Court approves $85bn AT&T purchase of Time Warner

The merger was announced in late 2016, but has been challenged in by the Department of Justice last November. On Tuesday, US District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled against the government, allowing the deal worth an estimated $85 billion to go ahead.

AT&T argued the acquisition would enable the company to reinvent itself in the age of streaming media, delivering television content to cell phones and other mobile devices. With the data it gathers from the devices, including computers and smart TVs, AT&T also plans to build a targeted advertising empire, according to the Washington Post.

This is precisely the kind of nightmare scenario advocates of Net Neutrality pointed to in alarm, with internet providers being in position to prioritize their own content and throttle that of rival companies. Net Neutrality regulations imposed by the Obama administration in 2015 were overturned by the FCC in December. That ruling went into effect on Monday.

The acquisition is also expected to trigger an avalanche of other mergers and takeovers. Cell service providers T-Mobile and Sprint have already announced the intent to merge. Comcast (which owns NBC) and Disney (owners of ABC) are poised for a bidding war over cable networks, film and TV studios of 21st Century Fox. That deal would exclude Fox News, however.

Source Article from http://govtslaves.info/2018/06/court-approves-85bn-att-purchase-of-time-warner/

Court approves $85bn AT&T purchase of Time Warner

The merger was announced in late 2016, but has been challenged in by the Department of Justice last November. On Tuesday, US District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled against the government, allowing the deal worth an estimated $85 billion to go ahead.

AT&T argued the acquisition would enable the company to reinvent itself in the age of streaming media, delivering television content to cell phones and other mobile devices. With the data it gathers from the devices, including computers and smart TVs, AT&T also plans to build a targeted advertising empire, according to the Washington Post.

This is precisely the kind of nightmare scenario advocates of Net Neutrality pointed to in alarm, with internet providers being in position to prioritize their own content and throttle that of rival companies. Net Neutrality regulations imposed by the Obama administration in 2015 were overturned by the FCC in December. That ruling went into effect on Monday.

The acquisition is also expected to trigger an avalanche of other mergers and takeovers. Cell service providers T-Mobile and Sprint have already announced the intent to merge. Comcast (which owns NBC) and Disney (owners of ABC) are poised for a bidding war over cable networks, film and TV studios of 21st Century Fox. That deal would exclude Fox News, however.

Source Article from http://govtslaves.info/2018/06/court-approves-85bn-att-purchase-of-time-warner/

Trump Announces Support For Arming Teachers, Backpedals On Gun Purchase Age

The White House announced support Sunday for firearms training for some teachers to protect schools, and has backed off an earlier call by President Donald Trump to raise the age individuals can purchase assault-style weapons from 18 to 21.

The series of proposals generally fall in line with what the National Rifle Association supports in the wake of the massacre last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people.

On Monday morning, Trump reiterated the proposals in a series of tweets. He defended his plan to allow “highly trained expert teachers” in schools, also saying that “armed guards [are] OK,” calling them a “deterrent!”

Regarding raising the minimum gun purchase age to 21, he deferred to state lawmakers, claiming that there is “not much political support (to put it mildly).” The NRA opposes the measure.

The nation’s largest teachers lobby, the National Education Association, is adamantly opposed to Trump and the NRA’s controversial initiative to arm teachers. An armed teacher in Georgia last month fired his handgun after he barricaded himself in a high school classroom, where he was eventually arrested by police. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre touted arming teachers in a speech last month to the Conservative Political Action Conference. The White House plan would involve funding to provide weapons training for teachers.

Trump’s apparent reversal from proposing to raise the age young people can buy military assault-style weapons like the AR-15 that was used in the Parkland school shooting is a startling turnaround. It comes just weeks after he taunted legislators, saying that they were “afraid of the NRA,” while he was not. Trump specifically asked Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) if the senator had left raising the minimum age for gun purchases out of his bill strengthening background checks because senators “are afraid of the NRA.” 

Last month, Trump said in a meeting with legislators: “Now, this is not a popular thing to say, in terms of the NRA. But I’m saying it anyway. You can’t buy [a handgun until] until you’re 21. But you can buy the kind of weapon used in the school shooting at 18. I think it’s something you have to think about.”

On Friday, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott — a longtime NRA member — signed a bill into law raising the minimum age for all gun purchase from 18 to 21. But the NRA almost immediately sued to block the law and protect the “constitutional rights” of would-be gun buyers under the age of 21. The state’s controversial “guardian program” — opposed by the Florida Education Association — will allow some school employees and teachers to carry handguns with law enforcement training if a school district agrees to participate in the program.

The White House guns plan also includes support for a bill, known as the “Fix NICS” measure, designed to improve background checks for gun purchases. But it does not contain universal background checks, which would be far more effective. 

“Fix NICS” is a bill sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to bolster the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by improving the flow of information into it from states and various federal agencies. But the measure is far less ambitious than universal background checks, which would include private sales, such as those that often occur at gun shows.

The White House announced that the president is establishing a federal commission on school safety, to be chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, that will explore possible solutions to school shootings. It may consider the age young people can purchase guns, the Washington Post reported Sunday. But nothing in the current White House proposals address raising the minimum age for buyers.

DeVos called the proposals a “pragmatic plan” to increase school safety, the Post reported.

Several Democrats slammed the proposals. “This plan is weak on security and an insult to the victims of gun violence,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said in a statement. “When it comes to keeping our families safe, it’s clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are all talk and no action.”

Related:

For more news videos visit Yahoo View.

This story has been updated with Trump’s tweets on Monday morning.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Source Article from https://www.yahoo.com/news/white-house-announces-support-arming-015319758.html

Goldman Will Soon Finance Your iPhone Purchase

Two weeks after Goldman reported its worst revenue growth in two years – driven by a 50% plunge in bond trading – the push by the FDIC-backed hedge fund, which has realized that traditional trading just won’t cut it any more in a low vol world – into traditional banking and consumer finance reached a new milestone when the WSJ reported that the investment bank, which famously evaded responsibility for its role in disseminating toxic mortgage securities, is in talks to provide financing for iPhone purchases. 

This would mean customers purchasing a $1,000 iPhone X could soon take out a loan from Goldman’s recently launched consumer loan unit, Marcus, instead of charging it to credit cards that often carry far high interest rates.

And with interest rates climbing and consumer revolving credit – a fancy term for credit-card debt – reaching all time highs, according to the latest data, the competition to offer affordable loans is intensifying.

goldman

While talks between the companies are reportedly still in progress – and the deal could still fall apart – the deal would be a crucial victory for Goldman as it struggles with falling trading revenues thanks to the unprecedented placidity across markets due to post-crisis centrally planned markets (though if the turbulence from earlier this week proves resilient, traders could find themselves back on top of the bonus pool).

Goldman’s retail-banking push began in 2015, when it became an FDIC-insured lender capable of accepting customer deposits by acquiring GE Capital Bank’s online deposit platform, including $8 billion in online checking deposits and $8 billion in brokered CDs – thereby providing Goldman with a virtually costless source of $16 billion in funds. It since launched other consumer-facing products, like Marcus, an online credit-card refinancing tool.

The partnership would be a coup for Goldman as it tries to grow its new consumer bank. Better known as an elite adviser to corporations and governments, Goldman is embracing retail banking and plain-vanilla lending in pursuit of growth as some traditional areas of strengths, namely trading, slump.

In 2016 Goldman launched Marcus, an online lender that helps people refinance credit-card debt. The firm is now building a “point-of-sale” financing business that will offer loans to shoppers at checkout, according to people familiar with the firm—effectively finding those customers one step earlier.

This combination of consumer offerings verges on deviousness: First, Goldman’s Marcus tool can help you refinance your credit card debt; then Goldman will help you plunge right back in with a “low-interest, don’t-miss” financing offer for that shiny new phone.

Per WSJ, shoppers in 2017 borrowed more than $200 billion using retailer-affiliated credit cards or point-of-sale loans, consulting firm First Annapolis estimates. Some $80 billion of that was spent on big-ticket items like furniture and electronics, which can take months to pay off, all the while accruing interest charges.

By offering a lower-cost loan, Goldman hopes to siphon off some of that business. Partnering with a consumer-tech giant like Apple would almost certainly bring in millions of customers that Goldman wouldn’t have had otherwise.

That said, this wouldn’t be the first time Apple partnered with a bank to offer zero-interest loans on upgrades and “other options” on different devices. And as Tim Cook reminded us, even though the “sticker shock” from the iPhone X could be daunting, consumers should think of it more like giving up “a few coffees a week.”

Apple introduced a program in 2015 with Citizens Financial Group Inc., in which the regional bank offered zero-interest loans for iPhone upgrades and higher-interest options for other device purchases. Part of Goldman’s talks with Apple involves taking over some form of the upgrade program. It is unclear whether anything will change with the handling of the outstanding Citizens loans. The Providence, R.I.-based bank didn’t have an immediate comment.

The program started as wireless providers were scaling back subsidies for iPhones. It allows customers to pay for a new iPhone with a 24-month financing plan and upgrade to a new device after making 12 payments, a strategy that helps keep customers coming back for the newest models.

For Apple, the upgrade program is taking on increasing importance as its high-priced devices create sticker shock for some. Facing questions about the affordability of the new $1,000 iPhone, Chief Executive Tim Cook said it works out to $33 a month. “That’s a few coffees a week,” he told analysts during an earnings call in November.

Goldman’s move into online consumer banking also puts it at odds with fintech companies like Affirm Inc., which also provides consumer credit online.

While consumer banking is subject to myriad more consumer protections, the death of the CFPB could make it easier for lenders to take advantage of their customers. The question now is, will the Vampire Squid treat regular Americans with the same ruthlessness that it treats its corporate clients?

To be sure, the deal is a two-way street: by pursuing this transaction, Apple is confirming sales are slowing, and the company is seeking to boost sales at any APR as that “sticker shock” we mentioned above has apparently convinced its legions of loyal customers to hold on to their old devices for just a little bit longer, despite Apple’s questionable practice of deliberately slowing down older phones, which recently attracted the scrutiny of federal investigators.

Source Article from https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-02-07/goldman-talks-finance-iphone-purchases

Pakistan to purchase weapons from China and Russia after Trump suspends military aid to Islamabad

russia china pakistan

    

President Trump’s decision to ring the New Year by simultaneously demonizing Pakistan on Twitter has mostly backfired.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Pakistan’s defense minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said Pakistan is expanding its relationships with Russia and China, as relations with Washington deteriorate following the suspension over $2 billion in military aid to Islamabad.

Khan said is his government is undergoing a “regional recalibration of Pakistan’s foreign and security policy,” which implies Pakistani defense forces will be buying military weapons from Russia and China, rather than the United States.

“The fact that we have recalibrated our way towards better relations with Russia, deepening our relationship with China, is a response to what the Americans have been doing,” Khan stated.

Khan’s comments to the Financial Times came three weeks after Beijing announced it would be building its second foreign military base near the Gwadar Port, in the Pakistani province of Balochistan.

Plans call for the Jiwani base to be a joint naval and air facility for Chinese forces, located a short distance up the coast from the Chinese-built commercial port facility at Gwadar, Pakistan. Both Gwadar and Jiwani are part of Pakistan’s western Baluchistan province.

The large naval and air base will require the Pakistani government to relocate scores of residents living in the area. Plans call for their relocation to other areas of Jiwani or further inland in Baluchistan province.

The Chinese also asked the Pakistanis to undertake a major upgrade of Jiwani airport so the facility will be able to handle large Chinese military aircraft.

Work on the airport improvements is expected to begin in July.

The naval base and airfield will occupy nearly the entire strategic peninsula.

silk road pakistan

    

Khan made it clear that Pakistan started the “recalibration” process three years ago when it began buying Russian helicopters. He indicates this is not a new trend, but the recent actions by President Trump have certainly spurred Pakistan to gravitate towards Russia and China for defense weapons.

Tensions between the US and Pakistan are the worst point ever in its 70 years of friendship. Khan stressed that Pakistan has many similar goals with Washington, but “lately the focus has been on areas of divergence”.

“We have already bought some Russian helicopters in the past three years,” he said. “This is what we call a regional recalibration of Pakistan’s foreign and security policy. It is because of the unfortunate choice the United States continues to make.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. said it would suspend the security assistance program to Pakistan worth $2 billion because the country has failed to combat terrorism within its borders.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” President Donald Trump tweeted in earlier January.

Khan called Trump’s tweets “deeply offensive” and “counterproductive.”

Khan further added: “It is unfortunate that we are even discussing the numbers [the amount of aid] while Afghanistan slowly spirals out of the American and Afghan control.”

Khan notes that the backbone of the Pakistan air force is the General Dynamics’ F-16 Fighting Falcon of the U.S., which Khan said Islamabad has been received spare parts from Washington in two years.

“We are using our own ingenuity and using other sources to keep the fleet up in the air,” he said. “It has been very difficult.”

Considering Washington’s neglect in sending parts for Pakistan’s F-16s, Khan said he is open for dialogue with Russia on the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet.

About nine days after President Trump’s tweet, Khan declared that military and intelligence cooperation with the United States would be suspended.

Interestingly enough, both Beijing and Moscow issued strong statements in support of Pakistan after Trump unleashed fire and furry on Twitter.

“We must value Pakistan’s important role on the Afghanistan issue, and respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and reasonable security concerns,” China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over the telephone, according to Chinese media.

And lastly, this might be the bombshell, “The fact that we have recalibrated our way towards better relations with Russia, deepening our relationship with China, is a response to what the Americans have been doing. And they have their own reasons. They want to use India, in our view, to contain China,” Khan said.

Source Article from https://www.sott.net/article/375989-Pakistan-to-purchase-weapons-from-China-and-Russia-after-Trump-suspends-military-aid-to-Islamabad

LA’s journey to 100% electric bus fleet moves forward with purchase of 25 Proterra buses

Los Angeles aims to deploy an all-electric bus fleet by 2030, and has agreed to purchase 25 electric buses from Proterra for delivery in 2019.

Although much of the attention on electric mobility tends to focus on electric cars, powering buses, trucks, and delivery vehicles with electricity could also have a big impact on reducing local air pollution. Even if it’s not considered as cool to ride an electric bus than to drive a Tesla, buses are much more efficient in not only the utilization of space on the road, but also in terms of fuel-efficiency (as measured in Person-Miles Per Gallon (PMPG)), so with a switch to electric buses, which are less susceptible to volatile fuel prices and have lower maintenance costs, cities can actually save energy and money while reducing emissions.

Although up-front costs (purchase price) are higher with an electric bus, some studies (PDF) have shown that lower “fuel” and maintenance costs account for a savings of $40,000+ per year, and that these zero emissions vehicles can also provide a “healthcare savings” of some $150,000 per bus because of reduced nitric oxide and particulate matter emissions.

The latest move from the City of Los Angeles, which has already seen regional forays into electrified transit solutions, will see 25 of Proterra’s 35-foot Catalyst electric buses go into service for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation in 2019, for an estimated savings of some $11 million over the 12-year lifespan of those vehicles. This is in line with LA’s recent decision to sign on to a commitment to only purchase zero-emission buses beginning in 2025, and the 25 new Proterra buses will represent a significant part of the city’s current 359-vehicle bus fleet.

According to Proterra, its buses are “far more economical” than conventional ones, with “the potential to achieve over $450,000 in operational savings per vehicle over 12 years” due to lower fuel costs and “significantly lower year-over-year maintenance costs.” The purchase of the new Proterra buses is underwritten in part by funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Grants (Low-No), which is intended “for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses” and their infrastructure.

Source Article from https://www.treehugger.com/public-transportation/la-journey-100-electric-bus-fleet-purchase-25-proterra-buses.html

LA’s journey to 100% electric bus fleet moves forward with purchase of 25 Proterra buses

Los Angeles aims to deploy an all-electric bus fleet by 2030, and has agreed to purchase 25 electric buses from Proterra for delivery in 2019.

Although much of the attention on electric mobility tends to focus on electric cars, powering buses, trucks, and delivery vehicles with electricity could also have a big impact on reducing local air pollution. Even if it’s not considered as cool to ride an electric bus than to drive a Tesla, buses are much more efficient in not only the utilization of space on the road, but also in terms of fuel-efficiency (as measured in Person-Miles Per Gallon (PMPG)), so with a switch to electric buses, which are less susceptible to volatile fuel prices and have lower maintenance costs, cities can actually save energy and money while reducing emissions.

Although up-front costs (purchase price) are higher with an electric bus, some studies (PDF) have shown that lower “fuel” and maintenance costs account for a savings of $40,000+ per year, and that these zero emissions vehicles can also provide a “healthcare savings” of some $150,000 per bus because of reduced nitric oxide and particulate matter emissions.

The latest move from the City of Los Angeles, which has already seen regional forays into electrified transit solutions, will see 25 of Proterra’s 35-foot Catalyst electric buses go into service for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation in 2019, for an estimated savings of some $11 million over the 12-year lifespan of those vehicles. This is in line with LA’s recent decision to sign on to a commitment to only purchase zero-emission buses beginning in 2025, and the 25 new Proterra buses will represent a significant part of the city’s current 359-vehicle bus fleet.

According to Proterra, its buses are “far more economical” than conventional ones, with “the potential to achieve over $450,000 in operational savings per vehicle over 12 years” due to lower fuel costs and “significantly lower year-over-year maintenance costs.” The purchase of the new Proterra buses is underwritten in part by funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Grants (Low-No), which is intended “for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses” and their infrastructure.

Source Article from https://www.treehugger.com/public-transportation/la-journey-100-electric-bus-fleet-purchase-25-proterra-buses.html

Re: Saudi Crown Prince slammed for purchase of ‘un-Islamic’ painting

Activists and scholars have criticised Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, for purchasing Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi at a record $450 million last month.

The critics argued that the sale process and price, which is believed to be three times higher than the anticipated value, come at an awkward time as the Kingdom, led by the prince himself, launched a mass anti-corruption campaign against hundreds of princes, former lawmarkers and businessmen.

Algerian human rights activist and former diplomat, Mohamed Larbi Zitout, wrote on Twitter: “How much money does one have to have to pay this much for a painting and where did he get it from?”

“What is the Islamic ruling on such a deal according to the clerics of the two Holy Mosques?” he added in reference to Saudi clerics.

Read: Saudi Crown Prince splashed $0.5bn on Jesus painting

Some reports accused the Saudi Crown Prince of using the auction to launder money, while others criticised the purchase of a painting which depicts a prophet, in contravention of the teachings of Islam.

On Friday, the Saudi embassy in Washington issued a statement denying media report that the Crown Prince was the painting’s ultimate buyer.

The embassy said in its statement said that Prince Bader has been a supporter of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and that on 8 November, at the Louvre’s opening ceremony, the Department of Culture and Tourism approached the prince and asked him to act as an “intermediary purchaser”.



Source Article from https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171211-saudi-crown-prince-slammed-purchase-of-un-islamic-painting/#comment-3658503608

President Erdogan Of Turkey Finalizes Purchase Of Russian Air Defense System

The S400 surface to air missile system is Russia’s most advanced air defense system [Xinhua]

Russia and Turkey on Friday signed an agreement which has Ankara make a down payment on an advanced anti-missile air defense system.

Turkey had previously indicated that it was interested in buying the Russian S-400 anti-missile air defense system to boost its air defense stature.

An agreement was reached between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart in April, but the price tag was still in negotiation then. The deal was finalized on September 12.

“The contract has entered into force, the advance payment has been made, I cannot say about the timeframe now,” Vladimir Kozhin, an aid to Russian President Vladimir Putin who is on a trip to Turkey, said on Friday.

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Turkish Undersecretary for Defense Industry Ismail Demir told the Russian news agency TASS that the delivery of the air defense system would begin within two years.

Putin arrived in Ankara late Thursday and met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss latest developments in Syria and the Kurdish referendum on independence in Iraq.

According to diplomats from both sides, the two leaders discussed means to protect the de-escalation zones in northern Syria, particularly in Idlib province.

Last week, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that it had to send in special forces to evacuate Russian police who had come under ambush by the Al Nusra extremist rebel group while patrolling Idlib.

The S-400 is believed to be able to engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft and VLO (Very Low Observable) craft.

The S-400s popularity lies in the fact it can shield from air strikes and neutralise drones as well as strategic, cruise, tactical and operating tactical ballistic missiles and medium-range ballistic missiles within a range of 400 kms up to an altitude of close to 32 kms.

The S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defence missile systems is equipped with three different types of missiles and an acquisition radar capable of tracking up to 300 targets within the range of nearly 600 kms.

Triumf is a system made of eight launchers and a control station.

Turkey follows China (in 2015) and India (in 2016) as major customers for the S-400.

The BRICS Post

Russia Upgrading S-400 Missile Air Defense In Syria

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Source Article from https://politicalvelcraft.org/2017/09/29/president-erdogan-of-turkey-finalizes-purchase-of-russian-air-defense-system/

‘What did they expect?’ Erdogan rebukes NATO critics over purchase of Russian S-400

“They have gone crazy because we made a deal for S-400s,” Erdoğan said Wednesday in a speech to the ruling AKP mayors in Ankara, as cited by ‘Hurriyet’.

“What do you expect? Should we wait for you? We take care of ourselves in every security point. We are taking precautions and we will continue to do so,” the Turkish leader said.

He cited the reluctance of US and Israel to authorize supply of combat drones to Turkey as another example of how Turkish security was sidelined by its allies.

“When they did give [drones], their repair and maintenance put us in a difficult position. Now this country [Turkey] has come to a point where it can produce its own unmanned, armed air vehicles. And now they are uncomfortable with that,” Erdoğan added.

Earlier on Tuesday both Ankara and Moscow confirmed that the contract of supply to Turkey of Russian-made S-400 air defense systems has progressed after Turkey paid a first installment under the deal. The Pentagon reiterated its concerns over the deal, which, it says, undermines inter-operability of weapons systems among NATO allies.

“We have relayed our concerns to Turkish officials regarding the potential purchase of the S-400. A NATO inter-operable missile defense system remains the best option to defend Turkey from the full range of threats in its region,” spokesman Johnny Michael said in a statement.

Turkey has been weighing options for acquiring long-range SAMs for years. In 2013, Ankara surprised other NATO members by announcing that it was going to purchase the FD-2000 system from China, sparking criticism from Washington. Defense observers speculated that Turkey played the China card to put pressure on its allies and get better terms for buying a NATO-compatible SAM system, such as the US-made Patriot PAC-3.

The Chinese deal stalled and was eventually scrapped, with Turkey reportedly unhappy over Beijing’s reluctance to hand over the technology behind the advanced system. Last year Ankara announced that it was in talks with Russia over a potential purchase of the S-400.

The announcement came amid souring relations between Ankara and Washington, which chose to support Kurdish militias in neighboring Syria and Iraq, disregarding the Turkish perception of Kurdish troops as a threat to its national security. As the dispute unfolded, the US in 2015 withdrew its Patriot missiles from Turkey’s border with Syria after a two-year deployment.

According to reports in the Russian media, Turkey is to get four batteries of S-400 launchers complete with targeting radar and control posts. Some aspects of the deal are reportedly to be finalized, but Russian officials said the contract furthers Russia’s geostrategic interests.

Source Article from https://www.rt.com/news/403192-erdogan-pentagon-russian-sam/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS