5 missing after gas well explosion in Oklahoma

Five oil rig workers in Oklahoma are missing following an explosion at a gas well. The fire reached “everything” on location at the well situated about 100 miles southeast of the city of Tulsa.

As of 3:30pm, secondary fires that started after the explosion have been extinguished, but the head of a collapsed derrick, a type of crane with a moveable pivoted arm for lifting or moving heavy weights, was still burning.

Authorities searched a wooded area around the well for the missing people, but have yet to find them. Seventeen others were rescued.

After the explosion, which was reported a little before 9:00am Monday, one person was taken to to be treated at a burn unit, according to Pittsburg County Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe, KOTV reported. 

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© Jim Urquhart

Around a dozen people were working on the site at the time of the explosion, which caused flames to shoot 50 feet in the air. The cause of the fire has not been determined, according to KOTV.

The exploded well is owned by Red Mountain Operating, and a Houston-based company called Patterson UTI was conducting the drilling, according to the company’s website, KOTV reported.

A fire control team from Houston arrived to shut down the well and put out the fire.

“They’re just checking everything, trying to get everything cooled down on location, but it’s still hot and there’s still a lot of gas coming out of the wellhead,” Enloe said.

Authorities stated that they do not expect to get into the wreckage Monday evening.

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© Lucy Nicholson

At a news conference earlier, officials said firefighters were not battling the initial blaze, but crews were set up around the area in order to fight any other fires that emerge due to the existing flames, KOTV reported.

Video taken by KOTV shows the heat from the explosion eventually caused the gas well’s derrick to collapse, which in turn, caused flames to spread across the site.

At least three medical helicopters landed at the site following the explosion, according to Enloe, KOTV reported.

Earlier Monday, before most of the fires were extinguished, Enloe said, “Everything that is on location is on fire,” and crews had to be pulled back after several explosions, CNN reported.

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Severity of Paris rat infestation captured in horrifying footage (VIDEO)

Paris’ long-running rat problem has again been highlighted through spine-chilling footage of a city dumpster filled with rodents. The rubbish collector who shot the video say rats have even attacked his colleagues.

The video, shot in December 2017 on the banks of the River Seine between the Musee d’Orsay and the Pont Royal, show a much-less romantic side to the city of love.

READ MORE: Overworked Parisian rat-catchers call for raise and reinforcements

In the footage, the swarm of rats are scrambling over each other as they fight over food scraps. Others are caught desperately trying to leap out of the bin.

What may be even more alarming, is that this is not an uncommon site in the capital, but rather a harsh reality “for both Parisians and tourists, who come to visit the most beautiful city in the world,” the unnamed garbage collector said.

For a year, there has been a proliferation of rats in all the areas bordering the Seine,” he told Le Parisien. The rats filmed in the bin have been incinerated.

The city employee says his colleagues have had rats jump up to their throats and arms, adding, that nobody has been bitten, yet. But, he said, “We do not want to wait until there is a tragedy.”

The garbage collectors are calling on the city to “take measures to eradicate the problem.” They say restaurants along the Seine are to blame. “The restaurants have about fifteen skips at their disposal, some still leave garbage bags outside,” he said.

READ MORE: Ratatouille: French mayor eats giant rodent as bet backfires (VIDEOS)

City authorities say they are aware of the problem and conceded that they’re seeing “more and more [rats] in public places,” reports Le Parisien. Mao Peninou, deputy mayor in charge of cleanliness, said city hall alloted €1.5 million to fight the pests last September and issued several deratting operations.

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CIA Director: ‘I haven’t seen’ proof of Russian interference claims

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has said he hasn’t seen any evidence of Russian interference in the US election, but that the Trump administration took the allegations very seriously.

During his first interview with CBS News at CIA headquarters, Pompeo was asked whether he had seen any evidence of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

“I wasn’t on the campaign,” Pompeo replied. “I haven’t seen it.”

“I can only say this: I’ve watched this administration deal with all of our adversaries in a way that has been robust. The CIA, as part of that, is doing our part,” he added.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that allegations of his campaign colluding with Russia were “fake news” and a “total hoax.” Most recently, he excoriated the mainstream media on his Twitter page on January 16.

“Do you notice the Fake News Mainstream Media never likes covering the great and record setting economic news, but rather talks about anything negative or that can be turned into the negative,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “The Russian Collusion Hoax is dead, except as it pertains to the Dems. Public gets it!”

The reference to the Democratic Party presumably applies to the alleged wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton in approving a uranium deal with a Russian company.

Pompeo said allegations of Russian interference in American democracy were being taken seriously, adding, “ I wish it had been taken this seriously previously.”

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CBS said it was former CIA director John Brennan who reportedly alerted the FBI to contacts between Russian officials and the Trump campaign, a central focus of the ongoing investigation.

As to what steps were being taken to counter interferences in 2018 and in the next presidential election in 2020, Pompeo was somewhat vague.

“It’s a very important question. I can’t answer it,” said the spymaster. “I can only tell you this: There is a major push, not only from the CIA but all of this administration, this government, to do everything we can to prevent that from happening in 2018, in 2020, in 2030, and beyond.”

The former Republican congressman from Kansas said he was ringing the changes at the spy agency.

“We are doing things today that the CIA was not doing a year ago, and there’s more risk attached to those,” Pompeo said.

He confirmed that this meant expanding US covert and clandestine operations, as “almost certainly, I want the president to have the best intelligence in the world.”

Asked about what kind of legacy he wanted to leave, Pompeo was emphatic: “I think our adversaries should know this when Mike Pompeo leaves as the director of the CIA, this organization will be more vicious, more aggressive, more inclined to take risks to come directly at the threats that America and the world faces. If I do that I will be very proud.”

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WATCH nuclear powered icebreaker rip through ice within meters of Arctic car expedition

A Russian Arctic expedition crew in factory-stock pickup trucks has had a close encounter with the gigantic Taymyr nuclear icebreaker.

It occurred as the team was driving on the iced Yenisei river, as the nuclear-powered Taymyr sailed a few meters away from them.

Evgeny Shatalov, one of the drivers, said he managed to run close to the giant ship and touched it, posting his claim on Instagram. He also jokingly regretted that no one on the team touched the icebreaker with their tongue, as that would surely bring good luck to the whole endeavor. When the ship passed by, it was some -50 Celsius.

The team is driving factory-stock Toyota pickup trucks to the far-north town of Dixon. The daring expedition started on January 15 from the city of Norilsk.

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Surveillance store: Amazon’s 100 plus cameras watch you while you shop

Amazon has opened its first checkout free store, which instead of cashiers is manned by more than a hundred cameras that watch and tag every item you pick up.

The excessive surveillance is justified by the convenience that comes from avoiding lengthy queues and the ease that comes with putting your goods straight into your shopping bag and walking out the door.

Amazon Go opened its 1800-square-foot (167-square-meter) store in Seattle Monday.

Customers to Amazon Go must first download the app and provide credit card details, which will be charged after shopping is complete. In order to access the store, the app must be scanned at a gated turnstile, similar to a subway station.

The store has scores of cameras roughly the size of a 2.5-inch drive on a computer, with a tiny LED light, according to Ars Technica.

The much-hyped opening of Amazon Go apparently prompted some to see if they could deceive Amazon’s all seeing technology and successfully shoplift from the store.

A New York Times reporter given permission by the store to attempt shoplifting noted that despite his covert attempts to sneak out an item, Amazon charged him for it.

However, a CNBC reporter noted the store didn’t charge her for a yogurt she picked up during a shopping trip Monday.

READ MORE: Amazon’s Alexa ‘goes rogue’ & triggers German police raid

Amazon says everytime a customer takes an item from the shelf, it registers on their online shopping cart. If the customer puts its back on the shelf it is removed from the virtual basket.  

Customers can put items straight into their shopping bag and walk out the door when they’re finished. Amazon will then charge their card and issue a receipt.

Of course, like all technology, the system is a possible target for hackers. Amazon, for its part, has not divulged exactly how the operation works.

The futuristic store opening comes after a series of teething problems. Amazon’s initial plan to open the Seattle store in early 2017 was delayed after the technology reportedly struggled when the store was busy during a test phase. The Wall Street Journal reported it could not deal with more than 20 shoppers.

The technology also experienced difficulties identifying shoppers with similar body types and had problems functioning when children came into the store and moved items from shelf to shelf, Reuters reported. Amazon never conceded the delay was as a result of technology issues.

Amazon responded to accusations that they are replacing jobs with automation by suggesting it’s an opportunity to place employees elsewhere.

“We’ve just put associates on different kinds of tasks where we think it adds to the customer experience,” Gianna Puerini, Vice President of Amazon Go, said.

The electronic commerce giant has staff on call behind the scenes, though, to assist when the system has difficulty making a determination, according to Recode. It also employs staff to stock shelves and to check IDs in the store’s wine and beer section.

Amazon, which also owns grocery chain, Whole Foods, has said there are no plans to introduce the technology in any of its other settings.

However, speculation is already brewing that if the automated grocery store proves successful, it may sell the system to other retailers in the future.

READ MORE: Amazon launches ‘Secret Region’ cloud service for US intel agencies

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How US went from supporting Syrian Kurds, to backing Turkey against them – in just 9 days

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been left flailing as Washington desperately struggles to avoid being shut out of Syria by its own allies – following a crisis it helped provoke just days ago.

For all the backpedaling and reframing the US officials are now doing, the chronology of the volte-face from Afrin to Ankara is startlingly straightforward.

READ MORE: ‘No stepping back’ from Afrin campaign: Turkish Army takes offensive to Azaz district

January 13

US announces a 30,000-strong Kurdish YPG-led Border Security Force (BSF) to stave off a Islamic State “resurgence,” operating out of the quarter of Syrian territory that the Kurdish minority now controls.

January 15

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls BSF an “army of terror” and promises to “strangle it before it is born,” saying it will imminently invade the north-western enclave of Afrin. Ankara says the US did not consult it over BSF, and insists Washington broke its promise to no longer arm YPG, whom Turkey views as separatist terrorists.

January 17

Tillerson to media: “That entire situation has been mis-portrayed, mis-described, some people misspoke. We are not creating a Border Security Force at all.”

READ MORE: US backtracks on ‘Kurdish border force’, Turkey cites record of broken promises

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway says of the 8,000-10,000 Kurds in Afrin: “We don’t consider them as part of our ‘Defeat ISIS’ operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them. We are not involved with them at all.”

January 20

Turkey attacks Afrin. If there wasn’t enough disingenuousness here already, the airstrike-backed ground attack is called Operation Olive Branch. Turkey says that it will create a 30-km deep “security zone” inside the Syrian border, and announces plans to push the offensive further east.

January 21

“Turkey is a NATO ally. It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns,” says US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. “We’ll sort this out.”

January 22

Tillerson to Turkey: “Let us see if we can work with you to create the kind of security zone you might need.” The kind of security zone that will operate on the same territory as the BSF? That force that was purportedly essential to the ‘Defeat Isis’ operations? Never mind all that.

Now, Tillerson deserves some sympathy. If Al-Qaeda turned into ISIS the last time US forces abandoned the region, what will ISIS turn into? Turkish and Kurdish tensions also predate the conflict, and it’s not Washington’s fault that Ankara is its NATO ally, while YPG provided America’s most motivated force against ISIS. All in all, Washington is now trying to make the best of a bad hand.

But the entire episode is emblematic of the incoherent and doomed-to-fail astrategy the US has pursued in Syria for the past seven years. What did the US think was going to happen after its BSF announcement? Like the teenager who unexpectedly comes home with a tattoo, it didn’t tell Ankara in advance because it must have realized what the reaction would be, or perhaps underestimated Erdogan’s fury – yet again – before trotting out a series of implausible denials.

The bigger problem is that Washington supports actors who have few aims in common beyond their mission to destroy Islamic State – which for most of them is no longer a priority, and for some never was. And apart from a by-now almost mythical 2011 pro-democracy movement, none of them share American aims anyway.

In fact, most are probably questioning why the US is even there. For Syrians, this is their own conflict, Turkey borders it, Kurds have long coveted their own state, even Russia is here at the official behest of Assad. America’s desire to pin its colors to Kurds or Turkey or anyone else in Syria shows that is raring to remain a part of the post-conflict stage, but everyone else has either greater motivation, more legitimacy, or both. So at its current level of engagement – where it can’t even back its horses for a week – Washington is probably best-off helping quietly, and not lighting matches and then inching away in embarrassment while others wage real wars.

Igor Ogorodnev for RT

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Olympic short track champion Viktor Ahn ‘banned’ from 2018 Games – report

Russia’s leading short track skater Viktor Ahn has been banned from the upcoming PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games as part of the investigation into alleged doping in Russian sport, sources report.

The six-time Olympic champion has been excluded from the list of Winter Games participants less than three weeks before the start of the event, which will be staged in PyeongChang in the country of his birth, South Korea, TASS reports, citing a source familiar with the situation.

Ahn competed for his native South Korea under the name Ahn Hyun-soo until 2011, when a disagreement with the Korean Skating Union (KSU) saw him acquire Russian citizenship and compete for his new country at the 2014 Sochi Games, where he earned three gold medals.

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FILE PHOTO © Alexander Demianchuk

The 32-year-old earlier stated he would compete as a neutral athlete following the ban on Russian athletes at PyeongChang, but might be forced now to miss the Games due to him being mentioned in the McLaren report, the WADA-commissioned investigation into allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russia headed by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren.

Based on the testimony of former head of Moscow Anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov, the report was used by the International Investigative Commissions chaired by Denis Oswald and Samuel Schmid, who were tasked with investigating alleged doping violations in Russia.

At the beginning of December, acting on the recommendations of the two commissions, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled to disqualify the entire Russian team from next month’s Olympics, as the result of an investigation into an alleged state-sponsored doping program said to have taken place in Russia during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Russian athletes able to prove their ‘clean’ career doping record, however, were given the green light to compete in PyeongChang on the condition they met the requirements stipulated by a specially-created Invitation Review Panel.

READ MORE: WADA offered money to whistleblower athletes – Fancy Bears leak

It’s more likely that six-time world champion Ahn has not been approved by the Invitation Review Panel, as his name was mentioned in the McLaren report. It is reported that Ahn’s team partners Denis Airapetyan and Vladimir Grigoryev have also been barred.

More than 40 Russian athletes, including Sochi Olympic champions Alexander Legkov, and Alexander Tretyakov have been slapped with life bans from the IOC and had their Sochi records annulled as punishment for alleged doping violations in Sochi.

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Tory MP calls for pupils to learn UK national anthem to aid integration, create sense of identity

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell is calling for ‘God Save the Queen’ to be taught in schools across the UK to bolster a sense of “national identity” and aid integration – but the suggestion has been met with a backlash.

“With such a diverse society, it is even more important that all schoolchildren in the UK are taught the national anthem,” he told the Romford Recorder. “This instils a great sense of belonging for young people growing up, and aids integration.”

Reverend Paul Nicholson, founder of Taxpayers Against Poverty, spoke to RT’s Polly Boiko in response to the Romford MP’s comments. He said that, in modern Britain, we need to question what the UK’s national song actually means.

“All the major faiths support the moral law that you should love your neighbor as you love yourself – so we should be asking what the national anthem stands for,” he said.

The song, however, does include one controversial verse, which calls on God to help crush rebellious Scots in the 17th century… not that Nicholson seemed to mind.

“It all has to do with this business of free speech,” he said. “We should have rebellious Scots, rebellious Muslims, rebellious Jews, rebellious politicians. We’re all in this together.”

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© Action Images / Paul Childs

Ted Yarbrough, co-founder and editor of the Dailyglobe.co.uk, said singing the anthem can create a sense of unity – something important in these cold, post-referendum Brexit times.

“We have generations of young people who don’t know the words of the national anthem and don’t understand the importance of national identity and its traditions,” Yarbrough said.

“Singing the national anthem can provide a great sense of unity, and disrespecting or disowning the anthem is a cause for division. It has become a part of the fabric of British life, in having this anthem which all British people can come together.

“So, if you’re going to be building a sense of British patriotism, it is a no-brainer to me that you’d want to teach children the national anthem. And the importance that the anthem has for the country, just like any other country does – like the United States with their anthem, the French with theirs, or any other nation.

“I’d like to point out that God Save the Queen is also the national anthem of about 15 other countries in the world. Every school should be pushing it as a way to have solidarity in the nation.”

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Senate approves govt funding until Feb 8

The US Senate has voted to pass temporary federal funding to overcome the government shutdown. The bill now moves to the US House of Representatives.

The spending deal came together after a three-day shutdown began midnight Friday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) agreed to reopen the government Monday morning.

The bill, which keeps the government open until February 8, does not include any of the immigration reforms Democrats called for last week. A major sticking point in the run-up to the shutdown last week was the status of nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants known as “Dreamers” covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. President Donald Trump has allowed the Obama-era program for childhood arrivals to expire in March, but Democrats see it as an urgent issue as some DACA recipients have seen their protection expire recently.

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Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi © Joshua Roberts

The legislation does promise a full Senate floor debate on DACA.

“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses,” Trump said in a statement, Reuters reported. “We will make a long term deal on immigration if and only if it’s good for the country.” 

Trump canceled a personal trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida over the weekend, in order to be on hand to sign more funding into law.

The cloture vote to limit debate on the bill earlier Monday was opposed by several progressive Democratic senators, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who caucuses with Democrats, also voted against the bill. Left-wing and progressive activists have criticized Schumer for compromising with McConnell.

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Russia 2018 World Cup trophy global tour begins in London

The global leg of the official FIFA World Cup trophy tour for Russia 2018 has been launched from London on Monday, after a star-studded ceremony.

The tour is the largest of its kind and will see the trophy visit 91 cities, across 51 countries and six continents. That includes visiting for the first time Austria, Mongolia and Iceland, the home of the famous ‘Viking Thunderclap’.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin at the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour kick-off ceremony at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow © Michael Klimentyev

Before the global leg of the tour, sponsored by Coca-Cola, the trophy made its way across Russia for three months, visiting 16 cities and traveling more than 16,000km (9,900 miles), making it the longest host country tour in history.

On hand at the ceremony in London were Sir Geoff Hurst, a winner with England in 1966, Andrea Pirlo, who won the World Cup 40 years later with Italy at the Germany 2006 tournament, and Russia 2018 ambassador Victoria Lopyreva.

Midfield great Pirlo, who most notably turned out for AC Milan and Juventus during a distinguished career, described the event as a “great honor” and called winning the World Cup the “pinnacle” of a player’s career.

“It is a great honor that I could be here today to send off the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour plane on its journey around the globe,” Pirlo told the official FIFA website.

“Being able to once again hold the original trophy brings back amazing memories for me, and I cannot wait to find out who will lift this precious sporting icon after the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. This trophy represents the absolute pinnacle of a player’s career.”

Writing on Instagram, Lopyreva said: “So honored to be a part of today’s Trophy Tour event with Andrea Pirlo, Sir Geoff Hurst…This most iconic and beautiful trophy will travel to 51 countries around the world before returning to Russia – I can’t wait to see who will lift it this summer!”

By the time the trophy reaches Moscow on June 7, one week before Russia and Saudi Arabia kick off the tournament at Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital, the trophy will have traveled from Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East to Kaliningrad, the country’s most westerly city, and visited each of the 11 tournament host cities.

In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin kicked off the tour from Luzhniki, which coincided with the weekend of Moscow’s 870th anniversary, recognized from September 1-10, alongside FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

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