McCain ends treatment
Arizona Senator John McCain has discontinued medical treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer, his family said on Friday. It is a likely indication that the war hero, presidential nominee and long-time leading lawmaker is nearing the end of his life. McCain has surpassed expectations for survival, but “the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict,” the family said. “With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment.” The six-term senator, who would turn 82 next week, has been away from the Capitol since December last year.
Lane weakens, risks remain
Hurricane Lane, which has threatened Hawaii for a week, is now a tropical storm, but meteorologists say that heavy rains could still wallop the islands with flash flooding and landslides. Lane dumped nearly 91cm of rain on parts of the Big Island over the past two days, forcing residents to flee their flooded homes in waist-high water. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that people need to be vigilant and not let their guard down. Upper-level winds known as shear swiftly tore Lane apart south of Honolulu. Lane has maximum sustained winds of 110kph as it slowly heads west, the National Weather Service said. As flooding hit the Big Island, brush fires broke out in areas of Maui and Oahu susceptible to flames.
Trolls targeted vaccine row
Russian trolls and bots on Twitter attempted to influence the debate over vaccine safety, with the aim of sowing discord among the US public ahead of the 2016 election, researchers reported this week. “Did you know there was a secret government database of #vaccine-damaged children? #VaccinateUS,” said one of the tweets mentioned in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers studied the frequency of vaccine mentions by accounts suspected of being automated bots or linked to Russian propaganda campaigns. Researchers did not find a lot of tweets about vaccines — among a sample of 1.8 million tweets from July 2014 to September last year, there were just 253 containing #VaccinateUS, for example — but the study showed that “health communications have become ‘weaponized’: public health issues, such as vaccination, are included in attempts to spread misinformation and disinformation by foreign powers.” As seen in other controversial topics online, the messages were divided about evenly between pro and anti-vaccine. This was part of the strategy to promote discord in the public, researchers said.
Ex-CDC director arrested
Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Tom Frieden, a leading public health expert instrumental in the US’ response to the Ebola crisis and to legislating against smoking, was on Friday arrested and charged with sexual harassment. He was arrested on charges of forcible touching, sexual abuse and harassment of a 55-year-old woman in New York City’s Brooklyn Heights. He is accused of touching the woman’s buttocks and squeezing without her consent in October last year. The woman filed a complaint last month, police said. Frieden surrendered his passport and is next due in court on Oct. 11, prosecutors said. He is currently president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a US$225 million initiative at global health non-profit Vital Strategies.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of