News In Focus: A Look at the World’s Most Interesting Stories


Americas: World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Thursday that the Zika virus was “now spreading explosively” in the Americas, and as many as four million people could be infected by the end of the year.

The virus was first detected in 1947 in a monkey in Uganda. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are relatively mild, including fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. But most people with the virus may not feel any ill effects.

Since last spring, cases of Zika disease have been found in more than 20 countries. But what is scary about the virus is the possible link to birth defects.

Pregnant women infected with Zika may possibly give birth to infants with microcephaly — a rare condition of having abnormally small heads and damaged brains.

WHO’s Dr. Bruce Aylward cautioned that there was no definitive link between Zika and these disorders but sees a legitimate reason for concern. On the other hand, CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said there is a “strong” suggestion they are connected, the CNN reports.

The global health agency will convene a special meeting on Monday to decide whether to declare a public health emergency, according to the New York Times.

For more, we go this BBC report:


Finance: Japan cut interest rates below zero on Friday.

The move, which took the financial market by surprise, followed the Bank of Japan (BoJ)’s announcement that it would cut its benchmark interest rate below zero, to minus 0.1%.

The Investopedia explains that a negative interest rate means that, instead of receiving money on deposits, depositors must pay regularly to keep their money with the bank.

The policy is seen as an attempt to counteract the effects of falling oil prices and China’s slowdown, and is following the lead of several central banks in Europe, including the European Central Bank, which first resorted to negative rates in 2014, according to the Economist.

BoJ’s policy makers said that the rate cut was based on global conditions, not the Japanese economy itself.

For an explanation on negative interest rates, we present the following Financial Times video:


Technology: Apple is catching up on next generation technology in virtual reality (VR).

The innovation leader has assembled a large team of experts through a series of carefully targeted acquisitions, according a report of the Financial Times on Friday, which suggests that the company is in the process of building prototypes of a VR headset.

The New York Times reports that Apple Inc. recently acquired an augmented reality start-up called Flyby Media and hired Doug Bowman, who has researched topics such as immersion in virtual environments.

According to the Guardian, Apple’s Chief Executive, Tim Cook said that virtual reality is “really cool and has some interesting applications.”

For more on the story, we go to IGN News:


UK: Clearsprings Ready Homes, a Home Office contractor providing accommodation for asylum seekers, said on Monday that dwellers are no longer to wear brightly coloured wristbands in order to receive food.

The announcement came after criticism that the practice was discriminatory and dehumanizing.

Newly arrived asylum seekers in the UK are not allowed to work or claim mainstream benefits. They are placed in “initial accommodation” and given three basic meals a day.

But in Lynx House in Cardiff, an accommodation run by Home Office’s contractor Clearsprings Ready Homes, dwellers are told to wear the wristband at all times in order to receive meals.

The contractor explains that the practice has been put in place since May 2015 to ensure that asylum seekers receive the services they are entitled to and to make sure those more vulnerable asylum seekers have access to their specific requirements.

But Jo Stevens, the shadow justice minister and Labour MP for Cardiff Central, had said earlier that she had “grave concerns” about the practice at Lynx House in Cardiff, according to the Guardian.

For a guide to the migrant crisis, we offer this Wall Street Journal report:


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Stock Image of “Mosquito On Green Leaf” courtesy of maewshooter /