Friday, November 13, 2009

n.y. drinking water and the marcellus shale

Democracy Now | The New York-based Toxics Targeting went through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s own database of hazardous substances spills over the past thirty years. They found 270 cases documenting fires, explosions, wastewater spills, well contamination and ecological damage related to gas drilling. Many of the cases remain unresolved. The findings are contrary to repeated government assurances that existing natural gas well regulations are sufficient to safeguard the environment and public health. The state is considering allowing for gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale watershed, the source of drinking water for 15 million people, including nine million New Yorkers. [includes rush transcript]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

national experimental subject recruitment registry | Nationwide Registry to "Match" Volunteers with Researchers. Individuals who want to participate in research studies now can connect online with researchers nationwide through the first disease-neutral, volunteer recruitment registry. is a not-for-profit secure Web site, designed to provide people who are interested in participating in research the opportunity to be matched with studies that may be the right fit for them.

ResearchMatch offers an easy-to-use, free and safe way for volunteers to connect with thousands of researchers who are conducting research on a wide range of diseases.

The site is a collaborative effort of the national network of medical research institutions affiliated with the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs). The CTSA program, which is led by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is focused on enhancing local and national efforts to enhance the translation of laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients.

"Participant recruitment continues to be a significant barrier to the completion of research studies nationwide — recent NIH data indicates that just 4 percent of the U.S. population has participated in clinical trials," said NCRR Director Barbara Alving, M.D. "ResearchMatch is a tool that can improve the connection and communication between potential participants and researchers providing opportunities for the public to contribute to advancing new treatments."

The convenient and user-friendly registry employs a familiar research matching model that is complementary to One key difference is that ResearchMatch places the burden of connecting the right volunteers with the right study on the researchers, whereas asks volunteers to identify the trials that could work for them.

"ResearchMatch offers a convenient solution to the complex, competitive and often costly participant recruitment system," said Gordon Bernard, M.D., principal investigator of the Vanderbilt CTSA, which hosts the national registry. "NIH data indicates that 85 percent of trials don’t finish on time due to low patient participation, and 30 percent of trial sites fail to enroll even a single patient. We aim to help combat these challenges with ResearchMatch."

usda human pandemic information | Every year in the United States, on average: 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu

A human pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza (flu) virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity and for which there is no vaccine. The disease spreads easily person-to-person, causes serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in very short time.

In a human pandemic, employee safety and health and business continuity are USDA's primary concerns.

It is difficult to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur or how severe it will be.

h1n1 genetics: nature, accident, or genocide?

fluscam | The following historic and urgent “debate” between two world leading “experts”, Recombinomics pioneer Dr. Henry Niman, and Medical Genocide Investigator, Dr. Leonard Horowitz, occurred Oct. 1-5, 2009 on the Rhiza Labs FluTracker Forum. Dr. Niman argued the 2009 H1N1 pandemic occurred “naturally.” Dr. Horowitz explains this is “wishful thinking.” Read this and draw your own conclusions. . . .

horowitz on the history of bioterrorism

is china an aggressive "foe" in cyberspace?

Washington Post | One day in late summer 2008, FBI and Secret Service agents flew to Chicago to inform Barack Obama's campaign team that its computer system had been hacked. "You've got a problem. Somebody's trying to get inside your systems," an FBI agent told the team, according to a source familiar with the incident.

The McCain campaign was hit with a similar attack.

The trail in both cases led to computers in China, said several sources inside and outside government with knowledge of the incidents. In the McCain case, Chinese officials later approached staff members about information that had appeared only in restricted e-mails, according to a person close to the campaign.

American presidential campaigns are not the only targets. China is significantly boosting its capabilities in cyberspace as a way to gather intelligence and, in the event of war, hit the U.S. government in a weak spot, U.S. officials and experts say. Outgunned and outspent in terms of traditional military hardware, China apparently hopes that by concentrating on holes in the U.S. security architecture -- its communications and spy satellites and its vast computer networks -- it will collect intelligence that could help it counter the imbalance.

President Obama, who is scheduled to visit China next week, has vowed to improve ties with the Asian giant, especially its military. But according to current and former U.S. officials, China's aggressive hacking has sowed doubts about its intentions.

"This is the way they plan to thwart U.S. supremacy in any potential conflict we get into with them," said Robert K. Knake, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow. "They believe they can deter us through cyber warfare."

Chinese officials deny that and dismiss American concern as a Cold War relic.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

189 deaths reported in ukraine - belarus to 223K cases

  • 1,122,188 Influenza/ARI
  • 57,286 Hospitalized
  • 189 Deaths
The above numbers are from the latest report from Ukraine. Numbers in all categories continue to rise, The two locations with the biggest increases were Kiev (8062 to 76,285) and Kiev Oblast (6,522 to 56,688). These increases indicate the H1N1 is spreading east and the high numbers in the Kiev region may be associated with the jump of cases in the Gomel region in Belarus, with 48,754 cases in influenza/ARI (see map). Belarus also reported 8 fatal pneumonia cases fro the region, and larger numbers of fatalities had been reported earlier for Minsk. For the entire country, Belarus reported 223,349 cases, further supporting the H1N1 spread in the region.

Although the number of fatalities in Belarus is increasing, and may rival Ukraine, samples were sent to Mill Hill from Ukraine at the beginning of the month, and an announcement of sequencing data has been delayed.

The steady increases of H1N1 cases and hemorrhagic pneumonia deaths in Ukraine, as well as similar numbers reported for Belarus, increase concerns about the sequencing delays.

The sequences should be made public immediately.

anatomy of a bogus subpoena

EFF | How the Government Secretly Demanded the IP Address of Every Visitor to Political News Site

1. Introduction: Lifting the Fog of Secrecy Surrounding Law Enforcement Surveillance

Secrecy surrounds law enforcement's communications surveillance practices like a dense fog. Particularly shrouded in secrecy are government demands issued under 18 U.S.C. § 2703 of the Stored Communications Act or "SCA" that seek subscriber information or other user records from communications service providers. When the government wants such data from a phone company or online service provider, it can obtain a court order under the SCA demanding the information from the provider, along with a gag order preventing the provider from disclosing the existence of the government's demand. More often, companies are simply served with subpoenas issued directly by prosecutors without any court involvement; these demands, too, are rarely made public. (For more background on how the SCA works, see this section of EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense manual.)

We at EFF, like the public at large, are often left in the dark about what the government's practices in this area look like. However, sometimes — just sometimes — the fog will clear and we'll get a worrisome picture of what the government gets up to behind closed doors. Sometimes this happens when an independent-minded judge publishes an opinion revealing the government's practices, like the judge that first revealed that the government was tracking cell phones without warrants. Other times, someone served with an SCA demand such as a National Security Letter comes to us for legal assistance.

Recently, one such recipient of an SCA demand did come to us, and we're glad she did. The story of that subpoena — to the administrator of, an independent activist news site aggregating stories from Indymedia web sites across the country — provides yet another example of how government abuses breed in secrecy. Hopefully this analysis will be helpful to other online service providers who receive such bogus requests masquerading as valid legal process. Fist tap Arnach.

key oil figures distorted by u.s. pressure

Guardian | The world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates admit, according to a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency who claims it has been deliberately underplaying a looming shortage for fear of triggering panic buying.

The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.

The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.

dr. henry niman (recombinomics) on the ukraine outbreak

KBOO | Theresa Mitchell interviews Dr. Henry Niman, Ph.D., internationally known viral researcher, on the progress of Swine Flu and the outbreak in Ukraine. Media hoopla or not, it's a dangerous pandemic and is about to grow more so; the numbers from the Ukraine have been spun.
Length: 27:20 minutes (25.03 MB)
Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

ukraine h1n1 registers on MSM radar

They had not heard of the H1N1 virus even a week ago. But they are pretty sure they understand it now.

"You catch it from imported food and clothing that isn't clean," said Mr. Barsadanyan, an 18-year-old first-year medical student who wears his close-cropped hair shaved into stripes along the sides.

He is not worried because he heard that the Ministry of Health has taken a somewhat unusual step. "They sprayed the city," he explained, "with the necessary products."
Globe-and-Mail | Ukraine has been awash with such misinformation about H1N1 for the last week, since Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko set off a public panic by shutting schools, banning public gatherings and warning that whole cities might have to be quarantined to prevent the spread of the disease. They were the most draconian measures taken by any country since the flu first appeared in Mexico last spring.

But it is still far from clear whether Ukraine is in the grips of a runaway H1N1 epidemic, as some officials have suggested, or whether the precautions were a confused overreaction to a predictable winter outbreak of seasonal flu.

The numbers coming from different government agencies and state media have been wildly contradictory.

Depending on the source, the number of reported cases of flu and respiratory illness last month ranged from under 7,000 all the way up to half a million, with no indication of how many people normally fall ill or die from the flu in the winter in this country of 40 million people.

The Ministry of Health has also issued conflicting information on the number of flu cases, flu-related deaths and suspected deaths due to the H1N1 virus. At one point, according to a state news agency report, a ministry official said flu deaths were down 10 per cent over last year.

An initial assessment from the World Health Organization - which sent a team of medical experts to Ukraine after a desperate plea for emergency aid from the country's President - was that the H1N1 virus could be confirmed as the cause of one of some 80 reported deaths from flu in the past two weeks.

The inconsistencies only increased public uncertainty about what was actually happening, and many Ukrainians appeared to have decided to prepare for the worst.

timeline on WHO silence on ukraine H1N1 sequences..,

Recombinomics | "There are a lot of unknowns," he said. The crew of experts will collect samples from patients and send them to the WHO's influenza collaborating center in London for diagnosis. The WHO may have more information on Nov. 4, Hartl said.

The above comments were made on Oct 30. The WHO update of the next day indicated that H1N1 had already been confirmed in two labs in Kyviv and samples were being sent to a WHO collaborating center, Mill Hill. Since H1N1 had already been lab confirmed twice, and multiple reports of symptoms of fatal cases left little doubt that the patients had died from hemorrhagic pneumonia, the main unknown question was the sequence of the H1N1. Thus, it seemed likely that comments on sequences would be made on Nov 4.

In the Nov 3 update, WHO acknowledged that the samples had been received in Mill Hill and it seemed that data would soon be announced, baring sample degradation. When Mill Hill announce confirmation of H1N1 in 15 samples it seemed likely that sequence results would soon follow.

There was no announcement on Nov 4, but there was a press conference on Nov 5, indicating that analysis was still ongoing, but there were no "big mutations" and the virus was antiviral sensitive. Thus, at least the initial sequencing of all eight gene segments had been completed and an initial analysis had already been made.

If there were no obvious changes, it seems that an announcement would have been made last week. The number of cases was approaching 1 million (see map), and the number of fatalities had already exceeded 100, including six health care workers. The infections were spreading east toward Kyviv and neighboring countries had an excessive number of cases, and deaths were mounting in Belarus.

This morning a clinical description of 90 fatal cases again supported hemorrhagic pneumonia, which once again raised concern about genetic changes.

However, there has only been silence on the sequences and they have not been made public. These delays suggest significant changes have been found, and these changes are undergoing further analysis, such as receptor binding testing.

An update on the sequences is long overdue.

total lung destruction...,

Recombinomics | The symptoms are observed at different stages of disease - a fever with a temperature over 38 C, cough, respiratory disorders. When cough was characterized by negligible allocation phlegm or dry unproductive cough with blotches of blood. All the patients come to hospital on average by 3-7 days of onset, were in serious condition. Period of time from onset to death averaged from 4 to 7 days. In all patients during a hospital for signs of respiratory insufficiency of various degrees, which quickly rose and manifested accelerated respiration rate, shortness of breath and effectiveness of independent breathing. X-ray studies were performed on 1-2 day hospitalization. Most patients experienced a double-headed particles of lower lung lesion, followed by a trend towards total destruction.

The above translation is from an announcement today from the Ukraine Ministry of Health describe 90 fatalities (see map) associated with community acquired pneumonia. The full report included the age distribution, which exactly match distribution reported previously by other countries for swine H1N1. 52/90 fatalities were in the age group of 19-40, followed by 26/90 in the 41-55 age group.

Coughing up blood followed the "total destruction" of lungs again gives a clinical picture of hemorrhagic pneumonia caused by H1N1 swine flu.

However, although the 90 recent fatalities described above are clearly due to H1N1, many reports continue to cite a low number of H1N1 lab confirmed cases, which is more reflective of limited testing than actual cases.

Earlier reports cited pneumonia deaths not associated with the influenza/ARI category and the basis for the classification of approximately half of such deaths into a separate category remains unclear.

The above description of these fatalities increase the need for the immediate release of sequences from H1N1 isolated from the lungs of these fatal cases.

Samples were sent to Mill Hill a week ago and only a minimal description (no "large" changes and no anti-viral resistance) of the sequence data. As the number of reports of sequences with receptor binding domain changes in isolates from lungs of fatal H1N1 cases increase, the need for full and rapid disclosure of sequences from large outbreaks such as the one in Ukraine become a major health care imperative.

teenaged wasteland...,

CNN | Americans of all ages are being hurt by the weak job market, but the nation's teens are in a particularly bad spot.

The unemployment rate for teenagers in the labor force soared to 27.6% in October, up 1.8 percentage points from the month before and hitting a third straight record high, the Labor Department said Friday.

That compares with a 10.2% jobless rate for the nation at large.

"What we're seeing is a very tough market for everyone, but teens in particular who are looking for work just can't seem to find it," said Jim Borbely, an economist at Labor Department.

The surge in unemployment among 16 to 19 year-olds comes as the weak economy has forced a growing number of adults to compete for jobs that teens normally fill in industries such as retail and food service.

That's a big problem for teens, who are generally seen as less qualified than adults because they have fewer years of work experience.

At the same time, older workers with families and mortgages typically elicit more sympathy from employers than teens, who are seen as mostly interested in pocket money.

Given the challenges facing teens in the workforce, many have chosen to give up looking for a job altogether.


Automatic Earth | US unemployment is over 10%. 10.2% to be exact. Then again, looking at how these numbers are arrived at, how exact is exact? The 10.2% stat is just the U3 count, which is very favorable for any incumbent government. It's also very deceptive, since it ignores many people who are not working even if they would like to.

A reminder:

* U3 consists of "Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force."

* U6 consists of
  • U3
  • + "Discouraged workers", or those who have stopped looking for work because current economic conditions make them believe that no work is available for them.
  • + Other "marginally attached workers", or "loosely attached workers", or those who "would like" and are able to work, but have not looked for work recently.
  • + Part time workers who want to work full time, but can't due to economic reasons.
If you add all those not counted in U3 but added in U6, US unemployment has hit 17.5%. Now we're talking crisis territory. And I don't mean economic crisis, but societal crisis. You can't successfully run an economic system and society like the US has, and leave out more than 1 out of every 6 people willing and able to work.

Monday, November 09, 2009

u.s. foreclosure activity

why more people don't "walk away" from their mortgages

Sacbee | A fellow business writer here at the paper received this report today from a University of Arizona associate law professor he's interviewed in the past. It a full-scale look at why people stay in their homes even when they are way underwater - when the sensible business decision might be to walk away.

I haven't yet read most of it. But I think it's very relevant here in Sacramento.

The 54-page study by Professor Brent T. White, titled, "Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame, Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis" is at this link.

Here is the summary:

"Despite reports that homeowners are increasingly "walking away" from their mortgages, most homeowners continue to make their payments even when they are significantly underwater.

This article suggests that most homeowners choose not to strategically default as a result of two emotional forces: 1) the desire to avoid the shame and guilt of foreclosure; and 2) exaggerated anxiety over foreclosure's perceived consequences.

Moreover, these emotional constraints are actively cultivated by the government and other social control agents in order to encourage homeowners to follow social and moral norms related to the honoring of financial obligations - and to ignore market and legal norms under which strategic default might be both viable and the wisest financial decision.

Norms governing homeowner behavior stand in sharp contrast to norms governing lenders, who seek to maximize profits or minimize losses irrespective of concerns of morality or social responsibility. This norm asymmetry leads to distributional inequalities in which individual homeowners shoulder a disproportionate burden from the housing collapse."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

international bioterrorism tabletop exercise

Interpol | In September 2009, senior law enforcement officials, health care professionals and experts from international organizations joined their forces to confront a chilling crisis – the plague had just been unleashed on their countries by unknown evildoers.

A fictional scenario with a serious aim

Fortunately, this terrifying situation was a scenario under control, and the civilian authorities were all participants in a Tabletop Exercise on Preventing Bioterrorism hosted by INTERPOL. This exercise simulated a global bioterrorism attack and its aftermath. Participants in the Black Death scenario were faced with a fictional, intentional plague attack involving countries from their region, with the exercise designed to assist them in identifying critical co-operation and co-ordination issues which could hinder a quick and successful response to such an attack in real life.

The idea behind this exercise, the third in a series organized by INTERPOL, has been described by the Organization's Secretary General, Ronald K. Noble, as “helping focus our joint understanding of the role and responsibility of each of us – police, health care professionals, experts – in response to a bioterrorism incident, as well as identifying possible gaps or redundancies so that we can draw lessons from them.”

Inter-agency co-operation in Central and Eastern Europe

Organized by the INTERPOL Bioterrorism Unit, this third edition of the event took place from 29-30 September in Warsaw, Poland. Participants in the workshop numbered 27 from six Central and Eastern European countries (Belarus, Czech Republic, Finland, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine), as well as 15 participants from international organizations such as Europol, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Control, the European Commission (Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs and Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

u.s. to donate 1/10th of its H1N1 vaccine to ukraine

Kyiv Post | "In an effort to stop the global spread of pandemic 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, the United States is planning to donate 10 percent of US domestic H1N1 vaccine supply, as it becomes available, to a WHO-led H1N1 vaccine initiative. The US donation to WHO, equivalent to 25 million doses of vaccine, would be valued commercially at approximately $10 million," the embassy said in a statement.

As part of the first phase of this initiative, Ukraine is scheduled to receive 930, 000 doses of H1N1 vaccine in early December, the embassy said.

"Planning to complement this donation with a broad range of interventions to support the safe delivery and deployment of the vaccines, the US government will be working closely with the government of Ukraine in the days ahead to identify needs and agree on a package of immunization-related commodity and technical support that can be implemented rapidly to support H1N1 immunization," the statement reads.

Besides, the US government is prepared to make available immunization ancillary materials such as syringes, needles, and vaccine safety disposal boxes, to provide technical support for immunization planning as well as for logistics and assistance to transport the vaccine, to train vaccinators and other professionals, and to prepare communications materials in support of the immunization campaign.

yushchenko team unveils sinister plans for declaring state of emergency

Zik | Speaking live on the popular 5th TV Kanal Nov. 6, the secretary of the national security and defense council, NSDC, Rayisa Bohatyryova, said the number of flue victims is so large it may be necessary to declare the state of emergence to effectively deal with the outbreak. [According to the health ministry, as of Nov. 5, there were 13 cases of the swine flue by a London lab. The number of Ukrainian who died from all kinds of flue and cold stands at about 100, or fewer than in 2008 – Ed.].

The constitution gives enough legal ground for Yushchenko to declare the emergency, Bohatyryova claimed.

As the country’s politicians cannot join their forced to combat the flue epidemic, the state of emergency may help to do this, Bohatyryova continued. All the causes of why Ukraine found itself amid the flue hurricane must be investigated and perpetrators be brought to account. But the punishment can come later. Not it is important to help the population and not to sow panic, the official summed up.

Another Yushchenko insider, his deputy chief of staff Ihor Popov believes the uncontrolled swine flue epidemic is a good enough reason for putting off the presidential election till May 30, Popov writes in his article “Elections lead to swine scenario” published by the Ukrayinska Pravda.

The flue outbreak has radically changed the course of presidential campaigning in Ukraine. It affected campaign priorities, played havoc with campaign plans, leading candidates’ teams to revise spin tactics to hype their candidates, Popov said.

In his opinion, the outbreak in Ukraine was quite timely, as without all the hubbub and rhetoric about the flue the ratings of presidential candidates would not have changed even by Feb. 7. It is the full-sized epidemic, when all Ukrainians are involved with their emotions and panic, that can affect the voting results, the official claimed.

Popov ruled out the purposeful nature of the outbreak. “Experts proved that the epidemic is here and it will take more than a week to deal with it. Unfortunately, we missed the start of the epidemic, as we did the financial crisis,” Popov noted.

Popov then listed benefits from the state of emergency, saying it will allow to control the distribution of drugs with the help of interior troops, enforce the ban on mass rallies, ensure implementation of decisions by the NSDC and minimize declarations by politicians regarding the flue handling. Also, the vertical chain of staffs set up as a result of declaring the state of emergency will curb red-tape and competition of ministries.

withheld ukraine sequences raise pandemic concerns

Recombinomics | Right now we know that many clinical specimens and viruses have been sent to one of the WHO collaborating centres for further study. We don't know the results of those studies, and it will probably take a couple of days for the full analysis of those viruses to be available. But in the meantime, what we do not have is any evidence of viruses there or anywhere else as showing any big mutations. I raise this point because I have seen in some media reports that there are reports that WHO or other groups are saying that there are mutations and I want to point out that these are rumours and factually, untrue.

The above comments from Keiji Kukuda offer some general comments on the Ukrainian H1N1 sequences at Mill Hill in London. He specifically says WHO doesn't see any "big" mutations in the samples being sequenced, which would refer to reassortment or Tamiflu resistance. However, the changes seen in Ukraine do not require "big" mutations. Small mutations, such as SNP can have profound effects for a virus like pandemic H1N1.

That virus normally circulates in swine, and has recently jumped to humans. It already has many characteristics with the 1918 pandemic strain. Both are swine H1N1 that jumped to humans. Such species jumpers can increase efficiencies with small changes. One good example is position 627 in the PB2 gene. That position comes in two forms. When there is glutamic acid (E) at that position, the PB2 enzyme copies the viral genetic material most efficiently at 41 C, the body temperature of a bird. However, if that position has a lysine (K), the enzyme is most active at 33 C, the temperature of a human nose in the winter. The swine H1N1 has an E, which may be why it goes well in lung, which is 37 C and closer to the optimal replication temperature of 41C. However, a single change that produced the most efficient replication at 37C would lead to even higher levels in the lungs, which could lead to frequent cytokine storms, like those in 1918, instead of the less frequent level seen in Ukraine.

However, the rapid spread of H1N1 in Ukraine (see map), coupled with the high frequency of hemorrhagic pneumonia raise concerns that a small change is leading to a more virulent virus. Similarly, the rapid spread of the virus could also be affected by a small change in another gene, such as HA, which controls entry of the virus to cells and influences tissue tropism.

Mill Hill has acknowledged that they have at least 15 H1N1 positive samples from Ukraine, which would identify a Ukranian specific change. The delay in the announcement of sequence results raises concerns that such changes have been detected, and such changes are undergoing further analysis.

The number of cases in Ukraine continues to expand. The number of patients with H1N1 symptoms is now approaching 1 million. Cases have been increasing at almost 200,000 per day, so it is likely that tomorrow's report will have over 1 million cases. This rapid spread increases concern that the 15 sequences at Mill Hill contain one or more of these small changes, which has led to a delay in the announcement of sequence results.

More detail on the sequences at Mill Hill is overdue. The rapid spread of H1N1 in Ukraine demands rapid sequence results. Continued delay will only increase concerns.

national h1n1 epidemic declared in bulgaria

Recombinomics | The Health Ministry made the decision based on the grounds that the number of people with swine flu has reached 210 per 10 000.

Thus, all schools in Bulgaria will be in a swine flu break all of next week (9-14 November). The Health Ministry recommends limiting the number and scope of public events.

The above comments describe the declaration of a national swine flu epidemic in Bulgaria. Earlier this week an epidemic level of H1N1 had been reported in a select number of Oblasts and municipalities (see map). However, this level was subsequently reported for the entire country, so an epidemic was declared.

Although the number of fatalities reported this far are markedly below the levels reported for Ukraine, the rapid spread of H1N1 in Bulgaria raises concerns that there will be a dramatic increases in cases and deaths in the area. Spikes in deaths have already been reported in Turkey and Italy, although none have approached the numbers reported in Ukraine, where influenza/ARI cases are approaching 1 million, and will likely surpass that number in the next report.

The explosion of cases in Ukraine raise concerns that the H1N1 virus has subtly changed, with associated increase in cases and deaths.

Sequence data on these recent fatalities in Bulgaria and neighboring countries would be useful.

reported cases in ukraine double in two days

Recombinomics | Update: The numbers from the latest update from Ukraine (see map) continue to alarm. More than half of the Oblasts and cities listed exceed the epidemic threshold, including Kiev and Kiev Oblast, raising concerns that the increase in case numbers will accelerate. Moreover, hospitalization of 39,603 raises concerns that the number of deaths will also accelerate, since 11% of hospitalized cases in California died.

478,456 Influenza/ARI

24,003 Hospitalized

60 Ventilators

81 Deaths

The above numbers are from the latest update from Ukraine. The number of infected patients has almost doubled to just under ½ million, compared to the report two days ago (see map). Hospitalized patients also have spiked higher, to 24K from 15K. ICU cases are not listed, but 60 on ventilators are. However, most (37) of those on ventilators are Chernivisti Oblast, but Lviv, which has the most fatalities and cases, has none, suggesting the data is incomplete or there are significant shortages of ventilators. The number of dead has risen to 81, but media reports describe additional fatalities, include those in the Kiev Oblast.

The explosion of cases again raises concerns that the number of fatalities is significantly higher than the 81 listed. Media reports have described an equal number of pneumonia fatalities which were not considered flu related. The basis of these exclusions remains unclear. Similarly, anecdotal reports suggest the number of fatalities is markedly higher than the 81 in the table.

The rapid rise in reported infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in the past few days raise concerns that the virus is transmitting very efficiently. Spikes in cases have been reported throughout the northern hemisphere, but the spike in fatalities and the frequency in hemorrhagic cases in Ukraine have raised concerns.

Earlier media reports suggest that an update by WHO might be issued today and include preliminary analysis of samples sent to Mill Hill in London.

Daily updates on the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine, including sequence analysis, would be useful.

sista dr. teresa forcades drops knowledge on the flu

unidentified flue outbreak in western ukraine

Zik | Western Ukraine was hit by a severe epidemic of unidentified influenza, tentatively diagnosed by doctors as viral pneumonia. The number of dead has climbed dramatically. Doctors advise Western Ukrainians to stay at home and use preventive medication. The first pedestrians wearing face masks have been seen on Lviv streetsTwo of the dead patients were in the 22-35 age group, with 2 others over 60. He diagnosed the disease as viral pneumonia.

“We have sent the analyses to Kyiv. We don’t believe it’s the swine flue. Neither do we know what kind of pneumonia it is,
Borysevych stressed. Viral tests can last from one to two weeks. They are complicated and not done in Lviv. The course of the disease was very quick. The symptoms included very high temperature and short-wind cough.

The disease started as an ordinary chill with headache and temperature. The symptoms lasted for a week before patient condition began to aggravate.

Zakarpattya Oblast
A man has died from the swine flue in Volovets. He has recently returned from Saint Petersburg, Russia, suffering from a cold. He was rushed to the hospital when pneumonia symptoms were found by doctors. Another local who came from Moscow became sick and went to see his doctor in time. Now he is recovering safely.

Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast
All the six dead young people had symptoms of severe hemmorhagic pneumonia. The disease starts slowly, with temperature rising to 37.2 – 37.3 degrees, slight cough and pain in joints. Nasal catarrh developed at the end of the second or third day. Autopsy revealed that the lungs were soaked with blood, the oblast chief specialist said.

Chernivtsi Oblast
The number of persons with common flue in Chernivtsi has grown from 2,623 to 4,053. According to the local medical authorities, the city has been hit by an unknown type of the flue. The tests to identify the virus will be ready only in 2 weeks, doctors say.

nanoparticles hazardous to dna

The Scientist | Nanoparticles can damage DNA even in cells that are not directly exposed to them, according to an in vitro study published online today (November 5) in Nature Nanotechnology -- raising further questions about the safety of nanomaterials used in clinical therapies.

"DNA damage due to nanoparticles has been described for many types of nanoparticles, but that's done in a primary or direct sense," said Andre Nel, chief of NanoMedicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. "Indirect DNA damage to hazardous nanoparticles is not something that I have seen described before."

Scientists are using nanotechnology to develop delivery systems for drugs and imaging agents, but some studies have suggested these particles may be toxic. Researchers have linked inhalation of nanoparticles or nanotubes to cardoirespiratory disease, for example. Additionally, nanoparticle debris from implants, such as cobalt-chromium (CoCr) alloy particles which can be released from metal-on-metal orthopedic joint replacements, are known to damage human cells in culture.Justify Full

Friday, November 06, 2009

clusters of hemorrhagic H1N1 pneumonia in ukraine

Recombinomics | All the six dead young people had symptoms of severe hemmorhagic pneumonia. The disease starts slowly, with temperature rising to 37.2 - 37.3 degrees, slight cough and pain in joints. Nasal catarrh developed at the end of the second or third day. Autopsy revealed that the lungs were soaked with blood, the oblast chief specialist said.

The above comments are from an early story describing cases in Ukraine. The clustering of hemorrhagic cases raised concerns. The concern was increased by anecdotal reports citing a high frequency of such cases in Lviv (see map). The recent WHO announcement that they were initially focusing of severe acute respiratory illness in Lviv also increased concerns.

Hemorrhagic pneumonia was also observed in the 1918 pandemic and was thought to be linked to cytokine storm. Consequently, those with robust immune systems (previously health young adults) disproportionately died, which has also been seen in the current outbreak (Mexico, US, and worldwide). However, the cases in Ukraine appear to be clustered, raising concerns that the virus has changed.

However, the change may be minor, since the current H1N1 has produced the above symptoms in earlier cases. More severe cases may be linked to a higher viral load, which could be linked to minor genetic changes, or simply due to concentration of virus in schools. In the US the spread of the virus has been linked to school openings, which lead to an explosion of cases and subsequent student deaths. However, now there are increases in fatalities in teachers and administrators, increasing concerns worldwide.

In Ukraine, weather changes and heating issues may have led to a surge in cases, and increased concentrations of virus could have produced conditions favoring high viral loads and increased cytokine storms.

the strange case of joseph moshe

HuffPo | A man suspected of making threats against the White House was pulled from his car Thursday after an hours-long standoff in the parking lot of the Federal Building in West Los Angeles.

The man had refused to leave his red Volkswagen Beetle and withstood four rounds of chemical agents tossed inside the car after police broke a rear window. About an hour later, officers shot out the drivers window with a bean bag gun and pulled him out.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan identified the suspect as Joseph Moshe, 56, of Los Angeles. Moshe is suspected of calling a police dispatch number Wednesday and making threatening statements about the White House, Donovan said.

(but that's not the interesting part)

The interesting part is in the comments below the article about this arrest;
Project Camelot and Bill Deagle reported another side of this story involving Joseph Moshe, a biological­-scientist with a dual citizenship in Israel and mussad traning in biological warfare, hence his ability to withstand the tear gas attack. Moshe phoned Dr. Tru Ott's radio show and said that he had evidence that the vaccine company Baxter was making a bioweapon that would cause a plague when the vaccine was released.

The day after Moshe phoned the radio show, a swat team surrounded his Volkswagen Beetle near the Federal building near the Israeli consulate which was apparently Moshes destination. The mainstream media spun a story that Moshe had threatened the White House with a bomb, that there were outstanding warrants against him and that he was depressed. No mention of that Moshe was a biological­-scientist or the information he provided on Dr. True Otts radio show about the vaccine company Baxter.

NBC LA reported on Aug 17 that Moshe was in jail but Dr. Deagle says that Moshe has been sent to Israel.

The would-be bomber, Joseph Moshe, called into the Dr True Ott Show on Republic Broadcasting and said he was a microbiologist who wanted to hand over evidence to a States Attorney regarding tainted H1N1 vaccines being produced by Baxter pharmaceutical. He claimed that that Baxter’s lab in the Ukraine was in fact preparing a bioweapon disguised as a vaccine. He maintained that the vaccine contained both adjuvants designed to weaken the immune system, and replicated RNA from the virus responsible for the 1918 global pandemic. That’s it. He made no threat against Obama, nor said anything about bombs or any attack. The following day he was hauled out of his red VW beetle by a SWAT team and arrested. He was immediately extradited to Israel, where he has dual-citizenship, and hasn’t been heard from since. All this talk portraying him as being a right-wing nutcase is disinformation designed to keep his disturbing comments from alarming the public.
Read the extended commentary that accompanies this youtube video of the arrest of Moshe.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

policy and technology - conflict or synergy?

UCTV | A highlight of this year's Energy Summit was the Town-Hall Meeting where audience members engaged in a dialogue with energy experts Randy Komisar, Arun Majumdar and Michael McQuade who touched mainly on consumer behavior, energy investment strategies, future energy outlook, and broadly on social responsibility of energy efficiency.

technology, politics, and the economics of reduced energy consumption

UCTV | Lynn Scarlett, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior, argues that investing in nature's capital is a smart twenty-first century energy policy. Arun Majumdar, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, explores how regulation and technology can work together to improve energy consumption. He also looks at some of the new technologies that may become large-scale solutions.

science for energy efficient production and use

UCTV | Raymond Orbach, former Under Secretary for Science, United States Department of Energy, argues that the three major energy challenges in the US are energy security, environmental sustainability, and economic impact and that a unique opportunity has emerged to change the world using a new ability to alter materials at the atomic scale like never before possible.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


in the muck

The Scientist | Duckweed first appeared in satellite images of Venezuela in 2004 as a mysterious swirl of green on the surface of Lake Marcaibo, doubling in size with each passing day. Marcaibo is one of South America’s largest bodies of water, but with brackish water and few nutrients, it had never harbored this rapid-growing aquatic plant. Local scientists speculated that heavy rains washed sewage and nutrients into the lake along with duckweed colonies from neighboring ponds. By June, they estimated that the world’s smallest flowering plant covered 18 percent of the lake’s surface before it began receding.

The invasion could have been an ecological disaster, but for Rutgers geneticist Randall Kerstetter, it was a sign of hope. In the taxonomic showdown over the ideal organism for producing biofuel, Kerstetter is putting his mental energy into duckweed. “Duckweed is the fastest growing plant,” he says. “If you’re interested in biofuels, you’re interested in biomass.”

tiny tubers

The Scientist | When Ros Gleadow opened the airlock to the greenhouse at The Australian National University, she stepped into the atmosphere of the future. The air was thick with carbon dioxide—700 parts per million, to be precise—which matches the concentration predicted 90 years from now. While evaluating the responses of crops to the altered atmosphere in the summer of 2008, she found that the cotton, sorghum, soybean and cassava plants she’d planted 9 months earlier grew higher, a little woodier, and with more stems and smaller leaves than normal—all of which she’d expected. But when she dug the cassavas out of their pots, the tubers, which usually grow as large as yams, looked like stunted fingers.

Her cassavas of the future had produced 80 percent less food. “It came completely unexpectedly because plants normally grow bigger under higher CO2,” says Gleadow, a plant physiologist at Monash University in Melbourne. Her immediate thought went to the millions of people living in the tropics, where cassava is the third largest source of dietary carbohydrates. “If the yield decreases, there’s going to be a lot of hungry people.”

That wasn’t the only problem. The cassava plants themselves had become poisonous. Like 60 percent of all our staple crops, cassava produces chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides to deter grazing animals, which, when chewed, release cyanide gas. In small quantities, the cyanide tastes like bitter cherries, enough to ward off animals. But the high-CO2 cassavas produced three times the cyanide of today’s plant. (The poison largely shows up in the leaves, which most people avoid, although some in African countries eat the leaves as a protein supplement.) Gleadow hypothesizes that her cassavas may have poisoned themselves, meaning the extra cyanide shrank the tubers (Plant Biology, published online August 6, 2009).

Until recently, modelers saw CO2’s effect on plant life as the silver lining of climate change. They thought increases in the gas would act as fertilizer, making crops grow bigger and more lush. After all, CO2 is one of the main components of photosynthesis. In the late 1980s, experimenters projected as much as 30 percent increases by 2050 in yield for staples like wheat and soy. But recent experiments under open-air conditions showed half that rate of growth (Science, 312: 1918–21, 2006).

buffett buys bnsf...,

Washington Post | The biggest name in investing is making what he calls an "all-in wager" on the U.S. economy - $34 billion to own a railroad that hauls everything from corn to cars across the country.

The acquisition of Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the nation's second-largest railroad, would be the biggest ever for Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment company.

It's a natural fit for the Oracle of Omaha, a city with a special place in railroad history. It was the starting point for the westward push of the transcontinental railroad. Today, Omaha is the headquarters of Union Pacific, and BNSF trains rumble through every day.

In a statement, Buffett, whose investing decisions are carefully scrutinized by the world of finance, voiced confidence in the railroad industry.

"Most important of all, however, it's an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States. I love these bets," he said Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

inside lsd - tonight

National Geographic | LSDs inventor Albert Hofmann called it "medicine for the soul." The Beatles wrote songs about it. Secret military mind control experiments exploited its hallucinogenic powers. Outlawed in 1966, LSD became a street drug and developed a reputation as the dangerous toy of the counterculture, capable of inspiring either moments of genius, or a descent into madness. Now science is taking a fresh look at LSD, including the first human trials in over 35 years. Using enhanced brain imaging, non-hallucinogenic versions of the drug and information from an underground network of test subjects who suffer from an agonizing condition for which there is no cure, researchers are finding that this "trippy" drug could become the pharmaceutical of the future. Can it enhance our brain power, expand our creativity and cure disease? To find out, Explorer puts LSD under the microscope.

foxes and chicken coops

HuffPo | There have been a few financial insiders who've raised an eyebrow over Storch's hire. Zero Hedge pointed to a big flaw in Storch's background " least the SEC could have hired someone with actual market/broker experience. Based on his record, Mr. Storch is not even a licensed (Series 7/63) broker."

The Atlantic points to some real concerns about his level of experience: "I'm not sure what's scarier, that this guy worked at an investment bank that many believe has questionable ethics and too cozy a Washington connection, or that he's just 29. His 'great deal of background' must be those seven long years since college ended."

For those who've lamented the various links between Goldman Sachs and the financial regulatory system, this certainly isn't good news.

Bloomberg reports that the Securities Exchange Commission has named Adam Storch, a former Goldman exec, as its enforcement division's first chief operating officer. Storch is actually just 29 years old and previously worked in Goldman's business intelligence unit.

Here's Bloomberg:
"The COO, who started Oct. 13, has "a great deal of background" in technology and managing processes and the pace of work, Robert Khuzami, head of enforcement, said yesterday in Washington. Storch, who worked since 2004 in a unit at Goldman Sachs that reviewed contracts and transactions for signs of fraud, will be charged with making the unit more efficient. Storch, reached by telephone at the SEC, declined to comment."
According to what appears to be his LinkedIn profile, Storch spent his undergraduate years at the State University Of New York At Buffalo, and earned an MBA from New York University's Stern School Of Business. Other experience -- besides Goldman -- includes working as a Senior Analyst at Deloitte and Touche.

smooth criminals

Neurological Correlates | New journal volume on “Biosocial Criminality” and two reports selected: One, because psychopaths use murder more as an instrumentality than as an expression of emotion, they don’t tell anyone about their crimes, and, moreover, therefore, are brought up on lesser offenses and get out earlier (my interpretation). Two, psychopaths can see vulnerability in others by the way they walk. Fist tap Dale.

Monday, November 02, 2009

militarism and extremism

teach your teachers well....,

NYTimes | ARNE DUNCAN, the secretary of education, recently called for sweeping changes to the way we select and train teachers. He’s right. If we really want good schools, we need to create a critical mass of great teachers. And if we want smart, passionate people to become these great educators, we have to attract them with excellent programs and train them properly in the substance and practice of teaching.

Our best universities have, paradoxically, typically looked down their noses at education, as if it were intellectually inferior. The result is that the strongest students are often in colleges that have no interest in education, while the most inspiring professors aren’t working with students who want to teach. This means that comparatively weaker students in less intellectually rigorous programs are the ones preparing to become teachers.

So the first step is to get the best colleges to throw themselves into the fray. If education was a good enough topic for Plato, John Dewey and William James, it should be good enough for 21st-century college professors.

These new teacher programs should be selective, requiring a 3.5 undergraduate grade point average and an intensive application process. But they should also be free of charge, and admission should include a stipend for the first three years of teaching in a public school.

schools are where stimulus saved jobs

NYTimes | The best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.

On Friday, the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education. Most were teachers’ jobs that states said were saved when stimulus money averted a need for layoffs.

Although the stimulus was initially sold in large part as a public works program, only about 80,000 of the jobs that were claimed Friday were in construction.

Of course, counting jobs that were saved can be a squishier proposition than counting jobs that were created. Teachers have been laid off in some areas — and budget officials say that there would have been more layoffs without the stimulus money — but it is difficult to say with certainty how many teachers would have been laid off without that money.

Indiana, for example, reported saving or creating 13,232 education jobs with its stimulus money, but Cris Johnston, the director of the government efficiency division of the state budget office, said that it was difficult to say whether the state would have actually lost those jobs without the money.

homelessness rises, redefining living conditions for schoolchildren

Chicago Tribune | Maria Maior's son is a football-playing, skateboard-riding, Xbox-loving kid whose home reveals all the trappings of domesticity: a cushy sofa, big-screen TV, a framed poster of Brian Urlacher -- one of the 12-year-old's favorite football players. On most evenings, two big dogs curl up on the carpeting.

The scene could be lifted from any suburban subdivision -- except that it's located not in a den, but in a storage unit.

The boy moved into the 10-foot-by-25-foot bunker about two months ago with his mom and her fiance, after a long run of bad luck and the loss of both of their jobs. His mother didn't not want his name used for this article. "As long as I have my parents, I'm fine with this," Maior's son said of the accommodations. "It's really not that bad."

School district officials said the boy is one of a record number of area students living in motels, campgrounds, shelters, cars and, yes, storage facilities.

According to recently released data, McHenry County's homeless enrollment increased by 125 percent from the 2007-08 school year to the 2008-09 school year -- the biggest hike in the six-county metropolitan area. Schools in Kane (85 percent), Will (61 percent), DuPage (53 percent), Lake (44 percent) and suburban Cook (24 percent) counties also posted their largest increases, reflecting the surge in foreclosures and unemployment. Early reports indicate that the trend has continued this fall, with numbers spiraling even higher

Sunday, November 01, 2009

appeasement not.....,

NYTimes | I continued to be conflicted — believing that when it comes to salutes (and one or two other matters), presidents deserved to be cut some slack, but also feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing.

My ambivalence came to an end last week, when I saw a videotape of the president’s midnight trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where he had participated, very early that morning, in the “dignified transfer” of 15 Army soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed that week in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama stood ramrod straight and saluted as six soldiers carried the coffin bearing the body of Sgt. Dale Griffin of Indiana off a C-17 transport aircraft and into a waiting van. His salute, it struck me, was impeccable in every way.

warsocialism's full spectrum redux...,

Seems like it may be time to do a memory refresh on the institutional expanse and behemoth totality of what Pres. Obama and SecDef Gates are wrestling with. It took me longer than I thought it would to find instances of the Joint Vision 2020 Report and its predecessor Joint Vision 2010. Though getting a sweeping strategic interpretation of what these doctrinal realignments portend was fairly easy to do.