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China to probe gene-editing case, and Ukraine imposes martial law after Russia clash

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UAE pardons British scholar Matthew Hedges who was jailed for spying, and China United Nations report claims home most dangerous place for women.

China orders inquiry into ‘world’s first gene-edited babies’

China’s health and medical ethics authorities Monday started an investigation into claims made by a Chinese scientist that he has created the world’s first genetically edited babies, reports The Guardian.

In videos posted on YouTube, He Jiankui had claimed that the DNA of the twin girls was altered to prevent them from contracting HIV. The editing was carried out using the CRISPR-Cas9 technique.

In a joint statement, a group of 100 Chinese scientists criticised the findings and called for better state legislation.

“It is a great blow to the global reputation and development of biomedical research in China,” said the statement posted on social media platform Weibo.

Gene editing of embryos is banned in several countries over fears that the changes could have unforeseen effects on the entire gene pool.

Ukraine imposes martial law for first time since World War II

Ukraine lawmakers Monday imposed martial law for 30 days in “vulnerable parts of the country” after Russia seized three Ukrainian naval ships and took their crew prisoner over the weekend, reports Reuters.

The country has imposed martial law for the first time since World War II.

President Petro Poroshenko, who warned of the “extremely serious” threat of land invasion, said martial law was necessary to bolster Ukraine’s defences.

The law, which could give the government extraordinary powers over civil society, is said to start on 28 November, reports CNN.

The crisis erupted when Russia’s FSB security service seized two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tug boat after opening fire on them and left three sailors injured Sunday.

US President Donald Trump said he is unhappy with the current situation between Russia and Ukraine and is working with European leaders to fix it.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The United States condemns this aggressive Russian action. We call on Russia to return to Ukraine its vessels and detained crew members, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

UAE releases British scholar sentenced to life after presidential pardon

Matthew Hedges, the 31-year-old British academic who was jailed for life on spying charges last week by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been released, reports Al Jazeera.

Hedges was among over 700 people pardoned by UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Monday, the country’s national day.

He will be permitted to leave UAE after the formalities are completed, the report adds.

Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, said on Twitter that the pardon was the best news they could’ve received.

United Kingdom’s foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the pardon was “fantastic news”. He added that the UK was “grateful” the issue was resolved.

In a statement, UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash said, “This was a straightforward matter that became unnecessarily complex despite the UAE’s best efforts.”

Home ‘most dangerous’ place for women: UN study

A new United Nations study claims that home is the most dangerous place for women, reports CNN.

Around 50,000 out of 87,000 women killed last year, were killed by partners or family members, says the report on gender-related killing of women and girls by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The 25-November report says that around 137 women are killed by family members every day, it said.

UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov said that women continue to pay the highest price as a result of gender inequality, discrimination and negative stereotypes. He added that gender-based homicide is a lethal act on a continuum of gender-based discrimination and abuse.

Globally, Asia stood first with the highest number of women killed by partners or family members last year, at 20,000, followed by Africa (19,000), the Americas (8,000), Europe (3,000) and Oceania (300).

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