Category Archives: Viva!

Mexico: 500 years later, scientists discover what killed the Aztecs

Sin Nombre virus and Andes virus both variations of Hanta get my vote. Same symptoms and could arise from over populations of voles or could have evolved from mice and rats that accompanied Spanish – Hanta is endemic in Europe and Asia which given the right conditions can explode – lots of corn, urban population and lack of local predators for new rodents..

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Within five years, 15 million people – 80% of the population – were wiped out in an epidemic named ‘cocoliztli’, meaning pestilence

In 1545 disaster struck Mexico’s Aztec nation when people started coming down with high fevers, headaches and bleeding from the eyes, mouth and nose. Death generally followed in three or four days.

Within five years as many as 15 million people – an estimated 80% of the population – were wiped out in an epidemic the locals named “cocoliztli”. The word means pestilence in the Aztec Nahuatl language. Its cause, however, has been in questioned for nearly 500 years.

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Flake compares Trump to Joseph Stalin, takes anti-Trump message to MSNBC, CNN

jeffflake26247385123*100xx1066-1066-267-U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., will compare U.S. President Donald Trump’s treatment and rhetoric towards the news media to that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in an upcoming speech.

Flake is a Trump critic and isn’t running for reelection.

The Arizona Republican went on politically left MSNBC and CNN (one of Trump’s biggest media foils) this weekend to promote his upcoming speech.

Flake doesn’t like Trump calling the press the “enemy of the people.”

Trump has used that when calling…

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Donald Trump: ‘I’m not a racist’ – video

Like when Nixon said he was not a crook!

The US president responds to the furore surrounding his recent comments calling Haiti and African countries ‘shitholes’, telling reporters: ‘I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.’ Donald Trump was accused of using the vulgar word during an Oval Office meeting last week with a bipartisan group of six senators. People briefed on the conversation also say that during the meeting the president questioned the need to admit more Haitians to the US

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Erdoğan accuses US of planning to form ‘terror army’ in Syria

Learning from #TraitorTrump how to lie big

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‘Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born’, says Turkish president of 30,000-strong force aimed at protecting territory held by Kurds

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has accused the US of forming a “terror army”, after Washington announced plans for a 30,000-strong force inside Syria to protect territory held by its mainly Kurdish allies.

On Sunday, the US-led coalition said it was working with its Syrian militia allies, the mainly Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to set up the new border force. The force would operate along the borders with Turkey and Iraq, as well as within Syria along the Euphrates river, which separates most SDF territory from that held by the government. The announcement was one of the few insights into the Trump administration’s longer-term thinking for Syria.

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LeBron James says Donald Trump has allowed racists to operate without fear

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  • NBA star uses Martin Luther King Day to attack US president
  • James praises King for contribution to American society

LeBron James has spoken about the corrosive effects of racism – and aimed criticism at Donald Trump – on Martin Luther King Day.

“The state of racism will never die, but what we cannot do is allow it to conquer us as people,” James said before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ game against the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. “We can’t allow it to divide us. The guy in control has given people and racism … an opportunity to be out and outspoken without fear. And that’s the fearful thing for us because it’s with you, and it’s around every day, but he’s allowed people to come out and just feel confident about doing negative things. We can’t allow that to stop us from continuing to be together and preach the right word of living and loving and laughing and things of that nature. Because would we want to live anywhere else? I don’t think so. We love this place.”

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PLoS One: Effectiveness of HPAI H5N1 Vaccination in Poultry – Indonesia

The problem cannot be solved via vaccination – given the diversity and greed in the global market.

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With H5N6, H5N8, H5N1 and an array of lesser HPAI H5 viruses continuing to expand globally we’ve seen desperate pleas from some hard hit farmers to allow the use of poultry AI vaccines (see South Africa: DAFF Statement On Vaccines For Avian Flu and USDA Issues 2nd Request for Proposals for HPAI Vaccine)

With the exception of China, Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong, most countries eschew the use of bird flu vaccines, and opt instead for the OIE recommended course of culling and containment.

The reasons run the gamut from fears that poultry vaccines may only mask bird flu – not prevent it – to concerns over selling vaccinated  birds to foreign markets.  Once vaccinated, antibody tests would show positive titres, whether the birds were infected or not.

Reasons why, for more than a decade, the OIE has warned that vaccination of poultry cannot be considered a long-term solution to combating avian flu. And that “Any decision to use vaccination must include an exit strategy, i.e. conditions to be met to stop vaccination. – OIE on H7N9 Poultry Vaccines.

Countries that have gone the vaccine route over the past dozen years haven’t found an easy way to that `exit strategy’ – and while vaccine use may have them spared some economic pain – avian influenza has become increasingly entrenched in their poultry industries. 

The problem is that as avian viruses evolve, poultry vaccines become increasingly less effective; often only masking the symptoms of infection.

As an example, a 2012 study (see Egypt: A Paltry Poultry Vaccine), examined the effectiveness of six commercially available H5 poultry vaccines used in Egypt; only one (based on a locally acquired H5N1 seed virus) actually appeared to offer protection.

Poor vaccine matches can allow AI viruses to spread silently among flocks, to continue to reassort and evolve, and potentially lead to the emergence new subtypes of avian flu. A few earlier blogs on that include:

Subclinical Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus Infection among Vaccinated Chickens, China).

Study: Recombinant H5N2 Avian Influenza Virus Strains In Vaccinated Chickens

EID Journal: Subclinical HPAI In Vaccinated Poultry – China

We’ve a new study, published late last week in PLoS One, that looks at the effectiveness of HPAI H5 vaccination in Indonesia, a country once known as the world’s hot spot for human H5N1 infection, but now (for reasons cloaked in mystery) has fallen off that list. 

Since Indonesia declared bird flu `endemic’ in 2006, they haven’t had to make regular OIE reports – and so like from Egypt – we get relatively little solid reporting on their bird flu struggles in recent years. 

Today’s report, however, paints a less than impressive picture of poultry vaccination effectiveness in Indonesia over the past decade. The authors cite frequent low HI titres in poultry even after three rounds of vaccines, vaccination failures, and warn of silent infections and the generation of new H5N1 antigenic variants. 

While the authors recommend steps they believe would improve Indonesia’s AI vaccine performance, the upshot is that effective poultry vaccination programs have been elusive in Indonesia even after a decade of use, and are far more complex to mount than most people believe.

I’ve only included some of the highlights from a much longer study, follow the link to read the paper in its entirety.

Field effectiveness of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 vaccination in commercial layers in Indonesia 

Simson Tarigan ,Michael Haryadi Wibowo,Risa Indriani,Sumarningsih Sumarningsih, Sidna Artanto, Syafrison Idris,Peter A. Durr, Widya Asmara, Esmaeil Ebrahimie,Mark A. Stevenson,Jagoda Ignjatovic

Abstract

Although vaccination of poultry for control of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1 has been practiced during the last decade in several countries, its effectiveness under field conditions remains largely unquantified. Effective HPAI vaccination is however essential in preventing incursions, silent infections and generation of new H5N1 antigenic variants. 

The objective of this study was to asses the level and duration of vaccine induced immunity in commercial layers in Indonesia. Titres of H5N1 haemagglutination inhibition (HI) antibodies were followed in individual birds from sixteen flocks, age 18–68 week old (wo).

The study revealed that H5N1 vaccination had highly variable outcome, including vaccination failures, and was largely ineffective in providing long lasting protective immunity.

Flocks were vaccinated with seven different vaccines, administer at various times that could be grouped into three regimes: In regime A, flocks (n = 8) were vaccinated two or three times before 19 wo; in regime B (n = 2), two times before and once after 19 wo; and in regime C (n = 6) three to four times before and two to three times after 19 wo. HI titres in regime C birds were significantly higher during the entire observation period in comparison to titres of regime A or B birds, which also differed significantly from each other. 

The HI titres of individual birds in each flock differed significantly from birds in other flocks, indicating that the effectiveness of field vaccination was highly variable and farm related. Protective HI titres of >4log2, were present in the majority of flocks at 18 wo, declined thereafter at variable rate and only two regime C flocks had protective HI titres at 68 wo. 

Laboratory challenge with HPAIV H5N1 of birds from regime A and C flocks confirmed that protective immunity differed significantly between flocks vaccinated by these two regimes. The study revealed that effectiveness of the currently applied H5N1 vaccination could be improved and measures to achieve this are discussed.

         (SNIP)

Conclusions

HPAI vaccination, intensively applied in Sector 3 layers in Indonesia, had highly variable outcome, including vaccination failures and did not provide sufficiently long protective immunity in the majority of flocks. Indonesia adopted HPAI vaccination in 2004 with the aim of reducing the incidence of H5N1 infections in poultry, with the ultimate objective of achieving eradication of the virus.

Assessment of field effectiveness of the currently applied H5N1 vaccination was useful in demonstrating that vaccination, as practiced in Sector 3 poultry, could be improved. In particular, we have identified that the most frequently used vaccination regime, consisting of three vaccinations before 19 wo, does not provide sufficiently long lasting immunity and protection of layers with any of the commonly used HPAI vaccines.

Instead, four or five vaccinations, of which two are during the laying period at 26–28 and 40–48 wo, would ensure longer lasting protection and further reduce the risk from exogenously introduced H5N1 infections. Monitoring the level of immunity in vaccinated flocks would help to identify key factors that contribute to inadequate responses to vaccination, short duration of protective immunity and vaccination failures. The timing of re-vaccination could be adjusted according to the flock immunity, ensuring an effective response and longer lasting protective immunity.

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Aussie Flu, UK Flu – who cares? Get vaccinated.

Some thoughts from Dr Katherine Arden and myself  about where the flu viruses sweeping the UK came from.

Is it the “Aussie flu”? The short answer is simply “No”. There is an influenza type B virus dominating the UK right now, not an influenza type A virus. It was A (H3N2) viruses which dominated in Aus this past Flu season.

The longer answer (but please do go and read the entire piece!) is that it’s not easy to tell in a heavily travelled world constantly and rapidly producing and moving flu strains around it.

The 2017-18 influenza season has been large all over the world.

“I didn’t get accepted into any of the universities that I…

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“I didn’t get accepted into any of the universities that I wanted, and I ended up going to a lesser quality school. I hated being there. On the first day, I thought about buying a plane ticket and going home. I felt like I had nothing in common with the people around me. I felt like they belonged and I didn’t. My plan was just to survive– get through six lectures a day, keep to myself, and get back to my dorm room as soon as possible. I didn’t even talk to my own roommate. I’m ashamed of it now. I was so rude and self-centered, and it ended up making me lonely and miserable. I felt depressed. I was barely sleeping. Then one night I overheard my roommate talking on the phone with her mother. And I could tell she was having family problems. After she hung up, we stayed up all night talking. I told her that I was having a hard time too. She became my best friend after that night. We’d have dinner together. Whenever I left the room, she’d ask me where I was going. It felt so good to have someone worry about me. It’s been an important six months for me. I’ve realized how much I need other people. By not valuing the people around me, I was only hurting myself.”

(Mumbai, India)

Lebanon Bans Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” Because Of His Support of Israel, Proving The Country Is Run By Stone Age Airheads

At the rate Lebanon’s censorship bureau has been going for the past year, the country might as well have rang in 1918 instead of 2018, because the situation has become unacceptable.

The latest victim of a censorship bureau that doesn’t want to upset what’s becoming a form of cultural terrorism in the country is Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” a stunning drama that is absolutely VITAL to be seen today.

The reason why Lebanon has an issue with Spielberg is both anti-semitic and because of the country’s anti-Israel laws. When Spielberg’s Tintin was released, his name was struck out from the poster in order to upset anyone due to his last name’s obvious Jewish background. His name was eventually added to the blacklist of the Arab League’s Central Boycott (of Israel) Office because of a donation he made to the Zionist state in 2006.

Yes, Spielberg making donations to Israel is abhorrent, but he’s not the only Hollywood figure to do so, nor will he be the last. When and where do we draw the ridiculous line about what we ban and allow in this country when it pertains to Israel, because this sure as hell is pushing it. An American director, with no ties to the country in question except for his religion, makes a contribution to the country like thousands of other Westerners and Americans do, and he’s suddenly persona non-grata?

To make matters worse, the decision to add Spielberg to that Arab ban list occurred in 2007. He’s had countless movies released in the area since, without any form of controversy. He has been director and producer of many movies that were released without a glitch in the area. Of those movies, I list: Transformers, The BFG, Bridge of Spies, Jurrasic World, Lincoln, etc…

Over the past 10 years, Lebanon has screened SIXTEEN movies in which Spielberg was either directing or producing. And here comes 2018, with Lebanon’s BDS office finding new muscle in our government, and the country won’t be able to get any of his movies ever again.

I would call such a ban illogical, but those calling for him to be blanket banned don’t really understand logic. They are the same people who believe Gal Gadot’s existence in a movie is a covert attempt at spreading zionism into the subconscious of the Arab masses, except in Gal Gadot’s case the argument was that she was actually Israeli, whereas in Spielberg’s case, the affront is an association to the n’th degree, just to appease to some people’s hypersensitivity, but I digress.

Being in the United States, I had the pleasure to watch “The Post” in its opening weekend a few days ago. The movie, set in the 1970s, features legends Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the owner and editor of the Washington Post at that time, respectively, as they try to reveal government secrets about the Vietnam War, during Nixon’s White House, as he attempts to silence the press.

The movie, based on a true story, is exceedingly important in today’s day and age where freedom of speech, the press, and the important of expression are all threatened. The irony of a movie about fighting off censorship being censored in a country that is developing a knee-jerk response to anything that ruffles its feathers should not escape you.

What we have in Lebanon is a bunch of airheads in power, whose brains only function in binaries, and who can’t appreciate enough nuances to be able to distinguish between cause to ban (which should never exist, but it’s Lebanon) and not. Instead, The Post is the second movie to be banned this week after Daniel Radcliffe’s “Jungle” also receives the same fate, when it’s discovered that the screenwriter, and some of the people involved in the making of the movie are Israelis.

To expect any movie coming in from the U.S. to be Israel-free is non-sensical. To expect any media import that we get from the big bad West to be Israel free is stupid. What’s next, banning everything that breathes because of a positive opinion they have of the Jewish state? I’m willing to bet those calling for the movie to be banned have watched countless Steven Spielberg movies before.

I expect this bullshit we’re dealing with not to decrease over the next few months, but to further perpetuate like the rabid fire it’s becoming. The next Nathalie Portman movie? Forget about it. Anything featuring Gal Gadot? Forget about that either. Any Steven Spielberg movie coming up after The Post? Nope. It’s just sad.

Again, I reiterate what I’ve said countless times before. Boycotts are not bans. Boycotts add to whatever message the BDS folks want to propagate in the country, whilst bans do the exact opposite. With every single movie they cause to be banned, they lose more people who’d be willing to support them. But I guess they don’t really care about that, either.

The hypocrisy of banning movies in Lebanon because they’re an easy target should not escape anyone. There are products distributed in the market, and imprinted in everyone’s personal life, that are also related in one way or another to Israel, but BDS’ dependency on such products will never have them call for bans.

The lines that movies can’t cross in this country are increasing by the day. “Call Me By Your Name,” the year’s best movie, won’t be released because of its LGBT theme. Movies are banned because Israel. Movies are banned because they upset Christian or Muslim clergy. At this rate, there’s no point in cinema in this country anymore.

Until then, enjoy streaming the movie online or buying it for $2 at your local bootleg DVD store. The biggest loser in all of this bullshit is that Lebanese distributor, in this case Italia Films, that already bought the rights for the movie and will be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, as did Joseph Chacra with Wonder Woman, just because we have easily-influenced entities in offices of power, without any ounce of backbone whatsoever.