Congressman seeks probe into China-US college ties
A senior member of Congress called Thursday for an investigation into deals that US universities are striking with China, amid fears that such tie-ups are compromising academic freedom. ... more
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Obama nominates Ashton Carter as Pentagon chief
President Barack Obama on Friday named Ashton Carter, a highly regarded technocrat, to lead the Pentagon as the US military embarks on the latest phase in its 13-year war against Islamic extremists. ... more
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China ex-security chief's fall cements Xi's grip on power
The Chinese Communist Party's decision to arrest and expel former security chief Zhou Yongkang is a bold step that demonstrates President Xi Jinping's determination to consolidate power "to a degree unseen" in decades, observers said Saturday. ... more
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Putin, Hollande in surprise Ukraine talks amid warship controversy
French President Francois Hollande will make an unscheduled stop in Moscow on Saturday to discuss the Ukraine crisis with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin amid a bitter dispute over France's refusal to deliver a warship. ... more
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