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Johnson & Johnson ends baby powder sales in US & Canada after lawsuits posit links to cancer… but will keep selling it elsewhere — RT World News

Johnson & Johnson will halt all sales of its talc-based baby powder in North America, after years of lawsuits claiming the product causes cancer – but, undeterred, the firm says it won’t stop selling it to the rest of the world.

The company announced the move in a statement on Tuesday, noting that it had decided to “permanently discontinue” the baby powder in the US and Canada to “prioritize high-demand products” amid the Covid-19 pandemic, attributing the fall in sales in part to “misinformation.”

“Demand for talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America has been declining due in large part to changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising,” the company said, adding that it would also stop selling around 100 other items in addition to the powder.

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While Johnson & Johnson insists it is “steadfastly confident” in the safety of its talc-based baby powder, vowing to “vigorously defend the product” from “unfounded allegations,” the company has faced a flurry of lawsuits from customers over the years alleging the powder contains cancer-causing agents like asbestos. Though the firm has emerged victorious from some of the suits, it has also been forced to pay out massive sums to plaintiffs in others, such as a case last February in which it was ordered to shell out $750 million to four cancer patients.

Deeming the decision a “victory for public health,” the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization slammed Johnson & Johnson for being slow to act and misleading customers, while calling on Congress to “ban asbestos once and for all.”

“Americans should be able to trust they are safe from asbestos. Johnson & Johnson [J&J] spent decades misleading the public to think their often asbestos-contaminated baby powder was safe when they knew it was not,”said the group’s president, Linda Reinstein.

A small and influential group of chemical companies in America still rely on asbestos and have stood in the way of a national ban of this deadly substance. We can’t wait for them to follow J&J and see the error of their ways.

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Despite some consumer safety advocates hailing the move as a win, however, the controversial product will continue to be sold “in other markets around the world,” Johson & Johnson said, where demand for the powder remains high and lawsuits are less common. The decision has left the company’s critics irked, some asking whether the world population beyond North America is “expendable.”

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News Sputnik

New Docs Reveal Links Between Firm That Spied on Assange and the CIA, Says Investigative Journalist

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning investigative journalist, author and founder of The Grayzone, an independent news outlet. He has obtained High Court documents regarding the ongoing Spanish criminal investigation into David Morales, the Ecuadorian ex-special forces member and CEO of the Spanish security firm UC Global, which was revealed to have been spying on Julian Assange, despite originally being hired to provide protection for the Ecuadorian Embassy.

The documents obtained by Blumenthal and The Grayzone have revealed previously unknown details regarding the connection between David Morales, UC Global and Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire campaign contributor to US President Donald Trump.

Sputnik: What’s new and significant about what you’ve discovered and revealed in relation to UC Global and its targeting of Julian Assange?

Max Blumenthal: What I have that’s new in this investigation for The Grayzone are details of the relationship between Las Vegas Sands, the company owned by ultra-Zionist Republican mega-donor casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the Trump administration, the CIA and UC Global.

And I show the central role of figures who are directors of Sheldon Adelson’s executive security team at Las Vegas Sands in serving as middlemen, apparently between American intelligence and UC Global, including someone who worked formerly as assistant director of the secret service who was commended by the CIA for his work, Brian Nagel. And also, Zohar Lahav who is the vice president of Sheldon Adelson’s executive protection team in managing David Morales on a day-to-day basis.

David Morales owner and director of UC Global

[It]’s pretty obvious. Sheldon Adelson isn’t very interested in Julian Assange. He’s interested in Israel and and building his own fortune.

So, why was this taking place? Why did it begin as soon as Trump entered office in January 2017? It appears because Las Vegas Sands was doing a favour for the Trump administration and specifically for CIA director Mike Pompeo, who is a close ally of Sheldon Adelson.

I zero in on this relationship. And I also provide new details with witness testimony – protected witness testimony –  that’s come out in this Spanish court, on the relationship with what these witnesses describe as American intelligence, or what David Morales of UC Global referred to as the “American friends”, and this operation, which consisted not just of illegal spying on Assange and his lawyers and US journalists, and even a US congressman, but also apparent robbery, and other crimes, which deserve to be investigated further by the court.

Sputnik: How did you make these latest discoveries in relation to UC Global?

Max Blumenthal: I made these discoveries through the documents that have been coming out in the Spanish High Court. Many of these documents are company backups made by former employees of UC Global who became disgruntled and upset by this apparently criminal operation.

Spy cam footage of Julian Assange and Rommy Vallejo Ecuador’s then-head of the National Intelligence Secretariat in a corridor in the Ecuadorian Embassy

A former business partner of David Morales has also provided testimony and documentation. And this case came about because, as I just mentioned, these former workers and former co-owner became disgusted by what David Morales was doing.

They went to Assange’s legal team, which was based in Spain, told them about what was happening and they went to a Spanish judge who then ordered a secret investigation, which resulted in the arrest of David Morales, I believe in October 2019.

Morales then had to hand over his cell phones. Now we have WhatsApp messages, emails. There’s so much there that corroborates the testimony of [Morales’] former employees. And, ultimately, I think this case should invalidate the US indictment of Assange and the attempt by the US to extradite him from the UK.

Sputnik: Why should everyday people care about these latest revelations; how, if at all, are they impacted by them?

Max Blumenthal: Ordinary people may not be that interested in this, and they should be, because ordinary people want to know what their governments are doing in their name, with their money. And WikiLeaks and the model that Julian Assange has created, along with Assange’s own personal willingness to challenge power, has provided us with so much knowledge about global criminality, specifically by the US government, violations of international law and subversion of other governments – meddling in their affairs and the corruption of US politics by at least one of the major parties.

So, there is a clear public interest in protecting WikiLeaks, but beyond that, there should be an interest on the part of every journalist, to protect the First Amendment in the US [Constitution] and to protect the global spirit of free speech.

Mike Pompeo, in his first address as CIA director in April 2017, outlined a campaign of countermeasures against WikiLeaks, branded Julian Assange a fraud and a top target, and called WikiLeaks a ‘hostile foreign intelligence agency’. There’s one line in his speech, which I think a lot of people have overlooked, and it’s when Pompeo said that “WikiLeaks can no longer use free speech as a defence”. Why does a CIA director get to decide who can use free speech as a defence and who doesn’t? Assange isn’t even a US citizen. But this is about removing free speech protections for all whistleblowers. So, anyone who calls out corruption.

And then beyond that, what my piece outlines is the targeting of all individuals connected to Assange, including the mother of his two children, who was having the diapers of her infant child stolen from trash bins. The friends of Julian Assange, from Pam Anderson to Randy Credico, were having their phones opened. Pam Anderson had her email password stolen. We saw Ecuadorian officials spied on simply because they were there. There’s evidence – according to one source – that an Ecuadorian official was robbed at gunpoint because they had in their possession details of a plan to grant Julian Assange diplomatic immunity through another country.

Ola Bini, who is a friend of Juliana Assange, a Swedish software developer and cyber activist was arrested on the same day as him and has been in jail ever since. Much of his time was spent there without charges, all because he was friendly with Assange. He was visiting him and they worked together to expose corruption in Ecuador. Bini was outlined as a target of Morales who was spying on Assange as well.

So the point is, it’s not only that whistleblowers are having their free speech protections taken away through this case, that journalism itself is being targeted. Assange is merely a publisher and would be the first person convicted of publishing classified documents in the US, but anyone connected to whistleblowers can now be targeted in order to get the whistleblower. And that should be terrifying. Their families, anyone. They’re clearly trying to make an example of Julian Assange. So this piece that I’ve written, this investigation, not only shows what Julian Assange was up against, it shows what we’re all up against, all of us who are trying to tell the truth and get to the bottom of the real workings of the national security state.

Sputnik: Should we expect more revelations from The Grayzone with respect to UC Global and its operations?

Max Blumenthal: I’m working on more stories related to this court case and related to the campaign carried out in the name of national security that apparently violated international law, many domestic laws and principles that any democracy should hold sacred.

But that’s all I can say for now.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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News NPR

FBI Finds Al-Qaida Links In Deadly Attack On Pensacola Base : NPR

The U.S. Department of Justice building.

Alastair Pike /AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice building.

Alastair Pike /AFP via Getty Images

During his rampage last December at a U.S. military base in Florida, the shooter paused to try to destroy his iPhone — a sign, authorities said, that the device held important clues.

The problem was, the FBI didn’t have the password — not for that phone or a second, badly damaged one found later. And Apple wouldn’t unlock them. The case quickly became part of a thorny, longstanding dispute that pits the requests of federal investigators against the privacy and security expectations of hundreds of millions of Apple customers.

More than four months later, U.S. authorities said Monday that they had cracked into the iPhones — without Apple’s help — and had uncovered new evidence of the shooter’s links to Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen. At a joint news conference, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray said their investigation was hampered by not having access to the phones earlier, and that the workaround in the Pensacola case was a one-off that didn’t solve the impasse with Apple.

“We did it ourselves,” Wray said. “Unfortunately, the technique that we developed is not a fix for our broader Apple problem. It’s of pretty limited application. But it has made a huge difference in this investigation.”

Wray said investigators recovered a trove of evidence from the phones belonging to 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a 21-year-old Saudi Air Force cadet who was part of a training program at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Wray said the information is helping authorities understand the scope of the gunman’s ties to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group’s affiliate in Yemen. He described the connections as significant but stopped short of saying the group “directed” the attack.

“It is certainly more than just inspired,” Wray said. “We know, for example, that he was sharing plans and tactics with them. We know that he was coordinating with them and providing an opportunity for them to take credit.”

Wray said Alshamrani was radicalized as far back as 2015 and stayed in touch with militants after moving to the United States. He said Alshamrani was a “meticulous” planner — the cadet took video while “casing” buildings on base in preparation for the attack, which killed three sailors and wounded eight other people.

Authorities say Alshamrani wrote a will that he shared with Al-Qaida associates so that they could claim credit. Weeks after the attack, the leader of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula released an audiotape saying the group had directed the attack; the group had a copy of the will and purported correspondence with Alshamrani.

Neither Wray nor Barr detailed how investigators finally got into the phones. But they said the technique was no substitute for better cooperation from Apple.

“Apple’s decision has dangerous consequences for public safety and national security and is, in my judgment, unacceptable,” Barr said.

Apple has previously disputed the Justice Department’s claims, saying in a statement in January that it had turned over “many gigabytes” of information related to the Pensacola shooter. Apple said authorities waited a month after the attack before contacting the company about the existence of the second phone and the FBI’s inability to access either of the two devices.

“We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers,” Apple said in the statement. “Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations.”

Civil liberties groups and others who support Apple’s stance note that this isn’t the first time authorities have broken into devices after Apple refused to budge. The ACLU — American Civil Liberties Union — issued a statement saying the innovations show that federal agencies don’t need the “backdoor” they’ve asked tech companies to engineer for years.

“Every time there’s a traumatic event requiring investigation into digital devices,” said the ACLU’s Brett Max Kaufman, “the Justice Department loudly claims that it needs backdoors to encryption and then quietly announces it actually found a way to access information without threatening the security and privacy of the entire world.”

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