‘I’m fully intact’: Tillerson dismisses claim he was ‘castrated’ by Trump

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has dismissed a prominent Republican senator’s claim that President Donald Trump is trying to “publicly castrate” him by undermining his political efforts.

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© Jonathan Ernst

Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Tillerson rubbished Tennessee Senator Bob Corker’s assertion that he has been neutered because Trump undermined his diplomatic initiatives with North Korea.

“I checked, I’m fully intact,” Tillerson told host Jake Tapper in a deadpan manner.

The former ExxonMobil CEO revealed that President Trump has instructed him to continue his diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula.

“I want to make it clear that the president has made it clear to me he wants to solve this diplomatically… he is not seeking to go to war,” he said. “The diplomatic effort will continue until the first bomb drops.”

He then praised Trump, calling him “a very unique president.”

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that everyone sees him as the most unique president in modern history,” Tillerson said.

The secretary of state also repeatedly declined to deny reports he called Trump a “moron.”

“I’m not playing,” Tillerson said when Tapper asked about the alleged comment.

“These are the games of Washington. These are the destructive games of this town. I’m not dignifying the question with an answer, Jake, and I’m a little surprised that you want to spend so much time on it when there are so many issues around the world.”

READ MORE: Two Trumps confirmed? Donald says he met Virgin Islands ‘president’

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US destroying Syrian cities liberated from ISIS to obstruct pro-Assad forces – expert

The United States is losing ground, both in Syria and Iraq, and it wants to hold on to whatever it can in order to enter into negotiations later on, the US is losing ground, both in Syria and Iraq, Jamal Wakeem, international relations professor, Lebanese University, told RT.

Syrian troops on Saturday liberated the city of Al- Mayadeen in Deir ez-Zor province from ISIS, according to the Russian defense ministry.

RT:  How long could it take to liberate this remaining 8% of Syrian territory from ISIS?

Jamal Wakeem: I believe that ISIS had collapsed and to liberate the remaining eight percent is a matter of time. But I believe at the same time that the big challenge for the Syrian army and their allies is mainly the American interference in northeastern Syria, because they are backing Kurdish troops to control that area and call for an autonomous region there in order for the US to have an area of influence in northeastern Syria. The liberation of  Al-Mayadeen is a very important achievement for the Syrian army, because it strengthens its grip on one key city that lies on the line of communication that links Syria to Iraq, on the one hand, and at the same time it strengthens the position of the Syrian army in Deir ez-Zor, and it gives the Syrian army better access to northeastern Syria, in order to obstruct the attempts of the Americans and their allies to have like an autonomous region in northeastern Syria – specially at the time when the Kurdish forces have taken over Raqqa, and they have let ISIS forces to withdraw from the city with the objective of heading eastward in order to block the Syrian army from achieving major successes towards linking with Iraq.

RT:   Al-Mayadeen was liberated relatively quickly, in comparison with Deir ez-Zor, several parts of which are still under ISIS control. What have been the main differences in the two operations?

JW: First of all, Al-Mayadeen is a much smaller city than Deir ez-Zor. At the same time, the plan of ISIS was to hold on to Deir ez-Zor in order to obstruct the attempt of the Syrian army to have a strong position on the Euphrates in order to cross to the northern area of Syria. That’s why they focused on Deir ez-Zor and they gave less importance to Al-Mayadeen – this was one factor. Another factor was that the Syrian army was pressing in Deir ez-Zor, and at the same time was launching another attack on Al-Mayadeen. I believe that this was the main reason and of course we need to mention the support of the Russian air force and the Russian military experts, and of course Iranian forces fighting alongside the Syrian army.

RT:   In the city of Raqqa, where the US-backed anti-ISIS operation is ongoing… the Russian military say the coalition is using the wrong tactics, as they’re trying to destroy the city’s water supplies, which could of course impact greatly on civilians. Do you agree?

JW: The tactic used by the US forces – whether in Syria or in Iraq – is to cause as much damage as possible to make the cities that get liberated from ISIS hard to rebuild and to reconstruct. At the same time, they want to turn the issue of the civilians and their needs as a mean to obstruct further advances of the Syrian army – especially that the US is losing ground, both in Syria and Iraq, and it wants to hold on to whatever it could in order to enter into negotiations later on. So I believe that this was the case similar to what happened in the western part of Mosul, for example, where the American forces bombarded the city and destroyed up to 80 percent of the western quarter of Mosul.

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Prehistoric burial ground unearthed at UK army garrison site (PHOTOS)

Archaeologists have uncovered prehistoric remains at the site of a large garrison which is being built to house British troops who are returning from Germany.

The bodies were found by workers carrying out excavations as part of the building of Larkhill Garrison in Wiltshire in southern England. They were found underneath where a football pitch is being laid.

One of the bodies belonged to an infant while another is believed to be a teenage male aged between 15 and 17.  

“He would have been robust in appearance and his remains contained no obvious signs of pathology,” Ruth Panes of Wessex Archaeology said in a statement.

“The infant had been placed into a grave in an existing ditch and buried. Over time, the ditch gradually silted up and sealed the grave.”

Ancient pottery was also found in the ditch fill which sealed the grave, and experts say this suggests the burial is also prehistoric.

“One body was placed in a crouched position and we know such burials typically date between 2400 to 1600 BC,” Panes added.

The remains are among a long list of archaeological finds that were unearthed during the construction of the garrison. Prehistoric pits and ditches, in addition to military air raid trenches, thought to date from WWII, were also unearthed.

“It is fascinating to learn about Larkhill’s past, as we watch its transformation for the future,” said the garrison’s deputy commander Lt Col David Penniall.

Larkhill is one of several garrisons which will cater for 4,000 British troops withdrawing from Germany in 2019.

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‘Until first bomb drops’: Tillerson vows to continue diplomatic efforts on N. Korea

Washington will continue its diplomatic efforts to solve the North Korean crisis only “until first bomb drops,” US State Secretary Rex Tillerson told CNN.

Tillerson appeared on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, where he told host Jake Tapper that President Donald Trump wants to resolve the Korean Peninsula crisis “diplomatically.”

He is not seeking to go to war [with North Korea],” Tillerson stated. “He made it clear… that he will continue diplomatic efforts.”

As I’ve told others these diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops,” Tillerson said.

Earlier in October, Trump tweeted that Tillerson is “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump wrote at the time, mockingly referring to the North Korean leader.

Trump and Kim have been engaged in a fierce war of words in recent months. Comments from each side have become more and more aggressive. On one occasion, the US president vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea if the US is attacked.

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US President Donald Trump © Joshua Roberts

Earlier in October, following his meeting with senior US military officials at the White House, Trump mysteriously said: “This is the calm before the storm.” He later confirmed that he was speaking about North Korea.

Pyongyang has repeatedly threatened to reduce the US to “ashes and darkness,” and has called for a nationwide struggle against “war-thirsty” Trump.

Washington continues to flex its military muscle with ally South Korea on the Korean Peninsula, conducting military drills which North Korea condemns. Earlier in October, the USS Ronald Reagan, with nearly 80 aircraft on board, entered the South China Sea on its way to the shores of South Korea. Drills will likely be held around October 20.

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Hurricane Ophelia threatens Ireland & UK with 90mph winds & flooding (VIDEOS)

A particularly violent hurricane season is finally coming to a close in the Atlantic, but not before yielding yet another surprise, as Ophelia is set to batter Ireland and the UK over the next two days.

Hurricane Ophelia formed in a persistent low-pressure system in the middle of the ocean, as opposed to developing in the tropics like the rest of this year’s hurricanes, and will lash northwestern Europe with winds of up to 90mph (144kph). Power outages, felled trees, and flooding are expected across Ireland and the United Kingdom.

“Flying debris is likely, such as tiles blown from roofs, as well as large waves around coastal districts with beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and properties. This leads to the potential for injuries and danger to life,” according to the British meteorological office.

READ MORE: Tropical triple threat: Irma followed by Hurricanes Katia & Jose

“We’ve had a very active hurricane season, but the remains of Hurricanes Maria and José passed us by harmlessly, as is usually the case,” a spokesperson for Ireland’s official weather service, Met Eireann, said, according to the Independent.

“But Ophelia is unusual because hurricanes would usually come from America or the Caribbean, whereas this one is coming from the southwest, below the Azores,” they added. “It’s worth noting that Hurricane Debbie also came from this unusual direction and source region.”

The Atlantic is typically too cold for hurricanes to develop, let alone survive long enough to make landfall in western Europe. It will also be the Atlantic’s tenth consecutive hurricane in 2017, Popular Science reports.

For context, there haven’t been this many Atlantic hurricanes since the 19th century.

While not unprecedented (Hurricane Vince was the first recorded tropical hurricane to make landfall on the Iberian Peninsula in 2005), Ophelia formed where hurricanes usually disappear; in the North Atlantic. These types of storms usually require warm water to survive, and once water temperatures drop, they dissipate.  

By the time Ophelia makes landfall in western Europe, it will have lost the majority of its tropical characteristics. This can, however, create an even more expansive area of effect, with winds stretching out further than they would if the storm didn’t reach the ‘post-tropical’ phase.  

“Given the lead time and the inherent uncertainties that come with the modelling of a tropical system it won’t be possible to quantify the exact timing, nor the strength or intensity of the wind and rain,” Ireland’s Met Éireann wrote in a statement. Met Éireann has issued a red weather alert, its highest level warning, across the west of Ireland.

The temperature in the upper atmosphere is bitterly cold, creating convection currents in the air stream between the upper and lower atmosphere which has allowed Ophelia to survive for so long, while also creating intense thunderstorms in the hurricane’s eye.

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US porn king offers $10mn for ‘smoking gun’ to impeach Trump

Unease over Donald Trump appears to have hit a new level after ‘porn king’ Larry Flynt offered the hefty sum of up to $ 10 million for a “smoking gun” that would help to impeach the “moron” president.

“Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine announce a cash offer of up to $ 10 million for information leading to the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump,” an advertisement published in the Washington Post on Sunday said

The founder of the pornographic magazine did not pull any punches on President Trump, who has not even completed his first year in the Oval Office. Flynt said that the president simply is “dangerously unfit” to exercise his duties.

“Impeachment would be a messy, contentious affair, but the alternative – three more years of destabilizing dysfunction – is worse,” the advertisement reads.

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Hustler publisher Larry Flint leaves the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, DC, 01 May, 1999. (AFP Photo/Manny Ceneta)

The porn king is looking for anyone who can provide a “smoking gun” that could lead to Trump’s removal from power. The required information may be “buried in Trump’s top secret tax returns or in other records from his far-flung investments.”

Flynt says he does not expect Trump’s “billionaire cronies” to “rat him out.” However, he believes there are people out there who can come up with the necessary information and for whom the $ 10 million would be a lot.

Flynt told the Washington Post that he expects to get the dirt “within a few days.” 

“I don’t think you can live as recklessly as Trump has for 30 years and not leave some baggage along the way.” The Hustler magazine founder said he could not think of “something more patriotic” than getting the US president out of office as the world is being “devastated by the most powerful moron in history.”

Apparently, Flynt has had a grudge against the president for quite some time. In October 2016, a month ahead of the presidential election, he offered up to $ 1 million for scandalous videos or audio recordings of Trump.

READ MORE: Larry Flynt will pay $ 1 million for a Washington sex scandal

Hustler is looking for “verifiable video footage or audio recordings for use prior to the November 8 election clearly showing Donald Trump engaging in illegal activity or acting in a sexually demeaning or derogatory manner,” the ad said

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Cakes in space: Scientists launch sweet treat 120,000ft in the air (VIDEO)

Scientists have sent a Tunnocks Tea Cake where no confectionary has ever gone before after launching the beloved Scottish snack into space.

The pioneering teacake, named Terry, was launched from Renfrewshire, west of Glasgow, on Friday.

It took around 90 minutes to reach a peak altitude of 37,007 meters (121,414 feet). It then took approximately 40 minutes to descend back to Earth where it landed in Galloway Forest Park.

The chocolate treat was sent into orbit on a hydrogen weather balloon by researchers from The Glasgow Science Centre. The experiment was streamed live on Facebook with more than 33,000 people following the biscuit’s adventure.

According to the researchers, “Terry was pretty intact when he landed in a tree” in the park.

“We engage people with space science every day, and we thought ‘what better way to spark people’s imaginations and interest in STEM than for us to launch something into space ourselves,’” Dr Stephen Breslin of Glasgow Science Centre told BBC Scotland.

“We are delighted by how many people joined us at GSC, and online, to watch Terry’s space adventures.”

Terry the teacake isn’t the first famous British food to be launched into space. In December last year, a meat pie was launched into orbit from outside a pub in Wigan to celebrate the upcoming World Pie Eating Championships.

READ MORE: Pie-oneering meat pastry makes bold journey into space (VIDEO)

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17th in a row: US Navy unveils newest Tomahawk-capable Virginia-class nuclear sub

The US Navy has just commissioned its newest Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine at a General Dynamics shipyard in Groton, Connecticut. Six more subs are under construction as part of a giant 28-vessel deal.

The USS South Dakota, a Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, was officially unveiled on Saturday at Groton shipyard in Connecticut, where it was christened by Deanie Dempsey, wife of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, local media reported.

READ MORE: Run silent, run scared? US Navy alarmed by ‘effective, advanced’ Russian subs

Construction began in 2013, and her keel was laid in April 2016, according to the submarine’s website. Construction works were carried out by General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB). 

The submarine, which accommodates a crew of about 130 sailors, is the 17th Virginia-class attack submarine and seventh Virginia-class Block III submarine.

Block III Virginia-class submarines feature a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual launch tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes (VPL), each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to the US Navy.

Virginia-class submarines are built to operate in shallow and open-ocean waters, conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare, support special operations, collect intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and lay mines.

The US Navy boasts that “their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.”

The US military-industrial complex has recently ramped up its submarine building, with the workforce of General Dynamics Electric Boat growing to around 16,000 people, while modernizing its shipyards.

In recent years, top Pentagon officials have claimed the US is failing to keep pace with near-peer opponents like Russia or China in terms of submarine deployments. Last year, Admiral Mark Ferguson, commander of US Naval Forces in Europe, told CNN the Navy is facing better and more numerous Russian submarines capable of taking out aircraft carrier groups.

READ MORE: US nuke sub arrives in South Korean port amid tensions on peninsula

“The submarines that we’re seeing are much more stealthy,” Ferguson said. “We’re seeing [the Russians] have more advanced weapons systems, missile systems that can attack land at long ranges, and we also see their operating proficiency is getting better as they range farther from home waters.”

US Navy top brass have been lobbying to pour money into shipbuilding due to the perceived threat from Russia, which Vice Admiral James Foggo III, commander of the US 6th Fleet, believes is “rapidly closing the technological gap.”

“Russian submarines are prowling the Atlantic, testing our defenses, confronting our command of the seas, and preparing the complex underwater battlespace to give them an edge in any future conflict,” Foggo wrote in a June article for the US Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine.

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Austria votes in snap parliamentary polls, right-wing FPO may propel into coalition govt

Austrians are heading to polling stations in the National Council elections, after which the nationalist Freedom Party may become a part of the coalition government for the first time in history.

Heading into Sunday’s election, the conservative candidate of the Austrian People’s Party (OVP), Sebastian Kurz, is leading the polls with Social Democratic Party (SPO) and the right-wing anti-immigrant Freedom Party (FPO) battling to secure second place.

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A mosque is pictured in the Tyrolean village of Telfs in western Austria © Dominic Ebenbichler

The aspiring 31-year-old Kurz, who has been Austria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration since 2013, is leading his political campaign along the center-right principles which seem to exploit the refugee issue.

Kurz called for a snap election in May amid tensions with a coalition partner, the SPO. The young politician previously backed plans to block refugee routes into Europe and supported a ban on full-face veils. He also supports cracking down on radical Islam, echoing FPO sentiments and luring in nationalist voters.

Leading FPO candidate Heinz-Christian Strache gained massive support ahead of the election by focusing on the country’s immigration policies and on issues such as unemployment, minimum wage and pensions.

The party, founded by a former Nazi SS member after the end of the World War II, stuck the nerve of the electorate by proposing to stop immigration and by speaking out against Islam.

The FPO support has grown to unprecedented level following EU-wide ‘Open Door’ migrant policy championed by Germany in wake of 2015 refugee crisis.

While the biggest number of migrants was welcomed by Berlin, Austria has received nearly 150,000 asylum requests since 2015. Comprising just over 1 percent of the population, their presence in the country became the number one debated issue in the election.

READ MORE: Austria calls for another extension to emergency EU border controls

One way or the other, the incumbent chancellor of Austria and chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Christian Kern, stands to lose his place as the head of the government. Unlike his rivals, Kern advocates a much softer stand on migration, instead placing emphasis on employment and the economy.

‘We don’t need them’: Austrian FM wants to end Islamic kindergartens to boost integration

A recent survey by Meinungsraum conducted for GMX.at shows that FPO might secure around 28.5 percent of the vote, followed by OVP with 26.5 percent. SPO is expected to attract roughly 20 percent of the vote.

Another poll by Research Affairs/Österreich predicts OVP to secure around 33 percent of the vote. FPO is predicted to come in second with around 27 percent, followed by SPO with 23 percent of the vote.

Regardless of performance in Sunday’s election, the three main parties must work together to form a new coalition government. Neither the OVP nor the SPO has ruled out a coalition with the FPO, which may play the role of the kingmaker at the end of the day since as the revival of OVP/ SPO coalition seems unlikely. Other parties such as the liberal NEOS (The New Austria and Liberal Forum) and the Greens are expected to secure single digits.

In Austria, anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to vote in roughly 13,000 voting locations throughout the Alpine nation. There are about 6.4 million voters, and those who cast their ballots will decide 183 contested seats at the National Council.

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British man falls to his death while taking selfie at Indian temple on Friday the 13th

A 58-year-old British man died while taking a selfie at the Lakshmi Temple in Orchha, India. It was the last stop on a round-the-world trip with his wife Hilary that took in a total of 22 countries.

Roger Stotesbury, a documentary filmmaker from Buckingham near Oxford, fell from a height of 30 feet (nine meters) while reportedly taking a photograph of himself on Friday.

“He was the nicest man on the planet and they were an incredibly happy and devoted couple. It’s just awful,” a family spokesperson said, as cited by The Guardian.

Stotesbury and his wife Hilary began their round-the-world trip in November 2016, visiting Italy, Chile, Patagonia, Canada, Hawaii, Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia before arriving in India.

The couple rented out their home and put their personal belongings in storage for the voyage.

“We are Hilary and Roger, a married couple from England/Scotland who are in their mid fifties. Hilary’s motto is ‘just do it’ whilst Roger’s is ‘to die young as late as possible,” the couple wrote on their blog entitled ‘middle-aged gap year.’ Stotesbury fell as he tried to take a selfie at the temple in Orchha, 160 miles south of the Taj Mahal.

“We took the view that on your deathbed you never wish you’d spent more time in the office,” the pair wrote.

“We’ve seen our two kids off into the wider world and we have no more caring responsibilities for our parents. So we thought now is the time to take a gap year and travel whilst we still have the health and energy. After all you only live once.”

Roger was taken to Ramraja Hospital but died of his injuries soon after.  

“Roger and Hilary were completely in love with each other, like no other couple I know. Their children are distraught at what’s happened,” a family friend told The Telegraph.

“Neither of them thought it was a fatal accident when it happened. He went from being badly injured with a broken leg, to dying,” Gina Rozner, Mrs Stotesbury’s cousin, told the Telegraph.

“We understand he was trying to take a picture of himself on the wall which is only around 3 feet wide. His wife Hilary was standing just 3-4 feet away from him when the incident happened,” police officer Prateek Kumar said, as cited by The Telegraph.

“They were alone. They did not have a guide. Team of doctors will conduct autopsy but initial examination tells that he died of cardiorespiratory arrest and had suffered injuries in spinal cord.”

“We have started the legal proceedings in the case. This is a very hard time for his wife. She is in shock so we are not asking her several questions. We are providing all our support to her,” said police inspector DD Azad, as cited by The Telegraph.

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