Global Research – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s agenda was rejected in the first three parliamentary votes on his watch — a hugely inauspicious start to his premiership, leaving his status shaky.
On Tuesday by majority vote, MPs took control of parliament’s agenda, usually the government’s prerogative.
On Wednesday, majority MPs blocked a no-deal Brexit and snap elections.
Note: MPs voted by a 298 to 56 in favor of October 15 snap election, the date Johnson proposed — 296 MPs abstaining or not voting, well short of a 434 super-majority needed for adoption.
According to the 2011 Fixed Term Parliament Act, a two-thirds majority is needed to approve a snap election. It can also be held following a majority no-confidence vote by MPs.
Johnson vowed to leave the EU by October 31 with or without a deal, what most MPs and Brits oppose, including 21 Tories, expelled from the party by BoJo for opposing a no-deal Brexit.
He no longer has a ruling majority. Legislation passed Wednesday by a 327 – 299 majority requires him to seek a three-month Brexit extension to end of January if no deal with the EU happens by October 19 — approval by Brussels required.
BBC – Jo Johnson, the younger brother of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is resigning as an MP and minister, saying he is “torn between family loyalty and the national interest”.
The business minister and Tory MP for Orpington, south-east London, cited an “unresolvable tension” in his role.
Mr Johnson voted Remain in the 2016 EU membership referendum, while his brother co-led the Leave campaign.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was “unbelievable timing”.
Mr Johnson’s resignation follows the removal of the Tory whip from 21 MPs this week for supporting moves to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
RT – Washington is in talks with the Houthi rebels in a bid to end Yemen’s war a top US official said on Thursday. “We are narrowly focused on trying to end the war in Yemen,” Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said during a visit to Saudi Arabia.
“We are also having talks to the extent possible with the Houthis to try and find a mutually accepted negotiated solution to the conflict,” AFP quoted the officials as saying.
The development marks the first contact between the administration of President Donald Trump and the Houthis in over four years.
Under the administration of former president Barack Obama, US officials held brief talks with Houthi leaders in June 2015, three months after the Saudi-led intervention began, to convince them to attend UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva to resolve the crisis.
RT – The Afghan government has concerns about the draft peace agreement reached between US and Taliban negotiators and wants further clarification, President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman said on Wednesday.
The deal would see around 5,000 US troops withdrawn and five bases closed in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on America. The plan was presented to Ghani this week by the special US envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad.
With the Taliban stepping up attacks in the capital Kabul and provincial centers across the country, the agreement has faced skepticism from several sides, including a number of former US officials and politicians, Reuters said.
RT – A new Italian government was sworn into office on Thursday, with the pro-European Democratic Party (PD) flanking the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement. The unlikely alliance has been cheered on by financial markets, Reuters reports.
The administration looks certain to seek a much less conflictual relationship with the EU than the previous coalition, which was comprised of the Five-Star Movement and the right-wing League, which constantly railed against EU budget and migration rules.
Sputnik – The statement comes amid a crisis in the G7 – a group of seven leading advanced economies – as US President Donald Trump and some EU countries suggested that it should invite Russia back, reviving the G8 format.
President Vladimir Putin noted that he would be glad to invite the leaders of G8 states to Russia, if the group is re-established. He also noted that Beijing and New Delhi could be included in a broader international group similar to the G7, stating that it would be proper and useful for global cooperation.
“I think everyone understands today – and President Macron has recently publicly said – that the leadership of the West is ending. And I cannot imagine an effective international organisation that works without India and without China”, Putin explained.
He also pointed out that during recent talks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president asked about the possible participation of Turkey in the G7. According to Putin, after Ankara purchased Russian S-400 missile defence systems, Turkey could also be a crucial part of global organisations like this.
BBC – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she will withdraw the highly controversial extradition bill which has triggered months of protests.
The proposal, introduced in April, would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
The bill was suspended in June but Ms Lam stopped short of scrapping it.
Full withdrawal was one of five key demands of protesters, who also want full democracy. Some rejected Ms Lam’s move and vowed to keep on protesting.
In a televised address on Wednesday, Ms Lam also announced other measures that appeared to be designed to soothe unrest.
She said two senior officials would join an existing inquiry into police conduct during the protests. An independent investigation into alleged police brutality against protesters is another of the activists’ key demands.
On Monday, Ms Lam was heard on leaked audio tapes blaming herself for igniting Hong Kong’s political crisis, and saying it was unforgiveable of her to have caused such huge havoc.
The extradition bill quickly drew criticism after being unveiled in April. Opponents said it would undermine Hong Kong’s legal freedoms and might be used to intimidate or silence critics of Beijing.
Hong Kong is now in its 14th successive week of demonstrations, and saw fresh violence between police and activists last weekend.
BBC – The San Francisco city government has formally labelled the pro-gun lobbyist National Rifle Association (NRA) a “domestic terrorist organisation”.
The condemnation of the most powerful gun-ownership advocacy group in the US was unanimously passed on Tuesday by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
It follows a shooting attack against the Gilroy Garlic Festival, south of the city, which killed three in July.
Democrats have often blamed the NRA’s rhetoric for fuelling mass shootings.
The resolution says the US is “plagued by an epidemic of gun violence” and accuses the NRA of using “its considerable wealth and organisation strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence”.
“All countries have violent and hateful people, but only in America do we give them ready access to assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, thanks, in large part, to the National Rifle Association’s influence,” the resolution says.
The bill also urges the city and county to reconsider its relationship with companies that do business with the NRA.
The NRA responded by calling it a “ludicrous stunt” that is intended “to distract from the real problems facing San Francisco, such as rampant homelessness, drug abuse and skyrocketing petty crime, to name a few”.
District Two Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who wrote the resolution for the Democrat-controlled city, said, “the NRA has it coming to them”.
Infowars – Senator Rand Paul is waging battle against waste. In his latest ‘waste report’, the Senator reveals how the government is adding to the $22 trillion national debt by subsidizing all manner of pointless activities, including $48 billion in improper Medicare and Medicaid payments.
All in all, Senator Paul totaled up $50 BILLION in wasted dollars, and he could have found a lot more had he scratched beneath the surface.
Some of the more bizarre things the government is wasting money on include the State Department spending $100,000 in subsidies for the Pakistani film industry.
The money will reportedly go to teach ‘aspiring filmmakers’ how to write screenplays, with a particular focus on themes of “strength in diversity” and “women’s empowerment”.
Why does this help America? No one really knows. Best guess is that its some sort of odd virtue signal on a grand scale. ‘Look at America helping these poor brown people make better films’.
The National Science Foundation, a government branch, also spent close to $500,000 studying the difference between frog mating calls in the city and in the forests in Panama. The frogs are not even an endangered species, they just did the study for fun.
It found that city frogs “call at a higher rate”. Good to know. I’m sure Americans will gladly hand over another half a million. Lets see how many frogs have turned gay this time, perhaps?
The government also spent a whopping $10 million on Peru’s version of the ‘Green New Deal’, with the US Agency for International Development committing the money “to develop new and innovative alliances with the private sector that advance environmentally-friendly economic development (i.e. green growth) in Peru.”
Helping out Peruvian gardeners has zero benefit for taxpaying Americans.
Other waste includes $2 million to “promote democracy” in Tunisia. The report notes that the US State Department has spent more than $1.4 billion on such efforts since 2011 when things went to shit in the country.
Why is it working Americans’ responsibility to fix a failed nation in Africa when their own infrastructure is crumbling?
Perhaps the most amusing example is the much beloved Department of Homeland Security having spent more than $2.1 billion on an effort to transform an abandoned DC mental hospital into its new HQ, with the project no where near completion.
There are a slew of memes to be created there.
ZeroHedge – An attorney for Jeffrey Epstein confidant (and alleged groomer) Ghislaine Maxwell told a judge on Wednesday that there are “hundreds” of people named in what is expected to be approximately 2,000 pages of documents ordered unsealed by the federal appeals court in New York, according to Bloomberg.
The lawyer, Jeffrey Pagliuca, told U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska Wednesday that the materials also include an address book with about 1,000 names. Preska is considering how to carry out a ruling by the federal appeals court in New York that she must consider unsealing some of the documents. There was no detail at the hearing as to the identity of the people are named in the documents, and they may include women who say they are victims of Epstein, his friends and others. –Bloomberg
According to court filings, Maxwell was said to have hired, supervised and fired household staff, while directing the visits of dozens of “massage therapists” to Epstein’s residence, according to the Journal.
In depositions taken in 2009 and 2010 as part of civil lawsuits against Mr. Epstein, household employees said Ms. Maxwell was a central figure in Mr. Epstein’s private life. Several said Ms. Maxwell hired, supervised, and fired household staff, while directing the visits of dozens of “massage therapists”—typically young women.
Juan Alessi, who said in one of the depositions that he served as the Palm Beach house manager from around 1992 through 2002, described a basket of sex toys in Ms. Maxwell’s bathroom closet. He said he would find them around when he cleaned up after visits from the young women. –WSJ
The document release stems from a 2015 defamation lawsuit in New York brought by Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre against Maxwell. Giuffre says Maxwell helped Epstein traffic herself and other underage girls to sex parties at the billionaire pedophile’s many residences. Maxwell has denied any wrongdoing and called Giuffre a liar.
The case was settled in 2017 and the records were sealed – however appeals by the Miami Herald, Harvard Law professor (and former Epstein pal) Alan Dershowitz and right-wing blogger Mike Cernovich were successful.
Reuters – European shares rose to fresh one-month highs and safe-haven assets like gold and the yen fell on Thursday after U.S.-China talks were flagged for October, raising hopes their trade war will de-escalate before it further damages the world economy.
The US has used “unscrupulous means” to attack Huawei’s business in recent months – trying to hack its servers and turn employees into spies using extortion, legal threats and coercion, the Chinese telecom giant has claimed.
Washington “has been using every tool at its disposal – including both judicial and administrative powers, as well as a host of other unscrupulous means – to disrupt the normal business operations of Huawei and its partners,” the company said in a statement released on Tuesday, adding that the US had been “leveraging its political and diplomatic influence to lobby other governments to ban Huawei equipment” as well.
Jealous of Huawei’s number-two position in the world smartphone market, the US government has used law enforcement to threaten, coerce, and entice current and former employees to become spies for Washington, impersonated Huawei employees for entrapment purposes, launching cyberattacks against company systems, and “obstruct[ed] normal business activities,” Huawei declared, accusing the US of interfering with shipments, denying visas, and otherwise waging lawfare against the company.
Washington has even conspired with Huawei clients and competitors to try to get the company blackballed in the industry, the company added.
The statement came in response to last week’s claim by the Wall Street Journal that the US Department of Justice was investigating Huawei for stealing a patented smartphone camera design.
Weather.com – Hurricane Dorian is lashing the Carolinas with storm surge flooding, rainfall flooding, high winds and tornadoes and will have impacts in southeast Virginia and southeast Massachusetts Friday and Saturday.
Dorian’s maximum sustained winds are currently 115 mph, a Category 3 hurricane.
Activist Post – Mon Dieu!! Now all I can think about is that scene from Star Wars when Princess Leia watches an unsuspecting peaceful planet be blasted into bits by a long-distance laser weapon.
Even scarier – France doesn’t seem to be the only one interested in turning their satellites into directed energy weapons.
Space lasers are all the rage in the tech industry over the last couple of years. China wants to use orbital lasers to destroy space junk, and Facebook wants to use lasers to boost satellite communications. All of those use cases are fairly benign, but France wants to use space lasers for slightly more militaristic purposes moving forward.
French news site Le Point recently reported that the country intends to “reallocate” a whopping €700 million from its full military budget to its “Space Force” in the near future. This money will be used to fund satellite-mounted defense systems, including lasers, submachine guns, and other forms of defensive tech.
Despite the offensive capabilities this weaponry would give France, the country says it has no intention of using it to harm other countries’ satellites — it’s for self-defense only. France wants to be able to protect its satellites in the event that a hostile country tries to attack or otherwise sabotage them.
France isn’t the only country that is looking at space with renewed interest. The US is increasing its investment in the field, too, and hopes to establish a Space Force of its own in the future.
Earlier this year, Scientific American warned there is too much space junk already and it’s creating a dangerous situation in space as well as on Earth. Rocket fuel necessary to launch anything up there is also highly polluting.
NBC – India is poised to make history on Friday when it attempts to land a spacecraft on the moon. If the landing succeeds, India will become the fourth nation to put a landing craft on the moon and the first to land near the lunar south pole.
Only the U.S., Russia and China have landed spacecraft on the moon. An attempt by Israel in April failed.
The touchdown is scheduled to take place from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT on Friday (1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. in India), according to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). In advance of the landing, the Vikram lander has separated from its Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which launched into space on July 22 and has been circling the moon since Aug. 20.
The Hill – Google is using an opaque system to “leak” personal information about its users to outside companies, according to new research by rival web browser Brave.
Brave’s chief policy officer Johnny Ryan on Wednesday accused Google of violating European privacy laws and its own policies with a “workaround” that allows the tech giant to share identifying information about its users with other companies for advertising purposes.
Ryan offered the research as “evidence” for Ireland’s data privacy watchdog, which is currently investigating whether Google is violating European law.
“The evidence we have submitted to the Irish Data Protection Commission proves that Google leaked my protected data to an unknown number of companies,” Ryan said in a statement. “One cannot know what these companies then did with it, because Google loses control over my data once it was sent. Its policies are no protection.”
Google has been using little-understood web pages called “push pages” to share detailed information on users with third-party companies, according to Ryan’s research.
The personal data on the push pages, which multiple companies are able to access, “allows companies to pseudonymously identify the person in circumstances where this would not otherwise be possible,” Ryan wrote.
“We do not serve personalised ads or send bid requests to bidders without user consent,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
The Irish Data Protection Commission confirmed the issues in the research “relate to an ongoing issue that is currently under investigation by this office.”
Mercola – A U.S. and Canadian government-funded observational study found that drinking fluoridated water during pregnancy lowers children’s IQ.
A 1 milligram per liter increase in concentration of fluoride in mothers’ urine was associated with a 4.49-point decrease in IQ among boys only, while a 1-mg higher daily intake of fluoride was associated with a 3.66 lower IQ score in both genders between ages 3 and 4.
The findings were hotly criticized by pro-fluoride agents, including the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) and the Science Media Centre (SMC), two well-known front groups for the chemical industry.
There are at least 60 other studies showing fluoride exposure damages children’s brains and lowers IQ. There are also more than 2,000 other studies detailing other health effects.
Research published in 2017 found that, compared to a mother who drinks fluoride-free water, a child of a mother who drinks water with 1 part per million of fluoride can be predicted to have an IQ that is 5 to 6 points lower. They also found there was no threshold below which fluoride did not affect IQ.
Mercola – Recent research shows genetic predisposition to insomnia is associated with a significantly higher risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure and ischemic stroke, but not atrial fibrillation.
Frequent or chronic insomnia is strongly associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, a precursor and risk factor for heart disease.
Compared to those getting seven to eight hours of sleep on a regular basis, those who sleep less are 27% more likely to have subclinical atherosclerosis.
Mechanisms by which insomnia or poor sleep affects your heart health include hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysregulation, increased sympathetic nervous system activity, abnormal modulation of the autonomic nervous system, increased atherogenesis and increased systemic inflammation.
While short sleep duration (typically less than six hours) is considered distinct from insomnia, it appears that too little sleep, whether due to insomnia or not, can have similar effects, and that when insomnia and short sleep duration occurs together, they may have an additive effect on CVD risk