Acid Attack on Four U.S. Students Wasn’t Terror Act, France Says

Paris (AP) — Four American college students were attacked with acid Sunday at a train station in France, but French authorities so far do not think extremist views motivated the 41 -year-old woman who was arrested as the alleged assailant, the local prosecutor's office and the students' school said.

Boston College, a private Jesuit university in Massachusetts, said in a statement Sunday that the four female students were treated at a hospital for burns after they were sprayed in the face with acid in the city of Marseille. The statement said the four all were juniors studying abroad, three of them at the college's Paris program.

"It appears that the students are fine, considering the circumstances, though they may require additional treatment for burns," Nick Gozik, who directs Boston College's Office of International Programs. "We have been in contact with the students and their parents and remain in touch with French officials and the U.S. Embassy regarding the incident."

Police in France described the suspect as "disturbed" and said the attack was not thought at this point to be terror-related, according the university's statement.

The Paris prosecutor's office said earlier Sunday that its counter-terrorism division had decided for the time being not to assume jurisdiction for investigating the attack. The prosecutor's office in the capital, which has responsibility for all terror-related cases in France, did not explain the reasoning behind the decision.

A spokeswoman for the Marseille prosecutor's office told The Associated Press in a telephone call that the suspect did not make any extremist threats or declarations during the late morning attack at the city's Saint Charles train station. She said there were no obvious indications that the woman's actions were terror-related.

The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity, per the custom of the French judicial system. She said all four of the victims were in their 20s and treated at a hospital, two of them for shock. The suspect was taken into police custody.

Boston College identified the students as Courtney Siverling, Charlotte Kaufman, Michelle Krug and Kelsey Kosten.

The Marseille fire department was alerted just after 11 a.m. and dispatched four vehicles and 14 firefighters to the train station, a department spokeswoman said.

Two of the Americans were "slightly injured" with acid but did not require emergency medical treatment from medics at the scene, the spokeswoman said. She requested anonymity in keeping with fire department protocol.

A person with knowledge of the investigation said the suspect had a history of mental health problems but no apparent past links to extremism. The person was not authorized to be publicly named speaking about the investigation. Regional newspaper La Provence said the assailant remained at the site of the attack without trying to flee.

France has seen scattered attacks by unstable individuals as well as extremist violence in recent years, including in Marseille, a port city in southern France that is closer to Barcelona than Paris.

A driver deliberately rammed into two bus stops in Marseille last month, killing a woman, but officials said it wasn't terror-related.

In April, French police said they thwarted an imminent "terror attack" and arrested two suspected radicals in Marseille just days before the first round of France's presidential election. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins told reporters the two suspects "were getting ready to carry out an imminent, violent action." In January 2016, a 15-year-old Turkish Kurd was arrested after attacking a Jewish teacher on a Marseille street. He told police he acted in the name of the Islamic State group.

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Angela Charlton in Paris and Crystal Hill in Boston contributed to the report.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-17/urgent-official-4-us-tourists-attacked-with-acid-in-marseille

    Monsanto Was Its Own Ghostwriter for Some Safety Reviews

    Monsanto Co. started an agricultural revolution with its “Roundup Ready” seeds, genetically modified to resist the effects of its blockbuster herbicide called Roundup. That ability to kill weeds while leaving desirable crops intact helped the company turn Roundup’s active ingredient, the chemical glyphosate, into one of the world’s most-used crop chemicals. When that heavy use raised health concerns, Monsanto noted that the herbicide’s safety had repeatedly been vetted by outsiders. But now there’s new evidence that Monsanto’s claims of rigorous scientific review are suspect.

    Dozens of internal Monsanto emails, released on Aug. 1 by plaintiffs’ lawyers who are suing the company, reveal how Monsanto worked with an outside consulting firm to induce the scientific journal to publish a purported “independent” review of Roundup’s health effects that appears to be anything but. The review, published along with four subpapers in a September 2016 special supplement, was aimed at rebutting the 2015 assessment by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. That finding by the cancer-research arm of the World Health Organization led California last month to list glyphosate as a known human carcinogen. It has also spurred more than 1,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts by plaintiffs who claim they contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma from Roundup exposure.

    Monsanto disclosed that it paid Intertek Group Plc’s consulting unit to develop the review supplement, entitled “An Independent Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Glyphosate.” But that was the extent of Monsanto’s involvement, the main article said. “The Expert Panelists were engaged by, and acted as consultants to, Intertek, and were not directly contacted by the Monsanto Company,” according to the review’s Declaration of Interest statement. “Neither any Monsanto company employees nor any attorneys reviewed any of the Expert Panel’s manuscripts prior to submission to the journal.”

    Monsanto’s internal emails tell a different story. The correspondence shows the company’s chief of regulatory science, William Heydens, and other Monsanto scientists were heavily involved in organizing, reviewing, and editing drafts submitted by the outside experts. At one point, Heydens even vetoed explicit requests by some of the panelists to tone down what one of them wrote was the review’s “inflammatory” criticisms of IARC.

    “An extensive revision of the summary article is necessary,” wrote that panelist, John Acquavella, an epidemiologist at Aarhus University in Denmark, in a February 2016 email attached to his suggested edits of the draft. Alarmed, Ashley Roberts, the coordinator of the glyphosate papers for Intertek, forwarded Acquavella’s note and edits to Heydens at Monsanto, with the warning: “Please take a look at the latest from the epi(demiology) group!!!!”

    Heydens reedited Acquavella’s edits, arguing in six different notes in the draft’s margin that statements Acquavella had found inflammatory were not and should not be changed, despite the author’s requests. In the published article, Heydens’s edits prevailed. In an interview, Acquavella says that he was satisfied with the review’s final tone. According to an invoice he sent Monsanto, he billed the company $20,700 for a single month’s work on the review, which took nearly a year to complete.

    Monsanto defends the review’s independence. Monsanto did only “cosmetic editing” of the Intertek papers and nothing “substantive” to alter panelists’ conclusions, says Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president for global strategy. While the “choice of words” in the Declaration of Interest “was not ideal,” he says, “it didn’t change the science.”

    In July 2016, the journal’s editor, Roger McClellan, emailed his final instructions to Roberts at Intertek on what the paper’s Acknowledgment and Declaration of Interest statements should include. “I want them to be as clear and transparent as possible,” he wrote. “At the end of the day I want the most aggressive critics of Monsanto, your organization and each of the authors to read them and say—Damn, they covered all the points we intended to raise.”

    Specifically, McClellan told Roberts to make clear how the panelists were hired—“ie by Intertek,” McClellan wrote. “If you can say without consultation with Monsanto, that would be great. If there was any review of the reports by Monsanto or their legal representatives, that needs to be disclosed.”

    Roberts forwarded McClellan’s emails, along with a more technical question, to Heydens, who responded, “Good grief.” The Declaration of Interest statement was rewritten per McClellan’s instructions, despite being untrue. There was no mention of the company’s participation in the editing.

    Monsanto’s editorial involvement appears “in direct opposition to their disclosure,” says Genna Reed, a science and policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy. “It does seem pretty suspicious.”

    In response to questions, McClellan wrote in an email on Aug. 7 that he’d been unaware of the Monsanto documents and has forwarded the matter to the journal’s publisher, Taylor & Francis, in Abingdon, England. “These are serious accusations relative to scientific publishing canons and deserve very careful investigation,” he wrote. “I can assure you that Taylor and Francis, as the publisher, and I, as the Scientific Editor of , will carefully investigate the matter and take appropriate action.” A Taylor & Francis spokeswoman says it has begun an investigation.

    The Monsanto documents, more than 70 in all, were obtained through pretrial discovery and posted online by some of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, who claim Monsanto missed a 30-day window to object to their release. Monsanto says it was blindsided by the disclosures and has asked U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco to order the documents pulled from the web and to punish the attorneys for violating confidentiality orders. Says Monsanto’s Partridge: “It’s unfortunate these lawyers are grandstanding at the expense of their clients’ interests.”

    Other emails show that Monsanto’s lead toxicologist, Donna Farmer, was removed as a co-author of a 2011 study on glyphosate’s reproductive effects, but not before she made substantial changes and additions to the paper behind the scenes. The study, published in Taylor & Francis’s , served to counter findings that glyphosate hampers human reproduction and development. Partridge says Farmer’s contributions didn’t warrant authorship credit. While almost all of her revisions made it into the published paper, her name doesn’t even show up in the acknowledgments.

      BOTTOM LINE – Monsanto has long noted that independent scientists have vouched for the safety of its Roundup herbicide. Court data show its employees edited some of those reviews.

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-09/monsanto-was-its-own-ghostwriter-for-some-safety-reviews

      Intel CEO Becomes Third Chief to Quit Trump Council After Riots

      Intel Corp.’s Brian Krzanich joined Under Armour Inc.’s Kevin Plank in becoming the latest chief executives to quit President Donald Trump’s council of U.S. business leaders, as membership on the panel has become enmeshed in the country’s volatile politics after violent riots in Virginia over the weekend.

      The moves come hours after Merck & Co.’s Kenneth Frazier first stepped down from the business council. Plank’s departure is a particularly sharp rebuke to Trump, after the Under Armour executive earlier this year came under fire for commenting that the president was a “real asset” for the country.

      "I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing," Intel’s Krzanich said in a company blog post.

      Plank said in a tweeted statement that “Under Armour engages in innovation and sport, not politics,” while Merck’s Frazier said he quit “as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” 

      Trump responded to Frazier with a couple jabs, tweeting late Monday that “@Merck Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the U.S.”

      Over the weekend, one woman was killed and many others were injured after a man in a car rammed a group of counter-demonstrators during a daylong melee in Charlottesville, Virginia. White supremacists and other hate groups had massed in the city to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

      Trump was widely criticized by U.S. lawmakers and other officials for not denouncing white supremacists in a statement on Saturday in which he said “many sides” were at fault for the violence. The president has repeatedly drawn fire for his relations with white nationalist groups and his handling of issues related to minorities.

      Speaking from the White House on Monday, Trump denounced white supremacists and declared racism “evil.”

      “To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held accountable,” Trump said, calling for unity in the wake of the tragedy.

      The CEO departures show how corporate leaders are walking a narrow line in working with the Trump administration to help shape policy around taxes, immigration and other issues, while trying not to alienate customers in an increasingly tense political environment.

      Plank’s pro-Trump commentary earlier this year sparked an uproar from shoppers and very public dissent among Under Armour’s athletes, including his most-valued sneaker pitchman, basketball star Stephen Curry. The CEO in a television interview had declared that Trump is “pro-business” and a “real asset.”

      After a Wall Street analyst downgraded the company, Plank took out a full-page newspaper ad, saying his words praising Trump “did not accurately reflect” his intent. He said the company opposed the president’s executive order to ban refugees from certain countries.

      The president’s council has included top executives from Boeing Co., Dow Chemical Co. and Johnson & Johnson. A handful of CEOs have stepped down from two White House business groups, which have met only sporadically, over political controversies.

      The president hasn’t been shy about calling out businesses for perceived missteps. After his 2016 election victory Trump took aim at defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. for what he called the high cost of some aircraft, and muscled United Technologies Corp. unit Carrier into keeping a plant in Indiana after the company said it would be closed and production shifted to Mexico. 

      Corporate Pushback

      Trump created two CEO advisory groups early in his presidency. Blackstone Group CEO Steve Schwarzman leads one described as a strategy and policy forum, and Dow Chemical’s Andrew Liveris organized a manufacturing initiative. After an initial burst of activity and press attention, the councils have fizzled with neither meeting since April.

      Earlier this year, Elon Musk of Tesla Inc. and Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger quit the strategy and policy panel after Trump said he would withdraw from the Paris climate pact. Former Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick quit in February after Trump’s executive order on immigration.

      Trump and a range of corporations have previously been at odds on other fronts.

      The administration drew criticism from a wide swath of companies over its executive order restricting immigration. More than 160 technology firms, including Amazon.com Inc., Facebook Inc., and Google corporate parent Alphabet Inc. joined a legal brief criticizing the order. Technology firms have also criticized the administration’s efforts to restrict access to H-1B visas for high-skilled workers, and eliminate an Obama Administration program that would have provided visas for foreign entrepreneurs who received startup funding.

      Other members of the Trump councils, including Lockheed Martin and PepsiCo Inc., declined to say whether they would follow the moves of the other executives in stepping down.

      Merck’s Prices

      Merck has in the past taken stands on social issues. In 2012, the company’s foundation ended funding for the Boy Scouts of America over the group’s exclusion of gays from its leadership ranks. Frazier is a registered Democrat, according to Pennsylvania voter records.

      Trump made U.S. drug prices an issue during the presidential campaign and after — at one point accusing drug companies of “getting away with murder.” While his rhetoric on the subject has cooled, the Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to try and bring more competition to the market for some drugs, and speed more generic drugs to the market.

      Frazier, in December, said his company has a “restrained” approach to price increases, calling aggressive price increases a foolhardy move by the industry. In a company report published this year, Merck said it has a “long history of making our medicines and vaccines accessible and affordable through responsible pricing practices.”

      For 2016, the list price on its drugs rose by 9.6 percent on average while the net price, which more closely reflects what is paid by consumers, rose 5.5 percent, according to the report.

      Merck shares were up 0.7 percent to $62.79 at 12:02 p.m. in New York, roughly in line with a broader advance in the U.S. stock market.

      Toby Cosgrove, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, plans to remain on the strategy and policy group, said Eileen Sheil, a spokeswoman for the health system. She said the group hasn’t met since April, and there are no meetings scheduled.

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein also took to Twitter Monday in response to the violence, citing former president Abraham Lincoln. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” wrote Blankfein, whose inaugural tweet in June expressed disapproval over Trump’s decision to ditch the Paris climate accord.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-14/merck-ceo-quits-trump-council-as-matter-of-personal-conscience

        Bees Are Bouncing Back From Colony Collapse Disorder

        The number of U.S. honeybees, a critical component to agricultural production, rose in 2017 from a year earlier, and deaths of the insects attributed to a mysterious malady that’s affected hives in North America and Europe declined, according a U.S. Department of Agriculture honeybee health survey released Tuesday. 

        The number of commercial U.S. honeybee colonies rose 3 percent to 2.89 million as of April 1, 2017 compared with a year earlier, the Agriculture Department reported. The number of hives lost to Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon of disappearing bees that has raised concerns among farmers and scientists for a decade, was 84,430 in this year’s first quarter, down 27 percent from a year earlier. Year-over-year losses declined by the same percentage in April through June, the most recent data in the survey.

        Still, more than two-fifths of beekeepers said mites were harming their hives, and with pesticides and other factors still stressing bees, the overall increase is largely the result of constant replenishment of losses, the study showed.

        “You create new hives by breaking up your stronger hives, which just makes them weaker,” said Tim May, a beekeeper in Harvard, Illinois and the vice-president of the American Beekeeping Federation based in Atlanta. “We check for mites, we keep our bees well-fed, we communicate with farmers so they don’t spray pesticides when our hives are vulnerable. I don’t know what else we can do.”

        Environmental groups have expressed alarm over the 90 percent decline during the past two decades in the population of pollinators, from wild bees to Monarch butterflies. Some point to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids as a possible cause, a link rejected by Bayer AG and other manufacturers.

        To Save Bees It Would Help to Know Why They’re Dying: QuickTake

        In the USDA study, beekeepers who owned at least five colonies, or hives, reported the most losses from the varroa mite, a parasite that lives only in beehives and survives by sucking insect blood. The scourge, present in the U.S. since 1987, was reported in 42 percent of commercial hives between April and June this year, according to the USDA. That’s down from 53 percent in the same period one year earlier. 

        Among other factors, beekeepers said 13 percent of colonies in the second quarter of this year were stressed by pesticides, 12 percent by mites and pests other than varroa and 4.3 by diseases. Bad weather, starvation, insufficient forage and other reasons were listed as problems with 6.6 percent of hives.

        Colony Collapse

        Colony Collapse, while not a main cause of loss, has perplexed scientists for more than a decade since the phenomenon of bees seemingly spontaneously fleeing their hives and not returning was first identified in the U.S. 

        As beekeepers have worked to improve hive conditions, the syndrome has waned as a concern, said May Berenbaum, head of the entomology department at the University of Illinois and a winner of the National Medal of Science.

        "It’s been more of a blip in the history of beekeeping," she said in an interview. On the other hand, "it’s staggering that half of America’s bees have mites," she said. "Colony Collapse Disorder has been vastly overshadowed by diseases, recognizable parasites and diagnosable physiological problems."

        In the survey, a hive loss was attributed to colony collapse if varroa or other mites were ruled out as a cause; few dead bees were found in a hive, a sign that they fled; a queen bee and food reserves were both seemingly normal pre-collapse; and food reserves were left alone after fleeing.

        May said his losses are highly variable depending on where his hives are located and may be affected by farmers improperly spraying pesticides. “It’s really tricky” to tease out factors behind bee deaths, he said. “Maybe it’s pesticides, maybe it’s not. But when I eliminate everything else, it’s a distinct possibility.”

        The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing neonicotinoids, proposing bans on spraying them and several dozen other pesticides in fields where bees have been brought in to pollinate a crop.
         
        A pair of scientific studies in Science last month linked neonicotinoids to poor reproduction and shorter lifespans in European and Canadian bees. The research was funded in part by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta AG, the makers of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

        “There are numerous things impacting bee health,” Syngenta Chief Executive Officer Erik Fyrwald said in an interview in Brussels last month. “One of the very minor elements there is pesticides. So it’s amazing to us that the discussion is, as a whole, about pesticides. Not only pesticides, just specifically neonics.”

          Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-01/good-news-for-bees-as-numbers-recover-while-mystery-malady-wanes

          Benchmark’s Uber Suit Signals End of Era for Imperious Founders

          When Uber Technologies Inc. backer Benchmark Capital filed a lawsuit against the startup’s founder Travis Kalanick for using allegedly fraudulent means to pack the board with his loyalists, it sent a strong signal that Silicon Valley’s so-called founder-friendly era is coming to an end.

          Going back years, venture firms have given Kalanick and his peers outsize control and influence over their companies. Critics say this has led founders to take a freewheeling approach to running their companies, loading up on shares for themselves and their friends and presiding over toxic workplaces.

          At the heart of the Benchmark lawsuit is a provision that venture capitalists say stands out for its deference to Kalanick, and is highly unusual. It allowed the Uber founder to personally appoint three new members to Uber’s eight-seat board, effectively letting him slant the board his way after he resigned. 

          According to Benchmark, Kalanick got investors to sign off on the measure “fraudulently,”  by, among other things, hiding “gross mismanagement” at the company. Jimmy Asci, a spokesman for Kalanick, said the lawsuit is “completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations.”

          On Friday three other investors sent a letter to Uber’s board, shareholders and Benchmark, saying the suit was designed to “hold the company hostage” and asked Benchmark to step down from the board. The investors are Sherpa Capital’s Shervin Pishevar, Yucaipa Companies’ Ron Burkle and Maverick’s Adam Leber. They didn’t immediately respond or couldn’t be reached for comment. Members of Uber’s board, not including Kalanick or Benchmark’s Matt Cohler, said they were “disappointed that a disagreement between shareholders has resulted in litigation,” according to an emailed statement.

          Kalanick is far from the only founder deemed to have abused investors’ trust in him. Other examples include Jawbone Inc. founder Hosain Rahman and Tanium Inc. Chief Executive Officer Orion Hindawi, who were both given considerable autonomy or control by boards and then disappointed in their leadership. Rahman led Jawbone into bankruptcy and has now launched a long-shot bid to become a player in medical devices. Hindawi was forced to apologize after past and current employees described abusive behavior that prompted a talent exodus. 

          In the 1990s, it wasn’t unusual for venture firms to replace founders as CEOs, usually because the investors believed the company needed a leader with more experience. That practice fell out of favor but has resurfaced in recent years.

          Take GitHub Inc., the developer platform. In early 2014, a former Github employee, Julie Ann Horvath, complained that co-workers—going right up to company’s co-founder and CEO, Tom Preston-Werner—had harassed and discriminated against her. Preston-Werner ended up resigning after an internal investigation; in a more forgiving time, he might have taken a leave of absence and returned.

          The following year, Parker Conrad, founder and chief executive of Zenefits resigned after news broke that he was using unlicensed brokers to sell health insurance in several states.

          In those cases, the founders agreed to step down. In other instances, VCs have discovered that the relatively recent practice of ceding voting control has made forced resignations impossible.

          At venture-backed company Theranos, once valued at $9 billion and now worth next to nothing, disgraced founder Elizabeth Holmes controls 98 percent of voting shares. That has allowed her to continue as chief executive even after it turned out her vaunted blood-testing technology didn’t work, putting the company’s future in peril.

          One reason VCs tolerated over-privileged CEOS—at Theranos, Uber, Snap, and other companies—was because so much money flooded into tech, making it easy for founders of the most promising startups to shop around. Last year, $41.6 billion was raised by venture firms, the most since the dotcom era, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

          In an extreme case, at vegan food maker Hampton Creek Inc., most of the board, not founder Josh Tetrick,  was forced to resign after directors lost all rights due to the voting control they had allowed Tetrick to amass.

          But once again, venture firms are wising up.

          Today, while more late-stage private companies are creating classes of shares with extra voting power, only 27 percent of recipients of those shares are founders and management, according to a study by law firm Fenwick & West. Three years ago, 43 percent of recipients were founders and management, rather than investors.

          For a long time venture firms were loath to crack down on founders for fear they’d go elsewhere for capital. But that theory doesn’t really hold up, says angel investor Keval Desai, a backer of Optimizely, The RealReal and others. “Benchmark’s reputation has been built over many decades, and other entrepreneurs who have taken money from them will be proof that Benchmark isn’t in the business of suing their entrepreneurs,” he says. “Benchmark will be fine.”

            Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-11/benchmark-signals-era-of-imperious-startup-founder-is-coming-to-an-end

            Lucifer Heat Wave Keeps Parts of Europe in Red Alert

            Belgrade, Serbia (AP) — No wonder it's been dubbed "Lucifer."

            A relentless heat wave that gripped parts of Europe this week has sent temperatures soaring to record highs for several days, causing at least two deaths and prompting authorities to issue severe weather warnings.

            "It is just too much," real estate agent Sasa Jovanovic, 52, said during an early morning walk in Serbia's capital, Belgrade, where the temperature was forecast to hit 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit) Saturday. "Sometimes it feels as if I cannot breathe."

            The extreme heat stifling Serbia, Romania, Croatia and parts of Spain, France and Italy has fueled wildfires, damaged crops and strained energy and water supplies. Authorities in some areas issued traffic restrictions and banned outdoor work during the hottest part of the day.

            Spain's national weather service on Saturday issued an emergency warning for high temperatures in 31 of the country's 50 provinces as forecasts predicted temperatures of up to 44 C (111.2 F).

            Western and northern Europe, in contrast, was experiencing colder and wetter weather.

            Although southern Europe is used to scorching summers, meteorologists have warned that hot spells lasting several days aren't that common.

            The public health institute in Belgrade issued heat instructions, telling people to keep wet towels on windows if there is no air conditioning, and avoid physical strain and alcohol.

            Thousands of residents sought refuge from the heat at the city's recreation area, swimming in the local lake and the Danube or the Sava rivers. Some of those who ventured to the city center dipped their feet or wet their hair in the fountains.

            The high temperatures came as a shock to Australian Mira Balic, who was visiting Serbia at a time when it's winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Belgrade was among the hottest cities in Europe on Saturday and hotter than Egypt's capital, Cairo — which is normally far hotter than central Europe.

            "I came here from Australia, where the temperature is 4 degrees (Celsius; 39.2F," Balic gasped. "This heat is killing me!"

            Animal rights groups urged citizens to place plastic bowls with water outside their buildings and in parks for the city's many stray dogs.

            In Croatia, health authorities have reported a surge in emergency calls over the past week. They appealed to the thousands of tourists vacationing along the country's Adriatic coast to be careful on the beaches and while traveling.

            In Romania, police banned heavy traffic on major roads in daylight hours during the weekend because of the heat wave, while trains slowed down. A train service in southern Serbia also was delayed earlier this week after tracks buckled in the heat.

            Romania reported two heat-related deaths — a 45-year-old man collapsed and died Friday while working in a field in the northeast, while a 60-year-old man died of a heart attack in the street in an eastern port Thursday.

            The state railway company in neighboring Hungary said it would distribute water at busy terminals. At the Budapest Zoo, Beliy and Seriy, a pair of 2-year-old polar bear cubs, were given huge chunks of ice and freezing-cold watermelons to help them withstand the weather conditions.

            Some 15 wildfires have been reported in Albania, and dozens of others throughout the region. Hot and dry weather has scorched crops amid fears of water shortages in Italy and Serbia as authorities appealed for care in consumption.

            In the Alpine nation of Slovenia, authorities reported earlier this week the first-ever "tropical night" at 1,500 meters (4,920 feet) in the mountains, meaning temperatures were higher than 20 C (68 F) during the night.

            ___

            Alison Mutler in Bucharest, Romania; Predrag Milic in Podgorica, Montenegro; Joseph Wilson in Madrid, and Pablo Gorondi in Budapest, Hungary, Ivana Bzganovic from Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this report.

              Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-05/-lucifer-heat-wave-keeps-parts-of-europe-in-red-alert

              Doctor delivers a baby right before she gives birth to her own

              A big day.
              Image: Shutterstock / Angyalosi Beata

              A doctor in Kentucky and her patient will always remember their babies’ birthdays.

              Amanda Hess, an OB/GYN in Frankfort, Kentucky, was in the hospital as she prepared to give birth to her daughter. While she waited, Hess heard another expectant mother who was closer to giving birth.

              The doctor went to the room, where a woman who happened to be one of her patients was fully dilated. The doctor on call was on his way to the hospital, but the baby was coming. So Hess stepped in and handled the delivery right before she went back to her own room to give birth.

              I just put on another gown to cover up my backside and put on some boots over my shoes, to keep from getting any fluid and all that stuff on me, and went down to her room and I knew her,” Hess told WKYT.

              “She was just glad to be able to get to push and have the baby out and not have to wait any longer,” she added.

              Then, Hess gave birth to her own daughter, Ellen Joyce.

              Congratulations to the two mothers! Now time for maternity leave.

              Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/07/29/doctor-delivers-baby-gives-birth/

              Here’s What Abe Can Learn From His Flying Visit to the Nordics

              Shinzo Abe may draw inspiration from his Nordic hosts to tackle three of his country’s biggest problems: chronically slow growth, an aging population and a stubbornly high gender gap (Spoiler alert: The solutions are closely related).

              The Japanese prime minister will be paying a visit to Sweden, Finland and Denmark after attending the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg. It’s unclear if any major business will be conducted (he’s just reached a major free trade agreement with the European Union), but that doesn’t make the two-day visit less interesting.

              Population Growth

              While in Stockholm, for instance, he may want to take a close look at how Sweden has successfully boosted short-term growth while also laying the groundwork for higher expansion rates in the future. The key is population growth.

              Sweden breached the landmark figure of 10 million inhabitants in January, with the total projected to reach 13 million in 2060, according to Statistics Sweden. Japan’s population, in contrast, is expected to drop. A young and growing population is key to maintaining a generous welfare state (the number of Swedes aged 65 and above will account for a quarter of the total population by 2060). In Sweden’s case, it has also helped boost growth via extra investments, for instance in housing.

              Sweden’s growth is fueled by two factors: Immigration (the country received one of the highest proportions of refugees per capita in Europe in 2015) and a birthrate that’s one of the highest in the continent.

              Gender Equality

              One good way of boosting the birthrate in a mature economy is to empower women. On this front, the Nordics are the experts.

              Source: WEF, 2016

              Abe’s stop in Helsinki would be a good place from where to steal some ideas on how to reduce the gender gap: Finland ranks second in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, while Japan is closer to the bottom. Of Finland, WEF says it has "fully closed the gender gap" on education and health and is the global runner-up in terms of political empowerment.

              While in Copenhagen, Abe may want to reflect on the fact that Denmark is stuck at sub-2 percent growth rates for the foreseeable future. Two reasons are being put forward for that: A slow down in its pursuit of full gender equality and a tightening of immigration laws that has left the country short of skilled workers.

                Country Gender gap (global ranking)
                Finland 2
                Sweden 4
                Denmark 19
                Japan 111

                Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-08/here-s-what-abe-can-learn-from-his-flying-visit-to-the-nordics

                Tourists, Locals Buy Nevada’s Legal Recreational Marijuana

                Las Vegas (AP) — Cheers and long lines of tourists and locals alike greeted the first day of sales of recreational marijuana on Saturday as Nevada became the fifth state with stores selling pot to the public in a market that is expected to outpace all others in the U.S. thanks to the millions of visitors who flock to Las Vegas each year.

                Veteran consumers, first-timers, twenty-somethings and retirees were among those who defied triple-digit temperatures before they made it into stores across the Las Vegas area, some of which opened shortly after midnight and later provided free water, live music, valet parking and coveted promotions on their valuable product. Eager employees guided customers and answered questions from product potency to Nevada's consumption regulations.

                Minnesota resident Edgar Rosas Lorenzo on Saturday flew with his family to Sin City for his sister's wedding. But even before he checked in to his hotel, he stopped at a dispensary on the Las Vegas Strip.

                Lorenzo, 21, said he learned of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada while he was at the airport waiting for his flight to depart. He drove with his sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law from the rental car facility in Las Vegas straight to the dispensary. They waited in line about 40 minutes before he could buy one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana and hemp wraps.

                "It was worth the wait. I'm going to come get some more tomorrow," Lorenzo said after paying about $60 in cash at Essence dispensary. "It helps me sleep. I get back pain. I have a slipped disk."

                Some dispensaries took to social media to spread the word or tried to draw in buyers with special events. Some gave away free marijuana to their first 100 customers, and at least one entered buyers into a raffle for free pot for a year.

                Those 21 and older with a valid ID can buy up to an ounce of pot. As of Friday, the state had licensed 44 dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana. Thirty-nine of those shops are in the Las Vegas area.

                Tourists — 42 million of which stop in Sin City every year — are expected to make nearly two of every three recreational pot purchases in Nevada. But people can only use the drug in a private home as it remains illegal to consume it in public, including the Strip, hotels and casinos. Violators face a $600 fine.

                "I have yet to figure that out," Lorenzo said of where he will smoke the weed he got at the Essence dispensary, which along with others had stacks of pamphlets stating the regulations in every checkout station.

                Meanwhile, Kristin Deneal got in line outside a pot shop at 5:45 a.m., after a different store that opened at midnight closed before she could make a purchase. She brought a folding chair and sat by the door, striking conversations with the security guard and others as the line continued to grow before doors opened at 9 a.m.

                Deneal, a Las Vegas resident, said she is elated at being able to legally buy the drug that for decades she has had to buy through acquaintances. Smoking marijuana helps her cope with health conditions while also working a stressful job at a bank, she said.

                "It looks like they have enough stuff for everyone, it's just a question of getting through the door," Deneal, 57, said.

                State Sen. Tick Segerblom, one of the main proponents of marijuana legalization in Nevada, made the first purchase at The Source dispensary at a strip mall. Deneal and others followed. An hour after the door opened, at least 80 transactions had been recorded.

                Some facilities are in strip malls, while others, in stereotypical Las Vegas fashion, are in neighborhoods shared by strip clubs. Some dispensaries have ATMs inside because they only accept cash transactions for marijuana.

                Lorenzo immediately posted photos of his stash on Snapchat. His friends have said they're jealous and asked where he bought the products, he said, adding that he'll plan another trip to Las Vegas specifically to legally purchase marijuana, not to visit the city's world famous casinos.

                "We just got here … Instead of looking around in Vegas, I'm in a dispensary," he said.

                In the afternoon, people walking along the Strip seemed to be obeying the state's ban on public pot smoking.

                Recreational marijuana sales began shortly after midnight, just months after voters approved legalization in November, marking the fastest turnaround from the ballot box to retail sales in the country.

                Hundreds of people lined up outside dispensaries that opened from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. and had to turn away customers like Deneal. At Essence on the Strip, people were excited and well-behaved as a lone security guard looked on. A cheer erupted when the doors opened.

                Despite the limits on where people can get high and restrictions on where the industry can advertise, dispensaries worked furiously to prepare for the launch. They stamped labels on pot products, stocked up their shelves, added security and installed extra checkout stations.

                Nevada joins Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska in allowing adults to buy the drug that's still banned by the federal government.

                "I've been living in Vegas for 15 years, and I keep missing the cities that legalize marijuana and edibles. So I'm happy that it's here now," said Babs Daitch, who was waiting in line.

                ___

                Associated Press writer Sally Ho contributed to this report.

                  Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-01/nevada-launches-sales-of-legal-recreational-marijuana

                  People are trolling the Obamacare repeal hashtag #HellerVoteYes

                  Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is a no on the Senate's healthcare bill.
                  Image: Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock

                  Nevada Sen. Dean Heller became the first Republican on Friday to say he wouldn’t vote for the Senate’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act because of its cuts to healthcare benefits for low-income Americans.

                  Naturally, a conservative, pro-Trump interest group is lobbying the senator to change his mind about the GOP effort to replace Obamacare. One of them promoted a trending hashtag on Twitter: “HellerVoteYes.”

                  Well, since the Republicans’ bill would eliminate most health services provided to the poor through Medicaid and raise costs for millions of Americans, people quickly seized on the hashtag to lobby Heller in the other directionand criticize Twitter for promoting the pro-repeal hashtag in the first place.

                  Four other Republicans are set to vote no on the bill, but only because they don’t think it goes far enough. Maybe #HellerVoteNo will start trending too.

                  Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/06/24/hellervoteyes-obamacare-repeal-senate-healthcare-twitter/