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World News

Ebola cases in DR Congo break 2,000 mark

AFP – DR Congo’s health ministry said late Monday that it had recorded more than 2,000 cases of Ebola, two-thirds of which had been fatal, since the disease broke out in the country’s east 10 months ago.

“Since the start of the epidemic, the total number of cases stands at 2,008, of which 1,914 have been confirmed [by lab test] while 94 are probable,” it said in an update.

China warns citizens against travel to the US

CNBC – China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Tuesday a safety warning for Chinese citizens and companies in the U.S.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism also issued a warning Tuesday for Chinese tourists traveling to America.

These announcements follow the Ministry of Education’s warning on Monday to Chinese students studying abroad that noted recent U.S. restrictions on some Chinese student visas.

China encourages social credit incentives

ECNS –  China’s top economic planner has issued guidelines over introducing incentives to reward role models in the evolving social credit system.

The new guidelines by National Development and Reform Commission have specified the standards by which to evaluate if a person should be considered a role model in regards to creditworthiness.

They include 15 preferential policies to be enjoyed by those who make the role-model list.

Outstanding individuals in the system can freely acquire personal credit reports a number of times in a year, and freely search information in the national credit information online platform, according to the regulation.

They will also enjoy fast-tracked services when applying for administrative approval, qualification reviews, credit cards or personal loans, patents or copyright registration, and quick refunds from financial institutions or platform companies.

The guideline also states role models will gain priority in having access to public elderly care services and applying for civil service positions.

Cities are also encouraged to introduce coordinated incentives to those outstanding individuals in Hukou (household registration permit) registration, education, housing, employment, medicare and administrative approval offered by local government.

China started to build a social credit system in 2014 and an open national credit information online platform is already in place where reliable people and enterprises are honored while poor credit performers like defaulting debtors and taxpayers are blacklisted. The system is supported with punishment measures like restrictions on enjoying certain services.

Putin tests ‘world’s fastest missile capable of reaching 9,000mph’ to stop Western attacks

Daily Star – Footage shows the rocket system being driven to its launch site in the Sary-Shagan training range in Kazakhstan.

It then blasts into the air at an incredible speed – causing a huge plume of smoke to surround the area.

The Kremlin has declined to name the system but it is believed to be the deadly PRS-1M interceptor missile, which is crucial to protecting Moscow and other strategic sites in the region from potential incoming NATO or other enemy missiles.

Federal police raid home of Australian journalist who revealed government’s proposal to spy on the public

Business Insider – The raid follows a story published by News Corp Australia publication, the Daily Telegraph, and written by national political editor, Annika Smethurst, in April 2018. The article, titled “Spying shock: Shades of Big Brother as cyber-security vision comes to light”, detailed a discussion between two government agencies that were reportedly discussing the potential for new surveillance powers for Australia’s electronic spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

The Daily Telegraph article included photographs of top secret internal documents that detailed a proposal to allow the ASD to target Australians — if approved by the Defence and Home Affairs ministers.

An anonymous source told the publication the proposal would allow spies to access the digital records of Australians, such as financial transactions, health data and phone records, without a warrant.

The proposal also detailed a plan to grant authorities the ability to forcibly coerce government agencies and private businesses to comply with an order to provide information on Australian citizens, the Telegraph reported.

It would also allow for the ASD’s hackers to “proactively disrupt and covertly remove” cyber threats within Australia by “hacking into critical ­infrastructure”, it said. The organisation is currently focused on international threats.

Under Australian law, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) can spy on Australians but they must have obtained a warrant issued by the Attorney-General. The warrant allows ASIO to enter and search premises, intercept and inspect mail, use surveillance devices, monitor communications and remotely access computers. It is expected to use other methods before using these powers.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed via a statement that it had executed a search warrant on the home in Canberra in connection “to an investigation into the alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security information.”

At least four dead, two more injured after Australian gunman goes on shooting spree: reports

Fox – At least four people are dead and two more are injured after a lone gunman opened fire Tuesday night in a suburb just outside of Darwin, Australia, police said.

‘End-of-life’ clinic helps 17-year-old die

Daily Mail – A 17-year-old girl who was raped as a young child and who felt she could no longer go on living has been legally euthanised at home with the help of an ‘end-of-life clinic’.

Noa Pothoven died in a hospital bed in her living room after being granted the right to euthanasia in The Hague, a city in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands.

The Dutch teenager from Arnhem felt that life had become unbearable and she could no longer carry on.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

White House blocks Hope Hicks, Annie Donaldson from complying with House subpoenas

Axios – The White House has instructed former communications director Hope Hicks and former deputy counsel Annie Donaldson not to turn over documents related to their time in the administration, rebuffing subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee, CNN first reported.

Dems to call Watergate star John Dean to testify on Mueller report

Politico – he House Judiciary Committee is preparing to call Watergate star witness and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean to testify on the Mueller report, an effort to draw public attention to special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings amid heated debate over the prospect of impeaching President Donald Trump.

Dossier author Christopher Steele will be questioned by US investigators: report

Fox – Former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the anti-Trump dossier of salacious and unverified claims about the president’s ties to Russia, has agreed to be questioned by investigators from the United States, according to a report in Britain.

Beyond Crisis: Border Patrol Nabs “Largest Group Ever Encountered”: 1,036

The New American – The Memorial Day weekend was another chartbuster for the overwhelmed officers of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in the El Paso Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border. As reported by Cort Kirkwood for The New American, on May 29  (El Paso Border Agents Catch 2,200 Illegals on Memorial Day, Congolese Caught at Eagle Pass), CBP agents in the El Paso and Rio Grande Sectors are being literally overrun. However, in the week following Memorial Day, the situation has continued to worsen.

On May 30, the CBP issued a press release stating: “Border Patrol Agents Apprehend Largest Group Ever Encountered.” According to the release, CBP agents took custody of 1,036 people after they illegally crossed the border in El Paso, Texas, shortly after 4 a.m., MDT. The group crossed the Rio Grande and were immediately taken into custody by Border Patrol agents south of downtown El Paso, between the Bridge of the Americas and the Stanton Street Bridge.

“The apprehension of 1,036 individuals in a single group, the largest group ever encountered by Border Patrol agents, demonstrates the severity of the border security and humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border,” said CBP Deputy Commissioner Robert E. Perez. “The dedicated men and women of CBP, and in particular the U.S Border Patrol, are doing their very best every day to address the influx of family units and unaccompanied children.”

Fate of Missouri’s only abortion clinic at stake as St. Louis judge holds hearing

Reuters – The fate of Missouri’s only abortion clinic will be at stake on Tuesday when a St. Louis judge hears arguments in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit aimed at forcing state health officials to renew the facility’s license to perform the procedure.

Planned Parenthood sued Missouri last week after state health officials refused to renew the license of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis because, they said, they were unable to interview seven of its physicians over “potential deficient practices,” according to court documents.

Rachel Maddow Proposes Abortion Underground Railroad To Defy Pro-Life Laws

Infowars – MSNBC host Rachel Maddow huddled with a Planned Parenthood advocate to scheme how to keep the unborn babies comfortable for the abortion industry in the wake of several southern states enacting strict pro-life legislation.

Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri director M’evie Mead sounded the alarm on pro-life legislation taking hold in her state as well as Alabama, Ohio, and Georgia, saying “emergency” measures were being taken to ensure women in those states could still get abortions.

“There will be an emergency plan to help patients access health care outside of the state,” Mead said Friday. “But people do need to know that already Missourians are facing tremendous challenges.”

That’s when Maddow proposed an underground “railroad effort” to take those women out of the pro-life states to get abortions.

“What you are describing there in terms of the emergency plan, if there needs to be a railroad effort in Missouri to try to help women get out of state to get to places where they can access abortion care because they can’t get it anywhere in the state, in addition to seeming dystopian and radical, it also sounds really expensive,” Maddow said.

“It sounds like you are already in a very expensive fight right now and it sounds like the future might be expensive, particularly if the court succeeds in shutting you down.”

CBP’s Airport Facial Recognition ‘Is Not a Surveillance Program’

NextGov – As the public grows wary of facial recognition, the head of CBP’s biometric entry and exit initiative says the agency is using the tech responsibly.

Lawmakers and civil liberties advocates might be pressing law enforcement agencies to scale back their use of facial recognition software, but international travelers should only expect to see more of the tech in the years ahead.

It’s been almost two years since Customs and Border Protection began deploying facial recognition systems at U.S. airports, and despite the recent backlash against the software, the agency’s efforts show no signs of slowing down. But if you ask Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner John Wagner, the agency’s use of facial recognition falls far short of the dystopian panopticon feared by many of the tech’s critics.

“This is not a surveillance program,” Wagner, who heads CBP’s biometric entry and exit initiative, said in a conversation with Nextgov. “We are not just hanging a camera in an airport and randomly identifying people … as they’re walking through.”

Under Wagner’s program, CBP agents use facial recognition to compare real-time images of international travelers to the photos on their passports or visas. For arrivals, people have their faces scanned while officers review their travel documents, and for departures, the tech captures images right at the boarding gate.

Today, the tech is deployed in some capacity at 16 airports across the U.S, and by 2021, CBP expects to scale up the program to cover more than 97 percent of the people flying outside the country. Ultimately, officials anticipate biometrics could render physical boarding passes obsolete.

Amazon Offered Job to Pentagon Official Involved With $10 Billion Contract It Sought

The Intercept – In a federal lawsuit, the tech giant Oracle has provided new details to support its accusation that Amazon secretly negotiated a job offer with a then-Department of Defense official who helped shape the procurement process for a massive federal contract for which Amazon was a key bidder.

Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are now the two finalists to win the highly contested $10 billion contract for what is known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI. The deal, one of the largest federal contracts in U.S. history, would pay one company to provide cloud computing services in support of Defense Department operations around the world.

But the contract has been hotly contested since the department began soliciting proposals last year. Two of Amazon’s competitors, IBM and Oracle, filed complaints with the Government Accountability Office saying that the winner-take-all process unfairly favored Amazon, which is seen as an industry leader in cloud computing. When its claim was rejected, Oracle sued the government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Since the court battle began in 2018, Oracle has aggressively lodged conflict-of-interest accusations involving a former DOD official named Deap Ubhi, who left the department in 2017 to take a job at Amazon. In a court motion filed on Friday, Oracle alleged that while Ubhi worked on the preliminary research for the JEDI program in the late summer and fall of 2017, he was also engaged in a secret job negotiation with Amazon for months, complete with salary discussions, offers of signing bonuses, and lucrative stock options.

The motion further alleges that Ubhi did not recuse himself from the JEDI program until weeks after verbally accepting a job offer from Amazon and that he continued to receive information about Amazon’s competitors and participate in meetings about technical requirements, despite a government regulation that forbids such conflicts of interest.

“Neither Ubhi nor [Amazon Web Services] disclosed the employment discussions or job offer to DOD — not when the employment discussions started, not when the informal job offer occurred, not when the formal offer occurred, and not even when Ubhi accepted the offer,” Oracle’s motion reads.

Economy & Business

These states have the best economies in the US: study

Fox – Washington state reportedly has the best economy in America, according to a new study.

The analysis, published by WalletHub on Monday, looked at 28 indicators across three dimensions: economic activity, economic health and innovation potential.

Some of those indicators included GDP growth, exports per capita, unemployment, underemployment, growth in number of businesses and entrepreneurial activity.

Based on those calculations, here are the top 10 states with the best economies according to WalletHub’s study.

  1. Washington
  2. Utah
  3. Massachusetts
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Idaho
  8. Oregon
  9. New Hampshire
  10. North Carolina

U.S. probe of Google’s online ad dominance would appease long suffering rivals, publishers

Reuters – Ad tech firms and publishers have had to stay in the good graces of Google or risk insolvency.

That is why the U.S. Department of Justice is examining the dominance of Alphabet Inc’s Google in online advertising as part of a potential antitrust investigation, two sources told Reuters.

Google’s control over the market has long hurt the profits of smaller advertising technology companies who must appease the No. 1 online ad firm to be profitable, and online publishers who need Google’s search reach and ad tools to build an audience and make money on their content.

The ad market is just one of several areas of possible inquiry.

Google has declined to comment on the potential investigation, but has repeatedly said that it acts in the best interest of its users and offers sufficient warning to industry partners potentially affected by its moves.

Science & Technology

Facebook May Be Told to Censor Users’ Hateful Posts Globally

Bloomberg – Facebook Inc. may be ordered to remove offensive content posted by users in the European Union and then also hunt for similar posts anywhere in the world, according to an EU court opinion that the internet giant warned was a threat to freedom of speech.

Since the EU’s law for digital services and electronic commerce “does not regulate the territorial scope of an obligation to remove information disseminated via a social network platform, it does not preclude a host provider from being ordered to remove such information worldwide,” Advocate General Maciej Szpunar of the EU Court of Justice said Tuesday.

Scrutiny of Facebook in the EU has intensified since the bloc introduced strict new privacy rules a year ago, giving data regulators for the first time real teeth and the power to fine companies as much as 4% of annual sales for the most serious violations. Antitrust regulators too have been probing the social network over how it tracks users’ internet browsing.

The ruling by the EU court, expected in a few months, will help clarify to what extent social media companies such as Facebook must police posts by users worldwide. The case seeks to establish how far-reaching EU law, or the powers of the bloc’s courts go, in protecting EU users of online social media companies that can be accessed from around the globe.

The advocate general’s opinion “undermines the long-standing principle that one country should not have the right to limit free expression in other countries,” Facebook said in an emailed statement, adding that it hopes the EU court ruling “will clarify that, even in the age of the internet, the scope of court orders from one country must be limited to its borders.”

The company said it removes content that breaks the law and that its priority “is always to keep people on Facebook safe.”

Outrage After Snapchat Debuts ‘Love Has No Age’ Filter for Pride Month

Infowars  – Social media company Snapchat is receiving backlash after users claimed the popular app made available a Pride Month-themed filter promoting pedophilia.

In a photo filter themed “Love has no labels,” conservative activist Ashley St. Clair noted the phrase “Love has no age” appeared as an option.

St. Clair uploaded an example of her applying the photo filter and cycling through other phrases, including: “Love has no gender,” “Love has no sexuality,” and “love has no disability.”

“I heard pedophiles were trying to get into the LGBTQ community, but did it really happen? What do you mean love has no age?” St. Clair said in the video uploaded Sunday.

Other users on Twitter were equally appalled by the filter.

Health

Daily vitamin D pill could cut the risk of dying from cancer by 13 per cent, new study reveals

Daily Mail – Boosting vitamin D levels by taking a daily supplement could cut the risk of dying from cancer by 13 per cent, according to a study.

Vitamin D is made by the body when exposed to sunshine but modern lifestyles mean many spend more time indoors and about one in five in the UK have insufficient levels of the nutrient.

US researcher Dr Shifeng Mao, from the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute in Pittsburgh, reported findings showing that people who were deficient in vitamin D were more than twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer and also had a higher risk of bowel cancer.

A separate study involving 79,000 healthy adults found taking a supplement for at least three years was associated with a 13 per cent drop in risk of dying from any form of cancer later in life.

Impossible Burger Attacks Moms for Publishing Pesticide Results

Mercola – When tested by consumer advocacy group Moms Across America (MAA), concerning levels of the herbicide glyphosate were found in the Impossible Burger.

The total result of glyphosate and AMPA, the main metabolite of glyphosate, in the Impossible Burger was 11.3 parts per billion (ppb).

The Impossible Burger is made mostly of genetically engineered (GE) soy protein, a highly-processed ingredient that’s not real food.

Rather than acknowledging that glyphosate in their food could be a problem, Impossible Foods engaged in a veritable smear campaign against Moms Across America, calling it an “anti-science, fundamentalist group that cynically peddles a toxic brew of medical misinformation”.

Alternative meat products are not natural, nor are they superior to real food grown in accordance with nature

Top Nutrients to Protect Your Skin From Summer Sun

Mercola – You can support healthy skin and protect it from ultraviolet damage from the inside. Scientists have identified several nutrients that have UV protective activity, reducing your risk of sunburn and related skin damage.

Astaxanthin, lycopene, beta carotene, vitamins D, E and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) have all been shown to help protect your skin against sun damage.

Astaxanthin specifically helps protect against UV-induced cell death. Unlike topical sun block, astaxanthin does not actually block UV rays, so it doesn’t prevent UVB from converting into vitamin D in your skin; it simply protects your skin against damage.

Lycopene also acts as an internal sunscreen, although it’s not nearly as protective as astaxanthin. A 2001 study found tomato paste helped protect fair-skinned individuals with a tendency to burn rather than tan.

Vitamin E absorbs energy from UV light, thus plays an important role in photoprotection, preventing UV-induced free radical damage to skin

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