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World News

Greece, Israel, US & Cyprus agree to boost energy cooperation – Athens

RT – Greece, Israel, Cyprus and the US agreed to enhance cooperation in energy, cyber and infrastructure security, Greek Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said on Wednesday. The statement came  after ministers of the four countries met in Athens.

Regional tripartite meetings between Israel and Cyprus, which have made natural gas discoveries, and Greece, keen to be a hub, have recently been extended to include the US, Reuters said. “Energy can be a bridge for broader political stability,” US Assistant Energy Secretary Frank Fannon told reporters.

Besieged by Indian troops, Kashmir mourns loss of autonomy

Al Jazeera – Amid a paralysing curfew for a third day, residents vow to resist India’s move to scrap the region’s special status.

Trump freezes Venezuelan assets as tensions escalate

CS Monitor – A new ban prohibits Americans from doing business with Venezuela’s government. It’s the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere in over 30 years.

The Trump administration froze all Venezuelan government assets in a dramatic escalation of tensions with Nicolás Maduro that places his socialist administration alongside a short list of adversaries from Cuba, North Korea, Syria, and Iran that have been targeted by such aggressive U.S. actions.

The ban, blocking American companies and individuals from doing business with Mr. Maduro’s government and its top supporters, took effect immediately Monday and is the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere in more than three decades, following an asset freeze against General Manuel Noriega’s government in Panama and a trade embargo on the Sandinista leadership in Nicaragua in the 1980s.

While the order falls short of an outright trade embargo – notably, it spares Venezuela’s still sizable private sector – it represents the most sweeping U.S. action to remove Mr. Maduro since the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader in January. Critically, it also exposes foreign entities doing business with the Maduro government to U.S. retaliation.

China Warns Hong Kong Will Intervene if Situation Deteriorates… Troops Ready.

WSJ – A senior Chinese official in charge of Hong Kong affairs warned that Beijing would intervene if the local government proved unable to contain the violent protests, the most explicit threat of intervention to date from the central government.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Conway: Executive Action Like the Bump Stock Ban ‘On the Table’

Breitbart – On Tuesday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway stated that using regulatory power or executive action to combat mass shootings in a manner similar to the bump stock ban is “on the table.”

Co-host Steve Doocy asked, “There’s a story that the president has spoken to the Attorney General, Bill Barr about using some regulatory power or executive action to try to do something, just like he did with bump stocks, regarding this. Is that on the table?”

Conway responded, “It is on the table. And he was in close contact with the attorney general and the FBI director over the weekend.”

Texas to loosen firearm laws, allowing guns in churches and on school grounds 

CNN – A series of new firearm laws will go into effect in Texas next month — further loosening gun restrictions in a state that’s had four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history.

The laws — passed before a gunman massacred 22 people and injured dozens in El Paso last weekend — will make it easier to have guns in a state with some of the most lax weapons restrictions in the nation.

Judicial Watch Sues Pete Buttigieg’s City Administration for Records of ID Cards Created to Help Illegal Aliens

Judicial Watch – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) open records lawsuit against the City of South Bend, Indiana, for records of communications between Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s office related to the creation of a municipal ID card for illegal aliens that was created by La Casa de Amistad, a local not-for-profit corporation (Judicial Watch v. City of South Bend (No. 71C01-1908-Ml-000389)).

On December 16, 2016, the South Bend Tribune reported that, “A nonprofit Latino advocacy group … unveiled a new identification card it hopes will make life easier for undocumented immigrants who live in [South Bend].” La Casa de Amistad Inc. are the creators of this “SB ID.” Mayor Pete Buttigieg reportedly worked “closely with La Casa de Amistad, South Bend’s main Latino outreach center … and the nonprofit’s executive director, Sam Centellas,” to create a “Community Resident Card … created and distributed by the group — a private organization — not the city.”  “Buttigieg’s part to make it all work was to sign an executive order requiring local services and institutions — like law enforcement, schools, the water utility and libraries — to accept the card as a valid form of identification.”

Judicial Watch filed suit after the City of South Bend failed to respond as required by law to open records requests on June 22, 2019, seeking emails between Buttigieg, members of his staff and officials of La Casa de Amistad regarding the Community Resident Card program.

Prior to South Bend ignoring the June 22, 2019 APRA request, the city refused Judicial Watch APRA requests for similar public information multiple times between June 24, 2019 and July 18, 2019.  Each time, South Bend said the requests were too broad and not “reasonably particular.” After each refusal, Judicial Watch would comply with South Bend’s suggestion to limit their request. After four exchanges, South Bend produced Mayor Buttigeig’s executive order and 2 information bulletins that were already publicly accessible.

“Mayor Buttigieg’s city administration in South Bend is in cover-up mode on his work for special ID cards to make it easier for illegal aliens to stay in the United States contrary to law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch made simple open records requests and have faced nothing but games from the Buttigieg administration – which is why we had to sue.”

Economy & Business

FEDEX to end ground deliveries for AMAZON

WSJ – FedEx Corp. FDX -2.89% said it was ending its contract to deliver Inc. AMZN -1.05% packages through its ground network, essentially severing ties with one of the world’s biggest shippers.

The delivery giant said Wednesday it decided not to renew the contract when it expires at the end of August. In June, FedEx said it was ending its air-shipping contract with Amazon in the U.S. but would continue to handle ground deliveries. It would still handle international shipments.

The moves are evidence of escalating tensions between the longtime partners as the e-commerce giant builds out its own delivery services, including leasing cargo planes, buying trucks and funding local delivery drivers.

Walgreens to close 200 US stores

CNBC – Walgreens plans to shutter 200 stores in the U.S. as the company pares back its locations in the U.K., the company said Tuesday.

Parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance earlier this year announced plans to shutter 200 stores in the U.K. and review its U.S. footprint.

The new store closures represent less than 3% of its 10,000 locations in the U.S., Walgreens said in a statement, adding that it anticipates “minimal disruption to customers and patients.” It said it anticipates retaining “the majority” of employees in other nearby locations.

Walgreens said it hopes to save $1.5 billion in annual expenses by fiscal 2022 in what it’s calling the “transformational cost management program.” Walgreens expects to record a $1.9 billion to $2.4 billion earnings hit related to real estate, severance and other costs, it said in a regulatory filing.

Energy & Environment

Scientists say water in Hawaii crater heated by volcano

AP –  Scientists have discovered that a growing pond of water inside a Hawaii crater is being heated by Kilauea volcano.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday that temperature readings taken over the weekend show that a growing pool of water in Kilauea volcano’s Halemaumau crater, the former home of a popular lava lake, is about 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius).

For the first time in recorded history, the presence of water in the crater was confirmed last week. Since then, scientists have found two other small pools of water nearby.

The crater floor collapsed about 2,000 feet (610 meters) and the lava lake disappeared last summer as Kilauea stopped erupting for the first time in over 30 years.

USGS geologist Matt Patrick told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it’s hard to determine how deep the magma chamber is beneath the bottom of the crater floor where the water was found.

Largest CA recycling business closes all 284 centers

SF Gate – California’s largest operator of recycling redemption centers shut down Monday and laid off 750 employees.

RePlanet closed all 284 of its centers, and company president David Lawrence said the decision was driven by increased business costs and falling prices of recycled aluminum and PET plastic, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The move came three years after RePlanet closed 191 of its recycling centers and laid off 278 workers.

Popular Pesticides Could Cause Unintended Harm To Insects

NPR – Tena’s study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is just the latest evidence that a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids, sometimes just called “neonics,” can pose risks to the insect world that are not fully understood.

“This is the problem with water-soluble pesticides like neonics,” says Christian Krupke, an entomologist at Purdue University. “It’s very hard to predict where they’ll go and what will happen when they’re out in the environment.” Other studies have shown that neonicotinoids that are absorbed by crops and wildflowers can later show up in the plants’ nectar and pollen, affecting bees and other pollinators. A few years ago, scientists found that slugs living in the soil were ingesting neonics and thus poisoning slug-eating beetles.

Neonicotinoids are deadly to a wide range of insects, but they are relatively safe for people and other mammals; much safer, for instance, than an older family of insecticides called organophosphates. In recent years, farmers have rapidly increased their use of neonics. Most corn and soybean seeds that are planted in the United States now come pre-coated with them.

Another study published this week argues that this shift has made American agriculture dramatically more toxic for insects.

Science & Technology

Robot tail to balance human body, stop from falling over

Mirror – A robotic tail that claims to balance out the human body could be used instead of a cane to help prevent elderly people from falling over.

The strap-on appendage, known as Arque, has been developed by researchers at Keio University in Japan.

It is inspired by a seahorse’s tail, which is strong enough to withstand predators’ bites but flexible enough to grip things in its environment, like coral.

The tail can be be adjusted to fit whoever is wearing it by adding or removing modular “vertebrae”, the Fast Company reports .

San Diego increases use of streetlamp cameras; Surveillance concerns

San Diego Mail – San Diego has installed thousands of microphones and cameras in so-called smart streetlamps in recent years as part of a program to assess traffic and parking patterns throughout the city.

The technology over the last year caught the attention of law enforcement last year. When police officers picked up Hernandez last summer, they had never used a streetlamp camera in an investigation.

Today, such video has been viewed in connection with more than 140 police investigations. Officers have increasingly turned to the footage to help crack cases, as frequently as 20 times a month.

Police Department officials have said that the video footage has been crucial in roughly 40% of those cases.


Amazon admits it sold fake supplements

Mercola – Amazon notified customers who purchased Align Probiotic made by Procter & Gamble, when they found the third-party vendor had been selling fake supplements; although the FDA regulates supplements, counterfeiters evade the system.

Amazon has an enormous influence on the supplement market as they sell 77% of all vitamins and supplements sold online; the two largest brick and mortar retailers account for a mere 2.3% of online sales.

Although past lawsuits have found Amazon not liable for product counterfeits, one judge reversed a lower court’s decision and found Amazon could be held liable as their business model essentially shields vendors from customers by providing shipping, payment processing and collecting fees.

Counterfeiters have infiltrated Big Pharma, supplement companies, fashion, toys and more, distributing lower quality products that may increase your risk of illness or injury; use caution before purchasing vitamins and supplements, seeking those from trusted and reputable dealers

FDA Admits ‘Data Manipulation’ in Trials of World’s Priciest Drug

WSJ – The Food and Drug Administration said “data manipulation” took place during company studies of Zolgensma, the world’s most expensive drug, but officials said the gene-therapy product still should stay on the market.

Are you deficient in vitamin D? Here’s why it’s a big deal

NaturalNews – With three quarters of American adults deficient in vitamin D, it might be tempting to dismiss this condition as something that is common and therefore not a big deal. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Here’s a look at why vitamin D matters more than you think if you want to live longer and avoid disease.

The first thing that a lot of people associate with a lack of vitamin D is rickets, and while the soft, weak bones this causes is indeed problematic, it’s nothing compared to the other diseases you could face if you don’t get enough of this important vitamin.

One of the most serious problems vitamin D can help prevent is cancer. Studies have shown that people with the highest levels of vitamin D in their blood have the lowest likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer; this group enjoys a 22 percent lower risk compared to those who have the lowest levels of the vitamin. The findings were part of a large public health study in Japan involving more than 140,000 adults.

Researchers have also found a link between a vitamin D deficiency and depression. A meta-analysis conducted in 2013 showed that people with low levels of vitamin D had a significantly higher risk of depression, and it’s believed that this vitamin’s important role in brain function is behind the effect.

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