Archive for September, 2019

‘Quit playing stupid sanctions games’: Moscow blasts new round of US sanctions, vows to respond

Posted by RT on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on ‘Quit playing stupid sanctions games’: Moscow blasts new round of US sanctions, vows to respond

The latest US sanctions against Russia over alleged 2016 election meddling has triggered an angry response in Moscow, which dismissed them as a reflection of a political crisis in Washington.

A fresh batch of restrictions was unveiled Monday by the US Treasury Department, which invoked President Donald Trump’s executive order about election interference for the first time. Russian nationals Denis Kuzmin and Igor Nesterov were targeted over “links” to the Internet Research Agency – alleged to be the notorious “troll farm” used for meddling.

Apart from that, the restrictions were imposed on three companies registered in the Seychelles, as well as three aircraft owned by the said businesses and a “pleasure vessel” registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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US Treasury Department (file photo)
Pleasure boat, 3 planes & companies & 2 Russians sanctioned in new US ‘election meddling’ action

Russia’s Foreign Ministry did not mince words when firing back.

“What made Washington bureaucrats put them all on the same list, what relation the planes and boats have – as it’s asserted – to the interference into the American election, remains unclear,” the ministry said in a statement.

The diplomats also noted that the US sanctions have targeted certain individuals twice and thrice already, alleging that “the authors of sanctions either lack imagination or they get confused with their multiple lists.”

The never-ending sanctions campaign against Moscow is a sign of the deep political crisis in the US, the ministry stated, as “a part of Washington establishment” uses the anti-Russian trope to reach its “opportunistic goals.” While Moscow calls on the US to quit playing “sanctions games” altogether and engage in meaningful dialogue, it is ready to retaliate.

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© Reuters / Lucas Jackson
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“As before, the anti-Russian attack will not remain unanswered. At the same time, we urge American politicians to quit playing stupid sanctions games, that yield zero result, and return to a common sense-based position,” the ministry added.

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Jordan Peterson doc still gets premiere after finding itself under ‘cancel culture’ chopping block

Posted by RT on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on Jordan Peterson doc still gets premiere after finding itself under ‘cancel culture’ chopping block

A documentary tracking the rise of conservative figure Jordan Peterson has faced hurdles getting to the big screen in his home country of Canada, with the creators telling RT the difficulties signal deeper problems in the West.

A psychology professor and author, Peterson first rose to international prominence for his vocal and unapologetic opposition to extreme political correctness and identity politics. The firm stance won him quite a few supporters worldwide – and at least as many critics, who see him as a transgender-hating custodian of the patriarchy, whose ‘archaic’ views don’t deserve any platform in the woke modern world.

Filmmaker Patricia Marcoccia knew Peterson before he became an international phenomenon and she witnessed his meteoric burst into the public consciousness and watched as his profile grew exponentially in recent years. Her observations form the basis of the documentary ‘The Rise of Jordan Peterson’ which expands on an earlier film aired by Canadian public broadcaster CBC last year.

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The film was due to be screened for a week in Canada by Carlton Cinema, a Toronto-based chain specializing in foreign and independent movies, but the screenings were scrapped. The cancellation reportedly followed complaints by some employees that they were uncomfortable with Peterson as the documentary’s subject. Controversial subject matter is apparently off limits these days, as the hyper-vigilant political correctness police gain more and more influence over what is (and is not) acceptable to say in public. 

The uproar over the Peterson film was somewhat ironic, Marcoccia told RT, because as far as the company knows, those doing the complaining haven’t even seen the documentary, and as such, are hardly best placed to make judgements. 

The controversy signals a wider problem with divisiveness, online echo chambers and an inability to accept others’ political opinions in the West, the film’s producer Maziar Ghaderi told RT.

“These days politics in the West has become so polarized that people don’t even speak with people that they disagree with — and social media makes it really easy to do that, and that’s very sad,” Ghaderi said.

“This political stuff shouldn’t be the center of your world.”

Carlton Cinema’s abrupt decision to back out is not the only cancellation the filmmakers have faced, either. Other theaters rejected the film too, arguing that it was “unethical” to contribute to the “cult of personality” around Peterson, Marcoccia claimed.

“[Some theaters] said if people don’t like Jordan Peterson, they won’t pay money to see a film about him. There were all sorts of reasons we were getting,” she added.

This kind of obfuscation is understandable, but regrettable, Ghaderi said, explaining that the intention with the documentary was to show that Peterson is neither devil incarnate nor conservative messiah — but a regular, living, breathing person. They hoped they could use the film to help overcome increased political polarization in society and encourage honest dialogue between warring factions in the culture wars. 

Yet, it seems gone are the days, when people at least waited until they had viewed the contentious movie or actually read the controversial book before calling for it to be scrapped.

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FILE PHOTO. © Global Look Press / Ulrich Zillmann
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The hand-wringing over the Peterson documentary comes as the latest in a series of attempts in the West to silence alternative or anti-mainstream views through public pressure and “cancel culture.” Controversial public figures, often those expressing conservative views, can easily find themselves “cancelled” by liberal society or face outright censorship on social media. 

From ironically wearing blackface over a decade ago to suggesting a three-year-old isn’t mature enough to decide its own gender, the list of offenses for which one can be excommunicated from polite society is growing by the day.

Over the past couple of years, controversial conservative commentators like Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer have found themselves banned from Facebook. Others, like Steven Crowder, have had their YouTube accounts demonetized for the crime of expressing non-mainstream ideas.

Eager to comply with the demands of the liberal zeitgeist, YouTube went on a banning spree earlier this year, axing accounts for “extreme” content — but the Google-owned video platform did so with such gusto that even educational channels discussing topics like the history of Nazi Germany got swept up under the ban brush. It’s within that context that the Peterson documentary seems to be offering up a bit more than the PC police can handle.

Despite the hurdles, however, ‘The Rise of Jordan Peterson’ did get a chance for a theatrical premiere after Canada’s Cineplex chain agreed to screen it on a cinema-on-demand basis. 

Marcoccia and Ghaderi said they had received positive feedback, with viewers describing the film as unbiased and thought-provoking. That’s enough to consider their endeavor a success, they said, since that’s how they hoped the work would be regarded.

There is respect to the audience in that we don’t dumb down things and oversimplify the narrative to make it fit into a simple story. We are being honest and reflect back reality.

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Pleasure boat, 3 planes & companies & 2 Russians sanctioned in new US ‘election meddling’ action

Posted by RT on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on Pleasure boat, 3 planes & companies & 2 Russians sanctioned in new US ‘election meddling’ action

Invoking President Donald Trump’s executive order about election interference for the first time, the US Treasury Department has sanctioned several people, planes and a ship “linked to” the Internet Research Agency in Russia.

Russian nationals Denis Kuzmin and Igor Nesterov were added to the Treasury sanctions list on Monday for “links” to the IRA. Three companies registered in the Seychelles – Autolex Transport Ltd, Beratex Group Ltd, and Linburg Industries Ltd – were also sanctioned on the same grounds, as well as “cyber” and Ukraine-related statutes. 

Three airplanes owned by these companies and a “pleasure craft” named St. Vitamin, owned by Beratex Group and registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, were also named in the sanctions order. 

All of these people, vessels and entities are in turn “linked to” Yevgeny Prigozhin, whom the US government has accused of masterminding the 2016 “Russian election meddling” via social networks. Prigozhin’s own designation was expanded to cite the “election interference” executive order.

These seem to be the first designations under Executive Order 13848, which Trump signed in September 2018. The order provides grounds for sanctioning foreign individuals and entities based on an “assessment” by the Director of National Intelligence – the office currently embroiled in the impeachment probe over Trump’s conversation with the president of Ukraine.

By what must have been sheer coincidence, the New York Times ran a feature on Monday accusing Russia of meddling in the 2016 US elections and now “using similar tactics” in the Central African Republic (CAR). It centers around Prigozhin, described as a “confidant” of President Vladimir Putin.

Prigozhin’s company, Concord Management & Consulting, was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in 2018, for allegedly running the IRA as a “troll farm” and “sowing discord” on US social media prior, during and after the 2016 election. 

Concord challenged the indictment in a US federal court, and DOJ lawyers have been fighting tooth and nail to prevent it from seeing evidence in the case ever since.

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Another nail in Russiagate coffin? Federal judge destroys key Mueller report claim

In July, it was revealed that Concord’s lawyers successfully challenged Mueller’s prosecutors – now working for the DOJ – for prejudicial statements in the report that claimed to have “established” and “confirmed” Russian government interference in the election. US District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich agreed that Mueller did not in fact establish a link between Concord and the Russian government and that Prigozhin being “widely reported to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin” was an assertion, not evidence. Friedrich stopped just short of finding the prosecutors in contempt.

As the newest sanctions show, however, the assertion that Russia “meddled” in the US election – originally levied by the losing party in order to challenge the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency – has been accepted as an article of faith even by Trump’s own administration. 

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8 more EU countries join sanctions-circumventing exchange INSTEX to trade with Iran – EU high representative’s aide

Posted by RT on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on 8 more EU countries join sanctions-circumventing exchange INSTEX to trade with Iran – EU high representative’s aide

Eight EU countries have joined INSTEX, the mechanism set up to trade with Iran while circumventing US sanctions, and another two are set to follow, according to an aide to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.

Apart from the three countries that initiated the creation of the mechanism – France, Germany and Great Britain – eight more EU member states have decided to join. Two more countries are expected to follow in their footsteps,” Nathalie Tocci, an aide to Mogherini, said on Monday on the sidelines of the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi.

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FILE PHOTO: A mural depicting Iranian national flags in Tehran © AFP
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While Tocci did not mention which countries were joining the exchange, Sweden and Belgium have both said they plan to join, and membership was opened up to all EU countries in June, five months after the exchange’s creation.

Earlier this month, senior Iranian lawmaker Mucteba Zunnur said the EU had promised to contribute $15 billion to INSTEX – and promised in return to resume compliance with the JCPOA nuclear deal if the money was received before the end of the year. The EU had no official response to his claim.

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French President Emmanuel Macron shakes hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York on September 23, 2019. © REUTERS/John Irish
Time for Iran to ‘give up hope’ on Europe defying US sanctions – Supreme Leader Khamenei

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for Iranians to “give up hope on Europeans” last week, slamming the country’s European partners in the deal for failing to do their part to keep it afloat after the US pulled out and unilaterally reimposed sanctions last year. Iran has been gradually withdrawing from the deal’s provisions as the months pass with what it sees as insufficient action from the Europeans, but has stressed that it can reverse course should Europe step up to save the deal.

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Fin24.com | Local bourse tracks Asian stocks lower

Posted by Fin24 Markets on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on Fin24.com | Local bourse tracks Asian stocks lower
The greenback strengthened against a basket of major currencies which saw it peak as high as 99.46 index points on the US dollar index.

Fin24.com | Local bourse tracks Asian stocks lower

Posted by Fin24 Markets on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on Fin24.com | Local bourse tracks Asian stocks lower
The greenback strengthened against a basket of major currencies which saw it peak as high as 99.46 index points on the US dollar index.

BrahMos going local: India tests supersonic missile with ‘major indigenous components’

Posted by RT on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on BrahMos going local: India tests supersonic missile with ‘major indigenous components’

India has successfully tested the BrahMos supersonic missile, which it developed together with Russia. The weapon features several major components manufactured domestically.

The missile was fired on Monday morning from a test site in Chandipur, a coastal city in northeastern India, and traveled some 290km before hitting its target, India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) reported.

The test involved a land attack version of the missile, which had several components manufactured domestically, including its propulsion system, airframe, and power supply.

BrahMos, dubbed the world’s fastest cruise missile, was designed based on the export version of the Russian P-800 Oniks anti-ship system.

Indian engineers developed navigation and targeting systems for the projectile, while the Russians supplied components like the ramjet engine, which allows BrahMos to travel at speeds of up to Mach 3, according to the manufacturer.

New Delhi has been pushing to produce a greater share of components domestically as part of its “Make in India” initiative.

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© RT / Mikhail Khodarenok
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The missile can be deployed from various platforms, including warships, submarines, land-based launchers, and heavy fighter jets. Several derivatives of BrahMos are in the works, including an extended-range version that will ultimately be able to engage targets at a distance of up to 800km, a smaller version suitable for a wider range of platforms, and the next-generation variant that will be capable of reaching hypersonic speeds.

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Twin attack targets US military base & Italian convoy in Somalia

Posted by RT on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on Twin attack targets US military base & Italian convoy in Somalia

A US base and an Italian military convoy have come under attack in Somalia where foreign troops are stationed to support the government. In both cases the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.

The Baledogle US special forces base, located some 100 kilometers from the country’s capital, Mogadishu, and used to train local commandos, was attacked on Monday. The militants used two car bombs to breach the facility’s perimeter and then proceeded to attack it with small arms.

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© Reuters / Jose Torres
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While Al-Shabaab itself claimed it managed to penetrate the perimeter of the base, and storm the military complex “engaging the crusaders in an intense firefight,” local authorities denied that. According to police, both car bombs failed to reach the base and detonated early.

The US military did not provide many details on the attack, saying it was assessing the situation and working to “confirm details of the incident.” No immediate reports on potential casualties among the US or local forces emerged.

In a separate incident, an Italian military convoy was targeted with a roadside bomb in Mogadishu. The Italian military is present in the country as a part of the EU mission to train the forces of the UN-backed Somali government.

Photos from the scene suggest that at least one Italian armored car was damaged in the blast, while nearby buildings sustained heavy damage. Still, no injuries among the Italian servicemen were reported, the country’s defense ministry said.

Damaged Italian military vehicles are seen at the scene of an attack on a military convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia on September 30, 2019. © Reuters / Feisal Omar

The twin attack follows a string of other major incidents, involving the Al-Shabaab group, which has been waging insurgency in the country since the mid-2000s. On September 22, it attacked and looted a military base in El Salini, some 60km southwest of Mogadishu. The militants used a suicide bomber to breach the perimeter and then stormed it on foot.

Somalis inspect the damage caused at the scene of an attack on an Italian military convoy in Mogadishu, Somalia on September 30, 2019. © Reuters / Feisal Omar

A week before that, the group claimed it attacked Burundian peacekeepers, killing at least 14 servicemen. The African Union, which oversees the peacekeeping mission, however, acknowledged deaths of only three soldiers.

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#1917LIVE and #Romanovs100 win Best In Heritage 2019

Posted by RT on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on #1917LIVE and #Romanovs100 win Best In Heritage 2019

With only two winners out of 42 esteemed contestants, RT’s history projects were noted by an influential community that came together in Dubrovnik for the annual Best In Heritage conference.

#1917LIVE and #Romanovs100, represented in Dubrovnik by RT’s Ivor Crotty, won IMAGINES Project of Influence 2019. This year’s conference featured presentations from the Museum of London, the Van Gogh Museum, the Ladakh Arts and Media Organization (LAMO) Center, the Gulag Museum, and many others. By the end of the forum, participants – scientists, curators, professors and museum directors – had voted for two winners.

“We will be very glad to see our experience inspire creators to come up with new educational projects leading young people to learn more about history and other subjects,” said Kirill Karnovich-Valua, the projects’ creative producer.

The Best in Heritage is a non-governmental, non-profit organization based in Zagreb. It is dedicated to promoting every aspect of professional excellence in heritage occupations, and doing it “by the power of example” through an annual, global conference. The event has taken place annually since 2002, selecting and presenting examples of the best and most successful practices in museums, heritage and conservation. It seeks to spread quality and excellence in the public memory domain, thus contributing to creating a powerful profession and better societal use of heritage.

©  Domagoj Režić

This is the first time that both RT Creative Lab’s projects #1917LIVE and #Romanovs100 were noted by one award. Jointly, they hold nearly 50 prestigious international awards including Shorty, Webby, Clio, Digiday, the Drum and more (including four nominations for both projects at Cannes Lions in 2018 and 2019).

The #1917LIVE and #Romanovs100 projects both told the story of the revolutions of 1917 that did away with the monarchy in Russia, but from very different angles. The first focused on the general flow of events, the second told the private story of the last Tsar and his family. Both projects used social networks as principal platforms, to re-present the events that took place 100 years ago with a renewed sense of immediacy and urgency.

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Human trafficker, on the run for 17 years after prison break, found in Chinese cave by police drone (PHOTOS)

Posted by RT on September 30, 2019  |   Comments Off on Human trafficker, on the run for 17 years after prison break, found in Chinese cave by police drone (PHOTOS)

A 63-year-old man who had been on the run for 17 years after pulling off a daring prison break was finally captured by Chinese police, who tracked the fugitive to a cave using drones.

Song Jiang was apprehended at his mountainous hideout on September 19 by Yongshan police in Yunnan province, south-west China, after authorities used unmanned aerial vehicles to search the area. 

© Yongshan Police

Jiang was imprisoned for trafficking women and children, but escaped from prison in 2002. Police said they started to zero in on his whereabouts in early September this year after receiving a crucial tip-off. 

Following a number of failed missions by personnel on the ground, drones were deployed and, after a five-hour-long aerial search, eventually revealed his hiding place.

© Yongshan Police

 After spotting the small cave littered with rubbish on the side of a steep cliff, officers moved in on foot to take Jiang back into custody. Police said the fugitive had been living in complete seclusion for so long that he found it difficult to communicate with officers.

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