Victor over Roy Moore says US should ‘move on’ from Trump’s alleged sexual misconduct

Alabama Senator-elect Doug Jones believes allegations of sexual misconduct made against US President Donald Trump should not lead to his resignation.

The newly-elected Democratic senator, who previously hit out at Senate election rival Roy Moore over historic sexual assault allegations made against him by multiple women, said people should “get on with the real issues.”

Sexual assault allegations have been levelled at US President Donald Trump by a number of women, including a former Miss Finland winner. The allegations, which Trump has branded “wild and false,”have led to calls for the 45th US president to step down.

READ MORE: ‘Grab them by the p***y’: Leaked audio of Trump causes GOP backlash

However, in a statement that appeared to be at odds with his reaction to Senate rival Roy Moore, Jones backed the president to continue in his role. It came after Jones was asked on CNN’s State of the Union if he agreed with Democratic Senator Cory Booker’s call for Trump to go.

“Those allegations were made before the [presidential] election and so people had an opportunity to judge before that election. I think we need to move on and not get distracted by those issues. Let’s get on with the real issues facing people of this country right now and I don’t think the president ought to resign at this point,” Jones said on CNN’s State of the Union.

READ MORE: Trump’s support for Roy Moore, Senate candidate accused of sexual misconduct, slammed by Republicans

In an open letter published in November, Moore labelled the allegations by his accusers as false and defamatory. Jones later denounced the former judge for “inconsistencies” in his denials.

“It is crystal clear that these women are telling the truth and Roy Moore is not,” Jones said prior to the December 12 Alabama election.

READ MORE: Former Miss Finland accuses Trump of sexual assault, bringing number of accusers to 12

Jones later claimed victory over the former Supreme Court judge by a margin of just over 20,000 votes.

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‘Most important relations’: How US pressure may help turn China-Russia strategic ties into alliance

The Chinese Ambassador has praised the Russia-China relationship as “the best in the world,” but analysts tell RT it falls short of a close economic or military alliance. This may change if Washington chooses to confront Beijing.

Over the course of history Moscow and Beijing, former Communist allies and later bitter rivals, now find themselves on the same side in opposing Washington in its insistence on global dominance. The Russian and Chinese positions are often aligned on issues such as the Syrian conflict, the North Korean crisis or America’s habit of using military force to achieve its geopolitical goals.

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© Lee Jae Won

Commenting on relations between the two nations, Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui praised the current state of affairs. “The Chinese-Russian relations of comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership are the most important bilateral relations in the world and, moreover, the best relations between big countries,” he said at an event dedicated to the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress in October. “One can say that they are a classic example of the healthiest and most mature interstate relations and an important force to protect peace and stability throughout the world.”

The commendatory remark of the Chinese diplomat, which Newsweek called a “snub of US President Donald Trump,” should be taken with a grain of salt, since the actual relations between the two countries are more complex, experts tell RT.

“This is a sort of diplomatic mantra,” said economist Sergey Lukonin from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, who specializes in Chinese studies. “There are many countries with which China has very close relations. Chinese foreign policy is multifaceted and multilateral, so seeing ties with one nation as the most important would be not quite right.”

The sphere in which the Russian-Chinese relations are lacking is economic. Russia accounted for 1.8 percent of China’s export and 2 percent of China’s import in 2016, compared to 18.4 percent and 8.5 percent for the US, China’s most important trade partner. So Russia’s market and goods may be important for China, but not as important as those of the US and the EU, Lukonin said.

“They call our relations with China a ‘strategic partnership,’” Yuri Tavrovsky, a China expert at the People’s Friendship University of Russia, told RT. “In terms of strategy, we have reached a really high level. As for partnership, things could have been better. We have not been able to reach the benchmark of $ 100 billion annual trade volume for several years now.”

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© Petar Kujundzic

“The Chinese describe it in this way: there is warmth at the top and cold at the bottom,” he added, referring to the good personal chemistry between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping, which contrasts with a lack of economic ties on the ground. Tavrovsky said he hopes that with Xi consolidating his power with the Party Congress and Putin’s possible re-election in March 2018, the two leaders may find a way to way to convert their political capital into an improved connection between businesses in China and Russia.

But on the political front, Russia and China have much to offer each other beyond coordinating their votes at the UN Security Council. The militaries of the two nations stage regular joint exercises, including simulated defense from a missile attack currently under way in Beijing. It takes a certain degree of trust to expose to another nation your military’s methods of countering such threats.

China and Russia are working together to eliminate the dollar from bilateral trade, which weakens America’s grasp on the global financial system. Russia’s participation in China’s Road and Belt infrastructure project gives Beijing a reliable land route to European markets, safeguarding the trade from a hypothetical naval blockade.

There may be some tension between Moscow and Beijing over Central Asia, or China’s influence in Russia’s Far East, but “on balance, there are more strategic advantages in forming closer ties with China against a common threat from a not-so-friendly United States and an unpredictable President Trump,” Andrew K P Leung, a Hong Kong-based investment consultant and China strategist, told RT.

“China feels there is a persistent American strategy to contain and restrain China’s rise. An example is the US pivot to Asia vaulted to deploy 60 percent of US global navy assets to the Asia-Pacific,” he said. “America controls the Malacca Strait, to which a large proportion of China’s trade and energy flows pass through. There are heavy US military deployments in the so-called First and Second Island Chains surrounding China. The US is also strengthening military alliances with belligerent neighbors like Japan and Australia.”

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Power of Siberia gas pipeline © gazprom.com

But despite being natural allies against the US pressure, Russia and China are unlikely to become part of a military bloc similar to that of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China had under Stalin and Mao, Leung believes. “The Cold War idea of blocs between countries no longer works in a vastly interconnected and inter-dependent world. Nations befriend each other as circumstances dictate and must accept that both rivalry and cooperation can co-exist.”

On the other hand, China and Russia may be encouraged to form a NATO-style organization. A political-military alliance is possible if the US choses to drastically ramp up pressure on Beijing in an attempt to stop it from pursuing its global vision for the future, Tavrovsky believes.

“In terms of geopolitics, China and Russia already actively coordinate their positions… As to moving closer to a political-military alliance, it will largely depend on how much pressure the US will exert,” Tavrovsky said, pointing to the reports of an imminent US-Chinese trade war.

Beijing has also produced its new global doctrine, which may pave the way for a proactive foreign policy – something the Chinese leadership has been watching Russia do with a keen interest.

“The Chinese see the Russians as belligerent since they prefer not to get involved [in foreign politics]. But with their new doctrine of a common destiny for the humanity they may activate their foreign policy, including through military projection. They’re building aircraft carriers and build military bases in Africa and the Middle East for a reason… The Chinese voice is becoming more of a roar,” Tavrovsky said.

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Trump to Putin: US was glad to save many lives in Russia by helping foil major terrorist attack

The White House says US intelligence services were pleased to have helped thwart a terrorist plot in Russia that “could have killed large numbers of people.”

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Kazan cathedral, Saint Petersburg © Getty Images

“President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called President Donald J. Trump today to thank him for the advanced warning the United States intelligence agencies provided to Russia concerning a major terror plot in Saint Petersburg, Russia,” read the statement from the White House. “Based on the information the United States provided, Russian authorities were able to capture the terrorists just prior to an attack that could have killed large numbers of people.  No Russian lives were lost and the terrorist attackers were caught and are now incarcerated.”

The statement also noted that the Russian president even extended his gratitude to CIA chief Mike Pompeo, which Trump promptly passed on to the agency. The two leaders agreed that this operation against terrorism “serves as an example of the positive things that can occur when our countries work together.

In a series of overnight raids on Wednesday and Thursday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested members of a terrorist cell linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, seizing a large amount of explosives, weapons and ammunition and dismantling a bomb-making workshop. The extremists were planning a series of attacks on public places, including a suicide bombing and an explosion in the Kazan Cathedral in the center of the city.

Putin thanked Trump for CIA tip-off which helped Russia prevent terror attack

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Meteor grazing night sky caught on camera in southern Russia (VIDEO)

The night sky over Sochi in southern Russia was lit up by a spectacular meteor cutting through the heavens on Friday, which astronomers say is part of the annual Geminid shower.

“In Sochi, we’re told that the meteorite observed in Armavir fell,” Alexander Ivanov, of the Astrophysical Observatory of the Kuban State University, told TASS, adding that the facility’s cameras only partially managed to capture its flight.

READ MORE: 120 shooting stars per hour: Norway poised for Geminids bombardment

“What our cameras caught was a fairly bright meteor, measuring around 10-15 centimeters, which burned in the atmosphere, leaving a very bright trace.”

Ivanov said that the object most likely came from the Geminid shower, which can be seen from December 4-17. It peaks around December 13-15.

“The asteroid Phaethon, which comes opposite to the Earth in December, is believed to be the ancestor of the Geminids stream. The meteor shower has been known since the 19th century.

This year it has been especially active, and a lot of meteors have entered the atmosphere.”

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Venezuela awards 2 offshore gas field licenses to Russia’s Rosneft

Russian energy giant Rosneft has been awarded licenses to two offshore gas fields in Venezuela. The deal was signed as Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on Saturday.

According to the agreement a Rosneft subsidiary, Grupo Rosneft, will become the operator of Patao and Mejillones offshore gas fields in the Caribbean Sea. 

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©  Jorge Silva

For the next 30 years, the Russian company will have the right to sell all gas produced at the fields for exports, including in the form of LNG (liquefied natural gas).

Rosneft is now to prepare proof-of-concept and base projects, which would require approval from the Venezuelan authorities for production to begin.

The total reserves of the two fields are estimated at 180 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, Rosneft said in a statement, adding that it plans to extract 6.5 bcm of gas annually for the next 15 years.

During his visit, Sechin also discussed Rosneft’s cooperation with the Venezuelan state energy company PDVSA. In August, Rosneft provided PDVSA with $ 6 billion as advance payment for oil supplies.

The Russian company is already involved in a number of joint projects in Venezuela, including the Petromiranda, Petromonagas, Petrovictoria, Boqueron and Petroperija fields, which are estimated to hold more than 20.5 billion tons of oil.

Last year, those projects produced 8.4 million tons of oil, with Rosneft’s share standing at 2.67 million tons.

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Boris Johnson breathes new life into ‘Russian meddling’ fairy story – introducing Facebook trolls

With the Russian Brexit meddling story unravelling almost as badly as Brexit itself, Boris Johnson has found a new angle. The latest dead cat to grace the table is a cabal of “Russian trolls” on Facebook.

“There’s some evidence that there has been Russian trolling on Facebook,” Johnson said, referring to Brexit, in an interview with the Sunday Times as he elucidated his brand new theory of the Russian meddling in the fateful vote. At the same time, he admitted that he had “seen no evidence” of the Russian alleged meddling affecting the referendum outcome in any way.

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© Ray Tang / Global Look Press

With less than a dollar spent, it is hardly surprising that the outcome of the referendum was unaffected. Indeed, an investigation conducted by Facebook at the request of no less than the UK Electoral Commission revealed that Russia spent as much as 73p ($ 0.97) on ads to allegedly influence Brexit. And that is without mentioning the fact that the ads themselves were about migration and the wider European context.

It is not the first time the British foreign secretary has been forced to admit that there is no evidence Russia has ever sought to interfere with British votes; even within the last month he has done so at least twice. In late November, he told the House of Commons that the government saw “no evidence of any country successfully interfering with our robust electoral system.”

At the beginning of the same month, he also said that he had not seen any evidence of the Russian meddling, adding that as far as he knows “[the Russians] have played no role” in Brexit. Characteristically, though, Boris is thinking outside the box and all these admissions have not stopped him from throwing various accusations at Moscow – without providing any evidence.

In late November, right after stating that no one had interfered in the British electoral system, Johnson stated vaguely that “we know of course that Russia seeks to undermine our institutions.” This time he decided not to hold back, and accused Moscow of a multitude of sins.

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Facebook has investigated Russian hacking in Britain's Brexit vote.. and found 73p was spent © Reuters/ Thomas White

He went as far as to call Russia a “closed, nasty, militaristic and antidemocratic” state, comparing it with ancient Sparta at the time of the Peloponnesian war. Dismissing this latest remark, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova somewhat coldly noted on her Facebook page that “Russia has never been a militaristic country, unlike the European states.”

She added that Johnson was right about one thing: the ongoing issues sown and stirred up by the West, on the European continent in particular, weaken Western civilization in the same way the Peloponnesian war denuded the readiness of both Sparta and Athens to face external enemies.

Meanwhile, regardless of whether Johnson is speaking about Brexit, relations with Russia or any other subject, one might point out that he does a more than adequate job of trolling himself. He has done so on many occasions, such as showing empathy with the victims of colonialism by quoting Kipling in Burma. 

Then there was his statesmanlike grasp of the importance of information management, telling a parliamentary committee what a British Citizen was doing in Iran and thereby getting her thrown in jail. And Johnson set a new standard for political car-crash BBC interviews, during which he was likened to a figure from a classic comedy skit. And all that in the past six months alone.

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Ukrainian police clash with Saakashvili supporters storming cultural center in Kiev (PHOTOS)

Thousands of people supporting Mikhail Saakashvili, the fugitive ex-Georgian president turned Ukrainian opposition figure, have once again taken to the streets of Kiev to take a local cultural center by storm.

Some 2,000 people turned up for yet another protest action in support of Saakashvili in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday. The demonstrators marched through the city center to Maidan Square, scene of the 2013-14 unrest which brought about the coup and subsequently the civil war in the east.

There, they staged a rally calling on lawmakers to impeach Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Saakashvili also attended the protest on Maidan Square, where he said that would never make any agreements with Poroshenko and would speak to the Ukrainian president only about his potential resignation.

The former Georgian leader then called on his followers to gather at the International Center of Culture and Arts of the Trade Union Federation of Ukraine, which is also known as the October Palace, adding that a headquarters of the protest movement would be organized there.

However, when the crowd arrived at the palace, police and the National Guard blocked the doors of the building and barricaded themselves inside. That prompted the mob to take the palace by storm despite Saakashvili himself reportedly discouraging them from doing it.

READ MORE: ‘Kiev, get up!’ 1000s of Saakashvili supporters demand Ukraine president’s impeachment (VIDEO)

The incident resulted in clashes between the police and the protesters, who broke in the front doors of the palace and charged inside. The police were forced to use tear gas and even fire extinguishers to stop the angry crowd, but apparently they failed to prevent the mob from taking over the building, according to RIA news agency.

More than 30 police officers were injured in the incident, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry. Some protesters were reportedly injured in the clashes.

However, the demonstrators soon left the building they had just seized as Saakashvili urged them to return to Maidan Square. He said that a concert was staged at the palace at that time and he wanted “the innocent to stay unharmed.” According to the Ukrainian police chief, a concert for children and their families was indeed held in the building at the time when the protesters stormed it. RIA also reported that “The World-Famous Glenn Miller Orchestra” should have been performing at the palace.

READ MORE: Fugitive ex-Georgian leader Saakashvili recaptured in Kiev after supporters helped him break free

In the meantime, police opened a criminal case against the protesters over what it called an attempted takeover of a building. A deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, went as far as to call the clashes in the palace “an act of terrorism,” adding that they posed “a real danger to lives and health of Ukrainians.” The protesters described the whole incident as a “provocation.”

Saakashvili led the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, winning some international praise for his anti-corruption reforms, but soon he fell from grace for launching the 2008 war against Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and over corruption charges and his targeting of political rivals. After fleeing Georgia, Saakashvili moved to Ukraine, where he was granted citizenship by Poroshenko and appointed governor of Odessa in 2015.

However, Saakashvili’s relations with Poroshenko soon fell apart as he accused the Ukrainian president of corruption, prompting Poroshenko to revoke his citizenship. Saakashvili, however, then returned to Ukraine, where he now leads an opposition party called the Movement of New Forces.

READ MORE: Saakashvili freed by supporters from police van in Kiev, calls to oust President Poroshenko

The Ukrainian authorities suspect Saakashvili of receiving financial support from a group allegedly linked to former president Viktor Yanukovich, who was deposed by the Maidan coup in 2014. He could potentially face up to five years in prison if found guilty.

Authorities attempted to detain Saakashvili for questioning in early December, but his supporters prevented his detention several times by clashing with police. The former Georgian leader was eventually detained on December 8 but was released several days later.

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UK diplomat found dead in Beirut, murder probe launched – reports

A murder investigation is reportedly under way following the discovery of a female British diplomat’s body in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The UK Foreign Office has confirmed the death, but has not revealed any further details.

The body of Rebecca Dykes was found on the side of a motorway Saturday, with local sources telling the BBC that the UK embassy employee had been sexually assaulted and strangled. Beirut police are reportedly investigating the death.

Dykes’s family said in a statement: “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca. We are doing all we can to understand what happened. We request that the media respect our privacy as we come together as a family at this very difficult time.”

A spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office said it is providing support to the family and remain in close contact with local authorities. “Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time,” the spokesperson added.

Ms Dykes had been working in Beirut as the program and policy manager for the Department for International Development since January this year. According to reports in the Daily Telegraph, Dykes was last seen at a bar in the Gemmayzeh area of central Beirut. It is thought she was abducted after leaving the bar sometime after midnight. Her body was later found near the Metn highway.

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Putin thanked Trump for CIA tip-off which helped Russia prevent terror attack

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked his US counterpart Donald Trump for help in preventing a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. Data provided by the CIA enabled Russian security services to find and detain terrorists

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Kazan cathedral, Saint Petersburg © Getty Images

The Russian leader expressed his gratitude in a telephone call, adding that the Russian security services would also always share information with their US colleagues, were they to obtain data on any planned attacks on US soil.

Putin also asked Trump to convey his compliments to the CIA director, Mike Pompeo, as well as to the operatives that gathered the information about the terrorists. He said that the data provided by the US was enough to track down and detain the members of the extremist cell.

Earlier, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested the members of a terrorist cell linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in the Russian city of St. Petersburg. The extremists were planning a series of attacks on public places, including a suicide bombing and an explosion in Kazan’s Cathedral in the center of the city.

During the raid, conducted overnight from Wednesday to Thursday, the FSB seized a large amount of explosives, weapons and ammunition and dismantled a bomb-making workshop. The members of the cell that coordinated their plans with IS masterminds abroad were plotting an attack on the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg – one of the most iconic landmarks of the city.

Earlier this week, FSB head Aleksandr Bortnikov reported foiling a terrorist plot which would have involved bombings during the New Year celebrations and the upcoming presidential election campaign. The schemes also involved a cell with links to IS.

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