Robotic arm allows paralyzed man to feel in world-first breakthrough.


The ultimate goal is to create a system identical to that of a natural arm. (Image courtesy of

Nathan Copeland, a 28-year-old paralyzed man, was able to feel through his fingers using a new type of robotic arm. The robotic arm is connected to surgically implanted microelectrodes about half the size of a shirt button. These electrodes are placed directly in his brain. Mr. Copeland, who has no sensation or movement in his lower arms or hands, described the feeling as “a really weird sensation” and said it felt like his fingers were being touched or pushed. While he is able to feel pressure through his fingers and gauge its strength, he is unable to distinguish temperatures. This discovery could revolutionize the treatment of paralysis.

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Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej dies at 88.


During Bhumibol’s reign, Thailand became a widely cited development success, becoming an upper income country in less than a generation. (Image courtesy of Apichart Weerawong/Associated Press)

After seven decades on the throne, Bhumibol, the world’s longest reigning monarch, passed away on 13 October 2016 at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. Thailand’s prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, announced the nation would observe a year-long mourning period and confirmed that Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn would ascend the throne. All TV channels in Thailand, including foreign satellite stations, have been replaced with black and white royal broadcasts. Throughout his reign, Bhumibol had become a unifying father figure and a source of stability in a country that has endured over a dozen coups since his ascension to the throne in 1946. His death marks a period of uncertainty unprecedented in Thailand’s modern history.   

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Hurricane Matthew devastates Haitian farmers.


The storm wiped out many crops such as banana, grapefruit, and avocado trees, which had been nurtured by families for a generation. (Image courtesy of Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press)

Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti on 4 October, leaving a wake of destruction. The death toll has risen to 546, although it will likely continue to rise as figures from more remote regions arrive. Economic losses appear to be catastrophic, such as in the Grand-Anse region, where nearly 100 percent of crops and 50 percent of livestock were lost. While vegetable crops and rice fields can be reestablished quickly, the loss of mature fruit trees, which can take up to a decade to fully grow back, is a devastating blow. A “flash appeal” for Haiti was issued by the UN humanitarian agency, but has so far only received 5 per cent of the  $120 million requested.

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 Samsung’s costly Note 7 recall.

This Galaxy Note 7 overheated and caught fire after its battery overheated and destroyed the phone. (Image courtesy of Shawn Minter/CTV News)

This Galaxy Note 7 caught fire after its battery overheated and destroyed the phone. (Image courtesy of Shawn Minter/CTV News)

Samsung has recalled its Galaxy Note 7 due to a number of fires caused by overheating batteries. Over 250 million phones were recalled and Samsung urges all buyers to stop using the device. The company estimated that ceasing the production of the Note 7 will cost approximately three billion USD and the total recall adds up to at least 5.3 billion. To make up for the lost profits, Samsung promised to expand its sales of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which will be released in the spring. Samsung is still trying to retain its customers by offering one hundred dollars for the Note 7 as well other Samsung devices. The company said it aims to improve the product but did not elaborate.

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Canada and EU try to save CETA after rejection by Belgium region.

When CETA, a Canada-European Union trade agreement was introduced three years ago, it was expected to be a a historic stepping stone for Canada and the EU. CETA, or Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, involves over half a billion people, includes 29 countries, and holds over fifteen trillion dollars of economic trade. Disappointingly, the agreement has been rejected by a Belgium region called Wallonia.

Graffiti in Brussels, Belgium about against CETA. (Image courtesy of Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

Graffiti in Brussels, Belgium about against CETA. (Image courtesy of Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

Wallonia claims that CETA will not be beneficial for the region and wants clarification on several parts of the 1600-page agreement. Wallonia is a poorer area of Belgium, with unemployment at 16%. In Belgium’s government system, this region has veto power, so their rejection of CETA prevents its implementation in the country. While many hope this will not be the end of the trade agreement, others are rejoicing. Michael Cermak, a member of an umbrella group against CETA, considers the vote a victory. He points out that there is also increased opposition of the idea in Germany, Spain, Austria, and France. The stalemate has put pressure on the EU, who has failed to secure an agreement after seven years of negotiations. Canada and the EU will work hard to bring CETA back in the following months.

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