The Guardian – Theresa May has refused to rule out giving US companies access to NHS contracts as part of a future trade deal with Donald Trump’s White House.
At prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, challenged May over how she would respond if Washington pushed for access to Britain’s public services for US corporations.
Afterwards May’s press secretary repeatedly refused to comment further. He stressed that as part of TTIP, the US-EU trade deal that has never been finalised, the UK had secured exemptions to ensure the NHS could not be targeted.
However, he would not rule out, in principle, US private sector involvement in the NHS in future.
BBC – Indian officials are investigating claims that a fake doctor in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has infected at least 33 people with HIV with a used syringe. The unqualified practitioner allegedly used one syringe, which he recycled to treat colds and the flu. Federal health officials will visit Unnao district, where the incident occurred, to investigate the matter. The suspect reportedly charged 10 rupees (11p; 15 cents) for each jab. It is not clear how many of the confirmed cases were contracted from the alleged used syringe.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
CNN – Senate leaders unveiled a two-year budget deal Wednesday, a major victory for both parties that could prevent a government shutdown at the end of this week. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the deal with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor, which would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years as well as and more than $80 billion in disaster relief.
While the bill is expected to pass easily in the Senate, the House will be a tougher sell. The caps deal will likely need Democratic support and some Democrats have been emphatic that they don’t want to agree to raising budget caps until they have assurances that recipients of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will be protected. Conservatives in the House are also expected to balk at a deal that raises spending by $300 billion over the next two years.
Fox News – Newly revealed text messages between FBI paramours Peter Strzok and Lisa Page include an exchange about preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey to give to President Obama, who wanted “to know everything we’re doing.”
The message, from Page to Strzok, was among thousands of texts between the lovers reviewed by Fox News. The pair both worked at one point for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016, about prepping Comey because “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.” According to a newly released Senate report, this text raises questions about Obama’s personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation.
Infowars – Las Vegas massacre gunman Stephen Paddock was paranoid that he was a victim of government mind control, according to a prostitute who stayed in his infamous Mandalay Bay hotel suite.
In an article that has received virtually no attention, the Radar reveals that a call girl who was booked to see Paddock either the day before or the day of the massacre was reported missing by her boyfriend after the shooting, which left 58 dead and 800 injured.
According to another sex worker named Mikaela, the prostitute “was telling girls after work that she was scared something would happen to her.”
Mikaela also claims that shortly before the attack, Paddock began sending deranged messages to another call girl in which he claimed to be a victim of government mind control.
CNN Wire – Initial planning for the military parade requested by President Donald Trump is now underway, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford has confirmed.
It is expected that the Army Military District of Washington, which oversees some military activities in the city, will be designated to coordinate parade planning, according to a senior defense official.
One option being considered is to hold the parade in November in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I on November 11, 1918, the official said.
WND – A California judge has refused to advance a social agenda in his state that targets Christians who refuse to endorse homosexuality through their work.In this case it was baker Cathy Miller of Tastries Bakery who was put in a state bull’s-eye because she refused to use her artistic talents to promote the “wedding” of two lesbians.
The state asked Superior Court Judge David Lampe to issue a preliminary injunction ordering Miller either to create wedding cakes for same-sex duos or be barred from serving anyone.
But Lampe recognized that the issue is not about discrimination against same-sex couples.
The same issue is before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case brought by Colorado against Masterpiece Cakeshop baker Jack Phillips, who refused to make a wedding cake for two homosexuals at a time when same-sex marriage was illegal in the state.
The Supreme Court is expected to announce a verdict within the next few months.
Activist Post – Fifteen years after the calamitous U.S. invasion of Iraq, an architect of the propaganda used to drum up support for the war is warning that it’s happening again — this time with Iran.
Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, helped the then-secretary “paint a clear picture that war was the only choice” in his infamous 2003 speech to the U.N. This week, writing for the New York Times — an outlet that, at the time, parroted misleading narratives in support of the war — Wilkerson accused the Trump administration of manipulating evidence and fear-mongering in the same way the Bush administration did to cultivate public support for ousting Saddam Hussein.
In his Monday op-ed, titled “ I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It’s Happening Again,”
Though the U.N. and much of the world didn’t buy it, Wilkerson says Americans did, and it amounted to the culmination of a two-year effort by the Bush administration to initiate the war, which he now condemns.
“That effort led to a war of choice with Iraq — one that resulted in catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition, and that destabilized the entire Middle East,” he wrote, going on to call out the Trump administration for pushing the United States down the same path in Iran.
“This should not be forgotten,” he urged, “since the Trump administration is using much the same playbook to create a false impression that war is the only way to address the threats posed by Iran.”
Wilkerson singled out Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for her recent saber-rattling against Iran. He accused her of presenting questionable evidence that “Iran was not complying with Security Council resolutions regarding its ballistic missile program and Yemen,” comparing her directly to Powell. “Just like Mr. Powell, Ms. Haley showed satellite images and other physical evidence available only to the United States intelligence community to prove her case. But the evidence fell significantly short.”
CBS – Prosecutors on Wednesday charged 37-year-old Manuel Orrego-Savala in a drunken-driving crash that killed Indianapolis Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver in Indiana. Orrego-Savala, an immigrant illegally living in the U.S., was charged with four felony counts related to the Sunday crash along Interstate 70 in Indianapolis.
The citizen from Guatemala was due in court later Wednesday for an initial hearing on the charges: causing death while driving intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident.
Economy & Business
CNNMoney – The owner of the Los Angeles Times has reached a deal to sell the paper to biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, bringing the paper back under local control for the first time in nearly two decades. Tronc, the Chicago-based company formerly known as Tribune Publishing, will sell the Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the rest of its California News Group to Soon-Shiong for $500 million in cash, plus the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities, the company announced Wednesday morning.
The Christian Science Monitor – One of China’s biggest makers of solar panels said Tuesday it will invest $309 million to expand manufacturing in India in a move to guard against what it complained is a rising threat of import controls in the United States and other markets.
Longi Solar Technology Ltd.’s announcement follows the Trump administration’s Jan. 24 decision to impose an extra 30 percent duty on imported solar modules. An Indian regulator says it is considering a “safeguard tariff” of 70 percent on solar panels from China and Malaysia.
Reuters – .S. stock index futures cut their early losses by half but Wall Street was still set to open lower on Wednesday, an almost 2 percent gain in the previous session failing to calm the nerves following the Dow’s biggest intraday fall on Monday.
Energy & Environment
Sky News – At least five people have died and dozens more are missing after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook a city on the east coast of Taiwan.
At least five buildings in Hualien City caved in and were shown tilting on their sides in the tourist port city. Rescuers are working to reach five people they know are trapped in buildings, while more than 140 are unaccounted for. The worst hit was a military hospital which rescuers have propped up with cranes as it leans at about 45 degrees.
Science & Technology
BBC – US entrepreneur Elon Musk has launched his new rocket, the Falcon Heavy, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mammoth vehicle – the most powerful since the shuttle system – lifted clear of its pad without incident to soar high over the Atlantic Ocean.
It was billed as a risky test flight in advance of the lift-off. The SpaceX CEO said the challenges of developing the new rocket meant the chances of a successful first outing might be only 50-50.
With this debut, the Falcon Heavy becomes the most capable launch vehicle available. It is designed to deliver a maximum payload to low-Earth orbit of 64 tonnes – the equivalent of putting five London double-decker buses in space. Such performance is slightly more than double that of the world’s next most powerful rocket, the Delta IV Heavy – but at one third of the cost, says Mr Musk.
Infowars – Newly unearthed patents reveal how Google plans to spy on children and families in the home and then issue verbal instructions on how they can improve their behavior. Fox News’ Tucker Carlson revealed a September 2016 patent in which Google imagines how it can “take control of your parenting, your relationship with your children”.
In one example, Google plans to track if children are attempting to interact with their parent’s liquor cabinet and infer if “mischief” is taking place, before issuing a verbal warning to the child through the system’s speaker.
In another example, a hypothetical child called Benjamin is under 24/7 surveillance by Google’s cameras, whether he is using electronics or playing outside.
The system would aim to “coach” families on “areas of improvement,” and scold them if they are not spending enough time eating together.
Google responded to the Fox News story by issuing a pithy statement that read, “We file patent applications of a variety of ideas that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into products or services, some don’t.”
BBC -Researchers from London’s Natural History Museum extracted DNA from Cheddar Man, Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which was discovered in 1903.
University College London researchers then used the subsequent genome analysis for a facial reconstruction. It underlines the fact that the lighter skin characteristic of modern Europeans is a relatively recent phenomenon. No prehistoric Briton of this age had previously had their genome analysed. As such, the analysis provides valuable new insights into the first people to resettle Britain after the last Ice Age. The analysis of Cheddar Man’s genome – the “blueprint” for a human, contained in the nuclei of our cells – will be published in a journal, and will also feature in the upcoming Channel 4 documentary The First Brit, Secrets Of The 10,000-year-old Man.
AP – Russian cyberspies pursuing the secrets of military drones and other sensitive U.S. defense technology tricked key contract workers into exposing their email to theft, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Natural Health News – Supplementing with lemon verbena extract could help reduce muscle damage caused by heavy exercise, according to a study conducted in Germany.
Forty participants, 19 men and 21 women, were analysed in the study. All were non-smoking, moderately active men and women between the ages 22 and 50 years with a BMI between 19 and 30 kg/m2. The researchers also narrowed down the study to include only participants who ate five or less portions of fruits plus vegetables on an average day.
The men and women were divided into two groups which received either 200mg of a lemon verbena supplement – Recoverben, a proprietary lemon verbena extract made by water extraction of organic dried lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora) leaves – or 200 mg of maltodextrin as a placebo.