Several killed as militants open fire at military parade in southern Iran – state TV

Unknown assailants have attacked an army parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, local media report. The attack has left several people dead, it is said.

Gunmen opened fire from behind the stands during a military parade in Ahvaz on Saturday, killing and injuring several people. The attack comes as the nation commemorates the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq War.

Shooting broke out several minutes into the parade, which featured troops from the Iranian Army’s 92nd armored division, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported. The assailants were apparently wearing military uniforms, and the attack lasted for about 10 minutes.

The agency’s Twitter account has released a set of photos showing the aftermath of the attack.

The gunfire has left as many as 20 people injured before the troops and security forces returned fire and eliminated the attackers, IRNA reports.

READ MORE: ‘Trump will fail’: Iran won’t abandon its ‘missiles that make America angry’, Rouhani says

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Russia to become China’s top supplier of gas soon

One of the world’s longest gas pipelines – the Power of Siberia – which is being created to deliver natural gas from Russia to China, is almost complete. The sides are now getting ready to ink a contract on another major pipeline.

Agreement on the Power of Siberia 2 or the ‘Western Route’ for the supply of Russian gas from the Far East to China might be signed in the first half of 2019, according to Nur Bekri, director of the National Energy Administration of China. The new pipeline will deliver 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.

“We continue consultations… If we agree on the ‘Western Route’, then it will be more than 80 billion cubic meters [for all supply routes, including LNG – Ed.] a year. This means that Russia will take the first place among gas suppliers to China,” Bekri told TASS.

Russian energy giant Gazprom’s CEO, Alexey Miller, said earlier that Russia and China have agreed to get approval for gas supplies via the ‘Western Route’ in the shortest possible time.

Demand for Russian gas supplies is increasing in China, and according to Miller, by 2035 it could reach 80 – 100 billion cubic meters a year.

A recent report by the US Energy Information Administration showed that the world’s second-biggest natural gas importer, China, will account for at least a quarter of all global natural gas consumption growth between 2015 and 2040.

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© Chen Aizhu

Supplies via the ‘Eastern Route’ (the Power of Siberia) are expected to start by the end of next year. Initial volumes will stand at 5 billion cubic meters, reaching 38 billion cubic meters per year by 2024.

The 3,000-km (1,900-mile) pipeline will be longer than the distance between Moscow and London. The deal on the ‘Eastern Route’ took more than a decade to negotiate. In May 2014, Gazprom and CNPC signed a $ 400-billion, 30-year framework to deliver 38 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to China annually.

In 2017, Gazprom invested 158.8 billion rubles ($ 2.4 billion) in the project. This year it plans to invest another 218 billion rubles ($ 3.25 billion).

Russia’s Arctic region will also be a major source of gas supplies to China. At the moment, Russian gas producer Novatek is working (in cooperation with CNPC) on the implementation of Russian-led energy project Yamal LNG. China has already purchased the first two batches of liquefied natural gas from Yamal.

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Kosovo offers Israel an embassy in Jerusalem in exchange for recognition

The leader of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, has offered to place the embassy of his self-proclaimed state in Jerusalem, if Israel would recognize the renegade Serbian province as an independent country.

“If Kosovo were recognized by Israel, I would place the Kosovo embassy in Jerusalem,” the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) reported Friday, citing KosovaPress. Thaci made the offer during an interview with Albania’s Vizion Plus TV.

Kosovo was an autonomous province of Serbia that NATO occupied in 1999, after a 78-day airstrike campaign on behalf of the ethnic Albanian ‘Kosovo Liberation Army’ (KLA), led by Thaci. In February 2008, the provisional government unilaterally declared the region’s independence. It has been recognized by the US and most of its allies, though five EU and four NATO members still refuse to follow suit.

Israel is among half of the UN member states that have declined to recognize Kosovo’s independence, something Thaci is likely hoping to change with this offer. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been keen to have more countries relocate their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognizing Israel’s exclusive claim to the city, which is also claimed by the Palestinians as their capital.

So far, only the US, Guatemala and Paraguay have done so – and Paraguay’s new government announced this month it would move back to Tel Aviv in the interest of peace. US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, and opened the new embassy in May this year.

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Flags of Kosovo, Albania and the US during celebrations of the 10th anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence © Hazir Reka

Thaci himself offered a hint of what might be driving his proposal, by telling Vizion Plus that his government is “100 percent” supported by the US. “The Republic of Kosovo’s ties with the US are excellent. I met with President Trump, and his approach to us is the same as the previous president,” Thaci said.

This echoes the comments made by Ramush Haradinaj, another KLA leader turned politician, and rival to Thaci, who currently serves as prime minister in Kosovo’s government.

“We are part of Europe and cooperate with Brussels and Berlin,” Ramush Haradinaj told Serbia’s Happy TV in a three-hour recorded interview in April “However, when it comes to foreign policy we’re part of a club of countries led by America. We don’t have a problem with admitting that. We don’t have time for the world’s problems.”

The Israeli government has not yet responded to Thaci’s offer.

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Foreign critics of Philippines drug war will be ‘human live targets’ to military – Duterte

The controversial president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has told his military that his foreign critics will make great ‘live human targets’ for home troops, as only his countrymen have the right to question his policies.

Duterte, who has two complaints filed against him at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his brutal war on drugs, attacked his opponents abroad as he addressed the military in the central city of Capas on Friday.

“If I fell short, then as a Filipino, that is your right to criticize and even slam me if you want. I would never, never [hold] it against you,” the President said, as cited by GMA website.

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© Czar Dancel

But his foreign critics should keep their mouth shut, he warned, promising a grim fate to the investigators and human rights activists who would come to the Philippines to look into accusations against him.

“Someday when you’re out of targets… as well as live human target, I can just bring [the foreign critics] to you,” Duterte told the troops.

Back in March, the Philippines’ leader already promised to feed international investigators to crocodiles if they dare arrive in the country.

After taking office two years ago, Duterte launched a massive war on drugs, with Human Rights Watch claiming that more than 12,000 have been killed by police or “unidentified gunmen” since then.

The Philippine leader has denied all accusations, saying that his law enforcers only used force in self-defense.

In February, the ICC started a preliminary examination of claims against Duterte; he responded by unilaterally withdrawing the Philippines from the court in March.
He argued that the ICC gave up on the ‘presumption of innocence’ principle and only wanted to portray him as a “ruthless and heartless violator of human rights”.

READ MORE: ‘Stage a mutiny!’ Duterte dares Philippine military to act if they don’t like his leadership

Later, the president went even further, by saying that the Philippines never formally acceded to the Rome Statute, as its text wasn’t published in the country’s official gazette. He vowed to persuade other counties to also quit the ICC.

Duterte also instructed the Filipino police to ignore the investigators if they come, and threatened ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda with arrest.

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Oops! It took Twitter 2 weeks to tell users of bug that exposes messages to unauthorized developers

A bug on Twitter has been sending users’ private direct messages to third-party developers, who are unauthorized to view them. The tech has giant informed affected clients of the problem, but almost two weeks after discovering it.

Members of the Twitteratti began receiving notifications from the social networking website on Friday, that their messages and protected tweets have been exposed for more than a year.

The problem, which was building since May 2017, was discovered on September 10 and fixed “within hours,” the company said. But for some reason it took Twitter almost two weeks to relay this information to its users.

The tech giant said that “the bug affected less than 1% of people on Twitter,” but it’s still a significant number, considering that the platform has around 335 million users.

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© Valentin Wolf

The problem occurred in the Account Activity API (AAAPI), used by registered developers to build tools that help businesses to communicate with its customers on Twitter. “The bug may have caused some of these interactions to be unintentionally sent to another registered developer,” the company said.

“A complex series of technical circumstances had to occur at the same time for this bug to have resulted in account information definitively being shared with the wrong source,” it added.

Twitter said that it currently has no reasons to believe that any of the data sent to the wrong developers had been misused.

The tech giant said it has been working with its partners to make sure that they will “delete information they should not have.”

Those users that were affected by the bug will be contacted directly by Twitter staff, it said, adding that the investigation into the issue was ongoing.

READ MORE: ‘Patience reached limit’: EU warns Facebook to comply with consumer rules by end of 2018

It’s the second bug this year involving people’s data on Twitter. In May, many users were asked to change their passwords after it became clear that they were stored in unmasked form on the company’s internal log.

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US sanctions aimed to squeeze ‘main competitor’ out of arms market – Moscow

The new punitive measures the US imposed on buyers of Russian weapons – China in particular – is just a sign of unfair competition, aiming to get rid of “hyper-competitive” Russian-made arms, the Kremlin says.

Moscow is already “tired” of reacting to every single hostile move from Washington, but will not let the latest batch of restrictions go unpunished, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Friday.

The statement came after the Trump administration added 33 Russian defense and intelligence officials and entities to the sanctions list and also targeted the Equipment Development Department, China’s leading arms acquisition body, for buying Russian arms.

There are two key factors behind the latest restrictions, Moscow believes. Apart from “unfair competition” that actually violates international trade laws and principles, Washington just wants to clear the way for its own arms dealers.

The move is merely an attempt to “squeeze out of the markets the main competitor of American producers,” as Russian arms are often “hyper-competitive,” the Kremlin spokesman said. The “hostile” move will only further harm US-Russian relations, which Peskov characterized as already in a “sorry state.”

Washington’s recent sanctions have already drawn an indignant response from Beijing. On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry warned that the US will have to bear the consequences unless it drops the restrictions.

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Balkans shouldn’t be forced to choose between Russia and West – Lavrov

Foreign interference into the Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro issues is unacceptable, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister said, adding that the Balkans shouldn’t be made chose either Russia or the West.

Lavrov said that the sides shared a common stance towards the problems that still remain in the Balkans Region.

Hot issues in the region “must be settled on the basis of mutual consent of all the interested parties, with full respect of the opinion of the population of the relevant countries,” the foreign minister said After his meeting with the head of the Bosnian Serb Republic, Milorad Dodik, in Banja Luka.

The line of some external players, who are trying to put the peoples of the Balkan region before the choice – you’re either with the West or with Russia is unacceptable.

Following the several wars in the 1990s and the collapse of Yugoslavia, relations remain tense between the newly-formed states in the Balkans. The most grueling issue is the situation around Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is still unrecognized by Belgrade.

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US Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Skopje, Macedonia, September 17, 2018 © Ognen Teofilovski

Last year, Montenegro became the newest member of NATO, despite having a small military, which unable to boost the capabilities of the US-led military alliance in any way. The decision made without a referendum in disregard of the opinion of a large part of the population.

In late September, Macedonia is holding a referendum on changing its name to “North Macedonia” over disagreements with Greece and the possibility for the country to join the EU and NATO. In the run up to the plebiscite, the West has accused Russia of trying to meddle with the vote, but as usual no proof of Moscow’s involvement has been put on the table.

The EU is pressuring Serbia and Montenegro, saying that if they want to be included in the bloc, they should meet certain conditions, including accepting the EU’s anti-Russian foreign policy component.

Lavrov reminded that Russia, together with the US and Europe, was the author of the Dayton Agreement, which put an end to the Bosnian war in 1995, as well as the UN Security Council resolution on the Kosovo settlement in 1999.

“We see no reasons to curb this cooperation (with the West), again turning the Balkans into another bone of contention between Russia and our foreign colleagues,” he said.

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Father of NBA star killed in drive-by shooting

Richard Jefferson Sr., the father of NBA champion Richard Jefferson, was killed on Wednesday in a drive-by shooting in California.

The 65-year-old was outside a liquor store in a residential area when an unknown person opened fire from an approaching car, TMZ reported.

READ MORE: US Olympic women’s volleyball star indicted for murder, child abuse in Puerto Rico

Jefferson Sr. was pronounced dead at a local hospital where he was taken following the fatal incident.

The reasons behind the murder remain unknown and detectives are continuing their investigations.

Richard Jefferson, who is currently a free agent, has played 17 seasons in the NBA, claiming the championship title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

The 37-year-old forward has recently appeared as a TV pundit, and averaged 8.2 minutes per game in 20 games for the Denver Nuggets last season.

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