Hawaii to test nuclear warning system amid North Korea’s threats

Hawaii is set to become the first state in the US to test an “attack- warning” system in the event of a North Korean nuclear missile strike.

Starting in November, Hawaii’s disaster warning plan will include a new protocol in case of a nuclear attack, CNN affiliate KNHL reports. But some are concerned the announcement will scare off tourists from visiting the island.

A “guidance summary” from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says residents will be alerted of nuclear detonation through siren alarms and flashing white lights. An Emergency Alert System will broadcast over television and radio frequencies as well.

There are 4,661 miles of ocean between Hawaii and North Korea, making the island one of the closest US territories to Kim Jong Un’s regime after Guam and Alaska.

Despite plans for testing a nuclear warning system, there is no need to panic, Vern Miyagi, an administrator with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, told the affiliate.

“When I see stuff like, ‘Hawaii prepares for nuclear attack,’ that’s way overboard. We’re not preparing for a nuclear attack,” he said. “This is just a hazard, like tsunamis and hurricanes that Hawaii faces. It’s not impending.”

Miyagi added the threat of a nuclear strike is “not mature.”

‘Odds are so small right now’

Despite the alert system’s label as “just a hazard,” some are wondering why it was announced at the height of Hawaii’s tourist season.

“The odds are so small right now and the possibility of this happening is so remote,” Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa told the affiliate. “It’s not worth getting everybody into a major economic situation to plan for a major attack.”

Hawaii is a critical outpost for the US military, hosting naval and air force bases. US Pacific Command, the military’s headquarters for the Asia-Pacific region, is on the island of Oahu.

While Hawaii is the first state in the US to prepare for a North Korean attack, it’s not alone on the world stage. Japan implemented a similar alert system after four North Korean missiles landed off its northwest coast in March, one landing just over 100 miles from the city of Oga.

Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association president Mufi Hanneman told the affiliate that the system should only make tourists more comfortable traveling to the island.

“We certainly have marketed ourselves as one of the safest places to visit if not in America, in the world,” he said. “If I were a visitor, I’d be pleased to know that Hawaii is taking steps and that I can continue to go there and feel safe.”

In case of an actual nuclear strike, residents are instructed to go inside and remain sheltered for 14 days or until they are told it is safe to leave. While in shelter, residents should listen to local AM-FM radio stations for official information.

But despite the possibility of a decline in tourism, Miyagi says it’s still worth testing the new system, even if an attack isn’t imminent.

“Probability is low,” he said. “But we just want to get ahead of it.”

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Musician strums guitar throughout brain surgery

A musician played the guitar while undergoing brain surgery to fix cramping in his fingers, according to the surgeon who conducted the operation in India.

Abhishek Prasad, 37, was fully awake during the four-hour procedure under local anesthetic, said Sharan Srinivasan, head neurosurgeon at the Bhagwayn Mahaveer Jain Hospital in Bangalore.

For 20 months, Prasad suffered from a neurological condition called musical dystonia before the surgery July 11, the surgeon said.

“This is a form of a task-specific movement disorder, which comes out only when playing a musical instrument. In his case … it was the cramping of three fingers, middle ring and little, on his left hand beuse of the misfiring circuits in his brain,” the surgeon said.

Whenever he played the guitar, his fingers would get stuck.

‘Radio-frequency ablation’

Srinivasan said he performed “radio-frequency ablation” to correct the condition, a treatment he had trained for in Japan.

The treatment uses radio-frequency currents to destroy the part of the brain circuit triggering abnormal tremors.

After putting a frame on Prasad’s head and using a special MRI scan to map his brain, Srinivasan said his team had to rely on Prasad’s reactions to pinpoint the exact area that required burning.

“This is why the patient has to be fully awake during the surgery. He has to give me a real time feedback,” the surgeon said.

“As I am entering the brain, I’m stimulating the brain at various levels to make sure I’m in the right location, I’m not in the wrong location. Once I confirmed that I’m there, then I started burning the circuits with radio-frequency currents.”

The patient’s real-time response is critical to the operation.

“As I’m doing it, he kept playing the guitar and he is seeing his fingers releasing,” the surgeon said.

Local anesthesia

Srinivasan said he took extra measures to ensure the patient was not in pain.

“He was only under local anesthesia, which means wherever I made a cut in the skin, I give an injection, so that he doesn’t feel the pain. Because the brain itself has no pain. Only the skin or the top of the skull that is painful.”

Srinivasan said it was the first time surgery of this kind had been performed in India.

“So, this is a milestone in India’s medical field.”

Between 1% and 2% of musicians are believed to have musical dystonia, and anyone conducting repetitive tasks that keep stimulating the same brain circuit is prone to the condition, according to the surgeon.

“Patients think they have a psychological problem. They don’t know it’s a neurological circuit issue that can be fixed.”

Prasad was in hospital for three days after the surgery, and is doing well, Srinivasan said.

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Prince George marks 4th birthday with new photo

You have to admit: Prince George is one cute 4-year-old.

The young lad certainly looks like a happy boy, with a smile in his eyes and a toothy grin in an official portrait released by Kensington Palace to coincide with his birthday on Saturday.

“(His parents, Prince William and Kate Middleton) are delighted to share a new official portrait of Prince George to mark HRH’s 4th birthday tomorrow,” Kensington Palace said in a tweet on its verified account.

George’s parents, the palace added, “are very pleased to share this lovely picture, and would like to thank everyone for all of the kind messages they have received.”

The photo was taken in June at Kensington Palace by Getty Photographer Chris Jackson.

Jackson tweeted that he was honored the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge released his photo.

Jackson posted another photo of Prince George taken Friday on the last day of the family’s trip to Germany.

He wrote: “On the eve of his birthday little Prince George got to explore a helicopter in Germany!”

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White House demands release of US prisoners in Iran or face ‘serious consequences’

The White House is demanding the release of all Americans currently being held in Iran and says President Donald Trump is “prepared to impose new and serious” consequences on the country if they are not released and returned.

A statement released by the White House Friday said the Trump administration is “redoubling” its efforts to bring home Americans “unjustly detained” abroad.

The statement mentioned three Americans specifically by name: Robert Levinson and Siamak and Baquer Namazi. Levinson has been held captive in Iran for over 10 years and The Namazis were taken during the Obama administration, according to the statement.

“The United States condemns hostage takers and nations that continue to take hostages and detain our citizens without just cause or due process. For nearly forty years, Iran has used detentions and hostage taking as a tool of state policy, a practice that continues to this day with the recent sentencing of Xiyue Wang to ten years in prison,” the statement read.

The statement urged that Iran is responsible for the care and well being of all US citizens it has in its custody. It added that Trump is willing to impose new consequence unless all “unjustly imprisoned’ American citizens are released by Iran.

Another American, Chinese-born Xiyue Wang, was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran after being convicted of spying. Wang was arrested in Iran last summer while doing scholarly research in connection with his Ph.D. dissertation, a Princeton University statement said.

The White House announcement comes at the heels of a new administration policy — banning Americans from visiting another country known for imprisoning Americans — North Korea.

The State Department announced on Friday it will authorize a geographical travel on US nationals visiting the country because of “mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention.”

The decision follows the June release of US citizen Otto Warmbier, who was arrested last year while on a sightseeing tour to North Korea. After being held prisoner by North Korea for 17 months, Warmbier was handed over to the US in a vegetative state. He died a few days later in Ohio.

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