Mayweather announces he will apply for MMA license, UFC fight a possibility

By ethan / March 19, 2018

Boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. has announced he will “eventually” apply for an MMA license, which could precipitate a fight in the UFC octagon.

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Mayweather, 41, has not entered a combat ring since stopping UFC poster boy and boxing debutant Conor McGregor in the 10th round of their crossover boxing match last August in Las Vegas.

“Everything takes time. Eventually, we’re gonna apply for the license, and hopefully we can fight,” Mayweather said to TMZ Sports.

“Even if [training for a fight] takes 6 to 8 months – whatever it takes. We want to make sure that everything is done correctly, and everything is done the right way,” Mayweather said.

Rumors emerged that Mayweather would enter the MMA arena when the five-weight world champion posted a video to Instagram in which he limbered up in an Octagon at his training headquarters.

The former pound-for-pound boxing champion also announced last week he plans to begin training with UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley soon.
Mayweather even took time to rate his skills needed to compete in MMA, saying

“I can wrestle. My wrestling game is not that bad. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s probably a 7. And I think we can take it up to a 9 if possible. Of course, my hand game, 1 to 10, is 100. My kicking game, on a scale of 1 to 10, is probably a 4.”

READ MORE: ‘This is my buddy!’ Boxing legend Mayweather and Chechen leader Kadyrov talk Russian citizenship

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Bitcoin jumps $1,000 after recommendation for G20 to ditch regulation

By ethan / March 19, 2018

An international group of central bank regulators and government ministers has told the G20 countries that bitcoin poses no threat to global financial stability, sending the cryptocurrency market higher.

The Financial Stability Board’s chairman, Mark Carney, who also heads the Bank of England, has sent a letter to the G20, saying that the organization doesn’t see bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a threat to the global economy. The FSB is an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system.

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© Henrik Weis

“The FSB’s initial assessment is that crypto-assets do not pose risks to global financial stability at this time. This is in part because they are small relative to the financial system,” Carney wrote.

“Even at their recent peak, their (cryptocurrencies) combined global market value was less than 1% of global GDP,” he added. “In comparison, just prior to the global financial crisis (in 2008), the notional value of credit default swaps was 100% of global GDP.”

The letter comes ahead of the 2018 G20 meeting in Argentina, starting on Monday. At the summit, the participants will discuss bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, and their influence on the global financial stability. A number of leading economies – France, Japan and the US – have called for a joint response to the speculation around bitcoin and other digital money.

Bitcoin reacted bullishly to Carney’s letter. The cryptocurrency surged over 6 percent to $ 8,200 on Monday, which is still over 50 percent off the $ 20,000 peak seen in December 2017.

Ripple, ethereum, bitcoin cash, cardano and other cryptocurrencies were also trading in the positive zone, buoyed by the surge in bitcoin. More than 90 of Coinmarketcap’s top 100 cryptocurrencies were gaining on Monday.

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Communist candidate set to lose his moustache over poor election showing

By ethan / March 19, 2018

Pavel Grudinin will have to endure insult to injury for the lowest result ever for a communist candidate in a Russian presidential race, as he had earlier bet his moustache that he would receive at least 15 percent of the vote.

In early February, Grudinin made a bet with popular Russian web journalist Yuri Dud. The two agreed that if Grudinin received less than 15 percent of the votes in the March 18 presidential election, he would shave his moustache, and if the result were 15 percent or more, Dud would shave off his hair.

According to preliminary results released by the Central Elections Commission on Monday morning, Grudinin received just under 12 percent, which is the lowest result for a Communist party candidate in modern Russian history. Also on Monday morning, Yuri Dud publicly reminded him about the bet by posting a picture of a safety razor on Instagram. As of Monday afternoon, Grudinin has not commented on the matter.

The moustache bet might seem original, but in the case of Russia it is not, or at least not entirely. A similar thing happened in 2014 when Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, shaved off his trademark moustache – as promised if his daughter’s school exam results were good enough.

On Monday, Peskov told reporters that he could not give any advice to Grudinin, but noted that for him it was easy to honor his promise.

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Rights activist calls for Russian children to be expelled from UK schools… because they’re Russian

By ethan / March 19, 2018

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell has been accused of taking aim at the children of Russian migrants in the UK, calling for them to be “expelled” from British schools due to the perceived crimes of the Russian state.

Tatchell, who has orchestrated numerous political stunts in Russia to highlight LGBT issues, took to social media to attack President Vladimir Putin’s governance. He also called for the implementation of the Magnitsky Clause into UK legislation and further visa bans.

In his tweet, Tatchell stated that under Putin “state assets stolen, protesters jailed, opposition politicians & critical journalists assassinated, war crimes in Syria.” Despite an intense wave of anti-Russia sentiment in UK in recent years, which peaked following the poisoning of ex-Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, Tatchell’s comments were met with ire from the many on the platform.

Tatchell has been slammed for targeting innocent children, with one social media user stating: “I’m surprised that you think it’s acceptable to punish children for who their parents are.” Others said the comments had exposed the human rights activist as a selective “liberal” and “racist.”

It wasn’t just his comments on children that drew censure. Many took issue with Tatchell’s assertion that Russia has committed war crimes in Syria, with some users accusing him of not addressing the foreign policy of his adopted country – the UK – and its own involvement in the region.

The backlash against his comments appeared to have no influence on Tatchell. Whilst he didn’t reply to any of them specifically, he did take to Twitter again to reiterate his stance on Syria and Russia.

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Snowden: Facebook a ‘surveillance company’ that collects and sells user data

By ethan / March 19, 2018

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted Saturday that Facebook is a “surveillance company” that sells its users’ personal details, weighing in on a scandal involving a private firm that harvested data from the social media giant.

“Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as ‘surveillance companies,’” wrote the former National Security Agency contractor. “Their rebranding as ‘social media’ is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.”

Snowden’s sobering observation, which was retweeted more than 30,000 times, comes amid public outcry over the revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a private data analytics firm that worked with President Donald Trump’s election team, had harvested personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica’s access to the platform last week, claiming that the company and two individuals who had helped collect the massive data set had misled the social media giant.

READ MORE: Facebook hit with €1.2mn fine in Spain for privacy violations

“In light of new reports that the data was not destroyed, we are suspending these three parties from Facebook, pending further information,” the company said. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties.”

Commenting on a New York Times report about the unprecedented data breach, Snowden said it was Facebook, not Cambridge Analytica, that should be held responsible.

“Facebook makes their money by exploiting and selling intimate details about the private lives of millions, far beyond the scant details you voluntarily post. They are not victims. They are accomplices,” he wrote on Twitter.

Facebook insists that Cambridge Analytica’s harvesting methods did not constitute a formal data breach, because users technically consented – via the website’s labyrinthine privacy settings – to having their data mined.

Cambridge Analytica is owned by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and was formerly run by ex- Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The Trump campaign reportedly paid the company $ 5 million to help target voters.

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Russian Paralympians finish 2nd in PyeongChang 2018 medal tally despite short roster

By ethan / March 19, 2018

Russian para athletes who participated as neutrals at the 2018 PyeongChang Paralympics have finished second in the Games’ medal standings, winning a total of 24.

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© Grygory Sysoev

The main contribution to the squad’s medal haul was made by the two skiers, Anna Milenina and Ekaterina Rumyantseva, who took 5 Paralympic medals each, including five golds between them.

Milenina prevailed in the women’s biathlon standing 12.5km race and standing classic sprint, while Rumyantseva was victorious in the women’s biathlon standing 10km and 6km races, as well as in the cross-country 15km event.

One more para athlete from Russia, Mikhalina Lysova, also delivered a stunning performance in PyeongChang, winning two gold, three silver and one bronze in skiing and biathlon races for visually-impaired competitors.

Russia’s eighth Paralympic title came from alpine skier, Aleksey Bugaev, who finished first in the men’s standing Super combined event. Russian athletes who were approved for the 2018 winter games were obliged to compete under the name Neutral Paralympic Athletes (NPA) following the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) decision to keep in force the suspension of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC).

READ MORE: Russian para athlete Rumyantseva wins 3rd gold at PyeongChang 2018

Despite only 30 Russians being declared eligible for PyeongChang, the reduced squad managed to win a total of eight gold, 10 silver and six bronze medals to finish second in the overall standings. This was only just behind the USA, whose presence in South Korea boasted double the number of the Russians.

The US squad, represented by 68 athletes, claimed an overall victory in PyeongChang, earning 36 medals: 13 gold, 15 silver and eight bronze.

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UK dumping Russian gas would hurt British consumers most – Russian energy minister

By ethan / March 19, 2018

Britons will pay more for gas if their government follows through with its threat to replace Russian gas, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak.

“Should the statements become a reality regarding alternative sources for gas instead of Russia, that will damage first and foremost the consumers,” Novak told Bloomberg.

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© Russell Cheyne

According to the energy minister, Russia remains the most reliable gas supplier. “Should any company or country opt for another supplier, I don’t think that [the] conditions will be as preferential or beneficial for them.”

Britain buys Russian gas through mainland Europe and has also bought from Russia’s brand-new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Yamal, Siberia. Last year, Russia sold $ 2.85 billion worth of gas to the UK.

Half of Britain’s LNG imports to date have come from Russia. The unusually cold winter and pipeline breakdowns have forced London to ask Moscow for help to cover the national gas shortage.

The recent gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which led to the announcement of contract termination by Moscow, does not hurt Russia’s image as a reliable gas partner to Europe, Novak said.

“We can guarantee the compliance with our commitments. We have been doing this for 50 years already and we have necessary resources, capabilities and opportunities to ensure the long-term and reliable supply of our gas to Europe,” he added.

The minister insisted that gas transit through Ukraine can continue if Kiev offers “competitive” conditions for Gazprom.

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Forced psych admission was suggested for Parkland shooter in 2016 – report

By ethan / March 19, 2018

Calls for Florida teen Nikolas Cruz to be put in a mental hospital were ignored more than a year before he gunned down 17 former classmates and teachers. The new report adds to the string of official failings before the massacre.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and the Broward County sheriff’s office both recommended Cruz should be involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation, while his mother, Lynda, also requested an intervention, according to documents seen by the Associated Press and reported on Sunday.

Such drastic measures could have potentially prevented or made it more difficult for Cruz to buy the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that he used in his Valentine’s Day rampage through the school that he was expelled from.

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Nikolas Cruz is facing 17 charges of premeditated murder in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida © Mike Stocker/Pool

The documents, which will be used as evidence in his upcoming trial, reveal that multiple serious concerns were raised over the troubled youth long before the shooting.

They say he wrote the word “kill” in a notebook, told a classmate he wanted to buy a gun and use it and said he had self-harmed by cutting his arm after he broke up with his girlfriend. He told another student he had drunk gasoline and was vomiting. Calls were made to the FBI about the possibility of Cruz shooting up the school.

The papers were provided by Henderson Behavioral Health, a psychological assessment service that Cruz’s mother contacted for help. They show a high school resource officer from the sheriff’s office and two school counselors recommended in September 2016 that Cruz should be committed under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows for mental health patients to be hospitalized against their will for at least three days. There is no record of such an assessment ever being carried out.

The resource officer in question was former Broward County sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson, who resigned over his failure to confront Cruz during his half-hour assault on the school. Recently, authorities bowed to a court order and released CCTV footage from the school that showed Peterson standing outside the school while Cruz rampaged inside, which Sheriff Scott Israel said would justify legal proceedings against him.

The latest revelation adds to a long list of shocking oversights by law enforcement and other authorities who were warned of Cruz’ disturbing behavior. Some fellow students, speaking to media on the day of the shooting, said they were not surprised that Cruz was the one who went on a rampage. “He would be the one to shoot up the school,” one classmate told WFOR-TV.

“He always had guns on him,” the unidentified student said. “The crazy stuff that he did was not right for school, and he got kicked out of school multiple times for that kind of stuff.”

Last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott called on FBI director Chris Wray to resign after it emerged the bureau failed to pass on a credible warning of Cruz’s intentions to its Miami field office days before the massacre.

Days later, the sheriff’s office released records of over a decade of calls to Cruz home, 18 of which were an escalating series of violent incidents involving the boy, but none of them were deemed “arrestable.”

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Trump is (still) not firing Mueller after angry Tweet sparks concern

By ethan / March 19, 2018

President Donald Trump’s lawyer said that he has no plans to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The US leader again reignited the rumors of an impending ouster by attacking the ‘Russiagate’ probe chief on Twitter.

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller,” Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, said in a statement on Sunday, as he sought to debunk the recurrent media reports that Mueller’s career as the chief investigator of purported ‘Trump-Russia collusion’ is hanging in the balance.

The fresh speculations over Mueller’s fate were triggered by Trump himself, who went on yet another Twitter rant over the weekend, writing that the probe “should have never been started.”

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He then called out Mueller for bias, referring to the make-up of his team as “13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?”

“Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair?,” Trump wrote, before stressing that there was no collusion between his team and Russia.

That Saturday also marked the first time that Trump mentioned Mueller by name in his criticisms about the investigation, which he calls a “witch hunt.” This, too, added to the speculations that a termination is imminent – and the number of ‘Russiagate’ advocates that scrambled to defend Mueller.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) appealed to Senate Republicans to “stand up” against Trump’s crusade against Mueller, calling his potential firing “a red line for our democracy that cannot be crossed.”

Republican hardliner Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) also threw his weight behind Mueller, saying it is “critical” that Mueller is allowed to proceed with the probe “unimpeded.”

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© Jim Bourg

His long-time ally, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) echoed those concerns when speaking to CNN, warning that firing Mueller “would be the beginning of the end” of Trump’s presidency.

In a new twist in the lingering probe, Mueller reportedly subpoenaed the Trump Organization, which oversees all of Trump’s business ventures, for Russia-related documents. Trump previously drew his own “red line” in the Mueller probe, telling the New York Times in July that if Mueller poked into his family finances not connected to Russia, it would constitute a “violation.”

Since the beginning of the probe, the White House has repeatedly had to quash rumors of Mueller’s imminent ouster. In January, Trump blasted the New York Times story, claiming that he had tried to fire the Special Counsel in July, as “fake news.”

“A typical New York Times fake story,” Trump said at the time.

In a Saturday comment to the Daily Beast, Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, said that he “prays” Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will “bring an end to alleged Russian Collusion investigation.” However, he later backtracked on his statement, noting that he was only speaking in his personal capacity.

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NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler telescope is running out of fuel

By ethan / March 19, 2018

NASA’S Kepler telescope is running out of fuel and will shut down within several months, according to the agency. The groundbreaking space observatory has discovered more than 2,300 planets.

After nine years in flight around Earth’s orbit, the telescope has defied the limits of the original mission plan and survived every mechanical malfunction, beaming back vital information about the makeup of the Milky Way.

“Our current estimates are that Kepler’s tank will run dry within several months – but we’ve been surprised by its performance before,” Charlie Sobeck, system engineer for the Kepler mission, said in a NASA statement. “While we anticipate flight operations ending soon, we are prepared to continue as long as the fuel allows.”

READ MORE: Batmobiles on Mars and alien megastructures: RT probes space theories

Kepler’s mission was originally scheduled to last for only two years. However, the spacecraft continued to operate seamlessly, only presenting problems in 2013, when three of Kepler’s four “wheels,” the tools that aim the craft, failed. That malfunction left it unable to maintain a steady rotation in space.

After that, scientists gave Kepler a new lease on life by using the pressure of sunlight to maintain its aim, almost “like a kayak steering into the current.” Renamed the K2, the updated spacecraft was given an extended mission that required the telescope to shift its field of view every three months. At the time, scientists estimated that K2’s remaining fuel should last for about 10 three-month periods. The craft has now entered its 17th campaign.

The team plans on spending what’s left of Kepler’s life collecting as much data as possible. Once the fuel-powered thrusters die, the engineers will not be able to aim the spacecraft for a data transfer.

“We even have plans to take some final calibration data with the last bit of fuel, if the opportunity presents itself,” Sobeck said.

READ MORE: NASA releases images of exoplanet-ringed dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Most NASA missions set a deadline to end a spacecraft’s missions so they can reserve enough fuel to shoot it into a career-burning atmosphere and remove it from orbit in order to protect satellites and future spacecraft. However, deep-space missions like Kepler are so far from Earth that scientists are able to utilize the spacecraft until the bitter end.

Fans of Kepler can now look forward to its newer, more advanced replacement. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which will be launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 16.

TESS will take over where K2 left off, focusing on the brightest stars less than 300 light-years away in search of planets outside our solar system.

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