Netanyahu: Trump & Trudeau asked Israel to evacuate White Helmets from Syria

US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Israel to evacuate the members of the controversial Western-backed White Helmets group from Syria, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has revealed.

“President Trump and also Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, as well as others, requested us to help take out from Syria hundreds of White Helmets members,” Netanyahu said in a video address on Sunday.

He described the White Helmets, who have been accused of cooperating with terrorists and faking chemical attacks as “people who saved lives.”

The members of the controversial group were “under life-threatening danger… I therefore authorized for them to be transferred through Israel to other countries as an important humanitarian measure,” the Israeli PM said.

READ MORE: Israel evacuates 800 White Helmets from Syria to Jordan

Israel evacuated around 800 White Helmet staff and their families from southern Syria to Jordan overnight on Saturday.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, earlier wrote on Twitter that the Jewish state carried out the operation “upon request of the US, Canada and European states.”

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Second LeBron James mural defaced in Los Angeles (PHOTOS)

A second mural featuring new Los Angeles Lakers signing LeBron James has been vandalized following the player’s move to LA from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The mural, which featured James wearing his famous number 23 jersey and looking up at Lakers legends including Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson, was intended to represent the storied history of the basketball franchise which James has joined – but it appears that not everyone in Los Angeles is anticipating the arrival of the four-time NBA MVP.

READ MORE: ‘They will never understand’: Neymar hits out at World Cup diving critics

See below for the before and after shots, per CBS Sports.

In early July a similar mural was defaced by vandals. The original artist attempted to clean up the artwork, only to see it vandalized a second time. The artist has since returned to remove the entire artwork.

As to why these murals depicting the consensus greatest player of his generation’s move to Los Angeles are being defaced, that is anyone’s guess, but judging by the overwhelmingly positive reaction from Lakers fans to James’ big-money move from Cleveland, it would certainly appear as if it is the work of a very vocal minority.

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‘Trump Chicken’ blimp to be sailed around San Francisco Bay

In a fresh controversy involving a giant inflatable Donald Trump-themed blimp, US pranksters are taking a leaf out of the book of London protesters by sailing a 10-meter ‘Trump Chicken’ around San Francisco Bay.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest insult ever’: Farage slams London mayor for Trump baby blimp greenlight, Twitter reacts

The blimp incorporates a huge chicken with a quiff styled like the US president and a black-and-white prison outfit labeled ‘Prisoner 45’ – a reference to Trump being the 45th US president. It will be sailed around the bay aboard two boats on Sunday afternoon, beginning at 11:30am at the Hyde Street Harbor before going along the Embarcadero pier front. The event is set to end around 3pm, according to local broadcaster Kron 4.

The project was created by San Francisco resident Anne Pruett, who has raised around $ 715 through a GoFundMe page to help with the expense of the sailing. The accompanying post invites people to come down and take out their frustration on the chicken as it passes along the waterfront. “You can say anything you want to President Chicken. You can mock and squawk and swear like you’ve never sworn before in a proud expression of your First Amendment right. Bring your friends.”

READ MORE: German public TV trolls Trump with baby balloon collages

It isn’t the first time the Trump Chicken has been brought out around the bay. The inflatable effigy was debuted at the San Francisco Tax March in April last year, and most recently set sail on President’s Day in February. A similar incarnation of the blimp was also inflated behind the White House in April. Earlier this month, a giant inflatable Trump-baby balloon was flown over London to protest against the US president’s visit to the UK.

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Biking Kadyrov pedals for 40 km to inspect Chechen capital Grozny (VIDEO)

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia’s Republic of Chechnya, switched his car for bicycle to check the preparations for Grozny’s upcoming 200th birthday, and said he rode 40 kilometers around “the most beautiful city in the world.”

“40 kilometers on the road or more… this is what the wheels of my bicycle made in Grozny,” Kadyrov told his followers on Russian VK (VKontakte) social network.

The Chechen leader also posted a groovy video from his bike trip, in which he is seen conquering hills like a pro and making selfies with amazed citizens.

“Driving along the avenues and streets by car is one thing, but it’s a completely different story when you’re on a bike,” Kadyrov wrote. “You meet friends, talk to the people of Chechnya as well as numerous guests of the city.” 

The Chechen leader said that “more and more” tourists are coming to the republic and it was important for him to know their opinion about Grozny and Chechnya.

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Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov speaks at the Grozny State Concert Hall on the Chechen Language Day © Said Tsarnaev

Kadyrov was also, however, inspecting how well Grozny is preparing for its 200th anniversary in October – and seemed to have been satisfied with what he saw.

“This is the best and most beautiful city on Earth. These are the thoughts that came to my mind when I drove for several hours around the capital of Chechnya,” he wrote.

Kadyrov is known as an avid sports fan. He’s a regular at the home games of FC Akhmat Grozny in the Russian Premier League, plays football himself with visiting stars and even stages sparring matches with mixed martial arts fighters.

The internet users praised the Chechen leader for using a bicycle as means of transportation, calling him an “example for other politicians.” Some suggested that making all the officials in Russia to switch cars for bicycles would help the save funds in the budget.

“I’m just curious… were the bodyguards on bikes too?” one of the commentators wondered, while another recalled the North Korean security running after the Kim Jong-un’s limo during the summit with Donald Trump in Singapore earlier this year.

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Some in German media are using my Turkish background as right-wing propaganda – Ozil

Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil has hit out at elements of the German media, accusing them of using his Turkish background and his meeting in May with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “right-wing propaganda.”

Ozil, who is of Turkish descent, released a series of lengthy statements on Sunday addressing his performances at the World Cup – where defending champions Germany suffered a disastrous group stage exit – as well as on a meeting he held with Turkish President Erdogan back in May.  

READ MORE: Ozil still owes fans explanation about Erdogan meeting – German FA chief

The Arsenal midfielder, 29,  accused some in the national media of “trying to turn the nation of Germany against me” over the meeting with Erdogan and using it as an excuse for the team’s poor World Cup campaign.

“A lot of people talk about my performances – many applaud and many criticize,” he said. “If a newspaper or pundit finds fault in a game I play in, then I can accept this – I’m not a perfect footballer and this often motivates me to work and train harder.   

“But what I can’t accept are German media outlets repeatedly blaming my dual heritage and a simple picture for a bad World Cup on behalf of an entire squad.

“Certain German media newspapers are using my background and photo with President Erdogan as right-wing propaganda to further their political cause. Why else did they use pictures and headlines with my name as direct explanation for defeat in Russia?” Ozil added.

“They didn’t criticize my performances, they didn’t criticize the team’s performances, they just criticized my Turkish ancestry and respect for my upbringing. This crosses a personal line that should never be crossed, as newspapers try to turn the nation of Germany against me.”  

He also noted that German World Cup winner Lothar Matthaus “met with another world leader a few days back, and received almost no media criticism” – possibly referring to when Matthaus met Russian leader Vladimir Putin during the World Cup in Russia.  

READ MORE: Die Mannschaft disaster: Where did it all go wrong for Germany?

The Tweet followed an earlier message in which Ozil had explained the reasoning behind his controversial meeting with Erdogan in May – when he met the Turkish leader in London along with fellow German international Ilkay Gundogan.

Both players are of Turkish descent, but were heavily criticized at the time over apparent divided loyalties and for also meeting a leader whom the German FA later described as “not sufficiently respecting” the values that it stands for.

Gundogan later said the meeting was not intended as a political statement, although Ozil had remained silent on the matter until his series of tweets on Sunday.  

READ MORE: Germany’s Gundogan booed by own fans over meeting with Turkish president (VIDEO)

In his first message on the issue on Sunday, former Real Madrid player Ozil had said the meeting had “no political intentions” and that it was simply out of respect for his Turkish heritage.

Ozil wrote that he “had two hearts, one German and one Turkish,” and that his mother had taught him “to always be respectful and never forget where I came from.”

He noted that he had met Erdogan on previous occasions, and that being photographed with Erdogan in May “wasn’t about politics or elections, it was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country.”

He added that the event “was not an endorsement of any policies. In fact, we spoke about the same topic that we do every time we have met – football – as he [Erdogan] too was a player in his youth.”

Ozil and four-time winners Germany crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage after suffering two defeats in their three group games – their worst performance at the tournament since 1938.

READ MORE: Holders Germany crash out of World Cup after South Korea claim late victory in Kazan

The player is currently with club team Arsenal as they prepare to fly to Singapore to continue their pre-season preparations. 

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Russia ditching US Treasuries for gold in bid to protect economy & diversify – analysts to RT

Russia has left the top-30 list of top lenders to the United States by radically slashing US Treasury bills ownership. RT-polled analysts have shared their opinion on the move.

“Both political and economic reasons could be found here. The Central Bank may have thought that Russia-owned Treasuries could be frozen because of geopolitical tensions. The regulator announced in spring that it plans to diversify its reserves,” said Zhanna Kulakova, financial consultant at TeleTrade.

The analyst thinks the Russian central bank could re-invest the money from the sale into Chinese bonds and gold. “Gold is a tangible asset that can not be completely depreciated under any circumstances. In periods of global financial or political crises, gold will be much more useful than securities or cash,” Kulakova said noting that gold is also prone to price fluctuations from time to time.

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© Thomas White

The analyst notes that Russia’s liquidation of its US Treasury holdings, has an impact on the dollar. “China, which is the world’s largest holder of Treasuries (about $ 1.2 trillion), can affect the dollar rate and the yield of US bonds. If you sharply dump such a volume of securities on the market, then the dollar rate will be shaken, and the yield on treasure will soar,” she concluded.

Vladimir Rojankovski, an expert at the International Financial Center in Moscow, gives another reason for Russia withdrawing its assets from the US. “They could be frozen by foreign courts based on the results of biased/politicized legal proceedings,” he said.

The analyst also notes that the US Treasuries yield curve is flattening, which makes the notes less attractive for investments. A flattening yield curve is also often regarded as a predictor of a recession.

Rojankovski praises the move by the Russian Central Bank to diversify, but warns that gold price could be manipulated on the market like oil. “In the event of a global decline in the interest of large sovereign investors in US Treasury bonds, I expect an increase in speculative activity in precious metals in order to artificially lower their market valuation,” he said.

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

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‘We don’t want US in Afghanistan!’ Locals vent anger after family of 14 killed in airstrike (VIDEO)

An airstrike killed a number of Afghan civilians in the Kunduz province, where a family of 14 perished in the bombing. Local authorities said no one warned civilians about the coming strike.

RT’s Ruptly agency have filmed bombed-out houses in Chahar Dara district, Kunduz province, that was hit by a Thursday airstrike Afghan authorities claim was carried out by the US-led coalition. Footage shows a digger sifting through the debris at the site of the airstrike, where 14 civilians, all said to be family members, had died.

Omerkhel, a local resident, described the scene, saying “their families are under the earth, the machine is working to get them out of the damaged places.” He added victims of the bombing were women and children.

Another man emotionally said: “They do not allow Afghanistan to be safe; we don’t want America in Afghanistan any more. Look at this child’s leg, what is his sin?”

WARNING: The footage contains scenes that you may find disturbing.

Local authorities say the airstrike came unannounced, and accused the coalition of failing to warn civilians in advance. Zalmai Farooqi, Governor of the Chahar Dara District of the Kunduz Province, lamented not having been informed of the airstrike before it took place.

“No one was informed, neither the national army – not even the police and ourselves. If they don’t [inform us] then we cannot manage to inform the people,” he explained.

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Afghan security forces take positions while responding to blasts and gunfire. January 24, 2018. © Parwiz

Ruptly has reached out to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for comment, but to no result so far. Meanwhile, NATO’s Resolute Support mission told AFP in a statement that US forces had carried out air strikes “in support of Afghan-led ground operations” in the district.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said on Friday the civilians were killed during a “joint operation” by local and coalition forces, according to TOLO News. It said an investigation team will be dispatched to learn about identity of the pilot who conducted the bombing. 

UN had recently estimated that the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan in the first six months of 2018 has hit a record high despite a ceasefire put in place in June. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said a total of 1,692 civilians have been killed this year so far, the most recorded in the same time period since records began in 2009. 

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‘They will never understand’: Neymar hits out at World Cup diving critics

Brazil forward Neymar has rejected the widespread criticism he received for what many observers considered to be an overly-theatrical response to challenges during the World Cup in Russia.

Criticism of the world’s most expensive player was widespread throughout Russia 2018, with the PSG man starring in a series of internet memes designed to poke fun at his reaction to strong tackles.

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Neymar, though, says that these critics can’t possibly understand exactly what happens on the field.

“Do you think I want to suffer tackles all of the time? No, it is painful, it hurts,” Neymar said via Sky Sports.

“After the games I stay back for four or five hours putting on ice, it’s complicated but if you haven’t experienced that you will never understand. I saw [the jokes], but I took them with a humor.

“Even yesterday I posted on Instagram a joke with the children about it. My football is to dribble, to face the opponent, I can’t stand in front of the opponent and say ‘my dear, excuse me I want to score a goal’, I can’t do that.

“I have to dribble past him, I have to try to do something and he will not allow me to go past and he will try to foul me. A lot of time I’m faster and lighter than other players and they tackle me, and the referee is there for that.”

READ MORE: Neymar’s playacting makes people laugh – Dutch legend Van Basten

Meanwhile, Neymar has rejected speculation that he is in line to replace Cristiano Ronaldo in the Real Madrid team and insists he will remain in the French capital with PSG.

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‘Little doubt’ FBI & DOJ misled courts in Carter Page probe – Trump on FISA files

President Donald Trump has claimed files about his former campaign adviser Carter Page confirm that the Department of Justice and FBI had misled the courts. Separately, he suggested his campaign was “spied upon illegally.”

Donald Trump on Sunday lashed out at the FBI and the Department of Justice, which released over 400 pages of its initial and renewed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests pertaining to Carter Page, Trump’s ex-foreign policy adviser.

Praising Judicial Watch, a conservative foundation that studied the files, the president tweeted: “As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of “Justice” and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!”

In a subsequent message, Trump suggested his 2016 presidential campaign has been under unlawful surveillance orchestrated by his Democratic contender. “Looking more and more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC,” the angry tweet said.

Trump also alluded to the Democratic primaries, which he had previously called rigged in favor of Clinton and against Bernie Sanders: “Ask her how that worked out – she did better with Crazy Bernie. Republicans must get tough now. An illegal Scam!”

Page departed from Trump campaign in September 2016 after reports of his links to Russian officials have surfaced in the media.

The trove of heavily redacted documents with some of the pages completely blacked out reveals that the FBI filed its first request under FISA a month after Page formally relinquished his duties as Trump’s advisor. A series of subsequent follow-up requests have all been granted by the FISA court, with the last one approved in June 2017.

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© Carlos Barria

The FBI has justified its motion alleging that Page “has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government” which allegedly enlisted his services to “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election.”

The agency further claims that Page did “knowingly engage in clandestine intelligence activities…for or on behalf of such foreign power” noting that it believes the Russian government “coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s [Trump’s] campaign.”

The release of the papers sparked a ruckus on Twitter, with Trump opponents rejoicing that one of his former associates have been supposedly caught red-handed in collusion with the Russians. The FBI has produced a list of damning accusations against Page that include meeting with two Russian officials as part of his supposed “coordination” with Moscow. During one of such meetings, Page, the FBI alleged, discussed a possibility of receiving compromising materials about Clinton from Russia.

The report claims that Page allegedly met with Igor Sechin, CEO of the state-run oil giant Rosneft, with whom they allegedly “discussed future bilateral energy cooperation” and the prospects of lifting western sanctions imposed on Russia following its reunification of Crimea in 2014.

The FISA request also argues that Christopher Steele, whose salacious Trump dossier was in part paid for by Fusion GPS that received funding from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s Campaign, was “never advised as to motivation behind the research” into Trump’s ties to Russia.

Page himself has slammed the FBI accusations against him as ungrounded, telling the Hill on Saturday that he is “having trouble finding any small bit of this document that rises above complete ignorance and/or insanity.”

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Runaway artillery gun hits taxi in Canada (PHOTOS)

An investigation is underway in Canada after a runaway artillery gun detached itself from a military vehicle and rolled into afternoon traffic.

The incident occurred around 1 pm on Saturday in the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, where witnesses saw two members of the Canadian Armed Forces unsuccessfully chase after the howitzer after it mysteriously detached from the military vehicle towing it, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Witnesses report that the gun was only slowed down and came to a halt after coming into contact with the empty passenger side of a nearby taxi.

No one was injured during the incident, according to Nanaimo Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who along with Canadian Forces personnel are investigating how the towed gun managed to get loose.

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