March 23-29 Weekly News


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  March 23, 2021  

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Olympic Torch Relay

The Tokyo Olympics torch relay started. The Games were postponed due to coronavirus but they will go ahead in July. Japan's women's football team carried the torch in the first leg. It began in Fukushima, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. The torch is made of aluminium recycled from housing built for survivors of the disasters. Fukushima was chosen as the start of the relay to show it has recovered.

The head of Japan's Olympic organizing committee said: "The flame will embark on a 121-day journey and will carry hopes...and wishes for peace." She asked people to look at live broadcasts of the relay and not travel to watch it because of COVID 19. Spectators must clap rather than cheer. Japan's Prime Minister wants to stage a "safe and secure" Olympics in spite of the pandemic. He said: "We will do our utmost on coronavirus measures."


Earth Safe from Asteroid Hit for 100 Years

NASA confirmed that asteroids will not be a danger to Earth for 100 years. This is good news for people worried about the end of the world. NASA has been checking a 335-metre asteroid called Apophis for 17 years. They thought it could be dangerous. They put it on their list of the most dangerous asteroids. They thought it could kill over 10 million people. They said it could hit Earth in 2068. Their latest prediction is that Earth will be safe for the next 100 years.

The scientists used radar to predict the asteroid's path. A scientist said: "We were able to acquire incredibly precise information about its distance to an accuracy of about 150 meters." Apophis is now 10.6 million miles away from us. It will come within 20,000 miles of Earth in 2029. Another scientist was glad Apophis is no longer dangerous. He said he was looking forward to the science scientists might uncover from it.


Baldness May be Cured

Scientists have worked on a cure for baldness for decades. Help may be near for bald or balding people. Japanese scientists have found stem cells that aid hair regeneration. This is welcome news for millions who suffer from baldness. The scientists are now doing laboratory tests. They hope to adapt the stem cells and make a hair loss therapy. Baldness mainly affects men. By the age of 35, around two-thirds of men will experience hair loss.

The scientists took fur cells from mice and cultured them in the lab. They used 220 combinations of chemicals to make the hair regrow naturally. The lead scientist said there is a cyclical regeneration of hair follicles from stem cells. He hopes to make "hair follicle regeneration therapy a reality in the near future". He added: "Losing hair is not life-threatening, but it adversely affects the quality of life."


Stink Bugs Nightmare

Farmers worry about many things, like no rain or pests eating their crops. British farmers have a new worry - stink bugs. Stink bugs have arrived in Britain from China, Japan or Korea. These smelly insects are a threat to fruit and vegetables on farms. The insects get their name from the bad smell they create when they are in danger. Stink bugs arrived in the USA in the mid-1990s. They are now a problem for farmers in 44 states.

Stink bugs eat by sucking out the juice from fruits and vegetables. This makes the fruit go bad. Farmers cannot sell their crops. The fruit often ends up as juice. An insect expert said there is no risk to our health if we eat damaged fruit. He said stink bugs have a wide diet. They eat over one hundred different types of plants. He added that: "With climate change and global trade, these stories are going to become more frequent."


The US, Taiwan Urge Working Together for Important Computer Supplies

The United States and Taiwan are natural partners when it comes to important computer parts, the head of an American research group said this week. The United States increasingly considers Taiwan an important part of its plan to get supplies and products from places other than mainland China. This is especially the case for computer technology and chips.

Computer chips are small pieces of hard material that contain many electronic circuits. These devices are used in computers and other electronics. Christensen spoke at a ceremony for a new chip factory for Powerchip Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation in central Taiwan. Christensen said he was there “to restate the U.S. government’s focus on supply chain security.” Semiconductors are used in electronic devices. They are materials that help control electricity or heat. Christensen added that semiconductors were not only important for economic reasons “but also national security.” His office provided a written record of his comments.


Cacao Is More Than Just Chocolate

Oded Brenner has a great job. He makes chocolate. In the 1990s, he co-created an international chocolate company called Max Brenner Chocolate. His businesses included a 650-square-meter store on Broadway in New York City. Then in 2012, Brenner left that business. A few years later, he began exploring a different side of chocolate. In 2015, during a trip to Jamaica, he developed a love and excitement for the fruit that produces chocolate: cacao.

The Jamaican people taught him a lot about cacao -- namely, it is more than just chocolate. Brenner saw Jamaican people making juice, liquor, and flour from the cacao fruit. And they used the whole fruit – not just the beans. The Ecuadorian people also taught Brenner how to use cacao. In Ecuador, he saw people drink cacao water and eat the dried fruit of the pods. You can eat the whole fruit, he learned. But in making traditional chocolate, he added, “all of the other parts of the fruit are wasted.” With his new business and his new knowledge, Brenner said he wants to tell both sides of the chocolate story. So, he has created new products that celebrate the traditional side of chocolate-making and the natural taste of the cacao fruit.


College President Zooms with Students Isolated Due to Virus

At the end of every workday, Debra Schwinn gets on a Zoom call. As the new president of Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, she is talking to her students. Many of them are alone in quarantine because of the coronavirus. Schwinn is also a medical doctor. She worries about how coronavirus restrictions might be affecting the students at the small Christian school she leads.

As few as one and as many as 15 students have taken part in the series of 20-minute calls. Schwinn checks on their mental and physical health during the meetings. She tries to lift their spirits. And she asks them if the university is meeting their needs. The quarantined students speak to a health care worker every day. They attend classes online. They receive food in their rooms. But Schwinn knows that being alone for days or weeks can cause serious mental health problems.


African Health Expert Warns of Possible 'Vaccine War'

The head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against a “vaccine war” among nations. Dr. John Nkengasong spoke Thursday at a World Health Organization event. He said that he “truly feels helpless that this situation is going to significantly impact our ability to fight this virus.” Nkengasong said, “There is absolutely no need, absolutely no need for us as humanity to go into a vaccine war to fight this pandemic. We will all be losers.”

Africa “has received limited doses and much later than the rest of the world,” said Dr. Richard Mihigo. He is a program coordinator overseeing immunization and vaccine development with the WHO’s Africa office. Experts warn that until vaccination rates are high worldwide, the virus remains a threat everywhere.

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