Last Thursday, China landed a space rover on the Moon and plans to build an orbiting space station in the coming decade
WASHINGTON • During the Cold War, US eyes were riveted on the Soviet Union’s rockets and satellites. But in recent years, it has been China’s space programmes that have most worried US strategists.
China, whose space effort is run by the People’s Liberation Army, today launches more rockets into space than any other country — 39 last year, compared to 31 by the US, 20 by Russia and eight by Europe.
Last Thursday, it landed a space rover on the dark side of the Moon — a first by any country — and plans to build an orbiting space station in the coming decade. In the decade after that, it hopes to put a Chinese “taikonaut” on the Moon to make the first moonwalk since 1972.
China now spends more on its civil and military space programmes than do Russia and Japan. Although opaque, its 2017 budget was estimated at US$8.4 billion (RM34.78 billion) by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
That’s far less than the US$48 billion the US spends on its military and civilian space programmes, said analyst Phil Smith of consulting firm Bryce Space and Technology. But it is more than double Russia’s civilian space budget, which has been slashed to US$3 billion.
Overcoming a lag of several decades, China’s leaders have very methodically replicated the stages of space development achieved by other great nations: A first satellite in 1970, its first manned space mission in 2003, the first docking of a manned spacecraft to an orbiting module in 2012, and activation of the BeiDou satellite navigation system, China’s answer to the Global Positioning System or GPS.
“If they continue on this trajectory, they’re going to quickly eclipse Russia in terms of their space technology capabilities,” said Todd Harrison, an expert on military space programmes at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
China currently poses no threat to the commercial satellite launch market, which remains dominated by companies including US-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp or SpaceX, Europe’s Arianespace SA and Russia.
Nor has China’s progress in space exploration eclipsed that of the US.
NASA’s head congratulated China on its Chang’e-4 Moon landing, but a 2011 US law bars space cooperation with Beijing, although Congress could lift that restriction.
The real rivalry is in two areas: In the short term, military uses of space; and longterm, the exploitation of resources in space.
The mining of minerals or water on the Moon or on asteroids, notably to produce fuel for rockets, is still a long way off, but American start-ups are already working on it.
Unlike the Cold War, the new conquest of space is unfolding largely in a legal vacuum.
In the 1960s and 70s, Washington and Moscow negotiated several treaties on space, principally to guarantee scientific cooperation and to ban weapons of mass destruction in space.
“The treaties are too vague to be really certain what the legal result is for something like space mining,” said Frans von der Dunk, a professor of space law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
War in Space
Moreover, they have been overtaken by new military technologies: Anti-satellite lasers, cyber attacks, electronic jamming and land-based anti-satellite missiles — like the one China tested in 2007.
Laws of war govern conflicts on Earth, but there is no equivalent for space. And unanswered questions abound.
If one satellite collides with another in space, does that constitute an “attack”? What would be a proportional response? Civilian satellites should be protected from reprisals, but what about satellites with dual civilian and military uses? How does a nation respond to a cyber attack of uncertain origin?
“It’s very hard to distinguish between weapons and non weapons in space,” said Jack Beard, a professor in the University of Nebraska’s space law programme.
“If there’s a crisis in space involving China, it’s not clear our military knows who to call,” said Harrison.
But other observers take a more sceptical view of portraying China as an aggressive adversary of the US.
Brian Weeden, of the Washington-based Secure World Foundation, said some proponents of the China-as-threat argument wield it as a way to get money for NASA out of a tight-fisted Congress.
They “think that will motivate the US to go off and do the stuff in space that they want to do,” he said.
“They see the competition with China as a key to unlocking the political will and money to fund the projects they want to see.” — AFP
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Users can easily find trending videos via Lasso's hashtag tracking. — Pic courtesy of Lasso
NEW YORK, Nov 12 — In response to their diminishing teen audience, Facebook launched Lasso this past week, a short video sharing app that resembles TikTok and the late Vine.Product Manager of Lasso App @Facebook Bowen Pan announced on Friday the release of Lasso for iOS and Android, a TikTok competitor.Pan describes the application as “a video app that lets you create short, fun videos and share them with friends,” for everything like the lip-syncing videos of TikTok to brief musicless clips on the now-defunct Vine.The application boasts “cool camera tools and effects” to help users edit their recordings, as well as embellish the production with text or music from a massive song library.Users can easily find trending videos via Lasso’s hashtag tracking. The most popular video formats and challenges will be at your fingertips to emulate or just to laugh at.Naturally, the application connects seamlessly with Facebook—or whichever popular social media platform you prefer—so users can upload creations to their story in a snap.Just last week, a Vine co-founder announced a successor to legendary app called Byte, but this isn’t expected to launch until next Spring. With Lasso combining all the characteristics of both Vine (and mostly likely its successor, though very little information has been revealed) and the hugely popular TikTok application, Facebook maybe be wedging itself into the video-looping trend at the perfect time.The application is available on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store for free. — AFP-Relaxnews [...]
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Delegates attend PAS’ 64th Muktamar in Kuala Terengganu September 16, 2018. — Pictures by Azneal Ishak
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — It was an ironic sight to see PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang inspecting an honour guard of the Islamist party’s volunteer corps members dressed in controversial faux military dresses on Saturday.Just four months ago, it was Mohamad Sabu who was inspecting an honour guard, but with the Royal Malay Regiment, and as the newly-minted defence minister. In 2015, the politician known as Mat Sabu was ousted as Hadi’s deputy in PAS, only to have his political career at the apex now.Yesterday while closing PAS’s 64th muktamar or annual congress, Hadi warned delegates against the “disease” of chasing after positions of power.“Such individuals have the ailment of chasing after positions, until they even leave the party due to it. Stay far away from this aliment, and do not elect or support anyone who is obsessed with becoming a leader,” he told delegates.And yet, it is hard not to imagine the Marang MP bristling at the thought of his former comrades now in Putrajaya as Cabinet members.PAS was banking on a cordial relationship with Umno to sail it through the 14th general election, but any deal between the two backfired with perhaps the worst results yet for both of them in the polls.As part of Barisan Nasional, Umno had lost its six-decade grip on Malaysia, while PAS was consigned to Kelantan and Terengganu with minimal presence elsewhere.With barely over 100 days since the polls, the question for both parties are now no longer about courting voters, but whether it would survive to see the next general election.“It is true, Umno’s influence has waned. But, it is also true that the Malaysian political context would not be stable if Malay and Islam politics continue to be in chaos without any consensus and united intent,” said Umno vice-president Datuk Khaled Nordin in an open letter last night, directed at his former deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.Collaboration on the cardsEnter Pakatan Harapan (PH). In the fledgling ruling coalition, both parties see a common nemesis, and an alleged threat towards the Malay-Muslim bloc that makes up the bulk of its vote bank.Among the six motions that were passed without debate in the muktamar was to defend the faith and position of Islam in the country, accusing PH of being lenient towards liberal and secular elements that oppose Islam.In the past months, both PAS and Umno had agreed on thorny topics such as the alleged domination of non-Muslims in government top posts and the Parliament, the recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), and the usage of Malay language.Both had also trained their guns of PH’s apparent support for racial, religious and sexual minorities, and its reformist attitudes towards matters involving Malays and Muslims.The courtship continued with Umno Deputy President Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan heralding a “new political movement” between the two parties, and the later formalised ties in the Seri Setia by-election stump.Gifted with a political upper hand, PAS has only been too happy to welcome Umno with open arms.After Umno top leaders came out in force to attend the muktamar on Saturday, their president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was certainly not coy in expressing his desire to eventually form a new opposition coalition with PAS.“I feel political changes will occur be it with the Government or the Opposition, we will see when the time comes,” Hadi was quoted saying afterwards.Yesterday, PAS passed without debate a motion calling for the party to spearhead efforts to ensure the political survival of the Malay community and Islam in the country.PAS delegates also unanimously passed another motion to empower its central leadership and the consultative Syura Council to determine the party’s direction and role in the Opposition, after days debating its collaboration with Umno.The buzzword had been ta’awun siyasi, an Arabic term roughly translated as “political collaboration” — and just slightly more ambiguous than tahaluf siyasi, the “political consensus” that PAS had agreed upon with its Pakatan Rakyat allies previously.This move came just days after Malay Mail reported Zahid admitting that Umno MPs had signed statutory declarations allowing him to negotiate with any parties to enable Umno to return to power.
PAS delegates listening to the speeches during the 64th PAS Muktamar in Kuala Terengganu September 15, 2018.
Who will reap more rewards?There is more than just bad blood between PAS and Umno — the former was arguably born from a bitter split with the latter.In 1972, the two were both part of the Alliance coalition, and later Barisan Nasional, up until 1978.Umno members may yet to forgive Hadi’s own mandate in 1981 which dubbed those who oppose PAS as infidels. Conversely, PAS members would not forget being branded extremists during the 1985 deadly Memali incident.The delegates were not the only ones cautious about any betrayals from Umno.In a not-so-subtle remark during his winding up speech, deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man had warned PAS against becoming “lifebuoys for sinners”, but rather a “lifebuoy” to save Malaysians.“We will not be lumped together with sinners. Because it is Islam that will save us and so we invite the people to join us for success here and the hereafter,” he said.The cynicism goes both ways. A recent study by Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS), a think tank linked to the more progressive camp within Umno, said the loose collaboration between the Opposition parties was ineffectual in regaining lost support in the Sungai Kandis and Balakong by-elections, and was minimally effective in Seri Setia.In Sungai Kandis, Umno’s Datuk Lokman Noor Adam lost by a majority of 5,842 votes despite PAS’ backing, while in PAS’ Dr Halimah Ali [...]
(Bloomberg) — EpiPen, a life-saving allergy treatment widely criticized for its high price tag, will get generic competition for the first time since the autoinjector was approved more than two decades ago.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday cleared Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s generic EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. for sale, several years after the Israeli drugmaker filed for approval. Mylan NV has attempted to thwart competition from Teva, claiming that differences in how the epinephrine-injecting devices work would confuse patients. Mylan takes in about $1 billion a year in EpiPen sales.
Teva’s American depositary receipts rose 7.1 percent to $24.06 at 1:02 p.m. in New York. Mylan fell 0.4 percent to $37.68.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has pledged to help copycats of complex drug-device combinations, such as the EpiPen, find a way to market. The strategy is part of a sweeping effort by the Trump administration to bring down drug prices with more low-cost competition.
Mylan acquired the rights to sell EpiPen in 2007, when it cost about $57 per shot. The market leader, which is run from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, came under fire two years ago from patients and U.S. lawmakers for raising the price of EpiPen to $600 for a two-pack of the autoinjecting pens.
Mylan then introduced a generic version of its own device at $300 for a two-pack. In May, the FDA placed the EpiPen on its list of drugs in shortage after more than 400 patients in 45 states reported difficulty filling prescriptions following manufacturing issues at a Pfizer Inc. factory that makes the devices for Mylan.
“This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to life-saving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages,” Gottlieb said in a statement.
Mylan has faced competition from other autoinjectors — Impax Laboratories LLC’s Adrenaclick and Kaleo Inc.’s Auvi-Q — but neither are generic, which allows pharmacists to substitute the products for the a brand-name version at the drugstore counter. The two rivals haven’t sold nearly as well as EpiPen without name recognition. Adrenaclick is also on FDA’s shortage list.
Impax is now part of Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc. Shares of Amneal fell 1.6 percent to $21.58.
The FDA previously rejected Teva’s generic EpiPen in 2016 after citing “major deficiencies” in the proposal. Unlike Mylan’s one-cap EpiPen, Teva’s proposed generic substitute had two caps, including a removable one that covers the spot where its needle extends. The difference in caps would confuse patients and could prove dangerous, Mylan had argued. It wasn’t immediately clear how the cap situation was resolved as part of Teva’s approval.
Mylan’s cap is nonremovable, a fairly recent innovation that prevents users from accidentally pricking themselves or others. Mylan argues that the updated cap along with other advancements are critical to the pen’s safety and functionality. It acquired new patents on the device that prevented others from copying its design until 2025. [...]
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