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Tue, 18 Feb 2020
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Virginia House of Delegates passes gun ban, confiscation bill

Gun bill
© GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images
The Virginia House of Delegates passed a package of gun control proposals Tuesday on a near party line vote.

The proposal passed the House 51-48, with all Republicans, and several Democrats voting against the bill. The legislation includes a ban on the sale of several firearms defined as "assault weapons," including the popular AR-15.

Virginia residents who currently own these types of firearms will not be forced to participate in a mandatory buyback program as had initially been considered by state Democrats, but they will have to register the guns with the government. Additionally, the bill gives the state government the authority to confiscate suppressors and certain types of ammunition that are considered "high capacity."

Comment: See also:


Google set to fund Young Turks online course for creating 'local news' content. What could go wrong?

Cenk Uygur
© Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images
Cenk Uygur, of The Young Turks
The Young Turks (TYT), one of the largest progressive digital publishers on YouTube, is receiving funding from Google-owned YouTube to launch an online course called TYT Academy that focuses on the creation of digital-first local news. Sources say the investment is in the mid-six figures range.

Why it matters: The investment is part of YouTube's $25 million commitment to news efforts, which is part of the $300 million Google News Initiative that was announced in 2018.
  • As one of YouTube's most successful publishers with 4.6 million for its main account and millions of followers across its affiliated channels, TYT is a logical fit for this type of investment.

Comment: Given TYT's clear leftist bias, in a sane world, they would hardly be a logical choice for creating the syllabus for an online journalism school. But since Google's got an agenda to push, TYT and Cenk Uygur in particular, are indeed a perfect fit.


Russia & Ukraine announce new negotiators: Relations slowly warming up?

Dmitry Kozak
© Sputnik / Evgenii Biyatov
Dmitry Kozak, Russia's new Deputy Chief of Staff
For two decades he has been a big beast on the Moscow political stage, but the Kremlin has finally confirmed that Vladislav Surkov is no longer Russia's point man in Ukraine.

The news came over two weeks after it was first speculated in Russian media. He will be replaced by President Vladimir Putin's new Deputy Chief of Staff, Dmitry Kozak. Meanwhile, Kiev made a change of its own today, with Andriy Yermak coming in for Andrei Bogdan as President Volodymyr Zelensky's own Chief of Staff.

Some, including Echo of Moscow editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov, believe the two moves are related, and a signal both governments want to make progress on ending the almost six-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Comment: Will fresh faces mean a new start for the endless 'peace talks' in Ukraine? Each has made a gesture to the other in making matching replacements in the negotiations, which would seem to undercut Timoshenko's charge of Zelensky bowing to the Kremlin. That the two new negotiators have had successful interactions previously bodes well.

Take 2

The age of celebrity is dead

brad pitt
© Getty Images
Come friendly bombs and fall on Hollywood, it isn't fit for doing good. Another year, another dreadful Oscars, another round of moral lectures from the beautiful people. It's all so tiresome. The only reason most people pay attention to these irritating award ceremonies is precisely so that they can be irritated.

So there was a vegan theme at this year's Academy Awards. So the show had no host. So Brad Pitt is angry about impeachment. So someone said 'workers of the world unite'. So Joaquin Phoenix is mad (in all senses) about what mankind is doing to the animal kingdom. So Natalie Portman, in what she called 'my subtle way', had the names of the women directors who weren't nominated for awards sewn into her dress.


Man throws away winning $100,000 lottery ticket, realizes mistake just in time

Lottery ticket
A South Carolina man is counting his lucky stars after almost making a very expensive mistake when he threw away his winning $100,000 lottery ticket before realizing he had actually won.

The incident happened when the unnamed man purchased a Palmetto Cash 5 ticket from a BP gas station in Newberry, South Carolina, and, when checking the numbers of the lottery results, saw that he had lost and threw his ticket in the trash.

The only problem is that he had actually won $100,000.

"I checked the results for the day before," the man told the South Carolina Education Lottery according to a statement.


Major win for Saudi women as courts scrap 'secret divorce' and will enforce split even if husbands don't show up

saudi women
© REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
Saudi Arabia will now terminate marriages even if either spouse fails to show in court, ending a long tradition which favored men in terms of alimony, child custody and visitation while also ending so-called 'secret divorce.'

Prior to this upcoming amendment to the law, husbands could refuse a divorce via a 'no-show' at the court hearing, regardless of whether they lived with their wife or not. The married woman was essentially bound to the marriage regardless of whether the husband had moved on and potentially even started another family.

"The judiciary will keep pace with the social changes taking place in the Kingdom and some of the existing laws will change," Saudi Minister of Justice Dr. Walid bin Muhammad al-Samani said, referencing the Kingdom's Vision 2030 programme, which includes an attempt to implement a number of social and economic reforms.

Comment: Now if they can just stop cutting off heads and hands they might just enter civilized society.


Russian oil & gas firms plan to invest $20 BILLION in Iraq's energy industry

oil fields
© Reuters / Alaa Al-Marjani
Russian oil and gas companies could triple their investments in Iraq in the near future, Yury Fyodorov, first deputy chairman of the Economic Policy Committee at the Russian Federation Council, has announced.

The companies may spend up to $20 billion on oil projects in Iraq, Fyodorov said at a meeting with Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Abdul-Rahman Al-Husseini, according to Russian media.

"Today, our leading oil and gas companies such as Lukoil, Bashneft, Gazprom Neft are actively working in your country. The total investment has exceeded $10 billion," the official said on Monday. He added that other companies, such as Zarubezhneft, Tatneft, and Rosneftegaz are also interested in working in Iraq.

Red Flag

'Perfect metaphor': Sign collapses as Iowa Democratic Chair explains caucus disaster

Iowa Caucus sign
A podium sign collapsed on Monday as Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price answered questions about last week's disastrous Iowa Caucus.

After being asked about "mathematical rounding errors" and the validity of the caucus results, Price's Iowa Democratic Party podium sign fell onto the ground.

Despite the hiccup, Price ignored the sign and continued with his answer.


Two US soldiers killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan, two more injured - Taliban claims it

Comment: This happened a month ago, but we missed it at the time because all attention was on the US troops injured (killed?) during the Iranian airstrikes on the Ain Asad Airbase in Iraq...

us troops killed afghanistan
© US Army
82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers Pfc. Miguel Villalon and Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin were killed, Jan. 11, 2020, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Two American service members were killed and two others were wounded Saturday morning by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in southern Afghanistan, according to the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan.

The two soldiers killed were identified on Sunday as Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin of Newport News, Virginia, and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon of Joliet, Illinois. The two paratroopers were assigned to Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, according to a news release.

"These paratroopers represent the very best of our Nation and our Army. Three time volunteers, they went when our Nation called and paid the ultimate sacrifice," Col. Art Sellers, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division said in the news release. "They will be honored, mourned, but never forgotten and we are committed to taking care of their families for life."

Comment: More American blood on Trump's hands.

The candidate Trump promised time and again in 2016 "to end the war in Afghanistan and bring all our boys home."

We are now in 2020, and there are more US troops in Afghanistan than in 2016.

Three more US troops were killed in Kenya during the same week last month.

Over a hundred US troops were injured by Iranian airstrikes during the same week last month.

A US soldier was killed during an 'accident' near Deir-ez-Zor in Syria at the end of the month.

An unknown number of CIA officers were killed when their spy plane was shot down over Afghanistan at the end of January.

And two more US troops were killed in action in Afghanistan this past weekend.


11 things you really need to stop recycling

Since most of us were kids we've heard the phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle repeated ad nauseam everywhere from on TV to ads plastered on the sides of buses, on recycling bins, on coloring pages, and a host of other places.

However, over the years it seems something was lost in translation. With less focus placed on reducing and reusing, our recycling bins are overflowing week after week. Sure, it might be better to have an overflowing recycling bin than it is to have an overflowing trash bin, but how much better is it really?

At the same time we're finally seeing an increase of recycling outside of the home at places like schools, gas stations, airports, etc. we're also seeing a dramatic cutting back of the acceptance of recyclables created in the United States. China recently started restricting the import of recyclable waste including mixed paper and most plastics. The news of this happening was the first time that many people in the United States became aware that a lot of our recycling isn't actually recycled here. For an act billed as a necessity to saving the environment, the fact that it uses an overwhelming amount of time and resources including fuel to ship it overseas is a little concerning.

But more than that, recycling is only a thing because recyclables are valuable. According to a press release, "The global waste management market size is expected to reach $484.9 billion by 2025." This means that when you toss something into your recycling bin and it is not able to turn a profit it won't be recycled. Unfortunately this isn't rare.