Bolton: US understands Russia's position better, has yet to finalize its position on START treaty

By ethan / October 22, 2018

Following hours of talks behind closed doors in Moscow, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said that he now understands Russia’s take on things much better, and added that more consultations on arms treaties are needed.

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Bolton, the alleged mastermind behind the US pullout from the historic INF treaty, met with Secretary of Russian Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev on Monday. He arrived to Moscow shortly after the US President Donald Trump announced his desire to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

The main issue with the INF treaty, Bolton said in an interview to the Ekho Moskvy radio station, is that the weaponry systems it concerns are no longer exclusively operated by the US and Russia. Other countries, including China and North Korea, are developing and testing such systems, therefore the issue cannot be solved only by the two countries.

Apart from that, he also cited the “concerns” of the US and its allies over alleged Russian violations of the treaty, without detailing the supposed violations. Moscow has repeatedly denied such accusations. But the US still believes that Russia wants to develop intermediate-range missiles, prohibited by the INF.

The two have also discussed another fundamental deal – the  Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) – which would remain one of last obstacles before uncontrolled nuclear proliferation if the US pulls out of the INF. The treaty will expire in 2021, and Washington has not formulated its position on it yet, Bolton said.

If Trump goes ahead with pulling the US out of the INF, that will leave only one remaining pillar in the arms control architecture, the START Treaty limiting the deployment of all types of nuclear weapons. 

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Cold shoulder! Sergio Ramos unleashes attack on youth player after flying shoulder in nose (VIDEO)

By ethan / October 22, 2018

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was again the center of a storm involving a shoulder when Los Blancos academy product Sergio Reguilón crashed his shoulder into the veteran defender’s nose during a team handball training session.

Real were preparing for their Champions League Group G against Czech side Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday when a team handball match went awry as soon as Spain’s 160-cap skipper caught the ball. 

In a last ditch block attempt, Reguilón dived through the air in front of the center back, accidentally catching him on the nose with a stray shoulder, much to the chagrin of Ramos, who appeared to immediately hold his damaged conk.

Then in a flash of anger, Ramos fired a kick at the 21-year-old left back, but the ball went flying high and wide of the young player.

Not content with his outburst, and as the squad were making their way off the pitch, Ramos, holding his nose and wagging his finger at the youngster, again fired the ball at a bemused-looking Reguilón. 

READ MORE: Messi injury woe: Barcelona star to miss El Clasico after fracturing arm

Not surprisingly, the internet was quick to come crashing down on one of the most love-to-hate villains in world football, some hinting that frustration’s at Real’s disappointing start to the season could be the real reason for Ramos’ eruption.

Ramos was blamed by many football fans for injuring Liverpool’s Mo Salah after the latter dislocated his shoulder in a tussle with the defender during the 2018 Champions League final in Kiev in May

All seemed to thaw out between the pair on Twitter; Ramos tweeted a group photo including himself and Reguilón with the caption: “Although it does not seem, [these] are quite common situations, but no excuse, my reaction should not be that. We always go to full, don’t we, Regui? At the end of the team victory together. Shelve and for tomorrow’s game.”

Reguilón accepted the apology, tweeting in response: “Always with my team and my captain, for the victory tomorrow!”

The Spanish side and defending European champions go into the match at Santiago Bernabeu having lost their previous match 1-0 against CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital. They currently sit 7th in La Liga after nine games played.

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Hurricane Michael so powerful it revealed shipwrecks buried for 120 years (PHOTOS)

By ethan / October 22, 2018

Hurricane Michael’s wrath was so fearsome that not only did it wreck the Gulf Coast, leaving a massive trail of destruction in its wake, but it unearthed shipwrecks that had been buried for the past 120 years.

“They’ve been mostly stationary since 1899 when they were wrecked in a hurricane,” wrote Florida Department of State (DOS) spokeswoman Sarah Revell of the revelations, as cited by Lansing State Journal. “From time to time, some parts of the site have become exposed.”

The wooden ships near the west end of the island have now been laid bare for all to see in the wake of the highly destructive Hurricane Michael.

READ MORE: Florida cops struggle to stop armed looters as hurricane Michael death toll reaches 33

Some 15 ships were grounded on the sandy island 119 years ago in what would, by modern day standards, be classified as a Category 2 storm.

The Gulf hurricane of 1899 levelled all but nine houses in the town of Carrabelle, caused $ 1 million in damage and killed seven people, according to the Florida DOS, including one woman who was crushed by a house.

As of yet there are no plans for archaeologists to visit the newly-emerged shipwrecks given the ongoing relief efforts dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

The death toll from the recent storm currently stands at 36.  

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Autocross buggy smashes into sideline officials in Belarus (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

By ethan / October 22, 2018

A disturbing car crash has marred an autocross competition in Belarus after a buggy pilot crashed into a group of judges standing near the racing track.

READ MORE: Superbike rider gets run over by rival, amazingly emerges unscathed (VIDEO)

The incident took place on Sunday, during the autocross race in Tulovo. The driver, who apparently lost control of his car, hit two race officials who didn’t have enough time to avoid the collision, at full speed.

The two men, injured as the result of the crash, were immediately removed from the scene and taken to hospital to undergo medical observation.

According to reports in the local media, the incident left the two judges injured with one of them suffering a spinal fracture. The driver is believed to have avoided any injuries in the crash.

Local authorities have been investigating the incident including checking safety measures undertaken during the competition.

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China set to open world’s longest sea bridge to Hong Kong & Macau

By ethan / October 22, 2018

A $ 20 billion sea-crossing bridge, connecting mainland China to Hong Kong and Macau is to finally open on Tuesday. The six-lane bridge has been constructed in just nine years.

The 55-kilometer long bridge (34 miles) will cut travel time from Hong Kong to Zhuhai (in China’s southern Guangdong province) from three hours to 30 minutes. It is a key element of Beijing’s plan for a Greater Bay Area covering 56,500 square kilometers across southern China. The long-awaited bridge will encompass 11 cities that are home to a combined 68 million people.

Hong Kong’s transport secretary Frank Chan said: “With the bridge, the travel time between Hong Kong and the Western Pearl River Delta region will be shortened significantly, thereby bringing the Western Pearl River Delta region within three hours’ drive from Hong Kong.”

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was built to withstand magnitude 8 earthquakes, a super typhoon and strikes by super-sized cargo vessels. It incorporates 400,000 tons of steel which is 4.5 times more than in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

The bridge includes a 6.7-kilometer submerged tunnel to help it avoid the busy shipping paths over the Pearl River Delta. The tunnel runs between two artificial islands, each measuring 100,000 square meters.

Although the bridge is opening to traffic this week, private cars will need a special permit to be allowed to drive on the bridge. Most drivers will have to park at the Hong Kong port, switching to shuttle bus or special hire cars. A single trip on shuttle buses will cost $ 8-$ 10, depending on the time of day.

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Legalize it? Tough-on-drugs ex-Met Police chief calls for review of UK cannabis laws

By ethan / October 22, 2018

A former Met Police chief, who enforced tough anti-drug laws, is the latest voice in the UK establishment to call for a review into cannabis legislation, urging the Home Office to look at Canada and the US for inspiration.

Lord Bernard Hogan-Howe, who was made a life peer last week after 40-years in the police, told Channel 4: “If I was home secretary, I would have an urgent commission of experts to look at the evidence about what’s happening about cannabis in North America.”

READ MORE: ‘Potentially thousands’ of child slaves forced to work on illegal London cannabis farms

His call comes as the UK Government will now make medicinal cannabis available on prescription. Home Secretary Sajid Javid broke with decades of anti-cannabis policies, bowing to public pressure to legalise the drug for medical purposes following several high profile cases.

Lord Hogan-Howe argued that there was evidence that medicinal use “slides into recreational” use, and that “Surely it’s better that we get ready for that potential change.

“I’ve not seen clear evidence to say change the law now. But I have seen clear evidence to say let’s review it, but in a time-limited way, not a kicking-into-the-long-grass way.

“I think we need to get on with it, now the government has made it easier to get medical cannabis on prescription.

“We’re lucky – we’re not the pioneers and we can learn from others’ mistakes. The evidence is out there and it shouldn’t be ignored.”

The Home Office insists that the despite the recent change in the law, there is no path “towards legalising cannabis for recreational use.

READ MORE: Coca-Cola in ‘serious talks’ about branching into cannabis beverage market – report

Ahead of his time as Met Commissioner in 2007, Hogan-Howe called for cannabis to be upgraded from a C class to a B class substance. The government duly made the change a year later, despite much political and public opposition. Possession of cannabis in the UK could lead to up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine.

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Brooklyn witches curse Kavanaugh, but will the hex work? RT investigates (VIDEO)

By ethan / October 22, 2018

Twitter hashtags failed to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court – but maybe a hex will prevent him from serving? RT met up with a group of witches in Brooklyn who seemed to think so.

In what might be described as the ultimate last-ditch attempt to sabotage Kavanaugh’s appointment, a coven of witchcraft enthusiasts convened in Brooklyn to cast a hex upon the newly-minted Supreme Court Justice. Kavanaugh’s confirmation sparked a nationwide debate after he was accused of beer-fueled sexual misconduct in high school. But where the senate failed, Brooklyn’s witches hope to succeed.

Although well aware that he could be turned into a newt at any moment, RT’s Caleb Maupin attended the sorcery summit in hopes of learning more about the #Hexistance. He also crossed paths with Christian activists, who said that they were at the event to counter its Dark Magick message of “hate.”

The coven has apparently already cursed Donald Trump several times – but as one witch told Maupin, results have been lackluster at best.

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Sanctioned Russian assets attracting investment from biggest US pension funds

By ethan / October 22, 2018

Mounting political tensions between Moscow and Washington along with endless US threats to impose more and more sanctions haven’t prevented America’s biggest pension funds from investing in Russia.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers), managing retirement savings of nearly two million Americans, has $ 1.1 billion dollars invested in Russian assets, including state-issued bonds and shares of companies hit by US sanctions, reports Russian business daily RBK.

Apart from Russia’s state debt, the fund that controls pensions of California’s firefighters and police officers, reportedly holds $ 872 million in share depositary receipts of Russian firms – $ 658 billion of which are from companies subject to US sanctions.

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© Reuters / Max Whittake

Calpers has invested in Russian energy companies Rosneft, Gazprom, Novatek and Surgutneftegas. The Californian pension fund has added state-lender Sberbank shares, worth $ 238 million traded in the US, and VTB depositary receipts worth $ 12.5 million traded in Europe.

US sectoral sanctions do not ban American investors from trading previously issued papers. However, the Defending American Security From Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKAA) – the legislation lobbied by senators Lindsey Graham and Robert Menendez, demands that the assets belonging to Russian lenders such as Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank, Russian Agricultural Bank and Promsvyazbank, should be frozen and isolated from dollar transactions.

The amount of investment made by the Calpers in Russian bonds has hardly changed in the last five years. In 2012, the share of Russian assets in its portfolio was hovering around $ 1.4 billion against $ 1.3 billion in current holdings.

Calpers is not the only institution investing in Russia. The second largest pension fund in the US, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or Calstrs, held about $ 9.5 million in Russian bonds and nearly $ 164 million in Lukoil receipts as of the end of 2017,according to media reports.

Meanwhile, the country’s fourth biggest fund Florida Retirement Systems (FRS) held Russian investments worth $ 354 million as of June 30 this year. The holdings reportedly include shares of Novatek, Rosneft, VTB, Sberbank, Gazprom, Gazprom-neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas and Transneft.

At the same time, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the third largest in the country, reportedly has $ 82.7 million worth of Russian investments in its portfolio – $ 59.3 million of which are companies on the sanctions list.

Investing in Russian state-issued obligations has been highly profitable over the last decade. The Central Bank of Russia is offering a yield up to 9 percent depending on the maturity of the bonds, while US Treasury bonds are luring investors with a maximum of 3.35 percent with a 30 year maturity.

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Knives, nooses and show trials: Anonymous Tory MPs attack Theresa May using violent language

By ethan / October 22, 2018

A number of Tory MPs have been quoted using violent language such as “bring her own noose,” to attack British PM Theresa May, claiming she is on course to face a vote of no confidence this week from all wings of the party.

On Wednesday, May will be summoned before the Tory backbench 1922 committee, in what has been described as a last ditch attempt for the PM to save her job – a process dubbed “a show trial” by one Conservative MP, the Sunday Times reports.

Ahead of the critical meeting, a series of Conservative MPs launched an unprecedented attack on May, with language more befitting of a trailer for a blockbuster war or action movie. The paper quotes one unnamed Tory MP as saying: “The moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted. She’ll be dead soon.”

READ MORE: ‘I won’t let us go down without a serious s**t fight,’ says Tory MP in foul-mouthed anti-May rant

An ally of former Brexit secretary David Davis, who is being tipped as an interim leader said May was now entering “the killing zone”, and a third remarked: “Assassination is in the air.” The Mail on Sunday quotes one senior Brexiteer: “She should bring her own noose to the ’22. Short of an uncharacteristically powerful, persuasive and coherent performance, then I think her time will be up.”

The use of violent language against the PM has been widely condemned across the political spectrum. Labour’s Yvette Cooper, the head of the House of Commons home affairs select committee, told BBC 4’s Today programme such language was unacceptable, especially in light of the murder of Jo Cox MP in 2016.

“This is vile and dehumanising language towards a woman MP, towards a prime minister who, no matter how much you might disagree with her, is someone who is doing a job in public life,” she said.

First Minister of Scotland, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, has taken to social media to say that in spite of their political differences “language like this debases politics.”

Times columnist Iain Martin insisted any MP identified as using such politically violent language should have the whip removed followed by deselection. Others questioned whether such language would have been aimed at a male PM and raised the issue of MPs who have either been murdered or have had threats on their lives.

Asked to comment on the use of such language, the PM’s official spokesman said: “I don’t intend to dignify those specific anonymous comments with a response.

“The prime minister has always been very clear that we must set a tone in public discourse that is neither dehumanising nor derogatory. Personal vitriol has no place in our politics.”

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NYPD suspends body cameras for cops after device explodes

By ethan / October 22, 2018

The New York Police Department has suspended the use of almost 3,000 body cameras after one exploded, leaving some of the city’s police force unrecorded for the foreseeable future. According to studies, not much will change.

An NYPD officer noticed smoke rising from his camera on Saturday, and took it off before it exploded. Nobody was injured in the incident, but the department instructed all officers equipped with Vievu LE-5 body cameras to return them to their precincts.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our officers, and equipping the NYPD with the best equipment is a paramount priority,” read a statement from the NYPD. The department believes that a battery malfunction caused the device to explode.

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© Reuters / Brendan McDermid

There are 2,990 NYPD officers with LE-5 cameras, and another 12,500 with an older model. Officers with the older model will continue to wear their cameras.

The NYPD began outfitting its officers with body cameras in 2017, and before this weekend’s mishap, all patrol officers were on track to be equipped with the devices by the end of this year. Proponents hope that having an objective record of officers’ interactions with suspects and the general public can force the officers to remain on their best behavior at all times.

The idea took off following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, and by 2015, 95 percent of large police departments nationwide had began or planned to begin using the cameras in some way.

However, one study conducted in Washington DC and released last year found that officers wearing cameras still received almost the same amount of civilian complaints as officers who didn’t.

“Law enforcement agencies (particularly in contexts similar to Washington, DC) that are considering adopting BWCs [cameras] should not expect dramatic reductions in use of force or complaints, or other large-scale shifts in police behavior, solely from the deployment of this technology,” the study concluded.

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FILE PHOTO. © Reuters /  Joshua Lott

In New York, misconduct complaints against NYPD officers actually increased after body cameras were rolled out last year. The Civilian Complaint Review Board reported 4,487 complaints in 2017, up 202 from 2016. Before the uptick, complaints had been declining since 2009.

Complaints were evenly split between black and white officers, and over half of all the complainants alleged an “abuse of authority.” Police union boss Patrick Lynch called the increase “meaningless,” stated that 90 percent of them resulted in no finding of misconduct, and accused the CCRB of “anti-cop bias.”

Body camera footage has been crucial in implicating or exonerating officers in certain cases, however. In the police shooting of a mentally ill man in the Bronx last September, activists argued that body camera footage showed that officers failed to do enough to de-escalate their confrontation with the man, who they mowed down with gunfire after he waved a replica gun at them.

On the other hand, body camera footage helped clear Bronx Sergeant Hugh Barry, who was charged with murder after he shot a schizophrenic woman in her apartment in October 2016. Barry claimed the woman charged him with a baseball bat, a claim that his body camera backed up. Barry was acquitted this February.

After this weekend’s malfunction, almost 3,000 officers will now hit the streets unrecorded. However, according to complaint records and national studies, little will change.

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