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February 2019 News Round Up

News:

Salisbury poisoning: EU sanctions Russian suspects Russia has threatened “retaliatory measures” after the European Union slapped sanctions on senior members of its intelligence agency, the GRU.
Salisbury Novichok attack board game ‘beggars belief’ A Russian toymaker has released a board game called Our Guys in Salisbury, featuring the same cities in Europe visited by the GRU agents accused of carrying out last year’s nerve agent attack.
Antibiotic resistance plan to fight ‘urgent’ global threat The NHS has unveiled a five-year national action plan pledging to reduce its use of antibiotics by 15% by 2024 after the health secretary declared drug-resistant superbugs are now as big a threat as climate change or war.
Influenza vaccinations down as Wales flu season begins Flu vaccination numbers are down in Wales, with health experts warning influenza is beginning to circulate. Almost 1,000 people have been affected by influenza this flu season so far.
On-the-run Salisbury Novichok hoaxer jailed A dealer who claimed he was poisoned with novichok in Salisbury has been jailed for 11 years for his role in supplying £60,000 of drugs. Alex King, 42, was absent for the sentencing at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, having gone on the run in November.
‘Huge mistake’: Fears of arms race as US, Russia suspend INF pact In an escalating standoff over nuclear weapons, Russia and the United States have suspended compliance with the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, prompting fears of a new arms race that analysts and politicians say could push the world “much closer” to a nuclear war.
Measles outbreak declared in Philippines An outbreak of measles is spreading across the Philippines — with more than 1,500 cases of the disease and 26 deaths reported in recent weeks, authorities said Thursday. The capital region of Metro Manila has seen 441 cases, with five deaths, CNN Philippines reports, while many other areas across the country have also been affected.

Measles in Europe: record number of both sick and immunized
More children in the WHO European Region are being vaccinated against measles than ever before; but progress has been uneven between and within countries, leaving increasing clusters of susceptible individuals unprotected, and resulting in a record number of people affected by the virus in 2018. In light of measles data for the year 2018 released today, WHO urges European countries to target their interventions to those places and groups where immunization gaps persist.
Ocado warehouse fire: Homes evacuated amid toxic explosion fears Houses have been evacuated amid fears of an explosion at a burning Ocado warehouse. The flames have been raging at the delivery firm’s robotics plant in Andover, Hampshire, since the early hours of Tuesday. A 1,600ft exclusion zone is in effect and homeowners within it have been moved away.
North Korea Protecting Nuclear Missiles, U.N. Monitors Say, Ahead of Summit Talks North Korea is working to ensure its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities cannot be destroyed by military strikes, U.N. monitors said ahead of a meeting between U.S. and North Korean officials to prepare a second denuclearization summit.
How Russia Undermined Over 30 Years of Nuclear Arms Control Why did Russia argue that the United States should keep the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty intact and then recently declare its own suspension of the treaty? After all, it has deployed many of the very missiles banned by the treaty.

Skripal poisoning: Possible third intelligence officer involved Bulgarian officials have revealed they will investigate reports about a third suspect in last year’s poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Salisbury.

Technology:

Scientists in Hong Kong claim antiviral breakthrough Scientists in Hong Kong say they have made a potential breakthrough discovery in the fight against infectious diseases – a chemical that could slow the spread of deadly viral illnesses.
Traitor bacteria help build graphene water filter that kills other bacteria More than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas, which is why access to clean water is one of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges.
Automation speeds up production of nuclear space fuel To help power American’s deep space probes, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has automated key steps in the process to make plutonium-238 (PU-238) nuclear fuel for radiothermal generators (RTG). By turning over the production of neptunium oxide-aluminum pellets to machines, the agency says fuel production will increase to 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) per year by 2025.
Antibiotic-resistant superbug gene found in remote Arctic soil Soil samples taken in the Kongsfjorden region of Svalbard have now confirmed the spread of blaNDM-1 into the High Arctic – an ARG originally found in Indian clinical settings, which confer multidrug resistance (MDR) in microorganisms.
Bacteria found to sacrifice themselves to protect the colony from antibiotics Bacteria have multiple strategies to survive antibiotics: developing genetic resistance to the drugs; delaying their growth; or hiding in protective biofilms. New results from researchers at Princeton and California State University-Northridge (CSUN) have shed light on yet another approach: self-sacrifice.
Red-eyed mosquitoes engineered to break the chain of Zika virus transmission Zika virus caused more than 4000 cases of serious birth defects in 2015 and is still a risk to millions of people.

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