US boy lands on meat skewer that penetrated his skull from face to the back of his head
A 10-year-old Missouri boy is recovering after he was attacked by insects and tumbled from a tree, landing on a meat skewer that penetrated his skull from his face to the back of his head.
But miraculously, that's where Xavier Cunningham's bad luck ended. The skewer had completely missed Xavier's eye, brain, spinal cord and major blood vessels, The Kansas City Star reports.
Xavier's harrowing experience began Saturday afternoon when yellow jackets attacked him in a tree house at his home in Harrisonville, about 56 kilometres south of Kansas City. He fell to the ground and started to scream. His mother, Gabrielle Miller, ran to help him. His skull was pierced from front-to-back with half a foot of skewer still sticking out of his face.
Miller tried to reassure her son, who told her "I'm dying, Mom" as they rushed to the hospital. He eventually was transferred to the University of Kansas Hospital, where endovascular neurosurgery director Koji Ebersole evaluated the wound.
"You couldn't draw it up any better," Ebersole said. "It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things."
There was no active bleeding, allowing the hospital time to get personnel in place for a removal surgery on Sunday morning that was complicated by the fact that the skewer wasn't round. Because it was square, with sharp edges, it would have to come out perfectly straight. Twisting it could cause additional severe injury.
"Miraculous" would be an appropriate word to describe what happened, Ebersole said.
Doctors think Xavier could recover completely.
"I have not seen anything passed to that depth in a situation that was survivable, let alone one where we think the recovery will be near complete if not complete," he said.
Suspects in Britain poisoning are innocent civilians, President Putin claims
President Vladimir Putin said overnight that Russian authorities know the identities of the two men accused by Britain of carrying out a nerve agent attack on a former spy, but he added that they are civilians and there is "nothing criminal" about them.
The statement by Putin marked an abrupt shift from Russia's earlier position on the poisoning case that has damaged relations between Moscow and the West. Initially, Russian officials said they had no idea who the men were and questioned the authenticity of some of security-camera photos and video released by Scotland Yard showing them in London and Salisbury, where the poisoning took place.
Britain last week charged two men in absentia, identifying them as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov. Authorities alleged they were agents of Russia's military intelligence agency known as the GRU and accused them of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury on March 4.
Britain blamed the Russian government for the attack, an allegation that Moscow has vehemently denied.
Putin did not try to dispute the British evidence, but he insisted the men were innocent.
"We know who these people are, we have found them," Putin said in response to question at panel for an economic conference in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East. "There is nothing special or criminal about it, I can assure you."
Asked by the panel's moderator if the men work for the military, Putin replied that they are "civilians" and called on the men to come forward and speak to the media.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later told reporters that Putin never met the suspects in the poisoning and that Russia did not investigate them but merely "checked the reports."
The Skripals' poisoning by the deadly nerve agent Novichok triggered a tense diplomatic showdown. Britain and more than two dozen other countries expelled a total of 150 Russian diplomats, and Russia kicked out a similar number of those countries' envoys.
The attack left the Skripals hospitalized for weeks, and two other area residents became seriously ill months later. One of them, a 44-year-old woman, later died.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was carried out by officers of the GRU and almost certainly approved "at a senior level of the Russian state."
Her spokesman, James Slack, rejected the claim the men were civilians, saying they were GRU officers "who used a devastatingly toxic illegal chemical weapon on the streets of our country."
"We have repeatedly asked Russia to account for what happened in Salisbury in March and they have replied with obfuscation and lies," Slack said. "I have seen nothing to suggest that has changed."
Putin's abrupt shift from earlier official statements on the case fits a pattern by the Russian leader.
When troops in uniforms without insignia first appeared on the streets of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014 prior to its annexation, Putin insisted that they were not members of the Russian military, but merely local volunteers. Weeks later, Putin said there were Russian troops present there under a treaty with Ukraine that allowed Russia to leave a naval base in Crimea.
Similarly, Putin initially dismissed accusations of Russian state-sponsored hacking in the U.S. election system, but he later admitted the possibility that it was the work of some "patriotic-minded" Russians, although he denied that any of them had been directed by the Kremlin.
Ever since British authorities made their initial accusations of Russian government involvement in the poisoning, Russian officials and media sought to discredit them, either deriding their statements or offering alternative explanations.
After British authorities released photos and video of the men, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova alleged that two of the photos in a London airport had been doctored. She later walked back that statement, expressing frustration that British authorities had not shared the files with their Russian counterparts, leaving Moscow "guessing" about what really happened in Salisbury.
Moscow also questioned the origins of the nerve agent involved in the attack, saying it was not proven that the substance was developed by Russia and arguing that other countries, including Britain, had the capacity. Although Novichok is said to be extremely lethal, the Skripals survived, and Russian authorities even questioned why British officials put down the Skripals' pets.
When charges were brought against Petrov and Boshirov last week, Russian media reports appeared to tacitly accept that they were Russians but rejected the possibility that they were sent by the GRU, saying the operation was too clumsy to have been done by well-trained agents. That argument centered on how they made themselves overly visible to surveillance by taking the train to Salisbury and walking through the city, rather than going by private car.
"There have never been and never will be such stupid people in Russian intelligence," journalist Nikolai Dolgopolov, who has written widely about spies, said on Vesti Nedeli.
Skripal's niece Viktoria, who lives in Russia and often voices pro-Kremlin arguments on Russian television talk shows, told the Interfax news agency Wednesday that she knows "through her own sources" that the men identified as Petrov and Boshirov are "ordinary men" who are "shocked" by the accusations.
She claimed that Petrov was not in Britain around the time of the poisoning but did not elaborate on how she knew that.
The case, with its chilling details, echoes the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian agent who died after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium-210 at a London hotel. Britain spent years trying in vain to prosecute the prime suspects, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun.
A British inquiry concluded that Litvinenko had been killed at the behest of the Russian state, probably with the president's knowledge.
The Russian government rejected the accusations and was quick to throw its support behind the men. Lugovoi ended up in the Kremlin-friendly Liberal Democrat Party and since 2011 has been a member of the lower house of parliament, enjoying immunity from any prosecution.
Apple reveals biggest, most expensive iPhone yet
Apple unveiled three new iPhones on today, including its biggest and most expensive model yet, as the company seeks to widen the product's appeal amid slowing sales.
CEO Tim Cook showed off the Apple XS, which has a bigger screen than the one on last year's dramatically designed model, the iPhone X. A bigger version will be called the iPhone XS Max, which looks to be about the size of the iPhone 8 Plus, though the screen size is much bigger, and has an asking price in the US of about NZ$1700.
As with the iPhone X, the new phone has a screen that runs from edge to edge, an effort to maximize the display without making the phone too awkward to hold. The screen needs no backlight, so black would appear as truly black rather than simply dark.
This even-bigger iPhone represents Apple's attempt to feed consumers' appetite for increasingly larger screens as they rely on smartphones to watch and record video, as well as take photos wherever they are.
The iPhone X also got rid of the home button to make room for more screen and introduced facial-recognition technology to unlock the device.
By making more expensive iPhones, Apple has been able to boost its profits despite waning demand as people upgrade phones less frequently. IPhones fetched an average price of NZ$1100 during the April-June period, a nearly 20 per cent increase from a year earlier.
Worldwide smartphone sales grew just 2 per cent during that period, according to the research firm Gartner Inc. During the second quarter, which is typically slow for Apple, China's Huawei Technologies surpassed Apple as the second-largest seller of smartphones, based on Gartner's calculations. Samsung remained in the lead.
NZ researchers help find key 'villain' in causing migraines
Researchers have found a key "villain" in causing migraines.
Scientists at Victoria's Monash University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, in collaboration with researchers in New Zealand and around the world, discovered the molecular details of one of the key initiators of migraines, with the findings published in the Nature science journal on Thursday.
A neuropeptide called calcitonin gene-related peptide has been found to be a main offender of initiating migraines and causing pain, the research reveals.
The peptide interacts with a receptor in the brain which causes the pain response.
But this receptor doesn't respond to the neuropeptide unless there's another partner protein.
This study reveals the first high-resolution structure of the activated receptor, together with the neuropeptide and its main signal-transmitting partner.
"Our work, solving the structure of activated receptor complex, allows design of novel drugs that can activate the receptor," one of the researchers Dr Denise Wootten said.
"Excitingly, the CGRP receptor is not just a villain, but can also be activated for beneficial outcomes. For example, there is accumulating evidence that activation of the receptor could be used to treat inflammatory bowel disease, or resistant hypertension".
About two million Australians experience migraines with symptoms including pain, nausea and poor sleep, Monash University states.
"This research could pave the way for novel drug development in areas of ongoing therapeutic need," institute director Professor Christopher Porter said.
The research was a multi-disciplinary effort with collaborators also in Germany, the UK, New Zealand, China, and the Mayo Clinic in the US.