Drone footage captures moment 80-yo New York bridge is demolished (VIDEOS)

Drone footage captures moment 80-yo New York bridge is demolished (VIDEOS)
A drone has captured remarkable footage of demolition crews imploding the remnants of an old bridge that had connected the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens for 78 years.

The old Kosciuszko Bridge carried vehicles over Newtown Creek in New York City from 1939 until a new bridge was opened in April of this year.

Sunday’s controlled demolition, which was the first ever implosion of a major bridge in New York City, will allow for the completion of the second span of the bridge which is set to be completed in 2020.

READ MORE: ‘Akin to barbarity’: Moscow furious over demolition of monument to Red Army soldiers in Poland

An estimated 22 million pounds of scrap metal is set to be recovered from the bridge and recycled, the office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“After years of stagnation and stunted ambition, we are building across the state bigger and better than before,”Governor Cuomo said.

The bridge is named after a Polish soldier, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who fought in the American Revolutionary War.

The cost of the project to replace the bridge is set to cost $873 million.

Courtesy, RT

Trial underway of alleged mastermind of Benghazi attack

Trial underway of alleged mastermind of Benghazi attack
The trial of the man accused of planning the attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012, killing the US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans is underway at a US federal court.

The once anti-Gaddafi militia leader Ahmed Abu Khatallah hates America “with a vengeance” and played a leading role in organizing the September 11, 2012 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, federal prosecutor John Crabb said in his opening statement.

Khatallah “didn’t do the killing by himself,” he said. “He didn’t light the fires and he didn’t fire the mortars but you will hear he is just as guilty as the men who lit those fires.”

Accused Benghazi ringleader Ahmed Abu Khatallah is in court in Washington as terrorism trial opens http://reut.rs/2xT3wV0 

Crabb told the jury they would hear from witnesses who heard Khatallah discuss his plans. One of them heard Khatallah say he “would have killed all of the Americans that night,” Crabb said. That witness was later paid $7 million to help the United States lure Khatallah to the spot where he was captured, Reuters reported.

Khatallah’s defense attorney said his client had nothing to do with the planning of the attack and went to the compound to see what was happening. The attorney also argued that some of the government’s witnesses “are people who lie” and that his client’s statements to the FBI were never recorded and may have been incorrectly translated.

Khatallah, 46, who faces 18 US federal charges including murder and providing material support to terrorists, was wearing headphones during the trial to hear Arabic translation of the proceedings.

The Libyan has been held at a detention center in Alexandria, Virginia for three years following his capture by a team of US military and FBI officials in Libya in 2014.

Khatallah commanded a small militia during the 2011 uprising against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. The Obama administration at the time backed anti-Gaddafi forces and helped to kill the Libyan leader later that year.

The attack on the Benghazi compound the following year lasted over eight hours during which US government personnel repeatedly called for help. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans — Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty — were killed in the assault.

The Obama administration’s response to the attack became the matter of a congressional investigation which entangled then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It was revealed that top administration officials knew that it was a pre-planned terrorist attack when they initially told the public that it happened as a result of a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video.

Courtesy, RT

Hillary Clinton slammed for ‘ignorant’ statement on guns after Las Vegas shooting

Hillary Clinton took heat Monday for issuing what critics called an “ignorant” and “irrelevant” statement going after the NRA and silencers in the hours after the Las Vegas mass shooting.

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As details were still emerging about the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history – which killed at least 58 people – the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee took to Twitter to imagine how much deadlier the massacre might have been if silencers had been used.

“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get,” she tweeted, adding: “Our grief isn’t enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again.”

It was an apparent reference to the NRA’s push to ease federal rules for silencers.

But conservative critics quickly hit back, saying silencers probably would only moderately dampen the sound of gunfire in this kind of attack – especially from what was described as a high-powered weapon.

“Suppressors only reduce by a few decibels, still same decibel level as a jackhammer,” tweeted Dana Loesch, a talk radio host and NRA spokeswoman.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, editor in chief of The Daily Wire, blasted Clinton’s tweets as “Ignorant, irrelevant and exploitative.”

Radio host and CIA veteran Buck Sexton had a similar take: “Appallingly stupid, and entirely irrelevant, Mrs Clinton She knows nothing about firearms, and even worse, she doesn’t care.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also pushed back when asked about Clinton’s statements at Monday’s briefing.

“I think before we start trying to talk about the preventions of what took place last night, we need to know more facts, and right now we’re simply not at that point,” Sanders said. “It is very easy for Mrs. Clinton to criticize and to come out, but I think we need to remember the only person with blood on their hands is that of the shooter, and this isn’t a time for us to go after individuals or organizations. I think we can have those policy conversations but today is not that day.”

It’s unclear what weapons the shooter, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was using. Witnesses described the sound of rapid automatic gunfire – which many believed to be firecrackers – ringing out as thousands ran for cover. One vendor told Fox News that “it sounded like a machine gun.” Authorities said the shooter had more than 10 rifles in the hotel room where he fired on concert-goers below.

The casualties in the attack exceeded those of the Pulse nightclub tragedy in Florida more than a year ago. As with the Pulse attack, the Las Vegas shooting led to prompt calls from Democrats – not just Clinton – for gun legislation, though the party has struggled to tighten laws even when the Obama administration was in power.

Connecticut’s senators, who have been especially outspoken on gun control ever since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, were among the first to issue statements Monday.

“Nowhere but America do horrific large-scale mass shootings happen with this degree of regularity,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement. “This must stop. It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic. There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”

Connecticut’s other Democratic senator, Richard Blumenthal, issued a similar statement.

“It has been barely a year since what was previously the largest mass shooting in American history – the deadly attack at Pulse nightclub. In the interim, thousands more have been lost to the daily, ruthless toll of gun violence. Still, Congress refuses to act. I am more than frustrated, I am furious,” he said.

As the lawmakers seemed to acknowledge, gun legislation stands little chance of passing under a Republican-controlled Congress and White House.

After the Pulse shooting, Senate Democrats launched a 15-hour filibuster followed by a Democratic sit-in on the House floor in a high-profile push for gun control legislation. But the divided Senate ultimately rejected all four gun measures put on the floor for a vote.

The battle over gun restrictions has, meanwhile, played out in a more substantive fashion on the state level – and at the courts.

Most recently, a federal appeals court last week delivered a win for gun rights activists by keeping in place another court’s ruling that it was unconstitutional for the District of Columbia to require gun owners to provide a “good reason” for legally carrying a concealed weapon in the nation’s capital. The dispute could be on a path to the Supreme Court.

Courtesy, Fox News

ISIS claims Las Vegas attack, FBI says gunman had ‘no connection’ to terrorist group

ISIS claims Las Vegas attack, FBI says gunman had ‘no connection’ to terrorist group
The Las Vegas shooter, who killed 59 people and injured hundreds more, did so on behalf of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), according to an IS-affiliated website. The FBI says the perpetrator had no connections to international terrorist groups.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the mass shooting in Las Vegas, believed to be the deadliest in modern US history.

“The Las Vegas attack was carried out by a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried it out in response to calls to target states of the coalition,” Reuters cited the Amaq, IS-affiliated website. “The Las Vegas attacker converted to Islam a few months ago.”

The terrorist group did not name the attacker but claimed that he “executed the operation in response to calls to target countries of the coalition.” However, no proof was provided to back the terrorists’ claims.

The attacker did not affiliate himself with any political or religious group, the brother of the gunman, Eric Paddock, from Orlando, said.

“No religious affiliation. No political affiliation,” he told CBS News.

Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said authorities believe it was a “lone wolf” attack.

US security agencies are assessing the IS claim but have not verified it, Reuters reports, citing officials. Two unnamed senior US officials told Reuters that no evidence suggested a connection between the shooter and any international militant group.

Courtesy, DW

Nobel Prize for Medicine awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young for discoveries of mechanisms for biological clocks

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Medicine has been awarded to three Americans for their discoveries about the body’s rhythms. The researchers isolated a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm.

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Announcement of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to three US scientists on mechanisms underlying circadian rhythms

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was decided by the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute.

Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young were jointly awarded the prize for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling our biological clocks.

BREAKING NEWS The 2017  in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young.

“Their discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions,” the Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karoliinska Institute said during the announcement ceremony.

The scientists examined how internal biological clocks in organisms align themselves with natural cycles of night and day.

Using fruit flies as a model organism, this year’s Nobel Laureates isolated a gene that controls the daily biological rhythm.

“We now recognize that biological clocks function by the same principles in cells of other multicellular organisms, including humans,” the Academy added.

Our biological clocks, the Academy said, were responsible for regulating “sleep patterns, feeding behavior, hormone release, blood pressure, and body temperature.”

The trio have been conducting research into sleep patterns since the 1980s.

Circadian in circadian rhythm, originates from the Latin words circa meaning “around” and dies meaning “day” 

On Tuesday, the prize for physics is awarded, followed by chemistry on Wednesday.

The detection of gravitational waves is often cited as a potential winner. It is a major research breakthrough that confirms one of Albert Einstein’s predictions in his theory of general relativity. Gravitational waves were first observed in 2015.

There is speculation the chemistry honors could go to classic research in the field, tipping scientists who discovered new elements in the periodic table, such as nihonium or moscovium, thus completing the 7th period.

On Friday, the scene moves to Oslo, where the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced. The 2017 Nobel laureate in economics will be announced on October 9 – it’s the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. And the prize for literature will be announced on an as yet unconfirmed date.

The prizes in all categories carry a purse of 9 million kroner ($1.1 million, 940,500 euros). The awards will be presented at a ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.

jlw/za (dpa, AP, AFP)

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Facebook says 10 million US users saw Russia-linked ads

Facebook has handed over copies of some 3,000 ads linked to a Russian agency to US lawmakers, as part of Congress’ probe into alleged election meddling. The ads reportedly focused on divisive social and political issues.

Zuckerberg gestures while speaking in Berlin below a large Facebook logo (picture-alliance/dpa/K. Nietfeld)

Facebook’s public policy chief, Elliot Schrage, wrote on Monday that an estimated 10 million users in the US would have seen the 3,000 ads that US lawmakers believe played a part in Russia’s alleged meddling in last year’s presidential election.

Schrage’s disclosure came as Facebook officials turned over the ads to the House and Senate intelligence committees, as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Read more: What you need to know on Facebook, Russia, and the US election?

Congressional investigators have focused their probe into alleged Russian meddling on the spread of fake news over social media. Facebook is the first internet giant to have agreed to disclose its data to lawmakers, while Google and Twitter have also been pressured to come forward.

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Many US officials believe that Moscow used social media to support Donald Trump ahead of the US election last year. The three committees, as well as Special Counsel Robert Mueller, are all currently pursuing inquires on the alleged Russian meddling.

The social media giant also pledged to disclose the price and the target audience for each of some 3,000 items. In total, the corporation received $100,000 (85,000 euro) for the ads, which it says were purchased by a Russian internet agency.

Schrage said the ads centered mainly on divisive social and political messages, such LGBT rights, immigration and gun laws. The ads ran between 2015 and 2017, although more than half (56 percent) were only seen after last November’s election.

Zuckerberg expects government will ‘publish’ info

The online Facebook ads focused on divisive political issues, with some of them mentioning Muslims’ support for Hillary Clinton or the Black Lives Matter movement.

Facebook already shared this information with Mueller and is cooperating with the investigation, the company’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

Read more: Facebook, Twitter, Google called on to meet US intelligence committees

“As a general rule, we are limited in what we can discuss publicly about law enforcement investigations, so we may not always be able to share our findings publicly,” Zuckerberg said last month. “But we support Congress in deciding how to best use this information to inform the public, and we expect the government to publish its findings when their investigation is complete.”

Digital giants to testify

The social network also linked the online ads to 450 apparently unauthentic user accounts, which were allegedly associated with a Russian organization called the Internet Research Agency.

Read more:  Facebook agrees to disclose ads bought by Russian agency

Last week, Twitter reported suspending 22 accounts on its own platform for corresponding to accounts investigated by Facebook. Representatives of Twitter, Google and Facebook were all invited to testify publicly before lawmakers in the coming weeks.

Moscow has repeatedly denied meddling in the US election.

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dj, dm/msh (AP, Reuters)

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Climate change drives Solomon Islands’ people of the sea ashore

The inhabitants of Lau Lagoon in Solomon Islands have lived in harmony with nature for generations. Now their entire way of life is vanishing beneath the waves.

Dotted across the Lau Lagoon are close to 100 tiny, sun- and salt-bleached islands, topped with scrubby, wind-bent trees and clusters of homes built from timber and palm fronds. Some are home to as few as five people, others as many as 400. But a growing number are deserted.

The Lau Lagoon lies at the northeastern tip of Malaita in the Solomon Islands archipelago in the South Pacific. Unlike the large island of Malaita, the lagoon’s atoll is manmade, built from coral heaved up from the lagoon floor and rising an average of just a meter above the high-tide mark.

Locals say the wane i asi, or people of the sea, first built the islands some 18 generations ago – dating them back to the 17th century – to evade the mosquitoes and disease of the mainland, to be closer to the water that provides them with fish and, some say, to avoid conflict with the wane i tolo, or people of the bush.

Since then, the wane i asi have constantly repaired and rebuilt their islands. But now, a practice they has sustained them for hundreds of years is becoming a losing battle.

Rising tides

Climate change means the sea level is rising, storms are intensifying and seasons are becoming unpredictable. Coral is increasingly torn away from the islands and returned to the lagoon floor. These days, repairing them does little more than delay the inevitable.

Solomon Islands has a population of 560,000 people and a growing number of them are being forced to leave their homes – not just in Lau Lagoon, but also low-lying coastal areas on Malaita, and across the entire atoll, one of the world’s largest.

Solomon Islands - Lau Lagoon (Beni Knight)John Kaia says his community’s way of life is being transformed completely by climate change

It has been more than a decade since the island of Tauba in Lau Lagoon was first submerged completely during a high tide.

Tauba Island’s residents belong to two different tribes. John Kaia is chief of one of them, the Aenabaolo. At 52, Kaia says he has witnessed the impacts of the changing climate over his lifetime.

“Before, we used to know the seasons, but now the wind, the rain, the cyclones can come at any time. We don’t know when.” Kaia says. “Cyclones always used to come when the wind was from the west, now they come even when the wind is from the east.”
Climate change changes everything

In July 2015, Cyclone Raquel became the first cyclone on record to hit the South Pacific Ocean in July. It caught Solomon Islanders by surprise and left many villages devastated.

But for a community that has long lived in harmony with nature, even more subtle climatic changes have profound consequences.

“Climate change has not only affected the weather, it has affected everything, the people, the sea, the land, even the food we eat has changed,” Kaia says. “People’s lives have already changed so much.”

The erratic seasons have forced island farmers to resort to chemical fertilizers, which Kaia believes are “harmful to people’s health.”

Even the children’s education is impacted. The only route to their school on Malaita is by boat – dugout canoes equipped with tatty plastic sails. Kaia says unpredictable weather has made these daily journeys dangerous.

Solomon Islands - Lau Lagoon (Beni Knight)Routine journeys across the lagoon are becoming increasingly perilous

“Storms now can happen any day and come very quickly,” he says. “The children must be very careful while in their canoes, if the wind hits their sails hard the canoe can roll over very easily.”

Competition over land 

All this means is more and more wane i asi are relocating to Malaita. But that comes with its own challenges.

The Aenabaolo share a parcel of land on the mainland with three other tribes. Yet Aenabaolo families relocating from Tauba Island have become embroiled in a land dispute, and construction of their new homes is currently on hold by court order.

And they are not alone. With more and more communities displaced, Solomon Islands’ courts are flooded with such cases. Complicated traditional land tenure structures mean they can take years to resolve.

And tribal differences can exacerbate disputes. Communities with distinct cultural practices are increasingly being forced to live in close proximity. A recent history of ethnic violence makes that a concern in Solomon Islands.

The country suffered five years of conflict between the Isatabu people of its main island of Guadalcanal and Malaitans settling on the island, until international peacekeepers arrived in 2003.

A wrench from home

Some wane i asi, like the 20 permanent residents of the tiny island of Taluabu, have no claim to land on Malaita at all. For generations, Taluabu’s inhabitants have been allowed to farm a parcel of land on the mainland, but landowners have refused them permission to settle there.

Solomon Islands - Lau Lagoon (Beni Knight)For a people used to the waves lapping on their doorsteps, giving up life on the water is a wrench

Over the last year, the issue of relocation has moved up the political agenda in Solomon Islands, but there is still a long way to go before government-led plans to safely rehome entire tribes are put into practice.

In the meantime, NGOs and the Anglican Church of Melanesia have been helping displaced communities find land and start new lives.

Lau Lagoon islanders with secure new homes on Malaita, or in the county’s capital of Honiara on Guadalcanal, are among the lucky ones.

But settling into life on mainland is a wrench for the people of the sea, and few cut ties with their atoll homes altogether. Most families return at least once a year. These days, Tauba’s population swells from around 100 people to upwards of 400 at Christmas.

In late 2016, non-governmental organization Displacement Solutions sent photojournalist Beni Knight to Lau Lagoon on the island of Malaita to document the challenges facing island dwellers in the area. DW publishes the exclusive essay and photos here.

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