Morning Update

US-China Talks Complicated By Disclosure Of NSA Program
When it was disclosed this week by the Guardian and The Washington Post that the National Security Agency has been monitoring the activities of Americans through their telephone and Internet, many commentators leaped to offer their thoughts on the domestic impact of the disclosure.

While the leaked information may pose domestic political problems for Obama, the info may have greater impact on US-China relations, particularly on the issue of cyber warfare.

And the timing could not be worse for the Obama administration as cyber warfare topped the agenda of the meeting between the US president and Chinese President Xi Jinping. John Gapper of the Financial Times says the disclosure will provide a “debating point” for Xi, but it will also “transform the entire terms of debate over trade, security and cyber warfare – and not necessarily to the US’s advantage.”

Even though China’s hacking is focused on acquiring trade and state secrets, while the NSA’s focus is on terrorist activity, the disclosure further complicates US-China relations.

“Now, the NSA has been revealed to be doing exactly what western politicians  have feared from Huawei. It has been exploiting domestic companies such as Apple  to monitor foreign citizens, thus removing any incentive for others to trust  them. As a marketing strategy for Silicon Valley, it is a disaster,” Gapper writes, adding that it “leaves US-China trade and security relations in a mess: China makes US products that may be used by the NSA to monitor hundreds of millions of  foreigners, including its citizens.”

Concerns About Global Outbreak Of Illness Grows
An outbreak in Saudi Arabia of cases of a coronavirus and bird flu in China has World Health Organization officials expressing concern.

In early May, Saudi officials announced 13 new cases of MERS over the course of a few days. Since the start of May there have been 38 new cases worldwide—31 of them in Saudi Arabia—and 20 of the victims have died, according to Scientific American magazine.

And the World Health Organization reports that since September 2012, as many as 50 cases have been identified.

Some medical experts, however, believe the virus will weaken over time and is not likely to develop into a worldwide concern.

Dr. Marc Siegel, associate professor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center in New York City tells HealthDay the virus merits following but “fear is the biggest virus going” and that “the amount of concern is already outweighing the risk. People have seen ‘Contagion’ too many times.”

Studies Provide Useful Information On Spread Of Bird Flu
On a positive note, two studies were released this week which offer some insight into why bird flu viruses spread more easily from birds to humans than other viruses.

Ram Sasisekharan of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, an author of one of the reports, says the findings “can be put to use to monitor the evolution of H5N1 and H7N9 viruses in the field as well as in the clinic if and when there is an outbreak.”





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