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U.N. creates new Ebola chief role to tackle security, political issues in Congo

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GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations named an Emergency Ebola Response Coordinator on Thursday, creating a new position to boost efforts to contain a 10-month epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has killed more than 1,200 people.

The drive to rein in the deadly virus has been hampered by attacks on treatment centers by armed groups operating in Congo’s lawless east as well as by distrust among local residents, many of whom view the disease as a conspiracy.

The outbreak has been contained in parts of Ituri and North Kivu provinces, but risks of spreading to other provinces and neighboring countries remain “very high”, the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.

Stronger political engagement and operational support to negotiate access to communities is needed, and readiness planning for Goma, a lakeside city of 1 million people near the Rwandan border, it said.

David Gressly, currently deputy chief of the UN’s MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in Congo, has been appointed to the new post, the statement said.

“He will oversee the coordination of international support for the Ebola response and work to ensure that an enabling environment – particularly security and political – is in place to allow the Ebola response to be even more effective,” it said.

The Congolese health minister called on Wednesday for Merck’s experimental Ebola vaccine to be fully licensed to facilitate its use in the Ebola-hit country, while saying Johnson & Johnson’s rival drug would complicate matters.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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MIT Unveils the World’s Most Advance Carbon Nanotube Chip

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“A team of academics at MIT has unveiled the world’s most advanced chip yet that’s made from carbon nanotubes,” reports MIT’s Technology Review:

Not only are nanotube transistors faster than silicon ones, studies have found that chips made from nanotubes could be up to ten times more energy efficient. This efficiency boost could significantly extend electronic gadgets’ battery life. Researchers have been working on alternative chips involving the molecules for decades, but manufacturing headaches have kept the processors stuck in research labs. In a paper published in Nature, the MIT team says it has found ways to overcome some of the biggest hurdles to producing them at scale

[C]hallenges intrigued Max Shulaker, an MIT professor who has worked on other notable projects in the field, and has received funding from the US Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency to develop nanotube technology. The group of researchers he leads has developed a working 16-bit microprocessor [based on the RISC-V instruction set and running standard 32-bit instructions] built from over 14,000 carbon nanotube transistors that Shulaker claims is the most complex ever demonstrated. The techniques they have come up with can be implemented with equipment used for making conventional silicon chips, which means chipmakers won’t have to invest in expensive new gear if they want to make nanotube processors…

Researchers discovered that some kinds of logic gates, which are fundamental building blocks of digital circuits, were more resistant to problems triggered by metallic-like nanotubes than others. That led them to develop a new circuit design that prioritizes these gates, while minimizing the use of more sensitive metallic ones… The chip that the MIT researchers produced using these techniques is capable of running a simple program that produces the message “Hello, World.”
Shulaker says the significance of their research is it clearly points the way for a transition from silicon to carbon nanotubes. “There’s no leap of faith required anymore.”

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Ric Ocasek, singer for The Cars, dies at 75

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(Reuters) – Ric Ocasek, the idiosyncratic lead singer and chief songwriter of the 1970s and 80s hook-heavy hitmakers The Cars, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 75.

FILE PHOTO: Producer Ric Ocasek arrives at the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honoring Bob Dylan in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

Ocasek was pronounced dead at his townhouse after someone called 911 about 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) to report that he was unresponsive, a New York Police Department spokesman said. The cause of death will be determined by the city’s coroner.

His representatives could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

“So sad. Such a great writer, singer, player, producer,” fellow classic rocker Peter Frampton said on Twitter of Ocasek. “My thoughts are with his family. Rest in peace.”

Ocasek, born Richard Theodore Otcasek in Baltimore in 1944, met bass player and future band mate Benjamin Orr after moving to Cleveland for high school.

The pair joined with guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboard player Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson to form the Cars in mid-1970s Boston. Ocasek was the main songwriter, sang lead vocals on most songs and played rhythm guitar.

The band’s self-titled debut album, featuring the singles “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Good Times Roll,” reached Number 18 on the Billboard album charts and put them on the leading edge of pop rock.

The Cars scored their first top-20 single, “Let’s Go,” in 1979 and launched a succession of hits throughout the 1980s such as “Shake It Up” and “Drive,” always identifiable through Ocasek’s distinctive vocals.

The band split up in 1988, and Orr died of pancreatic cancer at age 53 in 2000. The surviving members reunited for a final album, “Move Like This,” in 2010.

The band was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

After the final dissolution of the Cars, Ocasek, who often spoke of his dislike for touring, produced dozens of albums, released solo material, wrote poetry and made visual art.

Ocasek was married three times and had six sons, two from each relationship.

His third wife, supermodel Paulina Porizkova, announced in May 2018 that the couple had separated after 28 years of marriage.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler and Gerry Doyle

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Ric Ocasek, singer for The Cars, dies at 75: police

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FILE PHOTO: Producer Ric Ocasek arrives at the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year tribute honoring Bob Dylan in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

(Reuters) – Ric Ocasek, the idiosyncratic lead singer and chief songwriter of the 1980s hook-heavy hitmakers The Cars, died on Sunday at the age of 75, New York police said.

Ocasek was pronounced dead at his Manhattan townhouse after a family called to report that he was unresponsive at around 4 p.m. EDT, a New York Police Department spokesman said.

The cause of death will be determined by the city’s coroner.

Ocasek, born Richard Theodore Otcasek in Baltimore in 1944, met bass player and future bandmate Benjamin Orr after moving to Cleveland for high school. The pair formed the Cars in mid-1970s Boston.

The band’s self-titled debut album, featuring the singles “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Good Times Roll”, reached Number 18 on the Billboard album charts.

The Cars scored their first top-20 single, “Let’s Go,” in 1979 and proceeded to launch a succession of hits throughout the 1980s before breaking up in 1988, followed by Orr’s death from pancreatic cancer in 2000.

The band reunited for a final album, “Move Like This,” in 2010.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler

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