Ten things you won’t hear about while everyone discusses Kate Middleton’s pregnancy

News keeps happening, although it might not seem like it at the moment.

  1. Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi has reportedly defected from Assad’s regime. Makdissi, who is part of Syria’s Christian minority, had previously staunchly defended the regime’s crackdown, but is now said to have “left the country”. There are also reports that the UN is pulling its staff out of Syria, meaning that aid missions outside the city of Damascus will be suspended.
     
  2. There’s a pretty important economic event happening in the UK on Wednesday, when George Osborne will deliver his Autumn Statement (yes, it is December, but he doesn’t seem to know that). The FT have a handy outline of what you can expect if you like tax, rather than cooing over the possibility of twins, here.
     
  3. Five EU states have summoned their respective Israeli ambassadors to protest against Israel’s authorisation of 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
     
  4. Spain has requested a €39.5bn bailout from the EU for its struggling banking sector. The Telegraph reports that “€37bn of that will go to the four big banks, while €2.5bn will be dropped into the ‘bad bank’ which is soaking up much of the country's toxic property assets”.
     
  5. Kim Jong-Un is probably going to start testing missiles again quite soon.
     
  6. Paul McCartney will appear in the final print edition of The Dandy, before it goes online-only. Apparently, he’s a big fan.
     
  7. Despite the so-called “shareholder spring” earlier this year, where shareholders voted against remuneration packages for FTSE100 bosses, executive pay is still up 12 per cent in the last 12 months.
     
  8. The DRC government has regained control over Goma, but the M23 rebels are still only a few kilometres away, according to Reuters.
     
  9. It looks like Italy is going to have a centre-left prime minister come the spring – Pier Luigi Bersani has retained control of his party, which is ahead in the polls. The BBC says he’s a a slow-talking cigar-smoking former-communist, in case you were wondering.
     
  10. Some people think the world is going to end on 21 December, so French authorities are going to pre-emptively close a mountain just in case. Apparently, the doomsday cultists “believe the Pic de Bugarach is an ‘alien garage’ and that extraterrestrials are quietly waiting in a massive cavity beneath the rock for the world to end”.
     
Pic de Bugarach, aka Mayan doomsday mountain. Photograph: WikiCommons

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

#Match4Lara
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#Match4Lara: Lara has found her match, but the search for mixed-race donors isn't over

A UK blood cancer charity has seen an "unprecedented spike" in donors from mixed race and ethnic minority backgrounds since the campaign started. 

Lara Casalotti, the 24-year-old known round the world for her family's race to find her a stem cell donor, has found her match. As long as all goes ahead as planned, she will undergo a transplant in March.

Casalotti was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in December, and doctors predicted that she would need a stem cell transplant by April. As I wrote a few weeks ago, her Thai-Italian heritage was a stumbling block, both thanks to biology (successful donors tend to fit your racial profile), and the fact that mixed-race people only make up around 3 per cent of international stem cell registries. The number of non-mixed minorities is also relatively low. 

That's why Casalotti's family launched a high profile campaign in the US, Thailand, Italy and the US to encourage more people - especially those from mixed or minority backgrounds - to register. It worked: the family estimates that upwards of 20,000 people have signed up through the campaign in less than a month.

Anthony Nolan, the blood cancer charity, also reported an "unprecedented spike" of donors from black, Asian, ethcnic minority or mixed race backgrounds. At certain points in the campaign over half of those signing up were from these groups, the highest proportion ever seen by the charity. 

Interestingly, it's not particularly likely that the campaign found Casalotti her match. Patient confidentiality regulations protect the nationality and identity of the donor, but Emily Rosselli from Anthony Nolan tells me that most patients don't find their donors through individual campaigns: 

 It’s usually unlikely that an individual finds their own match through their own campaign purely because there are tens of thousands of tissue types out there and hundreds of people around the world joining donor registers every day (which currently stand at 26 million).

Though we can't know for sure, it's more likely that Casalotti's campaign will help scores of people from these backgrounds in future, as it has (and may continue to) increased donations from much-needed groups. To that end, the Match4Lara campaign is continuing: the family has said that drives and events over the next few weeks will go ahead. 

You can sign up to the registry in your country via the Match4Lara website here.

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.