Ebola Mutation: Lack Of Virus Samples In US Hampers Efforts To Track Its Changes

Elections are over and back to regular programing.  This time Super Ebo is afoot and with a vengance!


   November 05 2014 9:00 AM

Samples of Ebola are in short supply for U.S. scientists who require a fresh, steady stock of the virus to track its changes and to plan ahead for new drugs and vaccines. Much like the flu virus, Ebola mutates, however slightly, as it spreads, and keeping up with those changes is key to stopping new infections and heading off future outbreaks, according to Reuters.

“No one really knows right now what has the virus mutated to or if it has mutated,” Charles Chiu, a microbiologist and infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, told Reuters. “We’re not going to be able to determine in advance whether or not it has changed to a form where it might evade diagnostic assays or might render current vaccines or drugs ineffective” without new samples of the virus, he said.

Moving Ebola samples safely from one place to another is complicated, and transport companies have been wary of working with Ebola because of growing concerns about a U.S. spread of the virus. Doctors in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where infections have topped 13,500 people, have been slow to hand over samples of Ebola, scientists told Reuters, which means U.S. disease specialists studying the virus at eight major research institutions are not getting the latest specimens.

As Ebola continues to spread across West Africa, it has more chances to change and adapt. Scientists identified 341 mutations of the virus as of late August, according to a study published that month in Science. One fear is that the virus could become more transmissible by becoming less pathogenic. A virus that sickens and kills its victims more slowly would leave more time for patients to infect others, National Geographic reported. The biggest nightmare, scientists have said, would be if the virus went airborne, something experts believe is highly unlikely, but not impossible.

Since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began in March, health officials have struggled to keep pace with the ever-changing situation on the ground. The Ebola virus is “moving at the speed of sound,” James Dorbor Jallah, the national coordinator of Liberia’s Ebola Task Force, said in August. However, international aid is moving at the “speed of a snail.” Health officials in Sierra Leone announced Tuesday that the virus had broken out in a new area of the country, raising concerns about a new chain of infections. 




D.C. voters overwhelmingly support legalizing marijuana, joining Colo., Wash.

The Gov needs to mellow out yo…..!  Now they can drink Sam Adams in the mornings to wash the Weed and Hooker Spit taste of their mouths.

November 4 at 11:06 PM

The District followed Colorado and Washington state into a closely watched experiment to legalize marijuana Tuesday, as voters overwhelmingly backed an initiative 7 to 3 allowing cannabis to be consumed and grown in the nation’s capital. The move to allow the drug almost certainly will take effect unless the next Congress blocks it.

Under a voter-proposed measure, known as Initiative 71, residents and visitors age 21 and older will be allowed to legally possess as much as two ounces of marijuana and to grow up to three marijuana plants at home. Leading candidates for mayor and the D.C. Council have vowed to quickly sign the measure into law. A majority of the council also pledged that if approved by voters, they would submit follow-up legislation to Congress next year establishing a system to sell and tax the drug in the District.

The twin measures will become law, as District bills do, unless Congress vetoes them and the president agrees that the local measures should be halted. That complex layer of federal oversight could thrust Congress — which on Tuesday flipped to Republican control — and President Obama into the middle of a rapidly evolving national debate.

In joining two states to bring marijuana into the mainstream — making it nearly akin to alcohol and tobacco — the District’s vote is the latest sign of growing public acceptance of the drug. Advocates have been trying to give marijuana legal status since the 1960s, losing periodic battles with parent groups and to the war on drugs. But the arguments against weed have lost steam, and public opinion has shifted; about 6 percent of Americans use the drug, including one-third of the nation’s high school seniors.

Unlike the arguments about health concerns elsewhere, the legalization debate in the District became fused with weighty issues of civil rights after a series of studies during the past year showed wide disparities in drug arrests: Eighty-eight percent of people convicted of marijuana possession in the city in recent years were black, even as surveys have shown that whites and blacks are equally likely to use the drug.

“The population in the District is certainly different from that in Colorado and Washington state. Here, this has been cast as a racial-justice issue,” said Malik Burnett, a doctor who delayed practicing to organize support for the measure. “This is huge. We’re talking about ending the prohibition of marijuana as a manifestation of the war on drugs, in the birthplace of the war on drugs: Washington, D.C.”

Adam Eidinger, who is a longtime advocate for legalization in the District and who spent $20,000 of his own money to help put the measure on the ballot, said he was thrilled and confident that any pushback from Congress could eventually be overcome.

“This sends a message to the nation that people are finally ready for change,” he said. “If your job is over at 5 o’clock and you want to have cannabis instead of a glass of scotch, so be it.”

Realtor Tom Bryant, 50, who cast a ballot at the Georgetown public library, said he voted yes because he thinks it is “ridiculous for people to go to jail” for a small amount of pot. Katie Holloran, a 37-year-old teacher, said she, too, voted in favor of legalization: “I guess I’ve really never understood why it’s different from something like alcohol.”

Not everyone agreed. Alizonia Leach, who voted Tuesday at Watkins Elementary School, said she had no doubts: “Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no,” she said. “Marijuana is not good for anybody.”

This summer, the District joined 17 states that have decriminalized marijuana. Members of the D.C. Council and Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said they were moved by studies that showed the District’s marijuana-arrest rate was higher than any of the 50 states and ranked seventh nationally among a study of 1,000 counties analyzed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Such studies also helped fuel a complete reversal in public opinion during the past four years among the District’s black residents, who now account for half the city’s population.

According to Washington Post polls this year, roughly 56 percent of likely African American voters said they planned to back legalization. Four years ago, 37 percent were in favor and 55 percent opposed, with many saying they feared greater access could lead to addiction among black youths.

The D.C. Council measure in March that decriminalized marijuana took a first step toward legalization. It stripped away jail time for possession and made it a $25 fine — cheaper than most city parking tickets — and the lowest fine outside of Colorado, Washington state or Alaska. Penalties for public consumption also were lowered to that of carrying an open container of alcohol, punishable by up to 60 days in jail.

But on the District’s iconic federal land, including the Mall, the monuments and streets surrounding the White House, possession remains a federal offense punishable by up to a year in jail.

The District also is home to federal agencies charged with enforcing U.S. drug laws, which still designate marijuana in a class of the most dangerous drugs, worse than cocaine and viewed equal only to the likes of heroin in terms of how addictive they are.

Full legalization of marijuana would set up a conflict with federal law enforcement agencies and Congress. Even advocates of legalization say they can barely imagine a day when the District would resemble Denver, with a proliferation of shops selling marijuana by the bag, in joints or in foods such as cookies or brownies.

Advocates testified at a hearing last week that, given the necessary congressional review and time needed for the D.C. Council to decide how sales would work, the earliest marijuana could be legally purchased in the District would be in early 2016.

Less clear is how Congress will react. After D.C. voters passed a measure allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in 1998, Republicans used amendments to federal budget bills for 11 years to keep the District from enacting the law.

Aaron Davis covers D.C. government and politics for The Post and wants to hear your story about how D.C. works — or how it doesn’t.



Chinese moon probe successfully returns to earth

Will like to see photos from above of the landing site.  I wonder if is that its mission in the first place?

An unmanned Chinese probe successfully returned to earth yesterday after circumnavigating the moon, bolstering the country’s status as a space power.

The probe, officially known as Chang’e 5-T1, broke through the earth’s atmosphere at 6.13am local time on Saturday and landed in Inner Mongolia.

It is the first time in almost 40 years that a spacecraft has returned to earth after travelling around the earth’s only natural satellite.

Dubbed “Xiaofei” or “Little Flyer”, the probe travelled at speeds of up to 25,000mph and was more than 250,000 miles from the earth at its furthest point.

A Soviet-era method, where the craft bounces off the earth’s atmosphere, was used to slow the probe down on its descent to earth and avoid it burning up.

China plans to send another craft to the moon in 2017 to collect soil samples. If successful, China would become only the third country, after the United States and Russia, to accomplish such an achievement.

The rising eastern superpower has already embarked on other space exploration missions, including sending two probes to the moon that did not return, and there are plans for crewed space missions in the future.

One of the country’s rovers, the Jade Rabbit, which reached the moon on 14 December 2013, is still on the satellite’s surface but has failed to complete its mission, after equipment malfunctioned in January this year.

Beijing sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation to independently realise manned space travel.

Additional Reporting by AP



The Weather Channel reaffirms belief in global warming after founder blasts theory on Fox News

Former Blackwater guards found guilty in 2007 Baghdad killings





WASHINGTON — In a sweeping victory for the federal government, a U.S. jury on Wednesday found four former Blackwater guards guilty on nearly every count they faced in connection with the 2007 killings of 14 unarmed Iraqis at a Baghdad traffic circle.

The verdict comes more than seven years after the shooting incident that outraged Iraqis and inflamed anti-American sentiment around the world.

Jurors found three of the ex-guards with the private security company, Paul Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty, guilty of voluntary manslaughter of Iraqis in the shooting at Nisur Square, where the Blackwater unit had been trying to clear a path for a State Department convoy.

It found a fourth guard, Nicholas Slatten, guilty of murder in connection with the first death at the circle.

So far, the jury in Washington has found the four former guards guilty on nearly every count related to the incident, although the verdict was still being handed down.

The 2007 shooting, which came more than four years into a war replete with grisly incidents, stood out for its brazenness and raised questions about the rules governing security contractors working for the U.S. government overseas.

Wednesday’s verdict, which was still being handed down at midday on Wednesday, follows more than seven weeks of deliberations during which jurors considered nearly 100 different questions.

Split between OPEC producers deepens as oil prices fall

Here is some that I find odd.  Refinaries were bombed in Syria and the prices should spiked up?  Just the basics of supply and demand but is the opposite; what is up with that?


Published: Oct 13, 2014 7:45 a.m. ET

A rift between OPEC members deepened over the weekend, as producers in the cartel moved in different directions amid falling oil prices.

Venezuela, which has been one of the most outspoken proponents of a production cut by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, called over the weekend for an emergency meeting of the group to respond to falling prices. But Kuwait said Sunday that OPEC was unlikely to act to rein in output.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, appeared to expand on its recent move to defend its market share at the expense of other members by aggressively courting customers in Europe. Traders said Saudi Arabia is now asking for stronger commitments from some of its buyers in Europe, a move that would lock in those customers, including any new ones it would gain with recent price reductions.

Also on Sunday, Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Company cut the price of Basrah Light crude in November for Asian and European buyers by 65 cents. That marks a discount of $3.15 a barrel below the Oman/Dubai benchmark for Asian customers and $5.40 below the Brent benchmark for European customers, according to official selling prices published by the company.

The moves and countermoves are the latest in a time of particular discord in OPEC. The organization was founded to leverage members’ collective output to help influence global prices. In recent periods of low prices, Saudi Arabia — OPEC’s top producer and de facto leader — has managed to cobble together some level of consensus.

But even modest cooperation between many members has broken down, and Saudi Arabia, in particular, has moved to act on its own. While it cut output earlier this summer, other members didn’t go along. Since then, it has dropped its prices.

Late Friday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, who represents Caracas in the group, called for an urgent meeting to tackle falling prices. The group’s next regular meeting is set for late next month.




U.S. to free up Ebola funds as fears of global spread rise

Ebola wants more money !


By Grant McCool

Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:11pm EDT

(Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers agreed to use $750 million in war funds to fight Ebola in West Africa and seven more people in Spain were admitted to the hospital where an infected nurse lay seriously ill on Friday, as global concern grew about the virus spreading.

Countries from Macedonia to the Czech Republic to Brazil dealt with a rash of unlikely cases while Europe, the United States and the United Nations focused on trying to contain Ebola, which has killed thousands in West Africa.

The death this week of the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and the hospitalization in Spain of a nurse who was the first to contract the virus outside West Africa has changed the perception of Ebola to a global threat from what previously had been seen frequently as a local, African problem.

A top U.N. official said response to a $1 billion funding appeal had been slow and that a surge in trained healthcare personnel was needed to tackle the crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

“Of the $1 billion sought by U.N. agencies…consolidated appeal, only one quarter has been funded,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told a U.N. General Assembly briefing on the Ebola outbreak.

European Union health ministers called an extraordinary meeting for Brussels on Oct. 16 and bolstering airport procedures to better screen passengers arriving from countries affected by the disease will be discussed, said a statement from Italy, which holds the rotating EU presidency.

“The goal is to further increase the ability to respond to the ongoing epidemic and further reduce the risk of contagion in Europe,” the statement said.

In Washington, Republican U.S. Senator James Inhofe said he has approved a shift of $750 million in Defense Department war funds to fight Ebola in West Africa, lifting the final objections to that amount in Congress.

Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the administration of President Barack Obama had failed to plan in advance for the U.S. response in the region. “It will be difficult for me to support any further last-minute funding requests using military resources. That is why I have insisted another more appropriate funding source be identified for operations beyond six months.”


The World Health Organization on Friday updated its death toll for the worst Ebola outbreak on record to 4,033 people out of 8,399 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases in seven countries by the end of Oct. 8. The death toll includes 2,316 in Liberia, 930 in Sierra Leone, 778 in Guinea, eight in Nigeria and 1 in the United States. An unrelated Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo has killed an additional 43 people.

California-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc is making progress in efforts to boost production of the experimental Ebola treatment ZMapp, the company said Friday.

The Spanish nurse, Teresa Romero, was infected in the hospital as she treated two Spanish missionaries who had caught the haemorrhagic fever in West Africa. She remained undiagnosed for days despite reporting her symptoms. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, facing recriminations from labor unions over the health system, said it was extremely unlikely that the disease would spread in Spain.

“Our first priority is Teresa Romero – she is the only person that we know has the illness,” he told reporters on the steps of the specially-adapted Carlos III hospital, surrounded by medical staff. A hospital spokeswoman said 14 people were now under observation or being treated, including Romero’s husband.

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever and is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person, who would suffer severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. About half of people infected have died in the current outbreak, although up to 90 percent of patients have died in previous outbreaks.

Cocoa futures on ICE rallied more than 3 percent on Friday as worries intensified over the potential impact of Ebola on supplies from West Africa.

Meanwhile, growing awareness of the disease and accompanying fears have led to several people being tested as a precaution.

Doctors in Macedonia have “serious indications” that alcohol, not Ebola, may have killed a British man visiting the Balkan country, a senior health official said. Brazil’s health minister said doctors were testing a man from Guinea but he was in “in good shape” and his slight fever has subsided. Tests showed a hospitalized Czech man, who had recently traveled to Liberia, does not have Ebola, officials said.

(Reporting by Sonya Dowsett in Madrid, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, David lawder in Washington, Steve Scherer in Rome and Tom Miles in Geneva; Writing by Grant McCool)