Russian ambassador meets new US national security adviser Bolton

The newly-appointed White House national security adviser John Bolton has met with Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to discuss the US-Russia relationship amid unprecedented tensions between Washington and Moscow.

“Ambassador Bolton reiterated that it is the interest of both the United States and Russia to have better relations, but that this will require addressing concern regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the reckless use of chemical weapon in the United Kingdom, and the situations in Syria and Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement.

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‘Symbolic move, huge benefits’: Romania to relocate its Israel embassy to Jerusalem

The Romanian government has adopted a memorandum to officially transfer the country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to the leader of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

“Romania is moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move has already begun, a memorandum has been approved,” the head of the ruling Social Democratic Party, Liviu Dragnea, told Romanian TV channel ANTENA 3. “We basically pretended the embassy was in Tel Aviv, but practically all of the work was at Jerusalem.”

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The US consulate compound in Jerusalem © Ammar Awad

Dragnea noted that the decision has a “huge symbolic value” for bilateral relations with Israel, where some 500,000 Romanians found their new home. According to the politician, relocation of the country’s embassy is a “huge opportunity” that will bring “some very short, medium and long-term benefits.”

The news of Romania’s decision was not welcomed by the Palestinians, who consider East Jerusalem the capital of their future state, along the 1967 borders. “Such a step would constitute a violation of the rights of the Palestinians and would be contrary to international resolutions,” Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said on Thursday, after meeting the Romanian representative. He added that the transfer of the Romanian embassy would “further remove the chances for peace.”

Palestinian-Israeli tensions have reached an all-time high after December 6, when US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the state capital of Israel and ordered the relocation of US embassy there. Almost daily violence has engulfed the Palestinian territories, which have a massive support from their Arab League neighbors. Israel, in response, continues to suppress protesters using live ammunition, armed vehicles, tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades.

READ MORE: Guatemala announces relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem

Despite the violent backlash, the US embassy is scheduled to open its new office on May 14, while Guatemala – the second country to officially announce such a move – will open an embassy in Jerusalem on May 16. Romania is yet to announce the timeline of its planned relocation.

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In historic first, Senator brings newborn baby into hallowed chamber, inspires vote

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) made history on Thursday when she became the first member to bring her newborn baby onto the floor of the US Senate. Duckworth is the first sitting senator to give birth in office.

The Illinois lawmaker tweeted a picture of baby Maile’s outfit ahead of the pair’s arrival at Capitol Hill. Duckworth was there to vote against President Donald Trump’s nominee to take charge of NASA. Former Representative Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma was approved by a narrow margin, 50-49.

“I made sure she has a jacket so she doesn’t violate the Senate floor dress code (which requires blazers),” Duckworth wrote on Twitter. “I’m not sure what the policy is on duckling onesies, but I think we’re ready.”

After giving birth earlier this month, Duckworth kicked off the debate over Senate rules that barred parents from bringing their children into the chamber. Since all Senate votes have to be cast in person, this would have prevented Duckworth from serving both the needs of her constituents and her newborn.

READ MORE: ‘Vastly outnumbered’ US forces would struggle to win war with North Korea – former general

The proposal to allow infants into the chamber was initially met with skepticism by some members, most notably Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who worried a rule change would lead to multiple babies crawling around the chamber in the future. However, a motion to allow entry for children under the age of one later passed without objection.

Currently, 21 women hold seats in the 100-member Senate. Only 50 women have served as senators in the history of the institution. Duckworth is one of 10 women to give birth while in Congress and gave birth to her first child while serving in the House of Representatives. She is a veteran of the Iraq War, where she lost both legs in combat.

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Macron’s fizzle: 12 French missiles launched at Syria, but several more fail to fire

The French Navy had to use a backup warship to fire three cruise missiles at Syria after a planned barrage failed to launch. The airborne missiles had issues, too, with at least one of the ten failing to fire properly.

France took part last Friday night in the US-led missile attack against Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma. The French contribution to the “punishment” of the Syrian government for what may have well been a fabrication, was relatively small: three naval versions of MBDA’s Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles and nine airborne missiles of the same model, launched by five Rafale fighter jets. Apparently, not everything went as planned.

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Emmanuel Macron (R) speaks to Vladimir Putin in the Galerie des Batailles in Versailles, France, May 29, 2017.  © Stephane De Sakutin

Both the French Navy and the Air Force had difficulties in delivering, according to French media. The country’s Navy had deployed, to the eastern Mediterranean, three Aquitaine-class multipurpose frigates armed with SCALP Naval missiles – the lead l’Aquitaine, l’Auvergne and Le Languedoc. Only the latter vessel fired a barrage of three missiles.

The French defense publication La Lettre A reported that the first salvo of three missiles failed to fire. The Le Languedoc then acted as a backup platform for the strike. According to the newspaper L’Opinion, the navy’s plan involved the firing of “more than three” missiles, but the third frigate missed a short window of opportunity and was ordered to abort launch.

The French Navy has confirmed the failure of the first salvo, saying the use of the backup ship was part of a normal contingency during naval operations. The April 14 launch of the SCALP Naval was the first combat use of the weapon system, and apparently it didn’t go as smooth as the Navy had hoped it would.

The French Air Force also had a glitch in executing their strike. Each of the five Rafale jets sent to attack Syria carried two SCALP missiles. Only nine were properly launched, while the tenth apparently malfunctioned and had to be dropped in a safe zone instead. The hiccup, which was first reported by the blog Le mamouth, was brushed aside by the French military as inconsequential. “All targets have been dealt with” by other missiles, it was explained, according to the magazine Le Point.

READ MORE: After visiting Douma, western media begin to question ‘gas attack’ narrative

The less-than-perfect execution of the strike adds to the embarrassment of the Elysee Palace over the Syria adventure. President Emmanuel Macron already has faced criticism for ordering the strike without consent from the French Parliament and may be placed in an even more awkward position over his claim that his government has classified intelligence proving that the alleged chemical attack on April 7 had been launched by the Syrian government. Over the past days an increasing number of reports by journalists on the ground indicated that there was no use of chemical weapons in Douma on that day at all.

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‘High school kids shut you down’: Fox News host Ingraham mocked on-air over sponsors boycott

Fox News host Laura Ingraham was left red-faced on Thursday night, after a guest mocked her show’s loss of high-profile sponsors due to derogatory comments she made about a survivor of the Parkland school shooting.

READ MORE: Fox host Laura Ingraham slams ‘bullying left’ after ad scandal

Ingraham was interviewing John Cox, a Republican candidate for governor of California, and Enrique Morones, the founder of the human rights group Border Angels, during a segment to discuss the state’s sanctuary laws. As Cox painted a bleak picture of an immigrant crime wave sweeping unchecked across California, Morones decided he’d heard enough. When Cox declared himself “the next governor of California,” Morones shot back: “Who is this guy? I’ve never even heard of him.”

Clearly miffed, Ingraham chided Morones for what she believed was his hostility during the interview. “Enrique, I just want to tell you, God bless you, I really wish the best for you. But you have been so incredibly rude and nasty since almost the first second of this appearance,” Ingraham said.

Uncowed, Morones hit back, referencing her show’s loss of more than 20 sponsors since the host mocked Parkland survivor David Hogg on Twitter for not being accepted to a number of colleges. “Where’s your sponsors?” Morones said. “David Hogg got rid of half of them. High school kids shut you down.”

Hogg led the boycott of ‘The Ingraham Angle’ after her tweet. Ingraham was later forced to apologize. Fox defended Ingraham, announcing that her show would go on a week’s break. She returned to the air on April 9 with a show during which she attacked the “intolerant” American left for “bullying” conservatives into silence.

READ MORE: Celebrities jump into feud between Laura Ingraham and LeBron James

Ingraham’s popularity remains high despite the controversy, with total viewership of her program averaging 2.7 million people since her return. Ingraham is no stranger to controversy. Previously she became embroiled in a spat with NBA superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, after they made critical remarks about President Donald Trump.

Presenting footage of the comments on her show, Ingraham dismissed the pair, saying: “Must they run their mouths like that?” – a comment which some critics felt was racially charged.

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No matter how hard George Soros & Brussels try, no illegal migrants will be admitted to Hungary – FM

Budapest will continue to uphold its strong anti-immigrant stance, despite attempts by the EU and media moguls to portray migration as a positive process and a basic “human right,” Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said.

“No matter how many times George Soros goes to Brussels, no matter how many times the issue of illegal immigration is placed on the agenda, and no matter how many allies George Soros has in Brussels, we will not back down. Illegal immigrants will continue to not be allowed entry into Hungary in [the] future,” the official said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Viktor Orban during a press conference in Budapest on April 10.

Following the landslide re-election win of the conservative anti-immigrant Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary has experienced pressure from the EU and other pro-migrant parties, Szijjarto stated. The results of the decisive win were challenged as the billionaire George Soros came to Brussels to hold talks with the Vice President of the European Commission. A day after Soros’ visit, the EU Parliament held a plenary session on the UN Global Compact for Migration.

“The debate in the European Parliament is also a clear indication of the fact that Brussels and the UN want the same thing: for illegal immigrants to come to Europe,” Szijjarto said, describing the draft resolution as a mere tool “aimed at portraying migration as a fundamental human right and discussing the positive effects of migration.” It said the pro-immigration lobby in the EU parliament blindly pushes its agenda and targets countries which oppose it, while downplaying the grim effects of migration.

“If migration only has positive effects, how is it possible that over the past two and a half years 330 [people] have been killed in Europe in terrorist attacks that have been committed by people with immigrant backgrounds?” the official wondered. “Why are George Soros and his people in the European Parliament fighting against certain European countries instead of acting to combat terrorism?”

“We continue to reject the claim that migration is a positive process,” Szijjarto stressed. Despite the pressure from Brussels, Budapest will continue to oppose it and will solve its “population and job market challenges with Hungarians and with Hungarian families.”

“We would like to see more Hungarian children and more Hungarian families in Hungary, not more migrants. We love our own homeland and will not give it over to others,” Szijjarto concluded.

In Hungary, Soros is often painted as the arch-nemesis of Orban, seeking to meddle in the internal affairs of the country and to push a pro-immigration agenda through his NGOs.

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David Hogg’s book title angers Holocaust survivors and relatives

Student-turned-activist David Hogg has written a book about the Parkland, Florida school shooting and his anti-gun movement. However, its title ‘Never Again’ has angered Holocaust survivors and their relatives.

Hogg’s book charts the rapid growth of the movement, including the “March for Our LIves” rally that saw a reported 500,000 anti-second amendment protesters descend on Washington, DC. The book’s title borrows a phrase traditionally used in remembrance of the Holocaust.

Hogg and his sister Lauren announced the book’s launch in a pair of tweets on Wednesday. The announcement comes just two days before the planned nationwide school walkout protest –on April 20– in support of tougher gun control measures.

Some Twitter users saw Hogg’s use of the phrase as cheapening the Holocaust, though.

“Of all the titles you could have chosen,” read one tweet. “Stealing NEVER AGAIN from the Holocaust? Are you kidding? Five million lost souls and their descendants are not pleased.”

Hogg has been relentless in calling for strict gun control since the Parkland tragedy in February. In addition to helping organize the “March for Our Lives” protest, he has publicly called for boycotts against Fox News’ Laura Ingraham and against banks that lend to weapons manufacturers and retailers.

The book describes itself as “a manifesto for the movement begun that day, one that has already changed America–with voices of a new generation that are speaking truth to power, and are determined to succeed where their elders have failed.”

According to Hogg, the proceeds of the book will be used to “help heal the community.” The publisher will make a donation to Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun action fund set up by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

An earlier attempt at promoting gun-control armbands using the hashtag #NeverAgain backfired on the Hoggs, after actor James Woods blasted it on social media as tone-deaf. Lauren deleted the tweet and apologized.

You might have a little trouble getting Jewish Americans to embrace this look,” Woods tweeted. “Do you have some shiny jackboots and brown shirts to go with it? Guessing maybe you skipped history class while you were shilling for the DNC.”

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Russian-American flight connection could be severed as US reduces visa issuance – Moscow

Direct flight connections between Russia and the US could come to a complete halt, due to Washington’s ongoing “visa blockade” policy against Russian citizens, the Foreign Ministry has said.

“We cannot rule out that the two countries could be left without [direct] air transportation. Aeroflot, which is the only company to operate regular flights between Russia and the US, might be forced to halt them, as its pilots are facing mounting difficulties with American visas,” the ministry said in a statement.

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Russian Sports Ministry plans to open World Cup 2018 Fan Fest in Crimea

Russian Deputy Sport Minister Natalia Parshikova has announced plans to open FIFA Fan Fest squares on the Crimean peninsula during the 2018 World Cup.

Zones were rumored to be planned for Simferopol and Sevastopol, as well as smaller sites in Yalta, Yevpatoria and several other large cities for the tournament, which kicks off in Moscow on June 14.

“Crimea is a constituent territory of the Russian Federation which has the same rights as any other federal subject of the country,” Parshikova told TASS on Thursday during the Yalta Economic Forum.

“In order to open a fan zone and hold a fan festival, we need to sign an agreement with [world football governing body] FIFA. The Crimean Football Union remains in close contact with the [Russia 2018] Local Organizing Committee in discussing the issue. I think a Fan Fest square will be definitely opened there,” she added.

FIFA Fan Fest squares are public spaces which welcome thousands of fans from around world during the World Cup to watch matches on giant screens and generally enjoy the football atmosphere.

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© wfcenisey

Inspired by the huge success of unofficial public fan festivals during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, FIFA included the concept into the official program for the 2006 version in Germany.

Russia expects to welcome around one million visitors during the World Cup and a Fan Fest has been planned for each of the 11 World Cup host cities for Russia 2018.

Moscow’s 25,000-capacity version will be located on Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills), by the Moscow Lomonosov State University opposite Luzhniki Stadium, the venue for the tournament’s opening game and final.

Football fans coming to Russia this summer will also have the opportunity to also taste Russian national cuisine and buy souvenirs in specially designated areas.

It had been reported in December that fan zones would not operate in Crimea due to sanctions against the Crimean Football Union, which was not regarded as a member by FIFA.

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May accused of 'misleading Parliament' in Windrush scandal – but has she done it before?

Theresa May is facing renewed accusations of “misleading Parliament” after wrongly blaming the last Labour government for overseeing the destruction of thousands of landing cards belonging to the Windrush generation of immigrants.

RT looks at the current scandal, and asks whether the prime minister has misled Parliament before.

Windrush landing cards debacle

In Parliament on Wednesday, the PM denied any personal responsibility for the scandal that has left thousands of Caribbean migrants fearing for their right to remain in a country whose government had invited them to become British citizens after the Second World War.

In a fiery exchange at PMQ’s, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked the PM: “Yesterday, we learned in 2010 the Home Office destroyed the landing cards for a generation of Commonwealth citizens and so have told people, ‘we can’t find you in our system’. Did the prime minister, the then-home secretary, sign off that decision?”

May replied: “No, the decision to destroy the landing cards was taken in 2009 under a Labour government.”

However, a spokesperson for No.10 confirmed later that same day that this version of events was not correct, instead transferring the blame to the UK Border Agency (UKBA), saying: “In October 2010, the operational decision was taken in relation to the specific registry slips themselves. The prime minister was not involved in this process, this was an operational decision taken by UKBA.”

So just like the ‘go home or face arrest’ vans not being Theresa May’s fault because she was on holiday, as we have recently learned from her former special adviser, Nick Timothy, so it would seem she had nothing to do with the Windrush scandal. How convenient.

Extra £450 million for local police forces claim

As recently as March, Theresa May was rebuked by the chair of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), Sir David Norgrove, for falsely claiming that her government was providing an extra £450 million for local police forces. Responding to Labour MP Louise Haigh’s complaint on the issue, Norgrove said: “In terms of the particular points you make, the prime minister’s statement and the Home Office’s tweet could have led the public to conclude incorrectly that central government is providing an additional £450 million for police spending in 2018/19.”

He went on to clarify that “£270 million of the funding settlement will come from local council tax, if police and crime commissioners and mayors choose to raise these sums.”

So there is no guaranteed £450 million going to local police. Furthermore, a large amount of the funding settlement for police forces is dependent on revenue being generated from council tax, not central government. There was no subsequent apology from May for seemingly misleading Parliament and the public.

Homelessness has more than “halved” since peak under Labour in 2003

In late 2017, May was accused of spinning statistics on homelessness rather than understanding and tackling the problem proactively. The UKSA at the time raised concerns over the PM’s proclamation during PMQs that “statutory homelessness peaked under the Labour government and is down by over 50 percent since then.”

While it was true to say that statutory homelessness had peaked under Labour in 2003, it dropped dramatically in the intervening period and has subsequently risen under the Conservatives’ time in office.

READ MORE: Like ‘Nazi Germany’: Ex-civil service boss denounces May’s immigration policies

Just over 10,000 families were recorded as homeless when Labour left office in 2010. At the time of May’s misleading comments that number was nearly 14,500.

To many this seemed to be a cynical ploy by the PM to cover up the shameful reality of homelessness in Britain – the sixth richest country in the world.

The struggle to deport Abu Qatada – blame the pet cat

During a speech at the Conservative Party conference in 2011, Theresa May as the then-home secretary told her party faithful that she planned to implement new immigration rules to make it easier to deport foreign criminals.

In a reference to Abu Qatada, the Jordanian cleric who was to be eventually deported back to his home country, she complained he couldn’t be deported because of his pet cat, claiming: “We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act… about the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because, and I am not making this up, he had a pet cat.”

Embarrassingly for May, human rights and public lawyers such as Adam Wagner exposed this as a complete myth. Wagner explained in the Guardian at the time: “Had the policy been properly applied the immigration judge would have had to allow the appeal anyway, cat or no cat. And not only did the decision have nothing to do with a cat, it also had nothing to do with human rights either.”

That poor cat. What a complex it must have created for itself on an issue we now know was none of its making. We can only hope it moved on swiftly from such an unnecessarily stressful time.

Omar Baggili, RT Journalist

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