Boris Johnson ready to pay UK’s £450mn Iran debt to help free jailed British mother

Britain is prepared to pay a £450 million debt to Iran in a bid to free a British mother jailed there for alleged espionage. The government has quietly authorized lawyers to finally settle the 38-year-old dispute over a tank deal, it has been reported.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned by the Iranian government while on a family holiday in April 2016 for “plotting to topple the regime.” Her plight was exacerbated when Foreign Secretary Johnson falsely told a government committee she was there as to “train journalists.” After his gaffe, she was brought before an Iranian court and told she faces an extra five years in jail.

Read more

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella © Free Nazanin campaign

It is now understood that Johnson is hoping to improve relations with Iran by repaying a debt owed since the 1970s. The former shah of Iran paid the British government £650 million (US$ 857.3 million at present rate) for 1,750 tanks, but only 185 were delivered before his regime was toppled in 1979 and the order canceled. The International Chamber of Commerce demanded that Britain pay £450 million back in 2009, but a ruling on international sanctions against Iran prevented this from happening.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, met with Johnson on Tuesday and asked him to secure him a safe passage to Iran. He told the foreign secretary his “softly softly” approach is not working. “It is important that the UK honors its international legal obligations, so that Iran can honor its legal obligations,” Ratcliffe told the Sun.

Johnson has apologized for the “anguish” he caused when making incorrect claims about the case.

According to the Evening Standard, Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be being held by the Iranian government as “collateral” for the debt. However Westminster continues to insist that the two issues are unrelated.

“This is a long-standing case and relates to contracts signed over 40 years ago with the pre-revolution Iranian regime. Funding to settle the debt was paid to the high court by the Treasury in 2002. Iran’s Ministry of Defense remains subject to sanctions,” a government spokesperson told the Daily Mail. “It is wrong to link a completely separate debt issue with any other aspect of our bilateral relationship with Iran.”

The Foreign Office is still considering whether it will give diplomatic protection to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, according to the BBC. The government said lawyers would discuss the issue, but said the question was whether it would help her case.

Ratcliffe says diplomatic protection – which allows a state to take diplomatic action on behalf of a national – would be “important and helpful.” The protection would signal that the UK is treating the case as a formal, legal dispute between the UK and Iran.

He has also discussed with Johnson the possibility of a joint trip to Iran before the end of the year. Ratcliffe said Johnson had no fixed date for his planned visit to Iran, but the foreign secretary was “keen” to travel with him.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is said to be close to a nervous breakdown. She has also found lumps in her breasts.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT UK News

Bitcoin megacity may be built in Russia's Siberia

Russia may soon build a city in Siberia just to mine cryptocurrency. The idea is to provide a new source of income for people and the state, and in the future create a rival to Silicon Valley.

The city should be located in Siberia or the Far East, not far from a large hydroelectric power station, according to Russian State Duma member Boris Chernyshov.

Cryptocurrency mining has become popular in Siberia due to the region’s low energy costs. The process requires computing power and lots of electricity. Irkutsk has become a hub for cryptocurrency mining because electricity is very cheap, about five times less expensive than in Moscow.

Read more

© Karen Blier

“A mining city will help people make money, buy apartments and other things they need. It will replenish the state budget at the expense of taxes. If we build such a settlement near the border, for example, with China, this will immediately cause great interest, there will be flows of business tourists. Such a place will become a business hub, bringing investment from abroad. This is a driver, a point of growth,” said the deputy.

Chernyshov said cryptocurrency mining has not yet been legislated in Russia and this should be addressed after the city’s construction.

Russian Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev supported the idea of building the bitcoin city. At the same time, the state should not be the owner of the town, he said, or the project would fail.

“I am for any initiative that leads to the creation of jobs, added value, the opportunity to produce new technological products or services. I am against the state being the owner of the business. The state has nothing to do with business, the state must formulate the rules of the game. Any business should have a beneficiary, one who is vitally interested in the enterprise. Otherwise, all this is doomed to failure,” Marinichev told RT.

At the moment, bitcoin mining and selling are not regulated by Russian law. President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to create legislation governing the status of bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies, mining, initial coin offerings, as well as defining everything that relates to digital money by July 2018.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT Business News

‘Similar to Nazi looting’: Russian minister blasts Netherlands’ Scythian gold ruling

Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky has described a decision by a Dutch court not to return a collection of Scythian gold to Crimea as a “most dangerous precedent,” and threatened to sever all museum ties with the Netherlands.

If this ruling comes into force, I would have no right to sanction any exhibitions in the territory of the country that creates the most dangerous precedent regarding the confiscation of cultural treasures,” Medinsky said during an interview with RIA Novosti.

The minister was reacting to a decision by a court not to return 500 Scythian gold artifacts, which Dutch museums had borrowed from Crimean collections.

Read more

FILE PHOTO. U.S. M1 Abrams tanks. © Ints Kalnins

We are talking about an unprecedented alienation of museum values. This can only be compared to lootings dating back to Napoleon’s Italian campaigns, or to those during the times of Nazi aggression. I think that the Dutch court ruling was absolutely politicized. It destroys the very system of exhibition exchange,” he stated.

Medinsky explained that the artifacts in question had been discovered, studied and stored in the territory of Crimea, and all norms of international law were on the side of Crimean museums.

The exhibits of Scythian gold were delivered from several Crimean museums to the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam in February 2014, shortly before the Crimean Republic reunited with the Russian Federation following a referendum that attained almost universal support.

The Crimean museums subsequently demanded the return of the collection, but so did the Ukrainian Culture Ministry. In December 2016, a court in Amsterdam ruled that the Scythian gold should be sent to Kiev, but the Russian side appealed the decision and it has yet to come into force.

Russian officials have repeatedly condemned the ruling as a dangerous precedent that threatens the whole system of international cultural exchange. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the decision on the Crimean Scythian gold collection “contradicted fairness and justice.” It added that the decision “destroys the Hague’s ambitions to become the legal capital of the world.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT Russian Politics News

Pedophile dwarf spared prison because he would have a ‘very hard time’

A pedophile dwarf who groomed two minors through Facebook has avoided going to prison because he would have a “very hard time.” Bryan Anthony Bowen, 26, had asked the girls for naked photos and sex.

Bowen, of Welshpool, Powys, contacted the children, aged 13 and 15, online. In one message to the older girl, he wrote: “I will f*** you for your birthday present,” Mold Crown Court heard. When police searched his laptop, they found he had told the 13-year old that she was “fit as f***.”

Judge Rhys Rowland said Bowen was “small in stature and emotionally inadequate” as he spared him a jail term, according to The Sun. He had no previous convictions and the judge said that, while what he had done was “very, very wrong,” he would have a very hard time if he was sent to prison.

Bowen was instead handed down a 28-week prison sentence suspended for two years. He will also be registered as a sex offender for 10 years. The judge told Bowen that the girls had “quite enough on their plates” without men like him pestering them and asking for photographs. He added that Bowen had been “trying to live out some sort of fantasy.”

Prosecuting, Anna Price told the court that the 15-year old had contacted the police after Bowen sent her explicit messages and asked her “Do you want to f***?” Another message sent to the 13-year old was later discovered. He commented on her appearance and asked if she had a boyfriend.

READ MORE: Child-porn images so widespread, police can’t prosecute everyone – chief constable

After his arrest, Bowen told police that he thought the girls were over 16 years old, but later pleaded guilty to two counts of inciting a child to carry out a sex act.

Defending, Dafydd Roberts urged the judge not to jail Bowen, who has learning difficulties, and called for him to be given a rehabilitation order. The order includes a three-month curfew between 9pm and 7am.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT UK News

‘I hate you, Chinese n****r!’ Racist passenger attacks Asian man on SF train (VIDEO)

A white man has been caught on film yelling racist slurs against an Asian passenger on San Francisco’s rapid train while horrified commuters watched on without intervening. The victim was brave enough to stand up and confront the attacker.

A widely-seen video emerged online showing an old white man aggressively uttering racial insults at Asian man, identified by SF Gate outlet as Charles Wu, on a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train. 

The offender is first seen leering at Wu, threatening to “punch his d**k” and “beat you down.” As a passenger next to Wu begins to move away, the white man calls him “Chinese n****r,” slapping him on the neck and shoulder.

Wu remains visibly calm until the attacker, seemingly challenging him into a physical fight, tells him: “I hate you, you f*****g Chinese f**k.” Wu slowly stands up to respond, but other commuters stop him, saying “Don’t do it, don’t do it,” and “He’s not even worth it.”

Wu later told SF Gate the man boarded the train near the Coliseum Station. He said hardly anyone was willing to intervene at first. “No one was saying anything and it was a BART full of people,” he said. “I had enough, so I told him, ‘Sir, you need to stop talking.’”

BART police said they received three calls from commuters, but the assailant left before officers arrived. Police launched an investigation into “the belligerent and bigoted actions” of the suspect, though Wu insisted he does not want to press charges.

Video of the encounter was uploaded to Facebook by a user named Wiseley Wu, who recorded it while apparently sitting nearby on the BART train.

READ MORE: South Korean tourist attacked, has teeth smashed with champagne bottle ‘for being Asian’ (VIDEO)

“Even in Bay Area, racism like still exists,” the user wrote on Facebook. “I was merely the person filming it, not the guy being insulted. I wish I were as brave as him.”

“We see a lot of crazy things on BART and I thought it’d be over in no time,” the camera operator later told SF Gate. “But it kept getting worse and worse and I never expected to see something like this in front of me, I didn’t know what to respond.”

About 420,000 people use BART trains daily. While the agency says it is increasing its police presence and hiring additional officers, it says that it also relies on commuters to report crimes.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT US News

Da Vinci painting breaks all art auction records fetching over $450 million

A painting by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci was sold by the Christie’s auction house for more than $ 450 million on Wednesday, setting a world record for an auctioned work of art.

The painting, called “Salvator Mundi,” or “Savior of the World,” is one of fewer than 20 pictures by Leonardo known to exist and the only one in private hands. It was once part of Charles I’s Royal collection and was sold for just £45 in the 1950s when it was mistaken for a copy.

The 26-inch-tall (66 centimeters) painting dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes. His right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.

The painting was sold again in 1958 and then acquired in 2005 by a consortium of art dealers who paid less than $ 10,000. The artwork, which by that time had been badly damaged and partly painted-over, was restored by the art dealers. They documented its authenticity as a work by Leonardo.

The painting was sold on Wednesday by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought it in 2013 for $ 127.5 million in a private sale. The auction took 19 minutes of dueling between the four bidders on the telephone.

The previous highest price paid for a work of art at auction was $ 179.4 million, for Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015, also at Christie’s in New York.

The highest known sale price for any artwork before this week was $ 300 million for Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange” in September 2015. The painting was sold privately by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT Business News

Afghan opium production at record high despite British troops dying to stamp it out

Opium production in Afghanistan has almost doubled this year over 2016, according to a United Nations survey. As the Taliban returns to territory liberated by UK forces in 2001, the booming drugs industry is further proof the war failed in its basic aims.

One of the justifications given by former Prime Minister Tony Blair for Britain’s intervention in Afghanistan against the Taliban back in 2001 was to stop the production of opium poppies used to make heroin.

In a speech at Labour Party Conference that year, he said the UK must intervene alongside the US.

Read more

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers. © Omar Sobhani

“The arms the Taliban are buying today are paid for by the lives of young British people buying their drugs on British streets. This is another part of the regime we should destroy,” he said.

But 16 years on, and after more than a decade of conflict claiming the lives of 454 British soldiers, poppy production in Afghanistan is at a record high.

The UN’s drug and crime agency reports an 87 percent increase in opium production in Afghanistan, at a record level of 9,000 tons so far in 2017, compared to 4,800 tons in 2016.

While Afghanistan’s Helmand province, which the Afghan government has largely lost to the Taliban since the withdrawal of coalition troops in 2014, has seen poppy cultivation areas rise by 80 percent.

The UN said the increase “will probably further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan. They will also supply increased amounts of high quality, low-cost heroin to consumer markets across the world and will likely increase consumption and its related harms.”

The UK spearheaded international efforts to crackdown on the drug trade after the Taliban was toppled in 2001. Its costly aid programs aimed at providing alternative crops to farmers while eradicating poppy cultivation, however, did little to stop huge harvests.

Yury Fedotov, the Russian diplomat who runs the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), called on the international community to “reprioritize drug control, and to acknowledge that every nation has a shared responsibility for this global problem.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT UK News

Comply or lose funds: DOJ sends memo to 29 ‘sanctuary’ cities, counties and states

The Justice Department is ramping up efforts to force so-called “sanctuary cities” to comply with federal law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo giving 29 jurisdictions until December 8 to prove their compliance, or lose federal funding.

“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents. We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373, but also to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens.”

Section 1373 is a federal statute regulating local cooperation with federal immigration officials. Compliance with 8 US Code Section 1373 is required before the DOJ can disburse the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant funding.

Read more

California Governor Jerry Brown  © Thomas Peter

JAG grants are the state, local, and tribal authorities’ largest source of federal funding for criminal justice. Sanctuary jurisdictions received $ 32.7 million in these grants in 2016, reported the conservative Heritage Foundation, citing DOJ records.

Thirteen of the jurisdictions that received the compliance letters are in California: Berkeley, Los Angeles, Fremont, Santa Ana, Watsonville, the city and county of San Francisco, and the counties of Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Sonoma and Monterey.

California declared itself a “sanctuary state” last month, when Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Values Act (Senate Bill 54) protecting an estimated 2.3 million immigrants living in the state illegally. California state authorities were not included in this batch of DOJ compliance letters. State governments of Vermont, Illinois and Oregon were, however.

Other jurisdictions the DOJ has put on notice are: Bernalillo County, New Mexico; Burlington, Vermont; city and county of Denver, Colorado; Jackson, Mississippi; Seattle and King County, Washington; Lawrence, Massachusetts; Louisville metropolitan area in Kentucky; Newark and Middlesex in New Jersey; West Palm Beach, Florida; Multnomah County, Oregon; Albany, New York; and the District of Columbia.

This is the second round of compliance letters the DOJ announced this fall. Five jurisdictions were put on notice in October, including Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia and Cook County, Illinois.

The DOJ has been threatening to withhold funds from “sanctuary” jurisdictions for months, with Sessions declaring their policies erode the rule of law and endanger public safety. Several jurisdictions have pushed back, with Chicago suing the government in August for “unconstitutional” immigration enforcement.

Other cities and counties have responded by complying with federal policies. In August, Sessions praised the example of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The county will receive nearly $ 500,000 in federal grants. It was also sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for complying with federal immigration authorities.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT US News

Danish right-wing party says doctors with ‘Muslim beard’ don't belong in country’s hospitals

Doctors sporting full beards should not be allowed to practice in Danish hospitals, a local right-wing party has said, arguing that voluminous facial hair is a clear manifestation of Islamic faith. The comments caused a massive social media backlash in defense of beards.

The idea was recently floated by Henrik Thorup, a top Danish People’s Party (DF) candidate in the upcoming Danish municipal elections. Unveiling the controversial proposal, Thorup said that enforcing the ban should “put an end to this kneeling before Muslim traditions,”speaking to Berlingske last week.

“When you have a beard this size, you are likely to have a certain religion I don’t really care about. It’s the same with the headscarf,” Thorup said.

Brushing off criticism that by imposing restrictions on how people should look Denmark would infringe on personal freedom, Thorup argued that growing a large beard is not merely a fashion statement but a religious one and a hospital is not the right place to express it.

Read more

© Amos Chapple / Getty Images

“They only do that to mark, ‘I’m Muslim,” Thorup argued, adding that, in principle, he would like to see the same rules apply to all public employees. Speaking about what prompted him to come up with this particular bizarre idea, Thorup recounted his “shocking” experience at the emergency room at a local hospital, where he was treated by a doctor with a poorly groomed lengthy beard.

“I do not know if he is Iranian, Iraqi, Islamic or Muslim, but at least he has a huge black beard… You do not see Danish doctors with huge beads, you do not. I do not mind the man, but I still do not think that a beard of that size belongs to a hospital,” Thorup said, arguing that voluminous facial hair on doctors carries risks to patients’ safety.

“I do not understand when a hospital hires a man and allows him to walk around with such a giant beard when he is going to treat patients who come in with everything,” he said.

According to Thorup, his proposal is not about discrimination of fashion policing, and is a part of showing respect for Denmark’s culture and healthcare standards.

“It’s quite logical that you have to follow the standards that are in the country you are in,” he said.

Thorup has received backing from the party’s parliamentary leader, Peter Skaarup, who said that the Danish People’s Party is not opposed to beards in general, only to “a religious beard.” He argued that it is always clear when a beard is worn by a fashion victim and when it is an outright symbol of one’s religious beliefs.

Twitter, meanwhile, exploded with pictures of Santa Claus, Hippocrates, Plato and other famous bearded personalities who have no relation to the Muslim faith.

Among those outed as a beardie was Danish People’s Party member Knud N. Mathiesen.

While perhaps a bit on the extreme side, the proposed ban on beards as a religion statement could be seen as a follow-up to laws banning Muslim face veils, already in place in a few European countries, some have said. The Danish People’s Party itself has proposed to restrict the burqa and niqab, and was supported in this by the Liberal Party, the largest party in the ruling coalition government, as well as the main opposition Social Democrats.

“There will come a masking ban in Denmark. That’s how it is,” Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said on Facebook at the time. While the parties have not yet agreed on the details of the ban, Denmark seems to be set to soon follow in the footsteps of nations such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the German state of Bavaria.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT World News

Harassment scandals hit GOP & Dem campaigns, only 1 gets mass attention

As Alabama Republican US Senate candidate Roy Moore fights an allegation of attempted rape of an underage girl, very little media attention has been paid to a Democrat running for Congress who has been arrested on a felony stalking charge.

On Wednesday, Moore’s campaign attorney Phillip Jauregui held a press conference outside the Alabama Republican Party headquarters to challenge one of the sexual assault allegations the candidate is facing.

Moore, through his attorney, said there was “no way in the world” he wrote the inscription on a yearbook cited as evidence on Monday by accuser Beverly Young Nelson. Jauregui called on Allred to release the yearbook so a handwriting expert could “draw their own conclusions.”

“Release the yearbook so we can determine is it genuine or is it a fraud,” Jauregui said.

Nelson accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16, when he was in his 30s. Nelson said that in the late 1970’s, Moore drove her to a deserted area, where he groped her breasts, tried to pull off her shirt and pushed her head toward his crotch.

“To a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say, ‘Merry Christmas,” the message read. “Love, Roy Moore DA.”

Jauregui pointed to the initials “DA” after the signature, clarifying that Moore was not the district attorney at the time, but only the assistant district attorney. How those letters got there, according to Moore’s lawyer, may be connected to another hole in the accuser’s story.

During the news conference on Monday, Nelson said that she never had any contact with Moore after the incident. However, Jauregui said that was a lie, citing the fact that Moore was the judge who presided over her divorce case in 1999. Jauregui suggested that the “DA” was how Moore’s assistant, Deborah Adams, wrote her initials on an order in the case.

Just after the press conference on Wednesday, another woman accused Moore of sexual assault, saying he grabbed her buttocks.

In a tweet Wednesday, Moore accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of “attempting to subvert the will of Alabamians” by “helping to elect a far-left Democrat.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle…

David Alcon, a Democrat running for the US House of Representatives in New Mexico’s second district, was arrested by Albuquerque police on Friday after a woman accused him of stalking her, according to the New Mexican.

A Santa Fe judge signed a warrant for Alcon’s arrest nearly two weeks ago after a woman told police that Alcon sent her a series of threatening text messages while she was at a Halloween party. Alcon allegedly sent the woman a picture of his genitals, and a series of text messages telling her he loved her and wanted to have children with her.

Read more

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Judge Roy Moore  © Reuters

The woman said that she texted Alcon back multiple times, telling him “that she did not want anything to do with Alcon, and she repeatedly told him to leave her alone,” according to the criminal complaint obtained by The New Mexican.

The woman told police that she met Alcon 10 years ago at a political party and he had been texting her ever since, according to The New Mexican.

She later called the police and told them Alcon was at her apartment, watching her, according to KRQE.

Before Alcon’s sentencing, District Judge Michael Vigil said that his charges were “unbelievable.”

“That is creepy. That is scary for a person. You would not go away. Violence takes a lot of different forms. [What you did] was a form of violence to the victim,” Vigil said, according to the Daily Caller.

Alcon was previously arrested for stalking in 2007 after he broke into his girlfriend’s house and continued to show up and leave her messages without her consent, according to The New Mexican.

After Alcon was arrested, Meredith Kelly, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), called his alleged behavior “despicable and serious.”

“He is not fit to run for office in New Mexico or anywhere else,” Kelly said in a statement to The New Mexican. “The DCCC has not had any interaction with him, and in light of these allegations, neither Chairman Lujan nor the DCCC will support his candidacy.”

Alcon has still not filed the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for the congressional seat currently held by Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, who is running for governor.

Alcon’s arrest has not been covered on any of the mainstream media networks, who have spent a combined 79 minutes talking about the allegations against Moore between November 9 and November 13, according to the Daily Caller.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

RT US News

Page 1187 of 1792
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
error: Content is protected !!