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Signs of the Times: The World for People who Think. Featuring independent, unbiased, alternative news and commentary on world events.
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  1. Strong winds, hail and flash floods caused havoc across Serbia on Tuesday, with one person killed when a tree toppled on to her car. Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said the woman died in the northern town of Sombor. Rescuers also had to evacuate several people in the area. Storms also hit Bosnia and Croatia. Flash flooding inundated several neighbourhoods in the southwestern Serbian city of Novi Pazar where authorities declared a state of emergency. Torrential rain, coupled with hail and flash flooding, was also reported in several other areas including the capital Belgrade where a part of a parking lot collapsed in a sink hole. Hail the size of walnuts also damaged property and crops in the Kosovo town Hani i Elez, media reported.
  2. A waterspout thousands of meters high was captured on video washing away boats in the sea off the central Khanh Hoa Province on Wednesday. At around 3:30 p.m. the spout appeared 500 meters from the coast of Van Hung Commune. "The water spout moved fast and lasted around 3-4 minutes," Thuy Diem, who witnessed it, said. "It capsized several boats before making landfall and dissipating."
  3. Bird lovers flocked to a residential street in the hope of spotting an indigo bunting as it made a rare UK appearance. A sighting of the vibrantly blue bird inspired scores of people to descend upon a South Tyneside village over the weekend. People reportedly slept in cars to catch a glimpse of the brightly coloured male, with some reports suggesting it has been spotted in the UK just three times previously. Enterprising Scouts raised more than £100 by selling refreshments to the visitors to Whitburn, near Sunderland.
  4. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned such a move would place NATO in direct conflict with Russia. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has dismissed a proposal tabled by former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Ukrainian government to establish a no-fly zone over the country as dangerous talk. His comments came after Rasmussen and Kiev officials presented a ten-page paper which suggested binding Kiev to NATO by implementing an air defense shield over the western part of the country. Such a move would "protect NATO from Russian missile and drone strikes, but also Ukrainian civilians and military infrastructure in a well-defined area of responsibility inside western Ukraine." This, in turn, would allow Kiev to move air defense systems to the frontline in the east to protect key cities such as Kharkov and Dnepr.
  5. Previously unpublished photos of Mars' moon Phobos hint that the mysterious satellite may actually be a trapped comet — or perhaps just a piece of one, along with its twin moon Deimos. Mars' moon Phobos may actually be a comet — or at least part of one — that was gravitationally captured by the Red Planet long ago, a new preprint study based on previously unpublished photos suggests. For years, researchers have puzzled over the origins of Phobos and its twin, Deimos. Some have theorized that the moons are former asteroids lured in by Mars' gravity, because their chemical composition is similar to that of certain rocks in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. However, computer models simulating this capture process have not been able to replicate the pair's near-circular paths around Mars. Another hypothesis suggests that a giant impact, like that which created our moon, gouged the duo out of the Red Planet; but Phobos has a different chemical composition from Mars,...
  6. Most people alive today carry traces of genes inherited from Neanderthals — the enduring legacy of prehistoric hookups with our extinct cousins. But researchers have long debated when and where that mingling happened, and whether these were one-off romps or commonplace trysts. Now, an analysis of ancient and modern genomes suggests contemporary people's Neanderthal DNA came from a single, prolonged period of mixing some 47,000 years ago. The findings — released last week as a bioRxiv preprint that has yet to undergo peer review — sharpen the timeline for this critical and mysterious juncture in human history. It's the first paper to use dozens of ancient Homo sapiens genomes to address this question, and it may have implications for the timing of other major events in human evolution, such as the peopling of Australia.
  7. Only honest actors like Iran, Russia and Hezbollah should negotiate on the one side and NATO, with its alphabet soup of intelligence agencies and their front media groups, should be got to negotiate, for their first time ever, in good faith. This article's purpose of throwing light on recent "peace" overtures in Gaza and Ukraine necessitates a number of detours, the most pivotal of which is the negotiations British Field Marshal Montgomery engaged in on 4 May 1945 with the German High Command on Lüneburg Heath where he baldly dictated terms of unconditional surrender to them. In this deleted Downfall scene, the Soviets relay the same message regarding Berlin of Germany's total and unconditional surrender to Krebs. Although kindergarten business books like Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal might think all negotiations are as uncomplicated as those facing the Germans in May 1945, that is not the case. Even there, Dönitz, who had succeeded Hitler as head of state, had tried to get...
  8. Comment: It looks more and more like it was a tragic accident... The helicopter carrying Iran's Ebrahim Raisi first went missing when his aircraft convoy encountered a cloud bank, the news agency IRNA reported late on Tuesday, citing the deceased president's chief of staff Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, who was travelling in one of the accompanying aircraft. According to Esmaili, weather conditions early on were normal, but 45 minutes into the flight the pilot of Raisi's aircraft said he would increase altitude to avoid a cloud and ordered the two accompanying helicopters to do the same. Once they started to gain altitude, the two other helicopters suddenly lost sight of Raisi's aircraft, which had been flying in the middle. "After 30 seconds of flying over the clouds, our pilot noticed that the helicopter in the middle had disappeared," Esmaili stated, adding that his aircraft went back and circled the area several times in search of Raisi's helicopter. However, it was forced to abandon...
  9. The equipment Washington sends to Kiev will never change the tide of battle, Eric Prince has said. US weapons shipments to Ukraine are senseless since they are not capable of changing the course of the conflict, Eric Prince, the founder of private American military contractor Blackwater, told journalist Tucker Carlson in an interview published on Tuesday. The military aid to Ukraine is nothing but a "massive grift paid by the Pentagon," Prince stated, adding that the latest major aid package worth $61 billion approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden in April will end up lining the coffers of US defense industry giants. Prince, himself a former Navy SEAL officer, resigned and divested from his company after the 2007 Iraqi massacre scandal. The Blackwater founder said: "Most of that money goes to five major defense contractors to replace at five times the cost the weapons that we have already sent the Ukrainians. It does not change the outcome of the battle. "The Biden...
  10. A federal judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration from fully enforcing a gun background check rule Sunday night. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the rule covering background checks for firearms purchases April 10, claiming it was based on bipartisan legislation passed in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. United States District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from enforcing the rule against the state of Texas and certain gun organizations until June 2. The rule would dramatically expand the definition of when someone is "engaged in business" as a gun dealer subject to background check regulations, thereby expanding the number of who must submit to background checks. Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt said: "President [Joe] Biden and his anti-gun administration have aggressively pursued an...
  11. In late March, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that Madrid had reached an agreement with Ireland, Slovenia and Malta to take the first steps toward recognizing the State of Palestine to promote the peace process. Norway, Ireland and Spain have announced they are officially recognizing Palestinian statehood. "The Norwegian Government has decided that Norway will recognise Palestine as a state. In the midst of a war, with tens of thousands killed and injured, we must keep alive the only alternative that offers a political solution for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Two states, living side by side, in peace and security," said Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on Wednesday. He added that the Palestinian people have a fundamental right to self-determination. "Both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to live in peace in their respective states. There will be no peace in the Middle East without a two-state solution. There can be no two-state solution without a Palestinian...
  12. The US president won't risk angering the lobby in Washington, a security adviser told Project Veritas US President Joe Biden is under pressure from the Democratic Party's progressive wing to more forcefully condemn Israel's actions in Gaza, but will not do so unless he wins a second term in office, a National Security Council official has told Project Veritas. Biden's position on Israel is the result of careful "political calculations," National Security Council policy adviser Sterlin Waters told an undercover reporter for Project Veritas, a conservative outlet known for its hidden-camera sting operations. On one hand, Biden and his top aides need to tell Israel that "you're not going to continue to lie, and bomb, and kill all these kids without facing serious consequences" to placate progressive voters, Waters explained in a video published by the outlet on Tuesday. However, If Biden did this, Waters continued, he would anger the "huge, powerful Jewish influence in Republican and...
  13. Dr. Robert Redfield, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Thursday that many officials who tried to warn the public about potential problems with COVID-19 vaccines were pressured into silence and that it's high time to admit that there were "significant" side effects that made people sick. Dr. Redfield made the remarks in a May 16 interview with Chris Cuomo on NewsNation, during which he lamented the loss of public confidence in public health agencies because of a lack of transparency around the vaccines, which he said "saved a lot of lives" but also made some people "quite ill." "Those of us that tried to suggest there may be significant side effects from vaccines... we kind of got canceled because no one wanted to talk about the potential that there was a problem from the vaccines, because they were afraid that that would cause people not to want to get vaccinated," Dr. Redfield said.
  14. Earlier this month, the Ministry of Defense announced that the Russian General Staff, on behalf of President Vladimir Putin, had begun preparations to hold exercises with missile formations of the Southern Military District and Navy forces. Russia's Southern Military District has begun the first stage of an exercise involving practical training in the preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons, the Defence Ministry said. "In accordance with the instructions of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, the first stage of the drills has begun in the Southern Military District under the leadership of the General Staff of the armed forces of the Russian Federation with practical testing of the preparation and use of non-strategic nuclear weapons," the statement said. The drills with the non-strategic nuclear weapons train for receipt of special munitions and equipment of launch vehicles, the ministry added.
  15. It sounds like the start of a true crime documentary: a search for a missing man ends with his body found in the trailer of a truck. The twist, of course, is that the missing man had been driving that truck — and it's precisely where he was last spotted alive. For Brian Lush's family, it's a bizarre tragedy that they're now forced to cope with, after the remains of the 51-year-old trucker were discovered in his rig's trailer in Port aux Basques, N.L., on the truck's way back home from Ontario. Lush was last seen around his rig at a gas station in Summerstown, Ont., on April 24. Ontario Provincial Police investigators said at the time that security video showed Lush walking around the side of the truck and out of frame.
  16. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's eastward vision was instrumental in advancing the strategic Moscow-Tehran-Beijing nexus and bulldozing a path toward institutionalizing multipolarity. Amidst all the sadness and grief over the loss of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, let's take a moment to showcase the critical path he helped forge toward a new global order. In the nearly three years since Raisi ascended to the Iranian presidency, Eurasian integration and the drive toward multipolarity have become fundamentally conducted by three major actors: Russia, China, and Iran. Which, by no accident, are the three top "existential threats" to the hegemonic power. At 10 pm this past Sunday in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Iran's ambassador to Moscow, Kazem Jalali, to be at the table in an impromptu meeting with the cream of the crop of Russia's Defense Team. That invitation reached far beyond the myopic media conjecture over whether the Iranian president's untimely death...
  17. MSM questions the power of presidential aide Andy Yermak and power is out all over the country And so we've come to the point of the war in Ukraine in which the west's 'Knight in Shining armor', the 'defender of democracy' Volodymyr Zelensky has outrun his Constitutional Presidential mandate, and is now in power only by virtue of the martial law he enacted. That is just the most dramatic of the absolutely disheartening (for Kiev) series of developments. To begin with, a series of videos have surfaced showing how the streets of Ukraine now are deserted, with men hiding from conscription into the army - and somehow, everyone else seemed to have stayed at home, too.
  18. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's five-year battle against extradition to the US for espionage charges continues after he won a last-ditch legal battle to appeal. There were gasps of relief from the Australian's wife and other supporters in the High Court as Dame Victoria Sharp said she and Mr Justice Johnson had decided they were not satisfied with assurances given by US prosecutors. The judges had last month dismissed most of Assange's legal arguments but said he would be able to bring an appeal on three grounds unless the US provided 'satisfactory assurances.' These were that Assange would be protected by and allowed to rely on the First Amendment, that his trial would not be prejudiced by his nationality and that the death penalty would not be imposed. Dame Victoria told the court they were not satisfied Assange was guaranteed protection under the First Amendment.
  19. Through his confidants in key positions, the American stock exchange speculator keeps control over the (pseudo) civil society sector and the media. George Soros established his foundation (Open Society Foundations Bratislava - OSFB) in the future capital of Slovakia as early as 1992. During the period since then "through his unlimited financial resources and confidants in key positions, the American stock exchange speculator has has gained influence over the political life, the (pseudo) civil society sector and the media in Slovakia." The investigative platform Tuzfalcsoport highlights. Their latest analysis points out that one just has to think of Zuzana Caputova, Slovakia's current head of state, who is rather well-connected with George Soros; the funding amounting to nearly 6.2 million US dollars Slovak (or locally relevant) organizations received between 2016 and 2021; or the acquisition of a stake in Slovakia's second largest publishing company by the Media Development...
  20. Germany's Parliament (Bundestag) has received the votes necessary to remove a section of the Criminal Code which made the possession of child sexual abuse materials a felony crime. Once the bill, passed last Thursday, comes into effect, minimum sentences for the possession of child pornography will be reduced, and the offense will be downgraded to a misdemeanor. According to the Bundestag, the bill stipulates that "possession and acquisition should be punishable with a minimum penalty of three months' imprisonment, and distribution with a minimum penalty of six months' imprisonment, and distribution with a minimum penalty of six months' imprisonment. The offenses regulated in Section 184b of the Criminal Code are therefore classified as misdemeanors and not as crimes."
  21. Central banks are in the midst of a gold buying spree, according to new numbers from the World Gold Council (WGC). The organization says central banks added $24 billion of gold, weighing 290 tonnes, to their coffers in the first quarter of this year. That's the strongest level of net demand for any quarter on record, using data that dates back to the year 2000. The WGC says China, Turkey, India and Kazakhstan are driving much of the demand for the precious metal. "Many have attributed central banks' ongoing voracious appetite for gold as a key driver of its recent performance in the face of seemingly challenging conditions: namely, higher yields and US dollar strength. And despite the high bar set in the last two years, the voracious buying has continued into 2024 in the face of the renewed gold price rally...
  22. At around 3 a.m., following heavy rain that lasted for hours in the night, floodwater rushed from the hills and reached coastal road 706, which connects Ham Tien-Mui Ne, where several tourist sites are located. A sand flood coming down from a hill belonging to a resort also buried parts of Huynh ThucKhang Street in Mui Ne Ward of Phan Thiet City of the south central province, encroaching into two seaside restaurants. Motorbikes parked on the streets are also buried in the sand. Authorities said there are around a dozen motorbikes in the area buried by the sand. Two trucks in the area also could not move due to the sand.
  23. A Former Royal Marine accused of spying for Hong Kong has been found dead in 'unexplained' circumstances last night. Matthew Trickett, 37 was found dead in a park near his home just days after being charged with carrying out surveillance and hostile reconnaissance on pro-democracy activists in the UK for the Hong Kong intelligence service. The suspected spy, who worked as an immigration enforcement officer for the Home Office, due to appear at the Old Bailey on Friday charged with betraying his country. In a statement, his family said: 'We're mourning the loss of a much-loved son, brother and family man.' Speaking of the Royal Marine's death, a local resident told MailOnline: 'This has been extremely disturbing for residents.
  24. The privatization of Africa's state-owned companies is always linked to the US through its financial institutions, the World Bank and the IMF, with the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programs in the 1980s and 1990s. However, the British were behind the exploitation, privatization, and eventual collapse of Africa's state-owned companies even before the introduction of the so-called neo-liberal market agenda by the US. The British have been doing this mainly through their Commonwealth institutions, proudly headed by the monarch.
  25. Multiple people died Tuesday and at least a dozen were injured when a powerful tornado tore through a small Iowa town, carving a bleak landscape of destroyed homes and businesses, shredded trees, smashed cars, and widely strewn debris. The tornado destroyed much of Greenfield, a town of about 2,000 around 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) southwest of Des Moines, during a day that saw multiple tornadoes, giant hail and heavy rain in several states. "We do have confirmed fatalities," Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla said at a news conference Tuesday night. He said authorities were still determining the total number but thought they had accounted for all of the town's residents. Dinkla said there were at least a dozen injuries amid widespread devastation in Greenfield, including at the community's small hospital. Patients there had to be transferred to other facilities in nearby cities.
  26. We received 65 reports about a fireball seen over Alberta, ID, Idaho, Montana, MT, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington on Tuesday, May 21st 2024 around 05:45 UT. For this event, we received one video and one photo.
  27. We received 11 reports about a fireball seen over CT, New Jersey, New York, NH, NY, PA and VT on Monday, May 20th 2024 around 03:31 UT. For this event, we received 2 videos and one photo.
  28. Julian Assange has been granted leave to mount a fresh appeal against his extradition to the US on charges of leaking military secrets and will be able to challenge assurances from American officials on how a trial there would be conducted. Two judges had deferred a decision in March on whether Assange, who is trying to avoid being prosecuted in the US on espionage charges relating to the publication of thousands of classified and diplomatic documents, could take his case to another appeal hearing. On that occasion, Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Johnson ruled he would be able to bring an appeal against extradition on three grounds, unless "satisfactory" assurances were given by the US.
  29. The exercise will involve the delivery of nuclear weapons to troops, covert deployment, and preparations to a strike, the Defense Ministry has saidShare Video Troops of Russia's Southern Military District launched the first stage of recently announced tactical nuclear drills on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry in Moscow has confirmed. When announcing the drills a week previously, the ministry explained that the exercise is designed to serve as a deterrent amid continued escalation between Russia and the West, by demonstrating Moscow's ability to respond to any external threats. It will involve delivery of nuclear weapons to troops from storage sites, arming tactical nuclear missiles, and preparation of missile launches, Moscow announced in a statement on Telegram.
  30. The Ukrainian president allegedly believes that he is being kept in the dark about the situation at the front Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky believes his generals are hiding the truth from him and has taken to shouting at them, The Economist has claimed, citing a government source. Purported fits of presidential rage were mentioned in a Monday report on the situation in Kharkov Region, where Russian forces have gained significant ground over the last month. According to the British newsweekly, Ukrainian troops deployed there are angry at the development and have competing theories about the causes. Some blame the US and its allies for insufficient and untimely aid, not unlike Zelensky himself, while others "suspect that incompetence, or even treachery, played a more significant role." There are also "conspiracy theories" about politicians in Kiev and Washington conspiring to sell the territory "down the river ahead of an ugly peace deal."
  31. In April, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) published the article "China's Strategy to Shape Africa's Media Space" by research associate Paul Nantulya. The author attempts to expose China's media strategy in Africa. Criticism of China on the ACSS website is not surprising, since the Center was established within the US Department of Defense and promotes the views and agenda of official US structures. In other words, through organizations like ACSS, the US engages in the same activities which it blames China for. The article notes that in recent years, Chinese investments in the African media space have surged, and the country intends to establish a long-term institutional presence in the African media and communications market. This is evident from the fact that the state-owned Xinhua news agency has 37 offices throughout Africa, the Chinese provider of satellite TV services StarTimes has become the second largest player in the strategically important African market,...
  32. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky ratified a new law on Friday which would allow some prisoners to be paroled if they agree to enlist in the country's military, according to documents published on the official website of the country's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. The bill was first submitted to the legislature in March this year as part of Ukraine's efforts to replenish its ranks amid a series of setbacks in its conflict with Russia. The new legislation permits Ukrainian inmates to voluntarily enlist on a contractual basis and serve for as long as the country remains under martial law. The law only applies to convicts who have no more than three years left of their original prison sentence. It does not extend to people who have been convicted of premeditated murder, rape, drug trafficking and production, crimes against national security or corruption. However, the law allows military service for those convicted of involuntary manslaughter, with the exception of cases where...
  33. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed a lower court decision on May 7, 2024, issuing a 55-page ruling holding that the University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine's policies refusing religious exemptions to its COVID-19 vaccination mandate were "motivated by religious animus" and unconstitutional under the First Amendment's Religion Clauses. In addition to finding religious animus, the Court found that the vaccine mandates of the University's Anschutz Medical Campus granted "exemptions for some religions, but not others, because of differences in their religious doctrines" and granted "secular exemptions on more favorable terms than religious exemptions," all of which was illegal. The court also reaffirmed the First Amendment principle that government may not test the sincerity of employees' religious beliefs by judging the legitimacy of those doctrines. The Court also held that the University's mandates violated "clearly established"...
  34. In February, FIRE wrote to the town of Suffield, Connecticut, about its proposed policy regulating activities on its town green. Suffield subsequently abandoned the policy, which would have violated residents' First Amendment rights. But it turned out Suffield's proposal was based on a policy of the nearby town of Enfield. Now, in a new letter, FIRE is calling on Enfield to follow its neighbor's lead by reforming its unconstitutional town green policy. Next to the town hall in Enfield is an open area with a gazebo called the Town Green. Enfield makes the Town Green available for public use — but only if visitors comply with Enfield's many requirements, several of which violate the First Amendment. Enfield's rules control more than the manner in which someone can use the Town Green — they control whether someone can use the Town Green at all. Any individual or group wishing to use the Town Green must first submit an application and receive approval from the town manager's office....
  35. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that if the International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for top Israeli officials over their alleged war crimes in Gaza, all EU member states will be legally forced to oblige. On Monday, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan applied for warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant - as well as Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Diab Ibrahim al-Masri, and Ismail Haniyeh - accusing them of "war crimes and crimes against humanity." Comment: Meanwhile China's legal stance is that Palestine is well within international law to defend and attempt to liberate itself, including taking up arms, but Israel is not. As was evidenced with the ICC warrant against Putin, it's a compromised organisation. Even if it, belatedly, gets it right sometimes. The European Union has taken "note" of the move, Borrell acknowledged in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
  36. Israeli officials seized a camera and broadcasting equipment belonging to The Associated Press in southern Israel on Tuesday, accusing the news organization of violating a new media law by providing images to Al Jazeera. The U.S. privately urged the Israeli government to reverse the decision, two senior U.S. officials said. The U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Al Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, is one of thousands of AP customers, and it receives live video from AP and other news organizations.
  37. DAVOS — An upcoming change of the global guard began today, as longtime leader of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab announced he was retiring to spend more time with his lizard family on the planet Zarkon VII. Having met many of his important goals in the area of world domination and the destruction of freedom around the world, Schwab made the decision to step down from his throne made of human skulls and return to his homeworld, where he will live out the remainder of his life watching the plans he set in motion on Earth come to fruition.
  38. It is obvious to all, even the most ardent Ukrainian nationalists, that Ukraine is on the ropes, being battered relentlessly by a far better trained, prepared, and capable opponent. It is like watching a college boxer get hammered by a world champion heavyweight at this point, and one would think it would be in Ukraine's immediate and long-term interest to cry uncle and try and make the best deal it can with Russia. Even neocon mouthpieces like Politico realize this fact, but, of course, try and attribute this only to the recent "delayed delivery of weapons" caused by disagreements in the US House of Representatives. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, that the Russian armed forces have a massive superiority in all aspects of this war, tanks and artillery, airpower, cruise and ballistic missiles, drones for observation and attack, air defense and electronic warfare, as well as the ability to produce well-trained and highly motivated soldiers. The Russian military...
  39. In international diplomacy, summit meetings stand apart from regular high-level meetings when they are held at key moments or important junctures to reinforce partnerships and/or launch major initiatives. The summit meeting at Beijing last Thursday between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin last falls into such a category, taking place at a momentous juncture when a great shift in the global power dynamic is happening and the breathtaking spectacle of history in the making playing out in real time. (Read my article in NewsClick titled Sino-Russian Entente Shifts Tectonic Plates of World Politics.) The two statesmen spent an entire Thursday together after Putin's presidential jet landed at the crack of dawn in Beijing. Extensive and very detailed discussions indeed took place. As Putin said later, this was a state visit which turned into a "working visit." The "debriefing" on Saturday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for the foreign and...
  40. Have you noticed a lot of two-factor authentication prompts lately? Are you getting emailed verification codes that take forever to arrive, so you have to request another? Perhaps you are asked to do captchas to "prove you're human" and they seem to be getting more complex all the time or simply not working at all? Why do you think that might be? We'll come back to that. Did you know we're in a "breakthrough year" for biometric payment systems? According to this story from CNBC, JPMorgan and Mastercard are on board with the technology and intend a wide rollout in the near future, following successful trials. In March this year, JPMorgan signed a deal with PopID to begin a broad release of biometric payment systems in 2025. A Mastercard spokesman told CNBC: Our focus on biometrics as a secure way to verify identity, replacing the password with the person, is at the heart of our efforts in this area," Apple Pay already lets you pay with a face scan, while Amazon have introduced...
  41. 'You'll own nothing in retirement and be happy'... Wit the organization he founded 50 years ago bringing in nearly $500 million in revenue in the year ending March 2023 (and sitting on a neat pile of 200 million Swiss francs cash), Klaus Schwab will own some things as he reportedly steps back from his role running the World Economic Forum has has headed since 1971. Semafor reports that Schwab announced his intentions to step down as executive chairman in an email to staff on Tuesday that was shared with Semafor by a person connected to the organization.
  42. The West has for weeks debated a proposal to use interest earned on Moscow's frozen funds to aid Kiev The EU has agreed to use the proceeds from Russian assets that the bloc has frozen to aid Ukraine, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky has said. The annual revenue from these funds is expected to be around $3 billion. After the start of Moscow's military campaign against Kiev in February 2022, Western states blocked around $300 billion in Russian state assets, the bulk of which is concentrated in EU countries. Moscow has denounced this latest move as "theft" and has warned of retaliation if the funds are seized or used in any way to help Ukraine. Western officials have floated various ideas for using the funds, ranging from outright seizure to using them as collateral to secure loans for Kiev. Another idea was to use profits from Russian assets to support Ukraine's procurement of weapons.
  43. China sold a record amount of Treasury and US agency bonds in the first quarter, highlighting the Asian nation's move to diversify away from American assets as trade tensions persist. Beijing offloaded a total of $53.3 billion of Treasuries and agency bonds combined in the first quarter, according to calculations based on the latest data from the US Department of the Treasury. Belgium, often seen as a custodian of China's holdings, disposed of $22 billion of Treasuries during the period. China's investments in the US are garnering renewed investor attention amid signs that tensions between the world's largest economies may worsen. President Joe Biden has unveiled sweeping tariff hikes on a range of Chinese imports, while his predecessor Donald Trump said he might impose a levy of more than 60% on Chinese goods if elected. "As China is selling both despite the fact that we are closer to a Fed rate-cut cycle, there should be a clear intention of diversifying away from US dollar...
  44. Severe storms on Monday night pelted northeast Colorado with damaging hail that shattered windows and covered the ground like snow in the plains community of Yuma. Volunteer firefighter JJ Unger told FOX31 there was hail damage across the area after the severe storm. And with the town already under a flash flood warning — and facing the threat of tornadoes — it had begun to flood with the hail backing up drainage flows. "There's going to be a lot of cleaning up to do in this town," Unger said. "Widespread" power outages were reported Monday in northern Yuma County and the eastern edge of northern Washington County, according to Y-W Electric Association, Inc. Both counties were under tornado warnings at points in the night.
  45. Buried under the news from Google I/O this week is one of Google Cloud's biggest blunders ever: Google's Amazon Web Services competitor accidentally deleted a giant customer account for no reason. UniSuper, an Australian pension fund that manages $135 billion worth of funds and has 647,000 members, had its entire account wiped out at Google Cloud, including all its backups that were stored on the service. UniSuper thankfully had some backups with a different provider and was able to recover its data, but according to UniSuper's incident log, downtime started May 2, and a full restoration of services didn't happen until May 15. UniSuper's website is now full of must-read admin nightmare fuel about how this all happened. First is a wild page posted on May 8 titled "A joint statement from UniSuper CEO Peter Chun, and Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian." This statement reads, "Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian has confirmed that the disruption arose from an unprecedented sequence of events...
  46. A passenger died and others were injured on a flight from London to Singapore today which is said to have plummeted for a number of minutes in extreme turbulence before making an emergency landing in Thailand. The Boeing 777 plane operated by Singapore Airlines left the UK's Heathrow airport on Monday evening at 22.17pm local time with 211 passengers and 18 crew on board. However, flight SQ321 experienced severe turbulence while flying close to Myanmar airspace in a region currently being battered by extreme tropical thunderstorms. After around 11 hours of flying time from take off in London, the aircraft sharply dropped from an altitude of around 37,000 feet to 31,000 feet within just five minutes as it finished traversing the Andaman Sea and neared Thailand.
  47. A wild and violent bull that was loose on a popular Mexican beach attacked a woman several times as panicked onlookers screamed in horror, a terrifying new video shows. The heart-stopping video, which was shot Saturday at Cabo San Lucas, shows the black beast charging and ramming the woman more than six times after she tries to snatch her bags away from the animal. Cabo San Lucas is a resort city on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula and is popular among tourists. The video first shows the black beast under a canopy with the woman who appears to be feeding the horned animal food from a bag and then from a silver bowl.
  48. A 58-year-old deputy nazir of district court died after being attacked by a stray bull while he was out for a morning walk in Kalyanpur area of the city on Sunday. The bull also injured a woman. The deceased, identified as Devendra Kumar Yadav of Nankari locality, was going for a morning walk when the bull attacked him. Devendra was taken to a hospital where doctors declared him dead. Meanwhile, citing negligence, the family members of the deceased have demanded necessary action against the authorities deputed to check stray animal menace. Locals have complained that earlier also several locals had sustained serious injuries on being attacked by the same bull in the area. Assistant commissioner of police Kalyanpur Abhishek Pandey said, "After conducting the postmortem, the police handed over the body to the family members. The postmortem report has confirmed the death due to head injury and excessive bleeding." Several judicial officers and employees reached the postmortem house...
  49. A 4.4 magnitude earthquake struck Italy's Campi Flegrei super volcano Monday evening, causing mild damage in the town of Pozzuoli, the epicenter, and as far away as the city of Naples, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, according to Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV). Cracks in walls and falling cornices were reported, Italy's Fire Brigade spokesman confirmed to CNN. The 4.4 earthquake at a depth of 3 kilometers is the strongest earthquake to hit the highly seismic area in the past 40 years, according to INGV data. The quake is part of an ongoing "seismic storm" that has seen more than a dozen events over 2.0 magnitude in the past 48 hours. The 4.4 tremblor at 8:10 p.m. local time was preceded by a 3.5 earthquake an hour earlier. The INGV recorded 1,252 earthquakes in the Campi Flegrei area in the month of April 2024, most with a magnitude less than 1.0.
  50. A hailstorm left streets in the western Polish city of Gniezno flooded on Monday as storms passed over the country. Footage shot by the private broadcaster TVN24 showed vehicles and people passing through the flooded streets, and hailstones floating on the surface of the water. Poland's weather agency said the 'violent' storms would continue into Tuesday, with areas of the west and south-east particularly affected by hail, heavy rain and strong winds.