Fortune – Little over a year after the Finnish government first announced its plan to eventually replace earnings-based social insurance benefits with a basic income, the first unconditional monthly payments of €560 ($587) began on Jan.1, reports the Associated Press. According to AP, 2,000 people, all currently on unemployment benefits, have been chosen at random to take part in a two-year pilot trial. The basic income will be deducted from participants’ existing benefits payments.
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RT – The Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) says they have granted naturalization to Julian Assange. The reaction of the MFA comes one day after Quito reportedly granted an ID card to Assange. The passport could obtain his first step to obtaining diplomatic immunity, as Ecuador wants to resolve Assange’s indefinite embassy stay. The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for five years. The UK Foreign Office reportedly rejected a request from Quito to grant the whistle-blower diplomatic status. The passport was reportedly granted to him on December 12.
SHFT Plan – In the early morning hours of January 6, a Russian airbase in Syria was bombed by homemade drones. Russian forces came under attack by a “massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles”, says the Russian Ministry of Defence. According to reports, 13 small drones descended on Russian forces, but none of them did any significant damage. Seven were destroyed by anti-aircraft defenses and the others were brought down using electronic countermeasures to hijack or jam the drone’s controls and land them intact. The captured aircraft seem “crudely made,” with a wooden undercarriage and plastic sheeting, and powered by a small liquid-fuel engine. The drones carried several locally made bombs fitted with 3D printed plastic fins under their wings. The Russian Defense Ministry has reported that the swarm of GPS-guided drones carrying improvised explosives were very high-tech. Ten of the 13 drones aimed themselves at Russia’s Hmeymim air base and three more headed for a logistics and supply base near the Syrian city of Tartus.
Fox News – The number of people missing after the deadly mudslides in Montecito, California, has surged to 48. The number of missing persons has fluctuated since the disaster hit early Tuesday morning and had been as low as 16 on Wednesday evening. The number of confirmed fatalities remains at 17.
A yearslong effort by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to impose significant new privacy limits on the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program fell short on Thursday, as the House of Representatives voted to extend the legal basis for that program by six years with only minimal changes. The vote, 256 to 164, centered on an expiring law, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which permits the government collect without a warrant from American firms, like Google and AT&T, the emails and other communications of foreigners abroad — even when they are talking to Americans. Before approving the extension of the law, the House voted 233 to 183 to reject an amendment that proposed a series of overhauls. Among them was a requirement that officials get warrants in most cases before hunting for and reading emails and other messages of Americans swept up under the program. The legislation still has to go through the Senate. But fewer lawmakers there appear to favor major changes to spying laws, so the House vote is likely the effective end of a debate over 21st-century surveillance technology and privacy rights that broke out in 2013 following the leaks by the intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden.
RT – As NYC moves to equip its police force with bodycams by 2020, its main police union is suing to block the release of such footage without a court order. Civil rights groups say the public has a right to view the videos. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), which represents two-thirds of NYC’s 36,000 officers, has filed a lawsuit at the State Supreme Court this week in a bid to prevent the release of bodycam footage to the public.
ABC – Democratic members of the House oversight committee asked the Republican chairman to begin a serious investigation into President Donald Trump’s conflicts of interests.
They also sought a subpoena of Trump Organization to produce documents that were requested months ago. The letter was sent to Chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina on Thursday, one year after a news conference held by Trump and his attorney announcing efforts to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest by handing over his businesses’ reins to his sons and putting his assets in a trust, among other measures. Ethics watchdogs and Democratic lawmakers have criticized those efforts as weak to begin with. The Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform also asked Gowdy to issue a subpoena to compel the Trump Organization to produce, by Jan. 20, documents requested more than eight months ago on how the company was donating foreign government profits at its hotels to the U.S. Treasury.
AP – The Justice Department is forming a team of prosecutors to investigate drug trafficking and money laundering linked to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant movement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday. The move follows reports that Obama administration officials thwarted drug prosecutions related to Hezbollah for fear of jeopardizing a nuclear deal with Iran.
The Seattle Times – State and local governments have been more than happy to play up the amenities they think make their locations the best choice for Amazon’s second headquarters. But many of them will not disclose the tax breaks or other financial incentives they are offering the online giant. More than 15 states and cities, including Chicago, Cleveland and Las Vegas, refused requests from The Associated Press to detail the promises they made to try to lure the company. Among the reasons given: Such information is a “trade secret” and disclosing it would put them at a competitive disadvantage. “We want to be in the best possible position to negotiate. We don’t want the whole world to know our strategy,” Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island said in a radio interview. Amazon’s search for a second headquarters city has triggered an unprecedented competition among governments around North America to attract a $5 billion project that promises to create 50,000 jobs. The retailing behemoth has made clear that tax breaks and grants will be a big factor in its decision. It received 238 proposals and said it will announce a decision sometime this year.
Breitbart – The latest video from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas shows Twitter employees appearing to admit that the platform has “shadow banned” users in the past, and applies its rules and censorship algorithms unevenly in an effort to rid the platform of Trump supporters and conservatives.
Economy & Business
USA Today – Walmart is boosting the minimum hourly wage for its U.S. employees to $11 and dishing out bonuses of up to $1,000, crediting President Trump’s tax cut for enabling the move.
The increase for the nation’s largest private employer also comes amid political pressure to bolster minimum wages and comes amid a hot streak for the retailer. The big-box store chain, which has more than 1 million U.S. hourly employees, will reap a windfall from the U.S. corporate tax rate cut from 35% to 21%. The move also comes amid a 17-year low for the U.S. unemployment rate, which has intensified competition for workers.
The Christian Science Monitor – In a major policy shift that could affect millions of low-income people, the Trump administration said Thursday it is offering a path for states that want to seek work requirements on Medicaid recipients. People are not legally required to hold a job to be on Medicaid, but states traditionally can seek federal waivers to test new ideas for the program.
The administration’s latest action spells out safeguards that states should consider to obtain federal approval for waivers imposing work requirements on “able-bodied” adults. The administration said 10 states – mostly conservative ones – have applied for waivers involving work requirements or community involvement. They are: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin. Advocates for low-income people say they expect Kentucky’s waiver to be approved shortly.
CNN – Federal health officials reported seven additional cases of E. coli illness Wednesday in a deadly E. coli outbreak that has now struck 15 US states. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the total number of those infected has climbed to 24. Nine of those people have been hospitalized, two of whom are suffering from a form of kidney failure. There has been one death, which was previously reported.
Care2 – There can be little doubt that the habitual consumption of diets high in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of development of degenerative diseases, including many types of cancers.” Not satisfied with merely telling people to eat their fruits and veggies, scientists want to know the mechanism. Not just vehicles for antioxidants, fruits and vegetables contain innumerable phytonutrients that can boost our detoxification enzymes, modulate gene expression, and even modulate DNA repair pathways. Nine fruits and vegetables were tested to find out which ones were better able to boost DNA repair: lemons, persimmons, strawberries, oranges, choy sum (which is like skinny bok choy), broccoli, celery, lettuce, and apples. Which ones made the cut? Lemons, persimmons, strawberries, broccoli, celery, and apples all conferred DNA protection at very low doses. Lemons, for example, were found to cut DNA damage by about a third.
Care 2 – Vegetables are undisputedly great for our health and salads are chock full of them. It’s easy in the spring and summer, when fresh veggies are plentiful and cheap. But what are we supposed to do in winter?
It all depends on your dietary beliefs. Do you tend to lean towards Ayurvedic tradition and lightly cook your greens in winter? Or are you a diehard green smoothie fanatic year round? Which way is healthiest? Experts are not so eager to agree…
According to Ayurvedic wisdom…
Winter is the time of year when we all need/crave more warming foods, no matter what your constitution or dosha. Ayurvedic practitioners suggest that eating lightly cooked vegetables promotes healthy digestion, internal balance and sustained energy levels throughout the cold season. Light cooking also unlocks certain nutrients, making them easier to absorb in the body.
According to modern nutritional science…
Many modern nutrition experts and raw foodists hold steadfast in their argument that raw veggies are detoxifying and hugely important for the body year-round. While Ayurveda offers some excellent guidance, some nutrition experts disagree on the exclusion of raw greens from your winter diet. Holistic nutritionist Daphne Javitch says, “I agree with a lot of Chinese and Ayurvedic principles about seasonal eating; and of course the body craves warm foods in the winter and we should eat more of them. But from a cleansing, healing perspective, there’s not a day when it’s wrong to eat raw, water-containing fruits, vegetables, and green juices.”
Do what feels right for you and your body. No one is arguing that greens aren’t good for you. Greens are the O.G. superfood. Whether you decide to continue drinking green juices, smoothies and salads or incorporate more steamed greens and warming root vegetables, just make sure you continue to get your veggies.