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Wed, 21 Mar 2018
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Connection to Austin bombing? Package explodes at FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas

police scene
© AP Photo/Eric Gay
A police officer stops a vehicle at a check point in front of a FedEx distribution center where a package exploded, Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in Schertz, Texas.
A device that exploded early Tuesday at a Schertz, Texas FedEx facility detonated before reaching its intended target -- and is likely linked to the string of bombings that have rocked the state's capital this month, officials said.

Officials were also investigating another suspicious package at a facility in Austin on Tuesday, however, authorities didn't immediately reveal if they had uncovered any nefarious devices and law enforcement officers briefing at the Schertz site didn't answer questions about that probe.

The package in Schertz detonated while it was on an automated conveyor belt at the facility, Chief of Police Michael R. Hansen told reporters.

Hansen said it was "very early" in the investigation to definitively say if Tuesday's blast in Schertz, about 70 miles from Austin, was related to the series of bombings in the capital that have killed two people and injured several others.

Comment: See also: Bomb destined for Austin injures FedEx employee outside San Antonio

Red Flag

Free speech rally at UK's Hyde Park descends into violence

hyde park fighting
© Ruptly
Supporters of the ex-English Defence League leader Robinson scuffled with counter-protesters during a 'free speech' rally held at Hyde Park's iconic Speakers' Corner. Scores of police were on hand to attempt to keep the peace.

Before Robinson's address, Speakers' Corner veteran HeikoKhoo was harangued and abused by the right-winger's supporters. One man ripped off Khoo's hat, while others shouted obscenities and surrounded the left-wing activist.

The supporters had rallied to hear Robinson read out a 'banned speech' by Generation Identity's Martin Sellner, who was denied entry to the UK. Robinson delivered the speech to thousands who braved the cold weather, gathering in the snow at Speakers' Corner, a landmark of free speech in London. Marx, Lenin, and George Orwell all gave speeches at the iconic Hyde Park location.

People 2

EU monitors praise procedures of Russian election while complaining of unequal media presence of candidates

moscow polling station
© Mikhail Voskresensky / Sputnik
Elections officials count the votes at one of the polling stations in Moscow
OSCE representatives say the procedures of the Russian presidential election were well organized and without any major rigging, but that the unequal media presence of the candidates resulted in a "lack of genuine competition."

A preliminary report by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was released on Monday, on the day after the election and before the announcement of the official results.

"Choice without real competition, as we have seen here, is not real choice. The Central Election Commission's professional and efficient administration of the technical aspects of the election deserves recognition," the head of the observer mission, Michael Georg Link, said in the report.

Comment: It's not the government's job to create viable candidates for office. Besides, most people who would be true viable candidates in Russia probably realized there was no chance the Russian people would elect anyone besides Putin. Good luck competing against the man who rescued Russia from Western imperial domination.

"But where the legal framework restricts many fundamental freedoms and the outcome is not in doubt, elections almost lose their purpose - empowering people to choose their leaders," he noted.

Георгиевская ленточка

Russian military warns of terrorists planning chemical attack on E Ghouta residents

Eastern ghouta
© Reuters / Bassam Khabieh
Smoke rises from the besieged Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria
The Russian Center for Syrian reconciliation said Monday it had received information that terrorists in Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta were preparing a possible provocation involving the use of chemical warfare agents.

According to the center's commander Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, a resident of Eastern Ghouta called the center's "hotline" on Monday to report that Nusra Front ( a terrorist group banned in Russia) militants had installed on a roof of a building and tested a turbine, placing tightly sealed containers with poisonous substances nearby.

Russian Flag

Crimea bridge expected to open to car trafic in May, 6 months ahead of schedule

crimea bridge
© most.life
The bridge connecting mainland Russia to the Crimean Peninsula will open to automobiles in May, six months ahead of schedule.

Vehicle crossing will be opened in two stages. Cars and buses will be allowed from May, while trucks will be allowed to cross the bridge in December.

At 19km, the span across the Kerch Strait is the longest bridge in Europe. The bridge will also have a railway section, which is scheduled to open in early 2019. At maximum capacity it will be able to accommodate some 40,000 cars per day. The bridge is expected to service at least 14 million railway passengers and allow transportation of at least 13 million tons of cargo per year.

The infrastructure has three segments. The first 7km section spans from the Taman Peninsula to Tuzla Spit; a 6.5km section spans across Tuzla Island; and the last section of 5.5km from Tuzla Island to the Crimean Peninsula.

The link became vital after Crimea voted to rejoin Russia in 2014, as the peninsula's only land border is with Ukraine. Currently, regular passenger and cargo deliveries are organized by direct flights and ferries from ports in southern Russia.

Photos of the bridge are available on its site.


Feminists and communists pressuring Paris to close sex doll brothel over 'monetizing rape'

sex dolls
© X-Dolls / Facebook
Communist and feminist groups are pressuring the Council of Paris to close a controversial, clandestine sex doll brothel in the heart of the city. So far, however, there have been no complaints and no actual crimes committed.

"Xdolls is not a sex shop. It's a place that generates money where you rape a woman," said Lorraine Questiaux, lawyer and spokesperson for the Paris feminist association Mouvement du Nid. The Council of Paris is to debate whether to close the 'brothel' on Tuesday and Wednesday. Xdolls opened for business on February 1 in a 70 sq meter apartment in the city's 14th arrondissement.

Individual patrons are charged €89 ($109; £78) per hour, or €120 ($148) for couples, to enjoy the company of one of three 1 meter 45cm (4ft 7in) silicone dolls (Lily, Sofia, and Kim), each worth several thousand euro. Owner Joaquim Lousquy is reportedly considering opening a second such 'brothel' in Bordeaux.


NATO's air force relocating from Turkey to Jordan

© Investopedia/shutterstock
People in the Middle East are joking, cynically: "From Incirlik, Turkey to Al-Azraq, Jordan with love." That is, if they pay any attention to the movement of NATO troops in this part of the world. They should.

At least one substantial part of an incredibly deadly and aggressive force has been gradually relocated, from an 'uncertain' and according to the West suddenly 'unreliable' country (Turkey), to the impoverished but obedient Kingdom of Jordan.

It is now clear that NATO is not sure, metaphorically speaking, which direction is Turkey going to fly in, and where it may eventually land. It is panicking and searching, 'just in case', for an exit strategy; almost for an escape plan from the most important regional power.

Is the West really losing Turkey? Nobody knows. Most likely, nobody in Ankara is sure, either, including Mr. Erdogan.

But what if ...
What if Erdogan moves closer to Russia, even to China? What if Turkey's relationship with Iran improves? What if Ankara has finally gotten tired of being humiliated, for years and decades, by the European Union? And what if it does not want to follow Washington's diktat, anymore?
These 'nightmarish' scenarios are most likely turning many apparatchiks in Brussels, Washington and London, into insomniacs.

Arrow Up

It's official: Gaddafi's son is running for Libya's presidency

Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi
© Sputnik/ Vladimir Fedorenko
Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi
The news was announced by Ayman Abu Ras, the spokesman for the Libyan Popular Front, at a conference in Tunisia. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, has been nominated as a candidate for the Libyan presidency in the 2018 elections, Libyan Express reported on Monday.

Abu Ras said Saif is striving for national reconciliation as well as aiming to rebuild the war-torn nation. "By running for presidency, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi is seeking not power but the country's rescue," Abu Ras said.

Gaddafi's intention was first announced last December, when it came to light that he was plotting a comeback to Libyan politics after a six-year prison term. According to reports, Saif planned to establish a constructive dialogue between all the Libyan factions, as well as to boost the country's defense "to impose more security and stability in accordance with the Libyan geography."


High school shooting in Maryland leaves two injured, gunman died after being shot by armed school officer

police tape
© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Two people have been injured in a shooting at a Maryland high school, according to the local sheriff. The gunman, a student at the school, died after being shot.

The incident unfolded on Tuesday morning, when a student walked into Great Mills High School and shot a female student in the hallway, according to St. Mary's County Sheriff Tim Cameron. A male student was also hit by a bullet.

The shooter was wounded after exchanging fire with a school resource officer on campus. All three students are in critical condition, but the officer was not injured, according to NBC Washington. It is not clear if the gunman was shot by the school resource officer, or if it was self-inflicted, police said in a press briefing on Tuesday.


Cambridge Analytica execs caught on camera: 'We use bribery, honeytraps and blackmail to swing elections for our clients'

cambridge analytica
Senior executives at Cambridge Analytica - the data company that credits itself with Donald Trump's presidential victory - have been secretly filmed saying they could entrap politicians in compromising situations with bribes and Ukrainian sex workers.

In an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News, the company's chief executive Alexander Nix said the British firm secretly campaigns in elections across the world. This includes operating through a web of shadowy front companies, or by using sub-contractors.

In one exchange, when asked about digging up material on political opponents, Mr Nix said they could "send some girls around to the candidate's house", adding that Ukrainian girls "are very beautiful, I find that works very well".

In another he said: "We'll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance, we'll have the whole thing recorded, we'll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet."

Comment: Shocking, isn't it? That's Western liberal democracy for you - thoroughly revolting. Note also that Cambridge Analytica is a British company.

Such unethical practice is sadly par for the course these days. If CA had not been hired by the Trump campaign, would we ever have been told what it gets up to? So the specific outing of CA is almost certainly connected to Russiagate and the 'managed coup' against Trump. Companies like CA are effectively private, outsourced intelligence agencies, and this particular outfit is being thrown under the bus by the biggest sharks in the 'Western intelligence community' - like FusionGPS and CrowdStrike before it.

Trump, by the way, didn't need bribery, honeytraps or blackmail to win the 2016 election.