Egyptian Tomb Bat found to be a perfect match for MERS viral origin | Vaccine News Daily

A study recently found the Egyptian Tomb Bat to be a 100 percent genetic link to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, but research continues to find an alleged intermediary animal that transmitted the disease to humans.

via Egyptian Tomb Bat found to be a perfect match for MERS viral origin | Vaccine News Daily.

Electronic Village: 544 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States Since 2001

Today we added 76-year old Zheng Diao (St. Louis Park, MN) as the 191st taser-related death in America since 2009. [NOTE: the full list is shown below].   Mr. Diao is the 2nd nursing home senior citizen electrocuted to death by the police with taser guns over the past few weeks.

According to Amnesty International, between 2001 and 2008, 351 people in the United States died after being shocked by police Tasers. Our blog has documented another 193 taser-related deaths in the United States in 2009-2013. That means there have been 544 documented taser-related deaths in America.

via Electronic Village: 544 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States Since 2001.

Assad is not to blame for Syria chemical attacks, says Kurdish party leader | News | World | Mail & Guardian

Who knows who is telling truth? How about some facts from UN Inspectors – oops! Deja vu 2003 and 2013!

The head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) says he doubts the Syrian president would resort to using such weapons when he felt he had the upper hand in the country’s civil war.

He suggests that Wednesday’s attack, which the opposition says was carried out by government forces and killed hundreds of people, was aimed at framing Assad and provoking an international reaction. Assad has denied his forces used chemical weapons.

“The regime in Syria … has chemical weapons, but they wouldn’t use them around Damascus, 5km from the [UN] committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so,” said Muslim.

UN experts were already in Syria at the time of the incident to investigate three previous alleged chemical attacks that took place months ago.

via Assad is not to blame for Syria chemical attacks, says Kurdish party leader | News | World | Mail & Guardian.

Chemical weapons, explained | Sci-Tech | DW.DE | 26.08.2013

As reported in German publication – no irony here…

Chemical weapons come in gas or liquid form. They are produced with the express purpose of injuring or killing people. Syria is supposed to have access to several types of these weapons of mass destruction.

Sarin

German chemists including Gerhard Schrader first concocted sarin in 1938. It was originally supposed to be employed as a pesticide, to kill harmful insects. Today, sarin is considered the most treacherous of nerve poisons. Chemically similar in structure to the other nerve agents tabun and VX, sarin in its liquid form is colorless and odorless, which due to its high volatility can easily become a gas. It’s also highly fleeting, as it quickly degrades into harmless compounds.

Even tiny amounts of sarin can be deadly – a gas mask and whole-body suit can provide protection to humans, for about half an hour, as the gas is also absorbed through the eyes and skin. It causes nerve impulses to continually be transmitted, which results in nasal discharge, tears to flow from the eyes, muscle cramps and eventually death by suffocation.

Tabun

Schrader also discovered the nerve agent tabun, in 1936. During World War II, bombs were filled with the chemical weapon – though they were never deployed. In its liquid form, tabun smells somewhat fruity, like bitter almonds. The gas is absorbed through contact with the skin and by inhaling. Its effects and symptoms are similar to that of sarin.

VX

Like sarin, VX was originally developed as a pesticide. But the British chemists who discovered it quickly realized that it was far too dangerous for agricultural use. This deadliness, however, assured its future as a chemical weapon.

VX has a similar toxic effect to sarin and tabun, while being far more stable and many times more poisonous. Due to its stability, VX sticks to the skin, clothing and other objects for a far longer period of time, and also has a longer shelf-life. VX has a somewhat oily consistency.

Mustard gas

Experiments had been conducted with mustard gas before World War I, when it was first used in battle. German chemists Wilhelm Lommel and Wilhelm Steinkopin had suggested its use as a weapon in 1916. Unlike other substances used as a chemical weapon, mustard gas is not officially classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

Mustard gas penetrates clothing to become absorbed by the skin, with effects first showing about 24 hours after contact. Mustard gas causes skin redness and blisters, and the skin eventually peels off from its victims. Inhaling the vapors of the poisonous gas can also be deadly, as it destroys lung tissue.

via Syria’s chemical weapons, explained | Sci-Tech | DW.DE | 26.08.2013.

Breeding Health: Scientists Deploy Iron-Rich Pearl Millet Against Malnutrition | International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Good on them for non-GMO approach!

Iron-rich pearl millet is being conventionally bred by ICRISAT as part of the HarvestPlus program, which seeks to develop and disseminate staple food crops rich in micronutrients to improve nutrition and public health.

via Breeding Health: Scientists Deploy Iron-Rich Pearl Millet Against Malnutrition | International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Tokyo ‘would be key player’ in any Asian conflict | South China Morning Post

Hard to say if I can take much more of this war mongering without getting sick and… but not worth the spew. Maybe it’s a strange alignment of stars that’s making all these guys argue for war, when what is needed is work, better healthcare and food!

“The crisis that Japan faces now may lead to situations in which the country may have to be involved as a main player,” Onodera told a symposium in the capital.

“Japan [now] needs to have a good defence to protect the country, which can mean equipment, new aircraft, defence systems or cyber protection.”

Onodera said Tokyo needed to be wary of the mainland’s expansion in the South and East China Sea.

via Tokyo ‘would be key player’ in any Asian conflict | South China Morning Post.

Golden Rice Still Won’t Solve the Political Problem of Hunger and Poverty | Food & Water Watch

Every industry has its go-to PR strategies, the ones they revisit periodically out of habit or when they hit a rough patch in the news. For the biotechnology industry, their old reliable is how genetically engineered crops are going to solve some pressing social problem, like curing disease or ending global hunger. Their favorite example is golden rice. And this weekend, the New York Times ran a piece that rehashed the same old debate, wondering how anyone could possibly be opposed to this miracle crop that will supposedly save poor people around the world from vitamin A deficiency.

Unfortunately, the piece missed the point that sustainable agriculture and peasant farmer advocates have been making for years: that unleashing an unproven, unwanted technology into the food systems of developing countries won’t solve the political issues that create hunger.

via Golden Rice Still Won’t Solve the Political Problem of Hunger and Poverty | Food & Water Watch.

Assad’s Cold Calculation: The West’s Reputation Is at Stake – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Same or similar arguments used to get us to attack and invade Iraq. You’d think, they just did a search and replace in material written in 2003 and using for a new war in 2013!?!

The credibility of both the United States and its Western allies is on the line: Anyone who mentions a red line but doesn’t back it up may as well forget about making any threats in the future. If that becomes its reputation, how will the United States ever rein in North Korea’s bomb-makers or Tehran’s mullahs?

This latest chemical weapons attack should finally set aside reservations about a military intervention. Poison gas is outlawed internationally — a ban that should be respected. The 1999 Kosovo mission showed that citizens of Western countries are prepared to accept a well-founded humanitarian intervention. The Americans’ invasion of Iraq triggered so much outrage precisely because the weapons of mass destruction Washington had claimed as justification were never found. No one doubts they exist in Syria.

via Assad’s Cold Calculation: The West’s Reputation Is at Stake – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Desert tortoise faces threat from its own refuge as BLM closes Vegas rescue center – The Washington Post

“It’s the lesser of two evils, but it’s still evil,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service desert tortoise recovery coordinator Roy Averill-Murray during a visit to the soon-to-be-shuttered reserve at the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley last week.

Biologists went about their work examining tortoises for signs of disease as Averill-Murray walked among the reptile pens. But the scrubby 220-acre refuge area will stop taking new animals in the coming months. Most that arrive in the fall will simply be put down, late-emerging victims of budget problems that came from the same housing bubble that put a neighborhood of McMansions at the edge of the once-remote site.

via Desert tortoise faces threat from its own refuge as BLM closes Vegas rescue center – The Washington Post.

So let’s play who is telling the truth game? UN team returns after visiting site of chemical attack | News | DW.DE | 26.08.2013

The Syrian government and the opposition fighters both blamed each other for the attack on the UN convoy. State media outlet SANA reported that the attack was the work of “terrorists,” the term commonly used to describe rebel fighters on Syrian media. The opposition, meanwhile, said Assad’s forces were behind the attack.

“The National Coalition of the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army firmly condemn the action of the Assad regime militias at the entrance to Moadamiyet al-Sham … by opening fire on a car transporting the UN team,” the political opposition and armed rebels said in a statement.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed over 1,300 people died in the attack last Wednesday, while Doctors Without Borders said 355 people had died of “neurotoxic” symptoms.

The inspection came as foreign leaders consider consequences for the government of President Assad if his regime is found responsible for the attack, which was allegedly carried out using gas-filled rockets.

Assad told Russia’s Izvestia daily newsapers that the accusations were “nonsense.”

via UN team returns after visiting site of chemical attack | News | DW.DE | 26.08.2013.