• iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- Hospital records from a young North Korean soldier who defected earlier this month offer telling details about health problems in the closed country.The soldier had both parasitic infections and a dangerous hepatitis infection -- conditions that speak to the poor sanitation and rough conditions those in the hermit nation experience on a day-to-day basis.The most shocking details, perhaps, are the reports of large parasitic worms, some measuring 11 inches, recovered from the 24-year-old’s intestines.“An estimated five million people in North Korea have intestinal roundworms, that’s 20 percent of the population,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor.Doctors found the parasites -- likely Ascaris roundworms -- when repairing intestinal damage from multiple bullet wounds the soldier sustained during his escape. The eggs of these worms are frequently found in the soil, especially in developing countries that use human waste as an inexpensive fertilizer. Once inside the body, these eggs hatch to form larvae, eventually developing into large, mature worms that infect the small intestine. They can reach lengths of more than 13 inches.But despite the size of these creatures, Ascaris roundworm infections may not be accompanied by noticeable symptoms. However, Hotez said they can lead to malnutrition in those infected. In children, this can lead to developmental delays and short stature."Instead of feeding the kid, you’re feeding the worms," said Hotez. "They rob children of nutrition."Multiple large worms in an infected person, however, can also cause intestinal blockages, and these worms can travel to the nearby liver, gallbladder, or pancreas and cause damage and inflammation to these organs as well, Hotez said.While dramatic in appearance, roundworm infections are easy to treat, generally requiring only a single dose of anti-parasitic medication.Likewise, another parasitic worm infection the soldier reportedly had, Toxocara, is also fairly easily treated. Toxocara is a parasite similar to Ascaris, though it is normally found in the intestines of dogs and cats; the worms do not usually grow as large in the intestines of humans. The larvae of these parasites often migrate to other organs in the body –- often the liver, brain, lungs and eyes –- causing damage to the affected organs.But even more problematic than these parasitic infections are reports that the soldier was also infected with hepatitis B, a viral infection of the liver that can lead to life-threatening cirrhosis if untreated.The soldier is just the latest case report of health problems among hundreds of other refugees and defectors from North Korea. Past reports have shown that many who have successfully fled suffer from these maladies, as well as tuberculosis, a common and frequently difficult to treat lung infection.Studies comparing North Korean defectors to other refugee populations found they were more likely to be underweight -- and another estimated that about one-third of North Korean children under the age of 5 is malnourished. Dental and vision problems, such as cataracts, are also frequently reported.Though the reclusive nature of the country limits what is known about its active and ongoing health problems, Hotez said these health issues are common to other places in the world that face devastating economic conditions.“These are not unique to North Korea,” he said. “These are all infections that are extremely common in the poorest parts of Asia. Toxocara is found in poor neighborhoods in the United States, as well.”Worm eradication programs were successfully implemented in South Korea following the Korean War, Hotez added, and pharmaceutical companies have been willing to donate global supply of anti-parasitic drugs to countries in need.Other conditions afflicting North Koreans, such as hepatitis B, are completely
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- The North Korean soldier who was captured on video defecting to the South is enjoying watching South Korean music videos and the American movie "Transformers 3," his doctor says.
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  • Masfiqur Sohan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar's Rakhine state as ethnic cleansing for the first time on Wednesday. Tillerson did not use the term during his brief visit to Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, on Nov. 15, deciding only after visiting and analyzing the situation to describe the situation that way.What does declaring the violence ethnic cleansing do in effect?In reality, the new descriptor does not immediately accomplish much. Ethnic cleansing is a term that is not legally defined by U.S. or international law. A declaration does not trigger any sort of obligation or consequence.For now, State Department officials said they are looking into targeted sanctions against individuals who may have carried out violence if the specific allegations can be confirmed. Some sanctions placed on Burma in 1998 due to anti-democratic activities of a military junta were lifted in 2016.State officials said they expect the determination to "increase pressure" on the civilian government and military in Myanmar to reach an agreement on repatriating the 600,000 or so Rohingya who have fled as refugees into neighboring Bangladesh.Who is perpetrating the ethnic cleansing?Though ethnic cleansing has been declared, the perpetrator has not been defined as the Myanmar military. State Department officials said there are a number of "potential sources" of conflict, including both military forces and vigilante groups.What will happen to the victims of the violence?The State Department is focusing on returning the Rohingya who have fled to Bangladesh as refugees back to their homes. Even still, officials acknowledge that repatriating even a few hundred Rohingya per day would mean the process could last for years -- a huge logistical challenge at this point. The department will focus on voluntary repatriation, meaning they realize many Rohingya might not want to return to their former homes.Last week, Tillerson announced an additional $47 million in humanitarian assistance for those affected, bringing the total amount spent to aid the victims since August of last year to $87 million.Why aren't broader sanctions being imposed?Broader sanctions remain a challenge, as State Department officials are wary of hindering the fragile civilian government in Myanmar, which has shared power with the military as laid out in the Burmese Constitution about 18 months ago. Transition of power to the fledgling civilian government is a delicate process and could benefit all the persecuted civilian groups in Myanmar -- if it can be accomplished.What is Aung San Suu Kyi doing about the crisis?The State Department had little to say about the role of the de facto civilian leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who many have criticized for not doing enough to stem the violence. State Department officials look to Suu Kyi's leadership but did not lay out a specific goal or role for her to play.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A U.S. Navy aircraft with 11 passengers and crew crashed into the Philippine Sea on Wednesday on its return to the USS Ronald Reagan, according to the Navy's 7th Fleet. Eight of the 11 have been rescued and are in good condition, the Navy said.Search and rescue efforts continue for the other three people onboard the aircraft when it went down.The crash, which took place about 500 nautical miles (575 miles) southeast of Okinawa, Japan, happened at 2:45 p.m. local time, which is 12:45 a.m. ET.The USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations, the Navy said.The cause of the crash is unknown.The Navy said the C2-A aircraft was conducting "a routine transport flight carrying passengers and cargo from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to USS Ronald Reagan."The USS Ronald Reagan is currently operating in the Philippine Sea. The ship was taking part in Annual Exercise 2017 (AE17), a bilateral field-training exercise with the Japanese Navy conducted in waters off Japan from Nov. 16 to Nov. 26.It is one of three carriers currently operating in the area, along with the USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt. They took part in a military exercise a little over a week ago as a show of strength toward North Korea.The accident is the latest in a series of disasters in 2017 for the 7th Fleet, which is stationed in Japan. In January, the USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Japan, damaging its propellers and spilling oil into the water. The USS Lake Champlain collided with South Korean fishing boat on May 9.Seven U.S. sailors were killed when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship in the middle of the night off the coast of Yokosuka on June 17.And the deadliest accident came on Aug. 21, when 10 U.S. sailors were killed when the USS John S. McCain collided with commercial vessel Alnic MC in waters east of Singapore, according to the Navy.The commander of the 7th Fleet was removed of his command in late August following the USS John S. McCain accident. Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin was relieved of duty due to a "loss of confidence in his ability to command," according to the Navy.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The United Nations Command in control of the border between the two Koreas released dramatic video footage on Tuesday of what happened when a North Korean solider defected to the South earlier this month.The video shows the defector speeding south in a Jeep, before getting out, pursued by North Korean soldiers who open fire on the man, and later dragged to freedom by South Korean soldiers after being shot seven times.The surveillance video also showed one of the North Korean guards step across the demarcation line, a violation of the ceasefire agreement, while chasing and shooting after the defector as he ran for freedom.The 24-year-old defector, identified only by his last name, Oh, is shown driving a four-wheel military jeep along a road on the northern side of the border toward the South. It approaches a white building, a checkpoint under North Korean control, then passes by the building at full speed after turning on its headlights.A North Korean guard is seen running after the vehicle as it drives across a bridge and then passes a memorial to North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. This memorial is a well-known tourist spot for visitors to the Joint Security Area (JSA) inside the demilitarized zone.The jeep appears to run into a ditch just a few feet away from a white demarcation line officially separating the two Koreas. After failed attempts to free the vehicle, the defector jumps out and sprints for his life toward the South. But North Korean armed guards who had hurried to the jeep fire shots behind the defector. The dramatic moment is shown in the video when he succeeds in running past the demarcation line then falls on the side of a concrete wall controlled by the South Korean side.The United Nations Command also released infrared video images of how the allied soldiers carefully crawled toward the defector lying on a pile of fallen leaves, and drag him to safety."After thoroughly reviewing the investigation results, I assess the actions taken by the UNC Security Battalion were in a manner that is consistent with the Armistice Agreement, namely -- to respect the Demilitarized Zone and to take actions that deter a resumption of hostilities," Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the UNC commander, said in a statement. "The armistice agreement was challenged, but it remains in place."Violation of the armistice agreementAnalysis of the video shows that North Korea violated the armistice agreement by firing weapons across the military demarcation line (MDL) and actually crossing the line temporarily, according to Chad Carroll, Director of Public Affairs for the UNC.Signed in 1953 by the U.N., North Korea and China, the Armistice Agreement put an end to the Korean War that stretched on for three years. The agreement states, "Neither side shall execute any hostile act within, from, or against the demilitarized zone. No person, military or civilian, shall be permitted to cross the military demarcation line unless specifically authorized to do so by the Military Armistice Commission."Although North Korea has announced its withdrawal from the agreement repeatedly since then, the U.N. has continuously argued that it is still in effect. The open fire across the demilitarized zone and crossing of the MDL shown in the video is therefore taken as a provocative violation of the ceasefire designed to ensure peace in the peninsula.The North Korean Army was notified of these violations on Wednesday through communication channels in Panmunjom, a village just north of the border. The UNC personnel have also requested a meeting to discuss the investigation results and measures to prevent further transgressions.North Korea is yet to comment on the defected soldier or the violation of the agreement.Medical conditionDespite being shot seven times, the soldier is "not going to die," Lee Cook-jong, the lead surgeon who operated on the defected soldier, told press on Wednesday.Oh regained consciousness and confessed that he defecte
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  • Argentine Navy(BUENOS AIRES, Argentina) -- The search for a missing Argentine submarine is entering the "critical" stage, the country's navy said Tuesday.
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