‘They took out knives & stabbed the teacher’: Witnesses recall horrifying Perm school rampage

Fourth graders at a school in central Russia have described their horror after two masked teenagers armed with knives stormed into their classroom and stabbed the teacher before attacking students.

“It was the third class. We had arts and crafts, when suddenly two big guys came in,” said one fourth grader at school number 127, recalling the events for Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.

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© 59.ru

“They were wearing black trousers and sweatshirts. They had their mouths covered with dark masks and they wore sunglasses. Each of them had a knife,” the boy said.

The weapons were not just average kitchen knives, but “looked professional, made for hunting,” he explained.

When one of the attackers saw the teacher reaching for a phone, he ran up and grabbed her, the student recalled. In the meantime, another guy rushed at the children and started seizing them indiscriminately.

“I ran out to the street, there were sweepers. I told them about what happened and ran to the hospital with other kids. Other classmates ran to the shopping mall to shelter and call for help.”

Stricken with panic and fear, many of the primary school children, aged between nine and ten, could not escape the classroom right away, as one of the assailants was blocking the doorway. Another witness recalled the harrowing moment when he and his classmates started to scream for help after their teacher was stabbed.

“A high school student stood at the door and didn’t let us out, when we tried to sneak out. When we came up to him, he put out the knife,” the boy told Life.

The second teenager then began to target the children. “When he hit me with the knife, I moved to the window and when another came up to me, he showed with the gestures that he wouldn’t beat me, because I raised my hands.”

Eventually the children managed to escape the classroom. “They [the attackers] did everything without a word and didn’t call each other by their names,” the boy said.

Local authorities said they are currently following a line of inquiry that the teenagers initially had some kind of a conflict with each other that escalated. The teacher and fourth graders apparently tried to separate the two when the brawl between a high school student and former student spilled into their classroom.

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© vk.com

However, Inessa Titova, the mother of one girl who was in the classroom at the moment of the attack, told RT there was “no fight” between the students.

“Those two guys wearing black masks entered the classroom, and without further ado, unsheathed the knives and cut the teacher’s throat, as my daughter says,” she said.

“Everyone worries about their class teacher and two boys who were transferred to an emergency room after the surgeries,” the mother said. “Parents are shocked and panicked. We don’t know how to be now and how to live further.”

The attack left 15 people injured. The teacher and two teens remain in a critical condition.

“The children are very scared. They don’t want to go to school or talk about what happened, trying to change the subject,” Inessa said.

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Tory posters ‘stigmatize all homeless,’ suggest beggars want money for drugs

A Tory council is facing a backlash for “demonizing” rough sleepers by urging the public not to give money to homeless people because they might be faking their impoverished condition.

The posters have been scattered around the city of Gloucester. They appear to discourage the public from giving money to the homeless, as they may be better off than they appear.

The posters pose the question: “Are you really helping homeless people?” and add: “In some cases, the people you see sleeping rough are not homeless.

“They are in accommodation, receiving support and benefits.”

Below is a picture of a man in a grey hoodie bearing a placard reading:

“Change is more than coins. Think before you give.”

The poster recommends contacting homeless outreach workers or donating funds to an established charity.

Matthew Knight, who works for the Gloucestershire-based Elim Housing Association and helps house homeless people, hit out at the posters on Twitter.

“I think it stigmatizes all homeless people,” he said.

“It insinuates everybody who is begging is not homeless and wants money for drugs and alcohol.”

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© Ints Kalnins

Terry Pullen, leader of the Labour group on the city council, and prospective parliamentary candidate for Gloucester, Fran Boait, also expressed their dismay at the distasteful posters.

“The Tories should be ashamed they have allowed them to go up … the posters imply that most homeless people are not genuine but trying to con people out of money,” they said in a joint statement.

“This is shameful and effectively demonizes one of the most vulnerable groups of people in our society who need our kindness and care. We call upon Gloucester city council to immediately withdraw these posters.”

But Jennie Watkins, the council’s cabinet member for communities and neighborhoods, defended the posters, saying some donations carry the risk of funding dependencies.

“The launch of our ‘Street Aware’ campaign is to raise public awareness about
alternative giving. It’s a tough message to deliver, but we must consider whether giving money directly to individuals is the best way to support them to make positive and sustainable change.

“Giving money to people who beg may make life on the street easier for them in the short term, but, in the worst case, could feed dependency. It takes more than money to turn a life around.

“The intention behind the poster campaign is to catch the public’s attention, to ask them to think about whether their money is helping in the best way and to provide important information about how to refer someone who they may be concerned about for support.

“It is a challenging and sensitive issue, but one we must raise if we are genuine about working together to help people to achieve real change.”

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Stalin comparison sends Senator Flake attack on Trump viral

Pre-released segments of an upcoming speech by Republican Senator Jeff Flake, in which the frequent Trump critic compares the US President to communist leader Joseph Stalin, have gone viral on social media.

The quotes were shared by the Washington Post and spread like wildfire on Twitter.

“‘The enemy of the people,’ was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017,” the statement said.

“Mr President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader,” it said later.

Senator Flake is due to make the comments in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday. On the same day, Trump will be handing out “Fake News Awards” to news outlets he thinks are covering him unfairly.

“Well he borrowed that phrase. It was popularized by Joseph Stalin, used by Mao as well, ‘enemy of the people,’” Senator Flake told MSNBC on Sunday. “It should be noted that Nikita Khrushchev, who followed Stalin, forbade its use saying that it was too loaded. That it maligned a whole group or class of people, and it shouldn’t be done.”

“I don’t think we should be using a phrase that had been rejected as too loaded by a Soviet dictator.”

On February 17, 2017, Trump tweeted his belief that the US news media “is the enemy of the American people,” and has often referred to the media as an “opposition party” to his administration. He has blamed news organizations for stymieing his agenda.

The Twittersphere was quick to point out Flake’s hypocrisy for criticizing Trump while continuing to work with him.

Flake recently said Trump’s attack on the news media damages the country’s standing in the world and empowers dictators everywhere. The lawmaker was elected to the Senate in 2012, boycotted the Republican National Convention, wrote a book denouncing the president, criticized him from the Senate floor in October, and announced last November he would not seek a second term this November.

After delivering a speech in the lawmakers’ home state in August, Trump tweeted that he was “not a fan of Flake.”

In the interview with MSNBC, Flake said he has not ruled out challenging Trump in the Republican primary in 2020.

“What I am trying to do with this speech is nudge the presidency to where he should be,” Flake told MSNBC. “I am not the only the Republican who is saying ‘I am sure this is my party.’ We used to stand for limited government, free trade, free enterprise, and not this kind of nationalist protectionist, kind of party. I am not the only.”

When asked if he would rule out challenging the president in 2020, he said: “No I won’t rule it out.”

Trump will “certainly” have a challenge from an independent candidate, and will “likely” have a Republican primary challenger.

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Spiegel editor’s Twitter account hacked with pro-Turkey message, apology for 'bad' reporting

The Twitter account of Spiegel’s editor-in-chief was hacked and used to apologize about “bad news” published by the magazine about Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The incident occurred late on Saturday when hackers gained access to Klaus Brinkbaumer’s account, posting a picture of Erdogan and the Turkish flag alongside the message: “We would like to apologize for the bad news that we have reported and published up till now about Turkey and [President] Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

The German magazine responded by issuing a tweet explaining the message was not actually from its editor-in-chief. The “most recent tweet about Erdogan and the header are not from him. We’re taking care of it,” the outlet tweeted.

The original “pinned” tweet on Brinkbaumer’s account, published by the hacker, was deleted after about two hours. It remains unclear who was behind the cyber attack. 

Spiegel, like other German news outlets, has extensively covered Turkey amid tense relations between Berlin and Ankara. In September, the magazine noted that Ankara “may be trying to eliminate its political opponents” in a story about an espionage trial in Hamburg, which raised questions about Turkey’s intelligence activities in Germany.

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Hannibal Hanschke ©

The site has also focused on the case of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel, who has been held on terrorism charges in Turkey since February 2017 following his reporting on a hacker attack targeting the email account of Turkey’s energy minister. The German government has stated that Yucel should not have been detained, citing the need for independent journalism.

Relations between the two countries have been worsening for years. In March 2017, Erdogan accused Germany of “fascist actions” reminiscent of the Nazi era – an accusation which was dubbed “absurd” by Berlin. 

Erdogan’s remark was made after two German towns cancelled political rallies which were aimed at increasing support for the president ahead of a referendum to grant him sweeping new powers. Those powers were ultimately – and controversially – granted following the vote.

Berlin has also angered Ankara by accusing it of overreacting to the failed military coup of 2016. The coup triggered a widespread crackdown on tens of thousands of alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the plot.

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UFC veteran announces retirement after knockout loss in Russia (VIDEO)

American UFC and Strikeforce veteran Pat Healy has announced his retirement from professional sport after his knockout loss at the ACB 78 event in Grozny, Russia last weekend.

Thirty-four-year-old Healy, nicknamed ‘Bam Bam,’ might not be the fighter with the best record, but he has gained wide respect in the MMA community over his 17 year career. Arriving to Saturday’s bout, Healy had an impressive 34 wins under his belt, although he has suffered as many as 23 defeats.

In contrast, his opponent Magomed Raisov, the older brother of ACB featherweight champion Yusuf Raisov, had just six bouts on his record. Despite the difference in experience and age, the 24-year-old Grozny native didn’t hold bank on his much older opponent.

Raisov was able to catch the American on the chin in the second minute of their fight, and as Healy stepped back to the cage, he did it again, then continued to pound his downed opponent, forcing the referee step in.

Just an hour later, the 59 MMA fight veteran took to social media to announce his retirement.

“Thanks everyone for your support. Disappointing performance to say the least. I thought about this a lot recently and that was my last fight. I can no longer compete at a high level,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

READ MORE: Doctors spend minutes trying to revive MMA fighter after brutal KO (VIDEO)

“It’s been a hell of a ride. I’ve gone places and seen things I never thought I would. I’ve had a chance to make friends and memories all over the world. MMA gave me a life I only could have dreamed of. I will now focus on helping the next generation become successful and finally getting my BJJ black belt.”

Raisov also took to social media to express his respect for his opponent and thanked him for the fight.

“I was unbelievably glad to get to know the outstanding personality from MMA world (Pat Healy). It was a great honor to have a battle with you. You are true warrior,” wrote Raisov in Russian.

by Denis Geyko for RT Sport

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‘Systematically murdered’: Cancer-stricken Brit detained in Dubai describes ‘barbaric’ treatment

A British cancer victim claims he was being “systematically murdered by negligence and medical inexperience” while locked up in a Dubai prison for carrying “too much” of his prescribed medicine.

Perry Coppins, 61, was arrested in Dubai in November on the charge of possession and intent to use controlled drugs. He was only released and allowed to return to the UK last week.

The drugs were confiscated from Coppins despite his dependence on the pills in treating his Tourette syndrome, which he was diagnosed 21 years ago.

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© Facebook/ Asa Ricki Hutchinson

Maritime security officer, Coppins told RT the “withdrawal almost cost my life.”

Describing the fierceness of his symptoms, he said: “I went into a fever, I was sweating and woke up blind.”

Bent double by gastroenteritis, a symptom of the disease, he added: “I actually knew I was dying. I was totally convinced I wasn’t going to make it back to England.”

His condition was compounded by the cancer, which meant he “couldn’t even urinate.” His “agony” meant he was unable to walk.

Once fellow inmates brought Coppins’ condition to the guards’ attention, he was finally brought to hospital, where an urologist confirmed the tumor originally diagnosed in the UK three years ago.

But despite a local doctor confirming the medicines were vital to his patient, Coppins claims  “none of the treatment was carried on in prison,” and that he was back to square one as soon as he was returned behind the “locked, steel door” of his cell.

He was kept in “barbaric” conditions, Coppins said, as he and fellow inmates were forced to eat off the concrete floor, gobbling the food with their hands and on top of plastic bags as the facility lacked cutlery and table cloths.

He claimed the prison was like a “racket,” where you had to pay an extortionate price for cigarettes and a sandwich.

That often left inmates in a starving condition, given the food provided by the detention center “wouldn’t sustain lives,” Coppins claims.

British man jailed in Dubai for WhatsApp message about dodgy car

Because of his physical condition, and the “sub-standard” food, the maritime security officer lost 40kg.

Reduced to a walking skeleton, the UAE authorities eventually let him off because they were “scared of me dying overnight,” and tainting their reputation, Coppins claims.

The UK national was freed thanks to the support of campaign group Detained in Dubai (DiD) and the voluntary group ‘International Mission for Seafarers.’

The UK Foreign Office, on the other hand, seemed “more concerned about keeping a good relationship with the UAE” than helping out their own citizen, claimed Coppins. He said it was “very odd how the embassy representing the country” was unable to find a way of helping him.

“They could’ve have done a hell of a lot more,” Coppins said, as he claimed the embassy failed to cover any health, travel or legal expenses. Upon his release, Coppins was forced to spend all his savings on life expenses and legal costs, money he had set aside to sustain his family in England.

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Jamie Harron, 27, had his sentence commuted after being jailed for touching a man's hip © JamieHarron / Facebook

He said it was a peculiar contrast how his government failed do more to support him while a charity readily handed him “thousands of dollars to get me out of there, and never expected to be recompensed.”

Venting his frustration to the UAE authorities, he said: “I was being systematically murdered by negligence and medical inexperience. Dubai authorities, they are living in the past and are barbaric and uneducated.

“There are people still out there going through what I went through for probably even more stupid reasons.

“I hope they will come out soon and with campaign groups like DiD that will happen,” he added.

DiD chief executive Radha Stirling said: “We welcome the decision by Dubai authorities to take the humane and sensible course with Perry.

“This case should never have escalated to the point of criminal charges, but without the scrutiny of the international media, it is unlikely that Perry would be a free man tonight.

“In the absence of such attention, what was essentially a misjudgment by one customs official turned into a literally life-threatening situation for Perry.”

It comes as a British 21-year-old woman facing jail in Dubai for witnessing a brawl in a nightclub is growing “increasingly anxious” that charges against will not be dropped. 

It also follows British real estate agent Yaseen Killick, 29, being jailed in Dubai for sending a WhatsApp message to a dodgy car salesman after he was swindled out of £6,000 (US$ 8,200). He asked the car dealer “how do you sleep at night?”

In September, a man was detained for flipping the bird to another driver, while in October a man was jailed for accidentally touching another man’s hip in a bar. That was followed in November by a British woman being jailed for witnessing a punch-up, and another man being imprisoned for having smoked marijuana – before he had even arrived in Dubai.

By Claire Gilbody-Dickerson, RT

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Facial recognition database? Google’s new art selfie app sparks privacy concerns

A new feature of Google’s Art & Culture app, which allows users to find their art doppelganger by uploading a selfie, is being dubbed by some as a “facial recognition database.”

The new update to the app, which has been in existence for more than a year, has unleashed a frenzy of activity online as users post images of their painting lookalike.

To find out if you’re a dead ringer for the Mona Lisa, users have to take a real time selfie instead of using one from your camera roll. The technology then matches your photo to five similar paintings that could be generally found in a museum and ranks the closeness of the match.

Users are reporting mixed results about the accuracy of the results, but appear to be having a lot of fun in the process

Amid all the hype, however, are serious privacy concerns from some who have dubbed the frivolous selfie feature as a “facial recognition database.”

According to Google, the feature is experimental and is currently available only to US users. It states that the data from any images uploaded won’t be used for any other purpose and will be deleted after the match is made.

Google already uses facial recognition technology in Google Photos and revealed last year that the AI even works on dogs and cats.

Last year privacy concerns were expressed about Apple’s iPhone X Face ID which allows you to unlock your phone by holding it to your face and Facebook’s use of facial recognition to notify users when someone has uploaded a photo of them even if they haven’t been tagged in it.

The ACLU have warned that the biggest danger with facial recognition technology is its potential use for general, covert surveillance systems.

READ MORE: iPhone X facial recognition could give cops easy access to your cell

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German GSG 9 elite police unit to grow ‘by a third’ amid terrorism fears – chief

Germany envisions a second base for its elite counter-terrorism police force, the GSG 9, in Berlin and also plans to bolster its ranks by a third amid growing security threats, according to the unit’s chief.

The second hub for the unit is essential to ensure a “quicker response” to security threats, including in Germany’s capital, Berlin, which already saw a major terrorist attack in 2016, GSG 9 commander Jerome Fuchs said. The GSG 9 is currently stationed near the city of Bonn, which used to be the capital of West Germany.

“If you look at comparable terrorist situations across Europe, often then the capitals were affected,” Fuchs told RBB broadcaster on Monday. “It is essential that we are better prepared in the capital.”

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FILE PHOTO: Fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front drive in armed vehicles in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo as they head to a frontline © Fadi al-Halabi / AMC / AFP

Capitals across Europe have been among the primary targets for terrorists over the past few years. The November 2015 Paris attacks were the deadliest, with 130 killed and over 350 injured.

Apart from receiving a second base, the unit will see its ranks significantly bolstered.

“We’re talking about around a third of the current strength of the unit,” the commander said. While the exact number of GSG 9 operatives is not public, it is estimated to be around 400.

Finding the necessary number of new and capable members is expected be a “big challenge,” according Fuchs, as recruits must have the proper “fitness, strength of character, and teamwork” abilities to join the elite unit.

The GSG 9 was created in the aftermath of the kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, as the police largely failed to handle the crisis, which resulted in multiple casualties. The special unit gained international renown following the successful storming of a hijacked Lufthansa jet in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1977 without any casualties among the hostages or operatives.

READ MORE: Prosecution of terrorism cases in Germany jumped fourfold this year – report

Germany has experienced a surge in terrorist attacks over the past few years, committed by Islamist sympathizers. The Berlin Christmas Market truck attack of December 19, 2016 was the most high-profile incident of its kind, leaving 12 people dead and more than 50 injured.

The perpetrator, failed Tunisian asylum-seeker Anis Amri, committed the attack on behalf of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). He managed to evade German police and flee the country after the incident, but was shot dead three days later by police in Italy.

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Over 3mn tickets requested for FIFA 2018 World Cup during current sales window

Over three million tickets for the FIFA Russia 2018 World Cup have been requested by fans during the first window of the second sales phase which began on December 5, 2017.

With just 150 days left before the start of the world’s biggest football showpiece, held in Russia for the first time, 3,141,163 tickets have been requested from football fans on the official FIFA website, where tickets are exclusively available for purchase. The overwhelming majority of ticket applications have been submitted by Russians, with fans from Germany, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, USA, Spain, Poland, and China comprising 38% of the total requests made.

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© Sergei Karpukhin

Until January 31, when the sales window is closed, fans are able to apply for individual match tickets for all games with the exception of the opening and final matches, as well as venue-specific tickets for all stadiums.

Fans from the 32 participating teams may also request supporter tickets (STs), issued for each of a team’s three group matches, as well as conditional supporter tickets (CSTs), which grant entry to each of the four knockout-phase matches that a team could potentially reach.

CSTs are conditional upon the team qualifying for the respective rounds of the World Cup. ST and CST holders representing the same country will be allocated seats grouped together at a stadium.

If the total number of requests made by January 31 exceeds the number of available tickets, ticket holders will be randomly selected by drawing lots, with fans being informed of the outcome by March 12. Applications submitted on the first day and the last day of the sales window have equal chance of being successful, as no time priority has been established by FIFA.

The second window of the second sales phase will be held from March 13 until April 3, a period during which remaining tickets will be sold online on a first come, first served basis. Fans with limited mobility will be able to book tickets for disabled people in accordance with the number of seats available in the 12 host stadiums.

READ MORE: Mutko steps down as head of Russian World Cup organizing committee

Tickets obtained during sales phases 1 and 2 will be delivered free of charge to fans in the weeks leading up to the FIFA flagship tournament in Russia. International guests planning to attend World Cup matches are required to apply for a FAN ID, which will provide visa-free entry into Russia for foreign fans and free inter-host city travel and free use of public transport on match days.

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French group demands Russia repay €53bn imperial debt

A group of French citizens holding eurobonds issued by the Russian Empire in the 19th century is demanding the Kremlin repay the debt, says a report by Radio France Internationale (RFI).

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© Alexander Novikov / Global Look Press

In 1867, Russian Railways launched government bonds guaranteed by gold. They were worth a total of 15 billion francs, the equivalent of €53 billion (US$ 65 billion) today. Now, 400,000 descendants of the investors are demanding repayment, according to the RFI.

After the socialist revolution in Russia, Vladimir Lenin issued a decree to write off the debts of the Russian Empire.

However, the descendants of French bond buyers are highly unlikely to get a cent from Russia. In 1996, Paris and Moscow signed an accord to write off the tsarist debt. Russia agreed to pay $ 400 million in $ 50 million tranches. Many economists have said it is roughly 2 percent of what the Russian Empire owed to French investors.

It was a similar story with the UK even before the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev signed an agreement with Margaret Thatcher on the settlement of the state debt of pre-revolutionary Russia. The UK pledged to pay its citizens who owned bonds of the Russian Empire, a compensation at the expense of 5.5 tons of gold belonging to Tsar Nicholas II, stored in British banks.

Last year, Russia repaid the balance of Soviet-era debt by sending $ 125.2 million to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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

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