While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, July 24

A person walks past China's consulate in San Francisco, California, on July 23, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

FBI interviewing Chinese visa holders across US about possible military ties

The FBI has interviewed visa holders it believes to secretly be members of the Chinese military in more than two dozen US cities, the Justice Department said on Thursday.

The department said it has arrested three Chinese nationals for visa fraud, while a fourth remains a fugitive staying at China's consulate in San Francisco.

The United States believes the four were members of China's military posing as researchers.

"In interviews with members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army in over 25 cities across the US, the FBI uncovered a concerted effort to hide their true affiliation to take advantage of the United States and the American people," John Brown, executive assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's national security branch, said in a statement.


Pompeo calls for 'free world' to triumph over China's 'new tyranny'

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Thursday on "free nations" to triumph over the threat of what he said was a "new tyranny" from China.

"Today, China is increasingly authoritarian at home, and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere else," Pompeo said in a California speech that laid a stark view of Washington's rivalry with Beijing.

"If the free world doesn't change Communist China, Communist China will change us," he said at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California.


Two US fighter jets near Iranian passenger plane over Syrian airspace: Pilot

Two US fighter jets came close to an Iranian passenger plane over Syrian airspace, causing the pilot to change altitude quickly to avoid collision and injuring several passengers, the official IRIB news agency reported on Thursday.

The agency initially said a single Israeli jet had come near the plane but later quoted the pilot as saying there were two jets which identified themselves as American.

The pilot of the passenger plane contacted the jet pilots to warn them to keep a safe distance and they identified themselves as American, IRIB reported.


Plastic pollution flowing into oceans to triple by 2040, study shows

The amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean and killing marine life could triple in the next 20 years, unless companies and governments can drastically reduce plastic production, a new study published on Thursday said.

Single-use plastic consumption has increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the International Solid Waste Association, an NGO.

Face masks and latex gloves are washing up daily on Asia's remote beaches.


Could your Fitbit or Apple Watch detect early Covid-19 symptoms?

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Fitbit and other wearable devices typically linked to exercise are being studied as ways to identify people who are potentially infected with Covid-19 before symptoms appear, when they can unknowingly spread the disease.

Changes in heart rate, respiratory rate, and other biometrics measured constantly by the devices may flag the early stages of virus infection, so an otherwise healthy-looking person knows to self-isolate and seek a Covid-19 diagnostic test, researchers say.

Stanford researchers are among several groups examining whether wearable fitness devices such as the Fitbit or Apple Watch can provide an early warning.


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