July 7, 2020

Today’s News: November 11, 2019

World News

Australian state declares emergency, faces ‘catastrophic’ fire danger

NBC – Australia’s most populous state declared a state of emergency Monday as dozens of fires ravaged the countryside with authorities warning of “catastrophic” fire risk — the highest level of bush fire danger.

New South Wales state emergency services minister David Elliott said residents were facing what “could be the most dangerous bush fire week this nation has ever seen,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Three people have died in the fires that destroyed more than 150 homes since Friday, according to state police and fire officials.

Hong Kong Police Reportedly Fire Live Rounds, Hit At Least One Protester

AFP – A Hong Kong police officer shot at masked protesters on Monday morning — hitting at least one in the torso — during clashes broadcast live on Facebook, as the city’s rush hour was interrupted by protests.

Footage showed a police officer drawing his sidearm in the district of Sai Wan Ho as he tried to detain a masked man at a road junction that had been blocked by protesters.

Another masked man then approached the officer and was apparently shot in the chest area, quickly falling to the ground, clutching his left side. His condition was not clear.

Seconds later, two more live rounds were fired by the officer during a scuffle and another masked man went to the ground, although the footage was less clear as to whether he was struck.

Police could later be seen detaining the two men on the ground. The first man had a pool of blood next to him, his body limp as officers moved him around and apparently tried to tie his hands.

The second man was conscious and talking.

A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to AFP that live rounds were fired at more than one protester in Sai Wan Ho and that a statement would be issued.

On Wall anniversary, Germany urges US to reject ‘egoism’

AFP  – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the United States to be a “mutually respectful partner” and reject nationalism, in a clear salvo aimed at US leader Donald Trump as Germany on Saturday marked 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Recalling the United States’ key role in helping to bring down the hated Wall separating communist East Germany from the capitalist West, Steinmeier said he still hears the late American president Ronald Reagan’s cry of “tear down this wall” at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

But in a swipe at Trump’s America First policy and his insistence on building a wall on the southern border with Mexico, Steinmeier voiced a yearning for a return of the transatlantic partner of the past.

“This America as a mutually respectful partner, as a partner for democracy and freedom, against national egoism — that is what I hope for in the future too,” said Steinmeier.

The German president’s sharp words, as he opened festivities at the spot where Reagan once stood, underlined growing tensions between the traditional allies.

Germany has been deeply rattled by Trump’s go-it-alone attitude on issues ranging from Iranian nuclear policy to trade with Europe and climate change.

From Washington, Trump sent a message of congratulations for the commemoration, adding that the US “will continue working with Germany, one of our most treasured allies, to ensure that the flames of freedom burn as a beacon of hope and opportunity for the entire world to see.”

But unlike the optimism at previous commemorations of the epochal event on November 9, 1989 that brought the communist regime crashing down, three decades on, the mood has soured as the Western alliance that helped secure the liberal democracy is riddled with divisions.

Within Germany too, a chasm has opened up with the far-right gaining a strong foothold in the former communist east on the back of its nationalist and anti-immigration message.

For Steinmeier, “a new wall has arisen that cuts through our country — a wall of frustration, a wall of anger and hate”.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Texas Republican reiterates call to protect Ukraine whistleblower’s identity

Politico – Republican Rep. Will Hurd on Sunday broke with members of his party who have been calling for the release of the Ukraine whistleblower’s identity, though he agreed with his party’s calls to have Hunter Biden testify in the first public impeachment hearings set to begin this week.

Hurd, a retiring Texas Republican who spent years in the CIA, told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that outing the whistleblower by compelling their testimony in a public hearing would send a chilling message to potential whistleblowers in the future.

Nikki Haley claims top aides tried to recruit her to ‘save the country’

SMH – Two of US President Donald Trump’s senior advisers undermined and ignored him in what they claimed was an effort to “save the country,” former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley claims in a new memoir.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly sought to recruit her to work around and subvert Trump, but she refused, Haley writes in a new book, With All Due Respect, which also describes Tillerson as “exhausting” and imperious and Kelly as suspicious of her access to Trump.

“Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley wrote.

“It was their decisions, not the president’s, that were in the best interests of America, they said. The president didn’t know what he was doing,” Haley wrote of the views the two men held.

Tillerson also told her that people would die if Trump was unchecked, Haley wrote.

Giuliani Associate Says He Gave Demand for Biden Inquiry to Ukrainians

The claim by the associate, Lev Parnas, is being vigorously disputed.

NYT – Not long before the Ukrainian president was inaugurated in May, an associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s journeyed to Kiev to deliver a warning to the country’s new leadership, a lawyer for the associate said.

The associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump’s political rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid, the lawyer said.

Louisiana’s Democrat Governor Wants More Control on Gun Shows

Breitbart – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) wants more control on gun shows in the the form of expanded background checks.

Baton Rouge’s The Advocate reports Edwards wants to expand background checks to cover “all commercial sales.” This would outlaw the private purchase of firearm at a gun show.

Edward’s support of expanding background checks to gun shows is very popular among Democrats at the federal level, too. And those Democrats often defend the push by cloaking it in a desire to make us safer; to keep criminals from acquiring guns. However, numerous studies have shown that criminals do not get their guns at gun shows.

For example, on August 30, 2015, Breitbart News reported an University of Chicago Crime Lab study on Cook County jail inmates which showed inmates who had used guns acquired those firearms on the street rather that outlets like guns shows and the Internet.

And on January 15, 2019, Breitbart News reported a Department of Justice study showing less than one percent of prisoners who used a gun in crime acquired that gun via a gun show.

On the other hand, nearly every high profile public attacker of recent memory acquired his guns via a background check.

Things Get A Little Awkward On MSNBC When Alabama Student Says ‘Jeffrey Epstein Didn’t Kill Himself’ Live On Air

Daily Caller – A University of Alabama student sneaked in a “Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself” while being interviewed live on MSNBC about President Donald Trump’s policies.

The Saturday segment of “MSNBC Live with Kendis Gibson” featured reporter Monica Alba interviewing several pro-Trump students, one of whom expected a “very positive reaction” for Trump’s attendance at the Alabama-LSU game that she felt would likely include “either a standing ovation or at least a lot of cheering.”

Then, Alba turned to a male student named Parker, who was wearing a pro-Trump button.

“Why do you like him so much and what policies stand out to you?” she asked.

“I would say mainly just the no-nonsense policies and especially since Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself,” the student said, followed by an awkward, “That’s awesome. Just totally perfect.”

“All right,” Gibson could be heard sardonically saying off-air. 

Bezos Begged Bloomberg To Run In 2020

ZeroHedge – After Amazon decided not to open a New York City headquarters in February, CEO Jeff Bezos made a phone call to the city’s former mayor.

Bezos wanted to know if Bloomberg would consider running for president in 2020 – which the New York billionaire said ‘no’ to at the time.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, asked Bezos if he would reconsider putting their HQ2 in New York, to which Bezos similarly said ‘no,’ according to Recode.

As Recode notes, it’s understandable that Bezos would endorse an alternative to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – both of whom want to separate him from billions of dollars with their new wealth tax proposals.

Both Democratic Senators have also been vocal critics of Amazon – ranging from knocking the company’s notoriously poor working conditions in its warehouses, to its growing power over various industries. Warren has notably proposed a plan to break up Amazon and other tech giants.

According to the report, some believe a Bloomberg run would actually help Warren’s chances by weakening moderate democrat Joe Biden.

Michael Flynn Tries to Get His Guilty Plea Thrown Out in Russia Investigation

Military – Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, is seeking to have his guilty plea to lying to the FBI during the Russia investigation thrown out — a risky legal strategy that could irritate the federal judge who will sentence him next month.

In seeking to dismiss the case, Flynn’s lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to hold prosecutors in contempt of court for withholding evidence. They also have embraced what appear to be unrelated conspiracy theories pushed by Trump and his allies to discredit federal investigators.

Legal experts said it is clear from court filings that the real audience for Flynn’s moves is not Sullivan, a no-nonsense judge who has little patience for defendants seeking to duck responsibility for their crimes. It is the president who named Flynn national security adviser after the 2016 election — and then sacked him after less than a month on the job.

“Flynn is playing to Trump,” said James Cohen, a law professor at Fordham University in New York. “You don’t evaluate these arguments based on them making sense. You evaluate them on the basis of whom they are making happy. That would be Trump. Flynn wants a pardon.”

Flynn’s scheduled sentencing on Dec. 18 represents a legal denouement of sorts in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s sprawling investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. He pleaded guilty in December 2017.

Go back to California’: Wave of newcomers fuels backlash in Boise

LA Times – This city sure knows how to roll up the welcome mat — that is, if you happen to move here from California.

Just consider last week’s mayoral election. It was the most competitive race in recent memory, a referendum on growth in the rapidly expanding capital of Idaho. And candidate Wayne Richey ran on a very simple platform: Stop the California invasion.

His basic plan to fulfill that campaign promise? “Trash the place.”

Richey figured that would be the best way to keep deep-pocketed Golden Staters from moving to his leafy hometown. He blames them for pushing home prices and rents up so high that Boiseans can’t afford to live here on the meager wages most Idaho jobs pay.

Veteran News

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Donald Trump Has Fired, Demoted, or Suspended over 8,000 Veterans Affairs Employees Since Taking Office

Breitbart – President Donald Trump has relieved over 8,000 Veterans Affairs employees for failing their duty since becoming the president, according to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

“The standard is if you don’t live up to your oath if you don’t live up to the standards that our veterans expect, that you will be asked to leave,” Wilkie told reporters in a press conference on Friday. “This is a transformational moment in our history.”

Wilkie said accountability was a signature promise from President Trump, particularly after the Veterans Affairs scandals in Phoenix in 2014 and 2015.

Under Trump, he said, VA employees as high as network directors down to the lowest employees were removed for not performing their job to the proper standards.

“This is, I think, one of the strongest statements that we can make: That it is a new day at VA,” Wilkie said.

Trump spoke about the importance of Veterans Affairs accountability in October, during a speech on health care at The Villages in Florida.

“Do you remember all of the bad stories that used to be about the VA?” he asked. “Now you don’t see that because they have accountability.  We can fire bad people. We fired a tremendous number of really bad people that should’ve been fired years ago. I don’t like firing people, but I like firing people that don’t treat our vets great, that aren’t doing their job.”

Wilkie praised Trump for delivering the largest budget for the VA Department in its history and noted that the department in 2018 achieved the highest patient satisfaction rates in its history at 89.7 percent.

He also touted the success of the MISSION Act, allowing veterans the ability to have the choice to seek care in the private sector when Veterans Affairs could not give them the care that they needed.

“This puts veterans at the center of their healthcare decisions, not the institutional prerogatives of VA, but veterans,” he said.

Alleged Military Benefits Scam Targets Thousands of Veterans

Breitbart – An investigation by two South Carolina journalists has led to the filing of criminal and civil lawsuits against the alleged culprits in an investment scam that has targeted thousands of veterans, forcing many of them into bankruptcy.

Over the past year, Kirk Brown and Carol Motsinger of South Carolina’s Greenville News have been conducting the investigation into alleged scams that involved “the buying and selling of military benefits,” a practice which, the journalists observed, “at least seven judges have ruled violates state and federal laws.”

According to Greenville News’s investigative series called Indebted, the alleged scams duped at least 3,000 victims across the country in at least 33 states, leaving many of them deeply indebted.

Many of the investors said they had no idea their savings were used to buy monthly military income. Some who did know thought they were helping veterans. One investor served in the Vietnam War. Another’s father was in the Coast Guard during World War II.

In an interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, Motsinger said judges have ruled that the practice of buying and selling monthly military benefits violates “anti-assignment laws.”

The alleged scams target veterans by offering them a ready amount of cash in exchange for all or part of their monthly military benefits for a determined period of time.

She added, in one case, a veteran in Minnesota who wanted a cash advance of $2,700 for reliable transportation, ended up owing $27,000 on that advance.

Motsinger said veterans have been especially easy to target because they have a “guaranteed stream of income.”

Stress Disorders Tied to Risk for Life-Threatening Infections

Newsmax – People who have stress disorders like PTSD may be more vulnerable to potentially life-threatening infections, especially if they are diagnosed at younger ages or dealing with other psychiatric issues, a recent study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 144,919 people diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), adjustment disorders common after a major life change like a death or move, and other stress-related conditions. They also looked at data for 184,612 siblings of these subjects who didn’t have a stress disorder, along with more than 1.4 million unrelated individuals without these disorders.

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Economy & Business

America’s Richest 1% Now Own As Much Wealth As The Middle And Lower Classes Combined

ZeroHedge – Two weeks ago we pointed out that even as (or rather, because) stocks hit daily all time highs, we now have mass public unrest (on and off) in: France, Spain, Algeria; Iraq: Lebanon; Egypt; Russia; Hong Kong; Venezuela; Chile; Ecuador; and Bolivia.

The is a simple reason for this social anger: an unprecedented wealth and income divide as a result of constant central bank interventions in capital markets, which have made upward social mobility virtually impossible and stagnant wage growth the norm, and nowhere more so than in the US, where as Bloomberg reports citing the latest Fed data, “one-percenters” now hold almost as much wealth as the middle- and upper-middle classes combined, as a result of the relentless ascent in stocks which added another $1 trillion in market value in just the past week, bringing the total to $82.7 trillion.

Here are the facts: as the NBER recently reported, in 2016 the richest one percent of households held more than half of all outstanding stock, financial securities, trust equity, and business equity, and 40 percent of non-home real estate. The top 10 percent of families as a group directly owned over 93% of all stock and mutual fund ownership.

Moreover, despite the fact that almost half of all households owned stock shares either directly or indirectly through mutual funds, trusts, or various pension accounts, the richest 10 percent of households controlled 84 percent of the total value of these stocks, though less than its 93 percent share of directly owned stocks and mutual funds.

And with the stock market soaring to new highs, it will hardly be a surprise that the “top 1%” of American households have enjoyed huge returns in the stock market in the past decade, ironically enough using data from the Federal Reserve, which is directly responsible for this unprecedented wealth distribution. And, as Bloomberg notes, “those fat portfolios have America’s elite gobbling up an ever-bigger piece of the pie.”

In specific terms, this means that the very richest 1% had assets of about $35.4 trillion in the second quarter, or just shy of the $36.9 trillion held by the tens of millions of people who make up the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile of Americans — much of the middle and upper-middle classes.

Commenting on this unprecedented wealth divergence that was last observed a few years before World War II, Lakeview Capital’s chief market strategist Stephen Colavito said that people can’t get much of a return on certificates of deposits and other passive investments, “so they’ve pumped money into stocks and propped up the market overall.”

Actually, the one who is “propping up the market overall” is the Fed, which following a mini repo market crisis sparked by JPMorgan launched “NOT QE”, and injected $280 billion in fresh liquidity in just the past two months, pushing the Fed’s balance sheet above $4 trillion for the first time since February.

At this point, wealth becomes a feedback loop: “The wealthier that the wealthy get, the more opportunity they have,” Colavito said.

It’s also why angry populist movements have become an ever more powerful force on both the left and right, demanding either wealth redistribution, higher taxation of outright punishment of those billionaires who have benefited from the Fed’s artificial levitation of the stock market. In many countries around the globe, this anger has spilled over on the streets as millions protest for social change, on many occasions with violence.

Their anger is only set to grow, because as Bloomberg notes it may not be long before “1-percenters” surpass the middle and upper-middle classes combined. Household wealth in the upper-most bracket grew by $650 billion in the second quarter of 2019, rising to $35.5 trillion, while Americans in the 50th to 90th percentiles saw a $210 billion gain.

KSL investigates the secret score that determines how a company will treat you

KSL – If you have ever owned a smartphone, shopped online, bought an airline ticket or used a credit card, you are being secretly scored in ways that can impact your wallet. The scorers are businesses we buy products and services from every day.

They are called Customer Lifetime Value or CLV scores. All sorts of retailers and businesses use them to judge our value as consumers.

“They have detailed information on every single transaction,” said Andrea Thomas, a marketing professor at the University of Utah.

“They have algorithms that show how people like you have acted in the long term. So, then they can assign a customer lifetime value score to you individually and then act on that,” she said.

The scores can determine what products and ads we see online, the prices we pay, even how long we are put on hold when we call customer service. And the best treatment goes to those with the best scores.

“People with a certain CLV score will get popped to the top if you’re calling. You’ll be the next call we answer. Or, we look at you and say, ‘Ok, we’re actually going to give you a deeper discount or more flexible terms because of the value that you are as a consumer,’” Thomas said.

While CLV scores are specific to each company, here is how they work in general: Retailers link transactions to individuals, add a dash of demographics like age, marital status and zip codes, then pepper in some proprietary algorithm and voila – a score to measure our reputations.

“They can tell whether you are being too expensive for them,” Thomas said. “Whether it’s fraudulent or not, you start to get a reputation as a consumer, as being somebody that isn’t worth the customer service hassle.”

f you shop often without being enticed by deals, your CLV score is probably higher. But, if you complain often, buy things only when they’re deeply discounted or return items often, your score probably stinks. We say probably because most businesses will not tell you what your score is.

“It’s not your right as a consumer right now,” Thomas said. “Nobody has legislated that it’s your right to see it and to have input into it like they have other scores like your credit score.”

That did not sit well some of the consumers we spoke to on the street.

“It’s maddening,” said Laurie Hewitt. “It’s not a fair shake, really. I mean, we’re doing them a favor.”

Vicki Smoot expressed a similar sentiment. “If they’re tracking us and taking data on us, then we should be able to ask for our score,” she said.

Goldman faces probe after entrepreneur slams Apple Card algorithm in tweets

David Heinemeier Hansson railed against the Apple Card for giving him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got.

Reuters – A probe into Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s credit card practices has been initiated after tweets from a tech entrepreneur alleged gender discrimination in the new Apple Inc card algorithms that are used to determine credit limits.

In a series of Twitter posts starting on Thursday, David Heinemeier Hansson railed against the Apple Card for giving him 20 times the credit limit that his wife got, Bloomberg reported on Saturday. (https://bloom.bg/2X4IX2X)

Hansson, who is the creator of web-application framework Ruby on Rails, didn’t disclose any specific income-related information for himself or his wife but said they filed joint tax returns and that his wife had a better credit score, the report said.

New York’s Department of Financial Services confirmed that an investigation was being conducted.

Andrew Williams, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, declined to comment on whether Hansson had contacted Goldman regarding the concerns raised on Twitter because the bank does not discuss matters involving individual customers publicly.

The Apple Card, launched in August, is Goldman’s first credit card. The Wall Street investment bank has been offering more products to consumers, including personal loans and savings accounts through its Marcus online bank.

The Department of Financial Services “will be conducting an investigation to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex,” a department spokeswoman told Reuters in a statement.

“Any algorithm that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class violates New York law.”

The iPhone maker says the card would be synched with iPhone users’ Apple Wallet and could be used to buy Apple products at a discount. (Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru and Elizabeth Dilts in New York Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Science & Technology

The rise of microchipping: are we ready for technology to get under the skin?

As implants grow more common, experts fear surveillance and exploitation of workers. Advocates say the concerns are irrational

The Guardian – Microchip implants are essentially cylindrical bar codes that, when scanned, transmit a unique signal through a layer of skin. Mostly, they have been used to organize products or warehouses or identify livestock and stray pets, though there has been some human experimentation.

In 1998, Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at Reading University, had a chip implanted in his hand both to demonstrate that it was possible, and as a way of exploring the transhumanist idea that fusing technology with the body is the next step in humanity’s evolution.

Österlund first became aware of microchipping technology several years after Warwick’s project, when his friend made a copy of his dog’s chip and implanted it under his own skin. They were both part of the body modification scene in Sweden and frequently experimented with new techniques, such as branding and septum piercing. “The dog chip was kind of a practical joke, so that when my friend went to the vet he could be identified as his own pet labrador, or whatever,” Österlund told me. “But the idea of doing something more with implants stuck with me.”

In 2013, Österlund stumbled upon a German company selling industrial-grade microchips online. Unlike the chips used in pets, which can only transmit a single identification number, these devices were enabled with a communications protocol called NFC, which can be programmed to perform simple tasks.

Österlund ordered a batch and wrote a basic program that paired his Samsung 5 to the microchip, so that it would automatically call his wife when he picked up the phone. On the first implant attempt, Österlund accidentally broke the tiny fuse in the chip while sterilizing it. But the second attempt stuck – when he touched his phone, it automatically triggered a call to his wife.

“It was like my body was online,” he said. “It was my very own Johnny Mnemonic moment.”

Excited, Österland reached out to a friend called Hannes Sjöblad, who was associated with the transhumanist community in Sweden. Sjöblad was impressed with Österland’s experiment and invited him to hold a demonstration at Epicenter, a tech-focused co-working space in Stockholm where Sjöblad was the “chief disruption officer”.

Other young innovators and startup founders at Epicenter were intrigued with Österlund’s implant, and soon, he and Sjöblad were hosting “chips and beer” evenings. Österlund would implant microchips over alcoholic beverages and share ideas about what new cyborg applications were possible.

“In no time, Epicenter was updated to be biochip compatible and suddenly we were opening the front door and printing documents with the implants,” Sjöblad told me. “It was all community-based development and it was super exciting.”

Today, Österlund and Sjöblad have their own microchip-focused businesses. Österlund’s Biohax is aiming to simplify identity and access in the digital world, offering a replacement to the seemingly endless collection of passwords, keys, tickets, cards that clutter our lives. “With the chip, it’s all in this one tiny device that is impossible to lose,” he said.

Sjöblad’s business, Dsruptive, which is based out of a university in southern Sweden, approaches microchipping as an extension of the wearable health tracking industry. Sjöblad believes that by placing a device under the skin, instead of wearing it like a Fitbit, data collection will be greatly improved. “Swipe it with an iPhone and you will be able to get your blood oxygenation, temperature profile, heart rate patterns, breathing patterns,” he said. “For people who want to optimize their health, this would be a game changer.”

There are other companies pushing the limits of what microchip implants can do, most notably the Seattle-based Dangerous Things, which sells a variety of bio-enabled devices, including multi-colored LED lights that light up beneath the skin. But Österlund believes that Sweden will be the focal point of cyborg innovation. “The national railway is already compatible with my chips and as a country we are planning to be totally cashless by 2023,” he told me. “I guess here you can see an example of how it can be done.”

But Urs Gasser, executive director at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, believes scaling up beyond the Swedish tech-hub environment to a broader market will be more legally and ethically tenuous than Österlund might expect.

“This experiment has so far happened in a wealthy country, among very digitally savvy people,” he said. “And while having a chip may play out nicely for well-educated people in Sweden who are part of a digital hub, I question how this will play out for, say, a worker in a warehouse.”

Putin calls for worldwide ‘moral rules’ to control AI-powered killer robots

Daily Star – nventor Elon Musk , scientist Stephen Hawking , and even 60s rocker Roger Daltrey have sounded warnings about the dangers of artificial intelligence.

Now Russian President Vladimir Putin has added his voice to the call for a set of international guidelines to control the powerful new technology.

Speaking at the AI Journey conference in Moscow, Putin said: “Discussion is currently underway on social aspects and implications of the use of artificial intelligence. It is a very important issue.

“I suggest that the professional community and companies should contemplate drawing up a set of moral rules for interaction between humans and artificial intelligence.

Pointing out that “human beings are the highest value,” he added: “Technology must not be invented for the sake of technology.

”Our main goal is sustainable and harmonious development, a higher life quality and new opportunities for citizens.”

Survey reveals almost every state in the union has become dependent on drone use for various mundane and dangerous tasks

NaturalNews – In 2016, state transportation agencies did not operate a single drone. Now, just three years later, almost every state in the union is dependent on drone use for various mundane and dangerous tasks. A new survey from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials reveals that thirty-six states have certified drone pilots on staff, as government agencies start to rapidly use this powerful technology to their advantage. Drones are now being used to inspect bridges, monitor wildlife, predict road wear, investigate accidents, and spray herbicides. Governments are just now learning how to use drones to their advantage and it won’t be long before they are used abusively and intrusively.

State transportation agencies rapidly expanding their usage of drones

Drones are expanding the scope and vision of government employees, making difficult tasks much easier to carry out. In Utah, government employees are flying drones into the mountains to monitor avalanche activity. The drone helps agencies predict future mudslides and avalanches, and can help the government map out where drainage ditches will be needed.

Transportation agencies in North Carolina are using drones to search for endangered birds and their nesting habitats. In some places, a large building project cannot be approved unless agents check the general area for protected birds and other wildlife. Now agents don’t have to fan out in helicopters and all-terrain vehicles to get the job done. Drones are doing the work much faster, with less risk.

In the open plains of Kansas, agents are utilizing drones equipped with thermal technology to help identify sick cows in the field. This helps farmers stop the spread of disease in their cattle. Sophisticated cameras can also pinpoint tiny cracks in roads and help agencies locate where roads need to be fixed before potholes show up. Drones are also being used to investigate traffic accidents, and they are able to take bird’s-eye view pictures to investigate the cause of the accident.

As government drone use increases, abuses will inevitably occur

As drone use increases, abuses will occur, as with all technology. For one, drones are currently being used to spray herbicide on invasive plants near shorelines. Widespread application of herbicide affects the diverse ecology that is needed to support life on Earth. Glyphosate use, banned in the city of Miami, is one of the reasons why Florida’s manatees are dying at an alarming rate. State transportation agencies will inevitably pay no mind to the toxicity of glyphosate and they will spray it at will, using drones to apply the herbicide to hard-to-reach areas.

Eyes in the sky, equipped with thermal technology, drones are just waiting to be abused by government employees and contractors. Over time, state transportation agencies may use drone fleets to not only investigate accidents, but to watch traffic and monitor people’s driving habits, to allegedly prevent accidents before they occur. These sophisticated flying cameras will inevitably assist government’s effort to write citations and collect revenue from the public.


Sunlight Improves Gut Health

Mercoal – Recent data show that the fat-soluble hormone known as vitamin D modulates your gut microbiome, creating a healthier environment. This is likely one of the reasons sunlight has a positive effect on those suffering from inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it’s manufactured by the skin after exposure to UVB from the sun; insufficiency is associated with heart disease, lupus and stroke and may exacerbate chronic gut inflammatory diseases.

RNA sequencing of stool samples from before and after the study intervention showed UVB light altered and improved the gut microbiome in women whose vitamin D levels were low, but didn’t have an impact on those whose levels were higher.

The combination of overusing antibiotics and getting low sunlight exposure may be driving societal alterations in the gut microbiome, leading to inflammatory diseases. Your best first option is sensible sun exposure, followed by phototherapy devices and then vitamin D supplementation.

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Cancer and cruciferous vegetables: This incredible compound in broccoli and kale can stop tumors from growing

NaturalNews – In American households, it’s common to find mothers encouraging their children to eat their greens. Most children and even some adults refuse to eat vegetables, missing out on the many health benefits they can provide. Now, recent evidence suggests a link between cruciferous vegetables – like broccoli and kale – and preventing cancer.

A study published in the journal Science identified a compound, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and turnips, which suppressed tumor growth in mouse models of prostate cancer.

Eat your leafy greens to combat cancer

Cancer starts developing with changes in a single cell or even a small group of cells. These cells will start to grow rapidly and begin invading other tissues. The World Health Organization reports that cancer is the second leading cause of death, causing about 9.6 million deaths worldwide.

Previous research has already established that cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, and broccoli have cancer-fighting compounds that can interfere with genes that promote cancer growth. (Related: Cruciferous vegetables proven to prevent breast cancer.)

For the current sturdy, a research team led by Pier Paolo Pandolfi, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, explored the functions of PTEN, a phosphatase and tumor-suppressing protein whose activity is the most frequently deleted, mutated, or deactivated in human cancers. According to Pandolfi, this gene is “one of the most important tumor suppressors in the history of cancer genetics.”

Tumors cells are found to exhibit lower levels of PTEN, which raises the question of whether restoring the activity of these genes to their normal levels in cancer cells can unleash their tumor-suppressing capabilities.

To answer this question, the researchers conducted a series of experiments on cancer-prone mice and human cells. Through the results, the researchers discovered that WWP1, an enzyme that promotes cancer growth, played a role in inhibiting the function of PTEN.

The research team, which consisted of members representing institutions in the US, China, Taiwan, India, Australia, and Italy, analyzed the molecular structure and biochemical activity of WWP1 through a computer model to enable them to pinpoint a molecule that could bind the enzyme and block its function. This revealed that the compound I3C did, in fact, neutralize the effects of WWP1 and restored the potent tumor-suppressing abilities of PTEN.

“We found a new important player that drives a pathway critical to the development of cancer, an enzyme that can be inhibited with a natural compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables,” said Pandolfi. “This pathway emerges not only as a regulator for tumor growth control but also as an Achilles’ heel; we can target with therapeutic options.”

Evening Meals Can Harm Female Heart

Newsmax – Late dinners and heavy evening snacking do no favors for women’s hearts, a new study suggests.

Researchers at New York City’s Columbia University found that those who ate more of their daily calories in the evening had a higher risk of heart disease.

One cardiologist who looked over the new findings wasn’t surprised by the effect.

“The way metabolism, circadian rhythm, cortisol/insulin cycles work, they do not and cannot support heavy meals in the evening hours,” said Dr. Evelina Grayver.

“Not only are our bodies not meant to digest at late hours, we are also less mobile at night, thus the calories we consume are not being expended as energy,” said Grayver, who directs the coronary care unit at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York.

The new study involved 112 women, average age 33, whose heart health was assessed at the start of the study and then again one year later. The women recorded what they ate for one week at the start of the study and for one week 12 months later.

Most of the women ate some food after 6 p.m., but those who consumed a higher proportion of their daily calories in the evening tended to have had poorer heart health, say a team led by Nour Makarem, a Columbia associate research scientist.

In fact, with every 1% increase in calories consumed after 6 p.m., heart health declined accordingly.

Specifically, women who ate more of their daily calories in the evening were more likely to have higher blood pressure, higher body mass index and poorer long-term control of blood sugar.

Similar findings occurred with every 1% increase in daily calories consumed after 8 p.m., according to the study, which is to be presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, held Nov 16 to 18 in Philadelphia.

“So far, lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have focused on what we eat and how much we eat,” Makarem said in an AHA news release. But he said that the when of eating may be important, too.