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Venezuela’s Petroleum and Mining Minister Eluogio del Pino announced on June 11 that crude oil production in the Orinoco Belt jumped from 20,000 to 30,000 barrels per day. The increased production greatly benefits the region, which is facing challenges amidst falling oil prices.
The announcement comes just one day after the minister attended an agreement signing between Venezuela and Aruba. The agreements, which were ratified in front of Aruba Prime Minister Mike Eman, initiate the revival of an old oil refinery and other joint development projects.
Authorities from both governments gathered in Caracas to sign the agreements, which will reopen a 209,000 BPD refinery in San Nicolas, Aruba.
Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela, was in attendance as was the energy and petroleum minister and the CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corporation.
The meeting follows several months of negotiations between CITGO Aruba and the Aruban government. The agreement will reactivate operations at the refinery, which had been idle since 2012, through a lease agreement lasting 15 years. A 10-year extension option is available.
CITGO Aruba will be operating the facility, and CITGO Petroleum Corporation will provide the group with services.
The project will transform the refinery into an upgrader for Venezuela’s extra-heavy crude within the next 18-24 months. The project will require an investment of $450-$650 million, which will be secured through external lenders.
Once the refinery has been transformed, the facility will upgrade the extra-heavy crude sourced from the Orinoco Oil Belt into intermediate crude. From here, the oil will be sent to CITGO’s refining network in the U.S. to be further processed. Meanwhile, PDVSA will purchase naphtha to dilute its extra-heavy crude.
A complementary project is also being considered that would allow for natural gas in Venezuela’s Paraguana region to be used. Natural gas would not only lower costs, but also reduce refinery emissions.
The United Nations General Assembly elected its new president on Monday through a rare secret ballot vote. The assembly chose Peter Thomson, the Permanent Representative of Fiji, to serve as President of its 71st session.
Thomson will replace Mogens Lykketoft, current President of the General Assembly, in September at the start of the 71st General Assembly session.
The Permanent Representative of Fiji beat Cyprus representative Andreas Mavroyiannis 94 to 90 in a secret ballot vote.
The General Assembly selects a president using a geographical rotation system. Regional groups put forward a candidate every year. If the group cannot come to an agreement on a nominee, a secret ballot vote is held.
This is the first time a representative of a small island developing State in the Pacific has been elected as Assembly President. Mr. Thomson said he plans to be vocal on climate change issues. He also noted that the 71st Assembly session will focus on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Mr. Thomson plans to bring a spirit of commitment and loyalty to the common good.
Mr. Lykketoft, current Assembly President, acknowledged Mr. Thomson’s experience in rural development matters and international affairs. He expressed his support for Mr. Thomson, but noted that there is still much work to be done in the current session, including the large movement of migrants and refugees in September.
Mr. Thomson served as Chair of the Executive Board of the UN Population Fund, the UN Development Programme, and the UN Office for Project Services. He also served as Vice President of the General Assembly from 2010 through 2011.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Mr. Thomson on his achievement and said he believes the President-elect will help the UN carry out its 2030 Agenda and reach its goals for the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The UN General Assembly is comprised of 193 Member States and meets in regular sessions that run from September through December of each year.
Cuban President Raul Castro gave his condolences to the United States following a massacre in Orlando, Florida on Sunday. A statement was provided to a news channel that operates on Cuban State Television.
The statement read, “I reiterate that Cuba rejects and condemns all acts of terrorism.”
Cuban and United States relations have been in turmoil since 1962 when United States President Kennedy signed into law a Cuban embargo. The embargo effectively cut the country of Cuba from the United States.
Efforts to end the embargo reached its heights on March 21, 2016 when United States President Barack Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro shook hands in Havana. Obama requested that the United States Congress lift the embargo on Cuba after being in place for over 50 years.
Castro’s condolences come at a time when both countries continue to cooperate with each other after over 50 years of strife.
The Orlando, Florida massacre left 49 people dead and over 50 people injured following a shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse. The attack came early on Sunday morning before the club was closing for the night.
The attacker, Omar Mateen, was a 29-year old male who was born in New York and grew up in Long Island. The shooter reportedly called 911 before the shooting to pledge his allegiance to the extremist group ISIS. The massacre ended with Mateen exchanging gunfire with officers and members of the SWAT team.
Mateen was of Muslim faith and pledged his alliance to many extremist groups. The shooter reportedly visited the LGBT nightclub often and was considered a regular. Mateen was married with a child. Recent findings point to the shooter using gay dating apps and sending private pictures to men.
Castro’s statement gave condolences to the United States government and the people following the attacks, but he emphasized his condolences to the friends and family of the victims.
Researchers at Nottingham and Oxford Universities have found a promising method to slow the growth of one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.
The team of researchers used a new drug that can attack cancer tumors in deeper regions than conventional treatments, like radiotherapy and chemotherapy, can reach.
The drug, known as JQ1, was tested on mice with human cancer tumors. JQ1 alters a cancer cell’s response to hypoxia (low oxygen), which is found in triple negative cancer, a form of the disease that is the most difficult to treat.
During a trial, scientists found that JQ1 was able to slow cancerous tumor growth by about one third each day.
When combined with conventional therapies, the researchers say the drug may offer added benefits to patients with triple negative breast cancer. Triple negative patients account for roughly 15% of the 50,000 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
The triple negative variation of breast cancer is difficult to beat because the cancer cells have adapted to the low oxygen environment, which makes them more resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. It also lacks the receptors for progesterone, oestrogen and the protein HER2. The most successful treatments for breast cancer use these receptors to target the disease.
When oxygen levels are low, tumor cells activate certain genes that send signals for blood vessels to supply them with more oxygen. This response gives the cells the nutrients they need to continue growing.
JQ1, a BET inhibitor, addresses this issue on the molecular level.
Triple negative breast cancer is difficult to treat because of its aggressiveness, but the disease is typically responsive to chemotherapy.
Dr. Alan McIntyre, the study’s co-author, says the drug can mean added benefits for patients and may play an important role in the treatment of aggressive breast cancers.