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World News

Lebanon’s closed banks pledge to pay public sector salaries

Al Jazeera – Banks in Lebanon said on Monday they would ensure public sector workers were paid their salaries, even as they remain closed by a wave of protests – against politicians blamed for corruption – that has steered the country towards economic collapse.

Demonstrators set up new roadblocks early on Monday to keep the pressure up, defying security forces who tried to reopen roadways but with orders not to use force.

Lebanon puts temporary ban on taking large sums of dollar cash out of country: NNA

Reuters – A Lebanese state prosecutor on Sunday banned traders and money exchangers from taking significant amounts of physical dollar currency out of the country at air and land borders, state news agency NNA said.

The order, which it said was issued by Public Prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat, imposed the ban until the central bank determines a new mechanism for regulating such transfers, NNA reported.

People had previously been able to take large sums of dollar cash out of Lebanon with a permit from customs authorities.

“The customs directorate will subject the transfer of funds to the mechanism that Lebanon’s central bank will determine,” NNA said.

Eleven days of nationwide protests have caused banks to be closed for eight working days. The country’s banking association said banks would remain closed until stability is restored, amid growing fears that a rush to withdraw savings when they reopen could deplete dwindling foreign currency deposits.

Separately, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said in a statement on Sunday that currency exchangers must be licensed by the central bank to move funds, do it through licensed companies or apply for a license.

Lebanon’s central bank urges quick solution to avoid future collapse

Reuters – Lebanon’s central bank governor said on Monday a solution must be found in days to a crisis unleashed by huge protests against the ruling elite, saying this would restore confidence and avoid any future economic collapse.

With banks closed for a ninth working day, Riad Salameh also told Reuters there would be no capital controls or “haircut” when they do reopen, and the value of the pegged Lebanese pound would be maintained.

“I am not saying that we are going to have a collapse in a matter of days, I am saying we need to have a solution in a matter of days to regain confidence and avoid collapse in the future”, Salameh added.

Salameh spoke after giving an interview with CNN which cited him as saying Lebanon was days away from economic collapse. Salameh said the headline did not reflect what he had said.

Hong Kong protesters target party district on potentially hazardous Halloween

Reuters – Thousands of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, many of whom still wear now-banned face-masks, plan to combine with fancy-dress clubbers on Thursday in the party district of Lan Kwai Fong on a potentially dangerous and rowdy Halloween.

The protesters say they will march, without police permission, from a park in the Causeway Bay shopping district through the heaving bar streets of Wan Chai to the steep, narrow foothills of the Peak above Central.

Every weekend, office-goers and clubbers spill out of the Lan Kwai Fong bars on to the streets, even without the additional presence of protesters who have thrown petrol bombs at police, set fires and trashed buildings during five months of unrest.

A stampede at midnight on New Year’s Eve in 1992, when thousands had gathered, killed at least 20 and wounded scores.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Epstein body bore telltale signs of homicide, medical examiner claims

Fox – The body of disgraced money man and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his Manhattan federal prison cell in August, bore telltale signs of homicide despite an official ruling that he killed himself, a pioneering forensic pathologist revealed to “Fox & Friends” in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

The bombshell claim by Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner who has worked on high-profile cases during a five-decade medical career, is certain to reignite suspicions that surfaced immediately after Epstein, who was awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges involving underage girls, was discovered dead in his cell on Aug. 10. Baden, who was hired by Epstein’s brother and observed the autopsy, told Fox News its findings are more consistent with homicidal strangulation than suicidal hanging. He noted that the 66-year-old Epstein had two fractures on the left and right sides of his larynx, specifically the thyroid cartilage or Adam’s apple, as well as one fracture on the left hyoid bone above the Adam’s apple, Baden told Fox News.

“Those three fractures are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation,” Baden, who is also a Fox News contributor, said.

Trump signs bill renewing NSA’s internet surveillance program

Reuters – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he signed into law a bill renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, sealing a defeat for digital privacy advocates. “Just signed 702 Bill to reauthorize foreign intelligence collection,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to legislation passed by the U.S. Congress that extends Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The law renews for six years and with minimal changes the National Security Agency (NSA) program, which gathers information from foreigners overseas but incidentally collects an unknown amount of communications belonging to Americans.

The measure easily passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week despite mixed signals posted on Twitter by Trump and narrowly avoided a filibuster in the Senate earlier this week that split party lines. The measure had drawn opposition from a coalition of privacy-minded Democrats and libertarian Republicans.

In his tweet on Friday, Trump attempted to clarify why he signed the bill despite repeating an unsubstantiated claim that his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, ordered intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on Trump’s 2016 Republican presidential campaign.

“This is NOT the same FISA law that was so wrongly abused during the election,” Trump wrote. “I will always do the right thing for our country and put the safety of the American people first!”

Last September, the U.S. Justice Department said in a court filing that it had no evidence to support Trump’s claim about improper surveillance during the campaign.

Without Trump’s signature, Section 702 had been set to expire on Friday, though intelligence officials had said the surveillance program could continue to operate until April.

Under the law, the NSA is allowed to eavesdrop on vast amounts of digital communications from foreigners living outside the United States via U.S. companies like Facebook Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

But the program also incidentally scoops up Americans’ communications, including when they communicate with a foreign target living overseas, and can search those messages without a warrant.

Mulvaney was left in the dark on al-Baghdadi operation

NBC – Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney first learned about the U.S. military raid against ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after the operation was already underway, according to five current and former senior administration officials.

Mulvaney was at home in South Carolina when President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Saturday night that “Something very big has just happened!” He was briefed on the raid that night, officials said.

The extraordinary move by Trump to leave his chief of staff out of the most significant U.S. military operation against the world’s most wanted terrorist since the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011 represents a major blow to Mulvaney, suggesting that he is increasingly sidelined inside the White House.

The White House chief of staff typically would be central to such a momentous gambit for a president, coordinating logistics, public statements and notifications of congressional leaders and allies. Bill Daley, who was White House chief of staff during the bin Laden raid, was seated next to then-President Barack Obama as he monitored the raid in a secure White House room with a small group of senior officials.

Across the Board, Scores Drop in Math and Reading for U.S. Students

US News – Math and reading scores for fourth- and eighth-graders in the United States dropped since 2017, and the decrease in reading achievement has government researchers particularly concerned.

“Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest performing students are doing worse,” Peggy Carr, associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, said during a press call Tuesday.

Trump faces serious crunch in search for new Homeland Security leader

The Hill – President Trump is facing a time and personnel crunch in his search for a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary who is both qualified to be appointed to the role and willing to carry out the president’s hard-line immigration agenda.

The president has cycled through four permanent or acting secretaries in less than three years and must now pick a fourth after announcing earlier this month that acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan will resign.

Officials inside the Trump administration and allies outside of it have expressed frustration with the president’s inability to make a choice and worry that time is running out to get the right person installed.

Poll: 7-in-10 Voters Believe in ‘America First’ Agenda Ahead of 2020 Election

Breitbart – Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, the overwhelming majority of likely voters say they believe in the doctrine of “America First” when it comes to national public policy, a new poll reveals.

A poll by Selzer and Company/Grinnell College finds that the vast majority of American adults say they are America First voters, while less than 20 percent identify as socialists.

Overall, about seven-in-ten — or 70 percent — of likely voters say they are believers in America First — the nationalist-populist doctrine that guides President Trump’s agenda on immigration, trade, healthcare, and foreign policy, among others.

Sanders: I Don’t Have to Release ‘Exact, Detailed Plan’ on Paying for Medicare for All ‘Right Now’

Breitbart – During an interview with CNBC’s “Speakeasy” podcast released on Tuesday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stated that, right now, he doesn’t need to release an “exact, detailed plan” of how much more people will pay in taxes under Medicare for all.

Host John Harwood asked Sanders [relevant exchange begins around 20:00] if he would be okay with the deficit increasing under Medicare for all.

Sanders responded, “We’re trying to pay for the damn thing.” He continued by talking about the need for the rich to pay more in taxes.

Sanders later stated, “[W]e can pay for it. We’re paying it now in a very reactionary, regressive way. I want to pay for it in a progressive way. That’s my fight. Now, you’re asking me to come up with an exact, detailed plan of how every American — how much you’re going to pay more in taxes, how much I’m going to pay. I don’t think I have to do that right now.”

Sanders added that Medicare for all will be paid for.

Veteran News

Report: Cancer Rates Rising Dramatically Among Veterans

Newsmax – A new report exposes a link between serving in the military and contracting certain types of cancer.

According to McClatchy, there is growing concern among service members and their families about various blood, prostate, and urinary tract cancers.

Economy & Business

Fed is expected to cut rates but may offer little guidance

AP – The Federal Reserve is set to cut its benchmark interest rate Wednesday for a third time this year to help sustain the U.S. economic expansion in the face of widespread trade tensions and slower global growth.

But the Fed’s policymakers will likely frustrate anyone who is hoping for a clear signal about what they may do next. The central bank may prefer instead to keep its options open, economists say.

Analysts have forecast that the Fed will reduce the short-term rate it controls — which influences a broad range of consumer and business loans — by one-quarter percentage point year to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%. A third cut would nearly reverse the four rate hikes that the Fed made last year in response to a strengthening economy.

Texas Hit Hard By Shale Slowdown

Oil Price – Texas’ economy is perhaps the most vulnerable to oil price swings given its leading role in the country’s oil industry. Recently, as prices have remained low, talk has begun about the outlook for the state’s economy.

According to a recent Reuters report, for example, smaller independent oil and gas producers in the Lone Star State are struggling to get loans from banks as the latter become increasingly wary of the ability of the borrowers to return the money when the time comes.

Jobs in the Texas oil and gas industry are falling, too. The Houston Business Journal reported this month that September saw a 1,100 decline in the number of jobs in the mining and logging sector—the category that includes oil and gas jobs. Over the 12 months from September 2018, the state’s oil and gas industry added just 1,700 new jobs, which was the lowest number of new job additions to any Texas industry over the same period, data from the Texas Workforce Commission showed.

Yet not everyone is worried. The University of Houston Energy Fellows, for instance, wrote in an article for Forbes that “the alarm bells are premature.” While the experts that make up the group acknowledge there are plenty of reasons to be worried about the economy of Houston—the article focuses on the city—oil prices are not among them.

House Pushes Amnesty, Subsidy for Lower-Tech, Cheap Labor Farms

Breitbart  – House leaders will introduce a farmworker amnesty plan on Wednesday that will provide citizenship to at least one million illegal migrants and to a future flood of visa workers who agree to work on U.S. farms for eight years.

The “Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019” amnesty would create two huge streams of low-wage labor for farm companies and likely for meatpackers and other agricultural employers.

One stream would be from the population of one million existing farmworker illegal aliens who will be amnestied and redefined as “Certified Agricultural Workers” so they can get green cards and citizenship after several years — regardless of the “public charge” rule which bars welfare-reliant migrants from citizenship.

Energy & Environment

Explosion in Antarctic sea ice levels may cause another ice age

Fox – Upside-down “rivers” of warm ocean water may be one of the causes of Antarctica’s ice shelves breaking up, leading to a rise in sea levels. But a new study suggests an increase in sea ice may lead to a much more devastating change in the Earth’s climate — another ice age.

Using computer simulations, the research suggests that an increase in sea ice could significantly alter the circulation of the ocean, ultimately leading to a reverse greenhouse effect as carbon dioxide levels in the ocean increase and levels in the air decrease.

“One key question in the field is still what caused the Earth to periodically cycle in and out of ice ages,” University of Chicago professor and the study’s co-author, Malte Jansen, said in a statement. “We are pretty confident that the carbon balance between the atmosphere and ocean must have changed, but we don’t quite know how or why.”

First it was the cow farts, now asthmatic patients are killing the environment, says new study

RT – In a breathtaking display of hubris, a new government report suggests that people with asthma can lower their carbon footprint by switching to “greener” medications, but the suggestion has generated outrage on social media.

Of the 50 million inhalers prescribed in the UK in 2017 for the roughly five million asthmatic patients, seven out of ten emitted the greenhouse gas hydrofluoroalkane, which is used as a propellant to deliver the medicine into the lungs.

Science & Technology

Facebook unveils its first foray into personal digital healthcare tools

Tech Crunch – Nearly a year and a half after the Cambridge Analytica scandal reportedly scuttled Facebook’s fledgling attempts to enter the healthcare market, the social media giant is launching a tool called “Preventive Health” to prompt its users to get regular checkups and connect them to service providers.

The architect of the new service is Dr. Freddy Abnousi, the head of the company’s healthcare research, who was previously linked to an earlier skunkworks initiative that would collect anonymized hospital data and use a technique called “hashing” to match the data to individuals that exist in both data sets — for research, according to CNBC reporting.

Working with the American Cancer Society; the American College of Cardiology; the American Heart Association; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Facebook is developing a series of digital prompts that will encourage users to get a standard battery of tests that’s important to ensure health for populations of a certain age.

The company’s initial focus is on the top two leading causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease and cancer — along with the flu, which affects millions of Americans each year.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women around the world and in many cases it is 100% preventable. By incorporating prevention reminders into platforms people are accessing every day, we’re giving people the tools they need to be proactive about their heart health,” said Dr. Richard Kovacs, the president of the American College of Cardiology, in a statement.

Users who want to access Facebook’s Preventive Health tools can search in the company’s mobile app to find which checkups are recommended by the company’s partner organizations based on the age and gender of a user.


Researchers reveal how vitamin D affects key immune system cells

NaturalNews – Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have discovered a new way that vitamin D affects the body’s immune system. The study, published in the Frontiers in Immunology, showed that vitamin D can potentially help manage autoimmune diseases.

Vitamin D’s role in the human body

Despite its name, vitamin D is not a true vitamin; it is a pro-hormone. Vitamins need to be consumed from food because the body cannot produce them by itself. Vitamin D, on the other hand, can be synthesized by the body from sunlight, on top of dietary sources:

  • Egg yolks — Most of the protein is found in the egg whites, but the nutrients are found in the yolk. Compared to chickens that are raised indoors, pasture-raised or free-range chickens produce eggs that have higher amounts of vitamin D.
  • Mushrooms — They are the only plants capable of converting sunlight into vitamin D, making them the only plant source of this nutrient.
  • Fatty fish and seafood — Some examples of seafood rich in vitamin D are salmon, shrimp, and herring.

Vitamin D has a key role in multiple functions of the body. It helps maintain bone and teeth health, aside from regulating insulin levels and aiding in diabetes management.

Vitamin D is also important for the brain, immune system and nervous system. It regulates cell growth and cell-to-cell communication. In fact, some studies have suggested that calcitriol, an active form of vitamin D, can potentially inhibit cancer progression. (Related: Vitamin D Halts Growth of Breast Cancer Tumors.)

Vitamin D and the immune system

The list of research backing up vitamin D’s role in the immune system is long. In the Edinburgh study however, the researchers wanted to explore vitamin D’s influence on autoimmune diseases. Previous works have observed an inverse relationship between vitamin D and the susceptibility to autoimmune diseases. Some of these include Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

> Power Mall Product of Interest: Vitamin D Re-Natured

Number of Bayer Lawsuits May Increase to 45,000

Mercola – Since Bayer acquired Monsanto in 2018 for $63 billion, they’ve faced litigation that glyphosate-containing Roundup caused health problems, including cancer.

Approximately 18,400 U.S. lawsuits from individuals alleging that glyphosate caused them to develop cancer have already been filed.

Bayer expects the glyphosate/cancer lawsuits to increase, and analysts at JP Morgan suggested the number of glyphosate lawsuits may surpass 45,000.

Internal Monsanto emails released during the glyphosate trials suggest Monsanto-affiliated scientists questioned the chemical’s safety.

Germany announced it would be banning glyphosate by the end of 2023, with the phase-out starting even sooner

How Leucine in Whey Helps Prevent Muscle Loss

Mercola – The loss of muscle mass that occurs with age is known as sarcopenia, the most obvious cause of which is inactivity.

Your muscles need sufficient amounts of protein. Poor digestion can impede your ability to absorb protein, thereby contributing to sarcopenia.

Whey protein has been shown to stimulate muscle protein accretion and stave off sarcopenia the best, in part due to its higher leucine content, which helps regulate the turnover of protein in your muscle.

Whey protein also contains the master antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione is thought to play an important role in sarcopenia specifically, as patients with sarcopenia tend to have higher levels of oxidative stress.

The type of exercise you do can also make a big difference. Blood flow restriction (BFR) training is one of the best ways to prevent sarcopenia, and is the safest form of strength training for those who are frail and elderly

Green cardamom supplements can protect the liver for those with obesity

NaturalNews – Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease today. Fatty liver is commonly caused by excessive alcohol intake. However, as its name implies, NAFLD can develop with little to no alcohol consumption. New research published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggested that people with NAFLD may benefit from taking green cardamom supplements.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is a popular spice used in sweet and savory dishes. It comes from the seeds and seed pods of different plants that belong to the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family. There are two main types of cardamom: black cardamom and green cardamom. The former is most often found in India and Asia, while the latter is typically used in Nordic and Middle Eastern cuisine. Green cardamom is also known as true cardamom and is the most commonly found variety in the spice aisle of supermarkets.

Aside from its culinary uses, green cardamom has also been used for medicinal purposes. In the study, a team of researchers from Tehran, Iran looked at its potential to improve NAFLD biomarkers in overweight or obese patients. The research team investigated the effects of green cardamom on serum glucose indices, lipids, and irisin level in overweight or obese people with NAFLD.

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