High crimes: NFL star Greg Robinson facing 20 years in prison after being arrested while transporting 157lbs of marijuana

Ex-Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Greg Robinson has been charged with intent to distribute marijuana and further related charges after being arrested near the USA-Mexico border with significant quantities of the drug.

Robinson, a former number two pick in the NFL Draft, spent the last season as a member of the Cleveland Browns but had been advised by the team in recent days that they would be declining the opportunity to re-sign him, and it looks like he is currently very far from a football field after being apprehended at a border patrol checkpoint. 

However, it is understood that Robinson was not transporting the drugs into or from Mexico.

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Robinson was arrested along with former collegiate teammate and ex-Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Quan Bray, along with a third person who is said to be uninvolved in the alleged crime.

The United States Attorney’s Office from the Western District of Texas announced in a statement that officers had discovered “approximately 157 pounds of marijuana inside several large duffle bags in the rear cargo area” of a rented car in which both men were traveling. 

Robinson allegedly offered the third man in the car, who is understood to be an Uber driver, quantities of money to assume responsibility for the marijuana in the car. He told police he wouldn’t have got in the car had he known what it was carrying.

Per a report by TMZ, police also discovered 23 mason jars, an electronic scale, $3,100 in cash and a can-sealing machine.

Federal authorities filed a criminal complaint against the two players on Wednesday, with a hearing set for Friday.

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Robinson was considered to be one of the brightest offensive tackle prospects in years when he entered the NFL Draft in 2014 and was selected at No. 2 by the Los Angeles Rams. However, his performances didn’t quite match the hype.

He was moved on to the Detroit Lions for a low-round pick soon after, then joined the Cleveland Browns for a season and a half before being told in recent days that the team wouldn’t be moving forward with him next season. 

Making money by ‘preventing apocalypse’: Russian police raids cult that ‘made millions’ selling ‘divine protection’

St. Petersburg police searched the apartment-turned-“temple” and stables of “Order of the Path,” a family-run cult that claimed to be fighting against “black mages” in the gov’t and sold “divine protection” for $300,000 a pop.

Earlier this week, St. Petersburg police SWAT teams raided the mysterious “Order of the Path,” a cult run by psychologist-turned-“magister” Gayva Tihomirova, and arrested the leader, 78.ru reports. The raids targeted the main “temple” of the organization, which was converted from a two-bedroom apartment, their offices, and the stables outside the city where, the shady Order held their cabals. By day, Tihomirova and company played therapist to wayward souls who wandered into the “temple” looking for help with their troubles. By night, the sinister organization worked on “preventing the apocalypse, protecting life and civilization on planet Earth, and the planet itself” by getting these sick people to pay them tens of thousands of dollars for “divine protection” spells.

© vk.com



Hooking the target

An average “client” that Tihomirova’s operation targeted was a man like “Roman” (name possibly changed to protect his identity), who spoke to 78.ru. Roman was a well-off St. Petersburg-based businessman with a dark secret: he hit the bottle pretty hard. The rich alcoholic heard about the friendly psychologist from a friend of a friend, and decided to visit the “temple” to try to find a cure his addiction. At first, the organization drew him in: everyone was friendly, really listened to his concerns, made him feel like they actually cared about him. For a man who got used to hearing from doctors that they couldn’t help him, this was a real change of pace. Roman was hooked, and kept coming back for Tihomirova’s $100 “balancing” sessions.

Sucking them dry

As time went on, Roman’s addiction kept a tight grip on the businessman. Despite his regular trips to the “temple,” he wasn’t getting any better, so Tihomirova suggested that the real solution to his problems wasn’t in St. Petersburg, it was in a small hamlet abroad. Roman balked at the $2,000 price tag for a trip to the country in the middle of his busy season, but after a bit of prodding, and promises that soon he’ll finally rid himself of his disease, he joined the group on their way to rural Lithuania. At the hamlet, Tihomirova pushed a series of “ordeals” on him: he was buried alive for eight hours at a time, hung from a cross to be able to forgive himself, and was even left in the middle of the woods for 24 hours with no food or water. None of this helped. Not the first time, and not the many other times he went there over the next eight years. The cult held onto him, and sucked him dry, raking in over $150,000 from the man, until he went bankrupt, losing everything.

© Press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region



Selling a little bit of divine protection

Luckily for Roman, he wasn’t rich enough to afford the cult’s greatest service: nothing short of divine protection. Those that had the funds got a taste of complete defense from all enemies, both physical and spiritual, handed down from God himself. Tihomirova summoned these “divine domes of protection” over her clients for the low, low price of $20,000 per person. And of course, if her target was a businessman, he could buy a “dome” that covered his whole company, though that would cost him a cool $300,000.

Unfortunately for her victims, these domes had a pesky tendency to degrade over time. You see, they were supposedly held up by monks on a remote island, who chanted psalms day and night to maintain the “divine magic,” and those monks needed regular support. In cold hard cash.

© Press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region



A tight leash

Like with any cult, there was dissent. Not everyone who got in this deep with the Order wanted to keep giving Tihomirova and family a tenth of their income, plus some started asking thorny questions about all of her properties. After all, the woman owned several apartments in St. Petersburg, plus the offices, and a “ranch” outside the city. Sources claim that Tihomirova was ruthless when dealing with these doubting Thomases. She allegedly threatened their families, had her other acolytes rough them up, and warned them about the biggest threat to whole organization: the “black mages” and “reptiloids” inside the government and police who kept a watchful eye on the Order. If her followers misbehaved, they could expect SWAT at their door.

© Press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region



The raids

Which is exactly what happened on February 18, when the St. Petersburg chapter of the Centre for Combating Extremism raided Tihomirova’s apartments and offices, supported by Russia’s National Guard SWAT team. The raids were connected to the case that St. Petersburg police have been working on since August 2019 concerning large-scale fraud (article 159, section 4 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation). The police found 130 ampules of sedatives, 60 knives, 50 books on occult topics, and over $17,000 in cash in various currency, and Tihomirova was arrested as a suspect in the fraud case, according to 78.ru.

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Coronavirus pandemic could wipe $1.1 TRILLION off global economy — Oxford Economics

China’s GDP growth is expected to fall from six percent last year to 5.4 percent in 2020 due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, said the latest report by Oxford Economics.

It has modeled two scenarios on the coronavirus outbreak morphing into pandemic. Under the first scenario, if it spreads more widely in Asia, world GDP would fall by $400 billion this year, or 0.5 percent. The second scenario foresees the global GDP dropping $1.1 trillion or 1.3 percent, if the virus outbreak becomes a pandemic and a disruption to manufacturing in Asia spreads worldwide. Such a decline would be the same as losing the entire annual output of Indonesia, which is the world’s 16th largest economy.

“Our scenarios see world GDP hit as a result of declines in discretionary consumption and travel and tourism, with some knock-on financial market effects and weaker investment,” wrote the analysts.

Oxford Economics said it still expected the impact of the virus to be limited to China and to have a significant, but short-term impact, bringing world GDP growth just 0.2 percent lower than January at 2.3 percent.

The growth of new confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus has slowed down this week, but experts warn it is too early to call the all-clear for the risk of a pandemic. So far, there are over 75,500 confirmed cases and more than 2,100 deaths.

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

WATCH heart-clenching video from INSIDE CRASHING PLANE in Russia

Passengers of a small plane who were filming their takeoff from an airfield in Magadan were horrified when they realized their aircraft wouldn’t make it. It crashed instead but, luckily, no lives were lost in the incident.

The video, purportedly shot from inside an Antonov An-2 plane, which crashed on Thursday in northern Russia, shows the aircraft trying to climb just after takeoff. Its speed seems slow and, at one moment, it virtually stops in the air, loses all lift and starts falling as a horrified groan is heard from passengers. 

The plane was about 10 meters in the air when the incident happened. All 12 passengers and two crew members survived the fall, but seven of them were injured. Thankfully, none of the injuries is life-threatening.

Images of the crash site released by investigators in the Magadan region, where the incident happened, shows the damage that the aircraft sustained. Its left wing broke and the nose propeller got heavily bent.

The An-2 is a small, single-engine biplane with more than seven decades of service. Dubbed ‘Kukuruznik’ (crop-duster in English), it has remarkable ability to use unprepared fields for take off and landing. As its nickname suggests, it was widely used in agriculture, as well as a small transport vehicle, a trainer plane and in other areas. It has not been produced in Russia since the 1990s, but hundreds of units remain in operation today.

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Lionel Messi says he’d welcome Neymar back to Barcelona: ‘I would love him to return’

Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has spoken of his wish to be reunited with former teammate Neymar at the Camp Nou, telling Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo that he thinks a return for the Brazilian could be on the cards.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview, Messi explained that he would love to play alongside Neymar again in Barcelona.

“I’ve said it many times, at the sports level ‘Ney’ is one of the best in the world and I would love him to return,” he said.

“He was a very happy person, he was always happy, he had fun both on and off the pitch. “

Neymar’s departure from the club to French side PSG left a sour taste in the mouth of many Barcelona fans, who may need some winning over if Neymar did return to Catalunya. Messi said he understood some fans’ hesitance to embrace the Brazilian, but he said he believed Neymar also felt bad about the manner of his exit and he hopes things can be smoothed over ahead of a possible return.

“It is normal for people to see him that way because of the way he left,” he said.

“It also bothered me at the time, we tried to convince him not to. But in the end, we all want to win and have the best.

“As I said before, he is one of the best and gave us a lot on the pitch. But it is understandable that people think like that, since he left in a way he did not like.

“He is really looking forward to coming back, he always seemed sorry. He did a lot to return and that would be the first step to try to return.”

Messi also paid tribute to old rival Cristiano Ronaldo, as he assessed the impact of his departure on Barcelona’s longtime rivals Real Madrid.

“They lost a lot of goals,” he said.

“It was an obvious thing that was going to happen. Not only goals, Cristiano Ronaldo also gives you many other things. Madrid has great players, but Cristiano scores 50 goals per season.”

And he also revealed his shock over the tragic death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, saying such a huge moment cuts away the dramas of life and reminds him of what’s truly important.

“It took me by surprise,” said Messi.

“We were with the kids watching the news and I didn’t know much until I heard it properly. It was a shock, I thought it was a mistake and it couldn’t be true. But I found out and it was terrible.

“When something like this happens or a major illness we think about how lucky we are and that we have to enjoy life.”

Brazil’s oil production jumps 20% to new record in January

Brazil’s oil production jumped by 20.4 percent on the year to set a new production record of 3.168 million barrels per day (bpd) in January, thanks to the prolific pre-salt basin, oil regulator ANP said on Wednesday.

Last month, Brazil’s total oil and natural gas production also set a new production record, exceeding 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) for the first time ever, the regulator said, noting that combined oil and gas production stood at 4.041 million boe/d.    

Oil production in January 2020 rose by 2 percent compared to December 2019 and by 20.43 percent compared to January 2019, ANP said.  

In January 2020, Brazil’s production in the pre-salt area totaled 2.682 million boed, accounting for 66.37 percent of all oil and natural gas production. Oil output in the pre-salt area hit 2.150 million bpd last month, the regulator said. The pre-salt oilfield Lula was the single biggest oil producer in the country, pumping on average 1.052 million bpd.

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Brazil breaks oil production record

Earlier this month, state oil firm Petrobras announced that it had set another production record in the last quarter of 2019, producing more than 3 million bpd of oil equivalent throughout the period.

Brazil’s pre-salt area is expected to further boost the country’s oil production this year, according to OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) in February.

Brazil will be the third-largest growth driver of non-OPEC supply in 2020 after the US and Norway, according to OPEC. The cartel sees non-OPEC supply growing by 2.25 million bpd, with Brazil’s production rising by 310,000 bpd this year.

Since June 2019, Brazil’s crude oil production had surged by 550,000 bpd within six months, thanks to the Lula, Buzios, Sapinhoá, Jubarte, and Sul De Lula fields, which boosted production from the pre-salt horizon in the deepwater Santos Basin to average 1.74 million bpd in 2019, OPEC said in its report earlier this month.   

This article was originally published on Oilprice.com

‘The world might need us to step up’: London offers to host 2020 Olympics if coronavirus forces IOC to move Games from Tokyo

The city of London is ready and willing to step in and play host to this summer’s Olympic Games, according to one of the major candidates for the city’s mayor.

Shaun Bailey, the governing Conservative Party’s candidate for the job of Mayor of London, has boldly stated that the English capital would be ready to step up and step in if the ongoing coronavirus outbreak proves serious enough to force the Games to be moved from Tokyo.

The flu-like virus has taken the lives of more than 2,000 people in China and infected more than 74,000 across the world, according to Reuters, and the outbreak has already forced a host of postponements and cancellations as the Asian sporting calendar has been hit hard by the crisis.

The International Olympic Committee has stated that it has been advised by the World Health Organization that there is “no case” for the IOC to implement contingency plans to relocate or cancel the Games.

But if the crisis worsens, or continues longer than expected, Bailey said London stands ready to step in and host the Games, if necessary.

“London can host the #Olympics in 2020,” he tweeted.

“We have the infrastructure and the experience. And due to the #coronavirus outbreak, the world might need us to step up.

“As Mayor, I will make sure London is ready to answer the call and host the Olympics again.”

There has been no comment from the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee following Bailey’s statement, but did say in a statement that the committee was undertaking all necessary steps regarding the coronavirus.

“Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organizations which carefully monitor any incidence of infectious diseases and we will review any countermeasures that may be necessary with all relevant organizations,” it said.

‘Asking for trouble?’ VIDEO shows American APC pushing Russian army jeep off road in Syria

Footage from Syria purports to show a US armored personnel carrier pushing a Russian military jeep off the road; relations between Moscow and Washington remain tense.

A video, posted on social media on Wednesday, shows what appears to be a Russian military convoy moving alongside an American one. At one point, a Russian Tigr heavy jeep tries to overtake an Oshkosh M-ATV armored vehicle with a US flag on its roof. The M-ATV responds by maneuvering to the right, pushing the Tigr further away from the road.

Narrowly evading collision and nearly hitting a pedestrian in the process, both vehicles stop, and one of them honks.

According to the Russian outlet NSN, the alleged incident was filmed near the town of Qamishli in Syria’s northeastern Al-Hasakah Province, bordering with Turkey. There is no official confirmation of the footage as of yet.

Russian Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov told NSN that such incidents “risk leading to [bad] consequences” as “the Americans are asking for trouble.” The lawmaker said that the US and Russia should notify each other about convoy movements to avoid tensions. He also sent a warning to Washington.

They should not provoke us to respond, otherwise it will end badly. I believe wise-minded people in the Pentagon should think about that.

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People gather near US military vehicles in the village of Khirbet Amo, near Qamishli, Syria February 12, 2020. © REUTERS / SANA
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At least 2 dead as Aussie passenger train derails outside Melbourne, people feared trapped in wreckage

Two people were killed and several others injured when a Sydney-Melbourne passenger train with 160 people on board derailed near the town of Wallan.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau confirmed that several people had been injured but did not give an exact figure. Emergency services are on the scene and a triage unit has been set up at a nearby gas station to treat the injured while at least one person has been airlifted to hospital for emergency treatment.

The train derailed near Wallan, about 47km (29 miles) north of Melbourne, at about 7:50pm local time (8:50am GMT). There have, as yet, been no official reports on the total number of injuries. Eyewitness photos from the scene show several carriages on their side.

At least three rescue-service helicopters have been deployed to the scene which the Country Fire Authority described as “very chaotic at this stage.”

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

WATCH harrowing footage of 2007 Baghdad killings projected onto UK parliament wall in protest against Assange’s extradition

Campaigners have projected the footage of an American airstrike on Iraqi civilians, originally exposed by WikiLeaks, onto the parliament building in London, to protest against the proposed extradition to the US of Julian Assange.

Clips from the infamous 2007 footage were projected onto Westminster Palace, where both houses of parliament are located. The same video was projected on the wall of the Belmarsh maximum security prison in London, where the WikiLeaks co-founder is awaiting his US extradition trial. The images on the buildings’ walls included photos of the activist along with slogans like ‘Don’t extradite Assange’ and ‘Journalism is not a crime.’

The anti-extradition group behind the stunt argues that the prosecution of Assange is unlawful because he did journalistic work, and all information published by WikiLeaks was of public interest.

The classified footage, which was published by WikiLeaks in 2010, revealed how the crew of a US AH-64 Apache attack chopper shredded a group of civilians in Baghdad, including two reporters working for Reuters, after mistaking them for insurgents.

Assange could face up to 175 years in prison if found guilty of all 18 charges that have been brought against him in the US. His extradition hearings are to start next week.

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