Scientists announced a major advance in the fight against Ebola yesterday, revealing two of four drugs used in a field test significantly cut death rates from the deadly virus. The two drugs - antibody-based treatments that stimulate the body's immune system to fight the virus - showed mortality rates of near 10% when patients arrived soon after infection. Current treatments still had mortality rates around 50%. Ebola is deadly in about 70% of cases that go without treatment, though a large hurdle has been getting sick patients to see doctors. The current epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen nearly 2,800 cases, killing almost 1,900 people, mostly rural villagers in the country's northeast where doctors are viewed with suspicion. A recent Harvard study revealed one-quarter of adults in the region don't believe the virus exists. Health officials are hopeful the high success rate of the new treatments is enough to turn public perception.
Protests Strangle Hong Kong Travel.
Hong Kong officials canceled all flights in and out of the region mid-Monday, as anti-government protestors peacefully demonstrated in the airport for the fourth straight day. The shut-down follows ten straight weekends of increasingly violent protests that began with outrage over an extradition bill, but which have grown into general pro-democracy demonstrations over what is viewed as an increasingly submissive relationship with the central Chinese government. Hong Kong, which is a semi-autonomous part of China, has had a fraught relationship with Beijing since 1997 when it was handed over from the United Kingdom. In a sign of China's grip, Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific said it would fire employees who supported the protest after bowing to pressure from the central government. Flights struggled to resume this morning.
Some worry a crackdown in Hong Kong could spill over to similar regions like Taiwan.
Endangered Species Act.
The Trump administration announced an overhaul to the nation's premier law protecting endangered species yesterday, making it easier to declassify a species and loosening protections for species which are threatened but not yet considered endangered. While the protections were set forth by Congress in 1973, the executive branch has leeway to determine how to apply the law. The rule change also includes a new allowance for economic assessments to be considered when determining whether a species should be protected, an expansion of existing requirements around economic analysis (read more). Supporters of the changes, which appear likely to be challenged in court, say the Act has become too expansive and costs the economy billions in lost investment opportunities. Critics point out that the Act has saved a number of species from extinction, including the recent highly-publicized recovery of the California condor.
Editor's Note: Simone Biles' amazing performance left us dizzy, and yesterday we incorrectly said her historic triple-double was two backflips and two twists. Of course we didn't mean to sell the feat short - there's a third twist in there.
>Diana, a musical about the late Princess Diana, to make Broadway debut March 2020; musical is co-written by Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan (More)
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> Rapper Missy Elliott to receive Video Vanguard award at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards; Elliott is first female rapper recipient in the award's 35-year history (More)
Science & Technology.
> FBI will reportedly begin data harvesting from Facebook and Twitter to monitor potential national security threats (More) | ...and the White House is considering regulating social media to prevent "anti-conservative" bias (More)
> Study shows beta-amyloid plaques that play a key role in Alzheimer's also damage the blood-brain barrier, allowing other damaging toxins to enter brain (More)
> Astronomers set to begin 5-year galaxy mapping experiment to reconstruct 11 billion years of universe expansion; goal is detailed understanding of the role of mysterious "dark energy" (More) | What is that? (More)
Business & Markets.
> US stock markets down (S&P 500 -1.2%, Dow -1.5%, Nasdaq -1.2%) on continued trade war fears (More) | Argentine stock market falls ~38%, peso (Argentine currency) falls ~15% vs US dollar following Sunday’s primary election results (More)
> Sources say CBS & Viacom are in the final stages of an all-stock merger, would create massive media business with brands including CBS, Showtime, MTV, Nickelodeon & Paramount’s movie studio, among others (More)
> Verizon to sell blogging website Tumblr to WordPress, a leading online-publishing tool; terms not disclosed, Tumblr originally acquired for $1B+ in 2013 (More)
Politics & World Affairs.
> White House expands definition of "public charge" under immigration law to include those likely to receive food assistance, other aid; likely to increase green card rejections (More)
> Report says guards overseeing Jeffrey Epstein prior to suicide were overworked, one was a substitute (More)
> Friend of Dayton shooter reportedly bought body armor, gun accessories used in shooting; officials charged 24-year-old Ethan Kollie on charges unrelated to shooting (More)
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India's Holiest River is Drying Up.
National Geographic | Paul Salopek. As both a spiritual and economic cornerstone, the Ganges has nourished India for millennia. Now the river, which sustains roughly 500 million people, is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use. (Read)
The King of Dreams.
Marshall Project | Christie Thompson. A Texas man made a fortune by promising desperate families what they wanted the most - to bring their loved ones home from prison. (Read)
Historybook: Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes conquers Aztecs, ending Aztec Empire (1521); Sharpshooter Annie Oakley born (1860); Fidel Castro born (1926); Construction of the Berlin Wall begins (1961); RIP baseball great Mickey Mantle (1995).
"If I knew I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." - Mickey Mantle
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