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Today’s News: October 20, 2020

Todays Headline News

World News

London’s Hacking Accusations Are New Wave of Unprovoked Attacks, Russia’s UK 

Sputnik – Earlier this week, the UK Foreign Office claimed that Russia’s GRU allegedly planned a hacking operation targeting the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games before they were postponed.

Russian special services have never engaged in any cyberattacks, such accusations seem to be yet another manifestation of russophobia, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.

“We saw this information, but, look, we are seeing a regretful tendency for Russia or Russian special services to be blamed for everything and anything. This seems to be yet another fit, one of the recurring fits of ramped-up Russophobia, which clearly has nothing to do with reality,” Peskov said.

“Russia and Russian special services have never undertaken any hacking attacks, even less so against the Olympics,” the spokesman said.

On Monday, the US charged six alleged Russian military intelligence officers with a major cyberattack, claiming that they targeted large-scale events, such as elections in France, Ukraine’s power grid and American medical facilities. The Russian Embassy in Washington refuted the allegations.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

The US government sues Google for alleged anticompetitive abuses in search

The Mercury News – The Trump administration on Tuesday sued Google in what is the largest antitrust case against a tech company in more than two decades.

In its complaint, the Justice Department makes sweeping allegations that Google has stifled competition to maintain its powerful position in the marketplace for online search and search advertising.

Eleven states — Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina and Texas — joined the suit, according to the complaint.

The complaint targets a series of interlocking actions by Google that, as a whole, allegedly harmed competition and prevented rivals from gaining a meaningful audience.

It comes right before an election in which tech platforms have been scrutinized for their impact on democracy and small business.

Justice Department officials did not rule out a breakup of Google on a call with reporters Tuesday.

“Nothing is off the table,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who warned that if DOJ did not file suit now, “we could lose the next wave of innovation” and that “Americans may never get to see the next Google.”

In a tweet from its public policy account after the complaint was filed, Google said, “Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to — not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives. We will have a full statement this morning.”

Rosen said that the Google suit represents a “milestone” but not the end of DOJ’s wide-ranging review of the tech industry, and that other lawsuits could be filed “where necessary.”

Debate commission to cut the mics at Trump-Biden showdown

Politico – President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden will have their microphones muted during Thursday’s presidential debate to ensure each candidate can get his points across uninterrupted.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced the measure on Monday evening in response to the constant interruptions that marred the first presidential debate last month. During that event, moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News had to repeatedly intervene to keep Trump from interjecting during Biden’s remarks. Biden, at one point, told the president to “shut up.”

Split High Court Rejects Pennsylvania GOP, Allows Late Ballots

Bloomberg – An evenly divided U.S. Supreme Court allowed a three-day extension for the receipt of mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, giving Democrats a boost in a state that could determine the presidential election.

The justices, voting 4-4 and giving no explanation, rejected a Republican bid to reinstate the state’s requirement that ballots arrive by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended the deadline until Nov. 6, even if the ballots lacked a legible postmark showing they were mailed by Election Day.

The breakdown underscores the impact Amy Coney Barrett could have if, as expected, she secures Senate confirmation next week to fill a vacancy on the court. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three Democratic appointees in voting to allow the extension.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would have granted the Republican request and reinstated the Nov. 3 deadline. The court deliberated for almost two weeks over the case.

Trump: AG Barr Must ‘Act Fast’ on Allegations Against Hunter Biden

Breitbart – President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Attorney General William Barr to “act fast” on the “major corruption” seen in the allegations of email correspondence showing Hunter Biden, son of 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, getting help from his father to obtain a relationship with Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

“We’ve not to get the attorney general to act. He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption, and this has to be known about before the election,” Trump told FNC’s “Fox & Friends.”

Trump was asked about House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) and others claiming the Hunter Biden story is a Russian disinformation campaign.

The president described Schiff as “a sick man.” He then said the California lawmaker needs to be investigated.

“It’s just crazy,” Trump replied. “I saw Schiff … yesterday get up, say this is Russia. I mean, he’s a sick man. He is so sick. We went through two and half years of that plus. And this guy, he ought to be put away, or he ought to be — you know, something should happen with him. I watched him look straight at the camera and say it. And he laughs at it. They laugh in the backrooms at it. And thank goodness we have John Ratcliffe that came out, the head of DNI, he said it’s absolutely false. There’s nothing, nothing to do with Russia, and it never did.”

“Adam Schiff ought to be investigated for what he does,” he added. “He stood up, he looked at the camera and he said the laptop conceived and dedicated by Russia. This is crazy.”

Elon Musk Calls For End of Coronavirus Lockdown

Sputnik – In late-September, entrepreneur Elon Musk revealed that neither he nor his family are in the risk group and therefore they won’t take the coronavirus vaccine.

Elon Musk has once again called for an end to coronavirus lockdown measures as part of a discussion on Twitter.

Musk has recently joined a debate on social media initiated by journalist Toby Young over the Great Barrington Declaration – a petition that says that everyone who is not vulnerable to the virus “should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal”.

Responding to the tweet, one of the users said that countries around the world should “learn from Sweden’s” response to coronavirus.

US Ready to Finalise Deal on Nuclear Arms Control, State Dep’t Says

Sputnik – Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited the US to extend the New START by one year without any conditions amid the looming expiration of the deal in February.

The Trump administration is prepared to meet with their Russian counterparts immediately to finalise an agreement on nuclear arms control, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The United States is prepared to meet immediately to finalize a verifiable agreement. We expect Russia to empower its diplomats to do the same,” Ortagus said.

Washington appreciates Moscow’s willingness to make progress on the issue of nuclear arms control, she added.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Russia was ready to freeze nuclear warheads alongside the United States to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) by one year.

“Russia is suggesting that the New START be extended by one year and is ready to undertake the political commitment, alongside the United States, for both sides to ‘freeze’ the existing number of nuclear warheads during that period. This may be implemented if and only if it is understood that the ‘freeze’ on the warheads will not be followed by any additional demands on part of the United States,” the ministry said.

Russia has not yet received any official answer from the United States to the proposal to extend the New START nuclear arms reduction deal by one year, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, noting that it has only seen some comments by US officials on social networks.

“The Russian side has not received an official answer from the US to the note, issued on October 16, in which President Putin’s proposal to extend the New START by one year was formulated. We have only seen separate comments by US officials on social networks,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added that it was expecting an official answer.

Economy & Business

Trump says Senate Republicans will go along with COVID aid deal

Reuters – President Donald Trump predicted on Tuesday that his fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate would go along if the White House reaches a coronavirus relief deal with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, despite many senators’ stated opposition to any large stimulus package.

“I want to do it even bigger than the Democrats,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “Not every Republican agrees with me, but they will.”

Energy & Environment

5.5-Magnitude Quake Strikes Iceland, Country’s Meteorological Office Says

Sputnik – According to seismologists, the quake occurred at 1:43 pm local time and was followed by several aftershocks.

A 5.5-magnitude quake hit south-western Iceland on Tuesday, the Icelandic Meteorological Office reported.

The earthquake occurred at 1:43 p.m. local time (1343 GMT) and was followed by several aftershocks, the office added.

The German Research Centre for Geosciences, GEOFON, measured the quake at 5.7 on the Richter scale but later that number was revised to 5.5.

Nuclear Power Will Lead to ‘National Suicide’, Argues Award-Winning Investigative Journalist

Sputnik – Nuclear power does not provide a clean and renewable source of energy which states can depend on, and those who argue otherwise are either misinformed or being disingenuous, a journalist who specialises in environmental issues tells Sputnik.

Nuclear power is being touted as a key source of energy to help countries divest from the fossil fuels driving global warming and climate change. The UK government announced in 2011 that eight new nuclear powerplants will be constructed, all of them adjacent to previous powerplants. An estimated 19 per cent of the UK’s energy needs currently come from nuclear power, though this is predicted to rise to 33 per cent by 2035.

Professor Karl Grossman is an award-wining investigative journalist. He authored Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and Power Crazy and is the writer and presenter of television programmes on nuclear power. Professor Grossman argues that nuclear power is too dangerous to offer a realistic long-term alternative to fossil fuels and that other options such as wind and solar already exist.

Sputnik: Explain what you think the key greatest strengths of nuclear power are.

Professor Karl Grossman: I do not think – indeed after decades of research and writing about nuclear power I am thoroughly certain – nuclear power has any strengths at all. As I begin my 1980 book, Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power,

“You have not been informed about nuclear power. You have not been told. And that has been done on purpose. Keeping the public in the dark was deemed necessary by the promoters of nuclear power if it was to succeed. Those in government, science and private industry who have been pushing nuclear power realised that if people were given the facts, if they knew he consequences of nuclear power, they would not stand for it.”

This continues today. Much of the fault, and I say this as a professor of journalism, involves the media and how much of it has been manipulated to swallow the lies of the nuclear promoters. If people knew the truth—as they must because this is a matter of life-and-death to people—they would insist that a stop be put to nuclear power.

Science & Technology

Uber’s Self-Driving Car Killed Someone. Why Isn’t Uber Being Charged?

Slate – Autonomous vehicle design involves an almost incomprehensible combination of engineering tasks including sensor fusion, path planning, and predictive modeling of human behavior. But despite the best efforts to consider all possible real world outcomes, things can go awry.

More than two and a half years ago, in Tempe, Arizona, an Uber “self-driving” car crashed into pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, killing her. In mid-September, the safety driver behind the wheel of that car, Rafaela Vasquez, was charged with negligent homicide.

Uber’s test vehicle was driving 39 mph when it struck Herzberg. Uber’s sensors detected her six seconds before impact but determined that the object sensed was a false positive. Uber’s engineers tuned the software to be less sensitive to unidentified objects in order to achieve a smoother ride. Uber also disabled the vehicle’s factory-installed automatic emergency braking system, which likely would have prevented the accident, in order to accurately test the capability of its own automated driving system.

But Uber is not a defendant in this case. Prosecutors essentially have unchecked discretion over what criminal charges they file and against whom, and an Arizona county prosecutor previously declined to file criminal charges against Uber in Herzberg’s death. So while Vasquez may pursue a defense strategy of “putting Uber on trial,” the company will neither be a party to the criminal case nor play any active role in the court proceedings.

To be clear, Vasquez does not seem to be blameless. In-car video shows her looking down at what appears to be a cellphone prior to the collision. (Tempe PD later confirmed that her cellphone was streaming an episode of The Voice at the time of the crash.) And while the road visibility conditions are still in dispute, Vasquez did not attempt to brake until after impact.

Sweden to Ban Huawei From Core 5G Network Functions by 2025 Amid Rise in European Tech Nationalism

Sputnik – The news comes ahead of a crucial spectrum auction next month, which was delayed due to a government IT security review, according to the Scandinavian nation’s telecom regulatory authority.

Huawei and ZTE have been excluded from building future 5G networks in Sweden, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) announced on Tuesday.

According to the regulatory body, the decision on licencing followed consultations from the Swedish Armed Forces and other security services.

Existing kit for central functions with “concerned frequency bands” must remove Huawei and ZTE kit by early January 2025 at the latest. Functions dependent on foreign countries must be replaced by resources in Sweden by the same deadline.

The PTS defines central functions as “radio access network, the transmission network, the core network and the service and maintenance network that are necessary to maintain network functionality”.

But some had voiced concerns over the ban amid increased supply line instability and reduced market competition.

“The ban leaves network operators with less options and risks slowing the rollout of 5G in markets where competition is reduced,” Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, said as quoted by Reuters.

Such a ban is expected to benefit Swedish IT equipment provider Ericsson and Finnish rival Nokia, according to reports.

Telecoms such as Hi3G Access, Telia Sverige, Net4Mobility and Teracom will be allowed to join in auctions for 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands, with the latter to take place on 10 November, the PTS announced in April.

Health

Sputnik V Production in Russia May Increase Five-Fold From October to December – Russian Minister

Sputnik – The number of doses of the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 produced each month in Russia may increase five-fold from October to December, the Russian minister of industry and trade, Denis Manturov, said on Tuesday.

“Regarding the volume, we have not changed our parameters to date. By the end of the month, we want to reach roughly 300,000 doses, in November about 800,000, and approaching 1.5 million in December,” Manturov said during an appearance on the Rossiya 24 broadcaster.

The minister of industry and trade said this past week that production could reach up to 15 million doses per month in early 2021.

Sputnik V, which is developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and produced in conjunction with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), was the world’s first registered vaccine against the coronavirus disease. The vaccine is currently in phase 3 trials.

The RDIF’s first deputy CEO, Anatoly Braverman, said on Monday that there is global interest for more than 1.2 billion doses of Sputnik V.

UK to Expose Volunteers to Coronavirus in Attempt to Ramp Up Race for a Vaccine

Sputnik – In late-September, the Financial Times reported that the United Kingdom was set to be the first country in the world to test a vaccine against coronavirus by infecting healthy volunteers with Sars-Cov-2.

The UK government confirmed on Tuesday that the country is set to become the first country in the world to deliberately infect healthy volunteers with the coronavirus.

According to Imperial College London the study, involving healthy volunteers between 18 and 30, would be conducted in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and hVivo.

In a move to find the ‘lowest possible safe dose’, up to 90 volunteers would receive a dose of COVID-19 through their nose.

The trials are set to start in January, with volunteers staying at a specialist diseases clinic in the Royal Free Hospital in London, where their symptoms will be closely monitored.

“We think that by taking every precaution we can really limit the infection and then we should be able to do it quite safely given the vast amount of experience that we have in this field,” Professor Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London, said commenting on the trials.

In September, the third phase of more conventional anti-coronavirus vaccine trials run by AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company, and Oxford University were paused due to a reported side effect in one of the British participants.

The phase later resumed in the country, but remained on hold in the United States, as around 30,000 participants were recruited for the trials worldwide, including in Brazil and South Africa.

It was later reported that the patient in question was not the only one who suffered an unexplained illness – it was later revealed to be related to an inflammation of the spinal cord. A similar side effect has apparently been experienced already, by another female British participant during the summer, but the matter was not initially reported by AstraZeneca.

Healing Powers of Ancient Herb Andrographis

Mercola – Andrographis is an adaptogenic herb with health benefits that include antiviral, hypoglycemic, hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties

Andrographis has a calming and anti-anxiety effect and it helps improve memory, tremors, fatigue and incontinence in people with multiple sclerosis

The “bitter reflex” is stimulated when you taste something bitter. Your body releases gastrin to strengthen digestive function and the reflex stimulates cell repair in the pancreas and intestines