Unsurprisingly, Putin has won Russia’s presidential election and will serve another 6-year term as president

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a rally to support his bid in the upcoming presidential election at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia March 3, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

  • After a campaign without any serious political challengers to his hegemony, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been re-elected president of Russia for a fourth term.
  • He will serve for at least another 6 years.
  • Behind Putin, a Communist Party challenger took second place, a nationalist took third, and anti-Putin liberal and socialite Ksenia Sobchak took fourth.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – An exit poll showed Vladimir Putin won Russia’s presidential election held on Sunday with 73.9 percent of the vote.

The voting projection, by pollster VTsIOM, put Communist party challenger Pavel Grudinin in second place with 11.2 percent.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, head of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, was on 6.7 pct, and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak had 2.5 percent, the exit poll showed.

(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk, Andrew Osborn and Katya Golubkova, Writing by Maria Kiselyova, editing by Christian Lowe)


He’s 16 and he’s gigantic: Meet world’s tallest teenager

A British boy, who stands at 7 feet and 4 inches, is making headlines as the tallest teenager in the world, according to SWNS.

Brandon Marshall is 16 years old and is still growing.

“People stop him, asking for photos with him,” his mother, Lynne Quelch, told the news service.
Quelch said her son, who loves basketball and plays for the Wales National Team, is shy and introverted.

“When people notice his height, he says ‘Oh, here we go again, yes I am tall, yes I am Britain’s tallest teenager’,” the 49-year-old mother said.

Brandon shot up 5 inches from last year, when he was 6 feet 11 inches tall. “I was normal size up until the age of 9,” he explained. “I then had a big growth spurt. I was about 6 feet when I was about 13 [years old] and I started to grow a lot more by then.”

“When I was in year nine [at school] I got to 6 feet, 7 inches; and in year 10, I got to 7 feet.”

Brandon, who trains three times a week with the team, is getting ready to play his first professional tournament in Lithuania.
The 7-feet-4-inch teen has been able to slam dunk since the age of 13.

His mother said, “All the good colleges that have good basketball academies attached to them are all fighting over him as to who will get him. He absolutely loves it.”

His height, however, can sometimes pose a problem, “He does tend to struggle with roofs, ceilings, doorways — just everything normal-size people take for granted,” his mom shared.

She added, “He has got a super king bed at the moment, but we are having one made for him.”
Because of his size, Brandon consumes 8,000 calories a day, and Quelch said she is “constantly shopping to keep the fridge stocked.”

Doctors in England are trying to learn more about the teenager’s height. He tested negative for Marfan syndrome ꟷ a genetic disorder of connective issues ꟷ but a genetics team is still investigating why the 16-year-old is reaching such dramatic heights.

Brandon is just 3 inches shorter than 7-feet-7-inch Paul Sturgess from the U.K., who currently holds the title for Britain’s tallest man. The American Robert Pershing Wadlow, who is 8 feet, 11 inches tall, has the title for the world’s tallest man.


Two stowaways hid in a plane’s landing gear — and fell to their death during takeoff

On Monday, three objects tumbled from a plane leaving Ecuador for New York, falling nearly 1,000 feet shortly after takeoff and landing with a thud on the runway.

Airport personnel rushed to the site, fearing LATAM Airlines flight XL1438 lost vital parts before leaving the port city of Guayaquil.

They arrived to find one person dead from the fall and another badly injured but alive. He would die minutes later, local media outlets reported. A suitcase with clothes and about $20 also was found.

The two men appear to have crawled into the landing gear section of the plane, said Gen. Marcelo Tobar, Guayaquil’s police chief. He speculated they were either forced out by the mechanics of the gears or they had second thoughts and jumped in the hope they would survive, according to Ecuador-based El Comercio. The men, between the ages of 25 and 30, did not have identification.

Officials suggested the men were Peruvian because the flight originated in Lima with a stop in Guayaquil, but they later determined the stowaways likely climbed aboard in Ecuador, El Comercio reported.


Pope Francis with president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse

The president of Haiti, Jovenel Moïse, met with the Holy Father in the Apostolic Palace.

The two discussed the country’s main social problems, especially poverty. Haiti has yet to recover from natural disasters like a 2010 earthquake or Hurrican Matthew in 2016.

Social crisis is coupled with a political one. Jovenel Moïse was elected president in February 2017 following a year and a half of electoral chaos.

Haiti was one of the countries mentioned by Donald Trump in his controversial statements on immigrants who arrive in the U.S.

The president presented Pope Francis with this image. In addition to his three main documents, the pope also gave Moïse a medal with a message of hope – the desert will become a garden.

“This is my wish for your country.”

A reserved individual, 49-year-old Jovenel Moïse owned a fruit business before beginning his political career.



Emmerson Mnangagwa sworn in as new leader of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed sweeping change at his swearing in on Friday, seeking to reassure foreign investors and pledging to fight poverty and corruption after Robert Mugabe’s shock resignation.

In his inaugural address, Mnangagwa set out a program of dramatic change that promised a stark reversal of many of Mugabe’s signature policies.

He pledged that his government would compensate white farmers whose land was seized by Mugabe, protect international investments in the country, and re-engage with foreign powers.

Elections scheduled for 2018 would go ahead as planned, he said.

“I humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones,” he said at the ceremony in the 60,000-seat national stadium in Harare, which was packed to capacity.

“We must work together — you, me, all of us who make this nation.

“I stand here today, to say that our country is ready for a sturdy re-engagement program with all the nations of the world,” he said.

After reciting the oath of office, the 75-year-old leader was given a ceremonial chain and sash of office flanked by his wife Auxilia, receiving salutes and pledges of allegiance from the country’s military and security chiefs.

Mnangagwa also used his speech to pay tribute to Mugabe, describing him as one of the “founding fathers of our nation”. (AFP)


How A Dating App In India Is Helping Disabled People To Find Their Love Match

Inclov, which has created opportunities for India’s 26.8 million disabled people to strike up relationships, has helped 6000 people to meet their spouses.

Launched in 2016, Inclov, which has around 19,000 registered app users, also organizes offline meetup.

Online dating is a common route for many to meet new people, one of whom, you hope, will be your potential partner. But when you’re disabled, forming a romantic relationship online can be one of the hardest things, especially in India, where discrimination and stigma make them among the most excluded.

Opening up possibilities for India’s 26.8 million disabled people, of whom over 40% never marry according to 2011 census, led Kalyani Khona and Shankar Srinivasan to launch Inclov — the world’s first matchmaking mobile app for people with disabilities and health disorders.

“I was disheartened by the general attitude of people in matrimonial portals towards those with physical impairment or disability,” says Khona.

Since many disabled people fear being judged on regular dating websites,  Khona says the option of a matchmaking app offering them the chance to meet others facing a similar challenge is welcome. “There are many dating apps in the market but Inclov is a truly inclusive platform to find love. We even have people without any disabilities.”

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Japan is building the fastest supercomputer in the world

Japan is aiming to regain the edge in technology innovation which it lost to China and South Korea, by building the world’s fastest computer.

The Japanese government is to spend 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) on creating the fastest supercomputer known to man with a 130 petaflops processing power that would propel the country into a new technological era.

Currently China’s Sunway TaihuLight holds the record with 93 petaflops capacity, churning calculations at the rate of 93 quadrillion per second.

Engineering and Technology reports:

The computer, to be capable of 130 quadrillion calculations per second, will be available for a fee to Japanese companies developing driverless cars, robots, medical diagnostics and other systems.

“As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast,” said Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, where the computer will be based.

The currently fastest supercomputer in the world is China’s Sunway Taihulight, which is used for weather forecasting, pharmaceutical research and industrial design, but is only capable of 93 quadrillion calculations per second.

The fastest supercomputer ever built in Japan, the Oakforest-PACS developed by Fujistsu, is only capable of 13.6 petaflops.

The new machine, dubbed ABCI for Artificial Intelligence Bridging Cloud Infrastructure, will be completed by the end of 2017. It will provide Japanese innovators with a domestic capability to perform complex analyses involving massive amounts of data. Japan also hopes to advance in the field of artificial intelligence and deep learning, which mimics processes in the human brain to develop smart computer systems.

The technology will help create better algorithms for self-driving cars, capable of analysing large amounts of visual traffic data, and optimise factory automation.

Japanese companies can bid for the project until 8 December.


Theresa May to advise tech firms over apprehension content

Technology companies must go “further and faster” in removing extremist content, Prime Minister Theresa May is to tell the United Nations.

She will urge social networks and search engines to act when she addresses the general assembly.

Mrs May will also host a meeting with other world leaders and firms including Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter.

Separately, tech giant Google has said it will give a total of £1m to fund counter-terrorism projects in the UK.

  • Google launches UK ‘anti-terror fund’
  • Politicians take on the internet over extremism

The prime minister has repeatedly called for an end to the “safe spaces” she says terrorists enjoy online.

Ministers have called for limits to end-to-end encryption, which stops messages being read by third parties if they are intercepted, and measures to curb the spread of material on social media.

On Wednesday, the prime minister will hail progress made by tech companies since the establishment in June of an industry forum to counter terrorism.

But she will urge them to go “further and faster” in developing artificial intelligence solutions to automatically reduce the period in which terror propaganda remains available, and eventually prevent it appearing at all.

The UK, France and Italy are to call for a target of one to two hours to take down terrorist content wherever it appears.

‘Best brains in the world’

Internet companies will be given a month to show they are taking the problem seriously, with ministers at a G7 meeting on 20 October due to decide whether enough progress has been made.

A Downing Street source said: “These companies have some of the best brains in the world.

“They should really be focusing on what matters, which is stopping the spread of terrorism and violence.”

Technology companies defended their handling of extremist content after criticism from ministers following the London Bridge terror attack in June.

Google said it had already spent hundreds of millions of pounds on tackling the problem.

Facebook and Twitter said they were working hard to rid their networks of terrorist activity and support.

YouTube told the BBC that it received 200,000 reports of inappropriate content a day, but managed to review 98% of them within 24 hours.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Mrs May will say terrorists will never win, but that “defiance alone is not enough”.

“Ultimately it is not just the terrorists themselves who we need to defeat. It is the extremist ideologies that fuel them. It is the ideologies that preach hatred, sow division and undermine our common humanity,” she will say.


Google said the UK counter-terrorism fund was part of a $5m global commitment.

The search giant has faced criticism about how it is addressing such content, particularly on YouTube.

The funding will be handed out in partnership with UK-based counter-extremist organization the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).

An independent advisory board will be accepting the first round of applications in November, with grants of between £2,000 and £200,000 awarded to successful proposals.

ISD chief executive Sasha Havlicek said: “We are eager to work with a wide range of innovators on developing their ideas in the coming months.”

A spokesman for the Global Internet Forum to Combat Terrorism, which is formed of tech companies, said combating the spread of extremist material online required responses from government, civil society and the private sector.

“Together, we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that our platforms are not used to distribute terrorist content,” said the spokesman.

Mrs May’s appearance at the UN comes days before she is due to give a major speech on Brexit – a subject that led to repeated questions from journalists on her visit.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was accused of undermining her plans by writing a 4,000-word newspaper article setting out his own vision for Brexit.

Speaking to the Guardian, Mr Johnson said he was “mystified” by the row his article had prompted, saying he had “contributed a small article to the pages of the Telegraph” because critics had been saying he was not speaking up about Brexit.


Russia Accuses U.S. of working with Al-Qaeda Affiliate

Russia’s military has accused U.S. intelligence of ordering militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda to attack government forces in order to divert their attention from a battle they are fighting against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS). Bashar AL-Assad’s regime is battling ISIS in Deir Ezzor, once a stronghold of Islamist extremists.

Since officially entering the Syrian conflict to support Assad’s faltering regime in late 2015, Russia has repeatedly said it is fighting “terrorism,” though its broad definition of the term includes no explicit list of organization. Instead, the groups they consider “terrorists” are frequently groups supported by Western forces, and are determined via the judgment of Assad’s forces, by the Kremlin’s own admission.

The U.S. initially provided logistical support for moderate anti-Assad rebels; however, the fracturing of factions in the conflict means that in recent years U.S. equipment has ended up in the hands of disparate Islamist groups. The U.S. military’s most direct participation in the conflict is airstrikes targeting ISIS. However, in November 2016 the White House ordered U.S. forces to also target Al-Nusra, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

But on Wednesday Russian military accused U.S. forces of cooperating with that very group in order to obstruct the assault on Deir Ezzor.

“According to information we have the advance in question was instigated by American special services in order to halt the successful movement of government troops, to the east of Deir Ezzor,” Sergei Rudskoy, head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian armed force’s general staff said, according to state news agency Itar-Tass. He did not elaborate on what specific function he believed the U.S. played in the attack.

The alleged assault took place in western Syria, near the city of Hama in Idlib province on Wednesday morning, Rudskoy said, adding that with Russian support government forces repelled the offensive almost entirely.

The U.S. government has no formal ties with the group, and, despite the group’s attempted re-brand last summer, the Pentagon confirmed that the group remains a designated “terrorist organization.” Earlier this week Washington accused Russian forces of being too indiscriminate with their fusillade in the Deir Ezzor area, wounding U.S.-backed fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces who are also fighting ISIS.

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Trump delivers first UN speech; threatens to “totally destroy North Korea”

Trump the candidate: UN ‘not a friend of freedom’

President Trump will make his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Will he try to bring the world together or sow division? Will he embrace an institution that he previously called weak and incompetent?

His relationship with the global organization is long and complicated.

During a March 21, 2016, speech at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, then-candidate Trump issued some of his toughest commentary, speaking of the “utter weakness and incompetence of the United Nations.”

“The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It’s not a friend to freedom,” he said. “It’s not a friend even to the United States of America, where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel.”

Though a 2016 global attitudes survey by the Pew Research Center showed that 64 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the United Nations, Trump’s campaign promises for a protectionist economic policy and an aggressive approach to China come into conflict with the goals of multilateralism and the U.N. charter. His promotion of interrogation techniques “worse than waterboarding,” his push for a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. and his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord have also put him at odds with allies at the U.N.

Last December, Trump continued his assault on the institution, tweeting, “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!”


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