fragile egomaniac

Tuesday, Jun 5, 2018

Prostitutes at the Brussels-North red-light district strike today after one of their colleagues is found murdered this morning, says their professional association. (Het Laatste Nieuws)

Miss America pageant eliminates swimsuit competition The Miss America organization has eliminated the swimsuit portion of its competition for the first time in its 96-year history. “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance,” said Miss America chairwoman Gretchen Carlson. “It’s going to be what comes out of their mouth that we’re interested in, when they talk about their social impact initiatives.” Carlson said the competition would focus on the talent and interview phases to determine scholarship awards, rather than operate as a beauty pageant. “We’re moving forward,” she said, “and evolving in this cultural revolution.” Source: Good Morning America

A 2–5-metre (6 ft 7 in–16 ft 5 in) wide asteroid named 2018 LA was estimated (before impact) to have an 82% chance of having impacted Earth today, with several corroborating reports from Botswana. An OFM media report from near Klerksdorp, North West province, South Africa, describes “‘a light’ falling from the sky” at 18:49 (UTC+02:00) Saturday night. (NASA) (Minor Planet Mailing List) (Project Pluto)

 

 

Penka, a pregnant cow from Bulgaria, faces death because, according to European Union rules, she lacks the required paperwork to re-enter her country after having strayed into Serbia. (Deccan Chronicle)

Google reports that they will not renew a contract with the U.S. military to develop machine learning algorithms for drones. (BBC)

In an effort to quell unrest caused by IMF-driven reforms, King Abdullah II of Jordan appoints Omar Razzaz as Prime Minister. (Reuters)

Trump disinvites Eagles from White House Super Bowl ceremony The White House announced Monday that President Trump has canceled a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles set for Tuesday because some players are taking a knee during the national anthem, in protest of police brutality in the United States. The Eagles were supposed to visit the White House in celebration of their Super Bowl win earlier this year. In a statement, Trump said some members of the team “disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart.” In response, the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, called Trump a “fragile egomaniac.” Source: The Associated Press

Billionaire David Koch to retire from Koch Industries, political network Citing health issues, billionaire David Koch, 78, will step down from his roles at Koch Industries and the political activism network he runs with his brother, Charles Koch. “Unfortunately, these issues have not been resolved, and his health has continued to deteriorate,” Charles wrote in a letter sent to Koch Industries employees Tuesday. This news comes just one day after the Kochs’ political network announced a major new campaign against President Trump’s tariffs. Long reviled on the left for their economic policy, in recent years the Kochs have made allies on both sides of the aisle on issues like immigration and criminal justice reform. Koch Industries is the second-largest private company in the United States. Source: CNBC

Chinese state media say that an explosion at an iron ore mine in Benxi, Liaoning, kills 11 people while 25 others remain trapped after the blast. (Reuters via DNA)

 

Monday, Jun 4, 2018

The Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States announces the arrest of an employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency whom they have charged with spying on the behalf of China. (BBC)

In a new filing, special counsel Robert Mueller accuses Paul Manafort of witness tampering. (Vox)

Microsoft announces that it is acquiring code repository GitHub for US$7.5 billion in stock, pending regulatory review. (The Verge)

Starbucks executive chairman and former CEO Howard Schultz retires from the company. (The New York Times)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a law – voted by the State Duma on 22 May and approved by the State Council on 30 May – with countermeasures against actions of the United States and other “unfriendly” countries. (TASS)

According to multiple sources, North Korea has fired the top three military officials and replaced them with younger loyalists. One of the three new appointees, general Ri Yong-gil, was inaccurately “reported” in 2016 as having been executed.  (BBC)

Hani Al-Mulki resigns as Prime Minister of Jordan following protests against economic reforms. (Al Jazeera)

 

Sunday, Jun 3, 2018

Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala erupts, leaving at least 62 people dead, 300 others injured, and forces the closure of La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City. (The Guardian)

Wildfires in the American states of California, Colorado and New Mexico now burn 31,000 acres (13,000 ha) of land, causing thousands to evacuate their homes. (CNN)

India announces it successfully tested a Agni-V ICBM missile at a base near Odisha coast. (Defence Aviation Post)

TV Slovenia exit polls show that Janez Janša’s anti-immigration Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) would win a plurality of 24.4% of the votes. List of Marjan Šarec (LMS), the party of the mayor of Kamnik, would follow with 12.6%. (Reuters)

 

Saturday, Jun 2, 2018

The first legal bare-knuckle boxing match in U.S. history, titled the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships, takes place in Cheyenne, Wyoming. (Sydney Morning Herald) (USA Today)

More than 80 homes have now been destroyed by the Kilauea eruption. (KTLA)

Thousands protest in Amman and other Jordanian cities, despite King Abdullah II ordering a freeze on controversial fuel and electricity price increases.  (The Guardian)

 

Friday, Jun 1, 2018

Pedro Parente, the head of Brazil Petrobras, resigns among protests related to diesel fuel prices. (BBC)

The CDC reports that five people have died and 197 have been hospitalized in the United States, in the largest incidence of E. coli since the 2006 North American E. coli outbreak. (BBC)

Visa card payments are disrupted throughout Europe due to a network failure. The disruption results in large queues at supermarkets and petrol stations. Mastercard and American Express say they were not affected. (BBC)

According to civil sources reported by SANA, the US-led coalition kills 8 people in an airstrike near al-Shaddadi, southern Hasaka. (Eurasia Review)

U.S. President Donald Trump officially announces that the summit will resume as scheduled following a White House meeting with North Korean general Kim Yong-chol. (BBC)

A Department of Defense report presented to the United States Congress estimates at 499 the number of civilian deaths in US military actions during the year 2017, with more than 450 reports remaining to be assessed. The casualties occurred in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. (CNN)

An Uber driver in Denver, Colorado, United States, fatally shoots a passenger after a conflict on the Interstate 25 highway. A portion of the highway is placed on lockdown following the incident. (NBC News via MSN)

THE END

Silk Roads

 

Why were five U.S. soldiers killed by a B-1 Bomber in Afghanistan?
A classified report blames human error for the deadliest friendly fire incident of the Afghan War involving U.S. soldiers. Soldiers who were there say that’s wrong

 

How we entered the age of the strongman
Liberals have consistently misread the present – and their complacency is pushing us into a new authoritarian era.
by John Gray
May 2018

 

A NEW SILK ROAD
China is investing billions in building pathways to Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East.
Photographs By Davide Monteleone

 

Khorgos, Kazakhstan – October 2017. A freight train arriving from China just left the Khorgos dry port to cross all Kazakhstan to reach Europe. Kazakhstan is a crucial country for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, and the Khorgos dry port is quickly becoming the China west gate for land import and export.

 

Tuesday,   May 29, 2018

White House confirms tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods The White House confirmed Tuesday that it will be going forward with the implementation of heavy tariffs on Chinese imports next month following weeks of concern that doing so might spark a trade war. Some $50 billion in imported goods will be subject to the 25 percent tariff, with a finalized list of goods expected by June 15. The U.S. also plans to restrict China’s access to American technology, with the administration citing national security concerns. Trade negotiations between the nations are ongoing, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying the trade war was “on hold” less than two weeks ago. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will travel to China to continue talks in early June. Source: The New York Times, CNN Money

Top North Korean official to visit New York High-level talks between the United States and North Korea continue Tuesday, with senior Pyongyang official Kim Yong Chol en route to New York City, President Trump confirmed. Kim will be the most senior North Korean official to visit the U.S. since 2000, following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s two trips to North Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un this year. American diplomats in South Korea are also believed to be meeting with their North Korean counterparts on Tuesday, and on Monday a North Korean delegation reportedly arrived in Singapore, possibly to continue preparations for a summit Trump withdrew from last week. South Korean President Moon Jae-in met with Kim Jong Un over the weekend to push for the meeting to resume. Source: The Associated Press, CNN

Hurricane Maria death toll reportedly 70 times higher than official count More than 4,500 people are believed to have been killed in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria last year, more than 70 times the official death count of 64, the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine reported Tuesday. That estimate would make the hurricane far deadlier than Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when 1,833 people died. Deaths that count towards a total death toll include directly related events, like “flying debris,” as well as deaths “caused by unsafe or unhealthy conditions resulting in injury, illness, or loss of necessary medical services.” Puerto Rican deaths went underreported because hurricane-related casualties are required to be confirmed by the island’s Institute of Forensic Sciences, and indirect deaths often aren’t properly represented on official death certificates. Source: The New England Journal of Medicine

Palestinian militants in Gaza fire dozens of mortars at Israel in the heaviest such barrage in years. The Israeli Air Force responds with airstrikes on militant positions. (BBC)

The studio behind battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) sues Epic Games for allegedly copying their game, with Fortnite Battle Royale, which is currently the most played video game in the world. (BBC)

 

cardiB_https://youtu.be/iDjWKMbg_Ok

 

Two WYFF journalists, Mike McCormick and Aaron Smeltzer, are killed after a tree crushes their car as they covered the storm in North Carolina. (BBC)

Bashar al-Assad’s government of Syria recognises the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, “in an appreciation of [their] supportive positions towards the terrorist aggression against Syria”. Georgia severs relations with Syria in response. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)

Right-wing British activist Tommy Robinson was sentenced to 13 months in prison for contempt of court within five hours after being arrested outside Leeds Crown Court on 25 May. A ban on reporting his sentence is lifted today following a legal challenge by journalists. (The Mirror)

 

 

Monday,  May 28, 2018

Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s Minister of Defence, says that he recently talked with United States officials in Washington D.C. about a permanent stationing in Poland of thousands of US troops as a deterrent against Russia. (AP via Business Insider)

Austria’s coalition government unveils plans to cut benefit payments for immigrants, including refugees, in a move aimed at deterring new arrivals. (BBC)

The Golden State Warriors advance to the NBA Finals and will play the Cleveland Cavaliers for the fourth straight year. (Cleveland.com)

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Illegitimi non carborundum

Can We Call It a Coup Now?
MIKE WHITNEYMAY 20, 2018 • 3,300 WORDS

This is not a Dems vs Republicans issue, at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s about the unelected cabal that operates behind the cloak of partisan politics to exert its stranglehold on political power. As comedian George Carlin said, “The parties exist to make you think you have a choice. But you have no choice. You have owners, and they own everything.” Russiagate was merely the paper-thin pretext this secretive group settled on to launch its attack on the candidate who was never supposed to win the election.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/us/politics/mark-penn-clinton-aide-mueller-investigation.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Tuesday,   May 22, 2018

Trump meets with DOJ officials to expand probe into FBI informant President Trump on Monday met with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and asked the Justice Department to expand its investigation to “include any irregularities with the FBI’s or Justice Department’s tactics concerning the Trump campaign.” On Sunday, Trump initiated an inquiry into a report that an American academic working as an FBI informant met with several members of his 2016 campaign in the early days of the agency’s investigation into Russian election meddling. Trump demanded that the Justice Department look into whether Obama administration officials coordinated surveillance of his campaign for political reasons. Reports on the matter said there was no evidence the informant was embedded in the Trump campaign, as Trump suggested. Source: The Washington Post

Syrian government regains full control of Damascus for 1st time since 2011 The Syrian military said Monday that after fighting for a month, it has captured an area of southern Damascus from the Islamic State, and the capital is now, for the first time since the country’s civil war began in 2011, under full government control. They were able to take back the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk and the Hajar al-Aswad district, and will now focus on the territory held by rebels in southern Syria. A monitoring group said that 1,600 people, including hundreds of ISIS militants, left southern Damascus on Saturday and Sunday, and went toward the eastern desert after agreeing to a deal with the Syrian government. Source: The Associated Press

Monday,  May 21, 2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. will impose the “the strongest sanctions in history” on Iran if it does not meet various demands, including ending its nuclear program and leaving the Syrian Civil War. (Reuters)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejects Pompeo’s demands, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif accuses the U.S. of repeating past mistakes. (Al Jazeera)

Sony agrees to a $2.3 billion deal where they will buy a controlling interest in EMI Music Publishing. The deal will mean that Sony would indirectly own 90% of the record label and its two million songs. (BBC)

Paraguay opens its embassy in Jerusalem, making Paraguay the third country, after the United States and Guatemala, to transfer its diplomatic mission in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (AP via Politico)

The U.S. Supreme Court votes 5–4 to allow companies to enforce contracts which bar employees from entering class action lawsuits. (The Washington Postvia Concord Monitor)

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Can We Build a Brain?

Nova Wonders Can We Build A Brain?

 

Friday,  May 18, 2018

Senate confirms Gina Haspel as CIA director The Senate on Thursday voted 54-45 to confirm Gina Haspel as the director of the CIA. Haspel had faced fierce criticism for her involvement in previous CIA torture programs, including at a “black site” in Thailand in 2002. Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who was absent from the vote as he undergoes cancer treatment away from the Senate, had urged his colleagues to vote against Haspel, calling her previous actions “disqualifying.” During her testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel had declined to say the CIA’s actions were “immoral,” but in a letter released earlier this week, she said that “the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken.” Haspel will be the first woman to lead the CIA. Source: C-SPAN, NBC News

Paul Manafort’s ex-son-in-law entered plea deal with federal prosecutors Jeffrey Yohai, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law and business partner, reached a secret plea deal with federal prosecutors earlier this year that requires him to cooperate in other state and federal investigations, according to several news organizations. One of Special Counsel Robert Muller’s two criminal indictments against Manafort charges him with bank fraud for allegedly instructing an unidentified son-in-law to pretend he was living in a Manhattan apartment that was being used as a rental property. Mueller’s team interviewed Yohai last June and reportedly remains interested in what he knows about Manafort. Manafort, who invested in failed real estate deals with Yohai in California and New York, has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Source: Reuters, Politico

Trump decries Russia investigation, accuses Democrats of spying President Trump on Thursday claimed to be the victim of “the greatest witch hunt in American history,” in the wake of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s report concluding that Russia sought to swing the 2016 election specifically for Trump. The investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia’s meddling began one year ago, and Trump marked the occasion by accusing Democrats of collusion instead. He also claimed that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign using an “embedded informant,” referring to a National Review report alleging such a plot. Trump exclaimed: “If so, this is bigger than Watergate!” Source: Twitter

Poisoned ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal released from the hospital Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was released from the hospital on Friday, more than two months after he and his daughter Yulia were found slumped over on a park bench in Salisbury, England, after being exposed to a Novichok nerve agent. Yulia Skripal was released from the hospital on April 9 and moved to a secure location. The U.S. and European allies blamed Russia for the poison attack and expelled diplomats and presumed intelligence agents. Sergei Skripal, 66, was a Russian military intelligence officer who Russia jailed for passing on secrets to Britain, then released in a 2010 spy swap. Source: BBC

 

 Thursday, May 17,  2018

North Korea cancels high-level talks with South Korea in protest of United States–South Korea joint military exercises. (Bloomberg)

North Korea warns that it might cancel talks with the United States if the U.S. keeps insisting that North Korea will “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear weapons program, similar to the disarmament of Libya. The White House says it is hopeful the planned summit will still happen. (The Washington Post)(Reuters)

White House unconcerned about North Korea’s threat to cancel Trump summit North Korean state media announced Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Un may reconsider meeting with President Trump in Singapore next month if the United States continues to demand that Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons program. The nation would refuse to make a deal based on economic rewards from the U.S. in exchange for denuclearization, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs said. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the Trump administration had “fully expected” North Korea to make such threats, and said Trump was still open to the meeting. When asked about the summit, Trump said, “We’ll see what happens,” noting that North Korea had not canceled the plans. Source: Reuters, The Guardian

Denmark announces the partial withdrawal of its special forces from Iraq following the collapse of ISIL in the country. (Channel News Asia)

The summit at Kīlauea erupts and sends a plume of ash and smoke 30,000 feet (9.1 km) into the air. (CNN) (BBC)

 

Voters in Burundi go to the polls for a referendum to amend the constitution to allow current President Pierre Nkurunziza to stay in office until 2034. (The Guardian)

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De-extinction

Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush in 2008, will run for Iraqi parliament. (BuzzFeed News)

Minimum alcohol pricingcomes into effect in Scotland, mandating prices of at least 50p per unit. Scotland becomes the first country to introduce such a scheme. (The Independent)

Biologists at the University of Melbourne announce plans to clone the extinct thylacine (Tasmanian tiger). (News Corp Australia)

“That’s something that’s not science fiction any more, it’s science fact,” Prof Pask said. “They will be able to bring something mammoth-like back to life.” And it could one day open the floodgates for resurrecting other lost species.

Bone remains of more than 140 children and about 200 young llamas were found in the Peruvian city of Trujillo, near the Chan Chan citadel, according to a National Geographic publication. This discovery, which would date from the time of the little-known Chimú pre-Columbian civilization (about 550 years ago), would be, for researchers, the largest mass sacrifice of children in the American continent. (El Comercio) (National Geographic)

Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, sets sail across the Baltic Sea from St. Petersburg. (Alphr)

What could go wrong?

The world’s oldest known spider, a trapdoor spider known as “Number 16”, dies of a wasp sting at the age of 43. (Yahoo! News via AFP)

A communal toilet collapses in Bhandup, Mumbai, India. Several people are trapped and require rescue, with two dying en route to hospital. (First Post)

Scientific studies have offered evidence that a geothermal plant may have caused the earthquake in South Korea. (Phys.org)

Marathon Oil purchases Andeavor for $23.3 billion, creating the biggest oil refining firm in the United States. (Bloomberg)

T-Mobile US and Sprint agree to merge in a deal valued at US$146 billion. The merger is subject to approval from regulators. (USA Today)

 

Tuesday,   May 1, 2018

American actress Ashley Judd sues Harvey Weinstein for defamation and sexual harassment, and claimed that he “torpedoed” her chance to be cast in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Herald Courier)

A Russian Su-27 fighter jet intercepts a United States P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, with the US claiming the procedure was unprofessional and the aircraft came within 20 feet of each other. (KFDI)

ISIL releases an execution video showing a prisoner being killed by explosives in Yarmouk Camp, Damascus. (Metro)

Pro-Hadi forces capture the Al Bareh Triangle and seize Houthi arms. (Gulf News)

Several independent MPs urge Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to withdraw troops from Yemen where they are supporting a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels. (AllAfrica)

Iraqi police and al-Hashd al-Shaabi troops raid ISIL locations in Hawija, Kirkuk, and seize tunnels and arms caches. (Iraqi News)

The Supreme Court of India orders the government to seek international help after examining photos submitted by environmentalists showing a change in colour of the Taj Mahal. (BBC)

Minimum alcohol pricing comes into effect in Scotland, mandating prices of at least 50p per unit. Scotland becomes the first country to introduce such a scheme. (The Independent)

 

The Dominican Republic severs ties with Taiwan and establishes diplomatic relations with China. (CNN)

The African Land Forces Summit opens in Abuja, Nigeria. Present are military delegations from 30 African nations plus representatives from Europe and the United States. (AllAfrica)

Far-left anarchists clash with riot police in central Paris, France. Several businesses are looted and set on fire, including a McDonald’s restaurant and Renault garage. Hundreds are arrested. (Reuters)

Iran bans the Telegram messenger app, citing national security concerns. (BBC)

NYT: Mueller has 4 dozen questions he wants to ask Trump The New York Times has obtained a list of more than four dozen questions that Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump as part of his investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia and possible obstruction of justice. The questions focus primarily on Trump’s firings of former FBI Director James Comey and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a Trump Tower meeting in the summer of 2016 between several top campaign officials and Russians promising compromising information on Hillary Clinton, and discussions Trump had with personal lawyer Michael Cohen regarding a Moscow real estate deal. Trump’s lawyers wrote down the questions from Mueller’s team, with that list provided to the Times by someone not on Trump’s legal team. Source: The New York Times

 

Monday,  Apr 30, 2018

 A Syrian military source cited by pro-Syrian government news outlet Al-Masdar News says that an Israeli F-35 killed more than 30 soldiers yesterday in an attack that completely destroyed the Syrian government’s Brigade 47 missile base in Hama. (Al-Masdar News)

Iran’s Tasnim News Agency denies reports that yesterday’s missile attack in Hama and Aleppo Governorate hit an Iranian military base and says that no Iranian soldiers were killed in the attack. (Reuters)

The U.S. State Department confirms the U.S. has completed a delivery of FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine. (RFE/RL)

The Israel Defense Forces say they shot dead three Palestinians in two incidents yesterday. The IDF says one was killed trying to breach the Israeli-Gazan border fence while a second was wounded and arrested. They say the second incident saw two men shot dead after bypassing the fence and throwing explosives at IDF soldiers. (The Wire)

Amnesty International and Justice for Iran accuse Iran of building at least seven mass graves in six provinces containing thousands of bodies from executions of suspected Mujahedeen-e Khalq towards the end of the 1980-88 war. (RFE/RL)

The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq declares an end to major combat operations against ISIL in Iraq and closes the Coalition Forces Land Component Command headquarters. The U.S.-led coalition says in a statement that it would transition “from supporting and enabling combat operations to the training and development of self-sufficient Iraqi security-related capabilities”. (Reuters)

South Korea president Moon Jae-in suggests that Donald Trump should receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to help denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. (The Washington Post)

The German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that last year’s visit of the Vietnamese public security minister and his entourage to Slovakia was used to cover for the abduction of a dissident Vietnamese entrepreneur Trịnh Xuân Thanh who had previously emigrated to Germany. (The Slovak Spectator)

Sajid Javid becomes the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary following the resignation of Amber Rudd over the Windrush scandal. He is the first Home Secretary from an ethnic minority background. (BBC)

The Palestinian National Council, the legislative arm of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, convenes for the first time in nine years in Ramallah. The agenda includes voting in a new eighteen-member PLO Executive Committee, transforming the Palestinian Authority into a state with its own institutions and monetary system, and cessation of ties with Israel. Gazan rivals Hamas are not invited. (al-Jazeera)

 

Sunday, Apr 29, 2018

 The Syrian Army, along with what is believed to be Iranian-backed militias, took control villages east of the Euphrates river near the city of Deir ez-Zor that were under the control by Kurdish-led forces in a rare clash with the Syrian Democratic Forces. The territory was later recaptured by U.S.-backed forces in a counter-attack spearheaded by the YPG with help from U.S.-led coalition jets that took off from American bases in northern Syria. The U.S. military says in a statement that the “coalition used established deconfliction channels to de-escalate the situation”. (Reuters)

 

Syrian state media, Syrian Arab News Agency, reports missile strikes have targeted military sites in the Hama Governorate and Aleppo Governorate. It is unclear who carried out the strikes. (Xinhuanet)

 An Israeli military officer states IDF snipers are targeting the legs of protestors and deaths are largely the unintentional result of protestors bending over, missing shots, and the subsequent rounds ricocheting from intended targets. (Haaretz)

In response to a Yesh Din petition to the Israeli High Court calling for a ban on the use of live rounds to prevent protestors breaching the border fence, the Israeli government says its rules of engagement meet local and international law, that intelligence used to justify decisions will be submitted to the court, and that the protests are considered part of the ongoing conflict with Hamas. (Ynetnews)

South Korean officials say that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stated during his summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he would close the country’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site in May. (SCMP)

The leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany and France agree on their support for the Iran nuclear deal as the best way to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. (The Hill)

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the United States will quit the agreement if its “flaws” can’t be fixed. (Bloomberg)

The Central Criminal Court in Baghdad, Iraq, sentences nineteen Russian women, six Azerbaijani women, and four Tajikistani women to life in prison for membership to ISIL. (The Sunday Times)

Brazil surfer Rodrigo Koxa breaks the record for the largest wave ever surfed. The wave occured off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal and measured 24.4 meters (80 feet). (BBC)

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Skin In The Game

Doctors at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, perform the world’s first successful transplant of a penis and scrotum from a deceased donor to a U.S. soldier injured in Afghanistan. The testicles are not transplanted. (BBC)

Scientists using infrared spectroscopy data from the Gemini North telescope have established the presence of hydrogen sulfide in the clouds of your anus. (Time)

Actress Natalie Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, pulls out of the upcoming Genesis Prize (worth 1 million USD) ceremony in Israel over “recent events in Israel”. The Genesis Prize Foundation says it is worried the event will become politicised. (CBS News)

A British man reported last month to be suffering what doctors called the “worst-ever” super-gonorrhoea is said by Public Health England to have been cured. (BBC)

Prosecutors in Minnesota say nobody will be charged over the death of Prince, who accidentally overdosed on counterfeit fentanyl pills. (BBC)

 

A Chernobyl ‘suicide squad’

 

Horrifying Details Emerge About Alleged Sex-Cult Recruiter Allison Mack at Bail Hearing
‘Slaves’ in the NXIVM cult were allegedly forced to starve themselves, not remove their pubic hair, not masturbate, and were directed by Mack to have sex with leader Keith Raniere.

 

Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded

 

Facebook? It’s the Government I Don’t Trust
by Bunky Mortimer III
April 20, 2018

The assumption behind last week’s congressional hearing was simple: that people—in the words of the greatest prophet of any age, Alexis de Tocqueville—have “neglected their chief business, which is to remain their own masters.” How shallow has man’s political conviction become that it can be swayed by a few memes? I long for the curt rejoinder of Margaret Thatcher—whom I met, of course—that “each person must make up their own mind.” Yet the basis of the modern political campaign—as gestated by those asses, the Democrats—is that we don’t really have minds. This was as much as I gleaned from the Clinton postmortem Shattered before throwing it overboard: that the electorate is a kind of barren womb, waiting for the precious seed of political intelligence to be implanted from above. In this grand fertilization, Facebook plays the role of the turkey baster. All this was tickety-boo when it was loaded with the saccharine drip of Obama’s emo-Marxism. But when Donald Trump’s tiny hands found their way to the same lever? Oh, no!

 

Thursday, Apr 26,  2018

Ronny Jackson withdraws VA secretary nomination Embattled White House physician Ronny Jackson said Thursday that he is “regretfully withdrawing” his name to be veterans affairs secretary, saying that while he had expected tough questions about the Department of Veterans Affairs, “I did not expect to have to dignify baseless and anonymous attacks on my character and integrity.” He called the allegations against him “completely false and fabricated.” The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee had indefinitely suspended confirmation hearings this week as lawmakers received allegations from current and former colleagues that Jackson had crashed a government vehicle while drunk, drank on the job, and handed out prescription drugs “like candy.”Source: Reuters

Michael Cohen to plead the Fifth in Stormy Daniels case On Wednesday, President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen told a federal judge he will assert his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself in the Stormy Daniels case, The Washington Post reports. Daniels, who said she had an affair with Trump in 2006, was paid $130,000 by Cohen right before the 2016 presidential election, and is suing to get out of a non-disclosure agreement she signed with him. Cohen’s home, hotel room, and office were raided by FBI agents earlier this month, and Cohen, who is requesting to pause proceedings in the case, said they seized electronic devices and documents containing information relating to the payment to Daniels. Lawyers for Cohen, Trump, and the Trump Organization are asking to see the material before it goes to prosecutors, and Trump’s attorney said he would be available “as needed” to review the documents.Source: The Washington Post

Wednesday,  Apr 25,  2018

Scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China state that North Korea’s nuclear test site, the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site at Mount Mantap, would have collapsed just minutes after the country performed its sixth nuclear test and opened up a hole of up to 656 feet (200 m) in diameter. It has been one of the possible reasons given for North Korea agreement to suspend nuclear and missile tests. (Fortune)

Around 500 experts from over 70 countries meet in Paris to start a two-day counterterror conference discussing methods of cutting financing to Al-Qaeda and ISIL. (The Tampa Bay Times)

The President of the Community of Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, resigns after the discovery of a video of her stealing anti-aging cream in a supermarket and after several weeks of controversy after it came to light that she obtained her master’s degree fraudulently. (BBC)

Danish inventor and submariner Peter Madsen is convicted of the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall and sentenced to life in prison. (BBC)

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department arrest Joseph James DeAngelo in connection to the Golden State Killer case. (The Week)

Texas senator Ted Cruz said he will support Donald Trump in the 2020 elections. (Arutz Sheva)

A flaw, called the “Ghost in the Locks” exploit, is reported with hotel keycard systems created by the Swedish lock company Assa Abloy. The company states that they began deploying a patch in February. (BBC)

The European Space Agency releases the largest-ever 3D map of stars in our galaxy from the Gaia spacecraft. (Le Monde)

Astronomers detect light from fourteen colliding galaxies. Due to the distances involved, the light comes from events 12 billion years ago. (BBC)

 Tuesday,   Apr 24, 2018

Donald Trump meets with French president Emmanuel Macron to discuss the Iran nuclear deal along with economics and trading. (i24) (USA Today)

An alleged arson attack kills 18 in a karaoke lounge in Qingyuan, China. A suspect is arrested. (The Guardian)

Thailand expresses its interest in hosting the planned summit meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (ABC News)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission fines Altaba US$35 million for failing to disclose its 2014 data breach in a timely manner. (CNET)

A former MP from Poland’s Samoobrona party is charged with spying for Russia and China. (Radio Poland)

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Take Out The Gunman

 

Wednesday,  Apr 18,  2018

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant opens its doors to tourism. (TASS)

 CIA Director Pompeo secretly met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un President Trump confirmed Wednesday that over Easter weekend, CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a covert visit to North Korea on behalf of the administration and met with Kim Jong Un. Trump told reporters that Pompeo “had a great meeting with Kim Jong Un and got along with him really well, really great.” Pompeo’s visit was an effort to lay the groundwork for a summit between Trump and Kim regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, per The Washington Post. The meeting was held soon after Trump nominated Pompeo to be secretary of state, and about a week later, U.S. officials said the government had directly confirmed Kim was willing to discuss possible denuclearization. Source: The Washington Post

Trump administration reportedly decides against new Russia sanctions The Trump administration has apparently decided not to levy new sanctions on Russia. The White House informed the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C., that no additional sanctions are coming, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told CNN. The decision comes after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that new sanctions would be coming to “send a strong message” to Russia about its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other administration figures rushed to backpedal Haley’s statement, with National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow saying that Haley’s announcement was the result of “momentary confusion.” Kudlow later clarified that Haley wasn’t confused, but rather was following “what she thought was policy. The policy was changed and she wasn’t told about it.” Source: The New York Times

Miguel Díaz-Canel expected to succeed Raúl Castro as Cuban president Cuban President Raúl Castro is expected to step down this week, with Miguel Díaz-Canel the lone candidate to be his successor. The move comes less than two years after the death of Fidel Castro, who was the brother of 86-year-old Raúl. Díaz-Canel, 57, is described by The Washington Post as “a consensus builder unlikely to push for quick or radical change.” He will be the first new leader of the communist island nation after almost 60 years of rule by the Castro brothers. “This is about institutionalizing the regime,” explained Jorge Domínguez, a Cuba expert at Harvard University, adding: “If you are someone who really wants the regime to endure, it’s what Raúl needs to do.” Source: The Washington Post

 

Tuesday,   Apr 17, 2018

In Los Angeles, SpaceX announced that they will build a massive rocket named BFR capable of sending humans to Mars. (PC Magazine)

A passenger jet suffers an uncontained engine failure during a flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas. One passenger is killed. The aircraft diverts to Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration are considering replacing the U.S. military forces in Syria with a regional Arab force. (Haaretz)

Israel holds services remembering 23,646 Israeli soldiers and 3,134 civilians killed in the conflict. (The Times of Israel)

Egypt invites rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to meet in Cairo in a bid to halt violent protests at the Israeli-Gazan border. (i24 News)

The names of 3,607 employees of Unit 731, a Japanese military medical experimentation unit associated with war crimes during World War II, are released. Prosecutors in the United States had kept their identities secret following the war in exchange for access to data gleaned from the project. (Newsweek)

North Korea and South Korea announce that they are planning to officially end the Korean War by writing a peace agreement. An armistice agreement was reached, ending armed conflict, in 1953. U.S. President Donald Trump called the decision to end the war a blessing. (Business Insider)

United States officials state that Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Mike Pompeo met with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un. (WBIR-TV)

The European Commission announces plans to force tech companies worldwide that provide services within the European Union to supply data on their users in counterterror investigations. (The Guardian)

Amid anti-government protests, Armenia’s National Assembly swears in former President Serzh Sargsyan as Prime Minister. The opposition call the move a “power grab”. (BBC)

Former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush dies at age 92. (Reuters)

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World’s Oldest Man

Thursday, Apr 12,  2018

Japanese supercentenarian Masazo Nonaka is confirmed as the world’s oldest living man. (Sky News)

http://www.businessinsider.com/most-violent-cities-in-the-world-2018-3

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/musta-israel-agents-pose-palestinians-171218061118857.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-instragram-spacex-mars-ship-2018-4

 

 

Trump backpedals threats against Russia, Syria President Trump appeared to backpedal his threats against Russia and Syria on Thursday after warning a day earlier that missiles “will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” The White House has spent the week debating a response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria last weekend that left dozens dead and hundreds affected. Trump, who frequently lamented former President Barack Obama foregoing “the element of surprise,” said Thursday that he “never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” The president added, “In any event, the United States, under my administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our ‘Thank you America?'” Source: Donald J. Trump, HuffPost

Report: FBI raid on Trump lawyer sought Access Hollywood tape records The FBI was reportedly looking for documents concerning the infamous Access Hollywood tape when they raided the office and residences of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday. The tape, recorded in 2005 and made public just before the 2016 election, caught Trump bragging into a hot mic about kissing and grabbing women by their genitals. While it wasn’t immediately clear what Cohen’s relation might be to the tape, the news “reveals a new front in the investigation into Mr. Cohen that is being led by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan,” The New York Times writes. The FBI agents are also thought to be investigating “hush” payments Cohen might have made to women on Trump’s behalf as well as other possible financial crimes. Source: The New York Times

 

Wednesday,  Apr 11,  2018

 The International Criminal Court finds radical nationalist Serb Vojislav Seselj guilty of war crimes against Bosnians during the Balkans war and sentences him to ten years in prison. He is immediately released as he served more than eleven years in the court’s custody, and takes to Twitter to declare himself “proud of my war crimes”. (al-Jazeera)

The family of a man killed in California when his Tesla Model X crashed with the Autopilot engaged says they intend to sue the carmaker. His wife further says he had complained of flaws in the vehicle’s behaviour and predicted his death in a collision with the barrier his car ultimately hit. (Electrek)

The death toll from tainted alcohol in Jakarta and West Java, Indonesia, reaches at least 82. (Reuters)

The Royal Saudi Air Defense intercepts a ballistic missile fired from Yemen over the Saudi capital Riyadh that caused panic among residents. Houthis say they fired several Burkan-2 missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Aramco oil facilities. Separately, Saudi Air Defenses shoot down two Houthi-operated Qasef-1 drones near the border. (Reuters)

Spain’s Audiencia Nacional sentences ten Islamic extremists to between eight and twelve years in prison for a plot to launch attacks against Barcelona landmarks and behead a hostage on camera. The cell was convicted yesterday. (El País)

The Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court jails two Egyptians and a Saudi for fifteen years each and fines them for promoting terrorist ideologies online. The court orders them deported after release, their computer equipment seized, and their social media presences deleted. (Gulf News)

An Ilyushin Il-76 military plane crashes shortly after take-off from Boufarik Military Airport in Algeria, killing all 257 passengers on board. (BBC)

Poland releases a new report on the disaster, which killed 96 including then-President Lech Kaczyński, rejecting previous findings and claiming instead air traffic controllers in Smolensk, Russia, gave the jet erroneous information prior to two explosions destroying the jet in midair. (Radio Poland)

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand, leaving existing permits untouched. (The New Zealand Herald)

Elmira Medynska, the partner of Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, tells his inquest at the Central Criminal Court in London he seemed nervous and had been unwell prior to his death. The inquest is attempting to determine if Perepilichnyy had been murdered. (BBC)

South Korean politician Ahn Hee-jung is indicted on accusations he repeatedly raped his aide Kim Ji-eun, who previously accused him publicly of sexual abuse. (Gulf News)

South Korea national security adviser Chung Eui-yong visits Washington, D.C. and meets with his U.S. counterpart John R. Bolton. (Yonhap News Agency)

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The Titanic

Monday,  Apr 9, 2018

 MV Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship at 206,912 tonnes, begins her first voyage with paying passengers. (Stuff)

Tesla’s Q1 Numbers Have A Dark Side

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/state-of-failure/

Syrian Showdown: Trump vs. the Generals
by Patrick J. Buchanan

April 06, 2018

 

Trump vows decision after ‘barbaric’ Syrian chemical attack President Trump said Monday that he will decide within the next 24 to 48 hours how to respond to a “heinous,” “barbaric” chemical weapon attack in Syria over the weekend that left as many as 70 people dead. “We’re talking about humanity and it can’t be allowed to happen,” Trump said. He added that Russian President Vladimir Putin “may” bear some responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Putin ally, saying that if Putin was involved, “it’s going to be very tough.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized Trump for apparently walking back his stated desire to pull troops from Syria, saying the U.S. appears to be “[establishing] a foothold there for a very long time.” Source: The New York Times

North Korea reportedly told U.S. Kim Jong Un ready to talk denuclearization North Korean officials have directly notified the United States that leader Kim Jong Un is prepared to discuss his country’s nuclear weapons program when he meets with President Trump, The Associated Press reports. Two members of the Trump administration confirmed with AP on Sunday that Pyongyang directly communicated with the U.S., but would not say when or how this contact occurred. Last month, South Korean leaders visiting Washington passed along an invitation from Kim to Trump to hold a summit, with Trump immediately accepting the offer. They have not yet set a date for their meeting. Source: The Associated Press

China has started ranking citizens with a creepy ‘social credit’ system

In a new apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis mentions Satan or the Devil twelve times. Warning against Catholic media transgressing the eighth commandment, he calls to “see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze.” (Reuters)

The New Zealand Overseas Investment Office approves the sale of clothing company Icebreaker to US retail conglomerate VF Corporation, revealing the sale price as NZ$288 million. (Stuff)

US entertainer Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial begins. As he enters the court a topless woman with the words Women’s Lives Matter written on her body charges him and is arrested. (AP via Fredricksburg.com)

Around 2,500 police armed with tear gas launch a raid in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, France, in a bid to force the removal of 250 activists who have occupied the site of the proposed Aéroport du Grand Ouest for ten years to prevent its construction. The proposed airport is abandoned but the activists refuse to leave their community. (The Guardian)

Reich’s Laboratory
by Steve Sailer

March 28, 2018

Sunday, Apr 8, 2018

The death toll from yesterday’s suspected chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, rises to at least 70, according to the White Helmets group. The Syrian government and Russia deny the allegations of a chemical attack. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump warns Russia and Iran for backing Bashar al-Assad and calls him “Animal Assad”. (Sky News)

8 missiles are launched at the Syrian T4 air base, reportedly by Israeli F-15s. 5 of the missiles are shot down by the Syrian Air Defense Force.  (BBC) (Reuters)

Israeli Defence Forces fire shells at Palestinians on foot near the border fence, saying the men had crossed the fence before reentering the Gaza Strip near Gaza City. (Haaretz)

Gazan hospitals declare a state of emergency owing to the thousands injured. (al-Jazeera)

 

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American Stalinism

Friday,  Apr 6, 2018

Saudi Arabia plans to build a Hyperloop

 

Trump considering hitting China with an additional $100 billion in tariffs President Trump announced Thursday that he is contemplating imposing an additional $100 billion in tariffs against China, piling on to the $50 billion already authorized by the White House. Trump said the increase is in response to China’s decision to raise import duties on U.S. products, including soybeans and pork, by up to 25 percent, which he called an “unfair retaliation” against the U.S. “Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers,” Trump said. Source: The New York Times

Ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye sentenced to 24 years for corruption A court in Seoul convicted former South Korean President Park Geun-hye of bribery, extortion, abuse of power, and other corruption-related charges on Friday and sentenced her to 24 years in prison and a $16.8 million fine. Park, who maintains her innocence, was not in court to hear the verdict. She has a week to appeal the verdict. Park was impeached in December 2016 and removed from office in March 2017 by the Constitutional Court, and the scandal has also taken down longtime ally Choi Soon-sil, who is serving 20 years, and dozens of other government and business leaders, most prominently Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong, whose five-year sentence was cut in half and suspended. Source: The Associated Press

 

Thursday, Apr 5,  2018

The Israeli Defence Forces releases footage of a man fatally shot yesterday during an apparent attempt to breach the Gazan border fence. Israel says he was carrying an AK-47 and explosive devices including grenades, and accused Hamas of “playing with fire”. (Ynet News)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko holds a press conference in Vinnytsia announcing the end of the Anti Terror Operation in Donbass in May. It will be replaced with a military force. (UNIAN)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calls 15 peaceful anti-war protestors arrested last month at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul terrorists and says they will not be allowed to complete their education. (Times Higher Education)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he is willing to resume six-party talks. (Yahoo! News)

Vasily Nebenzya, the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, tells the UN Security Council the United Kingdom has created a “fake story” and says Russia has “told our British colleagues that you are playing with fire and you will be sorry.” UK UN representative Karen Pierce tells the Security Council UK actions “stand up to any scrutiny” and compares Russian requests to join the investigation to an arsonist investigating their own fire. (BBC)

Brazilian federal judge Sérgio Moro orders the arrest of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by late Friday to begin serving a 12-year sentence for corruption. (Reuters)

Newly released documentation reveals Benjamin Morrow, a man killed by an explosion on March 5 in his home in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, possessed white supremacist literature, five guns with ammunition, boxes of binary explosives, jars of explosive TATP, and a small explosives manufacturing laboratory. (Wisc News)

An arrest warrant is issued for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Conor McGregor after he was involved in a melee at a press conference at the Barclays Center in New York City ahead of UFC 223. Video footage appears to show McGregor throwing a guard rail through a window of the Khabib Nurmagomedov team bus. (The Guardian)

White House: U.S. involvement in Syria coming to ‘rapid end’ The White House on Wednesday said that U.S. military involvement in Syria is “coming to a rapid end.” Roughly 2,000 American troops are still in the country, assisting in the fight against the Islamic State. In a statement, the White House said that ISIS is “almost completely destroyed,” and as such, the U.S. will seek to wind down its combat presence. “The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated,” the statement read. “We will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans.” No timetable was offered for withdrawal. Source: NBC News, The Associated Press

Mueller’s team is reportedly questioning Russian oligarchs In recent weeks, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team has questioned Russian oligarchs traveling in the United States, and in at least one case searched a man’s electronic devices after he disembarked from his private jet in the New York City area, several people familiar with the matter told CNN on Wednesday. Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and by showing interest in Russian oligarchs, it reveals his team is focusing on the possible flow of foreign money to President Trump’s campaign and inauguration fund, CNN reports. Under campaign finance laws, foreign nationals are not allowed to donate to U.S. political campaigns. Source: CNN

Facebook says Cambridge Analytica breach affected up to 87 million users Personal information from up to 87 million Facebook users was improperly shared with data firm Cambridge Analytica, Facebook revealed Wednesday — significantly more than the company’s previous estimate of 50 million. Most of the 87 million users were Americans, the social media company explained in a blog post. Facebook will start notifying users next week if their information was improperly obtained. Facebook has been under intense scrutiny since reports found that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm with ties to President Trump, had harvested user information without permission. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee to address the “breach of trust.” Source: Facebook

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