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World News

 

Saudi Arabia buys $300m spyware from Israel

Middleast Montior – Saudi Arabia has bought $300 million worth of spy software from Israel as part of a large scale military deal.

Senior Arab sources told Al Khaleej Online that the deal was struck without a mediator, despite the fact that the two countries do not maintain formal diplomatic relations. The sources stressed that the Saudi intelligence services have sought to obtain advanced spyware in order to trace the Kingdom’s citizens – both in the country and abroad – amidst increasing criticism of the Saudi royal family.

Saudi Arabia therefore reached out to the Israeli market and struck a deal worth $300m with representatives of Israeli firms, the sources said, adding that both sides met and reached the deal in UK capital London.

According to the sources, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) know about the deal, which includes 1,000 small yet sophisticated tracking devices that can be placed in the target’s mobile phone.

 

Alphabet tries to salvage its smart city plans in Toronto

CNN – Google’s parent company continues its attempts to sell Toronto on its controversial vision for a utopian city neighborhood.

Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation company of Alphabet, released a 1,524-page report Monday detailing plans to develop part of the Canadian city as a model neighborhood for the digital age.

Sidewalk Labs believes its innovations can make city living more desirable and affordable with less pollution, shorter commutes, better weather and environmentally-friendly buildings. It aims to start with 10 buildings and 2.7 million square feet of residential and commercial space and later expand to more of Toronto’s waterfront.

The project has faced a backlash since its October 2017 announcement. Ontario’s auditor general released a critical report in December describing a rushed process to select Sidewalk Labs to develop the prime waterfront real estate near the heart of Toronto. Several officials, including the head of Waterfront Toronto, the organization leading the process, have resigned.

Critics ranging from politicians to advocacy groups and private citizens have raised privacy questions about the data Sidewalk Labs will collect, and say the company hasn’t provided enough answers. Intersections would be designed with sensors, tracking the movement of all people and vehicles. Sidewalk Labs says this will help move traffic swiftly and ensure walk signals leave added time for slow walkers, such as the elderly.

 

Merkel health fears as chancellor seen shaking for second time

Telegraph – Concern is growing over the health of Angela Merkel after the German Chancellor was overcome by a shaking fit for the second time in a little over a week on Thursday.

Eight days after footage showed Ms Merkel desperately trying to maintain composure as she shook from head to foot at a reception for the Ukrainian president, she has suffered another bout of trembling.

Footage from Thursday morning shows Ms Merkel’s legs shaking as she stands through a swearing-in ceremony in Berlin for the country’s new justice minister, Christine Lambrecht.

Ms Merkel can been seen clutching her arms in an attempt to control herself while glancing uncomfortably to her side. An aide then offers her a glass of water which she turns down.

The chancellor looks wobbly throughout the entire video of roughly one minute and ten seconds, which was shared by the German Press Association.

 

Chemicals in rooms?

Fox – A Canadian woman who stayed at a Bahia Principe resort in the Dominican Republic in 2016 alleges that she fell critically ill after being exposed to a strong chemical odor in her room, and that she has battled multiple health problems ever since.

Tina Hammell told CNN in an interview that the smell in her room at the Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana resort woke her and her husband from a nap.

“It was so strong that I was burning and coughing, and it was very upsetting,” she told CNN, adding that she was moved to another room, which made no difference.

Hammell said that her symptoms quickly worsened, sending her into convulsions.

“I remember my muscles, my hands all turned in and my legs came up, I just was spasming and I lost consciousness,” Hammell said.

Hammell is one of several people who have come forward to tell reporters about having fallen ill — sometimes requiring hospitalization — while at a resort in the Dominican Republic.

Many said they were prompted to tell their stories after reading about a rash of U.S. tourist deaths on the island — which Dominican authorities attribute to natural causes.

The State Department has confirmed the deaths of nearly a dozen U.S. citizens whose families brought the cases to light and voiced doubts about Dominican authorities’ insistence on citing natural causes. All but one visitor died in the last 18 months.

 

Maduro warns will be ‘ruthless’ if opposition seeks to oust

Al Jazeera – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro warned on Wednesday that he would be “ruthless” with the opposition if they attempted a coup d’etat, after his government said it had thwarted a plot to assassinate him.

“We would be ruthless in a revolutionary counteroffensive against a attempted fascist coup – ruthless!” an agitated Maduro said in an address broadcast nationwide on radio and television.

Earlier, Maduro’s spokesman Jorge Rodriguez said on state television that a network of mostly retired police officers and soldiers planned to bomb a key government building, seize a Caracas airbase and loot Venezuela’s central bank.

He also said the plotters wanted to edge opposition leader Juan Guaido out of Venezuela’s political landscape.

 

Thousands more National Guard troops to arrive in Tijuana

San Diego Union Tribune – Mexico is deploying 15,000 troops along entire northern border with the United States.

Thousands more National Guard troops are scheduled to arrive in Tijuana on Friday to take unprecedented steps in securing Mexico’s northern border and preventing migrants from crossing into the United States.

On Monday, Mexican army troops removed two migrants from Las Playas where other migrants have clashed with U.S. border agents in recent months. The troops, along with Mexico’s immigration agency, checked identification for people gathered near the Tijuana beach, according to a video recorded by human rights activist Hugo Castro.

 

Burning cigarette may have caused Notre Dame fire

NY Post – A  smoldering cigarette or an electrical malfunction could be what sparked the massive Notre Dame Cathedral fire, Paris prosecutors said on Wednesday.

There’s no evidence the April 15 blaze that gutted the 850-year-old cathedral was deliberate, prosecutors said, following a two-month preliminary probe where investigators interviewed 100 witnesses and examined more than 1,200 clues.

“Several hypotheses have caught the attention of the investigators including that of a malfunction of the electrical system or that of a fire caused by a poorly extinguished cigarette,” said prosecutor Remy Heitz in a press release.

A newly opened judicial investigation will explore those theories and look into the possibility of negligence, Heitz said.

 

U.S. News, Politics & Government

 

Supreme Court says federal courts cannot strike down partisan gerrymandering schemes

USA Today – A deeply divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal courts may not intervene to block even the most partisan election maps drawn by state lawmakers, a decision that allows such gerrymandering to continue unabated.

The 5-4 opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s other conservatives said partisan election maps drawn by North Carolina Republicans and Maryland Democrats are constitutional despite their one-sided nature.

It was a dramatic withdrawal by the nation’s highest court from the political battles that have consumed states for decades, and it was loudly denounced by the court’s liberal justices.

“We have no commission to allocate political power and influence in the absence of a constitutional directive or legal standards to guide us in the exercise of such authority,” Roberts said.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan decried the ruling on behalf of the court’s four liberals. “Of all the times to abandon the court’s duty to declare the law, this was not the one,” she said. “The practices challenged in these cases imperil our system of government.”

The ruling addresses the way election districts are redrawn once every decade in most states – a system dominated by political self-interest that has grown more intense every time the Supreme Court declined to tame it.

 

Supreme Court tosses citizenship question from 2020 census forms

NBC – The court found that while the department of commerce has a right to reinstate the question, it did not provide an adequate justification for doing so.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration cannot include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census form that goes to every U.S. household, giving a win to populous states that said it would discourage legal and illegal immigrants from responding and make the population count less accurate.

The ruling was a setback for the Trump administration’s tough position on immigration. It was also a surprise, because it appeared in April when the case was argued that the court’s five-member conservative majority was prepared to rule that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted within his authority to add the question. They seemed to agree with the Justice Department that Ross’ decision was a rational one, balancing the need for more information against concerns about accuracy. But in the decision Thursday, the court found that while the department of commerce has a right to reinstate the question, it did not provide an adequate justification for doing so.

A census is required every 10 years by the Constitution, and the results determine the size of each state’s congressional delegation. The data is also used to calculate a local government’s share of funds under many federal programs.

 

Doug MacKinnon: Will you survive the coming blackout?

Fox – There are many seemingly never-ending debates: Republicans vs. Democrats; impeach vs. don’t impeach; capital punishment vs. life in prison; wall vs. no wall; legalizing marijuana vs. not; self-driving cars vs. human drivers; Red Sox vs. Yankees; takeout vs. home-cooked; or “Gone With the Wind” vs. any other movie.

All of these issues are stunningly important, right up to the second where cataclysm falls and creates a nightmare scenario that so many fear.

That cataclysm is a complete loss of electricity and every mode of convenience and survival we take for granted.

The largest red flag on this issue in years just waved in South America. Last weekend, tens of millions of people in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay found themselves in a complete blackout. In one moment, they had electricity. The next moment, they had none, and they were catapulted back to the 1800s.

 

Leaks, accusations and staff shuffle: Turmoil inside DHS

AP – Leaks. Pointed accusations. A top official’s resignation. And above all, increasingly dire conditions for migrants — those who make it across the border and those who fail, as captured in the searing images of a father clutching his child, both drowned , on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Ever engulfed in turmoil under President Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has entered a new stage of dysfunction and finger-pointing as the administration continues to rearrange staff and push hardline rhetoric and policies that have failed to contain a surge in illegal border crossings, according to more than a dozen current and former administration officials, congressional aides and people familiar with the events. Many spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

 

Economy & Business

 

Top NRA executive resigns amid tumult

ABC – A high-ranking leader of the NRA has resigned amid growing turmoil in the gun group. Chris Cox has stepped down from his post as the NRA’s chief lobbyist and principal political strategist for the Institute for Legislative Action – the lobbying arm for the NRA, according to Andrew Arulanandum, the NRA’s managing director for public affairs.

Neither the NRA nor Cox have released a statement about his resignation or confirmed any details as to what prompted the move.

 

FORD to slash 12,000 jobs

Reuters – Ford (F.N) said it will cut 12,000 jobs in Europe by the end of next year to try to return the business to profit, part of a wave of cost reductions in an auto industry facing stagnant demand and huge investments to build low emission cars. 

 

Homelessness in Sacramento soars 19%

Sacramento Bee – Even as the city and county of Sacramento pour millions of dollars into ending homelessness, a count this year found 1,905 more people living on the streets, in cars or in shelter beds since 2017, raising the estimated number of homeless people countywide to 5,570.

The federally mandated count, conducted every two years and released Wednesday by homeless nonprofit Sacramento Steps Forward, is the highest ever recorded number of people living without permanent housing in Sacramento County.

It marks a roughly 52 percent jump in homelessness compared to two years ago, when the survey found 3,665 homeless people living in the county. Researchers behind the count say a more accurate increase estimate is about 19 percent when accounting for this year’s new methodology, which doubled the area covered and tripled the number of volunteers conducting the count.

Among the 5,570 estimated homeless people in Sacramento County are veterans, teens and families. Some are mentally ill or struggle with addiction. Almost half are people of color, with black and American Indian people “disproportionately represented” compared to the overall county population. The vast majority are born or from the Sacramento region.

 

Energy & Environment

 

Climate Oops: National Park Begins Subtle Removal of “Gone by 2020” Signs After Glaciers Just Keep Not Being Gone 

RedState – The climate change lobby has been assuring us for years – decades, really – that we are all on the brink of certain death because of global warming or cooling or climate change or whatever the term du jour is at the time. In the ’80s actor Ted Danson campaigned against global cooling, saying we had 20 years to shift course or succumb to the new ice age. Al Gore told us the inconvenient truth of our impending death way back in 2006. In California, former Governor Jerry Brown told his residents that the summer fire season was only going to get worse and worse thanks to global warming. And of course who can forget Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ constant, dire warnings that we only have a mere dozen years left on this planet?

Glacier National Park in M0ntana has been warning about the coming apocalypse by posting signs around the park that say “Gone by 2020”, referring to fears that the glaciers were receding more rapidly than normal and would eventually melt completely, leading to other natural disasters.

However, nature has a way of surprising us. In recent years the glaciers have actually begun expanding again, and park officials have been subtly removing the grim signage and language from their brochures, say visitors from Lysander Spooner University who regularly visit the park.

 

10 Of 10 Coastal Antarctic Stations Show Zero Warming Over Past Decades. Failed Scientists Need To Resign

Government Slaves – Over the past few years, climate alarmists have increasingly been resorting to weather-ambulance chasing, which has necessitated the trotting of the globe in the search of weather anomalies to behold as proof of man-made climate change.

But one place they have been avoiding like the plague is Antarctica as a number of studies have been showing the opposite of what what predicted earlier has been happening down at the South Pole, except for volcanic activity beneath parts of the Antarctic ice shelf.

 

Science & Technology

 

Amazon got clearance to build drones that can carry out surveillance on customers’ homes between deliveries

Business Insider – As Amazon edges closer to making its drone delivery dreams a reality, the company just got a patent approved to let it build drones for on-demand surveillance.

The patent was submitted by Amazon in 2015 and granted approval earlier this month, as first spotted by Quartz. The patent describes how delivery drones could drop in on consenting customers’ houses to check them for things like open garage doors, graffiti, or even a fire.

In order to safeguard the security of neigboring houses, which haven’t given their permission to be filmed by the drones, the patent stipulates that geofencing technology could control the drone’s movements, and “geo-clipped images” would mean the drone would only provide footage of the house it’s supposed to be checking up on.

 

UNLEASHED: Robo-Insect Takes Flight

New Scientist – A solar-powered winged robot has become the lightest machine capable of flying without being attached to a power source.

Weighing just 259 milligrams, the insect-inspired RoboBee X-Wing has four wings that flap 170 times per second. It has a wingspan of 3.5 centimetres and stands 6.5 centimetres high.

The flying robot was developed by Noah Jafferis and his colleagues at Harvard University.

 

Health

 

Research confirms gut-brain connection in autism

Mercola – It’s widely known that autistic children often suffer from gastrointestinal (GI) problems, with those experiencing the worst GI problems often having the most severe cases of autism.

Recent research confirms and further strengthens the theory that the gut plays an important role in the development of ASD. Gut dysfunction in autism may be due to mutations in genes found in both the gut and brain that affect neuronal communication and cause gut dysfunction.

Even without a genetic component, the gut microbiome appears to play an important role in ASD. Previous research has shown autistic children have less diversity and reduced amounts of certain gut bacteria, which may render them more susceptible to the adverse effects of environmental toxins.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s research shows there’s a profound dynamic interaction between your gut, brain and immune system. Her GAPS protocol might be one of the most profoundly important treatment strategies for preventing autism.

Establishing normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in the maturation of your baby’s immune system. Babies who develop abnormal gut flora are left with compromised immune systems, putting them at higher risk for suffering vaccine damage

 

Yoga mats may be filled with antibiotic-resistant microbes, according to study

NaturalNews – According to a recent study published in mSystems, an open access journal run by the American Society for Microbiology, people introduce chemicals to the environment wherever they go. These chemicals called antimicrobials are often used in disinfectants and cleaners to kill microorganisms that can cause diseases. When these chemicals settle in indoor dust and spread in public spaces, they can help microbes develop resistance. In a groundbreaking experiment, researchers examined dust collected from 42 athletic facilities in Oregon and found that samples with high triclosan content contained large amounts of bacteria with multi-drug resistance.

Triclosan is a compound found in sanitizers and cleaning supplies often used in gyms, hospitals, and other public places. The researchers noted a pattern of increasing resistance in places with high triclosan levels, suggesting that gym equipment and yoga mats exposed regularly to this chemical could serve as breeding grounds for microbes that cause drug-resistant infections.

 

Ear acupuncture effective at improving, maintaining effectiveness of substance abuse treatment outcomes

NaturalNews – A recent study published in the journal Behavioural Science suggests using ear acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for those undergoing substance abuse treatment. In the study, the researchers used the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association protocol (NADA) to determine whether it can improve and sustain treatment outcomes when used in concert with traditional therapy.

In sum, NADA protocol, combined with traditional therapy, can potentially improve treatment outcomes for substance abuse.

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