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World News

Rothschild wants to help Saudi Binladin Group restructure debt

RT – Multinational investment banks Rothschild and Moelis have been shortlisted to advise on restructuring about $15 billion of debt at Saudi Arabia’s biggest construction firm, Saudi Binladin Group.

According to Bloomberg, citing its sources, the investment banks made bids last month for what would be one of the Middle East’s biggest debt revamps. People familiar with the matter said Ken Moelis, the founder and CEO of Moelis, travelled to the kingdom to lead the process.

The sources added that Goldman Sachs Group had also bid to work in an advisory role, but had not been shortlisted to work on the restructuring project. No final decisions have been made, the sources said.

The Saudi Binladin Group, one of the largest construction companies in the world, which was behind some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest projects, is restructuring debt after the kingdom delayed payments to contractors. The company was badly hit by the downturn in the building sector in recent years due to falling oil prices.

The government took about a 37-percent stake in the firm from the Bin Ladin family to “settle outstanding dues” after Bakr Bin Laden, the half-brother of Al-Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, was swept up in a so-called corruption crackdown two years ago.

Martial Law Unfolding In Iraq: 30 Protesters Shot, Internet Blackout, 24-Hour Curfews

Activist Post – Now in their third day, mass anti-government protests across Iraq have resulted in 30 dead and over 1000 wounded, amid a brutal police crackdown which has involved unprepared security forces firing live rounds on demonstrators.

Several major cities are now under curfew and the government has cut internet access for much of the country. In a signal of just how dire and growing the mayhem is, Iran has now sealed key border crossings with Iraq just ahead of an annual Shia pilgrimage this month, where crucial Iran-Iraq border crossings swell with pilgrims.

Iraqi television confirmed the Khosravi border crossing was closed, with more potentially to follow, per Reuters.

Baghdad is now under round-the-clock curfew as of Thursday, after unrest started Tuesday, reportedly driven chiefly by youth and fueled by popular anger over corruption, unemployment, and the lack of basic services.

Government authorities have said extreme measures are necessary to prevent “infiltrators” from attacking police and public property.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam invokes emergency powers, announces face mask ban

CNBC – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Friday invoked emergency powers and banned face masks, saying the order goes into effect Saturday.

Consequences for breaking the ban include up to one year in jail and a fine of 25,000 Hong Kong dollars ($3,187). Violators must be prosecuted within a year of the date on which the prohibition was broken, according to a copy of the ban.

In a press conference, Lam said the face mask ban was necessary because “almost all protesters who carry out vandalism and violence covered their face.”

“The purpose was to hide their identity and evade the law and they have become more and more daring,” Lam said.

The ban also empowers police to ask people in public places to remove items covering their face in order to identify them. It also allows officers to remove the covering if the person does not comply. Failing to remove a mask when a police officer asks carries a fine of 10,000 Hong Kong dollars ($1,275) and up to six months in jail.

She noted, however, that the mask ban contains certain exemptions “to cater for legitimate needs.”

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Video: Donald Trump argues with reporter over Ukraine question – BBC News

Donald Trump clashed with a journalist during a press conference with Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö.

Pelosi defends Schiff after being pressed about his ‘parody’ of Trump’s Ukraine call: ‘He did not make it up’

Fox – After Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was criticized for reading a “parody” of President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended his actions Thursday and claimed he did not embellish any of the facts.

Schiff, who read the dramatization of Trump’s call during acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire’s hearing, improvised parts of the transcript for effect, and later tried to frame it as satire.

“I want the American people to know what that phone call was about. I want them to hear, it. So yeah [the parody’s] fair,” Pelosi told “Good Morning America” on Thursday. “It’s sad, but it’s using the president’s own words.”

“Those weren’t the president’s words, it was an interpretation of the president’s words. They’re saying he made this up,” ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos countered.

“He did not make it up,” she replied.

“Look, I want to tell you something — when I took the oath of office to support and defend the Constitution as my colleagues have done as well, I did not say, I will do this as long as the Republicans can understand the Constitution.

“So the fact that their loyalty is to Trump and not the Constitution is not going to slow down or impair our ability to keep the Republic.”

Trump Administration Used Potential Meeting to Pressure Ukraine on Biden, Texts Indicate

President also called on China to investigate former vice president and his son

WSJ – The Trump administration sought to use a potential meeting between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart as leverage to press Kyiv to investigate Joe Biden, newly released text messages showed, as President Trump called on China to also investigate his political rival.

The president’s efforts to persuade Ukraine in a July phone call to investigate Mr. Biden have already set off an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, who are looking at whether the president abused the power of his office for political gain.

Ukraine to Review Criminal Case of Firm Linked to Biden Son

WSJ – Ukraine’s general prosecutor’s office said Friday it is reviewing past investigations into the owner of a gas company linked to former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s son, raising the possibility of reopening the probes amid pressure from President Trump.

Any steps toward reopening the cases, or implicating Mr. Biden’s son in the process, would be the strongest signal yet from Kyiv that it will abide by Mr. Trump’s entreaties over the past several months to investigate Burisma Group, one of Ukraine’s biggest private gas-production…

POLL:  45% support impeachment

17% of respondents in the USA Today/Ipsos survey said they don’t know if the House should vote to impeach the president

Market Watch – In a new sign of how support is growing for the impeachment effort launched last week, a poll out Thursday has found that 45% of Americans believe the House of Representatives should vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

Some 38% of respondents to the USA Today/Ipsos survey said the House should not vote to impeach him, and 17% said they didn’t know.

Further, 44% of Americans think the Senate, which would be expected to hold a trial of the president after a House impeachment vote, should vote to convict Trump, while 35% said the Senate shouldn’t and 21% said they didn’t know, according to the poll.

The survey shows a noteworthy partisan split on the issue, with 74% of Democrats favoring a House vote to impeach Trump, compared with 17% of Republicans and 37% of independents.

The USA Today/Ipsos poll comes a week after a Morning Consult survey found 43% of voters believed Congress should start impeachment proceedings against Trump, up from 36% support in a Sept. 20-22 survey.

Bernie STILL in hospital

Daily Mail – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders hasn’t left the hospital since Tuesday night, and is still recovering from an operation to place two stents in a blocked artery.

But the 78-year-old socialist firebrand, the oldest person in the 2020 field, plans to be on stage for a Democratic presidential primary debate on October 15 in Ohio.

Sanders canceled a string of presidential campaign events on Wednesday after suffering what a spokesman said was ‘chest discomfort’ that required the stents.

Tlaib: Democrats looking into how to arrest Trump officials

Fox – Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Democratic lawmakers are exploring how to arrest White House officials who do not comply with congressional subpoenas.

Tlaib, D-Mich., told Detroit constituents at her “Congress, Coffee, and Conversation” event on Tuesday that lawmakers are focused on how best to take cabinet members into custody. “This is the first time we’ve ever had a situation like this,” she said. “So they’re trying to figure out, no joke, is it the D.C. police that goes and gets them? We don’t know. Where do we hold them?”

An America Rising PAC tracker caught Tlaib on video speculating what could happen to Trump administration officials held in contempt of Congress. The congresswoman pointed to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr, who were both held in criminal contempt of Congress for defying congressional subpoenas.

The House of Representatives voted to ask the Justice Department to prosecute Barr and Ross by a margin of 230 to 198. It was the second time in U.S. history a sitting cabinet member was held in criminal contempt of Congress. The first was former attorney general Eric Holder, whom the Republican-controlled House held in contempt in 2012 after Holder refused to turn over documents pertaining to the Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.

Tlaib said her colleagues are “trying to tread carefully” in this “uncharted territory.”

“I will tell them they can hold all those people right here in Detroit,” she joked. “We’ll take care of them and make sure they show up to the committee hearings.”

Supreme Court to Tackle Gay Rights, Guns, Abortion and Trump

Newsmax – The U.S. Supreme Court’s new term opens on Monday with the conservative majority in a position to take a more aggressive rightward turn on divisive issues including abortion, gay rights and gun control while also refereeing legal brawls involving President Donald Trump.

The court has moved to the right since Trump took office, with a 5-4 conservative majority that includes two justices he appointed: Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

“We will likely see the court move further and faster in a rightward direction,” said Irv Gornstein, executive director of Georgetown University Law Center’s Supreme Court Institute.

The justices are due to tackle a larger number of consequential cases than they did in their previous term, and they could end up producing more 5-4 rulings along ideological lines with the conservative justices on the winning end and the four liberal justices in dissent, according to court experts.

There were few such rulings in the term that ended in June. In one of the biggest rulings of the last term, conservative Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberals in blocking Trump from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census that opponents called an effort to intimidate immigrants into not taking part in the decennial population count.

The nine justices on Tuesday will hear their first major case: on whether gay and transgender people are protected by a landmark federal civil rights law that bars employment discrimination.

On Nov. 12, they will weigh the legality of Trump’s move to end a program created by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants – mostly Hispanic young adults – who were brought into the United States illegally as children.

The court has arguments scheduled for Dec. 2 in the first major gun rights case in decade, although the justices potentially could dismiss it because the New York City law being challenged by gun rights advocates has been amended since the litigation began. Other gun-related cases wait in the wings for possible action by the justices.

Hacking a voting machine is getting easier

Fox – At the world’s premier hackers convention, hacking a voter system was as easy as ever, according to media reports.

A summary of the “Voting Village” event posted last week said hackers at Defcon “compromised every single machine over the 2.5-day event, many of them with trivial attacks that require no sophistication or special knowledge on the part of the attacker.”

“In most cases, vulnerabilities could be exploited under election conditions surreptitiously…an attack that could compromise an entire jurisdiction could be injected in any of multiple places,” according to a full version of the report.

In many cases, physical ports were unprotected, passwords were either left unset or in their default configuration and security features went unused or in some cases, were disabled, the report added.

Attendees were given access to over 100 machines at the event, including direct-recording electronic voting machines, electronic poll books, Ballot Marking Devices, Optical scanners and hybrid systems.

One machine, based on an old PC hardware, had no BIOS password set on the machine. The BIOS (Basic Input Out System) controls the basic functions of a PC.

“Consequently, participants were able to boot an arbitrary operating system off a live CD… Ultimately, the device was used as an entertainment device, amusing visitors with Nyan Cat,” the full version of the report said.

On another system, a keyboard and Ethernet connection could be plugged in by simply removing the top of the machine’s case. The casing is secured by only by 3 screws and does not have any tamper-evident seals. “Immediate root access to the device was available simply by hitting the Windows key on the keyboard,” the report continued.

MGM Agrees to Pay Las Vegas Shooting Victims Up to $800 Million

NBC – Victims of the Las Vegas massacre agreed to settle their lawsuits, for $735 million to $800 million, against the hotel where America’s deadliest mass shooting happened, lawyers said Thursday.

MGM Resorts International and attorneys for about 4,440 plaintiffs, said the final amount of money awarded will depend on the number of plaintiffs who choose to take part in the settlement.

“While nothing will be able to bring back the lives lost or the undo the horrors so many suffered on this day, this settlement will provide fair compensation for thousands of victims and their families,” Robert Eglet, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, told reporters in Las Vegas on Thursday.

The court will appoint independent claims administrators, who will create procedures for allocating settlements to claimants, according to Eglet.

The process will be long and settlement payouts could take as long as the end of next year, Eglet said.

Government group pulls video after it stirs talk of designer babies

The Hill – The National Academy of Sciences deleted a tweet and a video it had posted earlier in the week over concerns that it condoned the making of designer babies.

According to The Associated Press, the government-funded group’s now-deleted tweet read: “Dream of being stronger? Or smarter? Do you dream of having a top student or star athlete? Or a child free of inheritable #diseases? Can human #GeneEditing eventually make this and more possible? #TheScienceBehindIt Take the quiz!”

The video and the tweet touched on an ethical gray area in growing technology.

Dr. George Q. Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School, told the AP that “the video gives the inaccurate impression that gene editing can give positive traits without any potential downsides —the definition of hubris. We are not there yet.”

The Academy’s official stance is that gene editing should only be used for disease prevention purposes. Academy spokeswoman Molly Galvin told the news outlet that the goal of the video was to educate the public on the complex subject.

Following an initial article by the AP, the Academy removed the video and tweet and released an apology, saying that the video “left the misimpression that the use of genome editing for the ‘enhancement’ of human traits is permissible or taken lightly.”

Americans Spent More on Taxes in 2018 Than on Food, Clothing and Health Care Combined

CNS News – Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2018 than they did on the basic necessities of food, clothing and health care combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

The survey’s recently published Table R-1 for 2018 lists the average “detailed expenditures” of what the BLS calls “consumer units.”

“Consumer units,” says BLS, “include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons living together who share major expenses.”

In 2018, according to Table R-1, American consumer units spent an average of $9,031.93 on federal income taxes; $5,023.73 on Social Security taxes (which the table calls “deductions”); $2,284.62 on state and local income taxes; $2,199.80 on property taxes; and $77.85 on what BLS calls “other taxes.”

The combined payments the average American consumer unit made for these five categories of taxes was $18,617.93.

At the same time the average American consumer unit was paying these taxes, it was spending $7,923.19 on food; $4,968.44 on health care; and $1,866.48 on “apparel and services.”

These combined expenditures equaled $14,758.11.

So, the $14,758.11 that the average American consumer unit paid for food, clothing and health care was $3,859.82 less than the $18,617.93 it paid in federal, state and local income taxes, property taxes, Social Security taxes and “other taxes.”

Suspended Virginia officer who turned undocumented immigrant over to ICE will return to duty

Fox – A Virginia police officer suspended for turning an undocumented immigrant over to federal agents will return to duty, officials said Thursday.

Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. said he agreed with a recommendation to reinstate the officer after an update from the department’s internal affairs division.

“We have one of the best police forces in the U.S. and I have confidence that our officer will represent us well throughout his career,” Roessler said in a statement.

The unidentified officer was suspended while the police department investigated his conduct at a Sept. 21 traffic crash. While handling the incident, the officer learned one of the drivers didn’t have a driver’s license.

A check of his information revealed the driver had an immigration violation to his name for failing to appear for a deportation hearing.

The officer cited the driver for not having a license and contacted agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who were nearby.

The driver was placed in federal custody for three days and released with an ankle monitor. At the time, Roessler said the officer was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Since 2007, the department has prohibited its officers from confirming a person’s immigration status and detaining them solely based on civil violations of immigration law.

A Doctor Who Prescribed 500,000 Doses of Opioids Is Sent to Prison for 40 Years

The Guardian – A doctor who prosecutors said ran a medical practice in Virginia like an interstate drug distribution ring was sentenced on Wednesday to 40 years in prison for illegally prescribing opioids.

Dr Joel Smithers was sentenced in US district court in Abingdon. Judge James Jones sentenced Smithers to 40 years. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life.

Smithers was convicted in May of more than 800 counts of illegally distributing opioids, including oxycodone and oxymorphone that caused the death of a West Virginia woman.

Authorities say Smithers prescribed more than 500,000 doses of opioids to patients from Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee while based in the small western Virginia town of Martinsville from 2015 to 2017. Martinsville has a population of roughly 13,000.

Apollo 11 shocker: Buzz Aldrin’s face discovered in iconic photo

Fox – That’s one small step for a man, one giant edit for mankind.

The iconic image of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin looking at the flag on the surface of the Moon has been given a new lease on life after an amateur photographer restored the image to reveal Aldrin’s smiling face.

Andy Saunders, a property developer from England, said that he used photo enhancing technology used by astronomers and hours of hard work to clean up the image. Aldrin is seen smiling at the camera being held by Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface.

“I wonder how many people would realize based on the original image that Buzz is visible,” Saunders said in comments obtained by SWNS. “It must have been viewed billions of times. What’s interesting is it’s one of the most iconic images of all time and it has been holding this detail which I’ve managed to reveal.”

At the start of MTV’s heyday, the photo was used by the television station to market itself, replacing the flag with its logo.

Saunders, from Cheshire, England, said that he spent hours working on the photo, brightening and darkening it, sometimes just a few pixels at a time, eventually revealing Aldrin’s smiling face behind the helmet glass.

“Although I’m the first to do it, it’s really not that technical,” Saunders added. “I just use photo-processing equipment and dedication. I alter the contrast, reduce the sound and edit the highlights on the countless amount of layers.”

The 45-year-old Saunders said that once he was able to see Aldrin’s facial features, he worked tirelessly to tweak the saturation and contrast, using a process he called “dodging and burning” before Aldrin’s grin was revealed in full. He was quick to add that “nothing is copied into the photo” and that he simply enhanced it.

Saunders, who released the image to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the most famous space exploration mission in history, has also used his editing skills on Apollo 11 visuals before. Earlier this year, he touched up a photo of Armstrong stepping off Apollo 11 that he said took him several days.

Economy & Business

Parmesan Cheese Consortium Head Calling for Urgent EU Intervention Plan Amid US Tariffs

Sputnik – The European Union should develop an urgent intervention plan to mitigate the negative effects from the new US tariffs on the Italian cheese and other popular European food products, Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano (the official name of the original Parmesan cheese) Consortium, said.

Italian cheese — in particular, Pecorino, Parmesan and Provolone — Italian ham, French wine, and Scotch whisky are among the products that have been targeted.

“Italy, which has nothing to do with the Airbus consortium (France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom are part of it), now has to pay a truly senseless price. At this point, an extraordinary European Union intervention plan is needed in order to prevent the traumatic effects of the duties on the supply chains involved,” Bertinelli said in a written statement obtained by Sputnik.

The US market is the second-biggest export market for Parmigiano Reggiano. With the new tariffs, the price for a kilo will rise from current 2.15 US dollars to around six dollars.

“Parmigiano Reggiano is a very high-quality product. We will do our best to ensure that American consumers are aware of the value of our ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ [PDO] products, so that they prefer to spend a few dollars more to get the authentic ‘King of Cheese’ on their tables,” the president of the consortium said.

Cheese producers are “embittered because one of the strongest sectors” of the economy was hit, Bertinelli said.

Italian wine, pasta and olive oil do not fall under sanctions.

According to Coldiretti association, representing Italian agricultural producers, the damage from the new US tariffs to the Italian agriculture would amount to 500 million euro (about $550 million) per year.

However, the WTO is expected to rule later this year on the tariffs that the European Union may impose over the illegal subsidies received by US aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

On Wednesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled on what tariffs the United States can impose on EU goods, following the WTO decision earlier this year that EU aircraft manufacturer Airbus had benefited from unfair subsidies. The US Trade Representative’s office released the list of EU agricultural products that would be subject to 25-percent tariffs starting from October 18.

Food Is Freedom: How Washington’s Food Subsidies Have Helped Make Americans Fat and Sick

Activist Post  – Farm subsidies are perhaps the ultimate, but secret, third rail of American politics. While entitlements are discussed out in the open, farm subsidies are rarely talked about – even though they are the most expensive subsidy Washington doles out.

All told, the U.S. government spends $20 billion annually on farm subsidies, with approximately 39 percent of all farms receiving some sort of subsidy. For comparison, the oil industry gets about $4.6 billion annually and annual housing subsidies total another $15 billion. A significant portion of this $20 billion goes not to your local family farm, but to Big Aggie.

(Note that this $20 billion annual farm subsidy figure doesn’t take into account the 30+ years of ethanol subsidies to the corn industry nor export subsidies to U.S. farmers issued by the USDA.)

The government never properly explains why this is. Certainly small farmers are growing their crops at enormous risk. However, it’s not clear that agriculture is any different than other high-risk industries – especially because the United States is blessed with some of the most fertile farmland in the world, and a highly skilled labor force.

Subsidies don’t just cost taxpayers, an expense that might properly be justified by showing a return on investment. Subsidies also provide powerful disincentives against innovation, as well as cost effectiveness and diversification of land use.

There is also a strong case to be made that farm subsidies are a major driver of the obesity and cancer epidemic in the United States. Every time Washington interferes in the private sector, they are picking winners and losers. The winners chosen are companies producing food that’s high in calories and low in nutritional density – and that helps make Americans sick and fat, because it distorts what food is available at what price.

While President Trump has sometimes discussed reducing farm subsidies, the solution to the problem is much more radical – the total elimination of all farm subsidies from the federal budget.

Energy & Environment

‘Flash Drought’ Hits South as Record Heat Continues Into Fall.

WSJ – Across the South, residents and farmers are facing a double punch of hot temperatures and drought even as the calendar has flipped to fall.

The thermometer hit 101 degrees in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, breaking the record by 6 degrees. Twice last month, the city saw a high of 103.

Science & Technology

Paralyzed man walks again with brain-controlled exoskeleton

Reuters – A man paralysed from the shoulders down has been able to walk using a pioneering four-limb robotic system, or exoskeleton, that is commanded and controlled by signals from his brain.

With a ceiling-mounted harness for balance, the 28-year-old tetraplegic patient used a system of sensors implanted near his brain to send messages to move all four of his paralysed limbs after a two-year-long trial of the whole-body exoskeleton.

The results, published in The Lancet Neurology journal on Thursday, bring doctors a step closer to one day being able to help paralysed patients drive computers using brain signals alone, according to researchers who led the work.

But for now the exoskeleton is purely an experimental prototype and is “far from clinical application”, they added.

“(This) is the first semi-invasive wireless brain-computer system designed… to activate all four limbs,” said Alim-Louis Benabid, a neurosurgeon and professor at the University of Grenoble, France, who co-led the trial.

He said previous brain-computer technologies have used invasive sensors implanted in the brain, where they can be more dangerous and often stop working. Previous versions have also been connected to wires, he said, or have been limited to creating movement in just one limb.

In this trial, two recording devices were implanted, one either side of the patient’s head between the brain and the skin, spanning the sensorimotor cortex region of the brain that controls sensation and motor function.

Each recorder contained 64 electrodes which collected brain signals and transmitted them to a decoding algorithm. The system translated the brain signals into the movements the patient thought about, and sent his commands to the exoskeleton.

Over 24 months, the patient carried out various mental tasks to train the algorithm to understand his thoughts and to progressively increase the number of movements he could make.

Commenting on the results, Tom Shakespeare, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it was “a welcome and exciting advance” but added: “Proof of concept is a long way from usable clinical possibility.”

“A danger of hype always exists in this field. Even if ever workable, cost constraints mean that high-tech options are never going to be available to most people in the world with spinal cord injury.” (Reporting by Kate Kelland Editing by Gareth Jones)


Puberty-blocking drugs given to transgender kids have killed at least 6,370 of them, FDA report finds

NaturalNews – New data released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveals that since the year 2012, more than 40,000 people have suffered adverse reactions from taking the hormone-blocking pharmaceutical Lupron (leuprolide acetate), while at least 6,370 people have died since 2014 from taking the drug.

Commonly prescribed to children who’ve been manipulated into believing that they’re “transgenders” in need of a chemical “sex change,” Lupron has reportedly caused more than 25,500 “serious” reactions in patients just in the last five years, according to the FDA. Many of these adverse reactions appear to have occurred in patients who were prescribed the drug for off-label uses, such as in transgender “therapy.”

While Lupron is clinically approved for use in treating “precocious puberty,” or abnormally early puberty that could cause other health problems, it is not approved for use in children with gender dysphoria. But this is how Lupron is now being widely prescribed, putting the health of children with gender dysphoria at serious risk.

The pediatric version of the drug is also largely mislabeled, as it comes with minimal warnings about long-term side effects, some of which could be irreversible. Such irreversible side effects include permanent damage to the endocrine system, which is responsible for producing the sex hormones that sustain life.

“It’s a serious condition that endocrinologists would normally diagnose and treat because it interferes with development, but in [gender dysphoria] cases they’re inducing this disease state,” says Michael Laidlaw, a Rocklin, California-based endocrinologist, as quoted by the National Catholic Register.

Asian ginseng found to be effective for treating MS, autoimmune diseases

NaturalNews – Panax ginseng, commonly known as Asian ginseng, is an herb used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments and replenish energy. Today, Asian ginseng is taken as a supplement to improve overall health and well-being. The roots of P. ginseng are an excellent source of bioactive components, such as ginsenosides, which are believed to be the main reasons for its health benefits. In a recent study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, researchers from Jeju National University in South Korea continued their investigations on the therapeutic capacity of an acidic polysaccharide found in P. ginseng (APG). They tested this compound on a murine model that closely mimics the characteristics of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). They found that APG has the potential to treat MS as it can alleviate the symptoms of this disease.

Kudzu shows promise in treating Type 2 diabetes

NaturalNews – Diabetes is one of the most challenging public health problems in the world. Because of its increasing prevalence and mortality rates, as well as its serious complications, more effective and natural treatments are needed. Traditional herbs have a long history of being used for treating diabetes, and one of these herbs is kudzu (Pueraria lobata).

In a review of studies published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, it was suggested that a natural isoflavone from kudzu called puerarin showed promise as an adjuvant agent in treating diabetes. Researchers from the University of Macau and Zunyi Medical University in China summarized the beneficial effects and underlying mechanisms of puerarin on diabetes and its complications.

Based on the data the researchers collected, puerarin from kudzu can reduce blood sugar levels, improve insulin resistance, and protect islets. The isoflavone can also inhibit inflammation and reduce oxidative stress. In addition, it can inhibit the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and reducing sugar, and the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) – both of which play a role in aging and the development or worsening of diabetes.

Furthermore, puerarin may also improve diabetes by delaying and improving diabetes complications, such as cardiovascular complications, diabetic nephropathy, diabetic retinopathy, and diabetic neuropathy. However, the efficacy of puerarin is relatively low and its safety on humans is yet to be clarified, although it has low toxicity on experimental animals.

How Music Therapy Can Help Anxious Children

NaturalBlaze – According to the NHS, as many as one in eight children aged five to 19 faces a mental health challenge. And a significant number of these cases are related to some form of anxiety.

Of course, a degree of anxiety or worry may be a normal state of affairs for young people – particularly when moving schools, or around exam time. But for some, anxiety can affect every aspect of their daily lives.

One effective method of providing support for this anxiety is music therapy, where music becomes the main tool the therapist uses to connect and work with the patient. This kind of therapy has been shown to be effective when treating children and young people living with anxiety based disorders.

Hepatitis A Outbreaks Flare Up Across USA

WSJ – Hepatitis A outbreaks are erupting across the U.S., reversing a long-term decline in cases of the viral liver disease and prompting state health departments to mount aggressive vaccination campaigns.

Since outbreaks of the virus began in 2016, 30 states have reported cases totaling more than 26,000, including 268 deaths.

Good News

Victory! EFF Wins Access to License Plate Reader Data to Study How Law Enforcement Uses the Privacy Invasive Technology

EFF, ACLU SoCal Successfully Sued Los Angeles Police and Sheriff’s Departments For ALPR Data

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) have reached an agreement with Los Angeles law enforcement agencies under which the police and sheriff’s departments will turn over license plate data they indiscriminately collected on millions of law-abiding drivers in Southern California.

The data, which has been deidentified to protect drivers’ privacy, will allow EFF and ACLU SoCal to learn how the agencies are using automated license plate reader (ALPR) systems throughout the city and county of Los Angeles and educate the public on the privacy risks posed by this intrusive technology. A weeks’ worth of data, composed of nearly 3 million data points, will be examined.

ALPR systems include cameras mounted on police cars and at fixed locations that scan every license plate that comes into view—up to 1,800 plates per minute. They record data on each plate, including the precise time, date, and place it was encountered. The two Los Angeles agencies scan about 3 million plates every week and store the data for years at a time. Using this data, police can learn where we were in the past and infer intimate details of our daily lives such as where we work and live, who our friends are, what religious or political activities we attend, and much more.

Millions of vehicles across the country have had their license plates scanned by police—and more than 99% of them weren’t associated with any crimes. Yet law enforcement agencies often share ALPR information with their counterparts in other jurisdictions, as well as with border agents,  airport security, and university police.

EFF and ACLU SoCal reached the agreement with the Los Angeles Police and Sheriff’s Departments after winning a precedent-setting decision in 2017 from the California Supreme Court in our public records lawsuit against the two agencies. The court held that the data are not investigative records under the California Public Records Act that law enforcement can keep secret.

“After six years of litigation, EFF and ACLU SoCal are finally getting access to millions of ALPR scans that will shed light on how the technology is being used, where it’s being used, and how it affects people’s privacy,” said EFF Surveillance Litigation Director Jennifer Lynch. “We persevered and won a tough battle against law enforcement agencies that wanted to keep this information from the public. We have a right to information about how government agencies are using high-tech systems to track our locations, surveil our neighborhoods, and collect private information without our knowledge and consent.”

The California Supreme Court ruling has significance beyond the ALPR case. It set a groundbreaking precedent that mass, indiscriminate data collection by the police can’t be withheld just because the information may contain some data related to criminal investigations.

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