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‘Those who play with fire will get burned’: Beijing warns Washington after US health chief’s visit t


Attempts to meddle with Taiwan, which Beijing considers its territory, may cost the US dearly, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. He advised its health chief to focus on the Covid-19 crisis at home instead of making foreign trips.

US Health Secretary Alex Azar landed in Taiwan on Sunday for a three-day trip, becoming the highest-ranking American official to visit the self-governed island, which has shown no desire in four decades to reunite with mainland China.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has condemned the visit and warned Washington against making advances towards Taiwan.

On issues involving China’s core interests … the US must not harbor illusions. Those who play with fire will get burned.

The trip came amid increasing tensions between Washington and Beijing, and was used by Azar to launch another attack on China. He blamed Beijing for not warning the international community about the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan at the end of last year, and refusing to cooperate with others in tackling the disease, thus allowing it to spread around the globe. Azar also suggested that if the initial Covid-19 outbreak had taken place in Taiwan or the US, it could’ve been “snuffed out easily.”

The Chinese spokesman denied US claims of poor handling of Covid-19 and expressed surprise that the US Health Secretary had decided to leave his country when the coronavirus is “out of control” there. The US has the worst situation with Covid-19 in the world, having already registered more than five million cases and over 164,000 deaths.

He ignored millions of Americans suffering from the virus and went to Taiwan to put on a political show.

Azar’s “behavior proves once again that, in the eyes of US politicians, American lives mean nothing when compared with their selfish political gains,” Zhao added.

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Despite severing official ties with Taiwan in favor of China back in 1979, the US actively backs the island’s push for independence and remains its biggest arms supplier.

Only last month, the State Department approved a $620 million package to upgrade Taiwan’s Patriot surface-to-air missiles system, to which Beijing reacted by saying that it will impose sanctions on one of the main contractors in the project, US weapons maker Lockheed Martin.

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Beijing has demanded on numerous occasions that arms deliveries to Taiwan be stopped, pointing out that they violate the ‘One China’ principle and further deteriorate bilateral relations with Washington.

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August 12th 2020, 11:25 am

First batches of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine to be delivered within a fortnight – Minister of Health


Russia’s Ministry of Health has announced that the initial batches of the world’s first registered Covid-19 vaccine will be released within just two weeks, with doctors and teachers being prioritized.

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko explained that the first, due to be produced in Russian factories, would be distributed to the domestic market, with preference given to those who work in the highest-risk environments, such as education and medical professionals.

“Vaccination will be voluntary,” he said, explaining that many medical workers already have immunity, so it’s not always necessary. “Each medical worker will be given the choice to receive the vaccine or not.”

Despite what Murashko called “export potential,” he made it expressly clear that vaccines produced in Russia would be used to immunize Russians, before subsequently being offered to consumers from other countries. The authorities are also looking at producing batches abroad purely for foreign markets.

On August 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, named Sputnik V. The president revealed that one of his daughters was among the volunteers who had been given the vaccine before registration, gaining immunity with only one side effect: a mild temperature.

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August 12th 2020, 11:09 am

‘There is no one to rest in peace’: three firefighters from same family among missing in aftermath o


Three firefighters, all related, went missing after responding to a fire that preceded last week’s huge explosion in Beirut. Their family was praying they would turn up alive. Now they’re just hoping their remains will be found.

Tony Karam’s son, grandson, and cousin were all part of the same firefighter unit that rushed to Beirut’s port after it caught fire. Minutes later, the site became ground zero for a massive explosion that left much of the city in ruins.

“We are hoping they can bring [even] a nail from their fingers,” Tony told RT.

Karam’s son, Charbel, had two daughters, the oldest just two-and-a-half years old. The toddler keeps asking for her father, his mother Karlen said. Pausing to collect herself, the widow explained that she told her daughter she can pray to her father and that he can hear here.

When she grows up, she will know that her father was a hero, and what happened to him. She will know her father died for a reason.

She initially hoped her husband would be discovered alive, even if badly injured. “But they didn’t find anything,” she said as she closed her eyes.

The family is still waiting for closure, and won’t hold a funeral until there is someone, or something, to bury. The remains of four firefighters from the same unit have been identified, but there’s still no trace of the three heroic relatives.

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“People cannot tell us ‘rest in peace’, because there is no one to rest in peace,” said Karam. “God help me – I don’t know how to live anymore.”

The explosion killed more than 200 people and injured countless others. It’s believed that 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in unsafe conditions by officials triggered the devastating blast. On Monday, Beirut governor Marwan Abboud claimed that some 110 people remain missing.

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August 12th 2020, 11:09 am

US-China tit-for-tat sanctions are ‘largely symbolic,’ chief executive tells RT’s Boom Bust


Relations between the United States and China continued to deteriorate as the two countries exchanged another round of sanctions. Boom Bust explores what those restrictions mean amid global economic uncertainty.

The founder and CEO of Optimas LLC consultancy, Octavio Marenzi, says that, “So far we’ve sort of seen a bit of a tit-for-tat kind of going on between the US and China.”

He explains that each country has respectively put certain individuals, politically connected people, under sanctions. Washington sanctioned the chief executive of Hong Kong. The Chinese have introduced sanctions on some US senators, like Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“It’s not entirely clear what those Chinese sanctions actually consist of,” he said. “I don’t think Ted Cruz has too many bank accounts in China that are going to be closed down or taken over by the Chinese government.”

Marenzi pointed out that it’s a bit unclear what those sanctions really mean in practice, adding, “I think it’s largely symbolic at this stage”, and expressing the hope that the measures stay at this symbolic stage.

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

August 12th 2020, 10:55 am

‘Returning to semblance of normalcy’: Switzerland to allow events of over 1,000 people from October


Swiss authorities will allow events of more than 1,000 people from October 1, provided organizers follow hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government decided on Wednesday. Permission from local authorities will also be required for events.

While easing audience limits, the government on Wednesday also ordered that face masks must be worn by passengers on all flights. Masks have been compulsory on buses, trains and trams since early July.

The country is seeking to strike a balance between the need to kick-start its economy as the number of coronavirus infections start to rise again following the easing of previous measures.

“The main argument to easing, after six months of pandemic in Switzerland, is learning to live with the virus, while returning to some semblance of normalcy,” Health Minister Alain Berset told reporters.

August 12th 2020, 10:55 am

ViacomCBS media mogul Sumner Redstone dead at 97


Media magnate Sumner Redstone has died at the age of 97, having built his family’s drive-in theater business into one of the largest media empires in the world through a series of shrewd acquisitions and battles with other moguls.

Redstone, who ran CBS and Viacom until February 2016, died on Tuesday at his Los Angeles home, according to the family’s private holding company National Amusements. His daughter, Shari Redstone, will continue to run the family media empire, taking over her father’s seat on the board of trustees that controls 70 percent of ViacomCBS.

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Born Sumner Rothstein in Boston, the magnate began his media career in his family’s drive-in theater business and was worth upwards of $5 billion at the time of his death, having built up a prodigious TV and film empire through hard-charging acquisitions. These included Viacom (bought in 1987), Paramount (purchased in 1994 following a high-stakes bidding war), and CBS (acquired in 1999).

He was forced to relinquish his leadership of ViacomCBS in 2016 after a court-ordered doctor’s examination, with shareholders concerned about his mental and physical health following a series of strokes that left him all but incapable of speaking. At CBS, his role was taken up by Les Moonves, who was ousted from the company last year over sexual misconduct allegations. At Viacom, his replacement was Philippe Dauman, whose departure the family managed to engineer less than a year after he took the helm.

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Redstone was notoriously averse to making plans for the future of his companies, telling the Hollywood Reporter in 2014 he would not “discuss succession” because “I’m not going to die.

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August 12th 2020, 10:55 am

Greece & US to discuss E. Mediterranean tensions as Turkey wants to resolve dispute with Athens ‘thr


The foreign ministers of Greece and the United States will meet in Vienna on Friday to discuss tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Foreign Ministry in Athens said. The statement comes amid a dispute between Athens and Ankara over hydrocarbon resources.

The meeting between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will take days after Turkey dispatched the seismic survey vessel 'Oruc Reis' to an area of sea claimed by both nations, Reuters reports.

In Ankara, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday that Turkey wants to resolve a dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean through dialogue. He added, however, that Ankara would defend its rights and interests in the region.

August 12th 2020, 10:39 am

NASA suspects asteroid Psyche is core of planet that never fully formed, models ‘metal world’ ahead


Scientists using a supercomputer have created 2D and 3D computer models of the pockmarked asteroid Psyche, revealing that it may be the metal core of a failed planet.

Ahead of NASA’s 2022 mission to Psyche, which has been dubbed the ‘journey to a metal world,’ researchers wanted to gather as much intel about the asteroid as possible, including its composition. 

By simulating asteroid impacts which could have created the vast craters on the space object’s surface, scientists have deduced that Psyche, the largest asteroid in our solar system’s main belt, is actually “like a big metal sponge.”

“Psyche is an interesting body to study because it is likely the remnant of a planetary core that was disrupted during the accretion stage, and we can learn a lot about planetary formation from Psyche if it is indeed primarily metallic,” said Wendy K. Caldwell, one of the lead researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Measuring and modeling the asteroid’s scars improve our understanding of metallic asteroids, and help us better distinguish how they form and traverse the universe relative to their icy and rocky counterparts.

By recreating what they believe to be the exact impact angle, the team could make educated guesses as to its composition, as metals deform and fragment after impact in a specific way, especially when compared and contrasted with silicates which are also commonly found in asteroids. 

The results of the team’s simulations corroborate the current theory that Psyche could be made up of large amounts of Monel, a potentially extraterrestrial alloy found previously in the Sudbury crater in Canada.

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August 12th 2020, 9:55 am

Russian health minister says Western criticism of Covid-19 vaccine is down to commercial competition


Criticism from foreign officials and specialists about Russia's new Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine is unmerited and motivated by commercial and scientific competition. That's according to Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Murashko didn't pull any punches as he explained how Russia became the first country in the world to register a solution for Covid-19. “Some foreign colleagues, who must have felt certain competition and competitive disadvantages from Russia’s product, have been trying to express opinions that we find totally groundless,” he said, as reported by TASS.

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Meanwhile, Israel is interested in holding talks with Russia to discuss purchasing the vaccine, its Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has revealed. “We have already arranged discussions about the research center in Russia [the Gamaleya Research Centre, in Moscow] and the development of a vaccine,” he told reporters. “If we are convinced that it is a genuine product then we will try to enter into negotiations.”

Edelstein also said that Israel “is carefully watching any news [about coronavirus vaccines].” At the same time, the minister said he doesn’t “want to delude anyone,” noting that there’s little use in hoping that “the vaccine will come tomorrow” since “there is yet to be a vaccine that passed all the necessary [trial] stages and received all the needed certifications.”

On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia had registered Sputnik V, the world's first Covid-19 vaccine. It was created at the Gamaleya Center in Moscow and underwent clinical tests in June and July. It is based on a previously created platform, already used for making a number of other vaccines. Putin also revealed that one of his daughters received the injection and is feeling well.

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The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, has said Russia has already received requests from 20 countries for 1 billion doses of the product. He added that Latin American, Middle Eastern and Asian countries are most interested to buy it, with a number of contracts already finalized.

To date, 902,701 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 710,298 patients having recovered from the disease. Russia’s latest official data indicates 15,260 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.

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August 12th 2020, 9:39 am

Louisiana police in manhunt after hospital shooting, suspect ‘armed and dangerous’


Police in Shreveport, Louisiana, are on the hunt for a lone gunman who shot and injured a man at a hospital. Police are treating the situation as an “active shooting,” and cautioned that the suspect is armed and dangerous.

The suspect, identified by police as 41-year-old Taniel Cole, allegedly shot a man in the leg in the early hours of Wednesday morning, at the St. Mary Medical Center in Shreveport. The victim’s injuries aren’t considered life-threatening, but Cole is now on the loose.

Police circulated a picture of Cole - who they said is “armed and dangerous” - and warned local residents to stay indoors.

Nearby schools have canceled their classes for the day, as cops attempt to track Cole down. The search has thus far focused on the hospital itself, where officers fear Cole may be hiding. Police Sergeant Angie Willhite told local media that the suspect “made threats to kill any law enforcement officer...who tried to stop him.”

Shreveport has a reputation for crime. The city is consistently ranked in the 100 most dangerous places to live in the US, and has a crime rate of nearly 150 percent the national average. Just two days before Wednesday’s shooting, police were called to a homicide in a trailer park. The killer is still unknown.


August 12th 2020, 9:39 am

Manchester United 'linked with teenage Barca prodigy Ansu Fati' after missing out on Jadon Sancho tr


Manchester United are exploring alternative options after being pushed back by Borussia Dortmund in their pursuit of Jadon Sancho and are reportedly turning their attention to teenage Barcelona wonderkid Ansu Fati.

United have been heavily linked with a big-money transfer for Sancho this summer but failed to meet the German's club's August 10 deadline, prompting sporting director Michael Zorc to rule out a deal and state that Sancho will remain in the Bundesliga for at least another season. 

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It remains to be seen if this impasse can be overcome, but according reports from Spain the Manchester club, and their chief executive Ed Woodward, have begun to run the rule over a host of other target - with Barcelona star Fati, 17, understood to be on the list. 

They are likely to meet resistance in their pursuit, with the Barcelona hierarchy understood to be keen to retain the services of one of the top prospects to emerge from their La Masia academy in recent years.

In fact, claim that Fati's release clause is set to jump to an astonishing €400 million ($471 million), a fee which would all but rule out a transfer to the Premier League unless the player requests a switch, which is thought to be unlikely. 

In addition to Fati, another Barcelona forward, Ousmane Dembele, has been mentioned in the press as being a potential target for Woodward and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. The Frenchman joined the Catalan club in 2017 from Borussia Dortmund for a fee which could rise to €145 million ($170 million) including add-ons, but could be available for a fraction of that following a series of underwhelming appearances. 

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Barcelona are understood to want to trim their world record wage bill this summer as they face a financial downturn in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, with several players deemed surplus to requirements - including former Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Martin Braithwaite and Arturo Vidal. 

August 12th 2020, 9:39 am

'He could be an MMA fighter': Teammate suggests ex-Russia captain's attack on amateur referee was re


Former Russia captain Roman Shirokov's sickening attack on an amateur referee was the result of his tough upbringing and the midfielder "could be an MMA fighter," according to teammate Andrey Tikhonov.

Ex-Zenit St. Petersburg star Shirokov is facing potential criminal action after he lashed out at referee Nikita Danchenko during an amateur game in Moscow earlier this week. 

The midfielder, 39, was enraged after being denied a penalty by the official, first insulting him and then threatening to punch him if was handed a red card for his abuse.

When Danchenko sent Shirokov off, the player punched the official to the floor before aiming a kick at his head.

Danchenko was left requiring hospital treatment but later reassured concerned fans on social media that he was fine, having been given stitches around his left eye.

The shocking scenes played out at the 'Moscow Celebrity Cup' where Shirokov was representing the Match TV sports channel, where he works as a pundit.

The former Zenit lynchpin has since been suspended from his duties with the channel.

Ex-Spartak Moscow and Russia midfielder Tikhonov was playing alongside Shirokov in the game and also came in for criticism for shouting at a reporter who was filming the incident.

Tikhonov, a fellow pundit at Match TV, has now expressed regret at what unfolded, but claimed it could be put down to Shirokov's rough upbringing.

"It would be better if this hadn't happened," Tikhonov said, according to Sport-Express

"But Roman could compete in MMA. The guy grew up in an area at a difficult time, a lot of things like this happened then in Dedovsk (Moscow region).

"But I'm not saying that these things should be done on the street, in no case whatsoever. Better in the ring." 

Danchenko has reportedly contacted police over the incident, after spending more than four hours in hospital being assessed. 

Meanwhile, organizers described the scenes as "disgusting."

Shirokov himself issued an apology on Instagram although still appeared unable to let the penalty incident go.

"I would like to express my sincere apologies to (the referee) for such an inappropriate act," the former footballer wrote.

"I am perfectly aware that not assigning an obvious penalty and then the red card shown cannot be a reason for throwing my hands around, I hope Nikita as soon as possible will return to service. 

"I also want to apologize to the organizers of the tournament, my teammates Match TV and viewers."

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Shirokov retired in 2016 having captained Russia during that year's European Championship clash with Wales. He played 57 times in all for his country, scoring 13 goals.  

He was also part of the Zenit team which won the 2008 UEFA Cup against Glasgow Rangers and UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United.   

August 12th 2020, 9:25 am

‘A large scoop of virtue signaling’: Ben & Jerry’s takes licking on Twitter after attacking UK govt’


Ben & Jerry’s has been accused of dishing out a large serving of hypocrisy, after lecturing the UK government about showing an alleged lack of empathy for migrants picked up while crossing the English Channel.

The American ice cream brand went after Home Secretary Priti Patel, who recently vowed to crackdown on the surge of illegal migrant crossings from France. Responding to growing anger over the more than 4,000 migrant arrivals so far this year, Patel said she would aim to make illegal Channel crossings “unviable.”

“Hey, @PritiPatel, we think the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture,” the company’s UK subsidiary tweeted. It followed up with a series of posts arguing that the country should create “safe and legal routes” for anyone who wishes to enter. 

“Let’s remember we’re all human and have the same rights to life regardless of the country we happen to have been born in… PEOPLE CANNOT BE ILLEGAL,” it insisted. 

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The sanctimonious tweets received a tongue-lashing on social media, with politicians and journalists alike urging Ben & Jerry’s to stick to what it knows best, namely, ice cream. 

“Can I have a large scoop of statistically inaccurate virtue signalling with my grossly overpriced ice cream, please?” mocked Conservative MP James Cleverly. 

The Home Office was similarly unimpressed, according to the BBC. A source inside the ministry retorted that the government wasn’t particularly worried about “upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food.”

Many others argued that Ben & Jerry’s isn’t in a position to grill other institutions about alleged human rights violations. Journalist James Ball noted that the company’s parent company, Unilever, was the target of a complaint filed by Kenyan tea plantation workers, who alleged the corporation had failed to protect them from ethnic violence. 

“A lack of humanity for people fleeing war, you say? Who owns Ben & Jerry’s again?” Ball wrote.

Judging from the responses, the self-righteous tweets backfired spectacularly. Telegraph columnist and former MP Rob Wilson noted that the Twitter stunt accomplished little aside from putting Unilever in “the firing line for underpaying taxes and re-examining its poor record on migrant workers.”

However, not everyone was ready to condemn Ben & Jerry’s. One commenter said she’d never turn her back on the company because it makes “great vegan ice cream.” Others argued Ben & Jerry’s was simply exercising “free speech” and there was no reason for “right-wingers” to be upset about the company’s political posturing.


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August 12th 2020, 9:09 am

After 'Sputnik V' announced, Russia now targeting a quarter of the world’s $75 billion coronavirus v


With the world's first Covid-19 vaccine now registered in Russia, the country is primed to secure a large chunk of the international market. By the end of 2021, Russia plans to supply the world with 1 billion doses.

On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin revealed the registration of a domestic vaccine for the coronavirus, due to be available for the general public from January 2021. Under the trademark 'Sputnik V,' Russia will produce millions of doses per month, both at home and abroad.

According to Moscow daily Vedomosti, the global demand for Covid-19 vaccines is between 3-5 billion doses, worth more than $75 billion. Russia plans to compete for a quarter of the entire market.

Despite Western criticism of Sputnik V being 'rushed,' Russia's vaccine has already garnered interest from around the world, with 20 nations from Latin America, the Middle East and Asia already ordering batches for a combined one billion doses. As well as selling Sputnik V, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) also plans to work on a humanitarian aid program to help with immunization in poorer, developing countries.

Developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, the vaccine has gone through two trial stages, with the third due to begin soon. Results so far have shown that Sputnik V has high efficacy and safety, with no volunteers experiencing any significant adverse reactions. Vaccination of medical workers and teachers will begin soon but it will not be compulsory for Russians to accept immunisation.

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August 12th 2020, 8:55 am

Sweden puts Austria on safe travel list, warning for UK & some European states remains


Sweden withdrew its recommendation to citizens not to take unnecessary trips to Austria and Liechtenstein on Wednesday. However, Stockholm kept in place warnings over travel to the United Kingdom and several European states amid an upturn in coronavirus infections.

Stockholm had already withdrawn advice against unnecessary trips to countries like neighbors Denmark, Norway and a number of other destinations in Europe, such as France, Germany and Spain.

Restrictions will remain in place for Britain, Ireland, Latvia, Finland and a number of other countries until at least August 26, Reuters reports.

The Swedish government continues to advise against travel to the rest of the world, but will review that decision at the end of the month.

August 12th 2020, 8:55 am

First ever railway bridge connecting Russia & China to open in 2022


The long-awaited cross-border railway bridge linking Russia and China across the Amur river is scheduled to be commissioned in the first quarter of 2022, authorities in Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region announced on Wednesday.

The 2,209-meter-long (1.4 mile) structure will link Russia’s Far East with China’s northernmost Heilongjiang province. The Nizhneleninskoye (Jewish Autonomous Region) to Tongjiang (Heilongjiang province) bridge will be the first railway bridge between the two countries. It is expected to bring bilateral trade to new highs.

China has already completed the construction of its part of the structure. As for the Russian side, the region’s acting governor Rostislav Goldstein said earlier it “would be preferable to complete all the work on time, which is the first quarter of 2021.”

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Construction of the cross-border bridge officially began in 2016, after 28 years of negotiations. The new bridge and its associated infrastructure will be 19.9km (12.4 miles) long. Some 6.5km (4.1 miles) of the bridge and road junctions will lie in China, and the remaining 13.5km (8.4 miles) will be located in Russia, according to China’s CNS agency.

The highway section of the bridge over the Amur river was completed last year. It will greatly facilitate trade between the two countries, since the route will be roughly 3,500km (2,175 miles) shorter than before. Russia plans to export iron ore, coal, mineral fertilizers, lumber and other goods via the link to China.

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

August 12th 2020, 8:55 am

'Medvedev will be stronger than his rivals': Russian tennis boss expects strong showing from young s


Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpischev says 2019 US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev is fully prepared and fired-up for the tournament again as he seeks a maiden Grand Slam title in New York.

World number five Medvedev is expected to take part in the upcoming Grand Slam tournament which will go ahead as planned despite coronavirus fears.

READ MORE: In pursuit of Grand Slam no. 24: Serena Williams wins first match after 6-month layoff

Taking into account the fact that he was in France since the beginning of the pandemic and had an opportunity to train at a court together with his coach, he must be in good shape in comparison with other players.” Tarpischev said.

He could perform well at the US Open. But it’s too early to make any predictions because we don’t know the physical shape of other players.” 

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Many top players, including Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal and Swiss star Stan Wawrinka, have already pulled out of the upcoming major citing coronavirus concerns.

Last year, Medvedev produced the best performance of his career when he reached the final at Flushing Meadows, where he was beaten by Nadal in a five-set thriller.

August 12th 2020, 7:55 am

NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo wishes he could 'turn back time' after ejection for HEADBUTTING rival


Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has expressed his regret after being dismissed from his team's win against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night for headbutting Moe Wagner.

Reigning NBA MVP Antetokounmpo was ejected from the game in the second quarter for the apparently pre-meditated headbutt of the Wizards forward, later expressing that he harbors no ill-will towards Wagner and that the incident was little more than him "losing it for a second."

The incident was the fourth ejection of Antetokounmpo's career and comes just weeks after he was forcibly restrained after attempting to charge at Brooklyn Nets forward Donta Hall after being fouled while attempting to recover a rebound.

However, the hot-headed Antetokounmpo said afterwards that he wasn't proud of his actions and that if he had a time machine, he would go back and reverse them.

"Terrible action," he said. "If I could go back, turn back time and go back to that play, I wouldn't do it.

"But at the end of the day, we're all human, we all make mistakes. I think I've done a great job all year, in my career at keeping my composure and focus on the game, but at the end of the day, we're human and make mistakes. But at the end of the day, you learn from it, keep playing good basketball and keep moving forward."

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Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was also keen to give Antetokounmpo a wide berth, saying that his profile makes him a target for opposition players to wind up.

"He's a MVP. People are gonna try him," he said. "He normally is phenomenal, and today was a slip-up."

"I think it's probably, in some ways, it could be one of the best things that happened today, and it's a learning moment. We'll all remember how important it is that we've got to keep our cool."

August 12th 2020, 7:55 am

‘I’m not against it, but men aren’t ready to compete at Olympic level with women’: Russian synchroni


Five-time Olympic champion Svetlana Romashina has weighed in on the issue of diversity in synchronized swimming, suggesting that male competitors are not yet technically strong enough to perform at Olympic level.

In an interview with RT Sport, the 21-time world champion talked about her illustrious career and the sacrifices she has made in one of the most beautiful and physically-demanding of sports.

READ MORE: ‘No revealing swimsuits, tattoos or lip fillers’: Russia's Varvara Subbotina spills synchronized swimming secrets

The Russian team veteran – who has taken part in three Olympic tournaments and won every possible title in synchronized swimming – said that she still has the motivation to move forward, setting her sights on scooping yet another Olympic gold in Tokyo.

I think I’ve already become the most decorated synchronized swimmer in history in terms of medals taken at world championships. This isn’t a chase for gold, it’s my personal chase,” Romashina explained.

I understood I was ready to return to sport and I wanted to prove that it’s possible to resume my career after giving birth to my child. Of course I want to win the Olympic Games. For every athlete, a competition of such caliber as the Olympics is a sort of drug that you want to experience again and again.

Russia's Ishchenko and Romashina © REUTERS / David Gray

The taste of victory and the thrill of performing at the Olympics are really incredible. I realize that this will be my last summer Olympics, that’s why I’m anticipating the moment of competing there. It’s important to set goals and check later whether you’ve achieved them or not. I’m the kind of person who always wants to win,” the swimmer added.

Talking about her decision to resume her career, the 30-year-old admitted that she has replaced younger athletes who were included in the team in her absence while she became a mother. However, she stressed that there could be no complaints from rising young stars as each generation of Russian synchronized swimmers goes through a rigorous selection process to earn a spot on the squad.

As an experienced athlete I can confirm that this is absolutely normal. I was treated the same when I entered the national team and was forced to fight for a place in the sun. I’m still the youngest synchronized swimmer to win the world title, when I was just 15. So I know well what rookies are going through. I know what it feels like when you want to compete, but you are replaced by former stars who returned to sport.

"Yes, maybe this isn’t fair, but our coaches who have a 20-year-winning streak at international level have always chosen experience over youth. When it comes to the Olympics, they want to see experienced athletes who have already performed there, who will confidently not let the team down,” Romashina told RT Sport.

Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina © Sputnik / Georgio Perottino

The 10-time European champion talked about the  struggles of combining motherhood and a professional sports career, outlining that sometimes she was on the verge of a breakdown when her daughter called her nanny “mother.”

Of course I have a nanny who helps me to take care of my child. To find a reliable nanny was number one priority before I resumed my career. I wanted to have a person whom I can fully trust. The first year after the birth of my daughter was really confusing, because I was like a wolf who didn’t allow anyone to approach my kid. I preferred to do everything myself. Even our parents didn’t help us a lot, because I allowed them only to go for a walk with their granddaughter.

But when I found a nanny, I started to be jealous because my daughter was ready to call her ‘mother’. She saw me very seldom and spent so much time with the nanny. But then I calmed down and just told myself that synchronized swimming is my job. There’s nothing awful about it, many women combine work with family life. I hope when she gets older she’ll be grateful for the life she has. But my family supported my decision to come back to sport, this was very important for me,” the athlete said.

Romashina also commented on calls to add more male events to synchronized swimming as part of a campaign to embrace diversity and popularize the sport.

The 30-year-old said she fully supports introduction of mixed duets, but added that male competitors haven’t yet reached the level necessary to perform at the Olympic Games.

We already have male synchronized swimmers who made their international debut in 2015. I have always supported women’s synchronized swimming. In my opinion this sport is about beauty, artistry and perfect lines. But as we can see, male synchronized swimming is gaining momentum around the world and this is great.

Mayya Gurbanberdieva and Aleksandr Maltsev © Sputnik / Alexander Vilf

But I think calls to include it in the Olympics are a bit premature, because there aren’t so many top-class athletes who can perform at the competition of such a high level. Plus it’s been suggested not just to add mixed duets to the Olympic program, but to replace classic women’s duets. Can you imagine how many girls who have been training for their entire lives will lose their dreams?” Romashina said.

Several top male swimmers, including Bill May and Japan’s world bronze medalist Atsushi Abe have already retired. There aren’t that many strong male competitors in mixed duets. If we compare scores between mixed duets and women’s duets received at the 2019 World Championships, you’ll see a huge difference. So far their level is noticeably lower than in women’s synchronized swimming. That’s why it’s too early to talk about their possible Olympic prospects.

"It doesn’t mean that I’m against it, I just don’t want world synchronized swimming to drop down to an elementary basis. It won’t be very interesting to watch school-level performances at competitions like the Olympic Games,” the swimmer added.

Romashina regretted that under the new rules they aren’t allowed to use attention-grabbing make-up, which helped the teams to create even grander spectacles on the water.

We put on make-up ourselves as well. We had an experience of inviting professional make-up artists who worked with us at competitions. It was far better than when you tried to do everything alone with a trembling hand because you’re extremely nervous ahead of competitions. But now the rules prohibit us from having bright make-up, we should look natural.

"On the one hand it’s become easier in terms of pre-start preparations, but on the other I loved having eye-catching facepaint, it helped us to interpret routines. Our sport is closely connected with art. If you take a look at a ballet dancer, you’ll see that she also has artificial lashes and a bright make-up for spectators who sit far away from the stage,” the athlete said.

Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina © REUTERS / Toby Melville

Romashina described head coach Tatiana Pokrovskaya as a strict but fair specialist, hailing her incredible achievements in synchronized swimming which have made Russia unbeaten since the 2000 Sydney Games.

All team-members, including long-time leaders, can be reproached by Tatiana Nikolaevna. She can be very kind and charming and just in one second everything can change. Yes, swimmers overweight can be a reason for her anger. If we see that Tatiana Nikolaevna is standing next to the swimming pool, we try to jump into the water as fast as we can, so that she won’t notice any extra grams on our hips. Nobody ever dares to turn their back to her, there are tips that we’ve learnt during career-long practice. Young girls really have their ‘survivor course’ when they enter the team,” Romashina said.

August 12th 2020, 7:55 am

Indian economy showing signs of early recovery after strict Covid-19 lockdown


Four months after a nationwide shutdown across India, some key indicators of the economy, including exports, foreign investments and employment numbers, suggest that economic activity in the country is gradually improving.

Data shows that exports of certain commodities have risen – spice exports, for example, surged 34 percent in rupee terms in June.

The country’s ravaged automobile sector has also improved, with total exports across categories having increased by almost three percent to more than 4.76 million vehicles in the fiscal year ended March 31.

According to the Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, India’s balance of payments is expected to be very strong. “Exports have shown a good turnaround. We [were], in July, at about 91 percent [of the] export level of the corresponding period last year,” he said, adding that imports in the same month were at 70 percent of last year’s level.

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Unemployment in the country decreased in June and July, after an estimated 121.5 million jobs were lost in April 2020, said Mumbai-based think tank the Centre for Monitoring India Economy. According to its data, the number of lost jobs stood at 100.3 million in May and fell to 29.9 million in June. July saw a further recovery, with the number of lost jobs falling to 11 million.

In another sign of recovery, the latest investment figures from the Department of International Trade revealed that Indian businesses are the second-largest investors in the United Kingdom, behind the United States, with 120 new projects and 5,429 jobs in 2019-20.

READ MORE: Agriculture will lead India’s economic revival from coronavirus pandemic – finance minister

Julie Chappell, the managing director of international markets at London & Partners, told India Today TV: “We did see a dip in economic activity at the start of the pandemic, but that was because of the turmoil the global economy was in. Since the past few months, investments have been increasing by Indian companies. Companies have been opening offices, and we expect investment to increase by this year end.”

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

August 12th 2020, 7:39 am

Russian MiG-31 fighter jet performs SPARKLING landing with broken wheel (VIDEO)


Russian pilots have successfully landed a MiG-31 fighter jet after one of its wheels disintegrated. The plane’s dramatic touchdown was caught on video and shows the fiery line of sparks it left on the runway.

The emergency situation occurred during a training flight in Russia’s Perm Region near the Ural Mountains on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said.

A flight control officer swiftly informed the commander of the plane that there was a problem with one of the back wheels. “The crew carried out the landing in a routine manner,” it added.

There were no injuries among the pilots or people on the ground. The plane also managed to avoid any damage, and the technical staff began working to replace the broken wheel.

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MiG-31 is a sturdy workhorse of Russia’s Aerospace Forces, known for its reliability. The supersonic interceptor aircraft has been around since 1981 and still remains one of the fastest jets in the world. A few years ago, MiG-31 was chosen as the carrier for Russia’s state-of-the-art hypersonic missile, Kinzhal (dagger).

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August 12th 2020, 7:39 am

Scottish First Minister declares MAJOR INCIDENT following train derailment


Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has declared the Stonehaven train derailment a major incident, as dozens of emergency vehicles were deployed to the scene after the wrecked train caught fire on Wednesday.

"This is an extremely serious incident," the Scottish leader said in a Twitter statement. "I've had an initial report from Network Rail and the emergency services and am being kept updated. All my thoughts are with those involved."

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Train derails in Stonehaven, Scotland amid flooding, ambulances rush to scene of accident (VIDEO)

The alarm was raised shortly after 9:40am local time after a passenger train derailed near Stonehaven, some 15km south of Aberdeen. There has yet to be any official confirmation of casualties or injuries relating to the incident.

UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has been briefed on the incident and confirmed that British Transport Police & Network Rail resources had been deployed to the scene amid a major operation.

Flooding is suspected to be the cause of the derailment, though this has yet to be confirmed by authorities. Network rail Scotland shared footage of localised flooding as a result of torrential downpours overnight.


August 12th 2020, 7:39 am

China to expand its influence in the Middle East with major oil deal


China continues to expand its influence in the Middle East through oil and infrastructure deals, and the latest deal with ADNOC is a great example of how Beijing looks to grow its presence in the offshore oil business.

It is little surprise to see that China – again – figures in yet another concessions award in the Middle East, this time relating to the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). In the aftermath of Saudi Arabia’s second disastrous oil price war against the US shale sector, virtually all major Middle Eastern state-owned oil firms are looking to plug varyingly significant operational deficits, as are their governments.

In the absence of a sudden major spike in oil prices, economic survival in practical terms now comes down to one of two broad options. The first is to sell off chunks of state assets in initial public offerings (IPOs) or stakes in ongoing oil and gas projects, which ADNOC recently did with the sale of a 49 per cent stake in its gas pipelines for just over $10 billion to international investors. The second is to sell-off the same assets to companies from countries for which the immediate economic shortfall inherent in such deals pales into insignificance compared to the longer-term geopolitical and financial advantages. In this latter regard, Russia has its own financial constraints to deal with but China does not.

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Specifically, ADNOC has announced the transfer of ownership rights in its Lower Zakum, and Umm Shaif and Nasr offshore concessions from the existing holding of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) to China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) subsidiary, CNOOC Limited. This will be done by CNOOC acquiring a 40 percent interest in CNPC’s majority-owned subsidiary PetroChina Investment Overseas (Middle East) Ltd (PetroChina) through its holding company, CNOOC Hong Kong Holding Limited (CNOOC HK). After the proposal has been approved by Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) – a rubber-stamping affair - CNOOC will join the principal operating consortium in the Lower Zakum concession, comprising India’s ONGC Videsh (10 percent stake), Japan’s INPEX Corporation (10 percent), China’s CNPC (6 percent), Italy’s Eni (5 percent), and France’s Total (5 percent). CNOOC will also join the principal operating consortium in the Umm Shaif and Nasr concession, comprising Total (20 percent), Eni (10 percent), and CNPC (6 percent). ADNOC will retain a 60 percent majority ownership interest in both concessions. 

Significantly, aside from the broader relentless expansion of China into the Middle East, in line with its multi-generational ‘One Belt, One Road’ programme, this deal marks the first time a dedicated Chinese offshore oil and gas company has joined in any ADNOC concession. These points did not go unnoticed by the chairman of CNOOC, Wang Dongjin, who said: “CNOOC will leverage our extensive expertise in the offshore sector and be dedicated to value creation in these concessions for our mutual benefit.”

READ MORE: UAE’s latest natural gas discovery is a gamechanger

In this context, this latest deal follows the signing on 22 July 2019 of a comprehensive framework agreement between ADNOC and CNOOC to ‘explore new opportunities for collaboration’ in the upstream, midstream, and downstream oil sectors as well as in liquefied natural gas (LNG). Described at the time by ADNOC chief executive officer, Ahmed Al Jaber as “far-reaching,” the deal is such a significant move by China into the core oil and gas interests of one of the US’s few remaining vocal allies in the Middle East - the UAE - that the deal signing ceremony was attended in person by China’s President, Xi Jinping.

Although couched in the usual platitudes expected in such deals, even the official guidance on its contents highlighted its vast scope and scale. For example, ADNOC and CNOOC, according to the official published notes on the agreement, will ‘share knowledge, best practices and technologies in ultra-sour gas development to improve operational efficiency in gas processing and treatment, deliver efficiency, performance and reliability for drilling operations and develop field and reservoir development plans’. As an adjunct to this, China’s Offshore Oil Engineering Company (COOEC) would be in prime position for associated engineering, procurement and construction opportunities, as would China Oilfield Services Ltd (COSL) for the supply of oilfield services and to explore collaboration opportunities in offshore oil and gas field assets in Abu Dhabi. 

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Also according to the July 2019 agreement, ADNOC and CNOOC would jointly explore LNG sales and purchase opportunities, share knowledge and expertise in LNG markets, and evaluate partnerships and joint investment opportunities in the LNG value chain. Finally, in the downstream sector, the two companies would collaborate in new integrated refining and petrochemical assets in China, co-operate in CNOOC’s refining assets, and jointly partner and invest in the refining and petrochemical value chain.

One of these early, albeit indirect, China investments may well be into an investment platform to fund local chemicals projects, as part of an overall push to invest $45 billion in downstream activities in Abu Dhabi, according to a senior oil and gas industry source familiar with the project. The investment platform is to be run as a joint project between ADNOC and the Abu Dhabi state-owned holding company, ADQ (formerly known as the Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company) and will oversee the development of projects in the planned Ruwais Derivatives Park. Although ADNOC has not made public the breakdown of where all of the funding is to come from, ADNOC and ADQ together will hold a 60 stake in the project.

That the ADQ has any money at all for such an investment, or indeed for anything at all, is surprising, given that less than two months ago it was in urgent talks to raise a loan of “at least $3 billion,” according to various reports. “ADQ’s attempts to put together a syndicate of banks did not go well and yet here it is with investment funding, at a time when the broader deal with China is moving forward,” he said. “There are no public statements that China is involved in the funding, of course, but it is fair to say that if ADQ or ADNOC had asked China for funding for the investment platform then China would have given it,” he concluded.

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August 12th 2020, 7:25 am

Train derails in Stonehaven, Scotland amid flooding, ambulances rush to scene of accident (VIDEO)


Dozens of emergency vehicles, including an air ambulance, have arrived at the site of a train derailment in Scotland. The train is on fire but so far there are no reports of injuries.

Around 30 ambulances were spotted near the accident site in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire. Photographs show a massive plume of smoke rising from behind a hill, with emergency vehicles parked nearby.

The area was reportedly hit with severe flooding, which may have contributed to the crash. British Transport Police confirmed the derailment and said they were responding to the incident. There have been no reports of casualties or injuries so far.

"It is too early to confirm the exact nature and severity of the incident and more details will be made available once known," Network Rail Scotland said in a tweet.

Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the accident as an “extremely serious incident” and said she was being kept updated on developments, adding that her “thoughts are with those involved.”

The area was reportedly hit with severe flooding, which may have contributed to the crash. Torrential rain in the region had forced some schools to shutter, with flooding also disrupting regular rail services.


August 12th 2020, 7:25 am

Belarusian police use LIVE FIRE against protestors, 1 person injured


One person was shot as Belarusian police fired live rounds at a crowd in the city of Brest near the Polish border as protests continue to engulf the country after Sunday’s election.

A group of “aggressive” young men, armed with metal rods, assaulted law enforcers in the southern city, a police spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The officers fired warning shots in the air but when it failed to have an effect on the attackers, they shot to kill in order to “protect their own life and health.”

One person was injured in the incident, Olga Chemodanova confirmed, without expanding on their current condition.

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People were reportedly leaving flowers on a pavement marked by bloodstains that were left by the wounded on one of the central streets of Brest.

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August 12th 2020, 7:25 am

Flu and pneumonia have killed more people than Covid-19 in England and Wales for seven weeks in a ro


Fresh statistics have revealed that dramatically more people in England and Wales have been killed by the flu and pneumonia than Covid-19 for seven weeks in a row.

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the combined death toll from influenza and pneumonia in the two constituent countries of the UK was five times higher than that from Covid-19 between June 19 and July 31.  

Flu and pneumonia, which are usually combined to provide neater data for deaths as the result of serious respiratory illness, killed 6,626 people in England and Wales in the seven-week period in question. During the same time frame, 2,992 Covid-19 deaths were recorded. 

These figures are subject to change and may even be revised upwards, given the new framework for recording coronavirus deaths, which was implemented after months of record keeping ‘mishaps’.

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It marked the first time since March that flu and pneumonia have been a more common cause of death for citizens in England and Wales than Covid-19.  

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the two nations recorded their highest number of new coronavirus cases within the seven-week period under scrutiny, with 1,148 infections and 102 deaths announced. Viewed another way, however, deaths from Covid-19 reached a 19-week low, despite the worrying new spike in cases, particularly among those aged under 65, the numbers of which have been rising since the lockdown was eased.

The total number of cases globally since the pandemic began has now climbed to over 312,000. The official death toll across the world currently stands at more than 46,600, but clearly this figure is fluid.

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August 12th 2020, 7:25 am

Belarus protests: More than 1,000 people detained overnight, Interior Ministry says


Belarusian police detained more than 1,000 protesters on the third night of protests in Minsk and other cities on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry has said. It added on Wednesday that 51 protesters and 14 police officers were hurt during the protests overnight.

The protests broke out after an election handing a new term to President Alexander Lukashenko.

On Tuesday, Belarusian law-enforcement agencies said they had detained more than 2,000 people during the protests. The Health Ministry said on the same day that more than 200 people injured during nighttime protests were in hospitals.

August 12th 2020, 7:25 am

'He made everybody puke!' Dana White reacts in horror as UFC newcomer Joe Pyfer suffers grisly arm i


Joe Pyfer won't forget his first appearance in the octagon anytime soon after the UFC debutant suffered a gruesome dislocated elbow in a 'Contender Series' bout on Tuesday, horrifying Dana White in the process.

In the closing moments of the first round of the fight between Pyfer and Dustin Stoltzfus at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Stoltzfus elevated his opponent to slam him to the canvas - but Pyfer extended his right arm to break the fall, only for his elbow to buckle under his own weight and come to rest at an eye-watering angle. 

The fight was called off immediately, with Stoltzfus immediately reacting in horror, apologizing to and hugging his opponent, who appeared to take the nasty injury in his stride.


One figure who wasn't quite so quick to dismiss the incident was UFC boss Dana White, whose shocked reaction to the injury was captured on camera and later paid tribute to Pyfer on social media.

"I'm glad Pyfer only dislocated his elbow and didn't break it on tonight's Contender Series. Get well soon kid!!!" he wrote on Twitter.

"First of all, the thing that bummed me out was it was just heating up,” White said to the media after the event. "I was really getting into it when he made everybody puke.

"This kid [Stoltzfus], his record is now 13-1. He’s got a ton of experience. You could tell in there, no matter how the fight went. He was poised. He’s a vet, super sharp. Not only is he in, I actually expect big things from this kid."

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Stoltfuz was awarded a UFC contract immediately after the fight, while Pyfer was handed a trip to the emergency room - highlighting exactly the small margins and varied outcomes that mixed martial arts can present.

August 12th 2020, 7:25 am

'I try to refrain from posting bikini pictures': Canadian ace Bouchard says social media stardom has


Canadian former world number five Genie Bouchard says her social media stardom has provided incredible opportunities but has also come at a cost, revealing that she now tries to “be more mature” with what she posts for fans.

Bouchard, 26, boasts an Instagram following of 2.1 million and has become almost as recognizable for her online activities as her performances on court.

Since reaching the Wimbledon final in 2014, the Canadian has slipped steadily down the rankings to the extent that she now lies outside the top 300.

That demise in the ratings has not hampered her popularity though, as Bouchard has graced the pages of glossy magazines such as Sports Illustrated and Vogue.

As Bouchard begins her tennis comeback from the coronavirus break – recording an impressive straight-sets win at the Prague Open against Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova on Monday – the Canadian said her off-court fame had undoubtedly brought opportunities but also carried drawbacks.

“One-hundred percent [it has helped with sponsorship],” Bouchard told the podcast.

“The number one question brands ask is, ‘what’s the following?’ It’s all about that… It’s a way of valuing people, I guess, which is superficial in a way, we’re all human, but it’s a way to put a number on people.

“I’ve been through the whole spectrum of people loving you. When everything’s going great, people love you. When everything’s going bad, people hate you.

“I’ve been through that wave so many times. It just sucks. People think social media is an exact representation of your day when it’s not.

“I can go running for eight hours then go to dinner and post a selfie and people think I just went to dinner. People need to realize it’s only what people choose to show, that’s what’s out there."

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She added: “I went through the whole spectrum of wanting to post, not wanting to post, being scared, being like, ‘eff all of you guys, I’m going to still live my life’.

“I just don’t even care anymore, it’s just exhausting. I don’t value the opinions of people out there who are just out there judging what I put out there.”

Bouchard admitted that she was trying to be more ‘mature’ with the content she puts out there for fans but dismissed the idea that doing photoshoots with the likes of Sports Illustrated had affected the downward trajectory of her tennis career.

“I really try to refrain from posting bikini pictures. I really do. I’m trying my best.

“Apparently if you post that it means you don’t play tennis or something. It’s influenced a little bit how I act.

"Maybe I’m just getting more mature and I’m like, ‘Look, I’m not going to post butt pictures every day’.

“Tennis is what led me to all these opportunities… of course I’m a tennis player first and foremost, but it opened other doors.”

One of those doors is a movie based on Bouchard’s famous ‘Twitter date’, when a social media bet on the 2017 Super Bowl game ended with her going out for dinner with fan John Goehrke.

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Bouchard and Goehrke have since met up several times and remain friends, although Bouchard said that even such a seemingly innocuous encounter had caused problems for both.

“That infamous moment in my life when I tweeted when I shouldn’t have just turned into this whole thing,” said Bouchard.

“I’m in touch with him casually. Sometimes he plays hard to get and I’m like, ‘Bro, we’re friends, text me back, it’s OK’.

“We’ve hung out a bunch of times. I think he has a girlfriend now though, maybe that’s why he doesn’t text me back.

“All his girlfriends literally hate me. We’ve talked about it so much. Every girl that he ever hangs out with is like, ‘Why would you want to hang out with me when you hung out with Genie?’

“I’m ruining his dating life. It’s so sad. We hang out once a year. I’m not a threat, relax.”

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She added: “It caused problems at the time I had a boyfriend, it caused problems as well.

“Honestly, we were a disaster for each other’s dating lives, it was so bad. People see articles and you get jealous and you wonder, ‘Oh my god, is that real? Is it not? Is it still thing? Is it not?’

“I could see how girls would be jealous, and guys in my life as well. It was tough. We were problematic for each other.”

August 12th 2020, 7:25 am

New Zealand officials consider freight as possible source of new coronavirus cluster


Authorities in New Zealand are investigating the possibility that its first coronavirus cases in more than three months were imported by freight, as the country’s biggest city plunged back into lockdown on Wednesday.

The discovery of four infected family members in Auckland led PM Jacinda Ardern to swiftly reimpose tight restrictions in the city and social distancing measures across the entire country.

Health officials said they were confident there was no local transmission of the virus in New Zealand for 102 days. Investigations were zeroing in on the potential the virus was imported by freight, Reuters reports. Testing was underway at an Auckland cool store where a man from the infected family worked.

Residents of Auckland, home to around 1.7 million people, were given hours to prepare for the return to level 3 restrictions on Wednesday, requiring people to stay at home unless for essential trips.

August 12th 2020, 5:38 am

Recession hits UK for first time in 11 years after economy shrinks by record 20%


The UK is officially in a recession after newly released figures show that the nation suffered the largest economic contraction on record. The slump has been blamed on the government’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 20.4 percent between April and June, marking the second consecutive quarterly decline, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed on Wednesday. The plunge puts the United Kingdom into recession for the first time since 2009 and follows a 2.2 percent drop in GDP in January-March.

The UK’s quarterly GDP plunge is the largest in Europe and also outstripped the economic downturn in the United States.

The ONS said that the drop in GDP represents the largest quarterly losses in the UK economy since it began keeping records of the metric in 1955. The massive contraction “reflects the ongoing public health restrictions and forms of voluntary social distancing that have been put in place in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic,” the ONS stated.

The grim economic data comes a day after the UK posted the largest quarterly drop in employment in more than a decade. 

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August 12th 2020, 5:38 am

S. Korea & US military to hold smaller annual maneuvers – report


Seoul and Washington will kick off their annual joint military drills this week but without mobilizing US-based troops, after scaling back the program due to coronavirus concerns, Reuters quoted a military source in the South Korea capital as saying on Wednesday.

The allies have been discussing how to adjust the exercises, which usually begin in August, with the coronavirus threatening to disrupt the travel of US personnel.

The program involves tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides, although it is largely focused on computerized simulations rather than live field training.

The exercises will be held from August 16 to 28 but in a reduced scale, the military source said. Seoul’s Defense Ministry spokesman said the plans have not yet been finalized.

August 12th 2020, 5:38 am

Gaethje names Khabib's 'biggest weakness' as he vows to create 'zone of death' in UFC title showdown


Justin Gaethje has vowed to create a "zone of death" for Khabib Nurmagomedov in the pair's UFC lightweight title fight in October, claiming that the Russian's biggest weakness is that he believes he is "infallible."

Interim lightweight champion Gaethje and unbeaten title-holder Khabib meet at UFC 254 on October 24 at an as-yet unannounced location, which is widely expected to be 'Fight Island' in Abu Dhabi.

Khabib recently fired an ominous warning to Gaethje, saying he would "take him to the deepest ocean and drown him" when they clash.

But the American – who set up his shot at Khabib by dismantling Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 in May – has now laid out his own plans for the Russian, vowing he would counter his oppressive grappling game and "create carnage." 

“We’re not wrestling anymore. There’s going to be a zone in front of me, it’s not very big. It’s going to be a zone of death, and I have to represent death every time he enters this zone," Gaethje told Michael Bisping on his Believe You Me podcast.

"That’s what I’m the best at, creating carnage, creating car crashes. My goal when I step in there is to create as many car crashes as possible.

"Whether it's our bodies hitting, our heads hitting, our f*cking shoulders hitting, my fist hitting his head, his fist hitting my head – it doesn’t matter, I need to create car crashes because it’s the only way to beat this guy."

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Gaethje enters the contest on a four-fight hot streak, with his demolition of Ferguson being the only one of those contests to go beyond the first round. 

'The Highlight' said that the notoriously dominant Khabib has never faced the kind of threat that he poses with his concussive striking skills – promising that it would be a "battle for the ages."   

“I've never not come out of the cage without my opponent being absolutely broken from physical damage," said Gaethje.  

"[Khabib's] never walked out with a lot of physical damage, so we’re going to see who can impose their will and only one of us will. I do think it’s going to be a battle for the ages.”

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Khabib revealed on Tuesday that four members of his team are expected to be on the card at UFC 254, including cousins Umar and Abubakar Nurmagomedov and close training partner Islam Makhachev. 

Gaethje claimed that the adulation 'The Eagle' enjoys in his Dagestani homeland and beyond merely creates a culture which burnishes his ego, and would actually prove to be his undoing. 

“I think his biggest weakness is I believe that he thinks he’s infallible," said Gaethje, whose record stands at 22-2.  

"I think if you told him that or brought it to his attention, I believe that he would be very good at explaining to you how he does not believe that, but I believe that he surrounds himself with people who stroke his ego." 

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"I believe that culture, this is what I’m counting on anyway, they can stroke your ego. I’ve seen it over there, I’ve seen fighters who really just surround themselves with a posse that pumps them up and jacks them up.”

Far from shying away from Gaethje's war cry, Khabib seemed to welcome the comments.

"Class, I like how he talks and his confidence, so this fight promises to be the best fight this year. I have something to show the world," wrote the 155lbs champ on Instagram.  

Khabib is ramping up his preparations for the showdown with his American rival, which will be the first time 'The Eagle' has stepped into the octagon since he defended his title against Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi last September.

It will also be the Dagestani star's first bout since the death of his father and trainer Abdulmanap at the start of July from complications stemming from a coronavirus infection.

August 12th 2020, 5:38 am

EU foreign ministers to discuss potential Belarus sanctions on Friday – Sweden


Sweden’s Foreign Minster Ann Linde said she has been invited to an extraordinary EU foreign affairs meeting on Friday to discuss potential sanctions on Belarus.

“This morning there has been a summons to an extraordinary EU foreign ministers’ meeting on Friday where we will discuss precisely this [sanctions],” Linde told Swedish radio in an interview on Wednesday.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday condemned what he described as “disproportionate” violence by Belarus authorities against protesters following Sunday’s presidential election. Borrell said the EU could take measures, without giving details, Reuters reported.

August 12th 2020, 5:38 am

‘Hard times are here’: UK suffers WORST economic meltdown in Europe with over 20% GDP contraction


The UK officially entered recession after its economy contracted more than any major European country during Covid-19 lockdown. Its GDP plummeted 20.4 percent in the second quarter, the biggest drop since records began in 1955.

The figures show that the damage was widespread, with the construction industry alone seeing a 35 percent contraction. Services, the biggest part of the economy, nosedived 20 percent, and industrial production shrank 17 percent. Construction led June’s rebound, while services increased a more modest 7.7 percent.

According to the data, government spending dropped 14 percent, while business investment plunged 31.4 percent. Consumer spending declined 23.1 percent. The hospitality industry saw the biggest drop in productivity, tumbling 75 percent. Wages and salaries fell 1.6 percent, the first decline since 2015 and the largest since 2008.

“The long duration of the lockdown in the second quarter, due to the government’s slow response to Covid-19 in March, followed by its failure to prevent the virus from spreading from hospitals, was at the root of the economy’s underperformance,” Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a report, cited by Bloomberg.

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The Bank of England said the labor market was a key concern, while officials fear a jump in unemployment when government job support is withdrawn later this year. The number of employees on payrolls is already down around 730,000 compared with March.

“I’ve said before that hard times were ahead, and today’s figures confirm that hard times are here,” said Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. “Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their jobs, and sadly in the coming months many more will.”

Billions of pounds have been injected into the country’s financial system through bond purchases and lending programs. The central bank has also cut its key interest rate to near zero, having warned that the longer the recovery takes, the greater the risk of economic “scarring.”

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

August 12th 2020, 5:38 am

Mongolian man dies of BUBONIC PLAGUE amid growing concerns over potential outbreak


A Mongolian man has died from bubonic plague, the country’s Health Ministry has announced, rekindling fears that the nation could experience a large-scale resurgence of the disease.

The 42-year-old man, from Khovd province in western Mongolia, succumbed to the illness on Tuesday night. The Health Ministry said that the victim had purchased two dead marmots, ground squirrels which are known to carry fleas that spread the disease, shortly before his death. 

Hunting marmots is illegal in Mongolia, but many view the animal as a delicacy and dismiss the associated health risks. So far this year, 12 laboratory-confirmed cases of bubonic plague have been registered in the country. Last month, a 15-year-old boy died of the disease. 

In July, Mongolia quarantined an entire region after identifying two people with symptoms of bubonic plague. The country’s National Center for Zoonotic Diseases has reported that 17 of Mongolia’s 21 provinces are at risk of an outbreak. 

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However, the threat to neighboring countries such as Russia is almost non-existent. The disease is not transmitted from person to person, nor is it contagious. It spreads from one animal to another through fleas. Vladimir Nikiforov, the chief infectious diseases specialist at Russia’s Federal Biomedical Agency, recently described the plague as “absolutely no threat.”

If left untreated, the plague is highly deadly. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headaches, and vomiting. 

In the 14th century, the plague and its variants, then known as the Black Death, killed 200 million people worldwide. Nowadays it is far less prevalent, with typically only 650 cases recorded each year globally.

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August 12th 2020, 5:38 am

MSNBC accused of cropping image of Biden calling Kamala to remove script he was reading


MSNBC has been accused of some comically conspicuous cropping of a photo of Joe Biden, obscuring his notes for the video call in which he told Kamala Harris she would be his 2020 election running mate.

As election season gathers pace ahead of the November vote to decide the US president, every word, photo and soundbite will be pored over endlessly by both the media and the public, which makes it all the more bizarre that MSNBC would attempt to somewhat needlessly obscure the phone script for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

“I’ve decided I would like you to join this effort to win back the soul of our country and be our nation’s next vice president,” the visible portion of the document reads. “I think you are entitled to know why I chose you. There are three reasons.”

The eagle-eyed GOP rapid-response director Steve Guest was among many who spotted the rather egregious cropping, calling it “an embarrassment [that] Biden needed talking points to talk to his own VP.”

Both Biden’s use of notes and MSNBC’s apparent decision to crop them out caused a considerable stir on social media and many on the political right couldn’t resist the opportunity to twist the knife on Twitter.

Others poked fun at the orientation of Biden’s smartphone, with many scratching their heads trying to figure out why the Democrat was holding the device upside down.

Biden was previously spotted holding notes about Harris at a press conference in July, so the announcement on Tuesday came as little surprise. The 77-year-old had also long expressed his intention to announce a female running mate and the first black woman on a US presidential ticket. 

However, a campaign riddled with high profile and often bizarre gaffes has provoked even more scrutiny of Biden than would otherwise be expected.

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August 12th 2020, 5:38 am

3 killed & 110 arrested after alleged anti-Muslim FB post sparks riots in Bengaluru, India (PHOTOS,


A reportedly derogatory Facebook post led to violence in the streets of Bengaluru, India, with police using tear gas to disperse rioters. Three people were killed in the clashes and a curfew has been imposed.

The chaos was sparked by an inflammatory social media post about Prophet Muhammad shared by a relative of a local lawmaker, according to Indian media. Protesters on Tuesday night surrounded the lawmaker’s home and set cars on fire. A police station was also attacked and set ablaze. 

Police used tear gas and baton charges to clear the mob out of the area. The chaos resulted in three deaths and dozens of injuries. Bengaluru police said that they had arrested 110 people in connection to the riots, and urged the public to cooperate with law enforcement and maintain peace in the city. The individual responsible for the Facebook post has also been detained.

Police announced that a curfew has been imposed in the surrounding neighborhood. 

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August 12th 2020, 2:53 am

QAnon-supporting, anti-Soros GOP upstart Marjorie Greene on track for Congress after landslide victo


A GOP congressional candidate who’s come under fire for endorsing ‘QAnon’ conspiracy theories has taken more than half the vote in Georgia’s primary runoff race, putting her on track to become the first Q-supporter in Congress.

Businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene prevailed over her fellow Republican John Cowan on Tuesday night, earning more than 57 percent of the vote. Greene ran a victory lap following the final result, celebrating her win despite “the GOP establishment, the media, and the radical left” spending “months and millions of dollars attacking me.”

Greene was criticized by both Democrats and the GOP alike during the race, with most detractors pointing to controversial comments in the past, including her support for QAnon theories, which are based on the online postings of an alleged government insider known only as “Q.” Backers of the movement generally believe deep state actors are targeting the Trump administration, some going further to allege elaborate child sex trafficking rings among the rich and powerful, as well as Satan-worship and occultism.

READ MORE: Twitter bans ‘QAnon activity & content’ in sweeping censorship move… bringing national attention to fringe conspiracies

Though Greene has taken some heat for playing up the QAnon phenomenon – once saying the mysterious Q figure is a “patriot” who had “given clues” that “have really proven to be true” – that has not stopped her from receiving some high-level endorsements from within her own party, with Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) backing her election bid in April. Her campaign was bolstered by tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from the House Freedom Fund, a PAC linked to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, while Tuesday’s victory also earned her warm words from the chairman of the Georgia GOP.

Next to Greene’s apparent fascination with Q, detractors have also gone after prior remarks on a range of issues, including Islam and Sharia Law, as well as her intense criticism of the wealthy investor and Democratic donor George Soros, some dubbing her words ‘anti-Semitic.’

Despite the controversy, Greene struck a resounding victory over her opponent on Tuesday, beating out Cowan by some 15 points, despite his status as a medical professional during a mid-pandemic race. Cowan received only 21 percent of the vote during the initial primary election in June, which triggered a runoff when neither candidate secured over 50 percent of the ballots in their favor.

Running in one of Georgia’s reddest districts, Greene is now slated to replace the outgoing Republican Rep. Tom Graves, with her victory in the upcoming contest in November all but assured after scoring big in the runoff race.

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August 12th 2020, 2:53 am

Dancing queen & no-nonsense spokesperson: Maria Zakharova’s 5 years as Russian Foreign Ministry’s to


In the five years since she became the first woman to serve as the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova has become a household name internationally, ruffling quite a few feathers, but leaving nobody impartial.

Zakharova has quickly become known for pulling no punches in her daily briefings, as well as on social media.

Likewise, the spokesperson, whom the BBC once included on its list of the world’s top 100 inspirational and influential women, has not been shy to showcase her life outside the press room, with a video of her performing a traditional Kalinka folk dance in front of dozens of dignitaries at the Russian-ASEAN summit in 2016 becoming an instant viral hit.

Foreign Ministry Official Spokesperson Maria Zakharova makes a selfie during a briefing in Svetlogorsk. © Sputnik / Vitaly Nevar

‘War of puns’ over Syria  

Zakharova does not hold back when it comes to defending Russia’s foreign policy interests, whether it’s Syria, Ukraine, the Skripal saga, or the infamous Russiagate. When decrying remarks by then-US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner in February 2016, who urged Russia to “put up or shut up” over Syria’s truce, Zakharova was having none of the undiplomatic figurative speech, coming back with: “Mark had better order his own colleagues to shut up, if such an idiomatic style of communication is common among American diplomats.”  

‘Stop spreading lies and fake news’

Zakharova has never been a fan of US mainstream media, especially those peddling the now-debunked Russiagate narrative.

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When asked by a CNN crew about spying allegations against former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak after a briefing in Moscow in March 2017, she told a CNN reporter to his face: “Come on, stop spreading lies and fake news. This is good advice for CNN. Thank you,” before walking away.

A poem for John Kerry

US Department of State Spokesperson Jennifer Psaki, her by Russian counterpart Maria Zakharova together with US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. © US Department of State

Zakharova is also known for having a soft spot for poetry. And, during a briefing in May 2016, she used poetry as a diplomatic tool. Responding to a question about intensified telephone contacts between her boss, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and then-US state secretary John Kerry, she recited a slightly altered version of a poem by Robert Burns.

“His heart is in Moscow. His heart is not there. 

“His heart is in Moscow, chasing a bear. 

“Chasing not grizzly, but Kremlinese. 

“His heart is in Moscow, wherever John is.”

Dancing queen

Aside from her tongue-in-cheek remarks, Zakharova is perhaps better known for her dance moves. While attending the 58th Brass Band Festival in Serbia in August 2018, she was filmed moving to the grooves of Balkan music.

Being a versatile dancer, Zakharova later saddled the beat of the Causcian traditional dance, ‘Lezginka,’ at a youth forum in North Caucasus a year later.

But, probably, her most famous performance still remains the fiery rendition of the Russian folk dance, ‘Kalinka.’ 

Maria Zakharova dances during the reception in honour of heads of the delegations at the Russia-ASEAN summit in Sochi in 2016. © Reuters


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August 12th 2020, 2:53 am

Progressive activist Shaun King mocked on all sides for blatant flip-flop on Kamala Harris after Bid


Social activist and writer Shaun King was ridiculed without mercy for a brazen about-face on his support for Kamala Harris, quickly cozying up to the senator after she became Joe Biden’s VP pick, despite criticizing her for years.

King treated his 1.1 million-strong Twitter following to a lengthy defense of Harris soon after she was declared Biden’s running mate on Tuesday, dubbing her “the most progressive candidate among the credible finalists for VP.” Though a look through some of King’s pronouncements on Harris over the years reveals a long string of attacks over her less-than-progressive stances on criminal justice, he took an altogether different tone on Tuesday, saying she had “improved drastically on all justice and policing-related issues” since 2011, when she last served as a district attorney.

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The light-speed flip-flop was noticed by King’s critics and supporters alike, with the former taking a more direct approach, dubbing him a “fraud” while pointing to a November 2018 tweet in which King claimed “99%” certainty that he would not support Harris or Biden, as they “both helped to build and advance mass incarceration.” Quite a difference 22 months can make, given that as of Tuesday, King now ranks Harris “in the top 3 on justice reform issues” among US senators.

Though King took pains to include some skepticism about Harris’ past, noting he had “about 15 substantive critiques of Kamala's time as District Attorney of San Francisco,” his newfound support did not go over well with his followers.

“I can’t believe I’m reading this from you, Shaun. ‘The most progressive candidate among the credible finalists’?!” one supporter wrote in shock, adding “In my view, Kamala is only progressive when it’s convenient.”

King is no stranger to controversy, regularly hurling racially-charged allegations at opponents, such as in May 2018, when he accused a white Texas state trooper of raping a black woman in custody. Hours of body cam footage eventually came to light and discredited King’s claim, which he based on statements the woman made to him and her lawyer, later acknowledging his error. King’s fundraising efforts for various causes have also come under scrutiny, with a Daily Beast investigation last year pointing to a number of discrepancies in reported donation amounts.

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August 12th 2020, 12:37 am

Wrong narrative? US mainstream media mum on murder of 5yo white boy allegedly shot by black man in h


The story of a 5-year-old North Carolina boy who reportedly was killed when a man ran up to him and shot him in the head for no known reason apparently was not compelling enough to merit US mainstream media coverage.

There were some details that might have drawn the attention of the decision makers at CNN, the Washington Post and other mainstream outlets, that have remained conspicuously silent on the story. The boy, Cannon Hinnant, was riding his bike in front of his own house Sunday in North Carolina, and the 25-year-old suspect was a neighbor. He allegedly shot the child at point-blank range as the boy's 7- and 8-year-old sisters looked on.

READ MORE: 12yo girl killed by stray bullet in gang war near Stockholm, leaving Sweden ‘shocked & dismayed’

The hair-raising details of the incident, however, are not gracing the front pages. While it can be speculated why the story was generally overlooked, the fact is Hinnat was white. The alleged shooter, Darius Sessoms, who was arrested Monday, is black. Critics of mainstream media, such as podcast host Matt Walsh, said they've seen a pattern of black-on-white violence being ignored by the press and white-on-black violence being hyped to fit an agenda.

“This is an actual conspiracy,” Walsh said Tuesday on Twitter. “These media companies have to make an editorial decision to blacklist stories like this. It's not like they haven't heard of it. This is a considered and intentional decision to ignore the murder of a child, and the reason is that he's white.”

Walsh added that the shocking nature of the incident belies any suggestions that the story wasn't newsworthy on a national level. “It is absolutely jaw dropping,” he said.

While the killing of a child would seem to add to the story's news value, some netizens argued that even murders of black children are largely ignored when the alleged perpetrator is also black.

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August 11th 2020, 11:38 pm

‘Trust no one & have fun’: Sarah Palin embraced by libs as she comes out with words of encouragement


Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who ran as VP on the McCain ticket in 2008, has been praised as a “class act” by her detractors after she gave Biden’s freshly-announced VP pick Kamala Harris a long list of do's and don'ts.

While US President Donald Trump has already unleashed scathing criticism on Harris, mocking her poor performance in the Democratic primaries, the now-official Biden running mate has received surprising words of encouragement from another Republican.

In a lengthy post on Instagram, Palin, who was relentlessly ridiculed by Democrats during her stint as running mate for the late Senator McCain, gave the third female VP pick in history advice on how to handle her time in the spotlight.

“Congrats to the democrat VP pick Climb upon Geraldine Ferraro’s and my shoulders, and from the most amazing view in your life consider lessons we learned,” Palin wrote, before providing Harris with thorough guidelines on how to stand her ground while campaigning on behalf of the other guy.

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“Some yahoos running campaigns will suffocate you with their own self-centered agenda so remember YOU were chosen for who YOU are. So stay connected with America as you smile and ignore deceptive ‘handlers’ trying to change you,” Palin went on, although it’s unclear if she was citing her own firsthand experience in that regard.

Palin also warned Harris that she should not trust anyone “new” straight “out of the chute,” in addition to being careful about not getting “muzzled” by political operatives.

Rounding up her post, Palin told Harris to bask in the moment.

“Have fun!” she counseled. “This IS the greatest country in the world and hopefully you’ll be blessed beyond belief, like I was, with meeting new people from all walks of life and see just how great it is!”

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Palin’s kind-hearted message comes in stark contrast to the reaction by GOP congressional leaders, who tore into Harris right away. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) argued that Harris’ “record would immediately disqualify her to any moderate, steady-handed candidate,” while House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyoming) branded the former prosecutor a “radical liberal.”

Liberals on Twitter were quick to extol the virtues of the former Republican VP candidate, commending her for her courteous message and fair-mindedness.

This, however, did not stop some backers of the Biden-Harris ticket from employing a more condescending tone.

Others noted that Palin came out far more mature than those on the other side of the aisle when they were seeking to bring her down back in 2008.

“Whatever your thoughts on Palin, the process took a well respected [governor] & sort of destroyed her life. Not a fine moment for presidential politics,” WaPo and NYT correspondent Jose Del Real tweeted, calling her gesture “gracious & earnest.”

“Helluva lot nicer than anyone on the other side has ever been to her. She wasn't ready for primetime, but dad gum folks were awful nasty to her,” another commenter said.

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August 11th 2020, 11:38 pm

Baghdad summons Turkish ambassador after cross-border strike on Kurdish rebels kills 2 Iraqi command


A Turkish drone strike that killed two senior Iraqi commanders has triggered a harsh reaction in Baghdad, with the government scrapping a high-level defense meeting and summoning Ankara’s ambassador to rebuke the attack.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry called on the Turkish ambassador on Tuesday to “inform him of Iraq’s confirmed rejection of his country’s attacks and violations” and voice “a strong protest” over the drone strike, which killed a general and a brigadier in the country’s Border Guards in Iraqi Kurdistan, along with the driver of their vehicle. A visit by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was also cancelled following the attack, which was confirmed by the Iraqi military.

“A Turkish attack using a drone targeted a military vehicle of the Border Guards in the Sidekan area and caused the death of the commander of the Second Brigade, the commander of the Third Regiment… and the driver at the wheel,” Iraq’s security media cell said in a tweet.

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The two commanders were meeting with members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at the time of the attack, two Iraqi security sources told the Associated Press, while the mayor of Sidekan, a town north of Erbil, noted they had been establishing new outposts in the Kurdish-majority region.

Though Ankara has yet to publicly address the high-ranking casualties in the strike, the country’s defense ministry reported that it had “neutralized” two PKK fighters in an “air operation” over northern Iraq on Tuesday night. Turkey considers the PKK a terrorist organization and has clashed with the group intermittently since the 1970s, launching frequent strikes both in its own southeastern region and northern Iraq, where the group is based.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has summoned the Turkish ambassador on at least two other occasions this year over similar air raids on PKK targets in the northern border region, repeatedly slamming the operations as violations of Iraqi sovereignty. Turkey, for its part, maintains that both Baghdad and regional Kurdish officials are not doing enough to stem PKK attacks launched from the Iraqi side of the border, boasting of hundreds of air strikes on the group in recent months.

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August 11th 2020, 8:19 pm

Cure worse than disease: We filmed REAL BLM protesters burning a Bible. NY Times tried to ‘debunk’ i


Mainstream media have denounced Ruptly video of Portland protesters burning Bibles as ‘Russian disinfo’, countering the unaltered viral footage with fake news of their own in bad-faith ‘shoot the messenger’ gaslighting.

Protesters gather around a burning Bible, chanting “F*** Trump” as they neatly drape first an American flag over the flames, in the original video, which clocks in at under 90 seconds. A few of the demonstrators rub their hands over the tiny fire, aping warming themselves as the flames devour the book.

It’s an incendiary image (no pun intended) – protesters already denounced from some corners as anti-American taking aim at beloved national and religious symbols – but Ruptly didn’t attempt to interpret the video beyond explaining the events took place on the 65th day of protests, after federal agents had left the courthouse. The images speak for themselves.

But according to the New York Times, the video’s rapid spread through social media and the conservative infosphere was not the organic result of its newsworthy content that appeared to support their political beliefs – it was instead a deliberate Kremlin propaganda campaign, “one of the first viral Russian disinformation hits of the 2020 presidential campaign.”

The Times doesn’t explicitly accuse the Ruptly photographer of faking the video, but the outlet does everything else it can to cast the clip’s authenticity into doubt – “the truth,” the paper insists, “was far more mundane” than the outpouring of dramatic headlines would have one believe.

Not only was the fire “far from the main action of the protest,” the Times wrote, claiming this was obvious from how the footage “looks and sounds,” but the act itself was hardly the shocking display it’s been presented as: “A few protesters among the many thousands appear to have burned a single Bible – and possibly a second – for kindling to start a bigger fire.”

Anything beyond that, they suggested, was Russian disinfo, and the conservative commentators who “took the bait” and ran with the story are useful idiots misled by those notorious sowers of division. Case closed?

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This simplistic morality play raises more questions than it answers, starting with “how many Bibles is it considered acceptable to burn during a ‘peaceful’ protest?”

Ruptly's footage was unaltered, and its original title – “Portland demonstrators set Bible and US flag alight on 65th night of protests” – is merely a straightforward description of the video’s contents. The video description is no more speculative than the title, and a media agency (no matter where it’s based) can hardly be blamed for what viewers read into its footage.

It was conservative social media provocateur Ian Miles Cheong who claimed “left wing activists” had brought “a stack of Bibles” for a religious-themed bonfire in front of the Portland courthouse – a claim that was then picked up by everyone from Republican Senator Ted Cruz to Donald Trump Jr. But that doesn’t matter to the Times: all subsequent coverage was fruit of a poisonous (Russian) tree.

Except Ruptly wasn’t the only agency to film the incident. The New York Post got its own shot of the burning bible and flag, and local CBS affiliate KOIN wrote about the burning Bible on a live newsfeed of the protest before Ruptly had even posted the clip.

It’s no longer rare to see mainstream media running interference for antifa protesters when they commit disturbing acts. Buzzfeed wrote a lengthy defense of a BLM “raid” on Grace Baptist Church in Troy, New York, explaining the pastor’s “bigoted” views in detail and implying they justified the horde of shouting demonstrators laying waste to the house of worship. Oh, and RT retweeted the footage, so that story is disinformation, too.

Self-styled propaganda experts and academics have been low-key lobbying – through misuse of the term in academic papers and morally-bankrupt experiments – to redefine “disinformation” itself as “facts arranged to serve a purpose” by governments the US doesn’t like, and mainstream media have eagerly latched on to this new definition. As a result – and with the US election just months away – the message matters less every day. It’s the messenger that determines whether something can be trusted.

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August 11th 2020, 8:19 pm

Kamala Harris got ‘destroyed’ by Tulsi Gabbard in Democrat debates, dropped out before primaries – a


California Senator Kamala Harris crashed and burned early in the Democrat primary process, never recovering from the debate drubbing she took from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. She became Joe Biden’s running mate anyway.

“Tulsi” was trending on social networks shortly after the announcement that Harris would be Biden’s choice for vice president should Democrats win in November. That’s not surprising, since their famous clash from July 2019 was one of the most memorable moments of Harris’s short-lived presidential bid, widely credited with sinking her candidacy.

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That day Gabbard calmly took Harris to task over her prosecutorial past, pointing out that she was responsible for getting thousands of African-Americans locked up on draconian drug sentences, even as Democrats clamored for criminal justice reform and racial justice. 

Harris tried to brush that off, insisting she was a top-tier candidate while Gabbard was a nobody polling in single digits. Yet her ratings never recovered, and she called her campaign off by early December – long before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary – citing lack of funds. 

With polls showing Democrats favored to win the White House – though they also showed that in 2016, and things turned out differently – the identity of Biden’s running mate was a hot topic. Biden himself is 77 and even Democrat operatives have been content to keep him hidden “in the basement” and speak as little as possible. He is on the record as saying he would not seek a second term, if elected – and is considered unlikely to serve out the first. 

Given all that, it was widely understood that Biden’s running mate would be Democrats’ actual candidate for the top job. Though Biden had already said it would be a woman, advocates of racial identity politics absolutely insisted that it be a person “of color” as well.

As part Jamaican and part Indian, Harris checks off those boxes – although her claim to be African-American failed to sway black voters during the Democrat primaries.

The viral video of the August 2019 takedown of “Kamala the cop” appeared to be the perfect balm for progressives frustrated by her elevation, coming at a time when Democrats have widely embraced the calls to “defund the police.” 

That radical idea arose from the weeks of protests and violent riots following the May death of George Floyd, an African-American man, in Minneapolis. Soon Democrat-led cities across the US were declaring that police were irreparably and systemically racist, and needed to be replaced by social workers or something yet to be “reimagined.”  

With Harris’s entire political career as a prosecutor, it was clear on Tuesday that the mainstream media machine would have to work overtime to make her fit into that narrative. Denouncing any criticism of Harris as “racist” or “sexist” will be just the start.

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August 11th 2020, 8:08 pm

‘Slap in the face’: Democrats score a self-own after leaving Asian-Americans off DNC speaker list wh


The Democratic Party’s reliance on identity politics led to controversy Tuesday as the lineup of speakers for next week's Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee seemingly failed to include any politicians of Asian descent.

“The gross underrepresentation of Asian American speakers in the four days of the DNC Convention is tone deaf and a slap in the face,” Representative Ted Lieu said on Twitter. Lieu, a California Democrat with Taiwanese ancestry, also noted that Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic group in multiple swing states.

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who bowed out of the race in February, expressed disappointment that he wasn’t given a chance to speak at the convention. “I’ve got to be honest,” Yang tweeted. “I kind of expected to speak.” He added later, “Maybe I endorsed against one too many incumbents.”

Such controversy is not uncommon in a party that has employed a strategy of building a coalition of special interests that identify themselves by such dividing lines as skin color, gender and sexual orientation. Before announcing Senator Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate on Tuesday, Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden had faced pressure to pick a black woman.

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More than 100 prominent black men signed an open letter to Biden Monday warning that “failing to select a black woman in 2020 means you will lose the election.” Harris identifies as African-American and has Jamaican and Indian parents. While running for president in 2019, she faced questions from Democrats over whether she's "black enough."

Yang and another former presidential candidate, Senator Cory Booker, also a former presidential candidate, complained in January that only white candidates had qualified to participate in the final debate before the Iowa Caucuses.

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“I don’t doubt that the rules our party set were well-intentioned, but the outcomes are undeniable: These thresholds have effectively kept people of color from the national stage,” Booker said.

For his part, Booker did land a prime speaking slot at the convention, on Aug. 20, the night when Biden is scheduled to accept the party’s nomination for president.

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August 11th 2020, 7:05 pm

Trump launches scathing ad on ‘phony’ Kamala Harris as Democrats are torn over Biden’s VP pick


President Donald Trump is having a field day with the choice of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate. While Democrat elites are rallying behind the ticket, frustrated progressives point to her problematic prosecutorial past.

Democrats announced Harris as Biden’s running mate on Tuesday, proving right the July scoop from Politico based on a leaked campaign email. The California senator of Jamaican and Indian descent was quickly embraced by the party establishment as the perfect fit. 

Failed 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton said she was “thrilled to welcome Kamala Harris to a historic Democratic ticket.”

“Thrilled” was also the choice phrase of Stacey Abrams, failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate rumored to be in the running for the VP slot until Harris was announced.

Another endorsement came from Alexander Soros, son and heir of the Democrat mega-donor George Soros, congratulating Harris as “our future Vice President” next to a photo of them shaking hands.

The Lincoln Project – former Republican strategists now eagerly working to get Biden elected out of their hatred of Trump – was also thrilled about the choice of Harris, quickly rolling out a video message.

Progressive firebrand Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was also on board, declaring the former prosecutor “understands what it takes to stand up for working people, fight for health care for all, and take down the most corrupt administration in history.”

While Sanders bent the knee, other progressives were not convinced.

“Nothing says Black Lives Matter like the one-two carceral punch of Joe ‘Crime Bill’ Biden and Kamala ‘School or Jail’ Harris,” tweeted Shadowproof editor Kevin Gosztola, pointing out the irony of a Biden-Harris ticket as a way for Democrats to “honor the legacy of George Floyd,” the African-American man whose death at hands of police in Minnesota started weeks of riots across the US.

Harris got her start in politics as a district attorney in California, becoming the state attorney general in 2011 before getting elected to the Senate in 2016. Her prosecutorial record got her labeled a “cop” by progressive Democrats now campaigning to defund or abolish the police.

President Trump reacted to the announcement by releasing an attack ad arguing that “phony” Harris was rejected by Democrat voters long before the primaries began, but Biden is just “not smart” enough to do the same.

At a press conference later on Tuesday, the president said he was “a little surprised” by Biden’s choice, calling Harris his “number-one draft pick” thanks to a “very, very [poor]” primary performance. “She was expected to do well; she ended up at right around 2 percent,” he said.

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August 11th 2020, 7:05 pm

Clashes & arrests across Belarus as post-election turmoil enters 3rd night (VIDEOS)


Belarusians angry with the outcome of Sunday’s presidential election, which the opposition denounced as rigged, have taken to streets for the third night in a row, facing off against police deployed en masse to quell the unrest.

Arrests have been reported as law enforcement moved to disperse protesters in the Belarusian capital, which has been gripped by violence since it was announced that the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko was reelected with 80 percent of the vote.

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Loud bangs have rung out in Serebrianka borough of Minsk, as law enforcement clashed with demonstrators who attempted to block the roads with makeshift barricades earlier in the day.

Similar scene played out at Kamennaya Gorka, in the outskirts of the city. Sounds of explosions were heard in the neighborhood as riot police scuffled with opposition supporters.

The protests have been marred by violence from both sides, but videos documenting local law enforcement’s crackdown on protesters have quickly gone viral.

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One of the most chilling episodes captured on video showed a police officer apparently threatening to detonate a grenade in order to deter bystanders from interfering with the arrest of a young man.

As the Belarusian capital descended into chaos, there have been multiple reports of foreign and local journalists falling victim to the heavy-handed tactics by the law enforcement.

In an incident on Tuesday, AP news agency photographer Sergei Grits was reported to be attacked by a group of uniformed men without insignia, who were quoted threatening to break his camera. The apparent law enforcement officers also seized a memory stick from a local journalist as they swooped on the group.

Protests have swept through other Belarusian cities as well. Footage from Brest, near the border with Poland, showed demonstrators attacking riot police using pepper spray. 

Opposition supporters took to the streets after Lukashenko’s landslide was announced,  claiming that his main rival and united opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was robbed of victory. She officially received 10 percent of the vote.

The first two days of riots saw one person killed, dozens wounded and more than 5,000 arrested. Police have used tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds, while the protestors were tossing stones and Molotov cocktails at law enforcement. There were also videos of officers being rammed by cars.

On Tuesday, Tikhanovskaya addressed her supporters from Lithuania – where she arrived overnight – asking them to “not to go out on to the squares… not to risk your lives.” She insisted that leaving Belarus was her own decision and she wasn’t pressured by authorities to do so. Lukashenko earlier claimed that the post-election protests were masterminded from abroad, blaming Poland, the UK and Czech Republic. Warsaw and Prague have denied the accusations.

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August 11th 2020, 6:52 pm

Belarusian SWAT threaten bystanders with GRENADE after collaring teen in viral VIDEO


As protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election rage on in several cities, video footage has emerged showing the local riot police apparently deploying some heavy handed tactics against teenagers.

In a video widely shared on social media on Tuesday, two members of Belarus’ OMON tactical police can be seen restraining a young man, possibly a protester. The officers manhandle the suspect, and as bystanders complain, one officer tugs on the pin of a grenade. 

The detainee is eventually dragged away and bundled into an unmarked van, before being sped off to an uncertain fate. The Belarusian news portal TUT.BY, whose logo appears on the video, is currently unavailable amid reports of massive internet outages.

Lukashenko’s re-election, which Minsk says he won on Sunday with 80 percent of the vote, has been condemned by the opposition as fraudulent. Mass protests are a rare occurrence in Belarus, but the election drew crowds into the streets, where they were met with rubber bullets, tear gas, and flashbang grenades. 

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Authorities have accused the protesters of taking their instructions from abroad, particularly the Czech Republic, Poland, and the UK. Lukashenko has said he won’t allow a coup to take place on his soil. Opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has left the country for Lithuania, a decision she says she made of her own free will, but one that came after an alleged assassination attempt agaisnt her. The murder plot was allegedly intercepted by the country’s security service, the KGB.

Police say they’ve confiscated molotov cocktails and improvised explosives from protesters, a claim given weight by the death of a demonstrator in Minsk on Monday, when an explosive device exploded in his hand before he could throw it at police officers.

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August 11th 2020, 5:52 pm

At least it wasn’t Susan Rice: Democrats could have made a worse running mate pick for Biden


Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice would have ticked off the woke politics box, but her foreign policy failures and lack of domestic experience ultimately made someone else Joe Biden’s running mate.

On Tuesday, hours before Senator Kamala Harris of California was announced as Biden’s VP pick on the Democrats’ 2020 ticket, the betting markets had pivoted to Rice.

This was based on her taking a leave of absence from her New York Times opinion column and selling off stocks in Netflix, as well as the rumor mill fueled by her conspicuous absence from the list of named speakers at next week’s Democratic National Convention.

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Picking Rice would have been in line with Biden’s promise to nominate a woman, but also the insistence of the Democrat base for a running mate “of color,” what with her being of Jamaican descent. Not only has she held prominent posts in the Obama administration, as US ambassador to the UN and then the national security adviser, she has also fully endorsed the Democrats’ obsession with Russia.

Rice is also a blank slate when it comes to domestic policy, which enables the Democrats to project their hopes and dreams on her while not giving Republicans anything to criticize, as was recently pointed out in the Federalist.

That’s not the case with Rice’s foreign policy career, however. Her appointment as national security advisor in 2013 was fiercely controversial mainly because as ambassador to the UN she had blamed the 2012 Benghazi attack on a YouTube video critical of Islam – falsely, as it turned out. 

She was one of the most outspoken advocates for the disastrous US-led intervention in Libya in 2011, which turned the once most prosperous nation in Africa into a warlord-ridden anarchy where African migrants were sold in open-air slave markets and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists even set up shop at one point. Rice later advocated for a similar intervention in Syria.

During Rice’s Africa days, she reportedly objected to characterizing the 1994 massacres in Rwanda as genocide, according to fellow NYT columnist Bret Stephens. 

“If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” she said on an interagency conference call, according to her future successor at the UN and fellow Obama adviser Samantha Power – though Rice has denied this.

Most recently, and perhaps most importantly, Rice authored the strange memo about how the Obama administration’s investigations of the Trump campaign were conducted “by the book.” Composed and emailed to herself on the eve of Trump’s inauguration, the memo has since been brought into question as evidence emerged of Obama, Biden, and Rice herself being very much involved in going after her successor Michael Flynn, in ways that were anything but “by the book.”

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Between never having run for elected office and the prospect of “relitigation of a bunch of idiotic controversies” – presumably Benghazi and Spygate – even some staunch Democrats such as Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall were skeptical of making her the running mate.

Having Biden as the candidate allowed Democrats to claim any investigation into his dealings in Ukraine during his term as VP amounted to 'soliciting foreign election interference.' They actually went ahead and impeached President Donald Trump in the House over that very issue, back in December, though ultimately failing to oust him from office. Having Rice as Biden’s running mate might have allowed the party to similarly foreclose any investigation of spying on Trump, on the same pretext.

While that would have been perfect from the standpoint of protecting the Democrats from probes, it doesn’t answer any questions about what might happen if Biden actually wins. The aging former VP has already said he would not run for a second term – and is not really expected to serve out the first, either. His running mate is widely understood to be the Democrats’ actual choice for the White House.

In the end, Rice’s foreign policy baggage seems to have been too much for the party, which chose Harris. She also checks off diversity boxes as Jamaican and Indian, and while her prosecutorial past is problematic in the age of “defund the police,” the Democrats apparently think it’s nothing their allies in the media can’t fix.

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August 11th 2020, 5:05 pm

Ghislaine Maxwell complains she’s being mistreated in jail because of Epstein’s ‘suicide’, as lawyer


Accused madam Ghislaine Maxwell has been mistreated in prison because of her partner-in-crime Jeffrey Epstein’s untimely death in custody, her lawyers have complained, asking that she be moved out of solitary confinement.

Arguing that she’s been “treated worse” than other prisoners “as a result of what occurred with Mr Epstein,” Maxwell’s lawyers claimed in a letter sent Monday that the “uniquely onerous conditions” of her imprisonment are preventing her from participating in her own defense.

Maxwell must be released into the general prison population and given increased access to a computer in order to prepare her defense, her lawyers demanded, adding that the government has still not revealed the names of the three victims she allegedly trafficked across state lines for sexual purposes. The 58-year-old socialite was arrested last month and charged with four counts related to the trafficking of young girls and two counts of perjury. While prosecutors have released “nearly 13,000 pages” of documents into evidence, they have not specified the names of the three girls Maxwell supposedly trafficked.

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Noting that Epstein “is alleged to have engaged in misconduct with dozens, if not hundreds, of alleged victims,” the attorneys pointed out Maxwell can hardly be expected to guess which ones have accused her of grooming and abusing them between 1994 and 1997.

Her attorneys have apparently succeeded in having her taken off suicide watch, which involved her wearing “special clothing” and being woken by guards several times a night, but they complained she is still subject to multiple cell searches every day, “numerous body scans,” and guards listening in on her phone conversations. These precautions, the lawyers claimed, are purely “a reaction to the circumstances surrounding the pretrial detention and death of Mr Epstein” and thus unjustified, because Maxwell has never been suicidal in her life.

Of course, one might argue that Epstein was never suicidal either, until his still-unexplained “suicide attempt” while imprisoned with burly ex-cop Nicholas Tartaglione, accused of killing and burying four men in his backyard in a drug deal gone bad. Less than a month after that incident, the wealthy predator was dead of an apparent suicide, while the guards tasked with checking on him slept at their desks and falsified their records.

Unlike Epstein, who expired under those dubious circumstances in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, Maxwell is being held in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. Neither is known for the salubriousness of its accommodation, and acclimatizing to her new environment has no doubt been difficult for Maxwell, whose trial is set to begin in 11 months. She is unlikely to garner sympathy from the dozens of victims who have come forward to accuse her of trafficking them as young girls to Epstein and other powerful men, however. 

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Hundreds of pages of documents from a defamation suit filed by Epstein victim Virginia Roberts Giuffre last month revealed Maxwell was in contact with Epstein long after she claimed to have lost touch with him. The convicted sex offender replied to an email from Maxwell in 2015, telling her to go out and party because she’d “done nothing wrong” and should “start acting like it.” The documents also backed up claims that Epstein and Maxwell were trafficking the girls in order to blackmail politicians and other prominent figures.

Maxwell’s lawyers have tried to prevent other documents from that case from being unsealed, however, despite a judge’s order demanding they be made public. They argued “critical” information has surfaced that will affect both the defamation and the criminal cases. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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August 11th 2020, 4:22 pm

Joe Biden chooses Kamala Harris as running mate


2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden has announced his running mate. The Democratic challenger picked former California Senator and former prosecutor Kamala Harris, after promising to select a woman of color for the role.


August 11th 2020, 4:22 pm

Whose convention is it again? MSNBC uses Republican backdrop to promote Democratic convention


A graphical blunder by MSNBC demonstrates two facts about modern America: that fact-checking takes second seat to pizzazz, and that neither party has a monopoly on red, white, and blue pageantry.

In a series of graphics announcing the speaker schedule for next week’s Democratic National Convention, MSNBC on Tuesday listed the names over a photograph of the Republican Party’s 2012 convention – where Mitt Romney accepted his party’s nomination in a shower of red, white, and blue balloons.

The gaffe was quickly picked up by hawk-eyed Twitter users, who mocked the network for its sloppiness. Among the first to notice was Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic student who settled two defamation lawsuits against CNN and the Washington Post for their coverage of his appearance at a pro-life rally in Washington DC last year.

Mockery aside, the mistake did illustrate the similar design language both sides use during presidential campaigns. Unless a presidential hopeful is running for office on a Green Party ticket, the colors of the American flag are a prerequisite. No matter how often Republicans accuse Democrats of “hating America” or advocating for “socialism,” the party sticks to the same color palette as the GOP, albeit with more restraint.

At a glance, the backdrop could be from any recent convention held by either party.

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As for the convention itself, its speakers include a slew of left-wing progressives, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (both self-described socialists), as well as some more moderate, establishment figures. The latter group will include Bill and Hillary Clinton, while Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will round out the list of presidential power couples. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will make an appearance, as will Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and former Ohio Governor John Kasich – a Republican of the ‘Never Trump’ variety.

The four-day event will be a virtual affair, on account of coronavirus concerns. Joe Biden is expected to accept his party’s nomination from his home state of Delaware instead of the host city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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August 11th 2020, 3:22 pm

Sky-high care home death toll in New York has actually been UNDERCOUNTED, new data reveals


New York nursing home deaths at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic may have been undercounted by as much as two-thirds, according to new federal data. Already the highest in the US, the tally likely omits thousands.

The state’s official count of care home pandemic deaths – 6,600 – may be vastly undercounted, according to data from federal regulators revealed in a report from news agency AP on Tuesday that suggests the state deliberately omitted from its totals nursing home residents who died in hospital.

When regulators began requiring homes to include residents who died in a hospital in their casualty counts in May, the numbers soared to 65 percent more deaths than the official state count. Extrapolating even half of that discrepancy back to the start of the pandemic would mean thousands more died than were officially counted.

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Another hint that the death count could be depressed comes in counting empty nursing home beds. Some 21,000 are empty this year, according to state health department tallies – 13,000 more than expected. Some of that gap could be down to relatives having rescued their loved ones from what have been referred to as “coronavirus death traps,” but AP speculated that many of the vacancies are due to unreported deaths.

New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker has defended the state’s case count, arguing nursing homes are only counting cases on their own property to avoid double-counting those hospitals might also include in their own tallies. While he admitted the state was now keeping track of care home residents who died in hospital, he refused to provide any numbers to state lawmakers, insisting the figures needed to be “double-checked.” It’s not clear how long that will take – AP has been waiting three months for similar numbers, after filing a public records request.

Zucker himself changed the way the state counted nursing home deaths back in April, cutting New York’s nursing home death count in half, but creating the problem he’s now attempting to defend. Even in May, healthcare think tank American Commitment was estimating the total number of nursing home deaths in New York at 12,000. The federal numbers thus remain on track with the suspicions that have been swirling among those in the know ever since.

New York continues to lead the nation in Covid-19 casualties, registering, as of Tuesday, more than 32,000 as having died with the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Despite this grisly achievement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has praised his state’s pandemic response, noting that nursing home deaths comprised “only” 20 percent of its total Covid-19 mortality figures. Counting those care home residents who died in hospital, of course, would bring New York back in line with the rest of the country.

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Most New Yorkers would argue Cuomo has nothing to brag about – his controversial executive order requiring care facilities to admit sick patients from hospitals without testing them for the virus can be blamed for many of the nursing home casualties, however they’re counted. The governor has defended the order, and tried to blame the resulting deaths on everyone from asymptomatic healthcare workers to the failure of the facilities themselves to challenge his own order. But his decision to sneak a liability shield into law in April that will protect those facilities from lawsuits suggests he was well aware of the consequences.

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August 11th 2020, 3:22 pm

On course for great things: Golf stunner Zhu pays tribute to 'amazing' boyfriend Morikawa after PGA


A day after Collin Morikawa won the PGA Championship title, his girlfriend and occasional caddie Katherine Zhu has penned a touching tribute on Instagram, saying he continues to "amaze" her "every single day."

Morikawa became just the fourth golfer to win the PGA Championship before the age of 24, including a drive on the 16th hole which will live long in the memory, and afterwards said that one of the keys to victory was his self-belief. 

"I’ve believed in myself since Day 1," Morikawa said after claiming the trophy. 

"To my family, friends, and the people who believe in me, I simply want to say thank you. We did it!"

It is clear, however, that Morikawa had more believers in him than just himself, after Zhu penned a heartfelt message to him on Instagram. 

"You continue to amaze me every single day. I am so happy to see you accomplish a goal that you’ve worked so hard for! I am so proud of you! Congratulations bby," she wrote on Instagram.

Zhu, 24, is herself a talented golfer, spending four years playing at Pepperdine University and earning multiple WGCA All-American honors.

Morikawa pipped Dustin Johnson and Paul Casey to the win, finishing two shots ahead of both and showcasing his impressive array of shot selection en route to the win.

And it is clear that Morikawa, who doesn't turn 24 until next February, is primed to be a big player for years to come on the tour - and perhaps doubly so if he can keep his apparent good luck charm Zhu nearby. 

Morikawa and Zhu have plenty to celebrate after his US PGA win. © Getty Images

August 11th 2020, 2:50 pm

In pursuit of Grand Slam no. 24: Serena Williams wins first match after 6-month layoff


US tennis icon Serena Williams, who will continue her hunt for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam in the upcoming US Open, has returned to competitive action with a win after a six-month break.

The former world number one, who is expected to be among main favorites at Flushing Meadows later this month, chose the Top Seed Open in Lexington as a warm-up event before the US Open.

READ MORE: U.S. Open 2020: MORE players announce withdrawal as Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens PULL OUT of Grand Slam event

Williams took on her less decorated compatriot Bernarda Pera, who appeared to be a tough nut crack, as the US star needed all three sets to advance to the second round.

After tennis competitions resumed following a lengthy coronavirus hiatus it has become clear that Serena Williams’ dream to win a 24th Grand Slam might be delayed again as the player seemed far from being in her best shape.

Both players got off to a solid start confidently holding their serves before the world number 60 stunned her rival, breaking her serve to take a two-point lead which Williams couldn’t fight back.

Despite saving several break points the US legend failed to save the first set, allowing Pera to take it 6-4.

The US star redeemed herself for a poor start, breaking her opponent in the beginning of the second set, but failed to secured her lead immediately losing a game on her own serve.

The six-time US Open winner regained composure at the end of the set, forcing her opponent to commit unforced errors which helped Williams to win two games in a row and seal the set 6-4.

The US star continued dominating on the court in the third set, creating a solid 4-1 lead which she didn’t squander to seal a 6-1 win.

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Despite taking a well-deserved victory, Williams’ performance left many questions unanswered, as she definitely appeared not in her best physical shape.

In the absence of many top players who have withdrawn from the US Open, Williams’ dream of clinching a coveted 24th Slam looks realistic, however a lengthy hiatus caused by the pandemic could affect her performance as she has little time left to gain competitive shape.

August 11th 2020, 2:20 pm

Western countries fighting ‘info war’ to discredit Russian Covid-19 vaccine are “endangering lives o


Sputnik V, the Russian vaccine against Covid-19, has already become subject to coordinated information attacks from nations that have political differences with Moscow.

That’s according to the head of the Russian sovereign wealth fund that bankrolled the research. Kirill Dmitriev claims that, whether inspired by commercial concerns or just malice, the politicized approach of a number of Western countries ultimately jeopardizes the health and safety of their own citizens.

In the development and trials of the vaccine, Russia used a proven platform that had been tested on thousands of people over the past six years, the chief of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) stressed, during an online conference on Tuesday.

“Coordinated and carefully prepared information attacks on the Russian vaccine are trying to discredit and hide the correctness of the Russian approach to drug development,” Dmitriev said. “A politicized approach to the Russian vaccine on the part of a number of Western countries endangers the lives of their citizens.”

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“Meanwhile, a number of countries are trying to prove, in the case of 30,000 to 40,000 patients, the safety of fundamentally new approaches towards creation of vaccines, which, in fact, need to be tested for several years,” Dmitriev explained on Tuesday. “The fact is that none of these vaccines created with the use of new solutions has been registered anywhere in the world.”

“They have not studied the long-term effects on the human body, including fertility,” he added. “Thinking that such approaches are safe in the long term without carefully studying them, in particular their long-term consequences, is a dangerous illusion.”

Eyebrows have been raised at the speed of the Russian development process, particularly in the West, where nations such as the US and Britain are working on their own solutions. Of course, this also means these countries have commercial and political reasons for wanting to be the first to produce a solution to the Covid-19 crisis, which has also devastated the global economy.

However, Vadim Tarasov, a top scientist at Moscow’s Sechenov University, where the trials took place, said the country had a head start as it has spent the past 20 years developing skills in this field and trying to understand how viruses transmit.

On August 11, the Russian Health Ministry registered the first Covid-19 vaccine in the world. The formula was developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the RDIF. President Vladimir Putin said his own daughter had already been immunized and that she had experienced no serious side effects.

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August 11th 2020, 2:20 pm

The world’s first Covid-19 vaccine: Everything we know about Russia’s ‘Sputnik V’


On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country had registered the world's first coronavirus vaccine, named ‘Sputnik V’.

The president said that one of his daughters had tested the drug on herself.

What we know about the vaccine:

Read more
Putin says Russia’s Health Ministry has approved world’s FIRST Covid-19 vaccine, his own daughter has been vaccinated

How will the vaccine be distributed?


The Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Gamaleya  Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology have launched a new website with information about ‘Sputnik V’. 

August 11th 2020, 1:50 pm

'He'd be as good as any general out there': Trump jokes he'd ask legendary Patriots coach Belichick


President Donald Trump has joked that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would be "as good as any general out there" and that he could rely on him for advice should the US find themselves in a military standoff.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Trump repeated his stance that NFL players shouldn't kneel in protest during the national anthem, as well as stating that the upcoming college football season should kick off as usual amid Covid-19 concerns which have blighted most major sports in recent months - and, as such, faced a series of sports-related questions when dealing with the media this week.

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One particular assertion, though, has caught the eye of national press in the United States and it involves the potential military acumen of noted Trump supporter Belichick.

"You know, if I ever had a military battle, I’d call up Belichick and say, 'What do you think? What do you think? Give me a couple of ideas," Trump said with a laugh on The Hugh Hewitt Show. 

"He’d be as good as any general out there."

Belichick has long held a reputation as the premiere strategist in the NFL, winning six Super Bowls as head coach of the Patriots during his incredibly successful tandem with Tom Brady (along with two more as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants) - but Trump remained steadfastly on the fence when it comes to Brady's split from New England earlier this year to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I think they’re both going to do great. They’re both friends of mine," Trump said.

"I’ll tell you, Belichick is an incredible coach, and I think he’s going to do really well. This guy just knows how to win. And he’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a winner.

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"I think Tom, you know, Tom picked a team where they have a very good offensive line and supposedly great receivers. Great receivers,” Trump added, reserving praise for the Buccaneers' wide receiver corps of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

"He did that on purpose. He didn’t pick a team for just the dollars. He picked a team that really supposedly has some real talent that hasn’t quite gotten there in a long time. So I think Tom’s going to be an interesting person to watch."

August 11th 2020, 1:50 pm

UFO hunter claims to have unearthed ‘alien underground bases’ in South Carolina


A self-proclaimed UFO expert claims to have discovered the entrances to five different underground bases in South Carolina. The alien hunter says he believes that the alleged bases have secret passages that lead to the sea.

Scott Waring of ET DataBase says he discovered the alien outposts hiding in plain sight in South Carolina’s Pee Dee Island while trawling through Google Earth. The features in question are five oval-shaped depressions, which appear to line-up perfectly in the satellite image.

This striking formation was enough to convince Waring that the ovals hide underground alien bases and prompted him to speculate that they have long passageways which lead to the sea.

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“The location is just 50km away from the ocean, so the underground base may extend out into the open sea and allow the UFOs to exit over there instead. However, these old exits/entrances are still visible, so they were obviously used a lot,” Waring said in a blog post about the phenomenon.

The theory coincides with Waring’s belief that aliens have built underwater bases on Earth.

“The five islands are at a perfect 45-degree angle on the map according to the US geological service,” Waring continued. “The five ovals have a center oval that is largest and smaller and then smaller again as it goes outside. They are lined up parallel to each other. All this should be statistically impossible and yet...there it is.”

While the oval shaped features are striking, the scientific explanation is that they are an example of the wetland features known as Carolina Bays. These are elliptical depressions that are largely filled with rain and shallow groundwater. They are primarily found in the Carolinas and Georgia but can also be seen in many places along the US Atlantic seaboard.

Interestingly, geologists aren’t entirely sure what caused the odd shaped water features to develop with some even suggesting that they may be the result of an ancient comet impact. However, most experts believe that they are the remains of ancient erosive processes which are no longer taking place.

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August 11th 2020, 1:32 pm

China extends Hong Kong legislature for a year


The top legislature in Beijing has extended the mandate for the current group of Hong Kong lawmakers for a year from its expiry date of September 30, after a scheduled election was delayed.

The decision by China’s legislature means Hong Kong’s 70-member Legislative Council, or Legco, will continue to perform its duties for “no less than a year” and until the next Legco starts its four-year term, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

Critics say the decision to postpone the election was political and came after China adopted new national security laws on the city in late June, Reuters said.

The standing committee of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, supported the Hong Kong government’s decision on July 31 to postpone a September 6 election for the next Legco for a year, calling it “necessary and appropriate.”

August 11th 2020, 1:20 pm

WATCH: Former Russia captain Shirokov HOSPITALIZES referee in vicious attack after being denied pena


Former Russia captain Roman Shirokov is facing potential police charges over a savage attack on a referee during an amateur match in Moscow in which he kicked the official in the head while he was grounded.

Shirokov, who won 57 caps for his country during a career spent at clubs including Zenit St. Petersburg and Moscow teams Spartak and CSKA, was filmed savagely lashing out at referee Nikita Danchenko during a 'Moscow Celebrity Cup'.

The 39-year-old Shirokov insulted the official after being denied a penalty, reportedly threatening to punch him if he gave him a red card for his abuse. 

When Danchenko duly pulled out the card Shirokov attacked, decking the official with a punch before kicking him as he lay stricken on the pitch.

Pictures shared on social media after the incident showed damage to the area around Danchenko's left eye. 

The referee later gave an update on his condition, saying on Instagram that he had spent more than four hours being assessed in hospital.

"I spent four to four and a half hours in the hospital, then another 15-20 minutes in the treatment room," he said.

"They put stitches everywhere, and did some examinations. Most importantly, everything seems to be fine."

Danchenko and event organizers have reportedly said they will contact police over the attack. 

The referee assured fans that he was fine after spending time in hospital. © Instagram @dante_71_

Shirokov, who spent the bulk of his club career at Zenit, winning the UEFA Cup and Super Cup with the team in 2008, was appearing in the tournament for sports channel Match TV. 

He has since been suspended from his duties as a pundit, as has former Spartak Moscow midfielder Andrey Tikhonov, who was playing alongside him and appeared to insult a reporter filming footage of the scenes.  

Shirokov took to Instagram on Tuesday to apologize for his actions, although still appeared bitter over the referee's penalty decision.

"I would like to express my sincere apologies to (the referee) for such an inappropriate act," wrote Shirokov, sharing a picture of the official. 

"I am perfectly aware that not assigning an obvious penalty and then the red card shown cannot be a reason for throwing my hands around, I hope Nikita as soon as possible will return to service. 

"I also want to apologize to the organizers of the tournament, my teammates Match TV and viewers."

Meanwhile, tournament organizer German Popkov branded Shirokov's behavior “disgusting.”

"There was an ordinary episode, Roman's dispute with the referee, and then the beating began.

“This is unacceptable, disgusting and terrible. [It’s] very strange behavior.

"A lot of people saw it live, all this from a million angles. And this is from people with whom we are completely friends.”

Shirokov retired in 2016, having captained Russia during that year's European Championship clash with Wales. He played 57 times in all for 'Sbornaya', scoring 13 goals.  

Shirokov in action against Wales in 2016. © Sputnik

August 11th 2020, 12:50 pm

'If they don't stand for the national anthem, I hope they don't open': Donald Trump issues fresh NFL


Donald Trump has again outlined his view that no sportspeople should kneel during the national anthem, saying that he would rather the NFL didn't begin its season than see Black Lives Matter protests before games.

Speaking to a Fox Sports morning radio show on Tuesday, the US president spoke on a range of topics, including Tom Brady's recent move from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but soon hit one of his more favored sports talking points: the wave of athletes across multiple disciplines kneeling before games, or during the national anthem, to protest police brutality and promote equality.

Trump's stance has long been a consistent one, and dates back to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick popularizing the 'Black Lives Matter' movement before a game in 2016 - and this time around he says that he would rather not see football at all than have to sit through players exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest. 

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"If they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open," Trump said, adding that the owners of the league's various teams are well aware of his stance.

"They know my feelings very well, they’ve been expressed."

Trump, meanwhile, lauded the NHL's pregame demonstrations in which players opt not to kneel and with no 'Black Lives Matter' imagery being displayed on uniforms or otherwise - while being critical of both the MLB and the "very nasty" NBA's whose pregame demonstrations included both.

He also criticized the television ratings that the basketball league was getting, saying without evidence that people were "very angry" at the situation. 

The NFL has yet to outline any specific plans for pre-game demonstrations ahead of the league's expected start in September, but there are highly likely to take place given that Kaepernick first popularized the expression on the side of an NFL field. 

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was once a vocal opponent of the kneeling protests, admitted in a statement following the death of George Floyd that the league took an incorrect stance under his leadership.

"We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," Goodell said in a statement in June. "We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter."

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However, Trump clearly isn't on the same page.

"You have to stand for your flag, and you have to respect your flag and your country," Trump said. "You’re making millions of dollars a year playing a sport you’d be playing anyway, they’d be playing it on the weekends.

"And they have to respect their country. If they don’t, frankly, if the NFL didn’t open I’d be very happy."

August 11th 2020, 12:32 pm

Rowan Atkinson invokes wrath of cancel culture for raising concerns about controversial ‘hate crime’


Comedian Rowan Atkinson has incurred the wrath of woke warriors on social media after voicing his opposition to a controversial hate crimes law which he believes will stifle free speech and rational debate.

The British comedy legend was among a group of authors, journalists, philosophers and campaigners who signed an open letter against legislation put forward by the Scottish Nationalist Party, warning of the “unintended consequences” the bill could have.

The signees raised specific concern over provisions around making “stirring up hatred” an offence, even if it was not the intention of the person making the comments.

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“The Bill creates stirring up offences without any intent being examined; merely that the words, action, or artwork might do so. This offence could even be applied to being in possession of materials produced by someone else, where sharing the material could stir up hatred,” the letter states.

The unintended consequences of this well meaning Bill risk stifling freedom of expression, and the ability to articulate or criticise religious and other beliefs.

Concerns have been raised that people like JK Rowling could have been targeted by the new law, after she expressed her views on transgender issues.

Other prominent people to add their name to the letter include the human rights campaigner  Peter Tatchell and the philosopher AC Grayling. The Law Society of Scotland, the Scottish Newspaper Society, the Scottish Police Federation and the Catholic Church have also raised concerns about the bill.  

Despite numerous prominent people and organizations raising objections, Atkinson has served as a lightning rod for those in favor of the law, with many cancel culture jihadis rounding on the popular comedian.

The swirl of reaction saw the ‘Mr Bean’ and ‘Blackadder’ actor’s name trend on Twitter in the UK on Tuesday. Some responders put forward their reasons for disagreeing with Atkinson, while many others just resorted to name calling.

However, it wasn’t all bad news, as many applauded the actor for taking a stance. The backlash boomeranged into support for Atkinson and people began sharing footage of the comedian discussing free speech back in 2012. 

“The reasonable and well-intended ambition to contain obnoxious elements in society, has created a society of an extraordinarily authoritarian and controlling nature. It is what you might call The New Intolerance, a new but intense desire to gag uncomfortable voices of dissent,” Atkinson argues in the resurfaced clip.

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August 11th 2020, 12:32 pm

Russia receives orders from 20 countries for ONE BILLION doses of world’s first Covid-19 vaccine


A total of 20 nations from Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia have already requested doses of Russia’s breakthrough coronavirus vaccine, which was confirmed to be registered on Tuesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At a conference dedicated to the announcement of the vaccine’s registration, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) explained that it had already received orders for a billion doses.

“Together with our foreign partners, we are ready to produce more than 500 million doses of the vaccine per year,” Kirill Dmitriev explained. Everything produced in Russia will be used domestically, and doses for use in other countries will be made abroad.

According to Dmitriev, the RDIF is also working on a humanitarian aid program for developing countries, with the aim of making the Covid-19 vaccine available in states that can’t afford to make or buy their own.

Explaining that vaccination is an acute problem in the world’s poorest countries, Dmitriev said that the fund believes “people around the world should have equal access to a vaccine, regardless of their financial situation.”

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that the country had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine. Named “Sputnik V,” the vaccine is due to enter mass production soon, and will be available to the general public from January 2021. Despite being registered, the vaccine will still go through another stage of clinical trials in the Middle East.

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August 11th 2020, 11:50 am

Foxy fascists? CNN report on ‘racist’ eye makeup leads to mass eye rolling


‘Fox Eyes’ are so hot right now, as women seek to ape the almond-shaped eyes of their favorite influencers. However, CNN has stepped in to ruin the party, declaring the practice “racist” and “cultural appropriation.”

Whether it’s achieved by creative combinations of eyeshadow, eyeliner, and fake lashes, or by lifting and taping the brows, ‘fox eyes’ is a term used to describe the sculpting of the eye area into an elongated, almond shape, a la Kendall Jenner or Bella Hadid.

Think it’s pretty? You thought wrong, you racist! That’s according to a CNN article published on Tuesday, that exposes the trend for the “racist” piece of “cultural appropriation” that it is. According to the student blogger CNN got in touch with for the report, the trend looks disturbingly similar to the ‘ching chong eyes’ gesture schoolchildren would make to bully her. 

Even when it’s not done in jest, the practice “exoticizes and eroticizes” Asian eyes, because of “privilege and power,” a University of Kansas sociology professor chimed in.

Now that CNN’s cultural commissars have spoken, you can throw away the tape and scrub off those carefully-drawn eyeliner flicks, you fascist.

Some influencers and social media posters want the trend to end, with one California-based group of activists calling it a symptom of “internationalized racism” against Asians and another calling it “problematic.”

However, CNN was hounded on Twitter for its fashion policing.

‘Fox eyes’ aren’t the only beauty trend identified as “problematic” by the woke media. Hoop earrings, dreadlocks and tattoos have all been highlighted as racist by the commentariat. On a long enough timeline, though, perhaps the uber-woke and the demure right-wing ‘trad girls’ will finally agree that western women should stick to their grandma’s wardrobes and makeup bags.

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August 11th 2020, 11:32 am

France extends ban on mass gatherings to October 30 as ‘infection rate heads in wrong direction’


PM Jean Castex said on Tuesday that the coronavirus infection rate in France was headed in the wrong direction, adding that a collective response was necessary.

The public was becoming careless, Castex warned, after official data recorded nearly 5,000 new coronavirus cases from Saturday to Monday. The epidemic has killed more than 30,300 people in France, Reuters said.

France is extending a ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people until the end of October, Castex said. New restrictions will be drawn up in the 20 largest cities to curb the rising infection rate. Local officials wil be asked to encourage the wearing of masks in public spaces nationwide.

August 11th 2020, 11:32 am

Transgender & ‘gender diverse’ people six times more likely to be diagnosed as autistic, true figure


A new major study has found that transgender and “gender-diverse adults” are six times more likely to be diagnosed as autistic than the general population.

The fresh research by scientists at the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Center took data from more than 600,000 people and confirmed previous findings from smaller scale studies of a similar nature.  

They combined five different data sets in which participants provided detailed information on their gender identity, autism diagnosis as well as any and all other pertinent mental health diagnoses, such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 

Across all five datasets, transgender people were three to six times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than non-trans or non-gender-diverse people.

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The true figure is likely far higher as autism is typically underdiagnosed. An estimated 1.1 percent of the UK population is on the autism spectrum, which would indicate that up to nine percent of transgender and gender-diverse adults are likely also autistic.

Transgender people were also found to be more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression. They also scored higher for autistic traits, on a questionnaire about non-clinical features of autism, regardless of their autism diagnosis. 

“This finding, using large datasets, confirms that the co-occurrence between being autistic and being transgender and gender-diverse is robust,” Dr Varun Warrier, who led the study, said. Dr Warrier emphasized that the co-occurrence of autism and transgenderism did not necessarily indicate a causal relationship. 

The research provoked a notable reaction on social media. Some questioned the language used by the authors of the study, asserting that the controversial topic was cannon fodder for woke warriors online. Others shared their own experiences and insights into the possible connection between the autism spectrum and transgenderism.

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August 11th 2020, 11:32 am

Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe will be completed soon – Lavrov


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will be completed in the near future, despite US pressure on those involved in the massive energy project.

The top Russian diplomat met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday. Speaking at a joint news conference after the talks, Lavrov said that all the participants of the Nord Stream 2 project, including Russia and Germany, are determined to finish it. 

“In my understanding, there is reason to believe this will be done in the near future,” he told reporters, adding that European states should determine their energy policy on their own. 

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The statement comes as Washington has been increasing pressure on the project, including expanding sanctions to target its investors and insurance companies, among others. Earlier this month, a group of US senators threatened to impose “crushing legal and economic sanctions” on Germany’s Mukran Port, on the Baltic Sea, where the vessels helping to build the final stretch of the pipeline are stationed.

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Berlin has repeatedly decried aggressive US policies, saying it rejects Washington’s extraterritorial sanctions. According to Lavrov, the US sees no boundaries when trying to achieve its political or economic goals.

“We clearly see how Washington operates in the international arena, without shying away from any methods, which is proven by the situation around the Nord Stream 2,” the Russian foreign minister said.

On Tuesday, one of the project’s financial backers, German utility Uniper, said that, while it hopes that the construction of the pipeline will go as planned, it has to take into account the worst-case scenario, in which the project may collapse due to US sanctions.

“Pressure has further intensified,” said the firm’s Chief Executive Andreas Schierenbeck. “The worst case would be, of course, if [Nord Stream 2] would never be finished and then, of course, the question is, can we get our money back or not.” 

Nord Stream 2 aims to supply Europe with up to 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year, on top of the 55 bcm annually supplied through Nord Stream 1. After the project stalled at the final stages due to US sanctions at the end of 2019, Russia had to work to finish the route on its own. It plans to complete the pipeline by the end of the year or in early 2021.

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

August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

'Announce Havertz': Chelsea fans demand signing of German prodigy as Dutch minnows joke they have sn


Chelsea fans have called on Roman Abramovich to complete the club record transfer of German wunderkind Kai Havertz following his team's European exit on Monday night - as a Dutch club jokingly claims to have secured his signature.

The 21-year-old Havertz has almost certainly played his last game for the club following Bayer Leverkusen's 2-1 defeat to Inter Milan in the Europa League, with Abramovich set to break the bank to land one of European football's most prized talents. 

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The Chelsea hierarchy, and in particular head coach Frank Lampard, have remained steadfastly tight-lipped about the prospective signing but some wily reporters asked Leverkusen boss Peter Bosz for an update on his team's prized asset - and the reply was an unusual one.

"Yes, I can exclusively announce he'll play for Heracles Almelo," Bosz told the media, with his tongue firmly in his cheek and referring to the club he formerly managed.  

Seizing on the moment, the Dutch side's social media team wasted little time in producing an image to 'welcome' Havertz to their ranks. 

Forgetting for a moment that Havertz' transfer fee would likely cost more than Heracles' entire combined first team squad, it seems inevitable that his transfer to Stamford Bridge will be completed in the coming days following Leverkusen's European exit, but some fans seem to be growing weary of the relentless speculation.

Should the deal be completed, Havertz will join Chelsea's updated ranks for next season. Fellow German Timo Werner has already been confirmed as a new capture, while Hakim Ziyech's transfer from Ajax has also been completed. 

Lampard has also been linked with big money purchases of Leicester City's English international fullback Ben Chilwell, and West Ham's Declan Rice as the team looks to shore up the leakiest defense of the Roman Abramovich era. 

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Given last summer's transfer ban, and the lack of purchases when the suspension was lifted last January, this summer remains the first real opportunity for rookie boss Lampard to purchase players definitively for his own system and footballing philosophy - but with greater expectations, and the high profile purchases, one suspects that Lampard will have to find success soon lest he meet the fate the of those who met the managerial chopping block before him. 

August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

‘I like him, but I don’t feel the same way now’: Trump claims Covid-19 pandemic spoiled ‘very good r


US President Donald Trump has said that his feelings towards his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, have soured due to the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the pair used to enjoy amicable relations.

“I used to have a very good relationship with him,” Trump told Fox Sports Radio in an interview. “I had a great relationship with President Xi. I like him, but I don’t feel the same way now.”

He said that since the Covid-19 outbreak, which Trump called the “China Plague” in a recent tweet, the two haven’t communicated.

US-China tensions have significantly increased since the pandemic began. Trump’s administration has repeatedly blamed China for the outbreak, going so far as to theorize that the virus may have come from a laboratory in Wuhan. He suggested that the political fallout from the health crisis has been far worse than his controversial trade war with Beijing. 

“This is a thousand times the trade deal what happened with all of the death and... the world had to shut down. It’s a disgrace,” Trump argued. 

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China has repeatedly denied any nefarious involvement in the spread of coronavirus and has challenged Washington to produce evidence to back up its claims. 

Washington has also gone after Chinese businesses as its rift with Beijing grows in severity. The Treasury Department announced on Tuesday that Chinese firms with shares traded on US stock exchanges could lose their listings if they refuse to comply with audit requirements. 

The move follows Trump’s decision to ban US firms from doing business with Chinese-owned social media platforms TikTok and WeChat within 45 days, claiming the apps are used to spy on US citizens. Beijing has fervently denied the accusation. The two nations have also entered into a tit-for-tat sanction battle over alleged human rights abuses in Hong Kong. 

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August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

Washington threatens to kick Chinese companies off US stock exchanges


Chinese firms with shares traded on US stock exchanges could lose their listings if they won’t comply with US audit requirements, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has warned.

“As of the end of next year, if they do not fully comply, and that’s Chinese companies [and] any other companies, because they all have to comply with the same exact accounting ... they will be delisted on the exchanges,” he said.

The warning comes amid a long-lasting dispute over US regulators’ inability to inspect the financial audits of Chinese corporations, such as e-commerce giant Alibaba, that are listed in New York. It also follows a recommendation by the US President’s Working Group on Financial Markets that had asked for measures that would enhance the listing standards on US exchanges in order to “protect investors against risks” from Chinese companies.

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Last week, President Trump gave warning to US firms that they would be banned from doing business with the Chinese-owned social media platforms TikTok and WeChat within 45 days. He says the apps are used to spy on US citizens – a claim China stringently denies.

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

August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

World’s first registered Covid-19 vaccine named ‘Sputnik V’, Russia launches official website


It might not be the space race, but there’s a new Sputnik in town. As an homage to the first-ever artificial Earth satellite, Russia has christened the world’s first registered coronavirus vaccine ‘Sputnik V’.

“In 1957, the successful launch of the first space satellite by the Soviet Union reinvigorated space research around the world. The new Russian Covid-19 vaccine is therefore called Sputnik V,” the official website explains.

On Tuesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on television that the country had registered the world's first vaccine against coronavirus, which is due to be available to the general public by January. Before then, priority will be given to medical workers and teachers.

Since the satellite’s launch, the phrase ‘Sputnik moment’ has been used to describe the point at which a country realizes it needs to catch up with developments made by another nation. In 1957, when news of Sputnik broke, the US was caught unprepared, igniting the Cold War space race. Just as was the case 63 years ago, Sputnik V is being framed as a victory.

The website explains how the adenovirus vaccine works, with the goal of providing “up-to-date information about Sputnik V” to combat “the misinformation campaign launched against it” in the international media.

Sputnik V has not been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is maintaining “close contact with the Russian health authorities.” According to WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic, the prequalification of any vaccine requires “rigorous review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data,” which the organization is yet to see.

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August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

'God save the Queen': Zlatan trolls England as he recreates epic overhead kick on holiday (VIDEO)


Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a cheeky holiday message for England fans as the giant Swede recreated his stunning long-range overhead kick goal against the Three Lions from back in 2012.

Enjoying a sunshine break after the end of the Serie A season, the AC Milan forward has been cruising the Mediterranean aboard a superyacht.

The big Swede broke off from sunning himself to create a water-based version of the wondergoal he scored against England back in November of 2012, which was part of an incredible four-goal display from the striker.

In a slow-mo clip shared with his 43.7 million Instagram followers, Zlatan tosses the ball into the air before rising from the water to perform a bicycle kick, showing his continued prowess even at the age of 38.

"God Save the Queen," the Swede captioned the clip, making it clear whom the post was addressed towards.

Zlatan's four-goal heroics on that night back in 2012 in Stockholm were seen as all the more sweet by the star after perceived jibes from the English press that he would not be able to cut it in the rigors of the English Premier League, despite having picked up silverware at numerous European giants.

His riposte came in the form of a scintillating individual display against an experimental England team, capped with his 30-yard bicycle kick in injury time.

The Swede, who was playing for Paris Saint-Germain at the time, picked up the FIFA Puskas Award for the strike, and said somewhat modestly of the goal: "I saw [England goalkeeper Joe Hart] come out and had to decide whether I should go in a duel or wait for him to head it out.

"When he headed it I had it in my mind to try to score. I hit it in mid-air and, when I landed, saw [Shawcross] running back to try to clear but it bounced over him. It was a good try, that is all."

Having since further proved the doubters wrong during spells at Manchester United, LA Galaxy and now again at AC Milan, Zlatan's immediate future is still unclear after his contract at the Italian giants came to an end.  

Milan sporting director and club legend Paolo Maldini has signaled however that the Swede will be crucial to the team again next season, despite the two parties yet to agree an extension to their deal.  

"We have created something this season which needs continuity. Zlatan is part of this project. It won't be any easy negotiation but we want to move forward with him," said Maldini. 

Zlatan struck 10 Serie A goals in 18 appearances last season, helping rejuvenate the San Siro giants for the second part of the campaign.

The Swede has shown he's staying in shape during the summer despite enjoying the luxury environs of the megayacht he is staying on with his family. 

August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

'This is a circus': World champion high jumper Lasitskene hits out at Russian athletics bosses over


Prominent Russian high jumper Maria Lasitskene has hit out at the national federation, branding it a 'circus' over its inability to resolve a long-lasting doping saga and have its international membership reinstated.

Reigning world champion Lasitskene, who is the favorite to win Olympic gold next summer, could be denied a chance to participate in the Tokyo Games after World Athletics halted the process of granting neutral status to Russian competitors.

READ MORE: 'We recognize these are difficult times': World Athletics delays decision regarding potential Russia expulsion

The Russian Athletics Federation (RUSAF) could be expelled from World Athletics after it failed to pay a $5 million fine for alleged doping manipulation.

"RUSAF is a true circus with its team members, including chief Evgeni Yurchenko, being its main actors who have no shame. He resigned one month ago and then returned again as if nothing has happened. All those people should not represent Russian athletics, they only damage our reputation," Lasitskene said.

"In December there will be a decisive World Athletics Council regarding Russia's participation in the 2021 Olympics. RUSAF management has already wasted six months doing nothing and we will lose several more months again.

"The work of the RUSAF Reinstatement Committee will remain in doubt till autumn. It's a pity that the Russian Sports Ministry and Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) turn a blind eye to this chaos. Though they have always done this regardless of who headed the RUSAF," the jumper added.

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Last year, World Athletics suspended the process of granting neutral status to Russian athletes amid a doping scandal involving world silver medalist high-jumper Daniil Lysenko.

The new management of the Russian Athletics Federation (RUSAF) accepted guilt, firing all the coaches and officials involved in the Lysenko row.

In order to be reinstated, RUSAF was obliged to pay a $5 million fine and additional costs to World Athletics, but failed to do so before the deadline.

The athletics governing body has moved the deadline and threatened to expel Russia from its membership if the fine is not paid by August 15.

August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

'Goodbye!' German team FC Cologne give red card to supporter who canceled membership because of mosq


FC Cologne have hit out at a supporter who contacted the club to complain about the German side featuring a mosque in the design of their new kit - by adopting his suggestion to have the team play in pink jerseys next year.

As the club revealed on social media, they were contacted by a fan of the club who was angry that the club's jerseys featured the image of a silhouetted mosque as well as the Cologne cathedral. 

"Today I have come to the realization that FC will be playing in kits that have a mosque on them," the unidentified fan said via the team's Twitter account. 

"Due to the fact that I can’t identify with Muslims and mosques, I am now making known my exit from the religious organization. I suspect we will play in pink next season, and then the open world is perfect."

And, according to an official communiqué from the club, they say that they might actually take up their former fan's suggestion.  

"We received notice from a member who wanted to cancel their membership due to the mosque on our kit," the club wrote in response alongside a picture of a prospective pink FC Cologne jersey. "To that, we say: goodbye and thanks for the idea!"

Germany has the second largest Muslim population in Europe, behind France, with around 4.7 million living within the country's borders - around 3 million of them being of Turkish origin. 

Recent estimates suggest that around 11 percent of Cologne's population in Muslim, and the city houses the largest Mosque in Germany – and one of the largest in all of Europe – which was opened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2018. 

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August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

‘Safe & effective’ over ‘first’: US throws shade at Russia’s first-to-market Covid-19 vaccine


Top US health officials have insisted the US is holding out for a “safe and effective” Covid-19 vaccine, hinting that Russia’s shot is anything but - or even that it’s a plot to “goad US into forcing early action on our vaccines.”


August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

Britain & France working on new plan to shut down illegal migration across Channel


London and Paris are working on a new plan to shut a Channel migration route from France, British immigration minister Chris Philp said on Tuesday. The minister was speaking to reporters at the British Embassy in Paris after holding talks with his French counterparts, Reuters said.

Hundreds of people, including some children, have been caught crossing to southern England from makeshift camps in northern France over the last week. Many were navigating one of the world’s busiest shipping routes in overloaded rubber dinghies.

Britain wants greater flexibility to return illegal migrants to France after they risk the journey across the English Channel in small boats, a junior health minister, Edward Argar, was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

August 11th 2020, 10:46 am

Swarm of subsea quakes near San Andreas fault reignites doomsday prophecies, fears of impending ‘Big


A swarm of dozens of minor earthquakes hit just south of the San Andreas Fault in a matter of mere hours, prompting concerns that California might be hit by a megaquake in the near future.

The largest temblor in Monday’s swarm was a magnitude 4.6, while there were multiple magnitude 3 quakes, all of which struck in an area known as the Brawley Seismic Zone, wedged between the San Andreas Fault and the Imperial Fault which goes all the way south to Mexico.

Similar swarms have been recorded in the past and typically last approximately one week but with each new swarm, tensions mount that the Big One could hit at any moment. 

“We have faults that are building up strain all the time,” said Zachary Ross, a seismologist at Caltech who studies these swarms.

At present, there is a one in 10,000 chance of a magnitude 7 and above quake hitting the southern San Andreas area. 

There is roughly a one in five chance of one hitting in the next three decades and a one in a hundred chance of a magnitude 7 and above quake occurring in the next week, a similar level of risk in the aftermath of another such swarm in 2016. 

A view of the San Andreas Fault north of Wallace Creek, California. © REUTERS/Scott Haefner/U.S. Geological Survey

“It’s definitely something to watch,” said USGS research geophysicist Morgan Page, cuationing that there was no immediate need for panic, just vigilance. 

Monday’s swarm is only the fourth time in the 88 years since official records began that such a swarm has struck this area. Meanwhile, the San Andreas fault has not ruptured in the vicinity since 1690 and it is estimated to rupture once every 250 years or so. 

While seismologists are concerned, they would be far more concerned were the swarm to shift northwards toward the fault. That didn’t stop people from posting doomsday prophecies in response to the USGS, though others were a little more playful.

The last true mega quake to occur in Southern California was a magnitude 7.8 in 1857. However, just last year, on July 5, a magnitude 7.1 quake struck the Golden State, causing billions of dollars in damage.

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August 11th 2020, 9:14 am

'From Russia with love': Tyson Fury tucks into famous Russian 'Olivier salad' as world heavyweight c


World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury's current diet has a distinctly Russian feel as the boxer sampled the delights of the famous 'Olivier salad' at a local café.

Fury's slimmed-down frame has been a crucial factor in his return to the top of his sport, with the 6ft 9in star shedding 125lbs after his weight ballooned following his spiral into drinks, drugs and depression in the years after he shocked Wladimir Klitschko to win the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world titles. 

Before his most recent fight 'The Gypsy King' also hailed the arrival of chef and nutritionist George Lockhart – who has worked with the likes of MMA megastar Conor McGregor – into his camp as Fury demolished Deontay Wilder to win the WBC title in their rematch in February. 

An trilogy fight with Wilder is expected later this year or potentially in early 2021, and true to recent form Fury is ensuring he stays in shape even between bouts, frequently showing off his health-conscious lifestyle on social media and holding online workouts for fans during the coronavirus lockdown. 

Fury took to social media on Tuesday to show the latest addition to his diet in the form of the famed 'Olivier salad' – a mainstay of Russian celebrations such as the New Year holidays. 

Filming himself at a local café with his father John, Fury introduced a cook he called "Nell", who went on to explain the delights of the vegetable-based salad said to have been pioneered by Belgian cook Lucien Olivier in Moscow in the 19th century.

"We introduce today our lovely customer Tyson Fury a Russian salad, it’s called Olivier," begins the hostess in English, before switching to Russian. 

“Today we are going to feed Tyson with Russian food, ‘salad Olivier’ with chicken and our lovely salted cucumbers.

"His dad John is also having salad Olivier today. This is also Olivier with chicken."

An impressed Fury praises the dish as looking "amazing" and also talking up its health benefits, which will likely depend on just how much mayonnaise has been added.

"Oh, absolutely lovely, it looks amazing, it looks healthy," says the boxer.

"Me dad’s looks absolutely amazing, I’m trying to trim him up for a half marathon, very healthy, looks very good actually. George Lockhart eat your heart out son!"

The undefeated heavyweight added the message "from Russia with love" to his 3.8 million Instagram followers, urging them to "eat healthy."

Fury, 31, recently opened up again on his battles with substance abuse and depression during the dark years after he defeated Klitschko in 2015, saying: "I was so unwell, the only thing I could think of was death and how I didn't want to be alive.

"Just over 2.2 years later, I’m loving life, am healthy as a trout and have reached the pinnacle of sport again.

"This shows you, no matter how bad things get, you must continue as things will get better."

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His remarkable comeback was capped with a demolition of 'Bronze Bomber' Wilder in Las Vegas in February, when he stopped the American in the seventh round. 

That avenged the pair's draw from December 2018, and a trilogy bout was slated for later this year after Wilder activated the mandatory rematch clause in his contract. 

However, there has been talk that the fight could be delayed until early next year, which promoter Frank Warren has said would irritate the Gypsy King, not least because he has a blockbuster two-fight deal in the bag to face fellow British world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua sometime next year. 

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August 11th 2020, 9:14 am

3 Russian diplomats leave Bratislava as Slovakian PM confirms expulsion


Three staff members of the Russian embassy in Bratislava and their families have left Slovakia, RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday. Slovakia’s PM Igor Matovic says that the decision to expel Russian diplomats has been made in connection with the murder of a Georgian national in Berlin, TASS reports.

“When a couple of days ago I was informed about the activities of some staff members of the Russian embassy [in Slovakia] and about confirmations of misuse of [Slovakian] visas in order to commit murder in Germany, I immediately without hesitation understood that such actions cannot remain without response,” he was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Slovakia’s Foreign Ministry said on August 10 that the authorities were expelling three staff members of the Russian Embassy in Bratislava over suspected espionage activity. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow would declare a tit-for-tat measure.

A Georgian national, 40, was killed in Tiergarten on August 23, 2019, and Berlin prosecutor’s office said the arrested suspect was a 49-year-old Russian citizen. The Russian authorities have repeatedly denied Russia’s involvement in the Berlin incident.

August 11th 2020, 8:58 am

Germany warns US against imposing sanctions on Nord Stream 2, says no country has right to ‘dictate’


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned the United States not to interfere with the completion of the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, stressing that Europe has the right to choose its own energy sources.

“Sanctions between partners are definitely the wrong way to go,” Maas said during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, adding that any attempt to prevent the pipeline from completion would be a violation of his country’s sovereignty. 

Ultimately, it remains our sovereign decision where we get our energy from. No country has the right to dictate Europe's energy policy with threats. That won't be successful.

On Monday, Maas said he expressed his “displeasure” to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after US lawmakers threatened “crushing legal and economic sanctions” against a German firm involved in the energy initiative. 

German media reported last month that the US Department of State, the Treasury Department and the Department of Energy warned European contractors about the potential consequences of participating in the pipeline’s construction.

Washington has been vocal about its fierce opposition to Nord Stream 2, which was temporarily halted last year after the US threatened vessels involved in the project with sanctions. 

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US President Donald Trump recently complained that Germany was being ungrateful by pursuing energy deals with Russia.

“Germany pays Russia billions of dollars a year for Energy, and we are supposed to protect Germany from Russia. What’s that all about?” the president tweeted. 

The $11 billion pipeline, owned by Russia’s Gazprom, will double the amount of Russian natural gas transported to Germany. Moscow has denounced Washington’s posturing as unfair competition and vowed to develop a new strategy to complete the pipeline if the US moves forward with sanctions.

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August 11th 2020, 8:45 am

‘Total falsification’: Russian ruling party MP attacks ‘insane with power’ Lukashenko over ‘shameful


The Belarusian election was entirely falsified, and it’s impossible to know how many votes President Alexander Lukashenko really got, according to a prominent Russian politician, who thinks Russia shouldn’t recognize the result.

Speaking to Russian news site Gazeta, State Duma deputy Konstantin Zatulin from the pro-Putin United Russia party said that the Belarusian presidential campaign was mired with “total falsification and misinformation.”

Incumbent long-term leader Lukashenko was reported to have won over 80 percent of the votes in the August 9 election. However, the fairness of the election process has been criticized both inside Belarus and around the world, with many being of the view that the most prominent opposition candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, vastly outperformed her official result of 10.09 percent. The response to the published results has been mass protests, with thousands of Belarusians taking to the streets in cities across the country.

Zatulin maintains that “insane with power” Lukashenko “obviously” didn’t receive as many votes as he claims, and says that determining the true number of votes cast is an impossibility.

“The published results are not credible,” he explained. “As someone already said, Lukashenko won the election but lost the country, and this is because of his extremely selfish policy, which prioritized preserving his regime of personal power.”

Zatulin, a member of the  ruling United Russia party, also noted that the international community would almost certainly side with the Belarusian protestors.

Speaking to another Russian publication, the Ukraine-focused website, he called the election campaign “shameful,” and said that Lukashenko had “simply lost his understanding of reality.” He recommended that Russia should not recognize the results, but stay silent instead, maintaining a “de facto” relationship with the country’s Western neighbor.

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August 11th 2020, 8:45 am

'Thanks for everything you've done': Opposition captain Zeca THANKS Solskjaer as Man Utd dump Copenh


Copenhagen's Greek captain Zeca couldn't contain his admiration for Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the immediate aftermath of Monday's Europa League matchup between the two sides in Germany.

United progressed to the semi-finals thanks to a single Bruno Fernandes penalty in extra time of their winner-takes-all quarter final after a closely fought affair in which the Danish side's Swedish goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson performed a series of heroic saves which had threatened to stymie the Red Devils' recent progression under Solksjaer.

However, upon the final whistle Zeca - the Danish team's captain and gritty defensive midfielde - couldn't restrain his admiration for the United boss, thanking him after the final whistle for overseeing the club's recent resurgence. 

"Thanks you very much for everything you're doing in Manchester," Zeca said to Solskjaer as the two locked hands.

"We're trying to get it back," the Norwegian coach responds. "He's helping. This boy is helping," Solskjaer adds, gesturing to United's Portuguese goalscorer Bruno Fernandes. 

"He's a little bit angry that I was going to take him off. He was giving you the ball all the time."

Speaking prior to the game, the 31-year-old Zeca - who is of Portuguese extraction - told the media that he grew up as fan of the Manchester club, and has been particularly impressed with the impact of Fernandes who joined United from Sporting Lisbon in January. 

"United have been my favourite team since I was little. My dream was to play at Old Trafford, so it's a bit of a shame that we play in Germany," he said. 

"I love Bruno Fernandes. He is really good, and one player cannot shut him down, so we must work well together as a team to succeed."

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For long spells of the game, it appeared as if he had succeeded. United had several gilt-edged chances throughout the 90 minutes, hitting the post on several occasions and also forcing an array of outstanding saves from Johnsson. They had chances to take the lead too, with Rasmus Falk particularly impressive but ex-Everton player Bryan Oviedo was guilty of missing two strong opportunities. 

But for Zeca, Copenhagen's elimination from Europe comes with a silver lining - he gets to see his boyhood club take part in their first European semi-final since Jose Mourinho took United to the Europa League crown in 2017. 

August 11th 2020, 8:13 am

Hidden ocean world on dwarf planet Ceres suggests potential for harboring life as mystery of bright


It’s long been believed that the dwarf planet Ceres is little more than a barren rock floating in space. However, a major exploration mission has found that a fascinating ocean world lies just beneath its surface.

Experts had been baffled by the bright spots that shimmer on the surface of our solar system’s largest asteroid, which sits between Mars and Jupiter. Because the giant space rock has its own gravity, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was able to capture high-resolution images of Ceres, by hovering about 35km (22 miles) above the surface.

The experts focused their observations on the 20-million-year-old Occator crater and determined that there is an “extensive reservoir” of salty seawater sloshing around in the dwarf planet’s interior.


With the help of infrared imaging, scientists confirmed the presence of hydrohalite. The compound is common in sea ice but had never previously been observed outside of Earth. 

An analysis of data collected near the end of the Dawn mission concluded that the salty water came from a deep reservoir within the dwarf planet. Through studying Ceres’ gravity, the scientists were able to determine that the reservoir is about 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) deep and hundreds of kilometers wide.

The researchers say this is a tell-tale sign that the asteroid used to have seawater. “We can now say that Ceres is a sort of ocean world, as are some of Saturn’s and Jupiter’s moons,” Maria Cristina De Sanctis, a researcher from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy told AFP.

Bright pits and mounds were formed by salty liquid released as Occator's water-rich floor froze. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/USRA/LPI

The study, published in Nature Astronomy this week, reveals that the salt deposits likely accumulated in the last two million years, a mere drop in the ocean in space time terms.

This finding suggests that the salt water may still be rising up from the planet’s interior. “The material found on Ceres is extremely important in terms of astrobiology,” De Sanctis said. “We know that these minerals are all essential for the emergence of life.”

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August 11th 2020, 8:13 am

Hong Kong’s exports to US will be labeled as goods from China


Washington has ordered that goods imported from Hong Kong to the US must be labeled ‘Made in China,’ with political and trade tensions rising between the world’s two biggest economies.

In a notice published on a government website on Tuesday, US Customs and Border Protection said that products made in Hong Kong and shipped to the United States must be properly marked to “indicate that their origin is ‘China.’” The rule will be applied to goods “entered or withdrawn from warehouse” after September 25.

Imports that do not have the required label after that date will be subjected to an additional 10 percent duty. 

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The ruling comes as Hong Kong is no longer treated by the US as autonomous from mainland China after Beijing passed its national security legislation. After the law took effect, US President Donald Trump stripped the former British colony of its special status, meaning that Hong Kong lost its privileged position in doing business with the US.

The measure means that Hong Kong exporters will be targeted with the same duties levied on mainland Chinese exporters amid the US-China trade row.

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With phase two of the trade deal still in limbo, around $550 billion worth of Chinese goods are currently under US trade tariffs. However, the addition of products made in Hong Kong would not significantly increase the figure, as the region mainly serves to re-export goods and there are few direct exports from Hong Kong to the US. According to the US government census, Hong Kong exports to the US totaled around $6 billion in the first half of 2020, while for the whole 2019 the figure stood at $4.7 billion.

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

August 11th 2020, 7:43 am

Quad-jumping prodigy Alexandra Trusova to take up role of Juliet in first program since controversia


Russian figure skating’s rising star Alexandra Trusova will interpret the world-famous love story of Romeo and Juliet in the new free program created by her new coaching team under the guidance of Evgeni Plushenko.

The two-time Olympic champion – who promised to improve Trusova’s choreography, which has been the skater’s weak point – shared a short video from a training session, revealing the newly staged Shakespeare-themed routine.

READ MORE: Alena Kostornaia starts training at Plushenko’s academy following split with famed coach Tutberidze (VIDEO)

4Lutz-3Toe loop from the free program ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Alexandra,” Plushenko wrote. “First part ‘Kissing You’ by Craig Armstrong, second part ‘[Come,] Gentle Night’ by Abel Korzeniowski, third part “Montagues and Capulets” by Richard Clayderman.”

The first skater in history to land a quad at an international event, Trusova has been constantly criticized for her lack of artistry and noticeable focus on jumping elements.

Plushenko started working with Trusova in May and has said he will try to raise the level of her choreography while also focusing on polishing her impressive quad-jumping skills.

The European bronze medalist sensationally parted ways with her famed coach, Eteri Tutberidze, switching to Plushenko, explaining that she wanted to train under the specialist, who himself solidly landed multiple quadruple jumps during his career.

In July, another of Tutberidze’s skaters, Alena Kostornaia, who won all her major events last season, followed in Trusova’s footsteps and joined her at Plushenko’s figure skating academy.

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August 11th 2020, 7:31 am

‘Extremely worrying situation’: Greece seeks emergency EU meeting on Turkey


Greece wants the EU to hold an emergency foreign ministers’ meeting, the prime minister’s office said Tuesday. The statement comes amid a row with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.

Tensions were stoked Monday when Ankara sent the research ship Oruc Reis off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, where Turkey disputes Greek maritime rights, AFP said.

The situation is “extremely worrying and needs to be solved in a dialogue,” a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

Last week, Greece and Egypt signed an agreement to set up an exclusive economic zone in the region. Greece, Cyprus and Israel in January signed an agreement for a huge pipeline project to transport gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe despite Turkey’s hostility to the deal. Ankara and the UN-recognized government in Libya a security agreement last year.

August 11th 2020, 7:13 am

'Four of our team will be fighting': Khabib says UFC 254 comeback will be family affair


A little over a month since the passing of his father and trainer Abdulmanap, Khabib Nurmagomedov says that his UFC comeback card against Justin Gaethje will also feature his cousins Abubakar and Umar and teammate Islam Makhachev.

READ MORE: 'Different from all other preparation': Khabib talks of 'hard' training ahead of Gaethje clash & first fight since father's death

Khabib will make the third defence of his UFC lightweight title against top contender Gaethje later this year and ahead of what will likely be a very emotional encounter for the undefeated fighter, he says that several of his family and teammates will be on hand to support him - in and out of the cage.

Writing on Instagram, Khabib said that his cousins Abubakar and Umar will also be competing on the card - as will his training partner Islam Makhachev, who is currently in the midst of a six-fight winning streak in the UFC lightweight division. 

"The three of us will be back on the same day at #ufc254," Khabib wrote, via translation.

"@abubakar_nurmagomedov @islam_makhachev. Plus there will be @umar_nurmagomedov. In short there will be four fighters from our team."

UFC 254 is set to take place on October 24 at a location yet to be determined, though it is likely to be at the UFC's 'Fight Island' in Abu Dhabi. Failing that, the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas would be favorite to host the event amid the ongoing restrictions on fans attending sporting events.

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The event will take place more than 13 months since Nurmagomedov last defended his 155lbs championship with a third-round submission win against Dustin Poirier in September of last year. The Russian's first title defence came against Conor McGregor in October 2018. 

Abubakar Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, will be looking for his first UFC win after being beaten in his debut by David Zawada in Moscow last November. If booked, the event will mark Umar Nurmagomedov's debut with the organization. 

August 11th 2020, 7:13 am

Digitalization provides opportunity for 'non-violent revolution, a revolution of the mind,' entrepre


In a new episode of Keiser Report's annual Summer Solutions series, Max and Stacy discuss the problem of institutional racism and how to exit the predatory system.

They are joined by entrepreneur Obi Nwosu, who argues that artificial intelligence and virtual reality may actually enable the meritocratic future many claim they want to see.

"I think this is where things are about to change, and in a way which people don't really understand," Nwosu says, adding: "Now, the highest-value things we could do in society, are the things that are completely digital in nature.

If we look at the world's wealthiest, most of them are from the finance and technology industries, the entrepreneur says. "And these are industries where all you need are your mind and access to a computer and the internet."

According to him, "we are going to see this explosion of competition where everybody out of the most privilege benefits… Now we have the opportunity for non-violent revolution, a revolution of the mind."

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

August 11th 2020, 7:13 am

Scientists discover new kind of powerful, BOOMERANG earthquake which generates underground ‘sonic bo


For the first time in history, scientists have confirmed the existence of mysterious and extremely powerful ‘boomerang’ earthquakes, throwing open the possibility of even more devastating types of seismic events.

Researchers led by Stephen Hicks, an earthquake seismologist at the Imperial College London, studied data from 39 seismometers placed near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to monitor seismic activity and finally found evidence of the oft-theorized but never witnessed boomerang quake, aka “back-propagating rupture.”

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck along a crack in the seafloor 650 miles off the coast of Liberia in August 2016, powerful but somewhat unremarkable, until the seismic data showed a major anomaly had just occurred. 

“Even though the fault structure seems simple, the way the earthquake grew was not, and this was completely opposite to how we expected the earthquake to look before we started to analyze the data,” Hicks said. 

The deep sea temblor started deep underground, rushing eastward towards the Mid-Atlantic Ridge before turning back on itself and rising up through the upper section of the fault at supershear speeds at roughly 11,000 miles per hour, fast enough to make it from New York to London in under 20 minutes.

The deep sea quake traveled so fast, it created the geological equivalent of a sonic boom in the process.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time it has been reported,” said geophysicist Yoshihiro Kaneko of GNS Science in New Zealand.

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Mystery remains as to how frequent such boomerang quakes are and how many travel fast enough to create these underground “sonic booms.” Some in the scientific community have even begun to speculate that the magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake that struck Japan in 2011 with devastating consequences may also have featured some of this boomerang rupture effect.  

“This might be actually more common than we think,” Kaneko added.

Properly understanding the surprisingly complex nature of these earthquakes will help us produce better models and more accurately predict where and how temblors might strike in the future, improving early warning systems and perhaps construction methods in high-risk areas. 

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August 11th 2020, 7:00 am

'Sun's out, buns out': MMA pin-up VanZant makes a splash in bikini pool jump as she plots next move


Paige VanZant suggested she would test the waters of free agency after her UFC contract ended and the MMA pin-up appears to be doing literally that, posting footage of herself jumping into a pool as she plans her next move.

'12 Gauge' completed the last fight of her contract with the UFC when she faced Brazil's Amanda Ribas at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi in July, losing via first-round submission. 

She's since been plotting her next steps, making the move to the fabled American Top Team (ATT) gym in Coconut Creek, Florida, which is home to the likes of women's stars Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Amanda Nunes, and rising Bellator contender Valerie Loureda. 

Aside from continuing her training regime VanZant is clearly enjoying soaking up the Florida sunshine, sharing a slow-motion video with her 2.6 million Instagram followers of herself doing a toe-touch jump into a pool while wearing a pink bikini. 

"Suns out, buns out," VanZant captioned the video, which earned rave reviews from Invicta FC fighter Pearl Gonzalez as well as fans. 

"Hottest in the UFC," gushed one reply, while another read: "How do you say 'Thank you so much for this video' in every single language known to man?"

Social media sensation VanZant, 26, openly mused before her final UFC contest that she would pursue various options as a free agent, admitting that she made more money through her endeavors outside the octagon – including appearing on TV show 'Dancing with Stars' and as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model – than she had in her all bouts combined.

VanZant said after her defeat to Ribas – which was her first fight in more than a year due to injury problems – that her future was "up in the air", but expressed disappointment that UFC boss Dana White had not been in touch.

"It’s unfortunate because I feel like I have a really good relationship with Dana," she said. 

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"I feel like I thought we were closer friends and he could text me or call me. Something to have a little bit of compassion, something to communicate with me personally but maybe he will. We just don’t know. I’m sure it’s an uncomfortable situation.

"Dana’s comments, what I’m hearing you say, he wants me to test free agency then hopefully they just let me go then. If that’s how they feel, then they’ll just let me be free."

The boss of rival promotion Bellator MMA, Scott Coker, has suggested he could make a move for the out-of-contract flyweight star, which might be made easier by the fact that VanZant's husband Austin Vanderford fights with the promotion.

There have even been rumors that a move to bareknuckle boxing could be on the cards for the Oregon-born fighter.

For now though, VanZant seems happy enough simply soaking up the Florida sunshine. 

August 11th 2020, 7:00 am

‘Not a single life is worth what’s happening now’: Opposition leader Tikhanovskaya says she left Bel


Svetlana Tikhanovskaya says it was her own decision to leave Belarus for Lithuania, supporting the claim by the Belarusian authorities that she departed from the country voluntarily.

In a video message, she said the decision had been “very hard” for her, but she hadn’t been pressured into making the choice.

“I made this decision absolutely on my own. No one – not friends, not family, not the campaign HQ [influenced me],” she said, adding that she would probably face criticism and “hate” for leaving Belarus for Lithuania. She said she thought the election had made her stronger, but still felt like a “weak woman.”

May God keep you from ever having to be faced with the decision that I was faced with. So, people, please take care of yourselves. Not a single life is worth what is happening now … Children are the most important thing that we have in our lives.

In another video, the opposition leader called on her supporters to “be reasonable and respect the law,” so as to avoid “blood and violence.”

I am asking you not to oppose the police, not to go out on to the squares so as not to risk your lives. Take care of yourselves and your relatives.

Her campaign staff initially claimed that she had been forced to leave by the Belarusian authorities. “She was taken out of the country by the authorities. Svetlana had no choice. Five minutes before the visit, we discussed our future plans and she was certainly not intending to leave the country,” a campaign member said. Belarus denied that Tikhanovskaya was forced out.

Lithuania’s foreign minister announced on Tuesday morning that Tikhanovskaya had arrived in the Baltic nation and was “safe,” and Belarusian border officials confirmed she had departed from their country. 

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The opposition candidate had called for the country’s election to be voided, after disputing the results, which had declared incumbent Alexander Lukashenko the victor, with nearly 80 percent of the vote. The protests that erupted in the aftermath of the election have reportedly led to one confirmed death as well as 3,000 arrests so far. 

Concerns about Tikhanovskaya’s safety emerged after the Belarusian security services claimed they had intercepted a threat against her life. However, representatives of her campaign denied they had sought protection from the police.

Lukashenko has blamed the Czech Republic, Great Britain, and Poland for fueling the unrest in Minsk and other cities. Prague and Warsaw have denied the accusation.

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August 11th 2020, 6:42 am

Bomb squad called in as ‘unexploded device’ found at Norfolk beach car park


Norfolk police have established a security cordon around a beach car park and advised the public to avoid the area after a suspected "unexploded device" was discovered.

Police received a tip off at approximately 9am local time on Tuesday morning after a suspect device was discovered near the Horsey Gap area. The bomb squad have been called in and the area sealed off as a precaution.

More as it happens

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August 11th 2020, 6:30 am

Turkey will license new E. Mediterranean areas this month – FM


Ankara will issue seismic exploration and drilling licenses in new areas of the eastern Mediterranean by the end of August, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

NATO allies Turkey and Greece are at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean. On Monday, Turkey sent a vessel to conduct a seismic survey in a disputed area in the region, Reuters reported, and Greece said the move was illegal.

Cavusoglu said Turkey would issue new licenses for operations near the western borders of its continental shelf and continue “all sorts of seismic and drilling operations” in the area.

August 11th 2020, 6:30 am

‘We can’t protect every job’: UK finance minister defends worst unemployment figures since 2009 rece


UK finance minister Rishi Sunak has claimed that he never promised that he would be able to safeguard every job in the country, after the nation posted the largest quarterly drop in employment in more than ten years.

Sunak downplayed the UK’s latest jobs data, which showed employment decreased by 220,000 from April to July. The country hasn’t seen such a grim figure since 2009. 

“I've always been clear that we can't protect every job, but ... we have a clear plan to protect, support and create jobs to ensure that nobody is left without hope,” the finance minister said. 

The number of workers on company payrolls have plunged by 730,000 since the UK shuttered “non-essential” businesses and imposed other measures purportedly designed to stop the spread of Covid-19. With many of the restrictions still in place, and “local” lockdowns enforced in some parts of the country, there are growing fears that the unemployment crisis will only worsen. 

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Sunak, however, has resisted calls to extend Britain’s furlough scheme, which is designed to provide relief to workers affected by the lockdown. 

“It’s wrong to keep people trapped in a situation and pretend that there is always a job that they can go back to,” he said last week. 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is set to expire at the end of October.

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August 11th 2020, 6:13 am

Gaza crossing closed after Palestinians send incendiary balloons into Israel


On Tuesday, Israel closed one of its main border crossings with the Gaza Strip. The decision was made after Palestinians launched incendiary balloons that set fire to areas on the Israeli frontier, Reuters reports.

More than 30 fires were set around border communities by balloons carrying incendiary devices launched from Hamas-run Gaza, Israeli media said.

“The Kerem Shalom Crossing will be closed for the passage of all goods, with the exception of the entry of essential humanitarian equipment and fuel,” according to Israel’s Defense Ministry. Kerem Shalom is one of three main Gaza border crossings with Israel and Egypt, and it is where most goods pass through daily.

Palestinian officials say the closure will particularly affect the delivery of construction materials.

August 11th 2020, 6:00 am

No more monkey business: Liverpool sever relationship with coconut milk sponsor after allegations of


Premier League champions Liverpool have ended sponsorship ties with coconut milk producer Chaokoh after animal cruelty allegations emerged which suggest that they use monkey slave labor to harvest the fruit.

The club's partnership with the Thai-based business ended in July and Liverpool opted to not continue the partnership, which comes amid a campaign by Carrie Symonds - the partner of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson - which had accused Chaokoh of unfair treatment of animals. 

Animal rights watchdog PETA conducted an investigation in Thailand which they say proved that Chaokoh were mistreating monkeys, visiting eight farms and noting evidence that monkeys were being forced to pick coconuts which would then be exported across the world. The group also said that the the monkeys they observed were displaying behavior indicative of being under extreme stress.

They also claimed that the animals were confined in cramped conditions and chained to car tyres to prevent them from escaping, and were tortured by removing teeth if they became unruly. 

"These curious, highly intelligent animals are denied psychological stimulation, companionship, freedom, and everything else that would make their lives worth living, all so that they can be used to gather coconuts," PETA Senior Corporate Liaison Dr Carys Bennett said.

"PETA thanks Liverpool FC for its decision to end its association with Chaokoh and calls on the Thai government to take meaningful steps towards ending the vile practice of using monkeys to harvest coconuts."

However, Liverpool have denied that the decision to not renew their sponsorship deal was based upon the report by PETA, while Chaokoh strenuously denied the allegations against them via a social media post.

"In light of the disturbing reports in the news, we'd like to make it clear that both we and our associated parties do not support the use of monkey labour in the harvesting of coconuts," they said.

"As a family business that has exported coconut products for more than 40 years, we are so grateful that so many of you care as deeply about this issue as we do."

August 11th 2020, 6:00 am

Covid-19 pandemic numbers stabilizing around the world at last – AFP tally


As the world surpasses 20 million Covid-19 cases, the latest tally figures suggest that the pandemic is stabilizing. It comes as Russia hit a major milestone in the global battle against the virus by approving the first vaccine.

An AFP tally of official sources found that while the world has shot past the 20 million milestone for infections, with some 733,842 Covid-19-related deaths, the spread of the pandemic appears to be holding.

Four in 10 cases recorded are in either Brazil (3,057,470 infections and 101,752 deaths) or the US (5,075,678 cases and 163,282 deaths), with roughly one million new cases recorded every four days since mid-July. 

Meanwhile, in more good news, Russia’s Health Ministry has given official approval for the world’s first official coronavirus vaccine.

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It took 94 days for Covid-19 to reach its first million cases since the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China. Some 86 days after that, the world had recorded 10 million cases and that number has doubled in the past 44 days.  

Latin America and the Caribbean recorded more than 575,000 cases in the past week for a total of 5,601,470 cases and 221,281 deaths, making it the hardest-hit area in the world, ahead of the US and Canada (5,195,417 cases and 172,300 deaths) and Asia (3,493,026 cases, 72,486 deaths) in third place. 

Africa (1,057,730 infections, 23,582 deaths) and Oceania (23,351 cases, 346 deaths) are the least-affected regions.

However, the total number of cases reported depends entirely on the extent of testing within a region, so the true number of cases and therefore the regional rankings are subject to major changes.

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August 11th 2020, 5:30 am
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