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World News

Hong Kong protesters storm legislature, smash doors and walls

Al Jazeera – Protesters in Hong Kong ran riot in the territory’s legislature on Monday, smashing walls and occupying the chamber amid widespread anger over a proposed law that would allow suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China.

Police have warned protesters to clear the building immediately, saying they will deploy “appropriate force” if they remain inside.

Protesters have reinforced the barricades outside the building in response, though it remains uncertain whether those inside will abandon the building or defend it.

Earlier, riot police apparently retreated as hundreds of demonstrators streamed into the building after a small group of mostly students wearing hard hats and masks used a metal trolley, poles and scaffolding to repeatedly charge at the compound’s reinforced glass doors, which finally gave way.

Once inside, protesters ripped portraits of chief executives from walls and sprayed graffiti calling for the release of arrested protesters. An old colonial-era flag was draped over the speaker’s chair and a plaque showing a white flower, the symbol of Hong Kong, was blacked-out with spray paint.

The flag was replaced by a black sign which read: “There is no way left”. On the reserve, the message read “There’s no rioters, there’s only tyranny”.

The extraordinary scenes came on the anniversary of the semi-autonomous territory’s return from British control to mainland China 22 years ago.

Farage: We Must End ‘Globalist Drive’ to Outsource People’s Sovereignty to Elites

Breitbart – Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has said that patriots must end the “globalist drive” to outsource decision-making to supranational bodies like the EU, warning that the elites want to see the nation-state “dissolved”.

Speaking to American conservative activist Candace Owens in a PragerU interview aired Sunday, Mr Farage explained that Brexit was a “fightback” against European institutions determining Britons’ future for them, with the United Kingdom battling to become a “normal nation” again — one that is the master of its own destiny.

“Brexit is saying: ‘We want to govern our own country, we want to make our own laws, we want to live in democracy, and we want the people who make the decisions who affect our lives to be directly accountable to us.’ We want to be able to sack them at the next election. With the European Commission, you can’t do that,” Mr Farage explained on The Candace Owens Show.

The Brexit campaigner observed that across Europe — notably in Hungary and Italy — there has been a resurgence of conservativism and pro-democracy movements, and expressed a hope that, post-Brexit, the United Kingdom and European nations could trade and co-operate freely as “neighbours” and “friends” in a relationship between fellow sovereign nations.

However, he also warned that “We’ve got to end this globalist drive to give away the ability to determine our own futures. The whole thing’s effectively bought and paid for by a handful of giant multinational companies, one or two very rich individuals. and they basically would like to see the nation-state almost be dissolved.

“It’s why in many ways the Trump victory was so important, because Hillary Clinton was completely sold on this European [project],” he added.

“The European Union agenda is basically a prototype for a bigger form of global government and co-operation. [Clinton] actually said to her friends in Wall Street that she wanted America to join a ‘hemispheric common market’… because she is a globalist.”

Australian Rugby Star’s Anti-Gay Post Exposes Fault Lines Over Religious Freedom

WSJ – Israel Folau was fired and his multimillion-dollar contract canceled after he posted that gay people and others would go to hell.

The firing of one of Australia’s best-known sports stars for saying gay people are headed for hell has exposed social fault lines and sparked debate about what constitutes religious expression.

Boycott by Whites of South African Restaurant Reflects Growing Sense of Grievance

NY Times – For many white children growing up in apartheid South Africa, the Spur Steak Ranches restaurant chain was a home away from home, offering kid-friendly meals and play areas with an American Wild West theme.

For their parents, the chain’s outposts served as the social center in many rural towns and in suburbs like Strand, a once-popular beach resort about 30 miles from Cape Town.

“A lot of people thought of Spur as their living room,” said Johan Pienaar, a brand consultant.

But some of Spur’s most ardent fans have been staying away, supporting a boycott now entering its third year that has highlighted the underlying racial tensions in South African society.

The former patrons speak in emotional terms of a betrayal by a cherished brand, whose outposts were effectively barred to blacks during apartheid because of their locations in whites-only areas.

Subscribe for original insights, commentary and discussions on the major news stories of the week, from columnists Max Fisher and Amanda Taub.

“I’ll never set foot inside that place again,” said Keith van Eeden, who lives in Strand and was a loyal Spur customer for more than three decades, religiously taking his three children there on their birthdays.

“Spur is only for blacks now,” Mr. van Eeden added. “They don’t want the whites.”

Newborn baby fighting for life after pregnant woman stabbed to death in London

Irish Examiner – A woman who was around eight months pregnant has been stabbed to death and her baby is critically ill in hospital.

The Metropolitan Police has launched a murder probe in south London following what a senior detective described as a “horrific incident”.

he force said officers were called to reports of a woman in cardiac arrest at an address in Croydon at around 3.30am on Saturday.

On arrival, a 26-year-old pregnant woman was found with stab injuries.

This is a horrific incident in which a young mother has lost her life and her child is critically ill

She died at the scene, where her baby was also delivered.

The newborn remains in hospital in a critical condition, Scotland Yard said.

Recreational Drug Use Surges Worldwide, UN Study Reports

Bloomberg – Some 271 million people globally, or more than one in 20 of the population aged 15 to 64, used recreational drugs in 2017, according to newly released data from the United Nations World Drug Report. That’s a 30% increase from 2009.

The use of cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and prescription stimulants are at post-recession highs in the U.S., the study said. And although the use of prescription opioids has dipped recently, the number of overdoses has increased. More than 47,000 deaths were recorded there in 2017, many of them attributed to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

The most popular drug globally continues to be cannabis, with an estimated 188 million people having used it in 2017, according to the study. Cannabis usage is most prevalent in North America, where there are an estimated 56.6 million users, followed by Asia with 54.2 million.

Trump and Kim’s DMZ meeting mixes show and substance

AP – “Ok, let’s do it.”

With those words, a deliberate step and a pat on the arm of Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump became the first sitting American leader to step into North Korea on Sunday as the two made history at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone. The made-for-television moment was unthinkable just two years ago, when the men were trading base insults and grim threats.

Trump’s three-hour stop at the DMZ — of which about 80 minutes were spent with Kim — was a display of handshake-diplomacy for the history books, but also a chaotic spectacle reflective of the last-minute nature of the invitation to the authoritarian leader to join him at the border between the Koreas.

Afterward, it was unclear whether the meeting was more show than substance. Other than the headline-grabbing moment and the unprecedented images, Trump’s only accomplishment appeared to be securing an agreement to restart nuclear talks that he himself had walked out on in February during his last summit with Kim in Vietnam.

Trump had long planned a visit to the DMZ, dating to 2017 when a scheduled trip was canceled by fog, but aides said the public invitation for Kim to join him there was as spontaneous as it seemed. In typical Trump fashion, it started with a tweet.

Trump Helps Bring Shunned Authoritarians Back In From the Cold

Bloomberg – It was a good few days to be an authoritarian leader.

At the Group of 20 gathering in Japan, leaders who can find themselves shunned at such multilateral summits were the focus of U.S. President Donald Trump’s attention, humor and respect across Friday and Saturday.

Turkey’s leader was a “tough cookie” and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince a “friend” who has done a “spectacular job.” Trump said he had a “tremendous discussion” with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. China’s President Xi Jinping was “one of the great leaders in 200 years.”

Then on Sunday Trump became the first sitting president to set foot in North Korea, a day after he issued a surprise invite via Twitter for Kim Jong Un to meet him at the Demilitarized Zone, the heavily fortified border between the North and South. What was intended as a handshake and brief chat turned into an unscheduled summit of more than an hour.

The encounters marked a welcome and long-sought return from the cold for the likes of Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, who have otherwise been the target of sanctions, isolation and opprobrium from the U.S. government. All came away having gained from the exchange, whether something concrete like trade concessions or more nebulous, such as legitimacy and respect.

Influence U.S.

“This G-20 meeting has been less about the largest economies of the world, and more about a few illiberal political economies that have influence on the largest economy of the world — the U.S.,” said Karen Young, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “Both Russia and Saudi Arabia have used the conference to demonstrate their ability to capture Trump’s attention and praise.”

ISIS is poised for a ‘devastating’ comeback with the help of secret billions and sleeper cells, new report warns

Daily Mail – ISIS could be set for a ‘devastating’ comeback despite its defeat earlier this year – a bombshell study has revealed.

US-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War published a report suggesting the caliphate is alive and well and is set to re-emerge imminently with deadly consequences.

According to the report, ISIS still maintains several sleeper cells and has accrued billions of pounds worth of funding which has allowed it to remain a threat.

The slow-motion reduction of ISIS territory and strength initiated by President Obama and continued by President Trump gave the group plenty of time to plan and prepare for the next phase of the war,’ the report states.

‘Its forces are now dispersed across both countries and are waging a capable insurgency.

‘Its successful reconstitution of a physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria would produce new waves of attacks in Europe and dangerously legitimise ISIS’s narrative of inevitable long-term victory.’

Man Who Bravely Fought Off Islamic Terrorists is Put on an Terror Watchlist by UK Government

Infowars – The ‘Lion of London Bridge’ who bravely fought off Islamic terrorists has been put on an anti-radicalization terror watchlist by the UK government over fears he could become a right-wing extremist.

Yes, really.

49-year-old Roy Larner screamed “f*** you, I’m Millwall” as he defended himself against jihadists who ended up killing 8 people and injuring 38 others during the horrific attack in London two years ago.

The attack left Larner with more than 80 stitches to his head, ear, arms and hands after two of the terrorists slashed at his head and neck.

Following the attack, Larner revealed that the terrorists had shouted, “This is for Allah” and “Islam, Islam, Islam” during the rampage.

Now Larner himself is being treated as a potential terrorist by the UK government.

Because he was allegedly contacted by far-right anti-Islam activists, Larner has been put on the government’s Prevent terror watchlist over fears he might become an extremist.

“They treat me like a terrorist but I’m not political at all,” said Larner, who revealed he has been forced to attend de-radicalization classes and is being monitored by the police.

Despite being hailed as a hero after the attack, with speculation that he could even be given the George Cross, the highest civilian award for gallantry, Larner is now literally being treated as a potential terrorist by his own country.

The United Kingdom is so addled with political correctness, it treats those who fought back against Islamic jihadists as terrorists.

Let the sheer intensity of that level of clown world insanity sink right in.

Brexit toxicity? Crimes in UK parliament soar by almost 50 percent in two years

RT – The number of crimes reported in Britain’s parliament, including assault, robbery, drug possession and blackmail, have increased by nearly 50 percent since 2016, according to figures released by the Metropolitan Police.

Data acquired by Sky News under the Freedom of Information Act shows that there were 578 crimes reported on parliamentary grounds in Westminster between 2016 and 2018. In total, 236 crimes were reported in 2018, a 45 percent rise on 2016 numbers (163 reports).

The number of threatening letters sent to MPs has more than doubled in that time amid concerns they’re being targeted over their views on Brexit.

Yasmin Qureshi, Labour MP for Bolton South East, who was the victim of online harassment by a man who was later jailed, suggests the steep rise in threatening letters is linked to the toxicity surrounding the contentious Brexit issue.

Iran Tells US to Get Rid of Its Chemical Weapons Stocks

Sputnik – With Moscow destroying the last of its Soviet-era chemical weapons arsenal in 2017 under supervision from the world’s chemical weapons watchdog, the US is thought to have the largest stockpile of such weapons in the world. Washington originally promised to eliminate the agents by 2012, but has pushed back the deadline repeatedly to at least 2023.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on Washington to destroy its chemical arsenal, saying the only way toward a world without weapons of mass destruction would be to “completely destroy the chemical weapons arsenal of the US as the only owner of such weapons in the world.”

U.S. News, Politics & Government

9/11 first responder Luis Alvarez

NYT – “You all said you would never forget. Well, I’m here to make sure that you don’t,” Alvarez told Congress this month shortly before he went into hospice.

Luis G. Alvarez, a former New York City detective who pleaded with Congress this month to extend health benefits to police officers, firefighters and other emergency workers who responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, died on Saturday in a hospice in Rockville Centre, N.Y. He was 53.

His family announced his death in a post on Facebook. The cause was complications of colorectal cancer, for which Mr. Alvarez received a diagnosis in 2016. The disease was linked to the three months he had spent at the site of the toppled World Trade Center towers in Lower Manhattan, searching for survivors and for remains of his fellow officers on nearby rooftops and in the toxic rubble at ground zero.

Mr. Alvarez, the father of three sons, including two teenagers, delivered a raspy appeal before a House Judiciary subcommittee in Washington on June 11 to replenish the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

He appeared alongside Jon Stewart, the former host of “The Daily Show,” who delivered a passionate call for justice on behalf of the victims.

The refunding bill passed the full committee unanimously, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, agreed to allow the legislation to go to a floor vote in August.

“You need to be covered,” Mr. Alvarez said in an interview on Fox News a week after his testimony. “I’m lucky to have the health care that I’ve got, but there are guys out there who don’t have it. In terms of going through the stress of fighting cancer, they’re also fighting the financial stress of the health care.”

>>Related: 9/11 Dust Linked to Prostate Cancer in First Responders

Newsmas – A possible link between World Trade Center dust and prostate cancer in first responders has been found by researchers.

They noted that inflammation has long been considered an important factor in prostate cancer.

Bubonic Plague In LA: California On The Verge Of Becoming A Third World State

SHFTplan – The city of Los Angeles is quickly descending into a cesspool of decay and disease.  With bubonic plague now likely present amongst residents, the city and the state of California are on the verge of becoming a third-world hellscape.  Some say that that’s already happened…

Tucker Carlson had historian Victor Davis Hanson on his show just last week, where the latter said that California is on the verge of becoming the nation’s first Third World state. From trash being illegally dumped to city hall becoming a rat-infested den in the city of LA, it all points to the decay suffered when Democrats run things. Even police stations in the city are loaded with rats and according to Townhall, one was fined $5,000 over its conditions that left one officer stricken with typhoid fever. California’s descent has gotten to the point where there is a possibility that bubonic plague (the black death) may now be present in the city.

This isn’t new information either. Typhus outbreaks were being reported back in February. Typhus is not transmitted person-to-person, and flea-borne typhus can spread to people from infected fleas and their feces. Typhus infection can be prevented through flea control measures on pets, using insect repellent to avoid flea bites and clearing areas that can attract wild or stray animals like cats, rats, and opossums, according to the Department of Public Health.

Man arrested for smuggling immigrants after answering Craigslist ad

QZ – A California man who answered a Craigslist ad looking for a driver wound up getting hit with federal charges when his passengers turned out to be undocumented immigrants who snuck into the country moments earlier.

The case reflects one facet of the larger issue of immigration in America, and how the crackdown by the Trump administration is impacting immigrants and citizens alike.

Authorities arrested the man—identified as Christopher Brian Egbert in court documents obtained by Quartz—earlier this month after trying to evade police in a black Toyota Prius.

Early on the morning of June 2, a US Border Patrol agent monitoring a surveillance video feed watched as seven people climbed a 15-foot-high border fence between Mexico and the United States, about 25 miles east of the Calexico West Port of Entry. Five made it; two turned back for reasons unexplained in filings related to the case.

Shortly before 7 am, according to a sworn affidavit, the surveillance officer watched as the five people got into a black sedan traveling on Interstate 8. When another Border Patrol agent attempted to pull the sedan over, the driver tried to flee, driving through alleys and side streets. Eventually, Egbert stopped.

None of his passengers had papers. So officers arrested Egbert on federal “alien smuggling” charges, which apply to someone who “knowingly has encouraged, induced, assisted, abetted, or aided” another person to enter the US illegally. Egbert agreed to speak to Border Patrol agents, claiming he was simply doing a job he had gotten on Craigslist.

“Egbert stated he was suspicious when he got to the location of the Craigslist ad and noticed that it was not a residence like most of the other rides he has given, but decided to continue with the pick up anyways,” court documents say. “Egbert stated he was told to take the individuals to Los Angeles.”

FBI probing Antifa plot to buy guns from Mexican cartel, ‘stage an armed rebellion at the border’

Fox (May 02 2019) – The FBI is investigating a supposed radical far-left Antifa plot to “stage an armed rebellion” and “disrupt U.S. law enforcement and military security operations at the US/Mexican border.”

Word of the probe comes after years of the FBI putting greater emphasis on the threat of Antifa activities, with bureau Director Christopher Wray saying the agency is looking into the ideology and individuals associated with the movement.

But according to a December FBI document obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune, the agency is now tackling actual alleged plots of possible criminal activities that would affect U.S. homeland security.

The FBI report, which wasn’t posted online because the matter is still active, alleged that the anti-fascist activists were looking into buying firearms from a “Mexico-based cartel associate known as Cobra Commander” that would be used to “stage an armed rebellion at the border.”

It also warns that the Antifa activists “planned to disrupt U.S. law enforcement and military security operations at the US/Mexican border.”

The document reportedly was shared with multiple federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the CIA and the National Security Administration.

New York Man Arrested After Shooting Home Invaders

Big League Politics – Ronald Stolarczyk is facing firearms charges after shooting two men who broke into his house.

An upstate New York man is facing firearms charges after lawfully defending his home from two burglars.

Ronald Stolarczyk of Oneida County, 64, is being charged with felony possession of a weapon used against two burglars who broke into his house. Stolarczyk heard voices in his garage one day in May, and went on to vocally warn the strangers who had entered his home. When the two burglars started coming up the stairs, Stolarczyk shot them both with a Rossi .38 Special revolver. Both suspects later died.

Officers who responded on the scene and the Oneida County District Attorney later determined that Solarczyk had lawfully defended his own home from two intruders. But he was later charged with felony gun possession by the DA for his possession of the weapon, which was handed down by his deceased father. New York requires a series of registration permits and licensing for all firearms, even those that are passed from father to son. Stolarczyk never registered his ownership of the gun after his father died.

Stolarczyk is currently in jail, unable to afford the $10,000 bail required by the court for his freedom.

Miranda Lambert, Mookie Betts and TSA PreCheck: Sign up at music fests, Red Sox games

USA Today – The neon green fanny pack strapped around Annabel Hess’ skinny jeans carried all the essentials for a music festival: credit card, driver’s license, phone, Chapstick.

And her passport.

The 25-year-old concert-goer wasn’t headed out of the country after Miranda Lambert closed the first night of the annual Country LakeShake festival. She brought it to sign up for TSA PreCheck, the government’s expedited airport security program.

Hess, a regular traveler, had been meaning to sign up so she no longer has to beg other passengers to cut the security line when she’s running late for her flight. Her roommate has had PreCheck since college and saw the festival’s pitch about enrolling on-site and getting a fast pass through festival security as a bonus.

“This was an easy opportunity,” Hess said. “So here I am.”

She signed up inside the green and purple Identogo RV outside the festival gates in about 10 minutes and headed for the fast-pass line to get into the festival.

Identogo by Idemia, which handles TSA PreCheck enrollment under a government contract, has been trying to boost PreCheck enrollment by offering sign-ups at nontraditional locations. Most people sign up at an airport or a universal enrollment center run by Idemia. In addition to music festivals, Identogo has expanded enrollment to office supply retailer Staples and sporting events including, beginning this year, Boston Red Sox games at Fenway Park.

“What we’re trying to do is make it more convenient for people to enroll,” said Charles Carroll, senior vice president at Idemia. “Take away all the friction points.”

PreCheck sign-ups began at festivals a few years ago in a partnership with concert promoter LiveNation and have been ramped up this year, with LiveNation and at other events, he said. The RV was parked at the BottleRock Napa Valley musical festival in northern California in late May and spent the first weekend in June at CMA Fest in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Dire” Law Enforcement Crisis in Rural Alaska Prompts Emergency Declaration, New Federal Funding

ProPublica – The announcement comes a month after U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr visited the state to hear concerns about a lack of police in rural communities. The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica reported that one in three Alaska communities lacks local law enforcement.

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr declared an emergency for public safety in rural Alaska on Friday and announced more than $10 million in funds as part of a sweeping plan to support law enforcement in Alaska Native villages.

The U.S. Department of Justice will immediately provide $6 million to the state to hire, equip and train rural police, and for mobile holding cells. An additional $4.5 million will support 20 officer positions and be provided to Alaska Native organizations by the end of July.

The announcement follows an investigation by the Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica, which found that one in three communities in Alaska, about 70 altogether and nearly all of them Alaska Native, had no local law enforcement at some point this year. Many are in regions with the highest rates of poverty, sexual assault and suicide in the United States.

In some hub communities that do have police, survivors of sexual assault say rapists go unpunished. Mothers of Alaska Native women who were found dead under suspicious circumstances say cases go unsolved.

Barr visited Alaska in May to hear concerns from Alaska Natives and rural residents about a lack of police in rural communities and high rates of sexual assault and family violence. During a trip to a Western Alaska village, Barr called the situation an “emergency” and vowed to do everything he could to help.

Economy & Business

Missouri’s first robotic Amazon fulfillment center to open in St. Peters

Fox – Amazon’s first robotic fulfillment center in Missouri will soon open its doors and bringing lots of jobs.

“It will be before the holiday season,” said Clint Hall, general manager of the Amazon STL8. “We’re ready to get going. We have a lot of exciting talent coming into the building. Getting geared up and training right now.”

The facility will handle products going all over the country with the space equivalent to 14 football fields, high-tech robotics, and 13 miles of conveyance.

Better yet, they will be employing 1,500 people in all kinds of jobs and they start hiring on June 28.

“They range from FC associates all the way up to operations managers in the fulfillment center,” Hall said.

Approximately 1,100 people have already been hired to work in the construction of Amazon’s new facility called STL8. They broke ground on the building in the fourth quarter in 2018.

“It’s remarkable what teams have accomplished both from Amazon and Duke Reality,” Hall said. “They did a great job of working together and getting this up quickly.”

They will be running two 10-hour shifts during the week. This facility, however, is different than the fulfillment center in Edwardsville.

Apple Moves Mac Pro Production From US to China

Newsmax – Apple Inc. is shifting manufacturing of its new Mac Pro computer to China from the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The move comes at a time when the Trump administration has boosted tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% and has threatened to impose new levies on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports.The tech giant has tapped contractor Quanta Computer Inc to manufacture the $6,000 desktop computer and is ramping up production at a factory near Shanghai, the WSJ.com report said.

‘OPEC is going to die’: Iran says Saudi-Russian alliance could kill oil cartel
RT – Tehran has warned that the deal between Saudi Arabia and non-OPEC member Russia to cap global crude production could kill the original OPEC alliance.

“I have no problem with a production cut. The main challenge to OPEC is unilateralism,” Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters before the OPEC summit in Vienna on Monday.

During the weekend, Russian and Saudi Arabian leaders met on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan. After that, both Moscow and Riyadh signaled that they both support the extension of crude output cuts for another nine months.

Iran advocates keeping the agreement for six or nine months, but the oil minister said that OPEC members need to discuss the matter together first, instead of “two people [deciding] outside OPEC” before their approval.

“This is the biggest threat to OPEC,” Zangeneh said. “Iran won’t leave OPEC but I believe OPEC is going to die. It’s going to die with these processes.”

It’s not the first time the Islamic Republic has criticized fellow oil cartel members. In May, the country’s oil minister warned that the bloc is on the brink of collapse due to “unilateralism.” Back then, he was believed to be referring to Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom said it could fill the gap in the market after the US announced the suspension of temporary sanctions waivers, in an attempt to cut off Iranian oil exports.

Energy & Environment

Black vultures are roosting in Kentucky and eating animals alive

Courier Journal – They’ll devour slimy newborn calves, full-grown ewes and lambs alive by pecking them to death.

First the eyes, then the tongue, then every last shred of flesh.

And there isn’t much defense against black vultures and turkey vultures, both of which are federally protected and cannot be killed without a permit.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 covers all migratory birds, their nests and their eggs, which means that the birds can’t be harmed without federal permission. Their nests can only be disrupted, as a deterrent, if there are no eggs or young in them.

But as the vultures, which are native to Kentucky, have multiplied in numbers nationally over the last two decades, they have become more of a problem for farmers. Each year, Kentucky farmers lose around $300,000 to $500,000 worth of livestock to these native vultures, according to Joe Cain, commodity division director for the Kentucky Farm Bureau.

It’s not just farm animals. Small pets may be at risk too.

Science & Technology

Face-Reading AI Will Tell Police When Suspects Are Hiding Truth

Bloomberg – American psychologist Paul Ekman’s research on facial expressions spawned a whole new career of human lie detectors more than four decades ago. Artificial intelligence could soon take their jobs.

While the U.S. has pioneered the use of automated technologies to reveal the hidden emotions and reactions of suspects, the technique is still nascent and a whole flock of entrepreneurial ventures are working to make it more efficient and less prone to false signals.

Facesoft, a U.K. start-up, says it has built a database of 300 million images of faces, some of which have been created by an AI system modeled on the human brain, The Times reported. The system built by the company can identify emotions like anger, fear and surprise based on micro-expressions which are often invisible to the casual observer.

“If someone smiles insincerely, their mouth may smile, but the smile doesn’t reach their eyes — micro-expressions are more subtle than that and quicker,” co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Allan Ponniah, who’s also a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in London, told the newspaper.

Facesoft has approached police in Mumbai about using the system for monitoring crowds to detect the evolving mob dynamics, Ponniah said. It has also touted its product to police forces in the U.K.

The use of AI algorithms among police has stirred controversy recently. A research group whose members include Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc published a report in April stating that current algorithms aimed at helping police determine who should be granted bail, parole or probation, and which help judges make sentencing decisions, are potentially biased, opaque, and may not even work.

The Partnership on AI found that such systems are already in widespread use in the U.S. and were gaining a foothold in other countries too. It said it opposes any use of these systems.

A Second U.S. City Has Banned Facial Recognition

Vice – Somerville, which neighbors Cambridge, Massachusetts, just joined San Francisco in banning the use of facial recognition.

The “Face Surveillance Full Ban Ordinance,” which passed through Somerville’s City Council on Thursday night, forbids any “department, agency, bureau, and/or subordinate division of the City of Somerville” from using facial recognition software in public spaces. The ordinance passed Somerville’s Legislative Matters Committee on earlier this week.

The ordinance defines facial surveillance as “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying an individual, capturing information about an individual, based on the physical characteristics of an individual’s face,” which is operationally equivalent to facial recognition.

San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition by police and city government agencies a month ago, making it the first U.S. city to do so. The success of a similar ordinance from Somerville shows that there’s momentum in major U.S. cities behind the idea that we shouldn’t just regulate the use of facial recognition, but ban it entirely.

Kade Crockford, director of the technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, said in a phone call that at the state level, the ACLU is advocating for a moratorium or pause of facial recognition technology, while at the local level, the ACLU is advocating for bans.

“At the municipal level, it’s different,” Crockford said. “State governments have the capacity to regulate, whereas local governments really don’t. They don’t have the ability, for example, to create new institutions that could oversee, with sufficient care and attention, the implementation of an oversight or accountability system to guard against civil rights and civil liberties abuses.”

There are currently 30 locations in Somerville that are outfitted with surveillance cameras, and these locations are mapped on Somerville’s city website.

Health

Hydrochlorothiazide Tied to Increased Melanoma Risk

Med Page Today – Long-term use of the common diuretic hydrochlorothiazide may be associated with increased melanoma risk, a case-control study found.

High hydrochlorothiazide users, defined as those with a cumulative dose of ≥50,000 mg, appeared to have a higher risk of being diagnosed with melanoma compared with those who never used the drug (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.22, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.36), reported Anton Pottegård, MScPharm, PhD, of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, and colleagues.

“We have recently shown that hydrochlorothiazide use increases the risk of lip and nonmelanoma skin cancer, notably squamous cell carcinoma,” the authors wrote in JAMA Internal Medicine. “It would have substantial implications if the carcinogenic effect of hydrochlorothiazide also extended to malignant melanoma.”

Hydrochlorothiazide is among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S., with an estimated 10 million patients using the drug each year for conditions such as edema, hypertension, osteoporosis, and diabetes — usually at daily doses of 25 mg or higher.

RAND Study: Hospitals Charging The Privately Insured 2.4 Times What They Charge Medicare Patients

Rand Study – For generations, the prices that hospitals charge patients with private insurance have been shrouded in secrecy. An explosive new study has unlocked some of those secrets. It finds that employers and their insurers are failing to control hospital costs, increasing calls for transparency into insurer-hospital agreements.

Growing frustrations with employer-based insurance

The rising interest in single-payer health care can be explained by a simple fact: the cost of private, employer-sponsored health insurance keeps going up. The original sin of the American health care system—the exclusion from taxation of employer-sponsored insurance—has created all sorts of incentives for hospitals, drug companies, and other health care industries to keep raising their prices, knowing that patients are several middlemen removed from the cost and value of the care they receive.

Employers have been reluctant to control costs, because workers often get upset if a favored—but costly—hospital or doctor is excluded from the employers’ plan. The end result has been a passive-aggressive approach in which deductibles have tripled over the last decade, and wage growth has been suppressed.

The biggest driver of these problems is the high cost of hospital care. Hospital care represents more than one-third of the cost of health insurance.

Hospitals are exploiting the weakness of employer-based insurance

One study, published in Health Affairs in 2015, found that the cost of a hospital stay increased by more than 50 percent, in inflation-adjusted dollars, for the privately insured between 1996 and 2012. Over the same period, hospital costs for Medicare patients remained stable. By 2012, the average privately-insured patient was being charged 1.9 times what the average Medicare patients was for a hospital stay.

This week’s new analysis, by Chapin White and Christopher Whaley of the RAND Corporation, finds that things are worse: hospitals, in their study, are charging the privately insured 2.4 times what they charge Medicare patients, on average.

Environmental Working Group Calls on US CDC to Monitor Americans’ Exposure to Glyphosate

Sustainable Pulse – Glyphosate, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S., should be added to the list of toxic chemicals the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly measures in the bodies of the American people, Environmental Working Group said in a letter sent today to the CDC.

A growing body of research has found that Americans, including children, are exposed to glyphosate through food sprayed with the weedkiller, and from air and water because of the widespread presence of glyphosate in the environment.

A University of California biomonitoring study of more than 1,000 older adults in Southern California found that at least 70 percent had detectable traces of glyphosate in their bodies between 2014 and 2017. That compared to just 12 percent of participants tested between 1993 and 1996, EWG said in the letter to CDC.

The dramatic increase in exposure among the participants in the California study aligns with the growing amount of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – sprayed on cropland since the mid-1990s. More than 250 million pounds were sprayed in 2016.

Most glyphosate used in agriculture is applied on Roundup-ready corn and on soybeans genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. Increasingly, however, glyphosate is used on non-GMO wheat, barley, oats and beans. The herbicide kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner. EWG has conducted three rounds of tests of popular oat-based cereals and snack foods marketed toward kids, and found glyphosate in nearly every sample of food.

A recent review of 19 studies of the evidence of human exposure to glyphosate globally, led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, highlighted the limitations of currently available data and concluded that additional studies are urgently needed.

In the letter, EWG urged the CDC to address the lack of nationwide biomonitoring studies of glyphosate, especially exposure of young children. “The EPA’s dietary risk assessments indicate that children one to two years old likely have the highest exposure levels, comparable with EPA estimates of exposure in occupational settings – and yet real-life data on infants’ and children’s exposure to glyphosate are missing,” EWG wrote.

Health Benefits of Green Tea Examined in Clinical Trials

Newsmax – Green tea is a popular health trend, with many people sipping in hopes of deriving benefits from the brew.

There’s nothing wrong with that, dietitians say — green tea is a healthy drink loaded with antioxidants. But the jury’s still out on many of its purported health benefits.

“Clinical trials related to green tea are still in their early stages,” said Nancy Farrell Allen, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “I say drink it, enjoy it. It’s not going to hurt, and it might have worthy benefits. But nutrition is a science, and it takes time for our understanding to evolve.”

Green tea’s potential health benefits derive from catechins, which are powerful antioxidant compounds known as flavonoids, said Chelsey Schneider, clinical nutrition supervisor at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Cancer Center in New York City.

One catechin in particular, known as EGCG, is found at higher levels in green tea than in either white or black tea, she said.

“This compound can be even stronger than vitamin C and E, which are very, very strong antioxidants,” Schneider said. Antioxidants help prevent damage to cells.

Pet News 

How medical assistance dogs can transform people’s lives

Daily Mail – Until recently, a trip to the supermarket with her mother would have been out of the question for Bethany Fletcher. The 11-year-old, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, has severe autism and she finds the crowds, bright lights and repetitive beeping of the tills unbearable.

Since Bethany was a toddler, such trips have often resulted in meltdowns, leaving her mother Teresa, 49, and father Steve, 48, exasperated.

In moments of extreme distress, Bethany attempts to pull out her eyebrow hairs or, more distressingly, her teeth.

But today, Bethany is standing in line, a picture of calm at her local branch of Sainsbury’s. Beside her is a golden retriever with conker-coloured eyes – and Bethany remains calm as she slowly pats her furry companion’s head.

Meet eight-year-old Quartz, one of 7,000 so-called medical assistance dogs who are employed to help disabled or unwell Britons reclaim their freedom and, in some cases, even keep them alive.

The skills of medical assistance dogs have developed exponentially since the introduction of guide dogs for the blind and deaf in the 1930s.

Recently, psychologists found that simply petting animals could ease the psychological symptoms of myriad mental health problems. Just last week, TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson credited her two English bulldogs for helping her recovery from depression following the breakdown of her marriage.

But emotional support is just one health benefit. Dogs’ acute sense of smell can now be trained to detect, and help prevent, fatal epileptic and diabetic attacks, and triggers for people with allergies.

Even more remarkably, the latest research shows that dogs can even spot signs of cancer in blood – a medical advancement yet to be cracked by cancer experts. At least 55 medical assistance dogs have already been allocated to Britons at risk of sudden seizures.

From a labrador that sniffed out breast cancer, to the retriever who collects her disabled owner’s post, here are some of Britain’s life-saving canines…

Shark Tries To Attack A Dog, A Bunch Of Other Dogs Rush To The Rescue In Epic Video

Daily caller – An awesome video has gone viral of dogs proving why they’re the absolute best.

In a video posted on Twitter by @Frenchring51, a dog is chilling in the ocean when a shark tries to attack him. A bunch of other dogs on the beach weren’t having any of it.

Like a group of Navy SEALs leaping into action, they rushed into the water and ran the shark off in a glorious rescue effort of their friend.

So when a shark goes after one of the dogs, all his buddies come to his rescue. pic.twitter.com/ExCESkM8yO

— Robert Mitchell (@Frenchring51) June 25, 2019

My friends, I think I might have a tear in my eye right now. Humans truly don’t deserve dogs. I’m not sure how many people would have rushed into the water to save their dog against a massive shark.

Those fellow furry animals on the beach didn’t hesitate. It’s like a siren went out and they immediately rushed into the water to save their friend.

That’s the kind of loyalty wired into your DNA. It’s something dogs are born with. It’s not something you can teach to a human or a four-legged companion.

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