Charity blasts United Colors of Benetton over migrant images in ad campaign (PHOTO INSIDE)

The charity behind the rescue of hundreds of migrants from the Mediterranean has lambasted the Italian clothing firm United Colors of Benetton over the use of its images in a controversial advertising campaign.

The pictures, which were taken by officials from SOS Méditerranée during a rescue operation involving hundreds of migrants on June 9, were published on the firm’s Twitter feed Sunday and show migrants at sea and at aid stations being attended to by volunteers. The campaign has appeared online and in Italian newspaper La Republica.

READ MORE: ‘Italy left alone in crisis’: After shutting ports to migrant rescue ship, Rome rebukes EU criticism

The Franco-German aid organization has condemned the campaign for using the images, writing in a statement posted to Twitter: “Tragedy in the Mediterranean should never be used for commercial gain.”

READ MORE: Osborne’s Evening Standard accused of making millions ‘selling news coverage’ to Google and Uber

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini labelled the campaign “squalid” in comments to the Tribuna Treviso newspaper. Benetton’s art director, Oliviero Toscani, later hit back at Salvini in a radio interview, saying his comments were only good for “toilet paper.” Toscani then defended the use of the image, saying that provocative advertising campaigns were part of the firm’s brand and this one could help draw attention to the plight of migrants.

Salvini later tweeted a link to the Tribuna story, along with the line: “Am I the only one to find this despicable?”

READ MORE: Roman Holiday over for migrants: New interior minister vows end to ‘refugee camp’ Italy

Italy is currently in the midst of a sweeping new crackdown on migration into the country. During a visit to Sicily at the beginning of June, Salvini promised to fight illegal immigration and to end the perception of Italy as “Europe’s refugee camp.”

Earlier this month, Italy barred the migrant rescue ship ‘Aquarius’ from docking at its ports. The ship, carrying 629 passengers, was prevented from coming into port as Italy complained that it had been left alone by the EU to deal with the influx of refugees from North Africa.

The vessel was then redirected to Malta where it was again refused permission to dock. The situation was only resolved when Spain’s newly sworn-in Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez allowed the ship to be admitted into the eastern port of Valencia.

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'Ronaldo is like a good port wine, he knows how to age best' – Portugal coach Santos

Portugal coach Fernando Santos says star man Cristiano Ronaldo is “like a port wine” and gets better with age, after the striker scored his fourth goal in two World Cup games as Portugal beat Morocco in Moscow.

When asked why Ronaldo’s four-goal return in Russia was already better than in his three previous World Cups, Santos first joked “he has a great coach,” before comparing the player to a vintage wine.

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© Francisco LEONG

“Obviously he’s like a port wine, he knows how to age best, his physical prowess, his technique, he’s constantly evolving, he doesn’t want to do today what he did three of four years ago.”

Ronaldo powered home a header in the fourth minute against Morocco at Luzhniki to give Portugal their first World Cup win in Russia, following his hat-trick heroics in the team’s 3-3 draw with Spain in Sochi last week.

The goal was a landmark one for the Portugal no. 7, who became the leading all-time international scorer in Europe on 85 goals, one ahead of Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas.

Ronaldo has previously said the country is “lucky for him,” having won the Champions League in Moscow with Manchester United in 2008.

The wine comparison from Santos seems apt, given Portugal’s history of stellar port-making, although this was far from a vintage performance from Santos’ team. But Portugal claimed the win, putting them top of Group B on four points, before Iran and Spain meet in Kazan.

READ MORE: ‘It was beautiful for me’ – Ronaldo on record-breaking goal & Portugal World Cup victory

For Morocco the defeat against Portugal meant they became the first team to officially be knocked out of Russia 2018, as they were left rock bottom of the group on zero points from their two games.

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China can hurt America in trade war six ways from Sunday

The threat of a full-scale trade war between the US and China has dominated the news in recent weeks. The countries have exchanged import tariffs on each other’s goods, and are threatening further protective steps.

After numerous threats to tax Chinese imports, US President Donald Trump fired the first shot by approving $ 50 billion in tariffs that will come into force on July 6. Beijing immediately responded by imposing a 25-percent tariff on American imports worth $ 34 billion, which will come into effect on the same day.

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© Lucas Jackson

Trump issued a threat to impose additional 10-percent levies on $ 200 billion of Chinese goods coming to the US. This prompted a pledge from China’s Commerce Ministry to “forcefully fight back” with “qualitative” and “quantitative” measures.

The mutual exchange came two months after the White House slapped China and several other nations, including Russia and India, with an import tax of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. In late May, the measure was extended to the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Now that everyone’s cards are on the table, the question is what else China can do to protect itself and minimize damages in this fierce fight between the world’s two largest economies. Let’s explore the possibilities.

Cutting US investments

Chinese corporations have significantly decreased their investments in the US amid the mounting spat, reports Rhodium Group, a research provider that tracks Chinese foreign investment. The reported plunge totaled 92 percent within the first five months of this year.

China became America’s strategic partner at the end of the last century as part of a US plan to undermine the Soviet Union. This had involved enormous efforts by Washington dating back to the Nixon administration.

In the early 2000s, however, the George W. Bush administration turned Beijing from a strategic partner into a strategic rival. Chinese companies invested heavily in the US, but Washington’s tougher stance on imports and with US regulators derailing major deals, Chinese investments have been drying up.

Further tariffs on US imports

Beijing could escalate tariff hikes on more American products. While analysts agree that no one would emerge as a winner from the conflict, Beijing says it’s willing to take pain in order to protect its interests. If the trade war escalates, major American corporations would be damaged. China is already targeting American products from states that backed Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. So far, Beijing has taxed American fruit, nuts, pork, wine, soybeans, corn, wheat, rice, sorghum, beef, poultry, fish, dairy products, alfalfa, and vegetables. But Apple and Boeing could be the next targets.

Rejecting US oil and gas

China, the world’s biggest energy consumer, has become one of the key purchasers of US oil since Washington allowed its producers to sell crude abroad after a 40-year ban. At the same time, China is set to become the world’s largest buyer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the next decade. Beijing has pledged to announce additional duties on the remaining $ 16 billion of US goods, including crude oil, LPG, gasoline, naphtha, fuel oil and natural gas.

China has been the largest Asian buyer of US crude, with its market share rising to 3.5 percent in the first quarter from 0.4 percent over the same period a year ago, according to S&P Global Platts. China accounted for 23 percent of total US crude exports in March, data from the Energy Information Administration reveals. “LPG is expected to face the second biggest impact” Platts said in an emailed report, citing US supplies that accounted for 22.4 percent of China’s total propane imports in the first quarter.

Although LNG is not on the list yet, Beijing might introduce additional tariffs on some of its energy imports from the US, and decrease purchases or completely stop buying oil and gas from the US altogether.

READ MORE: Yuan going global as China boasts largest foreign reserves & infrastructure megaprojects

Yuan devaluation

A weaker national currency would help China to boost trade competitiveness. Beijing might relax capital control measures, which have helped the country’s authorities to strengthen the renminbi over the past two years. The step would help the country’s exports.

“One would imagine that China will be thinking about currency devaluation again. The yuan doesn’t trade freely, and analysts are often left wondering what the People’s Bank of China has in mind for the currency,” said Rabobank’s senior Asia-Pacific strategist Michael Every, as quoted by Market Watch. “Devaluation is one of Beijing’s most powerful economic tools.”

Dumping treasuries

As a tit-for-tat response, the Chinese government might use the ‘nuclear option’ and take aim at the largest American import – government debt. China held some $ 1.18 trillion of US treasuries as of the end of April, making it the largest of America’s foreign creditors and the second overall owner of US government bonds after the Federal Reserve. Dumping those holdings could drive bond yields higher and make it more costly to finance the federal government. The step would have a major negative impact on US finances and global investors.

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Death in a closet: ‘Sheer bad luck’ cost woman her life after being trapped for days

It’s a tragic scene ripped straight out of a Stephen King novel. An inquest into the death of a British woman has found that the 60 year old died after becoming trapped in an airing cupboard for several days.

Elizabeth Mary Isherwood was on holiday in Gwynedd, Wales when she died in bizarre circumstances last year.

At an inquest into the death, Caernarfon coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones determined that Isherwood became trapped in the airing cupboard of her holiday accommodation after the door of the shelved space malfunctioned.

READ MORE: Harrow schoolboy’s ‘inappropriate behavior’ provoked fatal punch, attacker spared jail

Inside the cupboard the woman from Wolverhampton was soaked by a broken water pipe as she desperately tried to escape. Isherwood’s son Craig told, local newspaper, the Express and Star how his family have been devastated by the death of his “sporty” mum who was holidaying alone when the accident occurred.

“If anyone could have got out of that cupboard it would have been mum,” he told the newspaper“The inquest has brought it all back to us; it’s been a tough nine months and losing her has left a huge hole in our lives.”

During the inquest it was heard how Isherwood tried to smash through parts of a plaster wall while inside the cupboard – only to find her escape blocked by bricks and a picture hung on the opposite side. The coroner said that the cold water flowing into the confined space and the fact that the victim was naked at the time contributed to her death. It’s thought Isherwood could have been trapped for several days.

“What I believe happened is, some time during the night or during the morning she had got up and gone to the bathroom,” Jones said, according to the Wales Daily Post. He said Isherwood was the victim of “sheer bad luck” since the door knob disintegrated while she was in the cupboard.

READ MORE: Deaths ‘unexplained’ as three killed in south London train incident

“Being unable to turn the lock and realising she was trapped and there was no light, at some stage she first of all pulled the shelves off. Whether she used them to try and get out, I can’t say.” Jones added that he does not know why Isherwood was in the closet.

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Erotic dance by Ukrainian border guards becomes internet sensation (VIDEO)

A sexy video of semi-naked female border guards rocking it out to the tune of ‘Gentlemen’ by Korean signer Psy has become an internet sensation in Ukraine.

The girls, who are clad in only underwear and parts of the Ukraine border-guard uniform, are seen dancing and having fun in the footage. It was filmed during a party, which the off-duty border guards hosted at their dormitory in the village of Orshanets in Cherkasy Region, Ukraine.

The most gifted dancer among them wore border-guard shoulder straps, which were fastened to her bra. She also wore a green uniform beret and used a baton as a prop while performing her sexy routine.

The video was uploaded on Facebook a few days ago and became a huge hit after it was shared by Ukrainian television host, Ruslan Kotsaba. 

“Those fiery and hot border guard servicewomen should stage gay pride parades across Ukraine,” Kotsaba wrote, adding that they would be perfect for the job if they were given more colorful underwear and taught better dance moves. 

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© Aleks Jigurdinski / YouTube

Some users were outraged by the video, decrying the girls’ behavior and even calling the whole affair “Satan’s ball.” Others said that the dancers had “disgraced” the Ukrainian military uniform and called for them to be sacked.

Such criticism was far outweighed by positive comments from people who saw nothing offensive in the footage, and defended the servicewomen. “Border guards are people too… They have the right to relax… Well done… Beautiful girls,” one of the users wrote.
There has so far been no information as to whether the girls faced any disciplinary sanctions from their commanders as a result of the controversial video.

In January, a BDSM-themed video clip shot in a dorm by students of an aviation institute in Ulyanovsk made headlines in Russia. The cadets risked expulsion for the behavior, which the institute’s administration called “shameful.”

But they eventually escaped with a reprimand after other students across Russia supported them, and many people, including the country’s biathlon team, recreated their video and posted it online.

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Swedish squad stunned by Russian volunteer’s impromptu rendition of their national anthem (VIDEO)

A Russian volunteer working at the World Cup stunned the Swedish national players during their practice session in Krasnodar Region by singing the country’s national anthem at the stadium.

While the Scandinavians were warming up for their training session, the volunteer took the microphone to surprise the players with his a capella anthem performance.

The footballers began smiling when they heard their country’s official song interpreted by the Russian man, before giving him a standing ovation.

READ MORE: Japan & Senegal sweeping all before them – on the pitch & in the stands (VIDEO)

Sweden started their World Cup campaign successfully by beating South Korea 1-0 in their tournament opener.

The Vikings will now face off against reigning world champions Germany on June 23, before taking on Mexico on June 27.

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Russia prepares for production of iconic Soviet-era megaplane

Ulyanovsk-based plane maker Aviastar-SP has announced a competition to evaluate its capability to resume production of the An-124 ‘Ruslan’ heavy transport aircraft.

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A Russian military Antonov An-124 transport aircraft flies in formation with fighter jets over Red Square and the Kremlin ©  Natallia Ablazhei

Earlier this month, Russia said it will resume the production of the Antonov An-124 jet, which is still one of the world’s heaviest cargo airplanes.

The Antonov Design Bureau was established in 1946 in the Russian city of Novosibirsk. In 1952, the company was relocated to Kiev and inherited by Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Ukrainian state-owned aircraft maker Antonov has said the construction of the jet without its participation is inadmissible since the company has all the rights and all the documentation for the aircraft.

Russia says it has the rights and the new aircraft will be significantly modified to meet the modern requirements and will likely come under a new brand. Now, Aviastar-SP is seeking a partner to evaluate its capability to rebuild the jet.

Russian officials have said the renewal of An-124 is a feasible task. “If we talk about the resumption of their production, this is an extremely difficult, but solvable task “, said Aleksey Rogozin, Vice-President for Transport Aviation of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).

The Antonov-124 can carry super-heavy and oversized cargo up to 120 tons across 4,500 kilometers at a height of up to 10,000 meters. The jet completed its maiden flight in December 1982 and entered service in January 1986. The aircraft is 36m long and 4.4m high; it can operate under 60°C below zero and 45°C above zero.

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The rebels surrender: Tory Remainers in last minute deal as MPs reject ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit

Tory Remain MPs who had threatened to rebel against the UK govt on the amendment for a ‘meaningful vote’ on the final terms of the Brexit deal have succumbed to late concessions – leading to the govt winning the vote 319 to 303.

In bizarre scenes, even for the House of Commons, the de-facto leader of the Tory Remain ‘rebels’, Dominic Grieve MP for Beaconsfield, used his debating time on the ‘meaningful vote’ to say that he would not be voting for his own amendment, but still insisted it should be put before the house to be voted on. Grieve then voted against his own motion, according to the Labour Whips twitter account. 

“I am prepared to accept the government’s difficulty and in the circumstances to accept the form of amendment it wants,” Grieve told MPs. This was met with sighs of exasperation from opposition Labour Party members who were aiming to defeat the government.

Grieve’s apparent capitulation to his government’s proposals, that says parliament may not get the chance to amend the final deal on Brexit, but the speaker may rule to allow a meaningful vote, has hastened ridicule on social media from political journalists and MPs.

The Daily Mirror’s Kevin Maguire was of the opinion that the so-called ‘rebels’ had conceded to easily to May’s wishes. He tweeted: “Rebels without a backbone as Dominic Grieve waves his white flag and surrenders. Theresa May lives to stumble another day.”

The Liberal Democrats, Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon likened Grieve’s retreat to “the Grand Old Duke of York”. She said: “Looks like he is conceding to the government because of PM’s anxiety over losing the vote. He marched them up to the top of the hill then he marched them down again.”

In a vote the government were determined to win, they were criticised for the lengths they were going to, to claim victory and safeguard, for now, May’s plans for Britain exiting the EU at the end of March 2019. Labour’s Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen spoke of a Labour colleague having to resort to being wheeled through the lobby in a wheelchair to enable them to vote.

She tweeted: “Govt whips refuse to nod through a v poorly @UKLabour colleague in #MeaningfulVote so they’ve had to push them through the lobby in a wheelchair – hard and cruel #NastyParty.”

Not all Tory Remain MPs voted with the government. It’s been reported that Anna Soubry, father of the house, Ken Clarke and the tallest female MP, Antoinette Sandbach all voted for Grieve’s amendment.

The prime minister may have won today’s Brexit battle, but there are many more hurdles for her to tackle. She needs to get several more bills through parliament to achieve the Brexit deal her government seeks.

READ MORE: Grassroots or ‘astroturf’? Who’s really behind the anti-Brexit group ‘Our Future Our Choice

It may be a case of some of her opponents on Brexit, on both sides of the EU debate having simply decided to allow the PM an easy ride for now, but will be prepared to fight their corners on issues such as future trading ties with the bloc before Britain departure in March 2019.

However the Tory rebels’ action today to concede has left a bitter taste in the mouth, particularly for those hoping for a people’s vote on the final terms of a Brexit deal or even a second referendum.

Omar Baggili, RT Journalist

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‘I was stoned’: Syrian denies Berlin belt attack on Jew was anti-Semitic (VIDEO)

A Syrian man in Berlin has apologized to the victim of a suspected anti-Semitic attack as Germany continues its crackdown on resurgent hostility towards Jews in the country.

The 19-year-old asylum seeker was on trial Tuesday after video emerged of him attacking a youth wearing a kippah in an affluent neighbourhood in the German capital in April. He is alleged to have struck his victim ten times with a belt, wounding him in the face, stomach and leg. The defendant, who denied the attack was anti-Semitic, told the Berlin-Tiergarten District Court he was under the influence of ecstacy at the time.

The accused denied allegations that he had been abusing the two men for wearing kippahs, a brimless cap which is customarily worn by Jews. “I hate neither the Jews nor the Christians nor anything else,” he told the court, according to Berliner Zeitung.

READ MORE: Hundreds turn out for kippah-wearing rally in Berlin amid spike in anti-Semitism (PHOTOS)

The Syrian man, who has been in sheltered accommodation for asylum seekers since 2015, claimed he had been stoned and shouting “I curse your Jew” to his friend on the street. Later, he claimed he heard the two victims shout at him from the other side of the road. It was at this point he pulled out his belt and ran at the men.

Testifying at the trial, one of the victims, 21-year-old Israeli national Adam Armoush, denied that they had done anything to incite the attack. “All I can say is that I did not say a word to the defendant before he came to our side of the street,” he said.

In footage of the attack the Syrian man could be heard shouting “Yehudi,” the Arabic word for ‘Jew’ as he swung the belt. Armoush, a veterinary student, told Deutsche Welle in April that the man was one of a gang of three who began shouting at him and a friend.

“One of them got real aggressive and ran to me with his belt,” Armoush told the newspaper at the time of the attack. “At that moment I realized I have to take a video of it. I wanted to have evidence for police and the German people and the world to see how terrible it is these days as a Jew to go through Berlin streets.”

READ MORE: Kippah and the city: German Jews urged to avoid wearing skull caps after Berlin attack

The case caused widespread outrage in Germany. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas took to Twitter to condemn the incident while Chancellor Angela Merkel also denounced the attack. “The fight against such anti-Semitic acts must be won, the reputation of our state is at stake, and we are committed to it with all our strength,” she said.

The accused is Palestinian with a Syrian passport, according to newspaper reports. In 2015, he fled Syria for Germany with his brother. No judgement has yet been made in his case. He has now been returned to custody. The trial will resume on Monday.

The number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin rose some 60 percent to 947 total in 2017, according to the latest figures from the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism (RIAS).

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Record-breaker Ronaldo snatches World Cup win for Portugal on successful return to Luzhniki Stadium

Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the highest scorer for a European international team as he scores the only goal of the game and hand Portugal a 1-0 win in their World Cup Group B game with Morocco in Moscow.

Ronaldo opened the scoring after just four minutes – just as he did against Spain in Sochi – when he met a Joao Moutinho cross and powered a header past Morocco goalkeeper Monir El Kajoui.

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© Francisco LEONG

The landmark goal – his fourth at Russia 2018 – saw Ronaldo become Europe’s all-time leading international scorer on 85 goals, one ahead of Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas. Ronaldo now only has Iran’s Ali Daei ahead of him in the all-time international list on 109.

The goal didn’t silence the Moroccan boo boys in attendance at Luzhniki, and the Portugal skipper also had to deal with attentions of Morocco counterpart Mehdi Benatia, who twice went in late on the striker, escaping with a booking.     

Portugal had had a strong penalty shout on 25 minutes when they adjudged Raphael Guerreiro had dragged down by Noureddine Amrabat in the box. The Portugal defender had tugged at the Moroccan’s shirt, but replays showed Amrabat he was equally culpable.

Morocco manager Herve Renard got a subsequent ticking off for making the ‘TV’ sign to signal the VAR should be consulted, a gesture which FIFA are clamping down on at Russia 2018.     

Morocco almost leveled 10 minutes into the second half, but a fantastic save at full stretch by Rui Patricio denied a header from Younes Belhanda. Morocco enjoyed long spells of possession and continued to press, but failed to find the breakthrough they needed.

Portugal claimed their first World Cup win in Russia and moving to the top of the group on four points from two games. Morocco remain bottom with no points following their opening game defeat to Iran, who meet Spain later on Wednesday in Kazan.

Ronaldo made it a successful return to Luzhniki Stadium, the venue for his 2008 Champions League win with Manchester United a decade ago. The victory may have the Real Madrid winger dreaming of again getting his hands on silverware in Russia. 

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