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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Scientific Discoveries New and Newly Recognized

Trials of a new malaria vaccine halved cases of the disease in children aged 5-7 months and cut the cases in babies aged 6-12 weeks by a quarter. Malaria currently kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. Experts are now optimistic that a vaccine could be introduced as early as 2015.

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert jointly won the Nobel Prize for Physics today, for their theory on how particles acquire mass. They separately theorized that, in order for subatomic particles to hold together and thus create matter, a then-undiscovered particle must create an energy field that drags those particles together. Last year, scientists at CERN confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson. 

Yesterday, James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman and Dr. Thomas C. Südhof won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for each figuring out a key element of the machinery by which cells transport major molecules and release them at the correct time.

IMF Cuts Growth Forecasts

As it has done with 9 of its past 10 forecasts, the IMF cut its forecast for global growth today. Overall, established economies have strengthened while emerging ones like China and India have weakened, which the IMF cited as the reason for the cut.

Unfortunately, even the low growth rate the IMF now predicts - 2.9% - is threatened by the looming US debt ceiling crisis. Foreign officials have been pleading with the US not to risk the entire global economy by defaulting on all or part of its debt.

Sanity has yet to prevail in the US, however, as small businesses reel, the CDC is rendered unable to tackle a salmonella outbreak and grieving military families are denied benefits. Thankfully, Congressional gyms remain open.

Protests Turn Violent in Brazil

For the second time in one week, clashes broke out between striking teachers and the Brazilian police. Rio de Janeiro’s teachers have been striking for higher pay for 46 days. Teachers say that while private contracts for classroom essentials have been renewed, there is less and less money for the teachers themselves, some of whom are expected to teach up to 10 topics.

Yesterday, a peaceful rally of 50,000 people turned violent once night fell.  Small groups of masked, “black bloc” anarchists threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at banks, stores, consulates and restaurants, set up street barricades and set fire to a passenger bus. Violence also erupted in Sao Paolo during a demonstration in support of the Rio teachers. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and percussion grenades to disperse the protesters.

Russian Court Sentences Putin Critic to Psychiatric Hospital

A Russian court has convicted Mikhail Kosenko of “calling for mass riots” and sentenced him to an indefinite term of forced psychiatric treatment. It based its rational on the belief that Kosenko had not been in control of his actions during a protest before President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration. 28 people were arrested at the protests that day.

The conviction comes despite video footage clearly showing Kosenko as a bystander to clashes between police and protesters. Additionally, the officer named as the victim in the case has refused to identify Kosenko as his attacker.

Dozens Killed in Central African Republic Violence

The CAR army reported that 23 people had been killed in clashes between armed civilians and the rebels who now control the country. Other witnesses claimed that twice that many people had been killed. The death toll did not include rebel deaths.

The attacks seemed to have been a rebel retaliation against supporters of ousted president Francois Bozize, who had initially attacked the village of Gaga. The waves of attacks on villages in Ouham province have forced more than 170,000 people to flee their homes.

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