Myopia

A Narrow View of Things
by Theodore Dalrymple
June 16, 2018

In North Korea I saw no one on the street, in the mass parades, or at the stadium seating 150,000 people wearing them and thought this strange, as Koreans are genetically predisposed to myopia. When I asked my personal spy who accompanied me everywhere where the people who wore glasses were, he replied, “That is a problem we have solved.” It was not by laser surgery, either, though the precise method of the solution went unsolved. The three successive heads of the Kim dynasty have all worn glasses, evidence of their superior, indeed unprecedented, intelligence…. If you kill all the people of above-average intelligence, your chances of having above-average intelligence yourself rise.

 

Monday, Jun 18, 2018

Japan lowers the age of adulthood from 20 to 18, with the changes coming into effect in 2022. The revision to Japan’s civil code means that 18-year-olds will be able to marry without their parents’ consent, apply for credit cards and loans, and transgender people will be able to have their new gender officially recognised. The change causes confusion and concern regarding the kimono industry and Coming of Age Day. (The Guardian)

A missing Indonesian woman’s body is found inside a python, being one of only two fully documented cases of a human being consumed by a snake. (The Hindu)

Audi CEO arrested in widening VW diesel scandal Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was arrested in Germany on Monday in the latest fallout from the diesel-emissions cheating scandal at the automaker’s parent company, Volkswagen. “We confirm that Mr. Stadler was arrested this morning,” a VW spokesman said Monday, noting that Stadler was presumed innocent like any suspect. Audi made no immediate comment. The arrest came as Munich prosecutors expand their investigation into the scandal to look at possible fraud and false advertising at Audi, VW’s luxury brand. VW shares were down about 1.6 percent from Friday’s closing price. Source: Reuters

 

 

Sunday, Jun 17, 2018

Wynn Resorts Ltd. says that two board members, including one investigating sexual misconduct allegations against former Chief Executive Steve Wynn, will leave their posts after Elaine Wynn, the company’s largest shareholder, presses for additional board changes. (The Wall Street Journal)

In an upset victory, Mexico beats Germany 1–0, handing them their first opening loss in a World Cup since 1982. (TSN)

Twin suicide bombings in Damboa, Nigeria, leave at least 31 people dead. The explosions are reportedly followed by rockets fired from outside the town. (BBC)

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake strikes Osaka, Japan, at 7:58 a.m. local time (22:58 UTC). At least two people have been killed and several are transported to hospitals with injuries. Electrical services are disrupted citywide, affecting 170,000 buildings. (NHK)

Iván Duque wins the second round presidential election to become the new President of Colombia. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Jun 16, 2018

Boris Becker, who was once the highest ranked men’s singles tennis player in the world, has claimed diplomatic immunity from a bankruptcy claim by private bankers Arbuthnot Latham, based on his role as a sports attaché to the European Union from the Central African Republic. (Reuters)

Saudi Arabian-led coalition troops seize control of Hodeida International Airport in Al Hudaydah after driving out Houthi forces. Around 280 people have been reportedly killed in the last four days inside the Yemeni port city. (Sky News)

The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency states that the eruption of lower Puna has destroyed 467 homes in total. (Upi)

The coalition government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survives a vote of no-confidence brought by the opposition party over a deal to end the dispute. (AP)

First time qualifier Iceland holds off a late charge from two-time champion Argentina and comes away with a 1-1 draw in the opening World Cup matches for both countries. (ESPN)

 

Friday,  Jun 15, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has his bail revoked for allegedly tampering with witnesses, and is sent to jail to await his trial for foreign lobbying charges. (CNN)

The Afghan Ministry of Defense reports that Mullah Fazlullah, the emir of the Pakistani Taliban, was killed in Kunar province by an U.S. drone strike two days prior on June 13. (NBC News)

The United States imposes a 25% tariff on goods imported from China worth $50 billion, set to come into effect on July 6, and accuses Beijing of “intellectual copyright theft”. (BBC)

Cristiano Ronaldo scores a hat-trick achieving Portugal’s 3–3 draw against Spain. (Reuters)

 

 Thursday, Jun 14,  2018

The U.S. Department of Justice publishes a 568-page report by Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz on the FBI’s handling of its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices. The report is critical of former FBI Director James Comey, accusing him of being “insubordinate”, but finding that his actions were not politically biased. (BBC)

The Message is the first Arabic film commercially screened in Saudi Arabia. (Quartz)

EU countries approve tariffs worth €2.8 billion in retaliation against U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium. (AFP via Yahoo! News)

The Senate of France approves a bill to reform the SNCF railway company. The French state writes off €35 billion of SNCF’s €47 billion debt, but remains the sole owner of the joint-stock company with two subsidiaries: operator SNCF Mobility and infrastructure manager SNCF Network. (International Railway Journal)

Hosts Russia beat Saudi Arabia 5–0 in the opening match, with two goals by Denis Cheryshev. (BBC Sport)

The End

Bad Blood

Thursday, Jun 14,  2018

Blood Simple
by Steve Sailer
June 13, 2018

Some other lessons from the Theranos debacle involve the plausibility of conspiracy theorizing. After all, the cast of famous operators who played supporting roles in the Elizabeth Holmes saga makes it sound like this, if anything, ought to be a conspiracy of some sort, right?

And yet the tale turned out to be one couple hoodwinking the Bohemian Grove members.

Now, we are often told that conspiracy theories couldn’t possibly be true because no organization could keep a secret for very long (although Britain’s vast Bletchley Park code-breaking project during WWII was kept confidential until the 1970s.)

And yet Theranos had been in business for twelve years and had fired hundreds of disillusioned employees before anybody published a debunking article.

No, the real weakness in most conspiracy theories is the sheer quantity of elite ineptitude. It turns out that, unlike in 1984 or Brave New World, there is no Inner Party of Machiavellian but informed insiders who actually know what’s going on. Hence, even the guys who won the Cold War were made fools of by a megalomaniacal young lady with the winds of the zeitgeist at her back.

 

Justice Department watchdog expected to slam FBI over Clinton email probe On Thursday afternoon, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will release his anticipated report on the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The report is expected to criticize former FBI Director James Comey for violating longstanding DOJ policies by criticizing Clinton’s email use while announcing the FBI found no wrongdoing and then publicly reopening the investigation a week before the 2016 election. Horowitz may also criticize former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — the report already contributed to his firing — and others. When he launched the investigation in January 2017, however, Horowitz made clear he would not second-guess the decision to not press charges against Clinton. Clinton and others have said Comey’s actions cost her the election. Source: NPR

2018 World Cup begins with match between Russia, Saudi Arabia The world’s most widely-viewed sporting event, the soccer World Cup, begins Thursday in Russia, where the national team will face off against Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Russia is the lowest-ranked team in the 2018 World Cup, having failed to win their last seven friendly matches since last October, while Saudi Arabia last reached the global finals in 1994. “Never mind that it’s the least appealing World Cup opener ever,” writes Henry Bushnell for Yahoo Sports. “If you’re a soccer fan, you watch the World Cup opener.” Games can be watched on Fox or Fox Sports 1, or in Spanish on Telemundo or NBC Universo. Russia vs. Saudi Arabia kicks off at 11 a.m. ET. Source: Sporting News

 

Wednesday,  Jun 13,  2018

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili resigns following anti-government protests. (RFE/RL)

Saudi-led coalition forces begin an operation to take control of the Yemeni port city of Al Hudaydah, which has been held by the Houthis since 2015. (BBC News)

Volkswagen is fined €1 billion by German prosecutors after cheating on diesel particulate emissions testing. (BBC News)

The FIFA Congress votes to hold the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, with Morocco’s World Cup bid coming in second. (BBC Sport)

Julen Lopetegui is ousted as coach of Spanish national football team, one day before the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (The Guardian)

 

Tuesday,  Jun 12, 2018

Tesla announces that it intends to cut 3000 jobs in an attempt to improve profitability. Many of those workers will be offered alternative jobs under the same employer. (BBC)

A U.S. federal judge approves AT&T’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner. (NPR)

Seattle’s city council votes 7–2 to repeal a controversial employer head tax, which was approved a month earlier. (The Guardian)

Hurricane Bud grows into a category four hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour (210 km/h) off of the Pacific Coast of Mexico. (CBS News)

Germany issues a recall of 73,000 eggs from the Netherlands suspected to be contaminated with fipronil. (BBC)

The United States unveils a new 6.5-hectare (16-acre) complex in Taipei for the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy. (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un meet for a historic summit on Sentosa Island in Singapore. This marks the first time that the leaders of both countries have met. (BBC)

The End

Bad Blood will next be filmed by Will Ferrell’s pal Adam McKay (director of the Big Short mortgage movie) with Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes.


https://twitter.com/SecPompeo

Kill Urself

The Latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy for 2018 is out. It covers everything through 2017.

Excel Spreadsheet available here.

 

Why Is Suicide Becoming So Trendy?
by Jim Goad
June 11, 2018

Tuesday,  Jun 12, 2018

Trump and Kim end summit with signing of denuclearization document President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wrapped up their historic five-hour summit in Singapore on Tuesday by signing a document in which Trump “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea and Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Both leaders also pledged to “join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” There were no specific details on how these goals would be reached. Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that they hadn’t discussed withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea, but said “we’re not going to play the war games” anymore, because they’re “very provocative.” Trump said at a news conference later that he wants to “bring our soldiers home.” Source: The Associated Press, ABC News

 

 Monday,  Jun 11, 2018

NASA’s Opportunity rover is temporarily shut down due to a dust storm. (BGR)

Deontay Wilder accepts the terms to fight Anthony Joshua. (ESPN)

Sunday, Jun 10, 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive in Singapore ahead of the upcoming summit. (BBC)

A warehouse holding ballot boxes from elections last month burns down in Baghdad. Several politicians say the fire was a criminal act aimed at destabilising the state following a disputed election result. (BBC)

Authorities in Afghanistan announce the seizure of 156 sacks of ammonium nitrate being imported on a truck from Pakistan. This is one of the largest seizures of the compound, most commonly used as a fertilizer, but also used to manufacture explosives. (Reuters)

Tens of thousands of Basque nationalists form a 202-kilometre (126 mi) human chain asking for greater autonomy. (BBC)

In the men’s singles final, Rafael Nadal defeats Dominic Thiem and wins his 11th title at Roland Garros. (BBC)

 

Saturday,  Jun 9, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump calls for “fair and reciprocal” trades between the United States and other countries, claiming that the United States is a “piggy bank that everyone keeps robbing”. (VOA) (BBC)

Donald Trump again calls for Russia to be reinstated into the group. Russia was suspended after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. (CNN)

Trump retracts his endorsement of the summit’s final communiqué. (CBS News)

The Taliban announce a three-day Eid ceasefire with the Afghan authorities, according to Pajhwok Afghan News. On Thursday, President Ashraf Ghaniannounced a ceasefire with the Taliban from June 12–19. (TASS)

The 18th Council of Heads of State meets in Qingdao, China. (The Nation)

Over 100,000 people participate in a large protest in Bucharest, Romania, against apparent judicial abuses and “illegitimate interference” of the secret services in the political and judicial systems. The protest was organised by the governing Social Democratic Party and supported by other political parties. (The Washington Post)

Justify wins the Belmont Stakes and becomes the second horse in four years to win the U.S. Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. (The New York Times)

 

 Friday,  Jun 8, 2018

The 10-megawatt IBM Summit supercomputer is unveiled at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, East Tennessee. With a reported 200 petaflops of processing power, it is expected to top the list of the world’s most powerful computers after this June’s update is presented at the International Supercomputing Conference. (Wired)

U.S. President Donald Trump calls for Russia, which was suspended from the group after the annexation of Crimea in 2014, to be reinstated in the group; a call supported by the Prime Minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte, and rejected by most other G7 leaders. (Deutsche Welle)

The military chiefs of both countries, Joseph Dunford and Valery Gerasimov, meet in Finland. (AP via ABC News)

On Quds Day – the last Friday of Ramadan – thousands of Palestinians protest near the Gaza border fence. Israeli troops fire live rounds and tear gas, killing four people and injuring over 600. (AP via CBS News)

A U.S. special forces soldier is killed and four others are wounded in an ambush by suspected al-Shabaab militants near the town of Jamame, Lower Juba, Somalia. (BBC)

The Walt Disney Company announces that its animation chief, John Lasseter, will leave the company after December 31, after he was accused of misconduct late last year. (Deadline)

The military chiefs of both countries, Joseph Dunford and Valery Gerasimov, meet in Finland. (AP via ABC News)

In basketball, the Golden State Warriors defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games to win the National Basketball Association Championship. (New York Times)

THE END

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)

More Below The Fold  Continue reading “Can We Build a Brain?”

Kilauea

Tuesday,   May 8, 2018

Trump to unveil Iran nuclear deal decision; poll heavily favors keeping deal President Trump said Monday he will announce at 2 p.m. on Tuesday whether he is unilaterally pulling the U.S. out of a deal with Iran, China, Russia, and European allies that prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons at least through 2030, and Trump is widely expected to scrap the deal. Trump, a longterm critic of the 2015 deal, has until May 12 to decide whether to withdraw, which would put him at odds with all the other signatory nations. A CNN poll out Tuesday shows that to be an unpopular choice, with 63 percent of Americans preferring to stay in the deal and only 29 percent saying the U.S. should pull out.  Source: The New York Times, CNN

Jeff Sessions: Families entering U.S. illegally will be split up Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Monday that the Trump administration is splitting up all undocumented parents and children who cross the border together, with the parents immediately sent to detention centers and federal court. “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said during a law enforcement conference in Arizona. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.” The children will go to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and then either be placed with relatives in the United States or private shelters. Children and parents who seek asylum at the border will not be separated, administration officials said. Source: NBC News

Hawaii volcano eruption destroys at least 31 homes At least 31 houses and buildings have been destroyed by lava flowing from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, officials said Monday. The eruption started late Thursday afternoon, and scientists said that at one point lava was spewing more than 200 feet into the air. U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said that new fissures have emerged in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, and that “there’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue.” She also warned about toxic sulfur dioxide gas pouring from the fissures. More than 1,700 people have been evacuated from the area, and it’s unknown when they’ll be able to return to the neighborhood. Source: CBS News, Los Angeles Times

The United States Navy re-establishes the United States Second Fleet, which was disbanded in 2011, citing recent heightened tensions between NATO and Russia. (Reuters)

A Russian Sukhoi-30SM crashes after leaving an airbase in Khmeimim, Latakia, Syria. Both crew die. (The Guardian)

The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Uzumcu says that up to 100 grams of liquid nerve agent were used in the chemical attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal – around half a cup of liquid, suggesting it was intended for use as a weapon and was not created for research purposes. (The Guardian)

Oliver North, a former Ronald Reagan aide and marine, becomes the new president of the National Rifle Association. (The Hill)

In official results, Hezbollah and allied parties win a slight majority of seats in Parliament. (Reuters)

NASA’s InSight Mars lander launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California. It is the first interplanetary mission launched from the West Coast of the United States. (CBS News)

Monday,  May 7, 2018

American superhero film Avengers: Infinity War becomes the fastest film to make US$1 billion worldwide, in just eleven days. (BGR)

Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition destroy the Presidential Palace in Sana’a, Yemen, with at least six killed and 30 injuries reported, coalition officials claim they had targeted high-ranking Houthi officials. (Yahoo! News)

Hamas has offered Israel a longterm ceasefire including prisoner exchanges, in return for reductions to the Gaza blockade, and infrastructural improvement. (The Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Latvian bank ABLV sues the European Central Bank in the Court of Justice of the European Union, saying the ECB triggered ABLV’s collapse. The bank failed following allegations by the United States that ABLV was laundering money on behalf of North Korea. (Reuters)

The United States Department of Defense says it has resumed accepting deliveries of F-35 warplanes from manufacturer Lockheed Martin after resolving a dispute over a production error which was leading to corrosion. (Reuters)

About 35 structures in Leilani Estates are destroyed during the Kīlauea eruption in Hawaii. (KFOR-TV)

The United States imposes sanctions on three Venezuelans and 20 drug entities for trafficking activity. (Yahoo! News)

Paraguay announces that it will move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of May. Paraguay is the third country to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem after the United States and Guatemala. (Reuters)

Egyptian chief prosecutor Nabil Sadek refers 555 ISIL suspects suspected of 63 terror attacks to a military court, while the Giza Criminal Court in Cairo sentences nine terrorists to life imprisonment and two others to five years imprisonment each. (The Times of Israel)

The Knesset approves by 55 votes to 14 a bill designed to confiscate payments made by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists in Israel. (Arutz Sheva)

Finland says compensation payouts for wrongful convictions and imprisonments have quadrupled in ten years, with three million euros paid in 2017 versus 720,000 euros in 2007. (YLE)

Centrist opposition party Democratic Party merges with centre-right Party of Hope, forming the Democratic Party for the People. Members of both parties that disapproved of the merger choose to either join the Constitutional Democratic Party, become independents or remain in the Party of Hope. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Attorney General of New York Eric Schneiderman, whose office sued The Weinstein Company for sexual harassment and discrimination, resigns amid allegations of violence towards four women during his tenure as Attorney General. (NBC News)

Scientists discover that WASP-96b has an atmosphere that is free of clouds. (Phys.org)

 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

 Hamas releases videos showing dozens of Palestinians successfully breaching the fence and infiltrating Israel. (Israel National News)

 

French economy minister Bruno Le Maire says Air France may collapse over ongoing strike action and the state will not bail the firm out despite owning 14.3% of parent Air France-KLM. (BBC)

At Leilani Estates, 26 homes and 4 buildings were destroyed by Kīlauea, forcing 1700 people to leave their homes. (Reuters)

Malaysian authorities announce sixteen arrests connected to an international human trafficking ring. The arrests follow the seizure of modified tanker ship MV Etra in Malaysian waters on Tuesday with 127 Sri Lankan migrants on board being smuggled to New Zealand and Australia. The arrests include seven people captured aboard a fishing vessel used to transfer migrants onto MV Etra(The South China Morning Post)

Lebanon holds its first parliamentary election since 2009. (BBC)

Thousands rally in support of freedom of speech in London, United Kingdom amid a recent crackdown on social media. Guest speakers included former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes, and UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Gerard Batten. (The Guardian)

Saturday,  May 5, 2018

The Israeli Air Force used a “hotline” to issue an urgent warning to Khmeimim Airbase in Syria when a Russian fighter jet strayed close to Israeli airspace near the Golan Heights. Last year a Syrian warplane was shot down in a similar incident. (AMN)

Russian police detain about 1,600 anti-government protesters, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny. (RTÉ)

Thousands of people in central Paris demonstrate in an anti-Macron protest against his sweeping reforms. 2,000 security forces are deployed. (ABC)

The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States orders Boeing 787 jets using Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines to operate within one hour of an airport at all times following safety concerns with the engines worldwide which culminated in Air New Zealand and Air China grounding their fleets last week. (The Telegraph)

Pre-race favorite Justify wins the Kentucky Derby, becoming the first horse since 1882 to win the race while unraced as a two-year-old. The race was run under the wettest conditions in its history; by post time, more than 2.8 inches (7.1 cm) of rain had fallen on race day, breaking a record that had lasted since 1918. (WDRB – weather) (CBS Sports)

Friday,  May 4, 2018

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2018 is postponed to 2019 after Jean-Claude Arnault, husband of the former Swedish Academy member Katarina Frostenson, is accused of sexual assault, resulting in her resignation, and leaving the academy without a quorum. (The Guardian)

A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hits Hawaii, the strongest in over 40 years, amid ongoing seismic and volcanic activity. (LA Times)

A heap of mining waste collapses at a jade mine in Kachin State, Myanmar, causing a landslide that kills at least 17 people. Six people are also left injured and an unknown number of people are missing. (AP) (Channel News Asia)

A Turkish cargo ship collides with Greek warship Armatalos off the coast of Lesbos in the Aegean Sea. The Hellenic Navy says the ship then retreated to Turkish waters without responding to radio messages. (The Guardian)

At 23:30 local time, North Korea changes its time zone to match South Korea (UTC+09:00) – a “first practical” impetus for Korean reunification, says the official North Korean agency KCNA. (BBC)

U.S. President Donald Trump announces that he will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on May 22. (Reuters)

Fifty juvenile crocodiles are seized at Heathrow Airport, London, after officials discover that they were being kept in inhumane conditions. (BBC)

An arson attack on a pile of hay bales in the Jordan Valley does hundreds of thousands of Shekels of damage. Local authorities describe the attack as terrorist. (Ynetnews)

A new model suggests that supervolcano eruptions occur more often in regions being pulled by tectonics. (Brinkwire)

Using recent data from the Gaia spacecraft, the value of the Hubble constant is determined to be 73.52±1.62, which confirms a disagreement with other methods of measuring the constant with a confidence of 99.993%. (Inquisitr)

In baseball, the Los Angeles Angels’ Albert Pujols becomes the 32nd Major League Baseball player to reach 3,000 career hits. (Yahoo! Sports)

The End 

Noodle Diplomacy

Around 110 people are killed in a dust storm in northwestern India, with Uttar Pradesh being the hardest hit. (CNN)

 

NASA announces it has completed its first full-power test of the Kilopower nuclear reactor for space. NASA intends to use the technology to power exploration missions to the Moon and Mars. (The Independent)

The fossilized remains of a rhinoceros are found in the Philippines, with cut marks suggesting it was butchered with stone tools. The remains, dated to 709,000 years old by electron spin resonance, suggest a human presence earlier than expected in Southeast Asia. (CNN)

Friday,  May 4, 2018

Report: Scott Pruitt’s travel tied to wish list, lobbyists, GOP donors After Scott Pruitt was confirmed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency last year, he made a list of at least a dozen countries he wanted to visit, then asked his aides to help him come up with official reasons to travel to them, four people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post. Pruitt then recruited conservative activists, lobbyists, and GOP donors like Sheldon Adelson to help craft itineraries. Adelson assisted with the planning of a trip to Israel that Pruitt was set to take in February, the Post reports. That trip was canceled only a few days before Pruitt was scheduled to leave, after the Post reported on his very expensive, taxpayer-funded travel habits. Source: The Washington Post

 

U.S. adds 164,000 jobs in April, unemployment drops to 3.9 percent The Labor Department reported that 164,000 jobs were added in April, significantly short of the expected 193,000 jobs, but up from a weather-related slowdown the month before. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, marking the lowest rate since 2000. “We’ve continued to add jobs routinely every month for so long, and the unemployment rate we have reached is amazing,” said the chief economist of job search site ZipRecruiter, Catherine Barrera. “This is the economy doing well.” The economy only added 103,000 positions in March, but economists dismissed that as a result of a surge in hiring in February, when payrolls grew by 326,000 positions due to unseasonably mild weather. Source: The New York Times, Reuters

Nobel academy will forego literature prize this year amid scandal The Swedish Academy announced Friday that it will not award the Nobel Prize in literature this year, but rather announce the 2018 winner in 2019, citing a desire to “safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize” amid a sexual harassment scandal that has thrown the literature academy into chaos. The scandal centers around photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, a major Swedish cultural figure who is accused of sexually assaulting or harassing 18 women, leaking the name of at least seven laureates, and groping Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria. His wife, poet Katarina Frostenson, is a member of the academy. The academy has refrained from handing out a literature Nobel just seven other times, the last being in 1943, due to war and, in 1935, because no writer was deemed worthy. Source: The Washington Post, The Associated Press

 

 

Thursday, May 3,  2018

The United States Department of State freezes funding to the White Helmets humanitarian group, which conducts urban search and rescue in rebel-held areas of Syria. The U.S. provides one-third of the group’s total funding. (The Hill)

The United Arab Emirates deploys troops on the Yemeni island of Socotra in the Arabian Sea, taking over key installations such as Socotra Airport from Yemeni soldiers. Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr denounces the Emirati ground incursion and hundreds protest demanding their immediate withdrawal. Local media reports the UAE claims to have “leased” the island. (Al Jazeera)

After over 600 earthquakes, including a magnitude 5.0 at Kīlauea, parts of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park have struck, causing the nearby Puʻu ʻŌʻō, to close due to fears of an eruption. The volcano erupted and evacuations were issued. (Big Island Now) (ABC7)

 

Wednesday,  May 2,  2018

A fire started by an incendiary device attached to a kite by Palestinian protestors and flown into Israel burns for six hours. It is the largest fire so far after a string of firebombing attacks. (The Times of Israel)

 

Cambridge Analytica announces that it is closing down as a result of the scandal. (BBC)

North Korea has released the three remaining American detainees ahead of the upcoming summit meeting with Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. The news came after National Security Adviser John R. Bolton stated that they should be released as a way for North Korea to demonstrate its sincerity in talks. (Business Insider)

Helium has been detected for the first time in the atmosphere of an exoplanet by scientists observing WASP-107b. (News Atlas)

Noodle diplomacy: S. Korea’s Blue House serves up dish hailed by Kim Jong-un

 

Peeing in trash cans, constant surveillance, and asthma attacks on the job: Amazon workers tell us their warehouse horror stories

 

THE END

 

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)

More Below The Fold

Continue reading “De-extinction”