AP – Iran or its proxy forces may be planning further strikes on American interests in the Middle East, and the U.S. is prepared to take preemptive military action if it gets sufficient warning, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Thursday.
“The game has changed,” Esper said, citing a series of violent attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq in recent months by Iran-supported militia groups. “We’re prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region.”
On Tuesday, after a crowd of Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, the Pentagon sent a Marine quick-reaction force to the embassy, and later it dispatched several hundred Army paratroopers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The paratroopers are in Kuwait as what Esper called “defensive support.”
RT – US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has warned that he will take “preemptive action” to “protect US forces” if he receives word of attacks by Iran or its “proxy forces,” claiming to have indications of such attacks in the future.
Esper said he expects more “provocative behavior” by “Iran-backed” groups – and warned that “they will likely regret it.”
Breitbart – Iran was not seeking war but remained unafraid of any potential future conflict, a top Iranian commander said on Thursday, after U.S. President Donald Trump said Tehran orchestrated anti-U.S. protests in Iraq.
RT – The Turkish parliament has voted to approve a plan to send troops to support the UN-recognized government in Libya as it continues to fight forces loyal to a rival government in the eastern part of the country.
Lawmakers approved the motion, which grants a one-year mandate for the troop deployment, in an emergency session on Thursday. The motion passed by 325 votes to 184.
Breitbart – The number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel rose by nearly 400 per cent in 2019.
In 2019 the number of migrants attempting to enter the UK illegally by crossing the English Channel surged to 2,358, quadrupling the number of 2018, which saw 586 people attempting the perilous sea journey across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
Washington Examiner – Julian Castro is no longer seeking the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination.
“With only a month until the Iowa caucuses and given the circumstances of this campaign season, I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time,” Castro said in a video released Thursday. “So today it’s with a heavy heart and with profound gratitude, that I will suspend my campaign for president.”
NBC – A few people in Washington state spent part of their New Year’s Eve trapped in their cars after winds blew a massive amount of tumbleweeds onto a highway.
The incident happened on Highway 240 in Yakima, about 150 miles southeast of Tacoma. Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Thorson told NBC News that 911 calls started to come in around 6:30 p.m. about people trapped in their vehicles.
He said winds that night were between 40 to 50 mph and it took about 30 minutes for the tumbleweeds to fully encase five cars and partially trap a semi-truck. The highway in both directions was closed for more than 10 hours in order for the tumbleweeds to be removed.
Breitbart – President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign announced Thursday it had raised $46 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to Reuters.
Economy & Business
RT – Shipments of smartphones in China are estimated to grow 0.7 percent this year, according to the global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
It says the increasing popularity of 5G phones will be the major factor behind the shipments’ growth.
The IDC expects 5G phone shipments to lead 5G network users in the short term, with one in every five phones to be connected to the faster and more stable network by 2021.
CNN – Two of the United Kingdom’s leading financial institutions are being caught up in the political fallout from months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Protesters in the former British colony attacked some branches of HSBC (HBCYF) this week and daubed red paint on a pair of bronze lions outside the bank’s Hong Kong headquarters. HSBC, the largest bank in the city, has been accused of working with Chinese authorities to cut off funding for the protesters.
HSBC has denied those allegations and condemned what it described as repeated “acts of vandalism” against its branches. It said in a statement on Thursday that it was working to restore ATM and other banking services that had been suspended as a result of the attacks.
Energy & Environment
BBC – Authorities in New South Wales have ordered thousands of people to evacuate already fire-damaged towns within 48 hours.
Temperatures and winds are expected to increase over the weekend, making further life-threatening fires a possibility. Many towns in the area are running out of supplies.
In Batemans Bay, a popular holiday town, long queues have built up along the only route out.
Science & Technology
A study that tested the accuracy of the system, which was developed through a collaboration between the tech giant and cancer researchers, was published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.
The program was trained to detect cancer using tens of thousands of mammograms from women in the United Kingdom and the United States, and early research shows it can produce more accurate detection than human radiologists.
According to the study, using the AI technology resulted in fewer false positives, where test results suggest cancer is present when it isn’t, and false negatives, where an existing cancer goes undetected.
Compared to human experts, the program reduced false positives by 5.7% for US subjects and 1.2% for UK subjects. It reduced false negatives by 9.4% for US subjects and 2.7% for UK subjects.
The AI system was more accurate despite it having less information to work with than human experts, such as patient histories and prior mammograms.
Newsmax – Stomach cancer among many people under 60 appears more deadly than when it occurs to older people, a new study finds.
This new form of cancer is genetically different from other stomach cancer and grows and spreads faster. It is also resistant to the usual chemotherapy, researchers say.
Although the rate of stomach cancer in older people has been falling for years, this cancer that strikes younger adults has been increasing and now accounts for almost a third of stomach cancers.
“I think this is an alarming trend, as stomach cancer is a devastating disease,” said study co-author Dr. Travis Grotz, a surgical oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
“There is little awareness in the U.S. of the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer, and many younger patients may be diagnosed late — when treatment is less effective,” he said in a Mayo Clinic news release.
Grotz’s team looked at records of more than 75,000 cases of stomach cancer between 1973 and 2015.
Mind Body Green – When it comes to eating healthy, we’re always on the hunt for lesser-known powerhouse veggies to incorporate into our diets. We asked neurologist and mbg collective member, David Perlmutter, M.D., what food he wants us all to eat in 2020, and he answered with a resounding (and fairly surprising) vegetable.
“We’ve known for a long time that broccoli is a good food for us,” Perlmutter said in an Instagram post. “It helps out body’s antioxidant function, it helps us reduce inflammation, it helps with detoxification.”
But he’s not pushing regular ole broccoli. Rather, Perlmutter wants us to be eating broccoli sprouts.
Broccoli sprouts, at their most basic, are just what they sound like: an immature version of the cruciferous vegetable we all know and love. What makes it different and packs its power is a higher concentration of the necessary components to boost the production of of sulforaphane.
In studies, sulforaphane has been linked to fighting against certain carcinogens, and it may support heart health and brain recovery as well. Researchers have also found it can support gut health, rounding out a pretty solid set of benefits that you may be able to attribute to these little sprouts.
Newsmax – One in 10 hospital patients who develop Clostridioides difficile infections may already have the dangerous germ when admitted, but no diarrhea symptoms, a new study finds.
The new report suggests that such infections originate outside hospitals more often than believed, and that patients could be screened to prevent the spread of C. difficile, according to the authors.
Each year, more than 400,000 cases of C. difficile that result in nearly 30,000 deaths are reported in the United States, according to a 2015 report.
Newsmax – For people with atrial fibrillation, abstinence from alcohol may make the heart beat better.
Eliminating most alcohol consumption dramatically cuts the number of episodes of the potentially-deadly heart rhythm disturbance among moderate and heavy drinkers, according to results of a six-month Australian study of 140 volunteers published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
While atrial fibrillation (AF), or Afib, reappeared in 73% of the people who averaged 13 drinks per week, the rate dropped to 53% among patients in the abstinence group – who weren’t supposed to drink at all but, on average, consumed two drinks weekly.
In addition, among the people trying to abstain, it took longer for their next episode of Afib to occur.