New Russian Kalibr cruise missile-capable corvette heads for sailing tests (VIDEO)

By ethan / May 20, 2018

Cutting-edge corvette ‘Uragan’ has been deployed to Lake Ladoga for tests before joining Russia’s Baltic Fleet. The ship will boast Kalibr and Onyx missiles, as well as modern electronic equipment.

The ‘Uragan’ corvette has been towed to Lake Ladoga from the Pella shipyard in the city of St. Petersburg, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday. The vessel then proceeded to the sailing tests on its own.

The ship will undergo a full set of checks during its deployment to Lake Ladoga, which will involve thorough tests of its survivability systems, the Defense Ministry said. The ship was launched last July and has been receiving final factory tuning at the Pella shipyard on the Neva river since then. Specialists from the shipyard will be present abroad the ship alongside its crew during the tests on the Ladoga.

READ MORE: New ICBM in 2020, hypersonic glider in 2019: Putin outlines nuclear deployment plans

‘Uragan’ is the maiden vessel of the new project 22800 Karakurt-class missile corvettes. It can be fitted with Kalibr cruise missiles or Onyx anti-ship missiles, while it also has modern artillery systems. Future corvettes in the series are also expected to receive Pantsir-M anti-aircraft defenses.

The new ships are seen as successors to the Buyan-class corvettes line, boasting higher maneuverability and better seafaring characteristics. The new corvette series also has cutting-edge electronic equipment, as well as improved architecture of the hull and superstructure, designed to provide low radar visibility.

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UK delays Abramovich visa renewal – is this Britain’s threatened Russia crackdown?

By ethan / May 20, 2018

Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, is reportedly having trouble getting his UK visa renewed.

Abramovich left the UK after his visa expired last month, according to website The Bell. It’s understood that a delay in issuing a new one meant he was not in the director’s box at Wembley on Saturday to watch his side’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United in the final of the FA Cup. It’s led to questions as to whether the situation is part of the UK’s so-called ‘Russia crackdown.’

READ MORE: ‘Kremlin List’ portrays those featured as ‘enemies of US,’ signals ‘breakdown of ties’

Abramovich’s visa troubles come at a time of heightened tensions between the UK and Russia. In March, Britain’s then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that UK authorities would review the visa status of more than 700 wealthy Russians who had settled in the UK. In an address to MPs, Rudd said the Home Office was looking at how Russians on investment visas had acquired their wealth.

The businessman is thought to have been in the UK on an investment visa. While his application has not been refused, a source close to the tycoon told the Financial Times that the process is taking longer than usual. RT.com has contacted the Home Office for comment.

In order to qualify for this particular permit, a person must invest at least £2 million ($ 2.7 million). Abramovich’s £1 billion ($ 1.35 billion) spend on Chelsea more than fulfills this requirement. Visa holders are allowed stay in the UK for three years and four months. After that, the application must to be renewed. A visa is compulsory for anyone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

The Russian bought Chelsea Football Club in 2003. His investment in the club has coincided with the most successful period in its history, winning four Premier League titles and one European Champions League victory.

READ MORE: Berezovsky acted with UK intel, paid with life when he decided to return home – Russian prosecutor

In February, Swiss media reported that Abramovich had attempted to gain a residency permit there. The first application was made in the summer of 2016 but was withdrawn last summer. The reasons for the withdrawal of the application are not yet known.

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‘US not economic gendarme of planet’: France suggests EU may compensate firms hit by US sanctions

By ethan / May 20, 2018

France’s economy minister has suggested that the EU may compensate European companies affected by US sanctions on Iran, stressing that the bloc should not accept Washington as “the economic gendarme of the planet.”

Bruno Le Maire referred to a series of countermeasures that the EU adopted in 1996 in response to US extraterritorial economic sanctions against Cuba. Back then, Brussels argued that those sanctions benefited Washington’s foreign policy interests at the expense of EU sovereignty. The regulation aimed “to protect the economic and/or financial interests of natural or legal persons against the effects of the extraterritorial application of legislation.”

READ MORE: EU wants to ‘replace’ US after it ditched Iran nuclear deal. But can it?

“The reinforcement of the 1996 regulation would allow us to bear the costs of sanctions paid by [EU] companies and which could be paid by the European Union. We have a European budget which can help to protect our businesses,” Le Maire said, speaking to Europe 1 radio station on Sunday. 

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US President Donald Trump holds up a presidential memorandum announcing US withdrawal from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement, May 8, 2018 © Jonathan Ernst

The minister once again hit out at the US, which pulled out of a milestone 2015 deal earlier in May. The accord sought to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting decades-long sanctions and wider economic cooperation. The move was coupled with renewed restrictions targeting trade with Iran. “Are we going to allow the United States to be the economic policeman of the world? The answer is no,” Le Maire stated.

This is not the first tirade that the French economy minister has leveled against Washington after it ditched the much-discussed deal. He once urged Europe to stop acting like “US vassals” and branded Trump’s decision “an error” from an economic point of view, unrelated to international security. 

Le Maire earlier revealed that he had called his US counterpart Steven Mnuchin and asked him “about either exemptions for a number of our companies, or longer deadlines [to comply with renewed sanctions].” Plane-maker Airbus, oil giant Total, as well as Renault and Peugeot car manufacturers could be among the French companies affected the most. 

Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord despite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirming Tehran’s compliance with the deal on numerous occasions, and attempts by France, Germany and other EU nations to talk him out of the decision.

On Friday, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker stressed that the union would protect the interests of its companies that were investing in Iran as part of the EU’s continued commitment to the deal. “As long as the Iranians respect their commitments, the EU will of course stick to the agreement of which it was an architect – an agreement that was unanimously ratified by the United Nations Security Council and which is essential for preserving peace in the region and the world,” Juncker said

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Meet Henry, the robot with ‘superhuman’ sexual prowess, hoping to titillate women

By ethan / May 20, 2018

Sexbot creators, RealBotix, are hoping to stimulate the female market with its latest offering – a 5’11” male sexbot called Henry, who promises not only ‘superhuman’ sexual performance but also loving companionship.

The hunky robot is being developed to apparently give women what they want – and not just in the bedroom. Henry will be programmed to listen to you talk about your day, remember your hopes and fears, and cuddle you.

Founder of RealBotix, Matt McMullen, told Wired that this extra layer of companionship particularly appeals to women, citing above-average interest in ‘Henry’ since plans were unveiled earlier this year.

Less than 10 percent of the company’s 300 to 400 orders a year go to women or couples, McMullen said, adding that inquiries about Henry have been notably higher.  

One question women jokingly asked about the sexbot was whether he could take out the trash. This is still some way off, however, as McMullen’s team are still trying to work out how to make Henry walk and talk at the same time.

RealBotix created Henry with the aim of representing both genders and putting an end to complaints that the company was objectifying women.

Henry is due to go on sale next year at a retail price of between $ 11,000 and $ 15,000, depending on optional extras. His silicone body, which weighs only six stone (38 kilograms) is anatomically correct and his manhood can be made to order.

Prospective love interests can then interact with Henry through an app, by which he will crack jokes, recite poetry, and whisper sweet nothings in your ear.

While Henry may already sound like the ideal man to many, he can be customized even further to satisfy more unusual kinks, such as adding elf ears or vampire teeth. The company also offers 13 different kinds of pubic hair and dozens of nipples, including replicas of porn star Stormy Daniels’ breasts for its sexbots.

READ MORE: Sex dolls uncovered: The kinks, quirks and risks of building robolove (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

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Washington wants to drive wedge between Russia, China & Europe – analyst

By ethan / May 20, 2018

The real goal behind recent US sanctions is to isolate Russia economically from Europe and Asia, according to an analyst interviewed by RT.

“The most obvious reason for sanctions is to drive a wedge into the relationship between Russia and the European Union, between Russia and China, etc.” said TeleTradeBel analyst Mikhail Grachev.

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The outer wall of the Den of Espionage (former US embassy) in Tehran, 2017 © Feng Wei Photography

According to Grachev, this time Russia should not seek to impose sanctions against American individuals and instead stop the spiral of bilateral sanctions. “Symmetrical answers like deportation of diplomats and closure of consulates are most likely appropriate and are a worthy response. But sanctions against specific personalities will look like a shot in the air,” he said.

“For Russia, in this situation it is more important to maintain one’s own dignity.”

The analyst added that with time, the European Union will realize that the United States is not a trading partner to be trusted. Grachev recalls the recent words by the President of the European Council Donald Tusk that “with friends like that who needs enemies?”

Vladimir Rojankovski, investment analyst at Global FX, agrees that it is the right moment for Russia to strengthen its ties with Europe, when the latter seeks to defend its companies from US sanctions for doing business with Iran.

“Needless to say how much it’s in Russia’s interests to join this party [Europe],” he told RT.

The analyst notes that the US president is ready to get rid of old friends, if they don’t suit his agenda. “The main problem about countering Trump directly is his low level of susceptibility. He is a thick-skinned lifelong cynic, the fact proved by the ease with which he parts with his friends. Remember his former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson? After the latter’s public speech defending the Iran nuclear deal he was mercilessly fired.”

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'Ice age' must end: Anti-Russia sanctions harm EU companies, says chair of German Left Party

By ethan / May 20, 2018

The “ice age” against Moscow must be ended, the chairperson of Germany’s Die Linke (Left Party) has stated, adding that sanctions against Russia hurt European companies.

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© Mikhael Klimentyev

Speaking to Germany’s Osnabrucker Zeitung newspaper on Saturday, Sahra Wagenknecht said the ice age in relation to Russia has to be ended. “It is in Europe’s interest to come together and talk about how we can achieve security and disarmament,” she said, noting that European sanctions against Moscow “primarily harm European and German companies.”

Wagenknecht’s comments came just days after the EU Council decided to impose sanctions on five additional Russian individuals for helping to organize the Crimea referendum in March 2014. In total, more than 100 Russians have been placed on EU sanctions lists since the first round of measures was approved by European officials four years ago.

The Die Linke chairperson has long spoken in favor of working together with Moscow, stating last month that the West should resume meaningful dialogue with Russia, adding that the country should be invited to return to the G7. 

Wagenknecht isn’t alone in her opinion. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke out against the demonization of Russia in April. “We cannot declare Russia as a whole, the country and its people, to be an enemy,” he said. “Our history speaks against it, and there is too much at stake.” 

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© imagebroker / Peter Giovannini

That opinion is backed by the vast majority of Germans, according to a recent poll conducted by the Forsa Institute on behalf of the Wiese Consult group. More than 90 percent of Germans surveyed said they want better relations with Russia. 

Those opinions span far beyond Germany, however, with Italian Lega Nord regional leader Paolo Grimoldi telling RT on Saturday that he does not understand why European economies have to “suffer” because “some people in Crimea held a referendum and decided to join Russia.”

“I do not understand why it is ok for some countries to have a democratic vote and decide, what they are, but the people in Crimea or Russia cannot do the same,” he told RT, recalling that the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo was not followed by any sanctions whatsoever.

The sanctions against Russian individuals have been repeatedly extended and include broader measures which stop Russian companies from participating in certain sectors of the European economy or receiving financing.

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Only Down Under: Koala caught fishing on Aussie river bank (VIDEO)

By ethan / May 20, 2018

A koala has been caught patiently waiting for a bite while fishing on the banks of the Murray River in Victoria, Australia.

The Koala surprised a family, who were taking a break from fishing in the small town of Strathmerton to have a picnic, when it picked up a rod and held it over the water.

READ MORE: Hunt for ‘evil’ culprit after koala nailed to wooden post (PHOTO)

We just turned around and there it was holding onto the fishing pole!said Lorraine Johns, who captured the footage and posted it on Youtube, according to local network 9News .

In the video, the cute koala can be seen sitting on the ground with his feet and paws holding the rod in the water while a woman, presumably Johns, asks: “Catch anything today, mate?” before adding: “Just another day in Australia.”

Johns said the koala stayed with the family for around an hour before retreating back to the wild.

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Indian frigate, tanker & corvette head for joint naval drills with Vietnam

By ethan / May 20, 2018

The Indian and Vietnamese navies are to hold joint exercises next week as both nations seek to enhance maritime cooperation, bolster ties and contribute to stability in the region and worldwide, officials said.

Three Indian warships – Shivalik-class stealth frigate ‘Sahyadri,’ Deepak-class fleet tanker ‘Shakti’ and anti-submarine stealth corvette ‘Kamorta’ – are heading to Da Nang Port, one of the largest port systems in Vietnam, which is located in the South China Sea. The drills are scheduled to take place from May 21-25, a statement from the Indian Navy said on Sunday.  

“During the visit, there would be professional interaction between personnel of both the navies… On completion of the harbor phase, both Indian Navy and Vietnam Peoples’ Navy would be undertaking an exercise (sic),” the statement added.

According to the Indian Navy, the current visit seeks “to enhance maritime cooperation” between the two countries, will “further bolster the strong bonds of friendship,” and “contribute to security and stability in the region and the world at large.” The last time that Indian Navy ships – frigate ‘Satpura’ and corvette ‘Kadmat’ – visited Vietnam was in September 2017.

READ MORE: US, India, Japan stage largest joint drills to address ‘maritime security threats’

Both nations have ties in a number of spheres, including training, repairs, maintenance and logistics support. According to data from the Indian Defense Ministry, the cooperation between both states dates back to the 2nd century.

Defense ties between Hanoi and New Delhi have significantly strengthened over the years. In 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Vietnam, bringing the relations to the level of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Modi also offered Vietnam a credit line of $ 500 million for defense cooperation, saying that relations between the two countries would “contribute to stability, securities and prosperity in this region.”  

India once reportedly offered to train Vietnamese pilots to fly Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets amid bilateral efforts to boost defense ties. The Vietnamese were also interested in learning from India’s experience in repair and maintenance of the Su-30s  

Hanoi has been long interested in buying medium-range supersonic cruise missiles, BrahMos, which is a joint venture between the Russia and India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), according to reports by Indian media in recent years. 

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US has more billionaires than China, Germany & India combined

By ethan / May 20, 2018

The number of billionaires worldwide has soared to a record high, according to a new report from wealth data company Wealth-X, which showed that there were 2,754 ultra-rich individuals on the planet in 2017.

The report revealed that the billionaire population and their wealth skyrocketed to record levels last year. They now control around $ 9.2 trillion in wealth – a 24 percent increase from 2016.

The United States accounts for 25 percent of the global billionaire population, as the home of 680 fat cats. This is followed by China, which has 338. Asia overtook North America for the first time as the home of the most billionaires.

“Buoyed by a robust domestic economy, solid equity gains and the high concentration of wealth-creating technology firms, the US added a net 60 new billionaires, with the collective net worth of the 680-strong population rising to $ 3.2 trillion,” the report said.

In total, the richest one percent on the planet owns about half of the world’s wealth, according to Wealth-X. It attributed the significant increase in wealth to a “synchronized upturn” in the world economy and climbing equity markets. 
“In a rapidly shifting geopolitical environment, the influence on the world economy of this most exclusive group of individuals is continuing to rise,” it said.

The research has also found that, across the globe, the number of female billionaires rose more quickly than men over the past year, though male billionaires still outnumber females. They acquired their wealth differently, while women were much more likely than men to become billionaires through inheritance.

In 2017, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surpassed Bill Gates to become the richest of the rich, with an estimated net worth of $ 112 billion. Gates, who is the second-richest person in the world, was followed by Warren Buffett and fashion designer Bernard Arnault.

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Hitler, Jacko and Maradona: Statues and waxworks best forgotten (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

By ethan / May 20, 2018

A French museum has been forced to rethink its wax tribute to Emmanuel Macron following widespread ridicule. The institution may yet melt down the ‘president’ after an appearance on TV saw viewers compare it to a crazed robot.

The French leader is not the first person to fall victim to a poorly mastered waxwork or statue. Historical and contemporary figures such as Adolf Hitler, US President Donald Trump, Michael Jackson and Argentine football legend Diego Maradona have all suffered questionable creations.

READ MORE: ‘The sculptor voted Le Pen’: Macron waxwork mercilessly mocked online

Here, RT.com charts some of the worst effigies in recent memory – or at least sculptures that we’re sure most people, including the artist, would rather forget.

Hitler-Auschwitz waxwork – Indonesia

The De Mata De Arca museum in Yogyakarta bizarrely made a waxwork of German dictator Adolf Hitler one of its main attractions in 2017. Even more puzzling was the fact that it was placed standing almost triumphantly in front of a backdrop depicting the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz, where an estimated one million people were put to death during World War II. The museum eventually removed the figure after global outcry.

Naked Donald Trump – US

Created by a US art collective, the graphic nude statues of Donald Trump caused quite a stir when they began turning up randomly in cities like New York, San Francisco, Cleveland and Seattle back in 2016.

READ MORE: It’s gonna be huge? Last ever statue of naked Donald Trump goes under hammer

Portraying the US president with a pot belly, saggy bottom and tiny penis, the artwork was titled “The Emperor Has No Balls.” The statues were eventually auctioned off by the INDECLINE anarchist collective.

Cristiano Ronaldo bust – Madeira

The Real Madrid star must have done something terrible to deserve a welcome-home gift like the one on offer at Madeira’s international airport. In March 2017, the football superstar attended the unveiling of a new bronze bust of himself. The Portuguese international graciously  welcomed the statue, but the internet went into overdrive, labeling it a ‘dreadful’ piece of artwork.

‘White-washed’ Beyoncé – US

This Madame Tussauds celebration of pop queen Beyonce Knowles went down like a lead balloon for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was pointed out that the waxwork didn’t actually look much like the singer. And secondly, people felt the museum in Manhattan had got her skin tone all wrong.

Madame Tussauds later remedied the 2017 PR disaster, stating that they “respect and enjoy a working relationship” with Beyonce. The popular tourist attraction in New York later commissioned a change in style and skin colour for the wax model.

Maradona waxwork ‘own goal’ – India

He’s known for scoring the goal dubbed the ‘Hand of God.’ But whoever made this sculpture of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona was probably in league with the devil.

READ MORE: ‘Looks like Susan Boyle’ – Maradona statue ‘likeness’ panned by football fans

Unveiled at a charity gig in Kolkata last December, the 12-foot-tall sculpture showed the former Argentina soccer international celebrating with the 1986 World Cup trophy. While the sentiment was commendable, the craftsmanship sadly wasn’t, and the sculpture was roundly mocked.

Fulham FC’s Michael Jackson – UK

It was an unusual decision at the time to put a statue of Michael Jackson outside an English Premier League football club stadium. But that’s exactly what then club owner and chairman Mohamed Al Fayed did in April 2011.

Some Fulham fans fiercely objected to the statue, which came into being two years after the King of Pop’s sudden death. However, Al Fayed was staunch in his defence, telling critics to “go to hell.” The football club was eventually relegated to the Championship in 2014, and Al Fayed explained the removal of his friend’s statue was one of the reasons why the team had been unsuccessful that season.

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