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US says recordings of Ukraine rebels admitting MH17 downing ‘authentic’

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Alleged intercepted phone conversations released by Ukraine’s security service of pro-Russian rebels discussing how they shot down Malaysian airliner MH17 are genuine, the US embassy in Kiev said Sunday.

Ukraine’s SBU security agency on Thursday released recordings of what it claimed were phone talks involving rebels and a Russian military intelligence officer admitting that they had hit the passenger jet after mistaking it for a military aircraft.

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The recordings were presented as key evidence to back up Kiev’s claims that rebels — supported by Russia — downed the jet while the separatists accused Ukraine’s army of being responsible.

“Audio data provided to the press by the Ukrainian security service was evaluated by Intelligence Community analysts who confirmed these were authentic conversations between known separatist leaders,” the US embassy in Ukraine said in a statement.

In one of the recordings a rebel commander nicknamed the “Major” says rebels shot down the plane and tells a disbelieving comrade that the jet is “100 percent a civilian aircraft.”

On Sunday Ukraine’s security agency released a fresh batch of alleged leaked conversations of rebels organising to hide the flight’s black boxes from international monitors at the crash site.


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Israeli jets strike targets in Syria after attempted attack in Golan Heights

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Israel launched air strikes on Syrian military targets in southern Syria late Monday, after thwarting an attack near the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights.

In Damascus, the state-run news agency Sana said Israeli helicopters rocketed Syrian army positions near Quneitra in the south but caused only material damage. It also said air defences had gone into action near the Syrian capital.

The Israeli army said its fighters jets, attack helicopters and other warplanes struck Syrian army positions in retaliation for the attempt to lay explosives in the Golan Heights.

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COVID-19

Tears and anguish as Melbourne sinks further into lockdown

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When Katherine Reed heard Melbourne's virus-inflicted lockdown would be tightened and extend for six more weeks, she began to cry.

The 32-year-old lives alone and has been working at home since March, when the southern hemisphere summer turned to autumn.

Like millions of others living in Australia's second city she now faces at least another six weeks of winter isolation.

"I understand the increased lockdown," she said, lamenting "cruel and misguided" rules that allow partners, but not friends, to visit.

From the start of this world-enveloping pandemic, experts had warned there would be bad times and good, setbacks and advances in bringing the virus to heel.

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Trump embraces a poisonous view of the Jewish people as the world sees a startling rise in anti-Semitism

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It’s the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. When Japan signed the instruments of surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, it was the last of a series of notable events that took place that year.

The first was the liberation, on Jan. 27, 1945, of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of the extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany, imperial Japan’s Axis ally.

Post-Holocaust, the fervent credo of a Jewish community that witnessed approximately six million of its numbers perish in under five years — half of all European Jews and more than a third of Jews worldwide — has been “Never again!”

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