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Friday, January 11, 2013

France Intervenes in Mali

French troops have begun military intervention in central Mali to support the African nation’s government against Islamist rebels who have taken control of the North. French President François Hollande, who received support from Britain and the U.S., announced Friday evening he sent troops on the ground in the afternoon, invoking protection for 6,000 French citizens who live in Mali and adding the country is facing a “terrorist aggression.” The news came after reports the rebels advanced further south. France is acting at the request of President Dioncounda Traoré and with the backing of African nations. The operation will include air strikes.

Obama Announces Faster Pullout from Afghanistan

After a meeting with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, U.S. President Barack Obama said he will be able to accelerate the withdrawal of troops from the South Asian nation as progress has been made by local security forces. With Karzai’s approval, Obama also announced a smaller number of troops will remain after 2014, with the mission of advising and training the Afghan military in its struggle against Al Qaeda. Detention centers will also be placed under Afghan authority. Karzai and Obama announced during a press conference the creation of a Taliban office in Qatar to facilitate peace talks.

Flu at Epidemic Levels in the U.S.

The flu has reached epidemic levels in the U.S., the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today, with 7.3 percent of last week’s death caused by flu or pneumonia. The illness had “elevated” activity in nine of the 10 U.S. regions, the only exception being California and the Southwest. The CDC added this year’s flu vaccine’s effectiveness is of 62 percent (measured by the likelihood of patients consulting with their doctors), although it covers 90 percent of the flu strains that are circulating. “The flu vaccine is far from perfect, but it is by far the best tool to prevent the flu,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden at a conference call with journalists. He urged people to get vaccinated or to consult with their doctors at the first symptoms.

73% of Savile’s More than 450 Victims Were Children, Report Shows

A report by the U.K. police and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) showed former BBC Presenter Jimmy Savile assaulted more than 450 people, 73 percent of whom were minors, including 28 who were under 10 years old. The accusations spanned over 54 years, from when Savile was 29 to when he was 83 in 2009. “The sheer scale of Savile’s abuse over six decades simply beggars belief,” said NSPCC Director Peter Watt in a written statement. “He is without doubt one of the most prolific sex offenders we have ever come across and every number represents a victim that will never get justice now he is dead.” The report also showed the police and the Crown Prosecution Service missed an opportunity to go after Savile while he was still alive after four victims came forward between 2007 and 2009.

Physics Could Help Fight Cancer

Physics, not biology, could bring answers to control the spread of cancer, says Physicist and Astrobiologist Paul Davies, who is also the principal investigator at the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology at Arizona State University. Patients rarely die of the primary tumors themselves, Davies explains, but rather of their metastatic spread. If treatment strategy shifted from seeking complete removal of the cancer (or cure) to managing and preventing its spread, it is likely that it would cease to be a fatal disease. Davies argues that despite their varied nature, cancer cells also behave in fairly predictable ways. Acting on pressure, pH, electric field, temperature and oxygen concentration, among many other variables, could slow or even stop the spread of the cancer.

Weekend Read: The Tip of the Spear

A reporter looks back at the way his life changed during the publication of his 24-part investigation into the Church of Scientology in the mid 1980s. In the Los Angeles Magazine.

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