Trump’s ‘fake news awards’ condemned by Republicans, fodder for comedians

President Donald Trump promised to hand out “fake news awards” for the “most corrupt and biased” media on Wednesday. The White House has been light on the details, but the event has drawn both criticism and ridicule.

“The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!” Trump tweeted on January 7.

The White House has yet to release details on who the nominees are, where the ceremony will happen or what kinds of awards will be handed out by the president.

The president’s support base shares his view that the media is waging a partisan battle against the administration, but the prospect of the awards has fueled criticism from Republicans like Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake over Trump’s adversarial treatment of the media.

Arizona Senator John McCain wrote a Washington Post op-ed, mentioning efforts against the White House press corp in the context of press-stifling efforts worldwide.

“Reporters around the world face intimidation, threats of violence, harassment, persecution and sometimes even death as governments resort to brutal censorship to silence the truth,” McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote in his op-ed, published Tuesday night.

Senator McCain cited statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists that 262 reporters were jailed last year over their work, making 2017 one of the most dangerous years on records for journalists worldwide. McCain also noted that 21 reporters were imprisoned last year on charges of “fake news” – the phrase frequently used by Trump to dispute reporting critical of his administration.

On Sunday, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake discussed pre-released segments of a speech he is due to give on Wednesday in which he will criticize the Trump administration. In an interview on MSNBC, Flake said Trump’s hostility to the media as an “enemy of the people” was a phrase “infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies.”

Flake said Trump’s attack on the news media damaged the country’s standing in the world and empowered dictators everywhere.

Speaking from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Flake said: “It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle.”

On Tuesday night, US comedians used the prospect of the awards to ridicule the president.

On NBC, late-night host Jimmy Fallon staged a scene “live from the Trump Hotel” in the US capital for The Fake News Awards, hosted by Fallon dressed as the president.

Fallon’s Trump announced the recipient of his custom statuettes, which resembled an Oscar trophy with the president’s head

“Covered in real fake gold and made in ‘Gina’” the mock Trump announced while holding the award. “My first fakey is for the fakest news network.  And the nominee is CNN, and the winner is, who would have seen this coming…CNN.”

Over on CBS, Stephen Colbert decided he wanted to present “even fakier awards than President Trump has awarded himself.”

Honors included “the greatest jobs president that God ever created” and “the best thing that ever happened to the Secret Service.”

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‘73% foreign born’: DHS terrorism report criticized for excluding domestic US attackers

The majority of people convicted of international terrorism-related offences in the US since the September 11 attacks have been “foreign-born”, according to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security.

The report, part of an executive order that sought to tighten entry criteria into the US, states that 73 percent of 549 people found guilty of international terrorism offences in federal courts were from overseas.

Released by the US Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday, the report’s statistics span more than 15 years, between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016.

READ MORE: Trump to sign ‘brand new’ immigration executive order, not appeal to SCOTUS

However, the new report has come in for criticism for some key omissions, with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) branding it a tool designed to deliberately cause alarm. According to the full text, domestic terrorism is not taken into account, while the statistics include foreign individuals transported to the US to face international terrorism charges.

Manar Waheed, ACLU counsel, told that the US government has resorted to “fear-mongering” regarding immigration policy.

“Facing a ticking clock on the future of DACA and backlash over its position on the diversity lottery… this government has resorted to its go-to tool: fear-mongering,” Waheed said.

“The report lumps US citizens and non-citizens together as ‘foreign-born’. It ignores domestic terrorism, focusing only on international terrorism. And it includes statistics relating to crimes that occurred wholly overseas, even though the report was supposed to be about the US.”

US President Donald Trump tweeted the report “shows that nearly 3 in 4 individuals convicted of terrorism-related charges are foreign-born.” He said a list of “resources and reforms” have been submitted to Congress, indicating that the US needs to move away from a lottery immigration system to a merit-based one.

Alex Nowrasteh, immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, described the report as “misleading.”

“By focusing exclusively on international terrorism-related charges, this report intentionally ignores domestic terrorists unaffiliated with international terrorists,” he wrote. “Thus, the results of the DHS/DOJ report are, at best, a snapshot of the international subset of terrorism that ignores the purely domestic variety.”

READ MORE: Trump retweets string of violent anti-Muslim videos shared by far-right Britain First leader

He added: “The DHS/DOJ report ignores the most important statistic: how many people were actually killed by these terrorists on U.S. soil.”

A number of journalists have also highlighted their concerns with the government analysis.

The DOJ and DHS report also reveals that 1,716 foreign individuals were removed from the US because of “national security concerns” over the same period of time.

Between October 2011 and September 2017, some 372,098 non-US citizens offenders were removed from the United States after an aggravated felony, according to the international terrorism statistics.

“This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality – our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a statement.

“Our law enforcement professionals do amazing work, but it is simply not reasonable to keep asking them to risk their lives to enforce the law while we admit thousands every year without sufficient knowledge about their backgrounds.

READ MORE: Trump criticizes US visa system, pushes ‘merit-based’ program after NYC attack

“The pillars of President Trump’s immigration policy – securing our porous borders, moving to a merit-based immigration system that ends the use of diversity visas and chain migration, and enforcing our nation’s laws – will make their jobs easier and make the United States a safer place,” he added.

Under Executive Order 13780, the Trump administration placed a temporary pause on the admission of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

The order replaced a January 2017 ‘travel ban’ restricting entry for individuals from seven Muslim-majority nations and prevented Syrian refugees from coming to the US indefinitely. Trump later described the amended travel restrictions as “watered down” and “politically correct.”

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Black cab rapist’s victims launch crowdfunding campaign to keep him behind bars

Victims of prolific Black cab rapist John Worboys are petitioning to have him kept behind bars. They want to know why the parole board released him so they can challenge the decision.

Warboys – who is believed to have sexually assaulted over 100 women – was convicted of 19 offences in 2009. The 60-year-old was ordered to serve at least eight years in jail, and was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), which meant that he could be kept in prison indefinitely so long as he was deemed to be a danger to the public.

In November, the Parole Board approved Worboys’ release in a secretive hearing that outlined “stringent” conditions such as having to report to probation staff every week. Worboys, who offered his victims champagne laced with drugs under the guise of a big casino/lottery win prior to assaulting them, is banned from contacting any of his past victims.

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Now, one of Worboys’ earliest known victims and his 75th victim want answers. The Centre for Women’s Justice is fundraising to mount a legal challenge on behalf of the two women, known respectively as DSD and NBV for privacy reasons, to ensure Worboys remains behind bars.

To fight Worboys’ release, his victims need to find out why the serial rapist and former porn star was granted parole in the first place. With laws preventing disclosure, finding out the reasons behind the Parole Board’s decision will require a legal challenge of substantial cost.

The fundraising goal is currently set at £10,000 ($ 13,800) to cover legal fees and damages in case they lose the challenge.

According to the Centre for Women’s Justice, neither of the women was consulted during the parole process. Both victims found out about Worboys’ approved release through the media.

NBV said: “I can’t watch the news or read the papers.  My heart freezes when I hear his name.  

“Seeing his face makes me feel unwell.  He’s ruining my life all over again.”

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© Murray Sanders / Global Look Press

DSD said she has been in a state of “complete shock and panic” since hearing the news. “In 2003 when I reported to them I had been raped I was told, ‘a black cab driver just wouldn’t do it,’” she said.

“I said at the time if they didn’t find him he would do it again. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would go on to do it again another 100 times that we know of. Unfortunately, I do not share their confidence and I am convinced he will reoffend.

“How can a prolific sex offender be rehabilitated in a short space of time when he has never admitted to his guilt or shown any remorse,” DSD added.

Home Affairs Select Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper has previously called for the Parole Board to publish its reasons for allowing Worboys’ release.

Cooper said Worboys’ crimes were “the most appalling and vile” and there were “serious questions” over the decision to release him. She also said she was “shocked” by the decision and called for scrutiny of the board’s decision before the violent and dangerous sex attacker is let out of prison.

Director of the Centre for Women’s Justice and solicitor Harriet Wistrich said: “This will be an unprecedented legal challenge. Where a decision appears to be so irrational, as it does in this case given all the known facts, there is an arguable basis to challenge the rules preventing publication of reasons.

“If we get access to the reasons then we can explore grounds for challenging a decision which is so insulting and horrific for all the victims concerned.”

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Bitcoin crashes below $10,000, losing over half its value since last month’s record

The world’s most valuable cryptocurrency, bitcoin, has lost over half its value since it smashed the $ 20,000 barrier in mid-December. The price of the cryptocurrency dropped to $ 9,555 at 15:00 GMT on Wednesday.

“The cryptocurrency market is experiencing a serious attack from speculators,” Gleb Zadoya, head of analytics at Analitika Online said in email comments to RT.

“The reason for the sell-off are reports on the strengthening of regulation by the Chinese and South Korean authorities. After that, the exchange rate of many cryptocurrencies fell below important psychological levels.”

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© Edgar Su

On Tuesday, an official from the People’s Bank of China said the country’s centralized virtual currency trade needs to end, Reuters reported.

National and local authorities should ban venues that provide centralized trading of virtual currencies, including the largest one, bitcoin, PBOC Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng was quoted as saying.

“The financial work conference clearly called for limiting ‘innovations’ that deviate from the need of the real economy and escape regulation,” Pan said, according to a memo quoted by Reuters.

There have been reports that an increasing number of people were taking out mortgages to invest in bitcoin when it peaked at $ 20,000.

The collective market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies has dropped by more than $ 200 billion since Tuesday.

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Yabloko founder Yavlinsky gathers enough signatures to face Putin in presidential race – activists

Activists from the opposition Yabloko party said they have gathered more than the required 100,000 signatures for veteran politician Grigory Yavlinsky to be registered as a candidate in the March 18 Russian presidential election.

The party has collected 105,000 signatures in support of Yavlinsky and isn’t planning to stop at that, Nikolay Rybakov, campaign head, told RBC. “Yabloko plans to gather 150,000 signatures and – after checking them through the Interior Ministry’s database – submit 105,000 sheets to the Central Election Commission,” he said.

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A campaign poster in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Novosibirsk.    © Alexandr Kryazhev

According to Russian law, candidates from non-parliamentary parties have to provide 100,000 signatures to be registered in the election. The presidential hopefuls have until January 31 to submit their papers to the Central Election Commission.

Yavlinsky, who founded Yabloko back in 1993, told RBC that he estimated his chances of being registered as candidate at “fifty-fifty.” The 65-year-old took part in two presidential elections, in 1996 and 2000, but was disqualified from the race in 2012 after providing defective signatures.

If the opposition veteran’s participation in the vote is approved, he will become the third registered candidate in the 2018 election after the Communist Party’s Pavel Grudinin and Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky. President Vladimir Putin, running for office as an independent, has already collected over 1 million signatures, although they are yet to be submitted.

Yavlinsky said that during his campaign he will “categorically deny” Putin’s policies, which “led to isolation, stagnation of the economy and growing poverty, [and] deprived the citizens of any kind of rights.”

READ MORE: Farm magnate Grudinin closes all foreign bank accounts ahead of Russia’s presidential election

According to the Yabloko founder, even if he isn’t allowed to participate in the election, he won’t support the calls for boycott of the March 18 vote, led by opposition activist Aleksey Navalny. The opposition figure was denied registration as candidate over an unserved suspended prison sentence. The move would be futile as there’s no minimum voter turnout threshold in the Russian presidential election, Yavlinsky explained.

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‘We will not be blackmailed’: MEP demands May fight Macron on migrants & money (VIDEO)

French President Emmanuel Macron should be scrambling for ways to ensure a free trade deal with Britain instead of attempting to blackmail the UK into coming up with a deal for migrants and demanding money, an MEP says.

In an interview with RT, Janice Atkinson MEP blasted Macron, who is rumored to be coming up with a plan to back his UK counterpart, Theresa May into a corner.

Macron will offer the UK support for a free trade deal when Britain breaks from the EU – if the UK takes illegal migrants from France and pays to bolster border security at the UK border in northern France.

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President Macron is preparing to do battle with Theresa May over Britain's border © Reuters/ Benoit Tassier

May, however, is being urged not to break under the pressure from France – a nation which “needs” a trade deal with Britain – at the Anglo-French summit at Sandhurst on Thursday.

Atkinson, who switched from UKIP to Europe of Nations and Freedoms (ENF) group, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Macron should not be able to bully the UK.
“May should be saying to President Macron that there is no deal about Calais, we will not be taking a single migrant,” Atkinson said.

“Eighty percent of those fit, young men that have been camping over the Calais jungle have traipsed through the Schengen area, the open border system and they have marched through to Calais, and they have not been stopped by successive governments in France, including Mr. Macron.

“We will not be blackmailed by Mr. Macron – and by his mate Mutti Merkel – you need a free trade deal with us so don’t try and blackmail us that we can’t have a free trade deal with you. If you want one that’s fine, but we’re not taking a single migrant. And all those migrants, and they talk about child migrants as well, those child migrants have been people-trafficked by their families who have paid an awful lot of money to get them to Calais.”

The MEP who claims to have visited Calais migrant hotspots “the most” of all EU politicians, said she has met with “economic” migrants there – not refugees – who should be deported.

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Emmanuel Macron will demand Britain pay more for border - reports © Reuters/ Francois Lenoir

Atkinson also claimed the UK should be tougher on migrants.

“I would suggest now Syria and Afghanistan is safe, we reprocess those children and we send them back to their families,” she said.

“You can do that Mr. Macron, because under French law they have committed crimes, night after night they are trying to break into lorries, ferries and the Channel tunnel to get into my country, so therefore they’ve committed a crime, so you can arrest and deport. That’s my message to Mr. Macron.

“You’re telling us we can’t have an a la carte deal, a free trade deal with the European Union, what I’m saying to you is migrants can’t have an a la carte deal to pick and choose the countries that they want to live in either.”

Atkinson said what “should be” discussed between the leaders is a nuclear deal with Iran, and “the mutual benefits of trade.”

She also suggested Macron gives May tips on diplomacy so the UK can “roll out the red carpet” for US President Donald Trump.

However, Atkinson said Macron is an avid Europhile who wants a “United states of Europe.”

“Until he can control his own borders, and abandon Schengen he isn’t serious about immigration,” she said.

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Online gold coin sales soar 400% as cryptocurrencies plunge

Amidst a huge sell-off on the cryptocurrency market demand for gold coins is picking up. Sales jumped fivefold on Tuesday at one of Europe’s largest online dealers.

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According to CoinInvest Director Daniel Marburger, the company sold almost 30kg of gold, worth $ 1.2 million in the spot market.

It “was a hell of a crazy day,” Marburger told Bloomberg, adding that “emails and phones did not stand still with customers asking how they could turn their crypto into gold.”

He said that one bitcoin currently buys about eight one-ounce Britannia gold coins. Physical gold bullion holds attraction for bitcoin investors because the assets have much in common, explained Marburger.

“Both are limited in quantity, easy to trade and you can store them decentralized,” he said. “The advantage for gold – no passwords you can lose, the volatility is much lower, sustainable growth and in the end you can hold your investment in your hands.”

Bitcoin, the world’s major cryptocurrency, has lost more than half of its value in the last month, trading down more than 20 percent on Wednesday, at $ 9,724. Other top virtual currencies, including ripple, ethereum, and bitcoin cash also suffered significant losses. The cryptomarket freefall followed reports of tighter policy measures from regulators in China, Brazil, and India.

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Meals on wheels: FedEx truck slams into hotel restaurant, injures 3 (PHOTOS)

Restaurant patrons got far more than they bargained for when a FedEx cargo truck came hurtling through the eatery’s window at dinner time Tuesday.

Diners at the Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel at 9620 Airport Blvd. were enjoying some tasty cuisine when the crash happened. A total of three people, including the truck driver, his passenger and a third person, were injured in the crash.

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The driver declined to be removed by ambulance but two others were taken to hospital for evaluation by the Los Angeles Fire Department.

READ MORE: Speeding car takes flight, plows into 2nd floor of office building (PHOTOS)

Los Angeles Police are investigating the incident.  

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Russia scolds UK's 'PR exercise' for claiming it’s an ‘aggressor’ after jets scrambled

Russia has rebuked Britain for casting it as an aggressor after RAF jets were scrambled to “intercept” Russian bombers. Theresa May is more concerned with PR than dealing with real threats, the Russia’s UK embassy added.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) said it scrambled two fighter jets on Monday to intercept Russian planes near UK airspace. It claimed it was the latest incident where British forces had been deployed because of concern over a Russian military incursion.

A spokesperson for the Russian embassy in London said that such statements from Britain were part of a public-relations exercise aimed at undermining Russia’s image. “We consider these and similar statements as a PR exercise, meant to demonstrate some assumed ‘aggressiveness’ from Russia, as well as panache of certain British politicians,” he said.

“Russian planes carry out the routine flights in international airspace over the North, Barents and Norwegian seas. This doesn’t sound scary or, in fact, interesting to the public.

“But with some creativity and juggling of words, the story sounds quite different. The MoD speaks of the RAF having ‘intercepted’ Russian planes in the British ‘areas of interest,’ ‘our skies,’ and similar. Yet no incursion into UK airspace has ever taken place, and no Russian plane has been forced to land or even change its course.

“This imitation game, in the pattern of PM Theresa May’s speech at the lord mayor’s banquet, is about showing off vigilance rather than dealing with real threats,” added the spokesperson.

At the banquet last November, the prime minister accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media. She said it was “threatening the international order on which we all depend.”

READ MORE: Dramatic moment RAF fighter jets intercept Russian bombers over North Sea (VIDEO)

As the UK government released a video of the scrambling incident, Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said that threats facing the UK were “intensifying.” He added: “We will not hesitate in defending our skies from acts of aggression.”

The Typhoons took off from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland on Monday morning to tackle the alleged encroachment. They set off as soon as the Russian Blackjacks were seen approaching an area within 50 miles of the UK. They picked up the Blackjacks around 30 miles from UK sovereign airspace.

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Human rights violations myths aimed at dividing Chechen society – Kadyrov

The myths about alleged human rights violations in Chechnya are being spread to destabilize the region and weaken Russia, according to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who is currently under US sanctions.

“We have nothing to hide,” Kadyrov said during a meeting with Chechen security officials on Wednesday. “And our enemies understand this perfectly and come up with all kinds of myths about human rights violations in our republic,” the Chechen leader added, as cited by Izvestia newspaper.

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Those behind the claims are trying to divide Chechen society and instill the idea of solving problems through violence in the minds of the people, he said. Despite the Russian Republic of Chechnya being almost invisible on the map, it is always in the spotlight of the Western media, the Chechen leader added.

According to Kadyrov, the accusations of human rights violations in Chechnya are “pulled from a hat” and aimed at creating chaos in the republic and weakening Russia. Chechnya is currently a trouble-free, safe and prosperous region of Russia where special attention is being paid to the issue of human rights, he said.

In late January, the US accused Kadyrov of involvement in extrajudicial killings, torture and other gross violations of human rights, placing the Chechen leader on the sanctions list under the Magnitsky Act.

The act allows the US to withhold visas and freeze financial assets of Russian individuals and companies over alleged human rights violations. The legislation, introduced by Congress in 2012, was named after Russian auditor Sergey Magnitsky, who died in a pre-trial detention center while under investigation for major tax fraud.

Kadyrov’s blacklisting came shortly after he harshly criticized Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, saying that the “crude” move may see Israel become involved in a “large-scale war.” The Chechen head himself insisted he was sanctioned not because of alleged human rights abuses, but rather due to his relentless lifelong fight against terrorists, many of whom were “fosterlings of the American special services.”

READ MORE: Chechen authorities deny media report on ‘mass detentions’ of gays

Following the introduction of sanctions, Kadyrov’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were blocked. The Chechen leader is well known in Russia and beyond for his sometimes controversial social media posts, and had several million followers.

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