Free Thought Project – As the remaining pockets of ISIS fighters faced imminent defeat in northeast Syria, the United States allegedly gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse: give us your massive caches of gold — or die.
According to reports by Syrian state news agency SANA, U.S. forces struck a deal with ISIS whereby the terrorist group would give up 50 tons of gold across eastern Syria’s Deir el-Zour province in exchange for safe passage.
The precious metal, worth about $2.13 billion, was plundered by the self-designated “caliphate” as its reign of terror spread across Syria and Iraq between 2015 and 2017.
RT – potential confiscation of oil revenues amid US sanctions against the country’s energy sector.
“Venezuela is worried about further sanctions and asset seizures of PDVSA,” Mehmet Ogutcu, chair of the Bosphorus Energy Club, told RT. “Hence the decision to relocate its European headquarters to Russia so that the assets could not be risked.”
According to the expert, the Venezuelan government is struggling to find new buyers for heavy crude, which had been previously sold to US refineries. The US purchased around 500,000 barrels oil per day from Venezuela before Washington introduced economic penalties against PDVSA, freezing $7 billion of the company’s assets.
USA Reissues Travel Warning For Bahamas
CBS – he U.S. State Department re-issued a travel warning this week which recommends visitors use extreme caution in the Bahamas.
Federal officials issued the warning saying that “violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault, is common, even during the day and in tourist areas.”
The warning specifically references New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahamas islands (Freeport), saying they are where “the vast majority” of crimes occur.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
Tulsa World – ndividuals will be able to carry firearms in Oklahoma without a permit or training starting Nov. 1, when a bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt goes into effect.
The bill is the first signed by Stitt since he took office.
“As I traveled all over the state to all 77 counties, I heard from Oklahomans all over that they wanted us to protect their right to bear arms,” Stitt said.
He said he doesn’t think the measure will result in an increase in violence.
“I think the best defense for a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Stitt said.
House Bill 2597, authored by House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, and Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter, passed the Senate earlier Wednesday by a vote of 40-6.
David said 15 states, including three that border Oklahoma, allow what proponents call “constitutional” — or permitless — carry.
Investment Watchblog – The Supreme Court of the United States has rejected World Bank claims of complete legal immunity, ruling that one of its arms can be sued in relation to lending activities.
The 7-1 ruling could also open other American-based international organizations to the threat of lawsuits over financing overseas development.
For the World Bank, it means that it now faces having to defend against a suit by members of a fishing community in Mundra, India, who contend that their homes and livelihoods were damaged by pollution from a coal power plant that was financed by the bank’s private sector lending arm, the Washington, D.C.-based International Finance Corporation.
The Guardian – President says he believes North Korean leader knew nothing about treatment of US student
Donald Trump has said he took Kim Jong-un “at his word” when he denied any responsibility in the imprisonment and torture of Otto Warmbier that led to the US student’s death in 2017.
“Some really bad things happened to Otto,” Trump said. “But Kim tells me that he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.”
KRDO – President Donald Trump slammed Democrats during a news conference Thursday for having scheduled the damning testimony of his former attorney Michael Cohen during his summit with North Korea and accused Cohen of lying.
“I think having a fake hearing like that and having it in the middle of this very important summit is really a terrible thing. They could’ve made it two days later or next week,” Trump said. “But having it during this very important summit is sort of incredible.”
Trump awoke in Vietnam on Thursday while US newscasts were still picking through Cohen’s unsparing testimony. The President did not address the specific allegations Cohen leveled against him, but said his former adviser “lied a lot.”
The President’s comments were his first on the matter since Cohen sat before the House Oversight Committee, a stunning testimony that upstaged Trump’s high-wire diplomacy in Hanoi.
During his seven hours of testimony, Cohen accused Trump of being a “racist,” a “conman” and a “cheat.” He claimed that Trump was aware during the 2016 campaign of his longtime political adviser Roger Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks about the release of hacked Democratic emails. And once again — this time before the cameras — he implicated Trump in federal crimes.
“He lied a lot,” Trump said. “He lied about so many different things.”
Still, Trump said he was “impressed” that Cohen told the truth when asked about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, claiming that Cohen said there was no collusion. Cohen said he did not have evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but did not unequivocally say it did not take place.
Fox – Michael Cohen testified this week that he turned against President Trump over issues ranging from his conduct during the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin to his controversial remarks about the Charlottesville violence in 2017.
But a key Trump administration official, who inadvertently played a central role in Wednesday’s House hearing, has claimed there is another reason for Cohen’s betrayal—that his wife was being threatened with jail time unless he “turned on” Trump.
The assertion was made in a Facebook entry by Department of Housing and Urban Development official Lynne Patton in January. The post has taken on new relevance given Cohen’s testimony Wednesday.
Activist Post – On Tuesday March 5th, a House committee is expected to hold a hearing on an important bill to help protect the 4th Amendment in Missouri. Following the steps below, 10-15 minutes of your time can do a great deal to help this bill pass!
Background: Rep. Ron Hicks (R-Dardenne Praire) filed House Bill 296 (HB296). The proposed law would ban the state – including all agencies and political subdivisions – from using manpower, money, or other resources to help implement or effectuate federal surveillance programs that violate the 4th Amendment. If you’d like to get all the details, you can read our report at this link.
PLEASE TAKE THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS to support this important bill today.
Bill Kidd 573-751-3674 Bill.Kidd@house.mo.gov
Brandon Ellington 573-751-3129 Brandon.Ellington@house.mo.gov
Jerome Barnes 573-751-9851 Jerome.Barnes@house.mo.gov
Mike Haffner 573-751-3783 Mike.Haffner@house.mo.gov
Jeff Pogue 573-751-2264 Jeff.Pogue@house.mo.gov
Adam Schnelting 573-751-2250 Adam.Schnelting@house.mo.gov
Find who is your state representative at this link. Ask your rep to cosponsor and support HB296.
Bonus Step. Contact the House Special Committee on Homeland Security Chair, Ron Hicks.
THANK HIM for introducing this bill. Thank him for promptly scheduling a hearing and debate on it in his committee.
Washington Examiner – Twenty-six House Democrats who signed on to a previous version of the Medicare for All Act have dropped off from the latest bill released Wednesday, as leaders are steering members to focus on shoring up Obamacare instead.
Democrats picked up 40 House seats in November, but the number of lawmakers backing the Medicare for All Act so far has fallen to 107. That is fewer than the 124 co-sponsors the Medicare for All Act finished with in the 115th Congress.
Three who have fallen off are high-ranking: Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the House Majority Whip; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee; and Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., chairman of the House Budget Committee.
In interviews, Democrats insisted they were on the same page on pursuing universal healthcare, saying the priority should be to shore up Obamacare. They vowed that, after working to protect Obamacare, then they would consider other options that would boost insurance rates and reduce the cost of coverage. They are not unilaterally committed to the government becoming the only payer for healthcare.
“We are not going to enact ‘Medicare for All,'” Yarmuth said, alluding to the political realities of facing a GOP-controlled Senate and White House. “We’ll have a pretty good extensive debate on the variables in doing an expanded Medicare solution, and we are going to start that process in the Budget Committee.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who hasn’t backed either version of the Medicare for All Act, has said that he wants to work first on fixing Obamacare.
That’s the approach the healthcare industry is pushing for, and another large portion of the caucus wants to do the same. At least 101 House Democrats came out on Wednesday, just hours after the Medicare for All Act was introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Calif., to push for what they billed as a more realistic goal of pouring billions of dollars into Obamacare to help lower premiums. Some of them were even co-sponsors of the Medicare for All Act.
Breitbart – Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis says he and his deputies “will not comply” if Maryland lawmakers follow through with a long gun licensing and confiscation law.
Lewis told Delmarva Now that he believes lawmakers are punishing residents throughout the state for the out-of-control crime in Baltimore. He said, “Law-abiding citizens are repeatedly being penalized because of Baltimore City’s inability to control their crime. And I’m sorry — I’m not someone’s puppet. I’m going to stand up for what I think is unjust and unconstitutional to the American people, including those living in the state in Maryland.”
He added, “We’re gonna let them know that we are sick and tired of being penalized for Baltimore City’s inability to control crime. If these bills pass, we will not comply.”
RT – Activist and whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, though the summons makes no mention of what she will be questioned about.
The former Army intelligence analyst, convicted in 2013 of leaking military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, has stated she will fight the subpoena. Her legal team is expected to file a motion to quash on Friday morning on constitutional grounds.
“Given what is going on, I am opposing this,” she told The New York Times.
“I want to be very forthright I have been subpoenaed. I don’t know the parameters of the subpoena apart from that I am expected to appear. I don’t know what I’m going to be asked.”
Washington Examiner – Sen. Bernie Sanders’ new deputy national press secretary likely won’t be eligible to vote in the 2020 election due to what she says is her status as an undocumented immigrant.
The hiring of Belen Sisa, an Arizona leftist activist, was announced Wednesday evening. Sisa, who says she was brought to this country illegally from Argentina by her parents at age six, is currently protected from deportation under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Despite her immigration status, Sisa has remained active in liberal politics over the years. In 2016, she worked as a page to the Arizona delegation at the Democratic National Convention and in Latino outreach for Sanders’ 2016 campaign.
Economy & Business
Mises Institute – With scarcely a month left until the date Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union, the monetary czars at the top of the world’s central banks are increasingly coming to terms with the fact that a ‘hard’, no-deal Brexit now seems to be the most likely outcome. Given Parliament’s recent, overwhelming rejection of Theresa May’s long-negotiated Brexit deal, and the clock rapidly running down on any hope for renegotiation, it looks like the type of Brexit looming on the horizon will be verging on a central banker’s worst nightmare: an abrupt disruption to existing institutions, with all the economic uncertainty that entails, rather than the slow, politically-managed transition period May and others were hoping for.
As the formerly remote prospect of a no-deal Brexit draws ever closer, central banks around the world have begun laying out their plans to shield their respective economies from the turmoil many mainstream analysts are expecting. Little wonder that many of these contingency plans centre around the most important, and most dangerous, policy tool in the central banker’s arsenal: their ability to inflate the money supply and keep interest rates artificially low.
In the UK itself, monetary policymakers at the Bank of England have indicated that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a reversal of the Bank’s current gradual normalization of interest rates. After having dropped the important ‘Bank rate’ of interest to the historic low of 0.25% in the aftermath of the June 2016 Brexit referendum, the Bank of England has subsequently raised it again twice, to its current level of 0.75%, by far its highest since the official end of the Great Recession in 2009. However, Gertjan Vlieghe, a member of the Bank’s rate-setting monetary policy committee, recently announced that “in the case of a no-deal scenario I judge that an easing or an extended pause in monetary policy is more likely to be the appropriate policy response than a tightening”. Money markets seem to be even more unambiguous in their expectations, predicting no possibility of a rise in interest rates until at least May 2020.
The story coming out of the Federal Reserve has been much the same. Thanks to the relatively strong recovery in the US economy over the past two years, the Fed has been able to raise interest rates much more quickly than central banks in most other countries. After three rate hikes in 2017 and another four in 2018, the Fed Funds Rate now sits at 2.5%, up from the effective zero rate of 0.25% it maintained between 2008-2015. However, the confidence at the Fed which has allowed this welcome trend seems now to be quaking, due to a range of factors including both Brexit and the Chinese economic slowdown. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell recently made his strongest statement yet against continuing the process of interest rate normalization, arguing that “the case for raising rates has weakened”, and revealing that the Federal Open Market Committee had agreed to take a “patient” approach to future rate hikes. Although the Fed had previously indicated the likelihood of two more rate hikes in 2019, futures markets have reacted to Powell’s speech by predicting no further tightening, and even a slight chance of another fall in interest rates over the next year.
WND – Vice President Mike Pence on Friday warned those attending the Conservative Political Action Conference that Democrats are embracing socialism, “the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and stifled the liberties of millions over the past century.”
Vice President Mike Pence on Friday warned those attending the Conservative Political Action Conference that Democrats are embracing socialism, “the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and stifled the liberties of millions over the past century.”
“It was freedom, not socialism, that’s moving us beyond the prejudices of the past to create a more perfect union and extend the blessings of liberty to every American regardless of race or creed or color. It was freedom.
“And it was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the highest quality of life, the cleanest environment on Earth, and improved the health and well-being of millions around the world. It was freedom.”
He said Republicans “want people to make poor people richer; they want to make rich people poorer.”
“We want to make poverty more rare; they want to make poverty more comfortable. And that’s the choice we face today, men and women, between freedom and socialism, between personal responsibility and government dependence. Where freedom encourages investment, socialism stifles growth. Where freedom welcomes diversity, socialism demands conformity.”
He said those who promote socialism should look at Venezuela.
“Venezuela was once one of the richest and most vibrant democracies in the Western Hemisphere, but under [Nicolas] Maduro’s socialist rule, it’s become one of the poorest and most despotic,” he said. “Today, more than 9 out of 10 people live in poverty in that once-rich country. More than 3 million Venezuelans have abandoned their homes and fled the brutality of the Maduro regime.”
Reuters – The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose on Friday after three days of losses, lifted by optimism about the prospects for a U.S.-China trade agreement, but gains were capped by downbeat manufacturing and consumer reports.
Energy & Environment
RT – A ship is leaking tons of oil into the Pacific Ocean next to a UNESCO world heritage site, with hundreds of tons still inside the vessel waiting to spill into the pristine waters of the Solomon Islands.
Australian officials have warned that an environmental disaster is unfolding and said little progress has been made since the MV Solomon Trader ship ran aground after a cyclone on February 5.
Science & Technology
RT – Attacks by cheap, yet efficient, mini-drones will be the future of warfare and lasers look like the best response to the threat, a retired colonel told RT as Germany announced a successful military laser test.
“Imagine an attack on an important facility with several hundred AI-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), equipped with warheads the size of a hand grenade and capable of flying into an open window or a cockpit of an aircraft,” Mikhail Khodarenok, military analyst and retired colonel in Russian missile defense forces, told RT.
Mini-drones cost relatively little, but can do significant damage by “striking a modern airplane, priced at more than $100 million, at an airfield or destroying a very expensive long-range anti-aircraft missile system,” he said.
Children’s Defence Fund – The death of a child is always a shocking event, but perhaps even more so when a young person dies abruptly and unexpectedly. When a previously healthy child dies because their heart suddenly stops, parents are bound to have questions about “why.”
The federal government defines sudden cardiac death as follows: “The heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating and blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs.” Medical websites make a distinction between sudden cardiac deaths and heart attacks, characterizing the former as an electrical “short-circuit” rather than a problem with circulation. Just what is causing the “short-circuits” has stumped many researchers, who say that identifying the “elusive” causes of sudden cardiac arrest or death in young people is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Ohio doctors who studied the nonfatal occurrence of heart spasms in male adolescents professed that they remained “uncertain” of the cause after finding that none had a family history of heart problems or any other cardiac risk factors.
In some instances, experts have placed the blame on preexisting health conditions such as epilepsy or asthma, or on an underlying cardiovascular or genetic weakness. Other probable culprits include pervasive exposure to microwave electromagnetic fields, which have been documented to provoke cardiac changes that include accelerated or irregular heart rate (tachycardia and arrhythmia) and sudden cardiac death; and environmental factors such as fine particulate matter air pollution (a well-known contributor to cardiovascular disease in susceptible older adults that is now recognized as a risk factor for healthy young individuals as well). Some medical professionals have occasionally noted the potential for sudden cardiac death to result from substance use—whether illicit stimulants or prescription medications (such as ADHD drugs and antipsychotics). All of these factors and more may be at play, but there is one other plausible contributor that most experts studiously ignore—and that is childhood vaccines, many of which clearly list the potential for adverse cardiac effects in their package inserts.
As of 2013, Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) accounted for about one in seven infant deaths (about 3,700 annually), with about 20% thought to be related to cardiac vulnerabilities activated by exogenous stressors.
FoodBabe – The FDA recently banned 7 ingredients used to make “artificial flavors” that have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals (1-2). These ingredients were originally approved in 1964, so have been in our food for decades. This ban would have never happened if it wasn’t for the FDA petition and lawsuit filed by several consumer protection organizations who put persistent pressure on the FDA to take action (3-4).
The banned ingredients are benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether, myrcene, pulegone, pyridine, and styrene* – but you won’t see them on an ingredient label
So any product that lists artificial flavors as an ingredient may contain them, but food manufacturers are not required to tell you.
Artificial flavors are complex chemical mixtures made in a lab using various substances like crude oil or coal tar, and can contain upwards of 100 ingredients (including those just banned). Food companies don’t need to tell you anything about the ingredients actually in their artificial flavors – they just slap “artificial flavors” on the ingredient label – and we are left in the dark about what we are really eating.
Any food company using artificial flavors has been notified of the 7 ingredients banned, but the FDA has given them TWO YEARS to remove them from their artificial flavors.
The FDA and the industry trade group representing these companies has refused to disclose which companies use the banned flavors. And there haven’t been any companies voluntarily telling the public either, because they are not required to.
In other words – if you see “artificial flavors” on an ingredient label, it could contain these banned cancerous substances and food companies are not going to warn you. Up until October 9, 2020 this is perfectly legal!
This is what’s wrong with our food system. Food companies are allowed to continue selling you products with ingredients known to cause cancer in animal studies – without any warning. It’s so outrageous.
The FDA doesn’t care either. In their statement about the banned flavors they said,”rigorous scientific analysis has determined that they do not pose a risk to public health under the conditions of their intended use. The synthetic flavoring substances that are the subject of this petition are typically used in foods available in the U.S. marketplace in very small amounts and their use results in very low levels of exposure and low risk.”
As soon as I learned that the FDA banned these ingredients, I started investigating which food brands were using artificial flavors… Doritos, Cheetos, Jell-O, Oreos, Trix, and Lucky Charms are all spiked with them. But there is one food corporation that I noticed as a BIG offender.
They admitted they’re in the process of removing the banned ingredients from their artificial flavors. This means, yes, these ingredients shown to cause cancer in animals have been used in their products. They are complying with FDA regulations requiring companies to remove them within 2 years.
Our next question was…
What products are these in? Are these banned ingredients in M&Ms? What about Snickers? Skittles? Eclipse Gum?
Here’s the kicker. They refused to tell us.
Their reasoning is that they didn’t want to give us inaccurate information because they are in the process of removing them. We then asked how long they anticipate it will take, and they simply said “as fast as possible”. How fast this is, is anyone’s guess. Remember, the FDA has given food companies two years to stop making products with these flavors – so this does not include products already on store shelves, vending machines, or in your own house. As candy and gum has a very long shelf life, it is likely that even after two years some of the products with these banned ingredients will still be on shelves.
Since they won’t, you might want to err on the side of caution and just avoid ALL of their products with artificial flavors. And that isn’t the only reason to avoid these products – as they are filled with other risky additives like artificial dyes (5) and BHT (6)…
Nexmax – The old saying, “TV rots your brain,” could have some validity for folks as they age.
In a new study, middle-aged people who watched television for more than 3.5 hours a day experienced a decline in their ability to remember words and language over the next six years, British researchers found.
What’s worse, it appears that the more TV you watch, the more your verbal memory will deteriorate, researchers said.
“Overall, our results suggests that adults over the age of 50 should try and ensure television viewing is balanced with other contrasting activities,” said lead researcher Daisy Fancourt. She’s a senior research fellow at University College London.
For the study, researchers relied on data from a long-term study of aging involving more than 3,600 residents of England.
Participants reported the amount of hours of TV they watched daily. They also had their thinking and reasoning skills regularly tested as part of the study.
People who watched less than 3.5 hours of TV a day didn’t seem to suffer any deterioration in their brain power, Fancourt said.
But more than that amount, people became increasingly apt to struggle with words or language in tests conducted six years later.
The decline in language skills is similar to that experienced by the poor as they age, Fancourt said.
Newsmax – The community of bacteria or “microbiome” in a woman’s cervix might be a harbinger of her risk for cervical cancer, a new study suggests.
For the study, researchers used genetic analysis to identify bacteria present in samples from 144 Tanzanian women who had cervical cancer screenings between March 2015 and February 2016.
Of the women in the study, 126 had tested positive for human papillomavirus (HPV), 41 had tested positive for HIV, and 50 had been diagnosed with high-grade lesions likely to become cancerous.
Previous research has shown that HPV is responsible for 99 percent of cervical cancers, and that HIV infection is strongly associated with an increased risk of HPV infection.
Women with the high-grade pre-cancerous cervical lesions had a more abundant and diverse mix of bacteria in their cervical microbiomes than women who had no lesions or less serious lesions, according to the study published recently in the journal mBio.
“There are certain families of bacteria that appear to be associated with the higher grades of pre-cancerous lesions,” said lead study author Peter Angeletti. He is an associate professor at the Nebraska Center for Virology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.