Bayer’s Monsanto faces 8,000 lawsuits on glyphosate (Source Reuters) The number of U.S. lawsuits brought against Bayer’s (newly acquired Monsanto has jumped to about 8,000, as the German drugmaker braces for years of legal wrangling over alleged cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers. Bayer had previously disclosed 5,200 such lawsuits against Monsanto, which it acquired in a $63 billion deal completed in June. “The number of plaintiffs in both state and federal litigation is approximately 8,000 as of end-July. These numbers may rise or fall over time but our view is that the number is not indicative of the merits of the plaintiffs’ cases,” Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann told analysts in a conference call on Thursday. Bayer shares have lost more than 10 percent since Monsanto was ordered on Aug. 10 to pay $289 million in damages in the first U.S. lawsuit over glyphosate-based weedkillers such as Roundup and Ranger Pro. The legal headache adds to a number of distractions for Bayer, such as falling consumer care product sales and a rebuke on production practices from the U.S. drugs watchdog, as it seeks to strengthen its drug development pipeline and has begun integrating Monsanto into its organisation.
Mexico Travel Warning Issued After Bodies Were Found in a Taxi, a Hammock and Bags (Source Time)
The U.S. has issued a travel advisory for Mexico after authorities found eight bodies in Cancún this week.
Travelers to Mexico are advised to “exercise increased caution,” according to the State Department advisory, which notes that “violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.”
While initial reports suggested the travel advisory was issued because of the apparent murders in Cancún, a State Department spokesperson said Thursday that the advisory was updated in relation to a security alert by the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. Quintana Roo, where Cancún is located, is under the Level 2 travel advisory that warns people in the area to travel with increased caution.
The Associated Press reports that the eight bodies were found in the Cancún area on Tuesday. Two of the victims were found in an abandoned taxi, while two others were found dismembered in plastic bags at another location, according to the AP. A fifth man was discovered bound and fatally shot on Tuesday, while another was found dead in a hammock. The seventh victim was shot to death and discovered in a plastic bag. Officials did not immediately reveal details about the eighth body. The spree of apparent murders comes amid an uptick in homicides in the state Quintana Roo. According to the State Department, Quintana Roo is seeing an increase in homicide rates when compared to the same time period in 2016.
Hurricane Lane brings 19 inches of rain to parts of Hawaii (Source CNN) More than 19 inches of rain fell on a northeastern section of Hawaii’s Big Island during a 24-hour period, as Hurricane Lane drew nearer to the Aloha State. The outer bands of the Category 4 cyclone pummeled the Big Island on Thursday, triggering landslides and causing flooding that forced officials to close some roads.
The center of the storm — which could become the first major cyclone to make landfall in the state in 26 years — is expected to move very close to the main islands or cross land through Friday, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said. It could be so devastating Gov. David Ige has urged residents to set aside two weeks’ worth of food and water.
“Hawaii is going to be impacted by Hurricane Lane. The question is, how bad?” Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long told reporters.
The storm’s center, with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph, was in the Pacific about 205 miles southwest of the Big Island town of Kailua-Kona around 8 a.m. Hawaii Time.
Landslides are a concern, with 10-30 inches of rain forecast through the weekend — and slides were already happening on the Big Island as the storm’s outer bands hit Thursday morning.
Germany Calls for Global Payment System Independent of the US (Source Zero Hedge)
Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US that would allow Brussels to be independent in its financial operations from Washington and as a means of rescuing the nuclear deal between Iran and the west. Maas said
“Europe should not allow the US to act over our heads and at our expense. For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels that are independent of the US, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent Swift system,” he wrote, cited by the Financial Times.
Maas said it was vital for Europe to stick with the Iran deal.
“Every day the agreement continues to exist is better than the highly explosive crisis that otherwise threatens the Middle East,” he said, Europe no longer wants to be a vassal state to US monopoly over global payments, and will now aggressively pursue its own “Swift” network that is not subservient to Washington’s every whim. Swift, a Belgium-based global payment network, enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions. The German foreign minister’s article highlights the depth of the dilemma facing European politicians as they struggle to keep the Iran deal alive while coping with the fallout of US sanctions imposed by Mr Trump against companies doing business with Tehran. Maas also called for the creation of a “balanced partnership” with the US in which the Europeans filled the gaps left where the US withdrew from the world. Europe must, he said, “form a counterweight when the US crosses red lines”.
Putin strikes blow against Russia’s isolation by Europe (Source euobserver.com) Russian leader Vladimir Putin has joined forces with Germany against the US over a new gas pipeline. His weekend trip, which included a visit to Austria, also struck a symbolic blow against EU diplomatic sanctions over his invasion of Ukraine. German chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin defended the Nord Stream 2 gas project at their meeting in Meseberg Castle, outside Berlin, on Saturday (18 August) in Putin’s first bilateral visit to Germany since the invasion in 2014. “In connection with Ukraine, we will also talk about gas transit. In my view, even if Nord Stream 2 exists, Ukraine has a role to play in gas transit to Europe,” Merkel said ahead of their three-and-a-half hour discussions.
The project will “perfect the European gas transport system and minimise transit risks. It will ensure supply for growing consumption in Europe”, Putin said.
“Nord Stream 2 is an exclusively economic project. It does not close any possibilities for transit of Russian gas through Ukraine,” he added.
Florida Schools Ordered By Law To Display ‘In God We Trust’ Signs (Source Huffington Post) Children heading back to school in Florida this month will have a new message waiting for them as required by law: “In God We Trust.” An education bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott (R) in March includes a mandate that all public schools in the Sunshine State must now display those four words in each building that’s used by the district school board.
Statue Title XLVIII Chapter 1003 was approved by the state House in February by a 97 to 10 vote, after being sponsored by Rep. Kimberly Daniels, a Democrat from Jacksonville who runs a Christian ministry. Daniels cited the then-recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for displaying the religious text, stating God is the “light” and “our schools need light in them like never before.” “In God We Trust,” became the official state motto in 2006.
Pentagon worried that U.S. trade war with China could lead to actual war (Source thinkprogress.org) pentagon report states: “Over the last three years, the PLA [China’s People’s Liberation Army] has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets. The PLA may continue to extend its operations beyond the first island chain, demonstrating the capability to strike U.S. and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam.” If this sounds an awful lot like the threat the United States faced from North Korea, it’s because it is. As the Trump administration is engaged in some kind of agreement with North Korea , it has managed to increase tensions with China. The report also mentions China strengthening “its military space capabilities” at a time when President Trump’s “Space Force” idea for militarizing space is meeting with skepticism and pushback. The military-to-military relations between the United States and China have been tested, and the cracks started to show in May, when the Pentagon withdrew an invitation for China to participate in multinational naval exercises. All of this comes on top of recent reports that China is testing a hypersonic missile that could be developed to carry a nuclear warhead that can evade all current U.S. detecting systems and travel at up to six times the speed of sound (4,563 mph).
Russia’s S-500: How Putin Could Kill Air Force F-22s and B-2 Stealth Bombers? (Source The National Interest)
Russia’s fearsome new S-500 air and missile defense system has apparently entered production—and is setting new records for missile engagement range. The next generation weapon is designed to supplement Moscow’s already potent S-400 and replace the A-135 anti-ballistic missile system. Not only does the weapon have unprecedented capability to hit high altitude targets—including ballistic missiles and satellites—at extremely long ranges, there have been some claims—usually from the media—that the system could target stealth aircraft. However, while some analysts believe that might be theoretically possible, there has been nothing to substantiate that claim. What is definitively known about the S-500 is that it is of very high priority to Russian president Vladimir Putin and that it presented publicly as primarily a high-altitude defense system. “It is necessary to develop and build up technological groundwork in the area of air defense, to continue modernization of Pantsir systems, to finish the development and preparations for mass production of the S-500 newest systems capable of hitting targets at super-high altitudes, including near-the-earth space,” Putin said in May.
While not all aspects of the S-500’s capabilities have been known to have been demonstrated by the West, there is little reason to doubt the capabilities of Russian air defense systems.
Florida Declares State Of Emergency As Red Tide Spreads (Source Huffington Post) Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) declared a state of emergency on Monday as a months-long red tide continues to spread throughout the region’s waters, killing hundreds of turtles and sickening people in coastal communities. The red tide ― a harmful bloom of algae that occurs naturally ― began last year and has spread through the Gulf of Mexico, now spanning some 150 miles. Fish and other wildlife have been washing up dead on beaches throughout Florida, including more than 300 sea turtles, manatees and even a whale shark that may have been killed by the phenomenon. “I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its terrible impacts,” Scott said in a statement on Monday. The declaration will provide $1.5 million in emergency funding and make state scientists available to help with clean-up efforts and animal rescues. The bloom of algae began last October and extends from Naples to the Everglades region, with no sign of slowing down. Residents have reported some negative health effects, including eye, nose and throat irritation, due to the vapors released by the red tide, according to The Washington Post.
“I can’t describe the smell. It’s like unbelievable,” Alex Kuizon, a resident of Bradenton Beach, told The Associated Press last week. “It makes you throw up.” More than 100 tons of dead fish have been removed from area beaches, NPR reports, and officials say they’re worried about the tide’s impact on tourism.
The US Air Force is ordering new satellites to harden defenses against Russian and Chinese missile threats (Source businessinsider.com)
The US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a nearly $3 billion contract for new missile early warning satellites.
The satellites support the critical US nuclear deterrence mission and serve as the first line of defense against threats from Russia and China, which are expanding their counterspace capabilities. The US Air Force is ordering three new and survivable missile warning satellites, the service revealed Tuesday in an announcement stating that the contract had been awarded to Lockheed Martin for $2.9 billion. The Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, part of the larger Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) constellation, are expected to bolster US early warning capabilities, as well as demonstrate greater survivability against present and emerging counterspace threats from US rivals and adversaries than existing systems, Defense News reported Wednesday.
“This is early warning to support our nuclear deterrence,” Thomas Karako, a senior fellow with the International Security Program and the director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider. The Next Gen OPIR constellation is expected to replace the current Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), with the first satellite launch now expected in 2023, two years earlier than initially planned. The initial procurement plans were first announced in April.
Economic war on Iran is war on Eurasia integration (Source Asia Times) Hysteria reigned supreme after the first round of US sanctions were reinstated against Iran over the past week. War scenarios abound, and yet the key aspect of the economic war unleashed by the Trump administration has been overlooked: Iran is a major piece in a much larger chessboard. Eurasian integration is on display in Astana, where Russia, Iran and Turkey are deciding the fate of Syria, in coordination with Damascus.
Iran’s strategic depth in post-war Syria simply won’t vanish. The challenge of Syrian reconstruction will be met largely by Bashar al-Assad’s allies: China, Russia and Iran.
In parallel, the Russia-China strategic partnership – from the intersection between the BRI and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) to the expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the solidifying of BRICS Plus — has immense economic stakes in the stability of Iran.
The complex interconnection of Iran with both Russia (via the EAEU and the International North-South Transportation Corridor) and China (via BRI and oil/gas supplies) is even tighter than in the case of Syria in the past seven years of civil war. Iran is absolutely essential for Russia-China for the partnership to allow any “surgical strike” — as floated in Syria — or worse, hot war initiated by Washington.
A case could be made that with his recent overture to President Putin, President Trump is trying to negotiate some sort of freeze in the current configuration — a remixed Sykes-Picot for the 21st century. But that assumes Trump’s decision-making is not being dictated or co-opted by the US neocon cabal that pressed for the 2003 war in Iraq. If the situation turns volcanic when the US oil sanctions on Iran kick in by early November, an actual remix of the recent North Korea scenario would be in the cards. Washington simultaneously sent three carrier battle groups to terrify North Korea. That failed – and Trump ended up having to chat with Kim Jong-un. Despite the US record around the world — endless threats of a Venezuela invasion with the only tangible result an amateurish, failed drone attack; 17 years of endless war in Afghanistan, with the Taliban still as immovable as the Hindu Kush peaks; the “4+1” – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – winning the vicious proxy war in Syria — US neocons scream and shout about striking Iran. As with North Korea, Russia and China will send unmistakable signs that Iran is in their closely coordinated Eurasian sphere of influence, and any attack on Iran will be considered an attack on the whole Eurasian sphere.