China's exports declined at a slower pace in August, even as the world's second-biggest economy remains under pressure from weaker demand both domestically and abroad. Exports for August slumped 8.8% from the same time last year, totaling $284.87 billion, and were slower than the 14.5% last month, according to customs data. Imports slid 7.3% from a year ago to $216.51 billion, but beat consensus estimates of a 9% decline. China's trade surplus contracted 13.2% to $68.36 billion, lower than the $80.6 billion in July.

Chinese leaders have in recent months rolled out several policy measures to shore up the economy after a post-COVID rebound fizzled earlier than expected. China's central banks have eased borrowing rules, relaxing borrowing rules and lowering mortgage rates for first-time home buyers as well as implementing some tax relief measures for small businesses. However, authorities have yet to announce large-scale stimulus spending or tax cuts.

Mexico's Supreme Court threw out all federal criminal penalties for abortion, ruling that national laws prohibiting the procedure are unconstitutional and violate women's rights in a sweeping decision that extended Latin America's trend of widening abortion access. The high court ordered that abortion be removed from the federal penal code. The ruling will require the federal public health service and all federal health institutions to offer abortion to anyone who requests it.

"No woman or pregnant person, nor any health worker, will be punished for abortion," the Information Group for Chosen Reproduction, known by its Spanish initials GIRE, said in a statement. Some 20 Mexican states, however, still criminalise abortion. While judges in those states will have to abide by the court's decision, further legal work will be required to remove all penalties. Sen. Olga Sánchez Cordero, a former Supreme Court justice, applauded the ruling, saying that it represented an advance toward "a more just society in which the rights of all are respected."

The humanitarian situation in conflict-wracked eastern Congo has deteriorated alarmingly in the past 18 months with 8 million people in urgent need of assistance just in three provinces, a senior UN official said this week. Edem Wosornu, the UN humanitarian office's operations director who just returned from a trip to Congo with emergency directors from U.N. agencies and humanitarian organisations, said that what they saw and heard "was shocking, heartbreaking and sobering."

She said the situation in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces "is frankly the worst situation we have ever seen." Wosornu told a news conference that gender-based violence is "being perpetrated on a massive and distressing scale" with more than 35,000 survivors seeking access to treatment and services in just the first six months of 2023. Conflict has been simmering for decades in mineral-rich eastern Congo, where more than 130 armed groups are fighting mainly for control of land and mines though some groups are trying to protect their communities.

Scientists have grown an entity that closely resembles an early human embryo, without using sperm, eggs or a womb. The team at the Weizmann Institute of Science say their "embryo model", made using stem cells, looks like a textbook example of a real 14-day-old embryo. It even released hormones that turned a pregnancy test positive in the lab. The ambition for embryo models is to provide an ethical way of understanding the earliest moments of our lives.

The first weeks after a sperm fertilises an egg is a period of dramatic change - from a collection of indistinct cells to something that eventually becomes recognisable on a baby scan. This crucial time is a major source of miscarriage and birth defects but poorly understood. The research, published in the journal Nature, is described by the Israeli team as the first "complete" embryo model for mimicking all the key structures that emerge in the early embryo.

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