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World News

Raytheon and United Technologies Announce Merger to Create ‘Military-Industrial Behemoth’

Common Dreams – In a move that immediately sparked concerns among anti-trust advocates, weapons manufacturer Raytheon and aerospace giant United Technologies agreed Sunday to a $120 billion merger that was described as one of the largest-ever combinations of two defense contractors.

The merger, if approved by the government and the two companies’ shareholders, would create what the Washington Post described as a “military-industrial behemoth” with the power to rival Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.

“The company should be expected to make a strong play for the Defense Department’s emerging hypersonic missiles programs,” the Post reported. “It also will give Raytheon a sizable foothold in the commercial aerospace market for the first time in recent memory. Before the combination, the lion’s share of Raytheon’s revenue came from the Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies.”

On Twitter, anti-trust advocate Daniel Hanley said the United Technologies and Raytheon merger “should be dead on arrival.”

In an interview on CNBC Monday, President Donald Trump—otherwise a fan of large weapons companies—also expressed concern about the proposed merger.

“When I hear United and I hear Raytheon, when I hear they’re merging, does that make it less competitive? It’s already not competitive,” Trump said. “I just want to see competition. They’re two great companies, I love them both. But I want to see that we don’t hurt our competition.”

US official ‘says it’s “highly likely” Iran was behind ‘torpedo’ attack in the Gulf of Oman’, as tanker industry chief warns ‘oil supply to entire Western world could be at risk’ if the straits are deemed unsafe

Daily Mail – Iran is ‘highly likely’ to have caused the explosions which hit two tankers in the Gulf of Oman today, the U.S. is said to believe – amid fears that repeated attacks on ships could put the West’s oil supply under threat.

A fireball erupted on the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair after a suspected torpedo attack caused three explosions, forcing the crew to abandon ship.

Sailors on the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous also had to flee after it was hit by another explosion, in a pair of apparent attacks today which have left the Middle East on high alert.

Britain has urged ‘extreme caution’ amid spiralling tensions in the region, weeks after Saudi tankers were attacked in a mysterious act of sabotage off the UAE coast which Washington believes was the work of Iran.

Surveillance-savvy Hong Kong protesters go digitally dark

AFP – Hong Kong’s tech-savvy protesters are going digitally dark as they try to avoid surveillance and potential future prosecutions, disabling location tracking on their phones, buying train tickets with cash and purging their social media conversations.

Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up crowds opposed to a China extradition law on Wednesday, in the worst unrest the city has witnessed in decades.

Many of those on the streets are predominantly young and have grown up in a digital world, but they are all too aware of the dangers of surveillance and leaving online footprints.

This week groups of demonstrators donned masks, goggles, helmets and caps — both to protect themselves against tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets, and also to make it harder for them to be identified.

Many said they turned off their location tracking on their phones and beefed up their digital privacy settings before joining protests, or deleted conversations and photos on social media and messaging apps after they left the demonstrations.

There were unusually long lines at ticket machines in the city underground metro stations as protesters used cash to buy tickets rather than tap-in with the city’s ubiquitous Octopus cards — whose movements can be more easily tracked.

In a city where WhatsApp is usually king, protesters have embraced the encrypted messaging app Telegram in recent days, believing it offers better cyber protection and also because it allows larger groups to co-ordinate.

>> Related: China Blames Trump, America for Hong Kong Protests

Putin says U.S.-Russia relations are getting ‘worse and worse’

Reuters – President Vladimir Putin said relations between Moscow and Washington were getting worse and worse, noting in an interview published on Thursday that the current U.S. administration had imposed dozens of sanctions on Russia.

Putin made his gloomy assessment ahead of a G20 summit in Japan later this month at which he might meet U.S. President Donald Trump.

British Home Secretary signs extradition order to send Julian Assange to US

RT – Britain’s Home Secretary has revealed he has signed a request for the extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US, where he is accused of violating the Espionage Act.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Sajid Javid said that he signed and certified the papers on Wednesday, with the order going before the UK courts on Friday.

He’s rightly behind bars. There’s an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow.

The US justice department has filed 17 new charges against the Australian journalist. In May, he was additionally charged with one count of conspiring with Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence analyst and whistleblower, to gain access to the US Pentagon network.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Denver council member wins with promise to impose communism ‘by any means necessary’

The American Mirror – Candi CdeBaca won a runoff race last week against former Denver city council president Albus Brooks, and she did it by promising to implement communist policies “by any means necessary.”

CdeBaca was among three candidates that unseated incumbents in the Tuesday runoff, preliminary results show, and she’s already drawing comparisons to Socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old who unseated 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district in 2018.

“It’s historic,” said Carlos Valverde, state director for Colorado Working Families, a political activist group that supported CdeBaca. “It is in the vein of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. … A victory that really demonstrates people power over money power.”

CdeBaca defeated Brooks 52.4 percent to 47.6 percent, though military and overseas ballots are still being counted.

The upset victory, and two other incumbent defeats, marks the most significant shift in city leadership in over 30 years, and Valverde contends it “began a movement” toward more progressive policies once the new members are sworn in this week, The Denver Channel reports.

CdeBaca thanked her supporters on Facebook, where she claimed her secret to success was simply keeping it “real.

House Intel Committee Subpoenas Ex-Trump Aides Flynn, Gates

Newsmax – The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates as part of its investigation into Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff says in a statement Thursday the committee is examining “deep counterintelligence concerns” raised in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and “requires speaking directly” with Flynn and Gates, who were important witnesses for Mueller’s investigation.

The California Democrat says it’s “unacceptable” that Flynn and Gates haven’t cooperated with Congress. He says the American people “deserve to hear directly” from them. They’re being subpoenaed for documents and testimony.

Memphis Fatal Shooting: Police, Angry Crowd Face Off

Newsmax – Armed officers and an angry crowd faced off after a Tennessee man was fatally shot by U.S. Marshals in a working-class Memphis neighborhood.

People in the crowd threw rocks and bricks, with 25 officers suffering mostly minor injuries during the tense clash Wednesday night in the Frayser community in north Memphis. Officers cordoned off several blocks near the scene. By 11 p.m., officers had used tear gas and most of the crowd dispersed, police director Michael Rallings said at a Thursday morning at a news conference. Three people were arrested.

Cruz Offers to Work With AOC on Making Over-the-Counter Birth Control Legal

Newsmax – Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Monday offered to work with freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on making over-the-counter birth control legal.

“Perhaps, in addition to the legislation we are already working on together to ban Members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, we can team up here as well. A simple, clean bill making birth control available over the counter. Interested?” Cruz tweeted in response to Ocasio-Ocasio-Cortez’ post that read, “Psst! Birth control should be over-the-counter, pass it on.”

Economy & Business

May deficit surges to $208 billion, 42% higher than last year

The Hill – The federal deficit in May reached $208 billion, surging 42 percent over last May’s monthly deficit figure, according to new Treasury Department data released Wednesday.

The figure put the cumulative deficit for the eight months of fiscal 2019 at $739 billion, within range of the full 2018 deficit, which amounted to $779 billion, according to the Treasury figures. Treasury estimates that the full deficit will exceed $1 trillion by the time the fiscal year wraps up at the end of September.

Energy & Environment

The Ocean Is Sinking into Earth’s Mantle, and a Dead Supercontinent Is Partly to Blame

Live Science – The ocean is a big bathtub full of 326 million cubic miles (1.3 billion cubic kilometers) of water, and somebody has unplugged the drain.

Every day, hundreds of millions of gallons of water stream from the bottom of the ocean into Earth’s mantle as part of a very wet recycling program that scientists call the deep water cycle. It works like this: First, water soaked up in the crust and minerals at the bottom of the sea both get shoved into Earth’s interior at the undersea boundaries where tectonic plates collide. Some of that water stays trapped (some studies estimate that two to four oceans’ worth of water are sloshing through the mantle), but large amounts of that water get spewed back to the surface via underwater volcanoes and hydrothermal vents. [50 Interesting Facts About Planet Earth]

It’s not a perfect system; scientists think there’s currently a lot more water plunging into the mantle than spewing out of it — but that’s OK. Overall, this cycle is just one cog in the machine that determines whether the world’s oceans rise or fall.

Now, in a study published May 17 in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems, researchers report that this cog may be more improtant than previously thought. By modeling the fluxes in the deep water cycle over the last 230 million years, the study authors found that there were times in Earth’s history when the gargantuan amount of water sinking into the mantle played an outsize role in sea level; during those times, the deep water cycle alone may have contributed to 430 feet (130 meters) of sea-level loss, thanks to one world-changing event: the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea.

“The breakup of Pangaea was associated with a time of very rapid tectonic plate subduction,” lead study author Krister Karlsen, a researcher at the Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics at the University of Oslo, told Live Science. “This led to a period of large water transport into the Earth, causing associated sea-level drop.”

Science & Technology

YouTube removes Project Veritas video on Pinterest’s ‘censorship of conservative views’

RT – YouTube has removed a video which details how Pinterest actively suppressed conservative viewpoints on its website, sparking accusations that the Silicon Valley tech giants are working in concert to silence speech they don’t like.

Created by Project Veritas, the offending video cites internal documents showing that Pinterest designated phrases such as “Bible verses” and “Christian Easter” as “sensitive terms” and placed an influential pro-life website on a pornography blacklist. The group, Live Action, was permanently banned from Pinterest for spreading “conspiracy theories” on the same day that the Project Veritas investigation went public.

The report, which featured an interview with a Pinterest employee who blew the whistle on the troubling thought-policing, was swiftly removed by YouTube, apparently due to a privacy claim by a “third party.”

Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe denounced YouTube’s decision in a statement posted on Twitter.

“The established media and technology are so afraid of investigative journalism they need to censor it. YouTube calls REPORTING on someone by showing their face and name, and how they added a pro-life group to a porn blacklist, a ‘privacy complaint.’ Would they do this to NYT?” he wrote.

Human-Pig Hybrid Created in the Lab—Here Are the Facts

National Geographic – Scientists hope the chimera embryos represent key steps toward life-saving lab-grown organs.

In a remarkable—if likely controversial—feat, scientists announced today that they have created the first successful human-animal hybrids. The project proves that human cells can be introduced into a non-human organism, survive, and even grow inside a host animal, in this case, pigs.

This biomedical advance has long been a dream and a quandary for scientists hoping to address a critical shortage of donor organs.

Every ten minutes, a person is added to the national waiting list for organ transplants. And every day, 22 people on that list die without the organ they need. What if, rather than relying on a generous donor, you could grow a custom organ inside an animal instead?

That’s now one step closer to reality, an international team of researchers led by the Salk Institute reports in the journal Cell. The team created what’s known scientifically as a chimera: an organism that contains cells from two different species.

In the past, human-animal chimeras have been beyond reach. Such experiments are currently ineligible for public funding in the United States (so far, the Salk team has relied on private donors for the chimera project). Public opinion, too, has hampered the creation of organisms that are part human, part animal.

But for lead study author Jun Wu of the Salk Institute, we need only look to mythical chimeras—like the human-bird hybrids we know as angels—for a different perspective.

“In ancient civilizations, chimeras were associated with God,” he says, and our ancestors thought “the chimeric form can guard humans.” In a sense, that’s what the team hopes human-animal hybrids will one day do.

Uber eyes drones for food delivery, unveils new autonomous car

AFP – Uber said Wednesday it plans to speed up restaurant meal delivery by using drones for its Uber Eats service, in the latest effort by the ride-hailing giant to disrupt the transport sector.

At its Uber Elevate Summit, the company said it had regulatory approval to begin tests of delivering food by drone in the region of San Diego, California.

“Our goal is to expand Uber Eats drone delivery so we can provide more options to more people at the tap of a button,” said Luke Fischer, head of flight operations at Uber Elevate.

“We believe that Uber is uniquely positioned to take on this challenge as we’re able to leverage the Uber Eats network of restaurant partners and delivery partners as well as the aviation experience and technology of Uber Elevate.”

For logistical reasons, the drones will not deliver directly to customers, but to a safe drop-off location where an Uber Eats driver will complete the order.

In the future, Uber hopes to land the drones on parked vehicles located near each delivery location to allow the final delivery by hand.

Uber said it had developed a proprietary airspace management system called Elevate Cloud Systems that will guide the drones to their location.

While not the first food drone delivery service, Uber is aiming for a potentially large-scale service through its food service partners across the United States.


Two hours a week is key dose of nature for health and wellbeing

Medical Press – Spending at least two hours a week in nature may be a crucial threshold for promoting health and wellbeing, according to a new large-scale study.

Research led by the University of Exeter, published in Scientific Reports and funded by NIHR, found that people who spend at least 120 minutes in nature a week are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological wellbeing than those who don’t visit nature at all during an average week. However, no such benefits were found for people who visited natural settings such as town parks, woodlands, country parks and beaches for less than 120 minutes a week.

The study used data from nearly 20,000 people in England and found that it didn’t matter whether the 120 minutes was achieved in a single visit or over several shorter visits. It also found the 120 minute threshold applied to both men and women, to older and younger adults, across different occupational and ethnic groups, among those living in both rich and poor areas, and even among people with long term illnesses or disabilities.

Dr. Mat White, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said: “It’s well known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and wellbeing but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough. The majority of nature visits in this research took place within just two miles of home so even visiting local urban greenspaces seems to be a good thing. Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit.”

Ashwagandha may reduce anxiety and stress

Mercola – Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogenic herb that helps your body manage and adapt to stress by balancing your immune system, metabolism and hormonal systems.

Its anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antistress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic and rejuvenating properties makes it one of the most important herbs in Ayurvedic medicine.

Compared to placebo, ashwagandha has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of stress in those with a history of chronic stress. While perceived stress scale (PSS) scores in the control group declined by a modest 5.5% over 60 days, the treatment group receiving ashwagandha had a 44% reduction in PSS scores.

A 2014 systematic review of human trials concluded that treatment with ashwagandha “resulted in greater score improvements (significantly in most cases) than placebo in outcomes on anxiety or stress scales”.

While generally safe and well-tolerated, ashwagandha is contraindicated for, and should not be used by pregnant women, breastfeeding women or people taking sedatives.

Natural remedy for arthritis pain? Women who drink cranberry juice experience reduced joint pain

NaturalNews – Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than two million people in the U.S. and approximately 400,000 in the United Kingdom. Rheumatoid arthritis is known as an autoimmune condition, whereas the immune system attacks its own tissues, causing inflammation and joint pain. The inflammatory condition typically affects females and can be felt in the hands, feet, wrists, and in twenty-five other joints.

A promising study from the University of Londrina in Brazil has found a natural, preventative solution for reducing joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The answer is found inside cranberries. A compound found in cranberries and other wild foods may reduce inflammation-causing genes.

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