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Obama's Pragmatism
I think I’m beginning to understand Barack Obama’s concept of pragmatism better. Pragmatism is the name of a school of philosophy. The major point to understand is that, in the pragmatic view, we have to continue working hard at “business as usual,” regardless of what we believe is ethically right or wrong. As I understand it, Obama’s current philosophically-inspired position is that economic success is the major gauge of his leadership, simply because that is the way everything works in our civilization. Many aspects of our system are repugnant, probably as much to Obama as to some of those reading this, but according to his pragmatism we can’t get away from things as they are.

Obama’s is a deeply thought out attitude and not the same as a policy of continuous expediency. He demands that we throw ourselves into the world as we find it. I think he would say that any other attitude amounts to shirking our (his) responsibility to run the country for the good of everyone, including the good of people we detest.

This attitude can be compared with the one advanced by Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl survived life in Auschwitz while following similar principles. I recommend Frankl’s moving and disturbing book without reservation to anyone who would try to see human beings as we are, inextricably connected to the world around us. In some ways the philosophy of Frankl is the antithesis of the agonized lament, heard in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, that “Hell is other people.”

I’m not sure I can entirely accept either Obama’s pragmatism or Frankl’s grim determination to follow the road on which we find ourselves. Nevertheless I believe these are ideas that we need to take seriously, particularly in light of the current president’s apparently deep commitment to principles such as I am awkwardly trying to characterize here.

If Obama succeeds in getting himself voted in for another term, it will be interesting to find out what he does with his second four years. He may not change his policies, but I’m hoping he will start to explain, in much greater depth, the decisions he is making and the logic he follows in making them.

—Ralph    |  

Wiki-Leaking Bank Information
For anyone interested in learning more about Wikileaks, how it operates, its ethics and an example of the character of one leaker, I recommend watching this video. Probably because of server overload, the video may take up to about 15 minutes to begin playing. It’s worth the wait.
—Ralph    |  

USA Has a Right-Sided Bias
This week’s diplomatic spat between the US and Venezuela illustrates the built-in U.S. bias against leftist governments.
(Reuters) - Venezuela condemned on Thursday the United States’ revocation of its ambassador’s visa. […]

In the latest flare-up between the ideological foes, Washington withdrew the visa of ambassador Bernardo Alvarez on Wednesday in retaliation for the rejection by socialist President Hugo Chavez of Obama’s nominated U.S. envoy to Caracas.

Chavez had blocked [U.S. envoy] Larry Palmer’s arrival, after the diplomat accused Venezuela’s government of close ties to leftist Colombian rebels. [Palmer] also alleged declining morale and growing Cuban influence in Venezuela’s armed forces.

It’s easy to see why U.S. foreign policy is always so strongly biased against leftist governments: there are still substantial remnants of U.S. anti-communism, the pillar upon which most of Washington’s foreign policy rested from the beginning of the Cold War, around 1947, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Throughout 44 years of Cold War polarization, a strong tradition of U.S. anti-leftism became deeply rooted. And even though 20 years has now passed since the collapse of Russian communism, there is still a fixed expectation, both at home and in the rest of the world, that the U.S. will always oppose leftist governments such as Venezuela’s, while glossing over the faults of rightist states like El Salvador, to which

the United States has sent more than $1 billion in military aid […] in the last decade, and $2 billion more in economic assistance.
Anti-communist habits of thought also help explain why, two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. press and media still retain a strong right-sided bias. A reflexive “anti-communist” miasma of condemnation subtly permeates the atmosphere when any domestic policy appears to lean leftward.

As long as reactive hatred of communism and reactive fear of terrorism combine to lock U.S. political dialog into a tiny pen, there’s little hope we’ll hear sensible policy discussion any time soon.

—Ralph    |  

Ease of Use
Republicans no longer care how obvious they are about passing legislation exclusively for the benefit of the wealthy. They have no further need to hide this or anything else, because the likes of Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, Limbaugh and hundreds of other right-wing radio and tv presenters all over the country are able to spin whatever their favored politicians may happen to say into electoral gold.

This wonderful ease of use of the populace is just one of the many miracles made possible by having so large a proportion of uneducated and under-educated citizens. Remember that the American economy is driven by consumption. You only have to know how to eat.

—Ralph    |  

What is a Conservative?
What exactly is an American conservative, anyway? I can’t think of a description that fits the present range of candidates. Is a conservative…
  • A religious fundamentalist who is fanatically opposed to abortion for any reason?
  • A wealthy individual trying to get his taxes reduced by giving money to a politician who promises to cut all taxes?
  • A person opposed to government spending (except for military, CIA, Homeland Security and “Black Ops” spending)?
  • An advocate of “white power,” also opposed to social services and immigration?
  • Someone who believes in “personal responsibility” (except when his or own family needs some kind of help)?
  • A politician who tries to block any legislative proposal advanced by Democrats, including legislation he or she has previously sponsored?
  • Someone who believes “Barack Hussein Obama” is secretly a Kenyan Muslim?
This is, of course, an ironic post, but it also contains a serious question: is there any common set of beliefs shared by self-described American conservatives?
—Ralph    |  

Reality vs Human Nature
We often hear that “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Public opinion, on the other hand, has a well-known bias in favor of ignorance and jingoism. The truth is usually evident, but will not be accepted until much later. This is especially true when the truth turns out to be unpleasant or (even worse) expensive.
—Ralph    |  

Angry with Barack Obama?
I get pretty disappointed, even angry with Obama because he has neither ended the wars nor closed Guantanamo, but then I have to remember how much I hated Lyndon Johnson for his horrible war in Vietnam. Because of the massive public reaction against that war, in 1968 Johnson did not run for a second full term in office.

But now we remember Lyndon Johnson as the president who moved the Civil Rights Act of 1965 through Congress, and signed it.

It’s true that Barack Obama isn’t the most popular president, and that he’s not helping other Democrats. Those are the unfortunate facts. But we can still hope that the legislation Obama and this Congress have passed will help the country over the long term.

—Ralph    |  

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Cached Oct 4, 2015, 8:12 am (all times Eastern US)
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Reuters News
Germany faces logistical nightmare
as refugee inflows hit record

Supreme Court tackles hot social
issues as 2016 election looms

Six experts vie for top
U.N. climate science job

Pope opens synod; calls for
welcoming Church but no gay marriage

Russian jets hit Syria's Homs, Hama
province: monitor and residents

Palestinians stab Israelis in two
attacks; PM calls in security chiefs

At least 13 dead in
French Riviera floods

Portuguese go to polls, may reelect
austerity-minded government

Myanmar radical monk endorses ruling
party in election, raps opposition

EU tries to woo Erdogan in historic
visit but division remains

MSF denies Taliban was firing from
Afghan hospital hit by air strike

Russia to step up
air strikes in Syria

Bangladesh beefs up security for foreigners
after second killing claimed by IS

Hillary Clinton pokes fun at herself
in 'Saturday Night Live' appearance

In Australia, seeds of
Islamic radicalism sown early

Hundreds feared dead in Guatemala
landslide, the hopeful keep digging

New York gas blast and fire
kill one, injure three

Palestinian stabs Israeli in
fresh attack, shot dead: police

Life ring from missing cargo ship
found as hurricane threatens Bermuda

U.S. investigating air strike near
Afghan hospital that killed 19

Mormon Church appoints three
men to its governing body

Greece must stick to
program to exit bailout -PM

Gunman in Oregon college
massacre committed suicide

British PM Cameron says will not
be rushed on EU referendum date

Hurricane Joaquin threatens Bermuda,
U.S. hit by separate storms

More than 20 injured in roof
collapse at North Carolina school

Hope fading, rescuers dig for
survivors in Guatemala landslide

Palestinian kills two in
Jerusalem, then shot dead: police

Obama declares state of emergency in
South Carolina over flooding: White House

After VW, Germany needs EU
friends to join its party

Clinton gets endorsement of
largest U.S. labor union

Two suicide car bombs kill at least
18 in Baghdad: police, medics

Diggers hunt survivors in buried
Guatemala town, death toll hits 48

Iraqi Kurdish leader urges Russia,
U.S. to coordinate in anti-IS fight

Blast and fire rips off
New York building facade

Barred anti-abortion activist
pledges return to Australia

Kurdish leader encourages coordination
between Russia, coalition

Putin promised to use influence in Donbass
for progress on Minsk deal: Kremlin

Hurricane Joaquin leaves the Bahamas,
U.S. braces for separate floods

Two Venezuelan ex-senior cops
indicted in U.S. court over drugs

Islamic State claims responsibility
for killing Japanese man in Bangladesh

U.S. auto union, Ford avert
strike at pickup factory

Malaysia's police chief says no FBI
contact on any 1MDB, Najib investigation

Netanyahu says Israel's
relationship with Russia is good

Thousands march in Vienna to
show support for migrants

U.S. a long way from 'macroprudential'
safeguards: Fed's Dudley

Argentine front-runner Scioli
says holdouts not a priority

Central African president calls for
tougher mandate for U.N. mission

Saudi Arabia says one Syrian, one Filipino
arrested in illegal bomb factory raid

At least 16 killed at Afghan
hospital after U.S. air strike

Migrants break into Channel Tunnel
as tension mounts in Calais

Marking 25 years of German unity, president
says refugee crisis even bigger challenge

Vatican sacks gay priest after
highly public coming out

Rebels accuse South Sudan government
of attacks weeks after peace deal

Greek PM says main target to
regain market access, end bailout

Suicide bombings in Nigerian
capital kill 15: officials

At least nine killed in U.S.
air strike on Afghan hospital

At least 39 civilians, 14 fighters killed
since start of Russian air strikes: monitor

Britain warns it needs
robust reforms to stay in EU

Japanese citizen shot dead in Bangladesh,
second foreigner killed this week

Syrian opposition, rebel groups united
against U.N. Syria 'working groups' plan

Saudi forces arrest two foreigners
at illegal bomb factory: SPA

Russia says Air Force made over 20
flights in Syria in past 24 hours

Bad weather hinders search
for missing Indonesian plane

Merkel urges Europe to protect
external borders amid refugee crisis

Only 5 percent of Russian strikes
hitting Islamic State: Britain

Migrants try to enter Channel
Tunnel, disrupt cross-channel trains

U.S. military air strike may have
hit MSF hospital in Afghan city

Mexico clash may have involved
'extrajudicial killings': rights body

Hospital hit, three staff killed in
Kunduz bombing: Medecins sans Frontieres

Oregon gunman enrolled at college
he attacked in deadly rampage

Indonesia resumes search on
Sulawesi island for missing plane

Arizona sheriff denies investigating
racial profiling case judge

Hillside collapses on Guatemalan
town, killing 25; hundreds missing

Australian officials say Sydney police
HQ shooting 'linked to terrorism'

Firefighters union abandons plans to
endorse Clinton for president: NY Times

Clinton blasts Patriot
Coal bankruptcy plan

Australian police probing terror
links in Sydney police HQ shooting

Death toll in Guatemala landslide
rises to 26: authorities

U.S. judge orders Arkansas to pay
Planned Parenthood in narrow ruling

After Oregon, gun control could
give Clinton clout against Sanders

Obama to look for new gun
measures, says 'talk' is main tool

Nine dead, hundreds missing as
hillside collapses on Guatemalan town

Kerry, Iran's Zarif discuss
nuclear deal: State Department

New Jersey transportation
chief to resign

Obama urges Congress to fund
government, Republicans quarrel

California high-speed rail could
survive McCarthy as Speaker: official

UAW faces tough road to
salvage failed contract

Bye bye Google,
hello Alphabet

Yemen severs diplomatic
ties with Iran: state media

Obama warns Russia's Putin
of 'quagmire' in Syria

Two blasts on outskirts of Nigerian
capital Abuja, official says

Coke, McDonald's join sponsor
call for FIFA's Blatter to resign

Brazil court allows Lula questioning
in Petrobras corruption case

Bush draws Democratic criticism
for 'stuff happens' comment

McCarthy as Speaker would not stop
California rail project-official

Scioli may have backing for
first-round Argentina vote win: poll

Nigeria's ex-oil minister Alison-Madueke
arrested in London: sources

Somalia hopes to redirect more
military in anti-militant fight: PM

Missouri governor commutes death
sentence for Kimber Edwards

Massachusetts priest who admitted
child rape to be released from prison

White House calls for investigation
into civilian deaths in Yemen

Oregon gunman may have killed
more if not for hero student

Obama says Clinton not 'half-baked'
for support of Syria no-fly zone

El Paso school buildings locked
down for about an hour, no one hurt

Obama says Biden has got his own
decisions to make about 2016 race

Five shot, one man killed in
Baltimore shooting: police

At U.N., Sudan accuses ICC
of targeting African leaders

Iran expels second-ranking
Bahraini diplomat in Tehran

Obama says American people should
decide about Bush comment on shooting

Bombed Syrian family lands in
France after long visa wait

Connecticut judge drops 1992
murder case against disabled man

FIFA sponsors Coca-Cola, McDonald's
call on Blatter to resign

Girlfriend of former U.S. treasure
hunter gets one month in jail

Lockdown at school area in El Paso
due to armed person on campus

Ukraine's Minsk process will
run into next year: Hollande

Oregon gunman in massacre had cache
of 13 weapons, U.S. agent says

Elderly Montana woman dies
from rare black bear attack

France's Hollande says Minsk process
will likely not conclude by year-end

Volkswagen starts telling customers
if affected by emissions scandal

Pope Francis met with
gay couple in U.S. visit

Big gulp: feeding strategy
of blue whales revealed

Oklahoma sheriff linked to fatal
shooting to step down on November 1

At least seven dead, 200 missing
after mudslide in Guatemala

Oklahoma court grants state's request
to halt 3 upcoming executions

Justice Department says St.
Louis County police must reform

Cleveland infant is third child
fatally shot in city in a month

Republican Chaffetz to campaign
for House speaker: Politico

Hurricane Joaquin batters Bahamas,
fate of cargo ship unknown

U.S. payday lending probe targets
Philadelphia-area businessman: records

Saudi Arabia signals easing of
tension with Islamist cleric

U.S., allies short on options as
Russia, Iran flex muscle in Syria

Tunisia lifts state of emergency
imposed after beach attack

U.S. Coast Guard searching for
ship near hurricane-hit Bahamas

Myanmar president is sued in U.S. over
alleged abuses of Rohingya Muslims

Sheriff vows never to
utter Oregon gunman's name

Republicans find governing tough,
even with control of Congress

United Airlines and maintenance
workers' union pause contract talks

ULA needs relief on Russian
engines before GPS launch bid: CEO

Sheriff withholds Oregon gunman's
name, refuses to immortalize him

Education Secretary Duncan steps down;
Obama picks deputy to replace him

Special Report: How a 5-minute phone call
put 9/11 trial on hold for more than a year

Police find no gunman after
reports at Virginia university

Colombian rebels want text
of peace deal made public

Stocks fall, bonds climb
after weak U.S. jobs report

Yemen govt. spokesman denies
severing of ties with Iran

Boko Haram fighters kill two Niger
soldiers, wound four in ambush

Possible armed person on university
campus in Virginia: school

Baltimore man charged in liquor
store fire during April riot

In Mississippi, 'last Democrat
in Dixie' fights to survive

Hungary joins other NATO
allies to host command center

Portugal election race points to
minority government, uncertainty

Four injured at Houston-area
chemical plant fire

'Sense of regret' in Vatican over pope
meeting with gay marriage opponent

Killer captured after mistaken
release from Louisiana jail

Oregon sheriff won't 'glorify'
mass killing by naming gunman

Saudi Arabia deters bid for U.N.
human rights probe in Yemen

U.S. job growth stumbles,
raising doubts on economy

After Kunduz rout, Afghan army
and police blame each other

U.S., Australia committed to finishing
Pacific trade pact talks soon: White House

General Electric producing
science fiction podcast series

Hurricane pounds Bahamas, unlikely
to be big threat to U.S. East

Yemeni government cuts
relations with Iran: state TV

Two children seeking stars vandalized
Soviet graves, Poland says

Frosty faces as Hollande, Putin
discuss differences over Syria

Deadly Russian rocket system
spotted in Ukraine for first time

U.S. rate outlook in
focus as jobs data loom

Russia mainly bombing Syria
insurgents, not Islamic State

Search begins for aircraft
carrying 10 people in Indonesia

Finland raises 2015 forecast
for asylum seekers to 50,000

British boy, 15, gets life sentence for
inciting Anzac Day attack in Australia

Oregon town reels from
classroom carnage

Student-built solar motorbikes
hit the road in Kenya

'Who will pay for that?' - migrants
clog east Europe trade routes

Atlas rocket blasts off with
Mexican communications satellite

Hungarian church thanks God,
government for fending off migrants

Job growth, Fed
hike expected

Despair, hardship as Iraq cuts
off wages in Islamic State cities

Pope did not give unconditional support
to clerk in gay marriage row: Vatican

China serial blasts suspect
killed in explosion: Xinhua

Violence in refugee homes could
spiral: German police union chief

Russia carries out new round of air
strikes in Syria, hitting 12 targets

UNHCR says weather causes lull
in refugee arrivals in Greece

Turkey detains 44 people in raids
targeting Kurdish militants: media

Warplanes, believed Russian,
bomb IS-held town in Syria

Sydney cordons off
streets after shootings

Air strikes in Syria to last
three-four months: Russia

One in five of PM Cameron's lawmakers
likely to back 'Brexit': Open Europe

Taliban hold out in northern Afghan
city, district in northeast falls

Job growth seen accelerating,
leaving Fed closer to hike

U.S. anti-abortion activist to be deported
after losing appeal to enter Australia

Asia stocks to post tiny
weekly gains; Hong Kong leads

Oil bust saps U.S. students'
enthusiasm for petroleum degrees

Drought woes in California town
highlight thirsty poultry industry

Hurricane batters Bahamas before
likely heading up U.S. East Coast

Asian stocks set to end week
on high note, outlook wary

Virginia serial killer executed
by lethal injection: reports

L.A. prosecutors reviewing
evidence against Bill Cosby

U.S. courts reject Virginia
killer's bids to avoid execution

Republican candidate Kasich to
call for no-fly zones in Syria

U.S. military plane crashes
in Afghanistan, kills 11

Gunman kills nine at Oregon college,
dies in shootout with police

Millions of T-Mobile customers
exposed in Experian breach

Appeals court rejects bid to halt
execution of Virginia killer

Teen son arrested for murder in
California foothill fire deaths

Senators blast cost increases
on U.S. Navy aircraft carrier

Asian shares, dollar sag on
caution before U.S. payrolls

Deadly piglet virus may have entered
U.S. on 'reusable' feed bags: USDA

Moon Express contracts Rocket Lab for
launches to land spacecraft on the moon

Chicago businesses brace for
potential doubling of property taxes

Gunman opens fire at
Oregon college, 10 killed

Two men found guilty of murdering
U.S. Border Patrol agent

Double trouble: asteroid, volcanoes
implicated in dinosaur doom

Facebook fans make Republican candidate
Ben Carson a fundraising star

Substance found to curb fuel fireballs
from air and vehicle crashes

Morocco eyes boycott of Swedish
companies over Western Sahara

New York aims to rein in Times Square's
costumed characters, topless women

Hurricane Joaquin strengthens
but threat to U.S. lessens

Texas mother arrested for leaving
five children in feces-strewn home

EU antitrust chief says Apple,
Google cases show no U.S. bias

American transport plane crashes
in Afghanistan: U.S. official

U.S. judge lifts order halting
execution of Virginia serial killer

UAW rejects Fiat Chrysler
contract; strikes loom

Republican Paul's quarterly
fundraising slows to $2.5 million

House Benghazi panel may have
broken ethics rules: Pelosi

Volkswagen says emission scandal
investigations to take months

Black women booted from California
wine train sue for discrimination

Difficult to buy a gun in
China, but not explosives

Rising Rakhine party looming threat
to Myanmar's Muslim minority

Lawyers for Virginia serial
killer seek halt to execution

Germany wants migrants with no hope
of asylum to be turned away at border

Treasury's Lew says U.S. will hit
debt ceiling around November 5

Texas man gets life term for
1968 Pennsylvania murder

Israel's Netanyahu launches all-out
assault on Iran deal at U.N.

Texas, top state for executions, may go a
year without a death penalty conviction

Islamic State militants attack forces
guarding Libya oil port: official

75 percent of Republicans 'less likely'
to vote for Muslim: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Colombia's FARC leader
halts rebel combat training

Oklahoma seeks to halt three
executions after drug mix-up

Senators propose sentencing reform
to reduce prison overcrowding

Colorado police seek man filmed
igniting fireball at bank

Clinton says to boost city, state
funds for addiction treatment

U.S. to curb smog but EPA
stops short of toughest limits

Israel vows at U.N. never to allow
Iran to join 'nuclear weapons club'

House passes sweeping defense policy
bill; measure's future is cloudy

Israeli couple killed in West
Bank shooting: officials

India rejects Pakistan peace plan;
calls for revival of terrorism talks

Multiple fatalities, wounded as
gunman opens fire at Oregon college

Republican Paul raises $2.5 million
for presidential bid: Washington Post

Lawmakers push measures to
influence Iran nuclear deal

Oklahoma Republicans offer home
to Ten Commandments monument

Afghan forces push into Taliban-held
Kunduz city amid fierce clashes

Spain shores up legal powers
to prevent Catalan breakaway

Lockheed-Boeing rocket firm
poised for rare commercial launch

No death penalty decision as
trial delayed in church massacre

Oklahoma seeks indefinite halt on
three executions, including Glossip

Multiple deaths and injuries
after shooting at Oregon college

New York police to document every
single officer use of force

Cyprus president says
window for deal exists

Fifteen dead, 20 wounded in
shooting at Oregon college: media

Two Israelis shot dead
in West Bank: military

Teen charged in Pennsylvania
stabbing spree moved to adult lockup

Hurricane Joaquin intensifies
but U.S. landfall not certain

Federal appeals court hears
arguments on Wisconsin abortion law

Bahrain withdraws ambassador from
Iran after bomb-factory find

Govt. shutdown threat is a fixture of
U.S. politics but unknown elsewhere

Obama confident in Secret Service
despite latest incident: White House

EPA says 'likely' recall
of VW diesel cars

Yemeni government, Saudi-led
forces retake Red Sea strait

South Dakota student charged with
attempted murder of principal

Suit against maker of gun used in
Newtown attack sent back to state court

Former peanut plant managers get
prison time in salmonella outbreak

South Africa's new visa rules costs tourism
industry $540 million in annual revenue

West Virginia trial starts for
mine exec in deadly 2010 blast

U.S. to issue tighter
smog standards: sources

Accused Arizona highway
shooter pleads not guilty

U.S. factories show vulnerability
to chill in global economy

Police consultant to monitor
changes to Cleveland department

California met water conservation
goals for August, state says

Burkina Faso coup leader handed
over to government: sources

Afghan refugees languish in
Athens far from 'promised land'

Senate panel passes bill to
lift U.S. oil export ban

Hovercraft-riding moose hunter's
case gets Supreme Court review

Suprme Court to examine judge's role
in Pennsylvania death penalty case

Croatia court orders retrial of former
PM Sanader after graft conviction

Illinois policeman fatally
shot with his own gun: police

Eye of Hurricane Joaquin passing
over Samana Cay, Bahamas: NHC

U.S. national smog limits to
be released Thursday: sources

Merkel's popularity slides to
four-year low amid refugee crisis

Hurricane Joaquin gains strength;
risk of landfall in U.S.

Iran troops to join Syria war,
Russia bombs group trained by CIA

Powerball ticket worth $310.5
million sold in Michigan

White House issues veto threat for
Senate military construction bill

Syria and Ukraine: two fronts
in Russian war for influence

Migrants face new diversion as Hungary
prepares to seal Croatia border

Norway must hike defense to counter
Russian build-up: military chief

Supreme Court to hear Iran central
bank appeal of $1.75 billion judgment

Afghan forces recapture city center
amid fierce clashes with Taliban

Mounting extortion plagues
shopkeepers in violent Venezuela

Assad allies, including Iranians,
prepare ground attack in Syria: sources

Pakistan's Sharif urges formalized
Kashmir truce with India

Hurricane Joaquin could hit
New York early next week

Normal ties between Iran and U.S.
unlikely despite nuclear deal

Assault on Thai government
websites 'symbolic', minister says

Democrat Sanders raises $26 million in last
three months in presidential bid: MSNBC

U.S. led 21 air strikes in Iraq, one in
Syria against Islamic State: statement

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