Russian government 'like a tiger ready to leap forward’ – Audit Chamber chief

By ethan / May 25, 2018

Russia’s newly-appointed Cabinet is capable of producing “advanced, groundbreaking reforms” with the government looking like “a tiger ready to make a leap forward,” head of the Russian Audit Chamber, Alexei Kudrin, said Friday.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Kudrin encouraged officials to take a more decisive role in implementing the Russian President’s ambitious economic program, revealed by Vladimir Putin on May 7, just hours after his official swearing-in ceremony. Among the goals is raising the average life expectancy and living standards.

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Former Audit Chamber Chair Tatyana Golikova

While expressing optimism about the government’s future performance, the chief of the Russia’s finance watchdog noted that the Cabinet so far proved not to be active and daring enough in tackling its objectives.

In the 2000s, it was the government that pushed the president, and he was saying, ‘Slow down, let’s be more careful’. And today the President is setting the bar high, while the government is overthinking,” he told an audience during one of the forum’s events. One of the steps could be raising of the retirement age, which, according to Kudrin, is inevitable and will be a bold move.

Kudrin is one of Russia’s leading economists. Prior to being appointed to lead the Audit Chamber, he advised Putin on economic affairs, and before that he was Finance Minister for more than 10 years.

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US hysteria over Chinese military ‘expansion’ shows ‘corporate coup d’état is complete’ – Lee Camp

By ethan / May 25, 2018

Watching Congress clutch their pearls over China’s new – and only – overseas military base is the only proof you need that America’s elected officials are bought and paid for by corporations and arms dealers, says RT’s Lee Camp.

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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a military drill

In the latest installment of ‘Redacted Tonight,’ host Camp tore into a recent US House Intelligence Committee hearing on “China’s worldwide military expansion,” which bravely exposed the “growing threat” of China’s ability to project power abroad.

The hours-long hand-wringing was an “open hearing,” or as Camp explained: When “our super shady, super bought-off Congress opens their doors to pretend as if they are open and transparent to the nation.”

Camp was particularly unimpressed by Rep. Adam Schiff’s performance. The California Democrat pointed to China’s new (and only) overseas military base – in Djibouti, Africa – as an example of the growing worldwide Chinese menace.

“We fear for our dwindling military and economic empire in a world that is growing beyond it, so we have to build up the scary specter of China, with their one military base around the world. Sure it’s only one base, but it’s around the world!” Camp commented.

Noting that US defense spending is still five times larger than China’s, and that the US military has hundreds of overseas bases, Camp concluded: “The corporate coup d’état is complete – these stooges in this video that I just showed you, they’re just a show. They’re just a little performance. And they’re not even a very fascinating one, either. Put on a f*cking top hat or something, Adam Schiff.”

Watch the full episode:

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Hundreds of Liverpool fans stranded amid Kiev Champions League travel chaos

By ethan / May 25, 2018

Hundreds of Liverpool fans have been left scrambling to reach Kiev for the Champions League final this weekend, after flights were cancelled in an issue which some have blamed on air authorities in the Ukrainian capital.

A number of flights with travel company Worldchoice Sports were cancelled on Thursday, with the agency saying it had been unable to secure landing spots at Boryspil Airport in Kiev. The dispute was reportedly over the size of the aircraft due to take the fans to Kiev.

That meant up to 1,000 fans, some of whom had paid up to £2,000 (US$ 2,670) for the flights, were left desperately trying to find alternative ways of reaching the city for Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.

Worldchoice Sports, which cancelled three outbound flights and three inbound flights in total, said in a statement on Thursday that it had done all it could to get Liverpool fans to Ukraine, but had been left frustrated by the Kiev flight authorities.  

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© Carl Recine

“We have had Liverpool football club, police, UEFA and everyone at the highest levels of authority trying to resolve this. We have exhausted all avenues to try and get landing slots,” the company said. “To reiterate this problem is with Kiev,” it added.

There had been efforts by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and his Kiev counterpart, former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, to resolve the issue.

The Liverpool mayor has pointed the finger at Worldchoice Sports over the issue, earlier saying that he had managed to secure two additional flights with Kiev, although a three-night trip is the only extra flight to have been confirmed. 

The additional flight will reportedly allow around 300 fans to make the trip on Friday, but it is too little, too late for many others.

After the cancellations, fans vented their anger over the travel chaos. Lifelong Liverpool supporter Chris Bolland, who will now have to watch the game at home on TV, said he was “disgusted” by what had happened.

“I am gutted, to say the least,” he told the BBC. “I am absolutely disgusted and there is nothing I can do about it.”

Fellow Liverpool supporter Asif Badat was also left stranded, and said: “We were being given assurances about our tickets and then suddenly the flights were cancelled.”

As with many of the other fans affected, Badat is now frantically trying to find alternative routes to Kiev via land, sea and air.  

“I’m now considering flying to Romania and driving 10 hours from there,” he told the BBC. Other fans took to social media to express their anger over the travel chaos.

UEFA has come under strong criticism from some quarters over its decision to hold the Champions League final – widely considered the biggest game in club football – in the Ukrainian capital.  

Liverpool’s head of club and supporter liaison, Tony Barrett, said making travel and accommodation arrangements in Kiev had been a “nightmare” for many Liverpool fans.  

“The decision to hold the final at a location which is so difficult and so extraordinarily expensive to get to is one that needs explaining by those who made it,” Barrett said last week. 

“To every Liverpool fan who is having a nightmare – and I use the word nightmare deliberately, not loosely – arranging travel to Kiev I can only apologize.

“What should be one of the most exciting times of your lives is currently anything but and that, to me, is inexcusable.”

Liverpool fans already in the city ahead of tomorrow’s game were caught up in shocking scenes on Thursday night when they were attacked by a group of around 20 hooligans.

Liverpool fans were reportedly set upon by masked and hooded thugs at around 8:30pm in a restaurant near to Kiev’s Olimpiyskiy Stadium, where Saturday’s final will take place.

They were forced to shield themselves with tables and chairs, and two fans received injuries and local police made two arrests.

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Strong fundamentals of Russian economy attract foreign investors

By ethan / May 25, 2018

Russia’s economic growth is a very positive sign for businesses, as it creates a lot of confidence about their investments, Ian Colebourne, CEO of Deloitte CIS, told RT at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

“I think it’s fair to say that the level of growth would have been higher if we hadn’t faced these challenges [sanctions]. And I think when we look again to the long-term view and the aspirations set out in President Putin’s address recently, there’s something that we support – a lot of economic reforms and growth in the economy,” Ian Colebourne said.

According to him, the significant growth of Russian agriculture has attracted the attention of foreign investors. “I think the changes that we’ve seen over the past created confidence for investment, created confidence to take a longer term view,” he said.

Colebourne added that over the past nine months, there have been investments in Russian oil and gas, as well as in oil field services. “We’ve worked with clients who continue to invest into agriculture, that’s been a theme for over the past at least two to three years. We’re also seeing investment into pharmaceuticals, and there’s increasing interest in some of the light industries and localization.”

He also noted investment to support localization of production and “that’s something that I think will continue whether or not the current situation is in place.” According to Colebourne, localization of production makes a lot of sense with fundamentals for the country remaining as solid as they were before.

There is a lot of opportunity for investors in Russia in terms of long term view, Colebourne said, explaining that the fundamental thing for business is about “how you create the confidence and the stability to enable that.”

The executive believes that the European Union will remain Russia’s leading trading partner. “That is something which has been the case and continues to be the case.”

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

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US opioid crisis: Mussels off Seattle found with oxycodone in their system

By ethan / May 25, 2018

As the US continues to grapple with a widespread opioid epidemic, alarming research from Seattle indicates that the local population is consuming so much oxycodone that it’s seeping into the local water supply.

Scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have found trace amounts of oxycodone in the Puget Sound using a study involving mussels. The shellfish are filter feeders who gain nourishment from their surroundings, while simultaneously absorbing whatever contaminants are also in the water – making them an ideal barometer for environmental scientists to test water pollution in a given area.

“What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound,” Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO. “It’s telling me there’s a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area.”

Clean mussels taken from Whidbey Island were brought to 18 urbanized locations around Puget Sound. In three out of 18 locations, the mussels tested positive for trace amounts of oxycodone, though none were found in areas where commercial fishing takes place.

While mussels don’t actually metabolize drugs like oxycodone, fish do. Studies have even shown that certain species, like the zebrafish, will willingly dose themselves, if given the opportunity.

However, in this study, the amounts of opioids detected were thousands of times smaller than a human dose. It does, however, highlight just how prevalent opioid use is, with one in five Americans surveyed reporting that they personally knew someone who had been addicted to prescription painkillers. Exposure to opioid addiction was also twice as likely among white Americans than it was among the black population according to a Federal Reserve report.   

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‘Pack of dogs’: Liverpool fans left battered & bloody after attack by masked thugs in Kiev (VIDEO)

By ethan / May 25, 2018

Masked thugs in Kiev have attacked Liverpool fans in the city for Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final.

A video, published by the Mirror, shows a 20-strong gang throwing glasses, tables and chairs, causing their targets to scatter. Two men were arrested while others were able to flee the scene without being detained.

Witnesses described the troublemakers as a ‘pack of dogs’ as they laid into Liverpool fans who were eating dinner at a restaurant called Rooster Grill, not far from the final venue Olimpiyskiy Stadium, the Independent reports.

Liverpool fans were left battered and covered in blood with wounds to their heads and necks as they ran for cover.

Two foreign fans were injured at the establishment, police reported. A statement from Ukrainian police said: “In the course of the conflict, two foreigners suffered injuries,” the Mail Online reports.

The attack raises fears over fan safety before Saturday’s final, where Liverpool meet Real Madrid.

READ MORE: Meet the men aiming to break the city of Liverpool’s sporting heart this weekend

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are aiming for their sixth European title against Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, who are looking to claim an unprecedented third Champions League title in a row.

On Thursday, it was reported that around one thousand Liverpool fans have been left stranded in the UK amid travel chaos stemming from cancelled flights over a landing spot dispute between travel companies.

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Terrorists used Telegram messenger in all recent attacks, head of Russian watchdog claims

By ethan / May 25, 2018

The head of Russian internet watchdog Roskomnadzor told the St. Petersburg Economic Forum that he has “irrefutable proof” that all recent terrorist attacks in Russia and abroad were coordinated through the Telegram messenger.

The proof is irrefutable. All of the latest terrorist attacks committed in our country and abroad have been coordinated through the Telegram messenger. This is why, when choosing between convenience and security, I personally choose security,” Aleksandr Zharov was quoted as saying by Interfax.

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Mobile phone with Telegram start screen © Aleksandr Avilov / Moskva news agency

The official stated that the demand of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) that Telegram hand over encryption keys to user traffic on demand was completely justified. He added that a similar situation developed around the Zello internet walkie-talkie, which is also currently banned in Russia.

In mid-April, Roskomnadzor issued an order to internet providers restricting access to web resources used by Telegram, which lost a court battle with the security services over keys to its clients’ encrypted correspondences. Russian law requires that owners of internet companies keep records of their clients’ traffic and hand over encryption keys to security officers on demand.

Telegram representatives insist that handing over of the encryption keys is technically impossible and refuse to comply with the law.

Since the start of the procedure, Roskomnadzor has blocked millions of IP addresses that were used by Telegram, and about 80 VPN and proxy services that were used in Russia to get access to Telegram. However, the messenger continues to migrate to new IP addresses and remains accessible to this day.

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Only Russia can save Ukraine, Kadyrov tells Poroshenko

By ethan / May 25, 2018

Soon after facing new sanctions from Kiev, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov stated that this would not alter his brotherly attitude to the Ukrainian people, who can always expect help from Chechens and Russians in times of trouble.

[Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko is slapping sanctions on me, while our ancestors saved thousands of Ukrainians who were forced into the North Caucasus by famine from certain death. Chechens provided shelter, food, clothes, and footwear to countless women, children, and elderly people,” Kadyrov wrote on Telegram Friday.

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Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov © Andrey Lyubimov, Moskva News Agency

Not a single refugee was left without shelter or hungry, their descendants live in Chechnya to this day. This is not some remand or claim, this is a reminder to Poroshenko that only the people of the Russian Federation will help Ukrainians when disaster strikes, not Americans and their satellites,” the Chechen leader wrote.

Kadyrov also said he would always treat Ukrainians as brothers and sisters who remain close and dear to Russia in spite of the problems that have arisen in recent years.

His comments come after Ukraine imposed sanctions on 1,750 Russian citizens, including Ramzan Kadyrov, on Thursday.

In late 2017, Kadyrov was put on the US sanctions list for alleged involvement in human rights violations. The Chechen leader said at the time that the situation only made him proud and that the US should search for real human rights abusers at home, “in the White House and the Pentagon.”

Kadyrov insisted he was sanctioned, not because of alleged human rights abuses, but rather due to his relentless, lifelong fight against terrorists, many of whom were “fosterlings of the American special services.”

He also jokingly noted that Washington has no reason to worry because he had not received orders to step on US soil yet.

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40 years on: How Unabomber’s first parcel bomb shaped a generation of eco-terrorists

By ethan / May 25, 2018

May 25 marks the 40th anniversary of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s first attack. Here, RT looks back on the life of Kaczynski as well as some other heinous acts his bombing campaign inspired.

On this day in 1978, Professor Buckley Crist found a package in his office at Northwestern University. His first instinct was to call campus security. The package, which had been found in the university parking lot, was inscribed with his return address but Crist couldn’t remember sending it. When officer Terry Marker lifted the lid on the package, a rubber band snapped back and struck six match heads, igniting a fire that triggered the first device of the Unabomber’s 17-year campaign of terror.

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Sergey Ivanov - Russian presidential envoy for environment and transportation, who also served as Russia’s Defence Minister and as the Kremlin's Chief of Staff

The bomb was crudely constructed and left Marker with only minor cuts and bruises. But before Kaczynski’s eventual capture at a remote cabin in Montana in 1996, he would kill three people and maim several others with increasingly sophisticated devices.

A mathematics prodigy, Kacyznski’s ultimate aim was to subvert modern society in order to bring about a return to a more primitive, environmentally conscious way of life. He railed against the pursuit of new technologies which he believed would ultimately end in the erosion of human freedoms.

In the digital age, the argument that technology has had a detrimental effect on society and human behavior remains a compelling one. Here are some of the groups and individuals inspired by Kacyznski’s nature-based anarchism who subsequently borrowed his deadly methods.

Nanotech targets

Campuses across Mexico were placed on high alert in August, 2011 after two professors were injured in a blast at the Monterrey Institute of Technology. Writing in a series of online posts, a group calling itself ‘Individualists Tending Toward Savagery’ (ITS) took credit for the attack and cited Kaczynski as its inspiration. The group has since been linked to other attacks on Mexican universities. In each incident, nanotechnology researchers were the targets.

READ MORE: Would human enhancement create Supermen or super tyrants?

The ITS posted online warning of the creation of automatically self-replicating nanocyborgs which could lead to be humanity’s downfall, reports The Chronicle.

Kaczynski, now serving life in prison without parole, has since delivered a scathing put down of ITS. In a blog posted in October last year, Kaczynski called the group politically naive, adding that it has a kindergarten level of understanding of revolution.

The plot to blow up IBM

In April 2011, three members of the Italian environmental activist group Il Silvestre were each jailed for three years after plotting to blow up the IBM nanotechnology center in Switzerland. The three had been caught near the company grounds with nearly 500g of explosives as well as the components needed to make an improvised explosive device, according to SwissInfo. They were also in possession of more than 30 letters claiming responsibility for the planned attack in the name of the Switzerland Earth Liberation Front.

The parallels with the Kaczynski-inspired ITS are clear – and, in a further Unabomber-like move, another organization, the Italian-based Informal Anarchist Federation, protested the trio’s arrest by sending a letter bomb to the Swiss nuclear agency. The package also contained a note demanding the Il Silvestre group’s release.

‘Radical ecologists’

In an interview from prison in 1999, Kaczynski said that his motivation for carrying out his attacks didn’t come from literature, and that if people hadn’t started laying roads and cutting down trees he would still be living in the woods.

READ MORE: Green radicals are ready to kill for their cause – ex-member of US Senate Environment Committee

Kaczynski’s industrialization concerns are echoed in those of Il Silvestre, the Italian eco-anarchic group thought to have been the chief organizers of the IBM plot, according to Swiss intelligence. Italian police believe Il Silvestre to be “radical ecologists” responsible for a program of crime, intimidation and bombings.

Austin bombings

A spate of six bombings across the Austin area in March 2018 drew comparisons with the Unabomber. Over a period of 19 days, Mark Conditt, an unemployed 23-year-old from the Pflugerville suburb of the city, killed three people and injured six others.

On the morning of March 2, Austin resident Anthony Stephan House emerged from his home and picked up a package that had been left on his porch. It exploded, killing him instantly. This was followed by five further bombings, culminating in Conditt blowing himself up in his car after being stopped by police on March 21. Unlike Kaczynski, it is not yet clear if there was an ideological motive for the attacks.

Some believe, given that most of the victims were non-white, the attacks were racially motivated. The police have refused to characterize the attacks as such, and given his sudden death, Conditt’s motives remain a mystery.

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Amazon’s smart-speaker Alexa ‘leaks’ private conversation to random number

By ethan / May 25, 2018

A US couple was horrified to find out that their private conversation was recorded by Amazon’s Echo voice-controlled device and sent to a work contact. Amazon blamed the “extremely rare” incident on an unlikely sequence of events.

The family discovered that their Alexa virtual assistant had effectively briefly turned into an eavesdropping device only after they got a call from one of the husband’s employees, who told them he had received a recording of their private conversation, KIRO reported.

The immediate assumption of the employee was that the digital helper had somehow been hacked, as he called on them to shut all Echo devices down immediately. At first, the pair found it hard to believe that the smart-speaker might pull such a trick single-handedly and send their conversation to some random contact.

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A customer walks out of the Amazon Go store in Seattle, Washington © Jeffrey Dastin

“At first, my husband was, like, ‘no you didn’t!’ And the (recipient of the message) said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘oh gosh, you really did hear us,” the wife, identified only as Danielle, told the site.

She said the pair had unplugged all Echo devices that they relied on to control heating, lights and security at home. Immediately after, she contacted Amazon. An engineer tasked with checking her activity logs confirmed her account of events and repeatedly apologized for the mishap. In a written statement to KIRO, Amazon called the incident “an extremely rare occurrence,” vowing to take measures never to let this happen again.

In a more detailed explanation of what could have provoked the ‘glitch,’ the company told TechCrunch that Alexa, which is supposed to be activated upon hearing its ‘name,’ had most likely mistaken some of the words in the conversation for an eerily coincidental string of commands.

“Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, ‘[contact name], right?’ Alexa then interpreted background conversation as ‘right,’” Amazon explained.

However, the woman that lives in Portland, Oregon, has said that she did not hear the smart-speaker trying to warn her that it was about to send the recording.

The woman, who said she “felt invaded” by a sudden and utterly uncalled-for breach of privacy on the part of Amazon, has not been satisfied with expletive apologies and demanded a full refund for the Amazon’s invading services, something the online giant refuses to provide, KIRO cited her as saying.

“I’m never plugging that device in again, because I can’t trust it,” she stressed.

Instead, Amazon reportedly offered the family to remove Alexa’s communications feature, so their use of Echo systems will be limited exclusively to smart home applications.

While Amazon tried to downplay the concerns of its know-how’s penchant for spying on its owners, the company is currently embroiled in another privacy-related controversy over its (inadvertent) contribution to mass surveillance with new facial recognition technology.

Its retail giant’s critics argue that by selling its “Rekognition” technology, which can identify, track and analyze people in real time, to US law enforcement and local authorities, Amazon threatens civil freedoms. Slamming the new big brother-like technology, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that it “raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns.”

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