Hello, intrepid news-seeker!
Hopefully you have noticed that things are a little bit different around here. We've spent a long time planning how best to deliver you the best possible platform for engaging and provocative pieces. We believe that Voice is that platform.
Your account will work exactly the same way, and you are still welcome (and encouraged) to write your own pieces on the website. We will still post all the same great content, and hopefully some new features that will interest you too!
I've detailed more of our objectives and hopes over in my welcome article, so if you want to know more about where the website will be going then feel free to check that out.
I believe you came here for a weekly round-up of news, so I will round up this intro and bid you good day for now.
Have a great weekend,
First round of french presidential elections provide no clear winner
The first round of the French presidential elections were held last Sunday, and because there was no clear majority there will be run-off election between the top two candidates on 7 May. People around the world were watching these elections with interest due to the growing rise of populism in France, as represented by Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN). As it so happens, she is in the runoff election, alongside independent candidate Emmanuel Macron.
The FN have seen significant grown under the leadership of Le Pen, who took over from her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, and then ejected him from the party for Nazi comments. The FN is opposed to the EU and migration, adopting an economic protectionist model, and a rejection of Islamic culture, which they have repeatedly linked to terrorism.
Emmanuel Macron started his independent movement En Marche! (On the move) after leaving the incumbent Socialist Party, where he served as minister for the economy. Before that he attained degrees in philosophy and public affairs, and also worked at Rothschild investment back, where he reportedly became a millionaire.
Jonathan Demme died, aged 73
Oscar-winning film-maker Jonathan Demme died this week following complications caused by oesophageal cancer and heart disease. The acclaimed filmmaker was best known for directing The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia and Rachel Getting Married. His last credit as a director was for an episode of the TV show Shots Fired.
Messages of tribute have been released throughout the week by many, including Meryl Streep who described his death as "a big loss to the caring world", while Jodie Foster said "Jonathan was as quirky as his comedies and as deep as his dramas. He was pure energy, the unstoppable cheerleader for anyone creative.
A private family funeral will be held.
Source: New York Times
Photo: Bruno Chatelin
Scientists grew a baby sheep in an artificial womb
Eight fetal lambs have been grown inside artificial wombs, potentially paving the way towards humans.
Called the Biobag by the team at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the womb is similar in appearance to a ziplock bag, but protects the fetus from the outside world. It it filled with an electrolyte solution similar to amniotic fluid in the uterus, and has tubes that circulate blood and remove carbon dioxide for oxygen.
While it may see like we are advancing towards a world where we can eliminate the risks of pregnancy, the hope is that the biobag will improve care options for premature infants. Prematurity is the leading cause of death for newborns, and from those that survive, between 20-50% of them will have health conditions that are caused by the stunted development of their organs.
The Verge have covered the Biobag in detail and also have a video, so I recommend checking it out if you want more details.
Source: The Verge
Image: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
First malaria vaccine released
A huge step in relieving poverty stricken countries has been taken this week; Kenya, Ghana and Malawi will receive the world's first vaccine against Malaria.
The vaccine will be introduced in 2018, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) said has "the potential to save tens of thousands of lives".
Malaria is spread by Mosquito bites; the new jab trains the immune system to attack the Malaria parasite. The vaccine requires four doses - once a month for three months and a final jab 18 months later. Due to the high maintenance of the vaccine, currently it is not certain if it will be possible to use in the poorest areas of the world where access to healthcare is limited.
Therefore Kenya, Ghana and Malawi will act as pilot countries, involving more than 750,000 children aged between five and seventeen months. During early clinical trials, the four doses have been shown to prevent nearly four in ten cases in in this age group.
Desperation for prevention techniques is high, as this statistic is significantly lower than approved vaccines for other conditions.
The pilots are being funded by: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Unitaid, the WHO and GSK.
Source: BBC News
Europe may allow united Ireland to join the EU following Brexit
This week it has been discussed that some European leaders may allow a recognised and united Ireland to join the EU, paving a swift return for Northern Ireland. At the first Brexit summit meeting this Saturday, the 27 leaders are expected to discuss this development.
This is a victory for the Irish Government whom had been pressing for the inclusion of a GDR Clause like that used by Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, this possibility has begun to raise fears that Brexit could lead to the dissolvement of the UK.
EU diplomats are prepared for a strong negative reaction from the UK.
Source: The Guardian
Sadiq Khan pulls support controversial garden bridge
The mayor of London Sadiq Khan has refused to provide the vital financial guarantees required for the construction of a controversial garden bridge. First envisioned by Joanna Lumley and winning support from then London mayor Boris Johnson and Chancellor George Osborne, the bridge was was meant to run from Temple on the north side of the Thames to South Bank.
Johnson and Osborne committed £60m in public funding, with the rest meant to come from corporate donations. However, delays saw the costs rise, and there is now a funding gap over £70m. Part of the agreement for the bridge was that future operation and maintenance costs would be guaranteed from mayoral funds if the trust was unable to meet them through commercial and fundraising activities.
Khan said "I am simply not prepared to risk a situation where the taxpayer has to step in and contribute significant additional amounts to ensure the project is completed."
Although Khan does not have the power to stop the project, the removal of public support has likely killed the bridge project.
Source: Financial Times
Photo: Heatherwick Studio
Amazon launches the Echo Look
Amazon has this week released details of its latest smart device - the Amazon Echo Look. The voice-controlled selfie camera is meant to live in your bedroom and take pictures of you in your different outfits, and use AI to then provide outfit recommendations. Being an Amazon product it will also offer suggestions on what clothing to buy.
But Amazon pitches it as more than just a selfie camera, as the company says it will use machine learning and fashion advice from experts to inform you as to which of your outfits are more "in" at that time.
It will also perform all the duties the current range of Echo devices do, allowing you to ask for travel information, news bulletins and play music all through voice commands.
The device is not yet on sale, and will only be available through invitation by Amazon if you are a US resident.
Florence Pugh, UK's new up-and-coming actress debuts in Lady Macbeth
Since her breaking role in The Falling 2015, Florence Pugh has become one of the UK's rising stars and now with Lady Macbeth hitting the big-screen this week, the 21-year-old is about to step into her first leading role. Based on the 1865 Novel Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District the film is already being hailed as "a daring journey into the darkest corners of the world of bonnets and bows".
Pugh jumped at the chance to play the part, claiming as soon as she read the script she knew it would be right for her. Shot in only 24 days with a "miniscule budget" in County Durham, the movie has already begun receiving 5-star reviews. Brilliantly Chilling – The Guardian, Plain Terrific – The Spectator.
In line to be the most spectacular film of the season, this is one cinema visit you won't want to miss!
Source: BBC News
Photo: Protagonist Pictures