‘Allahu snack bar’: Iraqis capture ISIS mufti so obese a TRUCK has to take him into custody, sparking slew of Twitter memes

A top ISIS leader dubbed ‘Jabba the Hutt’ has been captured in Mosul – but proved so obese that removing him from his bolthole required the assistance of a truck, drawing a deluge of memes and jokes at his expense on social media.

Shifa Al-Nima, also known as Abu Abdul-Bari, was seized by an Iraqi SWAT team in western Mosul on Thursday, with security forces saying he was responsible for a fatwa to bomb the city’s Mosque of Prophet Yunus (Jonah). The historic religious site was destroyed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in 2014 after they took over Mosul.

They also said the preacher issued fatwas for the execution of scholars and clerics who refused to pledge allegiance to ISIS, and incited people against the security forces. The hefty mufti reportedly weighed around 300lbs at the time of his capture – and was so heavy that he couldn’t be taken away by car, and instead had to be loaded into the back of a flat-bed truck.

The undignified truck-bed conveyance of the portly preacher sparked huge derision on social media, with many sharing Star Wars memes to poke fun at his ungainly stature. “Jabba the hutt has really let himself go,” one wrote, while several quipped he was “putting the fat in fatwa.

“One thing for certain,” another Twitter user wrote, “no chance he was going to run away.”

Many people questioned how on Earth he could have grown to such a huge size, given the food and supply shortages suffered by so many in Mosul, and the fact that he was on the run. Some even suggested that he had turned to cannibalism, or has “been slippin’ bacon on the down low.”

“There is no way he fasts during Ramadan,” one person tweeted.

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‘Monumental’: Scientists successfully grow mysterious ancient organism that could be origin of life as we know it

A team of researchers has unravelled a scientific mystery by successfully growing an ancient life form in a lab, a breakthrough that brings us one step closer to discovering our very first ancestors on Earth.

The previously unknown organism was unearthed on the floor of the Arctic ocean in 2010. It was dubbed Lokiarchaeota in honor of the Loki’s Castle hydrothermal vent where it was found.

What made the finding significant was that the peculiar organism was a type of microbe, called an Archaea, but it appeared to have characteristics of a completely separate type of early life form, a eukaryote. Significantly, all animals, including humans, that have ever walked on Earth are eukaryotes.

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Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images of meteorite fragments consumed by M. sedula. ©  Springer Nature / Scientific Reports / Tetyana Milojevic et al
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However, doubt hung over the stunning discovery, with some claiming that it was the result of contamination. That doubt has finally been laid to rest after a team of Japanese scientists, who were already studying deep sea microbes, managed to isolate Lokiarchaeota and regrow it in a laboratory.

To achieve this the researchers collected deep sea sediment core from the Nankai Trough, 2,533 metres (8,310 feet) below sea level, off the coast of Japan in 2006. They then carefully cultivated the samples for five years in a methane-fed system, to mimic the conditions of a deep-sea methane vent. 

The team then placed the samples in glass tubes, fed them with nutrients and watched to see what would develop. After a year the first faint signs of Lokiarchaeota started to develop. 

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After several more years the patient scientists had developed a healthy population of the strange organism. They named their cultivated microbe Prometheoarchaeum syntrophicum – after Prometheus, who created humans out of clay in Greek mythology.

Further testing revealed that the organism only grew in conjunction with one or two other microbes and it had long tentacles sprouting from its body, under which the partner microbes nestled.

In their paper, published in Nature this week, the scientists hypothesized that the adaptable organism could have switched its partners to bacteria that used oxygen as that vital element started increasing on Earth. This crucial move would have increased its chances for survival and could have set the course for life as we know it.

“This is a monumental paper that reflects a tremendous amount of work and perseverance,” evolutionary microbiologist Thijs Ettema, who wasn’t involved with the research, told Nature. “It’s a major step forward in understanding this important lineage.”

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Digital dollar? RT’s Boom Bust explores ‘Crypto Dad’s’ push to digitize the greenback

Former US financial regulator J. Christopher Giancarlo, also known as ‘Crypto Dad’ for his support of cryptocurrencies, has announced the launch of a think tank to push the idea of digitizing the US dollar.

Boom Bust talks to international regulatory attorney Myles Edwards about the possibility of converting the greenback into a fully electronic currency using blockchain technology.

“There are tremendous hurdles,” he says, explaining that “60 percent of the world’s transactions happen based on the US dollar, so 21 million outstanding bitcoins cannot in any way replace paper currency or US currency itself.”

Edwards notes that if this was the case each bitcoin would be worth around $400,000. “So, there is a real disconnect with it.”

He also discusses privacy, adding that: “So, there’s privacy, there’s security, and of course what I always say: ‘How are you going to tax it?’”

The expert points out that bitcoin has always been known as the anonymous currency. “So, I think it’s great that we are going in that direction and China is already experimenting with it but it’s a really long road to get to where we need to be,” says Edwards.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

‘It was unreal!’ One-armed golfer hits hole-in-one on PGA Tour (VIDEO)

An amateur golfer who was born with one arm “went ballistic” after producing one of the most remarkable moments in PGA Tour history, drawing gasps of disbelief by hitting a hole-in-one on the first day of the Pro-Am in California.

A veteran of the competition, Laurent Hurtubise is taking on professionals including former Open and PGA Championship Phil Mickelson for the $6.7 million prize this year.

The Canadian, who plays with his left arm, teed off with an iron from 151 yards at the fourth hole of the PGA West Stadium Course.

His shot landed on the green and rolled flush on to the flagstick before dropping for a perfect effort during the first round of play.

Former Tour winner Greg Chalmers, who was part of Hurtubise’s group, was stunned by the shot. “It was unreal,” he admitted.

“He’s as cool as a cucumber. He hit the shot and it was a nice little cut for a leftie.

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“Right away we sort of said, ‘sit down’, but it was one of those shots where you always thought, hang on – this could go in here.

“It landed around the front of the green and we were all watching it closely as it tracked toward the hole and then bang, it disappeared.

“We all went up in celebration and Laurent went ballistic and maybe let out a few choice words, but who could blame him? It was an incredible shot.”

As the crowds cheered, Hurtubuise launched his hat skyward, bowed and told his caddie: “What a feeling.”

One of the team he exchanged high-fives with was his partner for the round, professional Troy Merritt.

“That was the coolest experience I’ve had on the golf course,” admitted Merritt, a three-time PGA Tour winner.

Hurtubise has worked as a car salesman in Montreal while excelling at golf after taking to the course for the first time at the age of 11.

He enjoys helping families by talking about overcoming a disability at his local hospital – and now has the story of possibly the finest drive of his career to inspire them with.

‘Nobody in Poland cares about WWII anymore’: Warsaw ignores 75th anniversary of its liberation from fascism

The Polish people aren’t interested in the events of the past, being fully consumed by their daily hassles, and the country’s authorities are using this to their advantage, freely rewriting WWII history, academics told RT.

Warsaw was taken from the Nazis on January 17, 1945, after a large-scale offensive by the Red Army and the Polish forces. The 75th anniversary of the historic victory is marked on Friday, but the capital of Poland isn’t preparing for any celebrations.

The fact that the USSR liberated Warsaw from the Nazis is “diminished” in schoolbooks and ignored by Polish media “because we live in country where Russophobia is one of the pillars,” military historian Michal Glock said.

The capital’s Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski and his liberal Civic Platform party are “responsible for destroying monuments dedicated to Polish and Soviet soldiers and partly [responsible] for erasing the information that Warsaw was liberated by the Red Army and its allies, such as the Polish 1st and 2nd Armies, from the memory of the residents,” Glock added.

Older people are aware [of] who liberated our capital city, but the younger generation lives in ignorance.

Those who are interested in history only study the Warsaw Uprising, which was a massive –though failed– attempt by the Polish resistance to reclaim the capital from its Nazi invaders, the historian pointed out.

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In the version of history that is promoted by the current Polish authorities, “the liberation of Warsaw (but also the whole of Poland) was part of a second occupation. The Nazi troops were replaced by the Red Army.”

Glock considers this angle “dangerous” and “very confusing,” especially considering the fact that the Nazis were planning a genocide of the Polish population.

“After Jews and gypsies [were sent] to gas chambers, the Poles were supposed to go there. The Red Army saved us from genocide, not only planned by the Germans, but also by the Ukrainian nationalists.”

He said that the “saddest thing” is that his fellow historians do nothing to stop the rewriting of history “in fear of being accused of favoring Russia and President Putin.”

‘A key battle for the outcome of WWII’

Glock’s evaluation of his colleagues appears to be quite accurate, as many other Polish historians approached by RT refused to discuss the matter. And the few who did respond asked that their names be omitted, and simply relayed the stance of the country’s authorities.

One of them said that the liberation of Warsaw isn’t celebrated simply because nobody in Poland cares about World War II anymore. People are more interested in rising prices, the taxes they have to pay, and other daily concerns, he explained.
What the Polish authorities are trying to erase from history was actually an operation that was “enormously important” for the whole outcome of World War II, British historian Michael Jones told RT.

‘Greatly shocked’ 

The liberation of Warsaw came shortly after the Battle of the Bulge, a successful counter-offensive that was launched by the Nazis in mid-December 1944. It saw four allied armies encircled and destroyed, leaving the anti-Hitler coalition (USSR, UK, US) “greatly shocked,” he recalled.

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The Soviet offensive on the Polish capital “was brought forward… at the request of the Western allies and destroyed much of the German Army’s capabilities.” It was highly praised by British PM Winston Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the iconic Yalta Conference in February 1945, the historian added.

Jones said he’s confident that “it’s always important that we keep debating the past,” but it has nothing to do with “a tendency in recent times to simply blame the Soviet Union and now Russia for everything that goes wrong.”

The fact is that during World War ll “we were all working together in common cause to defeat fascism,” he said.

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Manned Mars mission isn’t science fiction & could have ‘reconciliatory’ effect on the world – Russian cosmonaut Ryazansky

Sending humans to Mars isn’t as far-fetched as it might sound, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky told RT, noting that a joint mission to the Red Planet would serve as a unifying triumph for people of all nations.

In an interview with SophieCo, the Russian cosmonaut and biochemist explained that manned space travel to Mars probably wouldn’t be any more dangerous, from a health perspective, than current space missions. He pointed out that “the total amount of radiation an astronaut gets these days exceeds what a Mars mission crew would get,” while stressing that more research on the matter was needed.

Ryazansky told host Sophie Shevardnadze that he was an enthusiastic supporter of an international mission to Mars, arguing that such a monumental joint endeavor would help to ease political tensions back on Earth.

I’m a huge fan of the idea and I really hope that a manned mission to Mars will be a joint effort signifying humanity’s success rather than the success of a single nation.

The Russian scientist pointed out that the International Space Station (ISS) is already “living proof” that nations can overcome political divides and be “successful as a team.”

Watch the full interview below.

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‘After I take care of McGregor, I’ll baptize Usman’ – Jorge Masvidal planning ‘violent’ 2020 (VIDEO)

UFC welterweight Jorge Masvidal had the most successful year of his career in 2019 but as he tells RT Sport, he has a whole lot more in the tank ahead of what he describes as a ‘Rated R’ year in 2020.

To adapt a well-worn fight cliche, it took 16 years for Jorge Masvidal to be an overnight success. ‘Gamebred’ began last year by entering enemy territory in London to take on hometown favorite Darren Till, where it was assumed by practically everyone in the arena that Masvidal’s role in the production was very much a supporting one.

That was until the second round.

Definitely the Till knockout [was important],” Masvidal explained to RT Sport in Las Vegas when describing his phenomenal ascent in 2019. “If you look at the whole fight, we were exchanging a lot of chess pieces there. Till was setting up to murder me, I was setting up to murder him. It was a battle of wits as much as it was physicality. So I’m proud that I was able to outsmart that individual.”

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‘Put your money where your mouth is’: UFC ‘BMF’ Jorge Masvidal renews Conor McGregor callout

Ever since that fight last year, Masvidal has spoken in respectful tones when referring to Till. However, the same enthusiasm doesn’t quite extend to some of his other foes in the UFC’s 170lbs fold.

But man, this day and age, when people want to skip lines and chat sh*t to people, you can’t do that man,” he said. “No with me at least, you can go around punking people, but you’re never to punk me motherf*cker, never in your f*cking life.

Masvida’s rise – including his record-breaking KO of Ben Askren in July and anointment as the UFC’s ‘BMF’ against Nate Diaz in November – could be seen as a victory for the good ol’ days, a traditional, blood and guts fighter succeeding in the age of social media callouts and post-fight blitzes on the mic.

But are characters like him slowly but surely disappearing from the sport?

Yes and no,” he says. “Let’s go before The Ultimate Fighter [TV show], right, it was a little different, the characters, the landscape, the amount of athletes involved. The Ultimate Fighter comes out, everyone wants to be a fighter, it gets harder to find fighters, there’s plenty of fighters with the heart, the talent, the drive, amazing fighters, there’s plenty of those guys.

But the sport is switching more and more towards what are you driving, what are you eating, how much are you talking before the fight, how much are you actually fighting in the cage.”

Of course, one half of this weekend’s UFC 246 main event is well known for his verbal barbs – and Masvidal admits that there is room for trash-talk in the mixed martial arts, so long as you know what you are doing.

Let me say one thing, I’m not an anti-trash-talker, there’s guys that talk trash, I like it. It’s when it’s just like high school shit. ‘Your mom’s fat, your dad’s left you.’ Man, show some originality, you know… I like something funnier or at least something good and technical.

When guys are just making stupid jokes or talking about people’s wives, I don’t think we need it in this sport man.

Masvidal, who was speaking at the launch of his ‘El Recuerdo’ (which means ‘memory’) mezcal brand in Las Vegas, indicated that he sees himself as fighting for three more years, at which point he will retire and enjoy the fruits of his labor.

There is a whole lot more work to be done before that day comes, however.

I can’t slow down,” he says. “It’s painful to get my body there, it’s hurts, I have to make a lot of sacrifices, but I’m willing to do it every time, because I love it. I want to win more than anything else, and I want to show every other motherfucker in my weight class that they’ve never been a threat, it’s always been me.”

And as for what’s next, Masvidal says he is currently unsure. He has stated on numerous occasions that he doesn’t want to ‘wait around’ for anyone but given the choice of fighting for the world title or taking on the sport’s biggest star in Conor McGregor, he sees that as an easy decision to make.

The belt’s always going to be there. Conor, we don’t know. And that one happens to make the most money possible. We gotta take that. After that, I’m gonna baptize that hoot guy [Usman], that bald motherf*cker. Your time’s up man.”

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© Getty Images / Josh Hedges
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Before the interview concluded, RT Sport took the opportunity to invite Masvidal to Russia for a future UFC card and asked as to whether he would like to sample some of the local vodka in Moscow.

Vodka f*cks me up the next day, if I drink vodka I can’t go to the gym the next day. Since I been 18, 19, I can’t drink no vodka,” he says.

All of that said, Masvidal concludes that the eyes of the mixed martial arts world should remain fixed to him this year.

2019 was PG 13 rated movie for my career, 2020 is going to be rated R as it gets. It’s going to be violent, my brother.”

Watch this space.

Enemy of my enemy is my friend? Greek ‘forces’ ready to deploy to Libya after Turkish troops set out to reinforce Haftar rivals

Just days after Turkey vowed “to teach a lesson” to Libya’s strongman General Haftar, Greece – still at odds with Ankara – told him that it could send in some “forces,” tasked with observing a truce and “removal of mercenaries.”

Nikos Dendias, Greece’s Foreign Minister, had “a long conversation” with General Khalifa Haftar, who paid a low-key visit to Athens ahead of a Libya peace conference in Berlin. “We want a ceasefire, the removal of mercenaries and the cancellation of illegal agreements,” Dendias said without elaborating. 

The chief diplomat told Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA), that Greece was ready to help “with [deploying] forces” that would monitor the ceasefire with the rival Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).

“All of this is a contribution to the future of the Libyan people. We want it to be a modern democratic country,” Dendias proclaimed.

Ankara already sent troops to support the internationally-recognized Tripoli government. Upping the ante, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to teach “putschist” Haftar a “lesson” if he doesn’t hold up his offensive against the GNA.

At this stage, both Libyan rivals are sticking to a ceasefire jointly brokered by Turkey and Russia, although they continue to blame each other for violating its terms.Although carefully worded and evasive, the Greek minister’s remarks may add some geopolitical flavor to the Libyan conflict and beyond.

Turkey has a number of territorial disputes with its NATO neighbor Greece, and both countries consistently engage in close-call encounters both at sea and in the air, not to mention historic grievances over Cyprus and other issues.

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FILE PHOTO (L) Tayyip Erdogan ©  REUTERS/Umit Bektas; (R) Khalifa Haftar © REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
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Greece has been remarkably pro-active on the diplomatic front, threatening that it will veto any European peace deal on Libya unless a Turkey-GNA agreement on maritime borders is annulled.

Athens maintains that the deal, which sets out oil and gas exploration areas in the Mediterranean between Libya and Turkey, is “unacceptable and illegal” because it ignores Greece’s own claims in the area, as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis put it. 

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UK’s Treasury designates entire Hezbollah organization as terrorist group

Britain’s Treasury has designated the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist group under its Terrorism and Terrorist Financing rules, and its assets will be frozen, Reuters reports.

Previously it was only Hezbollah’s military wing which was subject to asset-freezing under UK government rules.

The German parliament on December 19 approved a motion urging Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to ban all activities by the Hezbollah group on German soil.

The parliamentarians then said Germany should ditch its current policy of distinguishing between Hezbollah’s political arm and military units.

Putin to take part in Libya peace conference in Berlin – Kremlin

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will be participating in the conference on a peaceful settlement in Libya, to take place in Germany’s capital, Berlin, on Sunday, the Kremlin has said.

The Berlin summit will become the continuation of the peace effort that started in Moscow earlier this month when the warring parties set behind the table for the first time.

The Sunday’s conference will bring together the Government of National Accord (GNA) of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the Libyan National Army (LNA), headed by general Khalifa Haftar, as well as representatives of Germany, Algeria, Great Britain, Egypt, UAE, China, Turkey and France.

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A member of Libyan National Army (LNA) takes reast near Tripoli © REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori
It’s a step forward that ceasefire in Libya is holding, even though rival leaders ‘not ready’ for direct talks – Russian FM

During his stay in the German capital, President Putin will discuss ways of brining calm to the North African state after almost a decade of turmoil, including the possibility of swift cessation of hostilities, reconciliation of the warring parties and launch a broad political dialogue under the UN supervision, the Kremlin said.

The key agreements reached by the sides will be recorded in the final statement after the talks.

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