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Stem Cell, Pocket UAV, Restorative Touch

Dated: 15 Oct 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: Healthcare, Technology

Stem Cell: Researchers have used stem cells from human embryos to treat patients suffering from severe vision loss, the first time the technique has been shown to be both safe and potentially effective in a sustained way. The study was proven quite successful; one patient was a 75-year-old rancher from Kansas whose eyesight improved to the point where he could ride a horse again. Another patient went to the mall for the first time. Another traveled to the airport by herself.

Pocket UAV: A San Francisco-based drone maker has unveiled a device it calls a drone for the masses that can shoot video and fold up into the size and shape of a cellphone.  The AeriCam Anura is a pocket-sized drone with fold-away rotors that can be controlled and monitored over WiFi with a user’s smartphone.

Restorative Touch: Researchers at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, have discovered that patterns of electric signals sent by a computer into nerves in a patient’s arm and to his brain, can give 19 distinct sensations of touch to the patient’s prosthetic limb. They can even differentiate what is touching the limb, as well as more than a dozen distinct points and locations. The video demonstrating this technology can be found here.

US Army, OPEC, North Korea

Dated: 13 Oct 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, Security

US Army: The Army is unveiling a new global strategy for reshaping the largest American military force for a world where the U.S. faces many small and indirect threats, rather than just a few large ones.  While the Army has long defined its core mission as winning wars, equal weight will now be given to preventing war, an acknowledgment that the Army will be asked to respond to humanitarian crises, reassure allies and deter aggression in addition to fighting on battlefields.  This new policy will influence the kinds of cuts the Army is likely to make, Army officials and analysts said, and result in fewer investments in new heavy weaponry and more for equipment needed by small infantry units, such as transport helicopters that can move faster and travel further.  The strategy document can be found here.

OPEC: The latest comments from different OPEC sources suggest there is indeed a deep malaise within the cartel that for so long has been key to the path of oil prices. What seems increasingly clear is that OPEC members are in deep disarray over how to respond to the once-in-a-generation supply shock that is the U.S. shale revolution. Rather than looking to cooperate with each other to stem oil’s fall, individual cartel members are instead engaged in a desperate scramble for market share.  Further complicating matters is the fact that the situation is much more desperate for some OPEC members than others. Most of the Gulf monarchies, such as Kuwait and the U.A.E., can afford to see oil prices fall and still balance their budgets; Saudi Arabia, which needs oil prices at around $93 to balance its budget, has years of built-up surpluses to draw on. Countries like Iran and Venezuela, by contrast, need prices at around $140 and $121 respectively to avoid slipping into the red.

North Korea: Chinese and South Korean officials said that despite Kim Jong-un’s absence, there are no indications of difficulties in maintaining his power and control of the country. Meanwhile, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said that South Korea would consider lifting economic sanctions on North Korea if upcoming talks improved relations.