October 7th, 2020.
General Mark Milley, the United States’ top military authority, as well several other senior Pentagon leaders, have been placed in quarantine after attending meetings with a Coast Guard admiral who tested positive for COVID-19. The European Parliament passed a resolution blaming Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies for the failure of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur. The Brazilian National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage has set up a taskforce to restore the Itamaraty Palace, in Rio de Janeiro, and provide a new management model for the country’s national heritage. At least four million people have already voted in advance for this year’s presidential election in the United States, either by mail or by personally delivering their ballots. Finally, this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to two scientists, the first pair of women to share the prize, responsible for developing a revolutionary method for making extremely precise changes in the DNA of living cells.
Take a look at our highlights.
Senior Pentagon leadership in quarantine after officer tests positive
The biggest military authority in the United States, general Mark Milley, and other top-ranking senior Pentagon leaders are currently isolated in quarantine after attending meetings with a Coast Guard admiral, Charles Ray, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Monday. Chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said that Ray was present during several meetings of the Department of Defense; according to him, “out of an abundance of caution, all potential close contacts from these meetings are self-quarantining and have been tested this morning. No Pentagon contacts have exhibited symptoms and we have no additional positive tests to report at this time.” As president Donald Trump’s main military advisor, general Milley is being kept confined at a safe space where he has direct communication with the president.
European Parliament blames Mercosur deal failure on Bolsonaro’s policies
Members of the European Parliament approved on Tuesday a motion attributing the rejection of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. According to the text of the resolution, the Parliament “is extremely concerned about Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policy, which goes against the commitments made in the Paris agreement, in particular as regards combating global warming and protecting biodiversity.” Brazilian Foreign minister Ernesto Araújo and Economy minister Paulo Guedes had already stated that European farming groups were acting to prevent or delay the conclusion of the deal between Mercosur and the EU.
Taskforce to restore Rio’s Itamaraty Palace
A taskforce set up on September 18th will promote restoration works in the Itamaraty Palace, one of Rio de Janeiro’s architectural treasures, and begin to test a new model of management and financial sustainability of Brazil’s national heritage. The initiative is being developed by the Rio de Janeiro branch of the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage, in a partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Relations, with support provided by the Ministry of Tourism and the Special Secretariat for Culture. The partnership will have a two-pronged approach: the first one consisting of restoring and revitalizing the palace complex, and the other of seeking new models for management of monuments, inserting them into the daily life of society.
4 million have already voted in the 2020 US presidential elections
According to the United States Elections Project, responsible for compiling data from the country’s electoral system, at least four million Americans have already voted in this year’s upcoming presidential elections. And the number tends to rise even more, since there is still one month before the election day, scheduled for November 3rd. In the US, citizens may vote in advance, either by sending their ballots through the mail or by personally handing it in at predetermined locations; and this method has been much more used this time than in previous elections due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In 2016, for instance, only 75 thousand early votes had been registered four weeks before the election day. It is estimated that 80 million people will vote by mail.
Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to researchers who developed ‘genetic scissors’
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded today to French scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier and her US colleague, Jennifer A. Doudna, for the development of a method for genome editing known as “genetic scissors”. The researchers, the first two women to share the prize, developed in 2012 a gene-editing method called CRISP/Cas9, which enables making extremely precise and specific changes to the DNA contained in living cells of animals, plants and micro-organisms. “There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionized basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments,” said Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Nobel Committee for Chemistry. Charpentier said she hoped the win sent a “positive message to the young girls who would like to follow the path of science, and to show them that women in science can also have an impact through the research that they are performing.”