Britain needs to prepare for the possibility that no agreement will be reached with the EU on a Brexit deal, Reuters quoted Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as saying on Thursday. “The prime minister has made it very, very clear that we are going to get a deal, we are working for a great deal, but obviously we must make the right preparations as and when it is necessary for a no deal scenario,” he said. “Of course that’s the responsible thing to do and that’s what we are going to do,” Johnson added.
Prospective Russian governors exhibited their iron will by diving into the water from a seven-meter-high (23ft) cliff in Sochi in early October.
“It was good teambuilding,” Sergey Kiriyenko, first deputy head of the Presidential Administration, said of the stunt, as cited by Gazeta.ru.
Cliff jumping was part of the ‘canyoning’ program included in the Russian government’s nine-month training program for top regional officials.
Canyoning is an extreme discipline which sees the participants traversing canyons without the help of special floating devices.
“The trainees descended the mountain river, overcoming various obstacles, with jumping off a cliff among them…. It was a test of people’s behavior in stressful situations,” the press service of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, which was among the organizers of the training program, told RIA-Novosti.
According to Gazeta.ru, jumping of the cliff wasn’t obligatory, with some of the officials missing out on the Sochi stage of the training program due to their work schedule.
News outlet RBC has identified the head of the Federal Agency for Scientific Organizations, Mikhail Kotyukov, and Aleksandr Burkov, who was just appointed acting governor of the Omsk Region, among the people in the video.
The training program was organized for the first time this year, but Russian Presidential Academy said that “it’s going to become regular.”
It included lectures, individual consultations and physical activities as Moscow wants governors to improve their leadership and negotiation skills as well as teamwork abilities.
The Kremlin began a major reshuffle of governors in late September, already assigning new regional heads in the Republic of Dagestan, the regions of Samara, Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod, Omsk and elsewhere.
Researchers from Sweden’s Uppsala University examined garments uncovered at 9th and 10th-century burial sites. They found that what they thought were typical Viking Age patterns in silver bands and embroidered clothing, were actually Kufic characters invoking both ‘Allah’ and ‘Ali,’ two central figures in the Islamic faith.
Kufic, an ancient Arabic script dating back to the 7th century, appeared in Viking Age chamber graves and boat graves in areas around the capital Stockholm. Astonishingly, the same characters can also be found in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums in Central Asia.
Annika Larsson, researcher in textile archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University, believes that the presence of the Kufic characters at two different grave sites suggests that Viking funeral customs were influenced by Islam.
“Presumably, Viking Age burial customs were influenced by Islam and the idea of an eternal life in Paradise after death,” Larsson told the university’s website.
“Grave goods such as beautiful clothing, finely sewn in exotic fabrics, hardly reflect the deceased’s everyday life, just as little as the formal attire of our era reflects our own daily lives. The rich material of grave goods should rather be seen as tangible expressions of underlying values.”
Larsson’s earlier research highlighted the presence of Eastern silk in Scandinavia’s Viking Age grave sites.
In Valsgarde, a farm north of Gamla Uppsala, greater amounts of silk were found in the clothing of those buried there than wool and linen. Larsson believes this is indicative of an Islamic influence.
“In the Quran, it is written that the inhabitants of Paradise will wear garments of silk, which along with the text band’s inscriptions may explain the widespread occurrence of silk in Viking Age graves,” she said.
Speaking to Finnish national broadcaster Yle, Larsson hit back at negative reactions to the link between Islam and Scandinavians who wish to preserve the idea of their “pure” Nordic roots.
“The negative reactions have come from xenophobes, without any exceptions,” she said.
“It’s the Muslim connection that they find particularly disturbing. I do not want to go into what they say, but it’s not nice.”
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) followers have been widely sharing terrorism manuals which explain how to make bombs with household products.
Manuals made in 2013 are still being shared with titles such as “Make a bomb, in the kitchen of your mom.”
The manuals are written entirely in English and explain, with pictures, how to make explosives, nail bombs and pipe bombs to attack the public.
In the same groups, videos of at least one British railway station, Liverpool Lime Street, was shared.
The group, which RT will not name to protect the public, promotes attacks on citizens.
Reasons given for attacking innocent civilians far from war zones included increasing fear “when an assassin strikes in the enemy’s land.”
The matter-of-fact manuals are written out with step-by-step diagrams and instructions.
Wannabe jihadists are advised to carry out test runs using small amounts.
Instructions are carefully laid out and many carry pictures, showing the bombs being created, next to a advice such as “be careful” because “the first mistake can be the last.”
RT took the instructions to a chemist, who concluded they were correct, and would lead to the creation of explosives if followed correctly.
“Most of this could be attempted,” he said.
“Excluding the ****** stuff, that’s not for Joe public, it is too fiddly without blowing yourself up in the process.
“This is really simple chemistry. Most of what they have got here is chemically sound.”
However, the risks were not taken into account and the chemist warned some materials suggested, such as Potassium chlorate, would be extremely difficult to access in the UK.
Some described how to make bombs with acids and bleach readily available in the UK.
It is not clear how many of those in the group reside in the UK, due to the secretive nature of their communications.
However, footage of Liverpool Lime Street was shown in the group in September.
“They are not very clear what you would do with it so it would require someone working it out for themselves,” RT was told by a chemist.
“The most damage is about where, when and how it is used.”
The revelation comes just weeks after a similar device was used during the Parson’s Green Tube attack.
A fireball blew out of a bucket planted on a commuter train, injuring people around it.
The home-made Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was made using items described in the manuals being shared in jihadist groups, seen by RT.
Following the attack in Barcelona on August 17, when 13 people were killed on Las Ramblas, police discovered scores of gas canisters being collected by IS followers for an attack.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd recently announced plans to clamp down on people accessing jihadist material online.
However, the move could well be too little too late.
Online radicalization has been a problem for years, increasingly sharply, to the point that extreme content is easily accessed.
Home Office analysis shows IS followers have published almost 67,000 tweets in English, while YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and other social media sites are riddled with terrorist material.
Of those tweets, there were more than 44,000 directly leading to IS propaganda.
Proposed changes will apply to material “repeatedly” streamed online under the offence of possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
The act currently covers material downloaded and saved, printed or stored.
RT has passed its findings on to the police.
Earlier this year, eBay reported to US investors that its UK business made revenues of £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) in 2016.
But documents filed at Companies House show the firm’s main UK arm booked revenues of £200 million over the same period, according to the Financial Times. It made a profit of £7.7 million and paid £1.6 million of corporation tax.
With more than 14 million people trading on eBay.co.uk each month, that suggests a profit of 2.5p per person.
The division makes its money from advertising and marketing, while fees charged to users for website listings are instead booked through Luxembourg and Switzerland.
In the company’s US accounts, bosses said that deals struck with the authorities in these countries saved it £233 million last year.
Ebay told the Financial Times it was fully compliant with UK and international tax rules.
Speaking to the newspaper, UK tax barrister Jolyon Maugham hit out at the tax system, claiming it “only nods in passing to the activities taking place.”
“This is the same debate we have with Facebook, Google, Airbnb and Uber. To most people [these companies’ tax payments in Britain] are an outcome that feels counter-intuitive or grossly unfair,” he said.
“This illustrates how divorced our corporate tax system has become from the world in which it is supposed to operate.”
Labour MP Caroline Flint branded the figures “grossly unfair to UK-based businesses who pay their taxes and reject using profit-shifting or shell companies.”
The news comes as the European Commission this month announced it was taking Ireland to court for failing to collect £11 billion in back taxes from Apple.
The new executive order will increase competition, choice and access to healthcare for millions of Americans, while costing the US government “virtually nothing,” Trump said.
Introducing the president, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) called the executive order “the biggest free-market reform of healthcare in a generation.”
Vice President Mike Pence called it the “critical step to lower the cost of health insurance.”
Allowing people to buy insurance across state lines will create “tremendous competition,” Trump said, adding that “insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person to sign up,” and costs will go down as a result.
He said the new executive order would provide millions of Americans with relief from the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare.
Insurance costs “skyrocketed” under Obamacare, the president argued, saying people in Alaska saw their premiums go up 200 percent. One third of all counties in America have only a single insurer selling insurance on the Obamacare exchange, Trump said, adding that soon many will have none.
Several initiatives to repeal and replace Obamacare failed in the Republican-majority Senate, with several senators, including John McCain (R-Arizona) saying the replacement portion has not been properly thought through.
The executive order will expand access to so-called “association health plans” (AHP) – plans written by trade associations, small businesses and other groups. It wouldn’t allow these plans to base premiums on preexisting conditions, according to Fox News.
Trump also ordered to ease restrictions on short-term insurance policies, which Obamacare regulations limited to three months in duration, but his plan would expand to one year.
While proponents of the move see it as a way to bring down insurance costs, critics argue that ultimately it will raise costs for the sick.
Expanding AHPs and increasing short-term insurance policies could be detrimental to the current insurance market that complies with Obamacare regulations, Cori Uccello from the American Academy of Actuaries told Fox News. Healthy people could leave the market, turning it into a high-risk pool, she said.
“If a goal is to provide protections for people with preexisting conditions, this is a step in the wrong direction,” according to Uccello.
The changes will most likely have no effect on 2018 Obamacare premiums and will still need to go through the rule-making process, which could take several take months.
Jamie Harron, 27, faces up to three years imprisonment for allegedly touching Jordanian businessman Emad Tabaza’s hip while at the Rock Bottom Bar on July 15.
Harron, an electrician from Scotland, will face trial despite allegations against him being dropped by the claimant.
According to a spokesman for the technology firm Neumann & Esser, where Tabaza is managing director, the complainant decided to withdraw the allegations despite the “harassment,” but “laws in the country” mean the proceedings do not automatically come to an end.
“The reason why the suspect did not attend the hearing, as reported by the media, and should now be imprisoned is not known by us.
“Furthermore – if security had intervened correctly or the suspect had not behaved incorrectly – this complaint would never have arisen.”
Harron, who has already been handed a 30-day jail sentence for public drinking and making a rude gesture, has lost his job because of the case and has spent over £32,000 in expenses and legal fees trying to resolve the matter.
According to the campaign organization Detained in Dubai (DiD), the Scot admitted to public drunkenness but denied allegations of having made a rude gesture or public indecency.
Following his arrest in July, Harron was jailed for five days before being released on bail and having his passport confiscated.
He released a voice clip, saying: “My lawyers have put an objection in against my 30-day prison sentence issued in my absentia that me and my lawyer didn’t even know about in the first place.
“I hope it can be sorted out, but I didn’t think it would have already gone on so long in the first place.
“I’ve lost my job, I’m in debt now and I may be going to prison. All this for a two-day stopover. It’s just unbelievable, I’m still in shock that it’s actually happened.”
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “We have been in contact with a British man following his arrest in Dubai in July.
“We are providing consular assistance.”
The public indecency case will be heard in court on October 22.
Despite receiving a one-month jail term, Harron is not currently in custody.
Footage from the chaotic scene showed two groups of demonstrators clash in Plaza de Cataluna on Thursday before local police arrived on the scene to separate the demonstrators.
The Spanish unionists rallied against Catalonian independence as the country celebrates Spain’s National Day.
The protesters threw chairs back and forth as the sounds of smashed glass and sirens rang out in the background.
A separate protest of around 200 far-right supporters and Spanish nationalist groups went uninterrupted as it ended on Barcelona’s Montjuic hill with speeches and the burning of a “Senyera” – the unofficial flag that has become a symbol for Catalonian separatists.
“Sects are a very dangerous environment. The legislation on this subject needs to be corrected. We are now preparing proposals how to protect our citizens. Unfortunately, at present moment not a single region in the country is without such sects,” RIA Novosti quoted Senator Elena Mizulina as saying on Thursday.
She said that the bill would be prepared in cooperation with government experts and presented to the lower house before November 30.
Mizulina noted that many of the destructive sects arrived in Russia from foreign countries and that not all of them presented themselves as religious groups – some acted as various leadership courses and the like.
“By using various psycho-techniques these sects are defrauding our citizens of their property. In very widespread cases the sects attempt to manipulate the people’s conscience,” she said.
According to the upper house’s working group for countering the threat of destructive sects, about 500 such groups are currently active in Russia.
In 2012, President Vladimir Putin urged the government to toughen the laws governing the activities of the totalitarian cults cropping up across the country. Totalitarian religious groups pose a threat to the society and people, he said: “It’s a hunt not only for souls, but also people’s property.”
Shortly before this, a reclusive Muslim sect had been discovered in Russia’s Tatarstan. Over 70 people, including 27 children, spent a decade in an eight-level catacomb without access to education, healthcare or daylight. In 2007, a similar story was uncovered in Russia’s Penza region, shocking the entire country: Nearly 30 cultists dug a shelter, stocked it with food and spent several months waiting for the apocalypse, which they expected to happen in May 2008.
In February 2016, he State Duma announced that its members had started preparing a bill to protect citizens from destructive sects, but this initiative has not taken the form of a concrete legislative draft.
In August this year, the Justice Ministry listed the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious group as a banned extremist organization. This happened after a lengthy court process that had been started because some members of this group had endangered the life of their children by refusing to allow blood transfusions – which is in line with Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs.
Russian law currently allows religious groups to form, including both those that require no official registration and legal formation and ones that should be officially registered. The sects are allowed to stage any activities if they don’t violate existing laws.
Between 300 and 400 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) extremists remain in their one-time Syrian bastion of Raqqa, where a Kurdish-Arab force is fighting to seize full control, the US-led coalition said Thursday. “We are looking at approximately 4,000 civilians who remain in Raqqa, and a matter of 300-400 remaining [IS] fighters,” coalition spokesman US Colonel Ryan S. Dillon told reporters in Baghdad. The Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, have taken control of around 90 percent of the city from IS since they entered it in June.