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Russian gamers Team Spirit scoop $18 MILLION PRIZE by winning Dota 2 The International eSports extra

RT

Team Spirit of Russia have been crowned winners of Dota 2 The International eSports tournament, scooping a whopping $18.2 million prize for overcoming PSG.LGD in the final.

Team Spirit had gone 2-0 ahead on Sunday but could not land a third battle, meaning the title was decided in a fifth game as their rivals – associated with French football giants Paris Saint-Germain – battled until the last. 

PSG.LGD took home $5.2 million for finishing in second place, while Team Secret were awarded a still respectable $3.6 million for their third place.

Team Spirit reached the final by seeing off back-to-back champions OG and ending their dreams of a threepeat with a 2-0 win before the weekend.

After a round robin group stage in the 18-team tournament, the main event was played in a double elimination format at the National Arena in Romanian capital Bucharest, which is usually capable of holding up to 55,000 fans but was empty on this occasion.

The victorious team was made up of Russians Yaroslav Naidenov (Miposhka), Magomed Khalilov (Collapse), and Alexander Khertek (Torontotokyo), as well as Miroslav Kolpakov (Mira) and Ilya Mulyarchuk (Yatoro) of Ukraine.  

“I don’t know what to say at all,” Naidenov was quoted as saying of his team’s staggering win.

“I'm not even sure that this [title defense] will happen. We'll think about the future later.

“I don’t know what we’ll do next. Maybe someone will even retire. We just won such a big prize! Does it even make sense to play Dota [anymore]?”

This was The International's first edition since 2019, with Covid scrapping one planned for Stockholm last year.

And online, Team Spirit's victory was wildly celebrated. 

"WE ARE THE INTERNATIONAL 10 CHAMPIONS," beamed the group via their official Twitter account. 

"It was an amazing adventure. We thank all the fans for your support! We wouldn't be there without you. See you next season!," they finished.

The Russian national football team were among the biggest-name congratulators of Team Spirit, whose "massive win" was heralded elsewhere as an "underdog story".

"They eliminated the defending champions. They eliminated the strongest team of the year. They eliminated the tournament favorites. They sacrificed hair," explained a popular esports fan account.

"Next year, all Dota players will be bald. Congratulations!!" it signed off.

October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

Viral VIDEO: Veteran state trooper forced out for refusing Covid jab, signs off for last time by tel

RT

A veteran Washington state trooper used his last moments on the job to tell the governor whose Covid-19 vaccine mandate essentially ended his career to “kiss my ass,” striking a nerve in a nation divided over jab authoritarianism.

A viral video of the unidentified trooper began circulating on social media on Saturday, showing him signing off to his dispatcher for the last time while sitting in his patrol car. “This is my final signoff, and after 22 years of serving the citizens of the state of Washington, I’ve been asked to leave because I am dirty,” the officer said.

The trooper didn’t specify what he meant by “dirty,” but Seattle radio host Jason Rantz, who has booked an interview with the man, said he had been fired for defying Governor Jay Inslee’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate. Inslee ordered in August that Washington’s state employees and contractors be fully vaccinated by October 18 or face termination. The order marked one of the most stringent such mandates in the nation.

The state trooper recounted some of the difficulties he’s gone through on the job, such as dealing with numerous fatalities and injuries. “I’ve worked sick, I’ve played sick, we’ve buried lots of friends over these years,” he said.

The officer added: “I’d like to thank you guys, I’d like to thank the citizens of Yakima County, as well as my fellow officers within the valley. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have been very successful, and you kept me safe and got me home to my family every night. Thank you for that. I wish I could say more, but this is it.”

State 1034, this is the last time you’ll hear me in a state patrol car, and Jay Inslee can kiss my ass.

The statement was a true mic-drop moment, as the officer literally dropped his radio microphone after making his statement. After a short pause, the dispatcher replied by thanking the trooper for his service and noting some of his accomplishments.

“You’ve taken on many roles in your time with patrol,” she said emotionally. “In your first year, you delivered a baby while on patrol in Bremerton.” She listed several other duties the trooper had performed, such as being an instructor, “peer support” member and chaplain support officer. “You’ve been a great role model and mentor for all young troopers serving in the area by sharing your knowledge and experience throughout the years,” the dispatcher said. “Thank you for your service.”

As the radio went quiet, the trooper turned to the camera, shrugged and said, “That’s it.”

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Reaction to the video showed how divisive the issue of vaccine mandates has become. As mainstream media outlets have noted, a “culture war” over vaccine mandates has intensified since President Joe Biden ordered in September that US businesses with more than 100 employees must force their workers to get jabbed.

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Some social media users cheered the Washington patrolman’s firing, saying his anti-vaccine stance put the public at risk. “If he can’t be vaccinated for the good of all, then he long ago lost the thread of how first responders are supposed to help people, not endanger them,” one Twitter commenter said. “Those of us who do actually care are tired of this sort of obstinance.”

But other observers argued that no one should have the right to force people to be inoculated, especially those who acquired natural immunity by surviving Covid-19 infections. “God bless him for not giving in to tyranny,” one commenter tweeted. “Not many men truly stand up for what they believe in anymore.” 

Missouri state Representative Bill Owen (R-Springfield) was so impressed by the trooper’s response to Inslee’s mandate that he tried to recruit him to his state. “We would be pleased to have you join our great Highway Patrol,” Owen said. “Life is great in Missouri. If I can help in any way to assist in making this happen, please let me know.”

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October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

‘Everything’s VERY heavy now’: Russian space film crew tells RT how it feels to be back on Earth aft

RT

The first-ever professional film crew to shoot footage for a movie in space shared their spaceflight experience with RT shortly after landing back on Earth in the Kazakhstan steppes.

The crew returned from their 12-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday. The Soyuz MS-18 craft, piloted by seasoned Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, and carrying actress Yulia Peresild and filmmaker Klim Shipenko, touched down safely in Kazakhstan.

Shortly after the spacefarers emerged from the capsule, they were met by RT, seeking the first comments on their trip. All stages of the spaceflight, from training to landing, were thrilling, if different, experiences, Shipenko told RT’s Konstantin Rozhkov.

“The flight [into space] was so exciting! Waiting for the flight – the ceremonies, the festivities, everyone seeing us off – those emotions are one thing. But when you return with a sense of accomplishment, and you enjoy all these g-forces, the plasma burning outside the window – it’s like a parting gift,” Shipenko said.

Everyone felt that this could not be experienced anywhere else, except by flying into space.

The landing went smoothly, and none of the crew had experienced any adverse effects, the filmmaker added. The spacecraft used for the mission was modified specifically to be operated by a single professional cosmonaut. Regular Soyuz spacecraft are operated by two personnel: a commander and an engineer.

“The guys aren’t professionals, but they completed a very good training course. Without them, it would have been difficult to perform a full, regular descent at all. They participated in the flight, helped me in my work, and I’m very grateful to them,” Novitsky told RT.

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Peresild, the star of upcoming movie ‘The Challenge’, was asked by RT’s correspondent whether she thought she’d now played the role of her life.

“We’ll see about that!” the actress replied.

It takes time to get accustomed to Earth’s gravity, Peresild said, when interviewed on a flight back to Moscow.

It’s as if the body doesn’t really understand how it happened.

“While you’re in low gravity, you feel like a feather, so everything’s very heavy now – my head’s very heavy, my arms, my legs… Everything’s a little dizzy,” she explained.

The film crew’s pioneering flight was a collaboration between Russia’s television Channel 1 and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, with RT providing special coverage for the mission. The goal of the flight was to shoot scenes for ‘The Challenge’, which is largely set in space. While the plot of the movie is shrouded in secrecy, it’s known to revolve around a medical doctor, portrayed by Peresild, who travels to space to perform life-saving surgery on an incapacitated cosmonaut.

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The mission was praised by Russia’s space agency boss, Dmitry Rogozin, who said it provided the agency with valuable experience in training amateur cosmonauts. The success of the film crew’s flight has shown Roscosmos is “unrivaled in terms of training people who, until recently, were not seeking to fly into space,” Rogozin told RT.

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October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

China says ‘US & Canada colluded to stir up trouble’ by sending warships through Taiwan Strait

RT

The Chinese military has blasted the US and Canada for sending their warships through the Taiwan Strait, claiming such stunts jeopardize regional stability, after Beijing itself staged beach war drills in a nearby province.

American Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey and Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg both sailed through the waterway that separates Taiwan from mainland China last week, triggering a blistering response from the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theatre Command.

The United States and Canada colluded to provoke and stir up trouble... seriously jeopardizing peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.

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Chinese forces “always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations,” Beijing’s military stated.

The Pentagon meanwhile insisted that “Dewey's and Winnipeg's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

READ MORE: China pledges ‘legitimate & necessary’ response after Biden’s first arms sale to Taiwan approved by State Department

Beijing considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory under its ‘One China’ policy and does not recognize its autonomy. Amid the escalating war of words, the Chinese military posted a video last week of its troops practicing beach landings, assault drills and building beachheads, conducted in the southern part of Fujian province right across the straits from Taiwan. In response, a military official in Taipei vowed that the island “will meet the enemy full on” in case of conflict.

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October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

Fauci gives his blessing for Americans to ‘enjoy Christmas & Thanksgiving with their families’… if t

RT

White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has granted his permission for Americans to enjoy traditional gatherings during the upcoming holidays, but his endorsement only applies to those who have gotten their Covid-19 shots.

“I believe strongly that particularly in the vaccinated people, if you’re vaccinated and your family members are vaccinated.., that you can enjoy the holidays,” Fauci told ABC News host Martha Raddatz on Sunday. “You can enjoy Halloween trick-or-treating and certainly Thanksgiving with your family and Christmas with your family.”

The controversial US authority on the Covid-19 pandemic reminded Raddatz that it’s important for Americans to get vaccinated against the virus not only for their own safety, but also for that of their families and neighbors. “When you do that, there’s no reason at all why you can’t enjoy the holidays in a family way, the way we’ve traditionally done it all along,” Fauci said.

Left unsaid was what the unjabbed Americans can do for the holidays – not that many were waiting for Fauci’s guidance on their party planning, judging by the reactions. Social media users blasted and mocked the notion that citizens of the so-called “land of the free” need the government’s permission to hold family Christmas and Thanksgiving gatherings. “I’m going to have a garden gnome in our yard this Christmas that looks just like Anthony Fauci but will have 10 times more intellectual capacity,” author Tony Shaffer said on Twitter.

Just a week ago, Fauci said in a CBS News interview that it was “just too soon to tell” if Americans can gather with their families on Christmas. Ironically, he told CNN the same day that it was acceptable to take children trick-or-treating, even though Halloween comes nearly two months before Christmas.

Online observers suggested that Americans are increasingly tuning Fauci out because of his flip-flopping, wrong projections and alleged dishonesty. “Or I could just ignore the people who have been wrong about everything from the start, have constantly lied about being wrong, played politics with people’s jobs, lives and families, and then dared to give them an ultimatum to get it all back,” author Wyatt Holliday tweeted.

A Rasmussen Reports poll released last week showed that just 41% of Americans have a favorable view of Fauci, down from 54% in May. Most respondents agreed that he had “lost credibility,” Rasmussen said.

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Fauci has enjoyed fawning adulation from mainstream media outlets and Democrat politicians during the pandemic, to the point that he was serenaded on his 80th birthday last December by Joe Biden, then president-elect, and future First Lady Jill Biden. The day was proclaimed “Anthony Fauci Day” in the nation’s capital, and his popularity inspired some peculiar merchandising, including a “Saint Anthony Fauci” prayer candle. 

But with Fauci coming under increased criticism in recent months – including allegations that he lied to Congress regarding US funding of gain-of-function virus research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology – he has apparently lost some fans. A Fauci documentary received an average Rotten Tomatoes rating of 92 percent by reviewers, but an audience score of just 2 percent, blamed on review-bombing by haters and trolls.

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October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

America’s supply-chain crisis will drag into 2022, Pete Buttigieg tells CNN… taking brief break from

RT

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has acknowledged that the national supply-chain breakdown, which intensified during his unannounced two-month paternity leave, will continue to keep store shelves empty next year.

“Certainly, a lot of the challenges that we’ve been experiencing this year will continue into next year,” the former presidential candidate told CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday.

Buttigieg tried to put a positive spin on the protracted crisis, arguing that it reflects surging US demand for consumer goods. “Retail sales are through the roof,” he said. “And if you think about those images of ships, for example, waiting at anchor on the West Coast – every one of those ships is full of record amounts of goods that Americans are buying because demand is up, because income is up, because the president has successfully guided this economy out of the teeth of a terrifying recession.”

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Conceding that “our supply chains can’t keep up,” Buttigieg said the Biden administration is working with transportation industries to find solutions. For instance, President Joe Biden announced last week that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California – which handle a combined 40% of US-bound container ship cargoes – will start operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The administration also is working with state agencies to speed up issuance of licenses to new truck drivers.

Buttigieg made no mention of any possible effort to ease, at least temporarily, a California emissions law that has been blamed for contributing to the crisis. Much of the US trucking fleet doesn’t meet the state’s new emissions standards, which were imposed last year.

The supply-chain debacle has added to the struggles of an administration that already is dealing with a border crisis and the fallout from its deadly and chaotic military withdrawal from Afghanistan. With dozens of container ships forced to anchor off the California coast for as long as three weeks, the US is suffering shortages of consumer goods and materials needed by manufacturers to keep their operations going. As a result, the president has been ridiculed online as “Bare Shelves Biden” and “Empty Shelves Joe.”

Perhaps looking at the crisis as an opportunity, Buttigieg said the supply-chain failures prove that Congress needs to pass Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill. “There are $17 billion in the president’s infrastructure plan for ports alone,” he said. “And we need to deal with the long-term issues that have made us vulnerable to these kinds of bottlenecks when there are demand fluctuations, shocks and disruptions like the ones that have been caused by the pandemic.”

Tapper pointed out that the Senate passed the bipartisan bill two months ago, and left-wing Democrats in the House have blocked it from advancing until their demands are met on legislation providing a $3.5 trillion spending spree on social programs. Buttigieg replied that “America needs both of those pieces of legislation.”

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The CNN host also pressed Buttigieg on why – especially amid the supply-chain crisis – the Biden administration didn’t announce his two-month paternity leave and appoint an acting transportation secretary. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is gay, took leave in August to help his husband care for adopted infant twins. He will continue to take some time off for a few more weeks.

“The way this works is, there’s a deputy secretary, Polly Trottenberg, who is doing phenomenal work and, as deputy secretaries do, can fill in when a secretary is not available,” Buttigieg told Tapper. “Now, look, even though I’ve been on paternity leave and I’m proud of it, obviously, given the nature of my job, when you take a job like mine, you understand and accept that you’re gonna have to be available 24/7 depending on what’s going on, and you’re going to have to engage, and I did, even if that meant taking a phone call or making a decision from a hospital room.”

Republican lawmakers, such as Senators Tom Cotton (Arkansas) and Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), criticized Buttigieg for being absent as US supply chains foundered and air travel was disrupted amid controversy over airline vaccine mandates. The transportation secretary also was mocked by Fox News Host Tucker Carlson, who said Buttigieg and his husband were “trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went.” 

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Buttigieg fired back on Sunday, telling Tapper, “As you might imagine, we are bottle feeding and doing it at all hours of the day and night. I’m not going to apologize to Tucker Carlson or anyone else for taking care of my premature newborn infant twins. The work that we are doing is joyful, fulfilling, wonderful work. It’s important work.”

He praised the administration for its family leave policy and called for similar benefits to be made available to all Americans: “It is long past time to make it possible for every American mother and father to take care of their children when a new child arrives in the family.”

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October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

Kamala Harris props up Virginia candidate with ad played at churches, as conservatives decry ‘illega

RT

Vice President Kamala Harris is trying to help get Terry McAuliffe elected governor of Virginia with an ad being shown at churches, a possible violation of IRS rules banning tax-exempt organizations from political campaigning.

The Harris endorsement ad for McAuliffe, a long-time Hillary Clinton confidant, will reportedly be played at more than 300 predominantly black churches across Virginia. The screenings began on Sunday and were set to run through the final church services before the November 2 election. 

“I believe that my friend Terry McAuliffe is the leader Virginia needs at this moment,” Harris said in the video. “Terry McAuliffe has a long track record of getting things done for the people of Virginia.”

The vice president began the ad by apparently trying to relate to churchgoers, speaking of her childhood years as a choir member at a church in Oakland, California. “We were taught that it’s our sacred responsibility to raise our voice and lift up the voices of our community,” she said, adding that voting is one of the ways to do that.

The Democratic Party’s Virginia campaign blitz – which also includes pitches by President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and former President Barack Obama – comes as McAuliffe tries to energize supporters in his tight race with Republican Glenn Youngkin, who has been endorsed by ex-President Donald Trump.

While Harris is free to endorse whom she wants, the distribution of her ad could jeopardize the non-profit status of the participating churches. The US has prohibited charities and churches from participating in political campaigns for more than five decades. According to IRS rules, churches cannot “participate in or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” 

Republicans were quick to point out the apparent violation. “Maybe one of the new 78,000 IRS agents should look into this instead of worrying if I buy a new couch,” one Twitter user said. Conservative activist Benny Johnson put it more bluntly, saying, “This is illegal.” 

The controversy over the vice president’s ad comes on the heels of Biden press secretary Jen Psaki being accused of breaking the law by promoting McAuliffe’s candidacy from her White House podium on Thursday. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics filed a complaint against Psaki, alleging that she violated the Hatch Act by endorsing McAuliffe in her official capacity as White House press secretary. 

The Hatch Act prohibits federal government employees from using their official titles or positions while engaged in political activity. Such banned conduct would include any activity directed at the success or failure of a political party or candidate. Psaki said in Thursday’s press briefing that, “We’re going to do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing.”

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McAuliffe, who was governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, is no stranger to scandals. He allegedly steered about $675,000 in campaign contributions to the wife of Andrew McCabe, the then-FBI official who led the federal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for her emails. 

The 64-year-old New York native was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign and co-chairman of Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996. He was reportedly targeted in an FBI investigation of allegedly illegal contributions to his 2013 gubernatorial campaign, including $120,000 from a Chinese businessman who was a former delegate to China’s National People’s Congress. 

McAuliffe also came under fire after doing fundraising in 2019 for a Virginia Senate candidate who had been convicted four years earlier of having sex with an underage girl. More recently, he said in a debate last month that he wouldn’t allow parents to tell schools what to teach their children – clearly fighting words for many voters at a time when school board meetings have been packed with angry parents demanding curriculum changes.

The statement likely helped Youngkin, who pulled ahead of McAuliffe for the first time in a Trafalgar Group poll. The latest Trafalgar survey, done last week, showed Youngkin in the lead at 48.4% to McAuliffe’s 47.5%. Only 19.9% of respondents said they strongly agreed with the Democrat’s comment on parental involvement in schools, while 45.7% strongly disagreed.

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October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

WATCH quick-thinking Moscow metro train driver stop in SPLIT SECOND after man jumps onto tracks

RT

A viral clip shows a man jumping in front of a train in the Moscow metro as a quick-thinking driver manages to stop in time. While left unharmed, the jumper may find himself in legal trouble for disrupting subway operation.

The bizarre incident occurred at a metro station in Russia’s capital city on Sunday afternoon. Footage circulating online shows the man suddenly jumping in front of the train as it’s arriving at the station.

“The driver of one of the trains engaged emergency brakes over a man in tracks at the Filyovskiy Park station. The passenger was promptly lifted onto the platform by the metro staff,” Moscow metro’s press service said in a statement, as quoted by RIA Novosti.

Thanks to low speed – the train had already passed through part of the platform – as well as quick reflexes of the train driver, the man did not appear to have suffered any serious injuries. Footage shared online shows him grazing the train’s windshield at a very low speed, falling on the side of the tracks as the vehicle stops.

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While it was not immediately clear what prompted the incident, a still shot from the train’s dash cam circulating online suggests the man deliberately jumped in front of the oncoming train. Regardless of his motives, the stunt will likely mean legal troubles for the man, since disrupting metro operations is punishable by heavy fines.

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October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

France’s ambassador ‘ordered out of Belarus,’ leaves before Monday deadline – reports

RT

The French ambassador to Belarus has left Minsk after being ordered out of the country, AFP reported on Sunday. No explanation about the reported expulsion has been immediately available.

AFP’s Sunday evening report said that Ambassador Nicolas de Bouillane de Lacoste has already departed from Minsk, and that the Belarusian authorities had set an October 18 deadline for his departure. 

The agency cited a French embassy spokesman, who said that the envoy sent his goodbyes to the staff before leaving, but also recorded a “video message addressing the Belarusian people,” which is said to be scheduled to appear on Monday.

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It was not immediately clear what prompted the envoy's purported expulsion and, so far, the Belarusian government has made no official statement on the matter.

The purported expulsion, however, came just days after the ambassador hosted several representatives of the recently-banned Belarusian NGO ‘Govori Pravdu’ (‘Tell the Truth’) in the embassy. On Wednesday, the envoy met the NGO members, including its co-leader Andrey Dmitriev, one of the candidates in last year’s controversial presidential election.

Paris and Minsk have been at odds since August 2020, after Paris, alongside other EU nations and the US, refused to recognize the results of presidential election won by the long-term Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Instead, Paris courted Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. She visited France back in September, meeting top officials including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

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The French ambassador had personally shown disrespect to President Lukashenko. The diplomat, who assumed his post last year, skipped the presentation of credentials ceremony, in which newly-appointed envoys meet a nation’s leader. Instead, he proceeded to give copies of his credentials to Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makey.

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October 17th 2021, 10:32 pm

‘Can’t sportswash human rights’: Poster of murdered Khashoggi paraded at Newcastle stadium before fi

RT

Excitement has been building among Newcastle supporters ahead of their first match since a Saudi-backed consortium took over the club, but the occasion has also seen protests at the new owners from the Middle East.

Newcastle take on Tottenham Hotspur at St. James’ Park in a Premier League meeting on Sunday with the north-east club’s home set to be packed out.

The match will be the first for the Geordie faithful since they bid farewell to widely reviled owner Mike Ashley earlier this month when his £305 million ($420 million) sale of the club to a consortium financed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) was finally approved by the Premier League.

New Saudi non-executive chairman Yasir al-Rumayyan was seen at the stadium ahead of the game as he runs his eye over the club he will have a large say in running alongside UK stakeholders Amanda Staveley – who was the face of the bid – and Jamie Reuben, who is part of a family of billionaire British property tycoons.  

Newcastle are preparing for a new era at St. James' Park. © Reuters

But while Magpies fans were seen decked out in Saudi-themed garb in scenes of celebration, there were also protests from those unhappy at the takeover.

As promised by activists, a large poster van featuring an image of murdered Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was driven outside the club’s stadium.

Organizer Blair McDougall, who helped crowdfund the initiative, took aim on Twitter at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who has been accused by some of sanctioning Khashoggi’s murder in Istanbul in 2018.  

“Our poster outside St James’ Park ahead of the first game under their new ownership,” wrote McDougall.

“Thanks to everyone who gave to the crowdfunded to make this happen and help ensure that MBS cannot sportswash away human rights abuses.”

The activist also promised that there would be a plane flying overhead with a similar message around kick-off at 16:30 local time.

Newcastle fans have largely greeted the news of the takeover with joy as their club was propelled to unimaginable riches almost overnight after the PIF took the reins with its financial firepower estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

The departure of Ashley after a 14-year reign of mediocrity and misery was also treated with glee, after the British retail magnate was accused of neglecting the club and turning it into a tacky shop window for his sportswear empire.

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However, critics have pointed to the Saudis’ human rights record and claimed that the Premier League should not be giving the green light to regimes taking over important cultural and sporting assets.

After a saga dragging on for more than 18 months, Premier League officials were apparently satisfied by assurances that the Saudi state would not be directly involving in running Newcastle, while Riyadh has also settled a long-running piracy dispute with regional rivals Qatar regarding illegal broadcasts of Premier League matches.   

Newcastle’s 19 rivals in England's top league are said to have demanded an emergency meeting over the Saudi takeover due to their concerns, although many observers will point to the fact that the UK already widely does business with the Middle Eastern kingdom, and that wealthy patrons from the likes of Abu Dhabi have already been allowed into the Premier League.  

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Many fans had been expecting struggling Newcastle manager Steve Bruce to be relieved of his duties before the match, but he was handed the chance to oversee his 1,000th career match as a coach.

Change, however, will be expected sooner rather than later as the newly-rich club set out their spending plans under the Saudi leadership.   

October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

‘Unstable and dangerous’: Conor McGregor accused of ‘attacking famous Italian DJ while partying in R

RT

UFC superstar Conor McGregor has been accused of physically attacking Italian DJ Francesco Facchinetti after a night spent partying in Rome allegedly turned sour.

McGregor is in Italy for the christening of his son Rian, which took place at the Vatican on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Irish star has been seen visiting the sights and being mobbed by fans on the streets, also paying a trip to see legendary football manager Jose Mourinho, who is now in charge at Roma.

However, a night out with Italian music star Facchinetti and his wife Wilma Helena Faissol allegedly ended in an altercation as McGregor was accused of leaving the DJ with a cut to his mouth and a broken nose.

According to reports, the group had been "having fun" earlier in the evening before McGregor invited the couple to go along to another party. 

Facchinetti then claims he was the victim of an unprovoked attack from McGregor as the Irishman supposedly punched him in front of almost a dozen witnesses.

Francesco Facchinetti showed off the injures allegedly inflicted by McGregor. © Instagram

“I took a punch for nothing. That punch could go to anyone. My friends, my wife, or other friends. That’s why I decided to sue Conor McGregor because he is a violent and dangerous person," Facchinetti is quoted as saying by US outlet TMZ

Taking to Instagram, Facchinetti showed off a bloodied upper lip as he made the claims against McGregor.

The DJ's wife also appeared on social media where she similarly accused McGregor of aggression towards her partner. 

"Luckily, he [Francesco] was very close so he [Conor] couldn’t load up on his punch. Francesco flew back, fell on the table, and then on the ground. The first thing that came to mind was ‘are we kidding? Is it a show?’ Then I was paralyzed," she said. 

"I turned around and saw that his friends were holding him against the wall because he wanted to continue beating Francesco.

The DJ’s wife Faissol also made claims against McGregor. © Instagram

"Then they took him away. I turned on the light and the guards turned them off. Francesco was bleeding. I wanted to help him and the guards chased us away.

"He will stay in Italy until October 26th. If you see him stay away from him. Don’t go near him and ask for autographs because he is an unstable and dangerous person.”

McGregor is yet to respond publicly to the allegations.

The millionaire former two-weight UFC champion has faced run-ins with the law in the past, being fined for punching a punter at a pub in Dublin in 2019.

McGregor famously threw a dolly at a bus containing UFC rival Khabib in 2018, again escaping prison for the act.

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McGregor has been sidelined from UFC action by the broken leg he suffered in his defeat to Dustin Poirier in July, but is hoping to return to the Octagon in 2022.

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October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

‘Medical emergency’: Newcastle vs Tottenham match halted due to incident in crowd as fans and player

RT

Newcastle United’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur was suspended before half-time after a medical emergency was reported in the crowd at St. James’ Park.

The game was a highly anticipated one for Newcastle fans as it was the first since a Saudi-backed consortium took over.

However, with the hosts 2-1 down to Tottenham and approaching the last five minutes of the first half, play was stopped due to an apparent emergency in the crowd.

Players including Tottenham’s Sergio Reguilon and Eric Dier were seen desperately gesturing for medics to attend the scene as referee Andre Marriner initially allowed the two teams to have a drinks break before ordering the players into the dressing rooms.

No immediate details were made available regarding the incident, with a crowd announcement simply stating that play had been suspended due to a medical emergency.

Newcastle had made the perfect start to the afternoon when they took the lead through Callum Wilson after only two minutes, but Tottenham struck back from goals by Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Kane.

Tottenham were preparing to take a corner in the Newcastle half when the concerning incident in the crowd caught the players' attention and they alerted the referee. 

Medical staff from the club rushed to attend to stricken fan. © Reuters

England ace Dier was seen gesturing for medical staff to attend the scene with a defibrillator device used to aid someone who is in cardiac arrest, although it is unclear whether that was the issue. 

Newcastle's social media accounts later updated fans with a message reading: "The supporter who was in need of urgent medical assistance has been stabilised and is on their way to hospital. Our thoughts are with them."

The players did eventually return to the pitch after a break, with seven minutes being added on to the first half. 

The atmosphere was understandably somewhat flat, and was worsened when Tottenham forward Son Heung-min added to his team's lead before the first-half whistle had blown. 

Son scored take make it 3-1 to Tottenham. © Reuters

Newcastle fans had started the day in celebratory mood as they welcomed the arrival of their new Saudi owners after a £305 million ($420 million) takeover.

The Geordie faithful bid farewell to widely reviled former owner Mike Ashley, with the promise of Saudi money flowing into the club to revive their fortunes after 14 years under Ashley's stewardship.

Managed by Steve Bruce, who is widely expected to be replaced imminently, Newcastle went into Sunday's meeting with Spurs languishing in 18th place in the Premier League table and without a win to their name this season.  

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October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

WATCH: International Space Station rotating 57 degrees mid-orbit during engine test of spacecraft br

RT

A mistake during an engine test of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft led to the International Space Station (ISS) accidentally rotating 57 degrees earlier this week, with the video of the orbital incident now being available online.

The footage from NASA’s broadcast on Friday captured the ISS changing its position towards the Earth quite significantly, prompting the American astronauts to sound a distress call.

The station rotated as a result of an engine thrust on the Soyuz MS-18, which had been docked to the ISS. The Russian cosmonauts had been testing the spacecraft ahead of its planned return from orbit. The problem was swiftly fixed.

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The incident happened when Russian actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko were aboard the ISS, working on the first-ever feature film recorded in space.

The two safely made it back to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-18 on Sunday, bringing with them 30 terabytes of footage to be used in the upcoming flick ‘The Challenge’.

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October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

‘Bottles with brown stuff in’: US college football fans condemned for hurling objects at coach, chee

RT

Ole Miss college football coach Lane Kiffin has described the attack he received from fans when returning to the Neyland stadium of his old team Tennessee, which included "bottles with some brown stuff in them" being aimed at him.

Kiffin left Tennessee in 2009 to coach USC, and took a $4.5 million role at the University of Mississippi last year.

Towards the end of the eventual 31-26 win for his team, a controversial call was made with 54 seconds remaining.

When it was ruled that Tennessee's tight end Jacob Warren had been stopped just short of first down on a last gasp fourth and 24 yard play effectively handing the visitors the victory, the action was then delayed for roughly 20 minutes.

Officials upholding the play irritated fans that had already been booing Ole Miss players throughout, and caused them to shower the sideline area inhabited by Kiffin and others, including several Ole Miss cheerleaders, who were hit with a range of items. 

"It's an emotional game and fans are emotional, but you never expect something like that, to see all that stuff come flying out of the stands," Kiffin explained to ESPN.

"I got hit with a golf ball, but at least whoever threw it was smart enough to throw a dirty range ball."

Joking that he will keep the item as a souvenir, Kiffin also told of other objects he was nearly hit with.

"There were a number of bottles with some brown stuff in them," Kiffin said.

"I'm not sure what it was. It probably wasn't moonshine. They probably wouldn't waste moonshine on me."

Security eventually managed to evacuate the Ole Miss sideline area and pushed Kiffin and his assistants and players to midfield while officials huddled there too until order was restored.

When the game resumed, Ole Miss launched a three and out before Tennessee got as far as their foes' eight-yard line to no avail as Kiffin had the last laugh with the win.

"I just wanted to make sure our coaches and everybody on our sideline who didn't have helmets were safe," Kiffin said, when clearing up that he hadn't asked for the game to be stopped altogether in order to already bag victory.

"The players have helmets. My thing was, 'Let's finish this and get out of here.'"

Kiffin's 82-year-old father Monte Kiffin had to be escorted away from the field too in addition to Kiffin's sister Heidi. 

Once the game was finally allowed to come to an end, Kiffin was attacked with more items such as a big box of popcorn while entering the locker room tunnel and quipped that he "got a few No. 1 signs, too, but they were the No. 1 signs with the middle finger".

"I guess this is the story of my life. Nothing is ever normal," he finished.

On the other side of the ball, Tennessee coach Josh Heupel expressed disappointment with the fact that the game's temporary stoppage "will be the story from this football game from a small amount of our fans because there were so many that represented intensity in a great way tonight".

The Southeastern Conference and the University of Tennessee were united in condemning the behavior too, with the latter's chancellor Donde Plowman tweeting how she was "astonished and sickened by the behavior" of some fans "at the end of tonight's game".

Plowman revealed she would call her Ole Miss counterpart Glenn Boyce to apologize while also insisting that "Neyland Stadium has always been a place for families, and we will keep it that way".

In his own statement, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said that the "actions of fans at Saturday night's game were unacceptable under any circumstances.

"We are accustomed to intense competition every week, but under no circumstance is it acceptable to endanger the contest participants and disrupt a game," he added, with a review into conference policy due to make "certain this situation is not repeated".

October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

‘Disgraceful’: Fans hit out at Son for celebrating goal shortly after medical emergency at Newcastle

RT

Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min has been accused of poor taste by some fans after celebrating a goal against Newcastle United following a medical incident in the crowd at St. James' Park on Sunday.

In the struggling northeast English outfit's first match since being taken over by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, all was going well for the home side when Callum Wilson put them ahead on two minutes.

Their bliss lasted for just a quarter of an hour, however, as Tanguy Ndombele leveled the score on 17 minutes and England captain Harry Kane put the visitors ahead just five minutes later. 

In the crowd, the afternoon soured even further when a medical emergency struck.

Approaching half time, Spurs players such as Sergio Reguilon desperately gestured for medics to rush to a scene in the stands while both teams were allowed to have a drinks break by referee Andre Marriner before he ordered them into their dressing rooms. 

Spurs' star Eric Dier was seen gesturing for a defibrillator device to be used, as players earned praise for their rapid reaction to the concerning scenes.  

Meanwhile, Newcastle's social media accounts updated fans with a message that explained how "the supporter who was in need of urgent medical assistance has been stabilized and is on their way to hospital".

"Our thoughts are with them," it was added.

Play eventually resumed around 10 minutes later, with seven added on as stoppage time.

On 49 minutes, Son went some way to sealing the points when being set up by the Kane, and was later blasted online for celebrating his goal considering the events that had unfolded not long previously. 

Twitter users called his decision to commemorate "weird" and said the "pathetic" Korean was a "disgrace" who had "zero shame".

"Not going to lie, I thought Son would have shown some respect by not celebrating," it was admitted by one party, in a nod to how the squeaky clean 29-year-old who still lives with his parents usually conducts himself.

A well-followed account holder admitted that he had "no idea how to feel" after the goal.

"Son celebrating like that is a bit disrespectful, no?" it was asked in reply.

"Why are people giving out about Son celebrating?," asked someone in his defense, however.

"What do you want him to do?"  

As it turned out, Son's strike was the deciding factor in the fixture that ended 3-2 via an 89th minute Dier own goal, with Spurs now occupying fifth place in the Premier League table on 15 points, level with Brighton above them and four behind leader rivals Chelsea.

Still winless this term, Newcastle have just three points to their name and are stuck second from bottom in the relegation zone.

October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

‘Doesn’t seem fair’: NBA fans cry double standards as ‘unvaxxed’ star Beal plays in New York while I

RT

Basketball fans have reacted with a mix of shock and outrage after reportedly unvaccinated star Bradley Beal played at Madison Square Garden while Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving continues to be frozen out.

New York City Covid protocol determines that home team players cannot ply their trade at venues such as the iconic MSG court of the New York Knicks and the Nets' Barclays Center without at least one dose of their vaccine.

An important player for the latter franchise, Kyrie Irving, has been sidelined after refusing to get the jab and will not feature at all for the championship-fancied team – at team training or home and road games – until he is a "full participant" in NYC's Covid protocol.

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"I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is," Irving has said regarding his stance. 

"That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.

"So what? It’s not about the money," he said in relation to how hard his pocked will be hit, reportedly to the tune of more than $17 million. 

"It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose money?"

Causing further controversy on Saturday, however, was the observation from a New York Knicks beat writer that alleged unvaccinated Washington Wizards player Bradley Beal featured at MSG in his side's 115-113 loss to the home team.

"Kyrie Irving sits at home indefinitely," noted Stefan Bondy.

"That part doesn't seem fair at all."

Coming off a knee injury, Beal only played nine minutes but managed a rebound, two assists and five points.

Furthermore, the hypocrisy and double standards of his very presence irked some elsewhere on Twitter, who made their feelings known when replying to post that asked if the different treatment was unfair. 

"It says a lot about each organization," began one criticism. 

"Being unvaccinated is not a crime. Honestly, as long as anyone unvaccinated passes a COVID-19 test, they should be allowed to continue their life as normal."

"[It's] totally unfair, nevermind the fact that the cities [involved] don't require travelers to be vaccinated or even all of their own residents. This makes you wonder what is their real reason behind pushing Kyrie to get vaccinated," said another.

"Yes. It's unfair," chimed in one more naysayer.

"I am fully vaxxed. I am 100% for the vaccine and the science behind it. I am 100% against the inconsistency here by the NBA. This is just going to increase vaccine hesitancy by seeing this take place on the national stage during NBA games or on Sportscenter."

Not everyone agreed, however.

"Both these dudes wanted to exercise their freedom of choice, which in this situation I don’t agree. So the law is exercising its freedom and the fact that it’s not fair is irrelevant. They are free to be unvaccinated and the law is free to govern! So be it!" pointed out one party.

"No, [it's] not unfair. Just get vaccinated and stop trying to act more interesting than you really are Kyrie," demanded one fed up individual.

"Beal has a medical reason since he caught Covid a few months ago, they advise for him to take it a certain time after he caught Covid. Kyrie has no excuses," someone else highlighted.

"He does have an excuse, he [doesn't] want to take the sh*t…Nuff said," came one reply to that.

"For all those confused in the comments, allow me to clarify," started off a voice of reason.

"The state of New York can only mandate vaccines on their own citizens. Bradley Beal isn’t a NY resident, and they can’t prevent non-citizens from work opportunities within their state. [At least] that’s how I understood that rule."

According to reports, the loophole to allow situations such as Beal's could be closed by local New York State authorities so that even road players performing in the state can only do so if vaccinated. 

October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

British propaganda campaign incited mass slaughter of communists in Indonesia in 1960s, declassified

RT

British spies played a part in the mass murder of Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) members in the 1960s, urging locals, including army generals, to “cut out” the “communist cancer,” declassified papers have revealed.

The Indonesian Army’s brutal clampdown on the PKI in 1965 and 1966 is considered to be one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century. Between 500,000 and three million supporters of the Communist Party were slaughtered, according to various estimations.

Declassified Foreign Office documents, which were recently released by Britain’s National Archives and seen by The Guardian newspaper, indicate that the UK isn’t without fault in those shocking events.

The British Foreign Office had always denied the country’s involvement in the brutal clampdown on those blamed of communist links in Indonesia.

But it turns out that London focused its propaganda machine on the founding Indonesian President Sukarno and his communist backers over the leader’s stern opposition to the Federation of Malaya, which the UK thought should unite its former colonies in the region.

Tensions between the PKI and the Indonesian military had been mounting since the early 1960s, with the president struggling to balance the rivaling forces. The army-sponsored massacre of communists began after a failed coup attempt by the supporters of Sukarno within the army ranks on October 1, 1965.

Several months before that, a team of specialists from the Foreign Office’s Information Research Department (IRD) had already been deployed in Singapore to produce black propaganda to undermine Sukarno’s rule, according to The Guardian. The failed coup only made it easier for the propagandists to influence their intended audience, which included anti-communist politicians and Indonesian army generals.

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The propaganda was shared through an Indonesian-language newsletter, which was said to have been the work of Indonesian immigrants, but was actually issued by British specialists in Singapore. Within a year, some 28,000 copies of the newsletter had been published. The UK also funded a radio station, which Malaysians had been broadcasting into Indonesia.

Shortly after the massacre of the communists by the military began, the British-produced newsletter called for “the PKI and all communist organisations” to “be eliminated.” It claimed that Indonesia will remain in peril “as long as the communist leaders are at large and their rank and file are allowed to go unpunished.”

“Procrastination and half-hearted measures can only lead to… our ultimate and complete destruction,” the authors of the pamphlet warned their readers.

The killings allegedly intensified across the Indonesian archipelago in the weeks following the publication of the newsletter, with The Guardian insisting that “there can be little doubt that British diplomats became aware of what was happening.” The UK spies in the region had all the means to intercept Indonesian government communications and monitor the movement of its military, according to the paper.

One of the newsletters, released during the clampdown on the communists, had praised “the fighting services and the police” for “doing an excellent job.” The British propagandists compared the PKI to Adolf Hitler and Genghis Khan in the pamphlet, and insisted that “the work started by the army must be carried on and intensified.”

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Moreover, a letter from Norman Reddaway, one of the leading propagandists working in Singapore, to the British ambassador in Jakarta revealed the UK’s strategy “to conceal the fact that the butcheries have taken place with the encouragement of the generals.” He wrote that such an approach should’ve been taken in the hope that the generals would “do us better than the old gang.”

The Foreign Office experts and Indonesian generals were “singing in harmony,” Reddaway insisted in another declassified document. He also celebrated the British propaganda for being able to abolish Sukarno’s opposition to the Federation of Malaya project at “minimal cost” and within just half-a-year.

What Reddaway described as “the old gang” was completely crushed by the bloody events of the mid-1960s. President Sukarno was arrested in 1967 and died three years later under house arrest.

He was overthrown by General Suharto, who had been leading the Indonesian Army. Suharto then ruled Indonesia until 1998, enjoying political and economic support from the West. Transparency International (TI) labeled him the most corrupt politician in modern history in 2004, claiming that he embezzled between $15 billion and $35 billion during his time in office.

Documents that were declassified in the US in 2017 revealed that Washington also not only had “detailed knowledge” of the massacre of communists in Indonesia, but provided “active support” for those actions.


A Yale University study described the slaughter ordered by Suharto as an “absolutely essential cleaning out,” detailing the killing of from “50 to 100 PKI members” every night by civilian anti-communist groups with the “blessing” of the military.

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October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

‘Priceless’: US students accused of ‘hypocrisy’ as they back diversity quotas… unless it comes to co

RT

A report featuring interviews with University of Florida students has led to claims of hypocrisy regarding diversity quotas after some of those questioned changed their tune when it applied to their college football team.

A reporter from conservative news website Campus Reform performed interviews with students on game day as their team took on and eventually lost to Alabama last month, and were asked if they would support diversity quotas some institutions are spending millions of dollars on implementing when applied "in the workplace and the college admissions process".

At first, in the clip already seen by close to a quarter of a million people, every student surveyed showed a preference for diversity when it comes to making decisions on hiring staff and admissions.

"They should probably have diversity quotas for college admissions and a bunch of other things," explained one.

"As a first-generation college student from a Hispanic household it’s very important," stated another.

When the reporter shifted the focus to college sports, however, and whether diversity protocol should be applied to them, there appeared to be a marked difference in attitude among the same students who immediately rejected the notion.

Instead, they cited the need to allow factors such as talent, ability and skill be make or break.

"Obviously, with sports, it’s talent first over anything," stressed one, as another claimed that quotas in sports teams don't "make much sense" and "should be based on skill".

The inconsistency in their opinions was justified through arguments that sports are "different" than general admissions and hiring.

The students were then presented with what would happen if a diversity quota, based on the University of Florida's own demographics, influenced the Gators’ starting offense and left it without the majority of its current starters while only one black star would remain.

Such a conundrum saw some interviewees questioning the logic that resulted in their initial backing for diversity quotas with one saying: "We’d probably be losing because we recruit based on skill and if we recruited based on diversity we’d probably be worse."

They were asked if their minds had been changed on diversity quotas "in other sectors like the work place, like college admissions", and conceded that the comparison was "a good way to open your eyes" and "admit students based on their scores and their academic merit more so than diversity".

"I don’t necessarily think quotas are the way to go. I know they’re unconstitutional. I know they’re wrong," remarked another participant.

The comments on the YouTube video numbered more than 3,600, with one popular remark reading: "This is priceless. They don’t even realize their hypocrisy until pointed out."

"The reality is that conversations like these may be the very first time anyone on campus has engaged these students in a simple critical thinking exercise about their beliefs," said another person. 

"That illustrates how politically monolithic campuses are these days. Campuses are often ideological bubbles surrounded by reality."

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October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

WATCH world-first Russian space movie crew's ISS mission, from launch to landing in 2 minutes

RT

The Russian film crew that became the first in the world to shoot footage for a feature movie in space has returned to Earth. RT’s supercut video highlights the milestones of the 12-day mission, from training to landing.

Actress Yulia Peresild and filmmaker Klim Shipenko, the first-ever professional film crew in space, returned from their 12-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday. The Soyuz MS-18 spaceship, piloted by veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, touched down safely in Kazakhstan earlier in the day.

RT’s two-minute supercut video of the mission shows the film crew completing a training course, withstanding high g-forces and getting accustomed to low-gravity environments. It also highlights the launch of the mission, docking with the ISS, working on board, as well as the successful return to Earth.

The film crew’s flight was facilitated as a collaboration between Russian TV Channel 1 and Roscosmos space agency, while RT has provided special coverage of the mission. The goal of the mission was to film scenes for an upcoming movie called ‘The Challenge’, which is set in space. While the plot of the film is being kept secret, it’s known that the movie is centered around a surgeon – played by Peresild – traveling to space to perform heart surgery on an incapacitated cosmonaut.

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October 17th 2021, 2:18 pm

‘Ruined for a sl*t’: Wanda Icardi sparks social media frenzy after ‘appearing to accuse PSG star hus

RT

Instagram influencer and football agent Wanda Icardi has set tongues wagging after appearing to accuse husband and PSG striker Mauro of infidelity, also unfollowing the Argentine on the social media network.

The couple have been together since 2014, with their union already embroiled in scandal before it got off the ground.

Wanda was married with three children to Argentine footballer Maxi Lopez from 2008 to 2013, and their relationship broke down with each party accusing the other of infidelity as Wanda was suspected of shacking up with his former Sampdoria teammate and off-field friend Icardi. 

Returning to Buenos Aires from Italy, Wanda then struck up a relationship with the 28-year-old with a meeting between Sampdoria and Icardi's new outfit Inter Milan dubbed the Wanda Derby as the pair refused to shake hands.

Wanda went on to marry Icardi in 2014 and has two children with him.

But on Saturday, she posted a cryptic story that accused someone believed to be Icardi of adultery by saying: "Another family you ruined for a slut."   

Furthermore, to fuel rumors that she has split from the former footballer she also represents as his agent while living in the French capital, Wanda has unfollowed him on the popular social media platform where she has 8.4 million followers.

Learning that Maxi Lopez has arrived in Paris through an Instagram story his girlfriend Daniela Christiansson posted, conspiracy theorists on the internet began to go into overdrive.

Additionally, popular Argentine journalist Ker Weinstein posted screenshots of messages that Wanda sent her seeming to confirm the pair have split up, that she has deleted all of their photos together, and has also stopped following 'La China'. 

''Bomb!' Mauro and Wanda separated. A real shame," Weinstein wrote.

"I hope they patch things up. There's a woman who's the third party in discordance. I'm in shock."

The other woman, who Wanda also supposedly referred to, is believed to be the popular Argentine actress known as Eugenia 'La China' Suarez.

Like Icardi with Wanda and Lopez, Suarez is thought to have been a protagonist in the separation of her former partner Benjamin Vicuna Luco, a Chilean actor, and his Argentine model ex-wife Pampita with whom he had three children in 2015. 

Suarez and Luco then went on to have two kids themselves, but are rumored to have separated this year. 

Now it remains to be seen how the soap opera unfolds as more details emerge in the coming days and weeks.

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October 17th 2021, 9:01 am

El Salvador is set to use wide range of renewable energy for crypto-currency mining, country’s Hydro

RT

The world’s first state to make bitcoin legal tender, El Salvador, plans to use multiple renewable-energy sources to power its crypto-mining sites, the chief of the country's Hydroelectric Commission announced earlier this week.

The possibilities are endless here, it's just about willpower and that we have the means and the ability to start these projects,” Daniel Alvarez, president of the state-run Lempa River Hydroelectric Executive Commission (CEL) revealed on Friday, stating that El Salvador has resources to generate electricity for the mining process through hydroelectric, solar, wind and tidal power projects.

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On October 1, El Salvador officially announced that it managed to mine a fraction of its first bitcoin using the geothermal power from Tecapa. According to a statement on Twitter from President Nayib Bukele, the mining operation managed to generate 0.00599179 bitcoin, or about $269.

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Some 1.5 megawatts from Tecapa plant are currently used for bitcoin mining, being effected in a shipping container set up near the plant and geared with 300 computers that process cryptocurrency transactions, Reuters reported.

El Salvador’s congress approved the proposed adoption of bitcoin as legal tender in June this year. In September, President Bukele announced that his government had purchased its first 400 bitcoin.

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

October 17th 2021, 9:01 am

‘Madness’: Goalkeeper viciously attacks own teammate after conceding equalizer during game in Northe

RT

A goalkeeper in Northern Ireland was sent off for attacking his own teammate and had to be restrained on Saturday, when the defender was at fault in the build-up to the opposition's equalizer in a league game.

Bobby Burns' mishap at the halfway line when losing possession landed him on Aaron McCarey's hit list after allowing Coleraine to come back into the game.

Thanks to a Jay Donnelly double, the away side were trailing 2-1 with just 10 minutes to spare against Glentoran.

But after Cathair Friel leveled to eventually take a point home with the equalizer, McCarey preferred not to try and enthuse his troops.

Instead, the ex-Ireland U21 went straight for Burns and knocked him to the floor before dragging him by the shirt.

Some members of the Glentoran team intervened to split up the pair, with McCarey sent off which left his side reduced to 10 men.

Glentoran held on to assume sixth place in the NIFL Premiership on 13 points, while Coleraine are two spots and two points in front having played a game more.

Yet the scenes shocked fans worldwide, with one popular clip showing how McCarey first decks Burns, who puts his hands to his face, after running over to him and shaking his fist. 

McCarey then grabs Burns by the scruff of the neck, takes the player with him while he backtracks, and is confronted by a pair of teammates as one approaches from behind and throws a ball at the 'keeper.

"I've never seen anything like it - it's a moment of madness," said Glentoran legend Paul Leeman post-match, as manager Mick McDermott attempted to play down the fracas.

"I am more concerned about how we conceded the goal before the incident," he said.

"I've only seen a close angle on an iPad and I can't zoom in on it. When I can't get our analysis cameras there's a zoomed-out version I'll have a look at it.

"Aaron has come into the dressing room and said he shouldn't have done it, he has held his hand up and Bobby Burns the same.

"They're both gutted with what happened, so look, we'll deal with it. I spoke to Bobby and he said he didn't strike him in the face. There was no contact with the face.

"Until I see the footage I can't give you my opinion of it," McDermott continued.

"Bobby confirmed in the dressing room, I actually brought him into my office, he said there was no contact with his face but when he fell back he hit his head on the grass and that was the reaction.

"Nobody falls out, they're all grown men. It's an incident that shouldn't have happened and now we move on. There's no news. Two players got in a row, it's happened before, it's not nice but it's happened and we move on.

"We have rules and we have protocols, procedures and disciplinary actions. If it's proven it's violent conduct we'll have to consider the consequences. I think for me talking to our players... the disciplinary stuff we deal with all the time. I'm not going to blow it up into a major incident," he concluded.

October 17th 2021, 9:01 am

‘Crazy’: Russian MMA star Ismailov claims he ‘passed out from lack of oxygen’ as he loses megabout w

RT

One of the most highly-anticipated all-Russian MMA contests of recent years did not disappoint as Vladimir Mineev and Magomed Ismailov collided in an all-action bout which was ended by a barrage of blows from Mineev.

Meeting in a rematch almost three year to the day since they fought to a draw in Moscow, Mineev and Ismailov this time shared the cage for a middleweight title fight at AMC Fight Nights 105 in Krasnaya Polyana, just outside Sochi.

Among those in attendance in an expectant crowd was UFC icon Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was seen throwing his support behind 35-year-old veteran Ismailov.

The simmering build-up to the bout can be traced all the way back to December of last year, when Mineev and Ismailov came to blows inside the cage at a Fight Nights Global event in Moscow despite not being among the combatants on the card.

Those scenes sparked a wild mass brawl, but fast forward 10 months and the pair’s differences would finally be settled with the gloves on.

Ismailov dominated the early stages of the bout, dishing out significant damage to his opponent from top position as the two spent much of the opening round on the ground.

Both traded heavy shots on the feet at the start of the second round before Ismailov secured another takedown and went to work, but also getting caught with elbows from defending champion Mineev as the Ekaterinburg fighter battled to stay in the contest.

The two spent the end of the second stanza trading punches and kicks on the feet, and heading into round three and it was Mineev looking the worse for wear with heavy bruising to his face.

However, the fight was soon to flip on its head. Catching Ismailov with a damaging right-kick to the body at the start of the third round, Mineev enjoyed more and more success on the feet as Ismailov faded visibly.

Mineev's striking came to the fore as rhe fight turned. © YouTube Fight Nights Global TV

A takedown attempt from Ismailov then backfired as Mineev secured top position, landing hammer fists on his rival, who eventually scrambled clear.

Mineev then shrugged off a takedown from Ismailov, forcing him against the cage and setting himself for a brutal denouement.

The end came with a barrage of elbows, punches and knees to the body from Mineev as Ismailov slumped forward and then fell onto the canvas, curling up and offering nothing in reply as Mineev hammered away at his head.

The fight was waved off with 20 seconds to go of the third round as Ismailov lay exhausted and Mineev rose to his feet in celebration.  

The Russian media hailed the bout as living up to the hype, with headlines labeling it “absolutely crazy” and gushing that “you couldn’t think of a better spectacle.”

“I express my deep gratitude to Maga, we made this show together...,” said kickboxing specialist Mineev afterwards as he improved to 16 wins from 18 professional contests. 

“I would like to apologize to his family: Ismailov's relatives are in the hall today, and it’s even somewhat awkward that it all turned out that way. And you know, I would love to repeat it!”

Ismailov was graceful to an extent, asserting that he respected Mineev as a fighter but not necessarily as a man.   

"I was well prepared, but Mineev showed himself well,” said Ismailov, who suffered just the third defeat of his career, and a first loss since 2014.

“I don’t respect him as a person, but a very cool athlete, a bomb... I don’t know how to lose: if I play on a computer console, I break the joystick.

“But it is what it is. Today the Bald Predator leaves for the locker room as a loser, but that doesn't mean I won't feel like a winner.”

Later, Ismailov and his team attempted to explain the defeat by pointing to breathing difficulties and an apparent problem with his blood pressure.

“I passed out from lack of oxygen, from the fact that I couldn’t swallow deeply,” Ismailov said on Instagram.

“This doesn't usually happen to me. I get tired, but I can continue to work and move forward. But this time I couldn't. I just couldn't breathe for some reason.

“Although I can't say that I had some super difficulties in [the fight].”  

The Moscow-based star he was ‘not finished’ despite the painful defeat, saying he would comment later regarding the possibility of a trilogy with Mineev.

Meanwhile, Ismailov’s team also pointed at the reasons behind his loss.  

“His blood pressure dropped extremely low. There was even a fear for life. We will find out why this happened,” one source told TASS.

Among those supporting Ismailov was former UFC lightweight king Khabib, who was seen getting animated in the crowd as the action unfolded in front of him.

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A post shared by Igor Lazorin (@igorkakdela_official)

"Khabib like a coach again... His emotions when he suggests to Magomed Ismailov," wrote Russia MMA journalist Igor Lazorin, sharing the footage. 

Khabib is preparing for another big night in Russian MMA when his Eagle FC promotion puts on a widely awaited bout between former Bellator champion Alexander Shlemenko and Artur Guseinov in Sochi on Sunday.  

October 17th 2021, 9:01 am

Armed gang kidnaps up to 17 American Christian missionaries, including children, in Haiti – reports

RT

Between 15 and 17 US missionaries and their families are reportedly being held by a gang in Haiti. Although the country is infamous for kidnappings, the abduction of such a large group of foreigners is nonetheless unusual.

The group was kidnapped on Saturday, while traveling on a bus not far from the Caribbean nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, an initial report by the New York Times stated. Citing Haitian officials, the NYT said 17 hostages – among them US missionaries and their family members – had been abducted. At least three children were believed to be with the group, CNN reported. On Sunday, local security sources confirmed to the AFP news agency that at least 15 Americans had been kidnapped, and said they were being held by an armed gang.

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The group had reportedly been heading to the airport after visiting an orphanage, when one of its members had posted an SOS message in a WhatsApp group. Cited by the Washington Post, it read, “We are being held hostage. They kidnapped our driver. Pray, pray, pray. We don’t know where they are taking us.” 

No further details about the missionaries or their church is currently available, but news of their abduction was disseminated among other religious aid groups via a “special prayer alert” sent out by Ohio’s Christian Aid Ministries, which is said to have direct knowledge of the incident. It said a field director of the mission whose members have been kidnapped had been staying at a base in Haiti at the time of the incident and was now working with the US Embassy there to try to resolve the crisis. 

No official statement has so far been issued by the embassy, while the US State Department said it was “aware of these reports,” but did not provide any further details.

Haiti has been engulfed in turmoil for years. The security and economic situation has worsened over the past several months, however, after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his residence in July, and an earthquake hit the country in August, killing more than 2,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

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Kidnappings have recently become much more common in the country, often happening in broad daylight. Those abducted include schoolchildren, pastors, police on patrol and even poor street vendors. Estimated to be the highest recorded per-capita kidnapping rate in the world, the number of abductions this year has spiked dramatically and already exceeds 600. According to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, a civil society group based in the capital, at least 628 kidnappings, including 29 of foreigners, have taken place since January. In 2020, 234 abductions were reported to the police, according to the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.

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October 17th 2021, 9:01 am

‘This is ABUSE’: Gender row rages after UFC star Ladd’s coach accused of ‘almost making her cry’ as

RT

Aspen Ladd produced a disappointing performance in her featherweight main event with Norma Dumont at UFC Fight Night 195, but much of the talk centered on the actions of the American’s coaching team.

Ladd stepped in at short notice to replace original headliner Holly Holm, having failed to make weight for a bantamweight showdown just two weeks previously.

But moving to 145lbs – where many feel she is best suited – did not help Ladd as she offered little against Dumont, who was the more active of the pair and had notable success with her jab.

The Brazilian picked up a unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47) on the scorecards at the UFC Apex as she improved to 7-1 overall, while Ladd suffered a second defeat of her 11-fight career.

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Returning to the Octagon for the first time in almost two years, Ladd appeared cautious throughout the opening rounds – with her team attempting to rouse her in no uncertain terms as the fight wore on.

That included between the third and fourth rounds when Ladd’s coach, Jim West, approached her and asked her to “tell me what you’re doing.”

“You have to throw more than one punch, you have to fight,” West demanded, also berating Ladd later on.

Ladd roused slightly in the final round, but Dumont held on comfortably for the win.

But online, debate was already raging about whether West’s tactics were right.

UFC women’s icon Miesha Tate, who was critical of Ladd for her weight-cut miss before her last scheduled fight, screamed that the coach’s actions were “abuse.”

“This is ABUSE, what a douche,” tweeted Tate.

When it was argued that West had deployed a similar method to motivate Ladd during her third-round TKO win against Yana Kunitskaya in her last bout, Tate shot back: “She would’ve done that without him it’s who she is.

“He will take credit for her win but never for her loss. Trust me she can only take so much of this abuse before it breaks her spirit.”

Others claimed West’s actions – which included apparently telling Ladd that she “had to finish this broad now” – were “awkward” to watch and that he was playing to the cameras rather than giving the tactical breakdown she needed to improve. 

"He almost made her cry between rounds," said another person. 

However, some defended the coach, claiming he would know better than most how to get his fighter going.    

“I mean he knows her better than us. He must know what motives her. And even if it doesn't, he's giving her a reality check. She's on a fight and she's losing, ain't no time to beat around the bush. Better to be real rather than a Yes man,” wrote one fan.

“Only reason people think this is weird is because it's [women’s MMA]. If this is a male fighter no one bats an eye at that,” read another response.

West, who is reported to be in a romantic relationship with Ladd, himself later issued an apology for the scenes.

“Tonight was not our night,” wrote the MMA Gold coach on Instagram.

“It’s been our night many, many times at the highest level but not tonight. I blame myself. Though it may not be my fault. It’s not up for debate. I take all the blame.

“Yes after the first couple rounds I may have been a little harsh but I know Aspen and at that time technical conversation was not in the cards being down 3 rounds.

"Nonetheless I own it and I am sorry @aspenladd from the bottom of my heart I will continue to be better each time.” 

Ladd, 26, phlegmatic in an Instagram message she issued to fans, writing: “Not my night. Congrats to my opponent. We will be back better. In the meantime I finally got to get back in there after nearly 2 years.

“Now it’s time to take a step back, take a breath, and get back to fighting and feeling like myself again. On to the next.”

October 17th 2021, 6:30 am

Russia’s non-resource-based exports will reach historic highs in 2021

RT

By year’s end, Russia’s exports not based on resources or energy will reach a record $180 billion, Russian Export Center (REC) CEO Veronika Nikishina told reporters on the sidelines of the Eurasian Women’s Forum.

According to Russian Export Center estimates, for the 9 months of 2021, non-resource non-energy exports in nominal terms amounted to around $135 billion, which means an increase of almost 40% compared to 2020,” she said.

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Nikishina added that in October, the value of these exports will surpass the figure for the whole of 2020 – around $141 billion.

By the end of the year, the country’s non-resource, non-energy exports will set a new historical record – they may amount to $180 billion,” Nikishina added.

Among the main exports for September, she mentioned rolled steel, fertilizers, wheat, steel, platinoids, lumber, aluminum, fish, copper wire, turbo engines, and polymers.

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Nikishina added that the product categories are representative for the year, and “the list of major export commodity items is changing slowly – this is a characteristic feature of all major exporters.”

According to the REC’s press service, gold is excluded from the calculation of non-resource exports.

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

October 17th 2021, 6:30 am

Russian gem miner boosts output to 23.3 million carats

RT

Russian diamond miner Alrosa increased production by 26% in the third quarter of 2021, according to the latest data released by the company.

The company produced 8.8 million carats of diamonds in July-September this year. In total, in the first nine months of 2021 Alrosa’s diamond production grew by 1% compared to the same period last year, to 23.3 million carats.

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The growth factors in the company are said to be the seasonal increase in the processing of ‘Almazov Anabara’ sands, the increase in the processing of diamond ore at the Mining and Processing Plant Udachninsky and the planned increase in production at the Nyurbinskaya pipe.

Alrosa’s raw diamond reserves as of September 30 were 8.6 million carats, which signified an increase of 0.2 million carats during the third quarter.

Alrosa is the world's largest producer of diamonds in volume, accounting for 27% of the globe’s and 95% of Russia’s diamond production. Another 6% falls on the Angolan company Catoca, in which Alrosa has a 41% stake.

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Alrosa’s shareholders include Russia’s Federal Agency for State Property Management (33.02%) and the Yakutia region (25%), but nearly 34% of the company’s shares are in free circulation. The company operates in Russia’s Far Eastern Yakutia and Arkhangelsk regions, developing 11 kimberlite pipes and 16 alluvial deposits.

In total, since the beginning of 2021 Alrosa sold $2.976 billion worth of diamond products compared to $2,802 billion in the whole of 2020.

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

October 17th 2021, 6:30 am

The world will not shake off chip shortage for another 2 to 3 years – China’s Hisense

RT

The global chip shortage is here to stay, at least for another two to three years, the president of Hisense, one of China’s largest TV and household goods makers, says.

The fast-spreading shortage in semiconductors has been plaguing producers in spheres from household electronics to automobiles. According to the head of Chinese state-backed Hisense, Jia Shaoqian, the situation “could be sorted within two to three years” if there are “no big issues” with global trade disputes.

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Otherwise if sanctions of trade and economy between nations continue, it is really hard to estimate,” Shaoqian warned in an interview with CNBC.

His company has seen the impact of the chip shortage just like many others. While claiming that business remains normal, Shaoqian did note that the cost of production has visibly risen.

Major executives globally expect the chip shortage to last well into 2022, with some stating it could linger beyond that. The current shortage was brought about by a number of factors, the main being the growing demand for consumer electronics amid Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns.

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Semiconductor chips are vital components in new cars and are widely used in infotainment systems, as well as in basic parts such as power steering and brakes. An average vehicle may have hundreds of semiconductor chips.

Automakers have been reporting massive cuts in earnings this year because of the chip shortage. Car manufacturing in Britain fell by 27% year-on-year in August, while General Motors said last month its US vehicle sales plunged by more than 30% during the third quarter in annual terms. US tech giant Apple is reportedly planning to cut its smartphone production goals in 2021 by 10 million units due to the shortage of chips.

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

October 17th 2021, 6:30 am

You might like this! Facebook & Twitter recommendation algorithms could be deactivated under new pla

RT

A new bill to be put before Russia’s parliament could reportedly enable the government to regulate and restrict algorithms that recommend content and accounts which Moscow officials say promote social discord or break local laws. 

On Friday, sources within the State Duma told Moscow daily, Kommersant, that a new bill to be introduced later this year will oblige American tech giants such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, as well as domestic-made networks like VK, to allow their users to disable algorithms that create specialized, individual content.

Deputies from the governing United Russia party are said to have mooted the proposals based on fresh concerns around how suggested content could be increasing the risks of social conflicts and provocations.

Anton Gorelkin, a member of the Committee on Information Policy, told Kommersant that the document is in its final stages. “It involves the regulation of recommendation services of social networks. Their transparency is important.” He added that “whether online movie streaming sites will also fall under the regulation is up for debate.” Gorelkin also wrote in recent days that “recommended algorithms are adjusted so that there is always fake information, provocations, and bullying throughout the user’s feed.”

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Last month, following Russia’s parliamentary elections, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that the algorithms used by social networks were distorting the conversation online and furthering the interests of other nations. “When I check Twitter recommendations on who to follow – of course, the first person who comes up is Navalny, who is serving a criminal sentence. Isn’t this interference in the affairs of a foreign country? It’s blatant interference,” Medvedev alleged.

Irina Levova, the director of strategic projects at the Institute for Internet Research, argues that greater legal attention should be paid to algorithms on the basis of how the suggested content affects users. “If the system is capable of having a significant impact on the rights, freedoms and well-being of people and poses risks to life, health and property, additional requirements should be established for it,” she said. However, Levova added that mechanisms used to boost services for businesses do not carry such threats.

However, some businesses fear they will lose out on maximizing their reach to customers if algorithms are restricted. Mikhail Ilyichev, general director of the Sber.Zvuk audio service, told Kommersant that businesses could see a fall in financial incomes, as disabling the recommendation mechanism will mean that the user sees less targeted advertisements based on cookies and browser history.

This is not the first time that social networks have faced criticism from the Russian government. Last week, the country’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said after the global outage of Facebook’s platforms, including Instagram and WhatsApp, that the fault highlights the failures of the California-based conglomerate and the need for Russia’s own sovereign internet capabilities.

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“We must understand that such a blackout can happen at any second, based on the processes that are now gaining momentum in the US,” Zakharova said. “Yesterday they showed you everything. We aren’t cutting ourselves off, but their technologies are failing to such a degree that three and a half billion people were cut off.”

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October 17th 2021, 6:30 am

Global public debt hits record high of $88 TRILLION – IMF

RT

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday that global government debt is estimated at 97.8% of the world’s gross domestic product in 2021.

That is 0.8 percentage points lower than a year before but still at record-high levels as a result of the massive fiscal responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Globally, public debt now amounts to $88 trillion, according to the IMF, but is expected to decline by about 1 percentage point of the world’s GDP per year in 2021 and 2022 before stabilizing at about 97% of GDP.

In the coming years debt is “expected to remain persistently higher than the levels projected before the pandemic – in advanced economies it is projected to be almost 20 percentage points higher through 2026,” the IMF said in its report.

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According to its preliminary estimates, global debt issued by governments, nonfinancial corporations, and households in 2020 reached $226 trillion, up $27 trillion from 2019. That is the largest increase on record, and far exceeds the $20 trillion cumulative debt gain seen over the two years of the global financial crisis in 2008-2009.

Advanced economies and China accounted for more than 90% of the accumulation of worldwide debt in 2020, while remaining emerging markets and low-income developing countries accounted for only around 7%, said the report.

The IMF also estimates that 65 to 75 million more people will fall into poverty by the end of 2021 than would have been the case without the pandemic.

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

October 17th 2021, 3:16 am

‘Very demanding place to film’: Veteran cosmonauts speak to RT about challenges faced by first-ever

RT

With the first-ever film crew to shoot footage in space for a feature film set to return to Earth, RT talked to seasoned spacefarers about the challenges the crew faced, as well as the impact of the mission on the space industry.

Actress Yulia Peresild and filmmaker Klim Shipenko have become the first-ever professional crew to travel to space to make a feature movie during a 12-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS). The project comes as a collaboration between Russia’s TV Channel 1 and the space agency Roscosmos, with RT providing special coverage of the mission.

The whole idea to produce a space movie in actual space will be beneficial for the space industry, both in Russia and elsewhere, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky believes. The film crew mission has already garnered a lot more attention than regular space missions ever get, prompting a spike in society’s interest toward the spaceflight.

“Popularization of spaceflight is lacking nowadays,” Ryazansky said, adding that despite the concerns of the feasibility of the whole endeavor, it’s a good chance to increase public interest in space exploration.

I believe every opportunity counts to explain why it’s important for the people, important for our country, important for humankind as a whole.

A similar sentiment was expressed by Russian veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kotov.

“I hope that it will draw attention [to the spaceflight] and many young boys and girls will dream of becoming professional cosmonauts, that there’s a chance to prove themselves in contests to get into the cosmonaut roster to go not only to the low Earth orbit, but, maybe to the Moon or Mars,” Kotov told RT.

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The film crew mission is a “natural enough progression” of the spaceflight, retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield believes. Russian cosmonaut Andrey Borisenko shared a similar opinion, saying “humankind has already reached that level of space science and technology, when not only professional cosmonauts can go to space, but people of other trades – not only as space tourists, but to do their professional work.”

“Perhaps, filmmakers are some of the first professionals who can put their skills to good use there,” Borisenko told RT.

Still, filming in space is a very challenging task, with the environment entirely different from what movie makers have ever seen on Earth, Hadfield told RT. The first Canadian to walk in space, Hadfield took part in multiple space missions, including two flights of the now-defunct US Space Shuttle program, and has a lot of first-hand experience of trying to film in orbit.

“I’ve made a lot of videos, maybe a hundred in space. And I’ve made a music video and filmed it in space. It’s a very demanding space to try and get a good-quality video and audio production,” Hadfield said. “It’s a noisy environment, you can’t control the nose of the environment and you’re inside a laboratory, so it’s a difficult place to film and to do things of high quality.”

It’s noisy, it’s very confined, it has fluorescent lighting and the sun is a rude intruder. So it’s just a difficult place to make a good-quality video. But these are professionals, and, hopefully they have all of the skills between the two of them in order to get the product that they want.

While little is known about the plot of the upcoming movie called ‘The Challenge’, it’s said to be revolving around a surgeon – Peresild – traveling to space to perform heart surgery on a stranded cosmonaut. The film’s plot has left the space professionals somewhat skeptical. Borisenko said he, first of all, wants the filmmakers to show the “truth” about cosmonaut work, reserving his opinion about the film until he at least sees its trailer. Kotov, a career physician himself, flatly rejected the possibility of major surgeries being performed in space altogether given modern levels of technology.

“A serious abdominal surgery is impossible in space due to technical issues – it's a low gravity environment after all,” Kotov said. “Simple, trauma-related surgeries can be performed, cosmonauts are trained to do that. Anything more or less serious and requiring qualified help means the crew has to abruptly return back to Earth along with the patient.”

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The impending return of the film crew will be somewhat challenging as well, given that the team will use a modified Soyuz spacecraft that can be operated by a single professional cosmonaut – while regular ships require two.

“The main difficulty with this flight is the lack of a human double. In a regular crew, the engineer has nearly the same qualifications as the commander. If something happens [to the commander] we’ll be able to rely only on the hardware. Thankfully, we have very good hardware...as well as very experienced commanders,” Ryazansky said.

The Soyuz MS-18 spaceship, piloted by seasoned cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, undocked from the ISS early on Sunday at around 4.15am Moscow time (01:15 GMT), with the landing capsule touching down some three hours later in a remote part of Kazakhstan.

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October 17th 2021, 3:16 am

Russia's pioneering space movie crew undocks from ISS aboard Soyuz MS-18

RT

The spaceship Soyuz MS-18 has undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) and is on its way back to Earth. Two of the crew members were in space to film footage for an upcoming feature-length movie.

The MS-18 capsule is scheduled to land in Kazakhstan later in the day. It is piloted by cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and is also carrying actress Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko, director of the film 'The Challenge'.

The two spent 12 days on board the ISS capturing footage for their dramatic film, the first ever to use a real orbital outpost as one of its filming locations.

Follow RT's special coverage of the mission.

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October 17th 2021, 1:46 am

RT’s special coverage as Russian movie crew returns to Earth after first-ever space shoot

RT

A Russian movie crew behind the first-ever film shoot aboard the International Space Station are returning home after their pioneering endeavor. Watch RT’s special coverage of the groundbreaking cinematographic achievement.

Actress Yulia Peresild and filmmaker Klim Shipenko spent 12 days in space, where they filmed footage for an upcoming drama titled ‘The Challenge’.

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Back to Earth: Soyuz capsule with Russian crew behind first space movie successfully lands in Kazakhstan

Peresild stars in it as a cardiac surgeon who is recruited to go to the International Space Station to perform an emergency procedure on an ailing cosmonaut. The project was organized by Russia’s Channel One television and the space agency Roscosmos.

RT is covering the return of the filmmakers from its studio in Moscow, Roscosmos Mission Control Center, as well as Soyuz MS-18’s landing site in Kazakhstan.

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October 17th 2021, 1:46 am

Back to Earth: Soyuz capsule with Russian crew behind first space movie successfully lands in Kazakh

RT

The return capsule carrying Russian actress Yulia Peresild and filmmaker Klim Shipenko, the first people to conduct location shooting for a movie in space, has successfully landed, the space agency Roscosmos has reported.

The Soyuz MS-18 spaceship piloted by cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky has delivered him and the two members of the pioneering film crew back from the International Space Station (ISS).

The capsule reentered the atmosphere and parachuted down in a remote region of Kazakhstan's steppe. The crew members are said to be in good condition after the touchdown.

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RT’s special coverage as Russian movie crew returns to Earth after first-ever space shoot  

Peresild and Shipenko spent 12 days on board the ISS after traveling to it on the Soyuz MS-19 ship earlier this month. The duo worked on the film ‘The Challenge’, a feature-length drama produced by Russia's television Channel 1 in collaboration with Roscosmos.

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October 17th 2021, 1:46 am

School board group in Pennsylvania quits national association for suggesting angry parents are ‘dome

RT

Pennsylvania state’s association of school boards has voted to leave the national federation for such governing bodies, saying the “final straw” was a letter to President Joe Biden that likened parents to “domestic terrorists.”

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) told members in a memo sent earlier this week that its directors had voted unanimously to withdraw from the National School Boards Association (NSBA). The state group has had a number of concerns about the NSBA’s direction in recent years, and the letter to Biden cemented the decision to quit the federation.  

“This misguided approach has made our work and that of many school boards more difficult,” PSBA said.

The most recent national controversy surrounding a letter to President Biden suggesting that some parents should be considered domestic terrorists was the final straw.

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The state group added that NSBA’s call for federal intervention against parents who are irate over school curriculums and policies has “fomented more disputes and cast partisanship on our work on behalf of school directors.” PSBA said it seeks to “find common ground” and support all school boards, “no matter their politics.”

Now is not the time for more politics and posturing. It is the time for solutions to the many challenges facing education.

The NSBA letter to Biden, which was sent late last month, resulted in the US Department of Justice responding just a week later by announcing that the FBI would be investigating threats against school officials and staffers. NSBA executive director Chip Slaven praised the swift federal crackdown as “a strong message to individuals with violent intent who are focused on causing chaos, disrupting public schools and driving wedges between school boards and the parents, students and communities they serve.”

The trade group’s letter encouraged the Biden administration to investigate and classify the “heinous actions” of parents who allegedly threatened school officials as a form of “domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

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Loudoun County family to sue public schools over ‘negligence’ in daughter’s alleged restroom rape by ‘gender-fluid predator’

School board meetings across the US in recent months have featured calls for resignations and demands that curriculums be reformed after parents realized that in many cases, children are being taught that white people are racist oppressors and non-white people are victims of systemic racism. Parents also challenged curriculums that they considered anti-American, as well as such policies as teaching about gender identity as early as kindergarten. Allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice also has been contentious.

A parent in Loudoun County, Virginia, was tackled by police and arrested after an emotional outburst at a school board meeting in June. That parent, Scott Smith, now plans to sue school officials for mishandling and allegedly trying to cover up the rape of his daughter by a 14-year-old male student who exploited the district’s gender-affirmation policies to access the girls’ restroom. The same “gender fluid” student allegedly raped another girl after being transferred to another Loudoun County school. 

Smith accused the Loudoun County School Board of smearing him as a dangerous troublemaker for political reasons, and he said the coverup gave the alleged rapist an opportunity to victimize another young girl.

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October 17th 2021, 1:46 am

Man arrested for allegedly raping woman on commuter train in Philadelphia as other passengers watche

RT

Police are decrying an incident in which they say passengers on a crowded Philadelphia commuter train stood by and did not even call 911 while a woman was assaulted and raped by a 35-year-old man in plain view.

The alleged attack reportedly occurred around 11 p.m. on Wednesday as a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) train traveled from Philadelphia to neighboring suburb Upper Darby. SEPTA said one of its employees eventually saw the rape in progress and called police, enabling officers to apprehend the partially clothed suspect, later identified as Fiston Ngoy, near the victim.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt said the incident was caught on surveillance video, giving investigators ample evidence to charge Ngoy with assault and rape. The footage also showed other passengers witnessing the entire attack and doing nothing to help the victim.

“It’s disturbing,” Bernhardt told local NBC News affiliate WCAU-TV on Friday. I’m shocked. I have no words for it. I just can’t imagine seeing what you were seeing through your own eyes, and seeing what this woman was going through, that no one would step in and help her.”

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Bernhardt said in a separate interview there were many bystanders present during the rape who could have intervened. “Somebody should have done something,” he told CBS News affiliate KYW-TV. “It speaks to where we are in society. Who would allow something like that to take place?”

Police are trying to identify people who were on the train at the time of the assault to gather information on what they witnessed. SEPTA said the rape may have been stopped sooner if a rider had called 911. “SEPTA urges anyone who observes a crime being committed or any dangerous situation occurring to report it,” agency spokesman Andrew Busch said in a statement.

A Fox News report suggested that some passengers not only did nothing to help the woman who was being raped, but also recorded the incident on their phones.

The unidentified victim was hospitalized for treatment of her injuries after the attack. Police said Ngoy didn’t know the woman. He has been unable to post bail so far and remains in jail.

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October 16th 2021, 8:16 pm

Regime-change hawk John Bolton says Russia is making ‘BIG MISTAKE’ by getting closer with China rath

RT

Former US National Security Advisor John Bolton told RT’s Going Underground that Moscow has chosen the wrong strategic path by building stronger ties with Beijing instead of mending relations with the US and Western Europe.

“I think Russia’s greatest security lies in moving West, not moving East,” Bolton said in an interview that aired in full on Saturday. He added that it’s not in Russia’s long-term interest to ally closely with China, saying, “By splitting away from the potential for closer relations with the West that we had after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I think we’ve lost a lot of time and opportunity.”

Dismissing RT host Afshin Rattansi’s suggestion that US and NATO policies were pushing Russia into the arms of China, the former advisor to then-President Donald Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin had chosen to work more closely with Beijing.

“And I think it’s a big mistake for Russia,” Bolton argued. “I think Russia’s got a lot of oil that it’s happy to sell to China, it’s got strategic weapons that it’s happy to sell to China, but I think Russia’s making a very bad decision by casting its lot in the future – for the rest of this century, potentially – with China.”

Choosing China over the Western powers may put Moscow in danger of eventually losing control over much of Russia’s territory east of the Urals, Bolton said. “You’ve got a country with a huge population and not many natural resources south of Russia with, in that part, a lot of natural resources and very few people.” 

That doesn’t speak long-term strategic stability from the Russian point of view, and I would just urge people in Russia who are thinking about this issue to think long and hard before they get too close to China.

Bolton blamed US reluctance to negotiate a new arms control agreement with Russia on China’s rise as a major nuclear power. He said that during the Cold War, such deals were essentially a “bipolar negotiation” between the US and Russia, even though a few other countries had some nukes.

“Today, we read in the newspapers from commercial satellites overhead of Chinese construction of hundreds of new ballistic silos, which are obviously being excavated to put in nuclear warheads,” Bolton said. “China’s capabilities in the nuclear field are expanding enormously… If we’re going to have new strategic weapons negotiations with Russia, China has to be included. It makes no sense whatsoever to pretend that we’re still living in the Cold War, bipolar nuclear era.”

Bolton blasted both Trump and President Joe Biden for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he said made America less secure by increasing the risk of the Central Asian country again being used as a base for terrorist operations. “There’s potential for congregating terrorists from anarchic areas around the world to a more hospitable government in Afghanistan,” he said. “I think it’s something that we should all be worried about.”

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Bolton added that European Union countries have been hasty in resuming humanitarian-aid funding in Afghanistan, a move they may come to regret if it becomes clear that the Taliban is “still a terrorist group, as they seem to be.”

He asserted that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan increases the likelihood that Islamic extremists will seize control of neighboring Pakistan and its nuclear weapons arsenal. Taliban-controlled Afghanistan “could provide aid and comfort to radicals in Pakistan – Pakistani Taliban itself, other terrorist groups that the Pakistani government created – along with extremists in the Inter-Services intelligence directorate and other parts of the Pakistani military,” Bolton said.

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That risk was among the arguments that Bolton made for keeping US troops in Afghanistan before Trump fired him as national security advisor in September 2019. “Obviously, that was not persuasive to Donald Trump and wouldn’t have been persuasive to Joe Biden,” he said.

Bolton dismissed the notion that US military interventions in such countries as Iraq and Syria had led to the rise of terrorist groups. He argued that the power vacuum created in Iraq when then-President Barack Obama withdrew US troops in 2011 allowed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) to mushroom up. He added that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against his own people necessitated a US military response, although he admitted that missile strikes hadn’t deterred the regime.

“It was evidence that the danger of the anarchy we saw in Syria – with the presence of Iranian forces, Hezbollah coming over from Lebanon to support the Assad regime, the accumulation of terrorist forces in and around Idlib -- was a compelling reason to keep US and NATO forces in northeastern Syria, which was another place Trump wanted to withdraw from,” Bolton said. “This was part of the complex dealing within the Trump administration to maintain stability, which was in US interest, rather than withdraw and see a return to terrorist control or Iranian-backed control.”

Bolton, who also called for the US to overthrow Iran’s government by fomenting an uprising against the Tehran regime, emphasized that Washington’s strikes on Syria were preceded by warnings to Russian military forces in the country.  “We understood fully – and I think that’s what Mattis was saying – that if we were not careful, there might be collateral damage, which we didn’t want. This was not in any sense aimed at Russia. It was aimed at the Assad regime.”

Bolton, who was US ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006, defended the decision to strike Syria without UN backing. “I think the organization is gridlocked and its political institutions largely a failure. If we’d gone to the Security Council, we almost certainly would have faced a Russian and Chinese veto... Neither the British nor the French thought there was any need for Security Council approval, so I think we were well within our rights to conduct the strike without reference to the Security Council.”

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The long-time war hawk defended Washington’s sanctions against countries such as Iran and Venezuela, despite estimates suggesting that those actions resulted in thousands of deaths. He said it wasn’t in the interest of the US or the Venezuelan people for Trump to treat Nicolas Maduro as the South American country’s legitimate president. Trump hinted last year that he was having second thoughts about recognizing Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s leader and that he would consider meeting with Maduro.

“Trump had a feeling for authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin, Erdogan, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un,” Bolton said. “Maduro was just part of that group of people, and I think [Trump] decided ultimately on his own that he didn’t want to do it.”

Watch Afshin Rattansi’s full interview with John Bolton on RT.com, as well as on YouTube.

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October 16th 2021, 8:16 pm

McGregor enjoys son’s christening at Vatican after sharing whiskey with Mourinho & being mobbed in s

RT

UFC superstar Conor McGregor has been in Rome with his family for the christening of his son Rhian in the Vatican, and also touched bases with Roma boss Jose Mourinho on a whistlestop tour of the Italian capital.

The Irishman continues to recover from a horror leg break in his last octagon outing.

Suffering a doctor stoppage loss in the first round of a trilogy bout with bitter rival Dustin Poirier at UFC 264, he has since been seen in cities such as Chicago, where he threw out a widely-mocked first pitch at a Cubs game, and Miami, where he was given freedom of the city and enjoyed a controversial shoeshine.

READ MORE: ‘Why film it?’ UFC star Conor McGregor splits opinion after showing himself getting shoeshine in Miami (VIDEO)

Heading over the Atlantic back to Europe, McGregor is currently in Rome since arriving earlier this week and had his son Rian christened in one of the holiest places for Catholics in the Vatican on Saturday.

Joined by long-term partner Dee Devlin plus their other kids Conor Jr and Croia, McGregor also had his mother Margaret and sisters Erin and Aoife in tow, and was snapped looking sharp in a blue suit and waistcoat.

Spotted out shopping protected by security and pushing Rian's stroller at times, he has also been mobbed at the Hotel De La Vilee after booking out its entire terrace for dinner last night.

"It’s great to see Italy, and especially Rome, on its feet strong and vibrant and energetic and Italian silk on the skin. Is it butter? No, it’s McGregor and the Italians," he wrote on social media, while sharing a video of adoring fans taking pictures of him on the streets.

Also on Friday, McGregor crossed paths with one of the Eternal City's newest celebrities in Roma boss Jose Mourinho. 

This morning, the two-time Portuguese Champions League winner shared photographic evidence of the encounter on Instagram and wrote: "Yes it's him!"

"Yes, the great Notorious is in Rome and yes it was a real pleasure to meet him, to share some stories and to offer him the most beautiful shirt in town [from AS Roma].

"He made a miracle, it’s impossible to say no to Conor," he added, while also revealing he "had to"  try Mac's Proper No. Twelve whiskey.

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‘I’m richer than the whole roster, b*tch’: McGregor brags he is wealthiest ever UFC fighter as he puffs cigarette topless in motor

October 16th 2021, 8:16 pm

‘Coffee cup Gestapo’: Australian cop slammed for checking man’s beverage to verify his excuse for no

RT

Video footage of Melbourne police checking whether a man’s coffee cup is empty to see if he’s faking his excuse for not wearing a mask is stirring the latest round of online outrage over Australia’s dystopian Covid-19 policies.

While it is unclear when exactly the video was recorded, the clip went viral on social media on Friday and Saturday, showing several police confronting a man on what appears to be a park trail. One of the officers grabs the man’s coffee cup while asking, “Do you mind if I check if there’s actually anything in that?” He shakes the cup, and after apparently proving that there’s liquid inside, he backs away and tells the man, “Enjoy your coffee.”

The 10-second clip ends with the coffee drinker telling the police, “Jesus loves you all. God bless. I’ll be praying for you all.”

While the parkgoer dealt with the confrontation calmly and cordially, and it remains unclear when exactly the footage was recorded, and online observers expressed their shock over yet another example of Australia’s apparent Covid-19 “authoritarianism.”

Australian podcast host Diogo Correa Coelho said the man would have been fined if police had found his cup to be empty. Pointing out the absurdity of the beverage crackdown, he quipped, “Coffee is known to kill Covid.”

Other Twitter users pointed to the incident as an indication of how severely personal freedoms have been crushed in the Covid-19 era. One commenter tweeted: “Two years ago, if anybody had said, in the future, groups of police officers will be checking to see whether you are carrying an empty coffee cup to avoid wearing a mask… we would have laughed in their face.”

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Many observers pointed out the ridiculousness of supposedly protecting people against the spread of a virus by touching a man’s coffee cup while wearing a presumably dirty glove and giving it back to him. As one critic noted, the police officer “touched the coffee cup, thereby increasing the likelihood of transmission, all because someone is enjoying a walk – outside, where the likelihood of transmission is extremely low. But science.”

Others made Nazi comparisons, such as calling the Melbourne police “coffee cup Gestapo.” One commenter argued that only a “police state” would officers check someone’s coffee cup so they can fine the citizen for not wearing a mask if it’s empty.

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Social media users appeared to give the police no slack for just following orders from higher-ups. Still other observers tried to illustrate the alleged police overreach through humor. 

“I am about to go long coffee beans,” one Twitter user said. “This gentleman just found another utility for java. It’s a face-diaper exemption card.” Another commenter sarcastically praised the officers for their bravery, saying, “If just one person is saved, it is worth losing your freedom.”

But many critics suggested that the obliteration of individual liberties in the name of fighting the pandemic won’t be easily reversed. “These people aren’t getting their freedom back unless there’s a complete turnaround of their entire government,” one commenter tweeted

READ MORE: Melbourne sets world record for most time spent in lockdown

Australia has imposed some of the world’s most stringent pandemic restrictions under its so-called “Covid zero” strategy of trying to completely shut down the virus. New South Wales chief health officer Dr. Kerry Chant, who advised residents in July to refrain from having conversations with people, later said Australians may have to continue wearing masks for years.

Residents of Melbourne have been subjected to the world’s longest Covid-19 lockdown, which has dragged on for more than eight months. The restrictions were eased marginally on September 29, when the state of Victoria hit its 80% first dose vaccination goal.

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October 16th 2021, 8:16 pm

‘Best in the world’: Chelsea keeper Mendy in phenomenal display as Blues beat Brentford to return to

RT

Edouard Mendy was sensational in the Chelsea goal as the Blues edged out west London rivals Brentford to climb back to the Premier League summit on Saturday.

Visitors Chelsea took the lead on the stroke of half-time through a superb volleyed strike from just inside the box by left-back Ben Chilwell.

But approaching the final stages Thomas Tuchel’s men were forced to soak up significant pressure as the newly-promoted hosts pushed for an equalizer.

Chelsea were indebted to Mendy on several occasions, with the Blues keeper blocking one effort from Pontus Jansson with his face inside the final minutes.

Mendy wasn’t done there, pulling out an even better stop in injury time to tip an overhead kick from Christian Norgaard onto the crossbar.

The 29-year-old’s heroics handed Chelsea the win as they returned to the top of the table on 19 points, one point ahead of Liverpool – who routed Watford 5-0 earlier in the day.

Manchester City, who eased past Burnley 2-0 in their game, are one point further behind.

Online, the reaction to the Blues’ win was mostly about the brilliance of the man between the sticks.

Mendy has been a revelation for Chelsea since arriving from Rennes in September of 2020 for a reported £22 million.

He has been seen as solving their goalkeeping issues after the woes endured by Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had arrived from Spain in 2018 for a world-record fee for the position but struggled to live up to the price tag. 

Mendy has helped turn Chelsea into one of the meanest defences on the continent, and was integral to their sensational Champions League win last season. 

While the Blues will gladly take the three points from a ground where big name rivals Liverpool struggled earlier this season, of some concern could be the continued goal drought in a Chelsea shirt for big-money summer signing Romelu Lukaku. 

The Belgian had a first-half effort ruled out for offside, but ultimately went a sixth game in a row for the club without scoring as he was replaced by Kai Havertz in the 77th minute. 

Next up for Chelsea is a Champions League clash with Malmo at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, which on paper would seem an ideal opportunity for Lukaku to end his struggles. 

Beyond that is the visit of Premier League basement boys Norwich City to west London next Saturday, in another game Chelsea will be widely fancied to win comfortably.  

October 16th 2021, 8:16 pm

‘We don’t believe you’: NFL fans in disbelief after search of 650,000 emails ‘didn’t find any offens

RT

NFL fans reacted in disbelief after it was reported that the league hasn't found any other team or personnel that sent emails which contained racist, anti-gay or misogynistic language amid the resignation of Jon Gruden.

An anonymous individual familiar with the documents revealed the news to The Associated Press.

They said that the NFL didn't "identify other areas and other individuals it has to contact at club leadership or league leadership levels".

The league hasn't yet publicly released its findings across 650,000 emails that independent investigators gathered during an investigation into sexual harassment and other conditions in the Washington Football Team's workplace.

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"The NFL did not identify any problems anywhere near what you saw with Jon Gruden," claimed the person in question.

Gruden resigned at the turn of the week as the Las Vegas Raiders' head coach after offensive comments in emails written from 2011 to 2018 to Bruce Allen, who was Washington's club executive at the time, emerged.

Gruden was working as an ESPN analyst at the time, and used slurs such as "f*ggot" and "anti-football p*ssy" to refer to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell while saying that African-American Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith had "lips the size of Michelin tires".

"Our players deserve a full accounting of any other NFL misconduct, which is why we once again call for the league to release all of the emails from the Washington investigation," tweeted Smith.

"Any evidence or knowledge that this has been suppressed must be brought to light."

Ahead of any revelation, though, fans have reacted to the AP report and the anonymous source's claims that they will not throw anything offensive up with disbelief. 

Furthermore, it has been stated that emails between top NFL counsel Jeff Pash and Allen discussing league issues and topics such as politics, according to the New York Times, have been put in a "different category" from Gruden's and were an "appropriate" part of the former's job. 

"So there should be no problem releasing all those racism-free, homophobia-free, misogyny-free emails, right?" a punter asked.

"The NFL, which is run by the owners, says none of the owners sent offensive emails but one of the coaches, who do not run the NFL, did. Okay," was a dryer take.

"Over and over again. My six-year-old lies better," was a popular reply, when it was asked if Gruden "just sent emails offering his unsolicited opinion on topics and personnel, with no reply or retort by intended receivers".

"So let me get this straight," started another critique. 

"This was an investigation on sexual harassment into the Washington football team and the only bad emails found were from a rival coach who wasn’t even employed by the NFL at the time. Yeah, sounds legit.

"650,000 emails and only Gruden’s were bad?" one more doubted asked.

"650,000 emails?"

"That’s means 99.99958% of the rest of the emails were on the up and up? Ummm, yeah. OK."

October 16th 2021, 2:33 pm

And the third runner-up is… Russia ranks among world's largest bitcoin miners

RT

Russia has emerged as the world’s third largest bitcoin miner, with its share in the total computing power of miners – known as the ‘hash rate’ – reaching 11.23%, data from the University of Cambridge published this week shows.

Russia’s share in bitcoin mining grew by nearly 30% from last year’s figures. The United States is still in the lead with 35.4%, and second place is held by Kazakhstan with 18.1%. While the media embraced and paraded the news of the US becoming the globe’s leading mining hub, Russia’s ascendance went largely unnoticed.

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Bitcoin miners were forced to scatter around the globe after China imposed a sweeping ban on the crypto-mining industry in late May amid a large-scale crackdown on cryptocurrency use in the country. Prior to that, China was the largest mining center for bitcoin, with 75% of bitcoins mined on its territory in 2019, then dropping to around 50% in 2020 and 44% in May. After the ban came into force, China’s hash rate fell to zero by July.

Russia’s relatively low energy costs and cool climate in the Far Eastern regions appear to draw miners and even let companies using surplus electricity to benefit from bitcoin‘s surging prices earlier this year. However, concerns have been raised regarding illegal mining.

In a letter to the government’s energy department in late September Igor Kobzev, governor of Russia’s Irkutsk region, complained about “avalanche-like growth” of energy tariffs, putting the blame on underground crypto-miners. 

An analysis of the situation indicates an avalanche-like increase in energy consumption from the mining of cryptocurrency at tariffs for the population, which is further aggravated by the ban on mining introduced by the Chinese authorities and the relocation of a significant amount of equipment to the Irkutsk region,” the governor wrote in the letter obtained by Vedomosti newspaper. He stated that electricity consumption by the population in the region in 2021 will exceed last year's figure by 159%. The problem of illegal mining hubs was confirmed by Russia’s Energy Ministry.

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Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowing citizens to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, moving the crypto market out of a so-called ‘grey zone’ in financial law. However, the law didn’t embrace crypto as legal tender, banning businesses from accepting digital denominations on a par with the ruble. Russia's central bank earlier this year warned people to steer clear of dealing in cryptocurrencies, stating it was always risky, especially for unprepared investors.

The crypto market, which saw the values of its assets rising to unprecedented highs earlier this year, has since gone through a series of crashes that have wiped significant sums off of investments. Now bitcoin is on the rise again, soaring to its highest level since May at $60,000 per coin on Friday. However, experts warn the surge may bring about another sell-off in the near future.

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

October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

Shoot for the stars: Russian duo making world’s first space feature film set to return to Earth

RT

A two-person film crew, who became the first to shoot footage for a feature film in Earth’s orbit, are set to travel home from the International Space Station on Sunday. They also helped out with the regular work in space.

The Soyuz MS-18 spaceship, piloted by veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station (ISS) at around 4.15am Moscow time (01:15 GMT). About three hours later, the return capsule is to land in a remote part of Kazakhstan, bringing home Novitsky and two historic space visitors.

Actress Yulia Peresild and moviemaker Klim Shipenko were picked for a pioneering collaboration between Russia's television Channel 1 and the national space agency Roscosmos. During their 12-day stay on board the ISS, they filmed footage for an upcoming feature-length movie called ‘The Challenge’, in which Peresild stars. Some 35-40 minutes of screen time will consist of images taken in actual space. RT runs special coverage of the groundbreaking mission.

The film plot centers around a female cardiac doctor who is called to go into orbit and perform heart surgery on a cosmonaut who got stranded there due to a condition. Further details of the plot remain undisclosed.

Ironically, there was a medical experiment carried out on board the ISS. According to Roscosmos, professional members of the crew conducted a study of how a human heart adapts to low-gravity conditions.

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In addition to their filming duties, the two had a bunch of responsibilities that all crew members have on the ISS, like loading the MS-18 with everything that the ship needs to carry back to Earth.

The spacecraft made a relocation maneuver on Wednesday as part of preparations for the return trip, docking to the newest addition of the Russian segment of the station, the Nauka research module.  

After landing in Kazakhstan, the three crew members will have a 10-day recuperation period. However all of them are scheduled to take part in a press conference on Tuesday, when the amateur space explorers will be able to share their experiences.

Roscosmos has great hopes for the filmmaking project, expecting a surge of public interest in space programs thanks to it. It will also become a morale booster for people in the industry, agency head Dmitry Rogozin said. He expressed his gratitude to the producers for what he called a gesture of respect to “the thousands, tens of thousands of people, who work in the Russian space rocketry.”

The mission itself is also a sort of advertisement for Roscosmos' pilot training regiment. It's comparatively short, lasting just four months, but the agency says it's comprehensive and well suited for other non-professionals, who in the future would get to fly to the ISS for whatever reasons.

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Space ‘tourists’ need better training: veteran Russian cosmonaut speaks of many challenges linked to first feature film in orbit

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October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

‘Failed’ former Health Secretary Matt Hancock loses UN Africa job just hours after celebrating the a

RT

Former UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock won’t become the special envoy for a United Nations commission working on Africa’s recovery from Covid-19, after the UN suddenly decided not to take his appointment forward.

The job of UN envoy for financial innovation and climate change for the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was seen as a chance for Hancock to revive his career after his scandalous resignation from the UK government this June.

The 43-year-old was forced to quit his job as health secretary after being photographed kissing a female aide at his office in violation of the coronavirus social distancing rules.

He celebrated the United Nations appointment on Twitter earlier this week, saying that he was honoured to be appointed as a special representative and work “to help African economic recovery from the pandemic and promote sustainable development.”

The former health secretary attached screenshots of a letter from the UN’s under-secretary general, Vera Songwe, to his tweet, in which she praised his “success” in overseeing the Covid-19 response in Britain, as well as his “fiscal and monetary experience.” He also received congratulations on the new job from some of his Conservative Party colleagues. 

However, it turned out on Saturday that the UN gig won’t be happening after all for Hancock, an MP for West Suffolk.

“Hancock’s appointment by the UN Economic Commission for Africa is not being taken forward. ECA has advised him of the matter,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, as cited by media site PassBlue.

The press release on the British politician’s new role in the commission has also apparently been removed from the ECA’s website.

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The BBC reported on Saturday that it “understands the organisation has decided not to go ahead with the appointment” of Hancock, who is yet to comment on the matter.

The announcement by Hancock that he was joining the ECA sparked controversy as it coincided with the release of a parliamentary committee report slamming the British government’s response to the pandemic. Among other things, its authors labeled the lockdowns and social distancing rules during the early weeks “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced.”

UK opposition parties and human rights groups expressed serious doubts surrounding Hancock’s appointment, with Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden saying, “The last thing the African continent needs is a failed British politician. This isn’t the 19th century.” 

Amnesty International noted that while he was health secretary, Hancock “opposed calls to lift intellectual property rights that would allow Covid-19 vaccines to be produced worldwide and ensure access to life-saving vaccines for billions of people.”

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It’s unclear if the UN’s decision not to appoint Hancock was motivated by the backlash or other reasons.

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October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

Britain to ramp up security for its lawmakers, interior minister says following murder of MP David A

RT

Protective measures will be reviewed for lawmakers during meetings with voters, the UK interior minister says. After visiting the site of Friday’s fatal stabbing of an MP, she described the incident as an attack on democracy.

All measures are being put in place for the security of MPs so that they can carry on with their duties as elected democratic members,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Saturday. Lawmakers should remain accessible to the public, she added, “to absolutely stand by the principles that we are elected by.”

We live in an open society, a democracy. We cannot be cowed by any individual.

The statement came following her visit to the church in Leigh-on-Sea where Conservative Party MP David Amess was stabbed to death on Friday. Patel paid tribute to him, alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer.

Amess, who was 69 years old and served most of his life in Parliament, was engaging with the public in a regular meeting known as a constituency surgery. While protection is offered to MPs in Westminster, with armed police patrolling the territory, in their electoral districts, lawmakers are open to anyone who turns up.

Amess, a father of five, was repeatedly attacked with a knife in the middle of the day by a man in his 20s. Having detained the assailant, police described the incident as a terrorist attack, with a possible link to Islamist extremism.

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Galloway: I’m devastated by the killing of David Amess – I always felt it could happen to me. Politicians have no protection

The fatal stabbing adds to the list of incidents in which British lawmakers have been attacked over the years. A lawmaker from the Labour Party, Jo Cox, was assassinated in 2016. A minister in Tony Blair’s government, Stephen Timms, survived a stabbing attack in East London in 2010, also during a constituency surgery.

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October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

WATCH: Woman goes viral for casually enjoying drink as wild brawl unfolds around her at Seattle-Nash

RT

Hockey fans had a night they'll never forget during the Seattle Kraken's second-ever match in the NHL, as their brawling in the stands went viral while a woman casually enjoyed her drink with fighting in her lap.

The Kraken kicked off life in hockey's top championship with a 4-3 defeat against the Vegas Golden Knights last weekend.

Again on the road, this time in Nashville, they notched their maiden win by the same scoreline against the Predators at the Bridgestone Arena.

Yet what was a night to remember for many almost 2,500 miles away back in the Emerald City was one to forget for some of those in attendance on Thursday night.

As the action unfolded on the rink, there were violent clashes between fans of both outfits who exchanged a series of blows.

Two separate eyewitnesses uploaded videos, with one clip seen close to 800,000 times as one Kraken fan beat up someone wearing a Predators sweatshirt. 

This caused Predators fans to rush to his defense, and one woman caught many people's attention for casually talking to her friend and continuing to consume her beverage as a part of the brawl took place in her lap.

"Hockey fans are built different," was one conclusion from that. 

As reported by TMZ Sports, a number of the fight's participants were questioned, yet no arrests were made with neither party choosing to press charges.

"How the hell is a Kraken fan fighting, they’re only two games into their existence? You can’t be that worked over a franchise with a two-game history," someone on Twitter scoffed while reacting online.

Others made more specific critiques, however.

"Corona shirt guy with the surgical strikes. Concluded that pretty quickly with a couple of dingers to dude’s noggin," it was highlighted.

"Pretty easy when you have NOTHING to do with the fight and come in throwing cheap shots," came a reply to that observation. 

"Dude in the hite Jersey took shots from about five different people."

"Some legit shots and kept fighting. Winner-WHITE JERSEY!!!!!" quipped a separate party.

October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

Calls for wrestling icon Flair to be canceled (again) after he’s named as host for Trump-held fundra

RT

Social media users have reacted after it was reported that scandal-hit wrestling legend Ric Flair will act as an honorary host at a fundraiser held by former US President Donald Trump in December.

The event will be held in Palm Beach, Florida, at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort.

Also hosted by World Series champion and ex-MLB pitcher Tom Glavine, plus Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Doug Flutie, it aims to raise funds for retired football player Herschel Walker's Senate campaign.

Running on a Republican ticket, Walker hopes to do battle with current Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock in the 2022 election.  

Walker's bid has already met controversy this week after he had to cancel a separate fundraiser hosted by an individual whose Twitter profile featured a Swastika image used to voice opposition to Covid vaccine mandates.

And as of late, Flair is no stranger to scandal himself either.

After the airing of a 'Dark Side of the Ring' episode retold the 'Plane Ride From Hell' controversy where Flair allegedly forced female flight attendant Heidi Doyle to touch his penis on the way back from a European Tour with the WWE, he has faced calls to be canceled while losing sponsors such as CarShield. 

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‘He wanted me to touch it’: Outrage as ‘well-endowed’ WWE icon Ric Flair is accused of sexual assault during infamous 2002 flight

Flair later came out to defend himself and deny the claims, but found himself dragged on Twitter again for his association with Trump.

One of the most prevalent stances was the lack of surprise that Flair is aligned with Trump.

"Wait, so Ric Flair – an old Republican with five wives, bankruptcy, sexual misconduct allegations and other legal trouble, and unnatural hair on his resume – is a Trump supporter...and y’all are surprised?" it was asked.

"His entire gimmick the past 30 years has been Trump," it was also said, of the wrestling character Flair adopted that claimed to have been born with a golden spoon in his mouth.

"As if we needed another reason to cancel Ric Flair," read another response. 

Others scoffed that amid his other problems, the 72-year-old who was hospitalized in 2017 after suffering kidney failure was "destroying what little dignity he had left".

But separate parties were glad to learn he was a Trump sympathizer and showed their appreciation in meme form. 

"I see Ric Flair is trending because he's supporting a Trump-backed candidate and the left is losing their sh*t," was one more observation.

"How sad must your life be to get upset that people don't support democrats?

"After this disastrous [Joe Biden] presidency, more people will be against the Democrats, so get used to it."

October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

‘Honeymoon is over’: Ronaldo roasted as ‘dreadful’ & Solskjaer slammed as Man Utd fall to ‘embarrass

RT

Fans have reacted after Manchester United fell to a Premier League defeat at Leicester, with further calls for the head of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The trip to the King Power stadium to mid-table Leicester City could have yielded a welcome three points for United following a loss to Aston Villa and a draw with Everton in their last two fixtures.

When youngster Mason Greenwood put them 1-0 up on 19 minutes, everything was going well.

That was until Youri Tielemans equalized around the half hour mark, before Caglar Soyuncu then put the Foxes ahead with 12 to spare.

When a bulked-up Marcus Rashford returning from injury leveled the score four minutes later, some blushes seemed to have been spared.

But switching off for the recommencement of play opened the door for Jamie Vardy to put Brendan Rodgers' men on top once more.

And in injury time, the ball was allowed to pass a series of red shirts in the box as Patson Daka made it 4-2 for Leicester amid woeful set piece defending.

Three points awarded to the home side, the knives were sharpened online for Solskjaer and star man Ronaldo, who are now winless in their last three in the English top flight while stuck in fifth place.

Missing a flurry of chances, Ronaldo was clearly off the mark.

"Put a Luxembourg flag up in the away end and see if it tricks Ronaldo," suggested one onlooker, in reference to his perceived flat-track bully record for Portugal and stat padding as international football's all-time top scorer.

"Ronaldo wake up your team needs you," someone else demanded in-game.

"This isn't Luxembourg," it was added. 

"The Ronaldo honeymoon is over," stated a more in-depth assessment.

"Back to reality with a bang."

"An aging player on huge wages that demands a start, but to get the best out of [him] you have to set up in a certain way. Yet you often function worse as a team when he’s on the pitch."

Others were dismayed that a Leicester side which has won just one of their last seven games "beat a Manchester United side that has Ronaldo, [Paul] Pogba, [Jadon] Sancho, Greenwood, Rashford and Bruno Fernandes".

"EMBARRASSING," it was added.

The blame for this falls on Solksjaer's shoulder in the eyes of the majority, with one punter remarking "Rashford there, concentrating on his football, maybe his boss should concentrate on working on his defense" in a nod to how the England striker has been told to veer away from his work on social issues.

"I’ve never once said Ole out," revealed a separate party.

"I’m saying it today."

"No tactics. No sense of urgency. Picking the wrong sides. This team while has weak points is way too talented to be playing like this."

"Man Utd fans that are still Ole in don't genuinely believe he can be successful here, they just desperately wish he could be," began a popular Twitter account.

"Backing the manager through emotional attachment over what's actually best for the club does not make you a good fan. It makes you a f*cking idiot," it was concluded.

October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

NASA’s Lucy mission blasted into outer solar system to study Trojan asteroids & planetary evolution

RT

An ambitious project aiming to learn more about the birth and development of the solar system has launched from Florida ahead of a 12-year mission to reach asteroids near Jupiter.

Given the same name as a skeleton of a human ancestor that provided scientists with insight into evolution, the Lucy mission spacecraft started its journey on Saturday at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Initially attached to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, about an hour after blastoff, it separated from the rocket’s second stage.

To power its subsystems and multiple cameras to capture its future targets, Lucy then successfully unfurled two massive solar arrays, each around 24 feet (7.3 meters) wide.

It is now traveling at roughly 67,000mph (108,000kph), but will not reach its first destination asteroid until April 2025. Over the course of Lucy’s 12-year mission, it is set to fly by and investigate eight asteroids, believed to be like fossils of planetary formation.

“It will still be several years before we get to the first Trojan asteroid, but these objects are worth the wait and all the effort because of their immense scientific value. They are like diamonds in the sky,” Lucy principal investigator Hal Levison said.

The Trojan asteroids, possibly some of the oldest objects in the solar system, orbit the Sun in the same path as Jupiter. They are believed to contain billion-years-old raw materials that shaped the planet, as well as Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Being like time capsules from the birth of our solar system, these space rocks are hoped to deliver better knowledge of its earliest days and further development.

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“Lucy will profoundly change our understanding of planetary evolution in our solar system,” planetary scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington Adriana Ocampo said.

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October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

‘There are no words’: Mo Salah produces RIDICULOUS solo goal AGAIN as fans hail Egyptian as best in

RT

After mesmerizing football fans with a wonder goal against Manchester City earlier this month, Liverpool star Mo Salah repeated the trick in Saturday’s Premier League clash against Watford.

Salah, 29, has hit a rich vein of form which had seem him score nine times in nine games in all competitions for Liverpool leading up to this weekend.

The Egyptian King continued that red-hot run with a sensational solo goal in the 54th minute against Watford at Vicarage Road.

Inside the Watford box, the forward danced around a host of yellow shirts before curling the ball brilliantly into the far corner beyond Ben Foster.

The strike put Jurgen Klopp’s team 4-0 up as they were well on course for a thumping win against Watford, who had new manager Claudio Ranieri in the dugout for the first time.  

But the goal wasn’t the first bit of brilliance from Salah on Saturday afternoon.

The Egyptian had helped Liverpool on their way in the ninth minute when he outmuscled Watford’s Danny Rose on the right flank before curling a delightful outside-of-the-boot cross into the box for strike partner Sadio Mane to finish. 

The goal meant the Senegalese star joined Salah in the group of players to have hit 100 goals in the Premier League.

Online, fans and pundits were purring at another Salah masterclass – proclaiming him the best in the world at the moment.

“Salah is just playing ridiculous football,” wrote one popular fan account.

“This is different to his 32 goal 2017/18 season. Almost every dangerous LFC attacking move is running through him and his playmaking is matching the world class level of his goalscoring."

“There are no words, Mo Salah is just incredible,” crowed another fan account.

Former Liverpool defender-turned-pundit Jamie Carragher also hailed Salah as the best on the planet.

Gary Lineker meanwhile claimed Salah had reached Lionel Messi-type levels of greatness. 

Salah's strike was a significant one in personal terms as it moved him level with former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African players ever in the Premier League. 

Given his current form, it shouldn't be long before Salah moves into the outright lead to claim the record as his own. 

After the Watford mauling, Liverpool boss Klopp was full of praise for his Egyptian star.

“He is top,” said Klopp.“We all see it at the moment. Who is better than him?

“There is always big discussion about these kinds of things. We do not have to talk about what Ronaldo and Messi did for world football or how long they were dominant, but at the moment it is clear there is nobody better than him.

“His performance was massive today. The pass for the first goal was great and the second goal was special.”

Salah himself was typically modest about his strike, saying: “I don’t know which one was better, this one or the City one.

"I think all the goals were very important. Bobby scored a great hat-trick, Sadio scored a nice goal.

"I’m just trying to give 100% to help the team. I’m feeling confident at the moment, scoring goals and helping the team to get points.

“Hopefully we can win the league and go for the Champions League. It’s important for a club like Liverpool to fight for everything.”

Saturday's rout for Liverpool was capped by an injury-time goal from Roberto Firmino as the Brazilian bagged a hat-trick alongside goals from Salah and Mane. 

The Reds moved top of the Premier League table with their win, two points ahead of Chelsea, who face London rivals Brentford later in the day. 

Next up for Liverpool and Salah is a Champions League with Atletico Madrid in Spain, before they play bitter rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford next Sunday. 

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‘Salah was ROBBED’: Fans rage as ‘unworthy’ Ronaldo wins Premier League accolade ahead of Liverpool star… but some miss key fact

October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

‘I don’t have $50’: UFC’s Norma Dumont says she is ‘fighting to survive’ ahead of Las Vegas headline

RT

Norma Dumont says UFC fighters could be given a monthly salary by the promotion as the featherweight contender detailed her financial woes as she prepares to face Aspen Ladd in their Las Vegas main event.

Dumont will top the bill of a UFC event for the first time at the Apex on Saturday night as the Brazilian takes on American rival Ladd, who stepped in when former bantamweight champion Holly Holm was forced out due to a knee injury.

Ladd was seen failing desperately to make weight for a scheduled bantamweight fight against Macy Chiasson earlier this month but was handed a chance of redemption at 145lbs against Dumont.

For both women it offers a chance for momentum towards a potential title shot in a division ruled over with an iron fist by Amanda Nunes.

But despite preparing for the spotlight of a main event, Dumont, 31, says things have been far from easy for her financially.

“I’m fighting to survive, to live, to pay the rent, my bills. That’s what some people don’t understand. I’ve never had a good financial situation. I’ve always been hustling. People who are close to me know it,” said the US-based Dumont to Combate (via SB Nation).  

“People think that because I’m in the UFC, in Vegas, I must be swimming in money. Ever since we’ve moved here, we’ve been doing food deliveries, now Johnny (Vieira, Dumont’s coach and husband) is working at the gym, but he doesn’t earn a lot, it’s enough to pay the rent. I have some support to cover food and supplements, but that’s the minimum.”  

Fighter pay has become an increasingly contentious issue in the UFC, with accusations of fighters being undervalued by promotion chief Dana White.

High-profile cases have seen the likes of Jon Jones demand a better deal, while outsiders such as YouTube boxing upstart Jake Paul have gladly stirred the pot.

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Dumont is entering the UFC Octagon for the fourth time this weekend and boasts a 2-1 record in her outings thus far, defeating Felicia Spencer via split decision in her last appearance in May, but admitted that times were hard for her.

“If I show you what I have in the bank, I don’t have $50 to spare. No lie, it’s the truth,” said ‘The Immortal’.  

My manager helps me a lot, otherwise I would have returned to Brazil already. This is not a problem for me though, it’s fuel. I have to do my job.

“When I lived in Brazil, I didn’t think that UFC fighters were paid badly. I thought it was good because I would convert it (to reais). But it’s hard for those who live in the US, because our expenses are also in dollars.”

Dumont’s suggestion to ease the financial burden for fighters was for them to be paid a monthly salary,, rather than waiting for fight nights and the hopes of added bonuses.

“It’s not a monthly thing, too. We get paid every four months or so, if you’re an active fighter. If you get injured, you’re f*cked. You don’t know when you’re coming back to the cage,” she said.

“I think it would be nice if the UFC would pay a minimum monthly wage of $3,000 or $5,000. Then when a person fights, they would make what they already make today. Then you can survive for a few months and when you get the fight money, you can actually earn some money.

“Maybe it can get better when I renew my contract. The amount is really low in your first UFC contract. If you’re in Brazil saying we have no reason to complain, come to the US and see you would not last three months here with your first UFC check. It’s the reality.”

Both fighters made weight on Friday for this weekend's UFC Vegas 40 showdown, with the 26-year-old Ladd tipping the scales at 145lbs and Dumont coming in at 145.5lbs. 

Ladd boasts a 9-1 record in her professional MMA contests to date, while Dumont takes a 6-1 record with her into the cage on Saturday night. 

October 16th 2021, 1:16 pm

‘Scantily-clad excess’: Denmark stars in pre-match ‘pool party romp’ with female hotel staff as inve

RT

A Danish hotel boss has reprimanded staff after allegations of a wild pool party involving female workers and stars of the national football team ahead of a World Cup qualifier, prompting an investigation.

Local reports claimed that players and women were involved in "scantily-clad excess" at a hotel in Elsinore last week. 

The Danish team, who memorably reached the semifinals of Euro 2020 this summer where they fell to England, were set to fly to Chisinau for a qualifier last weekend against Moldova. 

But the events that allegedly unfolded caused the Hotel Marienlyst's manager Michael Lauritsen to fume.

In an internal email reported by The Sun, he called the behavior for which two staff members have already been disciplined "disappointing and unacceptable"

"Unfortunately, there are some employees who have been too friendly to the national team," Lauritsen wrote.

"I had not thought this could take place in my wildest imagination.

"I have to remind you that we always act professionally, and do not socialize with the players privately in guest areas or in the rooms," he demanded.

Separately to Danish magazine Se og Hor, Lauritsen confirmed that he "had to reprimand two staff members who did not comply with our personnel policy".

"I always have ongoing contact with the Danish FA, and of course we have discussed this."

"I have been told that the women were in one pool while the players were in another, and the two groups gathered in one."

"This is not going to work," he added.

Thankfully for the Danes, the alleged pool party did not have a negative impact on the players' performance.

Winning 4-0 in Moldova, they then sneaked a 1-0 victory over Austria at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on Tuesday which sealed qualification for Qatar 2022 and was celebrated by pouring champagne on manager Kasper Hjulmand.

With the Danish FA's investigation ongoing, it is unknown who the players were in the team that allegedly mingled with the female staff, in a squad that contains Premier League stars such as Andreas Christensen, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Kasper Schmeichel.

October 16th 2021, 7:31 am

‘What about her?’ Serena Williams discusses photos with ‘fun’ Sharapova which stunned tennis fans (V

RT

Serena Williams says she “loved” her meeting with Maria Sharapova at the Met Gala last month, after photos hinting at a thaw between the two former warring tennis rivals shocked fans.

The US tennis queen was pictured smiling alongside the Russian five-time Grand Slam winner at the glitzy New York fashion show, prompting some fans to wonder whether they were “hallucinating.”

The pair shared an often tetchy on-court rivalry sparked by Sharapova’s sensational victory over Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final when the Russian was just 17 years old.

Williams would go on to dominate their subsequent meetings on court, but there was no love lost between the two as they often issued barbed public comments and purportedly even feuded over Bulgarian tennis heartthrob Grigor Dimitrov.

Sharapova and Williams were seen as having frosty relations. © Reuters

However, that appears firmly in the past after the two posed for pally photos at the Met Gala along with Serena’s star sibling Venus.

Twenty-three-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena was asked about her relationship with Sharapova in a recent Instagram Q&A with fans, and described the “fun” they’d had in New York.

“What about her?” Williams replied.

“I got a chance to hang out with her at the Met Gala. She’s fun, we talked, we clicked, we laughed, we talked about tennis and it was really, really fun and I loved it!”

The comments echo those from Venus Williams, who said she and her sister “respect and love” the 34-year-old Russian.

“First of all, Serena and I were talking about Maria the day before,” Venus said amid the fan frenzy over the pictures. “We were like, ‘Damn, I wish Maria was still playing.’

“And we saw her, and we both told her separately, ‘Oh my gosh, we were just talking about you yesterday, we wish you were still on Tour.’

“We were so happy to see each other. There was hugs, there was laughing, there were stories, and there was a photo.”

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‘Am I hallucinating?’: Tennis fans react to shock Sharapova-Williams Met Gala photo in unlikely love-in between former foes

Sharapova called time on her career in 2020, while the Williams sisters are both still playing.

Serena Williams, 40, continues to chase an elusive record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, but has not tasted success at a major since winning the Australian Open in 2017.   

October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

Russia’s Kamchatka Region will choose environment over profit – governor

RT

The Kamchatka Region in Russia’s Far East will reject potentially profitable projects if they are deemed to pose a danger to the environment, its Governor Vladimir Solodov announced this week.

We turned down the project to build a hydroelectric power station on the Zhupanova River, abandoned plans to build a fish-breeding channel for Lake Kronotskoye and a number of other projects. We consider it important to explicitly discard them if the environmental harm from [the projects] is greater than the profits,” Solodov said at a plenary session of the conference on Sustainable Development and ESG Transformation.

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In reality, we are already making a number of decisions, not only about launching the most important strategic projects, but also about refusing to implement a number of initiatives that have an economic effect, but whose environmental harm and potential impact on our unique nature is incomparable with their benefits,” Solodov stressed.

Last year, the region’s authorities launched an environment monitoring system and boosted efforts to protect the region’s nature after the so-called ‘red tides’ caused the deaths of thousands of sea animals in Kamchatka’s waters​​. Scientists said the tides resulted from the intense blooming of a toxic algae. On Friday, authorities announced that the region’s ecosystems are gradually recovering, based on research results from scientists at the World Ocean Institute of the Far Eastern Federal University.

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Nearly 100,000 Russians claimed free land in Far East

Kamchatka has been increasing income for the region through fishing quota investments, which have made it possible to attract some $480 million. Under the current plan, local authorities allocate quotas to companies for the extraction of aquatic biological resources in exchange for the development of the local fishing industry. These include building a fishing fleet and fish-processing factories. The region intends to raise at least $390 million in investments for the industry in the near future.

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

October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

ISIS claims responsibility for deadly suicide attack on mosque in southern Afghanistan

RT

Islamic State terrorist group says Friday’s suicide bombing attack on a Shia mosque in southern Afghanistan that killed 47 people and left dozens wounded was carried out by its members.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Fatimiya Mosque in Kandahar province in a statement, distributed on social media by its Amaq news agency.

The statement included the names of the two male suicide bombers, saying they first shot and killed the guards at the entrances to the site.

After that, one of the attackers detonated explosives at the entrance to the mosque, while the other blew himself up inside the building, it added.

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At least 33 killed and 73 wounded after explosion at mosque gates in Kandahar, Afghanistan

It is the second major attack by IS since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in mid-August amid the withdrawal of US troops from the country. Last week, the terrorist group targeted a Shia mosque in the northern city of Kunduz, killing 46 people and injuring 143 others.

The Afghan branch of Islamic State, known as ISIS Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), had previously been active mainly in east of the country, but these recent bombings indicate that the group is expanding its operations, despite promises by the Taliban to restore peace and security in the country.

The attack in Kandahar is presumed to be especially painful for the Taliban as the province is seen as the group’s spiritual heartland.

ISIS-K was behind the suicide bombing outside Kabul’s airport on August 26 during the chaotic evacuation of the US and its allies from Afghanistan. The massive explosion and subsequent gunfire killed 13 US soldiers and over 160 Afghan civilians.

US forces responded to the attack with airstrikes against IS targets in eastern Nangarhar Province and a drone strike in Kabul intended to target a terrorist, but which ended up killing 10 civilians, seven of whom were children.

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Pentagon offers unspecified ‘condolence payments’ for 7 Afghan children & aid worker murdered in botched drone strike

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October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

Australia is making the most out of the COAL BOOM

RT

Australia continues to back its coal industry as many Western nations have turned their back on the dirtiest fossil fuel, approving a third coal mine extension in a month and bolstering partnerships for long-term coal exports.

We already know the demand is there, with China requiring increasing coal to bridge its fuel demand gap, but Australia is one of the few remaining nations outside of Asia to continue to back coal as a major energy source. 

Earlier this month, Australia approved its third coal mine extension within a month. In September, Environment Minister Sussan Ley approved extensions for the Whitehaven Coal and Wollonggong Coal mines. The latest extension approval was for the Glencore Mangoola thermal coal mine in New South Wales, allowing it to continue production for eight more years, mining approximately 52 million tons of coal.

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Coal prices in China hit record highs as floods worsen supply crunch

But it’s not just other countries that are putting pressure on Australia to join them in curbing its coal production. In May, a ruling from Australia’s high court encouraged the country’s environment minister to reconsider coal mine expansions due to the obligation the ministry has to the Australian childrens’ future, as well as the general impact of coal production and use on climate change. 

While environmental activists and international energy organizations are less than happy with Australia’s ongoing support for coal, many Australians back the decision to expand mines because of their contribution to the country’s employment. Around 400 workers are currently employed at Glencore, and the expansion will add 100 construction jobs.

Australia is the world’s biggest exporter of coal, with strong links to the Asian market. To date, Australia has made no pledge to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050, unlike many of its Western counterparts. Many countries across Europe and North America have vowed to rapidly reduce carbon emissions, an aim that is expected to be reinforced in the upcoming COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this month, which Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison will attend. 

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However, shortly after the announcement of the third expansion project, Australia’s resources minister proposed the establishment of a state-run $180-billion lending option for the coal industry, with the stipulation that borrowers support a net-zero carbon emissions target. This strategy comes as banks and insurers become less willing to lend to the dying coal sector. 

Australia’s dependence on coal is not surprising considering its close proximity to the Asian market, where coal demand remains high. Several Asian countries, most notably China and India with their ever-expanding populations, continue to rely on coal, as well as oil and gas, to meet their national energy demand. 

While China unambiguously needs as much coal as it can get its hands on to avert a [fourth-quarter] slowdown due to the tyranny of rolling power shortages, geopolitical tensions with Australia have waylaid the most convenient source of high-calorific coal from Down Under,” Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy for Asia and Oceania treasury department at Mizuho, stated of China’s reliance on coal imports.

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India faces a power crisis as coal stocks decline – Delhi chief minister

However, in late 2020, China ended its coal imports from Australia following difficult trade relations, namely Australia’s support for an international inquiry into China’s management of the Covid-19 pandemic. Coal is Australia’s third-largest export to China, a country that accounts for 32.6% of all Australian exports, with Australia exporting more to China than it imports. 

After reportedly telling utilities and steel mills to stop all Australian coal imports, China began to import its coal from regional exporters Indonesia, Mongolia, and Russia. India has apparently been buying discounted coal that was left stranded in Chinese customs following the falling out between China and Australia. In recent months, Indian cement makers and sponge iron plants have sought to boost supplies with this low-cost option. 

The Chinese stockpile of Australian coal, and its willingness to sell the supply at a discount, suggests the dedication it had to cutting trade ties with Australia. However, the energy crisis experienced in recent months has finally proved too much for China to continue holding a grudge. Fuel shortages and high energy costs have led the Chinese government to resume Australian coal imports. This month, China released Australian coal from bonded warehouses in addition to receiving 450,000 tons of Australian coal cargoes at the beginning of the month.

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During the time that China refused imports, Australia did not just simply wait for China to come running back, rather it fostered its relationship with India. Australia held its first joint working group meeting on coal and mines with India this September to encourage greater participation in Australia’s ongoing coal production. Australia identifies India as a key market for some of its lower-grade coal, with prices significantly undercutting those of the premium coal products imported by China.

With little commitment to net-zero aims, ongoing support for coal plant expansion projects despite a high court interjection, and ongoing trade links with high-demand countries across Asia, it seems unlikely that Australia will curb its coal production or make it more carbon-friendly any time soon, despite international pressure to do so.  

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

October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

‘You speak to people in confidence’: Man Utd boss Solskjaer reacts to video of Ferguson criticizing

RT

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claims he is “relaxed” about footage showing Manchester United managerial legend Sir Alex Ferguson appearing to criticize his omission of Cristiano Ronaldo from the staring line-up for the game with Everton.

Ferguson’s conversation with UFC icon Khabib Nurmagomedov – who was a guest at Old Trafford for the Premier League clash with the Toffees earlier this month – was shared on the Russian star’s Instagram account but has now been muted.   

In the original clip, Ferguson was heard suggesting to Khabib that Everton would have been handed a boost when they saw Ronaldo wasn’t starting the match.

After Khabib noted that Ronaldo had been brought on in the second half, Ferguson added: “I know, but you should always start with your best players.”

The comments were taken by many as criticism of Solskjaer, not least after Everton battled back for a 1-1 draw.

Ronaldo had come on in the 57th minute but was unable to add to his tally of five goals in six games since he rejoined United from Juventus in the summer.

At the end of the game, the 36-year-old star was seen storming off down the tunnel.

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Ahead of United’s Premier League meeting at Leicester on Saturday, Solskjaer dismissed suggestions that he felt undermined by the comments from former boss Ferguson – but said they should have remained confidential between the Scot and Khabib.

“I’m quite relaxed about it but, of course, it's not really fair on the gaffer that something like this gets broadcast,” Solskjaer told the press.  

“You always have opinions and you speak to people, you speak to people in confidence.

“I disagreed with the gaffer quite a few times and I told my wife quite a few times that I disagreed with him but that never made headlines as a player. I’m sure Sir Alex knows that it doesn't bother me.”

Solskjaer said he was not overly bothered by Ferguson's comments. © Action Images via Reuters

Ronaldo picked up the Premier League Player of the Month Award for September, a sign of the impact he has had since his return to Old Trafford.

However, Solskjaer’s team have often been unconvincing despite lying fourth in the table with 14 points from their seven games.  

“We all want to see Cristiano,” Solskjaer added. “We all want to, because he's unique, he's different, he's had a career and everyone wants to come and watch him.

“But the plain fact of it is he cannot play every single game that we play, that's just physical nature, human nature.”

Ronaldo was only used as a substitute against Everton. © Reuters

The Norwegian added that given Ferguson’s lengthy tenure as United boss, he would no full well the pressures of balancing a talent-packed squad.    

“He knows how difficult this job is anyway, the gaffer,” said Solskjaer.

“He didn't always play the same XI. He took some risks at times to rest Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney or David Beckham, the best players that we had. Sometimes it works, sometimes it didn't.”

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Solskjaer added that Ronaldo’s tunnel tantrum after the draw with Everton was also not an issue moving forward.

“I know him from before and if you lose two points later like Cristiano felt like there and then, that's natural,” he added. “I want my players to not be happy with a situation.

“I spoke to him before the game, spoke to him after the game and he was ready to come on when he was called upon.

“Unfortunately when we don't win Cristiano is not happy and that's a mindset that you want from every player. That's absolutely no problem whatsoever.”

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Ronaldo did not seem to let his frustrations linger after the match, being filmed laughing with his friend Khabib after sharing a jokey face-off with him.

The Portugal icon has since played for Portugal during the international break, hitting a hat-trick against Luxembourg in their World Cup qualifying match to extend his record international tally to 115.  

October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

Europe’s imports of Russian goods soar 50% in 2021 despite lingering sanctions – Eurostat

RT

The value of Russian exports to European countries from January to August 2021 reached $109.7 billion, allowing Russia to remain the third largest EU exporter, European statistics agency Eurostat announced this week.

The volume of Russian exports in the reporting period increased by 48.7% compared to the same period in 2020, to $73.7 billion.

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Europe’s top two exporters are China with $331.6 billion worth of exports, and the United States with $169.1 billion. The volume of European exports to Russia also surged in the first eight months of 2021, rising by 13.6% to $66.8 billion.

The EU’s largest importers from January to August 2021 were the US with $296.7 billion, the UK with $211 billion, China with $170.8 billion, and Switzerland with $118.2 billion.

The EU’s total value of exports to states outside the bloc amounted to $1.6 trillion in the reporting period, a 13.8% increase year on year. The volume of EU imports rose by 16.7% to €1.31 trillion.

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Russian exports to the bloc continue to rise despite the sanctions, which were imposed in 2014 and expanded several times since. Over this period, the EU suspended negotiations on a visa-free regime with Russia, and stalled a new basic cooperation agreement. Brussels also banned a number of Russian officials from entering EU countries and froze their assets.

In response to these measures, Russia placed restrictions on imports of a number of food products from EU countries. The measures have drawn criticism from citizens and companies both in Russia and the EU, and sparked a wave of protests among European farmers.

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

October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

At least 3 killed as 4.8 magnitude earthquake hits Indonesia's tourist island of Bali

RT

At least three people have been killed and seven others injured after a 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia's tourist island of Bali just before dawn on Saturday, the country's search and rescue agency has said.

It was mainly felt in the Karangasem and Bangli districts on the east side of the island, causing people to flee their homes in panic.

The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the earthquake at 4.8, saying that its epicenter was located 62 kilometers (38.5 miles) northeast of the port town Singaraja at a depth of 10 kilometers. The initial quake was followed by a 4.3 magnitude aftershock.

Two of those killed were buried under a landslide triggered by the quake, and another victim, a three-year-old girl, was hit by falling debris. Those injured mainly suffered fractures and head wounds, the agency said, adding that it was still collecting data on casualties and destruction. 

Bali, which is often called the ‘Island of the Gods’, only reopened to international tourists earlier this week after 18 months of curbs aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19. However, foreign visitors are only expected to start flocking to the island next month as direct international flights haven’t resumed yet. 

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Indonesia is a vast archipelago, located on the so-called ‘Ring of Fire’ – an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Ocean – so quakes and eruptions are quite common for the nation of 270 million.

The last major earthquake hit the country in January. It had a magnitude of 6.2 and resulted in at least 105 deaths and nearly 6,500 injuries.

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October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

China’s Shenzhou-13 craft successfully docks to Tiangong space station & 3 astronauts enter core mod

RT

China’s second manned mission reached the Tiangong space station, which is still under construction, on Saturday. The three astronauts left the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft and entered the station’s core module.

The Shenzhou-13 (Divine Vessel) successfully docked to the port of the space station at 6:56am (21:56 GMT).

The three astronauts, or ‘taikonauts’ as the Chinese call them, made it from the vessel to the space station’s Tianhe core module at 10:03am, the China Manned Space Agency announced.

Footage from inside Tiangong shows them greeting mission control back on Earth, becoming acquainted with the station’s equipment, and having some fun in zero-gravity.

The crew – Zhai Zhigang, 55, Wang Yaping, 41, and Ye Guangfu, 41 – will spend the next six months in orbit, making it the longest mission in the history of China’s space program.  

During this time, they will try out the key technology and robotics required to assemble the space station, test the onboard life support systems, and conduct various scientific experiments.

While this is Ye’s first trip to space, it is the second time for mission commander Zhai, who performed China’s first spacewalk in 2008. Wang, the first female on the Tiangong space station, has also been to space before (2013).

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China started construction on the space station in April, with plans to complete the ambitious project by late 2022. It currently consists of its largest Tianhe module, as well as Tianzhou-2 and Tianzhou-3 cargo crafts. The first crew of three astronauts returned from the station in September after 90 days in space.

After Zhai, Wang, and Ye make it back to Earth in April 2022, China plans to send two more manned missions to Tiangong, and add two more modules to the station.

Tiangong will likely be the only station in orbit after the aging International Space Station (ISS) ceases operations in a couple of years.

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China was not able to join the ISS project – jointly carried out by Russia, the US, Europe, Japan, and Canada – due to US laws barring it from working with NASA.

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October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

Pentagon offers unspecified ‘condolence payments’ for 7 Afghan children & aid worker murdered in bot

RT

The US military is offering “condolence payments” to a family in Afghanistan after a badly planned drone strike killed 10 civilians, including seven children, in the country’s capital in August, though did not provide any numbers.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby revealed the offer on Friday, stating that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made a “commitment” to the Akhmadi family for compensation following the August 29 drone strike, “including offering ex gratia condolence payments” and State Department assistance in relocating family members to the United States.

The offer was raised during a virtual meeting between Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl and Dr. Steven Kwon, who employed one of the Akhmadis killed in the strike at his US-based aid organization, Nutrition & Education International, long active in Afghanistan.

“Kahl noted that the strike was a tragic mistake and that Mr. Zemari Akhmadi and others who were killed were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with ISIS-K or threats to US forces,” Kirby went on.

The Pentagon initially deemed the strike a success, claiming to have killed an Islamic State militant planning attacks on American troops in Kabul, with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley even calling it “righteous.” However, thanks in large part to a New York Times investigation that raised serious questions about the military’s narrative about the drone strike, officials were soon forced to admit the operation failed to take a single terrorist off the battlefield and instead massacred an innocent family. 

READ MORE: ‘They attacked us & killed our children’: Grieving Afghan fathers demand fair investigation of US drone strike in Kabul (VIDEO)

The misidentified main target of the attack, Zemari Akhmadi, was employed as an aid worker with Nutrition & Education International for years, the Times investigation revealed. He was killed as he pulled into his driveway outside his home, with the Pentagon originally claiming he was seen loading explosives into the vehicle earlier in the day. The Times, however, obtained security footage showing Akhmadi loading jugs of water into his vehicle, suggesting the military may have mistaken them for bombs.

Among the youngest of the victims were Malika Akhmadi and Sumaya Yousoufi, both two years old, who were reportedly gathered with family at the Kabul home for a celebration. 

“They say ISIS-K lived in this house. In this house, were these children members of Islamic State?” Sumaya’s father, Jamshid Yousoufi, said in an interview with RT last month.

Malika’s dad, Emal, also recalled his last time seeing his daughter in another sit-down with RT. “On the morning of the bombing, she came and kissed me, and said: ‘Good morning, Father.’ It was our last meeting. I will never see her again,” he said, adding that no amount of money could possibly make up for his family’s loss. 

No one can compensate us. If you give us all the money in the world, it will not be enough. It’s not possible. They can’t compensate for the murder of a child, and there is no remedy for this loss.

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While the Pentagon was more or less compelled to admit the August 29 operation was a failure – the last officially acknowledged strike in the longest war in American history – it follows countless similar incidents throughout the conflict. Though the Pentagon had long been opaque with its casualty reporting, last year it issued a first-of-its-kind report to Congress outlining other condolence payments made in 2019. During that year, 65 payments were made in Afghanistan, six in Iraq and none anywhere else.

The military did not disclose the amounts it would pay out to the Akhmadi family. However, previous condolence payments have been criticized as paltry in the past, with relatives of victims in one strike in Kunduz in 2015 receiving just $6,000. Civilians wounded in the same operation were paid $3,000.

“The money is obviously not enough compared to the life of my daughter,” said Abdul Ghadir, who was compensated $6,000 after his 12-year-old girl was killed in the Kunduz strike.

I had no other choice but to accept what they gave me.

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October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

Damned if you do: Russia has nothing to gain by cutting off ties with Ukraine. But, sadly, talking t

RT

There's no point talking to Ukraine, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev says, arguing Russia should wait for a friendlier government in Kiev. The only problem is there's almost no chance of that happening any time soon.

‘Nedogovorosposobnyi’ is a Russian word with no English equivalent, describing somebody or something that is incapable of reaching agreements. There can be many reasons why a person or an organization is like this but, whatever the cause, talking to them is a waste of time. It’s never going to get anywhere.

Ukraine’s political leaders are nedogovorosposobnye, says Medvedev, who was president of Russia from 2008 to 2012 and now serves as deputy chairman of the Security Council. In a blistering article published in the newspaper Kommersant on Monday, Medvedev assaulted Ukraine’s leadership and laid out four reasons why speaking to them was pointless. 

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First, Ukraine’s leaders “lack a firm self-identification.” The country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has “specific ethnic roots” as a Russian speaker, says Medvedev, but “out of fear of another ‘Maidan’ directed against his own power, has completely changed his political and moral orientation. In essence he has rejected his own identity.” It’s like “representatives of the Jewish intelligentsia in Nazi Germany being asked to serve in the SS,” Medvedev concludes, a particularly incendiary statement given that Zelensky is himself Jewish.

Second, says Medvedev, “this generation’s Ukrainian leaders are people completely lacking in independence,” and they are utterly dependent on their American masters.

Third, these leaders are “weak people, concerned only with filling their pockets. … There are no leaders willing to sacrifice themselves for Ukraine’s sake … and for now, it seems that there won’t be.”

And fourth, Ukraine’s rulers are “ignorant and unobliging. They continually change their position in accordance with their transatlantic masters and political circumstances.” They are “crude Talleyrands,” says Medvedev, referring to the notoriously unprincipled and flexible revolutionary era French diplomat, Charles Talleyrand.

The upshot, according to Medvedev, is that “Contact with such people is not productive. … negotiations with them are absolutely pointless.” Instead of trying to strike a deal, Russia should simply do “nothing”, Medvedev argues. It should “wait for the appearance in Ukraine of a responsible leadership, which doesn’t aim for total confrontation with Russia … Only with such a Ukrainian leadership is it worth doing business. Russia can wait. We are patient people.”

The harshness of Medvedev’s language is unprecedented from a senior Russian official. The former president has long been considered a relative liberal compared to President Vladimir Putin, although it should be borne in mind that it was he who, not Putin, was in charge in 2008 during Russia’s war with Georgia. If even Medvedev has lost all patience with Ukraine, then you can be sure that the same is true of most of the rest of the Russian political class.

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We don’t know who Medvedev consulted before publishing this piece. It seems most unlikely, though, that he was working at cross-purposes to the rest of the Russian government. Indeed, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declared that the article was in total accord with the government’s position. That said, it’s noticeable that the Russian state continues to express a willingness to engage in dialogue with Kiev. In that respect, Putin is perhaps rather more moderate than those around him. 

This is a point often lost in the West. Were Putin to leave office, it’s most unlikely that a more pro-Western leader would take his place, or that his successor would cave in to foreign demands concerning Ukraine. On the contrary, the successor might well take an even harder line.

The reason is simple. Efforts to end the war in Donbass in eastern Ukraine have come to nothing. The basis for ending the war is the Minsk II agreement of February 2015. This requires Kiev to grant “special status” to Donbass and give an amnesty to those involved in the rebellion. It also calls for local elections in the region, after which control of the border with Russia will be handed back to the Ukrainian authorities.

Kiev, however, insists that it will grant neither autonomy nor an amnesty. It also demands the immediate disarmament of the rebel forces, and insists that it must receive control of the border not after elections but before them. In essence, the Ukrainian government rejects the Minsk agreement and demands the unconditional surrender of the rebel forces. 

Zelensky’s election in 2019 raised expectations that Ukraine would adopt a more practical stance. Instead, it has doubled down on the old one, and even gone further, demanding that the Minsk agreement be replaced by a new one more favourable to Kiev. With this, Moscow has had to abandon any hope that Ukraine would adopt a more malleable line.

All this explains Medvedev’s letter, which is a clear response to the immense frustration that Russia feels regarding what it considers Ukraine’s intransigence. It’s a frustration that the Kremlin feels also with respect to the United States, as revealed by the failure of talks in Moscow this week between Russian officials and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland. The Americans “aren’t listening to us,” complained Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

Given the inability to make any progress through negotiation, the temptation to break off talks and wait until a more amenable foreign government comes along must be great. The problem with Medvedev’s recommendation, however, is that there is absolutely no prospect of more friendly administrations appearing either in Washington or Kiev.

In part, this is a problem of Moscow’s own making. The takeover of Crimea and subsequent support for the rebel Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine have cemented elite opinion in Ukraine firmly against Russia. It has also created a generation of security officials whose careers have been built on fighting Russia. The dynamics of Ukrainian politics have pushed pro-Russian elements to the margins; the country’s intelligentsia is firmly attached to the nationalist agenda; and opposition forces are fragmented and weak. 

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Even if a less hostile person was to be elected president, he or she would soon find that what one might call the Ukrainian “deep state” would push him or her into an anti-Russian position. This is what happened to Zelensky. There is no obvious reason why the same thing won’t happen to his successor and to his successor’s successor.

In short, waiting isn’t really an option for Russia, as waiting won’t make anything any better. And that puts Russia in an impasse. Talking won’t work; but sitting around hoping that things spontaneously improve by themselves won’t work either. Medvedev has diagnosed the problem. A solution remains to be found.

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October 16th 2021, 6:46 am

‘Multiple people’ shot during high school football game in Alabama, causing spectators & players to

RT

Several people were wounded after shots rang out during a high school football matchup in Mobile, Alabama, according to local police, who noted that one person was rushed to hospital with “life-threatening” injuries.

Spectators and players were seen fleeing after the shooting at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile on Friday night, with the chaotic scene captured in videos making the rounds online. Details about the incident remain sparse, though police have confirmed several people had been taken in for treatment, including one victim with serious wounds.

“Multiple injuries have been reported, and those victims have been transported to the hospital. One individual has been transferred to the hospital with a life-threatening injury,” the Mobile Police Department said in a statement to a local reporter.

The shooting erupted around 10pm local time during a bout between two high schools in the area, Williamson and Vigor, according to a Mobile ABC affiliate. Another regional outlet, WKRG, confirmed that at least four were shot.

While metal detectors were installed at the same stadium after another shooting during a high school game in 2019 that left nine people injured, it is unclear how the gun made it into the arena on Friday. One witness, Miskia Barnes, raised that question to WKRG during a brief interview after the latest incident.

“It’s just a shame that you can’t come to a high school football game without this kind of nonsense. What I’m worried about and what I’m wondering – how they even got inside with guns. How did they get inside?” Barnes asked, adding “It’s horrible.”

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October 16th 2021, 1:02 am

German state allows ALL businesses to ban unvaxxed customers – even for groceries & other essentials

RT

The German state of Hesse has become the first to allow businesses to deny the unvaccinated access even to basic necessities, setting a troubling precedent as its neighbors wrestle with protests against vaccination mandates.

Hessian supermarkets have been granted permission to deny the unvaccinated the right to buy food and other essentials, the state chancellery confirmed to German magazine BILD on Friday. Under the new policy, stores can decide whether to implement the so-called “2G rule,” which means allowing entry only to the vaccinated and recovered – “geimpft” and “genesen” in German, respectively – or the more lax “3G rule” encompassing those who’ve tested negative for the virus (known locally as “getestet”).

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Minister-President Volcker Bouffier somewhat bafflingly told BILD he hoped the new rule wouldn’t be widely implemented, explaining: “We are assuming this option will only be used selectively and that everyday businesses will not make use of it.”

“The greatest protection is provided by vaccination. And still it is uncomplicated, unbureaucratic and free to get,” he boasted, noting that masking and social distancing requirements would remain in place for businesses that failed to adopt the more exclusionary 2G Rule. In exchange for admitting only vaccinated or recovered people, 2G businesses are allowed to forgo social distancing and mask mandates – perhaps a tempting tradeoff after 18 months of burdensome face coverings.

In addition to the new 2G option, hospital staff who remain unvaccinated must be tested for Covid-19 twice a week, and students are still required to mask up while seated in class. 

While at least eight other German states have opened up the 2G option for certain businesses like bars, restaurants, gyms, cinemas and brothels, Hesse is the first to allow the rule at grocery stores and other retail shops. 

Though other European nations like Italy and France have implemented strict vaccine requirements forbidding the unvaxxed from working (Italy) or eating at cafes (France), most leaders have stopped short of directly mandating jabs for their citizens. However, concerns about vaccine passports have sent hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to protest, even while countries like the US begin to reopen for travel – to the vaccinated only, of course.

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October 16th 2021, 1:02 am

Chicago’s mayor & police union duel in court over Covid-19 vaccine mandate as gun violence continues

RT

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s battle with the city’s police union over her Covid-19 vaccine mandate has escalated, with both sides suing each other in a dispute that may hinder efforts to fight rampant violent crime.

The city on Thursday filed a complaint against the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and its president, John Catanzara, for encouraging officers to ignore the vaccine mandate, including Friday’s deadline to report their inoculation status. The FOP shot back on Friday with a lawsuit of its own, demanding that the issue be settled in arbitration and alleging that Lightfoot failed to properly negotiate her vaccine order with the union.

“As Chicago’s mayor, I cannot and will not stand idly by while the rhetoric of conspiracy theorists threatens the health and safety of Chicago’s residents and first responders,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “President Catanzara has time and again deliberately misled our police officers by lying about the requirements of the policy and falsely claiming that there will be no repercussions if officers are insubordinate and refuse to follow a city and department directive or order.”

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Lightfoot suggested that the union is encouraging an unlawful strike, but Catanzara said no such walkout has been proposed. He argued that it’s the city that’s threatening to deplete an already understaffed police force by suspending or firing officers who don’t comply with the mayor’s vaccine order.

“Everything from this mayor is a dictatorship,” Catanzara said in a Fox News interview. “This is all about policy from the top. There was no public outcry for this policy to take effect. She just decided she was going to do it and push it on the entire city work force across the board.”

The union chief added that the Chicago Police Department is already operating with 1,000 vacant positions because it’s unable to recruit new officers amid surging crime. About half of officers haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19, he said, and many of those who chose to get the shots oppose the mandate and the reporting requirement on principle.

“They cannot get anybody to go into the police academy, and yet here she is vilifying the police yet again in a city that has over 185 expressway shootings this year alone, over 280 kids shot this year alone, and she acts like there’s nothing else going on but this Covid,” Catanzara said.

READ MORE: As Chicagoans keep getting shot, mayor Lightfoot doubles down on racist media policy of talking only to non-white reporters

The city’s lawsuit alleged that the FOP is trying to force Lightfoot’s administration to comply with the union’s “extortionate demands” or leave Chicago without enough police on the streets.

Unless the court intervenes, the complaint said, “the city will be faced with an unlawful and untenable Hobson’s choice: either exempt the FOP membership from complying with reasonable and necessary directives needed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic... or be left without a police force sufficient to keep the peace and combat the pandemic of violent crime plaguing the city.”

More than 3,400 people were shot, including 616 fatally, in Chicago in this year’s first nine months. Murders are running about 4% ahead of 2020’s torrid pace and have already exceeded the full-year totals for 2018 and 2019, according to police data. The city had 89 homicides in September alone, the highest total for that month in nearly three decades. 

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker – who, like Lightfoot, is a Democrat – offered on Thursday to send state National Guard troops to Chicago if the vaccine standoff results in a shortage of police officers.

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October 15th 2021, 10:01 pm

Armed activist shot by Kyle Rittenhouse during Kenosha riot sues city, county & police for ‘conspiri

RT

Gage Grosskreutz, one of the armed activists shot by Kyle Rittenhouse during last year’s riots in Kenosha, is blaming the authorities and police in the Wisconsin city for his injuries and is seeking monetary compensation.

In the lawsuit filed on Thursday in the US District Court in Milwaukee, Grosskreutz argued that Kenosha law enforcement officers deliberately “conspired” with “white nationalist militia persons,” which led to Rittenhouse injuring him and killing two others.

Grosskreutz alleged that local authorities essentially deputized Rittenhouse and other “vigilantes,” allowing them to patrol the streets and “shoot and kill innocent citizens.”

Kenosha’s city and county governments, as well as police and sheriff’s department officers, were named as defendants in the suit. Ironically, Grosskreutz didn’t sue the teenager who shot him. 

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The case stems from several days of rioting in August 2020, after Kenosha police shot and injured Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man with warrants pending for alleged sexual assault and other crimes. Blake was armed with a knife at the time, but major media outlets claimed he had been unarmed.

Rittenhouse, then 17, was among counter-protesters who had come to Kenosha in what they called an attempt to protect people and prevent looting and arson. Rioters eventually got into confrontations with Rittenhouse and other armed citizens. At one point, 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, who spent prison time for sexually assaulting five young boys, was caught on video repeatedly daring someone to “shoot me, ni**a.” Rosenbaum is later seen chasing Rittenhouse and trying to take his rifle away, at which point the teen shot and killed him.

Rittenhouse then ran toward a line of police down the street, but tripped and fell as a mob chased him and shouted for him to be beaten. One of the pursuers, Anthony Huber, a 26-year-old man with a history of domestic violence, hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard and was fatally shot as he tried to take his gun.

Then came Grosskreutz, who backed away after seeing Huber shot but then rushed Rittenhouse again. Video footage of the incident shows him holding a pistol in his right hand even after being shot in the bicep.

Kenosha authorities charged Rittenhouse with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the deaths of Huber and Rosenbaum, as well as attempted murder of Grosskreutz. He also faces two charges for reckless endangerment, reckless homicide and the possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor – as he was underage when he fired the rifle. His attorneys have argued he acted in self-defense. His trial is scheduled to begin November 1.

Grosskreutz’s lawsuit argued that Rittenhouse was given preferential treatment by police on account of his race.

“If a black child had shot three citizens with an assault rifle and was seen walking away from the scene of the shooting with the assault rifle in hand, while other citizens yelled he was an active shooter, he would have been shot dead,” the lawsuit said, adding that police supported the armed vigilantes because of their “systemic, racially discriminatory policies and practices.”

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Kenosha shooter charged with first-degree murder & attempted homicide, faces life in prison

Although the lawsuit condemned Rittenhouse as a “white nationalist,” there has been no evidence reported to suggest that the teenager is racist or was racially motivated. His family has even sued Joe Biden’s presidential campaign for falsely tarring Rittenhouse as a white supremacist last year.

Grosskreutz, whose rap sheet included a charge of “armed while intoxicated,” reportedly said after the Kenosha incident that his only regret was not “emptying the entire mag” of his pistol into Rittenhouse. The activist is a member of The People’s Revolution Milwaukee, a social justice group that has demanded police reforms, including a slashing of law enforcement budgets and a requirement that all officers earn college degrees in such fields as “Africology” or “Latinx Studies.”

While some observers cheered on Grosskreutz’s lawsuit, saying they hope he gets a big payoff, others argued that he alone is to blame for getting himself shot. 

“This is the guy who pretended to be a medic, then pulled a gun and attempted to murder Kyle Rittenhouse,” one commenter said on Twitter. “The only thing due to him is a prison cell.”

“Stumpy tried to enter a quick draw competition and lost. End of story. He deserves nothing,” said another critic.

Still another Twitter user agreed, saying “this guy was drawing a gun on someone who had already drawn a bigger gun.” He added that Grosskreutz is lucky to be alive and should “shut his crybaby mouth and worry about improving his decision-making skills.”

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October 15th 2021, 8:58 pm

British police officially declare fatal stabbing of MP David Amess ‘TERRORIST incident’

RT

Metropolitan Police has officially declared the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess in Essex to be a terrorist incident, and put Counter Terrorism Policing in charge of the investigation.

“The fatal stabbing in Leigh-on-Sea has tonight been declared as a terrorist incident,” by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, the Met announced late on Friday, adding that “The early investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”

The Counter Terrorism Command is “working closely with colleagues from the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit (ERSOU) and Essex Police,” the Met added.

Amess was attacked and stabbed multiple times on Friday, during a weekly meeting with constituents at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea. The authorities identified the suspect only as “a 25-year-old British man” who was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody at a police station in Essex.

Within hours, however, the British media said the suspect was “of African appearance” and identified him as being of Somali origin. His name has not been released.

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Police said they believe the suspect acted alone, and are not seeking anyone else in connection with the incident at this time. Officers are currently searching two addresses in the London area as part of the investigation.

Amess was a prominent and popular Tory MP, who represented Basildon from 1983 to 1997, and Southend West since then. He is the second serving MP to be stabbed to death in the past five years, after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed in June 2016.

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October 15th 2021, 8:48 pm

US Navy insists destroyer was on ‘routine’ mission after Russia summons military attache over Sea of

RT

Responding to Moscow’s protests over the approach of USS Chaffee to Russian territorial waters, the US Pacific Fleet called the Russian account ‘false’ and said its guided missile destroyer did nothing wrong.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that it had summoned the US military attache in Moscow to protest the incident earlier in the day, when a Russian vessel had to warn off the US Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok. 

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“The statement from the Russian Defense Ministry about the interaction between our two Navy ships is false,” the US Pacific Fleet said in a statement later in the day. The Chafee was “conducting routine operations in international waters in the Sea of Japan” when a Russian destroyer “came within approximately 65 yards” (60 meters) of the US ship while it was preparing for flight operations. 

The Pacific Fleet insisted that “the interaction was safe and professional,” and that the Russian notice to airmen and mariners (NOTAM/NOTMAR) issued for the area “was not in effect at the time of the interaction.”

“At all times, USS Chafee conducted operations in accordance with international law and custom. The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate where international law allows,” the fleet concluded.

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According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Chafee received a warning it was approaching a restricted area, but instead of changing course, “raised its colored flags to indicate preparation for a helicopter to take off from the deck, which means it is impossible to change course and speed, and took action to violate the state border of the Russian Federation in the Peter the Great Bay.” 

The anti-submarine vessel Admiral Tributs then approached the US destroyer to compel it to change course.

Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs, photographed from USS Chafee on October 15, 2021. ©  US Pacific Fleet

Moscow called the actions of the US destroyer “unprofessional” and a “crude violation” of international rules of avoiding collisions and a 1972 agreement with Washington on preventing incidents in the air and at sea.

A similar incident happened in the same area in November 2020, when USS John S McCain was driven off after straying more than two kilometers inside Russia’s internationally recognized maritime border.

The US Navy also denied wrongdoing, saying the destroyer was on a “freedom of navigation operation” to challenge “Russia's excessive maritime claims.”

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October 15th 2021, 8:48 pm

Vax-A-Million fail? Vaccine lotteries across 19 states had near ‘zero’ effect on immunization rates,

RT

Covid-19 “vaccine lottery” schemes across 19 states had no noticeable effect on vaccination rates and may have squandered millions in tax dollars, according to newly published research that suggests the programs were a major flop.

Published in the JAMA medical journal on Friday, the pre-print study by researchers at the University of Colorado Denver showed that the links between vaccine lottery announcements and inoculation rates were “very small in magnitude” and “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

“No statistically significant association was detected between a cash-drawing announcement and the number of vaccinations before or after the announcement date, a period that included announcements of lottery winners for most lottery states,” said the study, which has yet to be peer reviewed.

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While previous studies have reviewed individual lotteries, the research published on Friday looked at all 19 lottery programs collectively, comparing vaccination rates in those states before and after their announcements to other states that did not implement similar incentives. 

It noted, however, that the lackluster outcomes may have been driven, in part, by “vaccine misinformation,” as well as poorly crafted “messaging” by state governments, and observed that lotteries “may be less effective than incentives that pay with certainty.”

Ohio became the first state to roll out a lottery incentive program to encourage vaccinations in May, unveiling a $1 million cash drawing for randomly selected vaccine recipients over the age of 18 and educational scholarships to those in younger age groups. Ultimately, 26 states would follow suit and attempt some type of incentive program – including Washington’s more out-there ‘Joints for Jabs’ campaign, which offered free pot to residents – with 19 implementing cash drawings. 

While the Ohio state government initially touted the scheme as a resounding success, claiming it helped to boost vaccinations by 28% among Ohioans aged 16 and older, a study published in July suggested the results were overstated. The research found no evidence that the lottery was “associated with increased rates of adult Covid-19 vaccinations,” and, to the contrary, observed a greater decline in vaccination rates in Ohio compared to the rest of the country following the state’s May 12 announcement.

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California attempted the country’s largest vaccine lottery to date in late May, offering $116 million in cash prizes for its Vax for the Win initiative, which also included free tickets to Six Flags amusement parks and other giveaways. The effort proved a major flop, with seven-day averages for first-dose vaccinations declining by 65% after it was unveiled. Similar programs in New York and West Virginia also failed to produce results despite pouring millions of dollars into prizes.

Though other states continue to claim success with their cash giveaways, the JAMA study, as well as previous research, indicate that such programs have effectively made “zero difference,” according to Andrew Friedson, one of the study’s lead authors. 

“Drawings were not, by any means, an informative vaccine promotional strategy,” Friedson told Forbes. “It is highly possible that putting funds toward clear and complete messaging on vaccination would have been far more effective, such as awareness campaigns or more aggressive countermeasures against misinformation.”

Vaccinations in the US have slowly plummeted since their daily high of 3.6 million doses in April, dropping to fewer than 2 million doses per day by the following month, despite efforts by state governments to combat those trends. To date, some 66.5% of Americans aged 12 and older have been fully vaccinated, or around 188.5 million people, according to the CDC.

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October 15th 2021, 8:48 pm

Netflix fires black pregnant woman who organized walkout protest against Dave Chappelle comedy speci

RT

One of the organizers of a walkout protest planned by Netflix employees over Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special and its alleged transphobia has reportedly been fired.

The woman, who did not identify herself out of fear of harassment, told The Verge she was fired on suspicion of leaking internal metric data on Chappelle’s ‘The Closer’ special to the press. Netflix does not typically share such data, which could include viewership numbers, as well as the costs of the production and talent. 

“All these white people are going around talking to the press and speaking publicly on Twitter and the only person who gets fired is the Black person who was quiet the entire time,” the former employee, whom The Verge notes is black and pregnant, said. “That’s absurd, and just further shows that Black trans people are the ones being targeted in this conversation.”

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The employee claims they had only spoken internally about the metrics and it was to raise them as a point of concern to others. 

Netflix confirmed the firing, but had a different story, putting blame for the leak on the employee in question.

“We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company,” they said in a statement about the dismissal. 

Critics have defended the fired employee on social media and blasted the company as “transphobic.”

Chappelle’s comedy special has been a popular title for Netflix and celebrated by the comedian’s massive fanbase, but trans activists have attempted to label it “dangerous” due to points where Chappelle addresses the trans movement. Though he says nothing directly hateful or against trans people, Chappelle refers to gender as a “fact,” saying everyone was birthed from a woman. Chappelle’s comments on the trans movement and woke culture in his special have enraged critics, some of whom are employed by Netflix.

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The company suspended software engineer Terra Field after she attended a meeting she wasn’t invited to in an attempt to further express her concerns after having already posted a Twitter thread criticizing her employer and the comedy special. 

Chappelle has been cavalier about the entire ordeal, continuing to tour around the country and waving off social media controversies.

Netflix has stood by the special. Though they released a statement supportive of protesting employees, the company said they do not agree that Chappelle’s content can lead to real-world harm. 

The walkout by employees is planned for October 20.

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October 15th 2021, 8:48 pm

International Space Station accidentally rotates 57 degrees mid-orbit while hosting director & actre

RT

An error by Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station during engine testing accidentally rotated the satellite 57 degrees, causing American astronauts on board to sound a distress signal, it was revealed on Friday. 

The ISS is currently hosting director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild, who have made a short trip to the satellite to create 'The Challenge,' the first feature film to be recorded in space. 

The accident happened when the Russian cosmonauts began testing on the Soyuz MS-18, a spacecraft currently docked to the ISS, which is due to bring Shipenko and Peresild back to Earth on Sunday. The thrust of the engine caused the satellite to rotate. It was fixed shortly after.

However, Vladimir Solovyov, the head of the Russian segment of the ISS, said the mistake was not a huge problem, calling it "no big deal," but he revealed that space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin told him off for the error.

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"Oleg, never mind, so what if the station was rotated 57 degrees," he told cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who is currently on the ISS. "Dmitry Olegovich [Rogozin] has already chided me for it."

Novitsky is the cosmonaut who will command the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft and take the filmmakers home this weekend.

The ISS is currently inhabited by ten people, including three Russian cosmonauts, three American astronauts, and one each from the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

Capitol Police officer charged with obstruction of justice for telling January 6 protester to delete

RT

A veteran Capitol Police officer has been charged with obstruction of justice after allegedly urging a participant of the January 6 riot to delete Facebook posts showing him inside the building, and warning him of investigation.

A six-page indictment targeting Michael Riley, a Capitol Police officer for nearly 25 years, was filed by US federal prosecutors on Friday. Riley was arrested and appeared before the US District Court in Washington later in the day, where he was charged with two counts of obstruction. Each of the charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail if convicted.

According to the charging documents, Riley actively communicated with a participant of the January 6 pro-Trump rally, which devolved into rioting and culminated in members of the crowd invading the Capitol building. The violence left five people dead, including one police officer.

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Riley and the rioter, identified only as ‘Person 1’, did not know each other, but both were avid fisherman and members of fishing-related Facebook groups, according to the indictment. The two befriended on Facebook on January 1, with the officer first communicating with the other man on January 7 in the aftermath of the violence.

“Hey [Person 1], i'm a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance," Riley allegedly told the protester, warning him of the ongoing investigation.

Take down the part about being in the building they are currently investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged.

The two ultimately exchanged “dozens more Facebook direct messages,” investigators claim, with the rioter sharing several videos showing him “outside and inside the US Capitol.”

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Later, the officer was contacted by another man about Person 1, who provided the officer with a link to a January 6 livestream which showed Person 1 “smoking an unknown substance inside the Capitol building,” as well as a screenshot showing him “inhaling from a hand-rolled cigarette.” Riley allegedly told the second person he was aware of that behavior.

The communications between the officer and Person 1 allegedly continued until the rioter ended up arrested by the FBI on January 19. The man warned Riley of the development the next day, telling him that the “FBI was very curious that I had been speaking to you.”

“They took my phone and downloaded everything,” Person 1 allegedly told the officer.

While Riley told him it “was fine,” he subsequently deleted all the messages to and from Person 1. On January 21, Riley denounced the short-lived Facebook friendship, abruptly calling the man out for smoking substances, believed to be weed, inside the government building.

“I tried to defend you but then he showed me a video of you in the Capitol smoking weed and acting like a moron,” the officer allegedly wrote. “I have to say, I was shocked and dumbfounded, since your story of getting pushed in the building with no other choice now seems not only false but is a complete lie.”

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Capitol Police has acknowledged the charges against the officer, stating that Riley has been put on administrative leave pending the resolution of the case.

“Obstruction of Justice is a very serious allegation. The Department was notified about this investigation several weeks ago. Upon his arrest, the officer was placed on administrative leave pending the completion of the case,” the force’s chief, Tom Manger, said in a statement, adding that an internal administrative investigation will be launched as well.

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

Parkland school shooter plans to plead guilty, but could still face death penalty for killing 17 peo

RT

Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who confessed to killing 14 students and three staffers at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, plans to plead guilty to all of the murders in a case that sparked a major US gun control campaign.

Lawyers for Cruz, 23, told Broward County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer on Friday that their client will enter his guilty plea next Wednesday. Cruz will plead guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deadliest high school shooting in US history.

Unlike many plea agreements in the US legal system, Cruz’s admission of guilt will come with no concessions from prosecutors, who are still seeking the death penalty against him. During the sentencing phase of the case, a jury will decide whether to recommend giving Cruz the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Cruz pleaded guilty on Friday to four counts in connection with his attack on a jail guard in November 2018, nine months after the shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. His lawyers had long offered a guilty plea to the murder charges if he would be sentenced to life in prison, but prosecutors have steadfastly pressed for the death penalty.

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Appearing pale and thin, Cruz wore glasses, a mask, khaki pants and a sweater to Friday’s hearing. He answered, “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” as the judge asked him questions about his competency and his understanding of the charges to which he was pleading.

The case has already been pending for more than three and a half years, partly on delays related to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as arguments over the use of evidence and language at his trial. For instance, Scherer ruled last month that Cruz can’t be called derogatory terms such as ‘animal’ or ‘that thing’, but prosecutors will be able to refer to him as a ‘school shooter’, ‘killer’ or ‘murderer’.

The Parkland shooting, which also left 17 people injured, gave rise to March for Our Lives, a gun control group founded by student activists. While the response to the massacre has focused largely on pressing for tougher gun laws, little has been done about the failures by law enforcement and school administrators to prevent the murders.

For instance, the FBI and Broward County Sheriff’s Department failed to investigate tips about Cruz’s emotional state following his mother’s death in November 2017. The then-sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson, the school’s resource officer, allegedly hid behind a wall after the shooting started rather than entering the building and confronting the gunman.

Cruz’s disciplinary problems when he was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas were so severe that at one point he was prohibited from carrying a backpack because staffers feared that he would use the bag to conceal a weapon. He was expelled in 2017 for disciplinary violations, including fighting.

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He later posted videos online threatening to commit acts of violence, in some cases identifying the Parkland school as his target. In one video, Cruz said he would be “the next school shooter of 2018.” He was arrested about an hour after the attack and admitted to being the shooter.

Parents of the Parkland victims have expressed frustration at the slowness of the legal proceedings in Cruz’s case. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the shooting, told the Associated Press on Friday that he wants to see Cruz executed. “Death by lethal injection seems too peaceful to me,” he said. “I’d rather see a hanging in a public square.”

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

John Bolton blames Trump for Covid-19 deaths, laments Afghanistan withdrawal & wants regime change i

RT

Withdrawing from Afghanistan was bad, sanctions are good, regime change in Iran is the only way, and Donald Trump is to blame for US Covid-19 deaths, his former advisor John Bolton told RT’s Going Underground.

Speaking with RT’s Afshin Rattansi, Bolton remained true to his hawkish foreign policy views, addressing the recent US pullout from Kabul, the rise of Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), sanctions against Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, the 2018 bombing of Syria, and more.

Bolton served as Trump’s national security advisor from April 2018 to September 2019, and frequently clashed with the 45th president on how aggressive the US policy should be. He was fired after Trump called for US withdrawal from Afghanistan – something he still considers a mistake. 

Calling Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban “flawed in many respects,” Bolton said it was essentially adopted by President Joe Biden, who disregarded warnings from the Pentagon, State Department and the White House to plow ahead. 

“This is a retreat by the US from the international stage, something Biden believed in since at least 2009, ironically Trump believed in it too. I think it’s a mistake for the US, I think it’s a mistake for global stability, certainly it’s a mistake for the people of Afghanistan,” Bolton told Rattansi, arguing that the Taliban takeover will lead to the country once again serving as a base for terrorists.

Bolton also doubled down on overthrowing the government in Tehran – something the US has been trying to do for decades – calling it deeply unpopular among the Iranian people.

“It’s only through regime change in Iran that you’re gonna get a strategic decision there not to pursue nuclear weapons,” he said.

He brushed away Rattansi’s question about the 1953 US-UK coup that overthrew the democratic government of Mohammad Mossadegh, arguing it was the right thing to do and not connected with the 1979 revolution that established the Islamic Republic.

Asked if the US sanctions against Iran were worth the deaths of civilians – a question once memorably asked of his predecessor as the US envoy to the UN, Madeleine Albright – Bolton dodged. The deaths weren’t caused by the sanctions themselves, but the “mishandling” of the Iranian economy and “corruption” by the government, he said.

He also insisted sanctions against Cuba were absolutely working, pointing to “very large demonstrations” in July, though they seem to have petered out after a couple of weeks.

Bolton has nursed a vendetta against Trump ever since his dismissal, blaming him for many things in a memoir published in 2020. Speaking with RT, he also blamed the 45th president for the US response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Answering the frequent accusation that he dismantled the pandemic preparedness unit at the National Security Council, Bolton said he didn’t abolish it, but “did something really bureaucratically quite responsible: I merged it with the biological weapons unit of the NSC.”

That unit did its job, he insisted, raising red flags in January, but “Trump’s unwillingness to take Covid seriously in the beginning” because of the election was the problem, Bolton told Rattansi. 

Watch the full episode of Going Underground on Saturday, October 16, on RT.

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

‘Gender fluid’ student accused of raping teen in restroom was transferred to another school, records

RT

School administrators at Virginia's Loudoun County Public Schools reportedly allowed the alleged ‘gender fluid’ perpetrator behind the rape of a female student in the girls’ bathroom to move to a new school without warning anyone.

The supposedly gender fluid teen who stands accused of raping a female classmate in the girls’ bathroom may have had other hunting grounds, parents claimed during a fraught board meeting after learning that the student was already on electronic monitoring - i.e. that he had already been caught and judged for an earlier crime.

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Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj confirmed to local media that the same individual – a 15-year-old whose name is not being released publicly because of his age – has been charged with both crimes and is currently housed in a juvenile detention center. However, the county sheriff’s office has declined to make any statement on whether the two cases share a common perpetrator.

Parents are irate after learning that not only did the school district attempt to sweep its ‘gender fluid’ student’s crimes under the rug, but that they sent him on to another school where he was able to similarly assault someone else. The initial victim, a student at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, reported that her assault happened on May 28. But the more recent attack took place at Broad Run High School on October 6 - months after the alleged rapist’s case would have been adjudicated and he himself put behind bars if found guilty.

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The school board declined to comment when asked by NBC on the presence or absence of an ankle bracelet tracker on the student they’d so hurriedly transferred to Broad Run High School in the hope that their own negligence - which parents are now suing them over - would not be revealed. Parents have called for the board to step down after learning of the first incident.

Board member Beth Barts gave her notice on Friday, announcing she would step down on November 2 after a year representing Leesburg on the Loudoun County School Board. However, her resignation letter did not mention the twin controversies of critical race theory and LGBTQ issues, the teaching of which has triggered a significant backlash among parents.

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

Massive prison riot breaks out in Russia's southern city of Vladikavkaz – reports

RT

A large riot has broken out in a penal colony located in the city of Vladikavkaz, with up to 600 inmates reportedly taking part in the violence. Police response eventually brought the situation under control, authorities said.

The riot broke out on Friday in a prison located in the capital city of Russia’s southern Republic of North Ossetia-Alania. According to the media, between 200 to 600 inmates could have been involved in the violence. The massive rioting was reportedly prompted by a conflict between some prisoners and the administration.

The inmates reportedly damaged doors within at least one of the colony’s areas, destroying surveillance cameras and barricading themselves inside the building. Footage circulating online purports to show multiple police vehicles, including armored trucks, heading toward the colony.

The situation in the colony remains “under control,” the local ombudsman office told RIA Novosti. Earlier, the agency's source reported the riot was quelled by law enforcement units.

So far, there has been no information on any victims, an official told TASS news agency.

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

US Treasury deputy sec warns unvaxxed Americans that shortages will continue until EVERYONE is jabbe

RT

The deputy secretary at the US Treasury has put Americans on notice that the only way to end the plague of empty shelves around the country is for every resident to be vaccinated. The frank warning came off as a threat to many.

Wally Adeyemo, the Biden administration’s second-highest official in the Treasury Department, appeared to publicly blackmail the still-sizable portion of Americans who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 during a Thursday ABC interview, seemingly blaming them for the ongoing shortages of consumer goods that have led many to mock the president as ‘Empty Shelves Joe’.

Despite viral photos depicting thousands of cargo ships lined up at the Port of Los Angeles ready to unload their goods, Adeyemo claimed that the supply chain issues plaguing so many US retailers are an international issue and will only let up when a sufficient percentage of the country has been vaccinated.

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Describing the disastrous economic conditions as “an economy that’s in transition,” Adeyemo acknowledged that “we are seeing high prices for some of the things that people have to buy.” While he praised the administration’s stimulus payments, he also pinned the blame squarely on the unvaccinated.

The reality is that the only way we’re going to get to a place where we work through this transition is if everyone in America and everyone around the world gets vaccinated.

While the ABC reporter repeatedly suggested that the country’s shortages of toilet paper and other panic-buy items could be traced to international supply chain disruptions, a growing number of Americans are demanding answers regarding the weirdly specific nature of certain products missing from store shelves. Some have even voiced doubt concerning whether the shortages are being introduced deliberately, either to gin up hatred against the unvaccinated or keep Americans economically off-balance as they grow accustomed to the wild disruptions of the pandemic.

Adeyemo did the Biden cabinet no favors by adding fuel to the conspiratorial fire, explaining the primary reason Biden continued to push for everyone to be vaccinated was that only then could the White House “provide the resources the American people need to make it to the other side” of the supply chain problem.

Despite blaming the international shipping industry for empty shelves in the US, the media establishment has acknowledged that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach - which together process 40% of the nation’s imports - had their busiest years on record last year, giving the lie to the notion that the products missing from American shelves simply don’t exist. However, many truckers working for shipping companies have balked at the idea of mandatory vaccination, leaving their firms’ fleets woefully understaffed, and others have gone on strike to demand better working conditions.

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The Biden administration has attempted to address the supply chain problem by calling for the Port of Los Angeles to run 24 hours, but while he praised his own promised move as a “game changer,” the executive director of the port has made it clear that there is no timetable in place for the promised schedule shift. Meanwhile, Biden’s cabinet has come across as woefully out of touch - White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, for example, pooh-poohed the issue of empty shelves as a “high class” problem earlier this week, eliciting criticism from both Left and Right. And Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been quietly vacationing on paternity leave since mid-August, leaving the country without even a semblance of logistical oversight as the cargo clog shows no signs of dissipating.

Labor shortages are being felt far beyond the US, though often for similar reasons. In Italy, thousands of protesters turned out to block cargo ships from unloading their bounty earlier this week. The demonstrators were outraged over the country’s adoption of a mandatory vax-to-work policy similar to that threatened by the Biden administration. And the UK government has begged lorry drivers to return to work, even luring foreign drivers in with temporary visas as the country frets over its own empty shelves issues.

Australian ‘truckies’ have united with other unions to exert pressure on the government, which has kept cities like Melbourne under lockdown for months despite vanishingly few reported cases of Covid-19. The government was already floating policies like ‘no jab, no job’ over a year ago and has led the way in leveraging the pandemic to turn Five Eyes ‘democracies’ into police states. 

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

FDA panel gives nod to Johnson & Johnson booster Covid-19 jabs

RT

A day after recommending Moderna’s Covid-19 booster proposal, an advisory vaccine panel to the Food and Drug Administration endorsed Johnson & Johnson boosters as well, to be offered at least two months after the initial shot.

J&J had asked for flexibility with the booster, saying that the extra dose adds protection against the virus as early as two months after the initial vaccination, but that it could work better if people wait six months. The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted unanimously in favor of the booster, but did not set a firm timeline, according to AP.

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Friday’s vote means that the FDA advisers have now green-lit booster jabs for all three vaccines granted emergency use authorization in the US. Pfizer boosters were approved last month, while Moderna’s were given the go-ahead on Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still needs to approve both recommendations.

“There are data that suggest the effectiveness of this vaccine is actually less robust than the company’s presentation here,” Dr. Peter Marks, FDA’s top vaccine official, said during the hearing. “And that is a finding of concern particularly because that’s been seen in minority communities potentially and others.”

The panel approved the boosters despite reservations about the J&J data and the lack of time to independently verify it. Among the concerns were that only a “tiny” portion of cases in the booster study involved the delta variant of the coronavirus, and that J&J followed recipients for just over a month, leaving unanswered questions about the durability of protection. 

Dr. Arnold Monto of the University of Michigan, who chairs the panel, said there was “some urgency here to do something,” about protecting the J&J recipients. Only about 15 million Americans took the single-dose vaccine, of the 188 million inoculated in total. 

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The J&J jab rollout was hampered by concerns over “rare but serious” side effects such as blood clots and the Guillain-Barre syndrome, but regulators decided the benefits outweighed the risks. No new safety concerns were flagged with the boosters, the panel said.

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

‘It’s a lie and very serious‘: Football badboy Jese Rodriguez’s lover DENIES claims that she ran him

RT

The model on-off lover of former Real Madrid and PSG star Jese Rodriguez has taken to the internet to give her side of a story that allegedly saw her run over the forward in her car.

Ex-Big Brother Spain star Aurah Ruiz has a two-year-old child with the 28-year-old flop, now at Las Palmas, and rekindled a fiery romance with him after a previous split saw them in court.

In the latest chapter of their chaotic relationship, it was claimed that eyewitnesses saw Aurah trying to run him over in her car after they attended a concert together, with footage spreading online of a figure being helped away on a path at the side of the road.

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Rodriguez supposedly missed training due to the furor, returning on Wednesday as his team held a barbecue and midfielder Omenuke Mfulu told the media that his colleague was fine physically speaking.

And while Ruiz did admit to having rowed with the two-time Champions League winner, she refused to own up to the alleged attack.

In a video published by Mtmad and shared on social media, Aurah insisted: "I’ve not run anyone over. It’s a lie and very serious."

"I’m not going to allow people to say I’ve run my partner over."

"I know a lot of things have happened between us that we’re not proud of but we love each other and I never wanted to run him over.

“I know I lose my head sometimes but this?!!! How am I going to do something to the father of my child!! Are we all mad?!!" she asked.

Later, the influencer shared a photo of the pair via Instagram stories, with Rodriguez sleeping and the simple caption: "I love you."

For the bad boy fired from PSG in December over a sex scandal, and accused of cheating on his influencer girlfriend, attention now turns to a derby at home against Tenerife tomorrow.

Firing up the troops for the big game between the sixth-placed hosts and their fourth-placed visitors, separated by just three points in the race up to La Liga from the Segunda Division, his team's fans let off flares at their last training session ahead of the big showdown.

October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

Counter Terrorism Command police investigating if Tory MP's murder was an act of terrorism

RT

British counter terrorism police are leading the probe into the killing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess on Friday to determine if the attack was terrorism-related.

Amess was attacked and stabbed several times at a constituency open meeting held at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. 

Police said on Friday that emergency services arrived at the church within minutes, but Amess died at the scene from “multiple injuries.”

A 25-year-old man was taken into custody at the location on suspicion of the murder, and he remains in custody. A knife that is presumably the murder weapon  was also recovered at the site. 

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The investigation remains in its “very early stages,” but is being led by specialists from the Counter Terrorism Command, who will determine if the killing should be deemed an act of terrorism. 

“It will be for investigators to determine whether or not this is a terrorist incident but as always they will keep an open mind,” Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington told reporters. 

Police do not believe there is any immediate threat to anyone else in the area at this time, Harrington added. 

In the wake of the politician’s death, Home Secretary Priti Patel has ordered police review security measures in place for all MPs, due to the fact that Amess was stabbed at a surgery where MPs can meet in person with their constituents, with a spokesperson promising “immediate effect” and updates on new measures “in due course.” He was the second serving MP to be killed in the space of five years, after Labour MP Jo Cox was stabbed to death in June 2016 shortly before she was to hold a planned constituency surgery.

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October 15th 2021, 5:32 pm

Deadly bow-and-arrow attack in Norway likely linked to mental illness, suspect kept in psychiatric i

RT

Mental illness remains the main driver behind the deadly bow-and-arrow attack in Norway, police have said. While the suspect is being held in a psychiatric institution, other motives, including terrorism, have not been ruled out.

“We work with several hypotheses. They are weakened and strengthened during the investigation,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt said during a press conference on Friday. “We will find out what has happened, and why it has happened.”

The hypothesis that has been strengthened the most in the first days of the investigation is that the background is illness.

The investigators are also probing other motives, including “anger, revenge, impulse, jihad,” the official added. The suspect, a 37-year-old local man identified as Espen Andersen Braathen, has been charged with five counts of murder so far, with additional charges expected to be brought against him shortly.

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He is being kept in a “psychiatric institution” while the investigation is ongoing, Omholt said. Braathen has acknowledged killing the victims, yet refused to plead guilty.

Earlier, the police had said Braathen was a convert to Islam who had shown signs of radicalization, adding that there was a potential terrorist motive behind his actions. No terrorism charges, however, have been brought against him yet and further investigation is needed to establish whether the rampage was a terrorist attack, Omholt said.

The suspect went on a bow-and-arrow rampage in the southern town of Kongsberg on Wednesday, forcing his way into houses and one supermarket, and assaulting people in the streets. Four women and one man aged between 50 and 70 were killed during the rampage, while three others, including an off-duty police officer, were injured.

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The police refused to provide further details on the rampage or present the public with the exact course of events, seeking to avoid influencing witnesses who are still being questioned.

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October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

US lifting travel ban for foreign visitors fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in November – White Hou

RT

International visitors who are fully inoculated against Covid-19 will be allowed to enter the US from November 8, the White House has said, as the country continues to ease its travel restrictions.

White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz confirmed on Friday that “the US’ new travel policy that requires vaccination for foreign national travelers to the United States will begin on Nov 8.”

In a Twitter post, Munoz said that “this announcement and date applies both to international air and land travel,” and that the move is guided by public health recommendations.

Last month, the White House said that it would lift restrictions on air travelers from over 30 countries, including China, India, Iran, and most of Europe from early November, but it stopped short of providing a precise date.

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On Tuesday, US officials said the country would lift movement restrictions at its land borders and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico for those fully-vaccinated.

Covid-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) which are not used or authorized in the US will be recognized as a valid form of inoculation, giving the greenlight for the UK-developed AstraZeneca, as well as China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac.

However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO have stalled on giving Russia’s Sputnik V the seal of approval, despite it already being administered in scores of countries.

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Canada reopened its land border with the US in early August to fully-vaccinated Americans with a negative Covid test for non-essential travel. The lack of reciprocity from its neighbor, however, drew complaints from Canadian officials.

The ban on a large number of non-US citizens entering America has been enforced for over 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Former President Donald Trump first imposed bans on air travelers from China in early 2020, and then extended this restriction to much of Europe.

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October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

Cyprus strips 45 passports obtained by investors and their families under cash-for-citizenship schem

RT

The Cypriot government announced on Friday that it has decided to formally strip passports from 39 people who obtained citizenship under a disgraced investment scheme, as well as six of their dependents.

The Council of Ministers has decided to remove “Cypriot citizenship for 39 investors and 6 members of their families,” government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said, although he didn’t specify the names of the individuals impacted.

The government is also investigating a further six cases, and has put another 47 “under continuous monitoring... on the basis of the procedures provided.”

Cyprus agreed in October last year to end its Golden Visa scheme on November 1, 2020, which had allowed foreigners to secure residence and citizenship rights in return for investing millions into the country. To qualify, individuals would have to, at least, invest €2 million ($2.43 million) in Cypriot properties on top of a donation to the government research fund.

The scheme, dubbed cash-for-citizenship, is thought to have raised €7 billion ($8.12 billion) before the government accepted it had been open to “abusive exploitation.”

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Around 7,000 people are thought to have secured citizenship under the scheme before it was shut down, with a government appointed commission subsequently finding that more than 53% of those who received passports through this method did so unlawfully.

Once an individual has received a Cypriot passport, they would be able to travel, work, and reside in any of the other European Union member states. Previously, the European Commission criticized Cyprus for granting these passports, claiming that “European values are not for sale,” and accusing the scheme of “trading European citizenship for financial gains.”

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October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

Panama exhumes bodies from mass grave during search for victims of 1989 US invasion – media

RT

Panamanian authorities have reportedly exhumed several bags filled with human remains from a mass grave as the country conducts searches to identify victims of the 1989 US invasion that toppled General Manuel Noriega's regime.

The military operation, dubbed ‘Just Cause’, lasted a month – from December 1989 to January 1990 – and official estimates put the number of deaths at around 300 Panamanian soldiers and civilians. However, human rights groups have pegged the number of Panama’s dead in the thousands. Around 23 of the roughly 27,000 American soldiers involved in the conflict were killed in action.

The invasion remains an open wound for many Panamanians, who commemorate the event annually. There have been demands for December 20, the anniversary of the US action, to be declared a day of national mourning. Families have for decades called on the government to identify the remains of those who were killed and buried in mass graves.

On Thursday, Panama’s Attorney General Geomara Guerra announced that four bags of remains had been recovered so far at the Monte Esperanza cemetery in the city of Colon. He revealed that the remains were discovered in the same bags that US troops had distributed for burials.

“We plan to keep doing the work to dig in the earth and see how many more bags could be there,” Guerra told reporters.

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Last year, officials found the unidentified remains of about 30 people during exhumation efforts at a site of about 100 graves within Jardin de Paz cemetery in the capital, Panama City. The bodies had been buried there 30 years ago after initially being dumped in mass graves during the invasion.

Although the search was later suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions, another body was reportedly dug up after it resumed earlier this year. All the recovered remains are undergoing DNA examination to identify the individuals who were killed.

Official approval for the exhumations came after a government-implemented Truth Commission documented about 20 disappearances due to the invasion. The commission of legal experts and academics, which was set up in 2016, accessed court records and documents and uncovered new evidence and testimonies from the relatives of victims.

It has also compiled a DNA bank, containing biological samples taken from relatives that will be used to compare against the exhumed remains.

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The invasion occurred after the souring of ties between the US government and one-time CIA asset Noriega, who had trafficked cocaine for years before former US President George H.W. Bush ordered the military action to bring him “to justice.” Many believed the invasion was orchestrated to prevent Noriega from opening his mouth about his relationship with the agency.

In 2018, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found the US guilty of “human rights violations” and ordered it to “provide full reparation.” Panama's President Laurentino Cortizo said the next year that the country would explore the issue of reparations with Washington, but noted that ties between the two countries were “fluid.”

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October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

‘SMOKED’: Fans stunned as ‘kickboxing GOAT’ Petrosyan suffers savage KO & rival runs around body of

RT

Combat sports fans were left stupefied after Armenian-Italian kickboxing icon Giorgio Petrosyan was handed a brutal knockout defeat by Thai sensation Superbon Banchamek in their ONE Championship title bout.

Petrosyan, 35, is widely considered the greatest kickboxer of all time but was on the end of a savage second-round head-kick KO as he took on Superbon for the inaugural ONE Championship featherweight kickboxing world title at the promotion’s ‘First Strike’ show in Singapore.

After felling Petrosyan with a right kick to the head, the overjoyed Superbon raced around the cage screaming in joy as his rival lay flat and unconscious on the canvas.

Online, fans were stunned at the conclusion.

“From the Doctor to the Patient,” said one fan, referring to Petrosyan’s nickname.

“Superbon just knocked out one of the greatest. That knock out was scary gossshhhh!!!!!” said another.

“Insanity,” said another.

“I can’t believe this just happen. The GOAT got knocked out. I’m mad shook right now,” said another stunned onlooker.

“The legend got absolutely SMOKED,” wrote one shocked observer.  

UFC lightweight Dan Hooker, similarly in disbelief, said he was “going to pretend that never happened.”

Petrosyan boasts more than 100 wins in his remarkable career, winning a host of world titles along the way and also scooping the ONE Championship Featherweight Grand Prix prize in 2019.

However, on this occasion he met his match against Superbon, 31, the colorful Muay Thai king who recently challenged former two-weight UFC king Conor McGregor to a crossover contest.

October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

US warship intercepted by Russian Navy while trying to sail into country’s territorial waters, Mosco

RT

Russian sailors were scrambled to head off the American missile destroyer USS Chaffee as it set course to violate their country’s maritime borders in waters closed off for military exercises, Moscow’s Ministry of Defense has said.

On Friday, defense chiefs stated that the Chaffee, an Arleigh-Burke class warship operated by the US Pacific Fleet, attempted to make its way into territory in the Russian Far East, before its course was diverted by one of the country’s anti-submarine ships, the “Admiral Tributs.”

According to the reports, the vessel had been operating in the Sea of Japan for several days before trying to cross the border near the Peter the Great Gulf.

“After receiving the warning, the destroyer Chafee, instead of changing course to leave the closed area, raised its colored flags to indicate preparation for a helicopter to take off from the deck, which means it is impossible to change course and speed, and took action to violate the state border of the Russian Federation in the Peter the Great Bay,” the Russian Defense Ministry commented.

“Chafee, having seen the determination of the Russian ship’s crew not to allow the state border to be violated, changed direction and at 17:50 turned back, less than 60 meters away from the Admiral Tributs. The actions of the crew of USS Chafee were a gross violation of international rules for prevention of collision at sea and Russian-US intergovernmental agreement on prevention of incidents on the high seas and in the airspace above it,” the ministry blasted.

The US destroyer was also warned of the dangers of entering into the territory, as the Russia-China “Maritime Interaction-2021” exercises are underway in the Sea of Japan. In a message released by the Russian Air Defense Forces’ press service for the Pacific Fleet on Thursday, it was revealed that “during the exercises, the crews of the ships of the two countries will work out joint tactical maneuvering, anti-mine support, conduct artillery fire, and searching for and blocking a simulated enemy submarine.”

The incident has echoes of a similar row that took place last November, after the USS John McCain crossed into the waters of the Peter the Great Bay in what American commanders described as a “Freedom of Navigation Operation.” The McCain was warned by the Udaloy-class destroyer ‘Admiral Vinogradov’, whose crew threatened to ram it by force if it refused to turn around.

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The US insists that Peter the Great Bay was improperly claimed by the USSR in 1984. Since then, Moscow has stuck by the Soviet demarcation of the waters, which was determined by drawing a straight line between its adjacent coasts.

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October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

Bill Cosby accused of rape in new sexual assault lawsuit, months after being released from prison

RT

A new sexual assault lawsuit has been filed against comedian Bill Cosby following his release from prison this year, after his conviction on three counts of aggravated indecent assault was overturned.

Actress Lili Bernard, one of dozens of women to have accused Cosby of sexual assault, filed a lawsuit against the disgraced comedian and television star on Thursday, approximately three months after he was released from prison. 

Bernard, 57, alleges in her suit that Cosby drugged and raped her in an Atlantic City, New Jersey hotel in 1990 when she was 26. She claims to have met Cosby on the set of ‘The Cosby Show’ and he offered to be an acting mentor to her, even warning her about the “sexual pressures of Hollywood.”

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Cosby “violently and without permission” grabbed her on one occasion in July of 1990, she alleges in the suit, and then drugged and raped her the following month during a trip he said was intended for her to meet with a producer to advance her career. Benard is seeking $125 million in damages. 

Cosby was previously sentenced to three to 10 years in prison after being convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault in the fall of 2018. In June of this year, however, the 84-year-old’s conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, citing a previous prosecutorial agreement that had been ignored.

Revelations about Cosby were especially scandalous for the public, as the comedian had once widely been referred to as ‘America’s Dad’, building his brand of humor on family-friendly comedy. Since then, rumors have swirled that Cosby could be attempting to put the host of controversies behind him and return to the road as a stand-up comedian. 

Bernard told the Associated Press that Cosby’s release “retraumatized” and “terrified” her.  “I was really horrified for any woman or girl that would come into contact with him,” she said, adding that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court “let a predator back on the streets.”

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Cosby has continually denied all allegations of wrongdoing against him and maintained his innocence while facing conviction, despite the growing number of women publicly accusing him. He has similarly waved off the new lawsuit through a spokesperson, calling it “another attempt to abuse the legal process.”

“Mr. Cosby continues to maintain steadfast in his innocence and will vigorously fight ANY alleged allegations waged against him and is willing and able to take this fight to the highest court in these United States of America,” Cosby spokesperson Andrew Wyatt said. 

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October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

Virgin Galactic delays commercial space flight until late 2022, citing safety concerns around materi

RT

Richard Branson’s spaceflight business Virgin Galactic has announced that recent analysis highlighted safety concerns around the strength of materials used in its rocket ships, forcing delays to its commercial manned launches.

In a statement on Thursday, the company said it would begin a planned enhancement program and that its next test flight would be delayed until after the work had been completed.

The document stated that recent tests had highlighted concerns about materials used in the spacecraft. “One of these recent laboratory-based tests flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints, and this requires further physical inspection,” it read.

The enhancement program will “further increase margins that will enable improved reliability, durability and reduced maintenance requirements” when it begins running commercial space flights. 

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The firm’s commercial service is now expected to be delayed until late 2022.The process of improving and refitting the spacecraft is expected to take between eight and 10 months, a spokesperson told CNBC.

“The re-sequencing of our enhancement period and the Unity 23 flight underscores our safety-first procedures,” Michael Colglazier, company CEO, said in the statement.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had grounded Branson’s spaceflight firm after it learned that the July flight that carried the firm’s boss had deviated from its designated course. In September, Virgin Galactic was cleared to return to flight after the FAA completed its investigation.

Virgin Galactic stock opened 15% down on Friday morning following news of the delay.

On Wednesday, legendary television and film actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original science-fiction series ‘Star Trek’, became the oldest person to visit space as he flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket – a Virgin Galactic competitor.

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October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

‘What’s being mad going to do?’: Nets star Durant speaks on Irving predicament after teammate sideli

RT

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant has spoken out on the predicament of his teammate Kyrie Irving, who is sidelined due to a refusal to take the Covid vaccine, and claimed that being "mad" at the point guard will not change his mind.

The Nets announced on Tuesday through general manager Sean Marks that, despite being available for away games, Durant won't feature at all in the upcoming season until he is a "full participant" under New York City's vaccine protocol.

This is due to the 29-year-old not having received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, which rules him out of home fixtures at the Barclays Center and could cost him millions of dollars in lost earnings.

Yet after being accused of spreading misinformation, Irving has remained defiant and took to Instagram this week to claim his stance is "not about the money" and merely doing what's best for him.

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"I am not an advocate for either side," he claimed.

"I am doing what's best for me

"I know the consequences here, and if it means that I'm judged and demonized for that, that's just what it is – that's the role I play."

Also ruling out retiring as had been rumored, Irving was adamant he has no problem with neither the NBA nor the Nets and that his attitude is not about "any one thing". 

"It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do," he stated.

Following a 107-101 preseason win in Brooklyn over the reigning champion Minnesota Timberwolves, which Irving would have been made to sit out anyway, fellow Nets star Durant was probed on the developments. 

"[I] definitely want Kyrie to be around," Durant, who has not spoken to Irving since Marks' announcement on Tuesday, admitted.

"I wish none of this stuff would happen, but this is the situation that we are in. Kyrie made his decision on what he wanted to do and he chose to do what he wanted to do, and the team did the same.

"It's on me to just focus on me, and do my job, and let those two parties handle that situation. I want our whole team together, and I want us to be at full strength, but sometimes it don't work out that way. But I am still positive that things will work out the best for both parties."

That being said, Durant also won't waste time getting upset about Irving's absence from an outfit that is expected to challenge the Timberwolves' crown this season.

"We still get to do [what] we love to do every day," he pointed out.

"This is not the ideal situation coming into the season. But some of this, it's out of our control. So, what we can do is come in and focus on our jobs every single day.

"What is being mad going to do? We are not going to change his mind, know what I'm saying? We'll let him figure out what he needs to do and the team figure out what they need to do."

"I can't be too mad at somebody making a decision for themselves," Durant continued.

"Who am I to get upset at that? Just focus on what we got in this locker room.

"When [Irving] is ready, I am sure he will talk to [team owner] Joe [Tsai] and Sean [Marks] and they'll figure it out and they'll tell us. Until then we are going to keep grinding."

Next up for the Nets is another meeting with the Bucks, only this time in their season opener.

And until Irving is vaccinated, it is yet another clash he will be omitted from.  

October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

China launches 2nd manned flight to Tiangong space station

RT

China sent its second manned mission to the Tiangong space station on Friday, with the crew including the station’s first female Taikonaut, Wang Yaping.

The crew of the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft is set to stay on the Tianhe core module for 183 days – the longest in Chinese history – before returning to Earth in April 2022.

The taikonauts are 55-year-old Zhai Zhigang, 41-year-old Wang Yaping, and 41-year-old Ye Guangfu.

The last crew returned to Earth in September after three months aboard Tianhe. As the first people to live aboard the space station, they worked on maintenance and testing the living conditions of Tiangong after its first modules were constructed and attached in the previous months.

The new crew will test various technologies, including a robotic arm, and conduct spacewalks in orbit. Wang will become the first female Chinese taikonaut to experience a spacewalk.

China will continue to add modules to the station over the next few years and manned missions are set to continue, with the second crew’s six-month stay to become the norm moving forward, according to the Global Times. China expects Tiangong to be fully crewed by late 2022.

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October 15th 2021, 12:32 pm

‘Democracy is being tested’: Polish PM hits out at Brussels, claiming it infringes on rights of memb

RT

Poland’s prime minister has lashed out with accusations that EU institutions impede on the rights of its member nations following a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Tribunal that Warsaw’s laws reign supreme over Brussels’.

Speaking to the Polish parliament on Thursday, Mateusz Morawiecki proclaimed that “we are at a crucial moment, you could say at a crossroads in the EU's history.”

Democracy is being tested - how far will European nations retreat before this usurpation by some EU institutions.

Morawiecki’s accusations come as he is due to appear before the European Parliament next week to defend Poland’s case after a landmark court verdict found Warsaw’s constitution took primacy over EU laws.

The inquiry, which had been requested by Morawiecki to determine whether Brussels could stop the country from reorganizing its judiciary, concluded last week that some areas of EU Treaty articles are incompatible with Warsaw’s laws and subordinate to Poland’s constitution.

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The ruling found that the country not only has the right to check the constitutionality of EU laws, but also rulings made by its Court of Justice.

Several figures in the bloc spoke out against the verdict in the wake of the historic ruling. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed that Brussels would use all of its powers to ensure its law retains primacy and that its services had been sent to analyze the decision “thoroughly and swiftly” before taking its next steps.

Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn meanwhile accused the Polish government of “playing with fire” and said that if the primacy of European law is broken, “Europe as we know it…will cease to exist.”

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France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune dubbed the conclusion as an attack against the bloc and that it posed a “de facto risk of an exit” from the 27-member bloc.

The Polish PM, however, insisted shortly after the court ruling that Warsaw’s “place is and will be in the European family of nations” and has since accused the opposition of spreading “fake news” about Polexit, describing it as “a lie that aims to weaken the Union.”

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October 15th 2021, 8:58 am

Germany says there’ll be no more negotiations over Northern Ireland Protocol, as UK demands relaxati

RT

A spokesperson for the German government has said Berlin rejects any further negotiation concerning the Northern Ireland Protocol, but it supports European Commission attempts to find a solution.

Speaking on Friday, a German government spokesperson reiterated the country’s support for the European Commission and its attempt to find a solution to the issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

“The goal is to work with Great Britain to find solutions to implement the protocol, and the European Commission has the German government’s full support in this regard,” the spokesperson stated.

“However, we refuse to renegotiate the protocol,” they added, dismissing UK Brexit Minister David Frost’s demands for two to three weeks of “intense” talks. 

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The protocol has essentially drawn a customs border down the middle of the Irish Sea, keeping Northern Ireland within the EU single market. The arrangement, according to many in London and Belfast, isn’t working, and some say it threatens the hard-won peace on the island.

“There needs to be significant change if we are to get an agreed solution,” Frost told Politico on Thursday ahead of a meeting with Maros Sefcovic, who presides over EU-UK relations after Brexit. 

An EU proposal unveiled on Wednesday would see the flow of medicines between the UK and Northern Ireland go undisturbed, and all paperwork would be cut in half. Inspections on meat, dairy, and other food produce coming from the British mainland would drop by 80%. 

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In a pre-emptive message on Tuesday, Frost said he thought the EU’s proposal would likely fall short and that between two and three weeks of negotiations would be needed. In addition to customs relaxations, Britain also wants the removal of European Court of Justice's oversight (ECJ) in Northern Ireland. The court decides whether institutions of the EU are acting legally, including on matters relating to trade and adherence with the bloc's single market.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has also threatened to leave Northern Ireland’s power-sharing arrangement unless the protocol is amended.

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October 15th 2021, 8:45 am

WATCH: Protests hit major European port of Trieste amid threats to block it completely over Italy's

RT

Several thousand people staged a rally at the port of Trieste on Friday to protest the Italian government’s decision to make coronavirus health passes mandatory for all workers, which went into force on that day.

The port of Trieste, which is the seventh-largest in Europe and a key oil terminal in the Mediterranean, remained functional on Friday despite the dockers earlier threatening to completely block its operations.

While some colleagues remained working, a crowd of some 2,000 people, according to local media estimates, gathered outside one of the entrances to the port to once again decry the Green Pass mandate.

According to the new rules, all workers in Italy have to be vaccinated, recently recovered from the coronavirus, or have a fresh negative test to be able to do their jobs. Those without the Green Pass will be suspended without pay and fined 1,500 euros if found to be still working despite not having one. The government papers seen by Reuters suggested that some 15% of private and 8% of public sector employees in Italy are currently lacking a health pass. 

The people in Trieste, many of whom were sporting yellow vests and carried slogans, reading ‘Freedom’ and ‘No to Green Pass, no to discrimination’, acted peacefully and didn’t try to stop the cargo truck from getting into the port.

“The Green Pass is a bad thing. It is discrimination under the law. Nothing more. It's not a health regulation, it's just a political move to create division among people,” one of the demonstrators told the media.

The situation was also calm in Genoa and other Italian ports, which earlier voiced plans to support the strike by the dockers in Trieste. A small rally against the Green Pass mandate also took place in the capital Rome on Friday amid heavy police presence.

The port workers in Trieste in northeastern Italy have been critical of the initiative since it was first announced last month, calling it “not a health measure, but a measure of discrimination and blackmail that requires a significant part of workers to pay to be allowed to work.” They have staged a number of protests against the Green Pass mandate, with the largest rally gathering around 15,000 people as many of those employed in other areas also took part in the action.

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Earlier this week, the government offered unvaccinated port workers free Covid-19 tests until the end of the year, but the dockers rejected the proposal, saying that the Green Pass mandate must be dropped for all jobs in Italy.

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October 15th 2021, 8:45 am

Pregnant women put at risk amid maternity staffing crisis at scandal-hit NHS trust, watchdog finds

RT

A UK health sector watchdog has warned that pregnant women were exposed to “avoidable harm” due to shortages of trained maternity staff at NHS hospitals under a trust that is at the centre of a high-profile infant deaths scandal.

An investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that low staff numbers at the East Kent Hospitals Trust meant that midwives often had to work 20-hour shifts with little time for a break. The shortfall in staff with the right qualifications and training meant that women had to be transferred to different hospitals during labour on occasion.

The BBC reported that 15 babies have died in the trust’s care since 2011. In June, it was fined £761,000 for “wholly avoidable” mistakes by staff at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital that led to the death of a baby in November 2017.

Following inspections at four hospitals under the trust in July, the CQC found that staff often had to take care of two pregnant women at one time – raising the risk of a mistake during births. As well, it noted that the trust’s senior leadership was failing to “manage the priorities, risks, issues and challenges the service faced.”

According to CQC head inspector Amanda Williams, management had resorted to “offering staff financial incentives to work above their contracted hours” in order to address the lack of manpower. Meanwhile, hospital workers “felt that continually reporting short staffing had not improved the situation.”

Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic had worsened staffing shortages, the trust’s chief nursing officer, Sarah Shingler, said it had made a “£1.6m investment to fund an additional 38 additional midwives with 26 already in post.”

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Earlier this year, the CQC had warned that two in five maternity services in the country were not performing well enough, with 41% of hospitals inspected receiving ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ ratings. Last week, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) warned of an “exodus” of midwives in the UK – with 57% of maternity staff reportedly considering leaving their jobs.

Although NHS maternity services received a £96 million stimulus this year, including funding for an additional 1,000 midwives and £26 million for safety training, the RCM reported a shortage of 2,000 midwives in England alone.

There are similar gaps in staff recruitment across the health service, with NHS Digital figures showing that the total number of full-time vacancies had reached 93,806 in June 2021, an increase from 83,203 a year earlier. Meanwhile, nursing post vacancies in England had hit 38,952 over the same period – an increase from 37,760 – with one in 10 nursing posts on acute wards in London remaining unfilled.

The government has pledged to increase the number of NHS nurses by 50,000 by 2025 and NHS England announced £28 million in September 2020 towards overseas recruitment of nurses. However, trade unions and groups representing the service’s 1.4 million employees have in recent months urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to increase spending to tackle chronic staffing pressures.

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NHS doctor Tomasz Pierscionek recently told RT that the problems of overwork and underfunding had existed long before Covid, but the pandemic exposed how deep those problems ran. The intense pressure medical staff are still under is likely to result in huge gaps in their ranks, he added.

“A Royal College of Nurses’ survey revealed that a third of nurses are thinking of leaving. And the British Medical Association found that one in five doctors are thinking of quitting,” Dr. Pierscionek said, adding that it was a “vicious circle.”

“The more pressure on staff, the more staff will get sick and leave, which will increase the pressure on those that remain. Bear in mind that a lot of staff, in the last year and a half, had to go off sick with Covid themselves, or had to isolate because someone living with them had Covid. That put even greater strain on services,” he added.

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October 15th 2021, 8:45 am

‘Some people wanted to make Khabib uncomfortable’: Makhachev defends UFC icon after he used Moscow M

RT

UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev has defended friend, teammate and trainer Khabib Nurmagomedov after the Russian MMA icon used a vicious assault on the Moscow Metro to taunt rival Conor McGregor.

The latest online skirmish between Khabib and the Irishman broke out when the Russian shared an image of McGregor on Instagram Stories with the message: “Where’s my medal from Bastrykin? A group of Dagestanis also beat me up.”

Khabib tolled McGregor with the post. © Instagram

The post referenced an act of heroism earlier this month from Roman Kovalev, a Russian who stepped in to defend a woman in an altercation with three Dagestani men on the Moscow Metro but was badly beaten up.

Kovalev, 25, has been awarded a medal for bravery by the chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, for his actions, while his attackers have been detained and slapped with criminal charges.

Khabib’s use of the incident to taunt McGregor – who was famously submitted by The Eagle in 2018 before clashing with several of Khabib’s teammates in a mass post-fight melee – caused some people to accuse the Dagestani star of bad taste.

However, according to Makhchev, the post from Khabib is being distorted and used against him.

“It wasn’t discussed in any way in the team. It was just a joke towards McGregor,” said Makhachev, who is preparing under the tutelage of Khabib for this UFC 267 showdown with New Zealand’s Dan Hooker on October 30.

“This isn’t politics at all. It’s just that everyone understands it in their own way… Some people want it to be perceived in such a way that it would be uncomfortable for Khabib,” added Makhachev to Championat.  

“In the UFC, a lot of fighters taunt each other and do it a hundred times stronger. It wasn't anything like that, it was just to poke fun at McGregor.”

After Khabib’s post, attack victim Kovalev himself said that he “didn’t see anything bad in it.”

McGregor, however, responded in a far more tetchy manner, hitting back by claiming Khabib deserved a medal from Bastrykin for “sh*tting his pants on the bus” during their infamous run-in at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in April of 2018.

McGregor later posted a link to an article on 'inbreeding in Dagestan', before trading barbs with Khabib’s manager Ali Abdelaziz and claiming he would “celebrate when he dies.”

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The Irishman, 33, continues to kick his heels on the sidelines during his recovery from the broken leg he suffered in his last fight against Dustin Poirier in July.

Meanwhile, the retired Khabib has a busy month in store for his nascent coaching career.

A host of fighters from his team are preparing for action, including cousin Usman Nurmagomedov at Bellator 269 in Moscow on October 23, and Makhachev at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi one week later.

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October 15th 2021, 8:45 am

Tory MP David Amess stabbed ‘several times’ at surgery in Essex church

RT

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October 15th 2021, 8:45 am

Moldova enters state of alert over natural gas shortage as Chișinău looks to sign new long-term cont

RT

Moldova has introduced a state of alert over falling gas supplies and the lack of a new deal with Russian energy provider Gazprom. The previous contract ended in September, and the two parties have failed to agree on a renewal.

On Wednesday, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Spinu revealed that Moldova wants to make deals with Romania, Ukraine and Russia as a means to battle the current crisis, which is seeing consumption overtake imports. Further adding to the problem is Moldova’s lack of gas deposits, meaning it needs to import all of the gas it needs.

Moldova and Gazprom are yet to extend their agreement due to the proposed price of $790 per 1,000 cubic meters, seen by Chișinău as too expensive. The current contract, which sees gas prices at $200 per 1,000 cubic meters, expired at the end of September. A temporary one-month extension, at the higher spot price, has been agreed upon while negotiations continue.

As well as increasing the price, Moldova has also accused Russia of cutting supply by around a third.

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The shortage comes as Europe struggles with inflated gas prices, mainly caused by exploding global demand. Gazprom has also been reluctant to provide additional gas to Europe through the spot market, instead preferring to sign long-term contracts.

In the European Union, some politicians have accused Moscow of artificially keeping the gas supply low as a means to drive up prices. This has been denied on multiple occasions by the Kremlin. However, on Friday, European Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans revealed that there is no evidence that Russia is manipulating the market, putting the blame on skyrocketing demand.

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October 15th 2021, 7:43 am

Bitcoin climbs closer to $60,000 on prospect of first exchange-traded fund

RT

The world’s most popular cryptocurrency has soared to its highest level since May on Friday, propelled by traders’ optimism about a US approval of the first bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Bitcoin soared to $59,920 per coin on Friday, smashing a five-month high. While it gave up some earlier gains, bitcoin was trading at above $59,000 at 11:00am GMT, showing a 2.6% increase over the last 24 hours, CoinDesk data shows.

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Market analysts say that traders are optimistic about the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) authorizing the first bitcoin ETF. They view the possible approval as a landmark for the crypto industry, which has been longing to be accepted by Wall Street with its mainstream investors.

The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF is scheduled to debut at the New York Stock Exchange next Tuesday. Experts say the SEC is unlikely to ban the product, but some warn that if that happens, bitcoin could plunge.

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We are at high time frame resistance here around $58-60,000, hence a rejection on the ETF application could send Bitcoin back to $53-55,000 levels. But overall the trend is still bullish and there are a number of other ETF applications in the pipeline as well,” Vijay Ayyar, head of Asia Pacific at cryptocurrency exchange Luno, told CNBC.

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October 15th 2021, 7:43 am

Hundreds blockade Italian ports as mandatory Covid-19 passes come into effect for all workers (VIDEO

RT

Hundreds of people have gathered at Italian ports protesting the requirement for all workers to show Covid-19 health passes, which has now come into force. Failure to comply could result in suspension from the workplace and fines.

On Friday, around 300 protesters blockaded an entrance to the port of Genoa in Northwest Italy in opposition to the so-called ‘green passes’, which require both private and public workers to prove that they are either vaccinated, have tested negative for Covid, or have recently recovered from the virus.

If workers cannot produce a green pass within a grace period of five days, they will be suspended without pay and could face a fine of up to €1,500 ($1,730) should they dare to work on regardless.

Footage uploaded to Twitter showed a large gathering of people in high-visibility jackets in protest against the measure and signs saying “No green pass.”

Meanwhile, in Trieste in the northeast, some labor groups threatened to block operations indefinitely in defiance against the mandate, with crowds of hundreds demonstrating at the city’s major port.

Videos on Twitter showed swathes of people congregating and blockading the gateway of Trieste’s port. On the eve of the pass taking effect, a crowd of people gathered in front of a worker who called for them to “strike to the bitter end… until the health passport requirement is eliminated.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government approved the mandate – one of the world’s strictest anti-Covid measures – in mid-September. Rome first made the health certificate necessary to visit public venues, such as restaurants and bars. In September it became mandatory for teachers and other public sector workers to come forward and get jabbed.

The ever-tightening pass has spurred several protests in Italy. Last month, Italian police warned of planned armed attacks by anti-vaxxers ahead of a rally in Rome, with reports in local media that they were planning to use weapons and DIY explosives. Eight people were investigated for incitement to crime.

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October 15th 2021, 7:32 am

‘Breaking Bad-style’: Phoenix police bust mobile meth lab

RT

Phoenix police say they have arrested the owner of a drug lab on wheels, which they found strikingly similar to what the protagonist of the hit TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ used in his criminal enterprise.

The RV was busted near a Phoenix-area business by officers responding to a trespassing call on October 7, police said. The owner of the vehicle, identified as Jan Vose, 38, had a standing arrest warrant and was found to be in possession of suspicious pills.

Inside the RV – which Vose reportedly told officers he had used as his only home for the last three months – they discovered a mobile drug lab, complete with fentanyl.

The similarity of the lab to that of the AMC drama starring Bryan Cranston as chemistry teacher-turned drug lord Walter White was not lost on the police. They called it “Breaking Bad-style,” and used thematically appropriate graphics when they shared images of their catch on social media.

Vose was booked on charges related to drugs and organized retail theft. Police said he attempted to steal chemical solvents and a painter’s mask, which can be used for cooking meth, before being arrested.

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October 15th 2021, 7:32 am
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