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F-22 stealth jets backed down 587 enemy aircraft in their first ‘combat surge’ over Syria

  • US F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets just completed their first "combat surge" in operations over Syria, and in doing so it backed down almost 600 enemy aircraft.
  • Russian, Syrian, and Iranian combat aircraft all operate in the skies above Syria, and US air assets have frequently deterred or defeated air attacks against US troops there.
  • The F-22s protected US forces when the US struck Syria in April over chemical weapons use by flying deep into enemy territory populated with sophisticated air defenses.

US F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets just completed their first "combat surge" in operations over Syria, and in doing so it backed down almost 600 enemy aircraft in the crowded skies there that see Syria, Iranian, and Russian combat aircraft on a regular basis, the Pentagon said.

F-22s, which combine both stealth and top-of-the-line dogfighting abilities, functioned as both fighter jets and bombers while defending US forces and assisting offensive missions against heavily armed foes.

F-22 pilots from the 94th Fighter Wing completed 590 individual flights totaling 4,600 flight hours with 4,250 pounds of ordnance dropped in their deployment to the region in the "first-ever F-22 Raptor combat surge," the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon said the F-22 "deterred" 587 enemy aircraft in the process, suggesting the jet commands some respect against older Russian-made models often in operation by Russian and Syrian forces. This surge saw F-22 operations maximized over a three-day period.

Unlike any other battle space today, US forces on the ground in Syria have come under threat from enemy airpower.

F-22s on this deployment escorted US Navy F/A-18s as part of their mission. In June, 2017, Lt. Cmdr. Mike "MOB" Tremel, an Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot scored the US's first air-to-air kill in years after downing a Syrian Su-22 that threatened US forces in the country.

The stealth fighter pilots defended US forces against enemy bomber aircraft and also backed up US, UK, and French forces when they struck Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in the country's west in response to chemical weapons attacks.

The F-22s flew "deep into Syrian territory, facing both enemy fighters and surface-to-air missile systems," the Pentagon said.

While no US or allied aircraft went down, photos from the most recent US attack on Syria's government show the country's air defenses firing blindly into the night sky as the F-22s worked overhead.

The F-22 has encountered enemy fighter jets above Syria before, but the Pentagon has only reported relatively safe interactions and intercepts.

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Trump reportedly wanted to shut down the entire US-Mexico border, but his aides talked him out of it

  • President Trump is continuing his calls to shutter the US-Mexico border, in an effort to stop caravans of thousands of migrants, seeking shelter from deadly violence in Central America.
  • Trump reportedly told aides this summer to "close the whole thing!" The Washington Post reported, a near unprecedented move that would not only shut down border crossings, but also halt trade, and potentially chill relations between Mexico and the US.
  • White House staff talked him out of the costly idea.

President Trump is growing impatient with the flow of people fleeing deadly violence in Central America, and is said to have threatened to close off the southern border completely at one point.

He got so frustrated over the summer, that he asked his staff to "close the whole thing" during a meeting in the Oval Office, as The Washington Post reported Saturday.

That action would have thrown trade relations between Mexico and the US into chaos, and ground to a halt one of the busiest borders in the world. White House aides managed to talk him out of the idea, the Post reported, by pointing out the $600 billion-plus trade relationship the two countries share.

Mexico and the US signed on to a new, sweeping trade deal in August, and Mexico is the US's third largest trading partner, and second biggest market for US exports. The US exported more than $276 billion worth of goods and services to Mexico in 2017, and imported nearly $340 billion, according to the office of the US trade representative.

On Twitter Thursday, as thousands of people made their way towards Mexico from Central America seeking safety, Trump repeated his border closing cry, saying "I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught – and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!"

That has been done before, but rarely.

President George W. Bush partially closed the borders and put all travel, trade, and immigration under strict inspection after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, as USA Today pointed out. Before that, the US-Mexico border was shut down entirely in 1985 after the killing of a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent n Mexico.

Later on Thursday, Trump thanked Mexico for shuttling riot police to the Guatemala border, saying in a tweet that "we look forward to working with you!"

Disputes over how to handle the looming crisis have rattled the White House in recent days, reportedly prompting a profane cursing match between White House chief of staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton outside Trump's Oval Office.

Meanwhile, the Mexican government is dealing with a border crisis of its own on the southern edge of that country, as a caravan of more than 3,000 people fleeing deadly violence in the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala rushed over the border into Mexico on Friday, seeking shelter from gang violence and hoping to stay alive.

Thousands of the hungry, desperate migrants intend to press on towards the US, where Department of Homeland Security officials say they're already "catching 1,500 people a day," according to the Post.

guatemala migrants crossing into mexico

"I want to get to the States to contribute to that country," a migrant named Christian, who said he was fleeing gangsters demanding one-fifth of his monthly income, told the Associated Press, "to do any kind of work, picking up garbage."

Human rights expert and historian Dana Frank told the Associated Press that the determination of the migrants underscores how bad the situation in Central America has become, highlighting "how desperate the Honduran people are — that they'd begin walking toward refuge in the United States with only a day pack full of belongings."

The number of illegal border crossings along the southwest border of the US ticked up this year, with the number of unaccompanied children streaming into the US soaring by 16,000, while the total number of apprehensions along the southwest border from October 1, 2017 to August 31 of this year was up to 355,106, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.

SEE ALSO: President Trump said his uncle was a 'great professor at MIT for many years' — here’s what to know about John Trump

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Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith reveal why they never got divorced, despite not calling themselves ‘married’

  • In a clip from an upcoming episode of her Facebook Watch show, "Red Table Talk," Jada Pinkett Smith opened up about why she and her husband Will Smith never got a divorce.
  • "It's cheaper to keep me," Pinkett Smith joked.
  • Pinkett Smith has been candid about her relationship with Smith before.
  • The premiere episode of "Red Table Talk" returns to Facebook Watch on October 22.

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith have been married for 20 years, but they don't call themselves "married." In a clip from an upcoming episode of her Facebook Watch show, "Red Table Talk," the 47-year-old actress opened up about why she and Smith, 50, never got a divorce in their 20 years of marriage.

"You know why I never got divorced?" Smith asked her, to which Pinkett Smith jokingly replied: "It’s cheaper to keep me."


In the premiere episode of the Facebook Watch show, the two also got personal about their own growth in the relationship.

"I had to gain my strength as Jada. Not mommy. Not wife. Jada," Pinkett Smith said. While Smith revealed that he felt, "deep down inside" like "an insecure little boy that wanted Jada to say [he] was great."

They also touched on a particularly tough time in their relationship.

"There was a period where mommy woke up and cried 45 days straight, I started keeping track," Smith told their 17-year-old daughter Willow, who joined them on the show alongisde Pinkett Smith's mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones. Pinkett Smith added that he "missed some days," and that it was "the worst [she has] ever felt" during their marriage.

Watch the clip below:

Pinkett Smith has spoken candidly about her marriage before, and recently told People magazine why she and Smith don't refer to themselves as "married."

"I needed a different form to dissolve all the expectations that I had of a marriage," she told People. "I needed to do that to see Will outside of husband and see him as a human being."

"Red Table Talk" returns to Facebook Watch on October 22.

Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.

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The Weather Channel’s blazing-hot wildfire simulation clearly explains why wildfires are getting so much worse in California and the western US

  • California is enduring another grueling wildfire season.
  • But California fire experts say that wildfire season is a near-outdated term, and dangerous fires can happen anytime now.
  • A Weather Channel simulation shows how a warmer planet is fueling the aggressive, persistent flames.

It's shaping up to be another record-breaking year of wildfires in California. As of October 20, more than 7,100 fires have burned a combined total of more than 1.5 million acres across the state, the National Interagency Fire Center reports. The state also set a new record for its largest single wildfire to date when the Ranch Fire burned through 410,203 acres this fall.

This is not an anomaly. In recent years, warmer temperatures across the western US have fueled more destructive flames than the region has ever seen. The 2017 fire season, which scorched vines across California wine country, was the costliest to date, triggering over $9.4 billion in losses in that state.

The flames aren't even limited to a special season these days.

"We're responding to wildland fires year round now," Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean recently told the Sacramento Bee.

A breathtaking video featuring Weather Channel Meteorologist Stephanie Abrams shows us why that's the case: it's all about heat.

"Over the past few decades the climate over the western US has become more conducive for wildfires with overall warmer, drier weather," Abrams said, as a simulation of dry, hot, overgrown brush heated up behind her, providing the perfect tinder for explosive and deadly flames.

In a warmer world, there's "plenty of available fuel to burn," she added.

Take a look at how the flames develop more quickly and spread with vigor in warmer, drier weather:

As many as 90% of wildfires in the US are caused by humans, per the @NatlParkService . Here's how/why they can spread so quickly! #IMR #Wildfires #Weather Full video on my instagram and FB pages

— Stephanie Abrams (@StephanieAbrams) October 18, 2018

Large wildfires burn twice the area now that they did in 1970, as Abrams noted in the clip.

This is not a trend that's expected to get any better if we continue with business as usual.

California's 2018 Climate Change Assessment report estimates that the average area that wildfires burn will increase 77% by 2100, if we continue burning emissions from fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil that warm the atmosphere.

Temperatures across the western US are expected to remain above average through November, according to the latest federal climate reports. Large swaths of California are also looking really dry right now, providing the perfect kindling for sparking tough-to-contain fires.

"We’re in uncharted territory," California Governor Jerry Brown said earlier this year. "Since civilization emerged 10,000 years ago, we haven’t had this kind of heat condition, and it’s going to continue getting worse. That’s the way it is."

SEE ALSO: A scientist who predicted a grim 'Hothouse Earth' says the world’s billionaires need to give up their money to save us

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Hamleys reaches endgame under Chinese owner

By Mark Kleinman, City editor

The Chinese owner of Hamleys, the world's most famous toy retailer,‎ has begun exploring a sale of the company just days after reporting multimillion-pound losses.

Sky News has learnt that C.banner International, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has launched a strategic review of Hamleys, which it bought three years ago.

The review, which was prompted by several expressions of interest in a takeover from unnamed parties, is at a preliminary stage and might not lead to a formal sale process, according to a City source.

News of C.banner's‎ decision to explore options for Hamleys throws the future ownership of the toy retailing giant into doubt just before its crucial Christmas trading period gets under way.

Vermilion Partners, a corporate finance firm with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and London, has been appointed to handle discussions with potential bidders.

The firm is an affiliate of Natixis, the French bank.

The strategic review paves the way for Hamleys' fourth change of ownership in 15 years following a succession of largely failed attempts by a range of international shareholders to expand the renowned brand globally.

It also marks C.banner's potential retreat from the British retail sector, just months after it abandoned plans to buy a controlling stake in House of Fraser, the department store chain subsequently acquired by Sports Direct International through a pre-pack administration.

Mike Ashley, Sports Direct's chief executive, and private equity firms are likely to be among those who examine bids for Hamleys, retail analysts said this weekend.

Image: Hamleys comprises 129 stores globally

The value of Hamleys, which comprises 129 stores globally, was unclear this weekend.

One hundred of those shops are operated under franchise.

Founded ‎in 1760, Hamleys is one of the most famous retailing names in the world, having occupied its current site on London's Regent Street since 1881.

It was launched as Noah's Ark by William Hamley, who stocked his store with items such as tin soldiers, wooden horses and rag dolls.

In 2003, the company was taken off the London stock market by Baugur Group, the Icelandic‎ investor which snapped up a string of big high street names in the decade before the financial crisis.

Baugur paid £47.4m for Hamleys, which was then sold in 2012 for £60m to Groupe Ludendo, a French company, by the winding-up committee of the failed Icelandic bank Landsbanki.

Groupe Ludendo hailed its takeover as a "platform to accelerate our international development", but the move failed to pay significant dividends, leading to C.banner's purchase three years later.

The Chinese takeover was timed to coincide with a state visit to the UK by the country's president, Xi Jinping, and was described by both countries as a ‎sign of deepening economic ties.

Since then, Hamleys has opened a 115,000 sq ft store in Beijing in a ceremony overseen by Britain's ambassador to China.

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The retailer now has a presence in countries including Germany, India, Russia and Ukraine.

Its international growth has not translated into a stellar financial performance, however.

This week, Hamleys Global Holdings, its ultimate parent company, reported a pre-tax loss of £12m for 2017, citing "market pressures including currency effects".

The accounts added that trading was on an improving trajectory, with 2.7% UK like-for-like sales growth in the first eight months of 2018.

They also said that Hamleys was "on track to return to net profitability in the next 12 months".

Three more UK travel stores were scheduled to open this year, and two in Japan in December under the Hamleys World format.

Ralph Cunningham, the company's chief executive, said in the accounts that he was "encouraged by our current trading performance".

He added: "While our international franchise business experiences good growth, last year was one of the most challenging years in UK retail history.

"Hamleys was not immune to the impact of Brexit uncertainty, macroeconomic pressures‎, a general erosion in UK consumer confidence and falling customer footfall due to the threat of terrorism."

Mr Cunningham is a well-regarded figure who has brought stability to the business, according to insiders.

The toy retailer also said this week that Alex Jablonowski, its finance director, was leaving the company and was being replaced by Yong Shen, a former executive at House of Fraser.

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A potential sale of Hamleys would come at the end of a torrid year for Britain's retail industry, with dozens of collapses and corporate restructurings involving names such as Carpetright, Maplin, Mothercare, Poundworld and Toys R Us.

A C.banner spokeswoman in Hong Kong declined to comment, while Hamleys also said it would not comment.

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13 easy Halloween makeup looks that you can wear without a costume

Dressing up on Halloween isn't for everybody.

Some people have to go to work and can't wear a costume, while others simply don't have the time to create an intricate outfit. But if you still want to be festive on the holiday, you can try wearing a bold makeup look instead.

For example, you can go all out and draw a mask of your favorite superhero using face paint, or you can go a little more subtle and stick with graphic eye makeup. To help you decide what to wear, we've rounded up 13 Halloween makeup looks that you can wear instead of a costume.

Relive your favorite '90s memories with this beauty look.

Created by makeup artist Nia Mulan, this makeup look will give you the perfect excuse to sing your favorite '90s songs all Halloween night.

To recreate it at home, stock up on some neon eye shadow, bright lipstick, and black liquid liner. To create the classic '90s shapes across your cheeks, use highly pigmented eyeliner pencils to draw squiggles, triangles, and any other geometric shapes.

You can dress as a clown without the full costume.

Makeup enthusiast Kaitlyn Belin created a look that puts a pink glam twist on the traditional clown look. To wear this style, simply brush pink eye shadow on your forehead down to your cheeks in a C-motion.

Use that same shadow to coat your eyelids, and draw triangles above and under each eye with a purple eyeliner pencil. You can create the rest of the look with drugstore face paint.

Scare all your friends this Halloween by drawing giant spiders on your face.

Makeup artist Emma Gooding cleverly used a classic smoky eye to create spiders on each side of her face.

If you'd like to try this look at home, use an eyeliner pencil in any color to draw eight legs stemming from each eye. To make it extra bold, pair a dark lip liner with a lighter lipstick to create an ombré effect.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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