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World News

France needs €17bn to meet Yellow Vests’ demands – Finance Minister Le Maire

RT – The total cost of the measures announced by French President Emmanuel Macron to respond to the demands of the Yellow Vests movement amounted to nearly €17 billion, Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said.

Speaking on Tuesday on France 2, he promised to partially offset the bill by saving money on public spending. Of the €17 billion, ten billion correspond to measures announced by Macron in December.

In response to months of anti-government protests, Macron said last week that he would cut income tax further by €5 billion ($5.6 billion).

“The president has set a principle of which I am the guarantor: each euro of decrease in income tax must be financed by a decrease of one euro in public spending,” Le Maire told LCI television.

Venezuelan defense minister says army stands with President Maduro, denounces Guaido as traitor

RT – Venezuela’s defense forces stand behind President Nicolas Maduro, Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino has said, after opposition leader Juan Guaido claimed he had military backing in his attempt to oust the country’s chief.

Writing on Twitter in reference to a video Guaido posted on his own feed, flanked by men in military uniform Padrino said: “The FANB [Venezuela Armed Forces] stands firm in defense of the National Constitution and its legitimate authorities. All the military units deployed in the eight Integral Defense Regions report normalcy in their barracks and military bases, under the command of their natural commanders.”

He added that the defense force “reject this coup movement that aims to fill the country with violence” and stated the “pseudo political leaders” fronting “this subversive movement have used troops and police with weapons of war on a public road in the city to create anxiety and terror”, calling them “cowards”.

He finished with a rousing “Always loyal, Traitors never!”

>> Related: Venezuela’s opposition declares military coup in an apparent attempt to force out president Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said he is starting the final phase of what he called “Operation Liberty” — an apparent military coup designed to overthrow the current government.

“People of Venezuela, the end of the usurpation has begun,” he announced on Twitter. “At the moment I am meeting with the principal military units from the armed forces to start the final phase of Operation Liberty.”

Blackwater founder’s plan for mercenaries in Venezuela: Report

Al Jazeera – Erik Prince – the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of US President Donald Trump – has been pushing to deploy a private army to help topple Venezuela‘s socialist president, Nicholas Maduro, four sources with knowledge of the effort told Reuters.

Over the last several months, the sources said, Prince has sought investment and political support for such an operation from influential Trump supporters and wealthy Venezuelan exiles.

In private meetings in the United States and Europe, Prince sketched out a plan to field up to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire on behalf of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, according to two sources with direct knowledge of Prince’s pitch.

One source said Prince has conducted meetings about the issue as recently as mid-April.

France harassment law hands out 447 fines in first months

BBC – French courts have handed down 447 fines in the past eight months under new laws to tackle street harassment of women.

The “outrages sexistes” law was passed in August 2018, and allows for on-the-spot fines of up to €750 (£650).

The first fine was handed down a month later to a man who slapped a woman’s bottom on a bus and made lewd remarks.

Equality Minister Marlène Schiappa said the number of cases since had proved such measures work.

In a progress report to the French parliament, she said the figures were nothing to be ashamed of.

“Many of you on these benches told us it would never work, that we would not be able to define offensive sexist behaviour,” she said – and promised that the deterrent would “grow in power”.

U.N. Issues Urgent Warning on the Growing Peril of Drug-Resistant Infections

NY Times – A new report says the overuse of antimicrobial drugs in humans, animals and plants is fueling resistant pathogens that could kill 10 million people annually by 2050.

With more and more common medications losing their ability to fight dangerous infections, and few new drugs in the pipeline, the world is facing an imminent crisis that could lead to millions of deaths, a surge in global poverty and an even wider gap between rich and poor countries, the United Nations warned in a report on Monday.

Drug-resistant infections already claim 700,000 lives a year, including 230,000 deaths from drug-resistant tuberculosis, the report said. The rampant overuse of antibiotics and antifungal medicines in humans, livestock and agriculture is accelerating a crisis that is poorly understood by the public and largely ignored by world leaders. Without concerted action, a United Nations panel said, resistant infections could kill 10 million people annually by 2050 and trigger an economic slowdown to rival the global financial crisis of 2008.

The problem threatens people around the world. During the next 30 years, the United Nations experts said, 2.4 million people in Europe, North America and Australia could die from drug-resistant infections, making routine hospital procedures like knee-replacement surgery and child birth far riskier than they are today.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Trump sues Deutsche Bank and Capital One over Democrat subpoenas

BBC – US President Donald Trump has sued two banks in a bid to stop them handing over his financial records to Congress.

The lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and Capital One was filed after Democrat-led committees issued subpoenas for information on his finances.

His three eldest children and the Trump Organisation joined the lawsuit, which argues there are no legitimate grounds for investigating his business affairs.

Leading Democrats said they would not be deterred by the blocking attempt.

A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman told the New York Times: “We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations

There was no immediate comment from Capital One.

Judges rule Michigan must redraw dozens of legislative maps

CS Monitor – Federal judges have struck a blow to unconstitutional gerrymandering. Their ruling Thursday found Michigan’s maps favor Republicans and ordered dozens of congressional and legislative districts to be reconfigured before the 2020 election.

In a 3-0 ruling – which will be appealed – the panel gave the GOP-led Legislature and new Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer until Aug. 1 to enact new maps for nine of 14 congressional seats and 25 of 148 legislative districts. The number of newly cast seats would be higher, though, because of the impact on adjacent districts.

The judges also ordered that special state Senate elections be held in 2020, halfway through senators’ normal four-year terms. The panel said it would draw its own maps if new ones are not submitted or if those that are proposed do not comply with constitutional requirements.

The decision was the latest development in a series of lawsuits alleging unconstitutional gerrymandering in a dozen states. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to set limits on partisan mapmaking.

Judge in Oregon Blocks Trump Abortion Referral Rule

Newsmax – A federal judge in Oregon on Monday blocked a Trump administration attempt to prevent federally funded health care providers from referring pregnant women to abortion clinics, describing the new policy as “madness.”

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Eugene, Oregon, was the second nationwide injunction by a federal judge in the Pacific Northwest against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services attempt to implement new rules beginning Friday in the so-called Title X program. It provides comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services for low-income families or uninsured people.

“We are very, very pleased with the outcome,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, whose state led the lawsuit, told a news conference. “It will ensure that women across the country will continue to receive the health care they need and deserve.”

Nineteen other states, the District of Columbia, the American Medical Association and the Planned Parenthood Federation were also plaintiffs in the suit against Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

Veterans News

VA Doctors Overprescribing Antibiotics

Newsmax – Antibiotic overuse is a major problem throughout the world. Now a new study finds four in 10 outpatients were inappropriately prescribed antibiotics at a major U.S. Veterans Affairs health system.

That rate is higher than in previous studies on outpatient antibiotic use. Improper use of the drugs is associated with increased illness, cost and the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“Our study targeted the most commonly overused antibiotics and the associated conditions in order to enable an approach focused on these factors in the outpatient setting,” said study author Alexis White.

Over-prescription of antibiotics was most common in patients with urinary tract infections, bronchitis, skin infections and sinusitis, according to the analysis of data from researchers with the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System.

Among patients diagnosed with sinusitis, 32% did not require an antibiotic because their symptoms were consistent with the common cold. And the incorrect drug was chosen in 53% of cases.

In urinary tract infection cases, the correct drug was chosen in only 55% of cases. Antibiotics were most commonly prescribed for asymptomatic urine bacteria, a condition that does not require antibiotics.

The study also found that the most commonly overused antibiotics included azithromycin, ciprofloxacin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, and cephalexin. Together, the four drugs accounted for nearly 80% of unnecessary antibiotic use.

Economy & Business

Report: Democrats Fear Trump’s Winning Economy Could Spell ‘Disaster’ for Them in 2020

Breitbart – Democrats fear that President Donald Trump’s winning economy may spell electoral doom for them in 2020, Politico reports, citing at least one top Democrat pollster.

“Republicans have long believed that if only the economy held up, President Donald Trump could win a second term,” Politico’s David Siders wrote this weekend in a piece filed from Las Vegas, Nevada:

Following another spate of positive economic news — and without a cohesive economic message of their own — many Democrats are starting to fear he might. Anxiety on the left reached new heights last week, with the government reporting that the nation’s economy had grown at an unexpectedly fast pace in the first quarter of the year. While Trump took credit for the surging economy, Democratic presidential contenders were immersing themselves in the Mueller report and debating whether incarcerated felons should be allowed to vote.

Social Security fund to go into the red in 2020; will be completely bankrupt by 2035… governments will desperately find a way to kill off populations around the world

NaturalNews – According to the 2019 annual report published by the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, the Social Security fund will go in the red in 2020 and could potentially go bankrupt by 2035. If nothing is done to boost revenue or re-configure how the money will be distributed, then countless retirees, disabled persons, widows, and surviving children will be left with little to no funds to help them navigate through the most uncertain times in life.

The sad part about this shortage is that Social Security is not welfare; this trust fund is not dependent on tax money. Workers pay into the Social Security system during their working years. The system acts as an insurance once a person retires. The benefits are also paid out to disabled persons, widows, and dependents of deceased parents.

Due to the projected shortages, the U.S. government has a perfect opportunity to begin culling the population over the next three decades, restricting what is paid out through the Social Security safety net. As school textbooks teach children about the problem of “overpopulation,” the government obviously views humanity as a liability.

Energy & Environment

US steps closer to listing giraffes as ‘endangered species’

CS Monitor – The move, which comes after legal pressure from environmental groups, could lead to import restrictions on hunting trophies. Only 68,000 mature giraffes still live in the wild, and their numbers continue to decline.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that its initial review has determined there is “substantial information that listing may be warranted” for giraffes. The finding, to be published in the Federal Register, will begin a more in-depth review and public comment process that could lead to import restrictions on hunting trophies and body parts from giraffes, including hides and bones.

The giraffe population in Africa has declined by about 40% in the past three decades, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The group, which designates endangered species, added giraffes to its “Red List” in 2016. It determined that the species as a whole is “vulnerable” to extinction and classified two subspecies as “critically endangered.”

Science & Technology

Study: New Ultrasound Applications Could Affect Brain Waves and Human Behavior

Health Impact News – Most of us are familiar with ultrasound diagnostics used to capture imagery that include blood flowing, organ obstructions, and developing fetuses, all without X-rays.

Recently, new medical applications for ultrasound technology have been discovered. They involve the nervous system and brain. But they’re not diagnostic applications.

These new therapeutic applications of ultrasound both involve the use of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), more commonly called focused ultrasound.

A new study just published looked at using ultrasound technology with macaque monkeys showing how behavior could be altered by focusing on certain areas of the brain.

If this technology can be applied to humans, what are the ramifications, both for good and for evil?

Billboards tracking shoppers with cameras; Target ads based on mood

The Sun – SMILE FOR THE CAMERA

Creepy billboards are tracking British shoppers with built-in cameras that target ads based on your MOOD

A total of 50 of these surveillance screens have been found across the UK

SURVEILLANCE cameras in shopping centre billboards are being used to spy on you so you can be targeted with the ‘correct’ advertisements.

The giant screens contain technology that can work out your age, gender and even what mood you’re in at the time.

How long customers look at certain adverts can also be monitored and the adverts being displayed can change depending on who is walking past.

The Sunday Times has discovered 50 of these screens so far across the UK, including several screens at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, London.

Companies promoting the system have claimed that it complies with the UK’s data protection laws because no individually identifying information is being collected or stored.

Ocean Outdoor was one of the first companies to use this kind of public surveillance technology.

It’s LookOut system can be found in lots of the tracking billboards in the UK.

The company’s chief executive Tim Bleakley told The Sunday Times: “We pioneered a facial detection technology which identifies the characteristics of the face to allow you to talk to advertisers about mood, gender, emotion and those kind of things.

“We can measure the level of happiness or sadness. We can measure the dwell time.”

The creepy tech has even been used in supermarkets like Waitrose and Bleakley described how pleased one of the supermarket’s executives was when ‘customer happiness levels’ rose as fake snow was sprayed in the store.

The billboard cameras spend all day analysing shoppers and can tell advertisers what kinds of people were shopping and when.

Health

Whistleblowers: Pharma Firm Linked to 97,000% Price Hike ‘Bribed Docs to Boost Sales’

The Daily Beast – The pharmaceutical industry is not well. Whistleblowers have alleged that pharma company Questcor—which became notorious for causing one of the largest drug price increases in U.S. history—bribed doctors to increase sales alongside the near 97,000% price hike. Unsealed federal court documents seen by CNN contains an allegation from the the whistleblowers that this was part of an intentional “multi-tiered strategy” to boost sales of H.P. Acthar Gel and allegedly cheat the government out of millions of dollars. The price of the drug, used to treat infant seizure disorder, has increased from $40 a vial in 2000 to nearly $39,000 today. The price increase has pushed the drug’s annual sales over $1 billion—many of those are driven by Medicare reimbursements. The Justice Department has intervened in the case, suggesting it believes sign the whistleblower allegations are credible. Questcor is now known as Mallinckrodt—the company didn’t deny the accusations to CNN but said the fault lies with Questcor.

California tap water could be source of thousands of new cancer cases – study

RT – An alarming new study has found that drinking tap water in California over a lifetime could significantly increase your risk of developing cancer, and may have already contributed to more than 15,500 cases.

The state’s drinking water is contaminated with chemicals like arsenic, hexavalent chromium and radioactive elements such as uranium and radium, according to researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) who published their findings in the journal Environmental Health on Tuesday.

The team tested 2,737 different public water systems across California as part of their research, which served 98 percent of the state’s population. The researchers then calculated the cancer risk by establishing the average contaminant levels between 2011 to 2015, and adding them together to create a lifetime risk.

Two clients contract HIV following procedures at New Mexico spa as DOH warns of risk from ‘Vampire Facial’

New York Daily News – Two people who most likely contracted HIV at a now-defunct New Mexico spa during a so-called Vampire Facial now face a lifetime of suppression therapy.

The botched treatments have the New Mexico Department of Health urging anyone who got the needle-based treatment between May and September of last year to get tested.

The department on Monday announced two cases of HIV most likely stemming from the injection-related procedures at VIP Spa in Albuquerque. The two positive tests increased the likelihood that the HIV infections resulted from the procedure, the department said.

Drawn by the allure of transferring one’s own platelets and their regenerative powers to facial skin, celebrities and others have been undergoing the cosmetic procedure over the past few years. But it must be done correctly, with properly sanitized equipment.

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Being Around Trees

Care2 – Here are 10 surprising health benefits of being around trees.

  1. Greenery can reduce your heart disease risk

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found neighborhood greenness can reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. When compared to the least green areas, study participants who lived in the greenest locations experienced a 25 percent drop in their heart attack risk, a 20 percent lower risk of ischemic heart disease, a 16 percent lower risk of heart failure and a 6 percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation.

  1. Being among trees can relieve stress

You might have noticed how hospitals and doctors offices tend to have pictures of forests and other natural settings as part of their decor. Although the effects usually aren’t as strong as actually being in nature, research has shown that viewing greenery can relieve stress in the body. One study on “forest bathing” — or taking in a forest atmosphere — found “forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments.” And the researchers suggested that forests could be used in preventative-medicine strategies.

  1. Trees might help regulate blood sugar

Another study on walking in forest environments also found benefits for the subjects’ cardiovascular health, including reduced blood pressure. Plus, it discovered that the forest walks significantly raised the subjects’ adiponectin levels. Adiponectin is a protein that plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels. And low levels might be a precursor to developing diabetes and other diseases.

  1. Green spaces are an antidote to a sedentary lifestyle

We’ve all heard how a sedentary lifestyle is hazardous to our health. And while having enough willpower to exercise helps, the environment in which you live also can boost your activity level. “Although the focus of forest therapy isn’t on physical exercise, regular practice can help you lead a less sedentary lifestyle, too,” according to Cleveland Clinic. Living near accessible green spaces encourages you to get up and enjoy the scenery. For instance, if you live across the street from a park, odds are you’ll end up taking some walks through it and possibly develop a new exercise routine.

  1. Trees give you cleaner air to breathe

Trees are a strong line of defense against the effects of climate change — a major threat to everyone’s health. And as one of their most basic functions, they help to clean our air. “Trees produce oxygen, intercept airborne particulates, and reduce smog, enhancing a community’s respiratory health,” according to Canopy, a group that promotes urban forests. Consequently, trees are especially important in densely populated (and polluted) areas to maintain safe air.

  1. They’re natural air conditioners

You might take for granted the shade that trees provide — until you’re overheating on a sweltering day and at risk of serious health complications if you can’t find a cool spot. But trees are so much more than a shady spot where we can hide from the burning sun. “A tree is a natural air conditioner,” according to Canopy. “The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of ten room-size, residential air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” This can help cool entire neighborhoods by several degrees on hot days compared to nearby areas that lack trees. Plus, trees can help you use less air conditioning and heat— shading your house from the hot sun, as well as sheltering it from bitter wind.

  1. They promote better water

Water pollution is another health hazard that puts the entire global population at risk. But trees can help mitigate that. “Trees capture and slow rainfall and their roots filter water and recharge the aquifer,” according to Canopy. Furthermore, having trees in an area helps to reduce water runoff and lessens the risk of flooding. This also decreases the reach of polluted water.

  1. Trees provide habitats to many species

It’s fun to watch the creatures who inhabit trees — birds singing their songs and squirrels with their acrobatics. That actually adds to trees’ mental health-boosting benefits. But having trees and their inhabitants around also helps to balance the ecosystem, which can have some subtle, yet significant health benefits. A balanced ecosystem means there isn’t an overabundance of a particular species, such as disease-carrying mosquitoes. But if we were to take away the habitat of the species who eat those insects, we put ourselves at a greater risk of getting sick.

  1. Trees and other landscaping encourage safe driving

If a tree falls in the middle of a forest, you probably won’t hear it. But if a tree is planted in the middle of a road, you’re going to see it — and avoid driving into it. “Adding trees to roadways creates a sort of natural obstruction which could reduce the likelihood of cars crossing medians into oncoming traffic lanes,” according to Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Plus, research has shown natural landscaping along roadways encourages calmer and more positive feelings in drivers, which also can promote safer driving.

  1. Green spaces improve a sense of community

Having a sense of community is important for our health and well-being. And trees might just work to bring people together in a positive way. People tend to walk more on tree-lined streets, which can help combat feelings of loneliness. And trees work to reduce noise pollution in communities, which might help you stay on good terms with your noisy neighbors. Plus, research has shown communities with more trees tend to have lower crime rates. For instance, a study in Baltimore found a 10 percent increase in trees corresponded with a 12 percent decrease in crime. And a safer, happier community is a benefit to us all.

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