Dawn – China has tested its most powerful non-nuclear weapon, dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs” by official media in a reference to a US munition used in Afghanistan.
In a short video published on the website of state arms manufacturer Norinco, the massive bomb drops on to a plain and produces a gigantic ball of fire and black smoke.
On social networks on Wednesday, the official Xinhua news agency described the bomb for the first time, calling it the “Chinese version of the ‘Mother of all Bombs'”.
The bomb — whose strength is only second to that of a nuclear weapon, according to the agency — was dropped by a Chinese H-6K bomber.
Washington Free Beacon – Russia is deploying long-range, precision cruise missiles to the western Atlantic that American defense officials say will allow Moscow to target Washington and other East Coast cities with conventional or nuclear attacks.
Moscow is adding Kalibr land attack cruise missiles to both warships and missile submarines that Moscow plans to use in Atlantic patrols near the United States, sorties that were once routine during the Cold War.
The new sea-based Kalibr deployments are expected in the coming months, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports of the Russian maritime operations.
Reuters – The Iranian navy will send warships to deploy in the Atlantic from March, a top commander said on Friday, as the Islamic Republic seeks to increase the operating range of its naval forces to the backyard of the United States, its arch foe.
Iran sees the presence of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf as a security concern and its navy has sought to counter that by showing the flag near American waters.
A flotilla will leave for the Atlantic early in the Iranian new year, starting from March, Iran’s naval deputy commander said.
“The Atlantic Ocean is far and the operation of the Iranian naval flotilla might take five months,” Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.
National Post – More than 20,000 airport repatriations were scrubbed this year as rejected asylum-seekers vanished before departure
Germany has been flooded this holiday season with billboards offering illegal migrants a bribe to leave — free rent for a year at home.
“Your country. Your future. Now!” displayed in seven languages, jumps off nearly 2,500 screens in 80 cities.
A series of flags corresponding with the top-destinations – Egypt, Turkey, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Russia – shapes a zigzagging road to a fictional horizon.
The “ReturningfromGermany” ad campaign is the latest tactic by the German government to boost departures and deter migration, in a reversal of Angela Merkel’s controversial welcoming policy of 2015 at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis. The campaign is the brainchild of interior minister Horst Seehofer, Merkel’s rebellious right-wing rival, who forced a coalition crisis over Germany’s asylum policy last summer.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
Breitbart – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is releasing from custody more than 2,000 border-crossing adults and the children they arrived with over the course of a few weeks.
A DHS official confirmed to Breitbart News that the U.S. Border Patrol and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is releasing more than 2,000 family units caught at the U.S.-Mexico border, citing a lack of detention space.
The border-crossing adults and the children they arrived at the border with will be released and given a court date for an immigration hearing. The adults will be given ankle monitors, though the DHS official says the process of keeping track of border-crossers via ankle monitors is not effective.
Wtop – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had only been in office for a few hours when a handful of Democrats defied her persistent calls not to begin the new Congress by talking about impeachment.
Just after Pelosi was sworn in on Thursday, longtime Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman of California and Al Green of Texas introduced articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. A few hours later, newly elected Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan riled up a supportive crowd that evening by calling the president a profanity and predicting that he will be removed from office.
Tension over impeachment is likely to be a persistent thorn for Pelosi, who will have to balance between a small, vocal group of the most liberal members of her caucus, who want to see Trump removed immediately, and the majority of her members who want to wait for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation to finish. Pelosi purposely avoided — and encouraged most fellow Democrats to avoid — any talk of impeachment during the election, believing it would hurt them instead of help them.
While many Democrats might favor impeachment, those calling for it now are largely outliers. Most Democratic lawmakers listened to Pelosi and campaigned on kitchen table issues such as health care and jobs and prefer to keep them at the forefront of the party’s focus.
Still, it will be hard for Pelosi to quiet some on her left flank who see their new majority as a direct challenge to Trump.
“Impeachment is on the table,” Sherman said. “You can’t take it off the table.”
The division delights Republicans, who have used impeachment calls to fire up their base of voters. Trump was eager to immediately seize on the topic, asking in a tweet Friday, “How do you impeach a president who has won perhaps the greatest election of all time, done nothing wrong.”
Trump added that he has had the “most successful two years of any president” and claimed, without evidence, that he’s “the most popular Republican in party history.”
The Hill – Lawmakers are opening the door to reviving deeply polarizing immigration negotiations as they search for a way out of the partial government shutdown, which hit the two-week mark on Friday.
An agreement to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws has eluded Congress for years, underscoring the difficult path awaiting lawmakers and the White House if they decide to broaden the divisive border wall fight.
But with President Trump and congressional Democrats at a stalemate with no signs of reaching an agreement to reopen roughly 25 percent of the government, making immigration reform part of the negotiations is gaining traction among senators on both sides of the aisle who are eager for a way out of the shutdown.
AP – On their first day in the majority, House Democrats on Thursday night passed a plan to re-open the government without funding President Donald Trump’s promised border wall.
The largely party-line votes came after Trump made a surprise appearance at the White House briefing room pledging to keep up the fight for his signature campaign promise.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump and Senate Republicans should “take yes for an answer” and approve the border bill, which was virtually identical to a plan the Senate adopted on a voice vote last month.
The Sun – AN astronaut has told how he accidentally rang 911 from space – sending security teams at NASA’s Houston base into a frenzy.
André Kuipers missed out a number when making a call through HQ back on Earth – and ended up connecting to US emergency services.
The astronomical blunder sparked panic at the Johnson Space Centre in Texas and a security team was scrambled to the room where the call was put through.
He had been orbiting Earth in the International Space Station when he tried to make the call.
The 60-year-old spaceman explained how he had pressed 9 to make an outside call.
He then tried to phone internationally by pressing 011 – but mistakenly left out the zero.
Orlando Sun – Seven people were killed — including five children who were bound for Walt Disney World — in a fiery four-vehicle crash on Interstate 75 near Gainesville Thursday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Stressing the information was preliminary, FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan told reporters at a 10 a.m. Friday news conference that the children were believed to range in age from 8 or 9 to teenagers.
Riordan said the van was heading south from Avoyelles Parish, in the Marksville area of central eastern Louisiana, to visit Disney World. He called the crash a “heartbreaking event.”
“This is a very large scale crash,” he said. “… We had a lot of people up there… a lot of teamwork from other agencies and from the private sector who helped us to try and sort this thing out.”
Politico – Jim Webb, the iconoclastic former Democratic senator from Virginia who served as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of the Navy, is under consideration for Defense secretary, according to an administration official with knowledge of the process.
Webb would be an eye-opening choice as a member of the opposing party who briefly ran for president in 2015.
Daily Caller – A conservative reporter and a producer were suspended from Twitter on Thursday — one for making a joke about his distaste for brussels sprouts and the other for making fun of drunk CNN host Don Lemon on New Year’s Eve.
Jeremy Boreing, executive producer of The Ben Shapiro Show, was temporarily suspended from the platform for “promoting or encouraging suicide or self-harm” because he joked that people who enjoy brussels sprouts should “burn” their “face[s] off.”
“Even better, coat with melted butter, salt, pepper, paprika, and a dash of Worcestershire, sear in cast iron in bacon grease for thirty seconds or until brown, then throw them away and burn your face off with the hot pan because even that would be better than Brussels sprouts,” Boreing tweeted Thursday.
Economy & Business
Mediaite – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sat with Anderson Cooper for an upcoming 60 Minutes interview set to air this Sunday, a portion of which has been released as a promotion. In the released segment, Ocasio-Cortez reveals how exactly she suggests paying for the environmental agenda known as the “Green New Deal” — with remarkably higher tax rates for the super wealthy.
Ocasio-Cortez suggests in the clip that in her esteem, people should be doing more to pay their “fair share.” When Cooper pressed on how she could possibly pay for the deal, she pointed to the progressive tax rate system in the 1960s, explaining that if you earn 0 to $75,000 a year, you would only pay 10% or 15% in income tax.
AFP – Stock markets rebounded Friday as data showed a whopping 312,000 jobs created in the US last month, at least temporarily relieving investor concerns about the health of the world’s top economy.
The data smashed economists’ expectations, and wages rose steadily, gaining 3.2 percent for the year.
The blockbuster US jobs numbers starkly contrasted with the mounting fears for the global economy of recent weeks — which have seen stock prices tumble and confidence wane among corporations who foresee slowing demand and weakening sales in 2019.
“For all the current market doom and gloom over the US’s prospects, there are some positives, such as the red-hot jobs market,” said ING bank’s chief international economist, James Knightley.
Stuff.co – For most of the past two decades, China – with 400 million middle-class consumers growing richer by the day – was a one-way bet for the world’s corporations and a driver of the global economy.
By early 2018, General Motors was selling a third more cars in China than in the US. Starbucks unveiled plans to open a new coffee shop in China every 15 hours on average. Adidas saw 26 per cent growth in China while Western Europe, its home market, was staying flat or shrinking.
But what happens when the Chinese growth juggernaut slows? Or worse yet, grinds to a halt?
Reuters – The U.S. two-year Treasury note yield US2YT=RR dropped below 2.4 percent on Thursday afternoon, reaching parity with the federal funds effective rate for the first time since 2008.
Science & Technology
USAToday – Sure, you may know the “super blood wolf moon eclipse” is coming to a sky near you later this month. But what exactly does it mean?
Unquestionably, the main event is the total lunar eclipse, also known as an eclipse of the moon, which will start late on Sunday, Jan. 20 and finish early on Monday, Jan. 21.
This type of eclipse happens when the moon passes fully into the shadow of Earth.
Beyond that, despite all the hullabaloo over the various names, there’s still only one moon. There’s no separate super, blood, wolf or anything else moon.
Here’s some more info about this month’s sky spectacle:
Total lunar eclipse: You’ll have to stay up late for this event, so drink some coffee and grab some blankets.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon and the sun are on exact opposite sides of Earth, according to NASA. When this happens, Earth blocks the sunlight that normally reaches the moon. Instead of that sunlight hitting the moon’s surface, Earth’s shadow falls on it.
Fast Company – Artificial intelligence could one day change the lives of people facing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, according to a new study by researchers at UC, San Francisco.
“One of the difficulties with Alzheimer’s disease is that by the time all the clinical symptoms manifest and we can make a definitive diagnosis, too many neurons have died, making it essentially irreversible,” said Jae Ho Sohn, a resident in the school’s Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging and the study’s lead researcher, in a statement.
For the study, published in Radiology, Sohn and his team fed a common type of brain scans to a machine-learning algorithm, and it learned to diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s disease about six years before a clinical diagnosis could be made. The AI’s diagnostic skills could give doctors a much-needed headstart on treating the degenerative disease.
Digital Trends – When you hear that the world’s largest robot has gone live in Australia, your mind might conjure up something like an anime-style giant mech. In fact, the announcement comes from iron ore mining company Rio Tinto, which recently launched its fully automated rail network: A series of mine-to-port trains able to run completely free from human intervention. These AutoHaul trains travel an approximately 800-kilometer return journey, taking 40 hours to complete, including loading and dumping their cargo. The rail network is set up in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
“This is a world first,” a spokesperson for Rio Tinto told Digital Trends. “It is the first fully autonomous, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network in the world. The successful deployment is the culmination of a $940 million project and has the potential to transform the productivity and flexibility of the 1,700-kilometer network between our 16 iron ore mines and two ports.”
QZ.com – Ready for a bitter reality check on popular non-sugar sweeteners? They aren’t any better for you than the real thing.
Technically, they might not be any worse either. Still, in spite of heavy marketing efforts, a new study published this week in the British Medical Journal shows there is no solid science backing claims by artificial sweetener companies that their products are inherently healthier for people.
A team of European researchers, commissioned by the World Health Organization pulled 56 individual studies into non-sugar sweeteners that involved nearly 14,000 people in total. They then checked intake of the sweeteners against changes in body weight or body mass index, oral health, eating behavior, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and mood swings, among other things.
NaturalNews – The world continues to reel from the growing epidemic that is diabetes. Although the disease is being controlled with the aid of chemical medications, these drugs are not without side effects, prompting researchers to look into natural yet effective alternatives. A study investigated the efficacy of Helicteres angustifolia, a plant popularly used in Chinese medicine, in treating insulin resistance, one of the causes of Type 2 diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 29 million people have diabetes in the U.S. alone. About one in four of these individuals don’t even know they have the disease. Close to 90 million have prediabetes, a stage marked by elevated blood sugar levels and a significant risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which is characterized by the inability to produce sufficient insulin, if at all, Type 2 diabetes happens because the body does not respond to insulin well. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that causes the cells of the body to absorb glucose from food and lower the concentration of sugar in the blood.
People with Type 2 diabetes develop insulin resistance. This happens when the body’s cells do not respond as well as they normally do to insulin, impairing their ability to absorb glucose. As a result, the pancreas has to produce more and more insulin just to normalize blood sugar levels. Reversing insulin resistance and enhancing the cells’ glucose uptake are among the ways by which experts believe Type 2 diabetes can best be addressed.
NaturalNews – Probiotics are a certain type of “good” bacteria that offers various health benefits when consumed, and some people take probiotics as supplements with the goal of populating their gut with beneficial microorganisms. However, data from a review has determined that probiotics can also be used to reduce the need for antibiotics among infants and children.
Probiotics as a daily health supplement
The review, which was published in the European Journal of Public Health, involved researchers from England, the Netherlands, and the U.S. who examined data from several studies about the health benefits of probiotics.
The researchers said that once the results from twelve studies were collated, the data showed that “infants and children were 29 percent less likely to have been prescribed antibiotics if they received probiotics as a daily health supplement.” When the analysis was repeated using only the highest quality studies, the results revealed that the percentage increased to a whopping 53 percent.
Dr. Daniel Merenstein, the study’s senior investigator and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, explained that the finding implies that the regular consumption of probiotics may help reduce antibiotic use.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are at least two million cases of antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. annually, which also results in 23,000 deaths. Experts believe that resistance to the drug can be prevented by curbing the use of antibiotics. (Related: Probiotics reduce allergic response in infants.)
>> Power Mall Product of Interest: Living Streams Probiotics