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First Official Version of Tor Browser for Android Released on Play Store

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The Tor Project today made the first stable version of its privacy-focused browser available on the Google Play Store. From a report: This new mobile browser integrates the Tor protocol stack into a standalone browser and replaces Orfox as the main way to navigate the Tor network from an Android device. Tor Project developers have been working on this browser for eight months now, since September 2018, when they first released an alpha version for public testing. “We made it a priority to reach the rising number of users who only browse the web with a mobile device,” said Isabela Bagueros, Executive Director of the Tor Project. “These users often face heavy surveillance and censorship online, so it is critical for us to reach them. We made sure there are no proxy bypasses, that first-party isolation is enabled to protect you from cross-site tracking, and that most of the fingerprinting defenses are working,” the Tor team added.

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A Mystery Disease Is Killing Children, and Questions Linger About Lychees

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MUZAFFARPUR, India — Every year, a mysterious disease stalks the area around the eastern Indian city of Muzaffarpur, killing children seemingly at random — there, and nowhere else.

It mostly afflicts poor children younger than 10. They go to sleep apparently healthy, and wake up with a high fever and brain swelling that leads to convulsions, seizures and, in a third of the cases, death — often within 24 to 36 hours.

Two years ago, researchers declared the mystery solved, saying that the cause was the prized lychee fruit that grows around this area during the hottest months of the year. A chemical in the lychee caused hypoglycemia, a catastrophic fall in the child’s blood sugar, when consumed on an empty stomach, they found. That was more likely to happen to a poorly nourished child with no reserves of glucose, the chemical form that sugar takes to be digested by the body.

As a result of research sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control in the United States, published in the respected British medical journal The Lancet in 2017, the health authorities began to warn families to make sure that children did not eat lychee without a meal. Cases plummeted from hundreds each season to only a few dozen.

Until this year. There have been hundreds of cases again — 719 as of Monday, with 152 deaths — all among poor children here in the Muzaffarpur lychee belt, in a heavily populated area of Bihar State. And this time, doctors say they are finding many cases in which lychees were not a factor.

The treatment epicenter is the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur, where 102 of the deaths this year occurred. That amounts to a 27 percent fatality rate for the disease at that hospital, according to BrajMohan, the doctor in charge of a pediatric recovery ward there. On Friday, there were 65 children sharing 40 beds in his ward, and 16 mattresses in a corridor accommodated 30 others.

Those were the lucky ones, who survived the hospital’s three pediatric intensive care units.

Most of the children who got sick this time were younger than 5, and many were only 1 or 2 and still breastfeeding, said Dr. BrajMohan, who uses just one name. “They were hardly eating lychees at that age,” he said.

Many other doctors and officials at the hospital are also skeptical about the lychee theory.

“It must be some sort of virus or bacteria, we just haven’t detected it yet,” said J.P. Mandal, who, like Dr. BrajMohan, is a pediatrician and a medical professor. “You have to transport samples to labs at minus 80 degrees Celsius, when the temperatures outside are 45 degrees — no wonder we haven’t found it,” he added. (Forty-five degrees Celsius is 113 degrees Fahrenheit.)

There is even disagreement over the name of the disease. Scientists call it acute encephalopathy syndrome, or A.E.S., while Indian officials insist on calling it acute encephalitis syndrome. Encephalitis suggests an infectious agent, and the disease is similar to Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease also prevalent in east India.

But decades of searching have failed to find any microbe responsible for what locals often just call the “lychee disease.” Even during seasons when hundreds fall ill, there are not clusters of cases of among families or communities — usually just one in a village, which undermines the infectious disease theory.

But if lychees are to blame, some ask, why are there no cases in other lychee-growing areas in India, or in other countries, for that matter? And what accounts for the deaths among children too young to eat fruit, or the ones that have occurred outside of lychee season?

“Why we’re having so many cases of hypoglycemia needs investigation,” said the superintendent of Sri Krishna Hospital, Sunil Kumar Sharhi. “But the lychee has no relation to it.”

The countryside around Muzaffarpur accounts for up to 70 percent of lychee production in India, which is the second-biggest grower of the fruit after China. It is easy to find families here who have been struck by the disease but are sure that lychees are not the reason.

“We all eat lychee around here,” said Kamini Kumari, whose 3-year-old daughter Anupa fell sick with convulsions but recovered after days in the hospital. “But we don’t let the children do it on an empty stomach.”

Ms. Kumari lives in Minapur Block, a farming area where there have been 47 confirmed A.E.S. cases this year. Thirteen children have died, according to local officials.

In another Minapur village, a 15-minute drive from Ms. Kumari’s, Rani Devi lost her 5-year-old daughter, Gunja Kumari, to the disease this month. She went to bed on an empty stomach but had not eaten lychees that day, Ms. Devi said; she woke up convulsing and died the next day.

“She was the healthiest of my four children,” said Ms. Devi, 24.

Aakash Shrivastava, a scientist at India’s National Center for Disease Control who was the lead author of the Lancet report, said senior officials had ordered him not to discuss the outbreak. Repeated attempts to reach the center’s director, Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh, for comment were unsuccessful.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control who are based in the American Embassy in New Delhi declined to comment on the outbreak, according to an embassy spokeswoman.

Arun Shah, a Muzaffarpur pediatrician and one of the authors of an early scientific paper on the disease, said that scientists were still convinced by the lychee theory — even if saying so has become problematic. He blamed government laxity for the surge in cases this year.

“Government just didn’t do what they should have done,” Dr. Shah said. “They did nothing. At first they did pay attention, but then 2017, 2018, there were few cases — last year only 25 cases, and they became complacent,” he said.

Kaushal Kishore, a state health department official, denied that the authorities had been amiss in not pursuing the lychee connection. “Nobody’s clear about the causative factor, the causative agent has not been zeroed in,” he said. “How can we blame a specific food? It has to be based on research and evidence, and there is no evidence.”

The authorities have been going door to door to homes in the affected area, looking for children with symptoms and telling parents what to do, Mr. Kishore said. In recent days, deaths from the disease have started to taper off.

Hospital admissions for the disease have also declined, as officials spread the word about first aid that parents could easily administer: feeding sugar and salt to a stricken child right away. If symptoms persisted, they were to quickly bring the child to a hospital, where an intravenous infusion of dextrose and electrolytes was the primary treatment.

For a disease so devastating to have such a simple cure is one of the many perplexities surrounding A.E.S.

“I think we’ll find that it is multifactorial, but so far it is a mystery,” Dr. Mandal said. “A mystery we have to solve.”

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Bill Cosby appeals 2018 conviction for Pennsylvania sex…

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June 25 (Reuters) – Bill Cosby’s lawyers on Tuesday formally appealed his conviction for drugging and sexually attacking a former friend at his home near Philadelphia 15 years ago, citing what they called errors in legal procedure that allowed trial testimony and evidence the defence contends should have been excluded.

By Barbara Goldberg and Steve Gorman

Attorneys for the once-beloved American actor and comedian, star of the hit television sitcom “The Cosby Show,” urged the appellate-level Pennsylvania Superior Court to either throw out his 2018 guilty verdict altogether or grant him a new trial.

The 348-page appeal asserts that Cosby, 81, was wrongly convicted on the basis of “flawed, erroneous, and prejudicial rulings” by the trial judge, including the admission of testimony from several accusers other than the woman he was charged with assaulting.

A jury in Norristown, Pennsylvania, found Cosby guilty in April 2018 of drugging and sexually violating former Temple University administrator Andrea Constand, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004.

It marked the first such criminal conviction of a celebrity accused of sexual misconduct since the #MeToo movement that has brought down dozens of powerful, privileged men in American media, politics and business since the autumn of 2017.

In September of last year, trial Judge Steven O’Neill designated Cosby a “sexually violent predator” under state law, requiring Cosby to register as a sex offender for life, and sentenced him to a term of three to 10 years in prison.

Cosby, who is married, has insisted all along that any sexual encounters he had were consensual. He was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

OTHER ACCUSERS

A major thrust of Cosby’s appeal is the contention that his conviction hinged on testimony from six other women who had accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, “all having occurred approximately 15 or more years before the charged crime.”

The defense asserted that allegations of the other women, five of whom testified in court, should have been inadmissible because they bore too little similarity or connection to the offense for which Cosby was prosecuted.

The appellate brief also said the judge should not have allowed prosecutors to introduce incriminating admissions by Cosby from a sworn statement he had once given in a separate civil case filed by Constand.

That 2005 deposition, in which Cosby acknowledged giving sedatives called Quaaludes to young women for purposes of having sex with them, was cited as a key piece of evidence in the criminal case brought a decade later by District Attorney Kevin Steele.

The defense argued it should have been excluded as irrelevant to the criminal case and a violation of Cosby’s constitutional protection against self-incrimination.

Cosby’s lawyers maintain the criminal case was itself a violation of a 2005 promise by Steele’s predecessor, Bruce Castor, to refrain from prosecuting Cosby if the entertainer agreed to sit for the sworn deposition in Constand’s civil suit.

The two sides in the case are scheduled to present oral arguments over the appeal to the Superior Court on Aug. 12, according to a court spokeswoman. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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In other news…

The South African economy is choking harder than the Proteas. Although to be choking you have to actually be eating and the Proteas seem to be on some sort of juice cleanse-like fast…*

Back to the economy: In the first quarter the GDP dive-bombed by a whopping 3.2%. The sense of futility can paralyse us into inaction and moaning. But it’s times like these that call for effort and action, no matter how small. Yes, South Africa is hurting. Yes the ravaged economy is evident everywhere you look. But you can make a difference, in your own personal way and by supporting independent media like Daily Maverick. We’ve pledged to continue the fight through producing incisive and impactful investigations and analysis, the same way we have done every day for the last decade.

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Egypt vs DRC Prediction, head-to-head, score and TV stream

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After four days of small crowds, a capacity 75,000 crowd is expected in Cairo to cheer Egypt as they seek a third win in four Cup of Nations meetings with the DR Congo.

There will be contrasting pressures on the teams with the Pharaohs eyeing a second-round place and the Leopards fighting for survival after a horror first outing.

“We must learn to handle the pressure of being among the favourites in order to realise our goal of becoming African champions,” said Aguirre.

DR Congo came to Egypt as one of the most unpredictable qualifiers having finished third in 2015 only to make a timid quarter-final exit two years ago.

“We let our country down against Uganda,” confessed captain Youssouf Mulumbu. “It was a bitter lesson for us and we plan to correct the situation quickly.”

Prediction, head-to-head and TV stream

Prediction

Egypt are strong favourites with a win probability of 68%. The draw is the second most likely at 22% while a win for Congo DR is at just ten percent.

Head-to-head

Just seven previous meetings between these two teams. Egypt have won five and drawn two.

Where and what time
to watch

Kick off is at 22:00 SAST.

In Africa, SuperSport 4 and 10 will broadcast the match and
the opening ceremony.

Elsewhere: Eurosport Player (UK) and beIN Sports Connect
(U.S.).

Live scores

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