VIDEO shows Putin dancing with Austrian FM, delivering toast in German at her wedding

Vladimir Putin was filmed showing off his language skills and dancing at the Austrian FM’s wedding. The happy couple and their guests also enjoyed a performance of the Kuban Cossack Choir, which the Russian leader brought along.

The video shows Russian President Vladimir Putin arriving with a big bouquet and then dancing to a cheerful piano tune with Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl. The two smile and enjoy themselves as guests take photos and film them on their phones. Kneissl and Putin certainly didn’t forget about etiquette. The foreign minister, dressed for the occasion in a beige dirndl – a traditional alpine dress – ended the dance with a curtsy, while Putin responded with a bow.

Kneissl, 53, tied the knot with businessman Wolfgang Meilinger, 54, on Saturday in a vineyard in the picturesque town of Gamlitz.

When the guests were seated, the Russian president had the opportunity to show off his German skills. Putin delivered a lengthy toast, honoring the newlyweds and wishing happiness, harmony, and love to the couple. He also threw in a few jokes, eliciting laughs and applause from the newlyweds and their guests. He noted that Kneissl enjoys Russian culture, so he brought a bit of it with him.

READ MORE:VIP guest Putin brings big bouquet of flowers, dances with Austrian FM at her wedding (PHOTOS)

The Kuban Cossack Choir, dressed in traditional red kaftans and wool hats, performed songs in Russian and German.

But that wasn’t Putin’s only gift – he also gave Kneissl and Meilinger a rural landscape painting, an antique butter churn, and a samovar – a tradition Russian water boiler used to make tea.

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Former Yazidi sex slave recalls horror of meeting her ISIS rapist in Germany  

A Yazidi teenager who fled from Islamic State slavery in Iraq, only to come face to face with her former captor in Germany, told RT why she returned to Iraq, and why she thinks Europe is no safe haven for girls like her.

After fleeing captivity in Iraq, Ashwaq Ta’lo thought she was safe in Schwabisch Gmund, a picturesque market town in the foothills of Germany’s Swabian mountains, near Stuttgart. That changed one night in February, when Ashwaq was returning home from school and a car pulled up beside her.

A short-bearded man stepped out and took off his glasses, leaning in closer to look at the teenager. “Can I ask you a question,” he said. “Are you Ashwaq?”

It was a face Ashwaq never thought she would see again. The man, known only as Abu Humam, was a Syrian Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighter who had bought Ashwaq for $ 100 at a slave market in Ba’aj, Iraq in 2015. He was now living in Germany as a refugee, enjoying the same freedom as his former victim.

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“I said ‘no, I’m not Ashwaq,’” she told RT. “Then he said ‘no, you are and I know it, don’t lie to me,’” Ashwaq panicked and fled to her brother’s house, as Abu Humam followed her. The encounter instantly brought her from peaceful Germany back to the dusty roads of war-torn Iraq, where her ordeal had begun a few years before.

In 2014, as ISIS hordes claimed land and took lives across Iraq and Syria at blitzkrieg pace, Ashwaq lived with 77 of her extended family in a small village in Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS’ campaign of slaughter and pillage eventually caught up with them, and jihadists surrounded her family home, capturing and separating the family.

“The worst time in my life was the moment when ISIS separated us from our families,” Ashwaq recalls. “I knew that I would be raped and tortured.” She was 15 at the time.

From there, Ashwaq was shuttled in pickup trucks from around northern Iraq, until she landed in the tiny town of Ba’aj, where she was sold for $ 100 to Abu Humam. “I tried my best to convince him that he should release me,” she said. “But he said that he got orders that they should rape all Yazidi women and keep them as slaves. We even tried looking for gasoline or anything sharp, like knives or scissors, to kill ourselves with, but didn’t find anything.”

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Yazidis commemorate 3rd anniversary of ISIS genocidal campaign against them. August 3, 2017 © Suhaib Salem

Ashwaq was forced to convert to Islam, and became Abu Humam’s property. When the militants moved, Abu Humam kept the teenage girl by his side, a human shield against US-led Coalition airstrikes. Eventually, Ashwaq managed to flee, and a year later was resettled in Germany under a refugee program.

“We knew that if we stayed they would kill us, because they are ISIS and they are murderers,” she said.

After meeting Abu Humam in Germany, Ashwaq filed a police report and told her assigned social worker who she had seen. She says the police waited a month and a half to open the case, and when they did, they found no leads.

Her social worker told her that she was in Germany to recover from the trauma of her captivity in Iraq, but Ashwaq no longer felt safe.

“How can that be, if my rapist is living here and has the same rights as me?” she wondered.

Federal prosecutors say that they investigated the case as best they could. Based on her description, they could not identify Abu Humam, and could not trace his name. Prosecutors say they wanted to ask Ashwaq some more questions, but the teenager had already left Germany at that point.

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FILE PHOTO. © Thilo Schmuelgen

Faced with living in fear of her rapist or taking her chances elsewhere, Ashwaq headed back to Iraq to visit relatives. Her family who stayed behind in Germany begged her to return, and assured her that the German government would see to it that justice was done. Ashwaq refused.

“My dignity is more important than being in Germany,” she said. “I’ve put my life on the edge to escape from ISIS here to keep my dignity, then you want me to stay in Germany and know that the one who was responsible for my misery is free in that country?”

“All I wanted was to be somewhere safe but if I meet ISIS there and I’m afraid all the time that he would hurt me again, then I can’t stay there anymore.”

Ashwaq arrived in Germany as one of over a million migrants admitted in 2015. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stood by her country’s ‘open-door’ migration policy until it was abandoned this year. Critics have blasted the chancellor for carelessly admitting millions of migrants, often with inadequate vetting. Even when defending her decision, Merkel admitted last year that “for some time we didn’t have enough control” at Germany’s borders.

Ashwaq’s tormentor was just one of an unknown number of violent jihadists who may have slipped through the cracks. In 2015, German federal police received over 300 tip-offs about potential jihadists or known terrorists entering the country as refugees. “We have repeatedly seen that terrorists… have slipped in camouflaged or disguised as refugees,” the head of Germany’s interior intelligence agency warned the following year.

Even before Merkel rolled out the welcome mat to migrants, some violent extremists managed to lay low in Germany. This April, a 42-year-old Tunisian man, living in Germany since 1997 and claiming government benefits, was found to have been a member of Al-Qaeda, and to have allegedly once worked as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden. After his deportation, a court ordered the man returned to Germany for prosecution.

When Ashwaq arrived in Germany, she was required to remain in the state of Baden-Württemberg. This meant that she couldn’t move across the country to avoid Abu Humam.

“Germany was taking care of us,” she said. “But it was a mistake to bring us all to Baden-Württemberg so it was easier for them to track us and we were not allowed to move to another state.”

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Rupee depreciation to raise India’s oil bill by $26 billion

A cheaper rupee could increase India’s crude oil bill by as much as $ 26 billion in FY 2018/19, according to Indian government officials.

The currency hit a low of 70.32 to the US dollar on Friday, which will also push up fuel prices at the pump and prices of cooking gas.

At the same time, Indian crude oil imports are set to rise: last financial year, the country imported 220.43 million tons of crude, with the bill coming in at $ 87.7 billion This financial year, imports are estimated to reach 227 million tons while international oil benchmarks and the US dollar rise higher and the rupee falls.

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© Frank Bienewald

The FY 2018/19 oil import bill was at the start of the year estimated at $ 108 billion on the basis of an average benchmark oil price of $ 65 and an exchange rate of 65 rupees per dollar. However, oil has been trending higher than this for much of the year so far and supply concerns resulting from the US sanctions against Iran and worry about spare production capacity among OPEC members are likely to keep it higher than $ 65 until the end of the year at least.

On top of higher benchmark prices, if the rupee remains around $ 70 per U.S. dollar, the oil import bill could swell to $ 114 billion. This would in turn pressure India’s economy further: the currency depreciation followed the latest trade deficit reading, which revealed India’s imports exceeded its exports by $ 18 billion. This is the highest trade deficit since 2013.

Earlier this year, India called on OPEC to take action and bring oil prices down, or risk a demand crunch. OPEC obliged, agreeing with Russia in June to boost combined production by a million barrels daily. However, the agreement and the subsequent increase in Russia’s and some OPEC members’ production failed to have a substantial effect on prices, as Saudi Arabia surprisingly produced 200,000 bpd less in July and a round of US sanctions against Iran came into effect.

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14 fans injured after structure collapses before Backstreet Boys Oklahoma concert (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

At least 14 people who gathered for a Backstreet Boys concert in Oklahoma have been injured after a severe storm blew over an outdoor entrance structure.

The outdoor show of the legendary group was due to take place at the Colosseum at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, 190km from Oklahoma City on Saturday evening.

Organizers said they spotted lightning within four miles (6.4km) of the casino, which prompted them to start an evacuation. “However, about 150 patrons who were standing in line for the Backstreet Boys concert did not heed staff’s warnings,” the statement said

Nearly half an hour after the warning, the storm “hit and knocked over the concert entrance trusses” with strong winds and heavy rain. The incident led to at least 14 people being injured, the casino said.

The band tweeted that the show was canceled and that they will seek to reschedule it. “We never want to put our fans in harm’s way,” the group said. Lead singer Nick Carter said he was praying for the injured fans.

The Backstreet Boys, often referred to as BSB, formed in 1993 and rose to fame in the late 90s. During its long history, the group has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making it one of the best-selling boy bands ever.

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Syria stabilization fund was ridiculous, let the Saudis pay it, Trump says

US President Donald Trump has praised Washington’s cancellation of $ 230mn in funding for stabilization in war-torn Syria. Let “other rich countries” pay it, Trump says, while the US spends its money on its military and allies.

The US officially ended support for stabilization projects in Syria on Friday. The $ 230mn worth of funding had been frozen for months before that however, after House forbid any funding for government-controlled territories in Syria. Now Trump says the idea of paying for the stabilization of Syria is “ridiculous,” at least for the US. America should spend its money on its military and “countries that help us.” As for Syria, let “other rich countries in the Middle East” chip in now.

Trump has long been promising the US would leave Syria “like very soon,” but so far the stabilization money is the only thing that’s been withdrawn. American military presence and support for anti-government fighters remains, and, according to diplomat Brett McGurk, is gearing up to a “final phase” of the offensive against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

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People walk through debris in the ruins of Afrin, Syria © Khalil Ashawi

State Department Press Secretary Heather Nauert earlier said that pulling the funding “does not represent any lessening of US commitment to our strategic goals in Syria.” Those goals are ostensibly the defeat of IS and withdrawal of Iranian-sponsored, pro-Assad forces, but the idea that “Assad must go” has been voiced by American officials ever since the US got involved in the Syrian civil war and picked the side of the rebels.

Some have seen the withdrawal of stabilization money as a point lost to Russia in the proxy conflict in Syria. Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) accused Trump of “rolling out the red carpet for Russia and Iran, who will seize the vacuum of US presence and assistance to double down on their support of the Assad regime.”

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Magnitude 6.3 earthquake hits Indonesia's Lombok island

A strong magnitude 6.3 earthquake has struck Indonesia’s Lombok island. The quake’s epicenter is located at a shallow depth of 7.9km. The island has been hit by a series of quakes recently, killing hundreds of people.

The quake struck 64 km (40 miles) from the city of Mataram with a population of 400,000 people, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports. The tremor hit Lombok’s northern shore, some 6km (four miles) from the Mount Rinjani volcano. There have been no reports of injuries or damage so far.

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Rescue team members prepare to find people trapped inside a mosque after an earthquake hit on Sunday in Pemenang, Lombok. © Beawiharta Beawiharta

In early August, Lombok suffered a magnitude 6.9 quake, followed by over 300 aftershocks. A total of at least 436 people have been killed as the tremors leveled buildings. That quake damaged tens of thousands of homes and left several hundred thousand people displaced. It also initially triggered a tsunami warning that was later called off.

Indonesia is located in a seismically active are and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. In 2004 it was hit by one of the deadliest quakes in recent history, a magnitude 9.1-9.3 event that triggered tsunami waves up to 30 meters tall. Over 220,000 people were killed or left missing then.


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Accused 'Russian agent' Butina moved to another jail, now in 'borderline torture' conditions

Maria Butina, the Russian gun activists jailed in the US on charges of being an unregistered “foreign agent,” has been moved to a different prison without warning. The Russian embassy says her new conditions border on torture.

The Russian embassy in the US, which has been closely following Butina’s case, says she was transferred from her Washington jail handcuffed, without warning or explanation for the move. Before the move, Butina was subjected to a “degrading full strip search,” and all her things were taken away, including books, shoes, towels and other hygiene items.

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© mvbutina /

Butina was moved to a prison in Alexandria, Virginia, and spent the next 12 hours in a quarantine cell with the no food and all the lights on, unable to sleep. She will now be kept in “administrative segregation,” which means locked up in solitary confinement – conditions bordering on torture, the embassy says.

Embassy staff paid an emergency visit to Butina in her new place of detention. They also intend to send another note of official protest to the US Department of State, in addition to the one recently filed over the inhumane treatment of the Russian citizen.

“We have more and more questions to the U.S. justice system,” the embassy says in a Facebook post“Should allegations pressed against Maria before the actual trial condemn her to practices that are slightly below torture? It seems that the reason behind the US decision to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council was to give the US authorities green light for such provocations.”

Butina, a Russian national lobbying for looser gun controls in Russia, has been living and studying in the US. She was arrested in mid-July and charged with acting as a Russian agent without notifying the US attorney general. While she has been fully cooperating with the investigation, reports swirling around her insinuate she was getting cosy with Republican officials, including through the use of sex as incentive. The Russian embassy has been fighting for her release, and has previously complained that she is being subjected to unwarranted strip searches and denied proper medical care, all in an attempt to “break her will.”

Butina’s lawyer has also confirmed to RT that prison conditions have worsened her health. A fundraiser has been launched to help her.

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Facebook 'censors' conservative education page, says it was a mistake, but few are convinced

Facebook says it had mistakenly deleted videos and limited the reach of US conservative educational organization PragerU. The content has now been restored, but PragerU supporters don’t think it was an accident.

PragerU (short for Prager University, after its founder Dennis Prager) says nine of its posts reached none of its three million-odd followers, and at least two videos were deleted for “hate speech,” in what many conservatives see as part of Facebook’s ongoing censorship campaign. Facebook has now apologized and restored the content, but has offered no explanation beyond “we’re looking into it.”

PragerU is a non-profit organization creating short educational videos discussing a wide array of topics from a conservative perspective. The videos, while not generally covering current news, offer pushbacks against most of the liberal talking points, including gun ownership, oppression of women, trust in the media and climate change. In 2017 PragerU had a run-in with Google after the company restricted or demonetized 37 of its videos. PragerU filed a lawsuit, which was then dismissed by a district court judge.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media are under massive fire from conservatives as the platforms claim they step up their game against “hate speech” and for “conversational health.” In practice this has so far mostly meant bans and suspensions for conservative speakers.

The most prominent example in the recent days was that of InfoWars and its highly-controversial host Alex Jones. InfoWars content was simultaneously removed by Youtube, Facebook and Apple, its pages and channels shut down. Twitter held out for a few days, then handed Jones a week-long suspension for “abusive behavior.” Other casualties in the censorship campaign include Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur and the Pro-Palestinian group Occupy London, among others.

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US Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) © Jonathan Ernst

US President Donald Trump himself has chimed in on the matter, saying his administration won’t let the discrimination of Republican and conservative voices continue. “Who is making the choices, because I can already tell you that too many mistakes are being made. Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!” Trump tweeted.

The disproportionate crackdown on “offensive” conservative content is not unexpected, considering the Silicon Valley’s overall left leanings and the social media platforms’ choice of experts on “conversational health.” Facebook has partnered up with NATO-backed think tank Atlantic Council for fact checking, while Twitter has unveiled a team of Trump haters to root out “uncivil discourse.”

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Trump takes a minute to explain the obvious: It's the president's job to talk to foreign leaders

Apparently seeking once again to dispel his opponents’ scorn over his diplomatic practices, US President Donald Trump has tweeted out a video address. In it, he explains that world leaders sometimes meet and it’s a good thing.

It takes Trump just under a minute to state something that only needs spelling out in the craziness that is the current American politics: World leaders talk to each other. It’s called diplomacy.

“Many people have asked it, why do I meet with foreign leaders, why do I even waste my time. The fact is, it’s very important,” Trump says. “You have nothing to lose and you have a lot to gain.”

He then brings up the two recent diplomatic efforts that have incensed his opponents the most: the June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, and the July 16 meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. The latter in particular caused a veritable storm in both Democrat and some Republican ranks, earning Trump the title of “traitor” for his refusal to call Putin out on what the #Resistance claims was Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and American democracy as a whole.

The meeting with Kim was comparatively well-received, with some hailing it as a milestone effort for peace in the Korean peninsula – though most of the work had arguably been done at the earlier meeting between Kim and his South Korean counterpart. Still, resisters are placing Kim and Putin in the same line of “murderous dictators.” The comments under the video are, unsurprisingly, mostly insults and calls to resign.

Trump wraps up by repeating what’s becoming a trademark phrase of his, again stating what should be obvious: engaging in diplomacy “is a good thing, not a bad thing.” He then adds, “especially if your president knows what he’s doing.”

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NYT reports White House counsel cooperates with 'Russiagate' probe, Trump says he allowed it

White House counsel Don McGahn has cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ investigation into US President Donald Trump, the New York Times reports. Trump says he allowed it for transparency.

Citing “a dozen current and former White House officials and others,” the NYT reports that Donald F. McGahn II has been talking to Mueller about the part of the special counsel probe that deals with Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice. Over the past nine months, McGahn has had at least three interviews totaling 30 hours with Mueller, allegedly spilling the beans on some of Trump’s actions that would not be known otherwise.

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The Russian flag flies over the Embassy of Russia in Washington, U.S., August 6, 2018. © Brian Snyder

One of those was Trump’s supposed attempt to fire Mueller in December 2017, which had also been reported by the NYT and also sourced from anonymous people “familiar with the episode.”

McGahn chief reason for approaching Mueller is self-preservation. His and his lawyer’s reported plan is to cooperate with the special counsel as much as possible in order to be exempt from suspicion of wrongdoing.

While the NYT seems to portray McGahn’s move as a significant development in that it’s unusual for a lawyer to share so much with an investigator looking into his client (although McGahn is technically the official presidential lawyer, not Trump’s personal one), Trump and the White House say there’s really nothing to see here.

The US President tweeted it was his decision to let McGahn, as well as other White House staffers, to talk to Mueller, and provided over a million pages of papers.

And White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the anticipation of the next epic falling-out and the emergence of a new #Resistance hero, saying Trump and McGahn “have a great relationship” and the president appreciates “all the hard work” the counsel has done.

McGahn has been something of a shadow figure, gaining little personal spotlight in the tumultuous atmosphere surrounding Trump’s White House. He has, nevertheless, played key roles in the country’s judiciary, including Trump’s appointment of Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch, as well as a number of federal court judges.

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