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Cake day: August 1st, 2023

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  • This is the best summary I could come up with:


    A Russian flagged vessel was granted clearance by a UN inspection body to call at a Houthi-controlled port after surreptitiously exporting grain from a western sanctioned terminal in occupied Crimea, an investigation by Bellingcat and Lloyd’s List has found.

    The bulk carrier, Zafar (IMO: 9720263), switched off its Automated Identification System (AIS) – that allows it to be tracked by shipping services and which commercial vessels are mandated to keep on unless in danger – when it visited the Port of Sevastopol in May this year.

    Daniel Martin, a partner at the Holman Fenwick Willan law firm who specialises in international trade sanctions told Lloyd’s List: “[if] you look at this from the perspective of the global policy objectives of getting food into Yemen and preventing the entry of arms then UNVIM is fulfilling its mandate.”

    Material on the UNVIM website outlines that it has received “voluntary contributions and active support” from the likes of the EU, US Department of State, USAID and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Netherlands since it was set up in 2015.

    Zafar arrived in Saleef just a couple of days before a visit of a Houthi delegation to Moscow in early July where issues including Yemen’s Civil War were discussed.

    In December last year, Zafar was observed by Bellingcat and Lloyd’s List delivering grain loaded at the Port of Sevastopol to Bandar-e Emam Khomeini in southern Iran, thus making it a vessel of interest.


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    The attack, by a shooter who law enforcement officials say was then killed by the Secret Service, was the most serious attempt to assassinate a president or presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981.

    It comes amid a deeply polarized political atmosphere, just four months from the presidential elections and days before Trump is to be officially named the Republican nominee at his party’s convention.

    The heavily armed tactical team travels everywhere with the president and major party nominees and is meant to confront any active threats while other agents focus on safeguarding and evacuating the person at the center of protection.

    Law enforcement recovered an AR-style rifle at the scene, according to a third person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

    “Everybody went to their knees or their prone position, because we all knew, everyone becoming aware of the fact this was gunfire,” said Dave McCormick, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, who was sitting to Trump’s right on stage.

    Two firefighters from nearby Steubenville, Ohio, who were at the rally told the AP that they helped people who appeared injured and heard bullets hitting broadcast speakers.


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    One of the telltale signs of these stability issues on Raptor Lake is the “out of video memory” error message that pops up in games such as Fortnite.

    Cassells claims that his studio has received thousands of crash reports from players using 13th and 14th-gen Core chips and that his development team has personally experienced “frequent instability” on their own Raptor Lake-powered PCs.

    But Cassells reckons there’s a more substantial underlying problem here than mere glitches of instability solved by motherboard configurations.

    “Over the last 3–4 months, we have observed that CPUs initially working well deteriorate over time, eventually failing,” he claims.

    This 13900K went into a gaming PC with a lower-end motherboard that by design can’t max out the chip’s power usage.

    Cassells also recommends players, whether they’re hosting their own servers or just playing a game, to avoid Raptor Lake processors.


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    Two people have died after a gunman opened fired at a Donald Trump rally in Pennsylvania - with the former president also suffering a bullet wound to his ear.

    The US Secret Service confirmed a suspected gunman fired “multiple shots” toward the stage from what they described as an “elevated position outside of the rally venue”.

    Trump said a bullet pierced the upper part of his ear during the incident, which took place while he was giving a speech on stage.

    “President Trump thanks law enforcement and first responders for their quick action during this heinous act,” spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.

    UK Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer said in a post on X: "I am appalled by the shocking scenes at President Trump’s rally and we send him and his family our best wishes.

    Hungary’s president Viktor Orban wrote: “My thoughts and prayers are with Donald Trump in these dark hours.”


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    Mexico’s environmental protection agency said late Thursday that the statue, which appears to show an angry trident-wielding Poseidon “rising” from the sea a few meters from the beach, lacked permits.

    But this one appears to be all about present-day humanity, combining “cancel culture,” social media storms, lawsuits and the one truly fearsome, overpowering force in today’s world: Instagram selfie-fueled tourism.

    “Poseidon is a Greek god who is alien to our Maya culture,” according to the legal complaint filed recently against the statue.

    Carlos Morales, whose Indigenous Strategic Litigation group brought the complaint, says he wants the Poseidon statue removed.

    “I want Poseidon removed from the beach at Progreso because it is foreign to the Maya culture, and because it did not meet the requirements” of getting an environmental permits, he said.

    Defenders of the statue — which strikingly shows Poseidon’s body rising mightily from a relatively, calm, open stretch of water near the beach — also have their arguments, though they might not hold up as well in court: it’s pretty, and it’s good for business.


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    As spotted by SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik, some data in the document was viewable despite the black redaction boxes, including Valve’s headcount and gross pay across various parts of the company over 18 years, and even some data about its gross margins that we weren’t able to uncover fully.

    The data breaks Valve employees into four different groups: “Admin,” “Games,” “Steam,” and, starting in 2011, “Hardware.”

    If you want to sift through the numbers yourself, I’ve included a full table of the data, sorted by year and category, at the end of this story.

    In November 2023, Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais told The Verge that he thinks “we’re firmly in the camp of being a full fledged hardware company by now.”

    The small number of staff across the board seemingly explains why Valve’s product list is so limited despite its immense business as basically the de facto PC gaming platform.

    While we haven’t seen any leaked profit numbers from this new headcount and payroll data, the figures give a more detailed picture of how much Valve is spending on its staff — which, given the massive popularity of Steam, is probably still just a fraction of the money the company is pulling in.


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    When the government looked at changing the name six years ago, pranksters hijacked the process, with ‘Bob’ becoming the second most popular choice.

    The current government’s biggest challenge is to keep the debate on track.

    He spoke about communities in Northwest Territories that have reverted to aboriginal language names.

    A variety of aboriginal names were suggested, then someone came up with the idea of calling the territory ‘Bob.’

    Federation of Labour isn’t convinced a new name is a priority now, in the midst of an oil and gas boom.

    Whatever the timing, the government’s challenge will be getting people who speak the eight official languages of the territory to agree on a new name.


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    But before breaking up the band, the politically motivated and self-described “gay furry hackers” published a bunch of furious messages that SiegedSec claims were sent to them by Mike Howell, the executive director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project.

    The feud began on July 9 after SiegedSec said it obtained usernames, passwords, logs and “other juicy info” belonging to the Heritage Foundation, and then leaked that private data online in response to the org producing and promoting Project 2025.

    Project 2025 is a lengthy and fairly detailed blueprint that outlines how a future conservative president – such as, say, Donald Trump should he win the election again – could overhaul the federal government and public policy to enact a far-Right agenda and give huge powers to the executive branch.

    And ultimately, it seeks to expand the executive branch’s power, ensure that federal agencies and their leaders and rank-and-file fall heavily in line with the president’s agenda and “push back against woke policies in corporate America” [PDF].

    SiegedSec, whose previous targets have included America’s biggest nuclear power lab’s computer systems and NATO (on multiple occasions), said it took issue with Project 2025’s “authoritarian Christian nationalist plan to reform the United States government.”

    From there the messages said to have been sent from Howell become increasingly dark, lecturing the crew on beastiality and how it’s a “weird sin,” calling them perverts," and then telling vio “you won’t be able to wear a furry tiger costume when you’re getting pounded in the ass in the federal prison I put you in next year.”


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    Hundreds of thousands of southeast Texas residents are entering the sixth day in a row suffering brutal heat without air conditioning and many are scrambling to find cool shelters, food, safe drinking water and health care resources.

    Pregnant Houston resident Jordyn Rush, 32, worries for her health as the intense heat deprives her of sleep and her fridge sits empty while the outage drags on, making life difficult as she prepares to undergo a C-section in 12 days.

    In Fort Bend County, a neighboring suburb to Houston, more than 41 people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, Judge KP George said at a news conference Friday.

    “The combination of severe heat and limited access to electricity is dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations and those relying on electricity-dependent durable medical equipment and certain healthcare services,” said Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, in a news release.

    CrowdSource Rescue, a nonprofit primarily serving as a search-and-rescue group, identified roughly 120 senior living facilities that need assistance and helped deliver generators and supplies to 16 so far.

    A dozen Houston area hospitals are in a state of “internal disaster” and more than 40 dialysis clinics are struggling with outages, Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said in a news conference Thursday.


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    Hundreds of thousands of southeast Texas residents are entering the sixth day in a row suffering brutal heat without air conditioning and many are scrambling to find cool shelters, food, safe drinking water and health care resources.

    Pregnant Houston resident Jordyn Rush, 32, worries for her health as the intense heat deprives her of sleep and her fridge sits empty while the outage drags on, making life difficult as she prepares to undergo a C-section in 12 days.

    In Fort Bend County, a neighboring suburb to Houston, more than 41 people suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, Judge KP George said at a news conference Friday.

    “The combination of severe heat and limited access to electricity is dangerous, especially for vulnerable populations and those relying on electricity-dependent durable medical equipment and certain healthcare services,” said Dawn O’Connell, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, in a news release.

    CrowdSource Rescue, a nonprofit primarily serving as a search-and-rescue group, identified roughly 120 senior living facilities that need assistance and helped deliver generators and supplies to 16 so far.

    A dozen Houston area hospitals are in a state of “internal disaster” and more than 40 dialysis clinics are struggling with outages, Texas Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said in a news conference Thursday.


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    The issue occurred on Thursday night (July 11), during the launch of 20 Starlink internet satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

    The Falcon 9’s upper-stage engine failed to complete its second burn as planned, and the spacecraft were deployed into a lower-than-intended orbit as a result, according to SpaceX.

    “A return to flight is based on the FAA determining that any system, process or procedure related to the mishap does not affect public safety,” the agency added.

    The satellite thrusters need to raise orbit faster than atmospheric drag pulls them down or they burn up," company founder and CEO Elon Musk wrote on X in response to the SpaceX post.

    The rocket has two crewed launches coming up relatively soon — the private Polaris Dawn effort to low Earth orbit on July 31 and the Crew-9 mission to the ISS for NASA sometime next month.

    Those target dates could slip as a result of Thursday night’s anomaly, but the wait likely won’t be too long, said billionaire entrepreneur Jared Isaacman, who funded and will command Polaris Dawn and did the same for the pioneering Inspiration4 mission back in 2021.


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    In a statement, the Department for Health and Social Care said that “licensed cannabis-based medicines are routinely funded by the NHS where there is clear evidence of their quality, safety and effectiveness”.But it added that “most products on the market are unlicensed medicines, and clinical guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) demonstrate a clear need for more research to support routine prescribing and funding decisions on the NHS”.

    One patient taking the drug for chronic pain is Julie Gould, from Wimbledon in south London.The 64-year-old started using medical cannabis in 2020 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in her 30s.“I’ve got permanent damage.

    I haven’t slept for two days and I really can’t cope with this.“I remember bursting into tears in front of her and she looked at me and said, ‘as we get older we all get aches and pains’.”Ms Gould started taking medical cannabis oil after getting a prescription through a private clinic and says it “instantly stops” the nerve pain she experiences.“In my view, it’s just a miraculous drug,” she says, adding that it helped her through withdrawals after she was put on a new medication for her RLS.She now only uses the medicine occasionally, but is concerned about how she would afford it if her symptoms got worse.“In 2020, 100ml of the oil I used cost about £150 - now that same 100ml is £350,” she says.

    Sativex, a cannabis-based spray used to treat MS muscle spasms, is licensed for prescription on the NHS, but the MS Society says there is an “unacceptable postcode lottery” for the drug.NHS England says it already offers several cannabis-based treatments that have been approved by the MHRA but “many doctors and professional bodies rightly remain concerned about the limited evidence available concerning the safety and efficacy of unlicensed products”.In a statement, it said "manufacturers are encouraged to engage with the UK medicines licensing process, which can help provide specialist doctors with the confidence to use the products, in the same way they use any other licensed medicines that are recommended for use on the NHS.”

    The UK medical cannabis market is the second largest in Europe and is expected to be worth £300m in 2025, according to market researchers Prohibition Partners.Prof Lynskey says it is “unfortunate” that some people are “excluded” due to the cost of cannabis from private clinics, especially as many of those living with chronic conditions are “not working or not working full time and struggling financially”.Even if the drug is made more accessible on the NHS, he says that attitudes towards medical cannabis may take longer to change.“There’s still a lot of stigma in the general population against it and that includes actually a lot of doctors, who either don’t know it’s legal or don’t believe it should be,” Prof Lynskey says.

    It costs £60 a session and a further £80 to £180 for the supply of medical cannabis oil.“I’m very lucky I am able to afford this, I’m in a good job, but there will be many people who really struggle to pay for it,” he told the BBC.Stephen is among a growing number of people who are turning to medical cannabis to treat their mental health.The T21 Project says that 42% of patients on the programme take the medicine for psychiatric conditions - making them the second largest group behind chronic pain patients.


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    Grocery prices are no longer climbing as much as they did in the last two years — but many Americans are still frustrated by what it costs to put food on the table.

    One of the biggest snack makers said this week that its sales fell this spring as grocery shoppers became more sensitive to rising prices.

    Here are three things to know about food prices these days — and why it still feels more expensive at the checkout lane of your favorite grocery store.

    Grocery prices are particularly noticeable because they are such a significant chunk of the typical family’s budget, accounting for about 8% on average, according to government data.

    Some of that is because shoppers are balking at the higher prices by cutting back on chips altogether or by switching to cheaper store brands.

    “You may not ever have considered the Market Pantry bread, but it’s $1.39 for a big loaf of it,” Whitworth says, referring to Target’s private label.


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    It outlines how showbusiness institutions ignored widespread rumors he had a habit of sexual misconduct around young female comedians – including asking if he could disrobe and pleasure himself in front of them.

    In an admirable show of honesty, Mike Schur, a producer and writer who created the NBC series The Good Place and co-created Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, says on camera “I pretended I didn’t know” about the rumors when he cast Louis C.K.

    “Normally, we forgive the people who apologize and admit they did something wrong,” says Noam Dworman, owner of the Comedy Cellar nightclub in Manhattan, who made headlines when Louis C.K.

    lost a lot in the immediate aftermath of his admission, since then he has rebuilt his standup comedy career, sold out arenas like Madison Square Garden, and released a movie.

    Now, there is talk of attempting to redeem some performers tainted by #MeToo scandals, with actress Gaby Hoffmann, who appeared as Louis C.K.’s love interest in his FX series, criticizing cancel culture and reaffirming her friendship with the comic in a recent interview.There is, in these kinds of statements, a sense of wanting to get back to business as usual and turn away from difficult concepts.

    Sorry/Not Sorry asks viewers to consider all this again – as pop culture’s short memory threatens to erode progress made by the #MeToo movement – insisting that the stories of those hurt by misconduct remain a central part of the conversation.


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    Under DNC rules, requests to nominate a candidate must be presented in writing and include written approval from the proposed nominee – as well as a petition with signatures from at least 300 convention delegates.

    Another complicating factor: a plan announced by the Democratic National Committee long before Biden’s disastrous debate to do a virtual roll call vote sometime before the convention.

    At the convention, each candidate would be allowed 20 minutes of supporting speeches from the people nominating and seconding them – and then there would be a roll call vote by states, in alphabetical order.

    An open convention would be “reality TV like you can’t imagine,” said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a DNC member.

    Then, while the primary was still underway, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, leaving Vice President Hubert Humphrey to battle it out with anti-war Senator Eugene McCarthy.

    Republican Richard Nixon won the election that November and Democrats instituted a series of reforms to the nominating process to give regular voters more say.


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    Despite my disagreements with him on particular issues, he has been the most effective president in the modern history of our country and is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump — a demagogue and pathological liar.

    The United States should not provide Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing extremist government with another nickel as it continues to create one of the worst humanitarian disasters in modern history.

    At a time when people were terrified about the future, the president and those of us who supported him in Congress put Americans back to work, provided cash benefits to desperate parents and protected small businesses, hospitals, schools and child care centers.

    After decades of talk about our crumbling roads, bridges and water systems, we put more money into rebuilding America’s infrastructure than ever before — which is projected to create millions of well-paying jobs.

    At a time when the billionaires have never had it so good and when the United States is experiencing virtually unprecedented income and wealth inequality, over 60 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, real weekly wages for the average worker have not risen in over 50 years, 25 percent of seniors live each year on $15,000 or less, we have a higher rate of childhood poverty than almost any other major country, and housing is becoming more and more unaffordable — among other crises.

    If Mr. Biden and his supporters focus on these issues — and refuse to be divided and distracted — the president will rally working families to his side in the industrial Midwest swing states and elsewhere and win the November election.


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    Return to Oz, Disney’s 1985 dark take on Dorothy Gale (played by a then-9-year-old Fairuza Balk), shares its creative DNA with Star Wars.

    They later moved from Los Angeles to California’s Bay Area, where they established American Zoetrope studio with Francis Ford Coppola, and Murch would work on such landmark Coppola films as 1972’s The Godfather, 1974’s The Conversation and 1979’s Apocalypse Now (for which he won an Oscar for best sound and was nominated for an Oscar for best editing).

    Disney was also watching the success of the Star Wars franchise very carefully, and so they approached Murch, seeking new ideas.

    He proposed making a sequel to The Wizard of Oz — but not a musical, like the Judy Garland-starring predecessor from 1939, but one that hewed closer to the original L. Frank Baum books, which Murch adored as a child.

    Five weeks into production, the elaborate and technically complex shoot began to fall behind its schedule, and Disney, disapproving of the footage it had seen, fired Murch from the project.

    He used himself as collateral, telling executives that if Murch failed to deliver the film as promised and on time, he would see to it himself that Return to Oz came to fruition.


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    During their summit in Washington, DC, this week, NATO member states committed more than $1 billion to improve the sharing of intelligence from national and commercial reconnaissance satellites.

    On June 25, NATO announced the establishment of a “space branch” in its Allied Command Transformation, which identifies trends and incorporates emerging capabilities into the alliance’s security strategy.

    The new intelligence-sharing agreement was signed on July 9 by representatives from 17 NATO nations, including the United States, to support the Alliance Persistent Surveillance from Space (APSS) program.

    The program will improve NATO’s ability to monitor activities on the ground and at sea with unprecedented accuracy and timeliness, the alliance said in a statement.

    At the time, NATO called the program a “data-centric initiative” aimed at bringing together intelligence information for easier dissemination among allies and breaking down barriers of secrecy and bureaucracy.

    NATO said AI analytical tools will also better manage growing amounts of surveillance data from space, and ensure decision-makers get faster access to time-sensitive observations.


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    A proposed £1.2bn scheme to recycle effluent from the sewage system and turn it in to drinking water has been criticised as a threat to the environment and a potential costly “white elephant”.

    Regulators says effluent recycling is successfully used overseas, providing plentiful and safe supplies, but campaigners say there are more environmentally friendly options.

    Last week, Ofwat, the regulator, announced a proposed annual bill rise for Southern Water customers of 44%, or £183, by 2030.

    Southern Water is due to submit an application for a development consent order next year and says the scheme will keep “the taps and rivers” flowing.

    It is now proposed it is topped up with recycled effluent purified at a plant which would be built on a former landfill site at Havant.

    Earlier this year, Southern Water admitted to discharging sewage into the River Test, a chalk stream famous for its trout fishing.


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    Stag beetle researchers have called on people across London to record any sightings to help track the insect’s whereabouts and numbers.Britain’s largest beetle species has been in “steep decline” across much of Europe but the capital remains a “hotspot”, according to the London Wildlife Trust.The beetle, whose males have distinctive antler-like jaws, are most commonly found in west and south-west London’s parks and woodlands.

    North and east London has seen fewer recorded sightings over the years, which the trust says remains unexplained.

    Stag beetles are 5-8cm longMale stag beetles have large, antler-shaped jawsMales often fly in the evening, before dusk, during summerFemale stag beetles lack antlers, have smaller but more powerful jaws and are usually seen on the groundAdults emerge from soil under logs or stumps from mid-May to late JulyStag beetles are found near dead wood, spending most of their lives as larvae in tree stumps and logs, growing for 4-7 yearsThe trust is asking people to report any sightings here., external

    Epping Forest, Richmond Park, and Wimbledon & Putney Commons are designated European Special Areas for Conservation partly for stag beetles, a London Wildlife Trust spokesperson said.

    "The males fly clumsily with a faint clattering whirr, and are most likely to be seen on sultry summer evenings an hour or two before dusk.

    "A trust spokesperson said the species was “globally threatened” and the count would help better map the beetles’ presence in London.


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