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World News

China demands US cancel proposed $2.2bn arms sale to Taiwan

Al Jazeera – China has demanded that the United States “immediately cancel” a potential $2.2bn arms sale to Taiwan, including battle tanks and anti-aircraft missiles.

The move would be Washington’s first big-ticket military sale to the democratically-governed island in decades, and comes amid deteriorating ties between the US and China, the world’s two largest economies that have been locked in an acrimonious trade war.

It risks further heightening tensions with China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has not ruled out the use of force to bring the self-ruled island under its control.

Addressing reporters on Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that Beijing had lodged formal complaints through diplomatic channels expressing “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the proposed sale.

UK opposition backs new Brexit referendum

BBC – Jeremy Corbyn has challenged the next Tory leader to hold another referendum before taking Britain out of the EU, saying Labour will campaign for Remain.

Mr Corbyn says the party will take this position to stop “no deal or a damaging Tory Brexit”.

But he does not say what he would do if he won a general election and was placed in charge of the Brexit process.

Some senior members of his team want him to take a pro-Remain stance in any circumstances.

In an interview with the BBC’s John Pienaar, Mr Corbyn said Labour was now the “party of choice” when it came to Brexit.

He said he had done “what I think a leader should do… an awful lot of listening” to party members, unions and the wider Labour movement before coming to a revised position.

He said he would “make a case” to Parliament in September to get another referendum and in the meantime, Labour will “do everything we can to take no deal off the table or stop a damaging deal of the sort Hunt or Johnson propose”.

Asked if he had changed his position because of pressure from colleagues, Mr Corbyn said: “Not a bit of it.

“I’ve been listening and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Mr Corbyn said he could not say what Labour’s position would be at a general election, but would decide it “very quickly”, depending on the circumstances at the time, whenever one was called.

Earlier, he set out his shift in position in a letter to members.

The announcement follows a shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, and a meeting with trade union leaders on Monday.

Iran breaks nuclear deal, enriches uranium to 4.5%

CS Monitor – On Monday, Iran began enriching uranium to 4.5%, breaking the limit of 3.67% set by its 2015 nuclear deal. Higher enrichment and a growing stockpile could narrow the one-year window Iran would need to stockpile material for an atomic bomb.

Trump says won’t deal with UK ambassador after leak of ‘inept’ memos

Reuters – Donald Trump said he would not deal with Britain’s ambassador to Washington after a leak of confidential memos in which the diplomat described the U.S. president’s administration as “inept”.

‘Britain has fallen, freedom’s gone’ – Tommy Robinson asks Trump for political asylum in US

RT – British activist Tommy Robinson, who is facing jail time in the UK, has sought political asylum in the United States, claiming that he fears for his life as “dark forces are at work” in his home country.

Hong Kong leader says extradition bill is dead, but critics unconvinced

Reuters – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the extradition bill that sparked the Chinese-ruled city’s biggest crisis in decades is dead and that government work on the legislation had been a “total failure”, but critics accused her of playing with words.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Trump ‘dossier’ author grilled by Justice Department watchdogs: sources

Reuters – Federal lawyers probing the origins of the investigation of ties between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign have interviewed the author of a “dossier” that alleged misconduct between Trump and Moscow, prompting the lawyers to extend their inquiry.

U.S. appeals court to take up constitutionality of Obamacare

Reuters – The future of Obamacare could be at stake on Tuesday when a coalition of Democratic-led states and House of Representatives urge a federal appeals court to overturn a Texas judge’s ruling that the U.S. healthcare reform law is unconstitutional.

Republicans have repeatedly tried to repeal Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), since its 2010 passage, and while the Justice Department would normally defend a federal law, the Trump administration has declined to defend its constitutionality against a challenge by 18 Republican-led states.

U.S. appeals court says Trump cannot block Twitter followers

Reuters – A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 2018 lower court ruling that said President Donald Trump could not block people from following him on Twitter.

The court found that the First Amendment does not permit Trump “to exclude persons from an otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which” he disagreed. The White House, Justice Department and Twitter did not immediately comment. Trump last year blocked some people who had sued to gain access.

Pelosi: Trump Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta must resign over plea deal for Jeffrey Epstein

USA Today – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign over a past plea deal he cut as a U.S. attorney that gave a light sentence to multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein for engaging in sex acts with minors, and she said President Donald Trump knew about the plea agreement when he appointed Acosta to his Cabinet.

In an 11 p.m. tweet on Monday, Pelosi said Acosta “must step down” because “he engaged in an unconscionable agreement” with Epstein, which was “kept secret from courageous, young victims preventing them from seeking justice. This was known by @POTUS when he appointed him to the cabinet. #AcostaResign.”

Epstein, 66, who is known for his ties to powerful figures including Trump and former President Bill Clinton, was arrested Saturday on charges of sex-trafficking girls as young as 14. He pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan federal court on Monday. The indictment against him alleges he “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes” in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida.

Dem, Ex-Marine Amy McGrath to Challenge McConnell

Newsmax – A former House candidate is running to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has represented Kentucky since 1985.

Marines arrested for smuggling illegals

NY Post – Two Marines were busted last week in California for allegedly smuggling a trio of illegal immigrants near the US-Mexico border.

Marines Bryon Darnell Law II and David Javier Salazar-Quintero were caught about 10 a.m. last Wednesday by a US Border Patrol agent while driving three illegal immigrants on Interstate 8 in Jacumba Hot Springs — seven miles north of the border, according to court documents filed last Friday in the US District Court for the Southern District of California.

The three passengers admitted to authorities that they were Mexican citizens in the country illegally — and had been picked up from the side of the road by a black car driven by Law.

Two of the three immigrants said they planned to fork over $8,000 to get into the US. They expected to settle in Los Angeles and New Jersey, court documents say.

Law and Salazar-Quintero, who are stationed at Camp Pendleton in California, said they also picked up another illegal immigrant near the same place about 10:30 p.m. last Tuesday. They drove the man to a McDonald’s parking lot in Del Mar, where he was picked up by somebody else.

After being caught, the Marines blamed each other for initiating the smuggling.

U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin Officially Introduce Directed Energy Weapons Into Warfare

Activist Post – Nearly 4 years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Lasers and Electronic Warfare To Be Used in New World of Drones and Anti-Drones,” wherein I detailed the trend toward using directed energy weapons in warfare. Unfortunately, it appears that much of the speculation at that time about whether or not this was merely the military-industrial complex looking to fund more boondoggle projects that would never see the light of day actually has become reality.

Fox News reports:

If swarms of enemy small attack boats armed with guns and explosives approached a Navy ship, alongside missile-armed drones and helicopters closing into strike range, ship commanders would instantly begin weighing defensive options – to include interceptor missiles, electronic warfare, deck-mounted guns or area weapons such as Close-in-Weapons System.

Now, attacks such as these will also be countered with laser weapons being added to the equation, bringing new dimensions to maritime warfare on the open sea.

By 2021, U.S. Navy destroyers will be armed with new ship-fired lasers able to sense and incinerate enemy drones, low-flying aircraft and small boat attacks — all while firing at the speed of light.

The system is called HELIOS (High-Energy Laser and Integrated Optical-Dazzler with Surveillance,) which appears to be a similar system to that of another one that I covered in that previous article from German company, Rheinmetall Defense Electronics, simply called HEL (High-Energy Laser), which they referred to as “HEL on wheels.”

Lawmakers Argue Constitution Gives Gov’t Right To Steal Your Car if You’re Caught Speeding

Free Thought Project – Lawmakers are arguing in court that the government should be able to take a citizen’s property for minor traffic offenses like speeding.

(ZH) Despite losing in the United States Supreme Court, the state of Indiana is still arguing that there are virtually no eighth amendment limits on what it can seize using civil asset forfeiture, according to Reason.

In fact, Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher argued in Indiana Supreme Court last week that it would be constitutional to seize any and every car that exceeded the speed limit. It was an argument that drew laughter from the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Fisher said:

“This is the position that we already staked out in the Supreme Court when I was asked by Justice Breyer whether a Bugatti can be forfeited for going over five miles over the speed limit. Historically the answer to that question is yes, and we’re sticking with that position here.”

The issue has been brought to light as a result of the Indiana Supreme Court reconsidering a case where a 2015 seizure of Tyson Timbs’ $42,000 Land Rover, after he was convicted of a drug felony, was argued to have violated his eighth amendment protections against excessive fines and fees.

Lawyers for the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm, argued that the seizure of Timbs’ car, which was not purchased with drug proceeds and was worth four times the maximum fine for his crime, was a disproportional punishment.

The Institute for Justice had to petition the US Supreme Court to review the case after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled against Timbs. The state argued that the excessive fines clause did not apply to the practice of civil asset forfeiture which operates under the legal fiction that it is an action against the property itself, not the owner.

Both sides of the aisle in the U.S. Supreme Court have expressed skepticism about civil asset forfeiture in past rulings and they were not impressed by Fisher’s argument. A judge even forced counsel for the state of Indiana to admit it would be constitutional to then seize any car going over the speed limit.

Ross Perot, billionaire and ex-presidential candidate, dies at 89

BBC – US billionaire Ross Perot, who twice ran for president as an independent, has died aged 89, his family says.

Described as idiosyncratic and feisty, he pioneered the computer data industry by founding his own company in 1962.

But he was best known for running in the 1992 campaign, advocating balanced budgets and calling for an end to the outsourcing of jobs abroad.

Democrat Bill Clinton won the three-way race, in which Mr Perot took almost 19% of the vote.

Incumbent George HW Bush was defeated.

Economy & Business

Indian tariffs on US goods ‘no longer acceptable!’ – Trump

RT – US President Donald Trump once again slammed India’s retaliatory tariffs against American goods on Tuesday. The two countries have been engulfed in a trade dispute, hitting each other with tit-for-tat tariffs.

“India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

India has long had a field day putting Tariffs on American products. No longer acceptable!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2019

His statement comes after India introduced higher tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds, apples and walnuts, in response to Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi. The tariffs are aimed at allowing India to receive around $217 million in additional revenue from US imports.

The standoff between the United States and India began last March, when Trump imposed a 25 percent import duty on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum products. Being a major exporter of those items to the American market, India was hit hard by the move, losing around $240 million.

Energy & Environment

We May Soon Be Able to Harness the Heat in Subway Tunnels to Cool Our Homes Instead

Good News Network – If you have ever ridden an underground subway system in the summer, then you’re probably familiar with the crippling heat and humidity that can come with it.

Thankfully, researchers now believe that we may be able to use the varying temperatures of transit systems to air condition and warm our homes instead.

The researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) have precisely quantified convection heat transfer in rail tunnels. Using the new model, they estimated how much energy the city of Lausanne could save by fitting the future M3 metro line with a geothermal heat-recovery system, in what would be a world first.

Heat transfer happens in various ways in rail tunnels. For instance, when trains brake or accelerate, they produce heat that warms the surrounding air. That hot air mixes with other air in the tunnel and with heat radiating from the ground.

Until now, engineers have been unable to accurately calculate the amount of heat that tunnel air contains. Researchers at EPFL’s Soil Mechanics Laboratory (LMS) have overcome that problem by precisely estimating the convection heat transfer coefficient. Their findings have been published in Applied Thermal Engineering.

This breakthrough paves the way for innovative applications involving so-called energy tunnels that can supply energy to built environments. The team also tested its model on Lausanne’s future M3 metro line which, once complete, will carry passengers between the city’s train station and the Blécherette district to the north.

“Our research shows that fitting the heat-recovery system along 50 to 60% of the planned route – or 60,000 square meters of tunnel surface area – would cover the heating needs of about 1,500 apartments,” explains Margaux Peltier, a scientific assistant at the LMS whose Master’s research forms the basis of the article.

Nestlé Launches New ‘World-First’ Biodegradable Paper Wrappers for Mass Production

Good News Network – In what is being called a “world-first”, Nestlé will begin wrapping their Yes! snack bar range in a new kind of recyclable paper that can biodegrade in six months.

Researchers working at the company’s English confectionery R&D center in York have found a way to use a recyclable paper wrapper in a high-speed “flow wrap cold seal” packaging line, which – thus far – has been a process that has only been suitable for plastic films and laminates.

The Yes! range of fruit- and nut-based bars, which will become the first brand to convert to the new recyclable paper wrapper, will be rolled out this month.

Additionally, the Swiss company says that they have not patented the technology as a means of encouraging other companies to adopt the packaging method starting from April of next year, according to the Financial Times.

“We’ve turned our attention to the wrapper so that the packaging is sustainable and easy to recycle. It’s an important step as we work to make all of our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025,” said Stefano Agostini, CEO for Nestlé in the UK and Ireland.

Science & Technology

NSA Isn’t Always Following Its Own Cybersecurity Policies, Watchdog Says

Nextgov – The National Security Agency is failing to live up to government standards for cybersecurity, leaving the spy agency potentially vulnerable to digital attacks, according to an internal watchdog.

The NSA Inspector General on Monday revealed the organization, which collects and analyzes some of the government’s of the most sensitive intelligence, doesn’t always follow its own rules for keeping that information secure. Auditors also found the agency held onto some of that data for longer than the law permits and failed to implement protections against insider threats.

The report, which summarizes dozens of IG audits and investigations conducted between October 2018 and March 2019, offers a rare glimpse inside an agency whose inner workings are usually sealed off from the public.

Under the Federal Information Security Management Act, agency inspectors general annually grade organizations on how closely they follow best practices for eight categories of IT security. Scores can range from Level 1 to Level 5, with higher marks indicating better security.

Last year, auditors found the NSA had “room for improvement in all eight IT security areas.” Though auditors didn’t outline any specific security gaps, the report showed many of the agency’s cybersecurity procedures are inconsistent at best.

Auditors gave the NSA a Level 2 rating in five categories—risk management, configuration management, data protection and privacy, continuous monitoring and incident response—meaning officials had clearly defined policies but failed to consistently implement them. The agency received a Level 3 rating in two categories—identity and access management, and security training—which means policies are consistently implemented but officials aren’t measuring how effective they are.

The IG gave the agency’s contingency management practices a Level 1 rating, meaning there’s no official plan for the NSA to follow if it falls victim to a cyberattack.

The audit revealed that despite its data-driven mission, NSA struggles with many of the same cybersecurity challenges that plague less clandestine federal agencies.

Gardening, Farming & Homesteading

Now Big Ag is trying to own the REST of your food: Syngenta claims they invented non-GMO tomatoes

NaturalNews – Have you ever thought about where tomatoes come from? A quick internet search might tell you that they’ve been around since the time of the Aztecs, who ate them in ancient Mesoamerica as far back as 700 A.D. But that’s not what Swiss agrochemical giant company Syngenta would like people to believe. In fact, they’ve taken the bold and baffling step of trying to get a patent on the common tomato.

As hard as it may be to believe, the company’s EP1515600 patent, which they submitted to the European Patent Office, claimed that tomatoes, along with their plants and seeds, were somehow created by them – never mind the fact that they’ve been grown in Europe since the 1500s.

You might think that their biotechnology interests would mean the patent was for GMO tomatoes, but that simply isn’t the case. The patent really had the audacity to claim that non-GMO tomatoes that come from normal plant breeding were their own creation. They said the tomatoes came from crossing tomato plants from Chile and Peru and that they contained higher amounts of vitamins than other tomatoes.

Public outcry led to the patent’s withdrawal

Of course, once the public got wind of this, they were called out on their ridiculous attempt. More than 30 international organizations took a firm stance against Syngenta monopolizing the common tomato. The company ultimately withdrew the patent, which was then revoked by the European Patent Office.

Although their efforts were unsuccessful on this occasion, the whole mess does shed light on a very unsavory practice. The truth is that patents on non-GMO foods like lettuce, pepper, and broccoli have inexplicably been granted to Big Ag firms in the past. The European Patent Office has even made it easier for these patents to be filed despite decisions by its member states to prohibit them. When an international appeal was published asking the body’s president to stop such patent decisions, the EPO responded that such patents were certainly not expressly permitted. However, they can no longer be rejected outright.


Genetically engineered salmon on your plate without your knowledge

Mercola – AquaBounty, the company that created so-called “frankenfish,” plans to begin harvesting GE salmon in late 2020.

When it arrives in supermarkets, it will be labeled “bioengineered,” not genetically engineered.

The disclosure regulation for “bioengineered” foods may start to be implemented as early as 2019 for some products, but it doesn’t become mandatory until January 1, 2022.

AquaBounty can release its GE salmon initially without even disclosing that it’s bioengineered — a term that will be confusing for many people who are looking instead for the more familiar GMO or GE label.

The bioengineered disclosure can be electronic or digital in nature, such as in the form of a quick response, or QR, code that must be scanned with a cellphone to get the information.

Restaurants, cafeterias and even salad bars that sell food within a retail establishment are exempt from the labeling standard and don’t have to disclose to consumers if they’re serving GE salmon

Healthy teeth and gums linked to lower liver cancer risk

Natural Health News – Poor oral health is associated with a 75% increased risk liver cancer, new research has found.

Unhealthy teeth and gums have been linked to the risk of several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the past.  But, according to Dr Haydée WT Jordão, from the Centre of Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast and lead author of the new study, “there is inconsistent evidence on the association between poor oral health and specific types of gastrointestinal cancers, which is what our research aimed to examine.”

To find out more, the researchers analysed data from 469,000 people in the UK, to see if there was indeed a connection between oral health conditions and the risk of a number of gastrointestinal cancers, including liver, colon, rectum and pancreatic cancer.

While no significant associations were observed on the risk of the majority gastrointestinal cancers and poor oral health, a substantial link was found for hepatobiliary cancer, the most common form of liver cancer.

Over the six years of follow up 4,069 developed gastrointestinal cancer. In 13% of these cases patients reported poor oral health. Those with poor oral health were more likely to be younger, female, living in deprived socioeconomic areas and consuming less than two portions of fruit and vegetables per day, according to the study published in the United European Gastroenterology Journal.

Study: Psychiatric Diagnoses Are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ In Treating Mental Health

Study Finds – No two people are exactly alike. Therefore, attempting to classify each unique individual’s mental health issues into neat categories just doesn’t work. That’s the claim coming out of the United Kingdom that is sure to ruffle some psychologists’ feathers.

More people are being diagnosed with mental illnesses than ever before. Multiple factors can be attributed to this rise; many people blame the popularity of social media and increased screen time, but it is also worth considering that in today’s day and age more people may be willing to admit they are having mental health issues in the first place. Whatever the reason, it is generally believed that a psychiatric diagnosis is the first step to recovery.

That’s why a new study conducted at the University of Liverpool has raised eyebrows by concluding that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless,” and worthless as tools to accurately identify and address mental distress at an individual level.

Researchers performed a detailed analysis on five of the most important chapters in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Heath Disorders (DSM). The DSM is considered the definitive guide for mental health professionals, and provides descriptions for all mental health problems and their symptoms. The five chapters analyzed were: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and trauma-related disorders.

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