Recalls: bicycles, children’s rompers

DETAILS: Rural King’s electric heated blankets and throws. Model numbers starting with BLV-OB and ending in 200, 201A, 201B, 201C, 202, 202BN, 202CM, 203, 204A1, 204A2, 204A3, 204A2BR, 204A2CM, 205B1, 205B2, 205B3 or 206C1 can be found on a corner tag. Matton Rural King Supply Inc. is printed on the back of the tag. They were sold at Rural King stores nationwide and at from October 2017 through December 2017.

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Witchcraft & possession linked to UK child abuse as experts fear cases will skyrocket

Government statistics have shown 1,500 potential abuse cases had links to belief in possession and witchcraft.

“These beliefs are very real and on occasion people are going to take this to extremes where a child can be murdered,” Inspector Allen Davis, who leads the Metropolitan Police’s response to the issue, told the Independent.

“There are a number of ways that an adult will try to rid the child of the evil they believe is within them. They might try to burn it out, cut it out, strangle it out, drowning can be involved, or starving and beating.”

Within Britain there are a number of communities with a “genuine belief” in possession and witchcraft. High-profile cases have emerged in recent years, including the killing of Kristy Bamu and Ayesha Ali.

Bamu, 15, was found dead in 2010 after staying with his sister Magalie Bamu and her partner Eric Bikubi, who were obsessed with witchcraft. He was starved for days and beaten with hammers, floor tiles and bottles for wetting his pants and “spelling” his siblings. He drowned in the bath on Christmas Day during a “cleansing” ritual.

Polly Chowdhury and lesbian lover Kiki Muddar killed Ayesha Ali, eight, in August 2013. The pair believed she was possessed by the devil and forced her to endure beatings and abuse. She was found dead in her room in Chadwell Heath, east London, after a fatal blow to the head but evidence of bite marks and other abuse were found on her body.

Dr Lisa Oakley, chair of the National Working Group for Child Abuse Linked to Faith or Belief, told the Independent: “We know these practices are occurring so we want to be acting now so we don’t have another high-profile case.

“You’ve then got a child who is severely damaged or not here anymore, and that’s a high price to pay. We’re saying we don’t want to get to a point where there is another high-profile case.”

Inspector Davis stated that “this is not a black African problem,” stressing that the issue “is far broader.”

“The beliefs in witchcraft and spirit possession are very broad and go across a far larger swath of the world than you would expect,” he said. “These beliefs are common within both Christianity and Islam and we get victims from both.”

Evidence suggests that areas of Africa are affected by it but 1,460 potential cases found in the 2017/2018 Children in Need Census were branded an “underestimate” by some experts, who said the practices and signs are simply not identified by neighbors and people in authority positions.

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Jeremy Corbyn: Body snatcher, weather-wrecker, hamster-eater — Twitter reacts to smear campaign

According to the Sun, Corbyn was passing information to communist Czechoslovakian agents in the 80s. Former Czechoslovak spy Jan Sarkocy (or Dymic) claims the now-Labour leader — and at least 15 other Labour figures — passed information on to the Soviet Union.

Labour sources have vehemently denied the allegations, stating that the claims were “entirely false” and insisting Sarkocy/Dymic has “no credibility at all.”

A representative for Corbyn called the story a “smear,” adding: “Like other MPs, Jeremy has met diplomats from many countries. In the 1980s he met a Czech diplomat, who did not go by the name of Jan Dymic, for a cup of tea in the House of Commons.

“Jeremy neither had nor offered any privileged information to this or any other diplomat.”

Some are questioning the Sun’s ‘expose’ – just because he met with a seeming diplomat does not mean he was colluding with spies… perhaps the story was in need of a fact Czech.

However, this is not the first time Corbyn has faced some far-fetched accusations — here’s the latest (and best) rumors swirling about the Labour leader.

Corbyn and the ‘war criminal’ 

Here we can see Corbyn photographed with a “war criminal”… aka former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Blair has been accused of inciting war crimes for triggering the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war, deliberately using bogus intel to rush into combat. According to a YouGov poll in August 2017, 33 percent of respondents said the former Labour leader “knowingly misled Parliament and the public” and should therefore be prosecuted as a “war criminal.”

Corbyn and the weather 

According to Meteorologist and Chief Scientist of Ryan Maue, there’s a storm a-brewin’.

“Next 2 weeks will see brutal winter conditions across much of Europe,” Maue reports.
“Cold temperatures and snowfall along the Mediterranean as strong easterly flow from Russian Arctic arrives… blame -NAO, the stratosphere #PolarVortex split, and the calendar.”

Maue forgot one more to point the finger at though… Jeremy Corbyn. Luckily, Twitter user Neil Russell was there to correct him.

Corbyn and the body thief

Not only will he ruin the weather, divulge your private information on what you had for breakfast, lunch, dinner and tomorrow’s planned outfit (no, really: Apparently this was the information Corbyn was feeding to Russia about Margaret Thatcher during his time as a backbencher in the 80s). On top of that, now Jeremy Corbyn will swipe your sweet physique.

In a picture to rival that of ex-Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s actual body (see above), Corbyn’s head appears to have been photoshopped onto the body of some babe. We aren’t complaining.

Corbyn and the hamster 

Not a recent accusation, but definitely a weird one that deserves mention. According to (satirical) news site Daily Squat in 2015, good old Corbs got a little peckish at one of Tony Blair’s dinner parties and ate Tony Blair’s hamster.
Now the story has come back to life, with a fake front page of the Sun circulating on Twitter.

Corbyn and the cannabis

Stop the presses people — not only will he steal your body and tell the Russians all about it, now Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is also a drug addict. This probably explains why he’s been up to so many kooky shenanigans lately.

Admittedly, this one may not have stemmed from the allegations made against Corbyn — but it was too good not to include. Seems like #CorbynSmear is here to stay.

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Bitcoin surging higher after mystery trader buys $344mn in cryptocurrency

On Sunday, its price rose to $11,328 following news that an unknown investor had bought $344 million worth of bitcoin between February 9 and February 12. The purchase was preceded by a huge sell-off that had erased more than 50 percent of the cryptocurrency market value amid speculation of growing regulation and security fears.

Bitcoin fell from $20,000 in December to below $6,000 on February 4. However, after the news of the huge buy, other investors poured money into crypto-assets.

“Not sure who that big buyer was but many have bought this dip and have added since the rebound and additional regulatory clarity in the US and Asia,” Alex Sunnarborg, founding partner of Tetras Capital said, as quoted by Marketwatch.

More than 80 percent of cryptocurrencies from Coinmarketcap’s 100 list were trading higher on Monday. Vitalik Buterin, founder of ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency and the largest platform for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), has warned that digital money remains a very risky asset.

“Reminder: cryptocurrencies are still a new and hyper-volatile asset class, and could drop to near-zero at any time. If you’re trying to figure out where to store your life savings, traditional assets are still your safest bet,” Buterin wrote on Twitter.

Historical data suggests that total search volumes of “buy bitcoin” is three times more popular than “buy gold” was during the financial crisis of 2008, when people rushed to buy gold in an attempt to save their cash.

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

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Flash dance: Costume malfunction leaves French Olympic figure skaters red-faced (PHOTOS)

The clasp at the neckline of the skater’s dress came off just several seconds into the pair’s short dance performance, meaning the couple spent the rest of the time concentrating on keeping the top from falling down, rather than pulling off the technical elements of their routine.

Despite Papadakis’ efforts to prevent further embarrassment, her left breast was exposed at the end of the program with millions of people watching the incident as the competition was broadcast live on TV.

“It was pretty distracting, kind of my worst nightmare happening at the Olympics,” Papadakis said.

“I told myself, ‘I don’t have a choice. I have to keep going,’ and that’s what we did. I think we can be proud of ourselves being able to deliver a great performance with that happening.”

The French couple managed to complete their short dance and remarkably received the second best score from the judges, who placed them two points behind the reigning world champions and current leaders Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

Papadakis and Cizeron, who claimed their fourth straight European title a month ago, are making their Olympic debut in PyeongChang with hopes to win the first ice dance medal for France since 2002, when Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat took gold at the Salt Lake City Olympics.

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48 Hours In: Thessaloniki

Travel Essentials

Why go now?

Greece’s relaxed and profoundly historic second city is both the gateway to some fascinating parts of northern Greece and a worthwhile destination in its own right. Thessaloniki is more accessible from Britain this summer – with easyJet’s new route from Manchester offering excellent weekend connections to add to the existing services from London.

Touch down

The main airline is easyJet (0843 104 5000;, with five weekly flights from Gatwick and two from Manchester. BA (0844 493 0787; competes from Gatwick four times a week, while Ryanair (0871 246 0000; flies thrice weekly from Stansted. The airport is 15km south-east of the city.

Bus 78, an express service, departs from the airport every half-hour or so, covering the 30-minute journey to town for a reasonable €0.80. If you don’t want to wait for a direct bus, then take the next one to Ikea (Greek for Ikea, the homeware store) and change to any northbound bus; €0.90 including transfer.Buses run to the main railway station (1), calling at several stops in the city centre. Returning to the airport, the city’s complicated one-way system and building works for the new Metro mean it is difficult to find the right stops – locate the most convenient one before you need to head home.

Get your bearings

Thessaloniki sprawls around an arc of coastline at the top of the Thermaic Gulf. The main area of interest to visitors is along the shore between the ferry port (2) and the city’s emblem, the White Tower (3), and in the area that rises inland from here to the ancient city walls.

The city is walkable, with cheap buses and efficient taxis offering respite from the heat.

Official tourist information is a problem, especially at weekends; the main tourist office (4) on Tsimiski opens only 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, while the kiosk (5) in Aristotle Square looks permanently abandoned. Only the airport tourist office opens on Saturdays (9am-2pm).

Check in

The best address in town is the five-star Electra Palace Hotel (6), with a commanding presence over Aristotle Square (00 30 2310 294 000; Summer rates online are outstanding value, with opulent doubles for €110 including an ample buffet breakfast.

A seafront alternative with boutique style and superb views across the gulf can be found at the Daios (7) at 59 Nikis Avenue (00 30 2310 250 200; Chic doubles are available for €115 to €135, with breakfast and complimentary mini-bar.

For three-star, old-school hospitality in a good location, opt for the Hotel Luxembourg (8) at 6 Komninon Street (00 30 2310 252 600;; €80 doubles with breakfast.


Day One

Cultural morning

Start early at the 34m-high White Tower (3), where no more than 75 visitors are allowed at any one time (8.30am-3pm daily except Monday, free). Its present name arose in the 19th century when a convict whitewashed the tubby 15th-century fortification in return for freedom. It has now reverted to its original honey-coloured stone. Nearby, the splendid archaeological museum (9) at 6 Manoli Andronikou Street (00 30 2310 830 538;; 8am-3pm daily; €6) is also best seen early before the crowds. The grounds are strewn with classical fragments and elegant sarcophagi, while inside are finds from the Royal Tombs at Vergina, 80km south-west of Thessaloniki. The pottery and jewellery are particularly fine.

For a couple of euros more, you can buy a combination ticket that includes the adjacent Museum of Byzantine Culture (10) (same hours), which has some notable icons.

Window shopping

The main shopping street is Tsimiski, with the Plateia Mall (11) at the centre. For specialist and independent stores, browse Smyrnis Street (12), where original crafts and charms are on sale in 7wishes at No 7 (00 30 2310 227 117), and cutting-edge design in the 2nd FLooR architectural showroom (00 30 2310 266 931;, confusingly displayed in its ground-floor shop.

The main city market is Modiano (13), which sprawls across a couple of city blocks and is full of life until around noon from Monday to Saturday.

Lunch on the run

You can put together a picnic at the market (13), or opt to join the queue at a Thessaloniki institution: Papadosiako (14), on the corner of Tsimiski and Aristotle. It serves wraps, sandwiches and sweet cakes – plus excellent ice-cream.

Take a view

Even if you are not staying at the Electra Palace Hotel (6), you can go to the top floor for a coffee in the open-air roof terrace – with views across the gulf as far as Mount Olympus on a clear day. Not all of

Thessaloniki’s many fine views are from high altitude: for a sea-level prospect, walk east to the port (2) and look inland to the urban embroidery draped across the hills.

Take a hike

From the ferry port (2) head inland – pausing to see if the waterside Olympic Museum is open (hours are erratic). Head away from the sea along the café-strewn street of Katouni (15) and through the narrow lanes of the old Turkish quarter around Vilara (16). Aim south-east along Ermou, with some handsome mid-20th-century structures, to Agia Sofia (17) – an always-busy church with 8th-century roots and a fabulous dome.

An aperitif

Proto Patoma (18) occupies the first floor of an Art Nouveau building at Tsimiski 19 (00 30 2310 223 331; For a swift ouzo in the company of locals playing dominoes, try Café Diogenis (19) just off Agiou Dimitriou.

Dining with the locals

Thessaloniki has lots of great-value restaurants. One of the best locations is Mangio (20), on the corner of Nikis and Smyrnis (00 30 2310 263 730). The upstairs terrace faces south-west, so you can take in the last of the sun while enjoying good taverna fare.


Day Two

Sunday morning: go to church

Start the day at the viewing platform at the Kastra (21), the ancient citadel, which you can reach on bus 22 to Tsitsania or bus 23 to Platanos. From here, the city unravels beneath you towards the sea.

Walk west beside the wall to the first theological location of the day: the Vlatadon Monastery (22), with a tiny chapel (7.30 -11am and 5.30-8pm) amid modern structures.

Then head downhill, following the sporadic signs to the Temple of Osios David (23), open 9am-noon and 6pm-8pm daily (but not Sunday evenings). Peek inside to see the vivid 12th-century frescos.

A walk in the park

Keep heading downhill towards through the straggle of lanes. The father of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, was born in Thessaloniki before the wholesale population transfers that saw many Turks and Greeks change places. His birthplace is the well-guarded Turkish Consulate (24) at Agiou Dimitriou 151. It is closed for renovations, but you can visit the gardens.

Walking straight towards the sea, you encounter a couple more open spaces: the vast Rotunda (25), shaded by trees, and the tiny Church of St Panteleimon (26) that stands in a pretty garden in the city.

Out to brunch

Over at the port (2), the exuberant Kitchen Bar (00 30 2310 502 241) serves salads, grilled meat and elaborate desserts all day, every day, at outdoor tables that line the quayside.

Take a ride

One of Greece’s more unusual transportational phenomena is Thessaloniki’s free harbour cruise. Frequently through the day and evening, motor boats dolled up in the manner of ancient triremes, depart from the waterside adjacent to the White Tower (3) for one-hour tours of the harbour. The understanding is that you will buy a drink or two during the voyage; coffee is €3, a glass of wine €6.

Icing on the cake

Where other cities have ordinary squares, Thessaloniki has two astonishing sets of ancient ruins planted in the middle of the city. To the north, the foundations of the Roman Agora (27) fill Dikastirion Square; 1km to the south in Navarinou Square (28), the Arch of Galerius, celebrates victory over the Persians in 279AD – and is planted amid the ruins of a palace. Opening hours are short (8am to 3pm, Monday and Thursday only), but you need not get close up for the sense of antiquity enduring so spectacularly amid modernity.

Click here to view Greek tours and holidays, with Independent Holidays.

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Drunk woman takes amazing photographs of kebab shop staff

Whether you go for a kebab, cheesy chips or chicken nuggets, there’s nothing like end-of-the-night-out food.

When it’s 3am and you’re drunk, most of us crave greasy, salty, delicious carbs – even if we don’t always remember what we ate the following day. (Unless our meal decides to make an unfortunate reappearance.)

One woman, however, last weekend managed to capture her drunken kebab shop visit for posterity by conducting an impromptu photoshoot with the eatery’s staff.

Moya Lothian-McLean, a journalist based in London, ended her Saturday night at Ali Baba’s in Dalston.

Despite not remembering even going there the next day, when she woke up she found “a full photoset” from the kebab shop.

Lothian-McLean, 22, explained to The Independent that she had “absolutely no recollection” of taking the photos.

“I woke up the next day and read a message from my friend who complimented me on my ‘good kebab pics,’” she said. “I had no idea what he was talking about until I opened Instagram and saw I’d uploaded a full-on shoot. 

“I usually always remember my nights, however messy, so I was pretty shocked I’d managed to delete such a huge chunk from my memory but found it really funny, especially because they were actually decent photos.”

Featuring photos of the staff giving thumbs-ups to the camera and handing over the kebabs, many people have remarked on the incredible quality of the photos.

“These are amazing,” one person wrote.

“This is like something from a national geographic article,” added another. 

“This is bloody majestic,” someone else agreed. 

Lothian-McLean says she even surprised herself by the quality of the pictures. “When I found the pics, I couldn’t stop laughing – they’re good! If someone else had taken them, I’d be retweeting them for sure. I’m just annoyed I don’t seem to show that kind of talent when 100 per cent sober.”

Many asked what phone Lothian-McLean had used, to which she replied: “Google Pixel 2 XL! The camera is INSANE”.

Others suggested she expand the project into a series which could involve chippies, pizza joints and curry houses.

Some people noticed how willing the staff clearly were to get involved, which can’t be said for every employee at a late night fast food establishment. 

“The kebab guys were the Ali Baba boys in Dalston who are usually up for everything,” Lothian-McLean added. 

“The photos seem to show they weren’t too perturbed by an idiot shoving a phone in their faces and they always remember their customers, so I wasn’t some complete random to them. They call me ‘chips with cheese’ because I always get that.”

And Lothian-McLean says she never expected the pictures to garner such a huge reaction on Twitter: “I thought people might like them but I never expected them to spread so wide. It’s the kebab factor – big up the bossmen who are there for us through thick and thin.”

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Britons eating 50% more calories than they realise, reveals study

Britons are consuming 50 per cent more calories than they think they are, according to new research from the Office for National Statistics. 

Men typically consume 1,000 more calories a day than they believe and women eat roughly 800 extra calories more, with estimates becoming less reliable the more people eat, the study showed.

Analysis of the National Diet and Nutrition survey revealed 79 per cent of the 4,500 respondents claimed to be eating less than the requirement for their age and sex. 

It found people are eating the equivalent of an extra Big Mac a day, with men consuming 3,119 calories and not the 2,065 they claim. Women consumed 2,393 calories instead of 1,570. 

The study followed 200 people using the “gold standard” monitoring technique for calorie intake.

Researchers used the doubly labelled water (DLW) method which requires participants to drink water with isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen inside, allowing for a more precise analysis of energy expenditure over 24 hours. 

Overall, the study found self-reported calorie estimates were 32 per cent lower than DLW measures. 

It comes as Public Health England (PHE) demands a “calorie-cap” on supermarket ready meals and fast food dishes.

The suggested ruling, which may come into effect in March, would limit breakfasts to 400 calories and lunches and dinners to 600 each.

The plan is intended to combat rising levels of obesity in the UK, with the latest NHS figures showing more than half of the British population as overweight or obese – 65 per cent of men and 58 per cent of women. 

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Report: Australia discussing alternative to China’s ‘Belt and Road’

Feb. 19 (UPI) — China’s “Belt and Road” initiative to build economic networks around the globe may be being challenged in Australia.

Canberra is in discussions with the United States, India and Japan with regards to an alternative “Belt and Road,” the Australian Financial Review reported Sunday.

But politicians in Australia could be divided over whether or not to join Beijing’s gigantic multi-billion dollar infrastructure project.

Australia’s opposition Labor politicians have said they are ready to participate in China’s plans, and join the “increased embrace of Asia,” according to AFR.

Nearly 70 countries have already signaled an interest in joining China, including New Zealand and several European countries.

Australia’s caution could be being encouraged by the United States, which wants to make investments that actually work, according to the Australian press report.

“China might build a port which, on its own is not economically viable. We could make it economically viable by building a road or rail line linking that port,” AFR’s U.S. government source said.

Japan, one of the four nations who agreed to restore the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue that excludes China, has long been suspicious of Chinese motives.

Experts in Japan warn the Chinese military could expand with the Beijing’s network that include plans to build a “Polar Silk Road,” the South China Morning Post recently reported.

“It is an open secret that the Chinese have long wanted to use the Arctic Ocean for military purposes,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University. “It would be naive for anyone to think they are purely motivated by economic considerations because they used a similar rationale to seize the South China Sea islands.”

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Celtics’ Irving breaks out behind-the-back dribble

Feb. 19 (UPI) — Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving was back in his bag of tricks, pulling off a stellar dribble at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game.

He did so while guarded by Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Irving bounced the ball with his left hand in the first half, just outside of the 3-point line on the left side of the court. He brought the ball out wide, looking like he was about to crossover behind his back. Irving even pushed his right hand back to sell the move.

Instead of firing the ball to his other hand, Irving turned his left hand around the basketball and dribbled straight down on his left side, momentarily fooling the Greek Freak. Irving then ran around Antetokounmpo. But the Greek Freak caught up and knocked the ball out of bounds.

Irving scored 13 points and had nine assists in Team LeBron’s 148-145 win against Team Stephen. Cleveland Cavaliers star and team captain LeBron James won MVP honors, posting 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Sunday marked Irving’s fifth All-Star appearance.

The Celtics star also flashed his sick handles against Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and Houston Rockets star James Harden.

While the dribbles were pretty, one of Irving’s biggest plays of the night came on an assist to James.

Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook dribbled into the paint with 38 seconds remaining in the game and his team trailing 145-144. Before reaching the rim, Westbrook faked a pass to James and fired a feed to Irving, who was driving on the baseline. Irving caught the ball and fired it back to James for the go-ahead lay-up.

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