New York Times – A former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned by a nerve agent in Britain this week, the British police said on Wednesday, heightening suspicions that the episode was an assassination attempt by a national government, amid rampant speculation that Russia was responsible.
Al Jazeera – Qatar and the United States have agreed to a $197m sale in upgrades and other equipment for the Gulf nation’s air force.
Al Jazeera – Women of varied ethnicities and religions gather at the Turkey-Syria border on International Women’s Day 2018 to raise awareness of the crimes committed against women in Syria’s prisons.
Al Jazeera – Turkish soldiers working with the Free Syrian Army have advanced on a strategically important town in northern Syria.
Global Research – As the Syrian government rapidly gains ground against the terrorists in East Ghouta, the United States is once again considering military action against Syria under the guise of a “response” to alleged but disproven claims that the Syrian military is using chemical weapons.The Washington Post reports,
The Trump administration has considered new military action against the Syrian government in response to reports of ongoing chemical weapons use, officials said, raising the prospect of a second U.S. strike on President Bashar al-Assad in less than a year.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
Activist Post – Today, the Florida Senate approved a measure that would ban warrantless location tracking and the use of stingray devices to sweep up electronic communications in most situations. The new law will not only protect privacy in Florida, but will also hinder one aspect of the federal surveillance state.
Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) introduced Senate Bill 1256 (SB1256) on Dec. 14. The legislation would help block the use of cell site simulators, known as “stingrays.” These devices essentially spoof cell phone towers, tricking any device within range into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.
Activist Post – Only months after it was disclosed that the Pentagon was using artificial intelligence (AI) to hunt for terrorists, officials have now acknowledged that Google has been collaborating with the Department of Defense to use AI in analyzing drone footage. The disclosure comes amid an uproar among Google employees who aren’t happy to be assisting in the development of military applications.
When multiple anonymous Google employees expressed outrage over the disclosure, as Gizmodo first reported, a company spokesman issued the following statement:
“We have long worked with government agencies to provide technology solutions. This specific project is a pilot with the Department of Defense, to provide open source TensorFlow APIs that can assist in object recognition on unclassified data,” the spokesperson said. “The technology flags images for human review, and is for non-offensive uses only. Military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns. We’re actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine learning technologies.”
Washington Post – President Trump is set to pit the video game industry against some of its harshest critics at a White House meeting on Thursday that’s designed to explore the link between violent games, guns and tragedies such as last month’s shooting in Parkland, Fla.
ABC – Mississippi lawmakers on Thursday passed what is likely to be the nation’s most restrictive abortion law.
The House voted 75-34 in favor of the measure, which would make most abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said he’ll sign the bill. The Mississippi Senate passed the measure on Tuesday.
Breitbart – Florida’s House Democratic Caucus voted unanimously Tuesday to ensure that teachers cannot shoot back if under attack.
All 41 members voted against allowing teachers and school staff to undergo training to be armed for self-defense.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the House, nevertheless, voted 71-42 in favor of arming teachers.
Infowars – Security at America’s airports must move beyond checkpoints toward public areas to adapt to the dynamic threat of terrorism, says the new Transportation and Security Administration chief.
David Pekoske, the new TSA administrator and former U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral said the agency must adapt to the shifting risks from terrorists.
CNN – One person has been taken into police custody in connection with a shooting that killed one student and injured another at an Alabama high school, police said Thursday.
Reuters – President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty on Thursday to additional criminal charges ranging from bank fraud to filing false tax returns.
Economy & Business
ABC – President Donald Trump’s trade and manufacturing adviser says the president’s planned tariffs for steel and aluminum imports would not immediately apply to Canada and Mexico.
The adviser, Peter Navarro, tells Fox Business that Trump intends to sign a proclamation including such a clause favoring the U.S. neighbors.
Navarro says the tariffs would go into effect within 15 to 30 days.
BBC – Eleven Asia-Pacific countries have just signed the trade pact formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In the absence of the US, it has been renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Energy & Environment
RT – Schools are shut and thousands are without power as the northeast of the United States suffers through its second winter storm in a week. States of emergency have been declared in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Science & Technology
Breitbart – The article published in the Wall Street Journal is titled “Facebook Really Is Spying on You, Just Not Through Your Phone’s Mic.” The article outlines a phenomenon that many people have claimed to experience — talking about a product or a destination to a friend, and a short while later receiving ads for the product or cheap flights to the destination they discussed. This leads many to believe that Facebook is accessing users’ phone microphones to listen in on conversations in order to determine what advertisements to display to them. But, according to Facebook, they do not possess the resources to analyze audio from billions of users.
Gardening, Farming & Homesteading
Marketwatch – Opioid overdoses jumped 30% from July 2016 to September 2017 in 52 areas across 45 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. Opioid overdoses increased in the Midwestern region over the same period and spiked 54% in the largest cities in the country.
Daily Mail – Brazil’s yellow fever death toll hits 260: Cases continue to spiral as the country battles its largest outbreak of the killer disease in 18 YEARS
CNN – An outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to chicken salad has sickened another 105 people, bringing the total to 170 in seven states, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. No deaths have been reported, but 62 people have been hospitalized.
American Veternaria – An investigation into multiple Salmonella enteritidis infections that occurred over the last 3 years has identified the likely culprit—pet guinea pigs.
The CDC, several states, and the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service have been investigating this multistate outbreak since December after a cluster of Salmonella enteritidis infections were identified as being closely related genetically