Twice the height of Big Ben: Enormous sinkhole reveals epic caves in China (VIDEO)

In a departure from the death and destruction often caused by the phenomena, a giant sinkhole in China has revealed a stunning complex of caves for explorers to dive into for the first time.

Located amid mountains in Fengshan County, Guangxi, the 100 meter wide and 118 meter deep sinkhole reportedly became the object of scientific interest last year. Now a team of geologists and cavers has taken the next step by slinking down into the earth cavity on a single rope.

READ MORE: Four dead as sinkhole swallows up city pavement (VIDEO)

The phenomenal caverns, dubbed the Hong Kong Haitang Hall after the expedition who first pinpointed them, were explored by a team from the UK and China earlier this month. Footage of the incredible subterranean descent has now emerged, showing 19 climbers abseiling into the unknown between October 4 and 8.

Zhang Yuanhai, part of the research team attached to China’s Institute of Karst Geology, told ST Daily News that the new exploration revealed that the sinkhole depression gave way to parts of a cave 200 meters tall – more than twice the size of London’s Big Ben clock tower.

Rock rubble was evident at the floor of the hole, signalling the earlier collapse of the ground above. While 3D scans from the cave hall are still being analysed, it’s thought the volume of the tunnel could rank among the highest in the world.

READ MORE: Sinkhole city: Russian settlement being slowly consumed (VIDEO)

“The specific data of this cave hall has not yet come out, but its huge volume is called ‘world class’. The highest point of the cave is 200 meters, and the projected area at the bottom of the cave is 77,000 square meters,” Yuanhai explained.

In one section, the hall connects to an underground river linked to the nearby Panyang River. China is home to a number of sinkholes – or tiankengs as they are called. The Xiaozhai Tiankeng, or the Heavenly Pit, in Fengjie County is one of the deepest in the world measuring around 662 meters deep.

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‘Beaten fair & square’: McGregor analyses Khabib defeat, ready to face ‘next in line’ before rematch

Conor McGregor has admitted Khabib Nurmagomedov beat him “fair and square” in their UFC 229 megafight, vowing to learn from his mistakes and saying he is prepared to “face the next in line” before a potential rematch.

In a lengthy Instagram post, the Irishman broke down his comprehensive submission defeat round-by-round, acknowledging he made crucial mistakes including not respecting the lightweight champion’s stand-up game.

READ MORE: ‘Conor could’ve been killed, I had to step in’ – Irish fan reveals role in McGregor-Khabib brawl

While the Irish star felt he had won round one “from a fighting standpoint,” he said the brutal second round – during which he was dropped by a fierce right hand from Nurmagomedov and somehow survived a subsequent ground and pound onslaught – was “the worst of my fighting career.”

McGregor believes he recovered to take round three, but said he made “a critical error” by exposing his back in the fourth round, allowing Nurmagomedov to submit him via rear-naked choke hold.

Ultimately, McGregor said he was “beaten fair and square,” adding: “It was a great fight and it was my pleasure. I will be back with my confidence high. Fully prepared. If it is not the rematch right away, no problem. I will face the next in line.”  

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Thoughts on my last fight. Round 1. I believe from a sport standpoint, round 1 was his. Top position against the fence. Zero position advancement or damage inflicted. But top position. From a fight standpoint the first round is mine. Actual shots landed and a willingness to engage. Straight left early. Knee to the head on the low shot. Elbows in any and all tie up scenarios. Opponent just holding the legs against the fence for almost the entire round. Round 2 he is running away around the cage before being blessed with a right hand that changed the course of the round, and the fight. It was a nice shot. After the shot I bounced back up to engage instantly, but again he dipped under to disengage. That is the sport and it was a smart move that led to a dominant round, so no issue. Well played. If I stay switched on and give his stand up even a little more respect, that right hand never gets close and we are talking completely different now. I gave his upright fighting no respect in preparation. No specific stand up spars whatsoever. Attacking grapplers/wrestlers only. That won’t happen again. I also gave my attacking grappling no respect. To defense minded. Lessons. Listen to nobody but yourself on your skill set. You are the master of your own universe. I am the master of this. I must take my own advice. Round 3. After the worst round of my fighting career, I come back and win this round. Again walking forward, walking him down, and willing to engage. Round 4. My recovery was not where it could have been here. That is my fault. Although winning the early exchanges in 4, he dips under again and I end up in a bad position with over 3 on the clock. I work to regain position and end up upright, with my back to the fence. A stable position. Here however, I made a critical error of abandoning my over hook at this crucial time, exposing the back, and I end up beaten fair and square. What can I say? It was a great fight and it was my pleasure. I will be back with my confidence high. Fully prepared. If it is not the rematch right away, no problem. I will face the next in line. It’s all me always, anyway. See you soon my fighting fans I love you all ❤

Публикация от Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma)

Since the fight, McGregor, 30, has been on an extended tour of the US promoting his ‘Proper 12’ whiskey brand.

READ MORE: ‘Who the fook throws a football like that?’ McGregor mocked for limp NFL pass (VIDEO)

He penned a six-fight deal with the UFC before the bout against Nurmagomedov, although a potential rematch with the Dagestani fighter currently seems like a distant prospect.

Nurmagomedov’s manager Ali Abdelaziz says that the Russian has “moved on” from McGregor, after a toxic build-up to the fight and the carnage that followed – which has led to both men receiving a temporary suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.  

UFC chief Dana White recently said that he would prefer the Russian to face fellow lightweight Tony Ferguson next – a popular choice with many in the MMA community.   

Nurmagomedov and the US fighter have been slated to fight on several occasions, although each time injury or other factors have conspired to sink the fight.

READ MORE: Eat like Khabib! – The Dagestani food that fuels the UFC champ (VIDEO)

Ferguson returned to action in the co-main event of the UFC 229 card in Las Vegas, beating Anthony Pettis via second-round TKO in a brutal slugfest, and called out both Nurmagomedov and McGregor after the fight.  

Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather has also thrown his name into the mix as a potential opponent for Nurmagomedov and McGregor, taking up a call-out from the Russian fighter and saying he would also take on the Irishman for a second time.

READ MORE: ‘Khabib fight is happening next year, then I want McGregor again’ – Mayweather (VIDEO)    

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Forget bars & coins: Digital gold will revolutionize marketplace – claims precious metals trader

As one of the top traded assets in the world, gold, is hugely inefficient. But that is going to change, according to CEO of asset management company Sprott, Peter Grosskopf.

He told Kitco News that like more than a decade ago when exchange-traded products revolutionized the gold market, the yellow metal is now on the cusp of a new digital revolution.

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© Akos Stiller

“Going to a bank or a broker to buy gold is not a great option. Because of the fees, it’s a losing trade,” he said, adding that “buying ETFs (exchange-traded funds) are better, but the storage costs are still prohibitive for long-term investors.”

According to the manager, the gold market relevant to today’s modern investors is a digital market, which is why his company has taken a stake in a physically-backed digital marketplace. The transactions and ownership of the gold are recorded there through blockchain technology.

Grosskopf explained that a digital marketplace is the next evolution of the gold market, which hasn’t seen any significant changes since the first gold-backed ETFs were launched. “The gold market is ready for a whole new investor. We just have to bring the physical market into a digital world,” he said.

While falling to a 1.5 year low in August, gold prices have held critical long-term support levels, Grosskopf said. This happened despite facing significant pressures from strong momentum in the US dollar and higher bond yields, he added.

READ MORE: Emerging economies stockpiling gold in expectation of US dollar banking system collapse – analysts

The CEO expects the precious metal to regain its luster through the rest of the year as investors start to see cracks growing in the US economy. He said that increased economic risk and higher volatility will prompt some investors to move out of equities and invest in more defensive assets.

“It just takes a small percentage of investors to take their money off the table and put it into gold to spark a major rally,” he said. “I think people are starting to recognize that gold is a resilient asset.”

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Tommy Robinson: Case referred to Attorney General because it's 'too complex' (WATCH LIVE)

EDL-founder Tommy Robinson’s contempt of court charges will now be referred to the Attorney General, as the case is ‘too complex’ to hear at the Old Bailey.

Robinson, real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, was charged with contempt of court after he live-streamed details of an ongoing child grooming trial on Facebook.  

READ MORE: Army investigating Tommy Robinson’s photo op with troops, activist vows support for ‘British heroes’

After receiving a statement from Robinson, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC said the case should go to the Attorney General for his consideration.

Lawyers would not be able to perform an appropriate cross-examination of the evidence, the court heard.

“I think it necessary to look at quite a lot of the detail of what Mr Yaxley-Lennon said in the broadcast as to come to the overall picture as to what happened.

“I’m satisfied in the light of the issues as they now appear as they emerged from the statement of yesterday, that cross-examination of Mr Yaxley-Lennon is necessary for a proper and thorough examination and resolution of the case that is in the public interest,” the Judge stated

Robinson was then released on bail.

Scores of Robinson’s supporters rallied outside the Old Bailey, chanting his name, and chanting “we want Tommy out.” 

Among the numerous Union Jack flags, were some for UKIP, who’s leader Gerard Batten has often come out in support of Robinson. Also present was a flag for the white nationalist  Identitarian movement. 

READ MORE: Grooming gang, whose court cases were protested by Tommy Robinson, jailed for 221 years

Behind a line of police, were a smaller number of anti-racist activists, who held banners condemning the founder of the far-right EDL. 

Robinson addressed the crowd before entering the court, during which he labelled journalists as “the enemy of the people.”

A clearly emotional Robinson, at times flanked by British Army veterans, said: “No matter what happens today, I’ve already won.

“Their attempts to silence and stop people having the knowledge of the Muslim rape gangs that are terrorizing our nation.

“The entire world is now watching.”

Robinson was given a 13-month sentence in May for breaching contempt of court laws outside of Leeds Crown Court. He was arrested after confronting defendants while recording a live video on Facebook as they entered the Leeds courthouse to face trial over sexual abuse allegations.

READ MORE: Tommy Robinson threatens Sky News with legal action over ‘lies and propaganda’ in edited interview

In August the far-right activist was freed after three judges quashed the original sentence. 

The defendants in question were jailed for terms totaling 221 years after launching a “campaign of rape and other sexual abuse” against teenage girls in Huddersfield.

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US shale has a glaring problem

Oil prices are down a bit, but are still close to multi-year highs. That should leave the shale industry flush with cash. However, a long list of US shale companies are still struggling to turn a profit.

A new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and the Sightline Institute detail the “alarming volumes of red ink” within the shale industry.

“Even after two and a half years of rising oil prices and growing expectations for improved financial results, a review of 33 publicly traded oil and gas fracking companies shows the companies posting negative free cash flows through June,” the report’s authors write. The 33 small and medium-sized drillers posted a combined $ 3.9 billion in negative cash flow in the first half of 2018.

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© Getty Images

The glaring problem with the poor financial results is that 2018 was supposed to be the year that the shale industry finally turned a corner. Earlier this year, the International Energy Agency painted a rosy portrait of US shale, arguing in a report that “higher prices and operational improvements are putting the US shale sector on track to achieve positive free cash flow in 2018 for the first time ever.”

The improved outlook came after years of mounting debt and negative cash flow. The IEA estimates that the US shale industry generated cumulative negative free cash flow of over $ 200 billion between 2010 and 2014. The oil market downturn that began in 2014 was supposed to have changed profligate spending, pushing out inefficient companies and leaving the sector as a whole much leaner and healthier.

“Current trends suggest that the shale industry as a whole may finally turn a profit in 2018, although downside risks remain,” the IEA wrote in July. “Several companies expect positive free cash flow based on an assumed oil price well below the levels seen so far in 2018 and there are clear indications that bond markets and banks are taking a more positive attitude to the sector, following encouraging financial results for the first quarter.”

But the warning signs have been clear for some time. The Wall Street Journal reported in August that the second quarter was a disappointment. The WSJ analyzed 50 companies, finding that they spent a combined $ 2 billion more than they generated in the second quarter.

Read more on What Killed The Oil Price Rally?

The new report from IEEFA and the Sightline Institute add more detail the industry’s recent performance. Only seven out of the 33 companies analyzed in the report had positive cash flow in the first half of the year, and the whole group burned through a combined $ 5 billion in cash reserves over that time period.

Even more remarkable is the fact that the negative financials come amidst a production boom. The US continues to break production records week after week, and at over 11 million barrels per day, the US could soon become the world’s largest oil producer. Analysts differ over the trajectory of shale, but they only argue over how fast output will grow.

Yet, even as drillers extract ever greater volumes of oil from the ground, they still are not turning a profit. “To outward appearances, the US oil and gas industry is in the midst of a decade-long boom,” IEEFA and the Sightline Institute write in their report. However, “America’s fracking boom has been a world-class bust.”

The ongoing struggles raises questions about the long-term. If the industry is still not profitable – after a decade of drilling, after major efficiency improvements since 2014, and after a sharp rebound in oil prices – when will it ever be profitable? Is there something fundamentally problematic about the nature of shale drilling, which suffers from steep decline rates over relatively short periods of time and requires constant spending and drilling to maintain?

Read more on Oil’s $ 133 Billion Black Market

Third quarter results will start trickling in over the next few days and weeks, which should provide more clues into the shale industry’s health. There is even more pressure on drillers to post profits because the third quarter saw much higher oil prices.

“Until the industry as a whole improves, producing both sustained profits and consistently positive cash flows, careful investors would be wise to view fracking companies as speculative investments,” the authors of the report concluded.

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No surprises in Toronto mayoral election as Tory wins second term

The City of Toronto has reelected John Tory as mayor by a comfortable margin, handing the incumbent 63.5 percent of the vote for his second term in office. Tory ran on a platform of lowering crime and property taxes.

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Faith Goldy

Tory’s closest rival was Jennifer Keesmaat, the city’s former chief planner, who received 23.6 percent of the vote. Her vaguely left-leaning platform and last-minute candidacy – she entered the race on the last day of registration – failed to provide a distinct alternative to Tory.

Tory was first elected mayor in 2014, edging out Doug Ford, who became Premier this summer. Ford had followed in the political footsteps of his brother, Rob Ford, who became notorious even beyond Canada’s borders for his crack habit and Trump-esque bluntness.

Premier Ford took the unusual step of cutting the number of city council seats from 47 to 25 in the midst of the race, leaving 242 candidates to fight for their slice of the shrunken electoral pie.

Finishing third with 3.4 percent of the vote was Faith Goldy, a political outsider who was excluded from debates under suspicious circumstances.

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Mexico City liquor factory goes up in flames, thousands evacuated (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

A Mexico City liquor factory has exploded, injuring one and forcing the evacuation of 2,000 from their homes, according to Mexico City civil protection chief Fausto Lugo. Emergency services have responded to the massive explosion.

Images posted on social media of the explosion, in the Cuauhtemoc neighborhood, show a massive fireball rising above the surrounding buildings, followed by clouds of thick black smoke.

“The fire at the alcohol factory is under control. One person was injured and 2,000 were evacuated,” Fausto Lugo tweeted.

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Merkel wants more US natural gas in Germany – WSJ

Germany will reportedly buy more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States, the Wall Street Journal writes.

This month, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel told a group of lawmakers that her government had decided to co-finance the construction of a €500 million ($ 576 million) LNG shipping terminal in northern Germany, according to the newspaper’s report.

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© Issei Kato

Germany is buying most of its gas cheaply from Russia. Merkel has been lobbying for the extension of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would double Russia’s existing gas export capacity to Germany despite pressure from Washington.

US President Donald Trump has insisted that Berlin was “captive” to Moscow and would become dependent on Russian exports when the pipeline is implemented. During the recent talks with her lawmakers, Merkel described her change of mind as a “strategic” decision, the WSJ says.

The question of building an LNG shipping terminal in Germany has repeatedly been postponed due to economic issues of such a project. However, the project has been given a green light this month.

“We’re creating jobs and we’re also deepening the trans-Atlantic relationship. The US is totally committed to bringing US LNG to Europe and to Germany,” US Ambassador to Germany Richard A. Grenell said, as quoted by the WSJ.

The newspaper says it is not yet clear what kind of support Berlin will give to the LNG terminal, but the government has already decided to fast-track the review of the application.

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Escaped prisoner attacks Istanbul butcher shop, injures 11 people

An escaped prisoner has stabbed nearly a dozen people in Kadikoy, a neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey. Ali Kardaş set out to stab two former co-workers and injured at least nine more who tried to intervene before he was caught.

The perpetrator entered a butcher’s shop with a knife and stabbed the two employees repeatedly as they tried to stop him, Turkish media report. Tuğba Ablak and Mehmet Yeten were later brought to nearby hospitals.

Ali Kardaş had escaped from Afyon Prison, where he was locked up on charges of theft, wounding, and threats. He was finally apprehended by police after a foot chase on a Highway Interchange and taken into custody.

According to police, who interviewed the suspect after taking him to a hospital, Ali Kardaş had previously worked at the butcher shop. He claims he only stabbed the other victims because they tried to interfere with his attack on the butcher shop employees, with whom he had a personal dispute.

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Wish granted: Turkish man faces jail for calling police over 45,000 times

A Turkish national has landed himself in trouble with the law, over his vigorous use of the police emergency line. Making over 45,000 calls over the course of one year might now land the man behind bars for up to five years.

The 55-year-old resident of the city of Istanbul, identified as Seref Can, faces charges of “preventing a public official from doing his or her duty,” according to the Sabah newspaper, which reported the bizarre affair on Monday.

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Pastor Andrew Brunson. © AFP

Al in all, the man managed to call Turkey’s 155 police line 45,210 times in one year, putting great stress on the emergency service. The reason behind such behavior is quite sad actually, as the man had been depressed and simply wanted to talk to someone.

“I divorced my wife two years ago. I’ve been drinking constantly. I was in depression and I had no one to talk to so I called the police emergency line,” Can told the police, who were apparently sufficiently irritated by his actions to resolve to meet him in person.

READ MORE: Hundreds arrested in Turkey on suspicion of money laundering with terrorism ties

While the man has expressed regrets over his obsessive desire to talk to police, they were apparently not impressed, and soon he faced criminal charges. If convicted, Can might face up to five years behind bars – and would finally find people to talk to, at least.

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