1. Obama Cancels High-Profile Meeting With Putin
President Obama on Wednesday canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for September; it was the first time since the Cold War the U.S. has canceled plans with Russia. The White House cited a range of issues, including Edward Snowden’s asylum and human rights issues, as reasons for canceling the meeting. The canceled meeting could jeopardize a nuclear arms reduction Obama has been trying to hammer out with Putin and hamper efforts to end the conflict in Syria: The U.S. needs Russia to pressure Bashar al-Assad to step down.
Two women veterans accused San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment on Wednesday, bringing the total number of claims against Filner to 13. Eldonna Fernandez and Gerri Tindley say Filner used his connections with a veterans group to take advantage of vulnerable women. Tara Jones, the president of the National Women’s Veterans Association of America, says 7 or 8 of her members have received unwanted sexual attention from Filner; most of them are survivors of sexual assault. Filner entered a two-week therapy program on Monday but says he will not resign.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week says the recent spike in military suicides may not be linked to deployment or exposure to combat. Researchers looked at data from 2001-2008 and found the risk factors for suicide in the military were the same as for civilians. However, the study says war increases hardship on soldiers and may heighten other risk factors. “Perhaps it’s not being deployed so much as being in a war during a high-stress time period,” said the principal investigator for the center that provided the study’s data.
A Japanese official revealed on Wednesday that the Fukushima nuclear plant is leaking 300 tons of water contaminated with nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean every day. The plant was damaged by the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011, and it’s possible contaminated water has been leaking ever since. The Independent says experts believe the leak will require the most complex nuclear clean up the world has ever seen. It could take over 40 years and $11 billion to reverse the damage from the contaminated water.
Health officials announced an unprecedented agreement on Wednesday that looks to balance scientific advancement with the need for privacy. The agreement concerns the cells of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman who died in 1951 from cervical cancer. The cells from Lacks’ tumor have been used in more than 74,000 studies since her death. The National Institutes of Health and Lacks’ family agreed to store Henrietta’s genome in a private database in response to two studies that would have made her genetic info available to the public. Scientists will have to balance research and privacy for years to come: Researcher Eric Lander says “tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands” of patients will have to share their genetic info for scientists to cure cancer.