Meghan Markle, Prince Harry Welcome Their First Child Together

The royal baby is here! 

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry welcomed their first child, a son weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces, on Monday. 

Mother and child are doing well, the palace announced. 

“The Duchess’s mother, Doria Ragland, who is overjoyed by the arrival of her first grandchild, is with Their Royal Highnesses at Frogmore Cottage,” a statement from the palace said

The statement added that “The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Lady Jane Fellowes, Lady Sarah McCorquodale and Earl Spencer have been informed and are delighted with the news.” 

The new royal baby is seventh in line to the throne. 

Meghan went into labor early on Monday, with Harry by her side, the royal family said in an announcement prior to the baby’s birth. 

The duke and duchess had an announcement of their own on their new Instagram account, thanking the public “for their shared excitement and support during this very special time in their lives” and assuring royal fans that more details (e.g., the name of their little one) will be provided in the coming days. 

The odds are high on Albert, Arthur and Philip.  

The prince and former “Suits” actress announced that they were expecting their first child in October, about five months after the royal wedding on May 19. 

The two previously announced that their birth plan would be much different from The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s, as they wanted the event to be more “private.”

Arianne Chernock, an associate professor of modern British history at Boston University, previously told HuffPost that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will have a lot of latitude with naming their little one. 

“The child will be seventh in line to the throne, which puts them in a very different position than say, William and Kate,” Chernock said. 

Congratulations are in order for the happy couple. 

Congratulations are in order for the happy couple. 

“I think we will see some nods to a more American spirit in some part of the name. I’m not saying it would be the first name, but in one of the given names, at least, they’re going to honor both sides,” she added.

“I think the names will be meaningful to them, wherever they look for inspiration. I think, obviously, it’s something that’s very purposeful and that they would take on as a meaningful way of communicating something about their vision for their family.”

This story has been updated with more details from the announcement.

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Measles Outbreak Continues To Spread Across U.S. With 764 Cases Reported

The number of measles cases in the U.S. this year continues to climb, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting 764 cases in 23 states as of late last week.

The latest numbers, announced on Monday, show 60 more cases since a week earlier.

“This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000,” the CDC said in a release.

There have been 764 measles cases reported in 23 states so far this year, the CDC said Monday.

There have been 764 measles cases reported in 23 states so far this year, the CDC said Monday.

Pennsylvania is the latest state to join the list. It was reported last week that a Pittsburgh-area man, recently diagnosed with the disease, entered two grocery stores while contagious, local health officials said.

The 23 states that have reported measles cases to the CDC are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

The CDC has attributed the unusually high number of cases to travelers who contract the disease overseas and then bring it to U.S. communities that have under-vaccinated populations. The states of Washington and New York have seen significantly large outbreaks, with those in New York some of the largest and longest-lasting since 2000.

“When measles is imported into a community with a highly vaccinated population, outbreaks either don’t happen or are usually small,” the CDC has said. “However, once measles is in an under-vaccinated community, it becomes difficult to control the spread of the disease.”

The health agency has warned that an estimated 30% of reported measles cases have one or more complications, and that for every 1,000 reported cases, there’s approximately one case of encephalitis and two to three deaths.

Maximum Securitys Co-owner Says He Will Appeal Kentucky Derby Loss

A co-owner of Maximum Security, the horse that was stunningly disqualified from the Kentucky Derby just minutes after being named the first-place finisher on Saturday, said he will appeal his horse’s historic loss.

“We are going to file an appeal today with the state racing commission,” Gary West said Monday on NBC’s “Today.”

Maximum Security was the first horse to cross the finish line but was disqualified for interference after it was determined that the horse and jockey had veered into the path of other horses. 

The disqualification, the first of its kind in the race’s history, made the initial second-place finisher, Country House, the winner.

Luis Saez rides Maximum Security across the finish line of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Country House was later declared t

Luis Saez rides Maximum Security across the finish line of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Country House was later declared the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified.

“It was literally like the old TV show, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all within a 22-minute period of time,” West said. “We were stunned, shocked and in complete disbelief. It had never been done before.” 

West criticized the operators of Churchill Downs racetrack, where the annual race is held, and accused them of being “greedy” for having so many horses on the field. “It’s like a rodeo out there,” he said of the conditions.

Twenty horses compete each year in the 145-year-old race, according to the event’s website, which also describes the field size as larger than most horse races.

West said the race should be limited to 14 horses, which is the maximum number of horses allowed to compete in the upcoming Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.

Gary West, co-owner of Maximum Security, said he will appeal his horse's disqualification from the Kentucky Derby on Saturday

Gary West, co-owner of Maximum Security, said he will appeal his horse’s disqualification from the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

West’s planned appeal to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission may be dead on arrival, however, as race rulings by stewards are declared “final and not subject to appeal,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

West told the Daily Racing Forum on Sunday that he would appeal to the federal court if he couldn’t appeal to the racing commission. 

Marc Guilfoil, executive director of the KHRC, said he agrees with the stewards’ decision “100 percent” and that any attempt to overturn it would fail.

“It was the right and correct call,” he told the Courier-Journal. “It wasn’t a popular call. [But] it’s an integrity and a safety issue and they did what the rules provide [for] them to do.”

West said racing fans shouldn’t expect to see Maximum Security compete at the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. 

“There’s no Triple Crown on the line for us and there’s no reason to run a horse back in two weeks when you don’t have to,” he told NBC.

Shocking New Report On Loss Of Nature Paints A Terrifying Picture For The Future Of Humanity

Planet Earth has been put on red alert by hundreds of leading scientists who have warned that humanity faces an existential threat within decades if the steep decline of nature is not reversed.

The conclusions of the greatest-ever stock-taking of the living world, published on Monday, show that ecosystems and wild populations are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing completely, and up to 1 million species of land and marine life could be made extinct by humans’ actions if present trends continue.

Food, pollination, clean water and a stable climate all depend on a thriving plant and animal population. But forests and wetlands are being erased worldwide and oceans are under growing stress, says the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the United Nations’ expert nature panel, in the landmark global assessment report. The three-year study, compiled by nearly 500 scientists, analyzed around 15,000 academic studies that focused on everything from plankton and fish to bees, coral, forests, frogs and insects, as well as drawing on indigenous knowledge.

If we continue to pollute the planet and waste natural resources as we have been doing, it won’t just affect people’s quality of life but will lead to a further deterioration of earth’s planetary systems, said the IPBES scientists.

A Hawksbill turtle in the Maldives. This species is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservat

A Hawksbill turtle in the Maldives. This species is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — the last category before “extinct.”

The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed. This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world,” said professor Josef Settele, a research ecologist and co-chair of the 1,800 page report, the summary of which was agreed to by 132 governments meeting in Paris this weekend, including the U.S.

The scale and rapid speed of this decline of nature is unprecedented in human history and is likely to continue for at least 50 years, say the authors of the global study, but can still largely be turned around if governments, businesses and individuals urgently commit to working together to conserve and restore nature, and to use fewer natural resources better.

It will require a concerted worldwide effort to change the way we live, said IPBES chair Sir Robert Watson, a former chief scientist at NASA who is now with the U.K. government

“The whole world is focused on climate change but loss of biodiversity is just as important,” said Watson. “You can’t deal with one without the other. There is a recognition now that biodiversity is an environmental issue, but it’s also about economics and development, too. We have to reform the economic system.”

The global assessment report, which will not be published in full until later this year (only the conclusions have been released), is unique among governmental biodiversity studies because it identifies both the direct drivers of nature’s losses ― such as climate change, agricultural expansion, pollution and the exploitation of oceans and forests ― and the underlying causes.

These indirect drivers are more controversial and include world population, which has doubled since 1970 (from 3.7 billion to 7.6 billion people), the tenfold increase in global trade over the last five decades, the sheer amount of goods that people now buy in rich countries, as well as supply chains, the endless pursuit of economic growth, damaging subsidies and the sharp growth of new technologies, all of which put demands on natural resources.

The Fimiston Open Pit gold mine in Western Australia. Land use change – including mining, logging and agriculture &ndas

The Fimiston Open Pit gold mine in Western Australia. Land use change – including mining, logging and agriculture – is the biggest driver of biodiversity loss.

Unless both direct and indirect drivers are addressed simultaneously, there is little hope of the transformational change needed to avert a planetary crisis, said global assessment lead author Kai Chan, professor at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia.

“The present system [of environmental protection] has not worked well enough. Governments must get serious about reining in the power of business to regulate itself. We must also focus on supply chains. At present, nature is undermined every time we buy something through the raw materials used or the way goods are produced,” he said.

“Few governments fully understand the magnitude of the problems we face. Most deny the reality of the existential threat we face,” Chan added.

The global assessment report also shows:

• Urban areas have more than doubled in size since 1992, and 100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost from 1980 to 2000.

• Around 25% of animal and plant species are threatened, and around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades if no action is taken.

• The current rate of species extinction is at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years.

• Nearly half the live coral cover on coral reefs has been lost since the 1870s, with losses in recent decades accelerating due to climate change.

• Two-thirds of the oceans are under stress, and over 85% of wetlands area has been lost.

• The frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have increased in the past 50 years, while the global average sea level has risen by between 6 and 8 inches since 1900.

• Climate change is projected to become increasingly important as a direct driver of changes in nature and its contributions to humanity in the next decades.

• There are around 2,500 conflicts over fossil fuels, water, food and land currently occurring worldwide.

Corals grow right up to the edge of a mangrove forest in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Mangroves are one of the world's most threate

Corals grow right up to the edge of a mangrove forest in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Mangroves are one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems.

The global assessment report is a critical piece of science, Joyce Msuya, acting executive director of the U.N.’s Environment Program, told HuffPost. “It is a reminder that nature is not a luxury but is the building block of economic growth, food security, livelihoods and health. It tells us there is a window of opportunity to change track.”

The authors collectively call for bold, far-reaching economic and social changes, including paying for large-scale ecological restoration of degraded lands, and strengthening international targets to control climate change and biodiversity loss.

NGOs are among those echoing the call for major, transformative changes. “We must end this war against nature. We must eat less meat, which takes up most agricultural land at the expense of nature, and we must stop treating our oceans like a waste dump while also exploiting their resources to the point of collapse,” said John Sauven, director of Greenpeace.

The good news, said Watson, is that governments have accepted the report. “They know the problem. They cannot disagree with the evidence because they have signed off on it. Now we need action.”

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U.S. Deploys Aircraft Carrier And Bombers To Send Unmistakable Message To Iran

The United States will send an aircraft carrier and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran, national security advisor John Bolton announced on Sunday.

Bolton, who is known for his hawkish stance on Iran, did not specify what “warnings” the United States was responding to; however, a U.S. official with knowledge of the situation told CNN that threats had been made against “both U.S. maritime and land-based forces in the Middle East.”

Although there has been no indication that “any action by Iran is imminent,” the deployments are meant as a deterrent, the official told the news network.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed on Sunday that the U.S. had seen “escalatory actions from the Iranians,” AP reported. He refused to elaborate on what these actions entailed, yet insisted that “we have good reason to want to communicate clearly about how the Iranians should understand how we will respond to actions they may take.”

U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln

U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln

Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a D.C.-based think tank that’s long pushed for tougher action against Iran, suggested the deployments could be linked to the recent escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip. He told Politico that there had been “real concern in the [Trump] administration and among allies, including Israel, that the regime in Iran is preparing to strike U.S. interests or U.S. allies.”

Dubowitz said the administration was worried that the attacks against Israel in Gaza by Hamas and Islamic Jihad ― both groups believed to have backing from Iran ― could be a ploy by the Iranians to distract the Israelis from other potential strikes.

Pompeo disagreed and told reporters that the deployments were “separate” from the Gaza attacks. 

Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Heads To Prison To Begin 3-Year Sentence

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Cohen, the former lawyer, media attack dog and all-around fixer for President Donald Trump, is scheduled to begin serving a three-year prison sentence Monday for crimes including campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments made on Trump’s behalf.

Cohen faces a 2 p.m. deadline to report to the Federal Correctional Institution, Otisville, a federal prison in the countryside 70 miles northwest of New York City. A minimum-security prison camp there has become a haven for white-collar criminals.

Cohen, who has been disbarred, is trading plaid blazers for khaki prison garb after trying and failing in recent weeks to get his sentence delayed or reduced.

His legal team asked House Democrats last month to intercede after Cohen testified on Capitol Hill, but they were reticent to do so. Federal prosecutors in New York were also no help, Cohen’s lawyers said.

Cohen was originally scheduled to start his sentence in March, but a judge granted a two-month delay so he could recover from surgery and get his affairs in order.

Cohen, 53, is the only person charged with a crime in connection with the hush-money payments to women who allegedly had affairs with Trump.

Federal prosecutors have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 election. Trump denies that he had trysts with either woman.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow, as well as to charges of tax evasion and bank fraud.

Once he gets to prison, Cohen will undergo medical and mental health screenings and be assigned a job, such as mowing the grounds or cleaning up the visiting room. He’ll also get sets of clothing, bedding and towels.

This undated photo provided by the Bureau of Prisons shows the Federal Correctional Institution, Otisville in Mount Hope, N.Y

This undated photo provided by the Bureau of Prisons shows the Federal Correctional Institution, Otisville in Mount Hope, N.Y. 

At the prison camp, about 115 inmates sleep in bunks lined up in barrack-style halls, instead of individual or two-man cells like in higher-security facilities. Recreational amenities include tennis courts, horseshoes and bocce ball.

Forbes once ranked Otisville as one of “America’s 10 Cushiest Prisons,” but former employees and inmates say it’s hardly “Club Fed.” Inmates are still doing time and they’re still separated from their families and friends.

“There’s no free time to work on your book, or whatever,” said former employee Don Drewett. “You get your downtime when you’re supposed to be sleeping or when you can exercise, but that only happens at certain windows of the day. It’s not where in the middle of the day you can just opt to not go to work and go work out. That’s not the way that works.”

Cohen’s fellow inmates include “Jersey Shore” star Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, who wraps up an eight-month tax fraud sentence in September, and Fyre Festival fraudster Billy McFarland, who’s serving a six-year sentence.

But Cohen should avoid acting like he’s still in the spotlight, said Jack Donson, a former Otisville case manager who advises white-collar criminals on what to expect in prison.

Some high-profile inmates have been known to hire other prisoners to do their laundry and heat up their meals, but that’s looked at by staff as a sign of laziness and entitlement.

So too are inmates who try to set themselves up with the cushiest accommodations by having a doctor write a note suggesting they sleep in a bottom bunk or wear soft shoes.

If there’s a legitimate medical need, it should come up at intake, Donson said.

“You assume the role of an inmate,” said Donson. “You’re cordial to everybody. You’re respectful to everybody. You do your time. You ask for nothing from staff. Nothing from inmates. You accept nothing from inmates. You’re nobody. Seriously.”

If Cohen can’t adjust, Donson said, “his time is going to be miserable.”

Dow Nightmare Monday Looms on $200 Billion Trump Chinese Tariff Threat

By The Dow Jones has shown strong momentum from May 2 to 3, recording a recovery of nearly 300 points in merely two days. However, U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods could hinder the performance of the U.S. equities market.

The Dow Jones has recovered strongly from May 2 to 3, adding nearly 300 points (source: Yahoo Finance)

Intensifying Geopolitical Tension Poses Risk on Dow

Throughout the past two months, many strategists were optimistic towards the short-term future of the Dow and the rest of the U.S. equities market due to strong fundamental factors that can sustain the momentum of stocks.

The strong performance of tech stocks like Microsoft and finance stocks such as BlackRock further fueled the confidence of investors in the market as the two key industries led the U.S. economy to engage in a powerful start to 2019.

The Federal Reserve’s decision to maintain the current benchmark interest rate until the year’s end despite signs of economic growth as seen in the rapidly declining unemployment rate served as the primary catalyst for the Dow’s recovery in April.

But, the U.S.-China trade deal always remained an unknown variable that could gear the Dow towards the downside or the upside. With virtually every important fundamental factor laid out for the U.S. equities market to bounce off of, a comprehensive trade deal has been expected to lead to a big rally for the Dow.

On May 5, U.S. President Donald Trump stated that the U.S. government will impose a higher tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, raising the tariff from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Trump said:

For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA of 25% on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10% on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods. These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The 10% will go up to 25% on Friday.

325 Billions Dollars of additional goods sent to us by China remain untaxed, but will be shortly, at a rate of 25%. The Tariffs paid to the USA have had little impact on product cost, mostly borne by China. The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!

In recent months, China and the U.S. are said to have discussed key roadblocks in the trade deal such as enforcement strategies and the request of the U.S. government to alter the industrial policy of China.

Speaking to the WSJ, Cornell University economics professor Eswar Prasad said that the latest threats of Trump will complicate the trade discussions and could potentially worsen the relationship between the two nations.

“Trump’s latest threats will further complicate the negotiations and heighten distrust between the two sides as they try to work through their differences and hammer out a deal. Trump has upped the ante yet again, blindsiding the Chinese who thought they were negotiating towards a pullback of existing tariffs, not fending off new ones,” Prasad said.

The Dow Looking for a Bloody Start

According to several reports, the Dow futures have plunged by more than 500 points following the release of Trump’s statement.

The Dow showed signs of a weakening footing after Trump’s Stephen Moore, President Trump’s Fed pick, pulled out of from being considered for a spot on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

The intensifying geopolitical tension between the U.S. and China, which is said to have been one of the main catalysts for the Dow’s poor performance in early 2019, is expected to have a negative impact on the near-term trend on stocks.

Bitcoin Nation: 22 Million US Crypto Traders Dwarf Global Rivals

By CCN: The overwhelming majority of crypto traders come from the United States, according to surprising new research from DataLight.

The firm analyzed traders using the top 100 Bitcoin exchanges and found that over 22 million users hail from America. The next in line is Japan with 6 million, followed by South Korean’s 5 million users.

US Dominates Crypto Trading Industry

Collectively, it takes almost six other countries to reach the same number of traders as the US.

Notably, Korean exchanges like Bithumb report massive volume, but this volume is likely almost entirely fake. Several exchanges also engage in “transaction mining,” where users are rewarded for conducting trades, which means pumped-up volume.

bitcoin exchange users by countrybitcoin exchange users by country

The US boasts more than triple the crypto traders of Japan, its next closest rival. | Source: DataLight.

DataLight’s report notes some interesting findings, including the impressive number of Turkish Bitcoin traders.

“Turkey for example, has in the last year seen wild fluctuations in the value of the Turkish Lira, as turbulent political conditions rock the country. Interestingly, on one day in August 2018, a 10% drop in the value of the Lira was accompanied by a marked spike in volumes on bitcoin exchange LocalBitcoins.”

CCN, incidentally, recently reported on problems that people are having with Turkish exchange Sistemkoin.

Turkey sports a population of nearly 80 million people, 2.4 million of whom trade. This is about 3% of their citizens, compared with 7% of the US population trading cryptos. Meanwhile, nearly 6% of all people in the UK trade cryptocurrency. These figures are quite high, but the report also doesn’t account for the frequency of trading. The data would be much more interesting if it were colored in light of how heavily each country trades.

‘Crypto Nation’ Hits 68 Million Citizens and Just Keeps Growing

Congress bitcoin blockchain cryptocurrencyCongress bitcoin blockchain cryptocurrency

How long will it be until political candidates must court the crypto vote? | Source: Shutterstock

The United States remains a regulatory nightmare for crypto traders, however, with several agencies claiming jurisdiction over the trade. Recently, FinCEN, a party rarely heard from in crypto anymore (we hear more from the SEC these days), fined a Bitcoin trader. Law enforcement agencies, the SEC, and CFTC – among others – also take part in regulating cryptocurrencies.

The situation is so confusing that the Token Taxonomy Act has been re-introduced with an eye toward simplifying the whole asset class. Under the proposed law, in-kind exchanges up to $600 would not be considered taxable income, and the SEC would lose jurisdiction over crypto tokens.

America’s largest exchange is Coinbase, which boasts more than 10 million of the 22 million overall users.

Several data points would be helpful to better analyze this research. As stated before, the frequency of trading would be useful. Additionally, we’d love to know the amount of trading, as well as how long these reported users have been trading. For example, how many new users were added during the 2017 bull run, and how many have since left?

According to DataLight, there are a total of around 68 million crypto traders across the world. This is more people than live in the United Kingdom.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao believes the number of crypto users in the future will outpace the number of Internet users today.

As the movement grows, one wonders what sort of political power such a population might wield down the line. As for today, it seems a few representatives and some outlandish presidential candidates are the best we can muster. But how long will it be until politicians are forced to court the crypto vote?