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South Africa’s Tutu wants "the option of an assisted death"

Retired South African cleric and anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a published commentary that when his time comes, he would “want the option of an assisted death”. The 85-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been living with prostate cancer for nearly 20 years, reiterated his support for assisted dying in an opinion piece published on the Washington Post on his 85th birthday. Tutu came out in support of assisted dying in 2014 but was more ambiguous about whether he personally wanted that option.

Novartis reshapes research, closes some Swiss, Chinese units

By John Miller ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis is closing some of its research operations in Switzerland and China and cutting 175 jobs, part of the Swiss drug maker's effort to centralize control over its drug discovery programs and contain costs. Novartis, which employs 120,000 globally, is also relocating its tropical disease research arm from Singapore to California. The Basel-based company is consolidating research oversight within its Swiss headquarters and the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) near Boston, now headed by Jay Bradner.

More evidence for Zika virus link to damage beyond microcephaly

By Lisa Rapaport (Reuters Health) – The mosquito-borne Zika virus can lead to extensive birth defects that go beyond microcephaly, a Brazilian study suggests. Researchers studied 11 babies diagnosed with Zika and found they had a range of neurological impairments including small skulls and brains as well as an underdeveloped cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for motor skills, and an absence of normal folds in the cerebral cortex, the gray matter that handles memory, language, social skills and problem solving. “Microcephaly is not the only thing that happens with fetal Zika infection,” said senior study author Dr. Amilcar Tanuri, a researcher in the laboratory of molecular virology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

How the AP-GfK poll on the candidates’ health was conducted

The Associated Press-GfK poll on health and the presidential race was conducted by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications Sept. 15-19. It is based on online interviews of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters and 1,251 likely voters, who are members of GfK’s nationally representative KnowledgePanel.

Aid delivered to four besieged towns in Syria: ICRC

Seventy trucks of humanitarian aid were delivered on Sunday to four besieged towns in Syria for the first time in almost six months, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. The aid organisation said convoys were delivered to Madaya and Zabdani near Damascus and to the villages of al Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province in the north west. Kefraya and al-Foua, in Idlib province in northwest Syria, have around 20,000 people, according to U.N. estimates, and have been surrounded by insurgents since April 2015.

Thousands march in Dublin, abroad for Irish abortion rights

By Padraic Halpin DUBLIN (Reuters) – Thousands of protestors marched in Dublin, and Irish expatriates joined in demonstrations around the world on Saturday, to put pressure on the Irish government to hold a referendum to repeal restrictive abortion laws. Regulations in the once stridently Catholic Ireland are among the strictest in the world and next month Prime Minister Enda Kenny will call a citizens' assembly to advise the government on whether a vote should be held to boost access to abortion. Demonstrators marched in the rain on government buildings from Dublin's main thoroughfare of O'Connell Street, bringing traffic to a standstill by the River Liffey as they chanted, beat drums and held placards saying “My Body, My Choice”.

Novartis drug Zykadia gets positive trial results

ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis cancer drug Zykadia showed positive results in a phase III clinical trial in treating patients with a form of lung cancer, the Swiss drugmaker said on Friday. Zykadia, whose generic name is ceritinib, displayed significant improvement in progression-free survival compared to standard chemotherapy in previously untreated patients with advanced anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive non-small cell lung cancer, it said. …

United Nations pledges to fight drug-resistant superbugs

United Nations member countries pledged for the first time on Wednesday to take steps to tackle the threat posed by drug-resistant superbugs in a coordinated effort to curb the spread of infections by pathogens that defy antimicrobial medicines. The pledge during the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York followed years of warnings by global health officials about the rise of drug-resistant infections, which threaten to wipe out all effective antibiotics and antifungal medicines, leaving the world vulnerable to simple infections that once could be easily cured.

Saudi plane isolated at Manila airport after false hijack alarm, incident over

A Saudi Arabian Airlines plane was temporarily isolated after landing at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Tuesday following a false hijack alarm, airline and airport officials said. Saudi state television said the incident was over, and passengers could be seen disembarking from flight 872, which was traveling from the Saudi city of Jeddah to Manila. Earlier, a pilot on board had advised the airport’s control tower that the plane was “under threat”.

Merkel’s party suffers rout in Berlin in migrant policy backlash

By Michael Nienaber and Madeline Chambers BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party suffered its second electoral blow in two weeks on Sunday, slumping to its lowest level since 1990 in a Berlin state vote that rejected her open-door refugee policy. Voters turned to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which with 12.9 percent of the vote will enter its 10th regional assembly among the country's 16 states. Merkel's Christian Democrats were routed in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern two weeks ago, triggering calls from the CSU for her to toughen up her migrant policy.