Today’s News: July 27, 2020

World News

J.K. Rowling Says Society Risks ‘Medical Scandal’ Over ‘Uncontrolled Experiment’ of Transgenderism

Sputnik – JK Rowling has fast become a loathed figure for many among the transgender movement, who have come to see her as symbolising the effort to stymie attempts to change the way that Western culture understands gender.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has proclaimed that she thinks there will be a “medical scandal” to do with UK National Health Service (NHS) gender identity clinics in her latest Tweet on issues surrounding transgenderism.

Referencing a number of peer-reviewed academic journal articles on the issue, Rowling Tweeted on Saturday July 25 that, “it feels as though we’re on the brink of a medical scandal,” then going on to quote one of the studies which says that, “Psychiatry sits on this knife-edge: running the risk of being accused of transphobia or, alternatively, remaining silent throughout this uncontrolled experiment.”

Rowling then comments on her own experiences, saying that, “since speaking up about gender identity theory, I’ve received thousands of emails – more than I’ve ever had on a single subject. Many have come from professionals working in medicine, education and social work. All are concerned about the effects on vulnerable young people.”

“The bleak truth is that if and when the scandal does erupt, nobody currently cheering this movement on will be able to credibly claim ‘we couldn’t have known,’” she added.

​The globally famed author’s comments come hot on the heels of controversy earlier this month in which she was condemned for claiming that transgender hormone therapy was “a new kind of conversion therapy” for young gay people.

On Sunday July 5 she Tweeted, “Many, myself included, believe we are watching a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function. As I’ve said many times, transition may be the answer for some. For others, it won’t – witness the accounts of detransitioners.”

“Detransitioners” refers to those who undergo treatment to essentially undo their reassigned gender to return to that which they were born with.

Rowling has been attacked by defenders of the transgender movement, including well-known model and political activist, Munroe Bergdorf, herself a transgender woman, who Tweeted that: “JK Rowling is not a scientist. She is not a doctor. She is not an expert on gender. She is not a supporter of our community. She is a billionaire, cisgender, heterosexual, white woman who has decided that she knows what is best for us and our bodies. This is not her fight.”

Also this month, Rowling was one of 150 writers, academics and activists, including left-wing intellectual Noam Chomsky, who penned an open letter condemning the “cancel culture” phenomenon.

The letter decried the “vogue for public shaming and ostracism” that many see as a symptom of the march of a creeping uniform political correctness in western culture.

Part of the letter reads, “the free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted… As writers, we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk-taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.”

Italy’s Giglio Island sees zero residents with coronavirus: ‘Nobody is sick’

The island’s only physician is still worried about an outbreak

Fox – Questions abound as a tiny Italian island has been mostly spared from the devastation of COVID-19.

Were people on Giglio Island perhaps infected but didn’t show symptoms? Was it something genetic? Something else, or just plain luck?

None of Giglio’s roughly 800 close-knit islanders said they developed COVID-19 symptoms, even though the conditions seemed favorable for the disease to spread like wildfire, The Associated Press reported.

The Gigliesi, as the residents are known, have socialized in the steep alleys near the port or on the granite steps serving as narrow streets in the hilltop Castle neighborhood, with densely packed homes built against the remnants of a fortress erected centuries ago to protect against pirates.

Dr. Armando Schiaffino, the island’s sole physician for around 40 years, shared worry about a potential local outbreak.

“Every time an ordinary childhood illness, like scarlet fever, measles or chicken pox strikes, within a very few days practically all get” infected on Giglio, he said in an interview in his office near the port.

Paola Muti, a breast cancer researcher at the University of Milan, where she’s been an epidemiology professor, decided to try to find out why it wasn’t happening this time.

“Dr. Schiaffino came to me and told me, ‘Hey, look, Paola, this is incredible. In this full pandemic, with all the cases that came to the island, nobody is sick.’ So I said to myself: ‘Right, here we can do a study, no? I am here,’” Muti said.

By then, Muti was trapped on the island by Italy’s strict lockdown rules. What was especially puzzling to her was that many of the islanders had had close contact with visitors.

Giglio’s first known COVID-19 case was a man in his 60s who arrived on Feb. 18 — a couple of days before Italy’s first “native case” would be diagnosed in the north. The man came to Giglio for a relative’s funeral, and had been “coughing all the way” through the service, Muti said.

The virus is known to spread through droplets when someone coughs, sneezes or talks. The man headed back to the mainland on the ferry the same day and died three weeks later in a hospital.

On March 5, four days before the national lockdown was declared, three more visitors came from the mainland and would test positive on the island. One of them was a German man from northern Italy, the initial epicenter of Europe’s outbreak. He socialized for several days with longtime friends in Giglio, including in public eateries. After a week, due to a bad cough, he was tested on the island and the result was positive. He self-isolated in a house on Giglio.

There were other known cases, including an islander who had lived in Australia for two years before slipping back onto Giglio in mid-March during lockdown to see his parents. Three days after arriving on Giglio, he developed a mild fever and tested positive, Muti said. He self-isolated at his parents’ home.

No other case has surfaced on Giglio, including since lockdown was lifted in early June, and tourists from throughout Italy have been arriving.

U.S. closes consulate in Chengdu, China, after Houston order

Politico – The U.S. closed its consulate in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Monday, a victim of the rising tensions between the global powers.

China ordered the mission closed late last week in retaliation for a U.S. order to shut down the Chinese Consulate in Houston earlier the same week.

The tit-for-tat closings marked a significant escalation in the multiple disputes between the two countries over a range of issues, including trade, technology, security and human rights.

A statement from the State Department said that the Chengdu consulate suspended operations at 10 a.m.

“The consulate has stood at the center of our relations with the people in Western China, including Tibet, for 35 years,” the statement said. “We are disappointed by the Chinese Communist Party’s decision and will strive to continue our outreach to the people in this important region through our other posts in China.”

The U.S. has four other consulates in China and an embassy in Beijing.

The American flag was taken down at the Chengdu mission at 6:18 a.m., China’s state broadcaster CCTV said on its social media account.

UK launches obesity plan over link with Covid-19

BBC – “Buy one get one free” deals on unhealthy food will be banned as part of the government’s bid to tackle obesity in England.

The plan also includes restrictions on where foods high in fat and sugar can be promoted in-store, and new rules for displaying calories on menus.

A ban on junk food adverts before 21:00 has been confirmed – for the whole UK.

Boris Johnson said the plans would help “reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus”.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Trump’s National Security Advisor tests positive for Covid-19, White House says

RT – Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the White House, which added that there’s “no risk of exposure” to the president.

In a statement, the White House confirmed the test results, adding that O’Brien had “mild symptoms.” The head of the National Security Council has been self-isolating and working “from a secure location off-site.”

“There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president. The work of the National Security Council continues uninterrupted,” the statement concluded.

O’Brien came down with the virus late last week after a family gathering, according to a Bloomberg source.

The test result makes O’Brien the closest official to Trump yet who has contracted Covid-19, both in terms of seniority and physical distance, as his White House office is near the Oval office.

Recently, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is dating the president’s son Donald Jr, came down with the coronavirus after attending multiple campaign events and just before Trump’s Fourth of July speech at Mount Rushmore. The president’s economic adviser Tomas Philipson said in late June that he’d tested positive for Covid-19, while a month earlier Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller – who is married to senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller – tested positive for the disease.

Lindsey Graham teases evidence FBI ‘lied their ass off’ to Congress

WND – Sen. Lindsey Graham on Sunday teased the release of evidence showing that the FBI “lied their ass off” to Congress regarding the reliability of the Steele dossier, which the bureau used as part of its investigation of the Trump campaign.

“I will tell you next week what I found,” the South Carolina Republican said in an interview on “Fox Sunday Futures” with Maria Bartiromo.

“Here is what I think I’m going to be able to show to the public. Not only did the FBI lie to the court about the reliability about the Steele dossier, they also lied to the Congress. That’s a separate crime.”

Today, we lost America.  We are pulling out of the biggest Back the Blue rally in America.

Law Enforement Today – This editorial is brought to you by Kyle S. Reyes, the National Spokesman for Law Enforcement Today.

I’m disgusted.  I’m embarrassed.  My heart is broken for the America that we’ve lost.

This morning, I woke up at 3am.  I proudly announced on Fox and Friends First that Law Enforcement Today was proudly joining a number of other groups in taking part in the largest Back the Blue event in America.

Acclaimed keynote speaker Paul Butler and I were going to be the joint Masters of Ceremonies.  We had rock and roll legend Ted Nugent flying in for the National Anthem – accompanied by Congressman Clay Higgins, the keynote speaker.

The first wave in the attack came from Facebook.  After 6300 people RSVP’d to the event, the page was taken down by the social media giant. 

It didn’t come as a surprise.  I’m the same guy that just got a lifetime ban from LinkedIn last month for sharing an article about a guy who tried to kill two cops.  We are sort of use to it.

But what happened today?  Today it became evident just how legitimate the war on law enforcement is. 

Congressman Clay Higgins and Ted Nugent are not allowed to attend the event… and that apparently comes directly from Governor Cuomo’s office.

Within hours of announcing that they’d be at the rally, Democrats throughout New York demanded the event be shut down.  It was the typical liberal playbook – everyone that doesn’t tow the line is a racist, sexist, xenophobe, Islamaphobe, etc.

That didn’t work.  Because the last we checked, it’s America.  We have yet to see anyone shut down Al Sharpton from speaking at an event, or the self-proclaimed Marxists affiliated with Black Lives Matter.

So they tried a new approach.  The state police detail ensuring the security of Congressman Higgins and Ted Nugent were told they weren’t allowed to offer protection.

Their careers were threatened.  Then their families were threatened.

So we came up with a new plan.  We had dozens of Blue Knights who were going to provide safe passage.

And that’s when the governor apparently pulled the ultimate “trump” card.  He instructed the health department to ensure that upon landing in the state, Congressman Higgins and Ted Nugent would either be turned around and sent back… or forced into a mandatory 14 day quarantine.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a politician facing ethical issues, took to social media on Thursday to call Nugent a racist.  She quickly came under attack on social media.

On Friday night, in a desperate attempt to save face, she blamed the pandemic.

“After being reminded of New York State’s quarantine orders and Nassau County’s protest protocols, Ted Nugent will no longer be attending tomorrow’s march in Eisenhower Park.  Congressman Clay Higgins is also being advised of New York State’s quarantine Executive Order.”

She went on to suggest it was about safety – despite precautions taken by event organizers to ensure proper social distancing.

“Nassau county will continue to protect our residents’ right to safe, peaceful protest as is guaranteed under the First Amendment of our Constitution.  However, we won’t tolerate blatant violations of the Governor’s quarantine order for travelers from high-risk states.”

Funny – we have yet to see any enforcement of said orders at riots or Black Lives Matter protests.

In executing their move, the department essentially accomplished their ultimate goal of pitting pro-law groups against each other… when we should be fighting against those who seek to divide us.

Law Enforcement Today got in this fight and behind this rally – along with groups such as Brothers Before Others and Advocacy for LEOs – to show our love, support and appreciate for police officers.  We will not be castrated by politicians looking to flex their muscles by destroying the heart and soul of law enforcement and supporters.

Accordingly, our organization – and many others – are stepping back from the event and will instead be doing our own live stream Saturday. 

To our brothers and sisters who still choose to attend the event (safely and social-distanced), we support you.  We love you.  We cherish you.  And this is how we honor you… by fighting for you.

Some police in Arkansas refuse to enforce coronavirus mask orders because they lack the manpower

‘It should not be dictated by the nanny state,’ one chief said

Fox – Amid the coronavirus pandemic in America, multiple police chiefs and sheriffs in Arkansas and elsewhere say they won’t enforce statewide mask requirements, even within their departments.

Some say they don’t have the manpower to respond to every mask complaint, treating violations of the requirement as they would oft-ignored minor offenses such as jaywalking.

Others, including Lang Holland, the chief of police in tiny Marshall, Arkansas, reject the legal validity of requirements. Holland told The Associated Press he thought the threat of the coronavirus has been overstated and would wear a face mask only if he’s inside a business that requires it. He doesn’t make his officers wear masks either.

So, the day after Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed an order requiring masks to be worn in public throughout Arkansas, Holland made it clear his department wasn’t going to enforce the mandate in the Ozarks town of about 1,300, calling it an unconstitutional overreach.

“All I’m saying is if you want to wear a mask, you have the freedom to choose that,” said Holland, who said he supported President Trump. “It should not be dictated by the nanny state.”

More than half the states have issued orders to wear masks in most public settings, with virus cases and hospitalizations on the rise. Polling shows overwhelming public support for such requirements, and even Trump, who had long been dismissive of wearing masks, last week said it was patriotic to wear one.

Poll: Majority of Voters Support Mask Mandate ‘Punishable by Fine or Jail Time’

Breitbart – A majority of voters support a mask mandate in their respective states punishable by fine or jail time, a Morning Consult/Politico poll released this week showed.

“Based on what you know about the COVID-19 pandemic (coronavirus), would you support or oppose your state instituting a face mask mandate in public spaces, where not wearing a mask could be punishable by fine or jail time?” the survey asked.

The vast majority of voters, 72 percent, indicated they either “strongly” or “somewhat” support the idea. Of those, 53 percent said they would “strongly” support the idea, and 19 percent said they would “somewhat” support it. Thirteen percent said they would “strongly” oppose, eight percent said they would “somewhat” oppose, and six percent said they did not know.

As a group, baby boomers support a mask mandate with penalities the most (78 support), followed by GenXers (73 percent), Millennials (68 percent), and GenZers (63 percent).

The survey also found that Democrats are nearly twice as likely as GOP voters to ‘strongly support” a mask mandate in their state, 71 percent to Republicans’ 36 percent.

The survey was conducted among 1,991 registered voters July 17-19. The margin of error is +/- 2 percent.

The survey comes as state and local leaders nationwide implement mask mandates. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser instituted a mask mandate on Wednesday, requiring those three-years-old and up to wear a face covering in most indoor and outdoor settings.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) also announced a statewide mask mandate, which goes into effect Saturday.

Antifa rioters call themselves journalists to avoid federal crackdown

RT – Federal officers in Portland are forbidden by court order from targeting journalists filming the riots. For ‘Antifa’ rioters, the order opened up an opportunity: anyone with a camera can call themselves a “journalist.”

Riots have raged in downtown Portland for 60 straight nights, and the threat of arrest by federal agents hasn’t stopped crowds of rioters from laying siege to the city’s Justice Center night after night. With Mayor Ted Wheeler reluctant to order a police crackdown on the violence, federal officers have filled the gap. Unlike their local counterparts, these officers have had no qualms about making arrests, swinging batons, and firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the rioters.

However, a federal judge last week issued a temporary restraining order on the agents, ruling that they may not arrest, disperse or otherwise use force against reporters and legal observers covering the protests.

The order, it seems, has given the rioters an opportunity. Elijah Schaffer, a right-wing journalist reporting from Portland, described how rioters will identify themselves as “press,” using the tag as cover to insult and taunt officers. Anyone with a “$40 handicam mounted on a gas station tripod,” can call themselves a journalist, he said.

Report: 59 Shot, 3 Killed, over Weekend in Mayor Lightfoot’s Chicago

Beritbart – Late Sunday night NBC 5 reported at least 49 people had been shot, two fatally. By Monday morning the Chicago Sun-Times reported nearly 60 shot with three fatalities.

NBC 5 noted that weekend shootings began Friday with a non-fatal incident just after 5 pm, when two individuals were shot while standing in a gas station parking lot “in the 800 block of West 59th Street.”

Less than 30 minutes later a 19-year-old was shot and left in serious condition while sitting on a porch on West Cullerton. The violence continued from there.

The Sun-Times reports the weekend’s last shooting–a fatal one–occurred just before 1:30 a.m. Monday morning.

On Tuesday, Mayor Lightfoot acknowledged President Trump would be sending in federal agents to help curtail the gun violence that has surged in Chicago throughout this year. But the Chicago Tribune reported Lightfoot made clear she will be ready to use the courts to stop the use of federal agents if she believes the Trump administration overreaches.

Lightfoot said, “I don’t put anything past this administration, which is why we will continue to be diligent and why we will continue to be ready. If we need to stop them and use the courts to do so, we are ready to do that.”

When Trump spoke out against the violence ravaging Democrat-controlled cities in June, Lightfoot reacted by stating she does not “need leadership lessons” from the president.

On July 16, 2020, Breitbart News reported Lightfoot responded to Trump’s idea of the federal government stepping in by calling for more gun control. Two of the central controls she demanded were universal background checks and an “assault weapons” ban. She did not mention the Chicago-area already has an “assault weapons” ban, thanks to a Cook County prohibition.

Moreover, Chicago and the entire state of Illinois already have a licensing process for would-be gun owners that includes a background check.

Trump cancels Florida GOP convention, citing coronavirus surge

CS Monitor – President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he has canceled the bulk of the Republican National Convention scheduled for Florida next month, citing a “flare-up” of the coronavirus.

Mr. Trump’s formal renomination will still go forward in North Carolina, where a small subset of GOP delegates will still gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, for just four hours on Aug. 24. Florida was to have hosted four nights of programming and parties that Mr. Trump had hoped would be a “four-night infomercial” for his reelection.

“It’s a different world, and it will be for a little while,” Mr. Trump said, explaining his decision. “To have a big convention is not the right time,” Mr. Trump added.

Mr. Trump moved the ceremonial portions of the GOP convention to Florida last month amid a dispute with North Carolina’s Democratic leaders over holding an event indoors with maskless supporters. But those plans were steadily scaled back as virus cases spiked in Florida and much of the country over the last month.

Mr. Trump said he would deliver an acceptance speech in an alternate form, potentially online.

Mr. Trump said thousands of his supporters and delegates wanted to attend the events in Florida, but “I just felt it was wrong” to attract them to a virus hotspot. Some of them would have faced quarantine requirements when they returned to their home states from the convention.

Economy & Business

McConnell prepares to unveil GOP’s $1T coronavirus stimulus framework

Slew of provisions put in place earlier this year for workers, businesses hurt by virus-induced crisis are set to expire

Fox – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to release a $1 trillion coronavirus relief proposal on Monday after days of disagreements between the White House and GOP lawmakers, kickstarting negotiations with Democrats over the next round of aid for American workers and businesses.

The framework is expected to extend — but reduce substantially — just-expired expanded unemployment benefits, send a fresh round of $1,200 stimulus check to American adults earning less than $75,000 in August and funnel tens of billions of dollars in aid to schools and universities.

McConnell’s anticipated release of the proposal comes after top Trump administration officials, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, paid two visits to the Capitol to work on bill text with staff.

The appearances at the Capitol by Mnuchin and Meadows were part of an effort to convey to skeptical Republicans the legislation was supported by Trump — not just McConnell.

“Half of the Republicans are going to vote no,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox News over the weekend. “That’s just a fact.”

Walmart, Home Depot Won’t Enforce Face Diaper Mandates Following Violent Confrontations

Daily Wire – Nearly every day there’s another story about a fight breaking out over the wearing of masks.

Just a couple days ago, a Starbucks barista in California was allegedly punched in the face for asking the customer to put a mask on. And a couple weeks ago, a New York man allegedly assaulted a manager and bartender after being asked to put on a face mask to comply with their COVID-19 safety protocols.

The confrontations have turned deadly. A security guard at a Family Dollar store in Michigan was shot dead in May after he told a customer to wear a mask.

Now, a bunch of big stores are deciding the fight just isn’t worth it.

Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, CVS, and Walgreens, along with other nationwide retailers, say they’ll serve customers even if they violate mask mandates, according to CNN. The retailers simply want to avoid confrontations between angry customers and employees.

High-profile California church defies state order to shut down: ‘Christ, not Caesar, is head of the church’

The Blaze – Grace Community Church in Southern California, led by prominent evangelical pastor John MacArthur, will no longer comply with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions against in-person gatherings, MacArthur wrote in a statement Friday.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom renewed the state’s lockdown earlier this month, prohibiting in-person worship gatherings for counties that are on the state’s monitoring list for increased spread of the virus.

MacArthur wrote that the indefinite order banning church worship is an act of overreach by the state government and that the church has a biblical obligation not to comply.

“When officials restrict church attendance to a certain number, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the saints to gather as the church. When officials prohibit singing in worship services, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the people of God to obey the commands of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16,” MacArthur wrote. “When officials mandate distancing, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible to experience the close communion between believers that is commanded in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In all those spheres, we must submit to our Lord.”

MacArthur made it clear the church is taking a biblical stand against the restrictions, not a constitutional one, pointing out that the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion is based on God’s authority.

“The right we are appealing to was not created by the Constitution,” MacArthur wrote. “It is one of those unalienable rights granted solely by God, who ordained human government and establishes both the extent and the limitations of the state’s authority (Romans 13:1–7). Our argument therefore is purposely not grounded in the First Amendment; it is based on the same biblical principles that the Amendment itself is founded upon.”

Grace Community Church complied with the initial lockdown at the beginning of the U.S. epidemic, believing it to be in the best interest of the congregation at a time when the lethality of COVID-19 and its impact on health care systems were unknown. Now, with the benefit of more knowledge about the virus, MacArthur believes the government is going too far with indefinite restrictions.

“Major public events that were planned for 2021 are already being canceled, signaling that officials are preparing to keep restrictions in place into next year and beyond,” MacArthur wrote. “That forces churches to choose between the clear command of our Lord and the government officials. Therefore, following the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, we gladly choose to obey Him.”

Chick-fil-A restaurant offering free food for coin exchanges amid national shortage

The Blaze – A Virginia Chick-fil-A restaurant is offering free-food vouchers in exchange for coins.

Why coins?

The move comes amid the national coin shortage spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the U.S. Mint issued a statement requesting consumers to begin spending their coins.

According to USA Today, the Mint encouraged consumers to “start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk.”

“Until coin circulation patterns return to normal, it may be more difficult for retailers and small businesses to accept cash payments,” the Mint said in a statement on the matter. “For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment and cash transactions rely on coins to make change.”

The Mint said in its Thursday statement that it had been operating at “full production capacity since mid-June, minting almost 1.6 billion coins during the month of June.”

So what’s the deal with the free food?

Chick-fil-A in Lynchburg, Virginia, said it will hand out free food vouchers to those who bring in $10 in coins to exchange for $10 in paper cash.

The company plans to host the promotion on Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m and again between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The Lynchburg location announced the news via Facebook on Sunday.

The restaurant shared a photo of the promotion on its Facebook page, writing, “We need coins and you can help! We need you to bring ROLLED coins to our Wards Road location on Wednesday, July 29th between the hours of 9-11am and 2-4pm to exchange for the same value in paper bills.”

“We will thank you with a Chick-fil-A card towards a future purchase,” the post added. “Any $10 combination of ROLLED coin denominations accepted. Limited time offer until need is met. Maximum 10 coupons cards per guest. Only at Chick-fil-A Wards Road.”

Science & Technology

NASA-Designed Perfume Gives You The Smell Of Outer Space – Without Leaving Orbit

Good News Network – “…A rather pleasant metallic sensation… [like] … sweet-smelling welding fumes, burning metal, a distinct odor of ozone, an acrid smell, walnuts and brake pads, gunpowder, fruit, rum, and even burnt almond cookie.”

Decades ago, NASA asked specialists to develop the “smell of space” in order to help prepare astronauts for the experience of outer space.

Now, a perfume, Eau de Space, has attracted eager buyers where it’s trial orbit on Kickstarter has raised $516,000 in preorders.

“The history of the ‘smell of space’ has been clouded behind various accounts of its development. Ever since the first space walk, astronauts were shocked by the lingering odor when returning back into the spacecraft,” according to the campaign on Kickstarter.

NASA Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield said, “The only time you can smell space is when you come back in from a space walk. As you open the hatch, there is a distinctive smell.”

Some describe it as rum, fruit, seared steak, or a BBQ. The first space tourists also noted a pungent aroma once the hatch opened, “like burnt cookies”.

Gene Cernan, the Apollo 17 Astronaut remarked about another scent he experienced: “The moon smells like spent gunpowder.”

Gardening, Farming & Homesteading

US citizens across the country are receiving mysterious packets of seeds from unknown Chinese mailers: report

The Blaze – Residents across several U.S. states have reportedly been receiving seeds of unknown origin from unidentified Chinese senders.

States impacted by the mysterious seeds include Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Virginia, Washington, Utah, and more.

Fox News and other outlets report that many of the packages appear to contain jewelry — but there is no jewelry inside the parcel.

On Friday, the Virginia Department of Agriculture tweeted, “Public Asked To Report Receipt of any Unsolicited Packages of Seeds.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture added, “The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.”

Further, the department noted, “The seeds are sent in packages usually stating that the contents are jewelry. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock.”

The Washington State Department of Agriculture issued a similar warning, writing, “We have received reports of people receiving seeds from China that they did not order. If you receive them – don’t plant them.”

The department added, “Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.”

Health

Trump Claims Victory After Signing Executive Orders to Lower Drug Prices

The New American – The Trump Administration on Friday announced four executive orders intended to lower drug prices for Americans, including measures like facilitating importation of drugs from foreign countries.

Joined at a news conference by federal health administrators and Florida leaders such as Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, and Florida House Speaker José Oliva, the president accused previous administrations of doing “nothing” to stop rising drug prices.

“Under the last administration alone, drug prices rose a staggering 55 percent,” President Trump said. “Thanks to my administration’s aggressive actions since taking office, we have successfully lowered drug prices for the first time in 51 years. But this reduction is still not close to what I want, what I expect. And I’m looking for help for our great seniors especially, in particular.”

According to the president, the four orders signed will “completely restructure the prescription drug market, in terms of pricing and everything else, to make these medications affordable and accessible for all Americans.”

The first order aims to deliver rebates from drug companies directly to patients for both insulin and Epipens to keep providers from hiking prices on low-income patients while pocketing the discounts themselves.

Said the president: “These providers should not be receiving discounts for themselves while charging their poorest patients massive, full prices. Under this order, the price of insulin for affected patients will come down to just pennies a day — pennies a day from numbers that you weren’t even able to think about. It’s a massive cost savings.”

The second order would make it legal for wholesalers and pharmacies to import drugs from Canada and other countries, where identical drugs have prices as much as 90 percent lower than their U.S. equivalents. This has often led to a phenomenon of Americans traveling abroad with the sole purpose of buying medication.

President Trump called the difference in cost “a difference like you wouldn’t believe.”

“We pay for all of the research and all of the development, and foreign countries pay absolutely nothing, and our consumer gets charged. This has been going on for decades…. But under my administration, we’re standing up to the lobbyists and special interests and fighting back against a rigged system.”

The third order would bypass “middlemen” like pharmacy benefit managers in order to directly give patients discounts—discounts the president said patients often never see from manufacturers.

How one hour of slow breathing changed my life

An introductory breathing class fixed my sleep and left me calmer than ever. It took me years to find out why

The Guardian – For the past few months, I’d been going through a rough patch. My job was stressing me out and my 130-year-old house was falling apart. I’d just recovered from pneumonia, which I’d also had the year before, and the year before that. I was spending most of my time at home wheezing, working and eating three meals a day out of the same bowl while hunched over week-old newspapers on the couch. I was in a rut– physically, mentally and otherwise. After a few months of living this way, I took my doctor’s advice and signed up for an introductory course in breathing to learn a technique called Sudarshan Kriya.

At 7pm, the bushy-browed woman locked the front door, sat in the middle of the group, inserted a cassette tape into a beat-up boom box, and pressed play. She told us to close our eyes. The voice instructed us to inhale slowly through our noses, then to exhale slowly. To focus on our breath. I kept breathing, but nothing happened. No calmness swept over me, no tension released from my tight muscles. Nothing. Ten, maybe 20 minutes passed. I started getting annoyed and a bit resentful that I’d chosen to spend my evening inhaling dusty air on the floor of an old Victorian house. I thought about getting up and leaving, but I didn’t want to be rude. Then something happened. I wasn’t conscious of any transformation taking place. I never felt myself relax or the swarm of nagging thoughts leave my head. But it was as if I’d been taken from one place and deposited somewhere else. It happened in an instant.

There was something wet on my head. I lifted my hand to wipe it off and noticed my hair was sopping. I ran my hand down my face, felt the sting of sweat in my eyes and tasted salt. I looked down at my torso and noticed sweat blotches on my sweater and jeans. Everyone had been covered in jackets and hoodies to keep warm. But I had somehow sweated through my clothes as if I’d just run a marathon.

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The instructor approached and asked if I was OK, if I’d been sick or had a fever. I told her I felt perfectly fine. The next day I felt even better. As advertised, there was a feeling of calm and quiet that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. I slept well. The little things in life didn’t bother me as much. The tension was gone from my shoulders and neck. This lasted a few days before the feeling faded out.

What exactly had happened? How did sitting cross- legged in a strange house and breathing for an hour trigger such a profound reaction?

I returned to the breathing class the following week: same experience, fewer waterworks. I didn’t mention any of it to family members or friends. But I worked to understand what had happened, and I spent the next several years trying to figure it out. Over that span of time, I fixed up my house, sorted myself out and got a lead that might answer some of my questions about breathing. I went to Greece to write a story on freediving, the ancient practice of swimming hundreds of feet below the water’s surface on a single breath of air.

“There are as many ways to breathe as there are foods to eat,” said one female instructor who had held her breath for more than 8 minutes and once dived below 300ft. “And each way we breathe will affect our bodies in different ways.” Surely someone had studied the effects of this conscious breathing on landlubbers? I found a library’s worth of material. The problem was, the sources were hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years old.

Through my years of travels and travails in respiratory research, there is one lesson, one equation, that I believe is at the root of so much health, happiness and longevity. I’m a bit embarrassed to say it has taken me a decade to figure this out and I realise how insignificant it may seem. But lest we forget, nature is simple but subtle. For me, the perfect breath is this: inhale for about 5.5 seconds, then exhale for 5.5 seconds. That’s 5.5 breaths a minute for a total of about 5.5 litres of air. You can practise this perfect breathing for a few minutes, or a few hours. When we breathe like this, breathing practitioners suggest that circulation in the brain and body will increase while the burden on the heart decreases. All the while the diaphragm – that umbrella-shaped muscle in our chests – will drop lower and rise higher, allowing more air to enter the lungs and assisting in pushing blood throughout the body. For this reason, the diaphragm is sometimes referred to as “the second heart”, because it not only beats to its own rhythm but also affects the rate and strength of the heartbeat.

Good News

After COVID Cancels All Flights, One Man Sailed Solo Across the Atlantic to Reach His 90-Year-old Father

Good News Network – Most of us know the adage, “You can’t go home again,” but it seems Juan Manuel Ballestero never got the memo.

As the true implications of the Covid-19 crisis grew increasingly dire, Ballestero wanted more than anything else to be reunited with his elderly parents in Argentina in time for his father’s upcoming 90th birthday.

The problem? Ballestero was in Portugal and all international flights had been cancelled.

With a daunting 5,600 miles and the Atlantic Ocean between him and his family, Ballestero was faced with a seemingly insurmountable dilemma. But, the 47-year-old mariner came up with a daring solution—he’d simply sail home.

Sensing time was of the essence, Ballestero feared the local port would soon begin restricting travel as well. The urgency of the situation left him with no window to second-guess his decision: Within 24 hours he decided to take the one-way ticket—and there was no going back.

He’d been right, too. By the time he was ready to embark, authorities on the tiny Portuguese island of Porto Santo warned him that if he left, he could not return.

“I didn’t want to stay like a coward on an island where there were no cases,” Ballestero told The New York Times. “I wanted to do everything possible to return home. The most important thing for me was to be with my family.”

A scant few days later, after provisioning his 29-foot sailboat with what he hoped would be enough rice, fruit, canned tuna, and wine to sustain him, Ballestero made ready to weigh anchor. Trusting that faith would get him where he needed to go—like a modern-day Odysseus—he set sail in mid-March, hoping to make landfall in his home port of Mar del Plata in 75 days.

Like that of Odysseus, Ballestero’s voyage wasn’t without hardships or danger. His food supply dwindled, and authorities at Cape Verde, the port where he’d hoped to restock, refused him entry. Once past the equator, he ran out of fuel and was left to rely purely on wind power. On day 38, he ran out of wine.

Then, the wind quit, leaving his sailboat sitting in the doldrums for 10 days. During that time, barnacles grew on the hull—which would create drag and slow him down. So he was forced to dive under the vessel and scrape them off, risking a shark attack.

With no one aboard to help should he run into trouble, the situation was potentially perilous, but Ballestero proved lucky. The wind eventually picked up again, allowing him to resume course.

As the journey dragged on, Ballestero’s faith was continually challenged, but he never truly panicked. “I wasn’t afraid, but I did have a lot of uncertainty. It was very strange to sail in the middle of a pandemic with humanity teetering around me,” he told The Times. “Faith keeps you standing in these situations.”

While Ballestero endured numerous adversities, the voyage also afforded him glimpses of Mother Nature’s grace as well. For most of the final leg of his crossing, a playful pod of dolphins provided welcome company, racing alongside him.

Father’s Day Reunion

By the time Ballestero reached home, 85 days had elapsed. Immediately upon entering the port, he was tested for COVID-19 and cleared.

Exhausted but ecstatic, Juan Manuel and his dad were reunited just in time for Father’s Day.

Just like the saga of Odysseus, Juan Manuel’s exploits revealed a few key truths: For the Argentine son who would be stuck half way across the globe facing his father’s mortality alone, “there’s no place like home.” And for the sailor whose skill and faith is steadfast, “where there’s a will,” there’s surely to be a way.