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World News

U.S. seizes North Korean ship it accuses of violating sanctions

Reuters – The United States has for the first time seized a North Korean cargo ship it accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of U.S. and United Nations sanctions, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday.

The ship, known as the “Wise Honest,” was first detained by Indonesia in April 2018. Under an unusual U.S. civil forfeiture action, the vessel is now in the possession of the United States and is currently approaching U.S. territorial waters heading toward American Samoa, U.S. Justice Department officials said.

The announcement comes after North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles on Thursday, its second such test in less than a week and an apparent protest by leader Kim Jong Un after U.S. President Donald Trump rejected his calls for sanctions relief at a summit in February.

The United States filed its seizure warrant for the ship under seal in July 2018, but department officials said the timing of its unsealing on Thursday was unrelated to the missile launches.

US crafting surrender document not a peace plan: Palestine FM

Al Jazeera – The United States is crafting a surrender document, not a peace plan, and the Palestinians will not accept it regardless of how much money is offered, Palestine‘s foreign minister said addressing a United Nations meeting.

Riyad al-Maliki was on Thursday expressing the Palestinian stance on the proposed plan by the Trump administration to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This is not a peace plan but rather conditions for surrender,” al-Maliki said as the US’s Middle East peace negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, listened on. “And there is no amount of money that can make it acceptable.”

“Some ask us, ‘what if they surprise you’; we tell them we would have been more hopeful had they not been deaf to our appeals, blind to Israeli violations and mute, at best, on the fundamentals of peace, when not actively undermining them,” he added.

B-52 Bombers Land in Qatar as U.S. Naval Strike Group Approaches Persian Gulf

Breitbart – U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers ordered by the White House to deploy to the Persian Gulf to counter unspecified threats from Iran arrived at a major American air base in Qatar early Friday morning.

Images released by the U.S. Air Force’s Central Command show B-52H Stratofortress bombers on the ground at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Others landed at an undisclosed location late Wednesday in “southwest Asia,” the Air Force said. The U.S. military in the past has described its presence at both the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates and Al Udeid as “southwest Asia.”

1,000 Israeli Soldiers to Arrive in Honduras to Train Troops, Police on Border Protection

Global Research – A multilateral military treaty between Honduras, Israel, and the United States will see the deployment of 1000 Israeli soldiers at Honduras. They will train the Armed Forces of Honduras (FFAA) and National Police (PN).

The main mission of the troops is to train for border protection to stop migrants fleeing Honduras to the U.S., especially children.

This would be the second time that Honduras is allowing foreign military personnel in the territory and the first time in Israel’s history to send troops abroad.

Apart from border protection, fight against drug trafficking, investigation, and counterterrorism will be offered as well.

According to local news media El Heraldo, the presence of Israeli soldiers is part of bilateral cooperation between the two countries before Honduras transferred its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Israeli army will share space with the Joint Task Force-Bravo (FTCB) of the U.S. at the Jose Enrique Soto Cano air base in Palmerola.

Honduras also has an agreement of more than a million dollars with Israel in terms of purchasing arms, military equipment, and repowering ships and planes. The 10-year agreement was signed in 2016.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Trump picks acting Pentagon chief and former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan to become next secretary of Defense

NBC – President Donald Trump plans to nominate acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to formally take over the top spot at the Pentagon, the president’s spokeswoman said Thursday.                                                 Shanahan, a former longtime executive at aerospace giant Boeing, needs Senate confirmation for the post most recently held by James Mattis.

“Based upon his outstanding service to the Country and his demonstrated ability, President Trump intends to nominated Patrick M. Shanahan to be the Secretary of Defense,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote in a tweet.

“Acting Secretary Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do an excellent job,” Sanders wrote.

Chelsea Manning released from jail after refusing to testify before grand jury

ABC – Chelsea Manning, an anti-secrecy activist and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, has been relea

sed from jail after a grand jury she refused to testify before expired, her attorneys said Thursday. “Today marked the expiration of the term of the grand jury, and so, after 62 days of confinement, Chelsea was released from the Alexandria Detention Center earlier today,” Manning’s legal team wrote in a statement.

Upon release, however, Manning was subpoenaed to appear before a different grand jury, her legal team said, meaning “it is therefore conceivable that she will once again be held in contempt of court, and be returned to the custody of the Alexandria Detention Center, possibly as soon as next Thursday, May 16.”

Chaos erupts as Alabama delays vote to ban abortion – The Alabama Senate delayed until next week a vote on a bill to ban abortion after an uproar over a key amendment.

The Senate abruptly removed a rape and incest exception from the bill without allowing a roll call vote on that decision.

The move shocked Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, who had just said at the Senate mic that he wanted a roll call vote on every question concerning the abortion bill.

Singleton and other Democratic senators strongly objected to Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, who presides over the Senate, for his quick gavel on tabling the rape and incest amendment on a voice vote, meaning there is no recorded vote.

Ainsworth said he followed Senate rules.

As that disagreement simmered, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, moved to delay a vote on the abortion bill until next week.

“We can come back in here on Tuesday and have extended debate and make that final decision,” Marsh said.

700 California public school students stay home to protest LGBT curriculum

Life Site News – Hundreds of California parents protested a controversial proposed curriculum for young students that would incorporate the achievements of LGBT-identifying individuals by keeping their children out of class on Friday.

An estimated 700 students stayed home from school in the 12,000-student Rocklin School District, Fox 40 reports.

An impassioned and packed full board meeting last Wednesday ended in a late-night 3-2 vote to approve the K–5 curriculum approved by the state law that includes the LGBT figures in an effort to be more inclusive in school material.

Trump outlines plans to stop surprise medical billing

Washington Examiner – President Trump announced Thursday his administration is working with Congress on a comprehensive legislative package to outlaw crippling surprise medical bills.

The administration says it is aiming to increase transparency in health services billing. The president said that patients must be told ahead of treatment if a specialist, such as an anesthesiologist or radiologist, is out of their network. Patients should only be billed for out-of-network care if they consent to receiving treatment.

“These bills have ruined people’s lives,” Trump said at the White House.

Economy & Business

Trump Increases China Tariffs as Trade Deal Hangs in the Balance

NY Times- President Trump escalated his trade war with China on Friday morning, raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and taking steps to tax nearly all of China’s imports as punishment for what he said was Beijing’s attempt to “renegotiate” a trade deal.

Mr. Trump’s decision to proceed with the tariff increase came after a pivotal round of trade talks in Washington on Thursday night failed to produce an agreement to forestall the higher levies. The White House said talks would resume again on Friday but it remains uncertain whether the two sides can bridge the differences that have arisen over the past week.

‘New Cold War’: Trade war puts China-US ties at risk

Al Jazeera – There is a grim realisation among China’s leaders that a full blown trade war with the US is now about to become a reality.

PepsiCo ends lawsuits against Indian potato farmers

RT – PepsiCo has withdrawn its lawsuits against Indian potato farmers who were accused of infringing the company’s intellectual property.

The firm had sued the nine farmers over their cultivation of a particular variety of potato, which PepsiCo uses exclusively for its Lay’s potato chips, but last week agreed to stop pursuing the suits.

“It’s a victory for us, but PepsiCo’s decision to file lawsuits against the farmers has sullied their reputation and the company now must apologise,” said lawyer Anand Yagnik, who represents the farmers, at a press conference.

New Federal Legislation Requires Full Audit of America’s Gold Reserves   

Activist Post – U.S. Representative Alex Mooney (R-WV) introduced legislation this week to provide for the first audit of United States gold reserves since the Eisenhower Administration.

The Gold Reserve Transparency Act (H.R. 2559) – backed by the Sound Money Defense League and government accountability advocates – directs the Comptroller of the United States to conduct a “full assay, inventory, and audit of all gold reserves, including any gold in ‘deep storage,’ of the United States at the place or places where such reserves are kept.”

HR 2559 requires more than just a physical assay, inventory, and audit, however. Even if all United States gold can be physically accounted for, it may nevertheless be encumbered with third-party obligations – or otherwise be impaired by bank financialization.

Science & Technology

Here’s who’s aiming to land on the moon within the next decade

National Geographic – From governments to grassroots startups, these are some of the most promising players who have announced lunar missions in the coming years.

Nearly 50 years after Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins completed the first human voyage to set foot on another world, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his spaceflight company Blue Origin have announced a new vision: going back to the moon, this time to stay.

At an invitation-only presentation today at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Bezos argued that to sustainably offer humankind the chance for growth, heavy industry has to move off the surface of Earth and rely on resources from the rest of the solar system, such as the minerals and water ice in the lunar south pole’s Shackleton crater. (Here’s why many space agencies and private groups are looking to visit the moon’s south pole.)

“We get to preserve this unique gem of a planet … There is no Plan B,” Bezos says. “We have to save this planet, and we shouldn’t give up a future for our grandchildren’s grandchildren of dynamism and growth. We can have both.”

In the short-term, Bezos says companies need to build the necessary space infrastructure, so Blue Origin is working on a robotic lunar lander called Blue Moon—as he revealed onstage, dropping a black curtain to reveal a full-size mockup of the lander.

According to Bezos, Blue Moon is propelled by liquid hydrogen and can precisely land up to 6.5 metric tons of cargo on the moon’s surface in its largest configuration. A naval-inspired cargo system will let the lander deliver up to four rovers at once. The company has already signed deals with groups including MIT, the German aerospace firm OHB, and Airbus to develop the project.

Bezos and Blue Origin have not specified when Blue Moon will first take flight. Its launch vehicle, the company’s New Glenn rocket, is slated for its first flights in 2021. But Bezos says that the lander’s extended version could help take astronauts back to the moon by 2024, which is NASA’s current stand goal.

“I love this; this is the right thing to do,” Bezos says. “We can help meet that time line, but only because we started three years ago.”

Turkish data protection watchdog fines Facebook $270,000 over privacy breaches

RT – Turkey’s Personal Data Protection Authority (KVKK) has fined social media giant Facebook some $270,000 for a data breach last year that reportedly affected around 300,000 users across the country.

The decision to fine Facebook a total of 1.65 million lira over the breach was taken in April, the KVKK said Friday. The breach itself occurred back in September 2018, and for 12 days third-party applications were able to access photos of the users due to an “API bug.”

Some 300,000 Facebook users in Turkey might have been affected by the bug, according to the watchdog. Facebook itself acknowledged the issue back in December. Worldwide, the bug affected nearly seven million users, who might have had their photos compromised.

The fine itself comes in two parts, with one million lira (some $164,000) for failure to react in time to fix the issue, and the rest for not notifying Turkish authorities as soon as possible after discovering the bug.


New Study Links Glyphosate Pesticides to Advanced Liver Disease

Care2 – Glyphosate-based pesticides like Monsanto’s RoundUp have been making headline news these days, largely due to the many trials against Monsanto (now owned by Bayer AG) whose plaintiffs allege that RoundUp caused their cancer. For those people who haven’t been following the news, Monsanto recently lost multiple landmark cases in which juries awarded victims of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma millions of dollars in damages.

But, the potential link between glyphosate and cancer are not the only things we should be considering, according to a new study. The researchers at the University of California found that these pesticides are linked to serious liver disorders as well.

The new study published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found a link between glyphosate-based pesticides and a severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The condition may also increase the risk of even more serious conditions like cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The Profound Healing Properties of Sesame Seed

GreenMedInfo – When it comes to dietary superfoods, there may be nothing on Earth that packs as much healing power into as small a package as the sesame seed. Scientific studies have revealed that sesame seeds are a superior source of cancer-fighting lignans, bumping flaxseed from its “top-seeded” position!

Anyone who is interested in natural health is likely to be acquainted with the potent healing powers of flaxseed, 70 of which are discussed here. Thanks to two significant studies done in the 1990s, flaxseeds gained fame for their high lignan content and phytoestrogens, biologically active elements with antioxidant and chemoprotective properties. These studies found flaxseed to be the richest source of lignans, with concentrations 100-800 times higher than any other plant food tested. This led many health-conscious people to believe that flaxseed is the superior source of lignans, especially for vegans. But this is not the end of the high-lignan seed story.

An important 2005 study has put a better option on the table. Published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, researchers compared the amount of mammalian lignan that was produced from metabolized sesame seed and flaxseed. Two specific mammalian lignans, enterolactone (ED) and enterodiol (EL), were the focus of the study. Plant lignans are converted by the bacterial flora in the colon into mammalian lignans (from the plant, to the mammal). Structurally similar to estrogen, lignans are credited for flaxseed’s ability to reduce the risk of hormone-related diseases such as cancers of the breast, ovary, and prostate. Lignans have the ability to bind to estrogen receptors in cells, an action that has an inhibitory effect on the metastasis process. Lignans are chemoprotective, anti-carcinogenetic, and pack an anti-cancer punch!

In this study, healthy, postmenopausal women ate food bars containing 25 grams of unground flaxseed, sesame seed, or a combination of the two seeds. Study participants were divided into three groups who were instructed to supplement their diets with one of the three types of food bars for four weeks. Metabolized lignans were measured via urinalysis, which was taken at the beginning of the study to determine baseline, and after four weeks of food bar consumption. Urinalysis results showed consumers of sesame seeds produced a greater amount of urinary lignans (albeit not significantly greater) than flaxseed or mixed seed consumers.

A 2012 study echoes these findings in a study of breast cancer tumor growth. Researchers compared sesame and flax seed as inhibitors of breast cancer tumor growth in mice. After 8 weeks of feeding either flaxseed lignan, sesame seed lignan, or a control (inert) substance, both flax and sesame were found to reduce breast tumor size, with sesame having the superior effect. It is suspected that sesame seed is a better inducer of apoptosis, programmed cell death, than flaxseed, giving sesame seed an anti-cancer boost.

Why Splenda Is Not So Splendid, and Safety Has Been Questioned

Mercola – Cooking with sucralose generates chloropropanols, part of a class of toxins known as dioxins, which have been linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. Other toxic compounds created when sucralose is exposed to heat include polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans.

Research shows sucralose — sold under brand names such as Splenda, Splenda Zero, Zero-Cal, Sukrana, Apriva, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren and Nevella — is metabolized and accumulates in fat cells.

Many studies have linked artificial sweeteners to an increased risk for obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome — the very conditions for which the sweeteners are promoted.

Sucralose reduces gut bacteria by as much as 50%, preferentially targeting bacteria known to have important human health benefits. Splenda has also been shown to exacerbate gut inflammation and intensify symptoms in people with Crohn’s disease.

Research published in 2016 found male mice experienced a significant dose-related increase in malignant tumors and cancer of the blood, bone marrow and the lymphatic system when fed higher doses of sucralose

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