Five Chilean riot police were caught on camera brutalizing an elderly protester, dragging him through the street and manhandling him into a van as gargantuan protests against the Piñera regime’s austerity policies continue.

The protester is shown struggling to keep up as a group of heavily-armored Chilean police with riot shields rush him down the street. At one point, someone out of frame complains about how they are "pulling" the old man along, so they knock their prisoner to the ground.

Three officers then grab hold of a limb each and drag the man the rest of the way, the video posted to Twitter by Redfish on Tuesday shows.

Another clip posted in reply appears to show the same man being muscled into a police van.

It’s not clear what happened before the man was arrested, but over a million protesters have taken to the streets in Chile to demand economic justice over the last few weeks, and many of them have been subjected to excessive force at the hands of police.

The protests triggered by an increase in subway fares have mushroomed into demonstrations against the neoliberal austerity policies of President Sebastian Piñera. The billionaire leader, who initially declared war on the protesters, later retracted his statement and dangled $1.2 billion in pension spending and a guaranteed minimum income as a peace offering, but the demonstrations continue.

© Reuters / Ivan Alvarado

Police repression of the protests has been especially severe compared to other protests around the world. Under the state of emergency Piñera declared shortly after the largely peaceful demonstrations began, police have been filmed shooting to maim unarmed demonstrators at point-blank range. 

Over 26 protesters completely lost vision in one eye and 140 received eye injuries in just the first two weeks of protests, sparking an outcry from human rights groups. At least 20 have been killed so far and over 1,600 people have been wounded since the protests began, including some police, according to the UN.  

Although opposition and groups like Human Rights Watch have been slamming Piñera for his government's human rights violations, there has been little condemnation from Washington.

This is in stark contrast with nearby Bolivia, where leftist president Evo Morales was forced to resign in what he called a military coup, while the US praised that as a “significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere.”

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Israeli targeting of two Islamic Jihad leaders, resulting in rocket attacks from Gaza and a military escalation with the Palestinians, take place as the country is in political turmoil with only a caretaker government in Tel Aviv.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have called up reserves and tanks have been spotted heading south towards the border on Tuesday, as the IDF jets and artillery pounded Gaza and Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched over 160 rockets into Israel. Meanwhile, Egypt and the EU have urged restraint. 

Though tensions with Gaza have been a constant for years, the latest escalation came after Israeli strikes targeted two leaders of Islamic Jihad. Bahaa Abu al-Atta was killed in eastern Gaza, along with his wife and two other people. Meanwhile, a strike targeting Akram al-Ajouri in Damascus, Syria injured his wife and killed their son, but reportedly missed him entirely.

Al-Ajouri is a member of Islamic Jihad’s political leadership, while Al-Atta was a prominent commander in the Quds Brigades, its military wing. Announcing the assassination, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Al-Atta a “ticking time bomb” and Israel’s third most-wanted terrorist.

Islamic Jihad has vowed revenge, and seems to have received the support of Hamas, the group that currently rules Gaza. Israel has warned Hamas not to get involved, RT’s Paula Slier reported from Jerusalem.

Some of the rockets fired into Israel from Gaza have reportedly been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, but many managed to come through as well. There have been no reports of Israeli casualties as of yet.

Slier says the strikes on two leaders indicate “a resumption in the israeli policy of targeted assassinations.” Since the August 2014 assassination of senior Hamas commander Raed al-Attar, Israel has only admitted to one other targeted killing, that of Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudari in May this year.

The current political crisis in Israel may help explain this latest escalation, however. Just last week, Netanyahu stepped down from the post of defense minister and appointed Naftali Bennett, leader of the New Right party, to the job. Bennett is known as a hard-liner on the Palestinian question, but some Israeli media have speculated that his appointment had little to do with security concerns and more to do with denying a majority to Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s rival for the premiership, and maybe even forcing another general election. 

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A woman places electoral banners for the Likud party showing chairman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva on September 15, 2019.
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Netanyahu is currently heading a caretaker cabinet only. In April, he narrowly beat out Gantz in the general election, but was unable to form a ruling coalition, leading to the unprecedented general election in September. That one turned out even worse for Israel’s long-term PM, leaving Gantz with a mandate to try instead.

Gantz is having a hard time scrounging up enough votes for a Knesset majority, however, and Netanyahu is showing little interest in a national unity government in which he would have no role. His other path to power leads through a coalition with the Joint List of Arab parties.

“Hours after the operation, Netanyahu’s media’s mouthpieces opined that the option was now dead in the water,” noted Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev. “If you believe it’s a mere coincidence, you might be interested in buying the Brooklyn Bridge.”

The strikes were at least partly intended to show that Gantz cannot be trusted because he would have to rely on the Joint List support to become PM, former peace negotiator and IDF Lieutenant Colonel Moty Cristal told i24News.

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Marco Rubio blames ‘Putin’s disinformation’ for coverage of Bolivia coup that he doesn’t like

Eager to find some way to implicate Russia in Bolivia’s political crisis and control of the US narrative, Republican senator Marco Rubio branded any skeptical coverage of events as an example of how "Putin uses disinformation."

Rubio, an early and avid supporter of protests that ousted former Bolivian President Evo Morales this week, tweeted that those wishing to understand Russian disinformation should "study current coverage" of Bolivia.

In Rubio's world, Russia has created "fake news" on Bolivia and is spreading it via a "vast network of outlets" and "social media actors” before it is "echoed in mainstream media."

Rubio did not specify exactly what kind of “fake news” he was referring to, but his past statements and support for the Bolivian opposition indicate that he is displeased with media coverage accurately referring to Morales’ ousting under military pressure as a coup.

Twitter was quick to step in and point out that Rubio’s description of how ‘Russian’ propaganda spreads is indeed quite similar to how the US government maintains narrative control on issues of foreign policy — usually by ensuring that misleading or outright false official statements proliferate rapidly in the media.

“Marco is going to be surprised when he hears about America,” one sarcastic commenter responded.

Journalist Dan Cohen said Rubio's interpretation of what was happening with coverage of Bolivia amounted to "pure projection." 

“I mean, the US just assisted with a right wing fascist coup to overturn a democratic election… you’re like a cartoon,” another user wrote.

“If you disagree with Marco Rubio’s warped neocon version of reality with regard to Bolivia, then you might be spreading Russian disinformation. Very convenient.” added journalist Rania Khalek.

Rubio does have quite the incentive to keep pushing the line that Morales was ousted in a popular uprising though — and that Russia must be behind any other narrative. Leaked audio recordings show that right-wing Rubio was among a group of US senators actively plotting with the Bolivian opposition to overthrow the socialist leader.

Morales touched down in Mexico on Tuesday after the country offered him asylum following his forced resignation. Morales was re-elected as president in October, but opposition parties accused him of tampering with the vote and violent protests erupted, culminating in the police and military mutiny which forced him to flee the country.

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Calling out immigrants who do not wear a poppy in memory of WWI veterans got legendary Canadian sportscaster Don Cherry fired and further polarized the nation struggling to reconcile “woke” values with its history and tradition.

Red poppy badges are a must-have accessory around Remembrance Day – November 11 – across the British Commonwealth, symbolizing the armistice that ended the First World War. When Cherry – the octogenarian sports commentator and former hockey coach – called out immigrants who refused to wear the badge, however, he was fired from Sportsnet and accused of being xenophobic and racist.

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FILE PHOTO: Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry speaks to journalists on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on November 7, 2006.
Canadian sports commentator Don Cherry in hot water over 'anti-immigrant' poppy comments

During an episode of his Coach’s Corner show on Saturday, Cherry lamented that “nobody wears the poppy” in downtown Toronto, unlike in smaller towns across Canada.

“You people … you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that," Cherry said. “These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price.”

While acknowledging that Cherry – known as ‘Grapes’ – is “synonymous with hockey,” Sportsnet president Bart Yabsley denounced his “divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.”

Cherry's words were "offensive and contrary to the values we believe in," the NHL said.

The issue took no time to become political, with conservatives insisting Cherry’s remarks were neither racist nor xenophobic but elementary patriotism, while the ruling liberals raced who would denounce him the loudest.

Seeking to prove Cherry wrong, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) went to Calgary – not Toronto – and found immigrants who wore poppies. Of the five people interviewed, only one said he was hurt by Cherry’s remarks. Others agreed with his sentiments, if not his phrasing, saying that everyone who lives in Canada should indeed wear the badge to show proper respect for the veterans.

Canadian national identity has been shaped in great part by the sacrifices of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) on the Western Front during the Great War, especially the “Hundred Days” campaign of 1918. Out of the 620,000 men mobilized, almost 40 percent ended up either killed or wounded by the end of the war.

The poppy symbol itself originated in Canada, drawn from the country’s best-known poem, “In Flanders Fields.” It was written in 1915, after the Second Battle of Ypres, by Lt. Colonel John McCrae – an officer in the CEF who would not live to see the armistice. 

Modern Canada has one of the world’s highest per-capita immigration rates, with most of the country’s population growth coming from admitting over 300,000 migrants a year. As a result, it seems highly susceptible for the kind of identity politics-driven outrage that cost Cherry his job.

“I know what I said and I meant it,” Cherry said on Monday, maintaining that his words were not bigoted but patriotic. “To keep my job, I cannot be turned into a tamed robot.”

While the NHL and Sportsnet clearly disagree, Moscow’s HC Dynamo has invited Cherry to come to Russia instead, saying that they need an analyst who could speak his mind.

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Virtue-signalling or vehicular sense? Netherlands to lower speed limits to cut emissions - report

The government of the Netherlands will reportedly slash highway speed limits from 130 km/h (80mph) to 100 km/h (60mph) in a bid to curb nitrogen emissions. The move has been received with mixed feelings.

Dutch broadcaster NOS reported on Tuesday that the center-right/center-left coalition government will unveil the lowered speed limit on Wednesday morning. Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not confirm the news, telling reporters to wait overnight for the official word.

The drastically lowered speed limit will be enforced during daytime hours, and existing speed limits of 120 km/h and 130 km/h will remain in place between 7pm and 6am.

The government claims that the drop in speed limits will offset the nitrogen emissions of the 75,000 new homes it plans on building next year. Rutte’s cabinet will also reportedly reveal plans to add enzymes to cattle feed to cut down on the ammonia content of their manure.

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The bid to slash nitrogen and ammonia emissions comes after the Council of State ruled in May that construction and agriculture in the Netherlands emitted amounts of these substances in breach of EU legislation. 

Efforts to tackle the problem have not gone down well though. Furious at being labelled a climate change threat, Dutch farmers blocked hundreds of miles of major roads with their tractors last month, causing a thousand-kilometer (620 mile) gridlock.

While Dutch media outlet NRC reported that a majority of its readers see the new limit as a “win-win situation,” not everyone is happy. 

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“In Germany you can drive fast, you have an excellent gas connection, and you can fill your tank for cheaper,” on commenter wrote. “Can’t we become a province?”

Right-wing party Forum For Democracy (FvD) - which opposes the new limit - presented the choice between themselves and Rutte’s coalition as one between “progress or standstill.”

Furthermore, Henk Stipdonk, a scientist with the Ministry of Infrastructure told Amsterdam-based newspaper Trouw that traffic only accounts for around six percent of the country’s nitrogen emissions. Additionally, he told the paper that “very little is still known in science” about the link between vehicles and nitrogen production.

The relation between speed and emissions is a massively complex one. Diesel engines emit less nitrogen at lower speeds, but more carbon. Gasoline engines, on the other hand, emit more nitrogen at lower speeds, but more carbon at higher speeds, according to a simplistic summary of EU research. Also at play is the efficiency of the engine in question - with newer units generally performing better - and the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle itself.

All in all, Stipdonk reckons that the new speed limits will only cut the Netherlands’ emissions by a tenth of a percentage point.

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If introduced as reported, the Netherlands’ new speed limit will be the slowest in Europe, tied with Cyprus. Ironically, it was the United States - home of the gas-guzzling V8 - that first slashed speed limits in the name of cutting gasoline consumption. 

A year after the 1973 Oil Crisis, the federal government introduced the National Maximum Speed Law, which cut speed limits across the US to 55mph (90km/h). Though the law was repealed in 1995, many states kept the 55mph restriction in place.

Gasoline savings as a result of the law were estimated at a mere 0.5 to one percent. Far more instrumental in lowering the US’ consumption was the ensuing popularity of smaller-engined, more efficient European and Japanese imports.

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The whistleblower whose complaint kicked off the impeachment drive against President Trump may himself have illegally solicited foreign donations, a new whistleblower has claimed, in a story that gets more farcical by the day.

In a complaint filed to the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) last week and reported by Fox News on Tuesday, an anonymous whistleblower claims that a GoFundMe campaign to cover the impeachment whistleblower’s legal costs may have breached federal law, as the $227,500 in donations “clearly constitutes” gifts to a serving intelligence official.

What’s more, the complaint alleges that some of these 6,000 donors could be based outside the US. As such, the whistleblower has asked the ICIG to probe whether any “foreign citizen or agent of a foreign government” contributed.

Confused? Let’s recap. Back in August an anonymous intelligence official approached the ICIG, complaining that President Donald Trump sought to withhold military aid to Ukraine, in exchange for Kiev reopening a corruption case against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. The whistleblower claimed that a phone call between Trump and newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky provided evidence of this quid pro quo arrangement, yet a transcript of the call released by Trump revealed nothing bar a request to reopen the corruption probe.

Nevertheless, Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry against the president, a closed-door affair that was rubber-stamped by a House vote last month.

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(L) US Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) © Reuters / Kevin Lamarque; (R) House Intelligence Committee Chairman US Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-CA) © Reuters / Leah Millis
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Republicans have demanded the whistleblower reveal himself and testify at forthcoming impeachment hearings, as has Trump himself. Democrats, led by House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-California), have insisted he remain anonymous, and lashed out at Trump’s son Donald Jr. last week when he referenced media reports that the whistleblower was CIA officer Eric Ciaramella, who had a history of “anti-Trump” activity.

With nothing certain, and with both whistleblowers anonymous, all the impeachment inquiry has had to go on are Trump’s transcript, which he said shows a “perfect” phone call with Zelensky, and Schiff’s dramatized interpretation of the call, ridiculed by critics as “unhinged Orange Man Bad fan fiction.” 

Testimony from a cohort of officials privy to the call has since failed to provide the ‘smoking gun’ Schiff needs to prove the quid pro quo he has accused Trump of.

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Regardless of whether the latest whistleblower violated federal law or not, he or she is maintaining the murky tradition of turning anti-Trump sentiment into cold, hard cash. Former FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former agent Peter Strzok have both used GoFundMe to raise over a million dollars combined.

More audaciously, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen used the crowdfunding site last year to pull in $217,144 after he publicly severed his ties with the president and promised to dish dirt on his former employer. What eager #resistance donors weren’t told, however, was that Cohen had splashed out $6.7 million on a luxury New York City apartment four months earlier.

Speaking truth to power is an American tradition. In the age of Trump, profiting handsomely from truth-telling is fast becoming a tradition too.

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‘Dictators? It’s OK’: Trump trolls critics, touting his ability to work with anybody if it benefits US

World leaders flock to the US as it’s where all the action is, Donald Trump, said, adding that he is willing to negotiate with each and every one of them, even dictators, to help America prosper.

“When I meet with the leaders of countries as they come in: kings and queens; and prime ministers; and presidents… and dictators. I meet them all,” Trump said from the tribune of the prestigious Economic Club of New York, making the high-profile guests laugh.

“Anybody, who want to come in. Dictators? It’s OK. Come on in. Whatever is good for the US. We want to help our people,” he continued after a small pause.

Trump’s words were a clear jab at his critics, who have accused him of meeting with “dictators” over his talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

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All those world leaders are flying to America to meet up with him because “they want to be where the action is. This is where the action is. There’s nobody close. There’s no country close,” the president explained.

And when they arrive, “the first thing they’ll say will be almost always: ‘Congratulations on your economy,”’ he said.

Trump spent more than an hour on stage, praising the success of the US economy under his rule, including low unemployment, growing wages and high consumer confidence.

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French police close beaches & set up patrols as cocaine packages keep washing ashore

Beaches in south west France have been closed as blocks of high-quality cocaine continue to wash ashore prompting a major police operation to retrieve the powdery packages before the opportunistic public snaps them up.

The packages, some of which are labeled ‘diamante’ or ‘brilliante’, have been washing up on French beaches since the end of October and tests have shown they contain 80-90 percent pure cocaine.

This has naturally prompted intense interest from the public, forcing police to close beaches and set up patrols to watch for anyone eager to get their hands on the drugs worth millions in estimated street value. 

Police have been stopping local walkers for searches, checking cars in beach parking lots and even using a helicopter patrol on the 125km stretch between Cap Ferret and Soulac-sur-Mer, AFP reported.

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FILE PHOTO:  Beach and coast at Plage des Chênes Lièges, Département Landes, Atlantic Coast, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, France, Europe © Global Look Press / Bildverlag Bahnmüller
150kg of ‘diamond’ cocaine washes up on French beaches, locals urged against ‘treasure hunting’

A 17-year-old was caught with 5kg of cocaine at a beach near Bordeaux on Monday. The enterprising youth, French media reported, had traveled all the way from Toulouse, three hours away.

Police sources cited by Le Parisien said new packages are showing up every hour — and so far, more than 872 kilos (1,972 pounds) of the white stuff has been found, a prosecutor in the city of Rennes told AFP.

Officials have also warned the public that the product could be very dangerous due to its high purity and said that it would be easy to overdose.

It's not clear yet why the drugs are washing up on the beaches, but authorities are assuming for now that they were en route from South America and very likely dropped from a vessel during a storm. 

Whatever the origins, police said they are expecting the packages to continue showing up “for a while.”

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Protests in Hong Kong have reached new heights of violence, with bomb-throwing rioters seizing control of university campuses and pushing out police while authorities admit that the riot-ravaged city hangs by a thread.

Demonstrators armed to the teeth with molotov cocktails, javelins, and (in one case, at least) a chainsaw have seized control of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), pushing riot police off the campus on Tuesday night and leaving a shocking amount of destruction in their wake.

Videos and photos posted to social media show the rioters fortifying their position with barricades and setting “huge” fires on the campus. Classes were unsurprisingly canceled at CUHK and other universities around the city, some of which also played host to clashes between the demonstrators – still dubbed ‘pro-democracy activists’ in the media despite the increasing levels of violence on display – and police. On at least one campus, rioters stole sporting equipment including javelins and shot puts and weaponized them.

An attempt at negotiations between the CUHK president and police failed, though reports of why this happened varied depending on the source.

While many who support the protesters framed the clashes as police entering university campuses unprovoked to terrorize innocent students, or claimed police are not allowed to enter universities, Hong Kong Chief Superintendent Kelvin Kong Wing-cheung said they were merely pursuing violent rioters who had already thrown bricks and molotovs at police. 

Over the past two days, our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Rumors swirled on social media that the police were targeting CUHK specifically because it was the site of Hong Kong’s internet exchange, but this was not confirmed.

The destruction was not limited to college campuses – a number of metro stations were forced to close after being attacked by rioters, and demonstrators battled police all over the city, wielding weapons from bricks pried from the road to multiple catapults reported near the city center. Rioters were seen in TV footage dropping large objects from overpasses and nearly hitting drivers below. 

Even mainstream media, typically sympathetic to the protesters, has taken note of the increase in violence, unable to ignore footage of a violent “pro-democracy” mob setting a man on fire after dousing him in petrol. Another protester was shot, allegedly after trying to grab a policeman’s gun.

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An anti-government protester sets fire outside Mong Kok Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station during a protest, in Hong Kong, China, October 20, 2019. © REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
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The National Interest magazine claimed that a potential sale of US nuclear subs to allies may become a “nightmare” for Russia and China. Military analysts told RT there could be a fallout but a grim prospect is an exaggeration.

The executive editor of the Washington-based outlet, Harry J. Kazianis, recently published an article revealing what would become “China and Russia's worst nightmare.” In the piece, he floated the idea of selling or leasing 10 or 12 Virginia-Class attack subs to Australia and other allies into the minds of the decision makers in the Pentagon.

Kazianis wrote that such a move will allow Washington to reduce the impact of “China’s massive naval build-up,” while also rendering Beijing’s anti-access/area-denial networks in the Pacific obsolete.

Chinese nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine. © Reuters

Curiously enough, Russia only appeared in the headline as an attention grabber and was never mentioned in the article again. It’s also worth noting that none of the US military representatives have so far publicly mentioned selling the high-tech weapon to a foreign nation.

Russian military analysts had a bone to pick with such a possibility as well. If the scenario described in the National Interest is ever realized, it will, of course, significantly change the balance of power in favor of the West in the Asia-Pacific, “but to say that this would be some kind of disaster for China is a great exaggeration,” Mikhail Khodarenok, retired air defense forces colonel and RT’s military analyst, said.

The Chinese Navy is being built-up at such an impressive Bolshevik-style pace that it’ll become the strongest sea power not only in the Pacific, but in the whole world in the foreseeable future. You won’t scare the Chinese with 10 or 12 boats – it will only set them in a competitive mode.

Beijing would have to revise its shipbuilding programs and speed up the work at the shipyards to meet the new challenge, but the country has “everything to achieve this,” he assured.

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The Americans parting with a whole dozen of its newest nuclear-powered subs is also questionable as “it’ll seriously weaken the US Navy. In fact, this means cutting their [Virginia-class fleet] by one-third,” Khodarenok pointed out.

If Australia somehow gets the subs it won’t be a big thing for Russia due to purely geographical reasons, Vladimir Batyuk, senior research fellow with the Institute of USA and Canada, said. The distance separating the two countries is 10,000km, after all.

“I haven’t heard about any of Australia’s plans to carry out naval operations near Russian waters. It could become a problem for China, but not Russia.”

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Besides Australia, Batyuk said he couldn’t think of any other countries, located near Russian borders, that could purchase or even rent the American boats.

“Closest US allies from NATO don’t spend much on defense; and it had already sparked some discord within the block. Those meeting the 2-percent GDP target [set by Donald Trump] are Poland and Estonia. It is unlikely that they could find enough money to get a nuclear-powered submarine,” he argued.

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Bolivia’s ousted socialist president, Evo Morales, has credited Mexico with saving his life, after the country offered him political asylum following his resignation from government.

"I am very grateful to the president and the Mexican people, because he saved my life,” Morales said on Tuesday, after he arrived in Mexico City to claim political asylum. Unaccounted for in recent days, Morales decried the “coup” against him, and recounted how a member of his once-loyal military was offered $50,000 to turn him in to the opposition on Sunday.

Morales was re-elected to the presidency in October, in an election result that opposition leaders called fraudulent. Though he offered to hold fresh elections, protests continued and Morales stepped down on Sunday following a police and military mutiny.

Nevertheless, the socialist leader – who presided over Bolivia through a period of relative stability and economic growth – vowed to remain politically active in exile.

“As long as I have life, we continue in politics, the struggle continues, and we are sure that the people have every right to free themselves,” he told reporters in Mexico. Prior to his departure, Morales promised his supporters that he would “return with more strength and energy.”

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Former President Evo Morales is welcomed by Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico. © REUTERS/Luis Cortes
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One of Latin America’s last remaining leftist heads of state, Morales received an offer of asylum from Mexico’s socialist government on Monday. Aside from the Mexicans, Morales’ allies in the region had been whittled down in recent years, with only Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Cuban leader Miguel Diaz-Canel, and Argentinian President-elect Allberto Fernandez sharing his ideology.

Clashes between the left and right have persisted in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, as nobody has yet stepped in to fill the power vacuum left by Morales’ departure.

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Wait, what? Campus newspaper apologizes for DOING JOURNALISM, calls protest coverage ‘retraumatizing and invasive’

A US college newspaper has apologized for photographing and talking to protesters who picketed a speech by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The paper claims that standard journalistic practice hurt their feelings.

Sessions was invited to Northwestern University last week by the College Republicans. Northwestern being an American campus, protesters turned out to heckle Sessions, in particular for his role in implementing President Donald Trump’s administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies last year.

The social justice crowd booing a Republican is nothing new, but the college newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, reported the event dutifully, photographing the protests and texting demonstrators for comment. All standard journalistic practice.

But in the age of ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings,’ basic journalism school techniques are apparently too much. After some of its reporters shared photos of the protests (as the First Amendment entitles them to do), the paper abruptly pulled the photos on Sunday and issued an apology.

The photos, it said, were “retraumatizing and invasive.” Texting protesters for comment was an “invasion of privacy.” In eight paragraphs of social-justice twaddle, the letter praised the protesters “who identify with marginalized groups” and go through “distressing experiences on campus” - like choosing to protest a lecture by a Republican.

The letter, signed by editor-in-chief Troy Closson, paid lip service to the newspaper’s mission to “document history and spread information,” but staff ultimately decided that “nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe.” The supposed danger faced by the protesters was not described, save that the university could “directly hurt” them in some way. After all, they were students publicly demonstrating in a university, not dissidents in a dictatorship meeting with the press.

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Nevertheless, the Daily Northwestern pleaded for forgiveness, imploring readers to help “rebuild trust that we weakened or lost last week.”

To some professional journalists, the Daily Northwestern’s decision to abandon journalism for feelings was a bridge too far. “Being a journalist requires empathy,” the Chicago Tribune’s Gregory Pratt tweeted, “but this piece ain’t it.”

“How is it possible that a newspaper at what is allegedly a top journalism school would apologize for the basics of reporting?” asked the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler. “This is a travesty and an embarrassment.”

The Daily Northwestern is not the first campus newspaper to voluntarily censor itself in the face of uber-liberal backlash. Appalachian State University’s paper apologized for publishing an op-ed criticizing the social justice movement’s obsession with redressing historical injustices. Enraged students had called the piece “thinly veiled white supremacist rhetoric.”

Newspapers that don’t bend to the outrage mob have found themselves targeted too. Last year, stacks of a satirical conservative newspaper at South Carolina’s Clemson University were torn to shreds for making fun of the diversity movement, while last month at Harvard, a pro-immigration group lobbied and petitioned the student paper against contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for comment on immigration stories.

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‘Bird of the Year’ flap: More Russian meddling in wildlife contest?

New Zealand is home to over 200 bird species and most of them are unique to the north and south islands where they have lived for millions of years. But while the Dodo might be dead, modern day drama and meddling certainly isn’t.

With many of New Zealand’s native birds in crisis, leading independent conservation organization Forest & Bird started up a yearly ‘Bird of the Year’ competition in order to raise awareness of native bird life. But instead of an increase in bird-watching or perhaps more money towards conservation – political turmoil unraveled. The reason? Suspicious votes from abroad, and a fair few from that sinister country RUSSIA!

Megan Hubscher, a spokesperson for Forest & Bird, is concerned: “People are coming up with all kinds of theories about Russian involvement in New Zealand elections. But we can assure everyone that everything seems above board this time around.”

But this seemingly innocent competition attracts controversy. Over the past 14 years, various voting scandals have caused a flap. Last year, a large black-and-white cormorant bird gained hundreds of suspicious votes – perhaps because of its common name: ‘the shag’! (Yes you laughed)

In 2017, vote-fixing claims came flooding in after 112 new email accounts had been set up to cast votes for a certain bird, and two years previously, two teenagers were caught setting up fake accounts to vote for the delightful kokako. Whoever thought political bird-fighting was such a thing?

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Fast forward to 2019, and Forest & Bird is responding with Pentagon-level protection in response to hacking and fake voting. Results this week saw ballots from almost 100 countries, with hundreds of votes from nearby Australia (684), America (563), the UK (682) and, of course… Russia (with 335 votes, obviously from Kremlin spies. Thank you very much, and spasibo).

The winner of this year’s competition was announced as the penguin known as the ‘hoiho’. This endangered, yellow-eyed penguin is said to be the rarest in the world. But was this a fix or a genuine win? What can you believe these days? One Twitter bird lover wasn’t so sure: “Is there no election they (Russia) won’t meddle in?”

Forest & Bird says there is nothing to suggest a Russian hacking scandal, but mainstream and social media may hint otherwise.

Megan Hubscher added that New Zealand’s unique birds fascinate fans from all around the world and that maybe that was the reason for the Russian votes?

“We’ve had a look at the IP addresses and done a data scan on all of the votes, and it looks pretty clean from our point of view. The competition is open to anyone – people from Britain or Australia or Russia [who] want to get in on the action, they’re more than welcome to. New Zealand actually shares birds with Russia. We have the bar-tailed godwit that makes an annual round trip.”

But while the speculation might have been tongue-in-cheek, the constant Russia-bashing and finger-pointing is enough to drive anyone cuckoo. Maybe now Russia is just always the guilty party? It certainly seems so, as this week’s turn focuses on the criminally magic world of penguins, owls, and birds.

As for the Bird of the Year contest results, with votes cast from far flung places such as St Lucia to the Maldives, it seems we are just all bird lovers!

As for New Zealand’s beloved Dodo… I suppose Russia made that extinct as well?

By Martyn Andrews, RT senior culture editor

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Former Bolivian President Evo Morales has landed safely in Mexico, but his journey to political asylum had twists and turns as neighboring states reacted to the ongoing turmoil back home.

After landing in the North American country Morales said that Mexico saved his life and vowed to continue in politics as long as he is alive. He also told reporters that his home in Bolivia has been ransacked along with his sister’s house.

The Mexican Air Force aircraft ferrying Morales to safety made a stop in Paraguay to refuel on Tuesday, after reportedly being denied permission to land in Peru. The plane had been allowed to refuel in Peru on its way to fetch Morales, suggesting that the Peruvian government had a change of heart due to the aircraft’s political cargo.

Morales waves during his arrival to take asylum in Mexico, in Mexico City. © REUTERS/Luis Cortes

Initial reports claimed that Chile and Brazil had refused to allow Morales’ aircraft to pass over their airspace, but flight tracking enthusiasts noted that the plane was allowed to fly across Brazil on its way to Mexico.

Also, Mexico’s foreign minister said that another country which denied permission for the plane to land and refuel, and also fly over its airspace was Ecuador.

Despite the setbacks, Morales appears to be upbeat. One photograph shows him holding up a Mexican flag on board the plane delivering him to political asylum, while another photo is of Morales waving to the camera as he prepares to leave Paraguay for his final destination.

Mexico’s foreign ministry said it had decided to take in Morales for humanitarian reasons. According to Foreign Minister Marcelko Ebrard, Morales’ “life and physical integrity” were at risk in his home country. Bolivian opposition leaders had claimed that police and the military were looking to capture the former president – but the country’s police chief later dismissed these reports.

It’s believed that several Bolivian officials, including former Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and Senate President Adriana Salvatierra, may also have traveled with Morales – but the Mexican government has declined to comment on these reports.

Morales said in a tweet announcing his departure that he was grateful to the Mexican government and its people for granting him asylum to “defend our lives” – and that he would soon return to Bolivia.

It hurts to leave the country for political reasons, but I will remain vigilant. Soon I will return with greater strength and energy.

Morales resigned on Sunday after leading Bolivia for more than a decade, following what many have described as a military coup in the country. The Bolivian president had called for fresh elections as a way to avoid conflict over accusations of fraud stemming from a close presidential race in October. However, the announcement did not placate the opposition, which took to the streets to demand his immediate resignation. Shortly after, Bolivia’s military chief called on Morales to step down.

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Competition for Moscow? UK election meddling accusations spread from Russia, to India…to Hillary

If you believe the daily reports, Britain’s ongoing election campaign is facing more interference than an old analogue television during a rainstorm, and amazingly, it’s not just Russians being accused of being behind it.

A sense of old world grandeur is easily inflated by convincing yourself that you’re so important that the whole world wants to swing your election.

Of course, it is still mainly Russia which stands accused in Britain, because that is just the easiest option available, but now there are also indications of supposed Indian meddling going on, and an election wouldn’t be an election if the US wasn’t throwing in its two pennies as well.

Representing the old US of A this morning on the BBC was one Hillary Rodham Clinton. I know she isn’t an official representative of Washington, but I’m not sure she does, so her input is significant, especially as the old glutton for punishment has been hinting she might take another tilt at the White House.

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But first to those Indians. It’s been recently reported that a UK support group for the BJP, India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party, has been campaigning for the Conservative party in 48 marginal seats. It’s also claimed that Whatsapp messages have been sent to Hindus in Britain suggesting they shouldn’t vote for “anti-India” Labour.  

The response to these allegations has been…well, there hasn’t really been a proper one so far. If this had been reported about, I don’t know, say, the Russian community, there would be a diplomatic incident, but this involved Indians so we can assume the response will be slightly more considered. Being a good ally buys you a lot of leeway in the old election meddling game.

The Guardian went to speak to a community of Hindus, the majority of which rejected the idea that they would let outside forces influence their vote. One Labour MP has been quoted as saying Hindus would never be swayed by this kind of outside interference.

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(R) © Global Look Press / Alexander Pohl; (L) Global Look Press / DPA / Waltraud Grubitzsch
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Clinton, however, seems to believe that people are far more open to influence if it’s Russian. On the BBC’s flagship morning programme Today on Tuesday, she called for a delayed report into alleged Russian interference in Britain to be released ahead of polling day and for everyone in the country to read it. One can only assume she thinks the report could have some kind of influence on the outcome, which would make that meddling, wouldn’t it?

In the words of one Nigel Farage, “the Russian conspiracy never dies with Hillary.”

It would be remiss not to finish with the latest allegation against Russia, and here it is. No sooner had the Labour party announced that it had suffered a cyber attack on its online operations than those trusty old unnamed sources were wheeled out in the media to throw accusations in Moscow’s direction.

This will be confusing to a lot of people who were under the impression that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was a fully paid up Russian stooge, which would make his party a strange target for Moscow. Still, the strangeness of an accusation doesn’t usually much matter in these circumstances.

By Simon Rite, senior writer at RT

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Yesterday's 'double champ': 3 yrs on from Conor McGregor's signature victory, it remains his most recent win

It's three years since Conor McGregor recorded his signature victory over Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight championship. It’s also his most recent win. ‘The Notorious’ should be careful to avoid becoming yesterday's man.

Two belts. Two weight classes. One brash, trash-talking Irishman. Three years ago. Conor McGregor backed up his furiously fast tongue when he KO’d Eddie Alvarez on November 12, 2016, to become the UFC's lightweight champion while simultaneously holding the featherweight championship.

The Notorious’ most glorious night in the octagon came when he dispatched Eddie Alvarez in the second round of a fight few picked him to win in the UFC 205 main event at Madison Square Garden. 

After the fight, history-maker McGregor strutted around center stage like a proud peacock, his two belts wrapped around a Irish tricolor across his chest akin to feathers, and then took the time to address the crowd.

“I’d like to take this chance to absolutely nobody. The double champ does what the fuck he wants!” McGregor bellowed down the mic, referring to having ruffled other figurative feathers of fellow fighters on the roster.

Getty Images / Jeff Bottari

The brazen words of McGregor that night seem now a distant memory. The victory remains his most recent win. His titles have since been stripped due to inactivity, and his status in the sport has dipped considerably. 

In the intervening years, McGregor underwent a forced hiatus from the sport which he had, through unrelenting self-promotion and meteoric rise through the division never before seen by the organization, conquered.

READ MORE: Move over McNugget & McChicken - Dublin pub ditches Conor McGregor-named pizza as he’s ‘not a good person’

He made the crossover to boxing to provide Floyd Mayweather Jr. a simple 50th straight victory and in doing so become one of the richest sportsmen on the planet. The cash came at its own price, though, as he clocked up his second-straight loss and third in five fights since his shock loss to Nate Diaz.

The indestructible image of the McGregor bandwagon had began to wane since he seared through the featherweight division with seven straight UFC victories. 


Although it was profitable, McGregor’s flirtation with boxing was only ever meant to be ephemeral and his return to the octagon was confirmed for October 2018. Ironically, the homecoming of the biggest name ever to grace the sport was to become the crowning moment for another UFC superstar in the making.

Dagestani Eagle Khabib Nurmagomedov had been eager to soar the same heights enjoyed by Dublin’s most charismatic export of the new millennium, and had bode his time until he could use the McGregor name to hoist his own into the sporting stratosphere.

Khabib would become a McGregor nemesis in the lead-up to and long after his fourth-round submission victory in Las Vegas, sealed with a vault over the octagon to instigate a brawl in the crowd. Moments prior he had made the leap from unbeaten and unsung UFC hardcore hero to mixed martial arts phenom.

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Nurmagomedov would go on to defend the belt against Dustin Poirier in September, and is currently in talks to face Tony Ferguson in March or April 2020, whom he has already been scheduled to face four times, each time being canceled due to injury from either party a couple of times apiece. 

To Khabib’s credit, his victories, demeanor and mannerisms have seen him become something of a national sporting icon for many, and one of the most recognizable and respected faces in the organization. He is one of the few fighters to have made the crossover from cult viewing figure wearing a funny hat and uttering deadpan one-liners in broken English to undeniable top-ranked fighter, with a no. 2 pound-for-pound ranking to boot.

His handing McGregor his third straight defeat caused the Dubliner’s stock to suffer a plummet past any level even his mercurial skills as a self-promoter could salvage, in the absence of any recent win in the octagon.

Getty / Anadolu Agency

In McGregor's own words, "I worked hard my last two fights. No doubt. But without consistency, I fell short," and that is far from an understatement.

In the meantime, misdemeanors outside the octagon have contributed to his public image becoming at first a caricature of his bad boy brashness, and then a tired illustration of a man acting out to perhaps stay relevant. 

Adverts with Burger King and betting companies twinned with business endeavors that included whiskey and fine clothing occupied McGregor’s free time that he could have spent treading the same path as Khabib in an ascent to stardom.

Three years since his last win in any fighting arena is increasingly becoming not a yardstick of McGregor’s success, but a distant memory of past glories and a marker of how far his star has fallen. 

His comeback plans were recently outlined as a January 18 fight against likely either Justin Gaethje or Donald Cerrone, then perhaps Jorge Masvidal before a possible rematch in Russia with Khabib, but seem big talk for a former high roller reduced to making outlandish plans and predictions for want of evidence in the octagon.

If McGregor is to stop his descent into being yesterday’s champ, he must return to winning ways to recapture the heady heights of three years ago. 


French President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders have called for greater international cooperation to ease the world’s tensions at a forum in Paris that was notable for the absence of the US, AP reports.

Some 30 heads of state or government, high-level officials from other countries and the leaders of 10 international organizations on Tuesday joined hundreds of activists, entrepreneurs and others at the Paris Peace Forum. The US did not send a government official to the event.

In his opening speech, Macron advocated for multilateralism and a “balanced cooperation” between the nations. In an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, Macron said that the temptation of unilateralism is “very risky.”

“We tried that option in the past: it leads to war,” Macron said. “Nationalism is war.” Climate change, demographic issues, migration, conflicts, terrorism and the fight against poverty were among topics at the forum, which runs through Wednesday.


French riot police join Catalan cops harshly DRAGGING independence protesters blocking border crossing (VIDEO)

Catalan independence protesters who blocked a border crossing with France were routed – in some cases physically dragged away – by French riot police working with Catalan police, just a day into a planned three-day protest.

Hundreds of heavily-armored French riot cops descended on La Jonquera border crossing on Tuesday, arresting 18 protesters and reportedly using pepper spray and tear gas to disperse scores more manning a large roadblock spanning both sides of the normally-busy highway. The Catalan autonomous police (Mosses d’Esquadra) have also arrested at least one protester, reportedly for attacking a law enforcement officer.

Video of the police breaking up the protest shows French gendarmes and Catalan autonomous police literally dragging demonstrators away from the barricade, while reports from Figaro and Vanguardia suggest more violent methods were used to disperse protesters who insist theirs was an act of “peaceful civil disobedience.”

Catalan independence group Democratic Tsunami had erected a barricade across both sides of highway A7 on Monday with the aim of forcing the international community to pressure Spain into negotiating with pro-independence Catalans and releasing nine pro-independence politicians who received harsh sentences last month. In addition to the usual barricade materials – cars, concrete barriers, traffic cones – the protesters set up a stage and were serenaded by several musical acts. The barricade was supposed to remain in place for three days.

The protest was announced last week, set for after Sunday’s elections, regardless of the outcome. The vote saw neither Left nor Right gain enough seats for a majority, though the Vox party – which categorically opposes Catalonian independence – doubled its representation in parliament.
Catalan leader Quim Torra asked police to handle the protesters “with exquisite care, so that no one gets hurt” in an interview on Catalunya Radio, suggesting there was no need to charge them with any crime.

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Catalan independence protests have been raging since the independence leaders were sentenced last month, but Democratic Tsunami was reportedly in the works even before that, launching in September. The group, which purports to be leaderless, has claimed responsibility for major protest actions in Barcelona like an airport occupation accomplished with the help of fake plane tickets sent to group members.

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As southeastern Australian is ravaged by dozens of wildfires, a nine-year-old boy has admitted to using a blowtorch to start another blaze in the state of New South Wales.

At least three people have died and more than 170 homes have been destroyed by over 70 infernos that are raging in the state. The army is expected to be deployed in one of Australia’s largest ever peacetime military mobilizations in an effort to tackle the crisis. 

A combination of high temperatures and strong winds may exacerbate the already dire situation as the greater Sydney area has been issued with its first ever "catastrophic" level fire warning.

“Catastrophic is off the conventional scale,” the commissioner of the New South Wales rural fire services, Shane Fitzsimmons, explained. “It’s where people die.”

© Global Look Press/Bai Xuefei/Xinhua

Local fire crews rushed to fight the fire started by the nine-year-old in Worrigee, south of Wollongong. Police interviewed a group of children and the boy in question subsequently admitted to arson. Because of his young age he was only issued with a warning.

At least nine fires are burning at emergency warning level between North Sydney and the Queensland border while some 70 are currently plaguing the New South Wales region. Authorities in Queensland say another 50 fires are burning across the state.

© Global Look Press/Bai Xuefei/Xinhua

Meanwhile, a 27-year-old man was issued with an on-the-spot $2,200 for allegedly starting a small campfire west of Sydney and a 35 and 46-year old man were each accused of starting two separate fires by using their barbecues. There are also suspicions a fire in the northern Sydney suburb of Turramurra may have been started deliberately.

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‘Freak accident’: 20-year-old US college gymnast dies of spinal injuries after training fall

US college gymnast Melanie Coleman has tragically died after suffering a spinal cord injury during training while practicing on the uneven bars.

The 20-year-old gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University was polishing her uneven bars routine at the New Era Gymnastics facility in Hamden on Friday, where her team trains once a week, when the tragic accident occurred.

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She suddenly fell off the bar, seriously damaging her spinal cord. The gymnast was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital, where she died two days later.

"We are heartbroken and stunned by Melanie's passing," Coleman’s coach Mary Fredericks said. "She was an incredibly hard worker and a sweet-spirited young woman. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to her family at this time. The SCSU Gymnastics team will miss her greatly though she will always be with us."

Her coaches and professors describe Melanie as a special young woman, who excelled both in the classroom and in the gym,” Joe Bertolino, said the university’s president, expressing his condolences. “Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends on this tragic loss.”

The gymnast was pursuing a degree in nursing from Southern Connecticut and was named an All-America Scholar-Athlete by USA Gymnastics last year.

Coleman’s family set up a GoFundMe page following the tragedy, describing the heart-breaking accident as "tragic and freak."