July 4, 2020

Today’s News: December 31, 2019

World News

Iraq Condemns “Dangerous Escalation” as US Kills 25 With Bombs and Threatens Iran

Activist Post – Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi on Sunday accused the Trump administration of violating his nation’s sovereignty and further heightening tensions in the region after the U.S. bombed several targets in Iraq and Syria, killing at least 25 fighters and injuring dozens more.

“We have previously confirmed our rejection of any unilateral action by the coalition forces or any other forces inside Iraq, and we consider it as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region,” Abdul-Mahdi said of the U.S. strikes.

The Pentagon claimed the airstrikes, which U.S. President Donald Trump approved late Saturday, were a “defensive” response to a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base last week that killed an American contractor.

Protesters ‘break into’ US embassy compound in Baghdad, as crowds rally against American airstrikes in Iraq (PHOTO, VIDEO)

RT – Dozens of Iraqi protesters furious over airstrikes that targeted Hezbollah positions have forced their way into the US embassy compound in Baghdad. Tear gas and sounds of gunfire were reported at the scene.

The crowd was able to gain access to sections of the heavily-fortified Green Zone, smashing doors and security cameras on the wall surrounding the diplomatic building, according to the Associated Press. The agency said that there was a fire in one part of the compound, and that at least three US soldiers were spotted on the roof of the embassy.

Plumes of dark smoke could be seen rising from the compound, as protesters waved Hezbollah flags and chanted “Down, down USA!”, “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

Donald Trump: Iran Will Be Held Fully Responsible for Attacks in Iraq

Breitbart – President Donald Trump warned Iran on Tuesday that it would be held responsible for the militia attacks in Iraq.

“We strongly responded, and always will,” Trump said. “Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible.”

The Takeover: China Is Building Enormous Self-Sustaining Chinese Cities All Over The African Continent

Michael Snyder – During colonial times, European powers exploited Africa for the vast resources that it possesses.  But what China is doing today is actually much worse. Yes, the Chinese greatly desire African resources, but ultimately what they want is Africa itself.  But instead of conquering Africa using military force, China is using economics instead. Today, more than 10,000 Chinese-owned firms are operating in Africa, and virtually every major road, bridge, railway and skyscraper is being built by the Chinese.  As a result, most African nations are very deeply indebted to China at this point. And as you will see below, when those debts go bad that gives the Chinese a tremendous amount of leverage.

Many people believe that the endgame for China is to make a whole lot more money and to gain control over a whole lot more resources.  And China is undoubtedly pursuing those goals, but as Forbes has noted, ultimately what this is about is turning Africa “into another Chinese continent”…

The reason Chinese corporations are in Africa is simple; to exploit the people and take their resources. It’s the same thing European colonists did during mercantile times, except worse. The Chinese corporations are trying to turn Africa into another Chinese continent. They are squeezing Africa for everything it is worth.

Right now, approximately two million Chinese citizens already live in Africa, and that number is steadily rising with each passing month.

These days, it is difficult to find a major construction project on the continent that is not being handled by the Chinese, and this has enabled them to put their imprint on some of the largest African cities.  For example, just check out what is happening in Nairobi, Kenya

On the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, a small sign points to “Beijing Road,” where a new housing development called the Great Wall Apartments looks like the concrete towers you’d find in a Chinese city.

Across Africa, Chinese developers are building highways, light rail systems, apartment buildings, and entire cities.

Most of the “cities” that China is building are known as “special economic zones”.  These “special economic zones” are essentially enormous self-sustaining Chinese cities that have been dropped right into some of the most strategic parts of Africa.  For example, one of the biggest has been built right next to Lagos, Nigeria

Next to Lagos, Nigeria, Chinese developers have built a walled-off “special economic zone”–basically a separate city, with separate rules designed to attract investors–based on a model they’ve used inside China for the last 30 years. After Shenzhen became a special economic zone in the 1980s, it went from a small town of 20,000 to, by some counts, 15 million today.

In these “special economic zones”, you will find Chinese factories staffed with Chinese managers that are supervising Chinese workers that are using Chinese equipment to make their products.

And the size of some of these projects is absolutely staggering

Chinese State Media: ‘Gun Ownership Out of Control in U.S.’

Breitbart – China’s state-run Global Times on Monday used the weekend’s shootings to argue that gun ownership is “out of control” in the United States and mass shootings are “shocking in a U.S. allegedly governed by law.”

That curious phrasing — criminals by definition do not obey laws, so their existence does not prove a nation is lawless — belied China’s desire to use mass shootings as a way of slapping back at Americans who criticize Beijing for such horrors as the persecution of the Uyghur Muslims and the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The authoritarian Chinese Communist Party (CCP) calls every nation with more freedom “lawless” to justify China’s heavy censorship, politicized justice system, and ruthless suppression of dissent.

For obvious reasons, the CCP has serious problems with the private ownership of firearms, so it attacked America’s Second Amendment with gusto in the Global Times:

The right to bear arms is enshrined by the US Constitution. No official statistics are on record counting how many guns there are among the US people, but the number is generally estimated to be hundreds of millions. Who own these guns? Are certain people prepared to use them as murder weapons? These issues have not been tracked or supervised effectively. Various criminal motives exist in American society. From the perspective of gun murders, the US is beset with crises.

Private gun ownership is a tradition from the early days at the founding of the US. In a modern society, the problems created by this tradition have already exceeded the benefits. Crime is one of the increasingly prominent modern diseases in several societies in the 21st century, and the spread of guns enables crime to unleash greater killing energy.

American society has already seen serious problems caused by the private ownership of guns, but their massive number has contributed to an enormous inertia. Many interest groups have benefited from it and some ordinary people have truly gained a sense of safety. To change this habit which has lasted hundreds of years, tremendous political courage and a rearrangement of interests is required.

The Chinese paper called it a “fact” that the U.S. cannot handle guns and bemoaned the victims of crime as “helpless” because they can’t demand stricter gun control laws. “Everyone must accept the risk that a shooting may occur at any time anywhere,” the Global Times asserted.

‘I’m slowly dying here’: ‘Sedated’ Assange tells friend during Christmas Eve call from UK prison as health concerns mount

RT – Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, British journalist Vaughan Smith told RT, noting the WikiLeaks founder had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged.

Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete.

“I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” Smith told RT, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.

Criticizing government through online speech will soon be a CRIMINAL offense under dangerous new UN “speech police” rules backed by Russia, Communist China

Natural News – f ever there ever was a reason why the United States should seriously consider ending its relationship with, and support of, the United Nations, a new measure the world body just adopted provides a great reason.

The UN General Assembly last week approved a Russia-led initiative that seeks to create a new global convention on cybercrime that was also backed by Communist China. And while ‘fighting cybercrime’ seems all well and good, Western groups concerned about the preservation of civil rights believe that what really motivated the two powers to push for the initiative was a desire to curb freedom of speech and expression online.

As Breitbart News reports, the newly approved measure would establish a committee of “international experts” in the coming year:

The panel will work to set up “a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes,” the resolution said.

The United States, European powers and rights groups fear that the language is code for legitimizing crackdowns on expression, with numerous countries defining criticism of the government as “criminal.”

At present, Chinese Communist leaders already restrict online searches and activities so that nothing critical of their activities can be found by citizens. In addition, Chinese authorities block access to news media that are critical of the regime.

And in fact, other nations have become somewhat authoritarian in their handling of online access, even the world’s biggest democracy — India. New Delhi cut off Internet access in Kashmir earlier this year after the government stripped away the autonomy of the Muslim-majority region.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

West Virginia governor approves firing of all employees involved in apparent Nazi salute photo
Fox – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Monday approved the termination of dozens of Corrections Academy trainees seen in a photograph appearing to give a Nazi salute.

The photograph, released publicly earlier this month by the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, showed more than 30 trainees from Basic Training Class 18 with their arms raised in a salute. The caption “Hail Byrd!” – a reference to the trainees’ instructor – is visible above the group.

Before the image was released, Jeff Sandy, the agency’s secretary, had written a memo in which he derided the image as “distasteful, hurtful, disturbing, highly insensitive, and completely inappropriate.”

He said the image “betrays the professionalism I have seen time and time again displayed and practiced by our brave correctional employees.”

After the photo was made public, two training instructors and one cadet were fired, while 34 other employees, including the trainees in the photo, were suspended without pay. Now, at the recommendation of Sandy, Justice has approved all trainees who participated in the Nazi-like salute be fired.

Justice also approved for the termination of an Academy staff member who did not report the photo, and the suspension without pay of four instructors who had reportedly seen the photo but did not report its content.

Schumer Demands Witnesses Be Called at Senate Impeachment Trial

NYT – Senator Chuck Schumer was responding to an article that detailed how a number of White House advisers dealt with the president’s order to freeze military aid for Ukraine.

Judge Orders Alex Jones and Infowars to Pay $100,000 in Sandy Hook Legal Fees

Daily Beast – A Texas judge has ordered Alex Jones and his InfoWars hoax website to pay more than $100,000 in court costs and legal fees, marking the latest court victory for a Sandy Hook family suing Jones for his promotion of conspiracy theories about the 2012 shooting.

Jones and InfoWars are being sued by Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old son was killed in the Newtown, CT shooting. On Dec. 20, Travis County Judge Scott Jenkins granted a motion for sanctions and legal expenses against Jones and InfoWars, ordering them to pay $65,825 for ignoring a court order about providing documents and witnesses. In another ruling issued that same day in Heslin’s case, Jenkins denied an InfoWars motion to dismiss the case and ordered Jones and InfoWars to pay an additional $34,323.80, for a combined total of $100,148.80 levied against Jones and InfoWars in a single day.

Added to an earlier October order against InfoWars, Jones and his outlet have been ordered to pay $126,023.80 over the case, even before it reaches trial.

“It’s hardly a surprise that someone like Alex Jones would soon find himself in contempt of court, but now he is learning there are severe consequences to his utter disrespect for this process,” Mark Bankston, one of Heslin’s attorneys, said in an email to The Daily Beast.

Veteran News

VA announces broad suicide-prevention partnership and safe firearm-storage partnership

VA Blog – Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it has recently formalized two partnerships aimed at preventing Veteran suicide.

Effective January, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) began collaborating with VA to advance and improve the quality of life for Veterans to prevent suicides. Through this partnership, VA and AFSP have been exchanging research on suicide and prevention efforts. AFSP has also begun sharing VA suicide-prevention messaging.

Effective last November, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) began working with VA to develop a program that will empower communities to engage in safe firearm-storage practices. The program will include information to help communities create coalitions around promoting and sustaining firearm safety with an emphasis on service members, Veterans and their families.

“We want all Americans to know that suicide is preventable.” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “By working with local organizations and community partners, we’re confident that we can make a meaningful difference to reduce suicide among Veterans.”

These innovative partnerships highlight the shared mission between the VA, nonprofit organizations and local communities to end suicide among those who have served or are currently serving.

Research shows there is no single cause for suicide: It is the outcome of multiple contributing factors and events. However, environmental factors, such as access to lethal means, increase the risk for suicide. Firearms are one of the most deadly and common methods for suicide among Americans — particularly for service members and Veterans.

Economy & Business

Central Bank Gold Hoarding Hits 50-Year High

Activist Post – While dozens of the world’s economic leaders participate in extreme monetary easing policy, central banks have also been hoarding gold. Central banks accumulated over 668 tons in gold purchases this year, which is more than 2018’s record numbers. In fact, the key drivers in gold demand this year stemmed from central bank purchases, most of which were bought (390 tons) during the first two quarters of 2019.

Central Bank Gold Purchases in 2019 Surpass Last Year’s 50-Year Milestone

During the last few months of 2019, economists have been warning of worldwide economic calamity. Moreover, at least 37 developed central banks have participated in significant monetary easing practices like large-scale overnight repos and slashing interest rates. Every time one of the banks cuts a nation’s interest rate or fuels the country’s private banks with stimulus, they cite a weak economy, lack of liquidity, and rising inflation. However, most people don’t know that while central planners are toying with the global economy, they’re also purchasing gold in mass quantity. Despite gold bug Peter Schiff’s recent opinion, BTC prices outshined gold gains this year. Still, gold had a very good year touching an all-time high at $1,542 per ounce and gained more than 10% this year. One of the biggest reasons for gold’s significant rise was due to central bank purchases.

Trump Says He Will Sign Phase 1 US Trade Deal With China on 15 January

Sputnik –  A senior US administration official told reporters on 13 December that China had agreed to increase its purchases of goods from the United States by $200 billion over the next two years under a newly forged partial trade deal between the two countries.

US President Donald Trump has stated on Twitter that Washington and Beijing’s phase one trade deal will be signed at the White House on 15 January.

Prior to this, Trump stated that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping would soon hold a signing ceremony for phase one of the bilateral trade agreement.

Energy & Environment

Residents flee towards the sea as Australian bushfires intensify

Al Jazeera – About 4,000 residents from Mallacoota town fled to waterside as winds pushed wildfire towards their homes.

York to ban private car journeys from city centre within three years

Guardian – The medieval city of York has announced plans to ban private car journeys from the city centre within three years in an effort to cut carbon emissions.

Councillors spelled out the “unashamedly ambitious” goal that would follow the lead of Bristol, which is due to become the first UK city to ban diesel cars by 2021.

The historic Yorkshire city, which attracts nearly 7 million visitors a year, is one of several UK cities with illegally high levels of air pollution.

The ban would stop all non-essential private car journeys inside York’s city walls by 2023, with an exemption for people who rely on cars such as disabled residents.

Germany Aims To Close All Nuclear Plants By 2022

Investment Watch Blog – Germany is going forward with its plan to phase out nuclear reactors by 2022 as another nuclear power plant is going offline on December 31.

Power company EnBW has said that it would take the Philippsburg 2 reactor off the grid at 7 p.m. local time on New Year’s Eve.

This leaves Germany with six nuclear power plants that will have to close by 2022.

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, Germany ordered the immediate shutdown of eight of its 17 reactors, and plans to phase out nuclear power plants entirely by 2022.

Health

Reject Big Pharma’s Vaccine Mandates in 2020

Merocla – In June 2019, Maine passed a new law, LD798, which revokes religious and philosophical/personal belief vaccine exemptions and bars access to education and certain types of employment for people who decline one or more state-mandated vaccines for themselves or their minor children.

A people’s veto petition to overturn LD798 garnered 95,871 signatures from registered voters, who can act on March 3, 2020, to overturn the new law on a special ballot approved by the Maine secretary of state.

Maine will be the first state to put government vaccine mandates to a popular vote

Everywhere we look, we find signs of out-of-control Big Pharma influence on state governments and in Congress. The growing power of medical trade groups is threatening health choices, too, as doctors put pressure on state departments of children and family services to remove newborns from parents if they refuse to consent to risky or nonessential medical procedures, such as the vitamin K shot.

Take a stand for informed consent to medical risk-taking by supporting Maine’s “Yes on 1” initiative with a donation that will make it possible to notify Maine voters to show up and cast a vote March 3. If you’re a Maine resident, also be sure to mark your calendar to cast your vote March 3, 2020.

GMO Rice Coming to Your Plate Soon

Mercola – The Philippines Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry approved the use of genetically engineered (GE) “Golden Rice” for direct use as food or feed, as well as for processing.

The approval is being heralded as a solution to rising rates of vitamin A deficiency in the Philippines, as the rice is engineered to produce beta-carotene.

Serious questions remain about Golden Rice’s safety, as well as its ability to increase vitamin A levels in those who are deficient.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines blasted the approval, calling on the government to “immediately reverse the faulty decision, which the environment group maintains is based on insufficient data”.

Stay hydrated and eat your fruits and veggies: 6 Foods that help support healthy kidneys

NaturalNews – The kidneys are the two bean-shaped organs near your lower back, and they play a vital role in your body’s ability to detoxify as well as overall health. They are responsible for filtering out the toxins and excess wastes from the body and passing them as urine. Eating the right foods can help boost their performance and ensure that they keep working properly.

6 Foods that help boost kidney health

Diets today are not kind to kidneys. They often contain too much salt and other compounds that kidneys have to filter later. Take care of the kidneys by eating more of the foods below:

  1. Apples

Apples contain a soluble fiber called pectin. This compound helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, high amounts of which may contribute to kidney disease. Additionally, they make a healthy sweet snack to satisfy cravings.

  1. Blueberries

Many types of berries are beneficial to kidney health, but blueberries are particularly helpful. They are rich in fiber and vitamin C, among other nutritious compounds. Blueberries are also rich in antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. They are low in sodium, phosphorus and potassium – ideal for a kidney-friendly diet.

  1. Dark green leafy vegetables

Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are some of the most nutritious foods available. They are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and other bioactive compounds. Moreover, they are excellent sources of potassium, a compound that can help regulate sodium level

  1. Fresh fish

Fresh, fatty fish, such as wild-caught salmon, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds help regulate blood pressure and reduce triglyceride levels, high levels of which may contribute to kidney disease.

  1. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are packed with fiber, which can prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin. This contributes to a better cardiovascular system, which comprises of the heart, blood vessels and the blood. Additionally, they are rich sources of potassium. Once again, they are not advisable for people who already have kidney disease.

  1. Water

Water may not be a food item, but it is a crucial component of kidney (and overall) health. Water is a primary component of urine through which toxins and excess waste are released. Make sure to drink at least eight glasses of water every day

Despite Ban, DDT Still Harming Babies

Newsmax – Decades-banned pesticides apparently continue to interfere with fetal growth during U.S. pregnancies, a new study reports.

DDT was banned in 1972 in the United States, but low levels of it and other organic chemical pollutants can still be found in the blood of pregnant American women, researchers reported online Dec. 30 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Women carrying even low levels of these pollutants had slightly smaller fetuses than women whose exposure to the chemicals was less, results showed.

The most consistent effects seemed to come from DDT and related pesticides, said study co-author Pauline Mendola, an investigator at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

“Bones seem to be more affected,” she said. “Head circumference and femur length were more often impacted than other growth measures.”

This study looked at persistent organic pollutants — chemicals once used in agriculture, pest control, manufacturing and industrial processes. These include DDT and dioxins like PCBs.

Although most of these chemicals are banned or rarely used in the United States, they are slow to break down and are still present in the food chain, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical and health officer for the March of Dimes.

“More than 90% of human exposure is through food,” he said.

CO Poisoning: The Hidden Danger of Emergency Heaters

NaturalBlaze – I previously wrote about how to survive a winter storm at home in case your power goes out, which has some great overall information in it to help you prepare, but I realized I’d missed something important and thought I should address it in its own post – the danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and what you absolutely need to know about it.

A few days ago, Colorado hit the lowest recorded temp in continental US history at -32F. We’ve also had a couple of really bad storms blow across the US already this winter and several people have died. In many emergencies, such as this, you need to rely on emergency heating, and if you don’t have the right heater or setup, there is a real danger of getting carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) vs. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

So a lot of people first get a little confused because they think CO is harmless because that’s what we breathe out, right? Actually,  no. We breathe out carbon dioxide (CO2), not CO. CO2 is what plants use to convert to sugar and oxygen during photosynthesis and is a by-product of complete combustion (burning). CO is a byproduct of inefficient burning and is extremely dangerous.

According to the CDC, over 400 people die in the US alone every year and over 50,000 people go to the emergency room for CO poisoning. One note here: the death rate around the world is MUCH higher than that, due to hospitals here being able to recognize and test for it so they can treat people before it’s too late.

Your body can take in a lot of CO2 so even though it’s not impossible for it to be dangerous, it’s extremely rare. CO, on the other hand, does bad things to your body. I’m not going to go into deep scientific detail here since most of you just want to know what the danger is and what you can actually do about it but essentially, CO binds with the hemoglobin of your blood easier than oxygen does, so it basically starves your body of oxygen.

What Heaters Cause CO Increases?

Basically, any heater that burns something (coal, propane, whatever), can cause CO output and put your life in danger. This includes:

  • fireplaces
  • wood stoves
  • gas appliances
  • kerosene heaters
  • charcoal grills
  • oil, propane or gas furnaces

Basically, if it burns some kind of fuel and isn’t properly ventilated to the outside world, it can be a problem. The heaters listed above are most likely safe, as long as you have some sort of sensor to tell you in case of a leak.

In any case, one of the best ways to help protect yourself or your family from CO poisoning is to use a sensor. Your house may not have a CO sensor in it, and even if it does, it may not be sufficient to tell you the amount of CO in the room you’re sleeping in, especially if you’ve walled off parts of your home to conserve heat.

I’d suggest that you make sure you have a CO sensor in the room you’re heating in an emergency, and if that’s not possible, just buy one. They’re not that expensive. Also, something like this is dangerous enough that due to them being so inexpensive, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup.