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Mini defibrillator batteries and super strength glue win at European Inventor Awards

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, June 8th, 2018

Shot of Dhulchaointigh playing with Mouldable glue and shot of hands working with battery for implantable defibrillators. Photo from Reuters video


Batteries that can last for five years inside the body and glue that resembles play-dough but can hold up to 400 times its own weight were among the winners at the European Inventor Awards that took place in France on Thursday (June 7).

The competition, organized by the European Patent Office, celebrates recent inventions that have made a marked impact on both the public’s needs and the scientific research community.

American inventor Esther Sans Takeuchi came up with batteries that can be placed in implantable defibrillators for up to five years, preventing the need for major surgery on the patient every year, as was needed with previous weaker batteries.

Using a special mixture of the metals lithium and silver vanadium, the batteries ensure that the heart keeps beating regularly in cardiac patients.

Another winner, Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, came across her winning product by accident when she left sawdust and silicone mixed together on a work desk. The resulting combination was a mouldable substance that could stick things together and then harden into a flexible rubber that can bear weights of up to two kilograms (4.4 pounds).

Medical innovations proved popular with an improved magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system, that can take 100 frames per second, bagging first place in the research category.

The winners, who go home with a trophy, do not receive monetary awards.

Patent examiners, as well as members of the public, weigh in on selected nominees in the annual European Inventor Awards. — Reuters

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Macron says keeping Assad in power would be a ‘disastrous mistake’

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2018


French President Emmanuel Macron. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Macron said on Monday (August 27) keeping Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria would be a “disastrous mistake,” although it was not France’s duty to assign the country’s future leader.

“Who provoked the flow of these millions of refugees?” Macron said during a speech at a Paris conference of ambassadors. “Who massacred his own people? It is not for France to designate Syria’s future leader, no more than any other country. But it is our task and in our interest to make sure that the Syrian people are well in a position to do it.”

The Syrian conflict, which has killed 300,000 people and pushed 5.6 million Syrian refugees towards neighboring countries and Europe, has turned into a war of attrition as the regime tries to contain rebels and extremists.

Assad’s regime has taken back control of most of the territory except for the province of Idlib, the remaining refuge of rebels and the Islamic State.

On Libya, Macron said it was France’s role to move forward a Paris accord to secure reunification in the country, which he said was an “essential factor for the stability of the region.”

In May, the four principal actors in Libya’s political crisis convened in Paris to put in place a constitutional foundation for elections and to adopt electoral laws for the December 10 polls.  — Reuters

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World Cup final stirs memories of 1998 victory in France

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, July 16th, 2018

Soccer Football – World Cup – Final – France v Croatia – Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia – July 15, 2018 France coach Didier Deschamps celebrates winning the World Cup with Alphonse Areola and Blaise Matuidi REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

France’s place in the World Cup final on Sunday (July 15) has left many hoping that Les Bleus will be able to recreate the magic that saw them crowned world champions on home soil in 1998.

The 3-0 victory over Brazil on July 12, 1998, remains seared in the memories of a generation of French football fans and made legends of the team which included current France coach Didier Deschamps, Zinedine Zidane, Laurent Blanc and Thierry Henry.

Crowds watched the match on giant screens in front of the Paris town hall then headed to the 2 kilometer-long Champs Elysees avenue where the party continued into the night.

Interviewed by France Inter radio on Friday morning, member of the winning team Lilian Thuram, who scored two goals against this year’s finalists Croatia in the 1998 semi-final, said he would love to be back on the pitch.

“When I found out that it was going to be France-Croatia in the final I said to myself, ‘Lilian, get ready’,” he joked, adding he would be watching the final in Moscow from the stands.

The ’98 heroes were treated to a victory parade down the Champs Elysees and a reception at the Elysee Presidential Palace with then-president Jacques Chirac and the same star treatment is expected for the 2018 team if they bring home the cup. -Reuters

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French hostage’s son searches for mother in West African desert

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

French citizen Sophie Petronin who is being held hostage at an unknown location in Mali is seen in this still image taken from an undated video released by al-Qaeda-linked JNIM. REUTERS/ via Reuters TV


Sebastian Petronin sat slumped over a laptop watching a video of his mother, in a headscarf and looking frail and tearful, the latest proof the 72-year-old is alive nearly two years after she was kidnapped by jihadists and held somewhere in the Malian desert.

Now, fearing for her deteriorating health, he hopes her captors will allow him to visit her just once, even if there is scant chance he will be able to take her back.

“We are really concerned. She is a fighter but I feel like she has suffered blows to her morale that affected her,” Sebastian, 38, told Reuters as the video played in his hotel room in the Nigerian capital Niamey.

Gunmen kidnapped Sophie Petronin in December 2016 in the northern Malian city of Gao, where she ran a charity for malnourished and orphaned children.

She is being held by fighters loyal to the main coalition of Islamist groups in the Sahara, the Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM).

Her family has tried locate her and get her released, but in the last propaganda video, filmed and distributed to jihadist websites last month, she said she would like to see her son and that if her captors say he can come safely, he can believe them.

The video was enough to launch Petronin on a mission to try to track his mother down. It has taken him to parts of the Sahara as far afield as Mauritania and Niger, where he is meeting a negotiator he hopes can put him in touch with Sophie’s captors.

On one such trip into the desert, filmed by Reuters TV, he sat on the sand with a former acquaintance of hers, whose face was covered by a green turban.

“The desert is a huge territory but paradoxically a lot of people know each other,” he said. “We must not disregard anything and make connections with people in the city but also with people who are connected to the desert.”

French citizens are prime targets for kidnappers, both because of a perception that the government pays ransoms to get them out and because of their country’s role in the fight against so-called Islamists.

France, a former colonial master to most of the countries across the Sahara and the semi-arid Sahel, has 4,000 troops on a mission to try to crush the Islamist threat. — Reuters

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