Mon, Jan 26, 2015 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

Agencies

UNITED STATES

Pair seek balloon records

Two balloonists took flight from Japan on Saturday in a bid to break world records for distance and duration for gas balloon travel, in what they hope will be at least a six-day trans-Pacific flight reaching the US West Coast, officials said. The distance record of 8,383km for gas balloons was set on the only previous manned trans-Pacific flight, in 1981, while the duration record of more than 137 hours aloft was set in 1978 by a team crossing the Atlantic. “It goes to the philosophy of man,” said Ray Bair, an official observer with the National Aeronautic Association based at Mission Control in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “You always try to attain new heights and distances. That’s what this is all about.” Balloon pilots Troy Bradley, an American, and Russian Leonid Tuikhtyaev, collectively dubbed “Two Eagles,” took off after bad weather and poor wind trajectories had repeatedly delayed their launch, Bair said.

ECUADOR

Correa launches Web site

President Rafael Correa on Saturday unveiled a Web site meant to confront the “smearing” of his government on social media. The site will send alerts to subscribers concerning accounts where the government is being “defamed,” and allow users to report attacks on the president, he said. The government decided “to declare itself ready in the battle for dignity, for the truth on social networks,” Correa said during a weekly report. “If you know the identity of who is insulting, smearing, we will put them in the [weekly report] link or show them on networks in order to see if, when outed, the insulting stops,” he said. The site displays seven videos lauding government achievements, and a template to register for the site.

CANADA

Blind mother sees baby

A video that went viral last week showed a legally blind mother getting to look at her newborn child for the first time thanks to vision-enhancing glasses. The video posted to YouTube shows 29-year-old Kathy Beitz seeing her newborn boy with the aid of a bulky black headset. “For the first baby that I get to actually look at, being my own is very overwhelming,” Beitz said in the video. Beitz has genetic macular degeneration known as Stargardt disease. She was able to see her new son with the aid of eSight glasses that enhance video in real time. “She gave birth and she instantly wanted to see him,” said Yvonne Felix, Beitz’s sister who posted the video about the moment.

Felix, who has the same disease, is raising money so more people can access the expensive glasses at makeblindnesshistory.com.

BRAZIL

Coffee protein relieves pain

Scientists have discovered a protein in coffee that has effects similar to pain reliever morphine, researchers at the state University of Brasilia and state-owned Brazilian Agricultural Research Corp Embrapa said on Saturday. Embrapa said its genetics and biotech division, teaming up with the university’s scientists, had discovered “previously unknown protein fragments” with morphine-like effects in that they possess “analgesic and mildly tranquilizing” qualities. The company added tests on laboratory mice showed that the opioid peptides, which are naturally occurring biological molecules, appeared to have a longer-lasting effect on the mice than morphine itself. Embrapa said the discovery has “biotechnological potential” for the health foods industry and could also help to alleviate stress in animals bound for the slaughterhouse.

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