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Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny back in court for appeal

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Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny back in court for appeal

MOSCOW – Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny returned to court on Saturday to hear his lawyers appeal against what they say was a politically-motivated decision to jail him for nearly three years.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was jailed earlier this month for parole violations he said were trumped up. The West has condemned the case and is discussing possible sanctions on Russia.

As proceedings got underway, a relaxed-looking Navalny said he had heard about a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights asking Russia to free him, a request that Moscow swiftly dismissed as unlawful.

Speaking from a glass courtroom cage, wearing green trousers and a patterned shirt, Navalny told the presiding judge it would be good if the court would now let him go.

Later on Saturday, he is due to appear in court again for what is expected to be the culmination of a separate slander trial against him.

In the slander case, Navalny stands accused of defaming a World War Two veteran who took part in a promotional video backing constitutional reforms last year that let Putin run for two more terms in the Kremlin after 2024 if he wants.

Navalny, who returned to Russia last month from Germany, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal poisoning with a military-grade nerve toxin in Siberia, described the people in the video as traitors and corrupt lackeys.

He has said his comment was not specifically directed against the veteran however, and that the authorities are using the charge to smear his reputation.

State prosecutors have asked the court to fine Navalny $12,800 for slander.

Navalny’s arrest and jailing sparked nationwide street protests in Russia, but his allies say they have now paused serious demonstrations until the spring.

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Video shows small plane collide with Lexus on CA highway

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Video shows small plane collide with Lexus on CA highway

Wild footage shows a small single-engine jet make an emergency landing in the middle of a California highway — colliding with a car, according to reports.

Video posted by local news source 209 Times shows the moment plane hit Interstate 580 in Livermore, and a white sedan, which pushed the aircraft forward about five feet as it screeched to a stop.

“Holy f–k, I just barely got that!” the person taking the video exclaims. “What the hell!”

Pilot Josh Redsun told KPIX the plane was forced to land at around 5 p.m. on Tuesday after taking off from nearby Livermore Municipal Airport.

It managed to reach about 500 feet of elevation before diving towards an overpass above the interstate.

“Power was lost on take off,” Redsun explained. “I’m glad we’re all ok.”

Redsun, his father and the driver of the sedan — which Jalopnik identified as a Lexus IS — all escaped uninjured, KPIX said.

The nose of the Mooney M20E plane appeared to have hit the car’s frontend, KPIX said.

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Nxivm doctor defends branding sex cult members

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Nxivm doctor defends branding sex cult members

The doctor who branded women with Nxivm sex cult leader Keith Raniere’s initial defended the practice in a new television interview — claiming the women “wanted” the marks and were not “harmed.”

Speaking to NBC “Dateline,” Dr. Danielle Roberts said she was not acting in her capacity as a physician when she branded members of a secret master-slave group inside Nxivm, known as DOS.

“They had no idea who the branding technician was going to be, you know? There was no patient-physician relationship,” Roberts said in a clip of the interview, which will air in full Friday night.

She insisted that she never believed she was causing anyone “harm” by cauterizing their skin.

“I think pain and harm are two different things. You know, I think people are making an assumption that people were harmed. Nobody was harmed in this,” Roberts said.

“These women wanted this, they asked for this. You know, I mean and I understand now that narrative has changed and they’re saying other things,” she added.

She also claimed the women “were laughing” at the time.

“They said they wanted it. They were laughing,” she said.

Members of DOS said at Raniere’s 2019 trial in Brooklyn federal court that they handed over damaging “collateral” to join the group, which they feared would be released.

They were then branded in their public region with an insignia that looked like the letters K and R backwards during a nude ceremony — though several have said they didn’t realize that’s what the design was until they received it.

Jurors at the trial heard audio recordings of Raniere speaking with his No. 2, “Smallville” actress Allison Mack, saying the ceremonies should resemble human sacrifice rituals.

“Do you think the person who’s being branded should be held to the table, almost like a sacrifice?” Raniere asked Mack in the recording, adding that he thinks the slaves should be completely nude. “That’s a feeling of submission.”

“Laying on the back, legs spread straight, held to the table. Hands above the head, probably held, almost like sacrificial,” he added.

Former DOS slave-master Lauren Salzman described the branding as “the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.”

Roberts has not been charged with any crimes. But her medical license is under review because of her involvement in Nxivm.

Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison in October after being convicted on charges that included racketeering and sex trafficking.

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Missing 20-year-old mom identified from remains in Florida

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Missing 20-year-old mom identified from remains in Florida

A missing 20-year-old mom has been found dead in a shallow grave in Florida, authorities said.

Nyeisha Nelson has been identified from remains found Saturday near train tracks in a wooded area near Crescent City, news station WJXT reported.

She was last seen dropping off her 5-year-old daughter at Middleton-Burney Elementary School on Feb. 11, news station WJAX reported.

But when her family didn’t hear from her, they reported her missing to authorities.

Investigators found Nelson’s 2008 Honda Accord in the woods Thursday less than five miles from where authorities uncovered her remains.

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Col. Joseph Wells said they believe that Nelson was the victim of a homicide, though they haven’t identified any suspects in the slaying.

“The investigation does suggest the likelihood that she knew the offender. This was not a random act of stranger on stranger violence,” he said.

He said her abandoned car may provide some clues as to who was responsible.

“Her car is going to be a key part of this,” he said. “Not so much the car — we have it — but who was driving that car around or after Feb. 11.”

No further details have been released about the cause of manner of her death, but an autopsy was ordered.

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