Signs Of The Times RSS

Signs of the Times: The World for People who Think. Featuring independent, unbiased, alternative news and commentary on world events.
  1. Bone by bone, tooth by tooth, the ancient remains of prehistoric human relatives from northern China are giving up their secrets. In the latest analysis, published in the journal Science Advances, the jawbone and teeth of a child reveal that, like us, these ancient people were slow to mature. But who these people were remains a mystery. In recent years, the story of early human evolution has become increasingly complicated. Asia, in particular, is throwing up some head-scratching finds that call into question when different members of the Homo clan migrated out of Africa, and how many separate species existed in different parts of the globe. The Xujiayao site in the Nihewan Basin of northern China was excavated in the late 1970s. In all, 20 ancient human fossils were found there, including skull fragments, jawbones and teeth from a number of individuals. There have been two attempts to nail down when these prehistoric people lived. Dating of teeth from animal remains found...
  2. St. Petersburg police say that, over 11 months in a filthy mobile home, the boy was introduced to sadomasochism and used as a sex slave. St. Petersburg police say a 16-year-old Marion County boy and another teen have been rescued from a den of human traffickers and sex abusers. Six men and a woman were arrested this week on human trafficking and interference with child custody charges, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department. Four of the men also face charges of sexual battery on a child under 16. The announcement of their arrests Monday followed an eight-month investigation into human trafficking of teenage victims. Police say the suspects used an online gaming app to lure teenagers. The investigation began May 9 when a Louisiana law enforcement agency contacted St. Petersburg police about a missing 17-year-old boy at a mobile home at 4000 24th St. in North St. Petersburg. Investigators believe the teenage boy was lured through an online gaming app call Discord, which...
  3. Brexit blather is back in the news again. To listen to politicians and media talking heads, you'd think it's all rather complicated and 'beyond the ken of mere mortals'. In reality, however, 'Brexit' is quite simple: for the last two and a half years, the British establishment has been trying to make Brexit go away. Don't believe me? Explain why, then, that of the 650 UK Members of Parliament, about 70% come from constituencies where the majority of people voted for Brexit, while among all Members of Parliament about 70% have made it clear that they favor remaining in the EU. In addition, the Conservative government which approved the referendum in 2015 was lead by David Cameron, who has always been against leaving the EU. His successor, Theresa May, who negotiated the pseudo-Brexit deal that would effectively keep the UK in the EU, and which was voted down yesterday by a massive majority in Parliament, is also against Brexit. So the obvious reason why the last 2.5 years of British...
  4. On 15 January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that he and his American counterpart Donald Trump had reached a "historic understanding" on Syria in their latest phone call. Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forces said in a Wednesday statement they would help establish a US-proposed "safe zone" in northern and eastern Syria under "international guarantees" and without "foreign intervention", Reuters reported. The US-backed Kurdish forces further added they hoped to reach "agreements and solutions" with Turkey in order to secure stability in the border region.
  5. The US has itself on multiple occasions been accused by Syrian media of aiding the terrorist organisation by evacuating them prior to imminent defeat. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the United States was planning a disinformation attack on Moscow in Afghan and some Western media outlets, aimed at discrediting Russia's policy concerning Afghanistan. Specifically, Washington plans to accuse Moscow of helping Daesh* redeploy militants from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan, the ministry added. The Foreign Ministry said in its statement that the disinformation attack will be aimed at diverting the international community's attention from the failures of the 17-year-long US operation in Afghanistan.
  6. Roughly two weeks after President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the 2,000-soldier U.S. ground presence in Syria, the Beltway remains in a state of shock. The resistance to the president's pullout, from the television segments to the editorials, has seen the foreign policy elite sound dire alarms over an alleged comeback by the Islamic State. According to them, a U.S. troop departure would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In a January Washington Post op-ed, Retired General John Allen-the former special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition under the Obama administration-wrote that while ISIS has lost almost all of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, "the departure of U.S. forces leaves the door wide-open for the group's resurgence." How relevant are these concerns? Will ISIS return to its previous strength if Americans pack their bags and leave? Hardly. And we should not give such claims the benefit of the doubt.
  7. After the mainstream media and establishment Democrats piled on President Trump for even considering pulling the US out of NATO, Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked when the doves became cheerleaders for war. That Republicans love war is an easy assumption to make. President Trump's national security adviser John Bolton has been howling for regime change in Iran since day one. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is equally hawkish and confrontational towards the Islamic Republic. Further back, George W. Bush's cabinet was stuffed with war enthusiasts like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, and the late Republican Senator John McCain never met a war he didn't like. But opposition to President Trump has seen Democrats - once considered the more peace-loving and diplomatic of the two parties - embrace war like never before.
  8. Malaysia has imposed a ban on Israelis participating in any event hosted by the Southeast Asian nation after barring athletes from attending the World Para Swimming championships in July. Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Wednesday that Malaysia's cabinet had decided on the measure last week. The majority-Muslim country does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Israel and has long supported a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. "Even if we have already committed to hosting an event, they (Israelis) will not be allowed (into the country)," the minister said in a recording of a press conference heard by Reuters. "Secondly, Malaysia will not host any event that has representation from or participation of Israel."
  9. French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday Britain would be the biggest loser if it left the European Union without a deal, after the British parliament resoundingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit divorce agreement. Macron was reaching the end of an almost seven-hour debate with local officials when he was told of the result of the British vote. "First option, they go toward a no deal. They say: 'there is no deal'. That's scary for everybody. The first losers in this would be the British," Macron told mayors during a town hall meeting in Normandy.
  10. Last week, the New York Times reported that the FBI, in 2017, launched an investigation of President Trump "to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security" and specifically "whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests." The story was predictably treated as the latest in an endless line of Beginning-of-the-End disasters for the Trump presidency, though - as usual - this melodrama was accomplished by steadfastly ignoring the now-standard, always-buried paragraph pointing out the boring fact that no actual evidence of guilt has yet emerged:
  11. National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec) of Argentina says the country's 2018 inflation rate reached 47.6 percent, the highest in 27 years. The National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (Indec) of Argentina says the country's 2018 inflation rate reached 47.6 percent, the highest in 27 years when the Carlos Menem administration was in office. According to the report, the most significant increase in prices was regarding basic consumer goods such as food, beverages, cleaning products and public transport, which directly affected all classes of the population. The Macri administration also eliminated certain transport subsidies that increased bus and subway costs for passengers. In sum public transport went up by 67 percent during 2018, cleaning products were up by 50 percent.
  12. Moscow is ready to cooperate with Brussels and London, regardless of how the UK's exit from the EU is completed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told at a press conference on the results of 2018 on Wednesday. "We have always said, long before the Brexit bid was outlined, that a united, strong and, most importantly, independent EU is in our interests," Lavrov stressed. "We will see what happens. Naturally, we will be ready to cooperate both with the European Union and Great Britain, if everything ends with the UK's withdrawal from the EU. But we will determine what form it is better to do (to cooperate - TASS) it in, once we get a handle on what actually took place," he specified.
  13. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini urged French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday to extradite leftist guerrillas who have been hiding out in France for decades to avoid serving prison sentences in Italy. "I appeal to the French president to return to Italy the fugitives that should not be drinking champagne under the Eiffel tower, but should be rotting in jail in Italy," Salvini said in an interview with Canale 5 TV. Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, spoke a day after the return of communist militant Cesare Battisti to Italy from Bolivia to serve a life sentence for his involvement in four murders in the late 1970s.
  14. Some Lake Tahoe ski resorts are reporting over 1 foot of snow Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours into several days of winter storms. Snow started falling late Tuesday morning and continued throughout the day. After a brief break, snowfall picked back up Wednesday morning. Here are the 24-hour totals reported by resorts in the South Lake Tahoe and Incline Village areas: Kirkwood Mountain Resort reports 14 inches.
  15. "Stop the ENDLESS WARS!" implored President Donald Trump in a Sunday night tweet. Well, if he is serious, Trump had best keep an eye on his national security adviser, for a U.S. war on Iran would be a dream come true for John Bolton. Last September, when Shiite militants launched three mortar shells into the Green Zone in Baghdad, which exploded harmlessly in a vacant lot, Bolton called a series of emergency meetings and directed the Pentagon to prepare a menu of targets, inside Iran, for U.S. air and missile strikes in retaliation. The Wall Street Journal quoted one U.S. official as saying Bolton's behavior "rattled people.... People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran."
  16. UK Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to enter into cross-party Brexit discussions without the official opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, has been widely condemned by MPs and political commentators on social media. In the immediate aftermath of the crushing defeat of her Brexit deal in the House of Commons on Tuesday, May stated that she would now seek cross-party talks with senior politicians to find "genuinely negotiable" solutions which she can take to EU negotiators. One of those senior politicians who wont be included in talks with the PM is the Labour leader, according to the leader of the house, Andrea Leadsom. In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Leadsom dismissed any notion that Corbyn would be invited to discuss the best way forward.
  17. The US will begin its withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia on February 2, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control Andrea Thompson told NATO officials in Brussels. Washington's unilateral withdrawal from the treaty - originally signed by the United States and Russia in 1987 - comes after negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland, fell through on Tuesday. Thompson claimed that Russia is in breach of the treaty, and that Moscow's 9M729 missile system violates the terms of the agreement. Under the agreement, signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, land-launched nuclear missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 km are banned. Washington claims, without evidence, that the 9M729 has a range greater than 500 km and is therefore in violation of the treaty.
  18. A house cat in Wyoming was recently diagnosed with bubonic plague; it is now the third feline in the state found to have contracted the deadly disease in the past six months. While the word "plague" conjures images of epidemics wiping out medieval communities in their entirety, the bacterial infection actually occurs naturally in wild rodents (and their fleas) in the western U.S. and rarely affects people, according to local health officials. Prairie dogs are common carriers of the disease. The cat, named Kaycee, was "known to wander outdoors," representatives with the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) said in a statement on Jan. 4. Kaycee's roaming habits likely exposed it to an animal that was already infected with the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is typically transmitted between animals through flea bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Once called "the Black Death" and "the great pestilence," plague emerged from Asia and...
  19. Nicola Sturgeon has said it is becoming increasingly clear that Scotland's wider interests will only be protected with independence. The Scottish First Minister is travelling to London today to meet with Westminster leader Ian Blackford to back a People's Vote after insisting a second European referendum was now the "only credible option" for the UK after the proposed Brexit deal was defeated. However, while backing a so-called 'People's Vote' which could see the UK remain in the EU, she said that "it is becoming increasingly clear that Scotland's wider interests will only be protected with independence."
  20. Canada urged Beijing on Tuesday to grant clemency to a Canadian sentenced to death for drug trafficking, after his sentence reignited a diplomatic dispute that began last month. Ottawa has warned its citizens about the risk of "arbitrary enforcement" of laws in China following a court's sentencing of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, to death on Monday, in a retrial after he was previously handed a 15-year prison term. The new sentence came during a clash between Ottawa and Beijing over Canada's arrest in December of Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, on an extradition request from the United States related to alleged violation of sanctions on Iran. "We have already spoken with China's ambassador to Canada and requested clemency [for Schellenberg]," Canada's foreign minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Sainte-Hyacinthe, Quebec.
  21. The terrorist attack in Syria's Manbij killed 20 people, including 5 US soldiers, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, adding he believes the attack won't make US President Donald Trump to cancel the withdrawal of troops. Speaking on live TV amid a visit of the Croatian president to Turkey, Erdogan said that the Wednesday suicide attack in Kurdish-controlled Manbij was directed at Trump's decision to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.
  22. The head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps says Iran will retain its military presence in Syria, defying Israeli threats that Iranian forces will be targeted if they do not leave the war-torn country. "The Islamic Republic of Iran will keep its military advisers, revolutionary forces, and its weapons in Syria," Iranian media quoted Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying on January 16. The comments come days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country was "more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria." Speaking at a cabinet meeting on January 13, Netanyahu also said that Israel had succeeded in "curbing Iran's military entrenchment in Syria" by attacking Iranian and Hizballah targets there "hundreds" of times." Jafari called Netanyahu's threats "a joke" and warned that the Israeli government "was playing with [a] lion's tail." "Be afraid of the day that Iran's precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head and revenge all the blood...
  23. Deforestation has left elephants' habitats smaller and more fractured A mob of people in an Indian village have brutally attacked an elephant and her calf, hurling firebombs at the pair after they wandered onto farmland. Photographs show the two elephants crossing a road fleeing a group of men who are launching flaming missiles at them. The incident, in the village of Bishnupur - a remote settlement in West Bengal - appears to be part of an increasingly common phenomenon in the country where elephants were previously been regarded as a cultural icon.
  24. Tucker Carlson, Fox News and Russian and American news outlets alike have picked up the story that US President Donald Trump has on numerous occasions, opined that the United States would do well to depart from the North Atlantic Military Organization, or NATO. This wish caused enormous fury and backlash from those opposed, which, oddly enough include both Democrats and Republicans. Their anger and alarm over this idea is such that the media networks through much of the US are alive with the idea of impeaching the President or bringing 25th Amendment proceedings against him for insanity! Take a look: Tucker Carlson, as usual, nailed it. NATO was formed to make Western Europe secure in the face of a perceived Soviet threat. In 1991, the USSR collapsed and the threat of Ivan the Communist bad guy collapsed with it. But 28 years later, NATO is still here. And, why?
  25. Even after her historic Commons defeat over the Brexit deal, PM Theresa May is unlikely to be toppled in the upcoming no-confidence vote. That won't help alleviate the chaos her previous bad decisions have started. There will now be a special glass case in the political museum for May, who has just suffered - by some distance - the worst defeat for any British prime minister in the history of the country. Like the glass case in London's Natural History Museum marked "Dodo" it will contain an extinct entity, an ex-parrot, an ex-prime minister. May's defeat by 230 votes is worse by some margin than the next largest, that suffered by the first Labour PM Ramsay MacDonald - by 166 votes - before being brought down by the MI6 forgery known as the Zinoviev Letter in 1924. It is in the memorable words of a commentator at "the upper-end of bad." No political adjectives exist to fully describe the stratospheric scale of the defeat.
  26. What's happening in America is an echo of what's happening in democracies around the world, and it's not happening because of Trump. To understand events around the world today, one must think in terms of the class struggle. This sentence sounds like something that could be written by a doctrinaire Marxist. But it is nonetheless true. Much of the current tension in America and in many other democracies is in fact a product of a class struggle. It's not the kind of class struggle that Karl Marx wrote about, with workers and peasants facing off against rapacious capitalists, but it is a case of today's ruling class facing disaffection from its working class. In the old Soviet Union, the Marxists assured us that once true communism was established under a "dictatorship of the proletariat," the state would wither away and everyone would be free. In fact, however, the dictatorship of the proletariat turned into a dictatorship of the party hacks, who had no interest whatsoever in seeing...
  27. Think things are bad in the US and Europe when it comes to social media speech suppression? Check out, Africa. Will this be our future? Aware of the threat that social media poses to their power, repressive regimes in Africa have employed various methods to stifle internet-based mobilization. These include internet shutdowns, targeted social media applications shutdowns, website takedowns, extensive surveillance of digital communications, online propaganda, and the detention of online critics, writes Babatunde Okunoye for Foreign Affairs. According to Okunoye, in 2018, repressive governments adopted yet another tactic: taxes on social media usage. In countries such as Uganda, Benin, Tanzania and Zambia, there are now laws in place which impose daily taxes on social media and other over-the-top services.
  28. Sunderland's MPs have vowed to vote against PM Theresa May's Brexit plan, amid an Echo readers' poll showing overwhelming public support to quit the EU - even without a deal. Labour members Bridget Phillipson, Julie Elliott and Sharon Hodgson insisted they would not back Mrs May's proposals, being put to Parliament tomorrow. They said they had received clear messages from both Remain and Leave supporting constituents against supporting the PM's much-maligned plan. It was originally due to be put before the Commons in December, but was postponed at the last minute over fears the Government would lose.
  29. Poorer pensioner couples will lose more than £7,000 a year, under a cut "sneaked out" while MPs are preparing for the showdown Brexit vote. Ministers have been accused of attempting to bury the impact of the change to pension credit, which tops up the incomes of hard-up elderly people. It means couples where only one partner is over the state pension age, which is now 65 or for both men and women depending on when they were born, will no longer receive the extra benefit. It will take effect from 15 May, when the partner below the pension age is required to make a claim for universal credit, which merges six working-age benefits into a single payment.
  30. The Florida Board of Health has suspended thousands of healthcare licenses over defaults on student loans many used to earn their licenses. But many are concerned that the new crackdown may only worsen the student loan crisis. The revocation of licenses came after the student loan industry lobbied the government to enact punishments for those who can't or won't repay the money they borrowed. According to ABC Action News, only Florida is enforcing this law as of right now. The state also has the power to garnish up to 100% of a worker's wages until the loan is repaid and the license is reinstated. Under Florida law, once the state suspends a license for student loan default, the only way to get it back is to pay a fine equal to 10 percent of the balance, plus other costs.
  31. Flagstaff, Arizona turned into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory on Monday when a tanker truck spilled 3,500 gallons of it across Interstate 40. The "river of chocolate" flowed onto the highway's westbound lanes east of Flagstaff near the 211-mile marker, the state's Department of Public Safety tweeted.
  32. Washington is still on course to unilaterally quit the landmark 1987-signed Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) as early as next month, rejecting new talks after negotiations in Switzerland brought no breakthrough. "It is clear that Russia continues to violate the treaty in a substantial way," US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson said at the press briefing that followed Tuesday's discussions, which she called "disappointing." Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who led a sizeable Russian delegation comprising senior officials from all relevant departments, said that US representatives arrived in Geneva with their minds made up, with a position that was both "uncompromising and lacking in specifics."
  33. U.S. service members were among those killed by an explosion in Syria on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the coalition fighting the Islamic State group said. The official said the Americans were killed while "conducting a routine patrol," but did not say how many. Earlier, a senior Kurdish security official told NBC News that members of the U.S.-led coalition were caught up in a blast at a market in the northern city of Manbij. The official said that Americans were among the casualties but could not confirm the number of injured or dead. Forces were on foot in the city when they were approached at around 1 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET) by a man wearing civilian clothing with explosives hidden underneath, the Kurdish official added. The blast happened in a market area of small alleys that is crowded with shops and street vendors.
  34. The former Army intelligence chief earlier made headlines for his proposal to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi as the new military chief of staff Tuesday, according to a report by Haaretz. Kochavi replaced Gadi Eisenkot, who recently made headlines by admitting that Tel Aviv had supplied weapons to terrorists in Syria. "I take this job upon myself in sacred reverence; I take it as an honour," Kochavi said during the ceremony, attended both by Netanyahu and Eisenkot. "Now, as it is my turn, and I have received the responsibility of leading the army, I commit to dedicating all my energy, with a critical and demanding approach, to strengthening our defensive wall, to training for present and future threats - which focuses upon strengthening our attack capabilities towards our enemies and presenting an army that is deadly, efficient and modern, that preserves its mission and its uniqueness," he...
  35. Has President Trump suckered Democrats and the Deep State into a trap that will enable a radical downsizing of the federal bureaucracy? In only five more days of the already "longest government shutdown in history" (25 days and counting, as of today), a heretofore obscure threshold will be reached, enabling permanent layoffs of bureaucrats furloughed 30 days or more.
  36. A DAMNING new report published by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has claimed that Russia has been slowly stealing magnetic North for that past 20 years, WWN can confirm. The 467 page report stated that Vladimir Putin secretly conspired with dozens of Russian billionaires to shift Earth's north magnetic pole back as early as 1999, when it is believed he oversaw the development of enormous underground magnetic facilities in Siberia, which are since slowly attracting the planets liquid-iron outer core, known as the core field. The worrying report estimated that magnetic North will soon be positioned in Russia's Northern territory by the year 2035.
  37. Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton's email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials - including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap - will now have to answer Judicial Watch's written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department's objections to Judicial Watch's court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruled that the Clinton email system was "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.") Judicial Watch's discovery will seek answers to: Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;whether the State Department's efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith;...
  38. The former top lawyer at the FBI has been under federal investigation for leaking to the media, a letter from House Republicans revealed Tuesday. The letter from GOP Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows cited the transcript of a congressional interview with former General Counsel James Baker and his lawyer last fall, where the probe conducted by seasoned U.S. Attorney John Durham was confirmed. "You may or may not know, [Baker has] been the subject of a leak investigation... a criminal leak investigation that's still active at the Justice Department," lawyer Daniel Levin told lawmakers, as he pushed back on questions about his client's conversations with reporters. Jordan and Meadows' letter was sent to Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, and requested additional information about the probe later this month. "As we continue our oversight and investigative work, we felt it prudent to write to you seeking an update. Without being apprised of the contours of your leak...
  39. A Texan who says he offered to work as an English teacher for the Islamic State and was captured earlier this month in Syria by U.S.-backed forces said he witnessed executions and crucifixions during the more than three years he spent with the terrorist group. But 34-year-old Warren Christopher Clark, who is being held in Kurdish custody, told NBC News in an exclusive interview that he does not regret throwing in his lot with ISIS. No Kurdish security were present during the interview. "I wanted to go see exactly what the group was about, and what they were doing," he said. "Of course I saw the videos. I think with the beheadings, that's execution. I'm from the United States, from Texas. They like to execute people, too. So I really don't see any difference. They might do it off camera, but it's the same." Comment: Clark isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. Yes, executions are executions. But look at the differences. First in terms of numbers. The U.S. executed 25 people in...
  40. Donald Trump has shown an apparent willingness to put the brakes on US military aggression abroad, notably in the Middle East and Central Asia. Yet the announcement coincided with more military moves against Russia and China. One thing is obvious with regards to the ongoing US government shutdown - it has not affected the daily operations of the US military at all. While some 800,000 federal employees are enjoying a long unpaid vacation, members of the Armed Forces appear to be working overtime. And how could they not with the latest seasonal outbreak of Russo and Sino Phobia? While there has been an outpouring of publicity over Donald Trump's shock announcement that he would be withdrawing US troops from Syria, and possibly in other hotspots around the war-weary world, the US military remains on the prowl. At the weekend, the Pentagon deployed three B-2 Stealth bombers and 200 airmen to Hawaii with the stated purpose of demonstrating America's ability to "project power from...
  41. The Saudi teen who fled her family and found a new home in Canada says that her story will open the floodgates for more women to escape oppression in Saudi Arabia. Speaking to broadcast media for the first time on Monday from her new home in Toronto, she said more women will escape Mohammed bin Salman's regime, and hoped that her case could be a spark to ignite change. "I'm sure that there will be a lot more women running away," she told Australia's ABC News. "I hope my story encourages other women to be brave and free." Canada granted Rahaf al-Qunun asylum after she fled to Thailand to escape her family on January 5.
  42. President Trump attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for taking a paycheck during a government shutdown. But Pelosi is not the only lawmaker bringing home the cash while furloughed workers scrimp and save. "Why is Nancy Pelosi getting paid when people who are working are not?" Trump tweeted on Tuesday. The government has been partially shut down for over three weeks, during which around 400,000 federal workers have missed their first paycheck of 2019. Despite several rounds of negotiations, Trump and Congressional Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have failed to reach a compromise on Trump's request for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the Mexican border.
  43. Kiev is risking a major crisis with its ploy to legitimize schismatic Orthodox Christian churches with the help from Constantinople, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. Telling people where to pray is a bad idea. Last month, Ukraine's two unrecognized Orthodox churches backed by the government of President Petro Poroshenko formed a new religious organization. In January, Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople formally recognized it as a canonical entity and part of his patriarchate and granted it partial independence. Poroshenko is relying on this development to boost his approval ratings ahead of the presidential election in March, which he is likely to lose, according to polls. Speaking to Serbian media on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the entire affair as a purely political ploy that has nothing to do with faith and religion. "The new church structure is a secular political project. Its main goal is to separate the...
  44. Russia has criticized the US government for bullying Venezuela and encouraging its opposition to stage a coup against President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in for his second term last week. "Nations should avoid meddling in other nations' internal affairs," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday. He said that Washington's encouragement of opposition forces in Venezuela "has made them unwilling to seek reconciliation [with the president], which is regretful." Venezuela is currently in a political crisis, with the opposition-controlled National Assembly declaring President Maduro a "usurper" and its speaker, Juan Guaido, an "interim president" of the country. The move came after strong public support from Washington, which has been advocating toppling Maduro for quite some time.
  45. Ice loss from Antarctica has sextupled since the 1970s, new research finds. An alarming study shows massive East Antarctic ice sheet already is a significant contributor to sea-level rise Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis January 14 at 3:00 PM (Washington Post) Antarctic glaciers have been melting at an accelerating pace over the past four decades thanks to an influx of warm ocean water - a startling new finding that researchers say could mean sea levels are poised to rise more quickly than predicted in coming decades. The Antarctic lost 40 billion tons of melting ice to the ocean each year from 1979 to 1989. That figure rose to 252 billion tons lost per year beginning in 2009, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That means the region is losing six times as much ice as it was four decades ago, an unprecedented pace in the era of modern measurements. (It takes about 360 billion tons of ice to produce one millimeter of global...
  46. The Pentagon was not the only party pressing Donald Trump to keep troops in Syria last year. It turns out the Israeli government and its supporters in Washington were working very hard to get the Trump administration to use America's military presence there to support an Israeli campaign of airstrikes aimed at threatening war with Iran. The Israeli strategy was aimed at dividing Russia from Iran and thus putting pressure on Tehran to withdraw its military personnel from Syria. A campaign by a pro-Israel think tank actually succeeded in getting such a policy ready for Trump's approval last fall - although it was not supported by some Pentagon officials. The story of the Israel lobby's latest attempt to capture American policy, recounted here for the first time, reveals just how far Israel was able to reach into the Trump administration before the president personally intervened. Israel's Strategy of Provocation in Syria In early 2018, Israel had stepped up the pace of its airstrikes...
  47. Moscow didn't nab American citizen Paul Whelan with plans to swap him for Russian nationals being held overseas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. Whelan, who is an American, Canadian, British, and Irish national, was apprehended and detained in Moscow because he "was receiving certain materials he wasn't supposed to receive," Lavrov said at a press event on Wednesday. Comment: One other fact to keep in mind: Paul Whelan was discharged from the Marines because he tried to steal more than $10,000 in cash while deployed in Iraq. So now this man, who the US military discharged due to criminal behavior, has 4 different passports and is visiting countries over the world for business. Is it any wonder the Russians are suspicious of his reasons for being in the country? The minister addressed the suggestions that the prospect of a prisoner exchange was the key motive behind Whelan's arrest. Such notions are "completely untrue," he stressed. "We never do things like that. I'll...
  48. Despite years of Western sanctions, Russia will become the world's fifth-largest economy as early as next year, surpassing Germany and the UK, multinational bank Standard Chartered said in its long-term growth forecasts. In a report outlining projections about the world economy up until 2030, the bank said that China is likely to unseat the US to become the world's biggest economy at some point in the next year, when measured by a combination of purchasing-power-parity (PPP) exchange rates and nominal gross domestic product. It will be joined by the US, India, Japan, and Russia in the top five. The top 10 countries will also include Germany, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, and the UK. "By 2020, a majority of the world population will be classified as middle class. Asia will lead the increase in middle-class populations even as middle classes stagnate in the West," said Standard Chartered researcher Madhur Jha.
  49. Palliative care patients will be treated with the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms in a bid to reduce their anxiety during end of life care. The first of 30 patients in Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital trial will be treated with psilocybin in April after a year-long battle to have the study approved by the ethics committee, as well as state and federal authorities. Patients will be given a single dose of the psychedelic drug, which stimulates feelings of euphoria and is believed to be able to ease anxiety, fear and depression for up to six months. Applicants will be screened, requiring a state government permit to take the medication, and will be closely monitored by two clinicians on the 'dose day' while the initial high wears-off.
  50. Michigan State University Interim President and former GOP Michigan governor John Engler is facing backlash for saying that some Larry Nassar sexual assault victims are enjoying the attention. Engler made the statement to The Detroit News editorial board on Friday, though The News piece didn't focus on the comments. "You've got people, they are hanging on and this has been... there are a lot of people who are touched by this, survivors who haven't been in the spotlight," Engler told The News. "In some ways, they have been able to deal with this better than the ones who've been in the spotlight who are still enjoying that moment at times, you know, the awards and recognition."