Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Off the rails: Mystery man steals, crashes Moscow train


Why steal a car when you can jack a whole train? A man in the Moscow Region did just that, crashing the locomotive into the nearby carriage of another train and causing destruction on the rails.

The incident happened in the town of Lobnya on Tuesday night, the press service of Moscow Railways told the local media.
RIA Novosti / Alexey Filippov

“An unidentified man penetrated into the train driver’s cab at Lobnya Railway Depot, started driving the train and then disappeared,” the company’s statement said.

The hijacker then lost control of the train and the moving vehicle crashed into another train, according to a preliminary investigation.

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The first carriage of the hijacked train was badly damaged and the train which was ‘rammed’ was derailed and slightly damaged.

“The person then disappeared from the crime scene,” added Moscow Railways.

Nobody was killed or injured in the incident, which didn’t affect train operations.

Transport police are currently searching for the ‘train driver’ with police dogs.

On January 1, 2013, a 30-year-old man decided to hijack a train while intoxicated in the city of Mytishchi, Moscow Region. He crashed into another train carting gasoline. The damage bill ran to more than 2 million rubles ($48 837).
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Vodka 'not a simple solution' - Russian lawmaker


A Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker has prepared a draft law to legally define vodka and detail the production process, distinguishing real Russian vodka from other similar drinks.

MP Sergey Furgal explained the need for the new bill by the fact that most vodka producers today use hydrolysis ethylene instead of spirits naturally distilled from organic products like grain. As a result, the only difference in most vodka brands and styles is the level of purification.

The current Russian national standard on vodka simply describes it as a “clear colorless liquid with a characteristic vodka smell without impurities and admixtures” and does not mention the details of the production process.
Bottles with alcoholic beverages. (RIA Novosti/Alexey Filippov)

“We should introduce a new standard; write into the law precisely what is vodka and what is a simple alcohol solution. If producers choose to call their product vodka it should be made only through natural fermentation and distillation. Liquor produced through hydrolysis must be called “hydrolysis alcohol solution.” “The chemical formula might be the same, but the effect on the human body is completely different,” Furgal said in an interview with mass circulation daily Izvestia.

“I understand that this is a very harsh measure that could deal a blow to our vodka industry. But Russian vodka is a brand. And consumers must understand that ethylene solutions have no relation to vodka whatsoever,” he added.

The head of the Center for Alcohol Market Research Vadim Drobiz doubted the need for Furgal’s proposal saying that all legal vodka production in the country only use natural distilled spirits and regulating illegal enterprises using cheap solutions of hydrolysis products would be useless anyway.

The head of the Sober Russia movement – Sultan Khamzayev commented that the current industry standards were sufficient for customer protection and producers simply have to abstain from violating these standards.

Inquiry into Israeli attacks on UN Gaza schools


The UN has announced the coming start of an investigation into attacks on UN-operated facilities in the Gaza Strip and the use of UN sites to store weapons during Israel’s summer military operation.

Operation Protective Edge, which lasted for 50 days, caused immeasurable damage to the occupied Palestinian Territories. It was the largest offensive by the Jewish state in the West Bank since the year 2000 and received widespread condemnation – including by Western governments who themselves were accused by rights groups of continuing to arm Israel in the first place.
A Palestinian man pictured through a damaged classroom carries a boy as he walks at a United Nations-run school sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli ground offensive, that witnesses said was hit by Israeli shelling, in Jebalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip July 30, 2014. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)

One case in which a UN-run school was hit with shells took the lives of more than a dozen people, wounding scores of others. At the same time, the UN has accused the Palestinian Hamas resistance of using the facilities to store rockets, which it says brought on the shelling.

"I am planning to move forward with an independent board of inquiry to look into the most serious of those cases, as well as instances in which weaponry was found on UN premises," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a Security Council meeting on the Middle East.

No particular details of the inquiry were given – including its participants, but Ban explained that such investigations are standard procedure when “there is damage to UN property or UN premises.”

Meanwhile, UNICEF estimated in late August that at least 219 non-UN schools had been damaged by Israeli airstrikes, while 22 were completely destroyed, not to mention the psychological toll on children.
A Palestinian boy looks on as he stands at a United Nations-run school sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli ground offensive, that witnesses said was hit by Israeli shelling, in Jebalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip July 30, 2014. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

A Palestinian boy looks on as he stands at a United Nations-run school sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli ground offensive, that witnesses said was hit by Israeli shelling, in Jebalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip July 30, 2014. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)A Palestinian boy looks on as he stands at a United Nations-run school sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli ground offensive, that witnesses said was hit by Israeli shelling, in Jebalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip July 30, 2014. (Reuters/Mohammed Salem)

A separate UN Human Rights Council probe was also launched in August to deal with the issue of war crimes committed by both sides. It was labeled a ‘kangaroo court’ by Israel. The panel chosen by the organization is to report its results in March 2015. The UNHRC’s then-chief Navi Pillay said back in July she believed Israel was deliberately defying international law.

Israel itself opened five criminal investigations into actions by the IDF, which included numerous cases of alleged indiscriminate shelling and disproportionate use of force against civilians. Some rights groups remained uncertain that trust could be placed into Israelis investigating their own.

READ MORE: Israel starts investigating alleged Gaza abuses by its own forces

"I look forward to a thorough investigation by the Israeli Defense Forces of this and other incidents in which UN facilities sustained hits and many innocent people were killed," Ban also said.

The operation that started on July 8 took the lives of over 2,200 people, almost entirely Palestinians. It displaced over 108,000 people. An estimated 20,000 homes were destroyed, as the fallout from Protective Edge threatens to take decades to reverse.

Obama admin withholding 2,100 US military torture photos


The Obama administration has blocked the public release of disturbing torture photos out of concern they would endanger US troops. Now, a federal judge is giving the government until December to justify its actions.

The US government has been blocking the release of US military torture photos from Iraq and Afghanistan out of concern they could endanger US troops. Now, a federal judge is giving the government until December to justify its actions.
Iraqi detainees stand behind razor wire at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad May 17, 2004. (Reuters)

READ MORE: Obama on CIA’s post-9/11 tactics: ‘We tortured some folks’

In addition to the disturbing Abu Ghraib photos released in 2004, an estimated 2,100 images of US military personnel torturing and degrading detainees – possibly even more disturbing – may soon be released into the public realm.

Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein has given the US Justice Department until December 12 to defend its rationale for withholding each photograph on an individual basis. Hellerstein will then deliver his ruling on the future fate of the photographs after he conducts a review of the government’s case.

This handout photo from Australia's SBS TV released 15 February, 2006 allegedly shows a prisoner in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib. (AFP Photo/HO/SBS Dateline)This handout photo from Australia's SBS TV released 15 February, 2006 allegedly shows a prisoner in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib. (AFP Photo/HO/SBS Dateline)

This handout photo from Australia's SBS TV released 15 February, 2006 allegedly shows a prisoner in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib. (AFP Photo/HO/SBS Dateline)


In 2009, President Obama denied release of the photographs on the grounds they would “further inflame anti-American opinion and … put our troops in greater danger.” The move by the president was supported by passage of the Protected National Security Documents Act, which gives the Secretary of Defense the power to keep any photographic images classified if it is believed their release would endanger Americans.
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Marcellene Hearn, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said the release of the photographs would shed some light on US military facilities abroad.

This handout photo from SBS TV received 15 February, 2006 shows a hooded prisoner allegedly being tortured at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib jail supposely during interrogation by US soldiers in Baghdad in 2004. (AFP Photo/HO/SBS Dateline)This handout photo from SBS TV received 15 February, 2006 shows a hooded prisoner allegedly being tortured at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib jail supposely during interrogation by US soldiers in Baghdad in 2004. (AFP Photo/HO/SBS Dateline)

“It’s disappointing that the government continues to fight to keep these photographs from the public,” Hearn said after the hearing, as quoted by the Guardian. “The American people deserve to know the truth about what happened in our detention centers abroad. Yet the government is suppressing as many as 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse in Iraq and elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, in a separate case, a Federal District Court earlier this month ordered the release of 28 videotapes reportedly showing the force-feeding of a hunger-striking detainee at Guantánamo Bay detention center, rejecting the government’s assertion that releasing the tapes would risk the lives of troops.
This handout photo from SBS TV received 15 February, 2006 shows a hooded prisoner allegedly being tortured at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib jail supposely during interrogation by US soldiers in Baghdad in 2004. (AFP Photo/HO/SBS Dateline)
READ MORE: Obama considers allowing torture overseas

With the United States military conducting air missions in Iraq and Syria, this time to fight against militants of the Islamic State, there will be much greater incentive to keep the disturbing images classified so as not to inflame anti-American passions even more.

Sweden ready to use force to surface foreign sub as search continues


Swedish Armed forces are ready to use force if they detect any foreign submarine in the waters of the Stockholm Archipelago, the supreme commander general said as the operation in search of the underwater threat entered its fifth day.

"Our aim now is to force whatever it is up to the surface... with armed force, if necessary," Sverker Göranson said, as cited by the Local.
The Swedish corvette HMS Visby is seen in the search for suspected "foreign underwater activity" at Mysingen Bay, Stockholm October 21, 2014. (Reuters/Fredrik Sandberg)

He added that "the most important value of the operation - regardless of whether we find something -- is to send a very clear signal that Sweden and its armed forces are acting and are ready to act when we think this kind of activity is violating our borders.”

According to Göranson, submarines are “extremely difficult” to detect and Sweden has never managed to find them in the past.

Sweden deploys troops near Stockholm due to alleged underwater threat

On Tuesday, reports emerged that one of the ships detected something, but Göranson denied the claim.

The Swedish minesweeper HMS Kullen and a guard boat in Namdo Bay on their fifth day of searching for a suspected foreign vessel in the Stockholm archipelago on October 21, 2014. (AFP Photo/Fredrik Sandberg)The Swedish minesweeper HMS Kullen and a guard boat in Namdo Bay on their fifth day of searching for a suspected foreign vessel in the Stockholm archipelago on October 21, 2014. (AFP Photo/Fredrik Sandberg)

Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper also published unconfirmed reports that there had been more than 100 sightings of a suspect submarine.
The Swedish minesweeper HMS Kullen and a guard boat in Namdo Bay on their fifth day of searching for a suspected foreign vessel in the Stockholm archipelago on October 21, 2014. (AFP Photo/Fredrik Sandberg)

"We're still getting more reports, and I want to underline the fact that we're happy about this," Göranson said, "You mustn't forget that there's a great deal of work to be done with such a flood of reports. We have to analyze and confirm them all."

Admiral Anders Grenstad told a press conference on Tuesday that Sweden’s military detected two sightings which could be evidence of "foreign underwater activity" in the archipelago.

"Today, I can also report that there have been two further observations which were made by members of the public that are interesting enough to require further follow-up work," he said.
Swedish minesweeper HMS Koster patrols the waters of the Stockholm archipelago, October 19, 2014. (Reuters/Marko Saavala)

Swedish minesweeper HMS Koster patrols the waters of the Stockholm archipelago, October 19, 2014. (Reuters/Marko Saavala)Swedish minesweeper HMS Koster patrols the waters of the Stockholm archipelago, October 19, 2014. (Reuters/Marko Saavala)

He didn’t provide any details of the sightings, saying that they are not yet considered credible.

According to Grenstad, the military operation aims to collect intelligence, not “military might.”

"I want to stress again that this is not a U-boat hunting operation which has the aim of bringing down an opponent with military might," he said.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters on Tuesday that Sweden must revise its military capabilities in light of Russia’s increasing military activity in the Baltic Region.

“It's in general what we can see - we also expressed that Swedish defense has to improve its capacity, that is due to what has happened over the years,” he said after meeting with Lithuanian PM Algirdas Butkevičius, reported Lithuanian DELFI news portal.

“Since we've seen the increase of Russian military capacity, we do not regard it as immediate threat to Sweden but we follow what happens in the region. More activities in the Baltic Sea, in the region, so of course we also need to look over and to see what capacity we do need," Löfven added.

‘Anti-Russian Syndrome’
In the first days of mysterious submarine search there were many reports in Swedish media that this sub may be a Russian vessel.

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Moscow denied any failures by Russian military vessels.

“Russian military submarines, as well as surface-craft, are on planned missions in and around the world,” said Russia’s Defense Ministry. “No extraordinary, let alone emergency situations have happened to Russian military vessels.”

The source in Russia’s Defense Ministry said that Dutch ‘Morzh’ (Walrus)-class diesel-electric submarine Bruinvis was in the Baltic Sea last week, not far from Stockholm.

But the Dutch Navy said on Monday the Bruinvis wasn’t near Stockholm at the time the mysterious submarine was spotted.

Aleksey Pushkov, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Russian State Duma, said that the Sweden’s search for mysterious submarine and how this topic was presented in the country’s media showed that the “West has trapped itself in a condition of ‘Anti-Russian Syndrome’.”

They are constantly searching for certain ‘Russian aggression’, “which in reality doesn’t exist,” he said.

Australian teen ISIS adherent vows to fight US, UK until black flags fly over Buckingham Palace, White House


An Australian teenager has appeared in a video saying the Islamic State will keep fighting until there is an Islamic Caliphate established in Britain and the United States.

A new Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) propaganda video purportedly shows Australian teen Abdullah Elmir standing in front of dozens of IS fighters, brandishing weapons and warning the UK and US that the militants will not give up.

“To the leaders, to [US President] Obama, to [Australian PM] Tony Abbott I say this: these weapons that we have, these soldiers, we will not stop fighting, we will not put down our weapons until we reach your lands, until we take the head of every tyrant, and until the black flag is flying high in every single land,” says Elmir.
AFP Photo / Haidar Mohammed Ali

"Until we put the black flag on top of Buckingham Palace, until we put the black flag on top of the White House, we will not stop, and we will keep on fighting,” he adds.

The video is the most recent entry in the ‘Message from Mujahid’ propaganda series released by IS.

Read More: British mother rescues wounded jihadi son from Turkish-Syrian border

Elmir is just 17 years old and comes from Australia. Telling his parents that he was going on a fishing trip, he left the country in June. He was accompanied by a 16-year-old boy, who flew with him to Turkey and then crossed the border into Syria to join IS, according to ABC News. The younger boy’s father intercepted them and took him back to Sydney.

Would-be jihadist Elmir may have been “brainwashed,” a family member told the Daily Telegraph. “I don’t know what these kids get into,” the unnamed relative said. “They don’t know how to fight … they should be getting an education and building this country up.”




Elmir is by no means alone as young IS sympathizer. Three American teenage girls from a Denver suburb stole $2,000 from their parents, skipped school on Friday and flew to Germany. The parents reported the girls missing when the school called to say one of the girls had failed to turn up at her class.

Authorities think the three might have been trying to join Islamic State fighters in Syria. They were arrested at Frankfurt Airport over the weekend by the FBI and returned to Colorado to be reunited with their parents, FBI spokeswoman Suzi Payne told the Associated Press.

Read More: Pregnant Austrian teen who ran off to join ISIS says she 'made a mistake'

A US official said the girls – two sisters, ages 17 and 15, and a 16-year-old friend – were headed toward Turkey en route to Syria. Investigators were reviewing evidence, including the girls’ computers, in the hope that they would discover whether there were “like-minded” friends in their social circle, and whether they had any contacts in Syria.

The US Attorney’s Office in Denver declined to comment on the case, and it is unclear whether the girls will face charges, according to the AP.

Read More: Dutch ISIS sympathizing schoolboy suspended for wanting to 'decapitate Jews'

Another Colorado teen, Shannon Conley, pleaded guilty to charges a month ago that she conspired to help militants in Syria. Conley was arrested in April as she boarded a flight she thought would take her to the Middle East. She told agents she wanted to marry a suitor she met online who said he was a Tunisian man fighting with IS in Syria. If Conley is found guilty, she could face five years in federal prison, and a fine of $250,000.

‘Don’t touch my girlfriend!’ Protective boyfriend warns Obama


An exchange between President Barack Obama and a Chicago voter went in an unexpected direction when a woman’s boyfriend launched a warning over getting too cozy with his fiancé – all of which was captured on video.
US President Barack Obama.(AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

As President Obama cast his midterm ballot in Chicago on Monday, a protective boyfriend named Mike casually told him not flirt with his fiancée, who was casting her ballot next to the President. The exchange was captured on video by CNN affiliate WLS-TV.

In the video, we hear the voice of Mike say, off camera, “Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend.”

Obama responded with his head down, saying, “You know, I really wasn’t planning on it.”

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