Daily News, via SOTT.net aggregation.

Philadelphia forced to abolish civil asset forfeiture - must pay back victims the millions it stole from them

Philadelphia forced to abolish civil asset forfeiture - must pay back victims the millions it stole from them

The innocent family that had their home seized by police through civil asset forfeiture fought back, and their victory will affect other residents for years to come. The city that has gained a reputation for the egregious civil asset forfeiture practices committed by its police department, will now be forced to dismantle the program altogether, as a result of a lawsuit filed by a family who had their home seized by police after their son was accused of a minor drug crime. Residents who have been harmed by the Philadelphia Police department's civil asset forfeiture practices could also receive part of $3 million in compensation. Markela and Chris Sourovelis initially filed a lawsuit in 2014 after their son was caught trying to sell $40 in heroin on the street.

"Ashamed and afraid": EU delegation chairman slams Israel for barring them entry to Gaza

"Ashamed and afraid": EU delegation chairman slams Israel for barring them entry to Gaza

Israel on Tuesday denied a European Parliament (EP) delegation access to the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to an official EP statement. "The Israeli authorities have once again refused the EP's Delegation for Relations with Palestine permission to enter the Gaza Strip," the statement read. The delegation, it added, had requested permission to enter the strip as part of a three-day planned mission to the Palestinian territories. Stating that the purpose of the visit was "to monitor the humanitarian situation caused by a decade of blockade", the statement asserted that Israel had barred successive EP delegations from entering Gaza since 2011.

Ten years after the crash, we've learned nothing

Ten years after the crash, we've learned nothing

Ten years ago, on Saturday, September 13th, 2008, the world was about to end. The New York Federal Reserve was a zoo. Imagine NASA headquarters on the day a giant asteroid careens into the atmosphere. That was the New York Fed: all hands on deck, peak human panic. The crowd included future Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then-Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Hank Paulson, the representatives of multiple regulatory offices, and the CEOs of virtually every major bank in New York, each toting armies of bean counters and bankers. The asteroid metaphor fit. In the twin collapses of top-five investment bank Lehman Brothers and insurance giant AIG, Wall Street saw a civilization-imperiling ball of debt hurtling its way.

Syrian army forces find Israeli-made medicine in militant field hospital in Quneitra

Syrian army forces find Israeli-made medicine in militant field hospital in Quneitra

Syrian government forces have uncovered a considerable amount of Israeli-made medicine and medical supplies in a field hospital belonging to foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the country's strategic southwestern province of Quneitra. Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria's official news agency, SANA, that army soldiers made the discovery in the village of Bariqa on Wednesday as they were combing the area for hidden ordinance and improvised explosive devices, which Takfiri militants had planted there. The report added that the hospital had modern CT scan, X-ray medical imaging machines, laboratory equipment and a pharmacy containing various types of antibiotics, vaccines and painkillers.

India prepares $2.2 billion Russian frigate purchase

India prepares $2.2 billion Russian frigate purchase

India has cleared the way for its biggest deal yet with Russia, with Delhi reportedly set to sign a deal to purchase $2.2 billion worth of Russian ships. It comes despite US sanctions aimed at deterring business with Moscow. After revitalizing defense ties with the US earlier this month, India has now turned to Russia to acquire four new warships for its Navy, sources quoted by the Economic Times said. The deal is expected to be signed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Delhi on October 5. The deal will see India acquiring advanced Talwar-class frigates, also known as Project 11356 frigates.

Explained: Manafort's mysterious Israeli connection and everything we know so far

Explained: Manafort's mysterious Israeli connection and everything we know so far

How did Israel get involved in the plea deal Paul Manafort signed with special counsel Robert Mueller? And how is Russian President Vladimir Putin related to this affair? Your guide to the controversial case... Paul Manafort is an international political consultant and lobbyist who managed the election campaign of U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016. At the end of last week he signed a plea bargain in which he is expected to serve as a key witness in the affair of the suspicions of Russian involvement in that election in Trump's favor. So how is all that now connected to Israel? In the indictment in which he confessed as part of the plea bargain with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, there is also mention of Manafort's lobbying activity for former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, who was the pro-Russian candidate in the country's 2012 election. According to the document, Manafort worked at the time to smear the image of Yanukovych's rival Yulia Tymoshenko, in order to undermine the support for her by the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Jonathan Cook: Why we're blind to the system destroying us

Jonathan Cook: Why we're blind to the system destroying us

I rarely use this blog to tell readers what they should believe. Rather I try to indicate why it might be wise to distrust, at least without very good evidence, what those in power tell us we should believe. We have well-known sayings about power: "Knowledge is power", and "Power tends to corrupt, while absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely." These aphorisms resonate because they say something true about how we experience the world. People who have power - even very limited power they hold on licence from someone else - tend to abuse it, sometimes subtly and unconsciously, and sometimes overtly and wilfully. If we are reasonably self-aware, we can sense the tendency in ourselves to exploit to our advantage whatever power we enjoy, whether it is in our dealings with a spouse, our children, a friend, an employee, or just by the general use of our status to get ahead. This isn't usually done maliciously or even consciously. By definition, the hardest thing to recognise are our own psychological, emotional and mental blind spots - and the biggest, at least for those born with class, gender or race privileges, is realising that these too are forms of power. Nonetheless, these are all minor forms of power compared to the power wielded collectively by the structures that dominate our societies: the financial sector, the corporations, the media, the political class, and the security services.

Here's what the Putin-Erdogan deal means for idlib

Here's what the Putin-Erdogan deal means for idlib

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Sochi Sept. 17 for what was initially seen as a final showdown over Idlib. The situation in the northern Syian province has been in the spotlight of all Middle East watchers for well over a month, with escalations between the two sides threatening a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Al-Monitor reported on earlier efforts between Russian and Turkish diplomats as well as military and intelligence officials to work out a "peaceful scenario" for Idlib, but it took a meeting between the two presidents to reach the agreement on a buffer zone. In fact, the Sochi meeting was the third personal encounter between the two presidents over the last three weeks. "There is a lot to discuss and some issues are complicated. I am glad to see you, to be able to exchange opinions on this whole set of issues, and to search for solutions to matters still unresolved," Putin noted in his opening remarks.

Russian Defense Chief: New security system for Idlib de-escalation zone in progress

Russian Defense Chief: New security system for Idlib de-escalation zone in progress

Work on a new security system in the Syrian Idlib de-escalation zone began on Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a ministry board meeting. "Our Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Mr. Erdogan held talks yesterday as part of efforts to resolve the situation in the Syrian Idlib de-escalation zone. The talks also involved defense ministers, foreign ministers and general staff chiefs," he said. "Following long negotiations, the parties agreed on a decision, which makes it possible for us to say that the construction of a new security system in the Idlib de-escalation zone begins today," Shoigu added. He pointed out that a memorandum on stabilizing the situation in Idlib, signed by Russia and Turkey, "implies that by October 10, heavy weapons must be withdrawn from the demilitarized zone, which will be 15 to 20 kilometers wide. In addition, all the radical groups will have to leave the zone by October 15. That includes the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State terror group - TASS], Jabhat al-Nusra [both outlawed in Russia - TASS] and those on the United Nations' list of terrorist organizations," the Russian defense chief said.

Trump slams Sessions: 'I don't have an attorney-general!'

Trump slams Sessions: 'I don't have an attorney-general!'

US President Donald Trump has once again criticized Jeff Sessions, telling The Hill in an exclusive interview that he "doesn't have an attorney-general" and that he's "very disappointed" with Sessions. "I don't have an attorney-general. It's very sad." Trump told Hill. TV in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office on Tuesday. He went on to say that he "didn't see" what was coming when he nominated Sessions for the role. "I'm so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be attorney-general, and I didn't see it," he said. In true Trump fashion, he then went on to state that Sessions performed "very poorly" in the nominating process. "...I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered. And that was a rough time for him."

British government report says US is currently winning the trade war with China

British government report says US is currently winning the trade war with China

China has already declared its intent to retaliate against US President Donald Trump's new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, a move set to raise prices on consumer goods for both countries. Several analysts have demonstrated how Trump's tariffs will blowback on the US economy. Moody's Investment Service previously warned that the tariffs would reduce US GDP [growth] by 0.25 percent in 2019, to about 2.3 percent. The American economy could take an even bigger hit if Trump proceeds with tariffs on $200 bn worth of Chinese products, Moody's warned. But whatever the impact on the American economy, an assessment by the British government's Foreign Office (FCO) confirms that China's stock market has indeed taken a direct hit from Trump's tariffs, that so far is much worse than anything the US has experienced.

Just one more? Trump considers permanent US military base in Poland, Warsaw 'likes it very much'

Just one more? Trump considers permanent US military base in Poland, Warsaw 'likes it very much'

US President Donald Trump is eyeing a permanent military presence in Poland, saying the country "likes the idea very much." Warsaw had stated earlier it was ready to pay up to $2 billion to have a US military base on its soil. "Poland is willing to make a very major contribution to the United States to come in and have a presence in Poland, and certainly it's something we'll discuss," Trump said on Tuesday while speaking at the White House before meeting his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda. Poland "likes the idea very much," according to Trump, who has been looking at the prospect of putting a permanent military base in Poland "very seriously." Duda's statements at the Tuesday briefing indicate Warsaw is indeed more than eager to have a permanent US base on their soil. "Ladies and gentlemen, I was smiling when talking to Mr. President. I said that I would very much like for us to set up a permanent American base in Poland, which we would call 'Fort Trump' and I firmly believe that this is possible," Duda said, after expressing hope that Trump "will make a decision to deploy to Poland more US units together with equipment."

Trump: US to sharply cut refugee admissions

Trump: US to sharply cut refugee admissions

President Donald Trump's administration has proposed sharply cutting the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year to 30,000. The announcement, made on September 17 by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, came despite calls from humanitarian groups that the 2018 cap of 45,000 was already too low. Trump's administration has consistently voiced opposition to accepting refugees and other immigrants, which has helped drive refugee admissions to their lowest level in a decade. The new figure will go into effect October 1. "The improved refugee policy of this administration serves the national interest of the United States and expands our ability to help those in need all around the world," Pompeo said in a statement. By comparison, the administration of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, allowed in 85,000 refugees in its final year in office.

Erdogan's talking 'Turkey not America' in his crackdown on USD in favor of lira

Erdogan's talking 'Turkey not America' in his crackdown on USD in favor of lira

There is no economic crisis in Turkey, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey will extend the use of the domestic currency, the lira, as a substitute for the US dollar, he said. "Don't believe in this crisis. We don't have such a thing. These are all [part of a] manipulation," Erdogan said Wednesday. "This is Turkey, not the United States," he said. "You rent your store and shop with Turkish liras here. Otherwise you will pray a price." The lira has lost more than 40 percent of its value since the beginning of the year, which has stirred a number of economic difficulties in the country. Inflation is soaring, goods and services have become more expensive. The Turkish central bank has raised the interest rate to 24 percent despite sharp criticism of this measure from the president himself. The last time the rate was that high in Turkey was 2004. However, this measure has helped to stabilize the lira exchange rate against the dollar.

Region head predicts cloned woolly mammoths will roam Siberia again within a decade

Region head predicts cloned woolly mammoths will roam Siberia again within a decade

Russia's answer to 'Jurassic Park' will be inhabited by born-again woolly mammoths in less than ten years, said the acting head of Russia's Sakha Republic, Aisen Nikolaev. This 'miracle' will happen within a decade, Nikolaev said at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok, pointing to the country's collaboration with Korean and Japanese scientists. "We are actively working with South Korea," he said, predicting that the resurrection of the extinct woolly beasts is imminent. "Back in 2014, a group of my friends and I proposed a project to create an Ice Age Park with mammoths - everyone laughed then, but they're not laughing now." The Sakha Republic -also known as Yakutia- is home to Pleistocene Park, an ice-age version of Jurassic park that is seeking to recreate the ecosystem that was dominant when mammoths thrived.

President Trump says he's set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un soon

President Trump says he's set to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un soon

President Donald Trump has said that he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un soon. The announcement comes hours after Trump praised Kim's move to dismantle a nuclear test site and allow inspections. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Trump was asked whether he will be meeting with Kim soon, to which the President replied "we will be." North Korea said earlier on Wednesday that it would demolish key missile facilities in the presence of international observers. President Trump welcomed the announcement, along with the news that North and South Korea would file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympic games. Kim made the announcement while meeting South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang. There, both leaders agreed to strengthen relations, and proposed measures like building railway connections between the two countries and starting joint economic projects.

India criminalizes 'triple talaq' or instant divorce for Muslim men

India criminalizes 'triple talaq' or instant divorce for Muslim men

Muslim men in India who try to break free of their marriage contract by simply repeating the word 'Talaq', or divorce, three times, will face jail for up to three years after the government criminalized the practice. In what is being hailed as a major win for Muslim women's rights, the government cleared an ordinance banning the triple talaq practice on Wednesday. The Union Cabinet issued the executive order as the practice had continued "unabated"despite it being ruled unlawful in August last year by the Supreme Court. The five-judge bench decided the practice is un-Islamic. Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was a "compelling necessity and an overpowering urgency" to approve the ordinance.

Russian state agencies to get exclusive cellular network

Russian state agencies to get exclusive cellular network

Russia may get a dedicated cellular network servicing only civil servants and law enforcement agencies, Vedomosti reports, quoting a national plan framework for developing the digital economy. The proposal to create a separate network for state agencies has been included in the passport of the 'Digital Economy' program recently approved by the government, Vedomosti daily reported on Wednesday. According to the report, the deadline for the project is set for 2024. The newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying that the new network will likely using the LTE-450 standard that allows both the work of cellular phones in push-to-talk regime and high-quality video streaming.

White Alabama students slammed online after photo surfaces of them standing on black teen 'as a joke'

White Alabama students slammed online after photo surfaces of them standing on black teen 'as a joke'

A group of white Alabama high school students are at the center of a racism storm after a photo of them standing on a black pupil surfaced online with the caption 'We got us one.' Participants insist the stunt was a "joke." The snap sparked fury on social media after it was handed over to a left-wing Instagram account, @agirlhasnopresident, which claims it contacted the school in question - Moody High School (MHS) in Alabama - to report the incident. According to the whistleblower's post, "every Friday during football season the students dress up." On the day the photo was taken, the whistleblower alleged that students were dressed up for 'Redneck Day.'

Flexible standards: Democrats pick & choose sex assault abusers to believe - 'Rules for thee, not for me'

Flexible standards: Democrats pick & choose sex assault abusers to believe - 'Rules for thee, not for me'

A woman accusing Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison (Minnesota) of abuse says the party abandoned her - a far cry from top Democrats' public show of support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's accuser. Karen Monahan said that she was "smeared, threatened, (and) isolated" by the Democratic party when she came forward with allegations of physical and emotional abuse against Rep. Ellison, the Democratic National Committee deputy chair and Minnesota attorney general candidate. "I've been smeared, threatened, isolated from my own party," Monahan tweeted Monday. "I provided medical records from 2017, stating on two different Dr. visits, I told them about the abuse and who did it. My therapist released records stating I have been dealing and healing from the abuse."

Active shooter reports at office building in Middleton, Wisconsin

Active shooter reports at office building in Middleton, Wisconsin

Police are responding to reports of an active shooter at a software company in Middleton, Wisconsin. Multiple ambulances have been sent to the scene. The Greenway Station Mall in the area is also on lockdown due to incident, according to reports. Schools in the area are also reportedly on lockdown. One local reporter from WISC-TV has said that several ambulances were loaded up and driven away from the scene. The status of the shooter is not yet known.

Project Veritas releases first installment of Deep State expose - UPDATE

Project Veritas releases first installment of Deep State expose - UPDATE

Project Veritas has released the first installment of its exposes on the Deep State "resisters: Some of the highlishts: Federal Employee for State Department: "Resist everything... Every level. F**k sh*t up." Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Embedded in Federal Government Positions, Actively Resisting Stuart Karaffa Does Work for DSA While on Taxpayer's Dime: "I'm careful about it. I don't leave a paper trail." "I have nothing to lose. It's impossible to fire federal employees." Ethics Officer Fails to Recognize Breach on Ethics Form: "somebody just rubber stamps it and it goes forward..."

Anti-Kavanaugh protesters at confirmation hearings admit to being funded by Soros groups

Anti-Kavanaugh protesters at confirmation hearings admit to being funded by Soros groups

Left-wing groups funded by George Soros and other major Democratic donors hand out cash to protesters arrested for disrupting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings, the activists revealed Monday night. A coalition of activist organizations including Women's March, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and Housing Works have scheduled the near-constant disruptions at the Kavanaugh hearings as part of an organized effort to derail the confirmation process in a series of meetings since he was first nominated. The cash from the donor-funded groups goes toward the protesters' post-and-forfeit payments - a small cash sum paid to resolve low-level misdemeanor crimes and avoid jail time. Those are just some of the details representatives from the three groups revealed in a Monday night conference call planning their next two anti-Kavanaugh protests, one on Thursday and one next Monday.

Study suggests lutein-rich diets may help preserve cognitive function as the brain ages

Study suggests lutein-rich diets may help preserve cognitive function as the brain ages

Eating leafy greens helps preserve intelligence over the lifetime, research finds. Leafy greens and other foods contain lutein, a plant pigment that protects the brain from aging. People with more lutein in their blood did better on intelligence tests, the study found. Lutein collects in the cell membranes of the brain, playing a 'neuroprotective' role. Foods that contain high levels of lutein include leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach as well as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

Pope Francis shares benefits of 'passionate' love, slams pornography

Pope Francis shares benefits of 'passionate' love, slams pornography

Sex is not taboo, but is rather a "gift from God" which is designed to show love and to create life, Pope Francis has stated, while criticizing pornography as part of an "industry of lies." "Sexuality, sex, is a gift of God. Not taboo," Pope Francis told a group of young people from the Diocese of Grenoble-Vienne in France on Monday. That particular comment was in response to a 16-year-old who asked how to navigate in a world that "desecrates" the human body. "Love between a man and a woman, when it is passionate, it leads you to give your life forever. Forever. And to give it with your body and soul," the pontiff explained, as quoted by the Catholic news website Crux.

China denies ridiculous Trump claim that it's meddling in US mid-term elections

China denies ridiculous Trump claim that it's meddling in US mid-term elections

Beijing doesn't interfere in other nations' internal affairs, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, rebuffing President Donald Trump's earlier tweet accusing China of meddling in US elections. The spokesperson, Geng Shuang, voiced China's position while talking to reporters on Wednesday. A day earlier, Trump wrote on Twitter that China is "actively trying to impact and change" the election "by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me." Shuang's comments come on the heels of reports that Washington has ordered two Chinese state-run media outlets, Xinhua News Agency and Global Television Network to register as foreign agents in the US.

Manhunt intensifies for 'survivalist' who threatened to 'put a bullet in Trump's head'

Manhunt intensifies for 'survivalist' who threatened to 'put a bullet in Trump's head'

Scores of state and federal officers on his trail, a $10,000 bounty on his collar, more than 100 days on the run and still the 'armed and dangerous' fugitive, a self-styled survivalist, has evaded police. "Keep it up Morganelli, I promise I'll put a bullet in your head as soon as I put one in the head of President Donald J. Trump," the fugitive wrote on Facebook back in June, as cited by The New York Times, making criminal threats against the district attorney of Northampton County and the US president - and triggering a major manhunt in the process. The so-called 'Bush Crafter' also threatened to use "full lethal force on any law enforcement officer that tries to detain me." In a federal warrant issued on June 19, authorities named Shawn Richard Christy, 26, of McAdoo Pennsylvania as the 'armed and dangerous' suspect. Christy already had multiple state warrants out for his arrest for failing to appear in court and aggravated assault and violating probation.

Pope Francis says accused pastors are like Jesus on 'Good Friday'

Pope Francis says accused pastors are like Jesus on 'Good Friday'

Bishops who are accused should remain silent like Jesus on Good Friday when the crowds called out for his crucifixion, Pope Francis said Tuesday. When people insulted Jesus on Good Friday and shouted, "Crucify him," the pope said in his morning homily at the chapel of the Santa Marta residence, "he remained silent because he had compassion for those people deceived by the powerful." "He was silent. He prayed," Francis said. "In the same way, the pastor, in difficult times, in times when the devil is unleashed, where the pastor is accused-accused by the Great Accuser through so many people, so many powerful ones-suffers, offers his life and prays," the pope said.

Trump says exposing 'corrupt' FBI probe could be 'crowning achievement' of presidency

Trump says exposing 'corrupt' FBI probe could be 'crowning achievement' of presidency

President Trump in an exclusive interview with Hill.TV said Tuesday he ordered the release of classified documents in the Russia collusion case to show the public the FBI probe started as a "hoax" and that exposing it could become one of the "crowning achievements" of his presidency. "What we've done is a great service to the country, really," Trump said in a 45-minute, wide-ranging interview in the Oval Office. "I hope to be able to call this, along with tax cuts and regulation and all the things I've done ... in its own way this might be the most important thing because this was corrupt," he said. Trump also said he regretted not firing former FBI Director James Comey immediately instead of waiting until May 2017, confirming an account his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, gave Hill.TV earlier in the day that Trump was dismayed in 2016 by the way Comey handled the Hillary Clinton email case and began discussing firing him well before he became president.

India suggests setting up special economic zone for Russian companies

India suggests setting up special economic zone for Russian companies

New Delhi wants to encourage Russian investments and has invited the country's companies to explore business opportunities and strengthen bilateral economic ties, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu has said. "We can set up a special economic zone for Russian companies," he told reporters. Prabhu invited the governors of the Russian Far East to explore partnerships with local businesses. He has recently met with his Russian counterpart to discuss enhancing bilateral trade and investment. They also talked about the possibilities of mutual cooperation in sectors such as mining, agriculture and tourism. According to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, "two-way investments have already crossed the $30 billion target" which the countries have set for 2025.

China slashes US Treasury securities to six-month low as trade tensions mount

China slashes US Treasury securities to six-month low as trade tensions mount

The biggest holder of US Treasury bills, notes and bonds - China - has dropped $7.8 billion worth of US sovereign debt as a large-scale trade conflict, launched by Washington earlier this year, breaks new ground. The latest statistics released by the US Treasury Department showed that China's share of US sovereign bonds hit a six month low of $1.171 trillion in July, from $1.178 trillion in the previous month. Brazil, the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Hong Kong followed suit. China's July outflow of treasuries was the third in the past four months.

Historian: 'Ukrainian authorities deliberately sent MH17 airliner into warzone'

Historian: 'Ukrainian authorities deliberately sent MH17 airliner into warzone'

Russia's Ministry of Defense has presented audio proof of Ukraine's links to the downing of Flight MH17 in 2014. During the press briefing in Moscow, the ministry said that Kiev could destroy documentation for the missile that shot down the MH17 flight in order to conceal the truth. It also said that the missile came from Ukraine's arsenal. Sputnik talked about the new evidence emerging in the MH17 case with Bjorn Ditlef Nistad, who holds a doctorate in Russian history and founded the independent Russian Information Center in Norway.

Live long & prosper: Real-life Planet Vulcan orbiting 'Star Trek' sun & could host life

Live long & prosper: Real-life Planet Vulcan orbiting 'Star Trek' sun & could host life

Astronomers have boldly gone where no man has gone before in announcing that Star Trek's fictional planet Vulcan is real - and even has a sun just like ours. The planet is twice the size of Earth and has a 42-day-long year. Since the show's writer associated Vulcan with a real star, named 40 Eridani A, curious scientists and sci-fi fans alike have wanted to find out if there actually is a planet equivalent to Vulcan in the star's orbit.

Analyst to RT - Idlib buffer zone will help Russia & Turkey clear area of radicals

Analyst to RT - Idlib buffer zone will help Russia & Turkey clear area of radicals

The demilitarized zone in Syria's embattled Idlib Province will help Russia and Turkey to clear out radical militants, as both sides will be patrolling the area, a professor of international relations told RT. The deal to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib is "best military and diplomatic solution today" for Russia and Turkey, since they can remove the radicals from the province and avert mass civilian casualties, Huseyin Bagci says. The agreement was reached on Monday between presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the leaders held hour-long talks in Sochi, south Russia. According to the plan, the radical militants, including an Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly known as Al-Nusra Front), and their heavy weaponry must be withdrawn from the DMZ before October 10. Bagci, who teaches in the Ankara-based Middle East Technical University, emphasizes that the agreed DMZ is not an "everlasting" solution, but a temporary measure.

Over 200K sign petition supporting French bus driver who slapped adolescent for shouting insults after nearly causing an accident

Over 200K sign petition supporting French bus driver who slapped adolescent for shouting insults after nearly causing an accident

Over 200,000 people (and counting) have signed a petition in support of a RATP bus driver, who has been summoned for disciplinary proceedings after he slapped a "disrespectful" middle school boy. At the time of writing, the petition has reached over 219,540 names; rising by the minute. A phone video, filmed in Arcueil (Val-de-Marne, ‎Île-de-France), spread across social media (below), which appeared to show a RATP driver slapping a young boy during a heated discussion in front of a number of buses and other vehicles. The boy, who is of collège (middle school) age, reportedly crossed the road in front of the bus in a dangerous manner, forcing the driver to brake sharply, endangering the bus passengers. The driver is then reported to have reprimanded the boy on his conduct. The adolescent is then alleged to have shouted insults back, prompting the driver to get out of the bus, leading to him reportedly slapping the boy. After the bus driver was summoned for disciplinary proceedings over the issue, his RATP colleagues started a petition in support, fearing sanctions on his behalf.

Why does bottled water have an expiration date?

Why does bottled water have an expiration date?

Bottled water is a popular item to store in case of an emergency, and for good reason. It is normally readily available and water should be able to be stored forever, right? So then why is there an expiration date on bottled water? Of course, water doesn't expire, but you should still check the expiration date on the bottle before you drink it. According to Live Science, there a few different reasons why water bottles come with expiration dates, and the first one, you shouldn't worry too much about, but the second one should make you think twice. Since water is a consumable product, regulations and laws require bottles to be stamped with an expiration date even though water doesn't ever "expire." Rational people understand this, but the government feels the need to step in and protect us from ourselves anyway. The only reason they were put there in the first place was that a 1987 New Jersey state law required all food products to display an expiration date, including water, according to Mental Floss. Since it wasn't very cost effective for companies to label and ship batches of expiration-dated water to one state alone, most bottled water producers simply started giving every bottle a two-year sell-by date-no matter where it was going. Because the law is rather arbitrary, don't worry too much about drinking expired water just because a law demands a company stamp the bottle. However, the expiration date serves more of a warning about the bottle itself than the water contained inside.

Stalling tactic: Kavanaugh accuser won't appear at Senate hearing, wants FBI to probe sex assault claims first

Stalling tactic: Kavanaugh accuser won't appear at Senate hearing, wants FBI to probe sex assault claims first

Christine Blasey Ford, who accused US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, will not appear at the hearing scheduled by the Senate Judiciary Committee, her lawyer said. An FBI investigation into the allegations "should be the first step" before her client makes any public statement, Ford's attorney Debra Katz told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday evening. "Nothing of substance and nothing legitimate can happen by Monday," the lawyer stressed. Ford and Kavanaugh were both invited to publicly present their sides of the story over the allegation that surfaced after the nomination hearings. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who said she had Ford's letter since Kavanaugh was nominated in July, has not explained why she held it back until now. The university professor is accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct back in 1982, which put Kavanaugh's nomination in jeopardy. The committee officially canceled the confirmation vote scheduled for Thursday, until it hears the testimonies from both the judge and his accuser - and the delay of the public hearing could further prolong the process.

Lowest ratings ever: Political issues and incessant progressive virtue signalling at the Emmys

Lowest ratings ever: Political issues and incessant progressive virtue signalling at the Emmys

Hosts and nominees alike paraded their views on a constellation of political issues - from sexual harassment to Supreme Court nominations - throughout the most prestigious US TV awards. Not many tuned in to watch. Only 10.2 million viewers, just 7.2 percent of US households turned on their sets to follow the Emmys on Monday night. This is 10 percent lower than last year's figures, which were already the worst-ever, and down from 17 million a mere five years ago. Yet, just because there is no audience, it doesn't mean actors stop acting - or reflexively airing their political stances. What you (probably) missed For at least the third year running, Donald Trump was the elephant in the room, with co-host Colin Jost hoping that the Obamas "get way higher ratings" than the incumbent president's former show the Apprentice. The opening monologue also featured a barb about the first Emmys in 1949 - "when we all agreed that Nazis were bad" - and a joke about Roseanne being "cancelled... and picked up by white nationalists."

Arrested for disrupting Kavanaugh hearing? Don't worry, Soros (who funded the protests) will also pay the legal bills

Arrested for disrupting Kavanaugh hearing? Don't worry, Soros (who funded the protests) will also pay the legal bills

Protesters arrested at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's hearing are being organized by Democrat-linked groups and their legal bills are reportedly paid by activists funded by billionaire liberal financier George Soros. Photos circulated two weeks ago purported to show activists being paid in cash after disrupting judge Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation hearings. The photos raised speculation over whether the disruptions were grassroots liberal activism or an example of astroturfed 'manufactured dissent,' funded by Democrats. The latter has now been confirmed, according to conservative news outlet The Daily Caller, which reported that a coalition of left-wing organizations is scheduling interruptions and ponying up the post-and-forfeit bills - a small cash payment of around $50 to resolve the offense and avoid jail time - of those arrested. The organizations named include Women's March, the Center for Popular Democracy, and Housing Works.

BEST OF THE WEB: The West hates peace in Syria: From de-escalation to almost World War III in just two hours

BEST OF THE WEB: The West hates peace in Syria: From de-escalation to almost World War III in just two hours

On the 17th of September, an important meeting was held in Sochi between Erdogan and Putin to discuss Syria, in particular Idlib. A few hours after the agreement between the two leaders was reached, there was a French-Israeli strike on Syria's coastal area of Latakia, causing the loss of a Russian Air Force Il-20 aircraft and bringing the world to the brink of a thermonuclear war. The agreement between Erdogan and Putin over the province of Idlib was reached after five hours of discussions and proposals. Ultimately, as explained by RT, the agreement concerns a 15-20 kilometer demilitarized zone, the identification of terrorist groups to fight, and combined patrols by Turkish and Russian soldiers on the borders of Idlib to monitor the situation and the opening of main roads between Hama, Damascus and Aleppo over the next few months. RT specifies: "[Erdogan and Putin] We've agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15 to 20 kms wide, with full withdrawal of hardline militants from there, including the Jabhat Al-Nusra. As part of solving the deadlock, all heavy weaponry, including tanks and artillery, will be withdrawn from the zone before October 10. The area will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian military units. Before the end of the year, roads between Aleppo and Hama, and Aleppo and Latakia must be reopened for transit traffic. The agreement has received general support from the Syrian government." There were manifold goals for the talks between Erdogan and Putin. For the Kremlin there were innumerable points to be clarified and points of tension to be softened. One of the reasons why Russia and Turkey decided to sit around a table and discuss the imminent Syrian offensive in Idlib was the shared concern surrounding possible Western reactions. Moscow wants to avoid offering France, the UK and the US a pretext to strike Syrian forces in response to the umpteenth false-flag chemical attack. This would once again raise tensions, risking a direct confrontation between Russian and Western armed forces. In the unfortunate event of Russia exchanging fire with such aggressor countries, relations between Moscow and the European capitals would be further damaged, perhaps this time irremediably.

Oklahoma's 'family values' senator given 15 years for child trafficking and child pornography

Oklahoma's 'family values' senator given 15 years for child trafficking and child pornography

Over a year has passed since Oklahoma state senator, Ralph Shortey was busted for child sex trafficking and now, on Monday, he's finally been sentenced to prison. U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti handed down a 15 year sentence to Ralph Shortey, 36, who faced sentences of between 10 years and life in prison. DeGiusti also ordered Shortey to serve 10 years of supervised probation once he is released from prison and said he will impose a fine on the former two-term lawmaker at a later date. The fine could be up to $250,000, according to NBC. In September of 2017, Shortey was accused in a federal indictment of multiple counts of child sex trafficking and child pornography offenses. In November, Shortey agreed to plead guilty to a single child sex trafficking charge in exchange for the three other charges to be dismissed. The age of consent for sexual activity is 16 in Oklahoma. However, it is against both state and federal law for anyone under the age of 18 to be involved in the commercial sex industry. As a result, anyone who prostitutes a minor under the age of 18, like Ralph Shortey, can be charged with either child prostitution or trafficking in minors - thus the charge of child sex trafficking. Body Camera footage, released last year, showed the moment police raided the hotel room occupied by Shortey and his underage victim.

EU regulators to drop legal action against Ireland after Apple pays €13.1 billion in back taxes

EU regulators to drop legal action against Ireland after Apple pays €13.1 billion in back taxes

European Union antitrust regulators plan to drop legal action against Ireland after iPhone maker Apple paid the country €13.1 billion ($15.3 billion) in back taxes. The lawsuit was initiated in 2017 by the EU which severely criticized Dublin for moving too slowly in recovering the money. "In light of the full payment by Apple of the illegal state aid it had received from Ireland, commissioner Margrethe Vestager will be proposing to the college of commissioners the withdrawal of this court action," the European Commission's spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said. Ireland's finance ministry began collecting the back taxes in a series of payments in May.

Devin Nunes: Trump's declassification order will expose FBI's 'insurance policy'

Devin Nunes: Trump's declassification order will expose FBI's 'insurance policy'

President Trump's order to declassify a broad swath of DOJ/FBI documents related to the Russia investigation will expose the infamous "insurance policy" referred to in an August 15, 2016 text between former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, according to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA). "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office - that there's no way he gets elected - but I'm afraid we can't take the risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40," reads the text message in question - used by many in Trump's camp to bolster claims that the Russia investigation is "rigged witch hunt." Speaking with Fox News's Laura Ingraham, Nunes said that declassification will provide exculpatory evidence, including a dozen or so 302 witness interview forms from DOJ official Bruce Ohr which may shed light on his significant relationship with former MI6 spy Christopher Steele and "many other rotten apples."

NBC host: Allegations against Kavanaugh are 'dynamite wrapped in radioactive material'

NBC host: Allegations against Kavanaugh are 'dynamite wrapped in radioactive material'

Allegations of sexual misconduct against US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are like "four sticks of dynamite wrapped in radioactive material" due to their timing, NBC host Chuck Todd has said. College professor Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 35 years ago at a high school party. Kavanaugh, who was nominated for the Supreme Court position by President Donald Trump in July, has adamantly denied the accusation, saying it is "completely false" and that he has "never done anything" like what the accuser has described. Both Ford and Kavanaugh will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday, during which the public will get to hear both sides.

Judge rules links between British spy agencies & dead Russian businessman 'must remain secret'

Judge rules links between British spy agencies & dead Russian businessman 'must remain secret'

Material about possible links between British spy agencies and a Russian businessman who died in mysterious circumstances in Britain nearly six years ago will remain secret, a judge has ruled. Nicholas Hilliard, who is leading the inquest into Aleksandr Perepilichny's death, said in a ruling on September 18 that the material is "marginal" to resolving the question of how the businessman died. The judge said he was "mindful" of heightened concern about the case following the poisoning of Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury in March.

Here's Christine Blasey's letter that alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her

Here's Christine Blasey's letter that alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her

Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are working overtime to delay Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court. On Thursday, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) referred a mysterious letter about Kavanaugh to the FBI. Feinstein had been holding on to the letter since earlier this year.

Police chief resigns over ties to neo-nazis, gets hired by neighboring police dept

Police chief resigns over ties to neo-nazis, gets hired by neighboring police dept

As the Free Thought Project reported last year, a newly-appointed police chief was forced to resign after he was directly linked to a website that promotes international racist skinhead gangs, the Klu Klux Klan, and media titled "Hitler was Right." Now, after the nation learned of his racist ties, this cop has been hired on with another department in Oklahoma. Bart Alsbrook resigned as interim police chief of Colbert, Oklahoma late last August after a local news agency found he was likely a skinhead white supremacist. Now, however, after he was outed as a racist neo-nazi, he was hired in the neighboring town of Achille. According to a report from KXII News, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a "hate map" last year, which claimed to track 917 hates groups across the United States. There was only one listed in the Texoma area: a website named ISD Records, which was created by Bart Alsbrook in 2004.

Space detectives: Russian cosmonauts prepare for spacewalk to inspect mysterious Soyuz module hole

Space detectives: Russian cosmonauts prepare for spacewalk to inspect mysterious Soyuz module hole

The investigation of a mysterious hole in the Soyuz spacecraft has reached a whole new level, as Roscosmos announced that two Russian cosmonauts will inspect the holey module from the outside. While in space, naturally. Two cosmonauts will cut through the anti-meteorite shielding of the spacecraft in an attempt to find metal shavings and traces of sealant compound on the spacecraft, the deputy Director General of Russian space corporation Roscosmos, Nikolay Sevastyanov, announced on Tuesday. The space investigation is expected to shed light on the question of where exactly - in space or on earth - the drill-hole was made. The hole in the spacecraft was discovered late in August, when the International Space Station (ISS) started leaking oxygen. Various conspiracy theories blossomed after the incident, ranging from an impact of a micrometeorite to an alien job. It was determined, however, that the hole was actually made by a drill from the inside of the spacecraft.

Russian poll reveals overwhelming support for ban on mobile phones in schools

Russian poll reveals overwhelming support for ban on mobile phones in schools

About three quarters of Russians say they support the idea of banning the use of cell phones and other tech gadgets in schools and believe that children would study better were such measures taken. The data was revealed by the state-run public opinion research agency VTSIOM on Wednesday. A recent poll has shown that 83 percent of the Russian public think that smartphones and other gadgets distract children during their school studies and badly affect their education. Some 73 percent of Russians say they support the idea of banning the use of cell phones in schools. The proportion was even higher - at 83 percent - among those who said that their children do not own cell phones and also among those who said that they don't have any children of school age (74 percent).

BEST OF THE WEB: Russian military plane downed by Syrian missile after attacking Israel's F-16s used it as cover - UPDATES

BEST OF THE WEB: Russian military plane downed by Syrian missile after attacking Israel's F-16s used it as cover - UPDATES

The Russian military say the Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events, which led to the shooting down of a Russian Il-20 plane by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly. On Monday evening four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria's Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean, a statement by the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday. The Israeli warplanes came at a low altitude and "created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region", it said.