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‘We are fulfilling the task of the motherland’: Russians killed in missile test blast were working on ‘new weapons’

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Russia’s nuclear agency chief on Monday confirmed that five scientists killed last week were developing “new weapons” and vowed to continue testing despite the explosion.

The accident took place at an Arctic military facility on the coast of the White Sea on Thursday, but Russian authorities only admitted its nuclear nature on Saturday.

The explosion caused a spike in radiation levels.

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US experts have said it could be linked to testing of the “Burevestnik” cruise missile, touted by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year.

As a memorial service was held for the scientists on Monday, the head of nuclear agency Rosatom said their efforts would continue.

“The best (thing) for their memory will be our further work on the new weapons,” Alexei Likhachev was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

“We are fulfilling the task of the motherland, its security will be reliably ensured.”

Rosatom said this weekend that its staff were providing engineering and technical support for the “isotope power source” of a missile.

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The missile was being tested on a platform at sea when its fuel caught fire and caused an explosion, it said. Several staff were blown into the sea by the blast.

The Russian military announced the death of two “specialists” after the explosion but it is not known if they were among the five scientists whose deaths were announced by Rosatom.

Three other people were injured in the accident, suffering burns, according to the nuclear agency.

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The military did not initially say that the accident involved nuclear equipment, stressing that radiation levels were normal afterwards.

But the nearby city of Severodvinsk recorded elevated levels following the accident and panicked residents rushed to buy iodine to counteract radiation.

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– ‘Real heroes’ –

In a state of the nation address earlier this year Putin announced the development of what he called “invincible” missiles, threatening to deploy them against “decision-making centres” in Western countries if there were serious threats against Russia.

Experts have linked the blast to the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, known by NATO as SSC-X-9 Skyfall.

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Putin said in February that tests on the Burevestnik were going successfully.

The accident took place at the Nyonoksa test site on the White Sea, used for testing missiles deployed in nuclear submarines and ships since the Soviet era.

A memorial service for the scientists was held Monday in the closed city of Sarov, 500 kilometres (300 miles) east of Moscow.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the deputy head of Putin’s administration and a former nuclear chief, called the victims “real heroes” at the ceremony.

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He said that while conducting the tests the scientists took on physical risks “which, unfortunately, however much you prepare, cannot be completely avoided.”

During the Cold War, Sarov was a top-secret city known as Arzamas-16. The centre produced the Soviet Union’s first nuclear weapons.

It is still a closed city accessible only with special passes.

Last month, 14 Russian navy officers were killed in a fire on a top-secret nuclear-powered submersible in circumstances that have not been fully revealed.

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The incident comes with fears of a new arms race after Moscow and Washington withdrew earlier this year from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.


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Lindsey Graham promises Fox viewers a new investigation into Andrew McCabe despite the Justice Dept clearing him

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Appearing on the Fox Business channel with host Maria Bartiromo, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) promised viewers he fully intends to use his position as the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee to launch his own investigation into former Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Andrew McCabe despite the former law enforcement official already having been cleared by the Justice Department.

Complaining that the controversial Steele dossier was based on " a bunch of bar-talk and hearsay," Graham said he plans to call -- at the very least -- McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey in to be grilled by his committee.

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MSNBC guest goes off on Chris Matthews for comparing Sanders to Nazis: ‘He had kin murdered in the Holocaust’

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Time magazine editor Anand Giridharadas criticized MSNBC host Chris Matthews over the weekend for his alleged bias against Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Giridharadas remarks came after Matthews compared Sanders' win in Nevada to a Nazi invasion.

"Last night was a historic win that I think a lot of us are still struggling to understand," Giridharadas explained. "It's historic because we may be seeing that we are paddling through a bend of a river in history here. Something is happening in America right now that actually does not fit our mental models."

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‘Kiss Florida goodbye’: Voto Latino head warns Democrats of coming 2020 debacle

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Appearing on MSNBC's "AM Joy," Voto Latino CEO María Teresa Kumar said Democrats should not count on taking Florida's 29 electoral votes in the upcoming 2020 presidential election if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the at the top of the ticket.

During a fairly contentious panel discussion on the viability of Sanders as a candidate due to self-identifying as a democratic socialist, Kumar claimed that would not play well Florida's Latino community.

"All I can think about when David [Corn] was unpacking it for us, we can all agree is you can kiss Florida goodbye," she explained. "I say that, Floridians -- Latinos that have fled socialism, they have fled and they are in Florida and they have sensibilities that are different from the rest of the Latino community."

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