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Florida factory worker fired for talking to TV station about letter from boss warning of layoffs if

RT

A Florida man has reportedly been sacked by Daniels Manufacturing Corp. (DMC), a maker of aircraft and aerospace tools, after speaking to a news outlet about his boss warning of job cuts if Joe Biden is elected president.

The man, Stan Smith, told Orlando's NBC affiliate (WESH 2 News) that he was fired Thursday, presumably because DMC President George Daniels didn't like his comments to the station earlier this week. Smith told WESH on Oct. 19 that a letter from Daniels saying permanent layoffs would likely be necessary in the event Biden wins the Nov. 3 election was inappropriate.

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"It's not about intimidating, it's about everybody has a choice to make their own decision," Smith said in the interview, apparently as he was leaving work. "I don't feel like it was correct to do something like that."

Daniels' letter, which was put into envelopes containing worker pay stubs earlier this month, said, "If (President) Trump and the Republicans win the election, DMC will hopefully be able to continue operating, more or less as it has been operating lately. However, if Biden and the Democrats win, DMC could be forced to begin permanent layoffs in late 2020 and-or early 2021."

Smith reportedly said he was planning to quit after receiving the letter, but he was instead fired. He has hired a lawyer to sue DMC on his behalf. The lawyer, Richard Celler, said evidence clearly shows that Daniels was trying to influence his employees' votes. "We are confident that this employer not only violated federal and state law, but also illegally terminated our client," he added.

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Daniels told WESH that he's been giving similar letters to workers for many years, informing his employees of election implications for the company, and he believes it's his duty to tell workers of possible job consequences.

DMC has a Trump flag on the flagpole outside its Orlando headquarters. Daniels has donated more than $600,000 to the Trump campaign and other Republican causes in the current election cycle, according to contribution records.

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October 23rd 2020, 8:33 pm

US sanctions Russian CHEMICAL research institute, saying it’s ‘connected’ to Triton computer malware

RT

A Moscow research institute involved in developing the S-300 air defense missiles has been blacklisted by the US Treasury Department over alleged “connections” to malware used “against US partners in the Middle East.”

The Central Scientific Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM, or ЦНИИХМ) is “connected to the destructive Triton malware,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared on Friday, accusing it of “building customized tools that enabled” the cyber attack on “a petrochemical facility in the Middle East” that allegedly took place in August 2017.

No evidence was offered for this claim, nor the one that in “2019, the attackers behind the Triton malware were also reported to be scanning and probing at least 20 electric utilities in the United States for vulnerabilities.”

The alleged malware attack targeted industrial control systems at the facility and “had the capability to cause significant physical damage and loss of life,” Treasury said in the announcement. 

There have been media reports of a cyber-attack on a petrochemical facility in Saudi Arabia in August 2017, but its name or ownership have never been revealed. A March 2018 New York Times story said that “Iran, China, Russia, the United States and Israel had the technical sophistication to launch such attacks,” and speculated that Iran was behind it, arguing that none of the others had the motive to do so.

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The sanctioned institute goes back to a gunpowder research lab founded in 1894, and is the leading scientific organization in Russia “in the interests of defense and security of the state,” according to the Association of State Scientific Centers, an umbrella group for 48 Russian government-funded research facilities.

As a result of the sanctions, any property of the institute in possession of US persons is blocked and Americans are prohibited from any transactions with it. The designation also opens non-Americans to sanctions if they do business with the institute.

The sanctions were imposed under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a law approved with veto-proof majorities in both the House and the Senate in July 2017 – at the height of the ‘Russiagate’ hysteria. 

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October 23rd 2020, 7:50 pm

Federal judge blocks new DOJ effort to ban WeChat downloads from US app stores, citing users’ First

RT

A US federal judge has denied a government request to blacklist the Chinese-owned WeChat program from app stores, arguing that the sweeping ban is far too broad and would violate the speech rights of users.

Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler shot down the Justice Department’s renewed attempt to prohibit the app in a ruling on Friday, upholding a previous decision on the grounds that the ban is “not narrowly tailored to address the government’s significant interest in national security” and does not survive “scrutiny under the First Amendment.”

Though the DOJ argued the move would be “content neutral” and respect the speech rights of WeChat users, Beeler concluded that the restrictions “burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests” and would leave “no viable alternative platforms or apps for the Chinese-speaking and Chinese-American community.”

A pair of executive orders signed by President Donald Trump in August designated Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok as threats to US national security, accusing Beijing of using the programs for surveillance and data-theft. The president directed the Department of Commerce to prohibit all US transactions with the apps’ Chinese owners – Tencent and ByteDance – including removing them from US-based app stores.

Beeler’s first ruling on the attempted ban was handed down last month following a legal challenge by the WeChat Users Alliance, a US nonprofit, which argued that barring the app would be a “serious violation of the Constitutional rights of WeChat users in the US.” The judge agreed to temporarily halt the ban, saying the suit raised serious First Amendment concerns, prompting the DOJ to submit new arguments, which were heard and rejected on Friday.

READ MORE: Trump 'conceptually' approves TikTok deal with Oracle and Walmart, extending app's ban deadline for another week

The Trump administration’s bid to ban TikTok has run into similar obstacles, with a judge granting an injunction against the move last month, allowing the app to remain on offer in app stores for now. Though the court sided with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, the ruling fell short of outright blocking the restrictions, which are still set to come into effect November 12. The company is now pursuing further legal action to overturn the ban altogether, even while it continues negotiations to transfer ownership stakes to US firms Walmart and Oracle in hopes of evading the restrictions should its lawsuit fail.

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October 23rd 2020, 7:50 pm

‘You know you’re guilty’: PewDiePie fans aren’t buying YouTube’s SHADOWBAN denial after top creator’

RT

YouTube is trying to ease controversy over allegations that it shadowbanned its second-most popular content creator, PewDiePie, but his fans said the company's explanation didn't match up with what they saw on the platform.

Pressed for answers as to why PewDiePie subscribers weren't receiving notifications of his new videos and weren't able to find his channel or content in searches, the video-sharing platform tweeted Thursday that "YouTube doesn't shadowban channels. It's possible the video was flagged by our systems as potentially violative and needs to be reviewed first before it shows up in search, etc."

But PewDiePie fans pointed out that his channel and hundreds of his most recent videos – spanning at least one year's worth of content – weren't showing up in YouTube searches on Wednesday and Thursday.

"Nah, you shadowban people," one Twitter commenter said. "We all know it. Or maybe not, but if not, then why can't we find your second-biggest YouTuber on your app?" Another critic mocked YouTube's statement, saying, "A lot of people 'didn't do' a lot of things in history, YouTube. You know you're guilty."

The issue appeared to be resolved by at least Friday afternoon US time, as PewDiePie's videos were again showing up in searches.

PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, is a 30-year-old Swedish comedian and video gamer who has built a following of 107 million subscribers on YouTube. The only bigger channel on the video-sharing platform is T-Series, an Indian music and movie service with 158 million subscribers.

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Twitter, YouTube and other social-media platforms have been accused of shadowbanning – throttling back the visibility of certain content without notifying users of any actions being taken or of any alleged violations of guidelines.

Conservative author Mike Cernovich took the accusations against YouTube a step further, saying PewDiePie was shadowbanned because he had been discussing Christianity. Another Twitter commenter suggested that a comment on China may have triggered YouTube defense measures.

Kjellberg himself has yet to comment publicly on the incident.

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October 23rd 2020, 6:20 pm

Woke Tech goes full Biden as Expensify warns 10 MILLION customers that a vote for Trump may mean ‘CI

RT

The expense report processor Expensify is doing its best to scare its 10 million customers into voting for Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, saying anything less is “a vote against democracy” and may lead to “civil war.”

David Barrett, CEO of the San Francisco-based company, said in an email blasted out to all of Expensify's customers on Thursday that the US is "facing an unprecedented attack on the foundations of democracy itself." Anyone who votes for President Donald Trump, votes for a third-party candidate, or doesn't cast a ballot is showing that they are "comfortable standing aside and allowing our democracy to be methodically dismantled, in plain sight," he added.

Barrett didn't detail how he thinks Trump is destroying democracy, saying only that he believes the president is trying to suppress votes. As a provider of expense-management software, he said, "Expensify depends on a functioning society and economy.

Not many expense reports get filed during a civil war.

Barrett made no effort to reconcile his doomsday views on Trump with the fact that Expensify is able to rank as the world's most widely used and fastest-growing expense-management platform while the current president is in charge.

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Ironically, his mass email may jeopardize that position more so than Trump's re-election. In reaction, Newsmax TV host John Cardillo said he's deleting his Expensify account and will never use the software again. The Hill TV host Saagar Enjeti called Barrett's email "completely insane for a $100+ million financial services company and the logical end point of woke capital."

Another Twitter user said that, when he notified Expensify that he intends to cancel his long-time subscription, the company's response was, "To clarify, are you leaving because you dislike democracy and don't want to defend it, or is there something else?"

Barrett’s email could go beyond losing some customers and alienating voters with woke capitalism. Other Twitter commenters pointed out that making a political statement to a verified list of 10 million customers has great value to a campaign, and that value would likely need to be reported as an in-kind contribution under US election laws.

"Woke tech is shooting for new heights," tweeted Aaron Ginn, co-founder of the Lincoln Network tech policy group. "Does this count as an in-kind contribution?"

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"I love watching woke CEOs tank their companies," said another observer.

Others supported Barrett's approach, however, saying he may benefit from "free advertising" generated by the email controversy.

There were also executives who applauded Barrett's move. CleanChoice Energy CEO Tom Matzzie, who promotes Black Lives Matter on his Twitter profile, called Barrett a "hero." Another BLM-backing entrepreneur, Thomas Fuchs of the software firm Noko, thanked Barrett and said, "I'm in the same boat – I depend on a functioning society on being able to run my business."

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October 23rd 2020, 6:20 pm

Plot twist: Man caught ‘preparing’ to assassinate Joe Biden had wanted to ‘SAVE BERNIE,’ court docs

RT

Reports that a man arrested in North Carolina plotted to kill Democratic candidate Joe Biden, announced just before the final presidential debate, left out that he wanted to ‘save’ his rival for the nomination, Bernie Sanders.

The arrest of  Seattle-born Alexander Hillel Treisman, 19, made the news on Thursday night but dated back to September, when he was indicted by a federal grand jury on child pornography charges.  Police “stumbled” upon the van Treisman had allegedly abandoned at a bank in Kannapolis, North Carolina and found a rifle, explosives and $509,000 inside, multiple outlets reported on Friday.

However, Treisman hasn’t actually been charged with plotting to assassinate Biden, at least not yet.

While the announcement of his arrest and charges on the eve of the presidential debate, led to frenzied speculation that he was a “right-wing radical” and finger-pointing at President Donald Trump, details published Friday suggest Treisman was nothing of the sort.

According to court documents cited by the Washington Post and the Daily Beast on Friday, Treisman had posted on Reddit that he had to “save bernie” and posted a meme wondering if he should kill Biden days after Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) suspended his presidential campaign on April 8. Sanders went on to endorse Biden on April 13.

“My hatred is for the complacent American people who will turn u in for their own satisfaction. But aside from former goals, my eyes on the future. If anything I have to save bernie,” Treisman had written on another platform, iFunny, according to the documents. 

The authorities also allege he ran a number of Google searches “between March and May” about state gun laws and rifle parts.

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Treisman reportedly told the police he did not intend to actually harm anyone, saying that “all online threats were part of a persona.” The detention memo noted he had no prior criminal history and had been “diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome” at age 12. Previously a separate diagnosis, Asperger’s was folded into the broader Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2013.

Actual charges against Treisman related to “a total of 1,248 videos and 6,721 images of child pornography content” found on a total of eight devices, according to the detention memo dated October 6.

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October 23rd 2020, 5:31 pm

US issues more threats to NATO ally Turkey after Erdogan confirms tests of Russian-made S-400 system

RT

Turkey’s tests of its Russian-made S-400 air defense systems violate Ankara’s commitment to NATO and may hamper its security relations with the US, the Pentagon has said, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the drills.

The US Department of Defense “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the S-400 tests, conducted by the Turkish military on October 16, Chief Pentagon Spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said on Friday. The course of action chosen by Ankara “risks serious consequences for our security relationship,” Hoffman added.

We have been clear and unwavering in our position: an operational S-400 system is not consistent with Turkey’s commitments as a US and NATO ally.

The Pentagon statement repeats almost word for word the US State Department’s reaction to the first reports of the successful tests last week.

Earlier on Friday, Erdogan made it clear to Washington that S-400 tests “have been and are being conducted” by Turkey. “The US stance absolutely does not concern us,” he stressed.

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The US has repeatedly attempted to derail the S-400 deal between Ankara and Moscow. Turkey was even excluded from America’s F-35 fighter jet program and threatened with other restrictions. But the Turkish authorities, who believe the Russian systems are essential for their country’s national security, have been reluctant to give in to US pressure.

Washington claims Turkey’s use of Russian S-400s will compromise NATO’s defenses, but Moscow accuses the US of unfair competition and creating advantages for American arms makers.

Turkey’s defense minister has also said the Russian hardware won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but will be used separately. The country received the S-400 systems from Russia as part of a $2.5 billion contract last year and plans to make them fully operational by the end of 2020.

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October 23rd 2020, 5:31 pm

‘Pragmatic conservative’ Putin rejects totalitarian rule, but won’t embrace Western liberal democrac

RT

Western pundits use Vladimir Putin’s rejection of the idea of Western liberal democracy as a universal model to imply he rejects the concept of democracy outright. His latest comments reveal the reality is rather more complex.

On Thursday, the Russian president gave his annual speech to the gathering of the Valdai Discussion Club – a select group of Russian and foreign experts who meet once a year to ponder the fate of the world. The 2020 event, normally held in Sochi, was staged online, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Putin’s address, and his answers to the questions that followed, wandered far and wide. At times, he delved into specific details, but at other moments, his words were broad-ranging and philosophical. The speech therefore provides a useful tool for analyzing what one might call the ‘ideological foundations’ of latter-day Putinism.

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Commentary in the international press has focused primarily on what Putin had to say about the global political order. This was, in reality, quite conservative. He distanced himself from the Valdai Club’s most recent report, which stated that international institutions were more of an ‘obstacle’ to the construction of a successful global system than a help. “I cannot agree with the assumption that the existing international structures must be completely rebuilt,” he said.

Instead, Putin argued in favor of “adjusting the international arrangement of world politics.” He also lent his support to regional multilateralism, in which interested groups of states work together to solve common problems outside of the global institutional framework.

As a vision of the world, it is hardly revolutionary, and certainly doesn’t justify the common complaint that Putin and the Russian Federation are hoping for the end of the post-Cold War liberal world order, consider that set-up irredeemable, and therefore wish to destroy it.

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In any case, foreign affairs took up only a small part of Putin’s speech, and were far from the most interesting of the topics under discussion. More revealing was what the Russian president had to say about the state, systems of government, and economy.

The general Western view is that Putin is an inveterate enemy of democracy, determined to undermine democratic systems wherever he sees them, lest they provide a model of success that discredits his own supposedly autocratic rule.

In reality, Putin has never said anything to justify such an analysis. As his Valdai speech reveals, his attitude towards what constitutes the ideal form of government is rather complex. The same may also be said about his attitude towards the ideal form of economy.

The main lesson of the Covid pandemic, said Putin, was the continued importance of the state, as 2020 has shown that “only a viable state can act effectively in a crisis.” In good times, Putin added, people tend to argue that the state should reduce its role in the economy. But in bad times, everyone suddenly demands it should intervene to prevent economic collapse.

A “strong state” is therefore essential, said Putin. Here, he was on familiar ground. Putin is nothing if not a ‘gosudarstvennik’, or statist, for whom a strong state is an absolute priority.

But what was more interesting is where Putin went from there. “What is a strong state?” he asked rhetorically. “Not total control or harsh law enforcement,” he said, and “not thwarted private initiative or civic engagement. Not even the might of its armed forces.” Rather, said Putin, “what makes a state strong, primarily, is the confidence its citizens have in it. … People are the source of power.” For this reason, he continued, “civil society will play a key role in Russia’s future.”

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Putin added a caveat, however. “Genuine democracy and civil society cannot be imported,” he said. They are a “cultural phenomenon” and have to be “nationally oriented and sovereign.” For this reason, no single model is suitable everywhere. The model doesn’t even have to be democratic in the formal, mechanistic sense of choosing the government by counting votes. “This kind of state can be set up any way you like,” he said. “What you call your political system is immaterial. … Trying to blindly imitate someone else’s agenda is pointless and harmful. The main thing is for the state and society to be in harmony.”

This, then, is a more democratic Putin than people are used to imagining. But, at the same time, it is not a Western liberal democratic Putin. And herein lies much of the confusion about the Russian president’s beliefs. Given the Manichean, black-and-white view so many Western liberals have of the world, Putin’s rejection of Western liberal democracy as a universal model is wrongly interpreted as a rejection of democracy per se, and as an endorsement of authoritarian, even totalitarian or fascistic rule. But as his speech shows, the reality is rather more complex.

It is often said that Russia has moved in a conservative, more ideological direction since 2012. There is some truth to this, but Putin’s speech demonstrates a pragmatic flexibility that rejects rigid ideological models. This was clear in his comments on the economy. On the one hand, he spoke about “transitioning to a market economy” being a desirable goal. But, on the other hand, he argued that a pure market economy exists nowhere, that state intervention is often necessary, and that “no model is pure or rigid.”

So, how do we decide what to do, Putin asked. “Expediency,” he opined. “We need to avoid using any templates.” If there is a common theme to come out of his comments to the Valdai Club, it was that: the need to avoid templates, be they liberal, communist, authoritarian, or anything else. Putin once described himself as a “pragmatist with a conservative perspective.” That seems about right.

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October 23rd 2020, 5:18 pm

Israel will not oppose US-UAE deal on 'specific weapons systems,' says Netanyahu, despite previous w

RT

The Israeli government says it will not oppose the US selling “specific weapons systems” to the United Arab Emirates, in an apparent reference to F-35 fighter jets, despite Tel Aviv opposing such a deal less than a fortnight ago.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz confirmed on Friday that Israel would not prevent Abu Dhabi procuring arms from Washington.

This is despite Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen saying less than two weeks ago that the country would oppose the sale of the fifth-generation US-made jets to Qatar. 

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And only two months ago, Netanyahu himself voiced his opposition to the sale of the stealth fighters “to any countries in the Middle East.”

Netanyahu’s newly softened position on US military deals for his neighbors comes amid thawing relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours, guided by Washington. On Friday, Sudan became the latest Arab nation to normalise relations with Israel, while, last week, Tel Aviv established diplomatic ties with Bahrain in another US-brokered deal.

A statement from Netanyahu and Gantz was released on Friday after the defense minister returned from the US, where he signed a joint declaration on Washington’s “strategic commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge.” The statement did not specifically mention F-35s, but said Tel Aviv would no longer oppose Washington selling “specific weapons systems” to Abu Dhabi.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense have agreed that, in light of the fact the United States is upgrading Israel’s military capabilities and preserving its qualitative advantage, Israel will not oppose the sale of these systems to the United Arab Emirates.

In a separate statement, however, Gantz claimed that Netanyahu was aware of arms negotiations between the US and UAE at the time the UAE and Israel were concluding their peace deal, but had concealed that information. 

Meanwhile, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said back in August that an Israeli peace deal removed “any hurdle” to Abu Dhabi procuring its long sought-after F-35s from the US. 

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US law limits the sale of the jets and other advanced weaponry to some Middle Eastern nations, under the principle of preserving Israel’s aforementioned “qualitative military edge” in the region. Congress has the right to review US weapons sales and can deploy a veto over such deals. 

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October 23rd 2020, 4:19 pm

America’s first MURDER HORNET nest found by scientists in Washington State (VIDEO)

RT

Entomologists in Washington State have discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the US, and are planning to destroy it as an invasive species. The terrifying insects wipe out native honeybees, and can kill a human.

With a three-inch wingspan and a potent, venomous stinger, the Asian giant hornet is the world’s largest species of hornet, and a fearsome killing machine. A handful of these creatures can devastate a honeybee hive in a matter of hours, decapitating hundreds of bees before taking the hive as their own.

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Entomologists with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) first received reports of these hornets last December, and this week managed to capture two of them. The hornets were fitted with tracking devices, and the scientists stalked them back to their nest, inside a tree in Blaine, Washington.

Video shot by the WSDA shows one of the hornets emerging from the tree, its facial features clearly visible from a distance.

The WSDA plans to eradicate the nest on Saturday, potentially taking the tree with it.

The Asian giant hornet is considered an invasive pest, and should it gain a foothold in the state, the WSDA warns it will have “negative impacts on the environment, economy, and public health.”

Though these hornets do not generally attack people or pets, their stinger is longer than that of a honeybee, and contains a more toxic venom. In Japan, giant hornets kill between 30 and 50 people every year.

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October 23rd 2020, 4:19 pm

France becomes 2nd W. European state to hit 1mn Covid cases, as Macron warns we’ll live with the vir

RT

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in France has crossed the million mark, with President Emmanuel Macron predicting the country will have to suffer the virus until at least summer 2021.

On Friday, French health authorities reported 42,032 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours, which saw the overall number of cases reach 1,041,075.

Another 298 people succumbed to the disease over the latest reporting period – 136 more than on the previous day. The total death toll in the country now stands at 34,508.

France is the second nation in Western Europe to reach a million cases, after Spain passed the grim threshold earlier this week. The US, with 8.4 million cases, remains the most infected country in the world, followed by India (7.8 million), Brazil (5.3 million), and Russia (1.5 million).

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Macron, visiting a hospital outside Paris on Friday, offered a gloomy forecast for the nation’s Covid outbreak. “When I listen to the scientists, I see that the projections are for, at best, next summer,” he said.

Curfews recently introduced in Paris and eight other major cities to contain the spread of the coronavirus, are set to be extended to 38 other regions from midnight on Friday. The measure will bar 46 million out of the country’s 67 million-strong population from leaving their home between 9pm and 6am.   

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According to the president, there’s currently no deadline for those curfews to be lifted – on the contrary, they can be extended. However, he added that it was too early to say if France was on its way toward imposing new full or partial lockdowns.

Earlier, a French government scientific advisor said the virus was spreading faster in the country than during the peak of the first wave in spring.

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October 23rd 2020, 4:19 pm

‘Opposite’ of Vantablack? Scientists create WHITEST paint ever, which reflects 95.5% of light & keep

RT

Engineers have created a paint capable of reflecting 95.5 percent of sunlight back into space, while keeping a building cooler than the ambient temperature, which might one day dramatically reduce the need for air conditioning.

In research undertaken at Purdue University, in Indiana, engineers have produced the remarkable acrylic paint. It makes use of passive radiative cooling technology, which keeps surfaces 10 degrees Celsius below the ambient temperature at night and at least 1.7 degrees Celsius below the ambient temperature at noon.

“It’s very counterintuitive for a surface in direct sunlight to be cooler than the temperature your local weather station reports for that area, but we’ve shown this to be possible,” said Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue.

It’s both abrasion resistant and waterproof, and absorbs almost no solar energy, reflecting heat away from buildings and back out into space. 

© Credit: Purdue University photo/Jared Pike

“We’re not moving heat from the surface to the atmosphere. We’re just dumping it all out into the universe, which is an infinite heat sink,” said the study’s co-author Xiangyu Li.

At present, widely available heat-rejecting paints reflect up to 90 percent of sunlight, but cannot achieve temperatures below ambient levels. 

The Purdue researchers say their paint reflects 95.5 percent of sunlight while efficiently radiating infrared heat, according to their paper published Wednesday.

© Purdue University image/Joseph Peoples

The paint took six years of research and development to produce, drawing on decades of existing studies stretching back to the 1970s. 

The Purdue team began with 100 material combinations, before narrowing them down to 10, of which 50 variations were produced in each case. They eventually settled on one made primarily from calcium carbonate – an abundant resource found in rocks and seashells around the world. 

The calcium carbonate within the paint absorbs almost no ultraviolet rays, due to both its atomic structure and its physical structure, which is made up of highly concentrated but different-sized particles that scatter a wide range of radiation wavelengths. 

The as-yet-unnamed paint is essentially the opposite of the world-famous Vantablack, the blackest material known to humanity, which can absorb 99.96 percent of sunlight. 

The Purdue paint is cheaper to produce than commercial alternatives, say the research team, and would save roughly a dollar a day on air conditioning for a one-story house measuring 1,076 square feet. 

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The researchers also claim that, were this paint to be applied to surfaces such as roads, rooftops, and car roofs, the planet’s surface could be cooled. They say the paint could also help reduce global carbon emissions by cutting the demand for air conditioning, which is primarily powered through the burning of fossil fuels. 

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October 23rd 2020, 3:18 pm

Shocking new Russian data reveals diabetics are TEN TIMES more likely to catch Covid-19, with sharpl

RT

Diabetics are 10.3 times more likely to develop Covid-19, and their symptoms are more severe and life-threatening, with over a quarter of all infected patients already suffering from the illness as a pre-existing condition.

That’s according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who told officials that coronavirus is especially dangerous for those suffering with the common metabolic disorder.

“In patients with diabetes, Covid-19 infection is 10.3 times more common,” Golikova explained. “Patients with diabetes experience the disease more severely, and more frequently develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as respiratory failure, [requiring] artificial ventilation and, unfortunately, [experiencing] higher mortality.”

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Leading Russian virologist says another Covid-19 lockdown may lead to RIOTS, economic fallout could be worse than pandemic itself

According to Golikova, 27 percent of all infected patients have diabetes among their comorbidities, and this is often complicated by increased glycemia. As of the start of 2020, 5.1 million people in Russia had a diabetes diagnosis. She noted that the risk is even higher in patients with high blood pressure.

Curiously, earlier this week, American Covid-19 patient Mario Buelna experienced exactly the opposite situation – he developed diabetes for the first time, having contracted coronavirus. According to his doctors in Mesa, Arizona, Buelna’s diabetes was triggered by Covid-19.

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Speaking to London-based news agency Reuters, Dr. Robert Eckel, president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association, thinks that coronavirus could be causing “an entirely new form of diabetes.”

On Friday, Russia recorded its highest ever number of daily confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 17,340 infections in just 24 hours. The jump brings the country’s official number of infections to 1,480,646, which is more than all but three other countries: the US (8,411,294), India (7,761,312), and Brazil (5,323,630). Despite the relatively high number of cases, government data shows that just 25,525 Russians have died, which is far fewer than in at least 10 other countries, including the UK, Italy, Spain, and France.

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October 23rd 2020, 3:18 pm

Take a bite out of this: Atletico striker Luis Suarez buys 1,000 Big Macs for children's charity eve

RT

Atletico Madrid striker Luis Suarez bought and donated 1,000 Big Macs for children in his native Uruguay as part of a charity event.

The 33-year-old spent €4.75 ($5.63) on each of the burgers - which he donated to children in a youth league in Pando, a small city north west of Uruguayan capital Montevideo - raising a total of €4,750 ($5631) for the Ronald McDonald House Association and the Liceo Impulso school.

McDonald’s Uruguayan Twitter account thanked him for his donation to the annual event, which matched the donation made by Argentinian striker Carlos Tevez last year.

“Luis Suarez proved that the Big Day has no frontiers. He bought 1,000 Big Macs from Spain via McDelivery to help the House Ronald, Liceo Impulso and donate to Pando's BabyLeague.

“Thank you, Luis, for putting the jersey on the Big Day! Anyone can join in wherever you are.”

The same Twitter account once trolled the striker after he was sent off for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but it seems the hatchet has evidently been buried.

Despite being in Spain, Suarez was able to purchase the burgers for the children of Pando using the McDelivery service.

The Ronald McDonald House Association provides support for pregnant women and families of sick children, and is said to help more than 7,000 each year.

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As well as biting Chiellini - for which he received a four-month ban from the sport - Suarez also received lengthy suspensions for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during his time at Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal whilst at Ajax.

Suarez joined Atletico Madrid in the summer in a free transfer, though his former club Barcelona may receive up to €6 million in performance-related add-ons.

He has played five games for his new side, scoring three goals.

On Tuesday, he and Los Rojiblancos were beaten 4-0 by Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League. 

The striker’s final game for Barca - where he scored 198 goals in 283 appearances - also came against Bayern. Suarez found the net in that match, a single-leg Champions League quarterfinal in August, but the German giants demolished his side 8-2.

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October 23rd 2020, 3:00 pm

‘Do we want the Earth to become like Venus?’: Putin calls for swift & practical action on the ‘huge

RT

Vladimir Putin has called on the people of the world to come together and “tend to our planet” for future generations. The Russian President also warned that “unrestrained and unlimited consumption" will have to abandoned.

Putin was speaking on Thursday to the Valdai Club, a Russian discussion forum attended by influential politicians, academics and business leaders, and visited yearly by the president. In recent years, the annual meeting has been held in Sochi, but this year it took place online.

“Tensions have reached a critical point. We can see this in climate change,” the Russian president said. “This problem calls for practical action and much more attention on our part. It has long stopped being the domain of abstract scientific interests but now concerns nearly every inhabitant of the planet Earth.

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Russia is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming, as 65 percent of the country’s territory is made up of permafrost. Any ecological change will have enormous consequences for Russia’s infrastructure, and could have a massive knock-on effect on its economy.

“It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on,” Putin explained. “If as much as 25 percent of the near-surface layers of permafrost, which is about three or four meters, melt by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly.”

According to the president, Russia’s climate crisis could snowball quickly, as melting permafrost would stimulate methane emissions, and has the potential to spiral out of control.

“Do we want the Earth to become like Venus, a hot, dry, and lifeless planet?” Putin asked. “I would like to remind you that the Earth has an average surface temperature of 14°C (57°F) while on Venus it’s 462°C.”

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It may be a ‘living hell,’ but it’s a ‘Russian planet’: Moscow will focus efforts on exploration of Venus, space agency chief says

While the president offered a portrait of a grim potential future, the effects of climate change in Russia are already visible. In June, a Siberian village broke the record for the highest temperature ever recorded inside the Arctic Circle, at 38°C. Later that month, wildfires were spotted in the far-north of Yakutia, an area usually associated with some of the lowest-ever recorded temperatures.

Despite Putin’s warnings that earthlings should stop the planet from becoming like Venus, Russia appears to have claimed the second planet from the Sun for itself. In September, the country’s space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin announced that Roscosmos plans to send a mission there.

“We believe that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn’t fall behind,” he said. “Missions to Venus are a part of the government’s program of Russia’s space exploration for 2021-2030.”

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October 23rd 2020, 2:48 pm

'Beyond proud': UFC legend Frank Mir reacts as 17yo daughter Bella overcomes adversity to win MMA de

RT

The apple doesn't appear to fall very far from the tree in the Mir household as Bella Mir, the 17-year-old daughter of UFC legend Frank, was successful in her professional mixed martial arts debut on Thursday.

With her father in her corner, Mir fought fellow debutant Danielle Wynn at an event in Sonora, Mexico and emerged with a unanimous decision (29-28 x3) after three rounds of action after dominating early portions of the fight with her grappling and top control.

Mir came close to securing a finish towards the end of the second round after she once again dominated the grappling and ended the frame by raining down punishing ground and pound which appeared to briefly tempt the referee into calling off the fight before Wynn was mercifully saved by the bell. 

Wynn rallied in the third after Mir looked to dig into her father's box of tricks and perform the infamous Mir armbar (ask Tim Sylvia about that one), before Wynn was able to recover and launch some offence of her own.

By the time the final round had elapsed, it was clear that there was one clear victor inside the ring. 

"It means so much to me, having my first pro fight and following the footsteps of my dad," she said following her win. 

"I think the nerves just got me out of my head a little bit just because it was something different and I didn’t know what to expect, but that second and third round I started to get into it."

Her father Frank also noted the pride he felt for his daughter after her debut win, writing on Twitter that he was impressed by her performance and not just her talent, but her mind also.

"I’m so beyond proud of my daughter Bella," he wrote. "When you’re 17 athletic talent does not always transfer over to mental strength. In fact, it can weaken it. She overcame adversity and now the world knows not only her talent but how strong her mind is."

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‘The best Dagestani fighter after Khabib’: UFC legend Frank Mir on Umar Nurmagomedov

Frank Mir, 41, is known for being one for being one of just a handful of fighters to have claimed the UFC heavyweight title. He is perhaps best remembered for rivalries with the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Brock Lesnar. He last fought in October of last year where he earned a unanimous decision win of his own against Roy Nelson. 

And with the elder Mir's fight career edging closer to its last hurrah, it appears there is someone ready and able to take over the mantle. 

October 23rd 2020, 2:48 pm

Trump touts ‘really good progress’ at Armenia-Azerbaijan talks in DC as shelling in Nagorno-Karabakh

RT

Even as US President Donald Trump praised the “progress” made in talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, air raid sirens sounded over Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh, heralding another round of artillery bombardment.

“We’re working with Armenia. We have a very good relationship with Armenia. They’re very good people. They’re so dedicated. They’re incredible people. And we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday afternoon, as he announced a peace deal between Sudan and Israel.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanyan were in Washington, scheduled to meet – separately – with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday to discuss the ongoing conflict in the disputed region.

Asked if he met with either of them, Trump replied, “I don’t want to say. But we’ll see what happens. I think really good progress is being made.”

Shortly after his remarks were broadcast, however, reports came of the Azerbaijani shelling of Stepanakert, the capital city of the self-proclaimed ethnic Armenian republic in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The region, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, seceded from Azerbaijan in the 1990s. The fighting that broke out at the end of September, for which both sides blame the other, has been the most intense since the 1994 armistice.

Two humanitarian ceasefires brokered by Moscow in the past two weeks quickly collapsed, and there have been reports of Azerbaijani forces making headway towards the border of Armenia proper.

Azerbaijan insists Nagorno-Karabakh is “occupied territory,” and is relying on support from Turkey in the current push to resolve the conflict through military means.

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Turkey's interest in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict motivated by control over Caucasus oil & gas supply, says Armenian president

The US finds itself between treaty obligations with Turkey – a NATO ally, though that relationship has been troubled in recent years – and the political pressure of the Armenian diaspora.

“We have a lot of people living in this country from Armenia originally ... and they’re great people,” Trump told reporters. “We’re going to help them.”

On Friday, 50 members of Congress sent a letter to Pompeo demanding sanctions against the Azerbaijani leadership and accusing Baku of violating human rights and laws of war.

The Democrats spearheading the initiative have enough votes to get it approved in the House of Representatives, but it remains to be seen whether it will be approved in the Republican-majority Senate, as Democrats there are attempting to filibuster a nomination to the US Supreme Court.

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October 23rd 2020, 2:30 pm

Over 52 million early votes cast in US election, putting country on pace for biggest turnout in over

RT

A record-shattering 52 million Americans have already submitted their ballots with 11 days still to go until the November 3 presidential election, according to data collected by the US Elections Project.

That figure already exceeds the total number of early votes registered in the 2016 election, which, at just over 47 million, was previously touted as the highest early vote total in US history.

Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor behind the US Elections Project, estimates that, based on current data, the total turnout will exceed 150 million people, smashing the previous record of 137.5 million set in 2016. 

In percentage terms, that’s 65 percent of all eligible voters in the US – a level of enthusiasm not seen since 1908. 

McDonald’s claim has been supported by other election analysts, including FiveThirtyEight’s well-known polling guru Nate Silver. 

The record-breaking numbers have been attributed to two main factors. The first is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which, of all countries, arguably hit the US the hardest. This prompted the US Centers for Disease Control to recommend anyone able to do so to vote remotely and submit their ballot by mail. 

That, in turn, prompted multiple states to make voting by mail more accessible than in previous years.

The unprecedented interest and enthusiasm of Americans in the lead-up to polling day is the other factor driving early voting, and what’s prompting millions of new voters to participate in the 2020 election. According to TargetSmart – a Democratic-affiliated analytics firm – 7.3 million infrequent and first-time voters had cast their ballots as of October 20, which is almost 2.5 times more than in 2016. 

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“If we want to look at it in terms of who has more intensity and where does the advantage lie, it’s in these infrequent and first-time voters,” TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier told Reuters on Wednesday.

While the data coming out of early voting seems to favor the Democrats (11.8 million registered Democrats are confirmed to have voted, as opposed to 6.3 million Republicans), President Trump’s party appears unconcerned at these statistics. In fact, the Republicans are confident their party did a better job of enthusing inexperienced voters. “There’s just no way the Democrats can spin this. We dominated them when it comes to getting new voters,” an anonymous campaign official told Reuters.

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October 23rd 2020, 2:30 pm

‘He could end world hunger if he wanted!’ Bezos blasted after Amazon praises ManUnited forward's eff

RT

After tech giant Amazon tweeted praise for footballer Marcus Rashford’s efforts to secure free meals for schoolchildren, CEO Jeff Bezos came under instant fire for his colossal wealth and supposed indifference to world hunger.

The latest blasting of Bezos came after the Amazon Prime Video Sports account called the UK footballer a “national hero” for using his sizable social media following to promote organizations that are offering free meals during the October school break.

Twitter commenters were outraged by the perceived hypocrisy, noting that Bezos, the world’s richest man, could not only feed hungry children in the UK, but globally, if he wanted to. One called Amazon a “tax-dodging mega-corporation,” and accused Bezos of “deciding not to end world hunger”.

Many derided both the company and its CEO over tax avoidance, saying that Amazon and Bezos should pay their “fair share.”

Other commenters mocked the company’s use of emojis, suggesting it was merely an effort to make the corporation look more personable. One user quipped that Amazon would decline to donate money for free school meals, but at least it would write that “no” followed by a heart emoji.

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October 23rd 2020, 2:30 pm

FBI asks to interview former Hunter Biden business partner after he said Joe Biden was involved in s

RT

The FBI has asked to interview investor Tony Bobulinski, the ex-business partner of Hunter Biden who alleged Thursday that Joe Biden was involved in his son’s overseas deals, contrary to the presidential candidate's statements.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee announced the request, saying the interview that Bobulinski had scheduled with the committee for Friday would be postponed so he could instead meet with the FBI. “I appreciate that the FBI has a job to do, and I am glad they are finally taking an interest in these concerning financial matters that our committees have been investigating for months,” Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) said in a statement.

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Trump to bring Hunter Biden’s business partner who CONFIRMED leaked emails are real as GUEST to tonight’s debate

Bobulinski issued a statement to the press Thursday evening in Nashville, shortly before the debate between Biden and President Donald Trump, saying the former vice president was “plainly familiar at least at a high level” with Hunter Biden’s business plans in China. Bobulinski said he was introduced to Joe Biden by Hunter Biden, and that they had an hour-long meeting to discuss the Bidens’ planned Chinese business ventures.

Bobulinski said he also received an email from Hunter Biden in May 2017 indicating that “the Big Guy,” meaning Joe Biden, would be given a 10 percent stake in their planned SinoHawk Holdings venture in China. Bobulinski added that he later objected to Hunter Biden’s request that the company wire $5 million to entities controlled by the Biden family, saying SinoHawk “could not be Hunter’s personal piggy bank.” He said he learnt from a Senate report last month that the money was wired anyway.

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The FBI, which reportedly also asked Bobulinski to turn over copies of the data on his phones, declined to confirm or deny that it's investigating the matter.

Reports about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China surfaced in the past week, based largely on emails found on a laptop he allegedly left to be fixed at a Delaware repair shop. Articles in the New York Post suggested he was profiting in overseas deals by peddling his father’s political influence, and that he had arranged meetings for foreign business associates with Joe Biden. The Democrat presidential candidate has said repeatedly that he has never discussed his son's overseas business dealings.

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October 23rd 2020, 2:18 pm

EU lawmakers vote for ‘veggie burgers’ & ‘vegan sausages,’ rejecting demands by farmers

RT

Plant-based products sold in the EU should be allowed to be called ‘burgers,’ ‘sausages,’ and ‘steak,’ despite containing no meat at all, the European Parliament said.

On Friday, the MEPs voted to reject the proposal by farmers, who insisted that labeling vegetarian substitutes with terms that are usually associated with meat products was misleading to consumers. Continuing this practice would open a “Pandora’s box” of confusing wording, European farmers association Copa-Cogeca warned.

“I’m going to celebrate with a vegan burger,” Jytte Guteland, an EU lawmaker from Sweden, said, after her colleagues decided to leave the terms ‘veggie burgers,’ ‘vegan sausages’ and ‘soy steaks’ on restaurant menus and shop shelves across Europe.

The European Consumer Organization (BEUC) also rejoiced over the decision, praising MEPs for their “common sense.” The group shared the stance of Greenpeace, the World Wide Fund for Nature, and other environmental organizations that the promotion of plant-based products was in line with EU policies to stop global warming.

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“Consumers are in no way confused by a soy steak or chickpea-based sausage, so long as it is clearly labelled as vegetarian or vegan,” BEUC said in a statement. Such labeling only makes it easier for people to integrate those meatless products into their meals, it argued.

However, BEUC regretted the European Parliament’s decision to strengthen labeling rules for plant-based alternatives to dairy products and its support for banning terms such as “milk-like” or “cheese-style.” In 2017, the European Court of Justice forbade terms such as “soy milk” or “vegan cheese” for such items, ruling that words such as “milk,” “butter,” “cheese” and “yoghurt” can’t be used to describe non-dairy products.

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The vote by the MEPs isn’t final, though, as labeling rules are part of a larger EU farming policy package. After the approval of this package by the Parliament, which is expected later on Friday, Brussels will need to reach agreement on the final policy with the block’s 27 member states.

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October 23rd 2020, 1:49 pm

Conspiracy theory explodes online after 'suspicious' Khabib weigh-in ahead of UFC 254

RT

A conspiracy theory is brewing online following Friday morning's UFC 254 weigh-ins on 'Fight Island' as some fans suggest that an athletic commission official didn't accurately register Khabib Nurmagomedov on the scales.

Nurmagomedov was officially announced as weighing in at the lightweight championship limit of 155lbs in the opening minutes of the weigh-in window, with the Russian champion appearing gaunt and unsteady on the scales after admitting that he had to endure cutting TWENTY pounds in the days leading up to Saturday's main event fight with Justin Gaethje.

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Weighing on his mind: Khabib cut almost TWENTY pounds in advance of UFC 254 weigh-ins

Having experienced issues with cutting weight in the past, most fight fans appeared relieved that one of the final hurdles before this weekend's massively-anticipated clash had been successfully crossed - but that hasn't stopped some from suggesting that there was some underhanded tricks at play. 

And what might these be? As soon as Khabib set foot on the weighing scales, the official manning it moved to measure his weight - but appeared to stop the process early and while the bar was still moving upwards, suggesting that the Russian may have been heavier than his announced weight. 

The footage was noted by ESPN reporter Ariel Helwani, who described the process as a "veteran move" by the official, which soon led to a brigade of online sleuths attempting to undertake a CSI-style review of the tape. 

Combat sports has traditionally seen all sorts of tomfoolery on the scales over the years as fighters attempt to gain an advantage on the scales or cover up a bad weight cut. Two such incidents have occurred in the UFC in recent times, with Khabib's American Kickboxing Academy teammate Daniel Cormier accused of gaining an unfair advantage by holding the towel as he weighed in for his UFC 210 light heavyweight title bout with Anthony Johnson. 

Almost exactly a year ago UFC middleweight Kelvin Gastelum faced similar allegations after weigh-in footage appeared to show him 'leaning' on the shoulder of his coach Rafael Cordeiro in advance of his fight with Darren Till. 

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Ultimately, none of these issues are open to any practical debate as by the time any inquest may come the fighters in question will have rehydrated, making any subsequent measurement of their weight a moot point. 

However, regardless of any shenanigans on the scales, most fight fans aren't allowing the issue to detract from what many expect to be a titanic tussle between the world's premier lightweight fighters.

So with the fight now official and any means of determining what actually happened now firmly behind us, perhaps it is best to consign Khabib's UFC 254 weigh-in to the other best-kept secrets of MMA folklore: Did Stipe Miocic tap against Alistair Overeem? Did Lee Murray really KO Tito Ortiz in a streetfight in London? Is Yoel Romero actually a genetically-engineered experiment designed by the Cuban government?

The answers to all of these questions are probably best left unsaid.

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WATCH: Khabib leads teammates in prayers at UFC 254 training camp as he details 'psychological stress' of being champion

October 23rd 2020, 1:30 pm

Sudan to join White House-brokered peace deal with Israel after call with US

RT

Sudan is joining the Abraham Accords and recognizing the state of Israel, US President Donald Trump has announced. It is the third country in three months to do so, following the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Following a phone call with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump on Friday, Sudanese PM Abdalla Hamdok and head of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan announced they would “end the state of belligerence” with Israel and start the process of normalizing relations.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere called it “another major step toward building peace in the Middle East.” 

Friday’s action is also symbolic, as it was in Khartoum that the Arab League adopted its 1967 resolution declaring “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel” as its guiding principle. 

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WATCH: Bahrain, UAE and Israel sign ‘Abraham Accords’ peace deal at the White House

Sudan is the third country in three months to join what the Trump administration has termed the Abraham Accords, signed on September 15 at the White House between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain – with hopes that more countries will eventually join in. It was the first Middle East peace deal since 1994, when Jordan first recognized Israel.

Earlier this week, Trump announced that the US would be removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, as soon as the North African country pays out $335 million in compensation to victims of Al-Qaeda attacks on US embassies. The designation dates back to 1993, early in the 30-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

After al-Bashir was deposed last year in a military coup, the Sovereignty Council was established to lead a transitional government. The majority-Muslim nation also went from being governed by Islamic law to being an officially secular state.

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US’ planned removal of Sudan from terrorism list is really an attempt to reduce Chinese influence and further isolate Iran

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October 23rd 2020, 1:30 pm

'Taking the p*ss': Drive-in event at Chester FC nearly flushed as customers would have had to CROSS

RT

Organizers of a drive-in cinema event at Chester FC’s Deva Stadium, which straddles the border between England and Wales, have had to scramble after it became clear customers would have to violate Covid rules to use the toilets.

Storyhouse - a cultural centre based in Chester - are hosting a Halloween movie drive-in at the stadium between October 27 and November 1, but they thought they would have to cancel the event after it was confirmed Wales would enter a 17-day national lockdown on Friday.

Storyhouse CEO Andrew Bentley said that would “probably” be the case because of the unique issue with the location: “It turns out the border goes through the middle of the car park but the screen is mostly in Wales.

“We are already having to refund our customers who live in Wales as cinema is part of their circuit-breaker.

“However, customers who live in England are also to be banned from straying into the wrong bit of the car park to watch the film, and Flintshire police say they will enforce at the event.”

He added: “The loos are still in Wales so our customers are going to be caught short, or just caught at the border.”

Twitter users could see the funny side of things, with one quipping: “Someone’s taking the p*ss.”

“Does going to the toilet not count as ‘essential business?’” another asked, while a third suggested an alternative for any customer caught short at the event: “Bring your own bucket!”

However, on Friday the company announced they would still be able to hold the event for English patrons at reduced capacity after hiring portable toilets for them to use so they can “have a wee without breaking the law:”

Although Chester are an English club, much of the stadium lies in Wales including the entirety of the pitch.

October 23rd 2020, 1:14 pm

Iran blacklists three US diplomats over 'terrorist acts,' one day after Washington imposed sanctions

RT

The US ambassador in Iraq and two other American diplomats have been hit with sanctions by Iran over allegedly "coordinating terrorist acts" in a tit-for-tat response from Tehran to Washington blacklisting an Iranian official.

"US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller has had a central role in coordinating terrorist acts in Iraq and beyond, in the criminal assassination of General Soleimani and in advancing sanctions against our people," said Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh on Friday.

He added: "Today, Iran designated him and two other officials involved. Anti-Iran moves won't go unanswered."

Iran also slapped sanctions on Tueller's deputy Steve Fagin and the consul in the city of Erbil, Rob Waller.

Tehran has accused the trio of being "effectively involved in organizing, financially supporting, steering and committing acts of terror against the interests of the government or citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

The move comes a day after Washington blacklisted the Iranian ambassador to Iraq, claiming that he worked for a military unit which it branded a "terrorist cell."

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US slaps sanctions on Iran’s envoy to Iraq, citing links to Quds Force & militia groups

The US Treasury Department accused the official of training militia groups in Iraq with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the US designated a terrorist group last year.

Washington also imposed penalties against five Iranian entities, including an armed forces branch, on Thursday, citing "brazen attempts" to influence the US electoral process. 

READ MORE: Iran hits out at ‘fearful’ US as UN arms embargo expiration draws threats from Pompeo

Iran-US relations began to seriously deteriorate this year after Iranian Quds Force commander General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3. On October 18, Iran announced that the 13-year ban on buying or selling weapons - imposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) - had come to an end, despite Washington's opposition. This week, the two nations exchanged strongly-worded remarks after Tehran hit back at the US for threatening sanctions on anyone looking to make deals with Iran after the expiration of the arms embargo.

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October 23rd 2020, 1:01 pm

India threatens ‘coercive action’ against Amazon for refusing to appear before govt panel on data pr

RT

Lawmakers in India have called for e-commerce giant Amazon to face repercussions after it allegedly refused to testify before a panel on a data protection bill.

Meenakshi Lekhi, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the chairperson of the parliamentary committee reviewing the country’s 2019 Personal Data Protection Bill, has threatened to punish Amazon for failing to appear before the panel.

The committee has been speaking to tech companies operating in India in a bid to address any possible concerns arising from the legislation orchestrated by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The bill, tabled in Parliament last year, seeks to give the government the power to ask companies for anonymous personal and non-personal data.

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Lekhi went on to say that, considering “Amazon is doing huge business in India”, the panel had unanimously decided “coercive action” should be taken to hold the company accountable if it didn’t appear before the committee. She did not specify what that action could be, however. 

Amazon defended its behavior in a statement, blaming coronavirus restrictions on its absence: “The inability of our experts to travel from overseas due to travel restrictions and depose before the JPC [joint parliamentary committee] during the ongoing pandemic may have been misconstrued and led to a misunderstanding.”

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On Friday, social media giant Facebook’s representatives were questioned by the committee members, local media reported. The social networking platform Twitter is set to appear in front of the panel on October 28, while Google and Indian e-commerce payment system Paytm are due to face questions on October 29.

The Indian government has been exploring legislation that could regulate the data collected by social media and e-commerce companies. However, figures in the industry have warned that any such laws could discourage future investment from foreign tech companies.

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October 23rd 2020, 1:01 pm

'Lend me your ears, or I will eat them': Mike Tyson releases bizarre dance track as walk-out song fo

RT

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson has released a self-titled dance track, complete with a bizarre music video, which he will walk out to when he fights Roy Jones Jr. on November 28.

The 54-year-old collaborated with indie electronic music husband-and-wife duo Tiki Lau on the eponymous track, 'Mike Tyson'.

The one minute, 45-second video for the song dropped on Thursday.

In it, Tyson can be seen fighting a muscular shark, sipping from a coconut and finally punching a sea creature that resembles the Loch Ness monster into space.

In the song, the boxer boasts: “I’ve been the wildest, I’ve been the craziest, I’ve been the outrageous. The vicious, the most destructive fighter who ever lived.

“An international star, a warlord to strip your heart out. And guess what? I’m Mike Tyson.”

The hook “I’m Mike Tyson” is repeated throughout the song, while at one point the American references the incident in which he infamously bit Evander Holyfield’s ear: “Lend me your ears, or I will eat them all.”


Asked about the song, Tiki Lau said: “In the process of making this song, every day we would wake up and think, ‘What would Mike Tyson do?’ 

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“We knew that we needed to make a song that was so dope, Mike Tyson would wanna knock someone out to it. 

“We are humbled to be the ones behind his walkout song for his official comeback fight on November 28th, a part of sports history.”

On the origin of the song, the duo added: “Our multi-platinum Grammy-winning and legendary Tiki Lau team member Damon Elliott was in the studio with Mike Tyson and had him record the vocals then sent them over to us. Damon is like the DJ Khaled of our group. 

“They knew we were ready to deliver, and we did. You can’t help but get super pumped up when listening to this song.”

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'If I've gotta die boxing, I'm gonna die a happy man': Roy Jones says he is prepared to lay it all on the line against Mike Tyson

‘Iron Mike’ was the undisputed heavyweight champion between 1987 and 1990, in which he became the first boxer to unify the WBA, IBF and WBC titles.

Considered one of the best fighters of all time, he retired in 2005 with a 50-6 (2) record.

Jones Jr., a former four-weight world champion, last fought in 2018 when he beat Scott Sigmon.

The 51-year-old has dabbled with music himself, having released rap albums in 2002 and 2004.

October 23rd 2020, 1:01 pm

‘If Trump wins, my profession is done’: Pollsters hedge bets for ANOTHER potential election day upse

RT

Polling guru Frank Luntz has admitted that if Donald Trump wins re-election, his “profession is done.” Though polls show Joe Biden in the lead, Luntz and his colleagues are hedging their bets and preparing to be shocked… again.

Democratic candidate Joe Biden is leading President Donald Trump by up to 10 points nationwide. Yet polls can be wrong, and for all the talk of a Biden “landslide” in the media, Trump’s supporters likely remember 2016, when their candidate pulled off a shock victory against Hillary Clinton, despite being given only a seven percent chance of winning by the New York Times two weeks before election day. 

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After final debate, Biden’s campaign is left hanging on the ‘character’ of a high-stakes influence peddler

Should Trump once again dispatch his Democratic challenger, the polling industry is finished, Republican pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News on Thursday. 

“Well, I hate to acknowledge it, because that’s my industry,” he told Fox anchor Bret Baier. “But the public will have no faith. No confidence. If Donald Trump surprises people… my profession is done.”

Luntz insists that his polling is accurate this time, and that Biden will win. However, undecided voters may be leaning toward Trump. 

As the two men faced off in the final presidential debate in Tennessee on Thursday night, Luntz organized a focus group of undecided voters. After the showdown, a majority of these voters were leaning toward backing Trump. They described him as “controlled,” “poised,” and “surprisingly presidential,” while Biden was thought of as “vague,” “elusive,” and “defensive.” 

Luntz is a longtime critic of Trump, and a recently released email – found on Hunter Biden’s now-infamous laptop – apparently showed him massaging his predictions in favor of Biden back in 2012, when the then-VP was debating Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan. Luntz appeared to confirm the email’s authenticity in a tweet, but denied it was any kind of bombshell, saying he’s known the Biden family since the 1990s.

However, if a Biden-friendly pollster, backed by his latest focus group, is publicly opening the door to a potential Trump victory, the election gurus may not be as confident in their figures as they let on.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver is another one of these gurus, and his predictions are taken seriously in Washington. Right now, Silver gives Biden an 87 percent chance of winning. Yet the nation’s premier pollster has also been hedging his bets. On the same day that he bumped Biden’s chances up to 87 percent, Silver took to Twitter to remind his followers that “Trump still does have a nontrivial chance.”

“There’s still some time left,” he continued. “Tipping-point state polls are closer than national polls, sometimes polls are wrong… and mail voting and court disputes create some additional uncertainties.”

The Economist’s G. Elliot Morris is similarly all-in on Biden, giving the Democrat a 92 percent chance of winning on November 3. Morris is confident in his prediction, overly so according to Silver. Yet even though Morris has declared the race “very probably” over for Trump, he couldn’t help but write an article explaining exactly how he may be wrong.

As 2016 proved, all the hard numbers in the world can’t predict how the American public will vote on election day. Luntz, Silver, and Morris may have access to mountains of raw data, and may have developed models they trust wholeheartedly. Yet when even the slightest room for error could tank their careers for good, their reputations could well depend on publicly hedging their bets.

“You can get it wrong once,” Luntz tweeted on Wednesday. “But if they get it wrong a second time and Trump does win, it’s going to be the end of public polling in politics.”

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October 23rd 2020, 12:15 pm

WATCH: Ex- MMA fighter GUNNED DOWN in Dagestan with Kalashnikov-style rifles in land dispute (GRAPHI

RT

Former mixed martial artist Shamil Abdulmuslimov has been shot dead by two gunmen wielding Kalashnikov-series rifles in the city of Khasavyurt in Dagestan after an argument allegedly over a plot of land.

Twenty-five-year-old Abdulmuslimov, who had a record of 11-4 under various promotions, was gunned down on Thursday following an alleged land dispute with a local father and son.

The killers, reported on Baza Telegram channel as Murgamudin Muradisov and his son, were said to have become embroiled in a heated exchange with the former fighter after which they left the establishment.

However, the elder Muradisov was then caught on camera arriving at the restaurant armed with a Saiga-12 semi-automatic rifle, part of the Kalashnikov series of rifles designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, famed for designing the AK-47.

After crashing his car, Murgamudin can be seen storming into a corner of the restaurant where Abdulmuslimov was seated and opening fire on the unsuspecting former heavyweight, then proceeding to beat and shoot at members of his entourage with their rifles.

Neither Muradisov attempted to flee or hide and were arrested by police in the restaurant. It wasn’t clear whether Abdulmuslimov, who fought out of St. Petersburg, died at the scene.

Dagestan is famous for producing many Russian boxers of Chechen descent, the light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev, was born in the city of Khasavyurt, which is around 100km from the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala, the hometown of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Khabib will defend his 155lbs title against American interim champion Justin Gaethje on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi this weekend at UFC 254.

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MMA fighter named among 9 arrested after SHOOTOUT with KALASHNIKOV rifles in Moscow (VIDEO)

October 23rd 2020, 11:59 am

Fire erupts after explosion at Iranian petrochemicals plant (VIDEO)

RT

An explosion caused a blaze at a petrochemicals plant in southwestern Iran on Friday, according to state media. The country has been plagued by accidents at industrial facilities in recent months.

The fire broke out at the aromatics unit of a petrochemical plant in the port city of Bandar Mahshahr, state broadcaster IRIB reported.

Firefighters from the plant as well as regional fire teams were called to the site and managed to contain the blaze. There were no fatalities or injuries as a result of the incident, it added.

Social media users have been sharing footage, purportedly taken at the plant, showing a huge plume of thick black smoke pouring out from it.

Several blasts and fires have been reported at various facilities across Iran in recent months, causing a number of fatalities as well as extensive destruction.

Earlier this month, a worker died in an explosion an industrial area in central Isfahan province.

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At least 3 killed as gas explosion flattens building near marketplace in Iran

In July, a major blast rocked Iran's largest uranium enrichment facility in the city of Natanz. However, the authorities said there were no casualties or leaks of radioactive materials. Several days before that, 19 people were killed in an explosion at a medical facility in the capital Tehran.

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October 23rd 2020, 11:46 am

Bolivia’s official presidential vote count confirms win by socialist Luis Arce, ally of ousted leade

RT

Socialist Luis Arce has won the presidential election in Bolivia with 55 percent of the vote, the official count confirmed after all ballots were counted on Friday.

Arce’s leading rival, Carlos Mesa, took just under 29 percent of the vote, meaning the socialist’s tally exceeded the required 20 percentage-point lead for an outright win.

The result also marks a return to the left for Bolivia. The present conservative caretaker government stepped in after Evo Morales, who governed for almost 14 years, was ousted last year.

On Monday, Arce’s Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party had already claimed victory in the election held the previous day, and Mesa conceded. Arce served as economy minister during the Morales era and is said to have been handpicked by the former leader, who resigned under pressure last year. However, the president-elect said on Tuesday he saw “no role” in his government for Morales, who still leads MAS from exile in Argentina.

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Exiled Bolivian President Morales vows to return to country ‘sooner or later’ after socialists’ election win

“He will not have any role in our government,” Arce told Reuters. He said that the former leader can return to the country “because he’s Bolivian,” but added that the new president will decide who forms the administration.

The president-elect, who grew up in a middle class La Paz household, oversaw a nationalization program and commodities boom while minister. These policies helped provide funds to lift millions of indigenous Bolivians out of poverty in a period of sustained growth.

However, given the current recession, Arce warned that the government “will have to have austerity measures.”

Speaking on diplomatic ties with the US, which have been severed, Arce said: “If they want to reestablish a relationship with us, the only thing we ask for is that we are respected as equals.”

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October 23rd 2020, 11:46 am

Ex-Real Madrid president blasts 'lunacy' of selling Cristiano Ronaldo, claims club has debts of €1 B

RT

Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has claimed the club are €1 billion ($1.2 billion) in debt and slammed the decision to sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus as “lunacy.”

The 69-year-old, who served as Los Blancos president between 2006 and 2009, made his feelings on the club’s current situation perfectly clear whilst speaking to reporters at the Desafio Nacex - a paddle tennis tournament held between former Real and Barcelona players.

“Since Cristiano was stupidly sold, it was clear that the team needed reinforcements in that position and in others but the sad reality is that the club's accounts are not only bare but are also full of bills to the tune of around 1,000 million - bills that have to be paid,” he said.

Real are currently in the process of an enormous remodelling project at the Santiago Bernabeu, at a reported cost of €575 million ($650 million).

Covid-19 has also impacted clubs across the world with games being played without fans, while it was reported in the summer that Real’s two main sponsors, Fly Emirates and Adidas, could not afford to match the agreed terms on their current sponsorship deals with the club.

The former’s deal sees them pay €40 million per year to Los Blancos, while the latter agreed to pay €110 million annually.

Real did not sign a single player in the summer, but offloaded a number of stars including Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez, Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Reguilon, either permanently or on loan.

Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is reported to be under serious pressure after the club suffered consecutive defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk - who were without 13 senior players after a Covid-19 outbreak - in their last two matches.

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Zizou under pressure: Zidane 'has two games to save his job' at Real Madrid with Barcelona awaiting in El Clasico

Calderon is hoping the Frenchman can turn things around in the Spanish capital: “What happened against Shakhtar and Cadiz left a very bad taste but we have to be optimistic because this team have been through difficult moments before and managed to come through them although obviously, the sensations aren't good.”

On club legend Zidane, he added: “He’s doing what he can with the resources available to him.

“The Shakhtar performance wasn’t good, there were a lot of mistakes, I’m sure in the line-up too, but you cannot pin the blame on one person, it’s an accumulation of circumstances, a chain of events which have led to this. 

“It was lunacy to sell Cristiano when they don’t have anyone to score goals.”

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Cristiano Ronaldo 'COULD STILL face Barcelona and Lionel Messi in Champions League' despite second positive Covid test – reports

Ronaldo asked to leave Real in 2018, prompting his €100 million transfer to Juventus, but he later revealed he decided to do so because he no longer felt as valued by president Florentino Perez as he once did.

As such, the Portuguese phenomenon may well have opted to stay had Perez handled his latter years at the club differently.

The 35-year-old netted 450 goals in his nine seasons at the club - an average of exactly 50 per campaign - so replacing his firepower was always going to be extremely difficult for the club.

He has remained prolific in front of goal since moving to Italy, where he has scored 68 times in 91 games.

Real used the money brought in from Ronaldo’s sale to purchase Eden Hazard last year, but the former Chelsea winger has failed to set the world alight since his move having struggled for form and fitness. He managed to play just 22 times last season - returning one goal and seven assists - and he is yet to feature in this campaign.

Meanwhile, Karim Benzema has produced two of his more prolific campaigns in a Real shirt - he scored 30 in the season after Ronaldo left and hit 27 last year - but a poor start to this season has seen him hit the net just once in six games.

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It’s clear the club still need someone who can shoulder the goalscoring burden left behind by Ronaldo, but unless they can find a bargain it might be difficult for them to afford such a player right now given their financial situation.

Real estimate their renovations of the Bernabeu will bring in an extra €150 million ($170 million) each year, so the completion of that project - projected for 2022 but potentially sooner because the pandemic accelerated their plans - cannot come soon enough.

October 23rd 2020, 11:28 am

Human rights activist calls on Telegram app to block 'pornbots' after thousands of women are strippe

RT

Russian human rights activist Alyona Popova has called on Telegram to block 'pornbots,' which use AI to turn clothed pictures into nude ones. The app hosts a bot responsible for undressing people in more than 680,000 photos.

Writing on Facebook on Thursday, Popova urged the app's creator Pavel Durov, as well as the app's administrators, to "make it impossible for such services to work on his platform."

"Yes, this is fake nudity, but fake photos look like real ones and can cause enormous damage to their victims," Popova wrote. "Its victims can become targets for bullying, ridicule, harassment, violence, revenge, and blackmail. The result of such photographs can be disastrous for the lives of many girls."

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Danish TV show exposes kids to NAKED adults, raises eyebrows in America

Although the channel had been used in this way thousands of times, it was only recently reported in mainstream news, after being discovered by cybersecurity company Sensity. According to the company, hundreds of thousands of pornographic images were created, mainly ordered by customers from Russia and other neighboring countries.

The bot uses a technology called DeepNude, a program that uses neural networks to remove clothing from images of women, turning photos into realistic-looking nude pictures. In June 2019, the technology's anonymous creator announced that he would be taking down the software, as the "world is not ready." The developer revoked licenses to the software from those who had already purchased it. Despite these actions, the technology was already in the ether, making it impossible to keep under control. 

The report from Sensity also discovered that many photos processed by the bot appear to be of underage subjects, "suggesting that some users were primarily using the bot to generate and share pedophilic content."

Speaking to the BBC, the owner of the Telegram channel claimed that "no one will blackmail anyone," saying that the technology still produces photos with "unrealistic" results.

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October 23rd 2020, 11:17 am

Spanish regions call on government to implement urgent curfew to stop the spread of coronavirus

RT

Castilla & León and Valencia have demanded nighttime curfews are implemented to stop the spread of Covid-19, after the government failed to agree on further restrictions, following opposition from Madrid and the Basque country.

While the regions have autonomy to implement some measures to combat coronavirus, restrictions such as curfews can be put in place only by the national government.

Spain’s infection rate has risen rapidly in the past few months, hitting a seven-day average on October 22 of nearly 14,000 daily new cases.

Valencia’s premier, Ximo Puig, has called for a curfew from midnight to 5am until December 9, while Francisco Igea, the vice president of the government of Castilla & Leon, requested similar measures, stating that “the time has come to make decisions” for the safety of their citizens, “no matter how hard or drastic they may be”.

Other regions in the country, such as Navarra, have locked down, allowing people only to enter or leave the area for work, to access care services, or in the event of an emergency. The restrictions implemented there are currently set to last for a 15-day period, starting on Thursday. The regional premier, María Chivite, who is the secretary-general of the Navarra Socialist Party, defended the move, stating that the 14-day cumulative number of cases had hit 945 per 100,000 inhabitants.

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‘Out of control’ Spain in Covid-19 turmoil as health minister calls for ‘drastic measures’ to tackle Europe’s worst numbers

Madrid has been under a city-wide lockdown for two weeks that is scheduled to expire on Saturday. The regional authorities are expected to change their approach to one of locking down specific neighborhoods with high case numbers, while members of different households will still be banned from socializing in the city between midnight and 6am.

The request from the regions for federal support comes a day after Spain became the first country in Western Europe to officially record a million coronavirus cases – a doubling of its figures from just six weeks ago. Spain has now recorded more than 1,090,000 cases, and more than 34,520 of its citizens have died after contracting the virus.

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October 23rd 2020, 11:17 am

Spanish PM admits ‘real' number of Covid-19 cases in country is likely THREE times higher than offic

RT

Over three million Spaniards have likely had Covid-19 – three times the current official estimate – Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez has claimed, calling for the reinstatement of anti-contagion measures with the "least economic impact."

The official caseload in the country currently stands at 1.03 million – the sixth highest in the world and the biggest in Western Europe.

"We have to put in place the measures needed with the least economic impact. We must avoid at all cost going back to home confinements as we did in the spring," Sanchez said at a press conference on Friday. "The next few weeks and months, now that we enter the winter, will be difficult, very difficult."

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The "real" total Covid-19 infection toll in the country – which, according to the Spanish PM, exceeds three million – is based on the findings of a nationwide study conducted back in July, that measured antibody response.

The study attempted to estimate the percentage of people in Spain exposed to Covid-19, accounting for asymptomatic cases and limited testing. Over 60,000 Spaniards were administered antibody tests during a two-week period in April and May as part of the study. The researchers concluded that roughly five percent of the Spanish population were exposed to the virus at that time, which amounted to 2.35 million people. The official total at the time stood at 241,000 confirmed cases.

Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the world during the pandemic, despite the government acting quickly by enforcing a lockdown back in March. The lockdown was one of the strictest in Europe, with citizens mandated to stay home except for essential shopping or emergencies. All non-essential businesses were closed.

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Spanish regions call on government to implement urgent curfew to stop the spread of coronavirus

Ever since the most severe restrictions were lifted throughout June and July, the progression of the pandemic has accelerated drastically, with over 20,000 cases registered on Thursday – an all-time high by a good margin.

Madrid and Catalonia are by far the biggest hotspots in Spain. Together, they account for almost half of the country's total caseload. A state of emergency was announced in Madrid on October 9.

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October 23rd 2020, 11:17 am

WATCH: Khabib leads teammates in prayers at UFC 254 training camp as he details 'psychological stres

RT

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov says that he isn't immune from the 'psychological stress' of fighting as he speaks of several of his teammates dropping off the card in advance of this weekend's UFC 254 event.

What was originally intended to be something of a team affair on 'Fight Island' this weekend has instead turned into a Khabib solo tour after several of the Russian's training partners fell off Saturday's card for a variety of reasons. 

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Weighing on his mind: Khabib cut almost TWENTY pounds in advance of UFC 254 weigh-ins

After saying in August that four of his 'brothers' would be competing alongside him, one by one each of those proposed bouts fell by the wayside. The most high-profile of which, a top contender bout between Islam Makhachev and former champion Rafael Dos Anjos, was ruled out after the Brazilian was forced to withdraw following a coronavirus diagnosis. 

And now, with none of Makhachev or his cousins Umar and Abubakar, fighting in the octagon, Khabib admits that the situation brings with it an added level of stress. 

READ MORE: Fight off: UFC debutant Umar Nurmagomedov HOSPITALIZED in Dubai as Khabib's cousin RULED OUT of UFC 254

"You saw it, Umar has 39 degrees temperature," the UFC champion explained in a video blog released on Friday but shot prior to his departure to Abu Dhabi. "He will be hospitalized. First Abubakar, then Islam could not find an opponent because his opponent tested positive. We had to compete on the same day. Me, Abubakar, Islam and Umar. Now it's just me."

Friday morning's weigh-ins in Abu Dhabi may have given a glimpse why. Khabib admits in the video that he still had 8.5kg (almost 19lbs) to cut in the six days before he stepped on the scales and the evidence captured by the waiting media on 'Fight Island' suggested that his trip to the 155lbs championship weight wasn't a comfortable one.

"Yes it does [feel psychologically pressurizing], because we had training camp together etc.," Khabib continues. "Umar had 6kg (13lbs) left. Of course I feel pressure. I know what they go through, I went through all of this.

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However Khabib - who is also captured in the video leading several of teammates through prayer - says that the toll it takes to get to the top can only truly be paid by those rare fighters who successfully make it to world championship level. 

"To become a champion you have to go through a lot," he says. "Injuries, disappointment, diseases, crises. Yes, psychological stress. You won't become a champion without it."

October 23rd 2020, 11:17 am

French mayor threatened with ‘decapitation’ a week after schoolteacher’s brutal murder

RT

Jeremie Breaud, mayor of Bron, near Lyon, has revealed he’s been threatened, with local graffiti stating, “We will cut your head off,” days after an Islamist extremist beheaded schoolteacher Samuel Paty.

Breaud disclosed that he’d been offered police protection after witnessing the threatening graffiti. “These threats must be taken seriously,” he said, in light of the recent killing, which has sparked deep shock and anger across France.

The mayor took to Twitter to share a photograph of the “violent writing” daubed on walls in his city, which, he says, shows how “like the police and firefighters, we locally elected officials are repeatedly victims of increasing violence.” He described the situation as “intolerable.”

France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin directed the authorities to “take legal action and provide protection” for Breaud, and offered his support “for this mayor, as for all elected officials who are victims of threats.”

French police haven’t officially commented on the recent threats, but are said to be investigating the circumstances behind them.

On Wednesday, a woman was detained by police, after threatening to “blow everything up” at Lyon’s Part-Dieu train station.

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Charlie Hebdo calls for rally after terrorist beheading of French teacher in alleged payback for showing students profane cartoons

Samuel Paty was beheaded on October 16 outside the secondary school where he taught, in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 25 kilometers away from Paris. He was killed by an Islamist extremist after he showed a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson about free speech.

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October 23rd 2020, 11:17 am

Peak ‘faux outrage’? AOC berates Republicans for using nicknames when addressing female colleagues…

RT

Progressive rockstar Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has castigated Republicans for not being more formal when addressing female public figures, prompting Twitter users to suggest that the Democrat should take her own advice.

Ocasio-Cortez, commonly known as AOC, took to Twitter on Friday to air her grievances with Republicans’ use of “nicknames or first names” when referring to non-male colleagues, claiming that such informalities “advertise their disrespect of women.”

The New York congresswoman then launched into an unsolicited lesson on what she called “basic respect 101.”

“Government colleagues referring to each other in a public or professional context (aka who don’t know me like that) should refer to their peers as ‘Congresswoman,’ ‘Representative,’” she wrote. 

The tweets appear to have been provoked by President Donald Trump’s penchant for using first names or nicknames while speaking about US government officials. He is known to address Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as simply “Nancy.”

Her etiquette tips received voracious applause from her supporters. One presumably female commenter claimed that “they don’t respect us enough to say our full names.”

Another AOC fan urged the lawmaker to “keep drilling” the Republicans on the issue, expressing hope that “we will eventually smash the white patriarchy.”

However, not everyone oozed with admiration over AOC’s Twitter proclamation. Multiple observers asked AOC how she felt about people referring to recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as “RBG.” One Twitter user discovered that Ocasio-Cortez has herself used the informal nickname while referring to the Supreme Court justice in a “public context,” seemingly breaking her own rules. 

Others claimed that AOC violated her own etiquette guidelines in an accusatory tweet directed at Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, in which she used neither “congresswoman” nor “representative” to address her colleague.

The idea that Republicans, or more specifically President Donald Trump, only uses “disrespectful” nicknames when addressing women was also questioned. 

Matt Walsh, from the conservative Daily Wire, pointed out that Trump has all kinds of nicknames for male lawmakers, many of them far from flattering. 

AOC has a habit of stirring up Twitter controversy. She nearly caused the platform to implode after arguing that a recent crime spike in New York City was caused by people needing to pay their rent and buy food for their children.

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Why is crime spiking in NYC? ‘People can’t pay their rent’ and need to shoplift to feed their children, says AOC 

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October 23rd 2020, 11:17 am

Czech PM demands health minister’s resignation for breaching his own coronavirus rules

RT

The Czech Republic’s health minister, Roman Prymula, is set to lose his job after attending an establishment that appeared to be open in violation of the Covid-19 lockdown rules he implemented.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said he will fire Prymula if he refuses to resign after an “inexcusable” mistake saw him photographed leaving a restaurant that should have been closed after new Covid-19 rules were introduced. 

The Czech daily tabloid, Blesk, claims Prymula also failed to wear a mask while in his chauffeur-driven ministerial car. 

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However, the minister has held a brief news conference at which he declared he had no intention of resigning, and instead argued he had not broken any lockdown measures, as he did not directly meet anyone in the restaurant.

Prague City Council responded by stating that it will begin “administrative proceedings” to hold Prymula and the restaurant accountable for their actions.

As he was appointed as health minister only last month – with a specific mandate to implement stronger steps to combat the spread of coronavirus – this breach of his own measures is an embarrassing blow for the government.

Prymula’s cabinet colleagues have publicly backed Babiš’s call for his dismissal, with Interior Minister Jan Hamáček stating that “the prime minister’s decision was the only possible and correct solution,” and was necessary to “maintain public confidence.” Hamáček had already posted on Facebook that lockdown rules must “apply without excuse to everyone.” 

The Czech Republic has been under increasing pressure to combat the surge in Covid-19 cases, racking up more than 223,000 new infections since the country’s first reported infection in March. Taking into account per capita figures, this is the highest number in the European Union. The country has reported a third of its total cases within the past seven days alone. 

This isn’t the first coronavirus-related scandal to hit the country’s government. Back in the summer, Babiš faced criticism himself, after he went on holiday to Crete despite urging his citizens not to leave the Czech Republic.

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October 23rd 2020, 10:16 am

Indian Navy fires anti-ship missile with ‘deadly accuracy,’ sending a strong signal to China (VIDEO)

RT

India's anti-ship missile sunk a vessel during naval drills in the Arabian Sea, demonstrating New Delhi's “combat readiness” in the Indian Ocean region where it is challenged by China.

The Indian Navy released footage of an INS Prabal corvette sinking an old, decommissioned frigate with a missile launched at maximum range.

The country’s veer-class corvettes are customized versions of Project 1241 (Tarantul class) Soviet missile warships, armed with KH-35 anti-ship missiles. According to the navy, the projectile “homed in with deadly accuracy at maximum range, sinking the target ship.”

The launch was part of ongoing drills involving the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and a number of warships and attack helicopters, as India shows its strength and “combat-readiness” across the Indian Ocean region amid an ongoing border standoff with China.

The relationship between China and India has worsened in the last few months, after tensions flared up at the disputed border, known as the Line of Actual Control, in the Himalayan region. As a result of the fighting, 20 Indian soldiers were killed, according to India’s Minister of External Affairs, while China did not confirm the number of casualties on its side.

The two nations have held several rounds of high-level talks in an attempt to secure a peaceful resolution to the stand-off and ensure a comprehensive disengagement of troops. For now, both India and China maintain confrontational positions along their disputed border in the remote Ladakh region.

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‘Differences, not disputes’: India & China agree on de-escalation plan, say border standoff ‘not in the interest of either side’

At the same time, China has been significantly expanding its engagements in the Indian Ocean, challenging New Delhi not just with its meaningful military buildup, but with the so-called “debt-trap diplomacy” that it exercises towards its partner nations in the region.

In a statement released earlier this week, India’s Ministry of Defense laid out its operational readiness at sea. While it did not mention China directly, the ministry stressed that in light of the “prevailing security situation” the navy “would continue maintaining a high-tempo of operations in coming months.” 

READ MORE: India completes successful test of its own 3rd-gen anti-tank missile, in bid to end reliance on foreign weapons

Alongside the practice drill, the Indian Navy formally inducted the last of four indigenously built Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) stealth corvettes under Project 28 at the Naval Dockyard in Eastern Naval Command.

In recent months, India has increased its missile testing, launching the high-speed expendable aerial target ‘Abhyas’ and the 700km range surface-to-surface supersonic strategic missile ‘Shaurya’, among other weapons. Thursday, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired a homemade Nag anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).

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October 23rd 2020, 10:16 am

Erdogan confirms tests of Russian-made S-400 systems, says Turkey not concerned with US objections

RT

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed that Turkey carried out tests of the S-400 air defense systems it bought from Russia last year, adding that the US' negative attitude towards such drills didn't matter to Ankara.

Reports that the Turkish military has successfully tested state-of-the-art Russian systems emerged last week, drawing a strong backlash from Washington. The State Department said such behavior was “incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO ally and strategic partner of the US.”

The tests “have been and are being conducted,” Erdogan told reporters on Friday, officially confirming the S-400 drills.

The US stance absolutely does not concern us. If we are not going to test these capabilities at our disposal, then what are we going to do?

Turkey is “determined” to keep testing its large, medium, and heavy military equipment, no matter which country had originally produced it, Erdoğan pointed out.

“It seems that the gentlemen [in Washington] are especially bothered that this is a weapon belonging to Russia,” he added.

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Amid spat with US over Moscow deal, defense minister insists Turkey won't integrate Russian-made S-400 systems into NATO networks

The US, which insists the use of Russian S-400s by Turkey will compromise NATO’s defenses, has threatened the country with sanctions and “serious consequences” to bilateral security ties if they're put in service. The $2.5 billion deal with Moscow to purchase the systems has already cost Ankara its participation in America’s F-35 fighter jet program.

Moscow blasted Washington’s pressure on Turkey to give up on S-400s as unfair competition in the arms market. Ankara believes the Russian hardware is essential to assuring its national security. The Turkish military received the first S-400s from Russia last year and plans to make them fully operational by the end of 2020.

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VIDEO shows Turkey test-firing Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system for FIRST TIME – Reuters

On Thursday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar gave assurances that S-400s won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but will rather be “used as a standalone system.” 

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October 23rd 2020, 10:16 am

'Big mistake': Miranda Maverick responds after rival Jojua 'says she will kill her' in faceoff ahead

RT

Things got tense at the faceoff between Miranda Maverick and Liana Jojua ahead of their showdown at UFC 254 on Friday, in which the latter threatened to “kill” the former.

Both fighters posted videos of their faceoff to Instagram. In Jojua’s - which does not include the audio - the smiling Georgian can be seen saying something to the American, who then left the faceoff without shaking her opponent’s outstretched hand.

The 25-year-old accompanied the video with the caption: “Face to face. The most difficult weight-cutting is over, all that remains is to go out and fight.”

Maverick commented on it, saying, “See you in the cage.”

In her version of the video, which included the audio of the event, Jojua can be heard making a comment, which Maverick said in her caption was a threat to "kill" her.

“Faceoffs are done and I weighed in at 126. Opponent made a big mistake by telling me ‘I will kill you’ like some remake of Rocky.

“You would think they’d learn not to threaten me. Never ends well for my opponents who do that... Then has the audacity to try and shake my hand, pffft not happening.”

Maverick will be making her UFC debut on Saturday. She is 7-2 in her MMA career, which she has thus far largely spent competing in Invicta.

‘She Wolf’ is 8-3 in MMA and is appearing in the UFC for the third time. Jojua lost on her UFC debut to Sarah Moras, but bounced back with a win over Diana Belbita in June.

The pair are both submission specialists, with Jojua claiming six wins while Maverick has five via that method.

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October 23rd 2020, 9:59 am

Stock market could well be off to the races again soon, technical analyst tells Boom Bust

RT

As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, the fight for a stimulus deal in the US continues to rage. RT’s Boom Bust explores what effect the turbulent talks might have on stock market performance.

The founder of Technical Traders, Chris Vermeulen, says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that the stimulus deal is “just about there” is definitely good news. The US is seeing some renewed strength, he says, adding “we have had a really good run in the last four weeks.”

Vermeulen explains that “People are waiting for a stimulus plan before new money really gets pushed into this market. We know it’s coming, but [they’re] just not ready to jump into the stock market yet.”

He adds that, after the election and the stimulus deal, “the stock market could probably be off to the races again.” This is just a pause, he says, pointing out that investors are waiting for the stimulus program to be enacted before they commit more money to the stock market.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

October 23rd 2020, 9:59 am

Greenpeace condemns Japanese plans to release Fukushima reactor water into the sea, claims it could

RT

Greenpeace has warned that radioactive water from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant contains matter that could damage human DNA if discharged into the ocean, as reportedly planned.

Contaminated water from the now-defunct Fukushima nuclear plant contains a radioactive substance which is harmful to human DNA, a Greenpeace report claims. The paper was released on Friday morning and addressed reports that Japan will discharge 1.23 million tons of water into the Pacific Ocean.

The publication titled 'Stemming the tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis' claims that the supposedly treated water still contains "dangerous levels of carbon-14," a radioactive substance that has the "potential to damage human DNA."

Since the earthquake, tsunami and resultant nuclear catastrophe in 2011, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has struggled to manage the buildup of contaminated liquid at the disaster site.

Storage tanks were built to house the contaminated water, which was used to cool the nuclear reactor cores. However, the cleanup task was made more difficult as it emerged that cracks in the reactors' foundations had allowed huge quantities of water to seep into the earth and contaminate groundwater. This left the authorities with more water to treat.

Greenpeace also accused the government of spreading mistruths about the disaster's aftermath. The report claims that the Japanese government has incorrectly described the water as "treated," and has given the impression that radioactive tritium is the only radionuclide in the water.

Space to store the liquid is reportedly scheduled to run out by 2022, forcing the authorities to make a decision regarding its disposal.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday that a decision needs to be made swiftly. "We cannot postpone the issue forever. We would like to make a decision responsibly as soon as possible," he added.

Whilst the Japanese government has yet to make a formal announcement, it was reported last week that the authorities favor discharging the dirty water into the sea over the course of many years.

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On March 11, 2011, the northeastern coast of Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a 15-meter tsunami. Fukushima's nuclear plant largely survived the earthquake but was damaged greatly by the tsunami. The subsequent meltdown was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

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October 23rd 2020, 9:45 am

Biden called out for ‘lying’ that Republican Congress obstructed criminal justice reforms under Obam

RT

Presidential candidate Joe Biden claimed at the final debate with Donald Trump that the Democrats couldn’t pass criminal justice reform as the GOP controlled Congress, prompting online posters to point out it wasn’t the case.

President Trump took a jab at his electoral challenger during the Thursday debate, asking, “Why didn’t you get [criminal justice reform] done? … You know why, Joe? Because you’re all talk and no action.”

Biden was quick to defend the former Democratic administration’s supposed inaction on the issue, saying he and former president Barack Obama’s “had a Republican Congress,” which hindered any reform.

As the two major US parties regularly obstruct each other’s agenda, the politician may well have had a point. However, Biden’s remarks were far from accurate – and many commenters online were quick to spell it out.

Not only did Congress go Republican for only the last two years of the Obama-Biden administration, but, during its first two years, Democrats had a super-majority, dominating both the House and the Senate.

Online users were understandably giddy to point out such an obvious falsehood, and called Biden a liar. “Anyone with access to Google knows that’s a lie,” tweeted Republican House candidate Kimberly Klacik.

Furthermore, some commenters felt Biden’s remarks undermined his core campaign message of being a moderate, able to govern shoulder to shoulder with Republicans. “Joe Biden just told you he can’t work across the aisle,” wrote conservative political commentator Steven Crowder.

Biden supporters, however, thought he “stunned” Trump with what was a “correct response,” pointing out that Republicans were “hell bent” on stopping the Democrats’ agenda.

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October 23rd 2020, 9:29 am

'Putting the government to shame': Marcus Rashford hailed as he pursues free meals for kids despite

RT

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has been hailed for highlighting UK resources for free meals for children after members of parliament refused to extend the player's campaign to help end child food poverty.

England international Rashford, 22, has drawn praise from several sectors across the United Kingdom for his campaign to help provide foot and nutrition to to schoolchildren through Easter 2021. 

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A vote in the UK Parliament was backed by opposition party Labour, but Boris Johnson's Conservative government voted down the measure on Wednesday - dealing a blow to Rashford's campaign, but also, he says, to the masses of children across the United Kingdom who will be going hungry and feeling like they have been abandoned by their government officials. 

Rashford, who has spoken of how important free school meals were for him growing up, addressed the matter on social media, saying: "A significant number of children are going to bed tonight not only hungry but feeling like they do not matter.

"We must stop stigmatising, judging and pointing fingers. Our views are being clouded by political affiliation. This is not politics, this is humanity."

Rashford's plea did not fall on deaf ears. By Thursday, dozens of businesses across the United Kingdom had pledged to supply free meals to schoolchildren and provided backing to Rashford's campaign which has been absent from the government, with offers coming in from Bolton, Liverpool, Sheffield, Wigan, Bristol, Manchester, Devon, Nottingham and many more towns and cities across the UK.

Rashford continued his tweeting spree on Friday, identifying several further businesses who are backing the Manchester United man's move. 

He has been widely backed by the footballing community, and the wider community-at-large, for his campaign and was recently awarded an MBE after he was instrumental in forcing a U-turn from the government with regard to free school meal vouchers over the summer.

Rashford, who scored United's Champions League winner away to Paris Saint-Germain this week, was praised by Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer for his dedication to social causes such as this and said that was an example of his maturation as both a player and a man.

"He's now at a stage, we all speak about Marcus as this experienced boy and he's 23 soon," Solksjaer said. "

"He's just between being a talent and being experienced, and you can see more and more of that experience coming out. We hope and we trust that Marcus' background here, background with his family will keep him just developing and kick him on in his career."

October 23rd 2020, 9:29 am

Zizou under pressure: Zidane 'has two games to save his job' at Real Madrid with Barcelona awaiting

RT

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane reportedly has just two games to save his job at the club with Barcelona looming in El Clasico on Saturday.

French outlet L’Equipe reported as much after Los Blancos lost back-to-back home games in the run-up to Saturday’s showdown at the Camp Nou, after which Real face Borussia Monchengladbach in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

Zidane finds himself under pressure after his side were beaten 1-0 by Cadiz last weekend - a scoreline which could have been much less narrow on another day - and lost 3-2 to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday.

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To make matters worse for Real in the latter game, the Ukrainian side - who were 3-0 up by halftime - were missing 13 first-team players after 19 positive coronavirus cases within the club.

It all makes for far-from-ideal preparation for Saturday’s clash with Barcelona, against whom Los Blancos have won just one and lost four of their last eight meetings.

Barcelona also lost their last match in La Liga as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Getafe, but they bounced back with a 5-1 win over Ferencvaros in Europe on Tuesday.

Despite being a far-from-vintage edition of the Catalan giants, they’ve played better football and looked more convincing than Madrid in the early weeks of the season.

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Real have scored eight goals in six matches in all competitions, while Barca have notched 13 in five. At the other end, Real have shipped six, and Barcelona three.

Barcelona will feel they’ve got an ace up their sleeve, too, in the form of who else but Lionel Messi. After all, the Argentinian has 26 goals - the all-time record - and 14 assists in El Clasico.

However, Real needn’t be without hope for Saturday’s game.

While their recent record in El Clasico hasn’t been particularly inspiring - and has allowed Barcelona to catch up to 96 head-to-head wins apiece in competitive matches - Real did have the edge in their meetings last season.

Zidane’s men held Barca to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou before beating them 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu, making the campaign the first since the 2012-13 season that the Blaugrana have not won at least one of their league meetings.

What’s more, Messi hasn’t fared that well against them recently, having failed to score or assist in his last five appearances against them.

The 33-year-old hasn’t found the net from open play yet in this campaign either.

Real will be hoping that dry spell continues, while for Barcelona it would be the perfect time for it to come to an end.

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October 23rd 2020, 9:15 am

US suspends services at consulates & embassy in Turkey after ‘credible reports’ warn of terror attac

RT

The US Mission in Turkey has temporarily halted some of its operations, having received intelligence that American citizens, as well as a US diplomatic facility in Ankara, were at risk of attack.

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“Credible reports” show that potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings are being planned against US citizens in Istanbul, the US Embassy in Turkey said in a statement released on Friday. According to the diplomatic mission, the US Consulate General in Istanbul has been specifically targeted. 

The statement urged US citizens in Turkey to stay vigilant, especially in “locations where Americans or foreigners may gather,” such as office buildings and shopping malls. 

The threat has been deemed serious enough to temporarily suspend citizen and visa services at US Mission facilities in the country, including the US Embassy in Ankara, the US Consulate General in Istanbul, and two other US consulates in Turkey. American citizens who had appointments at these facilities will be contacted and given instructions on how to reschedule their meetings, the statement said. 

The mission did not elaborate on where the “credible reports” came from, nor did it say who might be behind the alleged terror and kidnapping plots, but it’s not uncommon for US diplomatic buildings in the region to be targeted by terrorists, militant groups, or violent protesters. Most notably, the US Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone is regularly attacked by mortar fire. The compound was stormed by a furious mob last December, after US airstrikes allegedly killed 25 Iraqi fighters. Washington had accused the militants, part of Kata’ib Hezbollah, of carrying out a rocket attack on a US base with Iranian backing.

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October 23rd 2020, 8:59 am

Warring sides in Libya sign ‘historic’ permanent ceasefire deal, UN says

RT

The opposing parties in the Libyan conflict signed a deal on Friday for a permanent nationwide ceasefire, the UN said, adding that the move could become a turning point towards stability in the country.

The ceasefire accord between the two delegations of the Libyan 5+5 Joint Military Commission was reached at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) showed a live video of the signing ceremony on its Facebook account on Friday.

Military representatives of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) participated in the negotiations that are likely to be followed by political consultations in Tunisia next month.

The talks culminated in “a historic achievement” when the Libyan parties reached a permanent ceasefire agreement in all areas of the country, the UN said. It marks “an important turning point towards achieving peace and stability in Libya.”

Friday’s move comes after mediation led by UN envoy Stephanie Williams this week. “Your patriotism was your way forward and you were able to reach a ceasefire agreement,” she told the delegations after the signing ceremony.

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The first commercial passenger flight in more than a year from Tripoli landed in the eastern city of Benghazi on Friday, and Williams also hopes the accord reached in Geneva will allow displaced people and refugees to return to their homes.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in early October that “Libya’s future is at stake.” He described the peace talks in Geneva as a “rare opportunity” for peace.

Libya is split between the GNA and the LNA, which control the eastern part of the country. Haftar-led forces launched an assault on Tripoli in April 2019, which ended in June, after Turkey intervened in the conflict.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday only time will show how lasting the ceasefire in Libya will be. “Its reliability does not seem too achievable to me,” he noted.

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October 23rd 2020, 8:45 am

Huawei’s revenue growth slows sharply as Covid-19 & US sanctions bite

RT

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei said the company’s revenue growth slowed significantly in the third quarter of 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and US sanctions, which had disrupted its business.

Revenue for the September quarter came in at 217.3 billion yuan ($32.55 billion) – up just 3.7 percent from the 209.5 billion yuan ($31.39 billion) recorded in the same period last year. 

For the first nine months of 2020, revenue totaled 671.3 billion yuan ($100.58 billion) – up 9.9 percent from the 610.8 billion yuan ($91.52 billion) reported in the same period in 2019. That is a significant slowdown in growth, given that, in the first nine months of last year, Huawei’s revenue growth was 24.4 percent.

The company’s net profit margin was eight percent for the first nine months of the year, down from 8.7 percent in the same period last year.

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Huawei did not specify which parts of its business had contributed to revenue growth. Earlier this year, the firm said its consumer business, which includes smartphones, was responsible for nearly all of the $12 billion shortfall in revenue it saw in 2019 versus its own targets.

“As the world grapples with Covid-19, Huawei’s global supply chain was put under intense pressure, and its production and operations saw increasing difficulties,” the company said, adding that, for the first three quarters of 2020, the results “basically met expectations.” It added that it would do its “best to find solutions, to survive and forge forward, and fulfill its obligations to customers and suppliers.”

Huawei’s business was impacted after Washington effectively cut off the Chinese firm’s access to US software and chip-making equipment, following similar measures in May 2019 that are gradually taking effect. 

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The Trump administration also threatened to prevent supplies of semiconductors being made available by its main supplier, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. This week, Huawei announced the launch of its latest flagship smartphone, which is potentially its last in the high-end Android segment most dependent on US technology.

Just days ago, having succumbed to US pressure, Sweden became the latest nation to ban Huawei from its fifth-generation (5G) network infrastructure.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

October 23rd 2020, 8:45 am

Astronomers catalogue 1,000 worlds that can ‘see’ Earth – and are candidates for possible COLONIZATI

RT

Two astronomers have rethought the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by producing a ‘star map’ of exoplanets that have a direct line of sight of our planet as it crosses in front of our sun.

Monitoring planets as they transit between an observer and their star is one of the main methods by which we Earthlings discover potentially viable exoplanets for colonization, so the thinking behind this new research is that equally advanced civilizations would use the same method to find us. 

Transits provide crucial information about a planet’s composition and atmosphere, and thus viability for hosting life.

Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy at Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences, in New York, and director of its Carl Sagan Institute, and Joshua Pepper, associate professor of physics at Lehigh University, in Pennsylvania, compiled a list of 1,004 such potentially habitable exoplanets, with stars similar to our sun, all within 326 light-years (100 parsecs) of Earth.

Using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) star catalogue and the Gaia star map, the pair whittled down a vast number of exoplanets to just those that would be able to detect traces of life on our planet if they possessed similarly advanced civilizations to our own. 

The exoplanets all align with the Earth’s ecliptic, or plane of orbit around the sun, which would grant them a viewpoint to observe our biosphere. 

Some 508 of the planets on the list have a minimum 10-hour window in which they can see the Earth on each orbit.

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“Let’s reverse the viewpoint to that of other stars and ask from which vantage point other observers could find Earth as a transiting planet,” Kaltenegger said.

“If we’re looking for intelligent life in the universe that could find us and might want to get in touch” she added, “we’ve just created the star map of where we should look first.”

Meanwhile, our own transit observations of potentially habitable exoplanets out there in the universe are set to increase massively with the launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in 2021.

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October 23rd 2020, 8:45 am

Violence erupts on Poland’s streets as people protest near total abortion ban

RT

Police fired pepper spray at hundreds of demonstrators in Warsaw as they opposed a court ruling almost completely banning abortion in the country.

Several hundred people gathered in front of Poland’s Constitutional Court and marched towards the residence of the Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the country’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), to protest a court decision that essentially outlaws abortion.

Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. In response, the protesters threw rocks and attempted to break through the cordon around the house.

The demonstration was finally dispersed in the early hours of Friday morning. However, the organizers called for more people to gather throughout the day. A police spokesman confirmed 15 people were detained.

Thursday evening also saw smaller protests in other locations across Poland, including Krakow, Lodz and Szczecin, which went ahead without clashes with law enforcement.

Opponents of the court’s ruling have accused the judges of acting on behalf of the PiS, as the party nominated the majority of individuals on the Constitutional Tribunal. PiS has denied any attempts to influence the court.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic called it a “sad day for women’s rights,” and said, “removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in Poland amounts to a ban and violates human rights.”

Kara Godek, a member of Poland’s Stop Abortion group, praised the decision, saying, “today Poland is an example for Europe, it’s an example for the world.”

Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled on Thursday that abortion due to fetal defects are unconstitutional, banning the most common legal grounds for terminating a pregnancy in the country. Prior to the decision, Poland already had some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in Europe.

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October 23rd 2020, 8:45 am

A powerful & game-changing Russia/China military alliance is ‘quite possible’ in future but not on t

RT

An alliance between two of the planet's three most powerful militaries would profoundly alter the world order. Vladimir Putin believes that it is possible in the future that Russia and China could unite, but not yet necessary.

Speaking on Thursday at a virtual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, Putin stressed that Russia “does not need” an alliance with China, “but, theoretically, it's quite possible to imagine.” The superpowers are increasingly close, and conduct joint exercises together.

Valdai is a Russian think tank and forum established in 2004. It hosts an annual meeting attended by Putin. The event is usually held in Sochi, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic was condensed this year. 

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“Russian-Chinese relations have reached an unprecedented high level,” the president said. “We treat each other with great confidence, have strong, stable, and, most importantly, effective working relations in all areas.”

Moscow and Beijing currently cooperate closely in many fields, including militarily. In September, China took part in Russia's large-scale joint exercise, Kavkaz-2020, along with other Kremlin allies. According to Putin, the two countries “exchange best practices in the field of military construction,” and have high-level cooperation in the technological sphere. As well as benefiting the Russian Armed Forces, the partnership also increases China’s defense capability, he explained.

“It's not only about the exchange of products, sales of military goods and the exchange of technologies,” the president explained. “There are some very sensitive things here.”

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Sino-Russian cooperation is currently primarily economic, with trade volume between the two countries exceeding $111 billion last year. In recent years, both Beijing and Moscow have focused on cross-border commerce and have worked together to de-dollarize. In the first quarter of 2020, the share of the greenback in trade between the countries fell below 50 percent for the first time. In August, top Russian analyst Alexey Maslov explained that the partnership between the superpowers is approaching a “breakthrough moment.”

“The collaboration between Russia and China in the financial sphere tells us that they are finally finding the parameters for a new alliance with each other,” Maslov told the Japanese publication Nikkei Asian Review.

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October 23rd 2020, 8:29 am

As Covid-19 crisis deepens, Russian Health Minister reveals Sputnik V vaccine is performing well in

RT

The world's first coronavirus vaccine is performing well in post-registration trials, according to Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko. He also revealed that production has cranked up and nationwide deployment is imminent.

“We were the first in the world to register a vaccine, Sputnik V,” Murashko said on Friday. “It is currently undergoing testing, including observations on its effectiveness, and is showing great results.”

Sputnik V, which was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 11, is currently in its third and final stage of clinical trials, involving 40,000 Muscovite volunteers. According to the Moscow mayor's office, everyone inoculated will be tracked by medical professionals for six months, and can report side effects using a mobile app. A quarter of the volunteers will be given a placebo.

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The vaccine is also being trialed in Belarus, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, and will soon undergo testing in India.

While the final phase is ongoing, Russia has already begun making Sputnik V in large quantities. According to Murashko, “the results of the scaling up of production are impressive.”

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Earlier this week, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov noted that the number of Sputnik V doses produced each month may increase five times between October and December, with the volume reaching seven figures before the end of the year.

“By the end of the month, we want to reach roughly 300,000 doses, in November about 800,000, approaching 1.5 million in December,” Manturov told the Rossiya 24 news broadcaster.

On Wednesday, Putin revealed that selling the Covid-19 vaccine on the world market could generate around $100 billion for Russia. On August 11, the day Sputnik V was registered, the country received the news that 20 countries around the world had already ordered a billion doses.

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October 23rd 2020, 8:15 am

Australian special forces allegedly EXECUTED hog-tied Afghan prisoner because there was no space for

RT

Australian special forces have been accused of killing an unarmed, bound prisoner in cold blood, as a four-year probe into alleged war crimes committed by Aussie troops in Afghanistan nears its end.

A US Marine helicopter crew chief told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that a group of Australian soldiers shot and killed an Afghan prisoner as they were preparing to be airlifted after a raid. 

According to the marine, identified only as Josh, the Aussie commandos radioed his helicopter to tell them they needed transportation for seven prisoners captured during the operation. 

“And you just heard this silence, and then we heard a pop. And then they said, ‘OK, we have six prisoners’,” Josh told the Australian outlet. 

The US marine said it was the first time he had seen something he couldn’t “morally justify,” as the prisoner had already been detained and posed no threat to the Aussie forces. 

We knew somebody was already cuffed up, ready to go, taken prisoner, and we just witnessed them kill a prisoner.

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He said he spoke about the incident with the rest of his crew and the team agreed there was “no excuse” for what happened. “It was a very deliberate decision to break the rules of war,” he claimed.

A spokesperson for the Australian Defence Force told ABC it could not comment on the report because it may be the subject of an ongoing inquiry into alleged misconduct by Australia’s Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.

The secretive inquiry began more than four years ago. A report outlining the probe’s findings is expected to be released by the end of the year. 

ABC has reported numerous alleged crimes committed by Australian forces in Afghanistan, after the outlet obtained military documents that detailed the killing of unarmed civilians, including children. 

The Australian Federal Police carried out a highly controversial raid of ABC’s Sydney headquarters, reportedly in an effort to confiscate the explosive leaked documents. In June, a federal prosecutor recommended that charges be brought against an ABC journalist who reported on the leaks, but the government is still deciding whether to take the reporter to court. 

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October 23rd 2020, 8:15 am

AstraZeneca’s vaccine rejected by Covid-stricken Peru over high costs and lack of data

RT

The government of Peru is dropping the costly AstraZeneca vaccine, as the company failed to provide testing data and is offering too few inoculations.

Speaking on Thursday, Peruvian Prime Minister Walter Martos stated that the multinational pharmaceutical company AstraZenaca had not provided the government with enough information about the candidate vaccine, adding that the price was too high and the quantity available was limited. 

They were offering us a very small quantity of vaccines for the country in comparison to other laboratories that are offering us larger quantities at lower costs.

Martos also claimed that AstraZeneca required a substantial advance payment that would be lost in the event the candidate vaccine did not meet the required safety standards.

The prime minister said the government had requested testing data from the pharmaceutical company, but it had not been forthcoming. He added that other firms had provided the requested data, but AstraZeneca had not. 

His comments follow those of Minister of Health Pilar Mazzetti, who claimed the lack of information meant a prior agreement could not be reached. Mazzetti also highlighted the reported complications in the AstraZeneca vaccine trial, noting the death of a Brazilian participant earlier in the week and two cases of transverse myelitis in the UK. 

AstraZeneca, which developed its vaccine in conjunction with the University of Oxford, had planned to conduct trials in Peru. China’s Sinopharm is already undertaking tests in the country, and US multinational Johnson & Johnson is expected to do the same.  

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Peru has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, but the rate of new infections is falling. Martos said that a study had found that 35 percent of the population have Covid antibodies, meaning they had already been infected. However, there was no room for complacency, he cautioned: “We have a percentage of between 60 and 65 percent of people still susceptible to being infected.”

On Wednesday, the country registered 2,991 new cases and 47 new deaths. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Peru has recorded 879,876 infections and 33,984 fatalities. The Andean nation has the highest mortality rate in the world with respect to the total population.

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October 23rd 2020, 7:59 am

'They should name the new stadium after him': Pique hails Messi, blasts Barcelona bosses over treatm

RT

Gerard Pique has revealed he messaged Lionel Messi imploring him to stay at Barcelona after he handed in a transfer request over the summer and said he would have handled things differently to president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Messi asked to leave Barca after 20 years in the summer having grown disillusioned with Bartomeu’s running of the club and the impact that has had on the team’s ability to compete at the highest level.

Pique said he reminded the Argentinian that Bartomeu would be gone after the presidential elections at the club in March: “I didn't have much to do with Leo during that moment because it was a very personal decision. I remember one message I sent: ‘Leo, it’s one year, then new people will come in…’”

Bartomeu’s tenure could be over even sooner, as a referendum on his future is set to be held in November after 20,687 club members gave a vote of no confidence in his presidency.

Messi eventually decided to see out the final year of his contract at the Camp Nou after being told by Bartomeu that he’d only be able to leave in the summer if another club met his €700 million ($829 million) release clause.

The forward said Bartomeu had told him in the past he was free to leave the club at the end of the season provided he informed them before June 10.

However, a dispute arose over the date of his transfer request - which came in August after the season was interrupted by the pandemic - and he did not wish to take Barcelona to court.

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Pique said a player of Messi’s stature should have been treated better by the club.

“Leo more than earned the right to make a decision and if he felt he should leave... as president I would have acted differently. A player that's given so much in 16 years, you're obliged to reach an agreement with him.

“It can't be so evident that the two parties are so distanced from each other.

“How can it be that the best player in history gets up one day and sends a burofax because he feels he's not being listened to? What's happening?

“Leo deserves the lot. The new stadium should be named after him. We have to preserve our figures, not smear them.”

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has spent his entire career at the Camp Nou, where he has played a key role in the club winning 34 trophies, including 10 La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copas del Rey.

Messi is the club’s record goalscorer with 636 in 736 games, and he’s also laid on 280 assists. 

He’s now in the final year of his contract at the club, so unless Bartomeu’s replacement can convince him to sign a new deal in the coming months he’ll leave next summer for free.

If he makes 31 more appearances by then, he’ll equal Xavi Hernandez as the club’s record appearance-maker.

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October 23rd 2020, 7:29 am

Greek police launch manhunt as deputy leader of Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party refuses to report to pris

RT

Christos Pappas, a senior leader of Greece’s recently outlawed extreme-right Golden Dawn party, has refused to turn himself in after receiving jail time for his role in the group. A police search for the fugitive is underway.

Senior members of the party, including its former leader Nikos Michaloliakos, were each sentenced to 13 years in prison, after an appeals court ruled last week that Golden Dawn was a criminal organization linked to numerous acts of violence, including a high-profile murder. The verdict of the five-year trial was described as historic, with thousands of people rallying in the streets outside the courthouse in Athens. 

Papas was ordered to surrender to the authorities yesterday, but his lawyer, Periklis Stavrianakis, said on Friday that his client would not turn himself in. According to Stavrianakis, Papas believes his conviction will be overturned on appeal, and therefore sees no reason to begin his lengthy prison sentence. 

Police searched at least five properties linked to the ex-lawmaker but failed to locate him, state media reported. 

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Papas, whose father helped dictator Georgios Papadopoulos seize control of Greece in a military coup in 1967, has evaded arrest before. He was able to briefly avoid detention in 2013, after senior members of Golden Dawn were rounded up as part of an investigation into the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas. The musician’s murder, believed to have been politically motivated, shocked Greeks and led to the 2015 trial that led to Papas’s conviction. 

Thirty-nine Golden Dawn members received sentences in the trial, with all but two currently in police custody. The other fugitive from the law is Ioannis Lagos, a member of the European parliament. Lagos lives in Brussels and is protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. 

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October 23rd 2020, 7:15 am

15 new cases of vaccine-derived polio confirmed in South Sudan, months after victory over virus decl

RT

Health officials in South Sudan will launch a new four-day vaccination campaign on October 27, after a new outbreak of polio in the country, caused by a mutated, vaccine-derived form of the virus, infected some 15 people.

Despite declaring victory over the wild form of the infectious and contagious virus, which attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children, Africa’s youngest country has confirmed 15 new cases of vaccine-derived polio in recent weeks. 

Low immunization rates and poor sanitation provide the perfect conditions for the deadly pathogen to spread through contaminated water and food. 

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The weakened form of the virus, present in the orally administered vaccine, passes through feces and, with improper sanitation, can re-enter a vulnerable, under-immunized community, mutating as it spreads. 

“There is an outbreak of vaccine-derived polio, and the Ministry of Health and its partners are working on it, and I think it is under control,” the director general for preventative health services, Dr. John Pasquale Romunu, told reporters.

“It has affected quite a number of counties and states.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Africa free of polio back in August, after four countries, including South Sudan, eradicated wild poliovirus, the second such declaration of victory over a virus on the continent since smallpox was vanquished some 40 years earlier. 

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Dr. Mayen Machut Achek, an undersecretary in South Sudan’s health ministry, stated that the country was still free of wild poliovirus, adding that health officials were working with the WHO to end the vaccine-derived outbreak, through a new campaign targeting some 1.5 million children under the age of five.

“This is a vaccine-derived type, the cVDPV2, circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus Type 2. It’s vaccine-caused,” George Awzenio Legge, the director of the Expanded Program on Immunization at the Ministry of Health, said. “We want to reach all the children in every corner of South Sudan ... to stop this outbreak.”

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October 23rd 2020, 7:15 am

Beijing slams Washington for forcing Sri Lanka to pick a side as US-China relations worsen

RT

As the US demands Sri Lanka make a choice over its economic allegiances, the Chinese foreign ministry has warned that Washington’s attempt to bully nations into cutting their ties with Beijing won’t succeed.

Speaking on Friday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters that American efforts to disrupt Chinese relations with other countries will not be successful, adding that the US is pressuring nations into picking sides.

Zhao’s statement comes a day after the US State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs official, Dean Thompson, urged Sri Lanka to make “difficult but necessary choices” in securing its economic independence.

“We encourage Sri Lanka to review the options we offer for transparent and sustainable economic development in contrast to discriminatory and opaque practices,” Thompson said.

His comments come a week before US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives, and Indonesia. It is likely the main objective of the visit is to amass support against China and its influence in the region.

The US and Pompeo have maintained a tough stance on China’s role in the developing world, contending that China’s “debt diplomacy” often leaves poorer nations burdened with debt it cannot afford to service.

Earlier this month, a high-profile Chinese delegation flew to Colombo to meet Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, as Beijing is seeking to deepen its economic ties in the region, including through cooperation to battle the impact of Covid-19. Following the visit, Sri Lanka asked China for a $700 million syndicated loan, in addition to the $500 million already received from Beijing, aimed at helping Colombo cope during the pandemic.

China accuses the US of undermining regional stability. Last week, as the US Navy destroyer USS Barry sailed through the Taiwan Strait, it protested at Washington’s interference. The US claimed the vessel was in “routine transit.”  

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The spiraling war of words between China and the US has escalated in recent months in relation to Washington’s sale of arms to Taiwan and ramped-up US military operations in the South and East China Seas. In addition, the US has attempted to build a NATO-like alliance with regional powers, leading the Chinese to slam Washington’s “old-fashioned Cold War mentality.”

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October 23rd 2020, 7:15 am

Weighing on his mind: Khabib 'cut almost TWENTY pounds' in advance of UFC 254 weigh-ins

RT

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully made weight on Friday morning ahead of his world title defence against Justin Gaethje this weekend, but the Russian champion reportedly endured a tough weight cut.

Nurmagomedov tipped the scales within the championship weight limit of 155lbs early Friday in Abu Dhabi but the relief on the undefeated fighter's face was plain to see after what was being reported as an extensive weight cut ahead of the world title fight with Justin Gaethje on Saturday. 

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Khabib, who has had issues making weight in the past, was forced to weigh in behind a towel before appearing visibly relieved that the process was over and that he could now concentrate on the sole task of defending his title from the dangerous American on 'Fight Island'.

But just how difficult was Khabib's cut? According to TASS, Nurmagomedov cut 8.5kg (almost 19lbs) in the past few days in Abu Dhabi - including around 3kg (6.6lbs) on the morning of the weigh-in. 

This is a significant number but not something that the Russian will not have dealt with before in his career - as evidenced by Khabib being the first person to step on the scales as soon as the weigh-ins got underway.

"It was a hard night, like always," Khabib told BT Sport of his weight cut. "When I'm cutting weight, it's never going to be easy. Even if you cut a couple of pounds or you cut 20lbs, it's going to be the same. Cutting weight is always hard.

"When you're champion you have to show great example, you know? I want to be first everywhere. Even if I do some push-ups with my teammates, when I go running through mountains, I want to be first always."

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So, if his weigh-in experience was essentially by the book, Khabib says that the fight will also follow the same script as his previous efforts in the cage.

"Nothing changes," he declared. "I just want to make this guy tired and finish him. This is my plan."

October 23rd 2020, 7:15 am

Super Bowl winner Dana Stubblefield sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for raping woman who pos

RT

Former San Francisco 49ers defensive linesman Dana Stubblefield was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on Thursday for raping a developmentally disabled woman in 2015.

The 49-year-old had been convicted on charges of rape by force using a firearm, oral copulation by force and false imprisonment, by a jury on July 27 after a nine-month trial.

Stubblefield contacted the woman, then 31, after she posted an ad on a babysitting website.

After conducting an interview with her at his home in Morgan Hill, California on April 9, 2015, he texted the woman asking her to return to the house so he could pay her for her time.

Prosecutors said that upon returning to his house, he handed her $80 before locking the door, carrying her to a bedroom - despite being repeatedly told she did not want to have sex - and raping her. 

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In a statement, Deputy District Attorney Tim McInerny said: “‘No’ meant nothing to this defendant. Based on his status, I think he was never held accountable for prior criminal behavior. Today, he was properly held accountable.”

Stubblefield played for the 49ers - with whom he won the Super Bowl in 1994 - Washington Football Team and the Oakland Raiders during his NFL career.

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October 23rd 2020, 7:15 am

OPEC+ crude production cuts could be extended – Putin

RT

Russia does not rule out the possibility that OPEC+ could extend its current 7.7 million barrels per day of production cuts into next year, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The comments could be merely jawboning to a market that is desperately seeking reassurances that oil production will not ramp up too quickly beyond demand. But Russia has in the past been reluctant to keep up its end of the oil production cuts, so any mention that it is even thinking about a slower tapering of the cuts is noteworthy.

In fact, Russia had failed to bring its own oil production down to the level it agreed to for most of the period of cuts in 2019 and early 2020.

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Russia also was the spark that ignited the oil price war between it and Saudi Arabia-and by default the United States, when it refused to agree to additional cuts using the argument that as OPEC decreases its production, it opens the door for US producers to increase theirs.

Vladimir Putin has had several discussions with Saudi Arabia and the United States on the state of the oil markets. “We believe there is no need to change anything in our agreements,” Putin said. “We will watch how the market is recovering. The consumption is on the rise.”

Putin added, however, that they did not “rule out” the possibility that OPEC+ could keep the current production cuts instead of removing them at the pace it had initially agreed upon.

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But Putin didn’t stop there. “If need be, maybe, we can take other decisions on further reductions. But we don’t see such a necessity now,” Putin said, intimating that more cuts were at least possible.

Russia’s willingness to even consider additional cuts or waiting longer to ease the cuts than planned will be viewed positively by the markets, which has been struggling to break out of a rut where oil prices have traded in a relatively tight band for months.

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

October 23rd 2020, 7:15 am

'Rock 'n' roll, baby': Rising UFC sensation Khamzat Chimaev accepts callout from disgruntled welterw

RT

Khamzat Chimaev has already made history this year by winning three UFC fights in the span of just 66 days and could be set for another showdown before the year is out after he accepted top contender Leon Edwards' Twitter callout.

Chimaev's growing legend has been one of the UFC's success stories in a most unconventional of years, with the previously unheralded 'Borz' now being mentioned in the same breath as some of the promotion's most experienced contenders. 

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However, the ease in which Chimaev has dispatched his three opponents in the UFC hasn't exactly formed a procession of fighters looking to challenge him. Several names have been mentioned, ranging from Demian Maia to Chris Weidman and even Israel Adesanya but, so far at least, there has been no concrete indication as to who the UFC will nominate for Chimaev's next test.

One fighter whose head has appears to have turned is Leon Edwards. Despite previously distancing himself from a fight with the unranked Chimaev, things have recently changed for the Brit who is in the midst of an eight-fight win streak in the welterweight division after he was removed from the official UFC rankings on Thursday due to inactivity.

Edwards hasn't fought in the UFC since defeating Rafael Dos Anjos in July 2019 - but his recent absence from the cage certainly isn't for a lack of trying. A main event fight with former champ Tyron Woodley was nixed on fight week this past March due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, while he was also ruled out from a title bout with Kamaru Usman for the same issue. 

Now unranked and apparently with something to prove, Edwards has set a target on Chimaev's back.

"I'm still in the rankings," Edwards wrote on Twitter. "F*ck all the inactivity, the only reason I haven't fought is because all these so called top guys turned me down.

"Khamzat want to fight then?"

Within minutes, the reply came: "I’m always ready to fight. Let’s go. Rock'n'roll baby."

This represents a significant change in tack for the 18-3 Edwards, who had previously dictated that Chimaev needed some ranked wins before facing a fighter of his caliber.

"He has to at least beat somebody in the top f*cking 25 before you go straight to f*cking fight number 3," Edwards said earlier this month.

"Then we can go and start talking from there, but the MMA community is literally if you feed them anything, they’ll buy into it. It is what it is."

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But now with that rankings point moot, whether deliberately or otherwise, the UFC appear to have manufactured the ideal test for both men. Should Edwards hand Chimaev his first career defeat it would add significant ballast to his own world title credentials.

But if Chimaev gets his hand raised? It will be hard to deny that he deserves his very own spot at the top of the division. 

October 23rd 2020, 7:15 am

Chinese & Indian households getting richer during Covid pandemic while wealth in US declines – Credi

RT

A new report by Credit Suisse has found that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a decline in individual wealth worldwide. However, household wealth in China and India has bucked the trend.

According to the study, 2019 was a good year in terms of wealth creation. Total global wealth rose by $36.3 trillion, while wealth per adult increased by 8.5 percent compared with 2018 – “thus helping to cushion the blow caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Despite the stock market turmoil seen in the spring, household wealth is now slightly above the levels recorded at the start of the year, it said.

The actions of governments and central banks helped to mitigate the pandemic-related fallout as global wealth rebounded from an initial slump in the first quarter of the year, adding $1 trillion by June after ending 2019 at $399.2 trillion. 

“Given the damage inflicted by Covid-19 on the global economy, it seems remarkable that household wealth has emerged relatively unscathed,” said economist Anthony Shorrocks, one of the report’s authors.

The report showed that only China and India saw gains in household wealth in the first half of 2020, growing by 4.4 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively. Latin America suffered the most, with a 13 percent plunge, as currency devaluations aggravated losses in gross domestic product.

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Global wealth creation is expected to rebound next year as the economy recovers, according to Credit Suisse. The “main outlier” is North America, where the economy is hobbled by the “continued weakness due to the high prevalence of Covid-19” in the United States. The region’s wealth per adult is forecast to drop five percent this year, and remain near that level in 2021.

Credit Suisse said that global wealth per adult slipped to an average $76,984 from $77,309 at the start of the year. Millennials, who also suffered repercussions from the financial crisis, and the next post-Covid generation will have to deal with reduced economic activity and globalization, as well as discouraged travel.

READ MORE: We’re moving from the American century to a Chinese century – Max Keiser

“There is the promise of many more surprises to come,” said Nannette Hechler-Fayd’herbe, Credit Suisse’s chief investment officer for international wealth management and global head of the economics and research unit. “Among the major economies, China is likely to be the clear winner.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section 

October 23rd 2020, 7:15 am

China tells UK to 'correct mistakes' after visa offer for almost 3mn in Hong Kong

RT

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing has urged London to reconsider its policy that offers visas for Hong Kongers with British overseas status and paves the way for UK citizenship.

The Chinese ministry's Hong Kong office said Britain should "immediately correct its mistakes" regarding the visa policy. China's Foreign Ministry in Beijing also said that it reserves the right to take "further reaction."

The statements came after London confirmed on Thursday details of its citizenship offer for almost three million people with British national (overseas) status in its former colony.

This would be the first step towards earning the right of abode in the country and to full British citizenship.
The new visa scheme could allow more than one million people from China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to move to Britain in the next five years. They may work and study, but "won't be able to access public funds such as social welfare benefits."

London said there would be no quota on numbers, and a five-year visa would cost £250 ($330).

Applications will open on January 31, 2021, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.

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British Home Secretary Priti Patel said back in July that China's national security law for Hong Kong, which reignited protests in the city, had breached the Sino-British Joint Declaration and "could not be ignored."

The law introduced harsher punishments for offenses like insulting China's national symbols, attempting to break away from the country, and using violence to intimidate people in order to further a political cause.

The Chinese embassy in Britain warned in July that Beijing firmly opposes the offer to provide more privileges for Hong Kong residents and reserves the right to take measures.

The HKSAR government earlier also urged London to stop interfering in its affairs.

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October 23rd 2020, 6:09 am

Scientists discover ‘grappling hook’ which makes coronavirus so much more infectious than its SARS p

RT

Researchers have found the secret weapon used by SARS-CoV-2 which makes it so much more infectious than its predecessor SARS-CoV was 17 years ago, potentially unlocking new ways to fight the spread of the pandemic.

Much like the original SARS, SARS-CoV-2 uses the ACE2 receptor to access our cells and spread rapidly throughout our respiratory systems and beyond. 

“The starting point of our study was the question why SARS-CoV, a coronavirus that led to a much smaller outbreak in 2003, and SARS-CoV-2, spread in such a different way even if they use the same main receptor ACE2,” says University of Helsinki virologist Ravi Ojha.

Researchers from the Technical University of Munich in Germany and the University of Helsinki in Finland examined the virus’ spiky coating under an electron microscope and compared the genomes of the two viruses.

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They found that the novel coronavirus had ‘learned a new trick,’ so to speak, picking up a kind of ‘hook’ used by other nasty pathogens like Ebola, HIV and avian flu, to latch onto human tissues more aggressively. 

They discovered that the coronavirus uses this ‘grappling hook’ on the receptor neuropilin-1, which lines the nerve tissues inside the human nasal cavity. 

To confirm their suspicions, the researchers then deployed monoclonal antibodies (an antibody made by cloning white blood cells), which they engineered to block access to neuropilin-1. 

They then introduced ‘pseudoviruses,’ designed to mimic SARS-CoV-2 behaviors but without any of the intense self-replication properties, which found it far more difficult to infect cells when the neuropilin-1 was blocked.

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“If you think of ACE2 as a door lock to enter the cell, then neuropilin-1 could be a factor that directs the virus to the door,” says Balistreri. 

Given the density of neuropilin-1 along nerve tissues in the human nasal cavity, it essentially acts as a welcoming party for SARS-CoV-2 which then only needs to flash its ACE2 before it can engage in a free-for-all inside the human body, with destructive consequences witnessed the world over. 

Experiments on mice confirmed the receptor’s role in the virus gaining access to their nervous system, though a direct link to the traumatic damage witnessed on human brains after severe Covid-19 has yet to be properly studied. 

“We could determine that neuropilin-1, at least under the conditions of our experiments, promotes transport into the brain, but we cannot make any conclusion whether this is also true for SARS-CoV-2,” says neurologist Mika Simons from the Technical University of Munich.

The researchers have begun exploring ways to interrupt the connection between the virus and neuropilin-1, with a view to making it less infectious, with promising early results and laboratory tests already underway.

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October 23rd 2020, 6:09 am

'It's not supposed to look like that': Boxer shows off horrific injury after fighting FIVE ROUNDS wi

RT

Boxer Benjamin Hussain has shown off the “horrific” broken jaw he suffered on Thursday after astonishingly managing to fight for five rounds with the injury before a doctor stopped the bout.

Hussain suffered the injury in the second round of his defeat to Ben Mahoney, but the fight was not brought to an end until he was treated by the doctor following the sixth round.

In a gruesome video he posted to Instagram from his hospital bed, the Australian revealed the extent of his injury, in which the swollen left side of his jaw is completely disconnected from the right, while his mouth is filled with blood.

WARNING: GRAPHIC 

The 21-year-old did not appear too distressed by the disturbing injury, however, and captioned the video: “This is boxing. Thanks to everybody I’ll be back 100%.”

Commentator Ben Damon described the injury as “horrific,” and said: “We thought it might have been a cut tongue or laceration inside the mouth.

“But it is a broken jaw and with that being said, Benjamin Hussain has shown he’s otherworldly tough.

“He’s gone through the vast majority of this fight with what appears to be a very, very badly damaged mouth and jaw.”

Hussain could be seen bleeding from the mouth in the second round, but it wasn’t until much later in the fight that he was assessed by the doctor, who immediately told him “it’s broken, you can’t fight.”

The fighter replied “I know, I know, I know,” but after he was told by the referee that stopping the fight would hand Mahoney a TKO victory - having apparently asked if the fight might instead be judged on the scorecards - he said he wanted to continue: “Ok, I’ll go. I’ll go.”

The referee responded: “Listen, we need, if you don’t take the advice of the doctor, I honestly...” before the doctor intervened a final time to declare the contest over: “Your jaw is broken, mate. I’m sorry, I really am. I mean it’s badly broken, we’ve got to stop. I can’t.”

It seems going to the scorecards wouldn’t have salvaged him a victory, as according to BoxRec, all three judges had scored the fight in Mahoney’s favor.

The fight was Hussain’s third as a professional and his first defeat.

As for Mahoney, he extended his record to 10-0 with what was his sixth knockout victory.

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October 23rd 2020, 6:09 am

Professor of Nuclear Medicine: diagnose, treat, repeat

RT

The Russian nuclear industry celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, but if there are those who still believe it’s all about defense — professor Giuseppe Rubini is here to disappoint you.

According to the nuclear medicine professor at Bari University Hospital, the nuclear industry is very much about developing medical production complexes and treatment of the worst-known diseases.

Rubini told us that radioactive substances that are used in nuclear medicine are called radionuclide pharmaceuticals. They aim to make our lives longer and healthier.

“They can be useful in the early detection of various types of diseases, especially cancer, and more and more they provide an opportunity for their treatment.”

He went further to explain that the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more options doctors will have to treat it. To make it all work, Rubini said that nuclear medicine requires professionals with diverse skills and from diverse fields.

“It’s necessary to understand the biological mechanisms which form the basis for pathologies, and to develop radiopharmaceuticals that can identify these pathologies,” added Rubini.

October 23rd 2020, 5:58 am

Extinction Rebellion activists block entrance to oil refinery in Scotland accused of ‘ecocide’ (PHOT

RT

Protesters belonging to the climate change activism group Extinction Rebellion have attempted to blockade access to an oil refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, claiming that the plant’s operator is the country’s biggest polluter.

Demonstrators used two boats to block two roads leading to the Ineos plant and the company’s headquarters. A small group of protesters also chained themselves together at the gates of the refinery, telling local media that they plan to block the entrance to the plant until at least the end of the day. 

Photographs posted to social media by the group show demonstrators marching down a road holding large banners reading “Climate justice = Social justice” and “Stop Ineos ecocide.”

The boats used to block the roads were also used to relay Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) grim ecological forecast. “The future you fear is already here,” warned a message painted on one of the vessels. 

The radical environmental group, known for its theatrical protests and headline-grabbing acts of civil disobedience, claims that the petrochemical manufacturer is Scotland’s largest polluter. The Ineos site is Scotland’s only crude oil refinery. 

Annie Lane, 26, an activist from Glasgow, told the media that XR was blockading the Ineos plant to “expose the climate destruction” that the company is allegedly causing, claiming that the world was “running out of time” to take action to prevent an environmental catastrophe. 

A police spokesman said that law enforcement personnel were on site and were liaising with the protest organizers. He confirmed that two roads had been blocked and asked drivers to avoid the area.

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A similar protest was held by XR activists in Switzerland last month, when several hundred protesters occupied the square in front of the country’s parliament building in Bern, and chained themselves to objects to prevent police from forcibly removing them. 

October 23rd 2020, 5:11 am

Britain seals first major post-Brexit free trade deal with Japan

RT

London and Tokyo signed a major free trade agreement on Friday, which is expected to increase commerce between the two countries by an estimated €16.8 billion ($19.9 billion).

The new deal will take effect when the UK formally leaves the European Union at the start of 2021, and will make it easier for British companies to operate in Japan.

Appearing with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss called the agreement a “landmark” as the first major trade deal for Britain as an independent trading nation.

British Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss (L) and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi exchange documents during a signing ceremony for economic partnership between Japan and Britain in Tokyo on October 23, 2020 © AFP / Kimimasa MAYAMA

Motegi said the bilateral trade deal ensures continuity from the preceding European agreement, while adding new areas for cooperation such as e-commerce and financial services.

Financial services make up Britain’s biggest export to Japan, currently standing at 28 percent. English sparkling wine, made-in-Britain coats and shoes, Stilton cheese, as well as pork and biscuits from Britain, will become cheaper in Japan.

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Tariffs on Japanese cars will be removed gradually but won’t be eliminated until 2026, the same as the terms of the deal Japan has with the EU. Tokyo’s existing free trade agreement with the European Union includes the UK only until the end of this year, as it exits the EU.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the nation already exports about 1.5 trillion yen ($14 billion) of goods to Britain, mostly automobiles, auto parts and other machinery, while importing nearly one trillion yen ($9.5 billion) worth of British goods, including pharmaceuticals, medical products and cars.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

October 23rd 2020, 4:56 am

WATCH: Melbourne lockdown protesters call police HORSE ‘racist’ while hitting it with massive flagpo

RT

Legions of protesters faced off with mounted police in violent clashes in Melbourne amid rising tensions over the ongoing coronavirus lockdown in the city, which has lasted over 100 days.

Hundreds of protesters marched towards the city’s Arts Center on Friday, while shouting “freedom” and “choose your side” at police during the so-called “Freedom Day” rally which began about 2pm local time. 

Agitators among the 200- to 300-strong crowd were filmed kicking police horses and striking them with flag poles. At one point, a protester called one of the horses a “racist.”

Many of the protesters refused to wear masks and cried out “Free Victoria,” while some carried placards with messages like “Media is the virus,” “Covid-19 is a scam,” and “Wake up, Aussies.”

Police ‘kettled’ protesters at the Shrine of Remembrance, deploying pepper spray as they made several arrests as the situation deteriorated and became more violent. Arrested protesters could face double fines for Friday’s march: one for breach of coronavirus restrictions and one for contravening rules governing behaviour at the shrine. 

Premier Daniel Andrews described the protest as “shameful” and “unlawful” while arguing that the strict lockdown has worked, citing a precipitous drop in new cases since it began.

Some were quick to lay the blame for the previous high case numbers on Andrews for his initial lackluster response, and called for an investigation into his handling of the pandemic.

Melbourne has been on lockdown for over 100 days now, with a 25km travel limit still in place.

Lockdown rules were eased this week but certain restrictions remain in place; Melburnians are allowed to gather outdoors in groups of no more than 10 people between two households.

Authorities in Victoria state have been repeatedly criticized for draconian enforcement of lockdown rules, with several high profile incidents of alleged police brutality garnering international media attention.  

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October 23rd 2020, 4:56 am

WATCH: Relieved Khabib makes weight after STRIPPING OFF as UFC 254 showdown with Gaethje becomes off

RT

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced to strip off but tipped the scales at 155lbs to make his title fight with Justin Gaethje official for Saturday at UFC 254.

The undefeated champion was first on the scales in Abu Dhabi, hitting his mark but with the aid of a towel. 

The relief was evident as the Russian held his face in his hands after seeing he had made weight, before he posed for the cameras and stepped away from the scales.

The Dagestani grappling phenom has suffered weight-cut woes in the past, being hospitalized before his planned bout with Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 back in 2017. 

Gaethje, his opponent this Saturday, followed Khabib onto the scales and appeared far more relaxed as the American made the mark with the minimum of fuss, making the showdown on Yas Island official. 

Khabib then donned his trademark 'papakha' headwear for a final face-off with Gaethje which, in keeping with the amiable build-up to the fight, passed off without incident before the pair meet again in the octagon. 

Elsewhere on the card, Alex Oliveira came in two pounds heavy for his welterweight contest with Shavkat Rakhmonov, and will forfeit a portion of his fight purse for the bout to go ahead. 

Spain's Joel Alvarez missed weight by 3.5 pounds for his lightweight prelims contest with Alexander Yakovlev, and will likewise give up part of his purse. 

All the other fighters hit their marks - including new UFC signing Michael Chandler, who weighed in at 155lbs and is back-up should either Khabib or Gaethje be forced out of Saturday's match-up, which now seems unlikely.

Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier made their co-main event middleweight bout official, with Whittaker tipping the scales at 186 pounds and Cannonier weighing in at 185 pounds.

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October 23rd 2020, 4:09 am

No, not the animal: Georgia lawmaker crowned ‘dimwit of the year’ after trying to dunk on Trump for

RT

Social media users licked their chops after a Georgia lawmaker attempted to mock President Donald Trump for saying ‘coyotes’ traffic children across the border, apparently unaware that he wasn’t referring to the animal.

The not-so-hot take came in response to a comment made by Trump during Thursday’s rowdy presidential debate between the incumbent Republican and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. 

When asked by moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News about more than 500 children who were separated from their parents or adult guardians after trying to illegally cross the US-Mexico border, Trump insisted that many of them are victims of human trafficking. 

“These children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels, and they used to use them to get into our country,” he said. 

This is when a tweet authored by Georgia Democratic State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick went viral for all the wrong reasons. 

“Did @realDonaldTrump just say 545 kids they can't find their parents for came over through "cartels and coyotes"?! How the hell does a coyote bring a whole human across the border?!  Lord-----stop talking,” she wrote, oblivious to the stampede of mockery that would soon overwhelm her notifications. 

A simple Google search reveals that dictionaries list “coyote” as an informal name for criminals who smuggle Latin Americans into the United States. 

It seems most people on Twitter knew this, and they did not hesitate to inform Kendrick that, despite her claim to the contrary, Trump was not actually referring to the 4-legged mammal. 

Conservative pundit Carmine Sabia declared Kendrick “Dimwit of the Year,” while other right-leaning journalists speculated that she might be the least intelligent person with an internet connection. 

One observer noted that “coyote” was well-known slang for a human trafficker, and urged the Georgia lawmaker to “watch some Netflix please.” 

Undeterred, Kendrick shot back that she has no time to watch streaming services because she’s “out here trying to stop [Trump] from continuing to kill Americans.”

Last night’s debate in Nashville, Tennessee caused a historic Twitter meltdown as conservatives and liberals sparred on social media over who emerged the victor. 

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October 23rd 2020, 3:57 am

South Korean government to investigate spate of deaths linked to seasonal flu shots after toll rises

RT

South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for a probe into the deaths of at least 30 people who died shortly after receiving seasonal flu shots, stepping up scrutiny after Seoul previously denied any link to the vaccine.

"The authorities should thoroughly investigate the causal relationship between vaccinations and the deaths and make public the development transparently," Chung said on Friday at a meeting of the government's disaster and safety counter-measure group.

Chung's statement came after the death toll among people who recently received the vaccine more than doubled between Thursday morning and Thursday afternoon, then continued rising through the night. There were 25 deaths recorded as of 4pm Thursday, up from 12 earlier in the day, and the toll reached 30 at midnight.

Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), reportedly told South Korean lawmakers on Thursday that there was no direct link between the deaths and the vaccine. Of the first 25 deaths recorded, 22 involved people aged 60 or older, but a 17-year-old boy last week died two days after getting his flu shot.

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Chung called on the KDCA to investigate quickly provide the public with an explanation for the deaths "so that people can receive vaccination without anxiety."

The spate of deaths comes amid an effort by South Korea's government to provide free flu vaccinations to 19 million people, including the elderly and teenagers, to avoid having to cope with both a major flu outbreak and the Covid-19 pandemic at the same time. The vaccination program will continue uninterrupted by the investigation, despite the recent deaths and a recommendation by the Korean Medical Association to suspend the shots for one week.

The program was previously halted for three weeks after it was revealed that five million doses had been transported at room temperature, rather than being refrigerated as required.

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October 23rd 2020, 2:27 am

‘Who put the kids in cages, Joe?’ Biden admits to ‘mistakes’ as Trump goes after Obama-era immigrati

RT

Democratic nominee Joe Biden was put on his heels after attacking President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, forced to acknowledge that former president Barack Obama’s detention of children at the border was a “mistake.”

Biden took aim at Trump’s policies toward migrants during Thursday’s presidential debate, slamming the administration for separating children from their parents at the border, which he said made the US a “laughing stock” around the world and violated “every notion of who we are as a nation.”

Trump argued that migrant children are often brought into the country illegally by “bad people” and “cartels,” pivoting to border policies enacted by the Obama administration, under which Biden served as vice president, including the detention of children in “cages.”

“They used to say I built the cages. They had a picture in a certain newspaper... of these horrible cages. They used to say: ‘Look at these cages, President Trump built them,’” he said, adding: “Then it was determined they were built in 2014 – that was him,” pointing at Biden across the stage.

He had eight years to do what he said he was going to do. We got rid of catch-and-release, we got rid of a lot of horrible things that they put in and that they lived with… He did nothing except build cages to keep children in.

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Moderator Kristen Welker then weighed in, asking Biden to explain why the previous administration failed to implement immigration reform while overseeing record deportations and the detention of families, policies the Democratic nominee has himself blasted under Trump.

“We made a mistake, it took too long to get it right,” Biden answered. “I’ll be president of the United States, not vice president of the United States.”

As part of his very own immigration system overhaul, Biden vowed to create a “pathway to citizenship” for over 11 million undocumented immigrants within the first 100 days of his presidency, also saying he would “immediately” certify migrant children to reside in the country legally.

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Some netizens called out Biden for throwing his ex-boss “under the bus” with his insistence that he was not president at the time when the ill-conceived migrant policy was introduced, but merely a VP. That is despite the former president having campaigned for Biden as recently as this week, even hosting a rally.

Supporters came to Biden’s defense, however, seeing his remarks as a sincere mea culpa for previous mistakes and as “brutally honest,” things they insisted one would never hear from the current president.

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October 23rd 2020, 1:57 am

Chris Wallace 'jealous' of Kristen Welker as new moderator wins praise from all sides for managing ‘

RT

NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker won praise from both the political left and right – including kudos from Donald Trump himself – for finally giving Americans a presidential debate without controversy over moderator bias.

Thursday night's performance by Welker in the final debate between President Trump and Democrat rival Joe Biden stood in stark contrast to the handling of this fall's previous debates and town hall meetings by moderators and hosts. Fox News host Chris Wallace, in particular, was pilloried for his performance in the September 29 Trump-Biden debate, after which he was blasted by Democrats for failing to take control over the conversation and ripped by Republicans for being "shamelessly biased" against Trump.

Welker was aided by a new rule under which each candidate was allowed to speak uninterrupted – with his rival's microphone muted — for two minutes leading off each of six topic segments. But even during those parts of the event where mics weren't muted, there were relatively few interruptions.

Observers such as independent journalist Tim Pool and Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney praised Welker's performance. Conservative writer Carmine Sabia went further, saying, "Kristen Welker has given a master class on how to moderate a debate fairly. Is Chris Wallace watching."

Wallace, asked his opinion during a debate-reaction panel at Fox News, said: "First of all, I'm jealous. I would have liked to have been able to moderate that debate and get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions." 

Wallace's implication was that he wasn't given a chance to deliver a more substantive debate, but critics weren't buying that view.

"Don't be jealous, Chris, just be a moderator," one Twitter commenter said. Another said, "That's his fault. She did a great job. She was calm, collected and extremely pleasant," while still another tweeted, "Chris Wallace was just taken to class by Kristen Welker. This is how you moderate a debate. Wallace was a pinata."

Left-leaning journalists, such as PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor and Daily Beast editor Molly Jong-Fast, also joined in praising Welker. Glamour magazine declared that "Kristin Welker is winning the debate,” while the conservative Daily Caller said Wallace, despite his absence this time, had been the “loser.”

For the last Trump-Biden debate to end without the moderator being a point of controversy was one of the night's biggest surprises. Trump had criticized Welker earlier this week, predicting she would be biased against him. "Kristen Welker is terrible," he said Tuesday in a Fox interview. "I mean, she is totally partisan. Her father and mother are big supporters of Joe Biden for a long time."

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But at one point in the debate, Trump told Welker, "By the way, so far, I respect very much the way you're handling this, I have to say."

Some viewers were more critical, including one who said he counted Welker interrupting Trump 39 times and Biden just three times. Another said it wasn't so much that Welker did a good job, but that she stood out in comparison to previous moderators. But another Twitter commenter perhaps summed up the night best, saying, "Both sides will say their candidate won. America won because we saw a decent debate. Leave it at that."

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October 23rd 2020, 1:57 am

Biden claims he never said he'd ban fracking, despite video, admits he wants to 'transition' away fr

RT

Joe Biden said he wants to “transition” away from oil and have all industries at “net zero emissions” by 2035. He also claimed he’s never said he would ban fracking, despite video evidence of him saying just that.

“Would he close down the oil industry?” President Donald Trump asked of Biden at Thursday’s presidential debate. “Would you close down the oil industry?”

“I would transition from the oil industry, yes,” Biden admitted, a statement Trump called “big” and critics latched onto on social media, taking it as an admission he would destroy an industry vitally important to the economies of many states.

The former vice president said he would end federal subsidies to the oil industry and focus them more on renewable energy, which he wants the country completely reliant on “over time.”

"Will you remember that Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma?" Trump said of Biden’s plan.

Biden’s timetable raised concern as he first said he would want to move on from the oil industry by 2025, five years sooner than the goal set in the Green New Deal, arguably the most extreme and ambitious piece of climate legislation introduced by Democrats. He later clarified that 2035 was his deadline.

Biden has faced a lot of scrutiny when it comes to his views on the oil industry. He denied once again at Thursday’s debate that he has ever said he is for banning fracking, despite multiple videos of him during the primaries saying just that. Edited clips of those moments were tweeted out by the president on Thursday night.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) responded to Trump’s tweet and warned Biden that his state and others are “watching” and accused Biden of lying about his position on fracking.

“I don’t know why @JoeBiden thinks he can continue to lie about this. He wants to ban fracking and end all fossil fuels like coal too. Kentucky is watching, and so are many other states,” the senator tweeted. 

Critics leapt on Biden’s comments on oil, accusing him of wanting to “kill” the industry, with some predicting he could very well have made a “huge error” and lost potential support in certain states for his campaign.

“His far left plan slipped out. Massive error by Joe,” conservative pundit Robby Starbuck tweeted.

“Biden wants to ‘transition’ away from the oil industry. He just killed paycheck earned by hardworking families in Texas. Joe just wants to transition away from Texas,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted, telling his state’s residents to “remember” Biden’s words on election day.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made a similar statement, predicting Biden “lost Pennsylvania tonight,” the state the former vice president was born in, with his words on the oil industry.

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October 23rd 2020, 12:57 am

Trump declares himself ‘least racist person in the room’ as Biden says he ‘dog whistles’ to bigots a

RT

President Donald Trump deemed himself the “least racist person in the room” after being accused of appealing to intolerant supporters, with Democrat hopeful Joe Biden arguing his presidency has been disastrous for race relations.

“As far as my relationships with all people – I think I have great relationships with all people,” Trump said during Thursday night’s presidential debate, deflecting charges that he had stoked racial tensions in the country while comparing his accomplishments to those of Abraham Lincoln.

I don’t know what to say. I got criminal justice reform done, and prison reform, and opportunity zones, I took care of black colleges and universities… It makes me sad, because I am the least racist person… in this room.

Biden responded by dubbing the president “a dog whistle about as big as a fog horn,” accusing him of attacking Mexican immigrants as “rapists” in previous comments and “banning Muslims because they’re Muslims”  in apparent reference to Trump’s travel ban on people travelling from several Muslim-majority nations.

During the first presidential debate, Trump was accused of waffling after he was asked to denounce the Proud Boys – a loose faction of right-leaning activists who often counter-protest leftist events and are frequently deemed “racist” by progressives – saying only that they should “stand back and stand by.” He instead invoked leftist militants linked with Antifa, who’ve taken part in rioting and mass unrest across the US amid a wave of anti-police brutality protests.

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Though he has repeatedly come under fire for his refusal to condemn racist groups, the president has, in fact, addressed the issue on a number of occasions, telling Fox earlier this month that “I’ve said it many times, and let me be clear again: I condemn the KKK, I condemn all white supremacists, I condemn the Proud Boys – I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that.”

Biden similarly took heat for his reluctance to take a public stance on Antifa or the violence that has plagued the ongoing demonstrations, but reversed course after the issue began costing him in the polls, condemning rioting, looting and arson as “lawlessness plain and simple.”

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October 22nd 2020, 11:57 pm

Biden calls Rudy Giuliani ‘Russian pawn’ as he & Trump accuse each other of taking over foreign mone

RT

Democratic hopeful Joe Biden has charged that Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, is working as a “Russian pawn” to help his client win the 2020 race, as both candidates accuse each other of taking foreign cash.

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“[Trump’s] own national security advisor told him that what is happening with his buddy – oh, I shouldn’t… well, I will – his buddy Rudy Giuliani. He’s being used as a Russian pawn. He’s being fed information that is Russian... that is not true,” he said on the debate stage, referring to a New York Post report alleging his son Hunter pursued shady deals overseas with his father’s knowledge.

You find out that everything that’s going on here about Russia is to make sure I don’t get elected as the next president of the United States, because they know I know them, and they know me

The president, in turn, accused Biden and his family of “raking in” “a lot of money” from foreign entities, including in Russia, Ukraine and China, pointing to Hunter’s position on the board of a Ukrainian gas firm, Burisma, during his father’s tenure as vice president under the Barack Obama administration. 

“I don’t make money from China, you do. I don’t make money from Ukraine, you do. I don’t make money from Russia,” Trump said. “I think you owe an explanation to the American people.”

Biden shot back that he had “not taken a penny from any foreign source in my life,” adding “My son has not made money… [from] China. The only guy who made money from China is this guy.”

The Democrat nominee also spoke on supposed “election-meddling” campaigns waged from abroad, insisting Trump is Moscow’s Manchurian candidate and vowing that “any country that interferes in American elections will pay a price.”

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Trump responded that “there has been nobody tougher on Russia” than himself, citing countless layers of sanctions slapped on the country under his presidency, while also arguing that his national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, informed him that both Moscow and Tehran were hoping he loses the election, contrary to the claims of Biden and other Democrats.

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October 22nd 2020, 10:54 pm

'We had a good relationship with Hitler': Biden slams Trump for meeting Kim Jong-un, compares North

RT

Slamming President Donald Trump’s “good relationship” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Joe Biden confused debate viewers by referring to a “good relationship” between the US and Adolf Hitler.

Calling Kim a “different kind of guy” during a discussion on North Korea, Trump touted his ability to talk to the controversial leader and said his civil relationship with him has helped the two countries avoid a nuclear war.

"We’re not in a war. We have a good relationship...Having a good relationship with leaders of other countries is a good thing,” Trump said during the Thursday night debate. Biden slammed the president for meeting with Kim, who he called a “thug” before bringing Hitler into the discussion.

"That's like saying we had a good relationship with Hitler before he, in fact, invaded Europe,” Biden replied, before correcting himself by saying, “the rest of Europe.” 

That correction, however, paled in comparison to the Hitler comparison which has left many scratching their heads in bewilderment on social media.

“No comparison. He’s losing his grip on reality,” author Matthew Betley tweeted

“What history book is he reading?” asked radio host Janet Parshall. 

“When did President Roosevelt have a good relationship with Hitler?” journalist Michael Graham added

Asked what his own relationship with Kim would be if he were elected president, Biden said he would refuse to meet with him unless the “Korean Peninsula” becomes a “nuclear free zone.”

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October 22nd 2020, 10:54 pm

Biden says he’ll ‘shut down the virus, not the country’, then says he ‘won’t rule out’ another Covid

RT

Joe Biden's plans for fighting Covid-19 became a jumbled mess in his final debate face-off with Donald Trump, as he first pledged to stop the virus without a national lockdown, then reiterated that he won't rule out a shutdown.

"I'm going to shut down the virus, not the country," the Democrat candidate said. Biden added that it was President Donald Trump's "ineptitude" that forced the US economy to be largely shut down earlier this year to slow Covid-19's spread.

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But when asked by moderator Kristen Welker if he stands by previous statements that he would consider an economic shutdown if advised to do so by health experts, Biden said, "I'm not ruling out a shutdown."

Trump countered that "all [Biden] does is talk about shutdowns" and said that the most economically ruinous Covid-19 restrictions have been imposed by Democrat politicians in states such as New York, California, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. "They're shut down so tight, and they're dying."

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Biden then praised New York for "turning the curve" downward in Covid-19 infections through shutdown orders. He also slammed Trump for talking about states in terms of whether they are red or blue, before himself adding: "But look at the states that have spikes. They're red states."

Trump vowed to avoid any future shutdowns on a national basis, saying businesses and schools need to be kept open. "We have to open our country," he said. "We're not going to have a country. You can't keep this country closed. This is a massive country with a massive economy. You can't do this. People are losing their jobs. People are committing suicide."

Trump added: "The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself, and that's what's happening. And [Biden’s] going to close down the country." Earlier, he quipped that "we can't lock ourselves in a basement like Joe does” — a reference to Biden’s less frequent public appearances during the campaign.

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October 22nd 2020, 10:22 pm

‘That’s not a plan, dude’: Biden ripped for saying best way to battle Covid-19 is to ‘wear a mask al

RT

While criticizing President Donald Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Joe Biden recommended people wearing masks “all the time,” setting off critics on social media.

"I would make sure everyone was encouraged to wear a mask all the time,” Biden said at Thursday’s presidential debate while discussing his potential plans for ending the pandemic, which includes more rapid testing and national standards for states reopening their economy.

Trump has mocked Biden for his near-constant mask wearing in the past. While the president walked onto the debate stage not wearing a mask, while Biden did. He also held up the mask when encouraging wearing them multiple times.

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His “wear a mask all the time” comment has raised the alarms of critics on social media already tired of the mask wearing currently required in many states.

“[To be honest], I probably should wear a mask while I’m pooping,” Daily Caller’s Geoffrey Ingersoll tweeted

“Umm, people don’t wanna wear a mask all the time Joe,” podcast Dave Rubin added.

“Biden’s covid plan: mask mania. Masks all the time. Masks masks masks,” radio host Buck Sexton wrote.

Biden has floated the idea of a national mask mandate multiple times, though he’s also said he isn’t sure if the president has the authority to enact such an order. At Thursday’s debate, moderate Kristen Welker did not follow up after Biden’s “mask” comment about any potential mandates.

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October 22nd 2020, 9:52 pm

19-yo man with van full of guns & explosives arrested, was plotting to assassinate Joe Biden

RT

Newly-released court documents show a man was arrested in Kannapolis, North Carolina in possession of firearms and explosives. He had reportedly researched how to kill presidential candidate Joe Biden.

A van belonging to Alexander Hillel Treisman, 19, was found at a Kannapolis bank filled with guns, books on making bombs, explosive materials, multiple driver’s licenses, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. 

The van was abandoned and towed at the request of the bank, and then subsequently searched by police officers. 

Police also say they found child pornography on Hillel’s computer, as well as chat rooms where he reportedly spoke to others about a plan to kill Biden.

An investigation launched after the May arrest also led to police finding that Treisman had researched Biden’s home address and even traveled to a restaurant within miles of the former vice president’s home and had a checklist that ended with the word “execute.”

Treisman is currently being held in custody and facing child pornography charges while the larger case regarding Biden is being built by authorities.

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October 22nd 2020, 9:21 pm

WATCH LIVE: Trump and Biden face off for final presidential debate in Nashville

RT

US President Donald Trump is taking on his Democratic opponent Joe Biden in Nashville in the pair’s last debate before next month’s election. It’s only their second time sharing the stage in a hotly contested race.

Thursday night’s debate, which was initially supposed to focus on foreign policy, will center instead on Covid-19, American families, racial issues, climate change, national security, and “leadership.”

The first presidential debate, held last month, was widely panned for Trump’s aggression, Biden’s exasperated reliance on prepared statements, and the moderator’s inability to force either candidate to adhere to prescribed time limits. This time, the moderator will be equipped with a mute button, which Trump has denounced as “very unfair,” but which his campaign apparently agreed to. The mute button is not supposed to be used beyond the 2-minute opening statements by Biden and Trump, however.

A planned second debate was canceled following Trump’s diagnosis with Covid-19. With the president thus infected, the Commission on Presidential Debates insisted on a virtual debate, which Trump refused. Both candidates ended up holding rival town hall events instead.

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‘Are you kidding me?’ Final presidential debate will NOT feature foreign policy among topics in wake of Hunter Biden scandal

Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, squared off against Democratic challenger Kamala Harris earlier this month for the only vice presidential debate on the schedule. A comparatively subdued affair after the presidential slugfest, it nonetheless saw both candidates talking over each other and a moderator seemingly unwilling to rein in their excesses.

Polls show Biden leading Trump in most states, though the run-up to the 2016 election showed a similar spread, only to deliver Trump his victory – in the Electoral College, at least – over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Unlike 2016, however, 2020’s election has included a dramatic expansion of early and mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has made many Americans wary of venturing out to polling places to physically cast their vote. Trump has extensively condemned mail-in voting, claiming it is fraught with fraud.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

October 22nd 2020, 9:08 pm

Twitter locks socialist for urging people to ‘kill’ late anti-communist McCarthy IN THEIR HEADS

RT

Metaphorically telling people to get rid of their censorship instinct got one prominent Twitter user censored herself, after the platform decided that went against their harassment rules for wishing someone “physical harm.”

“Boomers need to kill the Joseph McCarthy that’s still alive in their heads! He is dead but he still censors the thinking of many Boomers!” is what the user, who goes by the name Esha, tweeted on Thursday. She was addressing the generation of Americans born right after the Second World War, and referring to the Wisconsin senator who infamously claimed the US government was infiltrated by Communists in the 1950s.

Her account was quickly locked, apparently for violating Twitter’s policy on harassment and abuse. Podcast host Katie Halper posted Twitter’s notice to that effect, alongside the remarkable explanation: it wasn’t some AI algorithm that made the determination, but actual human Twitter employees!

“Our support team has determined that a violation did take place,” says a notice sent to Esha, which Halper posted. “Wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm” is against Twitter rules.

There’s just one obvious and glaring problem with that: McCarthy has not been alive since 1957, as Esha herself noted.

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'Most brazen media suppression in US history’: Republicans go after Twitter over censorship of NYPost’s Biden bombshell

Between 1950, when he accused the US State Department of being “infested with Communists,” and his censure in the Senate in 1954, McCarthy had been the face of the 'Red Scare' in the US, and “McCarthyism” became synonymous with witch hunts. 

Twitter is already in hot water over its censorious ways. Last week, the platform locked the account of the New York Post – a newspaper founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1801 – over their story about the laptop of Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter. The company first claimed this violated the policy against “hacked materials,” then shifted to claiming it was “violating privacy,” then called it “potentially harmful,” before giving up on excuses altogether. 

The Post has refused to delete the “offending” tweet, insisting their story was legitimate journalism. As a result, they have remained blocked since October 14.

Esha has reportedly bent the knee and agreed to censor her “abusive” post about metaphorical censorship. Her release from “Twitter jail” is expected sometime on Friday.

Once the “free speech wing of the free speech party,” as general manager Tony Wang called it in 2012, Twitter has rapidly transformed into a draconian censor over the course of 2020. First they cracked down on Covid-19 “misinformation” based on the shifting whims of governments, then going after US President Donald Trump, to changing rules on advertising, link-sharing and even retweeting ahead of the upcoming US elections, ostensibly to protect their integrity.

Defenders of such censorship argue that Twitter is a private company, to which the First Amendment of the US Constitution – guaranteeing freedom of speech – does not apply.

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October 22nd 2020, 9:08 pm

Corona Grinch: Santa Claus won't be meeting children this year at New York's flagship Macy's store b

RT

Chalk up another casualty of Covid-19: The 160-year tradition of Santa Claus meeting children at the flagship Macy’s department store in New York City will be broken this year as St. Nick has been disinvited on pandemic concerns.

The iconic retailer determined that it would be too difficult to create a safe environment in the era of coronavirus for children to line up and wait to discuss their wish lists with Santa. Instead, Macy’s said it has created an online Santaland where children will be able to meet the elves, play games and take a virtual selfie with Santa.

That means that for the first time since 1861, Santa won’t be appearing in-person at the store. The move was similar to a decision last month to “reimagine” the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and replace it with a recorded, socially distanced event with no live audience. The parade has been a New York tradition since 1924, being canceled only from 1942 through 1944 because of rubber and helium shortages during World War II.

More than 250,000 people normally visit Santa at the Macy’s flagship store each year. Santa also will be skipping appearances this year at the Macy’s stores in Chicago and San Francisco. Of course, Santa has been featured by malls and stores across the country for generations, but Macy’s has billed itself as “The Home of Santa Claus.” Macy’s and Santa were featured in the classic 1947 movie, “Miracle on 34th Street.”

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Other Santa hosts are adjusting this year by taking such measures as prohibiting children from sitting on his lap and putting him behind a plexiglass barrier. Some malls will reportedly offer Zoom calls with Santa.

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The latest Covid-19 setback comes at a time when many children are deprived of going to school and socializing in-person with their friends. “This is more lost joy and lost time for children,” one Twitter commenter said, adding that the Trump administration is to blame. Another observer referred to “2020, the lost year.”

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October 22nd 2020, 8:38 pm

'Close to the number of seniors that died': NY governor Cuomo ripped for celebrating sales figures f

RT

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking heat after a post celebrating his memoir about Covid-19 being a bestseller. Critics were quick to let him know how he could have better spent his time during the pandemic.

“Exciting news,” Cuomo tweeted on Thursday, announcing his book, ‘American Crisis,’ had debuted at the number seven spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

“Let's learn the lessons of the Spring to be smart in fighting back this virus now,” the governor added.

Cuomo’s book has sold almost 12,000 copies since its release last week, far better sales figures than his previous memoir, 2014’s ‘All Things Possible,’ which sold only 948 copies in its first week and less than 4000 copies to date.

Cuomo has already faced pushback for publishing and promoting a book about leadership in the middle of a pandemic, especially while so many of his own decisions as governor have been exhaustively highlighted by critics as likely making the death rate in his state much worse. 

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After celebrating the sales figures for his book, which he has refused to say how much he was paid for, Cuomo was quickly reminded of his controversial March order for nursing homes to accept positive Covid cases, which many say is behind thousands of senior deaths in the state. Cuomo, however, has defended the decision on multiple occasions as protests against the order continue. 

“Close to the number of seniors that died of Covid from nursing homes,” Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean tweeted in reaction to sales figures for Cuomo’s memoir. Dean has been one of Cuomo’s most vocal critics ever since her in-laws both died in New York nursing homes during the pandemic. 

Others criticized Cuomo for choosing to spend his time celebrating sales figures while the pandemic continues to keep New York businesses closed and claim lives.

“Someone please tell me how it's acceptable for a sitting Governor to be going on a book tour touting his leadership on the pandemic while the pandemic rages on and then tweets about ending up on the NYT bestsellers list?” journalist Yashar Ali tweeted.

The same day Cuomo celebrated his best-selling book, it was reported that over 900 people in New York had been hospitalized for Covid-19, and 15 others had died. 

There have been nearly 500,000 cases in the state and over 30,000 deaths total, among them around 6,500 nursing home residents.

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October 22nd 2020, 8:38 pm

‘Big Guy’ Joe Biden was PERSONALLY involved in China venture, Hunter Biden’s business partner says

RT

Investor Tony Bobulinski says he personally met with Joe Biden to discuss a joint venture with a Chinese company, accusing his son Hunter and the Biden family of using the endeavor as a “personal piggy bank.”

In a statement to the press on Thursday night, shortly before the presidential debate in which Democratic nominee Biden and President Donald Trump will face off, Bobulinski affirmed media reports that the emails between him and Hunter Biden are authentic.

Bobulinski said he was approached in 2015 about a joint venture with CEFC China Energy and “one of the most prominent families in the US.” This led to a May 2, 2017 meeting with Joe Biden, his brother James, and his son Hunter, at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

At the hour-long meeting, Bobulinski said, they discussed the Biden family’s business plans with the Chinese, with which Joe Biden “was plainly familiar, at least at a high level.”

The venture was to be named “SinoHawk,” Bobulinski explained, combining China and the favorite son of Biden’s late son Beau, who died of a brain tumor in 2015.

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Bobulinski further said he received an email from Hunter on May 13, 2017 in which 10 percent of the equity in the company would be reserved for “the Big Guy,” which he said stood for Joe Biden. He later objected to Hunter’s request that the company should wire $5 million to entities controlled by the Biden family, saying SinoHawk “could not be Hunter’s personal piggy bank.”

According to Bobulinski, he found out that the money had indeed been wired from last month’s Senate report.

Responding to Bobulinski’s announcement, Biden’s campaign said that Barack Obama’s former vice-president and current Democrat presidential candidate “has never even considered being involved in business with his family nor in any overseas business whatsoever.”

The campaign also called the accusations a “smear” and claimed it was a “desperate, pathetic farce.”

Bobulinski told reporters he had never been political and had previously donated to Democrats, but decided to go public so “the American people can decide for themselves.” At the event, he held up three cell phones he said contained messages from the 2015-2018 time period, which he was going to turn over to the FBI as evidence. He left without taking questions.

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October 22nd 2020, 8:21 pm

Then they came for the LEFT: Facebook deletes account of biologist & Big Tech critic Bret Weinstein

RT

Facebook has deleted the account of biology professor Bret Weinstein without explanation, apparently expanding its crackdown on politically incorrect thought to include leftists who defend speech rights and criticize Big Tech.

Weinstein, who rose to national prominence when he opposed a 2017 event at Washington's Evergreen State College banning white people from campus for one day, said Thursday on Twitter that he had been "evicted" from Facebook. "No explanation, no appeal."

Weinstein's tweet included a screenshot of a Facebook notice indicating that his account hadn't followed "community standards" and therefore had been disabled. The notice said the decision had already been reviewed and wouldn't be reversed. 

"We are governed now in private, by entities that make their own rules and are answerable to no process," the professor and podcaster added. "Disaster is inevitable. We are living in it."

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Weinstein is a full-fledged progressive, having supported self-described Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders for president. He also participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2009. But he's also a classical liberal and participant in the so-called ‘Intellectual Dark Web’, where commentators speak out against cancel culture and defend free-speech rights.

The biologist appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in June, warning about the consequences of woke authoritarianism spreading from college campuses into the real world. As if that wasn't controversial enough, he spoke out against YouTube's demonetization of conservative commentator Steven Crowder in 2019.

Responding to Weinstein’s banishment from Facebook, Dave Rubin, another liberal who has faced backlash for his positions on free speech and libertarianism, said social-media censorship was inevitably going to spread from the political right to left. "They weren't going to stop with Alex Jones," Rubin tweeted.

Another Twitter commenter said, "We tried to warn liberals, when they tested this out on easy fringe targets like Milo (Yiannopoulos) or Alex Jones, that they were just the first but by no means the last. Can't say conservatives did not warn them."

Columnist Amy Alkon said that by terminating Weinstein's account without explanation, Facebook leaves no way to "assess whether you indeed violated some standard or whether somebody there high up enough to ax you just wanted you gone." Writer Terry Wayne Carpenter Jr. added that "in the attention economy, social-media companies are de facto First Amendment enforcers."

Big Tech has notoriously put its thumb on the scale for Democrat interests, as evidenced in the past week when Facebook and Twitter tried to squelch the New York Post's scoops on alleged influence-peddling by Joe Biden's family. But other voices that oppose more mainstream liberal and neocon dogmas have increasingly been quieted. For instance, Google has slashed search traffic to anti-war and socialist websites, while Twitter has suspended anti-war and Occupy-linked accounts.

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October 22nd 2020, 8:21 pm

US slaps sanctions on Iran’s envoy to Iraq, citing links to Quds Force & militia groups

RT

Washington has added the Iranian ambassador to Iraq to its sanctions blacklist, claiming he works for an elite military unit it has deemed a terrorist cell, as well as three groups it accused of “sowing discord” in the 2020 race.

Sanctions were announced for Ambassador Iraj Masjedi on Thursday, with the US Treasury Department deeming him a “long-running threat to Iraqi security” and citing his alleged role in training militia groups in Iraq with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – designated a terrorist organization by the US last year.

“In his decades of service with the group, Masjedi has overseen a program of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, and he has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded US and coalition forces in Iraq,” the department said in a statement, adding that the envoy “has exploited his position as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq to obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit” of the IRGC and its external wing, the Quds Force.

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Masjedi was appointed ambassador in 2017, after serving in the IRGC for some 35 years. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, he later worked as a close adviser to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US assassination strike in January. Following Soleimani’s death, Masjedi took on some of his former duties in overseeing Iraq’s Shia militia groups – known as the Popular Mobilization Forces – who have played a salient role in beating back the Islamic State.

Though President Donald Trump has unleashed a barrage of sanctions on the Islamic Republic since taking office, including on Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, penalties for diplomats are somewhat rare, more often targeting military officials.

In Thursday’s sanctions announcement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also accused Tehran of a “destabilizing foreign agenda,” including attempts to “influence US elections,” beating the drum on an increasingly common talking point from the Trump administration.

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Iran issues diplomatic protest over ‘absurd’ accusation of US election meddling

In the same spirit, on Thursday Washington also imposed penalties on five Iranian entities it said had tried to “influence elections in the United States,” though produced no evidence to support the charge. One day prior, US intelligence officials also claimed Iran was behind a “spoof email” campaign designed to “intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” adding to a flurry of similar assertions of foreign influence operations by not only Iran, but Russia and China as well.

Tehran has rejected the allegations, lodging a formal complaint on Thursday with the Swiss ambassador in Iran – who has acted as a mediator for US-Iranian diplomacy – to protest charges it called “baseless.” A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, Alireza Miryousefi, has also dismissed the claims as “absurd” and “dangerous,” scorching Washington for “desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections.”

Assertions of foreign election-meddling have come to dominate the US political scene since the 2016 presidential race, originating with an elaborate conspiracy theory that then-candidate Trump worked with Moscow to tip the scales in his favor through a combination of hacking and social media trolls. Though the Trump-Russia narrative has been largely discredited after a sweeping special counsel probe failed to substantiate its central tenets, claims of election interference from abroad have only intensified since and continue to overshadow the 2020 race.

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October 22nd 2020, 8:08 pm

Police review defends cop who used George Floyd-style knee restraint on 14yo AUTISTIC BOY & maced hi

RT

Topeka Police have concluded that an officer who restrained an already-handcuffed 14-year-old autistic boy with a knee to the neck, and pepper-sprayed his dog, was following procedure – though admitted the choice was “concerning.”

The department conducted an internal review of the teen’s arrest, which left him with a broken wrist, releasing its report on Tuesday. After reading over interviews with arresting Officer David Ziegler and the youth and inspecting multiple bodycam videos, Independent Police Auditor Ed Collazo determined that while the officer’s judgment was “concerning,” and his behavior was not ideal, he had not violated Topeka Police Department policy.

The report’s release was met with surprisingly little media attention, given the neck restraint Ziegler deployed against the youth – a notoriously deadly hold which Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran had previously and repeatedly claimed that his officers do not use. Minneapolis man George Floyd infamously died in police custody in May after an officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. The boy’s mother, Marlena Mitchiner, condemned the investigator’s leniency, arguing officers should be “held to the highest of standards” so that “further situations like this can be prevented.”

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The youth, whose name is largely omitted from the report except for one reference to “Isaiah,” was riding his bike home with his dog running beside him when Ziegler was dispatched to the scene after a neighbor called police to complain the dog was unleashed in his yard. Two of the bodycam videos (which have not been made publicly available) reportedly show Ziegler, in his patrol car, telling the boy to take his dog home.

The last video, nearly 35 minutes long, shows Isaiah, now on foot, resisting the officer’s command to “come here” and taking off running. Ziegler returns to his car and races to catch up to his quarry, informing him he’s been stopped for “walking on the street where a sidewalk is provided.” When Isaiah says he was looking for his dog and refuses to give his name, Ziegler demands he turn around, finally grabbing his arm and attempting to handcuff him. The teen resists, and the description of the footage suggests he does not understand why he is being arrested.

As Ziegler pulls out his pepper spray, the youth flinches, claiming in a later interview that he believed the cop was about to shoot him, but allows the officer to handcuff him while complaining he is in pain. The arrest is interrupted by the barking of two dogs, which Ziegler maces. He demands the young man put his hands behind his back – though the report admits “they are already there” – and forces him to the ground as he handcuffs him, placing his knee in the detainee’s upper back.

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Mitchiner, who filed the complaint initiating the internal review, saw the later part of the altercation and told the investigator the dog did not even leave the yard until Ziegler grabbed her son – a claim supported by the teen’s interview statement that “the dog got sprayed because he came out to protect me.”

The police auditor insisted the arrest was appropriate, noting that the autistic teen declined to give his name despite being asked repeatedly. The neck restraint, he agreed with Ziegler, was justified by the boy “pulling his right arm forward,” the presence of the “aggressive” dogs, and the approach of Isaiah’s mother and older brother “compiled with his inability to call for back-up.”

Collazo acknowledged that the cop’s behavior was discourteous, and that “particular deference” should be given to vulnerable members of society including “juveniles” and “individuals with mental health issues,” and was even willing to “question the necessity for the handcuffing,” but deferred to Ziegler’s after-the-fact insistence he was in danger. His report declines to recommend disciplinary action other than a “refresher in de-escalation training and use of verbal communication when interacting with citizens,” merely suggesting police take another look at the decision to detain the youth.

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In recent months, police misconduct has come under growing national scrutiny, with high-profile incidents like Floyd’s death and Louisville police’s shooting of EMT Breonna Taylor at her home in March triggering massive protests. Many have pointed to police officers’ inability to handle the mentally ill or otherwise disabled, as recently evidenced in the choking death of Rochester man Daniel Prude – who died naked in police custody with a restraint bag over his head while apparently overdosing on PCP. Some reformers want police at least partially replaced with social workers who would be trained to handle such cases.

The family dog, too, was probably lucky to ‘only’ receive a face full of pepper spray, given the “epidemic” levels of canine shootings that occur in the US on a daily basis. A Department of Justice expert estimated in 2016 that anywhere from 25 to 30 pet dogs are killed daily by police.

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October 22nd 2020, 8:08 pm

11 arrested at anti-Covid lockdown protest in Dublin, police violently clash with demonstrators (VID

RT

More than 100 demonstrators protesting ramped-up Covid-19 lockdown restrictions clashed with police in Dublin, with 11 being arrested and an investigation launched into the organizers of the event.

Nine of the people arrested have been charged with public order offenses, as the protest breaks lockdown restrictions, which only allow citizens to leave their homes for essential trips.

Law enforcement attempted to block a crowd at Grafton Street and ordered the demonstrators to disperse as they were “in breach to public health regulations.”

A small group managed to break through a wall of officers deployed to the area and video shows batons being used to stop the protesters and force them to the ground where they were handcuffed.

Protesters were pushed and told to leave the street as they cursed at officers wrestling with demonstrators who refused to disperse. 

Vans were also parked on the street to help block the marching crowd and prevent a sit-down protest. 

The clashes were brief as many protesters dispersed as they were told. 

Another video shows protesters marching through the city, some yelling “take off the mask” as they walked. 

"The Covid-19 pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to comply with public health guidelines and regulations, in particular essential journeys, in order to continue to save lives,” police said in a statement about the clashes. 

All 11 people, aged between 20 and 60, arrested have been released, and two were let off with warnings. 

Ireland was put into a strict ‘Level 5’ lockdown this week with non-essential shops being ordered to close, home visits being banned, and citizens ordered to not travel beyond 5km away from their homes for exercise. 

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October 22nd 2020, 7:21 pm

Putin says he personally asked that opposition figure Navalny be permitted to travel to Germany for

RT

Vladimir Putin has denied Russia’s involvement in Alexei Navalny’s alleged poisoning, saying he asked prosecutors to allow the anti-corruption blogger, who had been under travel restrictions, to fly to Germany for treatment.

“If somebody here wanted to poison him, he would’ve been unlikely to have been sent for treatment to Germany, right?” Putin told the members of the Valdai Discussion Club think tank via a video link on Thursday.

“We could’ve easily prevented him from leaving. He was under travel restrictions,” Putin reminded them, referring to the strictures put in place as part of a slander case launched against Navalny this summer.

According to the president, when Navalny’s wife asked him to allow her husband to be flown to Germany, he immediately asked the Prosecutor-General’s Office to look into such an option.

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Putin has been critical of the German authorities – who insist Navalny was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents – for refusing to cooperate with Russia or share the proof of their claims.

Moscow repeatedly asked Berlin to provide it with samples and official test results, insisting it needed the evidence to launch a criminal case into the alleged poisoning of the activist. “But they gave us nothing. How can you explain that?” Putin wondered.

“Let’s investigate together if there really are events of a criminal nature,” he said of his expectations of the German leadership.

Navalny’s sudden medical incident aboard a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow on August 20 forced the plane to perform an emergency landing. He was put into an induced coma at a hospital in Omsk and, two days later, was transferred to Berlin’s prestigious Charité clinic.

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The Siberian hospital Navalny was taken to said it found no trace of poison, but the medics who treated the 44-year-old in the German capital claimed their tests showed he’d been poisoned with Novichok – a Soviet-designed nerve agent that made headlines after the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK city of Salisbury in 2018.

Navalny, who has since emerged from the coma and been discharged from hospital, said he had no doubts about the conclusion arrived at by his German doctors, and blamed Putin personally for making an attempt on his life. The EU has imposed sanctions on several Russian officials it deemed to have been behind the alleged plot.

Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the case, and even the very fact of Navalny’s poisoning. It pointed to the alleged evidence of his Russian medics, who insisted they had discovered no traces of any nerve agent in the activist’s system at the time of his admission to hospital in Omsk.

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October 22nd 2020, 5:35 pm

France expands curfews to cover 46 million people as Covid-19 cases set new daily record

RT

Coronavirus curfews in France will be extended to include some two-thirds of the population, with the country reporting a record 41,622 new confirmed cases of the disease on Wednesday.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the curfews that were imposed in Paris and eight other major cities last week will be expanded to 38 more departments. That means 46 million out of the country’s 67 million population will be barred from leaving their homes between 9pm and 6am.

The country has found itself in a “serious situation” due to the second wave of the coronavirus and that is continuing to “degrade,” Castex said. The number of cases increased by 40 percent over the past week, while the number of infections has been doubling every 15 days.

“No one can consider themselves safe from this, even young people,” Castex insisted, urging the public to wear a mask, wash their hands, and follow social distancing rules.

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Shortly after the restrictions were announced, the French health authorities said a record 41,622 cases were registered in the country on Wednesday. The overall number of infections has now reached 999,043, meaning that, on Friday, France will become the second European nation after Spain to cross the one million mark.

The death toll from the disease in the country now stands at 34,210, with 162 fatalities occurring in the past 24 hours. The number of severe Covid-19 cases that require hospitalization was also up, growing by 847 to a total of 14,032.

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October 22nd 2020, 5:35 pm

Trump to bring Hunter Biden’s business partner to debate as guest

RT

President Donald Trump has a surprise guest for his final debate with Joe Biden: Tony Bobulinski, a former business partner of Hunter Biden who said the emails describing the Biden family’s alleged shady dealings are genuine.

Bobulinski came forward on Wednesday, claiming he can confirm the authenticity of the documents published by the New York Post last week. The emails, supposedly obtained from a Delaware computer repair shop, show Hunter trading access to his father with Ukrainian energy tycoons, making deals for his family in China, and kicking a share of his foreign profits up to Joe, all while the senior Biden was vice president of the US.

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With much of the mainstream media either silent or dismissive of the story, Trump will bring Bobulinski to Thursday night’s final presidential debate as a special guest, Fox News reported on Thursday afternoon.

Bobulinski will not get to speak at the showdown, but his presence will give Trump ample opportunity to press Biden on the influence-peddling allegations against him. Bobulinski, a US Navy veteran and investor, has claimed “the big guy” referenced in an email outlining a venture with a Chinese energy company is none other than Joe Biden. According to Hunter’s emails, “the big guy” stood to make a 10 percent slice of the venture’s profits.

President Trump’s choice of guest echoes his decision in 2016 to bring a number of women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault to his second debate with Hillary Clinton. It was during this debate that Trump uttered his now-infamous “you’d be in jail” line to Clinton.

Thursday’s showdown, broadcast from Nashville, Tennessee, kicks off at 9pm Eastern Time. Moderator Kristen Welker, whom Trump has accused of bias, will have the power to mute either candidate’s microphone, should they go beyond their allotted speaking time.

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October 22nd 2020, 4:50 pm

Putin says Germany & China are emerging superpowers, US can’t ‘dominate’ anymore, and UK’s & France’

RT

The era when world affairs were decided between Moscow and Washington is long gone, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, adding that other countries, such as China and Germany, are on their way to becoming superpowers.

“In terms of its economic weight and political influence, China is actively moving towards the status of a superpower. Germany is moving in the same direction,” Putin said, addressing a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club think tank via a video link.

The role of the UK and France in international affairs has also been significantly transformed, he added.

The US, which enjoyed absolute dominance at some point, can now hardly lay claim to exceptionalism.

Putin then wondered whether the US itself even wanted this exceptionalism any longer. He did not elaborate, but his speech focused on the need for collaboration rather than antagonism between nations during the Covid-19 crisis.

While the president didn’t expand on his point about Russia’s relationship with the new list of potential superpowers, he strongly rebuffed the view of foreign “experts” that the world is counting on the “gradual fading” of Russia.

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“While strengthening our country, looking at what is happening globally, in other countries ... the only thing we’d be worried about is catching a cold at your funeral,” the president said.

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October 22nd 2020, 4:50 pm

FDA formally approves pricey antiviral remdesivir as Covid-19 treatment

RT

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Gilead Sciences’ expensive antiviral drug remdesivir to treat Covid-19, expanding its earlier emergency use authorization and guaranteeing huge profits for the company.

Remdesivir has become the first and only drug to be officially approved in the US for treating infection with the novel coronavirus after the FDA issued its decision on Thursday. The move expands on a May emergency use authorization, which allowed doctors to use it to treat hospitalized Covid-19 patients.

Gilead has issued a statement confirming the drug will be used for Covid-19 patients “requiring hospitalization,” suggesting not much will change regarding treatment recommendations. Given intravenously, it has helped shorten the duration of illness in some hospitalized patients, particularly those receiving supplemental oxygen. However, there is no indication it increases the likelihood of survival.

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‘Reliable result’: WHO hits back at Remdesivir developer after trial shows that drug failed to lower Covid-19 deaths

Following the FDA’s green light, trials using remdesivir in combination with other drugs - including antibody treatments such as the one received by President Donald Trump during his hospitalization for Covid-19 - are expected to continue.

The drug was initially developed to fight Ebola, though it proved ineffective against that virus - if relatively safe for patients. It works by interfering with viral reproduction.

Unlike different treatments approved by the FDA to treat other conditions and deployed by doctors against Covid-19 without express FDA authorization, such as the off-patent drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, remdesivir is expensive - priced at $3120 for a five-day course. The cost announcement met with public outcry back in June, as many Americans have lost their health insurance along with their jobs during the pandemic and are unlikely to be able to afford such a hefty price tag.

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October 22nd 2020, 4:50 pm

Chief cleric of Damascus murdered in bomb attack – Syrian state media

RT

Sheikh Muhammad Adnan Al-Afyouni, the Mufti of Damascus, has been killed in a “terrorist explosion” near the Syrian capital, the SANA news agency reported. Al-Afyouni was one of the region’s most prominent Islamic scholars.

Sheikh Al-Afyouni died in the town of Qudsaya, near Damascus, on Thursday evening. Government sources told SANA that an “explosive device” had been planted on his car.

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No terrorist group has as yet been blamed for or taken responsibility for the bombing.

As one of the country’s most senior Islamic scholars, Sheikh Al-Afyouni attended religious ceremonies alongside President Bashar Assad. At a celebration marking the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday last November, Sheikh Al-Afyouni denounced terrorism and prayed for the Syrian government and army.

Though Syria has been torn asunder by war and insurgency for nearly a decade, the killing of the Sunni cleric is the most high-profile assassination of a government-allied religious leader since a suicide bomber killed more than two dozen people in a mosque in 2013.

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October 22nd 2020, 4:17 pm

‘Bias, hatred & rudeness’: Trump releases VIDEO of ‘60 Minutes’ interview he walked out on

RT

US President Donald Trump has released a video of his aborted interview with CBS News’ Lesley Stahl that he claims shows her “constant interruptions and anger.”

Filmed on Tuesday, Trump’s sit-down with Stahl stoked controversy from the start. Rumors flew as he walked out of the hour-long interview after 45 minutes, and he confirmed things had gone badly when he later promised to release a recording of it “so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about.” The president followed through and released the footage on Thursday, three days before its scheduled airing.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=350524406214941

Before the cameras started rolling, Trump asked Stahl to “just be fair,” adding “you don’t ask Biden tough questions.” But Stahl was adversarial from the outset, hammering him on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and telling him his boasts of economic achievement before the virus hit were “not true.”

Trump lashed out at Stahl for claiming he asked suburban women, “Will you please like me, please?” “That’s so misleading,” Trump responded, “I said jokingly: ‘Suburban women, you should love me because I’m giving you security.’ See, the way you said that is why people think of you and everyone else as fake news.”

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By backing censorship of Hunter Biden story, mainstream media only hurt their own cause

As the interview progressed, Stahl repeatedly cut across Trump, as the president grew visibly frustrated. She denied that the release of Hunter Biden’s emails – which apparently reveal foreign corruption in the Biden family – constitute a “scandal,” and denied that the FBI “spied” on Trump’s 2016 campaign, despite mounds of documentary evidence to the contrary.

“I don’t have to discredit you,” Trump sniped at one point. “You’ve discredited yourself.”

Stahl, however, called the Hunter Biden story “discredited,” and, when Trump accused Biden of “going into hiding” to avoid questions on the scandal, she apparently covered for the Democrat, reminding Trump, “He’s preparing for your debate.”

The final straw came after Stahl accused Trump of wanting to “lock up” Gretchen Whitmer, the pro-lockdown governor of Michigan. The president railed at Stahl for her network’s “softball” treatment of Biden, and for her “inappropriate” questioning. Then, with five minutes to go before Vice President Mike Pence was due to join him, he declared he’d had “enough,” and walked out.

Shortly after Trump released the video, CBS News responded, calling the decision “unprecedented,” and saying the network would not be deterred from providing “full, fair and contextual reporting,” and would air the slot as planned this weekend, along with a similar interview with Biden.

Trump and Biden will appear together on Thursday night for the final head-to-head debate before Americans go to the polls on November 3.

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October 22nd 2020, 4:06 pm
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