H5N1 tweaks that boost airborne spread could kill half the planet

(Ed note: CIDRAP buried the lead – if modified h5n1 escaped the result could well be catastrophic. And my alarmist headline doesn’t do justice to just how horrendous the event could be. There are better ways to do this work and ways that don’t involve creating Frankenstein variants.)

From CIDRAP News Study: H5N1 tweaks that boost airborne spread

Filed Under: Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) Biosecurity Issues Dual-Use Research Robert Roos | News Editor | CIDRAP News

Apr 14, 2014

Influenza Virion CDC 1

Image: Transmission electron micrograph shows the ultrastructural details of an influenza virus particle. CDC / Erskine Palmer, PhD, & M.L. Martin

In a controversial study published 2 years ago Dutch scientists described a lab-modified strain of H5N1 influenza virus that was capable of airborne transmission among ferrets. Now the same researchers say they have identified five specific mutations that gave the virus this ability, a claim that is renewing debate about the risks of conducting and publishing such experiments.

Writing in Cell, the scientists said they identified two combinations of five mutations that affected specific characteristics of the virus and collectively enabled it to spread by air. They assert that the findings will help in the effort to detect early warning signs of flu strains that could cause a pandemic.

But other experts question the scientific value of the findings and argue that they are not worth the risks involved in conducting such experiments and publishing the full details. They assert that the research poses a risk of either accidental or intentional release of dangerous viruses.

Building on 2012 study

The new study builds on a US-government funded study that was published in June 2012 in Science. In that case, Ron Fouchier, PhD, of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and colleagues described how they used a combination of genetic engineering and serial infection of ferrets to create a mutant H5N1 virus that could spread among the animals without direct contact. Continue reading

hmmm… today in texas…

Is the Army Training to Attack Americans?

It sure looks like it. For it is indeed curious that the Army has built a mock-city that resembles a generic American city. Right down to a church (look at the photo here) and a subway station with DC Metro cars. The cost was $96 million, or about one-quarter the cost of a F-35.

The Army built a fake Iraqi village for training at Ft. Bragg. The Army built a fake Aghani village to train in and the Air Force built one to bomb. Fake Vietnam villages were built at Ft. Lee and Ft. Dix.

Before you go on an anti-Obama rant, this site took six years to plan and build, which implies that the original funds request dates back at least a year or more before that. You might recall who was the president in 2006 through 2008.

Source: http://eb-misfit.blogspot.com/

South Dakota – The Suzerainty of Teananderthalia

where drooling morans rule…

So. Dakota Bill Protects Teaching Intelligent Design in Schools
by John Timmer / Senior Science Editor / Ars Technica

Once again, state legislatures have been turned into battlegrounds by lawmakers who seem intent on slipping religion into the science classroom. As in years past, most of these bills simply seek to protect teachers who introduce spurious criticisms of evolution into their lesson plans. But South Dakota has the distinction of attempting to specifically protect the teaching of intelligent design, something that has already been determined to be unconstitutional following a bruising court defeat.

As tracked by the National Center for Science Education, four states are considering a total of five bills; Missouri has the honor of having two bills going at once, while Virginia and Oklahoma have one. The Virginia bill is fairly typical of these. It would prevent local school boards and administrations from punishing teachers who help students “analyze, critique, and review” scientific theories in their classrooms. In the past, these bills have singled out evolution as a topic that’s meant to be critiquedone Missouri bill still doesbut lately that’s often been dropped in favor of generic language like “scientific controversies” (see, for example, the Oklahoma bill).

Based on the evolutionary history of these bills, it’s clear that they were originally intended to encourage teachers who wished to introduce spurious criticisms of evolution, many of which have been published by the creationist and intelligent design movements. However, in an attempt to avoid legal scrutiny, the bills’ authors have been turning to increasingly generic language.

That said, this year’s bills include two distinct variations on the theme. One is the second Missouri bill, which would require schools to develop “a mechanism where a parent can choose to remove the student from any part of the district’s or school’s instruction on evolution.” And the second is the South Dakota bill, which would see any teacher that introduced intelligent design into their science classroom protected from disciplinary action, even though that instruction has been declared an unconstitutional imposition of religion. “[This bill] is a recipe for disaster,” said NCSE Executive Director Ann Reid. “If enacted, school districts are going to find themselves caught between a rock and a hard placeand they’ll wind up in court.”

If the long-running battle over evolution interests you, stay tuned to Ars. Next Tuesday, we’ll have two reporters at the Creation Museum to watch its founder debate Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

Oh, tell us what you REALLY think… MoA Comment Classic…

“If it is still not apparent to the rest of the world, the US is run by a collection of out-of-control psychopathic Zionist war criminals that have to be treated as such if there is going to be any semblance of peace. Sure, we here can discuss how their actions conform to this or that plan – e.g., the Yinon Plan – etc but taken as a whole and with an large unforgiving eye to the needless murder/maiming/displacement/destruction of millions that the US has been directly responsible for for decades there is in my mind just no sense in even pretending that any rational and humanistic leader/people should countenance much less negotiate/partner with the US and its depraved and sickening representatives as it continues apace on its campaign of terror.

“Everyone should reflexively know that The Global War on Terror is very real but in an – oh so amusing I’m sure to TPTB – twist it’s not AQ or any of the other chimerical villains that are perpetrating it but the US itself and it’s grotesque assortment of hideous war criminals.

“With a massive propaganda battery at their disposal to take the “edge” off of the murder and mayhem until the next round begins, there is no hell hole deep enough for these monsters. I know that bevin and others may disagree but when does the world move beyond the realpolitik and start talking about such quaint terms as justice for those millions of people who have had their lives needlessly destroyed by these subhumans?

“In an amazing Dorian Gray moment at the SOTU address Peace Laureate Obama looked into the shattered monstrous visage of his own soul in regards to the GWOT and everyone in attendance clapped like the bloodthirsty murderers they are without a thought to the millions of people we’ve wrecked beyond the point of being stitched back together. Such spectacles should be enough to signal to the world what type of people are leading the United States of America and they should begin to act/plan accordingly.”

Posted by: JSorrentine | Feb 1, 2014 10:57:18 AM
Moon of Alabama re West sponsoring fascists in Ukraine. Wait for the Sochi games to end cuz Putin’s gonna have a Valentine to deliver…
http://www.moonofalabama.org/

Drought Map for 20140128

Boyo, is California ever in trouble. Keeps up all our veggies are comin’ outta
cans for the duration. Better get your seed catalogues out and plan on tilling
up the entire yard, huh?

Most Disquieting Thing You’ll Encounter For A Long Time

Radical thinking about humanity – Dave Winer @ Scripting News

Yesterday on a walk through frigid Central Park, I listened to a New Yorker podcast interview with Elizabeth Kolbert about how things are going on Planet Earth re extinction of species. The short answer: “Not so good.” We seem to be in the middle of the Sixth Extinction, which is also the title of her book.

Until recently, it was thought that Great Extinctions didn’t happen, that evolution was a slow methodical process, but it was proven by a Berkeley scientist, Walter Alvarez, that the Cretaceous era came to an end because of a meteor hitting the planet. We know this because meteors have lots of iridium and our planet does not. And there’s a layer of iridium in the fossil record right around the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The podcast had a couple of ideas that shook the foundation of my thinking. I like it when that happens, even if I don’t like the message these revelations carry.boyOnDinosaur.gif

First, there’s nothing special about humanity. We’ve only been here about 200,000 years. Long enough to destroy everything, but in the grand scheme of things, when the destruction is finished, the planet will probably evolve new species, a different cast of characters, that do what we do, more or less. It may take tens or hundreds of millions of years to clean up after us. But this is not a problem for the planet. It has the time.

We may be insignificant, but what we are doing re destruction of the planet’s ecology is unprecedented. It’s never before happened here. We don’t know about other planets elsewhere in our galaxy or the universe. But we’re in the process of recreating climates that haven’t existed on earth for 50 million years. That’s something. Not something to be proud of, of course.

Second, the mundane things we do every day, the example she provided was driving to get groceries, are actually totally extraordinary. When we get in the car to run errands we’re burning the bodies of animals that lived millions of years ago. We’re moving the carbon from their bodies from deep below the earth, into the atmosphere and the oceans, transforming them. Destroying old habitats, and creating new ones. This is not something that “natural” processes do. You need a supposedly intelligent species to do this.

Her book is coming out next month. Asked if she was suggesting things we might do to solve the problem, in the book, she says she is deliberately not doing that. My guess is the reason for that is the next epiphany that hit me after digesting a bit of the podcast.

Third, there is nothing we can do. We might as well enjoy consuming the last resources of the planet, and perhaps should turn our attention to leaving an adequate record of our civilization for the next one to come along, millions of years from now, in the hope of helping them avoid the catastrophe that ended us.

BTW, in case you’re feeling guilty — don’t. This process was not caused by anything we consciously did. Certainly not anything you or I did. Just the existence of a species capable of doing such big things was probably enough to destroy life on the planet. You can listen to the podcast and let me know if you hear anything different. It seems this story is full of revelations about our reality.

http://scripting.com/