Firework explodes inside London bus, sending passengers diving for cover (VIDEO)

By ethan / October 20, 2017

A group of “idiotic” youths have been slammed by Transport for London (TfL) after they fired a lit firework into a double-decker bus in northwest London. Footage captured on a passenger’s smartphone shows terrified commuters diving for cover.

The video, taken by a passenger sitting towards the back of the bus, shows people screaming and ducking for cover as the firework bounces off the walls and ceiling, sending sparks flying.

Steve Burton, TfL director of enforcement, said: “This idiotic behavior is extremely dangerous and will not be tolerated.

“We are working with Metropolitan Police to ensure appropriate action is taken.”

No one was injured in the incident, which happened on York Way in King’s Cross last Saturday evening, according to the London Ambulance Service.

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© Hello pizza

Once the firework had fizzled out, the video shows two young men jumping off the bus to chase down the perpetrators.

One man is heard yelling: “What the f***? I swear to God.”

Passenger Apostolos Filis told ITV News: “It was really sudden. No one was expecting the attack. They started attacking cars and bikes but then went on attacking the bus.”

The Met police said the “anti-social behavior” is being investigated by officers from Islington policing patrols.

It comes after terrifying footage emerged of a similar event in August which saw a hooded man setting off a box of 70 fireworks at the Hello Pizza takeaway in Kirkdale, Liverpool.

The workers were forced to throw themselves over the counter and take cover at the back of the shop.

The fireworks then engulfed the takeaway shop with smoke, at one point obscuring the view of the CCTV camera.

The incident caused damage to the shop but none of the employees were injured.

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‘Why are Americans fighting & dying in Niger & other countries?’ – former diplomat Jim Jatras

By ethan / October 20, 2017

There is a strategic problem regarding a broader US policy which has been moving forward on inertia since George W. Bush with a global war on ‘whoever they are this week’ without a whole lot of examination, said former diplomat Jim Jatras.

Senator John McCain said the White House hasn’t been forthcoming regarding the ambush in Niger which left four US soldiers dead and two wounded. McCain told reporters on Thursday the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he chairs, has been told “very little” about the incident in Niger. He added that the committee may have to take legal action to get answers from the White House.

READ MORE: 3 American soldiers killed, 2 wounded in ambush in Niger

RT America’s Ed Schultz asked former US diplomat Jim Jatras where he thinks this is going when McCain is talking subpoena.

Jim Jatras: To tell the truth he shouldn’t have to subpoena anything. He is the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and the administration should be willing to provide him whatever information he asked for. My only concern here is that: are they just going to look at the worm’s eye view of what happened on the ground tactically, who may be messed up here that these guys got killed, or they are going to look at the bigger picture that I think most Americans are worried about. Niger, where is Niger? Why do we have Americans fighting and dying in Niger? What other countries, under what authority, do we have Americans fighting and dying? I think those are the real questions there. And I hope chairman McCain and the Armed Services Committee delve into that, not just who messed up here.

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John McCain © William Thomas Cain

RT: What is your analysis? Why is the US in Niger?

JJ: In a way, some people especially on the Democratic side, say “Well, this is going to be Trump’s Benghazi.” Maybe there’s an element to that. Because remember the enemy here in Niger is Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. This is the same group the French had to come in 2012 against in Mali. It all leads back to the boneheaded decision to overthrow Gaddafi and which was just a huge shot of adrenaline, a big pile of weapons to go to all of these terrorist groups that destabilized now the whole region including Niger. Let’s look at the big picture here, not just what happened here a few days ago that tragically resulted in these deaths.

RT: The mainstream media has got a lot of Americans ginned up about the fact the White House is not forthcoming. Defense Secretary James Mattis said Thursday he didn’t have a full report on what happened in the Niger attack. How unusual is this?

JJ: I think that they should have most of those details now, it doesn’t sound so much that these details are available even to the Pentagon. But even what the Pentagon knows is not being turned over to the committee. I don’t think chairman McCain would be that angry and essentially accused them of not cooperating and threatened a subpoena unless he thought they had more information than they were giving him.

RT: It’s two weeks after the attack, these investigations shouldn’t take that long because the military is in total control of this. But what I find interesting is that the intel for the military told the patrol that violence was “unlikely.” Apparently, they got it wrong. Why and how?

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Frederica Wilson (L), Donald Trump (R) © Wikipedia / Reuters

JJ: The same questions people asked about the death that occurred in Yemen early in the Trump presidency. Again, how many countries do we have where Americans are in these situations, where “violence is unlikely”? But it is likely to happen anyway. And that is the real question that, I think, needs to be gotten to hear. I hope the committee addresses it.

RT: Leaving a soldier behind on the field – that just isn’t good. Is someone going to have to answer for that?

JJ: I think so. And of course, you do hear coming out of the administration “We don’t leave people behind.” Is that just a slogan or is that something that they’re actually committed to? At least, from what I understand of the circumstances, three soldiers were killed and then another one was missing. And then later was found dead. How did they lose account of him? What exactly happened? Those are legitimate questions. Let’s not lose the forest for the trees here. There’s a strategic problem here in terms of a broader US policy that is simply moving forward on inertia without a whole lot of examination.

RT: But it really does seem that the Trump administration is just following what the Obama administration did with scattering troops across the globe and hitting these hotspots. What do you think?

JJ: Exactly right. And let’s be honest the Obama administration was simply following the George W. Bush administration’s precedent on this as well that we have this global war on whoever they are this week: whether it’s ISIS or Al-Qaeda or some spinoff from Al-Qaeda. Where is the strategy? I don’t see the strategy and I don’t think there is one coming out of this administration either.

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Explosion inside mosque in Afghan capital Kabul, casualties reported

By ethan / October 20, 2017

A suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a Shiite mosque in the western part of the Afghan capital, Kabul, Reuters reports, citing a senior security official.

Tolo news reported the blast took place inside the Imam Zaman mosque.

At least 30 dead bodies have been removed from the scene, a senior security official told Reuters, adding that the exact number of casualties was still not known.

Various extremist groups have staged regular attacks, including suicide bombings, in Afghanistan targeting government forces and populated areas. The same mosque was hit in an incident involving an explosion followed by gunfire in August.

At that time, 13 people were killed and dozens injured in the assault claimed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

READ MORE: At least 13 killed in blast & shooting in Kabul mosque, ISIS claims responsibility (PHOTOS)

In late September, another Kabul mosque was hit in a suicide bombing that left five people dead and 19 injured.

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‘I want to unify division, then move to heavyweight!’ – IBF world cruiserweight champion Gassiev

By ethan / October 20, 2017

Russian IBF cruiserweight champion and World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) fighter Murat ‘Iron’ Gassiev has revealed to RT Sport that he plans to dominate his division and then move to heavyweight.

The fighter nicknamed ‘Iron’ will defend his world title against battle-hardened former world champion Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland on Saturday in New Jersey, a state well known for its Polish diaspora.

Speaking to RT Sport at his US training base, Gassiev, unbeaten in his 24 pro outings, said the atmosphere at the Prudential Center, Newark, will not affect him heading into the fight.

“Of course on Saturday, more people support Włodarczyk, because [there are] a lot of Polish guys here and a lot of Russian guys come from my city, from Moscow, and I don’t feel alone in the ring,” the 24-year-old said.

Gassiev won the IBF crown last time out against Denis Lebedev in Moscow in December. In that fight, Gassiev dropped his 38-year-old opponent in the fifth stanza with a vicious body shot on his way to a split decision victory.

Many observers, however, felt the younger man had dominated the veteran of seven championship bouts in just his first world title showing. The feat was made all the more impressive as Gassiev, although himself a native Russian, was facing a staunchly pro-Lebedev crowd in his country’s capital.

READ MORE: Gallant Gassiev snatches world title from veteran Lebedev

Initial plans by his management were to have the young fighter back in the ring as soon as possible after his title victory, but fate dictated Saturday’s fight will be his first since that night at Moscow’s Khodynka Ice Palace.

“It’s a little bit sad because long time I don’t have a fight but for these 10 months we do a lot of work and I show this work on Saturday,” Gassiev promised.

Training under the tutelage of revered Mexican-American Abel Sanchez at the trainer’s purpose-built ‘The Summit’ headquarters at Big Bear Lake in the Californian hills has been 10 months well spent.

There, 8,000 meters above sea level, Gassiev learns his trade alongside Kazakh middleweight menace Gennady ‘Triple G’ Golovkin, ranked by Ring magazine as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Sanchez has been so impressed with Gassiev’s progress that he has gone as far as to label the fighter from Vladikavkaz “the next Triple G.” A hefty tag given Golovkin is a unified and unbeaten middleweight champion, but Sanchez’s words carry weight given his experience.

Gassiev is indifferent to the praise and reacts with characteristic humility, if not with slight embarrassment, to the comparisons, but there is no doubt his aspirations match Golovkin’s achievements.

“First of all I want to be unified champion in cruiserweight division and after I want to move up to heavyweight division. I think only about this tournament, and after we will see what happens.”

Gassiev must first negotiate his way past Włodarczyk in his WBSS quarter-final, and make it past an array of top-class fighters, of which many believe Ukrainian WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk to be the strongest.

He is also now the only cruiserweight representing Russia, with Dmitry Kudryashov having been knocked out in his quarter-final by Cuban puncher Yunier Dorticos, who Gassiev will face should he be victorious Saturday.

“You know it’s boxing, sometimes you fight against Russian guy, American guy, it’s part of the business. That’s it,” Gassiev says.

“First of all thanks a lot who make this tournament. It’s great opportunity for fighters. I hope it will continue, it’s a great opportunity for the best fighters to see who is the best. [Usyk’s] a great fighter, Olympic gold medalist, world champion, good boxing skills, he’s very good fighter, I respect him,” he added.

A fight with Usyk is obligatory if Gassiev wants to fulfil his dream of becoming unified cruiserweight champion, following in the footsteps of US great Evander Holyfield.

READ MORE: ‘They might be taking over boxing!’ – legendary trainer Freddie Roach on Russian boxers

Gassiev’s ring name has led to another comparison, that of fabled former heavyweight champion ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson – the youngest man to wear the heavyweight world crown.

As he explained to RT Sport last December, “in my native language (Ossetian), it’s pronounced ‘I-ron,’ which means my nationality. But in the US it’s just ‘Iron’ like… like iron!”

Now, Gassiev is content to just be himself as a fighter and focus on his first bout in 10 months, his first title defense and his first WBSS; the time for plaudits can wait as far as the man himself is concerned.

“I can’t say I’m next Golovkin, [or] I’m next Tyson, I need to be Murat Gassiev and that’s it!” he laughs.

By Danny Armstrong, for RT Sport

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Washington’s economic war against Russian gas supplies to Europe unacceptable – Gerhard Schroeder

By ethan / October 20, 2017

The United States would like to weaken Russia’s energy cooperation with the European Union, said former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, adding it’s unacceptable to create barriers to Russian gas deliveries to the German market.

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© Global Look Press

“It’s wrong if the Americans and the European Union somehow resist each other on this issue. And still there are attempts to create some difficulties for this project [Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline – Ed.],” he told Rossiya 24 news channel.

According to Schroeder, “the fact the Americans will try entering the German market with the help of sanctions and to dominate with its liquefied shale gas is nothing but the signs of an economic war, and such war is unacceptable.”

Germany is interested in gas which it “will receive for sure and which will be cheaper than shale gas,” said Schroeder.

The ex-chancellor said German authorities were right to call the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline purely an economic project which should not be politicized.

Last week, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the EU has no legal means to stop the pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany.

READ MORE: Russia will re-route Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline if Denmark tries to block it

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream pipeline, which goes under the Baltic Sea to Germany. The Gazprom-led project is opposed by the Baltic States and Poland.

During the EU summit on Friday, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a threat to European energy security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week Moscow faces obstacles constructing the new route despite the fact that diversification of gas supplies is cost-effective, beneficial to Europe and serves to enhance the security of supplies.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said the pipeline is strictly about business, accusing the United States of trying to thwart the project, as it wants to export its own liquefied natural gas to Europe.

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Top senator expects US will exert ‘unprecedented pressure’ to influence Russian presidential polls

By ethan / October 20, 2017

The Chair of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Committee expects that the US will seek to influence the country’s presidential election next year, saying Washington will only settle for victory by a pro-Western candidate.

The United States recognizes elections as fair and democratic only when they are won by pro-western candidates,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page on Friday.

In the case of any other outcome, election procedures and results are anathema to them,” he added.

Judging by the increasing demagogy about alleged Russian interference [in US polls], they have already started their ‘artillery raid’ ahead of the Russian presidential elections. It is likely that the scale of pressure there will be unprecedented.”

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© Alexander Vilf

Kosachev posted the comments in response to a statement by US Chief Envoy Nikki Haley on Thursday, in which she accused the Russian Government of meddling in US politics and politics across the world.

When a country can come and interfere in another country’s elections, that is warfare,” Haley said.

The Russian Government has made a project of turning Americans against each other,” she stated, according to Reuters.

Kosachev continued his response by saying that he felt bewildered that such statements were being made by an official representative of a nation that has the strongest economy and most powerful military in the world.

He noted that, according to its own data, the US interfered in the election processes of foreign nations 81 times between 1946 and 2000.

This number does not include their special operations and military coups that took place in countries that elected candidates who the United States was not content with, such as Iran, Congo, Chile and Guatemala,” wrote the Senator.

More than that, as demonstrated by the Arab Spring and pro-Western revolutions in post-Soviet states, interfering with the political processes of other nations is the main tool by which the US maintains its international influence.

“This has followed military experiments that were clearly unsuccessful, such as the Iraq campaign, with Colin Powell’s infamous vial used as an excuse.”

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Last June, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the US of repeated and aggressive meddling in Russian politics through US diplomatic staff and NGOs.

[It happened] in 2000 and in 2012, this always happened. But especially aggressively in 2012,” Putin said in an interview with US filmmaker Oliver Stone.

Putin used the example of US diplomatic workers, who had actually campaigned for the Russian opposition.

They gathered opposition forces and financed them, and went to opposition rallies,” he noted, adding that he had raised this issue with members of the past administration, including former US President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

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Macron accuses UK of ‘bluffing’ over threats of no-deal Brexit

By ethan / October 20, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron has accused UK politicians of “bluffing” over a “no-deal” Brexit option. Much “still needs to be done” before the next round of negotiations can begin, he added.

“We haven’t even got halfway there yet,” Macron told reporters in Brussels.

“Theresa May’s problem is that those who wanted Brexit never told the British people what the cost would be.”

He insisted that even if some in Britain say it would be possible to walk away from the EU without any deal, May has never mentioned the possibility. He called the speculation about that option “bluffing.”

His comments come as the UK prime minister called on EU leaders to break the deadlock and give her something she could “defend” to the British public.

On Friday morning, European Council President Donald Tusk said EU leaders have given the “green light” for internal preparations to begin on post-Brexit trade talks. He said, however, there has not been sufficient progress on the issues of citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland or the divorce bill to start formal talks.

While there have been efforts to show progress in the strained Brexit negotiations in Brussels, May had hoped by October to kick-start discussions with the other 27 EU leaders on a future trade deal, known as “phase two” of the negotiations.

Tusk added that reports of a deadlock between the EU and UK have been exaggerated, and insisted there has been progress. He said the EU hoped to move to the second phase of talks in December.

May has signaled Britain could pay billions of pounds more in a Brexit divorce bill to secure a start to trade talks before Christmas.

At a news conference on Friday, the UK leader was asked three times if she was offering more money to the EU and gave no denial.
“We will honor the commitments we have made during our membership,” she said.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives on the first day of the two-day EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 19, 2017. © Ye Pingfan / Global Look Press

“Now there has to be more detailed work on those commitments… and we will continue going through them line by line, and the British taxpayers wouldn’t expect its government to do anything else.”

“I know we have a long way to go,” May told reporters, adding “we should recognize what has been achieved to date.” She also insisted the UK “is in touching distance” of a Brexit deal.

May’s conciliatory tone this week has been welcomed by some leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, although others were less impressed. On Friday morning, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern both called for more tangible proposals from the UK, instead of “rhetoric.”

Merkel said suggestions in Britain that talks should be broken off were “absurd.”

“I have absolutely no doubts that if we are all focused… that we can get a good result. From my side there are no indications that we won’t succeed,” she said.

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Trump border wall prototypes go up in California (VIDEO)

By ethan / October 20, 2017

Several prototypes of President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall on the US-Mexico frontier have been erected in southern California.

Six completed wall options, and another under construction, were captured in this aerial footage from a site near Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego on Thursday.

The prototypes, erected a short distance from Tijuana, Mexico, are samples of proposed cement, metal and anti-climbing formats for the border barrier, and are reportedly costing the US government $ 500,000 each.

READ MORE: Trump’s immigration plan revealed: Green card overhaul, no sanctuary cities, 10k more ICE officers

Prototype guidelines said the wall must be “physically imposing in height.” The US government’s nominal concept is for a 30ft high wall, capable of withstanding at least one hour of punishment from a sledge hammer, pickaxe, torch, chisel or battery-operated tools. It should also prevent the use of climbing aids and be “aesthetically pleasing” when viewed from the US side.

Footage of the test walls is released just two weeks after a house panel approved legislation to provide a total of $ 15 billion for construction of the controversial wall and bolster security at ports of entry into the US.

The Border Security for America Act allocates $ 10 billion for construction of the wall, $ 5 billion to improve ports of entry, and includes the addition of 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers.

READ MORE: US House panel approves $ 10bn for Mexico border wall

In addition, the bill authorizes the federal government to reimburse states up to $ 35 million to use the National Guard in support of border security and prohibits federal agents from restricting CBP activities on federal land within 100 miles of the border.

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Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline sparks fierce war of words from Warsaw

By ethan / October 20, 2017

Officials from Poland have again spoken out against the expansion of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

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© Christian Charisius

At the EU summit, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo described the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a threat to European energy security. She raised the question even though it was not on the summit agenda.

“The continuation of this investment threatens not only the energy independence of the entire Central and Eastern Europe, but also undermines the energy security of the entire region,” Szydlo said.

“During today’s working session, I decided to raise this topic for discussion, I am pleased to say that my voice in the discussion was supported by other heads of governments, and the importance of this topic was supported by Chairman Donald Tusk [former Prime Minister of Poland – ed.],” she added.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will double the 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year of the existing Nord Stream pipeline. The pipeline has faced fierce opposition from the Baltic States and Poland, who call it a political project of the Kremlin. Moscow has insisted the pipeline is strictly about business.

Last week, the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said the EU has no legal means to stop the pipeline.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia faces obstacles constructing the new route despite the fact that diversification of gas supplies is cost-effective, beneficial to Europe and serves to enhance the security of supplies.

Proponents of the pipeline claim it will bring gas prices in Europe down. As the EU’s domestic gas production is in decline, Europe needs reliable and affordable gas supplies from Russia, the developers say. They add that natural gas is a lower-carbon fuel that can replace other fossil fuels in Europe.

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A woman as Russian president? Putin says it’s possible

By ethan / October 20, 2017

Vladimir Putin has defined the job of Russian president as making the country flexible and competitive, adding that a woman could possibly be elected to fulfill them.

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Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko © Michael Klimentyev

The country should become flexible regarding forms and methods of management. It must have an economy that heads into the future through running the newest technologies and estimating their capabilities in application,” Putin said in his major speech at the Valdai Forum – an event featuring high-profile journalists, politicians, researchers and financial experts.

We must strengthen our defense capability, and perfect our political system so it becomes like a living organism and develops in tune with the development of the rest of the world,” he added.

When a member of the audience asked Putin if it was possible that a woman could become Russian president after the next election, Putin answered that “in our country everything is possible.”

The president also noted that senior Russian authorities currently face the task of creating a new corps of governors out of “young and modern people with potential; people who think about the future, both in their regions and in Russia as a whole.

“It must be a bet on modern and promising technocrats,” he noted.

In this connection the president promised to continue the process of governor replacement. “We will do it very carefully and neatly, in order to always maintain the balance between reliable and seasoned professionals and those who are just beginnig their careers in various professions,” he said.

I will have more meetings with those who worked for many years [on the governors’ posts]; I am very grateful to them for their work and for its results,” he noted. 

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© Maksim Bogodvid

A public opinion poll conducted in mid-February this year by the independent research agency Levada showed that about 33 percent of Russians supported the idea of having a female president, with 54 percent saying that they would not like to see a female president running Russia in the next 10 to 15 years.  The general idea of women being actively engaged in politics was supported by 30 percent of respondents and the share of Russians who said that women should not assume senior state positions was at 38 percent. The share of those who preferred equal representation of the sexes was 56 percent.

In mid-2006 one of Russia’s top politicians, Upper House chair Valentina Matviyenko, told reporters that in her opinion Russian citizens were “mentally ready” for a woman to be president, because in recent times professionalism has become the main requirement for senior politicians. Matviyenko has reminded the press of her position several times over the past months, as the next Russian presidential elections near.

Earlier this week, Russian journalist and celebrity Kseniya Sobchak returned the idea of a female president into the field of public discussion by announcing that that she planned to run in the 2018 presidential election. However, Sobchak emphasized that her purpose would not be to win, but to replace the ‘none of the above’ line on ballots.

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