Fizzy drink health crisis?

A report released by Cancer Research UK revealed children’s shocking fizzy drinks habits, but is this the full story? 

Newspapers are no stranger to doom and gloom,  just today we were told that every day Scottish children consume 600,000 fizzy drinks a day. However this isn’t the full story.

The report released by Cancer Research UK looked at the diets and obesity levels of Scottish children. They found that 1 in 4 were obese, with fizzy drinks being a contributing factor.

Despite consumption of fizzy drinks being high sugary fizzy drink consumption has actually fallen by 21%.

Researchers have been calling on the Scottish Government to further the limit the advertising and sale of junk food special offers. despite the average Scot consuming 12 kilocalories less in fizzy drinks everyday, the consumption of junk food such as confectionery biscuits and cakes has been steadily increasing since 2010.

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Fizzy drinks currently on the market.

There are calls for the Scottish Government to do more when tackling the obesity with suggestions that restrictions on multi-buy offers on junk food and fizzy drinks which could limit children’s intake.

However, the government is holding a consultation for restricting the advertising of unhealthy food. Members of the public have until the 9th of January 2019 to take part.

InSight lands on Mars

After months in space and a truly harrowing entry to Mars’ atmosphere, NASA’s InSight probe gently touched down on Mars.

The Insight probe — the full name of which is actually Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport — touched down safely on Mars’ Elysium Planitia at 7:52pm on the evening of Monday November 26, making it the eighth successful unmanned mission to Mars in the history of mankind.

WATCH: The moment InSight touched down:

At at a post-landing briefing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California Insight’s Project Manager Tom Hoffman remarked “I’m very, very happy that it looks like we have an incredibly safe and boring looking landing location”.

Elysium Planitia, located in the northern hemisphere and near the equator of the red planet, is a soft sandy plain on the Martian surface — a perfect spot for InSight to carry out its life purpose: to study the geology of Mars’ core.

Essentially an interplanetary geologist, the InSight probe is distinct from the famous Mars Rovers, in that the probe will remain in place for the duration of its mission. It will dig deep into the Martian crust, searching for so called marsquakes and drawing a picture of what lies beneath the surface from the data it collects.

“In the coming months and years the history books will be rewritten about the interior of Mars” Michael Watkins, JPL’S Director predicted in the press briefing.

Before the mission can officially start, more definitive checks will be carried out to assure the spacecraft’s on-board equipment and mechanics have survived the tough entry into Mars’ hostile atmosphere.

InSight entered the planet’s atmosphere at 12,300 miles per hour and slowed itself down to a walking pace in around seven minutes. A combination of rockets and parachutes allowed the craft to land safely on the plain, which has been described as being as horizontal as a car park in the famously flat Kansas.

credit to Nasa - Scott

NASA’s probe InSight. (Photo Credit: NASA)

The landing concluded a journey which began in May 2018 and 300 million miles away on planet Earth. The Insight probe was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on the May 5, 2018, from an Atlas V-401 Rocket, making it the first Mars’ mission launched from the west coast of the United States as opposed to Florida on the east coast.

 

InSight was closely followed by two NASA CubeSats — miniaturised satellites about the size of a briefcase — called Mars Cube One or MarCO. These types of satellites are easily and relatively cheaply sent up to orbit earth but this mission marks their first use deep in our solar system, offering the possibility of improved communications and data collection infrastructure in deep space.

Probes over People

The landing is great news but looking at the bigger picture of deep space exploration you might be moved to ask — where are all the people?

It’s a good question and it is one that is getting asked more and more of late. Since the discontinuation of the shuttle program in 2011, NASA’s operations have become a lot more geared toward unmanned scientific exploration.

Think of deep space milestones of late; the curiosity rover on Mars, the New Horizons probe responsible for beautiful close ups of the dwarf planet Pluto, and now Mars’ InSight.

Since the last mission to the Moon in the 1970’s there have been no humans beyond low-Earth orbit. As we approach the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historic first landing on the Moon and see private companies like SpaceX inch ever closer to perfecting their own space launch systems, the question regarding when humans will next explore deep space in person will become central to U.S space policy.

Under the current administration NASA has received a slight increase in funding to just under US$20 billion — a rather modest amount as federal agencies go — and outlined goals for a permanent presence on the moon as the main deep space goal acting as a way station for an eventual trip to Mars.

Credit to NASA

The hope is to station humans on Mars in the future (Photo Credit: NASA)

The fundamentals of these plans pre-dated the Trump administration as the space agency developed a new Space launch system and deep space craft called Orion.

Some outlandish proposals have been put forward by the Trump administration, such as the so called “Space Force”— an American military presence in space. The idea has been met with derision, with Former U.S. Navy Captain and retired Astronaut Mark Kelly tweeting that it was ‘a dumb idea”.

However, NASA’s official line remains true to the goal of putting humans on the red planet.

Only exploring low earth orbit might seem like having stayed in the shallow end of the pool but it has been responsible for falling costs more reusable space technology and so more access to space.

NASA’s Administrator Jim Bridenstine reckoned optimistically in InSight’s post landing press conference when asked will humans will get there; “I’m going with the mid 2030’s”.

Update: French PM renounces fuel tax rises

Latest: French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe has announced a suspension on fuel tax hikes, after protesters took to rioting in the French capital and surrounding areas.

Following crisis talks in Paris today, the PM renounced the policy put forward by President Emmanuel Macron. He stated that the fuel increase will be suspended for six months.

“No tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger.”

French motorists began protesting the tax spike in mid-November, when leader Macron announced the price rise was a necessity to combat climate change. However, the protests took a violent turn when political protesters known as “Yellow Vests” began violent clashes with authorities.

The riots, which saw over 130,000 people take to the streets in protest saw major damage to multiple homes, cafes and stores throughout Paris has seen more than 400 arrests since the clashes began. Over 133 were injured, including 23 members of the French security forces.

The action took a sinister turn Saturday afternoon when an 80 year old woman was killed after being struck with a gas canister thrown during the troubles. The unnamed woman, who was at home at the time of the incident, was struck in the head whilst closing her shutters. The woman was taken to hospital but died in the operating theatre. Two more people have also been killed.

Macron and Philippe’s approval rating have hit a new low as the violence spread across Paris and the hope is the suspension of the tax increase eases tensions between protesters and the government.

China bridges the 26 mile gap

After nine years of construction, Chinese President Xi JinPing has unveiled the world’s longest crossing bridge, linking Hong Kong to China’s mainland. 

The bridge, which cost an estimated US$20 billion to build, is set to be a life-changing invention for Chinese citizens who want to access Hong Kong and Macau from the mainland city of Zhuhai.

Spanning over 54km (26 miles) and covering 21,500 square miles of China, the bridge assists with a larger plan to expand 11 cities in the region, with the cities of Hong Kong and Macau home to 68 million people in total.

“I declare the Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai bridge officially open.” – President Xi JinPing, October 23, 2018

So far, the making of the now famous bridge hasn’t been easy, with 18 workers reported to have lost their lives during the construction process.

With 400,000 tonnes of steel to assemble, the new bridge has enough steel to build 60 Eiffel Towers, which in itself, weighs an impressive 10,000 tonnes. The design is also said to withstand an earthquake magnitude of eight and is also typhoon-proof, which are known natural disasters in the region.

The Hong Kong – Macau – Zhuhai bridge is expected to drastically decrease commuting time from four hours to just 30 minutes, meaning people can easily travel to and from Hong Kong’s international airport.

Originally set to be unveiled in 2016, the longest bridge in the world is now open for business, setting the tone for China’s futuristic vision.

International Insight

Joanna Hampson brings you the latest EN4 international news brief for Tuesday October 23.

Here are today’s top stories.

  • The killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly planned days in advance. The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed he has strong evidence to suggest Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October. In his address this Tuesday, to the MP’s of his ruling party, President Erdogan confirmed that 18 people had been arrested in Saudi Arabia over the case, but is yet to release further information regarding the details of the evidence. For live updates from the investment conference in Saudi Arabia head to the Guardian.

 

  • The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge has finally been opened in Zhuhai, China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has officially opened the bridge, which connects Hong Kong to Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai, spanning 55km (34 miles) of water. The $20 billion bridge took nine years to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns. To watch the video ‘flying over the world’s longest sea bridge’ head to the BBC.

 

  • Poland’s first openly gay politician has said progressive policies can win in the countries local elections. After the ruling Law and Justice party suffered setbacks in local elections at the weekend, Robert Biedroń who stepped down as mayor of Słupsk to launch his own pro-European, “pro-democratic” movement, has now said that progressives can win. Biedroń’s own political trajectory, as a young, former LGBT activist who was elected to the Sejm in 2011, strides towards a modern Poland, advancing on the common view of the Catholic country. The Guardian report on the advancements of the upcoming elections in more detail on their website.

 

  • Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China. Speaking to reporters, the President repeated his belief that Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which he has threatened to leave. Russia continues to deny these allegations.

In Business

 

  • UK based vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Dyson, is set to build its new electric car in Singapore. The factory will break ground in Singapore later this year with the first car scheduled to roll off the production line in 2021. Dyson has said Singapore was chosen for the project based on the availability of engineering talent, regional supply chains and proximity to some key target markets. With a vast budget of £2 billion committed to the plant, Dyson will be focussing largely on research and development and test track facilities.

 

  • Co-founder of the Benetton clothing firm, Gilberto Benetton, has died at the age of 77. Benetton founded United Colors of Benetton in Italy, with brothers Luciano and Carlo and sister Giuliana, in the 1960s. Considered as one of the most powerful families in Italy, Benetton himself is credited with diversifying the clothing company into a multi-billion euro giant. United Colors of Benetton is known for its provocative advertising campaigns which have previously featured images of prisoners sentenced to death in America and, more recently, displayed images of migrants being rescued from the Mediterranean.

Truth or death? – The harsh reality of journalism

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been declared dead but without a body and without facts, one question I want to know is, how many journalists need to die in the name of freedom of speech?  

October 2, 2018, journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. As his fiancée waited outside, the journalist stepped into the building, never heard from again.

After his fiancée raised the alarm, Turkish forces began an investigation, finding evidence of torture, prompting several reports of Khashoggi’s fingers and head being cut off.

Khashoggi, by all accounts, was a courageous journalist, fuelled by a desire to see a modern progression of the Saudi regime. Deliberately choosing self-imposed exile he continued his dedication to change, through the Washington Post.

Eagerly awaiting his return, fellow journalist Karen Attiah recounts how colleagues at the Post had hoped Khashoggi would be able to submit his weekly column, which she said “captures his passion and commitment to freedom of speech in the Arab world.”

“This is the last piece of his I will edit for the Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world” – Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor, Washington Post

Sadly, Khashoggi would never return.

So far, Saudi have officially “plead the fifth” recounting a botched fist-fight, while maintaining Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is innocent. Whether this is to be believed from a country who still indulges in medieval punishment, is out for jury.

According to data collected from Committee to Protect Journalists, 48 reporters have died this year with, 47 in 2017 and a total of 1,323 since 1992. In 2017, 262 were also imprisoned, with most of these being in Arab countries.

Olivia O - Saudi Journalists

1,323 journalists have been killed since 1992.

The evasive and global response from governments, sheds light on the perceived value of a journalist’s honour to the truth. The disposal of journalists seems like a more viable option for corrupt governments and organisations than to deal with the publication of facts.

“Those who rule by fear, and fear to explain their rule, fear questions. They kill messengers.” – Jamal Khashoggi

The topic of a journalist’s safety is rarely addressed by public figures, instead dismissed as part of the job.  U.S President Donald Trump was recently cited praising congressman Greg Gianforte as “his guy” for an attack on a Guardian journalist, further highlighting the divide between the media and the state.

Unfortunately, this isn’t anything new. Even with the threat of vast media coverage the immediate threat to a journalist’s freedom is still very much active. After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, is the hatred towards journalists accepted as the new normal?

 

Second man named in Sailsbury attacks investigation

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A second man has been named for suspected involvement in the Skripal attack.

Investigative Journalism website, Bellingcat, has revealed the name of the second man suspected of carrying out the poisoning in Salisbury in March. Russian military doctor, Alexander Mishkin, is accused of carrying out the assassination attempt on Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

He joins Anatoliy Chepiga who was named as the first suspect by Bellingcat last month however Russia denies all claims made by the website. Mishkin was travelling under the alias Alexander Petrov when he travelled to the UK to allegedly carry out the attack. Moreover, Mishkin was revealed to be an agent working for Russian Intelligence, the GRU.

Conservative MP Bob Seely, a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said: “It is appalling that a medical doctor appears to have been part of a team of GRU operatives”

“Whilst this operation has been a botched embarrassment for the Kremlin from beginning to end, it’s worth remembering that we may not know about the GRU’s successful operations.”

Bellingcat made the discovery after looking over testimonies from people Mishkin knew and a scanned photo of his passport. The journalist working on the story had to dig significantly deeper to uncover Mishkin as he did not leave as much digital evidence to his identity or whereabouts as Chepiga.

Forensic tent at The_Maltings,Salisbury in March credit to Peter Curbishley.jpg

Forensic tent at The Maltings, Salisbury in March. Photo credit to Peter Curbishley.

Russia have officially commented that the two men were in Salisbury as tourists but this has been undermined by mounting evidence suggesting these men were highly-trained government agents. With the revelation of the second suspect, questions have been raised at the relative ease of uncovering intelligence officer’s identities.

 

Paper Review, Tuesday 9th October

Join Denitsa Tsekova and Lauren Walker for a review of today’s papers.

World renowned scientist Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

Physician Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76.

His family have confirmed that he passed peacefully at his home in Cambridge.

STEPHEN HAWKING

Stephen Hawking died aged 76 Image Credit: StarChild Learning Center

The British Physicist is most known for his work on black holes and expanding the theory of general relativity. He has published many works including his book “A brief history of time.” which has sold over 10 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 35 languages.

At the age of 22, Hawking was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, a degenerative illness which effects the brain and nervous system. At the time he was given only a few years to live. However this did not prevent him from continuing to work and teach physics in the University of Cambridge and also present findings in many institutions across the world.

He was known for trying to inspire young minds to take an interest in physics, appearing in many hit TV shows including The Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons and Futurama.

In a statement today his family said:

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired many people across the world.”

 

 

 


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Successful first launch for Space X’s Heavy Falcon

‘Starman’ orbiting Earth in a 2008 Tesla Roadster | Photo Credit: Space X/Youtube

Elon Musk’s latest test rocket, the Falcon Heavy, has blasted off from Cape Canaveral, in a historic launch.

The departure of the rocket was risky, with only a 50% chance of a successful lift off, according to the Space X CEO.

After the event he said that he had imagined: “a giant explosion on the pad, a wheel bouncing down the road.”

However, after the Falcon Heavy made its debut, it became the most capable launch vehicle available.

An astonishing live stream of the rocket blasting off from the Kennedy Center in Florida and proceeding to orbit the Earth, has been viewed a massive 5 million times since it began last night.

 

The aim of this launch was to blast a car, Musk’s 2008 cherry red Tesla, with a mannequin in the driver seat, towards Mars’ orbit.

The mannequin, named ‘Starman’, shot to space with David Bowie’s Life on Mars playing in the background, with the intention of orbiting Mars.

Musk referred to this approach as “kind of silly and fun”, but added he thinks “silly and fun things are important.”

Musk has admitted that ‘Starman’ has ventured further than initially planned, because Space X burned one of the boosters for too long.

He tweeted: “Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.”

Elon Musk tweeted about the success of the launch | Photo Credit: @elonmusk on Twitter

The final fate of the car is unknown – its journey may last a billion years and may take it as far as 250 miles from Earth, which is the equivalent of 10,000 trips around the equator.

The only other blip in the launch was the launchers central booster, which failed to return safely to Earth, unlike the two side boosters.

Musk said that it had crashed into the Atlantic at 300mph, missing the floating landing platform.

 

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