Tweeting the vomitzvah

1985146129 f534965b33 450x337 Tweeting the vomitzvah

Politeness is our watchword. (img by passiveaggressivenotes)

It’s becoming common for first responses to fast-moving crises—terrorist acts, emergencies, natural disasters—to arrive over fast-moving social-media channels. Social media was critical in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in eastern Turkey in October, where survivors used Twitter to let people know they were alive. During the Virginia Tech shooting in December, the Twitter feed of school newspaper the Collegiate Times kept students aware of police activity on campus, including when the SWAT team announced there were no suspicious people inside the Student Centre building.

Read the whole article at Wired.

Social media and direct quick messaging can be used to promote mayhem as well, as RIM is finding out in the aftermath of last year’s London riots. (more…)

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Genetically-Engineered Supervirus: H1N000000!

4637463948 a07ff2aaee z 450x337 Genetically Engineered Supervirus: H1N000000!

This plush eyeball nugget dangling from a chain of monkeys makes more sense than synthesizing a killer flu. (img by scanlime)

A group of scientists is pushing to publish research about how they created a man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out civilisation.

The deadly virus is a genetically tweaked version of the H5N1 bird flu strain, but is far more infectious and could pass easily between millions of people at a time.

The research has caused a storm of controversy and divided scientists, with some saying it should never have been carried out.

The research does bring up a load of moral questions, and really makes me wonder how many people haven’t read King’s The Stand. I’d certainly think twice about creating a superflu if I had to go to Boulder, CO after somehow lucking into being one of a few thousand people worldwide to survive. That town makes me stabby. (more…)

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US Customs ignoring pests, diseases in War on Terror

srt4 US Customs ignoring pests, diseases in War on Terror

By Tracie Cone, AP

Dozens of foreign insects and plant diseases slipped undetected into the United States in the years after 9/11, when authorities were so focused on preventing another attack that they overlooked a pest explosion that threatened the quality of the nation’s food supply.

At the time, hundreds of agricultural scientists responsible for stopping invasive species at the border were reassigned to anti-terrorism duties in the newly formed Homeland Security Department—a move that scientists say cost billions of dollars in crop damage and eradication efforts from California vineyards to Florida citrus groves.

The consequences come home to consumers in the form of higher grocery prices, substandard produce and the risk of environmental damage from chemicals needed to combat the pests.

An Associated Press analysis of inspection records found that border-protection officials were so engrossed in stopping terrorists that they all but ignored the country’s exposure to destructive new insects and infections—a quietly growing menace that has been attacking fruits and vegetables and even prized forests ever since. (more…)

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HPV vaccination recommended for 11- to 12-year-old boys

Vaccination+wikicommons3 HPV vaccination recommended for 11  to 12 year old boys
By Jason Harris, Infectious Disease News

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved a routine recommendation in favor of administering the quadrivalent HPV vaccine for boys aged 11 to 12 years. The vote was 13-0 with one abstention.

Committee members decided that the vaccine (Gardasil, Merck) was safe, efficacious and cost-effective enough to warrant routine usage in this population. The recommendation issued in 2009 was permissive, meaning providers could give the vaccine to boys, but it was not routinely administered. This change would put the HPV vaccine into the regular vaccination schedule. The three-vaccination series can start as early as age 9 years.

“The committee recommended that routine vaccination of males aged 11 or 12 years with three doses of quadrivalent vaccine be given to prevent HPV infection and HPV-related disease,” Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a phone call with reporters. “Boys and young men 13 to 21 years of age who have not already received the vaccine should be vaccinated.” (more…)

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