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NEWS BRIEF: Week of May 8, 2017

Catch up on current events with these news highlights from last week.


Have you ever wondered what Lego’s design process is for its products? Star Wars ranks among Lego’s top five licenses, and their products begin development one to two years before their release to retail shelves. Lego product designers share an inside look into the development of Rey’s speeder from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


According to UNICEF, diarrheal diseases alone account for one in five deaths of Cambodian children age 5 and younger, largely due to poor hygiene practices. When choosing between purchasing soap or food, families will prioritize feeding their children. Samir Lakhani, the founder of the Eco-Soap Bank, collects barely-used bars of soaps from hotels to recycle them into new bars or liquid soap. “What I love most is that we are killing three birds with one stone,” Lakhani said. “We are keeping waste out of landfills, employing locals and spreading soap all over the country.”


House Republicans passed their Obamacare repeal and replacement bill Thursday after last-minute revisions. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) allows states to waive protections for people with pre-existing conditions which won over the conservative Freedom Caucus but alienated many moderates. Negotiations between President Trump and moderate Reps. Fred Upton and Billy Long resulted in the Upton-Long amendment which puts $8 billion in new funds toward high-risk pools that will cover people priced out of the insurance market in states that exercise the pre-existing conditions waiver.


Aubrey de Grey, biogerontologist and chief science officer of the SENS Research Foundation, considers aging an engineering problem. The human body is a machine, as he puts it, and like any machine, it can be maintained for as long as we want. He’s developed a “divide-and-conquer strategy” to isolate the seven known causes of aging (e.g. cell loss and corrosive mitochondrial mutations) and tackle them individually with stem cell therapies.


On Sunday, France elected Emmanuel Macron, a “centrist political neophyte” as its next president. Winning 66 percent of the vote, Macron’s victory signaled a repudiation of Marine Le Pen’s populist platform.

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