April 2019 News Round Up


North Korea ‘preparing rocket
launch’, images suggest
North Korea may be preparing to launch a missile or rocket, satellite images of a facility near the capital Pyongyang suggest. The pictures are of a site known as Sanumdong – a facility where North Korea has assembled some of its intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellite-launching rockets, US broadcaster NPR
Grande America: France braces
for oil spill damage after ship blaze

French authorities are rushing to contain a major fuel spill off the coast of Brittany after an Italian container ship sank following a fire. Rescue teams from France and the UK saved all 27 people aboard the Grande America after it sank after a major blaze broke out on Tuesday,.
Poisoning probe after mysterious death of ‘bunga bunga’ model A murder investigation is underway into the mysterious death of a Moroccan model who regularly attended ex-Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous ‘bunga bunga’ parties.
‘Fake news’ sent out by government department
British government officials forged documents to produce “fake news stories” during the Cold War, newly released files show. The Information Research Department (IRD) was the Foreign Office’s secret propaganda unit.
NASA issues space herpes warning as virus reactivates in astronauts
NASA has issued a warning about space herpes after a study found the virus was reactivating in crew aboard Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions.
‘Imane Fadil death: No radioactivity in ‘bunga bunga’ model
The mystery surrounding the death of a Moroccan model who was due to testify against Silvio Berlusconi over his “bunga bunga” sex parties has deepened after no traces of radioactivity were found in her body.
Death toll rises to 62 in China chemical plant blast
A massive explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China with a long record of safety violations has killed at least 62 people and injured hundreds of others, 90 of them seriously.
New York county declares measles outbreak emergency
An executive order pulled close to 6,000 unvaccinated children out of schools. Nearly 17,000 doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (M.M.R.) vaccine were given in 26 weeks. There was a public health campaign in which community officials, doctors and rabbis testified to the importance of immunizations.
Take over pharma to create new medicines, says top adviser
Health experts have rounded on pharma companies as having “endless talk and no action” when it comes to antibiotic R&D, as governments around the world continue to sound alarm bells over a potential antimicrobial resistance “apocalypse”.
Grenfell Tower study: Cancer-causing chemicals found nearby

New analysis of soil, debris and char samples following the Grenfell Tower fire has uncovered significant environmental contamination in the surrounding area. This includes known cancer-causing chemicals and respiratory sensitisers, highlighting the need for a detailed investigation and long-term health screening to fully establish potential health risks to those in the local area.
Why are university students catching mumps?
Mumps – a contagious viral infection that causes swelling of the glands – has been in the news this week following a confirmed outbreak at two universities.
US asked North Korea to hand over all nuclear weapons
On the day their talks in Hanoi collapsed last month, US President Donald Trump handed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a piece of paper that included a blunt call for the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States, according to a document seen by Reuters news agency.
Kim Jong-nam murder: Vietnamese woman pleads guilty to lesser charge
A Vietnamese woman charged in the airport assassination of the half brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was sentenced on Monday after pleading to a lesser charge of causing bodily harm.
Army Takes Command Of Military’s Counter Chemical Team

The Army has taken command of the military’s counter Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) team from the Royal Air Force. The team’s skills played a key role in decontaminating Salisbury following the attack with the nerve agent Novichok last year.

Will Saudi Arabia go nuclear?
Last year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman warned that “if Iran develops a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit”. Now, Saudi Arabia is said to be a few months away from completing its first nuclear reactor and some arms control experts are alarmed.
US asked North Korea to hand over all nuclear weapons
The Ministry of Defence (the Department) uses nuclear-powered submarines, including those with and without nuclear weapons, to meet its operational requirements. Since 1980, it has removed 20 submarines from service and replaced them with newer ones. It has committed to handling the resultant nuclear liabilities responsibly and disposing of submarines “as soon as reasonably practicable”.
Charlie Rowley: Novichok victim meets Russian ambassador
Novichok victim Charlie Rowley has said he “didn’t really get any answers” after meeting with Russia’s ambassador in London to question him about the death of his partner Dawn Sturgess.
Third premature baby dies at Glasgow hospital after contracting infection
A third premature baby has died at a hospital in Glasgow after a rare infection was found at a neonatal unit. An incident team was set up earlier this year to investigate three cases of the Staphylococcus aureus blood stream infection at the Prince Royal Maternity Hospital, following the deaths of two premature babies.
Measles outbreak: How fake news is fuelling US health emergency
“The Vaccine Safety Handbook” appears innocuous, a slick magazine for parents who want to raise healthy children. But tucked inside its 40 pages are false warnings that vaccines cause autism and contain cells from aborted human foetuses.
French court finds Bayer’s Monsanto liable for farmer’s sickness
A French court has ruled that Monsanto was liable for the sickness of a farmer who inhaled one of its weedkillers, in another legal setback for the Bayer-owned business over health claims.
Aussie travellers warned to be on alert for measles
Nearly 100 people have been diagnosed with measles this year, not far off the total diagnosed for all of 2018. In just a few months 97 people have become infected in Australia, six off last year’s total of 103.


Dormant viruses activate during spaceflight – NASA investigates
SHerpes viruses reactivate in more than half of crew aboard Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions, according to NASA research published in Frontiers in Microbiology. While only a small proportion develop symptoms, virus reactivation rates increase with spaceflight duration and could present a significant health risk on missions to Mars and beyond.
Spacefaring bacteria prove no match for new space station antimicrobial coating
Astronauts leave behind many things when they boldly go. Bacteria, however, go with them. Extreme spaceflight conditions can force these bacteria to toughen up, while simultaneously lowering the immune defenses of the stressed, isolated crew. These effects – and the risk of infection – grow with mission duration.
Bacteria May Travel Thousands of Miles Through the Air Globally
Bacteria may travel thousands of miles through the air worldwide instead of hitching rides with people and animals, according to Rutgers and other scientists. Their “air bridge” hypothesis could shed light on how harmful bacteria share antibiotic resistance genes.
Smartphone test spots poisoned water risk
A smartphone device could help millions of people avoid drinking water contaminated by arsenic. Researchers have developed a biosensor that attaches to a phone and uses bacteria to detect unsafe arsenic levels.
Titan Missile Museum takes visitors back to Cold War times
Offered on a first-come, first-served basis every day of the year except Christmas and Thanksgiving. The starting point for most visitors.
Microbes survive in space outside the ISS

Earth is a very special planet. It is the only celestial body in the Solar System on which we know life exists. Could there be life on other planets or moons? Mars is always the first to be mentioned in this context; it has many properties in common with Earth, and in its geological past water also flowed over its surface.
Fish slime: An untapped source of potential new antibiotics

As current antibiotics dwindle in effectiveness against multidrug-resistant pathogens, researchers are seeking potential replacements in some unlikely places. Now a team has identified bacteria with promising antibiotic activity against known pathogens — even dangerous organisms, such as the microbe that causes MRSA infections — in the protective mucus that coats young fish.
Anti-evolution drugs could keep gambling bacteria from developing antibiotic resistance

Researchers found that one mechanism by which antibiotics induce drug-resistance mutations in bacteria is by triggering the generation of high levels of toxic molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Additionally, treatment with a ROS-reducing drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for other purposes prevented these antibiotic-induced mutations.
A bad bout of flu triggers ‘taste bud cells’ to grow in the lungs

Most people who weather an infection with influenza fully recover after a week or two. But for some, a severe case of the flu can actually reshape the architecture of their lungs and forever compromise their respiratory function.
Blue light might just take the “super” out of superbugs

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterium that causes infection in various parts of the body, is often called a “superbug” thanks to its ability to dodge many common antibiotics. Although most MRSA infections aren’t serious, some can be life-threatening, sometimes resulting in amputation of the infected appendage.
Nanobionic plants could detect chemicals

Science-fiction writers have long envisioned human­–machine hybrids that wield extraordinary powers. However, “super plants” with integrated nanomaterials may be much closer to reality than cyborgs.
Scientists invent threads to detect gases when woven into clothing

Tufts University engineers have developed a novel fabrication method to create dyed threads that change color when they detect a variety of gases. The researchers demonstrated that the threads can be read visually, or even more precisely by use of a smartphone camera, to detect changes of color due to analytes as low as 50 parts per million.
Trap Modifications Collect Mosquito Waste for Virus Detection

Public health officials could soon be able to detect viruses in mosquitoes in the wild much more quickly and easily—thanks to the insect equivalent of a urine test.
Plasma flows may provide the missing ingredient to a cheaper, more compact route to nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion powers the stars and offers the promise of unlimited, clean energy on Earth. But controlled thermonuclear fusion in the lab usually requires large and expensive magnetic field coils to stably confine burning plasma, ionized nuclei that collide to initiate nuclear fusion.
DRI researchers successfully remove harmful hormones from Las Vegas wastewater using green algae

A common species of freshwater green algae is capable of removing certain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) from wastewater, according to new research from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Las Vegas.
Using Bacteria to Prevent Potholes Caused by Road Salt

Tiny bacteria could soon be chipping in to keep roads from chipping away in the winter, according to Drexel University researchers who are looking into new ways to make our infrastructure more resilient.
Unique oil eating bacteria found in world’s deepest ocean trench

Scientists from the University of East Anglia have discovered a unique oil eating bacteria in the deepest part of the Earth’s oceans – the Mariana Trench. Together with researchers from the China and Russia, they undertook the most comprehensive analysis of microbial populations in the trench.

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