Italian Scientist Plans to Transplant Human Head in China


CC0 / /
Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero prepares to expand the horizons of medical science, and possibly to test the limits of ethics, as his human head transplantation project enters into its final stage.
The ambitious undertaking, known as Project Heaven, is expected to culminate in December 2017.
Two years ago, when Professor Canavero first announced his project to the world, the scientific community regarded his theories with skepticism. However, thousands of medical researchers and doctors around the globe became fascinated by the neurosurgeon’s ambition, and now it appears that Project Heaven may finally become reality.
The surgery is expected to be conducted in China by a team of surgeons led by Dr Xiaoping Ren, whom Professor Canavero will be assisting.
It should also be noted that since the project is bankrolled by the Chinese government, the surgery will be conducted on a Chinese national, whose identity hasn’t yet been disclosed, and not on Russian volunteer Valery Spiridonov as it was originally intended.
As Canavero explained to Sputnik Italia, his team published their proof of principle research, conducted in collaboration with Rice University, last September.
“Our research confirmed that the mice that had their spinal cords severed just like during head transplantation regained their ability to move. Thanks to an advanced type of polyethylene glycol (PEG) used during such surgery, the area where the cut was made regains the ability to conduct neural impulses within 24 hours. A dog that got its spinal cord cut and then restored using PEG was able to run within three weeks of the surgery,” he said.
According to Canavero, back then his critics argued that this early research did not provide enough statistical data, and that it was necessary to prove that new nerve fibers formed at the area where the spinal cord was cut.
Professor Sergio Canavero
© AP PHOTO/ SCOTT HEPPELL Professor Sergio Canavero
In order to address these concerns, in January Canavero’s team published new research which involved the immunohistochemistry process.
“In order to accumulate enough statistical data we used large rats as test subjects, employing the diffusion tensor imaging which allows for the examining of a test animal’s nerve fibers without necessitating the prior euthanization of the creature. The test animals were divided into two groups: we used a placebo during surgery on rats from group one, and PEG with rats from group two. A month after the surgery, the rats from group two could move while the rats from group one couldn’t. Later we repeated this experiment on dogs and achieved similar results. Therefore, we can now say that mice, rats and dogs that had their spinal cords cut can regain the ability to move,” Dr. Canavero explained.
He also confirmed that the Chinese government insisted on a Chinese surgeon taking charge of the head transplantation procedure, so in April Canavero announced that he’ll be assisting Dr Xiaoping Ren during this historic surgery.
“There’s not much time left, and in October you’ll learn some sensational news,” Professor Canavero said.


I’ll Show You! Sweden Allows US to Browse Through Its Fingerprint Database


© Sputnik/ Vladimir Pesnya
A new Swedish government decision paves the way for the Swedish police to strike a long-anticipated deal with their US counterparts to use each other’s fingerprint databases when looking for suspects.
The background to the decision is that the US allows visa-free travel for Swedes, among other nationalities, and in exchange has requested to get access to and share police information between countries.
Sweden and the US agreed in principle in 2011 to share fingerprint information, but critics have expressed concern over privacy and it has been the topic of two separate government inquiries in Sweden.
Before, the Swedish police had to file a request with the US to gain access to fingerprints from the FBI’s database in a process that could take several weeks. After the summer, however, police in both countries will be able to browse in each other’s fingerprint registers in the event of crimes punishable with over a year in jail. Only Sweden’s Left Party voted against the decision in parliament.
“This means that the US can access Sweden’s entire fingerprint register for crimes that have a fairly short sentence in Sweden,” Left legal spokesperson Linda Snecker told Swedish Radio.
According to Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, however, the agreement would be largely beneficial for both countries.
“I believe this is mutually beneficial because both Sweden and the US will be safer with us being able to find out who has been at a crime scene,” Anders Ygeman told Swedish Radio.
According to Ygeman, the decision took so long to take, because the sharing of biometric information was long perceived as sensitive and needed good rules for exchange and protection.
The decision means that the US Federal Police will get access to Sweden’s database of 165,000 fingerprints of suspects and convicted criminals, whereas the Nordic country will get access to the FBI’s vast register of around 100 million.
Sweden already gained the ability to search for fingerprints and DNA material in a number of EU countries, which it has had since 2013.
In related issues, the Swedish government recently advocated for the police to be able to use surveillance cameras without having to apply for a license. Both Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Justice Minister Morgan Johansson called for measures to facilitate surveillance.
Although initially restrictive towards CCTV at the beginning, Sweden has increased its use of cameras in the past years. The number of permanent surveillance cameras has risen from none to 120 in the last 5-10 years.
The government and the police are especially betting on cameras to weed out burgeoning crime in the Nordic country’s most notorious suburbs.


UN begins disputed probe into DR Congo killings

UN begins disputed probe into DR Congo killings

The United Nations Human Rights Council opened an investigation on Friday into killings and other atrocities in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The 47-member Geneva forum adopted by consensus a resolution brought by African countries that also called on the government of President Joseph Kabila to cooperate with the team of international experts.
U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who is to name the fact-finding experts, had called repeatedly for the inquiry into events in Kasai, an opposition stronghold.
“We fully support the establishment of an international investigation by the Human Rights Council as a step forward in identifying the perpetrators of gross violations and bringing them to justice,” Zeid said in a statement.
His office counted on the “full cooperation” of the government and on the experts having unfettered access to all sites, files, people and places.
“The team will conduct investigations in a fully independent manner, in accordance with international standards, as mandated by the Council,” he declared.
Zeid told the Council on Tuesday that a militia linked to government has committed a string of ethnically-motivated attacks in recent months, including cutting off toddlers’ limbs and stabbing pregnant women.
Kinshasa has been fighting insurgents in Kasai since last August, triggering fears of a wider conflict in the large central African country, which is a tinderbox of ethnic rivalry and competing claims over mineral resources.
Local activists said on Thursday that at least 12 people were killed in heavy firefights between the army and militia fighters in and near the city of Beni, and several students sitting exams were wounded in an explosion at a school.
Activists welcomed the probe, agreed on the last day of the Council’s three-week session.
It “brings hope of uncovering the truth about the horrific violence in the Kasai region since August, a step toward justice for thousands of victims,” Laila Matar of Human Rights Watch said in a statement. The New York-based group called for Congolese authorities to ensure unhindered access for the team.


Japan To Dump Deadly Fukushima Nuclear Waste Into Pacific Ocean

Japan dumps Fukushima nuclear waste into the oceanBy Sean Adl-Tabatabai

Japan has announced plans to dump 920,000 tons of deadly Fukushima nuclear waste into the Pacific ocean, saying that they can no longer contain the waste on land.
Following the major tsunami in 2011 that resulted the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant shutting down, the constant leaking of radiation that has occurred in the aftermath has been dubbed one of the worst nuclear disasters since Chernobyl. reports: Six years after the disaster, the three crippled reactors are still leaking water with high levels of radiation into the Pacific Ocean. Though the Pacific Ocean is a vast stretch of water, Fukushima’s radiation is reaching the coast of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, contaminating the fish we eat and the water we swim in.
While these findings were first considered “fake news” and laughed away, researchers can no longer deny that Cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima, has been found in seawater and fish along the Western Coast of the Americas.
In TRT’s daily news show “Insight,” hosted by former Sky News presenter Martin Stanford, the head of international atomic energy agency has called on the world to help with the cleanup of the Fukushima site.

Japan fails to clean up the mess, plotting to discharge nuclear waste into the ocean

Ever since the tsunami put the Fukushima plant out of business, one of the ongoing core tasks has been to cool the reactors and prevent the release of highly contaminated water leaking from the three units. Though it has been six years since the disaster, the cleanup is making slow progress.
Mark Whitby, chairman and design director of the engineering and consultancy firm WME Consultants, explained that today about 400 tons of water go into each reactor to cool it. Part of the highly radioactive water is recycled to re-cool the reactors, and the rest goes into big tanks, which are stacking up at a fast rate. As reported by TRT, Japan is running out of storage space. There are currently about a 1,000 storage tanks holding 920,000 tons of contaminated water.
As if the marine life isn’t struggling enough already by the vast amounts of plastic in the oceans, the Japanese are now talking about dumping these tanks with nuclear wastewater directly into the sea because they cannot keep building and storing these reservoirs, Whitby told TRT.
Also, to this day researchers are uncertain whether the melted cores are still within the containment structures or if they have burrowed through the vessels, contaminating the groundwater that ends up in the Pacific Ocean. Since many robots, sent out to assess the damage, have been destroyed due to the high levels of radiation that melts their electronics, it is tough to get this information.
Recently, however, one camera lasted long enough to show that molten core debris has burned through the bottom of the inner reactor wall. The radioactive debris is now burrowed deep into the foundations of the reactor, causing the highest radiation levels measured around the reactor since the triple core meltdown six years ago. Until these cores can be retrieved, the reactors will keep leaking radioactive material into the groundwater.
According to Japan’s former prime minister, the current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is lying about the situation being under control. Abe has also been criticized for forcing more than 6,000 people to return to their home in areas that are still highly contaminated zones.
According to the Japanese government, Japan will be safe by 2020. Therefore, it will hold the Olympic baseball and softball in the Fukushima area to show “Japan is cool,” even if their reactors are still posing a serious threat.
For more info watch the full Insight episode below.


Snapchat’s controversial “Snap Map” causes children safety concerns

NEW YORK, June 24 (Xinhua) — The latest update from the image and video sharing mobile application Snapchat has raised parents’ concerns over children safety as it shows posted images and videos on a searchable map.
Snap Map, launched on Wednesday, features a location-sharing mode that allows users to see where their contacts are on a map.
It also lets people search for specific places such as schools and view snaps posted by students inside.
The application, a product of the U.S.-based technology company Snap Inc., is wildly popular among teenagers since it was released six years ago.
Although the company said that accurate locations could help friends to find each other in crowded places, people have expressed concerns online that the service could be used for stalking and it might violate people’s privacy.
“Please remove this feature,” Amelia Mills tweeted, “it is a complete invasion of privacy, encouraging stalking and more.”
Police office in Preston, a British coastal city, has warned parents to turn off the map on their children’s phones. “Obviously this may cause concern for certain users, particularly those who have young children who use the app,” it wrote on its Facebook page.
As a response, the Snapchat Support account pinned a tweet on Friday, suggesting users “choose who to share your location with” when entering Snap Map the first time.