July 4, 2020

Today’s News: January 08, 2020

World News
Iran fires back at US

Al Jazeera – Iran has launched missile attacks on US targets in Iraq in response to the US assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani last week.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran had taken what it considered to be proportionate measures and did not seek an escalation of war.

U.S. ‘deploys nuclear-capable bombers to within striking distance of Iran’

WND – As part of America’s effort to be ready for any eventuality in the tense Persian Gulf region, the Pentagon has deployed six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to an airbase within striking range of Iran, according to multiple reports.

The six bombers will be based at Diego Garcia, a British-owned island base located in the Indian Ocean, according to the Washington Examiner. The location has military significance because it is located beyond the range of known Iranian missiles.

Fox News reported that the B-52s departed from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Trump says ‘Iran appears to be standing down’ following missile strikes

The Guardian –  Donald Trump has announced that there were no US casualties in the Iranian missile strikes on US facilities in Iraq last night.

“Iran appears to be standing down,” he said.

The US president just declared that he will impose additional economic sanctions on Iran.

He is calling on Europe to “break away from the remnants of the Iran nuclear deal”, which he called a “foolish” deal and had previously announced the US would abandon.

Trump has not given any details about the nature of further sanctions.

Iran plane crash: Ukraine International Airline jet crashes killing 176

BBC – A Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 with 176 people on board has crashed in Iran, and officials say there is no chance of finding survivors.

Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 to Kyiv went down just minutes after taking off from Tehran’s airport at 06:12 local time (02:42 GMT).

The majority of passengers were from Iran and Canada.

Ukraine’s Tehran embassy initially blamed engine failure but later removed the statement.

It said any comment regarding the cause of Wednesday’s accident prior to a commission’s inquiry was not official.

There was good visibility when the plane went down near Iran’s capital, according to the Flightradar24 aviation website. Officials from the airline said the crew were experienced.

Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) said the Boeing 737-800 was built in 2016 and had its last scheduled maintenance on Monday.

Hours before the plane came down Iran carried out a ballistic missile attack on two air bases housing US forces in Iraq.

At least 50 killed in stampede at Iranian general’s funeral

Reuters – At least 50 people were killed in a stampede as tens of thousands of mourners packed streets for the funeral of a slain Iranian military commander in his hometown on Tuesday, forcing his burial to be delayed by several hours, state media said.

General Qassem Soleimani’s burial began in late afternoon in the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman, four days after his killing in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq that plunged the region into a new crisis and raised fears of broader conflict.

“A few minutes ago his body was transferred to the martyrs section of Kerman cemetery,” the semi-official news agency ISNA reported, adding that Soleimani’s interment had begun.

A senior Iranian official said Tehran was considering several scenarios to avenge his killing. Other senior figures have said Iran will match the scale of Soleimani’s killing when it responds, but that it will choose the time and place.

Problems Escalate in Venezuela as Millions Rush to Spend Petros

Bitcoin.com – According to the Venezuelan government, millions of families have used the petro, the country’s national digital currency, to pay for goods and services. As shoppers rush to spend their coins, merchants are reportedly struggling, effectively forced to sell goods at a deep discount. At least one merchant is said to have been arrested.

Petro Adoption Rises

The Venezuelan government announced on Jan. 4 the successful use of the petro (PTR) for payments between Dec. 18 and Jan. 3. According to the announcement, 2,585,755 transactions were conducted using Biopagobvd, the biopayment system of the Bank of Venezuela which allows people to pay with petros at stores. The government also claims that 1,233,093 people paid with the digital currency at 7,422 stores throughout the national territory during that time period. In addition, Maduro said on Jan. 1 that almost 6 million families have used the petro as a payment method.

The Bank of Venezuela, in collaboration with the National Superintendence of Cryptoassets and Related Services (Sunacrip) and the Patria platform, is now making “improvements in its systems for more efficient use of the petro wallet.” The payment system is currently offline for maintenance from Jan. 4-10 “for the adoption of new applications and options,” the Venezuelan government detailed.

Bank Closures and Withdrawal Restrictions Anger Lebanese Citizens   

Activist Post – Lebanese citizens have been dealing with economic hardship, as the country’s central bank imposed customer withdrawal limits last October. The problems have continued over the last two months, as ATMs have stopped dispensing cash and bank branches close doors in fear of angry clients. Regional reports disclose Lebanese bank customers often wait for hours in long lines at local branches only to be told the bank’s cash reserves have run dry.

Lebanon’s Association of Banks Shuts Banks Down Again as Protests Continue

During the last few months, banking customers in Lebanon have been dealing with withdrawal limits and cash shortages throughout the country. News.Bitcoin.com reported on the start of the friction between the country’s citizens and Lebanon’s central bank. At the time the financial institution (Banque du Liban or BDL) imposed cash withdrawal limits across the country and bank customers were only allowed to withdraw $1,000 per week.

Feds Imported 1.4K Refugees to U.S. from Travel Ban Countries in 2019

Breitbart – The federal government has brought nearly 1,400 refugees to the United States over the last year from foreign countries listed on President Donald Trump’s constitutional travel ban.

In 2o19, the State Department imported exactly 1,378 refugees from Chad, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen — six of the eight countries on Trump’s travel ban list, which also includes North Korea and Libya. This indicates a more than 783 percent increase between 2018 and 2019 of refugees from travel ban countries arriving in the U.S.

Almost half of those refugees, roughly 631, arrived in the U.S. from Syria — 115 of which were resettled in California, while 51 were resettled in Illinois, 49 were resettled in Michigan, and 41 were resettled in Texas.

Another 512 refugees arrived last year from Iraq, a country that remains on the travel ban list. A bulk of these Iraqi refugees resettled in California, Texas, Michigan, and Illinois. About 216 refugees arrived last year from Iran, the majority of which were resettled in California, 63, and Texas, 38.

The remainder of refugees from travel ban countries came from Chad from where eight were resettled, Venezuela had nine resettled, and Yemen had two who were resettled for all of 2019. No refugees arrived from Libya or North Korea.

This level of refugee resettlement from travel ban countries is soaringly high compared to the only 156 refugees from these same countries that were resettled a year before in 2018. They do, however, remain vastly lower than the nearly 8,000 refugees from travel ban countries that arrived in 2017 before the travel ban was fully implemented.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Virginia Wants to CLOSE Non-Gov’t Gun Ranges and Create AMMO-FREE Zones   

Activist Post – If you thought the law that would effectively ban semi-automatic weapons in Virginia was draconian, just wait. The General Assembly isn’t done trampling the Second Amendment yet. They have lots more potential felonies in store for gun owners.

Let’s take a look at HB567 and HB318.

HB567 wants to ensure gun ranges are government-owned.

In a blow not only to gun owners but also to small business owners, HB567 would outlaw many indoor gun ranges that are not owned by the state government. What’s more, the private ranges allowed would have to cater to law enforcement as their primary clientele. And they’re not done yet – the gun ranges would serve as data-collection points.

So very small indoor gun ranges might be able to continue to operate (for now) but the large, high-quality ranges that also serve as instruction facilities or have attached gun stores could have too many employees to continue to operate if the new bill becomes a law.

It’s interesting that the state government claims to want to make the state safer, but at the same time, they want to close facilities where gun-owners hone their skills, accuracy, education, and safe usage of firearms.

The penalties for breaking this law would be civil, with a fine of up to $100,000 on the first infraction and an additional $5000 per day if the defiance continues.

HB318 would create ammunition-free zones.

Making about as much sense as the law that caused the original hullaballoo – the one that would ban weapons that “could” possess extended magazines, even if the owner has no such magazines – HB318 would send anyone in the possession of ammunition to prison for a currently-undetermined amount of time.

I suppose they’re concerned that someone might have ammo in a gun-free zone and throw it really hard, causing a mass casualty incident? This would-be law encompasses more than ammunition. It also includes the possession of stun weapons and knives with metal blades.

There are a few exemptions that would allow law enforcement officers, former law enforcement officers, and concealed carry permit holders or those who use knives with metal blades in their trades, to have their unloaded weapons locked securely in their trunk while they are in traffic circles and parking lots. However, a regular person who happens to have an extra cartridge floating around the bottom of her purse (who doesn’t?) could potentially become a felon if tried by some over-zealous, anti-2A prosecutor.

Those exceptions would exist initially but at the rate new laws are being proposed, I wouldn’t count on the exceptions on a long-term basis.

McConnell moving forward on trial rules without Dems.

Politico – GOP leaders have enough votes to ignore Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s demands for witnesses and new evidence.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is moving forward on a set of impeachment trial rules without Democratic support.

The Kentucky Republican said Tuesday that he has locked down sufficient backing from his 53-member caucus to pass a blueprint for the trial that leaves the question of seeking witnesses and documents until after opening arguments are made.

CNN settles lawsuit with Covington Catholic student

Fox – CNN agreed Tuesday to settle a lawsuit with Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann.

The amount of the settlement was not made public during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Covington, Kentucky.

Sandmann’s lawsuit sought $800 million from CNN, the Washington Post and NBC Universal.

Trial dates are still not set for Sandmann’s lawsuit against NBC Universal and the Washington Post.

The Washington Post suit sought $250 million. A federal judge let a portion of the suit go forward after The Post filed a motion to dismiss it.

Feds recommend Michael Flynn get up to 6 months

Axios – Federal prosecutors recommended in a sentencing memo Tuesday that President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn receive a sentence of zero to six months in prison, arguing that he should not receive credit for cooperating after his new legal team attempted to dismiss his charges and accused the government of misconduct.

Economy & Business

Markets In Turmoil: Gold & Oil Spike As Stocks, Bond Yields Plunge After Iran Attack

ZeroHedge – Just when you thought it was safe to buy the most expensive, most complacent

stock market rally in the world..

Iran begins retaliation against America’s killing of Soleimani…

Dow futures are down over 400 points

Gold has soared above $1600…

And WTI has erupted above $65…

Treasury yields are plunging…

Bitcoin is bid…

And VIX futures are exploding higher…

California’s Increasing Weed Taxes are Fueling Crime, Destroying Environment, and Killing Jobs

Free Thought Project – It’s been two years since California began licensing businesses to sell legal marijuana. Unfortunately, however, the legal scene is far outmatched by the black market and the state government is 100% responsible. Instead of reacting to the negative effects of state involvement in the cannabis market, the government of California has doubled down and will vastly increase the burden on legal operations which is certain to create more crime, damage the environment further, and stoke unemployment and business closures.

And the state couldn’t care less.

At the end of 2019, the Cannabis Advisory Committee warned Gov. Gavin Newsom and California legislators that high taxes, overly burdensome regulations and local control issues posed debilitating obstacles to the legal marijuana market. In response, California officials enacted a new a law on New Year’s day to increase these taxes and overly burdensome regulations.

“Essentially, the state is raising our taxes $3 on every $100,” said Eric Miramon, co-owner of All About Wellness in Sacramento.

Miramon told KCRA his pot shop pays a whopping $120,000 a month in combined state and city taxes — and those fees are going up.

Cannabis wholesalers were already paying outrageous excise fees of 60%. But this year, those fees went up to 80%. Cultivation fees are also going through the roof. The effects of extorting the legal cannabis industry for more and more money are devastating both for crime and the environment.

“Increasing the taxes over and over a little bit every month, this is pushing people further and further into the black market,” Miramon said.

The effects of officials steadily stealing more and more from the market via higher taxes and more regulations have been staggering. In fact, despite bringing in $3.1 billion in licensed pot sales — becoming the largest market in the world in 2019 — it is estimated that over 80% of cannabis sales still take place in the black market.

That is nearly $9 billion going to people who are willing to break the law. While many of the folks on the black market are good people who simply wish to conduct business outside the burdensome economy taxed into oblivion by the state, others are ruthless killers and members of the cartel.

El Dorado County sheriff’s Deputy Brian Ishmael was one of the victims of this policy. A private resident who was allowing the cartel to illegally grow weed on his property called police in October after the cartel refused to pay him all his money. When Ishmael responded to the call, cartel members harvesting the last of their weed, shot and killed him.

Ishmael is one of many victims in this drug war that’s been created and maintained by prohibition and government regulation.

Energy & Environment

Puerto Ricans sleep outside, wait for power after ‘devastating’ quake

Reuters – After a week of tremors, many fear their homes will crumble if there’s another earthquake.

Puerto Rico’s power grid crept back to service on Wednesday after it was shut down entirely as a safety measure on Tuesday amid a storm of earthquakes including the most powerful to strike the Caribbean island in 102 years.

The temblors including one of magnitude 6.4 killed at least one person and flattened homes across the southern coast, provoking a state of emergency on the island of 3 million people and the activation of the National Guard.

Nearly 500,000 of the island’s 1.5 million customers had service on Wednesday morning, up from 100,000 the night before, and the island was generating about 542 megawatts of electricity, the power authority AEE said, still short of the demand of some 2,000 megawatts.

The large Costa Sur plant suffered severe damage and remained out of service, though Governor Wanda Vazquez said on Tuesday power should be restored to most of the island within 48 hours provided there were no more earthquakes.

Puerto Ricans endured lengthy power outages in 2017 following devastating Hurricane Maria, one of a series of natural and man-made disasters to afflict the U.S. territory in recent years. The island is also going through bankruptcy and its former governor resigned amid a political scandal and massive street protests last year.

Vazquez ordered schools and other public offices closed while emergency responders searched crumpled buildings for possible victims and engineers inspected others for safety.

Science & Technology

America Is The 4th Worst Abuser Of Biometric Privacy Rights In The World

Activist Post – Does anyone really believe America is still the land of the free?

Since 9/11, DHS, the FBI, the CIA, and countless other alphabet soup agencies have turned the United States into a public surveillance monstrosity.

In 19 years, one terrorist attack has done what no one else could have dreamed of: turn America’s freedoms into a distant memory.

Abusing citizens’ rights and privacy used to be the hallmark of dictatorships and police states like the CCCP or North Korea.

A recent study conducted by Comparitech, rated 50 countries from best to worst at protecting citizens’ biometric data.

The study found that America is one of the world’s worst abusers of citizens’ biometric privacy.

While China topping the list perhaps doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, residents of (and travelers to) other countries may be surprised and concerned at the extent of biometric information that is being collected on them and what is happening to it afterward.

This really should not come as a surprise, because last year Comparitech revealed that American and Chinese cities lead the world in spying on their citizens. Last week, I wrote an article explaining how 2019 would go down as the year that facial recognition and corporate surveillance became commonplace in America.

Comparitech‘s recent study on biometric privacy compared how 50 countries collect and use data to identify innocent people:

  • Many countries collect travelers’ biometric data, often through visas or biometric checks at airports
  • Every country we studied is using biometrics for bank accounts, e.g. fingerprints to access online app data and/or to confirm identities within the banks themselves
  • Despite many countries recognizing biometric data as sensitive, increased biometric use is widely accepted
  • Facial recognition CCTV is being implemented in a large number of countries, or at least being tested
  • EU countries scored better overall than non-EU countries due to GDPR regulations protecting the use of biometrics in the workplace (to some extent)

The USA is the 4th worst abuser of citizens’ biometric privacy

SpaceX is now the world’s largest satellite operator

Ars Technica – The Falcon 9 rocket launched right on schedule, streaking into the black Florida sky. Less than 10 minutes later, the rocket’s first stage landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. This particular core has now flown four times.

One hour after launch, the rocket’s second stage released its payload of 60 Starlink satellites. As they floated into low-Earth orbit, SpaceX became the company in the world with the most satellites. And with perhaps 20 more Starlink launches planned for this year, they’re only getting started.

The only downer on the night is that while the GO Ms. Tree vessel came close to nabbing one payload fairing half, it did not quite make it.

Mysterious radio signal in space is traced to a nearby Milky Way-like galaxy

Daily Mail – Astronomers have traced the source of a mysterious repeating ‘fast radio burst’ in space to a nearby galaxy similar to the Milky Way.

The repeating radio signal – four bursts over the space of five hours that lasted less than two thousandths of a second each – was first detected by Canada‘s CHIME telescope in 2018.

Despite more than a decade of research into these types of signals, astronomers are no closer to understanding what causes them.

Galaxy FRB ​180916, the newly-discovered source of the fast radio burst, is only half-a-billion light years from Earth – far closer than previously traced signals.
There may be far more black holes wandering space, consuming all in their path, says worrying new research

RT – Scientists studying the underlying mechanisms which formed the universe have made a startling and terrifying discovery, which they believe indicates that there are more black holes out there than we thought – and they’re moving.

The team from Montana State University targeted dwarf galaxies, which are 100 times less massive than our own Milky Way, for study as these are the smallest known to possibly host black holes. Given the size of the galaxies, it follows that their black holes would also be relatively small, though still somewhere in the region of 400,000 times the mass of our sun.

The team began by surveying galaxies in the NASA-Sloan Atlas, a catalog of readily visible galaxies, before cross-referencing potential candidates with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-Centimeters (FIRST) survey, to form a candidate list of 111 galaxies.

Using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), the team discovered 13 such black holes in dwarf galaxies less than a billion light years away. However, these massive, predatory black holes were found to be roving around their galaxies and consuming surrounding material such as stars, planets and moons as opposed to remaining stationary at the galaxy’s center.

This indicates that the galaxies likely merged with others in the past, and leads to the rather terrifying conclusion that there may be far more black holes wandering out there than we thought, consuming everything in their path.

Health

World Health Org Labeled RF as “Possibly Carcinogenic” in 2011, Now Asking For New Health Reviews   

Activist Post – RadioFrequency (RF) radiation is also referred to as cell phone radiation, microwave radiation, and wireless radiation.  No matter what you call it – research has determined it’s biologically and environmentally harmful.  It can cause “Microwave Sickness” (also referred to as Electromagnetic Sensitivity) which is a medically recognized condition that seems to have affected American embassy workers in China and Cuba (see 1, 2).

In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified RF as “possibly carcinogenic” and in the same category as chloroform, engine exhaust, and lead.  American Academy of Pediatrics and other health experts have been warning for many years that children are more vulnerable to exposure.  More research on RF has been released since 2011 and many scientists (including at the WHO) believe that this should be considered.

Thanks to Microwave News for providing more details:

The WHO has relaunched its call for three of the ten systematic reviews of RF–health impacts it originally sought last fall:

1) Cancer (animal studies)

2) Adverse reproductive outcomes (animal & in vitro studies)

3) Effect of exposure to heat from any source on pain, burns, cataract and heat-related illnesses.

These calls have been reopened because the WHO did not “receive proposals that fulfilled all the qualifications and skills required, and in particular sufficient experience and expertise in conducting systematic reviews,” Emilie van Deventer told Microwave News.

Proposals are due by February 7.

The WHO has apparently selected the teams for the other seven RF reviews. No word yet on who they are.

There is still no “safe” level of RF that has been scientifically determined for kids or pregnant women.

Is An Apple Cider Vinegar Bath Right For You? 6 Reasons To Try

Mind Body Green – rom hair treatments to dirty countertops, it seems like (almost) all of life’s problems can be solved with apple cider vinegar. Many people are even adding the trendy ingredient to their baths, thanks to its anecdotal reputation as an all-star skin treatment.

Of course, there’s not a ton of research surrounding the ingredient—so much of the purported benefits are not study-backed as of yet. However, there’s some evidence that apple cider vinegar might help your skin and body in a few ways. Here, learn about six benefits you might get by soaking in a therapeutic apple cider vinegar bath:

  1. Fungal infections
  2. Body acne
  3. Eczema
  4. Body odor
  5. Warts…maybe
  6. Body wrinkles

How do you make your own?

Ready to enjoy a therapeutic apple cider vinegar bath? Here’s what you need to make one:

Pour the apple cider vinegar into a lukewarm bath. For extra feel-good benefits, add your favorite essential oils. Stir the bathwater to combine the ingredients. Soak for 20 minutes, then gently rinse your body with cool water. Moisturize as usual.

Good News

Cancer group finds biggest one-year drop in U.S. death rate

Washington Post – Researchers on Wednesday reported the largest-ever one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate, a drop they credited to advances in lung-tumor treatments.

The overall cancer death rate has been falling about 1.5% a year since 1991. It fell 2.2% from 2016 to 2017, according to the new American Cancer Society report. That’s the largest drop ever seen in national cancer statistics going back to 1930, said Rebecca Siegel, the lead author.

“It’s absolutely driven by lung cancer,” which accounts for about a quarter of all cancer deaths, she said. Take lung cancer out of the mix, and the 2017 rate drop is 1.4%, she added.

Government researchers previously reported a slightly lower drop in the cancer death rate for the same period. But the Cancer Society calculates the death rate differently, and on Wednesday said the decline was larger — and record-setting.