Top News Stories for Today – April 21, 2017
Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 91st birthday privately
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the world’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch, celebrated her 91st birthday in a usual low-key fashion Friday. Artillery gun salutes in London’s Hyde Park and at the Tower of London will mark the occasion although the queen, who normally spends her birthday privately, has no formal engagements planned.
Elizabeth was born April 21, 1926, in Bruton Street in central London when Calvin Coolidge was US President and Joseph Stalin had just taken control in the Soviet Union. She became queen in 1952 at 25. Despite her age, she regularly carries out official duties although she has cut back on the number of engagements in recent years, passing these onto other members of the Windsor family such as to her son and heir Prince Charles and grandsons, Princes William and Harry.
Polls show she remains very popular among Britons, and royal aides say there is little prospect of her abdicating. Asked if she was well during a trip to Northern Ireland last year, she quipped “Well, I’m still alive.” The queen has an official birthday in June, which is publicly marked with a large parade of soldiers through central London, known as Trooping the Color. VOA
Russia sends troops to N Korea border
Russian president Vladimir Putin has reportedly ordered troops and weapons to be sent to the country’s border with North Korea as tensions continue to escalate. Unverified video footage appears to show a train, believed to be one of three, loaded with military equipment and headed towards the 11-mile border between Russia and the secretive hermit state.
Another video appears to show military helicopters moving towards the Russian border as well as army combat vehicles moving across rugged terrain. A report from primemedia.RU claims: ‘Railway trains loaded with military equipment moving towards Primorsky region via Khabarovsk have been noticed by locals. A military official added: ‘The movement of military equipment by different means of transport to southern areas is being observed across Primorsky region over the past week.’ Yahoo News UK
US considering criminal charges against WikiLeaks’ Assange
Federal prosecutors are contemplating seeking criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and other members of the organization. Since 2010, the Justice Department has been investigating Assange and WikiLeaks, which came to prominence after posting files stolen by former Army soldier Chelsea Manning.
Former attorney general Eric Holder thought it would be too hard to bring charges against Assange because WikiLeaks wasn’t the only site to publish the documents, but the investigation wasn’t closed. Federal prosecutors are now drafting a memo mulling charges against WikiLeaks employees, including conspiracy, theft of government property, and violation of the Espionage Act, The Washington Post reports. Assange is living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, avoiding arrest stemming from rape allegations in Sweden. CNN, The Washington Post, The Week
A police officer dead in Paris shooting
A shooter opened fire Thursday in Paris’ Champs-Elysees shopping district, wounding two police officers and killing a third. The assailant was then shot and killed by police. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency about two hours after the shooting was first reported.
French officials said the suspect was previously known to authorities as an extremist. French police arrested two men earlier this week for allegedly planning a terrorist attack. The first round of France’s presidential election begins in three days. The Associated Press, Reuters, The Week
All-electric flying car take its first test in Germany
Munich-based Lilium Aviation announced an important milestone: the first test flight of its all-electric, two-seater, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) prototype. In a video provided by the Munich-based startup, the aircraft can be seen taking off vertically like a helicopter, and then accelerating into forward flight using wing-borne lift.
The craft is powered by 36 separate jet engines mounted on its 10-meter long wings via 12 movable flaps. At take-off, the flaps are pointed downwards to provide vertical lift. And once airborne, the flaps gradually tilt into a horizontal position, providing forward thrust.
Trump warns Canada on trade
Trump warned Canada on Thursday to stop shielding its dairy farmers from US competition and reiterated his disdain for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it “a disaster for our country.” “What they’ve done to our dairy farmers is a disgrace,” Trump told reporters Thursday in the Oval Office.
Canada protects its dairy industry with high tariffs on imports and controls domestic production as a means of supporting dairy prices. Canada imposed an import tax on filtered milk, which had previously been duty free, after the country’s dairy farmers complained about US imports.
The trade dispute is affecting dairy farmers in northern US border States, such as Wisconsin, New York and Minnesota, and prompted Trump to announce that his administration will propose changes to NAFTA in two weeks. Trump’s threat to do away with or amend NAFTA could adversely affect the economy of Canada, whose largest trading partner is the US VOA
Scientists discover bacterial product can lower blood sugar
Scientists have discovered that compounds derived from some bacteria can lower blood sugar levels in obese people with prediabetes, possibly preventing diabetes itself from developing. Scientists call the bacteria-derived compounds postbiotics. They are not like probiotics, which are whole, live bacteria people take to change the microbial environment of the gut to ward off disease and improve digestion.
Postbiotics instead are beneficial pieces of bacteria cell walls that are easily absorbed by the body, which seem to make insulin work better. Postbiotics can also be derived from disease-causing microbes, say researchers. VOA
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