Daily News, via SOTT.net aggregation.

When, if ever, can we lay the needless US burden of war down?

When, if ever, can we lay the needless US burden of war down?

Is it too soon to ask: What have we gained from our longest war? Was all the blood and treasure invested worth it? And what does the future hold? Friday, President Donald Trump met in New Jersey with his national security advisers and envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is negotiating with the Taliban to bring about peace, and a U.S. withdrawal from America's longest war. U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, in a war that has cost 2,400 American lives. Following the meeting, Trump tweeted, "Many on the opposite sides of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal — if possible!" Some, however, want no deal; they are fighting for absolute power. Saturday, a wedding in Kabul with a thousand guests was hit by a suicide bomber who, igniting his vest, massacred 63 people and wounded 200 in one of the greatest atrocities of the war. ISIS claimed responsibility. Monday, 10 bombs exploded in restaurants and public squares in the eastern city of Jalalabad, wounding 66....

Are recent UFO announcements part of the military's 'soft disclosure' strategy?

Are recent UFO announcements part of the military's 'soft disclosure' strategy?

UFOs have been in the news a lot lately, and not because of what is happening in the sky, but because of what is happening on Earth. It has been called a "soft disclosure," meaning the military is leaking bits of information on UFOs to the public rather than making a major announcement and causing a panic. This April, the U.S. Navy acknowledged guidelines for how their pilots can report encounters with anomalous ships without fear of reprisal. This comes after a New York Times article about numerous sightings of Tic Tac-shaped UFOs around the USS Nimitz south of San Diego. According to a spokesman for naval operations, there has been an overall "uptick of interaction with aerial phenomenon" since 2014. There have been less controlled responses, too. Over two million people have signed up on Facebook to storm Area 51 on September 20 to "see them aliens." Santa Barbara County is no stranger to sightings and played a part in the famous Battle of Los Angeles. Two days after the...

10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall

10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall

Behind the scenes, some major events were set in motion last autumn that could soon change the tenor in Washington, at least as it relates to the debunked Russia collusion narrative that distracted America for nearly three years. It was in September 2018 that President Trump told my Hill.TV colleague Buck Sexton and me that he would order the release of all classified documents showing what the FBI, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other U.S. intelligence agencies may have done wrong in the Russia probe. About the same time, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, under then-Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), voted unanimously to send 53 nonpublic transcripts of witnesses in its Russia review to the director of national intelligence (DNI) for declassification. The transcripts were officially delivered in November. Now, nearly a year later, neither release has happened. To put that into perspective, it took just a couple of months in 2004 to declassify the final...

Twitter's advertising ban of 'state-controlled' news is ideologically motivated and anti-democratic

Twitter's advertising ban of 'state-controlled' news is ideologically motivated and anti-democratic

The news that Twitter is to ban 'state-controlled news media entities' from advertising on its platforms raises several worrying concerns which urgently need to be addressed. Repeat after me (with robotic hand movements): "state-controlled news media entities bad; 'state-subsidised' 'private' news media entities good!" This seems to be the logic that Twitter is working from in light of its announcement on Monday. The move seems to be a reaction to criticism of the social media platform for accepting advertising buys from the Chinese press agency Xinhua, which has been critical of the anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. But underlying the new policy is some very muddled thinking. The premise seems to be that 'state-controlled news media entities' are inherently biased, and so should have their social media activities curbed whereas as 'privately-controlled' media entities aren't. It elevates the 'state' as the most powerful actor there is.

The complex reality of China's social credit system: Hi-tech dystopian plot or low-key incentive scheme?

The complex reality of China's social credit system: Hi-tech dystopian plot or low-key incentive scheme?

Yang Qiuyun's home in eastern China heaves under a mountain of paper files. They are scattered on top of cabinets, piled on the water dispenser and stacked up on her bed. The files are filled with forms completed in her neat handwriting, records of the laborious work she carries out as one of 10 "information gatherers" in a village at the forefront of an experiment in social management: China's social credit system. Every day, Yang, 52, roams Jiakuang Majia village with a pen and paper in hand, writing down every instance of free labour or other donations her fellow villagers make to the community - two points for Ma Shaojun for taking eight hours to install a new basketball hoop in the village playground; 30 points for Ma Hongyun for donating a 3,000-yuan (US$445) TV screen for the village meeting room; and 10 points each for Ma Shuting and Ma Qiuling who have a son serving in the army in Tibet.

Thousands of unsold new cars are abandoned and left to rot in lots around the world

Thousands of unsold new cars are abandoned and left to rot in lots around the world

This is insane This is what the car manufacturers DON'T want you to see. Since overproduction peaked in 2009, thousands of cars have been left in lots to waste away. Many of these photos go back to just post-recession, yet the problem of surplus still exists today. People are not buying new cars at the rate they were pre-recession. How many families do you know who boast a new car every year? Thus, millions of brand-new are left to die in parking lots.

Smoking banned in Thailand homes, considered 'domestic violence' under new law

Smoking banned in Thailand homes, considered 'domestic violence' under new law

The law aims at curbing smoking at home which might be hazardous for others' health residing under the same roof. In that case it will be considered as a 'domestic violence'. Smoking in a house in Thailand can now land you in jail. Although not a blanket ban, this is a new law that is supposed to come into effect from today as per reports. The new law, Family Protection and Development Promotion Act, was initiated by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security and was announced in the Royal Gazette on May 22, 2019. The law aims at curbing smoking at home which might be hazardous for others' health residing under the same roof. In that case, it will be considered as 'domestic violence'. Speaking at the 18th National Conference on Tobacco and Lung Health held in Bangkok in May 2019, Department of Women's Affairs and Family Development chief Lertpanya Booranabundit said, "If it can be proved that the health problems of family members stems from second- or third-hand smoke at...

Harmful pesticides approved by Bolsonaro's government cause half a billion bees to drop dead in Brazil

Harmful pesticides approved by Bolsonaro's government cause half a billion bees to drop dead in Brazil

More than half a billion bees have died in Brazil over the last three months. The cause? Harmful pesticides, according to researchers. Most of the bee deaths occurred in four Brazilian states: 400 million in Rio Grande do Sul, 7 million in São Paulo, 50 million in Santa Catarina and 45 million Mato Grosso do Sul, according to a report by CBS News. Neonicotinoids and fipronil, both agricultural insecticides banned in Europe, are believed to be the specific culprits behind the deaths. Aldo Machado, vice president of Rio Grande do Sul's beekeeping association, recently told Bloomberg that his bee colony was completely eliminated 48 hours after some bees began dying.

BEST OF THE WEB: What, AGAIN?! 'Looping' fireball seen in the sky over Northampton, UK

BEST OF THE WEB: What, AGAIN?! 'Looping' fireball seen in the sky over Northampton, UK

Eye-witnesses believe a bizarre object that looks like a ball of fire seen over Northampton and the surrounding area 'was a UFO'. The strange ball of light seemed to swirl around in the sky for no apparent reason for a few seconds before disappearing. Luke Pawsey saw it while in Northampton on June 22, while his friend Lauren Tester managed to film it from her home in Brixworth, which you can watch in the video above. The 20-year-old, who works in the social care team at Northamptonshire County Council, was amazed by what he saw and believes it was 'alien'.

Gaffes? Biden has bigger problems

Gaffes? Biden has bigger problems

Joe Biden, 76, has been getting heaps of attention for his verbal gaffes. Alas, voters should worry about a far bigger problem: It's impossible to know what he stands for. Yes, some of his slip-ups can be head-scratching. Democrats choose "truth over facts," he said. Huh? The kids from the Parkland high school shooting — which happened after he left office — "came to see me when I was vice president." He lamented "the tragic events in Houston" and "Michigan" rather than El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. He warned against giving President Trump "eight more years" and told backers to "go to Joe 30330," instead of texting him. And that's just recently. Sometimes his flubs raise serious questions about what he thinks, as when he asserted that "poor kids" were as bright as "white kids," though he quickly corrected himself (as, to his credit, he usually does). His advisers insist it's not his age but just "Joe being Joe." That's hardly consolation. Still, misspeaking isn't the worst of...

How the West gets China's social credit system wrong

How the West gets China's social credit system wrong

Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to the Hudson Institute — a conservative Washington, DC, think tank — to give a wide-ranging speech about the United States' relationship with China. Standing stiffly in a shiny blue tie, he began by accusing the Chinese Communist Party of interfering in US politics and directing Chinese businesses to steal American intellectual property by "any means necessary." Pence then turned his attention to the country's human rights abuses, starting not with the persecution of religious minorities, but with a peculiar governmental initiative: the social credit project. Pence said: "By 2020, China's rulers aim to implement an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life — the so-called 'social credit score. In the words of that program's official blueprint, it will 'allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.'" The vice president's remarks echoed a...

8,000 year old haunting stone faces from "city" on the Danube river baffle archeologists

8,000 year old haunting stone faces from "city" on the Danube river baffle archeologists

MYSTERIOUS sculptures with "haunting faces" that date back 8,000 years have left archaeologists baffled. The strange human figurines found in Serbia have bizarre fish-like features - but there's no telly exactly who made them, or why. Carved by ancient Europeans on the banks of the Danube river, the sculptures represent a little-known period of history. They were sculpted over a period of around 200 years at a long-lost Serbian settlement known as Lepenski Vir.

US may use West Papua riots to pressure Indonesia to contribute to the strategy of containing China

US may use West Papua riots to pressure Indonesia to contribute to the strategy of containing China

The international reaction -- and especially the US' -- to the West Papua riot might influence Pacific geopolitics by potentially pushing Indonesia to choose a side in the New Cold War. The eastern Indonesian region of West Papua was rocked by a riot in its capital city of Manokwari on Monday that resulted in the torching of the local parliament and was sparked by reports that the authorities used disproportionate force over the weekend when responding to claims that students from that part of the country who are studying in East Java supposedly disrespected the national flag on Independence Day. The police are accused of using tear gas to clear out a dormitory full of students and then temporarily detaining 43 of them after humiliatingly forcing them to "squat and waddle across the ground" first, according to Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman as quoted by The Guardian. She also said that racist chants and death threats were shouted against the students at that time...

FLASHBACK: Cop who investigated Epstein in Florida dies suddenly

FLASHBACK: Cop who investigated Epstein in Florida dies suddenly

He solved murders, obtained confessions, worked overtime, fell in love and brought coworkers lunch. And he still had time to crack some jokes. Joseph Recarey, a former Palm Beach detective who had a knack for making others smile, who tackled the island's largest and most important investigations, and who cared deeply for his family and friends, died Friday, May 25, 2018, after a brief illness. He was 50. "In my opinion, an excellent police officer has to be a good person," said former Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter. "And Joe Recarey was among the best people I ever knew." Recarey was born in Queens, N.Y., before coming to Florida with his family when he was 13. He lived in Royal Palm Beach and worked for the Palm Beach Police Department for more than 20 years beginning in 1991.

FLASHBACK: George Soros: "Xi Jinping is the most dangerous enemy of free societies" due to face recognition AI and social credit plan

FLASHBACK: George Soros: "Xi Jinping is the most dangerous enemy of free societies" due to face recognition AI and social credit plan

Billionaire investor George Soros on Thursday said Chinese President Xi Jinping was "the most dangerous enemy" of free societies for presiding over a hi-tech surveillance regime. "China is not the only authoritarian regime in the world but it is the wealthiest, strongest and technologically most advanced. "This makes Xi Jinping the most dangerous opponent of open societies," Soros told a dinner audience on the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Communist China under Xi has been building a cutting-edge system including facial recognition to keep tabs on its citizens, and Soros said it would be used to calculate how dangerous a threat individuals might pose to the regime.

SOTT FOCUS: Putin-Macron Meeting: Glorious Summer After a Long Winter of Discontent?

SOTT FOCUS: Putin-Macron Meeting: Glorious Summer After a Long Winter of Discontent?

Five years is a long time in politics. In 2014, relations between Russia and the West went into a nosedive over Ukraine and Syria. The "annexation" of Crimea, the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner, and the conflict in eastern Ukraine destroyed the partial re-establishment of normal relations which had started in 2008 with President Obama's "re-set" and Nicolas Sarkozy's rapprochement with Vladimir Putin. This included the Georgian crisis of that year, of which the French president's decision in 2010 to sell two Mistral aircraft carriers to Russia was a potent symbol. The collapse in relations as a result of the Ukraine crisis led to EU and US sanctions against Russia, and to her expulsion from the G8 group of nations, as it then was, as well as to a war of words between East and West. Vladimir Putin's visit on Monday to the fort at Bregancon, the official summer residence of the French president, demonstrates that that period is now officially closed. On every level, the West...

Epstein murder fallout: Barr demotes Bureau of Prisons director to deputy role in criminal justice overhaul

Epstein murder fallout: Barr demotes Bureau of Prisons director to deputy role in criminal justice overhaul

Attorney General William Barr removed the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons from his position Monday, more than a week after millionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein took his own life while in federal custody. Hugh Hurwitz's reassignment comes amid mounting evidence that guards at the chronically understaffed Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York abdicated their responsibility to keep the 66-year-old Epstein from killing himself while he awaited trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls. The FBI and the Justice Department's inspector general are investigating his death. Barr named Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, the prison agency's director from 1992 until 2003, to replace Hurwitz. Hurwitz is moving to a role as an assistant director in charge of the bureau's reentry programs, where he will work with Barr on putting in place the First Step Act, a criminal justice overhaul. Comment: If he's been demoted because he's on the hook for Epstein's 'suicidization', it's not...

Bolton demands FCO speed up plans for moving UK embassy to Jerusalem - why the hurry?

Bolton demands FCO speed up plans for moving UK embassy to Jerusalem - why the hurry?

Following US National Security Adviser John Bolton's talks with Boris Johnson and his ministers in London last week, FCO [Foreign Commonwealth Office] officials have been asked to speed up contingency planning for the UK to move its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with an eye to an "early announcement" post Brexit. The UK is currently bound by an EU common foreign policy position not to follow the United States in moving its Embassy to Jerusalem. As things stand, that prohibition will fall on 1 November. FCO officials had previously been asked to produce a contingency plan, but this involved the construction of a £14 million new Embassy and a four year timescale. They have now been asked to go back and look at a quick fix involving moving the Ambassador and immediate staff to Jerusalem and renaming the Consulate already there as the Embassy. This could be speedily announced, and then implemented in about a year. Johnson heads the most radically pro-Israel cabinet in...

Epstein's lawyer claims his death in 'American gulag' to fuel conspiracies for years

Epstein's lawyer claims his death in 'American gulag' to fuel conspiracies for years

The death of millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein behind bars should trigger "system-wide self-reflection" on how prisoners are treated, Epstein's lawyer tells RT - and it will trigger conspiracy theories for years to come. 'Institutionally ill-equipped American gulag' Metropolitan Correctional Center "is sort of like an American gulag for people who have not been convicted of anything," Epstein lawyer Marc Fernich tells RT. Insisting the wealthy pedophile was not a "security risk," Fernich laments that the prosecution painted him as an "exceptional flight risk and danger" - equipped as he was with at least one phony passport, a private jet, and a considerable fortune - and left him to languish in "uncivilized conditions" which took their toll on his mind and body. MCC is "institutionally ill-equipped" to deal with someone like Epstein who wouldn't last long in general population but who isn't a hardened criminal, Fernich explains. "This is one of the toughest pre-trial...

Lull before another storm? China claims 'terrorist organizations' are stirring in Syria

Lull before another storm? China claims 'terrorist organizations' are stirring in Syria

Jihadist rebels have withdrawn from a pocket of land near Idlib in northern Syria following an assault by President Bashar al-Assad's forces. The Idlib region is the last part of Syria to be holding out against the Damascus government. China has warned of "terrorist organisations" including remnants of Daesh rising again in Syria if the international community ignores the "early warning" signs. Xie Xiaoyan, Beijing's envoy in Syria, said: "There is now a danger of terrorist organisations like ISIS (Daesh) being revived. The international community should pay attention." He was meeting in Geneva with the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen.

Illinois state senator offers apology for staged Trump assassination photos at fundraiser

Illinois state senator offers apology for staged Trump assassination photos at fundraiser

A Democratic state senator from Illinois came under fire over the weekend after pictures were posted online showing his supporters at a fundraising event performing a mock assassination of a faux President Trump. "The tolerant left," wrote a Facebook user in response to the incident. Photos posted by a woman who witnessed the mock assassination on Friday night show supporters of Sen. Martin Sandoval, who represents Illinois' 11th District — which includes parts of Chicago — acting out in front of guests, according to WCIA. One of them can be seen pointing a fake machine gun at a man wearing a Trump mask and Mexican costume. The individual appears to simulate being shot — grabbing his chest and leaning back. In another photo, Sandoval can be seen standing next to the person holding the gun. "Why is this ok?" a FB user asked. "I am sickened."

Mystery of DNA methylation uncovered by scientist in Denmark

Mystery of DNA methylation uncovered by scientist in Denmark

To a large extent, DNA methylation, which regulates vital cell functions, is still a mystery to the scientific world. Now, scientists have developed a method to quickly couple methylation enzymes to their respective methylation pattern. This finding could become essential for successful gene engineering in many species. All species mark their DNA with methyl groups. This is done to regulate gene expression, distinguish indigenous DNA from foreign DNA, or to mark old DNA strands during replication. Methylation is carried out by certain enzymes called methyltransferases, which decorate DNA with methyl groups in certain patterns to create an epigenetic layer on top of DNA. Until now, scientists have not been struggling to tell which enzymes are responsible for which patterns. But in a new study, recently published in Nature Communications, scientists from The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain) at Technical University of Denmark have coupled enzymes...

Refining the CRISPR method

Refining the CRISPR method

Researchers at ETH Zurich have refined the famous CRISPR-Cas method. Now, for the very first time, it is possible to modify dozens, if not hundreds, of genes in a cell simultaneously. Everyone's talking about CRISPR-Cas. This biotechnological method offers a relatively quick and easy way to manipulate single genes in cells, meaning they can be precisely deleted, replaced or modified. Furthermore, in recent years, researchers have also been using technologies based on CRISPR-Cas to systematically increase or decrease the activity of individual genes. The corresponding methods have become the worldwide standard within a very short time, both in basic biological research and in applied fields such as plant breeding.

College survey finds mental health issues are common among trans students

College survey finds mental health issues are common among trans students

Gender-nonconforming and transgender students are four times more likely to report mental health issues compared to the rest of their peers, according to a new study that is the largest so far to focus on this population of college students. Researchers relied on data from the Healthy Minds Study, an annual online report on student mental health from college campuses across the country. The new study examined responses of more than 65,200 students from 71 American institutions who were enrolled in college between 2015 and 2017. Roughly 1,200 respondents said they had an alternate gender identity, meaning they do not identify with the gender that matches their birth sex. The researchers grouped these students — about 2 percent of the study's sample, which included transgender students, gender-queer students and gender-nonconforming students and others — into a category called "gender-minority students."

Hindsight: Top Iranian official says Iran should never have signed Obama-era nuclear deal

Hindsight: Top Iranian official says Iran should never have signed Obama-era nuclear deal

A top Iranian official and close adviser to Iran's supreme leader says his country should never have signed the international nuclear deal that has now been renounced by President Donald Trump. In an interview with Lester Holt of NBC News, the official, Ali Shamkhani, who rarely speaks to the Western press, said that there were people in Iran who felt that signing the 2015 nuclear pact, known as the JCPOA, was a mistake. Asked by Holt if he was one of those people, Shamkhani said, "Yes. ... I'm just following the viewpoints of my nation, the people of Iran." Shamkhani is the military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and since 2013, has also been the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, making him Iran's top national security official. A former anti-Shah militant and Revolutionary Guard who once commanded Iran's naval forces, he previously served as minister of defense and mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Iran's presidency in 2001.

Ex-wife of Pakistani PM makes explosive claim: 'Khan sold off Kashmir to India. He knew beforehand Modi would strike Article 370'

Ex-wife of Pakistani PM makes explosive claim: 'Khan sold off Kashmir to India. He knew beforehand Modi would strike Article 370'

Reham Khan, the former ex-wife of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, says there was a 'deal' on Kashmir. In a video message posted on her YouTube channel 'Reham Khan Official', she talks about various issues including Kashmir. "I would say that Kashmir has been sold off. We were taught from the beginning that 'Kashmir Banega Pakistan'," she said in the interview. Comment: That's Hindi for "Kashmir will become Pakistan."

12 dead after rain triggers floods and landslides in northern Pakistan - 221 killed since July 1

12 dead after rain triggers floods and landslides in northern Pakistan - 221 killed since July 1

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in Pakistan reports that at least 12 people have died in flooding and landslides in northern parts of the country over the last few days. According to NDMA figures, 221 people have now died in flood- and rain-related incidents in Pakistan since 01 July this year. Azad Jammu and Kashmir NDMA said that 7 people died after landslides and a mudflow occurred in Hajira in Poonch District on 17 August, 2019. Four houses were destroyed.

Rio de Janeiro: Police sniper kills armed man holding dozens hostage on bus

Rio de Janeiro: Police sniper kills armed man holding dozens hostage on bus

A Brazilian police sniper fatally shot an armed man who held dozens of people hostage on a public bus in Rio de Janeiro after a four-hour standoff, officials said. The hostage-taker, armed with a gun and a knife, was seen on Brazilian TV exiting the passenger bus and being immediately surrounded by police. He was reportedly arrested at the scene. Rio de Janeiro Gov. Wilson Witzel later confirmed the man had died. All of the hostages were released unharmed, Rio de Janeiro State Military Police said. The hostage situation began around 5:30 a.m. local time Tuesday on a busy bridge linking Niteroi to downtown Rio de Janeiro. Police shut down traffic to the bridge - leaving hundreds of vehicles lined up in both directions - and placed a sniper on a nearby perch.

Scientists mull astrobiological implications of scorched exoplanet

Scientists mull astrobiological implications of scorched exoplanet

Astronomer Laura Kreidberg admits she was initially a bit worried about her latest results. Examinations of a planet orbiting the red dwarf star LHS 3844 seemed to indicate that the rocky super-Earth, 30 percent larger than our world, possessed little or no atmosphere. Kreidberg's concern stemmed from the fact that researchers are in the midst of a heated debate about the habitability of planets around red dwarfs, which make up 70 percent of the stars in our galaxy. A universe teeming with life is more likely if the worlds orbiting these diminutive entities, which are smaller and cooler than our sun, could be a good abode for biology. But red dwarfs are harsh hosts, emitting frequent flares containing x-rays and ultraviolet radiation that could sterilize a planet, as well as energetic stellar winds that can strip it of its protective atmosphere. Kreidberg and her colleagues' findings, appearing today in Nature, could be seen as a mark against the idea that planets around small red...

Russian diplomacy racks up success after success in the Middle East

Russian diplomacy racks up success after success in the Middle East

New balances of power and a new equilibrium are being set up discreetly in the Nile valley, in the Levant and the Arab peninsula. On the contrary, however, the situation is blocked in the Persian Gulf. This considerable and coordinated change is affecting different conflicts which in appearance have no connection with one another. It is the fruit of patient and discreet Russian diplomacy [1] and, in some cases, the relative good will of the USA. Unlike the United States, Russia is not seeking to impose its own vision on the world. It begins on the contrary with the culture of its interlocutors, which it modifies by small touches at its contact.

Lightning bolt kills shepherd, 19 buffaloes in western Indonesia

Lightning bolt kills shepherd, 19 buffaloes in western Indonesia

Authorities say lightning struck a livestock cage in western Indonesia, killing a shepherd and 19 water buffaloes. Local police chief Sukamat said Tuesday that Sintor Habeyahan had been lighting a bonfire to repel mosquitoes in the cage in North Sumatra province's Tapanuli Tengah district when lightning struck him and his buffaloes late Monday. Sukamat, who uses a single name, said the man and 19 buffaloes were killed. Two other animals received minor injuries. Grieving relatives buried the shepherd on Tuesday near a mass grave for his buffaloes. Source: The Associated Press

BEST OF THE WEB: Daily Mail: Ghislaine Maxwell staged LA photo with close friend and attorney

BEST OF THE WEB: Daily Mail: Ghislaine Maxwell staged LA photo with close friend and attorney

The first picture of Ghislaine Maxwell in more than three years was staged by her close friend and attorney, Leah Saffian, DailyMail.com has learned exclusively. A photo of Maxwell, 57, was published last week at an In-N-Out Burger joint in Los Angeles, the day after DailyMail.com broke the world exclusive that Epstein's alleged madam had been living under the radar at a Massachusetts mansion with her boyfriend Scott Borgerson for the past three years. The In-N-Out burger joint picture was published by the New York Post on Thursday after they obtained it from Saffian, 60. In the picture, Maxwell is seen staring at the camera with a tray of food and two drinks. A dog, which is understood to be Saffian's dog named Dexter, is at her feet. Comment: The pooch in question: Maxwell is reading a book in the picture but the title is not visible. The New York Post named the book as, The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives. Comment: Obviously Maxwell wouldn't stage a...

6.3-magnitude earthquake strikes east of Solomon Islands

6.3-magnitude earthquake strikes east of Solomon Islands

The epicentre of the earthquake was located at a depth of 76 kilometres (47 miles), 96 kilometres (57 miles) southeast of Lata, about 475 km (295 miles) north of the island of Santo in the Solomon Islands, according to the United States Geological Survey. The powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake was registered near the Solomon Islands on 20 August, the US Geological Survey said. There have been no immediate reports about casualties or damage caused by the quake. No tsunami warning has been issued.

US banned-missile test was apparently in works long before leaving INF

US banned-missile test was apparently in works long before leaving INF

It took the US just 17 days after it was no longer officially bound by the INF Treaty to conduct a missile test that would have breached its rules. And it probably was breaching the treaty, given how long preparation takes. On Sunday, the Pentagon fired a Tomahawk cruise missile from a truck-mounted Mark 41 Vertical Launching System to a distance of over 500km. The test was hardly unexpected. Both the missile and the launcher are time-tested, and their capabilities are publicly known. The only novelty was that the Mk41 was placed on a ground vehicle as opposed to a warship. If anything, the test was a demonstration of intent and attitude. It would have been legally impossible just a month ago, when the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty still forbade not only deploying but even developing weapon systems like the ground-based Tomahawk. The INF kicked the bucket this year after years of bickering between the US and Russia over who was the worst at sticking to the spirit of the...

'Color revolution' comes home? Democrats target Trump with regime-change tactics

'Color revolution' comes home? Democrats target Trump with regime-change tactics

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar calling on Americans to "take back our democracy" by emulating Hong Kong protests is just the latest episode in Democrats' slide towards "color revolution" tactics to get power they lost at the ballot box. "Could we take back our democracy if 1.7 million Americans marched for it?" asked Omar (D-Minnesota) on Sunday, retweeting a video allegedly showing that many Hong Kongers on the march. The protests shaking the Chinese semi-autonomous territory began at the end of March, over a proposed extradition bill, but have continued long after it was withdrawn, with demonstrators carrying US and UK flags while demanding democracy, freedom and human rights. This has led the Chinese authorities and much of the public to believe the protests amount to Western-backed "color revolution." To Omar, however, the protesting Hong Kongers are just a prop: her actual target is US President Donald Trump. Nor is this the first time a Democrat has called for radical tactics to...

Early Epstein accuser Alicia Arden: Police could have stopped him in 1997 but didn't take me seriously

Early Epstein accuser Alicia Arden: Police could have stopped him in 1997 but didn't take me seriously

More than two decades before Jeffrey Epstein took his own life, a woman went into a California police station and filed one of the earliest sex-crime complaints against him: that he groped her during what she thought was a modeling interview for the Victoria's Secret catalog. Alicia Arden said she never heard back from investigators about her complaint. No charges ever came of it. And to this day she sees it as a glaring missed opportunity to bring the financier to justice long before he was accused of sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls and women. "If they would have taken me more seriously than they did, it could have helped all these girls," said Arden, an actress and model. "It could have been stopped." With recent scrutiny focused on Epstein's life , wealth and connections to powerful people , his early brush with the law has been something of a mystery. After Arden's 1997 complaint to Santa Monica police first came to light several years ago, the department said little...

Paging Big Brother: In Amazon's bookstore, Orwell gets a rewrite

Paging Big Brother: In Amazon's bookstore, Orwell gets a rewrite

In George Orwell's "1984," the classics of literature are rewritten into Newspeak, a revision and reduction of the language meant to make bad thoughts literally unthinkable. "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words," one true believer exults. Now some of the writer's own words are getting reworked in Amazon's vast virtual bookstore, a place where copyright laws hold remarkably little sway. Orwell's reputation may be secure, but his sentences are not. Over the last few weeks I got a close-up view of this process when I bought a dozen fake and illegitimate Orwell books from Amazon. Some of them were printed in India, where the writer is in the public domain, and sold to me in the United States, where he is under copyright.

Lavrov responds to Turkey's whining, says they were warned HTS would be crushed in Idlib

Lavrov responds to Turkey's whining, says they were warned HTS would be crushed in Idlib

The Turkish Defence Ministry said a day earlier that three civilians had been killed and 12 more had been injured in an attack on its convoy moving toward an observatory point in Idlib Province. Attacks by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham militants in Idlib will be crushed, Turkey has been notified about that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. "Jointly with our Turkish colleagues, in order to stop regular violations by these terrorists of the cessation of hostilities regime, although it does not extend to them, we have made it clear that if they carry out attacks from this zone, they will be severely suppressed. Throughout this year, these provocations have not stopped", Lavrov said at a press conference, held after his talks with Ghanaian counterpart, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS or the "Organisation for the Liberation of the Levant") is an alliance of militant groups active in Syria. The group, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra is a part of this broader...

Troll Trump promises not to build Trump Tower in Greenland if he buys it

Troll Trump promises not to build Trump Tower in Greenland if he buys it

US President apparently hasn't given up on buying Greenland, promising the island's residents they won't end up with a giant gleaming Trump Tower in their backyard... and posting a photo of how that might have looked like. Trump tweeted a magnificently garish rendering of Trump Tower Greenland on Monday afternoon, promising the reluctant Danes that if he owned their massive island, it would certainly not look like that. (Presumably, the building would be black with gold accents, instead of solid gold, and several stories higher, with a golf course). Twitter exploded. "Make Greenland Great Again!!!" one supporter tweeted. "All in favor of invading Greenland?" another followed up.

Good advice: Iran warns North Korea not to trust US

Good advice: Iran warns North Korea not to trust US

Iran has advised its allies in Pyongyang not to trust the US and revealed that the Islamic Republic's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has plans to visit Pyongyang. "The US has proved unreliable for dialogue, both at the exit of the JCPOA [Global Joint Action Plan] and in negotiations with North Korea," said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abas Araqchi on Monday, during a meeting with a North Korean parliamentary delegation. The main US instrument against independent countries such as Iran and North Korea is economic sanctions, the deputy minister said, adding that the restrictions were unable to break the two states' resolve in any way. In addition, Araqchi also announced that Tehran would be available to develop political ties between the two countries and willing to prepare Zarif's visit to Pyongyang. This proclamation was made after Tehran completed the creation of the Bavar-373 air defense system. Iranian authorities compare the new system with the Russian S-300, reports...

Hailstones the size of grapefruits fall in Colorado, including largest ever recorded

Hailstones the size of grapefruits fall in Colorado, including largest ever recorded

The sky wasn't falling, but it might have felt like it in Colorado this week. Indeed, a storm there delivered a record-breaking hailstone that measured 4.83 inches in diameter -- roughly the size of a grapefruit, weather services said. The hail came down in Bethune on Tuesday, and it was measured by the Colorado Climate Center and the National Weather Service's office in Goodland, Kan. "Update: along with [the National Weather Service in Goodland], today we measured the hailstone that fell NW of Bethune, CO on Tuesday, 13 August. The maximum diameter was 4.83 [inches], which exceeds the long-standing state record of 4.5," the Colorado Climate Center tweeted Wednesday.

Severe storms hit Germany, disrupting transport networks

Severe storms hit Germany, disrupting transport networks

Commuters in parts of Germany faced disruption Monday after storms lashed the country. Thunderstorms, heavy rain and hailstones caused flooding and trees to fall, affecting rail and air travel in central, eastern and southern regions of the country. The rail network in the state of Hesse was particularly badly hit due to the weather conditions, a Deutsche Bahn (DB) spokesman said. In Walldorf - south west of Frankfurt - lightning struck a signal box, DB reported on Twitter. Trains between the main stations of Mannheim and Frankfurt had to be cancelled due to a line closure. DB said the closure would be in place until around 3pm on Monday. On the routes between Darmstadt and Frankfurt and between Hanau, east of Frankfurt, and Aschaffenburg, in Bavaria, passengers faced disruption because of overhead line problems.

Turkey turmoil: As floods inundate Istanbul region, nearby Izmir battles raging wildfires

Turkey turmoil: As floods inundate Istanbul region, nearby Izmir battles raging wildfires

Forest fires have consumed some 500 hectares (over 1,200 acres) of land in Izmir on Turkey's Aegean coast, an official said Monday. On Sunday, the fires broke out in four different regions -- including two in the southwestern Muğla province and others in Izmir province, according to Agriculture and Forest Ministry. Speaking to reporters in Izmir, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said that the fire in Karabağlar district of Izmir has so far destroyed some 500 hectares of forestland and firefighters are still battling to contain the fire.

FLASHBACK: Trump's top intelligence and military personnel held unusual meeting at CIA on Iran

FLASHBACK: Trump's top intelligence and military personnel held unusual meeting at CIA on Iran

Comment: Keep in mind that the following article is from last May, but points to just how much the CIA is still a part of influencing foreign policy towards Iran. In a highly unusual move, national security adviser John Bolton convened a meeting at CIA headquarters last week with the Trump administration's top intelligence, diplomatic and military advisers to discuss Iran, according to six current U.S. officials. The meeting was held at 7 a.m. on Monday, April 29, and included CIA Director Gina Haspel, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, five of the officials said. National security meetings are typically held in the White House Situation Room. The six current officials, as well as multiple former officials, said it is extremely rare for senior White House officials or Cabinet members to attend a meeting at CIA headquarters. The officials...

Jordan Peterson tweets video trashing deepfakes as 'threat to Western democracies'

Jordan Peterson tweets video trashing deepfakes as 'threat to Western democracies'

A neural network, called "NotJordanPeterson", has been trained to produce deep fake audios that mimic the voice of the Canadian psychologist, making him say things he never actually said - and people are already freaking out. Canadian clinical psychologist, best-selling author, and culture warrior Jordan Peterson has tweeted a YouTube video revealing the danger of deepfakes for current and future generations just days after an audio spoofing website replicating his voice was discovered online. Aside from the fact that the video, posted on the YouTube channel The Thinkery, addressed the "NotJordanPeterson" neural network that can make the AI model say anything one wants in the professor's voice, it also took a look at some potentially disturbing consequences of the further development of such technology.

Huawei blasts US move to expand blacklist of its affiliates as 'politically motivated'

Huawei blasts US move to expand blacklist of its affiliates as 'politically motivated'

Chinese telecom giant Huawei has said the US decision to blacklist another 46 of the firm's affiliates is 'unjust.' The list now includes more than 100 entries. The US Department of Commerce (DoC) initially blacklisted Huawei itself in May, forbidding US firms from selling technology or equipment to the Chinese tech giant, while also banning US state agencies from buying products and services from Huawei unless granted a waiver. Washington alleges that the Chinese company is involved in activities that pose a threat to US national security and foreign policy interests, suggesting, for example, that Huawei's smartphones could be used by China to spy on Americans, an allegation the firm has repeatedly denied. The ban, however, was delayed by the DoC for the second time on Monday, allowing Huawei 90 more days to do business with US firms. However, it announced it would add 46 more Huawei subsidiaries and affiliates to its blacklist, which now puts the total number of companies...

Meat tax will take food off poor people's tables so that wealthy eco-socialists can feel virtuous

Meat tax will take food off poor people's tables so that wealthy eco-socialists can feel virtuous

This is how you impose an unpopular and ineffective environmentalist policy that will hit the poorest citizens hardest, is bound to create a host of unintended consequences, and is founded on speculative science to begin with. You are a centrist government in a democratic Western country. You want to be seen to be taking action on the environment, but you believe in consumer capitalism, and therefore wouldn't dare to dismantle the profit-making machinery that actually contributes most of the CO2 within your economy. You praise the ideals of the Green New Deal, only because you know it will never become reality. Your target must be insignificant economically, yet high-profile in its symbolic value. Meat works perfectly. Eating it already has an aura of hedonistic licentiousness, and restricting consumption covers several bases - animal cruelty, public health, and most importantly, climate change resulting from intensive livestock farming. You will get years of headlines, just as...

Mercedes caught 'spying on drivers with secret tracking devices'

Mercedes caught 'spying on drivers with secret tracking devices'

Mercedes-Benz has found itself at the center of an apparently illegal spying operation, following reports that it installed tracking devices on thousands of vehicles and shared customer location data with third parties. According to the Sun, Mercedes-Benz fitted secret sensors to all new and used vehicles sold through its official dealers from as far back as 2018. These sensors can pinpoint a vehicle's location and the data is then transmitted to a central location. Both the driver and car information can then be passed to bailiffs who can then seize and repossess the vehicle from indebted drivers at will. The company sold more than 170,000 new cars in Britain this year, roughly 80 percent of which are reportedly sold on finance plans.

Real-life SkyNet? Pentagon wants to use AI to develop new weapons and vehicles

Real-life SkyNet? Pentagon wants to use AI to develop new weapons and vehicles

Despite numerous science fiction stories and famous scientists cautioning humanity against using artificial intelligence in various weapons systems, it seems that the Pentagon has disregarded these warnings. The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which operates under the US Department of Defence, has devised a new four-year project aimed at developing artificial intelligence (AI) for military purposes. This AI, in turn, is expected to help the Pentagon in its development of new vehicles, weapons, and equipment embedded with various cyber systems. In papers related to the project, DARPA explains that currently the development of such "cyber physical systems" (CPS) takes an enormous amount of time and resources, whereas the AI would reduce the gap between the system's inception and its deployment "from years to months". CPS development currently involves contractors coming up with alternative designs for certain CPS sub-systems, each of them solving the tasks with...

Kremlin: Putin fully briefed on Arkhangelsk accident, rumors of 'radioactive cloud' absurd

Kremlin: Putin fully briefed on Arkhangelsk accident, rumors of 'radioactive cloud' absurd

Five Rosatom employees died in a blast that rocked a military site in the Arkhangelsk Region on 10 August during tests of a liquid-propellant rocket engine. They will receive posthumous government honours. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is fully briefed on all details surrounding the accident in the Arkhangelsk region and dismissed rumours of a "radioactive cloud". "I suggest you focus on the statements made by the president yesterday, who said that there is no danger and, all the authorities are working to prevent the slightest risk to the citizens of Russia in connection with that emergency," Peskov responded when asked why radiation monitoring stations in Kirov and Dubna stopped submitting reports after the 8 August explosion in the Arkhangelsk region.