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Trump says he ‘wouldn’t mind’ long impeachment process, calls House-passed articles a ‘sham’

Fri, 2019-12-13 16:59

President Donald Trump has called the approval of impeachment articles against him a “sham” and “a hoax,” and accused Democrats of “trivializing impeachment.”

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday, Trump said that he “wouldn’t mind” a drawn-out impeachment process, and would like to see the whistleblower whose complaint against him kickstarted the proceedings.

“I’ll do whatever I want...we did nothing wrong, so I’ll do long or short,” Trump said. “I’d like to see the whistleblower, who is a fraud.”

Trump says Democrats are trivializing impeachment.

— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) December 13, 2019

“By the way, where’s the second whistleblower?” Trump added, citing “corrupt media” reports that a second official had emerged with evidence of his wrongdoing. “We’re dealing with a lot of very corrupt people.”

Though Trump has for months raged at the Democrats attempting to impeach him, his latest statement came immediately after the Democrat-controlled committee voted along party lines to approve two articles of impeachment against him, charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

To use the power of impeachment for this nonsense, it’s an embarrassment to the country.

“The people are disgusted by the vote,” the president added, before warning that impeachment could one day be turned on its current proponents, were a Democrat to take power and a Republican-controlled House remember the Democrats’ example.

The articles will now advance to a full House debate and vote, reportedly next week. If Democrats secure a simple majority, Trump will face a Senate trial. However, with the upper house in the hands of the Republicans, it is highly unlikely that a two-thirds majority will vote to convict and oust him.

Also on Trump impeachment articles approved by House Judiciary Committee in party-line vote

A Senate trial will allow Trump to call his own witnesses, which was denied to the House Republicans during the impeachment hearings to date.

Trump has derided the efforts against him as a Democrat-led “witch hunt,” and again on Friday called the supposedly improper phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “perfect.” Democrats allege that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in exchange for Zelensky reopening a corruption investigation into Hunter Biden and his business dealings in the country. 

Hunter is the son of Joe Biden, former vice president to Barack Obama and current candidate for the Democrat presidential nomination, which has been used to argue that investigating him amounts to “foreign interference” in the 2020 election.

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Categories: Media

UFC 245: Usman vs Covington – Recap the weigh-ins as all three title fights are confirmed for Las Vegas spectacular (VIDEO)

Fri, 2019-12-13 16:45

All six title fighters successfully weighed in ahead of their respective world championship bouts at UFC 245 in Las Vegas. Recap the official early-morning weigh-ins via our live stream replay.

The main event sees a grudge match for the UFC welterweight title, as defending 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman takes on trash-talking former interim champ Colby Covington, while reigning featherweight champ Max Holloway puts his 145-pound title on the line against surging Australian contender Alexander Volkanovski.

Also on UFC 245: Colby Covington targets Georges St-Pierre, Khabib Nurmagomedov and WWE after capturing UFC welterweight title (VIDEO)

And the third title fight of the night sees two-division women's world champion Amanda Nunes take on former UFC women's featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie for the UFC women's bantamweight title.

The fight card is packed with crowd-pleasing matchups, including a potential world title eliminator at bantamweight, as Russia's rising star Petr "No Mercy" Yan takes on former WEC champion and MMA legend, "The California Kid" Urijah Faber.

Also on UFC 245: Petr Yan says he'll knock out legend Urijah Faber in bantamweight contender clash (VIDEO)

But before they throw down inside the octagon, the fighters faced their final fight before the fight, as they stepped onto the scale to make weight for their respective matchups.

Watch the fighters take to the scale ahead of this weekend's fights via our live stream replay above.

Categories: Media

‘Taking the flag away from clean athletes is not right’: World champ fencer Yakimenko on WADA ban

Fri, 2019-12-13 16:44

Prominent Russian sabre fencer Alexey Yakimenko has commented on the recent four-year ban imposed on Russia, saying it’s not fair to prohibit clean athletes from competing under the national flag.

In an interview with RT, the eight-time world champion talked about the option of performing as a neutral athlete at major sporting events and suggested introducing criminal responsibility for taking performing enhancing drugs in order to root out doping in the country.

READ MORE: US athletes plan protests against Russian participants at 2020 Tokyo Games

The Olympic bronze medalist said the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) decision to ban Russia from international sporting events contradicts the Olympic charter, where it is strongly indicated that Olympic participants represent their countries.

WADA’s decision clearly contradicts the Olympic charter,” Yakimenko told RT. “I truly believe that clean athletes should go to the Olympics having their flag, anthem and uniform to represent their country… I have been tested four times over the past month. Doping officials visited me and other Russian fencers four times. My wife jokes that we should open a doping laboratory at home.”

Also on WADA's Russia ban contradicts Olympics charter, Russia has every reason to appeal – Putin

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has not been accused of anything. So [ROC President Stanislav] Pozdnyakov was right that the decision should not contradict the Olympic charter. If you know that an athlete has never violated the doping rules, they should represent their country with a tricolor flag and national anthem. Taking the flag away from clean athletes is not right,” he added.

The fencer noted, however, that he was not surprised by the WADA ban, taking into account the fact that Russia was already stripped of its national symbols at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

I expected that our country will have troubles. It all started in 2016, when our athletes didn’t know till the last moment whether they will take part in the Rio Olympics,” Yakimenko said.

I do remember that one day before flying to Brazil, I was reading the news while waiting for the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). So, all these issues have existed for several years, and the recent decision was not a surprise for me given that our national symbols were banned at the 2018 Winter Games.”

Also on ‘We'll do everything in our power for atheletes to compete under the national flag’ – Russian Olympic Committee head

When asked whether Russian athletes should boycott the Olympic Games if the ROC fails to overturn the WADA ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the 36-year-old said that he would have taken part in the Games even under neutral status.

I don’t think there can be a unique answer to the question whether to participate in the Olympics without a flag or not. Remember the splendid victory of our hockey players at the 2018 Games. They performed as Olympic Athletes from Russia, but they were singing the national anthem following their tremendous win. And everybody knew quite well which country they represented,” Yakimenko told RT.

Of course there are patriots who will refuse to compete without the national flag. But in my point of view, we should participate in the Olympic Games. Olympics are the Everest for an alpinist, but I cannot condemn those who refuse to take part without the flag and anthem,” he said.

Yakimenko also came up with an initiative to introduce criminal responsibility for taking prohibited drugs as a step to completely eradicate doping and protect clean athletes.

Also on ‘Rodchenkov’s data is illegal, how can you take it as authentic?’ – Russian Sports Minister

I’m absolutely convinced that people who are guilty must be found and punished. Clean athletes representing sports such as fencing, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming, where doping is irrelevant, should not suffer because of the mistakes of other people. Our sport bosses, our president should find and punish people responsible for the scandal,” Yakimenko said.

Honestly, I would offer measures such as criminal responsibility, in order to eradicate doping. In that case, we would have less doping cases. I do remember a case in Italy, in which an athlete accidentally took the wrong pill to cure the flu, and he was forced to leave the country to escape criminal charges. Yes, these are harsh measures, but they should be taken into account if administrative actions don’t work.”

Categories: Media

China says US to remove tariffs ‘phase by phase’ as it cancels tax hikes on American goods

Fri, 2019-12-13 16:28

Beijing has said that the United States will roll back tariffs on Chinese goods “phase by phase,” and that the Chinese government will cancel its own impending tariffs on American goods, as a trade deal draws nearer.

Tariffs on US goods due to take effect on Sunday have been cancelled, China’s Vice Finance Minister Liao Min told a press conference on Friday. The two nations have also reached an agreement to crack down on counterfeit goods and intellectual property theft, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen added. 

Also on Trump says ‘very large Phase One Deal’ with China agreed

China would import more US wheat, corn, and other agricultural products under the new trade agreement, Vice Agricultural Minister Qu Dongyu said, reassuring media that these imports would not create “shocks” to Chinese agriculture.

While Trump declared negotiations for phase two of the trade deal will begin “immediately,” Chinese authorities cautioned that negotiations for the second stage will depend on how phase one is implemented. Both parties are still discussing when and where to sign the initial phase of the deal.

The tariff rollback was announced a day after Trump administration sources hinted that a phase one trade deal between the two countries had been reached in principle and Trump himself gushed that a “BIG DEAL” was waiting in the wings.

Also on US stocks rise on Trump’s tweets & rumors of China trade deal reached ‘in principle’

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Categories: Media

‘Let the healing begin’: BoJo sings UK unity & says NHS will be top priority after Tory landslide

Fri, 2019-12-13 16:12

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited voters of all stripes to “let the healing begin” after emerging victorious from a divisive election campaign and assured Britons that he knew the NHS was their biggest priority.

Speaking outside No. 10 Downing Street on Friday afternoon, Johnson hailed the election results as a “moment of national resolution.” He thanked voters “whose pencils may have wavered over the ballot” and said he would work “round the clock” to deliver on his promises.

READ MORE: Conservatives gain enough seats for outright majority in UK Parliament

The speech was surprisingly low on Brexit talk, a noticeable shift for Johnson who has spent weeks hammering home his election mantra of "get Brexit done."

Johnson said he had witnessed over five weeks of electioneering that the “overwhelming priority of the British people now, is that we should focus above all on the NHS.”

Indeed, many would likely have expected that sentence to end with the word ‘Brexit’ — but the PM’s focus on the NHS was a nod to recent scandals, including one sparked by a photograph of a four-year-old boy forced to sleep on a Leeds hospital floor in a pile of coats while waiting for a bed. 

Outrage was also sparked after the Labour Party unearthed secret government documents which allegedly show that Johnson was willing to put the National Health Service “up for sale” in a trade deal with the US.

The exuberant PM promised 50,000 more nurses and 40 new hospitals, as well as “better schools,” “safer streets,” and “better infrastructure and technology.”

Also on ‘Disappointed’ Corbyn vows to lead Labour party through ‘process of reflection’ but not into next election

In his short speech, Johnson also addressed those who did not vote for the Conservative Party and who still want Britain to remain part of the EU. He said his government “will never ignore your good and positive feelings of warmth and sympathy towards the other nations of Europe.”

Those feelings, he added, will find “renewed expression” in the coming years as the UK builds a new partnership with Europe.

READ MORE: British stocks soar, pound jumps to 19-month high as Tory win moves UK closer to BREXIT

Johnson said the country now “deserves a break” from wrangling and politics and urged people to enjoy their Christmas preparations, promising that 2020 will be a year of “prosperity and hope.”

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Categories: Media

ICYMI: The Afghanistan papers: All is not well in America’s longest ever war (VIDEO)

Fri, 2019-12-13 16:04

The Washington Post published a trove of government documents which proved what most of us suspected already – the war in Afghanistan isn’t going very well.

Among the gems to be revealed in the papers is a three-star general admitting that the US military in Afghanistan doesn’t really know what it’s doing, and another marine adviser who said colorful charts were all that was needed to hide ineptitude on a grand scale.

ICYMI delves into the Afghanistan papers.

For more, follow #ICYMI on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Categories: Media

US Treasury excludes 3 Russian companies from its sanctions list

Fri, 2019-12-13 15:59

The US Department of the Treasury has excluded three Russian companies from its sanctions list. The sanctions were lifted from companies Yunikom, Vertikal and TSAO (Tsentr Avtoobsluzhivaniya), according to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Restrictive measures were imposed on December 5. The US officials then said that the three companies were linked to Denis Gusev, and the agency alleged that he had helped hackers conduct financial operations.

Gusev, the owner of Yunikom and Vertikal, said that he had nothing to do with Evil Corp, adding that sanctions could have been imposed against his companies by accident, Vedomosti daily reported.

The owner of TSAO, Aleksandr Lelekov, also said he initially took the sanctions as a spoof.

Categories: Media

Trump says ‘very large Phase One Deal’ with China agreed

Fri, 2019-12-13 15:32

The United States and China have reached a “very large” trade deal, President Donald Trump has announced. The accord will see China step up its imports of American products, and could end a two-year trade war.

The president claimed that under the agreement, China will make “massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more,” later specifying to reporters that he predicted the country would purchase over $50 billion in US agricultural products.

The farmers are going to have to go out and buy much larger tractors” because China is going to be buying so many American farm goods, Trump quipped.

We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China. They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more. The 25% Tariffs will remain as is, with 7 1/2% put on much of the remainder....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2019

The agreement will increase China’s US imports by $200 billion over a two-year period in the agriculture, manufacturing, energy, and services sectors, according to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Agriculture in particular is set to get a boost of $16 billion in the first year alone, up from 2017’s baseline of $24 billion, and China has agreed to aim for Trump’s goal of $50 billion. The deal also includes binding changes to some undesirable trade practices; for example, US companies will no longer be pressured to transfer technology to China. Lower tariffs will take effect 30 days after the deal is signed.

However, the 25 percent levies on around $250 billion worth of Chinese goods will remain in place, and the planned 15 percent duties on $160 billion of Chinese consumer products will be unaffected by the deal. Certain other existing tariffs on $120 billion in Chinese goods will be rolled back from 15 percent to 7.5 percent.

Negotiations on phase two of the deal will begin immediately, Trump added.

As the US leader announced the successful outcome, China’s vice ministers of finance and commerce held a press conference heralding the agreement. According to Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen, Washington and Beijing managed to reach a consensus on intellectual property theft and fake goods, two sticking points for the Trump administration during the trade war. Yet, Shouwen cautioned that Beijing will step up its protection of intellectual property at its own pace.

Also on Stock markets surge on reports of US-China deal to pause trade war

Beijing will also cancel tariffs on US goods set to come into effect on Sunday. As part of the deal, both the US and China agreed to strengthen protection for each other’s companies operating on each other’s soil, Chinese officials said.

Stock markets rallied on Thursday as news of the deal began to leak out. Asian markets jumped following, while US stocks hit record highs on Friday. The trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies has been raging for the better part of two years, since Trump announced tariffs on Chinese solar panels and washing machines in January 2018. After a series of tit-for-tat tariff applications, the US applied levies on $550 billion worth of Chinese goods, while China targeted about $185 billion worth of US imports.

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Categories: Media

Macron warns Britain against ‘unfair’ competition with EU after Brexit

Fri, 2019-12-13 15:24

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday warned Britain against “unfair” competition with the EU after Brexit. The statement came following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resounding election win and amid fears London will seek to lower taxes and regulations after Brexit, AFP said.

“My hope is that the United Kingdom remains an ally, a friend and an extremely close partner. The condition is to define the rules of a fair relationship,” Macron said after an EU summit in Brussels. “We do not want Britain to be an unfair competitor.”

Macron also warned Britain that the more it chose to deregulate its economy after Brexit, the more it will lose access to the EU’s market, Reuters reports.

“I don’t think that you can have a strong relationship with Europe’s single market with substantial regulatory differences on climate, environmental, economic or social regulations. That’s not true,” Macron said.

Categories: Media

Hubble snaps ‘close ups’ of interstellar comet Borisov as it passes through our solar system (PHOTOS)

Fri, 2019-12-13 15:16

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has beamed back some truly incredible images of comet 2I/Borisov, one of the fastest comets ever seen and only the second interstellar object to pass through our solar system (that we know of).

New observations from November and December paint an even more detailed picture of our interstellar visitor, with one image taken at a distance of 326 million kilometers from Earth, with spiral galaxy 2MASX J10500165-0152029 in the background.

The image below is of the comet’s closest approach to the Sun, 298 million km from Earth, while its closest approach to Earth will take place in late December at a distance of roughly 290 million kilometres (close being a relative term when discussing interstellar objects).

“Surprisingly, our Hubble images show that its nucleus is more than 15 times smaller than earlier investigations suggested it might be,” said David Jewitt, a professor of planetary science and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles, who estimates 2I/Borisov’s diameter is less than a kilometer across. 

Knowing the size of the interstellar object will help scientists determine how many more comets like it might be out there in the frozen void of space, both in our own solar system and elsewhere in the Milky Way.

Also on Crimean amateur astronomer finds ANOTHER comet, after helping NASA find alien water on interstellar visitor

Amateur astronomer from Russia Gennady Borisov discovered the interstellar comet back in August, prior to which, all observed comets had come from the Kuiper Belt, a ring of icy debris, or the Oort Cloud, a ‘shell’ of icy debris, which is considered the outermost region of our solar system.

This may only be the beginning, given that telescope technology is ever-improving, and we may soon begin cataloguing many more interstellar visitors that were previously too dim for our best instruments to detect.

Also on New interstellar object heading our way, but this time we’re ready for it

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Categories: Media

Trump impeachment articles approved by House Judiciary Committee in party-line vote

Fri, 2019-12-13 15:13

The House Judiciary Committee has approved impeachment charges against President Donald Trump with a vote strictly along party lines. The process is expected to advance to a full House vote next week.

After debating articles of impeachment in a heated session on Thursday, the committee voted 23 to 17 to approve both articles as House Resolution 755 on Friday, charging the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“This is a solemn and sad day,” committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) declared on Friday. Together with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California), Nadler has been one of the leading figures in the battle to remove Trump from office. In Nadler’s case, this effort began long before the current inquiry kicked off in September.

“Is the President’s proven conduct impeachable?” Nadler asked rhetorically on Thursday. “The answer is simple: absolutely.” 

President Trump responded to the vote with derision, calling the impeachment drive against him a “sham” and a “hoax.” 

“To use the power of impeachment for this nonsense, it’s an embarrassment to the country,” he continued.

Also on Trump says he ‘wouldn’t mind’ long impeachment process, calls House-passed articles a ‘sham’

The full House will debate the articles further on Wednesday, with a vote expected to split along party lines again and make Trump the third-ever president to be impeached before Congress adjourns for the holidays. If the House votes to impeach, the Senate will take up the case in the new year.

All Republican amendments were shot down in party-line votes during the deliberations. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) tried to strike down the “abuse of power” charge. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) tried and failed to insert a reference to former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, into the articles. Two additional GOP amendments – one modifying the language of the articles, the other eliminating the “obstruction of Congress” charge entirely – were also rejected.

Over the course of the debate, Republicans argued it was the Democrats, not the president, who obstructed justice by refusing the GOP minority its own set of hearings in which it could call its own witnesses. Democrats say they invited President Trump to the hearing, where he could present his case, but the offer was turned down by the White House.

The majority really should hold themselves in contempt for conducting this one-sided biased impeachment investigation, and then attacking the White House for refusing to participate in such a patently unfair process.

— Rep. Steve Chabot (@RepSteveChabot) December 12, 2019

The Democrat-controlled House launched the impeachment inquiry in late September after a White House whistleblower came forward with allegations of corruption stemming from a July phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. The whistleblower complaint – quickly seized upon by Democrats – charged that Trump tried to exploit US military aid in order to coerce Zelensky to open an investigation into Biden and the Ukrainian gas firm that hired his son.

Also on Dems summon image of Zelensky’s 15yo daughter ‘DUCT-TAPED in Trump’s basement’ during increasingly surreal impeachment hearing

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Categories: Media

Progress in resolving eastern Ukraine conflict ‘not enough’ to remove sanctions against Russia – Merkel

Fri, 2019-12-13 14:37

Progress has been achieved in resolving the conflict in Donbass but there is still no reason to remove sanctions on Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference following a European Union summit on Friday.

Together with French President Emmanuel Macron, she informed the summit’s participants of the outcome of the ‘Normandy Four’ meeting on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which was held in Paris on December 9. “We said that some progress had been achieved but it wasn’t enough for us to remove sanctions,” TASS quoted Merkel as saying.

At a meeting in Brussels on Thursday, EU leaders agreed to extend economic sanctions against Russia for another six months, until the end of July 2020, officials said. The EU imposed sanctions on Moscow in 2014 over the situation in Ukraine.

At the ‘Normandy Four’ summit this week, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany reaffirmed their commitment to implementing a comprehensive ceasefire in Donbass before the end of 2019. They also voiced support for a plan to carry out the disengagement of forces in three more areas in Donbass by the end of March 2020 and conduct an all-for-all prisoner exchange before 2019 ends.

Categories: Media

Russia to start mass production of Putin’s limo brand Aurus in 2021 (VIDEO)

Fri, 2019-12-13 14:36

The long-anticipated serial production of Aurus cars, the same domestic brand which made a limousine for Russian President Vladimir Putin, is set to start at the beginning of 2021.

The news was announced by the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry on Friday, after Trade Minister Denis Manturov visited the Ford Sollers plant in the special economic zone of Alabuga, Tatarstan Republic, where the high-end vehicles will be assembled.

After several pilot Aurus cars roll off the production line in 2020, some 360 cars are expected to be produced in the first quarter of 2021. By 2022, the plant’s production capacity is set to surge nearly fivefold to more than 1,700 vehicles. The plan is to eventually manufacture more than 5,200 cars per year in 2024.

“Robot systems [of the plant] allow it to perform technically complex works,” the Industry and Trade Ministry said in a statement. “We will use digital production technologies... as well as unmanned and augmented reality technologies.”

Industry and Trade Minister Minister Denis Manturov visits Ford Sollers plant © Russian Industry and Trade Ministry

The new Russian-made cars, part of a project dubbed ‘Kortezh’, debuted during Putin’s inauguration in May 2017, when a limousine of the line was finally unveiled. Initially designated for top Russian officials, it was then decided the car would be made available to the general public in both foreign and domestic markets.

Despite it being more than a year away from the launch of mass production, more than 600 pre-orders have been made for the Russian luxury cars.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

Categories: Media

One killed in 'workplace violence' shooting at Dart Container plant in Conyers, Georgia

Fri, 2019-12-13 14:34

One employee was shot at a food service plant in Conyers, Georgia, and later died. Local schools were placed on lockdown while police hunted for a suspect, who was later caught in the neighboring state of Alabama.

A contract employee identified as Cameron Golden was arrested Friday afternoon and charged with murdering fellow employee Taurus Andrews.

Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett described the shooting as "workplace violence," but said that Golden's motives were still being investigated.

“We don't if Mr. Golden was upset with Dart Container, was he upset with any particular person there? We just don't know those answers as of yet," Levett told reporters on Friday evening.

Rockdale County Administrative Services and Courthouse are on LOCK DOWN until further Notice, due to incident reported at Dart Container Corp Facility on GA 138.
Please be safe and stay on alert as the situation is investigated.

— Rockdale County (@RockdaleGov) December 13, 2019

Gunfire broke out at the plant on Friday morning, after Golden entered the Dart Container Corp. facility at about 7am local time and shot an employee. 

The victim, identified as Andrews, later passed away from his injuries at an area hospital.

Happening Now: A gunman went into the Dart Container Corporation on Highway 138 in Conyers and shot a man this morning. Rockdale County deputies are searching for the shooter. Three nearby schools are on lockdown. The adjacent QT gas station is closed for safety as well.

— Hayley Mason (@HayleyMasonTV) December 13, 2019

Shortly after the incident, Levett said his deputies had identified a “person of interest” and were conducting a manhunt. Three local schools were locked down as a precaution.

Shooting at dart/solo in conyers #conyers #conyersga

— J.M (@JLM954) December 13, 2019

Conyers is a suburb of Atlanta. Dart Container is the world’s largest manufacturer of styrofoam cups and containers for the food industry.

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Categories: Media

Named and shamed: The NFL coaches having a disastrous impact on their teams

Fri, 2019-12-13 14:32

Coaching is often a huge difference-maker in the NFL.

Bill Belichick is known for his ability to prepare his team for its best performances in the biggest games because he knows his players’ individual strengths and his opponents’ weaknesses. He combines that knowledge with a strategy of how to get the best matchups of strength vs. weakness, and that’s a big part of the reason the New England Patriots have won a record six Super Bowls.

© Getty Images / AFP

John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens knows how to get the most out of his players’ talent. Quarterback Lamar Jackson has become the favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award this season because Harbaugh recognized his second-year superstar’s brilliant ability and has allowed him to play with freedom.

The best coaches know how to influence their team to play with courage and get the most out of their talent. The worst coaches feel the pressure that is heaped on them by their bosses, the media and the fans, and they are trying to avoid failure.

That creates a heavy burden on players that cannot be overcome in the long run. Those coaches drag their teams down, and they invariably lose their jobs.

Here’s our look at the four worst coaches in the NFL.

1. Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns  © Getty Images / AFP

This was supposed to be the year that the Cleveland Browns overcame the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens and made a run at the AFC North title. The combination of quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb and superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was going to give the Browns an unstoppable offense.

The defense was led by pass rusher Myles Garrett, and 11 or 12 wins seemed realistic. All Kitchens had to do was to keep his team focused on an every-week basis and play with discipline.

Kitchens has done neither, as the Browns started the season with six losses in their first eight games. The key to those losses was their tendency to fall behind early and commit costly penalties. The worst of those came in Week 11, when Garrett was thrown out of a game against the Steelers when he ripped the helmet off the head of Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph and hit him in the head with it.

Garrett was thrown out of the game and suspended indefinitely for his action.

A coach who is leading his team with discipline would never allow that to happen. Kitchens needs to be shown the door if the Browns are going to live up to their potential.

2. Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions  © Getty Images / AFP

Patricia came to the Lions prior to the 2018 season after a successful run as the defensive coordinator of the Patriots. The Lions were getting one of the premier defensive minds in the game, and perhaps the NFL’s smartest individual.

Why would we say that? Because Patricia’s college degree is in Aeronautical Engineering, meaning that he could have gone into rocket science if he had not chosen coaching.

Patricia is supposed to be able to out scheme his opponents and find the favorable matchups. At the very least, the Lions were hoping he could help them become one of the strongest defensive teams in the league. That has not been the case in either of his two seasons in Detroit.

The Lions finished in last place in the NFC North in 2018 with a 6-10 record, and they ranked 23rd (out of 32 teams) in yards allowed. It is not better this year, as the Lions are 3-9-1 and 29th in yards allowed.

Patricia has been unable to inspire consistent performances from his team, and he does not appear to have the demeanor of a winning head coach.

3. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars  © Getty Images / AFP

The Jaguars appeared to be an up-and-coming team in 2017 when they made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Marrone made the most of the team’s limited talent on offense and inspired a brilliant defensive performance to earn a 10-6 record and win the AFC South.

But despite some of the best defensive talent in the league, Jaguars were unable to follow up on that t season as they finished in last place with a 5-11 record in 2018. It’s no better this year, as the Jaguars are 4-9 and in last place once again.

Things hit rock bottom with a 45-10 home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last week, and it’s clear that football operations boss Tom Coughlin will let him go at the end of the season.

4. Pat Shurmur, New York Giants  © Getty Images / AFP

The Giants are a mess and have been for several seasons. They have had one playoff season since winning the Super Bowl in 2011, so it’s clear that the organization has a mountain of problems and can’t put all the blame on Shurmur.

However, it seems that every move that Shurmur makes causes problems for the Giants. He is supposed to be an offensive guru who can raise his players’ level of play, but the Giants are just 2-11 and they have been unable to play 60 minutes of consistent football this season.

They will show flashes of ability as they did Monday night in the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles, but the team fell apart in the second half and lost the game in overtime.

Additionally, the Giants have one of the worst defenses in the league – they have given up 362 points (ranking 28th) – and that’s not Shurmur’s area of strength.

He will almost certainly be shown the door after the Giants conclude their season at home against the Eagles in Week 17.

Categories: Media

Officer missing in aircraft carrier fire died while trying to rescue workers trapped inside – Russian Navy

Fri, 2019-12-13 14:14

An officer, previously missing during a massive fire on Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, perished in the incident while trying to evacuate civilians who had been repairing the ship, the Russian Navy has confirmed.   

The Admiral Kuznetsov caught fire on Thursday, when sparks from a welder in an engine room reportedly caused fuel inside the carrier’s cargo hold to combust. The fire then spread throughout the vessel, taking almost a full day to put out.

Read more One soldier killed & another missing after fire breaks out on Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

One of the sailors helping to fight the fire died in the incident, while another was deemed missing until Friday, when his body was found deep inside the hull of Russia’s only aircraft carrier, according to the navy statement. 14 others were treated afterwards for smoke inhalation.

The slain officer, whose name has been withheld, was in charge of damage control at the vessel that docked at the northern port of Murmansk for comprehensive repairs. Shortly after the fire broke out, he tried to reach and evacuate civilian workers who had been welding metal downstairs, but apparently failed to get out alive, the navy revealed.

Eventually, all workers were evacuated from the vessel, and the fire was completely extinguished by Friday morning.

Admiral Kuznetsov, designed to launch and land Su-33 fighter jets, was commissioned by the Russian Navy back in 1991. Before going for refit in 2018, it saw a brief deployment in Mediterranean waters, supporting a Russian anti-Islamic State operation in Syria.  

The navy plans to upgrade electronics and a fire control system on the 55,000-ton ship by 2020, while also modernizing its unreliable power plant. It is expected to go on sea trials in 2021, becoming a mainstay of the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet again.

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Ever wanted to see yourself in a painting? RT Spanish makes it reality on 10th anniversary

Fri, 2019-12-13 14:11

RT Spanish has marked its tenth year on air with a series of playful promos showing its employees posing for photographs resembling famous artwork through the ages.

The short clips, captioned with the catchphrase “the news as art,” references some of history’s most iconic paintings, including Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ and ‘The Son of Man’ by René Magritte.

The recreations use typical TV situations to set up each ‘painting’. For example, one promo shows correspondent Nicolas Trinchero putting on headphones to listen to a recording. After placing his hands over the headphones, he morphs into Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’.

Since its founding in December 2009, RT en Español has built up a huge following, especially on the internet. RT en Español is the top news channel in Spanish on YouTube, and has more views than the Spanish-language versions of BBC, CNN, Euronews, and teleSUR.

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Massive plume of black smoke rises above Moscow as large fabric warehouse goes up in flames (VIDEOS)

Fri, 2019-12-13 14:01

Two helicopters, 70 firetrucks and 220 rescuers were involved in a major rescue effort in the Russian capital after fire engulfed a fabric warehouse in a densely populated area along one of the city’s busiest roads.

On Friday 13, the blaze hit a large storage facility on Varshavskoye Highway in southern Moscow, spanning 7,000 square meters and causing partial collapse of the building’s roofing and inner walls.

A huge plume of thick black smoke was seen from kilometers away.

Around 40 people were evacuated from the warehouse, with no injuries reported among them. However, one firefighter was wounded while tackling the blaze. His condition remains unclear at the moment.

The fire disrupted traffic in the busy area. Motorists heading out of Moscow for the weekend were advised to take detours. A mobile laboratory of the Emergencies Ministry was taken to the site to check if the blaze has led to excessive air pollution.

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Stock markets surge on reports of US-China deal to pause trade war

Fri, 2019-12-13 13:54

A phase one trade deal with China has been reached, in principle, by the Trump administration, sources have told CNBC. It will roll back existing US tariff hikes on Chinese goods and cancel new levies.

Reports on the agreement follow US President Donald Trump’s Thursday meeting with top advisors about trade with China and whether to delay the next round of US tariffs.

Washington was expected to impose 15 percent duties on $160 billion of Chinese consumer products such as smartphones, laptops, other electronics and clothes. The levies were set to take effect on Sunday.

The White House has offered to scrap those duties and slash some existing tariffs in half, sources suggest. Washington proposed cutting existing duties on $360 billion in Chinese products by 50 percent, they said.

Also on 'Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China' – Trump

China stayed silent on whether the two sides had reached a deal, with the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying on Friday that an “agreement has to be mutually beneficial.”

Trump tweeted on Thursday that the US has moved close to a trade deal with Beijing. “Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!” he wrote.

Asian stock markets rallied on Friday following the reports and in reaction to US market gains.The Hang Seng and Nikkei both gained 2.6 percent, while the Shanghai Composite was up 1.78 percent. US stocks gained for the second straight session on Friday to reach new record highs on the news.

Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2019

The conflict between the world’s two biggest economies has been going on for over a year, resulting in multiple rounds of tariffs and restrictions on billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s goods. In 2018, the Trump administration began imposing tariffs and other trade barriers on China to force Beijing to make changes to what it called “unfair trade practices.”

Chinese officials are set to hold a press conference regarding the trade talks on Friday, at 10:30 p.m. Beijing time (2:30 p.m. GMT).

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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Not getting any better: Ankara summons US ambassador over Senate’s Armenian genocide resolution, passed despite Trump opposition

Fri, 2019-12-13 13:28

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has summoned the US ambassador to Ankara, in protest at the US Congress’ passing of a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide. The ministry accused American lawmakers of politicizing history.

The Senate resolution was passed unanimously on Thursday. It formally acknowledges the mass murder of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1922 as an act of genocide.

It is the policy of the United States to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance.

A similar resolution passed the House in October.

Also on US Senate passes resolution recognizing Armenian genocide, ignoring Trump & Turkey’s objections

Turkey denies that the murders amounted to genocide, and disputes the figures. Reacting on Twitter, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the vote a “political show,” that “has no validity whatsoever.” 

US President Donald Trump had opposed the resolution, on account of the already tense relations between Washington and Ankara. As Trump met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in November, Republican Senators were busy blocking the same resolution from passing the upper house, for fear of upsetting the Turks.

Trump and Erdogan had much to discuss. Turkey’s insistence on purchasing the Russian-made S-400 air defense system has already set it against its NATO allies, and seen the country booted out of the F-35 jet fighter program. US lawmakers also met with Erdogan to chastise the Turkish leader for his military offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, launched in October.

Also on ‘Disrespect to our sovereign decisions’: Ankara hits back after US Senate committee greenlights Turkey sanctions bill

While the White House likely fears the genocide resolution will make it impossible to negotiate a resolution to the S-400/F-35 impasse, the Senate has taken a much harder approach. One day before passing the genocide resolution, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance a sanctions bill against Ankara, with ranking member Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) describing Turkey’s actions as “beyond the pale.”

Activists and campaigners have been lobbying the US government to recognize the Armenian gencide since the 1960s. However, Turkey has always insisted that doing so would harm relations between the two NATO allies. Former President Barack Obama promised in 2008 to acknowledge the genocide, but abandoned this pledge once taking office.

The Senate vote brings to 32 the number of countries who recognize the killings – which took place under the rule of the Ottoman empire – as a genocide. These include France, Italy, Canada, and Russia.  

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