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Fortnightly News Roundup 22nd July – 5th August 2018

People sat on roof of flooded house in Laos
Villagers sat on the roof of a house after a dam collapse in Laos. Credit: REUTERS
People sat on roof of flooded house in Laos
Villagers sat on the roof of a house after a dam collapse in Laos. Credit: REUTERS

Being well informed isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. In this feature, The Yorker is bringing you a fortnightly roundup of politics-free national and international news. From the stories you’ve seen to some you might not have, this is everything you need to know from the past two weeks.

Toronto shooting

At about 10 pm Eastern Time (2 am GMT), a gunman opened fire in Greektown, Toronto. The gunman, 29-year-old Toronto resident named Faisal Hussain, was found dead at the scene, it is unclear if he killed himself, or if he died in a firefight with police. He killed two people and injured 13 others. Officials are calling some of those injuries life threatening. Of the two-people killed, one was an 18-year-old woman named Reese Fallon, and Julianna Kozis, a 10-year-old girl. It’s still unclear what the shooter’s motives were, but family members have said that Hussain had a history of mental health issues that were not responding to treatment. Gun violence in Toronto has been on the rise in recent years. Mark Saunders, Toronto Police Chief said “There is no magic pill that we’re going to take to say all is well,” he added, “It’s not going to happen overnight.”


Women ‘illegally taking abortion pills at home’

A report by the Victoria Derbyshire programme for the BBC showed that more women are opting to buy the abortion pill online and take it at home, even though it is illegal to do so. In England, women having what is known as an early medical abortion, must take two types of pills. By law, they must be taken every 24 to 48 hours in a hospital or clinic. They can be taken at the same time; however, this increases the chance of complications. Even so, hospitals are increasingly allowing patients to do this as woman may not be able to make it back to the clinic for the second time. The problems do not stop here. After the second tablet is administered, most abortions start within 2 – 5 hours. However, there is a small percentage that start within 30 minutes. This has left some women beginning the process in public, leaving them throwing up and bleeding on the floors of cars, taxis, tubes, and buses. It is because of this that some women are choosing to illegally buy the pills online.


There is no medical reason why the tablets cannot be taken at home, in fact, the World Health Organisation recommends it. Prof Lesley Regan, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told the Victoria Derbyshire programme: “We know that when women are allowed to take the second tablet at home that it is safe, it’s highly effective and they much, much prefer it.” Moreover, the law in Scotland allows women to take the second pill at home, and there has not been a rise in complications. The Department of Health and Social Care said it was “currently monitoring the proceedings in Scotland closely”. Watch the full 12-minute clip from the Victoria Derbyshire programme here.


Dam collapse in Laos

On Monday 23rd July, a billion-dollar hydropower dam that was under construction in Laos collapsed leaving hundreds of people unaccounted for and thousands homeless. The official Lao News Agency reports that the private company that was building the dam, SK Engineering & Construction of South Korea, were still uncertain about exactly what caused the collapse. However, they say they are cooperating fully with the authorities and were helping with the rescue effort. International Rivers, an advocacy group that opposed the construction of the dam, said in a statement online that the dam had collapsed as flooding from heavy monsoon rains caused it to overflow on Monday night. “Unpredictable and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent due to climate change, posing grave safety concerns to millions who live downstream of dams,” they added.


What else do you need to know?

A 7.0 earthquake has hit the Indonesian island of Lombok. A tsunami warning is in effect and at least 39 people have been killed.


A report has been released by MPs that called the sex abuse scandal in the aid sector “endemic” and “complacency verging on complicity”. Read more about it here.


The world’s oldest person died. At 117-years-old, Japanese citizen, Chiyo Miyako, held the official record. The record now passes to another 117-year-old man, also from Japan.


A new Ebola vaccine and rapid response are being credited for halting an outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo. The outbreak started in April and just 33 people have died. This compared to the 11,000 that died in the 2014 West African outbreak.


Also in medical news, it is now easier for doctors in the UK to remove food and water from a patient in a persistent vegetative state.


In lighter medical news, researchers are getting closer to creating robotic hands that mimic the real thing.


Apple became America’s first $1 trillion company. However, it’s not the world’s first $1 trillion company. The Chinese oil giant PetroChina reached the $1 trillion mark in 2007, although the market collapse saw that tumble in 2008. Moreover, Armaco, a Saudi Arabian oil company, is valued at $2 trillion. However, the company does not trade publicly.  


A Texan stole a shark by disguising it as a baby.


All 103 passengers and all four-crew survived a plane crash in Mexico.


Pope Francis declared the death penalty wrong in all cases.


The UK’s interest rate has increase to 0.75%: good news for savers, but bad news for those with a variable interest rate mortgage.


A giant colony of King Penguins in the Indian Ocean has lost 90% of its population.


Constant lava flow from the volcano Kīlauea has seen Hawaii’s coastline grow a mile longer.


A 2,000-year-old public library is found in Germany.  


Sadly, Barry Chuckle has died.


UK law on organ donation will change in 2020. Read more about the changes here.


Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham won Love Island by a landslide, with over two and a half million people voting. Jack and Danni got 79.6% of the vote, compared with Laura Anderson and Paul Knops’ 8.43% of the vote, Kaz Crossley and Josh Denzel’s 6.05% of the vote, and Megan Barton Hanson and Wes Nelson’s 5.86% of the vote.

And finally

Here’s some inspiration the next time you don’t want to share.