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Pentagon chief Jim Mattis: Russia does not want to be our friend

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday there was no indication that Russia wanted a positive relationship with the United States, saying it had chosen to be a strategic competitor.

“At this time … I do not see any indication that Mr. Putin would want a positive relationship with us. That is not to say we can’t get there as we look for common ground,” Mattis told a House Armed Services Committee hearing, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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“But at this point, he has chosen to be competitive, a strategic competitor with us and we will have to deal with that as we see it,” he said.

Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that the United States had an adversarial relationship with Russia.

Russia and the United States have a number of diverging interests, including in Syria.

Russia said on Saturday it had told the United States it was unacceptable for Washington to strike pro-government forces in Syria after the U.S. military carried out air strikes on pro-Syrian government militia.

U.S. senators said on Monday they were close to an agreement on legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, including a possible provision that would prevent the White House from easing sanctions without congressional approval.

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Democrats and Republicans on the Foreign Relations and Banking Committees have been negotiating for about a week on an amendment to an Iran sanctions bill that also would impose sanctions to punish Russia over issues including its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and support for the government of Syria in that country’s six-year-long civil war.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Mike Stone; Editing by Peter Cooney and Bill Trott)

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How can honest people possibly be bored by impeachment hearings?

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Some of you know I used to teach a course at Yale on the history of presidential campaign reporting. My students read classics like The Making of the President (the 1960 election), Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail (1972), What It Takes (1988), and McCain’s Promise (2000, based on David Foster Wallace’s long essay “Up, Simba”).

This article was originally published at The Editorial Board

For background, I read other books, like Game Change (2008), Double Down (2012) and even 08 (a graphic novel rendering of Michael Crowley’s trail diary). When reading the books as a canon, one thing I noticed—actually, I could hardly avoid noticing—is that campaign coverage increasingly became writing about campaign coverage itself.

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House impeachment inquiry may help restore the political and social norms that Trump flouts

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President Donald Trump regularly uses blatant violations of long-established social and political norms to signal his “authenticity” to supporters.

Asking foreign countries to investigate and deliver dirt on his political opponents, which prompted an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House of Representatives, is the most recent example in a long string of norm-shattering behaviors. Other examples of flouting the standards of his presidential office include defending white nationalists, attacking prisoners of war, abusing the use of emergency powers, personally criticizing federal judges and much more.

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Study on quantum mechanics suggests objective reality doesn’t exist

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Alternative facts are spreading like a virus across society. Now it seems they have even infected science – at least the quantum realm. This may seem counter intuitive. The scientific method is after all founded on the reliable notions of observation, measurement and repeatability. A fact, as established by a measurement, should be objective, such that all observers can agree with it.

But in a paper recently published in Science Advances, we show that, in the micro-world of atoms and particles that is governed by the strange rules of quantum mechanics, two different observers are entitled to their own facts. In other words, according to our best theory of the building blocks of nature itself, facts can actually be subjective.

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