Trump says it ‘looks’ like Iran is behind Saudi oil attack: Here’s what we know – Global News

September 17th, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump believes Iran is to blame for an attack on two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that put a huge portion of the world’s supply on hold.

About 50 per cent of the production cut by the attack was restored by Tuesday.

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The attack is just another episode exacerbating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

READ MORE: Iran’s supreme leader says there will be no talks with U.S. ‘at any level’

An Iran-aligned rebel group known as the Houthi movement has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Iran has denied any involvement, calling Trump’s claim “maximum lies.”

Trump originally suggested the U.S. would initiate a military response but stopped short of any legitimate retaliation.

The dispute may have effectively ended speculation about a possible U.S.-Iran meeting at the United Nations later this month. The meeting would be the first positive step since relations deteriorated over economic and nuclear disagreements.

What happened?

Drone attacks were launched on stated-owned Saudi Aramco oil facilities Abqaiq and Khurais on Sept. 14. Abqaiq is considered the world’s largest oil processing plant.

The co-ordinated strikes sparked massive fires at the sites and sent thick plumes of smoke into the air.

WATCH: Trump says U.S. knows who was behind recent Saudi oil attacks

While no one was injured, the attacks took out nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, effectively putting five per cent of the global daily output on hold.

Officials initially believed the kingdom’s oil operations could be restored within a few days, but hope for that has dwindled as the damage assessment continued. While 50 per cent of operations resumed Tuesday, the remaining portion likely won’t be repaired until the end of September.

Houthi rebels say they launched the strikes in retaliation to Saudi Arabia’s military effort against them in Yemen. The group has been locked in a war against a Saudi-led coalition that has fought to reinstate the Yemeni government since 2015.

READ MORE: Gas prices in Canada will feel slight impact from Saudi attack, for now: analysts

This isn’t the first time Houthi rebels have used drones in combat since the start of the Saudi-led war. More recently, the Houthis launched drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia’s crucial East-West Pipeline in May. In August, Houthi drones struck Saudi Arabia’s Shaybah oilfield.

Since the weekend assaults, the group has threatened to carry out more attacks and claimed its weapons could reach anywhere in Saudi Arabia.

Why does it matter?

The strikes, which temporarily halved Saudi Arabia’s oil production, are considered the largest single supply disruption in half a century.

The attack has already had a significant impact on the global oil industry — prices surged as much as 20 per cent at one point on Monday.

With fears that full production could be offline for two to three weeks, analysts believe the impacts could widen and intensify.

WATCH: Impact on Alberta’s oil market after attack on Saudi Arabian refineries

“Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world who has spare capacity for crude,” Roger McKnight, a senior petroleum analyst at En-Pro International, told Global News.

“When you knock out five per cent of the country’s capability, you really knocked out all the spare capacity of crude for the global community.”

The U.S. has suggested it would consider offsetting the effects by drawing on the country’s emergency oil reserve.

In tweets, Trump said he would draw on the reserve “if needed.”

That may not be enough, said McKnight.

“The crude oil inventories in the U.S. are down two per cent versus the five-year average. This is going to slow things down again,” he said.

“[Trump] may claim, ‘Well, we’re the largest oil producer in the world, we don’t need Saudi crude. A little message to Mr. Trump — you import seven million barrels a day of crude, a lot of it from Canada, but a lot of it also from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.”

McKnight and other industry analysts in Canada anticipate a five- to six-cent hike in gasoline prices by Wednesday.

READ MORE: Drone attack on Saudi oil sites raises risks amid U.S.-Iran tension

But the long-term impacts for Canadian drivers — and the global oil market — rest on how long it takes the Saudis to restore full operations.

“It’s really serious,” McKnight said. “We don’t know how long this is going to be going on.”

Why is the U.S. blaming Iran?

The U.S. claims the pattern of destruction in the attack did not come from neighbouring Yemen, as claimed by Houthi rebels.

A Saudi military official has also alleged “Iranian weapons” were used.

Trump hinted at a military response to the attacks one day after the drone strikes.

He tweeted: “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack.”

White House officials later downplayed the threat of action, saying the president’s language was merely “a reflection” of his desire to protect the U.S. “from these sorts of oil shots.”

One day later, the U.S. president softened his response, stressing that he did not want to go to war and there was “no rush” to do so.

“We have a lot of options but I’m not looking at options right now,” he said. “We want to find definitively who did this.”

He later doubled down on his claim Iran was behind the attacks.

“Well, it’s looking that way,” he told reporters at the White House. “That’s being checked out right now.”

What does Iran have to say?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has claimed the strikes were carried out by “Yemeni people” retaliating for attacks in the Saudi-led war.

He told Reuters reporters: “Yemeni people are exercising their legitimate right of defence.”

The country’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, called the accusations stemming from the U.S. “max deceit.”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ruled out talks with Washington on Tuesday.

“There will be no talks with the U.S. at any level,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by Iranian state TV.

The latest breakdown steers the two countries away from attempting to quell tensions, which were renewed by economic sanctions and Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

While the talks may be on hold for now, Khamenei said that if the U.S. returns to the deal, Iran would reconsider negotiations.

“Otherwise, no talks will happen … with the Americans,” he said. “Neither in New York nor anywhere.”

— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters

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HBO Max will be the only place to stream ‘Big Bang Theory’ – Engadget

September 17th, 2019

Financial details of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but we do know that the Friends deal cost HBO Max $425 million. Meanwhile, NBC supposedly paid $500 million (or 50,000 Schrute Bucks) for the rights to stream The Office on their Peacock service. It wouldn’t be surprising if the streaming rights to The Big Bang Theory cost even more.

The Big Bang Theory was recently ended its 12-year run, but its decade-plus of primetime domination had a major impact on pop culture. BBT merchandise was everywhere, viewers got a dose of science under the guise of comedy and the show even spawned a spin-off in Young Sheldon. TBS runs episodes of the show most days of the week, and will retain syndication rights through 2028.

These deals make it clear that HBO Max is serious about offering content outside of the HBO and WarnerMedia ecosystems. It seems odd that The Big Bang Theory isn’t finding a home with the CBS All Access platform, as CBS owns the original broadcast rights to the show. Streaming providers will likely be entering more and more bidding wars for exclusive rights to classic and popular TV series, and we may see more shows switching hands between the big media corporations like ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.

Exclusivity is what sells streaming subscriptions, but it can also be a detriment to consumers. Streaming succeeded because of the high prices and lack of flexibility offered by cable providers. A segmented streaming world sounds like cable all over again. Before long, our $100 cable bill may simply be replaced by ten $10 streaming plans.

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Deadly mosquito-borne EEE virus outbreak in Massachusetts may be caused by this, epidemiologist says – Fox News

September 17th, 2019

Summer may be giving way to autumn, but the slowly cooling weather has yet to result in a decline in cases of mosquito-borne illnesses — namely the rare Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus. This summer, cases of the potentially deadly virus have been reported in states across the country, such as Rhode Island, Michigan, and, most recently, Connecticut.

But a number of human EEE cases have also been reported in Massachusetts, which has been hit particularly hard with the virus this year. Health officials there recently confirmed yet another resident has been infected with EEE, marking the state’s eighth human case this year.

On average, five to 10 cases of EEE are reported each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

MASSACHUSETTS WOMAN REPORTEDLY DIES FROM RARE MOSQUITO-BORNE VIRUS: ‘SHE WAS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL SOUL’

Mosquitoes become infected with EEE after feeding on an infected bird — specifically those that live in freshwater swamps. Typically, EEE-carrying mosquitos are only found where the EEE-infected birds are. But on occasion, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, “the virus gets picked up by other types of mosquitoes that bite other birds, animals, and people” —  thus creating a “bridge” between the virus and humans, so to speak.

Dr. Catherine Brown, the Massachusetts state epidemiologist, told LiveScience that birds from Florida — which has long dealt with EEE — migrate to New England each year, specifically to a state with a particularly dense population of red maple and white cedar swamps: Massachusetts.

Though a particular species of mosquito in the swamps feeds on the infected birds, other types of mosquitoes occasionally feed on the birds and subsequently become carriers. Those mosquitoes then pass the virus to humans and other mammals — namely to horses, which, according to the CDC, are particularly susceptible. (Humans and mammals are considered to be “dead-end” hosts, however, and the virus doesn’t spread from animal to animal, human to human, animal to human, or vice versa.)

After a couple of years, the birds infected with EEE build an immunity to the virus, according to LiveScience. When this happens, the transmission isn’t as effective, resulting in a decline in EEE cases.

As the birds reproduce, however, the eggs hatch and the older, immune birds eventually die off. The younger birds without immunity are susceptible to EEE, and the cycle begins again, Brown explained. Sometimes the migrating birds carry a strain of EEE the other birds are not immune to, which further perpetuates the cycle.

“Taken together, these factors cause outbreaks in Massachusetts every 10 to 20 years, and these can last for several years,” LiveScience reports.

EEE “is one of a group of mosquito-transmitted viruses that can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis),” the CDC says. The virus is more common in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, though the Great Lakes area has also seen cases.

Symptoms of EEE usually appear four to 10 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Severe cases of the virus “begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting,” said the CDC, which noted, “the illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, and coma.”

RHODE ISLAND SEES FIRST EEE DEATH SINCE 2007, OFFICIALS SAY

One-third of those infected with EEE virus die; survivors typically have “mild to severe brain damage.”  There’s no specific treatment for the infection.

Massachusetts health officials on Monday announced they are continuing to spray for mosquitoes — specifically in areas of the state considered to be at an increased risk for the virus, according to a statement. 

The best way to prevent EEE virus and other mosquito-borne ailments is by draining standing water — like in birdbaths, buckets or on pool covers — as stagnant water can serve as a breeding ground for these insects. Other preventive measures include covering skin with long-sleeved pants and shirts while outside and properly using DEET-containing insect repellent.

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Google starts highlighting key moments from videos in Search – TechCrunch

September 17th, 2019

This year’s flu season may be a bad one. Here’s why you need a flu shot. – NBC News

September 17th, 2019

Flu seasons are notoriously unpredictable, but there are already clues that the upcoming season may be especially difficult.

Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere can be an indication of what’s to come in the Northern Hemisphere, and the recent flu season in Australia, where winter has just ended, arrived early and with a vengeance. A particularly virulent flu strain, H3N2, dominated.

What’s more, a pediatric flu death has already been reported in the U.S. — a 4 year old in California who had underlying health problems.

“We should never forget that the flu still kills,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, a public health officer for Riverside County, California, said in a news release announcing the death.

“A death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual,” Kaiser warned.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that last year, there were 37 million to 43 million flu illnesses in the U.S., and 36,400 to 61,200 flu-related deaths.

Last year’s flu season ran from Oct. 1, 2018, to May 4.

Is it too early to get the flu vaccine?

No. Doctors say people should get the flu vaccine now, and certainly before Thanksgiving.

“The concern with delaying it is that some people who might have the opportunity to get vaccinated now may not have that opportunity later,” said Dr. Robert Atmar, a professor of medicine and an infectious disease expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“The most important thing is for people to get their flu vaccine, and get it before the epidemic starts,” he said.

Most healthy people who get the shot in September can expect some protection through the spring. But older adults may want to schedule their vaccination for sometime in October.

“There is a concern that some older people may have their immunity wane simply because their immune system is more frail, less robust,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Flu activity usually picks up in October and November, peaks around February, and can last well into the spring months. The CDC recommends everyone over age 6 months be vaccinated against the flu, especially expectant mothers.

Pregnant women who get the flu tend to have complications similar to those over 65. The shot offers protection for both the woman and her unborn baby.

It takes about two weeks to build immunity to influenza after getting the vaccine.

But even then, the flu vaccine offers only partial protection. Last year, the vaccine didn’t work well: Its overall effectiveness was 29 percent.

Doctors blamed the poor match on a surprise second wave of H3N2 flu activity late in the season.

Why should I get the flu vaccine even if it doesn’t work well?

There is plenty of evidence that the vaccine can ease the severity of the flu if you do get sick. Doctors say people who get the vaccine generally don’t feel as sick if they do wind up with the flu, and they’re less likely to develop complications of the virus, including pneumonia and death.

“Partial protection frequently gets overlooked, and we shouldn’t forget that,” Schaffner said. “Because it’s those complications that do you in.”

What’s more, research published last year found the risk for heart attack or stroke increases the month after a person is diagnosed with the flu. The mechanism is likely one of inflammation and stress in the body caused by the virus.

A specific flu shot call Fluzone may be best for older adults. “For people over age 65, there is evidence that the high-dose vaccine will provide greater than a standard dose vaccine,” Atmar said.

Fluzone and the standard dose shots available this year include protection against several influenza strains, including H1N1 and H3N2.

FluMist, the nasal spray favored by kids and anyone else averse to needles, is also back this year.

Follow NBC HEALTH on Twitter & Facebook.

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Liberals, Conservatives target families in battle for votes – The Globe and Mail

September 17th, 2019

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced a plan to boost the government’s contribution to registered education savings plans from 20 per cent to 30 per cent for every dollar invested up to $2,500 a year.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Families were once again the main target of campaign messages from the Liberals and the Conservatives Tuesday, as the two parties set their sights on taking a lead in the neck-and-neck race.

In Winnipeg, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced a plan to boost the government’s contribution to registered education savings plans from 20 per cent to 30 per cent for every dollar invested up to $2,500 a year. The Conservatives said it will boost the maximum annual grant from $500 to $750.

“By boosting RESPs, a new Conservative government will help even more Canadians provide their kids with a smart start,” Mr. Scheer said.

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In St. John’s, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced that a re-elected Liberal government would make maternity and parental benefits tax-free. The party said the measure would mean parents earning about $45,000 a year would pocket $1,800 more.

The Conservatives have also promised to make parental leave tax-free but they have pledged to do this through a non-refundable 15-per-cent tax credit.

The Liberals and Conservatives continue to be locked in a virtual tie in the daily tracking survey from Nanos Research. The Conservatives were at 36 per cent and the Liberals were at 35 per cent in the numbers released Tuesday, putting both parties within the margin of error. The NDP stood at 15 per cent, the Greens at 7 per cent, the Bloc Québécois at 5 per cent and the People’s Party at 2 per cent. Nik Nanos, the chief data scientist, said the Conservatives were trending upward while the Greens were trending down.

The poll was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV, with a total of 1,200 Canadians surveyed from Sept. 14-16. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?” A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at globeandmail.com/election/polls.

The Liberals also pledged to increase federal tax-free monthly cheques for most parents with children under the age of one. The 15-per-cent increase to the Canada Child Benefit will give families up to $1,000 more to help in the first year of a child’s life, the party added.

“In those first few months with a new baby, when it’s a struggle to get enough sleep, let alone get to the top of your game at work, it can be an even bigger concern,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“No one should have to choose between their paycheque and their family.”

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The Liberals also announced plans to introduce a 15-week leave for parents who adopt so they get the same benefits as biological parents, a measure they said would give adoptive parents an extra $7,000.

The Liberal measures announced Tuesday will cost about $800-million, starting in 2020, and rise to $1.2-billion in 2023.

Meanwhile, in Ottawa, housing affordability was the focus of an event with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Mr. Singh started the day in the riding of Ottawa Centre, where he announced he would build 500,000 affordable housing units over the next decade if elected.

The riding is currently held by Liberal cabinet minister Catherine McKenna but has previously been held by New Democrats, including the late Paul Dewar and former leader Ed Broadbent.

“A lot of people are struggling to find housing,” Mr. Singh said. “We know we can do a lot more.”

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The NDP also said it is considering support for energy-efficiency upgrades.

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Uber will use your smartphone’s sensors to check if your car has stopped suddenly – MIT Technology Review

September 17th, 2019

Google Fi gets a cheaper “unlimited” plan, bundled cloud storage – Ars Technica

September 17th, 2019

Google Fi gets a cheaper “unlimited” plan, bundled cloud storage  Ars Technica

Google Fi, Google’s MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) cellular *service*, is launching a second plan for users today. Besides the original pay-per-megabyte …

Microsoft, software

Aaron Carter’s Guns Could be Seized if Cops Get Gun Violence Restraining Order – TMZ

September 17th, 2019

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Amazon Music HD is supposed to sound better than Spotify — but it depends on how you listen – CNBC

September 17th, 2019