International: Samoa Recalls MMR Vaccine after Death of Two Infants

The Samoan government has issued a recall for a vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) following the deaths of two infants.

Two children, both aged 12 months, reportedly passed away only hours after receiving the vaccine shot.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi described the deaths as “devastating” and called for an inquiry. “There are already processes that will determine if negligence is a factor,” Malielegaoi said in a statement.

“And if so, rest assured those processes will be implemented to the letter to ensure that such a tragedy will not be repeated and those responsible will be made to answer.”

Samoan health authorities have also stopped all children’s vaccination in the island nation.

Rasul Baghirov, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Samoa representative said there have been no other reported cases of deaths related to the vaccination batch supplied to Samoa. The batch, which was sent from India by the UNICEF, had been safety checked by the WHO.

“The severe reaction following the administration of MMR vaccine is very, very rare — that’s why we want to really investigate and find out what caused the deaths here in Samoa,” said Baghirov.

International: Bill Clinton Said He Didn’t Owe An Apology to Monica Lewinsky

Former US President Bill Clinton said he didn’t owe an apology to Monica Lewinsky after the 1998 scandal.

In an interview with NBC’s Today show, Clinton told Craig Melvin that he had never privately apologised to Lewinsky and did not feel any need to. Clinton was interviewed alongside his co-author James Patterson to promote their new novel, The President is Missing.

“I have never talked to her,” Clinton said. “But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That’s very different. The apology was public.”

Public attention to Clinton’s scandal, along with the allegations of sexual harassment and assault from several women, has been renewed after the rise of the #MeToo movement.

Clinton praised the movement but admitted to having some reservations about some of its outcomes. “I like the #MeToo movement,” Clinton said. “It’s way overdue. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything. I still have some questions about some of the decisions that have been made.”

Considering the movement, Clinton said he would still approach the accusations made against him in the same way. “If the facts were the same today, I wouldn’t [handle it any differently],” said Clinton. “I don’t think it would be an issue because people would be using the facts instead of the imagined facts.”

In a Vanity Fair essay earlier this year, Lewinsky wrote that she had started to view the affair with Clinton, which she previously characterised as consensual, in a different light. “Now, at 44, I’m beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern,” she wrote.

America: Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Erupts

Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has erupted on Thursday, shooting ash and smoke about 9,100 metre into the air.

While a rain kept the ash from going far, US Geological Survey geologist Michelle Coombs said “additional larger, powerful events” are to be expected.

The eruption occurred after two weeks of volcanic activity on the island, where lava flow has destroyed dozens of homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate.

Officials handed out 18,000 masks to protect residents from particulates, with more to be distributed soon. Locals in the area have been advised to stay home, with no further evacuations necessary at this point.

Hawaii Governor David Ige still encouraged visits from tourists, as the international airports in Hilo and Kona remain open.

“I would like to also remind the rest of the world as well as the rest of the state, Hawaii Island continues to be open for business,” Ige said. “The eruption site and the lava flows are in a very small portion of the island.”

Technology: New 4D Printer Unveiled

A team of researchers have developed a 4D printer, a progress that promises to bring changes in aerospace, medicine and other industries.

The 4D printer is able to print 3D objects which can change shape after exposure to heat, humidity and/or light, and then revert back to its original form. Furthermore, whereas most commercial printers can only print 4D structures in one material only, the new printer is able to bring together different varieties.

The team presented its creation at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) late March.

“We are on the cusp of creating a new generation of devices that could vastly expand the practical applications for 3-D and 4-D printing,” said team leader H Jerry Qi, who is also a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Our prototype printer integrates many features that appear to simplify and expedite the processes used in traditional 3-D printing.

“As a result, we can use a variety of materials to create hard and soft components at the same time, incorporate conductive wiring directly into shape-changing structures, and ultimately set the stage for the development of a host of 4-D products that could reshape our world.”

The team is currently working with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to find out the technology’s suitability for printing prosthetic hands in children with malformed arms.

“Only a small group of children have this condition, so there isn’t a lot of commercial interest in it and most insurance does not cover the expense,” Qi said. “But these children have a lot of challenges in their daily lives, and we hope our new 4D printer will help them overcome some of these difficulties.”

The printer, which was funded by HP, the National Science Foundation, the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and Northrop Grumman, cost approximately US$350,000 to build, Qi revealed.

The creation received positive response at the meeting. “We just had a conversation where we were dreaming of that kind of machine,” said Geoff Spinks, materials engineering professor at the University of Wollongong. “I’d imagine in the near future we might have 16 different types of printheads, or even more.”

International: Cambridge Analytica Suspends Alexander Nix following Election Staging Brags

Data mining company Cambridge Analytica has suspended its chief executive Alexander Nix after he was caught bragging about manipulating elections in a tape.

In a hidden camera footage set by UK’s Channel 4 News, the firm’s executives were seen pitching tactics to entrap political opponents and boasting about running election campaigns across the world, including in Kenya in 2013 and 2017.

To a reporter who posed as a fixer for candidates in Sri Lanka, the executives talked about the way the company operated, including offering bribes, spreading false information about the opponents, and sending “some girls around to the candidate’s house”.

Mark Turnbull, managing director of Cambridge Analytica’s political division, also spoke about the firm’s role in Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign in the last two of Kenya’s elections, including providing research, rebranding the party and writing manifesto and speeches.

“We’d stage the whole thing,” Turnbull said in the video.

Cambridge Analytica continues to receive heavy scrutiny, following the revelation by whistleblower Chris Wylie this week that the firm tapped personal information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts without permission for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The firm, which is partly owned by conservative hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, said Channel 4’s report “edited and scripted to grossly misrepresent the nature of those conversations and how the company conducts its business.”

However, the company’s board said Nix will still be suspended effective immediately pending a full independent investigation.

“In the view of the board, Mr Nix’s recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 and other allegations do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation,” the statement read.

“We have asked Julian Malins QC to lead this investigation, the findings of which the Board will share publicly in due course.”

Nix’s suspension came as a British parliamentary summoned Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to testify about how the social media giant allowed the company to access user data. More US politicians also call for Zuckerberg to testify before the congress.

International: Trump’s Pick for CIA Chief Takes Heat for Alleged Links to Torture

President Donald Trump’s pick for CIA chief, Gina Haspel, reportedly oversaw a secret prison in Thailand where terrorist suspects were tortured by waterboarding.

If approved by the US Senate, Haspel will become the first woman to lead the intelligence agency, replacing Mike Pompeo, who is reassigned as the secretary of state.

Haspel has spent more than 30 years working for CIA with extensive overseas experience, and is widely respected across the intelligence circles. However, she started receiving heavy scrutiny on her links to the secret prison after her appointment as Pompeo’s deputy in February 2017.

Associated Press reported that according to anonymous officials, Haspel briefly ran the black site prison in 2002, where two terrorism suspects, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri allegedly underwent waterboarding and slamming. Three years later, Haspel ordered the destruction of the 92 videos of the interrogation.

Haspel’s nomination has been widely criticised by politicians from both parties. Republican Senator John McCain, who was tortured in the Vietnam war, said, “Ms Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process.”

Fellow Republican Susan Collins, who is a part of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she is undecided on whether to support the nomination. “[Haspel] certainly has the expertise and experience as a 30-year employee of the agency,” said Collins. “But I’m sure there are going to be some questions raised.”

Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, who served in the Iraq War, said Haspel’s nomination was “even worse” than that of Pompeo’s. “Not only did she directly supervise the torture of detainees, but she also participated in covering it up by helping to destroy the video evidence,” Duckworth said in a statement. “Her reprehensible actions should disqualify her from having the privilege of serving the American people in government ever again, but apparently this president believes they merit a promotion. I could not disagree more.”

Haspel has not addressed these concerns. “I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Haspel said in a statement. “If confirmed, I look forward to providing President Trump the outstanding intelligence support he has grown to expect during his first year in office.”

National: Rare Thomas Edison Cables Unearthed in Brisbane

Excavators in Brisbane have found 134-year-old rare electrical cables with links to light bulb inventor Thomas Edison.

The cables, which were laid under William Street to provide electricity to the parliamentary precinct, were removed on Tuesday to allow the new Queen’s Wharf casino complex development to go ahead.

The “Edison tubes” were designed by the late inventor and built by his American company. Brisbane was the third city to have the technology after London and New York.

“We were the first place in the southern hemisphere to have this technology, and just the third in the world,” said supervising archaeologist Tina King.

“It’s a milestone for Brisbane’s development as a city and we’re making sure to take the utmost care in the conservation of these important artefacts.”

The tubes were made of cast iron casing, asphaltum-based pitches, and two to three copper cores.

Parts of the cables will be housed in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, Brisbane’s Commissariat Store Museum in Brisbane, the Highfields Pioneer Village in Toowoomba, and Parliament House as well as the Science Centre in London and the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in New Jersey, US.

International: The Queen’s Baton Visits Sydney for 2018 Commonwealth Games

The Queen’s Baton is visiting Sydney today as a part of its Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games journey.

Swimmer Ian Thorpe, cricketer Glenn McGrath and Australian rugby union player Shannon Parry are among the baton’s bearer in the city. The relay will begin at Government House from 3pm to go through the Opera House, CBD, King’s Wharf and the Australian Maritime Museum.

The baton will continue its journey to other NSW cities for the next three days, including Penrith, Wollongong, Kiama and Batemans Bay.

Since leaving the Buckingham Palace in March last year, the baton has travelled through about 70 Commonwealth countries and territories.

The baton will reach its final destination on the Gold Coast on April 4, where the Queen or a representative will read the message within to officially open the Games.

International: New Excavation Begins in Buddha’s Nepal Hometown

A new excavation mission has been started in Buddha’s hometown, Tilaurakot, to uncover more evidence of its heritage significance.

Nepal’s Department of Archaeology begun the excavation earlier this month to identify important sections of King Suddhodan’s Royal Palace in Tilaurakot, where Gautam Buddha spent 29 years of his life. The excavation, which is the fourth one that the state has managed since 2014, is expected to take 55 days.

The current excavation project also involves experts from UK’s Durham University, Lumbini Development Trust, and students of Tribhuvan University and Lumbini University.

The department’s officer Ram Bahadur Kunwar said the project will be carried out in two spots within the central complex of Tilaurakot Palace, and beside Samayamai Temple.

In 1996, the Nepalese government proposed for Tilaurakot to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List for its cultural significance.

International: 3,500-Year-Old Mummy Found in Luxor, Egypt

Two ancient tombs dating back 3,500 years have been discovered in Luxor, Egypt.

The two tombs – containing linen-wrapped mummy, paintings, masks and figurines among others – were originally discovered in the 1990s by German archaeologist Frederica Kampp, but the Egyptian archaeological mission only began its excavations recently.

The first tomb, designated Kampp 161, was a single-shaft burial containing a mural as well as artefacts honouring the Egyptian god Osiris. It was estimated to date to the era between the reign of King Amenhotep II and the one of King Thutmose IV (1427-1388 BC).

The other tomb, Kampp 150, contained a mummified person with unknown identity which was estimated to date back to the 17th-18th Dynasty (1580-1292 BC).

The discovery of the tombs is hoped to revive the country’s declining tourism industry following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, according to AP News.