Plumes of black smoke as fire breaks out in central Moscow high-rise

A fire has broken out in a high-rise building under reconstruction on a major street in central Moscow, The Emergencies Ministry reports. The fire started on the seventh floor of the building and has reportedly engulfed about 200 square meters.

Emergency services were notified about the incident at around 10:35am local time.

The high-rise building on Novy Arbat, a six-lane avenue running through downtown Moscow, is under renovation.

Moscow’s branch of the Emergencies Ministry reported there has been no information on any injured.

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R. Kelly Neighbors Deny Turning Blind Eye, No Signs of Alleged 'Cult' of Young Women

R. Kelly Neighbors Pissed at ‘Cult’ AllegationWe Didn’t Turn a Blind Eye

7/18/2017 1:00 AM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

R. Kelly‘s Georgia crib was more of a party house than the home base of an abusive cult … according to neighbors who are shocked at claims the singer was holding women against their will.

Neighbors inside the gated Duluth, GA community tell us they were aware of “a bunch” of women coming and going, but say nothing seemed untoward at the rented home. The women were clearly partying with Kelly and his crew, but seemed to come and go as they pleased.

We’re told R. Kelly and his crew would show up every few months and stay less than a week. Neighbors mostly saw the women heading out to party, returning late at night … and getting food deliveries.

It’s not like they were afraid of confronting Kelly either — one neighbor told us they had a problem with his big SUV limo blocking the street when he was in town, and complained about it. We’re told they would absolutely have reported it if they’d seen evidence of the new explosive allegations.

The house in question has been vacant for several months.


TMZ.com

Afghanistan civilian deaths hit record highs as US airstrikes reach 2012 levels

The US Air Force has used the same number of munitions in the first half of 2017 as they used at the same point in 2012. At the same time, the number of missions has decreased and the number of civilian deaths has increased.

The US and coalition forces have expended 1,634 munitions in Afghanistan from January 1 to June 30, according to numbers from the US Air Force. By comparison, the Air Force had expended 545 munitions by the end of June 2016 and only 298 by the end of June 2015.

In total, the US released more munitions in the first six months of this year than all of the previous year.

In the first half of this year, the Air Force  conducted 2,049 sorties and 513 releasing at least one weapon so far this year. By comparison, there were 28,760 sorties recorded in 2012, with 1,975 of them reported to have released at least one weapon.

By the end of 2012, there were 4,083 munitions released, according to the Air Force data.

Many of the munitions released in 2017 were fired by the Afghan Air Forces (AAF) which the US Air Force is advising, according to the unclassified report from the USAF.

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US Defense Secretary James Mattis (R) and U.S. Army General John Nicholson (L) © Jonathan Ernst

The report states that the AAF has repaired and recovered battle damaged helicopters and conducted their first operational airdrop, delivering food to troops.

The last time the US Air Force expended munitions at this level was in 2012. At the time, there were nearly 50,000 US soldiers in the country, compared to the 9,800 US troops estimated to be stationed there now.

In June, President Donald Trump authorized the Pentagon, headed by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, to set the number of US forces in Afghanistan. Mattis reportedly plans to deploy an additional 4,000 troops to the war-torn country, signaling the largest troop increase since Trump took office.

report released Monday by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also documented an increase in the number of civilian casualties resulting from aerial operations during the first half of 2017.

So far this year, there have been 232 civilian casualties reported, a 43 percent increase compared to the first six months of 2016, when 162 civilian casualties were reported.

Of the 232 casualties, 114 were attributed to 19 operations carried out by the AFF.

“Each one of these casualty figures reflects a broken family, unimaginable trauma and suffering, and the brutal violation of people’s human rights,”  Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

“Many Afghan civilians are suffering psychological trauma, having lost family and friends, and are living in fear knowing the risks they face as they go about their daily lives. Many more have been forced from their homes and suffered lasting damage to their health, education and livelihoods. The continuing national tragedy of Afghanistan must not be overlooked,”  Al Hussein said.

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Irina Shayk Shows Off Her Baby with Bradley Cooper

Irina ShaykMy Baby’s Camera Ready …Just Like Her Parents!

7/17/2017 1:32 PM PDT

Irina Shayk and Bradley Cooper‘s baby girl is showing off her genes.

While Bradley was taking in Roger Federer‘s Wimbeldon victory, Irina and 4-month-old Lea de Seine got in their own sports action in L.A. with a hike. Well, Mom did the hiking, Lea was just the super cute window dressing.

This is our first glimpse of the infant, and can’t say we’re too surprised at her adorableness. As they say … consider the source.


TMZ.com

Egypt revokes visa-free travel to Qatar nationals as Turkey sends more troops

Egypt has scrapped visa free travel for Qatari nationals amid the ongoing diplomatic crisis between Qatar and four Arab nations. Turkey has meanwhile pledged to ramp up deployment of its troops in Qatar despite the quartet’s calls for them to be expelled.

Egypt announced Monday that it will suspend visa-free travel to Qatari nationals, the latest punitive measure introduced against Doha for its alleged support of terrorism and meddling in the domestic affairs of other nations.

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© Fadi Al-Assaad

The introduction of the new visa regime, confirmed by Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, will however, not affect Qatari students studying at Egyptian universities or spouses and children of Egyptian nationals, Cairo said.

“It does not make sense to keep making exceptions for Qatar and giving it privileges in light of its current positions,” Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said Monday, according to Reuters.

According to reports, the new travel ban could take effect as early as Wednesday. The additional punitive measure by Egypt was introduced after Qatar rejected the 13-point ultimatum issued by the four Arab nations, which, among other demands, includes stopping aid for extremist groups, expelling the Turkish military from the country and shutting down Qatar’s Al Jazeera global TV network.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told the visiting mediating emissary, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Saba, that Cairo will continue to stand firm against Qatar’s policies which support terrorism.

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Qarqash, said the sanctions imposed by the UAE and its allies against Doha are working. He also called for the creation of an international monitoring group to ensure that Qatar refrains from supporting terrorism.

“We need to be certain that Qatar, a state with $ 300bn in reserves, is no longer an official or unofficial sponsor of jihadist and terrorist causes,” the minister said in a statement delivered Monday in London.

“We need a regional solution and international monitoring,” Qarqash added, without elaborating further on the proposed mechanism.

Earlier, Doha accused the UAE of hacking Qatar’s state news agency in late May and setting off the diplomatic crisis.

Read more

Turkish APC drives at their military base in Doha, Qatar June 18, 2017. © Qatar News Agency

While the Arab quartet continues to pressure Qatar, its ally in the conflict, Turkey, remains firm in its support of the besieged kingdom. Ankara said it will continue to build up its military presence in Qatar despite the demand that Doha cease such cooperation.

“Turkey’s steady buildup continues there, protecting the border and the security of the Qatari government,” Ilnur Cevik, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Bloomberg Monday.

At the onset of the Gulf crisis, Ankara rushed through two security agreements with Doha that were signed in December 2015 and April 2016. Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper reported that additional Turkish troops continue to arrive in Qatar.

So far, all efforts by the international community to resolve the crisis have produced little, if any tangible results. In the latest bid to end the stalemate, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced that she will travel to Kuwait Sunday.

Mogherini’s intervention follows similar attempts by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. His visit was preceded by that of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

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Texas ex-officer indicted for killing teen at party

A white former police officer in Texas has been formally indicted on murder charges over the killing of a black teen who was leaving a party. The case is certain to reignite debate on race relations and controversial police tactics in the US.

The incident occurred in April when Jordan Edwards, 15, was shot and killed by former Balch Springs police officer, Roy Oliver, 37. 

On Monday, Oliver was indicted on four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public official. The charges are related to four other teens, including two of Edwards’ brothers, who were in a car with him while leaving the party, according to Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson, the Associated Press reported.

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Roy Oliver © arker County Sheriff's Office

The police arrived at the party responding to a call of underage drinking. Once inside the home, officers heard gunshots. This is when Oliver reacted and made the decision to use his gun, BBC News reported.

The fatal rifle shot fired by Oliver entered Edwards’ head as the teens were driving away from the party, a police body camera revealed. Oliver was charged with murder by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department in May, a week after shooting the teen. He then turned himself in and posted bond.

Lee Merit, the Edwards family’s attorney, welcomed the indictment but said only a long sentence will be acceptable.

“One step on the road to justice,” he said describing Monday’s outcome. “We’re looking forward to a conviction and proper sentencing.” He added that anything besides serious jail time would be inadequate.

During a news conference, DA Johnson promised to prosecute the case thoroughly and praised the speed of the prosecution. 

“This is the very first time we have issued an arrest warrant for a police officer before the case was presented to the grand jury,” Johnson said, according to the AP. 

Johnson went on to praise the efficiency of the attorney’s office in handling the case.

“It is important to let our community know that justice is proceeding effectively and thoroughly at the Dallas County District Attorney’s office,” she said, Reuters reported.

This isn’t the first time that Oliver has had a run in with the law.

In an unrelated incident that occurred two weeks before he shot Edwards, Oliver was accused of brandishing his gun when a car rear-ended his vehicle while he was off-duty. A police report shows that he pulled his gun out and kept it pointed at the ground, AP reported.

A Dallas officer who responded to the call, didn’t file any charges. Prosecutors eventually filed charges against Oliver and said the event “showed a pattern of behavior.”

Another attorney for the Edwards family, Jasmine Crockett, said the two separate cases against Oliver will be “too much to overcome,” AP reported.

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Aaron Carter Arrest, Cops Say He Was Driving and Bombed Field Sobriety Test

Aaron CarterHe WAS Driving and Bombed Field Sobriety Test … Cops Say

7/17/2017 1:42 PM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

Aaron Carter was spotted behind the wheel — despite his claims — before cops busted him … this according to the police report.  

TMZ obtained the report, which contradicts Aaron’s claim that cops never saw him driving, and therefore shouldn’t have arrested him for DUI refusal in Cornelia, Georgia.

In the docs, a Habersham County Sheriff’s deputy says he saw Aaron pull into the AutoZone parking lot after an alert went out for someone “driving all over the road and running into the median,” in a white Chevy Suburban with no tags.

Aaron’s rep says “the car was swerving because it was out of alignment not because he was drunk.”

The deputy then approached him and observed his “eyes to be blood shot and watery with a glazed look to them.” Aaron’s girlfriend, cops say, then started acting belligerent.

During field sobriety testing, cops say Aaron talked to himself, lost his balance, swayed and had trouble tracking movement with his eyes.

Cops also say they observed “body tremors” in his legs and arms before he was arrested.


TMZ.com

US court upholds ‘gag’ rules on surveillance of social media users

Privacy advocates suffered a stinging defeat by a federal appeals court which ruled in favor of the FBI’s nondisclosure surveillance requests enforced on social media and tech companies.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reached a unanimous decision and ruled against privacy advocates while agreeing with a lower court ruling that the FBI, using gag orders, may issue secret national security letters requesting customer data.

Credo Mobile, a phone network operator, and CloudFare, a content distributor, had sued for the right to notify their customers of five national security letters (NSL’s) sent between 2011 and 2013.

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© Jochen Tack / Global Look Press

The ruling stated that this does not violate free speech protections in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The NSL’s act as subpoenas and, in this case, were for the purpose of obtaining customer data. A gag order is usually imposed as well, which facilitates a search without a warrant, all while the customer is unaware that the service provider is legally silenced. Tens of thousands of NSL’s are sent out annually and some of the gag orders do not expire, according to Reuters.

Judge Sandra Ikuta stated that the gag orders are of compelling US government interest, allow for appropriate judicial review and are sufficiently narrow. She said when changes to the law were authorized by Congress in 2015, more oversight was allotted to the issue of NSL’s, according to court documents.

There were no plans to appeal to the US Supreme Court as yet, said Andrew Crocker, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation who represented the companies in this case, Reuters reported.

Many civil and privacy rights organizations have joined with tech companies to challenge the policy.

In a separate case that is closed to the public, Facebook is disputing a ruling from the Washington DC Court of Appeals which prohibits the company from informing users when law enforcement is requesting information on them, particularly of a user’s political affiliation and their online commentary.

READ MORE: Microsoft bombarded with record number of US foreign intelligence requests in 2016

Even though the case is shrouded in secrecy, the timing of it, coupled with the references in public court documents, shows the inquiries may be related to people who looked to disrupt the inauguration of President Donald Trump. More than 200 people were charged with rioting, during the swearing in ceremony.

The social media giant says the gag order violates the First Amendment protections of the user as well as the company. The FBI search warrant seeks “all contents of communications, identifying information and other records” the Washington Post reported.

A decision by a DC court earlier this year opened the door for Facebook to team up with similar companies to strengthen their case.

A DC superior court judge in April denied a request by Facebook to abolish the gag order and told the tech firm to hand over the information the government was seeking.

Facebook appealed the decision and the court allowed them to share some details related to the case for legal reasons and to gain support from other companies. Many other companies have since signed on to back Facebook in the legal battle, according to the Washington Post.

Facebook has reported that in the last six months of 2016, there were almost 41,000 requests by the government for information. The company said they provided some of the data in question for 83 percent of the cases, the Post reported.

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Justin Timberlake Goes 'Lion King' On Random Baby at Golf Tourney

Justin TimberlakeGoes ‘Lion King’ On Random Baby … At Golf Tourney

7/17/2017 3:33 PM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

Throw Justin Timberlake‘s name in the hat to play Rafiki in the live-action ‘Lion King’ flick — ’cause he executed the Simba lift on a baby to perfection at a golf tourney … and TMZ Sports has the video. 

JT and Steph Curry were in between holes at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Tahoe this weekend — when a new dad (who happens to be a military vet) asked the guys to take a pic with his kid!

Timberlake obliged and held up the baby for all to see … while Steph busted out the “Circle of Life” intro.

Speaking of ‘Lion King,’ Donald Glover is playing Simba in the new movie … how awesome is that?! 


TMZ.com

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