Swedish Minister: Trump Threatened Trade Restrictions to Release A$AP Rocky

President Donald Trump threatened to incite a trade war with Sweden to release U.S. rapper A$AP Rocky from prison in 2019, according to the country’s justice and home affairs minister.

During an interview with a Swedish paper on Thursday, Morgan Johansson said Trump had warned the Swedish government at the time that if it did not release Rocky, then he would issue new “trade restrictions.”

Trump allegedly approached the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, for support as well, Johansson added. (Read more from “Swedish Minister: Trump Threatened Trade Restrictions to Release A$AP Rocky” HERE)

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‘Xi Humiliated’: Wuhan Lab Leak Theory Gains Ground as Experts Point To Evidence in Book

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that threw the entire world into turmoil, a furious debate has raged on about the origins of the Sars-Cov-2 virus. While China believes that the virus jumped from animals to humans, many have alleged that the virus actually leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. In a new book, experts have investigated the various claims made by different groups and concluded it is “highly likely” the outbreak began in Wuhan, despite China suggesting that it may have come from Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and neighboring countries.

In a column written for Spiked, biologist and co-author of Viral: The Search for the Origin Of Covid-19, Matt Ridley lambasted Chinese scientists who not only rejected the lab leak theory as a “conspiracy” but also criticized the theory the virus emerged from wildlife trade in the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan.

In a study published in the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, chinese researchers slammed a group of American scientists who suggested that the virus emerged from a seafood market. . .

Mr Ridley noted that this paper reveals the dilemma that Xi Jinping is in.

He wrote: [China] cannot concede that the virus started in its legal or illegal wildlife trade without huge embarrassment to the Xi Jinping regime, which has encouraged the first and tried to eliminate the second. (Read more from “‘Xi Humiliated’: Wuhan Lab Leak Theory Gains Ground as Experts Point To Evidence in Book” HERE)

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Immediately After U.S. Rejects Roe v. Wade, Israel Makes It Easier to Get an Abortion

For the first time in 30 years, the Knesset Health Committee approves sweeping abortion reforms under which women will be able to have an early-stage pharmaceutically induced termination at a clinic instead of a hospital and will not need to appear in front of the much-criticized abortion panels, the Health Ministry says.

According to previously announced changes, women will be able to complete the necessary paperwork online, instead of having to do it in person.

In addition, a woman requesting an abortion will not be required to initially meet with a social worker. If they do wish to meet with one, the social worker’s job will be to provide support.

The new regulations will take effect within three months, the Health Ministry said.

Although the planned reforms have been in the works for some time, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz hails the changes as a response to last week’s ruling in the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. (Read more from “Immediately After U.S. Rejects Roe v. Wade, Israel Makes It Easier to Get an Abortion” HERE)

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China Rages Over COVID-19 ‘Lie’ After Bombshell Report

China has rubbished bombshell reports World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Covid-19 virus emerged from a laboratory.

A senior government source reportedly told the Mail on Sunday Dr Tedros believes a “catastrophic accident” led to the virus escaping from the Wuhan Institute of Virology at the end of 2019.

Dr Tedros’ comments regarding the virus’s origins have slowly shifted to being more critical of China’s response in the pandemic’s infancy. . .

Addressing the report on Wednesday, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin rejected the Mail on Sunday’s claims.

“The report you mentioned is entirely false and the Director-General completely refutes the story in the article,” he responded, saying the WHO has confirmed Dr Tedros’ alleged comments were never made in public or private. (Read more from “China Rages Over COVID-19 ‘Lie’ After Bombshell Report” HERE)

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Ukraine LGBTQ Community Upset Over Russian Invasion

The official Pride parade in Kyiv was canceled this year after a decade of hard-fought efforts for more acceptance of LGBTQ people.

Before Russia invaded, Ukraine – a largely religious nation with a long history of oppression against sexual and gender expression – had increasingly become a rare bright spot for LGBTQ rights and a sanctuary of sorts for Eastern Europe. Ex-Soviet LGBTQ individuals would travel to experience a gay nightclub scene, especially in larger cities like Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa, where they could feel safer to be open.

Now, what would have been the 10th anniversary of the Equality March in Kyiv this month was relocated to Poland because of the ongoing war. (Read more from “Ukraine LGBTQ Community Upset Over Russian Invasion” HERE)

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State Department Warns Russia: Attack on Lithuania Is Attack on U.S.

A new Russian threat to target “the residents of Lithuania” has drawn a sharp reminder of the American pledge to fight alongside any NATO allies that might come under attack.

“Lithuania is a member of the NATO alliance,” State Department spokesman Ned Price emphasized. ”We stand by the commitments that we have made to the NATO alliance. That includes, of course, a commitment to Article 5: That is the bedrock of the NATO alliance.”

Price prefaced that warning with a dismissive remark about “Russian saber-rattling or Russian bluster.” The pairing would seem to reflect how unease about heightened military tensions around the war in Ukraine has been conditioned by the recognition that Russia is far likelier to use such threats for propaganda purposes than to risk a direct clash with the trans-Atlantic alliance.

“It seems like it’s partially a Russian influence operation or psyops a little bit,” a senior European official told the Washington Examiner. (Read more from “State Department Warns Russia: Attack on Lithuania Is Attack on U.S.” HERE)

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Pope Francis Resigning? Declining Health, Canceled Africa Trip Fuel Rumors

Pope Francis’ recent health struggles, worsening mobility issues and canceled events have fueled rumors that the head of the Catholic Church is about to follow his predecessor into early retirement.

Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected to the papacy in March 2013, after Pope Benedict XVI stepped down at age 85, becoming the first pontiff to do so since Gregory XII in 1415.

Now, some Vatican observers believe that the 85-year-old Francis could become the second — although the pope’s adviser has brushed off the chatter. . .

[H]is health has been in apparent decline, and for the past month Francis has been getting around in a wheelchair, or with the aid of a cane, because of knee pain.

The octogenarian prelate reportedly does not want to undergo surgery on his knee — and was quoted as telling bishops in May: “Rather than operate, I’ll resign.” (Read more from “Pope Francis Resigning? Declining Health, Canceled Africa Trip Fuel Rumors” HERE)

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Ukraine Moves to Restrict Russian Culture as War Rages On

The Ukrainian parliament moved Sunday to further rid its country of Russian culture and influence, in a process referred to by some as “derussification,” by voting to pass a law that restricts certain Russian books and music in the country.

The law stops the printing of books by Russian citizens. There is an exception, however, if the Russian citizen is willing to give up their Russian passport and become a Ukraine citizen, then their books can still be printed. The ban also only applies to authors who held Russian citizenship after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

The law also restricts books from being imported into Ukraine. Now, books printed in Russia and Belarus can no longer be imported, and special permission is required for the importation of books in Russian from any other countries.

The Ukrainian parliament did not stop at just books – the parliament also passed a law that stops all music by post-1991 Russian citizens from being played by media outlets and on public transportation. The law also requires TV and radio stations to play more Ukrainian-language speech and music content. (Read more from “Ukraine Moves to Restrict Russian Culture as War Rages On” HERE)

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Russian TV Shows Video of U.S. Veterans Captured in Ukraine

Russian state television showed video Friday of two U.S. military veterans who went missing last week while fighting in Ukraine, confirming that the men were taken captive and raising fears about their fate.

Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh, both from Alabama, were believed to be the first Americans captured by Russian forces since the war began on Feb. 24.

Drueke, speaking into the camera from what appeared to be an office, sent a message to his mother, concluding with a quick wink.

“Mom, I just want to let you know that I’m alive and I hope to be back home as soon as I can be. So, love Diesel for me. Love you.” Diesel is his dog, a mastiff.

His aunt, Dianna Shaw, said the video included both a key word and a gesture that Drueke and his mother had set up during one of his two tours in Iraq so she would know that it was indeed him and that he was OK. (Read more from “Russian TV Shows Video of U.S. Veterans Captured in Ukraine” HERE)

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Leaked Internal Audio From TikTok Shows U.S. User Data Accessed From China Despite Denials: Report

TikTok employees based in China have repeatedly accessed sensitive data from U.S. users despite the company previously indicating that the information would only be accessed from inside the U.S.

The revelation was contained in a report from BuzzFeed News that highlighted various statements made from numerous employees over the course of more than 80 internal TikTok meetings.

The fear that U.S. officials have is that U.S. user data could be accessed by ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, because Chinese companies are subjected to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

“The risk is that the government could force ByteDance to collect and turn over information as a form of ‘data espionage,’” the report said. “There is, however, another concern: that the soft power of the Chinese government could impact how ByteDance executives direct their American counterparts to adjust the levers of TikTok’s powerful ‘For You’ algorithm, which recommends videos to its more than 1 billion users. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has called TikTok ‘a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.’” (Read more from “Leaked Internal Audio From TikTok Shows U.S. User Data Accessed From China Despite Denials: Report” HERE)

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