Bridge collapses north of Toulouse, a truck and a car fall in the Tarn river – French firefighters

Several vehicles have fallen into the Tarn river in France after a suspension bridge collapsed north of Toulouse early Monday morning.

Emergency services are on scene assessing the scale of the disaster but have yet to give an exact figure for injuries and casualties. The collapse is said to have taken place at roughly 8:30am local time.

A 15-year old boy reportedly died in the incident but this has yet to be confirmed by authorities. According to early indications, a large, overweight truck which was beyond the legal limit may have been responsible for the collapse but an investigation has yet to be completed.

There are about 70 firefighters at the scene and the local gendarmerie has set up a security cordon.Authorities have asked the public to avoid the area while emergency operations are under way.

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India paid advance for Russia’s S-400 missiles, delivery to be complete in full in 2025

India’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system for over $5billion which US tried to derail is moving ahead, with the advance payment already made, head of a Russian defense conglomerate has confirmed.

“The advance payment has been made. I will not say the exact figure, but the payment is done,” Sergey Chemezov told journalists on the sidelines of Dubai Airshow on Monday. His company, Rostec, is deeply involved in Russian arms export, including sale of S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

His remark confirmed the report by the newspaper Hindustan Times, which said India had paid Russia some $850 million, or 15 percent of the total sum, in September. The report said the payment used a mechanism designed to circumvent US monitoring of international financial transactions. Washington has a law that says any buyer of advanced Russian weapon systems, including the S-400, may be subjected to financial sanctions and vocally opposed the Russian-Indian deal.

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Chemezov assured the state-of-art military hardware that India ordered was already being produced and that the delivery will be fully complete in 2025, just as the contract says. He wouldn’t elaborate on the shipment schedule. The Hindustan Times said its sources expected the first batch to arrive “in 16 to 18 months”.

The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range air defense system meant to intercept enemy aircraft and missiles. The contract signed in October last year is for five S-400 batteries and is estimated to be worth $5.4 billion.

A similar deal between Russia and Turkey resulted in a major rift between Washington and Ankara. The US pressured its NATO ally not to buy the Russian weapon system, but failed to stop the purchase. It retaliated by kicking Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program, claiming it was necessary to protect the aircraft’s secrets from Russia.

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The Israeli F-16I taking part in the Blue Flag 2019 exercise
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Chemezov remarked that part of the appeal that Russian weapons have in the international market is that “we never impose political conditions”. Rostec, the state-owned company that he heads, is, among other things, a top mediator between Russian defense manufacturers and foreign clients through its subsidiary, Rosoboronexport.

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Hong Kong rioters bombard ambulance truck with bricks and stones to free arrested protester (VIDEOS)

Violent anti-government protesters ambushed an ambulance truck as they rushed to free a detained female demonstrator, prompting warning shots from a police officer that was sitting inside the vehicle.

Police said they have arrested a 20-year-old woman in Kowloon district for violating assembly laws in the early hours of Monday. Since the protester had a head injury, the officers called for an ambulance truck to pick her up and drive to a hospital (the police did not specify how she was injured).

The truck did not get far, however, as around 3am local time it was stopped and swarmed by hundreds of protesters, who hurled rocks and bricks at the two escorting officers hiding behind the seats inside the vehicle, while also splashing “unknown liquid” on them.

The protesters then began rocking the ambulance truck. That’s when one of the officers fired three warning shots, dispersing the rioters. “Initial enquiry shows that the shots did not hit anyone,” police said. The arrested woman managed to flee and is now on the police ‘wanted’ list.

Battles between the authorities and protesters intensified over the weekend, when the police attempted to remove the barricades erected at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). Large fires broke out outside the campus when rioters hurled petrol bombs at law enforcement.

On Monday, CNN published a photo, taken at the PolyU, of what appears to be a homemade explosive device – a large gas canister rigged with dozens of bolts. The channel could not independently verify whether it was actually a bomb, but police told them the protesters have used gas canisters against them in the past.

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An anti-government protester sets fire to the entrance to Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) to stop police in Hong Kong, China, November 18, 2019.
Protesters set Hong Kong university on FIRE, launch petrol bombs as riot police block campus (VIDEOS)

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‘Stop flexing muscles’: Beijing warns US against ‘intervening’ in South China Sea

China has slammed the US for military “provocations” in the contested waters of the South China Sea and deployed its aircraft carrier there after the Pentagon has beefed up drills in the area.

Beijing “urges the US side to stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and do not provoke and escalate tensions” in the region, Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian told reporters in Bangkok, Thailand on Monday.

Wu reiterated that China considers a US Navy presence in the South China Sea to be an intervention and a threat to its national interest. In September, the Pentagon carried out its first-ever joint military exercise with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional bloc, whose several members are in territorial disputes with Beijing.

Pentagon chief Mark Esper called Chinese activities in the region “a threat… to many Southeast Asian nations,” and slammed Beijing’s territorial claims as “unlawful and unreasonable.”

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FILE PHOTO: Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy soldiers © REUTERS/Stringer
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On Monday, China confirmed that its first domestically-built aircraft carrier, Liaoning, had entered the South China Sea after sailing through the Taiwan Strait. The US and Japanese warships closely followed Liaoning, whose movements also prompted protests from Taipei.

The Chinese military, however, said that the voyage was a routine training mission, “not aimed at any specific target.” The carrier has already embarked on another mission in the area.

Despite exchanging diplomatic jabs, Esper held a short meeting with his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, over the weekend. Both sides agreed to seek dialogue in the future.

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Gunman opens fire during party in Fresno, California, at least 9 shot, some fatally

At least nine people were shot in California after a gunman opened fire at a family gathering, police say. Several people have been killed while others have been taken to hospital in critical condition.

Family and friends were watching football in the backyard when someone started shooting at them. No one has been arrested so far.

The incident took place at about 6pm Sunday (2am GMT Monday) on the city’s southeast side. Police have described it as a “mass casualty shooting.

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US Congress cracks down on ABC News for ‘Epstein coverup’, demands to know WHO killed the story and WHY

In the wake of explosive revelation that ABC News allegedly knew the extent of Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes years ago but chose not to report them, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has demanded answers from the network’s execs.

In his letter to ABC News president James Goldston, McCarthy demanded the names of those involved in the decision not to run the story, as well as their motives. In a video clip leaked earlier this month, ABC News anchor Amy Robach is caught on a “hot mic” speaking to colleagues about the alleged cover-up.

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Jeffrey Epstein; (R) Virginia Roberts (Giuffre) © Reuters / New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and Shannon Stapleton
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“I’ve had this interview with Virginia Roberts…we would not put it on the air,” Robach says about the woman who now three years later publicly accuses Epstein of using her as a sex slave, and pimping her out to his powerful friends, including Britain’s Prince Andrew.

The network rushed to defend its coverage (or lack of thereof), clamming that the story was killed only because their journalists could not corroborate the details – and immediately launched a hunt for the whistleblower who leaked the video to conservative group Project Veritas. McCarthy’s letter, signed by several GOPS and obtained by journalist Megyn Kelly, slammed ABC’s damage control of the situation.

We believe that uncovering the source of the information is incomparably less important than the possibility of exposing the source of a human trafficking operation.

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©  Reuters / Shannon Stapleton;  Reuters / Jim Urquhart
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The lawmakers also want to know what additional information ABC executives may have learned about Epstein following the first interview with the victim – and whether they informed authorities of it at any point.

Who was involved in deciding this story was not of public interest, and what were their reasons for deciding so?

READ MORE: MSM execs part of ‘network of people’ that covered for Epstein – Project Veritas founder to RT

Another question urges Robach to “expand on the ‘outside forces’ she mentioned as potentially responsible for the story not running.” In the clip she said: “First of all, I was told ‘who’s Jeffrey Epstein.’ Then the Palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways.”

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Military impunity system? Pentagon maintains ‘great faith’ in US justice after Trump pardons soldiers accused of war crimes

American soldiers are well trained to never commit war crimes, the Pentagon insists. When they sometimes do, the military always holds them accountable… and then the US president is free to pardon them to boost the morale.

“I have great faith in the military justice system,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters, carefully avoiding any direct mention of Trump’s controversial decision to pardon two Army soldiers charged for war crimes in Afghanistan, and reinstate the rank of a Navy Seal demoted over similar war crimes accusations.

Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are trained from day one about the laws of armed conflict and how to conduct themselves during wartime.

“If they don’t, then the United States military will take action… to make sure that they are held accountable,” Esper claimed.

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FILE PHOTO: US Army soldiers walk through a village during a search for weapons caches and insurgents near Baquba, Iraq, December 15, 2007.
Make Americans exceptional again? Trump trumps Pentagon, pardons 2 soldiers charged with war crimes

The US fiercely defends American soldiers’ immunity from any international or local law, and on Friday Trump demonstrated that even the Pentagon’s rather lenient internal probes and court martials aren’t much to worry about.

Trump intervened in the cases of three men. Former Army 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013 and sentenced to 19 years in the military prison, for ordering his platoon to open fire on two civilians in Afghanistan. The second pardon was granted to Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, who faced court-martial after admitting to killing a freed Afghan prisoner and disposing of the body in a burn pit. The third, Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who stabbed a wounded enemy fighter in the heck with a hunting knife and posed with the corpse, was reinstated in his rank.

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The International Criminal Court building in The Hague, The Netherlands © Reuters / Piroschka Van De Wouw
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The Pentagon failed to explain how exactly mercy in such high-profile war crimes cases sits with the notion of justice, only saying that the US President as “part of the military justice system” has constitutional right to pardon whoever he finds worthy.

While Trump insists his resolution ensures that members of the “most feared fighting force in the world” have even more confidence in battlefields in dozens of countries across the globe, in reality it only creates more enemies for the United States, believes Joe Lombardo from the United National Antiwar Coalition.

“It is a terrible decision, it tells the worlds that that the United States can be lawless with impunity in countries all over the world… How do you think people in other countries feel about this?” he told RT adding however that such position of a global bully is nothing new and was similarly held by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

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Protesters set Hong Kong university on FIRE, pelt petrol bombs as riot police block campus (VIDEOS)

Massive fires raged at the campus of Hong Kong Polytech University, where anti-government protesters have holed up, pelting petrol bombs and fearing an imminent riot police raid amid clashes with authorities.

The campus turned into a battleground between the rioters hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks, and police deploying tear gas and water cannon, as videos from the scene early Monday morning show an inferno rising near the staircase to the building.

Hundreds of protesters, hiding inside the building set the entrance on fire, either on purpose or due to ‘mismanagement’ of petrol bombs, when a police raid seemed imminent.

However, after sealing the campus off to prevent ‘reinforcements’ from reaching the area, and detaining a number of protesters, authorities apparently chose not to storm the building.

Hong Kong authorities warned that unless protesters stop using lethal weapons like Molotov cocktails, police might be forced to resort to live fire.

The flare-up comes after two days of standoff during which protesters threw petrol bombs, stones and javelins – and even shot arrows at police.

Over the weekend, protesters attacked a group of volunteers who tried to help authorities clear the roadblocks and debris outside the PolyU. A man and a woman were hospitalized with head injuries as a result.

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© (L) Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters; (R) Stringer / Hong Kong Police Force / AFP
Hong Kong protesters hurl PETROL BOMBS at volunteers trying to clear roadblocks and shoot ARROWS at police

The PolyU campus became one of the recent hotspots of riots in Hong Kong that started with demonstrations against an extradition law in March. Although the legislation was scrapped, protests went on with violent groups among protesters vandalizing property and attacking citizens who support the government.

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‘Eye of truth will not go blind’ Twitter flashmob in solidarity with Palestinian journo who lost eye to Israeli bullet

Hundreds of pictures showing people covering one eye have emerged on social media in solidarity with journalist Moath Amarneh who was hit by an Israeli rubber bullet despite wearing a ‘Press’ vest.

Moath Amarneh was covering a Palestinian protest against the latest confiscation of land for the construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied territory on Friday near the town of Surif in Hebron when he was hit in the face.

He was rushed to a hospital, but doctors could not save his eye.The incident has been condemned by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a global advocacy group aiming to safeguard media freedom.

Amid speculations that media might have been targeted on purpose, Israel has so far not reacted to the incident.But many people across the Middle East and beyond did, sharing photos on social networks showing them covering one of their eyes with a hand or a piece of cloth.

The campaign was launched by Palestinian journalists, who also held rallies in his support on Saturday. Yet, it was soon joined by people from other parts of the world.

Some people just offered their condolences to the injured journalist by saying that they feel his pain. They expressed their solidarity with him by saying: ‘We are all Moath Amarneh.’

Others sought to draw attention to Israeli violations against Palestinians and journalists in particular. Many posts read: “You cannot close the eye of truth” or “The eye of truth cannot go blind.”

Fox News Middle East Senior Field Producer Yonat friling was among those, who joined the flashmob.

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ATP Finals: Stefanos Tsitsipas defies history to capture end-of-year title (VIDEO)

Stefanos Tsitsipas tore up the history book to capture the ATP Final in London after a superb come-from-behind performance against Dominic Thiem at The O2 Arena.

The player who takes the first set has won the ATP Finals tournament every year since 2006, but Greek star Tsitsipas put a stop to that stat as he came from one set down to defeat Thiem and win the prestigious end-of-year tournament.

The tournament features the world’s top eight players and, after a series of shock results saw the “Big Three” of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer exit the tournament.

And in the final between two of the unfancied stars of the lineup, it was Tsitsipas – who stunned Federer in the semis – whose form held at the crucial moments as he came from a set down to claim the title.

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© AFP / Daniel Leal-Olivas
ATP Finals: Greek ace Stefanos Tsitsipas stuns Roger Federer to reach London final (VIDEO)

Austria’s Thiem grabbed the early advantage after a slugfest of an opening set that saw the players go virtually shot-for-shot.

Both players delivered entertaining, aggressive tennis through the first set as the action went all the way to a first-set tiebreak.

Thiem saved a Tsitsipas set point before turning the tables on the Greek star by taking advantage of a short second serve to convert a set point of his own and claim the first set 7-6.

Tsitsipas came storming back in the second set and broke Thiem in the first game. Then he doubled up to put himself in a strong position to close out the set which he duly did, as he ran out the second set winner, 6-2.

And, after the deciding set went all the way to another nail-biting tiebreak, it looked like Tsitsipas had a clear run to victory after surging into a 4-1 lead. But Thiem battled back to 4-4 only to hit a routine forehand long and hand the Greek a chance to serve out the match.

Tsitsipas kept his nerve and finished the job to win the tiebreak 7-4 and claim the come-from-behind victory 6-7, 6-2, 7-6.

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© Reuters / Tony O'Brien
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