Topics

Pope Francis calls for Syrian refugees to return home as Cardinal Sarah issues a warning for Europe

In his Easter address on Sunday, Catholic Pope Francis called for the return of Syrian refugees to their home country as he urged a political solution for the ongoing “humanitarian crisis” in the country. He told the 70,000 pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square that “Now is instead the time for a renewed commitment for a political solution able to respond to people’s legitimate hopes for freedom, peace and justice, confront the humanitarian crisis and favour the secure re-entry of the homeless, along with all those who have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon and Jordan.”

Patriarch Bechara Raï, the head of the Lebanese Maronite Church, had earlier begged for the immediate return of Syrian refugees to their home country in his in his Palm Sunday sermon. The Cardinal said that the refugees have become “the victims of two wars, the one fought with weapons, which destroyed their homes, and the one of the politics of ‘wait and see,’ which will destroy their cultural identity and their history.” Patriarch Raï said it is deplorable that “for political reasons, the international community does not encourage them to return home.”

Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea went further by saying Catholics do not need to support mass migration. He argued that the Western world does not benefit by bringing huge influxes of people with little to no regard for border security or cultural hegemony, saying, "All migrants who arrive in Europe are penniless, without work, without dignity. ... This is what the Church wants?" Cardinal Sarah told French publication Valeurs Actuelles that "The Church can not cooperate with this new form of slavery that has become mass migration. If the West continues in this fatal way, there is a great risk that, due to a lack of birth, it will disappear, invaded by foreigners, just as Rome has been invaded by barbarians."

Pope Francis has consistently promoted mass migration throughout his papacy, repeatedly denouncing the building of walls as a form of imprisonment. Cardinal Sarah, who is head of the Vatican liturgy office, minced no words in his denunciation of the prevailing viewpoint among liberal Catholics, which states that the faithful betray Christ by wanting stricter immigration policies, especially from Islamic countries. Liberal Catholics often speak of migration in romantic terms, but the Cardinal notes there is nothing romantic about people leaving their cultures and homes behind, saying they would best be helped in their culture of origin. "My country is predominantly Muslim," he said. "I think I know what reality I'm talking about."

Cardinal Sarah warned that if Europe were to fall, Islam would prevail as the world religion, altering the course of history and culture as we know it. "If Europe disappears, and with it the priceless values of the Old Continent, Islam will invade the world and we will completely change culture, anthropology, and moral vision," he warned.

In an interview about his new book with American Conservative, Cardinal Sarah did not mince words, saying, "A West that denies its faith, its history, its roots, and its identity is destined for contempt, for death, and disappearance. But I would like to point out that everything is prepared for a renewal. I see families, monasteries, and parishes that are like oases in the middle of a desert. It is from these oases of faith, liturgy, beauty, and silence that the West will be reborn."

Extinction Rebellion climate extremists shut down London public transit

In the latest evolution of the far-left’s extremism, April 15 saw the start of three days of protests that ground London to a halt, affecting more than 500,000 people. Over a thousand Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaigners threatened to bring the British capital city of London to a standstill for up to two weeks.

Extinction Rebellion is the latest in vogue protest movement for climate change activists. It has grown into an international movement backed by left-wing celebrities, academics, and writers by calling for “radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse”. Activists in at least 80 cities in more than 33 countries will hold similar demonstrations on environmental issues, campaigners said.

Extinction Rebellion protestors blocked busy London roads and bridges, spray-painted government buildings, glued themselves to a DLR train at Canary Wharf, and chained and glued themselves to buildings, including the gates of Buckingham Palace. Semi-naked activists had previously glued themselves to windows in the public gallery of the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. The following day, two dozen protesters occupied the International Criminal Court in the Hague, in the Netherlands. “Only a peaceful planet-wide mobilisation of the scale of the Second World War will give us a chance to avoid the worst-case scenarios,” and “the world has “run out of the luxury of time to react incrementally” Extinction Rebellion campaigners said.

Police arrested more than 300 Extinction Rebellion protestors while London Mayor Sadiq Khan attempted to ingratiate himself with them, diverting attention from intense and ongoing criticism of his poor response to London’s knife crime epidemic. The former Labour MP and London mayor said that the “climate change emergency” was a “top priority” for City Hall and reiterated his “passion” for peaceful protest as “the cornerstone of our democracy”. West End businesses complained of a GBP 12 million loss in sales while Mayor Khan professed his “full respect” for the anarchists.

Mayor Khan attended last month’s march for a second Brexit referendum, and likened the climate protesters to suffragettes, declaring, “I was at a protest myself a few weeks ago, protesting, campaigning and lobbying on whether the public should have a final say on staying in the union and given the option of what parliament’s voted for.” The upcoming mayoral election takes place in May next year. Mayor Khan’s mayoral rival, Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey, said, “The Mayor is telling law-abiding Londoners their interests come second to those who shout loudest and disrupt the most.

Despite their claims that they are proponents of non-violent civil disobedience, on Monday, Extinction Rebellion protesters vandalised Shell’s headquarters, gluing themselves to windows and smashing glass revolving doors, causing more than GBP 6,000 of damage and enabling them to have a platform in front of a jury trial in Crown Court. Now, according to Extinct Rebellion’s legal advice, some of the protesters will soon be citing Mayor Khan’s “climate change emergency” rhetoric in their defence.

Extinction Rebellion says direct action is needed to force governments to act urgently on climate change and wildlife declines and halt a “sixth mass extinction”. Their demands include the declaration of an ecological emergency, greenhouse gases to be brought to net zero by 2025, and the creation of a citizens’ assembly to lead action on the environment. Extinction Rebellion says the systems propping up “modern consumer-focused lifestyles” will lead to mass water shortages, crop failures, sea level rises, and the displacement of millions. Extinction Rebellion says it wants “ecocide”, the deliberate destruction of the natural environment, to be listed alongside crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and crimes of aggression.

1,500 people showed up to Extinction Rebellion’s first protest on October 31 last year on Parliament Square in London. The group later claimed that over the next several weeks “Six thousand of us converged on London to peacefully block five major bridges across the Thames.” Extinction Rebellion claims to have chapters in dozens of countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, the Solomon Islands, Australia, Spain, South Africa, and India.

Extinction Rebellion professes to be about climate change but in reality, is the latest rebranding and marketing campaign of Marxism. Their manifesto, published on their website, gives their game away. The tactics, slogans, and the general behaviour of the Marxist protesters exactly echoes that of the anti-globalisation protests of the early 2000s.

Beyond their climate focus, Extinction Rebellion demands the end of interest-bearing loans and to bring down the global economy with it. They want to disrupt and destroy. global capitalism and know the term ‘Marxism’ isn’t going to get the results they want, so they dress their agenda up as ‘environmentalism’ to tempt useful idiots to join their cause. In fact, Extinction Rebellion don’t admit the obvious fact that renewable energy needs capital and therefore investors who issue interest-bearing loans.

Einstein’s theory proven as astronomers capture the first photo of a black hole

Introduced in 1915, theoretical physicist Albert Einstein’s revolutionary theory of general relativity explains the laws of gravity and their relation to other natural forces. It says that matter warps or curves the geometry of space-time, and we experience that distortion as gravity. The existence of extremely massive black holes was one of the first predictions of Einstein’s theory, and even Einstein wasn’t sure that they actually existed.

Using a massive telescope network, scientists now have data in hand that could vastly broaden our understanding of gravity. Black holes are the most densely filled objects in the universe, giving them enormous gravitational pull. Stellar black holes, formed from the collapse of giant stars, can compact the mass of ten suns to the size of New York City. Supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies can have the mass of billions of suns. Their origin remains a mystery.

Even if the first images are still crappy and washed out, we can already test for the first time some basic predictions of Einstein's theory of gravity in the extreme environment of a black hole,” says radio astronomer Heino Falcke of Radboud University in Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Astronomers have only circumstantial evidence that black holes lie hidden at the heart of every large galaxy in the universe. “They are the ultimate endpoint of space and time, and may represent the ultimate limit of our knowledge,” says Mr. Falcke.

The first-ever photo of a black hole is a milestone in astrophysics and an achievement that validated the pillar of science put forward by Albert Einstein more than a century ago. The somewhat fuzzy photo of the black hole at the center of Messier 87, or M87, a massive galaxy residing in the center of the relatively nearby Virgo galaxy cluster, shows a glowing ring of red, yellow, and white surrounding a dark center.

The research was conducted by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, an international collaboration involving about 200 scientists begun in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole. Capturing the photos took years of planning and cooperation between international partners stretching from the tallest mountain in Hawaii to the frozen terrain of the South Pole to create an electronically linked network of eight observatories and a virtual telescope dish as wide as the planet. Known as the Event Horizon Telescope, the radio-dish network opened its eye on the heavens during a 10-day window that started on April 4.

Black holes, phenomenally dense and coming in various sizes, are extraordinarily difficult to observe by their very nature. A black hole's event horizon is the point of no return beyond which anything – stars, planets, gas, dust and all forms of electromagnetic radiation – gets swallowed into oblivion. The telescope zeroed in on two supermassive black holes: a beast as massive as four million suns called Sagittarius A, which lies at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, and a black hole about 1,500 times heavier at the core of the nearby galaxy M87. The Event Horizon Telescope has probed the neighborhood of each of these behemoths before, but this is the first time the network has included the South Pole telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a group of 66 radio dishes in Chile. ALMA sharpens the Event Horizon Telescope’s acuity 10-fold, enabling it to spot objects as small as a golf ball on the moon—and thus image the surprisingly small event horizons of the two black holes.

Regulators target social media rules and tech start-ups amid another Facebook privacy leak

A new European Commission research paper titled 'Competition for the Digital Era' says American technology giants should be subject to stricter merger controls where a “heightened degree of control of acquisitions of small start-ups by dominant platforms” will prevent them from purchasing promising European start-ups and stifling competition.

The report suggested a new test could help decide whether mergers should be blocked if they give disproportionate power to the acquiring company over data or prevented the entry of new start-ups. It also suggested changing the revenue threshold for mergers and buyouts of European tech companies so that more deals would be scrutinised by the regulator.

Many of Britain’s hopeful technology start-ups have been bought by Silicon Valley firms, such as Bloomsbury AI bought by Facebook for USD $30 million and artificial intelligence company DeepMind acquired by Google for 400 million GDP in 2014. In the UK, the Government has proposed a new digital tax on the biggest technology firms, while Labour has proposed new regulations such as fines on companies which fail to remove hate speech.

Despite new calls from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to introduce regulation on social media, the report does not appear to support this. These tech giants continue to be criticized for being platforms that spread misinformation and host discriminatory and abusive content. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon are among those that have come under increasing attention from regulators and politicians over their use of data and ability to combat harmful content.

The reports authors said treating technology companies like public utilities with strict regulations would not work and would stifle innovation, stating, “We do not envision a new type of 'public utility regulation' to emerge for the digital economy. The risks associated with such a regime – rigidity, lack of flexibility, and risk of capture – are too high.

Mr. Dorsey said, “It’s the job of regulators to ensure protection of the individual and a level playing field." In an opinion piece in the Washington Post last weekend, Mr. Zuckerberg called for government and regulators to have a “more active role.” He called for regulation in harmful content, elections, privacy, and data portability, and said rules should be drawn up to define political advertisements and more countries should adopt rules based on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Mr. Zuckerberg is currently engaged in a criminal investigation into how political consultants used Facebook's system to improperly harvest data from 87 million people. This was made possible by tasking a developer to create a seemingly harmless personality test app, which when installed by Facebook users was granted access to the Facebook Application Programmer Interface (API) to pool their information, which was later sold to Cambridge Analytica.

Now, in another scandal for the company that has long profited from use of its users’ personal data, cyber security researchers have revealed 540 million Facebook records have been "exposed to the internet". According to Australian IT company UpGuard, two apps that Facebook allowed to access to its users’ data stored personal information on insecure servers without putting security measures in place.

Users’ Facebook IDs, passwords, friend lists, location check-ins, events, comments, likes, reactions, and account names were found on a database uploaded by Mexican digital publisher Cultura Colectiva which was discovered on Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud servers, a popular storage product. A second database belonging to a now defunct Los Angeles-based social network app called The Pool Party which included names, email addresses, photos, friends lists and likes of 22,000 additional users was also found. Both Cultura Colectiva and At The Pool appear to have used Facebook's API to gather information.

Bezos divorce draws attention to possible Saudi hacking of private devices and personal information

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and wife MacKenzie have finalized their amicable divorce, whereby Mr. Bezos retains control over his USD $890 billion online marketplace. On January 9, Mr. Bezos announced the end of their 25-year marriage, the day before American tabloid the National Enquirer published details of his “months-long affair” with Lauren Sanchez.

Mr. Bezos told his top security chief of 22 years, former CIA and FBI agent Gavin de Becker, to “spend whatever is needed” to find the source who leaked the details of his new relationship. In February, Mr. Bezos published a blog post charging that the tabloid had attempted to blackmail him with intimate photographs that had been taken on his smartphone and allegedly sent to Ms. Sanchez unless the investigation was dropped.

Mr. de Becker’s investigation led him to accuse Saudi Arabia of hacking Mr. Bezos’ phone to obtain private information, including the photos and accompanying texts. “Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi’s murder,” Mr. de Becker wrote in an article for the Daily Beast.

After interviews with current and former executives from The National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc (AMI), advisers to American President Donald Trump, associates close to those at the heart of Saudi Arabia's government, Middle East intelligence experts and cyber security specialists, Mr. de Becker concluded the hacking was a “key part of the Saudis’ ‘extensive surveillance efforts’”. Experts told Mr. de Becker about the Saudi government’s capability to “collect vast amounts of previously inaccessible data from smartphones in the air without leaving a trace - including phone calls, texts, emails.

In his article, Mr. de Becker suggested that Mr. Bezos became a target of the Saudi regime after the Washington Post, which he owns, criticized the country after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. United States intelligence officials said they believed that Mr. Khashoggi's killing, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, was ordered by the crown prince himself. This allegation was strongly denied by the Saudi government, and the Saudi government’s Minister of State for foreign affairs denied all accusations regarding Mr. Bezos, saying it had “absolutely nothing to do” with the National Enquirer’s story.

Mr. de Becker said some of the methods allegedly employed by the Saudi government to “attack” people, included creating artificially trending hashtags online. He claimed it had also used a “cyberarmy” of bots to attack Mr. Bezos.

The Saudi regime previously sent an operative to work for Twitter to gather information. Twitter later fired the suspected employee and later advised certain users that their accounts may have been targeted by state-sponsored actors.

Evidence from Mr. de Becker’s investigation has been turned over to federal officials, and he notes it is “unclear to what degree” AMI is aware of the Saudi government’s involvement.

Apple launches a new streaming service to compete with the likes of Netflix

On Monday, Apple announced its new TV streaming service called Apple TV Plus, as well as a revamped Apple TV experience that competes against the biggest streaming services. Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “This will be a different kind of event. We’ve developed world-class services, and that’s what today is all about.” The announcement is considered crucial for Apple as its iPhone sales flatten, and the company looks to its growing services division to make up for the revenue loss.

Apple TV+ was unveiled to “tell great stories,” as Mr. Cook put it. Among the creative partners introduced were Hollywood elites including Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, J.J. Abrams, and Oprah.

Despite being categorized as "streaming services," however, the new Apple TV Plus and its peers have distinctively differing features from each other. The new Apple TV Plus will have original content, streaming apps with an Apple TV device, the option to buy or rent content, the ability to watch purchased iTunes content with Apple TV or on other devices with the Apple TV app, including mobile devices, computers, some smart TVs, and some streaming devices, includes premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz with Apple TV Channels, and will not contain ads.

What Apple TV will not offer are live TV, such as Hulu, since it is not its own cable provider. Apple did not announce pricing for Apple TV+, which will be available in the fall.

A new Apple TV app, called Apple TV Channels, offers TV shows, sports, movies, and children’s programming tailored for the user through machine learning of their habits. The app, available beginning in May, can be viewed through digital platforms like Samsung, Roku, and Amazon.com.

Apple News+ is now available. The first month is free, and USD $9.99 a month after. The company is revamping it by bringing more than 300 magazines such as Time, Vogue, Sports Illustrated, and the New Yorker.

The consumer market is embracing digital subscription services in record numbers, according to market researchers. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of American households have a video-streaming subscription service while 65 percent pay for traditional TV. According to Deloitte, this marks the first time streaming has overtaken traditional TV in the U.S. and with Apple’s entry, and the impending launches of services from Comcast ’s NBC and Disney, the shift is likely to accelerate.

Though iPhone sales dipped 15 percent in the December quarter, they still accounted for 62 percent of Apple’s USD $84 billion in total sales for the quarter. Services rose 19 percent and made up 13 percent of total quarterly sales.

European Union introduces new copyright rules to further infringe on freedom of speech

On Tuesday, members of the European Union Parliament approved new online copyright rules by voting in favour of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. As the EU Parliament put it, the new rules aim "to ensure that the longstanding rights and obligations of copyright law also apply to the internet” and has brought intense criticism from technology companies, freedom of speech activists, and content creators.

A majority of EU member states now need to approve the final text when representatives meet next month. After that, the Directive needs to be implemented by each member state, and those implementations may not be the same. Now, a two-year countdown begins before EU countries turn the Directive into national law. During that time, expect advocacy groups to challenge the requirements in court. Everyone using the internet in Europe and every company doing business there will be affected in some way, though no one is quite sure how.

Article 13 requires anyone sharing copyrighted content to obtain permission from rights owners, even if the content is just an animated GIF on Twitter. Even repurposing an image for a meme would require permission from the image's creator, because while memes are protected as parodies under current copyright law, an automated filter is incapable of distinguishing between a parody and a rip-off. Memes are a particular target because conservatives are vastly more successful in creating and communicating a message with them, which run predominantly against mainstream media narratives.

User-generated content platforms from Facebook to Wikipedia will now be forced to implement “upload filters” to ensure material doesn’t infringe on someone else’s copyright or risk being sued. The filter would analyze the content being uploaded, compare it to a database of copyrighted works, and either permit its passage or kick it back to the uploader. Prohibitively expensive, vulnerable to bugs, and prone to extensive collateral censorship, such filters have the potential to effectively hobble the free exchange of information the internet has come to represent. As has been proven in other instances, algorithms have the potential to, for example, influence millions of votes in an election.

Article 13 will require news aggregators that want to display content from news providers to obtain a license for anything more than "very short extracts." Article 13 has been derided as a "link tax" that will damage small publishers and news-related startups, however the EU Parliament insists this is not true and notes that hyperlinking has explicitly been exempted in the directive. Content aggregators, including those such as Google may choose to avoid publishers that demand payment or bestow a competitive advantage (e.g. ranking) to publishers offering favorable licensing terms. Given how publishers in Europe have regretted the loss of visitor traffic that follows from Google excommunication, they may prefer low- or no-cost licensing to obscurity.

Article 15 allows websites to be sued for copyright violations by their users and requires internet companies to adopt upload filters to prevent copyright liability arising from users. Websites may be able to avoid liability with an algorithm, of which the current absence of any foolproof system suggests automated solutions will fall short, or by hiring people to provide editorial oversight. The human option would not work at the scale contemplated by Google or Facebook where the cost in editors would exceed the ad revenue, but it might turn out to be the only way to limit user-generated misinformation.

As the European Commission explains, "The draft directive however does not specify or list what tools, human resources or infrastructure may be needed to prevent unremunerated material appearing on the site. There is therefore no requirement for upload filters. However, if large platforms do not come up with any innovative solutions, they may end up opting for filters."

International director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Danny O'Brien said in an interview, "When this first came up, even the original language was so difficult to imagine being successfully implemented, that it was hard to believe anyone would even try to pass it into law. Now after it has gone through the mincing machine of the negotiation, it's even more incoherent."

A version of Article 13 passed the Parliament in September despite widespread public outcry and mutated into an even more restrictive proposal during closed-door negotiations between lawmakers and major corporations. “Dozens of MEPs are undecided on how to vote,” the EFF tweeted, highlighting the “Save Your Internet” campaign it has vowed to fight to the bitter end. “Everyone is against it: artists, small businesses, big businesses, the Internet’s creators, and over 5 million people who signed the petition to stop the censorship machine it would create,” the group said.

Aside from member governments and wealthy copyright-holding corporations, it’s difficult to identify supporters for the restrictive provision. “Such sweeping pressure for pre-publication filtering is neither a necessary nor proportionate response to copyright infringement online,” said David Kaye, UN special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.

Daniel Lacalle: Why Central Banks May Trigger the Next Crisis

In a new interview with Hedgeye, chief economist Daniel Lacalle described his long term view on the issues impacting the global economic cycle. Mr. Lacalle said the current global cycle reflects debt saturation, a prolonged recovery that leads to slower growth in the face of slowdown after years of stimulus measures, as evidenced by lower productivity, higher debt, and challenges of demand side policies, where the failure of many of them are driving lower levels of growth. This is most evident in economies that relied the most on monetary policies compared to fiscal policy, including China and the European Union.

The Chinese slowdown has nothing to do with trade wars

The realization is that all of the stimulus projects since 2008 have driven the economy to be less dynamic, including the aforementioned debt saturation, excess capacity, and malinvestment directed by government policies and regional government policies, resulting in China’s economic slowdown. Industrial production and exports are showing the competitive capacity of the economy is rapidly weakening, and the economy is not as robust as the government portrays it to be. China is now a trade deficit country, with manipulation of its GDP numbers, so a trade war with the United States is simply being used as an excuse to justify the evidence of internal and external demand weakening, which has been taking place for two years now.

European Union challenges. Low growth, high interventionism.

Mr. Lacalle says the issue of the Eurozone is very simple: it is missing the technology revolution completely, it’s not addressing the issues of productivity because it continues to subsidize the obsolete sectors while penalizing sectors of high productivity with overly aggressive fiscal wedges, the problem of demographics (which the central banks always ignore), and very high debt due to very high government spending. He calls the Eurozone slowdown as a case of “reality versus magic” amid an aging population, massive government spending, and huge tax rates.

He says he told the European Central Bank – who were unaware of the figure and how to deal with it – that 80 percent of gross capital formation was actually recycled capital and therefore once could not expect productivity growth improvement in the underlying economy and real wages strengthening fundamentally. What the Eurozone is experiencing is not unlike Japan in the late 1980s, where it disguised its structural problems with liquidity that generated a placebo effect upon a fundamental belief in the risk of the Euro collapsing. This resulted in the inflation of financial assets and negative yielding bonds in nearly all Eurozone economies and massive inflation in sovereign bonds, but the transfer of monetary policy has not gone to the real economy.

The US economy is more robust, but slowdown is inevitable.

The difference with the United States economic cycle is that the mechanism of transmission of the monetary policy is much better. It’s relative, but what is keeping the economy strong is whilst in the Eurozone 80 percent of the real economy is financed through the banking system, in the United States this is about 20 percent and therefore a much more dynamic economy with a better system of cleaning up problems.

The underlying trends are much different in the U.S. than the Eurozone and China because the impact of government spending and itself in the economy is much smaller. Productivity and wage growth are better, capital expenditure is poor but only due to the fact that companies do not need to spend more since the American economy is much more regional and much less externally dependent. Also, U.S. energy independence, where they are currently producing as much as Saudi Arabia, is an integral factor in the difference between the U.S., China, and the Eurozone.

 Watch the full interview

Terrorist attacks highlight the media’s hypocrisy

This week was witness to several terrorist attacks in Europe and New Zealand, and this condensed period of time highlighted the hypocrisy with which the mainstream news media covers and portrays this violence.

28-year-old Brenton Tarrant killed 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. He live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, and shooting the wounded from close range. Mr. Tarrant had documented his radicalisation and two years of preparations in a 74-page manifesto that he posted on social media. A self-described eco-fascist who admired Communist China, Mr. Tarrant said he was a white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.

In Utrecht, Netherlands, 37-year-old Turkish born Gokmen Tanis, who had an existing criminal record, opened fire on a train, killing three people and seriously injuring five others. According to the Public Prosecutor, Mr. Tanis acted alone with terrorist intent, with a letter found in his getaway car containing statements about solidarity between Muslims.

A 47-year-old Muslim migrant from Senegal, Ousseynou Sy, threatened to burn 51 children alive in a bus he torched at San Donato Milanese near Milan, after planning to use his young passengers as human shields and escape to Africa. Two children managed to get a phone and call the police, and a Carabiniere (military policeman) rushed to one of the sides of the burning bus and broke a window with his own hands to help the children escape. Mr. Sy told investigators he hates white people for having "invaded and colonised" Africa, forcing Africans to emigrate and "die in the Mediterranean". Mr. Sy, who also had an existing criminal record, was granted his Italian citizenship through marriage, which will now likely be revoked. Alberto Nobili, head of Milan's counter terrorism police, said Mr. Sy had posted a video on Youtube with the message: "Africa, rise up."

Ten people were just arrested in Frankfurt Rhine-Main, Germany for a suspected Islamist attack plan, that included using a car and guns to kill as many “infidels” as possible. A 21-year-old and two 31-year-old brothers are noted as the “main suspects” in the group and are believed to be associated with the local Islamist Salafist community. All are accused of plotting an “Islamist terrorist-motivated attack”. Several of the suspects are German citizens, according to the prosecutor’s office, and the arrests revealed a large network of money, drugs, and weapons.

The mainstream news media’s normalised and sensationalist hypocrisy is exposed in their choice coverage of terrorist attacks. They present the impression that terrorism occurs equally from Muslims and the so-called “far-right”. When a terrorist attributes his actions to Islam, the media bend over backwards to say these do not reflect the wider Muslim community, but when a terrorist attack comes from a white supremacist they are quick to paint all conservatives in society as racist, far-right extremists.

The far-left HOPE Not Hate organisation, which describes itself as “anti-fascist” has received funding from billionaire open borders campaigner George Soros, claiming that “huge numbers of Britons are among the global audience for far-right forums” online. Groups such as HNH have been shown to have relationships with mainstream news outlets to push their message that any criticism or expression of concern regarding migrants, Islam, or open borders are the equivalent of far-right extremism and white supremacy.

The mainstream news media have been silent on the fact that in 2019 to date 2,041 non-Muslims have been killed in more than 360 Islamist attacks. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there have been 34,751 Islamic terrorist attacks worldwide. In 2014, deaths from terrorism increased by 80 percent from 2013, with a total of 32,658 victims. Of these deaths, 78 percent and 57 percent of all attacks occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria. Iraq continues to be the country most impacted by terrorism with 9,929 terrorist fatalities, the highest ever recorded in a single country.

The numbers simply do not compare with those of terrorist attacks carried out by non-Muslims. Despite media attempts to disproportionally show there is a “far-right extremist” threat growing in western countries, the reverse is true. According to Britain’s Security Service, better known as MI5, the number of far-right terror cases the authorities are faced with is “absolutely dwarfed” by the number of cases related to radical Islam. The global jihad is a highly organized, multiple-pronged network that is working both stealthily and violently on a worldwide scale. Contrary to the myth that mainstream news media attempts to push, white supremacists and the so-called “far right” are not the biggest challenge facing the west in terms of security.

Government sources recently confessed there are 23,000 Jihadists in Britain. MI5 Director-General Andrew Parker has said the Islamist threat is operating on an unprecedented scale and has increased “dramatically” over the past year. In a rare public speech, he said, “In 2017, with all that has happened and much that has not, it is clear that we are contending with an intense UK terrorist threat from Islamist extremists. That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly, and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before … We’ve seen a dramatic upshift in the threat this year. It’s at the highest tempo I’ve seen in my 34-year career.”

Bosnian War’s Serbian leader will spend the remainder of his life in prison for genocide and war crimes

In one of the last remaining cases from the break-up of Yugoslavia, judges in The Hague upheld the 2016 convictions against former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide in the Srebrenica massacre and war crimes in the 1990s.

The 73-year-old Mr. Karadzic is already serving his 40-year prison sentence, which the judges upped to life imprisonment due to the "sheer scale and systematic cruelty" of his crimes, saying the original jail term did not reflect his role in the worst bloodshed in Europe since the Second World War.

Head judge Vagn Joensen said the judges at the original trial "underestimated the extreme gravity of Mr. Karadzic's responsibility for the gravest of crimes committed during the period of conflict, noted for their sheer scale and systematic cruelty" as he and the panel of appeals judges imposed the further sentence.

Appeals judges repeatedly dismissed Mr. Karadzic's claims that he was not aware of orders by Bosnian Serb forces to eliminate Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, and to indiscriminately target civilians in Sarajevo. They rejected his claims that he did not know a military directive he drafted and signed on the fate of Srebrenica called for Bosnian Serb forces to create an "unbearable situation with no hope of further survival" for inhabitants.

Mr. Karadzic was arrested in 2008 in Belgrade after nearly 13 years on the run during which he posed as a new age healer called Dragan Dabic. In 2016, Mr. Karadzic was found guilty on 10 counts including orchestrating a nearly four-year siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, where more than 10,000 people died in a campaign of sniping and shelling. He was also found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops slaughtered more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in eastern Bosnia, which was supposed to be under UN protection, and buried their bodies in mass graves. Prosecutors said Mr. Karadzic and others including his military alter-ego, former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic, wanted to "permanently remove Muslims and Croats" from territory claimed by Bosnian Serbs at the time.

Mr. Karadzic's case still bitterly divides the country he helped drive to war, with widows of Srebrenica hoping he dies in prison even as Bosnian Serbs have honoured him with a university dorm in his name.

American and Canadian airline companies end Boeing 737 Max 8 flights following Ethiopia crash

Last Sunday saw the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that killed 157 passengers from 35 countries, the second fatal flight for a Boeing 737 Max 8 in less than six months. More than 40 countries, including the United States and Canada, have now grounded the planes or refused them into their airspace.

After holding out for several days, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order grounding the planes Wednesday, saying they had new satellite data and evidence that showed the movements of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 were similar to those of Lion Air Flight 610, the flight that crashed into the Java Sea off Indonesia in October 2018 and killed 189 people.

Officials at Lion Air said the sensors on their plane had produced erroneous information on its last four flights, triggering a terrifying automatic nose-down command that the pilots were unable to overcome on its final voyage. Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said its pilots had received special training on how to deal with that problem, and Boeing sent further instructions for pilots after the Lion Air crash.

The 737 Max was supposed to boost Boeing's fortunes for years to come. In addition to the planes that have been grounded, there are more than 4,600 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes on backlog. There are about 370 Max jets in circulation. Impacted airlines also may come knocking on Boeing's door claiming damages. Norwegian Airlines said it would pursue reimbursement from Boeing for lost business and if other carriers follow suit, which could be costly.

Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau relayed his government’s decision to American counterparts before the announcement that the country would deny all Boeing 737 Max 8 flights in Canadian airspace. Hours later, American President Donald Trump announced that the United States would follow suit. President Trump said he had told American Airlines about the decision, as well as Boeing, and all agreed with his administration's decision. Any planes in the air will be grounded upon landing and remain on the ground until further notice while Boeing works on a fix to the aircraft's software.

Air Canada, Southwest, and American Airlines had been the major outliers in resisting a grounding of the planes. Air Canada has 24 Max 8 aircraft (out of 184 in its main fleet), which it uses mainly for domestic and U.S. routes. The U.S.-based Boeing had said it had no reason to pull the popular aircraft from the skies and did not intend to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers.

College admissions scam alleges bribes via charity for elites’ and celebrities’ children

The purpose of post-secondary institutions is to educate and enlighten the next generation of society, but they have increasingly become for-profit factories, churning out degrees and graduates for exorbitant tuition fees that leave students with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in student debt. Meanwhile, progressive activists within administrations, faculties, and students defame and censor voices – often through violence – that ought to be welcome in the open-inquiry environments universities are intended to be. Now, American universities are caught red-handed in fraud scandals that privilege entry to its halls for children of the wealthy and influential over those deserving of placement by merit.

The United States Department of Justice has exposed long-running racketeering scheme dating back to 2011 with federal charges of cheating, fraud, and bribery against fifty people, including celebrities, coaches, and wealthy parents. On Tuesday, the charges were brought in connection with a sweeping college admissions scandal, according to documents unsealed in federal court in Boston. Officials have been investigating the case for more than a year and it is the largest college admission scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.

Among those charged are "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman, along with at least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents. Court documents filed in the case offer details, including allegations that photos of prospective students were altered to make them look like athletes and how many parents altered test scores without their children’s knowledge.

The scam, run by William Rick Singer of California, involved parents paying an admissions consultant a combined USD $25 million to help students cheat on college entrance exams and to guarantee them admission into elite colleges and universities as recruited athletes when in reality they were not athletes. Students were placed into top colleges, including Georgetown University, Stanford University, University of California Los Angeles, the University of San Diego, University of Southern California, University of Texas, Wake Forest, and Yale, through bribes. Mr. Singer, who authorities said has pled guilty to racketeering charges, ran a charity called Key Worldwide Foundation, where the charitable foundation was allegedly used as a front to run the scam.

Esteemed Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz responded to the scandal calling it one of the "great scandals of the 21st Century" and predicted it is "just the tip of the iceberg." He added, "This is the worst scandal involving elite universities in the history of the United States. No one can diminish the importance of this." Mr. Dershowitz said this type of alleged influence has been exercised at universities for years by the "super, super rich" in the form of "buying buildings" which bear their name. He said this case appears to involve the "very rich" attempting to buy admission for their children into some of the country's most prominent institutions.  Mr. Dershowitz also said that in today's college environment many students "sail through" because so few fail out, explaining that "In many universities, they've abolished grades, so there's no way of testing whether they are qualified or competent.”

Special Agent in charge of the FBI's Boston field office, Joseph R. Bonavolonta, said, "This is a case in which they flaunted their wealth and set their children up with the best education money could buy – literally. Their actions were, without a doubt, insidious, selfish and shameful. Today's arrests should be a warning to others: You can't pay to play, you can't lie and cheat to get ahead because you will get caught. The investigation continues, and we will continue to find and stop those who aren't playing by the rules.” Mr. Bonavolonta emphasized that the investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be filed and that the investigators did not charge any students, though that option is still being considered.

Now, two college students have filed a lawsuit against the University of Southern California, Yale University, and other colleges where prosecutors say parents paid bribes to ensure their children's admission. The lawsuit was filed by Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods on Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco and alleges the two, who are both currently students at Stanford, were denied a fair opportunity for admission. The plaintiffs claim that "Each of the universities took the students' admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty.

Google’s wage gap study finds the company is actually underpaying men

Despite internal allegations and the general persistence of the now disproven wage gap between women and men, Google conducted a new study aimed at addressing this alleged gap among its employees. The result discovered that in most cases, men were being compensated less than their female peers.

In 2017, Google was sued by three former female employees who claimed the company systematically discriminated against women by paying them less than men. A New York Times analysis found at the time that the company paid women less than men on average, but Google countered that the analysis was flawed because it did not take into account factors like tenure, location, or job performance.

In addition to the lawsuit alleging Google discriminates against women, the company is facing accusations it discriminates against men. Former engineer James Damore filed a suit in January 2018 alleging Google discriminates against white men and conservatives after he was fired for a memo questioning the company's diversity effort. A recruiter at YouTube, a Google subsidiary, sued two months later, claiming the company discriminates against white and Asian men.

With the results of its study, Google is vindicated. The latest version of its annual pay analysis that shows more men than women were receiving less money for doing similar work. A disproportionate amount of USD $9.7 million in additional compensation allotted to employees to address pay disparity will end up going to men.

Google's lead analyst for pay equity Lauren Barbato told the mainstream news outlet that it was a "surprising trend that we didn’t expect." Ironically, the anti-male pay gap was likely the result of intentional efforts by Google to target female employees for increased discretionary funds the year prior.

Ms. Barbato noted that one of the largest group of employees to have their pay adjusted this year were coded Level 4 Software Engineers. "Within this job code, men were flagged for adjustments because they received less discretionary funds than women," she wrote in a corporate blog post.

Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou sues Canada over arrest in her United States extradition case

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers have filed a notice of civil claim with British Columbia’s Supreme Court against members of the Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP, and the federal government. It alleges "serious violations" of Ms. Meng constitutional rights, accusing officers of detaining and questioning her for three hours before notifying her of her arrest. The lawsuit also seeks damages for false imprisonment based on multiple alleged failures of government officials to comply with the rule of law upon her detention, search, and interrogation at the Vancouver airport on December 1.

The claim says, "This case concerns a deliberate and pre-meditated effort on the part of the defendant officers to obtain evidence and information from the plaintiff in a manner which they knew constituted serious violations of the plaintiff's rights." It alleges that RCMP officers and/or representatives from the United States Department of Justice arranged for Canadian border officials to delay the immediate execution of the arrest warrant "under the guise of a routine border check." The court document says that when Ms. Meng exited her plane at Vancouver airport, border officials checked each passenger's passport on the jetway and after identifying Ms. Meng, brought her to an inspection area.

The claim says border officers prohibited Ms. Meng from speaking with her travel companion or anyone else, including a lawyer, and the officers "did not promptly inform the plaintiff of the reason for her detention, afford her an opportunity to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay, or inform her of her right to do so under the charter.” Instead, they directed Ms. Meng to surrender all of her electronic devices and computers, as well as her passwords. The claim alleges officers opened and viewed contents on her devices and also searched her luggage.

Canada is proceeding with an extradition hearing for Ms. Meng following her December arrest at the request of the U.S., where she is wanted on fraud charges for allegedly misleading banks about the company's dealings with Iran. Last Friday, the Canadian Department of Justice gave the go-ahead for an extradition case against Ms. Meng, marking the formal start of the high-profile process that has put Canada in an uncomfortable position between the United States and China. The U.S. Department of Justice has laid out 13 criminal counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction against Huawei and Ms. Meng, who is the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei. The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said it is "utterly dissatisfied" with Friday's decision, calling the case "a political persecution against a Chinese high-tech enterprise." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly maintained Canada is simply following the rule of law.

In the latest move against Canada, the Government of China has put a stop to canola shipments from Winnipeg-based company Richardson International. According to Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership, Canada shipped CAD $2.6 billion in canola product to China last year, and CAD $1.82 billion came from Saskatchewan. Minister of Agriculture David Merit said, “China is our number one customer of canola seed and we’re concerned about it.

China's foreign ministry claimed the reason it is blocking some imports of Canadian canola is due to fears of insect infestation. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China suspended canola imports from a Canadian company "in accordance with laws and regulations and international practice." The provincial government says it has offered to help the federal agriculture minister work to resolve the issue with China.

Greenpeace Founder says Global Warming is a Hoax and Fossil Fuels Saved Life on Earth

Greenpeace co-founder and former President of Greenpeace Canada Patrick Moore was interviewed on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight this week, where he described the cynical and corrupt machinations fueling the narrative of anthropocentric global warming and “climate change.” He said, “It’s taking over science with superstition and a kind of toxic combination of religion and political ideology. There is no truth to this. It is a complete hoax and scam”, added that the burning of fossil fuels saved life on Earth “from an early demise” by returning carbon dioxide to the atmosphere previously trapped in sediments.

Mr. Moore explained to hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak how Greenpeace leverages fear and guilt by its proponents of climate change, saying, “Fear has been used all through history to gain control of people’s minds and wallets and all else, and the climate catastrophe is strictly a fear campaign — well, fear and guilt — you’re afraid you’re killing your children because you’re driving them in your SUV and emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and you feel guilty for doing that. There’s no stronger motivation than those two.

Scientists are co-opted and corrupted by politicians and bureaucracies invested in advancing the narrative of “climate change” in order to further centralize political power and control, explained Mr. Moore, who noted how ‘green’ companies parasitize taxpayers through favorable regulations and subsidies, justified by the claimed threats and enjoying propagandistic protection across news media: 

And so you’ve got the green movement creating stories that instill fear in the public. You’ve got the media echo chamber — fake news — repeating it over and over and over again to everybody that they’re killing their children. And then you’ve got the green politicians who are buying scientists with government money to produce fear for them in the form of scientific-looking materials. And then you’ve got the green businesses, the rent-seekers, and the crony capitalists who are taking advantage of massive subsidies, huge tax write-offs, and government mandates requiring their technologies to make a fortune on this. And then, of course, you’ve got the scientists who are willingly, they’re basically hooked on government grants.

When they talk about the 99 percent consensus [among scientists] on climate change, that’s a completely ridiculous and false number. But most of the scientists — put it in quotes, scientists — who are pushing this catastrophic theory are getting paid by public money, they are not being paid by General Electric or Dupont or 3M to do this research, where private companies expect to get something useful from their research that might produce a better product and make them a profit in the end because people want it — build a better mousetrap type of idea. But most of what these so-called scientists are doing is simply producing more fear so that politicians can use it to control people’s minds and get their votes because some of the people are convinced, ‘Oh, this politician can save my kid from certain doom.

The narrative of anthropogenic global warming or “climate change” is an existential threat to reason, warned Moore:

 

It is the biggest lie since people thought the Earth was at the center of the universe. This is Galileo-type stuff. If you remember, Galileo discovered that the sun was at the center of the solar system and the Earth revolved around it. He was sentenced to death by the Catholic Church, and only because he recanted was he allowed to live in house arrest for the rest of his life. 

So this was around the beginning of what we call the Enlightenment, when science became the way in which we gained knowledge instead of using superstition and instead of using invisible demons and whatever else, we started to understand that you have to have observation of actual events and then you have to repeat those observations over and over again, and that is basically the scientific method.

“But this abomination that is occurring today in the climate issue is the biggest threat to the Enlightenment that has occurred since Galileo,” declared Moore. “Nothing else comes close to it. This is as bad a thing that has happened o science in the history of science.

Mr. Moore also described how the Earth’s atmosphere had experienced a long-term depletion of carbon dioxide: 

Over the millennia, they just ignore deep history, these people, they talk about the last 100 years as if that’s when the world started, but the deep history going back millions of years and even hundreds of millions of years shows us that carbon dioxide has gradually diminished in the atmosphere and in the oceans because it’s been lost to the sediments on land and in the seas.

During the last glaciation, which was only 20,000 years ago, CO2 sank to a level which was close to a level of causing death to plants, so low. Inadvertently, by starting to use fossil fuels, we have actually saved life from an early demise, because CO2 is the food for all of life.

 Mr. Moore also noted the distinction between carbon — an element — and carbon dioxide — a gas. He lamented the conflation of the two by misinformed persons. He analysed how characterizations of carbon dioxide as a pollutant, including legal designation as such by the Obama administration, is “the biggest abomination that’s been made against science in a long time”: 

It’s not pollution. That’s why the finding on CO2 by the EPA under Obama is such an important thing to reverse because when they found that CO2, when they ruled that CO2 was pollution, they made the biggest abomination that’s been made against science in a long time, because CO2 is, in fact, the food for life.

It is what life is based on. Life is carbon-based. The carbon in all life came from CO2 in the atmosphere and the oceans. Nowhere else did it come from. That’s a fact. Nobody disputes that, yet they claim that because we’re putting more CO2 into the atmosphere — where it actually came from in the first place — the carbon in fossil fuels was made from life, made from plants and plankton in the land and sea, that carbon in the fossil fuels used to be in the air and in the ocean, and it got sucked up and lost to the sediments and was therefore no longer in the air.

We’re just putting it back where it was in the first place, when life flourished during the greenhouse eras that went back for hundreds of millions of years when the Earth was far warmer than it is today.

‘Caravan of Hope’ will illegally migrate 10,000 Syrians into Germany in March

Arab news channel Hadiabdullah.net is reporting that thousands of Syrians currently living in Turkey will move across the Turkish-Greek border headed for Germany in the middle of March, organized and funded by a group called "Caravan of Hope". The "Caravan of Hope" is coordinating its plans using the messenger app Telegram, on which Islamist terrorist organizations plan attacks, in addition to Messenger, a messaging app owned by Facebook.

Many Syrians are dissatisfied with the living conditions in Turkey and have been promised better in Germany. They now trust that international relief organizations and NGOs will ensure a smooth organization until the "caravan" has reached its destination. The migrants will leave Turkey in mid-March to travel altogether from Greece to Germany with the Caravan of Hope. Habiadullah writes that the migrants "seek a secure and stable life after the collapse of their country." It seems to be mainly Syrians who want to make the illegal crossing across the Turkish-Greek border. A caravan coordinator appealed to all organizations and humanitarian organizations operating in Turkey and abroad to help the refugees in Turkey reach the Greek mainland.

According to the "convoy coordinators", the number of registered migrants rises hourly and had 10,000 registrations by February 28. The NGOs have already pledged their help and say they are urgently needed for everyone to reach Europe safely. Whether this should be done by water, land, or air, the organizers deliberately leave open. Five days prior to the caravan setting out, the migrants and coordinators will all know the time and place of departure. From conversations in the Telegram chat, they insist this information should be kept secret from the public. Since anyone can register with the Telegram group, former groups have succeeded using fake accounts under Arabic names.

In 2016, the European Union signed a controversial deal with Turkey, brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara. The agreement aims to close the main route by which a million migrants and refugees poured across the Aegean Sea to Greece from 2015 to 2016 before marching north to Germany and Sweden. Under the pact, Ankara would take back all migrants and refugees, including Syrians, who cross to Greece illegally across the sea. In return, the EU would take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with more money, early visa-free travel and faster progress in EU membership talks.

As public hostility grows towards Syrian refugees in Turkey, the authorities there have been accused of forcing Syrians back across the border. By United Nations estimates, Turkey is currently sheltering 3.6 million Syrians at a cost to the government of about €25 billion.

Ankara has avoided a strategy for integration of the Syrians for two main reasons: to encourage Syrians to return home as soon as possible, and it fears there would be a public backlash if it appeared to accept that the Syrians were staying permanently. There are many indications hostility towards the newcomers has been growing steadily for some time. Especially in cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – violence against refugees is increasingly common. Perceptions that Syrians represent competition for public services and employment continue to cause resentment. In one survey by the Center for American Progress, eighty percent of people thought Ankara was spending too much money on refugees.

Domestic pressure has forced President Erdogan to do a complete policy flip and now "Erdogan would like best to be rid of the refugees as fast as possible," according to Germany’s Der Spiegel's Istanbul correspondent, Maximilian Popp. The Turkish regime has simply closed a number of refugee camps ostensibly to save money, Maximilian Popp claims, while many Syrians are also being encouraged to return home voluntarily or coerced into signing statements saying they are returning of their own free will.

Whether deportations are real or only rumored, it is people smugglers who would benefit. The more Syrians are desperate to avoid being forcibly returned, the greater the demand for smugglers to help them get to Europe instead. This creates even more of a problem for Ankara, since under its agreement with the EU, Turkey is supposed to make sure no migrants enter the EU irregularly across its borders. For this, Europe gives billions in aid so that Turkey can support its refugees. The other problem for Turkey, if it is deporting Syrians, is that it would be breaking the law against refoulement by sending refugees back to war zones.

 

Actor Jussie Smollett charged with filing a false police report alleging a racist and homophobic attack

Chicago authorities have charged Empire actor Jussie Smollett with filing a false police report after alleging he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Police had previously said the 36-year-old actor was being considered as a suspect in the case and have now confirmed charges have been brought by Cook County State's Attorney's Office for disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said detectives are now looking to arrest Mr. Smollett.

Mr. Smollett had alleged he had been attacked by two masked men in downtown Chicago on January 29, telling police his attackers had shouted racist and homophobic abuse and tied a noose around his neck. Mr. Smollett, who is black and came out as gay in 2015, made a tearful appearance on Good Morning America this month and said he had been "forever changed" by the alleged attack, saying, "I will never be the man who this didn't happen to.” Continuing, he added, "I am forever changed and I don't subscribe to the idea that everything happens for a reason, but I do subscribe to the idea that we have the right and responsibility to make something meaningful out of the things that happen to us, good and bad." Asked what message he wanted to send by speaking about the attack, he replied, "I want young people, young members of the LGTBQ community, young black children, to know how strong they are, to know the power they hold in their little pinky."

Mr. Smollett has starred in the television drama Empire since 2015 as the character Jamal, the gay son of a music mogul, played by Terrence Howard. Executive producers at Fox said Mr. Smollett’s character Jamal will not appear in the final two episodes. In a statement, Fox said, "The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us. Jussie has been an important member of our Empire family for the past five years and we care about him deeply. While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show, and to avoid further disruption on set we have decided to remove the role of Jamal from the final two episodes of the season."

The charges against Mr. Smollett emerged on the same day that detectives and two brothers who were earlier deemed suspects testified before a grand jury. The announcement that charges had been made followed weeks of speculation around the investigation and lengthy interviews of the brothers by authorities, a search of their home and their release after police cleared them. Investigators have not said what the brothers told detectives or what evidence detectives collected. On Friday, police announced a "significant shift in the trajectory" of the probe after the brothers were freed. If found guilty of the Class 4 felony, Mr. Smollett faces a prison sentence of between one to three years or receive probation.

Amazon walks away from plans to build New York City headquarters due to the political climate

On Thursday, Seattle-based technology company Amazon announced it has ditched plans to build its second headquarters in New York City, saying it is "disappointed to have reached this conclusion." Senior economic analyst for Bankrate, Mark Hamrick, warned, ‘For those who didn’t want Amazon to bring the promised 25,000 new jobs and added economic vitality to the area: Be careful what you wish for.”

In a statement released by the company, Amazon said, "After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens. For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term. While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City."

According to a December Quinnipiac University poll, 57 percent of New York City residents support Amazon’s arrival, compared to just 26 percent who oppose the deal. Announcing its intended investment last November, Amazon’s HQ2 would've brought 25,000 jobs and USD $2.5 billion in corporate investment, with an eventual 8 million square feet of office space to Long Island City. Amazon said it would have generated "incremental tax revenue of more than $10 billion over the next 20 years as a result of Amazon’s investment and job creation."

However, the decision came after relentless opposition from politicians, most notably newly elected Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is currently the most high-profile progressive and anti-corporate politician in Congress. Political opposition against HQ2 has been mounting since a New York City Council meeting in December where Amazon’s executives were hounded and jeered and refused to support unionization of its workers, a progressive pillar of the region at all levels of government. Earlier this month, reports surfaced that Amazon was reconsidering its plans for its New York office, which led to cheers from Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted, "Can everyday people come together and effectively organize against creeping overreach of one of the world’s biggest corporations? Yes, they can."

When the deal was first announced, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had touted the benefits of HQ2, which included a pledge from Amazon to create 25,000 jobs, paying an average of USD $150,000 per year in exchange for a USD $3 billion incentive package that included city and state tax breaks and subsidies. The top issue for progressives is disallowing big corporations to benefit from what they consider to be at the expense of regular people. Yet, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who presents himself as the leader of the progressive movement, signed onto the deal, though he later backed off when faced with massive progressive opposition. Concerns were also raised over how HQ2 could impact already rising real estate prices in the area. On this issue, Amazon had primarily negotiated with Governor Cuomo, who only has authority over the executive branch of state government and none over the state legislature, the City Council, or the congressional delegation.

"We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and their staffs, who so enthusiastically and graciously invited us to build in New York City and supported us during the process," the company continued in the statement. In response, Mayor de Blasio said, “You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity. We have the best talent in the world and every day we are growing a stronger and fairer economy for everyone. If Amazon can’t recognize what that’s worth, its competitors will.”

Amazon said it would proceed as planned with the second part of its HQ2, which will be built in Northern Virginia, as well as its distribution center that it said it would open in Nashville. It will also continue to "hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada."

Israeli scientists believe they have found a cure for cancer

According to reports by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an estimated 18.1 million new cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide each year and every sixth death in the world is due to cancer, making it the second leading cause of death, second only to cardiovascular disease. A small Israeli team of scientists behind Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), which was founded in 2000 in the ITEK incubator, has developed a new cancer treatment.

We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer. Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market. Our solution will be both generic and personal,” said Dan Aridor, Chairman of the board of AEBi in an interview with The Times of Israel. Mr. Aridor and CEO Dr. Ilan Morad say their treatment, which they call MuTaTo (multi-target toxin) is essentially on the scale of a cancer antibiotic, a disruption technology of the highest order. AEBi is on the cusp of beginning a round of clinical trials that could be completed within a few years and would make the treatment available in specific cases. “Our results are consistent and repeatable,” Mr. Aridor added.

The potentially game-changing anti-cancer drug is based on SoAP technology, which provides functional leads to very difficult targets. It involves the introduction of DNA coding for a protein, such as an antibody, into a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria. That protein is then displayed on the surface of the phage. Researchers can use these protein-displaying phages to screen for interactions with other proteins, DNA sequences and small molecules. In 2018, a team of scientists won the Nobel Prize for their work on phage display in the directed evolution of new proteins, particularly for the production of antibody therapeutics.

 

How the Technology is Different

AEBi is doing something similar but with peptides, compounds of two or more amino acids linked in a chain. According to Dr. Morad, peptides have several advantages over antibodies, including that they are smaller, cheaper, and easier to produce and regulate. To get started, Dr. Morad said the team had to identify why other cancer-killing drugs and treatments don’t work or eventually fail. Then, they found a way to counter that effect. He explains that most anti-cancer drugs attack a specific target on or in the cancer cell and inhibiting the target usually affects a physiological pathway that promotes cancer. Mutations in the targets or downstream in their physiological pathways could make the targets not relevant to the cancer nature of the cell, and hence the drug attacking it is rendered ineffective.

In contrast, MuTaTo combines several cancer-targeting peptides for each cancer cell at the same time, along with a strong peptide toxin that would kill cancer cells specifically. Dr. Morad said by using at least three targeting peptides on the same structure with a strong toxin “we made sure that the treatment will not be affected by mutations; cancer cells can mutate in such a way that targeted receptors are dropped by the cancer. The probability of having multiple mutations that would modify all targeted receptors simultaneously decreases dramatically with the number of targets used. Instead of attacking receptors one at a time, we attack receptors three at a time – not even cancer can mutate three receptors at the same time.”

Furthermore, many cancer cells activate detoxification mechanisms when in stress from drugs. The cells pump out the drugs or modify them to be non-functional. However, detoxification takes time: when the toxin is strong, it has a high probability of killing the cancer cell before detoxification occurs, which is what he is banking on. Many cytotoxic anticancer treatments aim at fast-growing cells, but cancer stem cells are not fast growing, and they can escape these treatments. Then, when the treatment is over, they can generate cancer again.

Dr. Morda explained that because cancer cells are born out of mutations that occur in cancer stem cells, most of the overexpressed proteins which are targeted on the cancer cell exist in the cancer stem cells. “If it does not completely annihilate the cancer, the remaining cells can start to get mutations again, and then the cancer comes back, but this time it is drug resistant,” he said, but MuTaTo’s multiple-target attack ensures that they will be destroyed as well.

Finally, some cancer tumors erect shields which create access problems to large molecules, such as antibodies. MuTaTo acts like an octopus or a piece of spaghetti and can sneak into places where other large molecules cannot reach. Morad said the peptide parts of MuTaTo are very small (12 amino acids long) and lack a rigid structure. “This should make the whole molecule non-immunogenic in most cases and would enable repeated administration of the drug,” he said.

 

Improvements in Treatment

Dr. Morad said their discovery could also reduce the sickening side-effects of most cancer treatments, which stem from drug treatments interacting with the wrong or additional targets, or the correct targets but on non-cancerous cells. He said MuTaTo’s having a combination of several highly specific cancer-targeting peptides on one scaffold for each type of cancer cell would increase the specificity to the cancer cell due to the avidity effect. In addition, in most cases, the non-cancer cells that have a protein in common with the cancer cells do not overexpress it. “This makes a great difference between the two kinds of cells and should decrease the side effects dramatically,” Morad said.

He equated the concept of MuTaTo to the triple drug cocktail that has helped change AIDS from being an automatic death sentence to a chronic – but often manageable – disease. Today, AIDS patients take protease inhibitors in combination with two other drugs called reverse transcriptase inhibitors. The drug combination disrupts HIV at different stages in its replication, restrains an enzyme crucial to an early stage of HIV duplication and holds back another enzyme that functions near the end of the HIV replication process.

We used to give AIDS patients several drugs, but we would administer them one at a time,” Morad explained. “During the course of treatment, the virus mutated, and the AIDS started attacking again. Only when patients started using a cocktail, were they able to stop the disease.” Now, he said, people with AIDS are HIV carriers, but they are not sick anymore.

The MuTaTo cancer treatment will eventually be personalized. Each patient will provide a piece of his biopsy to the lab, which would then analyze it to know which receptors are overexpressed. The individual would then be administered exactly the molecule cocktail needed to cure his disease. However, unlike in the case of AIDS, where patients must take the cocktail throughout their lives, in the case of MuTaTo, the cells would be killed, and the patient could likely stop treatment after only a few weeks.

The company is now writing patents on specific peptides, which will be a large bank of targeting toxin peptides wholly owned and hard to break, said Mr. Aridor. Dr. Morad said that so far, the company has concluded its first exploratory mice experiment, which inhibited human cancer cell growth and had no effect at all on healthy mice cells, in addition to several in-vitro trials.

Potential Controversy

Karin Mayer Rubinstein, CEO of the Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI) has criticized their comments as irresponsible and damaging, warning, “We welcome all companies that develop breakthrough technologies [but] The things the researchers have said have damaged the image of Israel’s life sciences industry.” IATI is the umbrella organization that represents Israeli high-tech and life science companies, VCs, multinational companies operating in Israel, incubators and tech transfer arms of Israeli academia. “It is a very irresponsible statement, and we have had many people from around the world asking to clarify the subject. As we understand, there are critical stages of their research that must still be met. These kind of statements are liable to damage Israel’s life science industry, which is positioned globally as one of the most serious and professional in the world,” she said.

Dr. Morad told The Times of Israel that the reaction of the critics who have not seen the company’s results is “like criticizing a book without reading it.” He reiterated that the firm can start treating patients within clinical trials that it hopes to start “pretty quickly,” and “We are not saying that the drug will be approved in a year. Our technology is innovative and we have submitted an application for a patent on it. This application is at an advanced stage, and until now the patent lawyers have deemed our technology innovative.

Dr. Morad said his company firm has not published its research in medical journals, as is the norm, because it “can’t afford” to do so, but that the results of its pre-clinical trials have been “very good.” He said, “We are a small company. Publishing an article takes a lot of effort and a lot of funds, and this we can’t afford. If we were a big company with a lot of funds, that would be the first thing we would do. If I have $100,000 what do I spend it on? Advancing the research and finding more and more targeting peptides, or doing many experiments to write an article? What would you do, if you had to choose?

Divisions and policy confusion in Brazil’s new government

In his government’s first week, Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro faced divisions between his political and economic teams over plans to overhaul a messy tax code and costly pension system to bring a high budget deficit under control.

President Bolsonaro’s comments in interviews and Twitter posts have been at odds with senior aides, which has supposedly concerned investors who expected the government to arrive focused on a swift pension reform to shore up its finances before tackling an array of hot-button social issues and foreign policy proposals. President Bolsonaro told reporters he was increasing the tax on financial operations and cutting the highest income tax rate, prompting a quick denial from an undersecretary to Economy Minister Paulo Guedes, with Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni later, saying the President was mistaken.

Investors had been pleased at the team of orthodox economists assembled by Minister Guedes, many of whom are fellow alumni of the University of Chicago’s free-market school of economics. Investors fear the government will turn first to the social issues dear to President Bolsonaro’s conservative electoral base, burning political capital needed for the unpopular pension reform.

Brazil's stock market has been one of the best performing in the world over the past six months, with the benchmark Bovespa stock index .BVSP climbing 25 percent as President Bolsonaro won election in October and appointed his market-friendly cabinet. Wednesday saw a record high for the Bovespa. “Optimism about the new Brazilian government is adding to the global scenario,” the President said on Twitter.

President Bolsonaro had proposed in an interview with the SBT television network that the new minimum retirement age would be 62 for men and 57 for women, higher than now but lower than ages proposed by the previous government. Investors read that as a sign that he could water down the bill written by the prior government to limit the political costs, easing passage through Congress but requiring further legislation down the road. Minister Guedes has said he favors a tougher proposal that may be politically difficult but would make a larger and more lasting impact on public debt, which has soared to 77 percent of gross domestic product.

The political and economic teams are at odds. There is a lack of cohesion and even coordination between President Bolsonaro’s closest aides,” said Leonardo Barreto, head of Brasilia-based political consultancy Factual. He also said Minister Guedes is taking an all-or-nothing approach to fiscal reforms, while Chief of Staff Lorenzoni has signaled he would make concessions to lawmakers to shore up political support. The contradictions highlight broader tensions in Bolsonaro’s government, which brings together statist former military officers, right-wing nationalists, the Chicago-trained economists, and Christian evangelicals, all of whom have different priorities within the coalition.