Mutant Mosquitos Plus The Deadliest Year Ever For Refugees


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An army of Aedes aegypti mosquitos is heading out to stop Zika.
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Yesterday, the United Nations refugee agency said that 2016 has been the deadliest year yet for migrants who are crossing the Mediterranean to get to Europe. A spokesman said that the death count has now reached at least 3,800 individuals.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte also said this week that he wants American troops out of the country within the next two years. Despite officials trying to control the damage Duterte has been causing in the past weeks, the outspoken politician continues to speak his mind, and this most recent statement only underlines his desire to break away from western influences. He’s made threats before regarding the removal of U.S. counterterrorism troops from the country, but has never followed through. This week’s specifics include a threat to end a defense agreement with the United Statements, eliminating U.S. forces' regular access to military bases in the Philippines.

Duterte told Reuters, “I have declared that I will pursue an independent foreign policy. I want, maybe in the next two years, my country free of the presence of foreign military troops. I want them out. And if I have to revise or abrogate agreements, executive agreements, this shall be the last maneuver, war games between the United States and the Philippines military.”

A study from the World Economic Forum, the annual Global Gender Gap Report, says that it may take as many as 83 years to completely eliminate the gender gap within economics, politics, education and health. In total, over the four categories, women fall behind men by as much as nearly 32 percent. The study surveys 144 countries; out of these, 68 have improved their overall gender gap score since last year, while 74 have experienced decreased scores. The top country with the smallest gender gap overall is Iceland. Nicaragua showed the greatest improvement, jumping 12 percentage points and becoming the best country in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States was ranked 45th.

Tuesday night, Trump called out Joe Biden after the vice president made comments that he’d like to take the candidate “behind the gym.” Talking to supporters in Tallahassee, Trump said, “Did you see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn? I’d love that. I’d love that. Mr. Tough Guy. You know he’s Mr. Tough. You know when he’s Mr. Tough Guy—when he’s standing behind a microphone by himself. That’s when. He wants to bring me to the back of the barn, ohhhh.”

At the same time Trump was taunting Biden, Hillary was rubbing elbows with Adele at a Miami concert. Adele took a moment to address the upcoming election, saying “Don’t vote for him. I can’t vote but I am 100 percent for Hillary Clinton. I love her, she’s amazing. I am English, but what happens in America affects me, too.”

Afterward, Trump’s campaign manager had a few words to say about Clinton’s attendance. "Respectfully, Hillary Clinton has time to go to an Adele concert and everybody else thinks that's really cool,” said Kellyanne Conway. “Donald Trump stops off to unveil an incredible, stunning piece of architecture and new hotel, first-class hotel and everybody's hair is on fire.”

Scientists are ready to release a mosquito army throughout Brazil and Columbia to fight Zika. These modified mosquitoes carry a bug called Wolbachia, reducing their ability to pass on viruses to people. The project is an $18 million investment, that’s funded by a variety of donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as loans from Latin American governments, the United States and the United Kingdom. The release is scheduled for early next year. Small trials have already occurred in Brazil, Australia, Columbia, Indonesia and Vietnam, where the infected mosquitoes have cut down on the spread of dengue. In laboratory tests, they have done the same with Zika and chikungunya. After releasing these mosquito armies in large urban areas, it’s hoped the Wolbachia will be spread on to future generations. The areas will be monitored for the next three years to see its results.

“In the communities we have already worked with there have initially been two concerns. One was that the mosquitoes might harm them in some way or that there might be some unintended consequences,” said Scott O’Neill, from the Eliminate Dengue Program. "It is testament to our community engagement teams working really closely with communities to answer questions that all the communities we work with are fully supportive. We explained Wolbachia bugs are present in so many insects worldwide that millions of humans come into contact with them everyday with no problems. And in the six years we have been doing these trials there have been no problems."

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