BRIEF-Amazon, UK government partner on using small drones

2016-07-26 02:23:33

July 25 Amazon.Com Inc : * Amazon and UK government aim for sky with partnership on drones Source text for Eikon: Further company coverage: (Bengaluru Newsroom: +1 646 223 8780)

Zika mystery widens as Utah caregiver contracts virus

2016-07-19 14:39:10

CHICAGO U.S. health officials are investigating the mysterious case of a person in Utah who contracted Zika while caring for an elderly man infected with the virus who died last month.Federal and state health officials said on Monday it is not clear how the individual contracted Zika, a virus that is most typically transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito and occasionally through sex with an infected person.The person had not traveled to an area with active Zika transmission nor had sex with a person who had recently returned from such a place. Health officials say they are not aware of any mosquitoes in Utah that are capable of transmitting the virus.“The new case in Utah is a surprise, showing that we still have more to learn about Zika,” said Dr. Erin Staples, CDC's medical epidemiologist who is in Utah leading an investigation into how the infection occurred.“Fortunately, the patient recovered quickly, and from what we have seen with more than 1,300 travel-associated cases of Zika in the continental United States and Hawaii, non-sexual spread from one person to another does not appear to be common.”Experts outside the CDC say the most likely possibility is that the person came into contact with blood or urine or other bodily fluids while caring for the infected person."We are still doing a lot of investigation to understand whether Zika can be spread person-to-person through contact with a sick person," said Dr. Satish Pillai of the CDC, who is investigating the case. Gary Edwards, director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, said the infected individual is a family contact of the man who died.The cause of the deceased person's death is still under investigation, but the man was infected with Zika at the time of death and officials believe the virus was a contributing factor. He contracted Zika on a trip to a country with active transmission."We know that the patient had contact with the deceased patient while the deceased patient was very ill. The exact nature of that contact, we are still investigating," Edwards said.CDC tests showed extremely high levels of virus in the deceased man's blood, which were more than 100,000 times higher than seen in other samples of infected people. "This is a very unique situation with these elevated viral loads that we haven't previously seen," Pillai told reporters in a telephone briefing.Dr. Michael Bell, a CDC medical epidemiologist, said it was not clear whether the man's underlying condition had diminished his immune system, allowing the virus to replicate unchecked, or if the virus simply overpowered his immune system.Bell said CDC is taking the high viral load issue very seriously, but said it is "too early to make a clear statement about what we think could have happened."Dr. Amesh Adalja, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said it will be important to know whether the family contact of the deceased man had any skin lacerations or skin disease that might have allowed the virus access to the patient's blood. "We know bodily fluids like saliva and urine can harbor the virus, he said.Health officials are also investigating whether mosquitoes might have played a role. Tom Hudachko, director of communications for the Utah Department of Health, said state officials are not aware of any mosquitoes known to carry the Zika virus within Utah. He said there were a few Aedes aegypti mosquitoes - the kind that carry Zika - discovered in traps in the southwestern parts of the state several years ago, but there have not been any since.Utah does not have any Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the other type that has been found capable of transmitting Zika. Health officials are doing mosquito trapping and testing near the deceased patient's home "to make sure this is not a potential route of transmission," Hudachko said.As of July 13, 2016, 1,306 cases of Zika have been reported in the continental United States and Hawaii; none of these have been the result of local spread by mosquitoes. Of these, 14 are believed to be the result of sexual transmission and one was the result of laboratory exposure. (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Bernard Orr and Cynthia Osterman)

Dallas police chief expresses worry about armed civilians in Texas

2016-07-12 06:44:14

DALLAS The Dallas police chief said on Monday that Texas state laws allowing civilians to carry firearms openly, as some did during the protest where five officers were fatally shot, presented a rising challenge to law enforcement, as he stepped into America's fierce debate over gun rights.Dallas Police Chief David Brown, during a news conference, also gave new details about his department's use of a bomb-carrying robot to kill Micah Johnson, the 25-year-old former U.S. Army reservist who carried out the sniper attack that also wounded nine other officers last Thursday.A shooting incident in Michigan on Monday underscored the prevalence of gun violence in America and the danger faced by law enforcement, even as activists protest fatal police shootings of two black men last week in Louisiana and Minnesota.Two sheriff's bailiffs were shot to death at a courthouse in St. Joseph in southwestern Michigan, and the shooter was also killed, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey told reporters.By Monday evening, protesters were marching again in several American cities, including Chicago, Sacramento, California, and Atlanta, where local news footage showed a number of protesters being arrested after street demonstrations north of downtown. President Barack Obama and others reiterated their calls for stricter guns laws after last month's massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, but many conservatives responded that such measures could infringe on the U.S. Constitution's protection of the right to bear arms. Texas is known for its gun culture, and state laws allow gun owners to carry their weapons in public. Some gun rights activists bring firearms to rallies as a political statement. Some did that at Thursday's march in Dallas."It is increasingly challenging when people have AR-15's (a type of rifle) slung over, and shootings occur in a crowd. And they begin running, and we don’t know if they are a shooter or not," Brown said. "We don’t know who the 'good guy' versus who the 'bad guy' is, if everybody starts shooting." Seeing multiple people carrying rifles led police initially to believe they were under attack by multiple shooters.Brown did not explicitly call for gun control laws, but said: "I was asked, well, what's your opinion about guns? Well, ask the policymakers to do something and I'll give you an opinion." "Do your job. We're doing ours. We're putting our lives on the line. Other aspects of government need to step up and help us," he added.'SIMPLY MISTAKEN'Rick Briscoe, legislative director of gun rights group Open Carry Texas, said Brown was "simply mistaken" in viewing armed civilians as a problem."It is really simple to tell a good guy from a bad guy," Briscoe said. "If the police officer comes on the situation and he says: 'Police, put the gun down,' the good guy does. The bad guy probably continues doing what he was doing, or turns on the police officer." Police used a Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) Mark5A-1 robot, typically deployed to inspect potential bombs, to kill Johnson, 25, after concluding during an hours-long standoff there was no safe way of taking him into custody, Brown said."They improvised this whole idea in about 15, 20 minutes," Brown said."I asked the question of how much (explosives) we were using, and I said ... 'Don't bring the building down.' But that was the extent of my guidance."The incident is believed to have been the first time U.S. police had killed a suspect that way, and some civil liberties activists said it created a troubling precedent. But Brown said that in the context of Thursday's events, "this wasn't an ethical dilemma for me."The attack came at the end of a demonstration decrying police shootings of two black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and near St. Paul, Minnesota. Those were the latest in a series of high-profile killings of black men by police in various U.S. cities that have triggered protests. In Dallas, a vigil was held for the slain officers on Monday evening. In Chicago, images and footage on social media and local news stations showed about 500 protesters marching through downtown after holding a quiet sit-in in Millennium Park that spilled into the streets and a rally near City Hall.In Atlanta, local media footage showed a number of handcuffed protesters being loaded onto a police bus surrounded by armed officers and emergency vehicles with lights flashing. Television station WSB-TV reported that police started arresting demonstrators marching on Peachtree Road at about 8:30 p.m.In Sacramento, about 300 people were marching peacefully on Monday evening. Earlier in the day, in an incident not linked to protests, Sacramento police said officers fatally shot a man carrying a knife after he charged at police.Johnson served with the U.S. Army Reserve from 2009 to 2015 and served for a time in Afghanistan. He had been disappointed in his experience in the military, his mother told TheBlaze.com in an interview shown online on Monday."The military was not what Micah thought it would be," Delphine Johnson said. "He was very disappointed. Very disappointed."The Dallas police chief, who is black, urged people upset about the conduct of police to consider joining his police force."Get off that protest line and put an application in, and we'll put you in your neighborhood, and we will help you resolve some of the problems you're protesting about," he added. (Additonal reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Fiona Ortiz and Justin Madden in Chicago, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, and David Beasley in Atlanta; Writing by Daniel Wallis, Scott Malone and Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

Red, white and extra blue as tight security marks July 4th celebrations

2016-07-05 04:19:27

NEW YORK The United States celebrated the July Fourth holiday on Monday with parades, baking contests and picnics draped in red, white and an extra layer of blue, as police ramped up patrols because of concerns about terrorism and gun violence.Millions of Americans marked independence from Britain with celebrations as boisterous as a music-packed party by country music legend Willie Nelson for 10,000 people at a race track in Austin, Texas, and as staid as colonial-era costumed actors reading the Declaration of Independence at the U.S. National Archives in Washington. "It's a good day for reflecting on the positive things about America - the sense of freedom that you can go after and achieve whatever you want," said Helen Donaldson, 48, the mother of a multi-ethnic family of four adopted teens living in Maplewood, New Jersey.Donaldson, a white Australian immigrant, cheered with her two New Jersey-born African-American daughters, both 12 and dressed in red, white and blue, as a recording of the Star Spangled Banner played to kick off a children's relay race. Nearby, in the baking contest tent, 13-year-old Nate Fisher entered his cherry blueberry tart into competition."I have high hopes," he said, flashing a smile.History was made in the traditional hotdog-eating contest at New York's Coney Island when long-time champion Joey "Jaws" Chestnut took back the Mustard Yellow International Belt from last year's upstart winner Matt Stonie. Chestnut set an unofficial new world record by downing 70 hotdogs in 10 minutes - topping his previous record of 69 franks. In the women's division, Miki Sudo successfully defended her title by eating 38 hotdogs in 10 minutes. With the holiday taking place days after attacks in Baghdad, Dhaka and Istanbul, the New York Police Department deployed eight new "vapor wake" dogs, trained to sniff out explosives on a moving target in a crowd.The department's presence this holiday was boosted by nearly 2,000 new officers just days after they graduated on Friday from the New York City Police Academy."You're going to see a lot of people in heavy vests, helmets and long guns and they can respond at a moment's notice to any incident," NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill told a news conference. "There's also a lot you won't see." CHICAGO BRACED FOR VIOLENCEPolice in Chicago, which has seen a spike in gun murders this year, announced a stepped up presence with more than 5,000 officers on patrol over the long weekend, traditionally one of the year's most violent, said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Local media said that by early Monday evening at least 33 people had been shot over the holiday weekend, most of them in tough neighborhoods on the city's south and west sides. Dry weather forecasts across the country thrilled fireworks lovers, although some spots in Michigan have been so rain-starved that pyrotechnic shows were canceled in a handful of communities near Detroit because of the risk of fires. A 19-year-old tourist in New York's Central Park suffered a severe foot wound on Sunday after an apparent homemade firework exploded when he jumped off a rock and stepped on the device, authorities said.In Compton, California, a 9-year-old girl's hand had to be amputated when she was injured after unwittingly picking up a lit firework, local media said. In New York City, more than a million people were set to pack balconies, rooftops and the East River's banks for the 40th annual Macy's Fireworks display, which the department store said would showcase more than 56,000 pyrotechnic shells and effects.The musical accompaniment features the United States Air Force Band playing patriotic numbers including "This Land is Your Land" and "Stars and Stripes Forever," and Grammy-winning vocalist Jennifer Holliday will sing "America the Beautiful." (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus and Daniel Wallis in New York, Fiona Ortiz in Chicago, Adam DeRose in Washington, and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Bill Rigby and Phil Berlowitz)

Supreme Court firmly backs abortion rights, tosses Texas law

2016-06-28 11:24:57

WASHINGTON The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Texas abortion law imposing strict regulations on doctors and facilities in the strongest endorsement of abortion rights in America in more than two decades.The 5-3 ruling held that the Republican-backed 2013 Texas law placed an undue burden on women exercising their right under the U.S. Constitution to end a pregnancy, established in the court's landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.The abortion providers who challenged the law said it was medically unnecessary and specifically intended to shut clinics. Texas officials said it was intended to protect women's health. The ruling means similar laws in other states are probably unconstitutional and could put in jeopardy other types of abortion restrictions enacted in various conservative states."The decision should send a loud signal to politicians that they can no longer hide behind sham rationales to shut down clinics and prevent a woman who has decided to end a pregnancy from getting the care she needs," said Jennifer Dalven, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.President Barack Obama, whose administration backed the abortion providers in the court challenge, said in a statement he was "pleased to see the Supreme Court protect women's rights and health" and that restrictions like those in Texas "harm women's health and place an unconstitutional obstacle in the path of a woman's reproductive freedom."Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court's four liberal members in the ruling, with the remaining three conservatives dissenting. The court declared that both key provisions of the law - requiring abortion doctors to have difficult-to-obtain "admitting privileges" at a local hospital and requiring clinics to have costly hospital-grade facilities - violated a woman's right to an abortion.Writing for the court, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer said, "We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.""Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution," Breyer added.Deferring to state legislatures over "questions of medical uncertainty is also inconsistent with this court's case law," Breyer added. The ruling in the case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, represented the most vigorous affirmation of abortion rights in the United States since a 1992 ruling affirmed a woman's right to have the procedure.On a warm sunny summer day, hundreds of people on both sides of the issue converged on the Supreme Court building, with abortion rights advocates dancing and celebrating after the ruling. "We're ecstatic. The reality is today women won," abortion rights activist Marcela Howell said.The law was passed by a Republican-led legislature and signed by a Republican governor in 2013. Ten states currently have admitting privileges requirements on the books while six have laws requiring hospital-grade facilities. Lower courts have blocked admitting privileges provisions in five states and halted facilities regulations in two states. "The decision erodes states’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost. Texas' goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women," Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.Since the law was passed, the number of abortion clinics in Texas, the second-most-populous U.S. state with about 27 million people, had dropped from 41 to 19.The Supreme Court has appeals pending in two cases involving admitting privilege laws in Mississippi and Wisconsin on which it could act as soon as Tuesday.     The Texas law required abortion doctors to have "admitting privileges," a type of formal affiliation, at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the clinic so they can treat patients needing surgery or other critical care.The law also required clinic buildings to possess costly, hospital-grade facilities. These regulations covered numerous building features such as corridor width, the swinging motion of doors, floor tiles, parking spaces, elevator size, ventilation, electrical wiring, plumbing, floor tiling and even the angle that water flows from drinking fountains.PUBLIC OPINION SPLITAmericans remain closely divided over whether abortion should be legal. In a Reuters/Ipsos online poll involving 6,769 U.S. adults conducted from June 3 to June 22, 47 percent of respondents said abortion generally should be legal and 42 percent said it generally should be illegal. Views on abortion in the United States have changed very little over the decades, according to historical polling data.The last time the justices decided a major abortion case was nine years ago when they ruled 5-4 to uphold a federal law banning a late-term abortion procedure.Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which led the challenge to the Texas law, said, "Every day Whole Woman’s Health treats our patients with compassion, respect and dignity - and today the Supreme Court did the same. We’re thrilled that today justice was served and our clinics stay open."Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Twitter called the ruling "a victory for women in Texas and across America.""This fight isn't over: The next president has to protect women's health. Women won't be 'punished' for exercising their basic rights," she said, a dig at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who once suggested women who get illegal abortions should face "some sort of punishment." The presidential election is Nov. 8.Some U.S. states have pursued a variety of restrictions on abortion, including banning certain types of procedures, prohibiting it after a certain number of weeks of gestation, requiring parental permission for girls until a certain age, imposing waiting periods or mandatory counseling, and others."It's exceedingly unfortunate that the court has taken the ability to protect women’s health out of the hands of Texas citizens and their duly-elected representatives," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said in a statement.Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito dissented. The normally nine-justice court was one member short after the Feb. 13 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who consistently opposed abortion in past rulings. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Adam DeRose, Jon Herskovitz and David Ingram; Editing by Will Dunham)

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