News Burst 30 May 2020
- Trump Signs Executive Order Stripping Social Media Companies Of “Liability Shield”. “Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see. As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls, and our homes. It is essential to sustaining our democracy. Online platforms are engaging in selective censorship that is harming our national discourse.Tens of thousands of Americans have reported, among other troubling behaviors, online platforms “flagging” content as inappropriate, even though it does not violate any stated terms of service; making unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints; and deleting content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse.Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets.Unsurprisingly, its officer in charge of so-called ‘Site Integrity’ has flaunted his political bias in his own tweets.At the same time online platforms are invoking inconsistent, irrational, and groundless justifications to censor or otherwise restrict Americans’ speech here at home, several online platforms are profiting from and promoting the aggression and disinformation spread by foreign governments like China. One United States company, for example, created a search engine for the Chinese Communist Party that would have blacklisted searches for “human rights,” hid data unfavorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and tracked users determined appropriate for surveillance. It also established research partnerships in China that provide direct benefits to the Chinese military. Other companies have accepted advertisements paid for by the Chinese government that spread false information about China’s mass imprisonment of religious minorities, thereby enabling these abuses of human rights.”
- A study published in the Lancet on Friday which prompted the World Health Organization to halt global trials of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 has fallen under scrutiny over a data discrepancy, The Guardian reports. According to the study – a data analysis of nearly 15,000 patients who received HCQ alone or with antibiotics (and conspicuously without zinc – the key ingredient), COVID-19 patients who received HCQ reportedly died at higher rates and experienced more cardiac complications than those without. As a result, the WHO halted all its trials involving the drug, which has been promoted by dozens of prominent doctors, and recently ordered by Indian health officials for use as a prophylactic against the disease.The study, led by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston, examined patients in hospitals around the world, including in Australia. It said researchers gained access to data from five hospitals recording 600 Australian Covid-19 patients and 73 Australian deaths as of 21 April.But data from Johns Hopkins University shows only 67 deaths from Covid-19 had been recorded in Australia by 21 April. The number did not rise to 73 until 23 April. The data relied upon by researchers to draw their conclusions in the Lancet is not readily available in Australian clinical databases, leading many to ask where it came from. -The Guardian
- As American and Russian military jets operate dangerously close to each other earlier this week, for the third time in months, Russia has just announced, it will launch the Poseidon submarine drone, dubbed the “Doomsday Drone” and or a “Nuclear Torpedo,” with an impressive range that could autonomously traverse the Atlantic Ocean and cause quite a stir in Washington. Several Russian media outlets are reporting the developments. RIA Novosti said a military source has confirmed the unmanned underwater vehicle, which can carry a nuclear warhead, is scheduled to launch this fall. The source said the launch would be conducted from a K-329 Belgorod nuclear submarine. There was no indication of where the launch site would be. Powered by a small nuclear reactor, Poseidon has a top speed estimated at between 60 and 100 knots, with an impressive range of 6,200 miles, and when launched from the Barents Sea or somewhere in the Arctic, can autonomously traverse the North Atlantic, an area where Russia, China, and the US are each trying to stake a claim, due mostly to the trillions of dollars of natural resources beneath the ocean.
- Early this week we took note of the increasingly tense border dispute between historic longtime enemies Greece and Turkey, specifically concentrated along the Evros River which separates the two. Athens charged that Turkish troops had conducted a land grab at a site where the river level went down, altering its course, or essentially orchestrating a quiet military ‘invasion’ of sovereign Greek territory in progress. “At the camp there is now a small Turkish flag flying from a tree. Troops have rejected Greek demands to withdraw. It comes weeks after thousands of Syrian refugees failed to break through into Greece,” The Daily Mail has described of the dispute. This also comes after months of Turkey’s Erdogan threatening to unleash Syrian refugee and migrant chaos on the EU — which he’s already made good on to a limited degree — resulting in clashes between Greek border patrols and an influx of Middle East migrants.
- Carlos Bolsonaro, Brazilian president’s social media savvy son, attacked what he called an “unconstitutional, political and ideological” investigation. Brazil’s Federal Police named Carlos Bolsonaro, son of President Jair Bolsonaro, as an organizer of a criminal scheme that spread fake news. Carlos is being investigated on suspicion of being one of the leaders of the group that assembles attacks to intimidate and threaten public authorities on the Internet. Supreme Court Judge Alexandre de Moraes said in his decision that there are indications of a scheme for the the mass dissemination of messages on social networks to damage the image of the highest court, endangering the “independence of judicial power.” He said the network appears to be financed by a group of business leaders close to the government. Sought in writing and by telephone, Carlos’ chief of staff did not respond to the report’s contacts.
- A gang of monkeys in Delhi, India assaulted a laboratory assistant and escaped with coronavirus test samples from three patients. The incident happened near Meerut Medical College. According to the report, one of the monkeys was later spotted in a tree chewing one of the sample collection kits. In March we noted that rival monkey gangs in Thailand – driven by starvation due to a lack of visitors amid the pandemic – have been roving the streets looking for food. The ferocity of the animals shocked even locals, who are used to seeing the monkeys on a daily basis. One onlooker who captured video of the monkeys said: “They looked more like wild dogs than monkeys. They went crazy for the single piece of food. I’ve never seen them this aggressive.”
- The Ayatollah has an account on Twitter platform, where he routinely spouts dangerously anti-American rhetoric, without drawing even a whiff of scrutiny from Twitter (or the American left).
- Some countries charge fees for extending visas to people stuck on their territories amid the coronavirus lockdowns, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday. “We are very thankful to those countries which have shown empathy and extended visas free of charge. But there are a number of countries which opted otherwise, although visa extension costs a lot and people are short of money. Not only to extend their visas. They have no money at all,” she said during an online conference of the Moscow Diplomatic Club. Many people stuck in foreign countries, in her words, are facing lots of problems, such as the lack of job, contacts with the family, transport logistics, etc. “And on top of that, they are supposed to pay for the visa extension, although it is not their fault, it is a force majeure event. An objective reality. Notably, some countries charge hundreds of dollars to extend visas,” Zakharova said. “This experience needs to be analyzed too and it will be taken into account in our diplomatic work,” she added.
- India is battling the worst desert locust outbreak in decades eating their way across vast swath of crops in Rajasthan, now invading Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. “Though an individual locust is small in size, impact of large numbers on the windshield is known to have impacted the pilot forward vision. This is a grave concern during the landing, taxi and takeoff phase,” the DGCA circular said. Pitot and static sources can also get partially or fully blocked while flying through locust swarms, it stated. “Blocked pitot and static sources lead to erroneous instrument indications, especially unreliable air speed and altimeter indications,” it said. A pitot tube in airplanes is used to measure the flow speed of the wind.
- The unarmed black man who died after being pinned to the ground by a white cop, sparking riots in Minneapolis, reportedly knew his alleged killer. Ex-cop Derek Chauvin and George Floyd both worked as security guards at the El Nuevo Rodeo club and restaurant in the city. Maya Santamaria, who owns the building, told KSTP, “Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open. They were working together at the same time, it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.”
- A leopard which had strayed into a chicken farm in Champadevi, Kirtipur, Nepal, has been rescued by forest officials. Locals had set up a trap after noticing that chickens were going missing for the past five days from the farm. On Friday, they found the big cat trapped. Forest officials were called who then darted the animal and rescued it. Over the years, sightings of common leopards have increased in various places of Kathmandu Valley, which wildlife experts believe is due to shrinking habitats and drying up of water resources inside forests.
- The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are imposing a curfew starting 8 p.m. Friday, their mayors declared Friday. The curfews will last until 6 a.m. Saturday, and then go into effect again at 8 p.m. Saturday, expiring 6 a.m. Sunday. “During the curfew, all persons must not travel on any public street or in any public place,” according to Mayor Jacob Frey’s resolution. The curfews do not extend to people traveling to or from work, emergency services, law enforcement, people seeking emergency medical care, the homeless and the news media. Violations of the curfew are a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine.
- U.S. Senator Ted Cruz Calls for Criminal Investigation Into Twitter for ‘Blatant and Willful Violation’ of U.S. Sanctions on Iran by Providing Social Media Accounts and Services.
- The fired Minneapolis police officer who was seen pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck on video has been arrested and charged with murder, officials said Friday. Derek Chauvin, who was a 19-year veteran with the city’s police department, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension took Chauvin into custody at 11:44 a.m. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the investigation is ongoing into the other three officers involved, all of whom have been fired. Freeman said his office wanted to focus on the “most dangerous perpetrator,” and that “this is by far the fastest we have ever charged a police officer.”
- From June, foreign residents of South Korea have to provide a medical certificate showing they are negative for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, to reenter the country. The ministry said the new disease control policy applies to people leaving the country after June, including long-term residency permit holders. The certificate has to be issued within the last 48 hours from the time of departure in order to be deemed valid, the ministry said, which effectively revokes reentry permits. Self-isolating for 14 days is still required upon arrival.
The Strongest Solar Flares Since 2017: For the first time in more than two years, the sun is really flaring. Today, May 29th, Earth-orbiting satellites detected an M1-class solar flare (07:24 UTC) followed by a C9-class flare (10:46 UTC). Both came from a likely sunspot hiding just behind the sun’s northeastern limb. These are the strongest solar flares since Oct. 20, 2017–the last time the sun produced an M-class eruption. In fact, they might be even stronger they they seem. The explosions were partially eclipsed by the edge of the sun, reducing their apparent intensity. So far the flares have not much affected Earth. The underlying sunspot is facing away from our planet. However, that could soon change. Solar rotation will bring the ‘spot over the limb within the next 24 to 48 hours. Future flares could be geoeffective. Technically, we don’t know for sure that the active region *is* a sunspot. The underlying dark cores have not yet been sighted. Confirmation awaits better viewing geometry–probably tomorrow. Video Player
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Strongest EQ in Europe M4.3 S of Crete, Greece
Strongest EQ in North America M3.9 Nevada & California
Strongest EQ on the Planet M5.3 Vanuatu
Deepest EQ M5.1 585 km Tonga