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California Group Working to Help Ukraine With Low-Cost Incubators 

A San Francisco area-based nonprofit is working to send easily operated, simply maintained and low-cost incubators to Ukraine. 

After learning that 260,000 women in Ukraine are pregnant, with many now giving birth in bomb shelters or without access to modern medical care, Embrace Global is working to send 3,000 of its incubators to war ravaged areas of the country.

Co-founder and CEO Jane Chen launched the initiative at the recent TED 2022 conference in Vancouver.  The company was already sending 200 incubators with UNICEF.

While traditional incubators require continuous electricity, these devices, which look like small sleeping bags, can be charged like a cellphone with electricity or a heater that works off hot water. The charge lasts up to eight hours.

“The core technology is a pouch of a waxlike substance called a phase change material,” Chen said. “And so this, once melted, can maintain the exact same temperature of 98 degrees, human body temperature, for up to eight hours at a stretch, and it can be reheated thousands of times.”

Far less expensive

Each device costs $300 to $400, substantially cheaper than the $20,000 cost of a basic traditional incubator, which also requires continuous electricity and trained personnel. The low-cost incubators require virtually no training and are designed to be very simple to use.

Chen developed the device while attending Stanford University and after then spending four years in India, where the devices have been distributed to 12 states.  She said the war in Ukraine was creating a new use for the incubators.

“This is a really ideal solution, actually, for a humanitarian crisis like this, because of the fact that the incubator is portable, and it works without stable electricity,” she said. “And on top of that, you don’t need a trained caregiver. The training for this is extremely simple. It was made to be very intuitive to you. So it can be used in those types of situations.”

This is the first time Chen and her organization have sent their incubators to Ukraine.

Besides India, the incubators are also being distributed through parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and Nepal.

Easy, accurate 

Dr. Geeta Arora, a New York City internist, said she loved the fact that the incubators can be used so easily in the developing world.

“My family comes from a very poor part of India,” Arora said. “And there’s nothing available. And most babies … you have to wrap them or strap them to another body to try to keep them warm. But with this, you know exactly what temperature the baby’s going to be.”

For Chen and Embrace Global, the challenge around the world is getting people on the ground to make sure the incubators are getting to the right places and people.  This was recently the case in Zambia.

A a nurse at a government facility “reached out to us and was just really passionate,” Chen said. “She was seeing the number of babies that were dying because of a lack of incubators.  And so we sent incubators to her. She, as the champion, really brought it to the attention of all of the hospital staff. And with that, we were able to expand it to other hospitals in the area.”

In a little over a decade, Chen estimated, Embrace Global’s incubator has already saved the lives of 350,000 babies around the world. Her organization’s goal is to save a million and then have the product available to everybody who needs it.

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First US Case of H5N1 Bird Flu in Human Confirmed in Colorado

A Colorado prison inmate who worked at a poultry farm culling infected birds has become the first person in the U.S. to test positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment confirmed the case Thursday.

H5N1 has been spreading rapidly among birds in the U.S. since February but does not appear to pose a significant threat to people because humans need to be in close contact with infected birds.

The virus has been seen among commercial birds in 29 states and among wild birds in 34 states.

More than 35 million chickens and turkeys have been destroyed in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.

The infected man, who is younger than 40, reported fatigue for several days and made a full recovery.

“The inmate was part of a prison work crew composed of inmates nearing release, which had been working at the farm before a case of bird flu was confirmed there on April 19,” said Lisa Wiley, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections.

In December 2021, a British man with 20 pet ducks was infected with the virus.

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Muslim Students at Princeton University Break Ramadan Fast Together

For many students, living and studying at one of the most prestigious schools in the United States can be stressful and sometimes a little lonely. But some Muslim students at Princeton University can find comfort in their community during the month of Ramadan. VOA’s Nida Samir reports.

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New NASA Spacecraft Nearly Ready for Asteroid Mission

After years of preparation and testing, a new NASA spacecraft is almost ready for its mission to an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists hope the journey will uncover clues into the origins of Earth. For VOA, Villafañe visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to see the spacecraft and speak with mission investigators.

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Economy & business/Silicon Valley & Technology
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Google Adds Ways to Keep Personal Info Private in Searches

Google has expanded options for keeping personal information private from online searches.

The company said Friday it will let people request that more types of content such as personal contact information like phone numbers, email and physical addresses be removed from search results.

The new policy also allows the removal of other information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials.

The company said in a statement that open access to information is vital, “but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private.”

“Privacy and online safety go hand in hand. And when you’re using the internet, it’s important to have control over how your sensitive, personally identifiable information can be found,” it said.

Google Search earlier had permitted people to request that highly personal content that could cause direct harm be removed. That includes information removed due to doxxing and personal details like bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for fraud.

But information increasing pops up in unexpected places and is used in new ways, so policies need to evolve, the company said.

Having personal contact information openly available online also can pose a threat and Google said it had received requests for the option to remove that content, too.

It said that when it receives such requests it will study all the content on the web page to avoid limiting availability of useful information or of content on the public record on government or other official websites.

“It’s important to remember that removing content from Google Search won’t remove it from the internet, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly, if you’re comfortable doing so,” it said.

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Australian Musical Charts Family’s Escape from Nazis in Europe

A musical that depicts the remarkable escape from the Holocaust of a renowned Jewish sculptor and his family is about to open in Australia. Driftwood recounts the journey of Karl Duldig, his wife Slawa Horowitz-Duldig – inventor of the modern foldable umbrella – and their baby daughter, Eva. They fled the Nazis from Vienna in 1938, sought refuge in Singapore, but were deported to Australia in September 1940.

“Driftwood” is based on a 2017 memoir by Karl Duldig’s daughter, Eva. She was a child when the family arrived in Australia. It was during World War II, and the family were classified as enemy aliens. They were interned in an isolated camp in the state of Victoria until 1942, when Karl Duldig joined the Australian army.

Eva de Jong-Duldig, who became a talented tennis player and reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 1961, says the musical is an epic story of survival.

“My parents were inspiration. I think what I admire most is their resilience after coming through such a terrible period in which they lost nearly all their family. They made new lives here in Australia and they became wonderful art teachers, and my dad became really very well recognized as a sculptor,” she noted.

They rebuilt their lives as artists in Melbourne in what is described as a “magical” family history of “creativity, perseverance and freedom.”

Their granddaughter, Tania De Jong, is one of the musical’s main performers. She told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., that Driftwood has become a story with a global appeal.

“Both of us just felt a really strong yearning to create a new Australian musical that was deep and substantial and told a very meaningful story. But we do also have an enormous amount of interest from international film producers to turn this epic story into a feature film as well,” she expressed.

Karl Duldig died in Melbourne in 1986. His wife, Slawa, died in 1975.

The show has had positive reviews from Australia’s Jewish community.

Hadassah Australia, an organization that supports programs that connect the Australian community with Israel, said it looked “forward to the success of the musical telling [of Eva de Jong-Duldig] parents’ story.”

Theatrepeople.com.au, an online publication, said “Driftwood” “features a fluid sense of time, as characters reconstruct past experiences, to make sense of history. It is an epic, ambitious theatrical piece and a truly original Australian story.”

The Australian Jewish News said it would be giving away free tickets to the show’s opening night.

The world premiere takes place at Monash University in Melbourne May 13.

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China, N.Korea Halt Border Rail Crossing Over COVID Fears

China has suspended cross-border freight train services with North Korea following consultations after COVID-19 infections in its border city of Dandong, the foreign ministry said Friday.

The suspension came within four months after North Korea eased border lockdowns enforced early in 2020 against the coronavirus, measures global aid groups have blamed for its worsening economic woes and risks to food supplies for millions.

“Due to the COVID situation in Dandong, after friendly consultation between both sides, China has decided to suspend freight services from Dandong to Sinuiju,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said authorities in Dandong had acted on a request from North Korea, citing unidentified sources.

Authorities in Seoul, the capital of neighboring South Korea, said they were keeping watch on the situation.

The Chinese city of Dandong has been fighting a COVID-19 outbreak since late April, reporting 220 infections from April 24-27.

By Wednesday, authorities had locked down 77 residential compounds, while people elsewhere were asked to keep to designated areas.

North Korea has not officially reported any COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began but adopted border curbs among its anti-virus measures.

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South Korea to End Outdoor Mask Mandate

South Korea said Friday it will lift its outdoor mask mandate next week in response to a steady drop in COVID-19 cases after an omicron-fueled surge.

The announcement comes after Seoul dropped almost all other social-distancing measures earlier this month, ending two years of strict requirements that put a massive strain on the country’s small businesses.

From Monday, residents will no longer be required to wear face masks outdoors unless attending an event with more than 50 participants, health authorities said.

“As social-distancing measures are lifted and the mask mandate is being adjusted, people are increasingly returning to their normal lives,” Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), told reporters.

“This is all thanks to the patience and cooperation of the people over a long period of time,” Jeong added.

South Korea’s incoming administration, headed by conservative president-elect Yoon Suk-y, on Friday criticized the decision to end the mask mandate as “premature,” questioning if it had been based solely on “virus prevention measures.”

Ahn Cheol-soo, chief of Yoon’s transition team, had previously said the new government planned to make a decision on the mandate in May.

South Korea reported 50,568 new coronavirus cases Friday, well down from the peak of more than 620,000 a day in mid-March.

The KDCA’s Jeong said there had been a “steady decrease” in COVID-19 cases for the past six weeks.

“The number of new critically ill patients is also decreasing,” she said, adding hospitals had enough beds to treat new inpatients.

More than 86% of South Korea’s 51 million people have been fully vaccinated, with the majority also receiving a booster shot.

About 22,700 people in the country have died from the coronavirus — a 0.13% fatality rate, one of the world’s lowest. 

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