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Navy commando accused of war crimes faces expulsion from SEALs after Trump restored rank

RT

The military has launched proceedings to expel commando Edward Gallagher from the Navy SEALs – who faced court-martial for war crimes earlier this year – even after President Trump restored his rank in a recent clemency order.

A review hearing scheduled for early December will determine whether Gallagher will continue to be a SEAL, Navy Captain Tamara Lawrence told Reuters. The commando’s own lawyer also confirmed he had been served with a notice informing him of the upcoming hearing.

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Navy SEAL accused of killing captured ISIS teen & posing with body cleared of most charges

While Gallagher was indicted for stabbing a wounded enemy prisoner and shooting civilians during his combat tour in Iraq in 2017, he was cleared on six of seven charges when his court-martial concluded in July – only found guilty of posing for a photo with a corpse. Avoiding any additional jail time after already serving nine months while on trial, his judge decided only to demote him to the rank of Petty Officer First Class.

However, last week, President Trump reversed that move, restoring Gallagher’s previous rank and granting pardons for two Army officers similarly implicated in war crimes, which came after months of vocal support for Gallagher in particular. In August, the president even urged the Navy to strip Gallagher’s military prosecutors of their medals, arguing they performed poorly on his case.

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Make Americans exceptional again? Trump trumps Pentagon, pardons 2 soldiers charged with war crimes

Three of Gallagher’s commanding officers also face individual review hearings to determine whether they will be removed from the SEALs, Lawrence added.

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November 20th 2019, 10:50 pm

‘Surveillance giants’ Facebook & Google ‘threaten human rights’ with data-grabbing – Amnesty

RT

Tech titans Google and Facebook employ “surveillance-based business models” that threaten human rights and erode privacy worldwide, Amnesty International said in a new report, calling for an end to the data-grabs.

Published on Wednesday, Amnesty’s “Surveillance Giants” report outlines how Facebook and Google, and their many affiliated platforms, operate in ways that are simply incompatible with the right to privacy and pose a “systemic threat” to free expression on the internet.

“Despite the real value of the services they provide, Google and Facebook’s platforms come at a systemic cost,” the report says.

The companies’ surveillance-based business model forces people to make a Faustian bargain, whereby they are only able to enjoy their human rights online by submitting to a system predicated on human rights abuse.

While other large technology companies have also obtained significant power in other areas of the internet landscape, Amnesty singled out Facebook and Google for their increasing dominance over the “new global public square,” controlling the main channels that netizens around the world use to communicate, transact and “realize their rights online.”

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“Google and Facebook dominate our modern lives – amassing unparalleled power over the digital world by harvesting and monetizing the personal data of billions of people,” said Amnesty’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo in a press release.

Either we must submit to this pervasive surveillance machinery – where our data is easily weaponized to manipulate and influence us – or forego the benefits of the digital world.

Going forward, Naidoo called for a “radical overhaul of the way Big Tech operates,” and to create an internet that puts human rights front and center.

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Google sucks up & analyzes healthcare data on millions of Americans in secret AI project… after voluntary opt-in flops

Amnesty’s report has only confirmed what has long been a poorly guarded secret, as both tech giants have been caught red-handed countless times .

Last week, a report in the Wall Street Journal revealed that Google partnered with healthcare provider Ascension to secretly collect and store medical records on millions of patients across 21 states – all after the company failed to convince customers to hand over their medical data voluntarily through its Google Health venture, which folded in 2011 for lack of participation.

In addition to an inability to keep stored data safe from hacks and breaches, Facebook has also come under fire for the way it shares data with other companies, coming under investigation earlier this year for over 150 potentially illegal partnerships that allowed other tech firms to access information on Facebook users, even when they disabled all data sharing on their account.

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November 20th 2019, 9:04 pm

Mission update: NATO’s new enemy is ‘Chinese Communist Party,’ Pompeo tells Alliance

RT

With the US establishment’s attention firmly fixed on the impeachment hearings in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seems to have expanded NATO’s mission into the Far East, to oppose the Communist Party of China.

Speaking at the meeting of NATO ministers of foreign affairs in Brussels on Wednesday, Pompeo said that “our alliance must address the current and potential long-term threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” adding that NATO countries cannot ignore the “fundamental differences and beliefs” between themselves and the ruling party in Beijing.

The US Secretary of State framed the anti-China pivot in the context of what he described as NATO’s victory in the Cold War for “the cause of freedom and democracy.”

Thirty years later, we again face threats from authoritarian regimes, and again we must face them together. Russia, China, Iran – their value systems are simply very different from ours.

Reporters in Brussels were far more interested in impeachment-related gossip, and none of them asked about China. Pompeo himself brought Beijing up again, when asked about the French and German proposals for reforming NATO, saying that the “critical alliance” has to be structured properly for its ever-changing objectives, and noting that the “threat from the Chinese Communist Party” was not something NATO was thinking about at its founding in 1949.

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We are experiencing brain death of NATO, Macron warns Europe

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron argued that NATO was “brain dead” and questioned the US commitment to defend its European allies. Instead, the French president urged, the EU should work on developing its own “military sovereignty.”

The alliance has also struggled to deal with Turkey, which has NATO’s second-largest military, but has been using it to pursue its own policies and interests that sometimes clash with that of the US – such as the recent incursion into northern Syria, aimed at the US-allied Kurdish militias there.

NATO has repeatedly redefined its mission since the end of the Cold War in 1989, finding new reasons for its continued existence, from “humanitarian interventions” in the Balkans to counter-terrorism in the wake of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the US. It has also continued to expand, with the tiny Balkans republic of Montenegro becoming the latest member in 2017, and nearby North Macedonia scheduled for admission soon.

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November 20th 2019, 8:01 pm

‘Military mutiny key factor in Bolivia’s coup & main reason Venezuela’s Guaido can’t oust Maduro’

RT

The ouster of Bolivian President Evo Morales was only possible with the support of the country’s military, and Venezuela’s opposition is unlikely to effect its own putsch plot while the army has Caracas’s back, an analyst told RT.

After another lackluster attempt to launch mass demonstrations to depose Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro on Saturday, opposition figurehead Juan Guaido may be wondering how his counterparts in Bolivia obtained their coup with such speed. But Lucas Koerner, independent political analyst and editor of Venezuelanalysis.com, says it’s all about the guns.

“The key factor are the armed forces,” Koerner told RT’s Rick Sanchez. “In Venezuela, the military has stayed on the side of the constitutionally elected president, where in Bolivia they opted to overthrow the likewise democratically elected President Evo Morales, who had just won an election with 47 percent of the vote.”

On April 30, we recall that [Guaido] did attempt a military putsch to oust Maduro, but only a very small section of the armed forces, maybe a few dozen soldiers, participated.

Guaido’s failure to win the support of the security services is not exactly surprising. A survey conducted last year by Caracas-based polling firm Delphos found that a whopping 97 percent of Venezuelans had never even heard of the US-backed opposition leader, let alone supported him to lead a military junta to depose the elected president. Even within the Venezuelan opposition, Guaido’s faction has made enemies in other ways as well.

“This goes back to last year, when the opposition had a presidential candidate, Henri Falcon, who was the highest polling opposition figure at that time, and had the opposition united behind him they could have defeated Maduro,” Koerner said.

But instead, Guaido’s faction – this kind of hardline, extremist faction [whose] main constituency is in Miami and Washington – they opted to boycott, because they didn’t want to play politics.

In choosing to allow Maduro to run uncontested, Koerner suggested the opposition threw away its one chance to remove the socialist leader from office by democratic means.

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Opposition senator declares herself ‘interim president’ of Bolivia without quorum or vote

Guaido declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January and received instant endorsement from Washington and its Latin American allies in the Organization for American States (OAS). But unlike Bolivia’s opposition movement, which unseated President Morales after just a few weeks of protest with support from the military, similar efforts against Maduro have so far been unsuccessful.

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November 20th 2019, 7:01 pm

I did not hear a quid pro quo, I read it in Politico? Impeachment hearing chases its tail as Sondlan

RT

The impeachment hearings descended into the twilight zone as US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland first asserted there was "quid pro quo" with Ukraine – to the glee of Democrats and media – then denied any knowledge of it.

Sondland unequivocally confirmed the existence of a quid pro quo during his opening statement before the impeachment committee on Wednesday, announcing that President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani told several administration officials – and some unspecified Ukrainians – “that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committing to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election” as a condition for meeting with the newly elected Ukrainian leader.

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The ambassador quickly abandoned his certainty under questioning, and his bold claims that “everyone was in the loop” about Trump’s conditions for releasing the aid soon gave way to weasel words.

In the absence of any credible explanation for the hold, I came to the conclusion that the aid, like the White House visit, was jeopardized,” he said.

Sondland subsequently denied several times that Giuliani had told him the administration planned to withhold military aid until Ukraine opened a corruption probe, as members of the impeachment committee kept finding new ways to ask the question whether Trump was, perhaps, the vehicle for the elusive quid pro quo?

Did the president ever tell you personally about any preconditions – for anything?” Republican counsel Steve Castor queried. When Sondland answered in the negative, Castor phrased the question two other ways before he was satisfied with the diplomat’s “no.”

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Impeachment hearing gets more bizarre with Sondland confirming ‘Zelensky loves Trump’s ass’ , but vague on quid pro quo

Democratic counsel Daniel Goldman pushed even harder to get Sondland to admit that Giuliani or Trump – rather than Sondland’s “2+2=4”-like deduction – had alerted the ambassador to the looming quid pro quo.

I did not hear from President Trump that the aid would be held up until the statement [committing Ukraine to probes of Burisma and election interference] was made,” Sondland shot back. “I did not hear those words.

The diplomat clarified that when swirling rumors about the frozen military aid finally pushed him to call the president, Trump clearly stated he wanted “nothing – no quid pro quo” from Ukraine. “Tell Zelensky to do the right thing,” was all he said.

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Even when Sondland did discuss Ukraine opening a corruption probe, the talk was limited to the gas company Burisma, he said – there was no mention of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son Hunter, who served on Burisma's board. Indeed, Sondland wasn’t sure he knew Biden was on the board at all, before reading the transcript of the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call that was released in September and kicked off the whole investigation.

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Democrats and media outlets sympathetic to them have pushed a quid pro quo narrative of Trump muscling Zelensky into reopening an investigation of Burisma by withholding military aid, with the intention of using information the probe digs up to harm Biden’s 2020 campaign. But Sondland admitted he had no clue as to how Ukraine even learned the military aid had been withheld – it could have been a Politico article that alerted most diplomatic staff to the existence of the alleged quid pro quo, he said – and with no knowledge that the aid was missing, no pressure could have been exerted.

Ukraine did receive every penny of the aid designated by Congress, before the statutory deadline. Its officials, from Zelensky on down, have sworn they were never pressured into anything by Trump or his aides, and never issued a public statement about the investigation into the Bidens that Trump allegedly wanted.

Outside the hearing, however, intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff (D-California) refused to let the absence of evidence for the holy grail of quid pro quo get him down. Sondland’s testimony “underscores just how significant the president’s obstruction of this investigation has been,” he told an impromptu press conference he called a break to arrange.

Ranking member Devin Nunes (R-California), on the other hand, had nothing but scorn for “Watergate fantasies" of the Democrats. Slamming the committee for refusing to bring in Hunter Biden to testify, or even ask Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman about Ukrainian election interference earlier this week, he lashed out at their goalpost-moving behavior and compared it to 'Russiagate.'

Nunes also pointed out that Congress requires a country to be certified free of corruption before the president can release foreign aid to it – a slight technicality that has the potential to tank the whole narrative.

The media fell for Schiff’s narrative hook, line, and sinker, praising Sondland’s “bombshell” testimony for landing a body blow against the president. Even the AP initially claimed Trump’s reenactment of the call with Sondland in which he said “I want nothing” from Ukraine labeled “contradicting the testimony of his own ambassador.”

To their credit, they later deleted the tweet – but not before it was screenshotted for posterity.

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November 20th 2019, 5:48 pm

Trumps says US mulling tariff exemptions for Apple in China trade war

RT

US President Donald Trump said that his administration was considering whether to exempt Apple from tariffs imposed on China in an ongoing trade spat.

“We are looking at Apple,” the president told reporters during a tour of the company’s Austin, Texas plant, referring to the exemptions, but added that he hoped Apple would produce more in the United States.

“Someday we're going to see Apple building plants in our country, not in China,” he said.

China is crucial for Apple, representing one of its largest consumer markets, and the company also has several production facilities there.  

In September, Apple already received some tariff exemption as the trade war started hurting the company, but at the time five of its requests were not approved.

President Trump also said on Wednesday that no deal had been struck with China to resolve the trade row, arguing that Beijing was not “stepping up to the level I want.”

Tim Cook promised to contribute $350 billion to the U.S. economy between 2018 and 2023 and leave the production of Mac Books in Austin.

November 20th 2019, 5:48 pm

US ‘shot itself in the foot’ by sanctioning us, Putin says amid reports that Russia has become ‘bull

RT

The Kremlin may have felt ‘some anxiety’ when the US started sanctioning Russia, but in the end that only made its economy stronger. Investors seem to agree, with Russian bonds now deemed more appealing than those of China and US.

Restrictions that the US and its allies have been imposing on Moscow since Crimea reunited with Russia and the Ukrainian conflict broke out in 2014, “have forced us to develop import substitution” in key areas like agriculture, pharmacy, defense and others, President Vladimir Putin said at the ‘Russia Calling’ investment forum in Moscow on Wednesday. This allowed Russia to make “a serious, huge step forward in boosting its economic and technological sovereignty.”

The sanctions war had its downside, of course, with “losses of billions of dollars” in bilateral trade, the president said. However, the restrictions introduced against Russia had a “boomerang effect,” as hundreds of US companies were barred from profitable
projects in Russia or lost the money already invested into the country due to the decisions made in Washington, he pointed out.

“Whom did they [the Americans] punish? They punished themselves. They shot themselves in the foot. That’s it.”

It looks like international investors might agree with his words. A recent report in Forbes magazine says that Russian bonds have become “a must-have” despite all the sanctions against the country.

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“Sorry, haters, Putin’s securities market is better than Xi’s, better than Trump’s,” declared the outlet, going against the anti-Russian sentiments currently prevalent in the US.

Russia’s 2027 dollar-bond pays 4.25 percent interest, far surpassing the US Treasury’s ten-year bond, which yields only 1.8 percent, Forbes noted. Meanwhile, the interests rates in Europe are currently “ridiculously low,” with EU’s top economy, Germany, issuing a bond that yields a negative return at -0.35 percent.

Investor confidence in Russia is boosted by a whole range of factors, including the country’s lack of foreign debt, significant Central Bank reserves ($433 billion in foreign currency and $107.9 million in gold), stability of the ruble, new laws protecting bond-holders, and reforms in the banking sector, among others.

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Sanctions? Russia has the best-peforming stock market in the world

“They’ve made themselves bulletproof,” said James Barrineau from the New York-based Schroders Investment, who was quoted by Forbes as an expert. Though the forecasts see the Russian economy growing at a modest two percent over the next year, the country’s bonds are super attractive to investors both in EU and US if they’re really looking to benefit from holding debt, according to the magazine.

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November 20th 2019, 5:48 pm

The law is thrown out of the window in Assange’s case, Roger Waters tells RT (VIDEO)

RT

Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters has condemned Swedish prosecutors who yesterday dropped a rape investigation into WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, saying the whole thing was “a complete bogus set-up” from the beginning.

Rogers told RT that the statement from Swedish prosecutors claiming that the evidence against Assange had “weakened” since 2010 was a “mealy-mouthed bunch of bullsh*t” and that there was “no evidence to support the idea that [Assange] injured anybody.”

It’s partly because of this whole “set-up” that Assange is still suffering in London’s Belmarsh Prison with no real process of law being followed, Waters said. “Assange is being slowly murdered by the state because he told uncomfortable truths about US war crimes,” he added.

The law is being thrown out the window at the behest of the growing mono-empire that is the USA — and it is so wrong.

 The British rock ‘n’ roll legend said that Assange’s continued detainment behind bars was “purely political” and that there is no question that he is a political prisoner who is being used as a “warning” to others who might be inclined to do real journalism.

In any sane universe, Julian Assange would be lauded as a hero of the people.

Waters also took aim at mainstream media, where he said it is now nearly impossible to find a truthful narrative of events. “To find the truth these days is extremely difficult,” he said.

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Assange rape case dropped: Sweden abandons probe that led to WikiLeaks co-founder’s asylum in UK’s Ecuadorian embassy

Assange is currently languishing in Belmarsh awaiting a hearing on extradition to the US, where he could face 175 years in prison for publishing leaked military documents and exposing war crimes. A London court ruled against the whistleblower in October after his lawyers sought to have the extradition hearing delayed.

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November 20th 2019, 4:18 pm

‘Stop the massacre’: Ousted Morales calls for UN to intervene in Bolivia

RT

Ousted Bolivian President Evo Morales has called for the UN to denounce and “stop this massacre” of indigenous Bolivians by the “dictatorship” currently in charge, saying that 30 people have already been killed.

Tweeting from Mexico, where he was given political asylum after being forced to resign by the Bolivian military on November 10, Morales described the current authorities as the “dictatorship of Áñez, Camacho and Mesa,” referring to the self-proclaimed “interim president” and opposition leaders who lost the election to him last month.

“I call on the IACHR and the UN to denounce and stop this massacre of indigenous brothers who ask for peace, democracy and respect for life on the streets,” Morales added, referring to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a body of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The OAS, however, backed the ouster of Morales by questioning the legitimacy of the vote counts in the October election, which showed him over 10 percent ahead of the challengers. 

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‘He died in my hands’: 3 pro-Morales demonstrators killed in clashes with Bolivia’s police & soldiers near barricaded fuel plant

There have been multiple reports of indigenous Bolivians – who took to the streets to protest the ouster of Morales, calling it a coup – being fired upon by the police and the military loyal to opposition Senator Jeanine Añez, who declared herself the “interim president” of Bolivia last week. The exact number killed and injured is difficult to ascertain, however. 

Human rights groups and international organizations previously so concerned about “democracy” in Bolivia suddenly went silent the moment Morales resigned. On Wednesday, Añez said she would call for a new general election soon.

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November 20th 2019, 3:02 pm

Prince Andrew QUITS public duties after car crash Epstein interview

RT

The Duke of York has been granted permission by the Queen to “step back from public duties” to deal with the media fallout over his past relationship with the late sex predator Jeffrey Epstein.

In a public statement on Wednesday, Prince Andrew said it had “become clear” to him that his association with Epstein has become a “major disruption” to his family's work and that he needed to step away from public duties “for the foreseeable future.”

The statement comes after Prince Andrew sat down with BBC Newsnight for what turned into a train wreck interview which sparked hundreds of humiliating memes and prompted the Duke’s PR man — who reportedly advised him against doing the interview — to quit.

Prince Andrew said in the statement that he “unequivocally regrets his ill-judged association” with Epstein. He also acknowledged the sex pest’s victims after criticism that he showed a lack of sympathy in the BBC interview. The Duke said Epstein’s apparent suicide had left “many unanswered questions.”

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Prince Andrew’s ‘I don’t sweat’ & ‘Pizza Express’ excuses trigger avalanche of memes as he denies Epstein sex scandal links

“I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure,” he said, adding that he is “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency” with investigations, if required. The Duke’s BBC interview had also prompted calls for him to make himself available to the FBI for questioning.

Previously, Andrew said he had “no recollection”  of ever meeting accuser Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was forced into sex with him between 1999 and 2002 during a period when accused sex trafficker Epstein was keeping her as a “slave.” 

Andrew maintains no memory of meeting Giuffre despite the existence of a photograph showing him with his arm around her bare waist. The Duke was mocked mercilessly online for recalling “weirdly distinctly”  that he took his daughter to Pizza Express on the exact day Giuffre claims they had sex.

He was also mocked for pointing to a mysterious medical condition, since resolved, that prevented him from sweating at the time after Giuffre said she recalled that he was sweating profusely while the two were together.

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November 20th 2019, 1:45 pm

Several dead & injured after explosion at fireworks factory in Italy – local media

RT

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

November 20th 2019, 1:45 pm

WATCH: Jose Mourinho vows to reverse Spurs’ slump in first interview as manager

RT

Jose Mourinho has vowed to reverse Tottenham’s fortunes as the Portuguese gave his first interview since taking over from Mauricio Pochettino at the Premier League club.

Mourinho was named Spurs boss on Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after Pochettino had been relieved of his duties after more than five years in North London.

The Portuguese former Chelsea and Manchester United boss has been handed a deal until the end of the 2022-23 season and will be on a reported £15 million a year.

READ MORE: Jose Mourinho appointed new Tottenham Hotspur manager

And speaking to Spurs TV on his first day of training at the club, Mourinho vowed to reverse a slide which has seen last season’s Champions League finalists languish in 14th place in the table, as well as making a commitment to bringing young players through.

"There is not one manager in the world that doesn't like to play young players and to help young players to develop – not one,” Mourinho said.  

"The problem is that sometimes you get into clubs where the work that is below you is not good enough to produce these players.

"So I look to our history and you see that the academy is always giving talents the first team need. Of course I always look forward to working with that profile."

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Mourinho also heaped lavish praise on Tottenham’s stunning new stadium and training facilities, calling them the best in the world.  

“You have to say the best stadium in the world, I think it’s a reality,” he said.

“The training ground is second to none… you cannot compare it with European football at any level.”

A popular figure during his time at the club, Pochettino guided Spurs to Champions League football for four consecutive seasons before seeing his reign fade badly in recent months.

But Mourinho – who won the league three times in two spells with Chelsea – vowed to reverse Spurs’ current fortunes.  

“In relation to the Premier League, we know where we are and we know that we don’t belong there,” he said.  

“We should just play match after match, and we want to win, and the next and the next until the last.

“I know we are going to be in a different position to where we are now.”

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Pochettino sacked, Mourinho back - The Premier League’s managerial merry-go-round (VIDEO)

November 20th 2019, 1:30 pm

Israel may face unprecedented THIRD ELECTION after Gantz fails to form coalition government

RT

Israelis may be headed to the polls for the third time in a year, after Blue & White leader Benny Gantz said he was unable to form a coalition government with either Arab parties or its main rival, PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

November 20th 2019, 1:15 pm

Rare ‘unicorn’ meteor shower set to be sparked by mysterious comet

RT

Two leading meteor scientists are forecasting that a rare outburst from the alpha Monocertoid meteor will treat stargazers to a flurry of shooting stars this week. Here’s what you need to know about the looming light show.

Hundreds of meteors are set to light up the night sky for a brief spell, when the spectacular show kicks off at 04:50 Universal Time on Friday. The meteors will rain out of Monoceros, the Unicorn constellation, near Orion the Hunter, and they will be caused by debris from the tail of a mysterious unknown comet burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.

© American Meteor Society

As well as being rare, the dazzling display is also exceptional because it’s only set to last 15 to 40 minutes. The waning moon will cause only minor interference and the best views will be in western Europe, eastern North America, South America and northwestern Africa. 

The alpha Monocertoid meteor shower takes place every year but it usually only produces a handful of meteors. However, on rare occasions it has put on stunning outbursts that have wowed sky watchers.

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Leonid meteor shower lights up night sky with spectacular shooting stars

Astronomers Esko Lyytinen and Peter Jenniskens have forecast in MeteorNews that we’re in for a treat this year. The large outbursts previously occurred in 1925, 1935, 1985 and 1995.

During the 1995 outburst, the hourly rate of meteors hit around 400, and scientists are predicting that this week’s show will produce something similar, with more than a handful of meteors blazing across the sky every minute.

The astronomers recommend that people begin observing the sky an hour before the predicted time, in case the shower begins early. No telescopes or equipment are required  to see the shower, but people are being advised to wrap up in warm clothes and avoid looking at their phones to allow their eyes to adjust to the night sky.

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Mystery surrounds curious SPACE FIREBALLS that crashed in Chile as experts rule out meteor shower (PHOTOS)

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November 20th 2019, 1:15 pm

Resourceful Russian cops stop truck to stage Hollywood-style rescue of people from burning building

RT

An epic rescue operation was caught on video in the Moscow Region, as witty traffic cops stopped a truck so that the people, who were cut off by the fire, could escape the blaze on its roof.

Two officers were on a routine patrol mission, when they saw thick black coming from the windows of the two-story building nearby. They swiftly called in the fire brigade as their instructions ordered, but the situation was dire and required immediate action.

The policemen jumped out of their patrol car and rushed towards the burning building where they saw two men on the second floor, crying for help. A jump from the heights of around four meters would not have likely been deadly for them, but could still lead to some serious injuries.

With no special tools at their disposal, the officers needed to get creative to be able to rescue the fire victims. Luckily for them, a truck was just passing by. They stopped the vehicle and asked the driver to park it outside the window so that the men could safely get out of the burning building, and even take some of their most valuable belongings with them.

The truck then drove away from the burning house, with people sitting atop of it like heroes of an action movie. The whole ordeal was indeed filmed on the dash cam inside the police car and was later published online by the Interior Ministry.

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WATCH: Stranger rescues girl from BURNING apartment by pulling her through window on floor above

But the rescue operation wasn’t over yet, as the officers went inside the building to check if any other residents remained inside. They eventually had to break one of the doors on the ground floor, where a man was sleeping, unaware of the fire.

The bravery and the wits of the traffic cops allowed all residents to safely evacuate from the blaze before the firefighters could do their job.

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November 20th 2019, 12:45 pm

‘Not fair’: Novak Djokovic blasts Canada for handing USA walkover at Davis Cup

RT

Serbian tennis ace and 16-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic has criticized the Canadian men’s tennis team for handing the USA a doubles walkover in the Davis Cup group stage.

The Canadian squad took claimed two wins against their American rivals, guaranteeing their participation in the playoffs.

READ MORE: Rafa to the rescue: Nadal leads Spain to victory over Russia in Davis Cup

But they then pulled out of their doubles match – which would have not affected their group standings – gifting a 6-0, 6-0 win to the USA.

The move was widely condemned by fans and some stars, including Djokovic, as according to Davis Cup rules the two best second-placed teams from the six groups will still advance to the quarterfinals, with sets and games won being taken into account.

"I personally don't like that. I mean, that shouldn't be allowed, to be honest. I understand that Canada is through already, they won both of their ties," Djokovic said.

"Maybe some of the players like Felix, I think he's injured, and they wanted to rest their players for the quarterfinals and onwards. But I just feel it's not fair that the USA gets 6-0 6-0 because they are going actually head-to-head now against Italy,” he added.

The newly-established Davis Cup format divides 18 teams into six groups, with the group winners and two best-placed runners-up qualifying for the quarterfinals.

November 20th 2019, 12:45 pm

Impeachment hearing gets more bizarre with Sondland confirming ‘Zelensky loves Trump’s ass’ , but va

RT

House Democrats tried repeatedly to goad their diplomatic witness into “admitting” the elusive quid pro quo of aid withheld pending a probe, but the best they could get was confirmation he told Trump “Zelensky loves your ass.”

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Gordon Sondland played the ‘can’t recall exactly’ card as Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Democratic Counsel Daniel Goldman pushed him to confirm President Donald Trump had made the release of foreign aid to Ukraine contingent upon President Volodymyr Zelensky’s launch of a corruption investigation. Sondland did say he believed that there was a quid pro quo in his prepared remarks, but in his later testimony he was hazy about where that belief came from.

The diplomat said there was no direct discussion of “security assistance” from Trump and that he “made the connection” with the “investigation into Biden” only after the transcript was published. His recollection of conversations with Rudy Giuliani, whom he believed was conveying the president’s desires, was vague, he said. Apologizing for his unreliable memory – Sondland has already “corrected” his testimony once, after apparently having his recollection refreshed by reading colleagues’ testimonies – he told a disappointed Schiff he couldn’t recall how the notion that the White House was holding up military aid awaiting the announcement of the probe became his “presumption.”

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Diplomat suddenly ‘remembers’ personally delivering Ukrainian ‘quid pro quo’ AFTER reading Trump impeachment testimonies

One thing he did remember? Telling the president that “Zelensky loves [his] ass.”

“It sounds like something I would say!” To chortles from the audience, Sondland continued: “That’s how President Trump and I communicate. A lot of four-letter words. Three letter.”

“Putting it in Trump-speak by saying he loves your ass he’ll do whatever you want, meant that he would really work with us on a whole host of issues,” Sondland explained, acknowledging that Zelensky was “eager” to work with the US.

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Impeachment hearing raises question who is in charge of US foreign policy: Trump or 'interagency consensus'?

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November 20th 2019, 12:30 pm

Arab League to hold urgent meeting over US support for Israeli settlements

RT

The Arab League said it will hold an urgent meeting Monday on the US announcement that it no longer considers Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank illegal.

Hossam Zaki, the pan-Arab body’s deputy secretary general, said several members had backed a Palestinian Authority call for a ministerial meeting.

The PA’s permanent representative to the Arab League has condemned Washington’s change of position – announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – as “illegal.”

Pompeo said on Monday that after legal consultations, the US had concluded the establishment of settlements was “not, per se, inconsistent with international law.” The Cairo-based Arab League has said the US shift was an “extremely adverse development,” AFP reported.

November 20th 2019, 12:30 pm

Pochettino sacked, Mourinho back - The Premier League’s managerial merry-go-round (VIDEO)

RT

The Premier League’s managerial merry-go-round's latest movement has seen Jose Mourinho replace Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur. RT Sport’s Danny Armstrong takes a look at the latest fallout from the football world.

Despite reaching the UEFA Champions League final last season, Pochettino has been axed by the North London club after a poor start to this term has seen the club languish in the bottom half of the Premier League table.

Mourinho is famous for making Spurs' arch rivals Chelsea one of the most successful clubs in the league's history, and most recently managed Manchester United, who Tottenham play on December 4.

The sacking of Pochettino could put United on alert, as the Argentine has been a long-term target for The Reds, meaning the position of current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be under threat.

November 20th 2019, 12:30 pm

Alliance life after ‘brain death’: NATO focuses on outer space, compares army spending with Russia

RT

Though most members can barely afford to cough up their required military spending, and with European leaders questioning the venerable alliance, why is NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg talking about expanding into space?

Jens Stoltenberg is an unlikely Darth Vader. Beginning his political career with left-wing protests against the Vietnam war, Stoltenberg would go on to join the machine he once railed against, overseeing an expansion of Norway’s military while Prime Minister from 2005 to 2013, and then leading the world’s largest military alliance from 2014 onwards.

But his ambitions are galactic, at least if his own words are anything to go on. Speaking to reporters at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, the alliance leader announced plans to make outer space one of its ‘operational domains,’ alongside land, sea, air, and cyber. 

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“Space is of great importance for our civilian societies and for any military operation,” he said. “It’s about communications, it’s about navigation, it’s about data imagery. Space is essential for almost everything we do.”

Straight off the bat, the announcement opened up more questions than it answered. 

“It’s interesting to talk about,” former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT, “wanting to expand the domain of NATO into space, but what does this mean? Nobody knows. And who pays for it? [Most NATO countries] can’t even afford to keep up their two percent [military spending commitment].”

“I don’t know which country other than the United States at this point would be in an economic position to come forward and foot the bill,” Maloof added.

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ©  ancisco Seco/Pool via REUTERS

A new space race

Within the alliance, individual states are already jockeying to lead the space race, namely the United States and France, with the US the frontrunner. The US already owns around 900 of the 2000 or so satellites orbiting the earth. Only another 200 or thereabouts are owned by other NATO countries. In addition, the Pentagon has already formally established the US Space Command, a command under the Air Force that may become a full-fledged Space Force if Congress passes the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence hold a US Space Command launch event at the White House, August 2019 © Reuters / Kevin Lamarque

Not wanting to miss out on the action, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of his own space command in July. The announcement fitted in with the French leader’s cocksure EU-first brand of leadership, exemplified by his calls for an EU army and his criticism of the US-dominated NATO alliance, which he called “brain dead” earlier this month.

Stoltenberg has dismissed Macron’s Napoleonic ambitions. “European unity cannot replace Transatlantic unity as we need both,” he told reporters on Tuesday, adding that more than 80 percent of the alliance’s funding comes from “non-EU allies,” read: America. Military expansion in space would therefore be no less American-led.

“France has the strongest capabilities in this regard among other NATO members. But it’s all about the United States as they try to monopolize [militarization of space] and employ their own weapons,” Konstantin Sokolov, geopolitics expert and research fellow with Russia’s Academy of Natural Sciences, told RT.

“It is worth recalling that the United States, which has a large fleet of reconnaissance satellites, is the key NATO member that sets the tone for its activities,” SPACE industry analyst Leonid Khazanov added.

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‘EU can’t defend Europe’: Stoltenberg takes aim at Macron’s ‘brain-dead’ NATO

Stoltenberg described NATO’s planned space operations as a purely “defensive” step, and stressed that he has no intention of putting offensive weapons in space. Washington sings a different tune, however. 

Offensive moves

“Space is a warfighting domain, just like air, land and sea,” Space Command head Gen. John Raymond said on Monday, building on earlier comments from former Pentagon Chief Jim Mattis, who called for the development of offensive weapons in space “should someone decide to militarize it.” Indeed the branch’s stated goal is to “degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy, and manipulate adversary capabilities to protect US interests, assets, and way of life”  - hardly defensive words. Russia and China - both of whom are working on their own anti-satellite weapons - have criticized the US for its steps toward the militarization of space.

Any nation that sends a satellite to space risks militarizing the skies, Hall Gardner, professor and author of ‘World War Trump’ told RT, “given the fact that satellites possess dual use civilian, espionage, cyber-warfare and military purposes.” However, the US shredding of arms control treaties - like George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the 1972 ABM treaty in 2001, and Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 1987 INF treaty earlier this year, makes the weaponization of space inevitable, Gardner added.

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US paving way for ‘full-scale arms race’ by staying silent on Russia’s New START proposals – Putin

“The possibility that Washington and Moscow could permit the New START accord to expire in February 2021 would mean no constraints on nuclear-capable ICBMs―and would indirectly open the door to new first strike weapons deployments on land, sea, in the air and in outer space.”

Macron has already questioned Trump’s willingness to defend Europe. But how would European leaders feel about defending the United States if one of its satellites were shot down? That’s a hypothetical question though, and NATO’s concerns are likely more down-to-earth at the moment.

A fracturing alliance

Stoltenberg’s opening up of the stratosphere is “a desperate call,” Maloof told RT. “He didn’t have any details of how this thing would be implemented, who will pay for it, how it will be accomplished. It would be an interesting thing just to hear what his plan is.” 

Rather, NATO needs to press member states to cough up more money, while simultaneously keeping the US and France on side. Turkey, a NATO member, is already purchasing Russian weaponry against alliance advice, and a host of countries around the world, including Italy, have signed on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. On the eve of NATO’s 75th birthday, Stoltenberg’s single biggest challenge is keeping the alliance relevant in a post-Cold War world.

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NATO’s ‘free-rider problem’: Macron wants independent Europe, but ‘it’s not something he can change JUST LIKE THAT’

To that effect, the NATO chief attempted to justify the bloc’s enormous combined military budget - 20 times that of Russia - to reporters on Tuesday. The massive expenditure, he argued, is not a holdover from the Cold War, but purely a reflection on the difference in “salaries” and the “higher standard of living” in the Western world. 

However, higher military salaries can only account for so much of NATO’s expenditure. The alliance ran 106 war-readiness exercises last year, compared to a handful by Russia. Moreover, some 22,000 NATO personnel are currently engaged in operations around the world, and the United States alone officially maintains more than 500 bases in over 80 countries, compared to 21 Russian installations in nine countries. France and Britain too operate bases in 11 foreign lands each, adding to NATO’s costly tally.

White elephant space projects and drumming up the threat posed by Russia are the moves of an alliance “on a respirator,” Maloof concluded.

“It’s Stoltenberg grasping at straws to try and preserve an archaic alliance,” he said. “It’s past its due now. Its time has passed.”

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November 20th 2019, 12:00 pm

'Conor's an idiot, we don't listen to idiots': Khabib reacts to McGregor's Moscow callout

RT

UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov says that the latest tirade of insults from bitter Irish rival Conor McGregor does not bother him a single bit, as he simply has no time to "pay attention to idiots."

The seemingly never-ending war of words between Nurmagomedov and McGregor continues, with both fighters delivering insults whenever they are asked on the matter. Khabib's latest public appearance was no exception - even though it was hosted in a Moscow region school for kids aged from 6 to 12.

"Conor said he wants a rematch in Moscow. Do you want that fight?" asked one of the youngsters.

“Honestly I don’t think he wants that fight. How is that so? I beat him up for four rounds. I beat him and choked him and he tapped. It was a sign he didn’t want to be there, ‘let me go please’ and all that. And now he wants the rematch," Nurmagomedov replied.

"First of all he has to earn it. We’re in the fourth year since his last victory. It’s been three years and now we’re in the fourth. In order to fight for the title I had to win 10 fights in a row in the UFC. That’s not counting the 16 victories I had outside the UFC. In every fight I earned it not with my mouth but with my actions. That’s where we’re different - he talks about it, I just do it," he added. 

READ MORE: Forbes reveals amount UFC champ Khabib rakes in from social media posts

“It’s nice for me, because even when I keep quiet and even when I don’t say anything people can weigh it up for themselves. ‘Hang on, this guy talks and this guy just acts’. Just talking is one thing, but when it comes to doing it, he’s completely different. So for me there are no kind of announcements or insults. He’s an idiot. We don’t pay attention to idiots,” concluded the Eagle of Dagestan.

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Khabib: ‘Sometimes I go easy on my opponents, I don’t want to hurt them’ (VIDEO)

November 20th 2019, 12:00 pm

Houthis release S. Korean, Saudi vessels captured in Yemen

RT

Yemen’s Houthi movement released three vessels and 16 people it had seized, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry and a Houthi military source in Yemen said on Wednesday.

The seizure on Sunday was the latest incident at sea around Yemen, where Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition of Arab states against the Houthis, who control the capital and most population centers and have been accused of attacking shipping, Reuters said.

Of the vessels freed on Tuesday, two were South Korean and one was Saudi Arabia-flagged, the South Korean ministry said. The Saudi-led coalition said on Wednesday the incident was over and the Saudi-flagged Rabigh 3 ship had been handed back to its Saudi owners.

November 20th 2019, 11:45 am

Bolivia’s interim president to call elections ‘in coming hours’

RT

Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Anez said Wednesday she will call elections in the coming hours, AFP reports. The statement comes after deadly unrest following the resignation of Evo Morales in the wake of the disputed October 20 ballot.

Anez, the 52-year-old former deputy speaker of the Senate, declared herself the country’s interim president last week, filling a vacuum left by Morales’ departure and the resignations of several ministers.

Since Morales stepped down, his supporters have demonstrated daily in the streets of La Paz and in some provincial cities to demand Anez’s departure.

November 20th 2019, 11:45 am

‘Death sentence for telling the truth’: Fashion icon Joe Corré urges immediate action to prevent Ass

RT

Julian Assange is being persecuted for speaking the truth, and the UK public must mobilize to shield him from the 'death sentence' awaiting him in the United States, activist and Agent Provocateur co-founder Joe Corré told RT.

The politically-active entrepreneur, and son of another fashion icon Vivienne Westwood, has been an outspoken advocate for Assange. The imprisoned Wikileaks chief is currently battling his extradition to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison for obtaining and publishing secret documents. Recounting a recent visit he made to Belmarsh prison, Corré told Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi that Assange was being treated in a “horrific way” by the UK justice system. According to Corré, Assange has been separated from all human contact – a “form of torture” that has affected his mental health.

When [Assange] walks out on to the wing [of the prison], they clear the wing of any other prisoners or anybody else, so he never gets to speak to anybody or see anybody. He’s literally marched from one place to the other and kept in solitary confinement.

Assange’s legal battle is “the most important case in our time about press freedom, about whistleblowers, and about holding the powerful to account through the media,” Corré said, adding that “the media, the public, the judiciary, the politicians, should be outraged” over his treatment. Extradition to the United States would be tantamount to a “death sentence,” he argued.

What this has turned into is something that is essentially like saying ‘it’s a crime to expose American war crimes.

He noted that Sweden’s decision to drop its investigation into rape allegations brought against Assange in 2010 proves that the journalist’s decision to seek political asylum was completely justified and based on his understand that he was being unjustly hunted by Washington. The sexual abuse allegations, according to Corré, were a “fabrication and a setup in order to turn public opinion against him.”

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For his part, the British businessman said that would press the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) to take a stand against Assange’s potential extradition. Amal Clooney, a noted jurist and wife of actor George Clooney, had previously weighed in on Assange’s case – but Corré said he wanted to see the organization do more. He also stressed that the British public needed to rally around Assange in his time of need.

We are about to commit one of the biggest miscarriages of justice the world has ever seen.

Assange has fierce critics on both the right and left due to the nonpartisan nature of the content that Wikileaks has published over the years – but his fate transcends politics, Corré stressed. He notes that no matter what side one may be, the Assange case was about “core principles about whether or not you can have journalistic freedom in the world.” He warned that allowing Assange’s extradition to the US would be one of the “worst crimes of the century.”

November 20th 2019, 11:45 am

‘Utter rubbish!’ Putin says ‘Russian threat’ is fake, invented by those trying to cash in on it

RT

Europe knows that Russia isn’t going to attack them and won’t be paying Washington for protection anymore, Vladimir Putin said, urging the US to rethink its relations with NATO allies on the continent.

The US previously told the European nations that they were defending them from the Soviet Union and that they had to pay for it, Putin said from the stage of the "Russia Calling" investment forum in Moscow. But the USSR collapsed almost three decades ago and the US approach “doesn’t work” today.

Despite all the problems “with Ukraine, the speculations about Crimea and Donbass, everybody clearly understands that Russia is not going to attack anybody,” President explained.

This is nonsense, utter rubbish! The ‘Russian threat’ is an invention of those, who only wants to cash in by exploiting their role as the vanguard of the fight against Russia… It’s obvious to everybody; and it’s absolutely clear to the leaders of the major European nations.

Washington therefore is better advised to rethink its relations with NATO allies in Europe. “Why would they pay for maintaining the US military complex? They will be developing their own capabilities instead. And they’re taking about it already.”

© Sputnik / Sergey Guneev

Putin was likely referring to the recent words by French President Emmanuel Macron, who made headlines by saying that NATO was experiencing “brain death,” or a warning by German chancellor Angela Merkel that “the US won’t automatically be playing the role of Europe’s defender anymore.” There’s a strong pushback in Berlin and other EU capitals against Donald Trump’s demand for NATO member to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

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‘EU can’t defend Europe’: Stoltenberg takes aim at Macron’s ‘brain-dead’ NATO

And the Americans are using the so-called “Russian threat,” not only in relation with their foreign partners, but also in their domestic political strife, with Moscow routinely, yet baselessly, accused of meddling in US affairs.

“This factor of internal political struggle has a negative effect on Russia-US relations. I hope it stops someday. We’re ready for it,” the President said.

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November 20th 2019, 11:45 am

WATCH: Chinese teen smashes insane skipping record with 228 jumps in 30 seconds

RT

Chinese teenager Cen Xiaolin took the phrase ‘jump to it’ to the extreme when he smashed his own world skipping record in Shanghai recently.

Competing at the 6th Double Dutch Contest, Cen incredibly managed the clear the rope 228 times in 30 seconds in the "most alternate step skips in 30 seconds" event – breaking his own record of 208 skips set back in 2016.  

Footage showed the 17-year-old’s latest feat as with back hunched, he wildly skips away as his feet and hands disappear into a blur.

The skipping star’s story has previously been picked up by local media, as he was proclaimed as having the “world’s most powerful thighs” when he smashed five records as a member of the China team at the World Jump Rope Championship in Oslo earlier this year.

Among his feats is skipping an incredible 1,141 times in 3 minutes – at an average of 6.33 jumps per second.

The two-day 6th Double Dutch Contest in Shanghai gathered around 400 rope skippers in 60 teams from as far and wide as  Australia, France, Japan, South Korea and China. 

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November 20th 2019, 11:23 am

'P*** poor journalism': BBC political editor blasted for playing down Tories’ fake fact check fiasco

RT

The BBC's political editor Laura Kuenssberg has been torn asunder online, after calling for calm amid a wave of indignation over the Conservative Party posing as a fact checking organization on Twitter during an election debate.

The Tories were called out for attempting to pull the wool over voter’s eyes by rebranding as ‘fact check UK’ during Tuesday night’s televised debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

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Condemnation swiftly came from many quarters, and Kuenssberg made an offhand appeal for calm, promoting the BBC’s and Channel 4’s fact-checkers and calling it a “really daft row to pick.”

Her interjection served only to further enrage those who were annoyed by the Tories’ underhand move, which Twitter has labelled an “attempt to mislead” people.

Some pointed to the worryingly authoritarian overtones of what the ruling Conservative Party at least tried to do before they were caught red-handed.

“Tories branding their press office as an independent fact-checking account isn't a 'daft row to pick'. It is sinister manipulation, a deliberate attempt to confuse the public, sow distrust of all politicians,” Times columnist Jenni Russell said.

Many others also voiced their disappointment at the BBC corresondent’s apparent indifference, with writer Carl Kinsella describing Kuenssberg as “literally just a Tory operative and a disgrace to the BBC, and journalists everywhere.” 

Kuenssberg also downplayed the significance of the debate itself, saying it "wasn't a game changer." It’s now three weeks until UK citizens go to the polls on December 12.

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‘That's not what s**tposting is’: BBC schooled online after floundering attempt to explain internet culture

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November 20th 2019, 11:23 am

US’ attempts to undermine economic growth of Russia & China are just part of unfair competition – Pu

RT

Washington is making a serious mistake as it aims to deter the development of Russia and China, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at an investment forum in Moscow.

“Balanced international economic relations is not their [US] main goal, but their main strategic goal is curbing the development of China and Russia,” the Russian leader told the ‘Russia Calling’ forum, adding that such an approach is a “deep” mistake that can backfire on the US and undermine its position.

Another reason for Washington’s restrictions against its trade war rival, Beijing, is that the Chinese economy has proven to be more effective than the US economy, according to the Russian president. This could be the key factor of the trade war, and not the trade deficit as the US claims.

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US policy targeting Russia and China is “unfair competition” and will continue for some time in the future, said Putin. However, this will not stop the growth of the global economy and will not plunge it into recession, according to the Russian president.

“In my opinion, growth rate of the global economy will increase, despite all the problems linked to trade wars, restrictions for political reasons and so on,” he told the audience. “The global economy is unlikely to go into recession in the near future even with the trade war between the US and China.”

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US move to weaponize its currency is destroying dollar in international trade – Putin

Russia and its largest trade partner, China, have been working to boost mutual trade in their national currencies, the ruble and the yuan. The issue has been repeatedly discussed by the two sides and between the leaders, including during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum (SPIEF) in June.

Putin said that while the volume of bilateral trade in national currencies is still relatively low, it is steadily growing and can grow even faster as both the Russian and Chinese governments are working to boost it.

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

November 20th 2019, 11:12 am

Meet Anastasia Shpilevaya – the Russian ice dancer aiming for a breakthrough season (PHOTOS)

RT

One of the most beautiful figure skating disciplines, ice dancing has always charmed fans with its elegance and style, with Russian athletes long being trend-setters and leaders.

This is the world junior star Anastasia Shpilevaya that is now aiming to break into, after teaming up with Grigory Smirnov as they bid to shine at elite level.

READ MORE: ‘It’s not a psychological issue, this is facing reality’: Brian Orser on Medvedeva’s losses to quad-jumping skaters (VIDEO)

Being the sole figure skating event where jumps are not performed, ice-dancing requires delicate skills from skaters, who should float across the ice to receive high technical and component scores.

With no complicated jumps and throws at their disposal, dancers often choose extraordinary images and even provocative costumes to make their programs stand out for fans and judges.

Anastasia Shpilevaya and Grigory Smirnov © Sputnik / Alexander Vilf

Shpilevaya, 20, and Smirnov, 22, are among the skaters to have their signature manner of skating, captivating the crowd with electrifying performances which set their performance apart from the competition.

The pair started skating together in 2012 and immediately attracted the attention of pundits with their perfect technique and expressive emotions.

In 2016 they won the Winter Youth Olympics in Norway, establishing themselves as among the most talented junior ice dancers.

A year later the duet were expected to make their senior debut, however they were forced to skip the season due to health problems.

Having missed a year, the pair returned to the figure skating circuit aiming to make a breakthrough at their first fully-fledged senior season.

At the home Grand Prix stage Rostelecom Cup earlier this month the couple finished sixth, stressing that an enforced one-year hiatus affected their rankings.

Of course we dropped in the rankings, but this season we have been constantly competing without being distracted by health issues,” Shpilevaya said after the Rostelecom Cup.

Anastasia Shpilevaya and Grigory Smirnov © Sputnik / Nina Zotina

We didn’t feel anxiety because we love to perform in front of the huge crowd,” she added.

Now that they have had a taste of life among the elite, the future seems bright for this young pair from Russia.

November 20th 2019, 11:12 am

Putin’s plan: Wait for US’ most-advanced shale oil know-how and SNATCH IT! (Spoiler: it was a joke)

RT

Acquiring top-notch US technology to extract shale oil might be challenging, but not for the world’s best-known KGB intelligence veteran who (jokingly) told a Russian investment forum how (not) to do it.

Vladimir Putin provided his vision on extracting shale oil – a type of crude found in underground deposits – at the ‘Russia Calling’ investment forum, which at first sounded like veiled nostalgia for his much-talked about KGB career in the 1980s.

“Let us wait for the Americans to spend money on new extraction technologies,” he said, adding that the moment will come to snatch it all. “Let's see if we are interested in doing this today or not,” he hinted, adding, “And we’ll buy it for cheap.”

Joking aside, there’s no need for Russia to steal that know-how as the country that houses one of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves is working on its own.

We are closely following all this (the latest developments in shale oil extraction). The thing is that modern-day technologies for extracting shale oil, shale gas, they are without exaggeration, barbaric, they destroy the environment.

In some areas where shale oil is extracted, “it’s not water that drips from the tap but black slurry,” Putin explained.

“We do not need such production, despite all the possible economic advantages, we will never do this,” he assured. Russian companies have “capabilities on the shelf and on the surface,” there is no urgent need, he added.

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Russia will eclipse American oil production by 2050 – US energy agency

Putin also said that the US “shot itself in the foot” by prohibiting companies to work on Russia’s shelf, explaining that those who had already invested money in such projects, had to abandon them and suffer losses. “So, who is the punished one?” he concluded.

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November 20th 2019, 11:12 am

Destination lost: Airline pilot confuses passengers welcoming them to MOSCOW after landing in KIEV (

RT

Passengers on a flight to Kiev, Ukraine were monetarily startled by the announcement that they had arrived at their destination – Moscow. The pilot of the aircraft quickly apologized for the embarrassing slip-up.

A Wizzair flight from London’s Luton airport to the Ukrainian capital took a humorous turn after the airplane had safely landed in Kiev.

“Wizzair is delighted to welcome you to Moscow,” the airliner’s pilot bellowed over the intercom as the plane drove to the arrival gate.

In a short video that recorded the unexpected announcement, passengers can be heard laughing in reaction to the pilot’s error.

“My apologies,” he said after a brief pause. “Wizzair is delighted to welcome you to Kiev.”

According to the YouTube channel that uploaded the video, at least a few passengers had woken up from a nap just moments before the announcement was made – causing temporary panic that they somehow got on the wrong flight.

“They strongly believed that they boarded the wrong airplane and ended up at the wrong city. They told me that you should see our faces,” the video description explained.

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November 20th 2019, 9:40 am

‘Makes me sick to my stomach’: Simone Biles slams school banner 'joke' about pedophile doctor Larry

RT

The most decorated gymnast in US history Simone Biles has slammed a school banner with a reference to the disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar, who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting gymnasts.

The controversy surrounding the pedophile doctor was sparked after someone from a University of Michigan fraternity hung a self-made banner during Saturday’s football game mocking Nassar’s victims whom he assaulted for years under the pretext of medical help.

READ MORE: Best first pitch ever? Simone Biles performs spectacular twisting BACKFLIP before Nationals-Astros World Series game (VIDEO)

You can't touch us @LarryNassar. Welcome to the school you didn’t get into” read the banner, which hung from a window at the Psi Upsilon fraternity.

The former Michigan State University assistant professor Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexual crimes he committed during a period spanning more than 30 years.

The poster was spotted during a football game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and was apparently making the supposed joke in the context of Michigan rivalry.

Pictures of the banner were widely shared on social media triggering public outrage in the USA.

The controversial poster didn’t go unnoticed by the four-time Olympic champion Biles who said that it was “unbelievable” that someone would hang such a sign.

Unbelievable.. This is the type of stuff that makes me sick to my stomach,” Biles wrote.

I hope the school is taking the proper measurements in investigating this...”

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Biles was among 260 women who came forward to publicly accuse the former therapist of sexual crimes he committed while working for USA gymnastics and Michigan State University.

Along with her high-profile US gymnasts, including Olympic champions Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, and Jordyn Wieber, were among those to reveal that they were molested by the pedophile doctor during their time on the national team.

November 20th 2019, 9:40 am

'No evidence of meddling': Boris Johnson defends decision not to publish Russian influence report be

RT

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he has never seen “any” evidence of Russian interference in British democracy and defended his decision not to publish a parliamentary report into the subject before the December 12 election

Asked Wednesday about his decision to wait until after the election to publish the controversial report, Johnson said he saw no reason to change the timeline for publication.

There's absolutely no evidence that I've ever seen of any Russian interference in UK democratic processes.

Johnson's decision to shelve the 50-page report compiled by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) sparked outrage from the opposition, despite the fact that all public indications so far appear to suggest that it contains no evidence that Moscow meddled in either the 2016 Brexit referendum or the 2017 general election.

Earlier this month, sources with "direct knowledge" of the report's contents told BuzzFeed that the committee found no evidence of Russian meddling and that this finding was "categorical." 

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

November 20th 2019, 9:40 am

Anger in Russia after captain Artem Dzyuba abused by OWN FANS during Euro qualifier

RT

There has been outrage in Russia after captain Artem Dzyuba was subjected to abuse from his own fans during a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier in San Marino on Tuesday.

Already guaranteed a spot in next year’s pan-European footballing showpiece, Russia secured a comfortable 5-0 win against minnows San Marino – although much of the talk centered on the abuse Zenit St. Petersburg forward Dzyuba endured from sections of the Russian crowd.

Footage broadcast live on Russia’s Channel One clearly picked up chants of “Dzyuba, Dzyuba, f*ck you” during parts of the match in Serravalle.  

WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS LANGUAGE RUSSIAN SPEAKERS MAY FIND OFFENSIVE  

The Russian skipper did not respond during the game, but reportedly headed straight down the tunnel at the final whistle and did not join teammates in saluting the travelling support.  

Afterwards, Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov made his displeasure clear at the abuse directed at his 31-year-old captain.

“To travel to San Marino and insult the captain – that’s really something,” Cherchesov said. “It will stay on their consciences, and we will continue along our own path.”

In separate comments the Russia boss questioned whether the supporters were genuine backers of the team.

"Whose fans are these? I haven't had any kind of reaction to things like this for a long time, because we've got used to them," he said. 

Cherchesov was unimpressed with the chants. © Reuters

Reports in the Russian press speculate that fans of Dzyuba’s former club Spartak Moscow were behind the chants.

The 6ft 4in forward has enjoyed a prickly relationship with Spartak fans since leaving for Zenit in 2015, having started his career at the Moscow club.

Former Spartak, Tottenham and Russia forward Roman Pavlyuchenko branded the fans dishing out the insults as “not human.” 

“Artem Dzyuba does a lot for the country, from the fans to ordinary people. He makes people happy, his goals bring results for the national team,” Pavlyuchenko said.

“At the moment our team is getting good results, but some fans have appeared who don’t coduct themselves in a civilized way, they are not humans.”

Dzyuba was a hero for his team at the World Cup. © Reuters

Dzyuba, a hero from Russia’s run to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer, top-scored in their European qualifying campaign with nine goals in 10 games as Cherchesov’s team finished second behind Belgium in Group I.

However, he failed to add to that tally against San Marino on Tuesday, as goals from Daler Kuzyaev, Sergey Petrov, Alexey Miranchuk, Alexey Ionov and Nikolay Komlichenko handed Russia a comfortable win.

Such are the nuances of the Euro 2020 draw that Russia already know the teams they will face in the group stage of next year’s competition.

Russia will be drawn in Group B and will again face Belgium, as well as Denmark and either Wales or Finland.

Their group games will be based in St. Petersburg and Copenhagen.

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Getting shirty: Russia refuse to wear new Adidas kit because manufacturer ‘got flag the wrong way round’

November 20th 2019, 9:40 am

Ideal wedding gift? Pakistanis respond to historic surge in TOMATO prices with memes & satire (VIDEO

RT

Bewildered Pakistanis are responding to historic spikes in the price of tomatoes with wistful wit and hungry humor as the fruit fiasco reaches fever pitch.

The beleaguered and tomato-scarce country is considering buying tomatoes from Iran after supplies dwindled due to heavy rains, which hampered domestic production, as well as the suspension of trade with India over the Kashmir issue. 

The lack of imports amid its ongoing spat with its neighbor has hit particularly hard, with prices of the vine fruit skyrocketing to record highs of Rs400 ($2.56) per kilogram in certain parts of the country.

That represents an even-further increase from an already eye watering Rs300-320 ($1.49-$1.59) per kg on Monday. For reference, prices hovered around Rs117 (75 cents) per kg in the first week of November. 

The decision to sell in parity with Iranian prices is yielding local Pakistani traders major, meme worthy profits, as seen online. “When a bouquet of Tomatoes and Chilgozay (pine nuts) are a very acceptable gift at a Shaadi (wedding) #RightNowInPakistan,” Pakistani celebrity Shaniera Akram joked on Twitter.

The message has inspired an outpouring of memes as Pakistanis attempt to laugh through the trying situation.

Meanwhile, Pakistani journalist Naila Inayat shared what appeared to be parody footage, complete with a laugh track and sound effects, showing a Pakistani bride adorned with tomatoes instead of traditional ornate jewellery at a wedding ceremony.

“The price of gold is very high. Tomatoes and pine nuts are expensive as well. So, I used tomatoes for my wedding,” the ‘bride’ says. Various versions of the video have gone viral with over 33,000 views on Twitter and some 383,585 views on YouTube and 1.3 million views on Facebook. The reporter in the clip, Yasir Shami, is known for his satirical videos.

New crops of tomatoes and onions are expected in several weeks so the scarcity and the bittersweet banter may have a limited shelf life.

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For crying out loud: Delhi onion prices soar 40% in one week due to unseasonal rainfall

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November 20th 2019, 9:11 am

Forget OPEC: China now moves the oil markets

RT

Not so long ago, oil prices would surge or plummet on just a whisper from OPEC, who at the time held all the supply cards.

The mere hint that the world’s most powerful oil cartel was going to cut production could send oil prices up dramatically.

Those days are over.

When the cartel announced on November 30, 2016, that it would cut production for the first time in eight years amid a major oil-price crisis, the market cheered. Before any cuts even happened, the sentiment alone boosted prices from a $50.74 close on that day to $54.94 at the close on December 5th, 2016. 

From that point on, at least up until recently, OPEC could drop the vaguest hint about production, or even think about production, and it would move the market--no fundamentals necessary. 

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All eyes on OPEC as another oil glut looms

This phenomenon was still going strong in the last quarter of 2018. On December 7, 2018, OPEC and its allies announced that they would do what they do best: rally together and withhold oil production from the market. OPEC promised to take 1.2 million barrels of oil daily off the market, sending oil prices up from $57.83 at the close on December 6th to $61.71 at the close on December 7th.  

By July 1, 2019, when OPEC and allies agreed to extend production cuts for another nine months, the bling in cartel announcements had already been dulled. Not only did oil prices fail to jump, they moved in the opposite direction--not because of the OPEC cuts; rather, because the market was no longer that interested. From a closing price of $67.52 on June 28th, Brent dropped to $65.01 on July 1st, and then plummeted to $62.72 the following day.

Since then, it’s managed to move the needle only slightly, one way or another.  

There’s A New Whisperer in Town ...

… and it’s not Iran, or even US shale. The supreme market mover is China. 

The residual effect of the US shale boom changed all that. In the aftermath of the oil-price crisis that was largely caused by massive new output in US shale plays, the market began to be moved more by weekly crude inventory data estimates from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the “official” data on the same that would follow the next day from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

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Now, all those acronyms have been overshadowed in the market by the ongoing trade war, global economic data, and demand signals coming out of China. 

The biggest surge in oil prices this year was prompted by September 14 attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities, but that 15-percent surge could not be sustained as dramatic as the attacks were, and despite the fact that they took five percent of the world’s oil off the market instantly. 

Within a day, it was clear to traders that the Saudis would get things up and running quickly, and that there would be no signfiicant supply crisis. 

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Attention immediately refocused on China. 

Now, the faintest whisper of a potential ‘deal’ to end the trade war, or a hushed signal that things are going to get worse moves the oil needle most volatilely. 

On September 4th, oil prices jumped over 4 percent just on Chinese economic data alone. Immediately prior to that, the market was seething with fears about a weakening global economy. 

It still is, but with each release of new data and indicators, it either remembers or forgets those fears all over again. 

On October 10th, oil hit a two-week high on sentiments that a trade war deal was within reach in the form of a ‘partial’ deal. The market viewed talks as the biggest breakthrough in the 18-month trade war. 

As it turns out, it wasn’t, and oil pared its gains--again. 

Each time the trade war talks, the oil market listens much more closely that it listens to Iran’s shooting down of a US drone, or even Iraq’s disintegrating into potential civil war. 

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US-China trade down $67 billion this year, hurting both economies

Certainly more than it’s listening to OPEC these days. It’s even listening to Trump’s Twitter account more than it is the oil cartel. 

But the trade war is the biggest threat to oil prices by far, and the market understands this. 

The trade war is depressing economic growth in Asia and the US because it increased the costs for businesses importing goods and raise prices for consumers. That means a slump in economic growth, which always translates into a slump for energy. 

OPEC Conceded Its Own Defeat

OPEC has lost the supply battle. 

No matter how long it continues with its cuts, it’s not putting a dent in oversupply. And that’s even with a Libyan civil war part II, crippling sanctions on Venezuela and Iran, and the most brazen attack on the world’s biggest producer that one could imagine. 

Still, OPEC is plodding along with supply cuts and losing market share left and right, while US shale just keeps producing and producing. In other words, OPEC is giving up production and the US is scooping up market share. 

So now, while US crude inventory data can move the oil-price needle every week, more than any statements coming out of OPEC can, if you’re playing oil’s volatility, it’s all about the trade war. 

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

November 20th 2019, 9:11 am

‘Foreign-trained’ dual nationals among those arrested for stirring up violent fuel price riots – Ira

RT

Dual Iranian nationals were among those who helped fuel protests against rising gasoline prices that quickly snowballed into violent riots raging through the Islamic Republic, Fars news agency reported.

Iranians also holding German, Turkish and Afghan passports were among those brought to custody last week, it reported on Wednesday citing unnamed security sources. “Special sabotage equipment” was recovered, it added.

The dual nationals had ostensibly been “funded and trained abroad” to target Iran’s infrastructure and stage civil disobedience actions, it claims. These suspects reportedly “confessed their links with the foreign spy agencies after detention.”

Gas prices skyrocketed over the weekend, following a decision by the Iranian government to cut fuel subsidies and redirect those funds to supporting over 60 million people in need. But the measure wasn’t welcomed as people took to the streets in several cities on Friday.

Iran’s security agencies estimate that roughly 87,000 people had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since last Friday.

People stop their cars on a highway to protest against increased gas price in Tehran © Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA via REUTERS

Most of them avoided joining the rioters who “have been prepared” for a standoff with police and were “looking forward for the situation to [escalate],” the security sources claimed. The protests have escalated into violent unrest with reports of deaths and injuries.

Three members of the Iranian security forces have been killed by protesters in Tehran province alone, before “calm has been restored” in the rest of the country, local media reported on Tuesday.

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Beyond the price of gas: Iranian protests raise specter of regime change

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier expressed support for Iranians who have taken to the streets in protest against the rising price of fuel.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif replied that Washington’s self-professed solidarity with Iranians protesting against rising fuel costs cannot be taken seriously since US sanctions have caused so much suffering in the Islamic Republic.

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November 20th 2019, 9:11 am

Insta earner: Forbes reveals amount UFC champ Khabib rakes in from social media posts

RT

Forbes Russia has released its annual list of the highest-paid Instagram stars who have converted their social media celebrity into real earnings through sponsorship posts, with UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov making the top 10.

The list is topped by Russian TV personality Ksenia Sobchak, while UFC lightweight ruler Nurmagomedov comes in at number seven as the best-paid Instagram stars.

READ MORE: ‘These days she doesn’t need anything’: Khabib admits ‘regrets’ as UFC champ reveals his mother’s role in early training sessions

Sobchak, who was also a presidential candidate in the 2018 elections, reportedly made $1.6 million through Instagram publications which were seen by her 6.8 million followers.

Undefeated Dagestani fighter Khabib has more than 18 million subscribers - making him his country's undisputed no.1 in terms of followers - but appears to be less focused on promoting goods and services on his page, bringing in an estimated $570,000 a year as he mixes sponsor-paid posts with pictures from his training sessions, meetings with friends and fellow fighters and occasional religious messages.

The UFC lightweight champ advertises energy drinks, vitamin supplements and a regional payment system. He also has a sponsorship contract with vehicle-maker Toyota, which often invites Khabib to its specially-organized events.

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‘I’d be lying if I said I don't care’: Khabib on battle with pop princess Buzova to be Russia's undisputed Instagram no.1

November 20th 2019, 7:54 am

Physicists claim to have found NEW force of nature which may unravel one of the universe’s greatest

RT

Hungarian researchers may have detected a new, fifth force of nature which could finally solve one of the greatest mysteries of the universe, namely the existence and nature of dark matter.

The universe is governed by four fundamental forces: Gravitational force, Weak Nuclear force, Electromagnetic force and Strong Nuclear force. However, a fifth force has long been rumored to exist, scientists just couldn’t prove it. Until now. Maybe.

A new study by Attila Krasznahorkay and his colleagues from the Institute for Nuclear Research in Hungary reveals that they spotted what they suspected might be a new type of boson in the decay of an isotope of beryllium in 2016.

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Thrown for a loop: Paradigm-shifting study claims universe is a closed ring, not flat

Beryllium-8 emits light as it decays and, if the light emitted proves strong enough, it fires out both an electron and a positron which repel each other at a predictable angle. Based on our current understanding of physics, and more specifically the law of conservation of energy, as the energy the light increases, the ‘predictable’ angle should decrease. Not so, however. 

The team witnessed an unexpected rise in the number of the two atomic particles separating at an angle of 140 degrees, which didn’t conform to existing models and estimates, potentially indicating the existence of a completely new kind of fundamental boson.

Three of the four known fundamental forces have bosons that guide their attractive and repulsive forces, gravity is theoretically controlled by a hypothetical particle dubbed a ‘graviton’ but scientists have yet to detect and observe it. 

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The new boson couldn't be mistaken for one of its existing counterparts as it has a particularly distinctive mass – 17 megaelectronvolts (or roughly 33 times that of an electron). They also don't live very long, lasting just 10 to the minus 14 seconds. 

The team wanted to replicate their theory of a possible fifth force governed by a new boson but shifted focus from beryllium to helium nuclei, in which pairs of electrons and positrons also separated at an angle that didn't align with current modelling (115 degrees). 

By reverse-engineering their observations, the team posit that the helium's nucleus could also have produced a short-lived boson with a mass of roughly, you guessed it, 17 megaelectronvolts – hence its name name X17. 

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Heart of darkness: Black holes may hide pure dark energy cores that are expanding the universe

The latest study is yet to be peer reviewed but the team's previous research was accepted by the journal Physical Review Letters

Once their findings have been thoroughly pored over, we may finally have a solution to the long-standing and often bemusing problem of accounting for dark matter which makes up the vast majority of the universe and is believed to be responsible for some truly baffling behaviour among the stars.

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November 20th 2019, 7:39 am

Pakistani journalist quits her job after colleagues ‘rubbish’ her Christian faith & pressure her to

RT

A Pakistani journalist has resigned after reportedly being harassed by colleagues over her Christian faith and her refusal to convert to Islam.

The only Christian registered with the Lahore Press Club, Gonila Gill has been working as a journalist for nearly twenty years. Covering health, education and minority rights, her job at Dunya News became a nightmare after she married a Muslim co-worker in 2014. Their marriage led to Gill being criticized at her workplace for not adopting her husband’s religion. The discrimination only grew worse after she gave birth to her first son – who was baptized and named Abraham. Ironically, she recounted, her co-workers had told her that she would never get pregnant until she converted to Islam.

Speaking to local media, the journalist said that her husband never pressed her to change her religion. She also added that her Christian faith remained unshaken, despite the abuse she endured.

People are vile when they talk rubbish about my faith. However, I will not lose hope and remain steadfast in my religion.

She expressed fears that her son will “never have a good future in Pakistan” because of their Christian beliefs.

“I feel insecure and not respected by society,” she said, demanding that the Pakistani government “guarantee protection for families like ours, so that we can live with due respect and dignity.”

Her story was met with outrage on social media, with many citing her experience as proof of widespread religious intolerance in Pakistan.

Recently, a Christian girl was reportedly forced to convert to Islam by her school principal. In another incident from August, a Sikh girl was allegedly abducted and forced to marry a Muslim man in Pakistan.

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November 20th 2019, 7:39 am

No way, Jose? Mourinho takes over at Spurs despite vowing he would NEVER manage them because he 'lov

RT

Jose Mourinho is returning to football as he takes over from the sacked Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham – despite vowing back in 2015 that he would NEVER manage Spurs because he loves Chelsea fans too much.

Mourinho stepped into the Spurs hotseat less than 24 hours after Argentine Pochettino saw his five-and-a-half-year reign at the club come to an end.

The Portuguese has penned a deal until the end of the 2022-23 season and worth a reported £15 million a year.

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Jose Mourinho appointed new Tottenham Hotspur manager

But back when Mourinho was in his second spell as Chelsea boss in 2015, he reportedly vowed he would never take over at London rivals Spurs out of respect for the Stamford Bridge faithful.

Discussing reports that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy had made a move for the Special One after his first spell at Chelsea came to an end in 2007, Mourinho is said to have replied at the time: “Yes. I couldn't go. I couldn't train in England for two years.

“I would not take the job because I love Chelsea supporters too much,” he added.

Global Look Press

Times have clearly changed for both Mourinho and Spurs, as the three-time Premier League winner will seek to bring the silverware to North London that Pochettino, despite all his popularity, could never deliver.  

In a twist of fate, Mourinho will lead his new Spurs side to face former club Manchester United at Old Trafford on December 4, before hosting Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 22.  

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From ‘born winner’ to ‘disaster waiting to happen’: Football world reacts as Mourinho replaces Pochettino as Tottenham boss

November 20th 2019, 7:09 am

Swedish bank may face US probe over reported violation of sanctions against Russia

RT

US authorities are reportedly investigating whether one of Sweden's largest lenders, Swedbank, breached US sanctions targeting Russia as it allowed transactions between Russian arms producer Kalashnikov and its US-based namesake.

Swedish public broadcaster SVT claims that “major shareholders” of the Russia-based arms manufacturer Kalashnikov, which was targeted by US restrictions back in 2014, sent money to its counterpart headquartered in Pompano Beach, Florida. The latter produces guns based on Russian designs, but the parts originate from the US helping the company to avoid the blacklisting.

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SVT said that Swedbank allowed “major owners in Russian Kalashnikov” to send a loan of more than $1 million to the US-based arms producer. However, any financial operations between the two entities would violate Washington’s sanctions and the move could constitute a breach.

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The report claims that one of the main people involved in the operation was Russian billionaire Iskander Makhmudov, who was both a shareholder of Concern Kalashnikov and the biggest client of Swedbank’s Estonia branch. The money was reportedly received by “key people at Kalashnikov USA” as they controlled accounts at Bank of America where the transferred sum ended up.

The Russian businessman has never been a major shareholder of Concern Kalashnikov. In 2015 he bought 12.25 percent of the company’s stock, but sold his shares back in 2017, according to Forbes. A representative for Makhmudov told SVT that he has never controlled the arms firm and therefore isn’t subject to sanctions.

On Wednesday, Swedbank responded to the allegations saying that it is not aware of any violations of US sanctions against Russia. Meanwhile the lender continues to investigate a money laundering scheme earlier reported by the same broadcaster.

“If there has been unethical behavior ... we should of course get the bottom of it,” Swedbank CEO Jens Henriksson said in a statement, adding that the internal investigation is expected to be concluded early next year.

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

November 20th 2019, 6:39 am

Keeping an eye on Silicon Valley: RT’s Boom Bust explores Big Tech tricks to minimize tax bills

RT

A number of European countries have been lately pushing their own digital taxes for tech giants. The Czech Republic is now seeking to introduce a seven percent digital sales tax.

RT’s Boom Bust and Hilary Fordwich of the British-American Business Association talk about Europe’s tech tax proposals.The practice of the Big Tech to shift their profits around the world in order to minimize tax bills is “so common that it’s actually known as a double Irish Dutch sandwich,” she says.

Fordwich takes as an example Google, which is paying 26 percent taxes worldwide as a result of using such a scheme. The practice of taxing offshore royalty accounts results in a single digit rate, while small and mid-size companies are paying 50 percent, she says.

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

November 20th 2019, 6:39 am

New general election on the cards for Israel as kingmaker Lieberman refuses to endorse candidate for

RT

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

November 20th 2019, 6:39 am

‘Incredible sh*thousery’: Gareth Bale trolls Real Madrid with flag after Wales book spot at Euros

RT

Welsh winger Gareth Bale risked the wrath of club team Real Madrid as he trolled the La Liga giants after helping his country book a spot at the UEFA European Championships on Tuesday.

Wales beat Hungary 2-0 in Cardiff thanks to a double from Aaron Ramsey – the first of which was assisted by winger Bale.

But amid jubilant scenes in the Welsh capital Bale took time to take a dig at club team Real, where he has endured an unhappy few months after being deemed surplus to requirements by manager Zinedine Zidane only to see a mega-money move to China fall through.

Among the barbs aimed at the injury-prone Welshman by the Madrid press has been that he prefers playing golf to putting in the hours on the training pitch – and Bale played on that in savage fashion on Tuesday night as he posed by a flag taken from the crowd with the message “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order” written across it.

The barb was a reference to former Real player Predrag Mijatovic, who had told local media that “the first thing [Bale] thinks about is Wales, then golf and after that, Real Madrid. I haven't spoken to him but that's how he comes across."     

Bale turned out for Wales in the final two qualifiers despite not featuring for Real since early October due to calf problems.

He reportedly has the nickname ‘the golfer’ among Real teammates due to his love of taking to the fairways, and while his flag antics won't go down well with the Real Madrid faithful, his is unlikely to care given the way the four-time Champions League winner feels he has been treated by the club.

November 20th 2019, 6:24 am

NASA discovers alien SUGAR on board two fallen meteorites indicating possible origin of LIFE on Eart

RT

Scientists from NASA and three Japanese universities have found sugar molecules on two different fallen meteorites, greatly complicating our understanding of the possible origins of life on Earth.

Meteorites may have made these initial sugar deliveries to Earth, which include the RNA component ribose and other bio-essential sugars like arabinose and xylose, which are all fundamental and critical biological building blocks. 

Image of the asteroid Bennu captured by from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. © NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

It’s the first time direct evidence of sugar being delivered to Earth from space has been discovered. “The extraterrestrial sugar might have contributed to the formation of RNA on the prebiotic Earth which possibly led to the origin of life,” lead researcher Yoshihiro Furukawa of Tohoku University said.

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The carbon atoms found in the sugar were different from those typically found on Earth. However, despite being extremely careful to avoid contaminating the initial samples, the team is going to double check their findings by searching for additional ribose in future space rock samples, including those taken from the asteroid Ryugu that are currently en route back to Earth. 

The teams did not discover sugars for DNA, just key components of RNA, which serves as a messenger molecule, copying genetic guidelines from DNA and delivering them throughout the cell to trigger the construction of specific proteins.

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Many researchers believe RNA evolved first and was later replaced by DNA, as RNA boasts capabilities that DNA doesn’t have, such as independent self-replication as well as the ability to initiate or speed up chemical reactions. 

“If correct, meteorite bombardment on ancient Earth may have assisted the origin of life with a supply of life’s building blocks,” NASA explained.

A model of the molecular structure of ribose. © Yoshihiro Furukawa

The latest discovery could help unravel the ongoing mystery of how biology could have arisen from non-biological chemical processes here on Earth. The research was published Monday in the journal PNAS.

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November 20th 2019, 6:09 am

From ‘born winner’ to ‘disaster waiting to happen’: Football world reacts as Mourinho replaces Poche

RT

Jose Mourinho is back and the news that he will replace the sacked Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham has sent the football world into a frenzy. And as with all things Jose, opinions are wildly divided.

Spurs announced on Tuesday night that Pochettino had been sacked after five and half years at the club, and just months after the Argentine guided Spurs to their first ever Champions League final.

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Jose Mourinho appointed new Tottenham Hotspur manager

The 47-year-old had presided over what was seen as a gilded era for Spurs as they established themselves among the European elite. But, the Pochettino project ultimately failed to yield silverware of any kind, and increasingly soured as the team started this season in abysmal form, finding themselves 14th in the table and suffering the ignominy of a 7-2 home hammering by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Image-images

The Argentine’s exit has opened the door for the return of Mourinho, who was confirmed by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy as new boss on Wednesday morning on a reported £15 million a year.  

Walking into his first management job since he was axed by Manchester United 11 months ago, Mourinho said was “excited to be a joining a club with such great heritage and such passionate supporters.”

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with the players is what attracted me,” the 56-year-old former Real Madrid and Chelsea boss added.

Getty Images

But while the Tottenham players will welcome Mourinho to training on Wednesday, many first took time to pay tribute to the departing Pochettino – a man famed for his ability to forge strong personal bonds with players.

Forward Harry Kane penned a heartfelt message on social media saying he would be “forever thankful” to Pochettino for “helping me achieve my dreams.”

England midfielder Dele Alli also praised a man who had "taught me so much."

For Spurs fans and many pundits, despite the travils in recent months Pochettino was building something special at the club – and all on a shoe-string budget compared to their cash-rich rivals. 

Many looked warily at Mourinho's toxic final months at Old Trafford, accusing him of razing clubs to the ground in his relentless pursuit of titles.

But Mourinho is nothing if not a winner, having picked up league titles in every country he has managed in, as well as two Champions League titles.

Even his much-maligned tenure at Man Utd yielded a Europa League title and second-place Premier League finish.

For some, the arrival of the Special One meant guaranteed success for Spurs and an end to their wait for a first trophy of any kind since they won the League Cup in 2008.

First up for Mourinho will be a Premier League fixture away at London rivals West Ham on Saturday, before a home Champions League game against Olympiacos on Tuesday night. 

But most eagerly awaited will be a trip to Mourinho's former club Man Utd on Wednesday December 4 and when Spurs host Chelsea on December 22. 

Brace yourselves, the Special One is back. 

November 20th 2019, 5:54 am

Rafa to the rescue: Nadal leads Spain to victory over Russia in Davis Cup

RT

Spanish tennis icon Rafael Nadal led his squad to its first win in the revamped Davis Cup tournament, beating Russia 2-1 in their group stage encounter, to the delight of the home crowd in Madrid.

The world number 23 Andrey Rublev brought Russia hope to advance to the quarterfinals after he won a hard-fought victory over Roberto Bautista-Agut 3-6, 6-3, 7-6.

READ MORE: Flying start: Russia stun defending champions Croatia in Davis Cup opener

But it was the 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal who revived Spain’s chances to celebrate an overall win after he defeated Karen Khachanov in two sets 6-3, 7-6.

In the decisive doubles match, Khachanov and Rublev could offer nothing to their Spanish counterparts losing the game 6-4, 7-6, to give the hosts a 2-1 win.

The newly-established Davis Cup format divides 18 teams into six groups, with the group winners and two best-placed runners-up qualifying for the quarterfinals.

The winners of the Davis Cup, which now has a much shorter final format, will be crowned on Sunday, with the semifinals being scheduled for Saturday.

Earlier, Russia defeated defending Davis Cup champions Croatia 3-0.

November 20th 2019, 5:39 am

Ready to risk getting cancer or dementia to set foot on Mars? Main health concerns on your way to th

RT

Health problems are inevitable in space. You can develop cancer, lose muscle tone or suffer memory loss. The list is long, but the Red Planet appeal is strong. Do you have what it takes to survive a 6-month space trip to Mars?

NASA wants humans on Mars by 2035. Scientists are convinced the planet holds all the resources needed to establish a human colony, including water below the surface, and several sources of evidence to support the fact that there were once living creatures on the Red Planet.

However, from Earth to Mars there’s a six-month trek inside a spaceship. Although the experience can literally be described as out-of-this-world, there’s a long list of challenges associated with this trip. The people making this journey will have their names carved into history, but first they’ll have to face health risks nobody has ever faced before. Do you think you could have the mental and physical ability to cope with such journey?

The dangers of radiation: When sun cream is not enough

The first challenge in your trip is radiation. You can't see it, and you can't feel it, but rest assured that you're constantly getting bombarded by radiation. And this is not the kind of radiation we have on Earth, which can be blocked with a decent sun cream. Some forms of radiation in space can collide quite violently with everything in their path, tearing through plastic, metal and skin.

© Global Look Press / NASA

Virtually any part of your body is susceptible to radiation damage. Cancer is certainly one of the main worries, but there’s a myriad of other health problems, including cardiovascular problems, cognitive impairment and memory issues, to name just a few.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Researchers are working on ways to offer some protection against radiation, including new materials to block it, as well as innovative pharmaceutical approaches which may be more effective than shielding. One example already in operation is the Radiation Assessment Detector, which has been sent to Mars specifically to prepare for future human exploration. This device measures radiation in Mars, including not only from space but also any radiation derived from the interaction with the atmosphere and ground.

No gravity is dangerous to bones and muscles

Your second challenge is the lack of gravity. Both during spaceflights and on any future colonies in Mars, you will be exposed to a gravitational field much “lighter” compared to what we have on Earth.

It may sound fun to float around in zero-gravity, but this can be incredibly dangerous for your bones and muscles. Studies have found that after just 3 weeks in space, some muscles can shrink by as much as a third, and during longer missions, astronaut’s physical capacity decreased by 30 to 50%. All this because blood vessels are not as effective at transporting oxygen to the working muscle while in space. In practical terms, this means you should expect to get tired easily and to struggle to perform even the simplest tasks during your trip to Mars.

© Global Look Press / NASA

NASA recommends a 2-hour workout every day, but there’s another possibility which may appeal to many would-be astronauts. Researchers had very positive results with resveratrol, an anti-oxidant found in red wine, and suggest that a moderate daily dose could help mitigate muscle loss while in Mars.

Low gravity also messes up with blood circulation, as some astronauts stationed on the ISS found out. On Earth, gravity takes care of pushing blood down from the heart to the rest of the body, but in microgravity, however, blood doesn’t move the same way. For example, researchers found problems in blood circulation in several astronauts after just 50 days in space, with one of them even developing a case of thrombosis. There is no solution for this problem yet, but the high number of astronauts experiencing these problems is enough to warrant some further research.

Another problem with microgravity is that it can weaken how your body fights an infection. On your way to Mars, you may find yourself fighting unusual allergies and dealing with rashes you never had before. Standard measures such as vaccines and good nutrition go a long way to boost the immune system, and this is typically combined with using only pasteurized food and drink and strong air filters to help prevent spread of diseases. But even such efforts don’t seem to be enough and researchers continue to work on ways to mitigate these problems.

Microgravity can also affect your gut microbiome. For example, long periods aboard the International Space Station (ISS) were enough to wreck astronaut Scott Kelly’s gut microbiome, when compared to his Earth-bound twin brother Mark Kelly. Luckily these changes weren’t permanent, and, it may be that, when you set foot on a spaceship to initiate your journey to Mars, you already carry a long list of pre-, pro- and post-biotics to counteract these effects.

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How space travel can affect your brain

Finally, last but not least, there’s the impact of space travel on your brain. Interestingly, a team of international experts, including some from Russia, detected crucial changes in the brains of several cosmonauts after a long period in space. It turns out the brain adapts to microgravity by switching off the balance system in the ears, and putting more emphasis in visual and tactile feedback. You’ll know your brain has completed this switch when the feeling of sickness and vertigo finally goes away. This may seem harmless, but this kind of information is vital to develop ways to help people feel less sick in space and adapt faster to low gravity.

More worryingly is the risk of developing dementia or memory loss. Imagine if you go to Mars but can’t remember anything about your journey. Studies with mice found negative effects on the brain even 6 months after exposure to space conditions. There is some hope, however, in the form of pharmaceutical products aimed at protecting neurons. Researchers are not there yet, but work is underway.

Not ready yet, but working on it

The reality is that nobody is going to send you to Mars without knowing in detail how spaceflight can affect your body. However, such is the appeal of the Red Planet that the race is on to develop new ways to ensure a safe journey.

By Alex Reis, a science writer, with a particular expertise in the field of biology and natural sciences.

November 20th 2019, 5:39 am

Back to the future? 120-year-old photo of Greta Thunberg doppelganger sparks jokes about ‘time trave

RT

A 19th-century photograph of a young girl with an uncanny resemblance to Greta Thunberg has led to joking accusations that the climate activist is a time traveler. Surprisingly, no one asked if her time machine is eco-friendly.

Taken from the picture archives of the University of Washington, the black-and-white snapshot shows three children hard at work in the Yukon Territory in Canada, circa 1898. A girl standing in the foreground of the photo shares a remarkable similarity to the 16-year-old Swede, who is currently making a carbon-free sea voyage from North America back to Europe.

This can mean only one thing, according to facetious social media users: Greta Thunberg is a time traveler.

The photograph inspired a number of sensational headlines alleging that theories were spreading on the internet about Thunberg being an extra-terrestrial time traveler.

The girl in the old photograph looks so similar to Thunberg that the picture must surely be photoshopped, others theorized.

While the archived print is in fact genuine, Thunberg has been not-so-subtly edited into photographs in the past.

Last week, the Swedish activist was cropped into a photo showing floods in Venice, Italy. The provocative caption read: “I told you so,” suggesting that climate change was to blame for the natural disaster. The meme was slammed by many on social media as tasteless.

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November 20th 2019, 5:39 am

Android camera bug let hackers spy on users even if phone is LOCKED & screen is OFF

RT

Uncovered by a cybersecurity firm, an appalling flaw could turn Android-powered devices into spying goldmines, allowing hackers to secretly snap photos and record footage with no permission required.

No stranger to security loopholes, Android designers worked hard to bar apps from accessing cameras and mics, unless users give explicit permission by ticking corresponding boxes in the operating system’s properties. But a bombshell report by cybersecurity firm Checkmarx showed how trivial it is to bypass those restrictions.

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A “rogue application” found not only on Google’s Pixel smartphones, but also on devices from Samsung and other manufacturers, needed no permissions at all to have the camera take pictures and record videos as well as audio records.

Even worse, a hacker could silence the camera shutter to make recording unnoticeable. Hijacking a device was also possible if the phone is locked or the screen is turned off.

The app allowed attackers to remotely upload stolen images and footage to their own servers, requiring the frequently-given permission to access storage.

Disturbingly enough, the flaw, discovered in July but reported this Wednesday, enabled to hijack a phone’s proximity sensor which activates when the device is held up to a user’s ear or lies face down.

Checkmarx have demonstrated a bogus attack in a video it uploaded to YouTube.

It said that Google fixed eavesdropping weakness by releasing a security patch later in the month; Samsung followed suit, although it wasn’t clear when.

Android’s major rival, Apple’s iOS, isn’t free of malicious bugs either. Several days ago, iPhone users began complaining about the Facebook app that turns the camera on without their permission.

Aside from that, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp messenger, warned earlier in November that a system vulnerability allows hackers to send “a specially crafted MP4 file” to its Android and iOS users.

The bug appears to be similar to the one found out this spring, which was used by hackers to infect devices with malware, disguised as ordinary calls.

It has since been dealt with, but the cyberattacks caused controversy in India because over 20 local lawyers, journalists and human rights campaigners were among the 1,400 users affected by the hacks worldwide.

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November 20th 2019, 5:39 am

Abe becomes Japan’s longest-serving prime minister

RT

Shinzo Abe has entered the history books as Japan’s longest-serving premier, AFP reported. Wednesday marks Abe’s 2,887th day in office, topping the record previously set by Taro Katsura, a revered politician who served three times between 1901 and 1913.

Abe’s grip on power remains firm as the 65-year-old passes the landmark, with his tenure likely to last until at least September 2021 and no clear successor yet on the horizon.

The premier has plenty of unfinished business, saying earlier this year that he hoped to “take on the challenge to create a new country.”

He has reiterated his long-cherished ambition of revising Japan’s post-war constitution to change the status of the country’s self defense forces.

November 20th 2019, 5:39 am

Twitter says Conservative Party misled the public by rebranding as ‘factcheck account’ during electi

RT

The Conservative Party has been accused of misleading the British public by changing its Twitter to resemble an independent fact-checking organization during a televised election debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

Twitter said the Conservative Campaign Headquarters press office account, which has over 75,000 followers, misled the public with a last-minute rebranding of their social media account to 'FactCheckUK'. The face swap came complete with a white tick avatar against a purple background, and it took place as the televised election debate between Tory leader Boris Johnson and rival Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn began. 

Only users who clicked through the account itself would see the disclaimer: “fact checking Labour from CCHQ”

© Twitter / GCHQPress

"Twitter is committed to facilitating healthy debate throughout the UK general election," a Twitter spokesperson said.

"We have global rules in place that prohibit behavior that can mislead people, including those with verified accounts. Any further attempts to mislead people by editing verified profile information - in a manner seen during the UK Election Debate - will result in decisive corrective action."

The account reverted to the original branding once the debate had concluded. 

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The Tories are facing a deluge of criticism for the stunt. Google-funded fact-checking agency Full Fact labelled the rebrand “inappropriate and misleading,” while the Labour Party tweeted: "The Conservatives' laughable attempt to dupe those watching the #ITVDebate by renaming their twitter account shows you can't trust a word they say."

© Twitter / @CharltonBrooker

Black Mirror writer Charlie Brooker decided to mock the egregious and blatantly obvious trickery by changing his own Twitter profile, to the same Fact Check UK Branding, adding the tagline, “Fact checking and shit,” while also tweeting a reference to George Orwell’s 1984.

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November 20th 2019, 5:07 am

Serbia must keep buying gold to brace for crisis, President Vucic advises central bank

RT

The National Bank of Serbia has been instructed by President Aleksandar Vucic to continue boosting gold reserves in order to create an economic bulwark for the country.

“I think we’ll continue doing that because of what we see in which direction the crisis in the world is moving,” Vucic told reporters in Belgrade, citing slowing growth in the euro area which is Serbia’s top trading partner and main source of investment.

Vucic’s advice comes as the country added nine tons of the precious metal last month to increase its bullion reserves to more than 30 tons. Serbia’s gold holdings now make up ten percent of the country’s total reserves.

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Central bank Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic said the country paid about $434 million for the gold it bought last month, or $1,503 an ounce. Tabakovic said the acquisition is the latest in a series of moves to shore up financial stability by changing the structure of foreign debt and increasing the share of dinars and euros.Serbia’s gold buying follows the lead of central banks across the world, including top buyers Russia, China, and Turkey.

Global purchases of the precious metal totaled 547.5 tons in the third quarter of 2019. Analysts say the trend is likely to continue in the coming years due to heightened global tensions, currency wars, and the course of de-dollarization.

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

November 20th 2019, 5:07 am

China & Saudi Arabia launch joint naval exercise – reports

RT

China and Saudi Arabia have begun a three-week joint naval exercise, according to Chinese state media. The joint exercise at a Saudi Arabian naval base comes as tensions in the Gulf have risen over recent attacks on oil tankers and a major assault on Saudi energy facilities.

Beijing maintains close ties with Saudi Arabia, which is China’s top oil supplier to date, but it has also sought to strengthen ties with Iran, Reuters said.

The joint exercise was designed to build trust between the two sides to combat maritime terrorism and piracy, officials say.

November 20th 2019, 5:07 am

President Ghani claims victory over ISIS in Afghanistan

RT

Security forces have “obliterated” Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani has said. The statement came hours after a prisoner swap with Taliban insurgents raised hopes of a lull in violence in the country.

More than 600 IS fighters have surrendered with their families to the Afghan government in past weeks, Reuters reported. Airstrikes by Afghan and coalition forces, lack of funds and low morale have forced the group to give up, officials say.

“No one believed one year ago that we would stand up and today be saying we have obliterated” IS, Ghani told a gathering of elders and officials in Jalalabad on Tuesday.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s official spokesperson, said that the Kabul administration “had 0 percent role in defeat of [IS] and the proud people of Nangarhar are witnesses.” The Taliban, which has been battling IS and the government, controls more territory than at any point since the US invasion in 2001, including sections of Nangarhar province.

November 20th 2019, 3:50 am

Put on your anti-smog mask first: AirAsia India gives passengers flying to Delhi pollution protectio

RT

One of India’s no-frills airlines has expanded the range of masks available on board; in addition to one for oxygen, it will now give passengers masks to help cope with smog in the capital which recently hit toxic levels.

AirAsia India has started to hand out the anti-smog masks, free of charge, to those traveling to Delhi from large cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata. The air in the Indian capital is so toxic that deadly particles – known as PM 2.5 – can reach deep into the lungs, causing cancer.

Now, masks will help passengers to protect themselves from pollution even after the flight, the airline told the Times of India, saying the innovation is about giving passengers “the best in-flight experience.”

The campaign, however, is limited in scope as it is set to run until the end of November.

The low-cost airline isn’t the first company to seize on Delhi’s deteriorating air. Recently, “oxygen bars” have been spotted popping up across the city to help locals breathe more easily.

Customers pay between 299 and 499 rupees (around $4 to $7) for a 15-minute oxygen session, which features several fragrances such as orange, lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass or peppermint.

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The city’s staggering smog levels are blamed on an increase in road vehicles, construction, and industrial activity as well as the burning of rubbish and crops outside the capital.

Municipal authorities, struggling with tackling pollution, introduced the use of cleaner fuel, restricted traffic during certain hours, and closed some of the dirtiest power plants, but they seem to be losing the fight as the air quality keeps worsening.

Men walk in front of the iconic India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi © REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Earlier in November, Delhi was flagged as the most polluted major city in the world with an air quality index (AQI) of 527, according to an Air Visual ranking. This year, the air quality has been described as exceptionally bad, soaring to levels more than 20 times what the UN-run World Health Organization considers safe.

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November 20th 2019, 3:50 am

‘Needs improvement’ vs ‘beyond reproach’: Corbyn and BoJo weigh in on monarchy in wake of Prince And

RT

There are still unanswered questions in the wake of a shocking sex scandal that purportedly involved Prince Andrew, Jeremy Corbyn has said, following a disastrous interview in which the Duke of York denied the serious allegations.

The Labour Party leader was pressed about his thoughts on the royal family, and Prince Andrew in particular, during a televised election debate with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday.

Asked if Andrew was “fit for purpose,” Corbyn argued that focus should be put on helping Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, adding that there are “very, very serious questions that must be answered and nobody should be above the law."

He also said that the British monarchy “needs a bit of improvement.” His Conservative opponent insisted that “the institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach,” but stressed that “all his sympathies” were with the girls and women abused by Epstein and his cohorts. "The law must certainly take its course,” Johnson noted.

Some commentators on social media expressed bafflement at Johnson’s unwillingness to criticize the royal family, while others said Corbyn had been too soft on Andrew.

The Duke of York made a widely-derided appearance on BBC, in which he “categorically” denied allegations of sex abuse against a minor. One of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, claims she was forced into sex with Andrew between 1999 and 2002.

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November 20th 2019, 3:21 am

French police use ‘weapons of war’ against protesters: Journalist tells RT how tear gas grenade exp

RT

A French journalist recalled the terrifying moment when an explosive tears-gas grenade hit him at the Yellow Vest protest, telling RT that there was no justification for police employing combat tools.

The weekend marked one year since the Yellow Vest protests picked up in France, with independent journalist Julien being among the many reporters, covering the anniversary rallies in Paris.

It started peacefully, but things quickly got out of hand as the protest apparently got hijacked by a group of demonstrators in black outfits. “It was a real riot. Some scenes resembled urban guerilla warfare,” Julien later recalled.

© Ruptly

The rioters were blocking roads, building barricades and throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails at police. Julien remained in the crowd, filming the mayhem around him with a GoPro camera.

At some point, the reporter realized riot police have been whipped into a state of “panic.” They responded with a barrage of tear gas grenades and sting-ball ammunition, fired at the people almost indiscriminately.

© Ruptly

What happened next felt like a slow-mo scene from a war movie. One gas grenade landed near Julien, than another went off some three to five meters away from him, releasing thick white smoke into the air.

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“Then, apparently I was hit in the face [with a grenade]. It exploded right in my gasmask and smashed through its protective plexiglass visor. It felt like a strong punch in the nose. And after that I heard the grenade exploding.”

The shock, the pain and the burning were almost unbearable. The reporter instinctively removed his camera and tried running away. But he couldn’t make it more than five meters, helplessly collapsing on the pavement.

© Ruptly

Julien’s nose and upper lip were smashed by what he identified as a French-made GLI-F4 explosive tear gas grenade. “I watched this moment frame by frame later. There really was an explosion. The flash is clearly visible in my footage,” he recalled, confessing that the image of that flash is now haunting him and often reappears in front of his eyes.

The protesters around him rushed to Julien’s help as soon as they saw him fall down. “I’m really thankful for that,” he said. The reporter was carried into a safe place and emergency workers were called in.

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The man was diagnosed with a broken nose and taken to hospital together with other wounded demonstrators. “If I wasn’t wearing a gasmask I wouldn’t have gotten off so lightly,” he said. He was stitched up, with the doctor saying the blood tumor on his face will heal in a week.

But not everybody was that lucky. There was one man at the hospital who had huge problems with his eye after an injury similar to Julien’s. “I don’t know what his condition is now, but it’s a nine of ten chance that he had lost his eye.”

© Ruptly

The journalist said he was going to file a complaint with the police over what was done to him. However, he says has no high hopes that justice he deserves will be served. “I think that even with all the evidence I have, the probe will be terminated – like it happened in so many other cases.”

But Julien is eager to keep fighting until GLI-F4 grenade is removed from police arsenal. “Those munitions can seriously hurt the demonstrators and I’m not sure their use is justified, as actually it’s a combat tool,” he explained.

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November 20th 2019, 3:21 am

Former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho appointed new Tottenham Hotspur head coach

RT

Jose Mourinho has replaced Mauricio Pochettino, who was sacked on Tuesday, as Tottenham Hotspur manager and has signed a contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.

The former Manchester United manager takes over at Spurs, who currently sit in 14th place in the English Premier League and haven’t won in their last five games. The north London club’s chairman Daniel Levy praised Mourinho as one of the most successful managers in football.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me,” Mourinho said. “Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

The 56-year-old has not been attached to any team since being sacked by Man United in December 2018. He has turned down a number of jobs in China, Spain, and Portugal since then.

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November 20th 2019, 2:20 am

Helicopter crash kills 2 US troops in Afghanistan – military

RT

Two American service members have died after a helicopter crashed in Afghanistan, the US military has reported, adding that enemy fire was not to blame.

The incident happened on Wednesday at an undisclosed location in the war-ravaged country, according to a statement from the US-led Resolute Support operation’s command. The names of those killed have been withheld until their relatives are notified, it added.

Preliminary reports “do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire,” the military said. However, the incident happened just a week after a US convoy was hit by a suicide bomb while driving on the Kabul-Paktia highway. No casualties were reported, and no group claimed credit for the attack.

Currently, there are around 13,000 US troops deployed in Afghanistan. Earlier in November, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the deployment will likely last “several more years.”

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November 20th 2019, 1:04 am

‘He died in my hands’: 3 pro-Morales demonstrators killed in clashes with Bolivia’s police & soldier

RT

Three people have died during protests in Bolivia against the self-declared “interim” government that ousted Evo Morales, after violent clashes erupted between the socialist leader’s supporters and security forces.

In addition to the three fatalities at a fuel plant on Tuesday, Bolivia’s public defender’s office said another 30 people had been injured in the skirmishes, but added the exact circumstances of the deaths and injuries remained unclear.

Public Ombudsman Nadia Cruz’s office said the deaths were caused by gunshot wounds and called on the “interim” government to withdraw military units from all policing operations in order to reduce the violence.

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An Associated Press journalist in the area also reported hearing gunfire near the fuel facility in Senkata, which protesters have tried to block over the last five days in an attempt to shut down operations, as well as seeing a military helicopter flying over the plant.

A doctor on the scene told Ruptly that he tried to save one of the wounded demonstrators, but failed to do so.

“It’s a shame to see a comrade die in this way, because he died in my hands. Seeing it was a shot in the heart, how sad to see something like that,” the doctor said.

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November 20th 2019, 12:48 am

Wrong narrative? AFP & Reuters scrub story about 100,000 detained migrant children after UN says it

RT

Several news agencies have opted to delete a story stating that 100,000 migrant children were detained in US border facilities after the United Nations clarified that the number is years old – long predating the age of Trump.

After media outlets published stories trumpeting the 100,000 figure earlier this week, based on the word of UN refugee specialist Manfred Nowak, the expert was forced to correct his initial statement on Tuesday. As it turns out, the figure Nowak cited to reporters dates to 2015, meaning the dramatic number of detentions he revealed occurred under the watch of President Barack Obama, rather than Donald Trump, who is often assailed by progressive critics over his border policies.

Instead of issuing corrections, however, Nowak’s clarification prompted several outlets to withdraw their stories altogether, including Reuters and AFP, who both said no replacement story would be forthcoming.

At the time of publishing, AFP’s version of the story containing the outdated figure was still live on its website.

AFP's article citing an outdated figure provided by independent UN expert Manfred Nowak, who later corrected the year the data represents. ©  AFP screenshot

Once responsibility for the vast number of detentions was passed from Trump to Obama, however, Nowak decided to clarify further that the 100,000 figure referred to the cumulative number of migrant children detained at any point in 2015, rather than all at one time, another caveat he apparently forgot to explain to reporters previously.

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Despite frequent and vocal criticisms of President Trump’s border policies, his predecessor’s approach to immigration was not entirely different, even earning Obama the moniker of “Deporter in Chief.” During his first term, President Obama deported some 400,000 migrants each year, setting a record for himself in 2012 at over 409,000. President Trump, meanwhile, has deported fewer than 300,000 each year since taking office in 2017.

A widely-circulated photo showing migrant children locked in a cage is also often attributed to President Trump’s policies, but just like the figure presented by Nowak, it, too, dates to the Obama years.

A handful of netizens took notice of the abrupt reversal by the news agencies, some critical of the move to outright scrub the offending articles, rather than simply correcting them to reflect the facts.

“The appropriate action would be to correct the story and issue a retraction, not delete it,” one user suggested. “The fact that this self proclaimed ‘news agency’ is going to bury news because it didn't fit the narrative they've been tasked with dispensing encapsulates everything wrong with the press.”

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November 19th 2019, 11:34 pm

Beijing slams ‘hidden agenda’ behind HK ‘human rights act’ as US Senate votes unanimously in favor

RT

The Senate has approved a Hong Kong “human rights” bill by unified vote which would empower the State Department to grade the territory’s “autonomy” and levy sanctions on foreign officials if Washington deems it insufficient.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed through the Senate on Tuesday after a unanimous voice vote, following a similar unchallenged approval of a companion bill in the House in October. Both chambers of Congress are now set to reconcile the two different versions of the law before it goes to President Trump’s desk for a final sign-off, however the full support of both houses makes a veto unlikely.

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‘Emboldening radicals’: China fumes after US lawmakers approve Hong Kong ‘human rights act’

While the law has been hailed by Hong Kong’s protest movement, with activists flying to Washington in September to lobby Congress to vote in its favor, Beijing eviscerated the bill, calling it a “serious violation of international law.” In a statement on Tuesday the Chinese foreign ministry reiterated its staunch opposition to the bill, arguing that its aim is not to underpin democracy, but deter China by fanning extremist sentiment inside the country.

The aim is to bolster anti-China, extremist and violent radicals who attempt to disrupt Hong Kong, damage Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, so that they can contain China by making a fuss out of the Hong Kong issue, which is exactly the malicious intention of certain people.

The ministry said the bill seeks to misrepresent violent actions as in pursuit of human rights and democracy, and is driven by a “hidden political agenda.”

Sponsored by a bipartisan group of Senators including Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), the bill, if passed, would require the Secretary of State to issue an annual “certification” affirming that Hong Kong enjoys the proper amount of autonomy from Mainland China in a number of areas, though exactly how Washington will quantify such a thing remains a mystery. President Trump would also be asked to submit a report to Congress under the law outlining “each foreign person” he determines to be “responsible for ... gross violations of internationally recognized human rights in Hong Kong,” who will then be considered for sanctions.

A major backer of the bill, Senator Menendez celebrated its approval in a somewhat messianic tweet, calling it a “shot in the arm for the millions who have been patiently waiting for the US to once again serve as a beacon of light & solidarity in their push to defend their basic rights & autonomy.”

On the heels of the vote on the human rights law, the Senate passed a second bill on Tuesday, also unanimously, seeking to ban the export of certain riot control munitions to Hong Kong’s police force, including tear gas, pepper spray, stun guns and rubber bullets.

Hong Kong has been gripped by chaotic protests since March, initially over a now-withdrawn extradition bill which critics said would give too much power to the Mainland. The demonstrations have been marked by escalating violence, culminating this weekend in a massive police standoff at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where hundreds of protesters were arrested after barricading themselves inside the school.

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November 19th 2019, 11:18 pm

So much for the #Resistance! While all eyes were on impeachment hearing, House re-authorized PATRIOT

RT

House Democrats have slipped an unqualified renewal of the draconian PATRIOT Act into an emergency funding bill – voting near-unanimously for sweeping surveillance carte blanche that was the basis for the notorious NSA program.

A three-month reauthorization of the notorious PATRIOT Act was shoehorned into a last-minute continuing resolution (CR) funding the US government, bundling measures needed to avert yet another government shutdown with a continuation of the wildly-intrusive surveillance powers passed after the 9/11 terror attacks. Democrats voted almost unanimously for it, granting the far-reaching surveillance capabilities to the very same president they’re trying to impeach.

A roll-call vote on the bill was split exactly along party lines, with all 230 Democrats standing up for unconstitutional mass surveillance – including progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), who spoke out against it earlier. Two other Democrats opted not to vote, but not a single representative dared oppose party groupthink.

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Are we the baddies? NBC chief foreign correspondent tweets amazement to find US foreign policy not always great

Not only did Democrats unanimously stand for the bill, they backed the waiver of a rule that would have at least allowed members of Congress to read it.

Aside from renewing the PATRIOT Act for another three months and keeping Washington’s lights on, the bill hikes military pay and tosses extra funding to the Commerce Department and state highways. Republicans had hoped to pass a “clean” funding bill without add-ons of any kind, so their opposition to the measure did not necessarily hinge on its inclusion of the surveillance provision. Still, the PATRIOT Act was born from a Republican administration and its rejection by the same party, 18 years later, suggests a dramatic shift in the US political landscape.

It’s not just domestic surveillance that has driven Democrats and Republicans together. Despite the contrarian stance of the “Squad” and other outspoken #Resisters against President Donald Trump, House Democrats have largely gone along with Republicans in giving the president all the money he wants to wage war. Just 16 Democrats voted against the near-record ‘defense’ budget in July, a bloated $1.48 trillion over two years that dwarfs US defense spending at the height of the wars in Korea and Vietnam and gives the Pentagon more money than the rest of government combined.

Nor is Tuesday’s vote the first time Democrats have voted with, or to the right of, their colleagues across the aisle to back domestic surveillance programs, despite casually comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler and other fascist bogeymen.

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Even the creators of the PATRIOT Act didn’t expect the post-9/11 police state to last forever, and included a ‘sunset provision’ that would have allowed the bill to expire – to die a natural death, legislatively-speaking – when it has outlived its usefulness. Yet Congress has kept the program on life support for years, with bipartisan support.

With impeachment in full swing, mainstream media carefully avoided using the phrase “PATRIOT Act” in their coverage of the vote, aware that the measure that allowed the government to treat its citizens like terrorists doesn’t have many fans.

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November 19th 2019, 10:59 pm

Israel says it hit ‘dozens’ of Iranian & Syrian military targets in response to rocket fire

RT

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

November 19th 2019, 9:00 pm

Syria air defenses engage ‘hostile targets’ outside Damascus – state media

RT

Syrian air defenses have intercepted several “hostile targets” over southern Damascus, state news agency SANA reported. There have been no details as to the origin of the reported attack.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

November 19th 2019, 6:59 pm

2 arrested at NY university after protesters disrupt speech by Trump-decorated economist (VIDEO)

RT

Two left-wing activists were arrested after dozens of protesters interrupted a speech by economist Arthur Laffer at Binghamton University in New York, shutting down the event and drawing sharp condemnation from the school.

A Reagan administration adviser best known for his contributions to supply-side economic theory, Laffer was scheduled to address a conservative group at Binghamton on Monday when a crowd of demonstrators stormed the lecture hall to protest the event.

With many apparently seated in the audience and some wearing masks, the protesters erupted into cheers when one student stood to deliver a monologue on the injustices of the prison system through a bullhorn, grinding the lecture to a halt. Security guards soon arrived to clear away the protesters, prompting the crowd to erupt into chants of “free speech!” Two activists were arrested in the brief confrontation.

Though Laffer is a relatively tame figure in conservative economics circles – certainly lacking the anti-PC bombast of Milo Yiannopoulos or the hard right ideology of Richard Spencer – his acceptance of the Medal of Freedom from President Donald Trump last summer was likely enough to seal his fate in the minds of the student activists.

Binghamton University was unequivocal in denouncing the protest, stressing the principles of free speech and the exchange of ideas, and said it reserved the right to pursue charges or “disciplinary action” against any students involved.

“The University is incredibly disappointed with the events that happened tonight, particularly given that demonstrators were provided an adjacent lecture hall to engage in a counter discussion,” the school said in a statement. “The protestors chose instead to infringe on the expressive activity of others and to prevent those who wished to hear the speaker from doing so.”

As an institution of higher education, freedom of speech is fundamental to our core mission; academic inquiry and the exchange of ideas rest on the principle that all have a right to express their beliefs.

After a recent altercation between students at an outdoor tabling event hosted by the university’s College Republicans chapter – which also ended with a police response – the school took extra steps to boost security for the Laffer speech, relocating it to a larger venue and even providing space for counter-protests. It turned out that was not enough.

“Despite those measures, the lecture was immediately disrupted and the speaker was entirely prevented from addressing the audience led by an individual using a bullhorn,” the university said.

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The incident prompted New York state Senator Fred Akshar (R) to cancel his own scheduled speech at the university on Tuesday, commenting in a statement that the campus “has no longer become suitable for civic engagement,” which he blamed on a “leftist mob mentality and brute force intimidation.”

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November 19th 2019, 6:46 pm

The Guardian’s journalists are Kremlin and Qatari agents: Russian oligarch trolls newspaper after ‘e

RT

After a sensational headline in The Guardian dished the dirt on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s meeting with an “ex-KGB agent” in Italy, the Russian businessman involved has hit back, with some trolling accusations of his own.

“Boris Johnson met an ex-KGB agent during a highly controversial trip to attend a party two days after attending a high-level Nato summit that focused on Russia,” The Guardian reported on Sunday. No details of the meeting are revealed in the report, but through heavy use of context – the meeting took place last year, a month after the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury – it was nonetheless portrayed as a shady one. All that is put at the background of the delay in the publication of ‘Russia interference report.’

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The “agent” in question is billionaire Alexander Lebedev, but rather than some sort of secret agent of a long-defunct Soviet spy service, he is currently a British media mogul and an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Dear Guardian,”Lebedev tweeted on Tuesday, “I know you hate Johnson’s guts and dream of Corbyn in Downing St. Alas, you’re doomed. Let me assure you I have no influence on UK politics.”

“Can you pls leave me alone, or else -I can reveal from my former past that some Guardian journalists are FSB- and Qatar’s!-agents!!,” he continued, tossing out some of his own juicy spy conspiracies.

During the Cold War, Lebedev was indeed a member of the KGB, and was reportedly stationed at the Soviet embassy in London during the 1980s. After the collapse of the USSR, he amassed a fortune in the banking industry, and is now part owner of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and owns the British Evening Standard and The Independent with his son Evgeny.

He is not, however, a supporter of current Russian President Vladimir Putin. Novaya Gazeta is often critical of Putin, and wrote in a column on Sunday that he has never even met the Russian leader, and is not promoting his agenda. “Don’t judge me because I’m Russian,” he wrote, “judge me on what I’ve done for this country, and what I intend to continue to do.”

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Whether Lebedev’s activities will involve revealing the supposed Qatari and Kremlin paymasters behind the Guardian’s journalists, however, is at this moment a mystery known only to crack KGB agents like Lebedev.

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November 19th 2019, 6:16 pm

Monopoly? What monopoly? Big Tech defends itself from antitrust allegations with denial & doublespea

RT

Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple are pushing back against the US government’s antitrust investigations, downplaying their dominance of the tech sector, playing dumb, and staying quiet where they can’t obfuscate.

The Big Tech behemoths responded to written questions sent by the House Judiciary Committee - one of several antitrust probes targeting the four companies - with concerted efforts to tone down their monopolistic image - no easy feat for two trillion-dollar companies and two more that are approaching that figure. Answers were shared with reporters on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

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Google claimed that because “the vast majority” of clicks generated by a Google search go to websites not owned by Google, its near-complete hold on the search market - as a portal for 90 percent of all internet searches, its name has become a literal synonym for “to search the internet” - left plenty of room for competition. Google denied favoring its own services, such as YouTube, over rivals’ in searches, though one would be hard-pressed to find another video platform’s links under a Google video search.

Google’s massive data advantage in “vertical integration” of its advertising platform may allow it to target ads more precisely, but - the search giant claimed - it takes steps to “level the playing field,” giving its competitors a fair chance. Notably, it did not inform lawmakers of what those steps might be, or how it measured their effect. Last year, Google controlled 76 percent of the search ad market, a figure that was projected to grow to 80 percent this year - not leaving much room for competition.

The committee was unable to obtain much of the Google data it sought, as the megacorp pleaded ignorance of certain requested categories - i.e. claiming it lacked a “standard definition for what searches are considered ‘location searches’” when lawmakers asked to see how many searches displayed information about a business’ location.

Facebook similarly played hard to get, admitting it booted programs from its app developer platform if they mimicked a central function of Facebook and its subsidiaries too exactly, but refusing to be pinned down on this blatantly anti-competitive policy, merely stating that certain apps it removed had “violated its policies” in some unspecified way. Senators Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware), unsatisfied with the responses they received, requested more information on how and why the platform might slurp up users’ locations - especially if the users don’t want that data shared.

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Amazon, too, let slip a few morsels of anticompetitive behavior - the trillion-dollar corporation asks third-party merchants to lower their prices to undercut competing sites’ prices, something that could eventually drive smaller sellers, who can’t afford to forgo profit by taking part in a price war, out of business. The e-retailing giant admits it uses data aggregated from those merchants for “business purposes” on its own site, but denied weaponizing that data to push its own products into the market.

Tight-lipped Apple shared little by way of juicy details, claiming only two employees had availed themselves of its arbitration option, but hinted it had spent “billions” on its maps app to compete (in vain, it seems) with Google Maps.

The Judiciary Committee launched its antitrust probe in June, joining a handful of already-extant probes into the ‘big four’ tech companies’ seeming dominance of the market in search, social, shopping, and devices. Several politicians have threatened to break up the massive corporations, and it’s not clear - if the investigations do turn up any antitrust violations - how far-reaching the remedies will be.

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November 19th 2019, 5:28 pm

Pentagon & war-hawks agree: US troops should stay in Syria - 'because ISIS'

RT

The withdrawal of American troops from Syria has set the stage for a return of Islamic State, claims a new Pentagon report. The report aligns the Pentagon with war-hungry lawmakers who opposed the withdrawal from the outset.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Defense Department’s Inspector General warns that without a US presence in northeastern Syria, the terror group will “likely be able to rebuild and carry out more sophisticated operations.”  

The withdrawal from Syria – where the US has no legal right to be in the first place – is only a partial one, with some troops and assets remaining behind to deny Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and the Syrian government access to vital oil. In the eyes of the Pentagon, however, it’s a bridge too far.

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Citing information from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the report states that IS has “activated sleeper cells” to attack the Kurdish militias now left opposing them, and with the Kurds also fending off a Turkish incursion, has the “time and space” to plan attacks in the West.

IS, it says, will “probably...build clandestine networks” and attempt to free its prisoners held in Kurdish prisons.

A damning indictment of Trump’s withdrawal plan, but one lacking in specifics. For one thing, IS’ territorial gains since 2014 have been completely rolled back, first by the US air campaign, and then by Russian intervention from 2015 onwards. Secondly, the oil that IS depended on to fund its caliphate is now in American hands, with several hundred mechanized troops staying behind to protect oil fields in the country’s northeast.

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The Pentagon is not alone in criticizing Trump’s pullout. A bipartisan chorus of lawmakers accused the president of “abandoning” America’s Kurdish allies when US forces withdrew from northeastern Syria, and hawkish Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) called the withdrawal “the biggest mistake” of Trump’s presidency. Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stated last month that the resurgence of IS is “absolutely a given” without American forces in Syria to prevent it.

The resurgence of IS is dependent on more than just the American presence. Syria’s government and its Russian allies are still poised to take on the terror group, as are Kurdish militias. The consternation over Trump’s withdrawal therefore seems more like worry among military officials that the US won’t be around to oversee the fight for itself.

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November 19th 2019, 5:28 pm

Ukraine interfering in US elections is not a ‘Russian narrative’ but a US media one

RT

Mainstream US media outlets and impeachment witness Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman have called stories of Ukrainian influence in the 2016 US election a conspiracy theory pushed by Russim president. Evidence shows otherwise.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Vindman – a National Security Council staffer – argued that any Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election is “a Russian narrative promoted by [President Vladimir] Putin,” rejected by the entire US intelligence community.

This appears to be a reference to what President Donald Trump brought up in the July phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky – which Vindman raised alarms about – involving a “server” supposedly physically located in Ukraine and somehow involved in the alleged hack into the Democratic National Committee emails. It was unclear from the transcript of the call whether Trump was referring to the actual DNC server that US authorities were never allowed to examine, or a server from which the alleged hack originated.

Rather than being a “Russian narrative,” however, the story about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election has been widely reported in mainstream US outlets – the same ones that have pushed the “Russian meddling” conspiracy for years. It doesn't deal with the server, either, but with Ukrainian officials releasing documents to hurt Trump.

In December 2018, a court in Ukraine convicted two officials – parliamentarian Sergey Leshchenko and Director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) Artem Sytnyk – for releasing the documents in 2016 showing payments made to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who had worked as a lobbyist for Ukraine’s previous government.

Sytnik’s release of the documents “resulted in meddling in the electoral process of the United States in 2016 and damaged the national interests of Ukraine,” said the Kiev District Administrative Court, according to the New York Times

In July this year, the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeals overruled that verdict on two technicalities – after Leshchenko argued that the statute of limitations in the case had expired and that the MP who filed the case, Boryslav Rozenblat, lacked standing. That’s according to the Kyiv Post, a Ukrainian newspaper.

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Far from promoting the narrative of Ukrainian meddling, however, when asked about it in July, Putin seemed to dismiss it as actions of individual oligarchs. He refused to speculate whether anti-Trump activities were a government effort. 

I do not think that this could be interpreted as interference by Ukraine.

It was US officials critical of the Trump presidency who seemed to agree with the Russian president over the course of the impeachment hearings – repeatedly shrugging off any suggestion that any actions by the Ukrainians might have amounted to influencing the election. 

Marie Yovanovitch, US ambassador to Ukraine recalled by Trump this spring, said she “didn’t believe the charges” against Leshchenko and Sytnyk and thought them “politically motivated” – echoing Leshchenko’s arguments. State Department official George Kent confirmed he was “aware of pressure” by the US embassy on Ukrainian authorities to drop the investigations into Leshchenko and Sytnik. He did not think this was inappropriate, though. 

Asked about an anti-Trump op-ed by Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington and social media comments by Ukraine’s Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov, Vindman rejected the notion this was meddling, arguing that real instances of election interference were “not open public displays.” 

Rather than being clearly defined, it appears that both “election interference” and “improper” impeachable conduct are entirely in the eye of the beholder – in this case, the US officials knee-deep in the impeachment proceedings.

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November 19th 2019, 5:28 pm

What do ’Christmas ornaments, drywall, & Epstein’ have in common? Senator demands answers on prison

RT

Americans aren’t buying the claim that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide alone in his jail cell under the watchful eye of the Bureau of Prisons, a Louisiana senator has warned the agency’s director with a rather unusual quip.

Christmas ornaments, drywall, and Jeffrey Epstein – name three things that don’t hang themselves,” Senator John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) declared during a Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, clarifying that he wasn’t the only one who saw a resemblance between the objects and the supposedly suicidal pedophile: “That’s what the American people think!

Kennedy urged Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Kathleen Sawyer to be honest with the nation about how Epstein met his end – and to pressure the FBI, Inspector General and other parties investigating Epstein’s death to do the same. “Tell the American people what happened.

Nor was Kennedy the only senator to question the official story regarding Epstein’s death. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) alluded to celebrity pathologist Michael Baden’s view that Epstein was strangled and marveled aloud at how Manhattan Correctional Center’s (MCC) cameras could go dark around Epstein’s cell just in time to miss his suicide.

Given that the security cameras malfunctioned that night, how can we be sure that he did kill himself?” Lee pressed. Sawyer admitted she was not allowed to see the cameras from Epstein’s cell and that she did not know when she would have access to the footage, but pledged MCC would have all new, functional cameras installed by next year.

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Two MCC guards were arrested Tuesday morning and charged with conspiring to falsify jail records. According to their indictment, they hadn’t seen Epstein for eight hours before discovering him dead at breakfast time with a noose around his neck, having spent the night at their desks napping, surfing the internet and forging paperwork instead of making the rounds and checking on prisoners.

While Epstein potentially faced decades in jail for allegedly trafficking and sexually abusing a multitude of young girls, he was reportedly in cheery spirits up until his death, convinced he would beat the rap, according to his lawyers. The criminal case against him has been dropped, but several of his victims have filed lawsuits against his estate.

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November 19th 2019, 3:24 pm

UN torture envoy demands ‘full accountability & compensation’ after Sweden drops rape probe against

RT

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on torture has called for a “full investigation” into the role Sweden played in driving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange into asylum and eventual custody, after the rape case against him was dropped.

Swedish prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they would drop a dubious rape inquiry against Assange, as oral testimony against the publisher had “weakened,” and corroborating evidence was not strong enough to pursue a case. A Swedish arrest warrant was issued against assange in 2010, and a British court upheld a decision to extradite him in 2012. Threatened with what many saw as a politically motivated extradition, Assange sought refuge in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

“Today’s collapse of Sweden’s #Assange investigation was inevitable,” rapporteur Nils Melzer tweeted on Tuesday. “Given its gross arbitrariness, there must now be a full investigation, and accountability & compensation for the harm inflicted on #JulianAssange.”

Melzer had previously claimed that Assange was subjected to “psychological torture” and had his due process rights “systematically violated” by the governments of Britain and Sweden. The WikiLeaks founder is still languishing in a maximum security unit at Belmarsh prison, awaiting a hearing on extradition to the US, where he potentially faces 175 years behind bars for publishing leaked military documents.

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In a document tweeted by Melzer, the envoy accuses Sweden of “actively and knowingly” contributing to Assange’s torture, and accuses prosecutors there of working in tandem with Britain’s Crown Prosecutorial Service to keep the case against Assange alive in the face of exculpatory evidence.

With the rape case against him dropped, some commentators have warned that the path to extradition to the US may now be clearer. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told supporters that their focus should now shift to the most important “threat” that Assange was "warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment."

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November 19th 2019, 3:13 pm

‘We should thank & cherish CIA,’ says star of ‘Jack Ryan’ – just maybe not for torture, coups & mind

RT

Americans should be thankful for the services the CIA provides, ‘Jack Ryan’ actor John Krasinski says. After all, without the agency, who would prop up foreign dictators, stage coups and ‘play’ with mind-control drugs?

In three decades between the publication of ‘The Hunt for Red October’ in 1984 and his death in 2013, Tom Clancy pumped out more than 20 books, giving lots of material for spy agency fanboys.

At long last though, there’s someone out there who gets even more tumescent at the thought of clandestine criminality than Clancy himself. Actor John Krasinski – star of ‘The Office’ and now ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’ – came out and told reporters before the release of season 2 that “The CIA is something that we should all not only cherish, but be saying thank you for every single day.”

Unlike the FBI, the CIA is not tasked with fighting crime in America. It doesn’t spend its time tracking murderers and busting pedophile rings. Instead, the agency often operates in the shadows abroad, and while its officers do foil terror attacks and intercept shipments of weapons of mass destruction, the agency has also been referred to by journalist Douglas Valentine as “the organized crime branch of the US government.”

So, to be thankful for the agency’s work means also to be thankful for a sordid history of highly controversial actions.

Coups and torture allegations

Among them are more than 50 attempted coups. Some, like the 1961 ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion of Cuba were abject failures. Others, like the overthrow of democratically-elected Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973 were successful, much to the horror of the tens of thousands of Chileans who were arrested, tortured, or extrajudicially murdered by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet that followed.

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If coups d’etat aren’t your thing, then how about wacky mind control experiments? Maybe one can be thankful for MKULTRA, a Cold War-era program that saw human guinea pigs, some of them unconsenting, subjected to hypnosis, psychoactive drugs, sensory deprivation and torture, all in the name of forcing confessions through mind control. The program was supposedly shut down in 1973. The agency had failed to control the human mind, yet it apparently succeeded in engineering six remote-control dogs.

The agency’s worst excesses were not abandoned after the fall of communism either. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the CIA kidnapped and tortured terror suspects around the world, sometimes holding them for years on end with no trial. Current director Gina Haspel is accused by rights groups of running at least one ‘black site’ in Thailand, where detainees were reported to have been held in conditions compared to a medieval “dungeon,” and at least one inmate was waterboarded almost to death.

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Many of those abducted were done so based on phony intelligence, or even because they shared a name with a known suspect, former CIA officer Amaryllis Fox recalled in her memoir, published last month. Agency higher-ups knew about the mistaken identities, but were unwilling to fix the problem, Fox recounted.

A CIA infomercial

Speaking at the same meet-and-greet session, Krasinski told his audience that he jumped at the chance to visit the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and ask the agents how “they would like their character to be perceived.”

“Not as torturers” was evidently the response. Season 2 of ‘Jack Ryan’ has been called an “infomercial for the CIA,” and “Amazon's big budget CIA recruitment video.” Reviewers at the Los Angeles Times called it “a strangely positive spin” on the CIA’s interference in Latin American democracies.

The plot sees the titular CIA analyst dispatched to Venezuela to stop the country from acquiring nuclear weapons. By its conclusion, only the installation of a Washington-backed government, aided by a CIA-funded military, stops Ryan from assassinating President Nicolas Reyes – a stand-in for Venezuela’s real-life socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

Hitting the screens just months after the Trump administration declared its support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, and as talk of an invasion circulated in Washington, Venezuela’s cultural minister called the trailer for season 2 “crass war propaganda disguised as entertainment.”

By all accounts, ‘Jack Ryan’ is a serviceable, if formulaic, spy series. But maybe it’s best to enjoy it for the “crass” action that it is, and not be head over heels thankful for the work of the agency that inspired it. Leave that to the likes of John Bolton, who in all likelihood has spent his time since his sacking from the Trump administration binge-watching the season on repeat, surrounded by candy wrappers and used tissues.

By Graham Dockery, RT

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November 19th 2019, 2:13 pm

UN decries ‘extreme violence’ by Hong Kong protesters amid fears of further escalation

RT

The UN Human Rights Office said it was gravely concerned by increased violence on the part of some ‘very angry’ protesters in Hong Kong, urging accountability for both the wrongdoers and police using excessive force in response.

“The resort to extreme violence, including against the police force, by some engaged in the protests... cannot be condoned,” spokesman Rupert Colville told a journalist in Geneva.

The statement came after the anti-government protesters, holed up in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, used Molotov cocktails, arrows and bricks to repel the attempts by police to remove them from the premises.Law enforcement threatened to employ live ammo to restore order.

Those attacking the officers were “clearly very angry” people “with deep-seated grievances,” Colville said. There should be accountability for their actions as well as “in the case of allegations of excessive use of force by the police.”

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The spokesman warned that there was risk of further escalation of the situation in Hong Kong, where thousands have been protesting since summer against the central government in Beijing, urging all sides “to renounce and condemn the use of violence.”

Colville also said that the authorities should engage in dialogue with the protesters to find a peaceful solution to the crisis and address the humanitarian situation of the some 100 people still remaining at the university.

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November 19th 2019, 1:54 pm

‘We have our own problems’: Ukrainian president says country is ‘sick’ of impeachment drama

RT

As impeachment mania grips the US, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed a question from CNN about whether he would open an investigation into the Biden family, saying people in Ukraine are “so tired” of the scandal.

Zelensky, who has found himself at the center of the seemingly never-ending political saga, was visibly annoyed when asked by a CNN reporter if he would launch an investigation over claims that former US Vice President Joe Biden had pressured a Ukrainian prosecutor to drop a corruption probe into the Burisma natural gas company where his son Hunter sat on the board.

“I think everybody in Ukraine is so tired about Burisma,” Zelensky told the reporter, according to Politico.

We have our own country. We have our independence, we have our problems and questions. That's it.

Nudged to respond further by the journalist, Zelensky simply rolled his eyes and walked away with his aides.

The ongoing impeachment inquiry is focused on whether US President Donald Trump offered Zelensky a “quid pro quo” of military aid in return for an investigation into Biden, as a way to damage the 2020 presidential contender.

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Kiev officials themselves have denied the “quid pro quo” or any “direct link” between a possible probe and US aid — and the White House has released transcripts detailing Trump’s exchanges with the Ukrainian leader — but that hasn't dulled Democrats' desires to have the president impeached regardless. 

Trump himself has branded the charade a “phony Impeachment Witch Hunt.”

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November 19th 2019, 1:43 pm

Maradona quits as boss of Argentine club Gimnasia after just 2 months in charge

RT

Diego Maradona has quit as manager of Argentine top-flight team Gimnasia after just two months in charge, the club’s president has confirmed.

The footballing icon decided not to take training on Tuesday amid rumors he was due to leave his post with the club lying 22nd in the Superliga table and four points off the bottom. 

Club president Gabriel Pellegrino confirmed Maradona’s departure on Tuesday, which is said to be tied in with Pellegrino's decision not to stand for reelection.

Maradona, 59, oversaw just eight games in charge of the club, winning three and losing five.

The exit of the former World Cup winner continues a succession of short-lived spells as a manager. Maradona left Mexican second-tier side Dorados in June, citing health issues, having taken over the previous September.  

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November 19th 2019, 1:24 pm

Moscow condemns US plans to end sanctions waiver over Iran’s Fordow nuclear site

RT

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday resolutely condemned the statement of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the previous day that the US is terminating the sanctions waiver related to Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant. “There is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site,” Pompeo said.

Washington’s intentions are a blatant violation of international obligations, the Russian ministry said. Taking into account the US statements, a substantial reaction from the Commission on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will be required, according to the statement.

Moscow hopes that European colleagues “will find the strength to go beyond the duty regrets about the US actions and together with us and China to defend the JCPOA,” the ministry said. It added that the Fordow project, as well as others important elements of the Iran nuclear deal, should be protected “from US sanctions attacks.”

November 19th 2019, 1:13 pm

'P*ssy African!' Paulo Costa steps up ugly war of words with UFC middleweight champ Adesanya

RT

UFC middleweight contender Paulo Costa has reignited his war of words with world champion Israel Adesanya by calling the Nigerian-born New Zealander a "p*ssy African."

Adesanya won his UFC middleweight world title in October with an outstanding second-round knockout of Robert Whittaker. The fight took place in Melbourne, Australia and broke the company's previous attendance record with 57,127.

As soon as Adesanya produced the knockout, he got up on the side of the Octagon fence and gestured towards Costa, who was in the crowd, eager to get onto the canvas to exchange words with his 185 pound rival.

It was thought that the two would fight next, with Costa having picked up a decision win over Yoel Romero at UFC 241 in August, but the Brazilian has since been ruled out of action for eight months with a bicep injury.

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Despite all of that, and UFC president Dana White's insistence that something else was being worked on for Adesanya's next fight, a now-deleted tweet appeared on Costa's account about his undefeated rival.

"Adesanya is afraid, into himself knows. He try looks good but everybody so skinny and fragile as him fell afraid to fight against powerful guys. P*ssy African!" the tweet read.

One fan replied to Costa with: "Haha wouldn't recommend picking a fight with all of Africa."

Costa quickly fired back with an even more aggressive response, also since-deleted, reading: "I wanna kill only 1 African. That skinny bigmouth."

Adesanya has an array of opponents on the table he could fight next, including Romero, England's Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.

The 30-year-old has spoken about all three and Adesanya wants to fight Romero next, according to White, even though he finds Cannonier the second-most dangerous middleweight in the division, behind himself of course.

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“100 percent I’m looking at him,” Adesanya said about Cannonier. “He’s a beast in the division. He’s the dark horse in the division. He’s the guy everyone is sleeping on but you can’t sleep on him because you’ll get put to sleep.

“I think he’s the guy, the second most dangerous guy in the division behind myself. I look forward to fighting him after his next fight.”

But it was clearly his comments about Costa which got 'Borrachinha' heated on social media.

Adesanya added: "He would try to trash talk me in his broken English, and I would embarrass him on the mic, and then eventually I’d embarrass him on the mat. So that was already set in stone that it was going to be glorious."

An eventual clash between Costa and Adesanya would not only be a battle for UFC middleweight supremacy, but also one between two undefeated stars of the sport, with the former's record at 13-0, while the latter has 18 wins with no losses on his resume.

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November 19th 2019, 1:13 pm

UK PM Boris Johnson thanks ‘wonderful people’ he met when campaigning, after several asked him to le

RT

Boris Johnson was all Twitter-smiles on Tuesday, thanking the “wonderful people” he met during the ongoing campaign for their support, light-heartedly erasing his recent encounters with critics from the memory.

Prime-minister’s misfortunes of last week started in Yorkshire, in the north of England, where he came last Wednesday for face-to-face meetings with the victims of recent floods. Yet, he faced a barrage of questions over whether enough had been spent on flood defenses and why voters in the affected areas should support him.

One woman told Johnson she “was not very happy about talking to him” and that she would rather “just motor on with what she was doing,” before walking away.

“You’ve not helped us,” she said.

The next day, the prime-minister was most probably not expecting anything to go off track when he was set to visit a bakery in Glastonbury, Somerset. The plan was scrapped at the last minute due to security concerns, as Extinction Rebellion protesters gathered outside the bakery chanting “he hasn’t got the balls” and holding banners reading “Tory policy kill”, while a guitarist nearby sang “The Boris Blues.”

On Saturday, Johnson visited the scene of a huge fire that happened a day before at the block of student flats in Bolton. It left two people injured, some 200 students displaced and prompted talks about the “lessons of Grenfell not learnt.”

The prime minister was told to leave a support hub for evacuated students by a man who exclaimed “how dare you come up here a day late”, showing him the way to an exit. Johnson walked past the angered man to talk to others, including students and university staff.

The United Kingdom will hold a general election on December 12, after members of Parliament backed Johnson's bid for a snap poll.

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Boris backs off his Russia-bashing rhetoric when it comes to discussing Tory Party donors

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November 19th 2019, 1:13 pm

‘Big Brother’ state? Spain begins tracking mobile phones in controversial study to better public ser

RT

Millions of Spaniards are being tracked on their mobile phones this week as part of a controversial government study designed to gather information about where citizens are traveling and when in order to “improve public services.”

The National Statistics Institute (INE) has assured people that the eight-day project is completely “anonymous” — but that hasn’t stopped concerns being raised over the ‘spy state’ and ‘big brother’ style privacy issues.

Spain’s three largest mobile phone operators — Movistar, Vodafone and Orange — are taking part in the project, and insist they are not breaking the law by handing the data over to the government. The three companies account for almost 80 percent of mobile users in Spain.

The INE will first track peoples’ movement between 18-21 November, and then again on November 24, Christmas Day and July 20 and August 15, 2020.

With the information available, it will be possible, for example, to see “how many mobiles there are at 5 PM on a particular street in any city of more than 15,000 people, but no more than that,” the INE told El Confidencial.

To conduct the research, the agency has divided the country into 3,200 cells, with over 5,000 people in each one. Trackers will be able to figure out how many phones there are in each cell at certain times throughout the day. First, phones will be analyzed between midnight and 6 AM in order to decipher where phone users live — and then again between 9 AM and 6 PM to discover where they work or go during the day.

The results will be used in the 2021 census and will reveal which daily travel routes are most used, which locations are most common for holiday vacations, as well as information on how many people work or study long distances from their homes. The government will pay each of the three major operators about €500,000 each to gain access to the valuable information, it is reported.

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Unsurprisingly, the plan hasn’t exactly been received well by many Spaniards on social media.

“I have not given you my consent, you are robbing me with the corresponding profit of the telephone companies,” one person wrote, advising Spaniards to seek out phone companies not taking part in the study.

One tweeter responded to an INE post about the study with details of his schedule for the day "to make life easier for Big Brother,” while others said that if the government wanted information on citizens’ travel for the census they should “ask” for it, rather than “steal” it through such a study.

Some people advised that they would put their phones on airplane mode during the study. Spanish media has also published information explaining how phone users can avoid being tracked at the allotted times.

In order to be exempt from the study, people must visit the website belonging to their phone provider and “expressly request” that their data not be included, one website explained. Alternatively, people can simply turn off their phones, remove their SIM cards or, as some tweeters suggested, switch to airplane mode.

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November 19th 2019, 1:13 pm

Prison guards who SLEPT through Jeffrey Epstein’s jailhouse suicide charged with conspiracy and fals

RT

Two prison workers who allegedly slept through notorious sex predator Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide were arrested and charged with falsifying jail records to cover up their failure to check on the prisoner as he died in his cell.

Tova Noel and Michael Thomas face federal charges in connection with the lapse in guarding their high-profile prisoner, according to an indictment filed with Manhattan District Court on Tuesday. They have been arrested and charged with conspiracy and falsifying records. At least one of them was offered a plea deal several days ago but turned it down, according to CNN.

Instead of checking on prisoners, Noel and Thomas spent the night browsing furniture and motorcycles online, napping, and forging multiple rounds’ worth of paperwork, the indictment claims. Neither guard laid eyes on Epstein for eight hours, but when he was discovered dead at around 6:33am, they only admitted to skipping two rounds of prisoner checks.

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Epstein’s death: A mystery that may end up rivaling JFK assassination?

The dozy guards are the first to be charged with a crime related to Epstein’s mysterious death in his cell at Manhattan Correctional Center, amid an unprecedented amount of camera malfunctions and apparent human incompetence on the morning of August 10.

Tasked with checking on him every 30 minutes, the guards instead reportedly fell asleep for at least three hours, recording false checkups they did not actually perform. One of the “guards” was not actually working in corrections at the time, but had been temporarily reassigned from another position, and both were said to be working overtime, one for five straight days. They were placed on administrative leave a few days after their apparent trickery was discovered.

Following Epstein’s death, Attorney General William Barr demanded a “thorough investigation” of alleged “serious irregularities” at the jail, which previously had a reputation for being “tougher than Guantanamo Bay.” The financier was taken off suicide watch shortly before he died, despite having already been found unresponsive on the floor of his cell once - also by Thomas - and had his cellmate transferred just hours before he was found dead.

While Barr warned that “co-conspirators should not rest easy,” the prosecutor in the case - in which the jet-setter allegedly sexually abused dozens of girls and trafficked them to powerful men, possibly for blackmail purposes - formally closed it less than a month after Epstein’s demise in the absence of a defendant. However, several of his victims are suing his estate.

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US Congress cracks down on ABC News for ‘Epstein coverup,’ demands to know WHO killed the story and WHY

Epstein’s alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, has not been spotted in months, aside from a few false alarms. While politicians have declared Epstein’s victims “deserve justice,” no one seems willing to do what’s necessary to deliver it to them. The convicted sex offender moved in exclusive circles, hosting boldface names including current and former US presidents Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Hollywood royalty like Woody Allen and Kevin Spacey, and actual royalty like Britain’s Prince Andrew, at his lavish residences and on his private plane, nicknamed the Lolita Express.

Public interest in the wealthy pedophile’s mysterious demise got a shot in the arm last month, after celebrity pathologist Michael Baden declared on Fox News that Epstein’s injuries likely stemmed from “homicidal strangulation” and Project Veritas released a ‘hot mic’ tape in which an ABC anchor excoriated the network for shelving her interview with one of Epstein’s victims, suggesting ABC execs were implicated in Epstein’s crimes. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has demanded answers from the network about why the story was killed.

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November 19th 2019, 1:13 pm

Yemen's Houthi rebels seize one Saudi, two S. Korean vessels

RT

Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized a Saudi-flagged tug and two South Korean vessels at the weekend, the insurgents and officials in Seoul said on Tuesday. The incident follows a lull in Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia as one Riyadh official said the kingdom had established an “open channel” with the rebels in a bid to end the four-year conflict, AFP reported.

The Houthis acknowledged they had seized three ships, including a Saudi one, in the Red Sea a few miles off Uqban island, west of the rebel-held capital Sanaa. The three ships were seized after they entered “territorial waters without prior notice,” the rebels said.

According to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, a South Korean dredger was being towed by one Korean and one Saudi-flagged tug when they were seized by the Houthis. It added that a total of 16 crew, two of them South Korean, had been taken to the Red Sea port of Saleef, where they were being held by the rebels. “All of our citizens… are healthy and safe,” officials said.

The Saudi-led military coalition backing Yemen’s internationally recognized government accused the rebels of “hijacking” the Rabigh-3, which a global tracking website described as a Saudi-flagged vessel.

November 19th 2019, 1:13 pm

US defense chief Esper urges ‘very public posture’ on Beijing’s S. China Sea claims

RT

The US defense chief on Tuesday urged governments “affected” by Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea “to take a very public posture” and assert their sovereign rights, AP reported.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper raised concerns over China’s actions in the disputed waters in a news conference after meeting his Philippine counterpart, Delfin Lorenzana, in Manila, his latest stop in an Asian tour. Acting collectively is the best way to send a message “to get China on the right path,” according to the US official.

In an Asian defense meeting that he attended in Thailand, Esper said most participants were “very concerned about China’s excessive claims” and its “lack of compliance” with international laws and norms. The meetings were led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Four members of the 10-nation bloc have been embroiled in the territorial rifts along with China and Taiwan.

In Bangkok, Esper met his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Fenghe, on Monday. A spokesman for the Chinese Defense Ministry told reporters that the South China Sea disputes were among numerous issues discussed by the two officials.

November 19th 2019, 10:51 am

Russian bear-wrestling murder convict Maxim ‘Mad Max’ Novoselov confirmed for fight return

RT

He was recently seen wrestling a bear in Siberia but Russian MMA fighter Maxim ‘Mad Max’ Novoselov will return to action against human opposition in Moscow at the end of November, it has been confirmed.

Novoselov, 46, will face fellow sambo specialist Alexey Goncharov on the undercard of an event organized by Russia's RenTV, and which will be headlined by a boxing contest between Alexander Emelianenko – brother of MMA legend Fedor – and powerlifter Mikhail Koklyaev.

The full details of Novoselov’s bout are still under wraps, although it will be his first serious action since he defeated Aleksandar Aleksic via first-round TKO at Fight Championship Aslan back in June.

Since then, the 6ft, 250lbs behemoth has been filmed taking on opponents of a different kind, sharing footage of himself grappling with a bear in Siberia at the start of October.

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Russian MMA heavyweight Maxim 'Mad Max' Novoselov takes on huge bear – and 'submits' it (VIDEO)

He was reportedly set to appear at Fight Nights Global 94 later that month, but withdrew from the bout with former UFC fighter Dmitry ‘The Lifeguard’ Smolyakov citing health reasons.

Novoselov is notorious for being jailed for 14 years in 1993 on murder charges, and spent more time behind bars in 2012 when he was found guilty of links to a drugs business.

The Chelyabinsk-born giant has some unorthodox training methods – and earlier this year nearly took one training partner’s arm off when he accidentally plunged an axe into it.

He recently shared footage of himself sparring with fellow heavyweight Denis Vildanov – a man officially recognized as having Russia’s biggest natural biceps, and who himself is attempting to forge a career in the increasingly weird and wonderful Russian amateur MMA scene.  

Novoselov’s fight at VTB Arena on November 29 will be broadcast live on RenTV.

November 19th 2019, 10:35 am

BoJo vows to ‘come down hard’ on stabbing epidemic, adding police with more ‘stop & search’ power to

RT

With elections approaching, the UK PM has rolled out his plan to fight knife crimes, which have skyrocketed over the last few years, promising harsher penalties for offenders and more powers for police – if Tories win.

Boris Johnson has pledged to “come down hard on the scourge of knife crime” and implement a “tough new approach” to fight it and serious violence in a three-step plan.

His strategy relies on deploying an additional 20,000 police officers to streets across the UK. They will have powers to stop and search known knife carriers, and arrest them for illegal carry on the spot. Such individuals, Johnson told, will be cautioned or charged within 24 hours, and will appear in court within a week.

An extra £35 million will also be poured into violence reduction units comprised of police officers and social workers. They will be tasked with doing “preventative work” and stopping “violence from happening in the first place.”

The announcement looks like an election promise as it comes ahead of the first debate between Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Johnson’s proposals seem to be long overdue as stabbing-related crimes have jumped over the last few years. There were 47,100 attacks from March 2018 to March 2019, according to the latest government report with more than 110 people killed in London alone this year.

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The UK government has already put a number of crime-fighting tactics in place, but the efficiency of some were highly questionable, like putting anti-stabbing messages on boxes of fried chicken takeaway.

There were also calls from church leaders to redesign domestic knives with rounded tips to reduce the number of life-threatening stabbing injuries.

The British military didn’t stay aside either, with former defense minister Gavin Williamson reporting that the army were ready to intervene. The ingenious idea, however, led to much mockery on social media.

November 19th 2019, 10:35 am

‘I’m trying to save my health & legs’: Russian figure skating star Evgenia Medvedeva on attempts to

RT

Russian figure skating star Evgenia Medvedeva has said that she plans to add a quadruple jump to her program, but stressed that she doesn’t want to get injured on this extremely difficult and risky element.

Talking to RT Sport, the two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist explained why she had mental breakdowns after disastrous performances and what motivates her to move forward.

READ MORE: ‘It’s not a psychological issue, this is facing reality’: Brian Orser on Medvedeva’s losses to quad-jumping skaters (VIDEO)

She also explained why her new Japan-themed free program is so special to her and when she will be ready to throw a quad at an international event.

The 20-year-old underlined that she has ‘put her soul’ into the free routine where she portrays a Japanese geisha to the soundtrack of the epic drama film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’.

Evgenia Medvedeva © Sputnik / Nina Zotina

This is the first program in my life that I really gave my soul from the beginning. Because in previous programs I started to feel the main idea, or the main emotion, or the main magic of the program only in the middle of the season or at the end of the season. So I just had to get used to my image, to the music, to myself,” Medvedeva told RT.

I was preparing myself to the ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ and when I said to myself ‘yes, now I’m ready’ and I started to think about movements, about costume and everything. So, every moment of the program has my soul.”

Medvedeva said that she is trying to skate for pleasure and enjoy taking part in competitions, not forgetting, however, about her titles and responsibility to prove that she is a top skater.

For sure I’m skating for pleasure because I love it. But it is not just for having fun. First of all this is my job. And secondly I’m a two-time world champion,” she said. “Every time when I had fails, mistakes and mental breakdowns after the competitions I was just thinking that I shouldn’t skate like this. Now I’m feeling that yes, this is me, and I’m doing what I usually did all these years.

The skater expressed admiration for her younger teammates Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova who made a stunning quad-jumping breakthrough in women’s skating, stressing that they give her an extra push to develop and overcome difficulties.

For me when I feel that’s it difficult to jump triples or triple-triples I’m just looking at Sasha [Alexandra Trusova]. I’m just looking at Anna [Anna Shcherbakova]. Those small and tiny girls are doing quads and they do it amazingly. And I can’t to triples? Sure, I can ! Because I have been doing it for more than 10 years.”

Evgenia Medvedeva © Sputnik / Vladimir Pesnya

Talking about her plans to include a quadruple jump, Medvedeva said that she has been training in the element, but concentrates more on staying healthy.

I’m trying to save myself, I’m trying to save my health, I’m trying to save my legs and stay healthy. I will do my best. I don’t know exactly the date or competition where I will try [to land a quad]. Yes, nothing exactly but I’m still trying.”

November 19th 2019, 10:21 am

Armata is coming: Russian military to get pilot batch of ‘revolutionary’ T-14 tanks

RT

The Russian armored corps are about to step into the future, with the first trial batch of the fearsome T-14 Armata tanks to be supplied to the military in late 2019 or early 2020, the head of Rostec defense conglomerate said.

The construction of the assembly lines for serial production of the state-of-the-art main battle tank is now in its final stages, Sergey Chemezov announced on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow on Tuesday.

The equipment had already been used to build the pilot batch of the T-14 tanks, which is now awaiting deployment so that the tanks could be tested in the conditions of actual military service.

© Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev

T-14 has been making headlines worldwide since it was unveiled during the Victory Day parade on Red Square on May 9, 2015. Back then, a leaked UK intelligence paper said that “without hyperbole, Armata represents the most revolutionary step change in tank design in the last half century.”

It’s currently the only third generation tank in the world, which runs fully on digital equipment and surpasses all of its Russian and foreign counterparts.

T-14 had been given an uninhabited turret, with the crew being placed in an armored capsule inside the vehicle’s body for extra safety – a design solution that hadn’t been used in tanks before. Its armor is said to be able to withstand fire from all modern tank and anti-tank turrets as well as anti-tank missiles and other munitions.

© Sputnik / Alexander Vilf

The Armata universal platform, which T-14 is based on, also allows for the production of infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and other armored hardware.

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November 19th 2019, 10:21 am

Shameful’ US withholds food & medicine from Iranians while claiming to support them, FM Zarif says

RT

Washington’s self-professed solidarity with Iranians protesting against rising fuel costs cannot be taken seriously since US sanctions have caused so much suffering in the Islamic Republic, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said.

“The regime that imposes coercive economic actions and bars delivery of food and drugs to the elderly and patients, can never claim that it's supporting the Iranian nation,” Zarif noted on Tuesday, according to Iran’s semi-official IRNA news agency.

He added that European nations that fail to challenge Washington’s regime change posturing against Tehran will be “responsible for their dangerous acts.”

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Three Iranian security force members killed by protesters near Tehran – local media

His comments were made after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed support for Iranians who have taken to the streets in protest against the rising price of fuel.Zarif suggested that Pompeo “first answer for the announced terrorist actions and crimes against humanity and against the Iranian nation” before professing solidarity with the Iranian people.

Washington has imposed tough sanctions on Iran after unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear accord last year. Iran has sought to bypass the economic restrictions, but so far European nations have been largely unwilling to defy US dictates.

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November 19th 2019, 10:05 am

Greta get ready! EasyJet aims to become first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights

RT

UK budget airline EasyJet wants to offset carbon emissions for every single flight, promising that its “green” efforts will have no impact on the passengers’ pockets.

The carrier announced its plans in a statement on Tuesday, adding that it has already started to act to offset carbon emissions. The decision would cost the company about $32.4 million (£25 million) a year. The money will be spent on certain projects which “physically remove CO2 from the air,” including planting new trees, protecting against deforestation, as well as initiatives on solar and wind power.

Thus EasyJet wants to make sure that the projects help to take carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, in exchange for those generated by its planes.

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“We acknowledge that offsetting is only an interim measure until other technologies become available to radically reduce the carbon emissions of flying, but we want to take action on carbon now,” said EasyJet’s CEO Johan Lundgren.

The low-cost airline also promised that nothing would change for its clients, including the ticket costs and the performance of the aircraft.

Together with the ambitious green announcement, EasyJet presented its full-year financial results. It reported headline profit before tax for the year of £427 million (around $552.5 million). Despite the full-year profit higher than expected, it is 26 percent lower than last year due to higher fuel costs.

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Bye-bye lowcosters? Merkel’s sister party calls for extra tax on cheap European flights

Air carriers have been facing mounting pressure to cut their carbon emissions. Some groups have even called on the public to stop flying completely to mitigate the impact of air travel on the environment.

The idea was further championed by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old girl from Sweden who made headlines with her environmental activism. In September, Thunberg had to get to the US to deliver her famous speech at the UN Climate Action Summit. However, she refused to fly in an airplane because of carbon footprint. So she arrived in New York in an emissions-free yacht to attend the event. After visiting the US, she then had to ask for help to return to Europe the same way.

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

November 19th 2019, 9:51 am

Sanctions + sanctions = trade: Syria to get 5,000 tons of grain from Russia’s Crimea

RT

Thousands of tons of Russian grain will be delivered to Syria next year, according to the head of the Crimean region Yuri Gotsanyuk. Exports from the Russia's Black Sea peninsula to the war-ravaged country started two years ago.

The first batch of grain will be delivered in early January, Gotsanyuk told reporters on Tuesday. He added that Crimea expects more citrus fruit shipments from Syria. "We are in talks on more supplies," he said, explaining that citrus from Syria arrived in early 2019.

On Monday, the first batch of olive oil from Syria was supplied to Crimea. It will be later sold in other Russian regions.

Syria, which is facing problems with grain supplies due to Western sanctions, has a desperate need for bread. Crimea is also sanctioned by the West, which makes it easier for the two regions to cooperate.

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Russia rebuilding Syria's energy sector

In April, the sides signed a memorandum on trade and economic cooperation. They have agreed to set up a joint trading platform and ship operator for ensuring regular maritime freight traffic.

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

November 19th 2019, 9:51 am

Kuwait’s FM named new prime minister as govt is dismissed

RT

Kuwait’s ruler on Tuesday named Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah as prime minister, elevating him from his role as foreign minister. The move comes after a row between ruling family members and parliament in the Gulf state led the last government to quit.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah initially tapped caretaker premier Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah to form a new cabinet but he rebuffed the offer on Monday, citing a media campaign against him, Reuters said.

The government resignation came after lawmakers sought a no-confidence vote against the interior minister and as a dispute between senior officials, including the interior and defense ministers, over alleged mishandling of public funds went public.

November 19th 2019, 9:21 am

Cristiano Ronaldo labelled 'flat-track bully' as 99-goal international haul is compared to Lionel Me

RT

Cristiano Ronaldo is on the verge of making history for Portugal as just one more goal would spring him to 100 for his country – but Ronaldo has been labelled a “flat-track bully” in some quarters.

On Sunday, Ronaldo hit his 99th goal for Portugal in his side's final Euro 2020 qualifier with Luxembourg, after Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring for the away team in a 2-0 win.

Ronaldo finished by stabbing the ball in as it trickled over the line, denying Diogo Jota his first ever goal for Portugal.

If Ronaldo can hit 10 more goals for his country, he would equal the all-time international goal-scoring record set by Iranian legend Ali Daei.

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Cristiano Ronaldo hits back at media after firing Portugal to Euro 2020: 'There was no controversy – you created that'

And although Ronaldo has impressed throughout his career with his extraordinary scoring talents, other-worldly skill and brute athletic ability... is his international record as impressive as it looks?

The argument over who, out of Ronaldo and Messi, is the more superior, has raged on for the majority of the pair’s respective careers.

Messi has notched 70 goals for Argentina, 29 fewer than Ronaldo. But according to the statistics, the Barcelona legend is scoring against higher caliber teams at a more consistent rate.

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'Whenever you want': Messi’s response revealed after Cavani 'calls him out for fight' in fiery Argentina-Uruguay clash in Israel

According to data collated by Mundo Deportivo, 29 per cent of Ronaldo's 99 goals have been scored against sides that are in the top 50 FIFA team rankings, while a sky-high 82 per cent of Messi's 70 goals have been buried against those same teams.

Analyzing Ronaldo’s data, Athletic reporter Oliver Kay said that while the Portugal star’s “irrefutable greatness” had been proven elsewhere, racking up 23 goals against footballing minnows such as Luxembourg and the Faroe Islands had been an exercise in “flat-track bullying.”

Check out the stats below for yourself:

Messi – 70 goals

5 – Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay

4 – Venezuela, Ecuador

3 – Colombia, Chile, Switzerland, Bolivia, Nigeria, Mexico, Panama, Haiti, Guatemala

2 – Spain, Croatia, Algeria, Hong Kong, Nicaragua

1 – France, Germany, Portugal, Peru, Iran, United States, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia

Cristiano – 99 goals

7 – Lithuania

5 – Andorra, Armenia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Sweden

4 – Estonia, Faroe Islands, Hungary, Netherlands

3 – Belgium, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland

2 – Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Cameroon, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia

1 – Argentina, Croatia, Ecuador, Finland, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, Iran, Morocco, New Zealand, North Korea, Panama, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Wales

Ronaldo does have more major trophies than Messi at international level, however, so it's not all doom and gloom for the former Real Madrid man.

November 19th 2019, 8:51 am

Moscow slams US decision to ‘legalize’ Israeli settlements in West Bank, says it puts spanner in the

RT

The US decision to recognize Israeli settlements in the West Bank as legal will aggravate the situation in the region, Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

“We consider Washington’s decision as another step aimed at scrapping the international legal base of the Middle East settlement,” Moscow stated, adding the US move will only further undermine the “already tense situation in Palestinian-Israeli relations.”

Russia’s position remains unchanged, viewing Israeli settlement construction on the West Bank has no legal force and exists at odds with international law. It erodes the path to peaceful solution on a basis of the two-state concept, the ministry argued.

Russian diplomats urged all parties to refrain from steps that could provoke a new escalation.

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Outrage erupts over Trump administration’s ‘legalization’ of (still-illegal) Israeli settlements in West Bank

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that Washington no longer views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as inconsistent with international law. It marked a reversal of America’s longstanding legal opinion labeling them illegal since 1978.

The move triggered a massive condemnation, with Palestinians saying that the measure “endorses law of the jungle.” UN for its part reiterated its point that the settlements are in breach of international law.

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November 19th 2019, 8:35 am

Sweden drops Assange rape investigation – prosecution authority

RT

The Prosecution Authority said that while the victim was considered credible, oral testimony regarding the case had “weakened” and that corroborating evidence was not strong enough to pursue the case.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

November 19th 2019, 8:21 am

'Raging Bullsh*t!' Boris Johnson battered online for 'Brexit' boxing session at Tyson Fury's gym

RT

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been hammered online for showing off his boxing skills during a visit to Tyson Fury’s old gym in Manchester, while wearing gloves emblazoned with the words 'Get Brexit Done'.

‘BoJo’ was snapped practising his paltry combinations on the pads with a trainer from Jimmy Egan’s Boxing Academy in the Wythenshawe area of the city, where 'The Gypsy King' himself, Tyson Fury, began his own career in his hometown. However, the 6ft 9in fighter has recently enjoyed a foray into WWE and is currently weighing up a move into UFC.

Johnson’s feeble hooks and uppercuts were not nearly as well received as those of the heavyweight champion, and social media has let him know in no uncertain terms, with a swathe of hard-hitting one-liners and memes.

The first round of insults began with a barrage of boxing-related blows in reference to Boris’ punching power. One particularly sharp strike claimed Johnson 'floats like a butterfly, stings like a butterfly', in contrast to Muhammad Ali's famous catchphrase.

Piers Morgan then landed a quick counter shot by commenting: “Jeez, no wonder you’re ducking me”, a reference to the PM’s alleged unwillingness to be grilled by the broadcaster on his topical breakfast show.

It’s not the first time the leader of the Conservatives has been ridiculed for his lack of athleticism. The former Mayor of London is famed for his sporting fails, including knocking over a child during a rugby match, attempting a rugby tackle in a charity football match, and becoming stuck n a zipwire during 2012 Olympic Games celebrations.

READ MORE:Boris Johnson's biggest sporting fails: The new UK PM's most embarrassing sporting escapades (VIDEO)

Back in 2014 the then-mayor bashed the pads during a visit to a gym in London, much to the amusement of viewers.

The PM was warming up before his General Election debate with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday night. He'll have to show more in his arsenal if he is to stand a fighting chance in that particular matchup.

November 19th 2019, 8:21 am

Norwegian anti-Islam rally turns violent over KORAN BURNING

RT

The leader of a group against the “Islamization” of Norway was attacked by several men after setting fire to a copy of the Koran during a demonstration. Footage shows police intervening to stop the skirmish.

A demonstration held by Stop Islamization of Norway (SIAN) in the city of Kristiansand turned violent after the group’s leader, Lars Thorsen, defied a police order against burning the holy Muslim book. The rally had been approved by local authorities, but police had warned SIAN against desecrating the Koran, after the group said it planned to do so.

Two copies of the religious text were thrown in a trash can during the rally, while Thorsen set fire to another one. The unsanctioned actions infuriated counter-protesters, who vaulted over a fence and attacked SIAN’s leader.

Video of the altercation shows Thorsen tossing away a burning Koran as an unidentified man charges at him. The man manages to grab Thorsen’s jacket, twisting him around. However, the assailant falls to the ground after attempting to kick the anti-Islam activist. Police then scramble to break up the fight as several other people rush at Thorsen.

Both Thorsen and his attackers were detained by police, according to media reports. In one video clip, Thorsen is led away by police with his hands behind his back, while his initial attacker is wrestled to the ground by a group of cops.

Muslim leaders in Norway announced that they plan to press hate crime charges against SIAN for burning Korans as well as for verbal assault.

Thorsen is no stranger to political controversy. He recently received a 30 day suspended jail sentence and a fine for distributing pamphlets in Oslo that accused Muslims of being “notorious sexual predators” who “rape in epidemic proportions.”

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November 19th 2019, 8:01 am

‘EU can’t defend Europe’: Stoltenberg takes aim at Macron’s ‘brain-dead’ NATO

RT

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has taken the time to contest the French president’s bombshell diagnosis of the bloc, saying that Europe can’t rely on the EU alone, and singing the praises of the US.

Stoltenberg couldn’t resist debating Emmanuel Macron’s famous Economist interview, arguing that his organization is far from being dead. Or, at the very least, that its brain is still alive.

“European unity cannot replace Transatlantic unity as we need both,” he told reporters on Tuesday. One has to understand that “especially after Brexit, the EU cannot defend Europe.” Stoltenberg also kindly reminded that over 80 percent of NATO’s military spending will come from “non-EU allies.”

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We are experiencing brain death of NATO, Macron warns Europe

Macron sent shockwaves through European elite circles in early November when he said that the bloc is experiencing “brain death.”
The US isn’t into defending Europe, which makes Article 5 of the NATO charter – which stipulates that an attack on one ally is an attack on all – all but meaningless, he argued.

Naturally, Stoltenberg had some words on this. Washington, he opined, “is not leaving Europe,” it is actually increasing military presence with more troops, more exercises, more US investment in military infrastructure.

“We’re doing more together than we have for decades,” he asserted.Previously, the politician has bragged about NATO’s impact on Europe, citing the accession of Eastern European nations as an example. For them, joining the bloc was the “first step to integration in the Euro-Atlantic family,” “a driver of democracy and reform” and “a step to greater prosperity.”

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Gorbachev WAS promised NATO would not expand east – declassified docs

His words may not sit well with the first and last Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev who recently recalled how Western leaders celebrated the Warsaw Pact demise and NATO’s enlargement, but have never thought of “how it will be perceived in Russia.”

Moscow, for its part, has repeatedly said that NATO enlargement and troops’ build-up close to its borders are a worrying trend and shall be countered respectively. That said, Russia is always ready for dialogue, the Kremlin reiterated on several occasions.

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November 19th 2019, 7:50 am

Luis Enrique returns as Spain manager after tragic death of 9-year-old daughter, but sacked Moreno '

RT

Luis Enrique has been reinstated as Spain manager, following a five-month break from the job because of his daughter Xana's untimely death from bone cancer.

Enrique's previous assistant boss Robert Moreno took the reins while the former Barcelona manager was away, but after Spain's 5-0 win over Romania on Monday night, Moreno is thought to have found out his fate and he left the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in tears.

And Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales has now confirmed that Enrique will be returning to his post ahead of the European Championships next year.

"Today we can confirm that Luis Enrique is returning to his job," he said.

"It was clear that in the moment that Luis Enrique felt strong to return, the door was always open for him. I have always said that, and have always been honest, nobody can feel tricked.

"We must explain the timeline. I spoke with Luis Enrique three times since his daughter died. In August to pass on my condolences. We had a meeting at the end of October. And I talked to him again yesterday.

"We want to thank Robert Moreno for his work, he did very well, and we are very happy with what he did. But I repeat that Robert Moreno told us he'd spoken with Luis Enrique, who had told him he wanted to return."

Enrique left his national team duties back in March, but he oversaw the team from a distance while Moreno took his place on  the bench in somewhat of a caretaker role.

In June, Enrique officially resigned from his role after his nine-year-old daughter Xana became seriously ill with bone cancer, before she tragically passed away in August.

Moreno is said to have been left feeling "used and betrayed," but Rubiales explained that he could have no qualms about the re-appointment of Enrique, stating that the recruitment process has been nothing but transparent.

He added: "I called Luis Enrique yesterday and told him that Robert would not stand in the way of a return. Luis Enrique said yes, immediately, to count on him and he would be delighted. He thanked us for keeping our word."

Enrique was originally made Spain boss after they were knocked out of the 2018 World Cup by Russia on penalties at the last 16 stage.

Reuters

Rubiales also confirmed that Enrique would continue his duties all the way up to the next World Cup in Qatar in 2022.

He added: "Luis Enrique will continue to the Qatar World Cup [in 2022]."

Spain qualified for Euro 2020 top of their group and unbeaten in 10 games, finishing five points ahead of second-placed Sweden.  

November 19th 2019, 7:31 am
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