Novartis Backs Off From 2016 Date For Testing Google Autofocus Lens

Novartis Backs Off From 2016 Date For Testing Google Autofocus Lens

An official in the Levant Front rebel group, which fights under the Free Syrian Army banner, told Reuters that the pro-government forces appeared to be seeking to advance along a highway that bisects the rebel-held part of Aleppo.

While the government side has unleashed enormous firepower, its advances into rebel-held areas of Aleppo since September have been limited. The rebel forces are deeply entrenched and say they are well prepared for urban war.

Beijing aims to capitalize on the Trump-induced coma of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with President Xi Jinping selling alternate visions for regional trade at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting this weekend in Peru.

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China will position itself as free trade's new champion at an Asia-Pacific summit this weekend, with the Communist government seeking to project economic leadership as a U.S.-led Pacific Rim trade pact languishes under President-elect Donald Trump.

Novartis and Google joined forces two years ago to develop two kinds of "smart" contact lenses: An autofocusing lens for people with presbyopia, or far-sightedness, and another for measuring blood glucose levels in diabetes patients.

This week, Peru's trade minister said it was engaging China on ways to get involved with RCEP negotiations. If Lima joined the talks, which is unlikely until existing members come to terms, it would be the only participant from the Americas and could encourage other TPP signatories in Latin America to follow suit.

The role-reversal on free trade zones and other uncertainties stemming from Trump's election bolsters China's image, Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said at a forum in Beijing on Wednesday.

Syrian government forces and allied militia renewed a heavy bombardment of rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Tuesday after a pause of several weeks. Russia, whose air force is bombing in support of Assad, says it has not taken part in the latest Aleppo attack. Moscow has, however, escalated its role in the war, launching attacks on other rebel-held areas from the sea.

China's efforts to push trade pacts coincide with other soft power initiatives aimed at cementing the country's economic influence, such as Xi's global One Belt, One Road infrastructure plan and the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Bombs hit a hospital in east Aleppo on Friday evening, the fourth health facility put out of service there in four days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and a health official from a rebel area said.

Claire Reade, senior counsel at U.S. law firm Arnold & Porter and a former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs, said China would seek to contrast its commitment to the region with U.S. inconstancy.

The RCEP and the TPP -- which excludes China -- were viewed as parallel, if competing pathways, to an eventual broader Asia-Pacific free trade zone. But when Beijing hosted the APEC meeting in 2014 and pushed the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) as a framework for liberalizing Pacific Rim trade, the United States saw it as a distraction from TPP.

In a sign of frustration with the United States among some TPP members, Peru's president has said that Pacific-rim countries can forge a new trade deal to replace TPP that includes China and Russia but not the United States.

"Withdrawing from trade agreements, talking about shaking up alliances, talking about pulling out of the climate change agreement, talking about pulling out of Iran - all of these make China look like the responsible stakeholder," Paal said.

Witnesses and the Observatory said rockets fired from rebel areas near the city hit central Damascus on Thursday and Friday. Syrian state media said one woman died and others were injured in rockets fired on residential areas of Damascus on Friday.

In the four days since bombardment resumed on eastern Aleppo, the Observatory says it has documented 65 deaths and hundreds of injuries in east Aleppo, and four deaths and dozens of injuries in government-held west Aleppo as a result of rebel rocket fire. State media said shelling killed five more people in western Aleppo on Friday.

A source on the government side confirmed large mobilization by pro-Assad forces. The source said the shelling of recent days was in preparation for ground operations. A media unit run by Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shi'ite group fighting in support of Assad, said the army had made progress in northeastern Aleppo.

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