Boris says Labour MPs speaking to RT is a ‘scandal’ … despite his dad appearing only last month

While Boris Johnson claims it is a “scandal” that Labour MPs are willing to appear on RT, the Tory foreign secretary seems unaware his own father came on the channel just last month. In fact, a lot of Johnson’s Tory colleagues have.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Johnson claimed RT’s news output is “propaganda” and admonished those who have appeared.

“If you study the output of Russia Today, and if you consider the state of the press in Russia at present, it is a scandal that members of the party opposite are continuing to validate and legitimate that kind of propaganda by going on those programs,” Johnson said.

“I’m assured by my ministerial team none of them do so.”

His own father did, though.

Last month, Johnson’s father Stanley Johnson spoke to RT’s Going Underground about his anti-Brexit book, Kompromat, and discussed whether any of the characters were based on his son.

Host Afshin Rattansi and Johnson senior joked about the similarities between a character in his book, Harry Stokes – a bubbly blonde-haired former mayor of London who was “wowing the crowds wherever he went” who becomes foreign secretary – and his son.

Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, responded to Johnson’s remarks.

“It would have been astonishing, had it not been so banal: Boris Johnson is exercising his freedom of speech by bullying his fellow politicians for exercising theirs by speaking on RT,” she said.

A number of Tories have appeared on RT, including Mike Freer, now an assistant government whip, Welsh MP David Davies, who chairs the Welsh affairs select committee, and Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley.

Backbenchers Crispin Blunt, Sir David Amess, Daniel Kawczynski, and Philip Davies have also appeared.

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Iraq plans to build new refinery in seized Kirkuk – oil ministry

Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi has announced plans to construct a new refinery in the oil-producing region of Kirkuk, which has become the scene of open conflict between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

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Iraqi army members advance in military vehicles in Kirkuk, Iraq October 16, 2017 © Reuters

The Iraqi government also plans to increase oil production from the region to more than a million barrels per day with a foreign oil company to be contracted to implement the plan, according to the minister.

Al-Luaibi said all the oil fields in the province are back under government control.

The minister warned Kurdish authorities against blocking the Kirkuk oil export pipeline, saying they would face legal action.

On Monday, Iraqi troops forced their way into the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk with many locals fleeing the battle zone.

The economically important region drove a wedge between Baghdad and the KRG after an independence referendum held by Iraqi Kurds on September 25. Kirkuk was included in the vote, despite competing claims to the disputed area.

Rising tension in the region has kept global crude prices moving upward. West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery was up 0.06 percent to $ 51.93 per barrel at 1:00pm GMT on Tuesday. Brent crude for December gained 0.5 percent to $ 58.09.

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French MEPs shower fully-dressed to draw attention to sanitary plight of Calais migrants (PHOTOS)

Representatives of France’s leading environmentalist party have photographed themselves showering in their clothes to put pressure on the government to provide more clean showers and toilets for unregistered migrants on the country’s northern coast.

“Rather than showers in the European Parliament, I would like to see them in Calais,” said the placards held by MEPs from the Europe Ecology – The Greens party, which has no seats in the national assembly, but is represented in Brussels.

They have also urged supporters to join the campaign by posting pictures of themselves in their own showers on social media.

“We chose this time a humorous mode to raise public awareness and alert the authorities,” the party’s most prominent MEP, Yannick Jadot, told Le Parisien. “It’s a reaction of exasperation to the inhuman living conditions imposed on migrants. France, despite President Macron’s speech about our humanity, is not up to it, it is constantly pointed out.”

The Jungle, a migrant camp on the outskirts of Calais, was demolished a year ago and its inhabitants were rehoused. It had been populated by asylum seekers whose applications had been rejected, or those wishing to cross over to the UK. However, migrants have continued flocking to the area despite the reduced amenities.

“It is worrying that approximately 700 migrants in Calais and the greater area of Calais temporarily rely on only 10 portable lavatories and water from 10 taps,” said Leo Heller, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, in a statement on Monday that prompted the new Green campaign.

“France must ensure a dignified welcome to migrants and respect their rights,” wrote Eva Joly, another member of the Greens on her Twitter, below a picture of herself holding a shower hose.

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Foreign takeovers: Does Britain think Chinese companies threaten its national security?

British companies could receive added protection from foreign takeovers under new government proposals – just months after Theresa May cast doubt on a nuclear-power-station deal with China. The proposals have been presented as being “in the interests of national security.”

May suspended progress on a nuclear-power plant being built in Somerset, in which the Chinese had a central role. China General Nuclear (CGN) agreed to take a 33-percent stake in £18-billion ($ 23.8-billion) Hinkley Point C project, alongside French firm EDF.

However, progress on the project was paused by May in one of her early acts as Prime Minister in order to allow closer examination of the details.

CGN was “delighted” that Theresa May eventually agreed to the partnership, but the new proposals seem to indicate that something got her spooked.

Now, any “key” company facing a foreign takeover will be able to seek government protection.

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Chinese and British flags © Suzanne Plunkett

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the new rules will allow state intervention in the case of businesses that involve “the advanced technology sector,” and companies that “design or manufacture military and dual-use products.”

Although Clark did not mention China by name, the country’s growing pre-eminence in those sectors is widely recognized.

“It is right that every so often the Government reviews its mergers regime to close loopholes where they arise and this is what these proposals do in the area of national security,” Clark said, ahead of a consultation on the plans.

“No part of the economy is off-limits to foreign investment and the UK will continue to be a vociferous advocate for free trade and a magnet for global talent.”

Present rules mean intervention at government level can only take place with mergers involving companies with a UK turnover of more than £70 million ($ 92 million), or where the share of UK supply increases to 25 percent or more.

This rule would be removed under new plans.

The Government has claimed that plans would “close loopholes” and allow for “greater scrutiny of foreign investment in a changing market.”

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© Aly Song

The changes unveiled by Clark on Tuesday would allow ministers to scrutinize investment in businesses with a UK turnover of more than £1 million ($ 1.3 million).

Other proposals in the pipeline would allow ministers to examine transactions that could raise national security concerns. These would include business deals that could potentially increase the risk of espionage.

Stealing secrets for the Chinese is a major worry in the US after a number of high-profile cases.

Recently, a US Navy officer was charged with espionage. Lt. Commander Edward Lin, a US-naturalized man of Taiwanese origin, was originally suspected of leaking secrets involving the US’ secretive, Hawaii-based Special Projects Patrol Squadron to the Chinese or Taiwanese.

The officer allegedly leaked information to an FBI informant over the P-8A program.

Questions have been raised over his contact with Poseidon spy planes and its top-secret technology. This technology could soon be guarding Britain’s northern flank and nuclear-submarine fleet from foreign incursion after a £2 billion ($ 2.6 billion) order from the US.

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France considers massive tax hike on hard liquor

The price of cognac and calvados could increase significantly in France as the government plans a tax increase on strong alcoholic drinks. The measure will be part of a crackdown on beverages that negatively affect health.

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Workers and wine growers light heaters early in the morning, to protect vineyards from frost damage outside Chablis, France © Christian Hartmann

The proposal is part of the government’s new social security budget, which is expected to be presented on Wednesday.

According to French daily Les Echos, the tax increase would affect brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskeys, as well as other spirits, containing more than 15 percent alcohol.

French wine and beer will be exempt from the tax rise as they contain less alcohol. However, some wines like Muscat may fall under the new regime.

If imposed, the measure will pay big dividends for the government. Some estimates suggest it could bring in €150 million.

The tax hike could also be applied to fizzy drinks to fight obesity and diabetes.

The measure was recommended by the UN to reduce the world’s consumption of sugar.

Some call the “soda tax” controversial, with the French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn saying increasing the price of sugary drinks would simply be a “tax on the poor.”

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Headmaster apologizes for gender-neutral toilets that made pupils ‘uncomfortable’

A headmaster at one of Britain’s top schools has been forced to apologize for introducing gender-neutral toilets. Earlier in the year he was criticized for allowing boys to wear skirts as part of their school uniform.

Adam Pettit oversaw the conversion of toilets at Highgate School in North London over the summer holidays, saying it would help students who are “gender fluid or don’t wish to identify themselves with a gender.”

He claimed at the time young people were “pleasingly accepting of and sympathetic to those whose lives are made miserable by the inability of institutions to adapt to their gender-fluidity or their gender-neutrality.”

According to the Daily Mail, however, the move was condemned by parents and pupils at the £20,370-a-year co-educational private day school.

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© Brian Branch Price / Global Look Press

Pettit has now apologized to parents in a letter issued for the half-term break, admitting some pupils felt “less comfortable and happy at school” as a result of the gender-neutral toilets.

He also included a picture of the gender-neutral toilets, and promised a new set of plans for them. He said staff would “test our thinking much more carefully and widely than hitherto.”

“Pastoral care is a top priority, and something of which the school can feel proud of. I’m sorry we have not got this right,” he wrote.

“We will continue to support gender neutral and non-binary pupils. However I have been asked whether the change which has impacted on many pupils is proportionate to the needs of a smaller number.

“I’m sorry on a number of fronts. First that pupils returned in September without having had the opportunity of knowing that this change would take place or to know why it had been introduced.

“Second that parents have had no opportunity to learn about these changes before they were introduced and thus query them.”

Earlier this year, the 1,400-pupil school – which was founded in 1565 – was criticized over plans to introduce a “gender neutral” school uniform, under which boys could be permitted to wear skirts.

Earlier this week, the prestigious Gordon’s School in Woking, Surrey announced it would allow boys to sleep in a girls’ dorm if they question their gender identity.

It will also allow pupils to be known by gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘zie,’ wear school uniforms of the opposite sex, and use gender-neutral toilets.

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Richard Spencer speech prompts state of emergency declaration in Florida

The Governor of Florida Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in Alachua County. The announcement comes ahead of a speech at the University of Florida by prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Spencer – who takes credit for coining the term ‘alt-right’ – is due to appear at the university in Gainesville on Thursday. Scott signed an executive order because he believes that the “threat of a potential emergency is imminent.”

“We live in a country where everyone has the right to voice their opinion,” Scott said in a statement accompanying the seven page executive order. “However, we have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority.”

The order notes that prior speeches by Spencer in several US states “have sparked protests and counter-protests resulting in episodes of violence, civil unrest and multiple arrests.” It gives state agencies the power to suspend rules and regulations, including preventing purchases, travel and certain personnel actions.

Scott said he has been in “constant contact” with Alachua County Sheriff, Sadie Darnell, who requested the executive order to “ensure that county and local law enforcement have every needed resource. We have zero tolerance for violence and public safety is always our number one priority,” the governor added.

READ MORE: Milo Yiannopoulos filmed singing ‘America the Beautiful’ while neo-Nazis salute him (VIDEO)

Spencer has slammed the order on Twitter, retweeting numerous people criticizing it and saying that it could be used to suppress free speech.

Spencer and a group of torch-wielding white nationalists returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month less than eight weeks after the infamous ‘Unite the Right’ rally that ended in one person being killed after a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

The National Policy Institute, the right-wing think tank headed by Spencer, tried to organize an event at the University of Florida on September 12, one month after Charlottesville, however, the request was denied on the basis that it could threaten public safety in Gainesville.

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‘Hated for Jewish roots’: Spanish paper apologizes to English football club for ‘distasteful’ claim

Spain’s best-selling newspaper ‘Marca’ apologized after it caused controversy for claiming Tottenham Hotspur are hated by other teams because of their ‘Jewish roots.’

Marca published a full-page article on London club Tottenham’s history ahead of their Champions League group stage clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday.

A subheading in the story, written by journalist Enrique Ortega, reads: “Their Jewish origins have made them into a club disliked by rival fans,” which the club have called “blatantly wrong and wholly distasteful.”

READ MORE: Bosnian footballers ‘take a knee’ at poor refereeing, concede two goals (VIDEO)

Ortega writes in his piece: “Formed by young people and businessmen from the area of Jewish origins, they have always had to carry the weight of being the club ‘par excellence’ of the Hebrew community.

“Throughout their history, they have been frowned upon by the followers of other London clubs, mainly by their big enemy Arsenal.

“Since its beginnings the club has had an undeniable connection with the Jewish community represented in directors, coaches and players. And the current owner and president, Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy, are Jewish.

“Despite the feeling of being hated they have assimilated Jewish symbols into the stands, especially at their old White Hart Lane stadium where the flags of the Star of David fluttered.”

A Spurs statement in response stated: “We are astonished that a publication such as Marca, which presents itself as an alleged source of professional journalism, has seen fit to publish such an article which is blatantly wrong and wholly distasteful.”

In his article, Ortega goes on to state that Spurs “have even defined themselves, in their songs, as ‘yids,’ the word that their rivals use in a derogatory way to describe them.”

The term ‘Yid’ is a pejorative term traditionally used against a person of Jewish origin and aimed at Tottenham by rival supporters due to the widely held belief that their fan base is largely Jewish.

However, a large portion of Tottenham fans have since taken to self-identifying as such, as a form of counteraction against the discrimination on the terraces.

READ MORE: Russian Cyrillic banner sees Panama through to 1st-ever World Cup & national holiday

Marca issued an apology on Tuesday, citing a mistranslation of the term ‘hated’ as the reason for the offence caused.

“It has generated controversy in England because of a mis-translation of the term ‘hated,’ which also featured in the copy,” a statement released by the newspaper said.

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© Annegret Hilse / Global Look Press

“The ‘hatred’ that Tottenham suffers is very focused on the radical and racist groups that are hiding in society, especially among the fans of Chelsea and West Ham. Obviously, these groups do not represent the English game or society.

“We regret the confusion that has been created in this respect. The intention was not to damage the image of Tottenham – a club we respect, value and admire.”

Ortega’s summation of Tottenham’s history sparked outrage on social media and also showed a catalogue of factual inaccuracies.

The club were in fact founded by members of Hotspur Cricket Club in 1882 with assistance from a Bible class teacher from the local church.

Rivals Chelsea recently appealed to their fans to refrain from singing a song in tribute to striker Alvaro Morata that uses the anti-Semitic word, warning it could result in arrest.

Tottenham play Real Madrid on Tuesday at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in their Group H Champions League tie.

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Bitcoin worse than casino gambling – Russian economy minister

As an investment bitcoin is less predictable than playing roulette in a casino, and unqualified investors shouldn’t have access to instruments with such a high volatility, according to Russian Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin.

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© Manuel Romano / Global Look Press

“As for bitcoin, if you look at how the value of this asset fluctuates, it’s dozens of percent up, then dozens of a percent down. An asset that can be available for an unqualified investor should not have such characteristics because it’s worse than casinos. First, you earn, then you will lose everything and be left with nothing,” Oreshkin said on Tuesday during the session of the World Festival of Youth and Students in Russia’s Sochi.

“Those who do not know how to manage risks in instruments with such volatility, should not be able to invest because in 99.9 percent of cases it results in losses for such people and then they will find themselves in a difficult life situation, which is not good,” Oreshkin added.

The Russian Finance Minister has proposed granting the right to trade bitcoins only to qualified investors. To get the status, you need to have at least six million rubles in your account ($ 100,000), make at least 40 transactions a year with a turnover of six million rubles, or have worked for at least two years in a financial institution that traded securities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed the creation of a national cryptocurrency. The so-called CryptoRuble will be controlled by the government.

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NFL to meet in New York in attempt to solve anthem controversy

The National Football League (NFL) will try to find a way out of the anthem crisis during an owners meeting that will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York City.

The league owners along with players, their union leaders, and club owners will gather in Manhattan to work out a compromise over the kneeling protests that have swept the NFL.

US President Donald Trump openly criticized the ongoing protests, and even called for players who protest to be fired.

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© Scott Cunningham / Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was among the most vocal on the issue, threatening to bench athletes who refused to stand for the anthem.

Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to the league’s 32 teams, in which he said “everyone should stand for the National Anthem” as it is “an important moment in our game.”

“We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us,” Goodell said, NFL.com reported.

However, there was no indication that the league will prohibit players from being engaged in protests on social issues.

Later, Goodell confirmed the league will not force players to stand for the anthem and there will be no policy change regarding the kneeling protests.

NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said on Monday he “anticipated a very productive presentation” at the upcoming owners meeting, where all sides will try to move from protest to progress.

Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched the wave of protests last year, filed a grievance against the NFL on Sunday over alleged collusion not to sign him.

READ MORE: ‘Worse week than Weinstein’: Veteran NFL broadcaster sorry for New York Giants’ form comment

Kaepernick, 29, has remained unemployed since he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March, and has linked his inability to find a new team with his anthem protests.

In September, Nike, one of the NFL sponsors, sent a statement to the media saying they respect the players’ stance on important social issues.

“Nike supports athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society,” the company said.

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