Hopes robot duck will help children living with cancer manage stress

A plush, robotic duck may soon become a fixture in the world of children with cancer.

The social robot can be silly, happy, angry, scared or sick just like them, and help them cope with their illness through the power of play.

Aaron Horowitz was diagnosed with a debilitating condition as a child.

He and his Rhode Island-based company Sproutel developed the emotional support robot to help children manage stress and change the way they deal with their health.

The American Cancer Society says almost 11,000 US children are diagnosed with cancer yearly.

The duck is modelled after the mascot for insurance company Aflac, which paid for its development. Beginning later this year, the ducks will be distributed free to kid patients.

The duck's expected to be featured today at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas.



First case of strawberry contamination confirmed in Australia's Northern Territory

The first case of a contaminated strawberry has been found in the Northern Territory.

Police and health officials are yet to say if the strawberry contained a needle in it, as has been occurring across the country.

Police are holding a media conference in Darwin this afternoon.

The original contamination was reported in Queensland, prompting dozens of suspected copycat incidents involving strawberries and other fruits.

NSW authorities are investigating more than 20 incidents of needles found in strawberries. Source: Breakfast

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Trump to call for global action on the world drug problem at UN General Assembly

President Donald Trump will call for global action on the world drug problem, lay out his vision of the US role in the world, and urge a halt to the spread of weapons of mass destruction during next week's gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters overnight that Trump's focus "will be very much on the United States," its role and the relations it wants to build, and "how we can make the American people proud, and what actions we can show that really live up to that."

"He is looking forward to talking about foreign policy successes the United States has had over the past year and where we're going to go from here," she said. "He wants to talk about protecting US sovereignty," and "we want to continue to build relationships" with other countries that "share those values."

Haley said Trump will address a high-level event Monday on the "Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem," which 124 countries have already signed up to support. She said the US is looking forward to more signatories.

The president will address the assembly's 193-member nations at the official opening Tuesday morning of the global gabfest known as the General Debate.

Haley said Trump will talk about the generosity of the United States. "But he'll also lay down a marker that while the United States is generous, we're going to be generous to those who share our values, generous to those who want to work with us, and not those that try and stop the United States or say they hate America, or are counterproductive to what we're doing," she said.

She said Trump on Wednesday will chair a Security Council meeting which was expanded from focusing on Iran to non-proliferation, including chemical weapons attacks in Syria and Britain.

Haley predicted, "I'm sure that is going to be the most watched Security Council meeting ever."

Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, chaired two Security Council meetings, one in 2009 focusing on nuclear disarmament and another in 2014 on "foreign terrorist fighters."

Haley said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will chair a council meeting Thursday to look at on North Korea's progress toward denuclearization - which she called "baby steps" - and the council's commitments to enforce tough sanctions.

The White House said Trump will hold "pull-aside" meetings with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the General Assembly president. He will have longer bilateral meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, French President Emmanuel Macron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.

On the social side, Haley said the president and his wife, Melania, will host a reception for all delegates Monday night. Trump will also host a reception Tuesday evening for foreign ministers of the 15 current Security Council member nations and the five countries that will be joining the council January 1.

In this Aug. 31, 2018 photo, President Donald Trump gestures while speaking at the Harris Conference Center in Charlotte, N.C. President Donald Trump is escalating his attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, suggesting the embattled official should have intervened in investigations of two GOP congressmen to help Republicans in the midterms. Trump tweeted Monday that “investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department.”   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Donald Trump Source: Associated Press

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Doctor's stark warning after Christchurch synthetic cannabis overdoses

"There's no doubt, if you're smoking this stuff, you're gambling with your life."

That's the stark warning to users of synthetic cannabis from an emergency room doctor in Christchurch after a "nasty batch" of the drug has caused 10 people to overdose in the city in the last 48 hours.

Dr Mark Gilbert said there are eight people still critically ill and "we can’t guarantee they’ll live".

The people were unconscious when they arrived at the emergency room, the doctor said.

"When the patients come to the emergency room, we're finding they're in various states of unconsciousness, they can’'t really tell us anything, we get very little information, sometimes no information."

He offered a stark warning to people using synthetic cannabis.

"There’s no doubt, if you’re smoking this stuff, you’re gambling with your life," he said.

"We’d strongly advise that particularly at the moment, where there seems to be a bad batch in Christchurch, that people stay away from smoking even small amounts of this."

"It seems there's no safe level of this drug to smoke."

Dr Gilbert said it appeared the "bad batch" of the drug being sold was "causing particularly severe affects".

He went on to say: "The symptoms of this range in severity, but they generally start off with some agitation and confusion then precede to coma and seizures and in severe cases, cardiac rhythm disturbances and this can precede to cardiac arrest and death," he said.

Emergency department doctor Mark Gilbert says the patients have been critically unwell as a bad batch of the drug is sold. Source: 1 NEWS


Hundreds feared drowned after passenger ferry capsizes on Lake Victoria in Tanzania

At least 44 people died when after a passenger ferry capsized on Lake Victoria, a Tanzanian official said this morning, and the death toll was expected to rise significantly when rescue efforts resumed at daybreak.

Beach in Victoria Lake, Africa.
Lake Victoria. Source: istock.com

Thirty-seven people were rescued after the afternoon sinking, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella told The Associated Press.

"I cannot speculate" how many people had been on board, he said.

"Right now our focus is on rescue."

But such ferries often carry hundreds of people and are overcrowded.

The death toll could end up surpassing 200, an official told Reuters. 

The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency, in charge of servicing the vessels, urged patience in a statement as rescue efforts began.

The ferry was traveling between Ukara and Bugolora and capsized near the area of Mwanza, the agency said.Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where passenger boats are often said to be old and in poor condition.

In 1996, more than 800 people were killed when the passenger and cargo ferry MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria.Nearly 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

More than 300 people were on board the ferry on Lake Victoria in Tanzania when disaster struck just metres from shore. Source: 1 NEWS


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