News Wars – Hundreds of thousands of people are on the move in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amid a breakout of inter-ethnic warfare, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports.
Over 300,000 have been displaced in the month of June alone as rival factions and militias battle in the northeast region of the African nation, which could exacerbate an Ebola outbreak that is now considered the second largest in recorded history.
The UNHCR says it “fears this escalation could engulf large parts of the province. We are gravely concerned for the safety of civilians after receiving reports of killings, kidnappings, maiming and sexual violence being unleashed against people.”
“The majority of the displaced have sought shelter with the host communities. Some 30,000 arrived in existing displacement sites where conditions were already dire, with many needs including shelter and health.”
Ituri Province has been identified as an area where attacks have been particularly ferocious in the past week – and also a hot zone for the ongoing Ebola outbreak.
“An Ebola epidemic in Congo, which spread to Uganda last week, has caused 2,168 infections since August, including 1,449 deaths, with Ituri accounting for about 10 percent of cases and deaths, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said,” Reuters reports.
An accelerated collapse in the DRC should concern Western readers, as Congolese have begun arriving by the hundreds at the U.S. southern border, and are being transported to cities such as San Antonio, Texas, and Portland, Maine.
Some 350 Congolese migrants were brought to San Antonio in early June with little warning to local officials, and Border Patrol warned that more should be expected.
ABC – Israel wrapped up its largest military drill in years today, with thousands of troops from the army, navy and air force simulating a future war with the militant Lebanese Hezbollah group amid fears that Iran would draw its Shiite proxy into the recent growing tensions in the Persian Gulf.
The Israeli military said the four-day exercise had been planned long in advance and focused on the immersion of all branches against threats emanating from Israel’s north. It included a large deployment of unmanned aircraft and the first use of the F-35 stealth fighter planes to prepare for scenarios of missile attacks and underground infiltrations from Lebanon.
But rising tensions between Iran and the United States clearly served as a backdrop.
RT – German Chancellor Angela Merkel was spotted visibly unsteady and shaking when she met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The 64-year-old politician later said she recovered from the sickly condition after drinking water.
Merkel felt unwell while she greeted Zelensky outside the chancellery amid hot weather in Berlin. The two leaders were listening to a band, playing national anthems of the two countries, when Merkel started shaking and swaying around a little, footage from the scene shows.
Following the anthems, Merkel managed to get herself together and was seen walking quickly alongside Zelensky into the chancellery. The German leader later told reporters that she has fully recovered after drinking several glasses of water.
“Since then I have drunk at least three glasses of water – I obviously needed that and so I’m doing very well now,” she said.
Pew Research Center – For the first time in modern history, the world’s population is expected to virtually stop growing by the end of this century, due in large part to falling global fertility rates, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the United Nations.
By 2100, the world’s population is projected to reach approximately 10.9 billion, with annual growth of less than 0.1% – a steep decline from current levels. Between 1950 and today, the world’s population grew between 1% and 2% each year, with the number of people rising from 2.5 billion to more than 7.7 billion.
Here are 11 key takeaways from the UN’s “World Population Prospects 2019”:
BBC – A New Zealand man who shared a livestream video of the Christchurch mosque attacks has been jailed for 21 months.
Philip Arps sent the video to 30 people and to a friend, asking for it to be modified to include a “kill count”.
Christchurch District Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said Arps held “unrepentant views” towards the Muslim community.
A gunman killed 51 people in the attack on Muslims at a mosque and Islamic centre during Friday prayers in March.
At the Christchurch District Court on Tuesday, Arps pleaded guilty to two charges of distributing objectionable material for sharing footage that was livestreamed to social media during the attack.
The court heard that Arps had also intended to share a modified video – which included crosshairs and a kill count. He had described the modified footage as “awesome”, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Judge O’Driscoll condemned Arps’ actions, calling them a “hate crime”. He added that it was “particularly cruel” of Arps to share the video in the days after the attacks.
CNN – Don’t you wish those long summer days could last forever? An island in northern Norway is campaigning to do just that.
With the Northern Hemisphere’s summer solstice just around the corner on June 21, Sommarøy — meaning “Summer Island” — wants to swap its watches for flower garlands and declare itself the world’s first time-free zone.
On this island in West Tromsø, north of the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t set from May 18 right through to July 26, a full 69 days.
The locals, having endured the long polar night from November to January, when the sun doesn’t rise at all, make the most of these precious months, with no regard to conventional timekeeping.
“There’s constantly daylight, and we act accordingly,” says islander Kjell Ove Hveding in a statement. “In the middle of the night, which city folk might call ‘2 a.m.,’ you can spot children playing soccer, people painting their houses or mowing their lawns, and teens going for a swim.”
U.S. News, Politics & Government
PBS – Senate Republicans and Democrats have reached a “deal in principle” for an emergency funding bill to address the surge in migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, including the care of detained families and children. Senate aides confirm the deal would fund approximately $4.5 billion dollars and was worked out by Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Both offices are expected to release details Wednesday, as the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to mark up its version of the legislation and send it to the full Senate.
The agreement is a significant breakthrough after months of discussion, but final passage is not a guarantee.
Military News – President Donald Trump’s bold but vague pledge to deport “millions” of migrants facing removal orders, starting next week, came on the eve of his reelection kickoff Tuesday night in Florida — and it vastly overstates the number of likely deportees and the ability of federal agents to round them up.
Like many of Trump’s pronouncements, his tweet may be more about stirring up public attention and anger than setting policy or issuing clear orders to federal authorities. It’s not clear whether a plan actually exists for mass arrests and removals on the scale and speed that the president suggested.
Trump tweeted Monday night that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents “will begin deporting the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States … as fast as they come in,” and called on congressional Democrats to address the “border crisis.”
Before leaving the White House for his campaign rally in Orlando, he was asked about reports citing Border Patrol and ICE officials who said they were unaware of any plans to swiftly ramp up deportations. “Well, they know. They know,” Trump said. “And they’re going to start next week.”
House Committee To Hear Proposal For Slavery Reparations
NPR – For the first time in a decade Congress will hold a hearing today on the subject of reparations for the descendants of slaves in the United States, a topic that has gained traction in the run-up to the 2020 elections.
News Observer – Braydon Smith had a $30 gift card to spend as he was walking down an aisle at Academy Sports + Outdoors and saw an ax and a machete.
The 11-year-old decided he could use them to help cut down trees and branches for campfires. His dad put up the extra $15 to make the purchase possible.
“Me and my Dad go camping a decent amount,” Braydon said.
Braydon hadn’t taken the tools camping yet, but the 70-pound sixth-grader with freckles on his nose and cheeks used the machete last week when an intruder broke into his home and tried to steal his PlayStation.
Around 11 a.m. Friday, Braydon was playing Grand Theft Auto on his PlayStation when he heard someone outside his Mebane, North Carolina, home. He ran to his bedroom in the 900-square-foot home and looked out the window.
A woman was knocking on the door, and two men were standing near a champagne-colored car.
Braydon was on the phone with his mom. He asked her to call the police before he put the phone down in the living room and stepped behind the door in his bedroom.
Through his window, he saw one of the men walk toward the other side of the home and heard a window “get slammed in.”
“My heart was beating, but I knew that I had to do something, like hit him with something, so I just grabbed a weapon that was nearby,” he said.
A young man, whom police later identified as Jataveon Deshawn Hall, 19, slowly walked through the home. He grabbed a pellet rifle, which Braydon knew was not loaded.
When he came to Braydon’s room, the man peeked through door with the rifle.
“He grabbed my machete and told me to sit on the ground and get in the closet,” Braydon said.
Braydon obeyed, until the man turned his back as he walked into the living room and started to pocket Braydon’s cell phone.
Braydon picked up the machete the man had dropped on the floor and swung it at him, striking him in the back of the neck.
The man kicked Braydon a few times and pushed him down, he said.
Braydon swung the machete again but missed.
The man tried to grab the PlayStation and television.
“He noticed that he was bleeding in the back of the head really badly,” Braydon said. “So he just dropped everything and ran out of the door.”
WTop – In WTOP’s three-part series “City of Secrets,” WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green talks to some of the best in the espionage game to find how spies have infiltrated Washington, D.C. and what can be done to catch them.
Every day, in the predawn hours, long before official Washington, D.C. stirs from its slumber, the quiet rumble of transit begins deep beneath the city, in the streets, on its waterways and in the skies. It grows, hour by hour, to a full-blown symphony of organized chaos, punctuated by voices, horns, sirens and motorcades, as the city of 700,000 swells to more than one million.
Waves of civil servants, military and law enforcement officers, business people, students, diplomats and tourists saturate the city.
That is the scene on a typical weekday in the world’s most powerful city — whose business revolves around secret meetings, information and documents. Woven into that orderly bedlam are sophisticated networks of foreign nationals whose sole purpose is to steal secrets.
They are spies.
According to the International Spy Museum in D.C., an educational and historical center of U.S. intelligence documentation and artifacts, there are “more than 10,000 spies in Washington.”
While there may be some quibbling about the actual numbers, the FBI agrees with the premise.
“It’s unprecedented — the threat from our foreign adversaries, specifically China on the economic espionage and the espionage front,” said Brian Dugan, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Counterintelligence with the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
As this unparalleled wave of international espionage, aided by technology, explodes in D.C., the variety of spies has diversified, as well.
“A spy is nondescript. A spy is going to be someone that’s going to be a student in school, a visiting professor, your neighbor. It could be a colleague or someone that shares the soccer field with you,” Dugan said.
The archetypal international spy in Washington for many years has been undercover diplomats and foreign intelligence agency assets.
Economy & Business
Arca Max – President Donald Trump has been hectoring the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, and financial markets are screaming for a cut. This even though rates are historically low and the economy is sailing along, albeit with some recent gray clouds.
What’s a central bank to do?
Fed policymakers are expected to stand pat on rates after their two-day meeting Wednesday. But it looks as if they already may have backed themselves into a corner.
In recent weeks the Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell, have signaled they’re prepared to lower rates if the outlook worsens. Just three months ago they were favoring a rate hike or no action.
Failure now to cut rates — or a pivot back to a rate hike or even a neutral stance — could cause a violent sell-off by markets.
But neither does the Fed want to be bossed around by markets, nor seen as doing the president’s bidding, which could hurt its credibility and weaken the independence the Fed has long fought to preserve.
The Fed shift to a rate-cut bias comes at a particularly sensitive time. Trump wants to pump up growth ahead of the 2020 election and cushion the economic damage from his escalating trade war with China.
At less than 2.5%, the Fed’s main benchmark rate remains low by historical standards, meaning that any cuts at this point would further limit the central bank’s ability to fight a recession when it strikes.
Trump has been relentless in excoriating the Fed and demanding that it reverse rate hikes made last year.
AFP – In a country that nearly always believes bigger is better — think supersize fries, giant cars and 10-gallon hats — more and more Americans are downsizing their living quarters.
Welcome to the world of tiny homes, most of them less than 400 square feet (less than 40 square meters), which savvy buyers are snapping up for their minimalist appeal and much smaller carbon footprints.
The tiny homes revolution, which includes those on foundations and those on wheels, began a few decades ago, but the financial crisis of 2008 and the coming-of-age of millennials gave it a new impetus.
The proliferation of home improvement shows on networks like HGTV fueled the trend, inspiring customers ready to personalize their own small living spaces.
Cost is one of the driving factors — a tiny home of just over 200 square feet with a customized interior can go for about $50,000 — a massive savings over a McMansion in the suburbs.
“We have a housing crisis and we have crumbling buildings around us. It’s just hard to find good quality living at an affordable price,” says Brandy Jones, who took the plunge with her husband and two sons.
Eight months ago, they moved into a tiny house in Reading, Pennsylvania, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia.
Jones says that for a new house in the area, the family would have had to budget for about $300,000. The tiny home option “is a huge difference. It makes living affordable.”
Energy & Environment
E&E News – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said yesterday he has reached an agreement with legislative leaders over a bill to slash New York’s greenhouse gas emissions, setting the stage for one of the most significant state climate victories since President Trump took office.
The announcement, coming just days before the close of the legislative session, represented a big victory for climate activists, who have spent three years pushing for major legislation to curb greenhouse gases in the Empire State.
Lawmakers were still working on final amendments yesterday, but the outlines of the deal were becoming clear. The legislation calls for reducing emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 and 85% by 2050. The remaining 15% of emissions would be offset, making the state carbon neutral. The bill would also require that all electricity generation come from carbon-free sources by 2040. A Climate Action Council would be established to ensure the state meets its targets.
“I believe we have an agreement, and I believe it is going to pass,” Cuomo said in a radio interview on WAMC.
AP – The Trump administration on Wednesday completed one of its biggest rollbacks of environmental rules, replacing a landmark Obama-era effort that sought to wean the nation’s electrical grid off coal-fired power plants and their climate-damaging pollution.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, signed a replacement rule that gives states leeway in deciding whether to require efficiency upgrades at existing coal plants.
Wheeler said coal-fired power plants remained essential to the power grid, something that opponents deny. “Americans want reliable energy that they can afford,” he said at a news conference. There’s no denying “the fact that fossil fuels will continue to be an important part of the mix,” he said.
Science & Technology
Ron Paul Institute – Last week, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill amendment to repeal the prohibition on the use of federal funds to create a “unique patient identifier.” Unless this prohibition, which I originally sponsored in 1998, is reinstated, the federal government will have the authority to assign every American a medical ID. This ID will be used to store and track every American’s medical history.
A unique patient identifier would allow federal bureaucrats and government-favored special interests to access health information simply by entering an individual’s unique patient ID into a database. This system would also facilitate the collection of health information without a warrant by surveillance state operatives.
The health records database could easily be linked to other similar databases, such as those containing gun purchase records or education records. If mandatory E-Verify becomes law, the health records database could even be linked to it, allowing employers to examine a potential employee’s medical history.
The possibility that the unique patient identifier system may be linked to a database containing information regarding gun ownership is especially disturbing given the bipartisan support for “red flag” laws. These laws allow the government to deny respect for someone’s Second Amendment rights without due process and based solely on an allegation that the individual is mentally unstable and likely to commit an act of gun violence. Combining red flag laws with the unique patient identifier system would leave a gun owner who ever sought psychiatric help for any reason at risk of losing his ability to legally possess a gun.
Unscrupulous government officials could use medical information to harass those whose political activities challenge the status quo. Anyone who doubts this should ask themselves what a future J. Edgar Hoover or Lois Lerner would do with access to the medical information of those involved in political movements he wishes to silence.
Yourcentralvalley.com – Police in Southern California are turning to technology in order to fight crime by deploying a robot out on to the streets to keep a watchful eye over public area.
The robot, dubbed “HP Robocop,” is described as an “autonomous data machine” and is expected to be officially unveiled by the Huntington Park police department on Tuesday.
Equipped with 36-degree video cameras, Huntington Park police will deploy “HP RoboCop” to monitor and surveil areas such as parks and city buildings. The robot will then be able to relay video footage from its cameras to police headquarters in order to facilitate fast and safe responses from police officers.
“HP RoboCop” will also be able to roll down sidewalks and recite phrases to members of the public, such as “excuse me” and “good day to you.”
Huntington Park lies about six miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Gardening, Farming & Homesteading
CBS – The number two dairy farm in the country for milk production is feeding its cows an unusual ingredient: coffee creamer.
“This is an oddball ingredient,” said John Maxwell, farmer and owner of Cinnamon Ridge Farms in Donahue, Iowa. “It does sound a little cannibalistic, but that’s not true at all.”
The cows are being fed half a pound of powdered coffee creamer a day mixed with other cow favorites like hay, which adds up to four pounds of milk per cow daily.
Maxwell says it makes the milk taste better. But that’s not the only reason he’s feeding it to his cows.
Cinnamon Ridge Dairy Farm feeds their cows coffee creamer to give them energy, which produces their quality milk.
“There’s a lot of sugar in it,” Maxwell told WQAD. “This is energy in my hand, energy that produces milk. Sugar and all those carbohydrates produce milk.”
Cinnamon Ridge used to feed the cows chocolate cake mix, but found more benefits from the coffee creamer because of the higher sugar levels.
Maxwell said the practice is also good for the environment because his farm is eliminating food waste by taking in 2,000 pounds of creamer that would otherwise go to a landfill.
The Hollywood Reporter – As the Mindy Kaling movie becomes the latest to fizzle in theaters, a confluence of forces — including the streaming service’s push into the arena and the studios’ shift to genres that reap billions worldwide — puts the future of funny films in question.
Comedy lovers, not to mention fans of Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, took succor in early June from the promising limited opening of Late Night. The picture, which Amazon Studios acquired at Sundance for a reported $13 million, debuted the weekend of June 7 to a per-screen average of $62,414, second only this year to Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame.
A week later, the picture fizzled when it went wide, earning $5.1 million, or $2,314 per screen (a third of Men in Black: International‘s per screen take, itself a disappointment), thereby proving itself the latest in a string of comedy casualties at the box office.
Mercola – Investigative journalism from Kaiser Health News discovered buried reports in the FDA detailing medical device malfunctions and patient injuries. While the reports could have guided device purchases and medical care, they were not known to most to physicians.
The Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience Database (MAUDE) is a public database forensic investigators, researchers and those responsible for medical device purchases use to make decisions and evaluate treatment options. For instance, spinal stimulators for pain relief had few public reports, but 1.7 million injuries and 83,000 deaths are recorded in in the alternative reporting summaries.
Exemptions for reporting were made for manufacturers without public notification and records reveal more than 480,000 injuries or malfunctions were reported in just one year for over 100 medical devices, including those used during surgery or implanted in patients.
The reported injuries have devastated countless families and patients, like Jim Taft, now bedridden after a spinal cord stimulator malfunctioned; April Strange who died in surgery after a stapler malfunction, leaving her husband and two small children; and Mark Levering who nearly lost his life as the result of a stapler malfunction.
While there are times you need to seek medical attention, I believe the best course of action is to maintain optimal health using strategies such as getting quality sleep, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, eating a nutritionally balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise and movement each day
NaturalNews – People with diabetes are at risk of other health complications, including cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Madras in Chennai, India suggest using extracts from the marking nut tree (Semecarpus anacardium) to prevent cardiovascular complications caused by diabetes.
For the study, the Indian researchers looked at the potential of marking nut tree extract in protecting against cardiovascular problems, particularly its effects on altered cardiac metabolism caused by diabetes. The researchers induced Type 2 diabetes in rats by feeding them a high-fat diet for two weeks. They gave the animals two intraperitoneal injections of the drug streptozotocin afterwards at a dose of 35 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) body weight. After 12 weeks, the rats developed cardiovascular complications. The researchers studied the effects of marking nut extract on the sugar metabolizing enzymes and mitochondrial complex enzymes of the rats.
The results showed that treatment with marking nut tree extract ameliorated the alteration in cardiac energy metabolism in diabetic rats. The researchers noted that this cardioprotective effect may be attributed to the plant extract’s ability to improve glucose utilization and control oxidative stress under diabetic conditions.
With these findings, the researchers concluded that the marking nut tree extract may be used to prevent cardiovascular problems in people with diabetes. Their study was published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.
Mercola – Sriracha sauce (pronounced sir-rotch-ah) is named after the seaside city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand, where it was created by a villager, Thanom Chakkapak, over 80 years ago.
Vitamins A and C are found in chili peppers, both of which have antioxidant effects to help combat pathogens