Today’s News: February 14, 2020

World News

Coronavirus brings China’s surveillance state out of the shadows

Reuters – When the man from Hangzhou returned home from a business trip, the local police got in touch. They had tracked his car by his license plate in nearby Wenzhou, which has had a spate of coronavirus cases despite being far from the epicenter of the outbreak. Stay indoors for two weeks, they requested.

After around 12 days, he was bored and went out early. This time, not only did the police contact him, so did his boss. He had been spotted near Hangzhou’s West Lake by a camera with facial recognition technology, and the authorities had alerted his company as a warning.

“I was a bit shocked by the ability and efficiency of the mass surveillance network. They can basically trace our movements with the AI technology and big data at any time and any place,” said the man, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions.

Chinese have long been aware that they are tracked by the world’s most sophisticated system of electronic surveillance. The coronavirus emergency has brought some of that technology out of the shadows, providing the authorities with a justification for sweeping methods of high tech social control.

China Is Tracking Travelers From Hubei

NY Times – The number of cases surged again in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the epidemic. The authorities are taking a high-tech approach to figuring out who has visited there.

To combat the spread of the coronavirus, Chinese officials are using a combination of technology and policing to track movements of citizens who may have visited Hubei Province.

Mobile phone owners in China get their service from one of three state-run telecommunications firms, which this week introduced a feature for subscribers to send text messages to a hotline that generates a list of provinces they have recently visited.

That has created a new way for the authorities to see where citizens have traveled.

At a high-speed rail station in the eastern city of Yiwu on Tuesday, officials in hazmat suits demanded that passengers send the text messages and then show their location information to the authorities before being permitted to leave the station. Those who had passed through Hubei were unlikely to be allowed entry.

Other cities were taking similar measures.

North Korea’s Secret Coronavirus Crisis is Crazy Scary

Daily Beast – North Korea’s not saying a word about deaths or illnesses from the coronavirus, but the disease reportedly has spread across the border from China and is taking a toll in a country with a dismal health care system and scant resources for fighting off the deadly bug.

UK Approves Large-Scale Internet Censorship

Liberty Nation – The United Kingdom has become the first Western nation to move ahead with large-scale censorship of the internet, effectively creating regulation that will limit freedom on the last frontier of digital liberty. In a move that has the nation reeling, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled rules that will punish internet companies with fines, and even imprisonment, if they fail to protect users from “harmful and illegal content.”

Couched in language that suggests this is being done to protect children from pedophiles and vulnerable people from cyberbullying, the proposals will place a massive burden on small companies. Further, they will ultimately make it impossible for those not of the pervasive politically correct ideology to produce and share content.

The new guardian of the internet will be the Office of Communications (known as Ofcom), a government-approved body that already regulates television, radio, broadcasting, and even the postal service. This group has been accused on many occasions of “acting as the moral arbiter” for the nation, and perhaps unsurprisingly, tends towards a very left-leaning position.

‘As long as I’m president we will have ‘mother’ & ‘father’: Putin backs traditional family values once again

RT – Russia will not introduce politically correct terminology such as “parent #1” and “parent #2” any time soon, Putin told a constitutional reform working group on Thursday, as they discussed family values in Russia.

As for ‘parent #1’ and ‘parent #2’, I have already publicly said it and I will repeat it once more: as long as I am president, we will not have parents #1 and #2, it will be ‘mother’ and ‘father’.

One of the working group members, Russian lawmaker Olga Batalina, told the president that many people in Russia are concerned about the fate of the traditional family and would like to see it protected by the constitution. Putin welcomed the idea but said that it needs careful consideration.

Batalina noted that some people who sent proposals to the 75-strong body which is tasked with processing citizens’ suggestions on the constitutional reform, would very much like to see ‘family’ defined as a “union of a man and a woman.”

Some Western nations have clearly moved beyond such definitions and terms altogether. French schools replaced ‘mother’ and ‘father’ in their documents with ‘parent #1’ and ‘parent #2’ back in February 2019 while Italy initiated a similar process as well but it was stalled by former Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. The US took the lead in this field as early as in 2011 when it announced that it would replace “mother” and “father” on passport applications.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

‘It’s Coming’: CDC Director Warns Coronavirus To Become Widespread Throughout United States, ‘Probably Beyond 2020’

ZeroHedge – The extremely virulent coronavirus which is sweeping through China’s Hubei province like wildfire will eventually gain a foothold in the United States – becoming a ‘community virus’ this year or next, according to CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

“We don’t know a lot about this virus,” Redfield told CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “This virus is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year, and I think eventually the virus will find a foothold and we will get community-based transmission.”

“Right now we’re in an aggressive containment mode,” said Redfield.

As of Thursday, 15 cases have been confirmed in seven states; eight in California, two in Illinois and one in Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Texas, according to CNN.

Redfield says that while more research is needed, the CDC is focused on containment strategies to isolate and slow the progression of the novel coronavirus, buying time to develop a vaccine and antiviral drugs.

“The containment phase is really to give us more time. This virus will become a community virus at some point in time, this year or next year,” said Redfield. “We don’t have any evidence that this coronavirus is really embedded in the community at this time, but with that said, we want to intensify our surveillance so that we’re basing those conclusions based on data.”

While the World Health Organization has argued that travel restrictions on foreign nationals could backfire (on several industries?), the Trump administration has enacted travel restrictions which block foreign nationals who have visited China in the last 14 days from entering the United States. Anyone who has been to Hubei province within two weeks of their return will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ahanom Ghebreyesus opposed travel restrictions last week, saying “We reiterate our call to all countries not to impose restrictions that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Such restrictions can have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit.”

Some Wuhan Evacuees Ask Why They Aren’t Being Tested for the Coronavirus

DNYUZ  – When 195 Americans, including diplomats, were evacuated from Wuhan, China, last month, they were tested for the coronavirus on arrival at a California military base. Health officials swabbed the throats and noses of everyone in the group — the first to be evacuated from Wuhan — and they were relieved when all of their tests came back negative.

But as more government-arranged flights evacuated Americans from China in the days that followed, the federal health authorities adopted a new protocol: Only people who showed symptoms of illness during a 14-day quarantine period would be tested. For some among the more than 600 people who are still waiting to be cleared to go home from military bases in three states, the new rule has left them worried — and angry. Some are pleading with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test them for the coronavirus.

“We are not asking for skateboards or toys,” said Jacob Wilson, 33, one of more than 30 people in quarantine on a base in San Diego who signed a petition this week calling for tests. “We are asking to get tested and make sure we are not passing anything to other people.”

The concerns come as three people in quarantine on bases in San Diego and San Antonio, Texas, tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than a thousand people in China but so far has been found to have infected only 15 people in the United States.

At Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, where 232 people are waiting out a government-mandated two-week quarantine, some evacuees said they worried that they and their children had spent days mingling with people — in an eating area, on a playground and in a laundry room — and would like to know for sure whether or not they have the virus.

“We believe testing everyone at the facility would help identify potential suspects as early as possible, so the appropriate treatment could be put in place,” the evacuees wrote in the petition, which they called a “suggestion letter” and shared with one another over WeChat, a Chinese instant-messaging app.

The C.D.C., however, has declined to test every evacuee. Officials said that such tests are less accurate before people show symptoms, so a negative early result could be misleading rather than helpful. The agency tested everyone on the first evacuation flight, the officials said, because they were learning about the virus and because doing so allowed them to collect more data about it. Since then, they said, they have determined that swabbing hundreds of seemingly healthy people is not useful.

Senate passes Iran War Powers resolution despite Trump’s opposition

WKTV – The Senate has passed the Iran War Powers resolution, a rare measure that has bipartisan support despite the fact that it is opposed by President Donald Trump and aimed at reining in his ability to use military action against Iran without congressional approval

The vote was 55-45. Eight Republicans voted in favor of it: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Todd Young of Indiana, Mike Lee of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Jerry Moran of Kansas.                    The President warned the Senate not to green-light the measure on Wednesday, tweeting that ‘it is very important for our country’s security that the United States Senate not vote for the Iran War Powers Resolution,’ and adding, ‘If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day.’

The White House has also issued a veto threat against it.

Despite that, the resolution, chiefly authored by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, won bipartisan support. Several Republican senators, including Lee, Paul and Collins, signed on as co-sponsors.

Dems Demand Barr Resign, Float Second Trump Impeachment Over Roger Stone Controversy

ZeroHedge – While Attorney General William Barr continues his investigation into Russiagate for which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said ‘half the people are going to jail‘ if we ‘just hang tight,’ Democrats across the board are calling for his resignation – or impeachment, following his decision to overrule federal prosecutors on their recommended sentence for former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

There’s also been talk of a second Trump impeachment over allegations that he interfered in Stone’s case, according to Fox News.

From members of Congress to members of the media, political operatives to law professors, Barr is under intense scrutiny from the left for alleged “misuse of the criminal justice system” involving not only the Stone case, but for the removal of a U.S. Attorney and accepting Ukraine-related information from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. –Fox News

Barr has agreed to answer questions during a March 31 hearing in front of Rep. Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) House Intelligence Committee, after Nadler wrote “you have engaged in a pattern of conduct in legal matters relating to the President that raises significant questions for this Committee,” in a letter confirming that Barr would testify.

Trump insists he has ‘legal right’ to intervene in DOJ cases, but has chosen not to

Fox – President Trump on Friday insisted he has a “legal right” to intervene in criminal cases, but has so far chosen not to — amid a controversy surrounding Attorney General William Barr’s decision to overrule a recommended sentence for former Trump adviser Roger Stone.

Trump quoted comments made by Barr in which the AG said: “The president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.”

“This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as president, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” Trump tweeted.

Top financiers want Biden to drop out so Bloomberg can win: ’He has no chance’

Fox – Is it over for Uncle Joe?

Former Vice President Joe Biden is in New York City Thursday night mingling with Wall Street Democratic fundraisers who he hopes will give him enough cash to fuel his sputtering campaign and help him clinch the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. The back-to-back fundraisers are expected to gin up a solid $1 million in campaign cash

But behind the scenes, the word from the party’s fat-cat set is that the Biden campaign may already be lost despite the Wall Street C-suite names attending the events because former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is poised to take sole control of the party’s moderate wing.

“I feel sorry for Biden,” said Leon Cooperman, a billionaire hedge fund investor who has supported Democrats in the past despite being critical of President Obama. “He should withdraw; he has no chance.”

Like Cooperman, these executives — who work at hedge funds, on Wall Street and in real estate — cite as evidence several factors including Biden’s poor showing in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. They say that much of the money delivered to the Biden campaign as part of Thursday fundraisers at New York City restaurants Sarabeth’s and The Wayfarer was earmarked before his big losses in Iowa and New Hampshire and that big donors have more recently pulled back.

Even more importantly, they point to the emergence of Bloomberg — well-known among the Wall Street money set since many of them are his friends. The former New York City mayor was a Wall Street trader before he started the eponymous news and financial data outfit that made him one of the richest men in America, worth an estimated $60 billion. As FOX Business was first to report, Bloomberg is planning to spend as much as $2 billion of his fortune on the 2020 campaign to either personally defeat President Trump — whom he personally loathes — or finance the Democratic nominee.

Jussie Smollett Indicted And The Age Of Fake Hate Crimes                        Justice finally comes for former ‘Empire’ actor

Infowars – Jussie Smollett has been indicted for a second time after evidence came out that he allegedly staged his own hate crime. As the police, the original prosecutor that dropped his charges and his own friends turning against him, will justice finally be served toward the man who tried to frame Trump supporters?

Leaktivists Pose “Significant Threat” at Same Level as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, US Gov’t Warns   

Activist Post – The U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) has stressed in its latest report that hacktivists and “public disclosure organizations” like WikiLeaks pose a “significant threat” similar to that of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda terrorists, as well as Russia, Iran, and China.

“Ideologically motivated entities such as hacktivists, leaktivists, and public disclosure organizations” pose “significant threats” to the U.S. at the same level as non-state terrorist organizations, according to the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s biannual National Counterintelligence Strategy.

Although the report fails to mention WikiLeaks by name, it references “unauthorized disclosures of US cyber tools” and “public disclosure organizations.” In others words, the CIA hacking tools released under Vault 7 and Vault 8 and the NSA surveillance dragnet revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In 2017, the U.S. Senate considered a bill that would have classified WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service” bundled as part of the 2018 Intelligence Authorization Act. Presumably, that classification would authorize the use of force against WikiLeaks.

Those same words were echoed by former CIA director and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the same year.

“It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia,” Pompeo said at the time.

The NCSC argues that leaks “open up new opportunities for adversaries to use information as a strategic resource in achieving their economic security aims, and exert leverage over their competitors.” The report also insinuates that “emerging technologies” like AI, encryption, and the Internet of Things will benefit U.S. adversaries more than the U.S.

“The United States is facing increasingly aggressive and complex threats from foreign intelligence services, as well as state and non-state actors,” said William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

The NCSC also indicated that Russia and China are using “all instruments of national power to target the United States.” Cuba, Iran, and North Korea were referred to as “significant threats” on the same level as terrorists, hacktivists, and “transnational criminal organizations.”

Economy & Business

Royal Caribbean cancels 18 cruises in Asia amid coronavirus outbreak

Fox – Royal Caribbean International has canceled 18 cruises in Asia amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday, Reuters reports, the Miami-based cruise line announced that 18 upcoming cruises in Southeast Asia have been canceled as officials struggle to contain the viral disease, which is officially known as COVID-19.

Looking ahead, Royal Caribbean has not yet canceled its remaining departures across Asia through the end of April.

World Economy Projected To Shrink For First Time Since 2009 as Coronavirus Plays Havoc With Supply Chains

Activist Post – For more than a decade, the global economy has steadily grown quarter after quarter, but it looks like that streak is about to come to a very abrupt ending.  The coronavirus outbreak in China has brought the Chinese economy to a virtual standstill, and as a result critical supply chains are in a state of chaos all over the world. And since it doesn’t look like the Chinese economy will be able to return to normal for an extended period of time, it appears that a worldwide economic slowdown is imminent.  I warned about this the other day, but now we have even a clearer picture of what is happening.  According to Capital Economics in London, this coronavirus outbreak will cause the global economy to shrink this quarter, and that will be the very first time this has happened since 2009

The economic casualties from China’s coronavirus epidemic are mounting as Asian and European auto plants run short of parts, free-spending Chinese tourists stay home and American companies brace for unpredictable turbulence.

That’s just the start of a financial hangover that is expected to linger for months even if the flulike illness is soon brought under control, economists and supply chain experts say. The Chinese epidemic’s aftereffects will likely cause the global economy to shrink this quarter for the first time since the depths of the 2009 financial crisis, according to Capital Economics in London.

And if the global economy shrinks for two quarters in a row, that will officially meet the definition of a “global recession”.

So here we are on the verge of the worst economic downturn in more than a decade, and even if this outbreak miraculously ended tomorrow it would still take quite an extended period of time for global supply chains to return to normal.

California Auditor Releases Damning Report About Law Enforcement’s Use of Automated License Plate Readers

Activist Post – California police and sheriffs are failing to protect the privacy of drivers on city streets, the California State Auditor’s office determined after a seven-month investigation into the use of automated license plate readers (ALPRs) by the Los Angeles Police Department and three other local law enforcement agencies. California State Senator Scott Wiener sponsored the State Auditor’s report.

The auditor raised a long list of concerns, including fundamental problems with police ALPR policies, failure to conduct audits, and the risk of ALPR data being abused to surveil political rallies or target immigrant populations. In addition to Los Angeles, the auditor investigated the Fresno Police Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, and Marin County Sheriff’s Office. The auditor indicated that the problems are likely prevalent across 230 California law enforcement agencies using ALPRs.

The report is a damning assessment of how California law enforcement agencies use this mass-surveillance technology, which employs  computer-controlled, high-speed cameras mounted on street lights, on top of police cars, or speed-monitoring trailers that automatically capture images of every vehicle that drives by, without drivers’ knowledge or permission. The cameras capture the exact time and place a license plate was seen, and often compares that data point to hot lists of “people of interest” to police. The cameras are capable of capturing millions of data points, which, taken in the aggregate, can paint an intimate portrait of a driver’s life and even chill First Amendment protected activity.

>>Read the State Auditor’s Report.

Energy & Environment

‘Surprised, No. Disgusted, Yes’: Study Shows Deepwater Horizon Oil Spread Much Further Than Previously Known

Common Dreams – Ten years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster sent hundreds of millions of gallons of oil across the Gulf of Mexico, researchers say the reach of the damage was far more significant than previously thought.

In a study published Wednesday in Science, Claire Paris-Limouzy and Igal Berenshtein of the University of Miami revealed that a significant amount of oil was never picked up in satellite images or captured by barriers that were meant to stop the spread.

“Our results change established perceptions about the consequences of oil spills by showing that toxic and invisible oil can extend beyond the satellite footprint at potentially lethal and sub-lethal concentrations to a wide range of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Paris-Limouzy.

The “invisible oil” spread across an area roughly 30% larger than the 92,500 square miles experts previously believed it had reached, the study says.

“I think it kind of changes the way you think about oil spills,” Berenshtein told the Washington Post. “People have to change the way they see this so that they know there’s this invisible and toxic component of oil that changes marine life.”

The ocean protection group Blue Frontier Campaign expressed “disgust” at the revelation—but not surprise.

Scientists Are Developing Solar Panels That Generate Power At Night

NaturalBlaze – According to the most recent data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) wind and solar energy are already cheaper than traditional alternatives in two-thirds of the world, and is expected to be the cheapest option everywhere by 2030.

Breakthroughs in solar technology are making it more efficient and cheaper to extract energy from the sun, which in turn, is making this technology more available to the average person.

One of the major drawbacks of solar energy is that it can only produce energy during the day, but new research published in the journal ACS Photonics, suggests that solar panels can be built in a way that allows them to generate energy at night as well. The basic concept is that energy can be generated through the process of the heat leaving the panels and cooling down at night, this is known as radiative cooling.

In order to generate energy in this way, the team needed to develop what they call “thermoradiative cells.”

The authors of the study wrote that, “In order to produce electrical power after the sun has set, we consider an alternative photovoltaic concept that uses the earth as a heat source and the night sky as a heat sink, resulting in a “nighttime photovoltaic cell” that employs thermoradiative photovoltaics and concepts from the advancing field of radiative cooling.”

Jeremy Munday, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis, is one of the researchers who are working on prototype versions of this technology.

“A regular solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow. In these new devices, light is instead emitted and the current and voltage go in the opposite direction, but you still generate power. You have to use different materials, but the physics is the same,” Munday told UC Davis.

Researchers: Synthetic Chemicals In Soils Are “Ticking Time Bomb”

Dr. Leonard Coldwell – A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater has garnered much attention in the last few years.

The reported levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil, according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.

Nearly 3,000 synthetic chemicals belong to the PFAS class. They have been used since the 1940s in food packaging, water-resistant fabrics, non-stick products, pizza boxes, paints, firefighting foams and more, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The chemicals don’t break down in the environment, nor in the body, and a growing number of research papers have shown that PFAS contamination in water sources is widespread in the United States and that exposure is harmful to health.

Farmers traumatized as swarms devour crops in seconds

CBC – UN warns of potential ‘catastrophe’ as billions of locusts consume crops

The locusts are so bad in some parts of Kenya that entire fields of crops are being devoured in as little as 30 seconds.

Moses Omondi, a program officer at Farm Radio, a charity that works with to bring information and news to farmers, says that in Kitui County, in eastern Kenya, there were no locusts this time last week. Now, entire farms have been destroyed.

Today one farmer [told me] all of his crops have already been consumed.

He is affected psychologically to the extent of telling me that, ‘If worst comes to worst, I can even commit suicide.’ The reason being, this is the source of his income. He’s been taking his kid to school using farm produce. He’s been paying bills using farm produce. So according to him, he [says], ‘Moses, if this continues — if the government is not coming to act — then I’m thinking of committing suicide.’

Most farmers are disturbed psychologically. Others are thinking that maybe it’s a curse from God.

Currently what most farmers are doing is … drumming.

Others are using whistles. They’re blowing the whistles from morning to evening. Some are even taking their lunch and breakfast and probably dinner … blowing whistles. Others are [using] motorbikes by pressing on the horns to scare the locusts. Others are being helped by police reservists … shooting guns so that the locusts can be scared. Others are shouting — literally shouting — the whole family, shouting on the farm to scare the locusts away.

Science & Technology

Fossils of prehistoric human-sized rat that weighed nearly 200 pounds and had massive teeth discovered in South America

Fox – Archaeologists have discovered fossils of an enormous, prehistoric rat that was the size of a human years ago in South America.

Known as Neoepiblema acreensis, the 10-million-year-old rat weighed approximately 180 pounds and had two, gigantic curved incisor teeth on its 5-foot frame that were used to crack nuts and eat prey, researchers wrote in a study. For comparison purposes, the modern brown rat is less than one foot in length and weighs approximately 8 ounces.

The discovery of the two skull fossils was found in the western Brazilian Amazon.

Despite its great size, N. acreensis wasn’t very smart, the researchers discovered, with a CT scan to show its brain likely weighed just 4 ounces. “Although Neoepiblema was one of the largest rodents ever, the brain of this giant rodent was very small relative to its body mass,” the study’s lead author, Jose Ferreira, said in an interview with British news agency SWNS.

he researchers noted that despite its great size, N. acreensis had a “very low encephalization quotient compared to other rodents,” according to the study’s abstract.

New Device Can Power 100 Small LED Lights Simply By Harnessing the Energy of a Single Water Droplet

Good News Network – We are now one step closer to efficiently generating electricity from a single drop of water.

A research team led by scientists from the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has developed a droplet-based electricity generator (DEG): a device that can power up to 100 small LED bulbs simply by harnessing the power of a raindrop.

The device uses a field-effect transistor (FET)-like structure that allows for high energy-conversion efficiency and instantaneous power density increased by thousands times compared to its counterparts without FET-like structure.

The research, which was led by the CityU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, was published in the latest issue of journal Nature.

Hydropower is nothing new. About 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Yet low-frequency kinetic energy contained in waves, tides, and even raindrops are not efficiently converted into electrical energy due to limitations in current technology.

For example, a conventional droplet energy generator based on the triboelectric effect can generate electricity induced by contact electrification and electrostatic induction when a droplet hits a surface. However, the amount of charges generated on the surface is limited by the interfacial effect, and as a result, the energy conversion efficiency is quite low.

In order to improve the conversion efficiency, the research team has spent two years developing the DEG. Its instantaneous power density can reach up to 50.1 W/m2, thousands times higher than other similar devices without the use of FET-like design. And the energy conversion efficiency is markedly higher.

AI predicts when will have heart attack, stroke

Daily Mail – Artificial intelligence has accurately predicted the possibility of heart attack or stroke in a world’s first.

A study led by Barts Health NHS Trust and University College London used AI to analyse cardiac scans of more than 1,000 patients.

Researchers said it’s the first time blood flow scans, which reveal problems with the heart, have been read by a computer.

The technology was more accurate at predicting major cardiovascular events within a 19-month follow-up than a doctor using traditional means.

Researchers said it could be used by medical teams to recommend treatments.

CMR has been validated for detecting coronary artery disease with death and major adverse events, such as heart attack, within a year.

But the researchers argue scan images using this technique are difficult to analyse in a precise manner with the human eye.

Health

Why your Valentine may benefit from hot chocolate during a romantic stroll

Fox – If your Valentine’s Day plans involve a romantic stroll later, you might want to fill those thermoses full of hot chocolate before you head out. A new study suggests a plant compound found in the sweet treat may actually make walking easier for some older adults who struggle with circulation issues, Reuters reported.

Flavonols, which are found in dark chocolate and unprocessed cocoa, have been linked to improved blood flow in several animal studies, so researchers wanted to see if they could record the same results in adults with peripheral artery disease (PAD).

For the study, which was published in the journal Circulation Research, 44 older adults with PAD were asked to drink chocolate-flavored beverages three times per day for six months. Half of the group was given flavanol-rich cocoa while the other was not.

n a six-minute walking test, those given the flavonol-rich cocoa went approximately 60.4 feet further than they did before the study started. Those who were not given the flavonol-rich cocoa walked approximately 79.4 feet less in the six-minute tests at the end of the study.

Researchers noted the difference in distances was enough to be considered significant improvements.

FDA Wants Weight-Loss Drug Taken Off Market Due to Cancer Risk

Newsmax – A clinical trial of the weight-loss drug Belviq (lorcaserin) shows an association with an increased risk of cancer, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is requesting that its maker withdraw the drug from the U.S. market.

Eisai Inc. has already “submitted a request to voluntarily withdraw the drug,” Dr. Janet Woodcock, who directs the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, noted in a statement issued Thursday.

Now, “we’re taking steps to notify the public,” she said, adding that “our review of the full clinical trial results shows that the potential risk of cancer associated with the drug outweighs the benefit of treatment.”

Woodcock said the FDA is advising that “patients should stop using the medication Belviq and Belviq XR [lorcaserin] and talk to their health care professionals about other treatment options for weight loss. Health care professionals should stop prescribing and dispensing Belviq and Belviq XR.”

The agency first announced that Belviq might have links to cancer in a communication issued Jan 15.

>> Related: Green Tea For Weight Loss: Here’s How A Cupful Of Green Tea Can Help You Shed Kilos

Green tea has emerged as one of the most popular health drinks lately. It is not just healthy, but is said to help you lose weight; thanks to the presence of numerous antioxidants and nutrients that provide plenty of health benefits

California Wants to Ban Vitamin B12 Shots and Glutathione

Health Impact News – California is threatening to ban methylcobalamin shots, which sets a dangerous precedent. We must act now. Action Alerts!

The California State Board of Pharmacy has proposed regulatory language that would block patient access to methylcobalamin (B12) injections, IV glutathione, intranasal glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, as well as numerous other medications.

This serious threat to crucial medicines must be opposed immediately to prevent significant harm to patients suffering from debilitating illnesses.

We are also concerned that California’s actions regarding compounding provide a dangerous precedent as the FDA also considers a ban on methylcobalamin, glutathione, and other compounded supplements.

The State Board of Pharmacy has proposed to ban the sterile compounding of ingredients that only have USP dietary supplement monographs.

This resulted from an incident in January 2019 where a California pharmacy compounded L-Glutathione distributed by Letco Medical in a sterile injectable formulation.

As a result, seven patients who received the injectable drug experienced adverse events due to potentially high levels of endotoxins. The California State Board of Pharmacy issued a Compounding Safety Alert about the incident in January 2019.

FDA issued a warning letter on February 1, 2019, warning compounders not to use L-Glutathione distributed by Letco Medical to compound sterile injectable drugs.

According a June 2019 FDA update, “the L-glutathione powder the pharmacies received was labeled with ‘Caution: Dietary Supplement’ and should not have been used to compound sterile injectable drugs.”

The State Board of Pharmacy can and would accept a USP drug monograph, but is proposing to ban substances that have a supplement monograph. This is an arbitrary decision and represents a direct attack on vitamin B12 shots, glutathione, and more.

It is arbitrary because drug and supplement monographs are essentially the same.

Further, compounding pharmacies are required to follow the guidelines set forth in USP <797>, which delineates standards for compounding sterile preparations in all pharmacy settings. These guidelines were specifically designed to avoid patient harm through exposure to, among other things, excessive bacterial endotoxins.

These standards should be sufficient to prevent contaminants in glutathione, and those pharmacies that do not adhere to these standards should be held accountable. Let’s be clear. This was one bad batch, and the problem should have been caught and solved very simply by testing for endotoxins. But once again, government health authorities are using an isolated incident to restrict patient access to important medicines.

>> Power Mall Product of Interest: VeganSafe B-12 – 1 fl oz

Good News

California veteran, 104, gets 200,000 Valentine’s Day cards

Fox – A 104-year-old Marine Corps veteran who served in World War II said he’s “floored” to have received over 200,000 Valentine’s cards from all over the world for his growing collection of keepsakes.

Last month, a friend of Maj. Bill White launched a social media campaign dubbed “Operation Valentine” to collect Valentine’s Day cards for the centenarian veteran.

White resides at an assisted living facility in Stockton, Calif. and cites scrapbooking as a favorite hobby. Along with his many military medals – including a Purple Heart awarded for surviving the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 – White enjoys keeping his scrapbooks and mementos organized, Fox 40 reports.

This year, the spirited vet hoped to grow his collection of keepsakes with 100 Valentine’s Day cards in honor of his 100 years, and was astonished to receive hundreds of thousands of love letters, Reuters reports.

On Wednesday night, White told host Martha MacCallum on “The Story” that well-wishers sent over 200,000 cards ahead of Feb. 14.

Our bodies are chronically in “threat mode”—but being kind recalibrates our nervous system

Lemonade – Being kind to others positively impacts your physical and mental health, according to this groundbreaking research by Stanford professor Dr. James Doty.

  • The default “rest mode” of our brains is often taken over by a “threat mode” setting because of our stressful, “on-the-go” lifestyles. When we are chronically in threat mode, this leaves us with less capacity for compassion.
  • Showing compassion or acting kind to others can actually change your physiology, taking you out of threat mode and putting you back into your natural “rest and digest” mode.
  • Research by a well-known Stanford professor Dr. James Doty has shown that acts of kindness or compassion that put us back into our “rest mode” can have lasting positive impacts on our physical and mental health.

Kindness is a virtue that is admired and applauded, in most cases. But did you know that being kind can also be good for your health? In fact, being compassionate to others can actually reset our consistently stressed systems back into our default “rest mode”, causing all kinds of positive effects to our overall health.

All Australian Bushfires in NSW Have Officially Been Contained Thanks to Week of Heavy Rain

Good News Network – After months of bushfires raging across the Australian coast, elated firefighters have just announced that they have managed to contain all of the fires.

The exciting news comes after a week of historic rainfall in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Although there are still 24 active fires burning in the region, they are small enough for firefighters to manage accordingly.

“After what’s been a truly devastating fire season for both firefighters and residents who have suffered through so much this season, all fires are now contained in NSW, which is great news,” said Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers.

“Not all fires are out, there’s still some fire activity in the far south of the state, but all fires are contained so we can really focus on helping people rebuild.”

STUDY: Exercise makes people happier than money

The Hill – Researchers from the two prestigious universities have published new findings suggesting that  exercise is more important for your mental health than your bank account.

The benefits of routine exercise have been well documented. Blaring headlines tout weight loss, muscle gain, lower cholesterol, improved mental health, sharper focus, stronger bones and a stronger heart, among other improvements.

But a new study has shown that exercise may actually be more important to happiness than wealth.

In a large survey of 1.2 million Americans, researchers from Yale and Oxford universities have shown that people who exercise are markedly happier than people who don’t — even if they have less income.

The study, just published in the leading medical journal Lancet, shows that people who are active report they have 35 days of poor mental health a year. Those who are sedentary report an average of 18 additional down days.

What is remarkable about this study, is that income seems to have less of an impact on happiness than we thought. On average, a sedentary person would have to earn an additional $25,000 to be as happy as a person who exercises.

There is a limit: The research also showed that more and more exercise does not correlate with increasing levels of happiness. It’s a U-shaped curve. Exercising three times a week for 30-60 minutes seems to have the most potent effect on happiness.

So put away your wallet, grab a pair of sneakers and make yourself a little happier than you were yesterday.

Want to Help Bees? Leave the Dandelions Alone This Spring

Good News Network – If you ever wanted to help dwindling honeybee populations, ecologists are encouraging that you “learn to love weeds” and leave the dandelions alone this coming spring.

At the start of her tenure as the new president of the oldest ecological society in the world, Jane Memmott reminded everyone last week that working to live in harmony with nature can be as simple as keeping your lawn pollinator-friendly.

The Bristol University professor admitted she mows around the dandelions and buttercups when she cuts her grass because “you can’t personally help tigers, whales and elephants, but you really can do something for the insects, birds, and plants that are local to you.”

“Think about what you’ve had for breakfast,” she began. The pumpkin seeds in your muesli, apples, whatever made the marmalade on your toast, or even the coffee beans and tea leaves that make up your morning cuppa—all of these products rely on pollinators to survive and thrive.”

The new leader of the British Ecological Society dismissed as silly the origins of lawn fussiness—and most people in America can relate with what she sees in England: “This whole business of keeping your lawn clipped and pulling the weeds out is part of some British obsession with tidiness.”

Whether you have a community allotment, a balcony garden, a front or back garden and lawn, or simply a potted plant, the choice of plants you make can have an impact on your local ecology.

Memmott explains a few general rules for planting pollinators—namely that one should “learn to love weeds,” avoid planting too many pom pom-shaped flowers that focus too much energy into petal production and not enough into producing nectar and pollen. She says that any plant with nectar and pollen parts that you can see without pulling back the petals means that pollinators can see—and use them—too.

“Dandelions are fantastic for early season pollinators. The UK has about 270 species of solitary bee and they love dandelions,” she explains, adding later that if they were rare, people would be fighting over them.

Young Cashier Offers Free Food and Goodies to New York City Customers Who Solve Simple Math Problems

Good News Network – A New York City convenience store cashier is going viral for allowing his customers to load up on free food and snacks—but he does have one simple condition for his generosity.

20-year-old Ahmed Alwan has been asking his customers at the Lucky Candy deli to answer spontaneous math questions at the counter.

If they successfully solve the problem, Alwan gives them five seconds (and oftentimes more than five seconds) to grab all the goodies they can carry.

Customers have walked out of the Bronx convenience store carrying everything from bluetooth speakers to bananas and loaves of bread—and Alwan gives it all away for free.

“All I wanted to do was to help people, but I wanted to make it fun,” Alwan told CNN. “It’s a way to entertain and educate people in need while putting a smile on their face, too.”

30,000 Pounds of Leftover Super Bowl Food Saved From Landfill and Donated to Charity

Rather than rotting in a landfill, more than 30,000 pounds of leftover Super Bowl food are being used to feed hungry Floridians.

All the uneaten food from last week’s game at the Hard Rock Stadium has been donated to local shelters throughout southern Florida.

NFL Green organizers partnered with Centerplate and food recovery charity Food Rescue US in order to facilitate the massive volunteer mission throughout the week following Sunday’s game.

“We know food insecurity impacts one in seven people in the state of Florida,” said Carol Shattuck, CEO of Food Rescue US. “Through our work with Centerplate and NFL Green, we can make sure excess food from Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Beach Convention Center helps to feed individuals and families throughout Miami, while also not contributing to the growing food waste crisis in the U.S.”

The rescued food includes uneaten chicken wings, ribs, tenderloins, and charcuteries from concession stands and VIP booths.

The food is expected to feed 20,000 people after it is all successfully distributed between the Miami Rescue Mission, Broward Outreach Center, Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Lotus House Shelter, and Camillus House.

Food Rescue US Miami director Ellen Bowen told ESPN: “It’s a full volunteer job for everyone. We just want to help people in need. It’s amazing to see how much food there is that otherwise would have been thrown in the trash that can now feed so many people.”