Eco activists target 500-year-old painting

The protesters glued themselves onto the frame of a copy of Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ to demonstrate against fossil fuels

Five protesters glued their hands onto the frame of a 500-year-old reproduction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ in London on Tuesday, in what they called “an act of civil resistance” against fossil fuels. 

The five activists entered the Royal Academy of Arts on Tuesday morning and spray-painted “No new oil” beneath the 20-foot (six-meter) painting, and glued their hands onto its frame. Security guards cleared visitors away before attempting to unstick the eco-warriors, the Daily Mail reported.

The activists’ organization, Just Stop Oil, said in a press release that they were “calling for the government to commit to immediately halt new oil and gas licenses in the UK,” and for art institutions like the Royal Academy to join their “peaceful civil resistance.”

Painted by Giampietrino circa 1520, the painting in question is a full-scale copy of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, depicting the biblical scene in which Jesus tells his twelve apostles that a member of the group will betray him. Its value is thought to be in the tens of millions of dollars, as Da Vinci’s original, located in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, is estimated to be worth at least $450 million.

Just Stop Oil states on its website that it is funded by members of the public and some unnamed “foundations and groups.”

Inspired by the sticky protests of their fellow climate activists at the Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil’s members have targeted a number of precious works of art in recent days.

Two activists glued themselves to the frame of John Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’ at the National Gallery on Monday and draped the painting in a polluted and dystopian reimagining of the 1821 classic. The gallery said the surface varnish and frame of the painting suffered minor damage. 

The same activist group disrupted the British Grand Prix over the weekend, and last week glued themselves to paintings in London, Glasgow, and Manchester, including Vincent Van Gogh’s famous ‘Peach Trees in Blossom’.

The protests come as Britons struggle with record high fuel prices, and face rising energy costs this winter. Market instability over the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the UK government’s decision to voluntarily cut itself off from Russian oil and gas, has contributed to the spiraling fuel costs.

UK mulls crackdown on social media

London wants websites to “proactively” tackle would-be disinformation from states such as Russia

London has proposed new legislation that would require social media to “proactively” tackle “disinformation” that allegedly pours into the UK from foreign states such as Russia and harms the nation, the government said on Tuesday. Platforms failing to do so will be subject to huge fines or could be blocked

The legislation, which is subject to parliamentary approval, would oblige social media platforms to hunt down what the government believes to be fake accounts that act in the interests of foreign states and seek to influence UK politics, including elections.

The new amendment will also compel social media, search engines and other websites to crack down on such accounts in order to minimize the number of people exposed to “state-sponsored disinformation.”

“We cannot allow foreign states or their puppets to use the internet to conduct hostile online warfare unimpeded,” said Nadine Dorries, the UK culture and digital secretary, pointing out that the Ukraine conflict has shown that Russia is ready to weaponize information.

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FILE PHOTO.
West has ‘buried’ freedom of speech – Moscow

According to the proposed law, social media will have to make creating fake accounts more difficult and will also need to fight bots used for misleading the public. Ofcom, the British media regulator, will have the authority to fine any internet resources that don’t comply up to 10% of their global turnover.

The amendment is set be included in the National Security Bill, which will be discussed by British MPs next week.

This latest move by the UK government would directly target, for instance, the Russian pranksters known as Vovan and Lexus, who had pulled a stunt on UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel. As a result, their channel was banned by YouTube in late May.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized the West for harassment of Russian journalists, saying that Western countries have “buried the freedom of speech with their own hands.” In his view, Western governments intentionally create their own laws allowing them to decide what is “freedom of information” and what is “propaganda.”

McGregor makes Khabib whiskey jibe after Hall of Fame induction

The Irishman used the occasion to take a shot at his former UFC foe

Notorious Irishman Conor McGregor has fired an alcohol-themed social media shot at former rival Khabib Nurmagomedov after the Russian former lightweight champion was inducted into the UFC’s Hall of Fame.

Khabib was honored for his undefeated career at a ceremony at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas last week, achieving HOF status alongside teammate and friend Daniel Cormier.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, the Russian former UFC lightweight king revealed that the highlight of his career had been his fourth-round submission victory over McGregor in the same Las Vegas venue as the awards.

“Biggest fight in MMA history. I’m very happy I win this fight. I can lose any of my fights. But no way this fight,” said the Dagestani of the bitter grudge match with McGregor which ended with Khabib vaulting the cage and sparking a mass brawl with members of the Irishman’s team.

READ MORE: Khabib reveals best career moment as star enters UFC Hall of Fame

Rarely one to miss the chance of a potshot, McGregor took to social media on Tuesday to ridicule the Hall of Fame ceremony, sharing a mock image of himself superimposed on that of Khabib.

A large logo of McGregor’s ‘Proper Twelve’ whiskey brand was added, while the former two-weight UFC champ brandished two bottles of alcohol.

“Proper Twelve, proud maker of the UFC HOF show! Call me the HOFF,” McGregor wrote in the caption.

© Twitter @thenotoriousmma

The Irishman added that he was “looking forward” to his own Hall of Fame induction, claiming he was a “shoe in [sic]” for the accolade. He also issued a goading message of his brawl with members of Khabib’s team in the Octagon after their fight.  

© Twitter @thenotoriousmma
© Twitter @thenotoriousmma

McGregor has been accused of being particularly disrespectful towards Khabib in the past by using alcohol to taunt the devout Muslim.

McGregor waved a glass of whiskey in Khabib’s direction at a New York press conference in the build-up to their UFC 229 showdown, labeling the Russian a “backwards c**t” when he declined the offer of a drink.

‘The Eagle’ went on to demolish McGregor in what was his first title defense, although the bad blood has simmered ever since.

Khabib, 33, later defeated Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje before retiring with an unblemished 29-0 record following the death of his father and mentor Abdulmanap with complications stemming from a Covid-19 infection.

The defeat to Khabib was one of three losses in McGregor’s last four Octagon outings, including back-to-back defeats to Poirier.

The Irishman, 33, is slowly stepping up his preparations for a comeback following a horrific leg break in his last defeat to Poirier at UFC 264 in July 2021.

Sidelined from action, McGregor’s social media output continues to mix insults directed at his rivals with training footage and flashy displays of his wealth.

UFC boss Dana White has signaled McGregor could return later in 2022 or in early 2023, with recently stripped lightweight champion Charles Oliveira saying he would be keen to welcome him back in a lucrative payday for the Brazilian against the UFC’s cash cow.  

READ MORE: UFC rival wants McGregor fight ‘before he overdoses on cocaine’

Energy crunch pushing European gas prices higher

A strike in Norway is adding to the Russian supply crisis

Natural gas prices in Europe rose to the highest level in almost four months on Tuesday as the continent’s energy crisis intensifies.

Benchmark futures tied to TTF, the European wholesale gas price, jumped 8% to over $1,800 per thousand cubic meters or €175 per megawatt hour in household terms. That is the highest level since the beginning of March and five times more than it was this time last year. 

The prices jumped as oil and gas workers in Norway, Europe’s second-biggest supplier after Russia, went on strike over pay. According to Reuters, the industrial action could cut the country’s gas exports by almost 60% over the course of this week.

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Record drop in Russian gas supply to EU predicted

This comes as uncertainty grows over the gas flow to Europe from Russia. Last month, Gazprom slashed its supplies via the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany, citing technical issues stemming from Ukraine-related sanctions. The pipeline is also due to close for its annual 10-day maintenance next week, with many in the EU fearing that the gas flow will not be turned back on.

On March 7, two weeks after the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, gas prices in Europe reached a historic maximum of $3,900 per thousand cubic meters.

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

Moscow snubs UK embassy

A previously unnamed square in front of the British mission has been named after the Lugansk People’s Republic

British diplomats stationed in Moscow will now come to work at the UK embassy through a square named after the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s office confirmed the move on Tuesday.

The UK has been a vocal supporter of Kiev and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the Ukrainian government against resolving the conflict with Russia with what he termed as a “bad peace.”

LPR militias have been fighting alongside Russian troops since the beginning of the offensive in late February. On Sunday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that the last remnants of Ukrainian forces had been driven out of the republic.

Authorities in Moscow previously renamed a square, where the American embassy is located, after the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). 

The Mayor’s office had several possible options for a location named after LPR – all of them linked to Western embassies. In an online poll, 57% chose Britain rather than Germany, Lithuania or Belgium.

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A view of the square where US Embassy building is located in Moscow, Russia on June 22, 2022. © Evgenii Bugubaev / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
US Embassy reacts to Donbass-themed address change

It was not immediately clear if the British embassy’s address will be changed accordingly. It is currently listed as Smolenskaya Naberezhnaya 10, after the closest embankment.

In March, UK activists called to rename Kensington Palace Gardens in London, where the Russian embassy is located, in honor of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The local council, however, suggested that Ukraine needed non-symbolic gestures from Britain. 

A section of Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, DC closest to the Russian embassy in the US was renamed Boris Nemtsov Plaza in 2018. Nemtsov was a Russian opposition politician, who was assassinated in central Moscow in 2015. His killers were found and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, but the person who ordered the hit was never identified.

The US Embassy in Moscow has removed its old address from its website, but without indicating the new ‘DPR Square’ address

Passenger jet flies for 14 hours with huge hole

The pilots of the Airbus A380 passenger jet flying from Dubai to Brisbane only noticed the damage once they landed

The pilots and passengers of an Emirates flight from Dubai to Brisbane, Australia were surprised to find that they made the 14-hour journey with a massive hole in the side of the Airbus A380 they were traveling on.

According to the Aviation Herald, which tracks airline safety incidents, the crew and passengers of Friday’s flight EK-430 reported a loud bang roughly 45 minutes after the plane took off from Dubai’s main airport. The pilots believed that one of the plane’s tires may have blown and alerted air traffic control in Brisbane, requesting emergency services be on standby.

After the plane successfully landed and the passengers made their way off the aircraft, engineers found a large gaping hole in the left-hand wing root fairing.

Emirates later explained to The Independent that the incident was the result of one of the A380’s 22 tires experiencing a technical fault during takeoff. The tire ruptured and damaged a “small portion of the aerodynamic fairing, which is an outer panel or the skin of the aircraft,” an Emirates spokesperson told the outlet. He noted that there was no “impact on the fuselage, frame or structure of the aircraft” as a result of the incident.

“The aircraft landed safely in Brisbane and all passengers disembarked as scheduled,” the spokesperson said.

According to the airline, the passenger jet has already been completely fixed and its fairing replaced, checked, and cleared by engineers and all other relevant authorities. The A380 made its way back to Dubai on Sunday.

The A380 is considered the world’s biggest passenger plane. However, as noted by The Independent, it has somewhat fallen out of favor in recent years due to the pandemic. The model looks set to make a return to the skies as some airlines, including Qantas and Singapore Airlines, have announced they will be returning it back to service to cope with the recent surge in travel demand following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions around the world.

White Sox cancel fireworks after July 4 shooting spree

Six people were killed and 30 left injured by the shootings

MLB team the Chicago White Sox contacted the league about postponing their meeting with the Minnesota Twins after a gunman opened fire on a July 4 Independence Day parade on Monday, killing six people. 

While the game still went ahead and on time, a fireworks show scheduled for its conclusion had to be canceled.

Furthermore, a moment of silence was held before the first pitch was thrown in the eventual 6-3 victory for the Twins. 

In a statement, the White Sox said their hearts were with the Highland Park community where the attack took place. Robert E. Crimo III, 21, has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the horrific incident. 

“The entire Chicago White Sox organization expresses our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the innocent victims of today’s horrific shooting and all of those who have been affected by this tragedy,” the franchise said.

Authorities say that Crimo opened fire on the parade in the Highland Park community at around 10:15 local time when it was about three quarters of the way through.

This sent hundreds of marchers, children on bicycles and parents with babies in pushchairs fleeing for safety, and Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli claimed that Crimo used a now-recovered “high-powered rifle” to fire from a secluded spot on top of him a commercial building which made him “very difficult to see”.

Members of the White Sox organization criticized how easy it is to obtain such firearms and the frequency with which mass shootings are occurring in the US as of late with a further 30 people injured in Highland Park.

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Screenshot © TikTok / @leonarcos11
Shooting at Independence Day parade in US (VIDEO)

“I think the access to the weaponry that is being used… something needs to change,” demanded White Sox player Liam Hendriks. “Something needs to be done, something needs to happen. Because it’s way too many people losing their lives.

“It’s not only about the people that are losing their lives, it’s the families of them. It’s the tragedy that they go through as an entire community, when people are concerned about leaving the house, concerned about doing the day-to-day things of going to work or any number of these things,” Hendriks continued. 

“We really need to reflect on what’s going on. I don’t think enough is being done.”

“Unfortunately, it’s almost daily,” remarked White Sox manager Tony La Russa. “Way too frequently.

“Even when there’s an explanation, there’s no explanation. It doesn’t make sense.”

A close-knit community on Lake Michigan, Highland Park was once home to basketball legend Michael Jordan when he played for the Chicago Bills, with the NBA franchise also remarking on the tragedy.

“What happened today in Highland Park was horrifying and senseless,” said the Bulls in their own statement.

“Over the years, Highland Park has been home to many members of Bulls nation, including a number of Bulls players and staff. Our connection with the community is personal, and it holds a particularly special place in our heart. We are grieving with the community and everyone affected, and we support them as we all mourn this tragedy,” the Bulls continued.

The Bulls also said that gun violence “inflicts pain on our friends, neighbors, families, businesses, and communities”, with the Highland Park incident a situation “one that we’ve been in too many times” while “saying what feels like the same words and expressing the same sentiments”.

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© Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Baseball manager will refuse to come out for US national anthem

The team vowed to commit to change and use its resources to solve an “epidemic of gun violence”, as the White Sox’s rivals the Chicago Cubs said they were “heartbroken and grief-stricken” by the violence.

In American football, the Chicago Bears branded the shooting “senseless and disgraceful” and hockey side the Chicago Blackhawks stressed that “everyone deserves to feel safe where they live, work and play”, which is why such shootings “simply cannot be accepted as commonplace”.

Elsewhere in Chicago and Illinois, several nearby town and cities canceled events which often included parades and fireworks.

EU power prices hit all-time high – FT

Electricity prices have quadrupled due to soaring gas costs, the Financial Times reports

Electricity prices in Europe have hit their highest level on record, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing the rising cost of natural gas amid the uncertainty over Russian supplies.

German baseload power for delivery next year, which is the benchmark European price, traded at €325 ($334) per megawatt hour (MWh) on Monday, thus surpassing the previous record set in December, the newspaper writes. Last July, the price stood at just over €81 ($83) per megawatt hour. The equivalent contract in France has doubled to €366 ($377) per MWh since the start of the year, the FT adds.

Electricity prices are influenced by the cost of natural gas, which is used to generate power. Gas prices in Europe exceeded $1,800 per thousand cubic meters for the first time since early March on Tuesday, as oil and gas workers in Norway have gone on strike over pay, thus affecting output.

According to the FT, the situation has been exacerbated by maintenance problems at a large number of France’s nuclear plants, due to which neighboring countries have been burning additional gas to generate electricity for the country.

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Record drop in Russian gas supply to EU predicted

Also, the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany is scheduled to close for maintenance next week. Moscow already had to reduce the flow via the pipeline by 60% last month over technical issues caused by Western sanctions, but many in the EU fear that after the planned shutdown the gas flow will not be switched back on.

Germany triggered the second stage of its three-level emergency plan last month. The third stage would require the rationing of gas to households and industrial sites. A housing cooperative in Saxony has already reportedly introduced hot-water rationing, with similar warnings issued in Hamburg as well.

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

Russia warns West about fate of weapons sent to Ukraine

A large amount of arms have ended up in the Middle East and on the black market, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has claimed

Some of the weapons sent by the West to Ukraine have failed to reach their intended destination and may fuel conflict further afield, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu warned on Tuesday

Speaking at a ministry meeting, Shoigu said “the collective West, in hopes of dragging out the conflict in Ukraine, continues large-scale arms supplies to the Kiev regime.”

More than 28,000 tons of military cargo have already been delivered to the country,” the defense minister revealed.

However, according to the Russian military’s information, “some of the foreign weapons supplied by the West to Ukraine are spreading throughout the Middle East region, and also end up on the black market,” Shoigu said.

The minister’s remarks came soon after an RT Russian investigation revealed that deliveries of lethal aid from the US, UK, and other NATO countries to Ukraine led to the appearance of dark web marketplaces, where some of the weapons can be purchased.

The Ukrainian traders claim to offer not just small arms or body armor, but also sophisticated hardware such as Javelin and NLAW anti-tank systems, and Phoenix Ghost and Switchblade explosive drones. However, it cannot be completely ruled out that the sellers do not actually have the weapons in stock, as the RT investigators did not complete any purchases. 

Late last month, the G7 countries pledged to provide support to Ukraine in all possible forms “for as long as it takes.” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron stressed that their countries would continue to supply weapons to Kiev in order to “strengthen their hand in both the war and any future negotiations.”

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Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces examine new Western armament, including NLAW anti-tank systems. © AFP / Genya Savilov
Western arms supplied to Ukraine offered on darknet – RT investigation

Last month, the head of Interpol, Jurgen Stock, warned that the conflict in Ukraine will result in numerous weapons appearing on the black market.

In April, a US official told CNN that the White House has “almost zero” ability to track the weapons it sends to Ukraine.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in May that he discussed the importance of tracking and safeguarding the US-supplied arms with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov, who assured him that they are keeping an eye on them.

Moscow has warned against supplying Western weapons to Ukraine, arguing that it only prolongs the fighting, while increasing the risk of a direct military confrontation between Russia and NATO. Russia also made it clear that its forces would consider any foreign weaponry on Ukrainian territory to be legitimate targets.

Hockey veteran denies Russian move after backlash in homeland

Miks Indrasis claimed he had not signed a contract with Spartak Moscow, despite the Russian club insisting otherwise

Russian ice hockey team Spartak Moscow have said they are set for a legal battle with Latvian star Miks Indrasis after he claimed he had not signed for the team, despite reports to the contrary.

Spartak announced at the end of June that they had signed a one-year deal with Indrasis, who has represented the Latvian national team for the past decade.

The news triggered an outcry in Indrasis’ homeland, where the state parliament declared back in April that any Latvian athletes who appear for Russian teams would be banned from representing their country.

But taking to social media on Tuesday, the 31-year-old Indrasis denied that he had entered into a contract with Spartak.

“The information published by Spartak Moscow about me joining this club is not true, I have no valid contract with this club!” wrote the veteran winger.

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Miks Indrasis is a veteran of the Latvian national team. © RvS.Media / Monika Majer / Getty Images
Foreign hockey stars face threats after new Russian contracts

“Quite the opposite – I have an existing contract with another team. Spartak is unhappy with my refusal to play in Russia, so this is their behavior!” added Indrasis.

The player said he “condemns” Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

“I am a Latvian patriot and my attitude to my country has always been expressed in the [sports arena], wearing the shirt in nine consecutive World Championships!” said Indrasis, also hitting out at the social media backlash he had faced in recent days.

Spartak have responded to Indrasis’ claims by insisting they do have a valid contract with him, suggesting the matter would be settled by lawyers.

“The contract between Spartak and the striker of the Latvian national team Miks Indrasis was signed in accordance with the regulations and registered with the KHL [Kontinental Hockey League] Central Information Bureau,” read a statement from the team.

“All KHL contracts are recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and must be executed. The question of the current contract between Spartak and Miks Indrasis will be decided in the legal field, and not in the public space.

“If the player decides not to fulfill the terms of the contract, he must pay compensation to the club in accordance with the KHL regulations,” it added.

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Finland's Mikko Lehtonen plays in St. Petersburg. © Maksim Konstantinov / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
Russia-based hockey players to be banned from national teams

Indrasis has previously played for Russian teams Dynamo Moscow, Vityaz and Admiral Vladivostok. He spent the end of last season at EHC Biel in the Swiss National League.

Latvia is not the only country to attempt to dissuade its hockey stars from playing for Russian teams.

The Swedish and Finnish hockey authorities have both said they will not consider players for national team selection if they decide to sign new deals with clubs in Russia.

That stance could affect Swedish defenseman Robin Press, who recently extended his contract with Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL.

The KHL will also lose teams from Finland and Latvia next season, after Helsinki’s Jokerit and Dinamo Riga both withdrew from the Russia-based league because of the conflict in Ukraine.

At a diplomatic level, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto recently told the media in Italy that he would no longer consider playing hockey with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, with the pair having previously taken to the ice together back in 2012.

READ MORE: Kremlin comments after European leader vows no more hockey with Putin