Team finds potential MERS transmission mechanism between bats and humans

“Overall, our findings suggest that MERS virus has successfully adapted to human cells for efficient infections, and HKU4 virus can potentially infect human cells,” said Li. “MERS and MERS-related bat viruses present a constant and long-term threat to human health. So far little is known about these bat viruses that are evolutionary ancestors to human viruses. We need to look at bat viruses carefully, learn how they infect cells and jump species, and then develop strategies to block their transmission to humans.”

via Team finds potential MERS transmission mechanism between bats and humans.

German Artists Say They Put White Flags on Brooklyn Bridge – NYTimes.com

the artists, Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke, say the flags had nothing to do with terrorism. They only wanted to celebrate “the beauty of public space” and the great American bridge whose German-born engineer, John Roebling, died in 1869 on July 22, the day the white flags appeared.

The artists decided recently to explain themselves, and provided slightly cryptic pictures and videos of the flags, seemingly shot at night from atop the bridge. They point to other such projects they’ve done in far-flung places that haven’t made waves, and they claimed to be somewhat taken aback by the reception here.

via German Artists Say They Put White Flags on Brooklyn Bridge – NYTimes.com.

Top ten most dangerous viruses in the world | Sci-Tech | DW.DE | 12.08.2014

1. The most dangerous virus is the Marburg virus. It is named after a small and idyllic town on the river Lahn – but that has nothing to do with the disease itself. The Marburg virus is a hemorrhagic fever virus. As with Ebola, the Marburg virus causes convulsions and bleeding of mucous membranes, skin and organs. It has a fatality rate of 90 percent.

via Top ten most dangerous viruses in the world | Sci-Tech | DW.DE | 12.08.2014.

Israel accused of using illegal weapons in Gaza war – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

“DIME weapons consist of a carbon-fiber casing filled with a homogenous mixture of an explosive material and small particles, basically a powder, of a heavy metal, for instance, a tungsten alloy. … The tungsten powder tears apart anything it hits. The impact of such weapons in general causes very severe wounds.”

The general director of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, Medhat Abbas, concurred with Dr. Fosse’s statements, saying, “There is ample evidence of Israel’s use of internationally banned DIME weapons.”

via Israel accused of using illegal weapons in Gaza war – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

SBCDC: Same Bull Crap Different Country – Kenya: New Bill Wants Gays Stoned in Public

A bill seeking to have foreign gay people stoned to death in public in Kenya is now before the National Assembly through a petition by a political party.

The draft bill has proposed that a foreigner who commits a homosexual act be stoned in public, while Kenyan nationals found guilty will be jailed for life.

The draft bill, presented alongside a petition by the party’s legal secretary, Edward Onwong’a Nyakeriga, is seeking to criminalise sodomy, with offenders earning life imprisonment.

“There is need to protect children and youth who are vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation as a result of cultural changes, uncensored information technology, parentless-child developmental settings and increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children in homosexual relationships through adoption, foster care or otherwise,” Nyakeriga says in his petition.

via allAfrica.com: Kenya: New Bill Wants Gays Stoned in Public.

WHO | Ethical considerations for use of unregistered interventions for Ebola viral disease (EVD)

{Nothing in the guidelines says patients/victims/stricken people must give informed consent to use of experimental drugs on them, or informed consent of their family – lots to be sure that medical community and drug firms get information. I smell a rat here and it seems that WHO has caved to both governments and companies. Governments have to appear to be doing something or look bad. Drug firms want to look compassionate, get a get out of jail free card for doing good deeds while still charging billions for drugs that in many cases were financed with public funds for initial research. Me cynical – well yes, Wellcome Foundation made billions from Burroughs Wellcome first HIV/AIDS drug before they made it a bit more affordable. No more drugs available now but everyone looks good and has permission to experiment on West Africans.}

Ethical criteria must guide the provision of such interventions. These include transparency about all aspects of care, informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community.

In order to understand the safety and efficacy of these interventions, the group advised that, if and when they are used to treat patients, there is a moral obligation to collect and share all data generated, including from treatments provided for ‘compassionate use’ (access to an unapproved drug outside of a clinical trial).

The group explored how the use of these interventions can be evaluated scientifically to ensure timely and accurate information about the safety and efficacy of these investigational interventions. There was unanimous agreement that there is a moral duty to also evaluate these interventions (for treatment or prevention) in the best possible clinical trials under the circumstances in order to definitively prove their safety and efficacy or provide evidence to stop their utilization. Ongoing evaluation should guide future interventions.

In addition to this advice, the panel identified areas that need more detailed analysis and discussion, such as:

ethical ways to gather data while striving to provide optimal care under the prevailing circumstances;

ethical criteria to prioritize the use of unregistered experimental therapies and vaccines;

ethical criteria for achieving fair distribution in communities and among countries, in the face of a growing number of possible new interventions, none of which is likely to meet demand in the short term.

via WHO | Ethical considerations for use of unregistered interventions for Ebola viral disease (EVD).

Annie Lennox Responds To Gaza Blog Comments – Look to the Stars

The singer and activist has been blogging about the situation in Gaza over the last few weeks, but her thoughts have caused a stir among those who read them, with many choosing sides.

“Over the last few weeks my blogs have been mainly focused on the plight of thousands of innocent civilians trapped in Gaza (many of whom are young children) who have been the victims of bombing raids,” she wrote. “Whichever way you look at the arguments for and against on either side, it is abominable that any human being should have to suffer on such a scale.

“I have read most of the comments posted on my blogs. The entire spectrum of viewpoints has been well represented… from hate filled bigotry to more rational viewpoints, all passionately expressed. Somewhat predictably it is so often “There is only one side… and if you’re not with us, you’re against us.”

“For me, this kind of perspective only ever leads to destruction as the inevitable end game. The possibility for long term sustainable peace should be the only goal. But it seems that after decades of abuse, the situation is further away from a positive solution than it ever was. How many more innocent people must be slaughtered? How many lives shattered?

“Latest developments across the entire Middle East seem to be rapidly turning the region into an even bigger tinder keg of madness and extremism. What’s the end game? I personally don’t see how this can turn out well. I don’t know how other people are feeling, but I find this all deeply disquieting.”

via Annie Lennox Responds To Gaza Blog Comments – Look to the Stars.

Jane Goodall Speaks Out Against Plight Of Baboons Used For Research In Kenya‏ – Look to the Stars

An investigation carried out by the BUAV in Kenya uncovered the capture and captivity of wild baboons held at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi under conditions which seriously compromised their welfare and breached international guidelines – including those of the European Directive and the International Primatological Society – before being subjected to disturbing experiments by visiting researchers from the USA and Europe. Some of the baboons were housed on their own in small barren metal cages with no enrichment. Legislation in Kenya relating to animal experiments is outdated and hopelessly inadequate.

via Jane Goodall Speaks Out Against Plight Of Baboons Used For Research In Kenya‏ – Look to the Stars.

Dahr Jamail | Open Source Farming: A Renaissance Man Tackles the Food Crisis

Breskin’s project has already increased the overall profitability of the farm where it is implemented. It has reduced total energy costs by 50 percent by running on around $2 per day; appears likely to have generated a 10-month growing season; has caused productivity increases per square foot and per plant – and appears likely to be expanding soon.

The entire project was built for $10,000, and it has already produced more than that amount in food alone.

But rather than aiming to make money on it, Breskin is more concerned about improving the system and getting it into the hands of more local farmers as quickly as possible.

“I’m open source,” he said. “The only reason to patent this is to keep someone else from patenting it in order to monetize it.”

via Dahr Jamail | Open Source Farming: A Renaissance Man Tackles the Food Crisis.