Highly toxic rocket fuel, spewed out by launches at Russia's space base in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, is causing serious illness among people who live nearby, according to an unpublished study reported today in the British science journal Nature. \nThe study, which has been conducted by a team of Russian scientists but has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, says that levels of endocrine disease and blood disorder in polluted areas are twice the regional average, the report says. \nThe work, led by epidemiologist Sergey Zykov, focused on children in the Altai Republic, a mountainous region on the southern fringes of Siberia. This area was chosen because of pollution from unburnt fuel, notably hydrazine, which is used to power the early stages of some Russian launchers. \nZykov compared the health records of about 1,000 children in two polluted areas for 1998-2000, comparing them with 330 records from a nearby unpolluted control group. \nHe concluded that children in the worst-affected areas were up to twice as likely to need medical attention during this time, and needed to be treated twice as long, Nature said. \nAccording to Zykov's calculations, dozens of liters of unburned fuel are sprayed over several square kilometers of land with every launch. \n"These propellants are nasty, toxic substances," Nature quoted European Space Agency (ESA) expert Fabio Caramelli as saying. \n"A tablespoon of hydrazine in a swimming pool would kill anyone who drank the water," Caramelli said. \nThe Baikonur Cosmodrome is run by the Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos but both NASA and ESA pay to have craft launched from there. \nRosaviakosmos told Nature that it monitored the health of local populations and found no problem with the launches. \nAreas where any unburned launch fuel falls are very sparsely populated and, in any case, any ill health there is likely to be due to poor living standards, the agency said. \nEpidemiologists outside Russia told Nature that the data was difficult to verify, mainly because of the disorganized state of Kazakhstan's medical records, although the problem of the launch pollution itself deserved international attention.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable