Secret Service catches 'Pikachu' trying to jump White House fence

By ethan / October 19, 2017

A man dressed as the Pokemon character Pikachu was arrested after trying to get onto the White House grounds, the US Secret Service has said.

Curtis Combs, 36, of Somerset, Kentucky, jumped over the concrete barrier on the southern side of the president’s residence while wearing a Pikachu costume Tuesday morning. He was quickly arrested by uniformed Secret Service officers.

According to a police report released Wednesday night, Combs told officers that he was unarmed, then attempted to climb the fence. He is said to have ignored multiple orders to stop.

Combs, who pleaded not guilty to a charge of unlawful entry and has a court date set for November 9, told the Secret Service that he hoped to become famous by posting footage of the stunt on YouTube.

Unfortunately for the viral hit wannabe, the officers’ quick response meant he could not complete the recording. His backpack, which he dropped before jumping the barrier, was later investigated and cleared by bomb disposal officers.

Earlier this month, CNN claimed that Russia allegedly used the popular augmented-reality game Pokemon Go to inflame racial tensions among Americans during the 2016 US presidential election.

The report claimed that a Tumblr page “linked” to a supposed Russian hacking group promoted a contest encouraging people involved in the Black Lives Matter movement to play Pokemon Go at sites known for being scenes of police brutality.

READ MORE: ‘Idea that interfering with Pokemon Go could change US presidential vote result is hilarious’

A yellow rodent with a lightning-shaped tail, Pikachu is the most visible face of Pokemon, a Japanese franchise extending to movies and animation shows, comic books, video and trading-card games.

This is not the first time Pikachu has had a brush with White House security. In September 2014, a man named Jeffrey Grossman was stopped on the North Lawn after jumping the White House fence while wearing a Pokemon hat and holding a yellow Pikachu doll.  

Grossman’s mother, Cathy, said her son had gone to an out-of-state hospital to admit himself for mental health treatment, but he was unable to do so based on his healthcare coverage. After asking why he could not get help, he was told that he should complain to the president.

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NFL gamers’ union to sign up with owners’ conference on nationwide anthem demonstrations Everybody who is part of our NFL neighborhood has an incredible regard for our nation, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these problems in a useful and civil method., concerning the anthem demonstrations that have actually swept the league. Goodell worried the league would value if the gamers stand throughout the anthem, however included there was no indicator of penalty for those who protest.US President Donald Trump, who has actually been singing about his views on the demonstrations, once again included his weight to the issue.Trump informed Fox News on Wednesday that no anthem problem would have occurred if the NFL had actually penalized San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who introduced the wave of demonstrations last year. “There has actually been no modification in the existing policy concerning the anthem. Everybody who is part of our NFL neighborhood has an incredible regard for our nation, our flag, our anthem and our military, and we are coming together to deal with these problems in a positive and civil method., concerning the anthem demonstrations that have actually swept the league. Goodell worried the league would value if the gamers stand throughout the anthem, however included there was no sign of penalty for those who protest.US President Donald Trump, who has actually been singing about his views on the demonstrations, once again included his weight to the issue.Trump informed Fox News on Wednesday that no anthem concern would have occurred if the NFL had actually penalized San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who released the wave of demonstrations last year. His choice to bench objecting gamers, nevertheless, dealt with public resistance.

By / October 19, 2017

‘Paving the way for tyranny’: Tory MP slams own party for universal credit abstention

By ethan / October 19, 2017

Andrea Leadsom, the Tory leader of the House of Commons, has been accused by a fellow Conservative MP of paving the way for “tyranny,” after the government pushed its MPs to abstain on a Labour motion on universal credit.

Veteran MP Sir Edward Leigh told MPs in the House of Commons: “Frankly, the road to tyranny is paved by executives ignoring parliaments.”

The controversy was sparked on Wednesday evening, after the government imposed a ‘three-line whip’ on its MPs, obligating them to abstain in Labour’s motion calling for a pause in the rollout of universal credit.

Labour’s opposition day motion was passed 299 votes to 0, after all but one Tory MP, Totnes representative Sarah Wollaston, abstained. Earlier in the day, it was reported that several dozen Conservative MPs were thinking of voting with the opposition.

In an impassioned Commons speech that proved popular among Labour MPs, Leigh said: “Parliament does matter, because if we as Conservatives live by the sword now, our Conservative values in the future might die by the sword.”

“It may be in the future that there is a minority Labour government. They may produce policies which we think are deeply contrary to our personal liberties. We may muster a majority in Parliament against it,” he added.

“What happens then if a future Labour government says, ‘I’m sorry; you set the precedent. This is only an expression of opinion. We are going to ignore Parliament’?”

While being heckled with cries of “disgrace,” house leader Leadsom defended the decision to impose the abstention, noting that the government was not bound by the vote.

Shadow leader of the Commons Valerie Vaz said the abstention was “disrespectful to the House.”

“This is where we make the law. This is not a school debating chamber.”

On the universal credit resolution, Vaz said: “I know the government didn’t want to hear about people in rent arrears struggling to feed their families when they’re in work, but that’s the reality when government policy is failing.”

Tory MP and staunch Brexiteer Peter Bone echoed the sentiments.

“We cannot ignore the will of the House,” he said, arguing that ministers should be compelled to deliver a statement to Parliament within 12 weeks of a resolution similar to Wednesday’s.

While it is rare for governments not to vote down opposition day motions, the minority Tory administration has done so on a number of occasions since June’s election, avoiding any potential rebellions that could threaten the May government.

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Dogs on drugs: World’s most famous dog sled race facing doping scandal

By ethan / October 19, 2017

Dogs who participated in this year’s Iditarod race, the world’s most famous dog sled event, have tested positive for a banned substance, it has been revealed.

The committee board of directors for the Iditarod Trail dog sled race confirmed on Wednesday that dogs that had mushed at this year’s race had tested positive for the banned opioid pain reliever Tramadol, the Associated Press reports.

The board specified the substance in question after confirming last week that dogs from the same team had returned positive results, following testing at the finish line of the 1,000-mile trek in Alaska in March.

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© imago sportfotodienst / Global Look Press

It is the first time since testing procedures were introduced in 1994 that dogs have returned positive results for banned substances at the event.

Officials have refused to name the musher, reportedly over doubts that they could prove that he deliberately administered the drug.  

Aaron Burmeister, an Iditarod board member and musher, said Wednesday that as long as the participant remained unnamed, everyone would fall under suspicion.

“It’s not a good situation,” he said. “I’m hoping that we can turn a positive light on it and the musher steps forward,” AP reports.

Mushers know that dogs will be subject to random testing during the race as well as at the finish line, and there has been speculation that a fellow competitor may have administered the substance to sabotage a rival’s chances.

Burmeister, however, questioned this theory, saying: “As a musher, why would another musher give their competitor a performance-enhancing drug?”

The Iditarod began in 1973, and takes competitors across arduous Alaskan terrain in sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds. The teams consist of a musher and 16 high-performance sled dogs.

It typically takes between eight and 15 days for competitors to complete the route from Settler’s Bay to Nome on Alaska’s southern Seward Peninsula coast.  

READ MORE: Put microchips in athletes like dogs for stricter doping checks, sports official says

Musher Burmeister, who missed this year’s race, hopes that the scandal will not detract from the respect people have for the event and its participants, canine and human.

“I just hope that people look at the big picture and realize that mushers out there are not doping their dogs,” he said. “This is an isolated incident.”


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Merkel expects Brexit breakthrough in December, but other leaders seek clarity on ‘divorce bill’

By ethan / October 19, 2017

The deadlock in negotiations between the EU and UK could see a breakthrough by the end of the year and Brexit trade talks could commence earlier than expected, Angela Merkel told a European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

Although not enough progress has been made to carry the Brexit process into to its next stage, said the German Chancellor, there have been “encouraging” signs that it will be possible to “take the work forward and then reach the start of the second phase in December.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, however, said that more clarity was needed surrounding the amount of money that the UK is willing to pay to drop out of the EU in 2019.

It is “key” that the UK specifies the terms of its ‘divorce bill’ before any discussion takes place in relation to future trade relations, Rutte said, according to Reuters.

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Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis. © Chris J Ratcliffe

He reportedly told British Prime Minister Theresa May over the phone last week: “Listen, we need more clarity specifically about the bill.”

As he walked into the EU summit on Thursday, Rutte said: “I’d prefer a sum, so we can negotiate about it. But if this is asking too much, then at least have a proposal how to get to a sum. But even that, [May] hasn’t been able to produce.”

The British Prime Minister has previously offered to pay £20 billion ($ 26.4 billion) for the UK to withdraw from the bloc, but European

Parliament President Antonio Tajani dismantled the offer, calling it “peanuts,” with the “the real situation” being a sum of around £45-£53 billion ($ 60-70 billion).

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the UK would do “very well” if it were to leave without attaining a trade deal.

“I think that we will get a deal and it will be a great deal and a great Brexit but with any negotiation you’ve got to be prepared to walk away,” he told reporters after a meeting in London with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray Caso.

“And we are going to be prepared to do that and, as Luis has said, I think we’ll do fine but we’ll also be able to develop our relations with Mexico and that’s very exciting as well.”

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US ‘actively supported’ Indonesia mass killings in 1960s, documents reveal

By ethan / October 19, 2017

Newly declassified documents reveal not just the US government’s “detailed knowledge” of the Indonesian Army’s mass killings of members of the Communist Party (PKI), but its “active support” of the slaughter.

The documents, posted Tuesday by the National Security Archive at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, show that US officials “actively supported Indonesian Army efforts to destroy the country’s left-leaning labor movement,” according to the independent research and archival institution.

The 39 new documents, from a cache of some 30,000 pages of daily record files taken from the US Embassy in Indonesia’s capital from 1964-1968, were declassified and digitized in collaboration with the National Declassification Center. The move came following a growing number of requests from US and Indonesian human rights groups.

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Members of hardline Muslim groups attend a protest against Jakarta's incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian running in the upcoming election, in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 4, 2016. © Beawiharta

The files include State Department letters, telegrams, situation reports and confidential communications between US consulates and the US embassy. However, the cache does not include any CIA documents, which remain classified. Human Rights Watch has called for all remaining files to be unclassified.

The new material showed that US diplomats in the Jakarta embassy and their State Department counterparts in Washington kept a record of which PKI leaders were being executed during one of the most turbulent times for Indonesia, following its independence from the Netherlands in 1949.

Particularly damning is the memorandum of a conversation between Second Secretary of the Embassy Robert Rich and Assistant to the Attorney General Adnan Buyung Nasution in October 23, 1965. It’s one of the earliest mentions of the systematic killings to Washington. The telegram recounts the nation’s cooperation to keep reports of the killings from the international press so as not to alert Indonesian President Sukarno.

The army had already executed many Communists but this fact must be very closely held” while they “continue to crack down on the Communists in order to break the back of the PKI power,” wrote Nasution.

In the memo, Nasution voices his “shock” at reports of the killings that had begun surfacing on Malaysian radio and warned that Sukarno must not learn of the army’s repression from foreign media.

Rich reassured Nasution that the US government is “fully aware of the sensitive nature of current events and was making every effort to avoid stimulating press speculation.”

READ MORE: Indonesia wrests control of huge copper mine from American firm

A November 1965 telegram from the US consulate in Surabaya to the US embassy in Jakarta said:  “We continue to receive reports [of] PKI being slaughtered by Ansor [a Muslim militia] many areas East Java. Killing of PKI continues in villages bordering Surabaya and wounded released from Surabaya refuse to return to their homes. According head East Java Railways, 5 stations closed because workers afraid to come to work since some of them have been murdered.”

The US embassy in Jakarta sent a cable marked ‘Secret to Washington DC in November, 1965, which read: “Meanwhile, both in the provinces and Djakarta, repression of the PKI continued, with the main problem that of what to feed and where to house the prisoners. Many provinces appear to be successfully meeting this problem by executing their PKI prisoners, or by killing them before they are captured.”

Another ‘Secret’ cable to Washington, DC from Embassy First Secretary Mary Louise Trent in December 1965, notes the “striking Army success” of its efforts to accumulate power.

[Anti-PKI violence] have now resulted in an estimated 100,000 PKI deaths. A reliable Balinese source informed the Embassy that PKI deaths on the island of Bali now total about 10,000 and include the parents and even distant relatives of crypto-Communist Governor Sutedja,” it read.

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Men detained in a raid on a gay sauna late on October 6 during a press conference in Jakarta. © Indonesian Police

The files document a time when tensions between the Indonesian army and the Indonesian Communist Party boiled over, resulting in an almighty ‘purging’ that killed hundreds of thousands of its citizens.

After seizing power over the Indonesian military in September 1965, General Suharto launched an army-sponsored massacre of the very large, but mostly unarmed PKI membership, citing reasons of “political contamination.” He would eventually topple Indonesia’s first President Sukarno, in 1967.  

According to a Yale University study, Suharto ordered an “absolutely essential cleaning out” of PKI’s followers and sympathizers “down to its very roots,” resulting in the killing of “50 to 100 PKI members” every night by civilian anti-communist groups with the army’s “blessing.”

The Australian embassy in Jakarta estimated that at one point there were “about 1,500 assassinations per day” and two confidential Western agencies agreed on “a total of about 400,000 killed.” However, a deputy US ambassador thought that the full toll could be much higher.

It’s estimated by the NSA research group that up to 500,000 alleged PKI supporters were killed between October 1965 to March 1966, and up to a million more imprisoned. Suharto ruled Indonesia until 1997.

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Messi pops pill from his sock before 100th European goal

By ethan / October 19, 2017

Barcelona striker Lionel Messi popped a pill hidden in his sock before striking his record-tying 100th European goal in a Champions League match against Olympiakos.

In the tenth minute of the match at Barca’s Camp Nou on Wednesday, Messi was caught by TV cameras pulling a tablet from his left sock, 

The Argentine put the pill into his mouth before resuming the game that ended 3-1 in favor of Barca.

The mystery tablet was later identified as glucose aimed to boost the player’s energy.

The deadlock was broken in 18th minute when defender of the visiting side Dimitrios Nikolaou directed the ball into his own net. Messi doubled Barcelona’s lead in the 61st minute to score his 100th goal in continental football events.

He became the second player after Cristiano Ronaldo to move past 100 goals in European competitions. It was his 97th goal registered in the Champions League, with the other three coming in the UEFA Super Cup.

Messi later assisted Lucas Digne to make the score 3-0, before Nikolaou headed a late consolation goal for Olympiakos.

The Spanish squad was reduced to ten players when Gerard Pique was sent off two minutes before half-time for receiving his second yellow card.

READ MORE: Dramatic videos of Messi’s hat-trick leading Argentina to World Cup 2018

This move, however, didn’t affect the outcome of the meeting between Barcelona and Olympiakos.

Barcelona now sit just one victory away from sealing a place in the Champions League knockout stages topping group D with nine points and unbeaten in this season’s Champions League campaign.

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Ruling-party lawmaker seeks life sentences for convicted pedophiles

By ethan / October 19, 2017

A working group of lawmakers headed by United Russia MP Irina Yarovaya has proposed the introduction of life sentences for sex crimes involving victims under the age of 12.

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Charged with numerous counts of child molesting including murder, Sergey Kutnyuk was sentenced by Sverdlovsk Region Court to life imprisonment. (RIA Novosti/Pavel Lysizin)

For the first time, we are proposing to make life sentences a punishment for sex crimes against children younger than 12,” Yarovaya said at a session of the working group on Thursday.

The Russian MP also spoke in support of changes to the Statute of Limitations in cases of crimes committed against children in order to increase the timeframe within which complaints can be made for the purpose of prosecution.

The bill prepared by the working group would also make an attempt to conceal sex crimes a separate crime, and would consider situations in which a suspect lives in the same home as their victim to be an aggravating factor in the crime.

In a speech before the working-group session, Yarovaya also said that criminal use of the internet was allowing offenders to commit crimes against a large number of potential victims at the same time.

Because of that, we made distribution of pornographic materials among children via internet and coercing underage citizens to engage in sex acts by means of the internet aggravating factors in our draft,” she said.

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Deputies attend a session of the Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament, in Moscow (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

Russian Ombudsman for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova supports the proposed changes to the Statute of Limitations.

The law must meet the challenges of our time. Unfortunately, some of the crimes that emerge today have been committed many years ago and it is not possible to punish the criminals,” she said.

The internet also “remains open” for pedophiles and called on lawmakers to take urgent action to address this situation, Kuznetsova added.

According to the Ombudsman, the number of sex crimes committed against children in Russia has increased from 8,000 to almost 12,000 in the past five years. She said that the current situation demanded immediate measures by lawmakers.

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