Activist Post – On January 10, Nicolás Maduro took another step in perpetuating and expanding his power, carrying out a masquerade in the form of a presidential investiture that will initiate a new mandate, a move that has been regarded as illegitimate by a large part of the international community. It would keep him in charge of Venezuela (supposedly) until 2025.
With a country in ruins and an increasingly isolated regime, the inauguration, which many consider a point of no return in the very serious economic and institutional crisis the country is suffering, does not mean anything new in practice for the citizens. But with this, the regime, which controls all levels of political and judicial power, is consummating a seemingly insurmountable fracture in its diplomacy with the international community.
RT – Venezuela’s Supreme Court has declared all acts of the country’s National Assembly null and void, days after the opposition-held assembly declared President Nicolas Maduro’s election illegitimate.
The National Assembly is a 167-seat legislature, currently headed by Juan Guaidó of the Popular Will party – a fierce opponent of Maduro, who had been taking part in protests against him and has called for the country’s military to depose the president.
Maduro already declared the National Assembly illegitimate in 2017, and created a new legislature – the Constituent National Assembly – to replace it, where all seats are currently held by pro-Maduro parties. As Maduro lacks the Constitutional power to outright dissolve the National Assembly, both houses have functioned alongside each other since 2017, with the CNA given power to overrule legislation passed by the National Assembly.
Al Jazeera – More than 100 members of Afghan security forces were killed when armed Taliban fighters attacked a military base and police training centre outside Kabul on Monday, a senior defence ministry official has said.
“We have information that 126 people have been killed in the explosion inside the military training centre,” the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency about the attack in Maidan Shahr, the capital of Wardak province.
Maidan Shahr is about 44km southwest of Kabul, along the Ghazni-Kabul highway.
A provincial official also told Reuters that the death toll was over 100.
A government spokesman declined to comment. Earlier, the government had said 12 people were killed.
BBC – Theresa May has scrapped the £65 fee millions of EU citizens were going to have to pay to secure the right to continue living in the UK after Brexit.
She also vowed to seek changes to the Irish backstop from the EU.
But she again rejected calls to rule out a “no deal” Brexit – and warned another EU referendum could threaten the UK’s “social cohesion”.
Conservative rebels and Labour accused her of being in denial about the scale of opposition to her Brexit deal.
Breitbart – The German government says that in a first, more asylum-seekers were transferred to other European Union countries than Germany took in last year.
Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said Germany relocated 9,209 people in 2018 under the EU regulation that requires asylum applications to be handled in the first country a person seeking protection reached in Europe.
Germany took in 7,580 people from other EU countries under the same rule last year.
Economic Collapse Blog – srael and Iran are edging dangerously close to a state of all-out war. On Sunday night, Israeli forces rained missiles down on Iranian forces based in the Damascus area “for nearly an hour”. According to the IDF, this was a response to “dozens” of missiles that were fired by Iranian forces in Syria toward targets in Israel earlier that day. The Israelis were able to intercept the Iranian missiles, but if any of them had gotten through they could have caused a tremendous amount of damage. Some of the missiles that Israel fired at the Iranians were reportedly intercepted, but quite a few of them did hit their intended targets. If the violence continues to escalate, we could potentially soon be talking about an all-out war between Israel and Iran in which both sides use their weapons of mass destruction.
The missile strikes against Iranian targets in Damascus made headlines all over the globe. According to Syrian state media, there were “consecutive waves of guided missiles”…
Sputnik – A stunning new report has revealed that the world’s 26 wealthiest people own the same level of resources as that distributed between humanity’s poorest 50 percent.
Released ahead of the annual winter World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — a yearly gathering of some of the planet’s richest and most influential — the frightening new report from UK-based Oxfam (Oxford Committee for Famine Relief), reveals a dire gap between those who have all too much and those who have little to nothing.
Founded in 1942 to, as the name implies, counter global famine, Oxfam has now introduced the idea of a 1 percent flat tax on the world’s richest as a means of providing educational resources for every child not in school.
The new report offered shocking data pointing to the growing gap between the rich and the poor, including the eye-opening detail of a new billionaire was created every two days between 2017-2018.
CNBC – With a second U.S.-North Korea nuclear summit looming in February, researchers have discovered a secret ballistic missile base in North Korea — one of as many as 20 undisclosed missile sites in the country, according to the researchers’ new report.
The Kim regime has never disclosed the existence of the Sino-ri Missile Operating Base to the outside world. Ballistic missiles are the primary delivery mechanism for North Korean nuclear warheads.
The report from Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a defense think tank, was released Monday and comes after an announcement Friday that President Donald Trump “looks forward” to meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un next month “at a place to be announced at a later date.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment
U.S. News, Politics & Government
Breitbart – Martin Luther King Jr., application for a concealed carry permit in Alabama in 1956 was denied in light of the state’s “May Issue” apparatus.
“May Issue” states, of which few remain, ultimately place the power of permit issuance in the local sheriff or police department. In the 1950s the Democrats held power in all aspects of Southern government and MLK’s request was rejected.
Breitbart – The United States Consulate General in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, issued a security alert following a series of coordinated attacks against police officers in that city and for Ciudad De Chihuahua. Gunmen carried out the attacks on January 17.
The security alert states, “Authorities believe that members of organized criminal groups are carrying out these attacks, which are expected to continue.” The alert issued on January 18 also advises, “U.S. government personnel have been advised to avoid police stations and other law enforcement facilities in both cities to the extent possible until further notice.”
The attacks on Thursday are believed to be retaliation for the seizure of 22 kilograms (48 pounds) of methamphetamine by the municipal police. An alignment forged by “La Línea” and “Los Mexicles” carried out the retaliatory attacks, according to the Ciudad Juárez Mayor Armando Cabada Alvídrez.
Breitbart – Yale University announced last week that it has changed the “University Student Information System” so that students now have the option to register their gender as “non-binary.”
Students at Yale University are now able to choose from three genders when registering on the university’s information system, according to University Registrar Emily Shandley, as first reported by the Yale Daily News.
The decision to add “non-binary” to the school’s information system was made after a petition was circulated by Yale’s LGBT community, calling on the university make changes to show that it supports transgender students.
Global Research – The U.S. State Department allegedly sent a cable to the Lebanese Embassy in Washington that warned them against inviting Syria to the Arab Economic Summit in Beirut that is scheduled to take place this week, Al-Akhbar reported on Wednesday.
According to Al-Akhbar, Lebanon was not only warned against inviting Syria to the Arab Economic Summit, but Washington also threatened sanctions against Lebanon if they participate in any reconstruction efforts.
The latter (U.S.) threatened Lebanon with sanctions if it participated in the reconstruction of Al-Sham (a reference to Damascus),” Al-Akhbar claimed.
“The U.S. position was relayed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, in more than one way,” they continued.
The alleged confidential cable allegedly read:
“We urge Lebanon and all Arab League member states to refrain from sending an invitation to Syria. We also urge Lebanon not to take any steps that contribute to securing the financial interests of the Syrian regime. For instance, making investments or sending funds for reconstruction. Any financial or material support for the Assad regime or its supporters may be subject to American sanctions.”
The U.S. State Department has not issued a comment regarding these allegations; however, Washington has warned several nations in the past about participating in the reconstruction of Syria.
Reuters – First-term Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California, a rising party star and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, launched her 2020 campaign for the White House on Monday by touting her background as a prosecutor.
Daily Caller – The head of the Justice Department’s criminal division during the George W. Bush administration reportedly opposed pursuing felony charges against pharmaceutical company executives for downplaying OxyContin’s dangers.
Top DOJ officials similarly rejected a prosecutor’s recommendation to file felony charges after they met with executives from Purdue Pharma and their defense team, according to The New York Times.
Members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, sought to mislead the public about abuse surrounding OxyContin, a lawsuit alleges, citing company emails and other documents.
NaturalNews – Well, that didn’t take long.
Late last week Buzzfeed News, whose credibility had already taken a huge hit when the site decided to publish the bogus “Steele Dossier,” destroyed what remained of that credibility by publishing another “bombshell” that has now turned out to be a yuuuuge nothing burger.
The story by “reporters” Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold claimed that POTUS Donald Trump “personally instructed” his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about alleged negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Citing “two federal law enforcement officials,” the report noted further:
Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.
The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.
But within a few hours, the story fell apart.
It turns out that these details are not just questionable and subject to interpretation, they’re outright false — and no less than special counsel Robert Mueller’s office says so.
Daily Mail – on activism, religious pluralism and social diversity but surprisingly NOT devil worship – as leaders are plagued by death threats and infighting
Economy & Business
CNBC – China on Monday announced that its official economic growth came in at 6.6 percent in 2018 — the slowest pace since 1990.
That full-year figure matched expectations from analysts polled by Reuters.
Fourth-quarter GDP growth also matched expectations, coming in at 6.4 percent on-year from 6.5 percent in the third quarter.
Global Research – While no one, including me, doubts that the intensity of corporate espionage that goes on in the tech industry the latest news in the Trump Administration’s assault on Chinese telecom giant Huawai should dispel any doubts as to what the real issue is.
The Trump administration is preparing an executive order that could significantly restrict Chinese state-owned telecom companies from operating in the U.S. over national security concerns, according to people familiar with the matter.
Reached by Bloomberg, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council wouldn’t confirm whether an order is in the works, but did state that “the United States is working across government and with our allies and like-minded partners to mitigate risk in the deployment of 5G and other communications infrastructure.” In the statement, spokesman Garrett Marquis also said that “communications networks form the backbone of our society and underpin every aspect of modern life. The United States will ensure that our networks are secure and reliable.”
Infowars – President Trump’s frustration with the Federal Reserve’s (minuscule) interest rate increases that he blames for the downturn in the stock market has reportedly led him to inquire if he has the authority to remove Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Chairman Powell has stated that he would not comply with a presidential request for his resignation, meaning President Trump would have to fire Powell if Trump was serious about removing him.
The law creating the Federal Reserve gives the president power to remove members of the Federal Reserve Board — including the chairman — “for cause.” The law is silent on what does, and does not, constitute a justifiable cause for removal. So, President Trump may be able to fire Powell for not tailoring monetary policy to the president’s liking.
By firing Powell, President Trump would once and for all dispel the myth that the Federal Reserve is free from political interference. All modern presidents have tried to influence the Federal Reserve’s policies. Is Trump’s threatening to fire Powell worse than President Lyndon Johnson shoving a Fed chairman against a wall after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates? Or worse than President Carter “promoting” an uncooperative Fed chairman to Treasury secretary?
Yet, until President Trump began attacking the Fed on Twitter, the only individuals expressing concerns about political interference with the Federal Reserve in recent years were those claiming the Audit the Fed bill politicizes monetary policy. The truth is that the audit bill, which was recently reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and will soon be reintroduced in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), does not in any way expand Congress’ authority over the Fed. The bill simply authorizes the General Accountability Office to perform a full audit of the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy, including the Fed’s dealings with Wall Street and foreign central banks and governments.
Energy & Environment
Freedom’s Phoenix – Just before Christmas, President Trump signed the bipartisan 2018 Congressional Farm Bill, which included a provision that effectively legalizes hemp in the U.S., as long as it contains no more than 0.3% of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that gets people high, which industrial hemp does not.
The historic law, which takes effect this month, treats hemp as an agricultural commodity and removes it from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of schedule 1 drugs.
However, the Farm Bill empowers states to regulate (or ban) the production and sale of hemp within their borders, a move that would be counterproductive to local farmers who now have the option of growing a productive crop, while corn and soybean prices are low.
Promoters have long extolled the virtue of the grassy weed as one of the cheapest and most important crops for solving the world’s problems around sustainability and health—with it’s alleged ability to treat numerous symptoms and diseases. (And scientific studies support some of these claims.)
The plant, cannabis sativa, is one of the fastest growing crops and was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago. It is so diverse, it can be made into paper, rope, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.
A hemp byproduct called cannabidiol, or “CBD oil”, still has some stringent rules so not just anyone can produce and sell the product. The non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis is now technically legal, if and only if the hemp is produced by a licensed grower in a manner consistent with the Farm Bill and associated federal and state regulations.
33 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes. Over the past six years, 10 states have legalized cannabis and marijuana for adult use, however these are all technically banned under federal law—and the Farm Bill does nothing to change that.
Science & Technology
Ars Technica – Google has been fined €50 million (~$57 million) by French regulators, the first major penalty under a sweeping new European Union privacy law known as GDPR, which took effect last year.
According to the French government agency, known by the acronym CNIL, Google is still in breach of the law.
CNIL explained that Google had violated two provisions of the law: first by not making its data-collection policies easily accessible enough and second by not obtaining sufficient and specific user consent for ad personalization across each of Google’s numerous services, including YouTube, Google Maps, and more.
Health Impact News – Zen Honeycutt, the leader of Moms Across America, announced this week that Costco will not be selling the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup Ready.
In a live video update posted on Facebook, Honeycutt stated that she received word that Costco was no longer selling Roundup or glyphosate-based herbicides.
While she has reportedly not received any official word yet from Costco, she stated that she has talked to various people at the headquarters and various regional offices to confirm this news.
Honeycutt stated that based on the recent lawsuit against Monsanto in 2018, where a jury awarded damages to a man with terminal cancer resulting from exposure to glyphosate, Costco had decided to stop carrying the product.
Moms Across America also sponsored a petition on Change.org that received over 89,000 signatures asking Costco, Lowes, and Home Depot to stop selling Roundup.
It is hoped that Home Depot and Lowes will now follow Costco’s example.
Care2 – The toothache plant has many uses beyond simply fighting tooth pain. Traditionally, it has also been used for reducing wrinkles, combating colds and flu, enhancing sexual function and easing inflammation. In some countries, fresh and cooked leaves of the toothache plant are even eaten in salads and savory dishes.
Native to Brazil, the toothache plant goes by the scientific names of Acmella oleracea, Spilanthes acmella or Spilanthes oleracea. It can also be called paracress, the eyeball plant or electric daisy. In Brazil it’s called jambu.
Despite its varied names, the toothache plant is becoming more popular throughout the world as an herbal powerhouse. And research is growing that shows just how much this plant is capable of. Let’s take a look at some of the toothache plant’s most common uses and how you can take advantage of them.
TOOTHACHE PLANT USES
1. Relieve Pain
2. Combat Inflammation
3. Kill Bacteria and Fungi
4. Enhance Sex Drive & Performance
5. Improve Skin Tone
6. Boost Immune System
Dr. Axe – Perhaps most well-known as a central ingredient in soda bread and rye, caraway seeds are a powerful spice that bring a mix of flavor, aroma and health benefits to the table. In addition to being high in disease-fighting antioxidants, emerging evidence also shows that caraway seeds may promote healthy digestion, increase weight loss and help keep blood sugar levels stable.
So what is caraway seed used for, and why should you consider upping your intake of this stellar spice cabinet staple? Here’s what you need to know.
Top 6 Caraway Seeds Benefits
Ars Technica – With the opioid epidemic raging, you may at this point be familiar with Purdue Pharma. It makes the powerful painkiller OxyContin and has been widely blamed for igniting the current crisis.
After debuting OxyContin in 1996, Purdue raked in billions using aggressive and deceptive sales tactics, including ratcheting up dosages of the addictive opioid while lying about its addictiveness. As OxyContin prescriptions soared, opioid overdose deaths increased six-fold in the US, killing more than 400,000 people between 1999 and 2017. Of those deaths, around 200,000 involved prescription opioids specifically.
In 2007, Purdue and three of its executives pleaded guilty in federal court to misleading doctors, regulators, and patients about the addictiveness of OxyContin. The company has seen a flurry of lawsuits making similar allegations since then.
What you may be less aware of is the wealthy, philanthropic family behind Purdue: the Sacklers. Before the opioid epidemic, the family name was mostly associated with museums and prestigious universities, including art galleries at the Smithsonian Institution and Harvard. The Sacklers have worked to keep their good name and mostly stay out of the spotlight. But new, explosive court filings in a case brought by the state of Massachusetts stand to further thwart the family’s efforts.
Documents released this week (PDF) allege—and include new, rather damning evidence—that members of the Sackler family not only knew about the illegal and loathsome activities at Purdue, but they personally directed them. Members of the Sackler family, particularly Richard Sackler, aggressively pushed for extreme sales figures—and profits—which they accomplished in part by bullying their sales representatives; targeting vulnerable patients, such as the elderly and veterans; suggesting that the addictive opioid was an alternative to safe medications like Tylenol; and encouraging doctors to write longer and higher dose prescriptions, according to the lawsuit. All the while, the family allegedly dismissed evidence of OxyContin’s addictiveness and blamed patients for their addictions—referring to them as “reckless criminals.”